David Sirota

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David J. Sirota (born 1975) is a Denver-based American political figure, radio show host and political commentator, [1] represented by Creators Syndicate. He is an author, book reviewer,[2] nationally syndicated newspaper columnist,[3] a Democratic political strategist,[2] political operative,[4] Democratic spokesperson,[5] and blogger.[6]

Political orientation

He is generally considered to be a political progressive[7] with non-partisan leanings[8] as well as a critic of neoliberal economic policies.[9] He has criticized both left[10] and right[11] as well as excessive presidential power.[12]

He criticized the Clinton,[13] George W. Bush,[14] and Obama[15] administrations. Sirota supported John Edwards in the Democratic [[2008 United States Presidential election|2008 Democratic party primaries.[16] He has criticized the Democratic Leadership Council and other Democrats, whom he claims have "sold out" to corporate interests, and has argued that the term "centrist" is a misnomer in that these politicians are out of touch with public opinion. Sirota's article "The Democrats' Da Vinci Code" argues that leftist politicians are more successful in so-called "red states" than the mainstream media have previously reported.[17] He is an opponent of free trade policies,[18] a supporter of fair trade, and an advocate of workers' rights[18] and organized labor.[18] His May 2007 speech at the Montana AFL-CIO Convention in Butte, Montana, articulated many of his views.[18] Sirota supported Sherrod Brown over Paul Hackett for the 2006 Senate election in Ohio and criticized Hackett's claims that he was "forced out" of the race by party elders as disingenuous.[19] In 2008, Sirota stated on radio program Democracy Now! that he had cast an early vote for Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama instead of for Republican John McCain.[20]

Sirota re-coined and popularized the term American Czarism in January 2009 to warn against excessive presidential power; he wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle "every patriot should be concerned about the intensifying efforts to supplant democracy with something far more authoritarian ... Call it American czarism."[12] The term has been used sporadically in the past with different meanings.[21][22]

Early life and education

Sirota was born in New Haven, Connecticut but grew up in the Montgomery County suburbs outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After being educated at the William Penn Charter School, he went to Northwestern University,[14] where he earned his bachelor's degree with honors in journalism and political science.

Political and media career

Sirota worked as spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. He said R criticized cuts in student loans, saying "The president and his budget director are finally being honest about their misguided priorities -- more tax cuts for Enron paid for by effectively raising taxes on middle-class students and their families," [23] and, again citing tax cuts and Enron, argued that $250 million of tax benefits for Enron should better have been spent on nuclear security.[24]

While a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research and advocacy group, headed by John Podesta, he created its Progress Report.[25] He criticized the George W. Bush Administration's claims of more clarity about the Iraq War, and [26] spoke in favor of Richard Clarke's book criticizing the Administration's performance in counterterrorism. [27]

Sirota's career in political campaigns began when he became a research director for Illinois State Senator Howard Carroll's unsuccessful run for U.S. Representative in Illinois's 9th congressional district in the 1998 election; Carroll lost in the Democratic primary to J. B. Pritzker and Illinois State Representative Jan Schakowsky.[28] Sirota then became a fundraiser for Joe Hoeffel in his first successful campaign for the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district.[29]

Later he moved to Washington, D.C. and worked in the political department of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or AIPAC.[30] His next job was as press aide and then spokesperson for Bernie Sanders, the democratic independent Vermont's at-large U.S. Representative from Vermont.[31]

In 2003 Newsweek profiled Sirota as a "political operative" skilled at "hacking out a daily barrage of anti-Bush media clips, commentary, and snappy quotes" who made "guerrilla attacks on the Bush administration" and who was "well schooled in the art of Washington warfare."[14] According to the article, Sirota's main weapons were computer emails; Sirota was described as the "Internet child of the Clinton War Room generation."[14] Former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta was quoted about Sirota: "I just saw he had an eye for critique and the instinct for the jugular."[14] Sirota unearthed an embarrassing comment which Colin Powell had made two years earlier to the effect that "Iraq posed no threat to its neighbors, and possessed no 'significant capability' in weapons of mass destruction;" Sirota spread it; reporters pounced; and it became a public relations blow to the Bush administration.[14] Sirota was credited with having spread the fact that $87 billion for Iraq could have been used to erase huge state deficits here at home, and this line was parroted by Democrats nationwide.[14]

After serving as a senior strategist for Brian Schweitzer's[18] unsuccessful 2000 Senate campaign and successful United States 2004 gubernatorial campaign,[32][33] Sirota lived from 2004 to 2007 in Helena, Montana[31][34] with his wife.

Hostile Takeover

In May 2006, Random House's Crown Publishers released Sirota's book Hostile Takeover.[35] The first chapter of the book was published in the New York Times in July 2006.[36] Sirota read sections of his book in public.[37] In the book, Sirota argued that corporate interests are driving U.S. economic policy. The book became a New York Times bestseller on July 9, 2006, entering at #23 on the nonfiction list.[38] The paperback edition came out a year later.

Sirota's Hostile Takeover (2006) was reviewed by New York Times critic Tobin Harshaw who described Sirota as a "Montana-based blogger with a take-no-prisoners mind-set" with "an admirably organized mind". Sirota's book was "neatly arranged by topic". Harshaw wrote "Sirota’s facts may be accurate, but the suppositions he draws from them are often questionable." But Harshaw admitted Sirota was "right that many among the working poor are trapped in a cycle that doesn’t reward their efforts" but criticized Sirota's minimum wage focus as simplistic. Harshaw applauded some Sirota suggestions as "admirably specific, occasionally realistic and arguably on the side of the angels" and capable of bipartisan support, such as his recommendations for "regulating malpractice insurance for doctors ... restoring state control over class-action laws ... (and) forcing chief executives to certify corporate tax returns so they face liability for fraud." He felt Sirota was critical of "mainstream Democratic centrists". Harshaw criticized the writing style as "cliched" and "oppressive" and too lengthy and needing an editor, but admitted Sirota presented a "creditable analysis."[39]

Sirota responded to Harshaw's review in a letter to the editor. Sirota denied his book was critical of mainstream Democrats but aimed squarely at "exposing Republican hypocrisy."[34] He described his position as a "centrist exploration of the corruption of the entire system" which "isn't the fault of just one party or another."[34]

Washington Post political critic Jeffrey Birnbaum criticized the book for pandering "to our badly polarized electorate" and doing "little to benefit democracy or to add to our knowledge of Washington."[40] "Sirota insists that his project does not tilt in favor of either party, but his words betray him ... Hostile Takeover is a vicious and sometimes ugly apologia for pro-labor, pro-trial-lawyer Democrats," wrote Birnbaum. But Birnbaum praised the book for attacking the power of lobbyists and their effect on health care and energy policy. Birnbaum liked the book's concept and felt it was filled with "facts along with the invective". He described Sirota as a "careful reader of periodicals and effectively selects the stories he uses to make his debating points." But Birnbaum felt Sirota was using "facts" as "weapons" and not as "windows to a higher understanding."

Since May 2005, Sirota has been a contributor to The Huffington Post[41] while writing his own blog (which is now at OpenLeft.com). He was a regular guest on The Al Franken Show and makes guest appearances on The Colbert Report, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, NOW, Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNBC, and NPR. He is a senior editor at In These Times,[42] a regular columnist for The Nation, and a past contributor to The American Prospect. He has been published in the Washington Post[43], the Los Angeles Times[44], the Baltimore Sun[45], and the San Francisco Chronicle. [15]

In September 2006, Sirota worked as a political consultant for Ned Lamont's U.S. Senate campaign.[46] Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman in the primary, but Lieberman ran as an independent and defeated Lamont in the November election.

There was controversy in 2007 about whether Sirota was a "journalist" or an "activist".[31][47] While the Washington press corps tends to see him as an "activist", at one point he was criticized for skirting the rules about access to Congress, which would on some occasions deny activists access, by getting a "temporary intern's ID"; this gave him access to the Senate chamber, but he was criticized in the Washington Post afterwards. He was described as having "pulled an end-run around the press galleries." [48] Sirota denied he got "special access" and that such as claim was "just bizarre".[31] He added: "I think a lot of reporters on the Hill want to monopolize access to our government as a way to preserve their monopoly on news I guess."[31] There were comments that other journalists were essentially activists as well; one noted "(Weekly Standard columnist) Fred Barnes has credentials, he espouses political views."[47]

In 2008, Sirota was co-chair of the Progressive Legislative Action Network now renamed the Progressive States Network.[37] He was a senior fellow at the Campaign for America's Future.[37]

The Uprising

Sirota's book The Uprising was released in June 2008.[49] It was ranked 20th on the New York Times bestseller list on June 15, 2008.[50][51] The book was also listed on the New York Times Political Bestseller list for the month of July 2008.[52] Sirota made speeches about his book at venues such as Hofstra University.[53]

A mostly positive review of The Uprising from Publishers Weekly described the book as chronicling "how ordinary citizens on the right and the left are marshaling their frustrations with the government into uprisings across the country."[54] The reviewer cited "entertaining case studies" with a "conversational" tone and a fast paced narrative with "numerous high notes." Sirota gave a "fine elucidation of continuing Democratic support for the Iraq War" and examined the "echo chamber qualities of beltway television shows like Hardball." The book presents "a rousing account of the local uprisings already in effect."

A Newark Star-Ledger political critic reviewing the book described Sirota as an "enterprising" reporter who used "resourceful" tactics to get entry into such venues as Capitol Hill, the Microsoft campus, an ExxonMobil stockholders' meeting, and the Mexican border. In the book, Sirota attacks former CNN star Lou Dobbs less for his "endless broadcasts on illegal immigration" but more for the way he "browbeats his staff and runs roughshod over the CNN management." The critic felt the book's "search for a national uprising is somewhat out of focus" but was a "lively read." [48]

In June 2007, Sirota replaced the late Progressivism in the progressive columnist Molly Ivins with a column to be syndicated nationally by Creators Syndicate.[55] He moved to Denver, Colorado so his wife could attend the School of Social Work at the University of Denver.[56] He has lived in Denver since the fall of 2007 and continues to write for numerous publications, and has recently been a long-term interim host for the Jay Marvin Show on AM 760 Progressive Talk. In November of 2009, he became Marvin's permanent replacement and now hosts his own show daily on AM 760.

Prominent journalists and political analysts have praised Sirota. Rolling Stone political correspondent Matt Taibbi said "Sirota is honest, uncompromising, passionate, and a brilliant communicator ... He is the most important progressive voice we have in this country."[57] Naomi Klein said "Sirota is a clear-headed and principled hell-raiser for economic justice." In a review of his book, The Newark Star-Ledger said "Sirota is an enterprising, resourceful reporter."[48] The Rocky Mountain News said "Sirota is a true 21st-century political journalist" whose latest book is "Grade A...[It] has an inflammatory title that sounds rebellious and insurgent. But it actually is much less in-your-face, covering a year jet-setting around the nation talking to politicians" and is "the perfect tome for rebels of all persuasions."[58] MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who has had Sirota as a frequent guest, called him an "all-around smart guy"[59] who "has been ahead of the curve on the red-hot failures written into the mammoth Wall Street bailout."[60]

Other prominent journalists and political analysts have been critical of Sirota. In his article comparing two approaches to progressive politics, Nate Silver described Sirota's approach as "playing fast and loose with the truth and using some of the same demagogic precepts that the right wing does."[61] Regarding Sirota's political analysis and projections, including his predictions during the 2008 presidential election, Al Giordano described him as "an inverted compass: when Sirota says 'heads,' you can make a lot of money betting on 'tails.'"[62]

References

  1. Kirk Johnson. Fertile Ground With New Voters in Growing West, 'The New York Times', November 5, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  2. 2.0 2.1 By DAVID SIROTA. Pinstriped Populist, 'The New York Times Sunday Book Review', November 12, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  3. Upcoming Events -- Past Events -- November 12, 2008 (date of speech by David Sirota), Hofstra University, October 15, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  4. {cite news | author = Richard Wolffe | title = A Man With A Mission -- He's Young, Fierce And Determined To Stop George W. Bush In 2004. Meet David Sirota, The Democrats' E-Mail Commando | publisher = NEWSWEEK | date = Oct 27, 2003 | url = http://www.newsweek.com/id/61918 | accessdate = 2009-09-23}}
  5. MATTHEW L. WALD. A NATION CHALLENGED: NUCLEAR SECURITY; White House Cut 93% of Funds Sought to Guard Atomic Arms, 'The New York Times', April 23, 2002. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  6. Tobin Harshaw. Books by David Sirota and George Lakoff -- Manic Progressives, 'The New York Times', July 23, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  7. David Sirota. Book World: 'The Uprising', 'The Washington Post', June 4, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  8. TOBIN HARSHAW. Books by David Sirota and George Lakoff -- Manic Progressives, The New York Times, July 23, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  9. Kate Zernike. Allied With Democrats, Lieberman Easily Aligns With Republicans, The New York Times, February 8, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  10. Anne E. Kornblut. From Senator Clinton, a Lesson in Tactical Bipartisanship, The New York Times, April 30, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  11. Philip Shenon. White House Seeks Savings By Changing Student Loans, The New York Times, April 28, 2002. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  12. 12.0 12.1 David Sirota. U.S. moving toward czarism, away from democracy, San Francisco Chronicle, January 18, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-09-25.
  13. Anne E. Kornblut. From Senator Clinton, a Lesson in Tactical Bipartisanship, The New York Times, April 30, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 Richard Wolffe. A Man With A Mission -- He's Young, Fierce And Determined To Stop George W. Bush In 2004. Meet David Sirota, The Democrats' E-Mail Commando, NEWSWEEK, Oct 27, 2003. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  15. 15.0 15.1 David Sirota, Creators Syndicate. Despite Obama's promises, rival views are scrubbed from White House, The San Francisco Chronicle -- SFGate.com, February 6, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  16. David Sirota. Clinton Announces Support for NAFTA Expansion, Huffington Post, November 8, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.
  17. David J. Sirota. The Democrats' Da Vinci Code, 'The American Prospect', December 8, 2004. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 David Sirota. Get Busy Living, Or Get Busy Dying -- Editor’s Note: Author and political organizer David Sirota spoke on May 18th, 2007 at the Montana AFL-CIO Convention in Butte, Montana. Here’s the transcript, reprinted in full on The Nation’s website., The Nation, May 21, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.
  19. David Sirota. My Take on Ohio, 'Sirotablog', February 14, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.
  20. Guests: David Sirota and Glen Ford. Barack Obama Accepts Endorsement of Colin Powell Despite the Ex-General’s Role in Making the Case for Iraq War, 'Democracy Now!', October 21, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.
  21. Daniel De Leon (1907-02-10). The Revolution in Russia (.PDF). Daily People, New York. Retrieved on 2009-09-25.
  22. Rodrigues, Gustave; James Mark Baldwin (1918-01-14). The people of action: an essay on American idealism. C. Scribner's Sons. 
  23. PHILIP SHENON. White House Seeks Savings By Changing Student Loans, The New York Times, April 28, 2002. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  24. MATTHEW L. WALD. A NATION CHALLENGED: NUCLEAR SECURITY; White House Cut 93% of Funds Sought to Guard Atomic Arms, The New York Times, April 23, 2002. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  25. Boston Globe, 12/12/03
  26. RICHARD W. STEVENSON. A Change of Tone: Pitfalls Emerge in Iraq, The New York Times, September 21, 2003. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  27. RACHEL L. SWARNS. Ex-Aide’s Book Corners Market in Capital Buzz, The New York Times, March 26, 2004. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  28. Roll Call, 2/12/98
  29. National Journal's "The Hotline," 11/23/99
  30. Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair. When Corruption is a One-Way Street -- David Sirota: Despite Hostile Takeover, He's Still Not Willing to Let Go of the Democrats -- By CORPORATE CRIME REPORTER, counterpunch, May 5, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 Mary Ann Akers. Sirota: Journalist or Activist?, The Washington Post, February 12, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  32. Kirk Johnson. Fertile Ground With New Voters in Growing West, The New York Times, November 5, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  33. MARK SUNDEEN. The Big-Sky Dem, The New York Times, October 8, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 David Sirota. Letters to the Editor: Fighting Words, The New York Times, September 23, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  35. Sirota, David (May 22, 2007). Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government--And How We Take It Back (Paperback). Three Rivers Press, 384 pages. ISBN 978-0307237354. 
  36. DAVID SIROTA. First Chapter -- ‘Hostile Takeover’, The New York Times -- First Chapters, July 23, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 David Sirota. Book World: 'The Uprising', The Washington Post, June 4, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  38. http://davidsirota.com/index.php/2006/06/29/progressives-perform-a-hostile-takeover-of-the-nyt-bestseller-list/
  39. TOBIN HARSHAW. Books by David Sirota and George Lakoff -- Manic Progressives, The New York Times, July 23, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  40. Jeffrey H. Birnbaum. A Sledgehammer Approach, Made Heavier by the Pound -- HOSTILE TAKEOVER -- How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government -- And How We Take It Back -- By David Sirota, The Washington Post, June 2, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  41. Howard Kurtz. Trading The Talk for The Walk? -- Host's Political Hopes Put MSNBC on the Spot, The Washington Post, December 5, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  42. Literary Calendar: May 8-14, 2006, 'The Washington Post', May 7, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  43. David Sirota. FIND YOUR TRUE CENTER (Don't Compromise), The Washington Post, June 11, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  44. Los Angeles Times, 9/6/04 http://www.davidsirota.com/index.php/late-great-middle-class/
  45. Baltimore Sun, 3/30/07
  46. Kate Zernike. Allied With Democrats, Lieberman Easily Aligns With Republicans, The New York Times, February 8, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  47. 47.0 47.1 Mary Ann Akers. Sirota: Journalist or Activist, Part II, The Washington Post, February 13, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2 Tom Mackin. SEEKING THE MALCONTENTS, Newark Star-Ledger, Tom Mackin. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  49. Sirota, David (2008-04-28). The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington. United States: Crown, 400 pages. ISBN ISBN 978-0-307-39563-4. 
  50. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/books/bestseller/0622besthardnonfiction.html
  51. Hardcover Nonfiction -- list of bestsellers, 'The New York Times', June 22, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  52. [1]
  53. Upcoming Events -- Past Events -- November 12, 2008 (date of speech by David Sirota), Hofstra University, October 15, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  54. Staff writer. Nonfiction Reviews: Week of 4/28/2008, Publishers Weekly, 2008-04-28. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  55. http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/departments/syndicates/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003594372
  56. http://davidsirota.com/index.php/2007/05/29/moving-to-denver/
  57. The UPRISING Out in Paperback today, Huffington Post, April 28, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-09-23.
  58. Kelly Lemieux. The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington, 'Rocky Mountain News', June 12, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.
  59. 'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, November 10, The Rachel Maddow Show, Nov . 11, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.
  60. 'The Rachel Maddow Show'for Tuesday -- Guests: Kent Jones, Ron Suskind, Scott Turow, David Sirota, Francesca Grifo, The Rachel Maddow Show, December 16, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.
  61. Nate Silver. The Two Progressivisms, FiveThirtyEight -- Politics Done Right, 2009-02-15. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.
  62. Al Giordano. The Partisanship Trap, 'The Field', January 27, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.