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Wed Oct 20, 2010 at 08:52 AM PDT

Piling On

by Petey2

Hope I'm wrong. But when I see progressives clinging to threads of hope (e.g. "Democratic early voting higher than expected") it reminds me of the empty confidence exhibited by Fox News and Red State (etc) prior to November 2008.

This country is driven by emotions, not facts. And the emotions currently do not favor us.

Of course the main culprit is the Bush economy, but I also blame the widespread abandonment of Obama by his base. Because, wallowing in our righteous indignation, we have utterly failed to do our job.

Why am I inviting flames now of all times?

Because the impact of the nihilistic narrative that we've helped create is dire. It affects real people who are suffering. And it won't get better until the narrative changes. I have little doubt that, sooner or later, big majorities will appreciate who Obama is and what he's done. But if that day doesn't arrive for five or six more years, we will have sacrificed great opportunities for progressive change. And that would be a travesty.

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Jonathan Capehart today makes a succinct and rational case for why Obama's approach to Don't Ask Don't Tell is correct.

But we Americans are an emotional bunch.

The online comments following Capehart's Post column totally ignore his logic (some concentrate on spinning a disgusting conspiracy theory that Black progressives are all too eager to thwart gay rights).

Because we Americans prefer emotionalism to logic.

Capehart calmly, systematically, makes the same case that's been around all along -- that today's DADT law is completely different from Truman's integration situation, etc, etc (you can read it yourself). But it's a case no one seems to want to hear.

Because we Americans would rather be angry than listen to reason.

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The premiere of Lawrence O'Donnell's MSNBC show last night provided a great glimpse into the Alice-in-Wonderland-like feedback loop between the progressive pundit class and the progressive base.

Keith Olbermann -- arguably the dean of the "professional left" -- joined O'Donnell in what amounted to a meta conversation about the power struggle for the hearts and minds of base voters.

Of course Olbermann has never shied away from discussing the nuances of political strategy, but when paired with O'Donnell -- someone who has seen the inner machinations of practical politics inside and up close -- Olbermann seemed compelled to reveal his cards in a more transparent manner than ever. In doing so he shows us a dark side of the professional left.

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Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 01:51 PM PDT

MSNBC feeds ignorance of Park51

by Petey2

I just saw an MSNBC reporter summarizing Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's latest "PR offensive." After portraying the Imam as evasive and vague, the reporter wrapped up by citing polls showing an overwhelming majority of Americans think the Imam has the right to build the center, "but just like the pastor in Florida who wanted to burn the Koran, Americans don't think it's a good idea to exercise that right."

Anchor Tamron Hall just smiled, failing to challenge the reporter's outrageously offensive analogy.

After seeing the beautiful spirit of the Imam in action this past week, I find myself descending into a spiral of depression as I become increasingly aware of the hateful ignorance taking over my country. It's the McCarthy era all over again, with Islam substituting for communism.

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Okay, calling myself an ex-mainstream-media insider might be a bit of an exaggeration. I'm sure you haven't heard of me. But, the fact is: I regularly interviewed US senators, presidential candidates, policy makers, and cultural leaders for both local and national broadcasts. I hosted and produced talk shows, anchored news programs, and also worked as a straight journalist. The height of my then-career was a one-on-one interview with the president that led to international, front-page, above-the-fold news stories.

I was also a mediocre (at best) journalist. Not that I wasn't attempting to do a good job. But now -- some years older and wiser -- I can see that my biggest priority was to keep up with the headlines and conventional wisdom just enough to be able to present to my audience a "balanced" two-sided story with appropriate levels of conflict, entertainment, and apparent sophistication.

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Like it or not, the US Constitution demands that our president play multiple roles.

Most of the internecine arguments I see around here on Daily Kos focus strictly on the role of Chief Executive: president as policy maker.

But there are important arguments -- both philosophical and pragmatic -- for treating other presidential duties just as seriously as the executive duties.

Our Head of State is our country's "face" as seen by the outside world, and our National Leader is, ideally, the chief representative of all of us.

As much as we progressives would like to pretend otherwise, Barack Obama is the leader, not just of the middle class and oppressed, but also of those who believe in trickle-down economics, jingoistic foreign policy, and "traditional" values.

This does not mean he should blindly acquiesce to their perspectives. But, as national leader, it is his job to listen authentically to their concerns, to be genuinely open to their perspectives, and, yes, sometimes to compromise.

Progressives, if anyone, ought to recognize the destructive effects of a president who is too arrogant and patronizing to listen to opposing ideas.

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Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 01:44 PM PDT

Dr Phil's Call To Action

by Petey2

In the face of increasingly prevalent and disturbing teen bullying, Dr Phil McGraw is urging Americans to place the problem on our collective front burner.

E.g., here's one of his latest PSA's:

"Our kids are counting on us," implores Dr Phil on his blog, warning that bullying leads to hate, violence, and even death. "Bullies are nothing more than cowards. We have to answer the call to action. Let’s continue to sound the alarm that bullying is not OK."

He asks young people to sign a pledge that they will "report honestly and immediately all incidents of bullying."

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My apologies for false advertising!!

Actually, this is a meta diary addressing one of the most troubling, chronic, and seemingly irreconcilable divisions within our humble little community.

The split was on full display as recently as Tuesday, with PBS's Frontline as that day's catalyst. (The division was well exemplified in more than one diary -- including within the spirited comment thread of my diary published immediately after the show aired).

My only intent today is to address what seems to be the most fundamental, relevant question coming from my adversaries in this standoff.

It's a fair question, and it's voiced often.

I'll quote directly from one of Tuesday night's participants:

"How can we keep pushing for a progressive agenda if we can't point out where Congress and the president fall short?"

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Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 06:54 PM PDT

Frontline Settles Everything

by Petey2

So, as predicted, tonight's edition of PBS’s Frontline revealed the depth of Obama’s compromising (compromised?) nature, as viewed through the lens of the health care reform battle.

The president’s fiercest critics on the left implored us to watch the show, because, they promised, it would prove they’ve been correct all along to oppose his reform efforts.

Apparently these critics don’t like the recent trend among Dems to portray the imperfect legislation in a positive light. Better to join forces with Fox News et al in spreading the impression that the bill does little more than force hard-working Americans to donate billions of dollars to the insurance industry.

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The cyclical death of the public option has been Kafkaesque. Every time it looks like it's back on its feet, some oblique sinister force from the shadows snuffs it out again.

The latest round has been among the weirdest: the polls have never been clearer, the route toward its insertion into reform never simpler -- through reconciliation an expansion of Medicare could easily be added -- yet we're seeing most of our progressive representatives doing nothing but mumbling, pointing fingers, and trying to change the subject. No one is explaining the unseen force so powerfully continuing to kill the public option.

According to New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick (as seen on Monday's The Ed Show), the devil was a deal struck last summer between President Obama and the for-profit hospital industry. This has been followed closely by Miles Mogulescu over at the Huffinton Post.

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This is actually an open letter to Al Franken, who I'm afraid has been ingesting too much kool-aid.

Compare Franken's insistence that we shouldn't let "perfect reform be the enemy of a good bill" with folk hero Michael Moore's preferred governing style in which Obama would eviscerate obstructionist senators and have them do push-ups when they don't fall in line. As Moore puts it in his open letter to Obama, "It'll be fun -- and we may just get something done. Whaddaya got to lose?"

My question to Franken: What happened to YOUR sense of fun? You used to adore a good fight filled with scathing humor, scandal, and threatened lawsuits! Now you're sounding like some sort of history professor soberly reminding us of how FDR actually succeeded in making this country more progressive.

Snooze.

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Glenn Beck’s tour de force of a CPAC speech has gotten attention for accusing Republicans, as well as Democrats, of not fessing up to the "disease" of progressivism.

But I want to know where are the stunned dropped jaws over his insistence that allowing the weak to die is the path to reclaim America’s greatness?

Beck’s just a wingnut, you might say. Pay no attention.

No. This guy is mainstream now. He represents current conservative ideology. He’s deadly serious. And he’s getting through.

If we let these sentiments slide without comment, we are complicit in the coming Randian revolution.

Beck’s lack of sophistication helps us clearly see what savvier conservatives are more careful to hide: many among us with power, money, and resources are single-mindedly spreading the meme that power disparities are precisely what makes America great.

This is not an exaggeration. Look at the following passage from Beck’s speech (found at about 34:30 into the C-Span video:

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