Archive for July 2010

Correction

Yesterday on Immigration I accuse Chris Mathews of being the worst of the racial profilers when he voiced his fear about policemen approaching a car with suspected legals. What I had wrong was he was afraid of that if the law was upheld. Either way, I was correct on my conclusion about being the stupidest thing I have heard to date (More Immigration). By the way he exceeded his usual interrupting level today and was outright rude and over bearing with his guests Joan Walsh and Howard Dean. Is he taking lessons from Bill O’Rilley?

The Real Story About our Economic Prosperity Under the Republicans

The conventional wisdom is that Democrats when in power spend, spend, spend, running up the deficit, while the Republicans are fiscally conservative, and balance our budgets.  In other words in this view the Democrats are your teenagers with a credit card and the Republicans are your conservative parents, carefully managing their money for retirement.  The problem with all this is that the facts don’t bear this out, and we ignore the facts at our own peril.  Right now the Republicans are promising a return to “basics”; cut taxes, reduce spending (won’t tell us what spending), small government, and little regulation.  But as I will attempt to demonstrate, these are the things that have gotten us in deep, deep trouble.

Now these are the “New” Republicans because the Republicans of old who have realized that these things are good in moderation, but as a wholesale economic philosophy are a disaster.  The whole thing revolves around their fundamental belief that the market place is the real honest broker of justice.  And maybe in a perfect world it might be.  But we don’t live in a perfect world of pure competition and consumer choice.  We live in a world where large corporations control consumer behavior, and sadly our government.  In a perfect world, government would have little role because if businesses did foolish or self-destructive actions, others would step in to replace them.  But we have ENRON, Massey Energy, BP, Wall Street, Savings and Loans (80’s) and I could go on and on.  No Virginia, there is no perfect market place and it tends to run amok.

But the other fatal flaw in their economic theory is flow down. This is part and parcel of the New Republicans.   That is the theory that as the rich get richer, they invest, which is the engine of our economy, and everyone benefits.  That is the theory behind all of the tax breaks and government subsidies of the rich.  Oh, and because of the lower tax rate on the rich allowing them to keep their money and invest, the economy actually generates tax revenue and the deficit caused by the tax cuts goes away.  Obviously because they are rich they deserve to be don’t they?

Trouble with this theory of flow down is that it never happened.  This is what George Bush senior called it “voodoo economics” before he compromised rational thinking for a shot at the White House.  A little history here:  Under Reagan, whose tax cuts are the foundation of the Republican mantra, the deficit was tripled making it the largest increase in the deficit since WWII. He took Jimmy Carter’s paltry $930 billion deficit to $2.68 trillion after his ballyhooed tax cuts.  During George Bushes Jr. reign in 2000 to 2008 the debt, primarily due to the tax cuts and a war not paid for, increased the deficit from $5.94 trillion to $10.7 trillion.  Meanwhile during the Clinton years the deficit only increased by 20% and he was the only President to  decrease it as a percent of GDP.  Oh doesn’t that flow down work well?  (U.S. Debt by Presidential Term)

Joan Walsh from Salon.Com and others have made the following claims which if true, raise real questions about the Reagan Revolution and the whole idea that Republican policies are good for our economy or for us:

  • 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
  • 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
  • 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
  • 36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.
  • A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
  • 24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
  • Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
  • Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
  • For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
  • In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
  • As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.
  • The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
  • Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
  • The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America’s corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
  • In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
  • More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
  • For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.
  • This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.
  • Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.
  • Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
  • The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.

So when Americans say we are on the wrong track, this is what they are talking about.  The rich are getting richer and the poor and the middle class are getting poorer.  This is a direct result of the country moving right and embracing New Republican conservative philosophies.  The trends are striking from Ronald Reagan on.  I guess my only thought is that there is no free ride, which ought to be a conservative axiom, but they keep promising one with tax cuts and flow down.  After 30 years of which only 8 were under a Democrat and the trends greatly slowed, how can they still blame this on Democrats?

There is, of course, the bogus argument about how President Obama is amassing a huge deficit, but lets look once again at the reality.  The $1.5 trillion in debt added to our deficit in 2009 was primarily due to the Bush tax cuts, the unfunded war in Iraq and Afghanistan, TARP, and the downward trend in the economy.  These were driven totally by the Bush Administration.  As shown by an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the effect of the stimulus is minor to these numbers and the deficit in the out years continue to be driven by these Bush policies.  To quote them:

Some critics continue to assert that President George W. Bush’s policies bear little responsibility for the deficits the nation faces over the coming decade — that, instead, the new policies of President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress are to blame. Most recently, a Heritage Foundation paper downplayed the role of Bush-era policies (for more on that paper, see p. 4). Nevertheless, the fact remains: Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years (see Figure 1).” (Critics Still Wrong About what Is Causing the Deficit in the Out Years)

These are not really complex issues yet the majority of Americans are still drinking the Kool-Aid that the Republicans are feeding us.  The Democrats have done a terrible job of pointing this out with such morons as Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh actually believing this stuff.  But I have to think that if the American people once again elect the people whose policies have brought us to this sorry state, they truly are a stupid lot.  Clearly if President Obama would have had more courage he would have done much more to stimulate the economy and create jobs, but to say that our sorry state is his fault is to very sadly miss the whole point.

More Immigration

I can’t listen to the news today because they are all missing the point.  We are having this argument about what a state should be able to do to protect their citizens in absence of federal action.  We are discussing whether the bill requires profiling and may violate U.S. citizens civil rights if they happen to be Hispanic.  We are having this discussion about protecting the border from terrorist and the last time we had a terrorist cross a border it was from Canada which is totally ignored.  We talk about building a fence, but no one really wants to discuss the costs, both in dollars and in ecology.  The pundits want to talk about the political implications of this decision for both parties.  All of these arguments have some merit, but they are missing the real discussion and that is why we don’t have comprehensive immigration reform.

Most pundits will tell you that the issue favors the Republicans but that is only because the Democrats are once again letting the Republicans frame the argument about the merits of this Arizona law.  They need to go on the offense.  First and foremost point out that the law, in their minds, is unconstitutional in that it usurps federal power,  Having said that they can say people can disagree about that , but that is what the courts are for.  The real issue is immigration reform that does secure our borders as best they can be secured, and deals with immigration in a broad based way.  That would include what we can afford to do at the borders, but also real reform on guest workers to make that program really work, and amnesty for those that deserve it.  Put a bill on the table and call the Republican’s bluff.  This has to be a real bill and not some compromised piece of fluff that you think might pass, but a reasoned approach to resolving these issues.  Republicans are not about to agree on anything before the election and they will fall behind the secure the borders first and then we will talk about the rest.  Point out how disingenuous this is and that Democrats would like to solve this problem for good right now, so come to the table.  That is the only way Democrats can win on this issue and that is call their bluff of a real federal immigration bill and then show how the Republicans will block any progress,

One other thought here.  I heard Chris Mathews say about the stupidest thing I have heard on this issue, I think.  What I understood him to say was  that by voiding this law it puts police at a real disadvantage when they approach a car and he suspects they may be illegals.  He intimated that this could be a dangerous situation since if the illegals status is exposed he may resort to violence.  Excuse me, but anytime a policeman approaches a car it is a dangerous situation and the vast majority of illegals are just poor souls trying to make ends meet.  If I understood him correctly, this is the worst of stereotyping in that all illegals are dangerous drug lords.  I hope I misunderstood him because if I didn’t, he just showed us racial profiling at its worst.

Barbarians at the Gate

Well with the courts blocking onerous parts of the immigration law in Arizona, the discussion has departed from rational. “A majority of people support this law”. Really? A majority of servicemen (86%) said there was nothing good about Jews back in the late 1940′s (TPM).  Does that mean that civil rights are up for majority rule? Does anybody out there understand a Constitutional Democracy? Worse one commentator said this was simple, “Secure the Borders”. So exactly how? Fence it? This will cost and estimated at $50 or up to five times as much (SF Chronicle)  and this doesn’t even look at the Northern border. So where are these “fiscal conservatives” going to get the money? Please! Can we have a rational debate instead of just interviewing muckrakers? By the way, if Arizona gets their way, they will probably collapse their economy because there will be no one left to do all those menial jobs that keeps them running.

Is President Obama Bad for Business or is Business Bad for America

The latest complaint by the business community is that President Obama is bad for business.  I am no fan of President Obama, but some of this stuff is just ridiculous. They allege that he has been bashing business and created or promoted policies that will cost businesses and creates an uncertainty so that they are hesitant to invest meaning create jobs.  It is first hard to see how he is hurting them when they are hand over fist in cash right now (NPR).  They won’t invest this money, they say, because of the uncertainty created by his policies.  I guess that would be his healthcare bill, a possible carbon tax, and new regulations like closer tabs on the banks or offshore drilling.  None of these holds water.

On the bashing issue, should we kindly ask BP to let us know how things are going with their tiny little leak that killed 11 people?  Should the miners who died in Utah and in West Virginia because of gross negligence by the coal companies be politely questioned on their lapses?  The healthcare bill will reduce costs according to the CBO and you know and I know that any costs they might bear will be passed on to us.  Sadly if they had supported a public option, the savings would have even been greater again according the non-partisan CBO.  In the case of the carbon tax, it will actually simulate new business and venture capitalism to develop a whole new market for alternate energy.

What I find interesting is businesses don’t like regulations at all, like overtime rules, safety rules, environmental rules, etc., because they impact the bottom line.  I am sure the families of the 25 miners who in the Massey Energy mine explosion in West Virginia wish the rules would have been enforced even if it did hurt profits.  Regulations do cost money, but if it is a world we are interested in living in, then most of them are necessary.  I am sure that most of the investors who lost their savings or their homes wishes the rules on banks would have been enforced or not thrown out over the years.  Need I even mention the 11 who died and the irreparable damage that was done to the gulf because all those pesky rules just hindered their production?

Now one might think that if these businesses are good American companies then they would be pitching in to do what they can to stimulate the economy.  But anyone who has taken Business 101 knows that business exists for only one purpose, maximizing profits for the stockholders.  That says that they will hate anything that impacts that bottom line even if it is good for their workers or their country.  If we learned anything from my last paragraph (and lets not forget the environmental wastelands they left until the EPA came along), business will keep pushing the profit envelope until they implode and regulations are simply there to keep them from abusing people, the environment, and their own stock owners.  They are there to keep the whole nation from suffering when profiteering gets out of control (Are your ears burning BP/Bank Execs/Eron/Massey Energy?).

So businesses act in their own selfish self-interest.  That is why many move to non-tax countries to avoid paying their share of income tax (BP is a prime example).  That is why they offshore their manufacturing.  Their interest is not your interests.  And as we have seen, when they are flush with money, well the economy is no concern of theirs unless they are sure they can profit from it.  They certainly don’t see any responsibility on their part to invest in our future and take a chance on us, even the banks who were unquestionably saved by President Obama’s actions.  That is why the belief that what is good for business is necessary good for America needs to be questioned.  It is this false belief that they are using to blackmail us.

So is President Obama bad for business?  Well if that means he is bad for business as it operated in the Bush years, absolutely because that way of doing business put us all at risk.  But in those times, the rich got richer and most of the rest of us fell further behind, and that was before they crashed the whole system.  So what is good for these guys is not necessarily good for the rest of us. That is logical frame that we have to break out of.

But what is most interesting is this consistent drumbeat that President Obama is bad for business is that these guys know how psychology can effect the stock market and they know that by creating this drum beat, they can hurt business.  They don’t care.  They want to return to the good old days of George Bush.  It is what would be good for them, but for the rest of us, it would be a disaster.  But what do they care?  Isn’t the stockholder the only measure of success?

You should be livid at these guys and how they are trying to hold the country hostage to their selfish and parochial whims that will eventually destroy us.  It is time they started serving the country, not the country serving them.  Oh I am sorry, that was a variation on ask not what  your country can do for you (the business community), but what you can do for your country.  The Republicans have turned this wonderful call to service and patriotism on its head and have convinced us that business is the bearer of all fruit and our democratic institutions are here simply so service them.  Working out well so far isn’t it?

Footnote To New Republicans

Today the Senate will vote on the a campaign finance measure that would prevent campaign spending by foreign owned companies.  It would also require corporations, unions and other special interests to disclose the donors that bankroll their political advertisements.  The Republicans will prevent this from becoming law by filibustering it.  These are your new Republicans who don’t care where money comes from and certainly don’t want you to know who is paying their bills.  Of course there is some hypocrisy here from the Democrats.  They do want you to know about who funds campaigns, but they don’t want you to know what is really going on in Afghanistan.  I guess the old axiom, “the truth will set you free”, is relative depending on whose truth.

The New Republicans

The other day I made the statement that the Republican Party is not your Dad’s Republican Party.  I would like to expand on that and I am stealing here from none other than Chris Mathews.  Last Monday Chris said (MSNBC Hardball):

But Republicans used to be the party of fiscal responsibility—you know, cash and carry, not buying something you can‘t afford.  That was when the party was based in the Midwest heartland, when Republicans thought like farmers and small business folk.  They knew the price of things and haggled over price and squeezed the budget, both at the store and at the kitchen table so they could stay out of debt.  That was the party of Bob Taft and Jerry Ford and later Bob Dole and it‘s gone.  G-O-N-E.
What‘s left is the party of supply side, see you later budgeting, dynamic score-keeping and all the rest.  Ronald Reagan started this with his promise to cut the deficit by eliminating, quote, “waste, fraud and abuse” from government spending.  Well, that was a smoke screen for, quote, “I‘m not going to tell you what I want to cut because you‘ll kill me for it.””

Those of you that believe that the Republicans are the party of fiscal conservatism are badly misinformed.  They have not been that for over 30 years and their economic plans will further bankrupt the nation and do nothing for the middle class, but I get ahead of myself.

Let’s start with what a true fiscal conservative would look like.  He certainly would be concerned about the deficit and he probably would not be happy about stimulus spending. but that is where the similarities end with the New Republicans.  He/she could add and subtract and realize that the Bush Tax Cuts did not create a flow down to increase prosperity across the board nor increase revenues into our treasury.  Instead they emptied them.  So the old time Republican would not like high taxes, but he would certainly understand that continuing these particular tax cuts is the road to disaster.

Second major difference is that he would stand up and develop a program for what he thinks needs to be cut.  He would understand that the mantra of small government, little regulation, and tax cuts must be carefully applied and is not the answer to every problem.  He might even see the benefit to a carbon tax if nothing else, to help improve our security.  The big difference here is that he would work with Democrats to implement his programs and ideas so that they would have a real chance of taking affect.  He would have had no problem with programs that would provide loans for small businesses and farmers.  Yet the present incarnation of Republicans has said no to any program that will help anybody, ostensibly to control the deficit, but in reality to do any damage they can to the Obama Administration.

But here is where the New Republicans have no resemblance to the Republican Party of old.  They are anarchists.  They do not believe in democracy.  And they no longer represent the small businessman or small anything.  The middle class blue-collar worker who votes for this Republican Party is voting against himself.  First the anarchist claim.  Do you think Sharon Angle, Michele Bachmann, or Sarah Palin really believe in the Constitution when they remind their followers that they will take back their government with their 2nd Amendment Rights?  In fact for many old school Republicans, these folks and their followers really scare them.  Clearly they don’t believe in democracy because through the democratic process they were thrown out of power and there has been no dismantling of the other branches of government, yet they talk of revolution to get a government back, that quite simply isn’t theirs any more.  How do you explain the abuse of the filibuster rule in the Senate any other way than they want to obstruct the democratic (majority rule) process?

And the last point is the most important:  They represent the powerful, the corporations, and the status quo.  This is because money is power and they are no longer a party of rational principles, but principles that can be carefully manipulated to support corporate interests and their own pocket book.  Republicans stand for only one thing any more and that is not small government, little regulation, and tax cuts.  These are simply means to the end, a government totally controlled and subservient to corporations that pay their bills.  They have sold out for power and money.  If you still think that corporations are our saviors or they have our best interests at heart, you simply failed Business 101 and that part about maximizing profits for the stockholders.

To return Republicans to office will be to bring in the intolerant.  Religious freedom and expression will be under attack unless you are a good Christian.  The government will be bankrupt as the voodoo economic theory of flow down is once again employed.  There will be more corporate excesses and most important of all, the engine of our greatness, the middle class will continue to shrink.  Social Security and Medicare will be dismantled and our healthcare system will be only for the rich.  There will be nothing done about Climate Change or Energy Policy as the status quo will be maintained.  In other words, it is the straightest path to oblivion.  But for Americans who don’t understand that with freedom comes responsibilities, they will vote these guys in because in the short term they will have lower taxes, no regulation, and no real government.  Then the crash will finally occur.  Hopefully somebody will get a wake up call, either the Obama Administration that has failed to draw a distinct difference between the two parties as they tried to accommodate them, or Americans who will realize that the free ride Republicans promise will end up with you lying face down in the gutter.

Wikileaks – Secrecy, who needs it

Isn’t it amazing that whenever we get these “leaks” it is never information that compromises our national security, simply compromises some of our political decisions. How is a democracy suppose to work if we continue to hide truth? Also ask yourself this:  With all the visits by politicians and media personalities, why is the only way we get the real story when some true patriot tells us the truth through a leak?  I guess the dog and pony shows are getting more effective than they were in my day.

Lessons Learned from the Sherrod Affair

Shirley Sherrod is my hero.  She is one of the few persons who gets it.  It, is that we are all in this together.  Here is the woman who not only learned the most profound lesson we as humans can comprehend, but was out sharing her insight when she got blindsided.  And it was in sharing this profound insight and the perversion of the right wing that caused her so much trouble.  More importantly it pointed out how morally gutless the Democrats and the Administration are.  This is not a moment to be pushed under the rug and forgotten in the next news cycle.  This is a moment that must be deeply thought about and hopefully learned from.

The very essence of the difference between conservative thinking and progressive thinking is this idea that shit can happen to anybody and our government’s role is to help when this happens.  Progressives understand that life is a chaotic place and bad things happen to good people.  Government’s role is to level the playing field so that good people can thrive.  Conservatives don’t believe that.  Deep down conservatives believe that you get what you deserve.  It makes them think they have control over the chaos.  Therefore if I am rich and the tax cuts favor me, it is because I deserve it.  If you are poor or out of work, it is because you deserve it.  That is how they tolerate injustice.

But Shirley’s message was that there, by the grace of God, go I.  And when she recognized this, racial prejudice simply melted away.  This I think is the fundamental lesson of life and is what finally makes us all human and gives us patience and tolerance.  I can get irritated at the old lady in the grocery line that wants to chat and has no idea how to use her ATM card, but then I think about me a few years from now and I realize sooner or later we will all be there, and I need to show her the respect she deserves.  This may be the only conversation she has all day.

The other thing about this incident that has troubled me is why the USDA was so quick to fire her and then Willy Brown, via the San Francisco Chronicle, confirmed my suspicions.  Willy, who is no stranger to organizational politics, pointed out the obvious.  She was a thorn in their side and they wanted to get rid of her anyway.  She had been part of a class action suit supporting black farmers.   Organizations are their own worst enemy and they don’t like people who challenge the status quo, and in this case the status quo was their own racist history.  But it explains a lot about why the USDA would jump at a chance to dump Shirley, morally reprehensible as it was.

But that is the wonderful lesson of the Sherrod Affair.  It showed the morally reprehensible behavior across the spectrum, from the scum ball right wing that will do and say anything, to an organization that doesn’t like boat rocking when it embarrasses them, to an Administration too timid to fight for what is morally right and rolls over when the right wing threatens.  But through all of this, thanks to a few brave people (Donna Brazile and the wonderful couple, the Spooners), the truth came through and a person who understands that we are all in this together, that bad things happen to good people, and government has a role in righting the boat came through.  Bless you Shirley Sherrod.  You are on my top 10 list of people I would like to meet.  Barack is in the top 50 right now and sliding.  Michelle, can you reason with him?  He needs some good advice and I have the feeling you get it.

A Different Strategy – NetRoots

I was listening to Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC commentator and ex-legislative aide for the Senate, the other night discussing what was coming out of the NetRoots Nation 2010 Convention.  Progressives like me are very angry with this President and the Democratic leadership for not standing up for our values.  The NetRoots folks are basically telling the Democratic leadership that it is better to do what is right and lose than to water down an effort just to gain a legislative win. Legislative wins do not necessarily increase your political capital.   It is clear that the President’s view and the conventional wisdom in Washington is that you never put forward a bill if it cannot win.  Losing in their minds is seen as political weakness.   Lawrence reinforced this conventional wisdom in a comment while interviewing a reporter at the convention in Las Vegas that the rule of thumb in his time working for the Senate was that if it doesn’t have the votes, kill it.  This is old thinking and it is killing the Democrats.

Probably the key indicator of this new reality is the current pundit focus on how President Obama has had all these legislative successes and yet he is getting no credit for it.  Just getting a bill passed in our present political environment is not necessarily a good thing.  The Democrats in the White House have interpreted this as they need to communicate better what they have accomplished.  Democrats running for Congress in this mid-term think they just need to go out and show the voters what they have done.  They both do this at their own peril.  The reason I say this is because the average voter is not tuned into everyday Washington.  They don’t know the details or the politics of what happened, and quite frankly, they don’t care.  They just care if things are getting better, and they are not.

There is another reason why the Democrats legislative successes have not turned into voter capital and I have discussed it at length in my blog (Should Progressives be Content with the Obama Administration?).  Democrats in their search for the magic 60 votes, and note voters don’t even question this need for 60 votes anymore, made many of their successes only marginally effective in the compromises they made to reach this number of votes.  This had two effects.  It made Democrats look weak that they could not stand up for the real programs they promised and seem to always be pandering to the Republicans and conservative Democrats.  Second since many of the benefits are marginal or won’t really kick in till later (a wonderful tactical move by the Republicans) their successes don’t seem to be helping.

So you have this three pronged effect:  You have shown that you will throw out your most important ideas to get Republican and conservative Democratic support for your bills which indicates you don’t really stand for anything: the bills themselves don’t seem to change anything for the average citizen in very hard economic times; and the constant compromising and pandering to get little, if any, cooperation makes the Democrats look weak. And we are surprised there is voter antipathy?

What the Netroots Nation is trying to tell the Democrats is that the political world has changed.  Voters don’t see the obstructionism of the Republicans or that they don’t have any ideas.  What they see are programs that don’t seem to help and Republicans crying that the Democrats would not work with them.  The Republican Party of today is not the Republican Party of just a few years ago that you could work with.  Compromise is not an option and they are out to destroy the Democratic Party even at the expense of their own country.  The recent smearing of Shirley Sherrod was just the tip of the iceberg.  In order to win this battle you have to show the Republicans for what they have become.  That means proposing real legislation (like energy policy) that will really help, and let it fail at the hands of the Republicans so everyone can see who they are and what they stand for.  That means making recess appointments so you can govern.  That means standing up for what you believe is right and not being afraid to argue in full throat.  That means the days of trying to reason with the Republicans or split the difference is over.  Americans need to see that Democrats have real programs and the Republicans have no alternatives except a return to the George Bush days and policies that failed us miserably.

President Obama and his Administration have had a policy of reconciliation and compromise and it has not worked out well.  Oh, I know they will point to their legislative record, and I will point to their polls.  Can they understand that this is a new era and they have to come out swinging and really stand for something?  I am not sanguine.   The NetRoot Nation is way ahead of the Democratic Washington crowd and the Obama Administration and the Democrats need to take note.  Being a Progressive means standing up for Progressive principles and so far, the Democrats and the Obama Administration have folded every time there is a fight.  These guys and gals have been wrong every step of the way from their compromise strategies to their failure to confront the Republican Noise Machine.  The real lesson from the Shirley Sherrod episode is that this White House lacks the moral courage to fight for what is right instead of what can get accomplished or what seems to be politically expedient.  They are too used to dodging hard balls thrown by the right instead of catching them and throwing them back, hard.  Well it is a new day and if they want an activated base then they better come out swinging.  Redemption time is running out.