In Praise of Mario Cuomo

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Convention keynotes are a funny thing. They are meant to provide a projection, a vision, for the Party, but they often devolve into a laundry list of policies without an overarching theme. Those who are able to convey a theme often reap the rewards. One of those was Mario Cuomo.

Because it was compassionate, because it ensured that a rising tide really did lift all boats, liberalism represented the philosophy of America …

At a time when being liberal wasn’t cool — in the midst of the Reagan revolution — Mario Cuomo showed why liberalism was the only answer. Because it was compassionate, because it ensured that a rising tide really did lift all boats, liberalism represented the philosophy of America; it conveyed the real wishes of the founding fathers during a turbulent time.

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Straw Men and False Equivalency

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There are several debating techniques which detract from the truth instead of illuminating it, and two of the most pernicious involve straw men and false equivalency.

Fox News uses straw men all the time. They bolster Al Sharpton as the point person on racial bigotry and then use his actions on Tawana Brawley and other questionable statements to denigrate the entire movement.

The use of straw men involves finding the most despicable person on the other side of an issue, setting him or her up as an authority and then knocking him down. Fox News uses straw men all the time. They bolster Al Sharpton as the point person on racial bigotry and then use his actions on Tawana Brawley and other questionable statements to denigrate the entire movement.

MSNBC uses Rush Limbaugh in a similar way, except for the fact that unlike Al Sharpton, Limbaugh has real power. And this brings us to the second technique, known as false equivalency.

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Christmas-time Political Discussions

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There will be plenty of discussion around Christmas Dinner this year, and some of it will inevitably concern politics. At this time of year, family is paramount, but you are bound to be confronted by some loudmouth relative who thinks he knows everything about the subject. Here’s some ammunition for my fellow Democrats to consider:

The Republican, go-it-alone approach does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Instead Jesus teaches us to be concerned about our brother.

Jesus is the reason for the season. This trite saying should serve as a lead-in to what Jesus said and did. Did you know he mentions the poor more than heaven and hell? And it just so happens that the poor benefit a lot from an activist government when they are unable to afford healthcare or other basic needs.

The Republican, go-it-alone approach does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Instead Jesus teaches us to be concerned about our brother.

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President Obama, We Barely Knew Ya

 

I still remember the 2008 campaign. The then-Senator Obama’s promise of hope and change. The amazingly large crowds. The ringing refrain from his speech at the Democratic National Convention four years earlier: “There is no red America, there is no blue America. There is only the United States of America.”

The audacity of hope has returned to our President through the climate-change agreement with China, the reform of our immigration system to keep families together, the bold diplomatic move on Cuba …

Other events come to mind. The promise of a new Camelot. The endorsement by Caroline Kennedy of Obama as the fulfillment of her father’s vision.

The only regrets from that time and the only caveats came from Hillary Clinton who warned us about the 3 AM phone call and who presciently said that you need someone tough because the Republicans aren’t playing games. She turned out to be right and who knows how history may have been changed if she had been elected instead.

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A Lame Duck President?

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It seems like President Obama never got the message when told his Presidency would enter lame duck status during his final two years.

The President does not seem to have gotten the message that the Republicans wish to force upon him.

In fact, he seems to be revitalized by freedom from worrying about the election of other Democrats during this period. And the race for 2016 definitely isn’t slowing him down.

Of course, the piece de resistance during his new-found vigor involves his sweeping executive order about immigration, effecting up to five million people who have been living in the shadows until now.

And sweeping environmental regulations are due to take effect soon as well. The agreement with China obligated the United States to begin the arduous process of getting rid of our addiction to oil and gas.

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Republican Civil War

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The Republican Party remains in the midst of a bitter civil war, a conflict that was only partially masked by their successful election results on Tuesday. The war has raged at least since the era of Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, and it remains unabated today.

It seems that the gerrymandered electorate the states have created to carve out safe districts for Republicans have resulted in a demand by that same electorate for conservative purity.

Simply stated, the war revolves around the difference between the give-and-take of politics and governing versus the imperative of ideological purity and standing on principle. It seems that the gerrymandered electorate the states have created to carve out safe districts for Republicans have resulted in a demand by that same electorate for conservative purity.

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Post-Election Spin

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Spinning the meaning of elections may represent a more critical matter than the contests themselves. Because interpreting what elections mean, the intent of the voter, can provide support for many controversial policies even if the voters did not mean to do so.

Democrats, faced with this congratulatory and delusionary barrage of mandates, must stand up to Republican bluster and stand firm on the issues voter do support, including a raise in the minimum wage and policies designed to reduce societal inequalities.

That’s why you see legions of Republican establishment figures congratulating themselves this morning and warning the President to heed the message of the voters. Even if Republican victories were primarily located in deep red states, and the Democrats were at a decided disadvantage, you hear Laura Ingraham and Fox News pundits trumpeting about the mandate to repeal Obamacare — even though the Republicans themselves stopped mentioning the newly popular healthcare program months ago.

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Midterm Turnout Model

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The results of statewide or nationwide elections are becoming increasingly difficult to predict as the metric “most likely voters” has undergone extensive transformations in recent years. Just as Republicans were confident of beating President Obama in 2012 but were foiled by larger than anticipated African American and young people deciding to vote, the results of the battle for the Senate hinge on similar factors.

Yes, traditionally the turnout is much lower in non-Presidential years, but get out the vote (GOTV) efforts have become increasingly sophisticated using complex algorithms potentially transforming the entire field.

Yes, traditionally the turnout is much lower in non-Presidential years, but get out the vote (GOTV) efforts have become increasingly sophisticated using complex algorithms potentially transforming the entire field. And Democrats inevitably benefit from better efforts on the ground, even if the Republicans are able to match their techniques.

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America in Crisis?

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Many reporters, especially conservative commentators, are trying to depict our country as a land in crisis, under a confluence of events ranging from Ebola to ISIS. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What is occurring, however, is a manufactured malaise, drummed up by Republican political considerations and affecting few people directly.

Our economy is in the midst of a strong rebound, with job growth picking up and an unparalleled world dominance. The asymmetric threat of terrorism is just that, asymmetric. The events of 9/11 occurred more than a decade ago, and the isolated incidents ever since have hurt only a handful people and are thoroughly eclipsed by other dangers, including that of being struck by lightning.

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The Status of America

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Republicans are desperately trying to convince the American people about the effect of a series of crises on our nation, spinning a tale about a world gone out of control. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, events have transpired beyond the President’s control in eastern Ukraine and West Africa, but our nation should feel blessed to have such a sane and cautious leader, one who will take measured decisions for the safety of us all. God knows where would be right now if George W. Bush were still President.

And the most important thing for the American people, the economy, is showing robust signs of growth, with the unemployment rate dipping below six percent for the first time in years.

And the most important thing for the American people, the economy, is showing robust signs of growth, with the unemployment rate dipping below six percent for the first time in years. The stock market, despite some recent corrections, has nearly doubled in value, and if companies would relax about the large stockpile of profits they have amassed, we would be doing even better.

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