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In a recently too-rare win for Senate Democrats, the Senate has just passed the small business lending bill.   Story here.

This is the bill that has been widely discussed, and should have passed six months ago, that creates a $30 billion fund for community banks to lend to small businesses.

More details below.

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Thu Aug 26, 2010 at 08:33 AM PDT

My letter to Obama re Alan Simpson

by RenMin

I'm not surprised, although outraged, by Alan Simpson's remarks.  Obviously his language was crude, intemperate, and sexist, but even worse is the obvious hostility to Social Security, the most successful social program in history; one that hundreds of millions of American workers are currently relying on, or will rely on in the future, for a retirement with dignity.

I've written President Obama about my concerns.  The text of my letter follows below.  I urge everyone who reads this to send a similar message. Obama needs to hear us -- hands off our Social Security.  We can't allow concerns about structural deficits, caused largely by Bush's risky tax cuts, to serve as an excuse to gut our Social Security benefits.

And if you like what I wrote -- feel free to borrow.  No pride of authorship, I just want Obama to be reminded how his base feels about Social Security.

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President Obama . . .

46%23 votes
4%2 votes
18%9 votes
2%1 votes
2%1 votes
8%4 votes
8%4 votes
10%5 votes

| 49 votes | Vote | Results

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By my title, I mean that we have to provide a way to protect, nurture, and support -- and I mean financial support -- progressive voices.  We have a few superstar bloggers, but I suspect that if lucky, they are making ends meet but not much more.

We are way behind the movement conservatives in this.  They started systematically establishing a support/recruiting network back in the seventies, and now have a very comprehensive network.  Hacks like Michelle Malkin, Bill Kristol, or Jonah Goldberg enjoy regular spots on TV, can always get their books published (no matter how stupid), and never have to worry about where their next paycheck is coming from.  We need to start working for a similar network.

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As Rachel Maddow observed in a must-see segment last night, what happened to Shirley Sherrod is nothing new, it's just the latest in the pattern of right-wing noise machine smears aimed at scaring low-information white voters about the alleged threats from African American appointees.

Indeed, I pointed this out in a post about Van Jones last year.  No great credit for that, it's obvious to anyone who bothers to look.  So why doesn't the Obama administration get it?  And, in the bargain, why doesn't Obama use this as an opportunity from Heaven to weaken Fox news and the right wing in general?  Let me explain what I mean below the jump.

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President Obama and the White House

25%8 votes
74%23 votes

| 31 votes | Vote | Results

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It's obviously the latest orchestrated Republican talking point -- unless we're to believe that these memes spring forth spontaneously, like Athena from the head of Zeus.  In recent days, Boehner, Dick Armey, John Fund, Dana Rohrabacher, talk radio, and the right-wing noise machine in general, are all up in arms, decrying the possibility that the Democrats will defy the will of the people and resort to a lame-duck session to push through their radical socialist agenda.

Obviously the Republicans are doing what they do best -- "working the refs" to intimidate Democrats from using a legitimate legislative tool to pass their (watered down) agenda.

This is particularly outrageous given the reason that such a lame duck session would be necessary.  The Republicans, particularly in the Senate, have used every parliamentary trick to delay and frustrate the Democrats, given an overwhelming majority just 18 months ago, from accomplishing many of the things the American people sent them to do.  

What I fear is that the Republican strategy will work and the Democrats, with their usual spinelessness, will unilaterally concede their power, forebearing to use a tool the Republicans would have no hesitation in using were the tables turned.  Further discussion below.

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The Democrats

76%56 votes
5%4 votes
9%7 votes
8%6 votes

| 73 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon Feb 22, 2010 at 10:42 AM PST

Explorers lost in the jungle: A parable

by RenMin

Any resemblance the following story has to our current political environment is purely intentional.

A band of explorers were on a small plane that crashed in the jungle.  One of them, Barry, said, "Look, you can see the beach from here.  It's only a few hundred yards.  If we go there we'll surely be picked up by one of the many ships that sail along the coast."  Georgy said "No -- you're wrong.  That's a mirage.  We need to go this way."  For some reason, all the other explorers agreed with Georgy, so they followed him into the jungle, away from the shore.  

(To read the exciting conclusion, go below the fold . . ."

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I was one of many Kossacks who have been critical of Evan Bayh in general, and of his decision yesterday to bail out of the Indiana Senate race at the 11th hour in particular.  But now, if the report diaried below is true, I must say I agree with his diagnosis of the problem -- though not his decision to pull a Palin and cut and run.

Update:  Several of the comments below point out that the surprising quotes from Bayh are unsourced in my link.  There is speculation that this is really Onion-like satire from Michael Berube; after going back and doing better homework, I have to confess that this is the most likely scenario -- I couldn't find the original quotes anywhere else, and in fact, they do all too perfectly describe Bayh's actions.  So my original pleasnat surprise is converted to embarassment.

Maybe I should just delete this post, but I'm going to leave it up as an object lesson, so others don't make the same kind of mistake I did -- before you post something, verify the sourcing!  Sorry!

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I . . .

21%19 votes
39%34 votes
31%27 votes
8%7 votes

| 87 votes | Vote | Results

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Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 10:13 AM PST

Lessons Learned? HCR Villains

by RenMin

It may be a bit premature, but what happened to healthcare reform was so predictable, and so easy to head off, that I can't resist assigning blame in the diary below.  I confess this is a bit of an "I told you so," which I understand is an unappealing trait, but the Democrats have been so feckless and weak on this issue that I hope it serves as a wake-up call.  It's still not too late to learn lessons from this and reverse what looks to be a very serious electoral slide, if there is the political will -- admittedly, a very big if.

At any rate, below is my list of the top three villains/failures on HCR.  I'd be very interested to see what others think.

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The biggest villain in the healthcare debacle

11%6 votes
17%9 votes
49%25 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
11%6 votes
0%0 votes
1%1 votes
0%0 votes
1%1 votes
0%0 votes
1%1 votes
3%2 votes

| 51 votes | Vote | Results

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The Supreme Court's Citizens United case has opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate money overwhelming democratic elections.  Can't get much worse than that, can you?  Well, surprisingly, yes.  In fact, the potential adverse repercussions of this opinion are so bad, that it may . . . just may . . . even be possible to get obstructionist Republicans on board to take action, once they realize its true implications. Follow me below to see what I mean.    

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Fri Nov 06, 2009 at 07:09 PM PST

My Email to Massa

by RenMin

Eric Massa's basically a good guy in a very tough district, but he's making a terrible mistake in deciding to vote against the House bill tomorrow.  My email begging him to reconsider is below the fold.  

Please feel free to use any of this in writing to your representatives or waiverers.  

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The House bill will

12%9 votes
64%46 votes
12%9 votes
9%7 votes

| 71 votes | Vote | Results

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This article, from the Washington Times of all places, was highlighted on the DKos front page:

Emboldened by the ouster of presidential adviser Van Jones, conservative and business groups are launching fresh challenges aimed at derailing President Obama's nominees.

The latest of these targets is David Michaels, Mr. Obama's pick to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), who as an academic published a book attacking corporate executives for the tactics they used to fight class-action lawsuits. Republican critics said they considered Mr. Michaels to be too close to trial lawyers because of his aggressive advocacy on their behalf.

I know nothing about Michaels, though according to the front page story he's highly qualified, but this isn't about him.  It's about the repeated Democratic/progressive mistake of appeasing rightwingers.  Van Jones was the perfect example; he was thrown under the bus, and what did that get us?  It just emboldened them to go after more Obama nominees.  Instead, go below the fold to see what Obama should have done.

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A totally nonpolitical diary, except to the extent that everything is in some sense meta-politics.

I was raised in a (borderline lower) middle-class family in Houston.  Somehow, though, I became interested in old jazz, folk music, and most of all blues at an early age -- 12 years old or so.  The resources available today, the vast number of reissues, internet sites, and scholarly works, certainly weren't available then, but somehow I was exposed to the music (probably first through reading) and quickly grew to love it above all others.

My son gave me a book for Father's Day:  Delta Blues by Ted Gioia.  It's not perfect, but it's wonderful; anyone with any interest in this music should read it.  Follow me below the fold and I'll tell you where time machines come in.

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