Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Tea Party Article

Monday, August 1st, 2011

This is a pretty interesting read. I love putting current events into historical context.

How the Tea Party Won the Deal
By Peter Beinart
The Daily Beast – 8 hrs ago

While the details of the debt ceiling deal remain fuzzy, this much is clear: Barack Obama may be president, but the Tea Party is now running Washington. How did this happen? Simple; this is what American politics looks like when there’s no left-wing movement and no war.

Let’s start with the first point. Liberals are furious that President Obama agreed to massive spending cuts, and the promise of more, without any increase in revenues. They should be: Given how much the Bush tax cuts have contributed to the deficit (and how little they’ve spurred economic growth), it’s mind-boggling that they’ve apparently escaped this deficit-reduction deal unscathed.

But there’s a reason for that: since the economy collapsed in 2008, only one grassroots movement has emerged in response, and it’s been a movement of the right. Compare that with what happened during the Depression. In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt assumed the presidency and launched the hodgepodge of domestic programs that historians call the first New Deal. By 1935, however, he was looking warily over his left shoulder at Huey Long, whose “Share our Wealth” movement demanded that incomes be capped at $1 million and every family be guaranteed an income no less than one-third the national average.

At the same time, the Townsend plan to guarantee generous pensions to every elderly American had organizers in every state in the union. To be sure, FDR had vehement opponents on his right, but he was at least as concerned about the populist left, which helps explain why he enacted the more ambitious “second new deal,” which included Social Security, the massive public jobs program called the Works Progress Administration and the Wagner Act, which for the first time in American history put Washington on the side of labor unions.

Obama, like FDR, had a reasonably successful first two years: a stimulus package that while too small for the circumstances was still large by historical standards and a health care bill that while subpar in myriad ways still far exceeded the efforts of other recent Democratic presidents.

And then, unlike FDR, he ran into a grassroots movement of the right. Historians will long debate why the financial collapse of 2008 produced a right-wing populist movement and not a left-wing one. Perhaps it’s because Obama didn’t take on Wall Street, perhaps it’s because with labor unions so weak there’s just not the organizational muscle to create such a movement, perhaps it’s because trust in government is so low that pro-government populism is almost impossible.

Whatever the reason, it was the emergence of the Tea Party as the most powerful grassroots pressure group in America that laid the groundwork for Sunday night’s deal. The fact that polling showed Obama getting the better of the debt ceiling debate barely mattered. The 2010 elections brought to Congress a group of Republicans theologically committed to cutting government. And they have proved more committed, or perhaps just more reckless, than anyone else in Washington.

But it’s not just the absence of a mass left-wing movement that explains last night’s deal. It’s the end of the war on terror. From 9/11 until George W. Bush left office, the “war on terror” defined the Republican Party. That meant massive increases in defense and homeland security spending, but it also meant increases in domestic spending—such as the 2004 prescription drug bill—aimed at ensuring that Bush got reelected, so he could perpetuate the war on terror. In that way, “war on terror” politics resembled cold war politics, in which the right’s desire for guns and the left’s desire for butter usually combined to ensure that all forms of government spending went up.

The Tea Party, by contrast, is a post-war on terror phenomenon. Many of the newly-elected Republicans are indifferent, if not hostile, to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They’re happy to cut the defense budget, especially since cutting the defense budget makes it easier to persuade Democrats to swallow larger cuts in domestic spending. It’s the reverse of the cold war dynamic. During the cold war—especially in the Nixon and Reagan years–conservatives accepted that overall spending would go up in order to ensure that some that increase went to defense. Today, conservatives accept defense cuts in order to ensure that overall spending goes down.

The good news is that the Tea Party, more than Barack Obama, has now ended the neoconservative dream of an ever-expanding American empire. The bad news is that it has also ended whatever hopes liberals once entertained that roughly 100 years after Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, roughly 75 years after the New Deal and roughly 50 years after the Great Society, we were living in another great age of progressive reform.

Given the era of fiscal scarcity we’re now entering, those neocon and progressive dreams are now likely dead for many years to come. Meanwhile, the Tea Party’s dream of a government reduced to its pre-welfare state size becomes ever real.

PPH on LePage

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

The Maine Sunday Telegram really took a shot at Maine’s Governor Paul LePage today: “Our View: Gov. LePage acts like he’s in over his head“.

Key quotes are a-plenty, but here’s my favorite:

For the most part, the governor has surrounded himself with people who, like him, are novices to state government. He has filled his administration with people he is comfortable with, politically and personally, and excluded those who could augment his get-tough philosophy with experience, expertise and an occasional dash of common sense.

LePage doesn’t seem to take advice from anyone, much less from newspaper editorials, but we’ll offer some anyway.

The governor should recruit at least one adviser who can point him in the right direction, warn him when he’s about to make a mistake, counsel him when he’s in trouble. Maybe he could solicit advice from some former governors or other public officials – and act on it.


Beem on Mural, Free Speech

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

The lawsuit over the removed mural at the Maine Department of Labor’s headquarters begins: “Labor mural raises free speech issues.”

Apparently the judge, who coincidentally was appointed by GW Bush in 2003, looks likely to support LePage’s position that the removal was a political statement. This rankled Edgar Allen Beem, opinion columnist for the Forecaster, and one of the protest’s organizers:

“If the governor can legally remove any work of art he doesn’t like from public view, does he also have the power to remove any book from the state library?” Beem asked while addressing the demonstrators. “Based on the state’s argument, we have to assume he does.”


LePage in the Times

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

The New York Times likes the whole “Tea Party governors are crazy” storyline. It may not be compelling journalism, but I bet it sells papers.

Looks like they just ran another one, I fired up their iPhone app this morning and look at the mug I see:

Yep, our fair governor, Paul LePage.

Here’s the story “G.O.P. Pushes to Deregulate Environment at State Level” (Sorry link is wonky, I’m on my phone).

In fact, LePage leads off the story, and also contributes more than a few juicy quotes:

Governor LePage summed up the animus while defending his program in a radio address. “Maine’s working families and small businesses are endangered,” he said. “It is time we start defending the interests of those who want to work and invest in Maine with the same vigor that we defend tree frogs and Canadian lynx.”

I’m so sick of all of the Canadian lynxes coming down here and taking all the good jobs. I’m glad someone is finally standing up for the straight, white males …

But in all seriousness, it’s not like when people think of Maine they think of nature …

Yes, More LePage

Monday, April 4th, 2011

I’m so sorry about this.

See, I don’t watch Jersey Shore and wouldn’t know “The Situation” if I fell over him, but this Paul LePage mural malarkey is almost as bad as reality television.

First there was a free speech claim made last week: “Federal lawsuit seeks return of mural to Labor Department“.

Then Republican state senators took a swipe at him in the press: “LePage rhetoric interferes with goals, say GOP senators“.

AND now the federal Department of Labor is getting in on the action: “US Labor Department demands refund in Maine mural dispute“.

See? Reality TV at it’s worst.

I’m glued!

What’s next?!?

Pasquerella on Perkins (and LePage)

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

I don’t want to make “this all Paul LePage, all the time” but I have to share this.

Mount Holyoke College President Lynn Pasquerella wrote a letter to the New York Times about Governor LePage’s removal of the Department of Labor murals: “Honoring Frances Perkins“.

Additionally, here’s the letter that Dr. Pasquerella faxed to his office yesterday.

Key quote:

I was particularly surprised to read that you were influenced by an anonymous fax comparing the 11-panel mural to North Korean political propaganda, because the act of removing images commemorating Maine’s history itself conjures thoughts of the rewriting of history prevalent in totalitarian regimes. If the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. is housed in the Frances Perkins Building, why can’t she be honored with a conference room in Augusta?


New York Times on LePage

Monday, March 28th, 2011

So we’ve had Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow and countless blogs chime in on Governor LePage’s decision to remove murals from the Department of Labor.

Let’s add the New York Times to the list:

They get bonus points for mentioning the thing with employing his daughter in a $41,000 entry level job …

LePage Funny

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Which of these is funnier?

Gov. LePage Orders Little Girl’s Sandcastle Kicked In

LePage Orders Cancellation of Labor Day

Proud to be an American

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Interesting David Brooks column at the New York Times today: “The Modesty Manifesto“.

Key quote:

If Americans do, indeed, have a different and larger conception of the self than they did a few decades ago, I wonder if this is connected to some of the social and political problems we have observed over the past few years.

I wonder if the rise of consumption and debt is in part influenced by people’s desire to adorn their lives with the things they feel befit their station. I wonder if the rise in partisanship is influenced in part by a narcissistic sense that, “I know how the country should be run and anybody who disagrees with me is just in the way.”

Most pervasively, I wonder if there is a link between a possible magnification of self and a declining saliency of the virtues associated with citizenship.

Citizenship, after all, is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a common enterprise. Our lives are given meaning by the service we supply to the nation. I wonder if Americans are unwilling to support the sacrifices that will be required to avert fiscal catastrophe in part because they are less conscious of themselves as components of a national project.

Majority Rule?

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Interesting new bill proposed by Republican Senator Thomas Saviello: LD 607 (SP 187) “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Require the Governor To Be Elected by a Majority Vote“.

No way this passes, but I have to mention it because yesterday I received my “Maine’s Majority” stickers in the mail:

Order yours today!

John Lewis’ Quote

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

I’m sure you saw that President Obama bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday, but a quote from this article really got to me: “Obama lauds Medal of Freedom recipients“.

“Generations from now, when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind: an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time,” Obama said.

The Georgia congressman said the award was even more special coming from Obama.

“If someone had told me that one day I would be standing in the White House and an African-American president would be presenting me the Medal of Freedom I would say, ‘Are you crazy? Are you out of your mind?’” he told reporters afterward. “It’s just an impossible dream.”

Also nice that Bill Russell and Maya Angelou were recognized, as well.

Maine To Get NRA Plate?

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Check out the new bill from Augusta: “An Act To Establish a National Rifle Association License Plate“.

This would be the first plate in Maine to give money to a private group.

North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee have NRA plates.

LePage’s Special Interests

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Maine’s Tea Partier-in-Chief, Paul LePage, has been in the news quite a bit lately; most recently he told off the NAACP the week before Martin Luther King Jr Day, calling them a “special interest”.

Sometimes I think his “special interest” is upsetting people with whom he doesn’t agree.

Granted sometimes I think he talks first and thinks later.

Either way, he’s in the press again, this time the left-of-center Portland Phoenix has found a list of his real special interests: “LePage’s secret bankers.”

Paul LePage was just kidding. Honestly. He’s not really THAT dumb.

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Not to beat this to death, but the other day I quoted the Portland Press Herald who said that incoming Tea Party Governor Paul LePage thought that if 35 states opposed a law it would die law “automatically”.

Well his lackies have now clarified his remarks: “Paul LePage clarifies disputed comment on health care reform.”

Apparently the law to which he was referring was:

… the introduction of a possible constitutional amendment to allow any provision of federal law or rule to be repealed if at least 35 states object to its implementation.


Because he’s not a moron.

Paul LePage gets his “Facts” from Email Forwards From his Crazy Aunt

Monday, December 6th, 2010

I have to mention a quote in this Portland Press Herald article: “Incoming AG weighs fight over health reform.”

See, apparently the new Maine government is joining legal fight against the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a “Obamacare”).

Here’s the quote regarding our new Tea Party Governor:

LePage also said he recently learned that if 35 states join the lawsuit, the law “dies, automatically.”

Not true, according to outgoing Attorney General Janet Mills.

“That’s not the law,” she said. “A congressional act does not get voided or overturned simply because a certain number of state officials join some lawsuit. I don’t know what he’s talking about.”


Doesn’t that sound like a “fact” that you’d see in some email forward sent from the same person who sends out weekly computer virus warnings or cell phone marketing scams?

And now he’s our governor.

Thanks everyone who voted for Mitchell, Moody or Scott!

TSA Screenings Illegal

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I haven’t talked much about my thoughts on the new Transportation Security Agency (TSA) screenings, but this Washington Post article pretty much sums it up: “Why the TSA pat-downs and body scans are unconstitutional.”

Key quote:

In a 2006 opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, then-Judge Samuel Alito stressed that screening procedures must be both “minimally intrusive” and “effective” – in other words, they must be “well-tailored to protect personal privacy,” and they must deliver on their promise of discovering serious threats. Alito upheld the practices at an airport checkpoint where passengers were first screened with walk-through magnetometers and then, if they set off an alarm, with hand-held wands. He wrote that airport searches are reasonable if they escalate “in invasiveness only after a lower level of screening disclose[s] a reason to conduct a more probing search.”

While technically not in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has found interstate travel to be “a right so elementary was conceived from the beginning to be a necessary concomitant of the stronger Union the Constitution created. In any event, freedom to travel throughout the United States has long been recognized as a basic right under the Constitution.” (United States v. Guest (1966)

I can’t wait until someone tries this in court.

Rosa on Elections

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Rosa Scarcelli, my initial gubernatorial candidate, takes Eliot Cutler to town in her recent Bangor Daily News article: “Open primaries in case of democracy.”

Attacks on the long tradition of early and absentee voting in Maine ignore the fact that the popularity of absentee voting in gubernatorial elections has significantly increased voter turnout since at least 2002. This time around, more than 140,000 people voted early or absentee. Any move to eliminate the choice and convenience of this option will restrict voter participation, counter to the core principles of our democratic system.

So she wants non-party primaries. Which, granted, could also be seen as sour grapes; she lost the Democratic primary back in the spring.

Cutler in the WSJ

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Eliot Cutler sinks a little lower in my esteem after this Wall Street Journal Opinion piece today: “Who Stole Election Day?

Kind of sour grapes, especially after Down East confirmed Cutler has voted early often.

My What a Lovely Tea Party

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Arrrrggghhh this is not cool.

Paul LePage is Angry

AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach

I can’t believe this guy is our governor.

And Another

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Check this out: “Cutler wins endorsement of ex-Gov. Angus King.”

“We need someone who can bring people together. It’s going to be almost impossible to get through what we are facing if it’s all going to be partisan,” King said. “He’s a really smart guy. He has thought about these issues as deeply as anyone I have ever encountered in Maine.”

Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday. (Unless you’re voting for LePage).