The Widdershins

Archive for September 2011

This has been quite the week. Time to kick off our shoes, have a sip of something delicious, and enjoy some tasty tidbits from the most talked-about political book of the month, Ron Suskind’s “Confidence Men,” a stunning very, VERY inside view of the dysfunction that rules the Obama White House. Here are just a few morsels to whet your appetite:

Obama the Feminist, p. 150:

It was on a Friday, November 21, that Romer first entered Obama’s curtain-sealed office in Chicago….She was just elated to get to know the guy.

But her first meeting would open on an odd note. Before exchanging hellos or even shaking hands, the president-elect delivered what seemed intended as a zinger.

“It’s clear monetary policy has shot its wad.”

….The two had never met before, and this made the salty, sexual language hard to read. Later it would seem a foreshadowing of something that came to irk many of the West Wing’s women: the president didn’t have particularly strong “women skills.”

Obama, the Man with the Plan for America, p. 126:

“You need to ask yourself why you want to do this,” [Michelle Obama] said. What are you hoping to uniquely accomplish, Barack?” Obama sat quietly for a moment, while everyone waited to hear what he would say.

“This I know,” Obama said. “When I raise my hand and take that oath of office, I think the world will look at us differently. And millions of kids across the country will look at themselves differently.”

Obama, Picking Those Winners, pp. 146-164:

The competing dreams in this [financial] drama could hardly disagreed more strongly. Heavy on former Clinton officials, many of whom swore allegiance to the former Treasury secretary and Citigroup chairman Bob Rubin, Team B believed the crisis called for delicate actions in support of a fragile banking system. Who knew what would happen if you started pricing mortgage securities correctly – which banks might find themselves on the verge of insolvency, or in its grasp? Team B had been moving forward with tactical clarity since September: the Volcker-led group must be stopped.

…Obama….had selected for his top domestic officials two men whose actions had contributed to the very financial disaster they were hired to solve.

It wasn’t as though Obama hadn’t heard pointed concerns on this very issue. At a meeting in December of 2008, Byron Dorgan, the longtime North Dakota senator who’d been a leader of the Democrats, used unusually direct language with the then president-elect about his top economic selections. “You’ve picked the wrong people,” he said to Obama, citing Geithner and Summers, both of whom Dorgan knew. “I don’t understand how you could do this. You’ve picked the wrong people!”

It was so hard to pick just three…I hope you enjoyed them! Settle in for a cozy chat with your favorite drink, alcoholic or soft.

This is an open thread.

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Elizabeth Warren, Warrior for the Rest of Us

It takes so little to get “progressives” all atwitter these days, doesn’t it? A few sharp words to Republicans, a pretense that he’s going to raise taxes, and all of a sudden Obama’s labeled as practicing “class warfare.”

Taking a defiant tone against Republicans unwilling to raise taxes in order to close the deficit, President Obama today unveiled a $3 trillion long-term deficit reduction plan that relies heavily on raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

“This is not class warfare — it’s math,” Mr. Obama said from the White House Rose Garden, addressing GOP critiques of his plan head on.

“The money has to come from some place,” he continued. “If we’re not willing to ask those who’ve done extraordinarily well to help America close the deficit… the math says everybody else has to do a whole lot more, we’ve got to put the entire burden on the middle class and the poor.” [MB: Wow, was that a typo in the story, or a Freudian slip on Obama’s part?]

The core of Mr. Obama’s deficit reduction plan is $1.5 trillion in new taxes. About $800 billion comes from repealing the Bush-era tax rates for couples making more than $250,000. The plan also closes certain corporate tax loopholes and limits certain tax deductions.

The president is also putting forward a measure he’s calling the “Buffett Rule” — named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett — to compel those making $1 million or more a year to pay the same overall rate as other taxpayers. Taxpayers making $1 million or more often make their fortune through investment income, which is taxed at 15 percent; the top income tax rate is 35 percent.

This is actually a terrific idea, and if the President had a shot in hell of making it happen, I would gladly declare him Barack Obama, Class Warrior. Hell, I might even consider voting for him.

But you see, Obama could have done this at the beginning of his term when he had Nancy Pelosi BEGGING him to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, as he had promised on the campaign trail. The House and Senate were ready to do whatever he wanted then…but he choked. And now, if he is battling for a class, I don’t think it’s the bottom 99% who are on his agenda.

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I have an absolutely miserable cold, so kindly bear with me as I hack my way through this post.   I have all of the symptoms so nicely outlined in the Nyquil commercial.

I have, however, been giving a lot of thought to the democratic processes demonstrated by the vote.  Ideally, one goes to the polls, casts one’s vote and has it counted along with the others to determine a result.  That’s the essence of the system, anyway.  What we are moving toward is something completely different.  I’m personally familiar with voter suppression, as I grew up in Georgia in the days of the infamous Literacy Test, which needed to be passed in order to obtain a voter registration card.  On one hand, there was some merit involved, as there was a measure if illiteracy in the state.  Some people signed with an “X”, as they were unable to write their own names.  Others could sign (usually printed) their first and last names, and that was about it.  Oddly, the state issued them a driver’s license with an oral test, but manfully resisted the vote.

The thing about the Literacy Test is that it was just about impossible to pass.  Two AA professors attempted it and failed, and that’s when all hell broke loose.  I’m proud to say that I passed, but ashamed to say that it was because I, like most other Caucasians, was given the answers in advance.  I have voted in every election for the past 44 years because (1) I thought that I should and (2) I hoped that it might make a difference.

I’ve watched with great interest the incursions being made on the vote.  You may remember that, in 2004, the Republican party sent representatives to polling places in heavily Democratic precincts in Ohio where they challenged the credentials of each and every person who came through the lines.  To say the least, things were backed up for hours.  Now we need a state-issued picture ID in order to vote.  Doesn’t sound too bad, until you realize that such IDs can cost up to $40.00 to procure.  Early voting days are being curtailed in many states, which limits votes proportionately.  Students are being prohibited from going to the polls in the town where they study. Proponents of the picture ID claim that this will reduce voter fraud.  The Fundies of my acquaintance are dead certain that the Democratic party has obtained voter registrations for illegals.  Even if that were true, Florida issues driver’s licenses to illegals, so they all have picture ID – procedure thereby nullified.

Florida is almost the crucible for voter nullification.  First we had the infamous non-recount of 2000, then we had the Republican-dominated state legislature leapfrog the primary system thereby halving our votes. We all watched what the DNC did to both Florida and Michigan’s delegates.  Amazingly,  both states plan  to move the primary date up to again “to be more relevent”.  Florida is toying with January 31, 2012.   The RNC is unhappy about this, and wants the state to move to late in February.  Again, they are out of turn and will lose half their votes, but Mr. Priebus thinks that it would be so much more convenient,  (So tell me, Mr. Priebus, if the state will lose half of its votes either way, why should they not have the primary whenever they feel like it?)

I know that I am a conspiracy theorist, but I’m beginning to develop a theory here.  Clearly the expensive picture IDs will keep the riff-raff away from the polls.  Reducing early voting opportunities will disproportionately impact seniors.  Making students return to their hometown to vote means nullifying the youth vote.   Those three are obvious, and they obviously tend to vote reliably Democratic in most instances.   The cheerful demeanor with which states are willing to lose half of their convention delegates in order to enhance their relevance has had me somewhat baffled, however.  Unless………………

Unless, of course, the polling is not going the way that the establishment Republicans had planned.  The establishment has spent half of their time attempting to prop up Mitt Romney and the other half  begging Jeb “Not Now” Bush and Chris “Shall I Commit Suicide?” Christie to run.  As the guvs of Florida and Michigan are of the business bent, and are presiding over states that might not share the same viewpoint, what if they are deliberately sacrificing half of their delegates in order to massage the outcome?  Michiganders have a populist streak, and Florida is just plain streaky.  Either or both could vote for the “wrong” guy, which would really put a wrinkle in things.  Both states have large numbers of delegates, and if they toss the outcome in the wrong direction, it could really truly mess up the RNC’s business plan.  Further, it might just assure Barack Obama yet another term in office.  It’s just a thought………………

This is an open thread.

Widdershins, it’s been tough to tear myself away from you. Many thanks to Chat and Pat for so ably filling in while my brain fried in a stew of corporate-speak and requirements-writing. Now that I’ve passed the latest deadline, I have a bit of time to write about The Coffee Party 2.0, and what I think its burgeoning success means to the future of activism in America.

When the Coffee Party started, it had a big problem: It was started by a bunch of snarky “progressives” who were united only in their hatred of Sarah Palin, and just wanted a place for self-congratulations. After a few days of milling around aimlessly, muttering epithets about how the rightwingers sucked really, really badly, the Coffee Party’s carafe was empty. Not much was heard therefrom, yea, for many moons.

But then other groups started mobilizing, like US Uncut and the Wisconsin pro-union protesters. Someone realized that even though the leaders of the Coffee Party were not, er, leading anywhere, there were still a hell of a lot of FaceBook “likes” on that page. Clearly a nerve had been struck at some point. If a dynamic and purposeful group so chose, they could grab those people and mobilize them towards real activism. And so, Coffee Party 2.0 was born. And there was much rejoicing! The “Enough is Enough” march is an event that I hope will continue to grow as the October 29th date comes closer. Click the graphic at the top of the site for more information.

There’s something else I hope – that the Coffee Party will learn from the mistakes of other “left” events and organizations. To be blunt: I hope they leave the “left” behind.

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Because where would she be without him?

For the past 3 years she has made her living by a continual onslaught of “Obama bashing” via Twitter and Facebook. There is no reason to believe that she is about to give that up any time soon since this is what puts food on her table and bucks in her bank account. Cheering for a Republican to win in 2012 would be cutting off that supply and this is not what she is about.

There is a contingent out there, waiting with baited breath and high expectations that soon, very soon, she will be announcing her intentions to seek the GOP nomination and “save America”.  Obviously they are unable to read the signs but rely on her ever present tease of the “will she or won’t she” to boost their hopes.

Anyone following her course – and you often need a GPS system to figure it out – knows full well that the GOP establishment wants nothing to do with her.  Karl Rove made that plain in suggesting she lacked the discipline to carry on a presidential bid which opened the door to many other GOP operatives in following suit.  A serious contender would not be ducking out of C-PAC or any other Republican fundraisers. She has managed to do just that.

Unless there is money to be earned by public appearances before Tea Party groups that also come equipped with a packet of perks, Sarah is not interested.  Her primary claim to fame is her opposition to Barack Obama.  Period.  This assures her place as the “darling” of the Tea Partiers and has allowed the Fox network to build a tv studio on her compound in order to “extract analysis” whenever it suits them.

But a GOP presidential winner would more or less spell the end of her “relevance”.  Dragging her before the cameras to “diss” a Republican president is just not in the cards.  Without Barack Obama those scrambled thoughts masquerading as “critical thinking” would be unwelcome.  Her relevancy is found in the continual mocking of Obama and she may very well find those lucrative earnings disappearing post haste should President Mitt or President Rick manages to pull out a win.

What she lacks by way of intellectual heft is offset by her need to be taken seriously.  Dropping into GOP events and candidate announcements assures her that she is still a viable presence, a king maker, a force in a party that more or less views her as an aberration who just won’t go away.

A recent poll suggested that she was a mere 4 points shy of defeating Obama if the election was held today.  My thinking is that the entire list of contenders may have read something like this:

“If the election were held tomorrow, who would you choose to oppose Barack Obama?”
1. Kim Kardashian
2. Casey Anthony
3. Sarah Palin
4. Anthony Weiner
This is how to determine a “winner”.

I hold with my own belief that without Barack Obama to “kick around” Sarah Palin would be taking a long deserved hiatus from the national scene.  Perhaps this is when the “lamestream media” dims the lights and retreats from the undeserved coverage of a woman who “resigned” midway through a 4 year term as governor and has nothing to offer beyond the ability to keep the spotlight on the empty headed rhetoric that passes for political dialogue.

In fact, I wouldn’t at all be surprised in discovering that an “Obama 2012” bumper sticker isn’t already affixed to that big bus used for her “national tour”.

She is not running. It would require more than she has to offer.  She will continue to play the “tease game” for as long as she can.  But one thing for sure: she is hopeful of another Obama term because she just “can’t quit him”.   Without Obama to kick around her “opinions” will no longer be sought after.

Sorry to disappoint those “fans” who believe that “destiny” lies with Sarah Palin.   Without him, she fades into the obscurity she fights against.  Like it or not, they need each other.

From one unlikey narcissist to another: “You need me!  Just admit it.”

Widdershins, the events of the past week have left me almost speechless.  Front runner Rick Perry fumbled the ultimate opportunity to righteously bash the acrobatic Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper so badly that he almost sounded impaired.  Let’s just say that he came agonizingly close to being Mike Murphy’s scathing chimpanzee vs. locked suitcase poster boy.   Flushed with that amazing performance, Rick then high-tailed it out of the Sunshine State just before the straw poll took place.  After all, he was a lock to win it, so what could go wrong? 

Not so fast, my friend.  The winner was none other than Herman Cain, the godfather (of pizza) himself.  Cain not only won said straw poll,but  it was also delivered nicely covered  with extra cheese and pepperoni coupled with a bonus 2 liter bottle of bubbly.  Here are the numbers, courtesy of The Huffington Post:

The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza won the test of conservative strength with roughly 37 percent of the vote. Texas Governor Rick Perry came in second place, followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who did not actively compete in the event. Here’s a full breakdown of the results:

Herman Cain: 37.11%
Rick Perry: 15.43%
Mitt Romney: 14.00%
Rick Santorum: 10.88%
Ron Paul: 10.39%
Newt Gingrich: 8.43%
Jon Huntsman: 2.26%
Michele Bachmann: 1.51%

By the previous week’s numbers, Perry should have sailed right through.  He had completed his leadership team earlier that week, and chose Pam Olsen (known locally at “the prayer lady”) to be his co-chair for the Florida straw poll.  She believes not only in the power of prayer, the prohibition of abortion, but also that gay marriage is the leading cause of natural disasters.  Per Ms. Olson, the increasing tolerance of gays has caused God to inflict a multitude of earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and hurricanes across the nation. (God, I hope that this woman doesn’t own a cat.  Thus far I have been spared.)   This fits in nicely with a number of the Fundamentalist ministers who spoke at “The Response”, Perry’s day of fun, prayer and fasting at the stadium.  (You may recall that some of them suggested that 09/11 was God’s way of telling us that He is displeased with our changing lifestyles, and that the dead blackbirds in Arkansas were predictive of the Apocalypse.  No word on the Texas wildfires, however.)  At any rate, Pam Olsen should have slid ol’Rick right through the straw poll, but she didn’t.

The mainstream of the Republican party is rattled.  I rarely find myself in any form of agreement with Bill Kristol, but his special editorial entitled “Yikes” is a classic.  Kristol describes Republican regulars variously as “horrified” and “demoralized”.  He accurately describes the Republican presidential field as “mediocre” and “wacky”.  He quotes one observer as writing ” I just thought maybe it’s always this bad….they’re only marginally worse than McCain and Bush.”  Kristol loudly laments the obvious fact that, in a week where Solyndra collapsed, Pakistani irregulars attacked our embassy,and  Iran drew closer to nuclear capabilities, not one single candidate was sufficiently facile to capitalize on this mess.  He yearns for Mitch Daniel, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, and of course, Chris Christie (who wondered if he had to commit suicide to convince people that he wasn’t running) to lead us from this tangled wilderness.  Perfect choice!  The guy who didn’t want to spend a nickel improving his infrastructure, but will now go to the mats for FEMA funding.  Maybe he can come and scream at the Tea Party types who are holding fast to his dollars and sensibilities. 

Anyhow, as we kick off another magical week in the countdown to government shutdown, I leave you with this thought:  have you ever seen a more jumped-up mess?  Enjoy it, Republican party!  You worked long and hard to cultivate these wingnuts. Now they own you.

Do these old tired eyes deceive me?  Has the slumbering giant of the American middle class awakened?  Maybe so – just may be so.  Madison seemed to get everyone’s attention, and served as a wake-up call.  Republican Congressmen who relished the screaming, shouting town halls of 2010 are now curiously unavailable, unless of course you have the price of admission – that’ll keep the unemployed riff-raff out.  Wall Street is thick with demonstrators.  The Coffee Party has turned out to be a double espresso, and we may just be on the verge of a great awakening of sorts.  Perhaps the “network” moment is upon us, in every sense of the word.  What we need is a heaping cup of inspiration, and the old protest songs are a fine start.

Desperate times call for great music.  I know I keep harping on the Sixties, but you have to admit that those were terrible times that produced some excellent tunes. You’ve also got to admit that we had some dandy demos back in the day. So today, let’s talk about the music of every era that served as a call to action.

(1) We Shall Overcome – Various first published in 1946.  Pete Seeger recorded this in 1963, and it became the anthem of the civil rights movement.  There are a number of versions, all of them good.

(2)  We Shall Not Be Moved – Various, first sung in union halls of the early days if the labor movement.   This was sung at all types of sit-ins in the Sixties.

(3) Keep Your Eye On The Prize – This song was adapted from the old gospel song “Keep Your Hand On The Plow”.

(4) People Have the Power – Patty Smith – 1988.   Fantastic song that applies to a multitude of situations.

(5) Fortunate Son – Credence Clearwater Revival.  Also the name of a book regarding George W. Bush.  If the shoe fits……

(6) Get Together – The Youngbloods remind us that there is power in numbers.

Please add your songs to this otherwise open thread.


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Blog Archive

September 2011
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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

So similar

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
2.7 years to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

Heroine of the Resistance

B-I-N-G-O!

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Perfect Name For Him h/t Daily News

Scary a.f.

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

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