I’m a big fan of Mr. Klein’s work, but I don’t find his thesis persuasive in this case. Instead, I’d suggest that the evidence points toward a considerably less exciting conclusion. Rather than being an early 1990s moderate Republican, Mr. Obama is a prototypical, early 2010s Democrat. And although a 2010s Democrat shares more in common with a 1990s Republican than with the Republicans of today, they are still far from alike.Oh yes they are. But we already knew that, just as we're all pretty familiar with the critiques of Klein's thesis, like the legislative examples he chose as comparisons:
"Show me your papers!" Major Blackard, then just 19 years old, dug into his trousers in search of his wallet. He padded his jacket, but could not find his billfold. "Sir, I done left my wallet..." Blackard said. Before he could finish his sentence, the young man was posted against the brick wall, cuffed and taken to the St. Louis city jail. Unable to prove his identity, he would spend the next 21 days in a cramped, musty cell. That's where his older brother Matt found him, beaten and bloodied. Matt returned with Major's employer later that day, wallet and identification card in hand, to post bond. The year was 1899. Major Blackard was my great, great grandfather.Ms. Taylor also appeared in the Rachel Maddow show last night to share what I have been feeling all day long yesterday but she tells it so well, I listened and listened in sadness about my America and only to conclude that we indeed hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are still not created equal.
Transcript... Goldie-->> the real crime was that major blackard was a man of color living in america in 1899. this morning when i initially got, you notification that the president was having to present his long form birth certificate and passing it out by staffers it recalled a really ugly time in history for me. it recalled a time when men of color, when black men specifically weren't allowed on the street without identification. and here we are with a president of these united states duly elected by the people of this america. he's being asked to produce his papers. and not just his birth certificate. they've gone on to ask for his college transcripts. never in our 235-year history have we ever asked a president to prove that he was born on this american soil.
You know President Obama is about to do something right when Mitch McConnell is screaming bloody murder, and you know he's about to do something courageous when whiners on the Professional Left are eerily silent about it. There is a draft executive order under consideration by President Obama that will force federal contractors (or anyone seeking a federal contract) to disclose their political donations. Think of it as the Sunshine Act for federal contractors.
The president is responding to the 2010 political cycle, when groups allegedly independent of candidate campaigns spent $300 billion in attempts to influence the outcome of federal elections. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, almost 50 percent of that total was spent by organizations which did not disclose their donors, up from 25 percent spent by entities with no disclosure in 2008.The Sunlight Foundation - an organization that advocates for transparency in government and campaigns - has obtained a leaked copy of the order. So what does the draft executive order look like, in summary?
The centerpiece of the draft order, which requires disclosure of a variety of contributions that are already disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, is its requirement that any organization bidding on a federal contract disclose contributions made by the organization, its subsidiaries, and its directors to any third party group intending on using that money for independent expenditures or electioneering communications.
The Obama administration has been working hard to keep Boeing's incompetent millionaire management and the Republicans from destroying one of our crown jewel technology companies. After making big sales for Boeing in India (remember that trip by the President that was supposedly such a waste of money?) and awarding the company a huge $35billion defense contract that the Bush administration and Republican Senator Richard Shelby wanted to give to European Union, the Obama administration's National Labor Relations Board has just ordered Boeing management to stop delaying production of the new 787 jet and to put a production line in its Washington State factories. The plane is years late and Boeing's customers who pre-ordered are furious. You might think that Boeing management would want to get the 787 to market and make some sales as soon as possible. But Boeing CEO W. James McNerney who paid himself $14million dollars last year seems more interested in getting rid of $60K/year skilled workers, the most highly skilled and valuable manufacturing workers in the world, than in dull stuff like making and selling airplanes.
Pragmatists are often berated by political ideologues of all stripes as weak, unprincipled, unwilling to fight and compromisers - basically, as people who decide that a fight is lost before it even begins. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, the strength of pragmatism is the reason anything at all gets accomplished - whether you are talking about business, government, or personal relationships. To understand why, we must first stop letting extremists define pragmatism. Let's see what it really means, in terms of American philosophy.
Merriam-Webster defines pragmatism in this way:
: a practical approach to problems and affairsThis is what pragmatists are all about. Practical solutions, and, at the very core, action. We don't simply theorize, we act. For liberal pragmatists, it means that our thoughts and our liberal-progressive principles inspire us to act to move our country forward from the status quo. We are guided by both our principles and a practical, grounded assessment of the current situation. In political situations, that means that we leave behind our colored glasses and assess legislative reality, assess the possibilities and act to make progress happen - even if it doesn't get us all the way there right away.
: an American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief.
I have been writing pretty intensively about the dismissal of the Benton Harbor City Commission by the Emergency Financial Manager, Joe Harris. Like many of you, I am incensed at this draconian step being taken, a disenfranchisement of the residents of Benton Harbor and an abridgement of what I think most of us understand as democracy. Taxation without representation is what led to the American Revolution and yet, here, today, in my state, we have an entire city that is now taxed without being represented by its elected officials, thanks to the actions of a Republican Congress and a Republican Governor, Rick Snyder.
But, let's face it, Benton Harbor is in deep trouble and has been for a long time. It's the poorest city in Michigan. Upwards of 40% of its population is below the poverty line. Their city officials are failing them miserably with waste and poor management and very bad decisions. Their Finance department didn't have a single accountant in it, they had exorbitant bank fees due to shoddy bookkeeping and they haven't funded their city pension program in five years.
And Benton Harbor didn't get this way recently. It's been in real trouble for decades. While it's neighbor, St. Joseph, has flourished and prospered, Benton Harbor has been in a death spiral for a very long time. It is a city that has been failed by its leaders, by its state and by both Democrats and Republicans for far too long.
So, something simply must be done. It's a time for draconian measures.
But I refuse to believe that we must relinquish our values as Americans and abandon democracy to get there.
Last Friday night, Rachel Maddow hit the nail on the head.
I remember that this blog got its first real push when I took on Friend of Fox Jane Hamsher on her health reform propaganda back in 2009. Today, Jon Walker of Hamsher's Firedoglake (the Left arm of Teabagger Central) has an article on health reform - namely telling everyone what a bad idea health insurance exchanges are. He quotes from a Paul Krugman blog post that is not even clearly targeted at health insurance exchanges as designed in the health reform law to make his case, and goes after Ezra Klein for promoting regulations of the exchanges while also whining that there aren't enough regulations in the health reform law.
Doesn't make much sense? It's not supposed to. Let's see Walker's example of "independent journalism:
Health insurance is extremely complex and people just don’t have the knowledge about how an insurance policy works and the statistical likelihood of developing medical problems to know what is the best deal for them.This is neither independent nor journalism. Obviously, Walker has not read the health care law, or just doesn't understand it very well. He thinks that an unregulated market is the same as a regulated one (which is why he compares the exchanges under this law to your employer's bargaining power with insurers). Or, he's being an intentional propagandist. This is my personal suspicion. Yes, it's a complicated process to figure out what kind of services you will need and pick insurance for just that. If that were the case in the health insurance exchanges even after health reform, Walker would have a point. But with health reform, Walker has built a house of cards, fairly easy to deconstruct.
I was working on a different article today, but this news seems important. Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli - the famed idiot who instructed public universities in Viriginia that they cannot enact or enforce anti-discrimination policies concerning gay students, and adopted the Confederate flag for his "personal" seal - had asked that the Supreme Court expedite Constitutional challenges to health reform and skip over the lower courts. Cucinnelli, you might also remember, was the first AG to file suit against health reform - on the day President Obama signed it into law. Today, the Supreme Court said, umm, no.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused Monday to bypass the lower courts and take up an immediate challenge to the constitutionality of the national healthcare reform law and its requirement that all those who can afford it have medical insurance by 2014.Now, even though this is simply the Court refusing to hear the case before it has a chance to work through the lower courts, this is an important victory for both health reform advocates and President Obama. First and foremost, it will let health reform be implemented unimpeded while it works through the court process. As time goes by, more and more of it are implemented and more and more benefits become part of everyday life, which, once instituted, people will not want to give up. Among the benefits already in place:
Since Barack Obama began to find success in the Democratic primaries of 2008 he and his supporters have attracted virulent attacks from the professional left of liberal commentariat, lobbyists, pundits, think tankers, and academics. The underlying basis for the attacks is class - the class of professional liberals/leftists, cut off from any popular movement, derives its authority, prestige, and income from its status as the official interpreter and judge of "leftism" or liberalism. That's why they get writing assignments, TV invitations, grants, jobs in DC or NY writing position papers for liberal institutions. The term "professional left" describes a group of people who generate liberal/leftist opinion as their profession (these are not organizers). But while the professional right is disciplined and assiduous in supporting the Republican Party, the professional left is disciplined and assiduous in attacking the Democrats especially the Obama Democrats. There are three main reasons:
- Professional rightists work under tight corporate management at Koch brothers think tanks, Murdoch or corporate media, billionaire endowed chairs- they know that they work for the corporate elite and any dissent will rapidly lead to an end to the fat contract at AEI or speaking invitations at the Federalist Society meetings or appearances on TV. The professional left depends on the same right leaning corporate media - plus some philanthropists and universities who don't care about the Democratic Party. Nobody is going to get on TV by discussing the work Hilda Solis is doing for poor workers but they will get on TV for agreeing with Robert Reich that the administration is clueless. David Sirota, Ed Schulz, Jane Hamsher, Glenn Greenwald and the like have found attacking Obama to be a passport to the Green Room - as have Tavis Smiley and Cornell West and a number of other people who could not get on TV without taking a hostage before they learned to attack the President.
- The pragmatic non-ideological liberalism of the Administration and its emphasis on direct grass roots organizing threatens the core business model of the whole group. If your professional status is based on your academic papers on race and class in America and the Administration is basically declaring your body of work to be irrelevant ideological hand-waving you might get as angry as Princeton Professor Sean Wilentz whose furious (and creepy) indignation surfaced during the primaries or Princeton Professor Cornell West who complained that the President "talked to me like I was a Cub Scout, and he was a pack master, you know what I mean?" On the other hand, right wing "intellectuals" understand that they are employees and that nobody serious takes their work product as anything but propaganda. The Cato institute can publish 100 million articles denouncing corporate subsidies and Exxon management and the Republican Caucus will applaud and hand out merit badges, cookies, and milk, while ignoring them entirely and everybody plays along. The professional left, desperately competing for a much smaller number of slots at universities and a much smaller pie is constrained to take itself more seriously.
- Finally, the natural political affiliation of American professional intellectuals of any stripe is (American) libertarianism because it reflects their class interests. Libertarianism is socially liberal (at least for people with money in metropolitan districts), individualistic and scornful of the solidarity ethos of the labor/civil-rights movement, status conscious, obsessed with wording and process and profoundly indifferent to the economic interests of the larger working class. People don't mechanically follow political theories just because those correspond to the interests of their own profession but they tend that way. That's why "progressive" Glenn Greenwald extols the candidacy of Republican child labor champion Gary Johnson. Johnson is a classical libertarian - as the joke goes, a Republican who wants to smoke pot. Greenwald's business partner and ally Jane Hamsher worked with right wing libertarian Grover Norquist to attack the Obama White House. And Professional Left favorite Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone often sounds the same alarms about the conspiracy at the Federal Reserve that one would otherwise associate with the Ron Paul Republicans.
I wonder how many people in Wisconsin's first congressional district know that Paul Ryan is a follower of Ayn Rand who didn't believe in morality or duty or faith or any principles beyond egoism and selfishness.
"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."Do the voters in Kenosha know what Ayn Rand said about charity?
"My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty."She even wrote a book called "The Virtues of Selfishness". Do voters in Janesville Wisconsin know what Ms. Rand said about faith?
Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason.Do people in Racine worship Ayn Rand's God?
And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: IIs that what Paul Ryan means when he writes on his campaign web site?
In many aspects of our society, morality has become relative, ethical behavior is now a mere technicality, and God has been pushed from the public realm with a fervor previously inconceivable.Does he mean people are not selfish enough? That's the Randian translation of what he wrote.
A reader recently emailed me with concerns about this propaganda email piece going around mostly in the right wing world but also apparently - and probably not surprisingly - infiltrating people on the Left. It's a chart that purports to show how much supposedly worse off we are now than when Obama took office in January of 2009.
OMG! How horrible terrible no good very bad Obama! Actually, it's just flat stupid. But it's effective. Because (a) the items listed are cherry picked for you, and (b) you only see two numbers - January 2009 and "now" - instead of seeing any trendlines, analyzing anything, or looking at the economy as a whole with other numbers. There are lies, damned lies and [misused] statistics.
President Obama's National Labor Relations Board has shocked the business world by ruling that Boeing illegally moved production from Washington State to punish the labor unions.
The US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) says it will seek an order to require Boeing to place the second 787 production line in Washington state, in response to charges filed by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) 17 months after Boeing selected North Charleston, South Carolina to host the site. FlightGlobal.comNo surprise that the open right wing plus its media and corporate press is up in arms. And what about the true progressives? FDL? Not a peep. DailyFox? No coverage. What is concerning the true progressives? Well it might be Gary Johnson, pro-pot, right wing ex governor of New Mexico. We learn that Johnson is considered positively by High Priest of True Progressivism Glenn Greenwald.
One of his hopes for 2012 is that candidates will emerge to take on the red and the blue teams — he is keeping an eye on Gary Johnson, a two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, who is pro-gay and antiwar, and who could run with a Democrat like former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold. He would also be happy to see a billionaire run without the help of either party, to “disrupt the two-party stranglehold.”I thought we were supposed to be against bipartisanship. Oh it is so confusing. Johnson, by the way is one of the maverick Republicans who supports private for-profit prisons, Social security privatization, and the destruction of Medicare Medicaid -plus he's against child labor laws. A breath of fresh air!
Based on some tips from folks who have contacted me about my blogging the Big Government TakeoverTM of Benton Harbor by Rick Snyder's Emergency Financial Manager, Joseph Harris, I've been doing some digging into the development known as Harbor Shores. I have found an amazingly tangled web that involves a number of very powerful, very wealthy men.
In the process of developing the Harbor Shores Golf Course/McMansion residential complex which opened last summer, part of a park in Benton Harbor called the Jean Klock park was leased to the developers. The process by which that happened appears to have been very shady.
[I]n 2003 the entire park was threatened by a luxury housing development called Grand Boulevard Renaissance. Once again nearby residents banded together to prevent the city from actually selling part of the park. Six people filed a lawsuit claiming that such a sale would violate the terms of the Klock deed. The resultant settlement agreement was memorialized in a Consent Judgment stipulating that:There are currently two lawsuits still pending.
"The Court permanently enjoins the City from using any portion of the property depicted as Jean Klock Park in Exhibit to this Consent Judgment for any purpose other than bathing beach, park purposes or other public purposes related to bathing beach or park use except for recreational vehicle park campsites provided however that the City shall for all time be authorized and empowered to operate its water treatment facility located at the south end of the park including but not limited to capital improvements and expansion. The restrictions in this paragraph shall run with the land and shall be binding upon the City and its successors."
Unbeknownst to the plaintiff group at the time, the city of Benton Harbor was represented by an attorney who simultaneously was representing a constituent member of the Harbor Shores development consortium, then named Edgewater-River Run. This is significant because the city and the Harbor Shores developer entered into the subsequent contract, executed in 2006 and again in 2008, allowing the Harbor Shores developer to lease Jean Klock Park acreage for 35 years with 2 automatic renewals, or allowing the developer quiet enjoyment of the land for up to 105 years.
There are some folks who really benefited personally from the development of Harbor Shores. One of them is Congressman Fred Upton, grandson of Whirlpool founder Frederick Upton.
This is the fourth in an ongoing series of blogs I have written regarding the takeover of the government of Benton Harbor, Michigan by Governor Rick Snyder's Emergency Financial Manager, Joseph Harris. The first is HERE, the second is here HERE and the third is HERE. Deaniac has encouraged me to post them here so I hope that you will enjoy them. I have more to post, including a rather important one tomorrow, so stay tuned.
Last night on her show, Rachel Maddow connected some very important dots in the situation that led up to the Big Government TakeoverTM of Benton Harbor, Michigan by Joseph Harris, aka "The Czar of Benton Harbor".
But she didn't connect ALL of them.
So apparently, even Jan Headless-Bodies Brewer has some crazy lines she won't cross. She has vetoed the Arizona birther bill (which, somehow, got passed the state legislature there) - and also another bill allowing guns on college campuses. Ouch.
Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer on Monday vetoed two controversial bills, one mandating proof of U.S. citizenship to run for president, the other allowing guns on college campuses, in a clear setback for conservatives who control the state legislature.The birther bill did not just require a birth certificate to be placed on the ballot. Apparently you also need baptismal or circumcision certificate. I don't even know what to say to that. But here's what Brewer said:
The so-called "birther bill," would have made Arizona the first state in the nation to require presidential candidates prove U.S. citizenship by providing a long form birth certificate, and other forms of proof including baptismal or circumcision certificates, to be placed on the state ballot.When Jan Brewer calls out the Right for being batshit insane, Houston, they've got a problem. She also did not think guns on college campuses was a really dandy idea - yet. Because she thinks the bill is badly written. So come up with a better written bill to allow guns on campuses, and it will be just great.
"I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for president of the greatest and most powerful nation on earth to submit their 'early baptism or circumcision certificates' ... This is a bridge too far," she said..
Did you hear? Obama issued a signing statement! On the budget compromise bill! Everybody freak out!!!
That was the reaction by the professional freakout brigade on both the Right and the reactionary ideological Left on the President's signing statement on HR 1473, more commonly known as the 2011 budget compromise. So what did he write in this statement that has all these pundits' panties in a bunch? You see, the Republicans included in the budget deal (text of full legislation) the de-funding of certain specific positions within the president's staff - namely, the following positions (the so-called "czars"):
(1) Director, White House Office of Health Reform.In reply to this specific part, the President's signing statement reads as follows:
(2) Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. H. R. 1473—162
(3) Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy.
(4) White House Director of Urban Affairs.
So, sometimes, people just cannot accept the truth. Even if it's in metaphorical form. That's what happened in Sunday's post by rootless. The funny part was, someone rootless did not target either by name or photos in his post took it upon himself to spread the message on teh Twitter and send his minions over here. He is none other than the first class darling of the purity Left, Glenn Greenwald. You see, he thought the post by rootless was "creepy." Why? No need to explain. It took on the attitude of those (such as Greenwald) who make a career out of bashing Obama while they pretend to some from grand left principle, that's "creepy" enough for them.
Actually, being called "creepy" by Greenwald is kind of a badge of honor. It's like being called "unpatriotic" by Donald Rumsfeld, or "anti-science" by creationists or "go fuck yourself" by Dick Cheney. And in another way, it's good to know that we are having an impact - even the crown jewels of the whiny, purity Left are paying attention to us. In that vein, I wanted to immortalize Greenwald's original tweet. But I can no longer find it. Apparently, he deleted it. But, he didn't (yet) delete the retweet of his tweet that he again retweeted (phew, what a mouthful!):
Editor's note: ProgressiveTechie is personal friend of mine as well as a new writer when it comes to the political world. As you can probably guess from his handle, he's a professional in the world of technology and programming. He's been a long time reader of TPV, and like us, he goes after evidence and facts. I hope you enjoy his writing! - Deaniac83
The Dems seem to be on a roll this past week. First, there was Rep. Charles Schumer (D-MD) calling out Gov. Scott Walker on his shenanigans regarding the public employees' bargaining rights being essential to balancing the WI state budget. Then, there was the "speechless" statement by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) which bluntly asked the GOP Reps where their "top priority" jobs bills are after 100 days in session. On Friday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) tore the Paul Ryan budget a new one:
From the story of Joseph. Just thinking about the topic of popularity and jealousy.
Labels: 8:20 Am
Last Friday, the Obama Administration finally cut a deal with the Republican House that averted the shut down of the Government while the Republicans were boasting that the spending deal provided the biggest budget cuts in history to only find out how they have been outsmarted by the Administration and lo and behold according to the CBO, the budget deal actually will cut spending by only $352 Million this year. But, some who always get caught by surprise after President Obama makes his decisions (which I don't understand why people are surprised) nonetheless said, ...the President is the world's worst negotiator and progressives must stand up to the president. ...President Obama is the most dangerous President in the history of our party. ...the President is missing in action and questioned where "this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular" is? Side note: Could it be that he is working with the terrorists to blow America? Good grief/shrug. They said, the President "has destroyed the hopes of millions, and shifted power and wealth in the direction of those who are fueled by hatred and anger" and continues to ignore "me" when I write diary after diary telling you (Mr. President) what you should be doing. How dare you ignore me? Glen Greenwald a few days ago said,
Obama agreed to billions of dollars in cuts that will impose the greatest burden on the poorest Americans. And now, virtually everyone in Washington believes, the President is about to embark on a path that will ultimately lead to some type of reductions in Social Security, Medicare and/or Medicaid benefits under the banner of "reform.Well, they went on and on and on just throwing jabs that mis-characterizes the President and his administration in the worst possible light.
As you probably know, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently signed legislation passed by the Republican-dominated House and Senate that gives State-appointed Emergency Financial Managers (EFMs) historically broad and sweeping powers. These new powers allow the EFM to cancel or modify contracts (including with unions) and even to fire the municipality's government.
Today, for the first time, an EFM did just that. According to a press release from the Michigan AFL-CIO, Joseph L. Harris, EFM for Benton Harbor, Michigan issued "an order prohibiting all action by all city boards, commissions, authorities and other entities, except as authorized by the emergency manager."
Here is the press release in total:
There is no registration fee for the event, but whatever money is raised goes to the Y's Rape Crisis Center and other assault prevention services. In honor of that, I am announcing today that all donations to The People's View (via the donate button on the right) from now until April 27 noon Pacific Time (the walk is at 5 pm Pacific) will go to this event. I will cut a check to the YWCA for the event on behalf of the TPV community, along with a letter telling them that it came from this community. I'm starting it with $50 from myself.
After the walk, I'll report the amount raised and post some pictures of the event - maybe even one of myself! Last year, I was lucky to get a pair of women's sandals among the choices of shoes - shhh! Who knows what it'll be this year... (Oh, if you are in the area, you can register here for the walk yourself.)
So the President's speech yesterday was substantive, inspiring, solutions oriented, laid down the law to the right-wingers, and vowed to protect our social compacts in the form of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and critical investments in education, clean energy and research. So what do I get from the much-vaunted "switch your phone company to us" Credo in the email? This: "Tell President Obama: Hands off Medicare!"
Are you freaking kidding me? This is beyond scare tactics and fear mongering. The implication is that President Obama, who has already broadened our social compact by strengthening Medicare through health care reform, and expanding Medicaid for children (SCHIP) to a total of 11 million American children, has to listen to this utter horse crap from these bunch of hooies? Who the heck are doing the campaigns there these days?
Of course they open with the lie that in last week's budget negotiations, Speaker Boehner "emerged with billions more in cuts than he asked for." It's a lie. And it's an intentional one, as far as I'm concerned, because there is absolutely no excuse here to not know the facts. Obama, as our very own rootless said, took the orange man to the cleaners in those negotiations. In terms of the foolhardy "analysis" the Credo people performed, all the cuts were "given up" by the President, but all the things that were saved, they did it. That is, you know, folks, the President gets all of the blame but none of the credit. Brilliant!
Today I'm announcing a new hashtag: #33seniors. It comes from President Obama's budget/deficit speech yesterday:
[The Republicans have] a vision that says even though America can’t afford to invest in education or clean energy; even though we can’t afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. Think about it. In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined. The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that’s who needs to pay less taxes? They want to give people like me a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut that’s paid for by asking thirty three seniors to each pay six thousand dollars more in health costs? That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.It's brilliant framing. Simple, understandable, and, so far as I am concerned, indefensible by the Republicans whose plan to reduce the deficit and health costs is a sham. As Rachel Maddow put so well last night, they don't want to reduce costs, they simply want to shift them to politically powerless groups: the poor, the disabled, and the elderly.
Editor's note: Introducing "sepiagurlsweetspot" - our newest contributing guest blogger to The People's View. Cheryl has contributed opinion pieces to race-talk.org and been published in The Concord Monitor. Please use this thread to welcome her. I thought this piece would serve well as an open thread, as we wrap up the reactions on the President's fiscal policy address. - Deaniac83. There will be no give on the values that reasonable and rational Americans hold dear. Period. This was my take away from President Obama's speech and no talking head or news outlet is going to tell me anything different. I am not American but this is why I longed to come to this country from when I was a child. The reason I longed to come to this country was because I longed to make my dreams come through; I longed to be all that I can be. Since arriving here I have grown, changed and become but there is still a way to go. Over the past decade I have felt that the vision I had for my life in this country was slowly being drained from my very being. The past couple of years even days have left me feeling dispirited and disillusioned. However, I never stopped believing that America's core values were still there. I felt that there were cynical forces that had risen to the top but deep inside I believed that they would be pushed back at the right moment. This afternoon when I heard our President's speech I felt that the fog was lifted and that the hope he talked about in his election was given a big ole shine again. He was clear, concise and to the point. I felt it was a take no prisoners speech that reasonable and smart people should be able to come together around. Of course there will be naysayers from both sides but hey this is America for you! I do believe it is time for people who believe in fairness and justice for all should now stand up and push back with all the might within their beings against the regressive and repulsive policy of the Republican Tea Party. They have no soul; they have no heart; they have no human pulse. Instead they have an empty black hole where their hearts and souls should reside and within that darkness thrives a hatred for all that is just, fair and wholesome. Yes, they speak a good game but their words are empty. I do believe there are good Republicans out there still but where are they? Why are they allowing this pus-filled virus to grow aand fester in their midst? Are they only about winning? Only about money? Only about themselves? The questions answer themselves. I feel today is a turning point in the politics of the last few years. President Obama has now set a tone. All reasonable Progressives, liberals, Republicans and Independents should take up his call and stick a needle in the divisive, putrid boil that stands for the policy within the Republican Party and tell them to go shove it. A line in the Sand has been drawn. Oh, Yes he did!!!
First of all, if you haven't seen it already, this is worth the 44-some minutes to watch:
President Obama didn't pull any punches today in his speech on the nation's budget and our path out of the massive debt and deficit we face today. Fully one-third of our budget is deficit spending yet only 12% of it is discretionary spending so, Houston, we have a problem.
Eliminating spending on war or in foreign aid or "waste" aren't going to do it. Fundamental shifts are needed. The Republicans think it can be done on the backs of senior citizens, the poor, the middle class and other politically powerless groups while retaining the massive tax cuts that are largely responsible for the hole we're in right now.
President Obama has a different view.
Their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America. [...] It is not going to happen while I'm president.That's what President Obama declared about the Paul Ryan Budget plan in his address on fiscal policy just a while ago. In it, he laid out a bold vision to reduce the nation's debt by $4 trillion over the next 12 years, while pledging to protect our social contracts with our seniors, children and the society's most vulnerable as well as critical investments in our future. He called out Paul Ryan's budget plan as one that transforms us into a fundamentally different country by breaking those contracts to pay for tax breaks for the rich.
But the President also had warnings for the liberal side of this debate. He called out the fearmongering that happens too often on our side centered around the subjects of social security and Medicare, and warned doing nothing at all is not an option, as doing nothing will ultimately result in the collapse of those obligations. The President said:
If we truly believe in a progressive visioin of our country, we have an obligation to prove we can afford our commitments.
I'll say right off the bat that I absolutely hate the term "professional left". But it will suffice as a descriptor for those on the liberal side of the coin that seem to be able to find pretty much nothing about the Obama administration that they can approve of.
And when they don't have anything to get upset about, that's no problem. They just invent something. Here's the playbook for your reference:
- Read the day's headlines.
- Determine a spin that characterizes the President and his administration in the worst possible light.
- If such a spin does not exist, postulate what the President and his administration's response will be. Make sure that it is as negative as possible, even if it contradicts his past behavior.
- Write endless blogs on how the President has once again sold his "base" down the river and kicked hippies in the teeth (after punching them, of course.) It is not necessary for him to actually have done this. Your prediction that he WILL do this is sufficient.
- When what you predicted turns out to be quite wrong, ignore that and focus on the next day's news item. No point in issuing a mea culpa. Just raise a fuss about something new and nobody will notice.
- Lather, rinse and repeat.
The whiny, puritan, ideologue wing of the Left has been on the President's case since the day he became President for not toeing their ideological lines, even though President Obama delivered on more progressive priorities than any president since FDR in a comparable timeline. In their judgment, Obama "started negotiating from the middle" and gave up several important ponies. They are also majorly p.o'ed at the President for accepting that any cuts have to be made to the federal budget or that the national debt and deficit are a matter of concern. He should have started, from the beginning, with trying to raise taxes on the rich, they say.
Well, the President is going to be putting down some markers this morning. The Los Angeles Times has a preview:
President Obama will call for shrinking the nation's long-term deficits by raising taxes on wealthier Americans and requiring them to pay more into Social Security, drawing a barbed contrast with a Republican plan to save money by deeply slashing Medicare, Medicaid and other domestic spending.
Obama will offer some spending cuts, including trims to the Pentagon's budget, but his speech Wednesday is likely to provide Americans with a vivid choice between higher taxes or fewer benefits, issues that will color the national debate straight through the 2012 election.
A friend sent an email with a number of the standard complaints liberals have about President Obama and, although I knew it wouldn't work, I sent back some factual corrections. The response was "those sound like excuses". Marketing works and the goal of of consumer marketing is to produce an emotional reaction that feels more authentic than boring facts. Since Roger Aisles managed Nixon's campaign, Republican marketing has zeroed in on associating Democrats with "weak", "untrustworthy/unreliable", and either "effeminate" or "bitchy" depending on the gender of the target. Republicans on the other hand are tough, strong, decisive, manly or desirable. In the last couple of years the Republicans have made use of blogs and social media as well as the "alternative media" to pitch this story as "criticism from the left" or "principled opposition". So in addition to Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman of the Times referring to the President as "Obambi" and "this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular", respectively, DailyKos writes "President grovelling beaten lump Obama still believes in unicorns", and FireDogLake tells us about "further spineless capitulation". Once the brand is established, it is automatic and self-reinforcing and immune to "excuses". Although President Obama seems to have faced down and fended off a very aggressive Republican attack via the budget process, the impression of capitulation has been sold so well that many people will never have a clear idea of what happened. What most readers will remember is "completely caved" and not the grudging later admission "So given political realities, this deal is probably less bad than it otherwise could have been, and at least in my view, it's better than shutting the government down." Of course the progressive blogs rarely even admit error.
Now that we have the details of last Friday's budget compromise, and now that we know that President Obama clearly out-played the Republicans in every aspect, will the very serious media and the pants-pissing Professional Left apologize or walk-back their narrative of cave-in and capitulation?The narrative is chosen and the facts are not only ignored, but made irrelevant. The Nation magazine provided startlingly sharp example of how this works in an article in which President Obama and his main legislative aide were repeatedly castigated for supposedly dishonest, weak, cowardly backing away from the promise to push Congress to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. What is so impressive about this account is that it was written after the President delivered on the promise.
I wouldn't count on it, even though it's painfully obvious that a narrative was chosen to run with before anyone actually knew what was included in the bill.
The details of last week's budget deal that averted the government shutdown are now starting to become clearer. I intend to present the facts of the specific cuts, and I believe that any objective analysis would have to conclude that President Obama and Democrats ultimately prevailed, even though some cuts will not be ideal. But in a divided government with a large conservative majority in the House that was intent on breaking the back of public investment in America, the end result can only be honestly described as an overall success for President Obama and Democratic priorities. So without further ado, let's look at the cuts.
The larger context
Yes, there are some painful cuts, but not nearly as badly as you think. Much of the "cuts" were realized by not renewing funds that were meant to be one-time projects anyway, recouping funds from earmarked projects that cannot actually be spent because of other legal restrictions enacted subsequently, and accounting for unused bonus money to states. This saved actual programs from much larger cuts. Here are some examples:
Instead, the cuts that actually will make it into law are far tamer, including cuts to earmarks, unspent census money, leftover federal construction funding, and $2.5 billion from the most recent renewal of highway programs that can't be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation. Another $3.5 billion comes from unused bonus money for states that enroll more uninsured children in a program providing health care to children of lower-income families. [...]
About $10 billion of the cuts comes from targeting appropriations accounts previously used by lawmakers for so-called earmarks, those pet projects like highways, water projects, community development grants and new equipment for police and fire departments. Republicans had already engineered a ban on earmarks when taking back the House this year.
Ignore the ignorance Mr. President. We won't ignore that you are engaged & working hard for Americans.
In this very heated political environment, those of us Democrats and Independents who value your judgment and leadership have something to say to you to show our solidarity and commitment to continue supporting you as our Democratic President. While we continue to support you, we also understand the many challenges you faced and will continue to face but will not forget nor ignore the powers at play.
We won't ignore those who claim your ultimate plan was White Slavery.
We won't ignore those who said Barack Hussein Obama is the new face of Hitler.
We won't ignore those who said a Kenyan is trying to destroy America.
We won't ignore those who want to deny you your birth place and your religion.
We won't ignore the smear to characterize you as a Muslim anti-Christ President who is trying to destroy White America.
Damnit, Obama has got to stop breaking the hearts of the whiny poutraged Left like this:
Nearly six in ten Americans approve of the eleventh hour budget deal struck between Congress and the White House to avert a government shutdown, according to a CNN poll released on Monday. And what's more, a plurality give Democrats the most credit for making it happen.That's a 20 point gap. And not only that, voters are realizing who the adults are between the two parties in Washington.
In the poll of American adults, 58% said they approved of the budget deal, compared to 38% who disapproved.
Additionally, the poll found that a 48% plurality of respondents credited Obama and Congressional Democrats the most for preventing a government shutdown. Thirty-five percent of respondents gave more credit to Republicans, while 11% thought both sides were equally responsible.
I have said it before, and I will say it again: Paul Krugman may be a nobel winning economist, but he should keep his day job. He's a terrible political commentator, especially when he goes after pre-emptive attacks on President Obama. In his column in the New York Times today, he delves into one such pre-emptive war on President Obama, saying that "Obama is missing" - while, of course, having not a clue on what he would do and how he'd legislatively accomplish that. Here's his opening salvo:
Maybe that terrible deal, in which Republicans ended up getting more than their opening bid, was the best he could achieve — although it looks from here as if the president’s idea of how to bargain is to start by negotiating with himself, making pre-emptive concessions, then pursue a second round of negotiation with the G.O.P., leading to further concessions.This - "Republicans ended up getting more than their opening bid" - is so disingenuous and intellectually bankrupt that I don't even know where to begin. You see, if you just read that and don't know recent history, it would be reasonable for you to be outraged to hear that President Obama gave the Republicans more in cuts than even they originally wanted.
Except it's a bunch of horse manure, and I suspect Krugman knows it. This number comes from Boehner and House Republican leader's original offer in January, which blew up on its own, and conservatives in their own party took it down. Boehner folded like a cheap wallet, because he did not have enough votes in his own caucus to pass those cuts. What the Republicans ended up passing in the House, which by any honest measure should be considered their original offer in the negotiations, was $61 billion in cuts, or on an annualized basis, $100 billion in cuts, in line with their "Pledge to America."
So Friday night, a government shutdown was averted. And already, you have people in some big orange "progressive" places melting themselves down over how that aversion was a loss for progressives and how President Obama gave in to billions more in cuts. So let's look at what we know about the deal, what Barack Obama's negotiating skills gave us, and whether it justifies things like this full-blown freakout by Cenk Uygur.
Let's start looking at it from the perspective of core Democratic values. While not too many details of the full deal has yet emerged, we do know a few things. Among them: the Republicans' effort to defund family planning blew up in their faces, and President Obama and the Democrats protected this much needed service for poor and middle class women and families. For anyone who thinks that it doesn't matter or that it's a day late and a dollar short, you should talk to San Francisco's Monica Silva:
"I've been dealing with precancerous cells, and Planned Parenthood has prevented that from going into full-blown cancer" with screenings and medication, said Silva, 31. "They've saved my life."
Like many other federally funded programs, Planned Parenthood stood to lose funding during the shutdown - in this case, Medicaid reimbursements to thousands of low-income clients in the Bay Area such as Silva, a hair stylist.
For now, that didn't happen.
"I'm really happy," Silva said. "That's just amazing that they've figured out a way to keep these programs going."
Sorry, I Have To Protect Our President Not Only From The Crazy Right But Also From The DailyKos Gang
I sometimes don't know what the fuck people are on these days? It is inconceivable to me and most liberal Democrats who can think pragmatically to remotely spew so much lies, dishonesty and vicious attacks similar to what teabaggers do to hurt a Democratic President and claim they are really Democrats. I mean I really don't get it. It is also unfathomable to see so much negativity coming from Liberal Democratic site that claims to be dedicated to electing more and better Democrats and allow RW talking points and ideologies such as calling the President a "rapist" and some calling for the President's impeachment or imprisonment be embraced by a so called liberal community. Seriously, these kinds of ideologies are everywhere at Dailykos, HuffPost, FDL and I wonder why communities that claim to stand for a Democratic Principle are trying their very best to elect Republicans?
There is so much misinformation that get circulated in some progressive/liberal blogs, it is quite inconceivable how much we do ourselves a disservice to promote our own cause. I think it is important to make sure that we all have the facts straight on the tax deal that was made late in December of 2010 and that it is crystal clear so that there is no misunderstanding of what its intended purpose was and the fact that it is only a two years extension that is suppose to expire by 2012. AGAIN, IT IS ONLY A TWO YEAR EXTENSION and it is not going to be PERMANENT as some would like to spin it. I don't believe many ask the question about how they would feel had the tax deal was not struck and that they will be paying $3,000 more in their taxes on the average or that they won't receive a $1000 per-child tax credit up to $3,000 or those 7,000,000 unemployed Americans won't collect any kind of unemployment income or lose a $2,500 in tax savings to help pay for their children college tuition, and on and on. However, averting the Government shut down by compromising with a Republican Majority congress in fact will only reduce the actual budget from the 2009 level by only $33 Billion and not by the $73 Billion in imaginary, government-speak dollars that is now characterized and framed according to one DailyKos blogger as:
[I should have had this at the start - thanks @truthrose1 for starting it. Dear Joan Walsh: Your letter to President Obama in Salon is an all too typical example of why many of us no longer think of ourselves as "progressive" or "on the left". It's not as if we no longer care about social justice or have become enthusiasts of the Koch Brothers or even of the kind of watered down liberalism of the Democratic Leadership Club. It's just that we're neither disappointed by President Obama nor willing to put up with the peevish destructive mess that we are told represents the "progressive" and "left" point of view. There's an example of what I mean near the start of your piece. You write:
Monday was the day Obama broke a campaign promise by announcing that 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Muhammed would be tried in a military tribunal at Guantánamo.You do know, I hope, that the US Senate voted 90/6 to deny funds for closing Guantanamo? Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold voted along with Mitch McConnell on this bill. Look it up. And you probably also know about the three branches of government and that sort of stuff. So how can you not know that this is not a broken promise? The President tried to fulfill his promise despite overwhelming opposition from his own allies in Congress and the lack of any popular support or organized pressure on Congress. And he kept trying - here's a story on Attorney General Holder begging Congress to do the right thing 6 months later. The President took his campaign promise seriously and was defeated by Congress and abandoned by all the people who claimed to care deeply but never bothered to even picket their local Congressional office. Why are you attacking the President's integrity on this issue? When the legislative support is THREE Senators, two from Illinois, the tactical value of complaining to and about Obama is hard to see even if we ignore the dishonesty of blaming the wrong guy. In your very next paragraph, you tell us what "progressives" think about the President's legislative efforts and things only get worse.
I am not just a blind follower of my President even though some do think that about me but I really don't give a damn about what people say especially those who are hell bent to destroy him. The facts are irrefutable for why I support my Democratic President. I classify myself as a well informed pragmatist progressive/liberal who is results oriented. To that effect, look no further than what President Obama and the Democratic Congress have accomplished in the last two years. After all, progressive means to make progress and there is no better person to lead America to progress than President Obama if you look at what he has accomplished to date.
Glen Hurowitz is providing a great example of how the "professional left" works hard to support Republicans like Joe Barton. Mr. Hurowitz who is a "senior fellow" at the Center for International Policy wrote to me on Twitter:
Dems can't win if nobody trusts them to stand up for clean air and water, jobs, values they ran onand the body of his work is a shabby and dishonest effort to paint Democrats in general and President Obama in particular as untrustworthy on exactly those issues. Here's Hurowitz in Grist magazine:
Indeed, as recently as Wednesday, the Associated Press had reported that Obama was insisting that congressional Democrats swallow rollbacks to EPA's authority to crack down on climate emissions, mountaintop-removal coal mining, and Chesapeake Bay pollution as the price for passing a budget dealWhat Hurrowitz neglects to mention is that the White House denied that report, that the report was written by an AP writer who Media Matters notes has produced dubious pro-Republican reporting in the past and that Grist itself had retracted the story the day before (see this for more). Hurowitz also neglected to explain that the EPA was facing attack from people like Sherrod Brown as well as from Republicans - his story was that Obama was forcing a reluctant Congress to cave in to Republican demands and no inconvenient data needed to be provided to readers. Meanwhile the Environmental Defense Fund asks people to call Congress
Take Action: Support Tough New Mercury and Air Toxics Standards If you live anywhere in the United States, chances are, you are being exposed to highly toxic mercury, acid gases, and heavy metals spewed from America's coal-fired power plants every year. These life-threatening emissions have NEVER been limited by the EPA… UNTIL NOW.So Obama's EPA under Lisa Jackson, a black woman who seems to be invisible to a certain group of white male "environmentalists" for some reason, takes aggressive action to protect the environment and Mr. Hurowitz asks for a primary challenger:
I wish Ed Markey would challenge Obama in the primaries. Passionate, courageous, and green - everything Obama isn't. (Hurowitz on Twitter today)When the Administration proposes strong environmental regulations and Congress tries to override, you'd expect environmentalists to attack Congress and defend the Administration just as the EDF is doing and you'd expect polluters to attack the Administration and try to obscure the role of Congress to give allies some cover. Hmmm. But this oddly reversed approach is not new for Hurowitz.
The online environmental magazine Grist has just published a great example of how the Republican Party plans to beat President Obama by using "progressives" and "environmentalists" as fronts for their misinformation. Under President Obama and Lisa Jackson the EPA has been moving rapidly forward to protect the environment against a number of threats from coal burning power plants: regulating mercury and other toxic releases and starting to regulate greenhouse gases. Both Republicans and conservative coal state Democrats in Congress are desperate to overturn these rules to please their corporate masters and they have a big lever: they can hold the whole federal budget and the stability of the country and the recovery hostage by attaching their override to the emergency budget bill. Basically, they are saying "Leash the EPA or the economy is going to die." The problem they have is that the rules are popular and even in the coal states, Congress has to worry about voter backlash. So the answer is to turn it from a controversy about Congress attempting to overrule the EPA into a controversy over President Obama "caving". Instead of "Congress threatens to kill the economy if EPA protects the environment", the plan is to make the headlines be "Obama betrays environment, shows himself weak and untrustworthy AGAIN" - nicely fitting into their existing narrative. Fortunately for the GOP, a compliant media and eager "progressives" and "environmentalists" are ready to cooperate just in time for the start of the re-election campaign. Which brings us to Glenn Hurowitz, todays deeply concerned "environmentalist" who feels a need to point the finger of blame at the President.
This is the kind of hard to find material you have to go to the DOE web site to discover (certainly it's not featured in MSM or Progressive sites).
There's also a number of interesting stories about DOE's direct investment in clean energy companies.
Surrounded by cutting-edge vehicles, from all-electric trucks to hydraulic hybrids, President Obama today announced theNational Clean Fleets Partnership, an initiative of the Department’s Clean Cities program, at a UPS fleet facility in Landover, Maryland. This public-private partnership will draw on the expertise of the Department of Energy to help large companies reduce diesel and gasoline use in their fleets by incorporating electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and fuel-saving measures into their operations.
Charter members of this partnership include AT&T, FedEx, Pepsi-Co, UPS, and Verizon. These companies represent five of the nation’s 10 largest fleets and collectively operate over 275,000 vehicles. They are committing to deploy more than 20,000 advanced technology vehicles that are expected to save more than 7 million gallons of fuel per year. It was exciting for Clean Cities coalitions and stakeholders to see the Obama Administration’s support for our work and the efforts of participating companies.
Some good news on the Jobs front. The economy has added 216k jobs in the month of March lowering the unemployment number to 8.8%. It is obvious something is working so why do Republicans want to push a spending bill that economist Mark Zandi says will cost 700,000 jobs as Ezra Klein reported in the Washington Post article. Does it not seem like such an insane idea to continue to push down working Americans? It is quite inconceivable a Republican party that was shouting where are the jobs is now actually working to wipe out jobs that have been made in the last three months. And then we have John Boehner's HELL YOU CAN'T rant where he thinks getting rid of Government employees and having them stand on the Unemployment line is perfectly fine to him. They really hate America, don't they? Seriously, since January 2010, this means we have created 1.7 million private sector jobs. At 200K new jobs a month for the next 9 months, 1.8 million new jobs can be created reducing unemployment well below 8%. That is progress I can believe in and why I am grateful for the leadership of the Obama Administration while the road ahead is still rough. Don't you just love this graph?
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Job growth accelerated in March, the Labor Department said Friday. Total nonfarm payrolls increased by 216,000, higher than the 192,000 gain expected by Wall Street economists. The unemployment rate ticked lower to 8.8% in March from 8.9% in the previous month. This is the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to rise to 9.0%. Average hourly earnings were flat at $22.87. Economists had been expecting a 0.2% gain. Earnings are up 1.7% in the past year. The average workweek was unchanged at 34.3 hours.
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