At least theoretically, a populist political movement is supposed to be skeptical, or even hostile, to things like out-of-control corporate power, taxpayer-funded corporate welfare, and the undue influence on our politics of the super-wealthy and well-connected. Yet the "Tea Party," which I've seen referred to in the corporate media many times as some flavor of "populist," has consistently been anything but populist, anything but anti-corporate, anything but working for "the people" over "the powerful" or whatever real populist movements do. To the stark contrary, as the invaluable SourceWatch explains:
While promoted as a spontaneous "grassroots" movement, many of the activities of Tea Party groups were organized by corporate lobbying groups like Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity...
In an article in the August 30, 2010 issue of The New Yorker magazine, author Jane Mayer links the billionaire brothers David Koch and Charles Koch, owners of Koch Industries to tea party movement funding...
Reports indicate that the Tea Party Movement benefits from millions of dollars from conservative foundations that are derived from wealthy U.S. families and their business interests. It appears that money to organize and implement the Movement flows primarily through two conservative groups: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks...
Media Matters also lists the Sarah Scaife Foundation as having given a total of $2.96 million in funding to FreedomWorks. The Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation is financed by the Mellon industrial, oil, and banking fortune. The Claude R. Lambe Foundation, also controlled by the Koch family, has donated more than $3 million to Americans for Prosperity...
The Tea Party has also gotten substantial support in the form of promotion from Fox News Channel and its talk show hosts, including Glenn Beck.
In sum, Tea Party members might falsely believe that they're fighting "the man," but in reality they're just tools in a high-stakes game for the benefit of millionaires, billionaires, oil companies, etc. I believe the phrase (ironically) that applies here -- "useful idiots" - is one that used to be attached to "fellow travellers and other revolutionary communist sympathizers during the Cold War." Today, with the Cold War over, I'd argue that the more appropriate use for that phrase is towards the Tea Party and other right-wing, faux-"populist" groups that serve as nothing more than unwitting/witless "propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause."
Case in point: the Northern Virginia Tea Party's invitation to a speaker from "Virginia Energy Citizens," the job of which is to bash wind and solar power while pimping for the continued trashing of our planet by dirty, dangerous, expensive coal and oil. Check out the "Energy Citizens" fossil fuel propaganda site, and the key to the entire charade can be found in the lower left-hand corner, where you'll find hidden away, in small print and almost unreadable (as if they're ashamed or something), the words "Supported by American Petroleum Institute." Also check out SourceWatch's page on "Energy Citizens", and you'll learn the facts:
Jim Webb announced for president earlier today, and I've seen a slew of references in the corporate media (as well as from his supporters on Facebook) to how he's "moderate," "centrist" or even "conservative." In fact, Webb holds an eclectic mix of views ranging from "left" to "right" on the political spectrum. Of course, I suppose if you're lazy and tending towards mindless, you could just average all those views together to come up with "centrist" or "moderate," but that doesn't seem like a particularly sound approach to me. In fact, as you'll see from where Webb stands (at least rhetorically) on several of the top issues facing our country, he's not that much different from the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party in many ways. For instance:
1. Economic inequality: Rhetorically, with his frequent references to "Jacksonian" populism, the "rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and the middle class getting squeezed," as well as to CEOs earning 350 times more than workers, Webb is solidly on the "left" of the U.S. ideological spectrum, not much different than Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders frankly. Webb also "Co-sponsored legislation...to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 over two years" and then to "index the minimum wage to inflation to keep up with future cost-of-living increases." Now, it's true that in practice, Webb hasn't always lived up to his economic populist rhetoric; for instance, he defined "middle class" for the purposes of the Bush tax cuts as earning more than $1 million per year. But at least rhetorically, Webb has long been on the Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders "left" when it comes to income inequality in America.
2. Criminal justice/war on drugs: Webb's definitely on the "left" on this one, speaking for years now about how the "war on drugs" has been counterproductive. Check out Presidential Hopeful Jim Webb Hints At Support For Radical Drug Policy Reform, for instance, which notes that Webb "supports decriminalizing drug use, a position that makes him the most progressive voice on drug policy among the current field of contenders." Webb has also made clear that he thinks we imprison far too many people, calling our system of criminal justice "a national shame, a key indicator of how far we have fallen from our traditional image as an open, fair society." On all this, I bet that Bernie Sanders would strongly agree with Webb, yet somehow Sanders is a "socialist" and Webb is a "moderate" or "centrist," according to the corporate media? Alrighty..
3. Abortion, Gay Marriage: According to On the Issues, Webb said he "never left [the Democratic Party] on social issues and issues of economic fairness." Webb also "Voted NO on prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortion;" "Voted NO on defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP;" "Voted NO on barring HHS grants to organizations that perform abortions;" "Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines." According to Project Vote Smart, Webb received all 100% ratings from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America while he was in the U.S. Senate, and ZERO percent ratings from the anti-abortion and/or anti-gay Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and National Right to Life Committee. Also worth noting: Webb "opposes a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage...backs abortion rights as defined by the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade." With regard to the Supreme Court's recent decision legalizing gay marriage across America, Webb commented on his Facebook page, "The finding on marriage equality is an historically significant historical application of the 14th Amendment, ensuring that our government no longer discriminates but also more clearly defining the separation of church and state." With regard to personal privacy, Webb said many times in his 2006 campaign for U.S. Senate (and afterward) that "I believe the power of the government ends at my front door unless there is a compelling reason to come inside." Basically, Webb is a social libertarian, which is great from my point of view, but I'm not sure that makes him any more "centrist" or "moderate" than Bernie Sanders or any other Democrat.
4. Trade: According to On the Issues, Webb "believes trade agreements should require other nations to improve labor standards and wages." Recall that in the 2006 Democratic primary with Harris Miller, one of the Webb campaign's main line of attacks was that Miller was helping to ship U.S. jobs overseas. Also recall that the Washington Post endorsement of Miller specifically criticized Webb for a "somewhat strident populism on trade policy [that] tends toward xenophobic sloganeering and business-bashing." Again, how is any of this significantly different than Warren/Sanders rhetoric?
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, July 3. Also see President Obama's remarks on the economic progress we've made over the past six years (in spite of the Republicans' desire for President Obama - and with him the country - to "fail," of course).
Jim Webb announces for president, and I do not see the following words or phrases in here: "climate change," "global warming" or "environment." That failure to address what is by far the #1 issue facing humanity - combined with his abysmal record on energy and environmental issues - automatically disqualifies Jim Webb from serious consideration by me, and I hope by any progressive or environmentalist.
P.S. Also note that nowhere in this announcement does Webb note that he is a Democrat seeking the Democratic nomination for president. Of course, given that one of the key members of his inner circle endorsed Ken Cuccinelli for governor in 2013...'nuff said.
After many months of thought, deliberation and discussion, I have decided to seek the office of the Presidency of the United States.
I understand the odds, particularly in today's political climate where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money. I know that more than one candidate in this process intends to raise at least a billion dollars - some estimates run as high as two billion dollars - in direct and indirect financial support. Highly paid political consultants are working to shape the "messaging" of every major candidate.
But our country needs a fresh approach to solving the problems that confront us and too often unnecessarily divide us. We need to shake the hold of these shadow elites on our political process. Our elected officials need to get back to the basics of good governance and to remember that their principal obligations are to protect our national interests abroad and to ensure a level playing field here at home, especially for those who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power. And at the same time our fellow Americans need proven, experienced leadership that can be trusted to move us forward from a new President's first days in office.
And yes, we Democrats are very much enjoying this, not to mention hoping that it goes on...and on...and on...and on... :) Heck, if the Democratic nomination fight is over by the time of Virginia's presidential primaries next March 1, it's almost tempting to go vote in the Republican primary -- for The Donald! LOL
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, July 2. Also see Arlington County School Board Chair Emma Violand-Sanchez announcing a new policy supporting equality and respect regardless of gender identity in the Arlington County Public School system.
(BTW, congratulations to my friend Jarrod Nagurka, who is now campaign manager for Christian Dorsey. - promoted by lowkell)
Arlington-- Today, Christian Dorsey, a Democratic nominee for a seat on the Arlington County Board, commended the Arlington School Board for unanimously voting to update its nondiscrimination policy to prevent discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Dorsey also called for the County Board to pursue amending the Arlington County Code to include gender identity as a protected class in Chapter 31-3 of the County's Code on Human Rights.
"As Arlingtonians we pride ourselves on being a part of a forward-thinking community that values acceptance and respect for those around us," said Dorsey. "Discrimination of any form is wrong, and I commend APS for updating their policy to ensure it mirrors our community's values."
Dorsey continued, "It is important that we ensure that the County also protects its residents from discrimination based on gender identity when it comes to employment, housing, and public accommodation. Fortunately, Arlington has a history of leading the way on LGBT+ issues in Virginia, and is one of only twelve localities to include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy. However, we must do more to protect transgender and gender nonconforming Arlingtonians. I urge the County Board to pursue ways to update the County Code to ensure that people are not discriminated against in Arlington based on their gender identity."
Currently, Arlington residents may file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission if they feel they have been discriminated against based on "race, national origin, color, marital status, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or familial status." Not included is gender identity. Dorsey's proposal would seek to amend Arlington's code to also protect residents from discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Arlington, VA - Virginia is gearing up to play a major role in U.S. progress to address climate change, a new report said today. In the next decade, the state will cut as much global warming pollution as 22 billion tons of coal burned annually.
The Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center report comes as pressure mounts on the U.S. to play a leading role in negotiations for an international climate agreement in Paris.
"The best way to lead is by example," said Nicole Guilfoyle, Global Warming Solutions Organizer with Environment Virginia. "With Virginia's help, that's exactly what the US is poised to do."
The analysis, Path to the Paris Climate Conference, documents expected carbon pollution reductions from existing state-level and federal policies by 2025, including renewable energy standards, fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and regional and state-based carbon caps. Solar can power Virginia 18 times over, and that resource will be expanded under the Governor's state energy plan.
The report shows that state and federal policies underway across the country can reduce carbon pollution 27 percent below 2005 levels.
"You rape our women," Dylann Roof is reported to have declared just prior to shooting nine black people in a Charleston church. And in that, he showed a mentality that reflects something deep in the culture.
It's not just that the idea of the black rapist has a long and sordid history in the South. And it goes deeper than that the accusation was generally a false one.
More than that, it is a mirror image of the truth. It turns things upside down. Black is white, and white is black.
While the image of the black man raping the white woman has been a powerful and deep part of the Southern political culture, the historical reality of the problem of interracial rape was the negative of that picture: i.e., the white man raping the black woman.
The meaning of that is unambiguous: in the history of this nation, many black women gave birth to children sired by white men. When the black women are owned by the white men, it is hardly voluntary. It is plain in the history of many Southern plantation families: white masters forced themselves on black women.
The following press releasew is from DPVA; the clip by homophobic bigot and right wingnut Sen. Dick Black begins at 1:27.
It's been a bad week for Senator Dick Black. First, he is still refusing to say if he agrees with the Governor's actions on Confederate flag license plates. This is notable because Black has previously gone out of his way to support the symbol -- in 2003, Senator Black authored a bill to ensure that the flag could remain on Virginia license plates.
But that's not all:
In the video clip above, Black is not shy about his bigotry and intolerance for Virginians in reacting to the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage nationally. He says "the gay community is quite militant" and vehemently opposes the Court's ruling.
"Senator Dick Black is completely out-of-step with Virginians," said Morgan Finkelstein, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. "In just one week, Dick Black showed a lack of leadership on the Confederate flag issue and a lack of character by insulting thousands of LGBT Virginians. Come November, voters will show him the door."
Great stuff from David Roberts of Grist on the "post-partisan fallacy" and the hard-core nature of the right wing in this country. First, though, some positive thoughts from Roberts about clean energy.
*"It's going to be the growth of cleantech that ultimately forces the climate policy question, and I sort of think we're seeing the early stages of that happening...clean energy getting so cheap that it's starting to shift the politics, mainly at the state level."
Roberts then talks about political polarization in the U.S., which he says "a lot of people still have not really, fully come to grips with."
*In Roberts' view, political polarization is not just a "Washington DC phenomenon" or just about "too much money in politics" and that there's "still this mass of sort-of moderate, centrist people out in the country who aren't having their needs met, and I just think that's wrong...the polarization in the capital reflects polarization in the country."
*"At this point, the U.S. conservative movement has become an identity movement, and part of that identity is opposing anything that Democrats support that might indicate the need for more government programs..more taxing or spending or regulating."
*The "endless quest for the bipartisan or trans-partisan or post-partisan climate message that's going to unite everyone behind sensible policy is, I think, fruitless, has been fruitless, and was always fruitless..."
*What's the alternative strategy other than coming together and joining hands?" "The other stratey is to beat the other side; if you can't win them over, you beat them. You know, this is something you don't have to explain to any Republican, but for some reason on the left, Democrats, the whole idea of winning as opposed to sort-of transcending partisan battles is still a little...alien to them."
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