Peace, Love, and Rock-n-Roll from a proud Lefty, Liberal, Socialist Hippie

Monday, January 21, 2013

Will Obama be a lame duck liberal?

I just read an interesting piece, entitled "The president liberals were waiting for is (finally) here." by Chris Cillizza over at his blog (The Fix) at the Washington post. Now, to be honest, I didn't listen to today's inaugural address (don't yet know if I will when I get home). I have heard years of Obama's oratorical art and, as most, have found it eloquent and moving. The thing is, I have also witnessed his actions and, for the most part, have found them to be lacking.  And here is where my problem with Cillizza's conclusion (and he is far from alone) comes to bear. Cillizza writes,

"Couched in rhetoric about the need to come together as a country was a strong — and surprisingly pointed — invocation of a laundry list of progressive principles: gay rights, voting rights, climate change and the inherent value of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security...

...The question going forward is whether President Obama will make good on the progressive agenda he outlined today. Does he push hard on climate change or some sort of broader energy policy? Does he cut a deal with Republicans on immigration reform or go it alone believing they will follow? On guns, will he accept a smaller-bore version of the legislative proposals he outlined last week or go for the whole enchilada (or something close to it)?

Those questions are, at the moment, impossible to answer. What we do know: In his second inaugural speech, President Obama forcefully embraced the sort of progressive agenda for which liberals — and Democrats more broadly — have long pined."

Now it's not that I don't think these things are of important to progressives/liberals but whether he mentioned them directly in his first inaugural address or not, he certainly ran as a candidate claiming full throated support for them in 2008 and yet here we are in 2013 still waiting to see if he will stand firm on these values and many others that are also of equal importance to liberals.

Where in today's speech was there mention of a return to full civil liberties for ALL Americans; an end to domestic spying via phone taps or other means, an end to undressing to board a plane? Where was the talk of ending drone warfare and presidential kill lists? These are also things liberals "pine" for. Was there talk of universal healthcare like every other industrialized country in the world?

Cillizza says that President Obama spoke of the "inherent value of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security." Did he actually say that he would not allow these programs to be "on the table" in any talks having to do with defict reduction or budget balancing? When he called them "entitlement programs" did he say it in the context of those who would do these programs harm or did he remind folks that these programs are paid for by the recipients who are indeed entitled to the product of their payments?

A half hour of rhetoric about gay right and voting rights - which should have already been decided by this president's 1st term Justice Department - and climate change still does not show me anything. Oh I want him to succeed and I do want him to move forward with a liberal agenda but I certainly am not holding my breath. Let's see where we are in a year's time and then decide whether our liberal president is (finally) here.

According to Merriam Webster

OK, one more time for all you geniuses that still refer to President Obama as a Socialist:

Definition of CAPITALISM

: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market


Definition of SOCIALISM

: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods


Definition of COMMUNISM

a: a theory advocating elimination of private property

b: a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed
So please stop insulting us Socialists (and wannabe Communists) by lumping a rabid Capitalist like Obama in with us. While he may believe in "regulated Capitalism" the means of production and distribution still lies in the grubby hands of the monied classes.
Chad (The Left) Shue

Friday, January 11, 2013

Calling all Progressives......Hello?... Hello?

It is no secret that I have strong feelings about what passes as a Progressive Wing in the Democratic Party. Just a couple of days ago I wrote about the “din of deafening ambivalence from the left” over President Obama’s selection of John Brennan to be the next CIA chief. Brennan; for those who are not aware, is considered the architect of the Obama “death by drone” program as well as the final filter for the presidential “kill list.” There was this in 2011 over the lack of Progressive angst over Obama’s apparent willingness to side-step due process in his pursuit of “the terrorists.” And this from last February about the continuing unabated move to the right in American politics as seemingly supported by “self-identified” Progressive Democrats.

Then on Wednesday I ran across a piece by Norman Solomon writing at Common Dreams.org. The piece, entitled: The Progressive Caucus: Enabling Obama’s Rightward Moves levels some richly deserved criticisms at the Congressional Progressive Caucus. While reminding us/them that they are still the largest single sub-caucus (and, therefore, potential voting block) of Democrats he says have, heavyweight size but [a] flyweight punch.” He writes,

“During the last four years, its decisive footwork has been so submissive to the White House that you can almost hear the laughter from the West Wing when the Progressive Caucus vows to stand firm.

A sad pattern of folding in the final round has continued. When historic votes come to the House floor, party functionaries are able to whip the Progressive Caucus into compliance. The endgame ends with the vast majority of the caucus members doing what Obama wants.

That’s what happened on the first day of this year, when the “bipartisan” fiscal deal came down. Widely denounced by progressive analysts, the bill passed on the House floor by a margin of 44 votes – with the Progressive Caucus providing the margin. Out of 75 caucus members, only seven voted against it.”

Solomon also reminds us of the sad retreat over the “robust public option” during the healthcare reform debate and vote.

“A two-step prototype hit the ground running in September 2009 when Progressive Caucus co-chairs sent a public letter to Obama on behalf of the caucus – pledging to vote against any healthcare bill “without a robust public option.” Six months later, on the House floor, every member of the Progressive Caucus wilted under pressure and voted for a healthcare bill with no public option at all.”

As I say, I believe the criticism is deserved but I have to admit I am very interested by his conclusion,

“What we have witnessed so far is surrender in stages – a chronic confluence of conformity and undue party loyalty, with brave talk from caucus members habitually followed by contrary votes on the floor of the House of Representatives. From the grassroots, progressives must mobilize to pressure every member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to let them know we will hold them accountable.”

I mean, seriously, how do we “hold them accountable”? I mean, aren’t we backing “Progressives” to hold the more “centrist Dems” more accountable? The whole thing makes my head spin to the point of leaving me nauseous. More and more I am convinced that the only way we achieve a truly Progressive agenda in this country is to simply “burn it down and rebuild.”

Others have suggested this “remedy” to me in the past and I have had the instant compulsion to reject the notion out of hand due to its apocalyptic overtones. But then 2010 happened and it opened my eyes. If the pundits are to be believed, Progressives stayed home in droves during the 2010 election cycle. This in turn gave rise to the Tea Party takeover of the US House and a glimpse of what a draconian future we would have under totalitarian rule. Even though, in fact, we actually suffered no real change between 2010 and 2012 (due in large part to a non-functional Senate), the threat of drastic change based on the promises of the hard core conservatives was enough to once again drive people to the polls to vote for Democrats in a large way. What this said to me was we (Progressives) could actually follow through on our threats to not vote for anyone who would not sign on to a real Progressive agenda – end the wars, support real revenue reform that would in turn fund necessary infrastructure and social welfare improvements, defend and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, support Single Payer, etc.) – and let the chips fall where they may.

And just in case there are those who worry about what a Progressive “Burn and Rebuild” strategy might do locally, feel free to introduce them to WA State Senator, Rodney Tom (?-Medina)
Chad (The Left) Shue

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Is Rodney Tom a leader without a following?

Q: What do you call a leader with no followers?

A: Someone just out for a walk.

On Monday the state legislature will convene for the opening day of the 2013 legislative session. As I wrote here in December, it should be an interesting day as “sometimes/maybe/says he is” Democratic State Senator Rodney Tom of Medina steps up to change senate rules and be proclaimed Majority Leader of himself, Potlach DINO Tim Sheldon and 23 senate Republicans.

While Tom continues to insist that the coup he is leading is all about finding a better path to a more “centrist” state budget, others are standing firmly behind the belief that the move is all about power and betrayal. In fact the sting of his act has brought the wrath of his own legislative district’s Democratic organization out in the form of a resolution condemning him and threatening to withhold any future support; either monetarily or logistically. Publicola reported this morning,

The 48th District Democrats voted 30-8 last night to approve a resolution saying that by breaking ranks with his party to give Republicans control of the state senate, making himself the new senate majority leader, 48th District Sen. Rodney Tom was "rendering himself ineligible for our future endorsement and support."
Apparently the resolution adopted by the 48th was a watered down version of a resolution authorized by Democratic activist Sarajane Seigfriedt from the 43rd LD who, in a comment to a 2nd piece at Publicola, offered this,

“I will claim authorship of the resolution to censure Sen. Tom, including the reference to his" perfidious" and disloyal behavior, that is making the rounds of the local Democratic reorganization meetings this month. It will also be considered by the 46th Dems on January 17th and by the King County Dems on January 22nd, making it eligible for consideration by the State Central Committee February 1-2. I attended the meeting of the 48th LD Dems last night. The meeting to draft their resolution was attended by Rep. Ross Hunter, who, I was told, insisted that the "censure" language be removed, and that it be treated as a move not to endorse in an election two years in the future, a far less serious move. A letter from State Party Chair Dwight Pelz urging censure was circulated at the meeting, but no amendments were allowed by Phil Kouse, the new chair…”

Among the many issues state Democrats are having with Tom’s explanations for the takeover of the senate is the fact that, even though the state’s voters returned a majority of Democrats to the legislature and the governor’s mansion (as well as every other state office except the Secretary of State), Tom’s actions will place Republicans in the chairmanships of every influential committee in the senate. While the would-be Majority Leader has insisted that he is all about the budget and education and will not allow a Republican social agenda to come to the fore; he has failed to accept the fact that budgets are products of social agendas. With a governor-elect who comes to office with a plan to move forward with a strong clean-energy/clean-environment economic plan and a Republican Party that votes against both of those items at every opportunity, it is hard to imagine an Inslee budget even seeing its way out of committee and on to the floor for debate. And, of course, there will be the issue of Obamacare implementation; something that will need to make its way out of a Republican chaired healthcare committee. And we can sure that there will be much more over the course of the session.

There can be little doubt that state Republicans are absolutely ecstatic considering that, despite losing at the ballot box, their former comrade in arms has just handed them the keys to the castle. State Republican Party Chair, Kirby Wilbur, has sent a letter to his fellow Republicans,

“With Republicans at the helm of the Ways & Means and K-12 committees, a no-new-taxes budget and real education reform are now at the forefront of this year's legislative session.  For that we owe a debt of gratitude to Senator Tom and Sheldon's bold leadership!

Please call Senator Tom today and thank him for joining with the coalition.”

Well, at least somebody out there still likes him.

Chad (the Left) Shue

Obama's Drone War

Five suspected militants died in a U.S. drone strike in a village in northwest Pakistan last week.

The drone strike was the seventh in two weeks, one of the most intense series of attacks in the past two years.

The U.S. views drone attacks as a key weapon against Taliban and al-Qaida militants out of its forces' reach in Pakistan's tribal region. But the attacks are extremely unpopular in Pakistan...

No Duh!

And then there is this:

"We made a huge mistake one night in Afghanistan," recounted Gen. Stanley McChrystal (former commander of the Afghanistan war; now a lecturer at Yale University) "We killed a civilian farmer in the middle of the night with an attack helicopter based upon intelligence we had from an aerial platform. The guy was digging by the side of the road."

Mistakenly believing that the farmer was planting a bomb, the U.S. military ordered a helicopter strike, only learning later that the farmer, who was simply doing some nightime soil tilling to avoid the heat of the day, posed no threat.

Makes me wonder if maybe the farmer's son embraces America's role in his country or if he may now become the threat his father wasn't?

Chad (the Left) Shue