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Grayson’s ‘Just War' of Words proves he's got something to say

Click here for Phillippi response and update --> http://thefloridasqueeze.com/2015/05/30/graysons-just-war-of-words-proves-hes-got-something-to-say/comment-page-1/#comment-37030


Clutch your pearls and hover over your favorite fainting couch. It’s primary season, so if you don’t already have one, here’s a link to DIY your own Fainting Couch and Toddler Bed. Build yours this weekend, because with 17 months until the election this baby is apt to see some action.

Check out this couch fainter of an email circulated by (FL Governor hopeful) Nan Rich’s former Data Director Sean Phillippi. In the email that that some are calling spam, Phillippi says he’s a “proud member of the Progressive Caucus,” and launches into a "concerned Democrat" tirade against Alan Grayson, the presumed primary impediment to lifelong Republican Patrick Murphy’s entitled bid for Marco Rubio’s open Senate seat. It's published here at the Squeeze at Phillippi's request.

You have to wonder whether people who know Phillippi knew they’d be targeted for unsolicited messaging on behalf of conserva-Dem Patrick Murphy from the progressive Governor Nan Rich’s former Data Director. In one email chain shared with me, a lucky recipient of this bonus messaging complains that he didn’t sign-up for Murphy campaign propaganda. Phillippi responded in part by saying he knows Murphy “very well” because he "worked with him since he first started running for office in early 2011,” which raises the uncomfortable question of whether the Murphy campaign asked for access to Nan Rich's supporter database.

And this isn’t Phillippi’s first swipe at Grayson. A previous attack piece featured the bizarre claim that Grayson couldn’t win African American votes in a statewide race. Now Phillippi would like you to believe that Grayson presents a threat to the entire Democratic Party. The apocalyptic prophecy states that “in a fractious primary” Alan Grayson’s language is too colorful, and his divorce so overly divorce-y, that should he run for Senate he’d “be a serious anchor to Democrats nationwide in 2016, and cause grief for our Presidential nominee at the top of the ticket.” It might be worth the eye-rolling to be in on this spam list for pure entertainment, because really where else are your going get this level of political forecasting and unwitting satire?

My all-time favorite among these nuggets of apocalyptica might be the complaints about Grayson’s comparison of the Tea Party to the KKK, referring to the fringe-right Tea Party as “the home of bigotry and discrimination in America today, just as the KKK was for an earlier generation.”

Here's a fuller context of Grayson's comparison: “....when the President visited my home of Orlando, Tea Party protesters shouted “Kenyan Go Home,”....[with] posters saying “Obama’s Plan: White Slavery,” “Imam Obama Wants to Ban Pork” and “The Zoo Has An African Lion, and the White House Has a Lyin’ African."

That sort of over-the-top racist rhetoric had been heating up for months before Grayson called it out. When was anyone going to put their foot down? This rhetoric has an inherent subtext of violence. In whose reality is it appropriate to let that stand unchallenged? Are we all supposed to just “take it” and wait for shots to ring out? How is that a liberal Democrat calling out thinly veiled dogwhistles rooted in a history of racial contempt and real violence for being exactly what they are is intemperate, while the racist bile itself is apparently to written off as some kind of "boys will be boys" tomfoolery and let go?

Grayson continued: “Members of the Tea Party have circulated countless altered pictures depicting President Obama and the First Lady as monkeys. Tea Party members also called my fellow Member of Congress, civil rights hero John Lewis, a “n***ger,” and Rep. Barney Frank a “faggot.”...Tea Party Members of Congress have referred to Hispanics as “wetbacks,” and having “cantaloupe-sized calves” from picking fruit...there is overwhelming evidence that the Tea Party is the home of bigotry and discrimination in America today, just as the KKK was for an earlier generation. If the hood fits, wear it.”

The ugly language may be uncomfortable to hear, but the ugliness didn't come from Grayson pointing it out -- he was simply one of the few willing to do so. Since when do Democrats merit attack from "consultants" within our own party for frankly confronting the worst behavior of our opponents? Isn't that what we ask our "representatives" to do on our behalf?

Another famous Alan Grayson quote that DLC campaign consultant types would like you to feel guilty for is his famous “Die Quickly” comment on the floor of the House when he was fighting so hard for the Affordable Care Act. This full quote read: “The Republicans’ health care plan for America: ‘Don’t get sick.’ ...But..If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: "Die quickly."

People like Charlene Dill would tell you how true this if she were still alive. She died quickly from having no health insurance, because the Republicans in Florida would rather that a young mother die from easily treatable illnesses than to provide insurance and see them get better. Again, this is simply a true statement.

It’s statements like these are part of the Just War of Words that Alan Grayson has fought on our behalf, which has made him the national brand he is. He’s the very definition of a “bold progressive,” and that’s exactly the problem for these who’s-paying-me-this-month-types.

Phillippi wants to complain about Grayson brandishing a sharpened metaphor? Why not instead attack the Tea Partiers for their racism, or the Republicans for obstructing healthcare and letting Floridians die in the process? Apparently we should all join in killing the messenger, lest Republicans be offended when their quite genuinely atrocious policies and tactics are pointed out publicly.

Alan Grayson didn’t create the ugliness in the Republican agenda — he’s working to reveal what's already there so that we might, at last, do something about it. That’s apparently something recent Republican Patrick Murphy's supporters find distasteful and indecorous.

But the young former data director circulating nasty anti-Grayson email really isn’t the problem here. He’s doing it on behalf of bigger, bluer dogs up at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who share interests and consultants with Patrick Murphy. They’re petrified that a real firebrand liberal like Alan Grayson is in the primary because he’ll win it. Their dystopian view is that a Democratically-controlled Senate with a formidable progressive caucus would be much more difficult to steer toward Wall Street-friendly interests than the New Democrat Coalition are accustomed to ply on cheap dates with their conservadem puppies.

And there is a bigger picture in play. When the Big Blue Dogs refer to a “fractious primary” they likely also have in mind the Bernie Sanders vs Hillary Clinton primary. Sanders presents a stark contrast from the bank-funded, corporate-friendly stance of Clinton, and that is apparently sufficiently threatening to the status quo to get Wall Street and its many surrogates lashing out early. If Grayson can succeed despite ruffling the smooth feathers of the financial elite, maybe Sanders can as well. Cue those pearls getting ground to dust in a thousand wealthy, sweaty fists.

"Centrism," as that term is tossed around today, isn’t a middle between Republicans and Democrats. It’s literally a "third way" that gives primacy to business interests and then says, "See, they're doing better now -- you’ll be back in shape in no time." It's just another way of selling trickle down economics and Charlene Dill healthcare. We’ve spent 30 years trying to make neoliberalism work, and it just hasn't done the job, either in terms of results or success at the polls. The voters have already moved on from the illusion that we can bow to monied interests in exchange for slightly softer social policy and somehow come out ahead.

The consultant class needs us to believe that their losing strategy and tactics aren’t the problem. Instead it’s our dang liberal ideology holding us all back. To be clear, that ideology is the value system that says if you work hard and play by the rules you won't wind up living on the streets. That if you’re disabled, or a senior, or too sick to work, that the safety net you relied on your whole life will still be there when you need it. It's the value system that says big business should pay their fair share and not leave our country in ruins, and that says economic and political inequality is morally wrong. Centrists hate this talk because it gets in the way of a good back-room deal.

Instead of trying to paper over the literal worldwide social and economic destruction that catering to monied interests has wrought, from which we have yet to even recover, and complaining worriedly about the "tone" of angry Democrats and the middle class, perhaps our helpful "consultants," with their access to data, might actually do some analysis of what has gone wrong, instead of doubling down on "kinder, gentler" conservatism that delivered the legacy of the Bush years still damaging us today.

Grayson is one of the few bold Democrats in Washington like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders who refuses big donor money in order to fight the Just War of Words.

They might use sharpened metaphors, colorful language, and (gasp!) a raised eyebrow here and there
on our behalf against the armies of corporate lobbyists poised to clear the last few scraps from the table.

These are not the people causing the downfall of the party. The ones you’re looking for are the ones who can’t win an elections because they keep running conservadems like Charlie Crist and Patrick Murphy.

Posted by nashville_brook | Sun May 31, 2015, 08:24 AM (71 replies)

The Proof Centrism is DEAD -- who is burying "no difference btw Ds & Rs"

This piece from Mike Konczal appeared in The Nation yesterday and the discussion that resulted on Facebook showed that folks missed the point of the article (or didn't read it).

Centrism ISN'T the middle between the two parties. It's literally a "third way" that gives primacy to business interests and then says, "see, they're doing better now -- what's your problem?" It's just another way of selling trickle down economics. It's neoliberalism. It's a lie. We've done this for 30 years and done nothing but dig our hole deeper, to the point where people in my age group have no hope of retirement and are likely looking at seriously dire circumstances due to not being able to work and pay for housing.

None of this is "sensible," unless you're a Wall Street millionaire. It's time we took off our blinders and realized that when people say "there's no difference between the parties," THIS is what they're talking about: bogus CENTRISM.

Ideology isn't a bad word. For liberals and progressives, ideology is our value system that says if you work hard and play by the rules you won't wind up living on the streets when you're 65 and too sick to work. It's the value system that says big business should pay their fair share and not leave our country in ruins. It's the value system that says economic and political inequality is MORALLY wrong. It's the value system that says we fucking mean it when we say "one person one vote." Not, one person (who hasn't been arrested, or isn't diluted in a certain district, or shows up at an under-resourced polling place, or has been purged from the rolls b/c their names sounds hispanic, etc etc). It's the value system that says OUR government exists to create a better world for us and our children. We call that CIVILIZATION. That means cities that work with infrastructure that doesn't kill people, but it also means exploring the cosmos and finding cures for diseases.

Hell yeah Centrism is dead. It killed itself from its own gluttony. It's time to replace it with real Democratic values that benefit everyone. We have serious problems to solve and no time to waste on triangulation and corporate giveaways.


And yes, this message is in support of Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson and any other Democrat who isn't afraid to have actual REAL values that can improve life for all of us.


The Proof That Centrism is Dead


An optical illusion has shielded centrism from critique. Centrists position themselves as anti-ideology, representing a responsible compromise between liberals and conservatives. The word conjures sobriety and restraint, caution and moderation—all of which sound compelling in uncertain economic times.

But institutionalized centrism is more than that: It's an elite group of thinkers and writers, popular in Washington, DC, and favorable to business leaders, who told a very specific story about what was happening during the Great Recession. Circa 2010, they argued for a "sensible" response to the Great Recession: reduce the deficit to fix the short-term jobs crisis, privatize Medicare, and focus on the long-term economy—since, they claimed, working Americans would eventually bounce back during the recovery. Democratic candidates took these positions seriously. Yet each element of the centrist story has turned out to be absolutely false.


This failure explains why liberal politicians will sound more confidently liberal in 2016: The dominant ideology pulling them toward business interests has failed. Thus, liberals can analyze the economy within a structural framework that isn't muddled by a commitment to wrongheaded corporate prerogatives.

The last, and arguably most insidious, thing about centrism is the implicit idea that there's no real difference between the parties—just good and bad administration of the centrist common sense. President Obama, who thought he could transcend party differences through personality, suffered from the centrist orthodoxy. The GOP, caring far more about privatization and lowering taxes on the rich than about deficits, benefited. However, 2016 will point up the real differences between the two parties, and this time the Democrats have a shot at getting it right.

Posted by nashville_brook | Thu May 28, 2015, 12:37 PM (12 replies)

Progressives just changed the 2016 election narrative by blocking TPP fast-track

Links found in original here --> http://thefloridasqueeze.com/2015/05/13/progressives-just-changed-the-2016-election-narrative-by-blocking-tpp-fast-track/

In a last-minute huddle, Democrats blocked fast-track authority (TPA) for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the Senate, saying they had concerns about enforcement of protections. This was a big, multifaceted win for progressives. One, Elizabeth Warren’s Klout score just went way up. Two, the TPP now has a good shot of being killed in the House with the momentum that’s been built. And three, the emerging progressive populist agenda has folks wondering if this changes the dynamic for 2016. Will Hillary Clinton respond by siding with Warren, or will she re-launch her Blue Dog brand?

It’s a shame that all this comes as the result of President Obama’s increasingly ugly public spat with the progressive wing of the Democratic party where he’s focused his attention on marginalizing Senator Warren. Yesterday’s vote shows that Warren isn’t the one out in the weeds — it’s the President. The bright side is the party is united like it hasn’t been in quite some time. This is a true values debate, and progressives are leading the charge to advance an emergent populist agenda that aims to patch the holes in our economic system which have led to the greatest wealth inequality since the Gilded Age and robber barons.

The more the President attacks Senator Warren, the more power she accrues. This just feeds the momentum for a new progressive agenda such as Bill de Blasio’s “Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality,” and Bernie Sanders’ “Economic Agenda to Combat Income Inequality.” It’s propelling the progressive brand on the national stage with leaders like Alan Grayson appearing as the reasoned advocate for working Americans. Here’s what Grayson says about TPP:

"Our so-called free trade policies, have been a disaster for the United States since NAFTA was enacted…And the result of that is that we’ve gone from $2 trillion in surplus with our trade to $11 trillion in debt. And we’ve lost five million manufacturing jobs and roughly 15 million other jobs in the last 20 years. So we’ve lost twice: We’ve lost the jobs, and we’ve also gone deeper and deeper into debt."

All this progressive ascendency seems to be making Hillary Clinton nervous. She hasn’t taken a question from a reporter in more than 20 days — approximately the life-span of the TPP dustup. She’s also been busy forming a new Super PAC called “Correct The Record,” to raise money specifically for political research, rapid response and communications in coordination with the campaign. Perhaps TPP is on their project list. More likely though, they’re hoping the deal will die quickly, so Hillary doesn’t have to weigh in either way.

Obama deciding to go personal with Warren seems uncharacteristically ham-handed. In his interview with Yahoo’s Matt Bai, the President took an unmistakeable condescending tone, instead of referring to “Senator Warren,” he comes off sounding paternalistic. He says “Ehhhh-liz-ah-beth,” as if she’s his little sister and can talk to the Presidential hand. It was so bad Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio called it “disrespectful,” and suggested the President wouldn’t refer to a male Senator in that belittling manner. That’s the way it sounded to me too.

Dana Milbank wrote about the personal Obama-drama, asserting that his vindictive manner could be what actually kills the TPP. Milbank observes, “The rhetoric suggests that Obama has given up trying to persuade his fellow Democrats to join him in supporting ‘fast track’ approval…and that he’s lashing out at them in anger.”

Maybe this is all eleventy-dimensional chess. Maybe Obama is allowing the deal to be damned with faint praise. Or, damned with tainted praise, courtesy of every Republican and corporate lobbyist in DC. This is the stuff that GOP dreams are made of. Well, this and the suffering of little children. It’s just impossible to believe Obama would betray his values like this. He’s a “community organizer” who promised to “put on his comfortable shoes” to march with unions on worker protections. Of course, he also downgraded that in his Yahoo interview to a less strenuous “stand with” unions. Sorry guys. These Nikes are comfortable, but they’re not that comfortable. That pinch you feel is the suffering of slave labor in Vietnam, and the loss jobs here at home.

If the party were really bringing their game, the TPP would be the perfect strawman to kickoff the 2016 campaign season. Hillary hasn’t released an economic plan yet, so all this timing is either too perfect, or perfectly disastrous for her campaign, depending on what her economic plan turns out to be. There’s signs she might come around to a progressive agenda. Clinton advisor Joseph E. Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate in economics, just released a scorching report on economic policy. One of the highlights of the report is that trade deals like the TPP are largely to blame for our explosion of wealth inequality. The report calls for “rewriting the rules of our market economy to reduce those inequalities.” One of the pull-quotes in the report reads: “Inequality has been a choice, and it is within our power to reverse it.” That’s the stuff great stump speeches are made of.

If Hillary crafted a progressive Stiglitz-Warren economic policy, and made it the centerpiece of her campaign, she’d easily win over progressives and unite the party. It would be a master stroke of triangulation — the sensible and pragmatic thing to do. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect from a smart politician who recognizes that Elizabeth Warren has just been anointed the de facto leader of the Democratic Party.
Posted by nashville_brook | Wed May 13, 2015, 02:37 PM (85 replies)

Dems can do better than "too big to fail" campaigns


Two months ago the New York Times published an article that gave the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign the “too big to fail” tagline. Titled “Democrats See No Choice but Hillary Clinton in 2016,” the piece revealed that the national Democratic party takes the attitude she’s an incumbent and they have no Plan B to a Hillary nomination. The party is so invested, even 18 months out, that should she run into trouble, they’d have no idea which way to turn.

The problem with this template, which has also been applied to the Patrick Murphy Senate campaign, is it ignores everything we know about how politics works now. As Democrats we like to see ourselves as the smart kids in the class — the ones who believe in climate science and evolution, but we could use some remedial sociology.

The common wisdom has changed since the last Clinton administration. First off, the swing voter is a myth. To win we have to mobilize voters who stay home. That’s the base and left-leaning voter. They’re people who’re motivated to vote because they really believe reform is possible. They want real change. They’re the people who didn’t vote in 2014 because the party eschewed Democratic values, putting an embargo on immigration reform, for example. These are people who voted for Nader or simply didn’t vote for Gore because they had Clinton-fatigue. They want to believe.

When MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki covered the NYT’s article they illustrated their segment with polling. This slide should be particularly troubling for anyone in the Clinton or Patrick Murphy campaigns right now. It shows that voters have a much stronger preference for candidates who promise to bring change, than for those who have experience.

This number has ticked up since 2008, so apparently there’s some “hope and change” that’s been left on the table. This would help explain how Bernie Sanders got 200,000 volunteers, raised $3 million dollars and was able to hire Obama’s entire digital team all in less than a week from announcing. Today he announced a bill to break up too big to fail banks, saying if they’re too big to fail, they’re too big to exist. If only our party understood this.

The next slide drives the point home. Both frontrunners are seen by voters as “representing the past.” On this, Jeb beats Hillary by 9 points, which might explain why we’re hearing a lot less about him lately and a lot more about “young Koch firebrands” like Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. If they put up someone who promises “change” — no matter how radical or shitty — that person could win in a race against a candidate perceived as representing the past.

Our donors have funded us into a corner. The party could let the funding and endorsements flow after the primaries. Let the people decide if Hillary represents change or not. But instead they’ve hedged all their bets in order to drive other candidates from the field. It’s the height of bad faith.

The idea of Democrats pushing “too big to fail” campaigns triggers the need for new measures of wrong-headedness. The most significant defining political themes of our time are the Great Recession, the bailout, and Occupy. There’s no underestimating the impact this has had our collective psyche. Imagine the zeitgeist is an ocean that’s composed of contempt for everything that’s “too big to fail.” We’ve only lived through it, we haven’t recovered from it.

When we say we’d like the candidate who brings change, that’s not an aesthetic preference. We’re not being trendy or hip. We really fucking need change at this point. Look at Baltimore. Hell, look at Orlando, we’re among the worst in the country for income mobility for poor children. Regular folks face crushing defeat every day in the form of bad policy that neoliberals have pre-negotiated with business interests. We can’t afford any “bipartisan negotiations” on Social Security, for instance, which has been on the table for both Patrick Murphy and Hillary Clinton. We can’t afford any of the politics of the past where the middle class gets soaked while the 1% gets bailed out.

more at link --> https://thefloridasqueeze.wordpress.com/?p=11570&preview=true
Posted by nashville_brook | Wed May 6, 2015, 10:07 PM (19 replies)

What DO you call it when democracy is broken at the behest of business?


“Democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 29, 1938 (Letter to Congress on the problem of Curbing Monopolies)

We sometimes forget that private monied interests have been campaigning for “small government” since long before Grover Norquist dreamt of drowning government in the bathtub. In this letter to Congress on curbing monopolies, Roosevelt warns that government must be strong enough to make corporations play by the rules or else we’ll be playing by their rules. Implicit is the idea that our interests don’t necessarily align.

The very next words that he wrote were, “that, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.” Does the word “fascism” shock you the way it does me? I read this and thought “Didn’t FDR know that the first person to mention Nazis loses the argument?” But of course he hadn’t heard that (Godwin’s Law was coined in 1990), and he was dealing with real Nazis, so we have to cut him slack here.

When Roosevelt wrote this, I believe he chose his words carefully. In 1933 he’d encountered a group of right-wing bankers who tried to convince him to turn over his power to them in a corporatist government backed by the military. By the time he wrote this letter he’d already dealt with on attempt by big business to topple democracy in order to muscle its way into power. He called these Wall Street bankers “economic royalists” and warned: “give them their way and they will take the course of every aristocracy of the past – power for themselves, enslavement for the public.”

Wall Street bankers grabbing power for themselves is a very familiar tune. As a matter of fact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is an overt attempt to achieve many of the end results of a corporate government that Roosevelt warned about.

The TPP asks us to deputize private interests to run public policy as a profit center. This is antithetical to democracy as FDR points out later in his letter: “We believe in a way of living in which political democracy and free private enterprise for profit should serve and protect each other—to ensure a maximum of human liberty not for a few but for all.” As a successful capitalist Roosevelt knew that you can’t have a healthy business environment without fair rules of the road.

We know through leaks that the TPP seeks to tilt those rules toward the largest, most lawyered-up global businesses. Members of the Senate who’ve seen the actual TPP document are so alarmed they’re asking for it to be declassified. Currently they’re only allowed to read it with a minder present (no notes, no photos), and aren’t allowed to discuss it with the public. A staffer can read it only if their Senator is there with them by their side. That’s why Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown challenged President Obama to release the text of the negotiation to the public.

Regardless of the secrecy, we know that the most shocking features of the TPP gives corporate lawyers the ability to preempt “non-tariff barriers” to trade that could impact “expected future profits.”

Let’s be clear — non-tariff barriers are government policies that make it possible to have safe food, good jobs and a clean environment. Basically, this is what Republicans call “big government.” Under TPP, 500 the lawyers for the 1% were empowered to identify government policies on health, environment, labor and safety, that could impact business’ future profit with the intent of preempting any barrier to profit. These are the details they won’t let us see. On this subject, the usually understated Sierra Club says “these provisions elevate corporations to the level of nation states and allow them to sue governments over nearly any law or policy which reduces their future profits.”

(more at link)

Posted by nashville_brook | Sun May 3, 2015, 03:21 PM (85 replies)
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