Archive for Democrats

Oct
08

Picking sides

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The Boston Globe’s Noah Bierman examines the struggle between the populist, Elizabeth Warren Wing of the Democratic Party and corporate-backed, Third Way centrists. When critics charge there is no difference between the major parties, Democrats have their Wall Street Wing to thank:

Third Way’s founders dispute that they are doing Wall Street’s bidding or are trying to leave the poor behind. They also insist their financial supporters on the board of trustees do not influence the organization’s political and policy positions.

And yet, Bierman points out,

Third Way’s insistence on linking tax hikes to a grand bargain — which has been impossible to obtain in the Obama era — has a direct bearing on the wallets of the group’s wealthy funders.

Among those are Goldman Sachs Gives. The charitable fund donated a total of $850,000 in 2010 and 2011. So even as the middle class erodes and the party itself moves further left, “financial dependence on Wall Street effectively ties the hands of the Democratic Party,” contends former Clinton labor secretary, Robert Reich.

In a surprising attack on the Warren Wing in the The Wall Street Journal last December, Third Way warned that Warren-style economic populism is a dead end for Democrats. Populist candidates may appeal to the party’s liberal base, writes Bierman, but sound anti-business to the party’s corporate funders.

“That really has never generated a hell of a lot of support on Election Day,” said former JP Morgan Chase senior executive, former Obama chief of staff, and Third Way board member, William M. Daley — no doubt also an authority on neighborhood organizing.

Or not. Especially since the country hasn’t heard a Warren-style populist message since FDR. And you know how that worked out.

As a matter of fact, while Third Way defends the Democrats’ right flank, the rest of the party is moving left, according to Harold Meyerson in The American Prospect. Since 2000, Gallup reports, as party moderates shrank from 44 to 36 percent, the ranks of self-described liberals swelled from 29 to 43 percent. Shifting demography fueled by immigration is one reason.

Nonetheless, business-cozy groups such as Third Way (supposedly concerned with electing Democrats) favor trade agreements unpopular with the Democratic base, but that cater to the “job creators” who bankroll them. But those agreements tend to create more new jobs offshore for people who cannot vote in U.S. elections! Meanwhile, the profit creators — American workers themselves — see fewer of those rising corporate profits in their paychecks. Therefore, as the American middle class continues to shrink, Meyerson believes it’s time for the party to — as both Roosevelts did — pick a side.

Meyerson offers several prescriptions you can read about here.

Village Democrats are consistently about a decade behind their base. Their dependency on corporate money is a big reason why. Money has such a nice, insulating effect that way. But it’s time party leaders caught on and caught up. Perhaps defending the status quo is the real dead end.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : Democrats, National, Parties
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Oct
01

Dark money and leitmotif

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We’re all pretty tired about now of the fundraising emails. Even without opening them [DELETE], the familiar, red-flashing, DEFCON 1 subject lines from brand-name politicos introduce what’s inside the way Wagner introduced recurring characters as they walked on stage.

I know they are crafted by dedicated, hard-working campaign stiffs just poorly paid to do their jobs. And maybe the mailings “work,” if raising as much money as fast as possible for your team is your sole focus. Still, it feels like democracy’s death spiral. “Look Honey, there’s a fella in a thousand dollar suit who wants to fight for me!” quipped joe shikspack at Firedoglake.

Thomas Edsall takes on the larger money chase in a piece for the New York Times. Comparing and contrasting conservative and liberal “dark money” donors, Edsall reviews a leaked tape of an speech by Mark Holden, general counsel at Koch Industries. Dark money on the left and right are not so different, Holden explains.

Edsall seems not so sure. Although “dark money tilts decisively to the right,” the left’s Democracy Alliance is at least willing to talk about more transparency. The Kochs? Not so much. Still, the influence of money — big and small, light and dark — on politics is troubling as well as an email nuisance.

In the long run, the relatively modest (but growing) dependence of Democrats on dark money, mega-dollar contributors to “super PACs” and other funding mechanisms is corrupting, even as it comes alongside the party’s parallel success in building a powerful small donor base. On issues of taxes, regulation, spending and campaign finance, the Republican Party has established itself as the advocate of the wealthiest Americans. Insofar as the Democratic Party moves in the same direction, it will be unable to act as a counterbalance to the right.

Fine. But instead of just wringing our hands over the corrupting nature of political fundraising, the tactics and vectors for it — and before we start receiving begs from the president’s dog — could we think just a tad about getting that corrupting money out of politics? That’s a light theme we could stand to hear a bit more of, thank you.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : Democrats, National
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Jul
17

Live Stream – Netroots Nation 2014

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Check back for the addresses listed below and here.


Live streaming video by Ustream

Thursday, July 17, 2014 Keynotes

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Keynote featuring Vice President Joe Biden
7:15 to 9 p.m. Opening keynote featuring Rev. Barber

Friday, July 18, 2014

10 to 10:45 a.m. Morning keynote featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Categories : Action, Democrats, National, News
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I have long been wary of the fetish among the business and political classes for efficiency. It’s a frequent rationale for bureaucratic decisions that seem to come at the expense of living, breathing people.

A Good Read

Thomas Frank (“What’s the Matter with Kansas?”) speaks with Barry Lynn at Salon on the reemergence of monopolies in America. Lynn describes how, rather than overturning laws on the books for decades, the Reagan administration changed the way the laws regulating monopolies were enforced.

Yes, that was what was so brilliant about what they did. The Department of Justice establishes guidelines that detail how regulators plan to interpret certain types of laws. So the Reagan people did not aim to change the antimonopoly laws themselves, because that would have sparked a real uproar. Instead they said they planned merely to change the guidelines that determine how the regulators and judiciary are supposed to interpret the law.

The Justice Dept. went from raising its eyebrows in the 1960s at mergers that concentrated a few percent of a market to waving though deals involving 80-90% of it.

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Jun
17

Unleashing The Power Of Non-Voters

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Ben Jealous calls for massive voter registration in the Southin a report for the Center for American Progress:

The first and most important lesson is that massive voter registration can overcome massive voter suppression. Our analysis shows that registering just 30 percent of eligible unregistered black voters or other voters of color could shift the political calculus in a number of Black Belt states, helping blacks elect candidates who share their concerns or alternatively, forcing all candidates to pay attention to the community’s concerns. Registering 60 percent or 90 percent would change the political calculus in an even greater number of states.

Jealous speculates it would take $6-7 million to sign up the 350,000 unregistered black voters in South Carolina, for example, and change the political calculus there, as well as in other southern states. He’s calling for another Freedom Summer to do just that.

The parties can find a billion dollars to spend on presidential races. Jealous thinks we all need to get a clue and spend a tiny fraction of that to change politics in the South. Republican margins of victory in states across the “Black Belt” are substantially less than the number of unregistered people of color there. The extreme right knows this, and knows that demographics are not in their favor for the foreseeable future. Hence the wave of voter suppression efforts across the South and elsewhere.

The report is here.

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Jun
02

Political Pushmi-Pullyu

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Hearing more anecdotes about rank-and-file Republicans seriously peeved with Raleigh and Thom Tillis. Guy I met last night has a Republican aunt in Wilkes Co. (Foxx territory) — retired 30-yr teacher. He’s never seen her hot like this — over cuts to teaching assistants and programs. And she’s not buying the GOP spin on teacher raises.

But will she hold her nose, throw the bums out, or just stay home this fall?

The GOP is pushing people towards Democrats, but are Democrats in Raleigh pulling? We’d better have more of a game plan for the fall than “we’re not them.” That won’t motivate Democratic turnout or crossover voters. Disgruntled voters need something affirmative to vote for.

What should it be?

At a Democratic campaign rally back in 2008, an established Buncombe politician began a halfhearted stump speech with, “Well, y’all know me.”

Looking at all the new North Carolinians in the crowd both young and old who had lived in the area only a few years, it was clear many did not.

Decades of marketing efforts inviting Ausländers to vacation and retire in western North Carolina had succeeded beyond local officials’ wildest dreams — and in spite of some of their efforts. Asheville landed on top ten list after top ten list. Now, for local power brokers that dream was becoming a nightmare. Their marketing success had shifted the political landscape under their feet.

Mr. “Ya’ll know me” was going to have to do more to win votes than have a D behind his name or hope voters had known him since childhood. Luckily, that year several local officials rode Barack Obama’s coattails.

Not so for District Attorney Ron Moore in 2014. John Boyle’s Asheville Citizen-Times commentary on Sunday chalked up Moore’s May 6 primary loss to Todd Williams to running into a progressive “machine.” What he ran into was the 21st century.

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Buncombe County, North Carolina residents who filed suit after finding their well water contaminated by chemicals from a CTS Corp. facility shuttered in 1986 will argue their case before the Supreme Court on April 23 (video clip from March 18). The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of 23 local citizens last year. CTS appealed.

At issue is whether the suit should be dismissed because of the lateness in filing the case. The pollution dates back decades. Community activist, Tate MacQueen, is among those leading the fight.

Because of the way North Carolina law is written, the Asheville residents may have no legal recourse. CTS shut down that plant and sold the property in 1987. A state statute cuts off a company’s liability 10 years after its last contaminating act, meaning the deadline for filing claims came and went in 1997. MacQueen’s heads-up letter arrived in 2008.

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It’s been years since I last posted to this blog. Decided to do so today because there’s an important issue that needs to be discussed within the Buncombe Democratic Party … and I don’t have another vehicle to start the conversation.

As you may know, I support Todd Williams in the current District Attorney race.  But what y’all may not know is why.

What I didn’t write in the LTTE, because I didn’t want to be confrontational before more information became publicly available, is that Ron Moore had possession of evidence that would have cleared the names of 5 people for murder – and didn’t turn it over to their defense attorneys.

This is upsetting enough. What’s salt-in-the-wound is that this serious miscarriage of justice is not being discussed intelligently within the establishment of the local Buncombe Democratic Party during this year’s DA primary race. “Moore’s a good man” is the common mantra when faced with facts around this issue, or pretty much every other scandal concerning Moore.

Ron Moore may very well be a good man. Fine. It really depends on which side of the prison-bars you’re sitting on – I guess.

The Asheville Citizen times has full coverage of the story here. But the highlights are:

1) Ron Moore ignored DNA evidence.

2) Another person admitted to the crime in 2003, but Moore didn’t re-open the case for investigation.

3) Videotape evidence corroborating the 2003 confession was ignored.

I know Moore is a Democrat. He might even be a great guy in-person. But 5 people spent years in jail because Moore didn’t want to do his job properly. Frankly, if it had been 5 white middle-class kids – it is my humble option he would have been disbarred over this by now. In the coming years this issue is going to develop into a major scandal, putting the already tarnished credibility of the DA’s office in serious jeopardy.

The local Democratic party has a choice this year: During the primary y’all can put forth a 24-year incumbent with a history of opaqueness, sweeping serious issues such as the evidence-room scandal under the rug, and preventing justice; or you can submit someone who will focus on doing the right thing.

ON EDIT: Grammar & spelling

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Mar
06

Martin Nesbitt, Taken Home

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“He was a champion for the common man, his friends said, and always had what was best for the people of Western North Carolina in his heart.” – AC-T

Rest in peace, Martin Nesbitt. Your labors were great, and your legacy will endure.

Screenshot 2014-03-06 at 8.01.24 PM

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