Michael Wolraich's picture

    Class Over Race: The New Old Progressive Agenda

    In the beginning, racial equality was not a progressive ideal. Early progressives rarely paid much attention to persecuted minorities such as blacks, Jews, American Indians, or Irish and Chinese immigrants. They focused instead on defending an oppressed majority--farmers and workers--from a predatory minority--industry titans and bankers.

    When progressives in the early 20th century did address minority rights, their positions tended to reflect party affiliation rather than progressive ideology. In those days, race politics split at the party line with Republicans supporting racial equality and Democrats opposing. Class politics, on the other hand, produced internal divisions within each party.

    As a result, Republican progressives tended to be concerned about racial oppression, while Democratic progressives ignored or even condoned it. When the moderately progressive Republican president Teddy Roosevelt shocked the nation by inviting Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House, William Jennings Bryan, a radically progressive Democrat, publicly denounced him.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Germany's Bold Plan to Rescue Europe

    As Italy and Spain go tumbling after Greece into an abyss of insolvency, Germany has at last found the will to act boldly in defense of the European Union.

    According to the New York Times, Chancellor Angela Merkel has launched a courageous effort to bail out Germany's struggling neighbors...with the International Monetary Fund's money.

    Not that she's shirking responsibility. After all, Germany contributes a full six percent of the IMF pool.

    And really, why should Germany be any more responsible for bailing out European debtors than the United States (17 percent) and the other 159 non-European members (60 percent). So Germany and Italy share the same currency, what of it?

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Rethinking Income Inequality: A New Kind of Payroll Tax

    How do you alleviate economic inequality in America? It's easy to complain about greed and extravagance but much more difficult to come up with practical policies that would make a real difference in the long run.

    The default proposal these days is to increase tax rates on top income brackets, starting with an elimination of the Bush tax cuts. That may help a bit, but as you can see from the following graph, the trend toward income concentration did not begin with Bush's presidency, and it would take radical tax increases to get back to 1970s levels. The government would have to strip an additional 30 percent from the incomes of the top ten percent and somehow put that money into everyone else's pockets.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    A Real, Real Alternative for President(s)

    There has been much heated discussion in these pages over whether liberals should support President Obama in the 2012 elections or embrace an independent candidate. In the absence of any credible challenger, these debates have been largely hypothetical. That is about to change.

    I am happy to introduce two exciting new candidates who have emerged from the political muck like avenging swamp monsters from outer space. What they lack in experience, charisma, good judgment, and the semblance of any political agenda, they more than make up for in the intangible quality that some call panache, some call chutzpah, and some aren't quite sure what to call. I give you Kat Nove and Jeni Decker.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    The Trouble with Banks

    It's hard out there for a bank. Last year, retail banks lost a major revenue source when the government regulated overdraft charges. This year, they took another hit when the government capped the debit card fees. And amidst an anemic credit market, they're having trouble finding investment opportunities for their deposits.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Racism in Paradise

    Yesterday,  I received an email from Adam Falk, president of Williams College, a liberal arts college in western Massachusetts. Mr. Falk had written to inform me--and every other alumnus on the mailing list--about an incident of racist hate speech on campus. Someone had scrawled, "All N****** Must Die," on a dormitory wall.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    A Favor

    Hi folks. I left for vacation today to celebrate my fortieth birthday. I'll blog more about it when I have a chance. In the meantime, I have a request.

    I haven't been following the threads today, but I still have had to field concerns and complaints via iPhone, which suggests that hostilities are still flaring at dagblog.

    As a favor, or perhaps a birthday gift, I would like to ask you all to chill out. Please tone down your responses to one another and try to avoid the urge to lash out, no matter how much you think someone deserves a lashing.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Occupy Wall Street to be Evicted

    From Paul Newell, Democratic District Leader of New York's 64th Assembly District:

    It appears that Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly are planning to forcibly evict the Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in the heart of Lower Manhattan.  This is unlawful, undemocratic and risks silencing what may be an important voice.

    Please call Mayor Bloomberg right away at 311 (If you are outside of NYC right now, call 212.639.9675 instead.) and tell him not to kick the protesters out of Zuccotti Park.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Lost in Liberty Square

    It took me half an hour to find the Internet Working Group at the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in downtown Manhattan. The protesters have been here 24-hours a day for three weeks to denounce corporate greed and economic inequality. They sleep on the ground under blue tarps, which I discovered after almost stepping on one.

    I wasn't sure what the Internet Working Group was, but it sounded intriguing. The www.occupywallst.org website promised a meeting at 5 p.m, so I took the subway downtown and plunged into the ragged mass of thousands packed into an unremarkable urban plaza of less than an acre. The organizers have been calling the park by its original name, Liberty Plaza, though they've refashioned it Liberty Square, which sounds more like an iconic protest setting and less like a suburban shopping mall.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Once upon a time, a liberal Republican was a star

    If presidential hopeful Rick Perry should awaken one night in a cold sweat with the Ghost of Republican Past hovering by his bedside, the apparition will likely take the form of Sen. Charles Percy, who passed away on Saturday after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

    Percy's political career ended when he lost his Illinois Senate seat in 1984, the same year that future Texas Gov. Rick Perry won his first election to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat. Charles Percy's fall from GOP wunderkind to party outcast offers a vivid illustration of the Republican Party's mutation from a vibrant and diverse coalition to the dogmatic cult of conservative ideology that it has become today.

    Read the full article at CNN.com

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Palestinian Statehood and the Politics of Denial

    For once, the stars aligned to favor an unlucky people. Defying the odds, the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council agreed to admit a country of refugees still struggling to build a permanent state. The Security Council's recognition did not change the "facts on the ground." The refugees still had to fight for sovereignty and security. But the international recognition offered them a symbol of dignity that they had never experienced. They were not just a people. They were a nation.

    That nation was Israel. The year was 1949.

    The Palestinians now seek to emulate Israel's example. President Mahmoud Abbas has defied the United States, the Arab League, and even Hamas by seeking full U.N. member status, which requires Security Council approval.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Open Thread on Obama's Speech

    You know that you want it...

    My immediate take:

    1. Right tone. Making America "great again" has resonance (albeit slightly backhanded). Obama staked out the optimistic position in contrast with Republicans' pessimism--generally a good strategy.

    2. Clarity, at least relative to the cloudiness of his past 2.5 years. He pretty clearly delineated the ideological differences.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Live Blogging Conservatives Gone Wild

    Slightly late and exceedingly risky but why the heck not.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Republicans Reject Obama-Boehner Speech Deal

    In a stormy meeting on Thursday, Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives rejected Speaker John Boehner's compromise with President Obama over the schedule of the President's speech to a joint session of Congress.

    The White House had sent Mr. Boehner a request for President Obama to address Congress on the evening of Wednesday, September 7. Such requests are considered routine and have been approved 47 times since 1962 without challenge.

    But in the volatile political climate of 2011, nothing can be taken for granted. Many Tea Party-affiliated Republicans had campaigned against wasteful speechmaking in the 2010 election, and 216 had signed a "No New Speeches" contract sponsored by Grover Norquist's fundraising organization, Americans for Talk Reform.

    "Americans don't need more speeches," argued House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in an hour-long discourse from the House floor last week, "They want the folks in Washington to shut the heck up."

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Islam's Secret Strategy to Destroy America "Exposed"

    For research purposes, I subscribe to a newsletter from the Christian Anti-Discrimination League.

    The organization's title is a deliberate imitation of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. Its stated mission is to combat "anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination."

    But its actual mission is very different. The CADL employs a common hate-group tactic by offering a veneer of "anti-discrimination" to rationalize its intolerant objectives. Another example is David Duke's National Association for the Advancement of White People. (I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out what organization it purports to imitate.)

    I used the word "rationalize" rather than "mask" because groups like the CADL do not deliberately misrepresent their motivations. Dr. Gary Class, president of the CADL, very likely sees himself as a righteous defender of Christian civil rights, as do many of his subscribers. They really believe that they oppose discrimination.

    That belief is not a lie for the general public. It's a delusion--a lie to themselves. It allows them to feel comfortable with their own bigotry by projecting those feelings onto the people they hate. By imagining that they are defending tolerant Christians from intolerant Muslims, for example, they cast themselves as innocent victims rather than predatory bigots.

    If you look, you can see this tactic employed over and over by the right wing, and I have written extensively about it in Blowing Smoke.

    Below the fold, please find the latest newsletter from the so-called Christian Anti-Discrimination League. The subject line is "Islam's Secret Strategy to Destroy America Exposed."

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Welcome to the Republican Christian Olympics

    When Gov. Rick Perry of Texas called for a day of prayer and fasting in Houston, world-famous televangelist John Hagee answered enthusiastically.

    "We pray for our governor, Rick Perry," he gruffly proclaimed, "who has had the courage today to call this time of fasting and prayer just as Abraham Lincoln did in the darkest days of the Civil War."

    When Perry officially launches his presidential campaign this weekend, he will not be the only Republican candidate to carry the banner of Christian piety. The presidential pre-primary season has not featured so many brave Christian Abraham Lincolns since the days of Abraham Lincoln himself.

    Read the full story at CNN.com

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Moderation Policy Update

    Dear readers and contributors,

    First off, thank you for being part of the dagblog community. Or rather, thank you for being the dagblog community, for there is no community without you. Your eloquent writing, cogent arguments, passionate beliefs, and sharp wit has made dagblog a unique and (in our opinion) wonderful space in the blogosphere.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Why Should You Vote for Obama?

    Wait! Don't be misled by the title. I'm not asking for your opinion about whether to vote for Obama. Whatever it is, I promise that we've heard it many times before.

    Instead, I'm asking the question that Obama and his political staff will be asking themselves as they head into the 2012 campaign: What reasons will they offer voters to re-elect Obama?

    The standard incumbent strategy is the old "stay the course" bromide. Focus on describing your accomplishments and vaguely promise more of the same.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Advice to Democrats: Divide and Conquer

    Putting aside anxieties over the economy and fury at Republicans, Democrats, the media, and whomever else makes us hopping mad, let's play a little game of political strategy.

    While House Speaker John Boehner's formidable skin-tone and Michele Bachmann's spine-chilling folksiness has driven many a Democrat to gibber in fear, it's helpful to remember that Republican power in Washington is not exactly overwhelming.



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