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Showing posts from November, 2011

Don't dismiss Gingrich

As much as I hate to see it, it looks like my predictions about Gingrich being more than another flash in the pan candidate are proving to be accurate.

As some pundits begin to wake up to that reality, they're reminding us who this guy is. First of all, Josh Marshall.

To me it seems clear that Newt is wildly unsuited to be president...He’s the closest you get over the last half century to the guy who invented the brutally polarized politics of today (though it’s much deeper than any one person). He’s always been a highly mercurial and not particularly stable personality. That doesn’t even get into the ethical problems and outlandish positions.
And Paul Waldman.

His natural rhetorical style is one of extremity, in which good things are "profound," "transformative," and "fundamental," while bad things are not just bad but horrific, the worst things that have ever happened. That means that when he embraces a position, it's the greatest thing ever, and …

Grover Norquist thinks millionaires are "peasants"

That's the only conclusion you can reach if you listen to what he said to David Gregory.



Referring to the Democrat's insistence that a deficit reduction deal include new taxes on people making over $1 million a year, Norquist suggested that's the equivalent of saying "the peasants aren’t sending enough cash in for the king to spend."

Jeebus...if millionaires are peasants, I cringe to even contemplate what that makes me.

LOL

Taking on the myth of a "transformational president" (updated)

Jonathan Chait's recent article titled When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable? is drawing a lot of attention. And rightly so. It is sparking a conversation that needs to happen.

Yesterday, Katrina vanden Heuvel weighed in. While overall I tend to agree with Chait, I found that there were also some aspects of what vanden Heuvel said that I agree with. Most notably, we ARE living in times that require transformational change and no, the Republicans don't always march in lock-step either (the current Romney/not-Romney primary battle should be enough evidence of that).

Its really vandel Heuvel's last point where I part ways with her completely.

We need a transformational presidency, able to smash the failed, entrenched and corrupt politics of the center. That standard isn’t some perfectionism perennially demanded by disappointed liberals. It is required by the times.
I'd love to have the opportunity to ask her to give me an example of one time in our nation's histor…

Dog whistle or siren?

Fox Nation headline:



And the Wall Street Journal's William McGurn gives us this: Obama Abandons the Working Class.

At the root of these articles is a paper published by John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira taking a look at the demographics that are likely to affect the 2012 presidential election. It addresses historical and current trends - definitely not campaign strategy.

As Dave Weigel notes:

The funny thing here is that "abandoning" the white working class means "continuing to lose voters who have been voting Republican since 1966."... But with Fox Nation we get an illustration of Obama gritting his teeth and waving "see ya," while flanked by his wife and an unidentified black guy. This is quite subtle.
Yeah, real subtle. As I said, dog whistle or siren?

Elon James White tweets it...

...and then writes about it at The Root: Dear OWS: Welcome to Our World.

While the Occupiers were dealing with such abuse, during civil disobedience, communities of color suffer these type of injustices simply because it's Wednesday, and they may look like someone else. That's what happens to us -- and it's accepted as if it were just a day of the week.

Monday, Tuesday, abuse at the hands of police officers, Thursday, Friday ...

I'm someone who supports Occupy Wall Street. I didn't write that tweet in an attempt to undermine the cause or to belittle the suffering of those who have been victims of the police. I wrote it to highlight the fact that these issues aren't new. Abuse of this kind is all too familiar to the black community. If someone hasn't directly experienced it, they probably know someone who has.

There have been discussions as to why there aren't more blacks involved in the Occupy movement. I can't speak for all of them, but I can speak…

The DNC's brilliant anti-Romney campaign

From the DNC...Mitt v. Mitt: the story of two men trapped in one body.



Steve Benen talked about this campaign yesterday and its one of the few times I find myself disagreeing with him. Like me, he applauds the effort. But I think he misses the mark on their aim.

...the DNC’s new videos leave no real doubt that (a) Dems assume Romney will be the Republican nominee; and (b) they also believe they have plenty of material to work with in order to make the former governor look ridiculous in the eyes of mainstream voters.
I suspect the DNC has lots of doubts about who will be the Republican nominee. I know that many pundits assume it will be Romney. But the truth is - no one knows that at this point. The one thing that is looking more probable is that it is likely to come down to a battle between Romney and Gingrich.

Now...who do you think the DNC would prefer to run against in that duo? I'd suggest that at least part of the audience they're targeting is Republican primary voters who …

We have to be our own gatekeepers

I suppose that by now most of you have heard about the ridiculous column by Naomi Wolf over at The Guardian titled The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy. In it she suggests a nefarious plot about local police departments getting their marching orders on police brutality from the Dept. of Homeland Security, Congress and the White House.

I haven't written about the whole affair because bloggers like Angry Black Lady and Karoli have done a superb job of thoroughly debunking her claims.

But I had a special interest in all of this because a couple of years ago I started hanging out at the Guardian's Comment is Free America blog. That was back when Michael Tomasky wrote several columns a day there. What I found were thoughtful columns (though I didn't always agree) and a group of commenters that ranged from the most liberal, to Blue Dogs, to conservatives, to tea partiers. I enjoyed the diversity tremendously and learned a lot.

Then Tomasky left and went to The Dail…

Remembering the basics

As political junkies (which I proudly call myself), sometimes we can get so caught up in the trees that we forget to talk about the forest. In E.J. Dionne's latest column, the opening two paragraphs remind us of the big picture.

The deficit that should most worry us is a deficit of reasonableness. The problems the United States confronts are large but not insoluble. Yet sensible solutions that are broadly popular can’t be enacted.

Why? Because an ideological bloc that sees every crisis as an opportunity to reduce the size of government holds enough power in Congress to stop us from doing what needs to be done.
Dionne focuses like a lazer on the heart of the problem we're facing these days. And we need to keep our eye on changing that if we have any hopes of moving this country forward.

Our challenge is to get that message out to all those people who don't pay as much attention as we do and therefore are confused about what's going on.

If you have Republican-leaning fri…

Dual triggers

Ezra Klein put together a fascinating chart comparing the taxing and spending effects of the various proposals put forward for deficit reduction.



As a reminder, here's a little information on the background of each one:

Simpson/Bowles - the major proposal coming out of a bipartisan deficit reduction commission created by President Obama.

Ryan Budget - the plan put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan. All Republican House members voted to approve this plan.

Obama, April - the plan President Obama proposed at this speech following the release of the Ryan plan.

Obama/Boehner - one of the plans released from the debt ceiling negotiations between Obama and Boehner.

Toomey - The last plan put forward by Republicans on the Super Committee.

Baucus - The last plan put forward by Democrats on the Super Committee.

Dual Trigger - what will happen as a result of the triggers agreed to in the debt ceiling deal and expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

It's important to note that all these plans have faile…

Deconstructing the myth that OFA = the DLC

I've seen too many on the left pretend that Obama for America (formerly Organizing for America - or OFA) is merely an extension of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). That kind of comparison shows a serious lack of awareness about either organization.

To deconstruct that myth, let's start by taking a look at the DLC. I've found no better analysis on it than the one written in 2001 by Robert Dryfuss.

Here's how he describes the founding of the DLC.

With few resources, and taking heavy flak from the big guns of the Democratic left, the DLC proclaimed its intention, Mighty Mouse–style, to rescue the Democratic Party from the influence of 1960s-era activists and the AFL-CIO, to ease its identification with hot-button social issues, and, perhaps most centrally, to reinvent the party as one pledged to fiscal restraint, less government, and a probusiness, pro–free market outlook.
But with an agenda like that - the days of "few resources" didn't last long.

Th…

Learning from the recent history of the 2000 election

Today Nicholas Kristof has an interesting column basically directed to those on the left who are disgruntled with President Obama.

But as we approach an election year, it is important to acknowledge the larger context: Obama has done better than many critics on the left or the right give him credit for.
He then goes on to list the President's accomplishments and ends with this.

But think back to 2000. Many Democrats and journalists alike, feeling grouchy, were dismissive of Al Gore and magnified his shortcomings. We forgot the context, prided ourselves on our disdainful superiority — and won eight years of George W. Bush.

This time, let’s do a better job of retaining perspective.
That one really resonated with me. Just a couple of weeks ago I finally watched the movie Recount. Yeah, I know I'm late to that party. But in some ways my timing was interesting. As I watched the story unfold I got enraged. And I kept asking myself "Where were you at the time? Why weren't you …

It's time

Beautiful!!!

The hate is not new

Today BooMan flags an interesting post to commemorate the passing of New York Times columnist Tom Wicker. Its the article published by Wicker announcing the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In it, Wicker talks about the speech Kennedy never gave that day in Dallas.

Voices are being heard in the land, he said, "voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness."

The speech went on: "At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they see that debt as the greatest threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.

"We cannot expect that everyone, to use …

The season of "stuff"

I've never been a big shopper and to be honest - days like "Black Friday" give me the willies. I hate to even venture out of the house. Stories like this one pretty much sum up why.

But there's also the fact that today marks the beginning of the season of stuff.



A few years ago Annie Leonard put together a little video about The Story of Stuff. If you haven't watched it before, I highly recommend it. Here's the section that summarizes how we get so caught up in accumulating this stuff.



One of my favorite books of all time is The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist. She digs a little deeper into this attachment to stuff and finds it rooted in "the myth of scarcity."

The internal condition of scarcity, this mindset of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life, and it is deeply embedded in our relationship with money. In the mind-set of scarcity, our relationship with money is an expression of f…

"We've done it for 400 years"

The other day Andrew Sullivan wrote an excellent column titled Why Obama still matters. Apparently he got lots of reactions. But this one by a black attorney in his 20's knocked it out of the park.

...not to be too racial about this, but myself and a lot of my minority friends sense that white liberals' disappointment from Obama comes from a sense of entitlement.

Unlike affluent white liberals, minorities in this country seem to have a better grasp of a key truth in life: you don't always get everything you want. We know, if not firsthand then from the stories of our parents, that America isn't always a nice place, and all you can hope for is incremental change. Unlike a lot of our affluent white liberal friends, we are used to not getting it all and have learned to live with it.

To the second point, the way Obama is attacked hurts us personally because so many of us see ourselves in the president. We are middle-class black and Hispanic kids who did all the right things…

Why the Republicans hate math as much as they hate science

There's been a lot of talk about the Republican's efforts to destroy science. But we've seen less talk about their attempts to undermine basic math. I suppose you've heard by now that Newt Gingrich called the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office a reactionary socialist institution. As is his habit, Gingrich was simply adding a little hyperbole to what many Republicans have been saying for awhile now.

"Reality," Stephen Colbert famously told President Bush to his face, "has a well-known liberal bias." That inconvenient truth is at the heart of the expanding Republican war on the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Increasingly frustrated by CBO analyses showing that the 2009 economic stimulus worked as designed, that the Paul Ryan GOP Medicare rationing plan would massively shift costs to seniors, that income inequality is at record levels and, most damning of all, the Affordable Care Act reduces the national debt, Republican leaders ha…

Left Colorblindness and White Democracy

Many thanks to Chauncey DeVega for pointing me to an article titled Whiteness and the 99% by Joel Olson. So much of what Olson says applies not only to OWS, but any progressive organizing in which we might be involved.

First of all, Olson defines "left colorblindness."

Left colorblindness claims to be inclusive, but it is actually just another way to keep whites’ interests at the forefront. It tells people of color to join “our” struggle (who makes up this “our,” anyway?) but warns them not to bring their “special” concerns into it. It enables white people to decide which issues are for the 99% and which ones are “too narrow.” It’s another way for whites to expect and insist on favored treatment, even in a democratic movement.
Then he summarizes the historical development of "race" in this country as a way for the 1%ers to maintain power.

Race was created in America in the late 1600s in order to preserve the land and power of the wealthy. Rich planters in Virginia …

Republicans don't want the truth - and Romney's not about to give it to them

All the talk about Mitt Romney yesterday was about how he told a blatant lie in his first campaign ad of the season. And my gawd, the man can't even tell the truth about his own name. But when it comes to policy - especially about something as explosive for Republicans as immigration - he's not about to tell the truth either.

In last night's Republican debate, Newt Gingrich fell into the compassion trap on the issue of what to do with the 11 million undocumented people who currently live in the U.S.

During a discussion of illegal immigration led by moderator Wolf Blitzer, Gingrich — who Blitzer pointed out voted in favor of so-called “amnesty” legislation in the past — the latest frontrunner for the nomination said clearly that Republicans need to show a little compassion to illegal immigrant families who’ve been living in this country for decades.
It would be worth spending some time talking about Gingrich's entire answer and how very little compassion he's actual…

Stories that caught my eye today...

My thoughts this morning are wandering to a variety of places. I'm not sure there's a theme. So perhaps the best thing to do is to simply let you know what has caught my eye.

Last night Lawrence O'Donnell pretty much summed up what I've been saying about President Obama's handling of the debt ceiling issue. Take a few minutes and watch.



The New York Magazine has a long article about Arianna Huffington. This part will probably not come as any surprise to you.

Huffington’s own thread has seemed to follow a similarly circuitous path, from right to left and now seeming to bend back, making the Huffington Post’s political leanings a bit more red-state-friendly for the AOL culture—though one could argue that, in fact, she’s never been that far left...Huffington says now that she is disappointed in Obama and could even see herself voting Republican in the next presidential election. “To me,” she says, “the issues are more important than the party.” She pauses. “Trust me, I…

Watch a President use leverage

@ 3:25

Already some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple..."No." I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off-ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure. The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees to a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.(Emphasis mine)

In other words, unless Republicans agree to increase taxes on the wealthy, the President will veto any attempt to undo the cuts to defense.

Is that clear enough for you Senators Graham and McCain?

Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are collaborating on legislation that would undo at least some of the automatic spending cuts aimed at the Pentagon.
Get that poutragers?

But the GOP won't fret over those defense cuts. Because all they have to do is pa…

Obama demonstrates once again the brilliance of "knowing when to fold 'em"

All this talk from Republicans about trying to blame President Obama for the failure of the Super Committee to come up with a deal is truly amusing. I guess they don't realize how much they sound like 2 year-olds trying to blame Daddy Obama for the mess they created.

To the contrary, I think the President's decision to stay out of this one demonstrates why he's such a good poker player in the tradition of Kenny Roger's song The Gambler.

You've got to know when to hold 'em
know when to fold 'em
know when to walk away
and when to run.
We all know too well that President Obama put all he had into trying to negotiate with the Republicans last summer to come up with a "grand bargain" on deficit reduction. And while most folks recognize that he put it all on the table only to run into the intransigence of folks like Cantor and Boehner, many Americans still seemed to hold him accountable for failing to get the job done.

The deal they reached at that poi…

Republicans just made their 2012 campaign all about tax cuts and foreign policy

A little over a month ago, I suggested that the looming failure of the Super Committee - and the consequences of that failure - would overtake the conversations leading up to the 2012 election. And that conversation begins today.

As an example, here's the headline of an article by Peter Wallsten in the Washington Post: Supercommittee's failure pushes Bush tax cuts to the forefront of the 2012 campaign.

The imminent failure of the congressional deficit “supercommittee,” which had a chance to settle the nation’s tax policy for the next decade, would thrust the much-contested Bush tax cuts into the forefront of next year’s presidential campaign...

That makes December 2012 the next critical deadline in the budget wars, with Obama, safely reelected or acting as a lame-duck president, wielding a veto pen with the power to return tax rates to Clinton-era levels.

Democrats say they see the issue as an easy way to portray Obama’s opponent in the presidential election as a defender of t…

We've got your back Michelle...

...because you've always had ours.













Oops, guess we should have been paying more attention to the Obama administration's crackdown on police brutality

I must admit that watching the OWS supporters rail about police brutality all of the sudden is rather interesting. Apparently the truism about it depending on "whose ox is being gored" has been born out once again.

I remember some of the same people who are doing the complaining now are the one's who wanted us to STFU about Professor Henry Gates getting manhandled and arrested inside his own home (and no, I'm not making an equivalency argument, but that shit goes on in the African American community every g-damned day). They also didn't want President Obama to comment on it because it was a distraction from the "really important issues" of the day.

Now all of the sudden they are suggesting these police tactics are somehow the President's problem and demanding he do something about it. Here's a recent twitter by Joan Walsh that set off a firestorm last night.

The militarization of cops came after 9/11 under Bush. It wasn't that Davis decided …

A little more laziness wouldn't be all bad

As I watch all this talk about who's calling who lazy, I tend to have a different kind of reaction than most people. One of the things that comes to my mind is this parable.



A management consultant, on holiday in a African fishing village, watched a little fishing boat dock at the quayside. Noting the quality of the fish, the consultant asked the fisherman how long it had taken to catch them.

"Not very long." answered the fisherman.

"Then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the consultant.

The fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The consultant asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have an afternoon's rest under a coconut tree. In the evenings, I go into the community hall to see my friends, have a few beers, play the drums, and sing a few songs..... I have a full and happy life."…

Taking on the myth that Democrats caved

It all started right away from the get-go. Our country had just elected Barack Obama at the moment we were careening towards a second Great Depression. Something had to be done...and fast. Twenty-eight days after the inauguration, President Obama signed the Recovery Act (yes, that's right folks...28 days!) It was the largest stimulus package every passed by a U.S. Congress.

And yet the wails of "Obama caved" coming from the left were already well underway. Nevermind that time was of the essence and Democrats (who had 57 Senators at the time) had to negotiate with the likes of Lieberman, Snowe, and Specter (who was still a Republican back then) in order to get something passed. The myth was born.

Almost 3 years later, the myth persists. That's why I thought I'd take a few minutes and bust it up a bit.

The second stage in the development of the "cave" myth came, as everyone knows, when the public option was dropped from inclusion in health care reform. A…

Army Captain who was booed at Republican debate is home now and speaking out

I'm sure you all remember the Republican debate when Army Captain Stephen Hill - who was serving in Iraq at the time - submitted a youtube question about whether or not the presidential candidates would reverse the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell...and was booed. He was also told by Rick Santorum that his relationship with his partner Joshua Snyder was only about sexual activity, which "has no place in the military."

Captain Hill is home now (yeah!) and speaking out.

Hill says the fact that he just outed himself on national television had barely registered when he absorbed the boos and Santorum's answer followed by applause.

"When the actual booing occurred, my gut dropped out, because my first inclination was, did I just do something wrong?" he said. "The answer, obviously, wasn't very supportive of gay people, and there was a lot of fear of how the Army would take the question."

He did not have to wait long to find out. At breakfast …

Republicans showing their true colors

For a long time now too many Republicans lied to poor people. They'd pretend that things like tax breaks for the rich would "trickle down" and ultimately help them economically. It never worked that way. But enough poor and working class people believed them that they continued to lie.

In many ways that era is over for the current crop of Republicans. Don't believe me? Then take a look at a couple of stories from yesterday.

First of all, you have Newt Gingrich's answer to income inequality: get rid of child labor laws and put the children to work.

Newt Gingrich tonight said at an address at Harvard that child work laws "entrap" poor children into poverty - and suggested that a better way to handle failing schools is to fire the janitors, hire the local students and let them get paid for upkeep.

The comment came in response to an undergrad's question about income equality during his talk at Harvard's Kennedy School...

He added, "You go out a…

Jay Smooth: "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race”

Jay Smooth doing a TED talk? How cool is that?

This guy knows what he's talking about when it comes to the race conversation. Please take a few minutes to listen.

From "satan sandwich" to eating crow

I just have to quote a bit of an article from The Hill because it fits so perfectly with what I wrote about this morning on how Obama and the Democrats outsmarted Republicans on the debt ceiling deal. The title of the article tells the story: Democrats' 'Shit Sandwich' starts tasting pretty good.

The bipartisan debt-limit deal, famously called a “Satan sandwich” by a prominent Democrat this summer, is looking more heavenly to the left.

Republicans crowed after striking the agreement with President Obama, while congressional Democrats cried foul. Despite the White House’s endorsement of the bill, 95 House Democrats voted against it.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the Budget Committee, subsequently said Republicans called Obama’s bluff. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he got 98 percent of what he wanted in the deal.

Three months later, members of both parties are looking at the deal much differently.

A GOP lawmaker who requested anonymity told The Hill that “it’s the…

Right wingers are showing their desperation

Its got to be hard to be a Republican these days. As their presidential nominees take turns demonstrating that they're the definition of the gang who couldn't shoot straight, their Congressional leaders are crying for Daddy Obama to come home and fix this Super Committee mess they got themselves in to. And when it comes to attacking President Obama, their whole "birther" scheme went down in flames and the guy is relentless in depriving them of scandal material.

As a result, desperation is the only way I can explain the fact that Breitbart, Fox, The Daily Caller, and Drudge have all featured this 1991 video of Barack Obama on their websites over the last couple of days.



They're acting like this is a new revelation (their youtube version was posted two days ago). But if you check out the origin of the one up above, it was posted way back in March 2009. So its hardly some recent "find" from Obama's "dark" past.

None of the sites are writing …