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Update: ‘The Fighter’ bails on Brown
“I can’t support Scott Brown,” Ward said. “I just can’t do it.”
Within 30 minutes, Ward either did some Googling or someone close to him reminded him about where Brown stood on some hot-button political topics.
“I found out Scott (Brown) is anti-union and I’m a Teamster guy,” said Ward. “I found out he’s also against gay marriage and I say if you love someone you should have the same rights no matter who you are.”
The conservative folks in America have been making quite a bit of hay with this quote by President Obama:
If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.
In an effort to distract from the refusal of Mitt Romney to release more of his tax returns, the GOP noise machine has focused on the quote above, flogging it like the proverbial dead horse.
So convinced in the focus group tested power of this meme, the Romney campaign crafted this TV ad:
“My father’s hands didn’t build this company? My hands didn’t build this company? My son’s hands aren’t building this company? … President Obama, you’re killing us out here. Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we built this business. Why are you demonizing us for it?”
The problem is ….
Pardon me while I spike the ball. This is a (another) “Huah” moment. Ne Desit Virtus (”Let Valor Not Fail”)
Senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan on Monday, US officials say.
Abu Yahya al-Libi, variously described as daring and charismatic, was becoming a familiar face to the jihadist movement through his appearances on the internet.
American counter-terror analysts have long argued that killing individual al-Qaeda leaders degrades the organisation by forcing the promotion of less experienced operatives. Drone strikes, they say, make al-Qaeda look vulnerable and undermine its global standing.
Behind the drone operations, of course, lies an unseen intelligence operation which fed US commanders knowledge of Libi’s whereabouts. We can’t know how that worked, but we can speculate that it involved the use of satellites and drones to track militants, listening stations to intercept their communications and agents on the ground to provide first-hand information.
The reach and apparent effectiveness of US intelligence in the region may well be as of much concern to al-Qaeda’s leadership as the death of their comrade.
Washington believes that following Osama Bin Laden’s death last year, Libi, an Islamic scholar from Libya, became al-Qaeda’s second-in-command after Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahiri.
If I’m gloating, it’s not as a soldier. It’s as an “Obama Democrat.”
Don’t be a chickenhawk! Vote Democrat in 2012.
In the first six months of its existence, the CFPB fielded 13,210 complaints from consumers via its phone line and online submission forms, as well as referrals from other regulators, the report said. Of those complaints, 9,307 were tied to credit cards, with another 2,326 pertaining to mortgages.
On credit cards, billing disputes were the most common complaint, totaling 13.7 percent of responses for that financial product. Under the mortgages category, 38.2 percent of complaints deal with a situation where someone is unable to make their mortgage payment.
The team at the CFPB devoted to responding to consumer concerns processes the complaints, and then sends them along to the company that is the subject of the complaint to offer a chance to respond.
So far, a little over half of the complaints received have been settled between the company and the consumer “with relief.” Another 30.6 percent have been settled without a mutually agreed upon remedy, while companies are still reviewing another 11.9 percent.
Remember, this is an agency hobbled by Republicans who prevented Obama from appointing a director until he out of frustration did a recess appointment (arguably, despite the “open session” the Republicans “kept” during the holiday break). It’s an agency which is already somewhat underfunded and under severe attack by Republicans who’d love to totally starve it, if they stay in any sort of power.
Here’s a personal account of a woman who needed the CFPB’s help, with rave reviews.
And here is a front-page dkos post outlining how fast Scott Brown is running from his nearly-lockstep Republican voting record. Because, you know, a moment talking to Obama and agreeing with him on politician “insider trading” makes him a total independent/liberal/moderate.
There are two issues here. One is that Scott Brown is running scared from Elizabeth Warren. This is not how it was supposed to play out for Senator 41, the hot new Republican celebrity of the big Republican year of 2010. Massachusetts Democrats were not supposed to be able to find a candidate with a compelling biography, a strong voice on economic issues, exceptional media skills and enormous fundraising ability… But then Elizabeth Warren emerged, and Scott Brown had to start fighting for his political future—and if that means cozying up to Obama, he’ll do it.
Of course, as the post says, the lazy media will probably try to let him get away with that. So we can’t let them do it.
Please, if you can spare some change, donate to Elizabeth Warren via our Lowell for Warren page!!
While Colbert and Stewart lambaste our Citizen United world with hilarious satire and extreme tactics, the Senate race in Massachusetts is having a quiet discussion all its own, with a pact between Brown and Warren (both sort of take credit, though it does appear Warren is the one to suggest something more binding). The pact, in case you live under a rock, is that any money spent for or against a candidate in the race by outside groups will be matched 50% from the candidate it benefited towards a charity of the other candidate’s choosing (thereby hurting the candidate it was supposed to help).
Even though this whole back-and-forth seemed a little gimmicky, and I felt at first that all we really needed was a strong, unequivocal condemnation from both sides, this pact does have some pretty interesting implications. For one thing, it’s an unprecedented candidate-driven pushback against the CU ruling, an acknowledgement of the damage of unregulated, unknown spending. We expect there to be a legislative pushback (so far, unsuccessful) or maybe eventually a constitutional one, but to be coming from two major candidates, that says something particular - a “we don’t want your help, your money, get out” from the parties involved.
There are concerns about whether or not certain deep pockets could get sneaky, create a SuperPAC that pretends to be for, say, Warren that runs ads against Brown, thereby costing the Warren campaign 50% of that ad buy - but I don’t think this will happen. For one thing, that SPAC has to spend double what it’d cost the candidate to make ads in support of them, and even if you make it kind of heavy-handed hoping it will backfire (look totally Rovian, for instance), you’d still be taking a risk of making a big ad buy that hurts the candidate you truly support.
Even more interesting, is will this stop the outside money? The Globe ran an interesting comparison of this pact to the 1996 Kerry-Weld agreement to not spend more than $5M on TV ads. Kerry broke that pact, claiming Weld already broke it by having an unfair low cost to his ad buys. Whoever did break actually it, it got broken.
Leaving us to wonder, is this really going to work?
[Weld’s communication director] Gray projected outside groups will spend up to $20 million in what is being pegged as a $60 million race - $20 million apiece by Brown and Warren, assuming she wins the Democratic nomination, and another $20 million from groups interested in their candidacies.
The League of Women Voters and the League of Conservation voters have already aired over $3 million worth of ads attacking Brown’s record, while a conservative group, Crossroads GPS, has aired over $1 million in ads attacking Warren’s.
If we’re already $4M into possibly $20M or more in ad buys for or against candidates from outside groups, can a pact like this stem the tide?
I think it will, at least for a little while. I’m certain the pact will get tested, though, so the question remains, will both sides stick to it to the detriment of their campaign, since the numbers here are not small? I’m less cynical about this, because the backlash from breaking this one is not one either campaign can afford. Warren, because she banks her campaign on her commitment to the middle and working class and to fairness, openness, and transparency - a break from her would undermine that. And Brown, whose poll numbers are not where they should be for an incumbent, can ill afford to look like the schmuck in all this.
I doubt Warren, at least, entered into this lightly. Brown either, for that matter. It’s a test of resolve against the tide of insanity that is the money flow in campaigns these days. In the end, I think I’m just glad someone’s willing to appear to put up or shut up. So, kudos to both sides. Now, let’s have the real, substantive debate from the candidates that Massachusetts deserves. Something that might well be possible when we’re not drowning in ads from outside groups.
There’s a good discussion at BMG, and also, what do YOU think? Gimmick, unenforceable, brave move, or something in between?
Nothing showcases everything that is wrong with our post-Citizen’s-United world today, than the entertainment industry’s complaints about the SOPA/PIPA fight (bold text mine):
Hollywood bought its politicians, and it expects them to stay bought
Talk about everything that is wrong with government.Leo Hindery, a major Democratic donor whose New York media private equity firm owns cable channels, said Obama might have reason to worry about his entertainment industry fundraising base.
“[The bill] is an issue that has no business being decided politically – by anybody on one side or the other – and the fact that it might be becoming a political issue is unfair to the content producers,” said Hindery, who’s contributed more than $3 million to Democratic candidates and groups.
Ah, yes. There’s an expectation that throwing money at Congress and the White House will lead to decisions being made for, well, financial reasons, as opposed to valid policy ones.
I can’t think of a more blatant we-bought-you, so-stay-bought! worldview than that.
Here’s the bottom line—how many people are lining up behind the pro-PIPA/SOPA forces? How many regular Americans are fighting alongside the studios? How many petition signatures has the MPAA and RIAA gathered from its customers?
The answer is none. There isn’t an industry more disdainful of its audience than these self-styled “content producers” (as if they’re the only ones producing content). And while they aren’t busy trying to kill new technologies like the VCR (and the internet), or pre-accusing their customers of being criminals by flashing that insulting FBI warning before every video that they’ve bought, or suing teenagers and parents for posting videos of their babies dancing to commercial music, then they’re working the congressional backrooms to screw the broader public.
I couldn’t say it much better than that. This industry has been behind every resistance to innovation and progress since the friggin’ radio. And every time, it’s proven that if they’d just change and adapt accordingly, there’s a ton of money to be made (see: iTunes)! But they let someone else beat them to the punch every. Single. Time. While they grasp like drown victims to their sinking ship.
If Democrats are going to lose Hollywood (industrial) support, so be it. Good effing riddance to a bunch of whiny, petulant, privileged, unethical, hide-bound marketplace LOSERS. And Democrats, I expect much more from you on this front. We should not be Republicans, to be swayed by an industry forking over gobs of of money in order to get a very bad bill (for the rest of us) passed. We should be better than this.
This country is in very deep trouble until we can fix the “corporations are people, my friend” stranglehold of the Citizen’s United and other Supreme Court rulings. Nothing will change until that does.
Update: This Mark Fiore cartoon is super awesome (and snuggly!)
Meet Scott Brown’s campaign tracker, the guy designated to hit the opposition’s campaign events and tape stuff, on the off chance he’ll get some sort of macaca moment on camera. It’s a boring job of listening to the same campaign pitches over and over with the tiniest outside chance of catching something worthy of one of the MA GOP’s astoundingly awesome (for us, pathetic, for them) edited-videos-and-audio-out-of-context.
This shot I took was near the end of Elizabeth Warren’s volunteer meeting in Lowell today (packed like all the others and a great event), as she was talking to a reporter and then getting in her Toyota to leave. (more…)
Two years ago, City Councilor Patrick Murphy pioneered the use of the new media in municipal campaigns. He has continued that practice in this election. Here is his latest video. I like it, not only because I participated in it but because I believe in its message.
I spent most of Friday during the day in Boston, at Dewey Square, taking in OccupyBoston. I brought all the donations I could scrounge up (for instance, my entire adult history in mothballed bed comforters and towels) and hoped to hang around and get some video interviews and stories I could tell. Instead I wound up volunteering for a web project they needed - I thought my time would be better spent utilizing my skills as a developer rather than working on Occupy content and publicity for a small, local blog.
I haven’t written much here on the Occupy movement in the last few weeks, though I’ve been more than keenly following it online. There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head that I’ve been paralyzed from writing an essay-length post about it, although if you follow my Twitter account, the Facebook page which features many of the tweets, or keep up with @leftinlowell on the left sidebar here, you’ll know that I’ve been a very active author about OccupyBoston and OWS in the 140-character arena.
I could write a lot (and may yet) about what I found at Dewey Square on Friday - the strong sense of community, amazing solidarity, the organic means of organizing they employ - but many others have written about that already and you can find reams of pixels devoted to covering the news and day to day life of Occupiers.
But this afternoon, I found the 140 character limit failing me, and as I said in a direct response to an inquiry, needed a full blog post to explain my feelings and thoughts, specifically regarding the pressures that the Occupy movement is and will face in the coming weeks and months. Via @BostonPhoenix, I found this short description (and full video) of a Harvard political panel hastily formed to facilitate a discussion of the Occupy movement, including visiting fellow Ed Rendell, former Governor of Pennsylvania.
A far greater percentage of the audience than of the panel had actually spent signiicant time at an Occupation — Williamson has spent time at #OccupyBoston — but that didn’t stop anyone from speculating or projecting.
Rendell is not alone — especially and not surprisingly among Democratic politicians — in wishing that some of the enthusiasm of Occupy would carry over to the ballot box. What Democratic politicians have been very slow to acknowledge is that many Occupiers are as sick of Democrats as they are with banks — and are not enthusiastic about the possibilities of a two-party system they see as being hopelessly corrupted by corporate campaign contributions.
As a thoroughly committed progressive electoral political activist, I have, and will continue to, volunteer my time to electing good candidates at all levels of government, turning out the vote, encouraging voter participation, and going to the polls myself. It’s the least I can do for my democracy. But as an electoral activist, one who also has some experience in movement politics (the anti-war Bush era) I want to caution the Occupation against giving in too much to the powerful forces that would love to squeeze out this amazing energy for their own use.
There are so many pieces of evidence I could use to back that up. The most obvious is to look at what happened to the Tea Party movement. Although I am in total opposition to just about everything the TP stands for, the movement at its inception was grassroots at its core, expressing anger at the status quo. (I don’t argue about the need for such anger, but the TP is, at least in its current incarnation, gravely wrong on who was to blame.) Even one of its founders, a conservative blogger, now repudiates what it’s become - a front group for the financial backers of the Republican party and its politicians.
Or look at the Obama 2008 campaign. The enthusiasm of young volunteers and voters was part of the reason he was propelled to such heights of popularity. They were fired up, ready to go. And when they got there…they got some of what they wanted, sure. At least a modicum of health care reform. A half-measures stimulus package for jobs that turned out to be only partly effective - because the downturn was steeper than anyone knew, and because a third or more of the stimulus was ineffective tax cuts instead of direct stimulus spending. He has had a weak stomach for the fight…the opposite of a firm, demanding executive branch leader that we so need…instead, “capitulating” and “pre-compromising” are the catchphrases that come to mind about Obama’s first term.
Obama also put Wall Street execs into his economic brain trust. Wall St certainly doesn’t love this president, but if you were looking for them to enact policies against greed and corruption, you were sorely disappointed…besides the Elizabeth Warren-driven Consumer Protection Agency, we extracted no price from the financiers - not jail time pursued where possible, nor reigning their excess in, or asking them to pay their fair share of their own ridiculous bailouts.
The last of which, along with prolonged unemployment woes, prompted the Occupation movement to begin with.
If I have any advice for the burgeoning Occupy movement - if I could make any appeal at all to them that would matter (and by them, I do mean us, since I will continue to do what I can to support it), it would be this: if you allow yourselves to be coopted and pressured to work on elections, driven by the necessarily short-term thinking of electoral activism, you will be distracted from your larger goal, and you will be disappointed, time and again.
There are a few reasons for this, some inevitable in any circumstance, like the fact that we cannot all agree, even with those we agree, 100% of the time. I eased out of the anti-war movement because of the 2006 campaign for Governor Deval Patrick, swept up in the enthusiasm of what he was trying to accomplish, and believing that I could be more effective as an electoral activist than trying to change the stubborn mind of the Bush administration on its war policies. Choose between bashing my head on a wall repeatedly, or use a hammer to break through? Give me that hammer!
And in some ways, in some campaigns, you can be more effective as an electoral activist; ask for, and receive, real and lasting change. I am largely proud of my Governor, and the work I did to elect him. He has been an effective economic leader to say the least, nevermind his progressive support for gay rights, and for most social programs (your mileage may vary). But even I have had my enthusiasm for his tenure brutally dampened at times, especially now, that he, who should be smart enough to know better, has been on the forefront of the impending legalization of casinos. I have been disappointed, even in the best of our leaders, enough to distract me from more far-reaching goals.
If I can be disappointed in someone like Deval Patrick, just imagine the disappointment around a second term of Obama.
You can’t take on everything. Neither individuals, nor movements, can afford to be divided in their efforts or their aims. And in the end, electing more and better leaders will not change the system. That system is so broken, electing a Patrick or a Warren or this or that individual is like a plank trying to hold back a tide. The system needs fundamental uprooting and replanting, and no amount of progressive electoral politics (save the entire corps of incumbents being ousted and replaced wholesale at once by a massive grassroots effort of small donors and volunteers) will truly address the core problem at hand.
Electoral politics is about fraying the cloth of the “system” at the edges; Occupation should be about reweaving the entire bolt.
I have some ideas to propose (well one overarching, giant idea, really) of how Occupy can do this, for once, and for all. It’s an uphill battle so massive, so stacked against us, so big of an effort that just to think it makes me shiver in fear and excitement. But it is the only inevitable conclusion I can come to when thinking about the future of our country and how to right all the wrongs. I am talking about a constitutional amendment to rescind corporate personhood and the ruling of the Supreme Court that money equals speech.
All of what is broken with our system is about money and influence in our politics. Global climate change cannot be addressed because of the massive amount of money being pumped into stopping the regulation, and reversal of, carbon dependence. Economic justice is being thwarted by financial contributions from banks and Wall Street, so that the concept of going back to Clinton-era taxes on the wealthy and capital gains (money making money, as opposed to work making money) is nigh impossible to argue. And so on, and so on, and so on. If in a democracy being elected depends on monetary support, and people with more money can support more heavily than the rest of the 99%, then who will ever listen to the 99%?
A constitutional amendment is a big hill to climb. It’s a long-term hill, it could take a decade. It could take more. The money arrayed against such an act would be astounding - if you think Wall Street spends money on politics now, wait until you try this out.
However, no amount of cash is going to convince the American people that the system is working as it is, or that Citizens United was a good idea, or that corporations should have rights as though they were people. If lasting change is what Occupy seeks, than the moment is now.
But whatever form, and eventual goal, this movement takes on (if indeed it does not peter out after we see the economy rebound after some new temporary economic bandaid that puts off the inevitable real crash that I feel is coming) it needs to think beyond 2012. Beyond 2014, or 2016. Beyond the cyclical electoral process.
If that means fighting the pressure from Democratic politicians to elect them, as well as ignoring the temptation to help enact near-term policy bandaids, then as a staunch Democrat, I say, so be it. What you lose in short term gain is far exceeded by the long term possibilities.
I can’t help thinking that much of our future is dependent on what this nascent movement called Occupation does next (but no pressure!). And, I would love to be able to say at the end of all of this, “Our Democracy is dead…long live our Democracy.”
I’ve been following (mostly online) the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston protests since nearly the beginning. They got traction and coverage on blogs and Twitter long before the media was covering it - in fact, before the unprovoked pepper spray incidents that made the news, the only place to read about what was happening was online.
The media complained that they weren’t cohesive enough and there wasn’t news to cover. Well, that has quickly changed and evolved. For starters, there were some very bad decisions from the NYPD - both institutionally, and by some idiot individuals - which put the protests on the map for the media, and solidified the motivation of participants and supporters. What’s more, it seems the organic sort of organizing that has sprung up has - and I have to use the word evolved again - to meet the challenges of running a protest, dealing with the media, finding a set of demands to articulate why they are angry and not going to take it any more. OWS has spokespeople and media tents and a strong online presence - all while being relatively leadersless in the traditional sense.
In some ways, my personal cynicism alert flag is up. (Yeah, I know, I’m too young to be truly cynical…) I spent years organizing with the peace movement against the Iraq war, butting my head up against the sheer stubbornness of the Bush administration and, later, Obama’s. After all, GitMo is still open, the USA PATRIOT Act was reauthorized and is being used to spy on Americans without due process, we’re still in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan though with some troop drawdown, and Obama even unilaterally bombed, for right or wrong, Libya, without the consent of Congress.
The only satisfaction we got out of our fight was that most of the American public got on our side after a while. But it still reelected Bush and let itself be lied to about Kerry’s war record and ability to lead, and we never got a truly different kind of leader to replace him in 2008, either. Obama put Wall St executives in charge of the economy even after it was evident they were full of shit.
But there is something really interesting happening with Occupy[America]. For one thing, it’s just average citizens (not diehard liberals or extremely informed people like me) who are protesting. Photo after photo, interview after interview, this is very evident.
There are so many people in this country who have been foreclosed on, laid off, unable to move forward, that a segment of them, with nothing left to lose, are truly taking the fight to the streets. Since they have nothing left to lose - no middle class lifestyle, no prospects - they have a lot to fight for. I always said the worst part about being an anti-war protester is that most of our citizens, even when sympathetic (and the majority was by the time I left that movement) are busy with their lives, making their livings, feeding their families, going to soccer games, and being generally content that things aren’t that bad for them, personally. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s totally human, and what’s more, a legacy of the last century of American progress. We built the middle class. A country with a middle class able to make ends meet is a relatively politically stable country. It’s a good thing.
Which is why I think there is something different in the air.
Gradually, we’ve seen the erosion of the buying power and the salaries of the middle class. For so many decades before, our children did at least a little better than their parents. Then, since the Reagan era, we started to see the slide. We began to only tread water…then occasionally swallowed some. Then we began drowning, but we as a people were the last to see it happen.
Even in the 2008 economic meltdown, we failed to notice our lungs filling with something other than air.
This generation of young people really are the first who truly believe - nay, who know - they are not destined to do better than their parents. Unlike the spoiled kids of my generation (raised largely in the 80s and coming of age in the 90s), they see the coming tide sweeping over them and pulling them under the water before they even get a chance to begin. They are left behind. And they know that if they do nothing, it will only get worse. They have nothing left to lose.
They join every one of their older siblings, parents, grandparents who have lost a house, a job, a future, despite being of the generations born with more promise. For some of us older ones, we’ve experienced firsthand how it’s gonna be going forward if there are no changes. For the rest of us older ones, we are beginning to understand how fragile our position of comfort is. The OccupyWallSt movement presents this to us in bas-relief - the notion that the middle class is under siege and has been for quite some time.
The thing that is different from now from these previous movements is that the situation that has caused these long term problems is not going to be alleviated by last generation’s leaders. Obama is cut off at the knees to even patch a pathetic temporary band-aid (the jobs bill) on our economic slide by Republican intransigence. And even Obama’s half-measures would probably only prove to elongate the stagnation, not solve the underlying problem. We’re now seeing the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us reach the levels seen right before the 1929 crash. Eventually, this was going to get noticed by someone. By everyone.
Even the Tea Party movement, while misguided to the extreme, is an expression of this loss of power by the average person. Why did they catch fire? Despite being such a minority of even the Republican party? Because poor and middle class Republicans too are suffering in this economic climate, this class warfare on us by the super-wealthy. They just aren’t right on who to blame for this.
Most of America, on the other hand, already knows what and who is to blame. They already overwhelmingly want to see taxes raised back up on the uberwealthy. They know that Wall St needs taking down a peg or three, and that we need to go back to regulating our economic system so that the playing field becomes level again. They just need the energy to look up from their day to day struggles against the tide, to look up, and see that horizon again.
I don’t know where the Occupy movement is going to go. It seems to change and swell bigger by the day, though it could have an upper limit, I suppose. But if this truly is the moment where the American people reach the tipping point, if this is the straw that, finally, after 30 years of straws, breaks the camel’s back, then maybe we can make the changes without the economic crash that I have been foreseeing for years. That crash (which will make 2008 look like cakewalk) could still be coming. But if we organize enough in advance, if we can offer an alternative to the American people now, perhaps we will not lose a decade like they did in the Great Depression. After all, we have history to inform us how best to rebuild the American middle class and spread prosperity around to everyone.
So, occupy on! There may not be an immediate result, but it could offer a long term solution. Hats off to the most powerless among us.
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