At this point, I think Obama has kissed Democrats goodbye…

As of this morning it seems that Obama is ready to deal with the Right... extend the Bush tax cuts for a couple of years in exchange for one year's extension of Unemployment funding. The tax cut deal is tentative. It hasn't gone through Congress yet (although McConnell is probably dribbling with laughter in his office), but it probably will.

When even Conservatives like Joe Scarborough sees and comments on the fact that Obama is moving directly to the Right... and will not increase job creation much, but will add at least a trillion new bucks to the deficit. And who is going to lend it to us? The Chinese? Are we going to listen to Obama's financial team that extending tax cuts are going to get us out of recession?

There's more...

Why is Nancy Pelosi So Unpopular?

The news that Democrats have just selected Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to continue as House Minority Leader has led a number of commentators to note her continuing unpopularity. Blogger Nate Silver, for instance, recently came up with a column titled “Is Pelosi America’s Most Unpopular Politician?

There is no denying that Ms. Pelosi is very, very unpopular. This is old news, and relatively boring stuff.

What is more interesting is exploring how Ms. Pelosi became one of the least-like politicians in America.

When Democrats came roaring to take control of Congress in 2006, Ms. Pelosi was a favorite Republican target. Conservative commentators liked to warn Americans about how extreme to the left Ms. Pelosi was. And the House leader was quite an inviting target: a congresswoman from a hotbed of American liberalism, who did not look good on television, and who occupied an inherently unpopular position (quick: name one House speaker who’s ever had positive approval ratings).

These attacks continued throughout her term in power; indeed, they continue to this very day. Republicans were quickly able to succeed in making Ms. Pelosi as disliked a figure as possible amongst conservatives. It was not hard, especially given Ms. Pelosi’s inherent liberalism.

But what really killed Ms. Pelosi’s approval ratings was the fact that Democrats declined to defend her. Ms. Pelosi got punched and punched and punched, and Democrats never bothered to punch back. Take, for instance, an everyday occurrence in cable news: a Republican commentator blasts Ms. Pelosi for being an extreme liberal out-of-touch with mainstream America. If this happens, one almost never sees the Democratic counterpart arguing that Ms. Pelosi isn’t out-of-touch. This is quite different from what happens, for instance, when a Republican commentator attacks President Barack Obama.

Even Ms. Pelosi herself didn’t bother to defend her reputation. Instead, she spent her time passing laws Republicans hated and making the life of the Republican minority miserable. Ms. Pelosi was quite good at doing this; indeed, her skills at whipping the Democratic caucus rival those of the legendary Lyndon Johnson.

In not bothering to defend Ms. Pelosi, Democrats calculated that her unpopular approval ratings did not really matter; they would not affect the mid-term or presidential elections. Most probably don’t like Ms. Pelosi anyways.

The correctness of this calculation is almost impossible to prove. The Democratic Party’s good results in 2008 would indicate that Ms. Pelosi’s unpopular ratings had little effect. Their bad results in 2010 would indicate the opposite.

Whatever the truth, one can be fairly certain that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will continue doing her best to make Republican lives as miserable as possible.




What Does China Think About North Korea’s Aggression?

In discussing how America should respond to the North Korean artillery attack on South Korea, almost all the discussion invariably turns to what China will do. The only ally of North Korea, China is the only nation in the world which can effectively pressure North Korea.

There has been quite a bit of debate about what China is thinking right now. Many hope that China will value its commercial ties to the West above its ties to North Korea. Others point out, less optimistically, that China wishes to preserve North Korea – if North Korea fell, millions of impoverished refugees would flood into the country. Moreover, a reunified Korea would be aligned with the West, constituting a threat next to China’s border.

All this is very much speculation and guesswork. What does China really think about the North Korean attack?

Actually, it is very easy to find out what China thinks. In fact, the Chinese government has an official press agency: Xinhua. Most people probably don’t know this, but Xinhua can be read for free online in English.

So what does China think about the North Korean attack?

Well, what better way to find out than to go read the Chinese government’s official newspaper!

Xinhua has several articles covering the incident. Unfortunately, most of the stuff is fairly boring – a simple recitation of facts. Unlike newspapers such as the Times, there is little editorializing and little insertion of opinion. In general, more room is given to what North Korea is saying without the obvious disbelief present in Western newspapers. The frame is: South Korea says this, North Korea says that, we don’t know who’s right other than there was artillery fired by both sides.

Perhaps the most revealing section was this quote:

Though Seoul blamed Pyongyang for military provocations, there is still no way to confirm who started the shelling attack.

A statement issued by the DPRK army accused South Korea of setting off the exchange of fire, saying dozens of shells from the south fell in the waters of DPRK around Yonphyong Islet at 1:00 o’clock p.m. local time Tuesday afternoon. Ensuing shellings were countering measures of the DPRK, it said.

Acknowledging it did fire shots in the area, South Korea denied any of the test shots fell in the DPRK territory.

The incident came as South Korea was engaged in a massive annual military exercises involving some 70,000 troops, launched Monday and scheduled to last through Nov. 30. Pyongyang has repeatedly warned against such military drills, usually joined by U.S. soldiers, describing them as provocations and real threats to its security.

So here one gets a pretty clear sense of what China might say: either we don’t know who really started it, or North Korea’s attack was provoked by South Korea.

This is not very comforting for the West. For multiple times North Korea has launched military aggressions that could be construed as acts of war. Reading Xinhua seems to indicate that China still is not ready to out-and-out criticize North Korea for these attacks. The North Korean artillery attacks have not been the first time North Korea has killed South Koreans without much response. As long as China’s stance remains unchanged, it will probably not be the last.

(A note: Reporting in China can often be quite different between English-language and Chinese-language news. English reports in China generally have more freedom and leeway, and therefore may be more critical. For comparison’s sake, several articles in Chinese – translated by google – can be found here and here. The translation is pretty bad, but there didn’t seem to be too much difference between what the Chinese version and English version articles were saying.)

Give me the DREAM Act in the lame duck session, says Obama

From the Restore Fairness blog-


After a year of unfulfilled hopes and promises of immigration reform, it might finally be time for dreams to come true.

Delivering on the promise he made during his hard-fought re-election campaign, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid announced on Wednesday that he will bring the DREAM Act up for vote (as a stand-alone measure) during the final days of the 111th Congress. While this is not the first time that Sen. Reid has made such an commitment, this time the announcement comes with the added backing of President Obama. Obama has always been a supporter of the DREAM Act, but has never publicly or actively worked on pushing for it to be passed. This is why it came as a surprise when he told Democrats on Tuesday that he wanted the DREAM Act passed during the lame duck session of Congress, as a “down payment” on more comprehensive immigration reform.

This announcement came on the heels of a meeting between President Obama and leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, including Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez and Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, that took place on the morning of Tuesday, November 16th. Gutierrez, who had been in favor of a more comprehensive immigration reform bill up until this point, said that the meeting was both positive and productive-

Passage of the DREAM Act is achievable right now. With the White House, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and every Democratic Leader in the House and Senate pulling in the same direction, we can pass the DREAM Act before the end of the 111th Congress.

The White House released a statement with the outcomes of the meeting-

The President and the CHC leaders believe that, before adjourning, Congress should approve the DREAM Act. This legislation has traditionally enjoyed support from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and would give young people who were brought as minors to the United States by their parents the opportunity to earn their citizenship by pursuing a college degree or through military service.

In a noticeable departure from the Obama administration’s previous non-committal stance on immigration reform, the President put forth a commitment to work “hand in glove” to make sure the bill is passed, including a promise to pick up the phone and urge Senators to vote on the bill. At the end of the day on Tuesday, Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez announced that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had tentatively set November 29th as the date that the DREAM Act would be voted on.

If passed, the DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship for approximately 2 million undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. when they were very young, provided that they go through college or participate in military service. However, in order to prevent another filibuster, at least two Republican Senators would have to support the DREAM Act, something that might prove to be a uphill task given the number of Republicans who have turned their back on it over the past year.

This is the closest that the bill has come to being introduced. It is important that Congress hears from all of us who support the DREAM Act as intrinsic to the future of the country. Send a fax telling your Members of Congress to support the DREAM Act!

Stay tuned for more details!

Photo courtesy of Associated Press Photos

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It’s Not Pelosi

A member of the Democratic Party, Pelosi has represented the 8th Congressional District of California, which consists of four-fifths of the City and County of San Francisco, since 1987. She served as the House Minority Whip from 2002 to 2003, and was House Minority Leader from 2003 to 2007, holding the post during the 108th and 109th Congresses. Pelosi is the first woman, the first Californian and first Italian-American to lead a major party in Congress. - Wikipedia

With all of the haggling and debating going on among Democrats following their November embarrassment at the polls, it appears that Nancy Pelosi will be made the scapegoat for the historic losses. I am not one to wax sentimental over past victories and I recognize that now would be an opportune time to shake up the leadership in the party and maybe bring in some fresh blood. However, this is not what is being discussed in Democratic circles. What is being discussed is a push to the right from the same clowns who ran from the party during the mid-terms and lost. These are the folks who allowed their local races to become nationalized because they were too frightened to stand up to the wing-nuts. I understand that there is a difference between House and Senate races, but if anyone was suppose to be replaced this cycle it was Harry Reid. So how was he able to survive? He made the election a choice.

Now there will be volumes of political how-to’s from Senator Reid’s campaign and that is not the focus of this piece, but he didn’t run from himself. The problem with Democrats and governing is simply this: the Democrats do not have a set of core principles that they will defend at all costs. With the wing-nuts you can be sure of three core principles that to a person they will vote for en masse. They will always vote for tax-cuts, they will always vote for reducing regulation, and they will always vote for cutting entitlements. Given those three certainties you can craft a lot of policy and legislation to get their unanimous consent. What three core principles can you name for Democrats? Give me three core principles that all Democrats would vote and fight for. You can’t do it. Because you have Democrats who support tax-cuts, you have Democrats who support cutting regulation, and you most certainly have Democrats who would cut entitlements.

You see the wing-nuts understand how to govern. You either bring in those who are beholden to you or you co-op any renegades that happen to crash the gate-as they will do with the tea-baggers. When the American electorate voted for Democrats and gave them control of all branches they falsely assumed that they would govern like the Republicans. So when the wheels started falling off with their majority and they couldn’t get anything done not because of their majority but in spite of their majority the American voters became disenchanted. The voters want results. They don’t want to hear that Blue Dogs won’t support this or that. They see political parties as monolithic and if I give one group control then they will do what is necessary to get things done. With Democrats, that’s not how we do things. Prior to negotiating with Republicans we have to negotiate with ourselves. We give half the store away before we ever see the Republicans.

You are not going to keep a majority if you don’t have core principles that the people know you are going to fight for. And they can’t be core principles that some will fight for; it has to be everyone or no one.

Unfortunately we now live in the political sphere where half measures won’t do. The people are looking for champions, they are looking for super heroes who will defend them against corruption and sometimes from themselves. You can’t do that if you don’t stand for something. The Democrats need to use this opportunity to retool and decide on five core principles that they all can agree to and will vote for and present that to the American people. And when I say all; I mean all from San Francisco liberal to Midwestern Rust Belters, to the Bluest Dog-in for a penny in for a pound. And if you are not willing to support these principles then you cannot run under our flag. A perfect example was health-care. Is it a right or not?

A number of liberal Democrats, including three from California, have voiced their support for Pelosi. Rep. George Miller told the San Francisco Chronicle that Pelosi has been "attacked and vilified by the right wing because of her effectiveness. - Black Political Buzz

Speaker Pelosi was not the problem. If anything she was vilified because she was able to accomplish what many thought was impossible. Those who are crying the loudest for her head are the ones who could not and would not be able to past the core test. They were the ones who were running anti-Pelosi and anti-Obama ads to save their hides. At least they could have had some self-respect and dignity and ran on what they had done. Who is going to vote for someone who runs away from what they voted for? I think it would be a terrible mistake to replace Nancy Pelosi. You dance with the one who brought you. The wing-nuts hate her for a reason. She gets things done! Remember she was the one who stood tall when Rove and the wing-nuts were talking permanent majorities.

I will concede one point though and that is that the Democrats will have to come up with better messengers. The President cannot be the only voice in this wilderness. There has to emerge some cabinet member or some congressional figure who can take the fight to the wing-nuts. The wing-nuts have shown that there are no vacuums today. They will fill any empty space with nonsense if they have to but they will fill it with something.

And finally, the goal of the Congress and this President has to be jobs if they stand any chance of rebounding. The Republicans are going to provide ample opportunities for Dems to regain their majorities in two years because rather than focusing on solving problems they are going to focus on nonsense. I guarantee you we will have gotten no closer going forward to working on the major issues with Republicans than we have in the last two years. They will misread the electorate just like they always do. They see this as a referendum on their conservative agenda when the reality is it is a message to fix the jobs problem. It is not a message to throw gay people out of the military. It is not a message to give tax-cuts to the richest. It is not a message to shutdown the government.

There are many more wrong answers than right ones, and they are easier to find - Michael Friedlander

The Disputed Truth


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