Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry and Happy To All

Just wanted to wish a Merry Christmas to all the folks who have taken the time to drop by our little blog. I'm sure I speak for SJ as well when I say that we appreciate you all taking the time to read our sometimes rambling (in my case) and sometimes intelligent (in SJ's case) posts. Hopefully you will all have a happy and safe holiday season.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Affirmative Action

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via WikipediaIn the past two weeks this President, whom so many within his own party have chosen to label a weakling, or gutless or ineffective or worse than Bush,  has guaranteed an extension in unemployment benefits, extended the tax cut to the middle class for two years, signed the most comprehensive overhaul of food inspection in more than a generation, got the START treaty through Congress, got the aid for 9/11 first responders approved and this afternoon put his signature on a bill to end DADT. And that is all I have to say about that.
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Take the Money and Run

I have disagreed with the President on many occasions and I continue to be disappointed by some of his decisions. I am all for standing on principle as an outsider. However I also realize that politics is a different game. Politics is a game of give and take. From what I can see, the President is playing this game to the best of his abilities. He has limited support from his own party (the left and right both attack his policies), he has absolutely no support from the Republicans and very little support from the coalition that elected him.

All I hear from the progressives at this point is how the president isn't living up to the legacy of FDR. Well FDR had a chance to put health care for all in place and he bargained it away. He got nothing( I'm assuming those on the left would have been happy to do away with social security as well because getting only that would have been seen as a "compromise"). . Ted Kennedy had a chance to champion Jimmy Carter's deal for health care for all working Americans and he decided to go for it all we ended up with nothing. Kennedy did it because he wanted to run for President and didn't want to rubber stamp the Carter agenda. No one talks about that either. (But according to the left, that decision should be applauded because he stood on principle. Never mind the fact that he later in life said it was the biggest mistake he ever made in his political life.)

I have no idea what the standard is for this President. If he had stood on principle in the health care debate (meaning single payer), we would now have nothing. If he would have stood on principle during the fight for financial reform, we would have nothing. This president doesn't need to grow a set, he has a set. He has decided to set a course of attainable progress. It doesn't help him with the left (who want some progressive superman to take down the Republicans without so much as a nod to the procedural rules of Congress that wouldn't allow such a thing), the right continues to call the President a socialist, a communist, a traitor, a Muslim terrorist, etc. How much bravery do you think it takes for someone to act even though they know it will curry no favor with either supporters or detractors?

Frankly I'm of the mind that the President should just finish out his term and go on to become extremely rich as the foremost citizen of the world. Because even if those in the US don't appreciate him, he is without a doubt the most admired leader in the world today. If the US doesn't want him, then I guess we don't deserve him. I'm not defending his decisions. I've been just as disappointed in some of them as some of his most vocal critics have been. But I do understand political reality. And after the next election, when those on the left will be, I assume based on their current rhetoric, celebrating the end of the term of the great appeaser, we'll all get a dose of political reality, Republican style. And that, my friends, is all I have to say about that.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

The Zero Sum Game.

This post started off as a response and affirmation of the sentiments in the previous post by MyCue23, but it dragged on too long in the comments box and got cut off, probably because I’ve been holding my tongue/thoughts for too long and now there’s too much to say with any concision…

I ‘ve thought long and hard about whether to keep writing on politics because once again the American Left, the only alternative for sane people in the United States living outside of the community of the top 1% of wealth holders, are fighting with themselves again.

I’ve seen it happen over and over again, the Left, Progressives, Liberals, Pro Union workers, Socialists argue with each other, and the Right unifies in response to the turmoil. You don’t hear anyone on the Right saying, “We didn’t defeat healthcare reform passage, we need a ‘real’ Republican running the Party.” No. They patted themselves on the back for aborting the Single Payer Option and concentrated on what to sabotage next like Financial Reform.

Democrats, Progressives and Liberals who take an “all or nothing” approach to legislative progress for our society’s evolution, are only working toward the goals of their intended adversary: The Establishment and their self-approved Status Quo.

I’ve said it before: I’m not happy.

But I’m not willing to cede the reigns back to the craven, thieving enemies of this Republic, who rob every working man, woman and innocent child daily, just because we haven’t gotten as far as we wanted to go by last Wednesday. I’m certainly not going to handover control by hanging my hopes on some unnamed, principled, but ineffective articulator of my hopes who can’t get elected, and has no hope of nudging a swing state or hurdling any of the concrete barriers that destroy candidates in presidential races. This as yet unnamed, and somewhat imaginary ‘real’ Progressive (Liberal, Demorcat et al.) that my disenchanted fellow travelers on the Left are proposing is the respective gambit that the Republicans are trying to avoid on their very own side of the fence: Sarah Palin. Palin might be what their people want, but they know those people aren’t looking squarely at election night, and the way Palin would energize every person with an IQ higher than 90 to vote against her is the reason they openly express their opposition to her candidacy and influence.
It doesn’t feel particularly good to argue practicality, -ever. Especially when the future is on the line, and in politics it always is. But I’m arguing for it here at the risk of being called a sell out by my contemporaries. I’m taking the long view, further down the field, possibly as far down the line as the end of my life. I’ll stand with this President and his administration, and all the Democrats in office in the House and the Senate (even somebody I think has proven themselves to have been bought outright by lobbyists like Sen. Max Baucus), just as I criticize them for not going far enough, or not being tough enough. I remain a supporter of Democrats because resetting the clock and the score on Healthcare Reform (limited as it is), Financial Reform (weak as it is) is exactly what the Establishment’s political arm: the GOP and the Conservative base have always wanted.

Rolling back what little has been done is exactly what the GOP will do if they get into power. Taking everything back to a starting point, because you didn’t reach your goal in the time you wanted -- in the exact way that you wanted, still means you are further away from those goals, only with exhausted resources. You are back to the starting line as if nothing ever happened. The Obama Administration and the current crop of Democrats in office the last few years have moved the ball forward: on the environment; on consumer issues; on financial reform; on healthcare; on enforcing the Constitution. E.g. once you have passed a law making an activity, like rescission, or denial of covergae based upon pre-existing medical conditions illegal you can move forward and try to do other, harder things, like getting medical coverage for all college students, or lowering the Medicare entry point to age 50; or eventually a Single Payer Option, -unless...
unless you have to go back and fight issues like rescission all over again, -every single time-, every 20 years or so, as has been done since President Truman’s initial efforts to nationalize the healthcare industry (They defeated him by calling him a Socialist.)

Proffering a “real” Progressive as a presidential candidate, (which really is code for someone who is functionally, inflexibly uncompromising on principles central to 20th century Progressivism,) is unrealistic in proposed inception and possible practice in a country where Senator Russ Feingold was defeated by a Tea Party (Read rebranded Republican) candidate who publicly and unashamedly calls the assertion that climate change is a man-made problem, "crazy."

The best that could be done, somehow happened in 2008. Two men, who on paper scare the shit out of the duped reactionary masses and their wealthy and powerful masters made their way into the White House on the backs of a voting block that coagulated and solidified long enough to overturn the costly (and some will maintain illegitimate) election outcomes of 2004 and 2000.

As I write this, few are taking up FDR’s challenge to Labor leaders after his election in 1932: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." I don’t have a single friend who complains about this administration calling their Representatives or their Senators on any issues. They voted, and they figured that their job is done; ignoring the fact that it’s the house and the legislature that write and enact bills into laws, the White House ultimately only has a direct power to say “no” and propose Supreme Court judges. To those who say there is no difference between what this administration has done, and what Republicans would have done in their place for the last two years, I say: Marshal your imagination to consider what the Supreme Court would look like for a different perspective. I ask that all of us think of Healthcare Reform and Financial Reform and whether they would have come up even, solely, simply, as proposed subjects for theoretical discussion under a Republican administration. -I doubt they would have even gotten a mention from the podium judging from the last 8 years of a Republican White House. But in our living reality, -they were proposed, and heavily promoted by this White House, and the overwhelming majority of the people who voted President Obama and Vice President Biden into office, immediately forgot they had a Senate and House of Representatives to bring into line if they wanted to get anything done, ever. That’s never going to change no matter who gets into office. Having the President you supported elected is never enough, he needs direction, he needs post election support. Replacing a Moderate, Liberal or Progressive President every cycle simply forestalls the ongoing problems and sustains the dysfunction between the Executive branch and the Legislative branch in our government; a dysfunction that benefits the Establishment, the wealthy, the powerful.

It’s not too late too late to make them do it. …Unless we want to just erase all this meagre progress and start over from scratch, just like the GOP keeps asking everybody to do.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010


The so called "progressives" seemed to have decided that the President deserves to have a primary challenger in 2012. His capitulation on the Bush tax cuts was seen as the final straw. I personally think that the President made a mistake in negotiating as if he were at a disadvantage when clearly he had the support of a majority of Americans. He also went back on one of his biggest promises of his Presidential campaign. Those are reasons to be angry with the President, but to call for a primary challenge is political suicide. 

The last sitting President to face a primary challenge was Jimmy Carter and before that it was LBJ. In both instances the fissures in the Democratic party led to narrow victories by the Republicans which was then followed by overwhelming electoral victories in the following Presidential election. This situation is unique however. In this case, the first African American to ever be elected to the office would be the one facing a challenge from within his own party. Intra-party fights are incredibly messy affairs and this one would be even more divisive than the anti-war effort that caused LBJ to quit the race before he was even officially a candidate. 
The is no doubt that African Americans are the most loyal of the parts that make up the democratic party base. In the last election the percentage of black Americans who voted for President Obama topped 90%. There is no other group that can be counted on to vote democratic as consistently as blacks. Now this group, that has been so loyal to the party, finally and almost unbelievably got to vote for someone who looks like they do. They came out in record numbers and enthusiastically cast their vote for Barack Obama. Some felt as if they had lived to see a miracle. Some, who had lived through the hell that was Jim Crow, cried at just the thought of being able to cast their vote for a black presidential candidate. Some were so filled with pride that they were almost overwhelmed by the opportunity to cast their vote. 

Now less than two years into his presidency, those same people are being told by the progressives that this President, their President, is unfit to lead the party. They are being told that even though he has faced unprecedented opposition from the Republicans, an onslaught of negative press from the right , and questions about his religion and place of birth from his first day in office, he has failed to live up to the legacy of FDR. who had historically large majorities in the house and senate to work with They are being told that even though his own party controlled both houses of Congress, and were too weak to pass a stronger version of health care reform, that ultimately it is his fault. They are being told that despite the fact that the coalition that elected him quickly became as quiet as a church mouse that it was his fault that those on the right were overwhelming the political conversation. They are being told that even though his term is less than 1/2 over, there is nothing that he can do to salvage it. They are being told that this President, their President, is being held to a standard that it would be impossible for anyone to live up to. 

I would ask each and every person who thinks of themselves as a progressive and who thinks that the President should face a challenger in the primaries and indeed should be replaced at the top of the ticket, what they think will happen to those most loyal of democratic voters when they see this President, their President, attacked openly by the party that they have given so much of their political energy to? Who do you think they will choose? What side do you think they will choose to be on? Do you think that a group of people who have been historically abused, neglected and subjugated will suddenly decide to turn against one of their own? 

The truth of the matter is that if the progressives really want Obama out as the standard bearer for the democratic party in the next election, they can probably make it happen. As we know, it is only the most highly motivated who vote in primaries. If the progressives were to get behind one candidate, they stand a good chance of making a primary challenger into a serious threat to the President. And if the President were to lose to a primary challenger, I will ask again, what would happen to the most loyal and consistent of democratic voters? How do you think their reaction would impact senate races and congressional races? I'm not saying that African Americans would turn to the Republican party, but if this President, their President, was somehow removed from the ticket for 2012, the repercussions would be far reaching indeed and would reverberate for years to come.  The Republicans would hold an unassailable majority in the house and senate. The Supreme court would be lost for the next 30 years. The Republican agenda would become the only agenda. That is what we face if this insanity of a primary challenger is carried out.

Are the progressives willing to put this bullet into the head of the democratic party for a generation? You bet your sweet ass they are. Because what is better than fighting the good fight? What is better than going down in flames? What is better than being the angry young man beating your head against the wall? What is better than winning a battle that you know in the long run will lose you the war? After all, it's all about the fight. 

This President is far from perfect. In fact there are many, many decisions of this administration that I disagree with. However disagreeing with the President and actively seeking his dismissal are completely distinct activities. I can hope that those on the left will come to their senses in time to mount a unified effort to reelect President Obama, but somehow I think that the progressives would rather win a battle, than fight a war. In the euphoria after Barack Obama was elected there were those pundits who were proclaiming the end of the Republicans as a national party. Less than two years later we can see how wrong they were. However, if the progressives chose to go down this road, they will condemn the Democrats to a permanent place on the sideline of national political debate. I can assure that if Black Americans see this President, their President, being attacked, belittled and battered by the party that they have given so much to, they will consider it a personal attack and the democratic party will never be the same again.
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