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President for life?

2:59 am in Uncategorized by foxglove

I’m a long-time New Yorker. Periodically, like every day, I pine away for the New York of my youth when there were art galleries, music clubs and drug dens where there are Duane Reades and Pinkberrys now. There are many reasons for this suburbification of NY but certainly, none are more in your face and proud of their obnoxious role in this process than our mayor-for-life Mike Bloomberg. I’ve never voted for him for anything, instead I’ve opted for the cardboard cutouts of public servants NY’s vile Democratic party has thrown up like the very memorable William Thompson and machine politico Fernando Ferrer who rose to prominence as Bronx Borough President when the holder of that office, Stanley Simon went to jail in a municipal scandal.

I think I’m having a change of heart about the nation’s richest short guy now though. He has always spoken out forcefully about gun control, and he’s been a leading voice among mayors for forward-thinking environmental policies. Recently, he gave $500,000 to the Sierra Club and he officiated at some gay weddings. I guess he’s evolved. You might almost think he’s got some actual convictions.

I’m sure he wants to run for President and have heard he’d actually do if the ALEC party actually nominates Michele Bachmann, or maybe even Rick Perry. So would it be a good idea to throw the Big O overboard for Mayor Mike?

In the last two days Obama has sent Leon Panetta out to lobby for Medicare and Social Security cuts to keep up out of control defense spending, OK’d Shell drilling in the Arctic and picked Tea Party Senator Mike Lee’s legal counsel to be the next U.S. attorney for Utah.

That’s just the last two days! Clearly Obama doesn’t even want my vote. At this point what would you even say Barack believes in other than his own re-election? So I’m prepared to go all Grover and pledge I’m not voting for him ever again. Would anybody care to join me?

Bloomberg would probably be Mitt Romney with an overlay of socially liberal policies. Oh wait I guess that sounds like Obama. Actually I think he would be a minor improvement. Maybe Ralph Nader meant him when he said only the super-rich can save us.

Women and children first to walk the plank

12:07 pm in Uncategorized by foxglove

Boy do I miss that cuddly David Paterson.

From a report by the Fiscal Policy Institute [PDF], on the effects of current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s  budget proposal on women and children, the Gov’s plan includes:

* large cuts to nonresidential domestic violence programs and summer youth employment programs;
* defunding of 105 New York City senior centers;
* $7 million in cuts for welfare childcare services;
* elimination of transitional jobs programs and childcare for low-income college students;
* reduced funding for after-school programs as well as the Nurse-Family Partnership home visiting program;
* huge cuts in housing help for homeless families, and in aid to public schools, SUNY and CUNY

In opposition to this Cuomo insists on letting the so-called “millionaire’s tax” on high earners lapse. That tax would bring in around $5 billion—enough to prevent all of these cuts. New York City’s top 1% earns 44% of all income. They sure need a break! Instead of having the super wealthy make contributions they would barely feel the Governor prefers to plunge struggling families deeper into poverty.

If this is what we get from Democrats why do we need Republicans?

Liberals Are Done, Unless…

6:35 pm in Uncategorized by foxglove

I met my State Asemblyman a few days ago and surprised him by saying I was as depressed about last Tuesday as I had been about the 2004 election. He was surprisingly critical of Obama for a Democratic politician, and he pinpointed the President’s decisions for most of the Democratic debacle but he didn’t share my view. Not that I was OK with Bush but I had very mixed feelings about Kerry as I had about Obama four years later. What’s more, a pet theory of mine went down in flames last week. Like some of you, I’ll bet, I thought courageous speakers of truth to power would kick ass in elections.

In Wisconsin Feingold’s drubbing of Johnson in the final debate:

was eclipsed in the news by the closing of Wisconsin’s last autoplant

(which Feingold had repeatedly tried to save). And as with most Democratic candidates Russ was drowned in attack ads from Johnson and anonymous outside sources. In Florida, Alan Grayson lost to non-descript social conservative Daniel Webster. Grayson’s district is conservative, and he apparently offended even some of his own supporters with certain attack ads on Webster.

Feingold had repeatedly put the interests of people ahead of those of the Democratic party, and Grayson, though he surely offended Republicans, challenged Tarp and the big banks in ways Tea Partyers salivate about. But in both cases these outspoken champions of the Constitution and the working class couldn’t win over enough non-Democrats.

Yes, there were obviously external factors, mainly, the economic backlash against Democrats in addition to those above but at some point wouldn’t you think that voters would spare politicians whose identities were well established and so obviously worked in the average person’s interest?

Unfortunately, there’s a stronger force at work against our few righteous politicians. You can hear it on any radio. Just listen for political talk in any city, even in blue bastions like New York or San Francisco much less suburbs or rural areas. You’ll hear almost nothing but far right wing blather, not only from big-name blowhards like Bill, Sean and Rush but from people you’ve probably never heard of some of whom have national shows. This poisons the political atmosphere as much as Fox and there’s no counterpoint. Now you’ll probably gag, but it really hurts that Air America went down the tubes. Yes, it needed better management and talent but it could have eventually turned into something important. Even Fox didn’t attain its influence until it was 3 or 4 years old.

Have you ever wondered why a loon like, say, Michelle Bachmann can maintain her exalted place in this nutso political world? It’s because she has an entire national network of equally frightful wingnuts repeating her laughable lies and talking points day and night. When Alan Grayson (not that he and Michelle are in any way equivalent) lashes out at Republicans lack of  a healthcare plan and their disdain for the uninsured who is around to support him? A few hours at night on MSNBC are not enough.

Now if Feingold and Grayson can not win over enough disgruntled working class former Democrats much less Independents or Republicans what will more moderate Democrats be able to do? Democrats’ coziness with Wall Street will only increase as they fall all over themselves to try and compete with the forces unleashed by Citizens United. So all of the Populist fervor that should belong to Democrats will instead only be found in the faux version brewed by the Tea Party. Barring a miracle the next two years will only bring us gridlock and milquetoast centrist approaches, if anything, to our most pressing issues.

What platform can be created to fire back at the right? Barring George Soros buying or creating a cable network, one thing that would help would be widespread distribution for Al Jazeera (I think it’s on in one area in New England right now.) It doesn’t have to be 24 hours a day of left wing pundits, a real straight news channel that showed war dead and had features on Wikileaks and the effects of climate change in the world now would have a huge impact. Or how about someone prevailing on Al Gore co-owner of the little-watched, mostly non-political but widely distributed Current TV to focus on politics? I know none of this is too likely but I tell ya, unless this something like this happens our collective, Commie goose is cooked for future elections.

New Conspiracy Theory

9:36 am in Uncategorized by foxglove

Definitely what the world needs now is another wild-eyed conspiracy theory. Happy to oblige.

I’ve been wondering lately how the Tea Party could have materialized so quickly after Obama’s inauguration. What was it, three months? It’s well known that Tea Party funding comes largely from as few billionaires. What motivates the Koch Brothers of the world? This is a generalization but I think it’s safe to say their main concerns are lower taxes, deregulation and somewhat down the ladder trade policies that allow for or encourage outsourcing.

They could easily decide to spend millions on fomenting hate for Democrats and support for Republicans just over the tax issue. Our billionaire friends will save more if the top tax rate stays at 35% instead of rising to 39% than they will spend on all the funding of the Tea Party and all the millions spent on Republican candidates this election season.

As lame as the Democrats are as defenders of the middle class and the poor they’re still not as amenable to everything a right wing billionaire would want. So could all the sturm and drang of the last two years — the overheated health care town halls, the rage over spending and the deficit, etc. merely be a business plan to turn the population against the Democrats and elect enough Republicans to insure the Bush tax cuts remain in place? It would be a good business decision for the plutocrats.

Meet the Press: War Gods of Washington

11:08 pm in Uncategorized by foxglove

I can’t remember the last time I watched Meet the Press but I was drawn to it by the appearance of firebrand Barbara Lee who I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on a talk show. The thought of watching doorman to the powerful David Gregory for an hour was daunting but I overcame.

The first half an hour was devoted to John McCain giving his usual full-throated call for more and more war in Afghanistan. But miracle of miracles David actually asked the artist formerly known as Maverick one good question. Paraphrasing it was "Why are we having such a tough time finding recruits for the Afghan police? The Taliban aren’t having any recruiting troubles."

As a mainstream news avoider I didn’t know that training the police was our latest rationale for the war but these two seemed to agree it was. This is a meme that was also spouted frequently during the Iraq war but it always puzzled me. Our police training academies usually take about nine months to do the job. Granted not too many of our cities are at war but even where there is war why does it take 5-10 years? And why do we have soldiers doing it? Can’t we send Ray Kelly there for a while?

McCain also delivered what I suppose is conventional wisdom about us winning the war in Iraq. It’s a funny kind of win. There’s a repressive Islamic regime in charge which can’t really bring security to Sunni cities such as Mosul, there is low level fighting among numerous insurgent groups and about 4 million refugees who can’t return him. Amazingly, David didn’t ask the Senator if he’s planning a holiday in Fallujah.

The rest of the show was devoted to a panel with Ms. Lee, the writers Sebastian Junger, Wes Moore and Thomas Ricks and NBC’s go-to general Barry McCaffrey. The consensus of the gentlemen was that the deadline for starting to bring the troops home in 2011 was unworkable and that the war had to stretch into infinity or until Afghanistan was ready to host the Olympics.

To my disappointment Ms. Lee seemed to have nothing to offer beyond what sounded like a pre-digested talking point that the war had gone on too long and some in Congress were tired of it. That’s not far from we’re not winning and it would be alright if we were kicking ass but since we’re not let’s pack it in. When Ms. Lee referred to the American presence in Afghanistan as an occupation she was pounced on by Mr. Junger who pounded his chest and said when he was in Kabul in 2001 Afghans were hugging him because he was American and they were so glad to see the Taliban go. I wonder how they feel now after nine years of drone attacks, bombed wedding parties and countless other varieties of "collateral damage." Ms. Lee also was admonished by Mr. Ricks that if she wanted to see a really long war we should pull out now and see how fast and how long we would have to go back for once Al Qaeda moved in again.

Now I guess I wouldn’t expect the Congresswoman from saying that the best way to guard against future terrorist attacks would be to stop occupying Muslim countries and killing Muslims. That must be a Third Rail in American politics. But not even a peep about if we really want to take on Al Qaeda how about a ground invasion of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Or yes, it will be awful for Afghanistan if the Taliban takes full control but it will also be awful for America if we don’t stop spending billions on war and not on any of our pressing needs in this country. Everybody seems to be keenly focused on what Afghanistan will be like in five or ten years but who cares what American education or infrastructure or health care will be like in the near future if we continue to pour endless resources into war and fight like cats and dogs over every domestic expenditure.