Rich-Guy Populism — Glenn Beck

Over at Commonweal Institute, Brad Reed has a great post: Glenn Beck Peddles Populism for Rich Guys,

The irony is that Beck is only really opposed to big government when Republicans aren’t controlling it. For instance, he has no issues with allowing the government to torture prisoners and is supportive of police brutality. And those big government bailouts of the financial industry that Beck rails against on a regular basis? Back when George W. Bush was president, Beck actually chided Congress for not giving more money to rescue the banks.
So Beck isn’t against big government. Rather, he’s opposed to government action that helps the poor at the expense of the rich. For instance, have you ever seen a conservative oppose tax cuts in any form? Well, Glenn Beck does, but only if they’re being given to poor people. Indeed, when economist Jeff Frankel appeared on Beck’s show to advocate giving tax cuts “to low-income, working Americans,” Beck compared him to Josef Stalin and accused him of trying to “redistribute the wealth.”

Go read, ans see what he says about Ayn Rand.

TWO Great Progressive Blog Sites AND A Great CA Site

Take a look at the Campaign for America’s Future blog, Blog for Our Future. There is a LOT there. Bookmark it.
Also, there is great thought-provoking stuff at the Commonweal Institute blog, Uncommon Denominator. Bookmark that, too.
And take a look at the names of the poeople posting at both of these sites – you’ll be surprised.
Finally, if you are in California you will want to check out the Speak Out California site!

Van Jones And Liberal Organizations — A Key Post At A Key Moment

Please go read Jane Hamsher’s Van Jones: A Moment of Truth For Liberal Institutions in the Veal Pen. She is asking the liberal organizations to stand up for Van Jones. Read the whole post, this is a key post at a key moment.
Glenn Beck calls someone a communist and they have to resign? Any one of us can be thrown under the bus at any moment if we don’t fight this.

Republican Infrastructure

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
Why are Republicans so successful, even though they only have a tiny minority representation in our state government?  Read on.

An invitation was sent for the upcoming California Republican Party Convention, which will be September 25-27 at the Rennaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, outside of Palm Springs.

Nestled at the base of the majestic Santa Rosa Mountains in the exclusive community of Indian Wells, the luxurious Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa is the desert’s finest oasis. Offering unparalleled service and all the amenities of a world-class resort, Esmeralda invites you to indulge your every whim.

[. . .] Spa Esmeralda is designed to nourish your soul. Marble floors, glass corridors and the sounds of a trickling stone fountain greet you. From that moment on, a transformation begins to take place.

Gaze at the alluring desert landscape from the tranquil Spa Garden and soothe away the day’s stress under a therapeutic waterfall spa. This is Spa Esmeralda. This is Paradise.

Featuring,

  • Spa with lush garden
  • Golf Club House
  • Lounge with live entertainment
  • Room Service
  • 36-Holes of Championship Golf
  • 3 swimming pools & Pool Bar
  • Fitness Center
  • Tennis
  • Concierge
  • In-room movies
  • Complimentary in-room coffee
  • Complimentary newspaper
  • Restaurants

Nice!  Where do they park their yachts in the desert, though?

I noted on the web page, “Special Thanks to San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for their generous support of the California Republican Party and the fall convention.” Sponsorship is solicited on the following terms:


$100,000 Official Convention Title Sponsorship
For organizations seeking maximum exposure and opportunities to network with Republican candidates for Governor, Congress and State Legislature, this Title Sponsorship opportunity is ideal, providing exclusive benefits. Title sponsorship of the California Republican Party’s fall Convention is limited to one partner with a speaking opportunity during the convention and a customized sponsorship marketing plan tailored to your needs which will include … Private meeting with all top state party leaders during convention.

There are also $50,000, $25,000 and $15,000 opportunities.

I especially was interested in The Workshops At The ’09 CRP Fall Convention, which are put on by various people including:

  • David Kralik, Silicon Valley Representative for Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions 
  • David Avella, Executive Director of GOPAC
  • Philip R Hinderberger: Senior V-P & Govt. Affairs Counsel, NORCAL Mutual Insurance Company
  • Larry Greenfield, The Reagan Legacy Foundation
  • Mackenzie Eaglen, Research Fellow for National Security Studies, Heritage Foundation

Some background on some of the above:

  • If you don’t know, a Senior V-P & Govt. Affairs Counsel is a LOBBYIST.
  • The Ronald Reagan Legacy Project was formed in 1997 as a project of Americans for Tax ReformGrover Norquist’s organization.  According to SourceWatch: “Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) is ostensibly a group that pushes for lower taxes. It has close ties to the Republican Party and has frequently allied itself with the tobacco industry.”
  • Heritage Foundation is the premier right-wing, anti-government “think tank” located in Washington, DC.

So this is a luxury event, sponsored by corporations, with workshops from elements of the conservative infrastructure.  These are organizations that are supposed to be non-partisan, are often funded with tax-deductible contributions, exist outside of the party structure, but in this case are closely bound with the party itself.

These third-party groups lay the groundwork for elections by bombarding the public with corporate-funded messaging that is almost always anti-government and anti-tax, advocating the corporations replace government in our national and state decisionmaking.  Grover Norquist is famous for saying he wants to make the government “small enough that it can be drowned in a bathtub” and this is why his organization has demanded that office-seekers sign a pledge to oppose taxes in all forms.  They believe in “defunding” government, so that it cannot effectively regulate corporations. 

After enough of this drumbeat of anti-government propaganda, with no response from people who believe in demcoracy and community, the public doesn’t have much choice but to believe the only voices they hear, and turn against government and the taxes that support democracy.  

This third-party infrastructure is why conservatives have been so effective at strangling government in California.  It is funded by corporations and every Republican has take “the pledge.”  The corporations pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into our elections to put just enough of them over the top to keep the state from functioning. 

What we need is a progressive infrastructure of organizations that reach the public and explain progressive policies, creating acceptance of progressive values and demand for progressive solutions that help everyone, not just a select, wealthy few.

Click through to Speak Out California

Progressive Infrastructure Being Built Before Your Eyes

Take a look at The Commonweal Institute Blog: Uncommon Denominator, and scroll down.
LOTS of good stuff there from the Progressive Op-Ed Program. You might recognize some of the names because you mightalready read their blogs: Brad Friedman, Jill Richardson, Brad Reed, Nezua Limon, Allison Arieff, Michelle Mustonen, Joanna Guldi, Chris Bowers, Kyle Gillette, Mary Ratcliff… Go see them all.
This is progressive infrastructure being built before your eyes.

Open Left Fundraiser

Open Left is having a findraiser. If we are going to have a progressive infrastructure at all we all need to pitch in and help fund organizations like Open Left. Even if you only give a dollar, please go show that you support building up an infrastructure of progressive organizations that are:
* OUTSIDE of political parties, and that
* Put pressure on our elected officials to do the right thing, and
* Articulate progressive ideas.
Seriously, if 1000 people only give a dollar that is a thousand dollars. There are millions of progressives. Think about it.

Take The Right Seriously, Please

We’re all laughing at the right’s nuttiness, especially the teabagging campaign. They say Obama isn’t an American, that he is a communist, that in ten weeks he is responsible for the bush deficit, that he is planning to put everyone in concentration camps, that he is going to replace the dollar with a world currency, that he is gutting the military… And he has only been in office ten weeks.
In fact they’re back to being as crazy and paranoid as they were when Clinton was President. Remember the accusations that Clinton and Hillary were murderers, that Hillary personally killed Vince Foster, that Clinton ran a drug-smuggling operation out of an airstrip, that he was looking through FBI files, that he fired the travel office to put a cousin in, that he “sold” plots in Arlington cemetery, that he held up runway traffic to get a $500 haircut, that he used cocaine in the White House, that he hung obscene ornaments on the White House Christmas tree and the other fabrications that came daily?
We laughed then, too, and how did that work out? They took over the Presidency, the House and the Senate. Then they started wars. They tortured people. They appointed corporate lobbyists to run every agency. They filled the courts with Federalist Society judges that rule for the corporations and religious right every time. They stole billions — in one documented case actually having the Fed ship truckloads of pallets of hundred dollar bills directly to Iraq to be distributed to Bush cronies. They destroyed the economy of the world. And they worked hard to destroy the world itself — the arctic is melting, the fisheries are depleted, the resources are plundered… And they get away with it — who is being held accountable for any of that?
When Joe McCarthy was spreading his poison we dismissed him as a nutcase. We laughed at the John Birch Society’s paranoia, when they called Eisenhower a communist, and they ended up getting Bolton appointed to the UN. We thought the “Impeach Earl Warren” campaign was a joke and now they have the Supreme Court majority. We laughed at Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and Pat Robertson’s campaign and the religious right ended up staffing the administration with their followers. … And now we mock them for being insane over Obama.
So I want to say, please take the right seriously. They may appear to be crazy – and they are – but this doesn’t mean it isn’t going to work. Let me explain.
In another life I was involved in direct mail. I learned a lot.
Direct mail lets you measure the effect of every smallest thing. You can change the color of the paper the letter is written on and then measure the effect this has — and by the way, the color actually makes a measurable difference. Changing the price from $9.99 to $9.95 can have a significant effect on the number of people who choose to buy what you are selling.
So what I am getting at is that the most important lesson I learned was there is a reason that direct mail is worded the way it is, and looks the way it looks. That reason is that it works. “Buy now” is a call to action, and if you put “buy now” at the right place in your offer, people … buy now. Every single word, the color, the font, the thickness of the ink, the headline, even the placement of periods and commas have all been tested and they are there because putting them there that way increases the number of people who make the decision to buy.
Repeat: they do it because it works.
What the right did in the Clinton years worked. They know how to do this stuff. That is why people across the country are reporting that a mass robo-call effort is underway to invite people to these tea parties. This is a funded strategic operation. They are reaching out to the general public with their message that Obama and “liberals” are to blame for the economy. They are setting the stage to own the issue when the economy gets worse.
Going out and talking to the general public with their message is effective, and that is what they are doing. Everything with them is about shaping public opinion. Everything is propaganda, saying whatever they need to say and refining what they say until it is having an effect, and then repeating and repeating that message. It’s just standard marketing and advertising. And they get away with it because they are the only ones doing that. They have an entire TV channel dedicated to telling the public that conservatives and their ideology are good, and that everything that is bad in their lives is the fault of the liberals. They still have dozens – hundreds – of radio shows repeating that message 24 hours a day across the country. They still have hundreds of paid operatives writing op-eds, books, speaking to groups, appearing on their TV and radio shows, always always always repeating a coordinated strategic message.
It works. They’re doing it and they are funded and strategic. We aren’t. We’re right and they are wrong, progressive policies and candidates are better for people than conservatives ones, but we aren’t telling the public. We have no coordinated marketing effort to explain to the general public how and why progressives and progressive ideas and policies are better for them than the conservative approach. Until we do the right remains just as dangerous as ever.
Watch your backs.

We Need To Tell The Public, Too

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
Here is something that you and I know to be true: progressive values and policies are better for people than conservative values and policies.
Progressives believe that we’re all in this together and the community taking care of each other ends up working out better for everyone. History also shows that this is how it turns out, every time. Conservatives believe people should be on their own, in constant dog-eat-dog competition, with everyone looking out for themselves and only themselves. History shows that this approach leads to disaster, every time.
You and I know this. But the pubic-at-large doesn’t know our side of this argument, because we aren’t telling them. While conservatives market their philosophy through every conceivable information channel there is very little outreach explaining the progressive side. When you turn on the radio or the TV or read the newspapers you just don’t see or hear about the benefits of a progressive approach. So the public-at-large is only hearing one side of the story — the conservative side — and they are hearing that side loudly and often.

Continue reading

Things Are Happening With Commonweal

Have you been to Commonweal Institute’s website lately? More and more things are happening. In fact it’s a good idea to sign up for email updates.
For example, Commonweal Institute is the home and fiscal sponsor of The Progressive Ideas Network which has released a book, Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era. See At Dawn of New Era, Ideas Network Releases “Thinking Big”.
Also, see Commonweal Institute is On the Air, with podcasts of recent radio interviews with commonweal-associated people.
And if you are in the SF Bay Area, there are upcoming Salons, Sunday, March 22, 2 – 4 p.m., San Jose and Sunday, April 19, 2 – 4 p.m., in Portola Valley, CA. Click for details.

Progressive Ideas Book

I would like to tell you about a new book, Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era
From the publisher’s description:

At this critical juncture progressives have a unique opportunity to reassert themselves as agents of bold ideas and catalysts of political and social transformation. This volume presents new and innovative solutions to some of the most difficult problems we’re facing: the financial crisis, healthcare reform, greening the economy, expanding the middle class, improving America’s standing in the world, and many more.


This book comes from the Progressive Ideas Network – an alliance of progressive think tanks. The job of these organizations is to think through today’s problems and propose solutions according to our progressive values.
For example, the first essay in this book is titled, “Building Shared Prosperity.” This is about building an economy that works for all of us rather than just making us all work to death to make a few already-wealthy people richer.
Progressive values: Do we want to live in a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is in it for themselves and only themselves? This is the conservative vision. OR do we want to live in a world where we take care of each other, watch out for each other, and lift each other up? This is the progressive vision.
The website for the book is here.

Obama Kills 50-State Strategy?

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I am hearing that the post-Dean DNC under Obama has killed off the 50-state strategy and that 200 organizers have been fired. The word is they are going to go back to the old 50%-plus-one strategy that sacrificed the idea of making gains in areas that have voted Republican.
See Daily Kos: RIP 50-state strategy.
If this is true it is time to stop giving money or otherwise helping the DNC, and start thinking about ways to build progressive infrastructure.