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Make the Democrats Pay for Their Sell-out to Corporate Interests

7:58 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

With Dennis Kucinich’s stunning announcement that he will now support "health insurance" reform, the bill is now completely on the Democratic Party. Obama, their leader, sold the people out years ago to Goldman Sachs. Now Americans should make the Democrats pay for their actions.

Recall that mid-term elections are less than eight months away. Here are some steps that true Progressives can take:

1) acceptance of reality is the first step in making any true change. The reality is that the Democratic Party is little more than another wing of the corporate party and as Obama has shown, not much different from the Republican party except in tone and public relations. Almost nothing has changed for the better under Obama, who ran as an agent of change but who has turned out to be a Trojan Horse for Goldman Sachs, Wall St., and the insurance companies.

Indeed, Obama has shown that his true enemy is progressivism and he will not stop at any measure to undermine its proponents. Under intense pressure from the White House, Kucinich’s shocking capitulation and volte-face was mirrored weeks earlier in the capitulation of Democrats like Russ Feingold.

Feingold:

(A.) was one of only 12 Democratic Senators who voted against Bernie Sanders one-time bailout ($250) to Social Security recipients, a measure of help offered to the elderly since this year will be the first ever in which no COLA adjustment will be given to them. "Liberals" like Levin, Bennett, Feinstein, and Udall joined Feingold in a vote against the poor and the elderly.

(B.) Feingold also did NOTHING when the Patriot Act was extended without debate and without a formal vote on it. He (or others like Al Franken or Bernie Sanders) could have at least asked for a voice vote. Not a single Senator asked for a voice vote or called for debate. Any Senator who really and truly opposed the extension of some of the worst features of the Patriot Act could have pulled a "Jim Bunning" since the bill’s features would have expired in three days time. Precisely no one in the Senate stood up for the Constitution.

2) the Democratic party should not be supported in any form. No money for them, their candidates and their causes. Don’t work for them, don’t walk precincts for them, don’t telephone for them, don’t lick envelopes for them or their allies.

3) vote against BLUE DOGS and vote against people like Harry Reid. Reid should be our number one target in November because he is the head of the monster that the Senate has turned into. If you live in Nevada, vote against him. If you don’t vote in Nevada, donate money to his opponent, even though that opponent might be a Republican. Getting Reid out will send a message to the Democrats and will at least force a change in Senate leadership.

4) support existing third parties (like the Greens) in preference to the Democrats.

5) court action will be the final place for resistance to ObamaCare. It should be supported by Progressives. Challenges to ObamaCare should be brought in courts: especially the bill’s mandate provisions. I believe there is a high likelihood that ObamaCare will ultimately be found to be unconstitutional.

I’m amending my original diary to add some late-breaking news. The state of Idaho is the first to sign a law requiring the state of Idaho to sue the federal government if residents are forced to buy insurance. Similar measures are pending in 37 other states. While many constitutional law experts will probably say this is a no-go (given the federal preemption doctrine), if there is significant opposition from the states, that will have an influence on the Supreme Court which obviously is also at loggerheads with the Obama administration. What this also does is to further politicize ObamaCare and holds out the opportunity for opponents (from the right AND the left) to use the courts and state governments as a means to counter the increasingly centralized government we see in Washington, D.C. Within 40 minutes of the above story being posted, there are more than 1440 comments on it, most vilifying ObamaCare. People are not going to forget this, ever and the people will vote against ObamaCare.

6) concentrate our actions on the state and local levels. Building alternative parties-structures begins there.

7) long-term thinking should be made to challenge Obama in 2012 by way of primary or other means. If Ron Paul runs as a third party candidate, support him in preference to Obama. If Ralph Nader runs again, support him. Nader is perhaps the only person in America who saw what was coming in America and fought against it. For that, he has been mercilessly vilified, especially by Democrats who without basis in fact, try to pin Gore’s loss to W in 2000 on him.

Obama is an enemy to progressives and progressive causes as he has clearly shown throughout his sellout of single payer and the public option. He cannot be trusted in any fashion. Nor can the party that he leads be trusted. They have sold out the American people.

8) Blue Dogs and their ilk should face primary challenges from progressives. If the progressives lose those challenges, they should then run (as 3rd party candidates) against the Blue Dogs. That the primary route is effective is shown by its embrace by Rahm and the White House as a tool AGAINST progressives (led by, of all groups, Moveon).

9) We need to "out" allies of the Democrats like Kos and Nate Silver and Moveon. These people/groups are little more than fronts for the party (and in Kos’s case, an agency). Don’t support them, don’t visit their websites (you give them money if you do). If you are a fan of polls, give "30 pieces of Silver" up for www.pollster.com which is professional, nonpartisan and nonprofit. Get your news from www.democracynow.org a source that tells it like it is. Read Glenn Greenwald on a daily basis.

10) elections and election law must be changed, especially the way candidates receive money. It is obvious now that almost all of our politicians are corporate whores, bought and paid for by big business. We need public financing for all candidates. Recall that it was Obama who turned down public funding.

11) we need to get people involved in the political process who are currently not. We especially need to change the type of people we have running for office. Out with the professional politicians. In with the likes of Michael Moore and Jane Hamsher. They in turn must show the courage of conviction to step forward and run for office. Otherwise, real change will never occur.

None of the above will be easy. It will take lots of time and effort. There will be many setbacks and losses. But if we continue to look only to the Democrats for change, we will be disappointed as we have been in health care reform.

POLITICAL SUICIDE: Senate (including 12 Dems) Nixes $250 Payout to Elderly

3:26 am in Uncategorized by fflambeau

The Senate voted against a Bernie Sanders sponsored bill to provide $250 payouts to the elderly, the disabled and veterans. Sanders sponsored the measure because Social Security checks to these groups will stay flat this year; the bill would have provided a small measure of relief to 57 million Americans, many of whom live at or near the poverty level.

Reuters reports that:

A measure to give some 57 million elderly people, veterans and persons with disabilities a $250 check was rejected by the Senate on Wednesday…

President Barack Obama has called for Congress to approve the payments to make up for their benefits not increasing this year, but the Senate defeated it 50 to 47.

The payments would have added $13 billion to a $108 billion job-creation package pending in the Senate.

Social Security payments for the elderly and disabled will stay flat this year for the first time since 1975 because they are tied to consumer prices, which decreased amid the worst economic recession in 70 years.

The same article quotes the bill’s disappointed sponsor, Sen. Bernie Sanders as saying:

It is wrong to turn our backs on seniors in this moment of economic difficulty," said Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who sponsored the amendment.

But Republican Senator Judd Gregg pointed out that the bill would defeat the purpose of indexing Social Security payments to inflation.

"The law says it shouldn’t be given," Gregg said.

At least 10 Democrats [Diarist's note: 12 by my count, see below]agreed with Gregg and joined 40 Republicans to defeat the proposal.

That’s the same Judd Gregg who voted against Obama’s stimulus measure and whom Obama once was pushing to be his Commerce Secretary.

Sadly, a number of liberal/moderate Democrats voted against relief to the seniors including:

Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin);
Bennett (D-Colorado);
Feinstein (D-California);
Levin (D-Michigan);
Udall (D-Colorado);

Other Democrats voting against the bill:

Bayh (Indiana);
Carper (Delaware);
Landrieu (LA);
McCaskill (MO);
Nelson (NE);
Shaheen (NH);
Warner (VA);

So by my count, complied from lists from the Senate, 12 Democrats voted against this measure designed to help the elderly.

It seems that many Democrats haven’t figured out yet that the elderly have the highest turnout percentages of any voting group, that they have tended to vote in high numbers for Democrats [which is the party that gave them Social Security], and that this is going to piss off a huge group of their base support. It’s likely that these average Americans will recall the trillions given in bailouts to big banks and Wall Street and the hundreds of billions voted on by the same Senators for defense appropriations without a question being raised, while their $250 checks (yes, that is TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS and ZERO CENTS) were denied them with the aid and assistance of 12 Democrats. Many of these elderly Americans will be asking and thinking:

What’s the difference between these two groups of politicians, the Republicans and the Democrats? They both give money to the same groups and it ain’t us.

Methinks the Democratic party essentially committed suicide with this vote.

Of course, the Liebercreature also voted against the elderly and disabled.

Snowe (Maine) was the only Republican senator who voted for the Sanders bill.

Especially disappointing was Russ Feingold’s position on this. Most of the readers of my diaries probably know I’m a big fan of Feingold. He’s up for reelection and maybe he thought it important to be a hawk on the deficit. But I doubt this will go over well with senior citizens in Wisconsin.

In fact, Feingold had just a few days earlier, on Friday, February 26th, held one of his famous "listening sessions" with his Wisconsin constituents in the tiny town of Park Falls, Wisconsin, where he answered questions from an estimated 30 voters. According to a local newspaper/website account, several of the comments came from disappointed seniors and Feingold attempted to mollify them with words and promises that seem to be quite different from his vote:

The next speaker was one of several senior citizens who were concerned because the Social Security Administration had deemed that there would be no increase in benefits because there had not been any inflation during the year 2009.

Some seniors noted that they had gotten a 5.8% increase the year before, but never had they gotten zero.

Feingold agreed that the lack of an increase for those on social security just doesn’t reflect reality.

“I think this is very unfortunate,” he said. “This does not really indicate what people’s costs are and I would like to put this in a bill which would review this very thing.”

Feingold said he did not want to debate this in Congress “because then nothing will ever get done; we need to move faster than that.”

Several seniors noted that the cost of eggs, milk and almost all other staples have gone up and they couldn’t imagine that there had been no inflation in 2009.

…Geraldine Schmidt said that because her husband passed away, she has lost his social security benefits — even though he paid into the program for all of his life.

“So, now I discover that I am living on the poverty level and this year with no increase in the COLA (cost of living adjustment) what do I do? I am really sure that the cost of bread and butter has gone up so how can they say those on social security should not get any increase at all. The COLA helps this program work and I don’t know why they want to destroy that.”

Feingold said that he hopes a Social Security fix will be coming in a broader bill.

Perhaps the good Senator will join us here to set the record straight and explain his vote?

Here is more official information from the Senate on this:

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress – 2nd Session

as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate

Vote Summary

Question: On the Motion (Motion to Waive Sec. 403(a) of S.Con.Res. 13, 111th Congress, re: Sanders Amdt. No. 3353 As Modified )
Vote Number: 36 Vote Date: March 3, 2010, 06:28 PM
Required For Majority: 3/5 Vote Result: Motion Rejected
Amendment Number: S.Amdt. 3353 to S.Amdt. 3336 to H.R. 4213 (Tax Extenders Act of 2009)
Statement of Purpose: To provide an emergency benefit of $250 to seniors, veterans, and persons with disabilities in 2010 to compensate for the lack of cost-of-living adjustment for such year, and for other purposes.
Vote Counts: YEAs 47
NAYs 50
Not Voting 3
Vote Summary By Senator Name By Vote Position By Home State

Alphabetical by Senator Name
Akaka (D-HI), Yea
Alexander (R-TN), Nay
Barrasso (R-WY), Nay
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Nay
Begich (D-AK), Yea
Bennet (D-CO), Nay
Bennett (R-UT), Nay
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Bond (R-MO), Not Voting
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brown (D-OH), Yea
Brown (R-MA), Nay
Brownback (R-KS), Nay
Bunning (R-KY), Nay
Burr (R-NC), Nay
Burris (D-IL), Yea
Byrd (D-WV), Yea
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Cardin (D-MD), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Nay
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Chambliss (R-GA), Nay
Coburn (R-OK), Nay
Cochran (R-MS), Nay
Collins (R-ME), Nay
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Corker (R-TN), Nay
Cornyn (R-TX), Nay
Crapo (R-ID), Nay
DeMint (R-SC), Nay
Dodd (D-CT), Yea
Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Ensign (R-NV), Nay
Enzi (R-WY), Nay
Feingold (D-WI), Nay
Feinstein (D-CA), Nay
Franken (D-MN), Yea
Gillibrand (D-NY), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Nay
Grassley (R-IA), Nay
Gregg (R-NH), Nay
Hagan (D-NC), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Yea
Hatch (R-UT), Nay
Hutchison (R-TX), Not Voting
Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Isakson (R-GA), Not Voting
Johanns (R-NE), Nay
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kaufman (D-DE), Yea
Kerry (D-MA), Yea
Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Kyl (R-AZ), Nay
Landrieu (D-LA), Nay
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Yea
LeMieux (R-FL), Nay
Levin (D-MI), Nay
Lieberman (ID-CT), Nay
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Nay
McCain (R-AZ), Nay
McCaskill (D-MO), Nay
McConnell (R-KY), Nay
Menendez (D-NJ), Yea
Merkley (D-OR), Yea
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Nay
Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Nay
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Risch (R-ID), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Nay
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Sanders (I-VT), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Nay
Shaheen (D-NH), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (D-PA), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Tester (D-MT), Yea
Thune (R-SD), Nay
Udall (D-CO), Nay
Udall (D-NM), Yea
Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Voinovich (R-OH), Nay
Warner (D-VA), Nay
Webb (D-VA), Yea
Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
Wicker (R-MS), Nay
Wyden (D-OR), Yea

I’m hoping that if Obama really supports this, as he claims, he and the Democratic Party will try to do it another way. That could be done, for instance, by modifying the way the cost of living is derived for the formula which in turn affects social security benefits. Like the citizens’ expressions in Wisconsin, I find it hard to believe there was zero inflation this past year (but I don’t claim to be an economist either, so help me out if you can). Another way that a similar result could be reached is to raised the minimum payout threshold to a higher level for all Social Security recipients. We should also be looking at INCREASING the level that the Social Security tax goes to (I think it stops now around $90,000 in income). That would provide for possibilities of more minimum payments to recipients and also stabilize the system over the long haul.

In the meantime, shame on the 12 Democrats who voted with a virtually united Republican party. If we cannot provide a little help to our old people, our disabled, and our veterans, who can we help? I guess the answer is big banks.

The bill would have cost only $13 billion, a trifle of what Wall St. received from most of the same Senators, and most of the money would have helped to stimulate the sluggish economy because it would have been spent, most probably, on food and other necessities. A double shame to the liberal/moderate Democrats who abandoned average Americans, many of them in a time of need.

Bud Lite for a Change Lite President

8:05 pm in Uncategorized by fflambeau

Just about this time last year, most of us thought that by replacing George W. Bush–hell, with just about anybody– and by bringing in big Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, that our beloved country would change. One major candidate, indeed, sprang from obscurity largely on the claim that he would bring major change to the system. Last November, the country voted overwhelming for change: it complete rejected the insipid Republican ideas dating from Reagan that the government was useless and that private enterprise (yes, the same private enterprise that brought on the Great Depression and the current Great Recession) was the only way to go and the way to achieve greatness was to give the rich tax breaks and hope that a few dollars would trickle down to average Americans.

Those crazy ideas were rejected by a resounding majority. Enter a new Democratic president. Enter a Democratically controlled House with an even larger majority (something like 78). Enter a stronger Democratic Senate (now with 60 members if you count Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman).

But lo and behold, the change we were promised and the change we so desperately need in so many areas, has not materialized. I know it’s only been six months; but in the six months we have had to make major changes, we’ve gotten "Bud Lite" and not Sam Adams, Pilsner Urquell, Yuengling, Leinenkugels, or for that matter, anything brewed up by The Great Dane Brewery. Why not aim for something higher, Mr. President? We like you, we like your family, we like your charisma, but for hell’s sake, put a few hops in your beer and don’t drink pisswater.

In so many important areas, we need "more hops" too:

1) REAL healthcare reform (and Read the rest of this entry →