Dear Fellow Democrats, Let me start out by claiming my naivety.Read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 19, 2015
SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Democrats caucus of the Utah Democratic Party announced Thursday that it supports Gov. Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan, the Medicaid expansion alternative for the state.
LDS Dems joins the chorus of moderate voices in both major political parties calling for passage of Herbert’s plan, including Presiding Bishop Gary Stevenson, who joined other community and religious leaders at Herbert’s news conference in December.
A short video clip of President Obama has recently gone viral. In it, he states, “And sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”
A little over a year ago, President Uchtdorf met with other faith leaders at the White House to discuss immigration reform with President Obama. Today he attended a similar meeting and again made headlines.
Photo courtesy of lds.org
Last March, President Uchtdorf was quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune as saying,
"[President Obama] was talking about his principles and what he said was totally in line with our values."
Last night NBC posted a leaked copy of the Obama Administration's 16-page white paper (PDF) laying out a defense of its controversial practice of using drones to kill American citizens suspected of terrorism. This is not really a new revelation--we knew the Obama Administration had compiled a secret kill list, and that there have been Americans on that list. But, this white paper does shed some light on how that list is justified. And there are some big changes: whereas previous doctrine held that such killings could take place in the case of clear knowledge of a specific terrorist plot, the memo says differently:
[A]n “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”
In other words, if someone high enough in the U.S. government has any reason to believe that you might have engaged in some activity, at one time in the recent past, that may potentially pose a threat of violence, they can order your death. Unsurprisingly, this document is worrisome to experts on civil liberties:
“This is a chilling document,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, which is suing to obtain administration memos about the targeted killing of Americans. “Basically, it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. … It recognizes some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are elastic and vaguely defined, and it’s easy to see how they could be manipulated.”
The 16-page white paper is likely the tip of the iceberg, with many suspecting a host of legal documents outlining the Obama Administration's justification for killing American citizens. A bipartisan group of senators (led by Ron Wyden, D-OR) wants to know more about the Administration's policy, and has written a letter requesting a more full explanation. Michael Isikoff, who originally obtained the white paper, summarizes the letter:
While accepting that “there will clearly be circumstances in which the president has the authority to use lethal force” against Americans who take up arms against the country, it said, “It is vitally important ... for Congress and the American public to have a full understanding of how the executive branch interprets the limits and boundaries of this authority.”
War is never a simple situation. We understand that. And if someone poses an imminent threat to American citizens, that person obviously needs to be stopped. But, we echo the worries of others who are shocked that stripping American citizens of due process of law (innocent until proven guilty? right to a speedy trial?) can be accepted by so many Americans--Obama's opponents and his supporters. Glenn Greenwald makes a compelling case that Obama supporters should think twice about this policy:
If you’re going to ... argue that this is all justified [if an American] is an Evil, Violent, Murdering Terrorist Trying to Kill Americans, you should say how you know that. Generally, guilt is determined by having a trial where the evidence is presented and the accused has an opportunity to defend himself — not by putting blind authoritarian faith in the unchecked accusations of government leaders, even if it happens to be Barack Obama. That’s especially true given how many times accusations of Terrorism by the U.S. Government have proven to be false.
We have written before about our disappointment in the warmongering accepted by this administration. We repeat President Joseph F. Smith's caution about becoming distracted by war's false promises of peace (posted on our Foreign Policy page):
One thing is certain, the doctrine of peace by armed force, … is a failure, and should without question forever be abandoned. It has been wrong from the beginning. That we get what we prepare for is literally true in this case.
A friend of mine posted a picture on Instagram of her toddler in front of the TV watching Obama's speech. She wrote the caption: "Breakfast with Obama." I couldn't help but wonder how the world will appear to the children who grow up with an American history that includes an African American president. It changes everything.
A good friend of mine emailed me this afternoon:
I have been so teary today with enormous joy and celebration engendered by what has transpired today. I feel The Lord had been so gracious to enable Obama to continue--not allowing the values that are so repugnant to me to permeate the culture of the next four years . JOY! JOY! JOY!
And I echo that sentiment here. Additionally, I join Senator Harry Reid in raising a toast of crystal clear water to our 44th President - here are his words:
Americans todays are wishing the President Godspeed for the next four years. People all over the world are looking at us, and our exemplary democracy, and wishing the President the best in the years to come.
I’ve had the good fortune for the last many years to work on a very close, personal basis with President Obama. I’ve watched him in the most difficult challenges that a person could face. I’ve watched him do this with brilliance, with patience, with courage, wisdom, and kindness, for which I have learned a great deal. So, Mr. President, I toast and pray for you, your wonderful family, and our great country four more successful years. Barack Obama.
All across America, people celebrated the end of 2012, the beginning of 2013, the love of friends and family, and the continuation of our world despite some presumably dire predictions by an ancient people; all the while, Americans with incomes between $250,000 - $450,000 popped their corks for a completely different reason: the aversion of the fiscal cliff and the preservation of the Bush-era tax cuts for their income brackets. And interestingly enough, we all will be paying more in payroll taxes. Specifically: payroll taxes for the past two years have been at 4.2% and will now rise to the customary 6.2%.
Alas, the fiscal cliff is averted (sort of) and the can is kicked down the road to be dealt with another day. Read this review from NPR of yesterday's (early this morning's? when did this happen?) voting in the House and the New Year's Day passage of the deal in the Senate. In the end, it was not Obama and Boenher that brokered this compromise, but McConnell and Biden. (Another pairing of the turtle and the hare.) But many on both sides of the debate are not happy with this outcome, and Boehner had some choice words for Sen Majority Leader Harry Reid, while the House is looking (especially) foolish in its handling of the fiscal cliff crisis. Additionally, as if they wanted to verify their status as a fortress of ineptitude, the House declined to vote on the Sandy Relief Bill, which prompted sharp criticism from NJ Gov. (and 2016 presidential candidate) Chris Christie:
"There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. Natural disasters happen in red states and blue states and states with Democratic governors and Republican governors. We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. Or at least we did until last night. Last night, politics was placed before oaths to serve our citizens. For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch."
But moving forward to more important things! It is a new year, and with every new year comes our responsibility as Mormons to vote for the Mormon of the Year of 2012 over at Times and Seasons dot org. And seriously, I realize Mitt Romney didn't win the presidency, but he most certainly deserves Mormon of the Year, does he not? He should definitely beat out some band called "Neon Trees" anyway - especially when the first time I heard of them is when I saw them on the list of candidates.
Let's hope for a path forward this 2013 - and choices as easy as Mormon of the Year. We need to move past this fiscal edge of the cliff mess and onto some real important things. Otherwise, President Obama's second term will be one big fight over budgets and taxes and cliffs and nooks and crannies. Seriously, we are ready to move on.
Nothing like the back-and-forth, finger-pointing, and grand-standing bluster of John Boehner to throw water on any lingering post-election celebratory feeling. Yes, the congressional Republicans are the ultimate buzz-kill. And of course, once again, President Obama is proving himself perfectly diplomatic in the fiscal cliff negotiations. He is even doing campaign stops, which makes me suprisingly nostalgic for two months ago when the idea of moving forward seemed much more of a possiblity than it does right now. Also, the President is proposing real compromise (cuts in spending in addition to raising rates on the wealthiest of Americans) while the Republicans are offering a vague proposal to close tax loopholes as a way to generate revenue from the upper 2% and to cut spending on who-knows-what.
A large majority of Americans agree with President Obama's balanced approach to dealing with the fiscal cliff. In fact, according to Kwame Holman from the PBS Newshour:
...new polls show Americans do want compromise, and it's the Democrats who hold the edge. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday shows a majority, 65 percent, say President Obama has a mandate on both increasing taxes on the wealthy and reducing federal spending.
A similar two-thirds are willing to accept tax increases or cuts in federal government programs to reach a deal. But while public support on taxes is overwhelming, opinion on proposed cuts is less so.
So according to these numbers, even Americans who may not have supported President Obama for reelection acknowledge that his balanced approach to looming fiscal cliff is the way to go. Presently, Obama's approval rating is at 55%, while the Republicans stand at a 32% approval rating. See the full report from the PBS Newshour's coverage for more complete "notes" of the going-ons of this debate.
But what does this say about the Republican's digging-their-heels approach to dealing with President Obama's agenda? Apparently, the Republicans view this as their means of getting what they want, while America sees it as more of the same. However, President Obama clearly has the upper hand. The Republicans run the risk of being the party that denied tax cuts to the majority of Americans in order to preserve tax breaks for the wealthy. And seriously, is $250,000 really the defining cut-off for the middle class? Many would disagree and believe that Obama's proposal of going back to the pre-Bush tax rates are not enough. According to Chris Weigant, "If we're going to tax the rich... then let's tax the rich." See his recommendations on Huffington Post.com.
So hope and change are once again side-stepped by Boehner's need to hold a daily press conference where he says the same thing over and over again with his gravely voice and his blunt affect: "It's clear the president is just not serious about cutting spending!" Meanwhile, America's economy is inching closer and closer to the edge of some cliff. (Probably in the Arizona desert somewhere.) Which causes me to think: while I hope we are spared a Thelma-and-Louise-type ending in 2012, (although there are a few things/people/Boehner I would like to see driven over a cliff,) maybe this is the end the Mayans where predicting? In lieu of that meteorite colliding with the earth, we get a tumble off of a fiscal cliff instead. This might be the time we should call our members of congress.
See this inforgraphic from DailyKos.com for more insight into the so-called fiscal cliff.
[caption id="attachment_2970" align="aligncenter" width="540"] Click on the Infographic to link to Daily Kos[/caption]