The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Lessons for “The Resistance” from the Bush Resistance

Trump’s ban of travelers from seven Muslim countries spawned a large backlash, showing that “the resistance” is still a thing. I suspect it will continue to be a thing, because Trump is going to do much which enrages people who already believe he is a fascist.

It is little commented on now, but when Bush was ramping up for his invasion of Iraq, millions of people came out against it, world-wide. Most US allies of any significance–apart from Britain–refused to participate. The war went ahead anyway, and in its shadow there was resistance. I was part of that, the Netroots.

The Netroots opposed Bush directly when possible, and it also sought to make the Democratic Party better because we had noticed that enough Democrats (and in many cases almost all) Democrats had signed off on the worst parts of Bush’s regime. Gore, had he been in power, might not have been quite so bad, but the Democrats weren’t really opposing Bush strongly, and some of them were absolutely terrible–straight-up collaborators.  Joe Lieberman, for example. (Who was also Obama’s mentor in the Senate.)

It should be clear that the Netroots was pretty organized: We communicated behind the scenes, and often coordinated. We were in constant contact with Democratic Party staffers, and had access to many Democratic Congress members. They saw that we had reach, and, being politicians, they wanted to use that reach. Even people who despised us, like Clinton, came to Netroots.

In 2006, Republicans lost control of the House. The Netroots had helped with that, and we had hopes and expectations.

They were quickly dashed: The House caucus had taken our help, sure, but they had no intention of seriously opposing Bush’s wars or his vast over-reach on civil liberties and executive power.

Then, in 2008, Obama won. He took some of our help, but he didn’t buy it. Unlike the Democrats in 2006, many of whom had pretended to agree with us and had been willing to work with us, Obama did not work with the Netroots. During the entire campaign, the only time he reached out to us was during a period of a few weeks when he was losing to McCain in the polls, and even that was pro-forma.

Obama built his own grassroots organization, and he didn’t go through the blog gatekeepers (there were exceptions, one A-list blog of the time was the favored dumping ground for Obama oppo research). Instead, Obama’s supporters, and very likely operatives, flooded the comments and diaries. Obama got the support of Netroots supporters without having to give anything to the Netroots organizers.

By “give anything,” I mean “policy concessions.” And while there was plenty of petty careerism in the Netroots, that was never the issue. Since 2008, many people who were part of the Netroots at that time have been taken on and given jobs by various organizations associated with the Democrats. The trivial amount of money required to buy out the “alpha activists” wasn’t the question–control was.

Obama was very clear about his contempt for the Netroots. He thought that we didn’t understand how politics worked and how good things happen. He was explicit, you can read it in Obama’s original post at DKos.

So Obama got in power, he bailed out the banks, he fucked over ordinary home-owners, he increased deportations and ramped up drone assassinations. He was far harsher on whistleblowers than Bush had been and he re-signed all the bad bills when the time came, like the Patriot Act and the AUMF, which had given Bush massive executive power and carte-blanche to spy, and assassinate, and go to war.

Obama institutionalized Bush. Oh, he drew back on some things, but he advanced others, and he left the basic power structure in place and the legal structure. Then he went to war with Libya, which while it killed less people than the Iraq war, was the exact same type of war crime as Bush had committed: aggressive war on a non-threatening country. This is what the Nazis were hung for in Nuremburg.

Note that the Democrat-controlled House and Senate of 2009/2010 was no better than Obama, they did not push him to be better.

The Netroots hadn’t quite given up yet. They had one last hurrah in 2010 when they tried to primary Blanche Lincoln. Obama came out strongly in support of her and she won. The Netroots, what was left of it, collapsed (no results, crashing traffic and a cash crunch from other sources).

Six years, later Trump won the election. The apparatus put in place by Bush to allow him to commit his crimes and over-reach was not just still there, it had been extended significantly in terms of whistleblower prosecution, drone assassination, spying on journalists, immigrant incarceration, and surveillance state powers and capabilities.

Trump inherited a more powerfully oppressive system than Obama did, even if Obama had not always used it as oppressively as Bush (though in some cases he had been worse).

There are a couple lessons to learn from this.

The first is that while partisan Democrats may be one’s allies when opposing a Republic president, their opposition is opportunistic and not principled. The second they are in charge, they will support or wave aside the same actions they condemned coming from a Republican. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work with partisan Democrats, it means understand when they’ll stop fighting AND that once they don’t need you, they will regard you as a threat and seek to to eliminate you.

The second is more important: The control of a party matters more than the results of any individual election.

This is where half the readers will disagree, indeed, they will disagree violently and emotionally.

But there’s a reason that the US is where it is: After each over-reach, after each extension of executive powers, to the creation of police state and the waging of war, the Democrats didn’t roll back the worst excesses when they got into power, NOR did they push the lever further to the left. In fact, Clinton had many policies worse than Reagan/Bush (welfare, crime) and Obama had many policies worse than Bush Jr., as has been discussed.

In order to stop the next Trump, not just this one, you must have control of a party to the point that they are forced to roll back the terrible laws and policies of the last 40 years–and not just roll them back, but start pushing the lever even further towards equality, away from oligarchy, and towards civil liberties and widespread prosperity.

If you do not do that, your victory over Trump is temporary. You win against him, but you do not win against what caused him, and what he represents.

The right-wing understands that. The Netroots said “More and better Democrats,” and while it had some successes, it didn’t have enough, because it failed repeatedly at primarying bad actors.

The Tea Party succeeded: They were able to remove enough Republicans they objected so that the ones who remained were scared to cross them. While doing so, they were willing to lose seats, because they understood that Republicans who would not vote for them when the chips were down might as well be Democrats. (This is where the screams about the Supreme Court would be inserted. There is truth to this, but you are now losing it anyway.)

If the Resistance wants to really succeed, to really make the US a better place, it must learn the lesson of those who fought and failed before. If you succeed at getting rid of Trump without changing the trajectory of US economy, foreign policy, and disrespect for civil rights, you have done little more than kick the can down the road.

Changing what Democrats WANT to do, who they want to be, and what sort of country they are actually willing to vote for and work to build, is what matters. Objectively, Obama and Bill Clinton contributed massively to the ills which lead to Trump. That needs to stop. There needs to be a Democratic President who rolls back what has been done, and then moves strongly to the left. Who dismantles the legal, regulatory, and institutional framework for tyranny, and who actually reduces inequality and increases prosperity for all Americans in a clear way they can feel.

Failure to achieve that, and, in tandem, to achieve a Congress which would work with such a president and oppose the inevitable future Republican presidents, will equal failure for the Resistance, no matter how many small successes they have, or even if they are able to remove Trump through impeachment or loss in 2020.

Slowing the rate of the downward spiral the US is on is good. Stopping it from getting worse is better. Reversing it and making it better is best and is necessary for long-term success and long-term security against leaders like Trump.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.



Trump’s Muslim Ban


The Method to Trump and Bannon’s “Madness”


  1. realitychecker

    Great post, Ian, and extremely timely from my point of view, having come within a hair of permanently losing a very close friend over dinner last night (someone who fled South Africa 40 years ago to escape incarceration for supporting the anti-apartheid movement); he clearly could not get past the idea that if I voted for Trump, I was now the equivalent of the guys who wanted to imprison him.

    I will add that he made it clear he had never read any negative news about the Democratic Party, even after I explained to him what habeus corpus is and what Obama did with it, his response was, “So, did Obama abuse it?”

    He said, “If you voted for Trump, that’s all I need to know,” and was willing to ride that all the way down. (I asked him,”What if I had said, the first time you told me you were South African, that that was all I needed to know to permanently reject YOU?,” but he couldn’t go there because he was in full rage mode.)

    Which is all to say, as I’ve been contemplating what can I possibly do to help him see the thought journey that took me to the point of voting for my first Republican ever, and despairing at the difficulty of it, that I think I will forward this post to him, in hopes that it can begin to open up a more rational, less emotional conversation than we had last night.

    So, thank you, Ian.

  2. Willy

    This one and Obamas Kos post are worth bookmarking under the category of “Direct Experience With Establishment Dems”. When new arrivals at any ‘kids tables’ get overly rambunctious, reason can be attempted first, before smashing the table to bits. And we don’t need an exasperated Dale Carnegie saying “Fuck this shit, I’m kicking your ass.”

  3. >Changing what Democrats WANT to do; who they want to be; what sort of country they are actually willing to vote for and build, is what matters. Objectively, Obama and Bill Clinton contributed massively to the ills which lead to Trump. That needs to stop. There needs to be a Democratic President who rolls back what has been done, and then moves strongly to the left. Who dismantled the legal, regulatory and institutional framework for tyranny; and who actually reduces inequality and increased prosperity for all Americans in a clear way they can feel.

    Good frame. Since the phant roll back, so must the donks.

    ( Fon d’parikulur – 11)

  4. Richard

    No, you just enabled people who were equivalent to those who wanted to imprison him.

    And yes, there were plenty of enablers, but be honest with yourself: Trump is not better than Neo-liberal Democrats. Trump is worse. The reason why Ian is pushing for a more effective resistance to Trump isn’t because Trump is better than Neo-liberal Democrats.

  5. EmilianoZ

    Were Hugh and Che Pasa part of Netroots?

  6. Richard

    And Realitychecker, false analogy.
    Your SA friend didn’t choose to be born in South Africa.

    You chose to vote for Trump. The right analogy is choosing to vote for the South African Nationalist Party that ran on apartheid.

  7. Peter

    I was under the impression that Ian was a Canadian living in Canada so when I saw him use ‘we’ describing his work with Netroots on Obama’s election it brought up questions. If you are a dual citizen or a refugee from the States there is no problem but if you are not there certainly is.

    Those were heady times when some people thought that blogs could influence the outcome of elections and drive real free political discussions. The Clintonites saw that the growing free thinking threatened their control and sent in the flamers, tamers and gatekeepers destroyed a great platform. The people from Netroots do get to show off the tire tracks left from when Obama threw them under the bus.

    It is amazing how Trump has taken the most annoying and limited form of social media, the tweet, and turned it into the most powerful political communication tool possible. Once powerful barons of industry cringe at the thought of being targeted by a Trump tweet while politicians know their missteps, lies or grandstanding will be responded to immediately and firmly. Millions of citizens get daily updates on the topic of the day directly from the CiC without the MSM’s interference.

  8. markfromireland

    Given the routine and cavalier manner in which Americans shove their snouts into other peoples’ domestic politics they’re in no position to complain when Canadians and other foreigners return the compliment. If you don’t like it don’t dish it out. Yankee go home and stay there – to somewhat modify the slogan.

  9. Ian Welsh

    I actually know of many US political operatives who have worked in Canadian campaigns, but I never gave nor accepted any money to any US politician and Obama’s campaign certainly didn’t want my advice. I know of quite a lot of foreigners who have worked for either Dems or Republicans, mind you, but I’m not one of them and, if you read the article carefully, you’d notice that Obama DIDN’T work with the netroots as a rule (the main exception I’m aware of was an American.)

    Clinton did not kill the Netroots. Obama did, though many Clintonites were certainly accessories.

    I’d be a lot less concerned about American politics if they didn’t infect everyone else’s politics. I don’t write about Switzerland’s politics much for a reason.

  10. Willy

    So how the hell does one turn from community organizer to establishment lackey anyways? Was it all BS? Political reality demands pragmatism over principle? After the men in black took him away, “He looks like Obama, he sounds like Obama, but…”?

  11. Willy

    Purely anecdotal, but I remember a couple crusty old Canadian fishermen in their smelly overalls schooling a few of us visiting Americans about the Bill of Rights. I’ve also been amazed by how much more informed Gambians, Kenyans and a Swiss girl I’d met, were about our stuff, than were than average Americans.

  12. bob mcmanus

    So how the hell does one turn from community organizer to establishment lackey anyways? Was it all BS?

    Yeah, I think it was all BS. I think he got made somewhere between Harvard and Univ Chicago.
    A designed and created weapon of party destruction.

    I haven’t read his autobiographies, but I gather he has a story about 60s-70s excesses in there.

  13. Frank Stain

    We will see how far this lesson has now been learned. What is not in dispute is the democrats transformed, over time, from a party that saw its voters as citizens who, in the interests of full citizenship, deserve protection from the predations of economic power, to a party that saw its voters as consumers whose interests could be served by technocratic risk management and run of the mill consumer protection. Everything that was wrong with the Dems’ response to the financial crisis can be discerned in this change. Once in govt., the Dems had boxed themselves into a view of the govt. as a ‘risk manager’ that does not want to interfere in economic life to right the balance of power, but rather sees the task as developing expertise-driven legislation to control risk. Citizens, on this view, are simply the passive beneficiaries of the wise decision-making of experts. It was because of this shift that the neoliberal Dems did not even try to cultivate broad support for attacking the increasing concentration of economic power. They simply went along with it, and presented themselves as superior, elite-expert managers than the other side.
    With that pitch to voters, it’s no wonder Dems have been doing a whole lot of losing in the last decade.

  14. Richard

    Willy & Bob:

    Nope, I do not believe it’s BS at all. Obama is who he is (just as Trump is who he is). That was clear even when Obama was a candidate in 2008. In the case of both Obama and Trump, however, you had people projecting their own values, hopes, and fears on to the guy, making him, in their own minds, someone that he was not. I was astounded in 2008 and I was astounded in 2016.

    And I don’t understand your disconnect. Why can’t a neoliberal be a community organizer?

  15. Hugh

    Peter, don’t you have some brown shirts to wash?

    EmilianoZ, I was never a member of Netroots that I know of. I sort of get the feeling that Ian is using Netroots as a catchall for various activities that range from MyDD to bopnews to townhouse listserve to kos and Netroots Nation to ActBlue in which for the early stuff Ian, Stirling, Matt Stoller, Jerome Armstrong were involved, and with Netroots Nation Markos Moulitsas of Dailykos, and ActBlue Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald. I have called all the connections, alliances, and falling outs of all these and quite a few other bloggers whose names you probably would recognize as the secret history of the blogosphere. Ian and Stirling were direct participants and some of this stuff happened before I hit the internet around about the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003-2004.

    Pretty much from the time I arrived to the internet, it was clear there was a faultline that existed between progressives who were skeptical of alliances with Democrats, and Democrats and the Democrat-oriented who favored them. These tensions would flare up from time to time but Obama’s 2008 campaign and election made them permanent.

    For my part, I wanted to leave two quotes about how little has changed. The first is from Kevin Phillips on NOW with Bill Moyers reviewing the 2004 Presidential election on November 5, 2004:

    Well, the worst thing to me is we’ve had so many second rate choices really, for the last 30 or 40 years relentlessly. It seems that that’s likely to be true in the future, too. I don’t see what changes it. I don’t have any sense that the average person sees a whole lot of hope for politics. And as a result, the turnout among young people, the people expected in this last election, didn’t materialize. I would hope that something would really engage ordinary Americans, not just those who are mobilized by churches and that was a very large percent of the mobilization this time, I don’t know what’s going to produce that.

    I think the United States is really in some respects, on the sort of downhill slope that the great economic powers of the world get when they’ve got this division between rich and poor, when they’re overextended globally, when they’re building up debt. I mean, this has happened many times before. It seems like it’s where we are. And I don’t expect politics to address that honestly. I don’t expect the people to be mobilized in a serious across the board way. And frankly, that makes me very concerned about where it’s all going. So I’d like to be proven wrong in the next four years.

    and an August 15, 2008 exchange between Bill Moyers and Andrew Bacevich that remains timely:

    BILL MOYERS: Do you expect either John McCain or Barack Obama to rein in the “imperial presidency?”

    ANDREW BACEVICH: No. I mean, people run for the presidency in order to become imperial presidents. The people who are advising these candidates, the people who aspire to be the next national security advisor, the next secretary of defense, these are people who yearn to exercise those kind of great powers.

  16. realitychecker

    @ Richard

    Maybe I wasn’t clear enough; the purpose of my query to my friend was to point out the shallowness and absurdity of making a final judgement based on a book’s cover, in this case, any one specific fact without bothering to learn anything about the background. Remember, he did not know any of the known negative facts about the Obama record.

    FYI, in case you don’t know, Ian is describing a process that played out while I was one of the most aggressive progressive voices at Firedoglake, where he used to be the managing editor, and which in the period he describes had become far and away the best progressive website.

    By the time of the Blanche Lincoln episode, I had already been pushing the argument that we needed to turn our backs on the Democratic Party as a lost cause. AND that people should read the Declaration of Independence and maybe even dare to have a discussion about it, our seminal founding document.

    So, when you now accuse me of becoming like a pro-apartheid thug for voting for Trump, you ought to take a moment and think a little deeper. I’m still just trying to get people to understand that the Democratic Party is as much their enemy as the Republican Party.

    Trump has shake-up value as an outsider, which is why you see all Establishment figures trying to bring him down; ponder that for a moment.

    Some of his policies are clearly correct, trade, border, rolling back stupid PC excesses, rule of law and accountability, checking the ridiculously bought-and-paid-for press, will all put us in a better place for regular people if he follows through.

    If he does not follow through, the people will see ever more clearly that they may need to actually hurt some bad guys to get the changes they want and deserve, just like the Declaration of Independence said.

    Either of those two outcomes leaves us in a better place than another wretched neo-liberal so-called lesser-evil Clinton Presidency would have. That is my opinion, and I am willing to stand by it.

  17. Hugh

    The Black Agenda Report out of Chicago nailed Obama, I think, even before he became a Senator. People sort of forget that Obama lucked into his Senate seat when his Republican opponent basically imploded in a sex scandal. Anyway, if memory serves, the BAR saw Obama’s community organizing as pretty minimal and more a way to suck up to those in power than build stronger communities. I see it too as a useful box to check off as an aspiring politician, one that gave Obama cred he did not deserve.

    Frank Stain, Democrats “presented themselves as superior, elite-expert managers than the other side.”

    That is what always got me about Hillary Clinton. Her argument was not that she would avoid the mistakes the Republicans made (like the Iraq war) but that she would do them better. I never understood how or why she and the Democrats thought such a FU strategy could endear them to the country and voters. And it didn’t.

  18. Willy

    “Why can’t a neoliberal be a community organizer?”

    Poor choice of words with the time I had. Whether it’s “hope and change” or “not a nation builder”, it seems all of the previous POTUS candidates sing to their wings then move to the corporate war center after elected. I’ve seen three poles of power for a while now, with one strongly influencing, if not outright controlling, the other two.

  19. Ian Welsh

    I don’t know if the secret history of the Netroots will ever be written, and I’m not sure of the value of it. I have, in a few posts, tried to extract the necessary “lessons” from its failures (and its successes, they weren’t zero.)

    A fair bit did turn on some individual decisions and infighting, though, which has served as a lesson to me that stuff that seem fairly minor can actually be decisive.

    While I consider Jane an ally, from the inside view, the primary collapse at FDL was internal, behind the scenes and ultimately based on her decisions. Perhaps the exterior forces would have been too much regardless, but I’m not sure that is true.

    Politics is about people, and at the organizing edge of any movement, party or group, it’s about the personal interactions of a few people. That seems unavoidable.

    Those lessons I haven’t written, but I don’t suppose they’re all that different from lessons many others have learned in similar circumstances and communities.

  20. Hugh

    Realitychecker, “Some of his policies are clearly correct … if he follows through”

    There is a world of difference between identifying issues, something that Trump is good at, at least compared to the supremely out of touch Democrats and actual policy. You know what you do about that issue you’ve identified. So far Trump has not even been able to organize a relatively straightforward travel ban without turning it into an enormous clusterfuck. And while he has signing Executive Orders like mad, most of them are extremely poorly written, would require Congressional action, or as with the travel ban convey an aura not of command but of not ready for primetime.

    Also his semi-actual policy proposals, like the 20% tariff on goods from Mexico or his public-private infrastructure partnerships, are looking a lot like regressive taxes on ordinary Americans. Can’t say I’m surprised, but not real clear how that is going to play in Peoria.

  21. Peter

    Ian, I think the statute of limitations has passed so don’t worry about the Mounties visiting. You or any other alien has the right to publish their opinions, warnings and advice about the US, that can be helpful. Using your connections to US voters to promote your partisan choice of candidates may be over the line behavior. Even Julian Assange who is accused of interfering in our election made it clear that he wasn’t personally supporting either candidate. Your writing carries some weight with some people and you know that two wrongs don’t make a right.

    For all intents and purposes Obama was a Clintonite surrounded by Clintonites but just slightly less insane and bloodthirsty. I think Trump is going to use his planned large budget cuts to quietly remove many of the Clintonite deep state operatives.

    I think what MFI writes about US interference in other countries politics is accurate and these countries in Europe and elsewhere are weak enough to be affected. The CIA and USAID are involved but I don’t think comparing that with your dalliance with foreign interference is a fair comparison.

  22. Tomonthebeach

    Very articulate summary of the problem, and what might be done about it. Alas, I fear that it will take yet another war to wake people up that life is serious business and that nobody likes a bully. Nobody outside DE liked Adolf, and now there is His Hugeness.

    Remember when we used to think of ourselves as the guys in the white hats, and the aims of comic hero Superman made us proud of his promotion of “The American Way?”

  23. StewartM

    Excellent post, Ian. I had wondered about what went on at FDL. I also agree that personalities and personal interactions count for a lot in any movement. I look at the arguments by your commentators in these threads and all the name-calling and wonder how on earth you’d get people like us working together towards even on the things we agree on.

    But the problem goes beyond what you say about progressives being unwilling to see a bad or untrustworthy Democrat lose. US politics is so corrupted I believe that many Dems would still rather lose even if progressives do withhold support because losing office is not the worse thing that can happen to them; the worst thing they reckon is losing their seat on the post-political career corporate gravy train. We can’t offer them the same monetary reward. And, given the same motivations, buying spokespeople who will contort themselves into knots justifying to the base why the latest sell-out from the Dems is actually the most progressive thing possible isn’t a problem.

  24. realitychecker

    @ Hugh

    I have the greatest respect for you, always have, always will, but I really don’t think you strike the right balance in evaluating Trump.

    Put yourself in his skin, the outsider being opposed by every element of the Establishment just for being the outsider.

    I think he understands, as a fundamental principle, that his only hope is to plunge ahead no matter whose doilies get disarranged. That may look like chaos to most, but what matters is, where will he be when the dust settles?

    So far, he has proven to be smarter than all his adversaries, and I think he will extend that run for awhile.

    FYI, I have been stranded in a North Carolina airport longer than anybody was stranded last night; nobody cried. IOW, faux outrage has become big business nowadays; resist the urge to fight for the merchandise. 😉

  25. Hugh

    My memories of FDL are that it had a great progressive commentariat that Jane jerked around a lot bringing in more conservative and Democrat oriented posters. Of her recruits, I have to say you Ian were by far the best. Marcy Wheeler was good on intelligence matters with some hits and some misses. David Dayan was OK, sort of on mortgage issues. And the crew she brought in to pimp Obamacare were just awful.

  26. Ian Welsh

    There were a few I liked particularly. Kirk Murphy was excellent, largely sidelined after I left. T-Rex of course could write a storm. Marcy is brilliant at a certain type of analysis and generally good on politics. Thers was an excellent writer. I disagree with TBogg on a pile, but he was and is a brilliant writer of a certain type scorn and put downs (and is an example of someone I personally like even though our politics are far apart). Pachacutec was excellent, but didn’t enjoy writing. Others were decent or even good (if I haven’t mentioned you, don’t take it personally, as editor I liked all the writers in one way or another.) Bear in mind I left February 09, so most of the newer ones I never worked with. David Dayen, whom I respect for the work he’s done, came on almost exactly as I left.

    The job was a lot of work for most of it, though. Not only was I managing editor, I was also writing most of the financial collapse coverage and as editor, I wrote the posts I couldn’t get anyone else to, but which I thought necessary to cover (so, for example, coverage of the South Ossetian War.) And managing editor was a nice title, but there was generally only one editor on duty at any given time, so as managing editor I did close to all the editing during my shifts, from assignment editing (cajoling, really, since the writers did get some money, but not much), to copy editing, to the fixes to pieces which require significan rewrites.

    I’m very glad I did the job, mind you, but it was extraordinarily long hours and hard work (70 hour work weeks were normal.)

  27. Ché Pasa

    The wheels have come off this Trumpian shitwagon and the only way for the regime to survive at this point is to go full-on Nazi. Don’t think they wouldn’t. Whether they’d be able to get away with it depends on their factional support within the government and the military. That remains to be seen. From appearances, they are very weak.

    The opposition includes far more than Democrats, “Clintonites” and such, as anyone who’s been paying attention to the crowds assembling in opposition to Trump all over the country would recognize. But it’s hard to do that when hatred for the Democratic Party and the Clintons-Obama clouds your judgment. The Democrats in office are for the most part not the opposition, let alone the Resistance. The idea doesn’t compute. They see the crowds and try to get in front of them, but it’s too late. They had their chance. They blew it.

    At times, the Netroots was its own worst enemy. Careerism was of course one of the disabling elements of the whole endeavor. The need for control also helped disable the effort. From the long-time hard core political standpoint, the worst part of the Netroots was its surpassing arrogance and naivete. The political sphere was moving in its own direction and the Netroots didn’t recognize what was happening until it was way too late. And I’m not sure it’s fully understood now. So many still think the mechanisms and institutions of politics and government can work correctly if only the right people are in office. But that’s no longer true.

    There may yet be a Bourbon Restoration once the Trump regime collapses, but I wouldn’t count on it. We’re in uncharted territory and what comes next could be anything. But even if there is a Restoration, its operations are likely to be based on some version of the Führerprinzip.

  28. realitychecker

    It seemed to me, as not an insider there but an ever-present commenter and supporter, that the whole atmosphere at FDL grew more authoritarian as Jane decided to get back in the good graces of the Dem Party as a better strategy than opposing them.

    It was my first hard lesson that the left could/would be like that once they thought they could get away with it, and the moderator censorship and arbitrary bannings that followed willy-nilly were what started to educate me about the reasons why the left no longer deserved my unquestioning allegiance.

    Still, Jane was great in the early days. FDL opened my eyes to a lot in the early days.

  29. Webstir

    Ian said: “ … control of a party matters more than the results of any individual election.”

    I concur. And this is why the Justice Democrats are in the process of putting together a true grassroots movement (not unlike the Tea Party’s astroturf movement) to primary out the Corporate Democrats.

    The Justice Democrats are an assemblage of Berniecrats including Cenk Uygur, and Saikat Chakrabarti, the Executive Director of Justice Democrats. Before Justice Democrats Saikat worked as Director of Organizing Technology for the Bernie Sanders campaign. An informative video of the Justice Democrats organizing principles and mission can be viewed here:

    I’m in. I’ve already made a modest donation, volunteered my legal services, and nominated a couple of candidates who can be trusted not to be sellouts.

    Thoughts on this movement in comparison to Netroots Ian? Personally, I didn’t think Netroots went far enough. We need a serious overhaul of the Democratic Party that stops short of nothing but the total implementation of Bernie’s vision … and more.

  30. Hugh

    realitychecker, it’s good to be appreciated. Trump has employed an army of lawyers in his life. Seriously, how hard would it be to call in a couple from outside or even on staff at the White House to read through his EOs and make sure they hold water? How difficult is it to hold a staff meeting before a major policy roll out like the travel ban, raise potential problems with implementation and how to address them. All this seems like Management 101 type stuff. I mean if you are going to hack a lot of people off, there is no reason to give a basis for their criticisms by shooting yourself in the foot and making unforced errors.

    What I’m afraid I’m seeing is that Trump is going to follow in the steps of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Feith crowd who felt people who actually knew something about something (like Iraq and the Arab world) could be belittled and safely ignored. They positively reveled in their ignorance, with catastrophic results.

  31. Hugh

    Forgot to add that a travel ban that didn’t include the Saudis is a joke. They should have been included or a plausible story should have been concocted for them not being on it. And no, I’ve sold them a lot of real estate is not a good cover story. It just deepens the hokieness of the whole effort.

  32. Willy

    Trump already had enough of an uphill battle for street cred in the integrity world after all those disparate characters (Tony Schwarz, George Will, Moby…) declared him a sociopath. Bannon over the Joint Chiefs Chairman? Not looking good so early in the game.

  33. Richard


    Yes, Trump definitely will and has shaken things up while Hillary is status quo, but having read a lot of history and knowing many parts of the world, I also know that there are many states you can enter that are a lot lot worse than what was the status quo in America.

    So here’s a question: What does Trump have to do to make you say “Trump is as evil/awful/dangerous as many people said and needs to be replaced”. I’m presuming that you’re not one of the Trumpers who will be cheering him on if/when he starts sending people to concentration camps (after starting a war). Plenty of those around in this country too.

  34. Webstir


    I hope you take no offense to this comment if I’m wrong on this RC, but I’m pretty sure he’s stated clearly in past comments that he wants to see the entire establishment burned to the ground and rebuilt from scratch. Trump is the gasoline that may act as an accelerant.

    And I’ve gotta say, I’m not too far off from that sentiment myself.

  35. Ché Pasa

    The Democratic Party is not the Left. It never was. It never will be.

  36. Webstir

    Che Pasa:

    I really don’t know how you can honestly say, “It never will be.” It would have been very easy for someone to say during Lincoln’s time that the Republican Party would “Never become Fascist.” But here we are. And yes, I know, there was no fascist party then. But you get my point.

    A party is only what the majority of people within it wish it to be. And for now, we’re stuck with it.

  37. Richard

    “I hope you take no offense to this comment if I’m wrong on this RC, but I’m pretty sure he’s stated clearly in past comments that he wants to see the entire establishment burned to the ground and rebuilt from scratch. Trump is the gasoline that may act as an accelerant.”

    Ah, the only problem with burning everything to the ground is that there may be plenty of people trapped inside those burning buildings (and not just the establishment).

  38. Richard

    BTW, Ian and everyone else:
    Have you folks read Stephen Skowronek and his theory of political time?

    Under his theory, Jackon, Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan are Reconstructive Presidents who managed to usher in a new political era with a new dominant political philosophy. They are followed by Articulating Presidents of their own party (like Truman, LBJ, and the Bushes) who carry on their heritage and opposing preemptive Presidents (like Eisenhower, Nixon, Clinton, and Obama) who try to push back, but because of the political atmosphere of the time, fail to push back much. Last come the Disjunctive Presidents of the dominant party, but with the ideology of the dominant party shopworn and the old electoral coalition falling apart, they try to move the old dominant party in a new direction but get replaced by a new Reconstructive President and new political era. These are guys like JQ Adams, Pierce, and Carter. And very likely Trump.
    If you look at it through that lens, of course Eisenhower and Nixon carry on the New Deal legacy while Clinton and Obama carry on the neoliberal legacy. In 1992, a neoliberal Democrat like Clinton is the only Democrat who could win the Presidency. He tried to provide more universal healthcare then but failed. Obama succeeded, but against vociferous opposition.
    Meanwhile, a Disjunctive President like Carter goes against New Deal principles and deregulates while Disjunctive President Pierce has an ideology that causes paralysis when it comes to the massive pressing issue of his time (slavery) so causes Bloody Kansas and the run up to the Civil War.
    The only period this theory can not explain is the 1896-1932 GOP era, but that a weird time when the Panic of 1893 occurred on the watch of the weaker (Democratic; and conservative) party while Teddy and Wilson were Progressives even if of different parties.
    What will this new Dem who wins in 2020 be like? The last transition can give us clues. Reagan was able to ride Nixon’s Southern Strategy and pair it with the deregulation that Carter started (bucking Democratic orthodoxy of the time) to start a new era of Neoliberalism, making the new era about a completely different issue (trade and destroying labor). Likewise, I believe the 2020 Dem winner will be able to pair Obama’s coalition of the ascendant with some Trump initiatives (possibly immigration controls, tariffs, or other things that buck current GOP orthodoxy) and make the new era about a completely different issue (the environment and global warming).
    And if Trump is truly a Disjunctive President, what will the country look like after 2020? One other thing is that I think that Michael Lind is also correct.
    You’re going to have one party of the urban areas and workers in finance, tech, and services (the Dems) and one of rural areas and workers in extractive industries, agriculture, and manufacuring (Repubs). This isn’t great news for Leftists. You won’t have one working class; rather, you’ll have 2 parties that favor the interests of their industries. The split, I’m predicting, will come down to global warming, and it may lead to a Second American Civil War as the countryside tries to starve out the cities.
    If Skowronek is wrong, however, the other path may be worse as I believe the only alternative to a Dem win in 2020 (and possible civil war) is Erdogan-style authoritarian repression by Trump (though we may be on a more authoritarian path regardless, so it’s just a question of what type of authoritarianism and whether you favor putting people in concentration camps or not).

  39. Ché Pasa

    I can say what I know about the Democratic Party — historically and as it is set up to be going forward. It is not a Left party. It is a conservative party. Currently somewhat to the right of the Tories.

    Dem Party takeovers by self-proclaimed “progressives” have been plotted for years and years, and they never get anywhere, partly because there is a long and deep institutional memory within the party that keeps even a takeover from truly turning it left. It can turn further right, however. That’s part of the institutional framework — and not just of the political parties, but of the system of rule in this country.

    Hugh probably remembers Karen Bernal and how she was treated by the California Democratic Party when she was Chair of the Progressive Caucus and she got uppity, calling for primarying Barack Obama for his numerous betrayals. She was right, but the Party circled the wagons and essentially showed her the door.

    But this discussion is pretty much moot. You can’t tear down the Establishment without destroying the systems that give rise to the Establishment. You can only replace the actors. And replacing the actors in this situation at best will produce a marginal change. Your Establishments will stay in place.

    Now if you want to discuss overthrowing systems, we might get somewhere.

  40. Chuck Mire

    Beyond Party Politics: While the online world was either asleep or watching infotainment, cat videos, sports, or tweeting their breakfast choice, this was happening.

    The USA has made a Faustian bargain with this administration.

  41. Virginia Simson

    The Dems exist to crush dissent.

    Any real grassroots effort will be highjacked as they’re doing the with #MuslimBan. The airport actions had effect so they move people away. From JFK to Battery Park … and so on.

    I’ll give them credit for smashing dreams and quelling legitimate dissent. Geniuses at it.

    Pelosi highjacked the outrage at Abu Gharib.

    Nuff said. You can make your own lists.

  42. Ché Pasa


    That’s the way it’s been, and the Dems are trying to corral the current rallies and marches — the Resistance as it were — but I don’t think they’ll succeed. This is way out of their hands and their ability to control.

    Part of the reason why is the much wider recognition of Dem betrayal than appeared to be the case before the election. The way the Dems in office have behaved, the way Obama did, the way Clinton did, Bernie did, Warren did, and on and on was appalling. They were all perfectly willing to pledge loyalty to Trump no matter what. Loyal opposition.

    That may be fine in other circumstances, but not these circumstances. Those in the streets are way ahead of the Dems. Dems can’t catch up. They would have to become what they’re not.

    They might, however, try to crush the Resistance in collaboration with the Trumpists and Rs.

  43. Richard

    The Resistance won’t be able to do jack sh*t without a majority. Now where will you get that majority from?

  44. V. Arnold

    Slowing the rate of America being worse is good. Stopping it from getting worse is better. Reversing it and making it better is best and is necessary for long term success and long term security against leaders like Trump.

    IMO, not one of your best efforts Ian.
    I think the evidence clearly shows the U.S. crossed the Rubicon on September 11, 2001.
    For the last 16 What I can envision are splinter groups fighting an armed insurgency; and creating an even worse scenario.
    Part of the U.S. insanity is a pathological optimism. And, it’s not really optimism because it’s rooted in delusion and fantasy creation. The population is firmly in the grip of fake news and a full on assault of government driven propaganda. That combined with a abject failure in critical thinking skills is a deadly combination.
    Just as there is no “going home”, there is no going back to the “good old days” that are a nostalgic look-back at something that never existed.
    Until that is understood; there is no possibility of anything other than a fascist, totalitarian form of governance.
    Collective hope is an illusion; always has been. Hope is only possible at an individual level, and must be firmly rooted in objective reality, IMO.years there has been a steady, purposeful march towards a totalitarian form of government.
    That it can be reversed will not happen short of a revolution; and the aftermath would likely be worse than the present.

  45. V. Arnold

    Sorry, that got screwed up on C&P.
    I’ll redo it.
    Ian, please delete that above.

  46. V. Arnold

    Slowing the rate of America being worse is good. Stopping it from getting worse is better. Reversing it and making it better is best and is necessary for long term success and long term security against leaders like Trump.

    IMO, not one of your best efforts Ian.
    I think the evidence clearly shows the U.S. crossed the Rubicon on September 11, 2001.
    For the last 16 years there has been a steady, purposeful march towards a totalitarian form of government.
    That it can be reversed will not happen short of a revolution; and the aftermath would likely be worse than the present. What I can envision are splinter groups fighting an armed insurgency; and creating an even worse scenario.
    Part of the U.S. insanity is a pathological optimism. And, it’s not really optimism because it’s rooted in delusion and fantasy creation. The population is firmly in the grip of fake news and a full on assault of government driven propaganda. That combined with a abject failure in critical thinking skills is a deadly combination
    Just as there is no “going home”, there is no going back to the “good old days” that are a nostalgic look-back at something that never existed.
    Until that is understood; there is no possibility of anything other than a fascist, totalitarian form of governance.
    Collective hope is an illusion; always has been. Hope is only possible at an individual level, and must be firmly rooted in objective reality, IMO.

  47. Tom


    Erdogan is not an authoritarian and was elected by a majority of the voters in an election with 98% turnout. He has also vastly expanded rights of minorities and the new proposed constitution allows 18 year olds to run for all government offices and gives the parliament the ability to remove the president which it currently doesn’t have and greatly increases transparency and accountability.

    Some authoritarian.

  48. Peter

    Hysteria and tinfoil hats abound but there is no resistance beyond the prepackaged feeble Soros type of neoliberal counterrevolution. The rubes are being led around by the same activists who led them to their loser doom behind the failed Red Queen.

    Even with the media traveling the world looking for victims and the lawyers gearing up for inspirational pleadings the story is passé and Trump supporters are waiting for his next decisive move. The state department is now ready for new management and we are seeing how easily the executive can rule during these transitions.

  49. Richard

    Under Erdogan’s Turkey:
    Tens of thousands (including journalists and teachers) jailed for political reasons or no reason at all.
    Hundreds of thousands of judges, prosecutors, security forces, and academics fired for political reasons or no reason at all.

    If that isn’t authoritarian, then what is your definition of authoritarianism?

    BTW, Mussolini was also elected by a majority. Would you say that Mussolini was not authoritarian?

  50. EmilianoZ


    Thanks for your answer. Is Corrente some kinda offshoot from “the Netroots”?

  51. bigorangecat

    tbogg was a pile of shit who made fun of a fruend of mine who was desperately struggling to find work while his father was dying of cancer. ian you so full of shit on your empathy push if you like tbogg.

  52. Webstir

    Lambert Strether, of Naked Capitalism fame started Corrente. Not sure of his real name.

  53. Tom

    Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General was just fired by Trump for refusing his orders to defend the ban in court.

    Expect more firings. The war with the Deep State is now in full swing.

  54. Hugh

    Lambert got booted from FDL because of his support for Medicare for All and criticism of the public option. Not sure why I didn’t since I was doing similar things. Later, I got booted by Lambert from Corrente and made unwelcome at NC for making fun of Randy Wray and MMT. Wray is an idiot, and I think that Lambert and Yves still don’t understand MMT, in particular its limitations or how poorly constructed it is as a theory.

    BTW Lewis Lambert Strether is a character in Henry James’ novel the Ambassadors.

  55. EmilianoZ

    I haven’t read Skowronek. All I know of his theory is second-hand from Corey Robin who seems to like him a lot. The theory seems very interesting but I think it’s very charitable to classify 0bama as a preemptive president. Or rather, he was a preemptive president because he chose to be one. He could as easily have chosen to be a reconstructive one. After the immense shock of the 2008 financial meltdown, the US was ready for something new. And that’s exactly why he was elected. But the Hope he quickly quashed. And the Change we never got.

    In a way it boils down to the question of free will. Are presidents completely determined by the circumstances they find themselves in or can they change those circumstances? Since Skowronek cannot account for some 40 years of presidency, maybe there is hope for a voluntary approach.

  56. TimmyB

    “So how the hell does one turn from community organizer to establishment lackey anyways? Was it all BS?”

    Community organizing is what law school hopefuls did to polish their resumes so they could get admitted to Harvard Law School. It was ticket punching and that’s all it was.

  57. One point that Ian – And others of far more political weight – is the difference between a president and a prime minister. A president must keep commitments made by his predecessor, though he is of course not honor bound to extend any of them. A Prime Minister has a good deal more leeway. Thus firing someone who is actually doing their job is not allowed for a president. All political appointees needed to resign – but not those who actually did their jobs. so firing a nonpolitical appointee for doing their job was forbidden – that is what the Saturday night massacre exemplified.

    When Trump fired the acting attorney general, he was not within his rights – because she questioned the legality of a position. Contrary to what a CEO in chief would demand, she actually had a particular question on the order, and set her mind to doing it. Now Trump could demand her resignation, and should get it, but firing her is not the same as demanding resignation. What it tells everyone in the executive branch is that they can be fired at any time – which is not the way executive positions are filled.

    The difference between getting a resignation and “everyone serving at the pleasure of his Majesty” may seem an arcane bit of folklore – but it is actually one of the reasons for civil service. Trump wants to do everything the moment that he thinks of it, which is not the way laws actually work. this means that the US is now in violation of the law, and will remain in violation of the law as long as it sticks to the idea that “promises made can without question the promises broken” is in place on every single thing the US government has you sign. Kerry v. Din makes it clear that within US territory they cannot simply turn people around, even though they have the power outside US territory.

    This in fact strikes at the heart of the judiciary and its power to review.

  58. Tom


    Trump was certainly within his rights to fite her. She is not a covered federal employee, but an Obama appointee who serves at the pleasure of the president.

    So that argument isn’t going to fly.

  59. Ché Pasa

    @ Richard

    The Resistance won’t be able to do jack sh*t without a majority. Now where will you get that majority from?

    A majority of what? Need some context here.

    If you’re talking about an elected majority in Congress and the statehouses, that’s not happening any time soon, and if voter suppression efforts and election jiggering continue on their current path, it will never happen. By design. The design is a virtual one party state; genuine opposition forbidden. “Managed” opposition maintained to keep up appearances.

    It can be run just as well by Democrats or Republicans or an amalgamation of the parties. It can be headed by a demagogue or a technocrat, it really doesn’t matter. The US has had quite a lot of experience with this form of one party state, so it wouldn’t be seen as necessarily a bad thing, in fact, I think it would be comforting to a lot of people.

    But the set of political agreements that enable that kind of one party state to exist and endure have broken down. The situation within the government is highly unstable — it probably would have been had Clinton won, too, but in a somewhat different direction. There is considerable and relatively normal opposition to Trump’s rule within the permanent government, and it extends to factions of the military and the so-called Deep State. The congressional opposition is weak, almost non-existent in truth, and the people in the streets are giving them hell.

    The energy and power of opposition and resistance is in the streets, not in the corridors of power. This is not unprecedented, but under the circumstances, it is further destabilizing. The chaos spreads. The center cannot hold.

    Having a majority — in congress, say — really doesn’t matter at this point. The entire power structure is being discredited and delegitimized. Trump has never had a majority of the people or the voters behind him, and the signs are his popularity and approval ratings are cratering (always with the proviso that polls can be manipulated for desired results.)

    So where do we go from here?

    This is what I think our rulers are trying to figure out, as are the people in the streets.

  60. >Trump was certainly within his rights to fite her. She is not a covered federal employee, but an Obama appointee who serves at the pleasure of the president.
    So that argument isn’t going to fly.

    No he wasn’t. But enough people will think so. But enough will think so – such as bureaucrats. Even W did not do it – he had a shambling pile of neocons to put up an excuse. But that took months, and Trump does not have the wear with all with all to do that. Without that patina, when someone other than Trump gets caught in the spotlight, they will have that deer in the headlights look.

  61. Hugh

    I believe the Sessions vote for AG will be later today. McConnell reinstated the filibuster. The current make-up of the Senate is R 52, D 46 I 2. Both Independents, one being Bernie, caucus with the Democrats. You need 60 votes to invoke cloture and move to a final, simple majority, vote. The Democrats have the votes to stop Sessions if. they. want. to. at the cloture vote. If they don’t, it won’t be because they couldn’t, but because they didn’t want to.

  62. Tom


    Donald Trump is both Head of State and Head of Government and is invested with Executive Power, this is not a Parliamentary Democracy, but a Democratic Republic. Trump did not nominate Yates and she is just filling in till Sessions is confirmed. Her service was at the president’s pleasure.

    Whether you agree with the ban or not, Federal Law does grant Trump the right to bar non-US Citizens, Green Card Holders are not citizens by the way, from the US.

    Trump is well within the law as written and has the previous Administrations to thank for that.

  63. Steve C

    Obama’s biggest wrong was embracing austerity. That’s by far the biggest reason we have Trump. The direct cause of the first-ever decline in US life expectancy. Whether or not that is a sign of societal collapse, it sure feels like it.

  64. dude

    I think Yates’ termination is a line in the sand for Democrats and most any other force intending to resist Trump. If resisters do not make this the premier example of Trump’s extremist tantrums and inability to govern, they will lose every other fight that follows. This is not a fight about whether he has the legal capacity to fire someone and the moment the argument swings that way, you lose.

  65. Eureka Springs

    Yet another classic Ian post. Thanks as always, Ian.

    A few random points in general response/reaction to post and comments as well as some related thoughts I’ve had as of late.

    All those Act Blue / Blue America candidates/action deigned to take over or create mo and better Dems… all of it failed miserably. There is not one sitting Senator or Congressman we elected who was worth it.

    All this hair on fire Democrat ‘resistance’ is just bizarre. It will fail in no small part for many of the same reasons Occupy did…. and in short I will say the number one reason OWS failed was because of Democrats… and I don’t just mean Obama, DHS, FBI, Dem mayors, but most of all the self identified Dem peeps.

    After all these years I must say Progressive is as meaningless a word as any other I can think of… beyond a very small number of well read people it is abused, deservedly so, but abused into oblivion none the less. Above all it should mean – feckless, aimless, incoherent coward with no ability to look at ones own character. In other words just about the same meanings in Phil Ochs – Love Me I’m a Liberal. Bernie Sanders before and during the Dem convention is a perfect example. And to her credit Jane Hamsher nailed Bernie years before this when people were tossing his name around a potential pres material.

    Blanche Lincoln… Jeezus. I was still helping out at fdl during that time, had been for several years at that point, and I am an multi-gen native Arkansan, also a resident. I didn’t know Jane and whomever were supporting an opponent until I read it in an Arkansas publication. And that candidate was so gawd awful I can’t even remember their name. I’m sure I voted for neither. However to some of their credit Blanche was kicked out, she lost to the Republican in the following general. The AR Dem party to this day has learned nothing, changed none of their ways all while they’ve gone from multi-decade total control of the State to an almost obsolete party.

    It’s a shame there are so few Dem peeps who have yet to look in the mirror and when they try they cannot see why they are frustrated to point of hair on fire in any detail. And this is one of the major reasons why they are as dangerous as any they oppose. It’s also why there must be a party (I think multiple parties) established with policy at the forefront, with a bottom-up democratic process establishing the platform first, with binding obligations to promote the platform by whatever candidates and sitting representatives promoted to do so. Otherwise people of any stripe will be misled, unclear, incoherent, aimless, manipulated.

    Even the Greens or other third parties don’t do this. I don’t know what it’s going to take but there is really no point in participating in party politics and easily rigged, bribed elections until these things are established somewhere.

  66. This particular incident produced a lot of protest because it touched the Democratic base in an emotional way that other issues do not. If you want to mobilize people to produce “more and better democrats” or “replace the current party system” you need to do so in a way that touches people on this emotional level.

  67. Tecchie Berners were a significant part of Bernie’s success (= meteoric rise, not eventual victory). See Progressive Coder’s Network is carrying the torch, with (I presume) large numbers of Bernie people who want to continue to build out what I call “democratic infrastructure” (small d).

    They are officially non-partisan. Which is why an independent such as myself can join, in good conscience. (Though I don’t consider myself progressive on many issues.)

    While people who are looking to embrace politics beyond the level of just voting every couple of years are, naturally enough, driven by issues and/or ideology, I think all citizens looking for a way out of the current mess should at least consider supporting an “infrastructure first” approach.

    The public is, collectively, fabulously rich in votes. In fact, the public is monopolistically rich. The corporations don’t have a single vote, hence their need to participate in the legalized bribery system of campaign contributions, etc. The public knows that the cards are stacked against them. This inhibits political participation, and activism.

    However, creating disruptive and “leveling” technologies can thus, indirectly, help change mindsets, and eventually civic behavior. As an analogy, you might not want to fork over hundreds of dollars to pay for a tax professional to do your returns, and thus despair of saving tax dollars like the big boys, but you will happily use free or low cost programs like Turbo Tax to get “almost as good” advice.

    Some quick examples: bernie bnb (like air bnb), ride sharing, distributed phone banking (done from home, with call targets obtained via app/internet).

    Lessons from the decline of NetRoots could well prove critical to whatever users of Progressive Coders’ Network develops, to avoid being similarly co-opted by corporate Democrats….

    I have advised a Green friend that hosting internet based software from repositories like those produced by Progressive Coders’ Network should (IMO) allow them to cobrand the effort, thus creating political capital. Capital that can be spent via cajoling people to vote for their candidates on Election day, rather than stay home and say “What’s the point?”. Likewise, providing some of the leaders for use of such programs, with the expectation that leveraging their efforts this way will allow them to recruit foot soldier volunteers who appear, into the Green Party. Progressive Coders’ Network relies on volunteers, so I assume that most, if not all software is open source. So, it’s “there for the borrowing, and co-branding”.

    Similar considerations for progressives who aren’t Green should apply.

  68. What happened to Jane Hamsher? Has she retired?

  69. Peter


    If you continue to depend on superficial western propaganda about Turkey these large numbers will remain incomprehensible and your conclusions will be misled by those who want you to babble misinformation.

    There is a strong tendency in the west to fear any ME Islamist force especially when it has mass support and uses democratic tools to gain power. Many people in the west will only accept a western style secular system imposed on people who are not western as legitimate which is the heart of imperialism.

    The reality of what Erdogan faced after the coup was a country thoroughly infiltrated by the Gulenist Cult for almost a generation. The investigations of this horizontal dual state were well underway and announced actions are what set off the coup prematurely. Most of the arrests you mention have been of military personnel connected to the cult and the coup. The large numbers of other people removed from their positions of authority just shows how deep and wide this cult had penetrated Turkish society.

    For comparison to something closer to home you might look at the deeply entrenched Clintonite Cult and what challenges Trump faces in ferreting out these anti-democratic forces.

  70. realitychecker

    @ Hugh

    I think the best part of my response is to just refer you to the early portion of Ian’s following post, which is exactly the ay I see what is happening.

    I would just add that, as I see Spicer saying, that advance warnings might allow some bad guys to rush in (makes sense to me), and that when you plan to make sweeping changes throughout a multi-layered behemoth like our government, you cannot do it all with perfect efficiency no matter how hard you try, so speed may be the best path to overall effectiveness AND efficiency. (I used to mange a factory business; the more moving parts, the more waste and inefficiency when you make a change.)

    Honestly, I can’t be too disturbed over the minimal disruptions and inconvenience suffered by any refugee wannabes in this instance–after all, they are supposedly desperately trying to escape total certain death and destruction, RIGHT? In that context, how important is a bit of delay and inconvenience before you are admitted to the Promised Land?

    If we are not careful, we are all going to drown in the runoff from all the melting snowflakes. 🙂

  71. realitychecker

    Edit: the way, not the ay; manage, not mange. 🙂

  72. anonymous

    Reply to EurekaSprings: Right there with you. If I may add, the straw in the wind was Ned Lamont’s 2006 run to represent Connecticut in the US Senate. Lamont, who ran from the left, won the Democratic primary against incumbent Joe Lieberman with 52% of the vote and enthusiastic Netroots support. But Lieberman defied the will of Connecticut’s Democratic primary voters and refused to quit. He formed a fourth party and beat Lamont, keeping his Senate seat. Lieberman was in many people’s view, the actual Republican candidate; he raised over $10 million while Republican ballot placeholder Alan Schlesinger raised less than $1 million.

    Tellingly, Bill Clinton put Lieberman over by stumping for him actively, speaking at Lieberman campaign rallies. Lieberman also enjoyed support of centrist Democratic media personalities such as Jonathan Chait.

    No wonder Pelosi continued to fund the Iraq War even after Dems took control of the House in 2006. It’s what they wanted to do, and Clinton’s support of the pro-war Lieberman telegraphed this. The episode was a bitter disappointment I’ll never forget.

    At least some of the whole dirty story is here.,_2006

  73. Thanks for this post. One comment:

    You noted, “The control of a party matters more than the results of any individual election”, and I agree … but that’s only if there *is* a party left in opposition to The New Order.

    One checkmark in a dictatorship is the reduction of organized political ‘opposition’ to toothless insignificance, if it isn’t banned outright.

  74. The Netroots failed to elect anyone of their own people to Congress. So all they did was create the echo chamber of pro-Democrat rhetoric they were correctly accused of. Critics of Obama’s neoliberalism recognized almost immediately that Obama exploited that liberal bias in the mainstream media that was abetted and supported by the likes of JournoList, FireDogLake and MoveOn. Now those bloggers have moved on to traditional left journals, like Mother Jones, but what have they actually moved in politics? Nothing but words.

    Meanwhile Tea Partiers did rallies and actually elected people. The Netroots mistook their filterbubbles for thoughtful America, and their inclination is to defriend and doubledown, as well as to make politics a horse race rather than a horse trade.

    The solution is to empower, really empower, a Constitutional Libertarianism. That means elect them to Congress. Everybody should understand by now that the GOP and the Democrats are all about grabbing the brass ring of government power we have refused to decrease in size and scope. That means that Trump should be applauded for stripping federal agencies of power if and when he does so (and also prove that mediocrities can preside over such agencies without drastic consequences for Americans).

    This is not about waiting for the next Bernie Sanders. It’s about standing for election now. Progressives have demonstrated their ability to paint the Democrats into a corner too far to the left to satisfy the majority of Americans, and a discombobulated GOP won because of that, building on the real world results of Tea Party candidates.

    Trump IS America’s Third Party.

  75. Very good. So did you support Jill Stein, Mr. Welsh?

    Because you’ve made it crystal clear that working “with” the Dems is just shooting yourself in the head.

    And yes, I’m a new commenter, here from Naked Capitalism.

  76. Hugh

    I wanted to correct my statement above. Some Cabinet and agency candidates are having cloture votes, but these seem to be requiring only a simple majority to proceed to a final vote. So the traditional 60 vote filibuster does appear to be gone. I would assume, if a candidate is confirmed without a cloture vote, it is being dealt with through unanimous consent.

    So on January 30, the cloture motion on Tillerson for State passed 56-43 on a near party line vote with only Heitkamp (D-ND), Manchin (D-WV), and Warner (D-VA) among the Democrats voting for. King (I-ME) also voted for. Heinrich (D-NM) did not vote.

    And today, January 31, Elaine Chao was confirmed as Secretary of Transportation. Chao is the wife of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Her nomination was a clear bribe to McConnell, but blatant nepotism isn’t just considered normal, it is widely supported in Washington as her 93-6 vote for confirmation illustrates. Booker (D-NJ), Gillibrand (D-NY), Merkley (D-OR), Sanders (I-VT). Schumer (D-NY), and Warren (D-MA) voted against. But the real story is the other 41 Senate Democrat votes for her.

  77. Francis


    How would you feel about allowing white South Africans to come to the U.S. as refugees?
    They would be fleeing persecution based on their religion and skin color.

  78. realitychecker

    @ Francis

    Um, did you read the first comment on this thread? 🙂

    It was a naturalized citizen from South Africa who viciously attacked me for casting my meaningless vote for Trump (here in Georgia, all votes are meaningless, it always goes for the Republican Presidential candidate). Irony is a lost art.

    I love the melting pot idea. Gotta come legal, gotta melt when you get here. Gotta not be coming here with the intention to kill American citizens.

    See, I’m easy.

  79. Webstir

    This thread is giving me a fucking migraine.
    All this talk about Netroots, FDL, grassroots movements, and Tea Party successes in the face of liberal echo chamber impotence.

    But waaaaay back up the thread I posted link to the Justice Democrats.

    Didn’t get a single passing comment … Fucking crickets. Seriously?

    This is the kinda shit that makes me want to just go 200% cynical and drop out of the human race. That communists, democratic socialists, progressives, liberals, democrats — or whatever fucking appellation you want to append to a left leaner — can’t get close to agreeing on anything for the benefit of this country simply astounds me. We talk about the right being selfish, but come on. The way the left cherishes their little pissant intellectual bubbles defies words.

    Now, I repeat: The Justice Democrats are in the process of putting together a true grassroots movement (not unlike the Tea Party’s astroturf movement) to PRIMARY OUT CORPORATE DEMOCRATS. No corporate donors. All voter driven. They are an assemblage of Berniecrats including Cenk Uygur, and Saikat Chakrabarti. Before Justice Democrats Saikat worked as Director of Organizing Technology for the Bernie Sanders campaign. An informative video of the Justice Democrats organizing principles and mission can be viewed here:

    Do a google search. At least give their message the time of day.

    And on that note … good day.

  80. Hugh

    Webstir, I figured the most polite thing was just to pass on it. Cenk Uygur was a Hillary supporter and his career and positions are problematic to say the least. Kyle Kulinski is a protégé of Uygur and part of the Young Turks Network. And Zack Exley is tied in with MoveOn which always struck me as more Democratic than progressive. And yes, Chakrabarti was part of the Bernie campaign. But I pointed out from when he announced his candidacy that A) he would fold, sooner or later and B) he would suck all the money and energy out of coming up with a real progressive alternative to Clinton and the Democrats, one who would fight and wouldn’t fold. I think the name Justice Democrats indicates that Democrats are their target audience and not progressives like me, nor for that matter white working class voters who switched from Obama to Trump. I get tired of all these people who claim to be progressive and yet I never seem to cross paths with them anywhere in what I would consider the progressive blogosphere. They may appropriate some of our positions, or parts of them, but they never interact with us. They do not speak for me. I looked at their positions on wiki “Justice Democrats”. It’s a list, not a vision. It reminds me of the Hillary campaign. If they had a position paper on something, they thought that they had addressed the issue.

    Maybe the youtube is better and I will try to see it sometime, but for now I am unimpressed. I mean more power to them, but it’s not for me. I’m done with Democrats pretending to be progressives.

  81. Tom in AZ


    Thanks, I will look into it. This trip down a depressing memory lane was a reminder to stay pissed off. I recognize a lot of names here. Read FDL daily, delivered gear for Occupy Supply. It was a roller coaster in those years, and the infighting going on seemed like a circular firing squad with words.

    The last time I had contact with Jane Hamsher, she was about to have hip replacement surgery.

    My thanks to all of you folks from those days, Netroots, and others. I am too lazy tonight to go back and look, but who ever talked about tea-partiers getting it done has a point.

  82. Webstir

    This is a spurious assertion: “Cenk Uygur was a Hillary supporter and his career and positions are problematic to say the least.” Why Hugh? Because he supported Hillary after Bernie was basically railroaded by the DNC? I did. My reasoning? I didn’t think the cost benefit of losing the SCOTUS was worth it. That in an era of gridlock, the court is just too important. But hey, I’m a lawyer. Maybe it was a bigger deal to me than you. Regardless, Cenk was on board with Bernie from the start, and is back to supporting his vision.

    And this:
    “But ‘I’ pointed out from when he announced his candidacy that A) he would fold, sooner or later and B) he would suck all the money and energy out of coming up with a real progressive alternative to Clinton and the Democrats, one who would fight and wouldn’t fold.”
    This is exactly what I was talking about when I said:
    “The way the left cherishes their little pissant intellectual bubbles defies words.”

    So YOU pointed it out, eh Hugh? Well whoopdedoogoodforyouhugh!
    Bernie fought a pretty shrewd battle. The perfectly “pure” progressive agenda does not have a prayer against this:
    Bernie made calculated concessions to pull in a bigger base. It served him well. After the current debacle, if the purists can find it within themselves not to sabotage the effort, lessons will be learned and a stronger movement can be built. End of story.

    And again: “I get tired of all these people who claim to be progressive and yet I never seem to cross paths with them anywhere in what I would consider the progressive blogosphere.”
    Who cares? Really? Is what this country is experiencing right now all about a dick measuring blogosphere contest? Because from your language, it seems like it is to you & Lambert, et al. I’ll say it again “The way the left cherishes their little pissant intellectual bubbles defies words.” Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

    And finally, this little gem: “It’s a list, not a vision. It reminds me of the Hillary campaign.”
    Yeah, right. Because the Hillary campaign was ALL about not accepting corporate donations and getting rid of politicians that do during the primaries. Are you for real?

    Hugh, if you haven’t noticed, not everyone in this country needs a PhD thesis to make up their mind on who to follow. They need a model. Lego’s and Lincoln Logs, not a Jackson Pollack.

    Intellectual bubble, thy name is Hugh.

  83. different clue

    Some of the purity leftists demanding total allegiance to their one-particular-theory-or-another of what to do reminds me of that saying by French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre’ . . .
    now how did that go . . . . oh yes — “Hell is left wing people.”

    @Webstir, I am still collecting random thoughts about what little I may know about survivalizing . . . about which I haven’t forgotten that I owe you an answer.

  84. Hugh

    Well Webstir, if you had just said we had the choice between agreeing with you that Justice Democrats are the best thing since sliced bread and agreeing with you that Justice Democrats are the best thing since sliced bread, we could have saved a lot of time.

    Good to know though that Bernie is another eleven dimensional chess player. Maybe he, Obama, Clinton, Trump, etc. could sponsor a tournament.

    And is being a purist what you guys are calling being prematurely correct nowadays? If you don’t want an honest assessment, then don’t waste my time asking for one.

  85. This is not about waiting for the next Bernie Sanders. It’s about standing for election now. Progressives have demonstrated their ability to paint the Democrats into a corner too far to the left to satisfy the majority of Americans, and a discombobulated GOP won because of that, building on the real world results of Tea Party candidates.

    Interesting. So you think that progressives painted the Dems into a left-wing corner, and because they were too left, they lost?

  86. realitychecker

    @ Webstir

    You’ve come a long way in a short time, but you don’t know everything yet, amigo. (Nobody does, but experience is the path to getting there.)

    The history that bores you above represents many years of hard, good faith effort to get change through the Democratic Party. We’ve seen betrayal at every turn, and have learned that the guys who betray you once, are more than happy to betray you again if you give them a chance. They are the world champions at co-opting any nascent movement that threatens their status quo.

    We have also learned how easy it is to uncritically embrace a new wannabe hero/leader, so desperate are we to believe that anyone with a high profile might actually be on our side.

    If you did not live thru the learning process of these lessons like some of the old-timers have, then please allow me to give you some of our hard-earned wisdom for free. Save your energy for forging new strategies for the future that don’t strike the more-experienced as a waste of energy re-learning the obvious lessons from the past.

    I think you have great promise, but beware the zeal of the recent convert. It has ruined many a good man.

  87. realitychecker

    I would like to add (and this is not just for you, Webstir, but for many), that it is foolish to casually dismiss the significance of accurate predictions made at a time when the conventional wisdom was concentrated in a different direction.

    At the least, it means that the accurate predictor is a better analyst than those who could not generate accurate predictions.

    From that, it follows that those with a record of accurate predictions should be treated with something closer to reverence than to mockery.

    The last thing a rational good faith actor should want to do is demoralize and discourage proven good analysts and accurate predictors from continuing their efforts. If they give up in disgust, only inaccurate predictors and other assorted fools will be left to lead/mislead you and be your allies.

    Food for thought. Every fool has an opinion he is willing to trumpet, but accurate predictions are the best measure we have of whose opinion might be worth listening to.

  88. Webstir

    I do appreciate the feedback, seriously. I’m not saying you’re wrong. As realitychecker points out, I’m certainly no oracle of delphi. But, too often, I think those with differing opinions simply fall to their knees before the throne of the blogosphere masters. I’m simply pushing back (apparently harder than is necessary sometimes) against what I see as an all too often unproductive narrative. As is often repeated to newcomers in AA, “Your best thinking got you here. Maybe it’s time to listen to someone else for a while.”

    Essentially, what has me so riled is the left’s repeated inability to cohere, which as a result leads to political paralysis. Or, as they say in Forest Service circles, “analysis paralysis.” I can’t express it any better than Tom in AZ just did upthread:
    “It was a roller coaster in those years, and the infighting going on seemed like a circular firing squad with words.”

    Yup. A circular firing squad with words. Well put Tom.

    Finally Hugh, I don’t remember saying the Justice Dems are the “best thing since sliced bread.” I’m saying, right now, they are the ONLY thing even resembling bread. The bread being a simple, accessible, leftist goal driven, populist platform that has the potential to make a difference.

    And RC, I’m not sure Hugh even made a prediction. Is “Bernie would fail to fight” a prediction? Would Bernie have won if he had slung mud? Again, I’m no oracle. And by whose definition of terms? Hugh’s? I’m sure Bernie thought he put up a pretty good fight. And is Bernie “sucking money” away from some idealized progressive candidate that wasn’t even in the race a prediction? Seems more like predilection than prediction to me.

    I agree with you that it’s foolish to casually dismiss accurate prediction. That’s why I’m on here. I think Ian has good track record. So does Yves, Archdruid, and yes, (grudgingly) Lambert, and I’m rapidly beginning to respect Jerri-Ann Schofield more and more. She cuts right to the chase. I think Cenk can be included as well, although my instincts tell me clique mentioned above simply find him too gauche.

    Well, as a progressive rural Western Montana native and now rural N. Idaho insurgent, I can be be pretty gauche too. Sorry for the assault on everyone’s refined sensibilities.

    Rant over. I’ll move on now. Peace…

  89. realitychecker

    @ Webstir


    Like I said, you show promise. Love the AA wisdom.

    The left has been called a circular firing squad for a long, long time. There’s a good reason for that, which is, that they always wind up shooting everyone in their circle.

    One could probably write a doctoral thesis exploring why, but, in deference to the shortness of life and the limits of my energy, let me submit for your consideration that extreme lefties are always idealists at heart, and as such, they give their egos too much free reign to assume that nobody else is as smart or pure as they, as individuals, are. So, from that POV, why not shoot those inferior saints? (Like, e.g., my friend who voted for Clinton, Obama and Hillary just accused me today of having “blood on your hands” for voting for Trump who never killed anybody.)

    Hugh has a long, long record of seeing things before others did, and so do I. Nothing more frustrating than being beaten up for being right, but that is how it goes on the left (see preceding paragraph lol.)

    Yes, “Bernie is a sheepdog” was a major prediction, that we would have done well to heed.

    Yes Bernie showed who he was when he declared there was no reason to go into Hillary’s email situation, even while that was the thing that would have revealed how they were actively fucking him out of the nomination. Any fighter worthy of the name, or of leadership, would have seized on that and beat her to death with it every single day, but he gave her a pass. So Trump got to use it to beat her to death, instead.

    There is great value in seeing these things in advance, just like foreseeing that the Iraq War was being sold on lies, that Obama was a rank corporatist, that so is Hillary, that the election system could never yield real progressive change, and so many other things that were clearly predicted well in advance by the most savvy of us, and were violently and disrespectfully dismissed by those who were nothing but wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Cenk was/is one of the best that made it into major media, but even he sold out a bit by endorsing the devil Hillary. Let’s be real, you don’t endorse real evil, period. You find a way to resist it, you don’t endorse it.

    We need a breakdown of the regular order now more than we need anything else.

    Finally, there’s nothing wrong with gauche, I love gauche. It’s real, and not phony. Fuck the non-gauche. 🙂

  90. Webstir

    Amen RC. Words to live by 😉

  91. jayackroyd

    Was it all BS? Political reality demands pragmatism over principle?

    Obama lied, yes. He led his supporters to believe he was a change agent when he decidedly was not. However people who were listening carefully, like Ian, were not fooled.

    I think this rests on two elements. First, Obama and the Democratic elite really believe in the neo liberal program; they’re ideologically committed to what they see as the inevitable result of globalized labor markets. Second, they think people who don’t recognize this reality are contemptible idiots, not deserving a role in setting policy.

  92. Webstir

    @jayackroyd & @realitychecker:

    John Michael Greer has a new post up that, if I read your recent comments correctly, make me think you may find it interesting. Interesting to RC in that he spend a lot of time speaking to accuracy in prediction. And interesting to jayackroyd in that he speaks to “ideologic[] commit[ment] to what they see as the inevitable result of globalized labor markets. Second, [that] people who don’t recognize this reality are contemptible idiots, not deserving a role in setting policy.”


  93. realitychecker

    @ Webstir.

    Read the link, nothing wrong about it, but nothing that great, either. Could learn more about predicting by reading about Isaac Asimov’s concept of psychohistory in his classic Foundation series, and it’s more enjoyable, as well.

    But, that aside, I will predict that JMG will never be as good at predicting as I am.

    I also predict the the future will be bicycles running on cow farts. The rich will have tricycles running on alpaca farts. 🙂

    Globalization should have been plain to foresee 25 years ago, and was, the only question was whether any effort would be made to manage it somewhat humanely. We were promised it would, they lied. Now, the thing that’s clear to see is that even the coolie-waged will get squeezed into oblivion by the robot revolution.

    The contemptible idiots are those who don’t realize that they have been scheduled for extinction or insecthood, and that they should have started fighting back a long time ago.

  94. Webstir

    @TheMule … oops, I meant to say RC.

    JMG is among a long list of prognosticators (Paul Ehrlich, Ed Abbey, JHK, et al) whose predictions (I feel) are accurate, but history has yet to catch up with them. And in truth, they are indeed psychohistorians in that they see the limits of the human psyche to change the downward spiral of their civilizations.

  95. realitychecker

    @ Webstir


    Oh, good, you’ve read Asimov.

    I don’t demean those guys, but I don’t substitiute anybody else’s conclusions for the ones I reach through my own analysis, either.

    Analysis and prediction are high-level arts that require continual learning and refinement to keep them accurate. You only know me through our truncated little exchanges here, but I know me a lot more thoroughly, and I know there are not many better qualified to do what I do. A big plus is that I know for sure I am never trying to deceive myself to further any agendas.

  96. Webstir


    Oh yes. I was definitely a bookish lad. And I agree with your not “substitiut[ing] anybody else’s conclusions for the ones I reach through my own analysis” statement. However, we are all shaped in our early years by those we read/fail to read. Ed Abbey made an indelible impression on me in my 20’s. As well as Asimov. He’s probably the reason I became a psych major.

    In regard to sci-fi art predicting reality, if you’re still into that kinda stuff, I highly recommend Peter F. Hamilton:

    Should our civilization make it that far, I can see many of his predictions coming to pass.

  97. realitychecker

    @ Webstir

    There is no doubt that reading sci-fi 70 years ago would have prepared one better for the realities that came to pass better than any think tank did. (Don’t omit Heinlein.)

    And obviously exposure to the best thinking of accomplished thinkers is a good, and not a bad, for one’s own development.

    But new data is always streaming in, so nobody already in print can be said to have incorporated all the available information; thus, one’s own intellectual machinery will always be critical.

    It’s a source of constant if rueful amusement to me that nobody ever mentions IQ as being an important ingredient. Too PC, I suppose. (sigh)

    BTW, I am not the Mule, but Trump might be.

  98. Arkadiy Belousov

    >There needs to be a Democratic President who rolls back what has been done, and then moves strongly to the left. Who dismantles the legal, regulatory, and institutional framework for tyranny, and who actually reduces inequality and increases prosperity for all Americans in a clear way they can feel.

    Words to live by. However, this will never happen. It will never happen because there is a contradiction hiding in your vision. Please correct me if I am wrong, but afaik anyone on the left who wishes to reduce inequality and increase prosperity expected to use the government power to accomplish that. Therefore, dismantling the legal, regulatory, and institutional framework for tyranny deprives the reformers and the revolutionaries of necessary tools to accomplish their goals.

    Again, I may be wrong, but my impression of the left side of the spectrum is that the motives and goals are everything. The tools, the framework for tyranny, are perfectly fine to use as long as they are used against the correct targets, such as hate speech, greedy corporations and idle rich.

  99. Richard

    Peter: Illiberal democracy is not something I’d wish on people.

  100. Richard

    EmilianoZ: I think it’s both. It’s partially circumstances and partially the President. Skowronek certain believes that some Presidents are put in to circumstances where they can (or have to, in the case of Lincoln) change the nation greatly. Others are constrained by circumstances. Others also by the environment they were brought up in (pretty much all the disjunctive Presidents are fated to fail because the circumstances are terrible and/or they were fated to be terrible for that time*). I agree that Obama had a chance to be a Reconstructive President, but not a very good one. He had a tight 2 year window and had to be perfect in his moves (and remember that Obama is a very good campaigner already) in order to overcome a still strong and well-funded Tea Party countermovement. If a Democrat wins in 2020, they have have a much bigger window. For instance, in 2009, the Koch libertarians were still strongly in the corner of the GOP. But in 2020, given the choice between a white nationalist GOP that tramples civil liberties and lefty Dem that increases taxes, libertarians may just throw up their hands and withdraw from politics (as the evangelicals had done for decades before the ’50’s). That shifts the balance of power a lot.

    * For instance, keen observers of the GOP would have seen that a white nationalist-enabler like Trump had a big opening to take the GOP in 2016, but it’s hard for the Reagan coalition to survive once the GOP morphs in that direction.

  101. nihil obstet

    Richard: Obama’s “tight 2 year window” was a function of his failure to deliver the change he promised. Bail out homeowners instead of bankers, pursue a health care plan that actually enables access to health care, maintain the 50-state strategy and respect for the organizations what brung ya’, appoint a Cabinet that’s somewhat less obviously committed to the interests of the rich, and the Democrats do not get wiped out in 2010. They might even have increased their majority as they did in 1934 as a result of Roosevelt’s active efforts to help the majority of people in the wake of financial distress. (And this doesn’t even get into the really moral stuff that some of us care greatly about, like not bombing people in countries that are no threat to us, reforming the horrors at home of our incarceration nation, and working for a justice system that holds rich and poor to the same standards.)

  102. Richard

    Nihil: Obama was also a product of his time, just like Bill Clinton was. Remember that Hillary was actually to Obama’s left in 2008 and more willing to see the Republicans as they are, not as you may wish them to be, but the dominant faction in the Democratic party wanted a multicultural post-partisan neo-liberal, so that’s what they got. It’s not realistic to then expect a post-partisan neo-liberal to then suddenly become a fiery liberal New Dealer once in office.

  103. nihil obstet

    Richard: Not that it matters, but I guess I don’t understand the point of your comment above. Obama had a chance to be something he wasn’t, but he wasn’t going to be something he wasn’t? OK, but then what does the 2 year window that party Democrats carry on about over and over and over again have to do with anything real?

  104. realitychecker

    @ Richard

    Well, Hitler was also a “product of his time,” so . . .

    Stalin, too.

    Pol Pot, too.

    Need I go on?

  105. Richard

    Nihil: They had the power but it wasn’t in their character to use that power.

    realitychecker: I think it depends on circumstances. I don’t know enough about Cambodia to comment though I don’t believe a Cambodian Communist leader had to be as brutal as Pol Pot was (the Vietnamese Communists weren’t).
    I’ve thought about Weimar Germany a lot, and yes, once Bruning started his financial repression, Hitler was probably inevitable.
    In the USSR, I don’t think the top leader had to be as paranoid and bloodthirsty as Stalin.

    So in short, leaders elected in democracies tend to be more the products of their time. Totalitarian ones not as much. They have even greater leeway to shape how they will turn out.

  106. realitychecker

    All that power, zero responsibility. Nice little amoral worldview you’ve got there.

  107. Richard

    Way to set up a strawman and put words in my mouth, realitychecker. Did I say they were not responsible? Do you honestly think that I don’t hold Hitler responsible? I hold Obama (and Hitler, and Pol Pot/Stalin/etc.) responsible for what they did/didn’t do just as I hold you responsible for voting for Trump.

    But the reality is that Nazis will Nazi and neo-libs will neo-lib (and pissy leftists will piss away their vote on an abomination).

    Do you honestly think Hitler would change stripes after he gained power? That Trump would change stripes? Then why would you ever think Obama would change stripes after he gained power?

  108. realitychecker

    @ Richard

    I think ethical people must have some bright line beyond which they will not make excuses for horrible behavior.

    But I guess you are ALSO a “product of your time,” because many others have already made the point that relativism has already taken us to a place where there is no interest or concern in upholding any moral absolutes anymore.

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