Monthly Archives: May 2010

An Outline of Republican Party Troubles for November

Re: Lincoln Mitchell: The Republican Midterm Dilemma, Lincoln Mitchell, Harriman Institute, Columbia University, as posted in The Huffington Post, May 17, 2010 01:55 PM

After the Democratic Party took back control of congress in 2006, the 2008 presidential election emerged not just as an opportunity, but also as a test for the Democrats. The 2006 election had defeated, but more importantly, discredited, the Republicans. Had the Democrats been unable to win in 2008, it therefore would have raised the questions of whether the Democrats could ever win, and what the point of the Democratic Party was. Fortunately, Barack Obama got elected president in 2008, so these questions have been avoided.

Ironically, the Republican Party, by portraying President Obama as seeking to bring about the socialist apocalypse, and by stressing the strength of anti-Obama among voters, has spun itself into a similar corner today. Raising expectations is never wise in politics, but the Republicans have done just that in the last eighteen months. They have made this more of a problem by overstating the danger represented by the Obama presidency.

They have also raised expectations of victory in November through the constant droning of the right wing echo machine, i.e. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck.

The author here has made some very good points to ponder. He has made the case that Republicans have painted themselves into a corner again. Remember the box they put themselves in with financial reform? It is hard to justify some of their stances. I want to share his paragraph thesis statements in outline form.

1. [Raising expectations… by overstating the danger represented by the Obama presidency] has led to a context where if the Republican tsunami of 2010 fails to materialize in November, even loyal Republican voters will be forced to ask some tough questions about the relevance and future of their party.

2. Obama’s poll numbers, which fell steadily through the last half of 2009, have been reasonably steady this year. The tea party movement has not brought new energy into the Republican Party or become a new force in American politics, but it may continue to derail the Republican Party from nominating electable candidates.

3. The Republican Party has added to their problems by taking policy positions, notably their almost blind allegiance to the health insurance, finance and oil industries, which have pushed voters away and made Republican attacks on Obama easier to dismiss, particularly for those in the political center.

4. The anger and fear that many Americans feel towards the Obama administration is real. Obama, after all, very overtly campaigned on a theme of change, and change always scares some people. However, the Republican Party will remain unable to use this anger and fear to their advantage until they move away from the policies and positions which the American people have voted against in the last two elections.

The fear of Obama that the tea baggers hoped would sweep the nation like wildfire has only been a flash in the pan. Most Americans find it hard to believe that we are facing a socialist nightmare with the policy changes that Obama and Congress have implemented so far. Republicans continue to shout about Obama, but most of the noise just isn’t ringing true. Those folks who are vehemently frothing at the mouth over Obama are the 30% who would still vote for George W. Bush, and would never vote for Obama, or any other Democrat for that matter.



No Common Sense in Colorado Springs

Beautiful Colorado Springs nestled under Pike's Peak

Re: David Sirota: GOP: Recession’s Foreclosure Victims “Want a Homeless Life”

After their anti-tax zealotry left their city in the budgetary lurch, Colorado Springs Republicans have slashed their community’s social services to the bone. We’re talking big cuts to police, firefighters, park maintenance, public transportation – even turning off the city’s streetlights (except, of course, in the wealthy areas!).

If this wasn’t bad enough, the city council this week doubled down on its conservative extremism, officially opposing a congressional jobs bill that would provide roughly $43 million to the city in much-needed aid. Their rationale? They don’t want to add to the federal deficit — a seemingly principled position, until you realize the same city council has had nothing to say about a far bigger deficit culprit: the profligate defense spending that underwrites about a third of Colorado Springs.

Those who refuse help and remain homeless are largely the mentally ill. They would be homeless in a healthy economy, and they are not the majority of homeless.

I am tired of corporate fat cats lining their pockets with our tax dollars. The city finds itself without resources because right wing ideology has cut to the bone, as you say, the funds necessary to keep up with the demand from the public. It’s like a family that is barely holding on and then decides that the best course of action to improve their situation is to to cut their income and go bankrupt. Going bankrupt when you are not insolvent is a weird game.

Right wingers can’t understand that the “government” is us. We formed this union because we need a collective to do for us what we cannot do individually. When they protest the government, they protest Americans and the American way of life.

Corporations and big banks get more public welfare than the poor, by a large margin – trillions of dollars poured down rich fat cats coffers.

Denying shelter to the poor is the kind of robbery that the Sheriff of Nottingham would be proud of. Heartless puppy killers!

Bailed out banks rest on their laurels and live off the backs of the American Taxpayer.

Corporate welfare is the biggest strain on our deficit.

If I’ve learned one thing in my life it is this: common sense isn’t common. Those who throw away income to become bankrupt, as in the case of this right-wing Kool-Aid drinking mayor and city council, cutting taxes to end the police department and street lights aren’t exactly making rational decisions. They reduce their own income to become haggard and eventually bankrupt.

That last part sounds like I’m extrapolating the mayor’s comments, but unfortunately it’s exactly what he said. Check this out from the Denver Post‘s Susan Greene today, quoting The Springs’ mayor:

Thumbing his nose at federal assistance seems to abdicate his responsibilities to the Judd Hesses of his community and others who are down and out, living in tent colonies, arguably not because they want to.

“Some people want a homeless life,” counters (Mayor) Rivera, a financial adviser. “Some people, they really do.”

So there you have it: According to the conservative leader of one of the most conservative cities in America, those thrown out of their homes in this Great Recession actually want to be homeless, so we shouldn’t spend money or — gasp! — dare to raise taxes on the super-rich to generate revenue for programs to help the homeless get back on their feet.

I’d say that’s about as frank an admission about the Republican Party’s callous attitude these days as any. Give the Springs’ conservative leadership credit — at least their honest in their heartlessness and their extremism.

They refuse stimulus money and suffer. For what? Ideology?



Could This be Where It All Begins?

The Progress Report wrote:

BP Oil Disaster
BP Oil Platform Collapses in Gulf of Mexico

Beyond Petroleum

From: The Progress Report []
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 9:40 AM
Subject: Beyond Petroleum

FIGHTING THE OIL ADDICTION: The BP blowout is changing the politics of oil in this
 country, with polls finding that “Americans have turned far less supportive of increased drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coastline.” Although Louisiana’s senators, Mary Landrieu (D) and David Vitter (R) continue to defend BP and our nation’s addiction to oil, some Florida politicians who supported the “Drill Baby Drill” efforts have strongly pulled back, while Mississippi and Alabama politicians have gotten queasy about their former support for drilling. Obama has halted his drive to promote offshore drilling as safe energy, and today sent Congress a legislative package to deal with the immediate crisis.

Could this be where it all begins? President Obama said in Chicago after his triumphant victory that this is the time where it all begins, where generations from now will look back and point to this time as where we started to heal. Could this be a new beginning for American politics – one that swells the ranks of those who think that we must wean ourselves from oil. It could be. It could happen with the right circumstances. All that needs to happen now is for a voice to come forth with strength and enough forcefulness to keep the momentum alive.

Today, Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are unveiling the American Power Act to tackle this generational challenge. The American Power Act includes provisions that limit Obama’s offshore drilling plans and grant a veto over drilling to any state that could be affected by a spill. The legislation invests billions in green transportation initiatives, public transit, and natural gas trucks and buses to reduce demand for oil. It also critically caps fossil fuel pollution, which would finally address the ongoing climate disasters like those that devastated New Orleans and Nashville while weaning our nation off its addiction to oil.

Could these men be that voice? Can the Democratic Party candidate for president in 2004, John Kerry, and the Democratic Party vice-presidential candidate in 2000, Joe Lieberman, have the gravitas to not only rally the base but gain enough momentum with all Americans to build a strong national sentiment toward finally ridding ourselves of oil? Could the introduction of this bill, The American Power Act, one that could really mean something toward a clean future for our grand kids, and one that is introduced at a time of decreased interest in off-shore drilling, be the greatest timing ever?

The disaster in slow motion that is happening now off the coast of New Orleans may be the shock that we need as a nation to move the country in the right direction – toward capping CO2 emissions and toward renewable power. It has never been a question of “if” we move toward renewable power and end our addiction to coal and oil, but a question of “when”. That when could be and must be, now.