Tag Archive: Progressives

Apr 08 2013

Are “Progressives” Destroying the New Deal?

Does the term Progressive mean anything anymore?

Surely it has an historical meaning and there are some roundabout descriptions of modern progressivism online like this one from Wikipedia:

Today, members of the Green Party of the United States are most likely to self-identify as liberal progressives. In the U.S. Congress, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is the most liberal wing of the Democratic Party, and it is often in opposition to the more centrist or conservative Democrats who form the Blue Dogs caucus. It is also in near-continuous opposition to the Republican Party.

But what does it mean when say, the leader of the Democratic Party, President Obama proclaims himself a Progressive:

“I am someone who is no doubt progressive.”

… and then later proceeds to describe himself as a, “moderate Republican?”

“The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”

Further, what does it mean when three quarters of the Congressional Progressive Caucus won’t stand up for the indispensable legacy of the progressive New Deal and Great Society advances, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

Three-Quarters of Progressive Caucus Not Taking a Stand Against Cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

For the social compact of the United States, most of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has gone missing.

While still on the caucus roster, three-quarters of the 70-member caucus seem lost in political smog. Those 54 members of the Progressive Caucus haven’t signed the current letter that makes a vital commitment: “we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”

… Addressed to President Obama, the letter has enabled members of Congress to take a historic stand: joining together in a public pledge not to vote for any cuts in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. …

The Progressive Caucus co-chairs, Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, signed the letter. So did Barbara Lee, the caucus whip. But no signer can be found among the five vice chairs of the Progressive Caucus: Judy Chu, David Cicilline, Michael Honda, Sheila Jackson-Lee and Jan Schakowsky. The letter’s current list of signers includes just 16 members of the Progressive Caucus (along with five other House signers who aren’t part of the caucus).

What about the other 54 members of the Progressive Caucus? Their absence from the letter is a clear message to the Obama White House, which has repeatedly declared its desire to cut the Social Security cost of living adjustment as well as Medicare. In effect, those 54 non-signers are signaling: Mr. President, we call ourselves “progressive” but we are unwilling to stick our necks out by challenging you in defense of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; we want some wiggle room that you can exploit.

Yes, that’s right the President, who has, “no doubt” that he’s a progressive wants to cut the social safety net, despite the fact that he made rather a big deal that he would not do just that thing:

Now, however, the, “no doubt progressive” President is about to release his budget, which will reportedly contain cuts to programs that have always been the core of progressive policy:

President Obama’s budget proposal to be unveiled next week will include cuts to Social Security and Medicare, according to media reports Friday morning.

Politico reports:

The most controversial element of Obama’s proposal is the inclusion of “chained CPI,” the adjustment that would over time reduce cost-of-living increases to Social Security and other federal benefit programs – effectively, a cut to Social Security benefits by tying them to inflation.

Progressives in the Media and the Blogosphere

So while many congressional “progressives” have chosen between their divided loyalties and come up as cowering yes men for the misguided juggernaut of the Obama administration, parts of the progressive media are spouting propaganda:

John Nichols tells only part of the truth in this piece and the failure to represent the whole truth makes it a specious bit of propaganda, that distracts and diverts attention away from those that are carrying out the agenda of the big money forces he decries.  

[Perhaps this is a problem created by editing as Nichols is generally a reasonable guy, who has written a number of articles calling for opposition to President Obama’s Chained CPI plan.  This was a publication of The Nation magazine, so perhaps they edited it and it represents their editorial position more than Nichols’ opinions and position.  Since Nichols is the face, name and voice of this piece, however, the criticism will be directed at him and presumably if he gives a damn about what some blogger says, he can assert that the blame lays elsewhere.]

Nichols explains that in, as he puts it a, “Dollarocracy,” the ideas that get put forward are the ideas that have big money behind them, like cutting Social Security.  He goes on to highlight the fact that austerity-loving-corporate-greedheads were able to get, “one of their own,” Paul Ryan on a ballot to run for Veep to push their plans.  What Nichols fails to mention is that those austerity-loving-corporate-greedheads were going to win no matter what this election.  They already have a Democratic president who is promoting their agenda on the other ticket.  Guess what, they won! And there was no chance that they wouldn’t!

How is it that Nichols could have failed to notice and call out the Obama administration and the many Democrats that are performing the bidding of the, “Dollarocracy” with such alacrity these days?  Nichols is an experienced pundit, he certainly has been around and allegedly paying attention long enough to know who has been pushing the 1%’s, “Dollarocracy” agenda.  

Let’s take a trip through some of the evidence that one would have to ignore to create that Dollarocracy video with such a glaring omission in it…

Apr 30 2012

Can President Obama Be Changed?

That is the question, or more accurately, can President Obama be persuaded to fully support a progressive approach to policy?  That is the key question in deciding whether criticisms of President Obama in this election season are “helpful” or not.

Despite commentary to the contrary, it is my sense that those who criticize Mr. Obama do not do so out of some demented animus toward the man.  In fact, I submit that the criticism comes out of a respect for the President.  Progressive critics think that he is a man with whom one can disagree sharply and still expect that he will, as is the responsibility of his office, prioritize the will of the public that those criticisms represent and adjust his official actions in accordance.

Much pie has been flung between factions of progressives lately about the correct course of action. Should we try to force Mr. Obama to change his policies now, when he needs something from us?  Or, should we keep our powder dry until after the elections when a grateful re-elected president will reward our silence with a change of course in his administration?

As one who is a frequent critic of the President’s policies, who has taken his share of disapprobation from partisans of the President, I want to seriously ask a question:

When has passivity and failure to stand up for your principles, at key moments when “mandates” are being approved by the public at large, ever been a winning strategy for those principles?

Seriously?!?!

Do partisans of the President really feel that he is such a weak figure and poor politician that he cannot win an election if progressives stand up for their principles and attempt to drive his “mandate” to the left?

Apr 03 2012

Who decides who’s “viable”?

     

Following up on one of my previous posts, I want to post regarding Glenn Greenwald's recent shilling for three Democrat Congressional candidates running for their party's nomination.  Specifically, I want to comment on something he said in his opening paragraph:

 "Most  Congressional contests are boring and largely inconsequential; the   vast bulk features certain victory by unnotable incumbents or open-seat   races between Party-approved, script-reading, poll-driven,  cookie-cutter  challengers. But there are a few new candidates for  Congress who are  both genuinely exciting and viable, and thus very much worthy of  attention and support."

 I  put the relevant statement in bold-faced type.  I have to marvel at  Greenwald's curiously contradictory dismissal of candidates he deems not  to be viable, because here he is using his blog to do what journalists  are supposed to do in elections: highlight candidates whose policy  positions are relevant to the electorate, thereby providing voters with  information they need to render good decisions at the ballot boxes.

Shouldn't  it be voters who decide which candidates are viable by casting their  ballots?  How are they supposed to do that when media figures — even  liberal ones — deny them information they need?

 Jill Stein, Roseanne Barr, and Kent Mesplay are all running for the Green Party nomination this year, with Stein so far having won more primaries.  Stewart Alexander is running on the Socialist Party ticket, Gary Johnson is running for the Libertarian Party nomination, and Rocky Anderson  is running on the newly formed Justice Party.  But you wouldn't know  that to hear the mainstream news and blogs tell it; as far as they're  concerned, these candidates aren't "viable", aren't "serious", and are  therefore excluded from all discussion that isn't ridicule.

Regardless  of your political views, shouldn't you as a voter determine which  candidates are worthy of your ballot?  Journalists have an obligation to  provide all the relevant facts, including candidates for public  office.  When certain candidates and political parties are ignored or  dismissed by the mainstream media, it becomes even more important for  them to include such persons in their reporting.  Deny voters the  necessary information, and they cannot render fully informed decisions  at the polls.  This has the effect of disenfranchising voters because  those voters are limited in who they are allowed to vote for, and in  such circumstances the options are almost always limited to candidates  who represent the polar opposite of the public interest.

 I am not asking Greenwald or any other media personality to endorse  any candidates they don't wish to endorse.  Nor should they.  But if  Americans are to have any hope of using the electoral system to generate  real, substantive change for the better, they deserve to have all  candidates reported on objectively so that they may decide for  themselves who is "viable" and who isn't.

   

Mar 22 2012

Green Candidate Wins Primaries, Blasts Obama

Green Party* candidate Jill Stein, who ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2010, has taken the lead for her party’s nomination to run for president against dictator Barry Obama and whoever his Republican counterpart is this November.

According to Ballot Access News and other sources, Stein has won enough of the vote in various state primaries to qualify for matching funds.  She is competing for the Green Party nomination with Kent Mesplay and Roseanne Barr, the latter of whom she did a Skype session with to Greens across the country.

Stein has blasted Obama for his many betrayals.  She criticized his signing of the FAA Re-authorization bill, which further erodes unions, his overtures of war against Iran, his decision to support portions of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would cause further destruction to the environment and jeopardize human health and safety, his assaults on civil liberties including the “Defense” Authorization that allows American citizens to be imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial, his taking of single-payer and a public option off the table in favor of an insurance-industry-authored mandate to buy private coverage or face stiff tax penalties, and other far right policies embraced by the incumbent.

Stein’s alternatives to all these things and more reads like a leftist’s dream: a Green New Deal to create environment-friendly jobs, an energy policy dedicated to 100% conversion to clean, renewable sources, expanding Medicare to every American and generous funding of public education (including the forgiveness of student loan debt), protecting America’s Safety Net, and ending America’s imperial wars.

Stein does not appear to be on record so far as to prosecuting America’s war criminals, including Obama, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the thugs in their respective regimes guilty of war crimes, but I can’t imagine she would let them off the hook, since it would only reinforce the notion of total immunity for high-ranking lawbreakers – a travesty of justice.  (I’ll keep you apprised of this as I learn more.)

With many progressives determined to sit out this election, Stein’s candidacy appears to be offering a welcome alternative.

Nov 30 2011

The Obama Primary Challenge That Is

Salon.com’s news editor, Steve Kornacki, lamented yesterday that “Obama won’t face a credible primary challenge”, going on about how the closest thing to a liberal challenge he has comes from Republican candidate Buddy Roemer.  While it is true that many liberals aren’t seeing any “viable” candidates materialize on the left, Kornacki isn’t telling us why that is: the failure of supposedly liberal pundits to report on candidates who are actually running.

And therein lies the catch-22 bloggers like Kornacki can’t seem to escape from.  They complain about Obama, but they refuse to use the public voice they’ve been given to alter the political landscape.  Pundits influence public opinion simply by reporting on someone or something.  And they pass up opportunity after opportunity to do so when they fail to do their journalistic duty.

Because there is a Democrat trying to get himself on the ballot to challenge Obama from the left in next year’s primaries: Aldous Tyler is seeking the nomination to run for president as a liberal Democrat.  His platform hits all the right notes, including opposition to war, taxation of the wealthy, a sustainable energy policy, cleaning up the environment, and restoring and protecting the safety net, among other positions.  Tyler also favors heavily regulating Wall Street and corporations.

So why aren’t supposedly liberal bloggers and pundits giving Aldous Tyler any coverage?  Kornacki writes that “[t]he depths of liberal despair over his presidency are often overstated“, meaning that bitch as they might about Obama, far too many who claim to be liberal aren’t dissatisfied with his policies enough to want to be rid of him – and having so thoroughly bought into the Big Lie that Republicans are just so much worse than any Democrat no matter what the evidence disproving that notion, they fear that any challenge might weaken Obama to the point that the GOP nominee might manage to cheat his way to victory next year.

But it’s Obama’s fault that he is even in such a precarious political position in the first place.  Having made big promises only to cold-bloodedly refuse to even try to deliver on so much as one of them, and after literally adding insult to injury by dissing his party’s official base, it’s no wonder that his campaign is looking a lot more like Al Gore’s and John Kerry’s lackluster, doomed efforts than, say, Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election drive.  So coming out of a primary challenged beaten up and vulnerable isn’t exactly a legitimate excuse not to cover challengers, especially ones from the left of the political divide.

Isn’t it time to break the self-imposed media blackout on left-wing challenges to Obama?  If Democrats are truly fed up with him, and are seeking alternatives, it only makes sense for those blessed with public voices, such as Steve Kornacki, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, or Ed Schultz to use their gifts to report on people like Aldous Tyler.  The media might lament the lack of candidates, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  They only need to be reported on objectively, so voters can render their own decisions.

Apr 01 2011

What Is Morality?

In my previous two entries, I discussed why it is important for people who call themselves left-wingers to have a solid moral foundation.  To sum up, one cannot call one’s self a progressive or a liberal and support the extreme right-wing policies of those in government.  To support Obama’s continuation and expansion of Bush-Cheney fascist policies, whether directly or by refusing to challenge him electorally, or by simply remaining silent in the face of ongoing crimes and usurpation of Constitutionally delegated powers, is immoral.

But what is morality, and how should the American left apply it to politics?