For my latest Salon column, a poem:
‘Twas the night before the fiscal cliff, and all through the Senate and House
Not a Republican was budging, not even an ounce.
Back from vacation the President came
In hopes that Republicans might now act sane.
The cowardly Democrats put it all on the table
Like cuts to the elderly, poor and disabled.
So Republicans, thinking their ploy was a score,
Figured why not hold out until Democrats cut more!
You can read the entire piece here. I think you’ll enjoy it!
In my latest piece for Salon, I explore why Obama and the Democrats have Springsteen, Eva Longoria, George Clooney and many, many more celebrity backers — while Republicans just have Clint Eastwood:
Hollywood does not lean Democratic because the warmer weather in California breeds open-mindedness or because of some master ideological plot. Popular culture is overwhelmingly liberal because Americans overwhelmingly favor liberal popular culture.
In my latest column for Salon, I remind us progressives that while we certainly don’t want Republicans to gain power in this election, it’s not exactly like Democrats are universally standing up for progressive ideas and values. An excerpt:
The reality is that, whether it’s because we’re chronically pessimistic or used to being marginalized or uncomfortable losing in the short term to win down the road, the Democratic rank-and-file continue to let our party stray toward the center. While the Tea Party has exacted revenge even against any Republican who dares work in a bipartisan fashion on mainstream legislation, Democrats can barely get their candidates to stop bashing their own party in public let alone vote in support of a liberal agenda.
Read the rest here.
In my latest Salon column, I look at whether the DNC is intentionally or accidentally marginalizing organized labor:
Though there have been labor leaders at the convention podium, their roles haven’t been incredibly prominent. The UAW’s Bob King got a primetime role last night, but the campaign of course wants to highlight the story of saving autoworker jobs in Detroit. Meanwhile SEIU head Mary Kay Henry and AFL president Richard Trumka spoke as well, but their slots were relegated to the early hours of Tuesday and Wednesday’s programs. And perhaps more tellingly, while Bob King gave made a very strong and clear case for collective bargaining, he only mentioned the word “union” three times. Neither Trumka nor Henry used the word “union” at all in their remarks. Contrast this to four years ago when SEIU’s Anna Burger used the word union at least seven times in her 2008 DNC remarks and it seems at the very least curious. What’s more noticeable is that other speakers seem to be avoiding the topic of unions altogether.
Hope you’ll read the full article here.
In his very valuable book, Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, Professor Stephen Duncombe writes:
The problem, as I see it, comes down to reality. Progressives believe in it, Bush’s people believe in creating it
Today, House Republicans are voting for a 33rd time to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. As before, the vote will pass the House but will be shut down by the Senate. So why do it?
Republicans understand the value of political theatrics. Making Attorney General Eric Holder jump through hoop after hoop and then, even after he cooperates, voting to hold him in contempt. Holding our nation’s credit rating hostage to make a political point about recession-driven deficits. Shouting from the rooftops about gas prices and Solyndra and Obama’s alleged culpability, despite the fact that gas prices are driven by foreign policy and Solyndra’s loans were initiated by George W. Bush and sank by foreign markets. In the theater, reality doesn’t matter. What matters is how the audience reacts to the show.
Frankly, it’s easy to argue that Republicans look stupid for voting down Obamacare yet again and failing yet again. But the fact is, Democrats are the stupid ones for failing to equally grasp and use such theatrics.
Case in point: The Democratic fear of the filibuster. So the Republicans threaten to filibuster, well, every damn thing that is good for the middle class and our economy. So what? Let them! Democrats repeatedly putting popular bills up for a vote and Republicans repeatedly filibustering and stonewalling is precisely the kind of theatrics that don’t just tell the American public that Republicans are obstructionists but show it.
The Democrats did a version of this once. Democrats only had 59 votes to pass Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. So what did Democrats do? Call a vote anyway and hold a press conference afterwards, shaming those who voted against the law as standing with Wall Street against Main Street. And then they held the same vote the next day, followed by a press conference. And then the next day. And then a Republican defected and voted for the bill. How do you know this was a creative and effective tactic? Because Democrats haven’t employed it since.
Barack Obama and the current Democratic leadership repeatedly fail to grasp that Republicans right now are interested solely in theatrics and not legislation. And so the President and Democratic leadership keep proposing middle-of-the-road legislation under the sick illusion that compromise is possible. Meanwhile, the Republicans are merely looking for material for their next big show. This is how a proposal to cut taxes for 98% of American families gets labeled “class warfare” and the conservative-created individual mandate in health care reform becomes “socialism”. This isn’t about bringing guns and knives to a fight, but clowns and jesters. Maybe President Obama should do more than raise money from Hollywood but actually get their advice on scripting a better performance.
Scott Walker and the Republicans won. Democrats lost. But there are ominous lessons for both Democrats and Republicans in the Wisconsin recall race, both for the November presidential election and beyond. Everyone is trying to spin the outcome, but frankly both sides have cause for concern.
In my latest Fox News column, I present three “curds of wisdom” each for Democrats and Republicans coming off of the recall campaign. Read it here.. And please spread it around and share your reactions to the disappointing recall results.
In my debut essay for Newsweek’s The Daily Beast, I explore why the momentum to unseat Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker seems to pale in comparison to the massive outpouring of grassroots energy against him last winter.
When Scott Walker, freshly elected as governor, dropped his bombshell proposal to revoke the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin’s public employees, protest erupted. Kim Cosier was right in the middle of it all. “It was exhilarating,” says the University of Wisconsin assistant professor of arts education. “We were in the center of the Capitol when the firefighters marched in. I felt more American than I’ve ever felt, standing there, singing the national anthem, like we were finally participating in our own government.”
But just days before Tuesday’s vote, when Wisconsinites will have their chance to boot Walker for good, Cosier is in her office grading papers and preparing for classes. Is she simply too busy now?
“I was busy then, too,” she says, “but I found a way to be involved.”
Something changed between when Democrats and labor rose up and seemed like a surging national force, and now, when the attention of Democrats nationally has been slow to the recall fight and polls show the race is painfully tight and at least one suggests Walker may have a slight lead. What happened?
I go on to make three (I think very interesting) points about why Democrats have faltered a bit in the race — that the opponent to Walker is less-than-ideal, that Democrats nationally don’t grasp the importance of winning marginal fights and that progressives struggle to turn grassroots anger into electoral power.
I hope you’ll read the entire piece here and share it around.
The always incredibly un-credible Ann Coulter has a new column out and it’s a doozy. Coulter argues that Democrats have historically been anti-gun rights because they have wanted to keep guns out of the hands of blacks who wished to defend themselves from the KKK (which, Coulter argues, began as part of the Democratic establishment). In her concoction column even claims that the National Rifle Association is “America’s oldest and most august civil rights organization.” That statement right there would give most reasonable people pause, but knowing how these sorts of crazy Right wing arguments tend to corrupt and corrode our public discourse, I thought a few facts would be in order:
1. Coulter’s celebrated Republicans are now called Democrats!
This has got to be a big face palm for anyone with even a lick of historical knowledge reading Coulter’s piece. Until the Civil War, the Democratic Party was the major political party in America. But in the mid 19th Century, anti-slavery Democrats fled the party and the Republican Party emerged. Abraham Lincoln, he of the Emancipation Proclamation and social liberal attitudes of the time with respect to abolishing slavery, was a Republican. White Southerners burning with racial resentment indeed backed the Democratic Party in Reconstruction. But then, as any eighth grader can tell you, as the 20th Century emerged, Republicans shifted to become the party of big business, white industrialists while Democrats became the party of the New Deal and Civil Rights legislation.
2. One can’t ascribe the attitudes of the 1800s racist Democratic Party to today’s Democratic Party
Yes, the so-called Democrats of the mid-1800s were rabidly racist and tied to the Ku Klux Klan. But given the profound ideological flip-flop between the two parties over the last two centuries, it’s about as absurd to attribute 1800s Democratic Party attitudes to today’s Democrats as it is to suggest that the Republican Party is “the Party of Lincoln”. If people like Ann Coulter are so damned proud of what anti-slavery Republicans stood for back then, why aren’t they standing up for those same values now?
3. The “civil rights hero” Coulter hangs her argument on exiled himself to Cuba and China and inspired the Black Panthers
This is the best part. Coulter writes about Robert F. Williams, author of the book “Negroes With Guns” (from which Coulter takes the title of her piece), who apparently formed the Black Armed Guard in Monroe, NC, with a charter from the NRA. In other words, ignoring about a hundred year gap in her narrative, Coulter tries to portray Williams as a Republican joining forces with the NRA to fight against the Democrats’ KKK. Ms. Coulter must not have known that one of Williams formative experiences was, at age 11, witnessing a black woman being dragged and beaten by a police officer named Jesse Helms, Sr. (father to future Republican Senator Jesse Helms, Jr.). And she must have missed the part where Williams delivered a speech at the 1965 International Conference for Solidarity with the People of Vietnam Against U.S. Imperialist Aggression for the Defense of Peace. Doesn’t sound like a Republican, eh Ann?
4. The “Negroes With Guns” premise assumes a persistent racism in America that Ms. Coulter and Republicans are otherwise quick to deny.
Let me see if I get this straight: The existence of persistent, implicit racial bias in America is a sufficient argument to exploit when making the case for the NRA and 2nd Amendment rights but when making the case for everything from equal funding for public schools to ending racial profiling to affirmative action, suddenly racism is a thing of the past that liberals are inventing?
5. And lastly, does Ann Coulter really want to arm black folks now?
It seems to me, the leading argument that conservatives make for lax gun laws is that “criminals” (read: black people) have guns and, therefore, law-abiding citizens (read: white people) need guns to protect themselves. By seemingly embracing Robert F. Williams’ arguments, is Ms. Coulter seriously suggesting she wants to see more black folks take up arms today? Apart from being refreshing if true, is she aware that a resurgence of Mr. Williams’ Black Armed Guard-type movement today would likely go after not the Democratic establishment but Republicans — the party that repeatedly suggests problems in the black community are the fault of “black culture” and not deep-seated history and public policy, the party that wants to cut food stamps to give more tax breaks to the rich, the party that won’t even pass the Violence Against Women Act because it might help immigrants and gay people? Oh, yeah, and the party that is constantly blowing its dog whistle about the “New Black Panther Party”?
Perhaps Ann Coulter thinks she can pick and choose from history and biography and tell only the parts of political party history and Robert F. Williams’ life that fit her narrative. And perhaps Ann Coulter also thinks that unicorns poop glitter.
For Politico’s latest Arena question: Will Jon Corzine drag down the Democrats?
Jon Corzine is like the bad Santa of Democratic politics – year after year, he keeps disappointing us and yet year after year, we pray he’ll give us something good. But he’s been disappointing folks since his days at Goldman Sachs.
If Democrats or Republicans really have concerns about the undue political influence of Corzine and others, why not get all money out of politics for good?
You can read my post on Politico here.
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