Monday, November 10, 2014

You just have to come to your own conclusion

This week on Virtually Speaking Sundays David Waldman (KagroX) and Dave Johnson did the election post-mortem.

Elsewhere, everybody's talkin' like the Democratic Party and "the left" took a beating in the election Tuesday, but by my lights the public did us all a favor by refusing to vote for Democrats whose only selling-point was that at least they weren't Republicans. Oh, yes, Begich lost, too, but no one really expects Alaska to turn blue, and he came a lot closer than people expected - although I expect he could have done better if he had gone stronger. And, unfortunately, the Democratic Party leadership was deliberately sabotaging anyone with a progressive message or record, so no surprises there. I mean, how can you lose when you have this great record to run on? Happily, however, we got rid of some of the worst Dems in the party, and no doubt those who don't get cushy jobs as lobbyists will all have to become talking heads on Fox and Press the Meat for a while. Harold Ford, move over!

Oh, but the carrying on! I can't believe that even on Alternet, there is nonsense about how the party might purge progressives in the future because the strong progressive message failed to bring Dems past the post. Y'what? Did Mark Pryor campaign on a strong progressive message? Did the national party project a progressive message? They did not. And the reason they did not is that they have already purged or whipped most of the progressives (such as they are) in the party and talk about crap like Social Security benefit cuts and hang out with people like Pete Peterson.

Progressives did badly? Oh? Remember what a nail-biter it was waiting for Franken to win Minnesota back in 2008? Well, that wasn't a problem this time around. The incumbent Democrats who got hammered in this election - lost, or came painfully close to losing - were Blue Dogs and DLC/Third Way/New Democrat types. No one really wanted to come out for them and so their "easy wins" never materialized. As Cliff Schecter pointed out on Friday's edition of The Majority Report, Third Way lost a bunch of its elite in this one. Not that it's stopped them from pretending the party needs to move to their "center", but that might just be a hard sell.

And where the voters had the chance to vote on issues, the left won handily. Ballot initiatives for legalizing weed, raising the minimum wage, and curtailing corporations did very well, even in states where Democrats lost. The details on who and what lost or won tell you a great deal. The so-called "left" - which these days seems to mean anyone who is not in the centers of power in DC and on Wall Street - seems to have won where they ran; it was right-wingers with a D after their names who took a bath. Which could be great news for the rest of us if only some real liberals decide to capitalize on it and jump into the ring.

No, it wasn't "the left" who lost the election, it was Obama's right-wing economic policies. Let Howie Klein and Ian Welsh tell you that story, with the help of a couple of pretty scary charts.

As our feathered friend says: "But I'd like to look back at something else. A while back, I wrote, 'To win the next election you have to deliver. Obama didn't deliver on jobs, housing, and banking, and it's pretty hard to message that away,' and also 'Faced with an election that is the crystallized result of essence of policy failure, Obama decides that he...sent the wrong message.' No, you idiots. You didn't send the wrong message. You bailed out the bankers and not the public. You let people be thrown out of their homes through rampant fraud. Six years after the crash, people are still out of work and you bargained away the unemployment insurance extension. Salaries have gone down. Most of us have gone through our savings and you have done nothing to help." That's a record to crash and burn on. See, it's still the economy, stupid.

Meanwhile, on the avowed anti-Obama right, there's just a little bit of dismay over the fact that Republicans now want to give Obama more power for the dreaded fast-track. (We can argue with whether people voted for Republicans rather than simply refusing to turn out for bad Dems, but it's hard to argue that The People voted for fast-track.) "This would be a Republican ratification of the policies of Bush I and II that produced $10 trillion in trade deficits, hollowed out our manufacturing base, and sent abroad the jobs of millions of Reagan Democrats. Globalization carpet-bombed Middle America and killed the Nixon-Reagan coalition that used to give the GOP 49-state landslides. Why would Republicans return to that Bush-Clinton-Obama policy that ended the economic independence of Eisenhower's America? The party should re-embrace economic patriotism, stand up to Japanese protectionists and Chinese currency manipulators, and put American workers first, ahead of corporate outsourcers."

The Election map - read it and weep.

Bill Hicks on what happens after an election

In other news that isn't actually unrelated to the foregoing:

I can't even think about the so-called "school reform movement" without wanting to slap some people.

"E-mail points to White House involvement in USDA's firing of Shirley Sherrod" - Did anyone really think Obama's fingerprints weren't on this somewhere? He may not listen to the voters, but he listens to

Frank Serpico says, "The Police Are Still Out of Control [...] Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he's typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets - this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don't know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on 'the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,' the reports were never issued.)"

"Verizon is launching a tech news site that bans stories on U.S. spying: Verizon is getting into the news business. What could go wrong? The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game. There's just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today."

Lee Camp: States Criminalize Off-The-Grid Living

Racism Insurance, and other stuff.


Huh. Movies That Passed the Bechdel Test Made More Money in 2013.

Why, yes, I would like to watch a fantasy TV series with a superhero team called The Librarians. Is it any good?

John Scalzi's erotic Watchmen fanfic novel

Traffic, "Don't Be Sad"


  1. The incumbent Democrats who got hammered in this election - lost, or came painfully close to losing - were Blue Dogs and DLC/Third Way/New Democrat types.

    Same as 2010. But as with every single election (no matter the result) the Beltway gasbags tell us it proves the Dems must move to the right. And the Republican wing of the Democratic party is ever eager to accommodate (and reap the resulting corporate payola).

  2. Serpico's take on former NYC police commissioner Patrick Murphy is interesting, given Murphy's laudatory Wikipedia page.

    1. Paul C. Crane
      Deputy state public defender in Colorado:

      ...The last thing the police want to have happen is to lose an officer or have one wounded. Their first priority is to ensure the safety of the officers, not the public. That is why police are trained to shoot at center mass (where the heart, lungs and vital organs are located) and to continue firing until a threat is "neutralized." Hence the ongoing slaughter of citizens holding toy guns and sticks, and citizens with mental illness who wave knives around after calling the police because they are feeling suicidal....

      If the police were truly "putting their lives on the line," perhaps they would assume the risk of an injury that comes with their job... Their job (which they volunteered for) is to serve and protect. It can entail risk; if they don't want to assume that risk, they should go into another line of work.


    2. [QUOTE my emphasis] [LINK] A 12-year-old Cleveland boy who allegedly had a replica handgun in his waistband died early Sunday after being shot by a police officer...

      The child was at the Cudell Recreation Center at 3:30 p.m. Saturday when police responded to a report of the child waving the gun around and scaring people...

      "There's a guy in here with a pistol. It's probably fake, but he's pointing it at everybody," the witness told authorities, according to the 911 call released to the station. "It's probably fake but, you know what? It's scaring the s--- out of everybody."

      But police said they could not take the risk that the gun was not an actual threat.

      "We have to assume every gun is real," Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association president Jeff Follmer said, according to News One. "When we don't, that's the day we don't go home."

      As two officers approached the child they told him to raise his hands, officials told WOIO.

      But instead the young man reached for the gun in his waistband and one officer fired his weapon two times. The boy was shot in his torso and taken to a hospital.

      Police said the 12-year-old did not threaten officers nor point the gun at them.

      The weapon reportedly was an airsoft gun that resembles a semi-automatic handgun. [END QUOTE]

      At least we know we're free. [LINK]

  3. If the theme of this post is "the elites vs. the more progressive than they are credited with being voters" this comment really isn't all that off topic, so here goes, I hadn't any idea of who sourced these stories and hadn't even made the connection this recently reported blunder was made by the same guy who made that earlier one until Dave Weigel said [LINK]:

    [QUOTE] Rich Weinstein is not a reporter. He does not have a blog. Until this week, the fortysomething's five-year old Twitter account had a follower count in the low double digits....

    He's also behind a series of scoops that could convince the Supreme Court to dismantle part of the Affordable Care Act. Weinstein has absorbed hours upon hours of interviews with Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor who advised the Massachusetts legislature when it created “Romneycare” and the Congress when it created “Obamacare.”

    ...“When Obama said 'If you like your plan, you can keep your plan, period'—frankly, I believed him,” says Weinstein. “He very often speaks with qualifiers. When he said 'period,' there were no qualifiers. You can understand that when I lost my own plan, and the replacement cost twice as much, I wasn’t happy.

    ...Weinstein dug and dug and eventually discovered the first Gruber quote, known in conservative circles as the “speak-o.” Gruber had been on TV arguing that the case against subsidies in non-exchange states was ludicrous. Yet at a January 2012 symposium, Gruber seemed to be making the conservatives' argument. “What’s important to remember politically about this is if you're a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don't get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill,” said Gruber. “So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country.”

    The investment advisor e-mailed this around. Nobody cared. Nobody noticed the clip until after the D.C. circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of plaintiffs who were suing to stop the subsidies. Weinstein clicked around for articles about the decision, and left a comment on The Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy blog, pointing to the clip. In short order, Ryan Radia of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute noticed the clip and promoted it. Within hours, Gruber's “speak-o” had greatly muddied the liberal argument.

    ...A few days ago, Weinstein pulled a short clip from Gruber's year-old appearance at a University of Pennsylvania health care conference. As a crowd murmured with laughter, Gruber explained that the process that created the ACA was, by necessity, obfuscated to pull one over on voters.

    “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” said Gruber. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the America voter, or whatever.”[END QUOTE]

    Actually, it wasn't the American voter who cut a back room deal with Big Pharma or cast a single one of the yea votes on the way to the final passage of the PPACA, the great triumph of the for-profit medical insurance industry and other gougers. Cradle to grave Medicare is much more along the lines of something we slows would have settled on given the chance, I would think.

    1. The fruits of a free internet. Do we really believe this (a free internet) is something Obama wants?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Without the internet you have professional Republican opposition researchers terrorizing Democrats, with the internet you have gadflies terrorizing Democrats with a little payback going the other way at Republicans who, far from reacting in pitiful fashion, keep on truckin', impervious to anything that gets thrown at them.

      My beef is with how inexorably the elite can be seen to be developing an institutional memory that it was voter concerns, not monied interest concerns first, last, and always, that created the convolutions that became the PPACA..

      (Some right wing commentariet trooper who uses the pseudonym Cicero over at The Daily Howler was having some fun with this by posting two video links.

      Nancy Pelosi November 5, 2009 [LINK]

      Nancy Pelosi November 13, 2014 [LINK] at a press conference where she was also announcing her intention to remain as the deft leader of the Democratic caucus for another term.)

    4. Gadfly: One who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions, or attempts to stimulate innovation by proving an irritant.

      Gadfly: (pejorative) One who merely irritates without making useful suggestions.

      I take it you mean the former. :=)

  4. I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

    American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.


  5. We were had, by Obama, by Gruber, by the entire United States Congress.

  6. Digby says [my emphasis]:

    [QUOTE]So Jim Webb is officially exploring the idea of entering the race for president. I'm sure quite a few people are thrilled. He's never been my favorite politician --- I'm suspicious of anyone who couldn't see through Ronald Reagan, even to the extent he would work in his administration --- although he does take some interesting iconoclastic positions. But I'm a bit believer in primaries, as painful as they may be, so I think it's just fine if he runs and good luck to him.[END QUOTE]

    The Democrats are the party that has fought the good fight for Heritage/RomneyCare and any year now is going to go use $10.50/hr as the starting point for negotiations to raise the minimum wage. I don't suppose they'll have too much trouble getting behind Jim Webb if he's the nominee but, before it gets to that, the Democratic wing of the Democratic party could go rad instead and get behind er, um... well there's Elizabeth Warren.

    Late in 2011 The Daily Beast said:

    [QUOTE]For all those quaking on the right at the sight of an ascendant Warren, rest easy. Warren’s no lefty. In fact, Warren was a registered Republican into her 40s. When it comes to ideology, Warren makes for a rotten heir to Kennedy.

    “I was a Republican because I thought that those were the people who best supported markets. I think that is not true anymore,” Warren says. “I was a Republican at a time when I felt like there was a problem that the markets were under a lot more strain. It worried me whether or not the government played too activist a role.”

    Did she vote for Ronald Reagan, who ushered in much of the financial deregulation which Warren has devoted her life to stopping? “I’m not going to talk about who I voted for,” she says.

    It wasn’t until later in life, when Warren was 46, that she had her political awakening.

    Then again, maybe we shouldn't let the "almost certainly backed the Reagan Revolution and did back the Gingrich Revolution" be the enemy of "worked for Ronald Reagan and always has held we were betrayed by the left in Vietnam."