What Did Obama Mean by Change?

No reporter has ever asked him as far as I know. I don't know if any will ask this time around. What did you mean by "Change" anyway? He ran a whole campaign on it and does anyone really know what Barack Obama meant he was going to change?

 

I'm in the camp that he hasn't changed a damn thing. People will counter with Lilly Ledbetter. It's a lovely law, but does anyone really believe that's what was meant by the grandiose statement "Change"?

Of course I use Lilly Ledbetter as a symbol. President Obama obviously has more accomplishments than that. He really did change the laws and many people's perceptions on gay rights for example. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is history. The government is no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act. And the President of the United States is finally for gay marriage. But did people really think Senator Obama meant he would change gay rights legislation? Is that what the 2008 election was about?

A little bit of financial reform (which so far has proven to be as ineffectual as progressive critics predicted) certainly doesn't qualify as "Change." Thirty million more Americans insured -- maybe, hopefully, by 2014 -- is a good thing. Is it transformational? Has Washington changed as we know it? Have we gotten "Change"?

Here is the common sense interpretation of what "Change" is -- changing the way Washington works. In fact, this is exactly what was promised, specifically by Barack Obama. He even made a campaign ad about it: http://www.youtube.com/...

That's an example of the same old game playing in Washington. I don't want to learn how to play the game better; I want to put an end to the game playing.

And by God, what have you done to that effect? I would venture to say, almost without refutation, absolutely nothing. Even the most ardent Obama supporter can't in good conscience or sound mental state argue that President Obama has changed the way Washington works. He's just played the game a little better, if you're being charitable on how you keep score on that count.

But here's what should really burn you up -- he hasn't even tried. Not even close. Has there been a single piece of legislation backed by the White House that would stop the way lobbyists or big corporate interests or any special interest groups buy our politicians? In 93% of the cases, the person with more money wins their Congressional race. Democrat or Republican. Obviously the controlling factor is not ideology, party or even votes. It's money. And it's obvious.

And the president has done what to "Change" that?

Nonetheless, I'm insanely optimistic and naïve. So, I say we give him one more chance. But there is no way you should just trust him and hope for the best. He has to actually do something this time instead of just hanging a campaign placard up.

Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky has introduced a bipartisan bill that would amend the constitution to say that money cannot control our elections. Will the president make this one of his top priorities? Will he campaign on it? Will he do everything in his power to pass it if he is re-elected?

If he does, then we should let bygones be bygones. The slate is wiped clean and God bless second terms and the concept of redemption. If the president makes a real effort on the campaign trail to emphasize this as one of his core issues, then progressives should turn out to do everything they can to get him elected, whether it's voting, donating or volunteering. We're not asking for much in return -- just deliver on your original promise.

On the other hand, if he can't even do this, then it's obvious that the Democrats will never, ever help us. It will be painfully clear that they are part of the same corrupt system and have no interest in ever changing it. In fact, they love that system because it is what keeps them in office.

But this is not a decision for me to make. It is for the president. Which way will he go? Will he continue to play small-bore politics? Will he continue his rhetorical games and hope we don't realize that he is being too clever by half? Will he play the same old Washington games and hope to play them just a little better? Or will he actually lead and bring us real change?

Despite all the broken promises and all the cute political tricks, I still have the audacity of hope. I'm just waiting for President Obama to put it out one last time, so we can really go to war against Washington -- all of it. Democrats and Republicans alike. The public has a pox ready for both of their houses and only one man has the antidote. Let's see what he does.

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Voters Want Obama's Clean Energy Plan

Another major poll has confirmed that American voters across the political spectrum welcome clean energy development. It also found that when given the facts, the majority of Democrats and Independents oppose the Keystone XL pipeline for dirty tar sands oil.

The support for clean energy isn’t news—many pollsters have determined that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents embrace clean energy and want to develop more of it. But the timing of this latest poll is instructive.  

It should remind candidates that clean energy is a mobilizing issue. It offers a positive way to address voters’ biggest concerns right now: jobs, economic growth, and the health of our families.  

But as NRDC’s Action Fund mapped out in the report “Running Clean,” in order to win on clean energy, candidates can’t just name check the issue.  

They have to lead on it. They have to offer a vision for America’s clean energy future, and they have to do it before their opponents frame the issue for them.  

This latest poll, conducted by Geoff Garin and Allan Rivlin of Hart Research, focused on four swing states: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio. Those same four states have been bombarded with ads funded by oil companies attacking President Obama. And yet the poll found that 45 percent of voters trust the president more than the Republican Congress when it comes to energy issues. The GOP-led House only got 38 percent on energy.  

The poll also asked voters if they supported the president’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. At first, voters opposed his decision by 43 to 32 percent. But when pollsters offered more detailed arguments for and against the pipeline, things changed. More voters started to back the president and resist the pipeline.  

Of those, 79 percent of Democrats thought the president was right to deny the pipeline, while 9 percent did not. Forty-eight percent of Independents agreed with the president’s decision to reject it, compared to 33 percent who want it go forward. For Republicans, the split was 69 percent to 13 percent.  

GOP supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline have been out front with their message over the past few weeks. They have been using wildly inflated jobs numbers and downplaying the fact that much of the tar sands oil would be imported out of the U.S. to other markets. But their story seemed to break through.  

Media Matters released a survey analyzing coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline from August 1 to December 31, 2011. A full 79 percent of the time, broadcast news reporting on Keystone XL interviewed a pipeline proponent.  They interviewed a critic of the tar sands pipeline only 7 percent of the time.  

With coverage like that, it’s no wonder voters aren’t getting the whole story. But when they learn more—like that the pipeline will create as few as 2,500 jobs according to a Cornell University study, will increase gas prices in the Midwest, and send its dirty oil to the “Foreign Trade Zone” in Port Arthur, Texas, where companies get incentives to export around the world, then their opposition grows. The Hart Research poll confirms it.  

But leaders have to get their message out about why the dirty stuff hurts America and why clean energy helps it grow. Voters respond to the clean-versus-dirty message, but candidates have to deliver that message clearly and quickly. This isn’t just about the race in November; this is the race every day to frame the debate first.  

Obama has done a masterful job of framing the benefits of the clean energy economy. He consistently says clean energy can deliver more jobs, safer air, and a bigger competitive advantage for Americans businesses, and he enacts policies—from clean car standards to incentives for wind and solar power—that are delivering those benefits right now. He believes so strongly in the appeal of clean energy that he made it the topic of his first presidential campaign ad last month.  

In the end, this isn’t about campaign rhetoric. It’s about our country’s future. The polls show that Americans trust Obama on energy issues and support his clean energy plan. They are giving him permission to lead the nation into a cleaner future.  

The dirty tar sands pipeline has no place in that future. But if Obama continues to head down the cleaner path, voters will follow.

Voters Want Obama's Clean Energy Plan

Another major poll has confirmed that American voters across the political spectrum welcome clean energy development. It also found that when given the facts, the majority of Democrats and Independents oppose the Keystone XL pipeline for dirty tar sands oil.

The support for clean energy isn’t news—many pollsters have determined that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents embrace clean energy and want to develop more of it. But the timing of this latest poll is instructive.  

It should remind candidates that clean energy is a mobilizing issue. It offers a positive way to address voters’ biggest concerns right now: jobs, economic growth, and the health of our families.  

But as NRDC’s Action Fund mapped out in the report “Running Clean,” in order to win on clean energy, candidates can’t just name check the issue.  

They have to lead on it. They have to offer a vision for America’s clean energy future, and they have to do it before their opponents frame the issue for them.  

This latest poll, conducted by Geoff Garin and Allan Rivlin of Hart Research, focused on four swing states: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio. Those same four states have been bombarded with ads funded by oil companies attacking President Obama. And yet the poll found that 45 percent of voters trust the president more than the Republican Congress when it comes to energy issues. The GOP-led House only got 38 percent on energy.  

The poll also asked voters if they supported the president’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. At first, voters opposed his decision by 43 to 32 percent. But when pollsters offered more detailed arguments for and against the pipeline, things changed. More voters started to back the president and resist the pipeline.  

Of those, 79 percent of Democrats thought the president was right to deny the pipeline, while 9 percent did not. Forty-eight percent of Independents agreed with the president’s decision to reject it, compared to 33 percent who want it go forward. For Republicans, the split was 69 percent to 13 percent.  

GOP supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline have been out front with their message over the past few weeks. They have been using wildly inflated jobs numbers and downplaying the fact that much of the tar sands oil would be imported out of the U.S. to other markets. But their story seemed to break through.  

Media Matters released a survey analyzing coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline from August 1 to December 31, 2011. A full 79 percent of the time, broadcast news reporting on Keystone XL interviewed a pipeline proponent.  They interviewed a critic of the tar sands pipeline only 7 percent of the time.  

With coverage like that, it’s no wonder voters aren’t getting the whole story. But when they learn more—like that the pipeline will create as few as 2,500 jobs according to a Cornell University study, will increase gas prices in the Midwest, and send its dirty oil to the “Foreign Trade Zone” in Port Arthur, Texas, where companies get incentives to export around the world, then their opposition grows. The Hart Research poll confirms it.  

But leaders have to get their message out about why the dirty stuff hurts America and why clean energy helps it grow. Voters respond to the clean-versus-dirty message, but candidates have to deliver that message clearly and quickly. This isn’t just about the race in November; this is the race every day to frame the debate first.  

Obama has done a masterful job of framing the benefits of the clean energy economy. He consistently says clean energy can deliver more jobs, safer air, and a bigger competitive advantage for Americans businesses, and he enacts policies—from clean car standards to incentives for wind and solar power—that are delivering those benefits right now. He believes so strongly in the appeal of clean energy that he made it the topic of his first presidential campaign ad last month.  

In the end, this isn’t about campaign rhetoric. It’s about our country’s future. The polls show that Americans trust Obama on energy issues and support his clean energy plan. They are giving him permission to lead the nation into a cleaner future.  

The dirty tar sands pipeline has no place in that future. But if Obama continues to head down the cleaner path, voters will follow.

GOP Not Allowed to Talk About the "Will of the Public"

John Boehner can't stop talking about the "will of the public" these days. Now that the Republicans have won the House, he keeps saying over and over that the Democrats must go along with Republican plans from now on because they have to listen to the... will of the public.

Well, here's what I don't remember -- the Republicans giving a damn about the will of the public after the 2008 elections. The American people spoke as loudly and clearly as I have ever seen in any election in my lifetime. They gave the House and the Senate by overwhelming margins to the Democrats. They also gave the Democrats the White House, and along with it, complete control of Washington. And did the Republicans listen to the will of the public, then? No, they blocked that will at every turn.

So, you'll excuse me now if I'm not buying the sudden increased interest the GOP has in listening to the American people and the results of an election. They never for one second respected the results of the 2008 election. They didn't give a damn what the American people wanted.

And that's their right as the opposition party, but they don't get to pretend now that they respect the results of an election and take it as a mandate to go in a certain political direction. And the Democrats would be damned fools if they fell for that trick.

By the way, the GOP has a funny definition of what the American people want. Here is the popularity, according to recent polls, of the different pieces of legislation they just opposed:

  1. Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- 77%
  1. START Treaty -- 67%
  1. Dream Act -- 54%
  1. Tax Cuts for Only the Middle Class and Not the Rich -- 67%
  1. 9/11 Responders Bill -- 99% (no polling on this, but who on God's green earth was against this)

By the way, the Obama administration has been given tremendous credit by the media for passing three out of five of these priorties. Really? Not one of the things they got through had popularity less than 67%. In fact, they conceded to the Republicans on an issue where they had two-thirds of the country behind them (no tax cuts for the rich).

The Republicans certainly don't get any credit for these bills passing despite their best efforts. In fact, they opposed these universally popular proposals -- and defeated some of them. And they spent the last two years completely and utterly ignoring the will of the voters. So, the next time they come with that nonsense line, someone should shove the real truth down their throats.

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