A union member, a Tea Party member, and the CEO of a corporation are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches out and takes 11 cookies, then looks at the tea partier and says, "look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie."
This is a very good evaluation of the Obama presidency.
Instead of continuing his populist campaign that involved and engaged millions of Americans, Obama fired all of his organizers, then retreated to the Oval office, and began cutting backroom deals with all the powerful interests. Not only is this very undemocratic and anti-progressive, it is stupid politically. The special interests don't want to cut a deal with progressives, they want to replace progressives with their own guys so they continue extracting money from the middle-class and poor and dominating the world. Obama turned his back on progressives. Instead of a transformative, populist progressive presidency, he is muddling through and the nation is paying for it with continuing stupid wars, a faltering economy, and an evermore polluted environment. Instead of bringing people together, he has allowed an even more polarized situation to develop.
President Obama was naive to think the Right would not attack him and naive to think that the corporate-friendly policies of DLC Democrats would solve any of our real problems. Our country was ready for real change – overturning the Right-wing military-corporate oligarchy that dominates our country. We were desperate for real leadership. Obama's misguided leadership squandered a chance to make transformative change.
Government could have given employees more bargaining power to get higher wages, especially in industries sheltered from global competition and requiring personal service: big-box retail stores, restaurants and hotel chains, and child- and eldercare, for instance. Safety nets could have been enlarged to compensate for increasing anxieties about job loss: unemployment insurance covering part-time work, wage insurance if pay drops, transition assistance to move to new jobs in new locations, insurance for communities that lose a major employer so they can lure other employers. With the gains from economic growth the nation could have provided Medicare for all, better schools, early childhood education, more affordable public universities, more extensive public transportation. And if more money was needed, taxes could have been raised on the rich.
Big, profitable companies could have been barred from laying off a large number of workers all at once, and could have been required to pay severance--say, a year of wages--to anyone they let go. Corporations whose research was subsidized by taxpayers could have been required to create jobs in the United States. The minimum wage could have been linked to inflation. And America's trading partners could have been pushed to establish minimum wages pegged to half their countries' median wages--thereby ensuring that all citizens shared in gains from trade and creating a new global middle class that would buy more of our exports.
I've been volunteering for Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner who is running to replace retiring Republican Senator Voinovich. I hope you add her to your list. She is a true fighting progressive who cleaned up the mess left by Republican Ken Blackwell. Her primary opponent, Lee Fisher, is liberal, but goes along much too easily with the Democratic establishment. His insider image will not be as effective in defeating the Republican candidate: former Congressman and former trade representative Rob Portman.
The NRA appears to be essentially a consortium of arms manufacturers and sellers that has managed to convince a lot of gun owners to support them. With this power, they have successfully bludgeoned Congress for decades. We have a lot of work to do to expose the NRA for what it is and to get reasonable restrictions on guns enacted.
This seems like a pretty good design (and very similar to the design I sketched out in an engineering class back in 1977). Having solar essentially be a pre-heater for a natural gas-fired plant makes a lot of sense.
Another really good idea which has not been explored very much is co-generation or combined heat and power. A typical installation is at a factory: natural gas is used to fire a gas-turbine which drives an electricity generator, then the waste heat from that is used to fire a conventional steam turbine which also drives an electricity generator, and then the waste heat from that is used for industrial process heat (drying or baking) or used to drive an ammonia absorption chiller. By combining all these processes, the overall efficiency of the plant can be above 80% as compared to about 50-60% for a regular gas-fired electricity power plant. Adding a solar pre-heater could further decrease the amount of natural gas required.
This is the kind of innovation that we need to reduce fossil fuel use and shift our society to using mostly clean, renewable energy.
If he had just kept all of the paid organizers that had made his campaign work, it would have been a lot easier to keep his supporters mobilized. Instead, President Obama immediately fired all the organizers.
And instead of focusing on the needs and desires of the American people, Obama has tried to negotiate and engage in backroom deals with Congress and special interests (Big Pharma, Health Insurers, nuclear power industry, military contractors, etc.). President Obama should have been siding with the American people in challenging these interests, not kissing up to them. He should have continually worked to energize and mobilize his supporters instead of trying to be "bipartisan" and "looking to the future". If Obama had run as bad a campaign as he has run his presidency, he would never have gotten the nomination.
A sizable portion of the electorate thinks that the problem with the healthcare bill in Congress is that it doesn't go far enough. Over 60% want a strong public option. You certainly wouldn't know this from listening to Glenn Beck, House Minority Leader John Boehner, or the corporate media. But you would also never know this from listening to President Obama. And that is the problem -- President Obama has accepted and regurgitated all the right-wing talking points about how scary progressive positions are. On that playing field, with the progressive perspective completely hidden, his agenda looks extremist. But he didn't have to set it up that way. He could have focused on all the advantages of progressive positions and then compromised from there.
Americans are ready for real solutions, but not for watered-down pro-corporate crap.
The very first thing that Obama did after winning the election was to fire all the paid organizers that had helped him win. He acted like the best way to govern was to negotiate with all the special interests and elite powers in Washington. But the last year shows just how stupid this strategy is. Obama's strength came from grassroots organizing. He should have relied on the grassroots for power to challenge the elite, not negotiated with the elite to disempower the grassroots. Instead, he has cozied up to the special interests and elite powerbrokers and ignored his progressive base. And the fact that Axelrod doesn't understand this is very scary.
The CLEAR sounds better to me. Here is a description of the bill: http://supportclearact.com/news/carbon-cutting-bill-hits-senate-collins-new-ideas-make-it-winner-deborah-mcdermott-seacost-onli
Below is the CLEAR Act sign-on statement with the latest listing of groups that have signed on.
You can find out more information about the CLEAR Act at http://www.supportclearact.org
Statement on the Importance of the CLEAR Act
We are pleased that the CLEAR Act--the Carbon Limits and Energy for America's Renewal Act--has been introduced into the U.S. Senate and is gaining interest and support. This legislation, introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wa) and Susan Collins (R-Me), will help solve the climate crisis while growing our economy and helping working families prosper. It is simple, fair and built to last.
The legislation aims to cut greenhouse gas pollution 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83% by 2050. It allows for the President and a simple majority in Congress to make those targets stronger. It auctions 100% of the carbon permits, allows for no potentially complex "carbon offsets," and prevents Wall Street involvement in the carbon market. It will spur economic investment and innovation and create millions of jobs in clean energy.
It protects the purchasing power of American families by returning 75% of the revenue raised by the auction to all legal residents on a monthly, per capita basis. A family of four will receive approximately $1,000 a year, and that amount is expected to increase over time. This climate dividend will help protect all families from rising energy prices and provide a majority of Americans with a net increase in annual income.
The remaining 25% of auction revenue will be used for U.S. and international greenhouse gas reduction, clean energy, energy efficiency, transition assistance and similar purposes.
No other carbon cap proposal before the Senate does as much to help American families, our economy, and our planet.
Association of World Citizens
Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Md/D.C./Va.
Citizens for Pennsylvania‚s Future (PennFuture)
Clean Air Watch
Climate Protection Campaign, California
Consortium for Worker Education, N.Y., N.Y.
Dakota Resource Council
Earth Charter Lifeboat Academy of Pennsylvania
Fresh Energy, Minnesota
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)