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Posts Tagged ‘Netroots Nation 2010’

Last July 24th I was in the audience at Netroots Nation when Sen. Harry Reid took Lt. Dan Choi’s West Point ring after Choi asked that he keep it until Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed and the bill was signed into law. Choi, who was honorably discharged from the Army National Guard for being gay first met Reid last year. At the time Reid promised he would repeal the DADT policy. In July Lt. Choi gave Sen. Reid the ring to remind him of that promise, and vowed to hold Reid accountable:

On Saturday the bill passed. I had followed the earlier votes in the Senate that day on C-span, but I wasn’t able to see the final vote. When I finally got the chance to check and see if the bill had passed I used my phone to check Twitter.

Ironically, the first Tweet I saw about DADT was actually this one from Lt. Choi himself:

The bill was expected to pass, so learning that it had wasn’t a surprise. Finding out it had passed this way certainly was, and I can tell you it made me smile.

Sen. Reid made good on his promise and gave Lt. Choi his ring back, and once again Choi took to Twitter in celebration:

Congratulations to Lt. Choi and all those men and women who won another round in a hard-fought victory in the face of unconscionable and indefensible obstruction.

And many thanks to President Obama for another in a long line of accomplishments met and promises kept.

He vowed to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, and yes, he did.

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Speculation rose again yesterday that the White House may soon consider appointing Elizabeth Warren as “interim director” of the new Bureau Of Consumer Financial Protection and avoid the possibility of an ugly Senate confirmation battle. Progressives have longed argued (myself included) in favor of the Administration’s choice of Warren to head the bureau, with many favoring the possibility of a recess appointment, allowing Warren to bypass what would surely become another obstruction tactic by Republicans.

Elizabeth Warren at Netroots Nation 2010

Last week brought another hopeful sign when Warren abruptly canceled classes she was scheduled to teach in the fall at Harvard Law School. With this week’s developments, there may be cause for cautious optimism:

People familiar with the deliberations caution that President Obama has yet to make a final decision on the matter, and it is still plausible that Obama could nominate Warren outright for the job or that he could settle on another candidate. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) has said that any candidate should go through the Senate confirmation process, and he raised questions about whether Warren is “confirmable.”

Dodd has spoken highly of Warren as a choice for the job, only to change his mind later on, in what many see as self-serving to his future interests as a lobbyist in the banking industry. Although he’s raised doubts about Warren, according to yesterday’s New York Times “Mr. Dodd has pledged to support Ms. Warren if she is nominated.”

A White House spokeswoman said Monday:

“Elizabeth Warren has been a stalwart voice for American consumers and families and she was the architect of the idea that became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The president will have more to say about the agency and its mission soon.”

Obama himself had this to say:

“The idea for this agency was Elizabeth Warren’s. She’s a dear friend of mine. She’s somebody I’ve known since I was in law school. And, you know, I have been in conversations with her. She is a tremendous advocate for this idea,” he said during his news conference Friday. “This is a big task, standing up this entire agency. So I’ll have an announcement soon about how we’re going to move forward. And, you know, I think what’s fair to say is, is that I have had conversations with Elizabeth over the course of these — over these last couple of months, but I’m not going to make an official announcement until — until it’s ready.”

In my opinion, Elizabeth Warren is the absolute best choice for the job, and I’m certainly not alone. As I wrote back in August, if there was any doubt in your mind who progressives would choose to be in charge of getting the country out of its financial mess and put the necessary regulations in place to do so, you would have known had you heard her speak at Netroots Nation this past July. That certainly hasn’t changed, and I would argue that the same holds true even more so today.

If you would like to read my earlier post on Warren, you can do so here.

The entire Warren keynote, BUILDING A PROGRESSIVE ECONOMIC VISION from Netroots Nation 2010 can be viewed here.

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Last night watching as the last of the U.S. Combat Troops pulled out of Iraq and crossed into Kuwait brought about mixed feelings. While it was good news that this phase of the war was ending, it gave way to another: those who will remain in Iraq, as well as those who will join them there. Private Contractors.

In order to protect civilians in Iraq, the State Department plans to more than double the amount of private contractors or security guards to as many as 7,000. That may come as a surprise to some, given all we’ve read and heard about the actions of Blackwater, or Xe Services as it’s been renamed, on our behalf over the course of the war.

Jeremy Scahill Netroots Nation 2010

We owe a lot about what we know about Blackwater to Jeremy Scahill, the award-winning journalist and correspondent for The Nation and Democracy Now! and the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. If you’re not familiar with his work, you may want to be.  It’s an eye opener to put it mildly. I began following his work on Blackwater after seeing him on shows like Rachel Maddow and Real Time With Bill Maher over the last few years and had I not seen them I probably wouldn’t have known anywhere near as much about this issue as I do now. But it’s one we all should be aware of.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky Netroots Nation 2010

I also was lucky enough to get the chance to attend a panel at Netroots Nation which featured not only Scahill, but Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-ILL) who has worked with Scahill on the issue of private contractors in Iraq, and serves on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Schakowsky opposed the Iraq war resolution and was a founding member of the Out-of-Iraq Caucus.

As I said, if you’re not familiar with the extent of the involvement of private security contractors, both presently in Iraq as well as other countries, and what their future involvement may entail, you can watch the panel presentation from Netroots Nation: Pay More, Get Less: The Perils Of Privatization. (Along with panelists Scahill and Schakowsky were Jen Nessel, and Kerry Korpi.) You might be surprised to know how we’re represented by these companies, and how much of our money goes towards the privatization of wars on our behalf.

It’s a true eye opener in every sense of the word.

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This week has been a rocky one between progressive Democrats and the White House, with Robert Gibbs’ misguided comments mocking those he called the “professional left” in their frustration over White House policies. Comments which differed somewhat from those made by President Obama himself to progressives last month in an address at Netroots Nation in Las Vegas. While the President said he understood the frustration, his observations were hardly similar to those of Gibbs’ which seemed more suited to the right and Republicans. More astounding, the comments seemed to suggest that the frustration lies only with those Gibbs considers the “professional left,” not with the general public. If that’s true, it’s a staggering point to miss, and one that certainly won’t improve in another upcoming battle: the aftermath of FinReg.

One very popular person in the middle of the financial crisis right now, and also an extremely well received speaker at Netroots Nation last month, is Elizabeth Warren. If there was any doubt in your mind who progressives would choose to be in charge of getting the country out of its financial mess and put the necessary regulations in place to do so, you would have known had you heard her speak there three weeks ago.

Elizabeth Warren at Netroots Nation 2010

Wednesday there were rumors floating around that Elizabeth Warren was about to be nominated or appointed to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Yesterday there was even more speculation when Warren was spotted at the White House. While that may have given hope to many who want President Obama to appoint Warren now and feel she’s the most qualified choice, sadly that wasn’t the reason for her visit.

Warren was at the White House because the Congressional Oversight Panel which she heads released a report that said the $700 billion bank bailout was actually more beneficial to foreign firms than it was for those in the U.S.:

The watchdog cited that the US bailout basically flooded money into as many banks as possible – including international ones – but other nations specifically targeted their rescue efforts towards their own domestic firms that had no US operations. “As a result, it appears likely that America’s financial rescue had a much greater impact internationally than other nations’ programs had on the United States,” the panel said. “This outcome was likely inevitable given the structure of the TARP, but if the US government had gathered more information about which countries’ institutions would most benefit from some of its actions, it might have been able to ask those countries to share the pain of rescue.”

You don’t have to spend much time listening to Ms. Warren to appreciate her knowledge of how we got into the financial crisis, and her ideas of what to do about it going forward. I became aware of that long before seeing her speak at Netroots Nation, and every time I’ve listened to what she has to say I learn something more. One distinct quality she has for someone so knowledgeable is her ability to relate to everyday people, to be able to take a complicated financial concept and whittle it down into something, say a “simple consumer” can understand. She humanizes the numbers, while others would tell us “just trust us” or “sign here, no questions.” (Hmm, where have we heard that one before?) She knows us and where we’re coming from. What a concept, huh?

President Obama used a metaphor a while back that was pretty accurate. So much so that I’ve heard he’s using it again in speeches around the country. I’m sure you’ll recall, it went something like this:

“They were in charge for eight years and they drove the car into a ditch. Now after we’ve been digging our way out, they say they want the keys back. They can’t have the keys back, they don’t know how to drive!”

As far as the financial hurdles ahead of us go (for the “professional left” and otherwise), yesterday when I read: “Elizabeth Warren was seen leaving the White House today.” I thought: “I sure hope they gave her those keys.”

If there’s any hope of steering ourselves away from another financial cliff, President Obama needs to give her the keys. NOW.

Elizabeth Warren knows how to drive.

You can watch Elizabeth Warren’s keynote: BUILDING A PROGRESSIVE ECONOMIC VISION – from Netroots Nation 2010  here.

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Well, the latest move on the proposed ban on oil drilling from the Florida Legislature is just one more illustration of how bad things are politically in the State Of Florida now, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to improve much. At least not while we’re under the control of the Florida wing of the Crazy Uncle Party.

Not until we can vote them out of there.

That being said, I can’t think of a better time to get a refresher course on the next political battle plan, so this Beach Peanut is heading to Netroots Nation in Las Vegas, probably the only place hotter than Tallahassee at the moment, where the sparks are indeed flying.

It’s been a busy summer for my Beach Peanuts “Team,” one of which who is touring colleges, and our quest continues. Because I’ve been on the road quite a bit the last couple months I haven’t had as much time to write as I usually do. Not that there’s a lack of material of course. (Re: Crazy Uncle Party, take a gander at the categories over there on the right of my site and pick a few if you need a reminder. There’s plenty to choose from and in all different degrees of the crazy!) My postings in the next week or so may be lighter than usual as well. However, I will post as often as time and place permit. I’ll be on Twitter as well. I’ll also report back on the happenings with the Netroots. It will be great fun and very interesting and I’m really looking forward to it.

In the meantime, do whatever you can to stay cool, take care, and of course, try your best to steer clear of any stray Republicans you might come across until my next post!

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