Who Defines the “True Progressives”? (Part I)

Senator Warren, still my idol. Here’s some more excerpts from the MassLive interview:

Q: Who is we? I hear progressives, and politicians in general, talk a lot about the middle class, but not much about people who live in poverty. Why is that?

Warren: One of the things I talk about is the way I divide the world. It’s the top ten percent who do very, very well; and the remaining ninety percent. And I talk about the interests of the ninety percent together, and make the argument that the investments in education, in infrastructure, in a robust economy, and in research are the things that benefit the ninety percent.

Q: So the breakfast waitress, and the dual-income double-professor family?

Warren: That’s right. Who are busting their rear ends but still can’t pull it all together. So that’s really the idea behind it. America once worked to build a lot of opportunity. And they called it the middle class; they filtered things through the middle class. But the truth was, opportunity was there for the middle class, for the working class, for the working poor, and for the poor poor. And you watch from about 1935 to about 1980, income goes up for everyone.

Q: Are you talking about Reagan; the 1980 mark?

Warren: Yes, that’s the 1980 mark. And African Americans talk about this as well. From the time we first started measuring, there was a black-white wealth gap; a big one. But we were hooked on the idea of opportunity. When the Civil Rights movement picks up steam in the 1960s and 70s, the black-white wealth gap shrinks by 30 percent. Then the shift to a trickle-down economy causes the black-white wealth gap to triple. So that’s the point. We can make a set of investments that work for all of us.

Q: You know some African-American political analysts say the progressive movement is tone-deaf when it comes to race. They say economic opportunity is all well and good, but it’s not going to make racism go away.

Warren: I talk about this in the book; about the economics of race. Which is a different point. It’s there in the first part of the story; how we built a middle class, and it’s there in the second part with trickle-down economics. But I also talk about it in terms of the politics of race. And the discussions around the Republicans; the dog-whistles on race, and then Donald Trump’s deliberate efforts to try to stir up bigotry…

That’s really an essential point — the Democratic Party’s problem is not that civil rights and women’s rights are somehow a distraction from “real” economic issues. It’s that, in our two-party system, some people who don’t want to call themselves Republicans are trying to turn the Democratic Party into a platform to talk about their issues (ECONOMIC JUSTICE! SINGLE PAYER NOW!) rather than the messy, open-ended coalition of “special interest groups” (urban activists, local machine politicians, immigrant workers, civil rights and women’s rights supporters) we’ve been at our best and most successful.

In fact, this is another nasty revival from the original Gilded Age, when Finley Peter Dunne mocked the Goo-Goos determined to purge American politics of ‘corrupt’ urban professional politicians (with the help of voter registration!) and replace them with clean-minded properly-educated white ‘native-born’ men. Just as it was more than a century ago, it’s always the people of color, immigrants, women — and working-class — voters who are expected to sacrifice themselves for True Progressivism.

(To be continued)



Thursday Morning Open Thread: “Make This Fight Your Fight”

Some people are gonna be disappointed she didn’t call the other candidate in the 2016 Dem primaries out, but that’s not Sen. Warren’s style.

(I was originally gonna post Maddow’s latest interview with Sen. Warren, but FYWP isn’t cooperating.)

Apart from continuing to fight all the good fights, what’s on the agenda for the day?

And a reminder, because I’m allergy-addled and cranky, from Mr. Charles P. Pierce — “Why Trump Won”:

[O]ne of the more interesting sidelights of what certainly will be a deluge of post-mortems regarding the 2016 presidential campaign is the widely held notion that Hillary Rodham Clinton was gifted with a uniquely easy opponent. This idea is central to the narrative that holds that HRC’s campaign was a uniquely bad one, and she a uniquely bad candidate. She couldn’t even beat a reality-show star who doesn’t know North Korea from East Hampton. True, there were a number of things that HRC and her campaign did badly, but they did get three million more votes than did Trump, which counts for something…

Consider this: Whatever you may think of how he won the presidency, and we’ll get to that in a minute, Trump took on a Republican field composed of what was alleged to be the best that party had to offer, the deepest part of its allegedly deep bench, and he utterly destroyed it. Scott Walker, popular scourge of middle-school history teachers, never even made it to the starting gate. Rand Paul, brogressive libertarian heartthrob, was reduced to invisibility. Chris Christie was demolished as a national political figure. Marco Rubio—The Republican Savior, according to Time—is still wandering the political landscape looking, as Abraham Lincoln said of General Hooker after Chancellorsville, like a duck that’s been hit on the head. And, when he finally got around to it, he took the heart out of Tailgunner Ted Cruz in Indiana, alleging on the morning of the primary that Cruz’s father hobnobbed in New Orleans with Lee Harvey Oswald.

That Trump never paid a price in the eyes of his voters for that kind of meretricious goonery is the best evidence there is that, in 2016, anyway, he was in every sense a formidable political force. And, let it not be forgotten that he brought with him a Republican Senate, a Republican House, and massive gains out in the states as well.

Moreover, and I owe a hat tip to Scott Lemieux here, it’s likely in retrospect that Trump’s plan of action, while unconventional in the extreme and relentlessly eccentric, also was based in a kind of mad logic. There really was a big slice of the electorate, concentrated in states that were vital in the Electoral College, that was uniquely susceptible to Trump’s appeal. He and his people spotted it and campaigned accordingly.

The myth of Trump’s vulnerability has two sources, I think. The first is the apparently irresistible impulse in some quarters to score some sort of final victory over the Clinton family… The other is the reluctance of Republicans—and of the elite political classes at large—to accept the reality that Trump is merely a cruder manifestation of the political prion disease that has afflicted conservatism and the Republican Party since it first ate the monkeybrains 35 years ago. It was all leading to someone like Trump, and something like last year’s election.

So many people had been driven away from the voting booths — deliberately or not — and so many other people at both ends of the political spectrum had allowed themselves the luxury of believing that their votes were tickets to an entertaining spectacle… that all it took was a few million rubles’ worth of monkey-mischief and the deliberate collusion of the FBI to hand the Oval Office over the Donald Effing Trump. But none of the guilty parties, least of all in Our Major Media, are willing to accept their share of the blame; ergo, it must be That Woman’s fault. Mom should’ve made us not drink a mixture of bleach and ammonia, what a horrible failure she is for assuming that telling us it was poison & we’d regret it later would be enough to deter us!

That’s not how it works, fellas. You’re (putative) grownups now, and you have to take responsibility for your own failures. And, no, those of us with better sense are not gonna ‘get over it’ any time in the immediate future, nor make the mistake of trusting you further than we can see you.



Monday Morning Open Thread: Nevertheless, They Persisted

Another book I look forward to reading. From the Boston Globe:

Warren has produced a policy-focused (or, in her word, “nerdy”) book that is reflective of a politician whose future could depend on preserving Democratic alliances. Put another way, this is no Bernie Sanders-style screed.

In a rare interview at her home in Cambridge on Friday, Warren explained that she wanted to focus on how American government has stopped working for all but the very wealthiest citizens and corporations, and her worry that President Trump “is about to deliver the knockout blow” to the country’s floundering middle class.

Pressed on why she doesn’t use the opportunity of a well-timed book to offer a sharper critique of the Democratic Party, Warren’s answer is, essentially: Circular firing squads aren’t very productive.

“I never lose sight of the fact that Democrats have tried to do more for working people than Republicans,” she said. “Have Democrats failed? Yes. There have been places where we have not fought as hard as we should, but Republicans as a party have blocked every move that would have helped working families.”…

As Warren put it in the interview, corporate money invades Washington and “slithers through there like a snake.”

Warren was talking about campaign contributions and hired-gun lobbyists, but also about money that funds think tanks and other “experts for hire,” advertising, and even the courts that she argues also now “tilt in the direction of the rich and powerful.”

“And now, Donald Trump is in place and has assembled a team of billionaires and bankers that are pushing one blow after another to working families,” she said in the interview….

Her book ends with the Women’s March in Boston in January and thus stops before one of the most memorable recent skirmishes in her battle with Republicans — when Senate Republicans, led by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, voted to formally silence her during debate over the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general.

The moment went viral and earned Warren a round of generally favorable national press coverage — not to mention a fresh flood of campaign contributions from her national network.

It also, apparently, has earned her an enduring cold-shoulder from McConnell…

Pissy little fella, ain’t he?

Patriot’s Day holiday or not, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?



Open Thread: Pay Attention to Senator Warren, People!



Prospective Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross’ Russian Ties, and Trump’s

The Guardian has all the grimy granular details here.

Thanks to the GOP, Mr. Ross was confirmed regardless of his many conflicts.

Speaking of Repubs with questionable ties to shady Russian financiers, and their defenders…

Per CNN, “House intel committee agrees to scope of Trump-Russia probe[warning: autoplay]:

… “We have a document that we’ve signed and we’ll be giving out obviously, some announcement at some point,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told CNN when asked if the members had agreed on the terms of their investigation.

Nunes, a California Republican, added that members have already been briefed on the transcripts of calls between former national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador and are proceeding deliberately on the investigation…

Nunes also brushed off calls by Democrats and at least one Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa, for an independent investigation into Russia’s influence and hit back against allegations that he coordinated a response to previous reports with the White House.

They can say whatever they want, but at the end of the day, I hold the gavel, they’re in the minority and we’re going to do what we want to do. We have the votes and we’ve been elected to do that. If that ever changes, then obviously that would be different,” Nunes told CNN. “At this point, I’m not going to give up jurisdiction of this committee that for a long time that has been trusted with the nation’s top secrets. We are not going to give up that jurisdiction to anyone else as long as I’m here.”

Tensions escalated Monday between Nunes and the top Democrat working on the Russia investigation, Rep. Adam Schiff, after Nunes said he had seen no evidence yet of Russian officials communicating with Trump campaign aides and Schiff said it was too early to tell.
Read more



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: “Nevertheless, She Persisted”

It’s not as though Mitch McConnell would be going down in the record books for any positive actions, after all. Given the history of Southern racists’ fragile ‘honor’, I suppose we should be grateful these ‘gentlemen’ are no longer allowed to carry weapons in the chamber. Per the Washington Post:

Senate Republicans passed a party-line rebuke Tuesday night of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for a speech opposing attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions, striking down her words for impugning the Alabama senator’s character.

In an extraordinarily rare move, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) interrupted Warren’s speech, in a near-empty chamber as debate on Sessions’s nomination heads toward a Wednesday evening vote, and said that she had breached Senate rules by reading past statements against Sessions from figures such as the late senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and the late Coretta Scott King….

“Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation,” he said. “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Other Democrats later came to her defense and tried to have King’s letter placed into the Senate record. But Republican senators quickly objected. They did so again when Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the chamber’s only African American woman, asked that Warren be allowed to resume participation in the debate…

Public reaction quickly intensified online. RedBubble.com, an online clothing website for independent designers, began selling a “She Persisted” T-shirt or sweatshirt — seizing on McConnell’s admonition of Warren. Democrats began using #LetLizSpeak on Twitter and posted copies of King’s letter on Facebook to draw more attention to Warren’s speech…

(Olivia Pope would’ve told McConnell he was making a serious mistake, one suspects.)



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: (Ruck)Sack Up


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Full points to all the Democratic senators who filibustered the (probably inevitable, thanks Repubs!) appointment of Betsy DeVos, but of course I have a personal favorite…


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So… what’s on the agenda for the day, and going forward?