Progressive Reading Roundup 11/30/09

This is the first of these segments I’m running so I ought to say at the outset that this is by no means authoritative.  It is a small slice of the progressive internet media offerings of the day, the segments that I found particularly interesting.  I’ll be tagging the authors of pieces and hopefully developing a good library of particular writers and communities.  I’m categorizing by source, because with the issues I’m covering there is going to be overlap, and I think it’s useful to highlight the online communities I learn from and participate in when the spirit moves me.  This will inevitably be biased towards the stories I’m following on a day by day basis, so expect a lot of finance, jobs legislation, and copenhagen/global warming in the next few weeks.  There’ll also be a healthy dose of ‘can we fire Obama’s economic crew already’ invective (from other people, not me, I swear).  We’ll see what else develops as this segment runs.  Without further ado, here’s the best from the last of November:


I say unabashedly that OpenLeft is my number one source for progressive news.  Firedoglake may have more contributors, and may do more in terms of actual progressive action (fundraising, petitions, and the like), but OpenLeft has the most incisive analysis as far as I’m concerned.  David Sirota, who I listed above, writes regularly for them and the other writers don’t disappoint.

Today we have parallel views from Mike Lux and Chris Bowers.  Mike Lux argues in Death Wish Politics that the Democratic party is acting very unresponsive to the ultimate concerns of most voters, and certainly the base, and is inviting electoral disaster in 2010.  By the way, Mike Lux is what I’d call the most ‘optimistic’ of the writers at OpenLeft (if by optimistic you mean still having faith in the basic integrity of the Democratic party as a whole, and Barack Obama and other leadership in particular.)  Chris Bowers responds in Democrats Are In Electoral Trouble; Progressives Are Not that while the Democratic party may be in trouble, this is only a problem if you’re counting on conservative Democrats like Blue Dogs to help us pass a truly progressive, transformative agenda.  But if you are of the belief (as am I) that the Democratic party means little until it becomes united around a progressive agenda, this shouldn’t be a cause for huge worry.  With 1/4 of all Democrats voting for the Stupak amendment, what do I care if some of them lose their seats?

Below the flip, selections from the Huffington Post and assorted other voices:

Huffington Post

David Sirota (read also The Uprising, Hostile Takeover, and his material at OpenLeft), in Colbert Conservatism and the Cost of Permanent War, writes about bloated military spending, and the politicization of the issue.  He’s recently been doing a lot to show how the mainstream media and conservatives (both Republicans and “Democrats” like the Blue Dogs and New Democrats) only care about the deficit when it’s exacerbated by social spending that heals (welfare) rather than defense spending that kills (warfare).

In a related AP story, Lawmakers From Both Parties Raise Concerns Over Afghan War Escalation, I learned that some politicians are in fact, honestly dealing with the cost of war (in monetary terms, few seem to think “our soldiers shouldn’t die for an unwinnable pointless war” is a good reason to leave).  Granted not all of them are talking about that as a good reason to END the war (God bless Bernie Sanders), but it’s a start.

In An Open Letter To President Obama On Afghanistan, Michael Moore is.

In Time To Bring Home The Troops, so is Jennifer Brunner, the non-Obie-alum primarying to be the Democratic candidate for Ohio’s Senate seat vacated by Voinovich.  Gotta find out where Lee Fisher (the Obie who’s running) stands.

Fellow Obie Robert Kuttner, in Recovery and Debt: Squaring the Circle, writes that Obama and the above-mentioned conservatives should stop freaking about the debt (a long term issue) at the expense of dealing with unemployment and corporate tax evasion (shorter-term issues that we need to deal with if we’re to hope to ever tackle the deficit responsibly).  He suggests further, better stimulus and closing tax loopholes.  I agree.

Les Leopold agrees in Stimulus Versus Deficit Reduction?  Wrong Debate.  He suggests that the most recent stimulus was terribly inefficient as a job creator.  The next one should feature direct government hiring in the form of a teachers’ corps, weatherization corps, or other program modeled on the WPA.  He also calls out the super-rich and Wall Street demographic as not paying their fair share of taxes, and suggests that more equitable taxation should be the first step in reality-based deficit reduction (the main argument against direct government hiring as a job creator).

Robert Reich follows the same principle in The Housing Crisis And Wall Street Shame (Or Lack Thereof).  Wall Street is largely responsible for mass foreclosure.  We gave them money to keep that from happening.  They’re not using the money right, so what if we (the taxpayer and our advocates, you know, the government) did it instead?

Howard Schweber ties many of the above ideas together in Jobs, Mortgages, Food Stamps- Where Is The President? The White House has tried a number of initiatives (TARP, stimulus, mortgage modification) that indirectly solved the problems at hand.  According to Schweber, the solutions attempted have proved unsuccessful because they are indirect, and place resource allocation under the control of parties with other interests.  The solution?  Cut the middleman and produce results yourselves (you government).

Paul Krugman, in The Jobs Imperative, adds his voice to those who advocate for an updated WPA.  He agrees with Schweber and the others that the government should take a more direct hand in job creation.  He’s attending Obama’s jobs summit (at which I pray he’s actually listened to, rather than ignored as in the past), so hopefully his ideas will bear some fruit.

Bob Giloth, in Job Creation Agenda Must Include Low-Skill Workers, agrees with all the points I’ve raised above but speaks to a point dear to my heart that often gets lost- a call for workforce equity.  He points out that there are many communities that have been in recession for a long time (rural communities, people of color, women), and they need to be brought into real prosperity if we’re to deliver a true recovery. Word.


Adam Serwer at TAPPED demonstrates how reliance on conventional wisdom in the mainstream media leads to crappy, biased journalism in The Slim Line Between Cheney And Obama (Mom, check what he says about Jon Meacham.  This is why I don’t feel compelled to read Newsweek).

Matt Taibbi (who has some of the most consistently good financial coverage) addresses the deficit vs. jobs ‘debate’ within the Democratic party in The Faux Deficit Debate.

Glenn Greenwald (who has some of the most consistently good civil liberties and war coverage) addresses the hypocrisy of ‘deficit hawks’ and ‘fiscal conservatives’ by profiling Evan Bayh in The Face Of Rotted Washington.

Digby further develops a discussion of that hypocrisy, as well as the implications of ‘deficit reduction’ for social services spending (the New Deal package of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and others) in Grand Bargain Redux.

Okay, that turned out to be WAY more than I intended.  In future I will keep this to about seven articles.  This was a particularly prolific day for the progressive blogosphere, but I hope this gives a good sense for the ideas that are out there (and where to find them) if you know how to get away from more orthodox discourse.  As always, I invite criticism and suggestions.  I swear I’ll keep it shorter next time.

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Filed under Adam Serwer, Bob Giloth, David Sirota, Digby, Glenn Greenwald, Howard Schweber, Ideological Transparency, Jennifer Brunner, Les Leopold, Matt Taibbi, Michael Moore, OpenLeft, Paul Krugman, Radical Critique, Robert Kuttner, Robert Reich, The Media

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