Wednesday NH Townhall (CNN) Live Blog

sandersclintonClinton and Sanders have their first townhall in New Hampshire without O’Malley right now on CNN.  This event comes fresh on heels the historic Clinton win of the Iowa Caucuses.  The margin was small, but a win is a win is a win.  Sanders is expected to win New Hampshire because of the neighbor effect. They always vote for fellow New Englanders and Sanders is no stranger.  CNN has a list of five things to watch.  I found this one pretty interesting.

In a similar CNN town hall in Iowa, Sanders absolutely unloaded on Clinton, hammering her as a newcomer to the progressive movement on income inequality, trade, energy and other issues.

Since then, the man who talks about never running a negative ad in his life has approved one that ripped into Goldman Sachs for paying politicians speaking fees — a crystal-clear shot at Clinton who has received that money.

He has complained about the Democratic establishment, complaining about the Democratic National Committee’s decision to hold debates often on weekends and against playoff football games and other high-profile events.

Is Sanders ready to really rip into Clinton?

His winks and nods toward the liberal base are impossible to miss.

On Tuesday in Keene, New Hampshire, Sanders launched into an attack on the Walmart-owning Walton family, saying that “the major welfare abuser in America is the wealthiest family in America.”

No wonder: Walmart is headquartered in Arkansas. Clinton once served on its board. And Alice Walton gave Clinton’s Democratic National Committee Victory Fund $353,000 in December — a contribution just made public in filings Sunday.

Sanders has the podium first.  You can watch it live on CNN or here at Raw Story.

This event and the MSNBC debate scheduled for tomorrow night were thrown together rather hastily.  Here’s variety’s take on the first part of the Sanders questions.

Ever since they left Iowa, Clinton and Sanders have gotten more pointed, particularly on Twitter, over who can better carry out a set of progressive priorities. Clinton has called herself a “progressive who gets things done,” while Sanders posted a series of tweets suggesting she has shifted her positions on such things as the Keystone pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as on the question of whether she is a centrist or a liberal.

“You can be a moderate. You can be a progressive. But you cannot be a moderate and a progressive,” Sanders tweeted on Wednesday.

9:10 pm ET: Sanders slams expectations. Bernie Sanders criticized the media for focusing so much on expectations in New Hampshire, where he leads some polls by a significant margin. “That is the media game. That is what the media talks about. Who cares?” he says. Clinton’s campaign has downplayed the state, in hopes of delivering a better-then-expected result. But Sanders, too, cautions that he expects the results to be “close.”

9:15 p.m. ET: How do you pay for it? In the last debate, Clinton pointedly said that she would not raise taxes on the middle class. Sanders has said there will be tax hikes. Sanders said that his proposal for a “medicare for all,” single-payer health care program would raise taxes on those in the “middle of the economy” by about $500 annually. But he tells a questioner that the switch to single payer will reduce medical costs by $5,000.

9:23 p.m. ET: On faith. Cooper asks Sanders about something the Vermont senator rarely talks about on the stump: His faith. “Everybody practices religion in a different way,” says Sanders, who is Jewish. “I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings.” He added that on the stump rarely gets that personal, but he did say he worried about a society “where some people say, ‘I don’t care,’” when spirituality to him is a recognition that “we are in this together.”

So, here we go again!  Join us!!!

 

 

 

 

 


Live Blog: Fox Iowa GOP Debate sans the Strump

CNN-Republican-Debate-by-DonkeyHotey-with-FlickrCan the 2016 primaries get any more odd?  Tonight’s the final Republican debate prior to the Iowa Caucuses next Monday.   Frontrunner Donald Trump will be holding an alternative event that will be attended by other candidates Mike “the Huckster” Huckabee and Rick “the frothy” Santorum.  The event will benefit Veterans by sending money to a nonprofit that’s notorious for not spending its money on Veterans. It’s not sure who the Fox Debate will benefit although bets seem to be on Cruz or Rubio.  Rand Paul figured out how to get on the main stage. Whine.

Republican presidential candidates will square off Thursday evening at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. The debate is the final one before next Monday’s Iowa caucuses, and is especially notable for being the first one in which Donald Trump is not present.
Both the undercard and primetime debates will air on Fox News, with a different set of moderators for each. The earlier event, which begins at 7 p.m. ET, will be hosted by America’s Newsroom anchors Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer, and will feature four candidates: Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Jim Gilmore.

The primetime event will begin at 9 p.m. ET, and will be moderated by Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace, and Bret Baier. Participating in the big event are Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Rand Paul. Frontrunner Donald Trump qualified for the event but declined to participate because of his ongoing feud with Fox News.

Cruz is chomping at the bit to go one on one with the Strump and has even set up a venue.  Trump’s campaign manager has said there’s no point to debating some one that may not even be eligible to be President.  (Ouch)

Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on Thursday that his candidate would be “happy” to debate Ted Cruz once the Texas senator gets a federal judge to rule him eligible to run for president.

“Once you’ve gotten that ruling from the federal judge and you’re the last man standing in this presidential contest next to Donald Trump, we’ll be happy to have a debate with you one-on-one, anywhere you want, because that’s the way the system works,” Lewandowski said. “But, as it stands right now, we don’t even know if Ted Cruz is legally eligible to run for president of the United States.”

Trump and his supporters have argued that Cruz, who was born in Canada to a U.S. citizen, is not natural born and therefore ineligible to run for president under the Constitution.

Cruz challenged Trump to debate him one-on-one after Trump announced that he would not be attending the Fox News Republican presidential debate Thursday night because of objections to the presence of anchor Megyn Kelly and a statement Fox issued in response to his complaints.

“What this is, is a publicity stunt by Senator Cruz who is continuing to fall in the polls in the state of Iowa,” Lewandowski told Boston radio host Jeff Kuhner, before unleashing a slew of attacks at Cruz, arguing that he had used “dark money donors” through his super PAC to offer a donation to charity if Trump agreed to the debate.

Pundits are discussing the internecine battles apparent in the Republican Party since Trump has obviously challenged Roger Ailes Kingmaker status and placed the state of union bingoparty itself in a pretty weird place. Priebus was on MSNBC earlier on the weekday MTP explaining that the party really had nothing to do with the debates other than setting up the venues and times even though it had earlier removed media outlets for participating.  This group is not Bob Dole’s Republicans, for sure.

Trump’s rivals view the debate as a chance to get their own messages across without having to compete with Trump’s bomb-throwing rhetoric.

“It gives us more time at the microphone and more time to talk about answers to substantive issues that Iowa voters are demanding right now,” said David Kochel, a senior adviser to Republican candidate Jeb Bush.

“It is undeniable that what he’s doing is denying his opponents a large audience as they make their final arguments to Iowa voters,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, a Republican strategist who advised the party’s 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney.

While it might be tempting for Trump’s rivals to use the debate to criticize him aggressively, some Republican analysts are cautioning against a scorched-earth approach.

“It’s delicate for the candidates because you have to pull back from attacking a man who is not there,” said Ari Fleischer, who was White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. “It will be OK to make a passing reference or two, the fact that he’s not there. But if you try to beat him up, it won’t play well because he’s not there to defend himself.”

Campaigning on Wednesday in West Des Moines, Cruz mocked Trump for skipping the debate, calling him a “fragile soul.” He renewed his offer to Trump to debate him one-on-one.

Interestingly enough,  sending Money to Trump’s Veteran’s fundraiser means sending money to Trump’s personal Foundation.

After ducking the final Republican presidential debate heading into next week’s Iowa caucuses, GOP front-runner Donald Trump announced that he would hold his own pro-veterans event during the debate to raise money for veterans. Trump even set up a special website to solicit donations to help veterans.

“Honor their valor,” the website, donaldtrumpforvets.com, states. “Donate now to help our Veterans.”

The website, which is nothing more than a single page with stock photosand a credit card donation form, claims that “100% of your donations will go directly to Veterans needs.”

There’s only one problem: 100% of the money raised on the site goes directly to Donald Trump’s personal non-profit foundation, according to a disclosure listed at the bottom of the page.

“The Donald J Trump Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization,” the disclosure reads. “An email confirmation with a summary of your donation will be sent to the email address provided above.”

Well, alright then.  Guess vets will have to kiss the ring to be considered for the money.

Josh Marshall–while regretting the gender bias in the term–is looking at this as the “bitch slap” theory of politics.  He has a few interesting thoughts on the matter of Trump challenging Ailes.GOP-candidates-debate-by-DonkeyHotey-with-Flickr

But this driving force of Republican politics has only become more salient and central as the GOP has become increasingly dominated by core constituencies animated by anger and resentment that things to which they believe they are entitled are being taken away from them.

Trump doesn’t apologize. He hurts people and they go away. He says things that would kill a political mortal (ban members of an entire religion from entering the country) and yet he doesn’t get hurt. Virtually everything Trump has done over the last six months, whether it’s a policy proposal or personal attack, has driven home this basic point: Trump is strong. He does things other people can’t.

This is why Trump has so shaken up and so dominated the GOP primary cycle, at least thus far. As I’ve said, this kind of dominance symbolism is pervasive in GOP politics. It’s not new with Trump at all. Most successful Republican politicians speak this language. And yet somehow for most it is nonetheless a second language. But it’s Trump’s native language. I still believe it’s rooted in the mix of the hyper-aggressive New York real estate world, his decades of immersion in the city’s febrile tabloid culture and just being, at the most basic level, a bully. Wherever it comes from, he seems to intuitively get that for this constituency and at this moment just demonstrating that he gets his way, always, is all that really matters. Policy details, protecting the candidate through careful press releases and structured media opportunities … none of that matters. Trump doesn’t kiss babies. Babies kiss him. He doesn’t have a billionaire backer; he is a billionaire. Trump doesn’t ask for support. He just tells you that you need to stop being a loser and get on board.

So this debate power play is all of a piece. He can just take the table, flip it over and walk out of the room. It’s all about him.

There is no question that Trump will completely dominate tomorrow night’s debate by his absence. After all, he’s the one in the lead everywhere. If he’s not there, what is there to talk about? The Rubio v Christie stand off? Jeb? Who cares?

It may be two plus hours of people attacking him without him being there to respond – and the moderators themselves out to get him too. But again, it’s still all about him. He can make it all about him by not even being there. He doesn’t kowtow to Fox News or go on retainer with the network during the off-season. He calls the shots. And there is little question in my mind that in one fashion or another you will have two competing TV shows tomorrow night, Trump’s and everybody else’s. And Trump’s will almost certainly be better.

So, grab a beer or a cuppa, a nice comfy sitting situation, and a bag full of nerfballs to throw at the TV.  It’s time to listen to Right Wing Anger and Paranoia.

 


Live Blog: Fourth Democratic Debate

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Tonight’s debate is likely to feature some fireworks and a good exchange of ideas between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders–as long as the moderators can keep Martin O’Malley from constantly breaking in with his patented line “I’ve actually already done that in Maryland.”

Mediaite has the basics on how to watch the debate. It will be available on line at the NBC News website and YouTube. It begins at nine and goes for two hours.

The back and forth between Hillary and Bernie this week has been interesting, to say the least. Hillary seems to have gotten under Bernie’s skin too, because he has now partially flip flopped on his vote to immunize gun dealers from liability, his campaign has promised to release specifics on his health car plan and how he hopes to pay for it “very soon,” and they’ve also said they’ll release a “doctor’s note” on Sanders’ health.

Just a couple of days ago the Sanders campaign announced they wouldn’t release the health care tax figures and they previously pooh poohed the need to release medical records.

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I’ve thought for awhile now that Sanders has begun to believe his own reviews in the media. After reading what he said on Face The Nation this morning, I’m convinced he has allowed the failure of the media to vet him and the adulation of his supporters to go to his head.

Sanders: I have a “good chance” to win 2016 election.

“I think we have a good chance to win both those states,” he said of Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold nominating contests. “I think we have a good chance to win this election.”

If he does win, Sanders predicted his campaign would come to be known as “one of the great political upsets in modern history.”

He is feeling so good, in fact, that the Vermont senator told “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson that while he was watching President Obama’s final State of the Union address last week, “the thought did cross my mind” that he could be delivering that address in the near future.

Then he caught himself.

“It’s a very humbling feeling,” he said, but added a moment later, “It’s a long way to go before we talk about inaugural speech, before we toss State of the Union speeches in.”

Hmmm…. he doesn’t sound so humble.

Bernie guns

I have a few other good links for you on Bernie.

First a diary from DailyKos (!) on the health care law that Sanders has proposed multiple times in Congress: Sanders’ Health Care Plan. The diarist simply reports the contents of Senate Bill 1782, introduced in December 2013. Please go read it.

The law would end Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program, and TRICARE. The money that was going into those programs, and use it to fund a “single payer” plan to be run and partially paid for by the states.

We already know that Supreme Court is not going to force states to accept something they don’t want from the Feds. That was their decision on the ACA Medicaid expansion. Even if Sanders could somehow get this through the Republican Congress, it would never get past SCOTUS.

I can’t even imagine what would be involved in implementing this. Right now, Medicare has low overhead costs because it turns over administration of supplemental plans to insurance companies–which would be outlawed in Sanders’ alternative universe.

I’m on Medicare and I get help paying my premiums from the government. Those premiums are more than $100 per month. Basic Medicare only pays for hospital bills, so I also have a government funded supplemental plan with very high co-pays that I get “free.” At least I can go to a doctor if it’s absolutely necessary. What would happen to people like me when all that infrastructure is demolished?

Here’s another must-read that Babama posted in a comment yesterday.

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The People’s View: Chelsea Clinton was Right: Everyone’s Health Care is Threatened under Bernie’s Plan.

Recently, Chelsea Clinton got panned for saying that Bernie Sanders’ health care plan – commonly heralded as ‘Medicare for All’ by the revolution-peddlers – would give Republican governors the opportunity to dismantle publicly funded health insurance for the poor and middle class, that is, Medicaid and the health insurance exchanges. Seems absurd to accuse a self-proclaimed socialist with a proclaimed demand for single-payer universal health insurance of trying to take away health care. Politifact rated Chelsea Clinton’s claims ‘mostly false.’

Politifact got it wrong. Bernie Sanders’ plan does, in fact, allow for states to take away health care from the poor and middle-income, if not most everyone in a state. Although, that shouldn’t be a surprise, given that Sanders’ plan itself targets the economically disadvantaged for punishment. As Politifact notes, Sanders hasn’t proposed a full health care plan for his presidential campaign, instead choosing to use a bill Sanders introduced in the Senate in 2013 without a single cosponsor, titled ‘American Health Security Act of 2013’ as the template.

Poltiifact notes it is in fact true that Sanders’ plan repeals all health insurance funding from Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance exchanges. But he would channel the revenue instead to fund the single-payer system! [….]

The problem is, what Sander’s bill “seeks to” do and what it actually does are quite different. Since Politifact helpfully pointed us to Sanders’ 2013 bill, I decided to read it. In short, it ends all funding to Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP an the ACA insurance provisions, directs it to this single-payer insurance program, raises additional revenue on the back of those who can least afford it, and charges states with the job of actually running it.

Each state, in theory, would have its own program that follows basic guidelines and the vast majority of the funding (80-90%) is provided by the federal government.  Nonetheless, for states that refuse to run their own program, federal authorities – specifically, a Board – can do so instead. Sanders’ bill would also ban the sale of private health insurance.

Until I read that last night, I really didn’t understand how clueless Sanders really is. Please read the whole thing if you haven’t already, because Robert Reich is running around saying the plan makes sense.

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One more Bernie link from Dean Barker at “Birch Paper.” This one has been getting retweeted a lot today. The piece takes us back to the early days of Sanders’ political career when he ran again and again for office, and always lost. Then he got smart and used guns to get into Congress.

Sanders repeatedly talks about how he lost an election because he supported a ban on assault weapons. What really happened is that Sanders did so well in a third-party run that he got Republican Peter Smith elected. After he got to Washington, Smith’s conscience bothered him and he ended up supporting a bill to ban assault weapons.

In 1990, Sanders ran for the House seat again, and defeated Smith with the help and monetary support of the NRA. So when Bernie went to Washington, he voted against the Brady bill–repeatedly.

You have to read that article! There are tons of good links in there too.

Hillary was on the morning shows today too, and she learned from George Stephanopoulos that Karl Rove’s super pac is running an ad in Iowa that supports Sanders attacks on her.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughed off a new attack ad from a Republican super PAC run by Karl Rove during an interview Sunday on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.

The web spot, titled “Hillary’s Bull Market,” was launched by American Crossroads, which is run by the Republican strategist and former President George W. Bush adviser. After watching the ad for the first time during her interview on “This Week,” Clinton just smiled.

“I think it shows how desperate the Republicans are to prevent me from becoming the nominee,” Clinton said about the ad, which goes after her ties to Wall Street. “I find that, in a perverse way, an incredibly flattering comment on their anxiety, because they know that not only will I stand up for what the country needs, I will take it to the Republicans.”

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CNN’s report on the morning shows: Hillary Clinton zeroes in on Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton on Sunday sharpened her attacks on Bernie Sanders over the Vermont senator’s record on gun control, just hours ahead of their fourth debate as both vie for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I am very pleased that he flip-flopped on the immunity legislation,” Clinton told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” a day after Sanders, who had been hammered by her campaign for his past position, announced he would change course and back legislation to reverse a 2005 law granting firearm manufacturers legal immunity.

She then called on her rival to do the same with the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which allows licensed dealers, once they have initiated a federal background check, to complete the gun sale in question if they haven’t hears back from authorities after three days.

Good news for Hillary:

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Time: Poll: Hillary Clinton Leads Bernie Sanders Nationally By 25 Points.

Hillary Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders in a new national poll ahead of Sunday’s final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses.

The former Secretary of State is beating Sanders by 25 points nationally, according to according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of likely Democratic primary voters. Clinton is the top pick among 59% of Democratic primary voters, while Sanders has the support of 34%, the survey shows. Third-place candidate Martin O’Malley got the support of just 2% of likely voters.

Read the rest at CNN.

And From US News: Yes, Hillary’s Still the Inevitable Democratic Nominee She can recover even if she loses the first two nominating states to Bernie Sanders. Here’s why. Read about it at the link. It’s not easy find a brief excerpt to summarize the findings.

I’m putting this up a little early so we’ll have time to discuss these articles–or anything else you want to talk about–before the debate begins at 9PM. I look forward to reading your reactions to what happens tonight. This is the most important debate yet!


Live Blog South Carolina Republican Debate(s): Going South and then some

images (6)Good Evening!

The main stage debate of the Republican party Presidential wannabes will showcase seven candidates.  Four candidates were sent to the kiddie table but Rand Paul has decided to stay home since this time he couldn’t whine himself out of his basement level poll numbers . The main debates starts at 9 pm eastern.  It’s on the Fox Business News Network so be prepared to hunt for it or to stream it.   (EWWWWWWWWWW)

Seven Republican candidates are set to clash in the sixth GOP presidential debate Thursday night, hosted by FOX Business in Charleston, SC. The debate, slated to begin at 9pm ET, will feature Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich.

Another four candidates who did not meet the network’s public polling requirements qualified for an undercard debate at 6pm ET: Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. But Paul has announced that he will boycott the event, accusing the network and the RNC of picking winners and losers in the GOP field.

Fiorina already said something completely objectionable in the currently running kiddie debate.

Unlike another woman in this race, I WAS actually spending time with my husband.”

Newsweek is live blogging both the debates here and she’s a mean one, Ms. Grinch.

“Unlike another woman in this race, I actually like spending time with my husband.” Thus did former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina open the sixth Republican primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina, on Thursday. It was a barb aimed squarely at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, whom pundits and analysts expect to be a popular topic of discussion throughout the evening. Fiorina also criticized Clinton’s response to the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead—an event recently immortalized in a factually dubious film directed by Michael Bay, of Transformers fame.

“We should stop letting refugees into this country,” Fiorina continued. A similar proposal to refuse refugees, floated by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, earned him a bump in the polls, but has garnered widespread criticism from the political class.

As the night went on, Fiorina did not let up on Clinton. “Mrs. Clinton, you cannot wipe a server with a towel,” she said, referring to the Democratic candidate’s ongoing private email server scandal.

South Carolina is looking to play an important role in the elections so how the candidates position themselves will be significant.  

As this state prepared to host GOP primary debates on Thursday and next month, many Republicans are rooting for South Carolina to reclaim its kingmaker role in 2016.

Polls currently show celebrity businessman Donald Trump with a commanding lead, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. But voters here are widely considered up for grabs, likely to be influenced by earlier contests in Iowa and New Hampshire and the unpredictable 11 days of the campaign after those votes and before the Feb. 20 GOP primary.

Candidates who are struggling in Iowa—such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose father and brother won victories in South Carolina that helped them clinch the nomination—are jockeying for better-than-expected showings in New Hampshire, hopefully followed by a strong finish in South Carolina.

“It’s a chance to reset the race,” said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who quit running for president last month and has questioned Mr. Trump’s ability to build a winning national coalition in the general election. “My goal for South Carolina Republicans is get back to our roots. Let’s pick a conservative who can actually win the race because winning matters.”

South Carolina Republicans say they have had better luck picking candidates who end up winning the GOP nomination because the electorate is broader and more representative of the country than in the smaller states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

There are evangelical Christians in the northwestern part of the state near Bob Jones University in Greenville; affluent, more moderate professionals and retirees around the capital in Columbia and along the Atlantic coast in Charleston, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, and foreign policy hawks concentrated around the military bases in the central and southern parts of the state.

“South Carolina is a test for every facet of a campaign,” Mr. Moore said. “It’s not just about organization. It’s not just about message. It’s about winning a state with a broad and diverse electorate, so really it’s a test if you can win beyond South Carolina.”

In particular, South Carolina looks like a gateway to a potentially pivotal cluster of nearby southern states that will vote on March 1.

So, pull up a seat and join us for a lively discussion!!


Live Blog: President Obama’s final SOTU 2016

The President’s final State of the Union Address is tonight.   We will also get good look at the scowling face of Speaker Paul Ryan–undoubtedly clutching ball bearings and muttering about strawberries–followed by the rebuttal by South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley.  There will be no more crying orange man on the dais so Haley will get to represent Republican “diversity” tonight.  1112194_1280x720

In his final State of the Union address, President Obama plans to talk about the need to “fix our politics” in order to ensure that opportunity and security in America are strong.

A White House official says this is slated to be President Obama’s shortest State of the Union speech. His shortest State of the Union address to this point clocked in at 52 minutes in 2009.

Below are excerpts of the speech as released by the White House.

“We live in a time of extraordinary change – change that’s reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the world. It’s change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families. It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists plotting an ocean away. It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.

America has been through big changes before – wars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears. We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the “dogmas of the quiet past.” Instead we thought anew, and acted anew. We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people. And because we did – because we saw opportunity where others saw only peril – we emerged stronger and better than before.”

“The future we want – opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids – all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates.

It will only happen if we fix our politics.

Many are characterizing this speech as “optimistic” and related to the upcoming presidential election.

President Barack Obama is set to strike an optimistic and hopeful tone in his final State of the Union address.

The president will focus on cementing his legacy rather than unveiling new policies, officials have said.

Mr Obama is expected to frame some of the key issues in a way that fellow Democrats can embrace during campaigning for the upcoming election.

However, recent polls suggest that seven in 10 people in the US do not share their leader’s optimism.

A response by the Republican party will be delivered by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

In excepts from the speech released in advance, Mr Obama urges Americans to make world changes work for them and overcome fears.

He will say the future the US wants is only possible if the country “fixes its politics” and works together.

“A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything… But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens,” the speech reads.

Many Democrats will be bringing Muslim Americans to the speech to show that the United States has no second class citizens or religions.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is urging lawmakers to bring Muslim Americans as their guests to President Obama’s last State of the Union address. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post)
Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Keith Ellison are urging colleagues to invite Muslim Americans as guests to Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. So far, more than a dozen lawmakers — mostly Democrats — have heeded their call.

It’s not uncommon for lawmakers to choose State of the Union guests that make a political statement. Several Democrats are planning to bring guests who have been victims of gun violence, while two members of a Catholic religious order challenging the 2010 Affordable Care Act will attend after invitations from Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

The appeal from Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chair of the Democratic National Committee, and Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, comes at a time of rising anti-Muslim rhetoric from politicians like Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and a wave of incidents targeting people of Muslim faith.

“This rhetoric and these actions are simply un-American,” Wasserman Schultz and Ellison wrote in a letter to colleagues last week. “They undermine our values and weaken our ability to be a force for good around the world.”

Ellison is one of two Muslim members of Congress. The Minneapolis Democrat, who converted to Islam at age 19, said it’s important for public officials to extend a hand to the Muslim community, in part to counteract rhetoric from the Islamic State, or ISIS.

“Each of these people are going to go back to their community and talk about the fact that they came here at the invitation of a member of Congress, were treated with honor and respect, and they’ll directly counteract the ISIS message, which is that America hates Muslims,” Ellison said in an interview last week.

spanish_inq_1292561bMeanwhile, the Republicans will troll the President and the Democrats by bringing religious extremists and screaming WE’RE THE OPPRESSED WHITE MAJORITY!  The nuns challenging the Affordable Healthcare Act on the grounds that every one should be denied birth control because of their strict religious beliefs will be there.  Kentucky is bringing the Dread Clerk Kim Davis who all of us had hoped would be relegated to 2015’s 15 minutes of infamous bigot waste bin in 2016. Republicans continue to confuse denying others civil liberties with being judgmental and uncivil.  What better way to demonstrate it than to let all that freakishness fly?   I guess we get to see dueling definitions of religious liberty.  My guess is there will also be a staged wrestling match of bald men where the winner gets a prized comb on Fox.    Red State Republicans will undoubtedly be all aplomb.

The Kentucky county clerk who went to jail over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples will attend President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, a group supporting her announced.

“While the President will be extolling his ‘accomplishments’ of the last seven years, Kim Davis and Mat Staver will be a visible reminder of the Administration’s attack on religious liberty and an encouragement for people of faith to stand,” the Liberty Counsel wrote in a press release. Staver is Davis’ attorney and the founder of the group.

“For seven years, people of faith have been in the crosshairs of the Obama Administration. The state of religious liberty is dire, but we cannot give up.”

Yes, yes!  They’re so persecuted that none of us can have a reasonable end of the year without their railroaded version of ancient pagan holidays let alone be allowed to follow our own consciousness and creeds. Nothing like looking out at the smug faces of religious fanatics for a jolt back in time to the Iron Age.

Can we just go back to saying there’s a lot of beliefs out there and people need to STFU and keep it to themselves now?  Guess every one should expect the Republican Inquisition these days!!

So, here’s the group of folks that will be sitting with the First Lady.  It will include a vacant seat.boxguests_empty_symbolgunviolence_ribbon_o

A VACANT SEAT FOR THE VICTIMS OF GUN VIOLENCE

Last week, the President took a series of commonsense steps to help reduce gun violence in America and make our communities safer.

We leave one seat empty in the First Lady’s State of the Union Guest Box for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice – because they need the rest of us to speak for them. To tell their stories. To honor their memory. To support the Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the terrible ripple effect of gun violence – survivors who’ve had to learn to live with a disability, or without the love of their life. To remind every single one of our representatives that it’s their responsibility to do something about this.

I wonder what Clint Eastwood will say to the chair?   Will he be Fox’s guest commentator on the topic?

Anyway, it’s a live blog and a historic night.  It should be interesting.  Let’s have at it!!!


Saturday Night Live: The Democratic Party Debate in Des Moines

170151_600Tonight, the three Democratic candidates for president will face off in a debate that has now been adjusted to reflect the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. This is obviously former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s bailiwick.  CBS experienced some push back from the Sanders campaign for this move.  The debate will be held at my sister’s alma mater Drake University and should prove interesting.

A top aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., one of the three candidates, got into a lengthy dispute with executives from CBS, the network hosting the debate, during a conference call on Saturday morning. A staffer for one of the other campaigns who was also on the call described the exchange to Yahoo News as “heated” and even “bizarre,” and a second source on the call confirmed the nature of the exchange. 

The dispute centered on CBS’s decision to increase the emphasis on terrorism, foreign policy, and national security in the wake of the attacks that left more than 100 people dead in Paris on Friday night. According to the rival staffer, Sanders strategist Mark Longabaugh lit into CBS vice president and Washington bureau chief Christopher Isham when the changes to the debate were detailed on the call.

“It was a little bit of a bizarre scene. The Sanders representative, you know, really laid into CBS and basically … kind of threw, like, a little bit of a fit and said, ‘You are trying to turn this into a foreign policy debate. That’s not what any of us agreed to. How can you change the terms of the debate, you know, on the day of the debate. That’s not right,’” the staffer recounted.

Another person who was on the call confirmed to Yahoo News that Longabaugh had a lengthy dispute about the changed plans for the debate format during the call with CBS. The Sanders campaign declined to comment.

CBS will be broadcasting the debate after 48 hours. It’s also possible to catch the live stream on the web.169938_600

The second Democratic debate will be held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Nov. 14. It will air from 9pm to 11pm ET on the CBS Television Network. Pre-debate coverage will begin at 8pm ET.

CBS News is hosting the debate in conjunction with CBS’ Des Moines affiliate, KCCI, and the Des Moines Register. “Face the Nation” anchor John Dickerson will be the principal moderator, and he will be joined by CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes, KCCI anchor Kevin Cooney and the Des Moines Register’s political columnist, Kathie Obradovich.

With Friday’s attacks in Paris, the debate will also focus on foreign policy differences among the candidates and strategies to fight extremist groups abroad.

170061_600Many folks believe that Sanders will go on the attack and that Clinton will deflect.  Oh, and Martin O’Malley will still be looking to make an impression. ABC has made a list of things to look for during the debate tonight.

Hillary Rodham Clinton has been on a hot streak since the first Democratic presidential debate last month. The main question heading into Saturday’s second encounter: Can her two challengers slow down her Big Mo’?

National security will play a prominent role in the debate in the aftermath of deadly terror attacks in Paris that killed more than 125 people and left about 350 injured. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, a development that will bring terror and the U.S. response to the jihadist group to the forefront.

Heading into the debate, Clinton expects to face a more direct challenge from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in their first debate since the Democratic field has winnowed down to three candidates.

Both Sanders and O’Malley have taken steps to point out their differences and the underdog ex-governor is also trying to undercut Sanders as Clinton’s main alternative. But the debate could take a more somber tone following the Paris attacks.

Gregg Levine–writing for AJ–believes the switch in focus does benefit Clinton.

Questions on foreign policy and national security are generally believed to advantage Clinton. Beyond her years as head of the State Department, she has an international presence dating back to her time as first lady and extending through her work with the Clinton Foundation, a non-profit organization she started with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, focused on “global interdependence.”

But with great experience also comes great responsibility. Clinton’s time in the Obama White House ties her to the policies of an administration that has come under attack for its handling of conflicts in Iraq and Syria, specifically for its strategies to counter the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The armed group has claimed responsibility for the violence in Paris.

Clinton’s role in U.S. policy on Libya has proven one of her biggest potential tripwires, at least in the eyes of Republicans. The deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, in Benghazi in 2012, has spawned countless Congressional investigations and near-constant conversation in conservative media. Clinton, an advocate for military intervention in the conflict that ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, has defended her beliefs, going so far as to praise the recent Libyan elections during the last presidential debate.

The debate’s shift from the economy to national security would appear to be a setback for Sanders, especially at a time when many feel he needs to communicate his core message to a broad electorate. His focus on income disparity and an under-regulated financial sector fit well with the original focus of tonight’s event, and recent polling shows voters think Sanders is as good or better than Clinton on those issues.

But economic worries and questions of national security are far from mutually exclusive. The debate over economic austerity and its effect on domestic security, for example, has been revived in the last 24 hours. In the wake of the January killings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, French authorities said that, even though some of the attackers were known to the government, they hadn’t had the resources to track all of them.

Tonight’s debate is also likely to include questions on immigration, especially in light of the European refugee crisis and the intense focus of GOP presidential hopefuls on deporting undocumented immigrants from the United States.

Watch along with the rest of the Sky Dancers as the Democratic candidates take the stage in Des Moines.

 


Live Blog: MSNBC Democratic Forum

Screen-Shot-2015-11-06-at-11.08.26-AMGood Evening!

I have internet and TV for a change!

Tonight, Rachel Maddow will be moderating a forum for the Democrats running for president.  There are three contenders.  Here’s information on the format from Mediate.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is set to moderate the network’s only event in the Presidential primary season, a forum from Winthrop University in South Carolina. Deemed the “First in the South Presidential Forum”, tonight’s event will feature frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and former Maryland  Governor Martin O’Malley.

The event in Rock Hill, SC is scheduled to air from 8-10 p.m. EST on MSNBC. Although the event is primarily sponsored by the South Carolina Democratic Party, the event is also being co-sponsored by twelve other southern states.

Maddow was careful to make the distinction that tonight’s event is a “forum” and not a formal DNC-sanctioned “debate”. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has continued to be under fire for limiting the official number of debates to only six.

The debate is being held in Rock Hill, South Carolina.   There are many questions that loom. Will Bernie go negative?  Will any one notice Martin O’Malley?  Another question Alex-Seid Waltz wants to know is can Hillary maintain her monopoly on the black vote?

Clinton is likely to use the forum to focus on reaching out to people of color, who make up the majority of South Carolina’s Democratic primary electorate. In an op-ed published in Ebony magazine Friday morning, Clinton called for “a new and comprehensive commitment to equity and opportunity for communities of color,” that includes better investment in under-served communities.

The former secretary of state has a huge advantage among nonwhite voters over Sanders, capturing support from 8 out of 10 black voters in the Palmetto State. She lost the state handily to Barack Obama in 2008 in a bitter and racially charged primary.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during the "Fighting for Us" town hall event in Coralville, Iowa, Nov. 3, 2015. (Photo by Scott Morgan/Reuters)

Rep. James Clyburn, the most powerful Democrat in the state, said that’s been forgiven. “I have talked to a lot of people and they are not holding any of that against Hillary today,” he told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki.

But Sanders will have a big chance to introduce himself for the first time to South Carolina black Democrats for the first time Friday night, and he’ll roll out a campaign leadership team in the state that includes Black Lives Matter activists and others.

Join us to watch the forum and get answers to these and more questions!!

The Democratic candidates for president will take questions from Rachel Maddow at 8 p.m. ET Friday in MSNBC’s Democratic forum from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET.

Here are instructions on how to stream the event on internet.

The event from Rock Hill, SC will air live on MSNBC at 8 p.m. For viewers who are eager to watch the forum through their computers, the option to use the MSNBC TV app is available as well. The app is a free download from NBC News Digital. Additionally, a cable or satellite subscription with an active log-in account can access the content through http://www.msnbc.com/now as it airs.