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Archive for the ‘2010 Mid Term Elections’ Category

Kos Notes Danger for Baggers, Opportunity for Dem

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I may not always agree with Kos, but when he writes the following:

Every Republican in the House faces reelection in 2012. And while we don’t know what the maps will look like in most cases (we have redistricting next year), they’re not all going to be able to draw themselves safe districts. They clearly have no interest or ideas on how to deal with the top voter concerns. So they’re doubling down on the social issues, even if it means antagonizing key voter groups like Latinos. (Ask Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, and the California twins how that worked out for them.)

They’ll spend the next two years ranting about things voters don’t care about. And come 2012, when things haven’t improved, it’ll be their turn to be on the receiving end of a voter backlash.

…All I can say is, “Yup.”

Of course, the new Republican Reps can always look for legislative compromises that will help the economy, but then they would face the same baying hoards of Teabaggers that put them in office with their well known “enthusiasm”.

Written by slothropia

November 23rd, 2010 at 12:36 pm

The Ultimate Republican Goal

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The conventional wisdom is that the republicans in congress are less willing to compromise on legislation than are the Democrats. I see no reason or basis for challenging the conventional wisdom in this regard. By the way, it is not just Washington Dems who are flaccid in the face of determined opposition. On Friday, November 12, New York Times columnist Charles Belew cited a Pew Research poll that found that:

…About half of the respondents said that President Obama still should take the lead in solving the nation’s problems. Only 39 percent said the same about Bill Clinton in 1994 and only 29 percent said so about George W. Bush in 2006. This seems to be at odds with what Republican respondents want. By more than 2 to 1, Republicans think that their leaders should “stand up to Obama” as opposed to working with him, and most think that those leaders should stick to their positions as opposed to making compromises. (This is stunning. Compromise is how democracies function. Are they saying that they don’t want a functioning democracy?)

I think that is exactly what they are saying. For more than 70 years the GOP has been trying to undo the New Deal. The New Deal was a democratic (small d) response to a national existential crisis. In those long ago days the Democrats did what the people told them to do and the people demanded action. The action they got upset the corporatist ancient regime. From that time the Republicans’ prime directive has been to repeal as much of the New Deal as possible and to return power to the wealthy and the corporations. Reagan made the most progress toward that goal, but the project has continued for the last 30 years. The result has been stagnant or declining wags for the middle class and a dramatic transfer of wealth upward.

But what is the ultimate goal of the Republicans. How much wealth and power will be enough for their elite clients? What kind of society do they think and hope will result from the fulfillment of their agenda? Maybe Newt Gingrich has offered us a clue:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is urging conservatives to operate as though they’re in a 10-year plan to “replace the left.”
Gingrich, speaking in Dallas on Thursday, told a conservative crowd “to think in terms of January 2021,” according to CNN.
“Rejection doesn’t fix a center-left coalition,” the former Republican congressman from Georgia said. “We have to decide we’re going to replace the left.”

“If we truly want a wave of change that ends a majority system that has been around since 1932, the wave can’t be the Oval Office,” he said. “Not that the presidency isn’t important, and not that I may not come back here another day and talk to you about a different topic, but that that topic by itself is too narrow.”
“The only way the presidency matters is if there’s a wave of citizens,” he concluded.

How does a country replace its left (or right for that matter)? It sounds like Newtie would like to live in a country where the trains run on time (only Republicans don’t like trains). Gingriches fantasy sounds very much like a one party state, where power would be concentrated at the top of the food chain.

Here is a definition of fascism from wordiq:

• exalts nation and sometimes race above the individual,
• uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition,
• engages in severe economic and social regimentation.
• engages in corporatism (sometimes defined as the tendency in politics for legislators and administrations to be influenced or dominated by the interests of business enterprises (limited liability corporations).

Does this sound like your friendly neighborhood Republican? Sure sounds to me like an apt description of Sharon Angle and a few others.

Meanwhile the Democrats continue to bring (metaphorical) plastic spoons to (figurative) knife fights. To be fair, not all Democrats are spineless. But the Democratic party is not really a left party in any meaningful sense. In fact, Newtie’s goal has long been realized. The left was replaced within the Democratic Party sometime during the Clinton presidency. Progressives or liberals are tolerated and sometimes even given leadership positions (see Nancy Pelosi). But the real leaders of the Democrats always make sure that policy and debate remain within well marked center right boundaries.

Republicans of course don’t see it that way, and their eliminationist rhetoric and practices will continue until they are opposed, either by the Democrats or some other formation not yet born.

Written by slothropia

November 14th, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Bill Moyers: “Welcome to the Plutocracy!”

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Remember Bill Moyers? he finished off a brilliant career in politics and political journalism with an outstanding PBS program, Bill Moyers Journal (archived video still available at the PBS website). On October 29 at Boston University, Moyers gave a speech paying tribute to Howard Zinn, the People’s Historian. Truthout was kind enough to publish a transcript of the speech and you can read it for yourself by following the link above (where it says Truthout in a blue font).

This wasn’t just a “What a great guy Howard Zinn was speech.” I did not know Howard Zinn but I imagine he would not have appreciated a glowing eulogy for its own sake and with no larger purpose. Rather, Moyers incorporated Zinn’s passionate democratic impulse into a discussion of the dire state of U.S. politics in the early twenty first century. He describes and names the new form of government in the U.S.: Plutocracy. Rule by the rich. That is the entire agenda of the Republican party, Teabaggers and all. They have no plan for reducing unemployment or for solving any other problem facing their country. Give the rich more wealth and the corporations more power. Everyone and every thing else can go hang. And of course that is just what many do.

Here then are some key quotes:

Time for a confession. The legendary correspondent Edward R. Murrow told his generation of journalists that bias is okay as long as you don’t try to hide it. Here is mine: Plutocracy and democracy don’t mix. Plutocracy too long tolerated leaves democracy on the auction block, subject to the highest bidder.

Socrates said to understand a thing, you must first name it. The name for what’s happening to our political system is corruption – a deep, systemic corruption. I urge you to seek out the recent edition of Harper’s Magazine. The former editor Roger D. Hodge brilliantly dissects how democracy has gone on sale in America. Ideally, he writes, our ballots purport to be expressions of political will, which we hope and pray will be translated into legislative and executive action by our pretended representatives. But voting is the beginning of civil virtue, not its end, and the focus of real power is elsewhere. Voters still “matter” of course, but only as raw material to be shaped by the actual form of political influence – money.

James Madison and many of his contemporaries knew this kind of corruption could consume the republic. Looking at history a tragic lens, they thought the life cycle of republics – their degeneration into anarchy, monarchy, or oligarchy – was inescapable. And they attempted to erect safeguards against it, hoping to prevent private and narrow personal interests from overriding those of the general public.

They failed. Hardly a century passed after the ringing propositions of 1776 than America was engulfed in the gross materialism and political corruption of the First Gilded Age, when Big Money bought the government right out from under the voters. In their magisterial work on The Growth of the American Republic, the historians Morrison, Commager, and Leuchtenberg describe how in that era “privilege controlled politics,” and “the purchase of votes, the corruption of election officials, the bribing of legislatures, the lobbying of special bills, and the flagrant disregard of laws” threatened the very foundations of the country.”

Referring to the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, Moyers continues:

Conservatives of the day – pro-corporate apologists – hijacked the vocabulary of Jeffersonian liberalism and turned words like “progress,” “opportunity,” and “individualism” into tools for making the plunder of America sound like divine right. Laissez faire ideologues and neo-cons of the day – lovers of empire even then – hijacked Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and so distorted it that politicians, judges, and publicists gleefully embraced the notion that progress emerges from the elimination of the weak and the “survival of the fittest.” As one of the plutocrats crowed: “We are rich. We own America. We got it, God knows how, but we intend to keep it.”

And they have never given up. The Gilded Age returned with a vengeance in our time. It slipped in quietly at first, back in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan began a “massive decades-long transfer of national wealth to the rich.” As Roger Hodge makes clear, under Bill Clinton the transfer was even more dramatic, as the top 10 percent captured an ever-growing share of national income. The trend continued under George W. Bush – those huge tax cuts for the rich, remember, which are now about to be extended because both parties have been bought off by the wealthy – and by 2007 the wealthiest 10% of Americans were taking in 50% of the national income. Today, a fraction of people at the top today earn more than the bottom 120 million Americans.

(Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan) said President Reagan’s real strategy was to force the government to cut domestic social programs by fostering federal deficits of historic dimensions. Senator Moynihan was gone before the financial catastrophe on George W. Bush’s watch that could paradoxically yet fulfill Reagan’s dream. The plutocrats who soaked up all the money now say the deficits require putting Social Security and other public services on the chopping block. You might think that Mr. Bush today would regret having invaded Iraq on false pretenses at a cost of more than a trillion dollars and counting, but no, just last week he said that his biggest regret was his failure to privatize Social Security. With over l00 Republicans of the House having signed a pledge to do just that when the new Congress convenes, Mr. Bush’s vision may yet be realized.

Daniel Altman also saw what was coming. In his book Neoconomy he described a place without taxes or a social safety net, where rich and poor live in different financial worlds. “It’s coming to America,” he wrote. Most likely he would not have been surprised recently when firefighters in rural Tennessee would let a home burn to the ground because the homeowner hadn’t paid a $75 fee.

That’s what is coming to America.

Everyone knows millions of Americans are in trouble. As Robert Reich recently summed it the state of working people: They’ve lost their jobs, their homes, and their savings. Their grown children have moved back in with them. Their state and local taxes are rising. Teachers and firefighters are being laid off. The roads and bridges they count on are crumbling, pipelines are leaking, schools are dilapidated, and public libraries are being shut.

Why isn’t government working for them? Because it’s been bought off. It’s as simple as that. And until we get clean money we’re not going to get clean elections, and until we get clean elections, you can kiss goodbye government of, by, and for the people. Welcome to the plutocracy.

But here’s the key: If you’re fighting for a living wage, or peace, or immigration reform, or gender equality, or the environment, or a safe neighborhood, you are, of necessity, strongly opposed to a handful of moneyed-interests controlling how decisions get made and policy set. Because most Americans are attuned to principle of fair play, of not favoring Big Money at the expense of the little guy – at the expense of the country they love. The legendary community organizer Ernesto Cortes talks about the “power to preserve what we value.” That’s what we want for Americans – the power to preserve what we value, both for ourselves and on behalf of our democracy.

But let’s be clear: Even with most Americans on our side, the odds are long. We learned long ago that power and privilege never give up anything without a struggle. Money fights hard, and it fights dirty. Think Rove. The Chamber. The Kochs. We may lose. It all may be impossible. But it’s OK if it’s impossible. Hear the former farmworker and labor organizer Baldemar Velasquez on this. The members of his Farm Labor Organizing Committee are a long way from the world of K Street lobbyists. But they took on the Campbell Soup Company – and won. They took on North Carolina growers – and won, using transnational organizing tacts that helped win Velasquez a “genius” award from the MacArthur Foundation. And now they’re taking on no less than R. J. Reynolds Tobacco and one of its principle financial sponsors, JPMorgan-Chase. Some people question the wisdom of taking on such powerful interests, but here’s what Velasquez says: “It’s OK if it’s impossible; it’s OK! Now I’m going to speak to you as organizers. Listen carefully. The object is not to win. That’s not the objective. The object is to do the right and good thing. If you decide not to do anything, because it’s too hard or too impossible, then nothing will be done, and when you’re on your death bed, you’re gonna say, “I wish I had done something. But if you go and do the right thing NOW, and you do it long enough “good things will happen—something’s gonna happen.”

Shades of Howard Zinn!

If you’re looking fo0r a heroic example to emulate, how about that Howard Zinn.

Written by slothropia

November 10th, 2010 at 12:13 am

U.S. Midterm Elections: Voters Poke Selves in Eye

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Never mind the predictions I made the night before Election Day. Some of them were right and some were not so accurate. Good thing I don’t make a living as a psychic.

The consensus prediction was that the Republicans would win way more than enough seats in the U.S. House to take charge, and they did. They also added six new Senators to their caucus and enjoyed a net gain of 7 or 8 governors (some of those races are still open). The GOP even won 55 out of 99 state legislature chambers and increased the number of stares where they control both houses.

The focus now becomes what happens next. Senior Republicans at all levels and in all jurisdictions are saying there is no room for compromise with Obama and the Democrats. The president today, however, told a White House press conference that he is ready and willing to sit down with Republicans and try to find common ground to solve the nation’s problems (I am paraphrasing).

Of course for two years, the Teapublicans have been yelling about out of control spending and federal budget deficits. It turns out to have been a shrewd tactic in that the GOPers won the House and made gains in the Senate. During the campaign the GOP said very little about what they would do about jobs and the economy, the number one issue on voters minds per exit polling conducted on Election Day. The Democrats during he campaign seemed to have not much to offer either except to say “We’ve done our best and we’re on the right track.” No comfort there for the jobless, the homeless and the soon to be foreclosed upon.

In fact, most economists will tell you that there is very little hope for the employment picture to brighten unless there is some stimulus from the federal government. But the Republicans are pretending that the voters care more about the deficit than unemployment. They have no stated plans to do anything about unemployment except maybe transfer even more wealth upward in the form of tax cuts for the wealthy.

Here’s Krugman reacting to Obama’s press conference today:

Nobody cares about this stuff — they care about results. Nobody really cares about earmarks; they’re just code for spending less (less on somebody else, of course, not me). Nobody cares about civility and bipartisanship, which in practice are code for Democrats giving in to Republican demands. Nobody cares about parliamentary maneuvers: we can argue about the role of health reform in the election, but I bet not one voter in 50 knows or cares that it was passed using reconciliation (as were the sacred Bush tax cuts we must, must retain).

If Obama had used fancy footwork and 2 AM sessions to pass a big public works program, and this program had brought unemployment down, Republicans would be screaming about the process — and Democrats would have comfortably held control of Congress. Remember the voter backlash against the way Medicare drug benefits were passed? Neither do I.

Oh, by the way — nobody cares about the deficit, either.

Anyone who pays attention to government and politics in the U.S. should know that Republicans are not interested in solving unemployment. Maybe that’s why Republican favorability is even lower than Democrats’, already measured in opinion surveys but confirmed in Election Day exit polling. How many of those informed voters voted Republican anyway? How many low information voters voted Republican to punish the Democrats for failing to lower unemployment?

At this point it looks as though the short term impact of the election results will be a stalemate in Washington, with the Republican Tea Bag coalition passing unacceptable spending cuts and other mischievous legislation, which the Senate will refuse to pass and the White House forced to veto whatever right wing crap does manage to slither through the process.

The Republican posture at the moment is aggressive and uncompromising. Too Democrats in Washington are ready as ever to apologize for having any principles, although it is important to note that the 99% of the Progressive Caucus was reelected while about half of the Blue Dogs were sent packing. The problem is that the president’s weak approach to both policy and messaging means that Republicans win arguments by yelling louder (usually but not always figuratively).

So in the short term, if everybody follows the script the Right and the corporate media have written, there will be no federal action to stimulate the economy. The Republicans keep saying they want to reduce spending but have cleverly avoided saying what they would cut to balance the budget. Any cuts that are made will depress the economy further and delay full recovery that much further.

This is not the policy result people wanted but that is what they voted for. They bought a pig in a poke and poked themselves in the eye doing it.

The other plank in the Republicans stripped down p[platform was a promise to repeal “Obama Care”. On this, they do have some backing in public opinion, but the corporate media rarely notes that some something like a third of those who oppose health care reform do so because they don’t think it goes far enough. There is still a lot of support for a public option or even single payer, but shush, don’t let the rubes know that.

At least part of the credit for the GOP victory goes to the big, secret bucks that bought all those negative ads. And the corporate media (not just Fox NOT News Channel) reinforces the memes that the Right needs to be reinforced. And the 24 hour information vacuum still deprives people of the knowledge they need to make basic political decisions, like who to vote for to get the policy results they want.

Maybe, after the Right has completely destroyed the middle class and made living conditions intolerable for almost everybody, maybe then the poor and the middle class will gang up on the rich. Maybe when state and federal governments stop functioning because the nation’s wealth was squandered in foreign wars, then maybe people will begin demand real democracy and equality.

In the meantime, I couldn’t put it any better than good ole Digby:

So, here we are. People keep asking me what this means for the progressive movement and I reply — nothing. Progressives are in this for the long haul. And anyone with any experience knows that the country is polarized between the right and the left, with a bunch of people in between who don’t know what to think. All we can do is keep trying out different ways to persuade them that their best bet is to go with the progressive philosophy and require our elected politicians to figure out how to turn that philosophy into governance. It’s a long term battle that has periods of intense confrontation and calm conciliation, but it never really ends.

As you go about your business today, feeling like hell, keep in mind that it was just two years ago that many of the same pundits and gasbags were assuring us all that the conservative movement was dead. We are doing a lot of lurching about right now because the country is under stress and our political system is dividing strongly along partisan lines. Get used to it. I suspect we’re going to be in for turbulent politics like this for some time. And if we play our cards right, and the Democrats don’t completely implode, it’s probable that at the end of the day we (or those who come behind us) will look back and see that human rights, economic justice and peace came out the winners more often than not.

Written by slothropia

November 3rd, 2010 at 11:45 pm

2010 Mid Term Election Predictions and Analysi

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Well, time to dust off the ol’ crystal ball and see what’s gonna happen tomorrow. Fear and loathing in the Midwest. One thing I’m pretty sure will happen is I will drown my progressive Green Wobbly sorrows at Drinking Liberally – Kelleher’s Tavern on Water Street in Peoria, 6:30 to?

Let me start locally. Here in Tazewell county, I predict that the incumbent Republican Sheriff will lose to the Democratic challenger. Davis (Dem) over Huston (GOP). Spanos will win a judgeship in the 10th circuit.

I think Mike Smith and Jehan Gordon (both Dems) will survive and retain their seats in the Illinois House.

In Central Illinois U.S. House races, Dems will suffer painful losses. There is very little chance of DK Hirner beating Aaron Schock of the fabulous 6 pack abs. What am I saying? There is no chance. This time. The Green party’s Sheldon Schafer will exceed expectations and get 3 or 4 per cent.

In Illinois 17, I think Debbie Halvorson will be a victim of the Republican wave and lose to whoever the tea baggers are running. Over in Il 19, I think Phil hare will win by a whisker, thanks to superior gotv. Get it? Hare by a whisker. Ha ha. I slay me.

Moving on to U.S Senate, sadly, Lealan Jones will come in third. Giannoulias will be first runner up, and the new Miss Illinois is Mark Kirk. Ptoui.

Pat Quinn will fall victim to the anti-incumbency mood, Blago hangover and his own dithering and hand the Governorship to tea bagger Bill Brady. Illinois is so screwed. Whitney of the Greens has a chance of getting five per cent and keeping his party on the ballot.

One caveat: if the Democratic gotv is really really good, one or both of Giannoulias and Quinn might squeak through.

Shall we look at selected races around the U.S. of A? First, the bad news: Rubio takes the Senate seat in Florida (big surprise,eh?). The good news is that FL’s new Governor will be Democrat Alex Sink.

Up the coast a bit, I am bravely predicting Tom Perriello retains his House seat. Maybe after a recount. Delaware…well, you know. O’Donnell is toast. But we can still feel lust in our hearts for her. maybe she’ll be back on TV with Bill Maher. Oh, and congrats to new Senator Chris Coons.

Joe Sestak will not be so lucky (unless the gotv is spectacular), but Blumenthal in Connecticut and Mancin in WV will be.

In Ohio, Dems reelect Strickland as Governor but lose the open Senate seat big time.

In KY Paul has the jelly. More ptoui.

In Co, Bennett beats buck. I do believe Reid will sneak past Sharon Angle, one of the most repulsive politicians I have ever seen live or on tv.

Good news for the Dems in CA, where Brown and Boxer both prevail.

Way up north in Alaska, I am going to go way out on a limb and predict that Scott Macadam will be the new Senator from the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Those are some cherry picked races to which I have paid enough attention to be able to predict a winner. I don’t really have a system or methodological basis for such predictions. I just soak up whatever info I can find in various media and then let my gut make the call. Accuracy sometimes suffers from wishful thinking. Please do not use these predictions for betting purposes. I couldn’t live with myself if you lost your home because my gut was acting up.

As far as the big picture goes, the Go Teabaggers will have more governorships after tomorrow. The Democrats will still have a Senate majority. In the House, everybody is predicting 50 or so seats lost by theb Dems to the GOP. Some see the possibility of 70 to 77 Dem seats changing hands – or whatever it is that seats change.

Nate Silver is one of those pundits predicting the Democrats will lose 55 or 56 House seats. But silver also sees a possibility that Dem losses might not be so bad. In fact, he says it is possible the Democrats keep their House majority.

I have found it hard to believe that U.S. voters would reward republicans so lavishly for creating the Great Recession and then being obstructionist and completely uninterested in trying to end it. The GOP – and to be fair, the Democrats – have run a pretty vacant campaign. Neither party has had much to say about how to lower unemployment. Yes, the right talks about reducing taxes, government spending and something called the “size and scope of the federal government”. Who cares about such abstractions when people are losing their home.

I also think the Democrats gotv effort could mitigate their losses.

Nate silver also see this as a possibility. In fact, he has a post at 538 today titled 5 Reasons Democrats Could beat the polls and keep the House.

1. The cellphone effect. This one is pretty simple, really: a lot of American adults (now about one-quarter of them) have ditched their landlines and rely exclusively on their mobile phones, and a lot of pollsters don’t call mobile phones. Cellphone-only voters tend to be younger, more urban, and less white — all Democratic demographics — and a study by Pew Research suggests that the failure to include them might bias the polls by about 4 points against Democrats, even after demographic weighting is applied.
2. The ‘robopoll’ effect. Unlike in past years, there are significant differences between the results shown by automated surveys and those which use live human interviewers — the ‘robopolls’ being 3 or 4 points more favorable to Republicans over all, although the effects vary a lot from firm to firm.
3. Some likely voter models, particularly Gallup’s, may “crowd out” Democratic voters. Gallup’s traditional likely voter model has consistently shown terrible results for Democrats this year, having them down by around 15 points on the generic ballot, which could translate into a loss of 70 to 80 House seats, or maybe even more. The Gallup poll and the Gallup poll alone is probably responsible for much of the sense of impending doom that Democrats feel and the (premature for at least 24 more hours) sense of triumphalism that Republicans are experiencing.
4. Democrats probably have better turnout operations. This is always what a party says when it’s about to lose an election: our amazing turnout operation will save us!

Still, Democrats probably do have an edge in this department with the voter lists and infrastructure they built up during Barack Obama’s campaign, and which have been perpetuated to some extent by Organizing For America. John McCain, by contrast, eschewed his ground game, devoting almost all of his money to advertising.

Now, Republicans may not need a terrific turnout operation — their voters are charged up enough, and probably don’t need a lot of glossy fliers and door-knocks.

Nevertheless, Democrats might be able to coax an extra percentage point or two of their vote to the polls, especially in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania where they’ve invested a ton of resources over the years. And in the event where Democratic turnout equaled that of Republicans (it won’t; the point is they might be able to get it a bit closer), they would probably hold the House, even with most independents breaking against them.
5. The consensus view of Democratic doom is not on such sound footing as it seems. When a party is likely to sustain fairly significant losses in a midterm election — and Democrats are going to sustain fairly significant losses tomorrow — there are a lot of things you might expect to see.

This is the optimistic view, and Silver doesn’t see this scenario as probable. But it is not impossible either.

Bottom line, I go along with the consensus that Dems will lose the House, but, I would not be surprised if we are all surprised.

Tomorrow, I will consider what the changed landscape in Congress (whatever it is) might mean.

Donald Duck v Glenn Beck – Maddow v Robinson

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You can find this remix and more at rebellious pixels. I was led there by a link at Raw Story.

Here’s another cartoon that’s almost as funny.

Most who read political blogs or watch MSNBC will have at least heard about this notorious train wreck of an interview.

Written by slothropia

October 11th, 2010 at 10:06 pm

A Fine Whine:What More Do Progressives Want?

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I am getting sick and tired of pundits asking rhetorically, as Chris Matthews did today, “What more do progressives want?” in reference to the so called “enthusiasm gap”. Democratic turnout is supposed to be depressed this year, in contrast with the Republican Tea party, whose voters are said to be lining up to vote like techno geeks waiting to buy the latest toy from Apple. In recent weeks, the President, the Vice-president and all the President’s surrogates have taken to lecturing Democrats to “buck up” and vote because it is too important not to.

Somehow all this exhortation gets translated into the Democrats and the Obama administration blaming progressives for not being supportive enough. Now one can’t get through an hour of cable news or the Sunday chats without hearing “What more do progressives want?” Progressives, you see are supposed to be happy and grateful for all the legislation passed by the Democratic congress and signed into law by the Democratic president. Things like the health care reform, financial regulation and the economic stimulus of 2009.

As I have indicated in previous posts, I am in fact disappointed with the Obama administration and the Congressional Democrats. But that’s OK. I am not a big D Democrat. I am a progressive (a socialist, really) but I almost always vote for whatever Democrat on the ballot. This year will be no different. I anticipate splitting my votes between the Green and Democratic parties. And I always vote. Even if I only have a ficus plant to vote for. I am not the problem. The people who might not vote are less interested in politics than your garden variety progressive blogger. You know, like the unemployed and working poor, some minorities, poor people, youth. Progressives would like to have seen the Dems do more to address the concerns of these groups and others, but we will still vote against the GOP.

And that’s the Democrats’ last resort in capturing the progressive vote. The other guys are worse. Way worse. Worse than ever.

So let me try to answer the question “What more do progressives want?” Maybe I’ll throw in (for free) a few things I, at least, did not and do not want.

For starters, I wanted anyone who committed war crimes on behalf of the U.S. government held accountable. Maybe not a prison sentence for W, but at least some acknowledgment that U.S. and International laws were violated and at least a hope that it would not happen again. I did not want to see Obama’s first Solicitor General (now a Supreme Court Justice) argue in Federal Court that, “the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying — that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.” That’s not what i voted for.

Of course, I wanted health care reform to include a single payer health insurance system. I knew it wasn’t politically doable, but the proposal and the argument should have and could have been made. Failing that I would like to have seen the President fight vigorously for the public option. Would a greater effort have changed the immediate outcome? I don’t know, but again, making the effort would at least have altered the debate, making future progress more likely. I certainly did not want to sere the President’s Chief of Staff (he (who must not be named), make backroom deals with big pharma and the health insurance companies.

Continuing the war in Afghanistan does not constitute a broken promise on Obama’s part, but his escalation there was a foolish step further into quick sand. Everyone knows we are wasting time, treasure and lives there, but the generals and the officer corps apparently need their war, or else how will they ever get combat experience and promotions. Some civilian control over the military would be nice, I think.

Finally, I hoped that the new administration would take decisive action to mitigate the effects of the recession that (ha ha) ended last year. Instead, Summers and Geitner made sure that the stimulus of 2009 was weakened.

Well, I have tried to explain to anyone who accidentally reads this some of what progressives have wanted and really continue to hope for. If the president or anyone on his staff should somehow hear about this I want them to know I hope it helps.

Progressives on Election Day: Digby Says it Better

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In my last post I tried to anticipate how U.S. Progressives are feeling these days and what they might do in the coming election. Turns out I’m not the only one thinking about this. Some have in fact done it better.

Digby grabs this presidential quote from Glenn Greenwald:

Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get — to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed — oh, well, the public option wasn’t there. If you get the financial reform bill passed — then, well, I don’t know about this particular derivatives rule, I’m not sure that I’m satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace and — (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.) We have had the most productive, progressive legislative session in at least a generation.

Digby then comments:
Well, I think at least one thing is clear. Robert Gibbs wasn’t freelancing with his similar comments.

Regardless of whether you agree with Obama’s characterization there, I think most people would agree that it’s an odd way to fire up the troops. There seems to be some misapprehension on the part of the DC Dems that trying to browbeat people into appreciating you is smart politics. I’m thinking maybe a little ass kissing at this point might be a little bit more effective.

More importantly, it’s a complete misreading of what ails the base. It’s not about a bunch of liberal bloggers being pissed about the health care bill or the wars. Sadly, there just aren’t enough of us to make a difference. And it’s not about a bunch of liberal pundits in DC fretting about “tidal waves.”

Digby goes on to quote Susie Madrak:

[T]hose of us left living on a wing and prayer thanks to your “half full”, half-assed economic policies just don’t have a sense of humor about our continuing plight. I know it’s been a long time since your mom got food stamps, but you might want to give that empathy thing some thought.

Finally, Digby drives the point home:

Unfortunately, midterms are almost always partisan elections, driven by the hardcore base of both parties. Behaving as if your voters are petulant and unappreciative may be therapeutic, and it may even be true, but it doesn’t get the job done.

As I noted in my previous post, there are some faint hopeful signs that the White House political operation is beginning to understand that an alienated base is a problem, however Gibbs, Emmanuel and BHO himself feel about those idiots and troublemakers who put them in office. On the other hand, remarks like those of the President quoted above do not help matters.

Strategically, it makes more sense to attack Republicans right now rather than progressives and other members of Obama’s coalition. It would also make more sense for the Democrats to stress that they are fighting for those who are struggling and stop apologizing by constantly repeating that the economy is improving. I still get nightmares about previous Presidents who saw light at the end of the tunnel and claimed that prosperity is right around the corner.

Written by slothropia

September 18th, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Where Will Progressives Be on Election day?

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They say there are no atheists in foxholes. In the absence of evidence to support it I cannot believe this statement. They (actually Samuel Johnson) also say that the prospect of hanging in a fortnight concentrates
the mind wonderfully. This is true and for evidence view the recent behavior of President Obama and the Democrats.

Collectively (with a number of honorable exceptions), the Washington Democrats have spent the last two years poking progressives in the eye. Now suddenly, with an election disaster looming, the Dems want to buy everybody a drink – even the effing hippies.

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But after alienating civil libertarians by continuing the Bush wiretap policies and not prosecuting war crimes; after alienating economic populists with a stimulus package that was too timid and by giving the economic portfolio to Geitner and Summers (two of many authors of the current depression); after campaigning on the public option and expressing support for single payer and then throwing bazillions at the heath insurance companies; after hearing Rahm Emmanuel belittle the “professional left’ and express an desire to have intercourse with a labor union (eff the UAW), is it too little too late?

Some at least on the (sorta) left are not buying. Chris hedges has a piece on truthdig titled Do Not Pity the Democrats. Hedges thinks the Dems should pay for being too far to the right since Obama’s inauguration.

We will, once again, be bombarded in this election cycle with messages of fear from the Democratic Party—designed, in the end, to serve corporate interests. “Better Barack Obama than Sarah Palin,” we will be told. Better the sane technocrats like Larry Summers than half-wits like John Bolton. But this time we must resist. If we express the legitimate rage of the dispossessed working class as our own, if we denounce and refuse to cooperate with the Democratic Party, we can begin to impede the march of the right-wing trolls who seem destined to inherit power. If we again prove compliant we will discredit the socialism we should be offering as an alternative to a perverted Christian and corporate fascism.

We do not have much time left. And the longer we refuse to confront corporate power the more impotent we become as society breaks down. The game of electoral politics, which is given legitimacy by the right and the so-called left on the cable news shows, is just that—a game. It diverts us from what should be our daily task—dismantling, piece by piece, the iron grip that corporations hold over our lives. Hope is a word that is applicable only to those who grasp reality, however bleak, and do something meaningful to fight back—which does not include the farce of elections and involvement in mainstream political parties. Hope is about fighting against the real forces of destruction, not chanting “Yes We Can!” in rallies orchestrated by marketing experts, television crews, pollsters and propagandists or begging Obama to be Obama. Hope, in the hands of realists, spreads fear into the black heart of the corporate elite. But hope, real hope, remains thwarted by our collective self-delusion.

Up to a point, I sympathize with Hedges. The Democrats remains compromised in their relationship with the nation’s corporate masters and have not earned progressive support. In fact the Party has sometimes seemed to disdain that part of the Democratic party base. Until now, after Labor Day in an election year.

The appointment of Elizabeth Warren, the populist tact on the Bush tax cuts, the attempt at least to communicate with progressives is welcome, but these would have been more welcome and more effective six months or a year ago.

So let the Democrats twist in the wind. Let them learn some life lessons at the hands of the Teabaggers. And there’s the rub. At the very least, Congressional Democrats can serve as a flimsy firewall against the excesses of the sociopathic GOP. So can Obama and the presidential veto. Therefore most on the left – activists, bloggers, people who read The Nation Salon and watch Maddow – will turn out to vote, but in many cases without any great hopes or sense of accomplishment.

As for me and my house, here in Illinois 18 I will probably vote for Democrat D.K. Hirner, as long as I am convinced she would not become a Blue Dog once elected (an admitted long shot this year). But I won’t vote early and often, and I hope there isn’t a Leafs game on Versus that night.

Schock and Bush at the Riverplex

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Early yesterday afternoon I went to the Peoria Riverplex for my semi regular workout. I was a gluttonous pig during the Labor Day weekend and will be working off that karma for quite awhile yet.

When I got to the front entrance I found that the glass doors had been plastered with signs saying that between 3:00 and 6:00 pm, access would be restricted to the track, gym and game room (where they have these nifty exercise video games, like wii and others, that I am far too old to enjoy).

When I checked in I asked about the signs and their meaning. Turns out that the reason for the restricted access was a special event hosted by U.S. congressperson Aaron Schock (R IL). Apparently Mr. Schock has some sort of summer reading program for the youngsters in the fightin’18thand the participants gathered at the Riverplex to be read to by Laura Bush and Schock.

In preparation for the Post Imperial visit by Mrs. Bush, the secret Service was all over the place. There is a 1/8 mile oval track that circles above the gym at the Riverplex that was closed during the event. I went for a run on the track an hour before the event and got the evil eye from a guy in a suit who was up there checking every nook and cranny for what? Dust bunnies? BTW, the French translate dust bunnies as “mouton” or sheep.

And when I left the facility I had to fight my way past what seemed like hundreds of kids and their parents. Which it actually was.

I’m guessing there were no snipers up on the track because the event went off without a hitch:

Former first lady Laura Bush arrived at Peoria’s Riverplex to a room of almost 500 children. These students participated in Congressman Aaron Schock’s summer reading program.

After praising the children for reading 15 books this summer, and reading her children’s book she wrote with her daughter Jenna, the former librarian and teacher answered some personal questions from her young audience.

After all this hullabaloo, Mrs. Bush attended a fund raiser for Schock at the home of the Caterpillar CEO who has a German sounding name I can neither remember nor spell.

Hey, that’s right. This is an election year and Schock is up for reelection. And isn’t this a swell way to campaign? Spend time with children and the ever gracious and elegant former First Lady. No need to get all sweaty talking about jobs and the economy – even though voters are apparently ready to punish Democrats for the lack of jobs and a weak economy.

But then if Schock did get down into the real world he might have to explain the failure of the GOP to offer any solutions to the nation’s problems. I would hope his main opposition, Democrat D.K. Hirner, is going after Schock for his shortcomings as well as the Bush administration’s disastrous handling of the economy and everything else. It is an uphill climb for Hirner, but it’s important to keep making the case against Schock and his party. it will pay off one day, even if it’s not this year.