"Think back to two years ago," Sanders said during an interview in the only Senate office decorated with a medallion of Eugene V. Debs, the legendary American Socialist leader. "There were rallies involving 80,000 to 100,000. Obama was running the best campaign I've seen in my lifetime -- and I'm pretty critical."Howie P.S.: What if Obama had kicked the ass of, for example, Ben Nelson (in public), instead of "the professional left"?
"Why are we where we are today?" he continues. "The most serious mistake the president made was not, in a sense, continuing the thrust of his campaign, and [in] forgetting all he accomplished."
Sanders does not discount what Obama and congressional Democrats achieved through the economic stimulus, health care and financial reform. But he argues that by replacing a mobilizing approach and clear progressive goals with an insider strategy aimed at compromising with a few moderate Republican senators, Obama deactivated his own enthusiasts. These are the very people the president was trying to motivate in Madison.
"While Obama and the Democrats have a large number of achievements, it was not enough," said Sanders. "We needed to be bolder."
Yet Sanders will do all he can to help Democrats win this fall, and therein lies the paradox for progressives. It's true that many on the left are frustrated with White House calls for them to buck up and grow up. Jane Hamsher, who blogs at Firedoglake, sees the administration's taunts as setting up the left as a "fall guy" if Democrats lose.
But progressives keenly understand how much their aspirations would be set back if an increasingly right-wing Republican Party won one or both houses this fall. MORE...
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Arianna appeared on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" Wednesday night to discuss Democrats running from their own party and platform in their reelection campaigns.
President Barack Obama's choice to attack the disaffected liberal wing of his party, as opposed to the conservative Democrats who are ostensibly defeating or watering down his initiatives, just weakens his image further, Arianna told Maddow.
"Maybe progressives and the middle class need to sort of face up to the fact that the President is not that much into them, that he would rather hang out with Larry Summers, or flirt with Olympia Snowe, or play wargames late into the night with General Petraeus," she said. "He has compromised his own arch-narrative. Remember, he set up a deficit commission before he set up a jobs commission."
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Virtually all the liberal bloggers who have taken a critical stance toward the administration have one thing in common: they place principle above party. Their complaints are exactly the same complaints they lodged against the Bush administration. Contrary to the straw man posed by Obama supporters, they aren’t complaining about pie in the sky wishes but about tangible acts and omissions, from Gitmo to Afghanistan to the environment to gay rights to secrecy and executive power.Howie P.S.: Peter Daou was Hillary Clinton's internet guru during her run for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
The essence of their critique is that the White House lacks a moral compass. The instances where Obama displays a flash of moral authority – the mosque speech comes to mind – these bloggers cheer him with the same fervor as his most ardent fans. MORE...
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster---"The scooters are because of Medicare," he whispers helpfully. "They have these commercials down here: 'You won't even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!' Practically everyone in Kentucky has one."
A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it. MORE...
This week, Ari Berman of the Nation released his book "Herding Donkeys" that documents the growth of the modern Democratic Party from the nadir of the 2004 election through the triumph of 2008. The majority of the book looks at the efforts by former DNC Chairman Howard Dean to build a national network that could immunize the party from becoming either marginalized or regionalized. But the epilogue charts out how the style of Obama's governance drained the type of voter enthusiasm that, Dean acknowledges, was critical in those efforts.Howie P.S.: Booman says
"The White House began to believe that they could mobilize their supporters without hearing what their supporters really wanted in terms of specific change," Dean is quoted as saying. "The principal problem with OFA is the same one the president's having. You can't dictate to your base what's going to happen. It's got to be a two-way deal, and it hasn't been." MORE...
"We've got bigger problems that some perceived slight that is almost never accurately depicted. The president, the vice-president, and anyone who isn't effing retarded is pointing to Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Joe Miller, Carl Paladino, Christine O'Donnell, Mike Lee, Joe Miller, Ron Johnson, Ken Buck, Pat Toomey, and Speaker Boehner and telling you to wake the eff up."
It's easier to believe that their liberal and progressive base is naïve than to acknowledge that we are not alienated for their failure to pass appropriate legislation, but for their failure to fight for such legislation. And our upset with Obama is not that he didn't accomplish what he couldn't accomplish, but that he didn't do the one thing he could do: consistently speak the truth, tell us and the country what was really happening in the corridors of power and what the constraints are that he was facing.
It's one thing to make compromises after you've struggled for something you believe in, another to make the compromises without ever trying. Liberals and progressives had already been deeply disillusioned after the Democratic sweep of Congress in 2006, continued to fund the war in Iraq despite overwhelming popular opposition to that war. So when Obama entered the primaries and spent much of his time distinguishing himself from Sen. Clinton on precisely the grounds that he had opposed the war from the beginning, he gave his base the impression that he would be a leader who would challenge the war makers. Similarly, when he challenged the selfishness and materialism that pervaded Wall Street, we felt we had a candidate who would be willing to speak truth to power. MORE...
Noam Scheiber's profile of the disillusioned David Axelrod is worth reading. Axelrod, who's been hamhanded at best in his role as Special Envoy to the Professional Left, appears to share their critique of the administration almost entirely. He's presented as being uncomfortable with the concessions of governing, the power of the special interests, the paralysis of the Congress, the wages of pragmatism. He sounds, well, like a liberal.
I can't say whether Scheiber gets Axelrod right, but the article rings true: I've found Axelrod a puzzling spokesperson because he seems defensive over the administration's compromises rather than confident in their successes. Sharing in the critique he's rebutting would explain that ambivalence. “In terms of the short-term mentality, the unwillingness to take risks, the way every day is scored like the Super Bowl—all those things he believed, I think, have been confirmed in the extreme,” David Plouffe tells Scheiber. “But it’s not like he was caught by surprise. He understood that. It’s what he expected.”
So why didn't he do more to change it? MORE...
Join us as we support the national call for Jobs, Justice & Education, Demanding the Change we voted for
As a part of the national march and rally taking place in Washington D.C. at the Nation’s Capitol
October 2nd (10-2-10) From 10:00 A.M. To 1:00 P.M.
Henry M. Jackson Federal Bldg. (JFB)
915 2nd Avenue, Seattle Washington
Their argument is that laying down markers on core liberal priorities has a way of expanding the field of what's politically possible. And even if expanding that field was never realistic, they argue, Obama would be in a better position anyway if he'd fought more visibly for those core priorities, because rank and file Dems would know what it is they should go out and vote for on Election Day. These critics are rejecting the ingrained Beltway notion that you should never fight for something when you might lose.Michael Moore:
Now, you may or may not agree with any one of these arguments. And obviously there's overlap between these categories. But the point is, it's entirely counterproductive for the White House to rail in some generalized way about the left's "whining." Far better to think clearly about what these arguments actually are, and to grapple with them head on.
If the Dem base is unenthusiastic, give Dems something to get excited about, or effectively tell them why they should be excited. If you disagree with Maddow or Greenwald on what's possible in terms of policy, or if you disagree with the Adam Greens of the world on politics, explain why they're wrong, rather than spewing epithets in all directions. Above all, don't vaguely question the right of these various parties to make those arguments. This is, after all, democracy, and as Obama himself has repeatedly said, democracy is a messy business. MORE...
OBAMA: They like us still... but they're mean to us!
BIDEN: And we're the opposite of mean! Like, we're so nice to the Republicans -- we don't even make them have to do a real filibuster and look all stupid trying to stop bills that do good things for kids and old people!
OBAMA: Bipartisanship, Joe, that was our plan.
BIDEN: And even when not one single Republican would join with us, we still watered down every single one of our bills so they wouldn't be upset with us!
OBAMA: We hate people being mad at us!
BIDEN: The Republicans didn't want a health care bill, so we made sure most of it wouldn’t go into effect until 2014!
OBAMA: I thought our liberal base was all about peace, love and understanding! So I held out the olive branch to Republicans when they were mad because I was going to spend stimulus money on creating jobs. So we made sure we created as few jobs as possible! We're nice to the other side! MORE...
Kevin Drum notes, "If you're, say, Glenn Greenwald, I wouldn't expect you to buy Obama's defense at all. All of us have multiple interests, but if your primary concern is with civil liberties and the national security state, then the problem isn't that Obama hasn't done enough, it's that his policies have been actively damaging. There's just no reason why you should be especially excited about either his administration or the continuation of the Democratic Party in power."
Right. Glenn not only has a legitimate beef, I honestly can't think of anyone who's offered a persuasive argument to counter Glenn's criticism. I don't know, however, how large a group of voters we're talking about that disapproves of the president based primarily (but not exclusively) on concerns over the national security state.
I'd argue that if Glenn's contingent represents one group of the disaffected, the other two general groups of center-left critics are (2) those who believe the president's accomplishments have been inadequate; and (3) those who are struggling badly in this economy, and expected conditions to be better than they are under Obama.
For those in the "inadequate" camp, the president's pitch may or may not be persuasive, but I think it should be. We talked recently about the accomplishments of the last 21 months, so I won't rehash the list again, but I continue to believe it's a record that's as impressive as anything we've seen in modern times. What's more, I'm not at all convinced it was within the president's power to make these milestone breakthroughs any stronger. The accomplishments can and should go further, but for the Democratic base, that should mean getting more engaged, not less.
Reaching that final group seems to be a tougher sell. The administration's economic policies have made a huge difference, but the status quo is still woefully unacceptable. It's not necessarily up to the president alone to grab hold of the economy and make it better, but there have been missteps and the frustration is understandable.
I suppose the pitch Democrats can make to these voters is: it can and will get worse if Republicans win, and would have been much worse had the GOP gotten its way. Obama has taken steps to get us on the right track, and conditions have slowly improved, but the surest way to stop the progress, the argument goes, is to hand the GOP power and encourage Republicans to pursue their discredited economic agenda.
Or, as Kevin concluded, "And the alternative? Well, if the prospect of ripping apart healthcare reform, shutting down the government, deep sixing START, slashing social spending, and reliving the glory days of investigations over Christmas card lists isn't enough to get you motivated, I guess I'm not sure what is." MORE..
Obama will hold the first of four "Moving America Forward" rallies on the books today in Madison, Wisconsin. He'll share the stage with Ben Harper and The National.
A Democratic official said the party is spending $50 million to try to re-engage voters under 30, who made up for nearly a third of the new voters who helped elect Obama in 2008.
There were 15 million of these new young voters out there two years ago. The administration is fanning out across the country to try and reach them. Vice President Joe Biden will speak at Penn State, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine will rally with Senate candidate Chris Coons (D) at the University of Delaware. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will speak at the University of Maryland. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will headline a rally at California State-Los Angeles. United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk will rally with students at North Carolina Central University.
The DNC is hosting more than 200 watch parties at college campuses across the country, and on Monday was sending text messages to supporters to let them know about the upcoming rallies and the location of the nearest watch party.
Thursday night Obama will appear at the kickoff of a 3-day political youth summit in Washington. He'll appear with hiphop star B.o.B. at Constitution Hall. MORE...
What is true, and this is part of what can frustrate folks, is that over the past 20 months, we made a series of decisions that were focused on governance, and sometimes there was a conflict between governance and politics. So there were some areas where we could have picked a fight with Republicans that might have gotten our base feeling good, but would have resulted in us not getting legislation done.Howie P.S.: It's a long piece. Here's lighter moment:
I could have had a knock-down, drag-out fight on the public option that might have energized you and The Huffington Post, and we would not have health care legislation now. I could have taken certain positions on aspects of the financial regulatory bill, where we got 90 percent of what we set out to get, and I could have held out for that last 10 percent, and we wouldn't have a bill. You've got to make a set of decisions in terms of "What are we trying to do here? Are we trying to just keep everybody ginned up for the next election, or at some point do you try to win elections because you're actually trying to govern?" I made a decision early on in my presidency that if I had an opportunity to do things that would make a difference for years to come, I'm going to go ahead and take it. MORE...
Here's what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you'd expect he would be. He wouldn't come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practicing before the set in the evening. He didn't want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show, but he didn't show up to that. He came in and played "The Times They Are A-Changin'." A beautiful rendition. The guy is so steeped in this stuff that he can just come up with some new arrangement, and the song sounds completely different. Finishes the song, steps off the stage — I'm sitting right in the front row — comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves. And that was it — then he left. That was our only interaction with him. And I thought: That's how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don't want him to be all cheesin' and grinnin' with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise. So that was a real treat.
...the tragic and perilous irony of this political moment: the people with the most faith in the president and the Democratic Party are the hardest hit by the continuing economic disaster; it's this brute fact that's driving the so-called enthusiasm gap between liberals and conservatives. More than frustration with the lack of a public option or anger at a White House that seems to relish insulting the "professional left," the flagging enthusiasm among Obama's '08 base is the product of a kind of cognitive dissonance between hope and reality. "Like a lot of people in my generation, I was really inspired by you and by your campaign and message that you brought," a 30-year-old law school graduate told the president during a live town hall on CNBC recently. "And that inspiration is dying away. It feels like the American Dream is not attainable to a lot of us.... I really want to know, is the American Dream dead for me?"
And here's where we get to the perilous part. Even if most of the midterm outcome is already determined, the margins matter tremendously: just a few seats, possibly decided by just a few thousand votes, could make the difference between a Speaker Pelosi and a Speaker Boehner. Which brings us to another certainty: as bad as things are right now for Obama's base, a world in which Republicans control one or both houses of Congress is going to be far, far worse. MORE...
Monday, September 27, 2010
Maybe Biden will come out tomorrow and say his "stop whining" order was another one of his loveable gaffes, and apologize. But probably not. Every administration insult to the base has been followed not by an apology, but by a doubling down on the criticism. I am on record chiding the left for being unrealistic about expectations and failing to realize that changing the country is more than a two-to-four year endeavor. But the administration's persistent impulse to insult the most loyal Democrats suggests they don't know how to organize for the long haul, either. Biden has to know that inspiring voters works better than scolding them. Let's hope he remembers that in the days to come. MORE...
Based on what we have learned so far from those select few provided with advance copies of the book -- mostly reporters for the Post and The New York Times who, for whatever reason, seem happy to serve as its shills -- Obama’s Wars contains hints of another story, the significance of which seems to have eluded Woodward.
The theme of that story is not whether Dick likes Jane, but whether the Constitution remains an operative document. The Constitution explicitly assigns to the president the role of commander-in-chief. Responsibility for the direction of American wars rests with him. According to the principle of civilian control, senior military officers advise and execute, but it's the president who decides. That's the theory, at least. Reality turns out to be considerably different and, to be kind about it, more complicated. MORE...
The disillusionment of Obama’s guru.---Back then, the details of Obama’s proposals had been less important than the way they advanced the broader narrative. Obama wouldn’t just tout the benefits of health care reform. He’d point out that every Democrat since FDR had tried and failed to bring universal coverage; only a different kind of politician could succeed. But, for all they have in common, Axelrod is a liberal with a populist streak; Obama is more of a technocrat who leans left but generally shuns ideology. When it came time to govern, the differences between the president and his top political adviser became harder to finesse.
“If you were going to pick a moment when the whole thing turned on Obama,” says a longtime Democratic consultant, “it was the moment the administration saved the AIG bonuses.” MORE...
The Democratic strategy so far has been to see each race as separate, with no overall Democratic vision. Bill Clinton sees this as a mistake and I agree. The Republicans have presented a vision, whatever one thinks of the detailed proposals. The NY Times editorial pooh-poohs the pledge’s “breathless mimicry of the Declaration of Independence.” But that is most of what their audience will read, not the 48 pages of proposals.
In his campaign, Barack Obama articulated beautifully the Democratic moral vision of America. America is based on citizens caring about, and for, each other. The values of empathy, social as well as personal responsibility, and an ethic of excellence lead to a government of, by, and for the people, with values like freedom and fairness, and a governmental responsibility to protect and empower the people. That is a Democratic view of America. It calls on Americans to come together in difficult times, and it characterizes the party’s, as well as the President’s, moral compass. MORE...
There have been a lot of questions, concerns and confusion about Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle Police Department’s efforts around policing across the city, particularly since beefed up patrols in trendy Belltown began via the new Nightlife Initiative was announced in mid-July.Howie P.S.: Long story short: More double-talk from Hizzoner.
The eight point plan focuses on everything from flexible liquor service hours, noise ordinance enforcement and upwards of 20 extra police from the SWAT, anti-crime, and DUI sectors of the department, patrolling the neighborhood every weekend.
Both Chief Diaz and Mayor McGinn have said the residents of Seattle expect a strong response from the department when and where violence happens as justification for the plan. The problem was that in doing so, they set a standard of response- but only applied it to one neighborhood, not to Seattle as a whole.
The initiative gained high praise from residents in Belltown with legitimate safety concerns- and sharp criticism from other neighborhoods around Seattle, including the Central District and Rainier Beach. The overwhelming cry: what about the rest of us?
As reporters, journalists and community members began comparing policing levels across neighborhoods and asking questions, the mayor’s office adopted a talk-to-the-hand response style, often refusing to respond or provide information. MORE...
It is great to be reasonable, it is great to be willing to engage in dialog those with whom you disagree when ideology is at issue. But "government by organized money" has no patience with reasonable dialog.Howie P.S.: The Republican shitstorm reaction to Obama's election shouldn't have been a surprise.
House Minority Leader John Boehner is not going to work with you, he's not going to reach out across the aisle in a spirit of bipartisanship. Boehner is going to do what his benefactors expect of him: push through an agenda favorable to their interests. Boehner is a lobbyist with a knack for winning elections. It's not that he or his fellow congressional Republicans are inherently bad, it's that their power is rooted in private corporations, and that is who they answer to.
Your record for achievement in the White House is, frankly, not bad; in fact better by far than you are given credit for. Healthcare reform alone, however modest, was an historic accomplishment, you have won a Nobel Peace Prize, engineered the badly needed stimulus package, and quite a bit more. You have been productive.
The problem is that you are a baseless President. You have no base, no group that feels they can count on you, and on which you can rely. You have admirers, and those that respect you, many of each. But that is not the same as a base. What you had during the 2008 Presidential campaign was a base. A mass movement that fought for you and gave you a mandate.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
thetopvlog, video (02:26):
Lizz Winstead is a comedian, Co creator of The Daily Show and Co founder of Air America Radio. She is really wowed by the new GOP "Plan"
You can read her relentless spamming by following her on twitter @lizzwinstead, facebook.com/lizzwinsteadfans and at www.lizzwinstead.com
Michelle Singletary (WaPo):
By the time I called her, Velma Hart was surprised at how her words had been dissected and analyzed. Hart is the middle-aged, middle-class Maryland woman who asked President Obama to reassure her that he remained the crusader for change she had voted for.
"The financial recession has taken an enormous toll on my family," she told the president last week during a town hall meeting in Washington. "My husband and I joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot-dogs-and-beans era of our lives. But quite frankly, it's starting to knock on our door and ring true that that might be where we're headed again. And quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly: Is this my new reality?"
Hart, who was a U.S. Army Reservist for almost a decade, gave voice to the frustrations of everyday Americans.
But some saw more than frustration.
When we talked, Hart said she was amazed at the attention she's getting for her remarks, which have overshadowed anything Obama said during the forum. She said her comments and question, which were meant to elicit comforting words from Obama, have become political fodder and have been misconstrued as proof that Obama's die-hard supporters were prepared to abandon him - and do what? Become tea partiers?
"I think he has made progress," she told me. "I just thought by now the progress would be more evident for the man-on-the-street level."
By her own account, Hart's personal finances are in pretty good shape, at least when compared with the almost 44âmillion people living in poverty. She has a well-paying job s as the chief financial officer for AmVets, a nonprofit Maryland-based veteran services organization. Her husband is employed. She can afford to send two children to private school. She says she and her husband have managed their money well.
Despite the fact that during the broadcast Hart said she worried that soon her family might be forced to dine regularly on hot dogs and beans, she didn't mean that literally. She says she made that statement to add levity to a discussion that isn't funny: the state of our economy.
"It was symbolic," she said. "I'm a lot more fortunate than others." MORE...
Saturday, September 25, 2010
In the map above, states are color-coded according to the tax burden shouldered by the state's poorest families. The reason Washington is bright red -- the brightest red of any state -- is that the poorest 20 percent of Washington's families pay 17.3 percent of their income in state taxes. It's by far the highest amount in the nation.
By contrast, the wealthiest families have a nice little tax haven in Washington compared with other states. MORE...
Friday, September 24, 2010
Tim Wise: "the Tea Party is able to get away with things that no group of color could ever possibly do." (video)
GRITtv, with video, (27:03):
"In every sense the Tea Party is able to get away with things that no group of color could ever possibly do," says Tim Wise, author of the new book Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity. While the Tea Party wails about socialism, Wise notes, they want to cut social services that they perceive as benefits for people of color--and the Obama administration's "race-neutral" politics aren't helping anyone.
Wise joins Laura in studio for a special interview about his new book, and how racial bias infects every level of people's lives, from infant mortality rates to unemployment, college admissions and graduation rates to treatment in hospitals. MORE...
There's been a lot of talk in recent weeks about some of Dino Rossi's more boneheaded flubs.Howie P.S.: This reflects the current liberal-progressive thinking that Rossi is toast. I have cited the following little bit of Yiddish wisdom in the past and it is pertinent again here: "From your lips to God's ears."
Like demonstrating to the Seattle Times editorial board his near total ignorance of "net neutrality," an issue they've editorialized in favor of on numerous occasions. Or maintaining his fierce opposition to Obama's stimulus package while touring a Whidbey Island shipyard that had added dozens of jobs thanks to $840,000 in federal stimulus money. Or inexplicably insisting that WTO findings of illegal Airbus subsidies should not be taken into account in awarding a $40 billion Air Force refueling tanker contract that could bring thousands of jobs to the Puget Sound region.
Some have chalked off Rossi's curious statements to strategy, others to a doctrinaire conservative ideology. But I have an alternate theory that I find at least as plausible: perhaps Dino Rossi just doesn't care? MORE...
This goes beyond "doing something", and into the realm of actually doing something to excite the base. The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. Half measures and compromises with Republicans who voted against final legislation certainly doesn't count. Failing to follow through on promises on everything from comprehensive immigration reform to DADT doesn't help. Fighting to open up more shoreline to drilling doesn't help. Lilly Ledbetter was a step forward, then the Stupak Amendment was two steps back.
In fact, from the beginning, this administration and Democratic congress seemed more concerned with "bipartisanship" for the sake of bipartisanship, than they were in passing the best possible legislation possible. Harry Reid came off the gate in 2008 by immediately whining about "60 votes" -- something I don't recall ever hearing from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Obama Administration indulged Max Baucus' "negotiations" with Republicans Mike Enzi and company, even as those Republicans publicly bragged that their entire strategy was to delay and obstruct.
People may whine about cable hosts and bloggers who point out these failings, and try to shoot the messenger. But we don't have a noise machine like Fox's. Rush Limbaugh reaches a third of the conservative base on a weekly basis. There is nothing even remotely close to that on the Left. Limbaugh's weekly audience is 20 million. Keith Olbermann's is maybe a tenth of that.
No, this mess is the administration's making, with a healthy assist from Harry Reid's Senate. The shame is that Nancy Pelosi's House, which did its job, will bear the brunt of the voter backlash. But the White House won't be spared. MORE...
Joe Bageant.com, with video (06:17) from RT:
"The Tea Party is a media spectacle to make working people believe they have power," Joe Bageant said during an interview on RT, a global television network based in Moscow, Russia.
On The Alyona Show, host Alyona Minkovski starts the interview by pointing out that 43 million Americans live below the poverty line. "For some reason," she says, "in this country, there's always been an assumption that the poor, or the underclass, are the non-white people that live in this country, and the fact that there has always been a white underclass has become taboo."
Thursday, September 23, 2010
This week, the Rude Pundit and Stephanie Miller had much unchaste fun with Delaware's Christine O'Donnell.Howie P.S.: And the chance that "moderate Republicans" will push back on the Republican tea-baggers.
You gotta love Susie Madrak. She's not afraid of anyone. And what she told David Axelrod needed to be said. Ironically, I agree with both Susie and Axelrod on this subject. Susie's correct that treating us like the town ho isn't exactly motivating. Axelrod's correct to say, 'Hey, we feel like the town ho, too."
From the White House's perspective, there's this big progressive media outlet known as the blogosphere that is just blasting them day in and day out, when they thought they might get a little support to combat the Mighty Right-Wing Wurlitzer.
But, from the blogosphere's perspective, we're not seeing much love either. And forget about respect.
I think both sides have acted stupidly and with a lack of foresight. The number one thing the White House should have done differently is to level with people about the constraints they are facing in Congress. They should have done some coordination, basically telling us where progress was blocked and whose minds needed to be changed. But, really, with the need to hold together a center-left coalition, keep the Pentagon and Intelligence Community in line, maintain confidence on Wall Street, and engage in massive spending to keep the economy afloat, there was never much chance that progressives would be ecstatic about the results. Some of our advice should have been heeded, but a lot of it just wasn't politically possible.
On our side, though, we were far too quick to assign the worst motivations to the administration. We made ourselves their enemy and earned their enmity.
It's a two-way failure, as the exchange between Madrak and Axelrod crystallized. I hope people listen to what Axelrod had to say. But I'm also glad that Madrak had the balls to get in Ax's face.
Who says that Republican congress-critters don't care about minorities in our society? Why, at this very moment, they are pushing hard to pass a $372 billion federal program to lift the economic fortunes of just one minority group -- a far more generous proposal than Barack Obama has even dared to contemplate.
The focus of the GOP's generosity is a true American minority: the richest one-tenth of one percent of our people. Living in penthouse ghettos like Manhattan's Upper East Side, this tiny minority of about 120,000 people (who have an average annual income of $8 million) would get some $3 million each over the next decade from the Republican proposal. Doesn't that just make your heart bleed with empathy? MORE...
Top Obama adviser David Axelrod got an earful of the liberal blogosphere's anger at the White House moments ago, when a blogger on a conference call directly called out Axelrod over White House criticism of the left, accusing Axelrod of "hippie punching."Howie P.S.: "Hippie punching"---is that power speaking to truth?
"We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day," the blogger, Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars, pointedly told Axelrod on the call, which was organzied for liberal bloggers and progressive media. MORE...
Over the summer, Congress spent 50 days fighting over a reauthorization of the current four tiers of federally-funded jobless aid as Republicans and some Democrats objected to the deficit cost of the benefits. The reauthorization was ultimately approved, but only though November, at which time the fight will probably happen again. It won't be easy for Berkley and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who introduced a similar bill in the upper chamber, to win much support.
"It's very tough, but it's a whole lot tougher to be unemployed and to have rent to pay and food to put on the table for your kids to eat," said Berkley. "There's some sort of misconception here that if somehow you don't extend unemployment benefits, that poor people are going to disappear. They don't. They end up on welfare, they end up on food stamps, they end up homeless and they end up desperate, so the idea that they'll just go away is ludicrous. It doesn't happen. MORE. .
Yeson1098, video (00:33):
Yes on 1098 campaign TV spot, in which Bill Gates Sr. describes why he helped create Initiative 1098: Washington's middle-class families are struggling and the wealthiest need to start paying their share.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010
What the Hell Was That DADT Vote Yesterday? That was some kind of kabuki shit yesterday in the Senate on the defense budget authorization bill with the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in it. Honestly, the Rude Pundit's having a hard time wrapping his head around this one. Sure, sure, it's easy to say, "Those GOP cocksuckers filibustered it because they hate the gays." And that's part of it. But this shit was just weird. We're left with a whole lotta fuck-you's and not a lot of sense.
Let's see: Fuck Susan Collins and her whiny ass voice and flat fucking koala bear face. She went to the floor of the Senate to take a mighty stand for the process over civil rights. Sure, she said, gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military because it's only fair. But, she added, "I cannot vote to proceed to this bill under a situation that is going to shut down debate and preclude Republican amendments. That too is not fair." You got that? Collins believes there's a moral equivalence between the persecution of gays in the military and Republican senators not being allowed to toss shit at the bill. When's it get to be compared to kristallnacht?
Fuck John McCain and anyone who said "Let's wait for the Pentagon study." The DADT provision said outright that there would be no implementation until after the magical questionnaire o' justice is done being tabulated by unbiased military people. (Seriously, has anyone else's civil rights been subject to the results of a poll?)
Fuck Harry Reid for hastily bringing this up in order to get progressives vaguely excited about something for the midterms. Sure, now he can say, "See? Those bastards block everything," but so fucking what? (And fuck the White House for doing nothing to help passage beyond a little press release. Hey, howzabout ending those discharges, your Commander-in-Chiefiness?)
Fuck anyone who says this is "playing politics." It's the Congress. Politics are always at play. You either support something or you don't, especially when it comes to fundamental rights. And, by the way, filibustering a defense bill used to be akin to treason. Now it's just part and parcel of the political landscape. MORE...
UPDATE: Keith Olbermann welcomes Howard Fineman who says "Tax Cut Vote 'A Profile In Painful Caution' For Democrats," with video (06:56).
Over the past 20 months, Democrats have done a lot -- too much, the opposition says. But they don't want to talk about the achievements. The stimulus bill is unpopular; they're not getting credit for health-care legislation, financial reforms and many other accomplishments; and the spent majority can't limp out of town fast enough.
There's still talk about a "lame duck" session after the election, when Democrats might revive some of their proposals. But the end of the current session is turning out to be just plain lame.
Hoyer, who was scheduled to appear at four fundraisers for embattled Democrats on Tuesday alone, was asked if he plans to bring up any other major bills before the election. He cited three minor ones. "You didn't name the tax-cut bill," somebody pointed out.
"I should have," he said, but before acting on that, he added, "we're going to see what the Senate does."
That's easy. The Senate, burial ground for hundreds of House bills this session, is, as usual, doing nothing. On Tuesday afternoon, a pair of Democrats, Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, joined Republicans in blocking debate on a Pentagon policy bill. That essentially killed the Democrats' last major legislative effort of the year (the bill also included immigration provisions and an end to "don't ask, don't tell"). It left the majority with little on its schedule for the rest of the year other than a stopgap bill to keep the government running for a few more months. MORE...
In many ways, the American experience in Iraq has been defined more by the fantasy dreamed up in Washington, D.C., than by the reality on the ground. That fantasy has included the “purple finger revolution,” which came to symbolize Iraq’s first national election of the post-Saddam era (Iraq still lacks a viable, cohesive government); the much-hyped military “surge” of 2006-2007, which had all the real impact of punching air; and the farcical economic “success” of major oil companies bidding on Iraqi oil exploration rights (orchestrated by an Iraqi Oil Ministry lacking both a governmental structure and legal basis for issuing such bids, given the Iraqi Parliament’s inability to pass an oil law. American politicians, aided and abetted by a fawning mainstream media, have fabricated a fiction aimed at a largely ignorant American public that fails to address the real problems in Iraq. It is in this topsy-turvy world created by political hype and media spin that a president can, with a straight face, announce the withdrawal of American “combat troops” from Iraq, while leaving behind six combat brigades (renamed, but not reorganized) comprising some 50,000 troops to fight and die in “noncombat.”
Even more incredible is the notion that this slight-of-hand political maneuvering can accomplish anything that would resolve the issues and problems in Iraq today. In opting to draw down American “combat troops” prior to Iraq resolving its considerable political and economic woes, President Obama has completely flipped the logical, yet flawed, plan that the United States had been acting on for the past seven years, a plan built on three central concepts: economic stability (oil), political stability (democracy) and internal stability (security). Left to its own devices, Iraq would have no choice but to proceed in this manner. The experience of Iraqi Kurdistan, through its autonomous exploitation of its energy resources, demonstrates the critical importance of building a solid economic foundation in order to preserve stability, even at a regional level. The decision to attract big oil to Iraq was driven more by corporate greed than the genuine will of the Iraqi people, as witnessed by the Iraqi Parliament’s continued inability to pass a national oil law. The economic benefits that could be accrued through the exploration and exploitation of Iraq’s oil fields by multinational energy companies are as controversial as they are hypothetical. The current production rate of 2.5 million barrels per day continues to fall short of Iraqi production rates prior to the U.S.-led invasion in April 2003, and optimistic estimates that Iraq will be able to reach a production rate of 12 million barrels per day by 2016, which many analysts scoff at as technically implausible, are unrealistic given the unresolved political and security crises which continue to grip Iraq.
The American occupation of Iraq has produced a subculture of social dependency which is almost colonial in nature. The majority of Iraqis involved in either government or security operations remain entirely dependent on American financial, political and military support. These are the voices that speak the loudest in favor of a continued American presence in Iraq, since any American withdrawal would result in their demise. And yet it is these very voices that have become increasingly marginalized in Iraq. The true centers of political influence lie in the very Shiite and Sunni segments of society the United States has been fighting against these past seven years—Sadr’s followers and the Sunni tribal groups once loyal to Saddam Hussein. The inevitable course of history mandates that these indigenous forces will ultimately prevail over the foreign-imposed artificiality that rules Iraq today. The continued presence of American troops prolongs the inevitable political realignment that must take place for Iraq to have any chance of succeeding as a viable nation state. The presence of American troops also ensures that this transformation will be much more violent than the natural course of events dictate. MORE...
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Today, Sen. Franken went to the floor of the Senate to speak in favor of repealing the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, and in favor of the Dream Act.
Some of the critical players in President Obama’s national security team doubt his strategy in Afghanistan will succeed and have spent much of the last 20 months quarreling with one another over policy, personalities and turf, according to a new book.Howie P.S.: H/t to Mr. Smith.The boys @ Politico discuss "Obama's Woodward gamble."
The book, “Obama’s Wars,” by the journalist Bob Woodward, depicts an administration deeply torn over the war in Afghanistan even as the president agreed to triple troop levels there amid suspicion that he was being boxed in by the military. Mr. Obama’s top White House adviser on Afghanistan and his special envoy for the region are described as believing the strategy will not work. MORE...
"This is really a law and order initiative," Oakland City Attorney John Russo said last week in endorsing Prop 19. "Arresting and criminalizing tens of thousands of Californians every year for misdemeanor possession diverts police ... from arresting and convicting violent criminals." MORE...
Monday, September 20, 2010
I was astounded by Bill Rankin's map of Chicago's racial and ethnic divides and wanted to see what other cities looked like mapped the same way. To match his map, Red is White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, and Orange is Hispanic, and each dot is 25 people. Data from Census 2000.
Obama: "There's a big chunk of the country that thinks that I have been too soft on Wall Street." (with video)
William Alden (HuffPo) with video from CNBC (05:04):
In a town hall discussion broadcast live on CNBC Monday, President Barack Obama said the country's economy is "moving in the right direction" -- even if it doesn't feel that way.
Responding to questions from, in addition to the host John Harwood, a student, a Wall Streeter, a small business-owner and a self-described member of the middle class, the president acknowledged that "times are tough for everybody," but pointed to his record so far as president and asked the audience to trust in his agenda. "We went through the worst recession since the Great Depression," he said. "Those programs that we put in place worked. So now you've got a financial system that is stable. ...The challenge is that the hole was so deep." MORE...
Howie P.S.: Eddie has been known to hang here and probably is still a property owner in West Seattle. Eddie, please confirm.
British Jamaican Rastafarian Writer: "It was political, but I couldn't spell the word politics" (with video/audio)
In London, the Prince of Wales Theatre was packed Sunday for a reading of the British production of The People Speak, a people’s history of Britain inspired by the work of the late historian Howard Zinn. We speak to Rasta and performance poet Benjamin Zephaniah.
Hidden at the root of the Tea Party movement are the issues of sex and race, especially interracial sex and the resulting “pollution” of the white “stock.” The movement has sought to keep conventional “culture wars” issues like abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research at an arms-length’s-distance from its organizing efforts. Knowing full well that the majority of Americans reject conservative Christian values, the Tea Party has campaigned on fighting personal taxes, the federal debt and the “tyranny” of Washington.
Nevertheless, the Tea Party’s appeal to traditional Christian values, its unstated secret agenda, was publicly exposed by the O'Donnell and Paladino revelations. At the heart of this unstated agenda are white Christian America’s deep-seated fears of sex, race and interracial "pollution." MORE...
I share the disappointment, depression and rage at Obama and leading Democrats and the way they've wasted so many months of momentum while getting their act somewhat together. Yes, I fully realize that the previous administration handed Obama and the Democrats a stinking pile of crap to deal with as they headed out the White House door. Moreover, the Republicans have been thoroughly obstructionist from the git-go, which Obama pretended wasn't really happening for far too long. For sure, none of this made the Democrats' job any easier. But even keeping all this in mind, the Democrats, as usual, proved themselves to be easy to roll and impede, largely because they refused to stand up and fight for their principles.
So, if I'm so angry with and disappointed by the Democrats, what's the point of this little essay? Why not just sit on my hands on Election Day in November and thus help the Democratic Party leaders learn a painful lesson? Namely, that if they abandon their campaign promises, their ideals and their voting base, they will do so at their peril; write off the progressive left, as Obama and Co. have done on too many occasions, and they will suffer the consequences. MORE...
In any athletic contest, winning teams play their own game and force the other side to play that game, too. The same being true in elections, it's remarkable how timidity leads Democrats to fight this year's campaign on Republican terms.
Nowhere is this more obvious than on taxes, where the entire debate revolves around what to do about the cuts enacted under George W. Bush. Almost no one is talking about extending the progressive tax cuts that were included in President Obama's stimulus program. Nor are we discussing the impending death of a pro-work public assistance program that, for a rather modest sum, has helped provide jobs to 250,000 low-income Americans. MORE...
Sunday, September 19, 2010
A smiling bouncer in a black skull and crossbones sweatshirt stood guard Sunday outside the door to a rented room where marijuana wafted through the air and reggae music pulsated.
There's an arrogance to the President's comments, and an inability to recognize how much he is a part of the problem. What's increasingly disturbing is that the President just doesn't seem to get why so many Democrats are so disappointed in him. He seems to believe the apologists' standard line that we're all naive purists who simply don't understand politics.
The comments add fuel to a greater, and growing, concern about the President: that he honestly thinks he's been doing a great job, and that he honestly thinks his approach to problem solving and legislating - compromise first, then reach any deal you can - is an appropriate way to run a country. Inside the White House they call this success. Outside, it's perceived by a growing number of Democrats and Independents as weakness. MORE...
Despite more than a decade of reformist pressures, the drug war juggernaut continues to roll along, as the FBI's most recent arrest numbers show. US law enforcement agencies arrested 1,663,582 on drug charges last year, according to the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report . That represents a slight decrease from the previous year. Of those 1.6 million arrests, 858,408 were for marijuana offenses. Marijuana arrests thus accounted for 51.6% of all drug arrests, making 2009 the first year pot busts accounted for more than half of all drug arrests.
Of the marijuana arrests, 758,593 were for pot possession, while 99,815 were for sales or manufacturing. Thus, more than 88% of all marijuana arrests were for possession and more than 45% of all drug arrests were for pot possession.
Overall, drug possession arrests accounted for more than 81% of all drug arrests. Fewer than one in five drug arrests were for drug trafficking or manufacture.
While marijuana possession accounted for 45% of all drug arrests, possession of heroin or cocaine accounted for only 17.7% of all drug arrests, "other dangerous non-narcotic drugs" 14.6%, and "synthetic or manufactured drugs" 3.7%.
The more than 1.6 million people arrested on drug charges last year was nearly three times the number arrested for violent offenses (581,765). More people were arrested on drug charges than any other single offense, including drunk driving (1.44 million), larceny (1.33 million), or non-aggravated assaults (1.31 million).
Saturday, September 18, 2010
MSNBC-Maddow, video via AMERICAblog (03:34).
Howie P.S.: Joe Biden's tells progressives: "Get in gear man!"
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.
It's not that rank and file Democrats are congenitally unable to celebrate all the wonderful accomplishments of the Obama administration. It's that, like Americans everywhere, they are hurting financially and don't have good feelings about the future. The Republicans are fired up and believe that they can take action to change it by voting for teabaggers. But Dems are stuck in a holding pattern waiting for things to hopefully turn around. They have nowhere to focus their angst so they tune out. In those comments, the president is, at best, ignoring their real issue and saying they don't know how good they have it. It's not helpful. MORE...
MSNBC-ED Show, video (03:38).
Howie P.S.: Howard Dean boosts Tommy Sowers, running for Congress in the Missouri congressional district where Rush Limbaugh grew up.
A couple of weeks ago, I took issue with some of the objections being voiced by progressive critics of Markos Moulitsas' new book, The American Taliban. In particular, I found this sentence from The American Prospect's Jamelle Bouie -- fairly representative of the negative reaction to the book -- to be not only absurd but almost offensive in its self-loving nationalism: "Yes, progressives are depressed and despondent about the future, but . . . . it doesn't excuse the obscenity of comparing our political opponents to killers and terrorists." For the reasons I explained, it seems to me that only jingoistic blindness can account for the belief that it is "obscene" to compare the American architects and enablers of the attack on Iraq and the worldwide torture regime (among other crimes) to "killers and terrorists." The former are the latter, by definition. MORE...
Friday, September 17, 2010
MoveOn.org Official Channel, video (02:53):
Populist hero Elizabeth Warren was just nominated to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by President Obama. Check out her greatest hits to see why she's going to be such an amazing advocate for consumers.
GRITtv, with video (10:00):
"We have to build that independent left. It has to be so strong and so radical and so militant and so powerful that it becomes irresistible."
Who better to say such a thing than Naomi Klein, Nation columnist, author of The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, and longtime rabblerouser? Naomi makes a special visit to the GRITtv studio to talk about the recent G20 meetings in her hometown of Toronto, about Obama's recent return to a kind of populism, the looming midterm elections in the U.S., her reporting on the BP disaster in the Gulf, and what we can do to channel the growing rage in this country and in the world into a true progressive movement.
Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert will march together on Washington.
Or against each other in Washington.
Either way, expect plenty of Comedy Central fans to show up on October 30 when Stewart's "Rally To Restore Sanity" will meet Colbert's "March To Keep Fear Alive" in the nation's capital.
The duo have been hinting at a major announcement for several episodes in a mock response to Glenn Beck's own "Restoring Honor" rally that was held this year on the anniversary of a famous Martin Luther King speech at the same monument. There's no indication that the announced get-together is a joke, though. Both comedians are telling their audiences to book hotel rooms now (though for different reasons, as you'll see).
"It'll be like being in a chat room," Stewart explained. "But real."
Stewart punctuated his announcement on the earlier program with a homemade-looking banner reading, "Take It Down A Notch For America."
Colbert followed up with an announcement on his own show, and insisted that he would "notch it up a scotch."
Each man ventured into the other's studios for moments you'll just have to see for yourself ...
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Rally to Restore Sanity|
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|March to Keep Fear Alive|