Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
The headline is one for a March 10 article by Josh Harkinson at Mother Jones, subtitled, Meet the progressive insurgents who are riding a wave of energy from the Occupy Wall Street movement.
?Occupy? is in quotes because there isn?t an Occupy party, or as far as I can tell, official endorsement of any of these candidates. Each apparently does have some kind of connection with OWS, some from participation, others by way of positions supported by the movement. Movements don?t have to organize for electoral politics in order to have an influence.
Maybe that?s a part of Harkinson?s point. But ? especially with his accompanying piece about one of the ten, Ilya Sheyman (below) ? concerns about co-opting are raised again. I?m not the only one with questions. For example, see lambert at Corrente, ?MoveOn weasel and Obama lifer Ilya Sheyman tries to hijack Occupy brand in Illinois Tenth District House run.?
A bit more about that later, but first, from Harkinson:
Unlike the tea party, the Occupy movement hasn?t involved itself much in elections. But that hasn?t stopped a slew of progressives and political outsiders from capitalizing on the movement?s energy. Here?s a rundown of 10 electable House and Senate hopefuls who, one way or another, have made Occupy part of their campaigns … .
Hakeem Jeffries (New York): Running for NY?s Tenth Congressional District. He?s addressed Occupy rallies. ?Prospects: Fair.?
Lori Saldaņa (California): ?joined a rally organized by Occupy the Courts in protest of Supreme Court rulings that give corporations the rights of people. Prospects: Good.?
Alan Grayson (Florida): ?Nobody running for Congress has done more to side with Occupy Wall Street … . Prospects: Excellent. …
Norman Solomon (California): ?… running to fill an … open congressional seat that includes ultra-liberal Marin County … . He has (made) … the movement a central focus of his campaign. Prospects: Fair to Good.?
Eric Griego (New Mexico): ?One of the most progressive members of the state senate, Griego gave a speech at Occupy Santa Fe … denouncing corporate personhood? and ?signed Occupy Santa Fe?s ?99 Pledge,? a commitment to vote for rigorous campaign finance reform. Prospects: Good.?
Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts): Warren … didn?t back down when Republicans tried to tie her to the movement?s extremist factions … . Prospects: Good.?
Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin): ?She earned kudos in November from the Occupy crowd for sponsoring a resolution opposing any government deal that grants criminal immunity to banks. … Prospects: Excellent.?
Wenona Benally Baldenegro (Arizona): ? … has renounced campaign donations from corporate lobbyists and supports taxing the rich and public financing for elections. … Prospects: Fair.?
Hansen Clarke (Michigan): ?Sponsoring legislation to forgive student debt has made the Detroit Congressman a hero to thousands of college kids involved with Occupy. … Prospects: Good.?
Ilya Sheyman (Illinois): ?A 25-year-old former national mobilization director for MoveOn.org, Sheyman has made Occupy?s message of shared prosperity a key theme of his campaign. … Prospects: Good.?
An accompanying piece, is focused on Sheyman.
?What excited me about Occupy was that the target of this anger and frustration was finally the right one,? says Ilya Sheyman, who stepped down as national mobilization director for MoveOn.org early last year to compete for a seat held by a vulnerable GOP congressman. ?I think … people feel like, ?… we?ve changed the national conversation. Now we have to change leadership in Washington and deliver on that.??
Sheyman has an Obama history.
In 2004, Sheyman campaigned on behalf of … Barack Obama. The next year, he went to work for Obama?s Senate office … before joining his boss? presidential campaign. ?This was the campaign that got me excited about the idea that we could make progress in this country,? he says, though he?s quick to acknowledge that Obama?s presidency hasn?t lived up to everyone?s expectations.
?I think what happened after [the election] is a lot of us said, ?Our work is done. We?ve elected Barack Obama, we have a Democratic House and Senate, we are going to see the change that we want.? But the reality is, it takes ongoing organizing and mobilizing from the grassroots level to make all the progress we?ve got to make.?
An analysis, from lambert:
Obama can never fail! He can only be failed! (Somebody should ask Mr. Sheyman whether Obama tossing OFA away like used Kleenex as soon as the election was over had anything to do with a lack of ?ongoing organizing.?)
My thoughts: Ongoing grassroots engagement is absolutely essential. That doesn?t remove responsibility from, in this case, Mr. Obama.
… While the Occupy protesters typically eschew direct involvement in electoral politics, Sheyman believes that the movement has created the space to talk about the things he cares about. ?When we started this campaign a year ago, every question was about … the deficit,? Sheyman says. ?Now the questions we hear about are how do you put people to work, how do you restore fairness to our tax system? That is a result of that shift in dialogue that Occupy has caused.?
The Democrats in Washington had thirty years to ?change the national conversation?, didn?t do squat, and Occupy did their job in six months, therefore you should give the Democrats your money. And your time. And your vote.
… How stupid do they think we are? Do you invest in the people who made the change? Or the people who didn?t make the change? Do you reward practice? Or mal-practice? …
I think the Duopoly thinks ?we the people? are quite stupid. Or at least that in general, willing to keep voting two partiers into office indefinitely, damn the unchanging consequences. We need more than two parties.
The stories relate the former officials’ advocacy to have the Mojahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) — a group with a long and winding history that was founded as an armed revolutionary group in Iran in the 1960s — removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of “foreign terrorist organizations.”
In addition to Rendell, NBC reports, Treasury’s Department of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces sanctions and international financial regulations, also requested records from the speakers’ bureaus of former F.B.I. head Louis Freeh and former Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Hugh Shelton. Shelton denied wrong doing:
We’re all pretty miffed. None of us involved in this would say a good word about anyone suspected of being a terrorist.
But the MEK is not only suspected to be a terrorist group, they are designated as such by the U.S. government. (That designation is under review because of a court order, but no decision on reinstating or withdrawing it has been forthcoming from the State Department.) An Obama administration official speaking to NBC made the point:
This is about finding out where the money is coming from. This has been a source of enormous concern for a long time now. You have to ask the question, whether this is a prima facie case of material support for terrorism.
Many of the some 40 former officials who advocate for the MEK to be delisted receive high speaking fees for speeches to pro-MEK conferences and rallies both in the United States and in Europe, where the leadership of the group is based. Further complicating matters, some of the speakers work with stateside groups that support the MEK, but are not part of the organization itself. The NBC story, however, mentions at least one incident — which it suggests was a catalyst for the wider probe — where the political wing of the MEK, the National Council for Resistance in Iran (also a designated terror group), worked directly with U.S. speakers’ bureaus:
A small Pennsylvania-based speakers firm called Speakers Access wrote an email in September inviting a Washington based national security expert to speak at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland “on behalf of our client, National Council of Resistance of Iran, Foreign Affairs Committee.”
Reporter Justin Elliott, at the time with Salon, broke a similar story in September of a different speakers’ bureau that was offering cash for speaking engagements on behalf of the NCRI.
In an article that would appear to be a poorly-executed parody of Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz’s (R) right-wing beliefs it Cruz had not posted it on his own website, the Tea Party stalwart touts a truly ridiculous conspiracy theory about George Soros secretly partnering with the United Nations to come into our cities and eliminate our right to play golf:
In 1992, the United Nations adopted Agenda 21 to ?achieve a more efficient and equitable world economy,? outlining a process to eliminate environmental decay and social injustice through micromanaging industries, communities, and culture. They will meet again next year to discuss its ?progress? in over 100 nations.
The originator of this grand scheme is George Soros, who candidly supports socialism and believes that global development must progress through eliminating national sovereignty and private property. He has given millions to this project. But he is not the only one promoting this plan; in fact, the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) now consists of over 600 cities in the United States.
Agenda 21 attempts to abolish ?unsustainable? environments, including golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads. It hopes to leave mother earth?s surface unscratched by mankind. . . . Agenda 21 subverts liberty, our property rights, and our sovereignty.
In reality, Agenda 21 is a twenty year-old non-binding resolution which speaks largely at a very high level of generality about reducing poverty and building sustainable living environments. The United States is one of 178 nations that signed onto this non-binding agenda — and we did so during the Bush Administration. So if Agenda 21 actually were a nefarious Soros plot to destroy paved roads and take away our sacred right to golf courses, it has worked very badly. Two decades after Agenda 21 was produced, Ted Cruz himself is still allowed to sell golf shirts on his website with minimal intrusion from UN peacekeepers.
Sadly, however, Cruz’s conspiracy mongering about George Soros’ war on Tiger Woods is par for Cruz’s course. When Cruz isn’t inventing fantasies about international plots to turn fairways into rough, he invents unconstitutional proposals to nullify federal laws or calls for a radical rereading of the Constitution that would lead to Medicaid and most federal education programs being declared unconstitutional.
There’s no word, however, on whether Cruz believes that the Constitution provides all of us with an inalienable right to play eighteen holes at Pebble Beach.
If you thought the weather this winter was warmer than usual, you’re right. Last week alone, over 2,600 weather records were broken, including over 1,000 new high temperature marks nationwide. Overall, this winter will go in the books as the fourth-warmest on record. The unusual weather has already done considerable damage to the agricultural sector in the South, particularly in drought-ravaged Texas.
Now, forecasters are warning of another weather-related danger: an early start to storm season, as evidenced by a powerful Michigan twister reported on Thursday which caused considerable property damage. Forecasters report that one cause of the severe weather was warmer-than-usual air temperatures:
The severe thunderstorm warnings came as much of the country east of the Rocky Mountains enjoyed yet another day of unseasonably high temperatures. Forecasters at Accuweather.com said that warm air was helping to fuel Thursday’s storms.
“It’s just so warm that we’re seeing thunderstorms pop up like popcorn the way you see it in the summertime,” said Dave Samuhel, a meteorologist at Accuweather.com.
The Thursday tornado had winds of 135 miles per hour. It would be the earliest recorded date a tornado that strong touched down in Michigan, according to the Tornado History Project. And as the National Weather Service reported yesterday, 36 states forecast warmer-than-average weather this spring, which could make storm season even worse.
Unfortunately, climate deniers still hold considerable sway in some circles, even if they have to “throw out 150 years of physics” to make their case. But as climate scientist Jim Hurrell noted, ?The planet is getting warmer and it will continue to warm, on average, as we go into the future.? That spells trouble not just for Tornado Alley, but potentially for the entire country.
Today, President Obama’s re-election campaign came out in opposition to Amendment One, which would ban all same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships in North Carolina. According to Cameron French, Obama’s North Carolina spokesman:
FRENCH: While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples. That?s what the North Carolina ballot initiative would do ? it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples ? and that?s why the President does not support it.
(HT: AMERICAblog Gay.)
I may find Glenn Beck’s schtick repellent, based as it is on demonization of Beck’s perceived enemies and conspiracy theories. But six months after his Glenn Beck TV launched, it’s relatively clear that Beck’s efforts to build a stand-alone television channel have been successful: 300,000 people are paying either $9.95 per month or $99.95 per year for access to the network, which they can access on their computers, iPads and iPhones, and on their televisions through streaming players like Roku. Between subscriptions and advertising, GBTV is going to make $40 million in its first year.
It would be fascinating to know how many of these subscribers are signing up only so they can get access to content that stars Beck. Obviously, he’s the big draw for the network, but he isn’t alone?GBTV offers documentaries, a survivalist reality show, news analysis, even something called “Liberty Treehouse,” which is described as “a destination for the after school crowd that explores the whys and wherefores of the day’s news through the prism of the next generation.” In other words, it’s presenting itself as a fairly complete alternative for the small but monetizable audience?about 13 percent of those who tuned in to see Beck on Fox when he was broadcasting there?who want all of their programming through Beck’s worldview.
And I think that’ll probably be the model for stand-alone, web-based channels that get off the ground in the future. As much as folks like the idea of saving imperiled but deeply beloved shows like Community through Kickstarter-like campaigns or a subscription model, I actually wonder if a plan like that would be more likely to succeed if you packaged a show you were trying to save with some other programming. I’d pay for a standalone network that included, I don’t know, Community, The Guild, Husbands, and a couple of other shows, web-based or otherwise. Networks like Beck’s will be part of a move away from bundled cable as we know it now. But whatever we get to in the end, whether it’s a choose-your-own package kind of deal or the ability to pick from curated blocks of programming, I don’t think we’ll devolve as far as buying a single show at a time.
As we’ve noted, Republicans are are bogging down an attempt to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank — which helps companies access capital to sell their products abroad — on the grounds that it’s too much government intrusion in the free market. The agency isn’t even funded by taxpayers (though the agency does provide loan guarantees that are backed by tax dollars), but conservatives are still throwing a fit about Democrats’ desire to reauthorize the agency and increase its loan limit from $100 billion to $140 billion.
One of the loudest corporate voices arguing against the bank’s reauthorization is Delta Airlines, while one of the loudest arguing against it in Congress is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). And as Politico noted today, Delta and Cantor have more than this policy agreement in common:
A sleepy Export-Import Bank debate in Congress has blossomed into a corporate political brawl matching the powerful Boeing Co. lobby against Delta Air Lines, represented here by a close friend and supporter of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
The issues are bigger than the personalities, affecting billions of dollars in U.S.-backed loan guarantees supporting the overseas sale of Boeing aircraft. But with pivotal Senate votes now scheduled for Tuesday, Cantor is without a doubt the crucial broker for the House. And Boeing is hammering away at his close ties with Delta lobbyist and confidante Andrea Newman ? even as it fields a small army of its own.
If it seems David vs. Goliath, Newman, as Delta?s senior vice president for government affairs, comes with a BlackBerry instead of a slingshot. In an anecdote Cantor?s office denied Friday, he is said to have once emailed her about an aviation bill while still in a members-only meeting with the White House on the subject. And the two enjoy what?s described as a genuine family ? University of Michigan ? friendship even as she helps him raise campaign funds.
In addition to gumming up the works on the ExIm bank, Delta has been on the wrong side of many a policy fight recently. It’s worst work was pushing Republicans to include a union-busting provision in a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, while ultimately led to an FAA shutdown.
As CAP’s Sabina Dewan has explained, the ExIM bank (yes, in addition to providing some help to giant manufacturers like Boeing) is crucial for smaller exporters that have a hard time accessing financing. But it’s evidently more important for Cantor and crew to throw Delta yet another bone, at the expense of the wider economy.
enlargeThere's something so deliciously ironic, so perfectly just in this. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Rush Limbaugh has a new sponsor anxious to buy up lots of ad space on his show: Westboro Baptist Church. Is there anything more delicious than the idea of the haters advertising on the hater's show?
Premiere Networks has released a statement saying they will not accept any ads from the group. Who knew they had standards of what Limbaugh maligns as "political correctness."
?As a matter of fact, I can confirm that,? Westboro spokesman Steve Drain told Hatewatch today when asked if the church was seeking to advertise on ?The Rush Limbaugh Show.? ?We?re preparing our first ad at this very moment, and we?ll have a 30-second radio spot ready to go by Friday.?
Drain said he has been in contact with ad executives, but added that the Westboro spots will have to be produced before they are accepted or rejected. The radio ads would be posted as audio links Friday on the church?s websites, the Westboro spokesman said.
For its part, Westboro sees a natural affinity with Limbaugh, Drain said, but the first ad won?t mention those commonalities. ?The ad?s message will be that America is doomed because Americans have cast aside the standards of God, and won?t quit their proud sinning,? the Westboro spokesman said.
Westboro also agrees with Limbaugh?s remarks about Fluke, Drain said, and will attempt to impart that message in the church?s second radio advertisement.
?That lady basically believes she wants the government to pay to kill her babies,?? Drain said in comments that closely resembled those delivered earlier by Limbaugh. ?That implies a certain level of promiscuity. She wants to fornicate her brains out, but she doesn?t want a child. Sounds like a slut to me, and God hates sluts.?
Well, really? God hates sluts? Funny, I always understood that God doesn't hate anyone. I can only assume that Drain The Westboro Spokesman might need a little "Church Chat" to remind him of who is possessing him right now. Who could it be, who could it be?
Update:David has the ad up on VideoCafe.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has claimed to have a "laser focus" on jobs. He has failed spectacularly, as you can see in the graph above comparing employment change in six Midwestern states, with Wisconsin lagging dramatically behind its neighbors.
While governors don't have total control over everything in their states' economies, when other states in your region of the country post jobs gains and your state struggles to break even in the private sector at the same time as you are laying off public sector workers, leading to an overall loss ... well, that's on you. The Economic Policy Institute's Doug Hall points out why laying off public sector workers would hurt other workers, too:
Because public sector workers are a vital part of every state economy?firefighters, teachers, police officers and department of health officials all buy clothing, groceries, and movie-tickets just like private sector workers?laying them off hurts us all by reducing economic activity, which holds back the recovery.Walker used jobs to justify his assaults on public workers and his efforts to hand over any possible advantage to big business. But a year of data gives us the big picture: If he was "laser focused" on jobs, apparently that laser was set to "destroy."
One thing that has gone unremarked upon in the continuing story of Latino disdain for the Republican Party?and its desperate attempt at damage control?is the degree to which Sonia Sotomayor?s nomination to the Supreme Court was a pivotal event for the GOP?s relationship to the Latino community.
More than almost anything else, her nomination was defined by the viciousness of her opponents. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, for example, declared that she was unfit for the Court because of her service in an ?extremist? organization, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, a well-regarded nonprofit group. Former Bush advisor Karl Rove attacked her record and qualifications, while conservative writers like the National Review?s Mark Hemingway disparaged her as ?dumb and obnoxious.? If you?ve forgotten?it?s been three years, after all?you can watch this clip from Media Matters for a taste of the abuse Sotomayor received from the Right:
According to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and a whole host of others, Sonia Sotomayor?described as ?frighteningly smart by her colleagues?was little more than a racist, unqualified lout who was hired on the basis of her race and gender?an affirmative action hire, in other words. Even now, Republicans use Sotomayor as the basis for attacks. In an ad he ran against Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney cited the former Pennsylvania senator?s vote for the Supreme Court justice as a *detriment.?
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that Latino voters, despite their diverse backgrounds, act with a sense of linked fate?they reward politicians that support the broad interests of Latino voters, and oppose those that don?t. The symbolism that came with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court was a powerful force, and Republicans intentionally positioned themselves against it. In his response to Mitt Romney?s anti-Sotomayor ad, Angelo Falcon?president of the National Institute for Latino Policy?said it best:
?This unprovoked attack is another example of how Romney and the Republican Party are pushing the Latino vote to Obama?They forget that Judge Sotomayor is an icon for the Latino community. It?s like attacking Martin Luther King or George Washington, for blacks and whites.?
It?s obvious that Barack Obama is held in high esteem by African Americans, but it?s wrong to take that as endorsement of his administration or his policies. Rather, for a lot of black people, Obama?by definition, almost?represents the best of the black community. He is what countless African Americans aspire to see in themselves and their children. When we look at pictures like this one, we see some of ourselves, and that inspires a powerful sense of pride. For that reason, attacks on his intelligence and qualifications are extremely wearying?if Barack Obama isn?t good enough for those who doubt the ability of black people, who is?
I think there?s something similar happened with Sotomayor and the Latino community. If the best of the best?Princeton grad, federal judge?isn?t good enough for those hostile to Latino immigrants, then what is? It?s not hard to see how this would inspire deep anger toward the Republican Party and its supporters.
In other words, for as much as we focus on anti-immigration rhetoric as the reason for Latino disenchantment with the GOP, it might be time to consider the Sotomayor nomination as a key causal factor that calcified Latinos against the Republican Party. It?s one thing for someone to oppose your policies, it?s something else for them to oppose your heroes.