First, it needs to be said that we cannot let Trump win.
That being said, as an elected PLEO Delegate to the Democratic National Convention, I owe a report back to the people even as I continue to process the events of the past couple weeks, so I’m offering this partial post-DNC analysis/reflection/report back as I’m still processing the events I was privileged to witness. We need to go in with our eyes wide open as to what we’re being asked to support and work for in this election cycle. The following is a tidbit of a longer message regarding Sec’y Clinton’s VP pick Sen. Tim Kaine that was sent by the Bernie Campaign to his Democratic National Convention Delegates last week.
Known as a “centrist” governor of Virginia, Kaine supported restrictions on abortion and angered environmentalists by fighting for a controversial coal-fired power plant in Wise County. He declared “I strongly support” Virginia’s anti-union “right-to-work” law and denigrated critics of corporate-friendly trade deals as having a “loser’s mentality.” He criticized Democrats in 2011 for seeking a higher tax rate on millionaires. In the U.S. Senate since 2013, he has consistently ranked as one of the least progressive Democrats and was one of only a dozen Democrats who supported Trans-Pacific Partnership Fast Track last year.
Instead of solidifying the power built by the people’s movement to support Bernie Sanders into a unified Democratic base by choosing a progressive running partner, Clinton has chosen to throw the people’s movement under the bus in favor of the possible chance of gaining some votes from disenchanted Republicans. I’m having trouble seeing the loyalty to our party’s platform by courting those who are opposed to it, and am afraid that she’s disrespected the movement and lost for the Democrats much more than we stand to gain.
So, Clinton and the DNCC are forcing us to support a Right-to-Work, anti-choice, anti-environmental, anti-tax on millionaires, pro-TPP Vice Presidential candidate and work for our own demise? Where’s the respect for working families, women, future generations, and the growing movement to fight for their issues? Asking workers to support a Right-to Work (actually it’s Right-to-Work-for-Less) candidate is like asking displaced workers to train their outsourced replacements who will do their jobs for less pay.
Right-to-Work is all about breaking working people’s power. What is our future if our power is taken from us? With the advent of union busting, the proliferation of Right-to-Work to 25 states now, and the diminishment of union density and working families’ power to fight for our fair share of the wealth we create, income disparity has reached modern historical highs not seen since the 1920’s, when industrial unions started building real worker power and created the middle class.
There are similar analogies for women, environmentalists, tax fairness and fair trade proponents, i.e. asking women to support someone who wants to restrict choice, or environmentalists to support someone who wants to expand use of fossil fuels. It appears the policies that Kaine supports are all about advancing a corporate agenda. And, I’m reminded that Clinton’s chief advisor (Bill) is also from a Right-to-Work state and started this whole free-trade fiasco that has cost so many American jobs, was a founder and leader of the conservative DLC, implemented so-called welfare reform that has crippled the most vulnerable families, and instituted conservative criminal justice reform that locked up so many disadvantaged and people of color into the prison-industrial complex and militarized our police forces.
Certainly, the platform contains some very good policy objectives that we all instinctively know need to be in it, but with no way to enforce the platform on electeds it’s just a lot of good words. It all boils down to trust in Hillary. But, as a member of the Walmart Board of Directors, what did she do to support their low-wage workers? What effect will the millions of dollars she received from the many closed door speeches she gave to the Wall Street elite (at $300,000+ per speech) have on reforming our financial system with more than token efforts? Is the Debbie Wasserman Schultz fiasco indicative that Clinton uses political favors to repay political abuses, gain political power, and squelch the people’s voice? Despite the good words in the platform, policy follows power and in this case, I fear it will follow the money and the conservatives she, Bill, the DNCC, and the DLC are catering to and dragging the Democratic party toward.
Wouldn’t it have been better political strategy to embrace the people’s movement rather than to power through an agenda that moves us to the right?
Many Trump followers are frustrated with the insecurity that the ongoing assault by corporations and power elite have imposed on their families, so they’ve gravitated to a demagogue who is saying what they want to hear regarding change, but is actually an embedded part of the problem.
The media will spin all this to make it easier for us to rationalize, but we’ll still know the truth. So, Clinton vs. Trump? I’m still processing, and healing from the top-down reaming at the DNC (Bernie Delegates were abused all week at the Convention, some physically), but I know I’ll make the best decision in the end that my conscience will allow.
Now, I have to re-read the first sentence of this article above. What a dilemma.
Why did 41st LD Reps Tana Senn and Judy Clibborn, along with about a dozen other state Democratic lawmakers, vote in favor of Republican Steve Litzow’s SB 6194 (charter school bill)?
The vote goes against the state Constitution and the Supreme Court ruling last year, which state that charter schools are unconstitutional. It goes against the state Party platform, which says “We oppose charter schools.” And it goes against the wishes of major Democratic constituencies, including teachers, progressives and Labor. Moreover, the vote effectively takes money away from public schools at a time when the legislature is in contempt of court for failing to fund public schools (McCleary decision). Lastly, Senn and Clibborn have given Litzow the opportunity to brag about the bipartisan support for his bill. Like Senn and Clibborn, Litzow is from them 41st LD.
The Dems are aiming to replace Litzow in November. So why would Senn and Clibborn grant him and the Republicans the favor of voting for his bill, delivering a major victory? And why would they knowingly infuriate half the Democratic base in this election year?
For years Republicans have been trying to undermine public education and other government programs. They’ve blamed teachers, attacked unions and tried to convince voters that government can’t be trusted. Republicans have refused to fully fund education, have held teacher salaries low, and have ignored the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling and the subsequent contempt order that’s fining the legislature $100,000 a day. So, it’s a surprise that Democrats would come to the aid of Republicans, further the neoliberal agenda of dismantling government, and fund charter schools while McCleary isn’t yet funded.
At February’s 4st LD town hall meeting, Senn told me that the Democratic House leadership would be unlikely to allow the charter school bill to come up for a vote. But she acknowledged that it might pass due to some kind of trade. (See Litzow’s mistatement, and can Eastside Democratic legislators support progressive taxation?.)
But apparently, there was no such trade. Senn mentioned no such trade in her email to her constituents (below). Also, Senator Maralyn Chase and other Democrats are angry at the passage of the bill. See State senator from Edmonds says she’s disappointed with 2016 legislature.
Some Democrats I have spoken with in the 41st LD try to defend the vote by saying that, after all, voters narrowly approved charter schools in 2012 (I-1240). OK, but that was because of the nearly $11 million in spending by the Waltons, Bill Gates, and others. That was 17 times the spending by anti-charter school forces.
The argument “Well, the voters voted for charter schools” is weak, given the fact that corporate forces spent millions to convince them. By the same argument, you could say, “Well, voters have voted for Tim Eyman initiatives, so we mustn’t try to fix our tax system” or “Voters elected Republicans to the Senate, so we must respect their will.” We need to fight for public education and other Democratic values!
There was an amendment to SB 6194 that would have authorized the funding of the existing charter schools but would have prohibited the funding of additional schools. But that amendment failed. So, the legislature has authorized the creation of new charter schools, and the governor let it become law. This is not something real Democrats should be supporting.
The only justification Senn gave for her vote (below) is that she felt sorry for the existing charter school students. But what about the existing public school students whose schools are underfunded? Handing money to private schools takes it away from public schools. And why did she support the creation of new charter schools?
Furthermore, the state Supreme Court is likely to rule that SB 6194 is unconstitutional. That’s the opinion of Rep. Patricia Kuderer, D-48, who voted against SB 6194 and explains why in Charter Schools are not out of the woods yet. Kuderer starts by warning against “the kind of fraud and mismanagement happening with charters in other states.” She goes on to write:
In the fall of 2015, the Supreme Court ruled against charter schools, throwing the eight existing charter schools into turmoil.
A bill introduced in the state Senate this year [SB 6194] attempts to resolve two constitutional issues the Court had trouble with, but completely ignores other likely constitutional problems with the charter schools initiative.
Moving forward, there are three major issues I believe must be resolved if charters are going to survive legal challenges.
Local control – I have two core values when it comes to using public resources – transparency and accountability. These important values are missing from the charter system now, but must be part of a final solution. Local control is vital to ensuring all schools are transparent and accountable.
Funding – The Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are not “common schools” and therefore cannot receive funding out of the state’s general fund. SB 6194 funds charter schools through a separate account called Opportunity Pathways.
However, as more charter schools open, or as existing ones expand, there will likely not be adequate revenue in the Opportunity Pathways account, which also funds programs like scholarships and grants to low-income students, to keep up with the demand. Funds will eventually be shifted from the general fund to the Opportunity Pathways account, and this co-mingling of funds will either directly or indirectly support charter schools.
But even if the Supreme Court overturns SB 6194, the bipartisan support for it has moved the needle to the right on the issue.
I know that many Democrats in King County are furious that the House leadership let the bill come up for a vote, that ten Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of the bill, and that Gov. Inslee allowed the bill to become law without either signing it or vetoing it. There was a letter-writing campaign by the King County Democrats to convince legislators to oppose SB 6194.
Republicans must be smiling now.
In Washington State: The Democrats Who Betrayed the Public Schools Diane Ravitch explains what happened.
With the support of the Washington Charter Association and a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for $2.1M- charter schools remained opened- and they did so by having the state’s superintendent of public instruction corrupt Alternative Learning Rules.
In January, Steve and Connie Ballmer contributed $250K to a charter PAC. These dollars are being used to fund TV ads, polls, robo calls etc.
Students were constantly getting bussed to the state’s capital and charter supporters literally camped within the state’s capital. We’ve been told 22 lobbyists filled the halls of the state building.
Senn’s letter to her constituents
Tana Senn wrote the following explanation for her vote to some of her constituents:
No matter one’s view on the issue, the charter schools initiative passed and charter schools operate in our state. Many of the children currently being served by charter schools are students of color, at-risk boys and girls from low-income families and/or those with special needs who may need different learning environments for various reasons.
For the past three years, I’ve served on the Early Learning and Human Services Committee and witnessed the many barriers families face trying to break out of the cycle of poverty and the lifelong negative affects often associated with poverty. Dropping out of school is an entry point into that cycle.
Undoubtedly, fully funding our public schools serving 1.1 million students is our number one priority next year! Our State has amazing public schools staffed by hard working, dedicated and inspiring teachers. But we have failed to fund these institutions time and time again.
Fixing the funding problem so we can reduce class sizes, add school counselors, offer competitive teacher pay and improve special education will require a bi-partisan effort and the resolve to do what’s right and what we should have done so long ago.
It is likely to take a couple years for that funding to reach the classroom and make needed investments. It is also about the time the State Supreme Court is anticipated to rule again on the constitutionality of charter schools.
But two years is a long time in the educational life of a young person. Those boys and girls were first and foremost on my mind when I voted for the charter school bill. We also passed the Education Opportunity Act and the Homeless Student Act that week, which will help hundreds of thousands of more kids have a better chance at success in life. All we can do is critical.
I point out, though, that every penny spent on charter schools is a penny lost to public schools.
It’s true that some schools in high poverty districts are failing. That’s because of poverty and because Republicans refuse to fund them adequately! That’s a standard Republican tactic: corrupt, under-fund and mismanage government; then complain it doesn’t work. In fact, America’s low test scores are largely an artifact of our high poverty rate. The countries that beat us in standardized tests have public schools.
Furthermore, the bill funds not only the existing charter schools but also additional schools. That was completely unnecessary.
Pay back from the tax dodgers
As reported in League of Education Voters backs Inslee, top Republicans, after the passage of SB 6194, there were big endorsements for Steve Litzow, Jay Inslee, Tana Senn, Judy Clibborn and other supporters of SB 6194, from the charter-schools-loving League of Education Voters, who are funded by Microsoft, Boeing and the Gates Foundation (the 1%). Follow the money. Boeing and Microsoft enjoy tax breaks and use their money to defund public services and enrich corporations at the expense of the middle class (who pay the vast majority of taxes here in Washington State).
Contrary to the statement in the article, Gates, Boeing, and Microsoft are not independent at all. They’re self-interested tools of the 1%, intent on dismantling public education and blaming teachers for outcomes that are the result of poverty and willful under-funding of education. Republicans and their neo-liberal Democratic allies willfully under-fund government so it doesn’t work well and so that they can justify tax cuts for rich people and privatization of government services.
To understand politics, follow the money.
The ten turn-coat Democrats are:
- Judy Clibborn: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/judy-clibborn/
- Christopher Hurst: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/christopher-hurst/
- Ruth Kagi: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/ruth-kagi/
- Kristine Lytton: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/kristine-lytton/
- Jeff Morris: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/jeff-morris/
- Eric Pettigrew: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/eric-pettigrew
- David Sawyer: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/david-sawyer/
- Tana Senn: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/tana-senn/
- Larry Springer: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/larry-springer/
- Pat Sullivan: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/legislators/pat-sullivan
Democratic State Senators who voted for the charter school bill include Mark Mullet, Tim Sheldon, and Steve Hobbs.
I acknowledge that there is an honest difference of opinion with the Democratic Party, as well as a division between the progressive wing and the corporate wing that approves policies such as charter schools. But given the following facts, the choice of these Democrats to vote for SB 6194 seems unwise at best, and probably perverse:
- The state Supreme Court ruled last year that charter schools are unconstitutional.
- There’s a good chance that the Supreme Court will rule that SB 6194 is unconstitutional.
- But support for charter schools by Democrats legitimizes the entire corporate education paradigm and moves politics to the right.
- The legislature hasn’t yet funded public schools, and is paying a daily fine of $100,000 a day, per order of the Supreme Court.
- The state Democratic Party platform expresses opposition to charter schools.
- This is an election year. Why did the Democrats empower Republicans and alienate Democrats?
- In particular, why would Senn and Clibborn endorse the policies of Republican Litzow in an election year?
- Weren’t the turncoat Democrats aware that their acts would infuriate many Democrats (teachers, Labor, progressives) and divide the Party? What benefit do they get by thumbing their noses at the wishes of half or more of the Party base?
No wonder Democrats are voting for candidates like Bernie Sanders. Mainstream (aka “corporate”) Democrats can’t apparently be trusted to support the platform and ideals of the party of FDR.
The participation by a large number of Independents in the 2016 caucuses, their youth, and their overwhelming support for Bernie Sanders give me hope that the Democratic Party can be reformed.
Sunday I attended a meeting of the Legislative Action Committee of the King County Democrats. Representative Tana Senn of the 41st LD spoke, followed by Senator Cyrus Habib of the 48th LD.
During discussion of the budget it became clear that there is unlikely to be a capital gains tax. Nor will Governor Inslee get the carbon pricing plan that is central to his advocacy for clean energy.
Furthermore, the transportation plan agreed to in the senate contains an obnoxious “poison pill” according to which funding for public transit and bike lanes would be cut if carbon pricing is later instituted.
Negotiations on the budget seem to be favoring the Republicans.
Yesterday I got email from Jaxon Ravens, the state Dem chair:
If Senator Andy Hill and the State Senate GOP don’t come to the table and work with Democrats to strike a deal on our budget, then 25,000 workers — about half of the state’s workers — will be sent pink slips. Important services like state parks and supervision of former inmates will be shuttered.
Democrats are doing their part to reach a deal. Governor Inslee and House Democrats have dropped key parts of their initial proposal, like a capital gains tax. Their compromise goes 77 percent of the way toward filling the gap between the initial budget proposals.
State Senate Republicans? They’ve budged only 2 percent.
Basically, the message I hear from the legislators and from Ravens is that the Republicans out-maneuvered the Democrats. By various budgetary gimmicks, unreasonable projections, and postponements, and thanks to an increase in revenue due to economic growth, the Republicans get to maintain their “no new taxes” pledge. The Democrats fail to raise revenue, fix our regressive tax system, or make clear progress on clean energy and transportation.
On the topic of transportation, Habib said that the senators chosen to negotiate with the Republicans were Senator Steve Hobbs and Senator Marko Liias. Habib said the pair agreed to the Republicans’ transportation plan and left the other Democrats on the committee in a quandary. The infamous “poison pill” in the plan was anathema to many Democrats. But it was hard to reject the recommendation of the “bipartisan” leaders.
And the Republicans were able to split Democratic constituencies: the Senate transportation plan has decent support for public transportation but is bad on carbon and climate change. Public transportation advocates and many mayors and cities councils are thus happy with the plan, while environmentalists are mostly opposed.
The Republicans even get to trumpet their plan to lower college tuition by 25%, though Tana Senn pointed out the reductions exclude community colleges and are paid for by eliminating scholarships and by lowering pay for faculty. (See GOP proposal to slash college tuition puts House, Senate at odds.)
So it seems the Republicans are winning.
Negotiations aren’t finished, and maybe the Republicans will be forced to agree to eliminate some tax exemptions (e.g., for oil). Habib said Republicans already have been forced to agree to cost of living adjustments for teachers and other pay raises for state workers. But the Republicans seem willing, perhaps eager, to shut down state government to get their way. Is the reason they keep winning just that they’re unscrupulous?
Habib said the Dems didn’t sell their tax increases well to the public. He gave the analogy of shopping for clothes. If you walk into a store the salesman doesn’t start off asking you to give him $100 up front. Instead, he shows you a nice shirt, tempts you, and says, “Isn’t it nice?” The Dems should have held a carrot in front of the public and said, for example, “If you want decreased class sizes, as the voters approved in the ballot initiative I-1135, then we can fund it by raising taxes on the rich.”
Republicans raise taxes on the poor and the middle class
In fact, the Republican talking point that there are “no new taxes” is mostly empty rhetoric, because the Republicans have agreed to raise taxes — on the middle class and the poor. The Senate transportation plan raises the regressive gas tax. But even Habib at one point in the meeting repeated the Republican talking point that they passed a budget that didn’t raise taxes. I repeatedly said to Habib and Senn that the Dems need to emphasize the fact the Republicans do want to raise taxes. Habib said that it’s not smart for Dems to oppose tax increases, even if the taxes are regressive, because the state needs revenue.
Habib pointed out that businesses were in favor of the increase in the gas tax, because without good transportation infrastructure their businesses will suffer, but they don’t want to pay for it.
So, the Dems were out-maneuvered and allowed the Republicans to control the messaging. Republicans are also spending money on media ads touting their budget. Understandably, Dems didn’t want to spend money on counter-ads, because they can’t afford it. The GOP has deep-pocketed benefactors.
But I suspect there’s another reason the Dems keep losing: the system is rigged. One of the two Democratic senators chosen to negotiate with the Republicans on the transportation package is a centrist/corporate Dem, Steve Hobbs. Hobbs is a long time Road Kill caucus member. The other Democratic negotiator, Marko Liias, used to be quite progressive (see Who’s progressive in the Washington State House?) but in recent years has moved to the right. (“Liias voted against the budget because it did not include the continuation of tax incentives that benefits technology companies. ” source; and Liias was a sponsor of the Money Tree bill that would have aided the loan shark industry source).
And the person chosen to lead the budget negotiations in the House is Ross Hunter, who is also a centrist Democrat and who has been a leader in promoting tax breaks for his former employer, Microsoft.
Governor Inslee, on the other hand, took the lead in pushing for the $8.7 billion in tax breaks for Boeing.
Corporate Dems dominate the Democratic Party nationally; hence the many sellouts of the Obama presidency, including the selection of Senator Max Baucus as the lead Senate negotiator for the Affordable Care Act and the apparent success of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Were the Dems just out-maneuvered by the clever and ruthless Republicans? Or is the deck stacked in Olympia against progressive policies, the way it’s stacked in D.C.?
Let’s hope the Republicans are forced to eliminate some major tax breaks. But don’t hold your breath.
Finally, near the end of his presidency, President Obama is displaying the sort of fighting spirit that we needed early on.
Unfortunately, Obama is directing his wrath at Elizabeth Warren and other progressives.
Just two years after the end of disastrous and corrupt presidency of George W. Bush, Democrats were dealt a shellacking in the midterm elections of 2010. In 2014 control of both houses of Congress was handed over to extremist Republicans.
What went wrong?
A hint about the cause is the following.
In recent days President Obama is openly attacking progressives in the Democratic Party over their opposition to the fast-tracking of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. This trade deal — which would allow international corporations to sue the US to obtain compensation for lost future profits due to regulations and laws — is opposed by organized labor, by environmentalists, by progressives, and, in fact, by most Democrats in Congress. The President is depending on the support of Republicans to pass this deal.
President Obama has denied that the trade deal is secret, but in fact it is secret. The public cannot view it, though Wikileaks leaked a chapter, and there are tight restrictions on how members of Congress can view it. As Politico reports, “If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.”
Margot E. Kaminski wrote in this New York Times op-ed:
[T]he draft text is classified by the United States government. Even if current negotiations over the trade agreement end with no deal, the draft chapter will still remain classified for four years as national security information. The initial version of an agreement projected by the government to affect millions of Americans will remain a secret until long after meaningful public debate is possible.
Even the most starry-eyed supporter of President Obama must now be having second thoughts about the policy choices and political smarts of the leader of the Democratic Party.
The myth that Obama was forced to compromise
Defenders of the President will claim that, all along, he was forced to compromise because of the unrelenting opposition of Republicans and conservative Democrats.
It is true that conservatives and their well-heeled supporters launched a massive propaganda campaign against the President and the Democrats; and Republicans in Congress opposed, often unanimously, virtually every policy proposal coming from the Democrats. As a consequence, many Democratic bills died in the Senate, due to filibusters, and bills that did pass Congress, such as the Affordable Care Act, were badly compromised.
But a clear-eyed analysis of the evidence, summarized below, shows that in many cases President Obama actively and repeatedly chose to pursue policies that favored corporations and the military over the People. He repeatedly compromised early and unnecessarily. He actively selected corporate Democrats to design the Affordable Care Act and many other bills. He filled regulatory agencies with industry-friendly hacks. He supported centrist Democratic candidates over progressive candidates. He urged regulators to pass industry-friendly rulings. He prosecuted whistle blowers and let war criminals and Wall Street thugs off the hook.
In the elections in 2010, 2012, and 2014, Democratic candidates were burdened with defending, or ignoring, a poorly designed monstrosity of a health care bill that failed to rein in costs, that pleased nobody, and that was, at best, a small improvement over the existing health care framework. To a large extent, ACA was a gift to the insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital industries. The bungled launch of the national ACA website further reinforced GOP talking points about the inefficiency and haplessness of government. The ACA pandered to anti-choice politicians, by making it illegal for ACA-related health care plans to cover elective abortions. And organized Labor disliked the ACA because it removed incentives for joining unions and made union members subsidize insurance companies. (See Brendan Williams book Compromised: The Affordable Care Act and the Politics of Defeat for a detailed exposé of the Obama administration’s failings in the area of health care reform.)
In short, the President’s centrism, his failure to lead, his quickness to compromise, his failure to prosecute criminality in the Bush administration and on Wall Street, and his unwillingness to decisively break with conservative policies and framing confused and alienated supporters and voters, and allowed our opponents to portray the Democrats as servants of the rich and the powerful.
You needn’t take my word for it. The President himself said, “My policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies … back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”
In short, Obama is a terrible Democrat, just as George W. Bush is a terrible Republican.
Why can’t our political system deliver quality candidates?
I was once an ardent Obama supporter
Before I enumerate the the ways in which Obama betrayed Democratic principles, I want to point out that I am no radical leftist. In 2008 I donated hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours to the campaign of candidate Barack Obama. When he won on Nov. 4, 2008, I texted “Happy day!” to my brother.
Within a year I had sorely regretted my support for Obama. I wrote articles, submitted resolutions, and advocated for accountability, to save the Democratic Party from looming catastrophe.
How President Obama betrayed Democrats
President Obama violated Democratic ideals and aided Republicans by:
- Escalating and widening the disastrous, corrupt war in Afghanistan, causing attacks on civilians, cover-ups, and further hardship and casualties for our troops (bin Laden is dead, and al Qaeda is elsewhere — why are we even there?).
- Secretly sending special forces to 75 countries — see this article.
- Expanding drone attacks, causing many civilian deaths.
- Supporting neo-Nazis in the civil war in the Ukraine and surrounding Russia with NATO forces.
- Authorizing assassination without trial, even of US citizens.
- Increasing total defense spending to nearly a trillion dollars a year.
- Authorizing an attack on Libya without prior authorization from Congress, in violation of the War Powers Act.
- Twice delaying the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and continuing the use of private mercenaries.
- Continuing overseas rendition, torture, the Guantanamo prison, and domestic spying;
- Choosing as his health care proposal a plan designed by the Heritage Institute; it enriches insurance companies and fails to contain a public option, not to mention single-payer.
- Choosing conservative Democrat Max Baucus, his advisor Jim Messina, and the other members of the Gang of Six to design the Senate’s health care compromise; Baucus had brokered the passage of George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts and 2003 Medicare prescription drug plan, and had spent the better part of the Bush presidency cutting deals with Republicans and infuriating fellow Democrats. Other transgressions included voting for the war in Iraq, the energy bill, the bankruptcy bill and to confirm Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. (source). Jim Messina later became a chief campaign strategist for David Cameron and the UK Tories; see Former Obama Campaign Manager Led Austerity-Loving Tories to Victory.
- Extending President Bush’s unjust bailouts of the banks and Wall Street.
- Failing to prosecute criminality in the banking industry (see Eric Holder: The Reason Robert Rubin Isn’t Behind Bars).
- Proposing a budget deal more regressive than Pres. Reagan’s (see evidence).
- Opposing a bill that would have imposed windfall taxes on Wall Street bonuses.
- Surrounding himself with military, legal, policy, and economic advisers held-over from the Bush Administration and from the right wing of the Democratic Party.
- Allowing the Affordable Care Act to contain anti-labor provisions (“Union health trusts will actually have to pay a temporary tax to subsidize private insurance companies selling individual coverage on the exchanges.” [source], and “It is no exaggeration to imagine the ACA having the effect of destroying unions, by destroying the incentive to be in them [Compromised: The Affordable Care Act and the Politics of Defeat]).
- Allowing many of the architects of the Affordable Care Act to obtain employment with health industry corporations after leaving government service (source: Compromised, ibid).
- Allowing the FBI, under the direction of Bush hold-over Robert Mueller, to spy on domestic peace activists and to raid their homes, as reported here and here.
- Cutting back-room deals with Big Pharma and Big Insurance that eliminated a public option, prevented re-importation of medicines, and benefited the corrupt and inefficient health industry, in violation of his campaign promise (see also this).
- Repeatedly firing progressive staff members, including Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod, based on distorted right-wing smear campaigns, without giving the accused a chance to defend themselves.
- Allowing anti-choice provisions to be included in health care reform, despite his campaign pledge to “make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as president”.
- Threatening war with Iran (though more recently his has been a voice of moderation).
- Disallowing single-payer advocates a seat at the negotiating table (unclear whether Obama himself made this decision) and reneging on his promise to support a public option.
- Supporting assassination of an American citizen residing overseas; see Glenn Greenwald’s analysis.
- Failing to support the Employee Free Choice Act, despite union support during his election and his promise to “to fight for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act”.
- Proposing to open sensitive coastal areas to offshore oil drilling.
- Favoring $50 billion in government subsidies for nuclear power but not for green energy.
- Announcing in November, 2010 a two-year freeze on federal workers’ wages. “This action — negligible in its effect on the federal deficit — affixed the presidential seal of approval to the strategy of handing workers the bill — and the blame — for the economic havoc caused by Wall Street fraud, corporate tax relief and war” (souce).
- Expanding the definition of terror to include domestic nonviolent civil disobedience, see this article.
- Working with Republicans in the Deficit Commission to gut Social Security, relying on false claims of pending insolvency, and ignoring the option of eliminating the income cap on social security taxes (see this and this and the editorial Whacking the Old Folks from the June 7, 2010 issue of The Nation).
- Supporting corporatist, conservative Democrat Blanche Lincoln against progressive challenger Bill Halter in the Arkansas Senate race; see Biden Sends Fundraising E-Mail For Blanche Lincoln.
- Failing to push for meaningful action about climate change at the Copenhagen conference.
- Appointing pesticide pusher Islam Siddiqui as chief agricultural negotiator in the office of the US trade representative.
- Supporting the court martial of Bradley Manning, who leaked the “Collateral Murder video” and documents about the war in Afgahnistan; see also this.
- Pushing for strong enforcement of federal marijuana statutes US vows marijuana enforcement regardless of California vote, Medical Marijuana Industry Is Unnerved by U.S. Crackdown (“Medical marijuana advocates accuse the Obama administration of going back on earlier promises not to go after groups abiding by local laws.”); see also this article and this article. “The president campaigned on the promise that he’d stop federal raids on medical marijuana operations that were in compliance with state laws, a vow that Attorney General Eric Holder repeated after the election. But then the Obama administration raided more than 100 dispensaries in its first three years and is now poised to outpace the Bush administration’s crackdown record.” (source)
- Overseeing the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, despite his June 2008 statement: “I strongly favor diversity of ownership of outlets and protection against the excessive concentration of power in the hands of any one corporation, interest or small group. I strongly believe that all citizens should be able to receive information from the broadest range of sources. I feel that media consolidation during the Bush administration has had the effect of eliminating a lot of the diversity of information sources available to persons who have to rely on more traditional information sources, such as radio and television broadcasts and newspapers.”
- Prosecuting whistle-blower Thomas Drake, who exposed fraud, corruption, and illegal surveillance in the NSA “Trailblazer” program; “Even neo-conservative secrecy advocate Gabe Schoenfeld, whose far-flung idea it was to use the Espionage Act to prosecute leakers, calls Obama’s conduct ‘draconian.'” (See The New Yorker’s Damning Dissection of “Leak” Prosecution of Thomas Drake);
See Obama’s Crackdown on Whistleblowers.
- Nominating George Beck as US Attorney in Alabama (see Obama Proposes a Wretched Nominee for Controversial U.S. Attorney Post).
- Approving the use of taxpayer funds for religious schools (Solicitor general surprises justices in religious schools case)
- Compromising with Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich; Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said this about the estate tax provision included in the tax cut compromise: “We had the president — George W. Bush — we couldn’t get it done then and we’re getting it done here.”
- Choosing JP Morgan banker Bill Daley as chief of staff, despite Daley’s approval by the Chamber of Commerce, “Daley publicly pushed the line that Obama and the Democrats overreached with healthcare reform; opposed the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency….[and] kvetched about the electoral plight of centrist Democrats in a December 2009 Washington Post op-ed.” (source)
- Failing to support Wisconsin workers whose collective bargaining rights were taken away by Governor Walker, the Koch brothers, and Republican legislators. This despite his earlier promises to support workers. See Shoes for President Obama.
- Failing to prosecute Bush-era crimes, thereby aiding Republicans and allowing them to hide the truth about their policies from the American people (“…the incredible lengths to which Obama has gone in his crusade to fully protect Bush, Cheney, and their co-conspirators, an effort that has included making threats to England should it be so uncouth as to reveal any evidence of wrongdoing”, from An Honest Look at Obama’s First Year); see also Obama, Press Ignore GOPer Use of DOJ to Cheat Voters, Taxpayers; WikiLeaks has now revealed that Obama worked behind the scenes to prevent the Spanish judge from prosecuting Bush &ammp; Cheney for war crimes; ‘”The only people Obama has prosecuted are the whistle-blowers” .
- Compromising early and unnecessarily on raising the debt ceiling. “President Obama initially tried to strike a ‘Grand Bargain’ with Republicans over taxes and spending. To do so, he not only chose not to make an issue of G.O.P. extortion, he offered extraordinary concessions on Democratic priorities: an increase in the age of Medicare eligibility, sharp spending cuts and only small revenue increases. As The Times’s Nate Silver pointed out, Mr. Obama effectively staked out a position that was not only far to the right of the average voter’s preferences, it was if anything a bit to the right of the average Republican voter’s preferences.” (Paul Krugman); “It is now beyond dispute that President Obama not only favours, but is the leading force in Washington pushing for, serious benefit cuts to both social security and Medicare.” (Glenn Greenwald);
- Suspending a federal scientist for publishing a paper about the effect of climate change on Arctic wildlife (see Federal polar bear scientist back on the job).
- Blocking investigation of foreclosure fraud; see Why is the Obama Administration Trying to Block Investigation of Foreclosure Fraud? and this.
- Backing down on strengthening Bush-era smog standards, despite EPA director Lisa Jackson’s statement that the current standards are “not legally defensible given the scientific evidence on the record” of dangers to human health” (source). In rejecting the stronger standards, Obama repeated Republican talking points by citing “the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty” — despite “the EPA’s own studies show that a tighter standard could have created $17 billion in economic benefits” (source; see also here).
- Supporting free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, despite the opposition of many Democrats and despite the approval of most Republicans (Trade Deals Wed Obama to Republicans as Democrats Vow to Oppose).
- Allowing a contractor working for pipeline developer TransCandada to conduct the environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline (source).
- “Siding with insurers rather than patients, the Obama administration also changed the rules to prevent patients from appealing contractual disputes, such as a particular service or medication is covered in a policy.” (source).
- Deciding not to investigate possible police brutality in the crackdown on Occupy Oakland; see Despite Iraq Vet’s Cracked Skull, DoJ Sees No Evil in Occupy Crackdown.
- Pressuring state attorney generals to accept a deal with Wall Street companies that, in the view of many, largely exonerates the criminals on Wall Street (see See Glenn Greenwald at about 54:00).
- Trying, but failing, to extend the occupation of Iraq (see (Ibid, 57:00)).
- Illegally defunding WikiLeaks, without due process (see (Ibid, 59:00)).
- Overseeing the coordinated crackdown on Occupy protesters (Ibid, 59:00).
- Restricting access to the morning after pill (see Health Secretary blocks wider access to morning-after pill).
- Being “just as zealous as George Bush in stripping away environmental, health and safety protection at the behest of industry” (source).
- Naming former Wall Street defense lawyer Mary Jo White to be the Chair of one of the Securities and Exchange Commission (petition).
- Nominating Jerome Powell to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. “Powel served as the undersecretary for finance under the president George H. W. Bush and was a partner of The Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group is a massive private equity firm and one of the largest defense contractors in the world” (source).
- Failing to pursue prosecution of big banks for robo-signing (see Insight: Top Justice officials connected to mortgage banks).
- Negotiating a free trade agreement, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership: “TPP has been under negotiation for three years and, unlike in past trade negotiations, Congress has been denied access by the executive branch to the draft agreement text. The few TPP texts that have leaked suggest that TPP would not only replicate the job – offshoring investor protections of NAFTA but expand on them while also undermining Buy American procurement policy, imported food safety rules and medicine price containment policies” (source); see also this.
- Agreeing to a “fiscal cliff” deal on New Year’s Day, 2013 that made permanent 82% of the Bush tax cuts. The deal lowers tax rates for incomes up to $400,000/$450,000 instead of $200,000/$250,000. (Rep. Adam Smith said that the compromise made in return for an agreement by Republicans on a two month delay before sequestration kicks in).
- Giving Shell Oil approval to drill beneath the Arctic Ocean off Alaska and blocking global action in Copenhagen and Durban (RootsAction). “The Obama administration on Monday gave conditional approval to allow Shell to start drilling for oil off the Alaskan coast this summer, a major victory for the petroleum industry and a devastating blow to environmentalists.” — source: New York Times.
- Selecting John Brennan as the nominee to head the CIA; see As Brennan Tapped for CIA, Case of Somali Detainees Highlights Obama’s Embrace of Secret Renditions.
- Loosening media ownership rules; see Obama Administration Seeks to Strengthen Rupert Murdoch.
- Nominating Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary (see Failure of Epic Proportions”: Treasury Nominee Jack Lew’s Pro-Bank, Austerity, Deregulation Legacy).
- Nominating Ernest Minz for secretary of energy; see Energy Nominee Ernest Moniz Criticized for Backing Fracking & Nuclear Power; Ties to BP, GE, Saudis;`:w
- Appealing a federal judge’s ruling that lifted age restrictions on the morning-after pill (see Women’s health groups slam Obama administration’s decision to appeal morning-after pill ruling).
- Nominating Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, to run the FCC (see Uh-Oh: AT&T and Comcast Are Ecstatic About the FCC’s New Chairman).
- Nominating former Obama fundraiser Penny Pritzker for Commerce secretary, despite her family’s history anti-unionism and shady, subprime business dealings (see also this; as Brendan Williams wrote, “Upon President Obama nominating billionaie, union-fighting hotel heiress Penny Pritzker as commerce secretary, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote that it ‘[t]urns out the wealthy didn’t lose the 2012 election; rather, the Republican rich lost to the Democratic rich.'”).
- Personally intervening to stop Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, from pardoning Abdulelah Haider Shaye, “a Yemni jounralist who in 2009 revealed a US airstrike that killed fourteen women and twenty-one children” (source: The Nation, March 25, 2013, p. 3).
- Nominating Jason Furman for Chief of the Council of Economic Advisers; the American Enterprise Institute says of Furman: “He has written on the importance of fiscal discipline, the need to undertake entitlement reform sooner rather than later, the role of international trade in improving living standards, and the benefits of Wal-Mart in boosting living standards for low-income Americans.” (source: Jason Furman would serve with distinction as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers).
- Calling for extradition of whistle blower Edward Snowden.
- Signing “into law the $633 billion defense authorization bill despite provisions that block any attempt to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and try detainees on US soil” (source).
- Choosing Larry Summers as front-runner to head the Federal Reserve, despite Summers’ ties to the worst Wall Street abuses (Congressional Dems forced Obama to nominate Janet Yellen instead).
- Weakening public education: “A feature of the Obama presidency has been his campaign against the American public school system, eating way at the foundations of elementary education.” (source).
- Nomimating Ted Mitchell, a supporter of privatization of education, to become Under Secretary of the Department of Education (“an alarming sign that the administration is favoring greater privatization of public education”.(
- Appointing conservative judges to the federal courts (“According to a February analysis by the Alliance for Justice, a coalition of environmental, consumer, civil rights, and women’s groups, 70 percent of Obama’s judicial nominees are former corporate attorneys. ” Obama’s Judicial Nominees: Liberals Are Upset With Them, Too).
- Threatening to jail veteran New York Times reporter James Risen if he doesn’t reveal a confidential source; a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows that the Obama administration’s efforts to prosecute leaks and control information are the most aggressive since the Nixon era.
- Nominating Antonio Weiss, a former Wall Street investment banker, as Treasury Undersecretary for Domestic Finance; as reported here, Weiss helped Burger King merge with a Canadian company to avoid paying its fair share of U.S. taxes.
- Nominating anti-abortion legislator Michael Boggs to be a federal district court judge.
- Running HAMP (the Home Affordability Modification Program) in a way that benefited bankers, not homeowners, contrary to earlier agreements. David Dayen in American Prospect, winter 2015, writes, “HAMP cannot be justified by the usual Obama-era logic, that it represented the best possible outcome in a captured Washington with Republican obstruction and supermajority hurdles…. It was entirely a product of the administration’s economic team, working with the financial industry…”.
- Supporting high-stakes testing that weakens public education and unions.
- Working with Republicans in Congress to pass the TPP against the opposition of labor, environmentalists, and most Democrats (Obama vows to help pro-trade Democrats fight off the left wing).
- Comparing progressives such as Elizabeth Warren to Sarah Palin because of the progressives’ opposition to the TPP trade deal (Obama goes after Warren: ‘She’s absolutely wrong’ on trade and Obama’s war with Elizabeth Warren is heating up). As The Other 98% said of this, “When President Obama campaigned for office, he promised to reverse NAFTA on dozens of occasions. Now, he’s using his recent popularity to attack his own party from the headquarters of a sweatshop corporation [Nike in Oregeon]. If only Obama worked as hard preventing people from losing their homes or jailing banksters…”
- Distorting the truth about the secrecy of the TPP. Obama said: “When I keep on hearing people repeating this notion that it’s ‘secret,’ I gotta say, it’s dishonest, And it’s concerning when I see friends of mine resorting to these kinds of tactics.” In fact, the text of deal is not open to public and is viewable by members of Congress only with heavy restrictions.
- Supporting charter schools, which are destructive of public education and the interests of teachers; see As Obama Admin Seeks More Funding for Charter Schools, Questions Raised over Billions Already Spent.
- Blocking adoption of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Review Conference’s consensus statement. See Obama Administration Sabotages Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference.
- Failing to put expansion of Social Security on the agenda of the White House Conference on Aging (July 13, 2015), despite support of almost all Senate Democrats and 116 out of 188 House Democrats (source).
Why do grassroot Dems put up with it?
Because they fear they might empower the Republicans; because they’re uniformed; because they believe the nice-sounding rhetoric coming from corporate Dems; and because it’s almost impossible to convince Democrats to oppose a sitting Democratic president. I was accused of aiding the racist wingnuts and birthers who attack Obama from the right. It pains me to no end when Obama supporters hold onto their delusion that the President is a friend of the people.
- Psycho-Babbling Obama “Rather than face the fact that Obama is not a friend of the people, leftish commentators insist on conducting a psychological analysis of the president.”
- As William Kuttner of The American Prospect says, “Let’s stop pretending. Barack Obama is a disaster as a crisis president. He has taken an economic collapse that was the result of Republican ideology and Republican policies, and made it the Democrats’ fault. And the more that he is pummeled, the more he bends over. “
- In Obama’s Obsession With Confrontation Against the Left (UPDATED), David Sirota writes, “Yesterday at OpenLeft, I wrote a post about how the Obama administration unduly shies away from confrontation with Republicans and conservatives…. This president goes out of his way to be very confrontational towards progressives.”
- In Obama’s “bad negotiating” is actually shrewd negotiating, Glenn Greenwald writes, “Whether in economic policy, national security, civil liberties, or the permanent consortium of corporate power that runs Washington, Obama, above all else, is content to be (one could even say eager to be) guardian of the status quo. And the forces of the status quo want tax cuts for the rich, serious cuts in government spending that don’t benefit them (social programs and progressive regulatory schemes), and entitlement ‘reform’ — so that’s what Obama will do.”
- Dan Froomkin writes, “In a lot of ways, we’re worse off today than we were under George W. Bush. Back then, Bush’s extremist assault on civil liberties, human rights and other core American values in the name of fighting terror felt like an aberration. The expectation was that those policies would be quickly reversed, discredited — and explicitly outlawed — once he was no longer in power. Instead, under President Barack Obama, they’ve become institutionalized.” (from Obama Makes Bushism the New Normal)
- Katrina vanden Heuvel Lays Out the Unfortunate Truth About Obama
- Why Progressives Should Run Against Obama and “Blue Dogs” in the 2012 Democratic Party Primaries By Rabbi Michael Lerner
- Olbermann on how Obama has betrayed both his base and his country
- Seymour Hersh unleashed Hersh, whose exposés of gross abuses by members of the U.S. military in Vietnam and Iraq have earned him worldwide fame and high journalistic honors, said he was writing a book on what he called the “Cheney-Bush years” and saw little difference between that period and the Obama administration.
- Seymour Hersh on Obama Being “Dominated” by the U.S. Military”
- Obama Scraps Iraq Withdrawal
- After Reporter’s Subpoena, Critics Call Obama’s Leak-Plugging Efforts Bush-Like
- Obama’s DOJ vs. the First Amendment
- Obama’s Drug War Budget Looks a Lot Like Bush’s “President Obama’s newly released drug war budget is essentially the same as Bush’s, with roughly twice as much money going to the criminal justice system as to treatment and prevention,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the non-profit Drug Policy Alliance. “This despite Obama’s statements on the campaign trail that drug use … See Moreshould be treated as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue.”
- Are Democrats screwed in 2010?
- Obama’s War on the Press Continues
- Obama endorses deficit commission plan
- Obama leans towards centrists on new deficit-reduction panel
- See the June 7, 2010 article “Whacking the Old Folks” in The Nation; the editors are highly critical of Obama’s stance on Social Security.
- For a Year and a Half, No Signs of Torture Ending, Willful Self-Delusion That Torture Has Ended
- Obama secretly deploys US special forces to 75 countries across world
- The Stealth Attack on America’s Best-Loved Program
- Obama’s Health Care Bill Is Enough to Make You Sick
- Obama’s FCC disappoints on media, Internet policies (“Obama appears to be no different from his two immediate predecessors,”)
- The Warren Mystery Paul Krugman speculates whether the Obama team are “idiots.”
- Curbing supporters’ enthusiasm
- Treasury Makes Shocking Admission: Program for Struggling Homeowners Just a Ploy to Enrich Big Banks
- Why Obama can’t blame the GOP for his inability to pass progressive legislation”
- Kabuki Democracy, by Eric Alterman
- What Created the Populist Explosion and How Democrats Can Avoid the Shrapnel in November
- Rabbi Michael Lerner, in Healing from Post Traumatic Abandoned-by-Obama Syndrome, writes, “Many are suffering from post-traumatic Obama abandonment syndrome–an ailment that came from being severely traumatized by Obama’s political moves in the past thirteen months. A palpable sadness, depression, anger and even despair carried by many who had worked for Obama and now felt betrayed by his choices in his first year in office was mixed with compassion and a strong determination to not allow the political Right to use our despair as their ticket to a political revival.” Unfortunately, if anything, the President has become even more conservative since Rabbi Lerner wrotw those words in February 2010.
- The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic According to African American Princeton Professor Cornell West, President Obama is “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”
This was maybe America’s last chance to fight back against the greed of the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats, to generate some serious discussion about public interest and common good that sustains any democratic experiment,” West laments. “We are squeezing out all of the democratic juices we have. The escalation of the class war against the poor and the working class is intense. More and more working people are beaten down. They are world-weary. They are into self-medication. They are turning on each other. They are scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful. It is a profoundly human response to panic and catastrophe. I thought Barack Obama could have provided some way out.
Cornell continues with, “But he lacks backbone.” But the more likely explanation is that Obama is simply conservative in outlook, as described in the next item below.
- Can OWS be turned into a Democratic Party movement? describes how President Obama has been a great friend of Wall Street. He surrounded himself with senior Wall Street Executives, accepted huge donations from them, supported their bailouts, and voted to protect their profits. Moreover, “Obama recently opined — even while there are supposedly ongoing DOJ investigations — that Wall Street’s corruption was, in general, not illegal.”
- Dem berates Obama for ‘quiet’ signing of trade deals
Hell with the DNC! We’ve got to be able to do better than the Pepsi versus Coke brand war of Republicans versus Democrats and their Bush versus Clinton dynastic choices. We need an independent progressive party and independent candidates.
It’s not that I don’t agree that any party championing progressive policies couldn’t inspire more Americans to vote. I do. What I think is now a tired, recycled every four year idea is that the Democrat Party has enough democracy left in it to actually change.
We voted for “hope and change” in 2008. We delivered the mandate and the majorities and what did we get? We got Wall Street bailouts, Insurance co. enshrinement, more perpetual war, zero accountability for war criminals, torturers, liers, pussy-footing on climate and the fracking oiligarchy, with zero defense of people losing homes, etc, etc. Too-little-too-late leadership post 2014 election loss, with meaningless pandering gestures are just desperate attempts to rescue relevance after a massive betrayal of our aspirations and real momentum for actual change.
Even now, when the Democrats have supposedly seen the light… THIS WEEK we saw a ramp up in the active campaigning to “fast tracking” of perhaps the most catastrophic transfer of power – from real human citizens to oligarchic transnational capital and the corporations – in the history of the world, i.e. TPP and its companion so-called “free trade” agreements.
If you want final proof on how little it matters to the Democrats or Republicans what you think, check out this recent presentation by Lawrence Lessig – and note the literal “flat line” on the how public opinion matters. And note the graph on who recovered in this “recovery”. And remember the money primary statistic “.024%” that puts us on par with China (or Hong Kong anyway) in terms of actual democracy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwWH307tDYE
How stupid, desperate, dysfunctional are we that our perpetual hope against hope argument is to keep looking to our abuser the DNC to stop suckling at the tit of the oligarchy and come back to the People?
DNC – kiss my ass! It’s time for a real choice.
Originally on facebook.
This afternoon, a miracle happened in Washington State. The Washington State Democratic Party became the first Democratic State Party in the nation to pass a resolution opposing Common Core! This is huge because Washington State is not only the home state of Bill Gates. It is also the home state for the SBAC Common Core test. If Washington state pulls out of Common Core, it could bring the entire project crashing to the ground.
We realize that several Republican controlled states have already rejected Common Core. But it is much easier for a Republican controlled state to reject Common Core than for a Democratic controlled State to reject Common Core. All Republicans have to do is call it “ObamaCore” and blame the entire thing on those “Damn Democrats” and Republicans will jump at the chance to get rid of Common Core. For example, the Washington State Republican Party passed a resolution opposing Common Core over a year ago.
But not all states are Republican states. Nor do children come with D’s or R’s stamped on their foreheads. For a Democratic state to pass a Resolution opposing Common Core requires going against a sitting Democratic President and also going against nearly your entire Democratic Party political leadership – who are all aligned with Obama and Arne Duncan just as Common Core tests and Common Core books are (supposed to be) aligned with Common Core standards.
A Brief Lesson in Political Organizing
For parents and teachers living in Democratic controlled states and wanting to escape from the death grip of Common Core, we would like to explain how this miracle happened – so that you can use this process as a template to pass a similar resolution in your (Democratic) state.
First, we have been working on this issue for nearly a year. So it will take a lot of patience and determination to overcome the wealthy billionaire controlled wing of the Democratic Party. Do not expect overnight success. You should write a well organized resolution that takes no more than one page. Our successful resolution is at the end of this article if you would like to read it. Feel free to copy it. Unlike Common Core, it is not Copyrighted!
Second, it is helpful if at least some members of your group are already members of your state’s Democratic Party. One of us, David, has been a Precinct Committee Officer (PCO) in the Democratic Party for more than 14 years in East King County, near Seattle Washington. The other of us, Elizabeth, is a new PCO for a different legislative district in North Seattle, Washington. Even if you do not like your local Democratic Party, and you think they are evil, you should join it and start attending monthly party meetings in your legislative district. You will find that Democrats are not as evil as you may have been led to believe. Many of them are parents and teachers just like you. They care about our kids and about the future of our country just like you.
Third, it is helpful if you have passed other resolutions at various levels of the Democratic Party in the past and have at least some idea of how the process works. We have previously passed SIX resolutions in the State Democratic Party before the Common Core Resolution. These include resolutions in favor of a State Public Bank, restoration of Glass Steagall Banking Regulations, Getting the Money out of Politics, and Restoring a Fairer GED test. So this was our seventh successful resolution. But it was also by far the hardest to pass.
Fourth, it is essential to start at the legislative district level. Start with your own legislative district. Attend several monthly meetings. Get to know the other folks attending the monthly meetings. Find out who are parents and teachers and whether their kids are struggling with Common Core. Most kids are having a terrible time. Ask these parents and teachers to help you pass a resolution in your legislative district. After you pass a resolution in your legislative district, work on passing the resolution in neighboring legislative districts.
Fifth, also join Parents Across America (PAA) or start a chapter in your city. We are lucky that Seattle already has a chapter of Parents Across America. One of their leaders, Dora Taylor, was willing to come with us to several legislative districts and help us get the measure passed in those legislative districts. Eventually, we were able to get the Resolution Opposing Common Core passed in four legislative districts.
Sixth, also join your State Party Progressive Caucus. This is also referred to as the “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.” These folks really support public schools and they are really opposed to the billionaires privatizing and taking over public schools. The more wealthy democrats are called “New Democrats.” These are the folks who are in it for the money and are paid off by the billionaires. The benefit of having the resolution passed by the Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party is that these folks are often extremely long time Democrats and they really know the ropes and how to get things done – despite the opposition of the corporate or “New Dems” wing of the Democratic Party. Many are also on the County and /or State Resolutions Committees.
Seven, the next task is to get the resolution considered by the County Resolutions Committee. It is helpful if you have friends on this committee and/or can get to know the members of this committee. This group usually meets once per month.
Eight, the next task is to get the resolution considered by the State Resolutions Committee. This group only meets three or four times per year. There are lots of rules that have to be met to get a resolution considered by the county committee or the state committee. These rules are usually posted on the County Democratic Party website and/or the State Democratic Party website.
Ninth, get to know your progressive State Party leaders. These are elected representatives who care more about kids and parents and teachers than about keeping billionaires happy. We are lucky in our State to have State Senator Maralyn Chase in our corner. Having a well respected leader of the State Party on your side will help because the billionaires will certainly have some state party leaders on their side.
Tenth, get some upset parents and upset teachers on your side. We were very lucky to meet a group of upset teachers organized by a determined and courageous teacher, Becca Richie, who understood that Common Core is very bad for kids. These parents and teachers played a crucial role in helping us get the last few votes we needed to get the resolution passed because thankfully teachers are still highly respected in our state and state delegates were willing to listen to these teachers talk about how Common Core harms kids.
Eleventh, build a website where parents, teachers and State Party delegates can go to learn more about why they should support your resolution. We built a website called “Weapons of Mass Deception (dot) org. To learn more about how to build your own website using a free platform called Joomla, visit one of our other websites: http://buildyourownbusinesswebsite.org/
Strategy At the State Party Meeting
After getting the resolution passed at a legislative district meeting and or a county meeting, it is forwarded to the state party for consideration at the next state party meeting. You need to go to this meeting a day in advance – because the State Resolutions Committee usually considers resolutions the evening before the main state party meeting. Bring a one page flier of no more than ten reasons why those on the resolutions committee should vote for your resolution. Arrive to the committee meeting early and make sure that everyone on the committee gets a copy of your handout. In Washington State, there is usually about 30 people on the resolutions committee. Your state may be bigger or smaller than our state.
The first task of the resolutions committee is to “clean up” your “poorly written” resolution. Do not argue with them. They have been writing resolutions and cleaning up resolutions for years. Let them fix your resolution. They know what they are doing. The second task of the resolutions committee is to decide whether to recommend that the main group “pass” or “not pass” or “table” the resolution or send it to the main body “without recommendation” so it can be debated by the main body. Because Common Core is very controversial in Democratic states, do not be surprised if it is passed to the main body without recommendation. That was what happened to us.
The state resolutions committee usually meets on a Friday night and the main State Party meeting is the following afternoon from 1 to 4 pm. We prepared about 300 handouts to pass out. These were 40 for the Resolutions Committee plus 60 for the Progressive caucus meeting on Saturday morning plus 200 to place on chairs at the main state party meeting 30 minutes before the meeting is scheduled to start. After attending the progressive caucus meeting on Saturday morning, meet with your group of parents and teachers. Hopefully, they will have signs and their own handouts to pass out at the main meeting. Hopefully someone experienced with the process should explain what will happen at the state party meeting.
The goal is to get your team to the meeting before it begins and pass out the fliers with one on every chair. Then have parents and teachers on your team circulate around the big room as the state delegates begin to arrive. The goal of each parent and teacher is to talk with just a few delegates before the main meeting is called to order. You will have about 20 minutes after the delegates arrive. There were 8 of us and with each talking to about five delegates for about 4 minutes each. Together, we were able to share our stories with about 40 out of the 200 delegates. Our goal was simply to “tip” a close vote in our favor. As you approach a delegate, ask them if they have heard of Common Core and if they have decided how they will vote on the resolution. Most delegates will be undecided and will usually give you a couple of minutes to explain to them why they should vote for the resolution. If a delegate has already decided, then move out to someone who is undecided. Do not waste these precious minutes trying to convert someone whose mind is already made up. If a delegate does not support the resolution, then just chalk it up to “Bill Gates and his billions in corporate propaganda.”
You also need to meet with the State party delegates who will each give a two minute speech in favor of the resolution. You need at least two and hopefully three speakers qualified to speak. These folks will likely be state committee delegates from the legislative districts that passed your resolution earlier in the year. They need to not only know about the drawbacks of Common Core, they also need to be able to speak clearly. It is also helpful if they are well known and well respected by other members of the Democratic Party. So choose wisely.
We were lucky to get Sarajane Siegfriedt, the chair of the King County Legislative Action Committee and member of the State Resolutions Committee to speak in favor of the motion. We were also lucky to get Brian Gunn, the chair of the State Progressive Caucus to speak in favor of the motion. Brian said, “Corporations are looking at our children as commodities. We’re allowing corporations that produce these materials and sponsor these tests to treat our children as sources of income…a source of profit. And that source of profit is our own children.”
Our final speaker for the resolution was Richard May, a leader of the Whatcom County Democrats who is also a parent. Richard spoke of the negative impact Common Core had on his two daughters. Richard said that “Common Core sucks… All of the parents and teachers in Bellingham hate it.”
Do not be surprised if the wealthy wing of the party tries to sabotage the issue. In our case, the leaders of the party read a letter from a well known state senator urging the group to vote against the resolution. She warned the group that should this resolution pass, it would make passing a state budget and getting school funding much more difficult. This of course was a lie. Common Core costs our state more than one billion extra dollars for the tests and books. But the goal of the billionaires is not to tell the truth. It is simply to deceive the public.
Next was the big vote. We thought it would be very close – especially after the letter from one of the leaders of the democratic party was read. As it turned out, we won the vote by a two to one margin – with more than 120 state party delegates voting to ignore their own state party leaders and ignore their own President and support our resolution. This huge landslide victory proves that Democrats care just as much about the well being of our children as Republicans.
The other good news is now that Common Core is officially opposed by both the Republican and Democratic Party in Washington State (perhaps the first time we have ever agreed on anything), there will be a bill introduced in the state legislature in the next week to delay or perhaps even halt Common Core in Washington State.
In our opinion, the most crucial element of our success was the presence of real parents and real teachers speaking from their hearts about how Common Core harms their kids. Without these parents and teachers we do not believe we could have been so successful. The other important factor was the year we spent building our team and building support one person at a time and one legislative district at a time within the Democratic Party. Common Core is an extremely complex issue that has billions in marketing used to fool parents. It takes one on one talks to overcome this marketing blitz. But we proved it can be done. We hope you have as much success in your state as we had in ours.
Below is a copy of our successful Common Core resolution. Be sure to visit our website to learn more about the drawbacks of Common Core. Here is the link.
And feel free to email us if you have any questions or need addition help.
David Spring M. Ed. and Elizabeth Hanson M. Ed.
Resolution Opposing Common Core State Standards
WHEREAS the copyrighted (and therefore unchangeable) Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of controversial top-down K-12 academic standards that were promulgated by wealthy private interests without research-based evidence of validity and are developmentally inappropriate in the lowest grades; and
WHEREAS, as a means of avoiding the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment prohibition against federal meddling in state education policy, two unaccountable private trade associations–the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)–have received millions of dollars in funding from the Gates Foundation and others to create the CCSS; and
WHEREAS the U.S. Department of Education improperly pressured state legislatures into adopting the Common Core State Standards and high-stakes standardized testing based on them as a condition of competing for federal Race to the Top (RTTT) stimulus funds that should have been based on need; and
WHEREAS as a result of Washington State Senate Bill 6669, which passed the State legislature on March 11, 2010, the Office of the Superintendent of Instruction (OSPI) adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on July 20, 2011; and
WHEREAS this adoption effectively transfers control over public school standardized testing from locally elected school boards to the unaccountable corporate interests that control the CCSS and who stand to profit substantially; and
WHEREAS the Washington State Constitution also calls for public education to be controlled by the State of Washington through our elected State legislature, our elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction and our elected local school boards; and
WHEREAS implementation of CCSS will cost local school districts hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for standardized computer-based tests, new technology, new curricula and teacher training at a time when Washington is already insufficiently funding K-12 Basic Education without proven benefit to students; and WHEREAS some states have already withdrawn from CCSS;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we call upon the Washington State legislature and the Superintendent of Public Instruction to withdraw from the CCSS and keep K-12 education student-centered and accountable to the people of Washington State.
Originally published at WeaponsOfMassDeception.org
Turnout for last month’s election was low — under 37% nationwide and under 50% in Washington State. National turnout for youth (18 -29) was at about 21.5% according to The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Under 30% of registered voters voted in Texas and New York.
Why was turnout so low?
Disillusion with politicians in general is one explanation.
Thomas Frank blames Republicans’ patented brand of fake populism.
Howard Dean blames gutless Democrats.
Jamelle Bouie in Why Democrats Can’t Win Over White Working-Class Voters says that working class white people think “The Democratic Party is too associated with blacks and too associated with welfare to win over enough whites to make a difference.” Kevin Drum makes the same analysis in Mother Jones (“Can We Talk? Here’s Why the White Working Class Hates Democrats“):
[Social welfare programs] benefit the poor but barely touch the working class. Does it matter that the working class barely pays for most of these programs in the first place, since their federal income taxes tend to be pretty low? Nope. They’re still paying taxes, and it seems like they never get anything for it. It’s always someone else.
Socialist Mike Whitney makes a convincing case for Obama being to blame for low turnout.
The New York Times also blames Obama … Obama Is Seen as Frustrating His Own Party.
It’s hard not to hold Obama largely responsible.
In 2008 the public was disgusted with Republican corruption, mismanagement, and war-mongering. They were ready for real Change that Obama promised. (But here’s a scary thought: 45.7% of voters voted for McCain and Palin in 2008.)
While Obama was never going to live up to the unrealistic hopes raised by his masterful campaign, it’s clear that he barely even tried to enact real change. Democratic partisans who blame just Republicans for the failures of Obama’s leadership are in major denial.
The electorate voted for change in 2008 and instead got a president that surrounded himself with Wall Street cronies and Bush holdovers; a president that protected the war criminals and Wall Street crooks and prosecuted the whistle blowers; a president that promoted a health care plan devised by the Heritage Foundation; a president that expanded the power and activities of the military and the surveillance state; and a president who compromised early and often so that 90% of the Bush tax cuts were made permanent.
Obama himself said, “My policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”
Obama tried to be post-partisan and to “look forward.” Instead he got crushed.
What’s most perplexing is Obama’s failure to communicate clearly who’s to blame for our problems. He’s a great speaker, but he mostly allowed the GOP to control the messaging.
As William Kuttner wrote in HuffPost in 2010, “Let’s stop pretending. Barack Obama is a disaster as a crisis president. He has taken an economic collapse that was the result of Republican ideology and Republican policies, and made it the Democrats’ fault. And the more that he is pummeled, the more he bends over.”
In fact, Glen Ford made a good case that Obama’s talk about post-partisanship was just a smokescreen to justify corporate-friendly policies. In Psycho-Babbling Obama Ford wrote, “Rather than face the fact that Obama is not a friend of the people, leftish commentators insist on conducting a psychological analysis of the president.” .
I think Obama’s central mistake was his decision not to prosecute Bush officials for war crimes — the worst sort of offense: starting a fraudulent war that killed 100s of thousands of people and wasted trillions of dollars. In general, nobody was held responsible for that disaster or for the economic crash of 2007 and 2008. This kept the truth hidden and allowed the wrongdoers to recoup and roar back to life. By 2010 Republican had won back the House. What a disaster! Thomas Frank bemoaned the debacle in his book Pity the Billionaire.
No wonder people didn’t bother to vote. People voted for change and got more of the same.
And it annoys me to no end when Obama supporters pretend Obama did a good job.
So, my hypothesis in this article is that turnout was low largely because of Obama’s failure to lead and because of peoples’ disillusionment with politics in general. I’d be curious to see objective evidence about this hypothesis. Have political scientists and pollsters done interviews to figure out why people didn’t vote? I know many of my coworkers ignore politics because, they say, it’s too depressing and there’s nothing they can do about it.
Of course, you can’t just blame Obama. He couldn’t have changed much alone, even had he tried. The corruption is endemic in D.C. and extends to the highest reaches of the Democratic leadership. For example, in this New Yorker article, Ryan Lizza quotes former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, who may challenge Hillary for in the Democratic primary in 2016:
There is a big tendency among a lot of Democratic leaders to feed some raw meat to the public on smaller issues that excite them, like the minimum wage, but don’t really address the larger problem. … [They’ll] say we’re going to raise the minimum wage, we’re going do these little things, when in reality we need to say we’re going to fundamentally change the tax code so that you will believe our system is fair.
Lizza writes, “He added that one Northeastern senator—Webb wouldn’t say who—’was literally screaming at me on the Senate floor'” in anger over Webb’s plan to tighten regulations of Wall Street. Who was the screaming senator? Chuck Schumer? Hillary?
Hillary is even more friendly to the Pentagon and Wall Street than Obama, but at least she probably wouldn’t have been such a push-over. But if she’s the standard bearer for the Democrats in 2016, the Dems are in for a lot more trouble.
Anyway, it’s clear that Obama barely tried to enact change. Had he fought and lost it would have been better than compromising and repeatedly losing. His compromises didn’t earn him one iota of concession from the GOP. Instead, his compromises disheartened and confused the voters and allowed the GOP to control the messaging.
And it pissed off a lot of erstwhile supporters who lost hope and faith in the democratic and Democratic process.
In the future it will be a lot harder to fool voters and Democratic activists into believing the populist rhetoric that candidates spew when they’re running for office. Obama tricked me, I admit. I volunteered, donated to his campaign and celebrated his victory. By 2010 I was angry.
Democrats sometimes deliver, on wedge issues such as gay marriage, gun rights, and marijuana legalization. (On the other hand, Obama merely followed and didn’t take the lead on these issues.) But on the central issues of economic justice, the Democratic leadership mostly serve the 1%, despite their rhetoric. So, in 2016 the Dems are gonna have trouble tricking progressive again.
We really need to stop Hillary and take back the Democratic Party from the corporate Dems.