Friday, December 17, 2010

Obama's Dunkirk: Even Churchill Couldn't Stop The Loss of Empire

The President's political maneuvering through this craven tax deal with Republicans was impressive. No doubt. Obama booster Chris Matthews called him "the comeback kid." How original. Actually, that's the title of Krauthammer's column. He gave the Beltway pundits the "narrative," to coin one of their overused buzz words, the hook for the President's "win:"
"Now, with his stunning tax deal, Obama is back. Holding no high cards, he nonetheless managed to resurface suddenly not just as a player but as orchestrator, dealmaker and central actor in a high $1 trillion drama ... Even as they were near unanimously voting for this monstrosity, Republicans began righteously protesting $8.3 billion of earmarks in Harry Reid's omnibus spending bill. They seem not to understand how ridiculous this looks after having agreed to a Stimulus II that even by their own generous reckoning has 38 times as much spending as all these earmarks combined ... But don't be fooled by defensive style or thin-skinned temperament. The president is a very smart man. How smart? His comeback is already a year ahead of Clinton's."
Others were not so impressed by Krauthammer's argument. Writing for "The National Interest," Jacob Heil pointedly asked, "Why is Charles Krauthammer afraid of Obama?"
"Krauthammer focuses on the politics, arguing that Obama's base has nowhere else to go. But it could. It could, in fact, go nowhere. On election day. That alone could jeopardize Obama's reelection chances. The real question is whether Obama is going to morph into the slayer of old-time liberalism.

He was elected on the expectation that he would revive the Democratic party. But what if he does it by completing the Clinton revolution? It's worth asking what will be left of liberalism after one, or especially two, terms of Obama. Obama is talking about using the tax cut program deal as a template for reaching other compromises with the GOP on issues such as reforming Social Security.... But whether this really turns him into the cunning chameleon that Krauthammer purports to see is another question. The blunt fact is that Obama can do all the trimming he wants, but if unemployment remains at 10 percent he's most likely a one-term president."
Paul Begala, who knows a thing or two about triangulation, expressed the frustration oft-repeated by progressives that the President's vaunted political skills were rarely in evidence to fight for the issues he had pledged to champion during the campaign:
Former Clinton aide Paul Begala, while admitting that the president has been “impressive,” echoed the sarcastic reaction of many of Obama’s fellow Democrats who wanted him to take on the fight against the GOP’s insistence on extending tax cuts to the rich.

“Imagine what he could have done to sell a position he wholeheartedly believed in,” Begala said, adding that it “confirms my own belief that if President Obama had chosen to fight, he would have won. “He could have forced the GOP to cave, created more jobs and done less damage to the deficit. First shotgun wedding I ever saw where the groom held the gun to his own head.” 
Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings may well have written the epitaph of this so-called "compromise" which is in essence a Republican bill: “The game is rigged in there,” he said, pointing to the door leading to the House floor. “We’re walking into their trap.”

So why is Chris Matthews favorably comparing this tax bill so-called "compromise" to the British evacuation at Dunkirk in World War II? For all of his giggly giddiness, Matthews has his historical analogies totally wrong. To say the President made a "strategic retreat" like the British did at Dunkirk is ridiculous. The Brits staged an all-out evacuation to save their hides from annihilation by surrounding German forces. In so doing, they cut their French allies loose.

Matthews took the opportunity to smear the French résistance with a broad brush of silly historical revisionism. His snarky remarks about French collaboration with the Nazis utterly disregarded the bravery of French resistance fighters, including François Mitterand, the late great French Socialist president. But that's the side show. According to Matthews's reading of history, the British evacuation "saved the British Army to fight again; they avoided catastrophe." Fair enough, but they also became very junior partners to the mighty Americans.

It can reasonably be argued that the downfall of the British Empire began at Dunkirk. Less than two years later — ironically, roughly the same time frame that President Obama negotiated for this tax deal before its provisions expire at the height of the 2012 election — the fall of Singapore to the Japanese became "the largest surrender of British-led military personnel in history. About 80,000 British, Australian and Indian troops became prisoners of war, joining 50,000 taken by the Japanese in the Malayan campaign. Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the ignominious fall of Singapore to the Japanese the "worst disaster" and "largest capitulation" in British history."

Fleshing out Matthews's analogy, the British averted disaster at Dunkirk but in the process they ceded the offense to the Germans. After their "strategic withdrawal" to fight another day, for the next year the British were literally fighting for their lives — an existential struggle against the German war machine that became their "finest hour" in the Battle of Britain, as the RAF beat back superior German air power to head off the invasion of the British Isles.

Through the worst of it, the British could not have survived without the vast supplies and war materiél "borrowed" from the United States. In a brilliant stroke of political genius to bring along the reluctant American people, FDR declared the U.S. the "Arsenal of Democracy." The program was called "Lend-Lease." In 2008 U.S. dollars the sum total borrowed on very generous terms by Great Britain (which received most of the aid), the Soviet Union, France, and other allied nations was equivalent to $759 billion, or about $100 billion south of this package of tax cuts funded with borrowed Chinese money.

In the short term, for all the bravery of the RAF flyboys, it was the massive infusion of U.S. aid that ultimately saved Great Britain from capitulation to Nazi Germany. The aid was delivered by perilous convoys running the Atlantic corridor teeming wih "wolfpacks" of German U-boats. In the long term, it presaged U.S. entry into the war as Britain's senior partner and the world's preeminent superpower in a transformed global post-war landscape that would usher in a new world order.

Actually, Chris Matthews hit the nail on the head with his WWII comparison of Britain's "strategic withdrawal" from Dunkirk to Obama's tax "compromise," presumably so the President can get some wins for the American people and survive politically to fight another day. Dunkirk was a "strategic withdrawal." The Battle of Britain was a major victory. The fall of Singapore was a major setback. Then the United States entered the war and FDR became head honcho and chief strategist.

Left to Right: Speaker of the House, John Boehner, Senior PATRON Hu Jin-Tao, Junior 
Partner President Obama, and Senate Military Governor Mitch McConnell. (Democratic Party, RIP.)

 Although Chris didn't say it — he didn't have to — President Obama was being giddily compared to Chris's hero, Winston Churchill. But even if the President's political skills are of Churchillian dimensions, it would be well to remember the history. All of it. Churchill's patron and banker, FDR, increasingly called the shots. Despite Churchill's indispensable leadership during Britain's darkest hour, at war's end Britain was bankrupt and the fabled British Empire, upon which "the sun never set," was in shreds. Then the unthinkable (to American observers who revered Churchill as a great man) happened. Churchill lost the election of 1945 to a no-name bread-and-butter candidate from the Labor Party.

Mr. Matthews should take heed of that old Chinese proverb, "beware what you wish for." If President Obama is Winston Churchill and the signing today of the so-called tax "compromise" with borrowed Chinese money was his Dunkirk, then it will have been a short-lived Pyrrhic victory presaging the final fall of American Empire. It was a great run, from the Battle of Midway in the Pacific in 1942 to the cut-off date, the election of 2012, when the bills come due. As for Obama's FDR, his patron and banker's initials are HJT. They stand for Hu Jin-Tao, President of China.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"My Generation:" Rachel Maddow Fesses Up to Her Psychedelic Trippy Hippie Phase!

Rachel's shocking revelation on Letterman: "I think GLENN BECK was the most talented radio personality of my entire generation ..." [PRIMAL SCREAM PAUSE: AAAARGHHHEEEOOWW!]

On the other hand, if Rachel was tripping off the Far Side of the Moon while absorbing in her mind's EYE "incredibly performative... he inhabited all these different characters, he would do all these voices, it was very entertaining, really funny, really fast-paced, very unpredictable, surprising, very good."— Rachel, Are you EXPERIENCED?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Strange Juxtaposition: Senate Passes $858B Tax 'Compromise', Government Shutdown Looms

How's that for a pregnant metaphor of everything perceived to be wrong with Washington?

There's an omnibus appropriations bill coming up, which would keep the government running for another year. If it isn't passed by Saturday, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, their side's chief negotiator of the $858B tax 'compromise' deal warned the government runs out of money this Saturday. Naturally, the 'compromising' Republicans rejected both the Democratic omnibus bill and a House continuing resolution; they want their CR passed — or else.

Senate Republicans are in a box, having passed a measure against earmarks, under pressure from the Teabaggers. Now they must defend their own earmarks and posture against the Democratic bill.

Meanwhile, back in the House the shifting sands of opposition are blowing the Republicans' way; if the rumors of Teabagger opposition are to be believed. Now that they've lost their Koch brothers and Chamber of Commerce funding, their deafening silence may actually signal the withering on the vine that typically fates faux astro-turf groups whose usefulness to their corporate masters is expended.

Republicans want President Obama to own these tax cuts so they can blame him for any veto pushbacks on  making permanent the tax cuts for the rich and the temporary Social Security-raiding payroll tax cut (a clear and present danger to Social Security). It's a cynical political calculation; but if it's worked before, what's to say it won't again. The President has made noises that he'll stand fast against Republicans on these issues, but we haven't seen it yet. Hope is a four-letter word, too.

American history professor Joseph A. Palermo articulates the view progressives take on this very political craven tax 'compromise':
"Bush's tax trap set nearly a decade ago sprung right on schedule to ensnare a Democratic president. It's slightly ironic that a President who big corporations have targeted with hundreds of millions of dollars to destroy would turn around and give them and their CEOs everything they ever wanted. Stuffing more cash into the already bulging pockets of billionaires and millionaires, after a 30-year period that has created Gilded Age levels of inequality, is unwise public policy sure to come back to bite Obama later. Yet he skips happily into the mouth of the wolf.

Larry-O The TV Screenwriter Tries Political Fiction ‘Rewrite’ On His Show

The caustically obnoxious, incessantly boastful, and unfailingly myopic Lawrence O’Donnell must have felt that liberal bug prick his triumphalist ego with misplaced hubris as he slouched toward a self-indulgent yawning segment of ‘backstage drama’ involving the Clinton-Obama get-together per Robert Gibb’s ‘TRUE WEST WING STORIES’. Watching the rambling, back-slapping gabby Gibby powder-puff interview wind down I thought, considering my own prediction that this must be another Larry-O vehicle to boast yet again, “Is it possible, having dropped the hint-hint ‘West Wing’ reference O’Donnell will actually NOT assault the viewers with another self-serving reference to his TV screenplay for the fictional political show?” No such luck.

(“As *I*! PREDICTED,” INTONED Larry-O earlier about a most predictable tax deal outcome … think Keith doing Larry-O’s wingnut Fox alter ego, Bill-O the Clown, with the pitch-perfect pompous voice of vain and incompetent faux news anchor, Ted Baxter.)


The Ted Baxter moments kept on coming:


Steny Hoyer: “I was surprised at the number of votes (in the Senate), but not that it passed pretty handily …”


But the most comical segment (for those still watching) was Larry-O the TV Screenwriter trying to get his guests to admit President Obama had ‘hoodwinked’ Republicans based on a widely touted (in Idiot Punditocracy circles) Charles Krauthammer column whose dubious claims and unverified numbers made for predictable Beltway consensus: The President’s ‘brilliant’ triangulation prospects for his 2012 reelection confirmed, he rolled willing Republicans, slammed angry progressives, as only wingnuts and Teabaggers — and Charles Krauthammer — smelled a rat.

Unfortunately for Larry-O, his guests didn’t exactly buy into the premise.

Bob Greenstein said, paraphrasing, ‘it all depends on how the economy performs, and whether the President can hold the line’ against Republicans. It sounded so much like the progressives' argument all along that Larry-O X’d the segment! Then John Fund of the Wall Street Journal declared victory for conservatives: “This agreement is a major philosophical shift for liberals; they’re not acknowledging it, they won’t acknowledge it, but it happened.” Seeing as things weren’t going so well for his POV, Larry-O declared unilateral victory for the President and Krauthammer’s premise; moving right along …

On last night’s program, O’Donnell quoted Ghandi, of all people: “There is nothing that wastes the body like worry.” Ya think, Larry-O? It’s easy to speculate from one’s comfortable ivory tower that politics is the ‘worry’ wasting the body. But no one can actually survive on politics. For most Americans not of such privileged station, surviving day-to-day, finding a job, feeding their families, and keeping a roof over their heads is the genuine ‘worry’. Not surprisingly, O'Donnell omitted the second clause of that Ghandi quote: “…and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.”

O’Donnell inadvertently stumbled upon the RADICAL RIGHT Jim DeMint Republican position: Starve the beast of government with unsustainable deficits, and for all those middle class Americans treading water, seniors dependent on Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid transplant patients in Arizona (a precursor of things to come nationwide as more states make massive cuts in Medicaid) denied life-saving transplants, the unemployed — well, they’ll just have to fend for themselves and have FAITH THAT GOD WILL DELIVER. This is a song about when God, the "joker", doesn't deliver. As Brazil pulls itself out of the misery hole of poverty (halved by President Lula), it seems that Arianna Huffington's Third World America is sliding backward toward Brazil.

This isn’t a knock on Ghandi. He was one of the great figures of the 20th century. I studied him in college. Ghandi preached asceticism and advocated for Indian independence from the British Empire (what the Teabaggers refer to as a "tyrannical government") through satyagraha, nonviolent civil disobedience, noncooperation, and economic boycotts. As with our Civil Rights movement, Ghandi’s civil disobedience may have tactical applications for oppressed Americans, e.g., refusing to “cooperate” with bank foreclosure orders — but it is hardly a sustainable model short of all-out revolution. The Last Word is the President and the Democratic Party are still, symbolically at least, on the people’s side.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Back to The Future: Joan Walsh Called The Swindle of The Decade

It takes something of a ‘Beltwaytologist’ to sort out the Washington Beltway politics of tax cuts for the rich and let us eat cake for everybody else. ‘Fascinating’ even, if not for the fact that millions of real people’s lives are at stake. When Chris Matthews tells a guest he or she is “really smart!” it means the opposite. Without fail. Not that his fellow pundits from POLITICO or the Times or WaPo are stupid. They’re not. But any opinion they may impart to elicit this reaction from Chris amounts to Beltway conventional wisdom.

Joan Walsh of Salon, an infrequent guest on the Matthews show, hasn’t heard those words from Chris. She's one of those really smart people, a class act who seems to unnerve Matthews and, hilariously, other guests like buttoned-up Republican operative Ron Christie and Tea Party Don, Dick Armey — hence Matthews doesn't have her on very often. Joan should wear it as a badge of honor. In 2001, as Congress was poised to pass our ‘lost decade’ Bush tax cuts, this is some of what Joan wrote. You can read the entire article here. These are the highlights:
“[P] perhaps Buffett's attack on Bush's proposed repeal of the estate tax will breathe some life into the demoralized, strangely listless Democrats (the Gilded Age meets the Gelded Age), who don't appear to understand how crucial it is to beat back Bush's brazen tax proposal.”

“That proposal, which gives a staggering 43 percent of its largess to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans (though they pay less than a quarter of the taxes), is the foundation of his new world order, a bold attempt to shape the nation's social, economic and political dynamics on behalf of wealthy conservatives for many years to come.”
In the following passages remarkable for her crystal ball-like prescience, Joan predicts exactly what happened when the George W. Bush regime took power. It should be noted that President Obama’s model is Clinton, with the notable exceptions that Clinton raised taxes to pay down the debt, and used the fiscal discipline bludgeon to compel Republican “compromise” on expanding programs for the poor listed below. President Obama’s “compromise” is adding to the deficit and placing tremendous pressure on slashing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as Republicans pivot to blame him for the red ink. Especially those incoming (literally, to use the military metaphor) newly-elected reactionaries who did not vote for the deal. But even those who did will brazenly flip and blame the President for the deficit on the time-honored GOP theory of blind faith in the public's attention deficit disorder.
“Clinton paid down the Reagan-Bush deficit by raising taxes slightly on the top brackets, while slowly but steadily (even a little stealthily) expanding programs for the poor, working and middle class, delivering almost $70 billion over five years with such programs as the expanded earned income tax credit, new child health programs and extra subsidies and tax breaks for college tuition.”
This paragraph, in a nutshell, describes what Bush should have done, but didn’t:
“Now, with surpluses looming, a new president has no excuse for failing to tackle the remaining problems of our winner-take-all economy — shoring up Medicare and Social Security before the baby boomers stampede toward retirement, fixing our broken health insurance system, and expanding and reforming Head Start and other education programs for poor kids. No excuse, that is, unless he gives away the surplus to his wealthy friends, risking enormous deficits in the process.”
Not surprisingly, Democratic capitulation to Republican demands on outrageous tax cuts is not a recent phenomenon:
“But it wasn't until the Dems inexplicably rolled over, announcing they would be willing to support an $800 billion tax cut (Vice President Al Gore had proposed only a $500 billion cut), that it began to seem inevitable. ”
Reaganomics Redux under Bush-Obama. Only this time David Stockman is not aboard:
Naturally, Republicans always try to disguise the fact that it is the ultrawealthy who are the main beneficiaries of their tax cuts. In 1981, after the passage of Ronald Reagan's first tax-slashing federal budget, Reagan's budget director, David Stockman, shocked Washington by admitting that the administration's tax reductions for middle-class Americans were "a Trojan horse" to disguise massive cuts for the rich. The statement wasn't a shock; Stockman's honesty was.”
President Obama’s recipe for Clintonesque triangulation is spelled out in Joan’s analysis of the Reagan years. It’s trickle-down Reaganomics, right out of the disastrous Reagan playbook. Can you spell ‘double down’, anyone?
“[T]he Reagan tax cuts served as a Trojan horse, masking their most dramatic, and intentional, long-term impact — beggaring the U.S. Treasury in order to force program cuts and spending freezes the Republicans didn't have the political clout to achieve directly. By 1984, the Reagan tax cuts had created a $200 billion budget deficit (Reagan and Stockman had promised the budget would be balanced by then); in total, Reagan and Bush quadrupled the deficit between 1980 and 1992. They screwed the economy, but they triumphed politically, by ruling out new government spending and depriving the Democrats of their traditional means of appealing to their core constituencies — problem-solving new social programs — turning them instead into the party of deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility.”
What she said, back in 2001, came to pass ten disastrous years later:
“When the Democrats — and the nation — might have reaped the benefits of fiscal discipline, with a responsible series of programs aimed at curing America's social ills, along comes another Republican president who doesn't even bother with a Trojan horse to disguise his goals of handing the surplus over to the rich, to make sure the nation can't afford new social spending … And we may well wind up with Republican budget deficits, too.” [BINGO!]
How about this … sound familiar?
Like Bush, Reagan insisted his tax cut was just the right medicine for what the Great Communicator called a "soggy" economy. The Reagan camp insisted that massive tax cuts would lead to a balanced budget, or even surpluses — despite their plans for huge new military outlays — because the rich would invest more of their money, and earn more, leading to higher tax revenues. Reagan and his team called their new plan "supply-side economics," though skeptics like George H.W. Bush, running for president in the 1980 Republican primary, called it "voodoo economics," and GOP congressman turned independent presidential candidate John Anderson predicted it would lead to massive deficits. They were both right.”
President Obama had better make sure there’s ink in his veto pen, because he’ll need it to try and stem the coming Republican onslaught against the poor, the disadvantaged, the unemployed and structurally unemployed, students, Social Security and Medicare recipients, healthcare. What Joan describes below, the cruel heartlessness of Republicans, is exactly what will play itself out if this last-gasp massive tax cut gamble does not improve the economy more than many economists predict. How secure should we feel about holding the line on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, student loans, and a host of other programs that benefit the middle class and the working poor? With this President’s penchant for ‘compromise’… it isn't disloyal purist sanctimony for Democrats to be very concerned.
“They achieved almost $40 billion in budget cuts in their first year — eliminating the CETA job training program, affordable-housing subsidies, the poverty programs of the Community Services Agency and legal services for the poor — and made sure Democrats wouldn't be able to restore the cuts, or enact new social programs, for many years to come. They didn't get everything they wanted on that score — Stockman proposed "zeroing out" Head Start, for instance, the program now beloved by even Republicans.”
The picture becomes clearer once historical context blows aside the fog of news cycle politics. I love history because it’s so critical to our understanding of who and where we are, and where we are going. In order to understand where we are NOW, we must also understand HOW we got here. Joan closes the circle with this 2010 essay:
Winner-Take-All Politics delivers its message in neon-bright numbers, but they are numbers all the same. The charts depicting the increasing gap between the uber-rich and the rest of us will blow your mind — if you like charts. The narrative is lively, yet wonky. If you want to get its wisdom, you're going to have to sit still for some statistics. Here's what I thought was most important:
  • The richest 1 percent of Americans now take in almost a quarter of national income, up from about 8 percent during the Carter administration.
  • Their after-tax income rose 256 percent in that same time, while the middle fifth of the country saw its after-tax income grow by about 20 percent.
  • In roughly the same period, the percent by which taxes and government benefits reduced inequality dropped by a quarter.
  • Had national income grown the way it did in the generation after World War II, that middle fifth would have earned $12,300 more income; the top 1 percent would have earned almost $700,000 less.
The Gilded Age gave us the Progressive Era; the Depression yielded the New Deal, and that approach to blunting capitalism's sharp edges and expanding opportunity persisted, ironically,  through the Nixon administration. Obama and the Democrats had an epochal opportunity to change the terms of the political debate and begin another era of renewal in 2008, and they haven't managed it yet. They still have a chance, but the window is closing, and voters are losing faith that Democrats are up to solving the nation's problem. How Obama handles the GOP's tax challenge could determine his party's fortunes, and the country's, for many years to come.

The party has been caving to the wealthy since the Carter administration. Will anyone stand up for the rest of us?”

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Someone Who LOOKED Like ED SCHULTZ Hosted The Ed Show From White House Lawn Friday!

Just Funnin' Big Eddie With a You-Know-What Theme:

Sign of The Times: Huff Post's Deceptive Lead Headline of The Day

If you were to take a wild guess against the backdrop of the President's craven compromise with Republicans and subsequent pushback from House Democrats, what would you say this Huffington Post headline is about? If you said progressive Democrats are 'warming' to the President's position after much fence-mending with his liberal and progressive base, and sweeteners added to win over recalcitrant votes in a rekindling of the spirit of 2008 — you would be WRONG.

The story actually is about UN consensus and agreement on climate change, with the subhead: "UN Summit Inches Forward on Climate Change." Although ... next week's Beltway political headline could well be: "House Democrats Inch Forward on Tax Deal." Meanwhile, our planet is going to HELL in a Teapot.

What Ishmael Reed Doesn't Understand About Progressives

In a New York Times op-ed today, distinguished American poet, essayist, and novelist Ishmael Reed argues that progressives are upset at President Obama for “keeping his cool” where progressives would like “the president to ‘man up’ in the face of the Republicans. Some want him to be like John Wayne. On horseback. Slapping people left and right.”
“One progressive commentator played an excerpt from a Harry Truman speech during which Truman screamed about the Republican Party to great applause. He recommended this style to Mr. Obama. If President Obama behaved that way, he’d be dismissed as an angry black militant with a deep hatred of white people. His grade would go from a B- to a D.”
The clip in question was played by progressive radio host Thom Hartmann. President Truman was not screaming when he said, “the Democrats are for the people. The Republicans are for the special interests. They've always been for the special interests.” It is a simple statement of fact. It is stunning for Mr. Reed to argue that in 2010 our President must be constrained from repeating this Truman truism — even if he quotes it without the air quotes used to say Democrats felt “quote unquote betrayed”— because he happens to be African American.
Mr. Reed noted, “I pointed out to a leading progressive that the Tea Party included neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers — and he called me a “bully.” He believes that the Tea Party is a grass-roots uprising against Wall Street, a curious reading since the movement gained its impetus from a rant against the president delivered by a television personality on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.”
This passage is absurdly unrepresentative of liberal and progressive values and of how fiercely progressives have pushed back against Tea Party racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and xenophobia. It is, for Mr. Reed, an unseemly smear of progressives. In the center-right political spectrum occupied by the Beltway elites, progressives and liberals are the sole ‘outlier’ speaking truth to power and upper class privilege to the gilded media millionaires tasked with disseminating the New American oligarchy's message.

Liberals and progressives are unique in not legitimizing the so-called ‘Tea Party’ as a mainstream political movement, any more than the American Nazi Party or the KKK are mainstream. We see the so-called ‘Tea Party’ for what it truly is: an ultra-conservative unrepresentative political movement populated by the self-same extremist elements Mr. Reed describes. Some of us prefer “Teabagger” with a capital ‘T’ as the more accurate designation. The reason is simple: If you belong to an organization that has in its ranks racists, anti-Semites, birthers, xenophobes, and homophobes, who or what does that make you?
Mr. Reed continues his misguided critique against liberals and progressives with the offensive inference that we are spoiled whites: “Unlike white progressives, blacks and Latinos are not used to getting it all ... When these progressives refer to themselves as Mr. Obama’s base, all they see is themselves. They ignore polls showing steadfast support for the president among blacks and Latinos.”
With all due respect to Mr. Reed, liberals and progressives have earned for ourselves the appelation of President Obama’s “base” because our liberal activism and militancy was crucial to his election in 2008. Furthermore, it was not liberals and progressives who stayed home in the midterm elections, but the blacks and Latinos Mr. Reed speaks of in the President’s 2008 coalition. Despite Mr. Reed’s mistaken belief, progressives and Latinos are not mutually exclusive.

 As for the constant, condescending Beltway refrain, “where are progressives going to go” the honest answer is, it depends. If the economy tanks in spite of the so-called ‘Stimulus II’— absent the transfer of wealth to the rich funded by borrowed Chinese money — with anemic job creation and economic recovery, there might well be a primary challenge to the President, regardless of what progressives do. Likewise, an independent challenge to the President, from right or left, remains an open possibility, regardless of what progressives do. It all depends on the pace of job creation and economic recovery, not on the transient politics of who pisses whom off or who’s up and who’s down that so fascinates the Idiot Punditocracy.

Contrary to the Beltway elites’ self-indulgent and self-congratulatory predictions, their economic IQ is about a 9.8. In his best-case scenario, Paul Krugman predicts the economy will do “okay” in 2011. Unemployment could dip between a half to one point. Once the short-term tax cuts end going into an election year in 2012, what are the chances the President will fight to (a) end the tax cuts for the rich, (b) end the outrageous (Paris Hilton) estate tax 35 percent giveaway to what it would have been absent the craven compromise, 55 percent, (c) permanently extend the middle class tax cuts, and (d) get another one-year extension in unemployment benefits?

Knowing this president’s MO, he’ll probably make the half-loaf argument, that two-out-of-four ain’t bad. In dollars and cents biggest bang for the buck, the 50-50 formulation just won't add up. Not even close. If it’s options (c) and (d) it’s pretty much curtains for the embattled middle class “over the long haul,” as the President likes to say.