Eyes on 2012 And Political Acts

After last night’s Ugly Contest in Iowa and all the post-op analysis today, one might easily believe that the 2012 election season is simply a Republican Mummer’s strut [costuming optional] to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Au Contraire!  But for Democrats Wandering the Wilderness like myself, the on-going contest is an exercise in few choices to no choice at all.  At least at the presidential level. There are, however, alternate choices out there.  Rocky Anderson, a former Democrat and mayor of Salt Lake City, is running under the Justice Party.  And Buddy Roemer, a Republican [though you’d be hard pressed to find him on the official roster of candidates] is also running.

Both these men offer fresh voices and counter the establishment view, whether you be liberal or conservative.  They could, in fact, change the monotonous conversation of the legacy parties.

But unlike Michelle Bachmann, I’m not waiting for miracles.

Which is why I’d suggest we turn our attention to the 2012 House and Senate candidates, individuals who deserve a look, who have a track record to examine and who ultimately, if elected could work to change the frustrating, even dangerous defense of the status quo.

Earlier, I’ve written [and will no doubt continue to write] about the Massachusetts Senate race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown.  This is a contest that should be interesting to watch and has to date given Warren a 14 pt. jump in the polls, a result that produced Brown’s public whine–the press is giving Warren the ‘kid glove’ treatment.  Poor baby!  Tea Party love appears to be on the wane.

But as the GOP primary has clearly shown, polls are fickle.  A favored candidate can go from flavor of the week to yesterday’s news in an eye blink.  Which is why–once we find a candidate we respect, someone we believe will serve the public’s needs over the plutocracy—keeping abreast of these candidates and offering support, in any way we can, is important.  Some voters may be able to throw a few dollars to a candidate.  Others may write and hope their words are read. We can inform [or at least try to inform] our family and friends. Still others may lend campaign support—make calls, knock on doors, distribute campaign material–in their respective states and districts.

Political action comes in many forms.  For the polar bears with hearts aflame the choice might be throwing on sweaters and warm socks and joining the up-coming Occupy Congress action in DC on January 17.

Whatever we do, regardless of how small, can make a difference because small things add up.  Think of the Wisconsin pushback, the fight for worker’s rights, the amazing recall effort now underway against Scott Walker. Or the pushback against legislation [HR 326 Stop Online Piracy] that could easily curtail the Internet as we know it, giving business and government the ability to automatically shutdown websites without appeal or due process [although under the guise of copyright infringement].  This legislation was halted.  Or the fight to remove the immunity sought by TBTFs and supported by the Administration from proper investigation and possible prosecution. Or even the most recent decision handed down by the Montana Supreme Court, rejecting the Citizen United debacle. This is an ongoing fight.  But with public support and public servants willing to pickup the ball and run the distance, we have the opportunity to change the game on the ground.

So, to start the New Year off, here are some names to consider or reconsider:

Two women I suggested earlier are Tammy Baldwin [D. WI] and Winona Baldenegro [D. AZ].

Tammy Baldwin, presently a member of the House, is running for the US Senate.  She has a strong record in women’s issues and has recently backed a resolution to remove any and all immunity from the banks and mortgage institutions involved the 2007-2008 meltdown.  Frankly, the public deserves its Pecora moment if we’re ever to reclaim faith in our financial system.  Baldwin’s official site is here.

Winona Benally Baldenegro is a new but promising face running for the first Congressional district in Arizona.  Her voice is fresh and decidedly progressive.  I’d suggest checking in with updated materials here.

She has an impressive list of credentials and an interesting story.  Someone to watch.

Alan Grayson will never be confused with a diplomat but has on a myriad of occasions spoken truth to power.  Grayson lost his House seat in the 2010 Tea Party blowout but will be running again for Florida’s 8th District in 2012.  Without overstating the evident, the GOP hates Grayson for his less than polite critiques of Republican policy stands.  For example, his infamous statement–“If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly.”

No, the man will not receive the Nobel Peace Prize.  But he will fight for the public’s interest, and he has not given President Obama’s failures a free ride either.  From my point of view, that makes him a worthy candidate.  You can find background info, videos, policy statements here.

But you can easily Google Grayson and find a wealth of detail on what the man stood for his first time out and what we can expect in the future.  He’s no shrinking violet.

An interesting if not problematic development of redistricting, is in Ohio’s primary where Democratic candidates Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur will face off to represent the state’s 9th District.  In my mind, this is a crazy wealth of riches and sadly, one of these long-time Congressional Reps will end up defeated, stepping out of the public arena in which both have served with distinction.  Only last week, Kucinich made a short but pointed statement about the NDAA and America’s war without end.

On the other hand Marcy Kaptur introduced legislation to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act and was the first voice I recall standing on the House floor, defending the rights of and railing against the abuses inflicted on foreclosed homeowners. I’d be hard pressed if I were a resident of Ohio.

The good news?  Both candidates are solid and worthy.

Mazie Hirono [D HI] represents the Hawaii’s 2nd district but is now running for her state’s open US Senate seat due to Daniel Akaka’s scheduled retirement.  Her primary challenger will be Ed Case, a former Democratic Congressman who would run to Congresswoman Hirono’s political right .  Hirono has a strong record in supporting legislation to advance and protect women’s rights, has been a vocal advocate for funding pre-K education, opposed the Iraq War as well as the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  She would come to the Senate as an experienced legislator, not only with her current House position but as a state representative for 14 years and service as Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor from 1994-2002.  Early December polls indicated Hirono with an 18 pt lead for the primary run off.

Additional information on Hirono’s background can be found here.

As we move through the primary and GE season, I’ll be updating these candidates and mentioning others.  If we want to make a difference, produce real change–tangible, visible change people are so hungry for–then staying plugged into the cast of candidates, their message, credentials and track record is important.As is working at our local levels.

I listened to a several-hour interview with Chris Hedges this past weekend on Book TV.  One call-in viewer, a disabled grandmother, asked Hedges what she could do to change the political and social landscape with her physical and financial limitations.  Hedges answer was simple but eloquent.  He reminded the woman that we each give and do what we can.  We all have limitations, he reminded her, but that reaching out to a neighbor, a friend, even a stranger in need and/or crisis in these trouble times is, in fact, a political act.

I approve of that message.  Keep your eyes on 2012; we’re living in extraordinary times.

From Marxist to Corporatist, Elizabeth Warren Drives the GOP to Insanity

Anyone who has been following the Elizabeth Warren story, her bid for the Senate seat in Massachusetts, which would put pinup Scott Brown into early retirement, knows the attacks from the Right have become increasingly frantic.  Particularly since Warren’s numbers continue to rise and contributions pile up in surprising amounts.

What’s the Republican machine and Wall Street to do?

They’ve tried the expected smears.  Warren has been painted as a woman prone to violence.  She was the Woman Who Would Throw Rocks.

Okay, that was pretty silly.

Let’s try: Warren is a socialist/Marxist.  Really?  Yet her message that no one becomes a success all on their own resonates with a lot of voters.  Why?  Because many people actually believe in the public/social contract that provides roads, education, police and fire protection etc. , the very things we all rely on, rich or poor.

Back to the drawing boards.

OMG.  Elizabeth Warren has voiced support for the Occupy Wall St. Movement.  She said she’d actually been championing OWS principles for years and that she was the ‘intellectual foundation’ of the Movement.  Now, we’re cooking.  The Republicans have declared the Occupiers hippies, losers, people who want something for nothing and . . . anti-capitalists.  Bring in the cameras of police beating on those vile, violent, dirty protesters and . . .

Oops.  Problem is many Americans agree with OWS positions, believe that Wall St was given a pass, while Main St was left to wither.  In addition, many voters are beginning to realize that unemployment, the housing debacle, the unsustainable debt can be directly linked to financial fraud and malfeasance, and that many politicians in DC are on the lobbyist take.  That’s known as the Washington ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ two-step.

What to do, what to do?

The woman is obviously a problem.  So . . .let’s make her part of the problem and the Big Lie.  Let’s roll out the word TARP.  She was involved in that, yes?

Well, actually no.  Elizabeth Warren headed the oversight panel,  investigating and tracking how those TARP funds had been spent.  TARP itself came right out of the George Bush White House.

But she spoke to those evil bankers, the very ones who stole the country’s wealth?

Well, yes she did.  While creating and then assembling the Consumer Protection Bureau, an organization to prevent consumers from being suckered into confusing, complicated financial instruments, as in home loans and credit cards that only give the bad news in the tiniest of print or in a foreign financial legalese.

Why quibble about the details.  Guilty as charged!

And so, we have the new bewildering ad from GPS Crossroads [Karl Rove’s love child], which declares Elizabeth Warren . . .

A champion of Wall St!

We’re beginning to see GOP flop sweat in action: when you have no good ideas, go with the truly stupid.

This is going to be a most interesting year!

Let’s Hear It For the Girls’ Triple Play

We’ve all been following Elizabeth Warren’s bid for the Senate seat in Massachusetts with giddy expectations. And the landscape looks very promising with Warren gaining substantial contributions from small donors, comprised primarily of women and middle-to-low income voters.  No particular surprise.  For moderate to liberal women, she speaks their language regarding equity, education, health care and basic fairness.  For moderate to low-income voters, she is a champion for economic justice and cleaning up a corrupt system stacked against those left behind economically.  She is a woman of the moment and has put Scott Brown and his Wall Street backers into a political scramble.  Brown is reportedly polling below 50%–not a good statistic this far out.

But in addition to Warren, we have a couple of other very attractive female candidates running for the House and Senate in 2012.

One candidate I recently read about is Wenona Benally Baldenegro, a Native American running for the 1st Congressional District in Arizona.  Ms. Baldenegro, having grown up on the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona., is intimately familiar with the challenges of poverty and low expectations.  She has said quite clearly that current Republican policy would balance the Federal budget on the backs of the middle-class, working class and elderly.  Baldenegro is a role model for all Americans.  Despite her modest beginnings, she is well credentialed, holding a law degree from Harvard as well as a Masters from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy’s  School of Government.  If successful in her 2012 bid, she would replace Tea Party darling, Representative Paul Gosar, who recently suggested opening the Grand Canyon for uranium extraction.

Having been to the Grand Canyon [I can still recall the absolute awe experienced], I’ll say without qualification that this is exactly what we don’t need—another national treasure looted for its resources.  Think BP’s hit job on the Gulf of Mexico.  Or off-shore [because corporate greed and irresponsibility has no boundaries], TEPCO’s response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Enough is enough!

If elected, Ms. Baldenegro would be the first Native American to represent Arizona in DC and the first Native American woman ever to serve in the US Congress.

She’s definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Another promising candidate is Tammy Baldwin [Rep D-Wis], who will be running for Wisconsin’s open senate seat, a spot put into play by sitting Democratic Senator Herb Kohl’s scheduled retirement.  Ms. Baldwin has been a vocal champion of the Wisconsin fight with Governor Scott Walker, his draconian measures against union employees, the shameless tax giveaways as well as the bitter war Walker has stoked against the state’s working class in general.  Baldwin’s announcement early last month made clear that her focus would be on: Wall Street reform, US withdrawal from Afghanistan and economic justice for America’s working class.

Sounds like a winning combo!

Baldwin, holding a law degree from the University of Wisconsin, has served as a US Representative since 1999.  It’s interesting to note that she voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq [her vote’s actually on record unlike the present occupant of the WH] and she co-sponsored a bill calling for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney.  Later, she proposed another bill to impeach Alberto Gonzales.  She’s been a strong defender of women’s health and reproductive rights and has supported measures to strengthen the laws against sexual violence and violence against women.

She also happens to be openly gay, the first openly gay non-incumbent elected to the House of Representatives and the first woman elected to Congress from Wisconsin.

Btw, if Elizabeth Warren wins the 2012 race, she will be the first woman to represent Massachusetts in the US Senate.

Three women–smart, attractive, progressive.  All three candidates hold law degrees, interesting backgrounds and a desire to serve the public, particularly the besieged middle and working-class.  All three will attempt to break ground with a surprising series of ‘firsts.’ We should recall that women represent 51% of the population but are sorely under-represented in the halls of power.

We’ve come a long way but . . . obviously not far enough.

That being said, let’s hear it for the girls and their gutsy triple play!

Elizabeth Warren for Senate? MA Dems Not On Board So Far

The blogosphere is all a-flutter over the possibility of Elizabeth Warren running for the Senate from Massachusetts.

The Progressive Change Campaign has begun a petition drive to draft Warren.

Taylor Marsh is reporting that Warren told Andrea Mitchell that she will think about the Senate after she gets back to Harvard.

Greg Sargent has posted a list of reasons why national Democrats want Warren to run.

So how do Massachusetts Democrats feel about all this? A few days ago, The Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi wrote that President Obama was afraid to unlikely to appoint Elizabeth Warren as head of the new Consumer Protection Agency that she fought for and then built, so now her supporters are pushing a Senate run against Republican Scott Brown as a “consolation prize.” According to Vennochi, this initiative isn’t being received all that well here in Massachusetts.

On paper, her candidacy would attract women, liberals, and money from both constituencies, locally and nationally. “She’s tough as nails . . . She’s smart as hell and she could wrap Scott Brown around her little finger in a debate,’’ said Philip Johnston, [John] Walsh’s predecessor as state party chairman.

But Warren isn’t well-known, beyond a small circle of elite Democrats. She has never run for office or built a grassroots organization. And a handful of candidates already in the race won’t be happy about being big-footed, leaving current supporters in an awkward spot.

Massachusetts Democrats aren’t too pleased with the DSCC these days after they and Obama chose not to support Martha Coakley against Scott Brown. State party chairman Walsh told Vennochi that he probably wouldn’t support Warren’s candidacy, since he is backing John Kerry’s chosen candidate Setti Warren. Vennochi:

The idea of Washington Democrats imposing their will on Massachusetts Democrats is distasteful. The DSCC, especially, is not popular here after its tactics largely backfired in the special election that Brown stunningly won. A lack of initial support for Democrat Martha Coakley was followed up by a belated barrage of negative ads that hurt rather than helped Coakley.

The DSCC can also come off as bullies.

Last month, when Kerry was hosting a fundraiser for the DSCC at his Beacon Hill home, he wanted to invite Setti Warren to the event. But the DSCC said no to inviting only one candidate because the group didn’t want to look like it is taking sides – unless, of course, it’s Elizabeth Warren’s side.

Besides, would Obama pitch in to support Warren for Senate? Somehow I doubt it.