from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by Gaius Publius
Shunning Grassroots that Propelled ’08 Election, Obama Turns to Corporate Insider, Anti-Public Option Campaign Manager Jim Messina
Interesting profile of former White House deputy chief of staff, and now Obama re-elect campaign director, Jim Messina by Ari Berman at the Nation. Joe covers the gay civil rights (DADT) aspects of the article over on AMERICAblog Gay. Here I wanted to highlight how Messina, on behalf of the White House neutered, and in some cases tried to neuter to no avail, liberal groups trying to push for more progressive, and better, legislation.
First, how the Campaign for America’s future caved to the WH early on.
In March 2009 the Campaign for America’s Future, a top progressive group in Washington, launched a campaign called “Dog The (Blue) Dogs” to pressure conservative Blue Dog Democrats to support President Obama’s budget. When he heard about the effort, White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, who was regarded as the Obama administration’s designated “fixer,” called CAF’s leaders into the White House for a dressing down, according to a CAF official. If the group wanted to join the Common Purpose Project, an exclusive weekly strategy meeting between progressive groups and administration officials, CAF had to drop the campaign. We know how to handle the Blue Dogs better than you do, Messina said. Not wanting to sour its relationship with the White House at this early date, CAF complied, and the campaign quickly disappeared from its website. Despite Messina’s assurance, however, the Blue Dogs would remain a major obstacle to the realization of the president’s legislative agenda.
“Messina wouldn’t tolerate us trying to lobby to improve the bill,” says Richard Kirsch, former national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now (HCAN), the major coalition of progressive groups backing reform. Kirsch recalled being told by a White House insider that when asked what the administration’s “inside/outside strategy” was for passing healthcare reform, Messina replied, “There is no outside strategy.”
It’s not terribly clear that HCAN fought nearly hard enough for a better bill. Where were our Harry & Louise health care ads? But at least the next graf suggests that HCAN didn’t totally kowtow to the White House:
“The aggressive suppression of outside pressure was done by Messina,” he adds. “I can’t imagine that the president knew about it.” Messina and his allies tried to stop HCAN from sending a letter to senators expressing displeasure with Baucus’s bill and also tried to prevent the group from running a TV ad praising the House version of the bill. HCAN’s organizer in Montana, Molly Moody, was banned from Baucus’s office and prevented from attending his public events. (Baucus’s office did not reply to a request for comment.) “This is something Messina did in Montana—any group that did any outside pressure on Baucus was iced out,” says Kirsch. “He did the same thing with HCAN in the White House.” When he worked for Baucus, Messina even kept a list of his political enemies on an Excel spreadsheet. “Ultra-paranoid behavior is very much a hallmark of Messina,” says Ken Toole.
Oh that the White House fought back nearly as hard against Republicans and conservative Democrats out to ruin their agenda.
Now that’s rather straight-forward of him. From NPR Morning Edition (my emphasis):
[NPR reporter Audie] CORNISH: That’s House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor at a recent speech at the Hoover Institution. Cantor tried to send a clear signal to key voters with concerns about the GOP’s plans.
Rep. CANTOR: I mean, just from the very notion that it said that 50 percent of beneficiaries under the Social Security program use those moneys as their sole source of income. So we’ve got to protect today’s seniors. But for the rest of us? For – you know, listen. We’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.
Said at a recent speech at the Hoover Institution. Synchronicity at work.
Just to be clear, this means exactly what it says. “If we want America to be what we want America to be” — programs like Social Security and Medicare must be abolished. Not “reformed” — abolished.
It’s not about the people who need them. It’s about a vision of the country; a Triangle Shirtwaist Factory vision, to be sure.
We owe him for being so plain about it.
You can still call each of your senators at 1-866-251-4044 and tell them to support the Sanders/Reid Social Security Protection Amendment. More here: StrengthenSocialSecurity.org/callcongress.
From Jobs with Justice:
On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, where he had gone to stand with sanitation workers demanding their dream: the right to bargain collectively for a voice at work and a better life. The workers were trying to form a union with AFSCME.
On April 4, 2011, join union members, community activists, people of faith, students, youth, LGBTQ, civil rights, and immigrant rights allies to stand in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and dozens of other states where well-funded, right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life for: the freedom to bargain, to vote, to afford a college education and justice for all workers, immigrant and native-born. It’s a day to show movement with actions, teach-ins, worksite discussions, vigils, faith events – a day to be creative, but clear: We are one.
Visit www.we-r-1.org to find a local event, or add your own event to the growing list of activities.
Shunning Grassroots that Propelled ’08 Election, Obama Turns to Corporate Insider, Anti-Public Option Campaign Manager Jim Messina
Republicans and Democrats are already gearing up for the 2012 election, projected to be the most expensive in history. Obama is expected to formally kick off his re-election bid on April 14, and his campaign could raise as much as $1 billion. In a move criticized by progressives, Obama has appointed former White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina as his campaign manager. Obama’s move has drawn scrutiny over Messina’s ties to corporate America, his push to drop the public option from healthcare reform, and his lack of support for gay rights. We speak with journalist and author Ari Berman about his new profile of Messina in The Nation. “Messina has a ‘take no prisoners’ style; the problem is, the people he’s often taking prisoner are Democratic activists and grassroots organizers,” Berman says. [includes rush transcript]
Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio joins us to discuss why he thinks President Obama may have committed an “impeachable offense” by committing U.S. military forces to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya without congressional approval. “This president has assumed power that no president, not even President Bush, has assumed,” Kucinich says. “I think that we need to focus on this, not as a matter of whether we like President Obama or not, not as a matter of whether we are Democrats or not, but whether or not we understand the basic constitutional principles of the separation of power.” [includes rush transcript]
Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill that strips collective bargaining rights for more than 360,000 state workers and bars them from striking. Democrats have announced plans to collect some 230,000 signatures in the next 90 days to block immediate implementation of the law and put it to a public referendum on the November ballot. “This idea of government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations has actually taken hold,” says our guest, Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who represents Ohio’s 10th District. “Unions are one of the last lines of defense against a corporate plutocracy.” [includes rush transcript]
WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement commemorating the legacy of Cesar Chavez (March 31):
“Today, which would have been the 84th birthday of Cesar E. Chavez, is observed as Cesar Chavez Day. His legacy is important for every American to remember. Cesar was a civil rights leader whose efforts shed light not only on the injustice and struggles of farmworkers, but on our land and our environment, too.
“A former farmworker himself, Cesar fought for fair treatment, fair wages and better working conditions for the countless men, women and children who labor in the fields every day.
“Cesar was a man who — with quiet leadership but a powerful voice — inspired a movement and changed the course of America for generations to come. Through his courage, he taught us that a single voice could change our country, making us stronger and more just.
“His life’s work is a reminder to me, as the secretary of labor, that the work we do at the Labor Department is about workers and their families, their well-being and their advancement.”
Earlier this week, we posted the press release from the national teabagger group about their big rally here in DC today:
Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest grassroots organization, today announced that it will hold its first “Continuing Revolution Rally” outside of the U.S. Capitol challenging Congress and the members it helped sweep into power to take swift action on the budget. Tea Party stars in Congress such as Reps. Mike Pence and Michele Bachmann will join thousands of Tea Party activists to send a message to the rest of Washington. Thursday’s rally is co-sponsored by Let Freedom Ring, the Institute for Liberty, and Smart Girl Politics.
Yep. All the big names in teabagging were combining forces to show members of Congress how powerful they are. Thousands were expected. It was going to be HUGE.
This morning, the Moonie Times, the favorite paper of DC right-wingers, piled on. The paper headlined news that the teabaggers were coming to DC — not just coming, they were going to storm Capitol Hill.
It was a big bust. Pence and Bachmann were there. But, they weren’t joined by “thousands of Tea Party activists.” Not even close.
Think Progress tweeted from the event:
About 100 people at today’s “major” Tea Party rally http://yfrog.com/gz1jgcrj #losingsteam
Over at DailyKos, Jed Lewison has a clip from FOX News, where they blamed the weather for the pathetic turnout. Seriously, the weather. I can report that it was cloudy and a little drizzly here in DC today. That’s it. Jed notes:
Yeah, the weather really killed the rally. Just like the only reason the rallies were so big in Wisconsin was its gorgeous mid-winter weather (complete with sunny blue skies and palm trees!).
Or here’s another thought: maybe the tea party fizzle has something to do with the fact that the tea party isn’t popular anymore.
That probably won’t stop them from getting excessive media coverage, especially on FOX. But, I bet a lot of people on Capitol Hill are a lot less worried about the teabaggers today than they were yesterday.
One more thing: as we noted over at AMERICAblog Gay, the teabaggers in the House have abandoned the pretense that they are focused on fiscal issues. The House Republicans are working to end DC’s same-sex marriage law. They just can’t quit their legislative gay-bashing. And, they’d rather go after the gays than create jobs.
There’s no two ways around it. Both Dimon and the Chamber are dangerous and they’re destroying America. Now Dimon is saying that new regulation will be the “the nail in our coffin for big American banks.” The only “nail” is the one that bankers like Dimon drove through the heart of America when they trashed the economy and sent millions to the unemployment line. Maybe Dimon wants a little refresher on the destruction that his industry left behind? You know, trillions spent saving them, high unemployment, millions of lost homes, credit ruined for individuals (not so much for the banks) and Fed policies that still is punish savers so that the bankers can get their books back in good shape.
Wasn’t it enough to crush everyone else’s hopes and dreams as the economy crumbled? No, the bankers like Dimon still want more. They won’t be happy until they get paid even more and the entire damned country is bankrupt. Keep speaking to the Chamber of Commerce since they also want to see the demise of America. They never know when enough is enough. Financial Times:
Regulators are negotiating international capital standards for the biggest banks but the chief executive of JP Morgan Chase said setting the new requirements too high, or allowing overseas banks to calculate their asset base differently, could disadvantage US banks and was already stifling economic growth.
“If you want to set it so high that no big bank ever goes bankrupt… I think that would greatly diminish growth,” he told a US Chamber of Commerce conference.
If only we could be so lucky. Let the banks go someone else and ruin an economy.
As you might guess, they say it’s not much of a problem that the radioactive water is leaking into the sea. Hmmmm.
The water was seeping Saturday from a newly discovered crack in a maintenance pit on the edge of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear site into the Pacific Ocean, Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said.
Measurements show the air right above it contained 1,000 millisieverts of radioactivity. Exposure to 500 millisieverts over a short period of time can increase the long-term risk of cancer. But experts say radiation is quickly diluted by the vast Pacific and that even large amounts have little effect.
Seawater near Japan’s stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant shows significantly higher levels of radioactive iodine than in recent days, Japan’s nuclear safety agency reported March 30. Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said that seawater collected about 300 yards from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant was found to contain iodine 131 at 3,355 times the safety standard, the highest levels reported so far. Meanwhile, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of the plant, acknowledged for the first time that at least reactors 1 through 4 of the six-reactor complex will have to be written off. (NYT, March 31) A US engineer who helped install reactors at Fukushima, speaking anonymously to the Scandinavian environmental NGO Bellona, said he believes the radioactive core in reactor Number 2 may have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor—a development that would pose a grave risk to soil and groundwater. (Bellona, March 31)