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In the final push before this critical election it should come as no surprise to anyone that the Right-Wing power machine is trying to whip up the Republican lynch mob with yet another "Muslims...Panic!" rage story.  

This time they are trying to turn a story of a journalist who was fired for making bigoted comments on TV into something about censorship, government, Muslims (lions, tigers, bears, etc.).  

The players are familiar--it's Palin, Gingrich, and the whole FOX News media axis.  By this time tomorrow, there will be so much noise trying to turn this Juan Williams story into something that it is not--something other than what it is actually about--that the non-partisan big newsrooms will start to do  what they do best:  ask the world's dumbest questions in service of Right-Wing propaganda so obvious that it makes sane people laugh.  

When this happens--the most critical two weeks in this election history will start to evaporate into dense fog of shouting and screaming.  

This. Cannot. Happen.

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Want to help send Bart Stupak onto his next career?  

What a dumb question.  If you have a pulse, you want Stupak gone. Why?  Because Bart Stupak has come to symbolize the most disgusting, immoral kind of politics within our own party:  an elected official who actively forces Americans to suffer by blocking the passage of health care reform; an elected official willing to trade in the rights of American citizens; and  an elected official claiming that his personal religiouis views should take precedence over the Constitution and the needs of tends of millions of people; an elected official who's willing to lie about what's actually in a bill to advance his own pro-life activism.  Honestly, there just aren't enough pies in this cruel world to toss at Bart Stupak.

So I'll ask you again:  Do you want to help send Bart Stupak onto his next career--maybe as one of those guys who gets paid very little money to walk out onto half-thawed lakes to remove ice fishing huts?  Alright, then!  Here is your chance: DONATE to Connie Saltonstall who will primary Stupak for U.S. Congress in MI-1!

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I gave this much to help Connie boot Bart:

50%2 votes
25%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
25%1 votes
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| 4 votes | Vote | Results

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I just joined a union, this week, and it made me wonder how many Kossacks are union members.

Are you a member of a union?

Poll

Are you a member of a union?

34%33 votes
42%40 votes
23%22 votes

| 95 votes | Vote | Results

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Political observers surprised by the Democratic Party loss in the Massachusetts Senate election, last night, should take a second look at the trouble Barack Obama had attracting so-called "lunch-bucket" voters in the 2008 presidential primaries.   The problem that once plagued the campaign of candidate Obama has now metastasized to the whole party of President Obama.  It took one year for that to happen and the consequences could be dire for the Democrats.

2008?  Most American voters can barely remember what they tweeted 12 minutes ago, let alone what the dominant election narrative over a year ago.  But remember it they should, because the story of Obama's failures in Presidential primary states like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts was remarkably similar to the story coming out of last nights loss in the Senate race.

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Writing one year after his greatest political success--the passage of the Voting  Rights Act of 1965--Martin Luther King noted that the movement he led faced a choice between "chaos and community" (see: "The Second Phase")

While the political success of electing Barack Obama one year ago is in no way equal to the passage of the VRA, as progressives we once again find ourselves faced with the kind of choice MLK saw and understood so well.

Without being judgmental of either option, I want to pause for a moment to describe and consider what I think are the two main choices progressives, today, face: protest vs. policy.  The key to the success of either lies not in the expression of opinion, but in a renewed commitment to what I call "ingathering"--people finding each other and standing together again in visible, real space.

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Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 04:04 PM PST

The Second Phase

by Jeffrey Feldman

Over the past few weeks I have done quite a bit of reading trying to understand what is happening in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party--in order to offer some perspective.

So far, the most helpful text I have come across is Martin Luther King's Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

I want to encourage everyone to take a minute to consider this text as a reflection not just on the specifics of the dilemma the Civil Rights movement faced in the year following the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but as a more general insight into the problems the progressive movement now faces one year after the election of Barack Obama.

This is a problem MLK called the "Second Phase."

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There should be a rule in politics that runs something like this:  if at any time, political debate starts to sound like Scene 8 from Monty Python's Life of Brian (a.k.a. "The Grumpy People's Front of Judea") then it's time to lift your hands off the keyboard, stand up, and  slowly, but carefully, back away from the desk and towards the nearest bottle of mildly alcoholic beverage.  

If that moment should happen 24 hours before the end of one decade and the start of another--even better.

And with that in mind...I hereby declare "it's quittin' time!" for me and anyone who wants to join me on the question of who is/isn't a progressive, a corporatist, a conservadem, or any combination thereof, based on the conclusion that DailyKos now sounds like Scene 8 (full script here):

BRIAN: Are you the Judean People's Front?

REG: F*** off!

BRIAN: What?

REG: Judean People's Front. We're the People's Front of Judea! Judean People's Front. Cawk.

FRANCIS: Wankers.

Full video and script after the jump...

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Sat Dec 26, 2009 at 09:48 AM PST

"Corporatism"

by Jeffrey Feldman

Without sounding too dramatic, I believe that the survival of the Democratic Party depends largely on whether or not the base agrees or disagrees with the following statement:

Whether you call it "a government takeover of the private sector" or a "private sector takeover of government," it's the same thing:  a merger of government power and corporate interests which benefits both of the merged entities (the party in power and the corporations) at everyone else's expense.  Growing anger over that is rooted far more in an insider/outsider dichotomy over who controls Washington than it is in the standard conservative/liberal ideological splits from the 1990s.

This quote is from a recent post by Glen Greenwald, and it makes the case, in so many words, that concern for "corporatism" has fundamentally changed the political landscape in this country--forever.

Unless we decide if this argument is true or false, the Democratic Party will go down.  Evidence of this unfolding is already clear here on DailyKos.

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There is quite a bit of exasperation going around, right now--understandably.  We are at that point in the political season when politics is starting to look  like a dead-stop traffic jam on 405 South. Somebody honks and the first thing we think is "I'm gonna kill that motherf***r!" instead of how we would normally respond (e.g., ignore it).  

Now we have the leader of our movement (Dean) calling for the current health care bill to be ditched in favor of a new bill in reconciliation--which might be legal, but may not be politically possible in the current environment.  Whatever the case, this latest development will cause even more road rage here and elsewhere.

With that in mind, take a minute to consider this distinction: symbols vs. policy.

It is important because we have a long road ahead of us on health care, the environment, jobs, banking, real estate, education--you name it, we have a long way to go before we get what we want.  And so we would be wise to keep the distinction between symbols and policy in our heads, as part of a larger plan not to lose our heads.

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Like everybody else, around here, I have mixed feelings about President Obama's West Point Speech.  In an effort to try to understand our options, I spent some time reading the evolving recommendations of a progressive I trust--Sen. Russ Feingold.  After reading his views, I still disagree with some of President Obama's decisions, but I also see them in the larger context of a foreign policy strategy for Central Asia that is not far from what I would like to see.

My problem remains very simple: the danger we face is a violent movement that has successfully, and repeatedly waged war on the United States and our allies. To defend against that entity, we must remain engaged in the region through a combined military and non-military strategy.  

My question for my friends who say they are "anti-war" is this:

What do you mean by anti-War?

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If you cannot speak very intelligently about U.S. policy in Afghanistan, you are not alone. Right now the debate on Afghanistan raging in the media is dominated by hawks on the right saying President Obama is "dithering," and anti-war protesters on the left saying President Obama is becoming "just like Bush."  Meanwhile, the broadcast media has decided the Tiger Woods story is the big issue of the day.

To avoid getting bogged down in the quagmire of the debate on Afghanistan, I found it was helpful to turn away from television and blogs to read newspapers and listen to radio.  In particular, I found several Op-Eds by and interviews with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) to be extremely informative.  Feingold sits on the Senate Foreign Services and Intelligence Committees, so he is as briefed as they get on what is really happening in Afghanistan.  Feingold explains the situation in clear language.  Plus, from late 2008 to mid 2009, Feingold's position on the use of force in Afghanistan changed.  Taking a few minutes to read what Feingold has to say is a great way to get up to speed.  By the end of this article, you should have no trouble answering the question, "More Troops to Afghanistan, yes or no?"

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If you are interested in politics, or even if you are not, I predict there is a 100% likelihood that the subject of Sarah Palin will come up at your house tomorrow--on Thanksgiving.  

Everyone who says Sarah Palin is "dumb" should think long and hard about the fact that this person has managed to make herself not just the number one political story, but the single largest news story in the media cycle heading into the biggest family gathering holiday of the calendar year. Incredible.

Given the inevitability that Palin will come up in conversation, consider this Thanksgiving as an opportunity to set a basic story about her--both in the minds of the people you care about (e.g., those folks around the turkey with you) and, most importantly, in your own mind.

While this basic story about Palin has  many elements to it, there are three words in particular that everyone should repeat --and repeat often enough so that they stick (in addition to "pass the gravy").

These word are:

chaos and confusion

Poll

Dark meat or white?

48%50 votes
34%36 votes
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| 103 votes | Vote | Results

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