mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Progressives Can Differ Honestly”: Most Of The “Most Valuable Progressives” Named By ‘The Nation’ Have Endorsed…Hillary?

If like me you’re a longtime and faithful reader of The Nation — a venerable publication celebrating its 150th anniversary — then you probably saw its recent cover editorial endorsing Bernie Sanders for president. That lengthy essay, along with many other Nation articles over the past several months, leaves the unmistakable impression that Sanders is the only truly progressive choice for Democratic voters.

Yet just a month ago, The Nation published its 2015 Progressive Honor Roll, an annual feature written by John Nichols, who happens to be a highly enthusiastic Sanders supporter — which named several strong supporters of Hillary Clinton among America’s “most valuable” progressives. In fact, of the individuals named on Nichols’ list, nearly every single one is backing Clinton (one exception is Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell, “most valuable Cabinet member,” who must observe administration neutrality in the primary but — as a former top Clinton administration official — would very likely endorse her).

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), named “most valuable Senator,” officially endorsed Clinton back in January 2014. Rosa DeLauro, “most valuable House member,” endorsed her last April. Pam Jochum, the Dubuque Democrat who presides over the Iowa State Senate — chosen from hundreds of local pols across the country as “most valuable state legislator” — announced her support for Clinton last October. Cecile Richards, the Planned Parenthood president named “most valuable activist,” led her organization to back Clinton earlier this month (and earned a sour-grapes dismissal by Sanders as “the establishment”). Newark’s Ras Baraka, the “most valuable mayor,” hasn’t officially endorsed a presidential candidate yet, but his political organization has shown every sign of backing Clinton since last summer. And “most valuable memoir” author Gloria Steinem, the great feminist leader and thinker, will campaign for Clinton in New Hampshire tomorrow.

As voting approaches, primary rhetoric gets super-hot, and partisans inevitably utter silly, uninformed, and even offensive remarks about the opposing candidate. But it is worth remembering that progressives can differ honestly over which of these two candidates will represent the nation’s real interests most effectively.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, Featured Post, The National Memo, January 28, 2016

January 29, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, The Nation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Florida Goes Down The Drain”: The Concept Of ‘Going Down To The Water’ Has Extended To ‘Stepping Off The Front Porch’

On Miami Beach, rising sea levels have interesting consequences. The ocean periodically starts bubbling up through local drainpipes. By the time it’s over, the concept of “going down to the water” has extended to stepping off the front porch.

It’s becoming a seasonal event, like swallows at Capistrano or the return of the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio.

“At the spring and fall high tides, we get flooding of coastal areas,” said Leonard Berry, the director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies. “You’ve got saltwater coming up through the drains, into the garages and sidewalks and so on, damaging the Ferraris and the Lexuses.”

Ah, climate change. A vast majority of scientific studies that take a stand on global warming have concluded that it’s caused by human behavior. The results are awful. The penguins are dwindling. The polar bears are running out of ice floes. The cornfields are drying. The southwest is frying.

There is very little on the plus side. Except maybe for Detroit. As Jennifer Kingson reported in The Times this week, one scientific school of thought holds that while temperatures rise and weather becomes extreme in other parts of the country, Detroit’s location will turn it into a veritable garden spot.

Miami is probably not used to being compared unfavorably to Detroit. But there you are. “We’re going to wander around shin-deep in the ocean — on the streets of Miami,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who is planning to go on a climate-change tour this month with Florida’s senior senator, Bill Nelson. (The junior senator, Marco Rubio, who’s no fan of “these scientists,” will presumably not be joining the party.)

Once a week, when the Senate is in session, Whitehouse gets up and makes a speech about rising sea levels or disappearing lakes or dwindling glaciers. He’s kind of the congressional climate-change guy. He’s also looking for bipartisan love and feeling lonely. “I’ve got exactly no Republican colleagues helping me out with this,” he said.

There was a time, children, when the parties worked together on climate-change issues. No more. Only 3 percent of current Republican members of Congress have been willing to go on record as accepting the fact that people are causing global warming. That, at least, was the calculation by PolitiFact, which found a grand total of eight Republican nondeniers in the House and Senate. That includes Representative Michael Grimm of New York, who while laudably open-minded on this subject, is also under indictment for perjury and tax fraud. So we may be pushing 2 percent in January.

This is sort of stunning. We’re only looking for a simple acknowledgment of basic facts. We’ll give a pass to folks who accept the connection between human behavior and climate change, but say they don’t want to do anything about it.

Or that China should do something first.

Or: “Who cares? I’m from Detroit!”

In Congress, Republican environmentalists appear to be terrified of what should be the most basic environmental issue possible. Whitehouse blames the Supreme Court’s decisions on campaign finance, which gave the energy barons carte blanche when it comes to spending on election campaigns. It’s certainly true that there’s no way to tick off megadonors like the fabled Koch brothers faster than to suggest the globe is warming.

“At the moment, there’s a dogma in the Republican Party about what you can say,” Tom Steyer told me. He’s the billionaire who formed a “super PAC” to support candidates who acknowledge that climate change exists, that it’s caused by human behavior, and that we need to do something major about it.

Steyer has committed to spending about $100 million this year on ads and organizing in seven states. Many in the campaign-finance-reform community think this is a terrible idea, and that you do not combat the power of right-wing oligarchs to influence American elections by doing the same thing on the left. They have a point. But think of the penguins.

Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, who’s running for re-election, has been asked many times whether he believes in man-made climate change. Lately, he responds: “I’m not a scientist.” Scott is also not a doctor, engineer, computer programmer, personal trainer or a bus driver. Really, it’s amazing he even has the confidence to walk into the office in the morning.

The governor did visit last month with some climate scientists. He began the meeting by making it clear that he did not intend to go anywhere near the word causes. After the group had pulled out their maps and projections — including the one that shows much of Miami-Dade County underwater by 2048 — Scott asked them questions. Which were, according to The Miami Herald, “to explain their backgrounds, describe the courses they taught, and where students in their academic fields get jobs.”

If they’re lucky, the students will wind up someplace where there’s no seawater in the garage.

 

By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, September 24, 2014

September 26, 2014 Posted by | Climate Change, Global Warming, Rick Scott | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What Packing The Court Means”: Chuck Grassley Has No Idea What He’s Talking About

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation’s second highest federal bench, has 11 seats. For the last five years, four of those seats have been vacant, which has not only put a strain on the court, but left Republican appointees as the clear majority, pushing the bench to the right.

And so, yesterday offered something of a breakthrough when the Senate unanimously approved Sri Srinivasan, President Obama’s first confirmed judge to the D.C. Circuit. That leaves three vacancies on the bench, and the White House intends to send nominees for those slots to the Senate soon.

For Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), that’s a problem. Indeed, Dylan Matthews noted yesterday that Grassley believes rascally Democrats and the Obama administration are trying to “pack the court” through a “court-packing” scheme. Grassley was reading carefully from a prepared text, suggesting the Iowa Republican was quite serious about the argument — he repeated it five times.

It fell to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Grassley’s colleague on the Senate Judiciary Committee, to gently explain that Grassley has no idea what he’s talking about. “Court packing” was an FDR-era idea in which the executive branch would expand the number of seats on a bench in order to tilt the judiciary in the president’s favor. The idea was floated in the 1930s, but not seriously pursued.

What we’re talking about in 2013 is very different. There’s a vacancy on the federal bench; the president chooses a nominee to fill that vacancy; the Senate Judiciary Committee scrutinizes that nominee and sends him or her to the floor; and then the Senate’s full membership has an opportunity to vote “yea” or “nay” on confirmation.

Chuck Grassley sees this as some kind of underhanded Democratic scheme. The rest of us should consider it basic American governance.

Postscript: I should note that if Senate Republicans reclaim the majority after the 2014 midterms, Grassley would become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, despite his apparent confusion on these issues.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 24, 2013

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Federal Courts, Federal Judiciary | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Brag Wall”: The President Is Not There To Massage The Fragile Ego’s Of Capital Hill

If you walked into the home of an acquaintance and found yourself facing a wall of dozens of pictures of him shaking hands with powerful people, you’d probably think, “What a pompous ass. And how insecure do you have to be to put these things up on your wall? I get it, you’re important. Sheesh.” In Washington, however, these “brag walls” can be found all over town, particularly on Capitol Hill, where nearly every member of Congress has one.

Maybe some offices do it just because that’s what everyone else does, but you’d think that if you’re a senator or member of Congress, the fact that you’re an important person would be self-evident, and it wouldn’t be necessary to make sure everyone who comes into your office knows that you’ve been in the same room as presidents and other high-ranking officials. There are some commercial establishments, like your local deli, that might put up pictures on their walls with the celebrities who have stopped in, but that’s an understandable marketing effort. But when it comes to individuals, the only other place I can think of that I’ve seen that sort of thing outside of Washington is on MTV Cribs, in the homes of athletes, actors, and musicians, who often have displays of them with other celebrities. And they, I imagine, are also desperately insecure about their importance, forever fearful that it could evaporate at any moment and they’ll wind up the next Corey Feldman. So they put up the pictures of them hanging out with Tom Brady or Usher to assure themselves that they really are as big a deal as the people around them are contractually obligated to tell them.

I raise this because of an absolutely pathetic article in Politico today, detailing how Democrats on Capitol Hill aren’t feeling enough love from President Obama:

The topic of Obama’s relationship with his own party in Congress invariably draws raised eyebrows and did-you-hear-this-one stories.

One of the most well-connected Democrats in the capital said he came away from a recent meeting with Hill Democrats “astonished at the contempt they have for our president.” The members made clear that, after largely backing Obama in his first term, they would oppose him if he tried to make cuts to entitlements in the name of deficit reduction.

Obama and his top aides generally get along well with the Senate’s Democratic leadership — though there were real tensions over the fiscal cliff compromise – but while the likes of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer are in frequent contact with the White House, rank-and-file Democratic senators rarely hear from the president.

To bring up the topic of Obama and his old colleagues with members of Congress themselves, not a class of people lacking in pride, is often to get stared back with daggers. Hemming and hawing often take place, good-sport recollections of always hearing back from staff are brought up and occasionally come requests to go off the record. But, among some Democratic senators, there’s a willingness to put their names with their statements.

“I think they might have done more,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) when asked about the president’s outreach to the Hill in the first term. “I think they might have learned more by doing more.”

Now, I understand that building personal relationships with members of Congress is important, but it’s not important as an end in itself, it’s important because it helps the president accomplish his policy goals. To paraphrase the line spoken by a thousand reality show contestatnts, the president isn’t in Washington to make friends. Are there policy implications to Obama’s alleged indifference to congressional Democrats? Was there a critical bill that failed because some senators felt they weren’t being massaged enough? Provisions in big bills that Obama didn’t get because he couldn’t fend off a fit of pique from a member of his party over the lack of invitation to a late-night poker game up in the residence? You won’t find the answer in the story, because this is Politico, and they find policy questions like that to be dullsville.

In fact, a better question for a piece like this might be, if Obama does so little to massage the fragile egos on Capitol Hill, how was it that he got so much legislation passed? He did more legislatively in his first term, even with an unusually intransigent opposition, than any president since Johnson. Could it be that the non-personal factors end up being much more important than how many members of Congress get to utter the phrase, “As I told the president when I was at the White House the other day…” on a regular basis?

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, February 4, 2013

February 5, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Straw Woman”: The NRA’s Phony Women’s Pro-Gun Argument

The latest weapon in the war against reasonable restrictions on access to guns is the straw woman. Don’t fall for her.

This formulation would have you believe gun rights are women’s rights and that limits on guns would harm women disproportionately. The insinuation is that only insensitive men, who can’t possibly identify with the vulnerable position in which women find themselves, would be foisting gun control on them.

“Guns make women safer,” Gayle Trotter of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, told the Senate Judiciary Committee at its Wednesday hearing on gun violence. “For women, the ability to arm ourselves for our protection is even more consequential than for men. Because guns are the great equalizer in a violent confrontation. As a result, we protect women by safeguarding our Second Amendment rights. Every woman deserves a fighting chance.”

This argument would be powerful, if only it were true. The facts suggest precisely the opposite.

First, women are far more likely to be the victims of gun violence than to benefit from using a gun in self-defense.

Second, the restrictions under discussion would not harm women. They would either make women safer or, at the very least, not impede their ability to use guns in self-defense.

On the threat that guns pose to women, consider: Women are far less likely to be the victims of gun violence than men. But they are far more likely than men to be killed by someone they know, generally a spouse or partner.

Women with a gun in the home were nearly three times as likely to be the victim of homicide than women living in a home without firearms, according to a 2003 study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

“There’s good evidence that a gun in the home increases the likelihood that a woman in the home will die,” said David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. “There is no evidence that a gun in the home is protective for the woman.”

So much for guns making women safer. Still, the Second Amendment grants women as well as men the freedom to take the risk of having one at home.

Then on to the second issue: whether various gun-control proposals — enhanced background checks, limits on magazine sizes, restrictions on assault weapons — would make it more difficult for women to defend themselves.

Trotter’s Exhibit A was Sarah McKinley, an Oklahoma widow alone with her 3-month-old son when two intruders, one armed with a foot-long knife, broke into her home. McKinley shot and killed one of them with a Remington 12-gauge shotgun.

But here’s the problem with Trotter’s example: Nothing in the restrictions under discussion would have stopped McKinley.

As Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) observed, “I think it proves the point that with ordinary firearms, not hundred-magazine, peculiar types of artifacts, people are quite capable of defending themselves.”

Trotter remained impervious to Whitehouse’s logic. “How can you say that?” she asked. “You are a large man. . . . You cannot understand. You are not a woman stuck in her house having to defend her children, not able to leave her child, not able to go seek safety.”

Trotter argued that assault weapons such as the AR-15 are young women’s “weapon of choice” because they are accurate, light and, most of all, intimidating. “The peace of mind that a woman has as she’s facing three, four, five violent attackers . . . knowing that she has a scary-looking gun,” she said, “gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened violent criminals.”

You have got to be kidding. The intruder is going to be more scared off — the woman is going to feel more empowered — because the gun is scarier-looking?

If anything, women should be clamoring for gun-control measures — in particular, for expanded background checks. Individuals convicted of domestic violence are prohibited from buying guns — but, of course, the porousness of the current background check system lets abusers dodge that rule. And, according to the National Institute of Justice, abused women are six times more likely to be killed when a gun is in the home.

“I speak on behalf of millions of American women across the country who urge you to defend our Second Amendment right to choose to defend ourselves,” Trotter proclaimed.

I’d say that I speak for millions of American women who reject this phony solicitude, but there is a better representative. She spoke at the hearing, too. “Too many children are dying,” she said, painfully enunciating each syllable. “We must do something.”

Her name is Gabby Giffords. Anyone dare tell her that guns make women safer?

 

By: Ruth Marcus, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, January 31, 2013

February 2, 2013 Posted by | Gun Violence, Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: