It amazes me just how many people in the media live in a highly insulated world and see everything through the prism that President Obama is responsible for all that came before him and all that lies ahead. They seem to live in a world without context, or nuance and create their own narratives.
The latest narrative that prompted this angry rant is the idea that somehow President Obama is responsible for the entire mess on Wall Street, because he didn’t swoop in and lock up all those evil bankers and hedge fund managers. I certainly understand Republicans trying to pin the mess on him — that’s politics — but when people like Frank Rich and Matt Taibbi jump on the bandwagon, I am reminded why I must blog.
Frank Rich wrote a lengthy piece the other day that tries desperately to pin the whole Wall Street mess on President Obama, and he issues all sorts of dire warnings and predictions about Obama’s reelection. According to Rich, Obama hasn’t sufficiently investigated the mess, hasn’t made heads roll and of course, he hired people from within the mess to work for the administration. Here is a paragraph from Rich that shows symptoms of the contagious Obama Derangement Syndrome.
What haunts the Obama administration is what still haunts the country: the stunning lack of accountability for the greed and misdeeds that brought America to its gravest financial crisis since the Great Depression. There has been no legal, moral, or financial reckoning for the most powerful wrongdoers. Nor have there been meaningful reforms that might prevent a repeat catastrophe. Time may heal most wounds, but not these. Chronic unemployment remains a constant, painful reminder of the havoc inflicted on the bust’s innocent victims.
There is a very simple answer to why President Obama didn’t make them “accountable”. IT WAS ALL LEGAL! And it was made legal by a legacy of deregulation that was created by Presidents Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton (maybe the worst of the bunch) and of course, President G.W. Bush. I’m not exactly sure what the critics would have President Obama do, declare martial law on Wall Street and start arresting people for crimes they didn’t commit? Some wanted him to even nationalize the banks? That would have went over well, I’m sure.
I know that Frank Rich and Matt Taibbi aren’t stupid, so why is it so hard for them to remember the real causes of the financial mess, and the myriad forces (and money) aligned against the President as he was trying to correct it. What they are doing is a form of “blame shifting”. We all know who is responsible for the mess, but you can’t read either Rich’s or Taibbi’s latest pieces and find much acknowledgment of that.
Here is another passage from Frank Rich’s piece that caught my eye and illustrates the tactic of “guilt by association”, one used by the critics who want to blame everything on the President and dismiss any accomplishments.
What has he done to deserve it? All anyone can point to is his December 2009 60 Minutes swipe at “fat-cat bankers on Wall Street”—an inept and anomalous Ed Schultz seizure that he retracted just weeks later by praising Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein as “very savvy businessmen.”
Really Frank? Calling two of the most successful businessmen in the country “savvy businessmen” automatically “retracts” what he said previously? Did you just declare that? I’ve read both statements in there entirety and there is no contradiction.
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I listen to the podcast of Real Time with Bill Maher and I have to give him credit for inviting some good guests from time to time, but unfortunately he also gives platforms to people like Andrew Breitbart and Ann Coulter to spread their hateful messages. In Episode 218, available at iTunes, the first 20 minutes or so was pretty good, because it seems like every false meme that Bill spewed was shot down pretty quickly by his guests. He was unusually wrong that night.
He repeated a line that is vintage Bill Maher, catchy, clever, but completely wrong. Here it is…
It would be kind of a tragedy if we got to the end of four years of Democratic rule without having really tried any Democratic policies. – Bill Maher
I’m sure that line appealed to the “where’s my pony” crowd, but for people who are paying attention to more than just the negative spin coming from the loudest voices in the libertarian wing, it is obviously complete horseshit. I’m not referring to Hamsher, Greenwald, Adam Green, Huffington, Moulitsas or the rest of those folks as the left anymore. Anyone who helps Republicans get elected and damages the Democratic Party in our two-party system, doesn’t deserve to hang with us on the left.
Let me help Bill Maher with some reality. First, is it “Democratic Rule” when Republican’s have forced a super-majority of 60 votes on every bill that comes into the Senate chamber? Is it “Democratic Rule” when every single fucking bill that comes before the congress has an ultimatum attached to it by any number of Senators, each of whom can filibuster without even having to drag their lazy asses to the Senate floor? And of course, since 2010, when many who are listed above were either openly telling Democrats to stay home or implying it, Republicans have had control of the House of Representatives, which in case Bill didn’t know, actually writes the bills and appropriates the money. Is that “Democratic Rule” Maher?
He then goes on to say “without having really tried any Democratic policies”, which is the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard. He dismisses the Affordable Care Act because it didn’t include the public options or a single payer system, neither of which would have any chance of getting even enough Democratic support. The ACA was the most liberal, “Democratic” legislation to pass since Civil Rights in the 60’s. If that isn’t trying Democratic policies for your ass, I don’t know what is.
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I would like to offer a slogan for Chris Hedges and the rest of the “poutrage” crowd: Losers Unite!
People wonder why so many of us in the New Left Blogosphere get so angry about the incessant attacks on President Obama and the Democratic party from those who claim to represent the left. For me, it’s about a future for my granddaughter and all the young people I care about. It is one thing to criticize and try to persuade a president or party to change, but it’s quite another to be a trojan horse, intent on bringing down the party from within. And that is exactly what Chris Hedges of Truthdig admitted recently.
I’m sure you remember Chris Hedges as the author of the Cornel West story that caused so much shit to hit the fan a few months ago. Well here is Hedges telling us his real motivation and hero, from Democrats for Progress (I don’t want to give Hedges any clicks)…
If elections were that effective, as the anti-war activist Phil Berrigan used to say, they would be illegal. We must follow the path Nader forged, attempting to sway enough people with conscience to sever themselves permanently and unequivocally from the mainstream and especially the Democratic Party.
I have no idea what that first sentence is even trying to say. Can anyone help me with that?
And did you catch the “especially the Democratic Party” line? I have to wonder why he thinks the Democratic Party should be the target even more than Republicans. To me, it reveals that the motives of this gang of anarchists isn’t progress or helping people in any way, it is to exact revenge on a political party for failing to bend to their demands. The Democrats are a party that is made up of many voices that speak for all sorts of different groups, children, women, the poor, the sick, GLBT’s, the elderly, college students, teachers, unions and many more. It apparently fails to be doctrinaire and rigid enough to satisfy them. Most of these Democratic politicians go into public service wanting to make a difference in their communities and help people. So let’s attack them and make some money off it. It’s the new American way.
And Chris Hedges really wants to follow Ralph Nader’s path, because I guess that’s worked out so well for Ralph? It’s a perfect metaphor for the movement though, Nader has never really been interested in any kind of grass roots politics, he’s never run for any local offices, the House, Senate or dog catcher for that matter. He wants to jump to the head of the line and be President. Much has been written about Ralph and how he operates from former employees, but that’s the model Chris Hedges wants people to follow?
And he wants people to “sever themselves permanently and unequivocally from the mainstream”, basically, make yourself an outcast, make yourself insignificant, irrelevant and join us on the sidelines where we can lob grenades at people trying to actually do stuff. What’s with hose damn people trying to do stuff, anyway? And really, would people with a “conscience” want to marginalize themselves along the lines of Hedges, Hamsher, Greenwald, and the rest of the band of boneheads?
If Chris and this crowd really think they are going to have any success in bringing down either political party, especially with the childish approach they are taking, they really need to bang their heads against the wall for about 5 minutes and see if that knocks any sense into their brains. I’ve had exchanges with some of these folks where I told them that if they really want to break the two party system, they need to organize at the local level, run candidates, get elected, do good work and rinse and repeat. Shit, they could just use the Tea Party model, who have had way too much success at it lately (minus the good work part). I think it speaks volumes that they aren’t even as smart as the folks in the Tea Party.
I decided long ago that if I really wanted to have an impact on society and do my part to help make our country a better place, that I am much more effective trying to change it from within. Since both political parties have all the money, the platforms and control of the system, to think that any grass roots movement could have a chance against them is just fucking crazy. Even the Tea Party people were smart enough to fold into the Republican establishment and gain traction. There is no reason why we liberals shouldn’t be able to do the same within the Democratic Party. But it takes time and patience. The extreme fundamentalist Christian right has been methodically and systematically infiltrating the GOP from the local level for more than thirty years in order to achieve their current party dominance. But the Poutrage Posse lacks that kind of discipline and focus, preferring instead to fling poo at the President, which, while clearly satisfying to them on some emotional level, is probably the least effective way to attract new supporters who are willing to do any actual on-the-ground organizing for change.
Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles
I have a busy day today, but for now I want to steer you to this great piece from Eclectablog that seems appropriate with everyone getting their panties in a bunch about the compromise that is coming down the pike on the debt ceiling. Once again, we will see and hear the immaturity of some on the “professional left” because you know, what is this thing everyone calls compromise and why is it getting in the way of what I want…a pony! The piece is from April, but is timeless. From Eclectablog…
And when they don’t have anything to get upset about, that’s no problem. They just invent something. Here’s the playbook for your reference:
- Read the day’s headlines.
- Determine a spin that characterizes the President and his administration in the worst possible light.
- If such a spin does not exist, postulate what the President and his administration’s response will be. Make sure that it is as negative as possible, even if it contradicts his past behavior.
- Write endless blogs on how the President has once again sold his “base” down the river and kicked hippies in the teeth (after punching them, of course.) It is not necessary for him to actually have done this. Your prediction that he WILL do this is sufficient.
- When what you predicted turns out to be quite wrong, ignore that and focus on the next day’s news item. No point in issuing a mea culpa. Just raise a fuss about something new and nobody will notice.
- Lather, rinse and repeat.
Go read the whole thing and learn what the term “whinging” means.
Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles
Salon.com used to be one of my favorite websites. I would even promote it to my friends and family – back a few years ago. I was always a little annoyed by the ads I had to watch to get a day pass, but I tolerated it. I watched as the site gradually morphed from being anti-Bush to anti-Obama, in many ways they seem to have just replaced the names. I stopped reading them very soon after noticing this shift.
Well it has come full circle now and the main writers for the site are openly antagonizing Democrats and supporters of President Obama. Last night on Twitter, Joan Walsh and Glenn Greenwald both lobbed loaded tweets into the mix, apparently trying to goad some of us into a Twitter brawl. The funny thing is, the circle of folks I travel with on Twitter, for the most part, ignored them. We surmised that they were trying to increase attention and thus traffic for their failing site. Here is a tweet that clearly shows Ms. Walsh’s dislike for all of us who support our president…(emphasis mine)
@joanwalsh Funny to watch Obamalovers savage Frank Rich. He was one of his most ardent, earliest MSM defenders in 2008.
Personally, I think the “Obamalovers” word is a play on the “n” word version that I was called throughout my early life. My best friend and first “girlfriend” in grade school were black, I heard that slur many times in my young life. But others didn’t necessarily see her use of that word that way. Glenn Greenwald has also used “Obamalover” in referring to us Democrats who support the President.
The “defenders” comment leveled at Frank Rich, who has written a twisted piece of late on President Obama, is almost as bad. It contains that subtle implication that there is something that needs to be defended. A very presumptive framing that basically labels and dismisses the person in one fell swoop. I’m surprised it didn’t include “dear leader”, another favorite of the people on the left who suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome.
The following is a snippet from a great piece that I will probably revisit in future posts, it’s really good. It’s based on a post called “14 Propaganda Techniques that Fox ‘News’ Uses to Brainwash Americans”, except Marion at Addicting Info points the spotlight on the “professional critics” as I’ve been calling them lately. From Marion…(emphasis mine)
Meanwhile, we’ve seen Hamsher and her cronies on the FDL site refer to the President as “the Affirmative Action President,” “Bugaloo Bush,” and even “the house nigger.”
It’s not just the President for whom they’re aiming. Olbermann and Joan Walsh, inveterate Twitterers, regularly engage in punching down at followers from the Left who disagree with their opinions. Olbermann’s favourite tack is to address these people as “morons.” Joan tells people to “get help” or she opines that their lives must suck (to be so stupid as to dare disagree with someone so far elevated by appearances on television that they must know the subject about which they discourse).
In fact, quite recently, Joan reckoned that anyone who vigorously defended the President was actually a GOP troll, most likely paid by Andrew Breitbart, and that these people would do more damage to Barack Obama than anyone else.
The other day I Tweeted a snarky comment to Joan Walsh, more as an observation than anything, but I saw a title of a post that Joan Walsh had up at Salon about the death of Clarence Clemons. The title was “How big was the Big Man? ‘Too F-ing big to die.’ Bruce Springsteen remembers the great Clarence Clemons and their early interracial bromance”
Here is my Twitter exchange with the one and only Joan Walsh on the above title…
Me: So @joanwalsh just called Clarence Clemons and Springstein’s relationship an “interracial bromance”…WTF, why did she have to add race?
Joan Walsh: @ExtremeLiberal Because Springsteen (that’s 2 E’s) added race in his incredible eulogy, which you clearly haven’t read. Sad.
Me: @joanwalsh I see, so that makes it OK to call it an interracial bromance? He was talking about the racism that the Big Man suffered.
Me: @joanwalsh What is sad is your lack of self-awareness. At least you didn’t say you were punching down, I’ll give you that.
Me: @joanwalsh I just read your post, is there more? I could see using bromance, but why add the interracial part, isn’t that kind of obvious.
Joan Walsh: @ExtremeLiberal I see you still haven’t read the eulogy.
Me: @joanwalsh I just read the whole thing, still don’t see why you had to characterize their friendship that way? Why?
I really didn’t see it as that egregious, but was just pointing out that for some reason she had to portray it as an “interracial” bromance. I liken it to when people talk about someone and feel compelled to refer to them as black, whereas if they were talking about a white person, they wouldn’t feel the need to say they were white. It’s a subtle thing that annoys me and I make a concerted effort to never do it. Joan justified her use of it by implying that Bruce Springsteen had used it, when all he talked about in his eulogy was the racism “The Big Man” had suffered in the early days of the band. So apparently because Bruce talked about race, then Joan has permission to call it an “interracial bromance”.
I used to work for a video rental chain that I learned was quite racist. I was just out of college, working as an assistant manager and was asked to interview some part-time employees. A guy applied who was African American and I sent his resume and application to the home office in Illinois. They liked it and told me to interview him, which I did. I hired him. I never mentioned his race, why would I? Well I remember the first time my boss, the District Manager walked in and saw him. He was clearly irritated and asked me to walk outside with him. I didn’t play his game of innuendo and basically insulted him in a round about way.
It baffles me why these people at Salon, Firedoglake and others, who like to drape themselves with the “progressive” label, are fighting so hard against the most liberal president we’ve had since FDR. Joan Walsh’s out of the blue tweet disparaging us with “Obamalover” and “defenders” was clearly an attempt to goad us into a Twitter brawl or to create some controversy so that people will go to her website. Greenwald does the same thing with the titles of his posts, he’s trying to get traffic by insulting or riling up people who support President Obama. How pathetic is it that they have to rely on negative traffic to keep their advertisers happy.
Don’t give Salon.com or Firedoglake.com the clicks they so crave. Resist the urge to click when they try to lure you in to their lair. They are using you for your clicks and want you to link to their bullshit posts for even more clicks. Stop it!
REPOSTED IN FULL FROM PCTC (Please Cut The Crap) – written by Milt Shook
When all is said and done, if you want to know why the politics in what should be a liberal country such as the United States has been dominated for 30 years by people who should be situated on the fringe, if you’re on the far left, look in the mirror. If not, look at the far left.
A quick perusal of the leftist “blogosphere” shows people who like to spout facts and figures, and who obsess over everything that happens, as if they’re doing play-by-play for a baseball game. But they seem to neither know nor care about the average person, and they definitely lack understanding of basic politics. It’s amazing how little they know, yet they act like experts, despite the fact that the only people who actually buy their bullshit are like-minded people who are gullible.
Yes, folks; a lot of the far left is JUST LIKE the far right in that way.
Most actual liberals are very cool, and not very dumb, politically speaking. The liberal side of the aisle encompasses a wide array of different types of people, with different types of experiences. The denizens of the far left are almost all white, they’re almost never poor and they have college educations. They have very little contact with any of the people they claim to be advocating for, yet to listen to them, they know more about being poor or being a minority than the poor and minorities do.
The liberal side of the political debate has been sitting on the sidelines for the better part of 40 years, primarily because a very noisy segment of our ideology is ruining it for the rest of us. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sick of it. It’s time we taught basic politics to the far left.
Consider this is politics 101, folks.
Lesson #1: We live in a democratic republic, in which the person who gets the most votes wins and gets to make policy.
I know that sounds a little too basic, but let’s face it; for a bunch of political “experts,” many on the far left seems to be constantly shocked and surprised when assholes get elected and do pretty much what they said they would do. Every government in this country runs by majority rule; he or she who gets the majority of votes gets to make the rules. If you want the government to enact laws, regulations and policies that help working people, the poor and downtrodden, or if you want a universal health care plan that covers everyone 100%, you absolutely have to see to it that the person elected in each race is one who is oriented to listen to what the people want, and do as much as they can. Of course, there is a second part to that equation:
Lesson #2: In order to get a progressive government, you need a progressive populace.
Again, this should have been part of the Civics curriculum in everyone’s fourth grade class. Majority rules, so if you want progressive laws passed, you need a progressive majority. That means changing the hearts and minds of the people out there. That doesn’t mean screaming at them and telling them what they should believe and writing them off as “stupid” when they don’t think exactly the way you do. It means listening to them, then framing the issues in such a way that makes them want to be on our side. “Climate change” is an abstract concept to most people, and the fact that it is does not make everyone who thinks of it that way “stupid.” And the fact that they take an abstract view of “climate change” doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like to drive a vehicle that is safe for them and their children and gets 200 miles per gallon, or one that doesn’t use gas at all. Most people would willingly switch their electricity provider to a clean energy company, as long as it didn’t mean the cost would double. On other issues, even if they’re against abortion in principle, most folks aren’t in favor of the government forcing a woman to stay pregnant against her will. And let’s clear up one thing; most swing voters don’t care about anyone’s stance on most individual issues.
It’s this simple, folks. If you want the politics in this country to move left, you have to move the electorate left. Which leads us to:
Lesson #3: Until there are at least 218 progressive districts in this country, ousting “Blue Dogs” is not a source of pride; it’s just plain stupid.
Many on the far left seem to be enormously immature, in that they want their political change to happen immediately. they’re like the rich kids who “only” got a Mercedes for graduation, when they wanted the Jaguar. Real people have to earn their reward, folks; no one gets anything without tons of blood and sweat.
After more than 30 years of neocon-driven politics, why would anyone be surprised that there are a large number of conservative-leaning districts out there? Yet, a large number of far-left “progressives” were actually crowing at the “silver lining” in the 2010 election results; that about half of all “Blue Dog” Democrats lost. Yes, that’s right; they were HAPPY. Nancy Pelosi was replaced by an orange Boner, the committee chairs all went from being progressive Democrats to being right wing Republicans. We went from having a House of Representatives that passed hundreds of relatively progressive bills to one that has repeatedly tried to kill Medicare and damage Social Security.
And do you know WHY this happened? In part, it’s because about 25 “Blue Dogs,” almost all of whom voted with Democrats at least 80% of the time, were replaced by right wing Republicans and teabaggers.
Does that sound like “progress” to you? Really? If you do, then you must be one of those geniuses who thinks both major parties are the same. And that leads to:
Lesson #4: No matter how many times you tell yourself this, there is NO SIMILARITY between the two political parties at this point in time.
Many on the far left love to quote Harry Truman, who once said, “Given a choice between a Democrat who acts like a Republican or a Republican, the people will always choose the Republican.”
Gosh, that’s catchy. The problem is, he said it nearly 65 years ago, and the Republican party has changed a lot since then. Back then, the two parties saw each other as “the loyal opposition.” Nowadays, the current incarnation of the Republican Party sees Democrats as “the enemy.” They have declared war on the poor, and will do everything they can to help the rich get richer. the current GOP happily puts party politics ahead of country, which is something most Republicans in Truman’s day rarely did.
if you can’t see a difference between how Republicans and Democrats run things right now, then sit down and shut up, because you’re not paying attention. if you can even imagine Democrats proposing gutting Medicare, trying to kill unions, repealing health insurance reform, and cutting programs for the poor to pay for tax cuts for the rich, then you belong under a doctor’s care. If you can imagine Republicans restoring regulations on Wall Street financial activities, demanding that executives limit their pay as long as they were under obligation to the federal government for bailout money, or even demanding that Wall Street even pay back the funds, then have the doctor up your meds.
The two parties couldn’t be more stark in their differences these days, and the constant attempts by many on the far left to characterize them as the same are absolutely killing us, politically speaking. Swing voters HATE teabaggers as much as the rest of us. They can’t stand right wing Republican policies, for the most part. They don’t care that much about tax cuts. They like most social programs, although they’d like to see more done to combat waste, fraud and abuse. And frankly, they do care about the environment and ending wars, even if they do so more in the abstract. In other words, they’re our natural friends, politically speaking. So, the more the far left screams at the top of their lungs that “both parties are the same,” the more they poison that well, and allow the far right to keep winning elections. Which brings us to:
Lesson #5: Politics is a game of strategy, but some strategies simply don’t work, like “fighting.”
It’s important to get the right people elected, but it’s just as important to get the wrong people out of government. While governing affects the average person’s life in profound ways, politics itself is a game, and requires a very distinct, and very long-term strategy.
A lot of left wingers think political strategy is really complicated, and involves something really elaborate, but it’s really not. In fact, if it’s too complicated, it’s destined for failure. Personally, I think some lefties like to think of it as complicated because they think it makes them seem smarter. They would be mistaken. If you’re running a campaign, politics is complicated. If you’re not doing that, then my advice for you is to relax. The issues many far lefties consider to be important issues are only a minor consideration to the majority of voters who will decide any election. The vast majority of swing voters are struggling to get by every day, and they want to know the people in charge won’t make things worse; that’s pretty much it. Therefore, the number one strategy of any political endeavor begins with the classic “KISS,” or “Keep It Simple Stupid.”
And while you’re at it, stop itching for a “fight.”
I know many far lefties LOVE the idea of a “fight,” but the fact of the matter is, most “fighting,” at least as the left wing envisions it, is really bad strategy. Much of the far left thinks the definition of a politician “fighting for them” means shouting, grandstanding and making pointed speeches and calling the opposition “poopy-heads.”
The problem is, that’s not how real politicians “fight” in a democracy. The purpose of electing politicians is to pass laws designed to make our lives better. That means writing a bill, then getting a majority to vote for that bill. Now, seriously; how far do you think they’d get in doing that if they were running around making fools of themselves by grandstanding and making the opposition party look bad? You may imagine that most voters sit around staring at C-SPAN all day, waiting for something great to cheer about, but trust me on this; YOU lefties are the only one doing that.
There are a number of ways to “fight” in politics, and most Democratic politicians do exactly that on a daily basis, especially President Obama. This guy is a master at outmaneuvering the opposition. For example, the far left screams bloody murder every time Obama reaches out to the Republicans. This is because they are so obsessed with everything he does, but can’t see the result. The political center – again, those who actually decide elections – HATE infighting in the government. They want to see politicians working toward solutions. When he does that, what those voters see is someone who is trying to do the right thing, and an opposition that wants to bite his hand off for doing so. He’s actually courting voters to his side by doing that. he’s not “kowtowing” or “caving,” he’s actually working for the progressive cause.
I’m sick of hearing the words “bully pulpit” used as an example of how the President could “fight” for the people. That phrase is even older than the irrelevant Truman quote. It was coined by Teddy Roosevelt more than a century ago, and if you haven’t noticed, our political discourse is dominated, in part, by the far right wing, who use bribery and intimidation against those in their own party to keep them in line. We need to develop strategies to keep them from doing that.
Watch President Obama’s RESULTS, not his methods. As long as he’s not sacrificing animals or children in the process, there’s no reason to examine the details of every step of the methods he uses to get results; look at the results themselves. The far left is nearly psychotic in its obsession with every single detail of everything Obama does, and it’s getting a little tiresome.
For example, if you want to know why we lost the “public option” (and a few other, more important features that lefties barely notice), look in the mirror. Because of the nature of his opposition, Obama actually kept the “public option” alive longer by NOT advocating for it. For Chrissakes, folks; he single-handedly revived health care reform, after the far left had declared it dead and buried.
Overall, his strategy on health care was nothing short of perfect, which is why it passed for the first time ever. I know a large portion of the left was devoted to the notion of a “public option,” but reality is, if the Republicans had Obama on record as saying “The public option is a must” for a health insurance reform bill in the current climate, the GOP would have gathered the troops together and used that statement to launch a billion-dollar campaign against Obama’s attempt to force “socialized medicine” down our throats. It would have made it even more difficult to pass than it was, and it might have killed any sort of reform for at least another 10-15 years.
Another example is the consternation over Obama’s refusal to come out absolutely in favor of “gay marriage” last week. If you don’t see him as “sly,” you don’t really know all that much about politics. He HAS declared repeatedly his belief that gay couples should have the same rights as everyone else; he’s just not going to go on record but that wasn’t enough for many on the far left. But let me tell you what would happen if the current president of the United States would come out in favor of gay marriage. You know the split that’s happening between the nuts and the extreme nuts in the Republican Party? Kiss that goodbye. That would crystallize the opposition, and they would have a common theme to run against in the next election.
And here’s the important thing to remember about all of this. The president has no say with regard to marriage. Marriages are state devices, not federal. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if he is in favor of it or not, one way or the other. While some of you have a fantasy that the president says something and tens of millions of people will suddenly throw their hands up and say, “Oh YES! He’s right! I have to give up everything I have ever been taught by my religion and accept gays as equals!” But in the real world we live in, presidents don’t have that influence. Bush said the Iraq war was a war for freedom; did his statement to that effect make it so? if things Bush said didn’t move the populace, even when his job approval was 80%, why would you imagine Obama’s would be?
President Obama realizes that he has to pick and choose his battles, and that HOW he fights the battles matters. He’s getting more stuff done than anyone in the last 40 years or more, and the far left in this country is sitting around with their thumbs up their asses, waiting for someone else to “lead them” to where they need to go. Which is how we get to:
Lesson #6: “We are the ones we have been waiting for” is not just a cute slogan; it’s how the system works, and how we win at politics.
If you’re waiting for a savior to come along and bring the left out of the desert into the political system, then you’re part of the problem.
The fact of the matter is, politicians do not lead us, WE lead THEM. I understand why people on the right don’t get that, because they’re politically brain-dead. But a lot of far lefties seem to miss out on that concept, too.
They’re called “representatives” for a reason. THEY stand in for US, not the other way around. it’s OUR job to tell them what we want and give them the tools to do that. It’s not THEIR job to read our minds. And our number one job is to get a majority people behind our efforts; it’s not the politician’s job. Political success involves a couple of steps, and both of them are OUR responsibility as voters. First, we have to honor the democratic process and try to make sure the choice of candidate most likely to result in the policies we want. That doesn’t mean we always have a clear progressive choice; in fact, it rarely means that. But there is often one candidate who will absolutely NOT vote for our side EVER, and we absolutely must promote the best candidate to the best of our ability. Then, once the best of the two candidates is elected, we then SUPPORT them. Yes, I said SUPPORT! For some unknown reason, many on the far left seem to think the constant complaining about politicians constitutes “holding them accountable,” but if you’re on the job and your boss was complaining about every little thing you did, without even evaluating the results, would you dismiss it was your boss “holding you accountable,” or would it just irritate the crap out of you?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Now you know why politicians don’t take the far left seriously at all. They’re constantly whining, they don’t vote reliably, and their support is based on what politicians say, not what they do. Politicians are looking for support, not a constant shrill whine. Which brings us to:
Lesson #7: The far left’s concept of “principle” is downright bizarre and often detrimental to progressive politics.
This will be a short one.
It’s really simple; it’s been 32 years, and the neocons are still in office, and still dismantling the mechanisms we built back in the first quarter-century after the war. Despite the fact that we know how to fix the economy, because we did it before, the wingnuts are still pushing the same tired crap they’ve been pushing for 30 years. And they get away with it because a large portion of the left side of the political debate likes to SAY they have principle, but they really don’t. The fact of the matter is, supporting someone who says everything you want to here, when that person has neither the intention nor the ability to actually get into office and do what he or she is saying makes you gullible, not principled.
If you want to claim to be a principled progressive, then you will do anything to move us in the direction of achieving social justice. That doesn’t mean backing Dennis Kucinich, who apparently has to move to Washington to continue in Congress because of redistricting, and who has less than a snowball’s chance in hell of ever sitting in the Oval Office. It means doing whatever you can to see to it that as many politicians as possible are amenable to working toward making this country better, and then working to make sure they have the support they need to do that. if you have actual principles, stop screaming at the politicians, and start educating (without screaming) their constituents. If you’re not doing everything you can to make sure progressive policies are put in place, you’re not principled. Which brings us to:
Lesson #8: The overall meme if the debate is far more important than playing micro-politics.
Imagine you’re about the leave work, and you’re wondering whether or not you should take your umbrella. So you ask a co-worker if they think it might rain. Which answer are you likely to consider most helpful?
“According to the weather service, it’s not supposed to rain until Friday.”
“I don’t know, but I do know the air is dirtier now than it was 20 years ago, the sun is much harsher than it used to be, and the world will probably become uninhabitable in 10 years.”
The first one is how the left SHOULD answer. Unfortunately, the answers to political questions coming from our side usually sound like the second answer. Many on the far left tend to be news junkies, which is a stupid idea in and of itself. You don’t become smarter by watching nothing but news all of the time. But worse, they seem to think everyone else is, or should be, a news junkie as well. So they neither answer political questions nor give political answers that actually matter to people.
The average voter doesn’t have time to sit and watch news all day, because he or she is working for a living. They are struggling to get by. They don’t sit and watch every single bloody thing the government does, because they trust the government to do what it needs to do. You aren’t smarter because you don’t trust the government, and you watch and analyze every move they make. If you were smarter, you would know that the majority of the voters who matter only pay attention to the overall meme in any election. they responded by voting for Barack Obama because of his positive message and his promise to reverse the incompetence of the Bush years. And they stayed away from the polls in droves in 2010, because the overall message of that election was “Democrats suck.” They don’t vote for the right wing, for the most part, because they see them as dipshits. But when both sides are screaming “Democrats suck!” what message do you imagine these folks take away from the “debate,” such as it is?
Let me put this another way. If you’re sitting in the park at lunch, and two people are screaming at the top of their lungs, which one do you listen to? If you’re honest, then you know you put on your iPod really loud and drown them out. If you don’t have an iPod, then you look for another place to sit. You don’t listen to either of them.
On the other hand, if one guy is screaming something at the top of his lungs, and someone else comes up and sits on the bench next to you and starts speaking to you pleasantly, you might actually converse with that person, won’t you? You may even turn off the iPod and listen to what he or she has to say. And depending on the person speaking, you may actually learn something.
That’s how politics works, folks. When both sides are screaming at each other, no one who matters is actually listening. The far right will always scream, because they’re incredibly stupid, and because they don’t understand how politics works, either. Their side has a simple-minded affinity for red meat over substance; they love the negative. They love anything that makes “the left” look bad. They have no desire to convince you they’re right, and you will never convince them you’re right. Therefore, when you and a right winger are screaming at each other, the people who matter are walking away from you, or drowning you out.
How many elections do we have to lose before we get this. The far left was negative about Carter in 1980, and we got Reagan. The far left was negative about Dukakis in 1988, we got Bush 41. We were positive about Clinton in 1992, he won. The far left bashed Gore mercilessly in 2000 and refused to get behind Kerry in 2004, leaving us with a double dose of the worst president in history. In 2008, the left finally seemed to shed its stupidity and got behind a moderate, and we elected Obama overwhelmingly. Since then, it’s been quite clear that many on the far left voted for “the black guy,” and attributed a level of far left politics to President Obama that was never actually apparent during the campaign. Because of these fantasy expectations, they’ve branded him as a “disappointment,” and that played a major part in depressed turnout that led to a right wing win. Again.
That leads to”:
Lesson #9: The people who are elected will (almost) always represent the political center.
It has always been the case, and it will always be the case, that the majority of voters anywhere will choose someone they perceive as between the extremes. The only exception to that rule comes when one side of the political spectrum trashes mercilessly the candidate to whom they are closest, ideologically speaking. We saw this exception in both 2000 and 2004, when the far left sabotaged the campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry, and essentially handed the elections to Bush. (And please, don’t talk to me about Bush stealing the two elections, because they shouldn’t have been that close in the first place.)
But most of the time, the person elected will represent the political center, especially when it comes to president. FDR didn’t run or govern as a political liberal at all. In fact, with the exception of reforming banking and instituting a few jobs programs, he took a relatively conservative approach to getting out of the Depression. Even he admitted that later, when the massive deficit spending to pay for World War II finally brought us into recovery mode and sent unemployment down below 10% for the first time in more than a dozen years. Lincoln didn’t run for election promising to make the Emancipation Proclamation and amend the Constitution to be anti-slavery. Likewise, Kennedy didn’t run on promising the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts would pass. As is always the case, moderates are forced by circumstances to become progressives.
That’s why the constant demeaning of the “Blue Dogs” last year was without a doubt the most politically tone-deaf thing the far left has championed in many, many years. I’m still working on a post on this, but suffice it to say, if you’re one of those politically idiotic fools who praised the loss of about half of all Blue Dogs in 2010, then you are part of the problem. All of the Blue Dogs who lost last year voted with Democrats most of the time – the lowest percentage I found was 67%, and only two of them voted with Democrats less than 8o% of the time – and they were ALL replaced by Republicans who will NEVER vote with the Democrats. EVER.
In what way is that “progressive”?
I would also point out that even the most progressive politicians in our history lack ideological purity. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. FDR refused to even consider civil rights or abolishing Jim Crow. Even Dennis Kucinich was anti-choice for many years, based on his Catholicism. If not for Ted Kennedy’s ego, we probably would have had the beginnings of universal health care before 1980, instead of 30 years later because he killed a bill in order to get a leg up on Carter in the 1980 election.
The main complaint most left wingers have about Democrats has to do with their relative “impurity.” For some reason, they have gotten it into their little brains that all Democrats should represent the progressive side of things, and that any variation whatsoever is unacceptable. That’s a fantasy, folks. No one is always “left” or always “right” on every single issue, unless he or she is incapable of thought. Expecting everyone to adhere to your standard of what a “true progressive” should be is unrealistic and frankly, politically suicidal.
Those are my lessons for today. I will add more lessons as I think of them. And I will think of them.
As usual, I’m posting links to stories that caught my eye over the last week that you may have missed.
I came across this one this morning at The Washington Monthly about the Huffington Post helping a lobbyist for big business spread his word.
And this is a MUST READ for anyone coming to this blog. Karoli lays out why President Obama deserves our support and takes on the people who like to call us Obots or Obamabots or whatever other childish name the adolescents on the internet like to use. Go READ NOW!
A congressmen from my great state of Michigan, Rep. Sander Levin, penned this opinion piece about why Republicans don’t give a shit about the jobless.
Republicans continue to sabotage the economy for their political gains. They want control again really bad and will go to great lengths. All the more reason why we need everyone helping to fight against them and elect Democrats.
Eclectablog has a lot of great stories about the assault on democracy in Michigan, go over there and get caught up. This is serious business, folks.
And contrary to all the crappy reporting going on, we are not at war with Libya and President Obama isn’t doing anything different than any other president. But of course, that doesn’t stop people from lying and exaggerating.
From our awesome commenter grantinhouston, a story about a lawsuit against the Emergency Manager law in Michigan.
And last but not least, you gotta love @vdaze for penning this new Urban Dictionary definition. “Gone Hamsher”
As many of you might have noticed, I haven’t been helping the firebagger organizers of Netroots Nation 2011 spread their anti-Obama bullshit. They purposely try to goad us real liberals into writing about them, they will take attention whether positive or negative. I’m sure you’ve read the many slanted stories from the compliant media about how NN11 has turned on the President. It’s funny how reality is so much different than what Jane Hamsher and John Aravosis would want you to believe. From Roll Call…
MINNEAPOLIS — Despite their grousing about the administration during the Netroots Nation conference, liberal activists and bloggers are relatively happy with President Barack Obama’s performance.
A straw poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showed that 80 percent either approve or strongly approve of the president more than a year before voters head to the polls to decide whether he deserves a second term. The results broke down to 27 percent strongly approving of Obama and 53 percent approving “somewhat.” Thirteen percent said they “somewhat disapprove,” and 7 percent strongly disapprove of the president.
And I have to point out that the organizers of the conference are almost all anti-Obama in one way or another. Whether it’s about the wars the President was handed or the financial mess or the fact that Republicans are actually in our government and have the power to force the administration to compromise, these naive, petty folks are more concerned about their own egos than helping pass progressive legislation. Those approval numbers are even more impressive when you consider that this is supposed to be a disgruntled crowd. The President’s approval among Democrats nationwide goes into the high 80’s.
So I’m encouraged that the attendees of Netroots Nation 2011 support the President and progressive causes. I’ve thought for a long time that the haters like Hamsher, Greenwald and Aravosis do not represent a very large segment of the electorate. If you can stand to read the comments at their blogs, you’ll see a majority of Republican trolls, who seem to be their main readership these days. Is it any wonder they continue their trashing, they have to feed their right-wing readers. In case you were wondering what blogs tell it like it is, check out my “Blogs I love” to the right, those folks rock.
When I first heard of the AOL/Huffington Post merger, one of my first thoughts was that Arianna was taking on a huge responsibility and wondered if her experience running Huffpo would really qualify her for the role she grabbed. As regular readers know, I am not a huge fan of Arianna and think she is just an opportunist who took advantage of the anger and hatred towards Bush to build an empire. I know I was sucked into her world back in the Bush days, but it didn’t take me too long to realize that her empire was about making money and the anger just shifted from President Bush to President Obama. Arianna and her brain trust have gradually shifted who their target audience is away from the liberal base she built her site on. She seems to be aiming at some of that Tea Party money from what I can tell. Her book is a blatant appeal to that populist crowd, lots of platitudes and describing of the problem and no solutions or realistic consideration of how to change any of it. Like how to get a bill passed in the current US legislature.
So I take some pleasure in seeing that things aren’t going so well with the AOL/Huffington Post merger. The Business Insider has an article that breaks down the troubles throughout the organization, but I’m most interested in Arianna’s role. From the Business Insider…
Fear and paranoia. Large parts of the org recognize the strategy is bad for the business but everyone is afraid to speak out. Arianna is rumored to have created an enemies list across the company and has directed her loyalists to collect dossiers on other managers across the company and report back on conversations. Her list includes several key business, sales, technology, and marketing executives she wants to eliminate and replace with her people. Anyone who disagrees, even if backed by data and clear rationale’s – goes on the enemies list. Facts don’t matter.
It sounds like she really knows how to manage a large organization and motivate people. More from the Business Insider…
Imperial over-reach. AOL will eliminate Popeater and Parentdish this month and roll them into the Huffington Post. Arianna’s people are plotting to eliminate all non huffingtonpost.com websites and redirect all traffic to the huffingtonpost.com. No one thinks consolidating to huffingtonpost.com is a good idea from a consumer or an advertiser perspective, but no one will stop Arianna.
And the last thing I’ll throw out there about this is that apparently the Huffington Post folks that came along with Arianna, Roy Sekoff and Nico Pitney are having some troubles transitioning to managing a much larger organization.
It is the Peter Principle on a grand scale. None of AOL’s senior editors (Huffington, Roy Sekoff, and Nico Pitney) have ever managed more than a few people. Now they have hundreds and lack the experience to manage a team this big. Behind the scenes, long time Huffposters say that Jai Singh’s departure has eliminated the key adult in the room. Now they need to grow HuffPost and save AOL – not possible.
I used to have the Huffington Post as my home page on my browser – years ago, before it went down hill. The only time I visit there now is if I click on a blind link or there is a story that I just have to read based on a recommendation. I clicked one too many times on a misleading headline that took me to a reposted story from some other source with an ad that pops up or plays before I can see the content. I felt so used by her. And I really don’t give a shit what Kim, Khloe or Kourtney Kardashian did last night.
The People’s View, one of my new favorite blogs, introduced a new blogger this weekend with a phenomenal post that explains the motivations behind many of the Obama-haters on the left who seem intent on undermining our democratic president and party. I highly recommend you go read the entire post. I’m pasting a couple of paragraphs I really liked, but go read the whole thing. It sheds a lot of light on this problem and gives great advice on how we as a party and individuals should deal with it. I learned a few things that I will attempt to apply on this blog. From Tien at The People’s View…
To satisfy a need on my part to understand the underlying psychology of people who claim they represent the Progressive Left but who have a singular focus of berating our Democratic President, I embarked on a small research project to learn why this happens.
It turns out the answer is fairly simple. The cause of this phenomenon is narcissism. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has quite an array of symptoms and behaviors that easily match those demonstrated by a host of pundits, professional demonstrators and keyboard warriors all claiming to represent the ‘base’ of the liberal population in this country.
Given a list of symptoms from any one source, the dominant symptom is a pathological need for attention that far surpasses that of ordinary people. Secondary symptoms include extreme envy of others or belief that others envy them; inability to recognize boundaries or experience empathy; hypersensitivity to insults and criticism; an over-inflated sense of self-importance; unrealistic expectations and a preoccupation with success and power.
The incredible Shoq at Shoq Value has written extensively about Jane Hamsher, the woman who seems to be the leader of the hateful left these days. Her vitriol and irrational hatred for President Obama oozes from every pore of her body. When she appears on MSNBC, she can’t even look like a nice person anymore, the sneer on her face overwhelms any fake smile she tries to flash. In catching up on my Shoq reading, I came across this piece of “niceness” from ole Jane that in my opinion, shows precisely why she should be ignored, shunned and never put on television to represent anything but her petty self. From Shoq Value
Her lowest moment, after the “GOP operative” ploy flopped, was her confusing a true story of me moving 1000 miles from Washington, to live nearer to my mother, who, approaching 84, lived alone in Florida. She characterized this as “living with your mother.” Even if that were true, which it isn’t, or I’d be eating a lot better, no one was grasping why this 51 year old woman was casting aspersion on a desire to care for one’s aging parent. Had she no sense of proportion, if not decency? Was any criticism of her work so unbearable that it was worth unleashing such a comment, likely to achieve little beyond making her about 3 feet tall, even in the eyes of her most loyal supporters? Was this the formidable “pro-left” leader,” as the media, and even the White House has called her? If so, the professional part was not in evidence this day.
Apparently, it was worth it to her, as she made no attempt to apologize or soften it before thousands of people. Her failure to do that was another sign that her judgment has been grossly overrated by a lot of people over the years. But then, it is that very same judgment that led me to post my criticism in the first place. If she wasn’t considered an important voice on the left, I’d be giddy over someone making such an atomic asshat of themselves in public. But since she still does have that reputation in many quarters, I don’t think it helpful to progressivism that any leading liberal’s reputation be dashed to pieces in front of thousands—and potentially—even millions of people.
Have you ever had a day when you couldn’t decide what to write about on your blog? So far this morning, I’m having one of those days. It could change, but until it does I decided to share some of the links in my stash that I really enjoyed. I wouldn’t steer you wrong, really. Check them out. I’m sure I’ll snap out of my indecision. Now for the good stuff, enjoy.
Don’t feed the pundits, they bite. This is an interesting read from Marianna76 at Daily Kos Community Site. She delves into the shouting match between Ed Schultz and David (clueless) Sirota.
Speaking of that shouting match, here is a story from Mediate about the bout. Good for Ed for standing up to the craziness from the Moore, Hamsher, Sirota and Greenwald crowd who seem intent on bringing back Republican rule.
This is an excellent analysis by Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast that points out a major difference between Rep’s and Dem’s when it comes to tactics. Make em’ squirm.
And this is an awesome study of how wrong the Professional Left was in their carping at the President while he was saving us from the next great depression. Rootless_e at The People’s View does a masterful job of explaining this complex idea. Read it, learn it and share it.
I posted about this one on a previous day, but I liked it so much I wanted to make sure you took a look at it. It’s about the “other Obama Derangement Syndrome”, the one on the left, from F. Grey Parker at The Hand That Feeds You.
And this one I found this morning from Frank Schaeffer, a big Hat Tip to The People’s View who did a post about it too. Go read both of them, excellent stuff. It speaks to the fact that President Obama is one kick ass president, the best ever in my opinion.
“Compromise” is one of the foundations of democrazy (that was originally a typo, but I like it). Somehow, since the election of President Obama, the word is being redefined by some on both sides of the isle, with the help of the media who just follow along like lemmings. It’s a word that is often said with disdain, as if the mere act of compromising is somehow wrong. This is a very disturbing trend because it basically increases polarization, hatred and gives people a reason to throw up their hands in disgust. It is part of the scorched earth strategy being employed by like I said, both the right and some on the left.
I can almost understand the right’s obsession with not compromising, it’s politics man. But for those on the left who claim to be progressive and care about changing things for the better, it flies in the face of reason to oppose it on principle. The Republican’s don’t want to compromise because they perceive any bills passed and signed by President Obama as a win. And we can’t have that now. And we all know that from day one of President Obama’s first term, they have tried to thwart any success for the White House, even if it means screwing citizens or exposing their hypocrisy. And because of the very successful brainwashing of their base by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing noise machine, it really won’t have much impact on those voters. We can only hope that it does have an impact on moderates, who are the folks that swing elections one way or the other.
The people on the left wing who have spit on the word compromise and staked out unrealistic positions, their reasons are a bit more complicated and in my opinion, just plain stupid. I expect stupid from Republicans, but in the last 2.5 years, many on the left have shown how stupid they are too. They may have been that way all along, but were hiding it well.
In the 8 years of President Bush’s term, a cottage industry sprung up that was fueled by anger, hatred and indignation towards the Bush Administration and the many rights and liberties that were taken from us or trampled on. Blogs became all the rage during this time and the idea of the internet as a way to organize and mobilize people around a cause became very real. But a lot of it was rooted in and fueled by anger towards Bush. I joined in the craze and loved seeing the Bush Administration challenged and attacked. Good times! But the transition from the anger based foundation to where we are now, after President Obama took office, didn’t go very well for these people. A lot of that anger just shifted towards the new administration, the path of least resistance, I suppose.
Many of the “progressive” bloggers that came to prominence during the Bush years, who clearly played to the anger towards Bush and gang, were actually Republicans turned angry. In their disgust towards Bush, they built a following of people who didn’t necessarily agree with them very much, besides hating Bush. Here is a brief list of some of those folks.
Arianna Huffington, worked for Newt Gingrich and is the former wife to Republican candidate Michael Huffington. We all know how she has cashed in and is turning back towards her true party, the GOP.
John Aravosis, former staffer to Sen. Ted (bridge to nowhere) Stevens.
Cenk Uygur, who has apparently admitted that he “used to be” a Republican on his show, he sure keeps attempting to play to the left but his roots help explain his attacks on the President.
Dylan Ratigan has landed a couple of different time slots on MSNBC and is trying to play to the left, although he clearly has a hard time of it. He built his brand on the back of populist rhetoric.
And I would add Glenn Greenwald to the mix too, although he claims to be an independent. He supports Gary Johnson, a Republican, as a third party candidate. He still gets trotted out as a left-leaning blogger or as a representative of the left blogosphere, when he clearly is not. Many volumes have been written about that man and his tactics.
The other group of bloggers and pundits that are fighting against the President and don’t seem to understand the nature of compromise are rooted on the liberal end of the spectrum. It is sad to see this group let their entrenched principles and ideals influence their perceptions of the progress that has been made with President Obama at the helm. They can’t even give the President credit when it is due. My short list of these folks include Michael Moore, Adam Green, Bill Maher, David Sirota, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Markos Moulitsas, Jane Hamsher and Keith Olbermann. We expect the right to have crazy notions about our President and suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome, but it isn’t just a right-wing disease. From The Hand That Feeds You…
The thing is, these folks aren’t the real threat. That’s what unnerves me, lately. What really bothers me, and I mean really gets my goat, are the basically forward thinking, well educated and Progressive Americans who also wallow in self-indulgent and conspiratorial whining. It is smug. It serves no purpose but to excuse inaction and it is more dangerous.
This is about the other “Obama Derangement Syndrome.” It is high time we address it.
Barack Obama’s Presidency had barely begun when some on the Left started selling us the “betrayal meme.” In March of 2009, Dave Lindorff famously excoriated the new President in a piece called “The Obama Betrayal.” He was apoplectic over capitulation to Republicans regarding the ‘Employee Free Choice Act.’ He makes no mention of the fact that Progressives did not flood the congress and the White House with calls supporting the President’s fight. He omits the huge and organized campaign enlisting our citizen-opponents which went a long way towards torpedoing the legislation. Why should we on the Left have been expected to do anything? Wasn’t Obama supposed to single-handedly crush our foes?
After all, we elected him.
To me, these people are extremely deluded. They’ve built a false narrative within their own minds and in the process have abandoned any pretense that people matter in the equation. Their ideals, reinforced with denial, lies, exaggerations and populist outrage, have overcome their common sense, if they had any to begin with. Whenever I get into a Twitter fight with any of them, I usually shut them up pretty quickly when I ask questions like “how does that help real people” or I start giving them real examples of how it affects people, like those with pre-existing conditions who can now get health insurance, like my niece. They seem to live in a world of generalities, ideals and have created their own echo chamber to reinforce it.
I also think that many of these so-called progressive bloggers, who seem to be fighting progress, have fallen victim to the “right wing paid troll program” where the GOP and their supporters pay people to comment on progressive blogs, either posing as liberals dissatisfied with the President or simply attacking liberal ideas with right-wing talking points. It’s a copy and paste operation that I think has overtaken many of the comment sections of these blogs. I think a lot of these bloggers are naive and think that there is a lot more dissatisfaction with the President and the Democratic Party than there actually is. And they drive out people who disagree with the anti-Obama memes. I know very well about that, having been banned by Daily Kos, Huffington Post, Crooks and Liars, Firedoglake and Americablog. And it wasn’t for being abusive at all, unless calling them “whiners” is somehow abusive or giving a different opinion than the consensus (group think) in the room.
The most often heard refrain from these folks is that President Obama gives up too much in the beginning of negotiations. They claim he gives in before the negotiations even begin. But these pundits who say this have no idea what the behind the scenes vote counting is or what preconditions may have been talked about in advance. But a lot of their criticism is because they think the President should start where they would, way to the left, whether it pollutes negotiations or gives the right-wing the fuel they need to either walk away, or try to paint the left as extreme. And of course, most of these people did absolutely nothing to help the president. More from The Hand That Feeds You…(emphasis mine)
Throughout Obama’s first two years, we the people who did elect him largely sat on our hands expecting to be saved. Perhaps we had become so inured to the imperial nature of the Presidency within the Bush years that we forgot that there are other requirements of citizenship between ballots. As we continued to do nothing and the opposition used slick, manipulative marketing to energize hundreds of thousand of idiots, the Washington Post asked “Is Obama Betraying The Left?” The New Statesman published “Obama: The Betrayal?” It goes on and on and on.
The “betrayal meme” is picking up steam again. This is frankly getting out of hand. Most recently, Cornel West, a great man whom I adore, has had a full blown freak-out. Chris Hedges is loving every minute of it. It’s nifty copy. It’s also representative of a dangerous and elitist abdication of citizen responsibility. It’s becoming the bread and butter of the establishment Left to accuse President Obama of essentially not rescuing us while we wait like little children.
The President has had to attempt to stand his ground in a position of weakness the base helped create. When the rabble on the right was out-calling our Representatives at a ratio of four or five to one to oppose the AFA, where were we? When Tea Partiers were being duped by their masters into showing up by the busload, where were our counter-protests? By the way, much as I do love Colbert and Stewart, they can suck it on that count. Like Bill Maher said at the time, rallies should really “be about something.”
This liberal group of pundits often make grandiose claims that President Obama is abandoning his base and losing support from them, yet every single poll that breaks it down, shows solid support for the President. The small amount who are unsatisfied are more than likely people who have not fared well in the economy and have only heard the media’s filtered version of who is to blame for it. Some are extreme pacifists who expected a Democratic president to just pull our troops out of every conflict that Bush handed to President Obama, immediately. People like Glenn Greenwald, David Sirota, Jane Hamsher and others try hard to further that perception as some sort of betrayal, even though candidate Obama made clear what he was going to do when he took office. I read recently, I wish I could find it, one of those folks basically say that nothing has changed in Iraq, the President isn’t getting us out of there. Except the facts are much different. Unfortunately, the following is from the Huffington Post on August 10, 2010…
In Massachusetts, where the president was on vacation, White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan called the drawdown in U.S. troops a “truly remarkable achievement.” He noted that the milestone had been reached a week ahead of schedule and represented a drop of 94,000 troops on Obama’s watch.
You can imagine my disbelief upon reading the characterization that nothing has changed in Iraq. Combat operations were declared over on August 31, 2010 and the last combat troops drove out of Iraq and into Kuwait. Now a lot of people just denied that it was true, poo pooed it and said we will never leave Iraq. And you can’t play with my ball, either. I’m taking it home. So nah! The reality is that President Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do and ahead of schedule. That has to piss of the people most intent on making sure our president doesn’t get credit for a damn thing.
As a Democrat and supporter of President Obama, it pisses me off that so many people who claim to be progressive or liberal have decided that attacking and weakening our Democratic President is somehow going to help their cause. It is the stupidest fucking reasoning I’ve ever seen in politics. On what fucking planet does weakening your party’s leader somehow help the party? Considering the lock-step discipline of the Senate Republicans and their unprecedented use of the filibuster, it was clear that the President was going to have to compromise. The other alternative was to let the Republicans win and basically defund the entire government. I’m often reminded of what Jane Hamsher’s friend Grover Norquist said which spells out the GOP philosophy of government, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
I’ve been watching and trying to understand the harsh critics of the President since before he was elected in 2008. The ones that really bother me are the ones on the left who don’t seem to be living in reality, don’t seem to even try to understand the context of any given situation and are so knee-jerk in their criticism of the President, that they clearly have other reasons for those quick, over-the-top responses. And the reverse of that, they give no credit whatsoever for what he has accomplished. I’m a liberal, damn it, but I’m a pragmatist too. After spending many hours with my incredible mother watching C-Span and Sunday morning news shows and discussing the way things have worked and continue to work in our government, I’ve learned to be a pragmatist. My mother taught me as I kicked and screamed. She lived through the Great Depression, World War II and was witness to all the progress that has been made over the years for woman, minorities and our entire country. She tempered my idealism and made me realize that you have to compromise in order to move forward and make it stick.
Progress happens in stages and involves educating people, working together towards those goals and yes, speaking out so that pressure is brought on politicians who must make those changes. But it NEVER happens overnight and it can never be rammed down people’s throats. It causes an adverse reaction and push back, thus hurting the chance for progress. There are so many examples of this that you would think it would be obvious to thinking people, but you would be wrong. :)
In the recent uproar with Cornell West coming out full Anti-Obama (I’ll get to that later), he has given us a perfect example of that naiveté. In my reading, I came across this great post from Milt Shook at PCTC (Please Cut The Crap), that helps to explain reality. Here is one passage that said it well…(emphasis mine)
I am a true-blue, died in the wool, hard-core liberal/progressive. I have spent my life trying to do my little part to move this country in that direction. That last part is what makes me an actual progressive. Having all sorts of high ideals doesn’t make one a progressive; the desire to move the system in that direction – THAT is what makes me progressive. Got it? Good.
But here’s the thing.
This country has NEVER been all that progressive. This country has NEVER fulfilled the promise of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Yet, I remain hopeful that it will. It’s moving in the right direction overall, but in recent years – about the last 40, give or take a few – there have been forces that are attempting to move it in the opposite direction, and they need to stop it.
This may surprise you, but I am not talking about the right wing. I’m talking about the extreme left wing of the political spectrum. They suck at politics and, ironically, the very people they claim to be trying to advance in society are suffering as a result.
I highly recommend you go and read the entire post over at PCTC, I found myself saying out loud “damn right” and other positive grunts and utterances as I was reading it. Then come back and read my comments on the issue, please. I would also recommend that you buy Milt Shock’s new book, Not Another Savior, although I haven’t read it yet, I’m buying one myself later today. I really like the way Milt thinks and have to “believe” it is good, which is good enough for me to buy it. Kind of like faith. :) More from Milt at PCTC, saying things I’ve been thinking…freakin mind reader, anyway.
We live in a democracy. If you want to make policy, you have to win elections. Winning elections requires a majority. It’s depressing that I feel like I have to point that out to some on the far left, but I apparently do. If you want to be an ACTUAL progressive, then you have to take this equation into account. If you’re not prepared to do whatever is necessary to move in the right (as in correct) direction, which is to get a majority of the populace behind you, then you’re not really a progressive. You may agree with me on every issue above, but if you’re not doing what you can to make shit happen, you’re a phony. God, I hate to be that blunt, but it’s true.
If people who claim to want progress aren’t doing what needs to be done to make shit happen, they are just arm-chair quarterbacks, sitting on the sidelines lobbing grenades in the form of criticism, while at the same time weakening the very people who need strength in order to make that progress. As a “progressive”, very well defined by Milt, it’s fucking maddening to watch as these people tear down the only politician in Washington who seems to be trying to get shit done, President Obama. Individual congress-people and senators have very narrow interests, getting reelected in their districts being the main one. When the critics on the left attack and criticize the “congress”, that amorphous group of people who represent all variations of people in their districts and are sent to Washington for that purpose, I always see that as pretty naive as well. Who in the hell are they going to turn to, Gary Johnson, Ralph Nader? When it comes to the congress, the best analogy to me is the idea of trying to herd cats or chickens, good luck with that. So it takes a leader like President Obama to try to set the direction, educate people, and put pressure on the special interests who push Congress in the directions they want, even if they aren’t in the best interests of progress. It’s a tough job, and made much tougher when the loudest voices in the echo chamber are weakening you.
More from Milt’s excellent piece…
Once again, you can’t get policy done without winning elections. Elected officials make policy. Elected officials make judicial appointments. Elected officials put policies into effect and enforce laws. And you can’t get elected with high ideals but no support. It literally does not matter how “passionately” you feel about an issue; if you don’t give politicians the tools they need to turn your “passion” into policy, you’re basically masturbating, politically speaking. When you vote for a “third party,” you’re a political jackoff. When you vote for a candidate with no chance of winning, you’re a political jackoff. If you plan to “stay away from the polls to send a message,” you’re a political jackoff and a joke. Seriously, how delusional does someone have to be to think that not voting sends a message to anyone? For shit’s sake, folks; half the population stays away from the polls in most elections; that’s like saying NOT going to a Lady Gaga concert sends a message that you don’t like her music. Here’s a clue, folks; she doesn’t give a shit about non-fans, and the political system doesn’t give a shit if you stay away from the polls.
But what really angers me about this certain stripe of phony “progressives” is that they’re so loud and obnoxious about it, they end up handing elections to the right wing pretty much by default.
I’ve had a theory for a long time that much of the harsh criticism on the left, the stuff that doesn’t help us progress, is based on pettiness, selfishness, racism towards our first black president, greed and extreme naiveté (or some combination).
I haven’t weighed in much on the Cornell West tirade of late because being a white man, I don’t feel qualified to speak on many of these issues. I certainly have my opinions and have a few years of experience exploring a lot of issues that have faced African Americans. I produced, directed, co-wrote and co-edited a historical documentary on The Second Great Migration and I’m currently in pre-production on a few other similar stories. But I still would never presume to be able to speak to the ideas that Cornell West is pushing in the black community. I leave that to others like Melissa Harris-Perry (2016). Having read to this point in this post, please watch this clip from Ed Schultz’s show featuring Cornell West and Melissa Harris-Perry. And please notice how unspecific Cornell West’s ideas are and how chimerical. You might also notice how easily he dismisses President Obama’s many accomplishments, if only Cornell had gotten a few more phone calls from candidate Obama and a couple tickets to the inauguration.
I am probably Melissa Harris-Perry’s biggest fan, I think she should run for president in 2016 and I hereby nominate her. I would imagine that watching what President Obama has had to go through to this point, she’s probably not looking at the job as a step up at this point. But here’s to hoping she has a moment of dementia and runs for elected office. I read in this “chirpstory” that I created from her Twitter feed, that she hasn’t ruled it out. Woo hoo!
So I keep trying to understand how people who seem sane, with moderate to high intelligence, who claim to be “progressive” (whatever the hell that means anymore), can attack the very party and President who they stand the only chance of making progress with. We as real liberals (or progressives) have to keep calling them out on their pettiness and how they are hurting the progress they say they support.
The election of President Barack Obama was monumental in so many ways. That’s pretty obvious, I know. Lately, I’ve been trying to understand some people’s extreme hatred for a man with this face.
I mean really, I do not understand how – even if they don’t agree with the mans policies – they can’t see that he is a nice person. Well, it turns out that people really do think he is a nice person, contrary to the many warped memes that get trotted out on television or the vitriol coming from some in the Professional Left – the usual suspects. A recent poll by Politico did the radical thing and asked a poll question that actually attempted to get at that. From Politico with this headline Barack Obama’s Personal Approval Rating Hits 72% In Battleground States…
If you want to know why Barack Obama is looking good for reelection despite the our nation’s economic struggles, the new Politico/GWU poll has your answer. 72% of voters in battleground states approve of Obama as a person.
I’ve seen similar results on similar questions and it shows that a very large percentage see him as he actually is, a very genuine, intelligent, nice man. I’m a little freaked out by the “approve of him as a person”, as opposed to what? And really, it does leave 28% who either don’t approve of him as a person or don’t know. I can only imagine how that group breaks out. Certainly the “racists” make up a large percentage of that, from the right and the left. And I would assume some are just hard core Republicans who would spit on any damn liberal. Kind of how I feel about Republicans. :) And then there are, for lack of a better term, “The Naderites”, who don’t like anyone, they all suck, Democrats and Republicans. I’m sure there are others, but those are what come to my mind.
And I am encouraged that 72% of the American people are smart enough to be able to tell that he is a good person. I occasionally have up this Kurt Vonnegut quote “The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart.” I have to remind myself when reading these polls that they do include some people who are absolutely clueless, the ones that can’t name who the president is or who was buried in Grant’s tomb. They more than likely won’t vote, but I’m afraid they get included in the results of these “years out” polls.
I’m actually encouraged by that 72% number because with that many people who are capable of rational thought, all the Obama campaign has to do is point people to this website, or this one, or how about this great Youtube clip. It will be easy to get 51% of those people to realize that this genuinely nice man in the picture and on the TV really does care. He really is trying to move the country forward for all people. Share those links with all your friends, put them in emails, help spread the truth. I have a feeling a lot of people who consider themselves well informed aren’t aware of all that has been done in the last two and a half years. Here are a few of my favorites.
Authorized the US auto industry rescue plan and two GMAC rescue packages (2009)
Authorized a $789 billion economic stimulus plan (2009) * Note: 1/3 in tax cuts for working-class families; 1/3 to states for infrastructure projects; 1/3 to states to prevent the layoff of police officers, teachers, etc. at risk of losing their jobs because of state budget shortfalls
Credit card companies are prohibited from raising rates without advance notification or arbitrarily if customers are paying bills on time (2010)
Authorized the “Cash for Clunkers” program that stimulated auto sales and removed old, inefficient, polluting cars from the road (2009)
Signed the Affordable Care Act. The historic healthcare reform bill – $940 billion over 10 years (2010)
Instituted enforcements for equal pay for women (Lilly Ledbetter Bill) (2009)
Appointed Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina, to the Supreme Court (2009)
Signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation that includes acts of violence against gays under the list of federal hate crimes (2009)
Signed the Tribal Law and Order Act which does this. “Tribes will now have the right–and the resources–to investigate and prosecute rapes perpetrated by non-Natives on tribal lands.
That’s only a tiny sliver of great things or progress, that has been made in the last two and a half years. I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again, President Obama is the best president we’ve ever had. He has set a new standard for presidents.