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R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 29, 2005 - 11:51am

Dumb Dems Let GOP Run Wild
The unholy combination of theocracy and plutocracy that now rules this country is, in fact, enabled by dumb liberals
By Molly Ivins, AlterNet
Being of the populist persuasion, I am a terminal fan of Thomas Frank, who has gone from "What's the Matter With Kansas?" to "What's the Matter With Liberals?" in the current issue of the New York Review of Books, which is a good spot for it.

Those of us in the beer-drinking, pick-up-truck-driving, country-music-listening school of liberals in the hinterlands particularly appreciate his keen dissection of how the Republicans use class resentment against "elitist liberals," while waging class warfare on people who work for a living.

The unholy combination of theocracy and plutocracy that now rules this country is, in fact, enabled by dumb liberals. Many a weary liberal on the Internet and elsewhere has been involved in the tedious study of the entrails from the last election, trying to figure out where Democrats went wrong. I don't have a dog in that fight, but I can guarantee you where they're going wrong for the next election: 73 Democratic House members and 18 Democratic senators voted for that hideous bankruptcy "reform" bill that absolutely screws regular people.

And it's not just consumers who were screwed by the lobbyist-written bill. The Wall Street Journal shows small businesses are also getting the shaft, as the finance industry charges them higher and higher transaction fees. If Democrats aren't going to stand up for regular people, to hell with them.

Now here's some populist lagniappe (that's a word us populists often use) for you to chew on.

The Economic Policy Institute reports the economic well-being of middle-class families has declined between 2000 and 2003 for three reasons: the generally lousy economy, the Bush tax policies and the cost of health care.

Pre-tax incomes for middle-class families of every type (children, young singles, seniors, single mothers) are down, leaving the typical household with $1,535 less income in 2003 than in 2000, a drop of 3.4 percent.

After taking into account changes in both pre-tax incomes and taxes, the finding remains that most middle-class families lost ground between 2000 and 2003. This is true for married couples with children, elderly couples and young singles, although single mothers did gain 1.9 percent because of the greater refundability of child tax credits.

Family spending on higher insurance co-pays, deductibles and premiums escalated, rising three times faster than income for those married with children, absorbing half the growth of their income.

The Tax Justice Network recently reported the world's richest individuals have placed $11.5 trillion in assets in offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes, a sum 10 times the GDP of Great Britain. The most authoritative study yet done shows that rich people clip $860 billion in coupons a year off this money.

"Governments appear unable, or unwilling, to prevent the rich employing aggressive strategies to minimize their tax liabilities," said the Observer of Britain. We can emphasize the "unwilling" with this administration.

The ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay reached 301-to-one in 2003. The average worker takes home $517 a week, while the average CEO earns $155,796, according to BusinessWeek. In 1982, the ratio was 42-to-one.

Dialogue between President Bush and a citizen during a February meeting in Nebraska, where Bush was trying to sell his scheme to privatize Social Security:

Woman: "That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute."

Bush: "You work three jobs?"

Woman: "Three jobs, yes."

Bush: "Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)"

One out of every two jobs created in the United States over the past 12 months was taken by a worker over 55. Economist Dean Baker says the flood of older workers is caused by the falling value of retirees' 401(k)s and the cost of health care.

The number of long-term unemployed who are college graduates has nearly tripled since 2000. Nearly one in five of the long-term jobless are college graduates, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a brand-new study out showing the uneven division of the fruits of the supposed economic recovery:

"The data show that the share of real income growth that has gone to wages and salaries has been smaller than during any other comparable post-World War II recovery period, while the share of real income growth that has gone to corporate profits has been larger than during all other comparable post-World War II recoveries."

In previous recoveries, workers got an average of 49 percent of the national income gains, while corporate profits got 18 percent. This time, the workers are getting 23 percent and the corporations are getting 44 percent -- about one half as much as the share that has gone to corporate profits.

None of that apply to you? Good. Go listen to Tom DeLay give another lecture on moral values.

Molly Ivins is a best-selling author and columnist who writes about politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings.


R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 19, 2005 - 6:24pm

ankhara99 wrote:
But, (watch as Joni dons her Optimists cap) at least they stopped it from going straight to the floor. At least they got more time to investigate the claims against him. At least they didn't just roll over.

Personally, I'm going to write to all of them (including Voinovich) and thank them for preserving what the committee is supposed to be doing!

Whew! Optimism can take a lot out of you. ;)
Sure, always good to see some dissent...

they did delay till next month, due to new allegations..." target="_blank">

ankhara99 Avatar

Location: Over the Rainbow
Gender: Female

Posted: Apr 19, 2005 - 5:59pm

RichardPrins wrote:

Though further questioning seems to have been suspended/stopped, and the slightly dissenting Rep. said they would most likely vote for anyway (after all, it's the Prez's choice). So, all in all, it looks likely to go ahead...

But, (watch as Joni dons her Optimists cap) at least they stopped it from going straight to the floor. At least they got more time to investigate the claims against him. At least they didn't just roll over.

Personally, I'm going to write to all of them (including Voinovich) and thank them for preserving what the committee is supposed to be doing!

Whew! Optimism can take a lot out of you. ;)

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 19, 2005 - 3:07pm

ankhara99 wrote:
I've been watching C-Span on the Bolton nomination. Its nice to see the Dems stand up to do further investigation of him. And, thankfully, at least one Rep joined them.
(click here)

Though further questioning seems to have been suspended/stopped, and the slightly dissenting Rep. said they would most likely vote for anyway (after all, it's the Prez's choice). So, all in all, it looks likely to go ahead...

ankhara99 Avatar

Location: Over the Rainbow
Gender: Female

Posted: Apr 19, 2005 - 1:50pm

I've been watching C-Span on the Bolton nomination. Its nice to see the Dems stand up to do further investigation of him. And, thankfully, at least one Rep joined them.
(click here)

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 18, 2005 - 9:26pm

coding_to_music wrote:
A Radical in the White House
NY Times

Last week - April 12, to be exact - was the 60th anniversary of the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Quite different from today's Amerika... and he (FDR) echoed some of the progress that was made like roughly 50 years before him in the Populist era (which happens to be where I am at now with Zinn. And the next chapter coincidentally starts with: "Theodore Roosevelt wrote to a friend in the year 1897: "In strict confidence ... I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one.")...

coding_to_music Avatar

Location: Beantown
Gender: Male

Posted: Apr 18, 2005 - 9:16pm

A Radical in the White House
NY Times

Last week - April 12, to be exact - was the 60th anniversary of the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. "I have a terrific headache," he said, before collapsing at the Little White House in Warm Springs, Ga. He died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage on the 83rd day of his fourth term as president. His hold on the nation was such that most Americans, stunned by the announcement of his death that spring afternoon, reacted as though they had lost a close relative.

That more wasn't made of this anniversary is not just a matter of time; it's a measure of the distance the U.S. has traveled from the egalitarian ideals championed by F.D.R. His goal was "to make a country in which no one is left out." That kind of thinking has long since been consigned to the political dumpster. We're now in the age of Bush, Cheney and DeLay, small men committed to the concentration of big bucks in the hands of the fortunate few.

To get a sense of just how radical Roosevelt was (compared with the politics of today), consider the State of the Union address he delivered from the White House on Jan. 11, 1944. He was already in declining health and, suffering from a cold, he gave the speech over the radio in the form of a fireside chat.

After talking about the war, which was still being fought on two fronts, the president offered what should have been recognized immediately for what it was, nothing less than a blueprint for the future of the United States. It was the clearest statement I've ever seen of the kind of nation the U.S. could have become in the years between the end of World War II and now. Roosevelt referred to his proposals in that speech as "a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race or creed."

Among these rights, he said, are:

"The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.

"The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.

"The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.

"The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.

"The right of every family to a decent home.

"The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.

"The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.

"The right to a good education."

I mentioned this a few days ago to an acquaintance who is 30 years old. She said, "Wow, I can't believe a president would say that."

Roosevelt's vision gave conservatives in both parties apoplexy in 1944 and it would still drive them crazy today. But the truth is that during the 1950's and 60's the nation made substantial progress toward his wonderfully admirable goals, before the momentum of liberal politics slowed with the war in Vietnam and the election in 1968 of Richard Nixon.

It wouldn't be long before Ronald Reagan was, as the historian Robert Dallek put it, attacking Medicare as "the advance wave of socialism" and Dick Cheney, from a seat in Congress, was giving the thumbs down to Head Start. Mr. Cheney says he has since seen the light on Head Start. But his real idea of a head start is to throw government money at people who already have more cash than they know what to do with. He's one of the leaders of the G.O.P. gang (the members should all wear masks) that has executed a wholesale transfer of wealth via tax cuts from working people to the very rich.

Roosevelt was far from a perfect president, but he gave hope and a sense of the possible to a nation in dire need. And he famously warned against giving in to fear.

The nation is now in the hands of leaders who are experts at exploiting fear, and indifferent to the needs and hopes, even the suffering, of ordinary people.

"The test of our progress," said Roosevelt, "is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

Sixty years after his death we should be raising a toast to F.D.R. and his progressive ideas. And we should take that opportunity to ask: How in the world did we allow ourselves to get from there to here?


R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 18, 2005 - 1:11pm

Progressive Dems win antiwar resolution
After a lively three-day battle at the annual Democratic convention in Los Angeles last weekend, 2,000 California Democrats passed a resolution calling for an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The resolution, which was successful despite intense pressure from more hawkish Democrats to water down or derail it, demands that U.S. troops withdraw "at the earliest possible time."

The California antiwar resolution was the brainchild of a group of grassroots Democratic peace activists, including the spanking new Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). This resolution represents a far stronger position than that taken by the national Democratic Party during the 2004 presidential campaign. Progressives say the struggle for its passage is a potential model for parties in other states as the national party seeks to contain antiwar forces among its rank-and-file.


drH Avatar

Location: Bush's Amerika
Gender: Male

Posted: Apr 16, 2005 - 11:18am

A good piece by Armando (with whom I often disagree) over at DailyKos:
Passive Aggression

I have noticed a fair amount of criticism from the Lefty blogs and many kossacks of the Democratic leadership's approach to the political and legislative battles we have faced so far this year.

Pick your issue - Rice, Gonzales, the Class Action Bill, the Bankruptcy Bill, Bolton, Schiavo and now the Frist Jihad, and there are many smart Dems who think the Dem leadership has mishandled, even bungled, these issues.

I disagree. I think we must keep in mind two essential points when evaluating the decisions made by our Dem leadership:

First, we are in the minority. We do not have any control over the agenda. For that reason, Dems are necessarily in a reactive mode. Dems must react to the initiatives of the majority GOP on legislative matters. There simply is no other way. I hear much talk of how Dems must lay out a positive agenda. My reaction is - not yet. Why? Because the election is next year. No agenda proposed by the Democrats has any chance of even being debated (other than "compromises" with the GOP, see Nelson, Ben, Lieberman, Joe), much less voted on. It will be less than meaningless - because you give the GOP a chance to react to what you will propose.

Second, the Democratic Party has for some time lost the image battles with the GOP. Dems fight a negative image in most respects while the GOP has escaped the negative consequences of their extreme Right Wing agenda and constituencies.

But opportunity knocks. With the Schiavo travesty, the DeLay scandals and now with Frist's Nuclear Jihad, the unmasking of the the extreme Right Wing fringe-controlled Republican Party is a real possibility.

I'm a broken record with this, but I will repeat it again here. Lincoln 1860 is the strategy for us. And the tactical situation is primed for its use:
But you say you are conservative - eminently conservative - while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;" while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. . . . Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century within which our Government originated. Consider, then, whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and your charge or destructiveness against us, are based on the most clear and stable foundations. ... Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.
There's more.

drH Avatar

Location: Bush's Amerika
Gender: Male

Posted: Apr 16, 2005 - 11:14am

RichardPrins wrote:

Bad. Very bad. No doubt about it.

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 16, 2005 - 11:13am

73 Democrats Side With Credit Card Industry Over Consumers

coding_to_music Avatar

Location: Beantown
Gender: Male

Posted: Apr 16, 2005 - 10:09am

Dean Says Democrats Will Make Schiavo Case an Election Issue
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's role in the end-of-life debate will be a main target, the DNC chairman says at a West Hollywood breakfast.">(click here)

By Michael Finnegan
LA Times Staff Writer

April 16, 2005

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Friday that his party would wield the Terri Schiavo case against Republicans in the 2006 and 2008 elections, but for now needed to stay focused battling President Bush on Social Security.

"We're going to use Terri Schiavo later on," Dean said of the brain-damaged Floridian who died last month after her feeding tube was removed amid a swarm of political controversy.

Dean, who has called congressional intervention in the Schiavo case "political grandstanding," singled out House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) for his leading role in the matter.

"This is going to be an issue in 2006, and it's going to be an issue in 2008," Dean told about 200 people at a gay rights group's breakfast in West Hollywood, "because we're going to have an ad with a picture of Tom DeLay saying, 'Do you want this guy to decide whether you die or not? Or is that going to be up to your loved ones?' "

Dean, a practicing physician until he became governor of Vermont in 1991, added: "The issue is: Are we going to live in a theocracy where the highest powers tell us what to do? Or are we going to be allowed to consult our own high powers when we make very difficult decisions?"

Before Schiavo's death, the Republican-controlled Congress passed legislation giving her parents the right to take action in federal court to have her feeding tube reinserted, but no judge intervened. Schiavo's husband had fought for years to withdraw the tube, arguing that she would not have wanted her life extended.

Although Democrats voted for the measure, Dean said it provided an opportunity to showcase what he called Republican intrusiveness in the lives of Americans.

The former presidential candidate said he had purposely avoided emphasizing the Schiavo case in recent weeks because Democrats needed "message discipline." In this case, he said, that means sticking to the fight against Bush's push to allow private investment accounts for Social Security benefits.

Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said Dean's "outrageous remarks help underscore why Dean is the leader of the minority party."

"Terri Schiavo was never about partisan politicking, but instead about a woman's life," she said.

The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Florida) resigned this month after acknowledging he had written a memo calling the Schiavo case "a great political issue" for Republicans.

In his breakfast speech, sponsored by Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality, Dean also took issue with fellow Democrats who had voted for proposed constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage.

"What I really object to is Democrats who support the constitutional ban, because I think putting in constitutional discrimination in either the United States Constitution or individual state constitutions is wrong," said Dean, who as governor of Vermont signed into law a measure authorizing same-sex civil unions.

During his campaign for the Democratic chairmanship in January, some of the unease among party operatives over his candidacy stemmed from concerns he would criticize its elected officials. Last year, 36 Democrats in the House and three Democrats in the Senate voted for a Republican-sponsored constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriage. The measure did not pass.


coding_to_music Avatar

Location: Beantown
Gender: Male

Posted: Apr 15, 2005 - 4:40am

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean answers a question while meeting with delegates at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting in Washington, February 11, 2005. Democratic Party activists, recovering from a stinging November election loss and a fresh round of soul-searching, rallied around Dean on Friday and promised a grass-roots drive to make the party competitive in the South, Midwest and Mountain states.

Democrats and the Politics of Opposition (Click to listen)
Democrats and the Politics of Opposition
Hosted by Warren Olney
Howard Dean speaks at the DNC winter meeting
SANTA MONICA, CA (2005-04-14) After 10 years as the minority on Capitol Hill, Democrats have decided the best way to assert themselves is by opposing all things Republican. After the Terri Schiavo intervention, ethical questions about Tom DeLay, and the lack of public support for changing Social Security, they're accusing GOP of being out of control, abusing their power and protecting themselves from accountability. It's the same claim Republicans made when the Democrats were in power, but the Republicans also pushed the "Contract with America." Will the Democrats follow up with their own agenda or continue to just say "No?" We hear from journalists, Congressional Democrats and Republicans and the Democratic National Committee.
Congressman Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, was first elected in 1980. Congressman John Culberson, a Republican from Texas, is serving his third term in the same seat once held by President Bush, Sr.. John Nichols is Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine and author, most recently, of Against the Beast, a history of American opposition to empire. Susan Turnbull is Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee.


coding_to_music Avatar

Location: Beantown
Gender: Male

Posted: Mar 30, 2005 - 11:53am

Via NYTimes
A Party Inverted

FIVE months after the presidential election Democrats are still pointing fingers at one another and trying to figure out why Republicans won. Was the problem the party's position on social issues or taxes or defense or what? Were there tactical errors made in the conduct of the campaign? Were the right advisers heard? Was the candidate flawed?

Before deciding what Democrats should do now, it's important to see what Republicans have done right over many years. When the Goldwater Republicans lost in 1964, they didn't try to become Democrats. They tried to figure out how to make their own ideas more appealing to the voters. As part of this effort, they turned to Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and soon to become a member of the United States Supreme Court. In 1971 he wrote a landmark memo for the United States Chamber of Commerce in which he advocated a sweeping, coordinated and long-term effort to spread conservative ideas on college campuses, in academic journals and in the news media.

To further the party's ideological and political goals, Republicans in the 1970's and 1980's built a comprehensive structure based on Powell's blueprint. Visualize that structure as a pyramid.

You've probably heard some of this before, but let me run through it again. Big individual donors and large foundations - the Scaife family and Olin foundations, for instance - form the base of the pyramid. They finance conservative research centers like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, entities that make up the second level of the pyramid.

The ideas these organizations develop are then pushed up to the third level of the pyramid - the political level. There, strategists like Karl Rove or Ralph Reed or Ken Mehlman take these new ideas and, through polling, focus groups and careful attention to Democratic attacks, convert them into language that will appeal to the broadest electorate. That language is sometimes in the form of an assault on Democrats and at other times in the form of advocacy for a new policy position. The development process can take years. And then there's the fourth level of the pyramid: the partisan news media. Conservative commentators and networks spread these finely honed ideas.

At the very top of the pyramid you'll find the president. Because the pyramid is stable, all you have to do is put a different top on it and it works fine.

It is not quite the "right wing conspiracy" that Hillary Clinton described, but it is an impressive organization built consciously, carefully and single-mindedly. The Ann Coulters and Grover Norquists don't want to be candidates for anything or cabinet officers for anyone. They know their roles and execute them because they're paid well and believe, I think, in what they're saying. True, there's lots of money involved, but the money makes a difference because it goes toward reinforcing a structure that is already stable.

To understand how the Democratic Party works, invert the pyramid. Imagine a pyramid balancing precariously on its point, which is the presidential candidate.

Democrats who run for president have to build their own pyramids all by themselves. There is no coherent, larger structure that they can rely on. Unlike Republicans, they don't simply have to assemble a campaign apparatus - they have to formulate ideas and a vision, too. Many Democratic fundraisers join a campaign only after assessing how well it has done in assembling its pyramid of political, media and idea people.

There is no clearly identifiable funding base for Democratic policy organizations, and in the frantic campaign rush there is no time for patient, long-term development of new ideas or of new ways to sell old ideas. Campaigns don't start thinking about a Democratic brand until halfway through the election year, by which time winning the daily news cycle takes precedence over building a consistent message. The closest that Democrats get to a brand is a catchy slogan.

Democrats choose this approach, I believe, because we are still hypnotized by Jack Kennedy, and the promise of a charismatic leader who can change America by the strength and style of his personality. The trouble is that every four years the party splits and rallies around several different individuals at once. Opponents in the primaries then exaggerate their differences and leave the public confused about what Democrats believe.

In such a system tactics trump strategy. Candidates don't risk talking about big ideas because the ideas have never been sufficiently tested. Instead they usually wind up arguing about minor issues and express few deep convictions. In the worst case, they embrace "Republican lite" platforms - never realizing that in doing so they're allowing the Republicans to define the terms of the debate.

A party based on charisma has no long-term impact. Think of our last charismatic leader, Bill Clinton. He was president for eight years. He was the first Democrat to be re-elected since Franklin Roosevelt. He was smart, skilled and possessed great energy. But what happened? At the end of his tenure in the most powerful office in the world, there were fewer Democratic governors, fewer Democratic senators, members of Congress and state legislators and a national party that was deep in debt. The president did well. The party did not. Charisma didn't translate into structure.

If Democrats are serious about preparing for the next election or the next election after that, some influential Democrats will have to resist entrusting their dreams to individual candidates and instead make a commitment to build a stable pyramid from the base up. It will take at least a decade's commitment, and it won't come cheap. But there really is no other choice.

Bill Bradley, a former Democratic senator from New Jersey, is a managing director of Allen & Company.

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