Category Archives: Democratic Party

How’d That Work For Everyone

Nancy Pelosi, earlier today:

“I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day,” Pelosi said to laughter, during a sit-down with reporters. “I’m not kidding. There’s a prison here in the Capitol … If we had spotted him in the Capitol, we could have arrested him.”

Jesus F. Christ, woman. Why the hell didn’t you? Why the hell didn’t you impeach Bush and Cheney when you had the chance, too?

When Democrats have power, they refuse to use it when it’s warranted. When Republicans have power, they abuse it to score political points. If Clinton could be impeached over a blow job surely Bush and Cheney could have been impeached over the Iraq War.

This has got to change, Democrats. How’s the playing nicey working for ya? In case you haven’t noticed, Republicans don’t play nicey back. They go for the jugular.

Might want to try it next time you have the gavel — assuming that day is ever allowed to happen.


Filed under Democratic Party, Karl Rove

Message To Democrats

Dear Democrats:

It is patently obvious to anyone with a brain that the Republicans in Congress do not want to help the economy.

They do not want to raise one penny of revenue or create one job before the 2012 election.

They want the country to sink into the abyss. They want things to get bad, and when they are bad, they want them to get worse. And when things get worse, that’s when they’ll really get busy making them worse still.

To quote Mitch McConnell, his “single most important political goal, along with every active Republican in the country,” is for Obama to be a one-term president. Not only that, they want the House and Senate, too. They’re greedy. They smell blood in the water and they’re salivating.

I mean, they’re not even hiding it. You can see it in their actions and you can hear it in their words.

I know you know this. You’re not stupid. And neither are we. So here’s my advice: over the August recess, please take that message to the American people. Please remind everyone, in every single interview, talk show appearance and town hall meeting, that the Republican Party is wholly focused on their political ambitions at the expense of the national interest. And every liberal constituent in a Republican district, please ask your representative how they can sleep at night knowing they are purposely hurting the economy for craven political reasons. Ask, like Lucy-Lou in Whoville Cindy Lou Who (I think I confused her with Lucy Liu from “Ally McBeal” and the Charlies Angels movies. Pop culture mash-up!), “Why? Why Senator Alexander? Why Senator Corker? Why won’t you help your colleagues in Congress make the economy better? Why won’t you help create jobs? Why?

Finally, Chuck Schumer said it. And oh how the Republicans cried and moaned and whined. Oh how their little fee-fees got hurt! Good.

Keep at it. Keep calling them on their shit. Hammer it home, repeat it over and over again, every chance you get. Pull back the curtain. Find memos, leak e-mails. Do it for the good of the country, because one political party is purposely sabotaging the economy to grab power, and that’s not just treasonous, it’s immoral.

Real people are suffering out here in Real America™ and we need you to do more than just play Mother May I on the policy level.



Southern Beale


Filed under 2012 presidential election, Democratic Party, economy, Republican Party

Blame Game

The problem with our economy continuing to drag its feet is that conservatives blame President Obama and the Democrats’ “liberal policies.” Liberals blame those same people, but for policies they say tilt too far to the right: in the interest of “bipartisanship,” they capitulate to failed conservative ideas like deregulation and tax cuts.

So who is right? If only we had some unbiased, reliable source of information, some kind of professional fact-checkers, people whose job it is to talk to experts, not partisans. You know, maybe present the facts! Ahem.

Instead, we have a group of people whose only interest is in telling the process story, the inside scoop: who’s winning and who’s losing the power play? Is Speaker Boehner losing his influence? Will President Obama lose re-election? Is the debt deal a victory for President Obama and the Democrats? Is it a victory for the Tea Party?

I mean, look. If real liberals are constantly getting thrown under the bus every time there’s a legislative battle in Washington — the economic stimulus, healthcare reform, extending the Bush tax cuts — then why is it always our fault when nothing gets better?

Democracy doesn’t work if the people are uninformed. And our traditional information source no longer performs that function (did it ever? I don’t know. I think the media certainly did a much better job of things once upon a time. Not perfect, but not .. this.) So what are Americans to do? If we can’t turn to the news media, where do we go? Must it take a judge to decide?

Kay at Balloon Juice has this item up today in which former Ohio Representative Steve Driehaus sued the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List for defamation after the SBA List ran ads saying Driehaus voted for taxpayer-funded abortions. Driehaus happens to be an anti-choice Democrat and he didn’t take too kindly to having his healthcare reform vote characterized as such, especially since the Affordable Care Act does no such thing. On top of which, Driehaus lost his seat, thanks no doubt to the lies spread by groups like the SBA List. The judge agreed that the Affordable Care Act did not call for taxpayer funded abortions in any way and cleared the way for Driehaus’ suit to move forward.

Kay wonders why this case even had to get to a judge. Good question.

We’ve all wondered why, for example, the lies about death panels and taxpayer-funded abortions and “government takeover of healthcare” were never countered in the press. You had right wingers spouting their nonsense, liberals sputtering “no it does not do that!”, and then, of course, that’s all the time we have, we’ll have to leave it there, yada yada. Why couldn’t someone, somewhere, read the damn bill, conclude that there are no death panels, no taxpayer funded abortions and certainly no government takeovers of anything, and the next time some yahoo tries to claim big mean ol’ Obama will decide if grandma gets to live or die, they tell them to shut the fuck up? Why is that so hard?

Politics has just destroyed everything, chief among them, our media. Democrats will always get blamed for everything because the rules of modern political discourse are, a) IOKIYAR and, b) it’s always good news for Republicans. So when Democrats capitulate to conservatives, and those conservative ideas fail again (no one could have anticipated! Really!), everyone says, well the Democrats were in charge, so there ya go! And they have a really good point.

If Democrats are going to dump every good and decent and proven Democratic idea of the past 80 years and hop on board with free market fairy tales and the miraculous job-creating power of tax cuts, well then you deserve what you get. Until our media wakes up and starts telling people facts, not spin — and there’s no indication that this will happen any time soon — Democrats will continue to get blamed for everything, whether they’re in charge or not.

During the debt ceiling debate I heard Republicans blame the national debt on the “Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid congress” and President Obama. Sure because those wars and the unfunded Medicare prescription drug giveaway to Big Pharma never happened! And on the left there’s a lot of disgust because we did have a majority in Congress, and what did we get for it? It’s like people have forgotten all of those filibusters, the long hard slog to get Sen. Al Franken seated, the deaths of Senators Kennedy and Byrd, the “60 is the new 50” crap we went through these past years. It’s been one Republican obstructionist hardball tactic after another, pushing Democrats ever further to the right, peeling away DINOs like Joe Lieberman (who, let’s face it, isn’t even a Democrat anymore, he’s a Lieberman) or Ben Nelson on one issue after another. We’ve all written about it. Have we forgotten?

But the Democrats need to wake up, already: you can be pragmatic and “bipartisan” all you want but if an idea stinks, it stinks. And you’re the ones who will get the blame. Always. It doesn’t matter what the facts say: you will get blamed.

I don’t really have a point here. I’m just wondering if there aren’t there any principled Democrats left — or is such a thing even possible absent a news media that refuses to do its job?


Filed under bipartisanship, Democratic Party, healthcare, media, Republican Party

Hey Dems: We Told Ya So

But nobody fucking listened.

Paul Krugman writes:

Back when the original 2009 Obama stimulus was enacted, some of us warned that it was both too small and too short-lived. In particular, the effects of the stimulus would start fading out in 2010 — and given the fact that financial crises are usually followed by prolonged slumps, it was unlikely that the economy would have a vigorous self-sustaining recovery under way by then.


But never mind. Somehow it became conventional wisdom that the deficit, not unemployment, was Public Enemy No. 1 — a conventional wisdom both reflected in and reinforced by a dramatic shift in news coverage away from unemployment and toward deficit concerns. Job creation effectively dropped off the agenda.

Yes, it’s important to remind everyone of the news media’s complicity in this nightmare. Sure, Paul Krugman has a column, but someone remind me the last time he or someone like him was invited to appear on a Sunday morning bobblehead show to counter the right wing spin? I think the answer would be never.

You know what pisses me off? That even *I* called it, me, a know-nothing housewife in Tennessee, whose life is basically reading, writing and kitchen pyrotechnics in between caring for the dogs and cats and sucking up pet hair with the vacuum cleaner. I mean cripes, if I could have figured this out, what the fuck is wrong with the Democratic Party and President Obama and the enlightened folks at CNN and the rest?

Waaay back in February 2009 I wrote:

This Bill Stinks


Nice job, idiots. And when the economy fails to be stimulated by the great and glorious free hand of the market unfettered by some of the lowest taxes in the developed world, it will be the failure of the Obama Administration.

Just as Rush Limbaugh, the de facto leader of the Republican Party, hoped.

Mission accomplished. Keep the wealth trickling up from the working classes to the corporations. Maybe some day we’ll all be rounded up into some KBR constructed detention camp, paid for with our tax dollars at a cost of $385 million.

In Feburuary 2009 Krugman wrote:

It’s time for Mr. Obama to go on the offensive. Above all, he must not shy away from pointing out that those who stand in the way of his plan, in the name of a discredited economic philosophy, are putting the nation’s future at risk. The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge.

Did I say mission accomplished? Why, yes I did. Amazing how Krugman’s prediction has come true. When will the Democrats (and for that matter, the President) wake up and realize this sabotage is feature, not bug? For purely partisan political reasons the GOP has tanked the economy. They wanted Obama to be a one term president and keeping the economy in the toilet was the only way to do it. What other explanation can there be? Remember when “deficits don’t matter”? Remember Bush’s tax cuts during war time and huge spending? Why else would the Republicans suddenly change their tune, going from free-wheeling spenders to deficit hawks as soon as the Democrats came into power? And I wish I could lay all the blame at the GOP’s feet but sadly they had plenty of help from Democrats who bought into the same discredited economic philosophy Krugman referenced.

So now the May jobs numbers are depressing, we’re looking at possible double-dip recession, and yet we continue to hear how the most important issue EVAH is the budget deficit. Bullshit. People need jobs. And not just any job, but jobs which pay a fucking decent wage:

–wage growth is really a problem here. On an hourly basis, yearly growth of nominal wages have been stuck below 2% since last February. That’s below recent inflation, and it means that only way families can get ahead is with more hours of work. For that option, see today’s jobs report.

Yes, that is the cruel irony of today’s situation. While Republicans keep telling us that we’re being crushed by the budget deficit, people are out of work and can’t find jobs and no one seems to be interested in doing anything about it! Republicans portray the unemployed as lazy, shiftless, and getting fat off their unemployment checks. Those who are lucky enough to be employed are actually earning less, which means they have less disposable income to do things like go to movies and eat out for dinner and buy the new lawnmower or get Little Suzy new clothes for summer camp. Or even to send Little Suzy to summer camp.

You know, all of those “service economy” jobs we traded manufacturing for.

And the dirty fucking hippies on the left were right. We told the Democrats to go big or go home or they would get the blame, that there would be hell to pay at election time. But no one wanted to listen to us — certainly not the mainstream media, those lions of cable news and the like, who during the stimulus debate were more worried about Michael Phelps’ bong hits than bothering to listen to some dirty fucking hippies.


So basically we’re all screwed. The right wing narrative rules in our “liberal media” — the same “liberal media” following Sarah Palin around and Tweeting the family’s breakfast selections. Serious discussion never happens, we just get the same right-wing talking points repeated over and over again. How is it even possible that we had tax cuts in 2001, again in 2003, the economy still tanked, and then we renew those tax cuts and we’re basically in the same place. Yet we still keep hearing how tax cuts stimulate the economy and create jobs. Has no one noticed that in 10 years it hasn’t worked yet?

I guess we’re all just fucked, and it’s the Democrats’ own fault. At some point instead of throwing liberals under the bus you’re going to have to listen to us because near as I can tell we’ve been right on everything. And I’m getting really tired of being right about some of this stuff.


Filed under Democratic Party, economic stimulus, economy, Media

>Dropping Pretenses

>Well, at least they are now admitting that this is not about budgets or fiscal responsibility. It’s about breaking unions, breaking Obama and winning the 2012 election:

This was just the final step in removing any doubt about the true nature of this fight. There was the announcement that Crossroads GPS, an independent campaign group founded by former George W. Bush political guru Karl Rove, among others, launched a $750,000 cable television ad buy blistering President Obama and public sector unions, with the Wisconsin battle as the hook and clearly painting it as being about breaking the unions. (As a side note, the ad contained assertions about union pay that even their ostensible source—a libertarian Cato Institute—said were misleading.)

Then there was Scott Fitzgerald, the state senate GOP leader, admitting to Fox News that the battle was about crippling the unions. He said:

“If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.

Presumably that relates to fixing the state budget somehow. (And as an aside: Really? A great American drama is being played out before us and one of the characters is named Scott Fitzgerald? Awesome.)

It’s been fascinating to watch this political striptease, as prevarication after prevarication is stripped away, laying bare a naked political power grab. Poll after poll after poll showed Americans in general and Wisconsites in particular opposed Walker’s plan—and most especially his union-busting proposal. It was almost as it these polls focused and distilled the issue to its core.

Yes, this is what we Lefties have been saying all along. When we tried to tell the Teanutties that they were being played by corporate interests bent on a power grab, they said oh no! Not us! We really care about government spending!

Yeah, right.

So while Wisconsin is center stage for this class struggle, make no mistake: the battle is being waged everywhere. Here in Tennessee, and in Ohio, and in Michigan and Virginia and everywhere else. It’s not about budgets or the size of government. It’s about political power, specifically taking it away from the people and giving it to the wealthy corporate elite. It’s about making sure workers no longer have a voice and the Democratic Party no longer has a major fundraiser. That’s what this has always been about. Pure, unadulterated political power.

I mean hello, people. What does it say that the Wisconsin Republicans are running to Washington D.C. to collect their money from a big-time D.C. lobbyist, BGR Group? Doesn’t that just say it all right there?

And it’s about President Obama. POTUS has been taking a lot of heat for backing away from a campaign vow to walk the picket line to support unions. It’s funny because the right is hilariously trying to claim the Wisconsin recall effort has been organized by the White House, when Obama can’t distance himself fast enough from the biggest event to affect American workers of his presidency.

Oh, I know, he needs to worry about Libya and the budget debate and there’s a trip to the UK coming up and blah blah. He doesn’t want to make it look like he’s involved in a state issue like worker’s collective bargaining rights. Well, sorry dude, but you are involved because this is all about defeating you in November 2012. The White House needs to wake up and smell the coffee. This is about Obama, the Wisconsin Republicans have said so. It’s about the 2012 election. It’s about breaking the president and breaking the Democratic Party. It’s about politics, it always has been. So wake the fuck up and put some skin in the game. You can’t pretend you’re not involved when you’re one of the main reasons this is happening in the first place. This is about you. This is about the Democratic Party.

Get your shit together, Democrats. They’ve come for you. What are you going to do about it?


Filed under Democratic Party, President Barack Obama, Wisconsin Protests

>It Will Be Different This Time, Honest!

>I swear, the narrative coming out of Democratic Party circles as Republicans take over the House of Representatives is driving me nuts. The message we’re hearing repeated everywhere is that “now Republicans have to lead,” and “governing is oooh so different from campaigning,” and “put up or shut up”, or as Rep. Anthony Weiner told Face The Nation:

“It’s their ship to run now,” he said. “That’s the responsibility.”

No, it’s not! It’s totally not! Because, they’re Republicans, which means they can do whatever the fuck they want and no one ever calls them on it, ever. Like, when Peggy Noonan famously claimed in a 2008 Wall Street Journal op-ed that “At least Bush kept us safe,” which neatly overlooked Nine-Fucking-Eleven, the anthrax attacks, Hurricane Katrina, etcetera, etcetera. Heh heh, we all know that shit was Clinton’s fault!

Or how about the time Karl Rove wrote, also in the Wall Street Journal, that President Obama’s stimulus package is “the biggest peacetime spending increase in American history,” forgetting that it’s not peacetime, asshole, we’re still embroiled in the two wars started under your watch.

In a sane world, someone over at the Wall Street Journal might have pointed these things out before running these pieces to begin with. But this is not a sane world, this is a world where Republicans are allowed to get away with saying and doing whatever they want. Republicans are Teflon, Democrats are glue. When will the Dems figure this out?

You know, you can never, ever say anything about what a budget-buster the Iraq War has been without someone pointing out, “Well, Democrats voted for it toooooo!” Yeah, but they wouldn’t have if a) Republicans weren’t fearmongering 24/7 about smoking guns being mushroom clouds, b) Republicans weren’t given free rein to question the patriotism of anyone who had the temerity to doubt the Bush Administration’s war rationale, and c) Bush Administration officials, in collusion with the media, hadn’t personally threatened and intimidated war critics like Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson. So get over your damn selves.

Yeah, we all know this routine. As long as there is one liberal within 30 yards of a bad decision, that is the person who is getting the blame. Wake up, Democrats.

Democrats never, ever remember this stuff. They never remember that the media is not liberal, that the networks and cable news bots are infatuated with sniffing Republican shorts and will rarely call Republicans on their lies, spin and revisionist history.

I mean, I don’t recall hearing a lot of media hacks rushing to correct the lies of Rush Limbaugh, who claimed Obama tanked the economy as payback for racism. This only makes sense if you are insane, and also if you forget who was president in fall 2007, when the economy actually crashed. Remember how John McCain was going to suspend his campaign and rush to Washington to fix the economy?

Ah yes, but the Democrats took the Senate in the fall 2006 elections, so everything that happened after that is their fault! Heads we lose, tails they win.

Already today we are seeing Republicans rewrite their brand-new House rules to suit their agenda. You know, like how deficits matter except when they don’t, which would be when pushing for war and tax cuts and pretending that a repeal of healthcare reform won’t add $230 billion to the deficit.

Got it, Democrats? It’s always Republican Rules. IOKIYAR is the guiding principle of modern American governance. Republicans can get away with everything and anything, Democrats cannot.

So don’t be pushing this pablum about how “Republicans have to govern now.” No, they don’t! They just have to show up on some Sunday morning bobblehead show and mouth some bumper sticker bromide about Freedom and Real America and What The American People Want and blargheddy blargh. It’s not like anyone in the media, save maybe Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, ever holds their feet to the fire.

This will only change if Democrats finally grow a spine and really wise up and make a big stink about this hypocrisy. And that won’t happen until they stop caring about what Tweety and David Broder think, and start really pushing back.

But I don’t hold out much hope.


Filed under Democratic Party, media, politics, rants, Republican Party

>Courage & Anger

>Frank Rich’s column yesterday, “Gay Bashing At The Smithsonian,” brings to mind an issue which has troubled me for some time. And that’s the issue of courage.

Rich discusses the removal of the late artist David Wojnarowicz’s work from an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. He writes:

When his mentor and former lover, the photographer Peter Hujar, fell ill with AIDS in 1987, Wojnarowicz created a video titled “A Fire in My Belly” to express both his grief and his fury. As in Haring’s altarpiece, Christ figures in Wojnarowicz’s response to the plague — albeit in a cryptic, 11-second cameo. A crucifix is besieged by ants that evoke frantic souls scurrying in panic as a seemingly impassive God looked on.

This is the piece that was originally included in the Smithsonian’s exhibition, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” which is advertised as “a serious examination of the role sexual identity has played in the creation of modern American portraiture.” The National Portrait Gallery yanked “Fire in My Belly” from its exhibit in early December after the Smithsonian caved to a manufactured piece of outrage which I daresay few Americans even heard about.

Back to Rich:

Like many of its antecedents, the war over Wojnarowicz is a completely manufactured piece of theater. What triggered the abrupt uproar was an incendiary Nov. 29 post on a conservative Web site. The post was immediately and opportunistically seized upon by William Donohue, of the so-called Catholic League, a right-wing publicity mill with no official or financial connection to the Catholic Church.


It took only hours after Donohue’s initial battle cry for the video to be yanked. “The decision wasn’t caving in,” the museum’s director, Martin E. Sullivan, told reporters. Of course it was. The Smithsonian, in its own official statement, rationalized its censorship by saying that Wojnarowicz’s video “generated a strong response from the public.” That’s nonsense. There wasn’t a strong response from the public — there was no response. As the museum’s own publicist told the press, the National Portrait Gallery hadn’t received a single complaint about “A Fire in the Belly” from the exhibit’s opening day, Oct. 30, until a full month later, when a “public” that hadn’t seen the exhibit was mobilized by Donohue to blast the museum by phone and e-mail.

The museum caved. They caved. Why?

Time and again we see groups (and politicians) cave in the face of such obviously manufactured political theater. Where is the courage? Who thinks capitulation is a winning strategy, that it does nothing more than ensure future fake campaigns?

Why was Shirley Sherrod asked to resign so quickly last summer? Why was Van Jones thrown under the bus? Why do our Democratic leaders and institutions cave to the right wing noise machine, time and time again?

Why do they act so afraid that some pundit somewhere is saying something mean about them?

The fact that Republicans are allowed to do the same (or worse) without any pearl-clutching in the media proves how politically motivated these “fauxtrages” are. It’s all about framing, fear-mongering, indulging in stereotypes and retreading that well-worn path allowing the majority to pretend it is a persecuted minority, thus redirecting anger to a more politically expedient target.

Yes, it pisses me off. And with all of that swirling around in my head I turned the page and read Ishmael Reed’s op-ed piece in the same issue of the New York Times (expanded upon at blogs like my second home, The Swash Zone). Apparently, progressives calling for President Obama (and other Democrats) to show some backbone in the face of unprecedented GOP obstructionism need to STFU because we simply don’t understand what it’s like to be a black person in America:

One progressive commentator played an excerpt from a Harry Truman speech during which Truman screamed about the Republican Party to great applause. He recommended this style to Mr. Obama. If President Obama behaved that way, he’d be dismissed as an angry black militant with a deep hatred of white people. His grade would go from a B- to a D.

What the progressives forget is that black intellectuals have been called “paranoid,” “bitter,” “rowdy,” “angry,” “bullies,” and accused of tirades and diatribes for more than 100 years. Very few of them would have been given a grade above D from most of my teachers.

Um, here’s a news flash for you: President Obama has already been dismissed as an angry black militant with a deep hatred of white people. Or haven’t you been listening to Glenn Beck, the very same right wing commentator who cost Van Jones his job? Were you paying attention when Ben Stein came out and called then-candidate Barack Obama an angry black man on Fox News in 2008? No? Well, we progressives were, and we countered those accusations every time. Where were you?

Look, the “angry” label is nothing new, nor is it unique to black intellectuals. Maybe you weren’t paying attention when Republicans called Hillary Clinton “too angry” to win a presidential election in 2008. Karl Rove called Al Gore “one angry dude.” Howard Dean was too angry to be president in 2004 and here he is screaming after a primary win to prove it! We’re “the angry left,” and voters “don’t elect angry candidates,” as former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman famously told ABC News. (For some reason anger isn’t a negative for the Tea Party, though — despite their guns and Town Hall shouting matches and hanging representatives in effigy. IOKIYAR.)

I get that there is a strategy among those in power exploiting cultural stereotypes and stoking fear of the “angry black male” to oppress black advancement in this country. That’s the same reason we hear women are too emotional and gays are pedophiles and all Muslims are terrorists. We all have our baggage and yes, some people’s baggage might be heavier than others. But that doesn’t mean we capitulate to it. Caving to the whims of the hate machine which makes these erroneous claims does not make them go away. It enables them!

This is standard issue right wing framing. Liberals have been labeled “angry” (even “too angry”) for decades, and guess what, we are angry. We were angry when protestors rioted at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and we were angry when we protested the Vietnam War and we were angry when we burned our bras in the 1970s and we were angry when we protested apartheid in the 1980s and we were angry when we protested the WTO conference in Seattle in 2000. Hell we were so angry over the stolen election in 2000 and subsequent Bush presidential misdeeds that we created a bumper sticker about it, which the Tea Party has conveniently co-opted.

It’s okay to be angry. Angry people get things done. I just never understood why being angry was supposed to be a bad thing, anyway. Just because the RNC says it is?

So no, I’m not going to tell Democrats not to be angry because Tweety might have a sad or Joke Line may wring his hands about frothy-mouthed liberal bloggers. Getting angry is okay, if you are fighting for your principles.

This is where courage comes in. Getting back to Ishmael Reed’s op-ed, I have to say I was mighty offended when I read this:

Unlike white progressives, blacks and Latinos are not used to getting it all. They know how it feels to be unemployed and unable to buy your children Christmas presents. They know when not to shout. The president, the coolest man in the room, who worked among the unemployed in Chicago, knows too.

Well damn, there’s a stereotype for you! Here’s a news flash for Mr. Reed: not all white progressives are used to getting it all, either. And I’ll be damned if I’ll be lectured on stereotypes by someone who can’t even recognize one when it pops out of his own keyboard.

Stand up and show some backbone, Democrats. Don’t cave to the right wing noise machine. Don’t agree to a political approach which neuters liberal outrage, and only allows conservatives to get angry. Every time you do so progress takes a step back. Every capitulation emboldens the opposition. It’s OK to be angry and it’s even better to use that anger to harden your resolve.

And I guarantee you that the Republicans are going to say mean things about you. You can take that to the bank. You know what? They’re going to say mean things anyway.


Filed under art, culture wars, Democratic Party, GLBT, New York Times op-ed, President Barack Obama, racism, right wing

>The Problem With Pragmatism

>Thinking about the scold we Lefties got from President Obama the other day, and the scorn he got from us in return, and the criticism bloggers and journalists are heaping upon each other as they pick a side, it all seems to boil down to one thing: When it comes to policy-making in modern-day Washington, you either think something is better than nothing, or you think nothing is better than something.

If, like President Obama and some of our Democrats, you think something is better than nothing, then compromises on the tax bill and healthcare reform and the stimulus package and Afghanistan and GITMO are acceptable, pragmatic actions. But if you take the long view, then such pragmatism does more harm than good. Sometimes, nothing is better than something.

Or, to put it another way: if you have a blister on your thumb, then amputating your arm is definitely a radical, foolhardy move. Unless you’re a masochist, you will opt for a Band-Aid instead. But say you’re Aron Ralston, and you aren’t dealing with a blister but instead are trapped beneath a boulder. In that case a Band-Aid is useless and foolish; amputating your arm to save your life is the pragmatic, albeit drastic, solution.

The trick in politics is knowing when you have a blister and when you are trapped by a boulder. And some of us progressive-types are saying the Democrats are trapped by a boulder right now. What’s at stake isn’t simply a piece of legislation here and there or even an election or two, it’s the entire legacy of the New Deal. And perhaps the sooner everyone wakes up to that reality, the better.

Three weeks before President Obama threw a bucket of cold water on the liberal base, James K. Galbraith articulated the conundrum that is the Obama presidency in a speech ominously titled, “Whose Side Is The White House On?”

The historian and economist said:

On the topics that I know most about, the administration is beyond being a disappointment. It’s beyond inept, unprepared, weak, and ineffective. Four and again two years ago, the people demanded change. As a candidate, the President promised change. In foreign policy and the core economic policies, he delivered continuity instead. That was true on Afghanistan and it was and is true in economic policy, especially in respect to the banks. What we got was George W. Bush’s policies without Bush’s toughness, without his in-your-face refusal to compromise prematurely. Without what he himself calls his understanding that you do not negotiate with yourself.


The president deprived himself of any chance to develop a narrative from the beginning by surrounding himself with holdover appointments from the Bush and even the Clinton administrations: Secretary Geithner, Chairman Bernanke, and, since we’re here at Harvard, I’ll call him by his highest title, President Summers. These men have no commitment to the base, no commitment to the Democratic Party as a whole, no particular commitment to Barack Obama, and none to the broad objective of national economic recovery that can be detected from their actions.

This is all correct, and there’s more … lots more. Go read Galbraith’s entire speech. He outlines point-by-point how the Obama Administration failed by advocating weak policies, by campaigning as a man of the people then siding with the banks and Wall Street.

The question is, what do we do now? Where do we go from here? Galbraith and others believe we are now lodged behind a massive, conservative boulder, and Band-Aids — pragmatic, legislative compromises — do more harm than good. If the Democratic Party is going to continue to exist as a political force, then they need to start showing they stand for something. That may mean some legislative failures to score some ideological wins.

Stupid? Maybe, if you’re talking about some legislative initiatives. But the country faces huge challenges right now. Big battles require big actions. And with every compromised, pragmatic vote, Democrats saddle themselves with Republican baggage. They lose the argument. George W. Bush launched his disastrous, budget-busting war of choice in Iraq, but Democrats voted for it too, and there we are. Learn that lesson, Democrats.

In two years no one will remember that the Republicans were being really mean on tax cuts. They’ll just remember that when the Democrats had majorities in the House and Senate and the White House, they gave millionaires a tax cut that isn’t offset by spending cuts. So the Republicans will also remind everyone that Dems added 900 bazillion jillion dollars to the deficit, because that’s how our narrative works. Republicans rule the media, and I promise you we’ll suddenly be a nation of fiscal hawks again when it comes time to spend money on things like Social Security and Medicare and social safety nets.

That’s how it works when you have one political party bent on destroying the greatest achievement of another political party.

Here’s Galbraith’s take:

What is at stake in the long run? Two things, mainly, in my view. First, it seems to me that we as progressives need to make an honorable defense of the great legacies of the New Deal and Great Society — programs and institutions that brought America out of the Great Depression and bought us through the Second World War, brought us to our period of greatest prosperity, and the greatest advances in social justice. Social Security, Medicare, housing finance — the front-line right now is the foreclosure crisis, the crisis, I should say, of foreclosure fraud — the progressive tax code, anti-poverty policy, public investment, public safety, and human and civil rights. We are going to lose these battles– get used to it. But we need to make an honorable fight, to state clearly what our principles are and to lay down a record which is trustworthy for the future.

Beyond this, bold proposals are what we should be advancing now; even when they lose, they have their value. We can talk about job programs; we can talk about an infrastructure bank; we can talk about Juliet Schor’s idea of a four-day work week; we can talk about my idea of expanding Social Security and creating an early retirement option so that people who are older and unemployed or anxious to get out of the labor force can leave on comfortable terms, and so create job openings for younger people who, as we’ve heard today, are facing very long periods of extremely aggravating and frustrating unemployment; we can talk about establishing a systematic program of general revenue sharing to support state and local governments, we can talk about the financial restructuring we so desperately need and that we’ll have to have if we are going to have a country which has a viable private credit system and in which large financial power is not constantly dictating the terms of every political maneuver.

We are not going to get these things, but we should have a clearly defined program so that people know what they are. And then, frankly, as was said earlier today, said most elegantly by Jeff Madrick, in the long run we need to recognize that the fate of the entire country is at stake. Its governance can’t be entrusted indefinitely to incompetents, hacks, and lobbyists. Large countries can and do fail, they have done so in our own time. And the consequences are very grave: drastic declines in services, in living standards, in life expectancies, huge increases in social tension, in repression, and in violence. These are the consequences of following through with crackpot ideas such as those embodied in the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission, as Jeff Madrick again outlined, such notions as putting arbitrary limits on the scale of government, or arbitrary limits on the top tax rate affecting the wealthiest Americans.

Yes. Yes, yes and more yes. Dear God, Democrats, but yes.

As the old addage goes, if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. Dear God, Democrats, quit falling for anything! Stand for something! You may not get it but you will have gained something else: your spine. Your right to Leadership. And you will have defended your legacy.

You will need these things moving forward. Galbraith’s speech is sobering, even depressing. He does not paint a picture of lollipops, puppies and rainbows. He says, indeed, that “we are heading now into a very dark time.” I believe he’s right.

Someone — I don’t remember who, I think it may have been a commenter over at Balloon Juice — pointed out that what people are really angry about is the realization that Washington is irreparably broken. Obama came to Washington promising to change the way things are done and he has failed miserably. With both houses of Congress and the White House, people hoped that partisan gridlock and party-over-country politics were history.

That didn’t happen because it was already too late. We can’t fix things the old-fashioned way. We need to wake up and smell the oligarchy, adjust our sails, and move forward accordingly.


Filed under Democratic Party, politics, President Barack Obama

>"I Remember"

>Wow. Powerful ad.

(h/t, Brilliant At Breakfast.)


Filed under Democratic Party, midterm elections, Republican Party

>“We Were The Messengers … We Were Your Friends … We Were Trying To Look Out For You”

>See if we do that again. Scapegoating your own base for when you lose elections is really, really uncool.

Apparently the base being pissed off has been spun into the base not voting. I’m not sure where that’s coming from, but I’d say the base is going to vote. They may hold their nose and vote Democrat, they may vote third party or write-in. But the people you need to worry about showing up to vote in November is not the base, it’s the vast number of people who usually don’t vote in midterms — the people you need the base to devote their weekends to reaching.

Hurling insults at the very people you need to knock on doors the next four weekends is not going to help your cause.


Filed under Democratic Party, midterm elections