Liberal Democrat

Liberal Democrat
Individual Freedom For Everyone

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

AlterNet: Opinion: David Bromwich: What Became of the Leader That Many Wanted Barack Obama to be

AlterNet: Opinion: David Bromwich: What Became of the Leader Many Wanted Obama to be

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger  

Whatever happened to that socialist whom so many Americans on the far left supported and organized for and hoped they were getting when they went to work for then U.S. Senator Barack Obama back in 2007-08.  I'll give you a clue:  That person never existed; oh wait, did I just give it away.  Here's where guilt by association and not by practice simply does not work, because I have friends and know people who are socialists as well as libertarians. Does that make me either because I'm friendly with these people?  You could say the same thing about Barack Obama because he definitely had socialist connections before he became President of the United States. Bill Ayers is a perfect example.

The far left in America should have known before they went to work for Barack Obama that what they were getting back in 2007-08 was the furthest left candidate who could actually get elected President of the United States, which is a moderate Progressive or moderate Liberal a bit left of Bill Clinton. But he was certainly no one's radical, which he makes clear in his books. He loves America and believes that it is still the only country where someone from his background and upbringing can make it.  With respect to his 2008 DNC nomination speech, he gave it as a center-left Democrat, not a radical left or right, which was also true in the general election against Senator John McCain.

Barack Obama is a pragmatist at heart who leans left and has a leftist vision but then goes about accomplishing his goals with what he sees as the most realistic approach, even if that means compromising with Democrats who aren't as left as he is or compromising with common sense Republicans. But this is not someone who ran for president with the goal of eliminating the Federal republic and transform America into a social democracy, but someone who ran for president to solve the current issues of the day in the most practical way possible, even if that meant compromising.

I believe Jimmy Carter was the president most similar to President Obama when it comes to governing style. They both probably had a grand vision of what they wanted to do as president, but at the same time had a pretty good idea of what was possible or, to quote the former great progressive senator Hubert Humphrey, the art of the possible.  This means understanding the challenges and also the best available options to meet them, such as knowing what Congress is able to pass right now and then returning to address the rest later.  This approach is hardly inspiring but can be effective in the hands of those who know how to govern. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Salon: Opinion: Omer Aziz: I'm Proud to Say I'm a Liberal: Why the Center Left Should Reclaim Liberalism

Salon: Opinion: Omer Aziz: I'm Proud to Say I'm a Liberal: How Conservatives Vulgarized the Word Liberal and Why Liberals Should Take it Back

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger  

I agree with Omar Aziz that Conservatives have been bashing the words liberalism and liberal for fifty-years. trying to make them  something that they are not.  Liberalism is a great political philosophy to be proud of.  There are people who are to the left of true liberals who claim the name.  They are  responsible, along with rabid conservatives, for portraying liberalism as all about the state and big government bureaucracy.  This bias is a result of their ignorance of liberal philosophy.

Last week I laid out some of the differences between liberals, progressives and Socialists.  Non-liberal leftist magazines were jumping in joy last week when Senator Bernie Sanders, the only self-described Socialist in the U.S. Congress, announced that he was considering running for President of the United States. They were saying that as a liberal would give Hillary Clinton a Democratic challenge from the left.  Senator Sanders describes himself as a socialist.  He doesn't call himself a Liberal.

The center-left in America needs to stand up and reclaim liberalism and the word liberal for themselves. After all, we  created the liberal democracy that is the federal republic of the United States of America.  We wrote the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not socialists, not conservatives, not pseudo liberals like Salon and others who are really social democrats interested in turning America into a social democracy and taking down the Federal Republic to give the national government more power over our own lives.

Liberalism is about the individual and not the government.  That  separates it from socialism because it wants to put the power in the hands of the people so that  they can govern themselves.  It does not seek to give the power to the state to make decisions for us.  It believes that government's main role is to protect the freedom of all people, not just the privileged few. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sam Seder: Video: Caller: Did Affirmative Action Hurt the Liberal Project?

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Affirmative action didn't hurt the cause of actual Liberals because Liberals believe in equal opportunity for all regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and so forth.  The key word is "opportunity," that people are not judged by these classifications but by their personal and professional qualifications. Affirmative action, however, has hurt the cause of collectivists on the Left, who believe in equality at all cost as well as equal outcomes, rather than equal opportunity, even if that means denying people opportunity simply because other members of their community have succeeded.

The Nation: Opinion- Adolph Reed- What Nihilism? A Response to Michelle Goldberg: What is Left of the Far Left

Source: The Nation-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

In last night's blog about the far-left flank of the Democratic Party I wrote a line something to the effect of "if you don't like the menu at the restaurant, complain to the management to get different choices on the menu or find another place to eat."  I use that analogy because social democrats or socialists in the Democratic Party should think about this when it comes to their politics, that if you think current Democrats aren't progressive enough, meaning socialist, then work at recruiting and encouraging the people you do want to run for office or find another party that is more to your ideological liking.

The Democratic Party is run, as I've said many times, by FDR/LBJ Progressives and JFK/Clinton Liberals and they tend to agree on the same things, but Progressives tend to want a more centralized government and a bigger government than Liberals.  Liberals tend to want social insurance programs  designed to help people get themselves out of poverty and become self-sufficient, whereas Progressives tend to be more interested in subsidizing people while they are in poverty. Both sides tend to agree on things like privacy, personal freedom to a large extent, but Progressives tend to be more paternalistic or prohibitionist in areas they see as dangerous, such as gambling, alcohol, from the past at least, soft drinks, junk food, just to use these as examples.

But Liberals and Progressives tend to agree when it comes to infrastructure, immigration, workers rights, Right to Organize, civil rights, and foreign policy.  Both sides tend to be internationalist, from Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, with every other Democratic president from that era as well. But then you have these outsiders in the Democratic Party who didn't emerge until the late 1960s or so who are real socialists or social democrats and not just anti-corporate but anti-business in many cases and even anti-for profit as well and have been looking for an alternative to capitalism. Even that doesn't go quite as far as a Marxist state ownership of the economy, but to more power for workers.

They are also anti-military and isolationist as well and even anti-law enforcement, unlike the Liberals and Progressives who run the party, and claim the party is not far enough to the Left for them as it was in the past. This is simply not true unless one cites the late 1960s up until 1985 or so, when the New Democrats took control of the party. However, the Democratic Party has never been that social democratic party where someone like a Dennis Kucinich or a Ralph Nader or a Bernie Sanders would be nominated president or vice president or have much hope of serving in a Democratic administration's cabinet for the most part. The Democratic Party is simply not that far-left party.

So, to go back to my analogy about the restaurant menu, it is time for social democrats to understand that and either stop complaining about their party not being far enough to the Left for their taste and recruit more of their people into the DP to run for office or create a united social democratic party with the far-left fringe of the Democratic Party and combine them with the Greens and Democratic Socialists and Socialist Workers and have their own party that would be able to compete against Democrats and Republicans.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Nation: Opinion- Michelle Goldberg- Adolph Reed and Electoral Nihilism

Source: The Nation-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

A couple of things irritate me about the far left in the Democratic Party (social democrats or even socialists, as I call them) when it comes to their political analysis. One is that they believe Democrats and Republicans are the same and that therefore American elections do not matter.  As the great socialist philosopher Noam Chomsky said, we don't have a two-party system but a one-party system, a business party that contains both Democratic and Republican factions. The other irritating thing is that the Democratic Party is not far enough to the left for them, or as I would put it, the DP is not a social democratic party. Well, we are the Democratic Party, which has a social democratic faction, which is very different from, let's say, Britain, where the socialists are the major faction in the Labour Party.

But I give social democratic writer Michelle Goldberg credit when she says the job of what she calls the left and I call the far left, is to support the best person on the left who can actually get elected, what she would probably call a moderate Democrat, to prevent a right-wing Republican from winning a House or Senate or State office seat, or the presidency, especially if Republicans control at least one of the legislative chambers, whatever the level is.

And then Michelle Goldberg goes on to say, and I paraphrase, that before the elections you should work hard to get the furthest left Democrats with the most in common with you ideologically elected, or at least winning the Democratic primary, so you don't have to settle for the establishment moderate in the fall. That is where I agree with the Michelle Goldberg clones on the far left, in other words, if you don't like what is on the menu, then work to change the menu or find another place to eat, or another political party.

My point is that if social democrats are unhappy with the Democratic Party, they have a couple of options. One is to change the Democratic Party, but not wait until the last few weeks or months of election campaigning to do that.  They should get to work during the off-year of the election to encourage more people who ideologically represent them to either be active in the Party or run for office and help those people get the resources to become competitive. Or they should leave the Party to form that social democratic party they want, or the Green Party, or the Democratic Socialist Party, instead.
The Laura Flanders Show: Daily Newsmakers- Michelle Goldberg

Hal Greer: 1965-66 Baltimore Bullets- The Tall Men of Baltimore

Source: Hal Greer- The Baltimore Bullets-
Source: The New Democrat

The reason the Bullets left Baltimore in 1973, I believe, for Washington is the same reason Baltimore doesn't have an NBA franchise now of their own:  their arena. They didn't have a modern major league sports arena even by early 1970s standards and certainly do not have one right now. And if they ever want their own NBA franchise again they are going to have to build that modern downtown 18,000-seat arena with sky-boxes so an NBA franchise can be successful there.
Hal Greer: The 1965-66 Baltimore Bullets- The Tall Men of Baltimore

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Think Progress: Cap War Action Room: A Progressive Vision: President Obama's FY 2015 Federal Budget

Think Progress: Cap Action War Room: A Progressive Vision

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger  

I haven't had a chance to see President's Obama's full budget proposal. I've just seen summaries from the partisan right, who see it as another progressive wish-list tax-and-spend proposal.  Progressives on the Left, like economist Robert Greenstein, a real Progressive, by the way, like the budget, especially as it relates to the Earned Income Tax Credit and new infrastructure investment. So I'm just going to give you the highlights of what I've seen so far.

I'm all in favor of expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and actually I would go further with it and include things like health care, so low-income workers don't have Medicaid as their only health insurance option. They need to put money away for college, retirement, and personal savings to give their children hope for a better future.  They need savings for school, K-12, for things like tutoring, child care, transportation, etc. so they can send their children to better schools and supplement their education.

So I'm glad President Obama is proposing that and also doing it for childless low-income working adults, but I guess my concern would be childless adults ending up receiving more in public assistance than low-income parents, because I don't want to see a situation where people who are on public assistance are financially incentivized to have more children.  I don't want to see a situation where people on public assistance with children have a harder time raising them because of public assistance. The EITC should be neutral when it comes to having or not having kids.

As far as the new infrastructure investment of $300 billion over 4 years goes,  that to me is a hell of a down-payment but it covers only about 30 percent of what we actually need for infrastructure investment, according to the U.S. Corps of Engineers. So I would take the $300 billion over 4 years this year and then come back in the next Congress to get the over $700 billion or so that is paid for with both proposals, putting millions of Americans in the infrastructure and manufacturing industries back to work.

President Obama seems to be making his 2015 fiscal year budget about what he and the Democratic Party want to do, which is really what he should be doing and should have been doing all along.  The 2014 mid-term election year is a good place to start doing that, and we'll see what it brings him and Democrats later this year. 

NFL Films: Video: NFL 1980-Baltimore Colts Dredging For Gold

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

The Colts actually looked like contenders in the AFC through nine games in 1980 but then went back to where they had been in 1978 and 1979, which was a competitive but not a winning team with a real shot at making the AFC Playoffs. The last 6 years were awful for the Colts in Baltimore, including a winless team in 1982 and the franchise losing fans because of their consistent losing, which was the Colts management's fault when the Colts left Baltimore for Indianapolis.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Young Turks: Video: Facial Hair Transplants: The Latest Hipster Rage

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

People who claim to not care about what others think of them and how they look are sure as hell spending a lot of money to look a certain way. And of course they have the right to do that and I don't believe anyone is saying they don't, because it is their money and they can do whatever the hell they want to themselves as long as they are held responsible for their own decisions. But it's definitely a big contradiction, the smoking gun if you will, that hipsters are just as superficial about how they look as what I call valley people, who follow valley culture and live its lifestyle.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Baltimore Orioles 1954: Video: Tribute to Memorial Stadium

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

The Orioles in their first 10 seasons or so weren't very good at all, but by 1964 or 1965, they not only started winning but also became solid American League contenders and in 1966 not only won the American League but also their first World Series, a 4-0 sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. And after that, up until 1986, you are talking about the winningest franchise in baseball, which included a total of three World Series championships, six American League championships, and seven AL East titles. Those are the Orioles at Baltimore Memorial Stadium that I love and respect and have been hoping will get back to that consistent winning ever since they started sliding in the late 1980s.

CBS Sports Baltimore: Opinion: Scott Garceau: Preview of the 2014 Baltimore Orioles

CBS Sports Baltimore: Opinion: Scott Garceau: Arms Race

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger  

For the last month or so up until last week, I wasn't feeling very good about the Orioles' 2014 prospects and believed they weren't as good as they were last year, an 85-77 fourth place AL East finish missing the AL Playoffs by five games. There is a  reason for this, because going into the 2014 off-season, it was very clear what the Orioles needed to be better than they were in 2013, which was another frontline starting pitcher if not two of them to go along with Chris Tillman (the ace of the staff), a full-time productive designated hitter, and another outfielder.

Up until recently the Orioles were signing mostly minor league free agents, guys who are career minor leaguers, who are at best potential major league players, or guys who were once major leaguers but are now at the downpoint of their careers, looking for another shot at getting their careers back on track but certainly not players you are expecting to make a major impact for the Orioles in 2014. This meant it was clear who was running the show in Baltimore, Mr. Tightwad Peter Angelos, the majority owner of the franchise, someone who only wants to spend enough money to make the Orioles look credible (his record in the past at least) but not commit the resources to make the Orioles a real contender.

What we now know after trading for outfielder David Lough who, at least going into the 2014 season, will be the Orioles' regular leadoff hitter, someone with a solid bat who runs well, has decent power, and is a good outfielder, is what the Orioles were looking for. They were always going after at least one more frontline starting pitcher and a regular everyday DH, but because of Mr. Angelos they were waiting for the market to calm down, when everyone else has made their offers, leaving possible free agents to wait to bring their prices down. That is when they would swoop in and get the players they were after, which is how they signed pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and DH/OF Nelson Cruz.

A month ago the the 2014 Orioles looked like they had a better chance of finishing last in the AL East than winning it or even grabbing one of the AL wildcards. But with the signings of Jimenez to go along with what else they have in the starting rotation with Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez, still one of the best bullpens in baseball even without a proven closer, then the lineup goes 1-9 in power, run production, and hitting and the best defense in baseball.

They don't need a great pitching staff or even great starting pitching to make the AL Playoffs in 2014. What they need their starting pitchers to do is stay healthy and be solid and give their offense and defense a chance to win the game. They should keep walks and extra base hits down and eat up innings but not have to play shutout baseball when your offense is giving you 5-6 runs a game with a great defense as well. If their starting pitching gives them that consistently, turning the gavel over to the bullpen in the sixth or seventh inning with a lead or a chance to win and stays healthy, look for the Orioles to at least be back in the AL Playoffs in 2014.  (See quote below.)

CBS Sports Baltimore: Scott Garceau: Arms Race 
"The Orioles will be contenders for the American League East title and the league’s two Wild Cards, there I said it!
Buck’s Birds can match any lineup in baseball 1 through 9 when it comes to thunder in the lumber and they’re coming off the best fielding percentage season in baseball history. That’s all good but in the end this team will seal it’s fate with starting pitching.
Adding Ubaldo Jimenez was a nice move, adding Suk Min Yoon, who knows? When it comes to starting pitching, at least on paper, the Orioles rank below the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays in the division. If that margin is narrow the bats and gloves and Buck Showalter’s leadership can make up for it. If the pitching gap is significant the Orioles will be watching the playoffs like the rest of us. Lets take a glance at how the rotation might look.
Chris Tillman- Coming off break out (16-7) year. Still only 25 he’s a very good #2 starter who could become the ace the Orioles haven’t had since Mike Mussina headed for Broadway.
Ubaldo Jimenez- He adds experience and durability. The former 19 game winner has averaged over 200 innings his last 6 seasons. Despite his inconsistency his career ERA is a solid 3.92.
Wei-Yin Chen- Likely the only lefty in the rotation. Durability issues, but the Orioles hope he can return to 2012 form when he won 12 games.
Miguel Gonzalez- Not spectacular but gritty and he knows how to pitch. He won 11 games last year and his 3.58 ERA the past 2 seasons is very respectable in the AL East.
Bud Norris- He won 10 games last season but the former Astros pitcher allowed too many base runners with a chunky 1.49 WHIP. His stuff is better than his numbers, he’ll need to be more consistent to keep his spot in the rotation.
It’s nearly impossible that a rotation stays intact for a 162 game season. Injuries and poor performance usually turn a rotation into at least an 8 or 9 man job. The Orioles are slowly adding arms and building pitching depth in the organization.
Other possibilities include, Kevin Gausman talented but raw, he’ll probably start the year in the minor leagues but could be on the mound at Camden Yards later this summer. Does Suk-Min Yoon win a starters job, go to the pen or polish his game in Triple A? Lefties Zach Britton (out of options), and T.J. McFarland could get a shot. Steve Johnson and Josh Stinson have experience and have made starts with the Orioles.
Prize prospect Dylan Bundy could be in the rotation in 2015 and may contribute in the second half this year. In the minor league pipe-line (“buy the bats, grow the arms”) prospects Eduardo Rodriguez, Hunter Harvey, Mike Wright and Tim Berry have major league dreams. Can the Orioles make it three straight winning seasons for the first time in 20 years? Can they make the playoffs for the 2nd time in 3 years? The bats and gloves are willing if the arms cooperate." 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Socialist Worker: Opinion- Phil Gasper: Socialism, Stalinism and Eastern Europe: The Differences Between Socialism and Statism

Source: Socialist Worker-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

Socialism is the perfect example of how labels can get you in trouble if you are not a political junky, or at least a political fan, someone who follows politics on a regular basis but who perhaps is not a political junky, such as perhaps a government employee. When people think of Communist Republics, they tend to think of Socialism, when really these Communist Republics are not so much Socialist, looking out for the people, but are interested in protecting the state, meaning the regime, more than anything.

I'm not even sure Socialist is the best way to describe someone who is a Democrat ideologically, meaning someone who believes in Democracy, however you want to define it. It also can mean someone who also believes in state-owned economics, meaning a state-run economic system. Today's Democratic Socialists tend to be in favor of capitalism or at least have accepted capitalism as a necessary evil to fund the big government that they want.

Since Barack Obama became President of the United States 5 years ago, when all of the  socialist charges were thrown at him, I've been thinking about Socialism and what it is and what it means to be a Socialist.  The more I hear from actual Socialists, the more I believe that Socialism is not really about nationalizing industries to create a state-owned economy,  It is about creating an economic system that works best for everyone, not just the wealthy or corporations or people with political connections with the central government, but everyone.

My idea of a modern Socialist, for instance, Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator from Vermont, the only self-described Socialist in the U.S. Congress, is someone who believes in capitalism, but only if it works for everyone. For that to happen, you need a central government big enough to see that people get the day-to-day services that they need to live well, such as education, health care, pensions, and health insurance and a safety net, a government strong enough to regulate the private economy well, Everything else should be in private hands, but in the hands of the many and not the few.

Sweden is the perfect example of a Socialist-Capitalist economic system where the economy is largely private but where the welfare state is big enough to give people the services they need.  Everything else that economies need to run well, where you must have competition to make it as productive as possible, should be left in private hands, such as automobile production, communications, media, restaurants, agriculture, etc., but paying their share of taxes to finance the welfare state.

A modern or Democratic Socialist does believe in big government economics but also that government shouldn't try to run the economy itself.  You need the people to be able to take care of themselves as much as possible, with the central government doing the rest to see that the economy is as strong as possible and works for everyone. So when we talk about Marxism and state-owned economics, maybe we should call that economic statism or simply just state-owned economics but not Socialism.