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Member since: 2002
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How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul

In the 1970s, a new wave of post-Watergate liberals stopped fighting monopoly power. The result is an increasingly dangerous political system.

It was January 1975, and the Watergate Babies had arrived in Washington looking for blood. The Watergate Babies—as the recently elected Democratic congressmen were known—were young, idealistic liberals who had been swept into office on a promise to clean up government, end the war in Vietnam, and rid the nation’s capital of the kind of corruption and dirty politics the Nixon White House had wrought. Richard Nixon himself had resigned just a few months earlier in August. But the Watergate Babies didn’t just campaign against Nixon; they took on the Democratic establishment, too. Newly elected Representative George Miller of California, then just 29 years old, announced, “We came here to take the Bastille.”


Over the next 40 years, this Democratic generation fundamentally altered American politics. They restructured “campaign finance, party nominations, government transparency, and congressional organization.” They took on domestic violence, homophobia, discrimination against the disabled, and sexual harassment. They jettisoned many racially and culturally authoritarian traditions. They produced Bill Clinton’s presidency directly, and in many ways, they shaped President Barack Obama’s.

The result today is a paradox. At the same time that the nation has achieved perhaps the most tolerant culture in U.S. history, the destruction of the anti-monopoly and anti-bank tradition in the Democratic Party has also cleared the way for the greatest concentration of economic power in a century. This is not what the Watergate Babies intended when they dethroned Patman as chairman of the Banking Committee. But it helped lead them down that path. The story of Patman’s ousting is part of the larger story of how the Democratic Party helped to create today’s shockingly disillusioned and sullen public, a large chunk of whom is now marching for Donald Trump


On Religious Intolerance And Ethnic Hatred

An interesting opinion article in one of Nigeria's online news outlets. In my POV, it asks some of the nagging questions that I have about religion and humanity.

I am neither a preacher of religion nor a disciple of an ancient 'holy man'. Even though I have learnt from both, I see no necessity to define myself by either what I believe, or where I was born. I choose to see life through the prism of values because they are encompassing and exclude none. I am a proponent of enlightenment, justice as fairness, equality and peaceful co-existence.
In my world, whatever Jesus, Mohamed, Abraham, Buddha etc., said, is no different from what Plato, Socrates, Homer, Seneca, Shakespeare etcetera, said. They are all men of exceptional wisdom, understanding of humanity and compassion. I judge all on the altar of morality, reason and fairness. I accept Nothing that they or any one living today have said, without critical appraisal. I hold a faith informed by reason, common sense and evidence.
Until we learn that there are a thousand ways to seek God and every one of them is right, that there are twenty-one ways to pray and God approves of them all, there are one hundred names for God and He answers to all, there are one hundred and forty four routes to heaven and each and every one of them leads to the city of four square with streets of gold and sea of glass, there is one broad way to hell and it is lined by faith, greed, hate, prejudice, pride and intolerance and, anyone can find it. Until we accept that all men and women are brothers and sisters, we will not stop disparaging, hating, squabbling and killing one another.

If religion is the means to God and we have each chosen a different route, and heading to the same destination, why are we so intolerant and hateful of each other?
A man who will see in belief and ethnicity, the eternal truth of God, is not only wilfully ignorant and infected with prejudice, hubris and greed, but very dangerous because he can justify anything, including murder. God is love. The Kingdom of God is in our minds and God made us many nations, of one blood. Let reason inform our faith. Let us end hate in the name of God??


I am a fan of Howard Dean and I disagree with your perception...

Your rant missed explaining why the blue-dog Dems tend to be the the first and loudest to condemn and disrespect the liberal base all the times; why they are the first and loudest to go against a Dem president when he pursues core liberal agenda but slow, if ever at all, to stand up to reThug president when they push their crap; why they are the first and loudest to rubbish the Dem platform if they disagree; why they are the first and loudest to jump on the bandwagon of the reThugs and Teabaggers whenever they perceive that issues are getting hot.

The claim you make that reThugs welcome all sorts in the midst overlooks the fact that so called moderates in reThuglican party hardly do similar things to their side. Even when the reThug moderates have disagreements with their party/leaders/president they tend to deal internally with them and show united front in public or don't vehemently show their opposition as such in public like the blue-dogs always do

Tell us how much the reThug moderates did to show their disagreement on ACA despite stringing the Dems along while ACA was being put together or during the debate? Tell us how much the moderates rebelled against the reThug leadership when government shutdown was being threatened and eventually imposed on the administration?

I think the key issue why the blue-dogs are disliked by some on DU, IMO, is that they tend not to have regard or want do much for the party when things get hot; and so are seen as politically selfish, disrespectful to the party, and eager to sellout the base for their own financial gain.

Hillary Clinton's Foreign Policy Deception

A good article about the general trajectory of the Obama administration's foreign policy under the leadership of the Hillary Clinton as SOS. And it belies the attempt by Hillary Clinton to distance herself from Obama on the problems now surfacing in regard to the decisions they made on some of the issues.


The most aggressive of her claims, that Obama's unwillingness to give support to the Syrian rebels has led to the rise of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) -- is not true. The US and allies have supported the rebels, though the exact numbers and means are unknown as the operations have been mostly covert. The policy was mistaken from the start: it has contributed to more than 160,000 dead in Syria, and in fact helped to open the way for ISIS to threaten both Syria and Iraq. This failure is both Clinton's and Obama's, and to this day is obscured in a cloud of lies and deceit.

Here is what we know. When the Arab Spring broke out in early 2011, the US foreign policy and intelligence establishment was caught flat-footed, without any warning, anticipation or policy. Our policy in the Middle East was wholly reactive, and the one glimmer of an initiative -- Obama's Cairo Speech in June 2009 -- proved to be empty words without any follow up.


The Democrats' Defeatism

Defeatism infects the Democratic Party's bloodstream. This affliction is systemic and chronic. It has spread through every limb and organ of the party from the White House to towns across America. The ulterior source is a political lifestyle dating back to the Reagan years of passivity as the Republicans aggressively seized the commanding heights of the nation's political discourse. That well orchestrated, all-out offensive had several fronts: the media, the think tanks, the foundations, high finance, school boards and local organizations. Democrats became observers of their own marginalization or, worse, entered into the gradual but inexorable process of accommodating themselves to the New Thinking. They became an accessory to this silent revolution in the country's political life.

Democrats still win elections -- at great cost. The party has abandoned its historic constituencies, allowed the radically reactionary opposition to set the agenda and to define the issues. Victories are hollow. A Democratic President, Bill Clinton, pronounced "the era of big government is over." He let loose the locusts of financial predation on the land. He and Hillary hobnob with the Wall Street barons. He promotes the Bowles-Simpson assault on Social Security, Medicare and federal social problems of all sorts. Barack Obama, the glamorous champion of renewal, began his second day in the White House putting a depressed economy's fate in the hands of those who had pillaged and crippled it. He gave them all E-Z passes. He set as his administration's centerpiece a bizarre health insurance plan cooked-up by the ultra-Right American Heritage Foundation. Obamacare might rightly be called Heritage Care. He embraced austerity. He appointed Bowles-Simpson after first proposing to Congress even more dire threats to social spending. He promoted the "sequester" that has achieving the perennial Republican objective of downsizing government. He has launched a campaign against public schools and public universities. He has drastically undermined the most basic civil liberties in blatant ways. He has pressed a draconian program for expelling undocumented immigrants that tears apart families all the while pledging humane treatment.


It helps to read the whole article before rearing in defense of the Democratic Party's leadership or President Obama.

My problem with the party as is the lackadaisical attitude towards the rank and file and the abandonment of the efforts started under ex-governor Dean to re-energize the base in all of the 50 states. Obama's removal of Dean from the party chairmanship as well as Dean's non inclusion in any other significant position of leadership is something that still confuses me till today. Then add to these is the attitude of the leadership to always pull back from engagement in any serious fight, wherein Democrats take the offensive, with the republican party on any issue.

Absolutely correct!

I get miffed by the people that feel so offended that Israel's actions are compared to Nazi's. So Israel should have carte blanche on what they do and the conditions imposed on the Palestinians?

Wall Street deregulation pushed by Clinton advisers, documents reveal

Wall Street deregulation, blamed for deepening the banking crisis, was aggressively pushed by advisers to Bill Clinton who have also been at the heart of current White House policy-making, according to newly disclosed documents from his presidential library.

The previously restricted papers reveal two separate attempts, in 1995 and 1997, to hurry Clinton into supporting a repeal of the Depression-era Glass Steagall Act and allow investment banks, insurers and retail banks to merge.

A Financial Services Modernization Act was passed by Congress in 1999, giving retrospective clearance to the 1998 merger of Citigroup and Travelers Group and unleashing a wave of Wall Street consolidation that was later blamed for forcing taxpayers to spend billions bailing out the enlarged banks after the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

The White House papers show only limited discussion of the risks of such deregulation, but include a private note which reveals that details of a deal with Citigroup to clear its merger in advance of the legislation were deleted from official documents, for fear of it leaking out.

“Please eat this paper after you have read this,” jokes the hand-written 1998 note addressed to Gene Sperling, then director of Clinton's National Economic Council.


I am saddened by the fact that it was a Democratic president that essentially gave way to the ravages of the financial industry to rape and pillage the world today. And ex-President Clinton with all his acumen and political wizardry, is a major disappointment in this regard.

More also the fact that Podesta is still in the government in the Obama administration again. I wonder what other turd he will leave the country/world with by the end of the administration

Time for Realism and Common Sense on Ukraine

The escalating crisis in Ukraine has set off reckless missile-rattling in this country. As Harvard’s Stephen Walt tweeted on March 2: “Public discourse on #Ukraine situation hitting new hghts in hyperbole. (‘New Cold War, WW III,’ etc.) Rhetorical overkill not helpful.” He may have been thinking of neocon Charles Krauthammer, who in his Washington Post column called for the United States to ante up $15 billion for Ukraine and send a naval flotilla to the Black Sea. The same paper headlined that the crisis “tests Obama’s focus on diplomacy over military force,” quoting Andrew Kuchins of the Center for Strategic and International Studies decrying President Obama’s “taking the stick option off the table.”

The Obama administration has responded to the crisis by flexing its own rhetorical muscles. When Russian President Vladimir Putin ignored Obama’s warning that “there will be costs” if Russia sent troops into Crimea, Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the “brazen act of aggression,” vowing that “Russia is going to lose, the Russian people are going to lose” and suggesting “asset freezes…isolation with respect to trade and investment,” while promising “economic assistance of the major sort” for whatever government emerges in Kiev.

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US foreign policy needs a strong dose of realism and common sense. It’s absurd to scold Obama for “taking the stick option off the table”: the unavoidable fact is that the United States has no stick in relation to Ukraine. Americans have no desire and no reason to go to war with Russia over Crimea, and the EU and the United States are not about to supplant Russia’s economic influence in Ukraine. Washington is not going to provide the aid, the trade or the subsidized energy Ukraine needs, and the EU—which is still mired in its own deep economic crisis—doesn’t have the means to offer Ukraine much beyond painful austerity. Its new government is not elected, not legitimate and not at all settled. The international community should be pushing hard for compromise before this fragile and bitterly divided country breaks apart.

Frustrated cold warriors filling armchairs in Washington’s outdated “strategic” think tanks will continue to howl at the moon, but US policy should be run by the sober. The president should work with the EU and Russia to preserve Ukraine’s territorial unity, support free elections and allow Ukraine to be part of both the EU and the Russian customs union, while pledging that NATO will not extend itself into Ukraine. It is time to reduce tensions, not draw red lines, flex rhetorical muscles and fan the flames of folly.

Editoral @ TheNation

I do agree that it is time for more sober approach to this issue rather than the hyper-ventilating that has been going on in the recent past.

The all-powerful US president?

There are some days that I wake up just feeling contrary. Today is one of those days.

It often happens after I clue in to the conventional wisdom that seems to suddenly be everywhere in Washington.

The new line on Russia's actions in Crimea can be summed up by this question from David Gregory on Sunday's "Meet the Press" programme speaking to an Obama administration official:

Gregory: "Let me talk about the crisis in Ukraine. Since this started the president and his top officials have issued it seems like line after line and Putin seems to have crossed them all? Why does the president and the United States generally have so little influence over this?"
First of all, I can't remember any lines the president has issued. I'm pretty sure after what happened with a potential Syria intervention, he's banned from even mentioning the colour red.

What the president has done is ask the Russians to talk, say it's a violation of international law and warn that the Russians would be isolated internationally.

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I am not writing any of this to cast judgement on what Russia has done. That is not for me to say as a journalist in Washington, DC. I do think it is my job here to point out some of the hypocrisy in this town. When US commentators talk about the importance of sovereignty and territorial integrity, perhaps Yemen and Pakistan should come up in the next sentence.

When people talk about a weak president, perhaps the next step shouldn't be to look at his personality, but the position of the country.

The US has been at war since 2001, it is $17 trillion in debt and its economy seems to be growing only for the very rich. Americans didn't want war with Syria; do you really think they are in the mood to take on Russia?

These commentators and politicians would probably respond by saying they aren't talking about going to war. That's true, but they do seem to be saying the president should be able to prevent one with a stern glance and a strong warning.


Just like the author of the article, I sometimes feel that those who huff and puff about forcing Russia to back down over Ukraine need to realize that power is sometimes relative and does not solve all problems regardless of our wishes; unless we are prepared for an all out war, possibly including nuclear war.
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