Peeves, Prayer, And Grief

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Why does America deny black grief? What we are witnessing in this country are not incidents. It is homicide without a crime. It is death. Its victims are not thugs. They are sons. . . . → Read More: Peeves, Prayer, And Grief

The Bold And The Clueless Both Offer Cliches

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The campaigns have become depressing. If the themes are bold and clueless, the tactics and media have descended into the same old cliches: “I’m a Democrat,” “I will work . . . → Read More: The Bold And The Clueless Both Offer Cliches

A State of the Art Revolution

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I remember the raw exuberance of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the days when mass protests generated thousands of followers who met in the streets to march and . . . → Read More: The State of the Art of Revolution

Democrats and Strategy: On Race In the Race

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Consider for a moment the only mea culpa done in American politics without a jury sentence or a judge’s finding was done by a governor of Alabama, George Wallace, . . . → Read More: Democrats and Strategy: On Race In the Race

Stormy Monday, 1/12/15

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StormyMondayNew Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – man, it makes me queasy to type that – will try to move authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline forward today after last week’s House vote to approve it.

Tuesday, Chris Christie takes a time-out from mourning his beloved Dallas Cowboys to deliver his State of the State address. Spoiler alert: the state of the state is rife with corruption, with the worst of it centered around 354 Stockton Street in Princeton. Governor Christie will likely avoid that topic, though, to concentrate on lying and blustering, the two things he does best.

Senate Democrats will be in Baltimore Wednesday and Thursday for their annual policy retreat (and no, I will not go for a cheap laugh here). They’ll be doing so without Minority Leader Harry Reid, who’s still recovering from his recent injuries and remains in Washington on doctors’ orders. House and Senate Republicans, meanwhile, will gather in Hershey, Pennsylvania for a joint two-day retreat, presumably to synch up their respective ideas for destroying the country as efficiently as possible.

Wednesday at noon, the Londonderry Fish and Game Club in Litchfield, New Hampshire hosts a one-hour “conversation” on the Second Amendment with crackpot Senator Rand Paul, followed by a Q&A session where it’s pretty much guaranteed Senator Paul will not be asked pertinent questions like “Why the hell do you think you’re qualified to be President?” and “Where’d you get that hair?”

The President kicks off his week with a visit to the Federal Trade Commission on Monday, followed by a Tuesday bipartisan confab with Congressional leaders to discuss what Reuters laughably describes as “common goals,” and a visit to the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. Wednesday he heads to Iowa for a speech about expanding broadband access for more Americans. He’s also expected to drop by the Democrats’ Baltimore get-together on Thursday. Thursday evening, he dines with British PM David Cameron; the two will confer at the White House on Friday. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 1/12/15

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Consequences

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freehandWell. With last week’s little unpleasantness out of the way, it’s at least a small relief that the cable news networks have mothballed their portentous horn-laden stings and seizure-inducing election-themed graphics. Until shortly before the first ’16 primary, anyway.

It’s less comforting that their energies now shift to helping Republicans craft their Grand Obstructionist Lame Duck narrative for the last half of the last term of Barack Obama, one where the “deeply unpopular” President, still diligently portrayed as a disengaged and feckless weakling, will nonetheless also be vilified as a stubborn, unreasoning bulwark against the bold (though coincidentally asinine) policy ideas of Republicans, through his preternatural command of a microphone and a veto pen.

Unless Republicans impeach him, of course, in which case… well, who the hell knows? Personally, I’d be delighted if the President were to veto everything the new Republican majorities stink up the inbox of the Resolute Desk with, and publicly call them all out as mendacious shitweasels in his next SOTU before daring them to start impeachment proceedings. Alas, that’s not going to happen.

As is his wont, the President will pick his battles with a seeming overabundance of caution, especially early on as the parties begin to square off in Congress. And that very well might entail his signature on some misshapen, though – one hopes – not monstrous legislation. In a landscape this ugly, there’s no reason to believe this is going to be anyone’s finest hour, and whatever compromising there is, I’m sadly sure most of it will be done by Democrats.

Magnitudes worse, though, is the effect of more Republicans in state legislatures and governors’ mansions. The appalling consequences of this sort of thing were vivid in the wake of Republican state-level gains in 2010, and they’re going to get a whole lot worse come January. Progressive or even moderate victories in the Obama Era have been muted, blunted or outright denied to citizens of red states via Republicans in charge there, with the ready assistance of ALEC, Koch money, and a “free press” soundly asleep at its post. Continue reading Consequences

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Midterm Hangover

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Grumpy2Grumpy: Well Mouse, I’m not feeling too well this week. In fact I think I’m about to have a two-year hangover after Tuesday night’s election results. Austerity will be the name of the game for the foreseeable future. Obama can use his veto pen, but I can’t see him using it on a budget which would effectively shut down government again. This time the blame will go to him, fairly or not. Filling vacant federal court seats? Don’t even think about it, they’ll never make it out of committee.

Mouse: And don’t forget about the Supreme Court. If any Justices should need to be replaced in the next two years expect the Republican Senate to create problems like we’ve never seen before. They will filibuster, drag their feet, and do anything and everything they can to prevent the President from seating a liberal-leaning Justice.

Grumpy: It isn’t just the Congress we have to worry about either. Teapublicans held onto and even gained governorships. Ohio should have gone to Democrats but we had a very weak candidate in Ed Fitzgerald. He had so much dirt on him the Teapublicans couldn’t shovel fast enough. He ended up dragging the entire statewide Democratic ticket down with him. The Republicans even hold a 6-to-1 majority on Ohio’s Supreme Court. Ohio may be a deeper red than ever before after the debacle of 2014.

Sadly, Ohio isn’t the exception this year. Governorships in four states (Arkansas, Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois) switched to Teapublican control and only Pennsylvania switched to Democratic control. I think we can expect many more attempts at voting restrictions in all the states. In the past the Democrats have been reactionary about Teapublican attempts at voting restrictions. I think it is time for the Democrats to get off their behinds and get proactive about using referendums, lawsuits and any other legal means of securing the voting rights that people died to win for us.

Mouse: As a former Pennsylvanian, I’m happy for my old home state to have returned to the Democratic fold. As a current Arizonan, I’m not surprised at all that this state stayed on the crazy train and elected yet another unqualified Republican along with a whole slate of other Republican disasters for state offices.

The next two years will be a struggle to maintain the right for ALL Americans to vote.

Grumpy: You know, I don’t blame Teapublicans for the sorry state of affairs we find ourselves in for at least the next four years. They did exactly what they needed to do to win. Whatever it took, they did it. They lied, cheated, sowed confusion, deflected blame and used any devious means at their disposal to secure victory. All the Democrats did was cry to the referee(s) that the Teapubs were hitting below the belt. In many, if not most, cases the referees just told them to keep fighting. Continue reading Midterm Hangover

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Democrats Getting My Goat

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Grumpy2Grumpy: You know, Mouse, it is usually the Teapublicans that get my goat, but every now and then the Democrats get my grumpy old self going more than any Teapublican ever could. It seems to get worse just before the elections and this year is no different.

Mouse: I hear ya loud and clear, Grumpy. I haven’t been checking my e-mail as often as I should because of all the pleas for money. (BTW: sorry about not getting your e-mails for 3 days because of that… oops…)

Grumpy: The closer we get to this midterm (and very important) election, the more the Democrats seem to go a little bit insane. My e-mail inbox is getting flooded with fundraising pleas. The theme this year seems to be “The Sky is Falling!” We wonder why Democratic turnout is bad in these off-year elections but maybe the answer is in the mirror. Most of our mothers urged us that if we didn’t have anything nice to say then we should not say anything. Democrats should learn to put that rule into effect when talking about ourselves.

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about from the doom and gloomers:

• “devastated…  (re: Michelle)”
• “6 points down”
• “utterly crushed”
• “devastating defeat”
• “most crushing failure in history:”
• “everything is falling apart, Friends”
• DOOM FOR DEMOCRATS?!?!

These are just the subject lines. You should see what is in the e-mails themselves!

Mouse: I’ve heard these e-mails describe as sounding like desperate ransom notes. Ya know, the “bad guys” are raising tons of money and if you don’t send me some small bills (but large bills would be better) right f’ing now I’m gonna be a goner!

Hmmm… I wonder would that work for me if I sent out e-mails pleading for cheese?

Grumpy: I shouldn’t get too down on the Democrats’ e-mail campaigning, since I did manage to find some positive ones.

• “STUNNING loss for Mitch: Long-ignored red state race could destroy GOP Senate takeover”
• “S-U-P-E-R-W-O-M-A-N” (Referencing Michelle Obama)
• “We’re winning again!”

Sometimes the e-mails just sound pathetic and pleading:

• “Absolutely urgent”
• “Please, don’t click delete”
• “check, check … missing”

Sometimes they are just confusing:

• “counting on you {{CF:Digital-FirstNameSpecial,DefaultTo=}”

How about trying just a little honesty? We don’t need to be scared by predictions of doom. We don’t need rosy scenarios to pump us up. We shouldn’t ever do pathetic. We certainly don’t need to be confused. We’re Democrats for God’s sake! We do confused and disorganized naturally. Just be honest with us. Give us the facts and figures and tell us what you need done; we can take it from there. Continue reading Democrats Getting My Goat

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Democrats: Speak Up!

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DDSmall-time Republicans and big-time media money have been able to change the political messaging in this country by openly calling for an agenda of false rebellion in the name of freedom that actually exerts greater control and is more expensive. Many people hear the previous sentence as: “Republicans have changed the political agenda in the name of freedom.” One of the ways Republicans are successful is they offer a complicated subterfuge and dissemble pieces a few at a time. Democrats respond by talking among themselves (as this piece does!) instead of to the country.

Messages that dissemble or only speak to insiders create a disconnect, but only one of these disconnects has leverage with voters, and it is the Republican choice. Republicans confine truth to the background and focus on the places where logic has become disconnected—the places where things terribly wrong can be easily examined, using lies and blame.

In the global pop news of the moment, the Russia seizure of Crimea, a preposterous event in the modern world where respect for the sanctity of borders is the first principle of international relations, Republicans avoid this first principle and the details of Russia’s energy exports being controlled by a state-owned corporation (which means its revenues are paid to the state not the private sector). Republicans avoid the analysis of how important the massive spider-work of Ukraine’s pipelines is to Russia’s efficient transmission of gas and oil to Europe. They avoid the fears Russia has internally of becoming a country influenced by its Muslim population in its southern regions (14 percent of its population).

Instead, Republicans have created a public narrative which comes close to defending Putin’s actions by blaming Obama for not defending America’s imperialism. It is circulating as if Russia is ideologically free of imperialist tendencies. In essence, it seeks to elevate the false illusion of Russian “strength”—which is its criminality—over the policy of President Obama to allow each country to find its internal stability with a minimum of big power influence.

Imperialism is a big idea with a long history, and blame is short and sweet. Blame is the lemonade made from the political lemons handed your opponents—if you are Republican.

But no evidence supports the GOP recipe (except magical thinking!) that Putin or any Russian leaders have based moves or calculated Obama’s response into their positions and military actions.

Beginning with the Russian revolution itself, the partitioning of Germany after World War II, the 1950s invasions of several eastern European countries, the placement of missiles in Cuba, the support of insurgencies in Africa, the invasion of Afghanistan, and most recently Chechnya, Georgia and Ossetia, there is no predictive proof that a country with a long history of using military force within its region, through a variety of governments, under a variety of leaders, is tempered by American or European reaction!

Blame doesn’t need proof, just popular sentiment; blame Obama.

History and facts show the contrary. Russia plays no zero sum, either/or game; it views its interests singularly. Weighing the importance of the pipelines through Ukraine to the West and the sudden toppling of its puppet, Viktor Yushchenko (who cut bait), had far more to do with Putin’s moves than any imagined review of Obama’s policies.

Putin would be insulted at the idea he contemplated or was influenced by Obama’s policies, rather than acting on his own. He would vehemently argue his view is what is best for Russia and Russians faced with a neighbor whose family income had dropped 25% in 20 years and was leaning heavily westward in search of opportunities missing in the 1930s state-owned Russian political economy.

Putin ignored Barack and did what Russians have always done. Republicans did what they have always done: ignore truth and blame Obama.

Even at home, in the face of one of the most magnificent political successes since the passage of social security, by a President whose failure was an avowed goal of the Republican Party and the House of the national legislature, even with seven million people enrolled in health care through the new marketplace, without demonstrations or riots in the streets, with no more upheaval than paid commercials and very long, calm lines of last minute enrollees, Republicans still plan to run against “Obamacare” in November. It will be an ultimate test of blame against truth, dissembling facts against critical thinking, of bias versus logic. Continue reading Democrats: Speak Up!

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Try It Out!

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DDI spent the week watering the well. Drinking coffee from five Ethiopian regions, feeling a link to the small family farms that depend on the income from the sales of beans, thankful to have a good relationship with a coffee seller in DC who provides me the 15 to 20 pounds my daughter sends me every two or three months.

But I can’t get my friends to try it! The corporate brands have them dialed in. So this morning’s Sumatra brings an old question: how do you get people to change? Why is change resisted?

In part the questions explain the Republican attraction: People don’t have to give up very much except government to be Republican. It’s a safe default for the risk-averse, even when in sight of something better.

I also spent the week anticipating the visit of friends I haven’t seen in 40 years. That energy was a celebration of passage; how vision grows out of change. Vision pushes away fear and brings hope. That why Sarah Palin sneered at “that hopey thing”—it give a freedom found on the inside, a freedom to grow; not just a freedom to fight government. Friends bring collective energy, a unique group experience that in politics is called the public good.

Republicans have abandoned that part of the public square, substituted profit for its focus, and measure of profit.

The maxim that people are willing to turn down collective advancement and fight against their own interests is proven both by the experimental and empirical. Why are we surprised?

What’s the strategy that will make the resistant change their minds?

On race? No way. On women? Lip service contradicted. On the public good? A rip-off! On income? Be glad for what you got.

This core is the Republican fortress. Impenetrable. But it’s placed to cause the maximum fright. As Barack begins to end his second term, race matters less; the coded challenges now go after his record and deliberately misconstrue his policies. The goal is to tear down his legacy. Listen, you can hear it from all sides. Continue reading Try It Out!

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