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Health Care & Environment
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
This Nation Needs a Fighter in the White House, not a Gabber and Glad-Hander
Sunday, 8 February 2009
So what should Obama do? Tell Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress that if they vote against the bill he wants – with limited tax breaks and with all the money he proposed for states and localities – then they will get less stimulus money in their districts.If the disaster of the so-called "stimulus" bill just passed by the Senate doesn't convince President Obama and his advisers that the strategy of "bipartisanship" that he has been espousing is a political suicide, nothing will.
The Republican Party, with the willing help of conservative Democrats like Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Democratic turncoats like Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), has forced Obama to agree to a joke of a stimulus package that is nearly half composed of tax breaks which will do nothing to bolster the economy (since most of the money will end up either paying down credit card debt or buying Chinese and Sri Lankan imports) and that is stripped of $40 billion to help struggling state and local governments.
Fresh from its rout in November, the GOP is, in fact, openly trying to sabotage Obama's economic stimulus plan, because the last thing Republicans want to see is an economy on the upturn in 2010 or 2012.
Meanwhile, Obama, who had the chance to add 2-4 Democratic senators to the Senate by naming Republicans to his cabinet or to other key administration positions, and having Democratic governors replace them with progressive Democrats, has wasted several opportunities. When he did name a Republican senator from a state with a Democratic governor--Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, named to be Commerce Dept. Secretary--he instead cut a pathetic deal to have the state's Democratic governor name another Republican Senator to replace Judd. Almost as bad, in New York, when he named Sen. Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State, he allowed New York's Democratic governor, David Patterson, to name a conservative Democrat to replace her.
What is this guy trying to do? Obama is from Chicago, a town where politics is a blood sport, and where as a young politician, he played that game with brass knuckles himself. Now he's trying to be everybody's best friend?
The result is he's being steamrollered.
So what should he do? Tell conservative Democrats in Congress that if they want any of their pet bills or projects passed in the next four years, they will pass a stimulus bill as he wants it written, with limited tax breaks and with all the money he proposed for states and localities. Republicans, meanwhile, should be told bluntly that if they vote against the measure once it is reconciled in a House-Senate conference, they get shorted on stimulus money in their districts. Let them explain it to their constituents.
Play Hard ball.
That's how Republicans have played for the past eight years, and how they've turned Congressional Democrats into a quivering mass of gelatinous goop.
Obama won a landslide electoral victory and a big popular vote majority. It wasn't his promise to be bi-partisan that gave him that win. It was his promise to be a real leader.
Leaders have to be respected, and they get respect from the opposition not by being courteous and by bending over, but by carrying a big stick and using it occasionally. Those who fail to use that stick end up getting whacked by one themselves, which is what happened to Obama's two Democratic predecessors, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
The other thing Obama is going to have to recognize, and recognize fast, is that his strength lies his progressive base. He has been dissing that base since the minute he won the election. Progressives have cut him a lot of slack--far more than he deserves--as he appointed (mostly white male) Clinton hack after Clinton hack to his cabinet, held over key (all white male) Bush appointees like Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense and Gen. David Petraeus as head of Central Command (CentCom), and backpedaled on key campaign promises like ending the war in Iraq and winning passage of the Employee Free Choice labor rights restoration bill.
With this odious betrayal of his base, he is losing support from the very people who can sustain his presidency through four tough years of struggle. Without them, he is doomed to a one-term failure of a presidency.
Obama now faces three key tests. If he fails on any of them, I would argue that his presidency is finished before it starts.
At that point, Obama will have won the passionate support of his base, and the grudging respect of conservatives in Congress. The remaining years of his presidency will inevitably be full of conflict, but he will be fighting his political battles from a position of strength. This will allow him to campaign forcefully for progressive House and Senate candidates in the 2010 off-year congressional elections, when he could win more seats and stronger control in the Senate.
Meanwhile, he should replace Gates at Defense, ideally with some liberal Republican senator from a Democratic state (I'd suggest one of the two women, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who represent the state of Maine--a woman Secretary of Defense would be a great move), so that another Democrat could be appointed to the Senate. He could do the same thing with the Department of Health (another good place for a woman senator from Maine!). That would give the Democrats 61 seats in the Senate, assuming Al Franken finally gets named the winner in Minnesota.
The key thing is, no more nice guy. Obama needs to return to his roots and start acting like the Chicago pol that he began as. It's what his base wants, it's what the broad mass of the electorate wanted when they voted for him, and it's what the country needs.
About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on February 8, 2009.
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