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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.

Wow!

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.

HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!!!!

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Sunday: The unParty and The Tipping Point

tippingpointLast week, I proposed that we read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell to figure out how we move our unParty from the PUMA internet endemic to the mainstream.  I hope most of you were able to get your hands on a copy of the book or download a version from audible.

Here’s the place to discuss what you’ve learned.  Does Gladwell’s discoveries on the nature of social epidemics have any resonance with the unParty movement?  Are you a connector, maven or salesman?  What entities played those roles for us after the RBC hearing?  What did they do right/wrong?  What piece of the epidemic is missing?  How do we compensate for it?  Is there a role for the unParty in modern politics?  Will it be a movement, a voting bloc, a separate party?  How do we expand beyond our base of PUMAs?  What does the necessary infrastructure look like and how will be organize to create one?  What working groups should we assemble and in what size?

Ok, go to it!  I am thinking of scheduling a blogtalkradio segment to discuss the way forward and The Tipping Point.  I have more drylocking to do today so I’m not sure when I will have a break to do so but if there is support for it, I’ll set one up for sometime this afternoon.

Sunday: Tipping the unParty

Me, before the accident

Me, before the accident

Last summer, just after Obama sold his soul on the FISA bill, Markos Moulitsas shook his tiny fists and wailed:

Like all retreats, this one came with a price. Much of his veneer as a transformational politician has faded. He’s a gifted and inspirational politician, no doubt about that, and he will make a great president. But at the end of the day, he’s a politician, with all the triangulating goodness that’s become a hallmark of our presidential candidates. That has cost him some intensity of support, some bad headlines, a new avenue of attack for Republicans (even though McCain didn’t even bother showing up for the vote), and … renewed energy and sense of purpose for the ridiculous PUMAs. That last one is really fucking annoying.

OooOOooo!  We f&(*ing annoyed him.  Well, I can die now.  I have fulfilled my mission in life.

Or have I?

PUMAs, we’re not done yet.  We came into being during this past election season and now that its over, there’s a bit of a lull.  It’s a perfect time to regroup and determine how to go forward.  We don’t have a lot of time though.  The mid-terms are only 2 years away.  Plus, we’re going to be plunged into an economic crisis the likes of which we, and possibly our parents, have not ever seen before.

But we have already laid the groundwork.  The reason Kos was so annoyed with us is because the concept of PUMA swept through the blogosphere like wildfire.  It was viral.  In a week, seven short days, we went from concept to media appearances from people we didn’t even know about.  Groups started popping up like mushrooms.  Joanniebone started her own little group in Washington,  Janet in South Jersey.  The time was right, the elements were there, the message was clear.  We “tipped”.

The Tipping Point, a book by Malcolm Gladwell, describes the phenomenon of social epidemics.  There are certain elements that need to be in place for a concept or product or message to reach that critical mass where it spills out of the local environment and into the mainstream.  Sometimes this happens in stages.  What annoyed Markos so much was that for the PUMA movement in early June, the tipping point was rapid and widespread.  It was astonishing.  To those of you who have looked on the past election with dismay that you were unable to influence it, give yourself some credit.  David Axelrod had already studied the nature of social epidemics before we got there.  And what he devised took him years and research while it came to us naturally.  His was contrived and was only saved by the incredible criminality and incompetance of George W. Bush.  Ours is organic, well intentioned, inclusive. We made noise.

Right now, we are an endemic.  But do not kid yourself.  There are a lot of potential PUMAs out there.  The Democratic voters who pulled that lever for Obama will give him a much shorter honeymoon than the media will.  He’s going to have to produce and quickly.  And don’t think they are not paying attention to the way women are being treated.  The Obamaphiles who sold every Democratic principle for Obama and who voted for the personality of Obama are a very small fraction of people.  The rest of the Democrats are up for grabs.  And don’t forget the independents and disaffected Republicans.

So, how do we get the unParty to go mainstream?  That’s where the book comes in.  I’m proposing a book club to discuss the concepts presented in The Tipping Point.  As you read it, ask yourself whether you are a connector, maven or salesman.  Think about what it is about PUMA that makes it “sticky”.  Think about structure, organization and size.  Think about the coolness factor.

Then, next Sunday, come back with your ideas and we’ll get this unParty started.