Recently in Extremism Category

From Sacramento Bee's Capital Alert: Steinberg considers cuts targeting GOP districts,
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg today said he is willing to consider calls to target GOP districts with steeper cuts if legislative Republicans will not vote for taxes or to put taxes on a statewide ballot as part of a budget solution. ... The Sacramento Democrat said he thinks a targeted-cuts scenario like the one state Treasurer Bill Lockyer laid out in an interview with the Bay Area News Group-East Bay's editorial board comes down to "basic fairness." "You don't want to pay for government, well then, you get less of it," he said.
This is an interesting approach. They say this is what their constituents demand, so let them get what they want!

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IS IT TIME TO TRY ANOTHER APPROACH?

You've got to give Governor Brown major kudos for his patience and tenacity in trying to make a deal with the Legislature's Republicans. With the state facing a game-changing $26B budget gap, after already reducing general fund spending over the past several years by an estimated $14B, give or take a few billion, the state is at a precipice. Are we going to face the future with great ambition and vision or are we going to fall off a cliff and perhaps never recover our role in the nation and world as the place that "invents the future"? The Democrats have already agreed to a balanced approach and made an additional $12-14B in cuts to close the gap. But where's the rest going to come from? If we want to decimate the state, then the balance will be cuts as well. Say good-bye to quality education-at any level; care for the neediest Californians; public safety; adequate police and fire-services when man-made or natural crisis appears; maintaining and repairing our infrastructure--roads, bridges, sewers; assuring clean air and water and all the other services and programs we take for granted in a civilized world. The list is long and deep. But the Republicans today don't care--in fact, that don't want government to succeed and some are brazen enough to admit it.

Let's face it: Today's Republican "leaders" in the legislature bear no resemblance to those who preceded them and this "new breed" is committed to dismantling government-sponsored efforts, most of which help the poor and middle class. The wealthy continue to accumulate vast amounts of money and the rest of us continue to suffer as a result. While there may be a few of these "leaders" who realize that politics is the art of compromise, they're under so much pressure and, frankly, so spineless in the face of that pressure, that they're just not willing or able to make a deal. Governor Brown is desperately trying to make a deal and put the state in a position so it can recover and once again prosper. But with a 2/3 requirement to do anything meaningful in this state--like raise taxes or put a measure on the ballot without the tedious and time-consuming signature gathering process, Brown can't and won't win. He's got to be at the point where he realizes that he can't work with these people. For those of us who believe that government plays an important and integral role in making society work, we can only hope that the Governor won't, out of desperation, capitulate to the unreasonable demands being put forth by the few Republicans who are taking on the "good-cop" role with the other Republicans as the "bad cop." Demands like a permanent "hard" spending cap is and must be a non-starter, for example. It's simply bad for the future of this state. Of course, the "good cops" continue to put new and different demands on the table---up to 53 at last count, which would cause anyone to pull out his or her hair, so it's a good thing Jerry doesn't have to deal with that problem.

But what Jerry Brown is also dealing with is the fact that after a decade or more of Republican sound-bites saying that we don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem, the public has drunk that kool-aid. Of course, part of the blame falls on Democrats who haven't had an equally as effective and cute sound-bite in response. Instead, they go into great detail about the various nuances and responsibilities of government, the complexities of budgets, etc. It's enough to make one's eyes glaze over---and they do.

The perception is that government is too big and too bloated. Unfortunately, the public also notes that the Democrats have been claiming for years that the sky is falling but it never has----Of course, that's because we have borrowed enormous amounts of money to keep the sky up. Unfortunately, we're about the pay the piper and that may be where we might have to go before the public steps up.

Hopefully Governor Brown will look for another approach. He is very smart, creative and determined, but right now the numbers and the public aren't supportive of the obvious options and I think he's stuck. Of course, one should never underestimate Jerry Brown, but right now the right-wing anti-government ideologues who want to destroy public education and infrastructure so they can privatize the state are winning this battle.


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As Americans and people of common decency, we are deeply saddened and offended by the most recent violence perpetrated upon Gabrielle Giffords, a warm and compassionate young Congresswoman from Tucson, Arizona and the other innocent people standing nearby who were wounded and killed. We have no choice but to be outraged. Democracy and freedom are under attack whenever people are threatened with violence or become the victims of actual violence because of their political opinions or beliefs.

This political assassination attempt could have happened in California or anywhere in the U.S.A. It happens often in Pakistan, Mexico, Iraq and other third-world countries. Sadly, we in the United States are not immune. Perhaps it is should be less surprising given the frequent right-wing references to revolution, violence and Sara Palin's "target" list that includes a map with enemies identified in a rifle's cross-hairs. No joke. When violent rhetoric is ramped up as it has been over the past few years, it cannot be surprising that hate groups and crazed individuals will rise up and respond. In fact, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center there are over 60 active hate groups identified in California alone; 66 in Texas and 18 in Arizona. And that list has grown over 250 % in the past few years!

With six innocent and decent people killed and several others wounded by a deranged young man-with-gun and bizarre political extremist views, it is time to speak up and demand consequences for violent and hate-filled speech by right-wing extremists, led by the Glen Becks and Sarah Palins of the world, and not give them a pass on their rhetoric. Whether intended to or not, hateful and violent speech incites unstable and violence-prone people to lash out and hurt and kill children, doctors, highly-respected judges and senior citizens as well.

We know the right-wing spin machine is fast at work. They'll end up trying to persuade us that it's all Obama and "the lefties" fault because of their policies, and that the leftties' rhetoric is just as violent and inciteful. As we know, the propaganda machines of the right have never been concerned with the truth, so I've included a link below (which you can cut and paste) that demonstrates how this type of hateful rhetoric has been amped up by the right-wing for years. With that being said--and it should be reiterated over-and-over so the toxic and violent references of the right stop, there should be no similar violent images from the left---or anywhere in our political system. We have a way to speak: it is through the ballot not bullets (a shocking suggestion of bullets where ballots don't achieve the "desired" result-- attributed to Sharon Angle in her campaign against Harry Reid where she continuously talked about "Second Amendment remedies.")

But the facts are clear: it is these very people who, by virtue of their constant references to guns and violence, MUST be held accountable. We must demand a stop to the gun metaphors of bullseyes, targets and firing machine guns as a political campaign activity (actually conducted by Ms. Gifford's opponent, Jesse Kelly, during the campaign prior to the November election). When you hear people using the "right-wing's" talking points about how the left is just as hostile, you'll be able to refute their claims. They are factually false.

The hate-mongering must end. Glen Beck and his cohorts must be made to understand that free speech has consequences and responsibilities that go with it---especially when inciting and hate-mongering are conducted through the air-waves. No more wistful mutterings about killing Michael Moore, or calling for insurrection and overthrow of the government with "2nd amendment rights." It is the Glen Becking that provides the encouragement to those who are deep into hate or madness and who believe that they are entitled to impose their views through violence and destruction.

Even assuming no ill motives to the politically heated rhetoric of the "right" espoused by Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Ann Coulter and others, are certainly not stupid people. They know that their rhetoric plays to those with a propensity for violence. The goal is that it stop; that the violence stop and that we find a way to respectfully disagree without forcing our opinions on one another through the barrel of a gun or other acts of intolerance and destructive conduct.

Enough already. Let's take over the debate and demand that the facts speak for themselves. And in the meantime, let us all share the weight of six innocent people whose lives were taken by a madman for their simple act of participating in an act of liberty--meeting their congresswoman to express their concerns or appreciation. This is America, after all---where we pride ourselves on liberty and the ability to disagree in freedom and in safety.

See the Insurrectionism Timeline at http://www.csgv.org/issues-and-campaigns/guns-democracy-and-freedom/insurrection-timeline


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Have We, the American People, Lost our Heart and Compassion and appear as grave hypocrites at this particular time of year? Or is it just our political "leaders" who have reduced the President to a virtual afterthought in their quest to bankrupt government and give the wealthiest Americans even more? Heavens, the wealthiest among us have a difficult choice to make, as one bold U.S. Senator stated earlier this week. Their dilemma is in which house should they celebrate Christmas. For the unemployed, the question is whether they will have a home at all this Christmas. And yet, the debate goes on about continuing the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans while those same "leaders" are refusing to agree to continue unemployment payments to those who have virtually nothing

I find myself offended and embarrassed by the rhetoric being espoused by the Republicans in Congress today. They are insisting that we continue billions of dollars of tax-breaks to the wealthiest of Americans at the same time expressing deep concern about the growing deficit, which such tax breaks helped create. Of course, the record is clear that these continued breaks for the wealthy do NOT significantly stimulate the economy. In fact, it is just the opposite. By providing money for those unemployed we are assured that they will put money back into the economy for food, for rent and necessities. They are in no position to SAVE; they will spend it for basic living expenses. The rich, with so much, put that money in the bank and do not spend it. So, there is not even any fiscal logic to their protestations, yet that doesn't (ever) stop them from making these false claims.

How did we become a nation like this? Or is it, perhaps, just the Republican leadership that is so heartless, so morally bankrupt that they are willing to sacrifice down-on-their-luck Americans, millions of them, in exchange for continued wealth and opulence for a small number of already well-fed and well-heeled supporters.

This is a moral outrage so where is the moral outrage from the Democrats? The President, supposedly the moral leader of this country, is apparently willing to make a deal, a Faustian deal at that, with the heartless politicians who are newly emboldened by their "victory" in November.

And not to be at all blinded by the irony, this is Holiday Season---when we Americans claim to be of good cheer, wishing Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all. Have we, as a nation, become so anesthetized, so paralyzed, so cold-hearted that we are unable or unwilling to DEMAND of our so-called "leaders" that they do the right thing, for once?

If our leaders need to know we have their backs on this issue, then let's tell them.
Let them know we are a moral, good and decent people and expect them to reflect our values. It's Christmas-time, dammit. Do something to show you care. Tell them to care, too.


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There are a number things the public "knows" as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush's last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama's first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.


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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am also a Fellow with CAF.

Are the Main Street Tea Party members getting "played" by Wall Street and big-corporate billionaires? There is a big, big, big difference between what the regular members and the big-money funders expect. If Tea Party candidates get elected will they do what their supporters want, or what their Wall Street and big-corporation funders demand?

What Tea Party Members Want

I just finished a week driving around Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia attending and writing about the "Keep It Made In America" Town Hall meetings. At these meetings and on the road I had occasion to talk to self-identified members of "Tea Party" groups. My conversations tell me,and polling confirms, that the regular day-to-day Tea Party supporters want government to stop job outsourcing and help American manufacturers. And even more than that they really don't like trade agreements like NAFTA. In fact some go so far as to say that NAFTA and the WTO violate our country's sovereignty. And even more than that they hate Bush's bailout of Wall Street (but have been told Obama did it).

What Tea Party Funders Want

At the same time I saw and heard ad after ad after ad after ad that backed Tea Party-type candidates, that were paid for by the Chamber of Commerce and other front groups for Wall Street and the big multinational monopolist corporations that live off of "free trade" and have been closing factories and outsourcing jobs. And the Tea Party was originally set up by and is largely funded and maintained by front groups for this same crowd.

Here is just one example of how much the Tea Party is funded by these front groups: In Oregon one Wall Street hedge fund manager is spending up to $1 million (pocket change) on a front group to elect a Tea Party candidate and unseat a Congressman who didn't do his bidding and sponsored a couple of Wall Street reform bills. Do you think the Main Street Tea Party members in Oregon expect their Tea Party candidate to support or oppose measures that further enrich Wall Street hedge fund managers? I'll give you three guesses and the answers are Main Street, Main Street and Not Wall Street. Do you think the Tea Party candidate will dare? I'll give you one guess.

Will Tea Party Members Or Funders Win Out?

So the regular Tea Party people hate NAFTA and "free trade" agreement, Wall Street bailouts, want a stop to job outsourcing and want help for American manufacturing -- but the people behind them and funding their ads do not. What will happen if these candidates get into office? Will they stick with their Tea Party supporters from Main Street, or will the be beholden to the big-money behind their campaigns? As Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

This is a very, very serious problem. The "crowd" instincts of regular people are usually pretty good and even in the Tea Parties they understand the damage that "free trade," Wall Street, big-corporate interests and the rest of the "free enterprise" crowd have done to the country. But the big money is steering them away from the solutions that their collective gut tells them are right.

Serious Consequences

The financial crisis that Obama inherited has not really gone away. The unsustainable trade deficit that has been growing since Reagan is draining our economy. The huge budget deficit that Bush left behind -- caused by tax cuts and military spending increases -- has not gone away. Global warming has certainly not gone away. All of these problems are still there. We may be headed into a trade war, we need to rebalance the global economy, the rest of the world is jumping on the Green Insustrial Revolution and we are not -- but we can't even begin to have a reasonable conversation about it because the entrenched wealthy interests are able to purchase the megaphone, microphone and amplification system that let's people hear the arguments.

I say yes, the Main Street supporters of the Tea Party are getting played. What I want to know is, what will they do if the Tea Party candidates get elected, and then support "free trade' and Wall Street and all of that? Will go even further to the right, or will they start to figure it out?


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You may be hearing story after story about the flood of corporate money showing up in elections this year.  I recently posted a preliminary look at where the corporate money is going supporting or opposing to our upcoming ballot initiatives.  That was preliminary, before the real flood of last-minute corporate cash showed up. I'll be updating those numbers.


The Sacramento Bee's Capital Alert blog had a post Monday, FPPC: Big money flowing to ballot measure campaigns 

Committees for and against the ballot measures have raised more than $84.25 million in contributions of $100,000 or more since the beginning of the year, according to an analysis released today by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

The most active big-money fundraisers were the campaigns surrounding Proposition 24, which would repeal corporate tax benefits approved by the Legislature, and Proposition 23, which would suspend the state's greenhouse gas reduction law until the unemployment rate drops.

That is a lot of money.  It buys a lot of ads that say a lot of things.  Those things they say are very, very well-crafted by the highest-paid professionals that money can buy, designed to sway people to vote the way the big-money wants them to vote.  The question voters need to ask themselves is, "What do they expect for their money?"

Seriously, does anyone believe that these giant corporations are putting millions and millions (and millions and millions and millions) of dollars into these campaigns because they are in any way interested in helping voters come to conclusions that benefit the public?  But the well-funded campaigns are very good at keeping people from wondering about these questions.  Instead they try to distract us, divert us, throw smoke in our eyes, make us afraid, mane us angry, make us hate someone, make us think the world is about to end ... And the result is that the public is distracted, diverted, blinded, afraid, hateful and thinks the world is about to end.

Follow the money, don't be distracted, and ask yourself, "What do they expect for their money?"


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I always enjoy observing and participating in discussions with my friend and former colleague, the wonderful Sheila Kuehl. She is brilliant, observant, funny, wise and has outstanding politics. She has written an excellent piece that appeared in Monday's LA Times and points the finger of blame for the state's current mess directly and unequivocally at Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. While I don't disagree with her analysis that he has been a disaster for the state, the key factor that distinguishes the current situation from those of chief executives in the past, aside from Schwarzenegger's incompetence is the extreme partisanship and rancor that have taken hold in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C. We're seeing the right-wing extremists emerging into the debate at all levels with all their absurdities, dishonesty and plain ignorance, starting with Sarah Palin's entry into the national political arena with her inexplicable nomination as the Republican Party's Vice-Presidential nominee.

While Sheila's examples are accurate and legitimate, this is a starkly different Sacramento than that of the past. The level of acrimony, irrationality and intractability this bitter, fear-mongering anti-government movement has generated simply cannot be overstated. Sheila contends that other governors have been able to deal with the problems of governing in spite of the structural deficiencies in our system of governance--- like the minority rule provisions of budget and taxation which require a 2/3 super-majority; the creation of artificial and truncated legislative terms; the initiative process that allows anyone from anywhere to put a measure on the California ballot as long as they have the money; the infusion of enormous amount of corporate money---. the combination of all these factors has created the toxic stew that has slammed the doors on governing. But the spirit of compromise is now virtually non-existent.

Sheila is right-on that this Governor thought he could use his movie-star persona and public-relations ploys to "reform" the state. What he didn't understand, and still doesn't, is that politics is a unique process which requires respect, give-and-take and understanding of the goals and purposes for which it was created. While reform is a good thing when done right, "blowing up the boxes" when you have no idea which ones to blow up and how to replace them with something that functions in the best interests of the people is another thing.

That being said, the "tea-bagger" mentality has overtaken the Republican Party, and it started when Senator Kuehl and I served together in the Legislature. A seminal moment occurred in 2002 when then Senate Minority Leader Jim Brulte announced to the Republican Caucus that any member who voted for the budget would be challenged in his next primary and "taken out" in the next election. While this intimidated most of the Republican members, the fact is that the few, brave and reasonable legislators who understood the importance of passing the budget and acknowledged that many compromises had been made to their ideology were all defeated in their primaries or literally harassed not to run for re-election. In my opinion, this was the beginning of the end of constructive politics as we know it in California. The message to the Republicans was clear and simple: You compromise, you're out.

As long as we require this ridiculous super-majority to pass a budget in the legislature, thus allowing the minority to overrule the majority will of the people, the tactics of the right-wing will prevail. For proof, just look at the havoc created in Washington by the Senate Republicans who are employing the 60- vote filibuster rules to destroy efforts made by the majority to implement change in our country that the overwhelming number of Americans supported in 2008.

Schwarzenegger has been a disaster, and a Governor Whitman will clearly be the same. She has got no experience with government, hasn't even bothered to vote for over twenty years and thinks the world will capitulate to her because of her money and her bullying tactics. She's wrong, but until we fix the mess in Sacramento, it won't really matter much.


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"But" Watch

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"But" Watch is when you see Republican junior propagandists write letters to the editor, call radio stations, etc. and begin them with, "I'm a Democrat, but..."

Today we have this comment to the post: Senator Reid: Why Should We Help You Win Re-election? | California Progress Report,

I'm a Democrat, but I appreciate that we have an opponent party. It's too bad that both parties cannot work more harmoniously together. Bi-partisan is a funny word the way it's usually interpreted...when one party is in the majority, it says that bi-partisanship is for the other to roll over dead.   

If it were not for the Republicans, we would be in a worse financial mess than we are with "pork" gong hog wild.Of course, they did not to a very good job of balancing the budget when they were in power under Bush.

More and more "pork" comes to the surface everyday. E.g., BART wants billions to build a not-needed train to the Oakland airport. Or, Fremont wants $385,000 federal dollars to study how to use the about-to-be empty NUMMI plant. If the city fathers and city staff are not capable of doing that, then they should be voted out of office or fired.

It's interesting the liberal media don't use the word "pork" anymore; they use the cleaner word: "earmarks;" or , more recently "stimulus." In any case, it's all "pork."

This is from a "Democrat"? Seriously, how many Democrats talk about "the liberal media?"  

And considering that Republican deregulation caused the financial crisis this line is astonishing: "If it were not for the Republicans, we would be in a worse financial mess than we are."

Nice try.  Didn't work.


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This appeared first at Open Left, but I wonder if it applies to California as well? Is it already too late for California?  Have the conservatives done so much damage that the state is just bankrupt and ungovernable?

When you sell the farm, the farm's gone.

Is it already too late for America?  I'm starting to think that the anti-tax, anti-government conservative movement that started in the mid-70s, elected Reagan and led to the terrible Bush Presidency may have effectively destroyed the country, leaving it bankrupt, corrupt,ungovernable, ruled by a wealthy elite -- and we're only now just starting to realize it.   To cover tax cuts we stopped maintaining the infrastructure and started borrowing.  To satisfy their  hatred of government we increasingly stripped away rule of law, regulation, and belief in one-person-one-vote.  We are seeing the consequences of all of that coming back to roost now.

Reagan left us with massive debt and ever-increasing interest payments. Bush left us with $1.3 trillion deficits and a destroyed economy that would force further increases in the borrowing for years - to be blamed on Obama.  The "free marketers" gave away our manufacturing base that will take decades and massive capital investment to recover.  Obama can try, but it may just be too late to do anything about the borrowing.  We need massive investment in jobs and infrastructure, and a national economic/industrial plan.  But, with their own Reagan/Bush debt as ammunition, conservative ideologues continue to block every effort at investment to get out of the mess we are in.

The conservatives destroyed the regulatory structure of the government.  They removed the inspectors, administrators, regulators and replaced them with corrupt cronies.

The conservatives killed off, contracted out or sold off - "privatized" - so much of our in-common resources and heritage of public structures.  Water systems, oil and mineral leases, government functions, elements of the military, etc.

The conservatives destroyed the rule of law, leaving behind public perception of rule by cronyism, favoritism and mob.

The conservatives destroyed public understanding of democracy, leaving behind a one-dollar-one-vote system that their Supreme Court just formalized, along with a corporate media that works to keep people uninformed.  And to make matters worse, now the telecoms can argue before Federalist Society judges that their "speech rights" are violated by rules making them carry labor and progressive websites over the internet lines they control.  And forget about the idea of them ever letting anti-corporate-rule candidates raise money on "their" internet.

I hate to reference Friedman but this from last week has been sticking in my mind.  He says the world is looking at the mess in the US and is turning away from democracy as a result.

[Foreigners] look at America and see a president elected by a solid majority, coming into office riding a wave of optimism, controlling both the House and the Senate. Yet, a year later, he can't win passage of his top legislative priority: health care.

"Our two-party political system is broken just when everything needs major repair, not minor repair," said ... who is attending the forum. "I am talking about health care, infrastructure, education, energy. We are the ones who need a Marshall Plan now."

Indeed, speaking of phrases I've never heard here before, another goes like this: "Is the 'Beijing Consensus' replacing the 'Washington Consensus?' " Washington Consensus is a term coined after the cold war for the free-market, pro-trade and globalization policies promoted by America. ... developing countries everywhere are looking "for a recipe for faster growth and greater stability than that offered by the now tattered 'Washington Consensus' of open markets, floating currencies and free elections." And as they do, "there is growing talk about a 'Beijing Consensus.' "

The Beijing Consensus, ... is a "Confucian-Communist-Capitalist" hybrid under the umbrella of a one-party state, with a lot of government guidance, strictly controlled capital markets and an authoritarian decision-making process that is capable of making tough choices and long-term investments, without having to heed daily public polls.


It is too late to recover?  

Accountability is a first step.  If the current administration would hold the corrupt actors accountable, maybe we could begin to restore governance.  And the public would know who to blame for what has happened to us, enabling them to support policies that will get us out of this.  But so far they won't.  If they won't even investigate torture and illegally invading a country why should we expect any accountability for the financial collapse, corrupt government contracts, bribery, embezzlement, corruption and other crimes of the Bush era?

More equitable distribution of the fruits of our economy is another step.  Our system worked so much better back when the top tax rate was 90%.  The returns from our investment in infrastructure were more widely shared.  And back when it took many years to build a fortune businesses had an interdependence with their communities.  Executives needed the schools and roads and other public structures functioning well. They needed long-range business and community planning.  But just imagine trying to do something about the concentration of wealth today.

So where do we go from here.  Is democracy over?  Is rule of law a thing of the past?  Is predatory monopoly control by the largest corporations the way things are and will be?  Does the world now move to governance by a wealthy elite?

Or is the winter and the rain and the snow just getting to me?

What are your thoughts?


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