Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Fireside chat for September 11, 2010 (VIDEO)

The President marks the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as a National Day of Service and Remembrance to honor those who lost their lives.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The President's Press Conference of September 10, 2010 (VIDEO)

I have to say, it was a damn good Press Conference.

No, the President did fine. It was the Press that impressed me. They asked serious, tough, direct, straightforward questions about (gasp) revelant National issues.

Slightly duller Austan Goolsebee (VIDEO)

This was from Wednesday, fresh off the Cleveland speech. Austan answering questions on a live chat. Not as funny as he usually is, especially on the "Socialist" question they got, but still...

Austan Goolsbee: "Great Depression-Land. Worst Amusement Park ever"

I know. I've put some of this stuff up before, but now that Austan Goolsebee is the head of the Council of Economic Advisers, I thought it was time for a refresher in the man's Daily Show appearances:

Part 1 from his appearance on August 11, 2009:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Austan Goolsbee Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Part 2 from his appearance on August 11, 2009:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Austan Goolsbee Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

And from his appearance six months later on February 1, 2010:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Austan Goolsbee
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

"We don't differentiate between them and us. It's just us." (VIDEO)

The full video for the Press Conference will still be posted later today, but I wanted to highlight and underline the same piece of footage that TPM is celebrating right now, and rightfully so. The President just put it as plainly as it can be put: there is no them and us, there's just us:

From the TPM Story:

President Obama concluded his press conference today with a statement on the importance of protecting the rights of American Muslims. "We don't differentiate between them and us," he said. "It's just us. And that is a principle that I think is going to be very important for us to sustain."

Obama was asked about the controversial Park51 Islamic center, and said: "I think I've been pretty clear on my position here. And that is: This country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal, that they have certain inalienable rights, and one of those inalienable rights is to practice their religion freely."

"What that means," he continued, "is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site."

"We've got millions of Muslim Americans, our fellow citizens in this country," Obama said. "They're going to school with our kids. They're our neighbors. They're our friends. They're our coworkers. And when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?"

He continued that there are also Muslims fighting in Afghanistan: "They're out there putting their lives on the line for us, and we've got to make sure that we are crystal clear for our sakes and their sakes -- they are Americans, and we honor their service."

Our Jarheads come through...

Looks like the U.S. Marines took on a ship full of Somali Pirates, and took 'em down without firing a shot:

U.S. Marine commandos stormed a pirate-held cargo ship off the Somalia coast Thursday, reclaiming control and taking nine prisoners without firing a shot in the first such boarding raid by the international anti-piracy flotilla, U.S. Navy officials said.

The mission - using small craft to reach the deck of German-owned vessel as the crew huddled in a safe room below - ranks among the most dramatic high seas confrontations with pirates by the task force created to protect shipping lanes off lawless Somalia.

The crew managed to kill the engines before taking refuge in an panic room-style chamber, leaving the ship adrift and the pirates so frustrated they started damaging equipment after hijacking the vessel Wednesday, Navy officials and the ship's operator say.

Lt. John Fage, a spokesman at the U.S. Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, described the pre-dawn raid as an "air and sea" assault that included Cobra attack helicopters for surveillance and coordination.

Marine Corps officers involved in the raid told reporters in a conference call that the attack involved "overwhelming force" and the element of surprise. Marines were able to separate the pirates and confront them singly or in small groups, while helicopters bore down.

Wow. Good freakin' job, guys.

How come this didn't make the News last night??

Oh, that's right. The news has been cancelled.

News Alert: Press Conference at 11:00am Eastern.

The President's holding a Press Conference at 11:00am Eastern, 8am Pacific. I'll post the video when I get it.

It's beginning to look a lot like Elizabeth Warren...

After all the back and forth on Elizabeth Warren the last few weeks, it's starting to look like (emphasize: look like) we're heading for some kind of resolution on the matter.

Basically, I think the President is about to make a pick to head the Consumer Protection Agency. When anything will be announced, I don't know.

First in actual news, White House funny-man Austan Goolsbee has been tapped as the head of the Council of Economic Advisers. Which is good. Despite the fact that Goolsbee is a University of Chicago grad, it doesn't seem that the worst elements of that school have completely rubbed off on him.

And in speculative news, it seems that Elizabeth Warren met with President. Of course since I, or Huffington Post for that matter, were not directly privy to the nature of the meeting, anything could have happened, and Lord knows HuffPo isn't tracking any other candidate (and they're out there).

It had been speculated that since there's a lack of women in Obama's Economic Team, if he picked Goolsbee, he'd need to pick a woman at a flashy position to balance things out.

Well, he's picked Goolsbee.

...and Elizabeth Warren ain't going back to her day job at Harvard.

...and she's meeting with the President.

You do the math.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Listening Problem...

Erza Klein:

Matt Bai blames the Democrats' plight in part on a rhetorical failure of the president. The economic crisis, Bai says, was an opportunity to deliver "one of his trademark orations to an anxious public...explaining then that the country had to respond in two related but distinct ways — first by spending hundreds of billions of dollars in the short term to avoid a depression, and then by making a series of large-scale investments over time that would modernize the foundation of the economy."

Jon Chait, sensibly enough, quotes four major speeches where President Obama said exactly those things. And you could of course quote others. The fact that the economic crisis required both short- and long-term measures has been among their major themes since the beginning. They even put it in the name of the stimulus bill: It was called the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act." It's just that no one listened.

To read pundits talking about presidential speeches, you'd think there was a statute requiring every American to watch every presidential address and then score a 75 percent or higher on a quiz testing their listening skills. In fact, pretty much no one watches presidential speeches. Obama's 2010 State of the Union got 48 million viewers. His Iraq speech last week grabbed about 29 million of the country. Most of the others speeches get much smaller shares. No one, as far as I can tell, pays attention to the weekly radio address, or the average midday remarks.

And that's fine. It's good that we're not a dictatorship where everyone feels the need to memorize every word the leader utters. But it puts the lie to the idea that the president can simply orate a narrative directly into the American psyche. A small minority -- many of them political junkies who already know what they think -- will occasionally tune in to a particularly momentous address, and they may or may not stay for the whole thing, and they may or may not actually pay attention while they're watching. Somewhat more people will then get a partial summary through news coverage the next day. A week later, most people won't have heard the speech, and the few who did see or read the whole thing will largely have forgotten it. This is, in part, why presidents are worse at persuasion than people think: They do not have the rapt audience that so many assume.

And that doesn't just go for the average voters. In theory, political journalists are paid to pay attention to what the president says. In reality, they ignore most of it. This tends to frustrate White House staff, who put a lot of work into even minor statements like the weekly address only to see them ignored by writers who'd prefer if the same information were whispered into their ears. From the journalist's perspective, of course, this makes some sense: You're trying to find out things other people don't know, and in theory, everyone knows things that are in the speeches. But in reality, since no one is paying attention to the speeches, there's a lot in there that never penetrates into either the public consciousness or the media's thinking, and all White Houses are routinely criticized for not making arguments that they make all the time.

"The budget deficit and the national debt are a huge national crisis, which threaten our future and our very way of life"

Of course with the following caveats, by Steven Benen:

As I now understand it, the budget deficit and the national debt are a huge national crisis, which threaten our future and our very way of life, if the proposal on the table is:

  • Aid to the unemployed
  • American infrastructure
  • Jobs for teachers, firefighters, and police officers
  • Retirement security
  • Investment in a new U.S. energy policy
  • Access to affordable health care for America's families
  • Quality public schools and student loans
  • Transportation, public works, research and development, childcare, and food stamps

On the other hand, the budget deficit and the national debt are utterly meaningless, and shouldn't even be considered, if the proposal on the table is:

  • Tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires
  • War
  • Infrastructure in Iraq
  • an expanded government role in health care through Medicare Part D
  • an expanded government role in education through No Child Left Behind

What do you say, Republicans and Tea Partiers? Do I have this about right?

Vice-President Biden's Appearance on Colbert Nation!

He even got the Vice-President to hand out hot-dogs (not in this clip):

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Joe Biden
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Really, Jon?

I wasn't thrilled with this interview:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tim Kaine
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

It would have been one thing for Jon to ask hard questions (he did), it's another to bring the man on and ask "Why bother?"

Why We Vote...

Pasadena United Democrats reminds us why its important to vote, and why its important to stay involved, no matter how hard the road ahead seems.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Daily Show and Colbert Nation alert...

Tonight, Tim Kaine, head of the DNC will be on with Jon Stewart, and Vice President Joe Biden will be on with Colbert.

The video will be up tomorrow.

True to her word, Murkowski's not a quitter after all...

Following up on what I posted yesterday, we now have this from the Huffington Post:

Sen. Lisa Murkowski -- who shocked the political establishment when she was defeated by Tea Party-backed candidate Joe Miler in Alaska's GOP Senate primary last month -- is likely to run as a write-in candidate to keep her reelection hopes alive, Fox News reports.

According to the network, sources familiar with the matter say Murkowski is expected to announce how she plans to conduct her campaign in coming days. If the Republican incumbent follows through in mounting an independent campaign, she would face-off against Miller once again, as well as Democratic candidate Scott McAdams to keep her seat.

A senior Republican leadership aide told Fox that should a three-way general election match-up arise, "The entire Republican leadership has endorsed and would continue to support Joe Miller."

On the heels of Murkowski's loss to Miller, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, signaled that he would firmly support the unlikely Senate nominee in Alaska's general election race.

Before I start jumping up and down and congratulating the second Democratic Senator from Alaska, I really want to see what the money does. If Murkowski can turn this into a mountain of fundraising from her usual (read: Oil) donors, Miller's done, cooked like Christmas Dinner.

Of course, if she turns it into a super-mountain, if the donors give to her like nothing's changed, she might even be able to win this thing.

I hope this Lieberman strategy does not turn into a trend. Senators, you are elected to these seats, you are not entitled to them.

On the one hand, the people sent her a message (which was get out). On the other, it's not like she's buying (outright at least) the seat. People are still voting for her. If they want her back in office that back, more power to 'em.

The President's Economics Speech from Cleveland, Ohio (VIDEO)

From the prepared remarks:

These values are not Democratic or Republican. They are not conservative or liberal values. They are American values. As Democrats, we take pride in what our party has accomplished over the last century: Social Security and the minimum wage; the GI Bill and Medicare; civil rights and worker’s rights and women’s rights. But we also recognize that throughout our history, there has been a noble Republican vision as well, of what this country can be. It was the vision of Abraham Lincoln, who set up the first land grant colleges and launched the transcontinental railroad; the vision of Teddy Roosevelt, who used the power of government to break up monopolies; the vision of Dwight Eisenhower, who helped build the Interstate Highway System. And, yes, the vision of Ronald Reagan, who despite his aversion to government, was willing to help save Social Security for future generations -- working with Democrats.

These were serious leaders for serious times. They were great politicians, but they didn’t spend all their time playing games or scoring points. They didn’t always prey on people’s fears and anxieties. They made mistakes, but they did what they thought was in the best interests of their country and its people.

And that’s what the American people expect of us today -– Democrats, independents, and Republicans. That’s the debate they deserve. That’s the leadership we owe them.

So what happened to that ten point GOP lead?


Last week, Gallup's generic-ballot tracking poll showed Republicans leading Democrats by 10, 51% to 41%. It was billed as the GOP's biggest Gallup lead in the history of humanity, and the results generated massive media attention, including a stand-alone Washington Post piece on page A2. It was iron-clad evidence, we were told, of impending Democratic doom.

I strongly recommended caution -- Gallup's generic-ballot tracking poll has been erratic and unreliable. Both parties had built up big leads in recent months, only to see them quickly disappear, for no apparent reason. I made the case that inconsistent polls with bizarre swings are necessarily suspect, but the media had its narrative -- the GOP tsunami is coming -- and couldn't be bothered to consider whether the Gallup poll had merit.

Wouldn't you know it, a week later, that massive, unprecedented, world-changing lead Republicans enjoyed is gone. The new Gallup numbers show the GOP losing five points and Dems gaining five points, leaving the parties tied at 46%. Is there any coherent rationale to explain a 10-point swing in Dems' favor over the last week? Of course not.

Just to be perfectly clear, I don't consider this evidence of a surge in Democratic support, and Dems who rejoice at this poll are making the same mistake Republicans and reporters made last week. The point is Gallup's generic-ballot tracking poll just isn't telling us anything useful, no matter which party likes the results in any given week.

"Fighting for tax breaks for the wealthy is just part of their DNA..."

From Steven Benen:

The White House plan will be identical to the one he promised to pursue during the campaign -- rates for households making less than $250,000 a year (98% of the country) would stay at the lower rate, while the top 2% would go back to the Clinton-era rates.

I don't doubt that Republicans will be apoplectic -- fighting for tax breaks for the wealthy is just part of their DNA -- but they should keep a few things in mind. The first is that the Republican approach isn't exactly popular -- the latest Newsweek poll found only 38% of the country wants to extend all of the Bush-era tax rates. A recent CBS News poll put the figure even lower, at 36%.

Second, remember that Obama is basically just following the plan as set by Republicans themselves. When Bush and the congressional GOP passed these cuts, Republicans set them to expire at the end of 2010. The president will go along with keeping the lower rates on the middle class, but in light of deficit concerns, can't justify the lower rates for the rich.

Third, if Republicans were serious about their own fiscal priorities, they'd try to find a way to pay for the $680 billion cost of keeping these breaks for the wealthy. So far, they've refused to even try.

Fourth, the number one talking point today will be that this tax policy will hurt small businesses. It's not true.

As for the bigger picture, I'm glad to see a more assertive president stepping up on this. Obama's prepared to let Republicans fight for the wealthy with tax cuts the country can't afford, while he makes his case for the middle class.

It's good policy and good politics.

E.J. Dionne likes what he's hearing out of Cleveland and Milwaukee

From the Washington Post:

Until Obama's Labor Day speech in Milwaukee and his statement of principles Wednesday near Cleveland, it was not clear how much heart he had in the fight or whether he would ever offer a comprehensive argument for the advantage of his party's approach.

In the absence of a coherent case, Republicans were winning by default on a wave of protest votes. Without this new effort at self-definition, Obama was a blur: a socialist to conservatives, a sellout to some progressives, and a disappointment to younger Americans who wondered what happened to the ebullient, hopeful guy they voted for.

That's why the Milwaukee-Cleveland one-two punch mattered. The first speech showed Obama could fight and enjoy himself in the process. The second speech spelled out why he has chosen to do battle.

The news headline was Obama's decision to draw the line on George W. Bush's tax cuts. He would continue the most economically stimulative cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year but say no to extending the rest of the tax cuts that, as Obama noted, "would have us borrow $700 billion over the next 10 years to give a tax cut of about $100,000 to folks who are already millionaires." What do Democrats stand for if they are not willing to take on this cause?

And I almost forgot:

Yes, Republicans had better start defining themselves. If they don't, Obama, who labeled them the party of "stagnant growth, eroding competitiveness and a shrinking middle class," is happy to do it for them. That's what changed in Milwaukee and Cleveland.

Individual Democrats who deserve to lose: Part 2

Part 1 was Harry Reid, just for this.

I used to like Michael Bennett of Colorado, but...

...apparently, he'll only support the President's Stimulus proposals if they involve no new spending.

He'll only support Stimulus spending...if it doesn't spend any money???

This is why I don't give money to the DSCC.

Cleveland got fresh material from the President.

The President gave a barn-burner of a speech today in Cleveland. I'll put the Video up as soon as I can get it. This new speech was a lot more fun (for me anyway) than the one he gave at Laborfest, which I liked. This one I loved. While it covered some of the same ground as Laborfest, it also painted a picture of America, and what it means to be a Democrat:

I have a different vision for the future. I've never believed that government has all the answers to our problems. I've never believed that government's role is to create jobs or prosperity. I believe it's the drive and ingenuity of our entrepreneurs, the skill and dedication of our workers, that has made us the wealthiest nation on Earth. I believe it's the private sector that must be the main engine of our recovery.

I believe government should be lean, it should be efficient, and it should leave people free to make the choices they think are best for themselves and their families, so long as those choices don't hurt others.

But in the words of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, I also believe that government should do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves.

That means making long-term investments in this country's future that individuals and corporations cannot make on their own: investments in education and clean energy; in basic research, technology, and infrastructure

That means making sure corporations live up to their responsibilities to treat consumers fairly and play by the same rules as everyone else; to look out for their workers and create jobs here at home.

And that means providing a hand up for middle-class families - so that if they work hard and meet their responsibilities, they can afford to raise their children, send them to college, see a doctor when they get sick, and retire with dignity and respect.

That's what we Democrats believe in - a vibrant free market, but one that works for everybody. That's our vision for a stronger economy and a growing middle-class. And that's the difference between what we and the Republicans in Congress are offering the American people right now.

And of course, there was the big dividing line on Taxes:

I'll give you one final example of the differences between us and the Republicans, and that's on the issue of tax cuts. Under the tax plan passed by the last administration, taxes are scheduled to go up substantially next year. Now, I believe we ought to make the tax cuts for the middle class permanent. These families are the ones who saw their wages and incomes flatline over the last decade - and they deserve a break. And because they are more likely to spend on basic necessities, this will strengthen the economy as a whole.

But the Republican leader of the House doesn't want to stop there. Make no mistake: he and his party believe we should also give a permanent tax cut to the wealthiest two percent of Americans. With all the other budgetary pressures we have - with all the Republicans' talk about wanting to shrink the deficit - they would have us borrow $700 billion over the next ten years to give a tax cut of about $100,000 to folks who are already millionaires. These are among the only folks who saw their incomes rise when Republicans were in charge. And these are folks who are less likely to spend the money, which is why economists don't think tax breaks for the wealthy would do much to boost the economy.

So let me be clear to Mr. Boehner and everyone else: we should not hold middle class tax cuts hostage any longer. We are ready, this week, to give tax cuts to every American making $250,000 or less. For any income over this amount, the tax rates would go back to what they were under President Clinton. This isn't to punish folks who are better off - it's because we can't afford the $700 billion price tag. And for those who claim that this is bad for growth and bad for small businesses, let me remind you that with those tax rates in place, this country created 22 million jobs, raised incomes, and had the largest surplus in history.

Like I said, more to come. From this site, and from the President.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Still in the game??"

If I were Republican nominee Joe Miller of Alaska (and I thank God everyday that I'm not), I'd be quoting Scooby-Doo right now. "Ruh-R'oh!":

A week after conceding the GOP primary, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she's not a quitter and is "still in this game."

Murkowski told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she's been inundated with calls and e-mails from supporters, asking her not to leave the race. She says she's been humbled and is listening — and weighing her options.

She said that if this was "all about Lisa, certainly the easy thing for me to do would be to figure out what my next opportunity would be with my family and just settle in to a nice job."

"But what I'm looking at is my state and the future of my state for my kids. So, I have not made that determination that I'm going to give up. I'm not a quitter, never have been. And I'm still in this game," Murkowski said.

It's real simple. If she does run, I don't know if she wins, but I guarantee you that Joe Miller does not.

Are you freaking kidding me?!?!?

This from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee:

Sign the pledge sending this message to Rahm Emanuel:

"I will not support Rahm Emanuel in any future election for Congress, Mayor of Chicago, Governor, or other office. He sold us out on the public option and is a weak Democrat who caves instead of fighting conservatives and corporate power. We won't forget the choices you've made, Rahm."

It's why I can't stand the PCCC and why Liberals keep losing.

Does the PCCC really expect me to believe that a Republican Mayor of Chicago is preferable to Rahmbo?

Political life is simple.

In the Primaries, you fall in love. PCCC can nominate who they want, and who they love.  I believe in primary challenges (except for President -- they never end well).  If they knock off Rahmbo in this stage.  Fine.  More power to 'em.

In the General, you fall in line. Vote for the Democrat, it beats the alternative!  Even if that means voting for Rahmbo.

"Tom Toles is worth a thousand words"

Bondad: "Potential for Double-Dip Recession Seems Small"

The Bondad posted a nice piece at the New York Times about why a double-dip Recession is likely not going to happen:

Over the last few months there has been an increase in the concern and discussion over a possible double-dip recession, particularly after unemployment reports over the summer showed that the nation was shedding tens of thousands of jobs. However, a key element lacking in the talk of double-dip recessions is what actually caused past recessions – that is, what are the primary reasons an economy slows to the point where its growth contracts for at least two quarters – followed by an analysis of whether those conditions exist in the current economic environment. And judging from a variety of indicators, the potential for a double-dip recession seem small.

In short (and in plain english):

Interest Rates still remain at record lows. Upticks in Interest Rates are usually precursors to Recessions.

Our friends the Banks are still relatively healthy, making money and not writing off as many losses as they once were. There are still a couple-hundred problem Banks, but Bondad thinks the overall trend is heading the right direction.

Commodities, particularly Oil prices, haven't spiked. I'm sure you've noticed that Gas is not cheap like it once was, but we don't seem to be experiencing the large-scale price increases like we did under Dubya. The Price of Oil per barrell is down from the $100 buck it once was at, and seems to be holding steady. Plus, dare I say it, are we getting used to the gouging we're taking at the pump?

Finally, there doesn't seem to be a bubble on the horizon at risk of bursting. We're still feeling the overwhelmingly negative effects of the Housing bubble, but there doesn't seem to be another on the horizon for us to worry about.

"The practical alternative on the table is ... what exactly?"

Andrew Sullivan, back from Vacation. And thank you Lord!

Yesterday's speech by the president, if you missed it, was a barn-stormer. Yes, it's the same old, same old pattern: he allows the opposition not just to vent and criticize (as they should) but to control the discourse for months, to drown out every other sound, to vent and crow and vilify and intimidate the cable news weenies into quivering puppies in need of crate-training. And then he comes back with a speech like that one.

I can't for the life of me see how the Democrats retain the House under these economic conditions, but that cannot and does not mean that what Obama has done in his first year and a half is a failure. On the contrary. On almost all the substantive stuff, he has in my view done the right and responsible and sane thing within the almost impossible constraints he was presented with. And given the legacy he inherited, what he has done is simply not enough to perform an economic or political or cultural miracle. That's the brutal truth and we have to face it. And if Americans thought they were voting for a savior, rather than a pragmatic president, they were deluding themselves.

When the economy imploded in the fall of 2008, there was simply precious little room for fiscal maneuver after the largely Republican-led spending and borrowing spree of the previous decade. The stimulus prevented the world falling into an economic abyss - just - but it was never going to get us out of the ditch we're in. Don Peck's brilliant cover-story is worth re-reading again on that score. And it was good to hear the president state this yesterday:

Eight million Americans lost their jobs in this recession. And even though we’ve had eight straight months of private sector job growth, the new jobs haven’t been coming fast enough. Now, here’s the honest truth, the plain truth. There’s no silver bullet. There’s no quick fix to these problems. I knew when I was running for office, and I certainly knew by the time I was sworn in, I knew it would take time to reverse the damage of a decade worth of policies that saw too few people being able to climb into the middle class, too many people falling behind. We all knew this. We all knew that it would take more time than any of us want to dig ourselves out of this hole created by this economic crisis.

The other brutal truth is that the opposition has nothing substantive to offer to remedy this. If all they've got is keeping the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 a year, they really have got nothing. What they do have is cultural symbolism and the exhausted right-left tropes that were trotted out at the mercifully vacuous parade of God and Country on the Mall with Beck and Palin. Maybe in power, by some miracle, the Tea Party Republicans will actually propose the long-term massive cuts in entitlements they claim to believe in. But I don't believe it for a second. I don't believe they are in any way serious about spending restraint and are only serious about their bewilderment at the real America where racial, religious and cultural diversity is a fact, where illegal immigration has been plummeting, where gay marriage is winning, where legal abortion will never go away, and where the new empire the last administration embarked upon has bankrupted us for a generation at least.

And this, in the end, must be what our politics is about: substantive policy responses to profound crises inherited from the past. Obama's call for transportation infrastructure investment is one tiny but real response and no panacea but it's paid for and it's something. His persistent attempt to get a real two-state solution in Israel-Palestine is unlikely to succeed given the forces arrayed against it in Washington and Tehran but it is necessary if we are to win this long war against Jihadism. His endurance in Afghanistan is, in my view, a tragic mistake, but anyone who claims that withdrawal would not have appalling moral consequences and great strategic risks is lying to you. His diplomatic and economic isolation of Iran's coup regime may also fail to prevent the Revolutionary Guards getting a nuclear capacity, but the alternative - a military strike - would initiate a new round of global religious warfare of terrifying gravity, where the Islamists would have the moral high-ground of being attacked first. His success in bringing a modicum of healthcare security to the working poor is also a work in progress but again, the practical alternative on the table is ... what exactly?

In the end, these difficult practical decisions will count because they have to count. And Obama's persistent refusal to take the red-blue bait still pushed by Fox News like a cheap bump of ideological meth is to his credit. It is emphatically not about his failure to "take them on". He is taking them on - but on his terms, not theirs'.

The President's Speech at Laborfest in Milwaukee (VIDEO)