Monday, August 13, 2012

Inside The Beltway, Does Centrism Mean Hell?


Amash & Pestka-- did we find the one race where the Republican is actually better than the Democrat!?!

Saturday night I watched Honolulu TV; that Internet sure is amazing. I followed the live returns from the Hawaii primary. I also happened to catch a segment with perennial loser Ed Case, an ultra-reactionary far right Democrat who had the distinction last decade of having been the worst Democrat in Congress, a member of both the Blue Dogs and the New Dems who consistently supported the GOP on their entire agenda. That may have quite a lot to do with why he's lost every single election-- basically for every office that's come up-- since then. And Saturday was no different. He was trounced by Mazie Hirono and crept off with a pretty dismal 41% of the vote. During the interview I watched he kept referring to himself as a "moderate" and as a "mainstream" Democrat. The poor reporter was chosen for his nice clean cut looks, not for his ability to go toe-to-toe with a dishonest politician. I have no idea why anyone hires most of the Beltway pundits but you rarely find any ability to go toe-to-toe with dishonest politicians among them either.

And allowing raging conservatives to get away with calling themselves "moderates" is a whole way of life in DC. I'm not even talking about all the brilliant reporters who have spent years referring to radical right sociopath Paul Ryan as "a moderate." Just inside the Democratic Party it's become a truism that the far right of the party-- homophobes, anti-Choice fanatics, Wall Street shills, warmongers...-- are "moderates" and that anyone who holds a vaguely mainstream Democratic value is a "left-winger." In fact, Case used that phrase to describe Mazie Hirono on the interview I watched last night.

Brain-dead pundits and would-be pundits in Washington routinely refer to Blue Dogs and other characters from the far right of the Democratic Party-- mostly, though not exclusively, from the Old Confederacy-- who are completely out-of-touch with any progressive policy agenda items as "moderates" and "centrists." Here's that fount of anti-wisdom, The Hill insinuating that, for example, corrupt, reactionary future lobbyist Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR), is an "ideological centrist." Ross, votes with the GOP on almost all important policy issues. His ProgressivePunch score this year is a dismal 17.83, more right-wing than any other Democrat other than Dan Boren, another Blue Dog, like Ross and fellow reactionary Heath Shuler of North Carolina, retiring from Congress. On the other hand, 11 Republicans have more progressive voting scores than Ross this year. Ross was whining to The Hill about how the voters have basically wiped out the Blue Dogs entirely and how that has made him want to move on with his life. Ah... where are the good old days when the Conservative Consensus dominated everything and voters just did what they were told?
“It’s frustrating to me that when I got to Congress, we governed in odd years and we played politics in even years. And now it seems like it’s politics throughout the entire two-year term,” he told The Hill. “And Democrats and Republicans are both to blame for that ... I don’t see either party really compromising.”
Experts concede that party polarization is asymmetrical, with the GOP moving further and further to the right. But both parties have been fleeing the center in recent years, leaving a dearth of centrists willing to come together in agreement on long-term legislation.

That last paragraph may have been inelegantly phrased and perhaps the writer wasn't even sure what she meant to say, which is basically that the GOP has gone so far right that the "center" is in Washington is much further towards fascism than any intelligent American would ever want to accept. She even managed to trot out some hackish imbecile, James Thurber, the useless, ancient and doddering director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, to compare the Progressive Caucus to the destructive sociopaths who dominate the GOP. But even Thurber is smarter than "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel, chair of the DCCC who's trying to bring the Blue Dogs back to life. “I think it’s unlikely that we’ll get Blue Dogs back in," admitted Thurber. "The South is realigned, it’s Republican; many of the Blue Dogs lost in the South. I don’t see the Blue Dogs coming back. I see the Republican Party just sort of going off the cliff on the far right.”

That isn't stopping Israel, who would rather lose an opportunity for the Democrats to win back the House than to see progressives win House races. You won't find a better example than in western North Carolina. Two progressives ran against two right-wing ConservaDems in NC-10 and NC-11. In the 11th Heath Shuler realized the redistricting by the Republican legislature spelled the end of his career so he decided to become a lobbyist. His slimy chief of staff, Hayden Rogers was recruited to run by Israel. A local county official and Democratic activist, Cecil Bothwell, was already running, and Israel made sure Rogers could bury him in institutional cash. He won and, although he has absolutely no chance to win whatsoever, he is now on the Red-to-Blue program for no objective reason except that he's an anti-Choice, antigay, corrupt anti-family hack who is pledged to support Israel's own career goals. Next door Israel recruited a similar shill, Terri Bellamy but she was so implausible that she lost every single county in the district-- and by a lot-- to progressive state Rep. Patsy Keever. Israel has refused to allow the DCCC to help Keever at all, even though her 10th district is far more winnable than the 11th. And that, in short, is why the Republicans will maintain the majority in November. That's how Israel is running the DCCC.

There are 10 Blue Dog challengers running for Congress: Leonard Bembry (FL- who has a primary tomorrow), Dave Crooks (IN), Pam Gulleson (ND), Nick Lampson (TX), Gary McDowell (MI), Brendan Mullen (IN), Sal Pace (CO), Hayden Rogers (NC), Rob Wallace (OK, who has a runoff August 28... against another arch-conservative) and Charlie Wilson (OH). Every single one of them has either gone directly onto the Red-to-Blue list or is in some other category of DCCC support. Meanwhile, the equally odious New Dems have endorsed 27 conservative Democratic challengers and-- you guessed it-- they're all on the DCCC lists as well:

Shelley Adler, NJ
Ron Barber, AZ
Ami Bera, CA
Kathy Boockvar, PA
Joaquin Castro, TX
Andrei Cherny, AZ (subject to a primary August 28 but Israel is pushing him)
John Delaney, MD
Suzan DelBene, WA
Val Demings, FL
Jessica Ehrlich, FL
Keith Fitzgerald, FL
Bill Foster, IL
Joyce Healy-Abrams, OH
Denny Heck, WA
Paul Hirschbiel, VA
Derek Kilmer, WA
Dan Maffei, NY
Patrick Murphy, FL
Sal Pace, CO
Scott Peters, CA
Brad Schneider, IL
Julian Schreibman, NY
Manan Trivedi, PA
Juan Vargas, CA
Christie Vilsack, IA
Jamie Wall, WI
Charlie Wilson, OH

And then there's anti-Choice fanatic Steve Pestka, who just won his primary in MI-03 against Trevor Thomas and will face Justin Amash in November. And, speaking of "centrists," Amash votes with the Democrats more than almost any other Republican. After Ron Paul leaves, he'll be the voice of American libertarianism inside Congress. And he also votes more with the Democrats than 8 Blue Dogs, 8 Blue Dogs very much like Pestka. We've never endorsed a Republican before. I know Amash is much more of an anti-war candidate than Pestka. And he's not as extreme as Pestka in the War Against Women conservatives are waging. They're both anti-Choice but Pestka doesn't allow for an exception for rape and incest and I hear that Amash does. I need to check that out. When David Malone, PAC Director of Right to Life of Michigan was asked why they didn't endorse Amash this year, he said "Right to Life of Michigan PAC has chosen not to endorse the candidacy of Representative Amash in the 2012 primary election. While he was previously endorsed in the 2010 general election and during his time in the state legislature, his voting record in Congress led the state board of the Right to Life of Michigan PAC to decide to not endorse his candidacy in the upcoming election. In his first term in Congress, Representative Amash voted "present" twice on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood (America's leading abortion provider) and voted "no" on legislation to outlaw sex-selection abortions." Michigan Right to Life rated Pestka's voting record 100% when he was in the state legislature and he did join the extremists in voting to defund Planned Parenthood. Steve Israel forced the DCCC to add Pestka to their endorsed list within hours of his victory. We need to do a little more digging around on that one.

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At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First time I've read any of your posts.

I thought it might help you if I shared my feeling that using words like 'psychopath' and 'doddering' really makes people like me discount everything else you've written; to me it indicates bias and irrationality.

I understand you chose those words deliberately, and you use these words based on your honest and consider opinion, but if your writing is to persuade those who don't already agree with you, you're taking a counter-productive tact.

But, good luck with what you're doing. Anyone who engages nowadays should be commended.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger John said...

Where's the good Col. Nathan R. Jessep when we need him?

John Puma

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Jacob said...

You worship Republican moderates like 40 year establishment incumbent DICK Lugar, but want to purge Democratic "Blue Dogs".
That makes you a hypocrite.
I like Amash a lot, he challenges his party's talking points and holds them accountable for being soulless traitors to people's freedoms and fiscal sellouts to Pelosi's agenda. You don't challenge yours and probably love Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Hillary, Dodd and Feinstein.
I don't see why Democrats get away with it then expect people to assume they care about freedom.
Down With Tyranny?


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