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President Obama is neither weak nor stupid... nor a progressive

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  • Politicians are but political tools, and they are not the only political tools. They are only as useful as the agendas they are willing to pursue. We don't owe them our loyalty, they owe us theirs. There are other political tools, and there are means of organizing that transcend the elective political game. It's about the issues. Given the gravity of the stakes, we have to focus on the issues, without excuses, and in some cases without compromise. That means we have to accept some politicians when there are no immediate alternatives, and we have to try to push them to do better and to be better even when it is counter to their own political ideologies, but it also means we can't pretend they are something they are not; and it also means we have to create a climate where there will be better and legitimate alternatives.
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  • Note to “the Left”: Obama Hates You
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Laurence Lewis, Daily Kos

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Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Steve Clemens

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A lot of people are wondering why President Obama keeps offering compromises and capitulations to the Republicans before negotiations have even begun. A lot of people are wondering why he appears to keep effectively unilaterally knee-capping himself. A lot of people accurately argue that it would be great optics at least to try to stand on principle, and it might even produce better policies. Some say he is weak. Some question his intelligence. Some do one or both in less than polite terms. But many are overlooking a possible alternate explanation. Many are overlooking an explanation that is hiding in plain sight.

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President Obama is no fool. He's actually extremely smart. One need not recount the entire litany, but suffice to say that one doesn't become president of the Harvard Law Review, get invited to teach at the University of Chicago Law School, or compose on the fly a riveting Speech on Race that galvanizes much of the nation-- even many inclined to be critics-- unless one has a rare and assiduously honed intellect. The argument that President Obama is stupid fails at first thought.

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Note to “the Left”: Obama Hates You, Paul Street, Z Communications
No matter how fiercely Obama demonstrates his determination (consistent with his longstanding “deeply conservative” instincts) to govern from the center-right, a dedicated cadre of liberals and progressives will persevere with the line that it’s our own damn fault. This is a mistaken and dysfunctional narrative.

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Reactions To FCC Net Neutrality Proposal Mixed

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  • Response to the proposal as it stands has been far from unanimous praise. Initial excitement that the matter had been officially introduced at all was quickly subsumed by wariness over ambiguities in the proposal that seemed to allow broadband carriers to continue their old practices under the cover of a false openness.
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  • Why The Federal Trade Commission' s (FTC's) Online Privacy Plan Won't Stop The Information Free-For-All
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Amy Lee, Huffington Post

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FFC Chair Julius Genachowski

For the tech community, net neutrality is the byword for a free and open Internet. So the Federal Communication Committee's announcement that they would introduce regulations to protect net neutrality came as a welcome relief.

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But response to the proposal as it stands has been far from unanimous praise. Initial excitement that the matter had been officially introduced at all was quickly subsumed by wariness over ambiguities in the proposal that seemed to allow broadband carriers to continue their old practices under the cover of a false openness.

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Why The Federal Trade Commission' s (FTC's) Online Privacy Plan Won't Stop The Information Free-For-All, Bianca Bosker, Huffington Post
The Federal Trade Commission's new proposal to protect our privacy online should do little to assuage your fears of a know-it-all Web watching, tracking and responding to your activities on the Internet.

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Arizona Strikes Again

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  • Let us revisit the matter of pulling the plug on grandma.
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  • It came to mind when I was talking to Flor Felix, whose husband, Francisco, a 32-year-old truck driver with four kids, was denied a liver transplant because the Arizona Legislature had yanked funds for it out of a state Medicaid program.
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Gail Collins, New York Times | NY

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Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

At a time when corporations are buying up elections – not to mention the 24-hour-news cycle – help ensure that a source for truly independent journalism lives on. Support Evergreene Digest  today by using the donation button in the above right-hand corner.

You may remember the historic day in 2009 when Senator Chuck Grassley brought the issue to the fore at a town meeting in Iowa. “We should not have a government plan that will pull the plug on grandma,” he said to loud cheers.

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This was when Grassley, a Republican, was negotiating with the Democrats on a bipartisan health care reform bill. Optimistic spirits felt his plug-pulling metaphor was simply an attempt to reassure his constituents, while he continued working in good faith with the Finance Committee chairman, Senator Max (I Am Always Wrong) Baucus.

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The Big Economic Story, and Why Obama Isn't Telling It

Unless the President and Democrats explain why the economy still stinks for most Americans and offer a plan to fix it, the Republican explanation and solution -- it's big government's fault, and all we need do is shrink it -- will prevail.

Robert Reich, Huffington Post

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

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Who's responsible for the lousy economy most Americans continue to wallow in?

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A. Big government, bureaucrats, and the cultural and intellectual elites who back them.
B. Big business, Wall Street, and the powerful and privileged who represent them.

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These are the two competing stories Americans are telling one another.

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Yes, I know: It's more complicated than this. In reality, the lousy economy is due to insufficient demand -- the result of the nation's almost unprecedented concentration of income at the top. The very rich don't spend as much of their income as the middle. And since the housing bubble burst, the middle class hasn't had the buying power to keep the economy going. That concentration of income, in turn, is due to globalization and technological change -- along with unprecedented campaign contributions and lobbying designed to make the rich even richer and do nothing to help average Americans, insider trading, and political bribery.

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Note to “the Left”: Obama Hates You

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No matter how fiercely Obama demonstrates his determination (consistent with his longstanding “deeply conservative” instincts) to govern from the center-right, a dedicated cadre of liberals and progressives will persevere with the line that it’s our own damn fault. This is a mistaken and dysfunctional narrative.

Paul Street, Z Communications

1968 Analogies

The 2008 Barack Obama campaign reminded some hopeful left and liberal observers of the fantastic, feel-good presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy (RFK). Like RFK in the turbulent summer of 1968, Obama swept up a considerable number of progressives in the illusion that big democratic transformation, peace and justice could be achieved by electing a different ruling class-sponsored candidate. In both cases, many on “the left”1 drank heavily and wistfully from the corporate-crafted pitcher of liberal, candidate-centered Kool Aid. It was a great and dreamy seduction.2

When it comes to 1968 analogies, however, there is reason to see Obama’s real relationship with progressives and “the left” as closer to that of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley of the year.  Think back to August ’68, more than four months after Daley had uttered his infamous “shoot to kill” order against black Chicagoans who rioted in the wake of the assassination/execution of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Democratic Convention was underway at the old International Amphitheater in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. The “anti-[Vietnam] war” candidate RFK – the likely victor in the primary contest (despite his late entry) – had been killed the previous month, leaving the Democrats free to nominate the hawkish Hubert Humphrey for the presidency.

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Noam Chomsky: WikiLeaks Cables Reveal "Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership"

We should understand- and the Pentagon Papers is another case in point- that one of the major reasons for government secrecy is to protect the government from its own population.

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!/Reader Supported News

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In a national broadcast exclusive interview, we speak with world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky about the release of more than 250,000 secret U.S. State Department cables by WikiLeaks. In 1971, Chomsky helped government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg release the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret internal U.S. account of the Vietnam War. Commenting on the revelations that several Arab leaders are urging the United States to attack Iran, Chomsky says, "latest polls show Arab opinion holds that the major threat in the region is Israel, that’s 80 percent; the second threat is the United States, that’s 77 percent. Iran is listed as a threat by 10 percent," Chomsky says. "This may not be reported in the newspapers, but it’s certainly familiar to the Israeli and U.S. governments and the ambassadors. What this reveals is the profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership." [includes rush transcript]

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Watch Part II of this Conversation.

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Vicarious violence a threat? Yes

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  • It was all so normal, including the scorecard at the end, where the one who had the most "kills" (planes shot down) and "deaths" (victims of war) was the winner. The kids were learning how to win, through death, but with no threat to themselves. Death was casual, meted out on somebody else, tallied on a score sheet on a television screen.
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  • Video games are more troubling than the comic books of yesteryear.
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Dick Bernard, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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The headline writer for George Will's Nov 28 column on violent video games ("There's a moral threat to the youths of America!") gave it this subhead: "Today, it's video games. In another era, it was comic books. So, pass a law? Pshaw."

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Oh, were it only so easy to dismiss a serious societal problem.

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Will is exactly one year younger than I am; he and I come from the same generation. But here's another perspective, based on an experience that is doubtless replayed tens of millions of times every day across our nation.

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