Daily Archive: 08/09/2011

Aug 09 2011

Fusion Tickets: why US 3rd Parties once worked, and why they stopped.

Burning the Midnight Oil for Progressive Populism

We in the US take the two party system for granted, but a two party system is not normal among advanced industrial countries. And, in our history, we used to have a lot more third parties with a lot more impact on our political system in the US. What happened?

This diary is one of a series that was originally published as single, long, sprawling diary.

For most of its political history to the late 1800’s, the US was either dominated by one or two political parties. The (extra-constitutional) winner take all electoral college system and the winner take all nature of a state legislature selecting the state’s Senator strongly pushed in that direction.

But alongside this was a political institution that allowed third parties to emerge and compete for influence ~ and indeed, the Great Re-Alignment from the Democrats and the Whigs to the Republicans and the Democrats occured in part thanks to the existence of third parties that were available to merge with the Anti-Slavery Whigs once they had been purged from the Whig Party.

How did this system work, and where did it go?

Aug 09 2011

Third Way Electoral Victory!

Obama plan: Destroy Romney

Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin, Politico

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011

The dramatic and unabashedly negative turn is the product of political reality. Obama remains personally popular, but pluralities in recent polling disapprove of his handling of his job, and Americans fear the country is on the wrong track. His aides are increasingly resigned to running for reelection in a glum nation. And so the candidate who ran on “hope” in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent.



“Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney,” said a prominent Democratic strategist aligned with the White House.



“There’s so many wonderful ironies here: Obama spent his whole political career perfecting the best argument against Bush 43, and now he’s going to run as 43?” said Romney strategist Stuart Stevens, who also worked for Bush. “They can try anything they want – but this race is going to be about the economy.”



The Democrats who are planning the assault on Romney believe they can avoid a referendum on Obama’s handling of the economy, in part, because both political parties are in such poor public favor.

“People already knew that he’s a political opportunist of the highest order – changing his positions to suit the day’s polling,” said Bill Burton, Obama’s former White House deputy press secretary who now heads Priorities USA, an independent group expected to lead Democratic attacks on the Republican nominee. “But the last couple weeks, this lack of principles has translated into a total lack of leadership on issues like the debt ceiling.”

Oh wait, that last guy was talking about Romney.

Obama’s 2008 Hope Morphs Into 2012 Slash-and-Burn

By: Jane Hamsher, Firedog Lake

Tuesday August 9, 2011 9:47 am

(G)oing negative may be the only path available to Obama right now.  He can’t hope to activate true grassroots support and deliver what Wall Street oligarchs want at the same time.  So he is appealing to  the people who stand to benefit – wealthy donors – and asking for their support to impose austerity measures on the country.

It’s also a tell about how Obama’s campaign team views the political landscape between now and the election. They would not be going negative if his campaign gurus thought there was any possibility of turning around the Independents who have tracked with Republicans on the debt ceiling debate, and according to Gallup, now have a 34% approval rating of the President (down from 43% in early July).  It’s an indication that they think their only hope is to suppress independent voter turnout with a “slash and burn” campaign.



You ride to the White House on a campaign to rise above intolerance, negativity and partisanship, and without a moment of self-reflection, announce a campaign based on … intolerance, negativity and partisanship?  Rather than fix the economy by having the political courage to do what you said needed to be done when you were stoking people’s hope in 2008, you now plan to impose the austerity measures they overwhelmingly oppose and raise hundreds of millions of dollars to tell people your “weird” opponent in his “skinny jeans”  is not “principled and consistent”?   You want to fan the same bigotry and cultural biases the President promised to rise above, hoping win reelection by virtue (of) suppressing turnout?

And your message is that the other guy is not principled or consistent?

Aug 09 2011

Third Way Electoral Victory

Obama plan: Destroy Romney

Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin, Politico

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011

The dramatic and unabashedly negative turn is the product of political reality. Obama remains personally popular, but pluralities in recent polling disapprove of his handling of his job, and Americans fear the country is on the wrong track. His aides are increasingly resigned to running for reelection in a glum nation. And so the candidate who ran on “hope” in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent.



“Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney,” said a prominent Democratic strategist aligned with the White House.



“There’s so many wonderful ironies here: Obama spent his whole political career perfecting the best argument against Bush 43, and now he’s going to run as 43?” said Romney strategist Stuart Stevens, who also worked for Bush. “They can try anything they want – but this race is going to be about the economy.”



The Democrats who are planning the assault on Romney believe they can avoid a referendum on Obama’s handling of the economy, in part, because both political parties are in such poor public favor.

“People already knew that he’s a political opportunist of the highest order – changing his positions to suit the day’s polling,” said Bill Burton, Obama’s former White House deputy press secretary who now heads Priorities USA, an independent group expected to lead Democratic attacks on the Republican nominee. “But the last couple weeks, this lack of principles has translated into a total lack of leadership on issues like the debt ceiling.”

Oh wait, that last guy was talking about Romney.

Obama’s 2008 Hope Morphs Into 2012 Slash-and-Burn

By: Jane Hamsher, Firedog Lake

Tuesday August 9, 2011 9:47 am

(G)oing negative may be the only path available to Obama right now.  He can’t hope to activate true grassroots support and deliver what Wall Street oligarchs want at the same time.  So he is appealing to  the people who stand to benefit – wealthy donors – and asking for their support to impose austerity measures on the country.

It’s also a tell about how Obama’s campaign team views the political landscape between now and the election. They would not be going negative if his campaign gurus thought there was any possibility of turning around the Independents who have tracked with Republicans on the debt ceiling debate, and according to Gallup, now have a 34% approval rating of the President (down from 43% in early July).  It’s an indication that they think their only hope is to suppress independent voter turnout with a “slash and burn” campaign.



You ride to the White House on a campaign to rise above intolerance, negativity and partisanship, and without a moment of self-reflection, announce a campaign based on … intolerance, negativity and partisanship?  Rather than fix the economy by having the political courage to do what you said needed to be done when you were stoking people’s hope in 2008, you now plan to impose the austerity measures they overwhelmingly oppose and raise hundreds of millions of dollars to tell people your “weird” opponent in his “skinny jeans”  is not “principled and consistent”?   You want to fan the same bigotry and cultural biases the President promised to rise above, hoping win reelection by virtue (of) suppressing turnout?

And your message is that the other guy is not principled or consistent?

Aug 09 2011

The Real Cause of Rioting In Tottenham

Coming to a country near you:

London Sees Twin Perils Converging to Fuel Riot

Frustration in this impoverished neighborhood, as in many others in Britain, has mounted as the government’s austerity budget has forced deep cuts in social services. At the same time, a widely held disdain for law enforcement here, where a large Afro-Caribbean population has felt singled out by the police for abuse, has only intensified through the drumbeat of scandal that has racked Scotland Yard in recent weeks and led to the resignation of the force’s two top commanders.

The riot was the latest in what has turned out to be a season of unrest in Britain, with multiple demonstrations escalating into violence in recent months. And there was not long to wait until a new one erupted: across London, skirmishes broke out on Sunday between groups of young people and large numbers of riot police officers, which one officer said were drawn from forces around London.  

snip

Economic malaise and cuts in spending and services instituted by the Conservative-led government have been recurring flashpoints for months.

Late last year, students demonstrating against a rise in tuition fees occupied a building near Parliament and clashed repeatedly with the police. Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were attacked in their Rolls-Royce as protesters – some of whom were subsequently jailed – shouted “Tory scum,” a reference to the Conservative Party’s traditional links with the aristocracy, and “off with their heads!” In March, a reported 500,000 people marched against the cuts, with some protesters occupying the exclusive food store Fortnum & Mason – Prince Charles’s grocer.

On Saturday night, as rioters in Tottenham threw fireworks and bottles at police officers, one man shouted, “This is our battle!” When asked what he meant, the man, Paul Rook, 47, explained that he felt the rioters were taking on “the ruling class.”

Rioting and looting that started in the London suburb of Tottenham on Saturday evening was sparked by the shooting of a 29 year old black man during a car stop by police earlier that day. There is a lot of conflicting reports about what sparked the incident in the first place but what is known is the young man, a father of four and alleged cocaine dealer was armed, was shot once on the chest by a police officer and died. A peaceful protest march of about 200 degenerated into gangs attacking police cars, shops, banks and other buildings with widespread looting around Tottenham. The unrest in and around London has now spread across England to Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Nottingham.

There are more reasons for this rioting and goes to the heart of the Cameron government’s austerity that has cut the social safety net for the very poor and unemployed who are mostly minorities.

Like many European cities, London is in the midst of serious fiscal inadequacies, and poor neighborhoods such as Tottenham and Hackney have suffered the most. Unemployment is rampant in such areas, especially in North London.

“Tottenham is a deprived area,” recently laid-off Uzodinma Wigwe told Reuters. “UnemploymentMetro police, as well as a private agency, are investigating the riots and the shooting.

The violence has marred otherwise peaceful rallies in London against government austerity measures.

In March, isolated clashes erupted in London between police and protestors marching from Piccadilly Circus to Hyde Park to Parliament. Police fired tear gas on the protestors, who in turn threw rocks, bottles, paint and light bulbs filled with ammonia at the police officers.  That clash injured 31 police officers and led to the arrest of 214 people.

snip

Earlier in the year, student protests against a tuition hike also turned violent, with students and police clashing on London streets. Demonstrators broke out shop windows and attacked Prince Charles’ Rolls Royce as it rolled down Regent Street. is very, very high … they are frustrated.”

“We know we have been victimized by this government, we know we are being neglected by the government,” said a middle-aged man who declined to give his name. “How can you make one million youths unemployed and expect us to sit down?”

Unemployment here in the US hovers around 9.1%, among African Americans it is 15.9%, nearly double that of unemployed whites (8.1%). While not nearly as bad as 1982 when unemployment for Afican Americans soared to 19.2%, the wealth gap has widened dramatically

ndeed, blacks have suffered disproportionately in the ongoing crisis, since they have lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs and endured huge cuts in public sector spending. Black teenagers bear the worst of it – their jobless rate is at a staggering 39.2 percent (versus 23 percent for white teenagers).

According to a recent study by the National Urban League (NUL), almost all the financial/economic gains that blacks have accomplished over the past three decades were wiped out by the Great Recession.

The economic collapse is not only thinning the ranks of the black middle class, but has likely condemned millions more to permanent poverty.

The NUL report further indicated that the nation’s housing crisis has disproportionately hurt black home ownership, which “has fallen at three times the rate of white home ownership.”

These are the same factors that have sparked the violent unrest in England. The president and congress would be wise to cease the talk about spending cuts and talks of more austerity and pay more attention to job creation. The US has seen this many times in it’s 235 year history, the most recent during the 80’s and 90’s when the socio-economic disparity was high as it is now. It is has been proved historically that putting people back to work correct the deficit and reverse the spiral towards recession.

Aug 09 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Yves Smith: Why are the big banks getting off scot-free?

For most citizens, one of the mysteries of life after the crisis is why such a massive act of looting has gone unpunished. We’ve had hearings, investigations, and numerous journalistic and academic post mortems. We’ve also had promises to put people in jail by prosecutors like Iowa’s attorney general Tom Miller walked back virtually as soon as they were made.

Yet there is undeniable evidence of institutionalized fraud, such as widespread document fabrication in foreclosures (mentioned in the motion filed by New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman opposing the $8.5 billion Bank of America settlement with investors) and the embedding of impermissible charges (known as junk fees and pyramiding fees) in servicing software, so that someone who misses a mortgage payment or two is almost certain to see it escalate into a foreclosure. And these come on top of a long list of runup-to-the-crisis abuses, including mortgage bonds having more dodgy loans in them than they were supposed to, banks selling synthetic or largely synthetic collateralized debt obligations as being just the same as ones made of real bonds when the synthetics were created for the purpose of making bets against the subprime market and selling BBB risk at largely AAA prices, and of course, phony accounting at the banks themselves.

Paul Krugmn: Credibility, Chutzpah and Debt

To understand the furor over the decision by Standard & Poor’s, the rating agency, to downgrade U.S. government debt, you have to hold in your mind two seemingly (but not actually) contradictory ideas. The first is that America is indeed no longer the stable, reliable country it once was. The second is that S.& P. itself has even lower credibility; it’s the last place anyone should turn for judgments about our nation’s prospects.

Let’s start with S.& P.’s lack of credibility. If there’s a single word that best describes the rating agency’s decision to downgrade America, it’s chutzpah – traditionally defined by the example of the young man who kills his parents, then pleads for mercy because he’s an orphan.

Joseph Stiglitz: More Stimulus for US, Less Austerity

THE Great Recession of 2008 has morphed into the North Atlantic Recession: it is mainly Europe and the US, not the major emerging markets, that have become mired in slow growth and high unemployment. And it is Europe and America that are marching, alone and together, to the denouement of a grand debacle. A busted bubble led to a massive Keynesian stimulus that averted a much deeper recession, but that also fuelled substantial budget deficits. The response – massive spending cuts – ensures that unacceptably high levels of unemployment will continue, possibly for years.

The European Union has finally committed itself to helping its financially distressed members. It had no choice: with financial turmoil threatening to spread from small countries like Greece and Ireland to large ones like Italy and Spain, the euro’s very survival was in growing jeopardy. Europe’s leaders recognised that distressed countries’ debts would become unmanageable unless their economies could grow, and that growth could not be achieved without help.

Dean Baker: The Economic Illiterates Step Up the Attack on Social Security and Medicare

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgrade of US debt should be seen as the joke it is. The rating agency, which gave investment grade ratings to hundreds of billions of dollars of subprime mortgage-backed securities, made an accounting error of $2 trillion in doing its assessment of the US financial situation.

However, when this error was called to S&P’s attention, it still went ahead with the downgrade. Just like the war in Iraq, the policy was decided in advance of the evidence.

The nonsense with the S&P downgrade is yet another distraction – after four months of haggling over the debt ceiling idiocy – from the real problem facing the country: a downturn that has left 25 million people unemployed, underemployed or out of the labor force altogether. Tens of millions of people are seeing their career hopes and family lives wrecked by the prospect of long-term unemployment.

Ted Rall: What I Would Do If I Were Obama

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Throughout the presidency of Barack Obama, Americans have been preoccupied with jobs. Unemployed people need work. The underemployed need more work. The employed want salaries that go up instead of down.

The rich are worried too. The Depression of 2008-? is killing their stock portfolios.

Most presidents struggle to find the pulse of the people. Trapped in the D.C. bubble, they try to find out what voters want. Obama was lucky. He didn’t have to do that. The U.S. was in the midst of an epic economic collapse in January 2009, and has been ever since. It’s the only issue that everyone, rich to middle to poor, cared about. It still is.

In this single-issue environment, any idiot could have been a successful president. All Obama had to do was express sympathy and understanding while announcing a bunch of jobs initiatives.

Not hard.

Eugene Robinson: A Downgrade’s GOP Fingerprints

The so-called analysts at Standard & Poor’s may not be the most reliable bunch, but there was one very good reason for them to downgrade U.S. debt: Republicans in Congress made a credible threat to force a default on our obligations.

This isn’t the rationale that S&P gave, but it’s the only one that makes sense. Like a lucky college student who partied the night before an exam, the ratings agency used flawed logic and faulty arithmetic to somehow come up with the right answer. No, life isn’t always fair.

And no, I can’t join the “we’re all at fault” chorus. Absent the threat of willful default, a downgrade would be unjustified and absurd. And history will note that it was House Republicans who issued that threat.

William Rivers Pit: The Wisconsin Solution

It was, simply, one of the worst weeks in recent memory.

They passed the debt-limit “deal” in Congress and sent it  out for signature by Mr. Obama, and the pen he used might as well have been a tiny little white flag of surrender. The financial markets here and abroad reacted to the unqualified mayhem of the debt-limit fight by going south like a duck in winter, and newspapers all across the country carried dire stories of a looming double-dip recession.

Adding insult to injury, Standard & Poors decided to screw us with our pants on by announcing a downgrade of America’s credit rating. The fact that they blamed their decision on the GOP did little to soften the blow, especially since most of the “mainstream” media chose to ignore this particular aspect of what Senator John Kerry (D-MA) came to call the “Tea Party Downgrade.”

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Can America Still Lead?

LONDON-The first week of August 2011 will be remembered as a singularly irrational, wasteful and shameful moment in the political and economic history of the United States. It reflected much of what is wrong with the priorities of our political elites and the obsessions of those who now hold effective veto power over our government.

It began with the world hanging on to every development in the debt-ceiling negotiations as it fretted over whether Washington’s dysfunction would lead to American default and global calamity. Even robustly pro-American commentators and politicians wondered aloud if the United States could still govern itself.

Aug 09 2011

On This Day In History August 9

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

August 9 is the 221st day of the year (222nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 144 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1974, one day after the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford is sworn in as president, making him the first man to assume the presidency upon his predecessor’s resignation. He was also the first non-elected vice president and non-elected president, which made his ascendance to the presidency all the more unique.

Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King, Jr.; July 14, 1913 – December 26, 2006) was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974. As the first person appointed to the vice-presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, when he became President upon Richard Nixon’s  resignation on August 9, 1974, he also became the only President of the United States who was elected neither President nor Vice-President.

Before ascending to the vice-presidency, Ford served nearly 25 years as Representative from Michigan’s 5th congressional district, eight of them as the Republican Minority Leader.

As President, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward detente in the Cold War. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam nine months into his presidency, US involvement in Vietnam essentially ended. Domestically, Ford presided over what was then the worst economy since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure. One of his more controversial acts was to grant a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. During Ford’s incumbency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President. In 1976, Ford narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination, but ultimately lost the presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. After experiencing health problems and being admitted to the hospital four times in 2006, Ford died in his home on December 26, 2006. He lived longer than any other U.S. president, dying at the age of 93 years and 165 days.

Aug 09 2011

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

If you do not get Current TV you can watch Keith here:

Watch live video from CURRENT TV LIVE Countdown Olbermann on www.justin.tv

Aug 09 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Debt crisis resists assault by ECB and global leaders

By William Ickes, AFP

1 hr 39 mins ago

Battered markets tumbled further on Monday despite world leaders vowing to bolster financial stability with Barack Obama defending US credit and the European Central Bank intervening to stem a debt crisis.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 industrialised and emerging economies pledged to “take all necessary initiatives in a coordinated way to support financial stability and to foster stronger economic growth in a spirit of cooperation and confidence.”

Their statement came after Asian stock markets suffered heavy losses after Friday’s unprecedented US ratings downgrade.