Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

There can be no transformative leader in a paralyzed government

Posted in Barack Obama, media, politics, United States by allisonkilkenny on June 13, 2010

Photo from humanitieslab.stanford.eduI feel sorry for Matt Bai. It was just three years ago that he sighed over the wasteland of the Clinton era and pondered aloud, what was it all for?

Even without the allusions to the old days, his speech seemed strangely reminiscent of that first campaign, and not necessarily in a good way. Listening to him talk, I found it hard not to wonder why so many of the challenges facing the next president were almost identical to those he vowed to address in 1992. Why, after Clinton’s two terms in office, were we still thinking about tomorrow? In some areas, most notably health care, Clinton tried gamely to leave behind lasting change, and he failed. In many more areas, though, the progress that was made under Clinton — almost 23 million new jobs, reductions in poverty, lower crime and higher wages — had been reversed or wiped away entirely in a remarkably short time. Clinton’s presidency seems now to have been oddly ephemeral, his record etched in chalk and left out in the rain.

Yeah, what’s up with that? Why does America seem to be forever spinning its wheels, and why has politics been reduced to a series of empty promises and arguments about abortion and gay marriage?

Apparently, Matt has been asking this question for three years because he has yet to find an answer.

(more…)

Shameless Democratic-Socialist Propaganda

Posted in atheism, Democrats, media, politics by allisonkilkenny on April 8, 2009

YM001405Typical. The Times is at it again. The liberal rag published another thinly-veiled, socialist rant in Tuesday’s edition. Though, this time, the diatribe came from an unlikely source: David Brooks, the Canadian-American columnist, who has served as senior editor to the Weekly Standard, contributes his thoughtful analyses to the Atlantic Monthly, and identifies himself as a “moderate conservative.”

Of course, David is completely unaware that he makes a perfect plea of his readers to join the Democratic-Socialist cause. His column explores the roots of morality, and rattles off scientific theories about where our morality comes from, and how it benefits us as a society to have “morals.” It’s actually pretty interesting, though the best part comes when David steps back and analyzes “morality” i.e. communal spirit:

Like bees, humans have long lived or died based on their ability to divide labor, help each other and stand together in the face of common threats. Many of our moral emotions and intuitions reflect that history. We don’t just care about our individual rights, or even the rights of other individuals. We also care about loyalty, respect, traditions, religions. We are all the descendents of successful cooperators. 

But David, what of that “rugged individualism” that Conservatives so cherish and praise? Are you saying that gallivanting around a dude ranch, refusing to pay taxes and/or care for our fellow humans, is not only the behavior of a selfish, childish asshole, but also detrimental to society itself?

The first nice thing about this evolutionary approach to morality is that it emphasizes the social nature of moral intuition. People are not discrete units coolly formulating moral arguments. They link themselves together into communities and networks of mutual influence.

Like unions, perhaps? But those are the things your Conservative brethren are fighting tooth and nail to suffocate! They’ll be the reason the Employee Free Choice Act fails in Congress. You should really share with them your revelations about all of this “help thy neighbor” stuff, and how it’s so great for our society.

And don’t let Rush hear you talk like that. On the other hand, you may be safe. He’s too busy packing (thank you, Jesus) his things, and moving out of New York. 

The second nice thing is that it entails a warmer view of human nature. Evolution is always about competition, but for humans, as Darwin speculated, competition among groups has turned us into pretty cooperative, empathetic and altruistic creatures — at least within our families, groups and sometimes nations.

Tell your Wall Street buddies that, David. Drop some knowledge onto their finally coifed ‘dos, and let them know competition isn’t everything, that human beings are more than stocks, portfolios, credit default swaps, and speculative mortgages. Ask those financial firm CEOs if jumping out of the burning building with $23 million in severance is an altruistic act, or the act of a pirate.

I’m sorry. That’s not fair. Pirates were actually very democratic creatures that allowed voting and egalitarian debate. They also didn’t profit from suckering poor people into bad loans. Of course, they raped a lot, which is definitely a tick in the “Bad” column.

But I digress. As if he knew I would be reading him today, David throws this curveball at the last possible moment:

[The rise and now dominance of this emotional approach to morality] challenges the new atheists, who see themselves involved in a war of reason against faith and who have an unwarranted faith in the power of pure reason and in the purity of their own reasoning.

…What? Did David Brooks just cite a scientific theory at length, and then in the last paragraph of his column, thumb his nose at atheists who believe in — wait for it — science and reason?

On behalf of the human species, I apologize to the trees that gave their lives for David Brooks’ pointless musings to be published in otherwise highly usable column space.

What an embarrassment.

What the Watchmen Can Teach Democrats

Posted in Democrats, politics by allisonkilkenny on March 12, 2009

Allison and Jamie discuss how the new film, Watchmen, can teach Democrats to grow spines.

watchmen-6-1

Listen here:

Join us on Facebook.

Visit us on Breakthru Radio. Listen to our archives here.

Karl Rove Is Tweetin’ Mad

Posted in Democrats, politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on March 11, 2009

oxyrushKarlRove: In the face of our enormous economic challenges, top WH aides decided to pee on Limbaugh’s leg. http://tinyurl.com/d8w6ad #TCOT #SGP

Um, Karl? The reason Dems are attacking Rush is because he’s the only so-called Coservative even offering the slightest hint of an ideology or plan for the future for his party.

The rest of the Repubs are throwing hissyfits over earmarks, and shrieking at the thought of biapartisanship. At least Rush is trying to lead the disenchanted masses. Granted, the direction is off a cliff, but still…

“I won” — Barack Obama

Posted in Barack Obama, Democrats, Economy, politics, Republicans by allisonkilkenny on January 23, 2009

Good for him.

Talking Points Memo posted a story about Chuck Todd (the poor man’s Tim Russert) wringing his hands over the lack of bipartisan results in the stimulus bill currently sitting in committee.

We’re sitting here watching Robert Gibbs’ White House briefing. And there is a long string of questions about whether Obama can really working in a bipartisan manner if no Republicans are saying nice things about the stimulus bill or voting for the mark-ups out of committee. And Chuck Todd just asked whether Obama would veto a stimulus bill that came to his desk that hadn’t gotten Republican support.

That would be quite a moment.

And Obama’s response to more spineless, moderate Democrat whining?  

Politico

President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning – but he also left no doubt about who’s in charge of these negotiations. “I won,” Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.  

Well, knock me over with a fucking feather. Was that tough talk from a Democrat? More, please.

Kennedy Out. Gillibrand In.

Posted in Democrats, politics by allisonkilkenny on January 22, 2009
398px-kirsten_gillibrand_official_photo_portrait_2006

"I'm not a Democrat. I'm a Blue Dog."

Politico and other media sources are reporting that governor David Paterson has chosen Kristen Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacant Senate seat.

Gillibrand is a Blue Dog Democrat, which is the name moderate Democrats gave themselves so people stopped confusing them with Republicans. Gillibrand is a pro-gun, fiscally conservative “Democrat.” Blue Dog Democrats are the people who cower at the word “liberal,” and fail to acknowledge that the only gains we — as a country — have made regarding civil rights were because of those dreaded, damn liberals

I have previously criticized the nomination of Caroline Kennedy because she was clearly a legacy selection. Let’s pretend her name was Caroline Smith, or Caroline Martinez, and she boasted of zero legislative experience, and could only incoherently mutter something about her daddy when asked why she wanted to fill one of two coveted Senate seats. No one would have considered such an applicant. Hence, why I hated the idea of Caroline Kennedy in the Senate. I’ve heard just enough about Camelot, thanks very much.

But Gillibrand is part of the same politically incestual community. During the Clinton years, she serves as Special Counsel to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Andrew Cuomo, another nominee for Clinton’s seat. She too hosts lavish fundraising parties (out of state, an accusation she ironically used against one of her former political opponents, John Sweeney). Kennedy, no doubt, was seriously considered for the Senate role specifically for her fundraising abilities (the name Kennedy brings in a hefty chunk of change,) so it’s to be expected that cash cows are always at the forefront of these kinds of nominations.

I was really hoping Paterson would go for a fresh political name like Nydia Velasquez, who has served in the House for 15 years, and was the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in Congress. She has dealt primarily with small businesses, and is largely unknown in the political community, but I think that’s a good thing. Kennedy is very well known, has less experience than Velasquez, and I was supposed to take her seriously as a candidate, so why not Nydia? Oh, right, she’s not a legacy, or a Blue Dog.

At least Caroline was unapologetically liberal, a privilege only afforded to Kennedys, it seems. If you have a yacht, you get to look your fellow Democrats square in the eyes and say, “I believe in equal rights and not torturing foreigners. Fuck you.” But if you’re a middle-rank Democrat, you have to pathetically triangulate and apologize until you don’t even look like a Democrat anymore, and -BAM!- you wake up and your name is Kristen Gillibrand and you’re in the Senate.

Gross.

Help Georgia and Minnesota Democrats

Posted in politics by allisonkilkenny on November 17, 2008

 

georgiaIn Georgia, a run-off is scheduled for December 2nd between State Representative Jim Martin and Senator Saxby Chambliss.  We need to raise money for the run-off campaign.  Voting started today so we need to get busy.  Victory Fund limit is $12,300.  To contribute to this race, go to http://www.actblue.com/page/senatepostseason and click on Martin. 
Contributions to this race DO count against your federal limit.
 
minnesotaIn Minnesota, about 206 votes separate Norm Coleman and Al Franken out of 2.88 million cast.  We need money to pay for canvassers, lawyers and training recount volunteers.  They trained 1,000 people this weekend but still need more.  To contribute to the recount, go to http://www.actblue.com/page/senatepostseason and click on Franken.  The limit for the recount is $12,300 per person. 

Contributions to the Re-count do NOT count against your federal limit.  If you have maxed out federally you can still contribute to the recount. 
 

Ralph Nader: Stop Voting for the Least Worst

Posted in Barack Obama by allisonkilkenny on October 28, 2008

Transcript taken from Ralph Nader’s interview with Drunken Politics

More info is here: Votenader.org

On Corporate debates

Every major poll since 2000 has registered that a majority of the American people want Ralph Nader on the debates.

[In order for a third party candidate to get into the debates] five major polling companies have to poll 15% or higher that people want Nader/Gonzalez on the ticket. But the Commission on Presidential Debates won’t release the names of the polling organizations. And they won’t name the media conglomerates that owns the polling organizations. So if the media isn’t covering third party candidates, they obviously don’t poll well.

So we called Gallup, and asked if they are one of the five. They are. But Gallup said they don’t poll Nader/Gonzalez. This is classic deception. The whole thing is a commercial corporate rigged system designed to keep us off the debates. The game is corporate fascism.

 Only a multi-billionaire like Michael Bloomberg could buy his way onto the debates by purchasing air time. It’s like what FDR said to Congress in 1938 “When government is controlled by private economic power, that’s fascism.”

So we know what the diagnosis is. The question is: what is the prescription?

In 2012, starting in early January, major national and local citizen groups in a massive coalition should get on a letterhead, lay out the entire schedule of 25 debates from Boston to San Diego, Miami to Seattle, for all the presidential candidates who have enough theoretical electoratal college states to win the election. That way, the dynamic shifts from the two parties, who control the agenda and have the photo opportunities, and sweep through certain states and ignore most of the states because they’re slam-dunk Republican or slam-drunk Democrat, and shift the entire power to shape the agenda into citizen groups, who then become participators, and not spectators.

 On the Progressive Platform

What’s going on here is the concentration of too much wealth and power in the hands of the few. And they make decisions for the many. So it’s not surprising that the Nader/Gonzalez campaign and the agenda, which is supported by the majority of the American people: Single payer health, living wage getting out of iraq, cutting the bloated military budget, solar power first, no to nucleur power, is opposed by the minority of power brokers. That’s why we’re exluded from the debates.

It’s not our agenda, it’s your agenda.

The people are in a two party prison. The system is rigged, electoral college, winner take all. There can be something like a Green party in Germany because if you win 5% of the vote you get 5% of the parliament. Here, you’ve got to win 51% or a plurality, which is why people don’t support small starts to make them build into larger movements because they think: well, they’re only 4 or 5% in the polls and I don’t want to waste my vote. It’s time to break out of the prison.

Unfortunately, the only person who could do that is a mega-billionaire with liberal tendencies, who will blow the two parties into a three-way race. That’s coming. Mayor Bloomberg could have done that this year.

On Afghanistan Being Portrayed as the “Good War”

Afghanistan will be Obama’s Vietnam. He’ll sink in that quagmire. Just putting more soldiers in there controlling a high-tech attack on a low-tech resistance will kill a lot of civilians. And it already has and it’ll be more: wedding parties blown up, villagers blown up, children blown up, and that enflames and vastly expands the resistance in those rugged mountains. Nobody conquers those people. The British Empire tried twice and failed, the SU poured everything it had and failed, and the US will fail.

The finance Administrator for Karzai and head of the Afghan national university said you don’t do it that way. You do it through negotiation with tribal chieftons, by public works, by creating jobs, by getting these tribes that have a stake in passifying the area, but Obama, who’s father was an African from Kenya, he should know better, says to pour the soldiers in so he can show he’s more macho than McCain.

It was a macho battle in the third debate. Obama matched him in supporting the militaristic repression and exploitation and colonization of Palestine and its people, in being beligerant toward Iran, and in being beligerant toward Russia. This man is going to be the biggest disappointment ever. He’s a brilliant tactician and he’s pulled something off that nobody could have predicted, but he is going to be the biggest disappointment for Liberals and Progressives that they have ever seen. This is the biggest political con job in the last century, the Barack Obama victory. There’s no mandate. He just floated in. He had an easy act to follow. The Wall Street collapse opened the gap with McCain, who isn’t the greatest campaigner, and who wanted to be a clone of Bush, a disastourous tactical mistake for a so-called Maverick.

You take the 20 leading groups supporting him in the liberal-progressive pantheon: labor, anti-poverty, civil rights, women’s rights, gay-lesbian rights, environment, consumer – you name it – not one of them is putting any demands on him.

Unconditional voting for the least worst of the two parties means that your vote has no political leverage whatsoever. It allows Obama to take it for granted, and not give the anti-war people anything because He knows he has the anti-war vote.  Just like Kerry turned his back on the anti-war movement. Then they go to the right wing and slice off a few votes there by going more corporate and flip-flop on offshore drilling. The same merry-go-around every 4 years.

The liberal intelligensia is doomed unless they solve this problem of unconditional voting for the least worst candidate.

On the Death Penalty/War on Drugs/ Cynthia McKinney

I’ve been against the death penalty since I was a student at Harvard Law school in the 1950s when I saw what kind of defense accused people of impoverished means got when they were prosecuted. They got the most incompetent lawyers, that meant a lot of innocent people got executed just for lack of effective defense. Some of these laywers are so bad they fall asleep in the middle of proceedings.

The death penalty doesn’t deter crime. And it’s much more expensive to proceed on a capital case toward execution than it is life imprisonment without parole. It’s always the poor and minorities who have the huge proportion of people that are executed. Finally, there’s a moral issue. Even Bill Clinton executed a retarded prisoner. Other western states don’t have the death penalty.

We’re for a national amnesty for all non-violent drug offenders. Let them out of jail and use the empty cells and fill them with convicted, corporate crooks. That will also improve prison conditions because powerful convicts just won’t stand for the food.

We don’t send nicotine addicts to jail, and cigarettes take 400,000 lives a year, 40 times what hard drugs do. And we don’t send alcoholics to jail. Why do we send drug addicts to jail? We’re not talking about kingpins. This isn’t a criminial issue. This is a health issue.

800,000 young people in this country are arrested every year in this country for possession mostly of small amounts of marijuana. This is madness, not to mention the billions of dollars this costs taxpayers.

On if Nader’s Raiders Would Be Possible Today

It would possible to form it, but the doors (in Washington) have slammed shut. That’s why I’m running for office. I’m trying to mobilize civic energy. Most of those citizen groups, and many of them I’ve started, just don’t like to admit that they are working harder and harder for virtually nothing. It’s corporate occupied territory. There isn’t one department agency, including departtment of labor that isn’t controlled by corporate influence inside and out. Look at the Treasury, Goldman Sachs veterans going to Washington to bail out their buddies, department of defense, deptartment of agriculture, interior, and so on. Either we organize new institutions, political institutions, or shut down and go watch the whales in Monterey.

The liberals and progressives just don’t want to face reality.  It’s over, and it’s over with the Democrats, too.

The Democrats just thumb their noses at the groups that say you can’t pass the $700 billion bailout like this with a little Barney Frank and Chris Dodd window dressing. You’ve got to have reregulation now. This is when Washington had Wall Street over a barrel. You give authority to shareholders to control their out-of-control bosses, you make the speculators pay for their own bailouts with a 1/10 of 1% of a derivatives’ transaction sales tax. People pay 6-8% sales tax on necessities in stores as we’re speaking and there’s no sales tax on billions of dollars traded every day. It’s $500 trillion traded this year, so 1/10 of 1% would produce $500 billion. We need a speculation tax. But they’re too cowardly to even do that.

So they gave a blank check and said: ‘oh, we’ll look at it next year.’ These people are cowards. Aside from Kucinich and one or two other people, they’re cowards.