Archive for August 9th, 2011

09
Aug
11

‘this is what democracy looks like’

John Nichols (The Nation): The Wisconsin recall elections that take place Tuesday provide one of the most remarkable accountability moments in modern American history. After Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his Republican allies used their control of the executive and legislative branches of state government to attack labor rights, local democracy, public education and basic services, mass demonstrations erupted across the state—culminating in an early-March protest outside the state Capitol that drew 150,000 people to one of the largest pro-labor demonstrations in American history.

Despite the protests, despite polls that showed broad opposition to the governor’s agenda, Walker’s legislative allies continued to advance their wrecking-crew agenda.

So the Wisconsin movement dusted off an old accountability tool developed during the era of Populist and Progressive reform in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: the recall. Wisconsin is one of nineteen American states that allow citizens to collect signatures on petitions and force sitting official to face a special election.

In Wisconsin, six of the Republican state senators who voted with Walker face recall elections on Tuesday. While the labor and community forces that organized the recall drives had little trouble collecting the tens of thousands of signatures needed to force the election, they faced unprecedented obstacles in getting to this point.

Terrified by the threat to his authority, Walker and his allies tried to thwart the recall drive with procedural, legal and electoral challenges—going so far as to file “fake” Democratic challengers, all of whom lost to real Democrats in July 12 primaries. Walker allies also launched recall drives against a half-dozen Democratic senators, on the theory that defeating Democrats might allow them to offset losses by Republicans. (Only three of the Republican petition drives attracted sufficient support to force recalls of Democrats; one of the targeted Democrats has already been re-elected, while two others face tests August 16.)

With the approach of Tuesday’s election, Walker’s allies in national movements to privatize public schools, undermine unions and create a pay-to-play politics that favors corporate interests over those of citizens and communities have pumped millions of dollars into local elections with an eye toward defeating the Democratic challenges…..

Full post here

09
Aug
11

respects

President Barack Obama, in the process of saluting, participates in a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base, Aug. 9, for the transfer of U.S. and Afghan personnel who died in Afghanistan on Aug. 6. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama is greeted by Col. Mark Camerer, the 436th Airlift Wing Commander upon his arrival at Dover Air Force Base

Washington Post: President Obama traveled to Dover Air Force Base on Tuesday to pay his respects to the 30 U.S. troops who were killed Saturday when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.

…. Obama was driven to a building on the base where about 250 family members and fellow servicemen and women of the fallen had gathered. He spent approximately 70 minutes in a large community room called The Landings, meeting informally with family members, offering his condolences for their loss and his gratitude for their sacrifice and service.

Other visitors in the room with family members included Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Admiral William McRaven, head of U.S. Special Operations Command..

…. After Obama met with the families, he and other members of the official party lined up on a red carpet to watch the cases containing he remains removed from the planes in a transfer ceremony, according to a Whiter House official accompanying the president. They saluted as the cases passed, carried by members of various military service branches….

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President Obama is seen inside Marine One helicopter during his arrival on the South Lawn of the White House after visiting Dover Air Force Base to pay tribute to the 30 U.S. troops killed over the weekend in Afghanistan.

09
Aug
11

the team

CBS: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to name Sen. Patty Murray of Washington as co-chair of the deficit reduction committee tasked with finding at least $1.2 in federal government savings by October, a Democratic aide tells CBS News.

The aide said Reid will also name Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts to the committee.

…. The committee will ultimately be made up of 12 members – three Senate Democrats, three Senate Republicans, three House Democrats and three House Republicans. The party leadership in each chamber appoints the members. The other co-chair of the committee will be named by House Speaker John Boehner.

All the members of the committee must be appointed by August 16, and the committee must hold its first meeting by September 16…..

09
Aug
11

‘if rick perry is a front-runner there’s something wrong with all of us’

Alex Pareene (Salon): Rick Perry is running for president, probably…..POLITICO, the arbiter of such things, declares Perry electable!

…. The Wall Street Journal sums up the Perry message: He is the things Republicans like about Michele Bachmann plus the things some human somewhere theoretically likes about Mitt Romney …. CBS News says Perry is an immediate front-runner because he’s more palatable than Bachmann…

The GOP “establishment” prefers this evangelical nitwit with fringe tendencies to that evangelical nitwit with fringe tendencies, sure. This Dominionist purposefully evoking some of the most radical far-right movements and ideas of the last 200 years is so much more electable than this other one!

I mean, Rick Perry may be a neo-Confederate sympathizer with a recurring tendency to bring up secession, but he doesn’t look as weird in a photograph as Bachmann does, I guess.

Perry’s flirtations with neo-Confederate organizations and symbols – ably documented by Justin Elliott – are so extraordinarily reprehensible that it should immediately and permanently disqualify him from being taken seriously for national office. The Confederacy was not a bunch of generally well-meaning dudes who went a little too far, it was a gang of racist traitors who launched a bloody war to defend a monstrously unjust institution. Having neo-Confederate sympathies in America should be equivalent to supporting the reconstituted Fascist party in Italy, or worse. It should not be considered something that 50 percent of the nation should be willing to look past, or even embrace.

And if that embracing happens it’ll be in part because of a press that won’t explicitly describe a disgusting sentimental attachment to a racist, brutal regime of oppression as anything other than an acceptable ploy to pick up Southern white support.

This, of course, is not even mentioning the time Rick Perry f**king killed an innocent person …. This is the new front-runner, the man who doesn’t care that he killed an innocent person. Whee!

Full article here

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Natasha Lennard (Salon): Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in stressing his opposition to “out of control Washington spending,” disagrees with federal subsidies to the agriculture industry. But this wasn’t always so. In fact, as a farmer himself, he embraced federal agriculture programs and personally benefited from farm subsidies to the tune of $80,000.

…. when Perry was running for the state’s agriculture commissioner position in 1990, he had strong words about the farm subsidies that had helped his 40 acre farm:

“I’ve participated in the program as a producer. My neighbors participate. I know what would happen to rural areas of Texas if these programs were discontinued. I do not support such an action,” Perry then said.

In the mid-1990s, however, Perry began to oppose the agriculture programs. Now he is firmly opposed even to federal support for using grain such as corn in the production of ethanol…

More here

09
Aug
11

‘public support for gop plummets’

Steve Benen: American voters clearly aren’t happy, and no one in Washington is winning any popularity contests, but support for the Republican Party is deteriorating at a surprising pace. A new CNN poll shows the GOP “had the upper hand” when it came to holding the debt ceiling hostage, but the party has “lost a lot of ground with the public” in the process.

A lot of that anger seems directed toward the GOP. According to the survey, favorable views of the Republican party dropped eight points over the past month, to 33 percent. Fifty-nine percent say they have an unfavorable view of the Republican party, an all-time high dating back to 1992 when the question was first asked.

The poll indicates that views of the Democratic party, by contrast, have remained fairly steady, with 47 percent saying they have a favorable view of the Democrats and an equal amount saying they hold an unfavorable view.

…. the Republican Party’s support is down to an embarrassing 33% — the lowest either party has seen in two decades of CNN polls.

There’s plenty of speculation about what the 2012 elections have in store, and whether President Obama can win given the larger headwinds. It’s worth remembering that it matters what voters think of the opposition party, and if the recent trends pick up, the much of the public might balk at the idea of handing a wildly-unpopular Republican Party control of the White House and Congress.

Full post here

09
Aug
11

tuesday

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The White House announced Tuesday morning that the President’s trip to Interstate Moving Services in Springfield, VA., where he was scheduled to talk about fuel efficiency, has been cancelled.

Instead, the President will “meet with industry officials at the White House to discuss the first of their kind fuel efficiency standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy duty vehicles,” the White House said.

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Eugene Robinson: 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.

…. What happened this summer is that Republicans in the House, using the Tea Party freshmen as a battering ram, threatened to compel a default. More accurately, they demanded big budget cuts as the price of raising the debt ceiling. If the Senate and President Obama did not comply, the Treasury’s access to capital through borrowing would have been cut off.

…. The ratings agency should have focused instead on the one development that has direct bearing on our creditworthiness: the GOP threat to force a default. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor should never have planned to use the debt ceiling vote as “leverage.” Obama should have made clear from the start that if necessary he would take unilateral action, based on the 14th Amendment, to ensure there could never be a default. And yes, progressive Democrats who voted against the final debt-ceiling bill should be ashamed.

It’s pretty simple: If you threaten not to pay your bills, people will — and should — take you seriously.

Full article here




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