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How Obama Lost the Narrative

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  • So he's not Superman after all--but how has he managed to lose the legion of doom?
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  • Here's one account.
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  • 2010 Elections: Why Have the Democrats Lost Popular Support?
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David Corn, Mother Jones

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Reprinted from The Adventures of Unemployed Man by Erich Origen and Gan Golan.

On his first day back from summer vacation, President Obama appeared in a sweltering Rose Garden to talk about the economy. The latest numbers were disheartening—growth slow, consumer spending weak, housing sales down, unemployment near 10 percent. Obama reported that he'd just met with his economic team. He pointed out that his administration had already taken "a series of measures" to boost the economy, and that his aides were "hard at work" looking for more. He offered no specific proposals, and after five minutes he went back inside, taking no questions from the sweating reporters.

With the Democrats' poll numbers falling in tandem with the economic indicators, the best Obama could offer were a few modest proposals. At a moment when his party was facing a possibly catastrophic drubbing, the president appeared on the defensive, his economic leadership anemic. How had Obama lost his groove?

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Related:

2010 Elections: Why Have the Democrats Lost Popular Support?, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun.org

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  • What the Democrats Could Have Done
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  • Scaring Us To The Polls
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Scaring Us To The Polls

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  • What’s so pathetic about the Democrats is that they could have addressed voters real fears in the last two years and be in a much better position in the mid-term election.
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  • Advancing the Progressive Agenda in November: Don’t Vote Dem!
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Lydia Howell, Evergreene Digest

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Electoral trick-or-treaters this year span a scary spectrum.

They include U.S. Senate candidates like Christine O’Donnell (Delaware) as bi-polar former witch/contemporary Puritan and Rich Iott (Ohio) in
full SS Nazi uniform and New York governor-wannabe Carl Paladino as a homophobic Mafia hit-man.

Frightening rhetoric about President Obama has helped recession-proof the publishing industry, with right-wing screeds from FreedomWorks’ Dick
Armey and his “Tea Party Manifesto” to Dinesh D’Souza’s latest, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” which resorts to a weird mix of DNA and
reincarnation to concoct racist smear of the president.

To foment fear of Democrats' allegedly “socialist” policies, Republicans “No taxes! No spending!” (except for war and prisons) cry has been
amplified to an absurd degree. Of course, there also is the  now standard howl: “The Muslims will get you unless we keep ‘The War On
Terror' going at home and abroad.” (And, of course, Democrats are “soft on terrorism.”

Are you scared enough to keep Minnesota’s nutty Rep. Michelle Bachman in office or to put Colorado former DA/rapist protector Ken Buck in the US
Senate? There’s a long list of undeniably scary “conservative”-Tea Party-Republicans on the ballot.

That’s a good thing for Democrats, who rely more and more on the fear card, too, to save their quivering behinds: “Vote for me or you’ll get
The Terrifying Rightwinger---and that means women’s reproductive rights will be killed and the Supreme Court will go Frankenstein!”

(What goes unmentioned is how Democrats have allowed women’s reproductive rights to be whittled away by state laws, and how they
dropped abortion coverage from their healthcare “reform” bill. And let us never forget that some Democrats voted for the rightwing SCOTUS
justices, including John Roberts).

That’s not to say that much of voters’ fears aren’t very real; unemployment isn’t budging much and home foreclosures keep rising. Increasingly, people ask if the American Dream is dead, merely a grieving ghost that haunts the long-term jobless, those fighting eviction by fraudster bankers and recent college graduates with big student loans to pay off on a Starbucks’ minimum-wage.

What’s so pathetic about the Democrats is that they could have addressed voters real fears in the last two years and be in a much better position
in the mid-term election.

Throughout the truly terrifying Bush-Cheney years, Democrats'  mantra was “We can’t challenge anything the Republicans do because they have
Congress and the White House.”

What too many liberal apologists for those weak-kneed Dems ignore is how often Democrats colluded with the Republicans’ agenda ---by voting for
the PATRIOT Act that‘s destroying civil liberties, for example, and voting for pouring more hundreds of billions of dollars into occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and working to further de-regulate Wall Street – a little game that got rolling during President Bill Clinton‘s time in office, thus ensuring an economic meltdown at some point.

In 2006, once Democrats had a Congressional majority, George W. Bush’s veto pen became the unbeatable Darth Vader light sword.  All he had to
do was threaten and a majority of Democrats hid under their desks.

Two years ago, for the first time in 30 years, Democrats had the unmistakable opportunity to reverse decades of Freddy Krueger policies that have preyed on every aspect of the public interest . If the Democrats were still the political party of FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society, they would have shoveled furiously to fill in the economic ditch left to us by Bush.   Hardly any of them thought to reach for a spade.

What should the Democrats have done?

Massive job-creation should have been the top priority.  They should have frozen home foreclosures and instituted real financial reforms that
stopped Wall Street from functioning like a taxpayer-backed casino.

While the stimulus package preserved some civil service jobs and created some temporary new ones, it was at best a nervous half measure. President Barack Obama has refused to push a moratorium on home foreclosures, even with the exposure of massive fraud by banks, which
even have tried to foreclose on people who’ve paid off their mortgages.

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The financial “reform” bill did not do anything to end the Wall Street abuses that tanked the economy. Hedge fund managers and CEOs are still
making out like vampires at the blood bank , even as profitable corporations continue to lay-off tens of thousands of workers.

Healthcare “reform” deserves an essay, or a book or several books, all its own. Suffice it say that, even with some positive steps such as ending denials based on pre-existing conditions or allowing children to be on their parents’ insurance to age 26, the 2,000-plus-page bill shape-shifted so constantly no one knew what was actually in it.

Hysteria about “death panels” was easy for the political right to pull off because werewolf insurance companies wrote the bill, including the hex that requires everyone to buy their high-priced, fraudulent policies, with no real oversight or cost controls. Most of the bill doesn’t even go into effect until somewhere between 2014 and 2017, but, insurance companies are raising their rates and dropping children-only policies right now.

President Obama---with Goldman Sachs economic advisors--- and most of the Democrats whistled past the right-wing graveyard with timid
middle-of-the road policies that failed to address the real problems we are facing, making them vulnerable to the Tea Party Horror Show’s attacks. The problem isn’t  “a failure to communicate,” but a refusal to take strong stands in the public interest. Democrats who’ve tried to make progressive critics into the Boogie Man are only contributing to the ‘enthusiasm gap” they fear.

Republicans have become like Dr. Frankenstein gone mad in his laboratory, cutting taxes for capitalist crony oligarchs, pushing for a permanent state of war that boosts ‘private contractors” from Halliburton to Blackwater/Xe and protecting Wall Street as it plunders our country.  On what should be the other side, most Democrats have become long on liberal talk, short on progressive action, morphed into a servile Igor doing the exact things Republicans do at a slightly slower pace.

The bi-partisan consensus to push a corporate agenda is the scariest real thing voters face at the poll. When will we organize progressive pitchforks and torches to storm the castle?

Related:

Advancing the Progressive Agenda in November: Don’t Vote Dem! David W. Culver, Evergreene Digest
Walk away from the Democratic Party and back progressive, third party candidates until the Democrats feel enough heat to adopt our agenda. We must be willing to say no. If not, we become slaves.

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The Christine O'Donnell phenomenon: Welcome to the United States of Amnesia

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  • Somehow we have forgotten the lesson we spent most of the past decade learning at ruinous cost, that faith-based governance, foreign policy by gut instinct, choosing leaders on the basis of which one we'd most like to watch television with, simply does not work.
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  • The Know Nothings and Flat Earthers are ascendant.
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  • Ignorance as Authenticity
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Leonard Pitts Jr., Syndicated columnist, Miami Herald | FL/Seattle Times | WA

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"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ... " — from the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

That's for Christine O'Donnell.

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"Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?" she asked last week (Oct 17-23), drawing gasps and astonished laughter from an audience of law-school students.

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Chris Coons, her Democratic opponent for a Delaware Senate seat, replied that in asking the question, O'Donnell shows "fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is. ... The First Amendment establishes the separation ... "

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Ignorance as Authenticity, Joe Klein, Swampland

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  • There is something profoundly diseased about a society that idolizes its ignoramuses and disdains its experts.
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  • People Are Allergic to the Facts
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If Williams deserved firing, we all do.


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  • Oh, sorry, did that offend somebody?
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  • Poor Juan. It was a dumb remark. He should recognize that his fears are unfounded, apologize, and move on.
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  • Glenn Greenwald: The real danger from NPR's firing of Juan Williams
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Syl Jones, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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Juan Williams, left, and a man wearing "Muslim garb," which Williams said scares him (AP/iStockphoto)

NPR, the public radio service that incessantly begs for our listener support, fired commentator Juan Williams this week (Oct 17-23) for saying, on Bill O'Reilly's "Fear Factor" television program, that he is nervous when he flies with people who dress in Muslim garb.

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Poor Juan. It was a dumb remark. He should recognize that his fears are unfounded, apologize, and move on.

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But NPR sanctimoniously canned Williams. Which raises this question: Who among us is so devoid of irrational fears and contradictions that we should not be fired? Let's just dismiss the media at large -- well, that's not a bad idea, actually, but you know what I mean -- for transmitting stupid things each and every day.

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The real danger from NPR's firing of Juan Williams, Glenn Greenwald, Salon
Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell
I'm still not quite over the most disgusting part of the Juan Williams spectacle yesterday:  watching the very same people (on the Right and in the media) who remained silent about or vocally cheered on the viewpoint-based firings of Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, Eason Jordan, Peter Arnett, Phil Donahue, Ashleigh Banfield, Bill Maher, Ward Churchill, Chas Freeman, Van Jones and so many others, spend all day yesterday (Oct 21) wrapping themselves in the flag of "free expression!!!" and screeching about the perils and evils of firing journalists for expressing certain viewpoints.  Even for someone who expects huge doses of principle-free hypocrisy -- as I do -- that behavior is really something to behold. And anyone doubting that there is a double standard when it comes to anti-Muslim speech should just compare the wailing backlash from most quarters over Williams' firing to the muted acquiescence or widespread approval of those other firings.

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Helen Thomas Cries, Denies Anti-Semitism, Calls President Obama 'Reprehensible' Associated Press/Huffington Post
Asked whether she's anti-Semitic, she responded "Baloney!" She said she wants to be remembered for "integrity and my honesty and my belief in good journalism" and would like to work again.

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Section(s): 

Fascist America: Is This Election The Next Turn?

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  • This coming election may, in fact, be a critical turning point on that road (to facism).
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  • Lessons from History to Guide AntiFascist Voters
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  • Don't Vote for Your Future Oppressors
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Sara Robinson, Campaign for America's Future

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In August 2009, I wrote a piece titled Fascist America: Are We There Yet? that sparked much discussion on both the left and right ends of the blogosphere. In it, I argued that -- according to the best scholarship on how fascist regimes emerge -- America was on a path that was running much too close to the fail-safe point beyond which no previous democracy has ever been able to turn back from a full-on fascist state. I also noted that the then-emerging Tea Party had a lot of proto-fascist hallmarks, and that it had the potential to become a clear and present danger to the future of our democracy if it ever got enough traction to start winning elections in a big way.

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On the first anniversary of that article, Jonah Goldberg -- the right's revisionist-in-chief on the subject of fascism -- actually used an entire National Review column to taunt me about what he characterized as a failure of prediction. Where's that fascist state you promised? he hooted.
It's funny he should ask. Because this coming election may, in fact, be a critical turning point on that road.

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Duty to Warn: Lessons from History to Guide AntiFascist Voters, Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest

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  • What Can Happen if We the People Let Down our Guard and Vote for Our Future Oppressors
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  • Excerpts, without comment, from Milton Mayer’s “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45”
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  • Advice for citizens who still have hope for America
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Duty to Warn: Don't Vote for Your Future Oppressors, Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest
Who should freedom-loving people vote for?
Advice for citizens who still have hope for America

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U.S. Midterms: Political Freak Show

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I'm you, dear readers. Well, actually, I'm not. But I'm also not a witch, so at least I've got that going for me.

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Cliff Schecter, Huffington Post

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The above is of course a reference to Delaware's favourite Wiccan of Wilmington, Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell, who began her most recent television advertisement by assuring viewers that she, indeed, is "not a witch." In past political years this might have been considered a bit low-brow, to actually have to assure the voting public you didn't spend most days at dusk swooping over the heads of the Lollipop Guild.

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The bar has been raised among this year's crop of weirdos and wackadoos seeking higher office in America. If you don't have the Second Amendment tattooed on your buttocks or actually think you're The Walrus, don't even try and claim to be among the craziest third of aspiring politicos on the current American landscape.

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Keith Olbermann: Brian Kilmeade An 'Unamerican Bastard' For Muslims Comment

On both TV and radio Friday (Oct 15), Kilmeade said that, while not all Muslims are terrorists, "all terrorists are Muslims."

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Huffington Post

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Keith Olbermann slammed Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade Friday night (Oct 15), calling the "Fox & Friends" co-host an "unamerican bastard" over his comments about Muslims and terrorists.

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On both TV and radio Friday, Kilmeade said that, while not all Muslims are terrorists, "all terrorists are Muslims."

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"There is stupid and there is bigoted and there is paranoid and there is Islamophobic, but it takes a big man to combine all four of them," Olbermann said of Kilmeade.

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