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Netroots Schizo

2010 July 27
by Ian Welsh

I had a good time in Vegas, so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time at NN, but I did spend enough time to take in the mood, and it was schizophrenic.  About half the people there are some combination of angry, disappointed and bitter with Democrats in general and Obama in particular.  This group sees him as not a heck of a lot better than George Bush, and in fact the Democrat who extended some of Bush’s worst policies, especially in  civil liberties.  This includes a lot of feminists (angry at what they see as betrayals on abortion), many Hispanics angry at the continued harsh enforcement of immigration laws, gays who feel Obama has betrayed clear promises on gay rights, anti-war activists saddened by escalation in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and a mishmash of folks who think health care reform was a dog’s breakfast and that the general way the economy and financial reform has been handled is a disgrace.

Then there are the folks who would characterize themselves, in general, as hard nosed pragmatists and “realists”. These range from the “Obama is the greatest liberal president since FDR” types, who think that the Obama is just wonderful and those progressives and liberals who don’t agree are simply delusional to those who feel that a lot of what he’s done has been watered down pap in general but that it’s certainly better than nothing and that those who are disappointed are unrealistic idealists who simply don’t understand the constraints Obama and Congressional Democrats are working under.

As regular readers know, I tend to the first camp, but I’m not going to go into why, I simply want to note that this divide is very real.  It’s occasioning a lot of anger on both sides.  The first sees the second as tribalistic sellouts, willing to excuse horrible things they would never excuse in Republicans so long as they are committed by Democrats and lacking an understanding of just how bad Democratic policy has been.  These are folks who tend to sneer at the “wins” as either illusionary or so underwhelming as to be a parody of the lesser evil argument.  (Reminding one inevitably of the t-shirts which say “Why Vote for the lesser evil. Cthulhu 2008.”)  To many of these folks the other side are, crudely put, sell-outs.

The second side is angry at what they parody as fairy tale thinking and deeply unrealistic.  “Obama couldn’t fix everything, but he’s better than the Republicans will be if they get back in power” is their mantra, ranging from “really, he’s wonderful and you’re insane for thinking otherwise” to “well, yes he sucks but he sucks less than what the Republicans will do when they get in power.”  Either way, they see the attacks from what they consider the “purists” as deeply damaging.  Democrats may or may not be a ton better than Republicans, but either way, they are better, and there is a moral case to be made for sucking it up one more time and working hard to elect, as the old progressive battle cry runs, “better Democrats”.  This is a two party state, with those parties having an unbreakable oligopoly on power.  Dissing Democrats just helps the even worse party win, at which point they will do even worse things.  So get over your problems, whether they are with economic policy or Obama’s continued shredding of fundamental civil liberties like Habeas Corpus, jump back into the trenches with your bowie knife or bayonet and fight for Democrats, not against them because by constantly bad mouthing Dems all you do is make it more likely that Republicans will win, and if they win, well, that will be baaaaddddd.  Very, very baaaaaddddd.

To put it crudely and unfairly to both sides, it’s the sell-outs without principles against the purists without realism.  And many of them do put it that way.  The netroots are split, in a very real way.  Life was easy when we could all agree that Bush was the worst American president in over a hundred years and all turn our guns on Republicans with the occasional shot at what we considered apostate Democrats like Lieberman.  The in-your-face discovery that people not much better ideologically than Lieberman run the Democratic party and determine its policies has split the tribe and turned brother against brother.  It’s not all-out war, not even close, but there is a disdain, bitterness and contempt between the two sides which is very real, and very dangerous.

This isn’t the Netroots of years past, it’s a Netroots torn by the question of what it means to be pragmatic: get what you can versus get what some feel the country actually needs or what they feel they were promised.  It is a Netroots torn by the question of bedrock values: of what is non-negotiable, and what isn’t non-negotiable.

It is, fundamentally, a Netroots which is learning that it isn’t one big happy family, that it does have internal disagreements which are serious and which can’t be papered over.

What that means in the short run is simply that the enthusiasm and support which has been there in the past for Democrats is no longer as strong as it was before.  2010 will see a lot of the Netroots at best tepidly pro-Democratic.  “Well, they are very slightly the lesser evil, so yeah, vote for them I guess”.  In the long-run, we’ll see.  It could be that a new consensus will coalesce, especially if Republicans win in 2010 and 2012.  It could be that this is the new normal.  Or it could be that the splits will continue to widen and become even more bitter, till the tribal identity is completely destroyed.

But last week, in Vegas, I found a Netroots that is more divided than I’ve ever seen it in its short existence.  I think, contrary to what the “realists” might say that this isn’t entirely bad. It is a real split, over real issues, and thrashing it out is worth the pain, because until we do, we won’t know what it really means to be a modern Netroots liberal or progressive: what our bedrock values are, and what we’re fighting for.

133 Responses
  1. July 27, 2010

    Ian,

    That’s a good article on an interesting topic. Of the half that were disgusted with obama and the democratic party, how many of them do you believe think that hillary clinton is a much better alternative and how many are giving serious thoughts to supporting a third party?

    Thanks,
    Z

  2. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 27, 2010

    Not many think a third party is viable. If they thought it was viable, I expect many would leap. I confess I may be in that group. Hilary wasn’t discussed that much, at least by the people I talked to. There are some who think she would have /been/ better, but the Netroots as a group were never big behind Hilary, as you know.

  3. David H. permalink
    July 27, 2010

    Oh, the constraints Obama & the Congressional Democrats are under! What with the majorities in both houses & overwhelming presidential election victory. It’s a miracle they’ve passed any legislation at all.

  4. Albatross permalink
    July 27, 2010

    Just as racism is the distraction the wealthy use to cloak their brutal class war, so is partisanship the cloak the aristocracy uses to distract from their brutal oligarchy. Republican? Democrat? I suspect Obama doesn’t see a lick of difference between the two. I think what has caught Obama most flat-footed as president has been the extent to which Congress actually takes partisanship seriously. I suspect he’s cynical enough that once he was elected Senator he considered himself part of the aristocracy, and considered partisanship passe. He probably believed that he could unite the Beltway behind a president who was solidly supporting Beltway aristocrats, and honestly it does frequently seem like Republican partisan contrariness works against their own interests as well as those of everybody else.

    Regardless, politics does seem like an increasingly pointless exercise from the point of view of an average citizen. Following the Citizens United ruling, it seems highly unlikely that we can avoid having our democracy dissolved in a boiling vat of acidic cash. It seems in a lot of ways like the best thing do to is stay out of it, and wait for it all to collapse under its own weight.

  5. Lee Levin permalink
    July 27, 2010

    The must read book of 2006 was
    Crashing the Gates. Did it not argue that Democrats must stand for something? In New York, a delegation brought together by Firedoglake brought copies and distributed them to all Democratic Congressional members.

    Standing for something did not only apply to winning elections. Or, did I misread the book?

    It is unfortunate that the second group ignores the bible of the past. Actually, unfortunate is an enormous understatement, but I’m trying not to burn bridges.

  6. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 27, 2010

    I didn’t read Crashing the Gates, actually. (Never been a Kos fan.) However, the principle is one I agree with.

  7. July 27, 2010

    I think the Republicans are toast, and times are ripe for a new party, especially as younger people gain power. These things take time, though. The Big Zero, I think, will be followed by The Decade of More Nothing, as US politics remains in its habitual deadlock. One source of hope, I think, is going to come unlooked-for from the South, which is likely to be radicalized by the BP disaster. Another is going to be the transformation of manufacturing. Meantime, “We must cultivate our garden.”

    Mmmmm, corn. Croak!

  8. July 27, 2010

    “has split the tribe and turned brother against brother”

    You do realize that tribe would have died out in one generation anyway, right? It’s not any kind of family. Happy or otherwise.

  9. dougR permalink
    July 27, 2010

    I appreciate your post, Ian, and I find myself identifying with BOTH halves of the divide that you outlined: mostly with the dismally disappointed half, secondarily (when I need bucking up) with the half that says, “Well, at least Obama’s not Nixon.” (Actually, come to think of it, I kind of wish Obama WERE Nixon, environmentally…) I mean, Obama IS better “than the Republicans will be if they get back in power,” but LOOK at those crazies–talk about a low bar of expectation. (Meanwhile the “Yes we can” Obama is a dim memory and what we have instead is “”Maybe we SORT of can, if the Republicans will let us, and if Ben Nelson and Olympia Snowe would only deign to announce themselves pleased with our efforts, so let’s cut the legs off our bill at the outset and beg Nel-snowe’s indulgence.”

    It’s all very depressing for this old codger who remembers the Eisenhower administration. Today’s lot, including Obama and Schumer, are so gutless and so far over in the right wing’s pocket compared to back then, that it’s just heartbreaking. And that’s where I break with accommodationists: I want to keep our democracy intact, rather than sell bits of it off to appease Snow-nel in order to “accomplish something” so watered-down that it’s heartbreaking to contemplate next to the need it’s meant to address (health “care” reform, HAMP, e.g.).

  10. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    July 27, 2010

    One of the effects of the Tea Party will act as a yardstick to measure any other developing party against.

    The Republican Party has gone politically insane, the Tea Party acts as refuge for rabid but reliable republicans.

    The big tent of the Democratic Party has accommodated the semi-sane wing of the Republican Party in the form of blue dog conservatives which have taken over the space leaving no room for traditional, liberal, and labour Democrats except at the edges, there is no longer a home in that inn for them.

    Any attempt for disaffected Democrats to form a viable other party organization will be ridiculed as another me-too-Tea Party and by so doing will keep any serious consideration from forming. That opportunity for forming a political party ended when Pelosi took impeachment off the table, the Patriot Act was renewed, and spying on Americans was approved.

    About the only recourse left for Traditional Democrats is to concentrate on local and state offices, national offices are never going to be responsive to Democratic programs. The national system must undergo complete and utter collapse before the Traditional Democrat will ever have a voice in those halls again. The Republican ideology will have to demonstrate absolutely its bankruptcy beyond all doubt and for all time. The destruction of the corporate control of the political process must be complete as well. The undoing of Social Security will show the program was sound, what was not sound was the promise of the government to return the borrowed wealth paid for by the pensioners, but that is another in a long list of crimes against humanity, crimes against the peace, and war crimes perpetrated by the federal government ( federal government legitimacy has not existed since the election of 2000).

  11. Pepe permalink
    July 27, 2010

    If this is the best we’re going to get from the Obama admin and this Dem Congress, then what’s the problem with taking some short term electoral losses in order to get rid of the DINOs?

    A Republican admin wouldn’t be able to destroy SS and medicare/medicaid, but a Dem admin probably could – but hey, at least they aren’t as bad as, wait – what?

  12. July 27, 2010

    If this is the best we’re going to get from the Obama admin and this Dem Congress, then what’s the problem with taking some short term electoral losses in order to get rid of the DINOs?

    *emu gaze*Perhaps Obama agrees with you.*/emu gaze*

  13. July 27, 2010

    Pepe writes:

    what’s the problem with taking some short term electoral losses in order to get rid of the DINOs?

    Nothing at all, in my estimation. In fact, it’s likely to be a whole lot easier to influence the Democrats if the current leadership is either disgraced or at least cautioned by an electoral defeat this go-around.

    Has anyone who thinks we need to just suck it up and help the Democrats win this time thought about what 2012 will be like if the Dems do well? They won’t learn a thing, and in another couple of years this economy will be positively dreadful. Try keeping the GOP out of power then, and in 2012 the White House will be up for grabs again.

  14. July 27, 2010

    Nothing at all, in my estimation. In fact, it’s likely to be a whole lot easier to influence the Democrats if the current leadership is either disgraced or at least cautioned by an electoral defeat this go-around.

    The established pattern is that they seek for more votes further right to compensate for the unreliable left. The Independent-From-The-Neutral-Planet gambit.

  15. Pepe permalink
    July 27, 2010

    Perhaps Obama agrees with you.

    Sometimes I wonder. If he actually believes he’s a post-partisan faery who can float above it all, then maybe. I doubt that he wants to sit through one Congressional investigation after another though.

  16. alyosha permalink
    July 27, 2010

    I’m glad to read of this division. I looked at a lot of photos NN participants posted at DailyKos, and concluded, from the many smiling happy campers, that this was one happy gathering, in fact a fun time that I regrettably missed. On the other hand, being more of a purist, their apparent lack of anger disturbed me, that politics had become so routine, and so resigned to the practical, the status quo. I’m glad to read from your firsthand report that for some, this is not so. I have to keep in mind that being at NN, as well as being a DailyKos participant is being part of a self-selecting group – those who are likely to go are those who still have some faith in the process these vehicles represent, or who have nowhere else to go.

    I’d argue that the Republicans suffer a similar kind of division – with their relatively sane “centrists” (whatever that means) trying to keep the radical Tea Party/Ron Paul types in line. I’d further argue that we are at one of those points in history where polarization and distance in opinion of all points on the political spectrum has increased radically over the last few decades – the political universe expands and contracts regularly, as countries approach crises and resolve them, and I’d say we’re nearing the maximum point of expansion in this cycle of history. Whichever party is best at holding its fringe in line is the party that has an edge in the next election. I’ve often thought that Obama will likely win, by default in 2012, if the Republicans continue to self-destruct.

    But I’d also keep in mind a quote by Noam Chomsky, as reported by Chris Hedges a few months ago:

    “It is very similar to late Weimar Germany,” Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass. “The parallels are striking. There was also[then] tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over.”

    “The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen,” Chomsky went on. “Every charismatic figure [so far] is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, …. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger ….

    “I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime,” Chomsky added. “The mood of the country is frightening. The level of anger, frustration and hatred of institutions is not organized in a constructive way. It is going off into self-destructive fantasies.”

  17. jeer9 permalink
    July 27, 2010

    Ian,
    Thanks for the report from Vegas. Hope you kept your gambling losses to a minimum. The schism you describe shows up clearly if you read a range of Lefty blogs (TPM, Booman, and Balloon Juice: the glass is half full; FDL, Taibbi, and Greenwald: the glass is not only half empty but poisoned as well) and will become even more dramatic as we approach 2012. The system is badly broken and more cycles of Republican fiscal irresponsibility (where is that missing 8.7 billion we spent in Iraq?) followed by Democratic corporate centrist clean-up just keep eroding the middle class. The Right will not change their tactics because they have been so profitable (top 1% now at 1929 levels of wealth), and the Democrats as always understand that the frustrated purists have nowhere else to go. They must hold their noses and vote for the sell-out party. But the sell-out party in this crisis is increasingly viewed as weak tea and incompetent (HAMP, anyone?) by the uninformed and uneducated, and progressives only tarnish themselves by being lumped in with the Big Tent hacks. (Watch as Democrats support the next war supplemental; otherwise, their moderate Republican president looks bad.) While I think reform from within the party is a pleasant, if failed, conceit (it’s big picture planning and the incrementalist future always provides some measure of satisfaction, no matter how small), I also understand why many of the dissatisfied see the third party strategy as pie-in-the-sky crackpot. Yet a third party remains necessary as this recession/depression deepens so that clear distinctions can be made. As it is, blame and responsibility for governmental ineptitude will only continue to become blurred for the vast distracted multitudes if neither party represents solutions and domestic unrest were to become prevalent. Chomsky’s concern about a charismatic plutocrat may seem a bit overblown (Perot without the silly charts?), but there is no denying that the stage has been set for a strong, fearless leader of the private profit/socialized risk variety whose tools will now include an unaccountable security state and an utter disregard for the law by political elites. If the voters are not provided with such an option, we may look back on Bush and Cheney with fondness.

  18. July 27, 2010

    If this is the best we’re going to get from the Obama admin and this Dem Congress, then what’s the problem with taking some short term electoral losses in order to get rid of the DINOs?

    Because, if the Republicans gain power again, they will do a huge amount of damage. Paul Krugman is concerned. There’s also the problem that, even if the Republicans don’t gain power, the Democrats will continue to be seen as ineffectual, and progressive policies as ineffective.

    I don’t think there’s that much risk. The majority is, for the most part, immunized against right-wing ideology. I suppose some international incident might send the country into the arms of the militarists. Perhaps, even, this could be arranged deliberately by an Arab/Islamic country, or by China. But other than that, I think, it will be more same-old same-old.

    Alyosha, I think we are actually past Weimar and into one of our authoritarian periods. This has the obvious negative that we are in an authoritarian period, and fighting pointless, destructive wars. On the other hand, I doubt matters will get much worse: we don’t need to prepare ourselves for a radical-right takeover: these people have shot their bolt.

  19. Pepe permalink
    July 27, 2010

    Because, if the Republicans gain power again, they will do a huge amount of damage.

    Bullshit. Or at least – what’s the fucking difference? (if you were being serious)
    Slightly worse than the Dems, maybe – substantially worse? meh.

  20. July 27, 2010

    The Dems are this bad because we had eight years of Bush. Bush didn’t make them swing to the left, you know.

  21. bob mcmanus permalink
    July 27, 2010

    “Slightly worse than the Dems, maybe – substantially worse? meh.”

    Why vote for the lesser evil? Cthulhu 2012!

  22. July 27, 2010

    Ian writes:

    [The realists] see the attacks from what they consider the “purists” as deeply damaging.

    Good. Since the only way to get a politician’s attention, besides money, is pain, we need to damage them some more.

  23. July 27, 2010

    Further, I’m not sure I completely accept the realist/purist distinction. Take HCR, and assign the single payer advocates the “purist” role, for the sake of the argument. Single payer advocates made the perfectly reasonable, Overton Window-based and realistic argument that including single payer advocacy in the debate would (a) redefine the bounds on acceptable discourse to the left, (b) possibly producing a better bill, and (c) certainly making for a more informed debate the next time around. That’s certainly how conservatives work, so why not copy success?

    The “realists,” however, from the White House on down (which censored them) imposed a news black out on single payer advocates and refused to give the oxygen — as some of them were indeed funded to do.

    In the end, of course, not only did the “savvy” realists not deliver on their so-called public option, they were betrayed from the very beginning by President Obama, who never intended for it to happen. (And how, without an even more extreme pressure from the left, they ever intended to “make him do it”… Well, who knows. The cream of the jest, of course, is that, like the Bourbons, the “realists” have forgotten nothing, and learned nothing: The public option has been reintroduced. So we still aren’t debating a policy option that can actually be shown, by evidence and reasoning to, ya know, work. Worse, we’re still tinkering around the edges of a fundamentally ne0-liberal, market-based solution.

    So, “realist” or not, I’d say the realist camp — which was in the leadership position for the entire HCR battle –has failed both tactically and strategically. Tactically, they were betrayed by Obama, and they went into battle with divided forces. Strategically, they had no clear war aims. Since the public option was nothing other than a vacuous marketing slogan to begin with, it could hardly have been otherwise.

    Naturally, with a record of complete FAIL, I’m sure the realists will do very well in Versailles, and shortly begin to double down on everything they did wrong in 2008-2009. Yay!

  24. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 27, 2010

    I was characterizing both side in the way the opposing side characterizes them.

  25. Lori permalink
    July 27, 2010

    The reason the second group has no credibility in the real world is that Obama offers no leadership that leads to policies that make the lives of ordinary people better. A Democratic president who simply sucks up to the wealthy and preserves their wealth, isn’t a Democrat worth electing.

    This is what the NetRoots get for tolerating his abuses of the caucus states and the primary process. Had Michigan and Florida not been disenfranchised and had the thuggery in the caucuses not been tolerated, we would have a president who won honestly. But we don’t. We have a president who landed in office because he’s a bully willing to not count the votes. Count all the votes, you get Gore/Kerry/Clinton. Don’t count all the votes, you get Bush/Obama. It really is that simple.

    The netroots endorsed the corruption and got a corrupt president. No surprise.

  26. July 27, 2010

    Jeer9:

    TPM, Booman, and Balloon Juice: the glass is half full; FDL, Taibbi, and Greenwald: the glass is not only half empty but poisoned as well

    Corrente: The glass is smashed, and the elite is forcing us to eat the broken bits, say we like it, and pay loanshark rates to replace the glass that they broke in the first place.

  27. Pepe permalink
    July 27, 2010

    @Lori

    Yeah – if Clinton had won, we’d have Jamie Dimon as Treasury Secretary, and Lieberman as Sec of State – we’d be in a shangri-la.

  28. Bernard permalink
    July 27, 2010

    yes we are way past Weimar, way way past Weimar. why do we need a charismatic leader but to finish us off quickly. lol.

    these crooks/thieves have done good for themselves. it really is well past hope and change now, lol. the Obamabots are proof of that. the morality play is over and those in charge really like how well it has gone for them. as we are in uncharted territory now, the future will be quite interesting.

    the outcome probably will take time, since there will be only be right wingers able to lead, as the Village prefers.
    read the history of how different states evolved out of the Roman Empire to get an idea of what is possible here.

    not that i wanted to live in that kind of America, but here we are.

  29. Lori permalink
    July 27, 2010

    Pepe,

    A moronic assessment that cannot be sustained by looking at her voting record. That’s the kind of stupidity that has foisted the worst Democratic president in 150 years on us. How you can look at someone who votes with Boxer far more often than Feinstein does, and dozens of times more than Lieberman does, and come up with that assessment is beyond the reasoning skills of people who base their assessments on real criteria – such as the full context of people’s voting patterns and people’s lifetime accomplishments. The assessment of obama as a liberal was based entirely on rhetoric, and was at odds with his actual voting, and his utter lack of accomplishment as a liberal. You had to be gullible to buy Obama as anything to the left of Bush.

    Obama and his supporters are as stupid, hysterical and bigoted as the jokers who elected Bush. And no, they aren’t liberals. They’re Obama fan boys, pure and simple.

    But thanks, we needed a reminder of the extraordinary ignorance that foisted on obama on us.

    In the end, you tolerated a corrupt primary process and got a corrupt president.

  30. July 27, 2010

    I agree:

    you tolerated a corrupt primary process and got a corrupt president

    But the deterioration 2008 – 2010 seems terribly swift to me. Accelerating, if anything. (Who would have thought Versailles would be normalizing 10% (nominal) unemployment? Not me. Not cynical enough.) What a majority of the Ds voters felt was right in 2008 may not be right, or even relevant, today.

  31. Lori permalink
    July 27, 2010

    What the Obama campaign did was flatter the netroots and play to their misogynistic tendencies. I remember WKJM posting the link to the Clinton 1984 video and describing it as clever – well, only in the same way that Jesse Helms campaigns ads were clever.

    The netroots cannot be effective if they’re dishonest and they haven’t had the nerve to tackle the fact that they never looked at Obama’s past critically, and they never assessed Clinton’s entire voting record, nor her lifetime of progressive, liberal, lefty accomplishments – whatever you want to call it. She had the background and the voting record they were looking for. Obama never did. Whether it was his utter lack of accomplishment at Harvard, as a guest lecturer, as a civil rights attorney, as a state legislator, or as a US senator, no one had any real world reason to see anything other than a dilettante, mostly interested in sucking up to wealth.

    You can’t be a Democrat and stand for integrity if you tolerate corrupt processes by the pols you prefer. Nor can you expect a candidate who ran a personality based campaign while trashing the genuine liberal accomplishments of someone to his left.

    Obama is basically Jesse Helms. He ran a dishonest, hysterical and bigoted campaign and got himself elected. No feminist has any cause to be surprised – what he made clear is that he hates women and he hates gays. Until the netroots acknowledges what they tolerated, they will remain irrelevant.

  32. Pepe permalink
    July 27, 2010

    Clinton is part of the problem, not the solution – fangirl.

  33. bayville permalink
    July 27, 2010

    I don’t know how anyone can take the “Obama is the greatest liberal president since FDR” types seriously – especially the ones I saw parading around at GibberishFest10.

    If that claim were true, wouldn’t the Dem Congresscritters be begging Obama to criss cross the country campaigning for all them. They would be bragging that they helped FDR Jr. pass all those great New New Deal laws. Afterall, last time I checked, FDR was pretty popular in this country and particularly among old-time Dems.

    Instead, the “realists”,who – by and large – concede Dems will lose 40 seats in the House are championing filibuter reform (zzzzz) because Obama hasn’t been able to implement his kind of legislation.
    That begs the question: if Obama is FDR, why complain about the filibuster?

    Additionally, Congressional leadership has actually committed to voting on recommendations made by the Catfood Commission (a sensible Presidential Order, right?). The group pledging to gut Social Security thus forcing working class citizens to work into their 70’s.

    And they’re doing this during an election year!

    Meanwhile, these realists call the “Teabaggers” stoopid.

  34. July 27, 2010

    If that claim were true, wouldn’t the Dem Congresscritters be begging Obama to criss cross the country campaigning for all them. They would be bragging that they helped FDR Jr. pass all those great New New Deal laws. Afterall, last time I checked, FDR was pretty popular in this country and particularly among old-time Dems.

    Not necessarily so. Obama could be an awesome liberal president (not saying that he is, of course) and Dem congresscritters could *still* be shying away from him.

  35. MAWM permalink
    July 27, 2010

    For me, it all started with the primaries in 2008. The veil was ripped from my eyes and I realized that the Dems are just as corrupt as the Republicans. I refuse to accept the cheating that went on, and I’ll never think of the “Net Roots” as my allies again. All they were and are are sycophants to the Empty suit.

    Democrat=Republican=Corporate Interests

    Vote against incumbents

  36. July 27, 2010

    The so-called “purist” position, taken to the lengths to which some people would take it, yields nothing good unless it’s accompanied by a expressible political alternative. At best, it is an acquiescence to a collapse that will look like a boot worn by Mel Gibson stomping on a human face forever.

    For example, this

    Further, I’m not sure I completely accept the realist/purist distinction. Take HCR, and assign the single payer advocates the “purist” role, for the sake of the argument. Single payer advocates made the perfectly reasonable, Overton Window-based and realistic argument that including single payer advocacy in the debate would (a) redefine the bounds on acceptable discourse to the left, (b) possibly producing a better bill, and (c) certainly making for a more informed debate the next time around. That’s certainly how conservatives work, so why not copy success?

    assumes that single payer advocacy would “redefine the bounds of acceptable discourse to the left.” But it seems just as likely that it would have been used as a propagandistic foil to portray the entire HCR effort as even more of a Commie conspiracy than it already was being portrayed. That would not only push the Overton Window to the right, it may have nixed the entire effort and no HCR of any sort may have been accomplished.

  37. 4jkb4ia permalink
    July 27, 2010

    I wanted to note that just as a blind pig digs up an acorn once in a while, I agree with Ian– that the two sides have to keep listening to each other. Otherwise I will have to keep biting my tongue and saying, “Sin of joining a machloches”. Also otherwise the two sides will fail to recognize the existence of good people in both camps.

    I also commented because Joe Lieberman as Secretary of State is hyperbole. Jacob Lew is an example of many Clinton loyalists that HRC knows who would come first for that job. HRC would also realize that John Kerry really, really wanted that job.

  38. 4jkb4ia permalink
    July 27, 2010

    (I see Lambert again!)

  39. July 27, 2010

    To put it crudely and unfairly to both sides, it’s the sell-outs without principles against the purists without realism. And many of them do put it that way. The netroots are split, in a very real way. Life was easy when we could all agree that Bush was the worst American president in over a hundred years and all turn our guns on Republicans with the occasional shot at what we considered apostate Democrats like Lieberman. The in-your-face discovery that people not much better ideologically than Lieberman run the Democratic party and determine its policies has split the tribe and turned brother against brother. It’s not all-out war, not even close, but there is a disdain, bitterness and contempt between the two sides which is very real, and very dangerous.

    The problem is, in 2007-2008, a good chunk of the grassroots/netroots American left thought that after eight years of Bush, the contradictions in American society had grown so obvious that even the elite would be forced to take stock and turn the ship of state around, and the people were ready to make the elite do so.

    But with American politics having been frozen since pretty much 1980, it should seem rather naive and silly for them to have thought so. The American right worked 40 years to get us here, using vehicles they clearly consider to be inadequate. Is the American left ready to produce the kinds of institutions required to do so, or make use of existing ones, and ready to persevere at a consistent strategy for at least half that time? Or as soon as the Republicans are out of power, fall to spitting in the eyes of those who have some flawed, partly even self-interested way of doing so?

  40. 4jkb4ia permalink
    July 27, 2010

    I am not sure that Ian was right about the bailout and Republicans’ prospects looking as good as they are. Voters may not be aware that much of TARP has been paid back, but the issue of “debt” and “spending” that the Republicans are using is building on the deficit that they created themselves before the bailout was ever heard of. Financialization and service-sector-ization of the economy so that there are few prospects for new jobs is a bigger issue than “the bailout”.

  41. Lori permalink
    July 27, 2010

    Pepe,

    yeah, instead of slinging insults (about the extent of Obama fan boy talents), square that with her overall voting record and her accomplishments for ordinary people while First Lady of Arkansas and of the US.

    Want to bet you have no idea how she votes overall and that you can’t name a single accomplishment from her Arkansas days that helped ordinary people.

    Obama ran a personality based campaigns. People who liked being flattered fell for it. Clinton ran an issues based campaign and people who like being flattered, ignored it and went with the hysteria dished out by the bigots in the Obama camp. It’s that simple.

    You elected the worst Democratic president in over a century, and one whose abysmal voting record was clearly to the right of Clinton’s.

  42. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 27, 2010

    4jkb4ia – the bailout and stimulus’s failures are what led to the job problems. The bailout is what made it so that financialization wasn’t crushed, which it would have been if folks had been forced to take their losses.

  43. July 27, 2010

    A big part of the problem is economic reductionism. If the voting preferences of citizens were clearly reducible to their own obvious individual economic self-interest, then very few current congressbeings would be in office. But this is not the case. Many people in the “purist” camp seem to have the tendency to view the transaction between politics and citizens as one of stealing wealth and giving nothing back. They are right in a narrow sense, but the political elites are giving something back; it’s just not a tangible resource.

  44. July 28, 2010

    I’ve been admonished not to feed trolls. If somebody wishes to restate whatever point Mandos is making with evidence, I’ll be more than happy to engage them.

  45. July 28, 2010

    4jkb4ia, it doesn’t matter that TARP was paid back; that’s just a D talking point. See Yves:

    [T]he key metric as to whether the deal was a good deal is not the speed of repayment, as the Adminstration’s boosterism implies, but whether the deal was a good one given market conditions as of October 2008. Answer: not at all. The deal was lousy on its face, and it did NOT serve to advance what should have been the overarching objective, namely, putting the industry on sounder terms, say by using the leverage to extract key concessions.

  46. July 28, 2010

    I am not sure that Ian was right about the bailout and Republicans’ prospects looking as good as they are. Voters may not be aware that much of TARP has been paid back, but the issue of “debt” and “spending” that the Republicans are using is building on the deficit that they created themselves before the bailout was ever heard of. Financialization and service-sector-ization of the economy so that there are few prospects for new jobs is a bigger issue than “the bailout”.

    Bingo. And the wall-to-wall economic consensus of the elite of either party has been for a long time that the service sector can successfully replace manufacturing. That is the real discussion and the banks are almost a sideshow.

  47. brad permalink
    July 28, 2010

    Well, to be fair, there are a lot of people like Krugman who have been pretty critical but also willing to praise the Obama administration when appropriate (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/an-upward-trend/).

    Whatever the case, I guess where I fall, as a realist is that, given the circumstances, Obama is doing reasonably well. He didn’t almost wind up in a world war, a la kennedy. He, unlike Bill Clinton, managed to not just get a decent health bill out of committee but passed into law. Etc. Which isn’t to say that I don’t have my disappointments with the president. However, when discussing these things with the “purist” camp, I often feel the need to muster up more of a defense than I might otherwise, mostly not because I disagree with the principles–I’m pretty liberal–but because I feel like the standards are unrealistic.

    Anyway, as someone above said, I do think it’s important to keep talking in an open, and hopefully constructive way and to make sure that a division that’s essentially tactical doesn’t overshadow a lot of genuine agreement on the much more important issues of how to govern.

  48. July 28, 2010

    Ian:

    4jkb4ia – the bailout and stimulus’s failures are what led to the job problems. The bailout is what made it so that financialization wasn’t crushed, which it would have been if folks had been forced to take their losses.

    The bailout and stimulus made the job problems apparent but permanently higher employment was in the cards no matter what event eventually popped the housing bubble or what attempts were made to temporarily alleviate the symptoms. Attempts to reinflate the bubble were the only available way to prevent an even faster decline in wages/rise in unemployment. That’s why some of the liberal-ish well-meaning mainstream economists (e.g. DeLong) were massively in favour of the bailouts.

    You can want to clamp down and punish Wall Street and more power to you, but it doesn’t change the simple fact that American labour is more expensive than Chinese labour, and as much as we may wish it so, former manufacturing workers in the Rust Belt are not about to become IT contractors en masse (promptly to be outsourced to India).

  49. July 28, 2010

    Brad:

    However, when discussing these things with the “purist” camp, I often feel the need to muster up more of a defense than I might otherwise, mostly not because I disagree with the principles–I’m pretty liberal–but because I feel like the standards are unrealistic.

    Not just that, but the goalposts are moved by the “purists” to support an unsupportable conclusion. The reality is that even a single neutrino of difference is meaningful and a complete answer if the “purist” camp has no idea how electing e.g. Cthulhu 2012 is going to lead to progressive nirvana.

  50. S Brennan permalink
    July 28, 2010

    I read this post and said to myself this will lure the idiot trolls to surface…

    …thankz manbos, pepe et al, you guys are broken clock I can count on!

  51. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 28, 2010

    No, Mandos, that’s simply not true. China isn’t spending 10% of their entire GDP to manipulate currency rates because a labor price advantage is all they need. Sorry, you’re just plain wrong on this one. American manufacturing productivity is still a metric fuckload higher than Chinese productivity. There are a number of other factors as well, such as the fact that financialization pushes out good profits in exchange for fraudulent profits and the free flows of funds which destroy the ability of comparative advantage to actually work (something fools like DeLong don’t get.)

    You get one thread of the rope and you think it’s the entire rope. There are a ton of ways to deal with labor cost disparities (and that’s only one part of the cost disparities). You have to, however, be willing to do so. And right now US elites (and arguably the citizens) simply aren’t willing to do so.

    Nothing significant in the US can be fixed as long as the rich are so obscenely rich and therefore powerful. You don’t fix that, you can’t fix squat.

    Globalization is also not inevitable and whenever I see someone arguing that it is, I know they don’t know their economic history or if they do, somehow choose to ignore it. In relative terms the late 19th century and early 20th was more globalized than we are today, and that sure as hell came to an end. A few key governments could end globalization tomorrow. It is entirely a political decision.

    As for the rest of it, you continually argue that even one cent (one neutrino) is worth taking. I love to bargain with people like you, because you will give me 99.9% of the profit and take .1%, because hey, it’s better than nothing. And if the Dems only end 3/4’s of civil rights, hey, vote for them!

    Yeah, great. With that sort of strategy, all you’re doing is slowing the descent into hell. And not even by much. By one neutrino.

  52. brad permalink
    July 28, 2010

    And just to add to my previous comment–I’ve been reading through this thread at Paul Krugman’s site (http://community.nytimes.com/comments/krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/the-warren-mystery/?sort=oldest&offset=6) this evening, and what I’ve been struck by is how certain his commenters seem to be that the only possible or remotely acceptable option for the head of the consumer finance protection agency is Elizabeth Warren. And she seems like a perfectly good choice! I’ve read a bit of her writing and heard her interviewed and respect her and so on. But it’s not like it would be a sellout to the devil if someone else qualified who will do the job well gets nominated. It’s not like she’s the only person in America who can do the job–she may, in fact, not be the best person to do the job, or there may be some intervening factor that would make it hard or impossible to nominate her. I really don’t know–and the reality is that unless you’re an expert in consumer finance law and in understanding congress, you probably don’t know either.

    In this sense, I guess what I’ve been struck by is the feeling I’ve observed among the purists that the Obama administration is a collection of distrustful, deceitful betrayers. It makes those of us who feel like the administration is a well-intentioned group of people doing their best to do a mind-bogglingly difficult job a lot more likely to want to jump to their defense.

  53. beowulf permalink
    July 28, 2010

    It makes those of us who feel like the administration is a well-intentioned group of people doing their best to do a mind-bogglingly difficult job…

    If that job is to sell out the country to lobbyists while convincing the rubes, on the right and left, that they are the most liberal administration in history, then I’d say they’re doing just fine.

    What has been surprising is that Democrats on the Hill have gone along so readily. Its hard to imagine that if John McCain had won Congress would have passed legislation any more conservative than what they’ve passed for Obama. Maybe foreign policy would be different, but probably not. President McCain would left Bush’s SecDef Bob Gates in place and would have brought in his friend and supporter General Jones as National Security Advisor.

  54. July 28, 2010

    Pepe–that’s a Spanish nickname. Are you Mexican, or is your family? How would you feel if the radical right turned the Mexican border into a thousand-mile-long killing field? There’s those as would.

  55. anon2525 permalink
    July 28, 2010

    Globalization is also not inevitable and whenever I see someone arguing that it is, I know they don’t know their economic history or if they do, somehow choose to ignore it.

    “Inevitable globalization” is a catch phrase that doesn’t really describe much of current trade, economic, or political reality. That the phrase has so many unthinking users, and the concept so many unthinking boosters – especially among America’s political elite – is disturbing. The American people are being force-fed a concept that lets their leadership off the hook. How, for example, can it be expected to provide jobs if the omnipotent forces of globalization trump anything it might do? The American people are expected to be docile and accept whatever fate globalization hands them. But in reality, globalization means that national policies are more important than ever, so our political leaders need to start getting these policies right – or eventually suffer the consequences.

    The Myth of the Global Economy

  56. July 28, 2010

    How would you feel if the radical right turned the Mexican border into a thousand-mile-long killing field? There’s those as would.

    My, what a huge strawman you have!

    Ask me how I would feel when the Democrats I supported kept buying the guns and bullets after they regained power.

  57. bob mcmanus permalink
    July 28, 2010

    “Globalization is also not inevitable”

    I am not so sure. There is probably a quote from Marx or Hilferding somewhere about the reproduction of Capital.

    In any case, the interruption of globalization or global financialization may look more at this stage like global depression, global revolution, or global war than local protectionism or nationalism or self-sufficiency or isolationism.

    Too late. We are running out of oil.

  58. BDBlue permalink
    July 28, 2010

    assumes that single payer advocacy would “redefine the bounds of acceptable discourse to the left.” But it seems just as likely that it would have been used as a propagandistic foil to portray the entire HCR effort as even more of a Commie conspiracy than it already was being portrayed.

    This ignores the key part of the appeal of single payer advocacy – Medicare is extremely popular and not just on the “left”. What the hell do you think drove all that “keep your government out of my Medicare”? People fucking love Medicare.

    The proof of its power is the fact it had to be silenced. That’s the tell. If it would’ve simply discredited the left, you can bet that single payer advocates would’ve been trotted out at Baucus’s hearings and the White House. But they were completely shut out. The reason is that unlike so many other healthcare proposals – it’s hard to demonize Medicare because people already know it and like it. Public option is easy to demonize – 1) nobody knows what it is and 2) it’s not very good policy, it’s a half-way measure that’s obviously half-way.

    But I’m really very tired of the bullshit about how unsellable Medicare for All is to the American public. Because it’s not. If you don’t believe me, wait until the anger that comes about when Obama’s deficit commission cuts it. “Keep government out of my Medicare” indeed!

  59. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 28, 2010

    Bob,

    if they won’t fix globalizational rationally before it goes into terminal crisis, then yeah, it’ll end in some very bad ways. There are some fairly simple things which could have been done (still can) to make it work properly. In particular, I’ll refer you and others to my article Ricardo’s Caveat

  60. July 28, 2010

    Your link goes to this post.

    You wanted this one: here.

  61. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 28, 2010

    Oops, forgot the =’s. Thanks.

  62. Pepe permalink
    July 28, 2010

    The last presidential primaries did not start the Dem party’s problems. Obama is not the disease, he’s a symptom (although, I think he’s bad for the country). Talking about HRC is a distraction. She’s a fully-fledged member of Versailles. She really is part of the problem.

  63. Eureka Springs permalink
    July 28, 2010

    Continued needless wars.
    No Green America energy policy.
    All we know about secret government.
    The fact we will not take care of every individuals health care needs for as far into the future as we can see, while raising the already highest costs in the world.

    all stop!

    Every issue I can think of, just the basic discussion put forth by Dims fails miserably. I think the starting point of every issue / fight tells us all we need to know. Dims consistently sellout before they ever begin a negotiation. SOmeone call me when they spend more time declaring what really needs to be accomplished first. The problem is Dims agree with republicans in Versailles so much that they can’t even drum up decent seemingly divisive theatre anymore.

    If common sense, common good, liberty and rule of law, as well as clean energy, solid employment doing something productive and honest on a living wage are all things which make me a purist, so be it.

    I don’t give a damn if my alternatives – third party or not voting at all- are not viable. I say to the two party Versailles system… you are not viable.

    Thanks so much for the report, Ian.

  64. July 28, 2010

    Brad writes:

    In this sense, I guess what I’ve been struck by is the feeling I’ve observed among the purists that the Obama administration is a collection of distrustful, deceitful betrayers.

    As is well-known, feelings aren’t facts. As to facts on betrayal:

    1. The Big O’s flip-flop on FISA.

    2. TARP (normalized Bush/Paulson bailouts with no accountability and no transparency)

    3. HAMP

    4. And even the vacuous and ever-redefined public option.

    5. The normalization of Bush’s executive power grabs.

    I think a “realist,” as opposed to an Obama apologist posing as a realist, would expect betrayal, given the record.

  65. July 28, 2010

    On single payer, BDBlue slices through the trollish obfuscation:

    [T]he key part of the appeal of single payer advocacy – Medicare is extremely popular and not just on the “left”. What the hell do you think drove all that “keep your government out of my Medicare”? People fucking love Medicare.

    The proof of its power is the fact it had to be silenced. That’s the tell. If it would’ve simply discredited the left, you can bet that single payer advocates would’ve been trotted out at Baucus’s hearings and the White House. But they were completely shut out.

    Exactly. And of course, they’ll do the same thing all over again the next round — our troll being a leading indicator of that. Versailles always rewards doubling down on FAIL, and the Obama apologists are nothing if not creatures of Versailles.

  66. July 28, 2010

    Ian in re trade:

    I’m not sure how exactly you are disagreeing with me on trade and labour—especially since I think that globalization is a political choice as well. It’s a political choice in the sense that a whole lot of effort went into denying that it necessarily entailed the immiseration of the US working class: the open border was always supposed to be the net winner. In theory.

    I’m guessing your disagreement with me is in the sort of chicken-and-egg problem in the relationship between the tendency towards financialization and the destruction of American manufacturing: which came “first”, and which of these is more responsible for the US current employment predicament and wealth disparities.

    To assign blame for the employment catastrophe to financialization, you would have to explain why wages were stagnant for multiple decades starting from before the repeal of the main existing protections against financial hooliganry—and the only time they started to recover was during the tech boom. The tech boom was a bubble too, but it temporarily generated new classes of higher-wage labour that they hadn’t the infrastructure to labour-arbitrage down at the time. The tech boom period is the proverbial exception that proves the rule.

    It doesn’t matter what China does or doesn’t do in this context, or what American productivity really is. China’s currency manipulations allow it to hoard the benefits of labour arbitrage and the destruction of American manufacturing, but there are lots of low-wage, low-cost areas to leverage against the American worker. If I’m understanding you correctly, you’d be right if it were the case that when Chinese wages rise, American exports would pick up to the point where higher wages would once again be supportible.

    In that sense, globalization caused financialization, not the other way around. The—yes—political choice to adopt bad economic theories on trade led to a situation in which only less productive sectors could support the American economy. And you don’t get more unproductive than CDSs…

  67. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 28, 2010

    It’s not primarily about labor costs. It is about the ability to run huge balance of payment deficits for long times, it is about the ability to manipulate currencies (10% of China’s GDP is a huge amount of money), it is about the red-queen’s race of competing rich people which is between the US and the oilarchies, not China. Notice that when things changed it was around the oil shocks and stagflation period. That period created a new class of hugely rich people in the oilarchies. If the US’s rich had not been allowed to play financial games and get fake profits, if taxes had not been dropped through the floor, and so on, then they would have bought up control of key US industries.

    There were other ways to deal with this.

    I will note also that the problem has metastasized. It’s like when you go into the hospital with problem X and it gets worse and soon you have a pile of problems. Financialization includes free financial flows. Don’t allow them, and foreigners can’t buy up your industry in huge amounts and what they do buy up they can’t move offshore rapidly.

    The original Keynes plan for Bretton Woods was to massively penalize anyone with either a large balance of payments deficit or surplus. Either. Because both are indicative of problems and both short circuit comparative advantage.

    Imagine a world in which the US could not run these huge balance of payment negatives. What would happen? Instead of jobs running endlessly out of country, because the capital was stuck in the country it would have to be used to do things in the country rather than build factories overseas. The financial bubbles would not be nearly as large if they existed at all. Without huge amounts of overseas buyers, neither the internet bubble nor the housing bubble, if they exist at all, ever get to the heights they were at. Does not happen.

  68. July 28, 2010

    This ignores the key part of the appeal of single payer advocacy – Medicare is extremely popular and not just on the “left”. What the hell do you think drove all that “keep your government out of my Medicare”? People fucking love Medicare.

    We’ve been over this. People on the right love Medicare—for themselves.

    The proof of its power is the fact it had to be silenced. That’s the tell. If it would’ve simply discredited the left, you can bet that single payer advocates would’ve been trotted out at Baucus’s hearings and the White House. But they were completely shut out. The reason is that unlike so many other healthcare proposals – it’s hard to demonize Medicare because people already know it and like it. Public option is easy to demonize – 1) nobody knows what it is and 2) it’s not very good policy, it’s a half-way measure that’s obviously half-way.

    Now this is the question-begging part. The Democrats wanted to be able to claim that they had passed some HCR bill. That was something in which they had become completely invested—and rightly so. If they had carted out single-payer, it’s just as likely that they would have gotten no bill.

    How much older right-wingers love Medicare is not any kind of evidence for whether a Medicare-for-All proposal could have passed.

    But I’m really very tired of the bullshit about how unsellable Medicare for All is to the American public. Because it’s not. If you don’t believe me, wait until the anger that comes about when Obama’s deficit commission cuts it. “Keep government out of my Medicare” indeed!

    Yes, “out of my Medicare. But you can cut the indigent off Medicaid, those moochers should get a jawb.”

    For the USA to achieve single-payer, it has to elect candidates to Congress who—in large numbers—support a single-payer system. To do that, you need more than a survey telling you how much people love their Medicare.

  69. brad permalink
    July 28, 2010

    But I’m really very tired of the bullshit about how unsellable Medicare for All is to the American public. Because it’s not. If you don’t believe me, wait until the anger that comes about when Obama’s deficit commission cuts it. “Keep government out of my Medicare” indeed!

    It’s not that Medicare for all is unsaleable to the american public in a vaccum; it’s unsaleable to doctors and hopsitals, who would make a lot less money under such a system, who would have taken to the airwaves bashing health reform. This, for example, was one of the major factors killing health reform under Truman. (The AMA has a long history of killing reform.)

  70. July 28, 2010

    We’ve been over this. People on the right love Medicare—for themselves.

    Yeah, but they sure fell all over themselves to support Obamacare. The votes in Congress were a textbook example of bipartisan unity.

  71. July 28, 2010

    Ian:

    I don’t think we disagree on the basic point that capital must be prevented from leaking from the USA in large quantities or that an enormously negative balance of payments is a problem. I think we may disagree on the, um, ranking order of reasons why it happened and how to deal with it. Like I said.

    One of the means by which China, Japan, etc, turn the situation to their advantage is by being extremely protectionist in their own manner, and rightly so for their national interests. That includes the currency peg, but it includes other more direct and indirect policies. That to me is the evidence of the essential role of industrial and trade policy—similarly managed US protectionism—in the resolution to this crisis. And it includes limits on the type and nature of foreign investment—something that China definitely has, as do the oilarchies, implicitly or explicitly.

  72. Ches permalink
    July 28, 2010

    This is what the NetRoots get for tolerating his abuses of the caucus states and the primary process. Had Michigan and Florida not been disenfranchised and had the thuggery in the caucuses not been tolerated, we would have a president who won honestly. But we don’t. We have a president who landed in office because he’s a bully willing to not count the votes. Count all the votes, you get Gore/Kerry/Clinton. Don’t count all the votes, you get Bush/Obama. It really is that simple.

    Yes yes yes. We could have had a democrat, but instead we allowed a big phony to bully his way to the nomination. Since when did voters stop counting to the DNC? And to think I used to be such a fan.

    2010 July 27 Pepe permalink
    @Lori

    Yeah – if Clinton had won, we’d have Jamie Dimon as Treasury Secretary, and Lieberman as Sec of State – we’d be in a shangri-la.

    Yeah, with Clinton we might have gotten Rahm Emanuel running the country…….ooops, wait, we did.

    Dear Pepe, try sticking with facts rather than banal insults. Clinton is and always was more progressive than Obama… and PS, she made him look like the back bencher he was and is during the debates.
    What was one of her first actions as Sec Of State? It was giving benefits to same sex partners. What has Obama done about DADT and DOMA? Nothing.
    He has excalated the war, he is beholden to lobbyiests and Corporations.
    Your talking points just sound silly at this point.

  73. July 28, 2010

    myiq:

    Yeah, but they sure fell all over themselves to support Obamacare. The votes in Congress were a textbook example of bipartisan unity.

    The Republicans are committed to oppose in a British-Parliamentary manner of opposition, to their advantage, of course. The negotiation largely ended up being with Democrats who feel that their seats are vulnerable to pressure from the right. These Democrats do in fact really truly exist. They aren’t a figment of Obama’s imagination.

    Unelecting them may create a slightly more “pure” leftist Democratic party, but won’t push American politics leftward as a whole.

  74. Ches permalink
    July 28, 2010

    Clinton is part of the problem, not the solution – fangirl.

    I am sure that Lori’s will is wilting in the face of your brilliant argument.

  75. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 28, 2010

    Mandos: I’d go either way. They change what they do, or the US does what they do.

  76. Ches permalink
    July 28, 2010

    Pepe permalink
    The last presidential primaries did not start the Dem party’s problems. Obama is not the disease, he’s a symptom (although, I think he’s bad for the country). Talking about HRC is a distraction. She’s a fully-fledged member of Versailles. She really is part of the problem.

    Based on what Dear? I am guessing you are one of those people who thought voting for Nader was a really good idea because Gore was just like Bush.

  77. July 28, 2010

    Mandos: I’d go either way. They change what they do, or the US does what they do.

    The problem is that there is a whole world of countries that can do what they do, in particular those that are low-wage and/or have the same sort of oligarchies or have some form of essential resource. In that environment, the only answer is that the US must change its own practices.

    I can’t find the post anymore, but I vaguely remember Yves Smith mentioning that it might simply be a law of nature that you can have any two of democracy, national governments, and unrestricted global trade, but not all three. (Or was she quoting someone else? I can’t find the right search terms to bring up the most so maybe I am imagining it.)

    The world is not yet ready to give up national governments…

  78. BDBlue permalink
    July 28, 2010

    People on the right love Medicare—for themselves

    I was going to go pull all the polls showing that a majority of Americans – in some polls as many as 60%, which is a huge consensus on any issue – actually support Medicare for All. They don’t just support it for themselves. But since you’re so wedded to the idea that Americans – the people – will never support anything like this, I’d be wasting my time. I’ll only note that you have a habit of doing what the elite do, which is declare something the American people believe even as polls show they don’t believe that at all. Ian did a post on how the American people were way out in front on healthcare, much more willing to support radical change than the elite were. Just as Americans are out in front on legalizing marijuana, as they’re doing through state inititatives. Sometimes our leaders are genuinely hamstrung by the people, but a lot of times they aren’t (witness how the opposition to torture lasted through the entire Bush Administration). They’re just an excuse.

  79. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 28, 2010

    The sheer size of the Chinese population is the issue. Everyone larger than a city state modernizes behind protectionist barriers of one kind or another. Everyone. I am not aware of a single exception. The only other country as large is India, and they have, ummm, issues. They are also rather more reasonable to deal with.

  80. anon2525 permalink
    July 28, 2010

    For the USA to achieve single-payer, it has to elect candidates to Congress who—in large numbers—support a single-payer system.

    This is unlikely to be the route to reform. The route is likely to be systemic failure — a crisis in which a large portion of the population cannot afford to buy insurance. At present, we have a too small portion that cannot — the now famous “40,000/year” who die from lack of insurance, or the 45 million who do not have any insurance. The number has been this high for decades (it was 35 to 40 million when Clinton made his attempt back in the 90s) without having any effect, much like the nine to ten thousand handgun deaths per year has no effect on getting gun control passed.

    Political pressure had finally built to the point where the country was going to override the rent-seekers interests, when Obama pulled off the scam that let out some steam and reduced that pressure. It will build again because the scam doesn’t end the rent seeking. Not only will money be collected from more people (using the IRS, if necessary) but the rates will be higher.

    The monopolists cannot help themselves — they will always justify higher and higher budgets: there will always be a need to hire more people, to raise salaries (above inflation), to buy more expensive equipment, to buy new patented drugs. And more companies will dump the paying of the premiums onto their employees, who will then buy the least insurance that they can afford (highest deductible, highest co-pays), effectively paying all of their bills themselves until they get unlucky enough to actually need insurance for a high-cost bill. Many of them will then go bankrupt or join the “annual 40,000.”

    “Japanification”? More like (collapse of) “Russification.”

  81. July 28, 2010

    BDBlue:

    I’ll only note that you have a habit of doing what the elite do, which is declare something the American people believe even as polls show they don’t believe that at all. Ian did a post on how the American people were way out in front on healthcare, much more willing to support radical change than the elite were. Just as Americans are out in front on legalizing marijuana, as they’re doing through state inititatives.

    (One of) My problem(s) with the “purist” camp, particularly on the matter of health care, is the confusion of what people want (or say they want) with what they’ll do. I’m well aware of the polling you mention. Polls tell you what people want. But what people do at the ballot box, which is the important part, is another kettle of fish.

    Politicians and political consultants pay a lot of money for people to use more advanced analysis tools. One such tool happens to be values inventories. Other polling organizations have expanded on this work and generated their own values inventories and polling techniques, and politicians don’t pay them for nothing.

    My skepticism of the American single-payer movement greatly increased when I read the reasons why one of its prominent leaders discounted polling that suggested that single-payer was harder to sell at the ballot box than otherwise considered. It meant that the movement was likely pretty much electorally disarmed if their main response to Celinda Lake was mere incredulity.

  82. July 28, 2010

    anon2525: I wouldn’t rely on collapse to bring the USA to something better. You may get lucky but only occasionally.

  83. anon2525 permalink
    July 28, 2010

    I am guessing you are one of those people who thought voting for Nader was a really good idea because Gore was just like Bush.

    Voting for Nader was a really, really good idea. Unfortunately, not enough people had that idea for him to get elected. He has been nothing but prescient in his description of the two parties as variations of one corporate party.

    Since we’re mocking, I am guessing you are one of those people who thought voting for Obama was a really good idea because he wouldn’t be a continuation of Bush.

  84. anon2525 permalink
    July 28, 2010

    I wouldn’t rely on collapse to bring the USA to something better. You may get lucky but only occasionally.

    (You mean like the reforms that came about from the First Great Depression?)

    It’s not a matter of relying on collapse. It’s a matter of there is no other mechanism for reform. Representative democracy has broken down. Only organized minorities with money have a say in anything substantive that is included in legislation, that is, lobbyists write the laws. The rest of us simply participate in elections. Who is elected has not effected the medical-services industry in sixty years or century of striving, depending on what frame of reference you choose.

    The remaining peaceful mechanisms that we who are not lobbyists or their funders have for affecting change are large, organized strikes and large acts of civil disobedience.

  85. July 28, 2010

    I notice you did not mention state secrets, assassination, torture.

    Maybe that’s not by accident. Notions like “realism” or “pragmatism” do not really stand up when we hit the rock bottom of open society and rule of law.

    The “netroots” have no power, hence they shoould leave concerns about feasibility to those that do, and focus on calling a hatchet man a hatchet man. “Pragmatism” is just another word for self-censorship. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and stand for what is just and right.

    With netroots like these, MLK himself would not be able to push civil rights reform.

  86. Pepe permalink
    July 28, 2010

    If she hadn’t voted for the war, we wouldn’t be having this argument about how bad a president O has been.

  87. Pepe permalink
    July 28, 2010

    Based on what Dear? I am guessing you are one of those people who thought voting for Nader was a really good idea because Gore was just like Bush.

    I don’t think the problem is specific candidates. It’s the party that is the problem. Either way, our wealth is being transferred upwards. Both parties participate.

    Clinton wouldn’t have done a fucking thing to change the status quo.

  88. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 28, 2010

    Oh my B. Over at C&L I was accused of being “obviously” biased against the “pragmatists”, now I’m not hitting them hard enough?

    Mmmm. Both sides hate me! I’m a centrist!

    Where’s my goddamn paycheck?

  89. anon2525 permalink
    July 28, 2010

    With netroots like these, MLK himself would not be able to push civil rights reform.

    “netroots” then:

    In Washington, D.C., President Johnson called an emergency press conference in an effort to divert press coverage away from Hamer’s testimony; but many television networks ran the speech unedited on their late news programs. The Credentials Committee received thousands of calls and letters in support of the Freedom Democrats.

    Johnson then dispatched several trusted Democratic Party operatives to attempt to negotiate with the Freedom Democrats, including Senator Hubert Humphrey (who was campaigning for the Vice-Presidential nomination), Walter Mondale, Walter Reuther, and J. Edgar Hoover. They suggested a compromise which would give the MFDP two non-voting seats in exchange for other concessions, and secured the endorsement of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for the plan. But when Humphrey outlined the compromise, saying that his position on the ticket was at stake, Hamer, invoking her Christian beliefs, sharply rebuked him:
    “Do you mean to tell me that your position is more important than four hundred thousand black people’s you lives? Senator Humphrey, I know lots of people in Mississippi who have lost their jobs trying to register to vote. I had to leave the plantation where I worked in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Now if you lose this job of Vice-President because you do what is right, because you help the MFDP, everything will be all right. God will take care of you. But if you take [the nomination] this way, why, you will never be able to do any good for civil rights, for poor people, for peace, or any of those things you talk about. Senator Humphrey, I’m going to pray to Jesus for you.”
    Future negotiations were conducted without Hamer, and the compromise was modified such that the Convention would select the two delegates to be seated, for fear the MFDP would appoint Hamer.

    We see that the Democratic Party has not changed since 1964, but the “netroots” have. Today, Fannie Lou Hamer would be labelled a “purist.”

  90. anon2525 permalink
    July 28, 2010

    …many television networks ran the speech unedited on their late news programs.

    And, of course, this would never be allowed today. Ask Shirley Sherrod.

  91. July 28, 2010

    Ian: Well, *I* don’t think you’re a centrist, FWIW 🙂

  92. July 28, 2010

    I’ve been admonished by the admin not to engage with trolls, so I will merely redirect readers to this link on Celinda Lake, and ask them whether they believe that developing the analytical tools to respond to Lake’s methodology is “mere incredulity” or not. Lake tried to run the same kind of scam in Maine, but the voters insisted on rewriting her poll to include single payer. Of course, in Maine at that time, we didn’t have the President, the Ds, or career “progressives” censoring and silencing single payer advocates, either.

  93. Ian Welsh permalink
    July 28, 2010

    Pfff. You’re just trying to get out of sending my my centrist checks Mandos.

  94. July 28, 2010

    Lambert didn’t notice that I myself had linked to that post on Celinda Lake as an example of the deficiency of PNHP. The other poll he mentions was (a) in Maine and (b) a different effort from the Environics one, so I’m not exactly sure what point he is trying to make.

    Nor do I understand how repeatedly calling me a troll isn’t trollish behaviour, but I don’t know from trolls so…

  95. July 28, 2010

    What Avedon said:

    Early readers of this blog may recall that I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the issues raised by discrepancies in the election results we saw in 2000 and 2004 (e.g. here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and with growing alarm, here and here.). And that I keep trying to tell people that this is important, for a number of reasons, including the fact that if you don’t know who won those two elections, you cannot properly analyze the political terrain around succeeding elections.For example, there is a great deal of fantasy that it was Ralph Nader who cost Gore the election – a foolish evaluation in light of the fact that many times the number of votes Nader received simply disappeared in an instant from Gore’s recorded totals in Volusia County. That didn’t happen because a few thousand people voted for Nader, it happened because Jeb Bush was making sure that his brother didn’t lose.I’m not talking about the tiny number of votes by which, according to the NORC count as reported by The New York Times, Gore really won the election. I’m talking about many thousands of votes that were flipped, eliminated, or simply not reported throughout Florida because of deliberately tweaked machines that were programmed to undercount Gore votes and in at least one case that we know of reprogrammed mid-election night to delete at least 16,000 votes in a single Florida county – and that isn’t counting the other states (including Tennessee) where quite a few curious events seem to have depressed Democratic votes.The truth is that it never mattered how many people voted for Nader, because the GOP machine in Florida was going to make sure that Gore’s votes always appeared to be fewer than Bush’s. And the conservative machine going all the way up to the Supreme Court stood ready to make sure that Bush was installed in the White House. The fact is that if conservatives decide it’s time for their people to win, their people are going to win unless the rest of us work very hard and with great vigilance and diligence to prevent it from happening. We haven’t. We waited for Al Gore or Jesse Jackson to tell us to do something in Florida instead of getting out there and refusing to accept what was going on. Leading progressive bloggers actually banned discussion of the astonishing numbers in 2004 (despite the fact that far fewer people voted for Nader and yet Bush still “won”). And we pissed our chance away in the last election because we got distracted by the shiny object that is currently in the White House, and we will keep right on doing it unless we stop being scared off by Nader Derangement Syndrome.It’s time to stop quivering in our boots over the possibility that if we start fighting back for real we will elect someone slightly more right-wing than the current crop of right-wingers leading the Democratic Party. There is no substantive difference between Bush’s policies, McCain’s stated policies, and the Democratic leadership’s actual policies, so you might as well step up and admit that, you know, just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side.*

  96. July 28, 2010

    I’ve been admonished not to interact with commenters who have a history of trolling. It’s actually a great relief and a time-saver; I recommend it to everyone.

  97. July 28, 2010

    I mean speaking of trollery and relieving-time savers and getting personal and all that, can anyone guess who said this:

    Pathetically, stalker and troll dmd76 shows up again. I can imagine no better way for an obot to prove that he (?) is, in fact, in obot, than for him (?) to stalk another poster for a Godwin’s Law misdemeanor from seven months ago. Ironically, online stalking is also a fine way to prove the thesis of the post! The primaries ended a long time ago. I’ve gotten over them and moved on. Sadly, some have not.

    Sadly, some have not.

  98. July 28, 2010

    celinda lake is terrible. I worked on a congressional campaign in 2006 for the democratic candidate for the house seat in my district, which is heavily republican. The reason that I supported the democratic candidate … and put a hell of a lot of my time into his campaign for free … was that he was in favor of getting out of Iraq and thought that the war was a disaster. The campaign unfortunately decided to hire lake research, which was run by celinda lake, probably at the urging of the rahm-run dccc. We were running against an incumbent that had voted 98% of the time with the republican caucus. The brains/propagandists at lake research gave us some very questionable conclusions from their polling. One was that the Iraq War was more popular in our district than bush himself, which I found laughable. They basically advised the “brains” of our campaign that bush and the war was so popular that we dare not run against it and we essentially had to out-bush the incumbent, who again was a republican and voted with the republican caucus … and, of course, for the war … 98% of the time. The dimwits in our campaign bought off on that bullshit. I kept asking them how the hell they were going to go that route and differentiate themselves to voters? Promise that our candidate would vote 99 to 100% of the time with the republican caucus? All the vision-less dumbasses could tell me was that that was what the almighty lake research had told them.

    As a side note, the candidate that I worked for changed his tune considerably on the war after going to dc and meeting with the dccc, and probably rahm, and in a debate that followed said that knowing what he knew now, he would have voted in favor of the AUMF.

    As another aside, the fools that ran our campaign never even thought of telling voters that our candidate was in favor of gun’s rights until I told them … that’s how far out of the game their heads were. I guess lake research didn’t tell them to, so they didn’t. If you are democratic candidate in a heavy republican district and you are in favor of guns rights, that’s the first fucking thing that ought to come out of your mouth, becoz the crazies on the right have been brainwashed into believing that all democrats want to bust into your gun locker and take your guns. Until you disabuse them of that notion, that will not listen to a word you say. Yet no one advised them of that … not that they should even needed advising on that.

    celinda lake starts off with a pre-conceived establishment approved conclusion and then polls her way back to support it. She’s a disgrace and is a poster child as to what is wrong with the dem dlc culture.

    Z

  99. July 28, 2010

    Unelecting them may create a slightly more “pure” leftist Democratic party, but won’t push American politics leftward as a whole.

    Exactly how will “we’re 2% less evil” Democrats running and governing as “me too but nicer” conservatives push American politics leftward?

    We don’t know how the general public would react to “Medicare for all” because the Democrats NEVER TRIED TO SELL IT! They wouldn’t even allow it to be discussed. But it’s a safe bet that if they had passed M4All it would be just as popular as the current version.

    That’s the real problem with today’s progressives – they don’t have the courage of their convictions. They won’t fight for anything.

    LBJ pushed through the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act knowing it would hurt the Democrats in future elections. But he did it anyway, because it was the right thing to do. He got Medicare passed too.

    All three of them are still with us.

  100. July 28, 2010

    But as people have without fail pointed out on this blog, we don’t have those politicians or those politics. I certainly wouldn’t accuse Obama of being LBJ. So, given that, the question becomes, what *can* you get, and how best can you hold the door open for something better? People reasonably differ on these questions.

Comments are closed.