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

Stirling Newberry and Ian Welsh on Virtually Speaking Tonight at 9pm Easter

You can listen live here.

(Same link will probably work for listening after the fact, will update if not.)


On Social Security Cuts


So, compared to McCain, was Obama actually the lesser evil?


  1. anon2525

    Thanks for the notice. I hope that the sound/volume balance is good.

  2. Celsius 233

    ^ Seemed okay this time ’round. Good talk as usual. There was even a note of optimism; loosely quoted, “…maybe in a hundred years in a radio interview, we’ll look back and say…”
    Nah! Not gonna happen… 😉

  3. anon2525

    Yeah, I thought that was optimistic of Stirling Newberry, too. It was “…in 200 years…” There’s good reason to think there will not be a civilization in 200 years. That includes historians.

  4. Celsius 233

    ^ No argument from this end on that; cycles, it’s what I like about Hinduism, cycles, forever, life and death only on a galactic scale.
    Hubris keeps us from reality…
    But I digress: I found it difficult to keep track of who’s, who, because this is only the second time I’ve heard them speak and the first time the sound was terrible.
    But in a way that didn’t matter a whit…

  5. anon2525

    Hmm. Newberry points out that Kennedy had sex outside of marriage, but he forgot Eisenhower’s widely-rumored relationship with his female driver (Eisenhower did not learn to drive until he left office). So, there would have been two Stevenson terms. But, of course, once you start re-writing history, you have to go back to everyone that had sex outside marriage, and eliminate them. But then once you start stipulating that condition for public office, then you have to figure that politicians would have long ago adjusted to the new reality. This all gets, um, silly? pretty quickly.

  6. Celsius 233

    anon2525 PERMALINK
    July 8, 2011
    This all gets, um, silly? pretty quickly.
    Yes, it does; but then, what’s life without some silliness?
    Too serious is dangerous to one’s health! Axiomatic really…

  7. Ian Welsh

    The idea that sex is easily controlled is beyond silly. People have been having sex with folks they knew would get them in trouble since recorded history. Sex is a powerful force, people who don’t understand that are the silly ones.

  8. Hi Ian,

    I responded to your comment on my blog, but though I should post it here too.

    You’re right, I was wrong. I assumed you supported Obama during the primaries because you never tried to stop the Obot rampage at FDL. I apologize for mischaracterizing your position. I happened to stop by your blog this morning and after reading your most recent posts (following on the horrible economic news of the past few days), I was about ready to slit my wrists. So I ranted a bit here and on Twitter.

    I’m definitely no purist. I would have been thrilled if Obama had acted like a Democrat, even a conservative one. In fact I would have been relieved if he had acted like a Rockefeller Republican–or even a Nixon Republican! But I could see the writing on the wall back in 2007, and I just couldn’t believe all the people who bought his snake oil. I’m glad to know you saw it too.

    I think it would be great if the liberal blogs could work together to fight back, but those of us who were loudly speaking out about Obama’s conservatism back in 2008 are still being shunned. I don’t want to be hostile, and I hope you’ll accept my apology and work with us in the future.

  9. anon2525

    Sex is a powerful force, people who don’t understand that are the silly ones.

    My mistake. I already made my points on this subject back in that thread on the oligarchy overplaying its hand. I should have kept my mouth shut.

  10. anon2525

    I just couldn’t believe all the people who bought his snake oil.

    There’s an interesting (or is it weird?) symmetry going on: The right-wing wants to have a “crazy liberal socialist” as its opponent, and so that’s what it sees, no matter what the facts are. The supporters of the democrats want obama to be the “change they can believe in,” and so that’s what they see, no matter what the facts are (although more wake up to reality all the time). “Truthiness” reigns, for the moment.

  11. Enjoyed the program.

  12. @anon2525:

    I think you’re onto something with the weird symmetry thing. And Obama certainly plays the cipher role well. Although with just a little effort, he can be seen through, but the public doesn’t seem much up to effort these days.

  13. anon2525

    …the public doesn’t seem much up to effort these days.

    Maybe, or, as Nader has observed, there is a lot of “dry kindling” accumulating, waiting for a spark to light it. After all, where are all of the individuals to go? We don’t have large unions as we once did. We may be waiting for our Tunisian moment.

  14. Celsius 233

    anon2525 PERMALINK
    July 8, 2011
    We may be waiting for our Tunisian moment.
    But we’ve never been into self immolation…

  15. Ian Welsh


    think of FDL as a low circulation newspaper.

    1) The moderating at the time was done by a moderation team. Folks used to blame authors for moderating comments on their posts all the time, but we virtually never had anything to do with it. Even as managing editor, it literally wasn’t my job or my department. I had the theoretical ability to do it, but I never ever did it myself and I think I may have asked the mod team to look at a comment all of twice in all my time there. This is not a criticism of the mod team. I know them, I like them, I think they mostly did an ok job, but they moderated as they were told to moderate.

    2) FDL has a publisher. That publisher is Jane Hamsher. Editorial freedom, even at the very top of the heap, is limited by what Jane wants written. FDL has editorial positions, for example, during the health care debate FDL was for the public option. I don’t recall ever seeing, on the front page, a post trashing the public option. Likewise during the primaries the rule was “don’t endorse, don’t destroy.” Front page writers for FDL could not, at FDL, endorse a candidate, they could also not make any criticism of any of the major candidates (Edwards, Clinton, Obama) which would make it impossible for FDL to support them. FDL was going to support whoever the Democratic candidate was.

    No worries about things. I thought Obama would suck, I had no idea he’d suck as bad as he has. TARP and the stimulus made it clear how awful he’d be on economic issues (and I did say the stimulus wouldn’t work in Jan 2009, the day it was announced, at FDL). But you couldn’t out and out attack Obama in Jan/Feb of 2009. I tried to end run the problem by posting at Huffpo, but while they’d let the posts through, they wouldn’t put them on a vertical, meaning virtually no one read it. No one wanted to hear it,l anyway. Even today I come across people who are still mad at me for slagging Obama “too soon”. And to be fair, at the time we thought that however bad Obama was, and many of us knew he was going to suck, McCain would be worse. I just thought the left should pressure him hard, and once it became clear the Stimulus was inadequate (ie. Jan 2009) that we should go into opposition so we would not as tainted by his failure and to have maximum leverage (ie. like the gays get more by being oppositional than playing nice, as we discuss in the interview.)

    I now think it’s arguable that Obama is worse than McCain would have been (leaving aside the Palin issue). I don’t think McCain could have cut SS, for example. OTOH, McCain stood a good chance of going to war with Iran, and that would have been very very bad. So really, who knows.

    Again, no worries. I’m far from perfect, and Obama is worse than I expected. And I suppose I could have walked from FDL sooner than I did, but as I say, I agreed at the time that Obama, despite sucking, was still better than McCain.

  16. BDBlue

    One of the better comments I’ve read about Obama was from a commenter whose name I don’t remember, but it went “I expected to be disappointed, I didn’t expect to be appalled.” I knew he’d be bad – how could the guy who ran to Hillary Clinton’s right on economic issues not be bad – but I’ve been stunned at how much worse he’s been on what I would consider “no-brainer, any D would do it” stuff that is simply a political benefit to his party (and doesn’t actually threaten the economic order all that much).

    I’m still making my way through the podcast, but I think the sex stuff is only a cover for destroying people the elite want destroyed. Clinton was a known philanderer before he was elected. Didn’t matter to the voters. And after Lewinsky while Versailles went crazy, again voters saved him. I think he’d have beaten Bush in 2000 if permitted to run. Certainly 1998 was a very bad year for the GOP. Edwards had already lost before his scandal came out, so whatever his problems, those weren’t it. Spitzer’s problem went beyond just sex since it involved not only illegal activity but illegal activity he had personally waged a crusade against. And, even that, I suspect he could’ve survived had Wall Street not wanted him out, which means no one in his party was going to support him. Weiner’s district voters were pretty clear in polls, IIRC, that they wanted him to stay at least until they got to decide in the election, but Dem leadership didn’t and signaled repeatedly that they wanted him to resign.

    What I would say is that the Dem leadership and the corporate media use sex scandals to try to weaken/destroy elected officials who are a threat to them in some way (even small threats like Weiner). It’s not necessarily that voters agree. It’s that it gives the party an excuse to pull support. And it’s also true that a lot of these men have families so sticking it out means enduring day after day of intense media coverage which is embarrassing and puts pressure on those familial relationships. Look at the price Bill Clinton paid (think of Chelsea reading the Starr Report) in the short term even though he arguably won. The problem is that the party and the media make it very difficult to fight even if the voters may be willing to give you a second chance. I’d say it’s another example of the political elite not really caring what the people think.

  17. anon2525

    Short versions:

    Me: “It’s the stupidity, stupid.”

    Ian Welsh: “It’s the impractical left–they push their people out when the matter is sex, but the pragmatic right-wing does not push its people out when the matter is sex because they don’t care about men lying to their wives. As a result the left prevents many good people from running for office.”

    BDBlue: “It’s the oligarchy. Cross them, and they will destroy you using sex.”

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