Saturday, March 7, 2009

Black & Brown Are the New Colors in Today’s Politics


That’s right. Now that Barack Obama is President, black and brown are the new colors in today’s politics. Yes, I’ve said it. On the surface, it appears to be a good thing, but considering the folks coming out of the woodwork these days, maybe not so much.

First, let me say that Barack Obama is a “one of a kind who shocks your mind.” He is a one-of-a-kind achiever.

Actually, there have been a number of one-of-a-kind achievers: Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Dubois, Marian Anderson, Ralph Bunche, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Lorraine Hansberry, Jackie Robinson, Mae Jamison, Oprah Winfrey; just to name a few, an exhaustive list that Obama is now a member. Obama’s campaign for president is unprecedented and certainly, his presidency has set goal posts and unlimited boundaries for everyone in this country, whether they are black, brown, yellow or white.

Here is my recipe for one-of-a-kind achievers: An achiever manages to lead the way in a specific field of endeavor and transcends under the bleakest circumstances. They believe in a universe of unlimited possibilities, and are undaunted by any problems and challenges by accomplishing “firsts.” Always rising beyond obstacles, they set goals and forge ahead. There is joy in living meaningfully, with a clear purpose that uses their creative intelligence.

Having said that, we have begun to swim into some murky waters as of late. I say this because recently, people like Republican National Committee Chairperson Michael Steele, Senator Roland Burris of Illinois, Former Ambassador Alan Keyes and Governor Bobby Jindal (who I have ceremoniously lumped into the “brown” category), have somehow surfaced from the obscure to the surreal as the new “black and brown” in politics. They've tried, unmercifully, to compare themselves to Barack Obama in an attempt to sneak on my list of one-of-a-kind achievers.

Let’s look at Michael Steele. Yes, he has managed a couple of firsts.

Steele was the first African American Republican to serve in a statewide office in Maryland as the Lieutenant Governor for Governor Ehrlich of Maryland, from 2003 to 2007. As a matter of fact, Steele likes to tout that from 2003 to 2005, he was the highest-ranking elected African American in the United States (Jennette Bradley of Ohio, served from 2005 to 2007 as Ohio State Treasurer) “before there was a Barack Obama.” He’s also the first African American to chair the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the second to chair either major U.S. party's National Committee after Ron Brown, who chaired the Democratic National Committee (DNC) from 1989-1993.

Even though Maryland traditionally votes Democratic and had not elected a Republican governor in almost 40 years, Governor Ehrlich won the race, defeating Democratic opponent former Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend by 51% of the vote. Townsend lost because she was tied into former Governor Glendening’s failures, coupled with a poor campaign strategy. Governor Ehrlich, who ran for re-election in 2006, was the only incumbent governor to be defeated in the November 2006 elections. Steele was out of a job.

In 2004, Steele was tapped to speak at the Republican National Convention, eliciting comparisons with Barack Obama's keynote address at the Democratic convention that quickly anointed him as the new black guy on the right. After losing both Lieutenant Governor and the 2006 Senate seat in Maryland (no surprise there), in order to keep his name in the public’s eye, Steele began spending an exorbitant amount of time developing himself as a professional Repug pundit by appearing on numerous cable news and talk shows.

Steele vigorously campaigned and won the Republic National Committee (RNC) chair. Once elected he had big plans for the RNC. He believed in developing a 50-state strategy, and to make better use of the internet and other technology to spread a GOP message that engages youth (college students), blacks and other minorities on a permanent basis, not just during election time.

Oh my God? Does this sound familiar? Wait! Didn’t Howard Dean successfully create and implement this very same strategy for the DNC, which ultimately paid huge dividends for the Democrats in 2006 and 2008? Okay, so maybe Steele’s ideas are a tad “unoriginal,” but at least it’s been proven effective.

In his first month as RNC chair, Steele decided to reorganize the RNC by firing everyone on staff, yet he has neglected to replace key positions with advisors that could help him during this build-up period and to keep him in line with his message.

So Steele’s missteps on CNN with D.L. Hughley weren’t a surprise. In fact, it came after a series of other poorly received public statements. He first warned the president that the Repugs plan to give the Democrats a run for their money in every community in America. Then he suggested the party might take revenge on the three GOP moderate senators who supported the stimulus bill. In an attempt to appeal to the black community and specifically, black youth, Steele began promoting a planned “hip-hop” overhaul of the GOP, which was not only painfully phony, but a big reach from what the Repugs had come to represent these past 40 years. He also publicly threatened Repugs who might oppose his plans within the party. Obviously, Steele forgot who he was working for and started acting like a “big black buck.” Translation? An independent thinking black man. And regardless of whether you agreed with him or not, you had to admire his chutzpah.

But it was on Hughley’s show that Steele imploded in front of a national audience. First, Steele attacked Rush Limbaugh. Second, Steele didn’t challenge Hughley when he stated that last year’s Republican National Convention “literally looked like Nazi Germany. It really did.” While the Rushies lost their minds, Repug insiders were abhorred that Steele didn’t challenge Hughley’s comparison of the Repugs to the Nazis. Oh well. (As a sidebar, Hughley quit his show. Did it have to do with the Nazi remark? Who knows?)

But of course now, the Repugs want blood and are already talking about unseating Steele. Having seen what other Repugs have done, such as Sarah Palin’s fear mongering, Obama Waffles; and Watermelon email, which I believe is far worse than the “Nazi” reference, it's likely Steele’s fellow Repugs are using this as an excuse to get rid of someone they never wanted in the first place. They already succeeded in forcing Steele to kiss Limbaugh’s big fat smelly ass in public, knocking Steele down a peg or two from his “big black buck” status.

In choosing their new black hope, Steele's selection was based on his ability to skillfully represent the Repugs in the media. But for some, he went too far – Steele didn’t’ realize what we already knew – he was only supposed to undergo changes that fit within the current constraints of the party line. So far, I think it’s safe to say we have seen little evidence of any improvement with the Repugs. Three words from me: “Bye-Bye Steele.”

Then there is poor old Roland Burris of Illinois, a left over from the old Chicago Democratic machine that has dominated politics since the 1930s. If Obama proved anything, the old machinery doesn’t work anymore, a lesson that Democrats in Congress are continuing to struggle with. So here’s Burris, the first African-American elected to statewide office as Illinois Comptroller in 1978, and then as Illinois Attorney General in 1990, the second African American elected to a state office of Attorney General in the United States.

While these are respectable “firsts” it doesn’t fit within the parameters of my “one-of-a-kind achievers.” Apparently, Burris feels the same way, which is why having run unsuccessfully for Mayor (once) and Governor (thrice), he’s anxious to etch that one-of-a-kind achievement on his existing headstone. (I’m not kidding!) One way to instantly insure one-of-a-kind achiever status is to get a seat you don’t have to run for or win or lose on your own merits. Burris (along with others) began jockeying to become the caretaker of Obama’s Senate seat. Governor Blago picked Burris. Now Burris can die a happy man.

But at what cost? Here’s Burris, a mouse of a man that never got the due he felt he deserved, taking a short cut to greatness. But what’s truly frightening is that ever since he stepped into the spotlight, Burris has yakkity yakked us to death. Since he gained the seat under the most bizarre circumstances, instead of chilling out, Burris began running off at the mouth, even after the Senate initially refused to recognize his seat. After that incident, you’d think he’d shut-up? No.

Now, there are accusations flying around that Burris may have actually made an under-the-table deal with former-Governor Blago to get Obama’s seat. Seems like people were actually paying attention to Burris and his double-talk. Either way, whatever Burris may have did or did not do, Burris’ constituents and his fellow Democrats feel he’s become unworthy of keeping the seat, even if it means removing the only black Senator of the United States. Mindful of this, Burris, who still refuses to keep his trap shut, is now using racism as his trump card – “you don’t want me because I’m black.” Boo-hoo. Burris is not only his own worse enemy; he’s also become our worse nightmare. He just needs to go. Period.

And then there’s Alan Keyes, a name that just won’t disappear, forever coming back to haunt us all.

A former Reagan diplomat and a conservative political activist (he’s an activist because he’s not electable), Keyes is the perennial candidate for public office. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 1996, 2000, and 2008; and ran for the U.S. Senate in 1988, 1992, and again in 2004, losing to guess who? Barack Obama.

Keyes latest mantra is calling Obama a communist and usurper (you think Keyes is a sore loser, perhaps?) and refuses to acknowledge the validity of Obama's inauguration. Why? Because he’s a sore loser (I said it before but it’s so blatantly obvious, I’m repeating it here again).

So to get even, he has aligned himself with the kooks, nuts and conspiracists that keep suing the federal government about the 44th president's birthplace. (Some of the suits have been ridiculous: Hawaii isn’t a state (says who?); he must have been born in Africa (why is that?); and is he a British citizen (how come?). Even after reviewing a copy of Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate, these kooks keep insisting it’s a fake and are even more pissed-off that the Governor of Hawaii has sealed Obama’s certificate. (Copies of Certificates can only be issued to the individual it belongs to or family members.) The latest case, heard several days ago, was kicked out, with the judge threatening to make the plaintiff reimburse the Court for “wasting its time in a frivolous case.”

But Keyes, remaining ever diligent, continues to lead this charge. I guess he has nothing else better to do, since he is an unelectable buffoon. He refuses to acknowledge that Barack Obama is President of the United States, accusing him of being an “illegally elected president” that is on the path of destroying this country. Gee whiz, where was Keyes when Bush became the illegal president of the United States via the Supreme Court? Oh well. I guess that accusation only works when it’s surreal, not when it’s real.

Quite obviously, Keyes is a psychotic, but while the Republicans usually keep their distance from him, in the vision of the party elders, he is the perfect black Republican. Yippee yay for them.

Finally, there is Piyush “Bobby” Jindal. While Jindal is not black, as a non-white whose skin color is the same as mine, Jindal does fall under the “brown” category. And while Jindal doesn’t “face the same radical-black-guy stereotypes as Obama,” as an Asian-Indian, he will more than likely get caught up in the “model minority” fervor that has resonated in this country these past twenty years, which may easily work against him, especially among other non-white folks.

Jindal’s “firsts” have certainly run the gamut. Having served in the Louisiana State government in a number of positions, Jindal first ran for Governor in 2003 and lost; but was elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2006 as a Representative of Louisiana’s 1st Congressional district. At age 36, Jindal became the youngest current governor in the United States; the first Asian-Indian elected to statewide office; and the first non-white to serve as governor since P.B.S. Pinchback during Reconstruction.

Jindal’s winning the governorship, which was no small feat, propelled him into the national spotlight during the Presidential Campaign when John McCain was considering him for the Vice Presidential spot. He has since then been compared to Palin and Mitt Romney as the powerbrokers of the "newly improved" Repug party. To that end, Jindal was selected to give the Repug’s rebuttal to President Obama’s speech before Congress on February 24, 2009.

What a disaster. His speech was poorly written (riddled with inconsistencies) and badly delivered. Pundits and bloggers across the board ridiculed Jindal (Frank Rich of The New York Times wrote a great analysis of the speech). Comparing his presentation to a Mister Rogers’ monologue, Democrats, Liberals and Progressives have been quick to point out that Jindal is no match to Barack Obama. Yes, this may be true, but out of Steele, Burris and Keyes, Jindal is a force to be reckoned with and should not be underestimated.

In spite of his poor performance, Jindal has managed to cross the threshold of “one-of-a-kind” not because of what he is, but because of who he is. He has been quietly attending a string of out-of-state fundraising events that have amassed close to $4 million dollars for his 2011 gubernatorial re-election, despite having no challengers. Since Jindal is smarter than Palin (who isn’t?) and more likeable than Romney (the Repugs can’t wrap their heads around a Mormon) he can easily rise above the ashes into something else altogether.

Jindal’s policies are not clear and he has a scant record with no extraordinary legislation to back him up. However, as he continues to build momentum, the only thing that can bring him down is his inability to clean up New Orleans, which could very well lose him his re-election bid. So folks shouldn’t sit back and relax, thinking everything is “all good” because Jindal appears to be an idiot. Not. Rather, we need to remain diligent on “Bobby-watch” and not take anything he says or does for granted, mishaps and all. Really.

It would be silly to pretend that the only reason the Repugs have thrown Steele and Jindal into the spotlight is because they are in love with these guys. It’s obvious they’re simply using each other. The Repugs need them to try to “lure” voters from the Democratic Party and bring the Republican Moderates back home. Steele and Jindal need them to obtain power. The Repugs may think this strategy is their answer to Obama’s success, but lightening doesn’t always strike twice, especially when people appear openly fake to the point of being offensive. Besides, even if Steele and Jindal were to succeed in the media, there are bigger issues that need to be addressed.

Since the 1960s, the Repugs traditionally counted on the "Southern Strategy" of stirring up white fear, especially in the Deep South, to ensure victory at the polls. Obama's victory and his upset victory in traditionally Republican states have forced Repug party leadership to figure out a new way to politic. The old race-baiting style of politics doesn’t work well these days, since the United States is quickly becoming a full-fledged, multiculturally enlightened country. The problem is that the Repugs are in a rut, grasping at straws because they can’t let go of the past. So they’re pinning their hopes on these black and brown hopefuls, to make their party more palpable to the rest of the public. But what they fail to understand is that it’s not just the packaging; it’s also what’s inside the package – substance. So until they can figure that out what that “substance” is, all the Steeles and Jindals of the world will not change the fact that they are stuck with the same old message.

Keyes will never be taken seriously. He is so painful to listen to and watch you’d wish he’d just go away. But as long as the Repugs find him useful, he’ll always pop up intermittently, looking to find his place in the sun.

And then there is poor Burris, who is so out of touch with reality, he should, at this point be taken out of his misery. We need effective people in Congress, not old timers who believe they are due a “pass” because of an allegiance to a party or simply because one is black. Barack Obama has promised change and change is happening . . . we need to pave the way for people who truly believe in change and that represent our interests, first and foremost, not folks who are mouthpieces for an outdated ideology that does the public no good.

I would be delighted to see African American, Asian, Latino and Native American public servants from both sides of the aisle step up to the plate and present us with new ideas that’ll dazzle and shock our minds. So I’m not against these guys, they’re just not the right kind of blacks and browns our country desperately needs to insure our political future. >>END

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What Battered Newsrooms Can Learn From Stewart's CNBC Takedown


The most talked-about journalism of this week wasn't produced in the New York Times, CNN, Newsweek or NPR. It was Jon Stewart's epic, eight-minute takedown on Wednesday night's Daily Show of CNBC's clueless, in-the-tank reporting of inflatable bubbles and blowhard CEOs as the U.S. and world economies slowly slid into a meltdown. You can quibble about Stewart's motives in undertaking the piece -- after he was spurned for an interview by CNBC's faux populist ranter Rick Santelli -- but you can't argue with the results.

The piece wasn't just the laugh-out-loud funniest thing on TV all week (and this was a week in which NBC rebroadcast the SNL "more cowbell" sketch, so that's saying a lot) but it was exquisitely reported, insightful, and it tapped into America's real anger about the financial crisis in a way that mainstream journalism has found so elusive all these months, in a time when we all need to be tearing down myths. As one commenter on the Romenesko blog noted, "it's simply pathetic that one has to watch a comedy show to see things like this." >>MORE

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The Interactive Presidency


FDR gave Americans fireside chats on radio. JFK came into living rooms through live TV news conferences. Barack Obama is connecting with worried voters by Internet--email, online videos and proliferating web sites.

In each case, as a new medium of communication became universal, the White House wired into it to speak directly to people--one at a time.

What's different now is that voters are invited to talk back, which may in part account for the President's continuing popularity during the darkest period in generations. In this interactive presidency, Americans are not feeling abandoned. >>

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Bobby Jindal Disaster

Eager yet indecisive. A puppet on strings. Mr. Rogers. Painful. Uninspiring. A big joke. Littered with lies. These are just some of the responses one can find throughout the internet, on both blogs and newspapers about Jindal and his rebuttal speech. Below are three interesting takes on Bobby Jindal, his speech and ideas on what it means and what may happen next.

Republicans, Democrats criticize Jindal's speech


Insane. Childish. Disaster. And those were some of the kinder comments from political pundits about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and his response to President Barack Obama's speech to Congress on Tuesday night. Jindal, 37, a Rhodes scholar and son of Indian immigrants, is considered a rising star in Republican ranks and a likely 2012 presidential candidate.

GOP leaders, looking for a fresh face for the party's image, tapped Jindal earlier this month for the high-profile task of rebutting Obama's first address to a joint session of Congress.

But in both style and substance, Jindal's speech has drawn flak from Republicans and Democrats alike.

His criticism of government spending for emergency economic relief has been widely panned, especially given his state's receipt of billions in federal assistance after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And Jindal's voice and earnest, awkward delivery have drawn comparisons to Kenneth Parcell, the geeky page on the NBC comedy "30 Rock.">>MORE

ertifigate: bizarrobama

bobby jindal's presidential aspirations may have hit a particularly painful and publicized-all-too-well speed bump with his loudly-ridiculed response to obama's address to congress, but the news cycle is moving on and conservatives thankfully enjoy such therapeutically short memories — as illustrated by this weekend's cpac presidential straw poll:

aarrgghh's diary :: ::
1. mitt romney 20%
2. bobby jindal 14%
3. sarah palin, ron paul 13% each
4. newt gingrich 10%

5. mike huckabee 7%

with the campaign rhetoric for 2012 kicking into gear, the nomination still looks within jindal's reach, especially with rush limbaugh lionizing him as the second coming of demi-god ronald reagan:

i'm going to give you a name that would make me jump for joy — bobby jindal. i did an interview with bobby jindal. he is the next ronald reagan if he does not change. >>

The stories they need to tell themselves

Memory is a tricky thing and I can understand how three and a half years later Bobby Jindal might "remember" being in room while the sheriff was on the phone yelling about how the bureaucrats were getting in the way of helping people in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina.

What doesn't make sense is why he was telling that story at all. Why would any Republican want to bring up Katrina?

You don't need me to tell you what a disaster Jindal's response to the President's speech the other night was, both for Jindal personally as a potential Presidential candidate and for the Republican party. But for me Jindal's speech brought back the question, Are they evil or are they stupid?

I think that's a chicken and the egg question. They are evil and pursue selfish goals of increasing their personal power and money instead of doing the smart and right things and so they do and say stupid things. They do stupid things instead of doing the smart and right things and the result is pain and sorrow and death.

Bringing up Katrina seems like a stupid move. Why remind the American people of the reason they turned almost all together and at once against George Bush?

Do Jindal and the officials from the commissariat who approved his speech think we're so dumb we've forgotten just which Party was running the government when Katrina hit? Or are they so dumb they don't understand why "Heckuva job, Brownie" has become a catchphrase for summing up Republican malfeasance, corruption, and incompetence, ranking right up there with "I am not a crook" and "Are you now or have you ever been?" and "Mission Accomplished"? >>MORE

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Right-Wing 'Tea Party' Movement Was Planned Months Ago by GOP Billionaires


Populist revolt against the U.S. government is all the rage in the Republican Party, these days. As they tell the story, the public is so outraged by the recovery and reinvestment efforts of the Obama administration that Americans everywhere are turning out to overthrow the tyrannical king of the federal government by re-enacting the Boston Tea Party.

Funny thing, though: it turns out this whole "populist" movement was a planned PR stunt funded by big-money right-wing backers of the GOP who specialize in faking grassroots movements to drum up opposition to Barack Obama.

Everything about this so called "Tea Party" movement was pre-planned--from the supposedly "spontaneous rant" of CNBC stock market reporter, Rick Santelli, to the presumed ground-level organizing of protests all over the country. Fake, fake, fake--like a product launch staged covertly to look like a spontaneous trend.

Playboy bloggers Mark Ames and Yasha Levine pulled together all the pieces of this puzzle in an incredible expose (Exposing The Rightwing PR Machine):>>

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Under fire to quit, Burris goes about his business


If it were up to Roland Burris, he'd be here to stay.

A week of lonely walks, calls for his resignation and cameras following his every move didn't seem to affect the new senator from Illinois. The opposite, actually: Burris spent most of his time digging in.

"He's kept a busy schedule since arriving in Washington, and he's made a point of really going about the business of the Senate," said Burris' spokesman, Jim O'Connor.

Burris, a Democrat, was appointed to the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was impeached and driven from office after being accused of trying to sell the Senate seat. Burris is under scrutiny because of new allegations about the circumstances of his appointment and for changing his story about it multiple times. >>MORE

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Obama Speech Tonight: Our Best Days Are Ahead


Barack Obama will strike a note of optimism Tuesday evening, declaring that America's best days are ahead even if, at this moment, the future looks bleak. As released by the White House, the president will say the following before a national television audience and joint-session of Congress:

But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.

The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don't lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.
The resilient tone stands in some contrast to the largely realist message that Obama struck during his inaugural address.>>MORE

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This should surprise no one


I don't know why any of us are even surprised to find out things like this anymore:

I was interviewed by several journalists last week about Rick Santelli’s Rant — my exact quote was it had a “Faux” feel to it. (I haven’t seen it in print yet)

What was so odd about this was that Santelli is usually on the ball; we usually agree more often than we disagree. He’s been responsible for some of the best moments on Squawk Box.

But his rant somehow felt wrong. After we’ve pissed through over $7 trillion dollars in Federal bailouts to banks, brokers, automakers, insurers, etc., this was a pittance, the least offensive of all the vast sums of wasted money spent on “losers” to use Santelli’s phrase. It seemed like a whole lot of noise over “just” $75 billion, or 1% of the rest of the total ne’er-do-well bailout monies. >>MORE

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Obama's Immigration Outlook: More Militarism, Abuse

Homeland Security Chief Napolitano Outlines Top Immigration Priorities: Militarism & Militarism

Looks like Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano’s -- and Obama’s -- version of “hope” and “change” on immigration means pressing down on the undocumented with even more boots and guns, according to this interview on NPR.

Given the spikes in anti-immigrant hate crimes that continue spilling blood on our streets and given the colossal humanitarian crisis festering in detention centers throughout the country , such a militaristic approach to immigration policy is nothing less than immoral and inhumane. Such an approach begs the questions, “Where is the hope?” and “Is this what you meant by “change?”

If the Obama Administration continues along this deadly path, I predict that the immigrant rights movement and growing numbers of Latinos will start politically attacking Obama and his backers in DC in anticipation their support for policies that will worsen further the growing humanitarian crisis in detention. I also predict the Dems and their allies will counter with a modified version of the PR strategy used to promote McCain-Kennedy: focus media on legalization while avoiding or simply paying minimal lip service to detention, raids enforcement and other issues involving the most vulnerable. >>MORE

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The Tyranny of the Centrists

If they're in charge, we're all in trouble.

If six months ago you had said that within three weeks of taking office, President Obama would pass a $787 billion stimulus bill with billions of dollars for food stamps and schools, infrastructure and energy modernization, health care and broadband, anyone would have said it would be an extraordinary victory for the president, his party and his ideology. Yet now that it has actually happened, the administration is hardly acting triumphal, while some other people are imagining themselves the true winners.

The Republican minority, calling in from some alternative universe, is convinced that by achieving lockstep opposition to a popular economic-recovery plan pushed by a popular president in a time of economic crisis, they've laid a firm foundation for future electoral gains. For the moment, they seem more delusional than dangerous. But the people we should really worry about are the "centrists," that merry band of legislators who determined the fate of the legislation. It was the centrists -- a group that may have held as many as a dozen senators but was most represented by Democrat Ben Nelson and Republicans Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins (the three GOP members who voted for the bill) who got what they wanted, and what they wanted was for the entire nation to beseech them for their favor. Every time they were photographed, they seemed barely able to contain their glee, one's goofy grin wider than the other's. >>MORE

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rep. Mike Capuano (D) of Massachussetts Slams Bank CEOs

Wall Street bank executives squirmed under a public scolding in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday over how they used $176 billion in bailout money without noticeably improving the battered economy.

"America doesn't trust you anymore," Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano told eight bank CEOs during a congressional hearing on the troubled bank bailout plan. Capuano was the star of the show because he told it like it is. Priceless!

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Gaza and Its Aftermath

Noam Chomsky interviewed by Assaf Kfoury

For more than three weeks, starting December 27th, Gaza and its 1.5 million people bore the brunt of a massive Israeli military campaign, supported and abetted by the US government. While Israel has now stopped its devastating air and ground operations in Gaza, it continues the total blockade from both the land and the sea, still pursuing the futile goal of trying to destroy Hamas and allied resistance groups by punishing the population around them.

Noam Chomsky gives a preliminary assessment of the US-Israel war on Gaza and its consequences in an interview conducted by Assaf Kfoury on January 31, 2009. The Arabic translation of the interview will appear in the Beirut daily as-Safir. >>MORE

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President Obama's First Press Conference

The Voice Of American Pragmatism

More than policy details, President Obama's first press conference showcased an aspect of America that 8 years of Bush-era pessimism worked hard to destroy: American pragmatism.

For those of us who watched Obama, last night, we heard the voice of American pragmatism for a full hour, but few if any of us have much experience stepping back and talking about it. Decades of Reagan, Bush and now Limbaugh Republicanism created such a toxic environment for American pragmatism that anyone who dared to step in that direction has been ridiculed and silenced.

That ended last night. >>MORE

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Sunday, February 8, 2009


The financial debacle continues to heat up and it's really the only thing that's on everyone's mind -- job loss, the stimulus package, the recession and politician assholes who just don't get it. Your comments are welcome!

MORE POLITICSSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Happy Birthday Ronald Reagan (Thanks for Ruining America)


Ronald Reagan's 98th birthday is being celebrated today at a time that should be a cause for soul searching among his admirers. The conservative revolution that Reagan unleashed upon the nation and much of the world lay in ashes, and Washington is embarking on a new epoch of government intervention to eradicate the excesses of free-market purism. One would expect liberals to be out in the streets looking for statues of the Gipper to topple from their pedestals.

But nothing of the kind is happening. While George W. Bush is now the bane even of many conservatives, a Marine Corps contingent will lay a wreath at Reagan's gravesite safe in the knowledge that much of the nation holds his memory in a warm embrace.

Historians may one day view this as an odd historical conundrum, since Reagan's legacy is so clearly imprinted on the myriad of forces that have vitiated the American dream for millions of working people and brought wreckage to the world economy.

The continuing fallout from Reagan's policies – the meltdown of the financial sector, widening income inequality, the emergence of lockdown America, the obscene inflation of CEO compensation, the end of locally owned media, market crashes, blackouts, drug-company scandals, rampant greed and materialism -- is all around us. As D.H. Lawrence once wrote in another context, "The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins." >>MORE

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New GOP Standard Bearer Rush Limbaugh Is Less Popular Than Jeremiah Wright


Didn't the Republicans who turned to Rush Limbaugh read the poll which found that he's one of the least popular political figures in the country?

Congressional Republicans have turned to Rush Limbaugh to lead the battle against Obama. One problem: A poll says he's less popular than Jeremiah Wright.

Republicans who have turned to Rush Limbaugh to lead the fight against President Obama may have backed the wrong horse. According to one recent poll, Limbaugh turns out to be one of the most unpopular political figures in the country. >>MORE

New GOP Standard Bearer Rush Limbaugh Is Less Popular Than Jeremiah WrightSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

They Just Don't Get It


Right now, conservative U.S. senators—both Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats—are thrashing around trying to cut pieces out of President Obama’s economic recovery plan. They say it costs too much. Ironically, these are the same senators who increased the legislation by more than $100 billion just a couple of days ago.

They just don’t get it. >>

They Just Don't Get ItSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

A Lease on Her Life


Jennifer Pacanowski joined the Army to climb out of debt. She ended up in the hole.

It was July 2004 and Jennifer Pacanowski was headed home to Pennsylvania after six months as a medic in Iraq. Like most other soldiers in the Army, she had two weeks at home to "rest and relax" before returning to the combat zone. "It's kind of a vacation from war," she says.

But for Pacanowski, this summer vacation did not involve vegging in front of the TV or lazing on the beach; she didn't waste a moment of her break. She visited the people she was close to, spent a few days in Wildwood, New Jersey, "reliving a childhood vacation," and hosted a big barbecue for her friends and family.

"I didn't think I was ever going to see them again," she says. "I was basically preparing to die."

Pacanowski joined the Army on April 23, 2003, a month after the Iraq War began. It was a week before the "Mission Accomplished" banner flashed across television screens nationwide, as President Bush announced, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." Like many Americans, Pacanowski and her family thought the war was, for the most part, over.

But by the time of her R & R break in 2004, she could not envision the war's end - nor a way out of her predicament. Her small consolation was that, should she get out of the war alive, she'd be student-loan-free and well on her way to beginning a career in nursing.

However, three days into R & R, Pacanowski received a letter that turned the horror of her term in Iraq to a pointless hell. It was a notice from the US Army, explaining that the government would not pay off her college loans, despite previous guarantees.

Devastated, carrying both her financial burden and a growing feeling that Iraqis wanted the US troops out, Pacanowski dragged herself back for five and half more months of deployment. Loyalty was her only motivation not to desert. >>MORE

A Lease on Her LifeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, January 30, 2009


The financial debacle is heating up, and below are several articles that provide different reports and viewpoints of what people think should and should not be done. Also, a plea for help for Gaza victims, the latest on a health care bill and questions on how to "fix" the educational system are some of the finer points of our economic recovery. Your comments are welcome!

MORE POLITICSSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

The Financial Debacle Continues . . .

What Do Republicans Want? Warmed-Over Bush Economics!

It is well-known that not a single Republican voted for the Obama economic recovery plan in the U.S. House of Representatives. Less known is the Republican alternative, which almost every member of their party supported: GOP Whip Eric Cantor’s Amendment #195.

The Republican alternative, costing $478 billion, contained nine tax cuts and an extension of unemployment benefits—in other words, no infrastructure spending, no assistance to the states, and almost no help to struggling Americans.

So far, all the debate has centered on what is good or bad about the Obama/Democratic economic recovery plan. It’s time we nailed the Republicans for their pitiful plan. >>MORE

New ads from Americans United For Change target
Sens. Snowe, Collins, Murkowski, Grassley, Gregg for quick passage:

What a surprise. I get nothing from the House stimulus package.


Too "rich" to get a withholding or EITC tax cut. Too "poor" to get a business tax cut. Too single (and too gay) to get a child tax cut.

It's not about me. It's about what I represent. Millions of Americans who make enough money to earn a good living, but who live in large expensive urban areas, have tens of thousands (if not more) in student loans, and now are saddled with expensive mortgages (it costs a lot more to get a one-bedroom condo in the city than a house in the country) and more. We are not "rich." If we lived in Topeka, we'd be rich. But we don't. So why treat us like we are?

The House stimulus bill, like every other piece of legislation passed by Congress and offered by this and every other administration, does not take into account where people live, or what their cost of living is, when determining whether they're "rich." It's particularly ironic, and unfair, since the federal government pays its own employees more based on where they live (i.e., based on the local cost of living). >>MORE

The "Can't You See That Man Is a Ni--" House vote

Michael Lind argues that the House vote by Republicans and Southern Blue Dog Democrats against the stimulus package was less about ideology or any sense of fiscal responsibility than it was yet another example of the South still fighting the Civil War:
On Wednesday, January 28, 2009, President Barack Obama’s $819 billion stimulus plan passed the House of Representatives, despite the solid opposition of the Confederates.

By the Confederates I mean the Republican Party and their allies among Southern conservative Democrats. The battle in Washington is not between liberals and conservatives; it is between the Union and the South. . . . >>MORE

Pssst, Let’s Nationalize The Banks. We Just Won’t Talk About It.

David Sanger in the New York Times writes about the possibility that our banking system is so
broken that we may need to nationalize the banks. And in the process, he almost accidentally points out one of the grand ironies of our equally broken political discourse:
Nationalization could pull the banks out of that dive, at least temporarily, as the government injected capital, hired new managers and ordered a restart to lending. But some Republicans who bit their tongues when President George W. Bush ordered huge interventions in the market would charge that Mr. Obama was steering America toward socialism. . . . >>MORE

Stop Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic and Nationalize the Damn Banks

The painful but unavoidable reality of the financial crisis is that every dollar spent trying to prop up a failing bank is just good money thrown after bad; a taxpayer rip-off, short and sweet.

But in Washington, many are trying to avoid that fact nonetheless. Economist Paul Krugman wrote that the political establishment has "become devotees of a new kind of voodoo [economics]: the belief that by performing elaborate financial rituals we can keep dead banks walking." Goldman Sachs' economists estimate that those rituals might cost up to $4 trillion to perform.

It's time that the government stops flailing around with piecemeal bailouts and loan guarantees, takes over these institutions -- takes them out of private ownership -- sells off their good assets in an orderly way, trashes the toxic stuff and then resells them to the private sector down the road as leaner institutions that are dedicated to the primary purpose of banking: making loans and holding deposits. >>MORE

Stupid Democrats, and Presidents

My friend Deacon trashed the House Democrats' recovery bill yesterday as a piece of crap, and sounded like he was letting the House GOP off the hook for what he described as a meaningless vote.

I am not so charitable. But I am also not very enamored of what I've seen from the Dems so far either, at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

First, House Dems and the White House spent useless energy to accommodate Republican demands. Why? The critical flaw in this line of "lets be bipartisan thinking" is that there are no GOP moderates in the House anymore. After the last two elections, all that is left in the House GOP caucus are a pack of knuckle-dragging cretins who don't merit any role in deliberative politics. So why does anyone in the House Democratic leadership or the White House give a sh*t about what they want? Why in hell do the Dems even deal with a far right extremist cabal at all? The House Republican caucus should be isolated and tagged as obstructionist end-timers every single day for the next two years, and yet Obama and Hoyer actually engage these bastards.>>

Tone Deaf


The disconnect is everywhere now. Republicans and right-wing bloggers think they’ve shown the Obama Administration what’s what. For example, Kathleen Parker seems to think President Obama has been bested by Rush Limbaugh –
Obama was cool even when, at that same GOP meeting, he urged Republicans to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh. No anger, just angst. “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.”

Excuse me, Mr. President, but you’ve been baited by none other than the Master Fisherman. Limbaugh tossed you a lure and you chomped. … the backfire Obama felt in West Virginia was a gentle zephyr compared to the blowback that can be bellowed by El Rushbo. >>

The Financial Debacle Continues . . .SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Viewpoints from the "Left, Right & Center"

Should We Socialize Our Banking System?

Will President Obama’s stimulus plan be a help or a hindrance to America’s economic future? The “Left, Right, & Center” panelists have their opinions, of course, on the subject, and they’re ready to go to battle—and sometimes even agree—on this week’s show.

Courtesy of KCRW, a community service of Santa Monica College, Southern California's leading National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate, broadcast at 89.9 FM and online at Featuring an eclectic mix of music, news and arts programming.

Viewpoints from the "Left, Right & Center"SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Help Gaza!

Conditions in Gaza are dire, with approximately 50,000 displaced people, not to mention the lack of food and medical supplies for the remainder of the populace. Want to help? Here is a list of organizations with a documented record of providing assistance in Gaza. And, of course, there's always the Middle Eastern Children's Alliance. Please consider making donations to them as the need is great.

Help Gaza!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Health Care Progress


The Senate passed a bill yesterday that will expand health insurance coverage for children. The 66-32 vote included 9 Republicans who favored the bill. The House passed the bill two weeks ago by a vote of 289-139 with the support of 40 Republicans. Two previous efforts to enact the law met with George Bush vetoes, but President Obama will sign the bill into law. >>MORE

Health Care ProgressSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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