Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Barack Obama Can Learn From John Adler

Democrat John Adler is my congressman. At least he will be for another month. This Harvard-educated lawyer with a career full of legislative experience was defeated by an ex-football player who raises donkeys for a living.

Adler was elected to Congress in 2008 on Barack Obama’s coattails. Prior to his short congressional career, he served in the New Jersey State Senate for seven years and legislated slightly to the left of center, which in his district characterizes him as a “liberal.” All that changed when he went to Washington. Adler became a stealth member of the Blue Dogs and his move to the right was punctuated by his vote to deny medical insurance to 40 million Americans. This was done to placate the Republican base in a district with more Republicans than Democrats, and it proved to be Adler’s undoing. In the 2010 election, Republicans voted for his opponent, a bona fide Republican, while Democrats stayed home.

John Adler made several other critical mistakes in his campaign, but there’s a lesson here for President Obama to learn for his 2012 re-election bid. Republicans vote for real Republicans, not Democrats who follow the Republican line.  Democrats either vote for real Democrats or stay home.  But the president seems to have turned a deaf ear to this message.

One example is President Obama’s recent announcement of a two year freeze of government salaries. In the grand scheme of things, this will have a negligible impact on the budget deficit. Over the next two years, $5 billion will be saved.  That’s $5 billion that will not be spent by government workers to stimulate our moribund economy.  Five billion dollars is how much the Congressional Research Service figures we spend on the Iraq War in a fortnight.  It’s an insignificant amount that placates the anti-government GOP, pisses off hard-working Federal employees, and gets the President nothing in return.  This plays right into the Republicans’ hands.

Now, the President has anointed Wall Street alumnus Timothy Geithner as the point man in negotiating the tax stalemate with the new Republican leadership.   Don’t expect anything more to come out of this than a complete capitulation on extending the deficit-busting tax cuts for the wealthy.  Again, playing right into the Republicans’ hands.

Almost a year ago, when the Democrats were in power, I lamented the fact that this country did not have a loyal opposition.  As the minority, the Republicans simply obstructed progress, openly declared their unqualified opposition to the president, and did not even pretend to work with the majority to better the nation.  So we had the “opposition” part but were lacking the “loyal.”  Now we are heading into the opposite direction.  With the Republicans about to take over the House, a dysfunctional Senate where the Republicans abuse the filibuster, and a President who is afraid to draw a line in the sand, the Democrats will be the ones out of power – “loyal” but with no effective “opposition.”

Perhaps the President is over-confident, figuring that the GOP will nominate an inexperienced ideological drone like Sarah Palin. And then he’s counting on the electorate to see through this, and vote for a Democrat acting as a Republican instead of a flawed candidate. If that’s the case, he should take another look at John Adler’s loss and heed that lesson.  John Adler, in his concession speech said, “I don’t think enough [people] voted for me, but that’s okay.  (emphasis mine).  Will President Obama say “that’s okay” when the American people select a real Republican instead of an ersatz one in 2012?

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Real WikiLeaks Issue

Much of the mainstream media is missing the important point about the WikiLeaks memos. These memos, recently released, consist of a few hundred thousand classified State Department cables covering diplomatic issues in several countries, primarily in the Middle East.

The memos were allegedly leaked by Private First Class (PFC) Bradley Manning who copied them to a removable storage device and provided copies to the offshore WikiLeaks web site. While there is much consternation among the press and the political elite, I suspect that among diplomatic circles there are not too many surprises.

What boggles the mind, however, is how in the world did a PFC get access to so much (apparently) unencrypted material?  Sensitive classified data is compartmentalized, and only those individuals who can demonstrate a “need to know” have the keys to the kingdom. Removable storage devices on classified computers are strictly forbidden except under tightly controlled circumstances. Is security management within the State Department that incompetent?  Or was PFC Manning just a tool, used by a rogue State Department executive or military officer in an attempt to discredit President Obama and disrupt the behind-the-scenes progress that is being made in foreign policy?

PFC Manning is facing a half-century in military prison once he is convicted by the often oxymoronically-named military justice system. His languishing in a cell block will serve no purpose toward reversing any damage done or enhancing national security. Instead, the government should work out a plea bargain to ensure that if there is more to this than just a rogue enlisted man’s 15 minutes of fame, that Manning’s manipulators are brought to justice.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Party of Death

Over the past two years, the Republican Party has justifiably earned the moniker of “The Party of No”.  Republicans have not only effectively blocked much of President Obama’s agenda, but have even blocked his attempts to pass initiatives that were originally introduced by their own party.  And they are unashamed to point out that the defeat of the President is their number one goal – not jobs, not healthcare – but the bringing down of the President. 

But the labeling of the GOP as the “Party of No” hides a more insidious aspect of their agenda – the fact that their policies cause orders of magnitudes more unnecessary deaths than terrorist attacks have done.

The most egregious example, of course, is the Republicans’ opposition to accessibility of health care for all Americans.  Prior to the passage of the watered-down Affordable Care Act, the deaths of 45,000 Americans each year were attributable to lack of health insurance.  John Boehner and his ilk campaigned on repealing the current act, and based on their track record, their rhetoric implying that they will start over and come up with something better rings hollow.

Another example of the GOP’s pro-death platform is in its abhorrence toward life-saving regulations.  Recent disasters in the oil drilling and coal industries point out the need for strong enforcement of safety standards, yet the Republicans’ platform is to gut these regulations in the name of “free market economics.”  And speaking of coal and oil, the Republicans’ plan to neuter the Environmental Protection Agency will cost thousands more lives due to the increase in respiratory and other diseases brought on by free-market pollution.

Wars of choice are another trademark of Republican policy.  As our involvement in Afghanistan now surpasses the time spent by the Soviet Union in that quagmire, the number of military and civilian deaths in the Middle East continues to go up.  Try telling those families that the combat mission in Iraq has ended.

In the Republicans’ mind, a convoluted interpretation of the Second Amendment trumps the safety of the American public when they kowtow to their lobbyists and benefactors by refusing to restrict the owner ship of assault weapons.  More unnecessary deaths thanks to the GOP.

In addition to the well-earned name of “The Party of Death”, here in New Jersey, the GOP – or at least our GOP Governor – can be proud of the title “The Party of Pain and Suffering.”  Despite the fact that the legislature passed a law to allow certain patients to alleviate debilitating symptoms by using medical marijuana for palliative care, Governor Christie has thrown roadblock after roadblock in front of the implementation of that law.

All of this is not to say that the Democrats don’t deserve some culpability in promoting policies of death.  After all, many of today’s Democrats are filling the “moderate Republican” political void left by former Republicans who are moving rightward toward the extreme positions of the Tea Party in droves.  But by and large, the policies of some Democrats to promote universal and preventative health care, smart environmental and safety regulations and rebuilding of the middle class are the real pro-life platforms.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Tale of Three Traitors

Merriam-Webster defines traitor as

1: one who betrays another's trust or is false to an obligation or duty
2: one who commits treason

By this definition, Jonathan Pollard is a traitor to the United States.

Tormented as a child by anti-Semitic bullies, Pollard eventually pursued a career in Naval Intelligence with access to highly classified information.  Despite early drug use, false statements on his security application, and his repeated flaunting of the rules, Pollard somehow managed to maintain his clearance.  During the course of his employment, he passed classified information to Israel and South Africa.  By all accounts, this is a treasonous act, and Pollard is paying the price.  He has served 25 years of a life sentence, and is eligible for parole in 2015.

While all players in the intelligence game rely on insiders like Pollard to discover classified information, covert operations play a significant role also.  Establishing a covert operation is expensive and time-consuming.  Exposure of a covert operative is a treasonous act that places many lives in danger.  Yet, that’s exactly what Vice President Dick Cheney and political capo Karl Rove did when they allegedly exposed CIA spy Valerie Plame as part of a vendetta against her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson.  I say “allegedly” because even evil people are afforded a presumption of innocence under American law.  Unfortunately, Cheney and Rove are so powerful that they will never be brought to justice.

While Pollard languishes in prison in North Carolina, Cheney and Rove remain free.  Their fall guy, Scooter Libby, was found guilty in the course of commiting the same crime, but Libby’s prison term was commuted by Cheney’s puppet, George W. Bush.

What Pollard did was wrong.  But he spied for our friends, while Cheney and Rove’s actions provided aid and comfort to our enemies.  Twenty-five years in prison is enough for Pollard.  He should be freed, extradited to Israel, and his cell should be reserved for Cheney and Rove.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Tunnel from Gracie Mansion to the Executive Mansion

Cross-posted from bluejersey.com

Was Michael Bloomberg’s white knight approach to a Hudson River commuter tunnel the first salvo in his presidential run against his neighboring naysayer-in-chief, Chris Christie? 

Recently, the New York City mayor announced a concept to expand the city’s subway lines under the Hudson River to connect with the New Jersey Transit system in Secaucus.  This comes on the heels of Governor Christie’s squandering of almost one billion dollars in sunk costs, penalties, and remedial construction after the governor’s cancellation of the ongoing project to double the NJ Transit/Amtrak trans-Hudson capacity.

Of course, Chris Christie has repeatedly denied that he is running for president, and he’s never lied to us before.  His blunt style has always been well-received by the right wing, and his pandering to the extreme fringe, such as his recent revelation that he is a global warming skeptic, are indications that he is positioning himself for national office.  So Bloomberg’s timing is curious.  Why didn’t he chime in during the debate instead of waiting for Christie to fail to come up with an alternate solution?

Mayor Bloomberg has stated that he would not consider a run unless he could count on the 270 electoral votes required to win.  He does have the advantage of tremendous wealth, and with no need to be on the rubber chicken fundraising circuit, he could devote all of his time to developing the nationwide relationships and infrastructure that he would need in a presidential run.  His rescue of the tunnel resonates with left-leaning infrastructure weenies like me, and his fiscal conservative creds help him with moderate Republicans (if there are any) and Blue Dog Democrats.

The country is frustrated with the speed at which Barack Obama is extricating us from the Bush Recession, and by 2012, with the Republicans in charge of the House, the vast majority of middle-of-the-road voters will see that the “party of NO” is just an empty shell catering to their corporate masters.  A fresh approach has a good chance of being effective, and no doubt Michael Bloomberg will continue to use his clout as the most powerful mayor in the nation and his personal fortune to convince us that he provides that choice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Physician, Heal Thyself

Neither political party is void of hypocrisy, but the Republicans have it down to a science.  (Oops – bad choice of words – Republicans eschew science, but you know what I mean!)

Some of this hypocrisy is rooted in the language they use.  The right wing’s twisting of words took root in the Reagan era when the term “Compassionate Conservative” became part of the political lexicon.  The party that wants to keep tens of millions of Americans from having even the most basic health care is hardly compassionate, and the party that has catapulted the national debt into the stratosphere is hardly conservative.

Now, meet the new poster child of Republican hypocrisy – Congressman-Elect and physician Andy Harris of Maryland.  His campaign was based on a single issue – repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  Harris’s campaign web site states, “the answer to the ever-rising cost of insurance is not the expansion of government-run or government-mandated insurance.” 

At this week’s freshman orientation for new members of Congress, Harris was surprised to find out that his new government-funded health insurance policy, like many private policies, had a short waiting period (less than 30 days) before it took effect.  Unlike many private insurance policies, Harris’ new policy won’t cost him a dime.  According to staffers who were at that meeting, Harris became livid and railed against this waiting period.  While he has the option of using COBRA to extend his prior coverage to fill the short gap, he would have to pay for that himself.  Instead, he had his hypocritical hissy-fit.

Wikipedia has a modern translation of the Hippocratic Oath – an oath every physician takes.  In part, it reads: 
  • I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
  • I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm. 

I don’t know whether Dr. Harris’s medical education was subsidized by the government, and I don’t begrudge him from putting that expensive education on the back burner while he serves in Congress.  But as a physician and public servant, he now has a special obligation to implement the Hippocratic Oath, not only as a physician but as a trusted emissary to the halls of power.  His stance on the repeal of health care, which would cost thousands of lives, is the epitome of hypocrisy and an abrogation of the oath that he swore to.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Building America

Ken Mandel, a former Rutgers classmate of mine, produced a compelling documentary film last year titled Building Alaska.  There, he describes the history, trials, and tribulations of transforming the infrastructure of this frozen wasteland into one that supports a growing economy that is constantly re-inventing itself, providing thousands of jobs to both Alaskans and residents of the “lower 48.”

As blogger Dave Johnson points out, and as has been confirmed by the Bush track record, the conventional wisdom that businesses create jobs is nonsense.  It is demand that creates jobs, and without demand, businesses contract and jobs disappear.  This is the situation that Barack Obama inherited, and to a large extent still exists today.

The history of Alaska’s infrastructure, and by extension Alaska’s employment rolls, has been driven by a constantly-changing demand.  At the turn of the twentieth century, the film points out, gold, silver, and copper were discovered in interior parts of Alaska and the Yukon, and the only way to get the precious material out to the market was via overland routes to sea ports in southern and southeastern Alaska.    Visionaries such as Michael J. Heney and E.C. Hawkins provided the dreams and impetus to build railroads that were deemed impossible to construct, and later, roads over melting permafrost.  Building bridges over gorges in subzero weather where half the year the daylight is short presented challenges  unique to Alaska.  Budgets were tight, and compromises had to be made, but the resulting railroads, automobile highways, and later the oil pipeline were all expensive, challenging investments that provided significant boosts to Alaska’s economy.

Looking back to my childhood years, we have had visionaries like Heney and Hawkins who provided me and my generation with bold infrastructure improvements to help make the American economy the strongest in the world.  Today, we take it for granted that we can drive from coast to coast without encountering a traffic light, but it was not always this way.  Our Interstate Highway System was championed by President Eisenhower (a Republican) and was modeled after European highways such as the Autobahn.  Locally, Robert Moses was also a visionary who developed many of the bridges and roads in the New York metropolitan area.

Unfortunately, today our short-sighted politicians and businessmen don’t understand the importance of infrastructure investment as we allow our current bridges and roads to crumble under inadequate maintenance, and defer or cancel much needed projects such as the ARC tunnel, high speed rail, and air traffic control modernization.  On paper, we may be balancing our budget in the short term, but we are mortgaging our future and the economy our grandchildren will inherit.

Today’s tea party politicians are calling for extension of tax cuts for the wealthy that will add $700 billion to our deficit, will not create a single American job, and will leave the nation with nothing to account for those dollars.  We would be orders of magnitude better off if we were to apply those funds to infrastructure projects that would create American jobs, put people back to work, generate significant tax revenue, and provide our children with the same type of legacy that our parents left us.  Twentieth century Alaska had its visionaries.  Where are the twenty-first century visionaries for America? 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NJ Dem's Marketing Fail

Cross-posted from BlueJersey.com

Markos Moulitsas ("Kos") posted a diary today entitled "Barack Obama's marketing fail."  It points out how some of the mainstream media are twisting the results of the recent Deficit Commission announcement to pin the blame on the president for proposed cuts to social programs.

New Jersey Democrats are also failing at the marketing of their message to the mainstream media.  Case in point: today's Philadelphia Inquirer article on how Pennsylvania governor-elect Tom Corbett hopes to emulate Chris Christie.

The Inquirer is one of the more politically balanced newspapers around.  Its editorial page is slightly left-of-center, but it has carried far right columnists like Rick Santorum.

In its reporting on what our governor has done with the budget deficit, the Inquirer states:

"Because Christie plugged that budget hole without raising taxes, he raised enough eyes round the country to catapult him from Jersey pol to national figure."  (emphasis mine)

In discussions with several of my friends, it is clear that this is the common wisdom - Christie has cut taxes.  Democrats have to do better in debunking this falsehood.  According to the Home News Tribune, when you take into account the deferral of the homestead rebate, this year's property tax bill will average out to a 23.5 percent increase.  And of course, other taxes and fees such as the NJ Transit fare increase are rising faster than inflation.

It's ironic that Barack Obama, who lowered taxes on the middle class, is getting a bum rap from the mainstream media, while Chris Christie, who tells seemingly credible lies, is getting the royal treatment.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"All The Leaves are Brown, and the Sky is Gray"

America is about to enter some difficult times.  The recent election of corporate-sponsored Tea Party Republicans will have a deleterious effect on the middle class, the poor, our overall economy, and the quality of life throughout the country.  Will America slide further into the status of a banana republic as Nicholas Kristof posits in today’s Times, or is there a glimmer of hope?

Throughout the last half of the twentieth century, California has been a bellwether for trends in American society, both positive and negative.  The conservative revolution gained traction when Ronald Reagan was elected governor in 1966.  Proposition 13 was enacted in 1978.  It eviscerated California’s education system, and is the model that the conservatives and the current Tea Party crowd is following in their quest to eliminate needed government services.  The Golden State led the effort to promote clean air by enforcing automobile emission standards which were subsequently adopted by several states and the federal government.  And despite the fact that a ballot initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana recently failed, residents have been able to legally use weed for palliative care for over a decade.  California’s Silicon Valley was the birthplace of our nation’s economic boom before corporations moved most of their semiconductor manufacturing operations offshore.  What starts in California eventually takes root across the nation.

Now, maybe – just maybe – the recent election results in California may indicate how things will play out in the national scene over the next decade.  Democrat Jerry Brown will return to the governor’s office after 28 years despite the $163 million self-funded campaign of his corporatist opponent.  Barbara Boxer’s re-election to the Senate will retain one of the few voices of reason in that otherwise dysfunctional body.  There’s nothing wrong with electing career politicians if they have a proven track record of serving their constituents.  And both houses of the California legislature are in Democratic hands.  (Generally, one-party rule us unhealthy, but when the opposition party is hostile to government, do they really deserve to be in government?)  In this month’s election, Californians also passed a constitutional amendment which removed the unworkable requirement that budgets must be passed with a two-thirds majority, ensuring that a small minority of legislators can’t block progress.

It is said that California is like a granola bar.  Once you remove the fruits and nuts, all you have left is the flakes.  And there’s still plenty wrong in parts of the Golden State.  Now that his party is in the majority, Southern California representative Darrell Issa will commence a series of witch hunts in the House of Representatives, investigating every Democrat who breathes, and we will be revisiting the folly of the Clinton impeachment as Issa and his fellow birthers divert the president’s attention from the serious business of governing.  Nevertheless, California is on the right track.  Let’s hope that history repeats itself and the country follows California’s lead before the Tea Party drives us off a cliff.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

GOP Health Care Plan Revealed

WASHINGTON January 14, 2011.  Today, the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives revealed their long-awaited alternative to what they refer to as “Obamacare”.  The new program, dubbed “Citizen Physicians Corps” has received overwhelming support from the Tea Party and the insurance industry executives who drafted the legislation. 

Explaining the “Citizen Physician” program, Speaker John Boehner used an analogy to the political system with which he is intimately familiar.  “We have seen that government and managerial experience along with education are not guarantees of success.”  The House leader continued, “Philadelphia Eagles Jon Runyan's congressional victory against the experienced Harvard-educated lawyer John Adler and perennial candidate Christine O'Donnell's surprise primary victory over beloved veteran congressman Mike Castle are but two examples that show that experience and education count for very little.  If it's good enough for Congress, it's good enough for health care.” 

House Majority Whip Eric Cantor provided details of the program.  “Why do physicians need to go through expensive medical school followed by years of internship and residency to perform even the simplest procedures?” he asked.  “This is driving costs upward when our doctors need to pay back their six-figure loans.”  Instead, Citizen Physicians will be required to take a two week correspondence course followed by a simple test.  “We don't want just anyone to become a citizen physician.  So we test them three times.”  Cantor continued, “In each test, we see if they can distinguish their ass from a hole in the ground.”  (Editor's note:  Please do not confuse this with Jon Runyan's tax-exempt donkeys or Chris Christie's Tunnel to Nowhere.)  “If they get it right two out of three times, they are qualified.” Cantor went on, “members of the Citizen Physician Corps will be paid minimum wage so that we are able to drive down medical costs.  As part of the program, we have exempted them from medical liability so that the expense of malpractice suits is eliminated.”

 Cantor added, “In order to protect people's tenth amendment rights, the use of citizen physicians will not be mandatory.  Those who can afford to employ elite college-trained surgeons are still free to do so on their own.”

To achieve maximum cost savings, the program will start with those specialties that are the most expensive.  A one-year pilot program will be kicked off next month to get citizen physicians started in the area of neurosurgery.  While vociferous criticism was raised by the American Medical Association, Cantor remarked, “You don't have to be a rocket scientist to do brain surgery.”  Real rocket scientist Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) was unavailable for comment.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Glass is Empty

While reporting on last night’s disaster, liberal outlets from MSNBC to BlueJersey.com (which I write for), have been trying to put a positive spin on the election even as they report the end of “change we can believe in.”  Yes, Harry Reid held back the nuttiest of the wing nuts.  Yes, Rush Holt, one of the few remaining progressives held back the well-financed campaign of a Tea Party candidate in New Jersey.  But overall, this election has set America on a course from which it may never recover.

In January, two of the three branches of government will be controlled by the extreme fringe.  With a dysfunctional Senate virtually tied, the House of Representatives and John “Hell No We Can’t” Boehner will control the legislative agenda.  (And Boehner will be second in line for the presidential succession after Joe Biden).  Even before the election, the Republican leadership treasonously stated that their first priority was to stop President Obama, and it looks like they succeeded.  Maybe the Tea Partiers relish gridlock, but in today’s world, doing nothing really means accelerating backwards.

The radicalization of the other branch of government, the Supreme Court, started decades ago when Ronald Reagan put Antonin Scalia on the court.  The Bush nominees further radicalized the Court, and the two liberal Clinton justices are in their 70s.  Even Barack Obama’s two justices are less liberal than the ones they replaced.  And in today’s Senate environment, don’t expect any additional Obama nominees to be any better.

With the Fourth Estate firmly in the hands of its corporate masters and Republican operatives, that leaves only the President standing between the destructive Tea Party agenda and the revitalization of the middle class.  While he made great strides in his first two years, they fell far short of the potential of what could have been had the president been more effective in dealing with a congress controlled by his own party.

Some pundits posit that the political system follows a pendulum – swinging from left to right periodically.  But the leftward swings have been short-lived, and a better analogy would be that of a saddle – what physicists call an unstable system.  Think of a marble in the center of a saddle with a small depression at the point where the cowboy’s tuchus sits.  You can move it an inch or two in one direction and the marble will move back to the low point in the center.  But if you move the marble too far – past the lip of the depression – it will fall to the ground.  We may have just moved the American political system too far in one direction.

So it’s time to hunker down.  America survived Ronald Reagan.  We may even survive the havoc wreaked by George W Bush – that’s too early to determine.  Whether America can survive the takeover of its government by the Tea Party and their corporate sponsors is now our biggest worry.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The GOP Majority

What happens when a party that hates government gains control of the government?  I’m afraid that we’re about to find out.  Political pundits predict that the Tea Party Republican coalition will take control of the House, and the Democratic margin in the Senate will be reduced to a few votes.

First, the Senate.  Even if the split is something like 53-47 in favor of the Democrats, we will really have a Republican-controlled Senate.  Senators like Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln (if she is re-elected), and Joe Lieberman are acolytes of the Republican philosophy, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joe become a Republican if it would solidify his power base.  Even with a near super-majority in the current term, the Senate has become so dysfunctional that it is irrelevant.

So what will happen in the House?  First, with their new-found subpoena power, look for endless expensive investigations of dubious “crimes” such as their witch hunt which brought down ACORN.  There are those who say that the GOP will start impeachment proceedings against Barack Obama, but I don’t think they will.  The public is sick and tired of partisan bickering, and charging the president with spurious “crimes and misdemeanors” and spending millions of dollars on an impeachment proceeding that would never be consummated in the Senate would backfire.  The Republicans may be mean-spirited and in the pocket of Corporate interests, but they are not stupid.  Bill Clinton was impeached during an economic boom.  Proceedings against Obama with today’s problems would not go over well with a public that expects the GOP to solve problems, not create more.  Instead, the Republicans will be happy for numerous small victories that play well with their base.  Their pending control of the House will set the cause of gay rights back a decade.  Unions will be eviscerated, and the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” will increase as the middle class disappears under the Republican economic policies that caused the Great Bush Recession.  More jobs will be sent to China and Vietnam.  The Internet will become another tool of corporate interests as Net Neutrality becomes a thing of the past.  Tea party crazies like Michele Bachman will assume leadership positions as Speaker Boehner welcomes them (and their corporate benefactors) into the fold. Other witch hunts will result from the Republicans' new-found power, and these will be closely coordinated with Fox's reporting for maximum impact.

So what can Democrats and Progressives do?  First, those in power, including the President, need to grow a spine and stand up to the draconian and regressive policies of the GOP.  This needs to be integrated into a much more effective messaging initiative to help the American public get past the GOP cheerleading of the media and start to vote in their own self-interest.  And Democrats need to establish an effective grass-roots organization in all 50 states to start to turn things around in 2012.  This will be more difficult than in 2008 because for the most part, the GOP will control redistricting, voting machines, and much of the media.  But there’s strength in numbers, and if the Democrats start on November 3rd, there’s still time to save the country.

One of the closest and most watched House races in the country is in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District between incumbent Democrat John Adler and ex-footballer Jon Runyan.  Adler won the seat two years ago and is the first Democrat to represent this area since the 1880s.  Runyan is a Chris Christie protégé and buys in to the Tea Party platform on most, but not all, issues.  I’ll be covering this evening’s Adler party on BlueJersey.com and tweeting under the deciminyan account.