Douglas Carpenter's Journal - Archives
The New Deal only become possible after agitation in the streets created a political climate in which politicians paid attention to the demands of labor and it became possible to vote into office politicians who would carry through those demands - something respectable politicians would not do at an earlier time before the political conversation had changed. The civil rights movement did not begin with voter registration drives. Voter registrations drives only became relevant after mass action created a political culture where it became possible to elect politicians who would carry forward the demands of the civil rights movement - something respectable politicians would not do at an earlier time before the political discussion had changed. And most certainly the gay rights movement did not begin with voter registration drives - Voting only became relevant after agitation and resistance created a political climate in which politicians paid attention to the demands of the gay rights movement and it became possible to vote into office politicians who would would carry through those demands - something respectable politicians would not do at an earlier time before the political culture had changed.
If one is actually serious about wanting to break the stranglehold the financial industry holds over both political parties - it is most certainly not going to happen and respectable politicians are not going to willingly cut-off their own supply of dependable financial support that they really do need in order to get elected - until the political culture changes and public demand forces a situation where respectable politicians have no choice but to break from the stranglehold the financial industry holds over both political parties.
Already only a few weeks into this great new movement something is happening - The issues of Wall Street's stranglehold over government as well as the issue of vast income disparity has moved from the fringes only voiced by the ravings of leftist and malcontents into the mainstream of political discussion. This is truly incredible. Even Forbes is running articles about income disparity. But to break the stranglehold that Wall Street holds - and to make it even possible to vote for politicians who will address income disparity, economic injustice and corporate control - will require more than voting for politicians with their latest slick sound bites, platitudes and talking points. What is happening now may very well be the beginning of something that can change the political culture and actually make it possible to vote for politicians who will actually address the issues of income disparity, corporate control and the stranglehold of the financial industry.
Thursday, Dec 8, 2011 11:06 PM 01:37:34 UTC+1000
When a Democratic dream turn into a nightmare
A cautionary tale for Obama and his supporters as they rejoice over Newt Gingrich's rise
By Steve Kornacki
Ronald Reagan gives the thumbs-up sign as he leaves the podium after addressing supporters at his Los Angeles election headquarters on Nov. 5, 1980. (Credit: AP)
A solid victory in Illinois steadied Reagan’s campaign and ended the Anderson boomlet and Ford chatter, but an ABC News poll starkly illustrated the damage that had been done: Against Carter and his dismal approval ratings, the survey showed Reagan losing by 18 points. (By comparison, Ford ran ten points ahead of Carter in the same poll.) That Reagan would end up extending the Carter presidency for another term became conventional wisdom. Typical was this March ’80 column from Joseph C. Harsch, the long-time writer for the Christian Science Monitor:
And Mr. Carter’s chances for re-election go up every time another vigorous and moderate Republican like Sen. Howard Baker or a vigorous, modern, decisive, and experienced Republican like John Connally has to withdraw from lack of support
Does this mean that history is bound to repeat itself if Newt walks away with the nomination? Not necessarily. Obama isn’t in as bad shape as Carter was, while Gingrich, as Lloyd Bentsen might say, is no Ronald Reagan. Gingrich may simply be the Goldwater that everyone thought Reagan was back in 1980.
Then again, when voters are motivated enough to throw out an incumbent, the bar for the opposition party isn’t that high. Reagan’s triumph showed this. Had he been the nominee in ’76, when voters were still angry with Republicans for Watergate and Carter was just a refreshing outsider from Georgia, all of the general election attacks on Reagan that fizzled in ’80 would have had a very different impact. Which is another way of saying that when the climate is just right, very strange things can happen.
read full article:
Time Magazine covers - December 5, 2011
Both the RECALL WALKER Campaign in Wisconsin and the Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts are two different races in two different states that have the potential to be real game changers - races that can really change the paradigm -
Early tonight I just made my first donation to the RECALL WALKER Campaign - I hope those of you who can afford to do so might consider doing the same:
A couple weeks ago I made my first donation to the Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts. I also hope those of you who can afford to do so might consider making a contribution:
The Top 0.1% Of The Nation Earn Half Of All Capital Gains
By Robert Lenzner | Forbes
Income and wealth disparities become even more absurd if we look at the top 0.1% of the nation's earners-- rather than the more common 1%. The top 0.1%-- about 315,000 individuals out of 315 million-- are making about half of all capital gains on the sale of shares or property after 1 year; and these capital gains make up 60% of the income made by the Forbes 400.
The reduction in the tax from 20% to 15% continued the step-by-step tradition of cutting this tax to create more wealth. It had first been reduced from 35% in 1978 at a time of stock market and economic stagnation to 28% . Again 1981, at the start of the Reagan era, it was reduced again to 20%-- raised back to 28% in 1987, on the eve of the October 19 232% crash in the market. In 1997 Clinton agreed to reduce it back to 20%, which move was an inducement for the explosion of hedge funds and private equity firms-- the most "rapidly rising cohort within the top 1 per cent
No wonder the super wealthy plutocrats obtained the largest share of national income-- 25% of the nation's wealth- greater than any other industrial nation in the the period of 1979 to 2005. Make no mistake; after unemployment-- this disparity between the 1%-- 3 million-- or the 0.1%-- the 300,000-- and the other 312 million citizens of the U.S. has become the major theme of the Occupy Wall Street movement-- and an important national debate.
I commend you to the late Justice Louis Brandeis warning to the nation that " We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." We have to make up our minds to restore a higher, fairer capital gains tax to the wealthiest investor class-- or ultimately face increased social unrest.
read full article:
IF (God forbid) Israel attacks Iran- what will be the position of President Obama and the Democrats?
I think we ALL know the answer to that?
I'm actually not convinced Israel will launch such an attack. At least I hope not. I shudder to think of the consequences of what that will mean for the Middle East, America and the whole world. The possibility of Israel successfully significantly downgrading Iran's nuclear program or their military capabilities is minimal. They simply don't have sufficient long-range resources. Even the Pentagon who do have several times more resources and the aircraft carriers and facilities on Iran's doorstep doubt that an attack by the U.S. would be successful at sufficiently downgrading Iran's nuclear program or their military capabilities. Furthermore, the instability on the Gulf caused by such an attack and the probable side effects of an attack would be so dire I'm quite certain the U.S. would use its influence to try to stop it.
But if I am wrong and Israel does attack Iran - does anyone have any doubt about what the public position will be of vast majority of Democrats in Congress as well as the Obama White House? Any doubts at all?
political empowerment of the bottom 99%. The bottom 99% of American people or even the bottom 70% or the bottom 1% for that matter are going to have a wide variety of opinions on everything and anything - It includes people with very liberal social attitudes and people with some very conservative social attitudes. It will includes some very religious people and some completely irreligious people.It includes people with a variety of opinions about almost every issue. But the simple demand that priorities of society must shift from only satisfying the wants of the top 1% to focusing on satisfying the needs of the bottom 99%. This alone is the only issue that can give credibility to a movement that claims to speak on behalf of the 99%
Those who have other issues should of course be free to work on those other issues as much as they see fit. But no movement can claim to speak on behalf of the bottom 99% if they demand any litmus test other than a commitment to the economic and political empowerment of the bottom 99%
did not have its military might positioned all over the Arab and Islamic world and if the U.S. was not the power that decided which governments in the Middle East are legitimate and which are not and if the U.S. was not the overwhelming supporter of the Israeli state no matter what they do - is there ANYONE who can claim with a straight face that Al Qaeda would have still existed as we know it today and would have still carried out the attacks on September 11? ANYONE BELIEVE THAT??
Yes bin Lade and Al Qaeda are pure evil - but evil like bacteria needs certain conditions go grow.
Anita and Rick Perry (Sue Ogrocki/AP)
Rick Perry believes he’s being attacked because he’s a Christian
Senior Political Reporter
By Holly Bailey | The Ticket – Fri, Oct 14, 2011
Is Rick Perry being targeted in the Republican presidential campaign because of his Christian faith?
That's what the Texas governor's wife suggested at a campaign stop in South Carolina Thursday—a sentiment that was subsequently backed up by Perry himself in an interview Friday with ABC's Good Morning America.
In a speech at North Greenville University, Anita Perry became emotional discussing her husband's rough few weeks on the campaign trail, implying he's come under attack because of his faith.
"It's been a rough month. We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press to where I need this today," she said, per NBC's Ali Weinberg. "We are being brutalized by our opponents and our own party. So much of that is, I think they look at him, because of his faith. He is the only true conservative — well, there are some true conservatives. And they're there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose."
Asked about his wife's comments by ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Perry said he agreed with her.
"I'll stand by my wife. I think she's right on both cases. My understanding is that she said I'm the most conservative candidate in the race and 'he's a Christian.' So I haven't got anything I can add to that and she's hit me on my mark both times there," the governor said.
You can watch the interview:
Tuesday, Sep 27, 2011 14:46 ET
Muslim Republican heckled as "terrorist"
By Justin Elliott
Last night, the Broward Republican Executive Committee met to consider Hamze's application to become a voting member, a meeting that ended with him being called a "terrorist' by hecklers and an unprecedented 158-11 vote to deny him membership.
The usually perfunctory approval process for BREC membership was changed at the meeting in order to publicly vet Hamze and to then vote on his application using a secret ballot. He was the only one of 11 candidates rejected.
The Miami Herald was there:
At times, when he addressed the packed room at the Sheraton Suites in Fort Lauderdale, a few members shouted out among the crowd of about 300.
“Terrorist!” said one man.
“Let him speak!” said another. …
“I don’t have a positive impression of Mr. Hamze. I don’t think he will be an asset to our party,” said Scott Spages, who is involved in programs concerning radical Islam at his church, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. …
A new litmus test was then born: Do you support Rep. Allen West? The tea-party Republican has repeatedly denounced Islam and clashed with Hamze. So has Joe Kaufman, chairman of the group Americans Against Hate and former vice-chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition of South Florida. “Are you willing to support Congressman Allen West… as a Republican?” Kaufman said loudly in the microphone. “Will you denounce terrorism?"
unions and the Communist Party holding FDR's Administration's feet to the fire and making it happen. However, progressives in that era were a bit more clever. They were able to both push their agenda within the the internal political mechanism while publicly giving the appearance of very loyal support for Roosevelt. I suppose a more recent parallel is the way the radical right-wing working under Nixon - an administration that supported many things the far right completely disagreed with - were able to build their strength - give the appearance of loyalty to Nixon while they incubated their positions of power and advanced their far right agenda even during an administration that did not by any means see eye to eye with them.
I fear that current progressive politics is now in a nonproductive and perhaps even somewhat self-destructive mode of "either - or". Yes the Obama Administration may had missed a historic opportunity when they were swept to power with their mandate for change coming on the heels of the financial meltdown of 2008 - But perhaps progressives also missed and are missing a historic opportunity to incubate and develop their position and advance the progressive agenda - the way progressives did during the 1930's and the far right did during the Nixon years.
Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 08:01 ET
Is the purple president turning blue?
Obama's new rhetoric counts, even if it's insincere campaign rhetoric
By Michael Lind
Their suspicion is understandable. This is, after all, the president who, in the greatest economic crisis since the Depression, marginalized the leading center-left economists and economics experts and surrounded himself with the Wall Street-friendly Robert Rubin wing of the Democratic Party; the president who pushed for an initial economic stimulus only half as large as his advisor Christine Romer said it should be, and then let his attention wander to subjects other than job creation for several years; the president who, elected by Americans weary of war, added a third, unconstitutional war in Libya to the needlessly prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan begun by his predecessor. In light of his record to date, it is hardly surprising that many center-left American should want this president to be strapped to a lie detector whenever he makes any public statements.
Is it all just rhetoric? Maybe. But rhetoric matters. Rhetoric is what sinks into the minds of the voters and changes the political culture, when the wonky details of particular policies are forgotten.
For a generation, the rhetoric of Ronald Reagan has been echoed by Democrats like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as well as Republicans. In his actual policies, Reagan was moderate to liberal, by the extreme standards of today's Tea Party zealots. Reagan assented to repeated tax increases, he did not try to privatize Social Security or Medicare. He retaliated against unfair Japanese export promotion policies. He made peace with the Soviet Union and Mikhail Gorbachev.
But those reasonable actions do not make up the legacy of Ronald Reagan that has shaped -- one should say, warped -- American politics. Reagan’s rhetorical denunciations of government and idealization of the private sector created the climate in which deregulation could contribute to a second Depression and in which most of the gains from growth over a generation could go to a tiny plutocracy. Reagan did enormous and lasting harm to America with one sentence in his 1981 inaugural address, a sentence that was false then and is false now: "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."
In his plans for job creation and higher taxes on the wealthy, Obama has, at least for now, repudiated the tired Reaganite rhetoric that blames all problems on government and calls on the private sector to solve all our problems with its alleged dynamism and superior efficiency, neither of which have been much in evidence for more than a decade. It remains to be seen whether Reagan era rhetoric can be replaced by a new political language, in which calls on the privileged to do their fair share edge out denunciations of government as inherently corrupt and tyrannical. The future of American political rhetoric as well as politics and policy depends in part on the outcome of the 2012 election.
Michael Lind is Policy Director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation and is the author of "The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution."
as always an excellent commentary by the always brilliant Michael Lind -- Read the full article:
It is painful to face the reality that we have a center-right President with only a far right altern
In fact far right are very mild words to describe the only available alternative. Most likely the Republican nominee will be an apocalyptic extremist that would make George W. Bush look like a liberal. Most likely the alternative is someone who is determined to completely undo what little remains of the New Deal. Most likely the only actual alternative will be someone who subscribes to a foreign policy that would put America into a level of permanent war and conflict never before seen in our history leading to genuinely chilling consequences and further breaking the budget and making future progressive initiatives completely out of reach and perhaps even impossible for at least a generation to come.
It is also painful to face that reality that not only is Obama no progressive - the political situation is configured in such a way that it is not even plausible to see any progressive elected now or at any time in the near future. Yes it probably is true that Obama is about as good as it gets - at least for now and in the foreseeable future. This is why I'm certainly not someone to advocate primarying the President. Because I'm reasonably certain that the results of such an effort will not produce a more progressive alternative and may very likely only set the stage for a Rick Perry presidency or some other tea-party, right-wing fundamentalist approved reactionary. This is something with perhaps even more dire consequences that how a Ted Kennedy primary campaign weakened President Carter and set the stage for the dark and sinister forces of Reaganism to not only win the Presidency but to dominate the political scene for at least a generation – even pushing the Democratic Party way to the right. I would not want to risk repeating any error of judgment that might have even more desperate long term consequences.
I'm not terribly disappointed in President Obama because it is pretty much what I expected. Wall Street interest and the corporate-controlled mainstream media would never, never, never have talked Obama up so much if they were not certain that he would have their backs. Then again, Wall Street interest and the corporate-controlled mainstream media would never, never, never have refrained from marginalizing any candidate or potential candidate even a shade more economically progressive than Obama. But I knew this at the time and feel sorry for all of those who actually believed all this "Hope and Change" nonsense.
Yes I know the Obama Administration has done this and that and this and that progressive sounding actions that are things that no Republican President of these days would do. But this does not a progressive make. This is not the New Deal or the Great Society nor is it in any way shape or form a step in that direction. On economic matters these are positions that pre-Reagan Republicans would have simply viewed as being reasonable and responsible. To represent this as proof of a progressive administration simply demonstrates just how far to the right the paradigm has shifted.
Yes it is true that there are no progressive alternatives to Obama. Yes it is true that the only actual alternative capable of winning and running a government are forces so reactionary that they are truly chilling to the bone. I absolutely agree without the slightest reservation that we must all do everything we can to block these dark forces from having any chance of gaining control of the White House. No one has to convince me that the alternative to Obama is worse – much, much worse. The stakes are simply too high.
But President Obama DID have the opportunity in the wake of the 2008 Wall Street meltdown and in the wake of an overwhelming election mandate for change to move the country in a genuinely more progressive direction and shift the paradigm and broaden the range of alternatives rather than simply to accept a less reactionary direction. Ronald Reagan didn’t even need a Republican controlled Congress to redefine the political directions of the country for a whole generation to come. He seized the moment for the forces of reaction and did so boldly and without apologies. Got to give it to Reagan, even with a Democratic controlled Congress he went on the limb for his agenda attacking the Democrats for causing the economic problems and openly accused them of thwarting the will of the people. But that was a President who actually believed in something. Even if what he believed in was terribly wrong. President Obama had an opportunity not too differently that the opportunity Ronald Reagan had on the other end of the spectrum – an opportunity that may not come again for another thirty years. Here it was - a chance to seize the day and change the course of history offered to him on a silver platter. He could have done it. But he didn't do it. He didn't even try to do it. He didn't want to do it.
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