Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Archive for September 2011

Occupy Wall St. pepper spray proves police need to treat liberal protesters same as conservative protesters

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Has a teabagger ever been tear-gassed?

Watching those poor young women being pepper sprayed in the Occupy Wall St. demonstrations made me wonder if right-wing protesters ever suffer any negative reaction from the police or other authorities.

Do teabaggers get their heads bashed? Forced to breathe in tear gas? Tasered? Being inside a barrier? Cornered alongside innocent bystanders?

We’re told that conservatives get angry (Obama/Hitler signs, fetus pictures) but they don’t get angry enough to upset the police or force them to take action. Conservatives don’t usually have a problem getting permits to protest, a major hurdle liberals can’t always climb. And while the teabaggers are fighting authority, usually that authority isn’t right in their faces.

These young women were part of a protest but weren’t confronting the police, weren’t even angry enough for officers to be concerned. And yet they were pepper-sprayed; others were as well.

Some of those in Toronto at the corner of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue were heading to a protest. A lot of them were waiting for streetcars or crossing an intersection when they were swept up by police and then were boxed into a crowd with no escape and a subsequent rainstorm.

Countless protests over the years. Police responding with tear gas, pepper spray, billy clubs, tasers, and a host of other weapons — sometimes justified, often not justified.

The teabaggers are protesting because they don’t like the direction the country is going, and so they take to the streets. So are the liberals. Yet the teabaggers don’t suffer the indignities, pain, and violence that liberal protesters suffer.

Anti-abortion protesters restrain trade, something conservatives don’t normally like to see. They harass people from getting medical care, and yet they don’t suffer as a result from the police.

Teabaggers get angry. Fred Phelps and his crowd get angry. Liberals get angry. But only liberals suffer physical pain.

We could be wrong. A teabagger might be a corn on a foot from protesting. One of Phelps’ people might get a blister of some kind.

Police don’t look at teabaggers and anti-abortion fanatics with the same resolve as liberals get. Conservatives tend to dress better when they protest. They are almost exclusively Caucasian. They get easier access to permits. They might use less profanity.

Blaming the way police treat liberals on the 1968 Democratic Convention or other Vietnam War protests is as lame as it sounds. That was so last century.

Now that conservatives are taking to the streets beyond anti-abortion protests, whatever rules we set as a society for protesters need to be consistent. While the police could treat conservatives as roughly as they do liberals, how about managing a liberal protest with the same care, concern, and decorum that they save for teabaggers or anti-abortion protesters.

No accidental pepper spray. No intimidating cornering of innocent bystanders. No bashing of heads just because they are in front of you.

Police have to respond according to training when they are threatened, regardless of ideology. When they aren’t threatened, they should behave according to police procedure. They don’t seem to have any trouble doing this when conservatives protest, just liberals.

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Dick Cheney’s Vancouver book tour stop: protests, calls for arrest for war crimes

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While George W. Bush sticks to Calgary, Dick Cheney went with Vancouver for his book tour. Those that order waterboarding and torture aren’t supposed to be allowed into Canada. Yet Cheney went through and had a $500-per-table book club event in the Winter Olympics city.

Protests were loud. A Canadian politician got into the headlines.

For more, check out our column from our sister blog, CanadianCrossing.com.

Michele Bachmann calls for less food regulation despite great safety concerns

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Given the stories and potential scandals involving food safety in the United States, finding someone who believes food inspection is a burden would be difficult to find.

Enter Michele Bachmann.

The USDA doesn’t even have a cape against the giant bull of factory farms, yet Rep. Bachmann, a presidential candidate as well, thinks government is too tough against food safety.

“We want to have safety,” she said. “But we also want to have common sense.”

Right now, Rep. Bachmann, we have neither.

Small farmers, especially organic farmers and raw milk farmers, are feeling the heat of government intervention where safety isn’t a concern, unlike factory farms. Yet Bachmann isn’t defending these people from government intervention.

For more on this from the food perspective, check out this entry on our sister blog, BalanceofFood.com.

Dem loss in NY-9 shows voters want economic results, not excuses

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“I am a registered Democrat, I have always been a registered Democrat, I come from a family of Democrats — and I hate to say this, I voted Republican,” said Linda Goldberg, 61, after casting her ballot in Queens. “I need to send a message to the president that he’s not doing a very good job. Our economy is horrible. People are scared.”

This quote stemmed from an article about the GOP capturing the NY-9 House race (Anthony Weiner’s old seat) on why the Dems lost a normally secure seat.

Strength of candidates, Israel, the economy, and overall frustration with Congress led to a temporary shift in this district. The temporary shift isn’t all that different from the GOP losing Mark Foley’s (R-FL) old seat in 2006.

However, this isn’t about a temporary shift in a Congressional district. This is about a voter in that district who either doesn’t understand how our representative democracy works, or doesn’t care. She is entitled to not care; she has that right. What is more worrisome is how voters have been making choices since the 2008 presidential election.

The economy wasn’t that great under Republican rule from 2001-2007; total GOP domination. In the collapse of the economy in fall 2008, blame centered on the president and Dems actually gained seats, riding the Obama wave.

Of course, by this logic, President Barack Obama would suffer because the economy isn’t doing well. And overall in elections since 2008, Obama isn’t doing well.

If blame is going to be tied to the White House, regardless of party, should it matter how hard the president tries to fix the situation?

When George W. Bush was in the role, he did very little to try and boost the economy. In 2004, despite horrible economic numbers, people didn’t blame Bush or the GOP-led Congress for the bad job numbers.

Linda Goldberg wanted to send a message to the president, President Obama, to do something about the economy. Did she not hear about this American Jobs Act? Has she not been aware of what the president and her (not the, but her) Democratic Party has done and/or tried to do on job growth?

Goldberg’s solution is to put her faith in a party that has done nothing to increase jobs since that 2008 election. When the Dems were in charge, the GOP thwarted job growth at every possible opportunity. Every single one.

What kind of message does that send?

This isn’t to make fun of Goldberg; she merely said aloud what many other voters are thinking: “Our economy is horrible. People are scared.”

The major problem is that the forces who are trying to increase job growth are being punished politically, and the forces that are trying to stunt job growth are being rewarded politically.

Millions of Americans like Goldberg are scared and they have every right to be nervous. GOP politicians have very little reason to be scared; unlike millions of Americans, they aren’t in danger of losing their jobs.

Many on the Democratic side hoped that Obama would learn the lessons of FDR (1934) or Bill Clinton (1994). President Obama did neither and his party lost control of the House, the last bastion of potential job growth legislation in Washington.

8 months after the GOP House takeover and not a single job growth bill from the GOP-led House, and Goldberg blames President Obama. She actually handed her vote to the party that isn’t concerned about the horrible economy.

Goldberg is right in that Obama has not led on this issue in 2011, spending the spring and summer chasing the debt ceiling chatter. And his bill, when he finally came up with it, was milquetoast. Still, the party to whom she handed her Congressional vote won’t even pass a milquetoast bill.

As disconnected as Goldberg and other voters have been in the last 3 years, they do stand as a reminder that voters often don’t vote for what they want. These days, voters are more confused than ever; consider that the last 3 Congressional elections produced 3 different combinations of House, Senate, and White House, the most uncertainty in a stretch in Washington since anyone can remember.

The Rolling Stones sang that “you can’t always get what you want.” But many American voters don’t even know what they want. Or they do know what they want, they just don’t know how to get it.

U.S.-Canada relationship another casualty of September 11 attacks

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The victims of the September 11 attack are in the focus this weekend during the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the attacks. As they should be.

However, the anniversary does remind us that decisions made by the U.S. government, most of them in haste or with evil in mind, has damaged other elements of society.

The relationship between the United States and Canada has suffered greatly. This isn’t to undermine the impact of the last 10 years on other societies. After all, many civilians have died in many places around the world since then.

But in covering Canada for my sister blog, I would be remiss if I didn’t spotlight this column written for that site.

The deterioration of the U.S.-Canada relationship ties back to September 11, 2001

9/11 anniversary should remind Americans to be the country we think we are and not what we became

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If we had a new job for every column someone is writing about the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the true recession would be long over.

What has been amazing in the last 10 years hasn’t been our reaction to what happened on that fateful day, but the huge disconnect between what we think we are and what we really are.

  • We thought we would help our neighbors in crisis. Ask the First Responders suffering from cancer, if they’re still alive, if that’s true. If they are dead, ask their loved ones.
  • We thought we would respond quickly to show them who Americans are. Even after 10 years, the replica of the twin towers is still being built.
  • We thought we would make sure they wouldn’t threaten our freedoms. Now we let our government spy on us, 4th Amendment be damned.
  • We thought we would make sure our leaders did what was needed to protect us. We turned a blind eye even before the attacks and let our governments get away with horrible acts, including torture.
  • We thought we would spend wisely to make us more secure. Instead we wasted millions on broken or useless equipment yet neglected obvious targets such as nuclear power plants.
  • We thought we would get answers to the questions we asked. The 9/11 Commission turned out to be a joke, and they didn’t even take a lot of our questions.
  • We thought we would be able to tell good from bad in Muslims. Our leading export became ignorant hatred toward Muslims and Islam.
  • We thought we would not be afraid, even in the threat of terrorism. Now many of us are afraid to fly, not because of a terrorist attack, but the interrogation type methods of airport security.
  • We thought we would be united in the face of the attacks. We grew apart very quickly and haven’t been this far apart since the Civil War days.
  • We thought we would go after those who attacked us. We took almost a decade to kill Osama bin Laden.

If hubris was a world category that mattered, America would be the #1 “bestest” nation. Unfortunately, our hubris has made us blind to the reality that even on September 11, 2001, we weren’t the best. And whatever positive character traits we thought we had, they shined through for a few weeks, but since then, we have been as weak as much as we think we are strong.

The only consolation at this point is that the terrorists didn’t damage the economy and put us into a tailspin. They did start the toppling of the dominoes; we did the rest ourselves.

Now that we have reached the 10-year mark, we are long overdue for a national conversation on what country the United States should be, post September 11. Bumper stickers told us to not forget what happened that day, but we have forgotten what we were supposed to remember.

The United States has been a very fortunate country in that we have few spots damaged by war. And those wars were primarily the Civil War and the American Revolution. We aren’t used to taking a direct hit; even Pearl Harbor was in a then-territory of Hawaii. Contrast this to England, Germany, and France, among many others.

We were entitled to freak out a little bit, and make some unfortunate mistakes. But we made way too many mistakes, still haven’t learned from them, and need to clean up this mess.

This country did take a dramatic hit on September 11, 2001, but then again, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan earlier this year had more casualties and more property damage than the 9/11 attacks. Perspective is another great loss we have had in the last 10 years.

The damage done to this country since September 11 can’t literally compare, but the huge deficit and debt that the teabaggers cry about has a lot to do with decisions made as a result of 9/11. The irony that teabaggers support the same people that brought them this deficit and debt is too mind-boggling to believe.

Those of us who were alive on September 11 will never forget the attacks. In order to bounce back, we need to remember who we were on September 10 and September 13, and start being the kind of citizens that we think we are in our heads, and not what we turned out to be.

Written by democracysoup

September 11, 2011 at 7:46 am

Obama, GOP still waiting for ‘Hail Mary’ pass on jobs

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Fans of “Animal House” know that the above number is Blutarsky’s GPA for the semester. But the number also reflects job growth in August.

So many months after the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives, and a subsequent drop in the credit rating, now we are going to try and be worried about the lack of job growth.

So how important is this topic? Well, John Belushi, who played Blutarksy in “Animal House,” was also known as one of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players. And if he were alive, he might appreciate that Obama’s grand job speech isn’t even happening in prime time.

That’s right. Jobs are such a low priority that a major speech on the topic is happening outside of prime time, when people on the West Coast are still at work (at least those that have jobs) and the Mountain time zone folks are just getting off work. Even some of the Central time zone people are just getting into the front door at 7 pm Eastern.

Football is the reason why — if the speech had to be on Thursday — the speech isn’t in prime time. The White House fumbled a move to put the speech on Wednesday, opposite a GOP presidential debate. The only football games that should have interfered with this speech were the BCS Championship Game or the Super Bowl last winter. This speech should have been given when people thought the Chicago Cubs had a chance in 2011.

Obama is supposed to pushing for more infrastructure spending, a no-brainer except for Congressional Republicans. And the president wants to extend payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits. As you may recall, Obama showed off his negotiation skills with the Republicans, giving them 2 years of the Bush tax cuts in exchange for 1 year of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits.

The number at the top also reflects the percentage of time the GOP has devoted to the topic since taking power in January. We aren’t surprised by this, despite the pleas for Republicans running in the 2010 elections. But the president should have been on the jobs issue long before now.

You would hope that 8 months of lack of effort combined with 14 months before the next election cycle would produce big, bold challenges on both sides of the aisle in an attempt to be patronizing to the people who will decide their fate.

In the typical election cycle, politicians aren’t always on your side in the months after they win. This would considered outrageous behavior but know that the voters can easily be forgetful. Ask yourself honestly if you will remember 12 months from now that our credit rating was slashed thanks to the debt ceiling crisis. Even if you will remember, your neighbor likely won’t.

Despite the current look at improving the job scene, don’t look for an all-out blitz in the remaining months. This group (outside Democratic Congressmen who have no power to propose legislation) doesn’t have job creation as part of its playbook. Any referees, or fans with a whistle, will be ignored.

The GOP strategy never has been or will be about job creation. If the GOP gains the White House, keeps the House, and wins the Senate, job creation still won’t be on the table. When job losses reigned from 2001-2007, the GOP didn’t suffer at the ballot box for their economic incompetence. When George W. Bush had his tax cuts and control of both houses with no job growth in 4 years, enough people voted for him in 2004. And when the GOP was voted out of control of Congress in 2006, few cited their lack of effectiveness on the economy.

If this country wants good job growth, people are going to get off their couches, put down the bowls of chips, and come onto the field. They need to see up close, better than any HD signal, the nuances of why the game isn’t going their way. And then they need to throw their own penalty flag for “holding” back job growth and “clipping” the chances of economic success.