Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Archive for March 2011

Canada will have a federal election coming up in May

leave a comment »

Sure there is unrest in the Middle East, cleanup in Japan, and rising oil prices everywhere. But let’s not forget that Canadians will spend their spring listening to politicians attack each other, in other words, a spring election.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been in charge for over 5 years, yet hasn’t had a majority government in that time. And there are three other parties that want to be in control, even if the only realistic person besides Harper is Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff. And Ignatieff won’t do any better than a minority government himself.

We will have extensive coverage on our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com, including this opening preview of the upcoming election.

Written by democracysoup

March 26, 2011 at 7:15 am

Dennis Kucinich gets moment in the sun for principled stand, but MSM normally runs away from him

leave a comment »

There is a former presidential candidate who is on his third wife, and has been around a long time in politics. But unlike Newt Gingrich, this guy can’t seem to get on television no matter how hard he tries.

Dennis Kucinich has run for president in the last two elections, has been a Congressman since 1997, and has the whole “boy mayor” angle from the days when he ran Cleveland.

But the MSM tries really hard not to put Kucinich on television no matter how smart he is — funny how Gingrich does not have that problem.

Kucinich even has an attractive wife, and never served divorce papers to a wife while she was recovering from cancer.

But now Dennis Kucinich is on the TV all the time. Why now after all these years?

Because, according to Kucinich, President Barack Obama’s decision to participate in a no-fly zone “would appear on its face to be an impeachable offense.”

Networks worked really hard to exclude Kucinich from presidential debates, one even after he had been invited. And now, they want to hear what he has to say.

There were calls for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to be impeached, and Kucinich wasn’t invited on those shows. Unlike what Bush and Cheney were accused of, what Obama did was very similar and/or even less so than several recent presidents.

We can agree with Kucinich that Congress should be the only ones to declare war, that the War Powers Act doesn’t mean Congress can sacrifice its responsibilities. We don’t think the current action, as is, falls under the war category. But Kucinich’s overall point is spot on.

And even where we might disagree with the Cleveland area Congressman, we think he should be on TV with this point of view.

But the better question is why the MSM thinks this is finally the team to put Kucinich on television. Newt Gingrich is considered one of the smartest Republicans, and Kucinich is way smarter than Gingrich. Networks fall over themselves to put Gingrich on TV.

Okay, so Kucinich isn’t a beauty queen, but neither is Gingrich. Yet one of them is on TV all the time.

The difference — conservative vs. liberal — is only part of the argument. Kucinich isn’t just a liberal; he’s very liberal and extremely principled, neither of which makes for good television.

Even as the MSM claims that it is balanced, they rarely put someone as liberal as the conservatives they feature on TV. Have you honestly seen someone as liberal as Ann Coulter is conservative?

Dennis Kucinich isn’t an opportunistic liberal, or even person. He doesn’t jump on a bandwagon just to do so; he reacts purely on princple, and isn’t motivated by talking points. Kucinich has railed against presidents of both major parties because he feels that his principles are important, and politics shouldn’t get in the way.

This is the antithesis of the ways the MSM reacts to political fighting. Those who are opportunistic, sway with the breezes of the moment, talks in contradictions often in the same breath — they get on political television. People such as Newt Gingrich.

So enjoy Dennis Kucinich on television while he’s there. Because when Libya drops off the front page, Kucinich will go back to where he usually resides — off that front page. Would be nice if the MSM had room for someone such as Kucinich in the many other times where principles reign supreme.

Written by democracysoup

March 24, 2011 at 7:14 am

James O’Keefe antics proves MSM needs NPR and PBS to cover its mistakes

leave a comment »

ACORN, NPR — these have been the targets of James O’Keefe. Amazingly, the MSM (more alphabet soup) treats O’Keefe as a “journalist” even if the other set of videos he did were heavily edited. And his NPR videos were heavily edited.

The NPR are the latest in attacks against it and PBS by Republicans, because, well, they aren’t the MSM. They actually try and get out of the mainstream voices into the media. They don’t toe the GOP line like the MSM does way too often.

This isn’t to say that NPR and PBS are perfect or even that good. They have been better but have suffered due to financial pressure, including the reduction in funding, and political pressure.

The way that the MSM treats James O’Keefe, as if he is one of them, is all the more reason why NPR and PBS need to receive federal funding, and get a raise.

Consumers complain about the funding drives of NPR stations and the mindless self-help and doo-wop programming during PBS pledge drives. Add to this the pseudo-commercials that they both run, and consumers scratch their heads in frustration.

NPR and PBS have the best chances to thrive with the least pressure. The better examples are BBC and CBC, though the Conservatives in Canada, currently in charge of the minority government, have put political pressure on the CBC.

Those on the right freak out over “government ownership” of anything, whether it temporary helps out auto manufacturers or NPR or PBS. Of course, the conversation would be more relevant if they knew that the government doesn’t own NPR or PBS or the car companies.

There is funding, not ownership. Ownership is where there is accountability, funding — not so much. And NPR and PBS don’t receive that much funding.

The BBC and CBC manage to better report on what is going on in the government than their commercial counterparts. Same goes for NPR and PBS, to a lesser degree. NPR and PBS are less effective than their British and Canadian siblings, but the U.S. commercial networks are less effective as well.

The alternative media is doing a really good job in pointing out the bias and flaws of the MSM, but they are portrayed at “blogosphere” — as if they don’t really count. Then again, the MSM thinks James O’Keefe is more credible than Slate or Salon or the lefty sites.

And because that isn’t true, all the more reason why NPR and PBS need all the help they can get — free from political pressure — to cover what is going on in the world. Someone in the public eye needs to fix what the MSM can’t find, much less fix.

Written by democracysoup

March 23, 2011 at 7:39 am

Hillary Clinton has earned the right to do whatever she wants in her quest to help people

leave a comment »

If Hillary Clinton wanted to be Secretary of State for four more years, she could. She might even be a candidate for the post under a Republican president.

If Hillary Clinton wanted another post in the Cabinet, she could have it. She could even take her pick of what that would be.

A friend of mine asked me if the rumors were true that Joe Biden would not run on the ticket in 2012, so Hillary Clinton would take over. I told him that likely wouldn’t happen. But if she wanted that, who knows?

Regardless of whether they supported her in the presidential run of 2008, people look to see what Hillary Clinton will accomplish.

Clinton is not the first female Secretary of State or even the first Democratic female in that post. She would be the first female VP and/or president.

But in her remarks this week, Clinton doesn’t seem to want to do anything that might appear to be structured in the traditional power roles. This has thrown off the perception of Clinton’s career. Her path since 1983 has been First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator from New York, presidential candidate with the second most primary/caucus votes ever in the modern era, and Secretary of State.

But Clinton doesn’t want a position with the trappings of power. She wants to orchestrate change from the outside looking in.

So what has made Clinton change her path?

Clinton has done a very good job as Secretary of State, but people thought even then that Clinton’s strengths lie in domestic issues. Ironically, as her husband did well on domestic issues during his presidency, he has scored more points on the international stage.

Even as Hillary Clinton will not be a part of the presidential race in 2012 or presumably 2016, Clinton may be seen as a kingmaker, or queenmaker, in 2016. Her followers from 2008, and there were a lot of them, will look to see who she likes in 2016.

Clinton has said she does not want to run for president in 2016. She will turn 69 just before Election Day 2016. While age may be a factor in men running for president (Reagan, McCain), women might have an advantage at that age.

But if the GOP prospects aren’t sure if they are running for president in 2012, no one will know if they want to run in 2016. This isn’t to say Clinton is not being forthright. Just that nobody knows now what the future holds for anyone.

We are much more certain that Joe Biden won’t run for president in 2016. If Obama wins, there won’t be a front-runner in the Democratic Party. If Obama loses in 2012, there will be a four-year scramble to be said front-runner. After all, the Democratic candidate from 2008 with the third-highest vote total is John Edwards.

Hillary Clinton has earned the right to do whatever she wants in life. And she is interested in working on making the lives of people better, something she was very much known for in her work before becoming a First Lady. There aren’t too many politicians, regardless of gender, who can make their own path. Hillary Clinton is one of those people. The fact that she is a woman makes her a trailblazer for future generations of females looking for a way to improve the lives of the people.

GOP isn’t trying to grow jobs, and now is content to increase unemployment

leave a comment »

Smarty pants type people will tell you that 8 states touch the Great Lakes, though 5 of those states forms the hardcore Great Lakes region: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.

No offense intended to Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New York, but you won’t be featured in this column.

The core Great Lakes region is in the national spotlight for reasons that would have been unthinkable last October, and are disturbing in light of how the region has suffered economically even before the crash of 2008.

Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio went from Democratic and Republican in the governor’s mansion in November. Indiana has been Republican. Illinois is the only of the five states to currently have a Democratic governor.

This isn’t the South where unions are far more rare. And Republicans in the Midwest usually are less threatening than their Southern counterparts.

You see the protesters in Wisconsin and Ohio with more to come in Michigan. Indiana has dealt with this previously.

We predicted that the Republicans would do nothing to increase jobs. Didn’t quite see the deliberate reduction of jobs as part of the GOP strategy.

People in unions, whether they be in government jobs or private jobs, make up a significant portion of what is left of the middle class. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker threatened to layoff state workers that didn’t need to be pink-slipped.

Republicans on the federal level cry about state’s rights in order to reduce the number of federal government employees. Now we have Republicans telling us that we have too many state government employees, and what few remain must do so without basic bargaining rights.

The fact that Scott Walker worked to limit the law to those who didn’t support him in the election campaign shows how little the GOP is committed to a principled stand.

And the feds are pushing through cuts that will send more people to the unemployment line.

There was a feeling in the 2010 election that the Democratic Party didn’t do enough to stem the rising tide of unemployment. We here at Democracy Soup agreed with that sentiment.

The disagreement came from the solution: enough people decided to punish the Dems for their lack of effort. Our solution would be to elect a stronger majority so more could get done.

Not only do we not have any efforts to increase jobs in the United States, but also we have strong passionate calls to reduce the few jobs left in this country.

Before Keith Olbermann was chased off MSNBC, he would sign off his program by asking John Boehner, “Where are the jobs?”

We will pay homage to Olbermann and those looking for work by asking the GOP, “Where are the jobs and where are the jobs to replace the lost ones you all are chasing away?”

Okay, that isn’t catchy. But the fear exists that the MSM — and the Obama Administration — have already forgotten that millions are still looking for work. Their obsession over deficits, as opposed to job creation, has the potential to double dip this recession.

To paraphrase James Carville, “it’s the jobs, stupid.” The MSM, GOP, and the White House need to learn this before it’s way too late.

One year after ‘Obamacare’ passes, millions still waiting for help to arrive

leave a comment »

We recently reached the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known derisively as Obamacare. But millions of Americans don’t feel like celebrating.

Oh, there are the teabaggers and the like, who vilify the contents as they are told what is in there, even if the list doesn’t match reality, and don’t realize the bill will actually help them.

No, we’re talking about people who like the idea of the bill, would love the act to be stronger, but most importantly, are waiting for the bill to impact their lives.

Those who lost their health insurance when they lost their job, lost their COBRA when their former employers went out of business, and can’t buy insurance no matter how badly they want it. These people are still waiting.

And they will have to keep waiting until 2013 or 2014. And maybe longer.

If there is a President Palin or Pawlenty in 2013, their version of HHS may not want to explain a bill that they hate, that is confusing to those who like it.

The perception in the news and elsewhere is that the ACA won’t kick in for most Americans until 2013 or 2014 for budgetary reasons. The nay-sayers noted that 10 years of funding for 7 years of coverage was designed to make the numbers look better.

Imagine my surprise at a recent panel discussion on the ACA when two HHS employees explained that the delay was caused by needing time to set up the new structure, including state exchanges.

What… the… ?

After catching my breath, I informed them that this was news to me and anybody else I knew. They were surprised that I was surprised. And if you were surprised, trust us, you’re not alone.

We heard a ton from the anti-reform group, but very little from the pro-reform element, especially within the Obama Administration.

Every Democratic politician who lost a race in 2010 should be furious that the ACA wasn’t explained better.

Even a political neophyte could see that health care reform had to be overexplained. Yet the Obama Administration went for the very underexplained option. Getting sympathetic voters to the polls in 2010 was rather difficult given that the anti-reform people knew what they hated, even if it hadn’t kicked in, and the pro-reform people weren’t told why they had to wait for the reform.

Imagine how many more Democratic politicians would have kept their job if more of their constituents were helped by the ACA in 2010.

Recent college graduates got their help, being able to stay on their parents insurance unless, of course, their parents lost their health insurance. And there are a few peripheral moves, but most people are still left in the dark.

Oh, there is a program to help those who haven’t been insured for at least 6 months; not clear if this is part of the ACA. But this does seem a slap in the face of those who bought insurance and played by the rules. They have to wait and wait and wait.

The two women at HHS wanted me to note that there is a Web site — healthcare.gov — that explains what is in the Affordable Care Act. Overall, there is a lot of information, but you have to know what you are looking for, something that isn’t helpful if you don’t know what might be coming, someday.

Even when the ACA is fully implemented, presuming that the policies will be funded and implemented, the United States will still have the worst health care system in the Western world. We still will have insurance companies decide who and how they get treated, people will still live in fear over health care. Heck, we finally set a mark that gives a floor for insurance companies to make a 20% profit (making them spend 80ยข on the dollar for medical expenses).

The truth is that we don’t need health insurance companies in the way that other countries do well without their powerful input. Their citizens get better health care for less money.

True, the ACA will make things better than they are now. But the Obama Administration and the HHS should know that “too little, too late” doesn’t even apply here, because most Americans haven’t even received “too little” and “too late” went away a long time ago.

Christie, Huckabee praise Michelle Obama, but still repeat Sarah Palin’s lies

leave a comment »

Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee did something on TV talk shows on Sunday that few Republicans have dared to do: praise Michelle Obama’s drive to reduce childhood obesity.

Why that is daring is something that greater minds than mine should work to figure out.

But the one commonality, besides their own relationship with weight issues, is that in praising the First Lady’s efforts, they both felt the need to repeat the lies of Sarah Palin.

For a more in-depth look at these two GOP politicians and Sarah Palin’s impact on them, read the story in our sister blog, BalanceofFood.com.