Deem and pass was not the problem. A good politician could have framed it as "I refused to vote for the bill until I had a package before me that corrected all that dealmaking from the Senate." The problem is we have a flatfooted party that waits on EVERYTHING--every single issue--for the other side to define (or lie about, or both), then lets an entire propanganda campaign rage for weeks before trying to put out its own point of view. Even if we win this battle--still uncertain--I can't see that the leadership has learned anything about communicating with the public. We have some great issues ahead of us. One if college loan reform. Why let the hated banks make a huge profit for doing little and risking nothing? Leave it to our Democratic leadership. By the time the people hear about the issue, the Democrats will be trying to allow Satan into colleges and have death panels for ordinary folks working at banks. We suck at messaging.
The people elect leaders, and expect them to lead. Obama's weakness at this point is that he isn't seen as a leader who stands up for what he believes, but as a sausagemaker. He has captured most of the discontent of the people on healthcare because he ran away from his campaign promises in favor letting the unsavory legislative process fill up the entire health care debate. He announces a decision, then looks like a scared puppy when the decision is challenged, and accepts any compromise, no matter how humiliating. This is the opposite of leadership.
The people expect the same thing--leadership--from their representatives. If you haved believed in a set of principles, and campaigned on them, you need to stand up bravely and fight for them. People respect a fighter, even when the fighter loses.
This is why Cost's advice is so backwards. The Democrats already have a reputation for being wobbly on basic principles. Running to the right will only reinforce that reputation among the Demcratic base, disgust independents, and fail to convince a single Republican.
If Democrats want to win, they should stand for the public option, for reforming student loans, for very tough (indeed, punitive) financial reform, and shift back to job creation. The Democratic leadership could announce a Social Security reform package of modest delaying in qualifying to take place down the road, combined with raising the cap for payroll deductions. They could then announce "Social Security is fully funded for the next 60 years."
There should also be regular announcements about how much of the financial bailout has been repaid. It is a huge amount. I bet that most Americans, if asked, would say that the money all disappeared.
I wasn't able to get a look at the report itself from the links, so I found the Iowa Policy Institute online. Its mission statement refers to their work being grounded in a belief in God, free enterprise and personal responsibility. Fair enough. So I looked at their publications available on the site, which do not include the energy study which is the subject of Charles' post. They oppose the health care bill (in an article in September 2009 that cites a CBO estimate of a $240 billion increase in debt, rather than the later reduction in debt the CBO concluded for the bill that passed the Senate.). But the piece goes much further in opposing a government role in health care. Their piece on climate change and the British email controversy manages to avoid taking any position on whether man-made climate change exists while subtly reinforcing the idea that there must be a lot of scientific hanky-panky going on. The institute strongly supports Iowa's "right to work" statute, which bans unions from requiring membership as a condition of employment in a union shop. So the study, which in summary seems to be lauding MidAmerican Energy, may deserve closer scrutiny.
Here a couple of questions to ask about the contents of the study. What does their 3670 megawatt figure represent? Wind is intermittent. It is great if the wind generation supplies almost 4000 megawatts of power throughout winter, not so great if it supplies that much power 12 per cent of the time. The second, related question: What about storage? Electrical energy can only be stored at great expense, which is one reason why sources that can be precisely turned on and off, such as fossil fuel, nuclear and hydro, predominate.
More wind energy production in general is a good thing, but the constancy of the supply and the ability to control it are still huge hurdles to overcome.
I am a constituent of Rep. Blumenauer, and I find this targeting of him inexcusable.
Jonathan has made the point very well that Earl is a real progressive. He is not a public firebrand most of the time, but he has stood for the right things and accomplished a lot for progressive ideas. Anyone who rides a bike in America should regard him as a hero.
I want to focus instead on the wrongheadedness of attacking progressives if they don't maintain 100.00% purity to the cause. Moderates and progressives are at a real structure disadvantage in American politics, and that disadvantage is not going away. Here are the basic building blocks of this disadvantage (others can certainly think of more).
1. Two senators from every state, even though more than one-half of those states are rural, conservative, and have very small populations.
2. The filibuster rule in the Senate, which gives even more power to the conservatives. That rule won't go away because rules changes take a 2/3 majority (unless the Democrats are willing to go with the nuclear option of recent notoriety).
3. The huge power of corporate money, which infiltrates every aspect of national and state government. One of the less-noted ways in which small state senators and representatives are unable to deliver on health care reform is that in many of those states, one or two health insurance providers dominate the state, and can easily make or break a politican there.
4. The national and regional news media,fundamentally hostile to most progressive ideas. This is only made worse now that newspapers and magazines are in crisis and cannot afford to offend the groups that buy 90% or more of their advertisements.
5. The ease with which reactionaries can take a complicated idea and attack it with hysterical, simple-minded responses. The truth of those responses becomes irrelevant, because they are memes that stick, while the complicated policy ideas are never understood by most of the people.
Progressives just don't have the power to force most of their big ideas through the system. It is stacked against us. We instead need to play the cards we hold. We need to have good ideas. Then we need to develop SIMPLE, understandable policies to introduce those ideas to the public. Hand in hand with the simple policies, we need to control the message about the policies. (Democrats are once again letting the GOP define everything the Democrats do or say.)
Then, with good message control and good basic policy, the people can actually sample the good results that the progressive ideas create.
A concrete way to accomplish health care reform now, with the cards we have. Make it a two-pronged strategy. First, take the reconciliation path on a very simple plan to greatly expand Medicare and Medicaid, paid for by increased taxes on the wealthy and corporations. (This simple approach ensures that there is little or not not budgetary items that the Senate can challenge as not allowed in reconciliation.) Second, have the House send a very simple health insurance reform package to the Senate, with an end to pre-existing conditions, dropping coverage when a covered person gets sick, etc. That very simple package, easy to sell, easy to understand, will be very hard for the Republicans to oppose.
The committee awarded the 1984 prize to the Reverend Desmond Tutu for his efforts eliminating apartheid. The formal apartheid regime lasted another ten years. The award gave Tutu much more authority for his efforts, signaled to the South African government that the world's patience had run out, and made that government's efforts to keep the system in place much harder. It is a real open question whether the system would have crashed on anything like that time line if the award had gone elsewhere. Further, Tutu led the efforts for the Truth and Reconciliation process, which has helped the post-apartheid nation build something new together.
That decision was clearly meant not just to award past accomplishment, but to provide impetus for further movement toward peace. In the same way, today's award can be seen as the committee's signal that the Western world has repudiated Bush policies and theories and is supporting Obama's real efforts to achieve non-proliferation, climate change reduction and outreach to the Islamic world.
Sometimes people forget that the Peace Prize is not like a career achievement Oscar, but is a political action on the part of the committee.
The comments here seem to say more about the preconceptions of the people making them than the allegations on each side and the possibility of weighing one against the other. Some are automatically crediting Gates with total accuracy and truth while presuming everything the police said is a lie. Some, while fewer, seem to be doing the reverse.
I am confident of three things.
1. While police targeting of minorities can be demonstrated in many jurisdictions, it is much harder to make that charge against individual officers. An officer may have a record of complaints that supports such an allegation. Or not. However, those who are so ready to tar individual officers with racism charges based upon generalities seem to be committing the same sin as those who suspect all blacks of being criminals because some are.
The department may need to clean up a lot, but that doesn't mean every officer is dirty.
2. As a lawyer, I deal constantly with witnesses on different sides with diametrically opposed stories of what happened in a situation. As Dr. House says, "Everyone lies." Sometimes there is just no way to determine the truth. Sometimes, it takes enormous effort just to disprove one or two statements of fact in a witness's story.
One difference here may be important, though. Neither Dr. Gates nor his attorney are under oath when giving a press release. Police officers are required to be truthful in their reports and can face discipline up to and including firing for false reports. No guarantee of course, but the pressure on the two side is different.
3. Police officers are charged with keeping the peace. Many of them face life and death situations frequently. Ask any cop who has responded to domestic calls about how quickly one can flair up into violence against one or the other domestic partners or the police. Ask a cop why he or she might want a person to come out where the person is more easily observed and has less potential access to a weapon. You might also ask them whether they have ever had a situation where a well-dressed person ended up posing a serious threat to other civilians or officers.
I still don't now who is right about what happened. Or, more likely, which parts of each story is more reliable. Both police reports and press releases are after-the-fact prepared statements that can hold more than a little CYA.
I just don't get the logic of this. Look at three facts. One, the national GOP has committed to a strategy of blocking every Democratic initiative in Congress. Two, there is no chance whatsoever that a Republican senator from Oklahoma will be a moderate Republican. Three, there is no chance whatsoever that we will be able to get Oklahoma to elect a progressive Democrat to the US Senate. I don't know about the specifics with Ben Nelson, but look at John Tester, or Jim Webb, or others.
They may not be with us all the time, but they are most of the time, and are miles better than the Republican alternative.
Sorry, I just can't get too excited about Obama keeping away from this issue. The fact that there seems to be a growing tide of states authorizing marriage equality allows Obama some wiggle room. He is using that wiggle room to try to accomplish items on a huge agenda. That agenda was made necessary by the insane policies of the Republican party. As long as others are willingly doing the heavy lifting right now, let Obama focus on the 693 things he has to get done, and nobody else can do instead of him.
All of this fuss about EFCA goes past the fundamental issue: employee elections regarding representation are now fundamentally corrupted by how businesses are allowed to interfere with the process. Electoral reform should be as high a priority as EFCA. Better yet, double track them, so that business has to argue (1) that it should be able to interfere with employee choice by election, and (2) any alternative to election should be impossibly hard to actually use.
If reform occurs, of course, I can see an advantage to labor to have the choice of a 50% + 1 election or a card campaign with a 55% threshold. Different circumstances might make the union choose the card campaign at times.
Well, I am an old fart who doesn't know how to do links, but I just spent 30 seconds on a google search and cam up with an ABC News report by Jake Tapper from August 2007 calling for shifting at least two brigades from Iraq to Afghanistan. I am sure that your teeming hordes of researchers could find more.
The Reagan message was all government is bad. Kill it.
The pragmatic message (and Obama is nothing if not a pragmatist) is that government and private enterprise are good at different things. Some things the private sector is great at. The problem is the great incentive to externalize costs, to the great expense of everybody else.
The government is good at some things and not others.
The trick is to examine and re-examine each task the government may need or want to do. Can private enterprise do a better job (like making consumer products)? Or is the task one that only government can do by its very nature? One example is prisons. This is a government function. When private companies get involved it is one of two models: (1)get contract from government, so government is still responsible and still paying, but private company now makes a profit (and maybe, MAYBE, improves the function while having every incentive to cut corners); or (2) private companies offer the service but profit by skimming off the potentially profitable cases while leaving the rest to the government (i.e., many private schools).
To boil this down: We will examine every job government is asked to do. We will only do those jobs that only government can do, or that government can do better than the private sector. Then we will watch these jobs very carefully to keep the cost to taxpayers low and to make sure the job is done right.
I'm coming to all of this late--I will view Jindal's speech in a few minutes. But I just couldn't fail to comment on what David Brooks said. Brooks just called the entire agenda (really, the entire philosophy) of the Republican Party "nihilism."
I have had a lot of descriptions that I have used, but I haven't used "nihilism." It is perfect. The GOP is showing the whole world that they are willing to take this country into economic horror for the sake of their political fortunes and for the sake of their kindergarten economic philosophy. We all should be reinforcing that picture.
The strategy of "shifting to the outer edges" has to first take into account the pre-existing spread of the party across the spectrum. It has been working for Democrats because it is a reaction to decades of electing Democrats who tried to succeed by making themselves into little Republicans or by approaching each issue as a possibility for compromise away from the interests of their constituencies.
The Republicans, in the same era, systematically purged their party of moderates and enforced an unbending orthodoxy on its officeholders. After initial success (based on the perception of many Americans in the 1970s and 1980s that the liberal worldview was exhausted) the Republican party became what it is today: A far-right party with an ossified philosophy that has stayed in power this long only through fear- and hate-mongering, and control of information more like an authoritarian regime than what Americans knew before.
Their present efforts to "return to their ideals" is the opposite of what the Democrats have done. The Democrats have rediscovered their old ideals that will serve a broad majority of Americans and benefit the whole nation and the world. The Republicans can only engage in further purges and message control (and extremist tactics such as election fraud and propaganda) that appeal to fewer and fewer Americans. They are not only making themselves into a regional party. They are making themselves into an extremist, sliver party that will survive only through continued control of information.