Thursday, September 30, 2010
Jeez. What does it say about a Republican candidate when he accuses the New York Post of being in bed with Democratic candidates? – the New York Post for chrissakes? And what does it say about a Republican candidate when Rudy Giuliani doesn’t even endorse him?
I’ll tell you what it says. It says he’s BATSHIT CRAZY.
Every time Carl Paladino opens his mouth he sounds more and more like a raving lunatic.
By now I’m pretty sure everyone has read about this creepy encounter, but for those who haven’t; yesterday Carl Paladino, upset that news of his extra-martial lovechild was making waves, implied that Andrew Cuomo had had an affair at some point during his marriage. Paladino offered no evidence to support the charge. Last night Crazy Carl completely lost it when asked by a New York Post journalist to elaborate. Paladino threatened; ‘I’ll take you out, buddy.’ He then accused the Post of ‘kissing Cuomo’s ass.’ Hilariously, the Postie responded; ‘like we kissed Patterson and Spitzer’s asses?’
To imply that the New York Post is in the tank for any Democrat should be in and of itself a committable offense. It’s really hard to believe that anyone in their right mind would buy a line like that, so for Paladino’s campaign staff to stand by that accusation should throw their sanity into question as well.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
(End of political commentary.)
I'm having a little trouble settling in at any new site and I'm feeling the loss of the ol' cafe. There has been some good stuff written lately, especially by DickDay and Acamus, so there is no shortage of material but for me something is missing. I noticed a post by Robert Reich at the cafe that is three days old. It has 14 comments and 3 recommends. Now that would be a fail even for me. I would be asking myself what was wrong with my thinking/writing. In this case though I think there is something larger going on. The old cafe was an organic thing that grew into a community over time. Like urban renewal, one can demolish a neighborhood and build condominiums but the charm won't return with the new residents.
On the other hand, I recall that back in the late 1950's when the S.F. police drove the bohemians out of North Beach, they migrated to other places including a little known neighborhood called Haight-Ashbury. So it is clear that the charm comes from the people, not the location. But it will take time for the new location(s) to gain that "charm" so patience and maybe even circumspection is the order of the day.
I didn't have a point to make. I just wanted to share my thought. If I had a point I guess it is that after thanking everyone who has put the effort into creating new homes for the café diaspora, I think it may take a while for the whole business to settle out. We are sort of e-bohemians, individuals who share a willingness to look at life in unconventional ways and who need to share some kind of community for emotional rescue at worst or cross-fertilization and stimulation at best? So it is not an unimportant problem where we gather but it may be a while before the problem is solved.
(Cross posted everywhere except Europa.)
Here’s another story from about four years before the discovery of the thousands of cases of judicial corruption that justify the death penalty for Ciavarella. In this one, cops bribed a 7 year old boy with candy and pizza to get a confession for a fire he couldn’t have possibly set. Further, the victim of the fire, elderly Mr. Benjamin Morris, was known to burn yard waste and debris in his backyard and may have started the fire himself.
Luzerne County “law enforcement” didn’t bother to question anybody who was taking care of the boy that fateful day. Why bother when you are criminal thugs with badges who already have somebody you can easily blame for a crime and can be cheaply made to self-incriminate?
Now following this little narrative I did come across this gem at Wiki:
The Minneapolis Thanksgiving Day Fire destroyed an entire block of Downtown Minneapolis on November 25–26, 1982, including the 16-story headquarters of Northwestern National Bank (now Wells Fargo) and the vacant, partially-demolished location formerly occupied by Donaldson's department store, which had recently moved across the street to the new City Center mall. Nobody was injured or killed as a result of the fire.
The Minneapolis Fire Department quickly determined the cause of the fire as arson. Shortly thereafter, two juveniles were arrested and later convicted of setting the fire, using an acetylene torch found at the partially-demolished Donaldson's site.
In 1988, Northwestern National Bank (then called Norwest Corporation) constructed a 57-story Cesar Pelli-designed headquarters on the site of the Bank building. The new headquarters is now known as the Wells Fargo Center, after Norwest merged with Wells Fargo. The Donaldson's half of the block is occupied by the Saks Fifth Avenue wing of Gaviidae Common, an upscale shopping mall.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minneapolis_Thanksgiving_Day_FireAcetyline torch my ass. hahaha
Who knows? Memories. Oh, and juvenile records are sealed forever. hahaha
Yes, there is a Rasmussen poll out today that shows that President Obama’s approval rating is at 50% and his disapproval at 49%. - That means that even among the Rasmussen crowd, people aren’t as down on the guy as we think.
But, I thought his approval numbers were in ‘free-fall.’ John McCain said his approvals were ‘cratering.’
Monday, September 27, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
This is that explanation, but it requires a quick, fractured review of history which, hope spring eternal, will at least hold the attention of a dozen people:
It is considered one big yuck from the black and white thirties: Will Rogers' famous remark about not belonging to an organized political party, but when he said it shortly before he was killed in an airplane crash in 1935, the Democratic Party to which he belonged had truly become two separate factions, bound together for electoral purposes, but hardly by philosophy. There was the newer factions, New Dealers who were remaking the country and the party as the country veered from the edges of revolution to recovery from a global depression that had thrown Europe into turmoil.
Then there was the historic Democratic Party: the remnants of the southern opposition to Lincoln's determination to keep the country together even if it meant the end of slavery and the party that was able to replace "reconstruction" with "Jim Crow" so as to maintain as much of what was described benignly as a "southern way of life" as was possible even after the forced labor which made that possible was nominally ended.
This "marriage of convenience" was on the path to destruction when the New Deal it made possible began to change the relationship of the federal government to the people who needed its help. President Roosevelt knew this: at the first opportunity he forced a change in how the party nominated its presidential candidates to rid it of the 2/3rds rule which essentially gave the southern "Democrats" veto power of the nominee since nobody could win until at least some southern states agreed.
The final end came, of course, after the passage of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts in 1965 and 1966. As President Johnson famously told Bill Moyers those pieces of legislation would finally cost the party the south, but since the "Dixiecrats" nominated Strom Thurmond for president in 1948 after a civil rights plank was adopted in the Democratic Party platform was adopted, the die had been permanently cast.
What made a person "progressive" or "liberal" has, since that time meant two quite different things. In much of the country, liberal thought (and the Democratic majority) was an outgrowth of the New Deal's commitment to making the lives of those who live here to be better. It meant, in the most general terms, that the government would spend what it took to help those who could not help themselves.
In the south, though, a person who opposed segregation, or someone who thought that Negroes, as they were called, had rights, too and that, indeed, all were created equal was "a liberal." That's what it took. Without demeaning the courage it took to take such a position in the south, that was the test for southern Democrats. President Roosevelt's social safety net was not.
The loss of the south happened relatively quickly. The evil Nixon used it to narrowly defeat Vice President Humphrey in 1968 but by 1972 the Democratic Party was a quite different thing than it had been until then. By then, many former Democrats, such as the Texas Governor shot while sitting by President Kennedy on that horrible day in 1963, had become Republicans by then and others, while still calling themselves Democrats were heading for the exits and calling themselves "boll weevils" in the meantime.
What was left of the party---a far more liberal party than it had been when it was attached to the south---nominated the antiwar Senator George S. McGovern of South Dakota to run against Nixon in 1972 but the party was in a shambles, Nixon's Watergate henchmen were disrupting the process and the social turmoil centered around the Vietnam War and Nixon's desire to use those divisions for his electoral advantage, led to a huge loss.
Thus it became an axiom of the "new" Democratic Party that it would never win another election if the New Dealers were allowed to continue to represent what it stood for. That the Democratic majorities in Congress from 1933 until then, with only a brief exception, were the result of the New Deal (coupled with the southern votes, to be sure) seemed pointless, we were told. That was then and this is now. The usual stuff.
By 1976, Watergate and President Ford's subsequent pardoning of his corrupt predecessor
made it likely that a Democrat would be elected president. Some of us saw this as an opportunity to get back on the track from which we were taken by the Vietnam War, and to bring the New Deal, Fair Deal, New Frontier and Great Society into the 1970s by the election of a "classic" Democrat: My candidate was Congressman Mo Udall of Arizona; others favored Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana (an actual Democrat, quite unlike his son, Evan). Either would have represented "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" though I suspect if DailyKos existed then, Senator Bayh would have been eviscerated in those pages lest he get in the way of Congressman Udall.
Instead, though, President Carter was nominated and elected. He was a Democrat, but not the kind our party elected since 1932. He came from a different world, and believed (as he apparently still does) that his moral beliefs and way of thinking were superior to the majority of his party which still saw government's responsibility to those who needed its help as its true mandate.
We tried to get along. We agreed to pronounce his wife's name as "Rose-a-lynn" and his advisor's name as "Jerdan" and we tried to ignore Bert Lance and wonder whether the holier than thou president we elected did not surround himself whith quite as many angels as he claimed he had. We really tried to accept him as if he and we were in the same party.
Given President Carter's worldview, though, he flinted with a Congress controlled by the classic Democratic Party, though the party itself was also having to adjust to a new geographical center. He fought the party's congressional leaders, particularly Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill, a hard core New Dealer who held the House seat once occupied by President Kennedy.
His sense of his own superiority and different views about the party which nominated him made his tenure quite rocky. As 1980 approached, most Democrats outside the south had given up on him a view exacerbated first by polling which showed his re-election prospects to be dubious and then by both the capture and failed rescue of United States diplomats in Iran. (I will spare you the recitation of how the President contributed to that crisis, and how his foolish reaction to the Soviet Union's actions in Afghanistan made it very hard to support his re-election in any event).
The health care debate to which he absurdly made mention in 60 Minutes last Sunday came in this period. I will not rehash the whole thing now, and, instead, point you to Senator Kennedy's point person on the issue in 1980, Dr. Lawrence Horowitz and a somewhat muddled article from something called the History News Network as well as a contemporaneous Newsweek article from the time.
President Carter can congratulate himself for his remarkable candor in what he says were diaries he wrote back then, but he chose to publish them only after Senator Kennedy was no longer around to speak for himself. The view of many of us then, and me, today, was that as the Iranian hostage crisis was starting to weigh him down, the President wanted to make sure that Senator Kennedy won no legislative victories and found his own way to torpedo the health care bill by proposals that the traditional New Deal Democrats were bound to hate. What he proposed was a mess that could neither have been enacted nor have any impact and he knew it then and knows it today.
That was, though, the last straw in the struggle for control of the party. The issue was not, as people who don't remember or weren't there, about Senator Kennedy himself, Chappaquidick, a family empire, whether he was faithful to his wife, while President Carter was teaching Sunday school: the issue was what the party stood for.
Senator Kennedy's famous speech at the convention that year said it all.
We cheered, but we lost. President Carter was renominated but he had no chance to be re-elected. The Great Reagan was and announced that government was no longer the answer but the problem. The next time we elected a so-called Democrat, it was another southerner, who tried to tell us the era of big government was over.
President Carter lost for many reasons, but one was that you cannot beat Republicans by pretending to be one or siding with them. They will always prefer a real one to one who simply agrees with them.
But what President Carter's whining his way to the presidency and then whining his way out of it, and his continued whining today (yes, he has done a few good things in and out of office and he correctly forecast the need to get off foreign oil) and Senator McGovern's Watergate-infected loss told the party leadership was to try to avoid controversy.
The worst president since Buchanan (if not the most corrupt, a tile permanently in the hands of Nixon) made possible the election of the first New Deal Democrat since President Johnson remains an amorphous mess: it includes for some reason, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and Joseph Lieberman (at least in a way). If the south has, for the most part, abandoned it, there remains a wide view of opinions in a party that is all there is between us and more control by the party of nutcakes, screwballs, bigots and the defenders of all that the wealthy want.
That is why the Senate could not vote on the easiest issue to come to its halls in years. It involves the word "taxes" and in the big tent we have are many, many people, and members of the Senate, who believe that a vote against any tax cut, even one for the wealthiest among us, is the kiss of electoral death. The majority we think we have does not exist, and if there is a nominal one after these elections, it will be even smaller than the one we have today.
In the meantime, it is not President Carter but Senator Kennedy whose voice talks to the issues of today:
The commitment I seek is not to outworn views but to old values that will never wear out. Programs may sometimes become obsolete, but the ideal of fairness always endures. Circumstances may change, but the work of compassion must continue. It is surely correct that we cannot solve problems by throwing money at them, but it is also correct that we dare not throw out our national problems onto a scrap heap of inattention and indifference. The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs. The middle class may be angry, but they have not lost the dream that all Americans can advance together.
The demand of our people in 1980 is not for smaller government or bigger government but for better government.
I thank President Carter for reminding me that whether I voted for him or not, he never led any party to which I belong.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
JANUS, THE POLITICIAN
Structural anthropology is based on Claude Lévi-Strauss' idea that people think about the world in terms of binary opposites—such as high and low, inside and outside, person and animal, life and death—and that every culture can be understood in terms of these opposites. "From the very start," he wrote, "the process of visual perception makes use of binary oppositions." [Structuralism and Ecology, 1972]
Lévi-Strauss' approach arose, fundamentally, from the philosophy of Hegel who explains that in every situation there can be found two opposing things and their resolution; he called these "thesis, antithesis, and synthesis." Lévi-Strauss argued that, in fact, cultures have this structure. He showed, for example, how opposing ideas would fight and also be resolved in the rules of marriage, in mythology, and in ritual. This approach, he felt, made for fresh new ideas. He stated:
Back in July, before Joe Miller won a stunning upset over Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's GOP Senate primary, national attention briefly focused on his campaign when supporters were videotaped marching in a community parade with assault rifles over their shoulders and handguns strapped to their legs. (Watch below.)
At the time, Miller dismissed the media scrutiny, saying that guns are "not unusual in political rallies" in Alaska. But the so-called "open-carry" display actually underscores the unusual enthusiasm Miller's candidacy has generated among members of militia and Second Amendment absolutist groups in Alaska who are excited about his hardline stance against the federal government.
"It's safe to say that Joe Miller is a friend of patriots," Norm Olson, commander of the Alaska Citizens Militia, told Salon. "His beliefs and platform favor Second Amendment rights as well as the power of nullification when the federal government intrudes into the private lives of Alaskans."
Olson, who lives on the Kenai Peninsula, claims that his group has several hundred members and supporters, adding, "what fuels the militia is fear." The militia's ideology is outlined in a list of 17 "acts of war." The list includes "firearms restrictions or other disarmament," "mandatory medical anything," "federal patrols," "taking control of children under duress or threat," "federalization of law enforcement," and "surrender powers to a corporation or foreign government."
There is a post from July on an Alaska gun rights message board announcing that, "Joe Miller who is running for the US Senate has an entry in this parade. He is looking for Firearms Owners to come and march Open Carry with him. I and many others will be there to support him."
The claim that Miller or his campaign invited people to "march open carry" could not be confirmed. Miller's spokesman did not respond to requests for comment for this story. Here's the video from that parade in Eagle River, Alaska
If this is true – and it appears to be – then this will go down as one of the stupidest moves by the spineless weasels on the Hill – and that’s saying a lot for this crop of morons. This was a win-win for the party – offer a needed tax break to 98% of the population, and force the Republicans to defend giving a break to the most privileged class in the nation..
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
A long time ago, even before Ronald Reagan was born, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter:
Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists. The passage reads, "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."
That seems clear enough, does it not?
I mean the darling of the repubs is now (supposedly) Thomas Jefferson instead of Abraham Lincoln and here is one of Jefferson’s letters. This particular letter was sent to the elders of this small Baptist Church in direct response to a letter those elders sent to Thomas Jefferson. I mean old Tom did not wake up one day and think:
Maybe I should bother some Baptists today?
I suppose you could just challenge the provenance of the letter.
You could spend a lot of money researching the chain of custody of this letter low these years.
You could buy some handwriting experts and have them render their professional expert opinions that the letter is a forgery. It would be even better if the experts could somehow link the real author to atheism or murder or New York politics.
But the letter, regardless of parsing talks about building a wall of separation between Church & State. And the letter was sent by Thomas Jefferson to a church in Danbury.
So our third President was not making some side statement to reel in some votes.
He straight out wrote a church that there must be a wall built metaphorically between government and religion. People should have the opportunity to worship as they desire and the government should not interfere with that worship.
On the other hand, government should function without interference from various and sundry churches.
So I was scanning TPM today and found this gem:
…a GOP candidate (for a Delaware Congressional Seat), Glen Urquhart, appeared in a video yesterday in which he says that Thomas Jefferson was not the origin of the concept of "separation of Church and State." Urquhart says Hitler originated the idea.
"Do you know, where does this phrase separation of Church and State come from? Does anybody know? ... Actually, that's exactly, it was not in Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists. He was reassuring that the federal government wouldn't trample on their religion. The exact phrase 'separation of Church and State' came out of Adolph Hitler's mouth, that's where it comes from. Next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State ask them why they're Nazis."
The worldwide cost of dementia this year will be £388bn in social care, unpaid care by relatives and medical bills, according to a report published today.There are 41 Republican Senators in the United States Senate. Every state is entitled to 2 Senators.
The organisation that commissioned it said dementia would be "the most significant health and social crisis of the 21st century".
The estimate in the World Alzheimer Report 2010 equates to more than 1% of global GDP. If dementia care were a country, it would be the world's 18th largest economy, and if it were a company, it would be the world's biggest by revenue, outstripping Walmart (£267bn) and Exxon Mobil (£200bn).
The authors of the report – academics at King's College, London, and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm – say governments worldwide must follow the example of countries such as England, France and Australia in developing national plans to tackle the problem. Research funders must dramatically boost support to match that provided for heart disease and cancer.
The report was commissioned by Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI), an umbrella organisation of 73 associations, and follows a similar report last year that suggested there were 35.6 million people with dementia worldwide, and that this figure would increase to 65.7 million by 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050.
So you begin a conversation with someone about Senate rules and protocols and your compadre says something like:
What is the name of the Senator who represents Guam?
Well, I mean it might be a good time to order a couple more drinks and discuss the fur business or the most recent entries on the porno sites.
How on earth can you argue with someone who is mentally ill? Especially when that someone is running for a seat in the U.S. Congress?
Dementia must be diagnosed early.
I think they should set up public establishments where individuals teach basic history and such to children before they grow up to run for Congress.
We could call them ‘instruction locales’ or something. Children would be required to appear at their local instruction locales five or six days a week for six hours or so and educated people could be hired to instruct these children on a variety of subjects including arithmetic and history.
That’s all I got.
Monday, September 20, 2010
But what I miss are the rest of the crew--the amateur chefs dishing up everything from hors d'ouvres to desserts. Granted a barf bag was useful on occasion. So I'm glad that a number of cafeterias have sprung up to fill the void.
But there has never been a lack of platform for ideas since the internet began (how recent that was, and how it seems like it has been around forever). Here's one where a good friend of mine writes op-ed pieces.
If you're not familiar with it, I recommend you take a look at it. From OEN your work can spread to print and digital media alike. If you try it, and you get a piece picked up, let us all know, huh?
Here's the home page: OEN NEWS
And here's a link to my friend Don's most recent contribution: http://www.opednews.com/articles/A-Cup-Half-Full-You-Can-Be-by-Donald-de-Fano-100918-203.html
Have a good one.
Every time I hear a football commentator make a lunk-headed statement, I wonder whether he studied at the Ditka School of Broadcasting. Joe Buck, for instance, on Fox Sunday before the New York Giants played the Carolina Panthers: “You have to do well on third downs.” Well, yes, you do, because you’ve only got three downs in which to do something before you either punt or try to kick a field goal. But if you “do well” on first down and second down–or at least do better than your opponent–you don’t have to worry as much about third downs.
I gather that football is a physical game. Barra points out that the members of the team dedicated to the front line each weigh in at about 320 pounds. The sounds that reach us over the airwaves these days are so sharp that you are able to hear every contact on the field. And you also hear the groaning of the players during and following each and every collision between these giants.
Chemistry Is Important
Barra points out that you will hear the play by play men speak of chemistry amongst the players. It is a stupid metaphor as far as I am concerned but it is based upon the fact that if you mix a beaker of A with a beaker of B you will end up with some chemical reaction and a substance that is more than just A & B.
So as the metaphor goes, a good pass receiver combined with a good quarterback gives you more than just a receiver and a quarterback.
Of course where real chemistry comes into relevance here has to do with the players themselves. In order to build a monster that can play on that front line, many substances must be used. These Frankenstein monsters have bigger frames and heartier musculature through better chemistry.
The Team With the Best Defense Wins
Barra’s play by play on all of this can be rather humorous:
If ex-players often seem nebulous, coaches can sound as if they have a head full of concrete. Mike Ditka, who doesn’t seem to have had a new idea about football since Fred Flintstone strapped on his helmet for the Green Bay Pachyderms, said on ESPN before Sunday’s Detroit Lions-Chicago Bears game that, “The team that plays the best defense is going to win this one.” This is the kind of prediction that sounds intelligent because it can never been wrong. The team that plays the better defense–in terms of giving up the fewest points–always wins, and sure enough, Ditka’s former team, “Da Bears,” gave up only 14 points to the Lions’ 19.John Madden of course is my favorite color commentator of all time.
I think the powers that be in the MSM should ‘shake it up’ a bit.
Now Madden, with two Superbowl rings as a one time football coach, has retired from broadcasting.
But I think they should bring him back as a color commentator following the normal Sunday interviews where nothing is revealed except the talking points of the interviewee and the incompetence of the interviewer. I mean put the guy right on the ABC panel with George Will and Robert Reich. It would go something like this, I should think:
George Will: The Democrats are in terrible straights and in my humble opinion, the Republicans will take over the House of Representatives as well as the Senate and they will SHUT DOWN THIS HORRENDOUS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
John Madden: Well the Senate has a hundred ‘seats’ as they say—although they really mean that it takes 100 butts to fill the chairs in the Senate Chamber. Can I say butts on these kind of shows? Hahahahaahahhahahha Anyway…
But it says here on this card; the card they gave me that there are 37 Senate seats up for grabs—as they say in the gallery hahahahah—and the linky thingy says that amounts to 19 Democratic butts and 18 Republican butts.
Now so far the dems are dropping balls all over the place. And the republicans are moving their balls down toward the end zone; even though they aint much for gay things.
Now if I were a dem leader, well I would not settle for some quarterback sneak…no, no, no
What I would demand is a v shaped offensive line—of course the dems have to get the ball back first because having an offensive line stratagem is just not going to work at all without the ball.
Now now now the dems have to take that ball down the field cause after four downs it just gets turned over to the other side.
And you have to hold on to the ball while you are proceeding toward that end zone.
George Will: Actually I am a baseball fan. And I believe that this country cannot get back to basics unless and until the Republicans bring in a good reliever and I mean a good reliever not one of those temps that the White Sox or Red Sox bring up from the minors because their main relievers are suffering from fatigue during the last 20 game stretch of the season and….
Peggy Noonan: Well I am in a womens’ softball league. We have soooo very much fun….
David Brooks: Will you shut the frick up bitch?
John Madden: But once you get into that end zone, I mean not way into the end zone but but but but but just over the line that separates the field from the end zone cause you know that once you break that invisible wall with the ball in your protective custody—I like that word because it sounds, well it sounds legal and stuff—you get points and you cannot win a football game without points and the democrats need points desperately.
Well you get the idea. I am so damn sick of hearing the same tired crap from the ‘pundits’ on MSNBC (except for Ed and Keith and Rachel of course).
Oh the dems are going down oh the dems are going to lose control of both Houses of Congress unless the dems only lose the House of Representative and keep a 51 seat majority…..blah blah blah
Oh the dems could lose California and West Virginia and Delaware and …..
This all gets so very tedious at times.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I hate calling the former President of the United States a twerp, but I have called President Bush an idiot and President Clinton a Republican, so the rubicon has been crossed.
In the world of the less mystical, though, hineni means that punditry and hand wringing aside, we remain dedicated to the causes that have brought us together here and elsewhere, that elected Franklin Roosevelt to alter government's mission in 1932, that elected Harry Truman to tell Republicans that the immediate postwar period was not a time to turn back, but to move forward into the greatest period of prosperity the nation has ever known, that elected Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to carry that mission to its next logical place, and, finally to elect President Obama to restore our country as the place of hope and dreams and progress and the example to the world of what can be done when people work together.
Over the past weeks, the President has (belatedly, yes) made that point as forcefully and as clearly as it can ever be made, and his comments this week were the most direct we have heard in a long time.
You have every right to keep the heat on me and keep the heat on the Democrats, and I hope you do. That's how our political process works. (Applause.)
But don’t forget who is standing with you, and who is standing against you. (Applause.) Don’t ever believe that this election coming up doesn’t matter. Don’t forget who secured health care for 4 million children, including the children of legal immigrants. Don’t forget who won new Pell Grants... Don’t forget who fought for credit card reform, a new agency to protect consumers from predatory lending, and protections for folks who send remittances back home. Don’t forget who cut taxes for working families. Don’t forget who your friends are.
This is a tough election season. People are hurting and they are understandably frustrated. And a lot of them are scared. And a lot of them are anxious. And that means that even when people don’t have ideas, if they’ve got enough money behind them, they may be able to convince some folks that, you know what, just cast a protest vote, throw the bums out. That’s a mentality that has an appeal. And you can’t blame folks for feeling that way sometime. But that’s not a future for our country, a country that’s more divided, that’s more unequal, that’s less dynamic, where we’re falling behind in everything from investment in infrastructure to investment in R&D. That’s not a vision for the future..
And if that’s not a future you accept for this nation, if that’s not the future you want for your kids and for your grandkids, then we are asking you for help in this election.
Because if you don’t think the stakes are large -- and I want you to consider this -- right now, all across the country, special interests are planning and running millions of dollars of attack ads against Democratic candidates. Because last year, there was a Supreme Court decision called Citizens United. They’re allowed to spend as much as they want without ever revealing who’s paying for the ads. That’s exactly what they’re doing. Millions of dollars. And the groups are benign-sounding: Americans for Prosperity. Who’s against that? Or Committee for Truth in Politics. Or Americans for Apple Pie. Moms for Motherhood. I made those last two up.
None of them will disclose who’s paying for these ads. You don’t know if it’s a Wall Street bank. You don’t know if it’s a big oil company. You don’t know if it’s an insurance company. You don’t even know if it’s a foreign-controlled entity.
In some races, they are spending more money than the candidates.... They’re spending more money than the parties. They want to take Congress back and return to the days where lobbyists wrote the laws. It is the most insidious power grab since the monopolies of the Gilded Age. That’s happening right now. So there’s a lot of talk about populist anger and grassroots. But that’s not what’s driving a lot of these elections.
We tried to fix this, but the leaders of the other party wouldn’t even allow it to come up for a vote. They want to keep the public in the dark. They want to serve the special interests that served them so well over the last 19 months.
We will not let them. We are not about to allow a corporate takeover of our democracy. We’re not about to go back to the days when special interests took advantage of Main Street families. We’re not going to go back to the days when insurance companies wrote the rules that let you languish without health care because you had a preexisting condition. We’re not going to go back to the exact same agenda we had before I took office.
A lot has changed since that last election, but what hasn’t changed is the choice facing this country. It is still fear versus hope. It is still the past versus the future. It is still a choice between sliding backwards and moving forward. That is what this election is about. That’s the choice you will face in November
He is, as so often he is, very right. The election is not about whether Muslims should be allowed to build on property they own, even if it is close to a place where other Muslims attacked our country and killed innocent people who were just trying to go to work. It is not about whether government should enforce what some people call "family values" (and, by the way, it is hard to ignore that they hold their family values forum on a day when Jews are otherwise occupied).
The election is not about whether the President's strategy in dealing with Congress was right or wrong or whether he was naive in trying to find a way to gain the support of Republicans. It is not about whether Vice President Cheney belongs in prison or not, whether you agree with every position the Justice Department takes in litigation against the United States, or with the conduct of the wars your fellow countrymen and women wholeheartedly supported when they begun, though some of that support was obtained through lies and fear.
It is, though, partly about what has happened to the Republican Party. There have been bumpy times before, but today, where one of two major political parties shows no interest in governing, and is solely interested in scoring political points, is a real low point in American history and, very possibly it is a dangerous one.
Yes, the rhetoric against the New Deal was as incendiary, if not more so, than what we hear today, nobody seriously considering filibusters to stop it, though the votes were there at least in the Senate elected with President Roosevelt in 1932. Even the well more than two-thirds Democratic controlled Senate elected in 1934 because the majority was built on he pre-Civil Rights Act "solid south" whose members were hostile to the New Deal which provoked the President to, unwisely as it turned out, to try to run alternative candidates to unseat them.
The limitations on what a president can do alone, even a President Roosevelt, even in the midst of a Depression, underscore what our current president is up against. It is a country which disdains facts and science, for hokum and posturing, so that off the wall claims that global warming is no threat, despite scientific evidence that it is, make it impossible to respond in a meaningful way. More immediately significantly, the Congress we have now, and certainly the one we will have in January, has, we are told has "no appetite" for new government spending, despite the overwhelming unemployment we continue to endure with no end, and no alternative plan, in sight.
The New Deal was born of an American altruism, a desire to do right by our citizens, but also, and perhaps more importantly, by a fear that a continuation of our decline could lead to the same revolutions which brought fascism and communism to Europe in the aftermath of the first world war. The movers and shakers, at least those not obsessed with trying to make as much as quickly as possible, knew the need for radical changes in the relationship of the federal government to the states and to the people and even if they nominally opposed the New Deal, were unwilling to get in the way. (The more insulated Supreme Court did not quite follow along, until the President's threats caused some retirements and reconsideration.)
As Paul Krugman has explained, by the time World War II ended, the changes wrought by the New Deal were accepted by both parties, and the prosperity ushered in during that period is the one we so miss today. The Great Reagan and his evil acolyte, Newt Gingrich led the way to dismantling this consensus, aided by timid and weak faux (non-New Deal, and southern born) Democratic presidents.
So, today, there are no wise heads in the Republican Party, or at least none with any influence. They have either given in (Sen McCain), tried to fade into the woodwork (Lugar, Collins, Snowe), left office (Whitman of New Jersey, Hagel, Chaffee) or flat out switched parties (Spector). What's left is just more noise.
If none of this moves you enough to vote and urge others to do so, you are a lost cause. You have, for the moment, a constitutional right to complain about what follows, but I have a constitutional right to simply sneer right back at you.
This is a time to show that we are still here and that we will not let our country slide into becoming another backward state. To again borrow from Murrow's warnings about another crisis at another time, and to paraphrase his message:
This is no time for [those who do not like the direction of our politics] to keep silent.... We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities.
One final note: In a fairly simple sense for the blogging world hineni also means this. I am here. If the beloved TPM Cafe has closed to those of us who do not pontificate for a living, or who have otherwise attracted the attention of TPM's overseers, Barth and his alter ego will live on: at the obviously difficult Daily Kos, and Barth's homebase, The Public Servant in the same way as for the past few years.
These ravings of a lunatic will, at least for the time being, also appear at three places either discovered or recently discovered the wake of the demise of the TPM Cafe: Once Upon a TPM, TPMAholics and Dagblog. All three are quite worthwhile places to graze upon wisdom and to feed upon great and insightful writing, and are worth visiting even without the stuff thrown about under this name.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I do not know what it's like to be discriminated against because of my skin color or accent. I have never had that experience. Oh I have been razzed for being a geek and rather nerdy. But I have never had people decide I am of a lower species because of my skin color or racial background. So I cannot say I can identify with those who have. So for me to come out and attempt to have some sincerity concerning the issues that face those who have would be phony at best. That does not mean that I do not support them. On the contrary, it is because I cannot truly relate that I need to.
Synchronicity and I were talking in Chat the other night about John Boehner and ways that we could help prevent him from taking the House. We suddenly came up with the brilliant idea to create a Facebook page. So, without further ado, may I introduce you to it:
Yesterday we started with about 4 fans. Today we have over a hundred. Won’t you please visit the page if you haven’t done so already, and if you are a Facebook user please share it with your friends. If you don’t use Facebook, please copy the link anyway and feel free to email it or to post it in comments around the web. Synchronicity has been advertising it in comments at HuffPo and has gotten some great feedback. We’d appreciate it if you’d help us in our efforts to get this link out. Thanks so much.
(Cross-posted at Once Upon a TPM)