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National Politics

A Tale of Two Warriors: Part II-- Press the Battle

by: Andy Schmookler

Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:46:57 AM EDT

It is wisely said that one cannot please everybody. And so I have had it confirmed for me lately when a friend of more than 40 years standing wrote to me to express his distaste for my choice of an icon to serve as the graphic for my present campaign, "Press the Battle."

Of this image, my friend wrote that he disliked the symbol, found it a turn-off: "It strikes me as more male-chauvinist macho stuff."

It should be said of my friend that when I met him, in 1971, he was recently retired as a major from the United States Marines, where he had pursued a military career. And it should be noted that he has since been an increasingly dedicated opponent of American militarism, a major figure in the organization, Veterans for Peace.

Of course, at some level, my friend is right. This image -- derived from a piece of 18th century statuary found at a palace in Berlin-- is as much emblematic of the "problem of power" as was that previous warrior image (described in Part I) in the ancient rock painting from the Algerian Sahara.

But in another, I think more urgently important sense, I believe my friend's reaction is off the mark. More "urgent" because I believe my friend is missing the tragic, but essential truth of our predicament in America today.

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Barbarians At...and Inside the Gates

by: va_lady2008

Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 09:23:15 AM EDT

As the GOP (more on just what exactly, the "party stands for" in a moment) becomes ever more strident, doctrinaire, and enforcing of its orthodoxy not just on itself, but on the rest of us, it sees, somehow, that its power just might be slipping away.

Is it any wonder they're afraid?

A long time ago, someone explained to me that progressives and liberals are always open to doubt, which conservatives exploit, because they are certain they are right. Conservatives harbor no doubt, and deny that anyone else has a right to a different opinion.

All opinions that are not theirs are wrong. Diverging from this group think is treated not just as treason, but as a kind of religious apostasy. I'm surprised they don't physically crucify the transgressors, although anyone who's been at the wrong end of the lashing foul tongue of Rush Limbaugh might have preferred that.

When challenged, even from the inside, the tendency is to circle the wagons and shoot first, without asking any inconvenient questions. Their problem is that they're so busy pointing their "open carry" iron at one another, they're disgusting the mostly silent majority in this country.

We now see the full stinking bloom of their attitude, on the racist side in Ferguson MO but in many other places, mostly undocumented; on the misogynist side, pretty much everywhere; on the side of the poor absolutely everywhere; and are properly appalled.

Some progressives, of the live and let live variety, of which I truly wish to be a part, bear at least a small share of the blame, because we refused to return unfriendly fire with even more unfriendly fire, allowing things like "false equivalency" to bloom, as if some made up notions with no demonstrable basis in fact is equivalent to real facts, faced squarely.

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Video: Blast-From-The-Past as "TEA Party merges with anti-immigrant lobby in PW County, Virginia"

by: lowkell

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 17:34:45 PM EDT

Eric Byler, director of the superb film 9500 Liberty (a must see!) -- about the anti-immigrant movement in Prince William County, Virginia, and the courageous people who stood up to it -- just posted this video (from July 4, 2009) on his Facebook page. Here's Eric's description:
A hate watch organization had asked me to film it. I had no intention of going, but I did at their request. I posted the video for their edification only, and never shared the link with anyone else until now. Prince William County, of course, had been the scene of an ugly but effective politicization of anti-immigrant sentiment for the 2007 election, and the battle had continued into 2008 as the film 9500 Liberty shows.

I haven't re-watched the video. But my recollection 5 years later is that several anti-immigrant activists recognized me early on and some of them tried to stop me from filming by standing in front of the camera. I think you will see this in the video. I had to go hand-held so that I could get out of their way. And when I did so, I stood right next to the largest of the men. He didn't touch me. He just said, "Well isn't that nice," or something to that effect.

The reason why the hate watch org. was interested was that a representative from FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) was scheduled to speak, and on conservative entertainment channels and websites, this was being touted as the long-awaited merger of the anti-tax TEA Party with the anti-immigrant FAIR (and likeminded organizations).

The event was held at the Prince William County government center in Woodbridge, VA where many of the most memorable scenes from 9500 Liberty take place.

Chilling. Disturbing. Totally f'ed up. Any other descriptions you'd care to add to this video? Oh, and thanks to Eric Byler for his tireless, courageous work exposing extremism and bigotry like this.
Discuss :: (3 Comments)

A Clear Sign Obama & Co. Are Looking to Take Out ISIS

by: Andy Schmookler

Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 13:21:38 PM EDT

There are a variety of indications in recent days that the Obama administration is gearing up to mount a war of sorts against ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Here's one more indication that, so far as I know, has not elsewhere been interpreted in this way.

The first paragraph of a Huffington Post article reads:

Ben Rhodes, the White House's Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications & Speechwriting, said that journalist James Foley's execution at the hands of the Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as ISIS, constituted a terrorist attack.

The spokesman goes on to make a reasonably plausible case for regarding that killing as "a terrorist attack" against the United States. Rhodes notes that ISIS committed this "brutal execution" explicitly because Foley was an American, and declared that this constitutes "an attack on our country, when one of our own is killed like that."

While it is not unreasonable, then, to regard it as a terrorist attack, the important point to note is that this spokesman of the administration has gone out of his way to make that case.

The only explanation I can think of representing the murder of one journalist in this expansive way is that he is making the case -- to the American public, and to Congress -- for regarding this killing as a provocation to which the suitable response is to revive the "war on terror," at least to a degree and with suitable authorization, with ISIS as the enemy.

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Video: Jim Webb Interview in Iowa Fuels 2016 Presidential Talk

by: lowkell

Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 17:34:14 PM EDT

Fascinating interview with Jim Webb by Iowa Press (yes, Webb's in Iowa...hmmm) a bit earlier today; here are a few key quotes:

*Asked if he's running for President in 2016, Webb says we're in a "transitional period in the country," that we "need to have a strong debate inside the Democratic Party and between the two parties" about where we need to go, and that "I'm curious about the political future of the Democratic Party and of our country."

*Asked how he feels about Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, Webb says "I think there's time to have that discussion later." When pressed by a reporter, "Why not now?", Webb responds, "It would probably take up the whole show."

*Webb reiterates his three themes from 2006, emphasizes "economic fairness and social justice" and how "the stock market has almost tripled since March 2009" but "real income for workers actually has decreased in the same period." Webb says things are not going well for working people in this country, and the "solution for that is only going to come from the Democratic Party."

*Webb says he doesn't believe the phrase "don't do stupid stuff" is a fair characterization of the Obama Administration foreign policy, that "it's a very complicated world right now," that the "pivot" to Asia for instance was "healthy" and "good." Webb also praises the Obama Administration for the "careful way" it's approached the Ukraine situation.  

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DLCC Launches $70 Million-Plus "Advantage 2020" Effort Starting with 2014 Cycle

by: lowkell

Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 21:08:02 PM EDT

I sure hope this works, but no matter what, it's great to see Democrats FINALLY focusing on the crucial state legislative races that really determine who controls Congress (and the country).


-- $70 Million-Plus Effort Starting with the 2014 Cycle –

Washington, D.C. (August 21, 2014) – Together with a roster of Democratic state legislative leaders from across the U.S., the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) launched today in Minneapolis, MNAdvantage 2020, a major effort by the DLCC to help Democrats win elections and level the playing field in order to be successful in the next round of redistricting.

Advantage 2020 is the result of the DLCC’s analysis of the electoral opportunities that exist in all 50 states in 2014, as well as an examination of the electoral and demographic changes that are expected this decade.  In this assessment conducted jointly with Clarity Campaigns, the DLCC determined that Advantage 2020 will require an investment of a minimum of $70 million over the next four cycles.  This investment has begun in 2014, and the DLCC expects to increase the level of investment significantly in each cycle thereafter.

Much is at stake in the next round of redistricting. Partisan control of Congress hangs in the balance, as do policy outcomes in every state capitol.  During the past two redistricting cycles, Republicans have cashed in their legislative power to draw maps to favor their own special interests.  As a result, we have seen ultra-conservative measures passed at the state level and a Tea-Party Congress that is no longer held accountable. Our politics are broken and blocking Republicans from blatant gerrymandering is a critical step in fixing our system.

Fundamental to the DLCC’s 2014 activity to move Advantage 2020 forward is the organization’s investment in 33 states.  This funding is supporting efforts to:

  • Build a solid political infrastructure in more states than ever before, including 19 states where Republicans currently enjoy control of both state house chambers and the Governorship;
  • Implement the Grassroots Victory Program (GVP), the DLCC’s program that helps ensure that the advantage Democrats enjoy at the national level is replicated at the state level;
  • Position Democrats to take back majorities in WI, PA and MI, three states where Republicans are currently in complete control, as well as to hold key chambers in MN, CO and NV, among others; and,
  • Target gains in other states such as NC, FL, and GA.


Michigan Senate Democratic Caucus Campaign Chair Rebekah Warren said, “In 2010, Michigan voters tried an experiment in which they gave Republicans control of not only both statehouse chambers, but also the Governor’s mansion and the state Supreme Court.  What Republicans have done with this power has resonated negatively in districts across the state: unfair tax policies, disinvestment in education and attacks on women’s healthcare.  The result is that voters realize that they need a new alternative to this Republican extremism.   Through the DLCC’s Advantage 2020, my Democratic colleagues and I can level the playing field in way that enables voters to elect legislators who are committed to passing policies that matter most to Michigan citizens.”

Minnesota Speaker of the House Paul Thissen said, “If there is anything that Democrats can learn from Minnesota, it is that elections matter.  Because Democrats successfully seized control from Republicans in both legislative houses, Minnesotans now benefit from new investments in education, equal pay for women, an increase in the minimum wage, tax fairness, expanded healthcare with the nation’s lowest insurance rates, marriage equality and the first balanced budget in a decade.  We support the DLCC’s Advantage 2020 because we believe that it is important for voters in other states to have the opportunity to benefit the type of public policy agenda that Minnesotans enjoy today.”

North Carolina House Democratic Leader Larry Hall said, “As a direct result of 2010 redistricting, the North Carolina legislature became among the nation’s most aggressive bastions of radical Republican policies.  As North Carolina’s Republican supermajority gave tax breaks to the wealthy, it was working families, teachers and students who picked up the tab.  In addition, redistricting is what allowed Republicans to roll back the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of eligible voters across the state.  The voters of North Carolina deserve a choice, and the DLCC’s Advantage 2020 gives Democrats a way of reversing Republicans’ unfairly gerrymandered maps.”

DLCC Executive Director Michael Sargeant said, "DLCC Executive Director Michael Sargeant said, “To position Democratic success in 2021, Advantage 2020 requires an ‘all hands on deck’ approach.  The range of variables included in a 4-cycle, 50-state strategy is vast, and the DLCC will work closely with state legislative leaders, Clarity Campaign Labs, and other partners to assess the electoral opportunities in each state and direct resources accordingly.  Our resources alone will not ensure Democrats’ success, so we will pull together all interested parties to ensure a coordinated effort.  Advantage 2020 is no doubt a large undertaking, but it is commensurate with the high stakes of future election cycles and the challenges ahead.”

Clarity Campaign Labs’ co-founder and partner Tom Bonier said, “Clarity Campaign Labs is proud to help give Democrats running for office at every level access to the same powerful targeting and modeling that are being used by national organizations.  Because much of our work has been on the state legislative level where crucial decisions about redistricting are made, we are excited to partner with the DLCC to put Democrats in the driver’s seat.”

#  #  #

Guided by its mission to produce winning Democratic majorities in state legislatures, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) builds and maintains the progressive infrastructure that enables Democrats to protect and pick up legislative chambers and seats across the country.  Since 1994, the DLCC has followed a 50-state strategy that allows Democrats to go on the offense in state capitols.  Most recently in 2012, Democrats won eight new majorities and netted nearly 200 legislative seats nationwide.

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A Rush to Judgement vs. The Rush To Shoot

by: Coy Barefoot

Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:59:01 AM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

I continue to be baffled by those (mostly "conservatives") who keep wagging their fingers and warning us against any kind of "rush to judgement." What about a rush to shoot?

Your government rushed to use chemical agents, rubber bullets, and technology designed for waging war on foreign enemies- all against peaceful citizen protestors. Tear gas and bullets were not used during the looting, but against peaceful protestors in their own neighborhood.

You go on and on about an oppressive big government violating your freedoms- but when armed agents of the state violate the freedoms of poor black people, you wag your finger and tell us not to "rush to judgement."

You look the other way when it happens in a poor black neighborhood because you're thinking to yourself well, that's a dangerous place full of thugs so they probably deserve it, those people have to know their place.

Here's the point: those are RIGHTS that are being violated, rights that are no less sacred when held by poor people or held by men and women of color.

You allow armed agents of state power to form a domestic army that violates the rights of human beings in an impoverished neighborhood, then I can absolutely and without qualification promise that they're coming to your neighborhood next. It's not a matter of if, but when.

Today it's the parking lot of a convenience store on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri. Tomorrow it's the parking lot of a grocery store at Barracks Road Shopping Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.  

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Not a Word from Ken Cuccinelli and Other Supposed Lovers of "Liberty" on Ferguson, MO

by: lowkell

Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 11:29:21 AM EDT

You know how Ken Cuccinelli and other hard-right Republicans are always going on and on about how much they (supposedly) love "liberty?" Of course, most of us know that's utter bull****, that the only "liberty" they actually care about is: a) the right of corporations and the super-rich to do whatever the hell they want to do regarding workers, the environment, whatever; b) the ability of big government to tell people what they can and can NOT do in their bedrooms; and c) the efforts of fundamentalists to move America towards a religious theocracy. Other than that, it's obvious that Cuccinelli et al. don't in any way, shape or form care about "liberty," at least not how the Founding Fathers envisioned it, or how you and I understand it.

Ferguson, Missouri proves this once and for all: with all the frightening, horrifying, disturbing, disgraceful, and intolerable things we've seen go down in Ferguson, Missouri the past few days, with clear violations of ACTUAL liberty by police, including blatant trampling on First Amendment rights (e.g., the rights of the press to report on events), you'd think that all these "liberty"-loving right wingnuts like Ken Cuccinelli would be screaming from the rooftops about this situation.  You just KNOW that if the races were reversed, and it was a majority BLACK police department putting down WHITE protestors (and killing a WHITE man) that they - Cliven Bundy types, etc. - would be going NUTS (on Fox, Rush, etc.)!

Instead, what have we gotten? See below for two screenshots from TRUE libertarian Doug Mataconis' Facebook page and you'll have your answer. I also checked Ken Cuccinelli's Facebook and Twitter feeds, and saw absolutely NOTHING about the Ferguson situation (lots of ranting and raving about Barack Obama). So yeah, as Doug Mataconis says, "If you have been spending the last 5 years talking about 'Liberty' and aren't outraged by what's happening in #Ferguson you're a hypocrite." I'm talking to YOU Ken Cuccinelli - and others of your ilk (Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Mitch McConnell, Eric Can'tor, John Boehner, E.W. Jackson, Mark Obenshain, etc.). Where's your outrage not just at Ferguson, but at the same stuff (militarized police forces suppressing people's actual liberties) going on all over the country? Crickets.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Suing the President: Another UnAmerican Step for Today's GOP

by: Andy Schmookler

Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 20:51:35 PM EDT

This piece has just appeared in newspapers in my conservative 6th Virginia congressional District. This is part of my practicing what I preach when I say that Liberal America should be bolder in calling out the  Republican Party for the destructive, dishonest, and disgraceful force it has become in our times. In my newspaper op/eds, I try to challenge the supporters of the Republican Party in terms that will not be easy for them to dismiss.

Any genuine conservative, any real American patriot should be outraged at the way the Republicans are treating the President of the United States. Our founders did not envision any president being treated this way.

The latest affront is the lawsuit the House Republicans have brought against the president. That suit should ring an alarm bell for conservatives because it is unprecedented in American history. To a conservative, what is unprecedented is inherently suspect: There's likely a good reason it has not been done before.

But this suit is just the latest episode in a disgraceful story.

Never before has the party in opposition made its top priority to stop the president from accomplishing anything. And, with the House of Representatives controlled by the Republican opposition, never before has a Congress accomplished so little. Republican obstructionism has intentionally prevented the system our founders gave us from dealing with grave challenges. This is a record no patriot should celebrate.

Lest anyone imagine that Republicans have obstructed because the president's proposals are extreme, note that Republicans in Congress have blocked measures - on gun control, immigration, minimum wage - that are supported by large majorities of Americans, favored even by majorities of Republican voters. Republicans have also regularly opposed their own ideas once the president favors them.

It is only at the superficial level that the object of the Republican assault is President Obama. This is an attack against the system of government our founders gave us.

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Just Say Know

by: Coy Barefoot

Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 06:23:43 AM EDT

just say know.

1. The United States has less than 5% of the world's population, yet about 25% of its prisoners.
2. The incarceration rate in America is the highest in the world. We lock up more of our own people than any other country on the planet. The "land of freedom" is the world's jailer.
3. The U.S. prison population is about 2.4 million people: nearly as big as the city of Chicago and twice as big as Dallas.
4. The number of people behind bars in America has grown four-fold (quadrupled) since 1980- despite the fact that violent crime rates have gone down.
5. Approximately 1 of every 99 adults in America will go to sleep tonight behind bars.
6. Our prison population of 2.4 million people means 2.4 million people who are clothed, housed, fed, doctored, monitored, and given recreational and work opportunities every hour of every day of every year - by the government.
7. About 14% of America's prison population is in federal prisons.
8. "The single largest driver in the increase in the federal prison population since 1998 is longer sentences for drug offenders."
9. "The average inmate in minimum-security federal prison costs $21,000 a year. The average inmate in maximum-security federal prisons costs $33,000 a year."
10. "Federal prison costs are expected to rise to 30 percent of the Department of Justice's budget by 2020."
11. The most serious charge against more than half of the country's federal prison population is a drug law offense. Only 4% are behind bars for robbery. 1% for murder.
12. America spends more than $51 billion every year in the war on drugs.
13. 1.6 million people were arrested in America in 2012 for NON-VIOLENT drug law violations.
14. Two out of every three people behind bars in state prisons on a drug offense are black or Hispanic, even though these groups use and sell drugs at similar rates as whites.
15. With big investors on Wall Street, the prison industrial complex is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in America.
16. The use of prison labor is booming as well, especially in providing clothing and supplies to the U.S. military. In 2013, federal inmates sewed more than $100 million worth of military uniforms.
17. A 2012 report found that "All told, nearly a million prisoners are now making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing."
18. This is not about right or left. This is not about Republican vs. Democrat. This is about freedom. America is sick. Rotting from the inside out. We have turned our backs on her, and we have ignored her cries of pain. But it is not too late. We have the cure. We have always had the cure right here in our own hands. It's called liberty. Demand it. Now. Enough is enough.

Best-selling author and historian Coy Barefoot is the host of Inside Charlottesville.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Everything One Loves Under Threat

by: Andy Schmookler

Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 16:24:24 PM EDT

I was born less than a year after atom bombs leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So, like all my generation, I grew up with the knowledge that everything I love might be destroyed-- my family, my nation, the heritage of human cultures, the web of life on earth.

With the end of the Cold War, that threat has receded -- at least temporarily -- if not altogether disappeared.

But once again, I have that same feeling: that everything I love is under threat. The same, but different.

While we lived in the world of Mutual Assured Destruction, there was a particular mega-event that would or would not occur. And we would either be able to continue on as usual, or we would speedily descend into a fiery abyss.

The destruction was hypothetical (and only during the Cuban Missile Crisis did it seem possibly imminent). And meanwhile the world went along essentially intact.

Now, the rise at the center of the American power system of a force at once so destructive and so powerful, so benighted and so thoroughly enmeshed in the nation's political and economic systems, and in the minds of a large component of the American people, has once again put everything I love under threat.

I don't know if my children and grandchildren will live in a democracy, or in a plutocracy as ruthless and unprincipled and dishonest as the current machinations of the Koch Brothers.

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Video: Conservative David Brooks on the "Palinization" of the Republican Party

by: lowkell

Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 06:40:38 AM EDT

From last night's PBS NewsHour. Conservative David Brooks and liberal Mark Shields also pondered the question of who will step up in the Republican Party to take on far-far-far-right-wing Ted Cruz. So far, the answer is "noone."
This is about the Palinization of parts of the GOP. This is not about passing legislation, not about...we should craft some compromise...with the other side. This is about making a statement that will sound good on Fox. And so, they want to make a statement that will sound good on TV or will sound good at a town meeting, but it's not actually about governing...

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Why Is the World "a Mess"?

by: Andy Schmookler

Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 12:56:57 PM EDT

"To put it mildly," former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the other day, "the world is a mess." With crises in the Ukraine and Gaza and Syria and Iraq, among other places, it is hard to quarrel with Ms. Albright's assessment.

Which raises the question: Why? What is it that accounts for a marked rise in the level of disorder in the world?

Let us consider first those possible explanations that emphasize the American role in this growing disorder. The premise here -- and it is one I think is substantially valid -- is that the United States has played such a pivotal role in the creation and management of the order of the world since World War II that anything that damages the American performance in that role can readily ramify into problems in the international order.

One theory is that this disorder is the result of the inept conduct of foreign policy by the man who has been president of the United States for the past five and a half years, Barack Obama.

This is the theory pushed by the Republicans, of course. But as I argued in a recent piece, "You Can't Tell Time by a Stopped Clock, we can discount whatever the Republicans say against this president, because they attack him over everything.

However, it is not only Republicans who have expressed criticisms of Obama's handling of foreign policy. Other more honest critics have faulted his handling of the Israeli-Arab problems-- and if one ends up distrusted by both sides, that does seem a sign of less than brilliant diplomacy. Criticism from serious people has also been directed at Obama's handling of the Syrian civil war.

My own assessment -- as one who worked in the international relations field in an earlier era, but who does not have in depth knowledge of world affairs currently -- is that Obama's performance has been adequate overall, if not masterful. (I'd guess he deserves something like a B-.) It has rarely been obvious to me that, whatever the difficulties with the course the president has taken, there were any better options available to him.

In any case, Obama's performance in navigating the United States in world affairs has plainly been far superior to that of his predecessor, George W. Bush (and his for-a-while de facto foreign-policy-president Dick Cheney).  

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Glenn Beck as "The Music Man," Playing on the Fears of Parents

by: Andy Schmookler

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 09:56:16 AM EDT

On Tuesday, July 22, Glenn Beck spoke from some 700 movie screens to Americans who paid admission to hear him attack the "Common Core." The "Common Core" consists of standards, offered to the states, defining the knowledge and skills that American school-children should learn at each stage of their education.

Beck's move here reminded me of "The Music Man," the con man in the musical of that name who comes to an Iowa town to fleece the good people there. What Beck and the con artist in "The Music Man" have in common is that to accomplish their own hidden aims they tap into the anxieties that parents have regarding their children.

What the Music Man was selling were fictitious musical instruments and band uniforms, and he did it by playing on parental fears of corrupting influences on their children (fears aroused by the arrival in town of a Pool Hall, which starts with 'P' which rhymes with 'T' which stands for 'trouble').

Beck's pitch against the Common Core is selling a different fear: that the federal government is seeking to take control of their children away from their parents for purposes of indoctrination.

I do not know enough to judge whether or not the Common Core would improve our national educational performance. (Despite being the son of teachers, and having myself taught at both college and high school levels, I do not claim to know what is required to greatly improve the education of America's children.) But I do know enough to feel sure that there is nothing nefarious about the proposed national standards. The Common Core seems to be a good-faith effort -- wise or not -- to address a genuine national problem of educational attainment that lags behind that of many other advanced democracies.

But I suspect Beck's campaign is not really about the Common Core, or about the education of our children, any more than the Music Man was offended by a pool table. I suspect there's another reason altogether why he's working on American parents with this particular paranoid pitch.

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The Fraudulence of the Republican Party, and the Adverse Shift in the Balance Between Good and Evil

by: Andy Schmookler

Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 19:29:00 PM EDT

In recent years, I've been deeply troubled by an adverse shift in the balance of power between good and evil forces in America. The evidence for that shift is plain to see in the damage that's been done in recent years to so many of the dimensions of American civilization. Clearly, the forces of destruction have gained ground at the expense of those forces that work constructively to improve the nation.

An important factor in this shift is a stark mismatch between the generally fine values of people like many of my rural Virginia neighbors and the goals and practices of the political force to which they give their support.

Most of my neighbors believe in conservative, patriotic, and Christian values. The Republican Party gains their support by claiming to be a champion of those values. But in these times, those claims are false: what today's Republican Party is serving is the very opposite.

Genuine conservatives, like many of my neighbors, understand that traditions are there for a reason, and should be honored and respected. But today's Republican leaders, though claiming to be conservatives, trample America's political traditions. Meanwhile, they misdirect their followers' attention to a few issues of concern, like abortion and gay rights, that have one important characteristic: they don't get in the way of the Republicans' deeper agenda -- transferring wealth and power from average Americans to those who already have the most.

Our country has had an established way, for example, of dealing with the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling has been raised, as needed, more than 80 times without a crisis because both parties know the full faith and credit of the United States is too important to play politics with. But, today's congressional Republicans swept that tradition aside in 2011, as no real conservatives would, to extort concessions to advance their political goals, and in 2013 they tried the same kind of blackmail again.

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Right-Wing Extremists Ken Cuccinelli and Rand Paul Come to Arlington

by: lowkell

Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 10:27:26 AM EDT

Not sure what the folks in the crowd think they're getting with Rand Paul (he's certainly no Libertarian, but "a standard-issue right wing extremist with a few opinions outside the GOP norm on military issues"), but here are his Project Vote Smart ratings:

*National Right to Life Committee - Positions (June 4, 2014) 100%
*Planned Parenthood Action Fund - Positions captured January 9, 2014 (reflect past 6 years' voting record) 0%
*NARAL Pro-Choice America - Positions 0%

*Animal Welfare Institute - Compassion Index 0%
*Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund - Positions 0%

*Human Rights Campaign - Positions on Marriage 0%
*FRC Action - Positions 100% (note: the Family Research Council has been designated as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center)

*Americans for Prosperity - Positions (Jan. 7, 2014) 100% (note: this is the Koch brothers' group)

*National Education Association - Positions 0%

*Gun Owners of America - Positions 100%

*Federation for American Immigration Reform - Positions 100% (note: FAIR has been designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center)

*American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) - Positions 0%

*The John Birch Society - Lifetime Score 94%

*Disabled American Veterans - Positions (Senate only) 0%

*American Civil Liberties Union - Positions (captured June 17, 2014) 27%

And a couple more, as if all that's not bad enough:
*Arab American Institute - Positions on Arab-American Issues 6%
*National Journal - Conservative on Foreign Policy 79%

Also check out these Rand Paul quotes, including that the "fundamental reason why Medicare is failing is why the Soviet Union failed -- socialism doesn't work" and "if you think you have the right to health care, you are saying basically that I am your slave." What a guy.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

AG Herring Helps Successfully Defend Virginians' Access to Healthcare Affordability Tax Credits

by: lowkell

Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 13:27:54 PM EDT

Good news from Virginia Attorney General Herring's office, partially counteracting the outrageously a wrong/absurd decision by the right-wing judicial activists on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals this morning. Fortunately, the DC Circuit Court decision was so absurdly wrong that it will almost certainly be overturned by the full court ("en banc") and/or by the Supreme Court. Still, it's frightening how a bunch of radical, right-wing, "Federalist Society" judges have screwed up the federal judiciary so badly. THIS is a classic example why elections matter, and why we need to keep electing Democrats to the White House, Senate, etc. for the foreseeable future...


~ Virginia filed an amicus brief and presented oral argument supporting 177,000 Virginians who have already received financial assistance on exchanges ~


Richmond--Today, in unanimously affirming the lower court's decision in King v. Sebelius, now King v. Burwell, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Attorney General Mark R. Herring's position that Virginians are eligible for financial assistance to help them afford insurance purchased through the federally-operated exchange. Because of this ruling, at least 177,000 Virginians will keep an annual average of $3,048 in financial assistance they are already receiving. Attorney General Herring filed an amicus brief in the case and Virginia delivered oral argument defending the right of low- and moderate-income Virginians to access thousands of dollars in assistance to make healthcare coverage more affordable.


"If our tax dollars are helping working families afford healthcare then I will fight to make sure that working families in Virginia have equal access to that assistance," said Attorney General Herring. "Today's ruling is welcome news for 177,000 Virginians who have already purchased a plan and received financial assistance, and for those who may purchase healthcare through the exchange in the future. I'm glad the Fourth Circuit was not convinced by the specious arguments of the plaintiffs, which were based on strident opposition to anything related to the Affordable Care Act."

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 339 words in story)

GOP Mayor Marching to DC to Save Rural Hospitals Will Meet with Virginia Governor McAuliffe

by: lowkell

Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 13:53:04 PM EDT

I just received this from Eric Byler and wanted to pass it along:

(Richmond, VA) On Tuesday, July 22 at 2 p.m., Belhaven, NC, mayor Adam O’Neal (R), will meet with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) to discuss the need for Medicaid expansion and rural hospitals. Mayor O’Neal and his supporters will have completed 160 miles of their 14-day, 273-mile march to Washington, DC, where they will ask for the assistance of President Obama, the Department of Justice, and members of Congress.

“A ‘non-profit’ corporation that makes over $100 million per year, with $540 million in reserve, wants to cherry-pick the well-insured patients out of our rural community, but they don’t want to let us keep a critical access hospital we’ve had for 60 years because it will create competition,” O’Neal said. “Whether it’s Virginia, North Carolina, or anywhere in America, you tell someone that and they’ll say ‘That ain’t right.'”

Vidant Health, Inc., which enjoys a near monopoly in eastern North Carolina, recently purchased the Pungo District Hospital and closed it down on July 1. A placard next to the sealed emergency room door instructs people to “call 911.”

Thousands of rural North Carolinians were already traveling more than 50 miles to reach Belhaven’s emergency room. Now, they have more than 80 miles to go for emergency care. Mayor O’Neal will carry with him a framed photo of Portia Gibbs, 48, who died on July 7 waiting for an emergency helicopter. The photo was given to him by her 24-year-old son on the first day of the march.  

Governor McAuliffe has been fighting to expand health coverage by accepting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which would insure as many as 400,000 Virginians. McAuliffe has made the argument that forgoing federal dollars which are then spent in other states is killing jobs and endangering rural hospitals. In eastern North Carolina, O’Neal has experienced exactly that.

What:    Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to meet with Mayor Adam O’Neal, and Save Our Hospital supporters

    Hon. Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Commonwealth of Virginia
               Adam O’Neal, Republican, Mayor of Belhaven, NC
               Bob Zellner, legendary Civil Rights activist, former field secretary of SNCC

  Tuesday, July 22 at 2 p.m. (ET)

  The Virginia Executive Mansion, Capitol Square Richmond, VA
Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Video: Rev. William Barber on the "snake line" and U.S. politics

by: lowkell

Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 11:12:20 AM EDT

Speaking at Netroots Nation Thursday night, is this guy - the driving force behind the "Moral Mondays' movement (note: this has been covered extremely well by Annabel Park and Eric Byler) in North Carolina - amazing or what? Here's a partial transcript of the conclusion to his powerful, hour-plus speech/sermon. Preach it, brother!
...don't walk out through the valley but climb up the mountain to higher ground...Snakes live in the lowland, but if you go up the mountain there's something...called a "snake line;" snakes can't live above it...they're cold-blooded animals and they die.

Well, in America, we've gotta get our politics above the snake line...There are some snakes out here. There are some low-down policies out here. There's some poison out here. Going backwards on voting rights, that's below the snake line. Going backwards on civil rights, that's below the snake line. Hurting people just because they have a different sexuality, that's below the snake line. Stomping on poor people just because you've got power, that's below the snake line. Denying health care to the sick and keeping children from opportunity, that's below the snake line.

But I stopped by to tell you, there's got to be somebody that's willing to go to higher ground, higher ground, where every child is educated; higher ground, where the sick receive health care; higher ground, where the poor are lifted; higher ground, where voting rights are secured...Neighbor, we've got to take America above the snake line...America is better than this. It's time to go above the snake line...

When I go up in the spirit and I listen to the Lord sometimes...I heard the Lord say...Tea Party may endure for a night, Koch brothers may endure for a night, oppression may endure for a night, but hang in there, make your way to higher ground...

Great speech, very if only everyone would listen to this. Speaking of which, why was the room only half-full for Rev. Barber? That's seriously screwed up (of course, scheduling Rev. Barber for 9 pm on Thursday night, when people presumably were just arriving, might have something to do with it).

P.S. Note to "Bishop" EW Jackson: this is what Christianity really teaches, and this is what a real Christian - one actually channeling the message of peace, compassion, common good and brotherhood preached by Jesus - really sounds like.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Gotta Agree with Kos on This One

by: lowkell

Sat Jul 19, 2014 at 12:28:28 PM EDT

I've never attended Netroots Nation, in part because I have no particular desire to spend hundreds of dollars of my own money to do so, but also in part because I never really saw the point. With the bizarre, brain-dead decision of Netroots Nation to hold their 2015 thingamabob (whatever it is exactly) in Phoenix, Arizona (the state being Anti-Latino-Immigrant Central, pretty much), there's less reason than ever to attend (although perhaps the corporate media, which otherwise could give a crap, will cover it just because there now will be "controversy," which they LOVE?).

Is there a broader point here? In my view, there is. Namely, that Democrats, liberals, progressives, environmentalists, etc. should try to live their values as much as possible. No, nobody's perfect, but I see no reason why we shouldn't try, to the extent possible, to...

*Boycott horrible companies like Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A, and refuse to purchase products that enrich the Koch brothers, or support companies that pay their workers slave wages, etc, etc.

*Support businesses that DO conform to our values.

*Work to reduce our adverse environmental impact - carbon emissions, trash, meat consumption, water runoff from our roofs and yards, pesticide usage, lawns vs. native plants, etc. - in our personal lives.

*Choose to travel to, hold conferences/do business in places that we feel good about, and avoid places that do bad stuff like discriminate against whole groups of citizens.

*Refuse to appear as guests on Faux "News" or other right-wing propaganda channels, which in my view convinces none of their viewers/listeners, but DOES help lend them legitimacy, as they can claim they allow "both sides" to air their views and that they are thereby "fair and balanced." One of the most egregious examples of this was President Obama agreeing to an interview with hatemongering right wingnut Bill O'LIElly. That was utterly inexcusable on both moral and political grounds (e.g., it was wrong morally AND it didn't help Obama politically in any way).

Again, we're all human and none of us are perfect, but we can STRIVE to live our values as much as possible. In the case of Netroots Nation, last I checked there are 50 states in this country, including many that are far superior to Arizona in terms of reflecting the progressive values Netroots Nation stands for. Not that they care about my opinion on this, since they didn't even care about Kos' for god's sake (WTF?!?), but I strongly advise them to rethink this truly stupid decision.

Discuss :: (16 Comments)
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