Your weekly presidential address for November 3rd, 2012

Good morning.

I know, I know. I’ve been terrible with keeping on top of these weekly addresses. I haven’t posted one since August 18th! Terrible. To be fair, I’ve been pretty terrible at posting at all lately. Work has been crazy and with two small boys, home is always crazy. Oh, that’s okay, it’s not like there’s anything important going on in politics, right?

Anyway, I wanted to make sure I posted this particular presidential weekly address because it will be the last one before the election. Remember these weekly addresses are not campaign videos; they are official government business. But of course they are political, and this one will be the last weekly address that the president makes before he finds out whether he will be re-hired or not.

The president asks for all Americans to pitch in to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. He doesn’t say it, because he doesn’t have to, but the last week has clearly demonstrated the competence of the president and his administration, and illustrates to everyone that competency matters. Believing that government has a role in society matters. Putting the right people in charge of FEMA matters. Believing that it is important to stop the rise of the oceans that is a result of Global Warming matters; it shouldn’t be a joke in a convention speech.

Here’s a video made by someone who was obviously very happy about that Romney joke in his convention speech. I wonder if they all think it is so funny now?

To be clear, it is not appropriate to suggest that Global Warming was definitely the cause of Hurricane Sandy, a 1,000-mile diameter storm hitting the US East Coast in late October. It is also not appropriate to suggest that every home run that Barry Bonds hit was due to steroids. It is appropriate to point out that when even a normal storm hits our coastal cities, those cities are in significantly more danger if normal sea level is now a couple feet higher.

As readers of this blog know, I have been a big proponent of the show Up w/ Chris Hayes since its debut last year. After Romney’s speech where he delivered that hilarious joke about rising oceans, Chris Hayes was visibly upset, saying that he knows engineers who were working at that very moment to keep Manhattan from flooding due to rising sea levels and violent storms. This caused this kind of reaction from the right wing:

One of the commentators on the panel (sorry, can’t remember his name, I think he might be with HuffPo) was so incensed that he launched into an explanation of how engineers in NYC were working as he spoke on how to protect the subways from rising oceans.  That part of the discussion was comedy gold.

Comedy gold. I wonder if William Jacobson, Associate Clinical Professor at
Cornell Law School, still thinks that rising oceans and flooded subways are comedy gold?

There are two likely candidates to become the next president. Neither has focused enough on global warming, but one thinks global warming is a serious issue; the other sees it is a punchline.

Mitt, Ann, and the Dignity of Work

As I posted on Friday, last week there was a super spectacular OUTRAGE on the right wing about Democratic Strategist Obama Advisor CNN contributor Hilary Rosen’s comment that Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life.” The Republicans, who are never shy about jumping on any possible gaffe and make it into a potential scandal, especially on issues where they are getting creamed, wasted no time in sending out fundraising emails, whipping up the rightwing blogosphere, and even offering merchandise on their site.

Like I said before, I think one of the GOP’s biggest problem with women voters is not just their policies, but the fact that they talk to women like women are stupid. And some of the talk from conservatives about this incident could only be believed by stupid people. I was told this weekend that Rosen got her marching orders from the president, and that she was sent out to attack motherhood to see if it would fly, and then when there was pushback, the White House threw her under the bus. That’s real stupidity folks.

Dumb people with access to Facebook

The link from Obama to Rosen has been a subject of great debate. Apparently she visited the White House 38 times? I’m skeptical, considering the right’s failures on similar claims, but whatever. Maybe she’s Obama’s best buddy; I don’t know. Regardless, anyone who reads Rosen’s quote in context knows that she wasn’t attacking motherhood; she was noting that Ann Romney wasn’t the best person to advise her husband on the issues and problems faced by mothers who do work outside the home.

Anyway, it’s not like President Obama himself said something that implied that stay-at-home moms don’t work, right? I mean… can you imagine the outrage if either of the actual candidates said something like that? Oh, hold on, what’s this:

Oh dear. Somehow these statements by Mitt Romney have completely failed to register on the conservative outrage meter. Weird. Oh well, after all, they were made way back in… January 2012. Ancient history in Mittland.

Chris Hayes deserves a lot of credit for unearthing this video and playing it on his show this weekend. Have I mentioned how much I think everyone should be watching that show? I think I have.

Reason 4,991 to watch Up with Chris Hayes

As the other authors of this blog already know, I’m pretty much obsessed with getting them to regularly watch Chris Hayes’ ridiculously scheduled TV show on weekend mornings.  My efforts haven’t been entirely wasted, as inuyesta watched last weekend and managed to get into a minor Twitter exchange with conservative guest Michael Brendan Dougherty over his appearance, ending in… victory!!/michaelbd/status/166173520869597185

Anyway, obviously, it’s a great show, and not just for the great guests or the insightful commentary.  I mean, how awesome is this, created after Newt Gingrich’s South Carolina win:

Unspeakably awesome, that’s how awesome.

This morning, after showing a video clip of Rick Santorum saying that the Obama administration’s actions concerning a contraception coverage mandate are leading us down a road to the guillotine (Ed note: HOLY REAGANBALLS!), the show’s graphic artists came up with this:


So much win.

What the contraception mandate is not

First, some facts about the new health care regulation about contraception:

  • 98% of sexually active Catholic women have used birth control.
  •  The new federal regulations mandate that employers who provide health coverage for their employees must cover contraception.
  • All churches are exempt from this mandate.  Yes, that’s right.  No church must provide contraception to its employees.
  • Church-owned businesses such as hospitals or universities are not exempt.  If the business provides a service that is not religious, then it is not exempt.
  • No person will ever be forced to take contraception because of this mandate.  If a woman doesn’t wish to take contraception, she doesn’t have to take contraception.
  • No religious hospital or doctor will ever be forced to prescribe contraception because of this mandate.
  • DePaul, the largest Catholic university in the United States, already provides contraception coverage to its employees.
  • The State of Georgia requires all employers to cover contraception, including Catholic hospitals Saint Joseph’s in Atlanta and Saint Mary’s in Athens.
  • Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, upheld and enforced a law that mandated Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception.
  • Republican lawmakers in more than a dozen states have introduced laws to ban Sharia Law, an assertion from the state of legal dominion over religious customs and practices of a religion.
  • The Supreme Court has already ruled that conscience does not trump the law in Employment Division v. Smith.  Antonin Scalia wrote the opinion.
  • The best way to prevent abortions is to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Any discussion of the recent controversy over the contraception mandate should recognize all of those facts, and if any of those facts make your particular argument weaker, then that says more about your argument than the mandate.

It is perfectly valid to believe that the government should not impose this mandate, but calling this rather modest mandate an “unprecedented attack on religious liberties” is beyond ridiculous.  Newt Gingrich is now saying that it is “the most outrageous assault on religious freedom in American history.”  Seriously, he said that.

The conventional wisdom in Washington seems to be that the Obama administration has blundered again, picking a fight with people who care strongly about religious freedom.

The debate is stealing attention from where Obama wants it, on the improving economy, and could alienate moderate voters.

I hope it surprises absolutely no one that I completely disagree with the conventional wisdom here.  Rachel Maddow talked about this with Chris Hayes last night on her show.  That video provides the best analysis of this issue that I have seen so far.

Griswold was 47 years ago.  People are pretty comfortable with contraception as a good thing now.

If the Republicans want to make the issue of contraception coverage into a campaign issue (and clearly Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich really really do) then I am frankly delighted.