This is Donald Kaul’s first column since last December. Check out the comments from his delighted fans on otherwords.org.
Dick Tuck, the legendary political prankster and wit, once ran for local office in San Francisco and lost. His concession speech, in its entirety: “The people have spoken — the bastards.”
Now, you know me — I wouldn’t say anything like that about the recent elections. It’s vulgar and I’m couth.
Perhaps it’s safer to quote the Sage of Baltimore, H.L. Mencken, who said: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
The 2014 midterms were a Mencken moment.
It was a disaster for the Democratic Party, of course. They lost every election that was possible to lose and a few that weren’t. But it was an even greater disaster for the American people.
Faced with an onrushing manmade climate crisis, U.S. voters have now elected a congressional majority that denies global warming. (Did I mention that it’s also a majority financed by oil, gas, and coal money?)
Burdened with a reverse Robin Hood tax structure that robs the poor to give to the rich, voters elected the people who are most adamant that the rich, the richer, and (most of all) the richest be taxed lightly (if at all) lest they cease creating jobs.
Whether they create jobs or not.
Angered by the political gridlock in Washington, Americans not only reelected the leaders of the Republican obstructionist caucus, they substantially increased its numbers.
Frustrated by President Barack Obama’s inability to clear up the mess in the Middle East (Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and all that), they backed the party that made the mess in the first place and has yet to so much as apologize for it.
The result is that We the People find ourselves at the mercy of cynical manipulators joined at the hip with true-believing ignoramuses.
How did we get here?
I blame the Democrats for having lost their identity as a progressive party of the working stiff. The Democratic Party is instead…nothing at all. It’s a collection of political strands that pull in one direction and push in the other.
Moreover, it’s leaderless. Obama has his virtues — he’s bright and reasonable — but he’s an awful politician. He makes Jimmy Carter look like Lyndon Johnson.
Nothing makes this clearer than his treatment of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Essentially, he made a speech and let his crack federal bureaucracy handle the details.
To make a long story short, it didn’t work. The rollout was horrendously inept, and Obama did next to nothing to sell the plan to a confused public until it was too late.
Into the resulting vacuum the Republicans injected a never-ending barrage of vitriol. Without being very specific, they characterized the plan as an unparalleled disaster. And they did it on a daily basis. For two years or more, Republicans could hardly broach any subject — the war, the economy, the weather — without including a rant on the evils of making health care more widely available.
Regrettably, this demonization of health care carried the day, even though the plan overcame its early problems to become a success. Its flaws were exaggerated. Its virtues became secrets.
That’s a failure of political leadership, which Democrats paid for heavily.
There’s talk now in Washington of a new spirit of cooperation between the two major parties. This talk is generally between people who start drinking before noon.
For the past six years Republicans in Congress have done everything in their power to delegitimize President Obama. They’ve questioned his citizenship, his patriotism, his intelligence, and his religion. They did that while narrowly controlling one house of Congress.
To think that giving them full control of both chambers will make them kinder, gentler, and more amenable to compromise requires a leap of faith available only to saints and fools.
May God help the United States the next time we have to raise the debt limit.
OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. OtherWords.org
A Republican wrote an article on The Houston Chronicle blog about how this election was a disaster for Republicans. Here are some highlights, and there is plenty of very compelling stuff left to read if you click on the link below. Joni Ernst gets a mention and not in a good way.
Oh, but before we all get too hopeful, after you read this article, check out how the GOP would like to gerrymander the Democrats’ electoral map advantage.
by Chris Ladd
The biggest Republican victory in decades did not move the map. The Republican party’s geographic and demographic isolation from the rest of America actually got worse.
Republicans this week scored the kind of win that sets one up for spectacular, catastrophic failure and no one is talking about it.
What emerges from the numbers is the continuation of a trend that has been in place for almost two decades. Once again, Republicans are disappearing from the competitive landscape at the national level across the most heavily populated sections of the country while intensifying their hold on a declining electoral bloc of aging, white, rural voters…
– Republicans in 2014 were the most popular girl at a party no one attended. Voter turnout was awful.
– Democrats have consolidated their power behind the sections of the country that generate the overwhelming bulk of America’s wealth outside the energy industry. That’s only ironic if you buy into far-right propaganda, but it’s interesting none the less.
– Vote suppression is working remarkably well, but that won’t last. Eventually Democrats will help people get the documentation they need to meet the ridiculous and confusing new requirements. The whole “voter integrity” sham may have given Republicans a one or maybe two-election boost in low-turnout races. Meanwhile we kissed off minority votes for the foreseeable future.
– Across the country, every major Democratic ballot initiative was successful, including every minimum wage increase, even in the red states.
– Every personhood amendment failed.
– For only the second time in fifty years Nebraska is sending a Democrat to Congress. Former Republican, Brad Ashford, defeated one of the GOP’s most stubborn climate deniers to take the seat.
– Almost half of the Republican Congressional delegation now comes from the former Confederacy. Total coincidence, just pointing that out.
Some force, some gathering of sane, rational, authentically concerned human beings generally at peace with reality must emerge in the next four to six years from the right, or our opportunity will be lost for a long generation. Needless to say, Greg Abbott and Jodi Ernst are not that force.
“Winning” this election did not help that force emerge. This was a dark week for Republicans, and for everyone who wants to see America remain the world’s most vibrant, most powerful nation.
For the record we’re still waiting for the backlash.
Dark money” is spending by groups that hide the identities of some or all of their donors.
The analysis below details not only the record amounts of outside spending in 2014, but also the dominance of “dark money groups,” which are outside groups that don’t reveal all the sources of their funds. For the first time, the Senate changed hands because of the victories of several candidates who were overwhelmingly backed by these groups. Ten winning candidates together benefited from $127 million in dark money – more than 70 percent of the nonparty outside spending in their favor. The victors will take their seats likely feeling grateful to interests that are hidden from their constituents and the public.
1 million veterans across the country would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Joni Ernst wants to abolish the federal minimum wage, ignoring the needs of those veterans.
On Veterans Day, we decided to hold Ernst accountable for ignoring the needs of veterans. For that, we were called ‘classless’ by the Iowa Republican Party’s Director of Communications. The image we shared is below, along with the GOP response.
We will never back down from standing up for our veterans — especially those who, despite their service, make less than $10.10 an hour and deserve a raise.
And we will never back down from holding our elected officials accountable — especially those who ignore the needs of veterans and working families who just want a fair shot at the American dream.
You can help us fight back by spreading the word
Thanks for all you do,
Make friends with the Center for Media and Democracy because they are the #1 enemy of the Koch brothers and ALEC. They have an amazing website that you will want to visit – ALEC Exposed – where you can find ALEC model bills, ALEC politicians, ALEC state chairs, ALEC corporations, ALEC think tanks, boards, task forces, and much more.
“The biggest winners this election cycle are the billionaire Koch brothers who have now captured the Senate and the House in order to starve the state and cook the planet,” said NBC’s Brian Williams on election night.
Well, no. Williams didn’t say anything like that and neither did any other anchor in the main-stream media.
For honest reporting, for detailed tracking of the Carbon Kings and their minions, you need fiercely independent groups like CMD.
The day after the election, the incoming U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell declared that Republicans will use their new majority to bully the President into approving the Keystone XL pipeline and rolling back the EPA’s new rules limiting carbon releases from coal-fired power plants.
It is no accident that the entire U.S. Senate majority will now devote itself to the Koch agenda.
The Kochs are not just oligarchs; they are now a political party. Koch groups were projected to spend some $300 million this election cycle. For comparison, the DNC and RNC, combined spent $300 million.
To learn more, check out my colleague Mary Bottari’s article “The Koch Party Wins, Planet in Peril.” Check out Rebekah Wilce’s rundown of the pet politicians who will be working to implement the Koch agenda “ALEC Pols Moving Up in 2014 Midterms.” And let’s not forget Brendan Fischer’s in-depth work exposing money in politics and the criminal investigation of ALEC stalwart Scott Walker.
These are dark days, but the fight back is already underway. A few days ago CMD’s research director Nick Surgey discovered that ALEC’s corporate board chair is quitting the group over ALEC’s denial that climate change is happening and other issues, joining Google and a cluster of other tech firms, including AOL just this week. This brings to more than 90 the number of private sector firms that have stopped funding ALEC, since we launched ALECexposed and citizen groups across the country joined us in exposing ALEC and its funders..
ALEC will be doubling down on its reactionary agenda in 2015, but we will be hot on their trail.
Thank you for all you do to help make the world a better place!
Center for Media and Democracy
Watch this video as Dean lets it all out and calls out the Democrats on their failures of campaign 2014 and other interesting topics.
And contrary to the disclaimer on the video, Dean says nothing to indicate that he accepts an “implicit coronation” of Hillary Clinton in 2016. He did say he is not running for president himself, and that he is supporting Hillary Clinton.
About the primary process, he said, “there definitely are going to be some other Democratic party leaders and some of them are going to come from the progressive end of the party and that is a good thing.”
Read President Obama’s statement today on Net Neutrality: (scroll down to watch video)
An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.
“Net neutrality” has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted. We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas. That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.
When I was a candidate for this office, I made clear my commitment to a free and open Internet, and my commitment remains as strong as ever. Four years ago, the FCC tried to implement rules that would protect net neutrality with little to no impact on the telecommunications companies that make important investments in our economy. After the rules were challenged, the court reviewing the rules agreed with the FCC that net neutrality was essential for preserving an environment that encourages new investment in the network, new online services and content, and everything else that makes up the Internet as we now know it. Unfortunately, the court ultimately struck down the rules — not because it disagreed with the need to protect net neutrality, but because it believed the FCC had taken the wrong legal approach.
The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone. I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online. The rules I am asking for are simple, common-sense steps that reflect the Internet you and I use every day, and that some ISPs already observe. These bright-line rules include:
No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player — not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling” — based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.
Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.
If carefully designed, these rules should not create any undue burden for ISPs, and can have clear, monitored exceptions for reasonable network management and for specialized services such as dedicated, mission-critical networks serving a hospital. But combined, these rules mean everything for preserving the Internet’s openness.
The rules also have to reflect the way people use the Internet today, which increasingly means on a mobile device. I believe the FCC should make these rules fully applicable to mobile broadband as well, while recognizing the special challenges that come with managing wireless networks.
To be current, these rules must also build on the lessons of the past. For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access in and out of your home or business. That is why a phone call from a customer of one phone company can reliably reach a customer of a different one, and why you will not be penalized solely for calling someone who is using another provider. It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information — whether a phone call, or a packet of data.
So the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone — not just one or two companies.
Investment in wired and wireless networks has supported jobs and made America the center of a vibrant ecosystem of digital devices, apps, and platforms that fuel growth and expand opportunity. Importantly, network investment remained strong under the previous net neutrality regime, before it was struck down by the court; in fact, the court agreed that protecting net neutrality helps foster more investment and innovation. If the FCC appropriately forbears from the Title II regulations that are not needed to implement the principles above — principles that most ISPs have followed for years — it will help ensure new rules are consistent with incentives for further investment in the infrastructure of the Internet.
The Internet has been one of the greatest gifts our economy — and our society — has ever known. The FCC was chartered to promote competition, innovation, and investment in our networks. In service of that mission, there is no higher calling than protecting an open, accessible, and free Internet. I thank the Commissioners for having served this cause with distinction and integrity, and I respectfully ask them to adopt the policies I have outlined here, to preserve this technology’s promise for today, and future generations to come.
I agree with what Thom Hartmann has to say here for the most part. At the same time, it’s not that easy for Democrats to point out what the Republicans are really doing because of the media’s double standard for Democrats and Republicans. Remember when Hillary tried to point out the “vast right wing conspiracy?” The media had a great time with that one.
Nevertheless, Thom Hartmann makes a good case that Democrats should have confronted the media for calling it “gridlock” instead of “obstructionism” and a host of other journalistic crimes. The Democrats never went on offense he says, in pointing out that it was the Republicans who had caused the problems they were blaming Obama for. He argues that the Democrats should have called out the Republicans for sabotaging the president in a way that the media could not ignore.
Tall order. But they have to start doing it.
“Back in January of 2009 – Republican leaders invested in a plan to sabotage the Obama presidency at every chance possible. On Tuesday – they got a pretty good return on that investment.”