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Laelth

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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Member since: Sat Oct 16, 2004, 02:36 PM
Number of posts: 21,350

Journal Archives

The Democratic Party is FINALLY (once again) a LIBERAL political party.

Having watched two nights of debates between twenty people who seek to represent our party as President of the United States, I must admit that I wept tears of joy seeing how far our party has come since I first began following politics in 1980 when James Earl Carter, Jr. was running against Ronald Reagan for the presidency. We are now (once again) a truly liberal party. For years I told people that I was a Democrat, but that I voted for democrats only because the other alternative was more abhorrent. Today, I do not feel that way. With only a couple of exceptions (whom I will not name), I would be proud to have any one of the people I just saw debate represent me as President of the United States. They are all liberal.

Here's what I heard:

(1) Kamala Harris described climate change as an existential threat to the planet and to the human race. Nobody disagreed.

(2) Several candidates discussed the need to do something about the humanitarian crisis that the Trump administration has created on our Mexican border. Nobody disagreed.

(3) Several candidates re-dedicated themselves, publicly, to the concept that all people are equal under the law. Nobody disagreed.

(4) A couple of candidates had plans to address the student loan debt crisis that has economically crippled two generations of Americans. While the various candidates who addressed this issue had different plans to deal with the problem, nobody disagreed that it was a serious problem that had to be addressed by the Federal Government.

(5) Nobody questioned the legitimacy of Roe v. Wade. We ARE the pro-choice party, and we are now universally pro-choice. This has not always been the case.

(6) Andrew Yang advocated a "trickle-up" economy. He would like to just "give money" to the people, directly from the Federal Government, to churn our economy. If the poorest among us have more money, they will spend it, and we will all become richer, he thinks. This makes sense to me, and while I don't see such a bill passing Congress in the near future, it's clear that the "trickle-down" economy that Republicans have been advocating for the past forty years has been a complete disaster. It has enriched the already-rich and further impoverished the already-poor. The point I want to make here, however, is that none of our candidates disagreed with Andrew Yang or even challenged him on his proposal. We are now, universally, as a party, the party of economic justice. Trust me. When I first encountered American politics in 1980, this was not the case. Our party has changed, and it has changed for the better.

(7) Bernie Sanders reminded us that if we are to achieve our goals we must have the courage and the strength to take on the moneyed interests in our country and fight for the people (and not just the rich ones). This is a tricky problem, but what I noticed, in particular, is that nobody disagreed with him or contradicted him on this subject.

(8) John Hickenlooper, perhaps the most conservative candidate on the stage, could point to the longest list of actual, real, liberal, legislative achievements of any candidate with whom he was debating--including the legalization of marijuana, and he is our most conservative candidate. Nobody argued against the legalization of marijuana or any of the other liberal achievements of John Hickenlooper while he was Governor.

(9) An utterly eloquent and obviously intelligent gay and married man was featured, center-stage, with the other party-heavyweights in the second debate (Biden and Sanders). Nobody had a problem with this, and I would vote for Mayor Pete in a heartbeat in a general election. Again, this is very different from the Democratic Party I first became involved with in 1980.

(10) On foreign policy, every single candidate on the stage--both nights--advocated for a strong global presence and expanded cooperation with our allies. All condemned wars of choice, and all condemned the Trump administration's coddling of dictators. There is not an isolationist among us. We are unified on this subject.

And that's my main point. I have never seen the Democratic Party so unified on so many issues. Everybody running for President agrees on almost all the important issues. The most severe intra-party conflicts in these debates centered on Joe Biden's long legislative record, but even Joe agrees with the party mainstream as it exists now. All Kamala Harris could do was ask Joe why he didn't agree with us 20 or 40 years ago. I say, who cares? He agrees with us now, and that is enough. I have never seen the party so unified.

And we are liberal--finally, and at last.

Please give me a k&r. Let us celebrate this day. I am astounded and amazed by what I have seen from the excellent people we have running for President in this cycle, and I am thrilled to have a unified, liberal party--at last.

Today, I am PROUD to be a Democrat.

-Laelth

Now we see an attempt to turn Democrats against Jay Inslee. WTF?

Dude, the more you pit Democrats against other Democrats--the more you attempt to turn us against one another--the more transparent you become. Jay Inslee is not a one issue candidate, and, even if he is, I suspect my children would appreciate his reminding the Democratic Party that climate change is the #1 threat to our entire species. Why attack him? Why bring this issue to our attention in the way you did in this OP? I have my suspicions about your motives, to be sure. After all, you and I have been reading one another's work (on multiple fora) for a long, long time.

Someone. Please alert on this post. I have had enough of MineralMan (one of the greatest concern trolls I have ever encountered on the internet), and I would be thrilled to have a jury consider this question. His latest OP, I posit, is a concern troll post, as is nearly everything else that MineralMan has ever posted on Democratic Underground.

So is this: https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1287&pid=145229

I could go on and on ...

-Laelth

This is why we should IMPEACH!

https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/28/politics/allan-lichtman-donald-trump-2020/index.html


"Democrats are fundamentally wrong about the politics of impeachment and their prospects for victory in 2020. An impeachment and subsequent trial would cost the president a crucial fourth key -- the scandal key -- just as it cost Democrats that key in 2000. The indictment and trial would also expose him to dropping another key by encouraging a serious challenge to his re-nomination. Other potential negative keys include the emergence of a charismatic Democratic challenger, a significant third-party challenge, a foreign policy disaster, or an election-year recession. Without impeachment, however, Democratic prospects are grim."


I say impeach NOW.

Recent history shows us that an impeached President is always followed by a President of the opposition party (Nixon/Ford—>Carter, Clinton—>Bush). Just impeach this monster and get it over with. I would much rather see our spectacular field of candidates talking about a positive vision for America than to keep investigating this scoundrel that currently occupies the Oval Office.

-Laelth

Just IMPEACH HIM already and get it over with.

There's plenty of evidence to support the impeachment of President Donald Trump AS IS. If you consider that one of the Articles of Impeachment against Richard Nixon was "lying to the American people," it's clear that Trump is utterly impeachable and that he becomes more impeachable every day. Add that to the ten counts of obstruction of justice that Robert Meuller described, and it's clear that we need no further investigations. I say, just get it done. Then it's Mitch McConnell's problem, and Democrats can say with a straight face that they did their Constitutional duty. Instead of talking about Trump, Democrats can then focus on the issues that matter to the American people. I suspect that Speaker Pelosi could punt this ball to the Senate (by passing Articles of Impeachment) within 30 days if she wanted to. I would much rather have the Senate responsible for resolving this mess than to continue to talk about Donald Trump's petulant, childish, and privileged criminality.

I hate seeing all these House committees focusing on investigating a person that the American people already know is a lying scoundrel. Just impeach him, already, and then get on with the business of the people. Whether or not Trump is convicted by the Senate is irrelevant. That should be Mitch McConnell's problem. I am sick and tired of talking about the President's criminality. I think it would be wise, strategically, to force the Republicans to talk about it instead. If we impeach Trump in the House (the only Constitutional power the Democratic Party currently has), then Democrats can be done with it all and focus on other issues that matter more to the American people.

-Laelth

Bernie Sanders is running for President. Everyone else ...

... in the field of Democratic candidates allegedly running for President are actually running for Vice-President, with one exception, and that's ...



For better or for worse, JOE BIDEN will, almost certainly, be our 2020 nominee, and, at this point, everyone else in the field is running for Vice President, with the notable exception of Bernie Sanders, as I mentioned, above.

Discuss.

-Laelth

Impeach ... NOW!

In his report, Robert Meuller handed us ten, separate counts of obstruction of justice and said, in effect, “If I could say that these were NOT criminal offenses, I would say so,” yet he refused to deny that these were criminal offenses. In other words, in Meuller’s opinion, at least ten of President Trump’s actions WERE criminal offenses, but because the Justice Department can not indict a sitting President, Meuller placed the matter squarely in the hands of the House of Representatives to proceed with Articles of Impeachment. Only Nancy Pelosi can make this call, and I will respect her decision on the subject, regardless, but I think that we should use the power that we have (control of the House) to impeach President Donald Trump. Here’s why:

1) We want to stand for the rule of law.
We have a President who has demonstrated, time and again, that he considers himself above the law. Allowing this philosophy of executive power to stand without challenge would make us complicit in the erosion of our democratic republic’s foundation—government by rule of law, as opposed to government by the whims and “divine inspiration” of the monarch (precisely what Trump perceives himself to be, just as any corporate CEO might imagine). I want my party to be on the right side of history on this subject. We have an opportunity to call out a gross display of “supreme executive power by divine right,” and I think that we have a duty to do so.

2) We need to punt the ball.
Currently, we have three committee chairs investigating these matters (Cummings, Nadler, and Schiff). My sense is that the American people are sick of talking about this. They generally concede that Trump is a scum-bucket, but they are more concerned about whether or not they can pay their bills next month. The more we investigate this matter, the more we play into Trump’s “witch hunt” narrative. So, I say IMPEACH, and do it quickly. Do it quickly, and then drop it, entirely. Make this Mitch McConnell’s problem. Let the Senate deal with it. Democrats will have done their Constitutional duty once the House of Representatives has impeached the President. We can then just abandon our investigations and start focusing on the things that matter to Americans—health care, student loan debt (Thank you, Elizabeth Warren.), climate change, and the increasing wealth gap in our society.

3) Impeachment improves our chances of taking control of the Senate in 2020.
I want all the Republican senators who are up for re-election in 2020 on the record, here. I want a YES or a NO from them on Trump’s guilt. If they say “YES,” they lose their base. We win. If they say “NO,” they lose credibility and lose the center because most Americans are convinced that Trump is, clearly, guilty as sin. Again, we win. This is why it is so important to pass Articles of Impeachment QUICKLY. McConnell can delay, and save his members an embarrassing vote, if Democrats delay the process by insisting upon further investigations. What Mueller has given us is PLENTY to proceed with Articles of Impeachment. If you recall that one of the Articles filed against Nixon was "lying to the American people," it is obvious that we have plenty of grounds to impeach President Trump ... NOW. No more investigation is needed.

4) There's very little down-side.
In the unlikely event that we end up with a President Pence, for a short time, the nation will be safer, and history indicates that Pence will not be elected President in 2020–just ask Gerald Ford and Al Gore. Again, we win.

It is indeed rare, in politics, when doing the right thing is highly likely to result in an excellent outcome with very little risk of a negative outcome, but I think that this is one of those occasions.

Speaker Pelosi, I implore you ...

Impeach ... NOW!

Yes, this is all about energy--Syria, Iraq, IS, and the President's Speech.

Yesterday, the President announced his intention to escalate our campaign against the Islamic State (IS) in both Syria and Iraq. The doves of DU, as we all should expect, are outraged. I've seen calls here for complete American isolation and American energy independence. I've also seen anguish over what appears to be a never-ending war against "terror" and expressions of horror that the United States is, once again, engaging in a war of choice against an alleged enemy that has done us no harm.

Frankly, I am sympathetic to all of these arguments, but the truth is rather more complex. This is all about energy, as many DU posters acknowledge and concede. Energy matters. Japan, which has no oil or natural gas resources of its own, gets 80% of its energy from the Middle East. Our allies in Western Europe (the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and a lot of other countries) lack sufficient energy reserves of their own to sustain their energy consumption. The United States, for better or for worse, has become the guarantor of the free flow of energy from the Middle East to our allies. We can not fail in this task, for, if we do, our allies' economies will crumble, and our own economy is so intertwined with that of our allies that if we were to allow Russia (the bogeyman, here) to control the price of energy flowing to our allies, our own economy would suffer, and it would suffer dramatically. We insure the free flow of oil and natural gas out of the Middle East. In exchange, the world has agreed to allow energy to be traded in our currency, USD, and this has made us rich and powerful. We must resist any attempt by any nation or power who proposes to trade energy in any other currency. Our ability to fund our national debt is directly tied to the world's trading energy in USD. It would be very stupid for us to become isolationists and only worry about our own energy needs in this environment (as the President fully understands).

So, we must stay involved in the Middle East, and we must insure the flow of energy to our allies. We continue to do so. That's what the conflicts in both the Ukraine and Syria are all about. We initially supported the overthrow of Syria's Assad regime for this very reason. Our European allies asked us to facilitate a pipeline from Northern Iraq (through Syria) to the Mediterranean, so as to relieve the pressure of the Russian monopoly on natural gas flowing to Western Europe. We wanted to oblige, and we began preparing to topple Assad's regime (a Russian and Iranian surrogate state) in order to relieve that pressure and allow the needed pipeline. We probably encouraged Saudi Arabia to support IS for this purpose. Then something strange happened. Cameron, the UK's Prime Minister, took the issue to Parliament, asking Parliament to back a war in Syria against Assad's regime, and the UK's Parliament bucked him. They refused to authorize war, and President Obama was left holding the bag. He backed off from war against Syria, and we did not escalate. In the end, I think this was a good thing, but it embarrassed Obama, and it did not resolve the central problem--Russia's monopoly on energy sales to Western Europe.

Then we chose another route. We pushed for an independent Kurdistan, and we convinced Turkey to allow a pipeline through their country to move energy from Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq to the Mediterranean. This has worked. The envisioned pipeline is up and working and Europe now has access to Middle-Eastern energy through Turkey. I don't know what we promised the Turks in order to get this concession (probably our refusal to support a populist revolt against Turkey's current regime), but at this point in time even Israel is backing an independent Kurdish state, and the United States is also doing so (in private, at least). Note that when Israel makes a move in the Middle East, it's almost certain that whatever they are doing has the full backing of the government of the United States.

We should all acknowledge that the current conflict in Ukraine is about the same underlying issue (Russia's monopoly on the flow of natural gas to Western Europe). There our initial strategy also failed. We backed a right-wing coup in Ukraine to release the pressure on Russia's energy monopoly (significant natural gas flows through Ukraine to Western Europe), and we have almost created WWIII as a result. The Ukranian conflict has yet to be resolved. I give the President credit for not engaging us in the war in Ukraine (yet), but this conflict could escalate and require our involvement (Goddess forbid). Nevertheless, the Ukraine conflict has now taken a back seat (and we have not become more involved) because the Kurds are now shipping energy resources to Europe though Turkey. Russia's monopoly has been broken, and our allies are pleased about that.

As it stands, we don't need Syria for our pipeline. Turkey is taking care of that for us--so long as we maintain an independent Kurdistan, and that's what the current action against IS is about. IS was threatening the Kurds (they even captured a major dam in Kurdish territory), but IS has been driven away from the dam and is now retreating. SA and its gulf-state allies have withdrawn their support for IS. Now, IS has no rich backers. They have limited funds and are in retreat on all fronts. IS is not a threat to the U.S.

But we're still going to engage in limited military action against them. Why? Because IS has no allies left, and because the drums of war are beating. In order to fend off the constant charge that Democrats are "weak on defense," the President must do something (if for no other reason than to protect our electoral interests in the 2014 mid-terms). We can't look soft. We have to look strong, and the President has decided to project that image.

Can you blame him? Can you blame any politician in a republic or constitutional monarchy for insuring that the price of energy is low? If you were the head of a nation, and you allowed energy prices to double in your country, what would you think would happen? Most likely, you and your party would get voted out of power and you might not see power again in your nation for a generation. European politicians are deeply concerned about Russia's energy monopoly. We, their ally, have tried to help them escape this monopoly. That's what this is all about.

I don't like the fact that it's so easy to gin up support for war in the United States, but I give the President credit for doing something (if only to protect Democrats who are running for office in 2014), while at the same time circumventing Russia's energy monopoly and keeping the United States out of any full-scale, troops-on-the-ground war over this issue.

-Laelth

Who will help the Kurds?

Now that President Obama has launched a program of humanitarian aid for the Kurds and has authorized limited offensive air strikes against IS, DU has erupted in debate along very familiar lines. Some support the President's decision and the course of action he is taking. Others abhor his decision to risk involving the United States in yet another war in the Middle East.

A recent DU thread asks whether we are "ready" for another war in the Middle East, and I think it's author is right to caution us that "limited" assistance to the Kurds could very well spiral into full-scale war (as we learned from Vietnam). That's a very real risk, and well-meaning people on DU are worried about that prospect. Some of them argue (in typically isolationist terms) that the Kurds are not our problem. Some even go so far as to argue that the Middle East is not our problem (even though they know that Japan, for example, which has practically no oil reserves of its own, gets most of its oil from the Middle East).

This isolationist/pacifist bent among my well-meaning peers at DU is what prompted this thread. To those people who rightly fear another pointless war I ask, who will help the Kurds (who are being attacked, brutally, by IS)? One person suggested that Turkey should help. Iran, which also has a substantial Kurdish population could help, if they were so inclined. The point of this thread is to suggest that nobody wants to help the Kurds. If the United States doesn't do it, nobody will.

Consider the following map:



The Turks do not want an independent Kurdistan. They're probably secretly pleased that IS is attacking the Kurds and forestalling their ambition to establish an independent state. The Turks, for their part, are intent upon keeping their Kurds and their Kurd-inhabited lands (which are rich in mineral resources). It's unlikely that the Turks will help the Kurds, and Turkey is a NATO ally, so we have to consider their interests very carefully whenever we make decisions that impact the region.

The Iranians do not want an independent Kurdistan. As such, they are unlikely to aid the Kurds and are, most likely, secretly pleased that IS is attacking the Kurds. Iran doesn't want to lose territory to an independent Kurdistan, so they are unlikely to aid the Kurds in their fight against IS.

As such, it appears to me that the only state on Earth that has both the power and the will to aid the Kurds is the United States. President Obama agreed to provide humanitarian aid and limited military strikes for this reason. We created this mess in Iraq with a disastrous decision to go to war in 2003. The people of Iraq were much better off under Saddam Hussein, as most sane people can see in retrospect, but because we created this mess, I feel we have a continuing duty to ameliorate the damage that we caused, and that's what I think the President is doing now.

Will this action lead us to full-scale war? Perhaps. Note that ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) no longer exists. Neither does ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). They have both been superseded by IS (The Islamic State) led by a Caliph to whom, supposedly, all Muslims owe allegiance. IS is an existential threat to peace and security throughout the Muslim world. We will have to deal with them sooner or later. For the time being, however, President Obama has decided to aid the Kurds--quite specifically and in a very limited way. Because no other nation has the ability and the willingness to do so, I think he made the right call. Personally, I'd rather deal with IS now, in its infancy, before it grows into a greater menace.

For the time being, however, I ask DU this question: if we don't help the Kurds, who will? Perhaps nobody, and this is a key factor that President Obama considered in making the decision to engage, once again, in this volatile region.

-Laelth



20K

For my twenty-thousandth post I just want to say that I am only slightly embarrassed by the magnitude of posts I have so-far recorded on DU. 20K posts in just under ten years, i.e. @2K posts/year, isn't too obsessive ... is it?



In any event, thanks to DU's admins, moderators, volunteers, and jurors for letting me hang around for so long. I have enjoyed my DU experience, and I intend to continue to do so. Thank you all (the entire DU community) for making this a great place to stay informed and to discuss ideas with allies and intelligent, like-minded people.



-Laelth

"What shall we do now?" (re. the UCSB shootings)

Michael Moore responded to the UCSB shootings in a Facebook post (quoted here) with his usual argument about the need for better gun control. Accidentally, perhaps, he hit upon what I see as the underlying issue that demands our attention when he said this:

Nearly all of our mass shootings are by angry or disturbed white males. None of them are committed by the majority gender, women. Hmmm, why is that?


Moore asks the right question, but then drops it like a hot potato, preferring, instead, to focus on the guns. I see this whole mess as a gender issue--as a backlash against the enormous gains in power that women have made over the past century. I see our obsession with guns as a lame and futile attempt to re-assert some kind of "masculine" power. I see the success of right-wing parties in Europe as a product of the same backlash. In fact, I see the political success of the modern Republican Party as a result of the same, underlying issue. How else can we explain why so many people vote against their best interests?

Strangely enough, this topic is hardly ever addressed on DU (as I noted here). Perhaps it is too frightening for us to rationally grasp and consider. Many years ago, I taught an upper-level, college rhetoric course in which we focused on Pink Floyd's 1982 film, The Wall, for a few weeks. It was a transformative experience for me. The following short clip from that movie is illustrative. If you haven't seen the movie, I'd recommend you do so if you have any interest in gender studies. Just take a look at this short segment from the movie (and try to pay attention to the lyrics):



As hideous and shocking as that imagery may be, I think it explains a great deal about the world as we know it today. What to do about this is another question altogether, but I strongly feel that we should talk and think about the dramatic changes in our gender roles and sexual dynamics over the course of the past century.

-Laelth
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