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Political art sometimes has a way of catching the zeitgeist. I thought Shepard Fairey's Hope poster did so in 2008. Great art can also be awesome because it references and pays homage to other great works of art, in this case art that was also political--not to mention comical.  And this certainly does that, so I thought some of you fellow politics buffs might find this interesting and amusing.

Photobucket

You can find the facebook page (where I found it) of the artist, Renee Adele, and give "likes," loves, kudos, snaps, and other acclamations to the artist herself here. More on why I think this is awesome after the curlycues.

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This is a policy suggestion--activist to progressive activist (and an open letter to any policy-makers or influencers who may read it).  Many of us no longer trust the president to act in our, the party's, or the public's best interest, as he's already demonstrated a willingness to cut vital social programs, in spite of all the evidence and polling to the contrary. So, from now own, the president shouldn't get any freebies: There should be a price--paid upfront--for our support on this issue.

So, it may be time for us to draw a line with the president--the best way to get anything from him, as the Republicans have so amply demonstrated. I know, I know, there are many issues that need similar treatment, but this one might ought to take some measure of priority due to the current focus on jobs by the administration and his expected 'jobs plan'.  Specifically, this line should be drawn on the payroll tax the president has already proposed extending as part of his (inadequate-but-still-better-than-nothing) jobs plan.

Since the payroll tax is a key part of what the president wants as part of his jobs proposal, it gives those of us who want a bit of leverage an opportunity to do something good for seniors and for the country.  Let's remember that the payroll tax is the funding mechanism for social security, and cutting it (or extending the existing cuts) logically only makes Social Security less funded and more likely to go insolvent even sooner than under current projections--and it thereby only hastens the program-destroying 'crisis' that the Republicans have been salivating over for decades.   Maybe President Obama wants that to be his grand bargain legacy, but I don't want that to be our collective future.   Nor do I want to let Obama get away with doing the Republican's dirty work for them yet again--regardless of whether he's complicit or just a complete incompetent.

And, what's more, to offset his 'tax cut'--at least in part--the president wants (for some unfathomable reason) to talk about changing COLA calculations to effectively cut retiree's benefits by thousands in future years as the cuts compound over time.  Thus, the president's tax cut will be funded by taking it out of the hides of retirees' future benefits, cuts which will be compounded over time such that those who live longest suffer the biggest cuts from what they would get under the current system.

Yet, there is a way to both offset the losses from the president's payroll tax and shore up social security so that the Republican's wet-dream crisis never happens--at least not in our lifetimes, anyway:  Eliminate the cap on the payroll tax so that people who make over ~$100,000 also have to continue contributing to the program.  Done. Problem solved.

I say "eliminate" because the politics of our time has demonstrated that we  should not be shy of demanding something on that order up front and then, perhaps, be willing negotiate it down to raising the cap to a new, more-inclusive and fair level. At a very minimum, progressives should demand that the cap--if retained--should be set at a level that will:

  • Offset the lost revenues from the president's payroll tax.
  • Gets the president to SHUT THE FUCK UP about the need for changing COLA and effectively promising to cut people's benefits. (more on that below)

This is both good for the president and his re-election (whether he realizes it or not), good politics (it is easy to show that we progressives are "defending social security" with our demands, and that is some solid political ground to be standing on), and, most importantly, it is really what's best for the country (putting money in people's pockets now while still preserving the social safety net for ourselves and future generations).

Extended discussion below the fold...

Poll

Good plan?

80%20 votes
20%5 votes

| 25 votes | Vote | Results

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Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:01 PM PDT

Obama's Tone-Deaf Vacation

by My Philosophy

When I was growing up my county elected a sheriff who was a well-liked guy in the community, and being well-liked he even managed to get re-elected a second time.  Maybe he took his job a little more seriously in the first term--or perhaps the grumbles just hadn't gotten loud enough by the time re-election rolled around to overcome what had been some pretty high popularity.  But, sometime during the second term things reached a tipping point and it became common knowledge that we did not have a 24/7 sheriff.  If you called anytime other than 8-5 Mon thru Fri, the sheriff would not respond. Some, refusing to believe it of the heretofore popular guy, blamed his wife, who, it was said, simply wouldn't allow him to do any sheriff-ing after regular business hours.  But, whatever the case, the result was that afterhours and on the weekend (the very times when things usually go wrong if they're going to), we effectively had no county Sheriff.

Now some elected positions are so important that you expect them to be "on duty" 24/7, even if they aren't expected to be "at the office" except during regular business hours. They are still expected to pick up on those 3 a.m. phone calls. The majority of our county decided that the position of Sheriff was, in fact, one of those positions, and booted out the incumbent Sheriff in favor of someone else--who I believe still serves as elected sheriff of my home-county to this day, many years and elections later.

That's the memory I was prompted to recall today when I read this in the Washington Post:

The president’s schedule in the coming days is not likely to comfort his Democratic critics. Although a trip to Michigan on Thursday and a two-day bus tour through the economically battered — and politically important — Midwest will put him in touch with average voters, he will then go on vacation, with a week off in Martha’s Vineyard, a haven for the rich and famous.
Press secretary Jay Carney defended the getaway choice on Wednesday, telling reporters, “I don’t think Americans out there would begrudge that notion that the president would spend some time with his family.”

Actually, Mr. Carney, yes they would.  Because when you are the president of the United States in a time of crisis, a 'vacation' is a luxury that the public cannot afford. The presidency is most assuredly one of those 24/7 positions, when 'time off' should be determined by the circumstances when they warrant it--not the calendar schedule. A real leader would realize this.  It was true when George W. Bush sat on vacation in August before 9/11 while, as we later learned, all our terrorism analysts were seeing red, and it is true now.

And don't give me that "spend time with the family" bullshit.  We Americans set up the presidency preparing for that reality: The public essentially lets the president work from home.  He has an entire house built by the public from which he can live, work, and, yes, spend time with his family--all at the same time.  Are not Sasha and Malia around him every night to kiss and tuck into bed?  Is Michelle not there to massage his beaten-down shoulders when he needs it?  That the president apparently believes any of this is completely tone-deaf and out-of-touch with the economic realities of the people of this country--many of whom get no or little paid vacation or are currently on 'permanent vacation' due to chronic joblessness.

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So, we elected Democrats to fight for progressive values and working people.  Time and again, we've been sold out. And so now we learn that the Democrats are no longer the staunch and unwavering defender's of Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. No, they are PROPOSING to be complicit in cutting into that part of our social contract.  Is there anything left now that Democrats supposedly stand for?

Defender's of women's rights?  Their vaunted Lily Ledbetter law didn't mandate fair pay for women: It only fixed a statute of limitations issue in gender discrimination lawsuits that had been fucked up by a decision from our conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices. And, in the face of anti-abortion zealotry and laws being passed across the country, where have our staunch defenders been? Nowhere to be seen. In fact, the Democratic majority helped light the fire, enacting the biggest federal restrictions on abortion since the Hyde Amendment as part of their precious healthcare law.  Did they consider new legislation after abortion providers started getting gunned down in church?  Did they even start treating the anti-abortion extremists like the potential terrorists they demonstrably are?  

No longer the party of universal healthcare, they are now the party of half-measures and individual mandates as their signature achievement--not even a public option for us idealistic sods.  In an age of deficit hysteria, they couldn't even manage to pass a law that would have done the most for our deficit by reigning in healthcare costs.  But the Affordable Care Act does very little to actually ensure that care is, you know, affordable.

Most dems treat gay people and our issues like the plague--until its time to treat us like an ATM to fund their campaigns.  We wouldn't have gotten DADT passed if we hadn't shut down the ATM and screamed bloody murder about it during the lame-duck session. 90% of the country thinks that ENDA (employment non-discrimination) is ALREADY the law (or should be), and the Dems couldn't even be bothered to bring it up.

Speaking of employment and labor, what of standing up for union rights and the middle class generally?  Don't make me laugh. No EFCA passage. Not even a fight on it. No Obama on the picket lines when labor has been under assault in states across the country.  We have unions threatening not to support Democrats anymore if they don't support labor.  And, there's unfortunately good reason for that.

Immigrants, who also needed a defender, are being deported at rates that even Pat Buchanan should be proud of.  They aren't happy with this party of ours either.

Protecting the environment?  After the oil spill response? I'm not talking about BP's response; I'm talking about the fact that there was NO legislation proposed in response to the biggest environmental catastrophe in this country's history.  And on Climate Change, the Dems pretty much decided it was off limits after the Republicans decided it was all a librul conspiracy, melting ice sheets notwithstanding. Any defense of the EPA, now under constant Republican assault??

We are supposed to be the party of the Voting Rights Act, but where has our party and leaders been in the face of Voter ID laws and other new ballot restrictions across the country?  No, instead of fighting, our party thought it would be a great idea to participate in a witchhunt against ACORN, which registered voters in communities that tend to be Democratic in their voting habits.  Where is our party on  denying the right to vote to prisoners who've served their time, or the ineffective Drug War that has led to us imprisoning a greater percentage of our population than any other civilized country in the world?

And do I really need to list all the betrayals on war and civil liberties?  They all just finished a bipartisan re-authorization of the damnable Patriot Act without even a debate, ferchrissakes.  And, Guantanamo, anybody?

And now, selling out these social programs, along with not fighting on the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, the Democrats have given up any credible claim to fighting for economic fairness and shared prosperity.

So, tell me again:  What is the Democratic Party's raison d'etre--the reason for being--anymore?  Why should anyone be or vote for a Democrat again?  Just so they can maintain power for themselves and keep the oh-so-scary Republicans out?  But, they don't want the power to actually DO anything you want.  They just want to, you know, have it.  Apparently, so they can just cave in to the oh-so-scary Republicans oh-so-scary demands anyway. Good luck with that winner of a campaign message.

Poll

Do you still have any confidence in the Democrats' ability to be a credible and effective political party?

10%6 votes
88%52 votes

| 59 votes | Vote | Results

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Logged in and was suprised not to see a diary here on this yet.  Apparently, even Daily Kos is being uber-obsessive about a certain congressman's junk.  In any event, if you want something else to send tingles down your spine, consider this:

The nuclear fuel in three of the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant has melted through the base of the pressure vessels and is pooling in the outer containment vessels, according to a report by the Japanese government.

The findings of the report, which has been given to the International Atomic Energy Agency, were revealed by the Yomiuri newspaper, which described a "melt-through" as being "far worse than a core meltdown" and "the worst possibility in a nuclear accident."

A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the company is presently revising the road-map for bringing the plant under control, including the time required to achieve cold shutdown of the reactors.

In a best-case scenario, the company says it will be able to achieve that by October, although that may have to be revised in light of the report.

...

The experts have also yet to come up with a plan for decommissioning the ruined plant....

So, October was the BEST case scenario BEFORE we learned this new information. From my gulf-state perspective, it looks like Japan just got their version of an oil spill disaster that just goes on and on and on with no end in sight. More detail at the link, obviously.

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Dear fellow Prudish Americans (including those on Daily Kos),

Mind Your Own F-ing Business!

I don't usually expect to sign onto Daily Kos to find a  diary ranting at the entire male gender about how we choose to run our sex lives, including derogatory comments about how 'ugly' and unattractive our genitalia are. Personally, I think such comments border on whatever they call the male version of misogyny. Seriously. You may not like it, but some of us actually think penises are quite nice. Attractive even.  (Full Disclosure: Being a gay male, penis has been part of my sex life pretty much my whole life, and that no doubt has shaped my own view on where 'dick' generally falls on the 'pretty vs ugly' scale). Sure, some penis is more attractive than others, but then I can say the same thing about noses or hair or other people's faces. However, no one ever seems to complain about including Ugly Uncle Ned in the family photos at Christmas.

Really, though, there is a bigger issue here, and it's about privacy and the minimum level that we should afford to our fellow americans and even public figures (like congressmen) in the age of the internet.  But more on that in  a minute.  First, I wanna quickly break down some shit for the prudish and puritanical of you out there.

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(Update below the fold) Now that the 2010 election season has ended, we have seamlessly merged into the beginning of the 2012 primary elections. As such, I believe it time for us to squarely face the leadership choice that we here face in this new political season. This diary is about whether or not Obama deserves a primary challenge in the first place and why, not WHO should challenge Obama (Full disclosure: I support a theoretical Howard Dean challenge). In this diarist's opinion, he absolutely does deserve a primary opponent, for the reasons outlined below the fold.

If this were a parliamentary system, President Obama would be a Prime Minister facing a "No Confidence Vote" by his party at this point. Since this is NOT a parliamentary system, the only means for a political party base to enforce some accountability on its presidential leadership is via the primary process.  Thus, Democrats should not be shy of supporting a primary challenge against an incumbent president when s/he has earned it.

And Obama has earned it--in spades--for his political failures and willful (and ongoing) political blindness/naivete. My 9 reasons for supporting a primary challenge to Obama are below the fold:

Poll

Does Obama deserve a primary opponent?

62%213 votes
37%127 votes

| 340 votes | Vote | Results

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Maybe you thought yesterday's decision was just about undoing Prop. 8, the California initiative limiting marriage to one man and one woman.  Maybe you've read some of the analysis about it, or saw Rachel Maddow encouraging you to read the decision.  I would join that sentiment (TPM has it posted here, along with their analysis), but add that, having read it myself, the potential scope of this decision is simply breathtaking.  In essence, if this decision is allowed to stand as precedent, EVERY gay marriage ban in the country is now on shaky legal ground and will be subject to constitutional challenge.  

You know those 31 states where the rightwingers used prejudiced electorates and legislatures to bar gay marriage by statute or by constitutional amendment?  Well, now, every one of those initiatives are, as a matter of federal constitutional law as of this very moment, impermissible denials of gay men and women's fundamental right to marry the PERSON of their own choosing.

Follow me over the fold for the juicy quotations that strike at the heart of gay marriage bans across the nation:

Poll

Will wingnut heads explode once they realize how far the reasoning of this decision truly extends?

96%62 votes
3%2 votes

| 64 votes | Vote | Results

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Something I was shocked by tonight (that hasn't really been commented on thus far) was Obama's insistence that BP pay for an independent entity to handle the claims process.  Yet, is it only me that finds a problem with BP paying the salaries of a nominally independent entity that will be making decisions that impact BP's finances?  Can anyone really believe that such a process to be legitimate or fair to Gulf residents seeking quick and efficient recompense for their losses?

No, what we need is some kind of agency that operates in the public's interest... some kind of "agency" that can handle "claims" and make "judgments"... Sounds amazingly like a government judicial function, no?  Yet, Obama's apparent impetus is to outsource this function to a private entity that will in essence be on BP's payroll.  Yet, there is a better, fairer way.

Poll

Should Congress set up an ad hoc agency to handle Gulf claims against BP?

40%4 votes
60%6 votes

| 10 votes | Vote | Results

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Posted without need for further comment, as the headline says it all (but some action items included below the fold):

School Cuts Gay Student Photo From Yearbook

by Adam Lynch
April 26, 2010

When Veronica Rodriguez opened Wesson Attendance Center's Yearbook on Friday, she didn't find a trace of her lesbian daughter Ceara Sturgis after a long battle with school officials to include a photo of her daughter wearing a tuxedo in the school's 2010 yearbook.

"They didn't even put her name in it," Sturgis' mother Veronica Rodriguez said. "I was so furious when she told me about it. Ceara started crying and I told her to suck it up. Is that not pathetic for them to do that? Yet again, they have crapped on her and made her feel alienated."

Sturgis and her mother commissioned the Mississippi ACLU to protest officials' October 2009 decision not to allow Sturgis' photo to appear in the senior yearbook because she chose to wear a tuxedo instead of a dress.

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If Obama really wants to be serious (and do more than talking about) responding to today's SCOTUS decision, he will propose a plan to expand the number of seats on the Supreme Court.  No, the ones already there won't like it, but that's one way to give Obama at least two immediate appointments to that body. That would be an expansion to 11.  But, one could easily go as high as 15. I say start at 17, and negotiate down to 13, but that decision would really be up to Congress.

We can't remove the ones who are there, but we can do something that needs doing anyway: expanding the supreme court to better reflect the breadth and diversity of our society. It also means that no single president will be able to completely shift the Court to the fringes, even if they serve two terms and get several appointments.  I think that's a prudent idea, given the current Court and the ideological disaster that was the previous administration.

Poll

Should the number of USSC seats be expanded?

44%55 votes
16%20 votes
10%13 votes
6%8 votes
4%5 votes
6%8 votes
11%14 votes

| 123 votes | Vote | Results

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Word is that the Whitehouse is preparing to ask the progressives, in the base and in Congress, to be "good soldiers" on healthcare reform.  Thus, once again, we are expected to swallow any old piece of shit bill that comes out of negotiations with the Republicans in the Senate, so that the Whitehouse and the Dems in congress can chalk up a "win" on their scoreboard.

Well, unfortunately, I know that the Democratic Party has years of "dry powder" that it has been sitting on for what was supposed to be just this moment.  For YEARS, we SOLDIERS have been told that we must keep our powder dry so that we can get healthcare reform.  

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