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The three wings of the Republican party

The crazies, the corporatists… and the Democrats. Drew Westen:

First, apologists for the president and the Democrats rightly claim that their hands are tied: the Republicans just won’t let them pass any legislation that might move the economy forward, so their only tools are ineffectual ones such as tax cuts and exhortations to the business community to invest.

But what this account leaves out is that this state of affairs is entirely of the Democrats’ creation. Had the White House and the supermajorities the president started out with for two years simply done what the voters asked them to do — and what the House actually did do with remarkable speed in 2009 — the Democrats’ hands would not be tied today.

…..

Second, by running scared and adopting Republican talking points on economics, Democrats have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Listening to the same pollster-industrial complex that advised them in 2002 to support George W. Bush’s trillion-dollar unfunded bloodbath in Iraq, Democrats have joined with Republicans in offering massive giveaways to millionaires and billionaires and then telling working and middle class Americans that the sky is falling and we (they) have to tighten our (their) belts. Democrats inside the tightened beltway (with the exception of a strong contingent in the House and a dozen or two Senators) appear to have become convinced by the new conventional wisdom in Washington, that Americans aren’t really concerned as much about jobs as they are about the deficit.

If you stop and think about it for a moment, that notion is absurd on the face of it. Is it really possible that Americans who have lost their jobs or fear losing them are more worried about an abstraction — the budget deficit in Washington — than about the realities of their lives – that they face a budget deficit around their own kitchen table at the end of every month when they’re trying to pay their rent or make their mortgage payment on their rapidly depreciating home?

…..

That brings us to the third reason so many Democrats have created a third wing of the Republican Party: because they’re competing for the same corporate money, which leads them to support the same policies. The major difference between Republicans and Democrats is that virtually all of the Republicans are quite comfortable being bought because it fits their ideology, whereas most of the Democrats who are beholden to one industry or another are conflicted about it – but not conflicted enough to pass a fair elections bill when they had the chance last year that might have taken away some of the advantages of incumbency but restored integrity to our electoral system.

…..

Americans need a choice again between two parties, not between two strains of Hoover Republicanism.

Is torture holy?

These are the kinds of corners into which Southern Baptists paint themselves.

Volunteers

I’m looking for readers to do reviews for progressive policy non-fiction books. I don’t like to take review copies unless I’m actually going to read them, but I don’t have much time these days. Any volunteers?

Huntsman

So some of the progressives I know are a little freaked out that Jon Huntsman sounds more liberal than Obama. What do you think?

Should Democrats take our vote for granted? Would it do any good to put a Republican in the White House?

The real Michelle Bachmann

Rolling Stone does a much better job than the Times.

The next wave of multi-national goodness

Privatizing water supplies for profit. We do not currently pay for water in the U.S., contrary to popular belief; we pay for water treatment. You are assessed a fee based on how much water you use, and it’s the estimated cost of treating it so it can be used for drinking, cooking, etc.

This would be above and beyond. Trust me, in a time of global warning, the fight won’t be over oil but water.

Private prisons

Would it surprise you to know they lobby to get more people put in jail for even lesser offenses?

Bachmann

The Times has a story today about Michelle Bachmann and her work as a foster parent (for some reason, they’re unwilling to touch the open secret that her husband is an “ex-gay” counselor who runs a “pray away the gay” clinic). From the comments:

In 6 years of work at a state legislature, I can say without equivocation that the most heart-wrenching testimony I ever heard was from a group of former foster children. It was not based on the fact that neither of their parents could effectively care for them or that they lacked stability in their home circumstances. It was, rather, that they had been forced to undergo various experiences of ultra-religiosity with each new set of foster parents until they finally “aged out.” Although it is not for me to judge Ms. Bachman’s intentions, it is a sad truth that many foster “parents” choose to enter into the foster care system not only for the money, but also for the opportunity to proselytize and impose their religious belief systems on vulnerable young minds.

Stonewalled

Oops! Sounds like a fool-proof system for getting rich:

The New York Fed is refusing to tell investigators how many billions of dollars it shipped to Iraq during the early days of the US invasion there, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction told CNBC Tuesday.

The Fed’s lack of disclosure is making it difficult for the inspector general to follow the paper trail of billions of dollars that went missing in the chaotic rush to finance the Iraq occupation, and to determine how much of that money was stolen.

The New York Fed will not reveal details, the inspector general said, because the money initially came from an account at the Fed that was held on behalf of the people of Iraq and financed by cash from the Oil-for-Food program. Without authorization from the account holder, the Iraqi government itself, the inspector general’s office was told it can’t receive information about the account.

The problem is that critics of the Iraqi government believe highly placed officials there are among the people who may have made off with the money in the first place.

And some think that will make it highly unlikely the Iraqis will sign off on revealing the total dollar amount.

“My frustration is not with the New York Fed, it is with the Iraqis,” said Stuart Bowen Jr., the Special Inspector General for Iraq reconstruction (SIGIR). “They haven’t been sufficiently responsive.”
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Al Gore

From this issue of Rolling Stone, talking (what else?) climate change:

Yet without presidential leadership that focuses intensely on making the public aware of the reality we face, nothing will change. The real power of any president, as Richard Neustadt wrote, is “the power to persuade.” Yet President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community — including our own National Academy — to bring the reality of the science before the public.

Here is the core of it: we are destroying the climate balance that is essential to the survival of our civilization. This is not a distant or abstract threat; it is happening now. The United States is the only nation that can rally a global effort to save our future. And the president is the only person who can rally the United States.

Many political advisers assume that a president has to deal with the world of politics as he finds it, and that it is unwise to risk political capital on an effort to actually lead the country toward a new understanding of the real threats and real opportunities we face. Concentrate on the politics of re-election, they say. Don’t take chances.

All that might be completely understandable and make perfect sense in a world where the climate crisis wasn’t “real.” Those of us who support and admire President Obama understand how difficult the politics of this issue are in the context of the massive opposition to doing anything at all — or even to recognizing that there is a crisis. And assuming that the Republicans come to their senses and avoid nominating a clown, his re-election is likely to involve a hard-fought battle with high stakes for the country. All of his supporters understand that it would be self-defeating to weaken Obama and heighten the risk of another step backward. Even writing an article like this one carries risks; opponents of the president will excerpt the criticism and strip it of context.

But in this case, the President has reality on his side. The scientific consensus is far stronger today than at any time in the past. Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act.

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