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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Wills Point, TX
Home country: USA
Member since: Sat Oct 16, 2004, 02:36 PM
Number of posts: 32,009

About Me

I am a native Georgian who's currently hiding out in Texas. I am a liberal, and I am extremely proud of the imperfect (but evolving) republic that we call the United States of America.

Journal Archives

If not Warren, then whom? If not now, then when?

While I appreciate the wisdom of those who regularly remind us to keep our eyes on the 2014 prize, the fact is that many of us on the left want to see a real liberal elected President in 2016, and we're running out of time to recruit a candidate. It must be done now. The machinery of the campaign needs time to grow, and, with only three years left before the 2016 contest, time is running short.

So, I ask DU: If not Elizabeth Warren, then whom?

We need to nominate a woman. This is almost conventional wisdom, now, in the Democratic Party as Noam Scheiber, the Senior Editor of The New Republic, argues in a recent essay. I also think we greatly improve our chances of winning by running women in this political environment, as I argued here.

So, if we need to nominate a liberal woman, whom should we choose? Who's the third best fundraiser in the Democratic Party? It's Elizabeth Warren, who falls right behind Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Before she was even elected, her fund-raising e-mails would net the party more cash than any Democrat’s besides Obama or Hillary Clinton. According to the Times, Warren’s recent speech at the annual League of Conservation Voters banquet drew the largest crowd in 15 years.


To those of you who proudly and definitively announce that Elizabeth Warren isn't running for President, I ask you this: whom else should we try to recruit? Elizabeth Warren is the best shot we've got to get a liberal in the White House. She's liberal, she's brilliant, she's articulate, and her record is, to my knowledge, spotless. She carries no baggage. Plus, she's an excellent fundraiser.

I would also add that she's a savvy politician, and that she keeps her options open. She may have said she wasn't running, but Barack Obama said that too. Big deal. What Scheiber's essay shows is that she is focused on her policy goals, and she doesn't care how she gets there.

The proper interpretation of Warren’s prodigious p.r. efforts, then, isn’t that she’s especially taken with the idea of media stardom. It’s that she is relentlessly, perhaps ruthlessly, maybe even a bit messianically, focused on advancing her policy agenda. Everything else is merely instrumental.

This is what the banking industry and its Republican allies (as well as internal opponents like Geithner) didn’t fully appreciate when they effectively killed Warren’s hopes of permanently heading the consumer agency in 2011. Anyone who knows Warren will tell you she had no particular ambition to be a senator. She decided that the Senate would suffice as a way to agitate for her issues only when Obama stiffed her for the CFPB job—an enormous disappointment after she spent months lining up support among banks. “It’s poetic justice. At end of the day, if the banking community hadn’t been so apoplectic, everyone could have decided it’s this little tiny agency, who really cares?” says Anita Dunn, Obama’s White House communications director in 2009. “Instead, she ends up as a senior senator from Massachusetts on the banking committee, blocking Larry at the Fed.”


What Scheiber shows is that Warren, if she could be convinced that running for President was the best way to achieve her goals, might just do it.

If not Warren, then whom?

And, if not now, then when?

Now is the time to work on recruiting her (drafting her, if necessary) to run in 2016. We can't afford to wait. While I appreciate the efforts of those who want to see the Democratic Party re-take the House and hold the Senate in 2014 (and I support those goals, obviously), the fact is that Elizabeth Warren has to be thinking about this issue now, and she needs our encouragement in order to put in place all the pieces necessary just to preserve her option to run.

So, I invite all liberal Democrats to write, e-mail, or call the Senior Senator from Massachusetts, and let her know how you feel.

If not Warren, then whom? If not now, then when?

The Honorable Elizabeth Warren
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4543

E-mail her here.

Donate here.


Few people understand employment law.

All of the following is pertinent only to the state of Georgia (where I am licensed to practice law), but it ought to give you some understanding of how employment law works. Please do not take this post as legal advice. I am not your attorney. For specific legal questions, consult an attorney in your jurisdiction.

Can you fire someone for being a Republican? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a Democrat? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a conservative? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a liberal? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a Christian? No. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of religion.
Can you fire someone for being gay? Yes. No federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation although a bill addressing this question is currently before the Senate (or has been passed by the Senate--I am not sure which), but said bill will not pass in the House, and Federal law on this subject is clear, at the moment, that it is completely acceptable to hire or fire employees on the basis of sexual orientation.
Can you fire someone for being straight. Yes, for the reason listed above.
Can you fire someone for being a man? No. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.
Can you fire someone for being a woman? No, for the reason listed above.
Can you fire someone for being nice? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being ugly? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a drug user? Yes.
Can you fire someone because they don't use drugs? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being white (i.e. Caucasian)? No. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of race.
Can you fire someone for having blonde hair? Yes, so long as race is not the true, underlying factor in the employment decision.
Can you fire someone for being a very, very sweet person? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being short? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being tall? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being an Italian? No. Discrimination on the basis of national origin is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Can you fire someone for being a really good worker? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a really bad worker? Yes.
Can you fire someone for having a beautiful smile? Yes.
Can you fire someone for wearing blue jeans? Yes.
Can you fire someone for having a pierced nose? Yes.
Can you fire someone for crying on the job? Yes.
Can you fire someone for having a tan? No. Discrimination on the basis of "color" is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
Can you fire someone for being a witch? Yes.
Can you fire someone for not being a witch? Yes.
Can you fire someone for having a big schlong? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a bigot? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being completely tolerant? Yes.
Can you fire someone for owning a Toyota? Yes.
Can you fire someone for being a racist? Yes.
Can you fire someone for not being a racist? Yes.

Can you fire someone for anything that is not proscribed by Federal law? In many states, yes. In Georgia, at least, this is the case. Some states have expanded the protections available to workers, but in the "right to work" states, minimal Federal protection is all you get.

As you can see by the list above, Federal law prohibits "adverse employment action" only against those who belong to specified, protected classes. At the moment, Federal law says employers are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of age, national origin, sex, religion, color, and race (and this is different from color). That's about it. Otherwise, in the right to work states, employers are free to discriminate on the basis of any other criterion they choose.

Hope many find this useful.


OK, but. What if I don't want a balanced budget by 2015?

Why should I participate in the right-wing two Santa Claus strategy by pushing for a balanced budget only when Democrats control government? Personally, I don't want to play that game. We're in a recession (most of us are, anyway). I think the Federal Government should be spending more, not less. Interest rates are at historic lows, so it's less painful than ever for our government to borrow (and it should continue to do so until interest rates rise significantly).

So, I'm out on the balanced budget B.S. If and when the Republicans ever come back into power, they can worry about balancing the budget on their own time. You'll notice, however, that they never do. They cut taxes, launch expensive wars, and drive the deficit sky high every time they get into power so that Democrats will have to take the electoral punishment for cuts in government services.

No, thank you. I am tired of playing that game.


Bubble mentality.

Seriously, there's a significant portion of this society that is so insulated from reality that they think their cherished and corporate-media-constructed opinions are in sync with the opinions of the majority of Americans. I had serious, intelligent people last year tell me that Romney was going to win in a landslide. They were wrong, obviously, but that was because they live in a media-constructed bubble that insulates them from the truth.

I suspect the woman to whom you refer is merely one of the fully-insulated pawns upon which the political caste depends for its very survival.


Pope Francis on abortion, gays, and contraception (toon).

To quote Frank Herbert from Dune (with a little twist): "Against my better judgment, I like this Pope."


I have to disagree with Mr. Anatol Lieven on one crucial point.

He says:

Victory for either side would mean dreadful massacres and ethnic cleansing, as well as an increased threat of international terrorism.

I don't think that's the case. Certain rebel factions, if they can seize power, have announced their intention to deport Christians and massacre Alawites in aid of their goal of creating a unified Sunni-Muslim state. If the rebels win, Lieven is correct. There would likely be dreadful massacres and ethnic cleansing.

If Assad can manage to quell the uprising and stay in power, massacres and ethnic cleansing are less likely. Heterogenous Syria (Sunni Muslim, Christian, and Alawite) has been sustained by the Assad family for several decades. While it's likely that a victorious Assad would punish his most vocal and belligerent opponents, it is not in Assad's interests to wipe out the majority of the population in Syria who happen to be Sunni Muslims. Mass deportation and genocide are unlikely if Assad wins.

The problem, of course, is that Russia has a near monopoly on the export of natural gas to Western Europe. Assad will not allow the construction of a proposed natural gas pipeline through Syria from northern Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea that would cripple Russia's lucrative monopoly. Our allies in Europe want a rebel victory in order to get the pipeline. Humanitarians want Assad to win to prevent genocide.

This is the dilemma. Cheaper natural gas in Europe vs. lots of lives lost while the NATO allies become Al Quaeda's air force. Our choices are not good, but it is disingenuous to suggest that an Assad victory will lead to genocide. It is the Assad family that has so far prevented genocide in Syria.


Edit:Laelth--word choice.

I hear you.

What I can say in response to your temporary feeling of hopelessness (which I sometimes share) is that every Republic in the history of the planet has been an oligarchy. As a liberal, I am a supporter of both oligarchy and capitalism, but what I want is a sane, well-regulated capitalism that shares its benefits broadly across all segments of our society. Oligarchy is not necessarily evil. We have to convince our oligarchs to share the wealth (because, as we know, it's in their own best interests to do so).

Just in case you wanted to do some light reading:

The Roman Republic
The Republic of Venice (the longest-lasting republic in the planet's history)
The Republic of Ragusa (a very cool little republic that lasted for over 500 years and was an early ally of the fledgling United States)

These are all oligarchies. Take a look at this picture and tell me we're not looking at a good number of our nation's early oligarchs:

We may not like oligarchy, in principle, but we may be fooling ourselves if we believe that the U.S. hasn't always been one. And every oligarchy, it seems, wants an empire.


NSA Chief General Kieth Alexander and "The Secret War"

This is just a hot link to a thread posted by unhappycamper in DU's Veterans forum where an important essay appears to have gotten very little attention. I think this Wired article is quite significant, and I invite you all to consider it and its implications carefully.

Here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/11794015

The original Wired article can be found here: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/06/general-keith-alexander-cyberwar/


Why the Snowden Leak Is Such a Big Deal

First off, the Constitution is important. Even the President said he "welcomed" this discussion, though one wonders how seriously the President meant it. The smears against Snowden have already begun, and the DOJ has already launched a criminal probe targeting Snowden. Ultimately, I think this is a great discussion to have, and it is well-timed to minimize the damage that it might do to either Obama or the Democratic Party (after Obama's re-election, after his expected honeymoon period, and yet 17 months before the mid-term elections). I think Snowden and Greenwald timed this release very carefully and prudently. That said, the 4th Amendment matters to many, many Americans, and it's good to have this discussion.

Second, and more importantly, I don't think we have grasped, yet, the implications of the information Snowden released. So far, most of the discussion I have seen centers on whether the NSA's data-collection activities violate the rights of Americans. But what about the rights of the rest of the people in the world? What's most embarrassing, here, is that Snowden and Greenwald have just announced, to the entire world, that the U.S. has the capability (and assumes it has the right) to capture and record not only meta-data from phone calls but all digital information (from any source) that passes through internet servers in the United States. What's more, 4th Amendment protections do not apply to non-citizens, so the world now knows that we are recording all data that comes into the country (via phone or internet) and we reserve the right to look at any or all of it, for any reason, at any time, without any real oversight. Even if there is some kind of judicial or Congressional oversight, certainly foreign governments have no oversight capability in regards to this data.

This, I think, is enormous. I suspect our allies already knew about the program. We probably told them, but just because allied governments were advised, that does not mean that their citizens knew anything about it. Now they do. I have no idea what will happen as a result, but I think this is a very, very delicate time for the United States and for the world.

Just food for thought.


Justice Department questions nix July elections (Bibb County, Georgia)

A rare victory for Georgia Democrats!

You may recall that, a few weeks ago, I posted a letter I had written to the Justice Department asking for review of changes to local election laws pursuant to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That thread can be found here:


The Justice Department responded to our complaints by denying pre-clearance for non-partisan, July elections (that favor Republicans) here in Bibb County, Georgia. Needless to say, I wasn't the only one complaining. Many Democrats wrote letters and made phone calls. Thanks to all DU members who responded to our plea for assistance!

An article on the subject appeared in today's Telegraph (our local paper), as follows:

The Department of Justice has effectively scuttled plans for July’s Macon-Bibb County government election.

County Attorney Virgil Adams said he’d gotten a letter Tuesday from the federal agency, which said it needs more information to consider giving its stamp of approval to elections for the new government. The agency is also seeking more information on proposed changes in school board elections.

... snip ...

The Justice Department had been expected to rule on the changes by June 3. The agency said legislators wrote bills to force the nonpartisan elections despite protests.

“Concerns have been raised that these changes will result in a retrogression in the ability of minority voters to participate in the electoral process and elect candidates of their choice and were undertaken by the local delegation despite concerns expressed by members of the affected elected bodies, including comments that the changes were proposed, at least in part, for racial reasons,” wrote T. Christian Herren Jr., chief of the voting section, in a letter dated Friday.

http://www.macon.com/2013/05/28/2495999/federal-government-delays-macon.html#storylink=cpy (paid subscription may be required)

Personally, I am quite pleased. It's good to have Democrats running the Justice Department. Thanks, again, to all who aided us in our latest fight for justice.

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