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National Politics

President Obama Hits Highest Gallup Approval Rating (50%-45%) in Nearly Two Years

by: lowkell

Mon Jan 26, 2015 at 13:05:14 PM EST

Check it out! Also note that Obama's increased approval ratings have come about since: a) Teapublicans took control of the US Congress and yet again demonstrated what a bunch of inocompetent loons they are; and b) Obama started standing up for progressive values and the environment, rather than continuing down the Warner-esque "both sides"/"radical centrist" dead end that has served him, our party, and our country so poorly for so long. Keep it up!

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 4 words in story)

Excerpts of the President's State of the Union Address

by: lowkell

Tue Jan 20, 2015 at 18:51:18 PM EST

From the White House, prior to President Obama's State of the Union Address tonight.
As Prepared for Delivery

"We are fifteen years into this new century.  Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world.  It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.

But tonight, we turn the page."
...
"At this moment - with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production - we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.  It's now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.

Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well?  Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?"
...
"So the verdict is clear.  Middle-class economics works.  Expanding opportunity works.  And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don't get in the way."

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 399 words in story)

New WaPo-ABC Poll Shows Toxic Impact of Media's "Both Sides" False Equivalency "Reporting"

by: lowkell

Mon Jan 19, 2015 at 08:30:20 AM EST

Before we get to the subject noted in the headline, let's present the good news first from this morning's new Washington Post/ABC News poll: President Obama is now at an approval rating of 50%-44% among all U.S. adults, "the highest in a Post-ABC poll since the spring of 2013...nine points higher than in December and seven points higher than in October." Again, that's the good news, and it comes in spite of negative, biased reporting by our overwhelmingly corporate and right-wing media.

Now the bad news, for which I overwhelmingly blame the corporate/right-wing media's incessant - and blatantly, demonstrably, empirically false - narrative that it's actually "both sides," not just the Republicans and Tea Partiers, who are equally responsible for gridlock in Congress, problems in our country, you name it. Again, keep in mind that this is not just false, but wildly so. Now, here are the results that have me so appalled:

*"Overall, who do you trust to do a better job coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years (Obama) or (the Republicans in Congress)?"
The contrast between where we found ourselves in 2009, when Republicans handed the baton to Democratic leadership, and now, five years later -- is stunning. And this massive improvement in our economy comes about in spite of Republican obstructionism, shutting down the government threatening to default on our country's national debt, declaring that their #1 priority was for President Obama to "fail," etc., etc.  Yet in spite of all that evidence, the Post/ABC poll finds the country almost even split on who they trust to do a better job facing country between President Obama (40%) and Republicans (36%), with 17% saying "neither." Again, I blame the corporate media, and its 24/7 barrage of false equivalence, "both sides" reporting for most of that. I also blame Democratic politicians, Mark Warner being a prime example, for adopting this brain-dead, utterly false "framing" and perpetuating it.

*"Who do you think is mainly responsible for [government dysfunction] - (Obama and the Democrats in Congress), (the Republicans in Congress), or both sides equally?"
Again, there's no question, factually speaking, who is at fault here: the Tea Party and the Republicans. They are the ones who have behaved in a wildly irresponsible, destructive manner since President Obama took office. They are the ones who shoved sequestration down our throats. They are the ones who shut down the government. They are the ones who threatened to default on our country's national debt. They are the ones who blocked investment in U.S. infrastructure, action on climate change and energy policy, action to help stem the scourge of gun violence, comprehensive immigration reform, action to address growing income inequality and wage stagnation, you name it. And despite all this, Democrats have made progress pulling us out of the Great Recession, which was handed over to President Obama by Bush, Cheney, etc. Yet somehow, Americans hold "both sides" equally responsible (61%) for making our government dysfunctional (note: an additional 18% bizarrely blame President Obama and Democrats in Congress, while 20% correctly blame Republicans in Congress).

*" Who do you think is taking a stronger leadership role in the government in Washington these days, (Obama) or (the Republicans in Congress)?"
Ditto to my previous comments.

Bottom line: the American public's belief that "both sides" are responsible for whatever problems our country faces, for government "dysfunction," etc., is completely false. As Thomas Mann of the American Enterprise Institute and Norm Ornstein of the Brookings Institute wrote in 2012 (and the situation hasn't changed signficantly since then):

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country's challenges.

Bingo. Yet the American public doesn't know this. Why not? Corporate media, j'accuse!
Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R) Says It's Not "Necessary" to Address SCOTUS Gutting of Voting Rights Act

by: lowkell

Thu Jan 15, 2015 at 15:08:17 PM EST

So, is Rep. Bob Goodlatte BADlatte in the running for worst Congressman in Virginia or in the entire country? At the national level, there's a great deal of competition, but BADlatte's blocking of comprehensive immigration reform, his generally far-right-wing record, and now his idiocy on the Voting Rights Act, certainly puts him in the running! Personally, I'm just trying to figure out who's more of a disgrace to Virginia: a) BADlatte; b) climate science denier Morgan Griffith; c) Bob McDonnell; d) Joe Morrissey; or e) Ayn Rand-worshipping Dave Brat. Thoughts?

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Rep. Don Beyer Statement on H.R. 37

by: lowkell

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 12:57:18 PM EST

From Rep. Beyer's office.
January 13, 2015 (Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Representative Don Beyer, Northern Virginia Democrat, released the following statement in support of H.R. 37 ahead of today's vote in the House of Representatives:

"I am a committed supporter of financial reform and voted today for H.R. 37 because on balance, it contains positive economic reforms. Had I been a member of Congress when Dodd-Frank was proposed, I would have voted for it.  I am not, however, averse to modifications to Dodd-Frank that are made in a good faith effort to improve the legislation.

"H.R. 37 is a package of 11 bills, eight of which were previously passed by the House with 400 or more votes or passed the Financial Services Committee with near-unanimity and seven of which have nothing to do with Dodd-Frank.  Among the bill's positive provisions is a reform that will help the emerging growth companies -- which have been the engine of our 21st century economy -- access capital and continue to grow.  I am listening closely to the criticism of the bill, and respect that perspective. However, I believe that the net impact of the legislation will be positive.  For example, the core provision of the Volker Rule, the ban on proprietary trading, is not impacted at all by the bill.

"The bill also addresses regulatory requirements which are not necessary to protect American consumers or our broader financial system. Regulation is not important for its own sake, and must be the result of a thoughtful, evolving process. Unnecessary regulations are not only a burden to business; they hamper regulators who are required to use their limited resources enforcing nonessential rules.

"I believe our nation needs financial reforms.   For example, I endorsed the financial transaction tax proposed Monday by Rep. Van Hollen.  I will continue to look for such opportunities.

"I have appreciated hearing from my constituents regarding my vote on H.R. 37 and look forward to continuing to do so as the debate over financial sector regulation moves forward in the 114th Congress."


 
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

President Obama Doesn't Go to Paris March; Right Wingers React as Only They Can

by: lowkell

Sun Jan 11, 2015 at 20:41:28 PM EST

That is, with an outpouring of appalling, stomach-churning racism, misogyny, anti-gay and anti-Muslim bigotry, etc. (see below) Sad to say, but after 6+ years of this crap, it's not in the least bit surprising to see this outpouring of disgusting-ness (but I'd argue it's important to expose it).  Oh, and note to the "mainstream media": this is Example #Infinity why there's no equivalence between "both sides," and why you need to stop claiming there is.

P.S. For much of Sunday evening, this was a top "trending" hashtag on Twitter. Ugh.

Lots more right-wing/Tea Party classiness after the "flip."

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 30 words in story)

Guest Opinion: A Virginia "progressive in law enforcement" on de Blasio, Garner, etc.

by: lowkell

Wed Jan 07, 2015 at 07:01:10 AM EST

The following thoughts come from a Virginia cop who describes himself as a "progressive in law enforcement" (he adds, "There are some of us actually LOL"). I had emailed him and asked what he thought of this article ("2nd NYPD officer honored at funeral; many again turn backs on de Blasio"). I don't agree with everything he says (e.g., I strongly DISagree on the Garner case and on police turning their backs on the Mayor at a funeral), but I felt that his perspective was newsworthy, since I know this individual is generally progressive and a strong Democrat. Also note that he is white.
In regards to the officers turning their backs on the Mayor at the funerals and at the hospital, I understand their anger and frustration with everything that has been going on. Two officers were killed, ambushed while these "anti-police" or "anti-brutality" (whatever you view them as) are on going.  It happened when video showed protesters chanting for "dead cops" and wanting them "now."  

Do I think those protesters and anti-police rhetoric lead to the ambush?  In a way, yes.....Much like the "targets" on various congressional districts, like Gabby Gifford's fueled the shooter in her attack. I think it's unfair to totally ignore that factor much like people did during the Giffords shooting. The mayor definitely didn't attempt to defend or differentiate between 99% of NYPD officers who do an extraordinary job day in and day out and the bad ones when asked to comment on it. Do I think the officer in the Garner case acted maliciously? No. Do I think he acted criminally to be charged based on current case law. No, absolutely not. Civilly? More than likely......A lot of this anti-police anger comes from people not understanding case law relating to the subject and that's understandable, it's very complicated and hard to fathom.

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White House Fact Sheet: Charting a New Course on Cuba

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 17, 2014 at 12:00:00 PM EST

Excellent news, looooong overdue! I mean, heck, we have diplomatic relations with Russia, China, and many other unsavory regimes, but not Cuba? Crazy.  

Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people.  We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba. 

It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.  At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba.  Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.

We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.  It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse.  We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state.  With our actions today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities.  In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help.

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Video: Jim Moran - Elizabeth Warren "demagoguing an issue...the public doesn't understand"

by: lowkell

Sat Dec 13, 2014 at 19:44:11 PM EST

Wow, seriously? In addition to bashing Elizabeth Warren for supposedly being a demagogue (for not wanting to backtrack on reforms put in place after the Wall Street meltdown of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed), Rep. Moran absurdly/falsely claims that "Democrats are as much concerned about their left wing as Republicans are concerned about their right wing." That is just blatantly false. Evidence? Quick, name the last time a Democratic incumbent was challenged from their left in a primary, let alone defeated in one (UPDATE: as we're discussing in the comments, it HAS happened, but it's extremely rare on the Dem side; extremely common on the Republican side) Now, name the last time a Republican incumbent (hint: Eric Cantor) was challenged and defeated in a primary (hint: Dave Brat). In short, the former basically NEVER happens, while the latter happens all the freaking time. Just utter horse manure by Jim Moran on this one. Finally, check out this nonsense from Moran:
I hate to say this as a liberal myself, but I think you're going to see the same dynamics in the Democratic Party as in the Republican Party. You're going to see Ted Cruz going out to the right and trying to derail legislation, and I do think you're going to see some division within the Democratic Party between those that are on the left and those that are further on the left...
Riiiiight, so there's now an equivalency between the far right (Tea Party, Birchers, neo-Confederates, theocrats, Koch brothers, etc.) and the "left" (Moran seems to be pointing his finger at Elizabeth Warren, whose apparent "sin" is trying to rein in Wall Street)? Is this supposed to be a bad joke or what? Wow.

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Video: Roots Camp 2014 Day 1

by: lowkell

Sat Dec 13, 2014 at 08:47:05 AM EST

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

The Police Shootings: A New Chapter in an Old Story of Racial Oppression

by: Andy Schmookler

Thu Dec 11, 2014 at 17:07:39 PM EST

Sowing Fear to Reap Submission

How are we to understand all these shootings, by police, of unarmed black men? And the manner in which the American justice system processes these shootings with the result that very few are indicted, hardly any are convicted, and virtually no one does any jail time? And how are we to understand the way that an impassioned major segment of people on the political right make heroes of the shooters in these cases -- like Darren Wilson (and a self-appointed vigilante like George Zimmerman)?

A very dark force in the American body politic -- an ancient and destructive component in the consciousness of the American collectivity -- is being expressed here. It is all about that component of American civilization, going back centuries, that insists on the power of whites to oppress blacks.

Central to that oppressive power arrangement is making black people -- making black men, specifically -- afraid. Intimidation is always and everywhere a favorite tool of the oppressor.

In the days of slavery, the white elite created a system of "slave patrols" to capture and punish runaway slaves, and to intimidate the rest of the slave population. In the century of the Jim Crow regime in the American South, a whole range of methods -- of which the lynching was only the most dramatic -- were employed to intimidate blacks (again, especially black men) into acquiescing in the oppression imposed upon them by the dominant white race.

It is, regrettably, in that context that the pathological pattern of police killings of unarmed black men is to be understood.

What do the recent mottoes "Hands up! Don't shoot" and "I can't breathe" express if not a shared sense in the black community that it is dangerous to be an American While Black? And while the police in America truly do -- in most ways -- "protect and defend" all of us, that is historically not the whole picture. There is also nothing new in American history about the police force also being an instrument for protecting and defending power relationships, some of which are unjust.

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Democratic Strategist: GOP "embrace of extremism as calculated political strategy worked perfectly"

by: lowkell

Sat Dec 06, 2014 at 12:12:32 PM EST

On Thursday, ACDC Chair Kip Malinosky forwarded me this memo by "The Democratic Strategist" on what Democrats should learn from the 2014 election. Here are the key points, which I strongly endorse.

  • The most important lesson: "the GOP's embrace of extremism as a calculated political strategy worked perfectly. It has invalidated key elements of Democratic political strategy and it is urgent that Democrats now face this reality.
  • "This extremist political strategy of the GOP-reflected particularly in legislative paralysis and stealth campaigning-is a central force behind the two major challenges that face Democrats  today: the enthusiasm gap and the inability of Democratic candidates to expand the current Democratic coalition."
  • "Up until now the combination of stealth candidates concealing the extremist nature of their agenda until elected and the 40 year campaign to discredit the Democrats as culturally alien representatives of minorities and the educated elite has left more moderate Republicans with what they perceive as an completely unsatisfactory choice-to vote for Democrats they deeply distrust or else for GOP candidates with whom on many issues they disagree."
  • "The key to successful persuasion and mobilization of Democratic base voters against the GOP will be to convince them that apparently separate individual issues that motivate them are all profoundly endangered by a coherent and coordinated national extremist agenda that directly threatens all progressive values and goals."
  • "The essential problem this group presents for Democratic strategy is that while they clearly see the consequences of extremist strategy-near complete legislative paralysis and gridlock-they still apply out-of-date concepts to interpret the causes of this problem rather than clearly perceiving the new and unique role of GOP
    extremism. Some, more leftwing drop-off voters, for example, perceive both political parties as equally capitalist in nature and dismiss all Democratic and Republican politicians as equally puppets of big business. Other less radical drop-off voters blame more amorphous notions of "corrupt politicians" and "special interests" in
    general. Still others assume the fault lies in an ethical failure of all politicians as a class to be willing to put aside their personal hubris and to compromise for the greater good. In each case the result is a cynicism about politics in  general rather than an energetic opposition to the extremist strategy of the GOP."
  • "The mainstream media has not only accepted without question the view that the unprecedented political extremism of the GOP is simply 'the new normal,' but has even proceeded to blame Obama for the legislative paralysis caused by the political strategy followed by the GOP. This means that in 2016 and beyond Democrats will find the mainstream media repeatedly excusing, supporting, justifying and enabling the profoundly dangerous extremism of today's GOP."
  • "The most indefensible group of rationalizers and apologists for the new GOP extremism is the mainstream media. The extent of their journalistic 'dereliction of duty' can be seen by comparing it to the behavior of the media in previous circumstances when right wing extremism posed a serious threat to America's political institutions" - the McCarthy era, when the mainstream media played a vital role in finally rallying public opinion against the 'witch hunt' atmosphere and the hysteria that McCarthy's false accusations generated

I'd just add a few points. First, Andy Schmookler has written insistently, here and elsewhere, about the rise of a radical, extremist force in U.S. politics -- the Tea Party of course, but more broadly the Republican Party, exemplified as it is by ignorance, fear, greed, intolerance, anger, and other "lesser angels of our nature." The question is, what do we do about it? Clearly, the first step is to call it out for what it is. The second step is for Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans to turn out at the polls to reject it.
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Comments on the Outrageous Staten Island Grand Jury Decision

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 03, 2014 at 17:12:13 PM EST

I can't even tell you how angry and disgusted I am at this (No Indictment in Eric Garner Chokehold Case for N.Y.P.D. Officer). Is there rule of law in this country or not? If you're not white and/or wealthy, the fact is that the justice system is massively biased against you in this country, and has been for...ever, basically. How on earth is that acceptable in the United States of America in the year 2014?!? It certainly isn't to me, that's for damn sure. Anyway, here are a few comments that sum up how I feel right now, also believe are worth passing along. Also, check out that video and wrack your brain about how a grand jury wouldn't even send this on to be heard in a court of law. I'm just speechless.

Booman Tribune:

It's legal to kill black people in this country if you are a police officer. This is not hyperbole...The whole thing can be captured on film. An illegal chokehold can be used. It doesn't matter. If you're a police officer, you won't even have to explain yourself in front of a judge...The police killed a man and it means nothing. Essentially, it never happened.

New York Times top-rated comment:
Chokeholds are banned by NY Police rules. Yet this officer used one to kill someone.
And yet he's not even taken to trail by jury, out in public. And people wonder why African-Americans protest? He killed a man for selling loose cigarettes, because it upset local business owners. This is what our country has come to. Rule of law? Hardly.

Top-rated comment at the Washington Post:
"Body cameras won't help if cops aren't being indicted for strangling a man to death on camera."

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Need Your Post-Thanksgiving Dose of Extremism and Insanity? Heeeere's Rick Santorum + EW Jackson!

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 01, 2014 at 08:05:13 AM EST

Nope, can't get much crazier or more extreme than the gruesome twosome of E.W. Jackson and Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum. A few "highlights" (lowlights?) from this call include:

  • Big Lie #1: Rick Santorum claims that, for the "first time in the history of our country, the government encroaching in a very very forceful way into people's religious liberty." That is 100% false, of course. If anything, the main assault on religion and tradition in this country is mass consumerism/materialism, aka the "free market." But of course you won't hear that from Santorum or Jackson.
  • Big Lie #2: Santorum claims that "separation of church and state" has never been part of the U.S. political system, while government has forced "religion back into the four walls of the church." This is just blatantly ignorant and false.
  • Big Lie #3: Santorum repeatedly claims that "religious liberty is under attack" by the government. That is blatantly false; in fact, religion in this country is arguably freer than it is anywhere in the world, possibly in human history.
  • Big Lie #4: Santorum claims that ths sentiment, "once you enter into business, you lose your freedom of religion," is growing in America. Also utter bull****.
  • E.W. Jackson says too many pastors have bought into the concept of separation of church and state. Well, yeah, perhaps because that's one of the fundamental underpinnings of our nation?!?
  • Santorum, along with the Family Research Council hate group, is pushing state legislators to watch his crazy/paranoid movie (on January 13, 2015) and to pass something called the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act." Keep an eye out for both those things here in Virginia.
  • Santorum says he's doing "everything consistent with running [for President] in 2016," but "no decision yet." Personally, I say "run Rick run" (if for no other reason than comic relief!
  • Santorum says "separation of church and state" was in the constitution of the Soviet Union but not the U.S.," and that's where it belongs.
  • On Ferguson, Santorum says President Obama has been the "divider in chief," that he chose to "use it as a wedge issue." WTF?
  • Jackson goes on a rant about some member of the "homosexual organization" Human Rights Campaign board (Terry Bean) who is "one of Obama's biggest donors" was charged (along with "his former boyfriend - it pains me to even say such things") with "having sex in a hotel with a 15-year-old boy who they recruited online." Jackson says there's a "virtual boycott in the news" about this (even though it took me a 5-second Google search to find this CNN article about it - whatever). Jackson proceeds to rip homosexuality, claiming it "promotes this kind of behavior" that Terry Bean allegedly engaged in. Finally, Jackson claims that the media won't touch this one with a 10-foot pole, apparently because they are hell-bent on protecting President Obama. Seriously. Hahahahahahaha.
  • Jackson urges Congress to not confirm any Obama nominees, to defund anything they can defund, possibly to shut down the government, whatever it takes to stop Obama's executive order on immigration and to bring this president "to heel"/stop him from "trampling on our freedom."
  • Jackson blasts President Obama for "us[ing] as an advisor Al Sharpton," says "that tells you everything you need to know" - "case closed," there's "something so skewed about his judgment that it's just...or so radical in his ideology that it's just beyond comprehension that we've got someone like that actually sitting in White House occupying the office of the presidency, but that's what we've got." Yep, that's our EW Jackson! LOL
  • Jackson completely blames Michael Brown and completely absolves Darren Wilson for what happened in Ferguson. He further claims that anyone complaining that what happened in Ferguson might represent a form of discrimination/racism is a "race hustler." "These young black boys are going to have to be taught to respect authority...that you don't fight police officers...basic things."
As always, don't forget that E.W. Jackson was the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor of Virginia in 2013. Any further questions about this party?
Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Jim Webb: "We are a country founded not by conquest but by the guarantee of freedom"

by: lowkell

Sun Nov 30, 2014 at 13:01:24 PM EST

I saw this posted on Jim Webb's Twitter and Facebook accounts this morning, and thought it was an interesting post-Thanksgiving topic for conversation. Here are a few of the comments on Webb's Facebook page to kick things off.

Top comment: "'conquest'.....the Algonquin + Lakota have not been in that round-table workshop, i guess."

Second-highest-rated comment: "Jim, want to demonstrate some leadership in your pre-campaign, get into the march to Jefferson City. Otherwise, do something to demonstrate that black lives are just as important as white lives. Right now equal protection for young black males under the law is deficient."

Third-highest-rated comment: "Our constitution is a deeply flawed document. For God's sake it defined black people as 3/5 of a person. It was written totally to preserve the power and influence if the southern slave states - a power that continues today- the power if the minority radical south."

More: "Eh. Maybe not founded on conquest but certainly built on conquest." "Not by conquest? Open a history book for God's sake!" "Sir, you will have to do better than empty, false rhetoric if you want my vote. Let's not try to rewrite history, let us move forward 'eyes wide open.'"

My view is that our nation has made tremendous progress since 1776, but at the time of its founding, it was far from guaranteeing freedom or not being founded/expanded, at least in part, by conquest. With regard to "guaranteeing freedom," as one of my progressive friends put it, "Equal protection under the law wasn't in the original bill of rights." I'd just add a historical fact, that at the founding of the United States, most people were not guaranteed full freedoms, including: African Americans, Native Americans, female Americans, non-land-owning white Americans, etc, etc. To the contrary, African Americans were enslaved through the Civil War, after which the "Jim Crow" system of segregation kicked in for another 100 years. Women weren't given the right to vote until 1920, nearly 140 years after the U.S. constitution was written. The point is, it took progressive change for this country to evolve into the much, much more free and fair country (but far from perfect, as the events of Ferguson yet again demonstrate) it is today.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 420 words in story)

How My Ferguson Piece Evoked a Glimpse of the "Evil Force" That's Risen on the Right

by: Andy Schmookler

Sun Nov 30, 2014 at 12:19:35 PM EST

On Tuesday, just before my Thanksgiving travels began, I posted a piece here titled One Thing I Know about Ferguson. I posted version of the same thing on my Facebook page, and a Tea Party guy of my acquaintance reposted it under the caption, "Andy Schmookler attempts to further dumb down the left."

Here on Blue Virginia, in the comments thread, I made mention of the "discussion" that then ensued, involving a variety of this fellow's political allies, and I described some of what was manifest there as disturbing. That led to some conversation involving several of us as to whether there was anything much "new" going on in the American body politic or if it is now just more visible thanks to the Internet or what.

I am following up here because I tried to provide a link to that Facebook discussion, and simply forgot that Facebook pages are not available to everyone. Let me here, therefore, provide a glimpse into the darkness that (as I saw it) this piece on Ferguson brought into view.

My view is that quite possibly we are looking at a profound and dangerous development in a segment of American consciousness. Not everyone saw it that way, but as I was unable to provide people with access to that material, the discussion was handicapped. I'll provide it now.

First, my piece was very careful to make a single point that did not take sides as to the facts of the shooting and as to whether a proper grand jury process would or would not have indicted Darren Wilson for the shooting of Mike Brown. My piece, rather, was a criticism of the Missouri officials -- the prosecutor, and the governor -- for how they handled the process.

Of those officials, I wrote:

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Letting Money Buy Power Corrupts Our Money System, Too

by: Andy Schmookler

Sat Nov 22, 2014 at 12:18:44 PM EST

This piece appeared recently in the Richmond Times Dispatch.

In its opinion in Citizens United, the Republican-appointed Supreme Court majority pretended it wasn't true. But every sane person knows otherwise: allowing unlimited money to flow into our election process corrupts our democracy. "One person, one vote" gets replaced by "one dollar, one vote," which means that the increasing inequalities of wealth in America subvert the democratic idea of equality of political voice among all citizens.

But less obviously, allowing money to buy political power corrupts not only the political system, but the money system as well.

I used to call out the Koch Brothers, for their campaign to misinform the public about climate change, as being not only immoral but also a kind of crazy. What kind of insanity is it, I asked, for billionaires who already have more money than they and their children and their grandchildren could spend in a lifetime, to damage the future for generations to come, and for life on earth generally, just to get still more money for themselves?

I was thinking of money as something that entitles the owner to get economic goods. And for billionaires like the Koch Brothers, the limit to the goodies they might benefit from consuming or owning has long since been passed.

But in a political system like the one being fashioned by things like the Citizens United  decision, money isn't about acquiring economic goods in the pursuit of happiness. It is about buying the government in the pursuit of power.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 520 words in story)

BENGHAZEEEEGRUBER - Breath - EBOLAAMNESTYTYRANNY!!!!!!

by: lowkell

Fri Nov 21, 2014 at 19:52:28 PM EST

So, now that the Republican-controlled House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has TOTALLY debunked all the right wingnuts' conspiracy theories on BENGHAZEEEEEE, what do they have left? First, a few quick points from the report on Benghazi by (again) Republican-controlled House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. (attention Frank Wolf and other crazy conspiracy theorists, you might want to read this, as it is meant to be the "definitive House statement on the Intelligence Community's activities before, during and after the tragic events that caused the deaths of four brave Americans")

*"There is no evidence of an intelligence failure...CIA provided sufficient security personnel, resources, and equipment to defend against the known terrorist threat and to enable CIA operations in Benghazi...no evidence that the CIA turned down requests for additional security resources at the Annex."
*"...the Committee found no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support."
*"...the Committee found no evidence that any officer was intimidated, wrongly forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement or otherwise kept from speaking to Congress, or polygraphed because of their presence in Benghazi."
*"Appropriate personnel on the ground in Benghazi made the decision to send CIA officers to rescue the State Department officers at the TMF...no officer at CIA was ever told to stand down."
*"The decision to send CIA officers from Tripoli to Benghazi to rescue the Ambassador and bolster security of the U.S. personnel in Benghazi was a tactical decision appropriately made by the senior officers on the ground."
*"The CIA received all military support that was available. One CIA security officer requested a Spectre gunship that he believed was available, but his commanding officer did not relay the request because he correctly knew the the gunship was not available."
*"...intelligence assessments continue to evolve to this day, and the investigations into the motivations of the individual attackers are still ongoing."
*"For her public comments, Ambassador Rice used talking points developed at the request of HPSCI."
*The "CIA, NCTC, FBI and other Executive Branch agencies fully cooperated with the Committee's investigation."

In sum, basically none of the charges leveled in the aftermath of Benghazi by Republicans have proven to be correct. Just as most of us outside the Fox/Rush/Glenn right-wing news bubble figured all along. I just wish the Republican-controlled House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hadn't dumped this report late on a Friday before Thanksgiving, clearly hoping that it would get as little attention as possible. Of course, if the media were responsible, they would give this report as much (or more) attention as they gave to the hysterical, false accusations hurled around by the likes of Mitt Romney, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Frank Wolf, etc. in the aftermath of this tragedy. Oh, and we're also "all ears" for apologies from Romney, McCain, Graham, Wolf et al. Nope, not holding our breaths...

Anyway, now that the BENGHAZEEEEE conspiracy theories have been definitively debunked, by Republicans no less, what will the next crazy conspiracy theory by the frothing-at-the-mouth right wing be?  Well, there's always one of the people Mitt Romney went out of his way to praise for helping develop "Romneycare," Jonathan Gruber, an MIT academic who apparently thinks everyone other than himself is an idiot (but why any of us should care what he thinks is beyond me). Then there's Ebola, of course, but that's so three weeks ago!  Then there's the latest OUTRAGE -- amnesty! tyranny! can we go back to birth cerficates or "death panels?" ;) I mean, Fox, Rush, Glenn, etc, have to have SOMETHING to rant about, right?

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Video: President Obama addresses the nation on immigration (8 pm ET)

by: lowkell

Thu Nov 20, 2014 at 16:39:22 PM EST

It's utterly pathetic (and infuriating) that Republicans in the House have refused to even allow a freakin' VOTE on the bipartisan Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill. If they HAD allowed a vote, it would have passed a long time ago. But noooo. Also keep in mind that most previous presidents, including the sainted Ronald Reagan, have issued executive orders on immigration, so there's a lot of precedent for this (but you didn't hear Republicans scream about Reagan, Bush, etc.). Finally, it's long past time for somebody to address this issue, and I strongly support President Obama doing so, obviously within the bounds of his executive authority.

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

My Two Cents: Nov 4 There Were No Winners; Everyone Lost (Part I)

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 22:44:11 PM EST


(Note: I began this last week but have a problem with my hand that makes typing difficult and painful. Apologies for posting this late.)

Election Day is two weeks behind us, but the conversation and finger pointing will go on for quite a while, if, that is, it is still acceptable to finger point in today's absurd world (snark--you know finger pointing is still OK, but they don't know that at FAUX or in  Minneapolis).

It's safe to say that if the national Democratic leadership, by which I mean the DNC, DSCC and DCCC, along with the major campaigns, don't understand what actually happened on Nov 4th, nothing will change. And the leadership has no clue. So we will have more of the the debacles we had last week. It is clear that they don't get it. And if they persist in their cluelessness, then rank-and-file Democrats need to figure out how to function around them.

It is safe to say that Nov 4th:

1. Everyone lost. But we the citizens lost big time. The 1% has gerrymandered and vote-suppressed us in numerous ways. If only they turned their creativity into solving real problems. But this is a post-Citizens United world and the GOP and their voters are too obtuse to know they lost too. More on this in a moment.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1981 words in story)
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The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

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