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Dems to Obama: Get cracking on jobs

This campaign strategy doesn’t many any sense at all to me. I don’t know what good appealing to the middle will do when so many Democratic voters are disgusted enough not to vote at all. We’re in the middle of economic devastation unknown in our lifetime, and we’d like to see our president show more concern about that than his own reelection:

Obama’s jobs agenda, which he plans to tout on his Midwestern tour, calls for $30 billion to rebuild roads, bridges and ports; improvements to the patent system to spur innovation; trade deals with a trio of countries to boost exports; a $40-billion extension of unemployment insurance benefits; and renewal of the current one-year reduction of the payroll tax at a cost of up $120 billion.

A range of economists and Democratic critics call those ideas inadequate.

Asked about Obama’s support for free-trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a center-left think tank, said, “I would think they would be embarrassed to mention it.”

“These are small countries, and we already have a lot of trade with them,” he added.

Obama’s policies “are just not big enough to make much of a difference,” said Robert Reich, who was Labor secretary under President Clinton.

Alternative ideas have been floating up from Democratic think tanks, elected officials and strategists: Peter R. Orszag, Obama’s former budget director, advocates tripling the size of the payroll tax break — essentially wiping out the payroll tax entirely — and keeping the rate low as long as unemployment remains high.

This is one of the stupider ideas I’ve seen. In addition to robbing Social Security by cutting those taxes, people aren’t going to spend that money on anything more than the increased price of food and gas. There won’t be any left over to stimulate the economy in any meaningful way.

Others are pressing Obama to take advantage of low interest rates and borrow money to underwrite a far larger public works program. Such a plan would spur enough long-term economic growth to pay off the extra debt, supporters argue.

Mark Zandi, an economist who has advised the Obama administration, suggests making it easier for homeowners to refinance mortgages at today’s extremely low rates. The idea would be to eliminate charges that currently make it too costly for some people to refinance. He also advises changing immigration policies so that foreign students with advanced degrees find it easier to stay in the U.S.

Still, “There’s no magic bullet here,” Zandi said.

White House aides counter that large-scale, costly ideas stand little chance of getting through the Republican-controlled House.

But it’s no sure bet that Congress will go along with smaller-scale ideas either. Republican leadership aides said the GOP was supportive of the trade deals and a patent overhaul, although both have stalled several times this year. Obama’s call for renewing the payroll tax cut has drawn fire from some Republicans, who argue it would worsen the deficit, and the GOP has also opposed his plan to extend unemployment insurance.

Pollster Stanley B. Greenberg, who polled for Clinton’s White House, said voters had little patience for political leaders who limited policy proposals to what the opposition would support. White House officials can “get trapped in ‘what can get through Congress’ and the constraints of that debate,” Greenberg said, recalling similar arguments in the Clinton years. “Voters want you to break out of that” and answer the question, “What are you battling for?” he said.

The complaints about Obama come not only from long-standing critics, but from some who have been supportive in the past.

One Democratic congressman who has defended Obama to fellow liberals said he told White House officials at a recent meeting that they seemed to have Stockholm syndrome — embracing the Republican view that deficit reduction should be a major national priority, in the manner of hostages who come to sympathize with their captors.

Obama “sat in the room with Republicans so long talking about deficit reduction that he seems to be parroting the same lines,” said the congressman, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private meetings.

Wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross

I’ve been reading about the Dominionists (in this case, Seven Mountains Dominionists and Christian Reconstruction) for more than ten years, and the more I learn, the scarier it gets. The most important thing you should learn is that they believe in lying and cheating their way into power because it’s to do “God’s will.” The second is that there is no room for non-believers in their vision of America:

With Tim Pawlenty out of the presidential race, it is now fairly clear that the GOP candidate will either be Mitt Romney or someone who makes George W. Bush look like Tom Paine. Of the three most plausible candidates for the Republican nomination, two are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn’t optional.

Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America’s most radical theocrats, it’s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outré, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult. Most writers, myself included, who explore it have been called paranoid. In a contemptuous 2006 First Things review of several books, including Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy, and my own Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote, “the fear of theocracy has become a defining panic of the Bush era.”

Now, however, we have the most theocratic Republican field in American history, and suddenly, the concept of Dominionism is reaching mainstream audiences. Writing about Bachmann in The New Yorker this month, Ryan Lizza spent several paragraphs explaining how the premise fit into the Minnesota congresswoman’s intellectual and theological development. And a recent Texas Observer cover story on Rick Perry examined his relationship with the New Apostolic Reformation, a Dominionist variant of Pentecostalism that coalesced about a decade ago. “[W]hat makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government,” wrote Forrest Wilder. Its members “believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take ‘dominion’ over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the ‘Seven Mountains’ of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world.”

In many ways, Dominionism is more a political phenomenon than a theological one. It cuts across Christian denominations, from stern, austere sects to the signs-and-wonders culture of modern megachurches. Think of it like political Islamism, which shapes the activism of a number of antagonistic fundamentalist movements, from Sunni Wahabis in the Arab world to Shiite fundamentalists in Iran.

Yep, and what they have in mind is the Christian fundamentalist version of sharia law. It’s important that we learn about this, but even more important that members of the media education themselves.

Today’s little thought.

I’ve seen that footage of the stage going down at the Indiana State Fair a couple of times now. Aside from the fact that it contributes mightily to my fear of crowds, the thing I notice (and I don’t think it’s just because I look for it) is that the people on the ground ran to help the people who were hurt.

Because that’s what most people actually do.

Accountability PA

This is a grassroots organization that is running this ad in the Philadelphia area. If you can spare a few bucks, go help them!

Philadelphia, PA – Accountability PA, a new watchdog organization serving Pennsylvanians, launched a television ad campaign to educate citizens about U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan’s lies about his plans to make health care more costly for Seniors by turning it over to private insurance companies.

The 30-second television ad, called “What Could Be Worse?” will launch this weekend, and will be broadcast in Philadelphia and Delaware County during an initial campaign. News and debate video footage in the ad shows Meehan repeatedly promising that he will stand up to Republican leaders who were calling for Medicare to be turned over to private insurance companies.

Only three months after arriving in Congress, Meehan ignored his promise to act independently and voted to privatize Medicare on April 15 when he supported U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan. A non-partisan government study found that plan would make health care services more expensive to provide than under the current system and increase out-of-pocket costs dramatically for Seniors. (1)

“Pat Meehan ran on a platform of independence and those who voted for him held the belief that he would stick to his word,” said Bob Finkelstein, spokesman for Accountability PA. “At the first opportunity he was given, he broke his central campaign promise in order to support a misguided plan that would make health care much more expensive for Seniors.”

Accountability PA is a new watchdog organization that was created to fight for common sense solutions to the major challenges facing the state of Pennsylvania using targeted issue awareness campaigns. It will advocate for common sense fixes, such as applying sound environmental and tax policies to drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale.
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Bachmann

Says she’d reinstate DADT. No, no problem at all with gays!

Mutual funds

Why they’re overpriced — and at risk.

Read Neal Gabler’s essay in today’s New York Times before you jump on Facebook to tell friends what your cat had for dinner and how much you hate Mondays.

Shut up and let me go

Ting Tings:

So I saw this piece in The Hill with the headline “Al Gore for president.” And I thought hmm, not my favorite choice but a smart guy with good ideas, not exactly brave but certainly ballsier than Obama, although who isn’t. But then I read the lead — “Let me be the first to propose a national movement to draft Al Gore for president in 2016…” — and thought whoa, what is wrong with the Democratic Party?

Thank you friends

Big Star:

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