The Most Powerful, Nonviolent Tool We Have To Create A More Perfect Union

September 7, 2012 at 2:28 am | Posted in civil rights, elections, politics straight up, Voting Rights | Leave a comment
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John Lewis being ushered into a police patrol wagon during a racial demonstration in Nashville, Tenn., as a number of people watch. c.1964

John Lewis gave a speech on Thursday night, in the first hour of the convention, that almost nobody saw, which is too bad, because it summed up the great unmentioned subtext of this year’s election — namely, that, between the new torrents of money that are overwhelming the system, and the rise again of voter-suppression legalisms in the various states, which are in many cases products of those same new torrents of money, the election is coming perilously close to becoming a puppet show. The Republicans didn’t mention that, because they have taken in so much of the new money, and because Republican governors and legislators in the various states are behind the new voter-suppression laws, and everybody knows that. The Democrats are caught in a bind, because they have to play in the new universe of campaign finance, too, and because they’re trying to keep up with a symphony of well-financed propaganda that seeks to make voter-suppression into a good-government initiative. John Lewis is not fooled. John Lewis has seen this before. And John Lewis told the convention what he’s seeing rising in the country out of his own past.

If I were running the president’s campaign, I’d shut the hell up about Simpsonp-fking-Bowles and put John Lewis on an airplane and let him tell his story in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and everywhere else this atavistic authoritarian nonsense is going down. There’s more at risk here than anyone knows.

If you did not hear John Lewis’s convention speech, you can do so at C-Span.


Why I am a Democrat

September 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Posted in elections, immigration, Occupy, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Charlie Pierce Tom Junod (my apologies!) explains it as I never could.

Men standing in line in corridor of naturalization office in New York City. c.1916

Was it just a beautiful dream?

June 24, 2011 at 1:19 am | Posted in civil rights, Economy, elections, Obituary, politics straight up, Reality Bites, Voting Rights | Leave a comment
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Benjamin Franklin signing the Declaration of Independence

In every way imaginable, the Right opposes both the inclusiveness and expansiveness that characterized the last three centuries of democratic advance. It is not coincidental that its two great avatars, Thatcher and Reagan, confirmed their political position by breaking strikes.

Mother and child of agricultural day laborers family encamped near Spiro. Sequoyah County, Oklahoma. 1939 June. Photographer, Russell Lee (Library of Congress)

The American polity is foundering in a perfect anti-democratic storm created by, in combination, a depth of inequality that appears unyielding to any prescription and that is maintained by a sclerotic political system; a state that can be mobilized only for self-destructive imperial adventures; a dangerously irrational subset of the citizenry fed toxic propaganda by an hypertrophied mass media; and a financial plutocracy that seems to have outreached all possibilities of containment. If this tendency continues, democracy will become less a contested terrain and more a land of myth and legend.

From Farewell to Democracy? by Philip Green

Why is the Obama Administration negotiating with terrorists?

November 17, 2010 at 10:15 am | Posted in Bush, Foreign Affairs, Obama!, politics straight up, Reality Bites, terrorism | Leave a comment
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"Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland. Gas demonstration. Reconditioning gas masks at the gas mask factory." 1942 June. Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)

The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats still don’t understand that Republicans don’t care if they destroy the country, whether it be by foreign or domestic means.

Because a police state is so much better than a nanny state.

Well, better for the terrorists anyway.

Vote Republican!

October 6, 2010 at 10:33 am | Posted in elections, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Once Republicans are in charge, your house may burn down but your unborn fetus will have the right to vote!

Republican Deficit Spending? Blame Democrats — that’s what a Teabagger would do!

September 17, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Posted in Economy | Leave a comment
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2010 elections

April 16, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Posted in elections, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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South Carolina representative Robert B. Elliott's famous speech in favor of the Civil Rights Act, delivered in the House of Representatives on January 6, 1874, is memorialized here. The Act, which guaranteed equal treatment in all places of public accommodation to all people regardless of their "nativity, race, color, or persuasion, religious or political," was passed on March 1, 1875. The central image shows Congressman Elliott speaking from the floor of the House of Representatives. Hanging from the ceiling is a banner with a quotation from his speech: "What you give to one class you must give to all. What you deny to one class. You deny to all." Above are two Civil War scenes of black troops in action. On the left is a full-length statue of Abraham Lincoln, holding a bundle of arrows and his Emancipation Proclamation, standing before the U.S. Capitol. On the right is another statue, of Civil Rights advocate Charles Sumner holding the "Bill of Civil Rights," in front of Faneuil Hall in Boston. Below Sumner are his words, "Equality of rights is the first of rights." Beneath the central scene is a view of a small farm with its black owner, family, and laborers. The caption below is "American Slave Labour is of the Present--We Toil for our Own Children and Not for Those of Others." At the far left are two black soldiers, and on the right black sailors. Below them are Lincoln's words, "Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion full one hundred thousand are now in the U. S. Service" and "So far as tested, it is difficult to say they are not as good soldiers as any." The words "Army," "Navy," "Jury," "Ballot," "Liberty," and "Equality" are inscribed in the borders. Further extracts from Elliott's speech appear throughout. Pub. E. Sachse & Co., 5 N. Liberty St., Baltimore, c1874. (Library of Congress)

People are talking about whether or not Democrats will lose their majority in the House in the fall, most seem to be thinking that’s very likely.

But given the complete absence of coherence by Republicans, I think their getting a majority in the House and Senate is good news for the Democrats in the long term.

If Republicans win a majority in November, they will lose the excuse for their two year long legislative absence.

I suppose it’s always possible that because enough Blue Dogs will vote in favor of whatever legislative horrors the Republicans manage to cobble together, the public decides that they’re better at “bipartisanship” and vote them a majority again in 2012.

But that would be very sad, because it would mean that the terrorists have won.

You want to defeat the filibuster?

February 13, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Posted in politics straight up, senate | Leave a comment
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Republican minority filibustering Democratic majority

Senate chamber in U.S. Capitol. 1952 April. (Library of Congress)

Clearly there are not 67 votes in the Senate to change the filibuster rule, but what about working within the system to make Republicans sweat the decision to demand a cloture vote to override a filibuster threat?

Senator Begich of Alaska had this to say about the filibuster in a recent interview, and it gave me an idea:

Begich: It’s just kind of a parlor game, it’s a parlor trick and what they do is they claim a “cloture vote” which is a vote that requires 60 votes instead of a real filibuster where you actually have to sit on the floor and talk about why you’re doing this. You just go home! And they get 30 hours to do nothing and the senate really just stands in stall. If people turn on C-Span they’ll see people presiding and the room empty, because they just get to burn up 30 hours of time and that’s it. In days gone by you’d actually have to come down and debate the reason why you’re holding up the legislation that might be in front. But the reason they don’t do that now, especially the minority, is because they’d be embarrassed. Because all they’re doing is coming down and delaying for the sake of delaying and costing this economy, costing American jobs, costing Alaskan jobs. It’s really a shame. So I hope in a lot of ways we can get beyond that a lot of the freshmen on both Democrat and Republican are somewhat fed up with that process and want to move forward and doing the business that this country, that my state, sent me here to do.

What if Democratic senators didn’t “go home,” but instead stayed in front of those C-Span cameras and explained to the American people what is not happening because Republicans are holding the government hostage? What if Democratic senators took the opportunity to educate the public about the costs and benefits of universal health care systems in other countries, or even Hawaii? I would imagine that Senator Franken could fill an hour talking about the NBC/Comcast merger.

The chances of Harry Reid taking the initiative and using that empty room to remind Americans through all those wasted hours just exactly why our government isn’t working is pretty remote. I keep trying to figure out why Harry Reid is Senate Majority Leader. Does he view it as an honorary title? From what I can see, at best he views himself as a kindergarten teacher, when he should be acting like the coach of a professional sports team. Instead of urging his members to play it safe, he should be encouraging his members to play hard ball.

If the Republicans don’t want to stand in the empty Senate chamber and filibuster, the Democratic senators should be standing there instead, pointing out that the Republicans don’t want the public to know that they have little or no good reason for blocking votes.

How about it, Democratic senators? Are you really so afraid of the crybaby Republicans that you can’t beat them at this stupid game?

Whose deficit?

January 15, 2010 at 11:29 am | Posted in Economy, Historical, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Blowing away the surplus

Illus. in: Harper's weekly, v. 31, no. 1576. 1887 March 5. (Library of Congress)

A recent Fox poll asked the question, “Who do you think is more responsible for the current state of the economy — President Obama, former President Bush or Congress?”

Six percent held President Obama responsible, 36 percent blamed Bush, 30 percent blamed Congress, 20 percent said it was some combination of the three, and 8 percent didn’t know.

Some people would say it’s not fair to blame Congress, but I do think those individuals who were members during the Bush administration rightfully deserve a share of responsibility. They were the ones, after all, who put Bush’s policies into action. It is nice to see though that despite the media saturated with fingers pointed at the current president, a very small number were buying.

David Axelrod has an op-ed in the WSJ where he lays out in simple, concise language the current state of affairs and how we got here.

The day the Bush administration took over from President Bill Clinton in 2001, America enjoyed a $236 billion budget surplus — with a projected 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion. When the Bush administration left office, it handed President Obama a $1.3 trillion deficit — and projected shortfalls of $8 trillion for the next decade. During eight years in office, the Bush administration passed two major tax cuts skewed to the wealthiest Americans, enacted a costly Medicare prescription-drug benefit and waged two wars, without paying for any of it.

How anyone can keep a straight face while pushing for a recommencing of the failed Republican policies that got us here is beyond me.

Thanks, Steve Benen!

Media/Political Establishment’s Rules for Understanding the Political Implications of Terrorism

January 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Posted in politics straight up, terrorism | Leave a comment
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Training for the Mouse Circus

Brown family at swings with upside down boy. (Library of Congress)

* If terrorists successfully attack during a Democratic president’s first year in office (first attack on World Trade Center), it’s the Democrats’ fault, and the attack is good news for Republicans.

* If terrorists unsuccessfully attack during a Democratic president’s second term, it’s the Democrats’ fault the terrorists even tried, and the attack is good news for Republicans.

* If terrorists successfully attack during a Republican president’s first year in office (9/11), it’s the Democrats’ fault, and the attack is good news for Republicans.

* If terrorists unsuccessfully attack during a Republican president’s second term, it’s only because the Republican is “taking the fight to the enemy,” and the attack is good news for Republicans.

* If terrorists unsuccessfully attack during a Democratic president’s first year in office, it’s the Democrats’ fault the terrorists even tried, and the attack is good news for Republicans.

In case that is not clear enough for you, Steve Benen summarizes: “bad news is good for Republicans; good news is good for Republicans; Democrats are to blame for Republican failures; and Republicans deserve credit for Democratic successes.”

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