September 29, 2009

Ending Minority Rule in California: One Sentence Can Do It

My friends in California could very easily save themselves with a single sentence in their state constitution. California has walked a long long road that’s finally ended where people have been warning it would for years: in fiscal chaos. And frankly, it’s not particularly the fault of any one political party: California’s Democrats and Republicans have a long history of being obstinate, unworkable, and in the end doing things that simply aren’t sustainable while crying about how they need to change their behaviors.

But when you look at where we are now in California and ask yourself how we got here, part of the problem is that there’s simply too much red tape for the legislature to go through in order to approve funding or fundraising for any of their projects. Add to this the fact that the state is all about sending every public project or initiative to referendum (direct Democracy as opposed to representative democracy) and you have a situation ripe for issues.

One way to fix some of those problems? Don’t let the government keep passing and the referendums keep approving public spending plans and projects for which the legislature can’t raise funding. George Lakoff, writing for TruthOut, has a solution:

California is in deep trouble because it has a dysfunctional system of government. Much of the problem can be change by one sentence.

I have sent to the attorney general a ballot proposition for the 2010 ballot called The California Democracy Act, the content of which is the following: All legislative action on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote.

It would change two words in the Constitution, turning “two-thirds” to “majority” in two places. It is simple, understandable and it is about democracy.

Craziness! Madness! Insanity!

Wait – this is exactly what a number of observers, Lakoff included, have realized needed to happen for years. Now the time is right for it because without it, the state will remain in financial ruin far longer than it needs to.

Minority rule is closing California. State parks: closed. Schools: closed. Fire departments: closed. Nursing homes: closed. Medical clinics: closed. Libraries: closed.

We do not have to stand for it.

The majority of voters choose the majority of legislators. That’s simple democracy. When the majority of legislators rule, the majority of voters rule.

Can this work? It can, with strong support. What is needed is a serious campaign making the case for democracy, and allowing the voters to see that minority rule is the root of the problem.

Since the minority is a strongly conservative Republican minority, progressive Democrats running for the legislature in 2010 can run on a prodemocracy platform, placing the blame for gridlock where it belongs, on their opponents.

[ Ending Minority Rule in California: One Sentence Can Do It ]
Source: TruthOut

The Republican War Against ACORN

No matter than moments after a pair of ACORN staffers who were later revealed to be part of the set up fell for a set up involving a pair of conservative operatives who had been going from ACORN office to ACORN office looking for someone gullible enough to fall for their ploy, congressional Republicans have launched an all out assault, designed to please their base and earn points with their friends in conservative talk radio and televison – they want to revoke any and all funding from ACORN that may be provided by the federal government.

Now there’s no excusing what happened there unless the staffers were in on the deal, which has been implied here – that the staffers were part of a setup of their employers – but as media outlets have descended on ACORN to talk about the issue, they’re missing several crucial pieces of the puzzle. Not the least of which is one I already wrote about already; Why Are African-Americans So Frequently the Subject of Glenn Beck’s Ridicule?, but one of the bigger missing pieces some people have called out is the fact that Karl Rove himself led a massive five year campaign to smear and defame ACORN because they were simply effective at what they do: advocating for the poor, minorities, and the underprivileged, and then getting them to vote for policies and politicians that were looking out for their best interest.

In recent days, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other major news outlets have recounted the “troubled” history of the poor people’s advocacy group ACORN, but left out the five-year anti-ACORN campaign led by White House adviser Karl Rove and other Republican operatives.

Dropped down the memory hole is the fact that ACORN was at the center of the so-called “prosecutor-gate” scandal, when the Bush administration pressured US attorneys to bring indictments over the grassroots group’s voter-registration drives, then fired some prosecutors who resisted what they viewed as a partisan strategy not supported by solid evidence.

The latest furor over ACORN was touched off by conservative filmmaker James E. O’Keefe III and a right-wing columnist who posed as a couple planning to buy a house for use as a brothel and getting advice from a few ACORN employees, rather than being turned away.

The pair filmed their meetings at ACORN offices with a hidden camera, producing a video that brought to a fever pitch the long-simmering Republican war against ACORN. The video was trumpeted by Fox News and other right-wing news outlets, starting a stampede in the mainstream press and in Congress, where a majority of panicked Democrats joined the herd in approving legislation to strip ACORN of federal funds.

Remember that? When Bush’s Justice Department made a habit of firing people who didn’t share the Predsident and his friends’ political ideology? Yeah – that was part of the ACORN smear campaign. And now this campaign to smear ACORN, weaken that case, and then subsequently rid themselves of a formidible political foe, the far right feels like this is a win-win setup.

And it very well may be, if the truth weren’t crystal clear to people who are able to see enough history to know that there’s more to the story here. Conservatives have a short memory for some reason; and they think people tend to forget these things. While panicked Democrats rush to condemn ACORN along with the Republicans who want to strike while the talk radio iron is hot, time will prove that this is just another attempt to smear an organization that serves the people, instead of their special interests.

Want to know why ACORN is so dangerous to the conservative right-wingers looking to shut it down? And want to know why it’s actually doing America far more good than harm? Check out the whole article, along with the bitter attacks that conservatives have lodged against ACORN in the 5-year smear campaign they’ve waged against the organization. This recent news? This is just another volley in a long long battle.

[ The Republican War Against ACORN ]
Source: TruthOut

Census Worker Found Hanged With “Fed” Scrawled on Body

I was visiting with my father this weekend and we discussed this story – I had been meaning to write about it since I first heard about it. He made an excellent point: there’s so much anger in this country right now – and it’s not righteous rage like it was during the Bush Presidency; it’s not a scrambling to reclaim the roots or spirit of our American democracy, it’s just pure, unfiltered, illogical, irrational anger.

Whether it’s anger that a Black man could be President of this great nation, or whether it’s rage that someone who doesn’t look and believe the way these people do could lead them and have ideas on how to guide us out of the woods we’ve found ourselves in, whether it’s anger that we’re not out of those woods yet or impatience at how long it takes to get out, whether it’s rage that comes from people who can’t find work, or can’t afford health care, or can’t understand why the world is changing the way it is – it’s all rage. It’s all anger, and it’s all dangerous when it’s left unchecked by information, facts, and education.

Unfortunately we have a number of media outlets, namely the ilk of conservative talk radio and Fox News, that make a trade out of lying and spreading false information, so it makes it even more difficult for the public to separate truth from fiction, appreciate analysis and editorial for what it is (as in, opinions), and realize that when facts are presented they’re nor a matter of question. When you have media outlets that specialize in diluting facts that don’t support their positions in favor of opinions and hypotheses that do, it’s natural you’re going to have a public that doesn’t know who to trust or believe anymore.

And this is the result:

A census worker in Kentucky was found hanged to death with the word “Fed” scrawled on his body, according to unnamed law enforcement officials cited by The Associated Press. Bill Sparkman, age 51, was a part-time census worker and occasional teacher. His body was found September 12 hanged from a tree in a remote section of the Daniel Boone National Forest, located in a rural portion of southeast Kentucky. His truck was parked nearby, and his computer was found inside.

I wish I could write the whole thing off as typical of red-state America, but I can’t completely do that. There’s more to it than that, although I think that’s a major piece of this. In the end, ignorance combined with rage leads to deadly results, and that’s what I fear here.

[ Census Worker Found Hanged With “Fed” Scrawled on Body ]
Source: TruthOut

September 21, 2009

Limbaugh’s Racist Shocker: “We Need Segregated Buses”

Is anyone seriously surprised by this? Limbaugh has had his positive moments in the past, but in the end he caters to a hateful, whipped up base that just eats this kind of thing up. Whether he believes it himself or not, he’s absolutely going to say these kinds of things because the kinds of people listening to him agree, will feed off of it, and alternatively garner him support from others who are teetering on the edge of racism when it comes to their feelings about the current Administration.

eferring to an incident in which a white student was beaten by black students on a bus, Limbaugh said: “I think the guy’s wrong. I think not only it was racism, it was justifiable racism. I mean, that’s the lesson we’re being taught here today. Kid shouldn’t have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses — it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama’s America.”

A full transcript of Limbaugh’s comments on his radio show is available at MediaMatters.org.

Limbaugh’s comments came after a called complained to say that local law enforcement said the attack probably wasn’t racially motivated. The incident had been hyped by the conservative Drudge Report, which posted a video of the fracas.

“Police initially said the beating of the white student by two black students appeared to be racially motivated,” the Associated Press wrote. “But police on Tuesday backed away from that.”

That didn’t stop Limbaugh from making his comments Wednesday.

“In Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, ‘Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,” Limbaugh also said. “I wonder if Obama’s going to come to come to the defense of the assailants the way he did his friend Skip Gates up there at Harvard.”

“White Americans are racists who have created what they call free markets that really just enslave the rest of America and her trading partners,” Limbaugh also mocked. “I mean, it was white Americans that ran off Van Jones. No, look, let’s just follow Eric Holder’s advice and not be cowards about all this. Let’s have an open conversation, an honest conversation about all of our typical white grandmothers. You had one, I had one. Obama had one. They’re racists just like our students are. ACORN — hey, nothing but racism fueling the pursuit of ACORN.”

Limbaugh also suggested that racism itself was acceptable.

“If homosexuality being inborn is what makes it acceptable, why does racism being inborn not make racism acceptable?” the talk show host asked. “I’m sorry — I mean, this is the way my mind works. But apparently now we don’t choose racism, we just are racists. We are born that way. We don’t choose it. So shouldn’t it be acceptable, excuse — this is according to the way the left thinks about things.”

What’s hilarious is Limbaugh’s backwards analogies and justifications for racism – denying it ever exists when it’s a matter of white privilege or a matter of discrimination of a disenfranchised minority by the empowered majority, and then trumpeting it up whenever it may or may not be a matter of discrimination by the minority of the majority. Limbaugh is quick to – as he himself will decry – play the race card, but only when it’s in his favor. He does no one any favors by not addressing prejudice and racism equally.

This is the new face of white privilege: claim you’re the victim when you’re really not. Claim that the big bad unified minorities are out to get you – of course toss in a little blame of Obama while you can get a jab in, of course the Klan likes that – and then pretend that privilege doesn’t exist and instead we should all focus on how horrible the plight of the Christian White straight male is. Oh, woe is you, Limbaugh.

Peddling hate: it’s what the right does best.

[ Limbaugh’s Racist Shocker: “We Need Segregated Buses” ]
Source: Alternet

We Can’t Afford Health Care? You Lie!

Usually the first talking points out of any congressional Republican’s mouth is that any bill for any reason “does too little and costs too much.” Lately that’s been the language of choice when referring to any of the health care overhauls in front of Congress today: that every bill, including the bi-partisan ones, fall under this umbrella. Of course the Republicans stop short of claiming that we should just suffer the alternative – an unsustainable growth of health care spending that dwarfs any of the proposals in congress and sacrifices the lives of Americans who can’t afford or can’t obtain quality health care in the process: in other words, the status-quo.

But that notion – that it costs too much and we can’t afford it – is simply false.

We see the spectacle of the US Congress unable to manage decent health care reform that will actually enable the American citizenry to join the rest of the industrialized world in having health care for all. The problems, it is clear, come from those who are lying.

Death panels? That’s true – we already have them. Insurance companies deny care to Americans, who then die as a result. It happens every day, Sarah Palin – but ascribing that to the Obama plan is untrue. In fact, those corporate death panels would be outlawed.

Find the language in Obama’s bill that says that illegal aliens are covered or admit it’s a canard – God forbid we should help some migrant worker who is stricken by illness or accident while laboring in service to Americans. South Carolina’s Joe Wilson is just the Tourette tip of a dissembling iceberg.

It’s entertaining that these lies are still circulating – it’s actually a very interesting scientific phenomenon how people are willing to simply lie to themselves when presented with the facts about a certain issue and are simply unable to separate fact from opinion. When presented with a fact: a clear, concise, well agreed upon and scientifically valid fact, these are the same people willing and able to simply reject the fact out of hand simply because it doesn’t support their argument. Usually they attack the source or sources of the fact, or the legitimacy of the fact, and the consequence of this is that it dilutes civil discourse and removes a reference point where anything can actually be correct – thus opening the door to making a factual issue all about conjecture (see global warming as an excellent example of this).

Getting back to health care however, writing for TruthOut, Tom Hastings has an excellent analysis of exactly how easy it’ll be to afford the plan, especially considering some of our alternative priorities:

We can’t afford the plan? That is a whopper. It’s all choice.

If every child in America doesn’t have health care, but we own more than 6,000 nuclear weapons, more than half of them on board a fleet of 18 extremely expensive Trident submarines ready to fight the Soviets (Hey! Where’d they go?), isn’t it time to ask some fundamental questions? One is: Why spend $16.5 billion just on the Department of Energy nuclear weapons budget for FY 2010 with 50 million uninsured citizens? Does US Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) speak for us all when he calls health care a privilege (and presumably threatening life on Earth is a human right for the US military)?

When our working poor are so often without either the money to pay for health insurance or the high costs of health care for ailing family members, and yet we somehow manage to justify spending in excess of $915 billion on the so-called War on Terror, shouldn’t we engage in some national discussion about priorities?

$1 trillion for war while unemployment pushes ten percent in more and more states is unconscionable. Unemployment means a loss of health care for a high percentage of those who lose jobs and more foreclosures on the American dream of home ownership every month. Historically, it naturally correlates with increases in crime. The US is the last of the so-called developed countries to fail to insure the unemployed and underemployed, and we have the highest crime rates. So many thousands of us are shot each year that we more than qualify to be considered at war inside our own borders. Much of that carnage relates to social problems like unemployment, lack of health care and simple hopelessness.

Does it not seem that when the US can afford and not question nearly 1,000 military bases on other people’s sovereign soil – 287 of them in Germany alone – that we can afford to create jobs? Rather than have our young people learning how to hurt others in the military, we could end economic conscription, lower the crime rate, drastically reduce the numbers of uninsured, reverse the home foreclosure numbers and enhance our nation’s productivity by offering minimum wage jobs to anyone willing to work. Those jobs would include housing in some cases, health care benefits in all cases and on-the-job training and supplementary education for those needing it. Closing foreign military bases until these programs were paid for would be a giant leap for the US back toward the health of our workforce, our economy, our educational system and our very citizenry.

No one is talking about this? True. So, it’s time to start.

[ We Can’t Afford Health Care? You Lie! ]
Source: TruthOut

Jimmy Carter Weighs In On Obama-haters

Ah Jimmy Carter – telling it like it is, yet again:

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,” Carter said. “I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that share the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans.”

Carter continued, “And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

President Obama, for his part, tried to say that this had nothing to do with his race and everything about the issues. I think he overestimates the people who are advocating his impeachment and carried racist placards and signs outside of his office a few weeks ago.

The full video is over at AlterNet:

[ Video: Jimmy Carter on Obama-haters: “Many White People” Believe “African-Americans Are Not Qualified to Lead This Great Country” ]
Source: AlterNet

Why Are African-Americans So Frequently the Subject of Glenn Beck’s Ridicule?

I think it’s a good question – and some of the answer comes from the recent tempest-in-a-teapot over ACORN and the two operatives who walked in and came away with some hilarious advice that apparently was also legally dubious on how a “pimp” and a “prostitute” could manage to buy a home considering their professions. Two employees out of ACORN’s 13,000 nationally in a clear ambush from the right – but why is it a big deal? ACORN has been the target of conservative operatives for a while now, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise, but as usual, conservatives like Glenn Beck have latched onto this as an indicator of everything that’s wrong with America. But why, when there’s a lot of problems they could seize onto?

The answer’s pretty simple: racism.

Conservative activist James O’Keepe walked into ACORN’s Baltimore office posing as a pimp with a prostitute in tow and got some tax-evading advice from an ACORN staff member. In the video below, O’Keefe claimed he wanted to buy a house and was trying to figure out a way of accounting for his “ho’s” income. The employee told the woman to list her occupation as “performance artist.”

OK. So, this is pretty hilarious, I admit. It’s a flagrant foul from a low-level employee. The two black women who were targeted in this caught on tape “pimps and hos charade” mostly likely bring home less than $30,000 per year. And they are two employees out of 13,000 employed by ACORN. O’Keefe admittedly tried this maneuver several times before he found someone gullible enough to bite.

The folks who were the subject of the “undercover” probe? Two black women. The majority of the people who benefit from ACORN’s community activism work? Black and Hispanic people. The disenfranchised folks that ACORN is responsible for registering to vote? Black and Hispanic people. The folks who are helped, free of charge, to negotiate their mortgages by ACORN? Black and Hispanic people.

What we have here is an overt (they don’t even bother to conceal the crap anymore) to go after black people. It is being sanctioned by FOX News and orchestrated by Glenn Beck. Even the mainstream media (which is known for its obtuseness and cowardice in all things related to race and class) are beginning to ask if race is a factor.

Now, I am not here to excuse ACORN’s behavior. I have no desire to try to explain away why Van Jones signed the petition wondering if 9/11 was an excuse to go into the War in Iraq. And I will not even dignify those birther imbeciles with any more space than they have already taken up.

I am just wondering why Glenn Beck is collecting black scalps? Why are we so frequently the subject of their ridicule and criticism? Why don’t they investigate subprime lending and banks with predatory practices? Why won’t they make Sean Hannity explain his friendship with a man who has been indicted for trying to assassinate the president? Where were these “take back our country folks” when George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act repealing massive civil rights and liberties that we as U.S. citizens were granted at birth?

I think we have the answer to the question right in front of us – it’s about getting voters, especially reliably democratic ones that the right hates for existing, much less for who they vote for, off the rolls. It’s about disenfranchising minorities and the poor, and it’s becoming more and more blatant every day.

[ Why Are African-Americans So Frequently the Subject of Glenn Beck’s Ridicule? ]
Source: AlterNet

Ku Klux Klowns

Ah yes, the Faux News-sponsored September 12th protests in Washington DC. I’m glad I didn’t dare go outside, for fear of being lynched by the mob for walking while black. But don’t just take my word for it:

How many white, middle-aged, overweight, pissed-off right-wingers does it take to unscrew a light bulb?

Depends on who you ask.

all it a group hug for the demonstrably deranged. But there was more to it than just standard-issue anti-Obama sentiments being aired in the streets. Layered beneath the whole scene was a hard vein of bitter racism the participants didn’t even try to hide.

“Packs of taxpayer marchers shuffled down Pennsylvania Avenue proudly waving signs,” wrote author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson. “‘The Long Legged Mack Daddy,’ ‘Where’s the Birth Certificate,’ ‘Mississippi Freedom Riders,’ ‘Whoa Boys Take it from Here’ (Obama waving to black and Islamic militants). Many defiantly waved Confederate flags and the Texas state flag (separatist movement emblem). Meanwhile, South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, Congresspersons Mike Pence, Phil Gingrey and Marsha Blackburn, and organizer mouthpiece scandal-plagued former House majority leader Dick Armey profusely swore that the march had nothing to do with race, politics, or even President Obama. The racist flags, symbols and signs, though, gave big lie to their profuse denials. Racism was on full and ugly display on the Capitol Mall. No attempt was made to mask it. Some protesters seemed quite proud to openly send a message about race and Obama.”

But wait, there’s more – these throngs of hateful old white men, eager to make sure the rest of the world knows exactly what side they stand on now and more than likely what side they stood 30 years ago.

Well, nobody said you have to be smart in order to become a hero to the far right. In fact, it helps to be dumber than a sack of hair, if only to match wits with the kind of people who were marching this weekend holding signs that read “Bury Obamacare With Kennedy.” Stay classy, GOP.

To be fair, not everyone in the Republican Party was thrilled with the nauseating display of hatred and unabashed racism in DC this weekend. Several of the GOP’s leading lights have raised deep concerns about the party being overtaken by these insane idiots. “Such insiders point to theories running rampant on the Internet,” reported The Los Angeles Times on Monday, “such as the idea that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is thus ineligible to be president, or that he is a communist, or that his allies want to set up Nazi-like detention camps for political opponents. Those theories, the insiders say, have stoked the GOP base and have created a “purist” climate in which a figure such as Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) is lionized for his ‘You lie!’ outburst last week when Obama addressed Congress. They are ‘wild accusations and the paranoid delusions coming from the fever swamps,’ said David Frum, a conservative author and speechwriter for President George W. Bush who is among the more vocal critics of the party base and of the conservative talk show hosts helping to fan the unrest. ‘Like all conservatives, I am concerned about this administration’s accumulation of economic power,’ Frum said. ‘Still, you have to be aware that there’s a line where legitimate concerns begin to collapse into paranoid fantasy.'”

Frum was being nice, actually, because he knows better than anyone what took place in Washington this weekend. It was a Klan rally minus the bedsheets and torches. These people don’t even have enough shame to hide their faces anymore. If more Republicans like Frum don’t come forward to denounce such activities from their right flank, that right flank is going to finish the job of taking over the GOP, and hard as it is to believe, this kind of obnoxious craziness is going to seem quaint by comparison to what will be coming next.

I think that’s putting it nicely – a Klan rally minus the bedsheets and torches – and we need to start treating these people as such.

[ Ku Klux Klowns ]
Source: TruthOut

The Mugging of the Common Good

By and large, I want to believe that Americans understand that we’re all part of a community, and that in order for that community to thrive and succeed we need to work together. Sadly, there’s a very vocal minority that seems to believe that this truth is dangerous and somehow makes the people who understand this to be the case “communists” and “socialists” because they understand that each person must contribute to the well-being of their community, their locality, their state, and ultimately, their country and countrymen.

Some of our finest institutions already understand that the work they do has a broader impact and affects people far away from their offices and homes. Only in America can an individual do so much alone, but also do so much with the help of their community – and because that gift is a double-edged sword, only in America can the passion of the individual lead to a perverse sense of self-entitlement and selfishness where individuals feel they have the right to forsake their community for individual benefit.

This brings us to the teabaggers, the anti-everything conservatives, the anti-health care astroturfers, the libertarians – the people who believe that any form of taxation, much less contributing voluntarily to the common good, is somehow an attempt by “feel-good liberals” to make themselves feel better without actually solving problems, even when there’s data and real-world experience to prove them wrong. These are the folks who think that taxation is somehow legalizing the redistribution of wealth, and they only complain when their taxes are used for the common good; never when their taxes are used to build bombs and guns.

Robert Borosage, writing for the Campaign for America’s Future, warns us that we’re witnessing a harrowing but critical point in our democracy, and we have to come together to stand against the forces that would tear it apart:

In the wake of the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, the president has called for fundamental reforms vital to the country’s future. Put aside whether he’s been too bold or too timid, whether he has pushed hard enough or too hard; there isn’t any question he is calling the nation to its senses.

Our health care system is broken and unsustainable. Comprehensive reform is unavoidable. We can’t continue to rely on fossil fuels; sustainable energy is a security imperative, not a choice. We need to shackle Wall Street, to shrink the size and excess profits of finance, and force it away from its addiction to gambling and back to the essential business of investing in the real economy. We have to reduce the crony capitalist subsidies that get squandered on agribusiness and Cold War weapons systems and top-end tax cuts, and use that money to invest in education, in a modern infrastructure, in research and development vital to a vibrant, high-road economy.

This really shouldn’t be controversial. Yes, disagreements about how to get this done are to be expected, but the status quo is simply indefensible. Despite all the fantasies of the rabid right, Obama is moderate by temperament, creative at compromise. He is, as one of his White House staff members described him, a “raging minimalist.” He really does believe you put everyone around a table, have a “civil conversation,” find areas of agreement and move forward. He does believe that everyone – from billionaire hedge-fund operators to insurance company CEOS to conservative legislators – will in a crisis put the country first.

But he and his reform program are getting mugged. He’s taken on the most powerful private interests in America – Big Oil, Wall Street, the insurance and drug lobbies – and they are winning. Republicans, despite the shattering of their conservative shibboleths, have chosen, with lockstep unity, obstruction over compromise. And too many Democrats have shown themselves more beholden to the private interests that pay for their campaigns than the public interest the president of their own party invokes.

We are witnessing a harrowing test of our democracy. America is a big, bustling and entrepreneurial country. We pursue our own passions and pursuits, are jealous of our freedoms, and begrudge governmental intrusions. But in a crisis – faced with depression or war, our history tells us many become one. We join together for the common good.

Well, it is hard to imagine a greater crisis than the one this country has faced over the last years. A middle class that has suffered a lost decade. Two wars. The Great Recession. Gilded Age inequality. Catastrophic climate change accelerating faster than most predictions.

Yet, we haven’t come together. Wall Street lobbies against reform. Derivative traders will ante up hundreds of millions to block regulation of credit default swaps. Goldman Sachs is back to computerized gambling and billions in bonuses. The insurance companies are spending over a million-and-a-half dollars a day against comprehensive health-care reform.

The president’s preemptive compromises only feed their appetites. He offers polluters a good portion of the revenue generated by “cap and trade.” They lobby to weaken the cap.

He bails out banks rather than taking them over and reorganizing them. They lobby against his financial reforms. He doesn’t try to push for Medicare for All, accepting the role of employment-based private insurance, and he’s accused of a government takeover of health care.

The teabaggers were in Washington this past weekend. Despite their racial furies and right-wing fantasies, they shouldn’t be dismissed. Many are working people, losing ground in an economy that isn’t working for them. They are angry at a government that seems to take their taxes to bail out billionaire bankers, while they are left to swim or sink. They have every good reason to believe Washington caters to the wealthy and the connected, and not to them. And it is all too easy to deflect that anger to “them” – illegal immigrants, poor minorities, foreign aid recipients.

He’s absolutely right – these people and all of their rage are all too pliable, which is why they’re so easily recruited by Faux News and their producers and variety show hosts (because I dare not call Glenn Beck a journalist) to rally outside of Washington, dig up derogatory and racially inflammatory titles to call the President of the United States, carry assault rifles near his speeches, and decry the very common good that they would stand the most to gain from should they simply allow it to move in the direction it should.

This comes down again to the fact that progressives need to help and push President Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress to make the changes they promised to make; conservatives be damned. When the jobs start coming back and the economy starts moving again, it’ll only prove that the conservatives and the far-right are as disconnected from reality as we all know they are, if we manage to do this without their help. And right now, we don’t need their help – their idea of success is defeating any positive motion and sitting back, waiting for us, and the nation as a whole, to fail so they can sweep in and place blame on the left for the very problems they’ve caused. What’s the benefit of working with someone who has this strategy when you can instead move the country forward while exposing this strategy for what it is?

[ The Mugging of the Common Good ]
Source: Campaign for America’s Future (via TruthOut)

September 14, 2009

Rachel Maddow: Republicans & Their Small Angry Tent

I’ll let Rachel Maddow speak for herself:

Yeah, that about sums up the Republicans these days – all wind and bluster, and a group of very angry white men angry that the winds of change have turned to equality and against their dominion. That being said, it’s important to make sure to stand against that wind or else rational, well-minded people get carried away by it.

[ Rachel Maddow: Republicans & Their Small Angry Tent ]
Source: AlterNet