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Posts Tagged ‘John Kasich’

Well, the “lamestream media” are at it again. While channel-surfing today, I caught the “CNN Political Ticker” and wouldn’t you know it, the first item on the list was Sarah Palin‘s Narcissipalooza Bus Tour of the Northeast, where she will likely encounter hostile crowds but, more to the point, hordes of, well, lamestream media. You know, the ones Palin trashes—and whose attention she so ravenously seeks.

I have never seen this mystical charisma Palin is supposed to have. Aside from the fact that she’s a know-nothing hate-monger, she delivers her inane babble in a strident screech that assaults the senses. Of course, the real reason the lamestreamers cover her so reflexively and religiously is that Palin is a perpetual trainwreck, with every earth-shatteringly stupid run-on sentence, every manufactured slight and drama. She’s a “mean girl,” an amoral, petulant, vindictive, self-absorbed adolescent—and these days that’s media gold.

In any event, after the Palin item, CNN’s ticker went on to tell us something or other about Mitt Romney going to New Hampshire. Or maybe it was Iowa–he’s a pathological flip-flopper, after all. Someone who was still listening might set me straight. The point is, that Palin, who has not declared her candidacy for anything, got top billing, while the Mittster got sloppy seconds.

Now, Lawrence O’Donnell and other sharp political minds have pointed out that the odds that Sarah Palin actually will run for President are next to nil. Beyond her base—the extremist Ignoramiat—her approval numbers (especially post-“blood libel”) are in the outhouse. What’s more, holding high public office would mean she’d actually have to learn something and, worse still, do some work. Gone would be the professional celebrity, the reality show, the obscene speaking fees.

But, as Lawrence also reminded us, as long as Palin pretends to maybe possibly kinda sorta run for POTUS—or something—she’ll continue to command the notice she so desperately craves, as well as the big bucks. It had to be killing SarahPac to see Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and the actual GOP Presidential hopefuls—Newt, Mitt, T-Paw and Palin’s stunt-double, Michele Bachmann— hoover up all that press coverage in recent weeks. Not to mention President Obama, that anti-American pal of terrorists who—what was it again? Oh, right, he killed Osama bin Laden. It got so bad that Newsweek actually ran a story titled “Is Sarah Palin Over?”

Well, electorally, she was done long ago. But as a celebrity, not so much. And now, Sarah Palin is back, with not only the bus tour, but a self-produced “documentary” on—what else?—Sarah Palin. And right now, that’s driving the rest of the GOP hopefuls—and strategic geniuses like Karl Rove—as batshit as Bachmann.

I used to beg my journalistic colleagues to ignore Palin; and, yes, I was enjoying her absence. But even as my soul cringes at her return, the Democrat in me welcomes it with open arms, knowing that Mitt, T-Paw and whoever else are pulling out tufts of hair and grinding their teeth to nubs, as SarahPac’s greedy fame-whoring overshadows their efforts to capture press and public interest. The more Palin makes herself the face of the GOP, the better.

Along with Paul Ryan and that rogue’s gallery of Republican swing-state governors—Rick Scott, Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Snyder—Sarah Palin is one of Barack Obama’s greatest assets.

So, Sarah, reload, hit the road and babble on….

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An open letter to liberals—and liberals who call themselves progressives.

When the West Coast map lit up brilliantly, beautifully blue on Nov. 4, 2008, pushing Barack Obama over 270 electoral votes, millions of us experienced a wave of political euphoria the likes of which we never imagined we’d live to feel.

Especially giddy were those of us old enough to remember another, bleaker November night in 1980, when a Hollywood second-stringer named Ronald Reagan swept into the White House, ushering in decades of right-wing policies that carried us into wars; greased the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and working poor; empowered a Christian fundamentalist, social conservative revival that threatened to turn the entire country into Dayton, Tenn., circa 1925; and validated a Lee Atwater-Karl Rove politics of the Big Lie and personal destruction that transformed “liberal” into a synonym for weak and unpatriotic—even, paradoxically, to many who tightly embraced liberal programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Oh, we got  jazzed about Bill Clinton and Al Gore in ’92. But Clinton’s centrism—many feel he governed as a Republican—his genuine personal failings and the relentlessly witch-hunting Right would drain much of the promise from his presidency and leave many liberals disappointed.  With the Supreme Court’s election of George W. Bush in 2000, and the 9/11 attacks, liberal Democrats became more cowed than ever.

But with the Obama ascendancy—after eight endless, disastrous years of Bush-Cheney and three decades of Reaganism—it was our turn. A revival. The dawn of a new liberal/progressive era.

Or was it? Many liberals are driven to distraction by President Obama’s almost obsessive desire to rise above the fray, to be the adult in the room, to reach consensus. We’re pissed because he’s too cozy with Wall Street; we’re pissed about the Bush Tax Cut extension; we’re pissed about the lack of a public option in the Health care bill; we’re pissed about Afghanistan, and we’re pissed about Gitmo and Bradley Manning. We’re pissed that he didn’t do more to plug up the BP leak. We’re pissed that he hasn’t done more to back unions in the Midwest. And in the Mideast, we’re either pissed that Obama didn’t intervene quickly enough to help the Libyan opposition—or we’re pissed that he intervened at all.

Now we’re preparing to be pissed—with good reason, perhaps—that our “middle way” POTUS won’t stand up to the Right and its resolve to destroy Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and all other remnants of the New Deal—and transform the USA into Kochistan.

Personally I agree with some, though not all, of the above. I remain a strong supporter of the President; perhaps my innate realism/pessimism kept me from expecting—and fantasizing—too much. Maybe President Obama hasn’t been a liberal messiah. But he has been an enlightened leader who has accomplished more legislatively than any President since Lyndon Johnson. This while dealing with a dysfunctional Senate, a rightist-rigged Supreme Court and a conservative propaganda juggernaut that has a frightening percentage of the electorate convinced that he’s un-American—or not American, and therefore not legitimate, at all.

(For more on POTUS’ accomplishments , check out http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com.)

How many of us would trade Obama for the deepest, darkest days of Bush-Cheney. Or a return to Reagan? Or, even more terrifying, any of the rightist ideologues now driving the Republican Party, zealots against whom Reagan himself might well lose a GOP Primary.

Why are we saddled with these Koch-and-corporate backed Teabagging extremists? Why are wingnuts like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann given any legitimacy? Why do we see a GOP House trying to eviscerate women’s reproductive rights; why do we see right-wing governors like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Rick Snyder Paul LePage and John Kasich wage war on workers, teachers, firefighters and the middle class, while big business and the wealthy get fatter and fatter? Why do we hear about rolling back child labor laws? Why the talk bout “shared sacrifice”—that is for all but the richest Americans, the ones who can afford it? Why are we threatened with the destruction of social safety nets we foolishly took for granted—and for which many of us have paid for many years?

Well, one huge reason was the “enthusiasm gap” in the 2010 midterms. When millions of Democrats and other moderates-to-liberals said “Meh”  and stayed home, while fired up Teabaggers and righty extremists turned out in droves—along with independents who fell for the bullshit they heard on Fox News, and the lies in Koch-Chamber of Commerce-Rove-funded attack ads.

Whatever the level of one’s disappointment with Obama, the experience of 2010 should be traumatizing enough for millions of stay-at-homes not to make the same mistake again. Especially while the GOP is using the “voter fraud” myth to disenfranchise as many young and minority voters—Democratic leaning voters—as possible.

I still believe that in a second term, with a restored Congressional majority, Barack Obama can accomplish even more than he has in the past 26 months. And even if you remain disillusioned, even it depresses you to vote “against” the GOP instead of “for” Obama, as you did in ’08—get over it.

Think of the havoc a Pawlenty, Romney, a Rubio or whoever else can wreak. On social programs and women’s rights. On the middle class and workers. On the already corrupt Supreme Court. On international affairs.

If you think 2010 was bad….

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I like Dennis Kucinich. After all, how can a liberal not like Dennis Kucinich? The Ohio Rep. one of the most consistently progressive voices in Congress, a true champion of the little guy. And no, the pun is not intended. We all know that every time Rep. Kucinich runs for president, he endures endless abuse, dismissed and mocked on late-night TV as a kind of gnome because of his diminutive stature and what casting agents, with rare diplomacy, call a “character” face.

So Denny K. gets a bad rap. Okay, there was the whole “I was abducted by aliens” thing a few years back, I’ll give the Righties, that. But overall, I am a card-carrying Dennis Kucinich fan, and believe he has served our country with valor and distinction.

Today, though, I feel like gagging the good Congressman and locking him in the basement until, say, Nov. 7. 2012.

Rep. Kucinich has been fiercely critical of President Obama’s intervention in Libya. So have a lot of others, on both sides of the aisle, either out of principle or political opportunism.

Indeed, the response to POTUS’ handling of Libya has been fascinating:

He dithered and allowed the crisis to worsen…

He rushed and didn’t consult Congress….

He’s a wimp…

He’s a warmonger.

(It reminds me of the climactic scene in Chinatown, wherein Jack Nicholson  slaps around Faye Dunaway, as she says of her incestuous offspring: “She’s my daughter!…She’s my sister! She’s my daughter! My sister, my daughter…She’s my sister and my daughter.”)

 Kucinich is in the “didn’t consult Congress” camp. So much so, that he suggested Obama’s action may be an “impeachable offense.”

Dennis, Dennis, Dennis—WTF!? All over America, you could hear Democratic foreheads thudding against tabletops.

 Does that mean Kucinich shouldn’t have criticized the President? Of course, not.  Obama’s actions in Libya are certainly open to spirited debate. Was he within his Constitutional authority, or not? Had he waited, and submitted the matter to a bitterly partisan, politically posturing Congress (he did, incidentally, discuss the issue with Congressional leadership), would that have meant a fatal delay, resulting in a massacre in Benghazi, among other humanitarian disasters? And more accusations of “dithering?”

 But the “I-word,” Dennis? Seriously?

 It’s one thing for right-wing gasbags like Gingrich and Limbaugh to talk about impeaching President Obama. I mean, if a Democrat has the gall to get elected POTUS by a near-landslide, you’ve got to do something, right? After all, the whole birther, Kenyan-Muslim-Commie-Nazi thing isn’t getting a hell of a lot of traction outside the Teabagging GOP base.

 But—call me an Obama Zombie—on the verge of a reelection campaign, it just doesn’t seem like the best idea for Dems like Dennis  to be tossing I-word around like that. Can you imagine Republicans doing that to one of their own—at least, unless it was Sarah Palin, looking for revenge, or a paycheck?

 Of course, we’ve seen how—despite all their talk of gun control—liberals can shoot themselves in the foot with alarming accuracy. In the “Obama’s caving” fervor running up to the 2010 elections, we heard a great deal about the “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Teabag-stoked Republicans. Even liberal lion Ed Schultz—and I’m an even bigger fan of his than I am of Denny K.’s—proclaimed that he was not going to vote in the midterms.

I don’t know if Ed actually voted or not—but now he’s all over the Midwest reminding us that “elections have consequences,” this as GOP governors are crushing the workers and middle class under the weight of tax breaks for the super-rich, and attempting to turn states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan, into Kochistan.

 The world, at home and abroad, is one hot mess these days. President Obama has made missteps, and the Libyan adventure may turn out to be a disastrous one. Recall, though, that our two greatest crisis presidents—Lincoln and FDR—suffered many of the same critiques, accused of everything from weak indecision, to rash tyranny. And they didn’t have to endure the endless, second-to-second harping of the 24/7 cable and internet news cycle.

 For now, according to the latest CBS poll, the public seems to be behind President Obama’s crisis management. And I would wager he’s a heavy favorite to be reelected in 2012. Throughout all our various hot messes, his approval ratings have hovered steadily around 50 percent, and his likability numbers are even higher. His best friend, however, may be a weak GOP field ranging from blandly uninspiring  (despite T-Paw’s attempts to portray himself as an amalgam of Washington, Reagan and Jason Statham) to laughably unelectable.

 But Democrats, liberal and otherwise, can’t take a thing for granted. Political fortunes can change on a dime. Staying home—or protest-voting for somebody like Ralph Nader—on 11/6/12 is not an option.

 Neither is using the “I-word.”

 As Ed reminds us, elections have consequences. And, judging from Republican priorities and performance in the first few months of 2011, the stakes for 2012 could not be higher.

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One of the reasons 67 or so million of us voted for Barack Obama in 2008 was his cool, intelligent, rational demeanor, a welcome change from years of GOP saber-rattling, fear-mongering, bumper-sticker politicking and faux-patriotic bombast. Obama’s Zen focus and “no drama” credo contrasted sharply with John McCain’s erratic truculence; the McCain-Palin ticket promised an itchy finger on the button, with a grinning, winking idiot in the wings.

But at this time of crises, upheavals and catastrophes, domestic and foreign, the President and his political handlers seem to have missed something crucial in his job description. And I say this as a strong supporter, who thinks he’s done an excellent job substantively, and would rather have him in the White House than any Republican, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln. In an interview with Matt Lauer during last year’s BP oil disaster, POTUS said the presidency “is not theater” and that he “doesn’t always have time to perform for the benefit of cable news shows.”

There is something admirable in that, I suppose. But I think President Obama has it wrong. Look back over the past 90 years, since electronic media brought the presidency into America’s living rooms. Who were the most successful chief executives, electorally and in terms of achieving their goals?

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

As far apart as they were ideologically, those two Presidents shared one common gift: They were masters of political theater, using their office not only as a “bully pulpit,” but as a stage. They grasped that a flair for the dramatic was an indispensable quality in a leader. As Jonathan Alter recounts in The Defining Moment, his excellent book on Roosevelt’s election and early presidency, FDR once said to Orson Welles, “Orson, you know, you and I are the two best actors in America.”  And Reagan, of course, actually was an actor.

Privately, both those men are said to have shied away from intimacy; there was something unknowable about them. But publicly both knew how to bond with the country, to be empathetic, to make Americans feel that they cared (Bill Clinton, another two-term President who remains a political rock star 10 years after leaving office, may be the grand master of empathy).

FDR’s speeches and “fireside chats” were tours de force that rallied the nation; not only did he try endless strategies to lift America out of the Great Depression he made sure Americans knew it—made sure it looked like he was doing something.

As for Reagan, he, was the Great Communicator—he, too, knew how to instill confidence. And his “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speech was so effective that some worshippers credit him with winning the Cold War single-handed.

Both presidents made missteps (as a liberal, of course, I’ll argue that Reagan made more of them). But in the minds of all but the ideologues on either end of the spectrum, they are remembered for their successes—and perceived successes.

With his disdain for political theater and public show, and apparent preference for behind-the-scenes problem-solving and negotiation, President Obama is dismissing the “making it look like you’re doing something” part of the job—and he’s missed several opportunities to do so. As Rahm Emanuel famously said, never let a crisis go to waste. The past two years have brought huge crises that cried out for the president to show some stage presence— something more than the occasional briefing to announce that he’s “monitoring the situation.”

The BP oil spill was a golden opportunity for President Obama to show that he’s not George W. Bush, to immediately say he would take control, to declare war on the disaster, to get down there, roll up his sleeves—and yes, do some photo ops. Instead, he took a couple of family vacations. And while a presidential vacation—especially in this communications age—is always a working one, you have to look like you’re engaged.

The pundits call it “optics.” The explosions in the Mideast and the Japanese catastrophe were two other recent instances that cried out for a show of passion. Instead, we saw President Obama offer up his college basketball picks and celebrate St. Paddy’s Day.

Domestically, the president has been less than Rooseveltian in conveying his impassioned determination to solve the jobs crisis—or look like he’s solving the jobs crisis.

As for the upheavals in the Midwest, where Republican governors like Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Snyder seem determined to crush the middle class under the weight of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, I understand why President Obama has been laying back, not injecting himself into these state fights. It has allowed the blossoming of a huge movement that has energized the Democratic base, and pulled blue-collar and middle class “Reagan Democrats” away from the GOP.

But something like Snyder’s attempt to turn Michigan into a corporate monarchy seems to beg for some kind of comment or show of interest. Still, the jury’s still out—this may be one instance where the President’s detachment works, as GOP overreach makes the party toxic in the electorally critical heartland.

History may prove that on substance, President Obama has generally followed the right course. But in the short term, if purely out of political self –interest, he could learn a few things from Roosevelt and Ronnie about White House stagecraft.

Mr. President, tear down this wall—the wall between you and the rest of us.

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Understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”  Barack Obama, 2007

 

Dear President Obama,

I have been one of your staunchest supporters. Along with tens of millions of other Americans–black, white, brown liberal, moderate and even some conservatives– the experience of your campaign and election was one of the most euphoric events of my life, something I never imagined in my wildest dreams.

I saw you as not only the first African-American president, but a transformational leader.

And I still do. Through all my fellow liberals’ criticism of your presidency, I have stood by you. Through Afghanistan, through the tax cut compromise, when you were being called a turncoat—one liberal writer, Roger Hodge, skewered you with a book titled The Mendacity of Hope— I gave you my unwavering support.

I touted your accomplishments. I understood the concerns of the progressive base, and shared many of them. But I also knew the realities of American politics, the complexities of Congress and the fact that if you lose the middle, 2012, and any hope of a progressive agenda, is lost.

I still support you. Ardently. But now, I implore you:

Fulfill your campaign promise to walk with workers facing the loss of their collective bargaining rights.

Go to Madison, Wisconsin.

Perhaps you’re waiting, watching Gov. Scott Walker self-destruct, abandoned by his fellow GOP governors, exposed as a preening fraud by a prankster. Maybe you’re afraid that, by going to Madison you’ll somehow slow down the Walker train wreck.

Then go to Indianapolis. Or Columbus. Or Trenton. Anywhere workers fight for their rights against the conservatives waging war against them, people like the Koch Brithers, who vow to crush them and enact their ideological agenda—no taxes, no regulation, no rules, privatization. Dismantling decades of social progress.

Show the world you stand with them, inspire them with the power of your words, the full force of your Bully Pulpit.

Speak out and inspire the thousands of ordinary citizens massed in the capital, fighting for their liberty.

Show solidarity.

If you have any hope of reclaiming the progressive base, bonding with the middle class¸—the folks Arianna Huffington said you’re “just not that into….” Bonding with the “real” Real America.

Go.

On the night of your election victory you told the crowd in Grant Park, “In this defining moment, change has come to America.”

This is a defining moment. A turning point in the history of our nation.

In Wisconsin, Ohio and across America, Republicans who have vowed to destroy you —fueled by the Kochs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Club for Growth and other groups–are using union-busting tactics to cripple the Democratic Party, weaken it permanently.

Unions are the only large entities that mobilize and organize Democratic voters. They have fought for our workplace rights and for social welfare for generations.

If the unions fall, we all do.

And meanwhile, under the guise of “fiscal responsibility” Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. John Kasich, et. al., are attempting to steal away workers’ rights to collective bargaining, fair representation, vital civil liberties.

For the sake of tax cuts for the wealthy elite and Big Business, for the sake of expanding the ever-growing chasm between rich and poor, between plutocrats and working folks, these anti-government corporate activists are breaking the back of middle class and low-income Americans.

All while wrapping themselves in the flag.

This is more than a matter of your personal political fortunes. It is a moral imperative. You will be accused of high-handed interference. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin will call you a Marxist dictator. Or a Fascist dictator. Or a Nazi.

In the words of John Boehner: So be it

Go.

This is not a time for centrist diffidence. It is a time for passion and emotion and conviction.

The conviction shown by Wisconsin Democrats who fled their state in protest to deny their legislature a quorum.

The courage of teachers, cops, firefighters, nurses and students who, by the thousands, now crowd the state capital of this cradle of progressivism. “Real Americans” the Right-Wing attack machine now calls un-American.

This is not about a budget. This is about the survival of the Democratic Party, and the survival of liberalism, the liberalism that forged so many of the rights Americans now take for granted.

And the survival of American workers.

There is one person who can overcome all the corruption, all the poison, that the Kochs and Walkers of the world—and the Foxes and the Palins– are injecting into American politics.

You. With that Bully Pulpit. Now is the time. The 2012 campaign will be too late. There are many who said–unfairly, I believe–that your reaction to the uprising in Egypt was too slow, too cautious.

This isn’t Cairo. This is Wisconsin. It’s America. It’s home.

Mr. President:

Go.

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