Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Editorial: What Happened and Now What?

Tom122007 Other than the Open Thread, already posted, this will be today’s only article here.  I’m sure you all know that the unthinkable has happened.  Scott Brown has defeated Martha Coakley for the Senate seat previously held by Teddy Kennedy and JFK before him.  The spread was five points, so it wasn’t even close.  I knew it was over when I heard the recriminations coming out of MA, even before the polls closed.

First, lets take a look at what happened.

The problem began during the primary, when the Massachusetts party and corporate Dems threw their weight behind Martha Coakley, when the more progressive Michael Capuano could have better represented the party’s progressive agenda.  Capuano had the support of Michael Dukakis and Nancy Pelosi.  As a candidate, Coakley was a disaster.  She actually went on vacation from 12/19 through 1/5.  That’s half the final month’s campaign time!  She displayed all the charisma of a wet dishrag.  Brown, like other accomplished con men, drips charisma.  She did not take take Brown seriously.  She allowed him to define himself and did not expose his record that proves that, when he says “the people’s seat”, the “people” are all rich, white, sexist, homophobic bigots.  She did not make herself available to voters and, when asked to define her views, she answered in political doublespeak.

MASS-Shame We could not have put up a worse candidate, and the national party took the seat for granted as she did.  However, this election goes way beyond Coakley.  She was running against Scott Brown, for goodness sake!  If the Democrats put up a mentally retarded, flatulent chimpanzee, with halitosis and BO, who masturbates in public and throws feces at the crowd, any fool in their right mind would vote for that monkey over Scott Brown!  Why didn’t they?

The demographics of the election were clear.  There was a strong voter turnout among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.  The Democrats were heavily in favor of Coakley, and the Republicans goose-stepped behind Brown.  There’s nothing unexpected there.  With three times as many Democrats as Republicans, that was good for Coakley.  But the race turned on the independents, who comprise 51% of the electorate.  They voted heavily for Brown.  Why would they do that when these same people delivered Obama a huge spread just over a year ago?  They are angry, and that anger goes beyond the inept Martha Coakley.

When Barack Obama campaigned for President, he promised “bipartisanship” and “change we can believe in”.  Readers of the previous incarnation of this blog will remember that I repeatedly said that the two are mutually exclusive.  One cannot effect change while attempting bipartisanship with an entity that refuses to compromise on anything.  Obama had a choice.  He could choose bipartisanship or change, but he tried to have both.  The result was “business as usual”, not “change we can believe in”.  Now I’m not saying that Obama accomplished nothing.  He accomplished quite a lot.  But his attempts at bipartisanship foiled the major items on his agenda.

On health care, Obama promised a national plan that covered everyone and provided the choice of a public option, paid for by raising the income taxes on people making over $250,000 per year.  Instead of designing what he wanted and pushing it through Congress, he left it to Congress to craft, eventually turning it over first to Max Baucus.  Instead of Obama’s plan, Baucus delivered BARF (Baucus Against a Real Fix), which is now the basis of the Senate Bill.  From there the Nevada Leg Hound, Harry Reid, humped every GOP and DINO leg in the Senate, weakening the bill even further and loading it with special deals to buy votes.  The resulting bill is a monstrosity that voters cannot understand.  Therefore they were easily confused by the lies from big health care and the GOP, and over 50% now oppose it in its present form.  In Massachusetts, this was exacerbated by voter fear that they would have to pay more for others’ health care when they already have their own universal plan.

repo2 On the economy, Obama promised to side with Main Street against Wall Street.  Instead he associated himself with Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Ben Bernanke, the same corporatist conservatives who enabled the Wall Street banksters’ greed that caused this financial crisis.  He allowed Republicans and DINOs to reduce the amount of and water down the stimulus package.  He did these things in the spirit of bipartisanship, and bipartisanship defeated change.  Now the banksters are reaping huge bonuses from profits earned speculating with our money while refusing to lend that money to Main Street.  When voters see this, they feel justifiably angry that this is not the change they voted for in 2008.  It’s the business as usual they rejected.  In Massachusetts, the economy was the key issue.  Brown presented himself as the “change” candidate.  The voters, desperate for change and seeing business as usual, fell for the lie.

On foreign policy, Obama did promise to expand the war in Afghanistan, and at the time, the majority of Americans supported it.  In the spirit of bipartisanship, Obama has kept Gates at Defense and left the Bush/GOP ideologue generals, Petraeus and McChrystal in charge.  Since then, the corruption of the Bush/GOP puppet, Karzai has made that expansion untenable, and the majority of Americans have turned against the war.

On transparency, Obama promised it, but he has shielded the Bush administration from investigation and prosecution by continuing to cover-up their crimes in the spirit of bipartisanship.

Progressives, feeling abandoned, were not energized to work to convince Independents to vote for Coakley.  This may have been the principal difference in the race.

Now it may appear that I am blaming Coakley’s defeat on Obama.  I am not.  In my opinion, Obama has depended too heavily on the wrong advisors.  They have led him astray.  Obama needs to become the strong leader he promised to be.

Second, let’s look at where we go from here.

First, we need to start to enforce party unity.  We no longer need traitor Joe Lieberman to be the 60th vote.  Since he is the principal reason the health care bill became such a mess, the time to strip him of his Homeland Security Chair is now.  In addition, Senate Democrats need to be informed that siding with Republicans against Obama’s key priorities will cause them to be stripped of their leadership roles and cut off from party funding when they face reelection.

Second, we need to pass health care reform.  There are a couple ways we can go.  One is to pass BARF as is in the House, coupled with a deal to fix it using the Reconciliation process, including the addition of a strong public option.  The alternative is to start over using Reconciliation.  That has the disadvantage that certain reform elements, such as the ban on denial of coverage for preexisting coverage and rescission for illness, cannot be included.  They would have to be proposed separately, subject to GOP filibuster.

Third, we need to fire the corporatists in Treasury, regulate Wall Street seriously, impose a steep windfall profits tax on banksters, and increase the income tax on the very rich.  We can use the money to reduce the deficit and fund jobs programs.

Fourth, we need to start withdrawing our military from Afghanistan.

Fifth, we need to deliver on the transparency Obama promised.

Sixth, and perhaps most important of all, we need to abandon bipartisanship completely.

I’m sure there is much more that I have not covered, but to summarize briefly, unless the Democrats actually become the party of change promised in 2008, we will face severe losses in 2010, and in 2012 we will return to No Millionaire Left Behind, with a generous dose of Theocracy, as we goose step into the future at gunpoint.


One Fly said...

May as well get used to it as it's gonna get worse.

Lisa G. said...

One Fly - I read you article yesterday - it's very good and I encourage everyone to read it.

I agree (as I most always do!) TC, with you 1000% on this one. Very succinct and accurate description of what went wrong.

And as for that Coakley beeatch, I want to smack her in the face for losing Teddy's seat to a teabagger. She's gonna get her ass ripped when she gets up there by Teddy himself. He might even kill her again. :)

Mauigirl said...

Very well put, TomCat. You really summed up the problems the Democrats are having and why they are having them!

Joe "Truth 101" Kelly said...

It's like said TomCat. The republicans are still in charge long after Bush is gone.

Jack Jodell said...

I agree with you on these points and I think you have done a very well-reasoned summation here. I would also suggest that it is vital for the Democrats to stop all attempts at being Republican Lite and BOLDLY move forward with their own agenda. I firmly believe the decline of the Democratic Party began in the mid 1970s, when it quit being the party of workers and average people and started its rightward plunge into corporatism. In my view, the only thing worse than a modern-day Republican is a corporate Democrat, which, incidentally, would have actually been a liberal Republican 40 years ago, before Reagan and Gingrich were able to push our political spectrum so far to the right. The Democratic Party, and the overwhelming majority of our country as well, badly needs a strong return of the pro-labor, highly progressive Democratic Party that existed from 1930-1975!

Jack Jodell said...

Lisa G,
I don't know who you are, but I have been very impressed with comments I have seen you leave here and elsewhere. I looked at your profile and saw that it didn't contain much info and that you do not list a blog of your own. I think you should start one, as I believe our world really needs to hear more from you! Thank you.

Jo said...

Very good analysis, Tom (from the dumb blonde here in Canada...) I think Coakley's confidence in winning the election just reflects a confidence that the Democrats are having generally, and they needed a wakeup call like this.

"Obama needs to become the strong leader he promised to be." You can't blame Obama, you can only blame the people who believed his promises, and put him into office. Today is the first anniversary of his presidency, and so far he has shown no indication of keeping his "promises". The emperor wears no clothes.

You folks need to start looking around for a strong Democrat to represent you, or you will end up with Republicans in the White House again -- perish the thought.

Holte Ender said...

A big problem with the Democrats is that they have to be bi-partisan within their own party, it's all very well calling it "A Broad Church" to me that's another way of saying "A Political Party That Cannot Agree With Each Other On Anything Controversial."

Infidel753 said...

If the Democrats put up a mentally retarded, flatulent chimpanzee, with halitosis and BO, who masturbates in public and throws feces at the crowd, any fool in their right mind would vote for that monkey over Scott Brown! Why didn’t they?

Because the candidate they actually did put up was even less appealing than that?

I agree with you that the Democrats were hurt by too much bipartisanship. If the health-care bill hadn't had its most popular provisions removed in order to appease Lieberman, voters would have been more motivated to protect it.

I think your six-point program would be a good way forward (other than #4, obviously), but the only way to get a decent deal on health reform is the first of your two options -- pass the Senate bill in the House and tweak it as much as possible using reconciliation. Starting over from scratch, in today's much more intimidating atmosphere, is unlikely to produce anything better than the first time around. If reconciliation can't pass a bill to fix recission and pre-existing condition rejections, it's a non-starter. Those are the worst of the very abuses this was intended to fix.

The question is not what the rules allow the Democrats to do, but what they have the guts to do.

Lisa G. said...

Thank you very much for the compliment - I really appreciate it. I haven't started my own blog for 3 reasons 1) I'm really lazy :) ; 2) I get so much information from all you guys and I feel like I would just be repeating myself and 3) it would be filled with curse words, because patience is a virtue, just not one of mine. :)

I do read a lot (the husband says waayyy too much) and from different perspectives. I love being informed; the husband has said I should run. That would be all fine and good if I could get my back to hold up for more than 3 days. And I tend to be emotional when pissed off. The husband is much calmer, so I'm training him to run. I'd just get pissed and tell someone to f off. :) That would be the end of the campaign.

Again, thank you for the compliment!

As for Teddy, he may resurrect himself to take back his seat. "Get the fuck outta my way, I'm taking my seat back! I was just faking that whole dying thing."

Lisa G. said...

I just posted this on Jack's blog and thought I would post it here too.

Jack, I can't disagree with a word that you have said and strongly agree that we need to put forward more progressive candidates. But, I think there are other reasons to add to this: the economy and Obama. If the Dems do not get their heads out of there asses (which will be a feat it and of itself), pass this healthcare bill and DO something productive towards getting this economy back on track, then we are doomed in the fall. Also, some of this lies on Obama's head - he did not push hard enough on healthcare, Rahm sold us down the river, and Obama has not been forceful enough on the economy.

Here's what I think needs to be done:
- Lieberman: Strip him of his committee head, period. Baucus too.
- Harry needs to step down and a real progressive take his place.
- Obama needs to get a jobs program together, fast. Say we're using the repaid TARP money.
- Extend the unemployment benefits.
- Come down on those banks that are not re-financing mortgages. Fine them, penalize them, tax them. I don't care - make them pay. They are getting incentives to do it and they STILL are not following the rules. Sic the SEC, GAO and the banking regulators on them until they comply. Have Obama come out and say they have a "moral obligation" to do it.
- Remove the other provisions of TARP with the $14T of guarantees. TBTF should fail.
- Create a leverage tax so that these firms can't leverage themselves so heavily against their assets. This will ensure that they play by the rules, it will reduce their income and bonus pools, and eventually force them to break themselves up.
- Renact Glass Stegall.
- Cut off the blue dogs financing unless they tow the line. In other words, start acting like the Republicans.
- Get this BS fillibuster shite out of there. The Repubs passed horrendous legislation with 51 votes all the time. There is no reason why we should not do that too.

I'm sure there is more, but that's all I have for now.

Unknown said...

So very sorry to hear this Tom.

We here see Brown's victory as a vote against Obama.

Does he deserve to be voted against because he wants health care for all Americans? I believe America has a serious problem. Americans can't seem to recognize/accept that universal health care is the very tenet of caring for the rich as well as for the poor -- it's how civlisation should evolve. (I assure you, I'm as anti-Communist as one can get, yet I also believe in equal opportunities for people, that no one should have the right to live better than the next just because that one has more money than the other).

Universal health care epitomises the dogma that the state has a responsiblity to its citizens just as the citizens have a duty towards the state...

What will happen to those millions of Americans who have no access to universal health cae because they are poor? Let them die?

Unknown said...

(I assure you, I'm as anti-Communist as one can get, yet I also believe in equal opportunities for people, that no one should have the right to live better than the next just because that one has more money than the other).

Tom, I'm referring to the right of a citizen in need of health care...

Middle Ditch said...

Political nincompoop here just passing by to say hi

TomCat said...

Fly, that's an excellent article, and I agree with your key points, but as long as I can fight for change, getting used to it is not on my radar.

Thanks Lisa. I would not want the job of cleaning the poo out of Teddy's coffin.

Thanks, Mimi.

Truth, I remember I posted during primary season that the Democrats could take power for decades, given the havoc laid on our nation by Bush and the GOP, as long as the Democrats did not self-destruct, which they seem to have a unique ability for doing.

Jack, I thought that's what I said, but if I was not clear, thank you for clarifying what I meant. Lisa's blog, "That's Why" is in our blogroll. Go harass her. ;-)

Josie, if Obama does not straighten up and fly right, I would support a primary challenge by a strong progressive in 2012.

Holte, I agree. The big tent got too big.

Infidel, nobody is required to agree with me on everything. ;-) I tend to agree on health care, if a reconciliation deal; can be struck with the Senate to fix the problems and include a strong public option.

Lisa, I'm afraid I exposed you. Now jack will be visiting you too. ;-) Your points expand on my own, and I agree. Unfortunately, to kill the filibuster, with less that 67 votes, we have to wait until the first day of the next session, which is not until next January.

Thanks, Anna. The US needs to follow Europe's example in this.

TomCat said...

Hi Monique. You have enough to keep track of with Brown. (UK Brown, not MA Brown).

rjs said...

weird...this post has been up all day and no one has yet suggestted that the cause for coakley's loss was that the patriots got knocked out of the playoffs and voters took out their frustration on her...

Kentucky Rain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kentucky Rain said...

TC: I echo the thoughts of all who responded to your post. It was a damn good one and I agree with you on all points except withdrawing from Afghanistan. We cannot do that yet, but I am not going into the reasons why in this forum. Life is too short.

I am a reluctant Democrat primarily because of the election of that fool- of-a-Bush and also because of the fat cat syndrome that exists on the Right. That being said, however, once drafted always loyal is my motto. I agree that the president should NEVER have left HCR to the Congress much less to the Finance committee and that idiot Grassley. I also agree that this bi-partisan bull shit needs to end now. We need to strip Liebermann of his credentials and punish all who try to follow in his dwarf like footsteps.

Finally, and most importantly, we need to convince that large group of "progressives" who are hell bent on hating the president because they disagree with some of his decisions, to keep their voices down. It is alright to disagree but some of them have become downright vicious, a la Tea-Bagger. This level of disloyal behavior supports the Right as evidenced by the Massachusetts election.

ivan said...

This has reduced me to Dada.

...That cartoon in the nineties where de Cockus went after big Bush.

now bush after Brown?

Lisa G. said...

TC - Lisa (without the G.) has the blog "That's why". I don't have a blog, which is why I post as Lisa G.

TomCat said...


Mike, we agree on all points except (respectfully) Afghanistan. Since I got your original post, I hope you can appreciate that just running this blog is often like two pounds of you know what in a one pound bag. :-)

TomCat said...

OOPS! Ivan, I'm afraid you lost me on that one, but I'm sure it's funny. :-)

TomCat said...

Lisa, is that a split personality or is your alter ego missing her G spot? ;-)

Jolly Roger said...

Capuano was SO much better. I was stunned that Coakley wound up being the one offered up.

And you know, I don't even know why I was surprised.

Jack Jodell said...

Lisa G,
It wouldn't bother me a bit if you swore through each and every post, so long as you always demonstrated the knowledge and clear reasoning you've been expressing in your comments! You are always welcome at my site. Keep up the great work, and thanks for everything! :-)

Lisa G. said...

TC - I'm so not going there.

Jack - I will be back, I really liked what I saw! You do some fine work over there. Your post on Haiti was excellent.

Leslie Parsley said...

An incredible analysis - very thorough and perceptive. Have enjoyed reading the multitude of comments as well. A lot of intelligent folks here.

The president's attempt at bipartisanship was noble, but as we know now and knew a long time ago, it hasn't worked. I don't do this often but I emailed the WH explaining my frustration with it. Hopefully Obama will bury the idea.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

TomCat, there are creatures at the Zone who would volunteer to run for office on your platform, but one is a cephalopod and the other is a dinosaur. Both would present another "Birther" problem. So we decided to draft you instead.

rjs said...

FYI, if youre not looking at tomcats blogroll: Brown Robo Calls Arizona For Mc Cain

TOM said...

I wish Obama had not given away so much to get Republican votes, he was never going to get anyways.
Those deals turned voters off.
He could have passed this bill during the Summer, if he were not so bent on getting a Republican vote.
Did he really think he could call it bipartisan, if he got one, or two Republican votes?
I don't like this bill either. I'm a single payer guy.
Now what? According to the news, Obama is already seeking compromise on any ways he can get a bill passed.
I don't like the sounds of that either.

Cellophane Queen said...

We the people told the Dems: Do something different! However, they failed to listen, and the weaker-minded of the left side didn't understand that voting for a freaking asshole was the wrong thing to do.

Okay, trying to avoid weirds that being with F-, S-, C-, etc., I can only assume that the Massachusetts voters are out of their freaking minds.

All right. Back to studying immigration into real countries like Canada. Is the US a failed State. It's getting damned close.

otis said...

TC, I like your proposals. I am on the bubble about Afghanastan. I understand why, but I am starting to disagree with the how (Especially with a son in the Army 2 years into a 6 year stint currently serving a tour in Iraq)

I did draft this idea and Lisa thought I should throw it out there:
Banks for Business:
Place the tax on all businesses with a bonus pool of over $1 billion. Just tax the pool directly at about 50%. Oh, and if a company isn't a bank with a billion dollar pool, I am willing to exempt, if they had no lay-offs in the United States.

Use that money to offset the business part of the plan whereby employer payroll tax is suspended for one year for every employee that is hired within the next six months. All employees hired after the six months will have 6 months of payroll tax exemption.

Second part of the business tax relief is that business can take off in tax percentage equivalent percentage the amount that they increase their workforce for fiscal year '10 of the government calendar. There will also be a bonus of 1/12 of 1% for every month that they carry that amount of workforce on their books. There would be an additional provision that they can take some mathmatic formula of percentage (I have the formula in my head, no time to explain) as they build their workforce to whatever percentage. There are no tax credits with this plan. (Don't want a mom and pop quadrupling their shop asking for money. Sorry, we can't afford it.)
We also would need the Leverage Levy that I mentioned in another post. (appropriate for today's comic, I might add.)

The White House would also have to eliminate from the budget, as a deficit and an addition, the remainder of the TARP money.

We also need a 'Departure Fee', kind of like an airport tax. If a company closes a facility in the US to open it in another country or transfers all of the responsibilities to an offshore facility (Not company, facility) within a year of closing the US facility, that company is responsible for continuing to carry the worker's benefits for no less than 6 months, or when they find other work, the company must pay for unemployment for the workers for the sum of 12 months of unemployment. This total will be calculated from the total number of workers that were employed at the facilities height.

Once again, it is business as usual on the Hill, so I am not at all worried that something like this will be passed, proposed, considered, or even looked at twice. No matter how much sense it makes. Maybe if I put in a 'free Bible' provision I could get a Republican to look at it...

gabrielle said...

With the loss of Massachusetts, the dims have a ready pretext for failure. Tell me what was their excuse when they had the White House, an enthusiastic mandate and a filibuster proof majority? Sold us down the river by bailing out banks “too big to fail”, caved in to insurance interests and big pharma, and opted to support the military industrial complex instead of investing at home. There are 2 corporate parties in this country, both bought and paid for, sucking up to big money. You can blame greed, a flawed electoral process, a complicit media, or us for allowing this to happen.

With Obama, so many were star struck by his charisma that they failed to ask him what he meant by change. He became a table raza for progressives to project their vision. I am afraid we still don't hold him accountable. Obama chose his advisors and elected to follow their advice. Goldman Sachs alumnae were subsidizing Wall Street while Stiglitz remained a voice in the wilderness. While 70% of the American public supports national health care, there was not one advocate for single payer at the table. In the end, when all the trading was done, the public option was disposable. A request for a list of visitors which would have exposed lobbying activities initiated by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington per the Freedom of Information Act was deftly thwarted by the White House. So much for transparency. In the meantime, lucrative contracts were renewed with the lawless mercenary company Xe formerly known as Blackwater, whose CEO has a deep and troubling history with “The Family”.

Thank you, TC for your thoughtful and informed analysis. I agree with the goals you have highlighted and was interested to read everyone’s comments.

The question remains about developing effective strategies. Here are some thoughts for how to move the agenda forward:
get involved on a local level with issues you care about.
engage in dialogue with colleagues, family, friends; reference reliable news sources.
help to elect progressives to office.
begin to build coalitions – labor, immigrant rights, ecology, peace, human rights, media reform. Work on reconciling ideological differences in the spirit of building a broad based progressive movement.

I’d be interested to hear any ideas that people have for moving forward.
Difficult times create opportunities to make deep and sustainable change.

rjs said...

FYI: bruce krasting has an excellent article on The Consequences of the Mass. Election

also, from the post mortem at This was a state in which Democrats had twice changed the rules governing Senate succession, first in 2004 to prevent then-governor Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican to take John Kerry's seat (should he have been elected President), and then again last year to allow Deval Patrick to appoint an interim appointee. Moreover, because it was a special election, the time frame of the campaign was dramatically compressed, making it harder to define the Republican opponent or to recover from any initial missteps in the campaign.

TomCat said...

JR, I agree. It surprised me too,

Jack, I agree. She's a treasure.

LOL, sorry Lisa. :-)

Thanks Tnlib. Good idea.

Welcome, Octopus. LOL!! My health would not permit that, among other reasons to decline.

Thanks, RJ.

Tom, it doesn't sound good at all. The House leadership now says the Senate bill has no chance.

Marva, there will come a day that the voters of Massachusetts will rue the day they acted as fools.

Otis, I like your ideas..

Gabrielle, Obama actually spelled out what he meant by change quite well during the campaign. Sadly, it bears little resemblance to what we have seen. I like your ideas for grass roots coalition building.

Thanks RJ.