The Socialist Response

9:16 AM – Today, The Huffington Post

Socialist Party USA Responds To Rick Perry’s Obama Socialist Claim

The Socialist Party USA is skeptical of Rick Perry’s claim Sunday that President Obama is a socialist.

“The notion that Barack Obama is a socialist ranks among the greatest fairy tales in American society — right up there with the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the idea that if you work hard enough your children will live a better life than you,” Socialist Party spokesperson Lynn Lomibao said in an email. “Socialists know what Obama is: another corporate funded politician placed in the White House to protect the wealth and status of the 1%.”

During a Sunday morning debate, Perry said, “I make a very proud statement and a fact that we have a president that’s a socialist.” Perry said states could do a better job than the federal government in delivering education, health care, and environmental regulations.

The Socialist Party, which The New York Times reported last year has 1,000 members, doesn’t see much socialism coming from the Obama administration.

“When Americans needed a solution to mass unemployment, Obama gave away billions in cash to bail out the banks,” Lomibao continued. “When Americans needed a single-payer healthcare system, Obama promoted a pro-health insurance healthcare ‘reform’ package that forced millions into junk healthcare plans subsidized by public funds. And when American workers asked for the right to join a union without employer harassment through the Employee Free Choice Act, Obama showed who he really answers to by betraying the promises he made to working people during his campaign.”

— Arthur Delaney

Pentagon Review: Less Troops on the Ground

5 January 2012 Last updated at 10:43 ET, BBC News

Pentagon military review ‘will axe US troops’

The US is to axe thousands of troops as part of a far-reaching defence review aimed at coping with huge budget cuts over the next decade, officials say.

The changes – to be unveiled on Thursday – are likely to end a decades-old policy of maintaining the strength to fight two wars at once.

President Barack Obama will announce the plans with Defence Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon on Thursday.

The Pentagon faces more than $450bn (£288bn) in cuts in the next 10 years.

Another $500bn in cuts could be looming at the beginning of 2013, after a congressional committee failed to act on finding budget savings last year.

Despite this Mr Obama, wary of the upcoming presidential election, is expected to emphasise that the US military budget is continuing to grow, albeit at a slower pace.

US officials have sought to portray the president as taking a deliberate approach to defence spending, insisting any troop reductions will be informed by a review of strategy by commanders.

White House spokesman Jay Carney described the planned cuts as “surgical”. The president is also reported to have been closely involved in the decision-making process.

No specific cuts or troop reduction figures will be announced on Thursday, reports say, but the White House said the review “will guide our budget priorities and decisions going forward”.

Reuters news agency says officials are considering a 10-15% reduction in the US Army and Marine Corps over 10 years – equivalent to tens of thousands of troops.

Future in Asia

The US is expected to make several large long-term strategic changes as a result of budget pressures, including reducing the overall number of ground troops and strengthening air and naval power in Asia.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says more US troops are likely to be brought home from Europe.

Our correspondent says the focus for the future looks to be on what the Pentagon calls “the Air-Sea Battle” – the creation of forces capable of containing a rising military player in the Asia-Pacific region. He says it is clearly China that the US officials are thinking of.

Defence Secretary Leon Panetta made clear last autumn that Asia would be central to US security strategy, including countering China’s influence in the region, describing the Pacific as a “key priority”.

Backing away from a potential two-war footing has been debated in the Pentagon for years.

In June 2001, then-Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress the two-war strategy was “not working”.

And when the US was in fact fighting two wars – in Iraq and Afghanistan – the military suffered a shortage of manpower.

The expected change in strategy would prepare the US to fight one war while waging a holding operation elsewhere to “spoil” a second threat.

Officials say they are using recent examples to guide their decisions.

“As Libya showed, you don’t necessarily have to have boots on the ground all the time,” an unnamed official told Reuters. “We are refining our strategy to something that is more realistic.”

Yet many of the Nato allies in Libya are facing similarly tight defence budgets, and Mr Obama is likely to face criticism from defence hawks in Congress, including Republicans and those seeking to challenge him for the presidency in November.

Finally, Obama recognizes that he has gonads!

Obama names new labor board members

By James O’Toole and Chris Isidore @CNNMoney January 4, 2012: 5:52 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The White House announced Wednesday that President Obama plans to appoint three new members to the National Labor Relations Board, continuing his end-run around the Congressional approval process.

The White House said in a statement that Obama has tapped Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin to fill seats on the board via recess appointments.

The NLRB, which is supposed to be governed by a five-member board, is down to three active members because Senate Republicans have opposed Obama’s nominees. And one member, Craig Becker, will see his term end at the conclusion of the current session of Congress.

That’s a problem, because the NLRB requires a three-member quorum to do anything, like set rules or consider a complaint. President Obama has made four nominations in the last two years, none of whom have come up for a confirmation vote in the Senate.

Obama originally nominated Flynn last January, and named Block and Griffin in December.

Wednesday’s announcement came on the same day that Obama revealed plans to appoint Richard Cordray to be the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have criticized Obama’s recess appointments as legally dubious. Since May, Republicans have been using a little-known procedure to keep the Senate in session — even when it hasn’t really been conducting any business — in an attempt to stop the president from making recess appointments.

“[W]hat the President did today sets a terrible precedent that could allow any future President to completely cut the Senate out of the confirmation process,” McConnell said in a statement Wednesday.

Obama countered that Americans “deserve to have qualified public servants fighting for them every day – whether it is to enforce new consumer protections or uphold the rights of working Americans.”

“We can’t wait to act to strengthen the economy and restore security for our middle class and those trying to get in it,” he said in a statement.

The typically low-profile NLRB has become a political hot potato since Obama took office, with Republicans charging that it’s too beholden to union interests and is hurting job creation.

Obama’s returning to Ohio with a new tone

President Barack Obama to return to Shaker Heights with a different outlook on Congress

Published: Monday, January 02, 2012, 5:30 PM     Updated: Monday, January 02, 2012, 10:52 PM, Cleveland.com
Obama-at-Shaker-Hts.JPG
President Barack Obama pitches his health care plan at Shaker Heights High School in this July 2009 file photo. The Democratic incumbent will return to the school Wednesday to talk about the economy, and it’s likely he won’t bring the same congressional salesmanship he offered the last time he visited.
SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — When he came to Shaker Heights High School in July 2009, full of first-year optimism and salesmanship, President Barack Obama called on Congress to work with him on an overhaul of the nation’s health care system.

When he returns Wednesday afternoon, expect a different tone.

The Cleveland-area visit, which the White House bills as remarks on the economy, is likely to present Obama in a new, election-year narrative. Where he once sought compromise, Obama now aims to distance himself from a Congress with historically low approval ratings.

“In terms of the president’s relationship with Congress in 2012 . . . the president is no longer tied to Washington, D.C.,” a deputy press secretary told reporters for the New York Times and Washington Post during a briefing in Hawaii, where Obama was vacationing last week.

Signs of the shift became apparent before Christmas when the Democratic-controlled Senate approved a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut set to expire Jan. 1. House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, balked at the deal and called for a full-year extension.

With senators already on holiday recess, Obama and fellow Democrats cast the Republicans’ unwillingness to forge a short-term deal as a willingness to raise taxes. On Dec. 22, the House GOP agreed to the two-month extension, handing a political victory to the president.

Further elevating the political stakes of Wednesday’s speech is the fact Obama will deliver it hours after the Iowa caucuses, the first Republican presidential nominating contest.

Obama is scheduled to speak at 1:15 p.m. Beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the school district’s administration building on Parkland Drive.

Ohio, which holds its primary March 6, remains a state key to winning in November; the Shaker Heights visit will be Obama’s 16th to the Buckeye State since taking office in January 2009. Yet Obama’s poll numbers show he has a challenge ahead. In a Quinnipiac University survey last month, 55 percent of Ohioans disapproved of the president’s job performance.

Obama won here by four points in 2008 and saw promising signs last fall after a Democratic-backed coalition led the repeal of a labor law championed by Republican Gov. John Kasich. A week after the measure went down, Obama’s re-election campaign sent Vice President Joe Biden to Euclid to celebrate with firefighters and other unionized public employees.

But Republicans were equally encouraged by last fall’s vote on Issue 3, which delivered a strong rebuke to Obama’s health care plan and passed by a greater margin than the labor law failed. On Monday, upon hearing where Obama would speak Wednesday, those Republicans were quick to recall what he discussed the last time he visited Shaker Heights High School.

A Republican National Committee spokesman emailed reporters a link to a story about the Issue 3 vote. And Ohio GOP spokesman Christopher Maloney criticized Obama for holding “political pep rallies and swing-state speeches that don’t create jobs.”

Via email, Maloney added: “The students at Shaker Heights High School and all Ohio families deserve a president who will place their needs and opportunities for a brighter future, before the focus of his own re-election.”

Tea Party message to small businesses

Tea Party Group Urges Small Businesses ‘Not To Hire A Single Person’ To Hurt Obama

By Marie Diamond on Oct 20, 2011 at 11:25 am, Think Progress

Congressional Republicans have acted shocked and offended at Democrats’ suggestions that they are intentionally sabotaging the economy to try to win back the White House in 2012. Republicans have refused to pass President Obama’s jobs plan — which experts estimate will create at least 1.9 million jobs — and proposed an alternative plan that Moody’s says “will likely push the economyback into recession.”

Now influential Tea Party leaders are throwing caution to the wind and openly lobbying business owners to stop hiring in order to hurt Obama politically. This week, Right Wing Watch picked up on a message Tea Party Nation sent to their members from conservative activist Melissa Brookstone.

In a rambling letter titled “Call For A Strike of American Small Businesses Against The Movement for Global Socialism,” Brookstone urges businesses “not hire a single person” to protest “this new dictator”:

Resolved that: The current administration and Democrat majority in the Senate, in conjunction with Progressive socialists from all around the country, especially those from Hollywood and the left leaning news media (Indeed, most of the news media.) have worked in unison to advance an anti-business, an anti-free market, and an anti-capitalist (anti-individual rights and property ownership) agenda. […]

I, an American small business owner, part of the class that produces the vast majority of real, wealth producing jobs in this country, hereby resolve that I will not hire a single person until this war against business and my country is stopped.

Brookstone cites Democrats’ support of the Occupy Wall Street movement as proof that Obama, media elites, and the like are “against business, private property ownership and capitalism.” Although she fails to explain how a freeze on hiring would send a bold pro-business message, given that such a boycott would further damage the economy and exacerbate high national unemployment.

But these Tea Partiers are only too happy to put politics ahead of the well-being of 14 million unemployed Americans, not to mention the businesses who are looking for qualified workers

Scott Brown aligns himself with Obama

Obama & Kameny [Photo]

 

Capturing Kameny

By Will Femia, Maddow Blog
Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:55 PM EDT

 

Photo: Jim Ready

As discussed on last night’s show, Jim Ready’s photo of President Obama shaking hands with Frank Kameny after signing into law an extension of benefits to same sex partners of federal employees is indeed superior to the photo used by the papers.

Still think Obama is soft on illegal immigration?

Obama’s ICE reports record number of deportations of illegal immigrants

By Jordy Yager – 10/18/11 08:08 PM ET, The Hill

The U.S. deported more people — nearly 400,000 — who were in the country illegally in fiscal 2011 than ever before, according to the latest numbers released Tuesday by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau.

President Obama’s administration touted the startling figures as evidence of its progress in stopping illegal immigration, a record that could help the president win back independent voters who abandoned Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections.

A key Hispanic Democrat, however, said the figures were “nothing to be proud of,” highlighting the dangers a record number of deportations could mean for a White House focused on attracting Hispanic voters critical in swing states such as Colorado and New Mexico.“We are deporting hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country to work, raise families, contribute to the economy, and want nothing more than to be allowed to live and work here legally,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said in a statement.

Of the 396,906 people removed from the U.S., more than half — 216,698 —had been previously convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, according to the ICE numbers, which represent a 90 percent increase in the number of criminals deported over those for fiscal 2008. The numbers mark a 10 percent increase over criminals removed in fiscal 2010 — about 195,000.

With the Republican field of candidates fighting over who can be the toughest on border security, Democrats believe there is an opening for Obama to win over Hispanics in 2012. The demographic group was an important part of Obama’s 2008 coalition, but Hispanics have been disappointed with the president’s failure to move broad immigration reform legislation through Congress.

For much of 2011, the White House has been focused on reaching out to Hispanic groups to highlight its support for comprehensive immigration reform.

The administration also shifted its enforcement policy in June, focusing its prosecutions on illegal immigrants who had criminal records. The new Department of Homeland Security rules halted the blanket deportation of every illegal immigrant in line for exile. Instead, DHS officials said they would look at each individual on a case-by-case basis, prioritizing violent offenders and other criminals, while deferring the deportation of many students and others considered nonthreatening.

The new policy, formally announced in August and hailed at the time by Gutierrez and other immigration reform advocates, was intended to win over Hispanics.Gutierrez on Tuesday said he’s still searching for evidence that those changes have taken hold.

“The announcement cannot be merely a pacifier for those of us crying out for justice and compassion,” he said. “It must actually stop the deportation of those with deep roots in our country like long-term residents, DREAM Act students, military families, and immediate family of U.S. citizens.”

ICE Director John Morton attributed the jump in deportations to the agency’s newly revamped discretionary policy.

“Smart and effective immigration enforcement relies on setting priorities for removal and executing on those priorities,” Morton said in a statement.

“These year-end totals indicate that we are making progress, with more convicted criminals, recent border crossers, egregious immigration law violators and immigration fugitives being removed from the country than ever before,” he said.

Republicans have blasted the White House’s new enforcement policies, saying they are a backdoor path to citizenship and a cloaked version of amnesty.

“The Obama administration is cooking the books to make it look like they are enforcing immigration laws, when in reality they are enacting amnesty through inaction,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) on Tuesday.

Obama, in an online discussion targeted at Hispanic voters last month, acknowledged that the deportation numbers are “deceptive” because they do not include people who are sent back to their native country after being arrested by Border Patrol while attempting to cross the border illegally.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is expected to be asked about the new policies when she appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, said earlier this month that the rising number of deportations shows her agency is doing its job to enforce the law.

“We cannot, on the one hand, be on the verge of removing, for the third consecutive year, a record-breaking number of unlawful individuals from this country with the highest number of criminal removals in American history and, at the same time, be abrogating our law enforcement responsibilities,” Napolitano said during a talk at American University.

ICE said that of the criminals deported, 1,119 had been convicted of committing a homicide, 5,848 had been convicted of sexual offenses and 44,653 aliens had been convicted of drug-related crimes.

This year’s numbers represent about a 1 percent increase in total people deported. In fiscal 2010, ICE removed 392,862 people who were in the country illegally.

The announcement comes as the debate over the country’s immigration laws has gained focus on Capitol Hill, in the federal court system and on the GOP presidential campaign trail.

The Justice Department (DOJ) has launched a fight against Alabama’s new immigration law — the latest in a series of state measures that require local law enforcement officials to establish whether a suspected criminal is in the country legally.

And Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain came under fire this week for comments he made suggesting that a border fence should be electrified. Cain later said he was making a joke and that he didn’t want to offend anyone, though he stood by the idea of electrifying a fence along the border.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Rep. Waters urges Obama to drop nice-guy act and fight Republicans, Tea Party

By Mike Lillis – 09/22/11 08:03 PM ET, The Hill

President Obama should quit watching sports and drinking beer with his political opponents in hopes it will lead to GOP cooperation, Rep. Maxine Waters said Thursday.

The outspoken California Democrat said Obama needs to fight harder for Democratic policy priorities in the face of entrenched opposition from Republicans and the Tea Party.

“He’s been very nice about it,” Waters said of Obama’s budget negotiations with Republicans. “He’s been on the other side of the aisle talking with people. He’s invited them up to the White House to have beer. He’s invited them to come and watch the Super Bowl games.“He’s done all of that, and when they eat his food and drink his beer and leave, then they go and try to kill him [on Capitol Hill],” she told an audience gathered for the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation’s annual legislative conference in Washington.

“You’ve gotta fight — you will not win this battle without fighting,” she added.

Many House liberals have been disenchanted with Obama going back to December, when the president accepted GOP demands that the Bush-era tax rates be extended to even the wealthiest Americans — a provision strongly opposed by most Democrats.

The president drew similar liberal criticism this summer for backing enormous cuts in both a 2011 spending bill and legislation to raise the debt ceiling. More recently, some CBC members wondered aloud why Obama didn’t visit any urban areas on his August jobs tour through the Midwest.

Obama this month has taken steps to silence his liberal critics, adopting a more combative tone, for instance, in his Sept. 8 address before a joint session of Congress. Liberals are also cheering Obama’s proposal to eliminate the same tax rates for the wealthy that he’d backed in December.

Still, Waters suggested Thursday that CBC members remain wary of Obama’s willingness to fight for liberal priorities when the going gets tough.

“We love the president. We want him to be successful,” Waters said. “But does he feel our pain? Does he understand what’s going on out here?”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Waters, who heads the CBC’s jobs taskforce, said she’s encouraged by Obama’s new proposal to address unemployment and rein in deficit spending. But she also warned that the group will be watching closely as the high-stakes budget negotiations evolve.

“We’re pleased that the president has a jobs proposal. Now we have to trace it and to track it … because strange things happen in the legislative process. We don’t want this to end up being just a tax-cut deal only,” she said.

“I love the president,” she added, “but I will ask the president, ‘Where’s the money?’ ”

Waters suggested the black community needs to become more involved if it wants Washington lawmakers to take notice, for instance, that the recession hit minority communities much harder than it did white populations.

“We have got to show up. The Tea Party shows up. The Tea Party intimidates everybody,” she said. “We have to show people that we have no fear. Don’t mistake the silence for intimidation.”

Waters generated headlines last month when, amid a CBC job-promotion tour, she said the Tea Party “can go straight to hell.”

On Thursday, she wasn’t apologizing.

“Yes, I was displayed in national media telling them where to go,” she said. “And I mean that.”

If anyone in the audience was surprised by Waters’s trenchancy, they shouldn’t have been. Indeed, the California Democrat had warned the crowd that she wouldn’t be holding her tongue.

“Please be worried about what I’m going to say,” she said at the start of her remarks,” because I’m going to say it anyway.”