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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
So, now that the Republican-controlledHouse 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?
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.
(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.
If you needed any more evidence that Democratic "leaders" are wedded to their deadly "stupid policy AND stupid politics" combo approach, which has served them (and us) so well despite it being a complete debacle in every way, today we have yet another prime example -- the Keystone XL Canadian tar sands export pipeline.
For the first time in the six-year fight over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, both houses of Congress will hold a vote on the proposed project, giving each side in a Louisiana Senate election a chance to boost its candidate.
The two lawmakers locked in the runoff contest, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), seized control of the congressional agenda Wednesday, extracting assurances from House and Senate leaders that votes will be held to bypass President Obama's authority and authorize construction of the pipeline.
A large showing of Democratic support for the pipeline could complicate the administration's decision-making process, given the party's dismal showing at the polls last week. Environmentalist allies of the president are solidly against the project and have been doggedly lobbying the administration against approving it.
Yes, here we have the CLASSIC example of both bad policy AND bad politics for Democrats. The bad policy part should be obvious: at a time when we need to be rapidly slashing our greenhouse gas emissions, the Keystone XL pipeline would encourage development of some of the filthiest, most destructive, and also most expensive (around $80 per barrel to product the crap) oil on earth. And, as an added "bonus," the Keystone pipeline wouldn't even directly (or indirectly, for that matter) benefit the US, as this is a project to export Canadian oil to markets in Asia (e.g., China) and elsewhere, while benefiting mostly foreign investors. Oh, even better: the pipeline project would create just "35 permanent, full-time jobs and 15 temporary contractors." That's not "35,000" or whatever, it's a grand total of 35 total jobs. Hell, why not just open a WalMart or whatever, it would probably create more jobs (albeit low-paying ones) and be a lot less environmentally damaging! (snark)
As for the politics of Keystone XL, it's not like it's going to save Mary Landrieu as a U.S. Senator. And even if it did, by some utterly bizarre miracle, it wouldn't save the Democratic U.S. Senate majority, which they've already lost. More broadly, this is NOT a winner with the Democratic base. To the contrary, as a new Pew poll finds, just 32% of liberal Democrats support this boondoggle, with 56% against. Can you imagine Republicans bringing something to a vote where conservatives were against it by a 56%-32% margin? Uhhhh...no. As for Democrats overall, it's 43% support vs. 46% oppose. In sum, on top of being idiotic/crazy policy, Keystone XL is not a winner for Democrats politically either. There's that wondrous combo -- stupid policy AND stupid politics -- which Democratic "leaders" appear to love so much. A few more examples?
The Democrats lost not because they were wrong but because they were weak.
They were weak in their fighting. And they were weak in presenting the values and the kind of America they stand for.
How else but by Democratic weakness can we explain how raising the minimum wage keeps winning by large majorities with support from people who then go vote for Republicans who have fought to block such a raise?
How else can we explain that voters unhappy with the failures of Congress to take care of the people's business will vote for politicians who made it their priority to see to it that Congress could not take care of that business?
The people have bought a raft of lies, and the Democrats have been too weak to make the liars pay a political price.
Now the bullies of the right are coming forward to bully the Democrats some more. This we saw yesterday when the Republican Speaker of the House spoke contemptuously of the President of the United States in a way we Americans are not supposed to talk about a president.
Speaker Boehner warned President Obama against "poisoning the well" (by taking an executive action the Republicans don't like). No one would drink from it anyway after what the Republicans have thrown into it these past six years.
Will President Obama let himself be bullied? Will the Democrats in general respond to their rejection by the voters by acting deferential to the victors?
God, I hope not. That's the last thing we need for the Democrats to do.
Giving more power to a Republican Party that has has been blatantly indifferent to the good of the nation.
Never in American history has there been a party so consistently destructive in its impact on America. Indeed, it is hard to find an instance these past six years when the Republicans have even tried to be constructive, tried to address our national problems.
Never in American history has there been a party so consistently dishonest in its communications to the people.
To know of this unprecedented betrayal of the nation, we have no need of secret tapes or conspirators coming forward to testify. It has been there undisguised, right in front of our eyes.
Yet, yesterday, tens of millions of Americans who are unhappy with "Congress" for its record-setting failure to take care of the nation's business voted for the party that deliberately worked to make Congress fail.
One of the articles that most resonated with me in reading this morning's papers was Democrats only have themselves to blame for upcoming losses by Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post. Not because I would state it so definitively by using the word "only," as I believe there are many factors at work in this mid-term election. For instance, it's just a fact that the party holding the White House in the sixth year loses 48 seats in the House and seven (7) seats in the Senate. Actually, Democrats are likely to lose just a few seats in the House, and at WORST 7 seats in the Senate, so this will actually be better than the historical norm since World War II.
With all that having been said, however, I basically think that Pearlstein nails it when he writes: "What we have here is a failure of brand management - in this case, the Democratic brand." If building a strong brand is about "telling a clear, credible and compelling story about what you've done and what you are going to do...come hell or high water, this is what we are going to be about" (that's Pearlstein quoting David Srere, "chief strategy officer at Siegel + Gale, another leading brand consultancy"), then it's extremely hard these days to figure out what the Democratic "brand" is all about.
Is this the party that fights for the poor? working people? the middle class? the environment? civil liberties? economic fairness and social justice (to quote one of Jim Webb's favorite phrases)? universal health care? If so, you'd barely know it the past couple decades, particularly starting in 1994, when Dick Morris, the "third way," "triangulation," and "the era of big government is over" became staples of the Clinton White House following the Gingrich/"Contract with America" landslide in 1994.
This piece ran in two Virginia newspapers this past week.
How many Americans fit this profile?
1) They are inclined to view politics in moral terms, and it is important to them to be one of the good people and not one of the bad people.
2) Their understanding of the workings of the larger systems in their world - e.g. the US government, and the American and world economies - is limited.
3) Having neither the time, interest, nor background to develop a complex picture of American politics, they welcome a simple way to exercise their duties as citizens. Finding a single issue that can define their political choices serves this purpose.
Millions, I would guess.
To lock in the support of such people, the issue of abortion is perfect.
In "More on the O'Reilly/Stewart Brouhaha: The Right-Wing Urge to Kick Down," I offered one explanation of how non-rich white people can get motivated to kick down on those below them (especially blacks, but also any of those "takers" they like to contrast with the virtuous, hard-working people they like to see themselves as being). It is an old con job, where the dominant class sells a phony picture to induce one group of people they are exploiting to take their anger and frustration out on those below them.
Kick downward at the suppopsdly lazy, good-for-nothing poor, rather than protest upward at the source of the real injustice.
But that explanation doesn't explain the impulse to kick down shown by the likes of Bill "What White Privilege?" O'Reilly, nor by the rich men with whom Mitt Romney sought to ingratiate himself with his "47%" comment.
Surely, part of the motivation for the distortion of reality is that the warped picture provides justification for the elite's lack of compassion for those who suffer under their domination.
But something deeper is going on.
It is not only the poor who experience being the recipient of a downward kick. That template of the downward kick is so ingrained in the culture - at multiple levels, and especially in some parts of the culture - that even many who, in socio-economic terms, are in dominant positions have had profound experiences of that kick-down pain.
Summary: From the perspective of the evolution of life, it can be seen how value is an emergent -- but none the less real -- dimension of the reality of creatures like us humans. Evolution operates on the principle that life is better than death. Operating on that basis, evolution brings into existence creatures who experience that fulfillment is better than misery. That is the foundation of value. and it makes value fully real in every way it could be.
1) the imbalance in intensity in the political battle raging in America is largely due to the deficiency of moral and spiritual passion in Liberal America,
2) this deficiency is the by-product of the worldview that is strong in Liberal America, according to which "value" is considered a matter of subjective opinion, and thus not really real, and there can be no such thing in the human world as "the battle between good and evil," and
3) it is a mistake to believe that intellectually responsible thinking about the evidence of our world requires that we reach those conclusions.
In order to regain its moral and spiritual passions, Liberal America does not have to to embrace the forms traditional religion has used to represent the issues of good and evil. That reconnection can be achieved, by moving further forward along the path of rational, empirically-based scientific knowledge.
In other words, the path of evidence and reason can provide us good answers to those vital questions of value -- answers that can connect us to those deep parts of our human core from which comes the passionate intensity required for this urgent battle.
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