January 29, 2014
Obama Rejects the Politics of Austerity

Understanding what Tuesday night’s State of the Union address was really about requires first understanding what it wasn’t about: Debt. For the first time since the early days of his presidency, President Obama offered an economic message freed from the crippling politics of austerity.
That becomes clearer when you look at Obama’s past speeches. First year-presidents don’t technically give a “state of the union” address,” but on February 24, 2009, Obama rose before Congress to give the functional equivalent. In it, he began telling the story that he hoped would guide his domestic policy. He said the financial crisis afflicting the nation was the symptom of a deeper malady, which had begun many years before. That malady was America’s failure to foster the kind of widely shared economic growth it had enjoyed in the decades after World War II. “Now is the time to act boldly and wisely,” he declared, “to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.
Read more. [Image: Larry Downing/Reuters]

Obama Rejects the Politics of Austerity

Understanding what Tuesday night’s State of the Union address was really about requires first understanding what it wasn’t about: Debt. For the first time since the early days of his presidency, President Obama offered an economic message freed from the crippling politics of austerity.

That becomes clearer when you look at Obama’s past speeches. First year-presidents don’t technically give a “state of the union” address,” but on February 24, 2009, Obama rose before Congress to give the functional equivalent. In it, he began telling the story that he hoped would guide his domestic policy. He said the financial crisis afflicting the nation was the symptom of a deeper malady, which had begun many years before. That malady was America’s failure to foster the kind of widely shared economic growth it had enjoyed in the decades after World War II. “Now is the time to act boldly and wisely,” he declared, “to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.

Read more. [Image: Larry Downing/Reuters]

January 29, 2014
The Most Glaring State of the Union Omissions

President Obama spoke on a wide range of subjects—and shouldn’t have left these out.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

The Most Glaring State of the Union Omissions

President Obama spoke on a wide range of subjects—and shouldn’t have left these out.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

January 28, 2014
The State of the Union is Scattershot

If tonight’s State of the Union address is anything like the ones that President Obama delivered in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013, here’s what to expect: a banal, risk-averse, scattershot speech that could be cancelled without any great consequence. Obama is a capable orator. It’s easy to remember some of his best speeches. He rarely gets to address America in prime time with Congress assembled. I’d like to see him focus on one issue, or even one theme, and marshal logic to persuade Americans that some substantive step or other ought to be taken.
But that would be unconventional and risky. Everyone with a pet cause that wasn’t mentioned due to the narrowed focus would be upset. That’s why the speech is likely to be broad and shallow, addressing so many subjects that nothing deep or lasting can be said about any of them.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

The State of the Union is Scattershot

If tonight’s State of the Union address is anything like the ones that President Obama delivered in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013, here’s what to expect: a banal, risk-averse, scattershot speech that could be cancelled without any great consequence. Obama is a capable orator. It’s easy to remember some of his best speeches. He rarely gets to address America in prime time with Congress assembled. I’d like to see him focus on one issue, or even one theme, and marshal logic to persuade Americans that some substantive step or other ought to be taken.

But that would be unconventional and risky. Everyone with a pet cause that wasn’t mentioned due to the narrowed focus would be upset. That’s why the speech is likely to be broad and shallow, addressing so many subjects that nothing deep or lasting can be said about any of them.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

January 28, 2014
Everything You Need to Know About the State of the Union Address

Tonight at 9 p.m., President Obama will step up to the dais in the House of Representatives for his fifth State of the Union Address. The narrative of the night, by pundit acclamation, is how Obama will try to get his groove back. It’s been a rough 12 months since his last State of the Union: Congress still hasn’t passed an immigration-reform bill. His push for gun control fell apart in the face of Republican opposition. And though the government shutdown looked like a major political victory, it was soon followed by the catastrophic Healthcare.gov relaunch, an even more major political stumble from which he’s still regaining his footing.
Don’t buy it. Even if Obama delivered a barnburner, it wouldn’t move the dial much. Speeches—even the State of the Union—don’t do much to turn polling around or radically shift Congress. Though it’s hard to remember now, Obama finished off last year’s address with an emotionally charged and widely praised call on Congress to honor the victims of gun violence by at least voting on new safety measures, a demand Congress blithely ignored.
In any case, this is expected to be a more tempered speech. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. Even in a modern age of dwindling audience, the State of the Union draws more views than any political event all year and sets the agenda for White House policy and the nation for 2014. Here’s what to watch for.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Everything You Need to Know About the State of the Union Address

Tonight at 9 p.m., President Obama will step up to the dais in the House of Representatives for his fifth State of the Union Address. The narrative of the night, by pundit acclamation, is how Obama will try to get his groove back. It’s been a rough 12 months since his last State of the Union: Congress still hasn’t passed an immigration-reform bill. His push for gun control fell apart in the face of Republican opposition. And though the government shutdown looked like a major political victory, it was soon followed by the catastrophic Healthcare.gov relaunch, an even more major political stumble from which he’s still regaining his footing.

Don’t buy it. Even if Obama delivered a barnburner, it wouldn’t move the dial much. Speeches—even the State of the Union—don’t do much to turn polling around or radically shift Congress. Though it’s hard to remember now, Obama finished off last year’s address with an emotionally charged and widely praised call on Congress to honor the victims of gun violence by at least voting on new safety measures, a demand Congress blithely ignored.

In any case, this is expected to be a more tempered speech. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. Even in a modern age of dwindling audience, the State of the Union draws more views than any political event all year and sets the agenda for White House policy and the nation for 2014. Here’s what to watch for.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

January 27, 2014
NSA Surveillance Divides the Republican Party

A Republican Party resolution that renounces NSA spying is an extraordinary document. For over a decade, the GOP dismissed civil-libertarian complaints about the War on Terror. The RNC stood behind Team Bush through the war crime of torture and a secret, illegal program of warrantless surveillance on U.S. citizens. Circa 2009, the Tea Party began vying for control of the Republican Party. But even then, mass surveillance on innocents wasn’t among its complaints.
President Obama’s first term would play out with the GOP opposing him on virtually every issue except his embrace of his predecessor’s War on Terror approach. 
But Obama’s second term has been different.

Read more. [Image: Jourand/Flickr]

NSA Surveillance Divides the Republican Party

A Republican Party resolution that renounces NSA spying is an extraordinary document. For over a decade, the GOP dismissed civil-libertarian complaints about the War on Terror. The RNC stood behind Team Bush through the war crime of torture and a secret, illegal program of warrantless surveillance on U.S. citizens. Circa 2009, the Tea Party began vying for control of the Republican Party. But even then, mass surveillance on innocents wasn’t among its complaints.

President Obama’s first term would play out with the GOP opposing him on virtually every issue except his embrace of his predecessor’s War on Terror approach. 

But Obama’s second term has been different.
Read more. [Image: Jourand/Flickr]

January 24, 2014
Why Obama Should Back Drug-Sentencing Reform in the State of the Union

In the last week of 1963, my father, Ted Sorensen, met with President Lyndon Johnson late into the night at his Texas ranch to decide what provisions of President John F. Kennedy’s unfinished agenda to include in the upcoming State of the Union address. Last on the list was a provision for expanded federal jurisdiction over illegal drugs, which provided not only for federal criminal-law enforcement but also for expanded rehabilitation and treatment programs. 

As my father recounted in his memoir, Johnson angrily brushed aside the suggestion. “Drugs? I don’t want to have anything to do with them. Just lock them up and throw away the key!” The meeting ended, and my father deleted that portion of the speech, which famously announced the War on Poverty—but kept the drug provision in Johnson’s legislative program. This led to controlled-substance and drug-addiction reform that passed with bipartisan support in Congress. Despite Johnson’s dismissal of my father’s proposal of treatment and rehabilitation, he extolled those ideas when he signed the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act into law in November 1966, describing it as a “pioneering measure” that recognizes that “treating addicts as criminals neither curtails addiction nor prevents crime.”
President Obama now has a golden opportunity in his own State of the Union to confront the U.S. government’s continued struggle to effectively legislate drugs.
Read more. [Image: Robert Galbraith/Reuters]

Why Obama Should Back Drug-Sentencing Reform in the State of the Union

In the last week of 1963, my father, Ted Sorensen, met with President Lyndon Johnson late into the night at his Texas ranch to decide what provisions of President John F. Kennedy’s unfinished agenda to include in the upcoming State of the Union address. Last on the list was a provision for expanded federal jurisdiction over illegal drugs, which provided not only for federal criminal-law enforcement but also for expanded rehabilitation and treatment programs. 

As my father recounted in his memoir, Johnson angrily brushed aside the suggestion. “Drugs? I don’t want to have anything to do with them. Just lock them up and throw away the key!” The meeting ended, and my father deleted that portion of the speech, which famously announced the War on Poverty—but kept the drug provision in Johnson’s legislative program. This led to controlled-substance and drug-addiction reform that passed with bipartisan support in Congress. Despite Johnson’s dismissal of my father’s proposal of treatment and rehabilitation, he extolled those ideas when he signed the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act into law in November 1966, describing it as a “pioneering measure” that recognizes that “treating addicts as criminals neither curtails addiction nor prevents crime.”

President Obama now has a golden opportunity in his own State of the Union to confront the U.S. government’s continued struggle to effectively legislate drugs.

Read more. [Image: Robert Galbraith/Reuters]

January 23, 2014

aljazeeraamerica:

The State of the Union: What do you want from the president?

Poll after poll shows that what Americans care about most is the economy. Poll after poll also shows that Americans care deeply about a lot of other issues, from poverty, health care and education, to foreign policy, national security and LGBT rights.

Ahead of the State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 28, we want to go beyond polls for a glimpse at what Americans really want to top the to-do list in Washington, and why. If you could ask President Barack Obama to take on one thing – one policy, one issue, one bill, one idea, one principle – what would it be?

Starting with the phrase “Dear Mr. President, I want…,” write your wish on a piece of paper or posterboard, take a photo of yourself holding it, and either email it to us at DearPOTUS@aljazeera.net or tweet it to @AmericaTonight with the hashtag #DearPOTUS. Some of the most interesting images will be compiled in a blog post and used in our broadcast coverage of the State of the Union address. It can be a paragraph, it can be a word, it can be a Dadaist poem. It just has to be legible.

January 22, 2014
Asking If Obama Schmoozes Enough Is the Wrong Question

Americans would be better off if journalists dinged legislators whose votes can be bought for a well-timed dinner invitation. Who are they?
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Asking If Obama Schmoozes Enough Is the Wrong Question

Americans would be better off if journalists dinged legislators whose votes can be bought for a well-timed dinner invitation. Who are they?

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

11:55am
  
Filed under: Politics Congress Obama 
January 21, 2014
Obama on Pot Legalization: ‘It’s Important for It to Go Forward’

That’s his newest position on the experiments in Colorado and Washington, though he stopped short of endorsing legalization elsewhere.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Obama on Pot Legalization: ‘It’s Important for It to Go Forward’

That’s his newest position on the experiments in Colorado and Washington, though he stopped short of endorsing legalization elsewhere.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

January 15, 2014
Robert Gates Owes No Loyalty to President Obama

A Wall Street Journal columnist’s wrongheaded attack on the former secretary of defense’s honor.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Robert Gates Owes No Loyalty to President Obama

A Wall Street Journal columnist’s wrongheaded attack on the former secretary of defense’s honor.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

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