The Primary Obama Petition sign now

Sign on to this petition and pass it along to all you know if you agree with the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders, and many others that Obama has capitulated far too much to the Republicans on too many issues-- too much for the sake of our country and too much for the sake of our party-- and that we need to start organizing to build support NOW for a serious primary challenge to Obama.

Recall presidential elections of last two decades-- Democratic candidates poll numbers always went up while striking more populist progressive themes; this effort isn't about weakening Obama (or even a third-party candidacy (at the moment at least). This petition is about making sure that the 2012 Democratic presidential candidate truly stands up for core Democratic progressive values-- and making sure the hard-working progressive base is motivated to get out to the vote (instead of turned off and disillusioned by currrent Obama GOP-lite policies)!

Obama wrested the Democratic nomination from the Clinton machine and got into the White House because of the hard work of millions of progressive Dem activists in the grass roots like you and me-- are we all just going to roll over and play dead now?

Come on-- wake up, folks-- here are twenty-five different examples of how Obama has needlessly caved into corporate interests instead of standing up for the true progressive majority of Americans-- as documented by Paul Krugman, Jeff Cohen, Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher, Matthew Rothschild, John Nichols, and Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Support us in this mission-- send what you can to "Keep Joel" at 324 Browns Pond Road, Staatsburg, NY 12580, and help make this online petition go viral across the U.S.-- now.

Tell me what democracy looks like?...(this is what democracy looks like!)...and there STILL ain't no power like the power of the people-- 'cause the power of the people don't stop!

Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner (Clinton/Rhinebeck)
Dutchess Democracy.blogspot.com [email protected]
home: 845-876-2488; cell: 845-876-2488
[200+ signed on at "Dutchess Progressive" on Facebook]
[also see "FDR Democratic Club of Dutchess County" on Facebook]

p.s. Feel free to call the White House on all this-- at (202) 456-1111-- and Congress too-- at (866) 338-1015!

1. Fact: Obama ignored this-- "Overwhelmingly, multiple polls show that voters oppose deep cuts in or radical transformation of Medicare (78 percent opposed in a Washington Post poll); by large margins, voters support a surcharge income tax on millionaires and billionaires, which is similar to the higher rates Rep. Schakowsky proposes (81 percent in a March NBC/Wall Street Journal poll)."
(from David Moberg's May 23rd piece: "What Americans Want: The Peoples Budget"/In These Times): http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/7333/what_americans_want_the_peoples_budget ]

2. "Progressive Caucus of California Democratic Party Encourages Democratic Party Primary Challenge to President Obama" [August 1st]
http://warisacrime.org/content/progressive-caucus-california-democratic-party-encourages-democratic-party-primary-challenge

3. Bernie Sanders Says It Would Be A Good Idea To Primary President Obama" by Zaid Jilani [July 22nd]
http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/07/22/277124/bernie-sanders-primary-obama/

4. "A Terrible Deal" [lead New York Times editorial August 1st]
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/opinion/to-escape-chaos-a-terrible-debt-deal.html?_r=1&hp

5. "The President Surrenders" by Paul Krugman [New York Times August 1st]
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/opinion/the-president-surrenders-on-debt-ceiling.html

6. "Progressives Complain Obama's Debt Deal 'Trades People's Livelihoods for the Votes of a Few Unappeasable Right-Wing Radicals'" by John Nichols [August 1st]
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/08/01

7. "No Wonder Obama Is Losing Support from the Left" by Matthew Rothschild [July 23rd]
http://www.progressive.org/wx072111.html

8. "Obama Caves Again to Corporate Interests" by Jeff Cohen [July 21st]
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/24

9. Barack Obama is Gutting the Core Principles of the Democratic Party" by Glenn Greenwald [July 21st]
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/21-6

10. "House Progressives Urge 14th Amendment Fix" by Mike Lillis [August 1st]
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/31-6

11. "CNN Poll: Drop in liberal support pushes Obama approval rating down" [July 22nd]
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07/22/cnn-poll-drop-in-liberal-support-pushes-obama-approval-rating-down/

12. "Primary from the Left? Just a Thought" by The Puggle [August 1st]
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/01/1001512/-primary-from-the-left-just-a-thought---

13. "Breaking Point: Obama and the Death of the Democratic Party" by Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake.com
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/08-3

14. "Invoke the 14th, End Debt Standoff" by Katrina vanden Heuvel [July 6th]
http://www.thenation.com/blog/161835/invoke-14th-and-end-debt-standoff

15. "Nader Looks for Obama 2012 Democratic Primary Challengers" by Michael OBrien [July 27th]
http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/173723-nader-to-look-for-primary-challengers-for-obama-in-12

Ten More Reasons To Build Support for Primary Against Obama (He's Ignored All Ten of These):

Fact #1: Even most rank-and-filed registered GOP voters are for taxing the wealthy, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll cited Aug. 16, 2010 in The New Yorker.
[ http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2010/08/16/100816ta_talk_surowiecki ]

Fact #2: USA Today poll 59\% of Americans "U.S. mission in Afghanistan done; troops come home."
[USA Today poll May 2011-- http://www.thinkprogress.org/2011/05/11/afghanistan-get-out-59-percent/ ]

Fact #3: 67\% of Americans support support raising the minimum wage to $10/hour to end the recession.
[see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/06/americans-minimum-wage-poll_n_752921.html ]

Fact #4: A 2009 NYTimes/CBS News poll and 16 other polls since 2003 prove that the vast majority of Americans support expanding Medicare to cover all of us through a single-payer health care system.
[also CNN, AP-Yahoo, Quinnipiac, Washington Post/ABC, Kaiser Family Foundation, Civil Society Inst.; see: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-payer_health_care ]

Fact #5: 70\% of New Yorkers (Oct. 2000 Zogby poll) support Clean Money Clean Elections reform.
[see: http://www.CitizenActionNY.org -- CMCE reform already in Maine, North Carolina, New Mexico]

Fact #6: 80\% Americans oppose Supreme Court ruling last year equating corporations w/people.
http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenumbers/2010/02/in-supreme-court-ruling-on-campaign-finance-the-public-dissents.html ; http://www.freespeechforpeople.org/node/75 ; 70\% New Yorkers for CMCE reform too!]

Fact #7: As Michael Moore told ralliers recently in Madison, "the richest 400 people in this country have more wealth than half of all Americans-- 150 million people."
[ http://www.MichaelMoore.com ]

Fact #8: Even the Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 8th, 2007 that "The nation's top 1\% of households own more than half the nation's stocks, according to the Federal Reserve. They also control more than $16 trillion in wealth-- more than the bottom 90\%." (from Robert Frank's "Plutonomics")
[see: http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2007/01/08/plutonomics/ ]

Fact #9: "Citigroup's research department wrote three memos for investors concluding that wealth and power in the U.S. were increasingly concentrated in the hands of the top 1\%, stating the top 1\% of the population now have more financial wealth than the bottom 95\% combined."
[see: http://www.michaelmoore.com/books-films/facts/capitalism-love-story (Michael Moore's last film)]

Fact #10: Millionaires used to pay a 91\% federal income tax rate in '50's under Ike; they now pay 35\%.
[sign: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/ILikeIke ; http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/151.html ]

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From http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/opinion/the-president-surrenders-on-debt-ceiling.html ...

"The President Surrenders"
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Published in the New York Times August 1, 2011

A deal to raise the federal debt ceiling is in the works. If it goes through, many commentators will declare that disaster was avoided. But they will be wrong.

For the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make Americas long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status.

Start with the economics. We currently have a deeply depressed economy. We will almost certainly continue to have a depressed economy all through next year. And we will probably have a depressed economy through 2013 as well, if not beyond.

The worst thing you can do in these circumstances is slash government spending, since that will depress the economy even further. Pay no attention to those who invoke the confidence fairy, claiming that tough action on the budget will reassure businesses and consumers, leading them to spend more. It doesnt work that way, a fact confirmed by many studies of the historical record.

Indeed, slashing spending while the economy is depressed wont even help the budget situation much, and might well make it worse. On one side, interest rates on federal borrowing are currently very low, so spending cuts now will do little to reduce future interest costs. On the other side, making the economy weaker now will also hurt its long-run prospects, which will in turn reduce future revenue. So those demanding spending cuts now are like medieval doctors who treated the sick by bleeding them, and thereby made them even sicker.

And then there are the reported terms of the deal, which amount to an abject surrender on the part of the president. First, there will be big spending cuts, with no increase in revenue. Then a panel will make recommendations for further deficit reduction and if these recommendations arent accepted, there will be more spending cuts.

Republicans will supposedly have an incentive to make concessions the next time around, because defense spending will be among the areas cut. But the G.O.P. has just demonstrated its willingness to risk financial collapse unless it gets everything its most extreme members want. Why expect it to be more reasonable in the next round?

In fact, Republicans will surely be emboldened by the way Mr. Obama keeps folding in the face of their threats. He surrendered last December, extending all the Bush tax cuts; he surrendered in the spring when they threatened to shut down the government; and he has now surrendered on a grand scale to raw extortion over the debt ceiling. Maybe its just me, but I see a pattern here.

Did the president have any alternative this time around? Yes.

First of all, he could and should have demanded an increase in the debt ceiling back in December. When asked why he didnt, he replied that he was sure that Republicans would act responsibly. Great call.

And even now, the Obama administration could have resorted to legal maneuvering to sidestep the debt ceiling, using any of several options. In ordinary circumstances, this might have been an extreme step. But faced with the reality of what is happening, namely raw extortion on the part of a party that, after all, only controls one house of Congress, it would have been totally justifiable.

At the very least, Mr. Obama could have used the possibility of a legal end run to strengthen his bargaining position. Instead, however, he ruled all such options out from the beginning.

But wouldnt taking a tough stance have worried markets? Probably not. In fact, if I were an investor I would be reassured, not dismayed, by a demonstration that the president is willing and able to stand up to blackmail on the part of right-wing extremists. Instead, he has chosen to demonstrate the opposite.

Make no mistake about it, what were witnessing here is a catastrophe on multiple levels.

It is, of course, a political catastrophe for Democrats, who just a few weeks ago seemed to have Republicans on the run over their plan to dismantle Medicare; now Mr. Obama has thrown all that away. And the damage isnt over: there will be more choke points where Republicans can threaten to create a crisis unless the president surrenders, and they can now act with the confident expectation that he will.

In the long run, however, Democrats wont be the only losers. What Republicans have just gotten away with calls our whole system of government into question. After all, how can American democracy work if whichever party is most prepared to be ruthless, to threaten the nations economic security, gets to dictate policy? And the answer is, maybe it cant.

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From http://www.progressive.org/wx072111.html ...

"No Wonder Obama Is Losing Support from the Left"

By Matthew Rothschild, July 23, 2011

CNN has just come out with a poll that shows Obama losing support from his left flank.
Roughly one in four Americans who disapprove of the president say they feel that way because he's not been liberal enough, the poll said. Obama's approval rating among liberals has dropped to 71 percent, the lowest point in his presidency.

Overall, the poll had Obama with an approval-disapproval rating at 45\%-54\%.

For anyone within shouting distance of most progressive communities, this is not a surprise.

The dissatisfaction with Obama has been building steadily over the past three years, and it has grown more audible by the month.

While he spoke progressive on the campaign trail, Obama has, for the most part, governed from the corporate center right.

On health care, he abandoned single payer, and even the public option.

On the banking and housing crisis, he bailed out the banks without extracting any meaningful concessions, such as a moratorium on foreclosures or a 25 percent write-down of the principal on all existing mortgages.

On the stimulus package, he came in well short of what the economy needed, as he was repeatedly warned by Nobel Prize winners in economics Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz and his own Christina Romer, who was chair of his Council of Economic Advisers.
On taxes, he caved on the Bush breaks for millionaires.

On labor, he sat on the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill to make it easier for workers to organize themselves into unions.

On civil liberties, he continued the Bush policies, extending the Patriot Act, not modifying the Military Commissions Act or the NSA spying act, holding suspects indefinitely at Bagram Air Force Base (and actually increasing the numbers held there by a factor of three), siccing the FBI on leftwing solidarity activists, and announcing that he has the right to assassinate anyoneincluding American citizensthat he deems a threat.

On foreign policy, his rhetoric has been less macho than Bushs but the substance has been the same. His State Department backed the coup makers in Honduras. While he has been critical of Netanyahu in Israel, he hasnt backed that up with any reduction in aid. He was slow to rally to the support of the Arab Spring, and he coddled Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

He escalated the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan and has pressed for keeping some troops in Iraq. And he launched an illegal air war against Libya.

This week, when he shamefully agreed to raise the retirement age for Social Security and cut benefits for recipients by monkeying with the cost of living (concessions that we were spared only by the obtuseness of the Republican Party), Obama again showed his readiness to give away almost the entire progressive store.

He does have some progressive supporters, though, especially among gays and lesbians, who recognize that on their issues, hes made a significant difference, especially by ending Dont Ask, Dont Tell.

But even among African Americans, his support is shrinking, and justifiably so, as Kevin Alexander Gray points out in the cover story of the August issue of The Progressive.

I hear progressives saying they feel betrayed by Obama, and they cant understand why hes abandoning his base.

But progressives never were, in fact, his base.

His real base has always been Wall Street, and hes raising even more from Wall Street than he did last time around.

Wall Street may give him the money. But it wont give him the people on the ground going door to door and making endless phone calls. And it wont get progressives excited enough to call all their friends and relatives and beg them to go to the polls, as happened last time.
Money cant buy enthusiasm.

And without progressive enthusiasm, Obamas in big trouble.

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From http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/24 ...

Published on Sunday, July 24, 2011 by CommonDreams.org
Obama is NOT Caving to Corporate Interests
by Jeff Cohen

In a campaign almost as frenzied as the effort to get Barack Obama into the White House, liberal groups are now mobilizing against the White House and reported deals that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. They accuse President Obama of being weak and willing to cave to corporate and conservative forces bent on cutting the social safety net while protecting the wealthy.

Those accusations are wrong.

The accusations imply that Obama is on our side. Or was on our side. And that the right wing is pushing him around.

But the evidence is clear that Obama is an often-willing servant of corporate interests -- not someone reluctantly doing their bidding, or serving their interests only because Republicans forced him to.

Since coming to Washington, Obama has allied himself with Wall Street Democrats who put corporate deregulation and greed ahead of the needs of most Americans:

In 2006, a relatively new Senator Obama was the only senator to speak at the inaugural gathering of the Alexander Hamilton Project launched by Wall Street Democrats like Robert Rubin and Roger Altman, Bill Clintons treasury secretary and deputy secretary. Obama praised them as innovative, thoughtful policymakers. (It was Rubins crusade to deregulate Wall Street in the late 90s that led directly to the economic meltdown of 2008 and our current crisis.)

In early 2007, way before he was a presidential frontrunner, candidate Obama was raising more money from Wall Street interests than all other candidates, including New York presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.

In June 2008, as soon as Hillary ended her campaign, Obama went on CNBC, shunned the populist label and announced: Look: I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market. He packed his economic team with Wall Street friends -- choosing one of Bill Clintons Wall Street deregulators, Larry Summers, as his top economic advisor.

A year into his presidency, in a bizarre but revealing interview with Business Week, Obama was asked about huge bonuses just received by two CEOs of Wall Street firms bailed out by taxpayers. He responded that he didnt begrudge the $17 million bonus to J.P. Mogans CEO or the $9 million to Goldman Sachs CEO: I know both those guys, they are very savvy businessmen, said Obama. I, like most of the American people, dont begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.

After any review of Obamas corporatist ties and positions, the kneejerk response is: Yes, but Obama was a community organizer!

He WAS a community organizer. . .decades before he became president. Back when Nelson Mandela was in prison and the U.S. government declared him the leader of a terrorist organization while our government funded and armed Bin Laden and his allies to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Thats a long time ago.

Its worth remembering that decades before Reagan became president, the great communicator was a leftwing Democrat and advocate for the working class and big federal social programs.

The sad truth, as shown by Glenn Greenwald, is that Obama had arrived at the White House looking to make cuts in benefits to the elderly. Two weeks before his inauguration, Obama echoed conservative scares about Social Security and Medicare by talking of red ink as far as the eye can see. He opened his doors to Social Security/Medicare cutters -- first trying to get Republican Senator Judd Gregg (a leading voice for reining in entitlement spending, wrote Politico) into his cabinet, and later appointing entitlement-foe Alan Simpson to co-chair his Deficit Commission. Obamas top economic advisor, Larry Summers, came to the White House publicly telling Time magazine of needed Social Security cuts.

At this late date, informed activists and voters who care about economic justice realize that President Obama is NOT on our side.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- widely seen as Americas Senator -- is so disgusted by recent White House actions that he called Friday for a challenge to Obama in Democratic primaries: I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.

Although Sanders has said clearly that hes running for reelection to the senate in 2012 not for president -- his comment led instantly to a Draft Sanders for President website.

Imagine if a credible candidate immediately threatened a primary challenge unless Obama rejects any deal cutting the safety net while maintaining tax breaks for the rich. Team Obama knows that a serious primary challenger would cost the Obama campaign millions of dollars. And it may well be a powerful movement-building opportunity for activists tired of feeling hopeless with Obama.

Its time for progressives to talk seriously about a challenge to Obamas corporatism. Polls show most Americans support economic justice issues, and that goes double for Democratic primary voters.

If not Bernie, who? If not now, when?

Jeff Cohen is an associate professor of journalism and the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of the media watch group FAIR, and former board member of Progressive Democrats of America. In 2002, he was a producer and pundit at MSNBC (overseen by NBC News). He is the author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media - and a cofounder of the online action group, www.RootsAction.org.

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From http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/21-6 ...

Published on Thursday, July 21, 2011 by The Guardian/UK

Barack Obama is Gutting the Core Principles of the Democratic Party-- The president's attacks on America's social safety net are destroying the soul of the Democratic party's platform

by Glenn Greenwald

In 2005, American liberals achieved one of their most significant political victories of the last decade. It occurred with the resounding rejection of George W Bush's campaign to privatize social security.

Bush's scheme would have gutted the crux of that entitlement programme by converting it from what it has been since the 1940s a universal guarantor of minimally decent living conditions for America's elderly into a Wall Street casino and bonanza.

Progressive activists and bloggers relentlessly attacked both the plan and underlying premises (the myth that social security faces a "crisis"), spawning nationwide opposition. Only a few months after he unveiled his scheme to great fanfare, Bush was forced to sheepishly withdraw it, a defeat he described as his biggest failure.

That victory established an important political fact. While there are very few unifying principles for the Democratic party, one (arguably the primary one) is a steadfast defence of basic entitlement programs for the poor and elderly social security, Medicare and Medicaid from the wealthy, corporatized factions that have long targeted them for cuts.

But in 2009, clear signs emerged that President Obama was eager to achieve what his right-predecessor could not: cut social security. Before he was even inaugurated, Obama echoed the right's manipulative rhetorical tactic: that (along with Medicare) the programme was in crisis and producing "red ink as far as the eye can see." President-elect Obama thus vowed that these crown jewels of his party since the New Deal would be, as Politico reported, a "central part" of his efforts to reduce the deficit.

The next month, his top economic adviser, the Wall Street-friendly Larry Summers, also vowed specific benefit cuts to Time magazine. He then stacked his "deficit commission" with long-time advocates of social security cuts.

Many progressives, ebullient over the election of a Democratic president, chose to ignore these preliminary signs, unwilling to believe that their own party's leader was as devoted as he claimed to attacking the social safety net. But some were more realistic. The popular liberal blogger and economist Duncan "Atrios" Black, who was one of the leaders of the campaign against Bush's privatization scheme, vowed in response to these early reports:

The left ... will create an epic 360-degree shitstorm if Obama and the Dems decide that cutting social security benefits is a good idea.

Fast forward to 2011: it is now beyond dispute that President Obama not only favours, but is the leading force in Washington pushing for, serious benefit cuts to both social security and Medicare.

This week, even as GOP leaders offered schemes to raise the debt ceiling with no cuts, the White House expressed support for the Senate's so-called "gang of six" plan that includes substantial cuts in those programmes.

The same Democratic president who supported the transfer of $700bn to bail out Wall Street banks, who earlier this year signed an extension of Bush's massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and who has escalated America's bankruptcy-inducing posture of Endless War, is now trying to reduce the debt by cutting benefits for America's most vulnerable at the exact time that economic insecurity and income inequality are at all-time highs.

Where is the "epic shitstorm" from the left which Black predicted? With a few exceptions the liberal blog FiredogLake has assembled 50,000 Obama supporters vowing to withhold re-election support if he follows through, and a few other groups have begun organising as well it's nowhere to be found.
Therein lies one of the most enduring attributes of Obama's legacy: in many crucial areas, he has done more to subvert and weaken the left's political agenda than a GOP president could have dreamed of achieving. So potent, so overarching, are tribal loyalties in American politics that partisans will support, or at least tolerate, any and all policies their party's leader endorses even if those policies are ones they long claimed to loathe.

This dynamic has repeatedly emerged in numerous contexts. Obama has continued Bush/Cheney terrorism policies once viciously denounced by Democrats of indefinite detention, renditions, secret prisons by proxy, and sweeping secrecy doctrines.

He has gone further than his predecessor by waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, seizing the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process far from any battlefield, massively escalating drone attacks in multiple nations, and asserting the authority to unilaterally prosecute a war (in Libya) even in defiance of a Congressional vote against authorizing the war.

And now he is devoting all of his presidential power to cutting the entitlement programmes that have been the defining hallmark of the Democratic party since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The silence from progressive partisans is deafening and depressing, though sadly predictable.

The nature of American politics is that once a policy is removed from the partisan wars once it is adopted by the leadership of both parties it is removed from mainstream debate and fortified as bipartisan consensus. That is why false claims in the run-up to the Iraq war, endorsed by both parties, received so little mainstream journalistic scrutiny. And it's why the former Bush lawyer and right-wing ideologue Jack Goldsmith back in May 2009 celebrated in The New Republic the fact that Obama was doing more to strengthen Bush/Cheney terrorism policies than his former bosses could have ever achieved: by embracing the very terrorism approach he once denounced, Obama was converting it from rightwing radicalism into into the official dogma of both parties, and forcing his supporters to defend what were, until 2009, the symbols of rightwing evil.

Identically, Obama is now on the verge of injecting what until recently was the politically toxic and unattainable dream of Wall Street and the American right attacks on the nation's social safety net into the heart and soul of the Democratic party's platform. Those progressives who are guided more by party loyalty than actual belief will seamlessly transform from virulent opponents of such cuts into their primary defenders.

And thus will Obama succeed yet again in gutting not only core Democratic policies, but also the identity and power of the American Left.

2011 Guardian News and Media Limited

Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy", examines the Bush legacy. His next book is titled "With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful."

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From http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/08/01 ...

Published on Monday, August 1, 2011 by The Nation
Progressives Complain Obama's Debt Deal 'Trades People's Livelihoods for the Votes of a Few Unappeasable Right-Wing Radicals'
by John Nichols

WASHINGTON - Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time, said Harry Truman.

If the thirty-third president was right, then Barack Obama just did himself and his party a world of hurt.

Faced with the threat that Tea Partypressured Republicans in the House really would steer the United States toward default, and in so doing steer the US economy over the cliff, Obama had to do something. But instead of bold actionborrowing a page from Ronald Reagan to demand a straight up-or-down vote on raising the debt ceiling; borrowing a page from Franklin Roosevelt to pledge to use the authority afforded him by the Constitution to defend the full faith and credit of the United Statesthe president engaged in inside-the-Beltway bargaining of the most dysfunctional sort.

"The very wealthy will continue to receive taxpayer handouts, and corporations will keep their expensive federal giveaways," Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a co-chairman of the Progressive Congress, said Sunday in a statement. "Meanwhile, millions of families unfairly lose more in this deal than they have already lost.

In cutting a deal with Congressional Republicans that places Democratic legacy programsSocial Security, Medicare and Medicaidat risk while cutting essential programs for working families and the poor, Obama has positioned himself and his administration to the right of where mainstream Republicans such as Howard Baker, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush used to stand in fights with the fringe elements of their party.

Now, the fringe is in charge of the GOP. And Obama is cutting deals to satisfy Republicans that Britains banking minister describes as right-wing nutters.

Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders are claiming that they have done everything in their power to avert deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And it is true that they have given the Republicans (and their paymasters) less than House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan was demanding with a budget proposal that turned Medicare into a voucher program and began the process of privatizing Social Security.

But a compromise with total destruction can still do a lot of damage.

The presidents bow to the political extremismand the economic irrationalityof a tiny circle of right-wing nutters in Congress and their dwindling Tea Party base will, according to reports based on briefings by White House and GOP aides, raise the debt limit by about $2.7 trillion and reduce the deficit by the same amount in two steps. It would cut about $1 trillion in spending up front and set up a select bicameral committee to put together a future deficit-reduction package worth $1.7 trillion to $1.8 trillion. Failure of Congress to pass the future deficit-reduction package would automatically trigger cuts to defense spending and Medicare.

An aide familiar with the deal the Hill newspaper that the Medicare cut would not affect beneficiaries. Instead, the aide indicated, healthcare providers and insurance companies would see lower payments.

But thats still a squeezing of Medicare in order to meet the demands of Congressional Republicans who have spent the past six months trying to put the program on the chopping block.

Congressional Black Caucus chairman Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, responded to initial reports regarding the deal by describing it as a sugar-coated Satan sandwich.

Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Raul Grijalva says Obama and his negotiators have bent too far to the extremists. Like many progressives, Grijalva favored the straight up-or-down vote on debt ceiling. Had that vote failed, he argued, the president should have exercised his Fourteenth Amendment responsibilities and ended this manufactured crisis.

Grijalva is expected to join members of the Congerssional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucusat a Monday press conference, where they will call on Obama to sidestep Congress and raise the debt limit by invoking the Fourteenth Amendment.

Obama has, so far, rejected this option.

Instead of taking a tough stance, the president has blinked in the face of Republican recalcitrance. And in so doing Obama agreed to what the Progressive Caucus co-chair decsribed as a cure as bad as the disease.

This deal trades peoples livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it, Grijalva declared Sunday afternoon. Progressives have been organizing for months to oppose any scheme that cuts Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, and it now seems clear that even these bedrock pillars of the American success story are on the chopping block. Even if this deal were not as bad as it is, this would be enough for me to fight against its passage.

How widespread that sentiment will be within the House Democratic Caucus remains to be seen. While Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has signed on with the president, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, says she must meet with caucus members before taking a position.
Grijalva is far from the only member who is upset with the deal.

Congresswoman Donna Edwards, D-Maryland, slammed the deal.

Nada from million/billionaires; corp tax loopholes aplenty; only sacrifice from the poor/middle class? Shared sacrifice, balance? Really? she complained, via Twitter, on Sunday.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-California, complained that she was not sure how Social Security and Medicare will be preserved by the bargain the president has cut with the Republicans. We have to make sure that within this dealMedicare and Medicare and Social Security and the most vulnerable are protected, she said, while withholding an endorsement of the measure. I worry about these triggers [for more cuts], Lee concluded.

Grijalva objected, in particular, to the lack of shared sacrifice in the deal.

This deal does not even attempt to strike a balance between more cuts for the working people of America and a fairer contribution from millionaires and corporations. The very wealthy will continue to receive taxpayer handouts, and corporations will keep their expensive federal giveaways. Meanwhile, millions of families unfairly lose more in this deal than they have already lost. I will not be a part of it, the Arizona congressman explained. Republicans have succeeded in imposing their vision of a country without real economic hope. Their message has no public appeal, and Democrats have had every opportunity to stand firm in the face of their irrational demands. Progressives have been rallying support for the successful government programs that have meant health and economic security to generations of our people. Today we, and everyone we have worked to speak for and fight for, were thrown under the bus. We have made our bottom line clear for months: a final deal must strike a balance between cuts and revenue, and must not put all the burden on the working people of this country. This deal fails those tests and many more.

But Grijalvas gripe was not merely a moral or economic one.

It was political, as well.

The Democratic Party, no less than the Republican Party, is at a very serious crossroads at this moment. For decades Democrats have stood for a capable, meaningful governmenta government that works for the people, not just the powerful, and that represents everyone fairly and equally. This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country, explained Grijalva. We have given much and received nothing in return. The lesson today is that Republicans can hold their breath long enough to get what they want. While I believe the country will not reward them for this in the long run, the damage has already been done.

The question that remains is: How much damage? How much damage to vulnerable Americans? How much damage to the global reputation of the United States as a functional state? How much damage to a US economy that is threatened by rising unemployment? How much damage to the image of the Democratic Party as a defender of working families?

There will still be a good deal of wrangling over this deal. It could be rejected. It could be altered. But it cannot be defended as a sound or necessary response to a manufactured debt-ceiling debate and the mess that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has made of it.

That is why the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus says: I will not support the emerging debt deal.

I will have no part of a deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to appease the farthest reaches of the right wing of the Republican Party, argues Grijalva. It is unconscionable to put these programs on the chopping block and ignore the voices and beliefs of the millions of Americans who trust us to lead while continuing to give handouts to the ultra wealthy and the largest corporations. There is no human decency in that.

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From http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/07/22/277124/bernie-sanders-primary-obama/ ...

Bernie Sanders Says It Would Be A Good Idea To Primary President Obama
By Zaid Jilani on Jul 22, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Recently, President Obama has faced fire from many in his own base for endorsing unpopular proposals that would include regressive cuts to Social Security in order to win a hike in the debt ceiling.

Today, while appearing on Thom Hartmanns radio show, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who, while being an independent, caucuses with the Democrats said that one way progressives can make sure Obama does not enact huge cuts to major social programs is to run a primary challenger against him. Sanders told a listener who called in to protest a debt ceiling deal that cuts Social Security that such a challenge would be a good idea:

SANDERS: Brian, believe me, I wish I had the answer to your question. Let me just suggest this. I think there are millions of Americans who are deeply disappointed in the president; who believe that, with regard to Social Security and a number of other issues, he said one thing as a candidate and is doing something very much else as a president; who cannot believe how weak he has been, for whatever reason, in negotiating with Republicans and theres deep disappointment. So my suggestion is, I think one of the reasons the president has been able to move so far to the right is that there is no primary opposition to him and I think it would do this country a good deal of service if people started thinking about candidates out there to begin contrasting what is a progressive agenda as opposed to what Obama is doing. [...] So I would say to Ryan [sic] discouragement is not an option. I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.

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Nader looks for Obama 2012 challengers
By Michael OBrien - 07/27/11 06:00 AM ET

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/173723-nader-to-look-for-primary-challengers-for-obama-in-12

Consumer activist Ralph Nader said Tuesday that hell launch an initiative soon to field primary challenges to President Obama in key states.
Nader, who waged two presidential campaigns as a third-party candidate, is working with a group of frustrated Democrats who are hoping to turn up the heat on Obama from the left.

Its an initiative to scan the possibilities of people who may run, Nader said in a phone interview. My guess is that its almost 100 percent sure theres going to be a primary challenge to Obama from somebody or somebodies plural in some states.

Naders effort follows comments over the weekend by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), a liberal independent who caucuses with Democrats, that it would be a good idea for Obama to face a primary challenge in 2012.

Other liberal stalwarts on Capitol Hill acknowledged their frustration toward the president and his handling of the spending-and-debt debate. They expressed worries about how it might tamp down enthusiasm for Obama among the Democratic base in 2012.

Nader was relatively coy about the coalition hes working to assemble to field the primary candidates. An announcement about the initiative could come as soon as later this week, and Nader wouldnt say whether hes talked to any prospective candidates already about the possibility of running.

He acknowledged that a candidate running against Obama from the left was unlikely to be successful the presidents campaign already has stockpiled millions of dollars. But he said it would help ensure the president doesnt get a free ride from Democrats.

Without a primary challenger, Obama wont have to answer for breaking promises in the 2008 campaign; he wont have to answer to his liberal, progressive base, Nader said.

The possibility that liberal Democrats will just stay home on Election Day 2012 has been a worrying one for the administration. Next years election is expected to be close, and it is unclear whether Obama will run as strongly in several states such as Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana that he won in 2008.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer faced a tough crowd last month in Minneapolis when he met liberal activists at their Netroots Nation conference.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said his union would focus its resources on organizing rather than political efforts, raising the specter that it could stay neutral in the election. (Other labor groups have been early backers of the presidents reelection.)

The White House caught flak for an on-the-record gripe about the professional left and the headaches liberal activists have caused for the administration.

Welch said how to re-energize liberal Democrats was a big question...

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From http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/opinion/to-escape-chaos-a-terrible-debt-deal.html?_r=1&hp :

LEAD NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL AUGUST 1, 2011
To Escape Chaos, a Terrible Deal

President Obama could have been more adamant in dealing with Republicans, perhaps threatening to use constitutional powers to ignore the debt ceiling if Congress abrogated its responsibility to raise it.

There is little to like about the tentative agreement between Congressional leaders and the White House...it is a nearly complete capitulation to the hostage-taking demands of Republican extremists. It will hurt programs for the middle class and poor, and hinder an economic recovery...

For weeks, ever since House Republicans said they would not raise the nations debt ceiling without huge spending cuts, Democrats have held out for a few basic principles. There must be new tax revenues in the mix so that the wealthy bear a share of the burden and Medicare cannot be affected.

Those principles were discarded to get a deal that cuts about $2.5 trillion from the deficit over a decade. The first $900 billion to a trillion will come directly from domestic discretionary programs (about a third of it from the Pentagon) and will include no new revenues. The next $1.5 trillion will be determined by a supercommittee of 12 lawmakers that could recommend revenues, but is unlikely to do so since half its members will be Republicans.

If the committee is deadlocked, or its recommendations are rejected by either house of Congress, then a dreaded guillotine of cuts would come down: $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending reductions that would begin to go into effect by early 2013.

Negotiators have tried to make this penalty mechanism as unpalatable as possible to provide an incentive for the supercommittee and Congress to avert it. For Democrats, the penalty would include cuts to Medicare providers. The penalty for Republicans should have been new tax revenues, but of course they refused to consider that and got their way. Instead, their incentive will be trying to avoid large cuts in the military budget.

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Progressive Caucus of California Democratic Party Encourages Democratic Party Primary Challenge to President Obama

Posted by Admin - Posted on 01 August 2011

http://warisacrime.org/content/progressive-caucus-california-democratic-party-encourages-democratic-party-primary-challenge

On Saturday, July 30th, 2011, an estimated 75 members of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party (CDP) passed a resolution in support of a Democratic Party Presidential Primary challenge to President Barack Obama. Gathering in Anaheim during an Executive Board meeting of the CDP, the group overwhelmingly endorsed the resolution following a discussion on the importance of not only challenging the far-right agenda of unmitigated corporate greed but also the current administrations willingness to slash 650-billion dollars from Social Security and Medicare. Below is the resolution:

RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF A PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY CHALLENGE

Whereas, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party, recognizes the challenge presented by President Obamas negotiating away Democratic Party principles to extremist Republicans by:

His unilateral closed-door budget offer to slash Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, thus endangering The New Deal and War on Poverty safety nets.

His determination to escalate U.S. militarism through illegal secret CIA drone attacks and unauthorized wars.

His willingness to extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and bail out big banks without ending the foreclosure crisis that displaces American working families.

His insistence on pushing a health insurance bill which enriches private insurance companies while ignoring growing support for single-payer health care or robust public options.

His continuance of President Bushs assault on civil liberties with an extension of the repressive Patriot Act, along with violations of international human rights.

His failure to restore due process and Habeas Corpus, while
continuing the practice of nationwide FBI raids of anti-war progressive protesters.

His decision to increase the arrests and deportations of undocumented workers.

His facilitation of the privatization of the public sphere, which includes education and housing, among others.

His disregard of his promises to the Labor movement and environmentalists.

Whereas the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party recognizes the historical significance of the great late Robert F. Kennedys anti-war challenge to former President Lyndon Johnson, following President Johnsons decision to escalate U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, betraying his campaign promise to end a war that polarized America, we similarly recognize the danger and betrayal the Grand Bargain represents to the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelts signature gift to all Americans: Social Security and the New Deal, a point of pride for all Democrats.

Whereas the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party is committed to the understanding that an interest in a 2012 Democratic Presidential Primary challenge will not interfere with President Obamas ability to govern, nor limit his ability to do so in ways that include invoking Constitutional options, we recognize that a Primary challenge will, in fact raise debate on important issues without risking the ability to mobilize and energize the base of the Democratic Party to elect a triumphant leader to counter the far-right agenda.

Therefore, be it resolved, to make our views heard, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party will begin the process of contacting other Democratic organizations, Democratic Party members and public organizations that share our views and which seek to change the course of history by exploring other steps necessary to effect a necessary change, including a possible primary challenge against President Obama.

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CNN Poll: Drop in liberal support pushes Obama approval rating down
By: CNN Political Unit July 22nd, 2011

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07/22/cnn-poll-drop-in-liberal-support-pushes-obama-approval-rating-down/

Washington (CNN) President Barack Obama's approval rating is down to 45 percent, driven in part by growing dissatisfaction on the left with the president's track record in office, according to a new national survey.

According to the poll, the president's 45 percent approval rating is down three points from June. Fifty-four percent of people questioned disapprove of how Obama's handling his duties, up six points from last month. His 54 percent disapproval rating ties the all-time high in CNN polling that the president initially reached just before last year's midterm elections.

"But drill down into that number and you'll see signs of a stirring discontent on the left," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Thirty-eight percent say they disapprove because President Obama has been too liberal, but 13 percent say they disapprove of Obama because he has not been liberal enough - nearly double what it was in May, when the question was last asked, and the first time that number has hit double digits in Obama's presidency."

Looking at that figure another way, roughly one in four Americans who disapprove of the president say they feel that way because he's not been liberal enough.

"It's likely that this is a reaction to some of Obama's recent actions, including his willingness to discuss major changes in Social Security and Medicare as part of the debt ceiling negotiations," adds Holland.

Some congressional Democrats appeared to be on the verge of open revolt against their own president Thursday night after hearing some of the details in the $3 trillion plan - a package many of them contend does not do nearly enough to ensure wealthier Americans share in the burden of stemming the tide of Washington's red ink.

Those Democrats are desperately trying to protect some of their party's primary legacies - entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, programs forged at the height of the New Deal and Great Society.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on July 18-20, with 1,009 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

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From http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/31-6 ...

Published on Monday, August 1, 2011 by The Hill
House Progressives Urge 14th Amendment Fix
by Mike Lillis

A growing number of House Democrats is urging President Obama to abandon his dealings with Republicans and hike the debt ceiling unilaterally.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus announced plans for a Monday press conference, which they later postponed, to call on Obama to sidestep Congress and hike the debt limit by invoking the 14th Amendment an option the president has so far rejected.

Their slogan is, "No Cuts, No Caps, Just Raise."

The liberal lawmakers are pushing back against the budget package being negotiated by the White House and Senate Republicans, which reportedly includes $1 trillion in federal spending cuts, and sets up a mechanism to guarantee up to $2 trillion more in deficit reduction later in the year.

It's unclear how many members of each caucus would oppose the bipartisan package outright. But their criticism threatens the bill's chances, as many conservative Republicans are expected to oppose the measure for its absence of a balanced budget amendment. The defections will leave GOP leaders if they ultimately choose to support the package reliant on Democrats to pass the bill.

The proposal would likely lead to steep cuts in many federal programs historically championed by Democrats, including environmental protections, education, food safety and public health.

The bill is not expected to include tax-revenue increases, which many Democrats have demanded.
The imbalance has prompted some liberals to announce their opposition even before all the details have been released.

"The very wealthy will continue to receive taxpayer handouts, and corporations will keep their expensive federal giveaways," Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a co-chairman of the Progressive Congress, said Sunday in a statement. "Meanwhile, millions of families unfairly lose more in this deal than they have already lost.

"I will not be a part of it," he added.

Members of both the Black and Progressive caucuses support a clean debt ceiling hike, but that strategy is a non-starter with Republicans, who are using the must-pass debt-ceiling vote to wring as many spending cuts as they can from Democrats.

The Democratic Caucus is expected to meet on Monday to discuss the proposal. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that she's still weighing whether she'll support it.
"I have to meet with my caucus tomorrow to see how they wish to proceed," Pelosi said. "We all may not be able to support it, or none of us may be able to support it. But we'll wait and see."

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From http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/01/1001512/-primary-from-the-left-just-a-thought--- ...

MON AUG 01, 2011 AT 12:26 AM PDT
Primary from the Left? Just a Thought . . .
from the Puggle

Anyone thinking about a primary from the left at this point?...is there any way we can put pressure on the course of events beyond this? I'm just scraping for ideas.

And it's been a while since I've been on DailyKos, so if this has been mentioned and shot down here many times, please forgive. It's just that since Obama won and caved in, I've just been a bit hopeless on what the left can do. I mean, I knew what our role was under Bush, but now it's hard to say HOW to influence things.
Primary from left?

(and ps, I'm THRILLED we have our first African-American president. I'm so sad to even have to suggest this option, but maybe it could drag him further left?)

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