Obama the Centrist

John McCain, in Obama is a Centrist, says “The president has become more centrist, which makes him easier to work with.”

Paul Krugman, in The Centrist Cop-Out, says “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. The pres­i­dent, as we’ve seen, was will­ing, even eager, to strike a bud­get deal that strongly favored con­ser­v­a­tive pri­or­i­ties.”

Obama’s Right-Wing Plan to Win the Center — “Obama ‘Big Deal’ on Debt a Gamble to Win the Center” Advisers think securing his plan would ensure general-election victory.

Glenn Greenwald in Barack Obama is gutting the core principles of the Democratic party: “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.”

Jack Cafferty, CNN, writes: “Here is more evidence of the suicide mission this country is on: General Electric announced it’s moving its 115-year-old X-ray business from Waukesha, Wisconsin to Beijing, China. . . . General Electric’s Chief Executive, Jeffrey Immelt, is one of President Obama’s advisers on… ready? U.S. job creation!”

Michael Powell, in Obama the Centrist Irks a Liberal Lion, quotes Robert B. Reich: “If you widen the lens, the public is being sold a big lie — that our problems owe to unions and the size of government and not to fraud and deregulation and vast concentration of wealth. Obama’s failure is that he won’t challenge this Republican narrative, and give people a story that helps them connect the dots and understand where we’re going.”

Mr. Reich, 64, is one of several prominent liberal economists who despair of what they say is this president’s political caution, and his unwillingness to duel with an emboldened Republican Party.

Faced with a Republican majority in the House, Mr. Obama this week appointed Gene Sperling, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, as director of his National Economic Council, and William M. Daley, a centrist politician turned banking executive, as his chief of staff. Mr. Daley was a member of the Third Way, a group that counsels deficit reduction, more tax cuts and perhaps trimming Social Security.

Mr. Reich is not pleased by the president’s message of late.

“By freezing federal salaries, by talking about deficits, by extending the Bush tax cuts, he’s legitimizing a Republican narrative,” Mr. Reich says.

Rep. John Conyers, quoted in Conyers spills the beans on Obama & SS & jobs bill; call for WH protests: “We’ve got to educate the American people at the same time we educate the President of the United States. The Republicans, Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader Cantor did not call for Social Security cuts in the budget deal. The President of the United States called for that. My response to him is to mass thousands of people in front of the White House to protest this. We want him to know from this day forward that we’ve had it. We want him to come out on our side not to watch and wait. We’re suffering.”

See also:

How Obama killed the anti-war movement

Obama as a Centrist. Really

Obama’s Centrist Tone Hits Right Note; State of the Union Ratings Soar

First face the facts

On the way to work yesterday, a young (drunk) guy and his girlfriend got on the bus, after putting their bicycles on the bike rack next to mine.  When the young guy heard me discussing politics with the bus driver, he said, “Well, we oughta half the size of government, ’cause the politicians are screwing everything up.”

This guy seemed down-and-out, so I figure he must watch Fox News and listen to conservative AM talk radio.  The Right has so corrupted and mismanaged government, and so successfully spread their propaganda, that the People no longer trust in the possibility of good government.  They’ve managed to direct the anger of millions of Americans at the government and liberals.  Republicans win by deception and by failure, which they blame on Democrats and government workers.

The mood has changed in the country over the last year. Republicans are going in for the kill, because their 30 year plan to destroy government is coming to fruition.  Among more and more Democrats a real sense of fear and pending doom has taken hold, because the realization has struck that President Obama is a sell-out and the conservatives will have their way with us.

A year ago, it felt exciting and empowering to oppose Obama’s sellouts, because I felt like I was on the vanguard of progressive vision and because I still held out some hope that Obama could be swayed and moderated. The Democrats still controlled the House.

This year I feel there is little hope. Lots of Democrats are threatening to leave the party.  But most Democrats continue to refrain from openly criticizing the President,  because the Republicans are even worse — which is true.

Last fall I submitted a resolution critical of Obama to my local LD (41st). Only one other person supported me. Almost everyone else applauded when I withdrew the resolution.  This year the LD rejected my resolution to overturn I-1053 by challenging its constitutionality. They might as well elect Tim Eyman as their chair.   Anyway, I have little expectation that threats from Democrats would be effective at changing Obama’s policies.

People need to face the facts.  One can say: Obama suffers from a bad case of premature capitulation. But I’d say more:  Obama is a Benedict Arnold: a centrist actively working against Democratic principles. For example, see Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian:   Barack Obama is gutting the core principles of the Democratic party.

But people in the know also say that Obama is powerless to stop the juggernaut: that he has limited control.  It feels like the country is on the verge of a great collapse.  The situation is grim and there is no good option.

This seems credible:   New court filing reveals how the 2004 Ohio presidential election was hacked.

It will take decades to undo the Republicans’ damage to the electoral system, federal agencies, and the courts.   Can we wait that long? The Democratic Party is centrist, so it’s not clear that it will be able to counter the conservative juggernaut. Progressives either flee the Democratic Party or are outnumbered and unwilling to take it over.

Probably when the budget cuts kick in, and when the economy enters the double dip recession, there’ll be more social unrest.  Nonviolent civil disobedience is perhaps a viable option, but I’m not optimistic that that will lead to a good result, due to the power and funding behind right wing populism (Tea Party, etc).

We’re between a rock and a hard place. One hope is that the Republicans over-reach and destroy themselves, but they’ve been over-reaching for years and getting away with it. Already, they’ve probably destroyed the economy and the environment. They’ve destroyed trillions of dollars in wealth — transferring much of it to the super-rich. They’ve thoroughly corrupted D.C. and reversed many decades of precedent. They’re in the process of dismantling the New Deal and drowning state and federal government in the bathtub.

People say that we shouldn’t depend on leaders. People say we have to save ourselves. Bullshit! I don’t believe it if it’s intended to be an excuse for Obama’s fecklessness. We needed a strong president (and a strong governor) to fight conservatives, promote progressive ideas, and do what had to be done to change the system. Obama wasn’t the man. And Christine Gregoire wasn’t the woman. Apparently, (s)he barely cared. At best, (s)he wimped out.

And to the extent that the Democratic Party allows Obama Gregore to get away with their many compromises and sell-outs, the Party weakens itself. Millions of voters will and should demand better.

 

AM1090 Forum in Kent: Kucinich shines, progressive talk show hosts mostly defend Obama

On Saturday about a thousand people went to the Showare Center in Kent, WA to hear speeches and a panel discussion by Dennis Kucinich, Ron Reagan, Jr., Norman Goldman, Randi Rhodes, Stephanie Miller,  Mike Malloy, and Mike Papantonio.

Kucinich

Kucinich got repeated cheers and standing ovations from the crowd. He said the expected things about ending wars, achieving fair taxation, raising the debt ceiling, protecting Social Security, and taking our government back from the corporations. He worked the crowd well.

There’s absolutely no valid reason why Washington, D.C. is talking about reducing Social Security. It’s rock solid through 2036. Besides, it’s easy to fix, raise the FICA cap above $106,000 so the rich pay their fair share, Kucinich said.

We need another New Deal.

The 1915 Federal Reserve Act took the money power from Congress (where, according to the Constitution, it belongs) and gave it to the Fed.

The other panelists and questioners from the audience were often talking doom and gloom, but Kucinich stayed positive and inspiring.

“Find a vision so that America’s future will be as bright as the day is outside.” (Seattle had sun for a change this weekend.) We need health care for all, jobs for all, education for all, and peace for all. We need an America dedicated to peace. End the American imperium. What’s our vision? Through our creativity and our love of our country we can take back America.

In response to a question from the audience about what practical steps activists can take, Kucinich said that door-to-door contact is important. People are too isolated. Reawaken the sense of citizenship. Stand up at small meetings and talk, like that brave guy in the Norman Rockwell painting. Reclaim our capacity for citizenship door-to-door, neighborhood-to-neighborhood, block-to-block, etc.

Robert Kennedy inspired Kucinich. In a 1968 speech in Capetown Kennedy spoke to students suffering under apartheid. Each time a man or woman stands up for an ideal or strikes out for justice, he sends out ripples of hope. Ripples create a current which sweeps out resistance. We can defy powers which seem omnipotent. I refuse to believe we cannot change the world. Project the fire. We can make the night a bright place.

With these words, Kucinich left for a red-eye flight back to Ohio. He left with a bang. The other panelists continued talking.

Mike Malloy said that when Kucinich speaks Malloy feels “sucked into his vortex of optimism.”

During intermission, Kucinich walked through the crowd, shaking hands. I shook his hand and asked him if he needs help running for Congress in Washington State. He said, “We’ll see.” A questioner also asked him if he’ll run in the 1st Congressional District, where Rep. Jay Inslee is vacating his seat to run for governor. Who knows? was the response.

I heard Kucinich speak at the NW Roots conference a few weeks ago, and that time I thought he went overboard on the sentimentality. This time he hit the correct tone: inspiring but not sentimental.

On Supporting Obama

During the two hour event, there was much criticism of the Democrats and Obama. But at the end most of the panelists agreed that Democrats should continue to support Obama in 2012.   As bad as Obama is on some issues, the Republicans will be even worse. If the GOP get control of the House, Senate, and White House, things will be very grim indeed. (Damn! Things are  already pretty grim, in my opinion.)

Stephanie Miller said  that people may call her an Obama apologist but , “I don’t have anythying fuckin to apologize for.”  Obama ended DADT and did a good job given what he had to deal with.   “Guess what? I’m a homo and a Jew.”  (Miller was drunk by now, perhaps. She was vulgar and crude throughout the event.)

Mike Malloy didn’t defend Obama. In fact, Malloy said, “The Democratic Party is dead.”

Norman Goldman disagreed with Malloy’s pessimism:  We may quibble about Obama’s policies but look at all the progress we’ve made over the years. We have a black in the White House. We’ve ended DADT.  I’m goddamn proud about what happened. Yes, we’re going backwards now. We’re up against forces of evil. It’s always darkest before dawn. I’m running out of cliches. We’re fighting very powerful forces. We’re on the right side of history. Don’t give up.  In 1841 abolitionists felt hopeless about change. Sometimes we’re short-sighted. (Yes, and it took a terrible Civil War to end slavery. I fear that things will get much worse before they get better in America, because the “forces of evil” are relentless.)

Randi Rhodes said: everything takes time. Half the problem now is that we didn’t show up to vote in 2010. (Is that our fault or Obama’s fault?) “We have an awesome president.” (Many of us disagree!)

Ron Reagan said that this fight is going to extend past our lifetimes. There are fundamental issues at stake.  Our side believes that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. The other side doesn’t believe that way. They think that if you’re poor it’s your fault.  The GOP lie to you. I know that we’re not supposed to say “lie” in the media. But it’s true. GOP’s McDonnell says that Obama asks Congress to raise the debt ceiling. That’s a lie. The US Treasury asks that.  If the GOP and take the Presidency, the House, and the Senate, we’ll never get it back. Understand that it’s a hard fight.

We’ll all be in Alabama.

Mike Papantonio said: we talk show hosts are in this for you. We were in it when there wasn’t a paycheck and when we were under legal attack. We are there for you. I promise you.

Details

Let’s rewind to the start of the event. Norman Goldman is such a nice guy! Several times he said, in a high voice and with sincerity, “I love each and every one of you.” At one point he said, “Pardon me for stealing someone’s line but, “I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK!” (in a child’s voice). What’s happening to the country is like a bad meal, painful when it passes through.

Goldman said, “I love you Seattle.” Seattle was his first radio station. He’s in LA now but they don’t have on on air there!

Bigger than the debt ceiling story is the story about News Corp and its hacking scandal. News Corp apparently paid over $680,000,000 to settle hacking lawsuits. The SOB Murdoch is on the run. Roger Ailes paid $11,000,000 to Patricia to keep her story quiet. Most disturbingly, one of the News Corp whistle-blowers ended up dead.

Too much of the mainstream media treats Fox News as a legitimate news organization. But it ain’t. Murdoch is a pig bastard, someone said.

Ron Reagan said that Murdoch at age 80 must be looking back at his life and realizing: my legacy is a giant empire of shit.

Journalism is a protected profession, according to the 1st Amendment. According to the 1934 Federal Communications Act, the airwaves belong to The People. Kucinich said we’ve gotten away from a vision of the Public Commons. Randi Rhodes said that nowadays there are no journalistic standards. Years ago broadcasters had to open their files and justify that they served the public interest. There was the Fairness Doctrine which required broadcasters to give equal time to opposing views. Journalists were trained professionals. Nowadays they hire some good-looking actress to read the news, and to renew your broadcast license you just send in a post card once every few years. The merging of media started with Bill Clinton’s signing of the Telecommunications Act.

The government should take Fox’s license away.

Citizen media (websites, blogs, etc) are very important. Commondreams, alternet, etc. The Networks are talking about stopping citizen media, which offer competition.

Stephanie Miller is traveling around the country promoting and holding her “Sexy Liberal Show.” She said that right wingers hacked into her website and twitter account. Conservatives hate it when liberals succeed at capitalism.

Randi Rhodes was sued by a defense contractor. Mike Malloy got fired for filling in for her. The powers that be disliked it when they spoke truth to power.

A questioner asked: how can progressive retake the Democratic Party from centrist Democrats like Obama?

Randi Rhodes said that we should all show up at Democratic meetings. It’s very simple. (As I always say, angry conservatives take over the GOP; angry progressives flee the Democratic Party.)

Mike Malloy said The Democratic Party IS DEAD. It’s almost as corrupt as the GOP.

Dennis Kucinich said that it feels like he’s almost doing missionary work with the Democrats. Don’t look for change to come from Washington. It’ll have to come from the People. He sees a lot of reawakening among the unions. Over the last 30 years many union members voted Republican, figuring that they were part of the Establishment. (Reagan Democrats) But with what happened in Wisconsin and with the Tea Party, union members are starting to realize that the GOP wants to destroy the unions. (Boy, it took them a long time to figure that out!) Ft. Lauderdale policemen changed from GOP to Dems. Probation officers in CA did too. Randi Rhodes said she’s often called on now to give speeches to unions that wouldn’t have called on her years ago.  Why  they want a post-menopausal women is beyond her.

Ron Reagan joked: it’s surprising how many men do want to be post-menopausal women. (Great laughter)

Alabama recently passed a law that criminalized driving an illegal immigrant to the hospital! The effect of such laws is that many farmers’ crops are rotting in the field in Alabama.

When GOP policies affect peoples’ pocketbooks, they’ll start revising their political views.

But the question is: are the Dems really much better?

The talk show hosts are funny, and they made us laugh a lot. One good scene was when Randi Rhodes got down on her knee and begged Dennis Kucinich to run for Congress in Florida. Ron Reagan begged too for something, and so did Mike Malloy.

Randi Rhodes said the critical change we need is public financing of elections. It takes $1 billion to become president and $1 million to run for Congress.

Stephanie Miller said that 70% of Americans agree with us on issues like ending wars, single payer, and fair taxation. But the politicians don’t listen to us.

Norman Goldman said there’s a big disconnect between the corporate leadership of the Democratic Party and the grassroots. We need lots of $5 donations and we need Internet activism, like Howard Dean and Obama got in 2004 and 2008.

Democrats need to talk about issues, not labels. We can win on the issues.

Democrats have lost our anger. [Yes, I agree: I saw this with Tim Eyman and other anti-tax nutcases who stood up tall and yelled their poisonous distortions at the King Country Metro hearings in Kirkland a few weeks ago.]

Mike Malloy agreed with Goldman: you can’t be a great lawyer unless you find your anger. People/voters respect anger.

[So, what wins? Love or hatred? Unfortunately, I think hatred and fear and anger usually win in politics.]

A questioner asked whether Hillary Clinton would have been tougher with the Republicans than Obama? Should we have chosen Hillary?

Stephanie Miller said, “If my aunt had a dick, she’d be my uncle.” In fact, Miller repeatedly said crude, profane things — up to a point where I and others were annoyed by her disruptions. She was drinking wine and offered some to others. Was she drunk?

Norman Goldman said that Hillary would have been another corporate Dem. Yes, she would have fought harder, but she would have fought for the wrong things. We have to stand by the choices that we make.

Dennis Kucinich pointed out that a huge number of Tea Party congressmen voted against funding the war in Libya. We need to build some coalitions on separate issues and forget about labels and parties. Forget finding someone who agrees with you on every issue. With 50% of discretionary spending devoted to the Pentagon, we need to be flexible about ending it.

Why isn’t ending the wars part of the debt ceiling debate?

Ron Reagan: We’re a military empire. It never works out. Just ask the British, the Spanish, the Dutch, etc.

Peter Papantonio (I think) said: We’re all victims of multi-conglomerates, who are like occupiers: they extract as much as they can (resources, labor) and move on. We’re targets of multi-conglomerates’ imperialism. They take away labor, resources, regulations, infrastructure..

Kucinich said: yes, but we don’t become victims unless we buy into it. (?????I don’t think that’s correct.) We need to break through fear. Get past militarization of thought. Get over us versus them.

Norman Goldman (whom I like!) said we need to concentrate on simple messages:

  • Downsize the empire. We spend $1 trillion a year on military.
  • Tax fairness
  • End corporate welfare

With simple sound-bites like this, separate from party labels, we’ll get 80% of the public support.

Stephanie Miller said: I got new batteries in my vibrator, so I got a second wind. (!!)

Kucinich said that trade is a race to the bottom. Trade agreements ship jobs overseas and weaken labor, environmental, and health standards.

Corporations invest in candidates. We got to check that the candidates we support actually support the issues we want. (I thought Obama would support more progressive issues.)

Mike Malloy said that we have to take the voting system away from the corporations. They count our votes. Our voting system has been privatized. Until we fix that, we’re screwed. (Yep.) Go back to paper ballots.

Asked what his dad would think of the current GOP, Ron Reagan, Jr. said that his dad would be more like Obama (a centrist) than like most of the GOP. Though he disagreed with many of his father’s positions, he’s certain that his father would not have supported torture. He did agree to raise taxes. On gays in the military, his dad would say “You don’t have to be straight. You just have to shoot straight.”

How much damage did President Reagan do? Norman Goldman asked an expert about this in 1982. The expert said: the damage that you can’t see (judges, rules, money) is immense. Over the past 30 years, the GOP has radically altered power in Washington, especially in the courts and agencies. Even if we want to pass progressive legislation, it won’t be enforceable.

Mike Papantonio said that he recalls an interview with Karl Rove that appeared in The New Yorker. Rove said that his top priorities were to destroy the labor movement and the justice system. And he wanted to create fear. Rove succeeded at getting judges to nullify our issues. We read the newspaper only above the fold; what’s hidden is more important.

Now it's clear: July 23 Speakout event to include Jim McDermott

In an earlier post, Questions about Progressive Congress’s Speakout event on July 23 in Seattle, I expressed confusion and perplexity about the purpose of a Speakout (“Congressional Listening Tour”) event in Seattle. But today I got email that explained what’s going on. Rep Jim McDermott (D), a progressive hero, and other unspecified lawmakers will be attending the event on July 23 at South Seattle Community College’s Brockey Center, at 6000 16th Ave SW, Seattle, 98106.

“Pro-worker Members of Congress are coming to town to hear from us about the need for good jobs in our community…. Tell your story to members of Congress who are working to create good jobs and opportunity for every American.”

The email said the event is sponsored by ProgressiveCongress.org, the advocacy group led by Washington State’s own Darcy Burner.

Robert Sargent says that he expects to see Dennis Kucinich at the event, since Kucinich will be at an event in Kent later in the evening.

Thoughts on yesterday's American Dream meeting

Like tens of thousands of other people across the country, I attended an American Dream meeting this weekend.   The meetings were organized by MoveOn.org and supported by dozens of other liberal advocacy groups as well, as you can see by viewing the icons of advocacy groups at the bottom of this MoveOn page.  If the Democratic Party did its job, we would not need all those advocacy groups.

I’ve been active in local politics for several years and I was happy to see lots of new faces.  About 25 people showed up. One thing I noticed was that almost everyone was new. Other than the host for the event, everyone was a new face, I think.  What happened to all the regulars?  Burnt out perhaps.

Everyone who showed up seemed deeply concerned about what is happening to the country. A few people seemed particularly smart and focussed. The average age was probably in the 60s.

The meeting agenda asked us to bring an object that had special meaning for us, introduce ourselves, tell personal stories,and then vote on the top three issues that concerned us. Examples of issues included overturning Citizens United, reversing the Bush tax cuts, establishing Medicare for all, supporting public workers, stopping the offshoring of jobs and profits, closing the revolving door for lobbyists, public financing of campaigns, supporting public education, supporting women’s rights, raising the Social Security contribution limit from $106,000. etc, etc, etc.  We broke into two groups and spent over an hour reading through the lists, discussing them, and voting.   This exercise had some value, I suppose, but people thought: we need to work on all these issues and all these issues are inter-related.  What’s the point of these votes?

Two issues that seemed not to be directly included on the list were (1) securing the integrity and transparency of elections, and (2) strengthening progressive media.  After some discussion, my group agreed to ask/petition MoveOn to include election integrity in its list of important issues.

During my self-introduction I said  that if angry progressives kicked out centrists and took over the Democratic Party the way Christian conservatives and Tea Partiers took over the GOP, then the Democratic Party would be more progressive.

American Dream House  Meeting

The meeting was useful as an introduction for new people, but I think almost everyone there was already pretty informed and pretty damn angry.  So, I think the meeting would have been a lot more productive if there had been a concrete action plan for participants to follow.  I didn’t come away with the feeling that anything much was accomplished. At work, every meeting has a clearly specified purpose. Nothing is more disheartening than a useless meeting.

Telling personal stories and bringing a meaningful object strike me as rather childish. Perhaps that’s overly judgmental.

Early in the meeting, one outspoken and eloquent woman said, “Let’s meet and discuss how to oppose the Tea Party.” That sounds like it could have been damn useful.  Some other guy mentioned that he’d attended the transit hearing in Kirkland the other week and that he was disturbed to hear angry, organized anti-tax people, including Tim Eyman. Why can’t progressives be powerful like that?  That’s the same point I made here, in my review of the Kirkland meeting.

MoveOn and the other organizers are planning additional American Dream meetings in the future.  Let’s hope that turnout continues to be high and that the agendas include work on  concrete action plans that participants can follow.

People are angry. How can the Left constructively mobilize that anger?

The organizer for my meeting, Jennie Petersen, allowed everyone to stay late.  The meeting included a pot luck, and the food sure was good!  Someone mentioned that right wingers often socialize through their church groups.  I said that for liberals, maybe politics is our way to socialize. So I guess it’s important to keep it fun.

The spokesman for the American Dream movement is Van Jones, the Obama  environmental adviser who was forced out by right wing distortions (and by Obama Administration spinelessness).  When I did a google search on “‘American Dream’ Jones”, the first relevant hit — the very first hit was irrelevant: a music album by Mike Jones — was a right winger’s attack piece on Van Jones and the American Dream movement.    Search engine optimization is important.  Messaging and building a left wing media are important.

Why it is Important to the Peace Movement to keep Dennis Kucinich in Congress

I  think all this talk about allowing Republicans in Ohio to gerrymander Dennis Kucinich out of Congress fails to consider the bigger picture. If  we in the Peace Movement lose Dennis’s voice in Congress, who will lead  the cause of peace in what has become a war-mongering nation? No one in  Congress has been more consistently opposed to wars than Dennis Kucinich. No one has been more outspoken and courageous in standing up to the military industrial monopoly than Dennis. No one has been a greater defender of the US Constitution and the Duty reserved to Congress to declare war than Dennis. So, as someone who believes in the cause of peace, come Hell or High Water, I am going to do everything I can to keep Dennis in Congress – wherever he runs.

The only question in my mind is what is the best way to keep Dennis in Congress? I have reviewed the political nightmare in Ohio – analyzing every one of their Congressional Districts. Republicans are in charge of  redistricting in Ohio and there is no question that after Republicans get through redrawing the Ohio map, Dennis will have no viable options left in Ohio – given his pledge that he will not run against another incumbent Democrat. I then moved on to study every other State picking up Congressional seats. Most of these are in Texas and Florida – two States where Dennis would be unlikely to win.

Finally, I looked at Washington State . Here is a study I did explaining why it is highly likely that the new 10th Congressional District will be in NE King County – and will be a Democratic leaning Congressional District with no incumbent from either party. Having lived in NE King County for more than 30 years, I am extremely confident that Independents and even Republicans would vote for Dennis – because out here spending trillions of dollars on endless wars has become VERY unpopular.

So  yes, THOUSANDS of peace advocates from all over the US would work hard to elect Dennis wherever he ran. And THOUSANDS of peace advocates from Seattle would also work hard to elect Dennis should he run here in Washington State . But ultimately it will be up to the voters. So the question is whether the voters of East King County would support a nationally known Peace Candidate like Dennis. I believe they will. And I  believe this new Congressional District in our State will be Dennis’s best chance of any place in the entire nation to remain in Congress.

I am sorry about what is happening in Ohio . But there is nothing I can do about the problem of the out-of-control Republicans in Ohio who hate Dennis so much they are willing to rig the election system just to get rid of him. But should Dennis decide to come to Washington State , I for one intend to work day and night and knock on as many doors as I can to help keep Dennis’s voice for Peace in Congress.

NW Roots Conference: Joel Connelly and others at media workshop

Joel Connelly attended the NW Roots conference in Seattle yesterday and wrote these two articles about it: Inslee takes the edge off controversial idea and Red meat from a vegan — Kucinich.

The second article contains several taunts against Kucinich: “fiery old-time populism, mixed with New Age”, “is looking to Washington as a state where he once saw a UFO (staying at Shirley MacLaine’s home in Graham)”,  and “The congressman mentioned ‘violence against animals.'”  Even the title “Red meat from a vegan — Kucinich” is a taunt.

Curmudgeonly Connelly sometimes espouses progressive views, but he’s no apologist for progressives. As a professional journalist, he probably should be skeptical.

I lamented to him the loss of the Seattle P-I editorial page. He smirked and said that few people had read it, and it was boringly predictable in its liberal views. I said that at least it provided balance to the Seattle Times’ editorial page. I asked him why the P-I doesn’t raise the prominence of the P-I’s online editorial pages, so that readers can contribute and feel invested. He said they might. I asked him whether the Seattle Times is making money. He said: probably they’re losing money.

So far the Seattle Times — which I don’t subscribe to and avoid visiting, as punishment for their adamant opposition to I-1098 — does not mention NW Roots, at least on its home page.

At the media break-out session at NW Roots, Connelly and others, including Darcy Burner, discussed the prospects for finding a viable funding model for newspapers and investigative journalism. My question to the panel was about public funding for investigative journalism. Just as we need the police and the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to protect us, we should fund independent investigative journalism. It would serve the public good and forgoing it is just stupid. But anti-tax craziness has overtaken the nation, and people are hardly even willing to fund public education.

Connelly responded that well-written, engaging journalism can both entertain and inform. He gave an example: an interesting story that had political impact. “Reports of newspapers’ demise have been greatly exaggerated.” People thought that file sharing would be the end of the music business. But iTunes shows that you can make money online. We need a similar model for news.

But I doubt it’s doable in general: I think that the Internet has doomed effective for-profit investigative journalism. Too few people are willing to pay for hard news, as opposed to smut and entertainment and financial advice. Furthermore, I think that in the long run, America will return to the balance between public and private that the Founders saw we needed. The US Constitution is a compromise between big-government Federalists and small-government Jeffersonians. It calls for the defense of the General Welfare, as discussed here. But recently America has lost its balance.

Other things said at the media break-out session:

Murdoch has moved from the gutter to the sewer (phone hacking, bribery). Britain’s news is even worse than America’s.

The Internet and Net Neutrality are our last great hope for media (Darcy). Millenials (under 30) don’t watch TV or read regular newspapers. They use facebook. Blue ocean territory.

The Right has set up virtuous cycles with huge return on investment. They buy politicians and media and both reward them.

Q: How can I get press accreditation (credentials)? Show you get your major income from journalism. (lol)

Recently, Rob McKenna refused to speak when a lefty cameraman appeared at a speech.

Journalists really do aim for accuracy and evidence. Too many bloggers eschew accuracy for opinion. (Connelly) Someone disagreed, saying, “Just because they’re paid to write doesn’t mean they’re accurate.” (Fox News) Unpaid bloggers sometimes break great stories (Bush torture). Connelly said: sometimes corporate media do it right and break good stories, even if it dooms them financially. (He gave an example of the Hearst Corporation’s plan to by the Tri-City Herald and the concurrent story in the P-I about a 25 year radioactive leak from a smokestack in that community.)

To attract readers, don’t use facts and graphs, as Drew Westen suggests in The Political Brain.

Ultimately people will have to pay for online content or no one will produce it. (I’m not getting paid for this!) Hard to get paywalls started; people go to free content.

More on NW Roots soon.

Questions about Progressive Congress's Speakout event on July 23 in Seattle

ProgressiveCongress.org and Progressive Action Fund are sponsoring a public event on July 23 at South Seattle Community College. Here is their blurb (copied from a pdf file they sent):

It’s not often that lawmakers come to our community to ask directions, but that’sexactly what they’re doing.

Our community has been hit hard by the economy. For too long, Congress has
taken us in the direction of tax cuts for the rich and bailouts for banks and big
business. That has only put us farther down the road to ruin. We know the road to solving this crisis is through making corporations and CEOs pay their fair share so our government can use our tax dollars to create good jobs—not corporate bailouts.

Members of Congress who are interested in getting things back on the right track are coming to Seattle to get directions from us; to hear about our experiences and our ideas for fixing this crisis. It’s our turn to make sure they hear what we need—good jobs for our community.

Bring your neighbors and family and let’s make our voices heard. Together we can help Congress get back on the road to recovery.

Saturday, July 23
Noon (doors open at 11:30 a.m.)

Brockey Conference Center,
South Seattle Community College
6000 16th Ave. SW

One part of this that confuses me is the statement “Members of Congress who are interested in getting things back on the right track are coming to Seattle to get directions from us.” This is unclear. Who’s “us”? What members of Congress? Where in Seattle? Will members of Congress be at the event on July 23? Do the members of Congress really want to “get directions from us”? My guess is that lawmakers will be on recess and will return to their districts all over the country. I doubt that lawmakers will be at the event.

Also, what exactly is the purpose of the meeting?

[Added on July 19, 2011: Now it’s clear: July 23 Speakout event to include Jim McDermott]

According to their About page, “Progressive Congress was built at the intersection between the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and the progressive movement to connect the progressive movement, ideas, and Congress. Founded by the leadership and staff of the CPC and key leaders in the progressive movement, the board includes a broad cross-section of the progressive community in the United States and the leadership of the CPC.”

Their Progressive Messaging Projects have poll-tested suggestions about how progressives should talk to undecideds about taxes, deficits, health care and other issues.

Progressive Congress’s president and executive director is Washington State’s own Darcy Burner, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Dave Reichert in the 8th CD in 2006 and 2008.

Progressive Congress’s board of directors seems good.

The organization seems useful, but it’s unclear to me how it’s supposed to mesh with the hundreds of other progressive advocacy groups competing for our support.   MoveOn and VanJones, for example, are trying to organize a mass movement. PDA is always doing good work too.   Progressive Congress itself has a ProgressiveMap project, which is “a free encyclopedia about the people, issues, and groups shaping the progressive movement. Begun in 2009 and launched in 2010, ProgressiveMap now has 880 articles, as of today, thanks to interested contributors like you.”

Ideally, the Democratic Party would do its job and fight against conservative policies. But since the Democrats are complicit in corruption and militarism, we need all these progressive advocacy groups. Many good Democrats know this is so. If progressives overthrew the centrist Dems, the way the religious conservatives and Teabaggers kicked out centrist Republicans. we’d be way better off. But don’t take this to mean that the progressive Left is as crazy as the Tea Party Right.  In science and in society, there are winners and losers, right and wrong. To determine the truth about global warming, we don’t split the difference between climate scientists and climate-change deniers. To determine the truth about the origins of humanity, we don’t split the difference between evolutionary biologists and believers in creationism. Nor should we say, as you often hear, that the progressive left is as crazy as the Tea Party right.

Anyone know more about this Progressive Congress meeting?