4 days to go: We progressives say Republicans are heartless because it’s TRUE!

The next time someone tells me there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans, I swear I’ll kick ‘em in the shins.

No, I won’t. I’m incredibly non-violent. But I’ll have to advise you, you’re an ignorant clown, because there is nothing else to call that claim. Neither party is perfect, of course, but good lord! The SAME? If the Democratic Party has a problem, it’s that they pander to everyone who’s not a rich white man. They do give a damn what Americans think about them.

On the other hand, the current incarnation of the Republican Party doesn’t give a shit what you think about anything, unless you have a billion dollars.

Need evidence?

  • Not one Republican voted for the stimulus package in 2009, which inarguably kept us out of a depression.
  • Not one Republican voted for health care reform, and not one Republican proposed an alternative that would have changed the status quo significantly.
  • Not one Republican Senator voted to allow Wall Street reform to make it to the Senate floor, right after Wall Street caused the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression.
  • Not only Republican voted for a reform bill that would have required banks to inform you when they were gambling with your money.
  • Republicans have killed at least a dozen jobs bills. They even blocked on bill earlier this year that would have killed an outsourcing tax credit, and may have brought hundreds of thousands of jobs back to the United States.
  • Republican budget cuts have put nearly a million government workers on the unemployment line. DURING A RECESSION AND RECOVERY.
  • Republicans have voted for at least two budgets that would have killed Medicare, and replaced it with a voucher plan.
  • Republicans won’t allow consideration of a bill that would require anyone who wants to buy a gun to undergo a background check. This, even though more than 90 percent of the American people think it’s a good idea.
  • Republican blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would give women a shot at equal pay for equal work. Both times, it had enough votes to pass under normal circumstances.
  • Not one Republican voted for the Lily Ledbetter Act, which allowed women to sue for pay discrimination
  • Not one Republican voted for the anti-rape amendment.
  • Republicans blocked a bill that would have provided first responders with greater health care coverage for illnesses they contracted on 9/11.
  • Last month, Republicans blocked a vote on a $21 billion bill to expand Veterans benefits, and then turned around and blamed Democrats for the failure. It was the seventh such bill they have blocked.
  • One veterans bill they blocked would have provided additional help to homeless veterans.
  • Republicans complain about Benghazi, but they’re the ones who cut millions from the State Department security budget, and it is believed those cuts were a major reason for the relatively lax security in Libya.
  • Republicans whine constantly about immigration, but not one of them has taken the lead in passing any sort of meaningful immigration reform.
  • Republicans blocked the DREAM Act, which would have created a path to citizenship for those immigrants who have been here since they were small children.
  • Republicans not only won’t entertain an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, they won’t even offer a compromise amount that’s higher than $7.25 per hour.
  • Republicans have made deep cuts in SNAP/Food Stamps, school lunch programs, Head Start and a number of other programs for the poor, just to protect low tax rates on billionaires.
  • Republicans have voted 55 times to kill health insurance reform.
  • Republicans shut down the government for half a month in a vain attempt to kill health insurance reform.
  • Republicans complained when the Student loan system was moved under the federal umbrella, but then proceeded to double interest rates.
  • Republicans blocked an extension of unemployment insurance, which workers actually pay for.
  • Republicans blocked the Farm Bill for a long time, and the bill that passed helped corporate farmers greatly, while screwing the poor.
  • Twice, Republicans have blocked bills that would have required disclosure of the source of all political ads.
  • And, of course, 144 Republicans in the House voted to default on the national debt, which could possibly have caused you to lose all of the money you just got back into your retirement account.

The same? Hardly. Democrats care about you, and Republicans couldn’t care less for you. That’s a BIG difference.

5 to go: 3rd party votes are politically stupid, and midterms are NOT less important

As I keep saying, idealism is wonderful… in moderation. But while it should inform your stance on the issues, it should not infect your politics. Note the difference between issues and politics. They are not the same; they are very different. Issues are the things we claim to care about, while politics consists of the strategies you use to get there.

One of the worst aspects of idealist thought comes with the notion of “third parties.” Somehow, a number of progressives have decided that it is politically possible to ignore the two major parties and set up a third alternative, which they can then vote for and feel better about themselves.

Unfortunately, as a practical matter, your choice is limited to creating a second party to replace one of the existing parties, not putting a third out there. And that party has to start with school board and mayoral races, not president and Congress. More practical would be to infiltrate an established party and push it left. It’s pure fantasy to imagine that you can create a third alternative and win an election in a winner-take-all system.

Let’s be clear; in every election, the Republican base will vote for their candidates at a rate of at least 80 percent, and often more than 90 percent. Do some math; Republicans make up about 24 percent of the electorate, which means if 90 percent of them show up, that’s 21.6 percent of voters. Since the dawn of the neocon era, turnout in midterms is usually around 37-38 percent. That gives Republicans a built-in advantage, unless we can get turnout up. Even if “only” 80 percent of Republicans turn out, that’s still 19.2 percent, which is tough to beat when turnout is only 37 percent.

It’s just like everything else in politics, if you want to follow your ideals, you have to win elections. You will NEVER get campaign finance reform, election reform, a public option, a better student financial aid system, a living wage, or any of the good stuff we claim would save the country if we can’t get the party of idiots out of power. That means increasing voter turnout, by encouraging people to vote, by making them realize their vote is enormously important and that Democrats can make their lives better. Can we guarantee they’ll do everything we want? Of course not. But I can absolutely guarantee we’ll get nothing we want as long as Republicans are n charge.

If you really want an alternative to the two major parties, then you will have to get turnout up so high that the Republican bloc of votes won’t have a chance. You’re sure as hell NEVER going to get a viable third party as long as 37 percent of voters show up. You would have to get turnout up to at least 60 percent plus for midterms to even have a shot, and ALL of those extra voters would have to vote your way. We haven’t done the work necessary to accomplish anything close to that to date. In fact, for 40 years, Democrats have only controlled the government twice, for two years each, precisely because we figure out a way to win the presidency, but we’ve largely given up on winning midterms, which is ridiculous. If you just give up and simply assume that no one will show up every other election cycle, you’re essentially ceding the electorate to the GOP, and how progressive is that, really?

Where did this notion come from that, somehow, national presidential elections are simply more important than midterms? That is just ridiculous.  Of course, why wouldn’t they think that way? The “media,” the professional left and political junkies all have a tendency to blow off midterms in favor of speculation about who might run for president two years hence. Check your Facebook feed and your Twitter timeline. Check out how many have been sporting “Hillary 2016″ on their profile and feed, and have been for most of the year. What the hell difference does it make who might win the next presidential election, if you can’t give her a House majority and Senate supermajority? While you “idealists” are fiddling and farting around with trying to find the “perfect” Democratic candidates, by blowing off a House majority and possibly giving away the Senate majority this year, you are actually makingi it next to impossible for the next president to do anything progressive.

Forget the fact that speculation is not news and is almost always wrong two years out. The same number of fedeal offices are up for election every midterm as are up in presidential years, except one (and one Senator every six years). And while who becomes president is somewhat important, just as important is the makeup of the Congress that president will have to work with.

You know who doesn’t think that way? Republicans. Their base treats every election as important, and they will faithfully vote for anyone representing their party and ideology. And because many so-called “progressives” and others simply don’t take the electoral system seriously, Republicans keep winning. Think about it. In 17 election cycles, Democrats (who are the best viable candidates we have) have been in control of the government twice, for one cycle each time. We won great victories in 1992 and 2008, and in 1994 and 2010, we blew the momentum, and handed the reins to an ever-radicalized Republican Party.

You can’t build a progressive government if you’re only going to try to win every other time. You have to do what’s necessary to win every single time. You can’t blow off midterms and expect to have a government that does progressive things. You have to build momentum, and you have to build to a majority and then a supermajority. Unless you have a supermajority, it makes absolutely no political sense to attack Blue Dogs. Once you have 300 seats in the House and 68-70 in the Senate, then you can start picking off (some) Democrats who are “too conservative.” When you go after them when they’re in the minority, you’re just cutting off your nose to spite your face. And handing the reins of government to the bad guys.

Democrats are the best of the two viable parties, without a doubt. Every vote that isn’t cast for a Democrat makes a GOP win all the more likely, and that includes a third-party vote in almost all cases. There are a few exceptions, but very few.

Play politics smarter. You have to push midterms as hard as you push presidential elections, and we need to build Democratic momentum. There is no choice. Politics is a process, and there are no shortcuts.

6 days to go: A Plea to moderates thinking about voting GOP

While it’s true that this election will turn on how many people turn out at the polls, most races will be close enough that a few votes in one direction or another could make a huge difference. It is with that in mind that I want to direct this post to moderate voters who are thinking of voting for a Republican.

If you consider yourself to be a moderate voter, and you’re thinking of voting for any Republican this year, you really should reconsider. There are few of our political ills that can’t be traced directly to the current incarnation of the Republican Party.  You can’t possibly have really looked at the GOP’s recent record in making your choice, because their record is absolutely wretched. They look clean-cut and they look like nice people, but they’re not. They have demonstrated that they don’t care about the American people at all; they only care about winning. If you consider yourself a person with a conscience, re-think your decision.

Consider the country’s level of debt, which they pretend to obsess about, albeit only when Democrats are in the White House. But the reason the deficit and debt are so huge is because of them. We had a balanced budget before Bush was selected by the Republican Supreme Court, and no one was complaining about their tax bill. But Bush, Jr. cut taxes for the very rich, started two wars without paying for them, and exploded the deficit, even before he broke the economy and made it even worse. Even when Republicans “fixed” Medicare, they did so without paying for the fix, and it took Democrats to fix that. Continue reading

7 (one week) to go: Lists of Things Democrats and Republicans Have Done: The Same, My Ass!

It doesn’t get much simpler than this:

A list of things Democrats have done:

  • Social Security. They have also twice taken the Social Security Trust Fund out of the general budget.
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • The Affordable Care Act
  • The EPA and significant environmental regulation
  • Regulated stock markets and banned trade fraud
  • Bank regulation designed to prevent collapses
  • Bank Deposit insurance, paid for by banks
  • Passed legislation requiring banks to pay back bailout money.
  • The GI Bill
  • Student Financial Aid
  • Took student loans away from the banks.
  • The Occupational Safety & Health Act
  • Trade regulation that makes sure domestic and imported products are safe.
  • Regular food inspections for foodborne illness and monitoring of safe processing practices
  • The CDC and disease monitoring
  • Banned certain types of military-style weapons
  • Proposed a law requiring universal background checks on gun purchases
  • The minimum wage
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Food Stamps
  • Welfare for the poor.
  • School lunch programs
  • Raised tax rates on the rich to pay for things, and tax breaks had to fuel economic growth.
  • Balanced the budget
  • Raised the debt ceiling whenever necessary to keep the government functioning, and always paid the bills.

A list of things Republicans have done or tried to do:

  • Have repeatedly tried to kill Social Security and have repeatedly pushed the Trust Fund into the general budget, so that they could attempt to hide some of the deficits they created.
  • Cut taxes to the bone for those with the most money, while raising taxes for everyone else.
  • Tried to replace Medicare with a voucher program.
  • Repeatedly cut Medicaid.
  • State Republicans refused to take Medicaid money to expand health coverage.
  • Voted 55 times (so far) to kill the Affordable Care Act, with no plan to replace it. Zero votes for the ACA in the first place.
  • Repeatedly killed environmental regulations, in favor of unfettered fossil fuel development.
  • Put us behind the rest of the world by killing federally funded solar, wind and geothermal programs.
  • Passed Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which repealed Glass-Steagall and created a completely unregulated market for mortgage securities that almost caused another Great Depression.
  • Passed regulations that caused the Great Depression.
  • Approved a bank bailout plan with no requirements for payback.
  • Have repeatedly cut funds for student financial aid, creating an over-reliance on federally -guaranteed student loans, which amounted to a windfall for banks.
  • Increased student loan interest rather than raise taxes on the rich.
  • Have repeatedly cut funding for OSHA enforcement.
  • Have repeatedly cut funding for the FTC, making domestic and imported products less safe.
  • Have repeatedly cut funding for food inspection programs, causing the number of foodborne illnesses to spike in recent years.
  • Severely cut funding for the CDC and disease monitoring, leading to an Ebola outbreak and no vaccine to stem it.
  • Let the ban on military-style weapons expire.
  • Refused to even consider a universal background check law for gun purchases.
  • Refuse to even consider raising the minimum wage, which has fallen well behind inflation. Numerous Republicans have even suggested eliminating it altogether.
  • Cut off Unemployment Insurance (which workers pay for) for millions, during recovery from a recession they caused..
  • Cut funding for Food Stamps (SNAP) during an economic recovery.
  • Have repeatedly cut funding for welfare for the poor, even during a recovery from a recession.
  • Have repeatedly cut funding for school lunch programs.
  • Were handed a balanced budget, and between cutting taxes to the bone for the rich and spending massive amounts of money on two wars off-the-books, exploded it again.
  • Increased the debt from $900 billion in 1981 to $17 trillion this year through reckless spending and massive revenue cuts.
  • Shut down the government twice.
  • 144 of them voted to default on the national debt.

Seriously, look at the record. And some people will still contend that both parties are largely the same. That’s just nuts.

8 days to go: The number one reason no one should vote Republican this year…

There is really only one fact that voters need to know when it comes to deciding how important it is to vote, and vote for Democrats:

In October 2013, 144 House Republicans voted to default on the national debt.

The number one reason we even have to deal with teabaggers is because we are ill-served by a news media populated by people who think the definition of “objective journalism” requires one to present all sides of any argument, regardless of how stupid and uninformed the opinion is. There is one issue above all others on which this tendency is apparent, and that issue is the debt ceiling.

The debt ceiling is not important. Keeping our credit rating intact is so mportant, it was memorialized in the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. The debt ceiling is an artificial barrier Congress put in place many years ago in order to pretend they were being responsible with our money. It is technically illegal for the United States to borrow more than the debt ceiling allows, but only if you believe an arbitrary law is more important than the Constitution. But, in order to make themselves seem responsible, Congress votes to raise the debt ceiling to a number a bit higher than the projected deficit, thus “allowing” the government to borrow money at will up to the new limit. Continue reading

9 to go: Jobs is the #1 issue, and GOP has failed!

By now, given the prevalence of campaign ads on television and the Internet, you have probably heard the claim that Republicans in the House passed many jobs bills that Democrats in the Senate have simply ignored. According to John Boehner, it’s “more than 40.” According to other Republicans, it’s the always nebulous “dozens” of jobs bills. What you need to know is, both characterizations are just plain crap, and I’m here to cut it. The fact is, Democrats in Congress and the President are the only ones who have passed large jobs bills, and it has been Republicans who have killed them.

For example, The White House has submitted two huge bills to Congress, each of which would have put millions to work rebuilding our decaying infrastructure, and both times, Boehner essentially ignored them. And then, there are the highway bills, which would have created jobs for a million or so more, but which Republicans slashed mightily and actually tried to kill, before the public uproar made them reconsider. Not only that, but the constant budget cuts and the sequester resulted in states having to slash their budgets, leading to the loss of nearly 1 million jobs in the public sector. Continue reading

10 to go: “Putting aside the Democratic Party” is why we lose

I’ve been inundated with tons of stories extolling the virtues of Bernie Sanders as a presidential candidate in 2016. To their credit, most at least acknowledge that Sanders has no chance of ever actually becoming president. They envision his candidacy as one that would shake up the race and get candidates to talk about issues they don’t normally talk about. Unfortunately, most of these stories contains an element that is very disturbing. They envision Sanders running as an independent, or as a third-party candidate. Too often, these stories include a phrase similar to “putting aside the Democratic Party,” and imagines the establishment of a viable third party.

I’ve seen at least three stories this week. That means, with less than two weeks to go before an election Democrats have to win, prominent progressives are ignoring the 2014 election, which Democrats have to win. Even worse, they’re sowing the seeds for screwing up the 2016 election, as well.

We really need to focus on understanding two basic concepts:

1. We’re not getting anything progressive done as long as we have a Republican majority in Congress.

2. There is no “putting aside the Democratic Party,” if we ever hope to gain a foothold in, and actually running the government.

First of all, it’s a week and a half before an election that we have to win. And by “we” I mean the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is not an enemy of progressives. In fact, the vast majority of progressives are Democrats. Continue reading

With Ebola, GOP scares people into staying home. Press helps.

There is no greater example of the national press absolutely dropping the ball on coverage of a story than the current Ebola panic of 2014.

Keep in mind, the number one strategy of the Republican Party is to drive down turnout. And the most efficient way to drive down turnout is to make people afraid of the future and distrustful of their government. Republicans don’t care about their base; they know those wackos will turn out in large numbers, no matter what they do or don’t do. They want to keep non-Republicans from showing up at the polls in any great numbers. That’s why Ebola seem so scary, even though there have been fewer than a half-dozen cases and only one death in a country of 310 million people.

But modern-day journalists don’t do their job. Perhaps unwittingly, they actually assist the Republican Party in dispensing their fear mongering and making people think their government is too incompetent to protect them, even though in this case that’s exactly what they did. Here are the facts. A man went to a private hospital for treatment, was diagnosed with Ebola and was allowed to potentially affect a couple dozen other people. A private hospital. it was and then Obamacare hospital, as I heard it described at least once. It was a private for-profit hospital. once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was notified, the disease was contained. Well, except for once, when a licensed medical professional who works for NBC News left quarantine to go get soup, and then proceeded to blame it on her “crew.” But I might remind the folks in the media that Nancy Snyderman also does not work for the government, and does not work for the Obama administration. Continue reading

12 to go: The odious Professional Left, Part 2

As I said in Part One, I am a proud Obamabot. He’s done a hell of a job, and he’s snookered Republicans repeatedly at every turn. If you don’t realize that, you spend way too much time with your face buried in those professional left blogs. Yeah, this is part two of yesterday’s column, because, while I may publish a book on this someday, I won’t bore you by putting the entire thing into one blog post.

I’ve been a progressive all my life. Everyone in my family worked in union shops, and I grew up in Maryland, one of the most progressive states in the union. I’ve worked for progressive candidates since I was 14, and while my views have always evolved, they have always been on the left side of the aisle. I want the same things every progressive wants. I am an idealist, just like every progressive says they are. I want peace, an end to war and poverty, and I want us to get off oil and to rely on renewable energy sources. We have to at least try to reverse climate change, or at least learn to live with it and not make it worse. On every issue, on an ideal level, there is little difference between me and the leftiest lefty that ever existed.

There is one major difference, though. I’m practical. Some say “pragmatic.” I prefer realistic. And when I say “realistic,” I don’t mean that alternate reality in which all 310 million Americans crush their internal combustion engine vehicles and switch to electric cars overnight. I also know that all gas stations will not be converted to electric charging stations in a week. I don’t mean a “realism” in which I think marching and protest will bring us all of the progressive policies we want. We also have to get rid of as many Republicans as possible. I’m talking about real realism; the kind in which progressives make up perhaps 15 percent of the population or so. The one in whch we have no choice but to align ourselves with others who are not so “progressive,” so that we can turn this into a progressive society. Continue reading

13 to go: The odious Professional Left, Part 1

Hey! Did you know I’m apparently an “Obamabot”? It’s supposed to be an insult; the label has been bestowed upon me many times by professional lefties and PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade). I have to tell you, though, I’m in good company. Some of the smartest people I know are “Obamabots.” Why wouldn’t they be? Look at everything he’s done, despite unprecedented obstruction, and compare it to the people who constantly whine about him.

For the record, I don’t agree with President Obama on absolutely everything, and never have. But I do trust him, and trust that he has the country’s best interests at heart when he embarks on anything. He’s level-headed and smart, and he has more information than the rest of us on most situations, so I understand that one reason we may disagree is because he has more information than I do. And so far, there have been no disasters, so my instincts about Obama seem to be right on. Except for Benghazi, there have been no terrible events, and the country is progressing. Could it be progressing more quickly? Of course. But you can look to the GOP House if you really have to blame someone for the slow pace of economic recovery. 

I’m proud to be an “Obamabot,” because he’s actually done a stellar job. Unfortunately, the professional left (meaning those bloggers and other lefty media types who make a living peddling their “liberal” opinions) seems to be all too happy helping the Republican Right Wing keep on winning elections, and preventing any more progress than the President can eke out on his own. It seems as if every GOP attack ad talks about “Obama’s failed policies.” However, you’ll note that none of those ads articulates what those “failed policies” are. They don’t have to, because the professional left has always been more than willing to articulate them for everyone. Here, we have the most potentially progressive president in a generation or more, and the most vocally “progressive” side of the aisle is more than willing and able to point up all of his faults. In doing so, they offer an able assist to the GOP in their ultimate goal, which is to depress turnout, and make their “base” votes count more.  Continue reading