Friday, January 31, 2014

This Land Was Made For You And Me

And, thankfully, for him.  R.I.P., Mr. Seeger.  Proof that the good don't always die young.  And that the best patriots carry a guitar instead of a gun.

Why You Should Always Get Out And Push, No Matter What The Polls Tell You

Because you never know what you might end up achieving.  Sometimes, you end up getting paid sick leave.

Why Mitch McConnell Should Not Be Trusted With Public Office

Or anything else, for that matter.  If you can vote to send someone to war, and then have the colossal gall to say something like this, you shouldn't be trusted with the care of a washroom.

You've proved, Senator, that you've controlled his life and many others.  And you've proved that nothing but ambition controls you.

Liberal Politics Are Successful As Well As Good

And here are two charts to prove it.

One More Reason To Doubt A Republican Senate Takeover

Actually, two more reasons.  And their names are John Warner and Richard Lugar.  Well done, gentlemen.

When Can You REALLY Tell Obamacare Is Going To Be A Success?

When the Republicans foolishly attempt to co-op it, and fail.

And when the public trusts the Democrats on the issue, instead of the GOP.

Sooner Or Later, "Someone Else" Is Always You And Me

I just perused the House Republicans' long-awaited "statement of principles" about immigration.  As I (and most immigrant advocates) expected, it's a mixed bag at best.  The good news is that there is now clearly a bipartisan consensus for enacting the provisions of the DREAM Act; that wasn't the case as recently as December of 2010, when Congress made the most recent attempt to pass the Act.  The middling news is that the GOP is, for the most part, willing to offer legal status to the millions of non-DREAM undocumented immigrants, but not citizenship.  This particular "principle" seems to have already unleashed a debate among immigrant advocates that will not be particularly helpful.  Some feel that President Obama and the Democrats should just accept it and move on, while others (rightly) point out that it would effectively create people without a country.  My take:  accept it, and file lawsuits challenging its constitutionality.  In the meantime, the undocumented can get their green cards and finally get on with their lives.

However, now I come to the really, truly awful bad news that should be scaring everyone.  That would be the "principles" requiring a biometric exit-entry system and electronic verification of work authorization for all employees.

Frankly, in light of all of the concerns that have been raised about the NSA, drones, and other forms of government "snoopervising" of Americans, it astonishes me that Republicans can propose those particular "principals" with a straight political face.  I am assuming that the argument to be made in their favor is that this will only affect immigrants, and not "real Americans," meaning that so-called "real Americans" need not worry about this expansion of snoopervising.

Excuse me, but wasn't this the rationale used to help enact the PATRIOT Act, the single most anti-civil libertarian law in modern times?  It wouldn't apply to good, honest, hardworking Americans.  Only to those nasty, evildoing terrorists who can be anywhere and everywhere.  Which, in turn, has meant that it has been applied to good, honest, hardworking Americans.  Because you just never know, right?  This is why the PATRIOT Act is the Bill of Rights version of burning the village in order to save it.

And that is why it's also important to keep in mind something else Republicans supposedly favor:  the rule of law.  That, after all, is the rationale behind their enforcement-heavy approach to the whole issue.  Everyone must be treated the same under the law.  Which, in turn, means that once you allow warrantless electronic invasions of the privacy of travelers and employers, the requirement that everyone must be treated the same will mean even more warrantless invasions of everyone's privacy.  Because you just never know who could be harboring the last undocumented person in the U.S..  It could be a housekeeper, or a gardener, or a teacher, or a police officer, or even your roommate or spouse.  Right?  Doesn't that make sense?  There will now be a ten-second pause, to give you a chance to roll your eyes.

I am convinced that these "principles" are in fact the proverbial camel's nose under the tent when it comes to the police state some members of the Republican Party would like to create.  They're more than willing to go a little easy on 11 million, if it provides a path to greater control over all 300 million plus of us.  To them, this is not about immigration.  It is first and foremost about control--by them, over the rest of us.

Whether the issue is immigration, or anything else, and whether the advocate is a Republican or anything else, beware the argument that a questionable law or restriction will never be applied to you.  History is replete with examples of how "someone else" sooner or later becomes you and me.  There are ways to enforce our immigration laws that do not involve plugging all of us into the Matrix.  And if we want to continue to be not only a nation of immigrants, but also a free people, we'd better start rallying around those ways, and be wary of wolves in the clothing of "principles."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why It's Not All Obama's Fault

Because the world he inherited from 30-plus years of failed Republican economics is still the world in which we live.  This is true despite the stimulus.  Despite the ACA.  Despite Dodd-Frank.  And despite the partial end of the Senate filibuster as a partisan weapon.  I can think of no better illustration of this truth than this surprising and somewhat inspirational opinion piece from The New York Times.

What interested me the most about Sam Polk's confessional is that he admits to the concept of wealth addiction--and to the related principal that wealth addiction is not about material needs, but about a need for power.  Unfortunately, in a post-Citizens United world, the floodgates have been opened for cash from the 1% to buy the rest of us.  Or, if not the rest of us, the government that is supposed to protect and support all of us.  How successfully this has been done can be seen in the House of Representatives, with its gerrymandered majority standing in the way of proposals that people overwhelmingly support, such as immigration reform and action against global warming.

Reaganomics was supposed to put the majority of our money in the hands of those who already had the lion's share of it, the latter fact supposedly serving as Puritan-style proof that they were the only ones virtuous enough to handle it "wisely."  Of course, it was always marketed under the mantra of taking money away from bureaucrats and giving it back to "the people."  But that never included all of the people, nor was it ever meant to do so.  Survey after survey shows that the past three decades have been a period in which money was systematically transferred from the majority of Americans to the minority at the top.

But what also interested me about Mr. Polk's piece is that he was honest about how wealth failed to fulfill him mentally and emotionally.  He began to see that life wasn't simply about having the most toys, or the biggest bonus or bank account.  He began to want a connection to the larger society around him, and to be involved in some meaningful way in making it better, even if doing so didn't make him richer.  One wonders how many of his former colleagues share those feelings, but not the courage to give voice to them.

Self-interest.  Those are funny words, in a way.  As Bill Clinton might put it, it all depends on what your definition of "self" is.  Can we really pretend to be masters of all of our circumstances?  As Elizabeth Warren pointed out., someone else built the roads we use, educate the people we hire, protect all of us from day-to-day dangers we don't often see.  Like it or not--and I admit to liking it--all of us depend on the rest of us at some point.  Every business needs customers and service providers--who, in turn, need businesses to employ them.  And the wealth that results from all of this is a joint enterprise no matter how you define "self."  Adam Smith, after all, wrote about the wealth of nations, not about the wealth of selves.  Even he understood that government had an active role in making wealth happen.  Doubt me?  Then stop talking about Adam Smith and start reading him.

I wish Mr. Polk well in his new life, especially with his new non-profit.  I hope and pray that he is joined soon by many of his former fellow-travellers.  It is the only way we can begin to make our system of government work for all of us again, long after Obama has left office.

When Public Transit Could Be Beautiful

Back when we didn't trample on the common good every five seconds for the sake of sating our insatiable egos, it was possible to think of public services as an area in which the transcendental, and even the beautiful, aspects of life could be celebrated.  Imagine New York--for that matter, every major city in the country--with a public rail system where every entrance looked like this, and nobody whined about how much it cost, because it provided a benefit for everyone that went beyond the issue of getting from point A to point B.

Could we ever get to such an imaginary world?  I doubt it.  Could we at least get back to the point where we aspire to such a world.  Probably not in my lifetime.  But, for the sake of my grandchildren, I hope that their world can get to such a point, and perhaps surpass it.

The Problems Of Global Warming Have No Boundaries

If global warming did nothing more than raise the problems of the Arab world to catastrophic levels, as Thomas Friedman describes here, that would be more than enough to make it a subject of international concern.

Call it a hoax at your peril--and everyone's.

Because The State Should Help The Poor As A Matter Of Justice

Even John Kasich gets it.  And he should, especially if he's read Proverbs 31.  The 10th through the final verse describes the virtuous woman, but take a look at what the first nine verses describe.

Unconditional Cash For The Poor Works!

And the Cherokee have proven it.  Take a look.

And This One Under The Heading "From Your Mouth To God's Ears"

I'm talking about you, Salon.  Could the Tea Party destroy the GOP this year?  One can only hope.

I Guess I Have To Put This One Under The Heading "Better Late Than Never"

I hope you mean it, Glenn Beck.  I really do.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Pedagogical Equivalent Of Child Abuse

A note of full disclosure at the outset:  My late father, who taught political science at Johns Hopkins University, was also part of a government committee that successfully promoted an expansion of public higher education in Maryland.  That was just one of many ways in which he devoted his life to the promotion of education.  He had experienced in his own life the power of education to transform and elevate an individual from the circumstances into which he was born.  He very much wanted others to experience that same transforming power.  It is his greatest legacy, and one that I, in whatever way I can, am happy to honor and promote.

Which is why a story like this one, pardon my French in advance, pisses me off royally.

I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with religion being taught as religion, whether at a religious or secular school.  But I have an enormous, Mount St. Helens size problem with religion being taught as science.  The school referenced in the article and, sadly, hundreds of others like it are setting up a conflict in the heads of their students that will in many cases carry over into every area of their adult lives, one in which science--true science--is seen as something sinister and dishonest.

That view could easily cost them not only their health and lives, but the health and lives of their families and even whole communities.  One need look no further than the anti-vaccination movement, which is threatening to bring deadly diseases back to life, to see evidence of this happening already.  At the very least, these schools are giving their students a mistrust of science that will set them back professionally, if not personally, in a global economy where Darwin has been a fact of life for decades.

So, when I call this form of teaching the pedagogical equivalent of child abuse, I'm not being melodramatic.  I am, in the words of the late, underappreciated Howard Cosell, telling it like it is.  There is no room for pulling punches which the minds and lives of our children's future--indeed, our future--is at stake.  No school with this sort of instruction should be licensed.  And, regardless of religion, no parent worthy of the label should send their children to one.

Is New York City Eating Itself Alive?

Culturally, that is.

I began to ask myself this question about the time I saw this article, and several similar ones, about artists leaving New York because the cost of living, and creating, in the Big Apple has become unbearably high.  I began to ask it with greater frequency after I saw this article, about Rizzoli Bookstore having to abandon a historic building for the second time in less than three decades.  And today, after reading this, and then this, I think that everyone who cares not just about New York, but all of our urban cultural centers, should be asking this question and doing everything they can to make sure that, ultimately, the answer is no.

Cities, especially large ones like New York, have always been challenging for artists, especially new and unproven ones.  Their size and financial resources make them attractive as a source of audiences, investors and other forms of patronage.  But the overall cost of living is difficult to handle for artists who are just starting out and have few if any patrons.  Still, for the most part, the agony/ecstasy balance of big cities for artists has historically leaned on the latter side, at least during the 20th century.

But in the 21st century, all of that has changed.  Gentrification, which initially provided an economic boost to many cities, has grown to the point where, in the case of New York, it is almost impossible to find a neighborhood untouched by it.  As is the case in the Sunset Park story, artists who have invested time, energy and money into reclaiming and revitalizing older, historic buildings are paying the price for their success by having their rents raised past their breaking point.  And never mind gentrification in the case of historically pricey areas like 57th Street in Manhattan (where, briefly, I worked as an art gallery intern many years ago).  There, mansions such as the one housing Rizzoli and other beautiful landmarks are being bulldozed to create castles for the ultra-rich.

This latter trend is now so pronounced that it's no longer even older buildings that are being threatened.  Even "trendy" buildings built a few years ago are not safe, as is the case with the former Museum of Folk Art building that will be leveled as part of a Museum of Modern Art expansion.  As a result, two architect couples are now no longer speaking to each other--and, ironically, one of them had participated in the abandonment of the historic Barnes Foundation home in suburban Philadelphia.  For them, the "landmark" shoe is now very much on the other foot.

And none of this would be possible were it not for 20 years of Republican mayors hell-bent on turning New York into New Jersey, or Shanghai, or anything but New York.  In the process, they took the melting pot and turned it into a pot of gold for their supporters, at the expense of everyone else.  Especially for artists, and for all of us who support their work.

Even I'm not sure what can be done to reverse all of this.  It's a subset of the larger trend in our society in which 1% gets the goldmine and 99% get the shaft.  Something has to be done, and soon, or it won't just be New York that's eating itself alive.  In the very short run, the best advice I can give to artists is to move to less pricey cities and pool their resources in the process.  Perhaps they can end up as the vanguard of the revolution this country needs.

And, if any of them want to come to Baltimore, they're more than welcome.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

And Immigrants Benefit Maryland's Economy

As so well said by my wife and law partner, the Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's DC-Maryland-Virginia chapter, Cynthia Rosenberg!

Sorry, Conservatives, But Liberal Policies Generate Wealth

After all, the highest concentration of millionaires just happens to be in a very blue state, in which I am proud to reside.

And, Speaking Of The Arts ...

... they can illustrate the growth of democracy where it had never existed previously, as is currently the case with Africa.

Guess What American Industry Is Worth $504 Billion?

The arts, of course.  Which is why we should be spending more, not less on it.  Including more of our public money.  Cutting NEA/NEH budgets is insane at a time like this, when we need all the jobs we can get.

Which Is The Greater Culprit In The West Virginia Water Disaster?

A lack of regulations?  Or a lack of leadership with anything resembling character?

The combination of the two surely is lethal.  And, if West Virginia voters learn nothing from this at all, and demonstrate that ignorance at the polls this fall, none of us may be drinking the water.

Just Keep On Saying To Yourself: It's All A Hoax, It's All A Hoax, It's All A Hoax ...

... except, perhaps, if you're playing in the Australian Open.

And Conservatives Don't Understand What It Takes To "Be A Man"

There are many, many things that can and need to be said about the slow-motion collapsing house of cards that is Chris Christie and his unbelievably corrupt (even by New Jersey standards) administration.  I'll be saying quite a number of them, as the scandals unfold and right-wingers increasingly desert this sinking ship.  For the moment, however, it is enough--more than enough--to reflect on the sheer, unbelievable, unmitigated stupidity of this exchange between Bill O'Reilly and Brit Hume on the subject of Mr. Christie.

It's bad enough that some partisans in the right-wing loony bin have tried to justify Bridgegate as a run-of-the mill example of routine political payback.  It isn't routine, of course, to engage in payback by endangering the public in the process, but we'll let that seemingly obvious point pass for now.  As stupid as the everybody-does-it argument is in this context, it is eclipsed on every level by the apparent consensus between O'Reilly and Hume that Christie's only real problem is that he is too "masculine and muscular ... [t]oo rough around the edges."

This is sexism at its most absolutely stupid.  First, because it denies femininity its own very special brand of toughness (ever given birth to a child, Mr. Reilly and Mr. Hume?).  And second, because it defines masculinity solely in terms of a lack of restraint and/or a lack of respect for the rights and needs of others.  Apparently, today's conservatives don't understand traditional masculinity any more than they understand traditional conservatism.

"Being a man" has never meant doing whatever it takes to get what you want.  It has never meant gratifying every passion in your body.  It has never meant coercing anyone into bending to your will.  And it has never meant putting vulnerable citizens in harm's way.  If anything, it has defined toughness in terms of being able to deal with not always getting what you want, and still living your life in a positive way, cherishing your blessings and confronting your weaknesses.  Take sports, for example.   At every level of competition, we are always taught to play hard but fairly, to celebrate winning and learn from our losses, and to treat our competitors and colleagues with equal respect.  No one has ever accused a male athlete who embraces those principals as somehow "lacking in masculinity."  For that matter, take our movies.  All of our icons of masculinity, from Gary Cooper to John Wayne to Kevin Costner, have been defined as much by what they were not willing to do as much as by what they did, for themselves and others.

Neither O'Reilly nor Hume can tell the difference between being a man and being a thug.  Chris Christie is, without a doubt, the latter, to a degree that might have made even Richard Nixon blush.  His politics and his waistline have one thing in common:  neither of them is defined by any sense of restraint.  And there is only one true lesson to learn from a political career like his:  if your ego is big enough, sooner or later you will trip over it.  That lesson is true for both men and women, and the distinguishing feature of both real men and real women is that they both heed it.

Conservatism Is No Longer About Conserving

This recent article about Bill O'Reilly's purchase and subsequent demolition of a 1940s beachfront property on Long Island led me to a little reflection about conservatism over the past three decades--not so much about how its power has grown, but about how its essence has changed.

Traditional conservatism is defined by its first two syllables--to conserve.  It didn't fight change.  It argued for making sure that change did not disrupt what worked, and did not damage the ideals and values all of us share.  And, if it argued on behalf of the individual, it did not argue for exalting the individual over the society every individual is a part of.  In short, it understood that a democratic society is a balancing act and, in that sense, it had something in common with traditional liberalism.  Each perspective embraces a different side of the balancing act, but neither denies the need to maintain a balance.

Which leads me to point out the principal deficiency of conservatism in the Reagan and post-Reagan era.  It has been defined mainly by its sacrifice of any semblance of balance, and by a Randian embrace of me-first principals across the board, principals that have corroded every area of public policy and has brought America to the brink of a new Gilded Age, where the suffering of many is embraced in all of the centers of power, in order to embrace the fleeting opulence of a power-hungry few.  Freedom of religion is defined solely in terms of the interests of one religion.  The international balance of power is defined solely in terms of the need to maintain our interests.  The economic life of the nation is defined solely by the need to maintain the interests of capital, not labor--so much so that, when the nation faces an economic crisis brought on by the recklessness of capital, it is labor that must sacrifice to bail capital out.  And the cultural life of the nation focuses not on celebrating the fruits of creation, but on sacrificing those fruits if they stand in the way of displaying our egos.

And that, in turn, leads me in a roundabout way to condemn what Mr. O'Reilly has done here.  He has destroyed a valuable and even historic property solely for the purpose of getting a better view.  He could, of course, have simply bought an existing property with that same view and ocean access, but he didn't.  He clearly wanted to make a statement that the property is now HIS, and whatever had come before HIM was not going to be preserved for future generations.  Never mind its value, its beauty, or the work and materials put into building it.  None of these things should be allowed to get in the way of Mr. O'Reilly's celebration of his lack of awareness that none of us truly, ultimately own anything.  Property rights are not natural rights, but rights granted by the State with an implicit covenant of good stewardship, both of the Earth's resources and the people around us.  The truth is that any demolition should be balanced, and permitted, only in the context of how it relates to that stewardship.

Enjoy your property, and your proposed use of it, Mr. O'Reilly.  It proves that you are just another modern conservative with no desire to conserve.  And don't forget:  the next person who owns it may put back what you destroyed.  After all, they may have an ego to celebrate as well--but it may be an ego tempered by the knowledge that none of us are immortal, and all of us have only one planet to share.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

And, On A More Positive Note ...

Could this glass sphere revolutionize solar energy, and unleash its potential exponentially?   Let's hope so.

Memo To Ralph Nader

You would never have needed to write to George W. Bush, if only you had found the class and the grace to check your ego at the door in 2000.  I will never forgive you for that; in my opinion, it swallowed up a lifetime of good deeds on your part.  And you know I'm right--and that I'm not the only progressive who feels that way.  Shame on you.

One Less Bigot On The Air

That's all I can feel about the death of Bob Grant, a "legend" only if you believe spreading hatred and fear at the expense of the truth should be considered legendary.  Much of the divisive nature of our politics can be traced to people like him, who discovered through radio a successful alternative to working for a living.

It says all you need to know about his career that people tried to sugar-coat his rancid on-air rants by calling him an "entertainer."  That's the dodge these people use when the political heat they create gets too intense even for them.  Like all bullies throughout history, Grant was a coward who could only find the "courage" of his "convictions" behind a microphone.  Let's all hope and pray that more people realize this, and stop listening to his successors, like Sean Hannity and Curtis Sliwa, who are no better (and arguably worse).

Forget About "Global Cooling"

The recent wave of sub-freezing weather has, in the short run, provided climate deniers with a field day for sniping at their betters.  One incident annoyed me in particular, Stuart Varney, whose ignorance about business has been amply demonstrated on both CNN and Fox, decided to give us a fuller picture of his ignorance by saying that we should forget about global warming and start worrying about "global cooling."

We'll never have to worry about "global cooling," Mr. Varney, as look as the airwaves are filled with hot-air specialists like you.  And as long as the facts point completely in the other direction.

But we'd better start worrying.  Right now.  And, once again, get out the vote this year.

Will Obamacare Jumpstart The Economy?

I believe it will, because I believe it will succeed in lowering health care costs.  And, unlike conservatives, my beliefs (in this regard and others) are based on facts.  The facts that can be found in articles like this one.

The more you face the facts, the easier it is to be a liberal.  Some of us already have a head start.  Let's hope that everyone else can catch up, before it's too late to matter.

Are "Land Banks" The Key To Rebuilding Desolated Cities?

The City of Brotherly Love, as it turns out, is in the process of finding out.  Take a look.  Let's hope that it works; it could, as the article points out, be a model for cities elsewhere like Detroit (or Baltimore, for that matter).

And One More Parting Shot From 2013

This item from truthout ( has given me hope that, in at least one country, there will be a true test of whether or not raising taxes on the rich helps or hurts the national economy.  Frankly, I would be very surprised if it does not have a huge positive effect on the French economy--and, if that's the case, I would hope (and all of us should hope) that lawmakers in this and other countries follow the French example.

What I appreciate most about this article is the way in which it lays out the 20th-century history of tax cuts and increases on the wealthy, and shows that, in almost every case, tax hikes had the effect of jump-starting the economy, while tax cuts merely created speculation that led to economic disaster--most recently, of course, in 2008.  As counter-intuitive as those trends may seem, there's really nothing counter-intuitive about them.

As I have said before (most recently here), tax hikes on the wealthy are quite simply the equivalent of welfare reform for the 1%.  This should, frankly, surprise no one.  When one segment of society is given far more money, through tax policy and the tax code, than it could ever productively use, and at the expense of everyone else, that money can only go into two places--speculation, and tax shelters.  The truthout item points this out; the Reagan-Bush tax cuts amounted to a foreign aid program for countries that feast off of wealth transfers from productive nations.  There are, even as I write this, literally trillions of dollars being held hostage overseas, money that could and should be use to build an American future even greater than America's past.  Instead, it's simply comforting the cash paranoia of plutocrats for whom no amount of money is enough.  And, of course, as truthout points out, the history of speculative bubbles speaks for itself:  from the 1929 crash to the S&L scandals of the 1980s to the housing-derivatives "bubble" of this century's first decade.

Why do tax hikes on the rich work?  Simply put, they force the well-off to take their excess capital and put it to work in ways that actually make a profit--ways that, in turn, generates hiring, consumption, a forward-thinking orientation and, in short, all of the ingredients for economic growth.  Our Puritan history tends to make us believe that wealthy people are inherently virtuous, and do not need the force of public policy to use their money wisely.  But wealthy people are no different from poor people, in this regard and others.  They will only use money wisely if society makes it clear at every turn that doing so is a requirement, and not an option.

I hope, and I expect, that the changes being made by the French will work, and that they will help other nations, including the U.S., understand that austerity is a warped, brutal mistake of a fiscal policy that increases misery needlessly.  Just ask the Irish.  We desperately need to get over our Reagan-era fantasies about how taxation works.

Yet another reason, by the way, not to sit at home in 2014.

It's 2014--LET'S GET BUSY!

A very belated Happy New Year to everyone.  I said in my last post that I was taking a pause for the New Year.  I didn't intend for it to be quite this long.  There's a lot to catch up on, and I'll get there.  But first, I want to take a moment (or a post) in an attempt to use 2013 as a springboard into positive action for 2014.

As a general rule, I am not a big fan of end-of-the-year-summation stories.  I feel that they predictably veer between commenting on the obvious, and/or reaching for a grandiosity that they never quite achieve, except perhaps in their authors' minds.  But this item from Think Progress ( caught my eye, and I'm glad it did.  It provided a lot of food for thought on my part as we head into an election year that, although one without a presidential race, could be one of the most critical elections in our country's history.

Not surprisingly, Republicans are counting on a combination of low turnout and Obamacare anxiety to propel them into total control of Congress, as well as an expansion of their recent electoral successes at the state level.  Regarding Obamacare, I don't think their optimism is warranted, and they are in part to blame for this.  They have so overstated the case against the ACA that almost any successful level of implementation will saddle the GOP with an image of foolishness it richly deserves.  And I believe there should be no doubt whatsoever that the White House is fully focused on making Obamacare a success--again, a tribute to the fact that the President's opponents have developed an Ahab-like focus on health care reform.

Turnout, however, is another matter.  History is on the GOP's side:  in off-year elections, especially during a President's second term, voters are more inclined to stay home, especially voters from the President's party.  In the case of U.S. Senate races, it does not help that seven seats currently held by Democrats in GOP states are either open seats or find incumbents in close races.  Picking up six of those seats would give America a Republican Congress for the first time in eight years, assuming that the House of Representatives doesn't flip in the other direction (and gerrymandering plus low turnout would ensure that it probably won't).

If you're a progressive voter, why should you care?  Obama could just spend his last two years pushing new regulations and vetoing bad bills.  Maybe.  Obama might, unfortunately, decide instead like Bill Clinton to be a "good guy" and sign some of that bad legislation, to validate his earlier-expressed desire to b e a leader who "brings people together."  Then again, an all-GOP Congress amped up by six years of blood lust for the President's political head could decide to just be an impeachment Congress, and give us two protracted years of hearings, votes and a Senate trial toward that end.

But, if that doesn't energize you to get out and vote, and get out others to vote, consider the contents of the Think Progress post.  And remember, if you don't vote, you are responsible.  You are responsible for more pension thefts, for more middle-class suicides, for more outbreaks of preventable and deadly diseases because of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.  And you are also responsible for missed opportunities to expand the use of green energy, and to ensure undocumented immigrants of a future in this country.

It doesn't matter that this is an "off-year."  It's still a chance to make a positive difference.  The President was absolutely correct when he said that we are the change we seek.  And there won't be any change at all, if you give the Republicans what they want--an electorate dominated by their voters.  2013 sucked.  2014 doesn't have to.  And that's not up to the President.  It's up to you.