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Friday Afternoon News and Views: Have We Finally Reached A Tipping Point?

The boiling point

Tipping points: the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable; the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point. (Malcolm Gladwell)

Was the special election for the Massachusetts Senate seat the final straw for Obama supporters and for Obama’s corporate agenda? It sure looks that way. The signs are everywhere: prog blogs are in chaos, big media is finally beginning to notice that Obama is arrogant and out of touch, and even the most far-gone Koolaid drinkers are beginning to sober up. Firedoglake is morphing into a blog that resembles TC back in June of 2008.

Oddly, Krugman is still hanging in there with the Koolaid Krowd. He wants the House to pass the Senate bill right away. WTF?! Just what drug did they feed him at that White House dinner anyway? Or are the bosses at the NYT holding a gun to his head as he writes his columns?

Elsewhere, all around the ‘net, hundreds of Koolaid drinkers are jumping on the wagon every day. Let’s take a brief tour.

At The Nation, William Greider calls the Massachusetts election results a “pie in the President’s face.”

The special election displayed monumental miscalculations by which Obama has governed, both in priorities and political-legislative strategies. It may seem perverse and unfair, but the president’s various actions for reform generated a vaguely poisonous identity. Amid the general suffering, Obama is widely seen as collaborating with two popular villains–the me-first bankers and over-educated policy technocrats of the permanent governing elite. Obama made nice with the bankers and loaded up his administration with Harvard policy wonks who really don’t know the country. These malignant associations gain traction because people see there are grains of truth in observable reality.

Greider still has a way to go–he still adores Obama’s “soaring rhetoric,” and he thinks Obama just followed the advice of his bad advisers and needs to fire them and hire new ones. But it’s a start. Greider is a smart man. He’ll get it eventually.

Drew Westen has been on Obama case for awhile now, but this post is even more emphatic than the past few he has written.

The President’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge that we have a two-party system, his insistence on making destructive concessions to the same party voters he had sent packing twice in a row in the name of “bipartisanship,” and his refusal ever to utter the words “I am a Democrat” and to articulate what that means, are not among his virtues. We have competing ideas in a democracy — and hence competing parties — for a reason. To paper them over and pretend they do not exist, particularly when the ideology of one of the parties has proven so devastating to the lives of everyday Americans, is not a virtue. It is an abdication of responsibility.

I’ve got his book The Political Brain lying around here somewhere. Maybe I’ll read it.

And it sure does look like Obama’s agenda is about to topple over, doesn’t it? Roll call has the startling news that Ben Bernanke’s reappointment is in trouble. It’s subscription only, but D-day has quotes at FDL.

Ben Bernanke’s nomination to serve a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve appears to be in peril. Bernanke is up for a second term at the Fed; his current term expires in 10 days on Jan. 31. A handful of Senators had previously threatened to filibuster the nomination, but this week the number of opposing lawmakers appeared to grow, further dimming his prospects for installment.

“I think it’s worthy of a review,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who is undecided.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) met with Bernanke on Thursday, one day after Democrats voiced concerns during their weekly policy luncheon about the nomination. In a statement after his meeting with the Fed chairman, Reid was coy, saying the two met “to discuss the best ways to strengthen and stabilize our economy.” […]

At Wednesday’s Democratic caucus meeting, according to Senators, liberals spoke out against confirming Bernanke for a second term. Those liberals tried to make the case that the White House needs to put in place fresh economic advisers to focus on “Main Street” issues like unemployment rather than Wall Street concerns. Moderates were more reserved, Senators said, but have similarly withheld their support for Bernanke.


At Politico: Dem health care talks collapsing

Health care reform teetered on the brink of collapse Thursday as House and Senate leaders struggled to coalesce around a strategy to rescue the plan, in the face of growing pessimism among lawmakers that the president’s top priority can survive.

The legislative landscape was filled with obstacles: House Democrats won’t pass the Senate bill. Senate Democrats don’t want to start from scratch just to appease the House. And the White House still isn’t telling Congress how to fix the problem.

Also at Politico: White House caught in Democrats’ crossfire

Congressional Democrats — stunned out of silence by Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts — say they’re done swallowing their anger with President Barack Obama and ready to go public with their gripes.

If the sentiment isn’t quite heads-must-roll, it’s getting there.

Hill Democrats are demanding that Obama’s brain trust — especially senior adviser David Axelrod and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel — shelve their grand legislative ambitions to focus on the economic issues that will determine the fates of shaky Democratic majorities in both houses.

And they want the White House to step up — quickly — to help shape the party’s message and steer it through the wreckage of health care reform.

Double wow!

And get this: even NOW is waking up!!!!!

As Democrats weigh options for health reform following a major setback in the Massachusetts election, the nation’s leading womens’ rights group blasted the legislation as “beyond outrageous.”

The National Organization for Women (NOW) harbors deep concerns with the Senate health legislation, and exclaims that “women will be better off with no bill whatsoever.”

“The Senate bill contains such fierce anti-abortion language, and there are other problems from the point of view of women,” NOW’s President Terry O’Neill told Raw Story in an interview.

O’Neill said NOW “will not support candidates in 2010 if they vote for it.”

Triple Wow!!!!

Will Scott Brown be the savior of the Democratic Party? It’s too early to tell yet, but it does look like we’ve reached a tipping point. Please post your own “tipping point” links in the comments.


Kiss my ass, Dave


David “M-M-M-My” Sirota has written an accurate yet ridiculous piece about last year’s election:

Though the 2006 and 2008 elections were billed as progressive movement successes, the story behind them highlights a longer-term failure. During those contests, most leaders of Washington’s major labor, environmental, antiwar and anti-poverty groups spent millions of dollars on a party endeavor — specifically, on electing a Democratic president and Democratic Congress. In the process, many groups subverted their own movement agendas in the name of electoral unity.

The effort involved a sleight of hand. These groups begged their grass-roots members — janitors, soccer moms, veterans and other “regular folks” — to cough up small-dollar contributions in return for the promise of movement pressure on both parties’ politicians. Simultaneously, these groups went to dot-com and Wall Street millionaires asking them to chip in big checks in exchange for advocacy that did not offend those fat cats’ Democratic politician friends (or those millionaires’ economic privilege).


But after the 2008 election, the strategy’s bankruptcy is undeniable.

As we now see, union dues underwrote Democratic leaders who today obstruct serious labor law reform and ignore past promises to fix NAFTA. Green groups’ resources elected a government that pretends sham “cap and trade” bills represent environmental progress. Healthcare groups promising to push a single-payer system got a president not only dropping his own single-payer promises, but also backing off a “public option” to compete with private insurance. And antiwar funding delivered a Congress that refuses to stop financing the Iraq mess, and an administration preparing to escalate the Afghanistan conflict.

I’m not disagreeing with anything that Mr. Sirota says. The problem is that Dave writes as if he spent the last few years hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk&Wagnalls front porch. In reality Dave was a Kool-aid chugging, CDS infested Obamafluffer.

There were a whole bunch of people last year who weren’t so keen on the idea of subverting their agendas in the name of electoral unity. They even formed a group. Dave didn’t think too highly of them when it mattered. Earlier this year he had this to say:

I’m very proud of the reporting I did during the campaign, and of the work I’m doing with the team at OpenLeft. We don’t carry water for individual politicians – we’re honest and straightforward about trying to do our part to build a movement. And that means there’s going to be praise and criticism – all at the same time. That doesn’t make us the hypocrites in American politics – not even close. Indeed, the real hypocrites are those who insist they care about the future of this country, but either disengage or actively work to undermine a president because their favored candidate didn’t win.

So my message is pretty simple:

1. I – and other Obama supporters – have nothing to apologize for on this score. Nothing at all. If telling the truth makes you dislike me or anyone else, that’s your problem, not mine.

2. To Naderites, STFU and start doing the unglamorous work of building the third-party you say you really want.

3. To Clintonites, just STFU and slither back to your rathole of bitterness. Your candidate lost because she helped create the problems we now have to fix. Deal with that and become a productive member of society, or again, just STFU.

As Joseph Cannon said, “The guy is just plain bugfuck nuts.

If Dave and his ilk did such a good job “reporting” then how come we know more about Sarah Palin’s scary lady parts than we do about Obama’s years in Chicago and his relationships with Tony Rezko, William Ayers and Reverend Jeremiah Wright? How did an empty suit get into the White House without showing his college transcripts and legislative records?

How did someone with Obama’s resume raise $50 million dollars in the first six months of 2007 despite mediocre polling and piss-poor debate performances? Who were the wealthy and powerful people that jump-started Obama’s campaign? More importantly, why did they do it and what do they expect in return?

Where was Dave Sirota when democracy was punked by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committed in order to anoint Obama as the Democratic nominee? Where was the hard-hitting investigative journalism when the caucuses were gamed?

Before Dave Sirota is welcomed back to the ranks of respectability a mea culpa and an act of contrition are called for. First Dave needs to utter those two magic words – “I’m sorry.” As for the act of contrition I will offer myself as a representative of all the disenfranchised Democrats.

All Dave Sirota needs to do is name the time and the place and I will be there to offer up my flabby white ass for him to kiss. I’ll even make sure it is freshly washed. It can be a small, private ceremony – just me, him and a photographer.

If he would prefer to apply his liver lips to another set of buns  I’m sure there are plenty of pissed off Democrats who will volunteer. All Dave has to do is give us an address or fax number and we can all send him photocopies of our asses so he can choose which one he wants to pucker up and smooch.

After the way he chapped his lips on Obama’s skinny butt one more derriere shouldn’t be too hard.

Continue reading

He’s Just Not That Into You, Dave


Dave Sirota discovers he was just a booty call:

I forgot how weirdly rigid the social hierarchies are at official political events, but I was reminded when, as a member of the press, I was corralled into a steel cage (see right) and cordoned off from the audience, as if under quarantine. Oh, and I was also set apart from the “traveling press” – the national reporters that travel on Air Force One. They got the good seats, and the local media was put in the back (no sour grapes, I swear – I’m just happy to have gotten in).

That last sentence is full of sad.  Dave must still be longing for a repeat of the day they spent together because he’s still infatuated:

Is President Obama rediscovering the economically populist voice that fueled his campaign? After spending a week traveling to locales outside the eliteosphere in Washington, D.C., it seems like he certainly might be:

The president, as reported by the Detroit Free Press, “said he believes there is no economic risk to workers organizing and making a living wage.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer, meanwhile, quoted Obama as saying he didn’t “buy the argument that providing workers with collective-bargaining rights somehow weakens the economy or worsens the business environment.” Moreover, the paper reported that Obama “would not urge a delay in consideration of the Employee Free Choice Act.”

When I read this, my reaction was a fist pump – perhaps the first full-on fist pump I’ve been moved to engage in since the inauguration.

Fist pumps?  Doesn’t Obama even have the courtesy to give you a reach-around?  C’mon Dave, put down the Kool-aid and step away from the punch bowl.  If he cared about you he wouldn’t avoid you in public. 

When was Obama ever an “economic populist?”  When he was bashing NAFTA in Ohio while secretly telling the Canadians he didn’t mean it?  Would an economic populist want to privatize social security?  Wouldn’t an economic populist make universal health care a top priority?

Haven’t you figured out yet that you have to parse Obama’s words carefully?  How come Obama didn’t say he “would not urge a delay in passage of the Employee Free Choice Act?”  Quit falling for all the smooth talk and demand a commitment.  As my grandma would say “It don’t mean a thing if you don’t get that ring.”


Wednesday: Brace yourself, Sirota, Obama’s landing in the Hudson

Normally, we don’t respond to our critics.  There are plenty out there who hate our guts and make it their mission in life to criticize us. There is something about people like us who will not submit to enormous loads of peer pressure that just drive some sites to insensible frothing.  We ignore them.  But when David Sirota wrote his petulant tantrum piece for OpenLeft, well, that’s a different kettle of fish.  David is(was) a real journalist who wrote some searing prose back in the day.  He’s not like the talentless beligerents who stalk and provoke us for some reaction that they can later blow out of proportion.  Indeed, David didn’t even mention us by name.

I looked for some clues in David Sirota’s biography that would explain how it was that he went so totally off the rails last year for Obama.  Sirota is part of the self-appointed Creative Class.  We real creative class members would appreciate it if these wannabees would stop using our class designation but we’ll put that aside for the moment.  David was 5 years old when Reagan took office.  He was 18 when Bill Clinton took the oath.  David doesn’t know anything about The Great Society or the War on Poverty other than what he heard at his pappy’s knees.  David went to Northwestern University for his journalism degree.  Not too shabby.  His choice of school and major indicates a degree of financial independence that those of us from working class backgrounds did not enjoy.  We who were the first in our families to go to college picked majors that would help us earn a living.  There was no poetry and politics in our future.  I could be completely wrong about David but he seems to be one of the people Pacific John talked about in the Audacity of Democracy.  He’s a child of the Reagan years.  Reagan put the wealthy and well connected back in the driver’s seat.

Sirota has a bone to pick with the Clintons.  I’m not sure that Sirota was really paying attention to what happened in the 90’s.  I understand.  It’s hard to be focused when you’ve got mid-terms and Friday night keggers.  Essentially what happened was that a young, charismatic governor and his brilliant wife came upon DC like gangbusters and got their asses handed to them by the Villagers.  They had high-faloutin’ hopes for healthcare reform and equality for gay soldiers and open-minded Supreme Court justices and an administration that looked like America.  And they got trashed for that.  Then the Democrats misused their franking privileges and their bank to float bad checks and lost Congress.  The Republicans swept to power in 1994 and that was the end of The Man from Hope.  He spent the next 6 years dealing with an overtly hostile Congress and media.  But a funny thing happened.  Despite all of the investigations, which lead to nothing more than a girl in a beret, Clinton left the country in peace with a surplus.  Did he achieve all he wanted?  No, I don’t think so.  He made a lot of compromises along the way.  Sometimes he tried to acommodate Republicans when he thought business would profit.  Sometimes, he compromised because he just didn’t have the numbers to prevail and all he could do was cushion the blow.  But those of us who remember the triumphant night in Little Rock in November 1992 took a collective sigh of relief when the bad old days of the Republican era of Reagan and Bush *finally* came to an end.  We didn’t know that the evil f%&(s were lying in wait in the media and were going to undermine this guy and his wife for 8 long years.

But for Sirota, no good deed goes unpunished.  The Clintons are to blame for EVERYTHING.  The only thing I can attribute this to is the incessant braying of the Limbaugh types and the nauseating amount of propaganda that has permeated every “news” outlet.  Something about the Clintons really upset the Villagers to a degree that I have never seen before.  It was relentless.  I can only speculate that something about them, and particularly Hillary, was a threat to their way of life, class or economic strata.  Sirota, having lived in this atmosphere for most of his adult life, did not pick up on it that Hillary Clinton was the real change agent.  Her election would have finally made the Villagers impotent.  They would have been forced to adapt to a new environment, one where nothing they said would make a damn bit of difference.  She would have been elected in spite of the Village, not because of them.  Just think of that squandered opportunity.

What happened to Sirota last year is in some respects a repeat of what happened to those of us who were 10 years older when the Clintons took power.  He must have been relieved that a Democratic president would finally take over and put things right.  That was our hope as well.  But we knew that it would be a disaster to put Obama in charge because he was not ready.  Now, David can go on forever rationalizing about Hillary and what she might have done.  But Hillary was off of Sirota’s list early for war related reasons.  For some bizarre reason, he can’t accept that Obama was off of our radar for experience related reasons.  In fact, I would have preferred Biden or Dodd to Obama.  (Kucinich, Edwards and Richardson were non-starters to me for various reasons).  Obama was simply at the bottom of my list because I knew he would be over his head.

There are many things that Sirota isn’t getting about the past election that I’d like to clear up for him:

  • Obama ran a terrible campaign.  I know that goes against conventional wisdom but that’s why it is conventional and not always right.  Obama threw tons of money in the big states and lost.  He went to the convention only 17 delegates ahead, all of them from MIchigan, a state where his name wasn’t on the ballot.  And the only reason he got those ill-gotten delegates is because the RBC lowered the bar for him.  They were so determined to see an African-American on the ballot that they ignored the fact that most primary voters did not vote for him.  They saw that his campaign didn’t have the votes to make him the nominee and there was no damn way he was going to win a new primary in Florida, so they rigged the primary in his favor.  That’s what Obama’s nomination amounts to- a rigged vote.
  • The rigging of the primaries was not a loss for just Hillary Clinton.  And while we’re at it, let’s get something straight: Secretary of State is not some consolation prize for not getting to be president.  There is no consolation prize for that.  She lost and she will never get a second crack at it.  She’s dealing with it the best way she can and we have moved on from that.  No, the real loss from the rigging of the primaries was for the voters.  They got snookered into thinking that their votes actually counted but really, a bunch of guys in a backroom cut a deal and cut the voters out.  That’s why we’re here, David.  We’re the people whose votes were callously cast away because we wanted someone else.  And we were the majority.
  • Barack Obama sailed to victory on a sea of cash provided by some very wealthy and well connected people.  Those people don’t give a damn about the voters either.  All they wanted was to see which of the candidates was most susceptible to their siren song.  Obama was their dude.  He took the money and because he is a weak politician with no coalitions that he has banked over the years through hard work. He is beholden to the moneymen and the Villagers who are their front guys.
  • Barack Obama is out of his depth and we voters are screwed.  This is the scariest part of the whole scenario.  A responsible president would have come into this office with a set of plans and policies to meet the crisis that was already in play before he was inaugurated.  He should have been making the morning talk show circuit months ago laying the groundwork for ideas that he planned to implement.  He should have hit the ground running with his cabinet appointments and had a deep bench in case of a nanny problem.  We are in a global economic crisis and there are rumors that back in September, the world nearly plunged back into the Dark Ages financially.  And what do we get?  He appears to be making it up as he goes along.  He’s giving way to the centrists and Republicans.  He still doesn’t have a cabinet secretary for HHS and Labor.  What is going on??

Obama’s response so far has been inadequate, short sighted, arrogant, ill-prepared and ineffective.  As a result, the recession will be longer, deeper and more painful for all of us.  His behavior and actions are a direct result of his 1.) lack of experience and 2.) lack of political philosophy.  It turns out that he really believed his post partisan shtick, which makes him not brilliant after all. In essence, what we have is a jumbo jet preparing to make a crash landing in the Hudson and instead of an experienced pilot at the controls, we have a guy who has never even soloed.  This is about OBAMA, David, not Hillary.  Obama has spent his whole career in campaign mode, not governing mode.  This fact should have been clear to you last year.  It was clear to us.

Now, do I blame Obama for the fact that the economy is in the mess it’s in?  No.  No one here would make that mistake.  But we do blame him for making it worse than it has to be because he is not the person we need right now.  Hillary might have been better but that’s something we’ll never know.  What we *do* know is that a year ago at this time, most of us bitter losers thought that Obama was not ready for prime time.  That is why we did not vote for him.  We didn’t say, “Oh, yeah, the economy is going to tank.  The signs are all there.  But wouldn’t it be cool to have Obama?  He totally makes us cry sometimes.

Our eyes were open, David.  We knew what was at stake.  Don’t tell us to STFU.  You and your dreamy eyed Obot friends got us to this point.  You owe the rest of the country an apology for not sticking up for the integrity of the voting process.  You owe us big time for not standing up to sexism and propaganda instead of indulging in it.  You lost your heads in a frenzy of Obama love while the rest of us trembled with fear of an upcoming economic downturn.

We kept our heads and now we have the right and obligation to speak up.   And we’re going to do that every chance we get.