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07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]

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Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

07.19 Trump administration won't ban pesticide tied to childhood brain damage [There is no truth to the persistent rumor that chlorpyrifos pesticide was heavily used at Trump's childhood home in Queens]

07.19 'Unprecedented' Decline of Plants and Animals as Global 'Red List' Reveals Nearly One-Third of Assessed Species Under Threat

07.17 ‘Off-the-charts’ heat to affect millions in U.S. in coming decades

07.17 Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen forced out by board [Given that states have lost abortion rights on political grounds recently, Wen's philosophical approach to protect abortion rights based on ‘health care’ was smarter – therefore it was that smarter strategy that was killed at the secret meeting.]

07.17 Billions of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers

07.17 What is happening in America's Cancertown is tragic, immoral and evil [Niggardly white government policies could change to produce better students, better jobs and net revenue instead of costs. But it seems they enjoy more cruelty—like Trump.]

07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

News Media Matters

07.19 Fox News’s star names excuse the inexcusable after Trump's latest racist attack

07.18 In Sinclair's New 'Must-Run' Segment, Former Trump Adviser Tries to Defend Racist Attacks on 'the Squad'

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US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

07.19 Are progressives working on a climate plan for 2021? You bet.

07.19 The 51 most outrageous lines from Donald Trump's repugnant North Carolina rally

07.19 The Real Meaning of ‘Send Her Back!’

07.18 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Breaking up Homeland Security

07.18 Deadly Delays in Jail Construction Cost Lives and Dollars Across California

07.18 Inside Trump's DC hotel, where allies and lobbyists flock to peddle their interests [Also, too much ignored by media, the $millions "donated" corrupting moderate Democrats and Republicans every election cycle must stop]

07.18 This Republican's Case for Medicare for All [A well-informed Republican is rare, so let's hold him in the light so others may learn]

07.18 Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after president attacks Ilhan Omar [1:03 video shows Trump pandering to his ignorant idolaters, and together they're making America a greater shit-hole country]

07.18 "Can't Change a Corrupt System by Taking Its Money": Sanders Urges All 2020 Democrats to Reject Insurance, Big Pharma Cash [49:02 video w/ lousy sound]

07.17 Why Democrats’ oversight machine is moving so slowly against Trump

07.17 Here's the real reason Trump is attacking 'the squad': he's scared of their politics

07.17 'Good,' Says Elizabeth Warren, After Billionaire Right-Winger Peter Thiel Says She's 2020 Democrat He Is 'Most Scared By'

07.17 The American Right Defines Patriotism As Complacency About Racism

07.17 This is what today's America looks like. The squad is us

Justice Matters

07.19 UN urged to act over 'purge' of Turkey's lawyers by Erdogan

07.19 DOJ Releases Strong Evidence of Trump’s Campaign Finance Violations But No Explanation of No Charges [The statement]

07.16 Contempt [Variations of frequent loss & theft of property title by organized legal efforts against black owners]

07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

High Crimes vs. Human Rights

07.19 Conscientious objectors of first world war – their untold tales [The record proves they were morally right by avoiding violent early deaths of their cousins and themselves]

Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

07.18 Corporate tax cuts blocked at least 15,000 affordable homes in California. Here’s how

07.15 China’s Economic Growth Hits 27-Year Low as Trade War Stings

International & Futurism

07.19 U.N.'s Bachelet says Congresswomen opposing Trump are 'fantastic'

07.19 Iran makes 'substantial' nuclear offer in return for US lifting sanctions [Was barbaric Saudi Arabia—whose citizens were more involved in the 9-11 attacks—the wrong ally all along?]

07.19 “The Task Ahead Is Enormous, and There Is Not Much Time” [Read this and learn. Or read Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) | Twitter and/or President Trump (@POTUS) | Twitter. Are you serious? Or are you in hideously criminal denial?]

07.18 Foreign purchases of American homes plunge 36% as Chinese buyers flee the market

07.18 There are 16 million slaves around the world making our stuff

07.18 ‘No rioters, only a tyrannical regime’: Thousands of Hong Kong seniors march in support of young extradition law protesters [Most people around the world have more in common with these Hong Kong Chinese protestors than with the ignorant people at Trump rallies]

07.18 Dozens Arrested as Over 1,000 Jewish Activists and Allies Shut Down Entrances to ICE Headquarters Demanding Closure of Trump Detention Camps [Obviously these are not the immoral and less educated right-wing jews who support Netanyahu, Trump and ICE, and who slowly exterminate Palestinians when no one is looking]

07.17 Trump Murdered the Iran Deal—And Europe Isn’t Too Happy About It [Only psychopathic Saudi Arabia and Russia are U.S. ’allies’ now...]

07.17 Trump’s Unlawful Asylum Policy Is a Jab at Mexico

07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

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  Print view: Who's Right? Obama or the 'Base'?
COMMENTARY:

Who's Right? Obama or the 'Base'?

by Robert Parry
Published on ConsortiumNews.com on Wednesday, 8 December 2010

When President Barack Obama lashed out at the liberal base of the Democratic Party – condemning many on the Left as “sanctimonious” purists – he underscored how profoundly his actions have alienated some of his past supporters and how little he understands why.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Obama compared the current liberal furor over his tax-cut deal with Republicans to the fury on the Left over his abandonment of the “public option” in health-care reform. But the latest anger among progressives reflects more than that; it is a cumulative disgust.

What the Left sees is a politician who ran on a platform of “change” – who cited Martin Luther King’s “fierce urgency of now” phrase – but then blinked at reversing disastrous policies of his recent predecessors. Instead, Obama offered more “continuity,” a change of heart that was pleasing to an entrenched Washington/Wall Street Establishment.

Though the cave-in on extending George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich may have exposed the growing void in Obama’s support among progressives, the hollowing out of his base has been underway since shortly after his election.

Despite promises to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and to respect the rule of law, Obama soon began moon-walking those commitments. He ducked a fight with Congress over Guantanamo and found excuses not to enforce U.S. and international laws regarding torture and other war crimes.

Unlike politicians in Great Britain, Obama and congressional Democrats didn’t even conduct fact-finding investigations into how the Bush administration led the nation into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or how Bush waged the “war on terror.” Obama insisted on “looking forward, not backward.”

Yet, while devising legal rationalizations for not holding Bush and his aides accountable for torture, aggressive war and other serious crimes, the Obama administration has explored novel legal theories for indicting WikiLeaks for releasing internal government documents revealing details about the brutality of Bush’s wars and the often cynical U.S. diplomacy that surrounded them.

Progressives have found these double standards – which put Obama in league with the likes of neoconservative Sen. Joe Lieberman – galling.

Obama also infuriated progressives by failing to chart a significantly different course on war policies. He kept Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon, the first time in history that a newly elected U.S. president of a different party hasn’t made a change in that key job.

Gates and other Bush holdovers in the military high command then mouse-trapped Obama into an escalation in Afghanistan by limiting his access to less confrontational options. Obama’s Afghan War strategy won praise from Washington’s influential neocons but not from Obama’s core supporters.

The surrender on the “public option” was also not the minor detail that Obama described at his news conference. Though it’s true that the whittled-down version that was finally abandoned would have affected only a few million people, a broader “public option” – say, one available to all businesses – might have attracted tens of millions and saved trillions of health-care dollars.

But Obama portrayed the “public option” as something of a pet rock for leftists.

“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,” Obama said, showing an uncharacteristic flash of public anger. “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, in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of pre-existing condition.”

Bending to Republicans

Yet, as Obama himself has acknowledged, his “signature” health-reform bill and its mandate that Americans must obtain private-sector insurance from profit-making companies was actually scripted by Republicans, such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Obama’s new tax deal with the Republicans is a similar abandonment of Democratic principles. Most Democrats would favor paying Americans to work on improving the nation’s infrastructure or other domestic needs, rather than trusting Republican faith in tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

Indeed, the idea of running up the federal deficit by another $900 billion to pay for the tax cuts might undercut the prospects of creating meaningful infrastructure jobs. There’s little doubt that the Republicans will cite the widening deficit as a reason to block any direct government plan to put Americans back to work.

So, the tax cuts (and the 13-month extension of jobless benefits) in the Obama-Republican compromise might spur some short-term consumerism but won't address the nation’s long-term structural deficiencies.

It will mean Americans buying many manufactured goods produced in China or other low-wage countries, adding to the balance-of-trade deficit as well as the budget deficit. But the deal won’t bring the kind of sustained growth that a healthy economy needs, nor will it make the United States more competitive.

The compromise doesn’t devote a penny to high-speed rail, or investments in research and development, or a boost in green jobs. However, by adding nearly $1 trillion to the deficit over two years, it will increase pressure for draconian cuts in social and other domestic spending in the future.

The new tax cuts also don’t address the disturbing disparity of wealth in the United States. Indeed, they make the problem of two countries (one rich and pampered, the other increasingly poor and desperate) worse.

Not only do the rich get the lion share of the benefits – with at least a quarter of the benefits going to the top one percent of earners – but the working poor will actually see their taxes rise slightly because the Making Work Pay credit will lapse. [For the breakdown, see NYT, Dec. 8, 2010]

Negotiating Under Coercion

There’s also little prospect for this deal to create a healthier political climate.

Obama made clear he was making these concessions because the Republicans had, in effect, taken the American people “hostage” and that he saw his response as comparable to police negotiating with hostage-takers.

In a remarkable comment, the President said: “I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed. Then people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case, the hostage was the American people, and I was not willing to see them get harmed.”

However, when police negotiate with hostage-takers, the goal is not to give them whatever they want and then let them get away. It is to wear down the hostage-takers, making minor concessions (like pizza deliveries) in exchange for letting hostages go and – if that doesn’t work – sending in the SWAT teams to kill the hostage-takers and save as many hostages as possible.

If police made hostage-taking a sure-fire way to get rich and face no accountability, the nation would be awash in hostage-takings. But that is what President Obama essentially told the Republicans – and it’s a sure bet that they will dream up other instances where Obama will have to choose between harm to the American people and caving in.

In fact, the Republicans will be offered a chance early next year to block an increase in the debt limit. They could demand major cuts in social programs as they did in 1995 – and if Obama doesn’t comply, they could force a shutdown of the U.S. government, with suspended Social Security payments, no Medicare for elderly patients, shuttered national parks, etc.

What will Obama do then or in some similar instance? Now that the Republicans know that he can be easily rolled, what is stopping them doing it again and again?

And what lesson will foreign leaders take from Obama’s admission that he can be coerced? It’s a safe assumption that foreign embassies in Washington are sending home cables about this public display of presidential capitulation.

This spinelessness may be what upsets the Democratic base the most.

Although Obama faults progressives for an unrealistic desire for purity, they see a need for courage and principle even in the face of pain. They believe the Republicans have become stalwart defenders of corporatism and thus tenacious enemies of any government effort to constrain corporate power and to address the nation’s needs.

Many progressives had hoped that Obama would emerge as an articulate advocate for a more energized government that would fight for the interests of average citizens against the power of money.

Instead, what they see in Obama is an obsessive conciliator, always looking for ways to compromise even with the most intransigent (or corrupt) foe. To them, Obama may have drawn many lines in the sand (as he said) but he’s too quick to rub them out and draw new ones.

Obama’s Challenges

To be fair to Obama, he was confronted with extraordinary crises when he took office. The economy was teetering near collapse; two U.S. automakers were heading toward permanent bankruptcy; the federal deficit was near $1.3 trillion; and American troops were at war in faraway countries.

The choices before Obama were not easy ones. If he had chosen to shake up the political-economic system – rather than settle it down – he might have tipped the country and the world into a full-scale depression. And he would have taken a pounding from the U.S. news media and the political elite.

The high-decibel accusations about Obama as an anti-business, closet-Muslim socialist would have been even louder than they were. Egged on by the powerful right-wing voices on talk radio and cable news, the surge of gun-toting Tea Party anger might have been even more intense.

The Left’s longstanding neglect of media would have left Obama standing much more exposed than some on the Left like to admit.

Obama is also correct when he says many progressives are unrealistic about what can be achieved when the Right has a huge megaphone to the American people’s ear and the Left has done little to match it.

Still, realism does not have to mean surrender; compromise does not have to mean repudiating principles and endangering long-term prospects.

From failing to hold Bush and his aides accountable for crimes of state to letting the Washington/Wall Street powers-that-be frame the parameters for what’s possible, Obama repeated many of the mistakes that President Bill Clinton made, with a parallel result – a resurgent Republican Party and an empowered right-wing extremist faction.

Obama now faces the risk of more demands and more “hostage-taking.” Though he may wish to avoid confrontation, it will surely find him.

For those on the Left – whether Obama loyalists or critics – there are daunting challenges ahead.


Robert Parry

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

To comment at Consortiumblog, click here. (To make a blog comment about this or other ConsortiumNews stories, you can use your normal e-mail address and password. Ignore the prompt for a Google account.) To comment to us by e-mail, click here. To donate so we can continue reporting and publishing stories like the one you just read, click here.

Mr. Parry's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on December 8, 2010.
 

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