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Prescription for the American left
February 11, 2006 5:16 AM   Subscribe

A Letter to the American Left By Bernard-Henri Lévy. "Nothing made a more lasting impression during my journey through America than the semi-comatose state in which I found the American left. I know, of course, that the term "left" does not have the same meaning and ramifications here that it does in France. And I cannot count how many times I was told there has never been an authentic "left" in the United States, in the European sense.

But at the end of the day, my progressive friends, you may coin ideas in whichever way you like. The fact is: You do have a right. This right, in large part thanks to its neoconservative battalion, has brought about an ideological transformation that is both substantial and striking. "

posted by mountainmambo (84 comments total)

 
So... his prescription is that "the left" should have more authentic anger and sign more petitions?
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:28 AM on February 11, 2006


Levy, like a lot of people who get articles published in magazines, seems to have mistaken John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic party for the left. I'm not quite sure why people keep making this mistake; they really don't look anything alike. One group is very much in favor of "free trade" agreements, US control over the middle east, and, generally speaking, maintaining the status quo. The other group hates the WTO, thinks the US should leave the middle east the hell alone and thinks that things need to change pretty soon lest we find ourselves up to our ears in global warming or staring down the barrel of World War III.
posted by Clay201 at 5:30 AM on February 11, 2006


The problems with triangulation are the acute angles on the right. Some think these should be made into equilaterals and thus the political left is marginalized as Clay201 points out.
posted by nofundy at 6:01 AM on February 11, 2006


SOH CAH TOA for freedom!
posted by selfnoise at 6:18 AM on February 11, 2006


Who me?
posted by sohcahtoa at 6:43 AM on February 11, 2006


Levy, like a lot of people who get articles published in magazines, seems to have mistaken John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic party for the left.

As an ex-Maoist who studied under Louis Althusser at the Ecole Normale Supérieure back in the 1960's, I think that we can fairly safely assume that Levy knows the left when he sees it. In this article, he says quite clearly that the US has never really had a 'left' as we know it, and so presumably he's using the term to describe a point on the political spectrum that is defined by it's relationship to the right.

The other group hates the WTO, thinks the US should leave the middle east the hell alone and thinks that things need to change pretty soon lest we find ourselves up to our ears in global warming or staring down the barrel of World War III.

None of these things are tendencies that Europeans would regard as inherently being associated with the left. You could be describing the Liberal Democrats.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:53 AM on February 11, 2006


He's wrong that Tookie What's-his-name didn't deserve to be executed, but he's right about what passes for the American left being basically clueless about the megachurches and other facets of the American right.
posted by oaf at 7:11 AM on February 11, 2006


So is Levy wrong?
He doesn't sound it to me.
The opposition desperately needs a voice.

The right has mastered the art of neutering the opposition.
Neither side has a plan for Iraq? Accuse the Dems for lacking a plan. It's instinctive to follow the accusatory finger.
posted by Busithoth at 7:25 AM on February 11, 2006


But since when does the press excuse citizens from their political duties? Why haven't we heard from more intellectuals like Susan Sontag--or even Gore Vidal and Tony Kushner (with whom I disagree on most other grounds) on this vexed and vital issue?

Gore Vidal has played pundit on at least one show that I saw personally, and I imagine he's done more. He wasn't too complimentary of the present administration. Scathing is more like it.

But - I fail to see his point in the above statement - the press doesn't excuse citizens of their political duties. And it got me feeling very stupid wondering the following: aside from voting, what are a citizens political duties?
posted by TeamBilly at 7:30 AM on February 11, 2006


Why haven't we heard from more intellectuals like Susan Sontag

Well for one thing ... (LA Times, reg).
posted by donpedro at 7:34 AM on February 11, 2006


God I hate it when someone like O'Reilly, or Coulter, or maybe even Cheney or Delay, identify Democrats or others as 'the extreme Left'. Good god, an extreme Left-ist position would advocate nationalizing Haliburton or the sugar industry or something.

That the Right-leaning commentators and politicians can talk this way and not be laughed at seems more a measure of how far right things have swung in the past 6 years.

What is most disappointing to me is that the vast majority of the public, the current day equivalent to Nixon's silent majority , seems to either buy it hook line and sinker, or else can't mount a coherent critique to it.

Every day we see the government taking yet further steps to dismantle itself and the statutory protections that have been erected here over the past 50 years (environmental protections, moves to gut Social Security, food safety...you're familiar with the list), and in their places we get crushing deficit spending, and near hysterical assurances that our "security" remains intact. Thanks a lot. Why is this even an either-or-proposition?

I'm at the point where I can't be more upset with what are leaders in DC are doing than I already am. They couldn't possibly have taken it this far without the explicit or tacit acceptance and approval of a good proportion of the U.S. citizenry. People don't realize what we're losing because they either didn't value it much in the first place or because they're so credulous, they can't imagine the people they elected would try to take it away.

I think we're at the point where we might have to admit that we really don't deserve what we had before the 2000 election, because we don't seem to be willing to fight our leaders to get it back. Essentially, the people have accepted what is being done to them by BushCo.

I kind of hope not, but I don't see much evidence to the contrary.
posted by hwestiii at 7:38 AM on February 11, 2006


He's right.
posted by billysumday at 7:42 AM on February 11, 2006


Levy's piece shows that he has a shallow understanding of recent American political and social history. It shows in his statement regarding the death penalty. Why isn't the political opposition all up in arms over a 70 year old man being executed? Mr. Levy should recall that the U.S. has had far greater crime problems in the recent past than France or most parts of Europe have (although the crime rate dropped dramatically in the '90s). You also have a different media culture, a culture of fear (many people would be hard pressed to believe that the crime rate dropped in the '90s, unless you put the facts right in front of them, due to media reports), etc. If the political opposition did protest the 70 year old man being executed, the reaction would be fairly predictable--there they are, coddling criminals and being all bleeding hearted, never mind the victims, etc. The opposition will barely be heard, and certainly won't be taken seriously.

Also, I don't see how being less pragmatic and more ideological will be of much help to the union. Ideologues now have us in enough of a mess. Thanks, but no thanks for the advice.

The only thing I agree with is the Democratic lack of creativity. A lack of ideology is not, however, a problem. What it will take to get through the culture of fear, for instance, is something really creative and pragmatic, but not ideological. Levy also forgets that no ideology was behind the New Deal-era- programs that Dems. still spend so much of their time fighting for. The New Deal was a pragmatic response to the Great Depression.
posted by raysmj at 7:49 AM on February 11, 2006


all right! another scathing indictment of "The Left!"
posted by mcsweetie at 8:10 AM on February 11, 2006


Levy's been plugging his new book on NPR lately, and I've really been enjoying the interviews. Here's one (audio link).
posted by hydrophonic at 8:18 AM on February 11, 2006


Here's a marvellously piquant example of why the left thriveth not in the US. We have an AAUP-sponsored conference about whether Israeli academics and universities should be boycotted, and an attendee professorate capable of being utterly astonished that such a conference would attract Israel-haters so rabid they might insert Holocaust-denier articles in the conference reading-materials packet. Accident! It was an accident! It crawled in there all by itself, honest. How is it that those who might comprise an effective American left are so utterly unable to repudiate, totally and right this instant, self-defeating stuff like this? Why hasn't this irredeemably tainted conference, for instance, not been killed dead with a stake but merely, uh, postponed?

Now then, it isn't exactly going to spoil my supper if somebody cries Godwin on me. To quote Spam Gangee re. the Dark Lord Sorhed (in Bored of the Rings, the Harvard Lampoon parody of you can probably figure out what,) "I ain't a-sayin' 'ee's right, mind ye, but I ain't a-sayin' 'ee's wrong, neither, if ye get my drift." But I'm still intensely curious: the right wing grasps that it can't openly snuggle up to the Klan and the White Citizens' Councils. Whatever it may do in the closet, in public knows it must repudiate such groups, and has no problem doing so. Why do left-leaning folks have such a Devil of a time repudiating (even just for public consumption) the left-lunatic equivalent of the Klan--for instance, loony-lefties so visceral in their hatred of Israel that they become Holocaust-denier fellow travellers of mass murder fascism? Why can't the left see how shameful this will appear, and keep it in the closet?

Naturally I'm not complaining about this. As long as the American left continues to eat itself "motivate the core," it will remain marginalized and nothing to worry about as competition. But jeez, it makes me scratch my head. Such self-mutilation just doesn't compute.
posted by jfuller at 8:19 AM on February 11, 2006


Part of the problem is that the American left is still seen as being infested with elitism. Saying "we have to get the message out" kind of comes off as code for "We have to trick the stupid NASCAR halfwits into swinging back over to our side". There's still an undercurrent of contempt for middle America, or at least, a perception of contempt - and this is precisely how the right rose to power: by exploiting the perception that the left consists of stuffy intellectuals who hate America, hate Christianity and hate "regular" people.

The right rose by saying "Hey, we're just like you! We shop at Wal Mart, and watch TV, and drive SUVs and go to church on Sundays - not like those snooty Liberals who immerse crucifixes in urine and laugh at the books you read and the values you hold, and who despise your God". This didn't happen overnight. Conservatives have been selling this message for at least 30 years.

That's a tough thing to fight, but in order to fight it, it might help if the left stopped whining about how the mean Republicans kicked over all their sandcastles. That's another thread in liberal culture that no one has any patience for: the left's sense of being victimized, which is percieved as a deep and inexcusable weakness of character.
posted by slatternus at 8:26 AM on February 11, 2006


From further down in the article:

The idea behind the conference grew out of debates over a movement last year by Britain’s main faculty union to boycott two Israeli universities. The AAUP and many other academic groups criticized the boycott as antithetical to academic freedom and the boycott was eventually rescinded. In the wake of that controversy, the AAUP started drafting a statement about academic boycotts (strongly opposing them) and organizing the conference scheduled for next week.

So what are you going on about, jfuller?
posted by raysmj at 8:29 AM on February 11, 2006


raysmj: Why isn't the political opposition all up in arms over a 70 year old man being executed? Mr. Levy should recall that the U.S. has had far greater crime problems in the recent past than France or most parts of Europe have...

It was my impression that Levy was using the death penalty as a baseline of activism not only due to its inherent inhumanity, but also because of the staggering statistics that show it's applied unjustly. A culture of crime does not explain a culture of inhumanity quite so easily in that context.

Thus, we're just saying "The left ignores institutionalized killing," but "the left ignores the fact that its criminal justice system arbitrarily kills criminals in ways that affect the poor and minorities out of proportion with their roles in violent crimes."

If the American left can be passive about such a fundamental and demonstrable injustice, then how can it be expected to deal with any of the other challenges that have emerged during the imperial presidency?
posted by VulcanMike at 8:31 AM on February 11, 2006


slatternus: And the right never acts victimized? And who's going to state legislatures at the moment, trying to get affirmative action for conservatives in academia? Who goes on about how Christmas has been stolen away from them and whatnot?
posted by raysmj at 8:33 AM on February 11, 2006


As an ex-Maoist who studied under Louis Althusser at the Ecole Normale Supérieure back in the 1960's, I think that we can fairly safely assume that Levy knows the left when he sees it.

No, we can't safely assume that. Personally, I don't consider Maoists leftists, but even if I did, Levy's credentials still wouldn't guarantee that he does or doesn't recognize anything in particular. In order to determine what Levy does and does not recognize, we have only to go look at what he's written. He's identified Kerry and Clinton as members of the left. If you consider them leftists, then great; he's spot on. I don't consider them anything of the sort, so I think he's completely wrong.

he says quite clearly that the US has never really had a 'left' as we know it

Yes, he does say that. And, again, he's wrong. The US had an anti-slavery movement, a civil rights movement, a long tradition of struggles for freedom of speech and so forth. We've had populism, feminism, hippies, wobblies... the list goes on and on.

My guess is that the left Levy is looking for is of the intellectual, book-writing, current-event-commenting ilk.
And no, we don't have a whole lot of those people hanging around. But so what?

presumably he's using the term to describe a point on the political spectrum that is defined by it's relationship to the right.

So... anyone who's not quite as fanatical as the right wing qualifies as left? What happened to the center?

Look, if you're going to describe Hillary Clinton as part of the left, you're going to have to explain how it's possible that she differs with large segments of the anti-war movement, the Greens, the WTO protestors, and a long list of other leftist groups.
posted by Clay201 at 8:34 AM on February 11, 2006


VulcanMike: You still didn't address the part about getting around the culture of fear. Tell me you wouldn't hear the attack I just outlined. Convince me. Legit claims about racial injustice would hardly be heard, or blown off as so much retro '60s talk.
posted by raysmj at 8:36 AM on February 11, 2006


raysmj: Of course the right acts victimized, but see, that's the success of the right's strategy: they're not acting victimized, they're "taking back America" from people who despise America. That's THE BRAND. I'm talking about perceptions here, ones that have been crafted for decades. The American right owns so much of the "We're fighting for the Little Guy" high ground that they can whine as loudly as they want and still come out looking like courageous crusaders on a mission to save America.
posted by slatternus at 8:39 AM on February 11, 2006


The left in America is a sad place to be.

On the one hand, you the have shrill extremists who thrive in places like college campuses and leftist blogs (sorry), who embrace anarcho-socialism or whatever is the flavor of the week, and criticize anyone on the left who is even remotely concerned with things like "reality" and "compromise." These people get all the attention, and ruin everything for the rest of us. When red-staters think of us lefties, they think of that one annoying person in our group of college friends who just wouldn't STFU about Israel/Palestine and why we should all be vegans and vote for Nader. You know the people I'm talking about. (Sorry if you're one of these people)

On the other hand, you have our elected Democratic leaders, who are just itching for an opportunity to sell us out to the Republicans any chance they get. Really, would it hurt these people to so much as take a stand? About anything?

And then, somewhere, you have the rest of us. People who aren't necessarily "committed to the cause" of bringing about a worldwide socialist utopia of smiling sunshines and rainbows and butterfiles, but on the other hand, are scared shitless of the shameless fascism of the Bush administration. We get no attention, because unlike the leftist extremists, we aren't loud and obnoxious and weird, and unlike the Democratic leaders who are currently selling us out, we have no actual power.

What to do? Good question. Vote Democrat, contribute money to good causes (ACLU, Planned Parenthood, FAMM, Doctors Without Borders, etc.), and when speaking with conservatives, don't treat them like idiots simply because you don't agree with them. That's all that I've been able to come up with.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:41 AM on February 11, 2006


The author totally nailed it on the neutered, passive state of the left. I would write more, but I've a job to get to. Now. Perhaps later. Look forward to more verbosity.
posted by mk1gti at 8:53 AM on February 11, 2006


It's all about branding. Look at what the Conservative Brand says: "Liberals are morally decadent snobs who hate America, and hate you. Help us to save this country from them!"

That's a powerful message. What's the left's brand? "Conservatives are mean people, and we hate them, and anyone who supports them".

It could use a little tweaking.
posted by slatternus at 8:59 AM on February 11, 2006


I cannot count how many times I was told there has never been an authentic "left" in the United States, in the European sense.

Maybe because it didn't get through your thick skull the first dozen times?

As an American who has lived in Europe for well over a decade - and who considers Europe home - what passes for "the left" in America is slightly to the right of center in Europe. The right-most party in Sweden, for example, the Moderates, stand far to the "left" of the American Democrats. The Swedish Left - the Environmentalists and Vänsterpartiet (literally the Left party) - are former communists who remain communist in everything but name. Eugene Debs would be considered a moderate in Europe.

This is neither good, nor bad. Not better, nor worse, only different. America is not Europe in so many ways that it is silly to compare the two.

Most Americans would shudder at the level of taxation in Europe, but I'd rather pay my money for National Health care than to some HMO, or "insurance" company in America. There is a natural sense of solidarity in many European countries that does not exist in the polyglot which is America. Again, not right or wrong, better or worse, only different.

America does not need a "left" in the European sense - it's the wrong shoe on the wrong foot. What America needs is a party of opposition. A party that represents the people instead of the corporations. For the moment, no such animal exists in America - Democrats are paler versions of rabid Republicans.

Americans doesn't need the left. She needs more patriots and fewer nationalists.
posted by three blind mice at 9:02 AM on February 11, 2006


I got halfway though a post ranting about how religion is what really keeps the "right" in power, and how infuriated I am by the hypocracy of that (to wit: if Bush actually was a good Christian, he'd be a leftist)... but then I decided it was futile to even get that worked up and deleted what I wrote.
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:02 AM on February 11, 2006


Americans doesn't need the left. She needs more patriots and fewer nationalists.

Well put.
posted by jonmc at 9:31 AM on February 11, 2006


> So what are you going on about, jfuller?

The deed contradicts the words. If the AAUP considers the academic-boycott question is so settled, in the negative, why on Earth were they sponsoring a further conference on the issue? Professor Scott says "The point of the conference was to hear out our critics." Well, why the bloody Hell would they want to do that? Why is it so difficult to say "We've had that discussion and you lost so shut up or get out?"

Because, obviously, that would be illiberal, uncivilized and authoritarian. Which lights up in neon the most fundamental problem of the non-loony left: it's not authoritarian enough to settle an issue and keep it settled. Which is as much as to say, not authoritarian enough to win. The loony left by contrast (and of course all division of the right) are plenty authoritarian enough to keep the cadres on point.

posted by jfuller at 9:53 AM on February 11, 2006


It is not religion which keeps the right in power (that's just the packaging), but the ancient human motivators of fear and greed, to which the antidotes are courage and comfort.

These principles may apply to every policy argument the "left" currently makes, from the war on terror to single payer healthcare. But if you're asking Hillary and Kerry and Biden -- you will not find those things in their rhetoric, or their stances. To find that in the left -- courage and comfort -- you must look to the new breed -- Howard Dean, Paul Hackett, Barack Obama, the new-and-improved Al Gore, and others.

But the new left is ascendant in ways which aren't immediately apparent, in ways which ten years hence will seem like conventional wisdom. Below the surface of an imperial presidency asserting it's power and keeping it's wurlitzer blaring day and night, is an ascendant opposition which raises more money, reaches voters more directly, and is beginning to enforce some semblance of "working the refs" in media and enforcing party discipline. It's opposed by entrenched wafflers, of course (who have the power to hobble Dean in the primaries, but not in the DNC race).

What we're seeing now on the "left" are the effects of a decade of triangulation by a preturnatually skilled politician, who's victories were ascribed to the wrong causes. Democrats believe that triangulation -- a "third way" -- was responsible for Clinton's victories, and have emulated that in varying degrees. Being that Clinton never won a majority, only gaining office because the right split the vote twice, this is the incorrect strategy. The correct strategy is direct opposition, and strong statements of principles. The ideas are there (healthcare, responsible use of the armed forces and veteran's benefits, voting integrity, fiscal responsibility, the right to privacy, etc), it just takes time to stand upright and project your voice after a spinal transplant. The transformation will not happen overnight, but neither did the conservative movement happen overnight. The left is, however, moving in the correct direction, for example the 50 state strategy of challenging every race, in every state, at every level, and raising money from small donors rather than large donors.

In a roundabout sort of way...the left after Clinton needed to go to the political widerness for a while, to sort out exactly what it is that needed to change. A little introspection and self-evaluation seemed long overdue after the excesses of the pre-1994 Congressional Dems, and the old machine. But I'm not among those hand wringers who thinks the left is lost. The strong opposition and ideas are there, you just need to know where to look, and allow a little time to develop an infrastructure to rival that of the right.

Oh, and conventional wisdom in politics is always bunk.

Half the problem that Henri-Levy describes is rooted in a Republican strategy to make Democrats afraid to articulate strong opinions. Note the GOP talking points on nearly any issue, and at their base you will find reverse psychology designed to cause Democrats to moderate their stances out of fear of seeming "out of the mainstream". In any argument, you will find these "Brer Rabbit" talking points from the right -- "that's why Democrats lose elections", "please, continue to align yourself with Michael Moore", "shrill", "screed", "raging", "far-left positions" etc. All of which are caricatures designed to cause Democrats to moderate their positions. Personally, I ignore them.

There's nothing "far left" about the right to privacy, there's nothing "shrill" about believing healthcare is a right and not a privilege, there's nothing "raging" about asserting that the lack of a voter paper trail is absurd. And anyone who claims I don't love my country, that I don't support our troops, or care about my family's safety is going to get laughed right out of the room. The problem is that I know this, and most of the people reading this know that there is nothing "shrill" about core principles such as these...but apprently Lieberman and Biden do not. They are willing to compromise with those who negotiate in bad faith. I am not.

But as for the "message" of the left, and the lack of strong positions....I can't speak for my whole party or my whole side, but anyone who cares to discuss policy with me personally would find that there's no lack of ideas here, there's no lack of spine, and there's no shame in my game. And there's nothing immoderate about standing up for the Bill of Rights and the rule of law. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Having the courage of your convictions is one thing...the trick is demanding the same from your elected officials, and if they prove unworthy of the task, to challenge them too. Replacing them, if necessary.

Like Lincoln said to McClellan -- "If you don't want to use the army, I should like to borrow it for awhile."
posted by edverb at 9:58 AM on February 11, 2006


Another thing that matters is consistency. Not everyone gets inside the conservative tent. You have to be more or less "On Message". Against abortion, support the troops etc. etc.

But the Liberal/leftist tent is, because of the fundamental nature of leftism, a "Come One Come All" affair. So you get everything from fringe nutjobs to pro-war moderates, all claiming to be the authentic voice of the the left.

It's a bit analagous to the difference between Christianity and Islam. Christianity is ruled centrally, by a Pope who lays down the law, and issues official interpretations of scripture. Islam has no Pope, and little or no centralized interpretation of the faith.

The nature of the leftist sensibility precludes easy acceptance of official, centralized authority and interpretation of "what it is to be a leftist". So that seems to be an inherent structural flaw that may not be fixable.
posted by slatternus at 9:58 AM on February 11, 2006


Garrison Keillor (a member of the left) reviewed Bernard-Henri Lévy's book in the NY Times. He didn't like it:
Thanks, pal. I don't imagine France collapsing anytime soon either. Thanks for coming. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. For your next book, tell us about those riots in France, the cars burning in the suburbs of Paris. What was that all about? Were fat people involved?
posted by Staggering Jack at 10:00 AM on February 11, 2006


> Christianity is ruled centrally, by a Pope who lays down the law,

Say, you've been out of circulation since before Henry VIII?
posted by jfuller at 10:07 AM on February 11, 2006


Catholicism, Christianity. Whatever.
posted by slatternus at 10:10 AM on February 11, 2006


What edverb said.

And i'd add that we have different baseline principles than the death penalty or some anti-Israeli acts. How about equal rights, fair pay, labor laws and protections, a responsive government that actually helps the majority of people, etc...basic things like that--fundamentally American principles that helped make this country a wonderful place. It's the removal and dismantling of those things and erosion of our rights that is by far the biggest fight going on now.

And it's pathetic that those things are now only concerns of some illdefined but clearly unempowered "left" instead of all Americans. Our true progressives have never been part of government--our system doesn't really allow for it at all. It's people outside the system who make change happen.
posted by amberglow at 10:19 AM on February 11, 2006


Also, see this thread.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:19 AM on February 11, 2006


Anyway, the religious analogy is poor, but the point is still valid, I think: that the American Left is by its very nature always going to be ideologically fragmented and chaotic compared to the Conservative machine, which means a permanent uphill battle, though not necessarily an impossible one.
posted by slatternus at 10:20 AM on February 11, 2006


I consider my politics -- socialism, with a healthy dose of small-group anarchism -- to be unremarkable. And yet I am so freaking lonely in this country.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:26 AM on February 11, 2006


There's nothing "far left" about the right to privacy, there's nothing "shrill" about believing healthcare is a right and not a privilege, there's nothing "raging" about asserting that the lack of a voter paper trail is absurd.

There is everything "shrill" about believing healthcare is a right. This is one of the differences between the European left and what passes for the American "left." I don't think too many Europeans - even in socialist Sweden - think Healthcare is a "right", rather it is a social responsibility shared by everyone that is best provided for by government.

Whining about "rights" in this fashion - as if healthcare is on a par with free speech - is the frivalous pastime of the American "left."
posted by three blind mice at 10:26 AM on February 11, 2006


...the right wing grasps that it can't openly snuggle up to the Klan and the White Citizens' Councils. Whatever it may do in the closet, in public knows it must repudiate such groups, and has no problem doing so. ...
Bull. (and this is just one tiny recent example, applauded by our vice-president--the entire rightwing--elected and not--continually spews bigotry, both coded and not-coded)
posted by amberglow at 10:26 AM on February 11, 2006


Levy's points are pretty lame (Keillor's skewering of him, instead, is just pathetic): as pointed out above, the American public simply doesn't give a shit about a lot of things -- certainly not about 70-year-old men on death row or non-American darkies being tortured in American jails in distant (or, as in Gitmo's case) not so distant lands.

Saint Jimmy Carter notwithstanding (you know, the same guy who as Governor was a HUGE John Calley fan), the last socially progressive Democrat who got elected was Lyndon B. (B for "Bombthegooks") Johnson in '64. and we all know how well that worked for him, and the party (two consecutive Nixon wins, one in a landslide).

and, LBJ only won because the GOP ran the lamest, dumbest, most unelectable candidate of the postwar era (including Dukakis and McGovern). before LBJ you have to go back to FDR to find a socially progressive President -- and he only got elected because America was bankrupt (and he managed to appease the Southerners, throwing civil rights in the dustbin for another generation)

hence, in the last 60 years America's choice is, a Right Wing Republican or a Moderate Republican who runs as a Democrat because the GOP nomination is taken (remember children, Clinton is the most successful Republican President of the 20th century, that's why rightwingers hate him so much).

Levy, not very America-savvy, hasn't understood that. he seems to think that Naderites can manage to bring a candidate to the White House. the words "American Left" don't mean shit in Presidential Politics -- unlike the crazed Fetus Folk who now run the GOP (Reagan and the Bushies gave them what they wanted, Roe's head on a platter), lib'ruls haven't figured out how to hijack a political party.

my guess is, America is a Eisenhower Republican country: the GOP is farther to the right of the actual country it is running. Clinton knew that, and won twice. suppose you manage to bring a healthy Paul Wellstone back to life: I wouldn't hold my breath for a guy like that to be elected President. reality is not The West Wing, Martin Sheen is just a liberal wet dream.


nothing to worry about as competition

this is a lot of gloating for a 5/4 SCOTUS selection and a 51%-49% victory (with Diebold's help). a lot of gloating. American right wingers as of now are only capable of playing the sore winner on the Internet. I guess that prevents them from reading the papers, or considering the blood on their hands, I guess.

that'd ruin their supper.
posted by matteo at 10:27 AM on February 11, 2006


This kinda stuff is why I think we should stop referring to the political spectrum in terms of "right" and "left."

That and the fact that people confuse "right" the direction for "right" the alternate term for "correct."

Interesting who he considers "left" anyways. Kerry and Hillary are barely moderate, let alone left. Is the American "right" so far out there that any Democrat appears to be a rabid liberal by comparison?
posted by ilsa at 10:28 AM on February 11, 2006


John William Calley

of course.
posted by matteo at 10:29 AM on February 11, 2006


three blind mice--thinking that a "social responsibility" is the duty of government instead of the private sector is not at all shrill. If it really is, then Swedes won't care if all their safety net is taken away then, no? I find it weird that thinking the government has certain duties toward its citizens is something "shrill".
posted by amberglow at 10:30 AM on February 11, 2006


my guess is, America is a Eisenhower Republican country: the GOP is farther to the right of the actual country it is running. Clinton knew that, and won twice. suppose you manage to bring a healthy Paul Wellstone back to life: I wouldn't hold my breath for a guy like that to be elected President. reality is not The West Wing, Martin Sheen is just a liberal wet dream.

Spot on matteo - and well said. Unfortunately, Paul Wellstone is alive and well in the person of Hillary Clinton who has none of her husband's pragmatism. That she is discussed, let alone promoted, as a potential candidate for president tells me how far out of touch the Democrats really are with the country they live in.
posted by three blind mice at 10:37 AM on February 11, 2006


thinking that a "social responsibility" is the duty of government instead of the private sector is not at all shrill.

Sorry amberglow, describing healthcare as a "right" - which has a particular meaning to Americans who are justifiably proud of their Bill of "Rights" - is nothing but shrill. But fighting for "rights" is what energizes the American "left" and so there you have it.

A little more talk about social responsibility and a lot less talk about "rights" would make more sense.
posted by three blind mice at 10:43 AM on February 11, 2006


Wellstone and Clinton shared almost no positions on anything. and Clinton is only being promoted by the Republicans (most heavily), and by the more rightwing Democrats in DC.

It's a reactive game they're playing tho--Dems in DC are really waiting to see who replaces Cheney when he has to step down "for his health".
posted by amberglow at 10:43 AM on February 11, 2006


Social responsibility doesn't exist in America anymore at all, except for brief nagging flashes of guilt at things like pictures of Katrina's aftermath. As long as people are getting theirs, they're not that concerned with others--never really have been. The majority of Americans never gave a shit if education was seperate or not. The majority of Americans didn't want interracial marriage made legal. They didn't care that others were hurting, and still mostly don't. It's only when it's forced into their consciences that the majority have any clue of how others live or suffer.
posted by amberglow at 10:47 AM on February 11, 2006


If we had any real sense of social responsibility, Katrina wouldn't have been such a shock to so many. It was, and it was also easily dismissed from people's minds once housing and stuff was found. (and what was provided to all those people didn't come from the federal govt.--and really still hasn't--but from individual states and cities)
posted by amberglow at 10:49 AM on February 11, 2006


> in the last 60 years America's choice is, a Right Wing Republican or a Moderate
> Republican who runs as a Democrat

If you can find me an honest-to-Ghod Eisenhower Republican I'll happily vote for him--or her--even if he runs as a Democrat.


> Dems in DC are really waiting to see who replaces Cheney when he has to step
> down "for his health".

C*ndi. Get ready for it.
posted by jfuller at 10:52 AM on February 11, 2006


and Clinton is only being promoted by the Republicans (most heavily), and by the more rightwing Democrats in DC.

I agree that the American right would like nothing more than a Hillary candidacy, and I agree that her role in the Right's political landscape is as bête noir.

But Democrats elected her into the Senate and are also pumping money into her campaign coffers so you cannot say that she is not being promoted within the Democratic party.
posted by three blind mice at 10:52 AM on February 11, 2006


Well, okay. The left is weak?
What do you want me to do? I'm asking for actual suggestions and plans of action. Maybe this should be in AskMefi, but...c'mon. It's not good to complain about the problem if nobody can come up with a solution.
posted by 235w103 at 10:58 AM on February 11, 2006


Social responsibility doesn't exist in America anymore at all...

And that's your mistake Amberglow. All of those Christians who vote Republican are all about social responsibility. The "left" - with their near strident love for abortion - have been completely unable to tap into this.

The left demonizes them and turns away a large block of voters who, I think, are the natural supporters of social programs, welfare, etc.

The right, on the other hand, throws them a few bones and then does exactly the opposite of what Jesus would do.
posted by three blind mice at 10:59 AM on February 11, 2006


He also wrote that "In the Footsteps of Tocqueville" series for Atlantic Monthly. I hated that.
posted by smackfu at 11:03 AM on February 11, 2006


No, they're not. Their leaders and preachers talk about it, but it's a message of exclusion and intolerance and hate, not social responsibility--it's basic authoritarian theology being imposed on all Americans. What they consider to be social responsibility is dictating to us all how we should live, who we're allowed to sleep with and when, and that we should only have the freedoms they allow, which are only for people who act as they dictate. It's the Taliban in Walmart clothing.

The fact that they allow themselves to used by the Republicans is another matter entirely.
posted by amberglow at 11:07 AM on February 11, 2006


Ok, fine, you want practical suggestions? Go back and read the comment threads on Democratic Underground, Daily KOS, Eschaton, and here on Metafilter for the night of the 2004 November election. Now, put yourself in the shoes of a so-called "red state" middle class American, and ask yourself what impression they'd have of the American Left.
posted by slatternus at 11:12 AM on February 11, 2006


The right has a strategy to win at all costs. The left has up to now been too high minded to dissimulate its intentions and manipulate these large voting blocks as the GOP has. The American public "leftist" to the extent that their material and economic concerns are reflected by the left. What the GOP has done is to hijack their fears and superstitions of living in a world of gays and abortionists.
posted by mert at 11:18 AM on February 11, 2006


On the one hand, you the have shrill extremists who thrive in places like college campuses and leftist blogs (sorry), who embrace anarcho-socialism or whatever is the flavor of the week

Here's a list of most trafficked blogs. Tell me which ones are the ones embracing "anarcho-socialism or whatever is the flavor of the week."

Who are the "shrill extremists on college campuses" who get "all the attention"? I know you're going to say "Noam Chomsky," but I don't remember seeing him on any pundit shows, lately.
posted by deanc at 11:30 AM on February 11, 2006


that the American Left is by its very nature always going to be ideologically fragmented and chaotic compared to the Conservative machine, which means a permanent uphill battle, though not necessarily an impossible one.

The liberal struggles of the past 150 years, dating back to abolitionism and up through unionization, civil rights, and social welfare have been essentially about dispersing power, not concentrating it. As a consequence, this makes it awfully difficult to create a successful political movement in a winner-take-all electoral system-- the mindset is almost the opposite of that which is required. The dispersal of power from those who hold it out to those who don't works most effectively, I would guess, in a parliamentary system, where the left/liberal factions can continually form coalitions with "establishment parties" in order to send more political power to their constituents.

It's very easy to run on a platform in which you tell a wide swath of voters, "I'm going to preserve your privleged position." It's much harder to attract a majority when your platform is, "I'm appealing to your social conscience to give more power and influence to those who don't have it now, relative to the rest of you."
posted by deanc at 11:42 AM on February 11, 2006


Thank you, deanc, that's what I was struggling to articulate.
posted by slatternus at 11:47 AM on February 11, 2006


It's the Taliban in Walmart clothing.

Well there you go Amberglow. Demonizing people who probably agree with you on many issues.

Frankly, the "left" needs to realize that they have to trade away a 13-year-old girl's "right" to obtain an abortion without even consulting her parents, in order to appeal to a voters who would help them make progress on many other and much larger and much more important social issues like healthcare and foreign policy.

But the party of "rights" can never compromise, can never be pragmatic and thus renders itself wholly irrelevant to the body politic whilst blaming the "right" for its woes.

The right has a strategy to win at all costs.

You're half right, mert. The right has a strategy to WIN. Full stop. All they are concerned about is looting the Treasury, and they'll compromise any "conservative" value in order to do it.
posted by three blind mice at 11:51 AM on February 11, 2006


Here's a list of most trafficked blogs. Tell me which ones are the ones embracing "anarcho-socialism or whatever is the flavor of the week."

Who are the "shrill extremists on college campuses" who get "all the attention"?


Are you denying that these people exist? I'm just mentioning some of the places where I have encountered them.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:54 AM on February 11, 2006


I wonder if it wouldn't just be better for a Democratic incumbent to just come out and say "I'm going to ask Americans to assume personal responsibility for the general welfare of their society, and it's going to be difficult and you're not going to like it very much".
posted by slatternus at 11:54 AM on February 11, 2006


> What they consider to be social responsibility is dictating to us all how we should
> live, who we're allowed to sleep with and when, and that we should only have
> the freedoms they allow, which are only for people who act as they dictate.

Well amber, but exactly! "Social responsibility," whether of the left or right or in-between, is inherently collective, mechanical and one-size-fits-all. In other words coercive and totalitarian, if you happen not to agree with what the socially responsible collective decides is good for you. There's a socially responsible collective that hopes to cure AIDS. There's another socially responsible collective that hopes to cure buggerers. There's a socially responsible collective that supports women's right to terminate pregnancies, and another socially responsible collective dedicated to stopping the mass murder of Unborn-Americans. Each of these is equally a socially responsible collective. Each of them loves you, in its own way, and wants what's best for you. And you think social responsibility doesn't exist! Wake up and smell the decaffeinated, nutrient-enhanced, not-dangerously-hot coffee.


> The left has up to now been too high minded to dissimulate its intentions

Too right! It's been totally open and up front about its intentions.


posted by jfuller at 12:04 PM on February 11, 2006


three, trading away people's rights to win power in a mostly ineffective and corrupt system is not a good solution. If a girl's right to choose is traded away for power, then my rights are just as easily traded away, and yours, and everyone's. That's a road the GOP takes, and people don't like it. To intentionally do something like that is abhorrent, and reads as weak and uncommitted to anything at all, which is how we're painted anyway. In effect, you're saying we should act exactly as the noise machine says we are already acting. It would further the elimination of all differences bet the GOP and Democratic party, and hurt people.

We'd stand for nothing at all.
posted by amberglow at 12:06 PM on February 11, 2006


Part of the reason I find this subject particularly fascinating is because of the weird ideological inversion that's happened in American politics.

You've got the GOP, traditionally a party of governmental minimalism, now saying "We'll keep the country secure, We'll keep gays from getting married, We'll keep your kids safe from drugs and porn, We'll make sure America stays Christian, We'll handle this that and the other thing".

Basically they're saying big government is the answer to everything. And the interesting this is, that's a position that the Left has always been traditionally criticised for. Now, the American left seems to be the camp that's all about limiting and decentralizing power.
posted by slatternus at 12:12 PM on February 11, 2006


There is everything "shrill" about believing healthcare is a right. This is one of the differences between the European left and what passes for the American "left." I don't think too many Europeans - even in socialist Sweden - think Healthcare is a "right", rather it is a social responsibility shared by everyone that is best provided for by government.

Whining about "rights" in this fashion - as if healthcare is on a par with free speech - is the frivalous pastime of the American "left."


I think that could be a useful semantical distinction, but ultimately without a difference in terms of policy. The policy goal is the same: coverage for every man, woman and child.

In practical terms, the way to convince Americans on a national healthcare plan is to point out that they're already paying for it (which they are.) It's not smart to pay for something you don't get. Cut out the middleman and the efficiency would lead to savings and better coverage, enough to cover every man, woman and child. And then make the Republicans explain why they want you to pay more and get less.

As for calling the position "shrill" for using the word "right" instead of "shared responsibility", consider this:
But is the public interested in just tinkering around the edges or do they want big change? In the latest CBS News/New York Times survey, 90 percent say we need to either implement fundamental changes in the health care system (56 percent) or completely rebuild the system (34 percent). Just 8 percent think only minor changes are needed.

How about the federal government taking a leading role? In the same poll, by 2:1 (62-31), the public says it’s the responsibility of the federal government to “guarantee health care for all”.
It ain't shrill, it's unacknowledged reality. Most Americans view healthcare as a right already. Here's the thing...you condemn the "left" as "shrill" for holding the majority position on this issue. You're marginalizing a position held by the overwhelming majority of Americans. Two-thirds say it's the government's responsibility already. The only people offended by calling it a "right" are in the minority.

Here's the deal, in practical terms: I stand by my convictions, and will not moderate my position...after all I have two thirds of the country on my side on this, so why should I? The other side should moderate theirs. Instead of discussing how "shrill" I am for saying what everyone's thinking already, how about they explain to me how healthcare isn't a right? I'd like to hear them defend the current situation, because A) they own the status quo and B) it's indefensible.

At least then we're talking in terms of the argument I want to have, and for that matter the vast majority of Americans want to have. You want to figure out why Democrats (the entrenched ones anyway) keep losing arguments they should be winning? That's the reason right there. They shouldn't be playing defense when they control two thirds of the field on an issue. Make the other fool defend his shrinking turf. Move the argument past shared responsibility and into the realm of "right", "moral imperative"...when we're on the side of at least 66% and as much as 90% of Americans, the other side should be meeting our most audacious goals halfway, not the other way around.

You know why Democrats lose? Because they're so worried that their convictions will get them called "shrill". Oh the horror. Then they wonder why they are perceived to stand for nothing. It's because they were too afraid to articulate their beliefs in the first place, lest some Republican "Brer Rabbit" talking point make them question the wisdom of speaking their mind.
posted by edverb at 12:33 PM on February 11, 2006


If you can find me an honest-to-Ghod Eisenhower Republican I'll happily vote for him--or her--even if he runs as a Democrat.

I assume you've voted for Bill Clinton -- twice. otherwise you're just lying.

re: C*ndi. I'm willing to bet good money that the Souther GOP primary voters would clobber her, giving the nomination to Joe Whiteguy (yes, even to McCain, even if he has a brown kid, as the Bush campaign told us in 2000).
if you actually think the nice Southern GOP primary voters are so eager to see a Uppity Negro woman in the aptly named White House, let's see some money.

but I doubt you will, because unlike most of your MeFi right wing brethren, you're actually a smart man. if you still want to bet on the election (not the Gerald-Ford-like elevation) of "President Condi", I'm here, and I have PayPal. I promise that I won't keep your money, I'll donate it to CAIR.
posted by matteo at 12:46 PM on February 11, 2006


what edverb said, altho with the media not at all interesting in spreading anything except for the GOP's messages, there's a problem to begin with: ... I am doubtful that any Democratic policy message / proposal has any chance of getting through the established news media right now. I mean, we have seen it time and time again: the established news media just filters out our messages and our narratives, and replaces them with Republican narratives, talking points, and memes. Peter Daou describes this as well as anyone.
Why are we talking about what message to bring to the American public when the primary mechanism for delivering our message is so utterly hellbent on not delivering that message? Even if we did develop an incredibly strong message and excellent policy proposals, and even if the established news media for some reason did not filter them out, would the nine weeks from Labor Day until Election Day be long enough for it to sink in to the American electorate? I am doubtful.
Let's get more basic than all of that. When voters agree on who controls the House, whoever they think controls the House takes a beating at the polls. Let's run with that fact ...

posted by amberglow at 12:46 PM on February 11, 2006


Because they're so worried that their convictions will get them called "shrill". Oh the horror.

look, Clinton's death penalty position in '92 was: he let the Arkansas executioner kill a brain-damaged black man.

appalling? yes, if you're a liberal.
shrill? not really -- he then got elected twice. unlike, say, Dukakis, or Kerry.


and at least put Bader Ginsburg and Breyer on the Supreme Court, giving American women a few more years of legal abortion. mr Alito and mr Roberts will take care of that, soon
posted by matteo at 12:50 PM on February 11, 2006


shrill? not really -- he then got elected twice. unlike, say, Dukakis, or Kerry.

The premise is flawed, matteo. Clinton won in 1992 because Perot split the right's vote, pulling some 18% from Bush. Perot pulled another 8% or so from Dole, and that plus incumbency pushed Clinton over the top in 1996.

The conventional wisdom is wrong, and we can see it's fruits in every election post Clinton. See where triangulation has gotten the Dems without someone splitting the right's votes?

If Perot sat out, the conventional wisdom would be that triangulation was a failed strategy. And they'd have been right.
posted by edverb at 12:59 PM on February 11, 2006


Yeah, Clinton's choice to sign that death warrant was, in retrospect, appalling, but I voted for the man, twice and I'd do it again, and FWIW, I voted for Kerry, too.

I don't think that the Democrats should swerve their policies to the right one iota (although I do think they should pay closer attention to domestic economic issues like downsizing and outsourcing, simply because the right is beating them to it and forcing them into a defensive position). What they need to do is ignore cultural issues to avoid being cast as elitists and rediscover their populist side. And the left's populism goes way deeper than the right's (witness Bush's lip service toward military sacrifice vs. the way he treated war heroes like Kerry & McCain).

What we need to do is to investigate what drives drove fundamentally decent people (and yes, I do believe that Americans are fundamentally decent, deep down) into the arms of the right and see how we can turn those drives in better directions, and I don't mean simplistic answers like race and religion. That's part of the puzzle, but not the whole thing. I'm sure many of you will disagree, but that's how I see it. And I'm not even neccessarily talking about the right, but that huge mass of people so disaffected that they don't even bother participating anymore.
posted by jonmc at 2:29 PM on February 11, 2006


Are you denying that these people exist? I'm just mentioning some of the places where I have encountered them.

You specifically claimed that these anarcho-socialists and shrill liberals on college campuses get "all the attention." I pointed out that the most prominent blogs-- heck, the most prominent liberal blogs-- contain none of these "anarcho-socialists" (where is all this attention coming from?). I could point to a prominent anarcho-socialist professor, or two, but having spent all of high school watching CNN, reading several news magazines per week, and being a regular reader of magazines like "The New Republic" and "Foreign Affairs," I never even heard of Noam Chomsky until I came to college. I still never see the guy on television. If these people are "getting all the attention," maybe you should ask yourself who is claiming that they're getting the attention.
posted by deanc at 2:30 PM on February 11, 2006


The word "shrill" has almost become a right-wing talking point all its own. Originally used to describe opinions looney opinions, it's increasingly being used to describe attitudes that are not-at-all crazy, but some people would greatly like to appear so. Like nationalized healthcare.

Considering nationized healthcare is available just about everywhere in the world EXCEPT the U.S., I fail to see how it's "shrill" to suggest it. Especially since it'd mean I'd actually be able to go to a doctor once in a while....
posted by JHarris at 3:52 PM on February 11, 2006


> I assume you've voted for Bill Clinton -- twice. otherwise you're just lying.

I voted for Nader. Twice. Had to write him in in 1992 but he was the the formal nominee of the Green Party in 1996. You have to remember that I am both a conservative and a conservationist--a rabid tree-hugger, in point of fact. For me tree-hugging trumps pretty much everything else and I'm prepared to ignore all sorts of extraneous considerations if there's a chance, no matter how remote, of getting someone like Ralph, who is fully one half as rabid a tree hugger as I.


> if you actually think the nice Southern GOP primary voters are so eager to see a
> Uppity Negro woman in the aptly named White House, let's see some money.

OK, I'm dumb enough to take that bait. I understand we're betting not on Condi's being elected President but on her ability to get the Republican nomination in spite of being Black and female. Was that your understanding also? $50 is all I can afford to risk on Condi--as you suggest, it's more hope talking than actual expectation. I propose we freeze the exchange rate where it is now, i.e. I bet fifty bucks and pay off in dollars if I lose; you bet €41.9. (I am concerned enough about the state of the US current account so that I think an Argentine-style inflation is not likely but...possible. And I'd rather not end up owing you €41.9 = $5000000000.) All this is of course predicated on Condi's deciding to run, which isn't a given. I was ready to vote for Colin Powell when he was still chairman of the Joint Chiefs. But he didn't run, whether because he thought he couldn't win or, as I prefer to think, because he wouldn't wade down the sewer you have to wade down to become President. Condi may not run either.

For what it's worth, I really believe W wants her to run and win, so as to beat the Dems to the first Black female President. What a coup! I'm sure it's part of the "my legacy" thing, though cynics will say it's for the same reason big corporations like to hire Caucasian-featured Black women (they help with two affirmative action quotas at once without breaking bone-structure continuity.) But if he really wants to see her in the Oval Office, and if, as such an inchoate mob around here appears to believe, he and Rove are going to call off the next election (or even if they merely did manage to steal Ohio last year) why then just jiggering a few little old Republican primaries down here in the ignorant South should be no trouble at all. Consider that, and fear.

I'll send mail to the address in your profile to confirm.


> Considering nationized healthcare is available just about everywhere in the
> world EXCEPT the U.S., I fail to see how it's "shrill" to suggest it.

Here's another rash prediction: 1. you'll see single-payer health insurance in the US fairly soon (= within the next several years); 2. It will come from the Republicans, who will be able to do it where the Democrats can't for the same reason Nixon was able to go to China without being called a commie; and 3. it will come because the Repubs' mega-corporate buddies are deciding right now this very minute, even as I speak that they're scared to death of their health care obligations to their employees and they want to offload these onto the taxpayer.

Will you take nationalized healthcare on those terms? Big business gets yet another windfall, and the Republicans get the credit? Start thinking about it, because those are almost certainly the terms you're going to be offered.
posted by jfuller at 4:35 PM on February 11, 2006


Shrillness... mad unholy shrillness.... And the Occult and Hermetic Order of the Shrill grows.
posted by vetiver at 4:42 PM on February 11, 2006


deanc - Ok, I see where you're going with this.

The people on the far left get all the attention for two reasons - 1) because they are a VERY vocal minority, and 2) because the right-wingers love to point at them and say, "This is what those eeevil liberals think."

I'm not saying that they need to stop being so vocal (although it wouldn't bother me if they did), but the people who I believe fall into the large majority of American Democrats need to speak out a bit more. I think that most of us are in the same boat - we don't want to drastically alter the way that people live their lives, but, at the same time, we don't trust the Bush administration or their motives.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:36 PM on February 11, 2006


Afroblanco-- yes, I did decide to go in that direction as an aside but, seriously-- my points was that on the blogs, the big name, vocal liberals are actually political moderates but hardened, hardened partisans when it comes to the Democratic party. I couldn't name a single prominent "anarcho-socialist" blogger, and I don't think that you could, either... the "anarcho-socialist" faction isn't much seen in the media, as far as i can tell, but Rush Limbaugh has been invited as a guest pundit on television several times.
posted by deanc at 11:47 PM on February 11, 2006


jfuller -- fifty is neither real money (ie, it hurts when you lose) nor a symbolic amount. let's make it five, a symbolic bet, so and I will both be free to brag that you donated money to CAIR. it's a deal.
posted by matteo at 7:06 AM on February 12, 2006


so you and I will both be etc
posted by matteo at 7:07 AM on February 12, 2006


Will you take nationalized healthcare on those terms? Big business gets yet another windfall, and the Republicans get the credit? Start thinking about it, because those are almost certainly the terms you're going to be offered.

That's a very interesting thought.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:50 AM on February 12, 2006


more about us: ...Looking at the data from 1992 to 2004, Shellenberger and Nordhaus found a country whose citizens are increasingly authoritarian while at the same time feeling evermore adrift, isolated, and nihilistic. They found a society at once more libertine and more puritanical than in the past, a society where solidarity among citizens was deteriorating, and, most worrisomely to them, a progressive clock that seemed to be unwinding backward on broad questions of social equity. ...
posted by amberglow at 3:36 PM on February 12, 2006


Lévy is your typical French clown, and his thoughts are prisoners of his own sweeping and brooding prose style.
posted by ori at 3:51 PM on February 13, 2006


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