“Every generation needs a new revolution.”
-Thomas Jefferson

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Staceyann Chin, National Equality March 10/10/09 photo: Ed Needham

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our Proposal for the Democratic Convention Theme Song...

The Who: Won't Get Fooled Again

It might not sit well with the President's people, but we think there would some foot-tapping and perhaps a cheer or two from the floor. Or three.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Case for a Primary Challenge Against Obama

 c/o The Atlantic

July 8, 2011
by Conor Friedersdorf

It looks like Obama is to Boehner's left..  Perhaps a smidge. (photo credit: Reuters)
Ask a typical tea partier when his discontent with the political establishment began. Often as not he'll point to the Bush Administration. The list of grievances is long: the profligate spending, the new entitlement for prescription drugs, the Harriet Miers nomination, the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Most tea partiers now think compassionate conservatism itself was ill-conceived.

So where were all the protest rallies back when Bush was president? It's a question tea party critics love to ask. The implication is that the protest movement is motivated by partisanship and antagonism to Obama more than principle. In fact, discontent on the right during the Bush years was genuine. Tongues were held for reasons including these: a desire to support the president in the war on terror, misguided partisan loyalty, a conservative movement that acted as unprincipled apologists and attack dog enforcers for the president, and perhaps more than anything else, a dearth of options. Circa 2003, when Medicare Part D was enacted, a primary challenge against Bush was unthinkable. What was an upset conservative to do, vote for John Kerry?

By their lights, he'd have been worse.

Liberals should understand that predicament. It's exactly the one in which they now find themselves. President Obama won't face a serious primary challenge prior to Election 2012, but that isn't because he has governed as the left would've wanted. He is trying to keep American troops in Iraq beyond his own withdrawal deadline. His executive power claims are every bit as bad, and sometimes more extreme, than the excesses the left blasted when Bush was responsible for them. The prison at Guantanamo Bay remains open. Warantless surveillance on innocent Americans continues. Whistleblowers are in greater legal jeopardy than they were. The economy is terrible. Health-care reform was more corporatist than progressives would've preferred. We're now waging an illegal war in Libya that'll cost over a billion dollars, even as we prepare deep cuts to social welfare programs. Despite promises to the contrary, the FBI is still raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in jurisdictions where they're legal under state law. Promised advances in government transparency haven't materialized.

The left would be justified in lashing out, given the Grand-Canyon-sized chasm that separates the rhetoric of candidate Obama from the behavior of President Obama. By and large, however, they've kept quiet about the abuses and unlawful behavior of the man who occupies the White House, with a few notable exceptions, compared to their volume and passion during his predecessor's tenure. That's partly because they've focused their attacks on the tea party, and politicians like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. The truth of the matter is that even if a conservative like Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the soft spoken advocate of a truce on social issues, won the nomination, the vast majority of liberals would support President Obama's reelection anyway.

It is their feeling that they've got nowhere else to go.

Is there any way out of this cycle, whereby every president is virulently hated by the opposition and proceeds to betray his ideological allies, who submit for lack of an alternative? Are we condemned to a political establishment that has failed all of us? If things proceed as before, perhaps Obama will win re-election, continue to betray his base and the ideals he articulated in 2008, and sow the seeds for a left-leaning tea party equivalent. There is, however, one flaw in that plan: isn't the rhetoric of candidate Obama mostly what those people want to hear from a champion?

In a provocative essay, James Poulos lays out another possible future. It's deeply counterintuitive. He argues that the existing tea party can appeal to the whole political spectrum if its leaders and rank-and-file have the will to make it happen:

Democrats have not been so disillusioned with a sitting president of their party since Robert F. Kennedy ran in 1968 to unseat Lyndon Johnson. Liberal confidence in the most basic principles of Democratic rule have been shaken to the core by Barack Obama's intensification of Bush-era policies that even divide the right. The left cannot field a challenge to what increasingly strikes good-faith liberals as the rule of a corporatist police state. The Green Party is a husk. The radicals are a rump. Outside the right, there is now no viable political alternative to Obamaism -- the greatest partisan disappointment in generations.

But until Republicans make some fundamental changes to their party platform, the left is prepared to accept from the Democratic Party many generations of abuse and depression. This is why liberal elites are deep into a crash program to hardwire the public mind with their caricature of Tea Partiers as a virulent, violent fringe peddling moral hatred and social suffering. At the present moment, it sounds farfetched to say that only the Tea Party can address this concern in a way that can attract liberal voters to Republican candidates. But does it sound any less farfetched to say that establishment Republicanism can gain the support of any liberals worthy of the name?
His theory has this going for it: Tea partiers and disaffected liberals have in common a mistrust of the political establishment, a plausible critique of centrists, a desire to hold candidates they elect to their promises, and legitimate grievances with widespread appeal. As a student of partisan media, however, it is unthinkable to me that they'd join forces to elect even a reformed version of a Tea Party Republican. In a better world, ideological movements wouldn't rely on vilifying adversaries as the people who are "destroying America" while advancing their own causes.

But our world is one where there is not only a psychological temptation to do so, but huge financial incentives for people like Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, Andrew Breitbart, Mark Levin and Michael Moore to stoke the pathology. If the other side is as malicious in their intentions as these entertainers say, it would be folly for the non-establishment right and left to join forces.

Thus failed "centrists" keep hanging around.

What I'd like to see, apart from everything else, is a return to strong primary challenges against sitting presidents. It's easy to understand why they don't happen. But hard to argue that we wouldn't be better off if President Bush had been forced to worry a bit more about fiscal hawks, and President Obama was worried a bit more about anti-corporatists and the anti-war, civil libertarian left.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Here's the Deal with Russ for President:

the "candidate to be"
Today marked the launch of a new organization and website spelling out what has been whispered about in progressive circles for some time. There may well be a Russ Feingold Presidential Campaign in the preliminary stages.

Recently, a "draft Russ for Senate" campaign in WI has come up short. No one from his inner circle to state political pundits are expecting him to enter the senate race, a race polls show he would take by a landslide. Why? Is it that he has set his political sights higher?

While the former Senator may not enjoy the name recognition of Gov. Dean (neither did Dean til he ran for President) few individuals are held in higher regard by the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.  A champion of civil liberties, worker's rights, a public health insurance option, peace overseas, a David to the Goliath of corporate influence in Washington, Sen. Feingold has been busy with his PAC, Progressives United since leaving office. A direct response to Citizens United, a corporate funded right-wing PAC repeatedly charged with ugly yet effective disinformation campaigns, Progressives United seeks to separate corporate money from the political process and promote greater transparency and accountability in government.

The fact is, many democrats are feeling disenfranchised after two and a half years of the Obama Administration and looking for a way to channel that frustration in a positive way. Recent polls show a majority of Democrats would like to see a primary challenger to Obama than would have him run unopposed. Russ 2012 may just be what they are looking for. We sure could do much worse.

For what it's worth, Mr. Feingold, consider us very much on board.

Find the Russ in 2012 website here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Michelle Bachmann Doesn't Need a Flaming Husband to Burn Down Her Campaign...

..she'll do it just fine on her own.

Granted, the article below is just a collection of observations by various people and one's sexuality is solely one's own business. However, when one is the vociferously anti-gay husband (who appears very gay) of the vociferously anti-gay presidential candidate, Michelle Bachmann, it is the cruel hypocrisy at issue, not the sexuality itself.

As with Sarah Palin on John McCain's ticket, Ms. Bachmann's ability to lessen her chances with all but the right-wing fringe voters is exercised every time she opens her mouth to speak something other than a rehearsed talking point. The only question is when she will crest in terms of popularity and nose-dive her own campaign. Fellow candidate Mitt Romney is hoping for later rather than sooner. Bachmann is, according to Romney insiders, god's gift to the Romney campaign.

The Minnesota Congresswoman doesn't need a closeted husband who happens to be a homophobic "Christian" counselor to "former" gay men to bring down her campaign. Though with the increasing media exposure of Marcus Bachmann and his explicitly hypocritical and exuberantly angry stance towards homosexuality, it could certainly add fuel to the fire.

fabulousss marcus bachmann c/o getty images
This article comes to us c/o Laurie Apple at Gawker.com:

All Kinds of People Weighing in on Marcus ‘Mr. Michele’ Bachmann’s Sexuality
Lauri Apple —Since Tea Partying hostess-with-the-mostest Rep. Michele Bachmann declared her presidential candidacy, Dr. Marcus Bachmann—her gay-barbarian discipline-advocating therapist-husband—has been drawing heightened attention on his own. Some people, including famous-type ones, think maybe Bachmann's a gay barbarian as well.

Notable Bachmann sexuality commentators include:
  • Cher, who used her Twitter the other day to riff on Bachmann (as the gay news website Towleroad noticed).
  • Pundit Andrew Sullivan, who called Bachmann a "ssuper-sserial hunter of gays" and then compared him to Waiting for Guffman character Corky St. Clair.
  • The Daily Show co-creator and satirist Lizz Winstead, who tweeted that Bachmann is "the white Al Reynolds."
  • James Urbaniak of The Venture Brothers, who Tumbled: "It's pretty much a given that the most vociferously homophobic men are usually repressing something. But, oh Mary, Michele Bachmann's husband Marcus takes the ever-loving cake. He's a cure-the-gay therapist out of a John Waters movie. I haven't seen flames this high since the last California wildfire..."
  • Kids in the Hall comic and television actor Dave Foley, who asked via Twitter: "How can Michele Bachman be opposed to gay marriage when she is married to gay man." Foley made a few other tweets about Bachmann, using "#MarcusBachmanIsSoGay"; the hashtag got a bit of traction.
  • Keith Olbermann referred to Bachmann as a "bizarre-sounding man who's calling gays 'barbarians'" and wonders how you can "hide" him without putting him in some sort of closet.
Also, someone has created a @DrMarcusBachman Twitter feed. And at least one blogger believes Bachmann would make a "fine First Lady of the United States."
People started questioning Bachmann's sexuality well before his wife announced her presidential campaign. Back in September 2010, for example, Truth Wins Out—a nonprofit whose mission is to fight "anti-gay religious extremism"—posted on its website a YouTube of Bachmann with the comment, "Comment not necessary." That vid got people talking, but not at the level we're now seeing. Will his sexuality become a bigger issue as Mrs. B's campaign churns along? We'll see.
At this point, you might be wondering whether all these jokes and comments amount to gay-bashing. Wisconsin Gazette blogger Louis Weisberg took up that very question in a summary of all the Bachmann chatter. His conclusion?:
As long as the Bachmanns continue to display traits that seem to be at odds with their positions on the issues, they're sure to inspire more ridicule. Whether that ridicule is justified or unseemly is a debate within itself.
In addition to promoting the cause of gay discipline, Bachmann has also donated to a group that's trying to ban gay marriage in Minnesota. He might want to stop that kind of thing, if he wants celebrities and others to stop tweeting about him so much.

The Aspen Institute: The Obama Presidency and the Future of the American Dream

Arianna Huffington, Michael Sandel and Jeffrey Rosen lead an insightful discussion at this year's Aspen Institute's Festival of Ideas from the query: "Has the Obama Administration saved or betrayed progressive politics in America?" A topic oft visited by The Democrat Deal, investigated and argued with a much higher degree of discernment and eloquence. (It is no surprise to our readers that we have consistently arrived to a thesis more akin to Arianna's perspective.)