Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “progressive”

Will Obama Walk the Walk? – Tom Rossi

In now two-term President Obama’s inauguration speech today, he certainly “talked the talk” of a progressive, but will he “walk the walk?”

In some ways, he certainly already has. He ended “don’t ask, don’t tell,” he came out in support of marriage rights for all, he appointed two women to the Supreme Court, he finally ended the war in Iraq, and a few other things.

But President Obama has been quite conservative on some big issues. He’s, if anything, increased the country’s war activities, used pilotless drones to assassinate people from the sky, increased spying activities on our own citizens, raided state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries, deported many more aliens than Bush, refused to even consider meaningful legal action against the robber barons that screwed the middle class and our whole economy, and kept merrily in place the same economic voodoo shamans that President Bush had… the same people who enabled the robber barons in the first place.


And all this while supposedly being a communist. Wow!


What I can’t help but wonder is, if Obama is a progressive, why has he hidden it so well, during his first term? I know the conventional thinking – he had to stay near the so-called “center” (which is far to the right of the center, even 15 years ago) in order to have a good shot at re-election. But why? What if he hadn’t been re-elected? Then we would have gone from center-right to far-right… and that means that every one of us except the 1% would have lost.

In addition, Obama now has just four years to accomplish anything, and most of the efforts and attention will be on what should properly be called “gun-mass-murder control” (not “gun control”). We have seen not one hint of consideration, by Obama, to the fact that our present economic pathway is still the same one that led to the current depression.

And it is a depression. Recessions are, by definition, short-term blips – speed bumps, really, in the path of our economic progress. Depressions mean long-term unemployment and long-term troughs in things like the housing market. We’ve had millions of people unemployed for a period of more than a year. That’s a depression.

We need a fundamental realignment of our capitalism away from concentrated profits and diffuse risks to stability and full employment. This is not “wanting ‘stuff’ from the government,” it’s wanting the government to stop working against the people. We’ve heard lots of talk about helping the middle class. Let’s see some real action.

Will the real Obama please stand up?

-Tom Rossi


Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.


Obama – Socialist? Or Conservative? – Tom Rossi

By my estimation, Barrack Obama is the second most conservative American president, at least since WWII. You could say he’s tied for second with Bill Clinton, both following George W. Bush, but leading the conservative icon, Ronald Reagan, by a longshot.

Republicans have seized on President Obama’s three-legged horse of a health program and the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” to label him as a liberal or even a “socialist.” And the idea that Americans actually deserve access to decent health care even if they aren’t too well off, financially, is certainly a radical one. I can easily see why Tea partiers compare Obama to Hitler (why isn’t there a text treatment, along the lines of underlining or italicizing, to denote sarcasm?).

Obama went along with the bank bailout. He has nixed any prosecution of the corporate criminals in the banking and finance industries whose fraudulent con-artistry landed us in this economy. He has pushed “NAFTA on Steroids,” also know as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He’s increased the secrecy of the government. He’s visciously persecuted “whistle-blowers.” He’s deported many thousands of immigrants. He has renewed the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy. His economic policies are clearly designed to put the train back on the tracks that lead over a cliff – the same tracks George W. Bush and Bill Clinton had us on.

And when it comes to war… where do I start? He “ended” (sort of) the war in Iraq, while greatly stepping up the war in Afghanistan. He has employed the use of drone aircraft, basically to assassinate our enemies, along with anyone who happened to be standing around in the vicinity. All while curtailing attempts to get our war on the environment under control. He’s also allowed more oil drilling than ever in our history, allowed the insane patent-mania to continue and get worse, and allowed completely reckless genetic engineering to go even further. 

Liberal? Socialist??? Ha! This is why (and I’ve said this before) I’m voting for Dennis Kucinich. Or maybe Elizabeth Warren. Or maybe Bernie Sanders. Someone who actually wants to bring about some sense of balance to this country and not simply to let money determine our fate – as a nation and for every individual.

When I tell people of my little scheme, the reaction is often uproar, indignation, or disdain. “Think of what will happen if Mitt Romney is elected!” They say. “Think of how much worse things will be – for economics, for the environment, for women, for minorities…” To all of you who say these things to me, you… are right. The next four years would be even worse if Romney becomes president. And the effects could go on much longer.

Obama is clearly the lesser of two evils. It’s really a matter of how fast do you want to drive to hell? So am I giving up and saying, “Let’s just hurry up and get there?” No.

The time has come for drastic action. No, I’m not talking about any kind of violence. I’m saying that we need to convince the Democratic party that, if they keep just towing the corporate line (just a little less that the Republicans) then they will lose. If they continue to leave those of us who see a little further into the future, who actually care about the health and well-being of our grandchildren (or other people’s grandchildren), and who can actually imagine a world where war doesn’t take so many lives and take up so many resources completely unrepresented, they will lose.

There is little or no hope for a third party that will change things. The democrats need to know, beyond any doubt, that they lost by neglecting a huge part of their base. The Republicans and thinly-disguised Republicans, who go by various code names, will always stop their whining and unite. We’ve heard, over and over, about how disatisfied some Republicans and all Tea partiers are with Mitt Romney. But every single one of these people will still vote for him.

We need to stop voting for second-worst. We need for the Democrats to have the guts to say, “We want less war, more human well-being, and more justice. And if that makes us “liberals,” then we will live with it.”

These are the principles that liberals stand for. Not equal outcomes. Not rewarding laziness. Not government takeover. Those are all idiotic labels that the other side finds useful.

I want President Obama to come very close to losing because people voted for true progressives. If he actually loses, that’s fine. We must be willing to sacrifice four years for our long term future.

-Tom Rossi


Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.


A Little Good News – Roger Ingalls

Every few years I hear this song by Anne Murray and it makes me realize what’s happening today isn’t any different than what was going on years before. All the madness we see and hear about the bad economy, middle-east fighting and third-world killings were also troubling us ten, twenty or more years ago. Here are the lyrics to the song written in 1983.

I rolled out this morning
Kids had the mornin’ news show on
Bryant Gumbel was talkin’ ’bout the fighting in Lebanon
Some senator was squawkin’ ’bout the bad economy
It’s gonna get worse you see, we need a change in policy
There’s a local paper rolled up in a rubber band
One more sad story’s one more than I can stand
Just once how I’d like to see the headline say
“Not much to print today, can’t find nothin’ bad to say”, because
Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD’ed, nobody burned a single buildin’ down
Nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today
I’ll come home this evenin’
I’ll bet that the news will be the same
Somebody takes a hostage, somebody steals a plane
How I wanna hear the anchor man talk about a county fair
And how we cleaned up the air, how everybody learned to care
Whoa, tell me
Nobody was assassinated in the whole Third World today
And in the streets of Ireland, all the children had to do was play
And everybody loves everybody in the good old USA
We sure could use a little good news today

It’s amazing! Thirty years later and nothing has changed. My first thought when I heard this song again three days ago was, “man…this is pathetic, we hope, push and fight to make the world a better place and we get nowhere…how depressing”. I take a deep breath, think a little more and try to tell myself that this lack of progress is OK by saying, “most of us are still alive and getting by, maybe this is how it’s meant to be…it’s just the circle of life repeating itself”.

But here’s the problem; I want a little good news (the song), if not today then tomorrow. I want an evolving humanity. Why can’t we have world peace, clean air, healthy free people and children playing without fear?

Think positive, be progressive.

Is Republican Freedom Our Freedom?

A recent comment to one of my posts reminded me of one of the key differences between progressives and conservatives (or at least Republican conservatives) – freedom. Why is this a big difference? Does one side favor freedom while the other opposes it? Well, that’s what you might think, listening to Republicans talk.

With their words, both spoken and printed, Republicans often make the claim that their party is for “more freedom” while their opponents want “less freedom.”

But what types of freedom are favored by whom? Are all freedoms equal?

Republicans appear to be overwhelmingly in favor of one freedom, the freedom to make money without any encumbrance. So what if my factory pollutes the air? We have LOTS of air! So what if my restaurant chain serves slightly tainted meat? If people don’t like it, they won’t eat it!

The Republican Party is on a mission. It’s a mission with a cool, secret code name and everything: streamlining. They want to get those pesky regulations out of the way of corporate profits. They want “the market” to decide everything.

Meanwhile, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is trying to make it so that women have control over their own bodies. Even if that means having sex… uh oh… here it comes… hide the children… just for fun and not for the express purpose of bringing a child into the world.

Progressives want weird people like gays and blacks and organic food eaters to be treated like the human beings that they are so closely related to. They want people to be free to marry whoever they choose. They want people to be able to walk down the street without fear of being abused for having the wrong paint job. They want us to be able to live free of concerns of getting asthma from someone else’s profit-making coal burning. They want free speech to be a right of human beings, not corporations.

Republicans are strategically astute, though. They always say that things like streamlining are for the benefit of small businesses. And a small machine shop would become more profitable if it could just wash solvents down the drain. But Republican policies free up corporations so that they can eat small businesses for lunch. Look at what Wal-Mart has done to so-called “main street.”

It basically comes down to a simple choice: corporate freedom or people freedom. Seems easy to me.

-Tom Rossi


Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.


Obama Must Lose – Part II – Tom Rossi

After last week’s post, Obama Must Lose… to a Progressive, some friends asked questions that made me realize that I need to make my strategy a little more clear.

As with any presidential election, the Republicans’ main goal is to create apathy and lethargy among Democratic voters so that they stay home and don’t bother to vote. If this happens, the Democrats will lose – and accomplish nothing in the process. This is why we need huge numbers of Progressive voters to hit the polls – and vote for Dennis Kucinich. And if Kucinich is not on the ballot, write in his name. That way, it will be clear just WHY Obama loses: he abandoned his base.

Now I truly believe that Barrack Obama is a very good man. But it’s clear that he has been seduced and coopted by the dominant economic paradigm of our time. The economic con-men that have created this domination can be very convincing. They talk in country-like aphorisms and say brilliant things like, “Don’t buy a pig in a polk.” Who could argue with that?

President Obama is an intelligent and educated man, but his education has been halted by the blaring sirens of economic darwinism. The same was true of Bill Clinton – by many arguments a more conservative president than Ronald Reagan.

There are three general outcomes possible in the 2012 presidential election. The first possibility is that Obama wins a second term, which will mean that our country continues along the scenic route toward hell. The second is that disenchanted Democrats stay home and Obama loses to a Republican – our journey toward hell is slightly accelerated, followed by another swing of the pendulum four years later to put us back on the scenic route.

The third possibility, the one I am advocating, is that Obama loses because Democrats and non-Democrat Progressives showed up at the polls and took the presidency away by voting for Kucinich. This way, when the pendulum swings back (and it will, as unemployment will be even worse and millions more will have been foreclosed upon), it will swing HARD.

Finally, Progressives will have a voice in national politics. Finally, the “flavors” of capitalism will be open for discussion. Capitalism should not be abandoned, but the flavor we have now tastes like liver – rotten liver.

So, if you can see my logic, don’t try to convince Obama supporters not to vote for him but convince the disenchanted – those who would stay home – that they need to get out and vote in 2012. They need to get out and make their vote count. Vote “People Before Profits!” Make our voices heard.

-Tom Rossi


Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com


Obama Must Lose… to a Progressive

I’ve been “masterdebating” (debating with myself) on this one for several months, but it has to be said… it has to be done. President Obama has to lose – to a real progressive. I don’t mean just lose the primary – but lose California in 2012 and thereby lose the general presidential election.

Blasphemy! If that were to happen, the Republican candidate would win the national election and we would have a Republican president! Yes, I say with head hung low, that is exactly what needs to happen.

Wow. Has Rossi finally really lost it? What kind of craziness is this? I’ll tell you what kind of craziness: it’s a “queen sacrifice.” In the game of chess, a player sometimes has the opportunity to set up this bait-trap-kill strategy. The idea is to sacrifice (allow the other player to capture) the queen, the most powerful weapon on the board, and through this sacrifice, weaken the other player’s positioning and move in for the win: checkmate.

But the reasons for this go way beyond strategy. It’s true that the Republicans, and certainly the Tea Party, want to put the U.S. on a direct path into economic and social hell. They want unfettered corporate control, while the government only serves to control our behavior, words, and even thoughts, while ostensibly protecting us from outside threats. As opposed to the shortest route, President Obama has us on the scenic route to hell. He’s delayed, diverted, and shown us some dying flowers and falling trees along the way, but we are most certainly headed toward the same end.

Why? Because President Obama, while being accused of socialism and worse, has led our economy in the same-ol’ neoclassical direction. The same direction that got us into the current incarnation of a long-term, structural disaster. Obama has done everything to put a band-aid on the economy that got us here – the economy of doom. He’s done everything to build it back up, to make this jalopy run so it can take us off that cliff that was apparently the goal.

And I think it should be obvious by now to almost anyone that as the economy goes, so go the rights of the working class. The “bad” economy (really it’s great – if you’re already a billionaire) has been used as an excuse to make pensions disappear, to take health-care away from workers, to force us to accept lower pay and longer hours.

But my point is that what we have been calling a “good” economy is really not so good. Our “free market” economy (let me be the first to say that a free market not only does not exist, but CANNOT exist) is basically designed to suck money toward the top and out of the rest of us. In addition, the needs of our grow, grow, grow economy have justified our continued destruction of our planet and its resources – both its sources and sinks. Not only will this make life very difficult for coming generations, it’s already having a strong effect.

For all these reasons, we must abandon false hope. We also must accept that, in order to weaken the grip of conservative marketing double-speak, things have to get worse before they have any chance of getting better. The only way I can see forward is for the Republicans to really take over, and drive us off that cliff. Then and only then will the deluded masses see the truth. When unemployment hits 30, 35, or even 40%, people will start to see. When all pensions are gone, released in corporate bankruptcies, the people will start to see. When the brown skies of the seventies and eighties return, the people will start to see.

Besides, I’m really starting to think the Republicans WANT to lose in 2012. I’m not saying that Republican voters want to lose, but the strategists at the center of the party do. They know that the economy is going to get worse and worse (for most of us, anyway) and they want to be able to blame a Democratic president.

So who then? Who should we vote for to send a strong statement that we want a real progressive? Dennis Kucinich.

While he’s no perfect superhero, Kucinich is the one true nationally recognized progressive.

So how is this different from what happened with Ralph Nader in 2000? That certainly didn’t have a good result, did it? First of all, that election was different. The lines weren’t so clearly drawn between Al Gore and George Bush. Many accused them of sounding too alike. And Nader (as the candidate for the Green Party) was only a third uncharismatic candidate in the race.

At the time, the Green Party had told its members that Democrats and Republicans were essentially the same. That didn’t ring true in most people’s ears at the time. Now, we have seen President Obama seduced by our nation’s “leading” economists – convinced that free-market, free-trade growth is the answer. It now seems that the Green Party is right. They turned out to have been wrong in 2000, but they’re right now. While Obama and the Republican candidates trade barbs and insults, we are floating (precariously) on two different streams, but emptying into the same ocean.

I know Obama has tried, a handful of times, to do some actual good, as with health-care, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is under the spell of an economics that has proven itself a failure.

Let me be clear, Dennis Kucinich absolutely will not win the presidential election of 2012. But if Kucinich were to grab enough of the vote in California and maybe a few other states, Obama would lose, and it would be clear and obvious that he had lost because he had coddled the illusory “swing voters” that everyone believes are slightly right of center.

So, assuming he won’t appear on the final ballot, write in Dennis Kucinich. This would mean that the Democrats would HAVE to start paying attention to progressives. I want a Democratic candidate to run on the slogan: “People before profits.” And then I want that candidate to keep that promise.

-Tom Rossi


Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com


Republican Debt Mantra: Build It Cuz They B Dumm


Tune into the news via the TV, radio or computer and all we hear is noise about the escalating national debt. We’ll hear the well-oiled Republican machine blaming President Obama and the Democrats for reckless spending. The conservative-speak by these silver-tongued devils is so finely tuned it makes Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address seem no more complex than a nursery rhyme.

I’m in awe of these self-proclaimed “Christian-valued” politicians that shift their guilt on to the innocent with such ease as if they were channeling Lucifer himself. I suppose this “self-proclaiming” is part of the facade. But how do they do it?  How do they sleep at night and how do they live in their own skin without wanting to crawl out of it? It’s creepy.

Michele Bachmann, US House Rep., MN, Republican

(click picure for scary surprise)

Surprisingly, this simple yet deceptive campaign actually works. Most Americans believe Democrats are the big spenders.

While at dinner with a friend this past weekend, we stumbled upon the subject of our national debt. He mentioned his amazement at the Democrats’ continued quest to add more to the huge debt they’ve already created—I almost choked. Wait, did I hear that right? Did this man, intelligent in many forms, actually say, “the huge debt the Democrats have created?”  Holy frickin’ crap, Batman, even he’s been brainwashed!

I knew, right then and there, something had to be done. These twisted words must be ripped from the devil’s mouth—torn out by its roots.  Many are trying to stop the Republican rewriting of history and I, too, must do my part.

Let’s keep it simple, let’s think like cavemen. Pictures, they’re worth a thousand words. These charts say it all (click image for larger view):

It doesn’t get any more obvious than this. As the charts show, Republicans historically increase spending and the national debt while the Democrats decrease them. The numbers don’t lie.

The purpose of this post is not to solely put the debt blame back on the shoulders of Republicans where it rightly belongs. It is also intended to highlight the importance of searching for truth. Don’t be led blindly by today’s politicians, they are salesmen for Corporate America—especially Republicans.

Whether you’re progressive or conservative, it should be vividly clear that we need revolutionary change within our political system. If a politician can tell a boldfaced lie without so much as a slap on the wrist, something is wrong.

-Roger Ingalls


Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

The Orange: A Woman’s Issue

Last night millions of Jews and their friends sat around the Passover Seder table. At the center of the table is a Seder plate. Jewish tradition is very particular about what one puts on the plate

However, Judaism has survived (I know there are many who I’m about to annoy) because even our traditions have evolved. In the 1980’s, a certain famous Israeli Orthodox rabbi was asked what he thought of women becoming rabbis. His response was that there was as much chance of this happening as an orange appearing on a Passover Seder plate.

An Orange on the Seder Plate

Since then, the orange has become a symbol of woman’s rights and equality within the progressive Jewish religion. The rabbi of my congregation is a woman and I work in an organization that embraces women rabbis, many of whom serve as role models and sources of inspiration for me.

The orange has made our world a richer place…and don’t get me started on the benefits of Vitamin C!


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Does George Will have Glen Beck Envy?

George Will must think he’s losing readership share to Glen Beck. He has evidently decided that he needs to go deeper into conspiracy-theory-land to try to win his readers back. In his column in the March 7, 2011 issue of Newsweek titled, “High Speed to Insolvency: Why Liberals Love Trains”, George says, “…progressivism’s aim is the modification of other people’s behavior.” and “the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.” Wow.

Part of me wants to say, “Oh my gosh! George Will has found us out! We progressives will have to look up from our evil plans and think of a way to go deeper undercover while pretending to care about the future of the human race as a cover up!” But of course, sarcasm lands like a belly flop on the ears of a man who uses “word-of-the-day” toilet paper.

So, George (aka Pokey), let me see if I can help you out with a couple of things while keeping this on a level that you and your pal Gumby can understand. There are two types of individualism in America – real and fake. Progressives want real freedom and real individualism, while laissez-faire capitalists want fake. Real individualism is in thought, expression, love, and other highfalutin’ concepts like these. Fake individualism is whether you drive a Chevy or a Volkswagen, whether you like the Steelers or the Packers, or whether you watch Friends or Desperate Housewives on T.V. These are individual choices, it’s true, but they represent individuality only at the most superficial level.

The freedom your kind wants is the freedom to dominate: the freedom to take full advantage of the fact that your great-grandfather bought stock in Standard Oil way back when or maybe the Union Pacific Railroad, whereas my grandfather came over from Italy, just before World War I, without a dollar in his pocket.

Progressives want the next generation and those that follow to have the luxury of individualism as well – not to be chained to a desk for sixty hours a week nor to be afraid to go outside because the air could kill a person. You see, George, individualism is closely related to freedom, and real freedom can be curtailed by fake freedom. Your freedom to make selfish, childish decisions like driving a giant SUV to the video store that’s 1/8 of a mile away on a sunny but pleasantly cool day interferes with your own grandchildren’s freedom to breathe outside without coughing.

All that being said, I actually don’t like the high-speed rail plan either – but for sensible reasons – no conspiracies necessary. High-speed rail is not an urgent need in our society as it does not solve any current problems. What’s needed is a lot more and a lot better LOCAL public transportation. And, contrary to George Will’s Beckish rantings, this will mean MORE choices open to individuals, not less. George, like-minded pseudo-intellectuals, and overgrown children in general will still be free to pay 4, 5, or maybe even 10 dollars per gallon for gasoline, but those who would choose otherwise and would choose to try to provide a livable (and enjoyable) world for their grandkids will be able to do so.

Every day, individuals make choices between short-term and long-term preferences. Those of us who are blessed with common sense (most of America, I hope) make sacrifices today so that we may live longer, provide for our children, have some hope of future financial security. For example, most fathers might really like to buy a brand new Corvette but realize that, if they do so, their kids may not get to go to college or might not even have shoes to wear next month. As a society, we would do well to follow a similar program. Invest in things like public transportation now – suffer less from high gas prices, deteriorating roads, productivity-killing traffic, and the effects of pollution later. Trains get MORE efficient the more people use them. Can the same be said of cars? So maybe George is right. Progressives do want to change other people’s behavior – we want them to act like responsible adults who can see further ahead than their next purchase at the department store.

You see, George, it’s like this: Your freedom to spit on someone is in direct conflict with that person’s freedom and right not to be spat upon. I conclude from this that freedoms should be prioritized. For example, I fully support, without hesitation, your freedom to write ridiculous nonsense and to publish it as you are able. As is often said, in America, you have the right to be wrong. I believe this because I realize that my individual preference not to hear the blather of a mentally and morally deficient snob pales in comparison to my preference to live in a society that values and protects free speech. Likewise, I prefer to live in a world where my tiny nieces and nephews have a good chance at a healthy, secure future over a world where my own generation indulges consumptive gluttony.

Tom Rossi


Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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