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Bernie Sanders for President

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If Obama keeps up this constant appeasement of the GOP, if he does not start listening to his base, he will most certainly face either a primary challenge or a third party candidate in 2012. I wish this fella Rachel is talking to in the clip below would run. I would work like hell on his behalf.

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Written by slothropia

December 1st, 2010 at 12:28 am

Open Left: A Progressive Strategy

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At Open Left, contributor progrimm has come up with a proposed information and electoral strategy for progressive forces, including ,one hopes, at least part of the Democratic party. I agree with progrimm’s analysis and action plan. Get a load of this, for example:

Ask yourself what do all these things have in common…

Trade policies that ship millions of jobs overseas for multinational corporations who work with governments like China that have essentially created an economic system that is best described as modern day slavery.

A fucked up tax system that has billionaires, the 400 richest people in America paying a smaller percent in federal taxes than millions of middle class Americans

Deregulation across several sectors that allowed Wall Street to defraud millions in the middle class out of their money, blow up our economy, and on top of all of that allowed them to get rich doing it.

Deregulation that recently created the largest environmental disaster in our countries history in the gulf.

A lack of regulation that has allowed private for profit health insurance companies to murder thousands and bankrupt millions of Americans by rescinding their care when they needed it the most.

And all of the above forming an equality crisis which allowed

The Walton family (The owners of Walmart), a single family to gobble up more wealth than the bottom 40% of the United States population combined.

The overwhelming majority of economic growth to go exclusively to the rich.

And long list of facts on the collapse of the middle class are


What do all these things have in common?

A. They are the strongest campaign issues we have that all tie together and form a powerful narrative that’s in the mind of most progressive activists that the Republican Party is not merely another political party, but a corporate tool that’s policies have systematically stolen the wealth of the middle class in our country and have radically restructured our economy from one that use to grow every Americans wages to one where the wages of the richest rocket, while everyone else’s actually fell and continue to fall.

Yes, there is class warfare being waged in this country and it has been being waged against the majority of Americans by corporations, the wealthy and their Republican puppet voters for the last several decades.

B. They largely have been sitting on the shelf, gathering dust. This tragic, powerful, populist narrative that should right now which should be kicking the utter living shit out of the Republican Party is being unused.

Oh sure, this election year you will see Democrats in October say, Republicans are Crazy tea baggers who want to privatize Social Security and Medicare, Give more tax cuts to the rich, etc.

But that misses most of our most powerful points which are not about what they will do, but about what they already have done.

progrimm correctly notes that this narrative, whgile shared by nearly all progressives and liberals, doesn’t get the attention it deserves:

So how do you change that? How can a net roots movement spread the “details of reality” through the minds of Americans?

That’s what I asked myself when I started thinking about this problem.

We obviously can’t depend on our political leaders most of whom are a bunch of pussies, scared to death of the thought of using populism. Our supporters however, the unions, the people who mostly fund our party actually believe we should fight for a middle class! (The audacity!)

But how?

Before I get to that I want to say, let’s not beat around the bush here, Novembers probably going to be ugly for us short of a game changer and the DNC right now sure as hell doesn’t have that.

Attacking the Tea Party surely should be part of the strategy, but our main strategy really?

Look at the shear amount of damage the Republican Party has done to our country in the last few decades that reached its boiling point in 2008 and our strategy mainly revolves around what the Teapublican party might do?!

Their philosophy has been destroying this countries middle class for decades, that’s the lead what they did, not what they will do. What they will do is important as well, but it’s a side piece compared to the wave of destruction they’ve already sent through our country.

He then provides a demonstration script and video which I find effective. progrimm’s approach can no doubt be tweaked, but it’s one heckuva template and starting point. If the Democrats and progressive groups like Moveon don’t use the ammunition here, they are either incompetent or working for the opposition.

Here’s the video.

Written by slothropia

August 29th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

DK Hirner at Peoria Drinking Liberally – 7/27/10

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As is my custom on alternate Tuesdays. I attended last night’s meeting of Peoria Drinking Liberally. While I am more of a green Wobbly than a liberal or a democrat, I will at least cop to being a progressive. I find the discussions at these affairs both stimulating and bracing and I have grown very fond of the dozen or so that attend as regularly as I.

Last night, we were joined by the 2010 Democratic candidate for the Illinois 18 Congressional District, D.K. Hirner (accompanied by her husband Chuck). I must admit to being impressed with Ms. Hirner as a candidate and as a person. She seems intelligent, articulate and down to earth, aware of the issues and the problems many voters face in this mess of an economy the wealthy have imposed on us.

That does not constitute an endorsement and I am not sure who, if anyone I will vote for this year. I am more than a little disappointed with the performance last year and this of the national Democrats. In particular I deplore the performance of President Rahm Emmanuel – er I mean the other one. Obama.

The stimulus was too small, health care and wall street reform legislation was too timid, and the escalation in Afghanistan was too big. Other than that, the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats are doing a heckuva job.

I could vote Green, but Sheldon Shaefer, the Green candidate in Illinois 18, cannot earn my support until he gives up being an anti choice forced birther. Too bad, because in many ways Sheldon is a very fine candidate. Anyway, in the absence of a Labor or Socialist or Social Democratic party here, I might vote for other Green candidates.

But there are plenty of Democrats to admire in both the House and Senate: Grayson, Kucinich, Franken, Schakowsky. Pelosi and Durbin immediately spring to mind as skilled legislators whose heads and hearts are in the right (or left) place. It is regrettable that there aren’t 50 or so Bernie Sanders’, because he has the whole government thing totally figured out.

So I was eager to engage Candidate Hirner in a discussion of the issues to see whether she is enough of a progressive to overcome the stigma of being a Democrat, the party of Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln, as well as all those good Dems mentioned above. I have to admit, she did not disappoint. The Hirners spent a good part of the evening with our little group. DK did not just show up to give a 5 minute speech and ask for our votes. Rather, she and Chuck settled down for a pleasant evening at the pub (Kellehers on Water Street btw) and had a beer or two and a little bit of Irish fare.

The discussion was wide ranging and Hirner had one on one’s with several individuals, including me. She said the right things when I asked about the issues. She agreed that it’s time to start withdrawing from Afghanistan. Unemployment is her number one priority. She favors a public option (dang, I should have asked about single payer).

Hirner’s strategy involves attacking the incumbent, Aaron Schock, at every opportunity, and he provides plenty of those. The attacks are on policy and records, nothing personal, which is refreshing these days. For example, Schock votes against unemployment insurance extensions when they come up, and he routinely votes against job creation measures. The challenge is to make swing voters aware of Schock’s record with little or no assistance from the local corporate media (including NPR).

As I said, I was impressed. I may come around to support eventually. There is one disturbing piece of Hirner’s bio that is on her campaign website. from 2005 to 20009 She was Executive Director of
Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group. Sounds green and Earth friendly, doesn’t it. but the IERG is an industry group formed to present a united negotiating front when negotiating environmental regulations with the state government. Does that make Hirner a Blue Dog? Not necessarily. She is endorsed bu unions like the UAW and IBEW.

As I said, I was impressed. I may come around to support eventually. But for now, I am holding out for a firmer commitment to progressive government from Hirner and her party.

Losing My Hope for Hope and Change

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Almost six months on the job finds the President still getting mostly good grades from the U.S. electorate and in many ways Obama is doing well. In partisan political terms, he is driving the right wing nuts, and they have become completely and suicidally clueless. Hardly a day goes by without a high profile Republican embarrassing him or her self and the GOP. Mark Sanford, Sarah Palin (and Todd too), John Ensign and the list grows daily.

But the Democrats and Obama have run into their own rough patches and despite GOP weakness, victory is not assured in either the mid term elections or the 2012 presidential race. If the US left (such as it is) feels betrayed, the Democrats could have unexpected difficulties in the Congressional election next year and Obama could end up with one failed term. In fact, at this point, I would be willing to vote against Obama in the 2012 primary. And my vote in the midterms is conditional upon passage of a health care reform package with a “strong public option”. I really want single payer, but will accept the public option. Anything less and I will not vote Democratic again for the foreseeable future. And no, I will never vote for any Republican, nor for any anti choice candidate of any party.

I understand why Republicans want to block any meaningful health care reform. The Republican party exists to serve the wealthy and corporations. But Democrats like Baucus, Ben Nelson or Landrieu who accept insurance company bribes to work against the interests of their constituents are shameless toads. I do not how they sleep at night or what they see in the mirror.

More about health care below, but to return to the administrations overall efforts, let us stipulate that the Obama agenda includes the following priorities:
1. The economy
2. Health care reform
3. Energy and climate change
4. National security and diplomacy (Iraq and Afghanistan included)

Here is how I would grade the Obama Administration on each of these portfolios after six months in office:

The Economy: C-
The Vice president said recently that the Administration underestimated the severity of the recession (or Depression) and so did not make the stimulus package strong enough. Now Obama says a second stimulus is not needed IOW Krugman was right. And there’s the problem. It is not as if good advice was not available. It was but Obama chose to ignore it. Robert Reich, Nouriel Roubini and Paul Krugman are still around to remind the president that this is not an ordinary recession. We are living through some kind of economic crisis that should be addressed as such. Instead, Obama now says a second stimulus is not needed. Is he trying to lose my vote? Is he trying to be Hoover or FDR?

RE the banking and finance system, too much Geitner and Summers. The foreclosure crisis is probably going to get worse. Congress missed a chance to mitigate by refusing to pass the cram down legislation. Thanks Blue Dogs and Senate “moderates”. And now Obama wants the left to be nice to the Blue Dogs, Republicrats or ConservaDems (as Maddow calls them) even though they are either opposed to a public option in health care. Fat chance.

Come to think, a C in this subject is pretty damn generous.

Health Care – Incomplete
Again, my support for the President and congressional Democrats are contingent on the passage of health care reform with a strong public option. Obama has been vague about what he wants an expects from Congress on this. I don’t know if anyone in the White House knows how destructive was Rahm’s trial balloon about co-ops v public option. I hope he knows what he is doing.

Energy and climate change – Incomplete
Incomplete because the cap and trade bill is not out of the Senate yet so we don’t know what kind of sausage the final product will be.

National security and diplomacy (Iraq and Afghanistan included) – C+
This, IMO, is the area in which Obama and his team have performed most effectively. Some of the left argne critical of the Administration because the exit from Iraq will take a little longer than Obama promised during the campaign. I am not concerned about that. I will be concerned though if the withdrawal from Iraq turnes out to be incomplete.

In my view, Obama has done well on most areas of foreign relations. His reserve during the Iran post election crisis has served the U.S. well. His fence building eith the Muslim world will eventually pay handsome dividends.

The big problem that drags this grade down is Afghanistan. It looks to me that Obama is repeating one of Bushes early problems in Iraq; there is no clear strategy. When is the Afghanistan mission to be considered accomplished? What is the exit strategy? How much blood and treasure is to be expended on such a nebulous project?

No doubt there are other less visible projects and priorities, like reforming the federal bureaucracy, cleaning up the Justice Department and Pentagon procurement. Presumably human rights are somewhere in the mix but the foot dragging on don’t ask don’t tell and DOMA, and the continuation of Bush II policies re FISA and detention of suspected Islamic militants have created doubts on that score. Transparency was also promised but not yet fully delivered. I would like to see AG Holder seriously investigate Bush/Cheney crimes, but I can’t hold my breath that long.

Again, my support for any Democrat, from Obama on down, is predicated on the successful passage of an adequate health care reform package. The House bill is encouraging as is the Senate bill passed by the HELP committee. I am not completely happy with either, but they are a step in the right direction.

Now to await the final sausage.

Written by slothropia

July 15th, 2009 at 10:03 am