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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 283

    Two weeks ago I wrote about how Germany, by rejecting right wing trickle down policies and using working-class based government aid kept its people working during the Great Bush Recession and so is recovering far faster than economies that used the right wing model (like the United States). Seems I am not the only one to pick up on this. From the Campaign for America's Future:

    Germany's Economy Shows Government "Interference" Works

    You might be surprised to learn that Germany pays higher wages, has strong unions, has much more government involvement and is doing better as a result. Conclusion: our wages, unions and government are not the problem, they are the solution...

    In Germany, workers also get six weeks vacation - by law, federally mandated, a right. They get health care, university, child care and pensions and as a result they have higher productivity. In Germany, the government requires worker representatives to hold seats on the boards of directors of companies, depending on the number of workers. Government-funded research and vocational training, and policies to retain skilled workers bring another competitive advantage. Germany values manufacturing and the government has an industrial policy. The government is currently helping promote green manufacturing, for example.

    The result of all this government interference is that Germany's export-oriented manufacturing economy recovered from the recession and is doing OK, and their workers are paid well and have great benefits...

    Our adherence to conservative free-market ideology is clearly holding our country back. The ideology is designed to transfer wealth from the public to a very few, and hold the lead of the already-dominant. This is killing market innovation and it is destroying our competitiveness and standard of living. We should be looking at what works for the country instead of what keeps the few at the top at the top...

    Like I said two weeks ago...isn't it time we stop with the failed trickle-down policies? They just don't work!

    Been talking to a lot of my readers about the current situation and keeping up the faith in good solid liberal/progressive politics. Well, truth is we are in tough times and I knew we would be at this point...the Bush legacy was too much to fix in 2 years and the right wing Greedy Oil Party too tenacious for this all to be easy. Plus we have had the audacity to elect the first black President of the United States EVER. So it was always going to be tough and we have reached that tough point.

    But it is NEVER easy being a progressive or liberal. Simply put progressives and liberals have as their political philosophy to stand up against the big money and power interests in favor of the underdog. THAT is what we do. Well throughout the entirety of recorded history, money and power win easier than standing up for the underdog. So we have CHOSEN a tough path and we should never expect reform to be easy. But that doesn't mean we aren't right. To take an extreme example, it must have been DAMNED hard for Britain to stand alone against Nazi Germany in the dark days of the Battle of Britain when it seemed standing up for what was right was going to die a horrible death to the shrill sound of German Stukas.

    But it is the strength of the progressive and liberal that we tend to be stubborn as hell. And I know I am known as much for my hardheadedness as almost anything else.

    Change is hard. Lots of money, inertia and power is against us. But we are, at least mostly, in the right. So dig in, keep your eyes on the prize, and hold on. Because we have a lot to do and we won't accomplish it without a lot of effort.

    So if you are feeling discouraged, remember that not one single important change has ever happened easily in history. One of my main roles is to help you, the activists on the ground, find a way to be effective. So let me know where you are and what you need and I have a pretty extensive catalog of organizations, efforts and people who are fighting for what you are and I am happy to help you hook up with others in your area who can make a movement...we WILL bring change. But it will always be less than we hope for, take longer than we hope for, and will be fought by more money and power than we can muster. So we need to counter that money and power with sheer determination and patience. That is where I am coming from and I am here to help you do the same. Let me know what you need to build the fight in your area and I will do what I can to help you build a movement that can get SOMETHING accomplished. Add it all together across the country, across the blogsphere, it WILL be a power to be reckoned with...will it be enough? We shall see.

    As for Obama, I know many people do not see him as holding the line enough against the Republicans. I feel the same way, however I think sometimes the disappointment in what he doesn't do obscures what he does accomplish. He got us the auto bailout over the screaming objections of the right ring and thus saved millions of jobs.

    Over at Culture Kitchen, fellow blogger Liza Sabater has a good analysis of the tax deal, showing that despite his caving on one major Republican demand (Bush's tax cuts for the very rich) he held the line on several other key points that help the rest of us...and the majority of the tax benefits go to the working and middle class thanks to President Obama. Here is the breakdown Liza presents:

    The breakdown:
    53.1% Middle Class AMT (OBAMA)
    3.3% Expensing Provision (OBAMA)
    4.2% Tax credits for working families (OBAMA)
    6.2% Unemployment Insurance (OBAMA)
    6.6% Regular tax extenders such as R&D credit
    13.5% High-Income tax cuts and Lincoln-Kyl estate tax (GOP to the top 2%)
    13.2% Payroll tax holiday (OBAMA) [Editor's note: I think this one is GOP too]

    So I really don't like that he caved to the Greedy Oil Party on the 13.5% that goes to the top 2%...but much of the rest is good.

    Over at Daily Kos, another fellow New York blogger, BrooklynBadBoy, had an interesting piece that I think helps to explain President Obama and how he is handling the Presidency. From that article:

    President Obama has brought change to Washington, but the change he has brought isn't about changing America. America is pretty much the same place it was before he arrived. His change was and still is about changing the political process. He's been running a long time on this theme. He's always made it clear he wanted to "make Washington work." By work, he means passing laws. By any reasonable measure, he's certainly signed a lot of laws these last two years, including a couple of big ones. I certainly do not believe the president is in any way stupid or a charlatan. Nor do I believe he is weak. At least not in the "weak-willed" sense of the word. The president is, in my view, a non-ideological institutionalist. He isn't for or against anything in particular.

    You'll hear him often make stirring comments about the goodness of process. "We'll have a debate" he'll say, as if this were a rallying cry. "Both parties have good ideas," he'll say, as if it were true. It seems to me that the outcome of the process isn't something he has a vested interest in ensuring. He says, often in fact, that "all options are on the table" or "I'm willing to listen to anybody." Once he told the media that he had successfully convinced Pentagon officials of his DADT position. As if they were not under his command! It doesn't matter to him what the results of the debate are, so long as there is one. He doesn't see himself as an advocate, but an arbitrator. The worst thing for President Obama to deal with is not a bad outcome, but a bad process. It is a mistake to believe that the president doesn't have a preferred outcome and that it isn't often progressive. He does, but he isn't willing to disrupt the process over it with political fights. He believes that whatever a calm, orderly process produces is what is best, even if he disagrees with the results. Even if it occurs in backrooms. Perhaps this is why so many Democrats are scratching their heads trying to figure out what the president believes. What his motives are. What his politics are.

    President Obama believes government should be by negotiation and consensus building, not by intimidation and force of will. This, in itself, is not a bad approach. However, it does risk losing to the almost violent strategy of the Republicans and can give the impression of not standing up for anything. I will say that in this he is much like President Clinton who also had genuine ideals and values, but believed in negotiation and consensus building. And Clinton was able to patiently stand up as the reasonable leader against the insane rantings of the Gingrich Republicans. Clinton won in the end in public opinion and at the polls, but at the expense of some good policy. To Clinton and Obama risking actually getting things done for the sake of standing to strongly for one or two ideals is not worth it. I am not sure I agree, but I am also not sure I disagree. I know for my part I stand much more strongly on ideals and particular issues than President Obama, but perhaps he needs you and me pushing hard for those ideals and issues and we need him finding the way to get things done. In the long run (though not always in the short run) perhaps the combination of our grassroots pushing and his top-down negotiating will hit a good balance...or so I hope.

    Here is this week's newsletter:


    Beware of Bank of America: screwing the customer as a business model

    California Focus: Green Power Switch

    Orange County, CA Focus

    Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley/San Gabriel Valley, CA Focus

    San Diego, CA Focus

    Silicon Valley Area, CA Focus

    California 11th District Focus: San Joaquin, Alameda and Santa Clara Counties

    Northern California Focus: TAKE BACK RED CALIFORNIA

    Southern California Grassroots Alliance


    NYC FOCUS: NOW Statement on WalMart Sexual Discrimination Suit and WalMart in NYC

    Brooklyn, NY Focus

    Manhattan, NY Focus

    Bronx, NY Focus

    Queens, NY Focus

    Rochester, NY Focus

    Suffolk County, NY Focus

    New York 19th District Focus: Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Westchester Counties


    Colorado Focus: Green Power Switch

    Denver, CO Focus

    Boulder County, CO Focus

    Larimer County, CO Focus

    Douglas County, CO Focus


    Florida Focus: Green Power Switch

    Tampa/Hillsborough County, FL Focus

    Broward County, FL Focus

    Orange County, FL Focus

    Pinellas County, FL Focus


    Virginia Focus: Green Power Switch

    Charlottesville/Albemarle County, VA Focus

    Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania County, VA Focus

    Stafford County, VA Focus

    Hanover County, VA Focus


    Michigan Focus: Green Power Switch

    Detroit, MI Focus


    Wisconsin Focus: Green Power Switch

    Madison, WI Focus

    Milwaukee, WI Focus


    Arizona Focus: Green Power Switch

    Phoenix/Maricopa County, AZ Focus


    New Jersey Focus: Green Power Switch

    Sussex County, NJ Focus

    Warren County, NJ Focus

    Passaic County, NJ Focus

    New Jersey 7th Congressional District Focus


    Washington State Focus: Green Power Switch

    Seattle/King County, WA Focus

    Spokane County, WA Focus

    Thurston County, WA Focus


    North Carolina Focus: Green Power Switch

    North Carolina Focus: NC-5 District Focus (Stokes County, Statesville, Surrey County, Iredell County, Watauga County, Yadkin County)

    North Carolina 11th District (Cherokee, Graham, Clay, Macon, Swain, Jackson, Transylvania, Haywood, Madison, Buncombe, Henderson, Polk Counties)


    Illinois Focus: Green Power Switch

    Chicago/Cook County, IL Focus


    Pennsylvania Focus: Green Power Switch

    Lancaster Co. PA Focus

    Philadelphia, PA Focus


    Minnesota Focus: Green Power Switch

    Minneapolis, MN Focus

    Olmsted County, MN Focus


    Georgia Focus: Green Power Switch

    Atlanta, GA Focus

    Coweta County, GA Focus

    Fayette County, GA Focus


    Blatant Texas Republican Anti-Semitism

    Austin/Travis County, TX Focus

    Houston/Harris County, TX Focus

    Dallas County, TX Focus

    Texas 10th District Focus: Bastrop, Lee, Burleson, Washington, Austin, Harris, Waller Counties

    Texas 15th Congressional District Focus: Hidalgo, Brooks, Duval, Live Oak, Bee, Jim Wells, Karnes, DeWitt, Goliad, San Patricio, Refugio Counties

    Texas 21st District Focus: Travis, Kerr, Real, Bandera, Kendall, Comal and Blanco Counties


    Tennessee Focus: Green Power Switch


    Iowa Focus: Green Power Switch

    Davenport/Scott County, IA Focus (my father's hometown!)


    Nevada Focus: Green Power Switch

    Las Vegas, NV Focus


    Oklahoma County, OK Focus


    Arkansas 1st Congressional District Focus

    Arkansas 3rd Congressional District Focus



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