Making the Perfect the Enemy of the Best We Can Get in Presidential Politics 2012

I would love Green Party candidate Jill Stein to be President since I agree with almost all her proposed policies and programs. I would also like myself to be President because I like all my proposed policies and programs. Here’s the problem. Jill Stein and I have an equal chance of being elected President. That chance, of course, would be zero.

So why would anyone engage in the futile act of voting for Jill Stein, or no less usefully, writing in their own name for President? Five reasons are usually offered.

First, of course, is the well-worn cliché that there is no difference between Romney and Obama; therefore there’s no reason to vote for either one of them. That is just patently false. Here are just a few obvious differences:

• Obama would keep Obamacare, and Romney would repeal it. Romney’s win would mean that tens of millions of low wage workers who would otherwise have health insurance would not get it. Their only health care provider would be the emergency room. Many of them would die of diseases diagnosed too late for them to get the medical care that would save them.

• Romney would voucherize Medicare, making it unaffordable for millions of seniors. He would also do everything in his power to privatize, i.e., destroy, social security;

• Romney would raise taxes on working people, cut them for the rich;

• Romney would appoint judges intent on repealing Roe v. Wade, and eliminating affirmative action;

• Romney would attack the ability of unions to exist;

• Romney budgets, if they follow the lead of his running mate and other House Republican leaders, would decimate food stamps, education funding, and federal aid to cities of all sorts;

• Romney would make the EPA into something as fierce as a big slice of pumpkin pie.

Obama Jobs Plan a Step Toward Boosting Economy

A blog post from Mark Price, originally published on Third and State.

President Obama delivered a much anticipated address on jobs and the economy before a joint session of Congress Thursday evening. I put out the following media statement in response:

There is no question that we need a jobs policy to meet the vast challenges our economy faces today. The President has put forth some good ideas, including an extension of unemployment benefits that will help families in rural and urban communities where jobless rates are particularly high. This plan should be the start of a broader discussion about how we can invest in people and local communities across the nation to repair our broken economy. Doing nothing is not an option.

If you're looking for some more analysis on the President's plan, check out these:

The team at the Economic Policy Institute has a quartet of blog posts, including Heidi Shierholz's look at the jobs gap, John Irons' analysis of the jobs impact of the President's plan, Ross Eisenbrey's take that the plan is mostly on the mark, and Lawrence Mishel's analysis of how effective the plan is.

State of What Union?

I was with a group of Obama volunteers and Neighborhood Network members Tuesday night gathered to hear the State of the Union. My first impressions were positive. Obama recognized the country needs investments in infrastructure to move forward. He pledged clearly that gays would be openly serving in the military this year. He refused to commit to any cutbacks in social security. He called for eliminating stupid subsidies to the oil industry and for cutting back other corporate tax breaks. And he renewed his call for ratcheting up the taxes of the rich and super-rich.

If you want to help the working poor, then for God's sake gouge the rich

If you haven't seen it, have a look at this quote from President Obama's press conference on the deal he cut with the Republicans.

So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for for a hundred years, but because there was a provision in there that they didn't get that would have affected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise.

Now, if that's the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let's face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of preexisting conditions or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out.

It's a nice piece of rhetoric (Talking Points Memo has the transcript of the whole press conference), but it nails down precisely my problem with the President's approach. My problem with Health Care Reform aligns with my problem with the auto industry bailout, financial reform and the latest tax deal. In every instance, the President has hidden behind some vulnerable community in order to excuse himself from sticking it to the rich and the very rich, as he should.

Let's bust some trusts. We live in a world where the rich are so rich that their richness is fat and lazy and self-perpertuating it has left us with an ever more boring, decadent, uninventive world, a world where the captains of industry work harder to keep things easy than create new markets by coming up with new products or services that folks could really use. That's where we are as a people. Drug companies spend more money on advertising than research. Banks screw their depositors six ways from Sunday and call it "financial innovation" and the Scions of Microsoft sit in Seattle and look only for good ideas to steal rather than coming up with good ideas of their own. We live in a world where rich people only get richer at the expense of other people, and you can sure as hell bet that those other people aren't other rich people.

OK, that's going to be my only purely rhetorical paragraph: let's get to the point. Obama isn't willing to play the serious brinksmanship it's going to take for the very rich to finally lose a fight. The screed goes on. Hit the link below and hang with me past the break.

"Beyond Obama" - A Day in Solidarity With African People November 6th

Group Challenges Racial Divide in U.S.

What: Conference
When: Saturday, November 6, 1:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Where: First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA
Contact: Harris Daniels, 857-233-7508

On Saturday, November 6, the African People’s Solidarity Committee will hold a public event entitled, “Beyond Obama: Seeking real solutions to the growing racial divide in the US.” The conference will feature presentations by leaders of the “Black is Back!” Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations; Friends and Family of Mumia Abu Jamal; the Black Agenda Report; and the Harlem Tenants Council. It is the culmination of an effort to raise $10,000 for the Uhuru Movement’s black community justice campaigns.

Will the Birthplace of Democracy Kill Freedom on the Internet?

Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, of Erie.

This is almost impossible to believe - but it's actually true.

About a month ago, the Obama administration announced its intent to write policy that would protect, by law, the freedom that has allowed the Internet to grow and flourish.

It's no joke that such protection is needed. Repression of the Internet by the corporations that control it has already started.

Last month, Apple told a healthcare reform group that they wouldn't carry a healthcare reform app on their AT&T network for 30 million iPhones because it was "politically charged"...

...two years ago, it was Verizon refusing to transmit text messages from NARAL Pro-choice America.

Beating the Drum for Healthcare Change

The House of Representatives is on recess, and the hottest political topic for Congressmen & women during their summer vacation is going to be health care reform. The Senate will go on recess next week, and will be coming home to constituent events around the state.

The same folks who showed up to McCain/Palin events and made outrageous statements about our current president are out in full force to deny him a major political victory--and they don't seem to much care that doing that will actually hurt everyday working Americans.

I attended yesterday's Town Hall meeting with Secretary of Health Sebelius and Senator Specter, and I think that the other health care reform supporters who joined me there will agree that we underestimated the fervor with which the right is organizing to defeat health care reform. Among other conversations I had with the Tea Party crew, one woman told me that people who don't have health care "just don't work hard enough."

Evans Says State-Sanctioned Gambling Is "Change We Can Believe In"

In a recent column, http://www.philly.com/philly/hp/news_update/39129332.html, in the Daily News Philadelphia's Dwight Evans made an outrageous comment.


When I point out to House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans that in the past he was never a fan of funding government through gambling, he says, "People change. We're living in a time of change we can believe in."

The library: a recession sanctuary?

Here's some easy reading.

This Freakonomics article refers to a supposed "public library renaissance," and links to a Boston globe article purporting libraries to being a sort of recession sanctuary.

Just thought I'd quickly link to some nationally-read literature regarding the prevailing topic at hand, in case you might have missed them.

National Media Ridicule Nutter's $100 Million Casino Request as Pork

Last month, the Nutter administration submitted a $2.6 billion wish list to the Obama transition team. At the top of the money pile – ahead of new schools and a youth study center? The Market East/Foxwoods casino – coming in at a cool $167 million* (correction: $125 million).

Just because there’s no plan in place doesn’t stop the City from putting it forth. After all, here was Terry Gillen’s reason for including the Market East casino project:

"We just want to make sure the opportunity for funding doesn't go away just because the project's not ready to be defined," said Terry Gillen, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority and senior adviser to the mayor.

Well, it’s not just Philadelphians who aren’t sold on that kind of logic. Earlier this week, the national press, including the Washington Post and CNBC, took notice of this line item after GOP leaders flagged it as one of the top examples of a stimulus package that was pork barrel politics as usual:

My favorite line?
"The mayors are calling a lot of their projects shovel ready. The question might be asked is what it is that they’re actually shoveling."
But more seriously, Nutter’s delineation of $125 million for the casino is troubling because it’s the first time a ballpark number has been put on the potential cost of the Market East location.

'An End to the Southern Strategy, But No Post-Racial America' says David Love

I am still blown away (esp with the secret service saying McPailin's rheotoric increased death threats on Obama) by the overt racism in McCain's campaign, and the disgust I felt motivated me to support Obama the most yet. Indeed, the fact that many white people (I head 55% of whites voted McCain and 45% Obama) rejected this crap... This very fact is what I am excited about, but I am still cautious, and I think the most obvious thing that we need to do, is continue to harness all the positive energy of the Obama campaign, and take this as far to the left as we can... At least some New Deal stuff, you know.

Well, I hope you enjoy this new essay by Philly writer David Love. I like his perspective, much like Mumia's as in coming from a radical background, Love does acknowledge much of the good of Obama being elected... but also recognizes that we now need to battle to get the most from it.

The next phase

It's barely 48 hours since the exaltation of Obama's win. But the mainstream effort to curtail Obama's progressive instincts has already begun, with a wide variety of politicians and pundits opining as on cue that the new president must go slowly, depend on Republican support, and delay perhaps indefinitely, anything that represents a real change of course. As progressives we have to fight that narrative tooth and nail.

Many of us put enormous energy into the fight to elect Obama. We owe it to all that we care about to fight like hell to make his Presidency a transformative one, not one that gets us all stuck in the middle of a potholed road. And so we must model ourselves after our new president. We must all become community organizers.

Drinking Liberally, Mount Airy: Big Night Tonight!

Can a night get any bigger than tonight? Wow.

Please join Drinking Liberally + the Northwest Philadelphia office of the Obama campaign at North by Northwest (7165 Germantown Ave.) at 8:00 PM tonight as we watch the returns come in, and hopefully celebrate the restoration of democracy to the United States. Regime change begins at home!

Drink to Democracy!

Turn America green by volunteering your time to elect Sen. Barack Obama to be the next president.

Here, and in 9 other battleground states nearly 1,600 have signed up to volunteer in the critical 96 hours before the election.

We're putting out names down for the last 96 hours because we worry this race could be much closer than the polls predict.

Will all of the hard work and long hours be enough?

With your help, it will be.

Click here to Volunteer in the final 96 hours

Here are a couple of reasons why we shouldn't take anything for granted.

* Record turnouts are expected on Election Day, but it's unclear if polling places are ready for the deluge of new voters. With long waits and new voting technology in several states, polls can't predict how voters will react.

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