Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

The question is: Will Sen. Udall (D-CO) step up and read the report of the Senate investigation into the record

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We have a lot of craven politicians, but I suspect no more a higher percentage than in the general population—except that craven politicians can think up more excuses for not acting. But time is running out for Sen. Udall: will he step up to the task, or turn tail and head home?

Read this for context: the argument between the White House and the Senators on whether the American public should be informed about what their government is doing. (The White House thinks not, and is doing everything in its power to hide the facts.)

Obama really is a piece of work. It’s too bad he’ll probably never realize the extent to which he has let the country down.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 November 2014 at 6:02 pm

Running for money: Politics today

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Politics today is heavily distorted by the need to always find more money—no matter how big the war chest, it must be bigger!

This constant search for money means that our elected representatives, while meaning to do good things, must first secure more money—by begging on the phone for hours each day, by passing legislation that will bring in good campaign donations, by constantly keeping in the forefront of their mind, “How will what I’m now doing help me gain more campaign money?”

The answer is pretty simple: offer public funding for all elections and make those limits hold. Each candidate gets the same amount of money to spend, depending on the office sought. But we won’t do that, even though the constant search for money means that more and more legislation is done to benefit those who have money and are willing to contribute.

Matt Miller has a good article in Politico in which he talks about his own campaign and the overriding role play by money:

t’s a blazing hot Memorial Day weekend in Hermosa Beach, seven miles south of LAX, and the holiday festival has drawn thousands of people. It’s the kind of crowd a candidate craves in the closing days of a campaign. There are hands to shake, and the veteran pols have all told me the same thing: Every hand you shake is a likely vote. With nine days until the primary—and our new poll showing me just three points behind my most prominent Democratic rival—I’m trying to touch as many voters as I can. Trouble is, a lot of voters don’t seem to want to touch me.

“Hi, I’m Matt Miller, and I’m running for the congressional seat Henry Waxman is vacating,” I say as I close in, hand extended, on a middle-aged couple. “Do you live in the area?” They avert their eyes and scurry past.

“Hi, I’m Matt Miller, and I’m running for the congressional seat Henry Waxman is … ” Another couple waves me off.

“Hi, I’m Matt Miller and … ”

“I hate all you politicians,” snaps a man who hadn’t looked angry at all until I mentioned Congress.

This happens over and over. Some folks even speed up to avoid me once they hear what I’m after. I try not to take it personally, but the truth is people are responding as if I’d reached for them and said, “Hi, I’m Matt Miller and I have a highly contagious disease—do you mind if I approach more closely?”

“It’ll only take 30 seconds,” I take to pleading. “I promise—it’s painless.” Often it works. People might hate politicians, but they can still take pity on a fellow human being who’s trying to make a sale. Like Willy Loman, I’m way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine.

I deliver my pitch. Running for office for the first time. Host of a talk show on public radio, “Left, Right & Center.” Worked on the Clinton White House economic team. Endorsed by the Los Angeles Times. Can I give you a piece of propaganda on that? “It’s high-quality propaganda,” I always add, “not like the mediocre propaganda those other campaigns are peddling.” Winking smile. See how easy democracy can be?

A score! A man in a bright yellow tank top takes my flier as I tell him I’d be honored to have his vote on June 3. Even if my batting average isn’t high, I think, at least I’m getting somewhere.

Or not.

About 10 paces off, Tank Top Man tosses my handout on the ground. My smile fades as I make the decision; it feels like an affront to let it lie there. In my mind’s eye, the camera cranes upward, and from high above the rooftops we see a speck of a candidate down on one knee, in the midst of hordes of indifferent passersby, rescuing his glossy little placard. The pavement is hot. I feel the sweat on my face. I wipe some grit off the piece with my thumb. Still usable, I think.

I.

My metamorphosis from normal civilian to retriever of discarded propaganda—a journey into the maddening, depressing, exhilarating, surreal and even occasionally inspiring world of a modern congressional campaign—had begun on a freezing day in Manhattan four months earlier. I was walking near Columbus Circle on January 30, when I felt my phone vibrate. It was a Politico Breaking News alert. The legendary Californian congressman Henry Waxman had announced he would not be running for reelection. I stopped in my tracks.

The bell had sounded.

I’d lived in Waxman’s district on the west side of Los Angeles for 18 years, and I always thought that when he stepped down, I would consider running for his seat. I had worked in the Clinton White House from 1993 to 1995, on the wonk side of things, and had flirted with the idea of jumping into electoral politics even back then. When we left the administration, my then-girlfriend, Jody, and I were about to get engaged. She worked for Clinton, too. She served as Clinton counselor David Gergen’s deputy and special assistant to the president when I was Alice Rivlin’s top aide in the budget office. We were a White House romance before White House romance got a bad name.

Back then, I had told Jody that I was thinking about going home to Connecticut and running for Congress.

“You can do that,” she had said. “Or you can marry me. You can’t do both.”So I didn’t. It was the right choice. We got hitched and moved to Los Angeles and built a life in a small enclave called Pacific Palisades. I grew comfortable with the idea that I could contribute to public life through books and journalism, and by hosting what eventually became a popular week-in-review program on public radio.

Still, the idea of elected office stayed in the back of my mind. It’s an occupational hazard, I suppose: When you spend years writing about national policy, you can’t help but wonder if you’d be able to nudge Washington in a better direction. But like everyone else in L.A., I had assumed right up until that January morning that Waxman wouldn’t retire for another five or six years.

Now it had happened. . .

Continue reading. It’s an interesting look from the inside of a campaign.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 November 2014 at 10:09 am

Maybe Andrew Cuomo is not cut out for government

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He seems more focused on politicking than doing the job. Note this NY Times editorial with some damning facts about Cuomo’s performance and behavior:

Two years ago, Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the Eastern Seaboard. Close to one million customers of the Long Island Power Authority lost power, some for weeks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who controlled the authority, decided that LIPA’s miserable performance needed to be investigated and, to that end, created the Moreland Commission on Utility Storm Preparation and Response.

The inquiry was a good idea. But even before the commission got to work, it was clear that Mr. Cuomo was largely responsible for LIPA’s failings, since he did not fill vacant positions on LIPA’s board or appoint a permanent chief executive. When the storm hit, Mr. Cuomo lashed out repeatedly at LIPA’s performance, and required all news releases to go through his office, which meant it took longer to get information to the public.

A New York Times investigation by Susanne Craig now shows that Mr. Cuomo’s administration meddled with the commission’s inquiry and report, partly to shield him from any blame for LIPA’s bumbling response to the storm. Kathleen Rice, who was in charge of the section of the commission’s report dealing with LIPA, dedicated several pages to staffing issues and concluded that LIPA “may have benefited” during the storm if positions like that of communications chief, the person who could have kept customers informed, had been filled. That finding did not appear in a report to the governor in January 2013.

Mr. Cuomo’s aides have argued that he did not fill vacancies before the storm because he felt LIPA was “bloated” and that it made no sense to fill jobs that might be eliminated later. And they contend that a final report from the commission was only slightly edited, not rewritten to suit the governor’s needs. But The Times’s account is consistent with Mr. Cuomo’s recurring efforts to control the narrative to protect himself from criticism. He has also been widely criticized for his efforts to manipulate the activities and findings of the Moreland Commission on government ethics, which he shut down in the spring. . . .

Continue reading.

And click that link to the investigative report: it’s quite damning. Ms. Teachout would have been a better choice.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2014 at 8:18 pm

Some good lines by Sen. Elizabeth Warren

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From this article in the New Yorker:

“We can go through the list over and over, but at the end of every line is this: Republicans believe this country should work for those who are rich, those who are powerful, those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers,” she said in Englewood, Colorado. “I will tell you we can whimper about it, we can whine about it, or we can fight back. I’m here with Mark Udall so we can fight back.”

“Republicans, man, they ought to be wearing a T-shirt,” she said in Des Moines, Iowa. “The T-shirt should say: ‘I got mine. The rest of you are on your own.’ … We can hang back, we can whine about what the Republicans have done … or we can fight back. Me, I’m fighting back!”

Even on “The View,” Warren came across as a political pugilist who loves nothing more than climbing into the ring with the Republicans. “Under President Obama’s leadership, we fight to raise the minimum wage, we fight to reduce the interest rate on student loans, we fight for equal pay for equal work,” she told “CBS This Morning.” “It’s really about whose side do you stand on? And, for me, that’s the whole heart of it.”

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2014 at 4:29 pm

Hillary Clinton’s Continuity Government Versus Elizabeth Warren’s Voice for Change

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Hilllary Clinton is Wall Street’s pick for Democratic candidate for president. They loved Bill, who pretty much gave away the nation to Wall Street, and Hillary is going the same route. Pam Martens and Russ Martens write at Wall Street on Parade:

The contrast between Wall Street’s continuity government in Washington under another Clinton in the White House and the charismatic populist voice of Senator Elizabeth Warren as she stumps for Democrats in the midterms, is awakening millions of Americans to the idea that there may be choices after all in the 2016 presidential election.

Columnist Eugene Robinson said it best last Monday in the Washington Post, writing that Senator Warren’s “swing through Colorado, Minnesota and Iowa to rally the faithful displayed something no other potential contender for the 2016 presidential nomination, including Hillary Clinton, seems able to present: a message.”

What Robinson really means is “a message of hope” – that Wall Street’s wealth transfer system, institutionalized under a protection racket by members of Congress who keep their seats using Wall Street’s campaign dough, could come under serious challenge with Warren in the White House.

In a Wall Street Journal article last Friday, Peter Nicholas reports that Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and a large donor to Democrats, summed up Hillary as follows: “I see Hillary as part of the middle-of-the-road mainstream government that is essentially in bed with these corporations.”

Where would such an idea come from? The Center for Responsive Politics reports that four of the top six donors to Hillary’s failed bid to capture the Democratic nod for the Presidency in 2008 were employees, family members or PACs of major Wall Street firms: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley.

When the Democrats gave the nod to Barack Obama instead, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup show up among his top seven donors for his 2008 campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (As indicated above, the corporations do not give directly; it’s their PACS, employees or family members of employees.)

The idea that Wall Street is running a continuity government in Washington stems from the fact that it was President Bill Clinton who repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, a goal Wall Street and its legions of lobbyists had advanced for decades. This breathtaking deregulation of Wall Street did not happen under a Republican presidency but under one styling itself as progressive. The repeal allowed commercial banks holding insured deposits to merge with investment banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies to become vast gambling casinos, looters of the little guy, and to crash the economy in 1929 style fashion just nine years after Clinton signed the repeal legislation in 1999.

The Wall Street sycophants in the Bill Clinton administration who pushed through the repeal of this legislation that had protected the country for seven decades included Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, and the man who would step into the Treasury post, Lawrence Summers, after Rubin headed for Citigroup to collect $120 million in compensation over the next eight years. Both men turned up as advisors to Obama once he took his seat in the Oval Office.

Last year, Obama attempted to push through the nomination of Summers, then on the payroll of Citigroup as a consultant, to become the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. It took heavy backlash from members of his own party to advance Janet Yellen’s nomination over Summers.

With the exception of retiring Senator Carl Levin, Senator Warren uniquely demonstrates a comprehensive knowledge of how Wall Street firms like Citigroup maintain their stranglehold on the levers of power in Washington. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 October 2014 at 3:34 pm

Shaking up New York state politics

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I’m hoping that Wu at least wins, and that Teachout scares the bejesus out of Cuomo. (By “bejesus,” I mean “corruption.”_

Fascinating article.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2014 at 1:19 pm

Elizabeth Warren finally speaks on Israel/Gaza, sounds like Netanyahu

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A sad sight, reported in The Intercept by Glenn Greenwald. From the article:

Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel “indiscriminately,” but with the Iron Dome defense system, the missiles have “not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for.” When pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the “last thing Israel wants.”

“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” Warren said, drawing applause.

Just to be clear: Hamas may indeed put its rocket launchers next to hospitals and schools, but that does NOT in fact protect their military assets. The hospitals and schools are then termed “human shield”, and Israel believes that it is perfectly acceptable to kill human shields: once the civilians are seen to be shields, they are shelled and bombed to death.

Moreover, Israel seems simply eager to kill Gazans, civilians or not. The shelling of four boys playing alone on a beach, with no military assets around, killed four children. That was an Israeli gunship, and it was not defending Israel, it was attacking children.

I’m disappointed in Sen. Warren. And she seems to have a closed mind regarding alternative approaches. Also from the article:

Warren even rejected a different voter’s suggestion that the U.S. force Israel to at least cease building illegal settlements by withholding further aid: “Noreen Thompsen, of Eastham, proposed that Israel should be prevented from building any more settlements as a condition of future U.S. funding, but Warren said, ‘I think there’s a question of whether we should go that far.’”

Written by LeisureGuy

28 August 2014 at 9:40 am

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