Tag Archive: progressive

How to Lose an Election Without Really Trying

The Hill reported on Monday that centrist Democrats were preparing to fight the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of the party fearing that a shift to the left would lead to greater losses in 2016.

The New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a caucus of moderate Democrats in the House, plans to unveil an economic policy platform as soon as this week in an attempt to chart a different course.

“I have great respect for Sen. Warren – she’s a tremendous leader,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), one of the members working on the policy proposal. “My own preference is to create a message without bashing businesses or workers, [the latter of which] happens on the other side.”

Peters said that, if Democrats are going to win back the House and Senate, “it’s going to be through the work of the New Democrat Coalition.”

“To the extent that Republicans beat up on workers and Democrats beat up on employers – I’m not sure that offers voters much of a vision,” Peters said.

Warren’s rapid ascent has highlighted growing tensions in the Democratic Party about its identity in the post-Obama era. [..]

Leaders at three centrist groups – the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), the New Democrat Network (NDN) and Third Way – arranged a series of meetings with moderates after the disastrous midterm elections to “discuss the future of the party,” according to a source close to the NDC.

The laughable part in that article is thinking that Barack Obama’s election in 2008 brought about a shift to the left in Democratic caucus was bad for the party:

One sign of the shift is the decline of the Blue Dog Coalition, a once-sizable bloc of conservative Democrats that is nearly extinct. More than two-dozen of its members were ousted from office in 2010.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who is viewed as a centrist, said the centrist strain of politician is declining and estimated that “there’s fewer than 100” left in Congress.

“We need more moderates and centrists in both parties,” Carper said. “Part of politics is the art of compromise.”

The problem with that thinking is that it was centrist/right wing/Blue Dog policies that lost the Democrats the House in 2010 and this year the Senate. You can’t compromise with the right wing fundamentalists who are dominating the GOP. That lesson should have been learned during the debt ceiling fight in 2011 when Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) bragged that he got 98% of what he wanted. That’s not compromise, that’s caving. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) got the message and held the Democratic caucus together during last week’s battle to pass a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Today that clean bill passed.

Third Way and “Fix the Debt” Democrats are nothing more that tools of Wall Street and billionaire Pete Peterson who founded and funds Third Way and commissions like Pres. Obama’s Cat Food Commission (that the Democratic congress refused to form) that was nothing more than a cover for destroying Social Security and what is left of the social safety net. None of that is centrist, it is pure corporate right wing ideology. Now they’re back and want the left to shut up, especially Sen. Warren.

Here’s “Uncle” Charlie Pierce from Esquire’s Politics on these charlatans:

Like the shingles, “centrist” Democrats lay dormant in the body until they erupt again and your face feels like it’s burning off. They all showed up at the Cafe today for lunch, and there was some whoopin’ and hollerin’ and triangulatin’ going on, I’ll tell you. I had to threaten to call the cops to stop them from dancing on the counter like scalded monkeys.

     “I have great respect for Sen. Warren – she’s a tremendous leader,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), one of the members working on the policy proposal. “My own preference is to create a message without bashing businesses or workers, [the latter of which] happens on the other side.” Peters said that, if Democrats are going to win back the House and Senate, “it’s going to be through the work of the New Democrat Coalition.”

Who in the fk is brother Peters, you say? Glad you asked. Among his other qualities, he’s rich as hell. So, it should be pointed out, is Senator Professor Warren. But who is advocating for policies guaranteed to take a little money out of their own fat wallet? [..]

Actually, the great American middle-class was born at a time in which the top tax rate was in the neighborhood of 90 percent, and in which financial institutions were carefully regulated, and when there was a general political consensus that public investment and a thriving middle class were good for everyone. Damn, I liked Ike. [..]

Remind me again. What was the fate of all those Democratic candidates who ran away even from this administration’s very modest efforts at moderating income inequality? Nice to see you again, Senator Lundergan Grimes.

As Richard Eskow so pointedly notes Democrats in 2010 and 2014 ran on those centrist policies and lost. Now they want to do it again in 2016. That’s not just insanity, it’s political suicide.

Shout louder, Sen. Warren. Somebody has to keep this country on a better path.

“Progressive Economists,” Paul Krugman??

On This Week, the usually very precise Paul Krugman fell down the huge bottomless linguistic pit created by Bill Clinton and the DLC.

Krugman bemoaned the lack of any progressive economists in the Obama administration while being lectured by the like of Peggy Noonan on antediluvian economics.

Progressives have most distinguished themselves from the usual run of coastal liberals by being isolationist, insular, often tainted with more or less aggressive chauvinism.  

The last clear progressive “economist” I ever read was the fire-breathing The Nation columnist, Alexander Cockburn.

Cockburn styled himself a socialist while directing much of his fire at his fellow alternating lead The Nation columnist, Christopher Hitchens, who was a liberal and/or socialist.  Cockburn’s somewhat bizarre economics, rarely on display, was oddly reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson’s isolationist economics and even had a hint of Jefferson’s rabid racism.

Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower were both regular contributors to The Progressive.  The Progressive is a Madison, Wi, publication that traces its beginnings to Bob LaFollete and hews closely to LaFollete’s ideas without some of the ugliness.  Progressivism began with Teddy Roosevelt and his Bull Moose Party and has a history of wild warriors against conservatives of any breed.

Most notable in my view was Huey Long.  

“If you can’t take their money, drink their liquor, eat their food, screw their women and then look them in the eye and tell them you are against them, you’re not man enough to be in the Senate,” declared the Kingfish.  

No doubt Huey was first in line with his “Share Our Wealth” organization but he beat FDR bloody when FDR made draconian cuts to the pensions of veterans and their families.  FDR never forgot nor forgave, his hatred for Republicans was mild by comparison.

No way in hell was Krugman talking about the like of Huey Long.  Not terribly likely the two would ever see eye to eye.  Certainly Krugman would have known enough not to debate Huey Long while standing alongside Huey at a urinal.  A fellow senator did that in the Senate restroom and Huey simply turned sideways without saying a thing.  

Best,  Terry

Facing Despair and the Move Towards Authoritarianism

There have been a spate of articles in places as varied as the WaPo, Huffington Post, and the usual places where leftists publish articles (CounterPunch, TruthDig, here, and so on) about what is at stake in this election. Most of these articles do not tell us to vote for Obama but rather to seek some kind of alternative at best and something close to despair at worst. One of the best of these articles by Henry Giroux (Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism) has just been posted on CounterPunch. This article should be read by all here and offers about as exhausting an analysis as you could want on where we are at politically at this point in time.

Here Giroux provides a clear statement:

A catalogue of indicting evidence reveals the depth and breadth of the war being waged against the social state, and particularly against young people. Beyond exposing the moral depravity of a nation that fails to protect its young, such a war speaks to nothing less than a perverse death-wish, a barely masked desire for self-annihilation-as the wilful destruction of an entire generation not only transforms U.S. politics into pathology, but is sure to signal the death-knell for America’s future.  How much longer will the American public have to wait before the nightmare comes to an end?

None of these articles provide us with a viable course of action (Giroux may be an exception), not because there isn’t one as I’ve often pointed out, but that, from a cultural perspective it is out of the question. For example, I have, for  years, made the point that power comes from organized, committed and focused communities who are willing to go to the barricades if necessary to assert themselves. I’ve suggested communities, communes, cooperatives, and even creating leftist-oriented corporations either for-profit or non-profit. From that base power can evolve and be used to influence public policy. At this point in history the cultural reality is that people who profess leftist views can’t or won’t cooperate with each other but prefer to live, in large part, fairly atomized lives with occasional bursts of spontaneous chaotic action (Wisconsin and Occupy) during which they fill themselves with fantasies and illusions about their own sense of righteousness.  Much of the fantasy around Occupy went like this: “isn’t it obvious that we represent the 99% and once we get out in the streets most people will join us.” Well that didn’t happen, in fact, most people, on balance, opposed these efforts in part because they were chaotic and disorganized and thus inspired little respect or trust with people who know, as a pragmatic reality, that that is not how the world works.  

Manifest Destiny In Reverse

America has never been this fucked up.

That bitter awareness is echoing from one end of reality to the other, it’s rumbling just under the surface of this Wonderland of the One-Percent, it can be heard in the whistling of Wall Street bankers past the graveyard of the economy, in the silence of a million foreclosed homes, in the blowing of the wind through the ragged lines of the unemployed, in the pounding of the waves of karma on the shores of capitalism, where the sandcastles of the American Dream are being swept away, where the piers of the political system are collapsing into the sea, where a long night is falling and the lights along the boardwalk of forgotten freedom are all going out.

North Shore Sunset

This Isn’t Over Yet

Reading Netroots blogs gets depressing, the content is repetitive, the problems are all too well known and the solutions are obvious, but they aren’t seen as solutions by the corporate or political establishments, they’re seen as lethal threats.  So we’re portrayed as radicals, we’re demonized by Republicans and ignored by Democrats, tens of millions of Americans pay no attention at all to us, many of them don’t even know we exist.    

You can look out across cyberspace tonight, you can see all words written on progressive blogs, all of the insights and commentary, all of the assessments, you can see all of the passion and dedication and idealism, but most of all, you can see the futility, the frustration of people who have no power.  It doesn’t matter if you’re Kos or Hamsher or the newest blogger on the smallest blog, the view is the same and so is the dilemma . . .      

You can see a million miles tonight,

But you can’t get very far . . .

 

Progressive Attitudes and Misplaced Piety

A recent series of posts written by a blogging friend of mine raises some serious questions.  In it, he discusses ways in which many of us who mean well go completely wrong.  We live in a post-Christian society, but we carry over aspects of religiosity of which we may not even be consciously aware.  In seeking to be Good Liberals™, we reveal our indebtedness to the same relative framework, one held also by our ancestors.  Before I introduce my larger point, I need to assert here that I am not arguing that anyone ought to hold racist ideas or that doing so is acceptable.  Rather, I’m critiquing the means by which we often resort to eradicate them.  Here is the first.

By-Products of a Damaged World

I’ve recently been reading the late UK novelist’s Muriel Spark’s book The Comforters.  Her first effort at the genre, it describes in detail the life of Caroline Rose, a recent convert to Catholicism.  Set in 1950’s Britain, Rose is first supremely skeptical of organized religion.  The fellow believers with whom she interacts have an intellectual understanding of the faith, but to her they lack real sincerity.  Beyond that, she believes that these people appear to fabricate God’s presence in their lives, rather than displaying the humility only a truly Divine relationship can produce.  In particular, Caroline finds one frequent, unfortunate practice most distasteful of all.

Booman: Reagan will beat Glen Beck on relative merits.

(cross-posted at boomantribune)

I think booman is correct in suggesting that in the struggle between Obama and House Republicans, Reagan will beat Glen Beck on relative merits.   That’s good enough for booman to continue supporting the president.  Of course, that is looking through an objective that can only resolve issues at the cellular level and range of center-right to right wing nut: one neuron is darkly stained with cresyl-crazy, whereas the one next to it took up less stain.  One would need to zoom out with a much broader, less powerful lens to know whether these neurons were in the left or right hemisphere of the brain, to know which half of the brain stained most heavily for crazy overall.

For example, the very unstable situation in the Middle East is only likely to worsen over time, which was empirically predictable many decades ago, and predictable in principle from any arbitrarily selected moment in history after Malthus.  Either prediction suffices to suggest that there is nothing “routine” about “managing” the Middle East, and demands very different policies to manage the transcendent problems, in any kind of adult-like, proactive fashion.    In booman’s usage, “child’s play” is a relativistic term: Obama is like a cognitive nine-year-old to Boehner’s five-year-old.   If one can call continuing decades of failed right wing policy for all the wrong reasons “statesman-like,” then maybe the right wing is correct in trashing the entire idea of governance.

Glen Ford rightly rips progressives supporting Obama’s center-right/right wing grand unification, and John Caruso presses him a tick further, but neither goes nearly far enough in their relatively tepid denunciations of statesmen and their supporters promulgating more right wing, empirically-failed solutions.

I’ll admit that on the concurrent schedules of permanent global economic collapse, peak oil, climate change, and the sixth great extinction event, it is difficult to imagine what a real statesperson might look like, but I doubt it’s the kind of person with a hankering for further high stakes military and financial gambling,  who pines away for the support of the haves over the have-nots, and is therefore eager to take a blowtorch to governmental regulation, including safeguards against inequality and financial and ecological catastrophe, and who has proven utterly incapable of executing accountability, all in the name of personal or short-term gains.

Rand Paul: Smarter Than You Think..

I’ve always liked Mavericks.

No, not the kind of phony, self-appointed, faux “mavericks” like:   John McCain, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, etc, who are really nothing more than pro-War, pro-Corporatist, pro-Bankster, pro-NAFTA…..status-quo shills in disguise.

But the original thinkers, the creative minds….be it:   Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, etc. Those rare voices that aren’t afraid to tear down the Sacred Cows of U.S. Corruption and speak truth to power.  My how they stick out a mile away when they get the rare chance to debate on TV.  The truth is sometimes, well … shocking.

Well along comes freshman Senator Rand Paul, and he has already broken all the rules and published this thoughtful, and very substantive policy proposal in the Wall Street Journal.  Key Excerpts:

A Modest $500 Billion Proposal

By Rand Paul

My spending cuts would keep 85% of government funding and not touch Social Security or Medicare.

The first thing to note here is the seriousness of the proposal.  This is:

Not a $35 Billion dollar cut…Not a $50 Billion dollar cut…Not a $75 Billion dollar cut … but a $500 Billion dollar cut.  

The second and most remarkable point here is that Rand Paul has the compassion, unlike Barack Obama and his catfood for Seniors Alan Simpson run “Deficit Commission”, to leave untouched Social Security and Medicare — while focusing on the big ticket Sacred Cows that all Republicans and most all Democrats dare not speak ill of.

A $500 Billion dollar cut with Social Security and Medicare untouched!  

I’m listening…

This alone puts Barack Obama’s own “deficit cutting” efforts as both 1) pathetic in significance, and 2) on the wrong moral side of the equation by comparision.

So where does Rand Paul want to cut?  

Let us continue…..Rand?

One of Commerce Department’s main functions is delivering corporate welfare to American firms that can compete without it. My proposal would scale back the Commerce Department’s spending by 54%, and eliminate corporate welfare.

My proposal would also cut wasteful spending in the Defense Department. Since 2001, our annual defense budget has increased nearly 120%. Even subtracting the costs of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, spending is up 67%. These levels of spending are unjustifiable and unsustainable.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates understands this and has called for spending cuts, saying “We must come to realize that not every defense program is necessary, not every defense dollar is sacred or well-spent, and more of everything is simply not sustainable.”

Sadly, the “Democrat” in power, Barack Obama, would never agree to cutting these Sacred Cows of government waste enumerated by Rand Paul to this degree, and instead place the focus on putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block. So who’s really on the side of the American public here?

Social Security: Where’s Our Tahrir Square?

We have seen some amazing days in Egypt, and it’s provided a better lesson than anyone could have ever wanted for how taking action, against long odds, can really get something done.

A secret police mechanism has been pushed aside, an Army has chosen not to attack The People, and a President who was backed by the “full faith and credit” of the US Government on Friday was being told by that same US Government on Tuesday that it’s time to go.

The People, in fact, spoke so loudly that Mr. Mubarak has informed Egyptians that he’s going to “pursue corruption”, which, if taken literally, could eventually look like a puppy chasing its own tail.

The People, however, are unhappy with his answer, and they’re speaking even louder yet…even to the point of being willing to take beatings, gunfire, and, believe it or not…camel charges…to make their voices heard.

And that got me to thinking about Social Security.

You know, we are facing the potential for a great big Social Security fight for pretty much the entire term of the 112th Congress-and it seems to me that a series of great big “Cairo-style” marches might be the way to make our voices heard, so that this Congress understands that great big benefit cuts are something that we will not tolerate.

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