Who Will Be Our ‘Bar Fight’ Candidate?

Matt Stoller has a great post at MyDD, The Bar Fight Primary. He writes about looking for a candidate with the core progressive instincts you want backing you up in a bar fight.

When Ronald Reagan announced his Presidential run in 1980, he did it in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three Civil Rights workers were killed. … Reagan, a genial and sunny Californian, could have it both ways because he had proved to the base that he was ‘with them’. Opening his campaign on a site that fully repudiated equal rights for blacks, that in a very real sense murdered liberals, was a way of saying to the emergent right-wing Confederate base that ‘I am with you, I hate who you hate’. … It was a statement that Reagan would play the role of President, but in a bar fight, in a close vote, where it really mattered, in all those small appointments, his sympathies would instinctively lean towards his base.

He says now we need a leader like that, one we know is with US,

We need a leader committed to responsible governance, anti-cronyism, social justice, an expansion of the Bill of Rights to include infrastructure changes, and a humble and morally powerful foreign policy. But governing this way is not a matter of expressing the desire for unity and hope to all Americans, but expressing solidarity with the people who will help create such an America. Those people are liberals. We are the ones who want a different America, and who will help build it and push the right out of the way.
[. . .] Just as Reagan said he’d unify the country by pushing the liberals out of the way, we need someone who will unify the country by pushing irresponsible right-wing power centers out of the way. They crushed our unions, we need to crush their talk radio, you know, that kind of thinking.

Who does he see on his side in a bar fight? So far there’s Clark and maybe Edwards:

In a bar fight, Obama and Hillary are not on our side.
[. . .] There are two candidates who can pass the bar fight primary. One of them, Wes Clark, passes the test clearly. He is a genuine liberal, and has fought the right clearly and consistently for the last four years, most recently in Connecticut when he was the only real surrogate against Lieberman. … And then there’s John Edwards. I think Edwards is split. He’s spent much of his time working with unions, on the road, in low-key meetings. Elizabeth Edwards has done outreach to bloggers, so there’s at least acknowledgment of the dirty hippy crew. He’s announcing in New Orleans, which is dog whistle politics on our issues. He knows he was wrong on the war, and feels our betrayal. Unlike Clark, though, I still haven’t seen him stand up for us in a real way. I haven’t seen him attack McCain, for instance, or go after the politicians who supported the Bankruptcy Bill. I haven’t seen him challenge any right-wing interests in a serious way, and so while I acknowledge he’s in the ball park, he’s not there yet.

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Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Builder Confidence Falls

Home builders’ confidence falls in December,

U.S. home builders were a bit more pessimistic about the housing market in December, but they’re growing more hopeful that home sales could perk up in six months, the National Association of Home Builders reported Monday.
… Economists had expected the index, which measures builder sentiment, to improve to 34 in December, according to a poll conducted by MarketWatch.
A reading of 50 shows that half the builders surveyed think the market is good and half think it’s poor.
The index had fallen to a decade-low of 30 in September, the sharpest decline in the index’s 20-year history. The index stood at 57 a year ago and peaked at 72 in June 2005.

It has been affecting Home Depot: Weathering The Housing Storm,

The recent slowdown in the housing market shouldn’t scare off investors in Home Depot.
…While the tough environment is projected to slow Home Depot’s sales growth to 2.8% this year, following a five-year run that saw the company average 11% growth, Trott points to a growing supply business and promising opportunities in China as big reasons for optimism.

Opportunities in China?

Vacation Days Off – Who Is Our Economy FOR, Anyway?

In the United States there is no legal minimum number of vacation days for workers. I guess we’re all supposed to be thankful to the rich for “giving us jobs.”
The rest of the world? Different. (As you read this, remember that 20 days means minimum four weeks vacation by law, not three.)
Here are a few examples:
Austria: 5 weeks, for elderly employees 6 weeks
Belgium: 20 days, premium pay
Brazil: 30 consecutive days, of which 10 can be sold back to the employer
Bulgaria: 20 business days
Croatia: 18 working days
European Union: 4 weeks, more in some countries
France: 7 weeks
Tunisia: 30 work days
Saudi Arabia: 15 days
Who else gets none? China…
So a question: Who is our economy FOR?

How To Win In Iraq

See Army Captain’s Simple Demonstration: How to Win in Iraq. (Note – it’s a PDF slide show.) This slideshow is of course three years too late – and it is a crime that we are there in the first place. It references the idiocy from “the 25-year-olds” that the Republican ideologues sent over to run things.
The story behind it is here,

But Patriquin [the author of the slide show] will not see victory in Iraq. He was killed by the same improvised explosive device that killed Maj. Megan McClung of the Marine Corps last Wednesday.
Patriquin had fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. A gifted officer, he spoke numerous languages, including Arabic.

Count this as one more item in a long list of things we should have done… History will not be kind to the conservatives.

Are Progressives Good? Then TELL PEOPLE!

Every time you turn on the radio or a cable news show you hear one form or another of the same old message, “conservatives and their ideas are good and liberals and their ideas are bad.” Think about how often you hear one or another variation of that theme.
But how often do you hear that liberals and progressives are good? How often do you hear that liberal/progressive ideas are better for people than a conservative approach? And if you are reading this you’re looking for progressive ideas. So how often do you think the general public is hearing that progressives and their values and ideas are good?
The public does not hear our side of the story very often – if ever.
Why is that? Maybe it’s because we aren’t telling people our side of the story!
There are literally hundreds of conservative organizations that primarily exist to persuade the public to support conservative ideas (and, therefore, conservative candidates.) The people you see on TV or hear on the radio or who write op-eds in newspapers are paid by, or at the very least draw upon resources provided by these organizations. You might or might not have heard of the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute or Americans for Tax Reform or the This Institute or the That Foundation or the Government-and-Taxes-Are-Bad Association – but there really is a network of well-funded conservative organizations marketing the conservatives-are-good-and-liberals-and-government-and-democracy-are-bad propaganda every hour of every day and they have been doing so for decades.
Click this link to visit a collection of links to articles, studies, reports and other resources for learning about the right-wing movement, its history, how it is funded and how it operates.
Now, can you think of any organizations that exist to tell the public that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates are good? Do you know about any organized effort to persuade people to support progressive values and ideas?

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Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Rules Don’t Apply?

Remember the stock market bubble and all the talk of a “new economy” that meant stocks would just keep going higher? With that in mind, read this: Housing, auto slumps may defy usual role as recession harbingers,

New home construction is plummeting. Car sales are weakening. Investors have driven long-term interest rates well below the short-term rates set by the Federal Reserve. All these factors are present today, and all have been precursors of past recessions.
But the U.S. central bank and much of Wall Street are now betting that the old rules don’t apply, and that a recession next year, while possible, is unlikely.

Ah, the stock market bubble? And what happened to the “new economy?” What happened to stocks? What always happens to speculative financial bubbles?
Whenever you start hearing that “the old rules don’t apply” that’s the signal to sell while you still can. Another warning sign is when you hear that “this time” things will be different.

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It’s Not The Bloggers, It’s The Blogs

A quick comment on all the big-name pundits and Washington insiders who criticize “the bloggers” and question their legitimacy: Anyone can start a blog.
(pause)
Here is what I am saying. When you criticize “the bloggers” and question the legitimacy of what they are saying, you are questioning the concept of democracy itself. ANYone can start a blog — so everyone is a blogger. If it makes you uncomfortable that the rabble is allowed to speak and express their opinions you need to think about your own understanding of and commitment to democracy. The blogs that reach prominence do so through an entirely democratic process – people have chosen to read or echo what is being written on them.
It’s not the bloggers you have a beef with, it’s the blogs themselves — the tool that lets the public have a say.

More Troops

So the word is that Bush is planning to send more troops to Iraq. This could be a good strategy if we are sending enough troops to truly secure the country, calm things down, stop the ethnic cleansing and death squads, stop the insurgency, let people just go to work and the park, allow POLICE to investigate crimes and arrest perpetrators and put them in jail, etc. and allow Iraq to develop institutions of justice and government. This was the moral and legal obligation that the Bush warmakers ignored. We could have done this from the start, and didn’t.
My question is, how many is enough? If we send enough, it means the violence abates. Seriously, if there are troops on every corner, that has to cut way down on the violence. But if we do not send enough, we’re just making things worse. At this point we might be talking about needing at least 400 or 500,000 troops to accomplish this.
So, if we’re going to send more, are they going to send enough more? Or is this just another stopgap measure? We all know the answer.

What’s unthinkable in Iraq?

I’ll tell you what’s not unthinkable. A three-sided war between Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey with the US forces caught in the middle. That’s not unthinkable. A bloody Turkish occupation of the Kurdish areas is not unthinkable. Al Qaeda rule in Saudi Arabia isn’t unthinkable either. These are among the real possibilities that Bush has given us.
What’s unthinkable is that any American should suffer adverse career consequences because of their advocacy of the war. Bush and Cheney will be untouched and will finish out their terms. The rabble of advisers from PNAC and other groups who promoted the war with lies, distortions, and wishful thinking will continue to pull down their salaries and will continue to appear on TV. The journalistic cheerleaders who stovepiped misinformation will continue to collect hefty salaries and will continue to share their opinions with us.
We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about Democrats “taking political advantage of the situation”, but the ball is really in the other court now. The ones who are behaving shamelessly and destructively right now are the ones who are trying to salvage the Bush administration. We cannot allow the Bush administration to be salvaged. If Bush and Cheney remain in power, they will make things much worse.
Bush and Cheney stand condemned by history, and their enablers and apologists (including the Democrats among them) stand condemned too. But I doubt that a single one of them will suffer any real consequences during their own lifetimes, and I fear that the world twenty years from now will be as strange to those of us who remain alive then as the world of 1934 was to anyone who could still remember 1914.

Building a Progressive Movement — If Each Of Us Gave $100

You might have heard that progressive organizations are starved for funds, while the hundreds of right-wing organizations like The Heritage Foundation that pound us with the right-wing message every day are all flush with corporate and wealthy-donor money. You might have heard that people who work for right-wing organizations are well-paid, well-trained and have access to the latest technology and resources, while people who fight for OUR values have to work for a pittance and barely get by, use ancient technology, etc.
It’s true. Progressive organizations ARE starved for funds, and as a result many of them primarily reach out to their membership lists – to appeal for funds – instead of reaching out to the public to broaden the progressive base. Meanwhile the conservative organizations are always out there making the case for conservative ideology and candidates. So the public – and resulting government policy – understandably leans right.
Because of this lack of funds many progressive organizations depend on a select few donors and have to be cautiously “centrist,” moderating their message and mission rather than risk giving offense by reaching out with a message that would resonate with more people – and grow the base.
Here’s a thought. If everyone who reads DailyKos, Huffington Post, Eschaton, Common Dreams, AlterNet, BuzzFlash, Smirking Chimp and all the other online progressive sites and blogs each gave at least $100 to a progressive organization – ANY progressive organization – it would end the dominance of the corporations and the conservative movement once and for all. There would be enough money for good jobs and internships for anyone interested in working to support progressive activities and candidates and policies.

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