WBEZ | President Barack Obama http://www.wbez.org/tags/president-barack-obama Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Nine Illinois lawmakers vote to fund Obama library - but only five members in attendance http://www.wbez.org/news/nine-illinois-lawmakers-vote-fund-obama-library-only-five-members-attendance-110042 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP942082181766.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois State House members are advancing a bill that would devote $100 million toward a Barack Obama presidential library. The House Executive Committee meeting in Chicago today voted, by an official tally of 9-0, to authorize using state money for the library.</p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel testified in favor of the legislation. So did representatives from several Chicago universities, including Anthony Young, who is chairman of the board at Chicago State University.</p><p>&ldquo;The legacy of President Obama has been and will continue to be one of restoring hope in America,&rdquo; Young testified. &ldquo;We feel that it&rsquo;s only fitting that the physical symbol of that legacy, his presidential library, be built in the community where his message of hope first took shape.&rdquo;</p><p>Hawaii, where Obama was born, and New York, where he went to college, also want to house the presidential library.</p><p>Nine representatives were recorded as voting for the bill, even though there were five lawmakers in attendance at the hearing. That is because Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island), who chairs the Executive Committee, employed a procedural move.</p><p>Rita used the attendance record from a previous hearing that occurred Wednesday as the vote for the presidential library cash. House Speaker Michael Madigan, who sat in on today&rsquo;s hearing, clarified Rita&rsquo;s maneuver, saying the attendance would serve as nine votes in favor of the library, even though the previous committee hearing was on a possible Chicago casino and not related to a presidential library.</p><p>No Republicans attended Thursday&rsquo;s hearing on the presidential library.</p><p>Rep. Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein) was marked as voting yes on the measure, even though he did not attend Thursday&rsquo;s hearing and was working at his non-legislative job. He had attended Wednesday&rsquo;s hearing on gambling expansion.</p><p>Sullivan said he was under the impression Thursday&rsquo;s hearing was only to hear testimony about the presidential library, and no votes would be taken.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve broken the trust and I think they&rsquo;ve done something illegal,&rdquo; Sullivan said of the procedural move. &ldquo;The legacy of a potential Obama library shouldn&rsquo;t start out as a result of an illegal act.&rdquo;</p><p>Sullivan said he would be filing a protest against using the attendance of Wednesday&rsquo;s hearing as the vote record in favor of state money for the library. In a phone interview, Sullivan said he wants Madigan, as the sponsor of the library bill, to table the proposal for now.</p><p>Steve Brown, a spokesman for Madigan, said it is not uncommon for committees to recess until the call of the chair. And it is within the rights of the committee chairman to use the attendance from the previous meeting as a vote.</p><p>&ldquo;The chairman asked for leave to use the attendance roll call. There was no objection and so that was the vote that will be recorded,&rdquo; Brown said.</p><p>But Sullivan said the move sets a bad precedent for what remains of the legislative session, which is scheduled to end next month.</p><p>&ldquo;It galls me. It literally galls me,&rdquo; Sullivan said. &ldquo;I guess it shouldn&rsquo;t gall me. They seem to try and do anything that they want to do in a very sneakily way.&rdquo;</p><p>Sullivan said he would support a presidential library using private money, but not public funds. He said that money is needed for education.</p><p>None of the five Democrats who attended Thursday&rsquo;s hearing spoke out against the bill that calls for $100 million of state money to go toward the potential presidential library.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/nine-illinois-lawmakers-vote-fund-obama-library-only-five-members-attendance-110042 Obama hints at big climate move that could hit Illinois emitters http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/obama-hints-big-climate-move-could-hit-illinois-emitters-107799 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicksuydam/3271556351/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/powerton-coal-by-nick-suydam.jpg" title="Trains sit at the south end of the yard in Powerton, Ill., near the power plant. Powerton's coal plant was the second biggest greenhouse gas emitter in Illinois, according to EPA data. (Flickr/Nick Suydam)" /></a></div></div></div><p>President Barack Obama&rsquo;s senior officials this week let on that <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/science/earth/obama-preparing-big-effort-to-curb-climate-change.html?ref=earth" target="_blank">he would attempt to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants</a>, in what would be the most significant action addressing climate change by his administration to date. (Although <a href="http://grist.org/climate-energy/the-obama-climate-move-that-nobody-noticed/" target="_blank">an under-the-radar tweak to how the government computes the cost of carbon</a> deserves a nod, as do improved fuel economy standards.)</p><p>It&rsquo;s something <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution-standards/" target="_blank">environmental groups</a> and <a href="http://grist.org/climate-energy/obama-can-tackle-carbon-and-doesnt-need-congress/" target="_blank">climate hawks have increased calls for</a> since the President won reelection in a race that, it should be noted, <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/the-issue-that-dare-not-speak-its-name/" target="_blank">avoided explicit mention of the issue for the first time since 1988</a>. It&rsquo;s also likely to further polarize Republican lawmakers and carbon-intensive industries, who will probably mount legal challenges.</p><p>Nevertheless, remarks by Obama&rsquo;s top aide on climate change, Heather Zichal, <a href="http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059983178" target="_blank">indicate he might frame the issue as a post-partisan one</a> and attempt to &ldquo;depoliticize&rdquo; an issue the President <a href="http://www.wri.org/press/2013/06/wri-statement-berlin-pres-obama-calls-climate-change-global-threat-our-time" target="_blank">has called</a> &ldquo;the global threat of our time.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html" target="_blank">Electricity generation accounts for roughly a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions</a>, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. So if Obama wants to circumvent the currently deadlocked legislative path to reining in carbon dioxide emissions, tackling existing power plants is a good place to start.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomas-merton/4883559607/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/coal-train-by-contemplative-imaging.jpg" title="A CWEX coal train, left, stretches into the distance near the La Fox Metra station in Kane County. (Flickr/Ron Zack)" /></a></div><p>Which power plants in Illinois are the biggest greenhouse gas emitters? According to <a href="http://ghgdata.epa.gov/ghgp/main.do" target="_blank">the EPA&#39;s Greenhouse Gas Inventory</a>, with 2011 (the latest verified data available) emissions in metric tons of CO<sub>2</sub> equivalent in parentheses:</p><p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Baldwin Energy Complex, a coal and oil plant in Baldwin, Ill. (12,815,215)</p><p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Powerton, a coal plant in Pekin, Ill. (10,871,825)</p><p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Joppa Steam, a coal plant in Joppa, Ill. (8,036,531)</p><p>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Newton, a coal plant in Newton, Ill. (7,284,487)</p><p>5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Joliet 29, a coal plant in Joliet, Ill. (6,000,070)</p><p>As for the Chicago region&rsquo;s biggest emitters, <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2013/01/13/carbon_caravan_a_tour_of_the_areas.php#photo-1"><em>Chicagoist</em>&#39;s Josh Mogerman has a good round-up here</a>.</p><p>In the absence of comprehensive climate legislation, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/environmentalists-protest-keystone-xl-pipeline-105576">environmentalists have made their most visible cause stopping the Keystone XL pipeline</a> &mdash;&nbsp;an issue that has <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-17/obama-s-keystone-silence-is-driving-green-activists-away.html">split the President&#39;s own policy group, Organizing for Action</a>. Next month&rsquo;s expected action could help mend the rift, or widen it further.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 11:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/obama-hints-big-climate-move-could-hit-illinois-emitters-107799 At Argonne, Obama calls for Energy Security Trust http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/argonne-obama-calls-energy-security-trust-106128 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP80880711566.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="President Barack Obama gestures while speaking at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill., Friday, March 15, 2013. Obama traveled to the Chicago area to deliver a speech to promote his energy policies. (AP)" />President Barack Obama visited <a href="http://www.wbez.org/venues/argonne-national-laboratory">Argonne National Laboratory</a> Friday (<a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2013/03/obama_at_ar.html">full text of his speech here</a>) to tour its research facilities and call on Congress to flag oil and gas money for research that could help wean the nation&rsquo;s vehicles off oil.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The idea is a clearer vision of the Energy Security Trust he outlined in his most recent State of the Union address. Obama proposed diverting $2 billion over 10 years from oil and gas leases on federal land to pay for clean fuel research.</div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Citing an <a href="http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fetrends.htm#report">Environmental Protection Agency report released Friday</a>, Obama recounted recent gains in fuel efficiency. The President responded to recent price spikes at the gas pump, touting <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/autos-must-average-545-mpg-by-2025-new-epa-standards-are-expected-to-say/2012/08/28/2c47924a-f117-11e1-892d-bc92fee603a7_story.html?hpid=z4">a jump in fuel-economy standards</a>&nbsp;under his administration and a <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/autos-must-average-545-mpg-by-2025-new-epa-standards-are-expected-to-say/2012/08/28/2c47924a-f117-11e1-892d-bc92fee603a7_story.html?hpid=z4">downward trend in CO<sub>2</sub> emissions from vehicles since 2005</a>.</p><p>Argonne is a major research center for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/54-mpg-argonne-natl-lab-wins-grant-fuel-efficiency-research-90433">fuel efficiency</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-19/changing-gears-will-advanced-batteries-charge-midwest-economy-93278">advanced batteries</a>. The Department of Energy&nbsp;recently&nbsp;<a href="http://energy.gov/articles/team-led-argonne-national-lab-selected-doe-s-batteries-and-energy-storage-hub">named the lab a national hub</a>&nbsp;for advanced energy storage technology.</p><p>Though the Energy Security Trust idea was hatched from a bipartisan team with support from business leaders, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/16/us/politics/obamas-2-billion-plan-to-replace-fossil-fuels-in-cars.html?hp&amp;_r=0">its passage through Congress remains uncertain</a>. Securing America&rsquo;s Future Energy, the group <a href="http://www.secureenergy.org/policy/national-strategy-energy-security-2013">that drafted the policy report</a>, notes that federal funding for energy technology research and development in 2012 was less than half what it was in the late 1970s.</p><p>The plan attempts to bridge a political gap between Obama&rsquo;s professed &ldquo;all-of-the-above&rdquo; energy policy, which involves ramping up fossil fuel production, and environmentalists who expect decisive action on climate change. In lieu of comprehensive legislation to curb carbon dioxide emissions, Obama positioned the Trust as part of his economic strategy. It could also potentially supplement clean energy research currently <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/business/energy-environment/future-of-american-aid-to-clean-energy.html?pagewanted=all" target="_blank">suffering from the expiration of stimulus funds</a>&nbsp;and the mandatory spending cuts known as the sequester.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F83448147" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Obama addressed the effects of the sequester on basic scientific research. He joked that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/sequester-would-cut-funding-environment-and-energy-105774">the sweeping budget cuts</a> could be to blame for a lack of chairs in the audience, but also said the cuts &ldquo;don&rsquo;t trim the fat; they cut into muscle and into bone.&rdquo; This week Eric Isaacs, Argonne&rsquo;s director, co-authored <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/03/the-sequester-is-going-to-devastate-us-science-research-for-decades/273925/">an article in <em>The Atlantic</em></a><em> </em>decrying deep cuts that he said would cancel all new research initiatives for at least two years.</p><p>&ldquo;In a time where every month you&rsquo;ve got to replace your smartphone, imagine what that means when China, Germany and Japan are pumping up basic research and we&rsquo;re just sitting there doing nothing,&rdquo; Obama said Friday.</p><p>Environmentalists also traveled to southwest suburban Lemont to protest&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/environmentalists-protest-keystone-xl-pipeline-105576">the controversial Keystone XL pipeline</a>. The polarizing fossil fuel project did not come up during the President&rsquo;s address.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/350org/8559582711/in/photostream/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/argonne%20protesters%20350.org_.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 610px;" title="Environmentalists gather outside Argonne National Laboratory, where President Barack Obama was giving an energy policy address, to protest the Keystone XL pipeline project. (Courtesy 350.org)" /></a></div></p> Fri, 15 Mar 2013 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/argonne-obama-calls-energy-security-trust-106128 Obama: Nation stronger, GOP should back his plans http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-nation-stronger-gop-should-back-his-plans-105494 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7007_AP222216659109%281%29-scr.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="First lady Michelle Obama is applauded before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. Front row, from left are, Nathaniel Pendleton, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, Mrs. Obama, Menchu Sanchez and Jill Biden. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)" /></div><p>Uncompromising and politically emboldened, President Barack Obama urged a deeply divided Congress Tuesday night to embrace his plans to use government money to create jobs and strengthen the nation&#39;s middle class. He declared Republican ideas for reducing the deficit &quot;even worse&quot; than the unpalatable deals Washington had to stomach during his first term.</p><p>&quot;We have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the state&nbsp;of our&nbsp;union&nbsp;is strong,&quot; Obama said in an hour-long address &mdash; the first since his re-election &mdash; to a joint session of Congress and a television audience of millions.</p><p>Obama broke little new ground on two agenda items he has pushed vigorously since his victory in November, both of which have been closely watched in the Chicago area: overhauling the nation&#39;s fractured immigration laws and enacting tougher gun control measures in the wake of the horrific massacre of school children in Newtown, Conn. Yet he pressed for urgency on both, calling on Congress to send him an immigration bill &quot;in the next few months&quot; and insisting lawmakers hold votes on his gun proposals.</p><p>&quot;Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress,&quot; he said. &quot;If you want to vote no, that&#39;s your choice.&quot;</p><p>Numerous lawmakers in attendance wore green lapel ribbons in memory of those killed in the December shootings in Connecticut. Among those watching in the House gallery: the parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, shot and killed late last month in a park just a mile from the president&#39;s home in Chicago&#39;s Kenwood neighborhood, as well as other victims of gun violence.</p><p>Illinois U.S. Rep. Danny Davis said that Pendleton&rsquo;s parents, who were guests of the Obamas at Tuesday&rsquo;s address, served as living examples of the pain that gun violence inflicts on American families.</p><p>&ldquo;We are the poster child,&rdquo; said U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Chicago. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think it sheds a light on Chicago that is negative. I think it sheds a light that he recognizes the problems and needs of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>Davis said he&rsquo;s confident new gun control measures will come up for a vote in his Republican-controlled chamber, as Obama urged lawmakers. But Illinois U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, seemed less confident.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we need to have conversations, but not put everybody&rsquo;s expectations at a certain level,&rdquo; Kinzinger said, adding that he wanted to take a comprehensive look at the causes of gun violence rather than focusing on new gun ownership restrictions.</p><p>With unemployment persistently high and consumer confidence falling, Obama spent a good measure of his address on the economy, which remains a vulnerability for the president and could disrupt his plans for pursuing a broader agenda, including immigration overhaul, stricter gun laws and climate change legislation.</p><p>Still, fresh off a convincing re-election win, Obama made clear in his remarks that he was determined to press his political advantage against a divided, defensive and worried Republican Party. Numerous times he urged Congress to act quickly on his priorities &mdash; but vowed to act on some issues on his own if they do not.</p><p>Obama also announced new steps to reduce the U.S. military footprint abroad, with 34,000 American troops withdrawing from Afghanistan within a year. And he had a sharp rebuke for North Korea, which launched a nuclear test just hours before his remarks, saying, &quot;Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further.&quot;</p><p>In specific proposals for shoring up the economy in his second term, an assertive Obama called for increased federal spending to fix the nation&#39;s roads and bridges, the first increase in the minimum wage in six years and expansion of early education to every American 4-year-old. Seeking to appeal for support from Republicans, he promised that none of his proposals would increase the deficit &quot;by a single dime&quot; although he didn&#39;t explain how he would pay for his programs or how much they would cost.</p><p>In the Republican response to Obama&#39;s address, rising GOP star Marco Rubio of Florida came right back at the president, saying his solution &quot;to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more.&quot;</p><p>Sen. Rubio said presidents of both parties have recognized that the free enterprise system brings middle-class prosperity.</p><p>&quot;But President Obama?&quot; Rubio said. &quot;He believes it&#39;s the cause of our problems.&quot;</p><p>Still, throughout the House chamber there were symbolic displays of bipartisanship. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., arrived early and sat with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., just returned in January nearly a year after suffering a debilitating stroke. As a captain in the National Guard, Duckworth lost both her legs while serving in Iraq in 2004.</p><p>A few aisles away, the top two tax writers in Congress, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., sat together.</p><p>But as a sign that divisions still remain, three of the most conservative Supreme Court justices skipped Obama&#39;s speech. Six of the nine attended. Missing were Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito.</p><p>Jobs and growth dominated Obama&#39;s address. Many elements of his economic blueprint were repacked proposals from his first term that failed to gain traction on Capitol Hill.</p><p>Standing in Obama&#39;s way now is a Congress that remains nearly as divided as it was during the final years of his first term, when Washington lurched from one crisis to another.</p><p>The president implored lawmakers to break through partisan logjams, asserting that &quot;the greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Americans don&#39;t expect government to solve every problem,&quot; he said. &quot;They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can.&quot;</p><p>Yet Obama offered few signs of being willing to compromise himself, instead doubling down on his calls to create jobs by spending more government money and insisting that lawmakers pay down the deficit through a combination of targeted spending cuts and tax increases. But he offered few specifics on what he wanted to see cut, focusing instead on the need to protect programs that help the middle class, elderly and poor.</p><p>He did reiterate his willingness to tackle entitlement changes, particularly on Medicare, though he has ruled out increasing the eligibility age for the popular benefit program for seniors.</p><p>Republicans are ardently opposed to Obama&#39;s calls for legislating more tax revenue to reduce the deficit and offset broad the automatic spending cuts &mdash; known as the sequester &mdash; that are to take effect March 1. The president accused GOP lawmakers of shifting the cuts from defense to programs that would help the middle class and elderly, as well as those supporting education and job training.</p><p>&quot;That idea is even worse,&quot; he said.</p><p>On the economy, Obama called for raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 by 2015. The minimum wage has been stagnant since 2007, and administration officials said the increase would strengthen purchasing power. The president also wants Congress to approve automatic increases in the wage to keep pace with inflation.</p><p>Looking for common ground anywhere he could find it, Obama framed his proposal to boost the minimum wage by pointing out that even his GOP presidential rival liked the idea. He said, &quot;Here&#39;s an idea that Gov. Romney and I actually agreed on last year: Let&#39;s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.&quot;</p><p>Obama also renewed his calls for infrastructure spending, investments he sought repeatedly during his first term with little support from Republicans. He pressed lawmakers to approve a $50 billion &quot;fix it first&quot; program that would address the most urgent infrastructure needs.</p><p>Education also figures in Obama&#39;s plans to boost American competitiveness in the global economy. Under his proposal, the federal government would help&nbsp;states&nbsp;provide pre-school for all 4-year-olds. Officials did not provide a cost for the pre-school programs but said the government would provide financial incentives to help&nbsp;states.</p><p>Among the other initiatives Obama is proposing:</p><p>&mdash; A $1 billion plan to create 15 &quot;manufacturing institutes&quot; that would bring together businesses, universities and the government. If Congress opposes the initiative, Obama plans to use his presidential powers to create three institutes on his own.</p><p>&mdash; Creation of an &quot;energy security trust&quot; that would use revenue from federal oil and gas leases to support development of clean energy technologies such as biofuels and natural gas</p><p>&mdash; Doubling of renewable energy in the U.S. from wind, solar and geothermal sources by 2020.</p><p>&mdash; Launching negotiations on a free trade agreement between the U.S. and European&nbsp;Union</p><p>Obama also called on Congress to tackle the threat of climate change, another issue that eluded him in his first term. The president pledged to work with lawmakers to seek bipartisan solutions but said if Capitol Hill doesn&#39;t act, he&#39;ll order his Cabinet to seek steps he can take using his presidential powers.</p><p>Taking a swipe at those who question the threat of global warming, Obama said, &quot;We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some&nbsp;states&nbsp;have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science - and act before it&#39;s too late.&quot;</p><p>Tackling voters&#39; rights issues, Obama announced the creation of a commission that will seek to make it easier and faster for people to cast ballots on Election Day. He used as an example the story of 102-year-old Desiline Victor, a Florida woman who waited in line to vote for several hours during the November election. Victor attended Tuesday&#39;s speech as a guest of the first lady and was applauded heartily by the lawmakers.</p><p>Obama also called on Congress to pass legislation giving the government more power to combat the rapidly growing threat of cyberattacks. And, as a down payment on that, the president announced that he has signed an executive order to fight electronic espionage through the development of voluntary standards to protect networks and computer systems that run critical infrastructure.</p><p><em>&mdash; WBEZ reporter Alex Keefe contributed to this report&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 12 Feb 2013 23:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-nation-stronger-gop-should-back-his-plans-105494 Swing state calls, the day before the election http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-11/swing-state-calls-day-election-103652 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Electoral_College_2012.svg_.png" style="height: 360px; width: 620px; " title=" Electoral college map for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 United States presidential elections, using apportionment data released by the US Census Bureau." /></div><p>We&rsquo;re down to the wire. I&rsquo;m not going to pretend to call this thing in its totality, especially because there are appear to be all sorts of last minute variables with GOP shenanigans in Ohio and Florida. But here are my swing state calls, and you can do the math -- let me know what you think!<br /><br /><strong>Ohio:</strong>&nbsp;Pretty darn close, and the one state I&rsquo;m least confident about. The GOP secretary of state just pulled a Hail Mary stunt and got half of <a href="http://www.thenation.com/blog/171011/eleventh-hour-gop-voter-suppression-could-swing-ohio">what he was going for</a>, effectively getting to suppress votes in certain areas. The President might get help here from an unlikely source; Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, is polling near 5 percent, probably stealing more <a href="http://www.policymic.com/articles/18159/presidential-polls-2012-gary-johnson-is-the-x-factor-nobody-is-talking-about-in-this-election/270867">Republican than Democratic votes</a>. I&rsquo;ll say Barack Obama wins here, but I wouldn&rsquo;t stake a Klondike bar on it. The caveat is this: Superstition aside, Obama doesn&rsquo;t actually need Ohio if he holds on to Virginia. He can even lose Florida and Ohio and still win. But that would be the ugliest of all scenarios. <strong>Electoral votes: 18.</strong><br /><br /><strong>Florida:</strong>&nbsp;The second state I&rsquo;m least confident about. Mitt Romney has been ahead here since the Denver debate, but Obama tightened it over the weekend. Gov. Rick Scott is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/04/florida-early-voting_n_2073119.html">spreading mayhem in a way that suggests concern</a>.&nbsp;If the Puerto Ricans along the central corridor of the state show up, Obama could squeak through. But they don&rsquo;t have a great history of making it to the polls. I say Romney. <strong>Electoral votes: 29.</strong><br /><br /><strong>Virginia:</strong>&nbsp;Obama won here by only 14,000 votes, but the Dems have registered more than 100,000 new Latino votes this time. The <a href="http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/politics/Virginia-poll-Obama-48-Romney-47/-/1719386/17267568/-/brnicc/-/index.html">polls say they&rsquo;re tied</a>, but I&rsquo;m going to bet that Latinos aren&rsquo;t properly represented and they&rsquo;re Obama&rsquo;s edge. <strong>Electoral votes: 13.</strong><br /><br /><strong>Colorado:</strong> <a href="http://http://www.denverpost.com/nationalpolitics/ci_21553979/colorado-presidential-election-poll-shows-obama-romney-tied">Tied</a>,&nbsp;but I think the evangelicals for Romney will win the day over the newly registered Latinos for Obama. <strong>Electoral votes: 9.</strong><br /><br /><strong>Iowa: </strong>Obama. <strong>Electoral votes: 6.</strong><br /><br /><strong>Nevada:</strong> Obama. Harry Reid will win the day here. <strong>Electoral votes: 6.</strong><br /><br /><strong>New Hampshire:</strong> Obama. <strong>Electoral votes: 4.</strong><br /><br /><strong>North Carolina: </strong>Romney. <strong>Electoral votes: 15.</strong><br /><br /><strong>Wisconsin: </strong>Obama. <strong>Electoral votes: 10.</strong><br /><br />Two states not considered swing that could be in play are <strong>Pennsylvania </strong>and <strong>Arizona</strong>. Obama leads in Pennsylvania but the gap has been narrowing and Romney&rsquo;s been hitting it this weekend. Romney leads in Arizona but that gap has become razor thin, and there&rsquo;s a Latino, Richard Carmona, running for senate who could drive a higher Latino vote than the polls are suggesting. Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes -- if Romney gets them, the election could be over. Arizona has 11. For Obama, every little bit helps.</p></p> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 09:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-11/swing-state-calls-day-election-103652 'Ode to Joy': Undecided voter finally makes up her mind http://www.wbez.org/news/ode-joy-undecided-voter-finally-makes-her-mind-103578 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/violin2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>53-year-old Bridget Kerans almost didn&rsquo;t have time for an interview before Election Day.</p><p>After all, she&rsquo;s got her job at a suburban library, online college classes, family obligations &ndash; not to mention practice time.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve wanted to do the violin for years,&rdquo; Kerans said once I&rsquo;d finally buttonholed her (and her violin) at a Starbucks in Schaumburg, where she lives. She even played a few notes of &ldquo;Ode to Joy&rdquo; before starting to talk politics.</p><p>Kerans has been one of three undecided voters WBEZ has been following over the past few weeks, to document how they make their final decision about whom to vote for in the 2012 presidential race.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/tracking-elusive-undecided-voter-102766">To recap:</a> Kerans was the die-hard Hillary Clinton supporter from 2008 Democratic Parimary, who never got on board with President Barack Obama.</p><p>In 2012, she has been pretty gung-ho about Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul, a Libertarian icon. She recently emailed me a handmade poster she&rsquo;d taped to her house, featuring a cartoon Paul dressed in a Superman outfit.<br /><br />But during the recent presidential debates on TV, Kerans says she saw something in Republican Mitt Romney &ndash; something she hadn&rsquo;t noticed before.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m looking at the face, I&rsquo;m looking at the eyes. I honest-to-God swear I can see him thinking,&rdquo; she said as we met over coffee earlier this week. &ldquo;The gears are going, you know? &hellip; And he really &ndash; the last time, he made me feel proud.&rdquo;<br /><br />Kearns says she was drawn in by Romney&rsquo;s &ldquo;Five Point Plan&rdquo; to right the economy, which his campaign says would cut back on taxes, regulation and government spending.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a big issue for Kerans, who said she still remembers what it felt like to get laid off when her long-time job was outsourced a few years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;I had to start over again in my forties &ndash; late 40s,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And now, you know, I have to do everything, so you just don&rsquo;t wanna go down that road again.&rdquo;</p><p>Kerans says she&rsquo;s counting on Romney&rsquo;s business experience to help create jobs. And she&rsquo;s also hoping he&rsquo;ll make the GOP more moderate.</p><p>So what happened to Ron Paul?<br /><br />&ldquo;I wish he was the one. I really do. I want him so bad,&rdquo; Kerans said, laughing.</p><p>But not bad enough to write in Paul on Tuesday&rsquo;s ballot, she said. And by the time the coffee&rsquo;s gone, it sounds like she&rsquo;s finally made her decision.<br /><br />&ldquo;Well, it&rsquo;s gotten much easier and it&rsquo;ll be Romney,&rdquo; she said, when I ask who she&rsquo;d vote for if she had to decide just then.</p><p>Now that she seems to have decided her presidential vote, Kerans can spend more time on other pursuits &ndash; like the violin.</p></p> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 17:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ode-joy-undecided-voter-finally-makes-her-mind-103578 Romney's shameless last-minute lie http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/romneys-shameless-last-minute-lie-103545 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6624_AP761363886569-scr.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px; " title="Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney collects supplies for victims of superstorm Sandy at a campaign event in Kettering, Ohio, Tuesday. (AP/Charles Dharapak)" /></div><p>As most of the country focused on Superstorm Sandy&rsquo;s assault of the East Coast, Mitt Romney&rsquo;s campaign hit new shameless lows in Ohio this week.</p><p>In spite of promises to lay off politics for a few days while folks were dealing with Hurricane Sandy, this is the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;v=xl77CapjzsA">loathsome radio ad</a> he&rsquo;s running in Ohio as of Tuesday:</p><p style="margin-left:.5in;"><em>Barack Obama says he saved the auto industry. But for who? Ohio, or China? Under President Obama, GM cut 15,000 American jobs. But they are planning to double the number of cars built in China &mdash; which means 15,000 more jobs for China.</em><br /><br /><em><em>And now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making jeeps in &mdash; you guessed it &mdash; China. What happened to the promises made to autoworkers in Toledo and throughout Ohio &mdash; the same hard-working men and women who were told that Obama&rsquo;s auto bailout would help them?</em></em><br /><br /><em>Mitt Romney grew up in the Auto Industry. Maybe that&rsquo;s why the</em>&nbsp;Detroit News&nbsp;<em>endorsed him, saying: &rdquo;Romney understands the industry and will shield it from regulators who never tire of churning out new layers of mandates.&rdquo; Mitt Romney. He&rsquo;ll stand up for the auto industry. In Ohio, not China.</em></p><p>This is not only a flat out lie, but Romney <em>knows</em> it&rsquo;s a lie. It&rsquo;s a deliberate attempt to play off people&rsquo;s fears about their own livelihood &mdash; a totally baseless fear refuted by Sergio Marchionne, cheif executive of Jeep&#39;s parent companies Fiat and Chrysler, who said in response, &ldquo;I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China.&rdquo;<br /><br />In fact, as Marchionne explained in a letter published in <em>Forbes</em> <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2012/10/30/marchionne-says-it-is-inaccurate-to-suggest-jeep-production-will-shift-to-china/">specifically refuting Romney&rsquo;s claims</a>, the company plans to <em>invest</em> $500 million in the Toledo Assembly Complex, bringing another 1,100 auto jobs to Ohio.<br /><br />&quot;The ad is <a href="http://http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/31/us/politics/2-american-automakers-rebut-claims-by-romney.html?_r=0">cynical campaign politics at its worst</a>,&quot; Greg Martin, a spokesman for General Motors, added. &ldquo;We think creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back in this country should be a source of bipartisan pride.&rdquo;<br /><br />What&rsquo;s the real story here? Romney used this China line at a couple of campaign events last week, but refused to answer reporters&rsquo; questions about it. Then he began to air a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;v=VQ8P04q6jqE">TV ad </a>with the same theme, which was <a href="http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/10/misleading-romney-auto-ad-backfires-with-media.php">widely panned</a>.<br /><br />But not even the absolute assurance of Jeep&rsquo;s chief executive was enough to shame Romney into pulling that TV ad. Instead, he doubled down with the radio ad, toughening the language and making a more direct suggestion that Jeep plans to move its operation to China.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s true that Jeep plans to open new factories in China &mdash; to meet Chinese demand for its cars. What that means to Ohio, where Jeep builds a series of unique parts, is that there will be even more U.S. jobs.<br /><br />And the <a href="http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20121025/OPINION01/210250332#ixzz2AJbzwUQe"><em>Detroit News</em> endorsement</a> that Romney ad cites? Yeah, they really did endorse Romney &mdash; but not without calling him out on how <em>wrong</em> he was on the auto bailout. Here&rsquo;s the part of the editorial Mitt will never reproduce:</p><p style="margin-left:.5in;"><em>Don&#39;t assume that it was a no-brainer for a conservative newspaper to endorse a conservative presidential candidate. We recognize and are grateful for the extraordinary contribution President Obama made to Michigan in leading the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler. Had either of those companies been allowed to go under, Michigan&#39;s economic maladies would have become fatal.</em><br /><br /><em>The president stepped up with the support the two automakers needed to keep themselves and their suppliers in business. We have said in past editorials that while Romney rightly advocated for structured bankruptcies in his infamous &quot;Let Detroit Go Bankrupt&quot;</em>&nbsp;New York Times&nbsp;<em>op-ed, he was wrong in suggesting the automakers could have found operating capital in the private markets. In that article, Romney suggested government-backed loans to keep the companies afloat post bankruptcy. But what GM and Chrysler needed were bridge loans to get them through the process, and the private credit markets were unwilling to provide them. Obama put a rescue team to work and they were true to the task.</em></p><p>I&rsquo;ll say it again: Romney&rsquo;s lying, and he <em>knows</em> it. And he doesn&rsquo;t really care &mdash; what he cares about is scaring auto workers in Ohio enough to flip their vote.</p><p><br />***<br /><br />In other news, on Tuesday, I <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/sandy-forces-presidential-campaigns-change-tactics-103513#comments">mistakenly gave Mitt Romney the benefit of the doubt</a>:&nbsp;I said he&rsquo;d learned his lesson during national crises and was mostly shutting up and collecting Red Cross donations.<br /><br />On the surface, both of those things are true: At an event in Ohio, originally planned as a rally and then renamed a &ldquo;storm relief&quot; some or other, Romney did gather up canned goods and other donations for hurricane victims &mdash; except that the Red Cross, the intended recipient, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/10/30/romneys_unhelpful_storm_relief/">doesn&rsquo;t actually accept any of the things collected</a>. What exactly will Romney do with that stuff? He hasn&rsquo;t said.<br /><br />Still, he managed to play his campaign video (campaign honcho Stuart Stevens <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/10/30/1112971/romney-campaign-plays-convention-video-at-non-political-storm-relief-event-in-ohio/">can&rsquo;t explain</a> how that happened) and to come off awful <a href="http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/10/mitt-romney-sandy-relief-politics.php?ref=fpnewsfeed">rally-like</a>.<br /><br />He is keeping his mouth shut all right &mdash; ignoring any and all questions about what&rsquo;d he do as president with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As a candidate in the primaries, he pledged to get rid of it. <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/30/romney-won-t-talk-fema.html">Fourteen times</a>, that&rsquo;s how often reporters directly asked Romney about this Tuesday; they were ignored each and every time.<br /><br />As to FEMA, here&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/109393/hurricane-sandy-fema-infrastructure-government-fugate-romney-obama">the bottom line</a>: But for one botched job (Katrina) during George W. Bush&rsquo;s tenure, when FEMA was run by a man who had no business being its head, the agency has been indispensable in national emergencies.<br /><br />If you have any doubt about Romney&rsquo;s position, here&rsquo;s a <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2012/10/romney-has-a-christie-problem-and-a-fema-problem.html#ixzz2AqX1fdzV">transcript</a> from the debates:</p><p style="margin-left:.5in;"><em>JOHN KING: What else, Gov. Romney? You&rsquo;ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Mo. I&rsquo;ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it&rsquo;s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we&rsquo;re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?</em><br /><br /><em><em>ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that&rsquo;s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that&rsquo;s even better.</em></em>&nbsp;<em>Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut &mdash; we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we&rsquo;re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we&rsquo;re doing that we don&rsquo;t have to do? And those things we&rsquo;ve got to stop doing, because we&rsquo;re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we&rsquo;re taking in. We cannot . . .</em><br /><br /><em>KING: Including disaster relief, though?</em><br /><br /><em><em>ROMNEY: We cannot &mdash; we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we&rsquo;ll all be dead and gone before it&rsquo;s paid off. It makes no sense at all.</em></em></p></p> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 09:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/romneys-shameless-last-minute-lie-103545 Sandy forces presidential campaigns to change tactics http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/sandy-forces-presidential-campaigns-change-tactics-103513 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6620_AP674854432505-scr.jpg" title="Waves from Hurricane Sandy crash onto the damaged Avalon Pier in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Monday. (AP/Gerry Broome)" /></div><p>Don&rsquo;t think for a minute that Superstorm Sandy has put the presidential campaign on hold.</p><p>Both President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney&rsquo;s teams have merely pivoted from overtly political to less so. For both efforts, it&rsquo;s crucial to look sympathetic and not opportunistic. And for both, the suspension of normal campaigning has serious risks.<br /><br />For Obama, whose campaign depends on the ground game at this point, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/us/politics/millions-vote-early-changing-the-rhythm-of-the-campaigns.html?_r=0">suspension of early voting</a> in crucial East Coast states is a huge blow. Maryland suspended early voting completey, and sites in Virginia and North Carolina were forced to close.<br /><br />He&rsquo;s also been effectively shut down as a campaigner. <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/83016.html">Surrogates</a> such as former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden are carrying the load, particularly in Ohio.<br /><br />The president is, of course, haunted by what Katrina did to his predecessor and has turned the White House into a command center. Calling governors, promising whatever help is needed, Obama&rsquo;s done a good enough job so far to earn <a href="http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/gov-christie-obama-deserves-great-credit-for-storm?ref=fpb">praise from one of Romney&rsquo;s top surrogates</a>: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, where Sandy made landfall last night.<br /><br />Obama signed a major disaster declaration for New Jersey, skipping a bunch of red tape to expedite aid. &quot;I can&#39;t thank the president enough for that,&quot; Christie said. &quot;Cooperation from the president of the United States has been outstanding. He deserves great credit.&quot;<br /><br />In the meantime, Romney has learned the lesson of Benghazi and is mostly shutting up. At an Ohio event, he&rsquo;s <a href="http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/29/14783736-romney-scrapping-events-asks-supporters-to-support-hurricane-relief?lite">collecting donations for the Red Cross</a>, not his campaign (this followed Obama&rsquo;s lead Monday night, when he sent out a fundraising letter for the Red Cross through his campaign list).<br /><br />Tone is crucial for Romney at this point but with the huge blackout, whatever he does might have little impact either way. In the meantime, the blackout means the last minute barrage of ads against the president are also useless.<br /><br />If there&rsquo;s a silver lining for Romney in this, it&rsquo;s that there won&rsquo;t be much viewership for coverage of his <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2012/10/29/romney-fema-hurricane/1667059/">prior comments on disaster relief</a>. You see, Romney is <em>against</em> funding a federal effort, preferring that states tackle natural disasters on their own. (Though nature does not respect state lines, that means that New York would do its own thing, and North Carolina its own thing ... )<br /><br />&quot;Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that&#39;s the right direction,&quot; Romney said at a debate last December. &quot;And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that&#39;s even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?&rdquo;<br /><br />On the follow up specifically about disaster relief, he said this: &ldquo;We cannot &mdash; we cannot afford to [have federal disaster relief] without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we&#39;ll all be dead and gone before it&#39;s paid off. It makes no sense at all.&quot;<br /><br />In other words, to provide federal help during emergencies caused by nature instead of bringing down the debt is <em>immoral</em>.</p><p>As far as Romney&#39;s concerned, that black out might in fact not be so bad afte all.</p></p> Tue, 30 Oct 2012 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/sandy-forces-presidential-campaigns-change-tactics-103513 What Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama can learn from television http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/what-mitt-romney-and-president-barack-obama-can-learn-television <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/romney-2012-cleareyesbracelet.jpg" style="float: right; height: 300px; width: 300px; " title="(Photo from store.mittromney.com)" />Being the leader of the free world doesn&#39;t leave a lot of free time, but President&#39;s still manage to participate in the great American past time of plopping down in front of the television and being whisked away to a fantasy land.</p><p>Along those lines,&nbsp;&quot;I think it&#39;s pretty funny that Barack Obama loves combating terror so much that even when he goes home at night, he watches a show about it,&quot; said <em>New York</em> magazine television critic Margaret Lyons at <em>The Paper Machete</em>, on the President&#39;s admitted love of Showtime&#39;s <em>Homeland</em>. However, Lyons thinks Mitt Romney might want to&nbsp;check out <em>Parenthood </em>to &quot;examine his white privilege.&quot; And both candidates should reevaluate their love for <em>Modern Family</em>, because &quot;I&nbsp;hope they don&#39;t think that&#39;s an average family.&quot;</p><p>Read an excerpt below or listen above:</p><p><em>Mitt Romney came under fire[last week] for co-opting the </em>Friday Night Lights<em> slogan &quot;Clear eyes, full hearts, can&#39;t lose.&quot; If you&#39;ve ever watched </em>Friday Night Lights <em>you know that it&#39;s completely antithetical to everything Mitt Romney represents. And another person who knows that that&#39;s true is </em><a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/friday-night-lights-creator-accuses-378606">Friday Night Lights</a><em><a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/friday-night-lights-creator-accuses-378606">&#39; creator and executive producer Peter Berg</a>, who came up with the motto &quot;Clear eyes, full hearts, can&#39;t lose&quot; and wrote a letter to Mitt Romney this week begging him to stop using it.</em></p><p><em>In the letter, Berg compared Mitt Romney to one and only one character in the show, Buddy Garrity, who is like the weird gregarious villain of the series; he&#39;s a car salesman who cheats on his wife and is horrible.</em></p><p><em>But it made me think a lot about what </em>Friday Night Lights<em> can teach us, and what lessons I wish Mitt Romney could have learned from watching </em>Friday Night Lights<em>. The whole show centers on coach and in the first few seasons, they live and teach in Dillon. The football team gets a huge fancy stadium and they have a jumbotron and they travel on luxurious buses, even though they&#39;re high school students. And all of that is supported by Buddy Garrity and his team of Panther boosters. It&#39;s all privately funded and great! </em></p><p><em>Mrs. Coach, in the first few seasons, is the school guidance counselor, and she&#39;s unable to provide services to a lot of her students who are poor because the school is publicly funded.&nbsp;</em><em>So this tells us that when people get to donate their money to whoever they want, they might get to donate it to football jumbotrons; they probably will not donate it to drug counseling available to late literacy learners in high school.</em></p><p>Friday Night Lights<em> focuses on the idea of group responsibility: no one of us is more important than the team. That&#39;s the message of Smash Williams, who is a great football player, but he&#39;s not better by himself, he needs everyone. That&#39;s the message of QB1 Matt Saracen, the hero of our show, who grows from nerd to quarterback with the help and guidance of those around him.</em></p><p><em>If anyone seems like Mitt Romney on </em>Friday Night Lights<em>, it&#39;s probably JD McCoy. He&#39;s the evil dad of the sad quarterback who&#39;s a jerk (because of his evil dad he becomes a jerk. I think that&#39;s how the world works, I&#39;m pretty sure. Also he looks exactly like Mitt Romney).</em></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a>&nbsp;<em>is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 pm., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your&nbsp;</em>The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 24 Oct 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/what-mitt-romney-and-president-barack-obama-can-learn-television Final presidential debate: Challenging each other face to face http://www.wbez.org/news/final-presidential-debate-challenging-each-other-face-face-103329 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP791253873404.jpg" style="height: 455px; width: 620px; " title="Moderator Bob Schieffer gestures as President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speak during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP/Michael Reynolds)" /></div><p>President Barack Obama sharply challenged Mitt Romney on foreign policy in their final campaign&nbsp;debate&nbsp;Monday night, saying, &quot;Every time you&#39;ve offered an opinion you&#39;ve been wrong.&quot; The Republican coolly responded, &quot;Attacking me is not an agenda&quot; for dealing with a dangerous world.</p><div><p>Romney took the offensive, too. When Obama said the U.S. and its allies have imposed crippling sanctions on Iran to halt nuclear weapons development, the Republican challenger responded that the U.S. should have done more. He declared repeatedly, &quot;We&#39;re four years closer to a nuclear Iran.&quot;</p><p>Despite the&nbsp;debate&#39;s&nbsp;stated focus on foreign affairs, time after time the rivals turned the discussion back to the slowly recovering U.S. economy, which polls show is the No. 1 issue for most voters.</p><p>They found little agreement on that, but the president and his rival found accord on at least one international topic with domestic political overtones &mdash; Israel&#39;s security &mdash; as they sat at close quarters 15 days before the end of an impossibly close election campaign. Each stressed unequivocal support for Israel when asked how he would respond if the Jewish state were attacked by Iran.</p><p>&quot;If Israel is attacked, we have their back,&quot; said Romney &mdash; moments after Obama vowed, &quot;I will stand with Israel if Israel is attacked.&quot;</p><p>Both also said they oppose direct U.S. military involvement in the efforts to topple Syrian President Bashir Assad.</p><p>The&nbsp;debate&nbsp;produced none of the finger-pointing and little of the interrupting that marked the presidential rivals&#39;&nbsp;debate&nbsp;last week, when Obama needed a comeback after a listless performance in their first meeting on Oct. 3.</p><p>But there was no mistaking the urgency. The two men frequently sniped at one another even on issues where they agree, and reprised their campaign-long disagreements over the economy, energy, education and other domestic issues despite ground rules that stipulated the&nbsp;debate&nbsp;cover international affairs.</p><p>Obama and Romney are locked in a close race in national opinion polls. The final&nbsp;debate behind them, both men intend to embark on a final two-week whirlwind of campaigning. The president is slated to speak in six states during a two-day trip that begins Wednesday and includes a night aboard Air force One as it flies from Las Vegas to Tampa. Romney intends to visit two or three states a day.</p><p>Already four million ballots have been cast in early voting in more than two dozen states.</p><p>On the Middle East, Romney said that despite early hopes, the ouster of despotic regimes in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere over the past year has resulted in a &quot;rising tide of chaos.&quot; He said the president has failed to come up with a coherent policy to grapple with change sweeping the Middle East, and he added ominously that an al-Qaida-like group has taken over northern Mali.</p><p>Anticipating one of Obama&#39;s most frequent campaign assertions, Romney said of the man seated nearby, &quot;I congratulate him on taking out Osama bin Laden and taking on the leadership of al-Qaida. But we can&#39;t kill our way out of this. ... We must have a comprehensive strategy.&quot;</p><p>More than a half hour later, Obama returned to the subject, saying that Romney had once said it wasn&#39;t worth moving heaven and earth to catch one man, a reference to the mastermind behind the 9/11 terror attacks.</p><p>He said he had decided it was &quot;worth heaven and earth.&quot;</p><p>Obama said he had ended the war in Iraq, was on a path to end the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan and has vowed to bring justice to the attackers of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi last month &mdash; an assault that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.</p><p>He also jabbed at Romney&#39;s having said during the campaign that Russia is the United States&#39; No. 1 geopolitical foe.</p><p>&quot;Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy you seem to want the policies of the 1980s, just like you want to import the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies in the 1920s,&quot; Obama said.</p><p>Obama was snippy after Romney, criticizing the administration&#39;s Pentagon budget, said disapprovingly the U.S. Navy has fewer ships than at any time since the end of World War I.</p><p>&quot;I think Governor Romney maybe hasn&#39;t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them.&quot;</p><p>Romney offered unusual praise for Obama&#39;s war efforts in Afghanistan, declaring the 2010 surge of 33,000 U.S. troops a success and asserting that efforts to train Afghan security forces are on track to enable the U.S. and its allies to put the Afghans fully in charge of security by the end of 2014. He said that U.S. forces should complete their withdrawal on that schedule; previously he has criticized the setting of a specific withdrawal date.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP193829189869.jpg" style="height: 227px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="President Barack Obama greets members of the family of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney after the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP/Rick Wilking)" />The two men are locked in a close race in national opinion polls. The final&nbsp;debate&nbsp;behind them, they intend to embark on a final two-week whirlwind of campaigning. The president is slated to speak in six states during a two-day trip that begins Wednesday and includes a night aboard Air force One as it flies from Las Vegas to Tampa. Romney intends to visit two or three states a day.</p><p>Already four million ballots have been cast in early voting in more than two dozen states.</p><p>Barring a last-minute change in strategy by one campaign or the other, Obama appears on course to win states and the District of Columbia that account for 237 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. The same is true for Romney in states with 191 electoral votes.</p><p>The battlegrounds account for the remaining 110 electoral votes: Florida (29), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), New Hampshire (4), Iowa (6), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), Ohio (18) and Wisconsin (10).</p><p>The televised&nbsp;debate&nbsp;brought no cessation to other campaigning.</p><p>Obama&#39;s campaign launched a television ad in Florida that said the president ended the war in Iraq and has a plan to do the same in Afghanistan, accusing Romney of opposing him on both. It was not clear how often the ad would air, given the fall&#39;s overall focus on the economy.</p><p>Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning in Canton, Ohio, emphasized differences between the two candidates on the war in Afghanistan.</p><p>&quot;We will leave Afghanistan in 2014, period. They say it depends,&quot; he said. &quot;Ladies and gentlemen, like everything with them, it depends. It depends on what day you find these guys.&quot;</p><p>Romney&#39;s running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, was in Colorado. &quot;We are in the midst of deciding the kind of country we&#39;re going to be, the kind of people we&#39;re going to be, for a generation,&quot; he said.</p><p>Whatever the outcome of the final face-to-face confrontation, the&nbsp;debates&nbsp;have left an imprint on the race. Romney was widely judged the winner of the first&nbsp;debate&nbsp;over a listless president on Oct. 3, and he has risen in polls in the days since. Obama was much more energetic in the second.</p><p>Monday night marked the third time in less than a week that the president and his challenger shared a stage, following the feisty 90-minute town-hall-style meeting last Tuesday on Long Island and a white-tie charity dinner two night later where gracious compliments flowed and barbs dipped in humor flew.</p><p>At the Al Smith charity dinner, Obama previewed his all-purpose fallback to criticism on international affairs.</p><p>&quot;Spoiler alert: We got bin Laden,&quot; he said, a reminder of the signature foreign policy triumph of his term, the death at the hand of U.S. special operations forces of the mastermind behind the terror attacks on the United States more than a decade ago.</p><p>The president and his challenger agreed long ago to devote one of their three&nbsp;debates&nbsp;to foreign policy, even though opinion polls show voters care most about economic concerns.</p><p>Growth has been slow and unemployment high across Obama&#39;s tenure in the White House. Romney, a wealthy former businessman, cites his experience as evidence he will put in place policies that can revive the economy.</p><p>In recent weeks, the former Massachusetts governor has stepped up his criticism of the president&#39;s handling of international matters, although his campaign hasn&#39;t spent any of its television advertising budget on commercials on the subject.</p><p>In a speech earlier this month, Romney accused the president of an absence of strong leadership in the Middle East, where popular revolutions have swept away autocratic regimes in Egypt and elsewhere in the past two years. He has also accused Obama of failing to support Israel strongly enough, of failing to make it clear that Iran will not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon and of backing cuts in the defense budget that would harm military readiness.</p><p>Yet Romney has stumbled several times in attempting to establish his own credentials.</p><p>He offended the British when he traveled to England this summer and made comments viewed as critical of their preparation for the Olympic Games.</p><p>Democrats pounced when he failed to mention the U.S. troops in Afghanistan or Iraq during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in late August, and officials in both parties were critical of his comments about the attack in Benghazi while the facts were unknown.</p><p><em>Espo reported from Washington.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 22 Oct 2012 21:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/final-presidential-debate-challenging-each-other-face-face-103329