Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Say 'Hello' to the Next (Democratic) Senator from Nebraska!

Former GOP Senator Chuck Hagel: Republican Party Has ‘An Astounding Lack Of Responsible Leadership’

From Think Progress of 31-August 2011:
Former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel (NE) can’t muster any praise for his Republican colleagues’ behavior in Congress over the past few months. In an interview with the Financial Times, Hagel blasted GOP leadership for their “irresponsible actions” during the debt ceiling debacle, noting that “I think about some of the presidents we’ve had on my side of the aisle — Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., go right through them, Eisenhower — they would be stunned.”

“Disgusted” with the debt ceiling negotiations, Hagel called it “an astounding lack of responsible leadership by many in the Republican party, and I say that as a Republican.” “Does anyone not believe what’s happened here the last couple weeks in the market was not a complete, direct result of the lack of confidence that came out of that folly, that embarrassment?” he asked. Watch it:

Asked about Tea Party influence, Hagel said the Republican party is too captive to a movement that is “very ideological” and “very narrow.” “I’ve never seen so much intolerance as I’ve seen today,” he said. Later surveying the GOP 2012 field, Hagel said the party may need to rebuild, agreeing that Republicans are now “too far to the right.”
Come on, Progressive Democrats! Swallow your pride! Just ask this decorated Vietnam veteran and revered ex-Senator to come out of retirement and serve his country for six more years. He's not perfect. But everything that comes out of Nebraska is relative.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Don't "Hate" Republicans

I say that for the record.

But I love this music

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Standing Up for What Is Reich

Robert Reich has worked in a lot of big white buildings -- in the Senate, as an intern to Robert F. Kennedy; in the office of then-Solicitor General Robert Bork; in the Ford and Carter administrations; and as labor secretary to President Clinton. He is currently teaching at UC Berkeley. His course is entitled "Wealth and Poverty". Patt Morrison published an interview with professor Reich in todays' Los Angeles Times. His answers rang true to me. The Occupy Wall street has had a huge effect on the national conversation.
President Obama's speech [in Kansas] focused on precisely the themes the Occupiers have been emphasizing: the concentration of income, wealth and political power at the top, the failure of big corporations and Wall Street to keep the economy going for the rest of us. I don't think this sort of speech would have happened had it not been for the Occupy movement and the change in public debate it's created.
Class is becoming less and less a dirty word in our lexicon.
Polls show most Americans today don't believe their children are going to live as well as they do. A large percentage feel the game is rigged against them. Upward mobility is now far more difficult to achieve. So the issue of class has emerged as very real and very tangible. For most of us, the America we knew was one in which anyone could make it with enough gumption and guts and drive. We truly believed that America was a place where there were no class distinctions, although we saw the plight of the poor, particularly poor minorities. What's new is this sense that a relatively small number of people have rigged the game or loaded the dice in such a way that their positions of power and privilege are entrenched.
Many wealthy conservatives equate capitalism with democracy, but in fact they are not related.
We think of ourselves as a nation that practices democratic capitalism, but sometimes capitalism and democracy pull in opposite directions .... Essentially, every time the excesses of capitalism threaten to destroy it, we save capitalism from itself. We did it in the Progressive era, we did it in the New Deal, and hopefully we are at least beginning to do it now. Ironically, it's progressives and Democrats who take the lead in saving capitalism from itself. The question is how bad things have to get before average people begin mobilizing.
What happened to cross-party relationships like your good friendship with Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson?
Newt Gingrich. When Gingrich came to town as speaker, he brought in a group of people who were far more ideological and frankly unpleasant. The tone of Washington changed abruptly in January of 1995. I had never seen anything like it, and remember, I [came] to Washington in 1967. It was as if a dark cloud had descended over Washington and it's still there. I blame Gingrich -- not entirely, but he led the charge.
Will we ever recover economically?
We can't go backward, but the economy of the 1950s, '60s and early '70s was far more equal, and America grew faster in those years on average than it's grown since. If you look at Germany over the last 10 years, until the past year, you see rapid growth combined with a far more equal distribution of [the] gains and very high wages going to average working people. What's the secret? Two things: Germany has focused intensively on public education, particularly skills that are relevant for the new high-tech world economy; and secondly, Germany has a much stronger labor movement than the United States. There's huge skepticism, if not downright cynicism, about any large institution today. Yet the questions being asked are moral questions about what we Americans owe each other as members of the same society, what we should expect from the major institutions of our society, how to reverse trends that seem to reward the wrong people, often for malfeasance or nonfeasance. These are all moral judgments about how lopsided our economy and our society has become.
Are we entering a "Kumbaya" period like the 1960's?
The anti-Vietnam War movement, the civil rights movement -- those were not "Kumbaya" moments. Those were hard challenges. A friend of mine was murdered in Mississippi for trying to register voters. This was the opposite of "Kumbaya." Mickey Schwerner. I was always very short for my age and older guys help[ed] protect me from the bullies, and Mickey was one of my protectors. When he was killed by the real bullies, it was a transformative experience for me. It opened my eyes to how important it is to give people the power to stop the bullies. I date my commitment to these issues to that summer of '64.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Notes on Newt

Hey, Vig: I need help. Perhaps you or your readers can show me the way to solve my longing.

I want to be able to talk straight with Republicans about the origins of today's nasty political climate. We are, as Chris Hayes recently pointed out, "living in the Age of Newt". I want to see and hear and participate in a dialogue that names without putting the other person on the defensive. I long for a way to truth-tell that might sting, but doesn't drive away the other person who sees our current situation differently.

The thing I'm struggling with is how can I, and we, talk to our fellow citizens about who is really doing what to whom and why?

The Republicans have absorbed Newt Gingrich's strategy for winning politically in America. In the 1980's, Newt used to send out "How to Run Successful Political Campaigns" to his fellow Republican politicians. Newt recommended using positive words to describe oneself: "entrepreneur"; "forward thinking"; "being creative".

When referring to Democratic opponents, Newt exhorted his fellow politicians to call their opponents "corrupt", to "create a scandal" - whether there was evidence of such behavior, or not. This strategy was supplemented by Newt's daily issuance of the "Daily Talking Points" that were to be repeated throughout the day, preferably into a microphone, eventually imprinting upon one's unconscious, even when it was recognizable as merely empty rhetoric.

This conscious demonization of members of the "Loyal Opposition", the Democrats in Congress, consists, too often, of scurrilous attributions of wrong-doing that have no factual basis in reality and which the MSM (main stream media) never bothers to fact-check, having long-ago abdicated their responsibility to hold the powerful accountable to the citizenry.

Because they are never questioned, nor the true facts publicly stated, the Republican Party's Spin Meisters and their constant litany of lies are unchallenged - eventually becoming accepted political history. Worst of all, the incessant repetition of the day's "Talking Points" further cement the new reality.

Today's pale remnants of the once honorable profession of journalism, instead, focus on the "Titillation Factor" that will sell papers. In this age of "fair and balanced" news, the innuendos and the lies are permitted to stand unchallenged - eventually becoming accepted political history. Worst of all, the incessant repetition of the day's "Talking Points" further cement the new reality.

The Republicans speak their distortions and lies with one clear, clever voice. Democrats quibble over minutia, cowering on the sidelines of power they refuse, with one or two notable exceptions, to speak of the "elephant in the room".and fearfully avoid calling out the Republicans. The Democrats, still seem shell-shocked at how the Republicans can so glibly spin their fabricated lies and demonization's of them...picture Lucy snatching away the football after Charlie Brown has committed to kicking it.

Too many Democrats still don't "get it" - the Republican strategists have decided they will send this country into bankruptcy before they will cooperate with Democrats and work together to solve America's pressing problems that are growing worse and more urgently in need of creative and constructive solutions achieved through negotiations and compromising with every passing day.

Newt, and his cohorts, are poised to steal our Democracy from under our noses. The Republican strategizers have scrupulously followed their plan to destroy our government, because to them, government is the problem, not the solution.

Elected to Governorships and state offices by promising to create jobs, what have these Republican governors done with their powers? They have systematically attempted to defund any regulatory body that remains at all viable, to deny a woman the right to control her own reproductive rights, to dismantle all unions, and are arduously scheming to deny the right to vote to as many young people, older people, and all others whom they fear might vote democratic, as possible - this after the debacle of the unregulated banks drove America in its knees, and after sending our sons and daughters into two unfunded and unwinnable wars.

Our beloved country is mired down in mistrust and fury at our elected congressional members who do nothing to acknowledge that our country's government is terribly broken. Nothing is getting done - the tea party circuses blame the growing economic gulf on "lazy people who just want us to pay their way through life"; Boehner, Cantor, and McConnell tell the 99% of us to just "eat cake"and get a job because their fat cat contributors need to have ever more tax breaks to salt away in mattresses so the 99% had better pay their taxes; and the Democrats quibble over which song to play as they stand, fiddle in hand but silent, watching our beloved country go down in flames.