Sunday, August 28, 2011

September 17th #OccupyWallStreet US Day Of Rage Demonstrations Provokes Right Wing Blogosphere Panic And Prayer Meetings

My daughter Alexa O’Brien is a thirty something, attractive, well-educated and ingenious woman who was born in Seattle and raised by her hardworking, down to earth, Slavic mother in New York.

In March of this year she reached a moment in her life where she had an epiphany about the political state she found this country to be in and decided to do something about it. The question would be where to start. The intellectual outrage she felt was aimed directly at a number of issues she saw as some of the main causes of the problem.

Her concerns included, but were not limited to: 

  • The Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which deem corporations to be people when it came to political contributions.
  • The corporate financed American Legislative Exchange Council attempts to disenfranchise millions of voters.
  • Widespread government corruption, injustice and clandestine intelligence operations.
  • The general political malaise and dysfunctional way the corrupted US political system works.
  • Political parties pretending to have the people’s interests at heart while in reality their actions only led to the further empowerment and enrichment of the wealthy, corporate oligarchy and too big to fail banks.
  • Politicians more often then not more interested in the vast sums of money they'll need from their corporate benefactors for reelection then the overall good of the people.  

She believed deeply that the toxic political atmosphere was adding to widespread citizen, suffering, demoralization and disengagement. So she decided it was time for some sort of direct citizen action. Additional frustration came after seeing the events taking place in Wisconsin in March. She began to organize a grassroots organization that she named US Day of Rage. The organization was modeled and named after the social media driven people’s ”days of rage” non-violent protests in Egypt and Europe. 

When asked to explain the motivation behind creating USDOR, Alexa offered this explanation in a recent interview with the progressive blog The Public Record.

“What I saw in Wisconsin was a dangerous level of cynicism towards government."

"Every institutional underpinning that upholds the principles of our democratic republic is buckling under the weight of entrenched interests and outdated ideas about the world we live in and the challenges our nation faces.”

"The idea behind this new movement is simple: “One citizen. One dollar. One vote.” In other words, it’s time to return the democratic process to the hands of those for which it was originally intended: the American people."

"Special influence corrupts our political parties, our elections, and the institutions of government. Bought by hard and soft dollars, disloyal, incompetent, and wasteful special interests have usurped our nation’s civil and military power, spawning a host of threats to liberty and our national security. The problem is not a left or right issue, it’s an American issue.” 
The idea was to motivate citizens to take local direct actions to organize demonstrations through the use of social media. These public demonstrations would take place in every State Capitol and major city where disgruntled fed up citizens of like mind were willing to organize. A website, facebook page, twitter account and the hashtag #USDOR, where citizens could #tag their twittered grievances and comments, were created and US Days of Rage was up and running.

“The planning committee started off with a broad state-by-state strategy. Building local and state associations or assemblies of people, not parties around our mission: One citizen. One dollar. One vote, and around four principles, non-violence, principles before party, volunteering and autonomous except in matters affecting the whole.” 
“I see an American moment coming to America. It’s not that Tahrir (Egypt) isn’t inspiring. People all over the world are facing tremendous challenges in the face of globalization, increased institutional complexity, and ancient problems of just and stable governance. But our nation’s problems are our responsibility to fix. Either we face up to that fact, or our nation will perish from the earth.”

During my recent visit to New York in early August Alexa and I talked extensively about the risks and challenges this national effort to organize demonstrations would take. Our discussions were mainly concerned with the complexities of letting a rather large genie out of the bottle. Alexa and her co-organizers at USDOR believed it boils down to a paramount belief that the demonstrations must be built around non-violence, democracy and a citizen's right to assemble. The non-violent nature of USDOR and their soon to be ally #OccuplyWallStreet continues to be emphasized in statements and postings about the planned protests.

USDOR was soon joined by other social media based groups and organizations, the afore mentioned #OccupyWallStreet, Take The Square, October 2011, WL Central, and European Revolution, and additional support is growing. The plan for the Wall Street occupation is modeled after Egypt's Tahrir Square demonstrations. The protesters will camp, then present a list of grievances reached during per-demonstration organizing meetings and any that arise once they've occupied Wall Street.

Many progressive blogs and internet based organizations and entities have come out in support of the idea. Adbusters the popular and influential magazine and social media website has joined in support with a major story in its current issue about the movement and its purposes. Anonymous, the hacker group that supports WikiLeaks released a video last week in support of the actions of USDOR and OccupyWallStreet. Because of publicity and social networking about the protest public knowledge of it has grown exponentially on the web and is now actually spreading worldwide. Demonstrations are now also planned in Madrid, Milan, London, Toronto, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Sydney, Paris and San Francisco. Citizens in several other US cities, including Seattle, are also working to organize bank and financial district protests on September 17th 

What is rather over the top and even hysterical is the reaction of the right wing blogosphere to the September 17th Wall Street protest. The nut-bars have certainly got the message, and in their minds its all the usual suspects. Most right wing and right leaning religious based bloggers are in a panic about what it all means.

Their posts and comments are filled with conjecture and conspiracy theories about the protest and in general accuse USDOR of being one or all of the following:  Marxist, Socialists, troublemakers, radicals, Communists, world wide democracy (why they’d fear that I don’t know, but I presume it has something to do with what the bible says), reconstitution of the weather underground, attempts to trigger martial law, excuse for London type riots, terrorism, globalist revolution, anarchists, an attempt to mock those who died on 9/11, Bill Ayers, funded by George Soros, ACORN, rich kids in $500 jeans, punks, atheists, and ordinary riffraff who may get some banker's suit dirty. One commenter even insinuated that Obama is behind the demonstrations because he wants to declare marshal law, which would give him an opening to then declare himself King of America.

Hail Caesar salad!

My daughter has received numerous threats and the FBI has contacted other members of USDOR. After I returned from New York I created a poster for USDOR and OccupyWallStreet which is now plastered all over the internet and especially on right wing blogs.  They say it stands as proof that USDOR is all the things that Americans should fear. It's main theme being a man turning a sword into a plowshare. You'd think that would be something that the zealots and right wing religious nut bars would see as a biblical teaching which simply points out that war should be avoided even Jesus himself supposedly talked about that. Different Jesus I guess.

Alexa is a clear-minded courageous activist and member of the middle class who is fed up with the bullshit. The right wing blogosphere needs to get it through their heads this is not some widespread conspiracy or throw back to some out of date sixties radical movement.  It’s a brand spanking new movement. Americans still have a constitutional right to assemble and petition their government, one constitution right I believe they haven't completely taken away yet. That is what the USDOR and the Occupy Wall Street September 17th demonstration is all about. It is not based on anyone’s wacky conspiracy theories, it's a simple idea that's taken root in social media and is as all American as apple pie, baseball and the Statue of Liberty. 

What the corrupt and dysfunctional oligarchy and Republican and Democratic parties and their right and left wing supporters who enable them really have to fear is one young social networking savvy woman typing at her computer. Maybe when the nut-bars finally realize that there are  thousands of average Americans just like her out here who've come to the same conclusions she has, i.e. that our political leaders are corrupt, out dated and out of touch, they will then decide it’s their duty as citizens to take non-violent action to improve the situation.

Of course, I also hope they crap themselves when they see my new USDOR poster.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What To Wear To The Rebellion?

I reject the subtle message in this lampooning video from Go Forth and Revolt that says that the use of violence is justified. But, I must admit that the spoof of the hypocritical  Levi's Go Forth Campaign demonstrates the fact that nothing is really sacred to corporations like Levi when it comes to selling you shit.
"Marketers implore us to go forth seek out the light... As long as we do it in *their* jeans. But the fact of the matter is that these are the self-same scoundrels that are clubbing our lives into dank submission. Our every creative outlet, our every joy, they will rip from our hands."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Anonymous has just released a video communique endorsing #OCCUPYWALLSTREET. Using language from our first Tactical Briefing, the video calls on protestors to adopt the nonviolent Tahrir-acampadas model. On the 17th of September, it says, "flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months … Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices."

Meanwhile S17 is surging ahead internationally. Simultaneous occupations of financial districts are now being planned in New York City, Madrid, Milan, London, Paris and San Francisco.

Via; Adbusters

The Ultimate Liberal Fact Sheet

Spotted this handy list of Liberal talking point on the Big Corporation and The New Deal blog.


Barack Obama Created More Jobs in 2010 Than Bush Did in His Entire Presidency

Bill Clinton Raised Taxes on the Rich and Created 23 Million Jobs

George W. Bush Cut the Tax Rate for the Rich and Created Only 3 Million Jobs

Jimmy Carter Created 7.5 Million More Jobs Than George W. Bush

Bill Clinton Created 7.1 Million More Jobs Than Ronald Reagan

Tax cuts for the Rich Do Not Create Jobs

Spending Cuts Do Not Create Jobs

Consumer Demand Creates Jobs

The Federal Government Does Create Jobs, Over 2 Million to Be Exact

Government Does Create Private Sector Jobs

More Private Sector Jobs Were Created Than Government Jobs So Far in 2011

The Financial Crisis Started in 2008 Under Bush, Not Obama

The Recession Started in 2007 Under Bush, Not Obama

Obama Did Not Make the Recession Worse, it Ended in 2009

Republicans Support the Outsourcing of American Jobs

Republicans Voted to Repeal the Minimum Wage

Many Republicans Support Repealing Child Labor Laws

Many Corporations Lay Off Thousands of Employees in Times of Record Profits

The House GOP has Created 0 Jobs and Voted to Kill Over 1.9 Million Jobs Since Winning Control of the House in 2010 on the Promise of Job Creation

The Average Income Growth Rate is Much Higher Under Democrats Than Republicans

Over the Past 60 Years, Democratic Presidents Have Created More Jobs Than Republican Presidents


President Eisenhower was the Last Republican President to Balance the Budget and/or Create a Surplus.

Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Deficit

Bill Clinton was the Last Democratic President to Balance the Budget and/or Create a Balanced Budget

Bill Clinton Created the Largest Budget Surplus in American History

The Republican Congress in the 90's was Not Responsible for the Budget Surplus in the Mid/Late 90's. Clinton's Deficit Reduction Bills that were Passed Before Republicans Took Congress and Clinton's Tax Reforms were Main Reasons. The Deficit was Decreasing Before Republicans Took Control of COngress.

Bush Inherited a $286 Billion Surplus and Left Office with a $1.2 Trillion Deficit

Tax Cuts Add to Our National Deficit

Since 2001, War has Added Over $1.2 Trillion to Our National Deficit


Under Obama, Taxes are Currently at the Lowest Levels in 60 Years

The Stimulus Bill Contained the Largest Tax Cut in American History

Ronald Reagan Raised Taxes 11 Times

Unemployment Soared After Ronald Reagan's 1981 Tax Cuts for the Rich

The bottom 50% DO Pay Taxes, They Pay Payroll Taxes, The Rich Do Not. The Rich Pay Income Taxes.

When You Look At Taxation Based On Income and Percentage, the Bottom 50% Pay More in Taxes of Their Income Than the Rich

The Bottom 50% Also Pay Sales and Property Taxes

The Rich Paid 90% in Taxes During WWII and Throughout the 50's. They Were Still Rich.

Ronald Reagan Cut Taxes for the Top 1% in Half over 8 Years

The US has the Largest Income Gap in the World

The Richest 400 Americans Have More wealth Than Half of All Americans Combined

Less Than 1% of Americans Make $1 Million or More a Year

Most Corporations Pay No Taxes at All

Closing Tax Loopholes is Not New Taxes or Taxation

Raising Taxes Creates Jobs and Increases Revenue

Over 1,400 Millionaires Paid No Taxes in 2009

Your Taxes are Used to Build and Maintain Our Entire Civilization


Republicans Spend More Than Democrats when in Office

The States That Cut the Most Spending, Lost the Most Jobs

The US military and Defense is Americas Biggest Expenditure

If the Government Did Not Spend, the Country Would Shut Down (Do I Need a Link for This, or Does Common Sense Pretty Much Cover it?)

Bush Signed TARP Into Law, Not Obama


Those Making $106,800 or More a Year Do Not Pay Social Security Taxes

Social Security Does Not Add One Cent to the Deficit

Social Security Currently Has a $2.6 Trillion Surplus

Social Security is Solvent Until 2037

Ronald Reagan Expanded Social Security by Raising Taxes

Social Security Benefits Represent About 41% of Income for the Elderly

In 1940, the Life Expectancy of a 65 Year Old was Almost 14 Years, Today It's Almost 20 Years

9 Out Of 10 Seniors Over 65% Receive Social Security Benefits

Social Security Covers Over 8 Million Disabled Americans


50 Million Americans Do Not Have Health Insurance or Coverage

Americans Pay More for Healthcare Than Any Other Country

Medical Bills are the #1 Cause of Bankruptcy in America

America is Ranked #37 in Health Care Worldwide by the World Health Organization

America is One of the Only Nations That Does Not have Guaranteed Health Care for It's Citizens

45,000 Americans Die Every Year from Lack of Quality Health Care

Single Payer Health Care Would Save Businesses Millions by Not Having to Provide Their Employees with Health Care

Insurance Companies Deny Paying Customers Care in Times of Record Profit

Insurance companies Spent More Than $2.5 Million a Month Fighting Heath Care Reform (This could have bought a lot of health care for their clients they denied care to because they claimed they couldn't afford it)

Americans Pay More for Prescription Drugs Than Any Other Country

Canada Made the Man Who Founded Their Universal Healthcare System a National Hero

The Majority of Citizens in Countries That Have a Universal Health Care System Like It

Health Care Reform Reduces the Deficit by $1.3 Trillion Over 20 Years

Health care reform cut waste from medicare, not service. This made medicare more solvent by 12 Years and reduced drug costs for half a million seniors

health Care Reform will Cover Over 34 Million Uninsured Americans

Members of Congress Have Taxpayer-Funded, Government-Subsidized Health Care.

Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA are Forms of Government Health Care

Government Health Care is More Efficient and More Cost Effective than Private Health Care

No Government Funding is Used for Abortion

Health Care Reform Does Not Cover Illegal Immigrants

Health Care Reform Does Not Create 'Death Panels'

Private Insurance Companies DO Have Death Panels


Public Education Cuts Weaken Education, Schools and Resources for Students and Teachers

Public School Teachers Make an Average of $35,000 a Year

States That Allow Public Teacher's Unions Have Better National Test Scores Than States That Do Not.

More than 500,000 Students Have Defaulted on Their Student Loans Since 2008

7,000 Students Every Year Begin Their Adult Lives Over $100,000 in Debt Due to Student Loans

Private Schools are Too Expensive for Most American Families

Bush's 'No Child Left Behind' Education Plan was a Complete Failure and Hurt Public Education


Al-Queada and the Taliban Have Killed More Muslims Than Non-Muslims

Muslims were Killed in the 9/11 Attacks

There are 1.6 Billion Muslims Worldwide

Al-queada and the Taliban are Religious Extremists, Not Traditional Muslims

Islam is a Religion of Peace

There are 1,209 Mosques in the United States.

The US Constitution Guarantees the Right to Freedom of Religion


In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act that for the first time, required background checks to buy a gun. Since then, fire-arm related crime has plummeted dramatically. Proving rational gun control measures are effective.

Murderers such as Jared Lee Loughner ,despite being mentally ill and the Columbine killers , Despite being underage, were able to obtain guns in the US.

Al-Queada Leader Told Members in the US via Video to Buy Guns at Gun SHow to Avoid Background Checks and Then "Shoot People"

Gun Shows Have Found Loopholes That Allow Them to Sell Guns Without Performing a Background Check

America has More Gun Related Deaths Than Any Other Industrialized Nation


Unions Built the Middle-Class

Unionized Workers Have Higher Wages and Benefits

Unions Do Not Drain Business. Unions are Good for the Economy.

Labor Unions Improve Employee Turnover Rates, workplace Productivity, and Workplace Safety.

Between 1945-1973 unions were at their peak and more American workers belonged to unions. This period was one of economic growth, fair wages, and prosperity.

Union Members Fought and Many Died Fighting for Worker's Rights Like Weekends, Lunch Breaks, 40 hr Work Week, Sick Days, Minimum Wage, Benefits, etc.


40% of America's rivers and 46% of America's lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life

Every year, U.S. factories spew 3 million tons of toxic chemicals into the air, land, and water

Animals are Currently Becoming Extinct at the Fastest Rate in History

The Earth's Climate is Increasing

1980-2000 were the Hottest Decades in 400 Years

11 of the Past 13 Years have Seen the Warmest Temperatures Since 1850

The Arctic Region May See it's First Ice-Free Summer by 2040

In 1910, Montana's Glacier National Park had 150 Glaciers. Today it has 30

Based on reports from over 2,500 scientists from more than 130 countries concluded that humans caused most if not all over the planet's rise in climate


The Average Welfare Payment is $500 a Month for a Family of Four

The Average Unemployment Payment is $300 a Week

More White People are on Welfare Than Black People

While collecting unemployment insurance, you must apply for jobs and prove you are seeking work to continue to receive benefits

Unemployment insurance, welfare, and food stamps help stabilize and resume demand in a down economy.

Those Who Receive Unemployment Insurance Pay Taxes on It

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

American Legislative Exchange Council Corporate Lackey WA State Lawmakers Exposed


On July 13, 2011, the Center for Media and Democracy unveiled this trove of over 800 model bills and resolutions secretly voted on by corporations and politicians through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). These bills reveal the corporate collaboration reshaping our democracy, state by state.

ALEC bills, which largely benefit the organization’s corporate members, have been introduced in legislatures in every state—but without disclosing to the public that corporations previously drafted or voted on them through ALEC. Before ALECexposed publication of this trove of bills, it has been difficult to trace the numerous controversial and extreme provisions popping up in legislatures across the country directly to ALEC and its corporate underwriters. The Center obtained copies of the bills after one of the thousands of people with access shared them, and a whistleblower provided a copy to the Center.

ALECexposed have analyzed and marked up the bills and resolutions to help readers understand what the bills do, beyond the PR in the names of bills. They share them to help the public identify the legislation in their state and the wide extent of the agenda to rewrite our rights by the corporations that bankroll ALEC.

These bills and resolutions reach into almost every area of American life: worker and consumer rights, education, the rights of Americans injured or killed by corporations, taxes, health care, immigration, and the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink. Only by seeing the depth and breadth and language of the bills can one fully understand the power and sweep of corporate influence behind the scenes on bills affecting the rights and future of every American in every single state.

You can helping to expose ALEC, its corporations and politicians, and how money has corrupted the democratic process. (Here's how.) To learn more about ALEC and this project, click here for an open letter from Lisa Graves, the executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, publisher of ALEC Exposed.

Is Washington State for sale to corporations? Is your State Representative or Senator on the list? I suggest you call your representative and ask them to acknowledge or deny that they're dues paying members of ALEC or have supported the introduction or passage of model bills or resolutions pushed by ALEC.

Here is the list of Washington Legislators with ALEC Ties in House of Representatives:

Rep. Jan Angel (R-26), ALEC State Chairman and Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Member
Rep. Matt Shea (R-4) ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Member
Rep. Gary C. Alexander (R-20), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Member
Rep. Troy Kelley (D-28), ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force Member
Rep. Charles R. Ross (R-14), ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force Member
Rep. Barbara Bailey (R-10), ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member
Rep. Joe Schmick (R-9), ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member
Rep. Kevin W. Van De Wege (D-24), ALEC Education Task Force Member
Rep. Kevin Parker (R-6), ALEC Education Task Force Member
Rep. Mike Armstrong (R-12), ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force and Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Member
Rep. Bill Hinkle (R-13)

Here are Washington State Senators with ties to ALEC:

Senate Sen. Don Benton (R-17), ALEC State Chairman and International Relations Task Force Member
Sen. Val Stevens (R-39), ALEC International Relations Task Force Member
Sen. Linda Evans Parlette (R-12), ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Member
Sen. Joseph Zarelli (R-18), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Member
Sen. Michael Carrell (R-28), ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force Member
Sen. Pamela Jean Roach (R-31), ALEC International Relations Task Force Member
Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-42), ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member
Sen. Janea Holmquist (R-13), ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member Sen. Brian Hatfield (D-19), ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member Sen. Randi Becker (R-2), ALEC Education Task Force Member
Sen. Mike D. Hewitt (R-16), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Alternate Sen. Jerome Delvin(R-8)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wars And Their Ripple Effects Have Cost US $3.7 trillion - Or More Than $12,000 Per American

What could you do with $12,000 dollars right now? Would the economic crisis be over if suddenly every American received a 12K check in the mail? McClatchy News reports on a Brown University study aimed at tabulating the actual cost in dollars and the ripple effect of these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on society. Their main conclusion "no one really knows" the extent of damage war has done and will continue to do, and let us not forget the 225,000 humans who have died or those who continue to be deeply effected by these wars.

"When congressional cost-cutters meet later this year to decide on trimming the federal budget, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could represent juicy targets. But how much do the wars actually cost the U.S. taxpayer?
Nobody really knows.
Yes, Congress has allotted $1.3 trillion for war spending through fiscal year 2011 just to the Defense Department. There are long Pentagon spreadsheets that outline how much of that was spent on personnel, transportation, fuel and other costs. In a recent speech, President Barack Obama assigned the wars a $1 trillion price tag.
But all those numbers are incomplete. Besides what Congress appropriated, the Pentagon spent an additional unknown amount from its $5.2 trillion base budget over that same period. According to a recent Brown University study, the wars and their ripple effects have cost the United States $3.7 trillion, or more than $12,000 per American."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The One Thing GOP Candidates Aren't Talking About

Click on image to enlarge

CNN's Fareed Zakaria Says Obama's Liberal Critics Need To Grow Up

Throwing the baby out with the bath water?

Zakaria pushes back on the popular narrative that many liberals spout these days about the weakness of Obama. In spite of all of Obama's perceived shortcomings by liberals and progressives one needn't look further then Iowa and the Michelle Bachmann's of the world to realize that this circular firing squad approach can only end up helping right wing politicians in the end.

His editorial points out that liberals are out of touch with the realities and difficulties of legislating progressive policies with a congress that is politically divided, dysfunctional, and dominated by tea party obstructionists. Liberals have short memories and give Obama little credit for the accomplishments he has made in the face of the terrible economic situation he inherited.

I agree with this commentary and think it is now passed the time that progressives circle the wagons and start aiming the disapproval and blame where it really needs to be placed. At the feet of the Tea Party, Republicans and the corporate oligarchy lackeys whose obstructionism, out of date thinking and personal greed blocks progress. We should focus our energy, protests and blame directly at the right wing radicals in Congress, and dedicate our efforts towards their removal and replacement.

Marx Was Right About Capitalism - More Riots - Put Your Money Under Your Mattress - Raise Taxes - More Stimulus - Need Bad Mortgage Buyout - Even Bigger To Fail Zombie Banks - Blame Bush For Economy

Nouriel Roubini appeared on the Wall Street Journal's Big Interview and offered his analysis on the present state of the US economy.
"If you get to that point of paranoia, it time to buy canned goods, ammunition and a cabin in the mountains. That's the mentality that will cause gold to go to $1800."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chimes Of Freedom Flashing

Unions Who Needs Them - Well You Do - Whether You Believe In Them Or Not

The labor movement, even with all it's warts, was once the predominate, and sometimes only successful, political and middle class force to pushed back against unbridled corporate and business power.

Michael Moore had a good post this week at Nation of Change entitled "30 Years Ago Today: The Day the Middle Class Died" . It traces back to the day the begining of a systematic plan by business to destroy the labor movement. That day was thirty years ago in 1981 when Ronald Reagan summarily fired striking Air Traffic Controllers.

That incident sent a signal to corporate America at that time that unions were fair game and the government would look the other way if business wanted to break unions. Reagan set the tone and moved to weaken the National Labor Relations Board and laws that protected union organizing and bargaining rights. Today this unrelenting attack on organized labor continues. Business will not be satisfied until this last major impediment protecting the middle class and their wages, hours, health care benefits and working conditions is removed so they can finally exercise unbridled control over their now obedient, underpaid workers.

The decline of the the labor movement and the middle class coincidently travel a similar path, as the graph below points out. Many non union workers actually benefit from collective bargaining by workers who belong to unions. Union workers often set a standard that employers have to meet in order to keep the union out.  

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

How About Holding A Constitutional Convention?

Yes, to block things like corporate person hood or creating publicly financed elections. Several liberal academically based groups and even the Teaparty, yes the I said Teaparty, are examining just what having a constitutional convention could mean. The forum is scheduled to take place a Harvard University Law School in September

Monday, August 08, 2011

Breaking: Your Representation And Civil Rights Have Been Downgraded To D+

Corporate person-hood, your democratic right to equal and uncompromisable representation is now for sale to the highest corporate bidder. Tom Hartman does a good job of explaining the problem.

The Pentagon's Priciest Plane Can't Fly Or What Other Things Would $1 Trillion Buy?

The military industrial complex newest boondoggle is the F-35 fighter. It costs one trillion dollars and the darn thing doesn't work. The question is what other things could we of spent this money on or not spent this money on? Instead we get Defense Secretary Leon Panetta whining about how cutting the Pentagon budget will put America in danger. Defense spending actually is money down a rabbit hole. Military spending has no long term return like the same dollars spent on education, health care, infrastructure or protecting the environment for example. But the jingoistic compromised war making politicians just continue to feed this corrupt corporate beast.

If You’re A Conservative Who Hates Taxes - Please Do The Following

  • Do not use Medicare.
  • Do not use Social Security
  • Do not become a member of the US military, who are paid with tax dollars.
  • Do not ask the National Guard to help you after a disaster.
  • Do not call 911 when you get hurt.
  • Do not call the police to stop intruders in your home.
  • Do not summon the fire department to save your burning home.
  • Do not drive on any paved road, highway, and interstate or drive on any bridge.
  • Do not use public restrooms.
  • Do not send your kids to public schools.
  • Do not put your trash out for city garbage collectors.
  • Do not live in areas with clean air.
  • Do not drink clean water.
  • Do not visit National Parks.
  • Do not visit public museums, zoos, and monuments.
  • Do not eat or use FDA inspected food and medicines.
  • Do not bring your kids to public playgrounds.
  • Do not walk or run on sidewalks.
  • Do not use public recreational facilities such as basketball and tennis courts.
  • Do not seek shelter facilities or food in soup kitchens when you are homeless and hungry.
  • Do not apply for educational or job training assistance when you lose your job.
  • Do not apply for food stamps when you can’t feed your children.
  • Do not use the judiciary system for any reason.
  • Do not ask for an attorney when you are arrested and do not ask for one to be assigned to you by the court.
  • Do not apply for any Pell Grants.
  • Do not use cures that were discovered by labs using federal dollars.
  • Do not fly on federally regulated airplanes.
  • Do not use any product that can trace its development back to NASA.
  • Do not watch the weather provided by the National Weather Service.
  • Do not listen to severe weather warnings from the National Weather Service.
  • Do not listen to tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake alert systems.
  • Do not apply for federal housing.
  • Do not use the internet, which was developed by the military.
  • Do not swim in clean rivers.
  • Do not allow your child to eat school lunches or breakfasts.
  • Do not ask for FEMA assistance when everything you own gets wiped out by disaster.
  • Do not ask the military to defend your life and home in the event of a foreign invasion.
  • Do not use your cell phone or home telephone.
  • Do not buy firearms that wouldn’t have been developed without the support of the US Government and military. That includes most of them.
  • Do not eat USDA inspected produce and meat.
  • Do not apply for government grants to start your own business.
  • Do not apply to win a government contract.
  • Do not buy any vehicle that has been inspected by government safety agencies.
  • Do not buy any product that is protected from poisons, toxins, etc…by the Consumer Protection Agency.
  • Do not save your money in a bank that is FDIC insured.
  • Do not use Veterans benefits or military health care.
  • Do not use the G.I. Bill to go to college.
  • Do not apply for unemployment benefits.
  • Do not use any electricity from companies regulated by the Department of Energy.
  • Do not live in homes that are built to code.
  • Do not run for public office. Politicians are paid with taxpayer dollars.
  • Do not ask for help from the FBI, S.W.A.T, the bomb squad, Homeland Security, State troopers, etc…
  • Do not apply for any government job whatsoever as all state and federal employees are paid with tax dollars.
  • Do not use public libraries.
  • Do not use the US Postal Service.
  • Do not visit the National Archives.
  • Do not visit Presidential Libraries.
  • Do not use airports that are secured by the federal government.
  • Do not apply for loans from any bank that is FDIC insured.
  • Do not ask the government to help you clean up after a tornado.
  • Do not ask the Department of Agriculture to provide a subsidy to help you run your farm.
  • Do not take walks in National Forests.
  • Do not ask for taxpayer dollars for your oil company.
  • Do not ask the federal government to bail your company out during recessions.
  • Do not seek medical care from places that use federal dollars.
  • Do not use Medicaid.
  • Do not use WIC.
  • Do not use electricity generated by Hoover Dam.
  • Do not use electricity or any service provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
  • Do not ask the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild levees when they break.
  • Do not let the Coast Guard save you from drowning when your boat capsizes at sea.
  • Do not ask the government to help evacuate you when all hell breaks loose in the country you are in.
  • Do not visit historic landmarks.
  • Do not visit fisheries.
  • Do not expect to see animals that are federally protected because of the Endangered Species List.
  • Do not expect plows to clear roads of snow and ice so your kids can go to school and so you can get to work.
  • Do not hunt or camp on federal land.
  • Do not work anywhere that has a safe workplace because of government regulations.
  • Do not use public transportation.
  • Do not drink water from public water fountains.
  • Do not whine when someone copies your work and sells it as their own. Government enforces copyright laws.
  • Do not expect to own your home, car, or boat. Government organizes and keeps all titles.
  • Do not expect convicted felons to remain off the streets.
  • Do not eat in restaurants that are regulated by food quality and safety standards.
  • Do not seek help from the US Embassy if you need assistance in a foreign nation.
  • Do not apply for a passport to travel outside of the United States.
  • Do not apply for a patent when you invent something.
  • Do not adopt a child through your local, state, or federal governments. 
  • Do not use elevators that have been inspected by federal or state safety regulators.
  • Do not use any resource that was discovered by the USGS.
  • Do not ask for energy assistance from the government.
  • Do not move to any other developed nation, because the taxes are much higher.
  • Do not go to a beach that is kept clean by the state.
  • Do not use money printed by the US Treasury.
  • Do not complain when millions more illegal immigrants cross the border because there are no more border patrol agents.
  • Do not attend a state university.
  • Do not see any doctor that is licensed through the state.
  • Do not use any water from municipal water systems.
  • Do not complain when diseases and viruses, that were once fought around the globe by the US government and CDC, reach your house.
  • Do not work for any company that is required to pay its workers a livable wage, provide them sick days, vacation days, and benefits.
  • Do not expect to be able to vote on election days. Government provides voting booths, election day officials, and voting machines which are paid for with taxes.
  • Do not ride trains. The railroad was built with government financial assistance.
The fact is, we pay for the lifestyle we expect. Without taxes, our lifestyles would be totally different and much harder. America would be a third world country. The less we pay, the less we get in return. Americans pay less taxes today since 1958 and is ranked 32nd out of 34 of the top tax paying countries. Chile and Mexico are 33rd and 34th. The Republicans are lying when they say that we pay the highest taxes in the world and are only attacking taxes to reward corporations and the wealthy and to weaken our infrastructure and way of life. So next time you object to paying taxes or fight to abolish taxes for corporations and the wealthy, keep this quote in mind…“I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

via: What Would Jack Do

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Arrogant Hipsters At Stranger Know Best: Think Most Citizens - Democratic Party Activists - Union Members - Governor - County Executive - City Council - Aero Machinists - Longshoreman Are Idiots

This week's Stranger anti-tunnel cover theme depicts cartoon characters driving off a cliff with the caption, "Don't follow the idiots". Based on that statement probably at least half the good people in Seattle and almost 90% of the political establishment are too stupid to think for themselves. Yes, in the minds of the minions who occupy the genital centered echo chamber world of the Stranger newsroom, where writers are usually most impressed by the last fad or prima donna they happened to run into, you're just another working class idiot if you may like the tunnel.

Here's a list of local citizen idiots according to the all knowing hipsters at the Stranger:

Seattle's Democratic Activists
the Seattle City Council, Labor Unions
The County Executive
The King County Labor Council and most Labor Unions in general
The Port Commission
Dan Evans
Gary Locke
King County Democrats
King County Young Democrats
46th District Democrats
34th District Democrats
36th District Democrats
11th District Democrats
International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 46
Aerospace Machinists Local 751
Adam Kline, State Senator, 37th LD
Jeanne Kohl-Welles, State Senator, 36th LD
Ed Murray, State Senator, 43rd LD
Sharon Nelson, State Senator, 34th LD
Scott White, State Senator, 46th LD
Joe McDermott, King County Council
Larry Phillips, King County Council
Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle
West Seattle Democratic Women
The Municipal League of King County
A Majority of the State Legislature

And the rest of the people who have openly endorsed the tunnel as the best option to replace the AWV. Many of these pro-tunnel citizens have been engaged in the debate from the beginning and simply have come to the conclusion that the tunnel is what works, given 10 years of talking about it.

I think the anti tunnel campaign has sunk to a number of similar sounding self-important themes about values and group think. It spouts a holier than thou type of message that says they somehow know what's best for you, your family, and everyone who considers themselves to be a real Seattlelite, and now according to the Stranger, if you disagree you're an idiot. 

The no tunnel people really don't have a plan for replacing the viaduct, just a wide eyed dream of some sort of Utopian car free Shangri-La off in the future. It's not based much in the present or concrete and relies heavily for support on the ignorance of its readership and their tendencies for terminal political correctness. Most, I suspect will vote against the tunnel because the master Stranger has spoken.

Remember these are the same people who gave us Mike McGinn. How's that working?

Like most people,  I dislike attempts at social engineering by anyone."You're too stupid to figure it out for yourself people" is their subtle message. We know what your values should be. We're elite pricks, everyone knows that. Sounding more and more like family values Republicans than they realize.

Vote Yes on Referendum 1, can we just get something actually done around here.

Compelling Reasons For Building The Deep Bore Tunnel (Revisited)

This post originally was published on this blog in October 2010.

Nearly four years ago I argued in a post that the deep bore tunnel was the real compromise for replacing the crumbling Alaskan Way viaduct architectural monstrosity. Although we have moved closer to the actual beginning of construction there still remains a number of very vocal entities in Seattle who continue to act like Chicken Little when the idea of getting on with building the damn thing comes up.

The main opposition seems to be Mayor McShwinn, bicyclists, certain eggheaded writers at the SLOG that love hairsplitting , a number of provincial thinking no tunnel folks, who I doubt own vehicles or need to use the viaduct on a regular basis, the don't tax me no matter what conservatives like Tim Eyman and people who like the view while driving on the upper deck of this deathtrap of a highway.

Many Seattleites remain skeptical. I think this is due mostly to a disinformation campaign, scare tactics, stonewalling, vague conspiracy theories put forth by the opponents and red herrings arguments coming from narrow-minded politicians, environmentalists who ride bicycles as the main means of transportation and anti-tunnel revisionists partially listed in the previous paragraph. Presented with the realities and benefits of building the tunnel I think that a majority of the citizens will come to the conclusion that the deep bore tunnel should be built.

It was a memorable moment when candidate McShwinn ended up mitigating his position in opposition to the tunnel just prior to the election, based on his advisors realizing that it would mean a probable election defeat. We know now that that this political theater was actually quite disingenuous. McShwinn never really liked the tunnel idea based on the ideology that everyone in the future apparently will be riding a bicycle, taking a bus or perhaps using space ships as a means of transport to get goods to market. Something that is unrealistic given the present day and foreseeable future demand for a corridor other than I-5 that will be needed to move people and deliveries through the city using personal or business trucks and vehicles.

McShwinn remains the main obstacle to progress. Even the City Council, to their credit, revolted and decided that it’s now time to move on towards actual construction. I think the citizens of Seattle and the region have had enough of the Chicken Little ideologically driven nay-sayer's conspiracy theories that drive their arguments in opposition to constructing the tunnel. The message from the opponents of the tunnel often appears to be based in a condescending form of social engineering that tells people, "we know best when it comes to people who still find it necessary to drive a personal vehicle",  or that building a tunnel is is some vague way an attack on Seattle's "values".  Please!

The main “red herring” argument against the tunnel seems to be that it will cost too much and create “cost overruns” that the city’s taxpayer will be force to pay. Lesser “pink herring” arguments runs the gambit and go something like this: That a tunnel built so close to the water will be an engineering impossibility and will probably cave-in during an earthquake. That there won’t be enough exits from the tunnel directly to downtown. That commuters won’t be as inclined to use public transit or ride their bike to wherever their going instead of driving. Somehow they surmise that a major traffic corridor through the city isn’t needed anymore once the viaduct is removed. Their current talking point is surface traffic increasing because tolling will make drivers more inclined to find other routes. An argument that fails to point out that 100% of the traffic will be on the surface streets if we go with their vague idea of using surface streets and transit. Finally, they like the views from the viaducts northbound upper deck when driving into town with their out of town relatives in the car. If those excuses don't hold water just claim that the sky is falling.

Let’s look at these arguments.

It cost too much and cost overruns:

Please name me a major capital hybrid project of this scale anywhere in the world in the last 100 years that didn’t have cost overruns? The Brooklyn Bridge had cost overruns. Have a contractor give you a estimate for major work on your house and the rule of thumb is that it will probably cost more then you thought it would cost in the beginning so add 15% to the estimate.

We should be looking at this project like the once in a lifetime project it is, and therefore it’s going to cost lots of money simply based on the size and scope of the undertaking. Considering the numerous long-term benefits the replacement of the viaduct and seawall will surely generate its worth it, given the increase in commerce it will bring for the region and its inhabitants. It’s really more about controlling cost overruns.

Lawmakers have gone on the record repeatedly stating that cost overruns will be controlled and the city’s responsibility for paying them mitigated. But, the Mayor continues to use this dishonest sandbag in a rather outmoded way. McShwinn really doesn’t want a tunnel at all and I believe he really never did. Most reasonable lawmakers, who have to answer to their constituents too, have moved on. They, at least, have the courage to see that building the tunnel is the real compromise here given the options that we have all been talking about ad nauseum for years now.

That the tunnel can’t be engineered safely, will be a construction nightmare and unsafe. The tunnel will eventually probably “cave-in”, during the eventual earthquake:

Hey scardicats,  please! They build a tunnel under the English Channel didn’t they? We even built the downtown transit tunnel that most people don’t feel is going to collapse anytime soon. Modern engineers must have a good laugh about this objection. Bold engineering ideas help build this country. It’s duplicitous to say this tunnel will ultimately be unsound. If the region has a “big one” earthquake most shit will cave in folks no matter how well or when it was built. Earthquake faults are better understood today and engineers will take that into consideration. Digging tunnels is common place nowadays and this tunnel is nothing that modern engineers can't handle.

There won’t be enough exits directly to downtown:

It is truly the nature of the beast. Eventually people will adapt to the changes and learn how to navigate the new highway system. Though there are varying opinions about such matters, such as the loss of access ramps to downtown. I think overall the tunnel will be a traffic moving improvement and environmental benefit by reducing the overall amount of traffic over time given the combination of plans to improve surface transit , foot and bicycle traffic options.

People will still be more inclined to use cars rather then public transit:

When someone lives on Vashon Island, as I do, or in West Seattle or Ballard they actually need their car to efficiently get to central Seattle and beyond. Businesses have to make deliveries and trucks need to move goods. Not everyone wants or desires to use public transit or bicycles. People will use public transit when the city builds a viable transit system. Seattle’s politicians and citizens have missed the boat when it comes to actually building a real transit system in this region for years and we continue to lag behind most modern cities. The politics of having a modern transit system caught up in the same process that now stalls the tunnel construction. We continue the local political tradition of having a lack of vision or chutzpa. 

We don’t need two major traffic corridors anyway. Let them use I-5:

This excuse is tied to “let them use I-5 for a while as the only way to get to town and then for sure they’ll be willing to consider riding a bike”. Seattle and the region need two major traffic corridors through the city. I-5 was not designed to handle the traffic increase that would take place if the highway 99 were not available. Commerce must move goods and services to market. Emergency response services would be impaired. You can’t use a bicycle or the bus if you’re a plumber going from south Seattle to Ballard to a job site.

Tolls are unfair or will force people to take other surface routes.

Historically tolling to support transportation projects is nothing new in Washington State. I recall paying tolls for years to paid for the first Lake Washington floating bridge. The amounts of the tolls for the tunnel have not been agreed upon, and will be adjusted so that they make the cost of using the tunnel acceptable to most drivers. I think most reasonable people understand that capital transportation improvements of this nature require reasonable tolling.

The sky is falling:

Perhaps on a second term for Mayor McGinn

But there are also many compelling reason why constructing a deep bore tunnel is the best option for the city. Here are a few:


Everyone agrees that the Viaduct needs replacing, is falling down and that a major earthquake could cause the structure to actually collapse with deadly results. The construction of the new tunnel also will include construction of a new seawall replacing the failing one that now exists.

Quality of Life:

Once the tunnel is constructed and the viaduct demolished Seattle should have one of the best waterfronts environments in the world. Everyone, even the “stop the tunnel” crowd, agrees the viaduct has been an architectural mistake. It’s ugly, blocks the waterfront from the downtown business district and actually serves as a “fence” that blocks economic development from happening in what potentially could be one of the most viable redeveloped neighborhoods in the world.

Small parks will line the areas where the viaduct once lived and promenades and city streets will replace most of the urban mess that now exists. New Businesses and shops are sure to thrive along this new viaduct-less thoroughfare. Hundreds if not thousands of new jobs can be generated by the redevelopment of the area. Seattle’s downtown will once again be connected more directly to the water. Traffic and smog will be reduced while walking and bicycles traffic will be enhanced and safer.

Jobs and more Jobs:

I have argued for some time that building the tunnel and seawall will bring thousands of union wage jobs during construction. Call it a super massive local stimulus plan if you want.These workers will be buying goods and services in the local economy. Billions of dollars will be pumped into the area directly related to tunnel and waterfront construction. In this time of economic insecurity it’s a no brainier. Local labor leadership and workers agree and estimate 30.000 new construction jobs with be created. As I said above the redevelopment of the neighborhoods surrounding the new tunnel will also create countless jobs.

The new deep bore tunnel option will keep traffic flowing during construction:

Completing the tunnel before the viaduct is removed will assure the least amount of disruption of the thousands of cars that use the corridor each day. A surface only option or replacement option would severely disrupt traffic for years during demolition and/or replacement. Most political leaders realized that keeping the viaduct open to traffic during construction of the tunnel was the real compromise.

Need for Action:

As I have said above. Most political types and many citizens agree that it's a time for action. 10 years of discussion meetings and committees on what to do with the viaduct is long enough. Had Mayor McSchwinn not been elected I think this project would have be closer to starting today. McSchwinn and his anti-tunnel allies need to realize that the tunnel “is the compromise” that knowledgeable citizens, stakeholders, most of our elected officials, and many sincere citizen activists have reached. Further delay will only add more cost to the project in the long run.

It’s time to build the tunnel, so let's get on with it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Monday, August 01, 2011

Occupy Wall Street September 17th 2011

Join non violent US Days Of Rage protest on Wall Street September 17th or protest in your city or state capitol. More information here. 

Olbermann Calls For Group Actions Street Protest Over Debt Deal

If anything Keith Olbermann special comment tonight really shows he's not working for the likes of MSNBC anymore. "Something happen here, what it is ain't exactly clear"....

Looking At The Debt Ceiling Deal And Why Liberals Are Such Terrible Negotiators

During the1970’s I worked as a labor union business agent and organizer for a large union that represented white-collar employees. One of the responsibilities of the job was to negotiate contracts for members who were represented by the union. When I was preparing to negotiate a contract I would hold a series of meetings with employees to formulate a union contract proposal.

The initial proposal by union members usually ended up being a wish list. I knew from the beginning that many of items in the proposal would eventually be changed through negotiations, paired down, compromise or eliminated. Before I began negotiations it was important to identify the items in the union’s proposal that were sacred cows, or items that the union and its membership felt were important enough to strike over. I knew that in the end the sacred cow items in the union proposal would not be acceptable to the company without a fight. It was imperative that if I wanted to be successful it would be necessary to make it known to the company that the union members were willing to strike to get the items they believed were sacrosanct and therefore absolutely necessary if we were to reach a final agreement without a work stoppage.

Ultimately the union’s success in negotiations was determined by the willingness of the membership, not the negotiator, to draw a line in the sand. I knew that the company’s fear of a shutdown of their business was the nuclear option in any negotiations. If the playing field is level and there is a credible threat that employees will strike, the employer will usually take the union’s demands seriously.  If there is no real threat of a strike they will not.

The problem often was that employees were not willing to strike. Employees would fain the idea of striking, but when the time came to exercise that power they would become fearful because of barrage of company propaganda about being replaced with scabs and the general lack of solidarity within the bargaining unit. It was every man or woman for himself or herself syndrome. The members would eventually cave in such situations and have to accept a union contract that often did not contain many of the important conditions they were demanding at the beginning of the negotiations. 

Two examples: There was a group of employees I represented who were not willing to strike for any reason to get what they wanted. When I began negotiations with the company the company knew this. The union’s position was weak and the company acted accordingly. Instead of collective bargaining the negotiations were reduced to collective begging and long-winded philosophical arguments.

In another negotiations the employees were quite militant and more than willing to strike to get what they considered important improvements in their wages and working conditions. Add to this the fact that the company, a container cargo shipping multinational, knew that if the union of clerks I represented stuck that the Long Shore Union and Teamsters would honor the picket line our union members set up. This would mean the loss of the ability of the company to do business and the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollar for each day the shutdown continued. The company was more then willing to be reasonable in negotiations, a labor stoppage was averted and the employees ended up with a contract that contained some of the best wages and working conditions for office workers on the West Coast. The company was not reasonable out of a kindness of heart. 

Liberals don’t exercise power very well. They hate conflict and love compromise. They shy away from anything that appears to require a knock down drag out fight. They want to get along to go along. Although these are honorable traits they do not impress greedy self interested men. Liberals are often not willing to stick their necks out when the going gets tough. They expect the other side to be reasonable. The other side, in this case Republicans and the tea party, are the polar opposite. They know that in order to get what you want you have to exercise, not just talk about power. Liberals often don't have the stomach for the fight or are too compromised by political correctness to be effective.

The real question is who really has the power in the given situation. An old union official I mentored under called it “the bullets”. “ You can’t get anything without the bullets” he would say.  I defined that as the ability to severely disable or destroy your opponent if necessary in order to get what you want. Exercising the real power you have effectively is the bottom line in any politically based negotiations, not using reasonableness or factual philosophical arguments that support your position.

You will not gain anything politically unless you are actually willing to exercise the real power you have as a union, political party or as an individual. Fear and an unwillingness to take action are not going to lead to change or favorable agreements. This is a basic tenet of politics and for some reason liberals for the most part seemed to have missed this fact somewhere along the line. Liberals are often more interested in electing personalities than people tough and principled enough to get the job done. LBJ didn’t have a pretty personality, but he understood how to use power. He also demanded party loyalty and solidarity.

Today, although the Democratic Party has a majority in the US Senate and a President in the white house they are really a splintered party. Progressives constantly talk about the weakness of Obama, meanwhile centrist and blue dog Democrats that are not really liberals vote with conservatives when the going gets tough. More interested in being reelected then being conceived as being liberal or progressive. Add to this the money it takes to get elected and the corporate control that it brings over politicians and you have turned the government and elections into a toxic cesspool. Although it would appear that Democrats control much, they don’t really have “the bullets”. It’s a mistake for Progressives to really think the Democratic Party will have the power and willingness to exercise it in the foreseeable future.

The President is certainly a centrist, conciliatory and a compromiser more then he is not and it would appear whether he has the power or not. But the real question is has he failed to exercise power when he has actually had it. It could be said that he has never had real power because he has always been dealing with a party that has been splintered and factional.  Frankly I believe that many so called Progressives don’t often understand the legislative processes as they are now constituted or the arcane rules that make it more difficult to really control the ultimate outcome and success of legislation, especially with a weakened and disorganized party without much discipline and where many Democrats are really moderate Republicans.

In retrospect, it probably is true that Democrats would've had a better chance of passing a budget and raising the debt ceiling in the lame duck session of 2010 when they numerically controlled majorities in both the House and Senate. They did not do this apparently because they were afraid of the fight, and the perceived controversy that such a fight would've caused in the minds of the voters. In the end it didn’t matter, because their fear of using the power they presumably had versus their desire to appear reasonable and uncontroversial ended up bringing about the electoral debacle of 2010 that strengthened the Republicans and the radical tea party's power over the Congress we find ourselves stuck with today.