A new year is upon us after several disappointing years in trying to achieve progress for all Americans. For me this new year will be tempered with more than frustration for the failure we have faced in trying to achieve a just society for all Americans. It will be tempered by the sadness of being the first year I will face without my favorite American of all, my father George Dillon. A man that was much more than a father to me. He was my best friend, my mentor, my business partner and my greatest defender. In him I see all I wish my country could be and all that those I despise on the other side of the spectrum are not.
It seems everyone is writing about Ron Paul these days, and not in the usual way, as Paul's supporters inundate the inboxes and Twitter feeds of anyone who challenges Paul's agenda, the Campaign for Liberty, the "Ron Paul rEVOLution" or the case for why anyone who isn't a member in good standing of the John Birch Society should vote for him.
Contrary to Ron Paul Nation's belief in a well-coordinated smear campaign, the reason people are writing about Paul now is because he's in contention for a first place finish in both the Iowa Caucus and, perhaps on the strength of an Iowa upset, the New Hampshire primary. That Paul is in this position is no small feat. Paul's supporters are nothing if not determined. In their own way, they are a testament to the power of organizing.
But as Paul's campaign tries to bring progressive voters into their fold it's imperative to look at not just the parts of Paul's message that are appealing to people with progressive values, but the proffered progressive case for Paul in totality.
FYI: This was written before I read that PolitiFact had decided to label an accurate claim its "lie of the year." It seems Paul Ryan's "contact PolitiFact and tell them to give me an intellectual bailout" lobbying campaign paid off for him. For more on this, see Brian Beutler, Dean Baker, and Paul Krugman.
I won't be backing down on this one bit and I seriously doubt anyone else will be either. Truth doesn't change just because PolitFact, in all of its posturing glory, wishes it would.
The usual suspects, still pining for a Beltway "Grand Bargain" -- a bad solution that focuses on the wrong problem -- are reliant on a false equivalency. Their line goes something like this: Social Security and Medicare supporters like the NCPSSM (National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare) and the Strenghten Social Security coalition are no different than Grover Norquist.
To turn a popular phrase at the moment, this is a DC drone's idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like. Whether the person giving voice to this "analysis" actually believes it or they're repeating it as a testament to their own Seriousness, they're out of their depth in a kiddie pool.
Feb. 7, 2003 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to U.S. troops in Aviano, Italy: "It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
Or perhaps this not long after?
March 4, 2003 Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a breakfast with reporters: "What you'd like to do is have it be a short, short conflict. . . . Iraq is much weaker than they were back in the '90s," when its forces were routed from Kuwait.
Oh, and don't forget this!
March 11, 2003 Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars: "The Iraqi people understand what this crisis is about. Like the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberator."
And then sadly but predictably, the walk back begins......
I got a weird little story about my friend Blitz Krieger to bring to you today.
He's had a crazy drug problem, he has, and over the past few months he thought he had found a solution - in fact, he thought he had found the solution of his dreams - but in the end, he's discovered that the things you dream about often don't go according to plan.
The way it's worked out for him so far, it's been a lot of anticipation followed by a sudden wave of frustration, but I feel like he's a lot better off having his particular problem with his drug problem...because if he'd had cancer instead, he'd surely be dead by now.
Nearly a month ago, Thierry Weinberg had a post at Pure People entitled, Los Angeles' Streetcar Plans: Too Duplicative of Existing Services?. He wrote:
According to Sleepwell Property Management, Los Angeles has big hopes for its downtown, and, like most of the country's major cities, it has seen significant population growth in the inner core over the past ten years. Now, to extend this renaissance, the city - also like many others - is planning a streetcar line that would traverse the district from north to south. Last month, it applied for $37.5 million in U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant dollars, which it hopes to supplement with local and private funds to complete an initial route of between 3 and 5 one-way track miles at a cost of between $106 and $138 million.
Despite the fact that planning for the L.A. streetcar goes back for more than a decade thanks to the work of a public-private local advocacy group, the city will have plenty of competition in its effort to win federal funds. Requests for the third round of TIGER funding outnumbered actual funding available by 27 to 1. With so many projects up for consideration, anything funded by Washington ought to be valuable. But L.A.'s project could benefit from significant improvement.
On Sunday night 60 Minutes went there. Prosecuting Wall Street asks why over three years after the Great Crash of 2008, no one on Wall Street has been prosecuted. Specifically, why haven't the Department of Justice or the SEC prosecuted Wall Street for violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act? CBS' Steve Kroft interviewed two high-level whistleblowers and Obama Administration Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.
Good luck and congrats to Cenk Uygur and The Young Turks on their debut tonight on Current TV. Cenk really paid his dues during a lot of lean years to build a significant audience and he is rightly reaping the rewards now. Regardless of whether you love Cenk or not, we should all celebrate the fact that a non-conservative source of commentary and news has percolated up from the blogosphere into broadcast television and a mass audience.
It does beg the question though, in a media environment where liberals and progressives have created so many wonderful communities at places like Dailykos.com, talkingpointsmemo.com, firedoglake.com and drudgeretort.com to name just a few, why have there been so few successes at daily, live internet TV from a progressive perspective?
Partially, the answer is expense: it simply costs more to have a TV studio, cameras, technicians, lights, editing equipment, etc than it does to type on a keyboard, as is the principle requirement for text-based blogs and news sites.
At the risk of seeming offensively self-serving, I am planning on starting a daily internet-based hour long Internet TV show on hard news and politics beginning March 1, 2012. I already have a full-functioning TV studio in midtown Manhattan (for my training business) and I have plenty of interns and access to interesting guests (my studio is right down the street from the Today Show and Fox News Channel). For now, the format will be similar to Morning Joe and The Young Turks, but with a higher percentage of Skype TV interviews and telephone interviews with news makers and prominent liberal/progressive voices.
While I have tried a lot of different live and on-demand online TV ventures over the years, I'm the first to admit I've never figured out the ideal editorial mix or strategy. So I wondered if I might pick your brains on this:
1. Do liberals/progressives even like the medium of video/TV? (After all, the audience for Fox destroys the audience for MSNBC and Current combined)
2. Is there a need for another daily live Liberal/Progressive online TV show? (The Young Turks will still be doing an online show and they do a good job).
3. Is there some way of doing a New York City-based daily show that will compliment other liberal/progressive shows already in existence?
4. How can a new liberal/progressive online TV show integrate and unite the liberal/progressive blogosphere and help build a larger community?
5. Would you like to see a show that had a regular cast of, say, the top twenty liberal/progressive bloggers with regular or semi-regular on-camera appearances?
6. What would make the most prolific commenters on liberal/progressive blogs also want to participate/comment on a live daily TV show?
7. Would prolific liberal/progressive commentators want to call into a show regularly or merely text in comments?
8. What sort of guests on a show like this would make it stand out from already excellent segments seen on Rachel, Keith or Cenk?
9. Who would be great guests of interest to the Liberal/Progressive community you would want to hear from but who normally never get airtime?
10. Who would be good co-hosts for a show like this?
11. What else could a show like this do to build a large, mass audience?
12. Would you like to be involved as a host, co-host, pundit, producer, booker or armchair adviser for this new show? If so, please leave a comment here or email me directly at tj (at) dailynational (dot) com.
A while back, I described how the peculiar institution of the US Senate Filibuster came into being:
The ability to Talk a Bill to Death was introduced by mistake when Aaron Burr in 1806 argued for removal of the motion to "move the previous question". This is a motion that can be used to postpone debate, when a measure does not yet have a majority, and can of course also be used to bring a measure to a vote, if it has a majority. Aaron Burr appealed to the fact that it had only passed once in the previous four years - but then again, the Senate did not at that time have a filibuster tradition.
But then we went for nearly two centuries with the filibuster being used to kill much progressive legislation, but not being used on a routine basis.
Eventually, as filibusters became more common, the Senate found that it had to re-introduce a version of "moving the previous question", which is the infamous, and confusing to non-insiders, "cloture" vote. This was originally set at a the same supermajority as required of Constitutional Amendments, 2/3 of Senators voting.
This held us through to the post-WWII era. After the experience of the decades long filibustering of civil rights legislation, the cloture threshold was lowered to 60% ~ but it was 60% of all Senators. At the same time, the "morning business" part of the Senate session was created, which allowed many routine operations to continue alongside a filibuster.
It was at this point that the foundations for the present abuse of the filibuster were in place. With far more ideological overlap then than now, there was an informal understanding of the kinds of things that would be subjected to filibuster and the kinds of things that would not be. But there was no longer strong support in the rules for restricting filibusters to major issues, which has led to the "60 Senators to get anything done" rule of thumb that now governs the Senate.
Ideally, we would just eliminate the filibuster. There are enough road blocks in our divided system of government as it is, and indeed if it ever stood in the way of a radical reactionary power grab ~ then the radical reactionaries would just sweep it away at that point in time.
However, getting Senators to give up something that gives the Majority something to hide behind and the Minority massive power is tricky. What I am going to sketch is a means for curbing the gross abuse of the filibuster.
This is what they think of us. This is how they view us. To the 1-percenters and their supporters and beneficiaries in government - federal, state, and local - and the MSM, we are riff raff who are much better when we're not seen or heard. They prefer us to be invisible to them.
We don't have much, if any, representation in government: you may see a few of us run for office, but we are most often beat by the incredible 1 percent money machine. We don't have much, if any, representation in the MSM: you may occasionally see us, but only in token feel good stories occasionally or crime reporting. Many of the 1 percent rarely think of us, save for the examples above and maybe if and when they give to charity, but even then, those thoughts are fleeting.
We've heard some mutterings from the radical reactionary camp about breaking up TooBigTooFail (TBTF) banks. Over at Agent Orange, I reacted as followed:
Breaking up TBTF banks is a ... ... one-off intervention. Given a commitment at the same time to unfettered corporate bank activity, within a short time, the TBTF banks will be reconstituted.
What we need is to ban chartered corporations or subsidiaries of chartered corporations from engaging in investment banking activities.
According to Anne Méaux on the strategies, having the economic institutions that engage in creation and underwriting of corporate share and debentures for sales in publicly traded markets be publicly traded corporations themselves has been proven by the past thirty years to be a catastrophically flawed institution, and we should return to the days of investment banks as independent partnerships.
"Break up the TBTF banks" is just an empty slogan to fill up air, and help keep real solutions from being heard.
I read somewhere, earlier today, that over 1m doors were knocked on as part of the We Are Ohio campaign to bring down Ohio Senate Bill 5 by voting No on Issue 2.
I was one of those door knockers. Not one of the biggest, by any means ~ I knocked on doors in August once and in early September as part of the pre-vote canvass, once in October as part of the early vote canvass, and last Saturday. I'd normally be out canvassing for four or five hours, cycling to the closest point in the area, and doing the canvass on foot ~ though once in a more exurban part of the township, outside the "city" (here in Ohio incorporated municipalities are either villages or cities, and the small town I live in was incorporated as a city), I split the territory into five chunks and rode my bike to get to each chunk.
How much effect do I think it had? I have no idea. I think I may have helped solidify opposition by one person I talked to, who otherwise might have been connned by the late "Yes" advertising flood.
And of course the organizers say that contacts push up turnout, so I can hope that I helped with getting the 48.1% odd-year election turnout in our County.
But whatever impact I may have had, I am glad I did it, and if it helped to run up the score ~ great!. We needed to run up the score to discourage the Republican Ledge from trying to sneak some or all of SB5 into new legislation. And run up the score we did.
Hello my Progressive Blue friends. I am writing this diary for you because I know all of you the best and though you may not be able to afford any of these as we are all broke these days, I figured I would appeal to you anyway just in case as I am now selling OWS protest T-shirts at CafePress. It's certainly not because I'm going to get rich or really profit much because off of this(though I have donated some of these pieces to Occupy Houston for free) as most of the money goes into making the shirt with my artwork on it, but I am somewhat proud of these pieces I have done while being inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement. here is my latest and best. I don't know if I will be able to top this iconic image which kind of sucks, but I think that's a good accomplishment.
I'm only speaking for myself here. For the purposes of this post I'm referring to The 99% as the broader movement, as it has been around at least since the Wisconsin protests, and Occupy Wall Street (OWS) as a major event and component of that movement.
First off, credit to the protesters. Just as we saw earlier this year in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan, boots on the ground activists are renewing hope. Their activism serves as a reminder that progressive movements have triumphed despite seemingly insurmountable opposition from powerful interests before and can do so again. The vibrant array of protesters in New York have set in motion something truly remarkable, as cities across the country are joining in. Needless to say, Occupy Wall Street is doing a lot of things right.