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Stop treating monsters as reasonable people

2011 January 17
by Ian Welsh

Over the last few years, and in particular in the last couple, I’ve noticed something about myself: I’ve become a lot more rude in my political dealings, including with many people I used to consider allies.  At first this worried me a bit, because I couldn’t quite pin down why, beyond the fact that I was angry.

Now I’m not someone who believes anger is always a bad thing.  I think certain things should make you angry, and if they don’t, something’s wrong with you.  When people are dying, being raped, being tortured, being denied basic rights, being beaten and so on, you should get angry.  You should use that anger as a weapon and as fuel for the fight.

Still, anger isn’t a strategy, or even a tactic, and one has to be careful, because anger can blind you and turn you against those who should be your allies.

And that’s the crux.  Allies.

What I’ve come to realize lately is that I’m not on the same side as a lot of people.  If you’re for the Afghan war, aka. for eternal war, I’m not on your side.  If you believe in indefinite detention or the President’s right to assassinate whoever he wants, I’m not on your side.  If you believe that Wikileaks is evil and that citizens should be kept in the dark as to what their governments are doing, then I’m not on your side.

Through the Bush years opposition to Bush made a lot of people seem like friends, who weren’t.  Sure, we all hated Bush (yes, hated.  I hate people who torture and engage in aggressive war, and I think that’s the appropriate response), but that hatred, that opposition, concealed the fact that a lot of people didn’t really object to what Bush was doing, they just objected to the fact that it was being done by a Republican, or that it was being done incompetently.  They would have been ok with the same policies if they’d worked out, as with all the “liberals” and “progressives” who were pro-Iraq war until it turned into a clusterfuck.

The Wikileas imbroglio was a real turning point for me.  At least half the “progressives” I know revealed themselves as, simply, supporters of authoritarianism; revealed themselves as mushrooms who wanted daddy to keep them in the dark and feed them shit.  Revealed themselves as fools who didn’t either understand or, worse, believe that government exists to serve its citizens, who have a right to know what it’s doing in their name.

But while the watershed, it was merely the latest in a string of horrible behavior from the “left”.  Whether it was teacher’s unions stealing food stamp money to pay for their raises, unions selling out their own members to support Barack Obama’s health care bill, which was bad for most union members or whether it was the progressive caucus promising to vote against any HCR bill without the public option, then folding like wet cardboard, it was clear that there was no spine and no solidarity on the left.  Every little interest group was always willing to sell out everyone else, sometimes for their own interests, but often not even for that: the leadership of organizations was so corrupt that they would sell out their own members interests so they could feel like members of the DC Village.

I have no time for these people.  I have no politeness or kindness for them.  They are traitors and in many cases cowards, and their actions or lack of actions are, objectively, killing or impoverishing people, both in America or abroad.

So screw politeness, and screw reasonableness.  Reasonableness in the current political environment means “willing to sell out the people whose interests she or he is supposed to care about.”

So count me out.  I’m not interested in being reasonable, if reasonable means “a spineless sell out”.  I’m not interested in being pragmatic, if pragmatic means “understands that nothing can actually be done to fix any problem”, and I’m not interested in being polite to people who make their living by destroying lives or apologizing for those who destroy lives.

America is going down, and the world is spiraling into an age of war because everyone wants to be “reasonable” rather than do the right thing for their own people.  Everyone who matters wants to pander to the rich, rather than care for the masses.  And as for the masses, they have treated politics as a spectator sport, allowed themselves to be lied to and made fools of, and have and will continue to reap the bitter harvest.

You not only have only the rights you are willing to fight for, you have only the economic livelihood you are willing to fight for.  Americans, being unwilling to fight for either, will soon have neither.

And I have nothing but contempt for those who have led them to this impasse, and with them, much of the world.

77 Responses
  1. alyosha permalink
    January 17, 2011

    I had a lot of problems with those who merely thought Bush was incompetent – there was massive discussion along those lines, and relatively little about the moral dimensions of what he was doing. Even today.

    As for wikileaks – it took me some time to even understand what this was about. I still don’t fully know enough about it, but I have been swayed by arguments that compare Julian Assange with Thomas Paine.

    And so, for any given controversy, there’s the learning curve issue, the willingness to understand and grapple with what’s going on – and the opposite of this is intellectual laziness, and I’m prone to that at times.

    But there’s also the notion of a moral conscience, and how weak or how sharp this is, how blunted or well-developed it is. Some people grasped the moral dimensions of Bush’s actions or wikileaks immediately, others take awhile longer, and some never get it – they’re too preoccupied with their own concerns.

    It’s a challenge for me to not be angry or rude in political discussions. I’ve learned from experience that getting angry almost always means losing the argument. Far more effective is saying the most succinct, pithy thing possible, and delivering it with enough coolness and conviction to make your listener take it in, whether they want to hear it or not.

    I don’t think too much about allies or enemies. Close to 100% of the people I’m with are too busy running their lives to give these controversies much thought, and I’ve learned to be patient with that. The tiny fraction who know something about these controversies usually have even more incomplete knowledge than me, and I can sometimes do something about that. I’ve just learned to be patient with people.

  2. Katherine permalink
    January 17, 2011

    Ian:

    There are sellouts on the left, but there also are many people who agree with you on all of the above. Those who aren’t angry are not choosing to see the coming implosion of this country due to greed, selfishness, false pride, and militarism.

  3. January 17, 2011

    I have redefined my relationships with a lot of people over the past 10 years. First it was with my “conservative” friends … most of them religious … who backed bush no matter what he did. Then it was with my “liberal” friends that were all with me about bush, but can only make excuses for obama as he does the same shit that bush did. Though I’m still casual “friends” with some of the members of both of these groups, I have a lot less respect for them. And it is not the fact that we disagree that has disappointed me, it is the fact that there is a ugly, black hole in their morality that they refuse to look at. Instead, they try to point their finger at me as being an unreasonable purist … not being pragmatic enough … as the country … and the world … falls apart around us while we keep getting shoved down the same road that brought us to this point.

    This ugliness and apathy, by the way, is often masked by their politeness, which plays way too large of a part in their very superficial definition of morality IMO.

    Z

  4. guest permalink
    January 17, 2011

    I got angry quite a bit during the whole rise of Obama, and found myself being equated with the right. You can’t win. I would not agree that most of these people are quite as morally bankrupt at Ian. I really think they are snowed and believe his intentions are good and that he is not doing what Bush did. He’s a nice smart black man who isn’t scary like real black men. How COULD you imagine that his intentions are not the best? Of course I hold stupid people in more contempt than Ian does.

    The truth is hidden or overlooked by the media, and most people do not yet believe that any of your/my/our complaints about the Vichy Dems could be valid, since they are not on TV, and therefore must be so fringey as to be on a level with the late night AM radio shows about aliens. And the other thing people look to is their economic circumstances. Things are bad for some. But between the media’s ignoring the story (do you remember the constant media coverage the recessions under Carter and Reagan go? Does anyone see anything close to that anymore) and the fact that life is largely going on as before, only getting worse ever so gradually, people just don’t think the “doomsayers” and Cassandras have any credibility. They just figure we can give up a bit of our Soc Sec, the deficit will come under control, and things can go on as before.

    Anyway, we’re fucked, no matter what. If these dummies really understood how bad things were, there’s no telling how they would react. So be careful what you wish for, Ian. When they inevitably resort to violence or even just peaceful measures, it will no doubt be against a scapegoat selected by the elites. It will be directed at government workers (we have always been at war with “public sector unions”) or liberal activist groups, or just minorities. The bankers and torturers and fascists will be unscathed.

  5. peter cowan permalink
    January 17, 2011

    teacher’s unions stealing food stamp money to pay for their raises??? i missed that one… what’s the reference?

  6. January 17, 2011

    Greenwald had and update (II) and a link regarding the “Indecency of civility” the other day:

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/01/14/lawlessness/index.html
    http://www.sadlyno.com/archives/2710.html

    It’s a re-run of “Where is the outrage”, a classic since its SCOTUS premiere in 2000.

    A republic, if you don’t give it away.

  7. January 17, 2011

    Yves Smith pointed to a Freddie deBoer post, which has a parallel theme to this one.
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/01/on-the-lack-of-left-wing-discourse-in-the-blogosphere.html

    It is a very lengthy post, decrying the way prominent left-ish bloggers tend to form a neo-liberal cul-de-sac in the blogosphere, with no roads leading anywhere, but back to the Right. Freddie deBoer, himself, seems wistful for bloggers of high principle, though he’s a bit unclear on exactly what principles he has in mind, other than advocacy for trade unions and the working classes and vague references to socialism as it exists in other polities.

    Far from rejecting monstrosity, he keeps saying how much he likes, say, Matthew Yglesias or Ezra Klein, but, at base, what troubles him is the evident process of sell-out, pushing opinion to the right, ever to the right. And, that cul-de-sac thing, whereby no one is included in the conversation, who is to their Left; only those to the Right are treated as Very Serious (even though there are reasons to have grave doubts about the seriousness of the public opinions of anyone prominent on the Right.

  8. Ian Welsh permalink
    January 17, 2011

    I really think that part of the problem is social. People who are monsters should be shunned as monsters, and folks should have nothing to do with them. Refuse to shake their hands, turn your backs on them, refuse to do business with them or socialize with them. The fact that people don’t do this is one reason why monstrosity continues: it is socially acceptable.

  9. January 17, 2011

    Politeness is the new morality.

    Z

  10. Rilen permalink
    January 17, 2011

    Question: With a massive and ubiquitous digital surveillance infrastructure in place, constitutional privacy safeguards thoroughly shredded, and most interpersonal communication being conducted over unsecured channels on compromised telecommunications systems, how could any political opposition effectively mobilize in the first place? Entrenched players could stay ten steps ahead, always heading off any attempt to organize against them–moreover, with enough scope and diligence, they might often be able to project the opposition’s next move before the opposition themselves had decided upon it.

  11. January 17, 2011

    I found myself getting angry a while back, as I stepped away from supporting some people, I thought I was allied with, politically.

    For myself, I found I was reluctant to be angry and to pull away, precisely because I knew that it meant giving up any sense that I had political power, however minute, in this moment. In grand terms, it means that I will not support Obama; and, of course, I will not support the Republican, either, but realistically, my move (ignoring for a moment it’s vanishing insignificance) helps the R, and hurts the D. That only makes sense if I admit to myself that Obama and the Dems do not represent me, no one represents me.

    Although I am on the same side as Ian, on all the moral dichotomies he names, I don’t see my difference with my erstwhile “allies” in such such high moral terms. I agree that’s an important perspective, and that it is important to note the (scary) implications of that being a difference. But, I see chasm somewhat differently.

    I think the problem is that we are in a revolutionary moment, without the revolutionaries. The ancien regime, so to speak, has approached collapse, but without the aid of a hopeful, frenzied mob, ready to storm the Bastille. deBoer’s complaint, in the post, I cite above, is basically he wishes there were some revolutionaries in the blogosphere, ready to call for the destruction or overthrow of the plutocracy, globalization, etc.

    I’m certainly no revolutionary, in temperment or ambition. But, I recognize that the old regime is done for. Keeping it going, kicking the can down the road, stabilizing things, hoping for the old normal — these actions, these emergency responses of the reactionary, these “reasonable” things to do, are, in fact, an objective, increasingly intolerable evil.

    It started, in my mind, with the Clinton impeachment — one vicious old billionaire wanted to bring down a President and manufactured a scandal to do (and quite cheaply, one might note). It continued with Bush stealing the election in Florida. Then, there was using the idealistic language of Wilsonian internationalism and echoes of Churchill to “justify” aggressive war for no particular reason against Iraq. [Skipping ahead] Finally, there was the global financial crisis of 2008, the lastest, greatest exercise of the shock doctrine.

    I have had many frustrating discussions with people about the GFC 2008, and it is very, very hard to get some people to see that any response that preserved, rather than destroyed, a large part of the financial sector, had to be a catastrophe in the long-run. The economic structure we have doesn’t work in some very important senses, and superficial reforms to patch it up are not going to work, either.

    The right thing to do is demolition. And, that’s very hard for lots of people to accept.

    That’s what I mean by this being a “revolutionary” moment: this is a moment, where the right things to do all begin with a kind of demolition of the status quo.

    Ian sees the right things to do, and accepts demolition. But, lots of people — political centrists, complacent, self-interested, fearful — see the demolition, and recoil.

    Even without demolition, the status quo will crumble, slowly and painfully. It is to avoid that, that demolition is to be preferred. We might get additional chances at demolition; if we are to be ready to take them, should they present themselves, I suspect we shouldn’t develop too many scruples about temporary alliances with monsters.

  12. Eureka Springs permalink
    January 18, 2011

    I read NC and deboer before stopping by to see if Ian replied to it. As Bruce notes Ian did whether directly or nay.

    Well said, Ian.. i am also angry and not willing to be nice – and that pisses me off. /s

    I think that is deboers biggest failing to himself and all those he “really likes”. Be angry.. if you are not, something is wrong with you, knowing what so many of us know nowadays. At least deboer’s honest enough to say so.

    Also, well said, Bruce. The sooner the revolutionary moment comes, the better, imo. Though I, like you, consider both money parties to be the problem… it would be best if we had it out under O rather than under Romney or whoever the next R of the month might be. Why the angry center, left, and right don’t get that is beyond me.

  13. Oaktown Girl permalink
    January 18, 2011

    Right on. All this emphasis on being “reasonable” and “pragmatic” comes at the expense of any real substance and is just another way to keep us under the corporate boot as we die slow and painful deaths. But at least we’ll die quietly and politely, and the Elites can be assured they will have the most toys when the end finally comes.

  14. January 18, 2011

    Bruce Wilder:
    I think what Freddie means is that Ezra and MY are probably nice guys in person but that they’ve sold out their ideals to become the next David “Bobo” Brooks or “Dean Broder. Then again, on another level, I don’t get why Freddie likes either one as they both supported the Iraq war.

  15. anon2525 permalink
    January 18, 2011

    What is to be done about monsters?

    During the video of the helicopter shooting of Iraqis that WikiLeaks published in their newspaper* after it was leaked to them, the american soldiers are joking and laughing as they kill people with the push of a button.

    Here’s another article highlighting the (adolescent? non-existent?) morality of a lot of people. How commonplace is this? Is it becoming more common?

    Connecting the Crazy Dots: Assange, Recruiting Kids, the Tucson Massacre and General American Bloodthirstiness

    I brought my son and a friend last year to the notorious Army Experience Center, a multi-million state-of-the-art virtual war recruiting wonderland located in a mall in working-class Northeast Philadelphia. Filled with an array of very fast computers and video screens on which kids as young as 14 could blast away in realistic war scenarios, and featuring two darkened rooms that had the real bodies of an armored Humvee and a Blackhawk helicopter where kids could man the guns and operate in a 3-D video environment with surround sound so that you felt like you were moving through hostile territory and had to “take out” the “bad guys” while quickly identifying innocent civilians and avoiding shooting them. My son, his friend and I tried the Humvee out, and at the end of our “mission,” the recruiter, an Iraq vet, congratulated us, saying we were “the best gunners all day!” and that our error rate had been “only 30%.”

    I asked him what “error rate” meant, and he said, “Collateral damage–civilians killed.”

    “Thirty percent of the peope we just killed were civilians?” I asked, aghast.

    “Oh yeah,” he said matter-of-factly. “Don’t feel bad. That’s not a bad percentage.”

    * If HuffPo and nytimes.com are newspapers, then so is WL. Even more so — it is providing news of what the gov’t. is doing that the nytimes won’t.

  16. anon2525 permalink
    January 18, 2011

    And what about the people who created the “Army Experience Center” to recruit kids to kill and die so that the recruiters can meet their quotas and so politicians can have their careers? Perhaps, like Dante’s Inferno, there needs to be a classification to describe the levels of evil.

  17. January 18, 2011

    @Ian

    Sing it, Reverend. 🙂

    (h/t to all the commentors as well.)

  18. Suspenders permalink
    January 18, 2011

    Echoing your own views Ian, Chris Hedges new book, “Death of the liberal class”, is all about how “the left” has sold out the interests of those it purportedly represents. It’s startling, unprecendented even, how wholesale that sell out has been when you think about it. Still, knowing this is liberating in a way, as it spares one the distasteful mental acrobatics of trying to explain why so called “liberals” keep betraying us yet supposedly are on our side.

    Steve Paikin has a good interview with Chris, if anyone’s interested, here, http://www.tvo.org/cfmx/tvoorg/theagenda/index.cfm?page_id=7&bpn=779880&ts=2010-10-22%2020:00:00.0

  19. January 18, 2011

    Still, anger isn’t a strategy, or even a tactic, and one has to be careful, because anger can blind you and turn you against those who should be your allies.

    Beats hell out of despair, which is the only other logical reaction to all this.

  20. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    January 18, 2011

    @ Cujo359

    Me thinks overlooking another possibility might be fatal. IIRC the ‘villains’ outlined in “Fahrenheit 451” provide that way, those who preserve the human experience at all cost. Just because the times before were meaner does not support the idea that the problems were not as complex or demanding or the ability and stature of the protagonists were any less. Throwing away the harvest of history because it is not packaged in the mode of the day in order to salve the pretensions of modernity, throws away the hard won wealth of generations.

    An example, Machiavelli is only know now at best for his “The Prince”, not his central work “Discourses on Livy”, a work well known to those at the “Philadelphia Convention” who constructed most their edifice upon the foundations of Machiavelli’s writings. (My bet is that hardly no-one reading this has actually read some translation of ‘Discourses’). Another example at hand is Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s “Cycles of American History”, possibly the best summary of history by an eminently distinguished historian. That it was written about a quarter century ago does not diminish its luster but rather burnishes its value. A contemporary of Schlesinger’s, a Paul Kennedy’s “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers – Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000” (sic – 1986) traces the course of power, the gaining and passing of power through the ‘Modern Era’. No discussion can possibly be complete without knowledge grounded from these works and many others like them.

    When illiteracy is 60% (by government statistics) and all the libraries are shut down for the lack of funding, and the public schools warehouse all the children left behind; who will remember these books that speak of human experience, who will be able to point them out from the avalanche of pseudo-historical and faux factual output of the propagandists.

    An alternate to anger, an alternate to despair; a pursuit of excellence, storing and accessing those who present excellence in their lives and works, keeping open the door to knowledge of the human experience; developing excellence in oneself and in others, and insisting on excellence in all things. Become the élite.

  21. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 18, 2011

    Wow, Ian, someone didn’t have their Jimmy Dean Breakfast this morning, or should I say yesterday morning?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvHj0vovQHI

    Morocco ducks and dodges the shoes fired his way.

  22. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 18, 2011

    This is front and center to your rant. Take a gander at what Ian is talking about, at least one example. The stance of Sir Charles and his school boy bullies leaves the door open for more wars of Naked Aggression. That’s the beauty of the “bungled” because of “incompetence” theory. Of course, a critical thinker would then realize, given that poor excuse, that such a track record of bungling and incompetence should cause one to pause and consider whether such “wars” are justified at all, and the apparatus that executes those wars is worthy of the tax money that supports it.

    Also, Warmonger is not an insult, it is a characterization of someone who supports or advocates war. Many of the posters in that thread considered the Afghanistan War and the “Humanitarian War” on Yugoslavia both “legal” and justified. They now support a withdrawal because they believe the campaign in Afghanistan was “bungled.” Also, they completely ignored, didn’t even review, the evidence to the contrary I provided them, but instead engaged in American Exceptionalism, meaning America only does things for noble reasons but often fucks it up.

    Like Ian, I have no time for morons who support monsters, and sorry ( no, I’m not, really), but Obama is every bit the monster that Bush was, and is. Of course, they’re both cheerleaders doing what they’re told to do, but that doesn’t make them any less complicit.

    http://www.cogitamusblog.com/2011/01/even-lost-wars-make-corporations-rich-by-chris-hedges.html#comments

  23. B Schram permalink
    January 18, 2011

    I can’t agree more with the spirit of the post, and most of the comments. There are some things that come to mind. For instance, how do we identify and label the “monster” such that others can identify them for what they are ?

    I fear that Ian is preaching to the choir, and we are such a minority I do not know what positive change we can elicit. I cannot let out of my mind an incident that happened on NPR Science Friday a few weeks ago. A MD and vaccine researcher Paul Offit was on, and he had a caller who thought vaccines were the cause of all our woes because they were not safe enough. The brilliant part was Ira Fletow asked her if she was presented with enough evidence, would she change her mind – she replied yes – she cared about facts and safety. Dr. Offit brilliantly rebutted with multiple studies all her disputes, and the whole time you could hear her hyperventilating in the background. Her final statement was that she couldn’t accept it, it wasn’t “common sense”.

    I think most of us are drawn to this site because Ian and many who frequent the comment section are logical, struggle to think things out, and respond to reason. It seems the majority do not operate in this realm, and it is pure emotion. Logic most likely will not reach them. I see parallels with vaccines, evolution, homeopathy, etc., etc.

    Perhaps treating people appropriately for their actions instead of being “nice” would be a good start. I don’t see that as being rude.

  24. January 18, 2011

    I wish I had something to add; alas, I can only amplify. I’m sick of the hypocrisy of the left, I’m sick of their defense of Obama’s actions, I’m sick of being “polite” and “tolerant” towards people who, as a previous commenter put it, have a black hole where their morality should be. I, too, feel angry much of the time, particularly at people who should know better.

    I find I’m distancing myself, in the real world as well as in the blogosphere, from people I had thought were allies. It’s easy to mouth all the correct liberal pieties at cocktail parties, but when push comes to shove, what are they actually willing to stand up for?

    The demonization of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange is appalling, the defense of Obama’s continued aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan and Yemen is nauseating, as is the defense of his assault on our civil liberties, the increasing security state, the complete sell-out to corporations.

    And I’m fed up with the tepid rationalizations and condescending lectures from other liberal bloggers to naive numbskulls like me about how the world “really” works, about how to be “pragmatic,” about how our views are, if you can believe this shite, “Stalinist.”

  25. January 18, 2011

    This thread reminds me of a comment that a friend of mine from the South made: Societies where weapons are commonly carried tend to value good manners more than societies where they aren’t. A thought for my Canadian friends to bear in mind.

    For my part, I find that when I act out of anger rather than compassion, I go wrong. Every single time. And that includes persuading people, at the local (and still reasonably functional) level, of the sort of policies that we support. Others may be able to manage their anger better, but for me, that’s true.

  26. Anony Mouse permalink
    January 18, 2011

    While I tend to agree with you Ian, most of us in our lives can’t live this way. We interact with many others in our various communities and it is really helpful to get along. It is also important to note that sometimes other people have different life experiences and can look at the same data and come to different conclusions than you do.

    What I find so troubling about political discourse is that for the people at the bottom (like me) it really is “liberal, tory, same old story,” but we act as rabid partisans. Meanwhile if you look at the political elite, well, Versailles, really does some it up. The Senate is a corrupt and incompetent old fools club.

    I do agree with Bruce Wilder that we (society) are screwed, but I am finding it is best to keep this to myself as this can be interpreted as wishing for failure. Similar to the argument used that if you are against the Iraq war you are against our troops.

    I thought the American public would be totally pissed off about the global financial crisis, and I am floored that the only people who are upset are on websites like this. While I might be alone in my opinions in physical space at least it is comforting to know there are a few others who share my opinions. (Or maybe I share their opinions)

  27. January 18, 2011

    I don’t think that “we” are “in the minority” as opposed to being another minority. I’ve made this argument before, but if you take the percentage of people who think that health care reform didn’t go far enough as a proxy for the left (as opposed to “the left” that supposedly speaks for us in Versailles) the percentage is roughly equal to the percentage that supports the tea partiers. What we don’t have is a way to recognize and support each other on the ground, since Obama decapitated any actual left from 2008 onward. For example, there’s no way for me, right now, on the ground, to say that the fight against fracking in the Marcellus shale is the same as the fight against landfills in Maine is the right against more Deepwater Horizons in NOLA (marginal economy + resource extraction + corrupt local oligarchy (D or R) = ruin. Only connect! And the first step toward doing that is to remove one’s self from the party apparatus. No doubt there are other steps, but that is the first…..

  28. Jerome Carpenter permalink
    January 18, 2011

    For sure, if you’re not angry there’s something wrong with you. The trick is to keep it simmering instead of blazing. I don’t know how you do that and suspect if varies from individual to individual, but anger is necessary; without it, we tend to be apathetic and polite even when confronted by the worst right -wing lunacy imaginable. Incidently, I read this blog daily because I find the anger often expressed here mirrors my own.

  29. January 18, 2011

    @lambert strether: “This thread reminds me of a comment that a friend of mine from the South made: Societies where weapons are commonly carried tend to value good manners more than societies where they aren’t.”

    One of the great antebellum deviations in American culture was that, while Greater New England, developed a morality of conscience and social justice, the South went with the narcissism of personal honor.

    An aristocracy is a polity in which elites are not accountable to the mass of people, for the conditions and welfare of the masses. The elite push all the risks and externalities downward. They may go through the ceremonies of noblesse oblige, honoring one another for charity, but it is not an obligation of conscience for substance, but rather just another form of status-seeking. An aristocracy is a polity in which social morality consists of nothing more than status-seeking and obsession with honor, in which actual, demonstrated competence or the accomplishment of substantive results are likely to attract scorn.

    I took Ian as most immediately concerned with the cleavage of liberalism, in which the complacent and comfortable and cowardly are yielding their consciences in accepting the conventional. (Is there a prize for alliteration?) The unmentioned context, though, is the one Chris Hedges outlines: the failure of the liberal classes to keep the moral high ground for the society at large.

    It does seem to me that those, who accept reality, and retain their principles, are being excluded from power and participation in the national body politic. One thing we may do is to retreat to the politics of the village — I seriously doubt it, but we might try. The other thing we can still do is to tell the truth. Reality has a power, we, through exclusion, may lack. And, telling the truth, struggling to recognize reality for what it is, and tell others, in the quiet confidences of the local village and at-large, shouting from rooftops, attaches us to that enduring power.

  30. January 18, 2011

    Oh, yeah, and in telling the truth, you can deny a spurious honor to the bastards.

  31. John B. permalink
    January 18, 2011

    Bruce W: your definition of an aristocracy is one of the best I have ever read…

  32. January 18, 2011

    Ian –

    First, I feel I have to note that based on your link, your description of the matter as “teachers’ unions stealing food stamp money to pay for their raises” was at least several steps short of fair.

    That said, I know exactly what you mean and how you feel when you say “I’m not on the same side as a lot of people,” including people on the nominal “left” whose morality shifts depending on whether there is a “D” or an “R” after the speaker’s name. It’s something I have been thinking about for a while; back in July I said of establishment Democrats “These people are not on our side.” More recently I said that

    at the end of the day it’s not about personal benefit. It’s not really even about winning, at least in the short term. It’s about actually knowing – and caring – which side you are on.

    The labor movement used to label people who would back off at the first sign of difficulty, who would philosophically trim their sails at the first sign of rough seas, with the bitter term “trimmers.” I think we should revive the term as useful to describe much of what passes for “liberal” politics and politicians these days, especially for those without even the guts to stand by the word “liberal” and instead try to hide behind “progressive” – which they are not.

    They are trimmers – and they are not on our side.

  33. January 18, 2011

    The aristocrats hide behind the system that they both created and run and they act like it is an act of nature … a meritocracy that is for the best of us all.

    Shit happens to us and wealth happens to them and that’s just the way it is becoz they are so productive and wonderful.

    Z

  34. January 18, 2011

    Quote from Wobbly (IIW) leader Bill Haywood: “A liberal is the guy who leaves the room when a fight starts.”

  35. Ian Welsh permalink
    January 18, 2011

    I am quite certain Dems did not get teachers unions money because the unions didn’t want it and I am quite certain that if the unions had said “not at that price” they would have said “ok”. in fact, they should have publicly refused the money.

  36. nihil obstet permalink
    January 18, 2011

    Blaming the teachers’ unions for what Congress did is signing on to the right wing propaganda offensive. Congress provided aid to schools. This becomes, in rightwingese, money to teachers’ unions. Boo, hiss, teachers’ unions ought to turn down the money. Congress announces that the money for schools comes from a cut in food stamps. Boo, hiss, teachers’ unions are taking money out of the mouths of the hungry. All us right-thinking lefties know that workers ought to turn down money whenever Congress says it’s taking the money from a social program. Somehow Congress can say, “OK if teachers’ unions don’t want the money, we’ll take the amount we were going to put into the schools and do what the teachers dictate with it”, but can’t say, “We’ll fund these small needed social programs.” Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    And your point about lefty solidarity is?

  37. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 18, 2011

    I don’t know what “leftie/lefty” really means, and it seems most other people don’t as well, but I don’t see Unions as fitting the description. They’re just more hogs at the trough. Unions should have only been a bridge to eventual employee owned and managed organizations. Instead, they became a form of containment and backstop against that potentiality. They’re as authoritarian and coercive as the businesses and government agencies with whom they allegedly bargain.

  38. S Brennan permalink
    January 18, 2011

    Ian,

    I agree with your post…but I’d add:

    That humor, in particular laughter, is an effective balm for the wounds the world’s Aristocracy inflict upon the world’s workers and their offspring.

    Since good humor is at times hard to muster, I suggest satire & mockery towards those “serious people”.

  39. January 18, 2011

    I am quite certain Dems did not get teachers unions money because the unions didn’t want it, etc.

    None of which changes the fact that, again, based on the link you yourself provided, your description of what happened as “teachers’ unions stealing food stamp money” was unfair and inaccurate. But I will drop it now because the broader discussion about trimmers should not be ground to a halt over a single sentence.

  40. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 18, 2011

    I am not opposed to all war, nor am I opposed to fighting under all circumstances, and any declaration to the contrary would disqualify me as a revolutionist. When I say I am opposed to war I mean ruling class war, for the ruling class is the only class that makes war. It matters not to me whether this war be offensive or defensive, or what other lying excuse may be invented for it, I am opposed to it, and I would be shot for treason before I would enter such a war.

    Eugene Debs

  41. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 18, 2011

    The Unions have been trimmed so much, there’s nothing left to trim but air, and maybe, just maybe, a few bare threads. They’re all trimmed out.

  42. scruff permalink
    January 18, 2011

    [quote]Politeness is the new morality.[/quote]

    My impression is that legality is the new morality, or that there is no morality anymore and legality is all that remains. This seems to be the guiding moral principle in the US today; that if you can justify something within the stretch limits of the law, or of you can change the law to cover your desired actions, then it must be good.

  43. January 18, 2011

    When it comes to politics generally, and this administration in particular, getting mad definitely has its place. But what is really needed is getting even-which is to say exploring every means within out power to undermine its authority and legitimacy, particularly among those circles where we are likely to have the most influence.

    For what it’s worth, my attempted contribution along these lines is the Open Letter to the Left Establishment, which attempts to prod name-brand leftists from “critical support” of Obama into active opposition.

    It’s posted, and still accepting signatures, at http://www.protestobama.org.

  44. January 18, 2011

    scruff,

    This is, of course, what enabled torture to not only take place, but to be defended and even promoted as somehow justifiable — as long as the U.S. does it. I know our government has taught, participated in, and justified torture in the past, particularly in Latin America, but it was always covered up, considered shameful, something that was beyond the pale. Then, in the Bush years, and now continuing under Obama, it’s out there in the open — not as a shameful secret exposed — on the contrary, as something that we “have” to do, that we’re “forced” to do. And, of course, it’s “legal” — thank you, John Yoo and pals. I don’t have the words to describe how vile this is. (I realize that torture is a whole ‘nother subject, so apologies for going off-topic; it’s just that the morality vs. legality question made me immediately think of it.)

  45. Linda BlueEyes permalink
    January 18, 2011

    I agree with much of your article, but I also feel as Larry and nihil obstet do that you unfairly blame the teacher’s union for taking food stamp money. The money went to the schools, not the teachers alone. The larger point that I think you’re missing is that it should never have come to that in the first place, and it is plausible that it came down to those two things for a REASON.
    Public schools and labor unions, specifically teachers, are taking an awful lot of blame in today’s economy. It works really well to deflect attention from the real culprits. Unless, of course, the teacher’s union was responsible for the allotment of state budget funds…? And silly them, they gave it all away before they got to these two important issues which shouldn’t HAVE TO compete for funds. Somehow, I think not. I’ll bet there were some other budget items of far less importance that coulod have been cut to avoid this problem, if indeed they wanted to avoid the problem.
    That statement sounds like a right-wing “blame-the-teachers and-hope-nobody-thinks-too-hard-about-it” tactic.

  46. Linda BlueEyes permalink
    January 18, 2011

    Not to mention, the cuts don’t take effect for two more years, which means they probably never will, while the schools got the money they need NOW. Nobody has lost anything yet.

  47. Eureka Springs permalink
    January 18, 2011

    The teachers union vs food stamps action was pressed by no less than the likes of third wayer, plantation Blanche Lincoln (and dawg only knows who else). It’s easy to imagine the sole purpose of this was to create and maintain this kind of rift among our ranks while making sure any “new” or “extra” money goes to Versailles.

    Reminds me of how so many were easily silenced by Decembers D move to borrow 2% from SS to give a tiny self deafeating tax break to working poor. Pits allies against each other if they say anything at all.

    http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2010/08/08/food-for-kids-at-whose-expense

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/07/opinion/07sat3.html

  48. Ian Welsh permalink
    January 18, 2011

    Because Republicans and centrist Dems will cooperate to increase food stamps.

    We’ll see.

  49. January 19, 2011

    On food stamps:

    Yes, it’s important to learn to grow your own food, and/or develop skills you can trade to your neighbors for food. Granted, food stamps are important, but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

  50. JohnnyG permalink
    January 19, 2011

    Speaking of monsters, Rachel Maddow is anti-Wikileaks. Glenn Greenwald called her out about it on his blog: “Last week, Rachel Maddow was on David Letterman’s show, laughed when Letterman denounced Assange as “creepy,” and — while expressing concerns both that the U.S. Government over-classifies and doesn’t safeguard its secrets with sufficient care — disparaged WikiLeaks this way:

    Maddow: “I think he is a hero in his own mind, which makes me pretty suspicious. … We should not have freelancers from other countries making a decision about what gets declassified by our government. Our government should be better about it, but I don’t want random Australians deciding for me.” [audience laughs and cheers appreciatively].

    Is that really a cogent distinction? It’s dangerous or even possibly a serious crime when one of those menacing foreigners (a “random Australian”) or “freelancers” exposes U.S. government deceit and corruption, but it’s acceptable and legal when true Americans or a large American media corporation (such as NBC News) does it? I’m quite certain there are no such distinctions in the law.”

    So no more visits on Maddow’s show for Greenwald, I have no doubt she’s that petty. She hardly ever had him on anyway. And the last time she sandbagged him, letting some Obama fan spew lies about Greenwald immediately after his interview, and never giving him the chance to refute them on air.

    This also reminds me of another insufferable Obamabot, Joy Behar. She had Roseanne Barr on recently who mentioned she hates Reagan. Behar chastised her (“you don’t hate anybody”) and after a commercial break, Roseanne had been convinced to apologize. Behar then taunted Roseanne about her dislike of Oprah and Obama, knowing full well Roseanne hates both of them (it’s all over her blog), but was she willing to offend their fans on air? Roseanne sheepishly demurred unfortunately, to Behar’s smirking satisfaction.

  51. JohnnyG permalink
    January 19, 2011

    On Roseanne’s blog, she had a thread about her appearance on Joy Behar, and seemed to think Behar didn’t “get her” so I commented similarly as I did here about it. Roseanne just responding to my post by making excuses for Obama, so in the spirit Ian’s post, fuck her. I don’t have time for the apologists.

  52. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 19, 2011

    Be careful with that whole “anger” thing, especially if you’re a dissenter. In yet another attempt to exploit the Arizona Shooting Spectacle for gain and /or leverage, the Department of Homeland Security, as announced by Janet (why do so many Janets in high-ranking Government positions look like men) Napolitano, is urging states to take a look at, and revamp if needed, their laws and policies in regards to mental health. One of the congressional advocates for this approach, had the following to say:

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/16/lawmakers-close-look-needed-at-mental-health-issues/

    Murphy, who worked as a child psychologist before he was elected to Congress, said he hopes members of Congress and those in state Legislatures will be motivated to now “look carefully at their mental health systems and their involuntary commitment system laws,” to prevent future attacks.

    And for all those who say it couldn’t happen here…it has happened here. Rent and watch Clint Eastwood’s The Changeling for an entertaining, yet highly disturbing, introduction into the world of Involuntary Commitment. It didn’t just happen in Nazi Germany.

    I guess we could look on the bright side. Once we get thrown into the Asylum, we will get to meet each other in person, which probably would never happen otherwise. Wouldn’t that be grand?

  53. Bernard permalink
    January 19, 2011

    yep, divide and conquer. works as the Republican/Democratic party shows how well it does work.

    after 40 years of this public relations bs/propaganda by the Right, i’d be surprised to see otherwise.

  54. January 19, 2011

    Morocco Bama writes:

    Rent and watch Clint Eastwood’s The Changeling for an entertaining, yet highly disturbing, introduction into the world of Involuntary Commitment.

    Just go watch the YouTubes from Tuscon to see how just letting the mentally ill fend for themselves goes. That’s what we do now, at least for those whose families aren’t informed enough and well off enough to recognize the problem and deal with it. Involuntary commitment can be abused, and it’s something I find scary as a prospect if it is abused, but the government right now could throw any of us in jail for the rest of our lives and most people wouldn’t give a crap if there was any excuse at all. The only difference I see between that and involuntary commitment for political reasons is the drugs they administer.

  55. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 19, 2011

    So let me get this straight, Cujo. You want to give even more power to a Government we know is pretty much the strong arm division of the Multi-National Corporations? Yeah, they could lock us up for any number of reasons if they really wanted to, but that’s a poor excuse to allow yet another reason, and that’s all I see coming from this. These creepy bastards in the Department of Homeland Security don’t care about the truly mentally ill, otherwise there would be institutional funding for their care rather than cuts. In the least, don’t fashion your cuffs for them. Make them work a little bit.

  56. January 19, 2011

    Morocco Bama –

    For clarity and my own info, do you have a link to DHS urging states to reexamine their mental health laws? Because in the link you provided, it was not Janet Napolitano of DHS who was speaking but Rep. Grace Napolitano of California.

  57. Bernard permalink
    January 19, 2011

    one purpose of the Obama Bush system is to cut all funding from state and local Governments. Norquists drowning of government meant “all” governments, state, local and federal.

    the whole idea is to cut spending as much as possible so only defense and Homeland Security get funding. cutting funding for education, mental health, libraries, roads, street lights, and everything non defense to spend on Republican approved Government.

    Arizona cut money for people waiting for kidney transplants, more people die quicker, a la Alan Greyson’s, “Hurry up and Die.” mental illness is not a Republican concern, Reagan emptied them in the ’80s.

    we are just witness to the destruction of the society we grew up in. or at least what existed before Reagan.

    The Democrats whole heartedly agree with their actions, no matter what they “say.” lol

    the fall of the Empire is not pretty and with all the guns and loonies under Beck’s influence, we shall witness more rightwing attacks on the “other” as the implosion continues.

  58. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 19, 2011

    Larry, my bad. I saw Napolitano and assumed there was only one in Government, but apparently it’s a pretty popular name. Isn’t there also a Judge Napolitano?

    Anyhow, thanks for the correction and whilst it’s not as egregious as I made it out to be, I still hold to my point. In the midst of severe budget cuts to which there is no end in sight, I don’t want to give the states, or the federal government, any more incarceration power than they already have. Involuntarily committing people to unfunded hellholes will quickly turn out to be aOne Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest nightmare of epic proportions. I’m not saying what we have now is working, but I do believe that would be even worse, and more inhumane, if that’s possible.

  59. havbrush permalink
    January 19, 2011

    Strong article! I enjoyed it. The WikiLeaks part is important as I too have experienced people around me not getting it, thinking Asange was a traitor when he is really the most important journalist since Ellsburg, Woodward and Bernstein (too bad what happened to the co-opted Woodward). My thoughts on the President, and the Congress: much of what we see and hear and what gets reported on is for show and to make Jane and John Smith think that we have a democracy/republic when we actually finished our slide into corporate fascism sometime during W. Bush’s first term. In other words, Obama and Congress are not in charge. They do the bidding of the corporations who are only interested in our military protecting and extending ‘American interests’ around the world. And I pity poor President Obama as I don’t think he, or any new president was/is aware of the extent of our country’s corporate dominance until his initial briefings as the newly elected president. Those who buck the corporate/military alliance most likely end up like Kennedy. Unless of course they have the ‘goods’ on the corporate honchos as Roosevelt did. Google the American Liberty League and General Smedley Butler to see what I mean.

  60. January 19, 2011

    Me thinks overlooking another possibility might be fatal. IIRC the ‘villains’ outlined in “Fahrenheit 451″ provide that way, those who preserve the human experience at all cost.

    I suppose I should have said “emotional reaction” instead of just “reaction”. Anyway, if we’re assigning books, I’ll take “Cat In The Hat”. It’s about all my memory can handle. Someone else will have to tackle “War And Peace”…

  61. January 19, 2011

    Oops, my last was in reaction to Formerly T-Bear. Like I said, limited memory…

  62. January 19, 2011

    Morocco Bama writes:

    You want to give even more power to a Government we know is pretty much the strong arm division of the Multi-National Corporations? Yeah, they could lock us up for any number of reasons if they really wanted to, but that’s a poor excuse to allow yet another reason, and that’s all I see coming from this.

    My argument pretty clearly was that it wasn’t “even more power”. A difference that makes no difference is no difference. All another excuse adds is a little more opportunity to be creative. Change the fact that they can do it already, and I’ll change my mind.

  63. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 19, 2011

    I guess you’re right, Cujo. I welcome yet another way to lock us up. At least this new way will lessen the chances of me being anally raped.

  64. grs permalink
    January 20, 2011

    What you’re describing Ian is similar to what happened on the Right. It’s one part populist and one part disenfranchised. The Right strung its constituents along for decades on the morale wedge issues with no intention whatsoever of overturning Roe V Wade, getting a federal gay marriage ban, etc. So now thanks in large part to Obama, the disenfranchised Right is sending in their goon squad to accomplish those goals. The hell with serious policy, domestic or foreign, they don’t care.

    So the leaders on the Left are trying to use that dangling carrot model to control the masses. They were never successful at it in the first place and it’s backfiring on them now. My sense is the constituents on the Left really do want meaningful policy, both domestic and foreign, but the current people in power have no intention of working on it. I don’t abide by the baby-steps program either, as in, let’s just get any HCR through and we can build on it later.

    The reality is that we have a lot of luxuries in this country other countries dream of. Most people are too busy trying to hold on to the little bit that they have to do anything else. You can complain about people being distracted or paying attention to celebrities/pop culture or not caring, but once those creature comforts start disappearing and the majority of the population starts focusing on a lack food, shelter, and water, things will change.

    Inner cities have disconnected themselves from the political process and mainstream society since they know they’re not getting served. Wait till major regions of entire states start to go that route. It’s happening in parts of the country as municipalities and states just can’t meet their budgets and vital services are being eliminated. You can only hope that enough people will realize they can’t keep voting against their own interests. You can only hope that enough people will realize that voting to help the masses instead of just yourself is better in the long run (and quite often in the short term too!). But I think most Americans are just fighting for themselves at this point. That’s nature. Addressing (metaphorical) parasites and viruses is also nature.

  65. January 20, 2011

    Morocco Bama –

    whilst it’s not as egregious as I made it out to be, I still hold to my point

    Didn’t say I disagreed. 🙂

    I just figured that if the Department for the Protection of the Fatherland had in fact raised the idea, that would be really creepy.

  66. Ian Welsh permalink
    January 20, 2011

    Never met Matt. Have met Ezra, briefly. He was reasonably smooth, about a B- on gladhanding. (Steve Clemmons is an A, Steve makes everyone feel he’s happy to see them and his brush offs make you feel like, gosh, he wishes he had more time to spend with you. Ezra isn’t that good.)

    I do know people who are his friends, and supposedly he’s a great guy if he’s your friend.

    But I don’t judge public figures on stuff like that, or how well they get along with their family, or whether I’d like to have a drink with them. What matters is how they do their job.

    There are some folks I personally loathe whose backs I have publicly because they’re good on the issues, and they’re hardcore (ie. they don’t wimp out.)

  67. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 20, 2011

    I just figured that if the Department for the Protection of the Fatherland had in fact raised the idea, that would be really creepy.

    Yes it would be, and I guess in some unconscious way, that’s why I slipped the DHS into my description, or saw it there, when in fact it wasn’t. I think it was anon2525 who likened that illegitimate organization to the Stasi, but the Cheka or Gestapo will also do as an apt analogy, so it’s not a far stretch to say the DHS is interested in such a development and might use it as part of its strategy to neutralize potential dissenting threats. I know my wife’s family would have me involuntarily committed (some of my family, as well) in a heart beat if they could. There would be no other basis than I don’t tow the line, and therefore they don’t like my subversive ass.

  68. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 20, 2011

    I don’t abide by the baby-steps program either, as in, let’s just get any HCR through and we can build on it later.

    Yeah, that’s a bullshit approach to pacify. It’s the equivalent of walking in circles for eternity….which is pretty much hell if you include a red demon with horns torching your ass in the process.

  69. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 20, 2011

    But I think most Americans are just fighting for themselves at this point. That’s nature.

    I agree with most of what you said, but I diverge on this point. Humans are extremely malleable, if nothing else. We are a product of the system and its various cultures and subcultures. Civilization, at least in its current state, is built upon the ever-increasing extraction and accumulation of limited resources. A hierarchy has been inculcated to manage, disseminate and profit from that process. A semi-permanent ruling class has resided at the top of the pyramid and ensures that the pyramid remains in place. The Masses are indoctrinated into a culture of cut-throat competition where the winner takes all, when in fact the game was rigged all along and most, if not all except the proverbial carrots held up as rags to riches success stories, never have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. The process has resulted in exactly the disposition you have described, but it doesn’t mean it was in their basic nature. It means they were easily molded into the deaf, dumb and blind creatures they have become.

  70. alyosha permalink
    January 20, 2011

    grs wrote (great comment, BTW):

    ..You can only hope that enough people will realize they can’t keep voting against their own interests. You can only hope that enough people will realize that voting to help the masses instead of just yourself is better in the long run (and quite often in the short term too!). But I think most Americans are just fighting for themselves at this point. That’s nature.

    Morrocco Bama replied:

    The process has resulted in exactly the disposition you have described, but it doesn’t mean it was in their basic nature. It means they were easily molded into the deaf, dumb and blind creatures they have become.

    What’s lacking, as grs stated, is that 1) things haven’t gotten bad enough yet, and 2) leadership. The right and the duopoly has the megaphone and money and the laws, all the control. Any threats – Julian Assange, and potential leaders such as Dennis Kucinich, Alan Grayson – are easily snipped in the bud and marginalized.

    This won’t last – look at what happened in Tunisia recently – things got bad enough, that a single suicide triggered a revolution there, and copycat suicides elsewhere in the Middle East. The reigning president of 28 years fled the country. No one knows how this will play out, but it’s a start.

    Leadership is going to eventually come from some strange quarters, which will reconfigure the fight – my bet is from the churches or from some spiritual quarter, in conjunction with the military. Because at the end of the day, this is about money versus people, unconsciousness versus consciousness, the material versus the spiritual, and eventually the material’s opposite pole, spirituality is going to force its way into the debate. Masses of people losing all their material possessions will only catalyze this. It will be a very interesting confrontation, because of the way the material gospel of Reagan has taken over the churches, and which won’t go down without a fight. The churches weren’t always like this in America, they had a very positive influence, pre Reagan.

    It’s a cliche, but I believe it must get worse before it gets better.

  71. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    January 20, 2011

    AND

    Stop treating reasonable people as Monsters!

    Shit-can “Homeland Security”, TSA, Patriot Act, Congress and the Obama administration!

  72. henry porter permalink
    January 20, 2011

    I’m with you, dude. People without principles suck.

  73. anon2525 permalink
    January 21, 2011

    The zeitgeist.

    Don’t Tone It Down, Amp It Up: In Praise of Incivility in Politics

    There is a big difference between shouting “Kill the Nigger!” as listeners did during some Sarah Palin campaign events in 2008, while she said nothing to dissuade the racist crowd, on the one hand, and, on the other, declaring as I and others have done that those who would cut Medicare and Medicaid funding are condemning thousands of people to death, or writing, as I have also done, that President Obama, like President Bush before him, is a war criminal for ordering the indiscriminate use of drone missile attacks on Afghan and Pakistani housing compounds known to be filled with families, or for refusing to punish those who ordered torture, and that the punishment for such crimes can include execution.

  74. jeffroby permalink
    January 21, 2011

    Okay, here I go again. It’s not just a matter of what position you take, though that matters. It’s what you want to do about it.

    I hear screams of outrage against Obama all over the place. People fall all over themselves competing to see who’s the most outraged (and by implication, those less outraged are less worthy). But big fucking deal. Question is, what are people willing to do about it?

    So I say to the purple-faced outraged, what we need to do is Dump Obama. Get a primary challenger to take him on. A few respond positively, but mostly I get responses that purport to be more radical. Throw them all out! Dump the system! Get rid of the entire Democratic Party! Snap snarl growl. But tactically … nothing. All these bold things that we lack the means to do, the outraged are all for them, but a simple measure that can actually be done?

    Well, huff, puff, gee, uh …

    See http://my.firedoglake.com/jeffroby/2011/01/03/dump-obama-for-a-tough-new-year/

    I’m not reasonable.

  75. anon2525 permalink
    January 22, 2011

    So I say to the purple-faced outraged, what we need to do is Dump Obama. Get a primary challenger to take him on.

    Welcome to Oct. 17th, last year:

    http://www.ianwelsh.net/repudiating-liberalism-or-obama/

  76. jeffroby permalink
    January 22, 2011

    I know. I wasn’t directing my comment at Ian.

Comments are closed.