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If you're serious, now's exactly the time that people have to step up.
September 28, 2010 1:11 PM   Subscribe

Obama in Command: The Rolling Stone Interview In an Oval Office interview, the president discusses the Tea Party, the war, the economy and what’s at stake this November.
posted by joedan (255 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Skip straight to page 7 and read that, if you want the best part.
posted by beagle at 1:21 PM on September 28, 2010


"Here's what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you'd expect he would be. He wouldn't come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practicing before the set in the evening. He didn't want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show, but he didn't show up to that. He came in and played "The Times They Are A-Changin'." A beautiful rendition. The guy is so steeped in this stuff that he can just come up with some new arrangement, and the song sounds completely different. Finishes the song, steps off the stage — I'm sitting right in the front row — comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves. And that was it — then he left. That was our only interaction with him. And I thought: That's how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don't want him to be all cheesin' and grinnin' with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise. So that was a real treat."
posted by reductiondesign at 1:22 PM on September 28, 2010 [53 favorites]


What do you think of Fox News? Do you think it's a good institution for America and for democracy?

[Laughs]
posted by Rhaomi at 1:24 PM on September 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show

This will be blown out of proportion by right wing blogs. No doubt about it. "The Chosen One" etc...
posted by josher71 at 1:29 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


How cool is Bob Dylan? Of course, the man who wrote the lines "Even the President of the United States must stand naked" and "You may be the President of the United States ... but you gotta serve somebody," wouldn't grin and seek Obama's approval, would he? And that performance of "Times They are a Changing" at the White House is awesome.
posted by Faze at 1:30 PM on September 28, 2010


Some interesting reactions over at Talking Points Memo.
posted by twsf at 1:33 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Skip straight to page 7 and read that, if you want the best part.

Indeed.

[Signaled by his aides, the president brings the interview to a close and leaves the Oval Office. A moment later, however, he returns to the office and says that he has one more thing to add. He speaks with intensity and passion, repeatedly stabbing the air with his finger.]

One closing remark that I want to make: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we've got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.


As Firedoglake comments:

Let me set the scene here: the President just completed a long interview with Jann Wenner. He left the room. Then a minute later, concerned that the hippie may be left standing, he comes back in the room to deliver the knockout punch.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:35 PM on September 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


Two years ago we were just thankful for having a President that could string a few thoughts together in a coherent fashion. Now we're disheartened, each in our own little snowflake ways.
posted by Danf at 1:36 PM on September 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


Can't... must.... resist.... siren's... song....
(reads 2 pages)
YES WE CAN!
AGH!
posted by cavalier at 1:42 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd agree that not contributing or voting will elect brownshirts who'll put corporations in control, keep healthcare unaffordable, continue wrecking the economy, etc. Yet, there is no reason this administration should bend over backwards for the police and intelligence community. Isn't Obama their boss?

I'm afraid “They can promise strong encryption. They just need to figure out how they can provide us plain text” is just going too far. I'd rather let evil laws get passed by people who history will remember as evil.. and with whom the Europeans are less likely to cooperate. Good bye, I've got fiddle lessons.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:44 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the first comment twsf's link to TPM:
I saw your quote of the President wagging his finger at those who might not vote and have to point out that the President is committing (once again) a huge tactical error. Temper, temper Mr. Cool is all I can say. Methinks Obama doth protest too much and seeks a scapegoat for his own failure of vision and leadership.
There's not voting the party line, and then there's not voting at all. Yes, that quote was Obama saying you can't stay home and still complain, and that is the problem. You can't stand on the sidelines and say "neither party is saying what I want to be said" so you stay home, and then complain louder that the worse of the two got elected. To me, voting for the less bad candidate is opting for the lesser of three evils. Not voting, Worst Candidate, or Not Worst Candidate (assuming only two parties).

If you're holding out for the best of all options, there's a chance you'll end up with the worst available.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:46 PM on September 28, 2010 [23 favorites]


I'm not a Democrat and never have been, but repeat this for emphasis:

It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election.


I'm daily astounded that the President has to say this. Can anyone really say there is no difference between the Tea Party candidates and the Democrats who are facing the loss of their majority in both houses?
posted by bearwife at 1:47 PM on September 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'm afraid he lost my vote withe the truffle-oil fries.
posted by hermitosis at 1:48 PM on September 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


There really isn't a meter that can measure how little I care about how FDL thinks about the president at this point. And he's right, if you don't support the Democrats, you're supporting the Republicans and they are nuts and will drive this country off a cliff.
posted by octothorpe at 1:50 PM on September 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


Some interesting reactions over at Talking Points Memo.

It's getting to the point where I wish some of the progressives would just go form their own damn party. The Tea Party may be a joke, but at least they had the guts to say "We want X and if we're not going to get it with this party, we're going to go make our own!"

If you're not happy with the Democratic party, then leave. You got options. Just quit with the incessant complaining, please.
posted by nomadicink at 1:51 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey look, people. If it weren't for the socialist "professional left" hippies and their incessant whining, this administration could have worked together with its loyal American brothers and sisters in the noble Republican Party to ensure that Americans were fully protected from the looming threat of gay marriage and gay soldiers, reversed the shameful absence of strong law enforcement back doors in our cryptography, kept American telecommunications corporations free of harmful government net neutrality interference, and kept America safe from the evildoers in Guantanamo forever. We gave you a mandate to buy ruinously overpriced private health insurance. What more do you assholes want?

Remember to vote!
posted by rusty at 1:51 PM on September 28, 2010 [21 favorites]


i recommend voting on the streets

with rocks
posted by Shit Parade at 1:52 PM on September 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


Oh man now I feel totally bad about being disappointed in the toothless, wimpy-assed health care "reform", the toothless, wimpy-assed Wall Street "reform", the non-closing of Guantanamo, the acceleration of combat in Afghanistan, the "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq, the continuing rendition of CIA suspects, the continued citizen wiretapping, and the desire to kill a US citizen without trial and demand that no one ask why. I guess I need to let all that just be bygones or else someone with a Right-wing, non-progressive agenda is going to take over.
posted by Legomancer at 1:52 PM on September 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


If you're not happy with the Democratic party, then leave.

That's perfectly fair. The whining is about the administration's message, which is not that. It's "if you're not happy with the Democratic Party, shut up and vote for us anyway. What are you gonna do, vote for a teabagger?"

Which is perfectly true, and it's what I'll probably end up doing. But it doesn't mean I don't think it's a loathsome and idiotic message, which will do more long-term harm than good.
posted by rusty at 1:55 PM on September 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


WE'LL GET THIS ONE RESOLVED THIS TIME FOR SURE, BOYS
posted by shakespeherian at 1:55 PM on September 28, 2010 [21 favorites]


I guess I need to let all that just be bygones or else someone with a Right-wing, non-progressive agenda is going to take over.

Yup.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 1:56 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't worry guys, several MeFites have assured me they aren't going to vote for the lesser evil. Those non-votes will quickly galvanize Democratic leaders and we will soon have the Democrats we all deserve.
posted by callmejay at 1:56 PM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


filthy light thief: "If you're holding out for the best of all options, there's a chance you'll end up with the worst available."

Or as he said in the article:
What is true, and this is part of what can frustrate folks, is that over the past 20 months, we made a series of decisions that were focused on governance, and sometimes there was a conflict between governance and politics. So there were some areas where we could have picked a fight with Republicans that might have gotten our base feeling good, but would have resulted in us not getting legislation done.

I could have had a knock-down, drag-out fight on the public option that might have energized you and The Huffington Post, and we would not have health care legislation now. I could have taken certain positions on aspects of the financial regulatory bill, where we got 90 percent of what we set out to get, and I could have held out for that last 10 percent, and we wouldn't have a bill. You've got to make a set of decisions in terms of "What are we trying to do here? Are we trying to just keep everybody ginned up for the next election, or at some point do you try to win elections because you're actually trying to govern?"
And it's not even like nothing has been accomplished:
Some of it, also, has to do with — and I joke about it — that there's a turn of mind among Democrats and progressives where a lot of times we see the glass as half-empty. It's like, "Well, gosh, we've got this historic health care legislation that we've been trying to get for 100 years, but it didn't have every bell and whistle that we wanted right now, so let's focus on what we didn't get instead of what we got." That self-critical element of the progressive mind is probably a healthy thing, but it can also be debilitating.

When I talk to Democrats around the country, I tell them, "Guys, wake up here. We have accomplished an incredible amount in the most adverse circumstances imaginable." I came in and had to prevent a Great Depression, restore the financial system so that it functions, and manage two wars. In the midst of all that, I ended one of those wars, at least in terms of combat operations. We passed historic health care legislation, historic financial regulatory reform and a huge number of legislative victories that people don't even notice. We wrestled away billions of dollars of profit that were going to the banks and middlemen through the student-loan program, and now we have tens of billions of dollars that are going directly to students to help them pay for college. We expanded national service more than we ever have before.

The Recovery Act alone represented the largest investment in research and development in our history, the largest investment in infrastructure since Dwight Eisenhower, the largest investment in education — and that was combined, by the way, with the kind of education reform that we hadn't seen in this country in 30 years — and the largest investment in clean energy in our history.

You look at all this, and you say, "Folks, that's what you elected me to do." I keep in my pocket a checklist of the promises I made during the campaign, and here I am, halfway through my first term, and we've probably accomplished 70 percent of the things that we said we were going to do — and by the way, I've got two years left to finish the rest of the list, at minimum. So I think that it is very important for Democrats to take pride in what we've accomplished.
See also the "Obameter" published by the Pulitzer-winning factchecker PolitiFact.com, which rates the administration's progress on 506 recorded campaign pledges at:

24.1% kept
7.7% compromised
4.3% broken
16.2% stalled
47.0% in the works
0.6% unrated
posted by Rhaomi at 1:56 PM on September 28, 2010 [47 favorites]


I guess I need to let all that just be bygones or else someone with a Right-wing, non-progressive agenda is going to take over.

No, don't let it be bygones. I fully support your effort to organize for greater heather care benefits, stronger financial reform, and all the rest.

As a matter of fact, I would love to get involved with whatever you're doing, maybe work locally in Philly on those issues.

So what are you doing?
posted by angrycat at 1:59 PM on September 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


Rhaomi, do you know if PolitiFact is still being updated? If so, it's ludicrous to characterize long-dead legislative initiatives like "Sign the Employee Free Choice Act" as "in the works."
posted by enn at 2:00 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The time to vote against misbehaving Dems is in the primaries.
posted by callmejay at 2:01 PM on September 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


So what are you doing?

Well shit, I'm sorry folks. I didn't realize that it was my job to keep Obama's promises.
posted by Legomancer at 2:02 PM on September 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


If you're not happy with the Democratic party, then leave.

Guess what? After having been a registered Democrat for all the 25 years of my voting life, I did exactly that. Right after Obama signed a health insurance "reform" so wonderful that the only Democratic candidates willing to mention it are those that voted against it.

But who knows? Maybe if the administration insults me enough I'll come back.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:03 PM on September 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well shit, I'm sorry folks. I didn't realize that it was my job to keep Obama's promises.

It isn't. It is, however, your job not to grossly distort simple questions that are posed to you.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:04 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


enn: If you look at "Promises we've rated recently", several of them are from the past few weeks. Maybe they're understaffed?
posted by KGMoney at 2:07 PM on September 28, 2010


It is, however, your job not to grossly distort simple questions that are posed to you.

Grossly distorting simple questions is the President's job.

"...historic health care legislation that we've been trying to get for 100 years!" Lol.
posted by rusty at 2:08 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Excellent. Now when the ineffectual Democratic assholes -- the ones who squandered the majority they had, and wouldn't know the definition of bi-partisan compromise -- if those guys lose in November, they'll have someone to blame. Us, because we didn't "buck up" and vote for them to go back and do it all over again.
posted by crunchland at 2:11 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Grossly distorting simple questions is the President's job.

Are you arguing with me? The only position I've presented is that people should try to respond in good faith rather than try to score cheap political points and garner favorites for zingers. Then you responded by doing exactly that. Why did you do that?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:12 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Tea Party may be a joke, but at least they had the guts to say "We want X and if we're not going to get it with this party, we're going to go make our own!"

That's not what the Tea Party says, though. The Tea Party is not actually a political party; it's just a wing of the Republican Party. So-called 'Tea Party candidates' are just Republicans, either challengers in Republican primaries or Tea Party-endorsed incumbents in general elections.

The Democratic answer to the Tea Party would be to start running primary challenges from the left in more-or-less safe Democratic seats. The problem is that, supposing you could elect a few more Bernie Sanders or Russ Feingolds, it wouldn't do anything to affect the overall numbers in Congress, nor would it affect things at the margins. Most progressive bills that fail do so either because of Republican stonewalling or because a few of the most conservative Democrats break ranks. A 'Democratic Tea Party' wouldn't change either of those factors.

Far more beneficial would be smashing up gerrymandered districts and ending the filibuster. But that would require Republican cooperation and we're back to square one.
posted by jedicus at 2:14 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Rhaomi, do you know if PolitiFact is still being updated? If so, it's ludicrous to characterize long-dead legislative initiatives like "Sign the Employee Free Choice Act" as "in the works."

Exactly. A more accurate measure of his successes is a laundry list of cherry-picked items of his failures, which has been provided a couple times above.

You see, I'm one of those people who would rather vote my conscience, support the Green Party candidate, and when the Republicans take over and really flush this country down the toiled, shake my head and say, "Well, at least I didn't sell myself short and vote for the lesser of two evils."
posted by mreleganza at 2:15 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is Jann Wenner really a hippie?
posted by blucevalo at 2:16 PM on September 28, 2010


(Don't know if there are any Freudian underpinnings responsible for making toilet "toiled")
posted by mreleganza at 2:16 PM on September 28, 2010


here I am, halfway through my first term, and we've probably accomplished 70 percent of the things that we said we were going to do

and things are still a mess - and although i know that much of this has yet to take effect and there are some huge problems here, i'm a little disturbed that he can think he's 70% done, at this point in time

doing 100% of what he promised to do isn't going to be enough

at some point he's going to have to be more ambitious than that - at some point his democratic allies in congress are going to have to realize that they must do more - and, yes, at some point his opposition are going to have to realize that they must offer real ideas and real programs not just, "no, don't want any more government"

but i don't see it happening, mostly because the american people want to pretend that everything can go back to what it was (but better) and they don't want to deal with the idea that REAL change must happen if we're to pull out of this

his confidence shows through, but i'm afraid he may be too complacent
posted by pyramid termite at 2:19 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


KGMoney, maybe they are understaffed, but EFCA has been assumed dead by pretty much all knowledgeable observers for over a year now. I really can't imagine why that ridiculous thing won a Pulitzer in the first place. It's asinine, innumerate, and irresponsible of the St. Petersburg Times to pretend that promises can be compared by sheer quantity, as though one kept promise to "require new hires to sign a form affirming their hiring was not due to political affiliation or contributions" balances out one broken promise to "create a public option health plan."

mreleganza, I hope you'll link to the part where anyone posting a cherry-picked list of Obama's failures on Metafilter claims to be a dispassionate observer, as the St. Petersburg Times does, or presumes to run an institute telling journalists how they should be doing their jobs, as the St. Petersburg Times also does.
posted by enn at 2:19 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jedicus: If I understand it correctly, the filibuster is actually a Senate rule, and can be changed at the beginning of each session, if so desired, by a simple majority. The problem is that, even though Democrats realize how broken the system is, too many Senators are afraid to change things, because they will again be in the minority someday. Of course, during the Bush years, they let the Republicans get away with just about everything anyway, despite their ability to filibuster, so I'm not sure why they care.
posted by KGMoney at 2:20 PM on September 28, 2010


enn: "Rhaomi, do you know if PolitiFact is still being updated? If so, it's ludicrous to characterize long-dead legislative initiatives like "Sign the Employee Free Choice Act" as "in the works.""

It's updated every weekday, I think. Most of the focus is on the "Truth-o-meter," which scrutinizes claims from prominent public figures for factual accuracy, but they do make periodic passes of the catalogued campaign promises to re-evaluate when circumstances surrounding them change. The latest update on EFCA (posted last May) concludes: "This legislation is still percolating, and we don't know the final outcome. We rate this promise In the Works."

Ultimately it's the kind of thing that can be revived at any time in the next few years. Unless Obama definitively states it's no longer on the agenda -- or he leaves office without signing a bill -- then it can't really be ruled a broken promise.

mreleganza: "A more accurate measure of his successes is a laundry list of cherry-picked items of his failures, which has been provided a couple times above."

If you're concerned about cherry-picking, you can refer to their list of the top 25 promises, which currently stand at:

24% kept
16% compromised
4% broken
16% stalled
40% in the works
posted by Rhaomi at 2:23 PM on September 28, 2010


... comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves. And that was it — then he left.

But he did leave a card that said "oonce".
posted by Kabanos at 2:23 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Obama administration "insulting" the alleged lefty base is a good thing. Note the scare quotes, as I don't think they're actually insulting anybody. I think what's actually happening is the Obama administration is calling you on your shit.

Yes, you.

Everybody wants their own slice of special interest served, and that's precisely how we got into this bullshit in the first place. The logical conclusion of that worldview is exactly what's going on across the aisle, and what good does taking on those tactics do anyone, really?

Boo hoo. Health care reform didn't do exactly what you wanted it to do. By at least several accounts, the bill was designed in such a way to not only deliver the good instead of the perfect, but also to make it difficult to repeal. The administration didn't hop to as far as your personal feelings regarding DADT. Etc.

"Voting your conscience" while knowing that ultimately results in another 2000-2008 redo is at best irresponsible and could be fairly characterized as sacrificing the greater good for your own political/mastubatory pleasure. How noble of you.

The president has it exactly right. Only it's not just about stepping up. It's about growing up. Unless you're still in like middle school, you really have zero business worrying about selling out, cause grown ups just don't think that way.

Things could always be better. Just because you didn't get your exact way right this instant doesn't mean you take your bat and ball and go home. Even my 2 1/2 year old doesn't behave that way.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 2:31 PM on September 28, 2010 [52 favorites]


Well shit, I'm sorry folks. I didn't realize that it was my job to keep Obama's promises.

Not at all.
But I would argue that it is your job, as a responsible citizen with your beliefs, to do more than vent on the internet.
posted by angrycat at 2:31 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hey look, people. If it weren't for the socialist "professional left" hippies and their incessant whining, this administration could have worked together with its loyal American brothers and sisters in the noble Republican Party to ensure that Americans were fully protected from the looming threat of gay marriage and gay soldiers, reversed the shameful absence of strong law enforcement back doors in our cryptography, kept American telecommunications corporations free of harmful government net neutrality interference, and kept America safe from the evildoers in Guantanamo forever. We gave you a mandate to buy ruinously overpriced private health insurance. What more do you assholes want?

Absolutely ridiculous. Without basis. You spend the entire time giving cover to right-wingers who will not vote for the health-care because it is socialist by screaming about a tiny sliver program called the public option, then claim responsbility for the hard work that the President and the Congress had to do to get things passed.

You've done nothing to prevent Obama from working "with its loyal American brothers and sisters in the noble Republican Party." You've enabled the Republicans at every turn by not supporting the President at a time when the country is nearly evenly divided.

Instead, you mistook the evenly divided country for 1932. Obama won 52.9% to 45.7%. FDR won 57.4% to 39.7% and won every state but Pennsylvania, Delaware, Conn., N.H., VT and Maine. There were many fewer divisions, the country was squarely democratic. FDR swept in 97 more Democrats to make a 318-117 majority, some 71% of the seats.

Obama brought in only 21 more Dems, for a 257-178 majority, for a 53%-46% advantage. There's just no comparison.

But the so-called "Progressives" expected that somehow, Obama was going to be able to magically ram through their preferred agenda, an agenda he never promised.

There are consequences for not supporting the President when it is close. Remember 2000? 600 Nader voters cost 1,033,000 Iraqis their lives.

Get. Fucking. Real.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:31 PM on September 28, 2010 [37 favorites]


Ah ha ha. Nothing like bitching from the backseat of the car.

Daaad why didn't we get the bluuuue country? Johnny has the blue country, with a single payer health car plan and everythiiiing!!

Now Jimmie, you know times are tough and buying a new country takes time, but daddy's getting there and-

Daaaaad I told you! Johnny said that HIS dad just nationalized their banks! That's eaaaasy!

Yes Jimmie but that's a very serious decision and -

Daaad! You're sooo square!

Well Jimmie sometimes-

Daaad why is it taking soo long? I want a new country NOW

SO HELP ME GOD I WILL TURN THIS SENATE AROUND RIGHT NOW I SWEAR
posted by concreteforest at 2:33 PM on September 28, 2010 [38 favorites]


shakespeherian: Yeah, that's exactly what I was doing. It's a way of blowing off steam, because this campaign strategy makes me so incredibly fucking furious. I didn't mean it as any sort of jab at you, at all.
posted by rusty at 2:34 PM on September 28, 2010


Just clarifying, I'm quite respectful that passing healthcare reform was a tricky political game. I'm not second guessing whether Obama played optimally. I'm also not criticizing them for not ending the obviously stupid war of drugs, sure let's be realistic.

I am criticizing the administrations assertion that they are going to pull this bullshit with mandating backdoors in cryptography again. It's all cool if you try for good and fail, or try and only partially succeed, but it's not cool when you commit to evil by choice.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:36 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Obama in Command" seems a rather odd title for this interview. Is it an allusion to the two public and several proxy wars that the Peace Laureate is currently running? Or is it just Mr. Wenner's genuflection before the power of man who can order him executed without trial?

Score the murder of Anwar al-Awlaki as "in the works".
posted by Joe Beese at 2:37 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've been here two years, guys.

And you know, I put my pants on just like the rest of you. One leg at a time. Only, after I put my pants on, I

prevent a Great Depression, restore the financial system so that it functions, ... manage two wars... [end] one of those wars... [pass] historic health care legislation, historic financial regulatory reform and a huge number of legislative victories that people don't even notice... [provide] the largest investment in research and development in our history, the largest investment in infrastructure since Dwight Eisenhower, the largest investment in education ... and the largest investment in clean energy in our history.
posted by molecicco at 2:37 PM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Is it an allusion to the two public and several proxy wars that the Peace Laureate is currently running? Or is it just Mr. Wenner's genuflection before the power of man who can order him executed without trial?

STOP
posted by shakespeherian at 2:39 PM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


If you're concerned about cherry-picking, you can refer to their list of the top 25 promises, which currently stand at:

24% kept
16% compromised
4% broken
16% stalled
40% in the works


The 4%? That's one promise.

President Obama has been President of the United States for exactly 614 days. If he serves two terms, he will have served 2920 days. He's got a long way to go. The "standards" he's been held to are failing to do many things he's never promised to do, or *gasp* compromising with others to do a significant portion of what he promised.

Throwing pearls at swine.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:39 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What depresses me more than I can really bear is this:

The past two years along with the first two years of the Clinton administration are likely as good as things can ever possibly get with the Democrats.

I hate how much more the Republicans are willing to fight for their beliefs than we are. We could have been just as obstructive during Bush and I hope we will be. We're losing the prisoner's dilemma trying to play fair.
posted by keratacon at 2:41 PM on September 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


"Obama in Command" seems a rather odd title for this interview. Is it an allusion to the two public and several proxy wars that the Peace Laureate is currently running? Or is it just Mr. Wenner's genuflection before the power of man who can order him executed without trial?

Score the murder of Anwar al-Awlaki as "in the works".


Complete with obligatory link to Glenn Greenwald. I guess the Firedoglake links got covered above.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:41 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What depresses me more than I can really bear is this:

The past two years along with the first two years of the Clinton administration are likely as good as things can ever possibly get with the Democrats.

I hate how much more the Republicans are willing to fight for their beliefs than we are. We could have been just as obstructive during Bush and I hope we will be. We're losing the prisoner's dilemma trying to play fair.


Our beliefs are fighting fair.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:42 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What depresses me is that people seem to think the governor of NJ is a presidential candidate in the wings.
posted by josher71 at 2:45 PM on September 28, 2010


The newsstand version of this piece is slightly different--it's got the word "Advertisement" in small print at the top margin of each page.
posted by jeremy b at 2:51 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


So NoRelationToLea and IronMouth have done a pretty good job of demonstrating the basic strategy. Call the left babies and whiners, tell them they got something instead of nothing, and threaten that it'll be all their fault if we slide back into the right-wing pits of hell.

Fine and dandy. The thing is, we're all going to vote for Democrats anyway. I mean, we're the base. It's not like there's a great big popular but doomed socialist movement out there I can throw my lot in with. There ain't no Nader, and we all hate the Tea Party just as much as you cool-headed grownups on the left side of the right wing do.

I am angry at this strategy not because it's insulting, but because it's boneheaded. It won't change any of our votes, all it does is sap our will to volunteer and give money. I mean, for Christ's sake, how hard would it be to take a page from the Big Dog and feel our pain a little? To, like, maybe admit that healthcare reform is not a historic sweeping victory for the ages so much as it is a few insurance reforms that mean insurers can't rape us quite as badly as they have been recently? They're good reforms, they really are. I'm glad we have them. But the health insurance mess here: not fixed. If you say it is, you're a liar. Obama and his proxies appear to be saying it is.

I actually heard Bill Clinton explain how the stimulus bill has worked the other night, going into the details of what the money went to, how much was actually directed to projects, and how well it has worked. And how it was never going to be big enough to dig us out of the massive hole we're in. It made a lot of sense. I felt like someone was actually trying to explain what has been done and what remains to be done. It was noteworthy that he didn't take the opportunity to punch a hippie while he was doing it. I was sort of surprised when my now-instinctive flinch was not needed.

My point is not that I didn't get everything I wanted so waaaaaaah I'm going home. My point is that I, here on the professional left, am not who you need to be abusing in your official campaign rhetoric. I'm the person you need to be giving your candidates money and making phone calls for them. I'm the person you need to have talking to their friends and neighbors about how important it is to get out and vote in November. So why is the strategy just to blame me before any votes are even cast?

What is that strategy getting us?

If anyone can explain to me why this messaging will work, I'll be glad to be the punching bag.
posted by rusty at 2:53 PM on September 28, 2010 [17 favorites]


"If I wasn't president," he laughed, "I could wear socks like that."

Wow, imagine Bill Clinton saying that.
posted by chavenet at 2:58 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now when the ineffectual Democratic assholes -- the ones who squandered the majority they had...

There never was a majority, not in any reason. The 60 votes to break a filibuster was composed of 2 independents, one of them Joe Liberman, and several conservative Democrats.

Democrats, despite their many problems are not the issue. It's the Republicans and their complete lock step approach to preventing anything getting down. The solution is to get more Democrats in office, so that people like Joe Liberman become minor gnats as opposed to major roadblocks that need to be appeased.

This is my biggest beef with Obama, his steadfast desire to try to get something done and compromise to do as opposed to occasionally smacking the Republican Party around. Because if anything needs to thrown in a bathtub and drowned, it's the party that is refusing to do any sort of compromising and insisting on its way or nothing.
posted by nomadicink at 2:59 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The thing is, we're all going to vote for Democrats anyway. I mean, we're the base. It's not like there's a great big popular but doomed socialist movement out there I can throw my lot in with. There ain't no Nader, and we all hate the Tea Party just as much as you cool-headed grownups on the left side of the right wing do.

Then why are the likely voter screens showing many fewer dems voting? Who is it if it isn't "disaffected" progressives? Because I'm seeing no one else leading the "hate Obama" parade.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:59 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing is, we're all going to vote for Democrats anyway. I mean, we're the base. It's not like there's a great big popular but doomed socialist movement out there I can throw my lot in with. There ain't no Nader, and we all hate the Tea Party just as much as you cool-headed grownups on the left side of the right wing do.

Also, how can a bunch of people spending a huge amount of their time telling us that Obama is a "liar" be the Democratic "base?" Seriously, he got us the first national health care plan. FDR, Truman, Kennedy, LBJ and Clinton tried and failed. But Obama "failed" because he didn't get the public option?
posted by Ironmouth at 3:03 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't get how the defeatist view expects to end up. So you say you won't truck with the Dems because, say, the healthcare bill was "toothless." Let's set aside the question of what non-"toothless" legislation could have survived a GOP filibuster (requiring the support of Sen. Lieberman, who explicitly opposed the public option) and consider what happens next.

By abandoning the Dems, and encouraging everyone around you to do likewise, you abdicate the discourse to the right. The people who worked to deliver you healthcare reform -- the reform that today covers hundreds of thousands or millions of people who would not have it otherwise, and will cover millions more -- will be left without political cover. They will be swept away by the vocal/active/energized minority of the teabagger crowd that opposed the very concept of reform, and any survivors will tack to the right to compensate. The existing law is repealed or defunded, what was accomplished is undone, and we're back to square one in terms of rescission, pre-existing conditions, deficit growth, etc. The legacy of the reform effort is yet another political gravestone warning never to attempt it. And of course, the new GOP/Tea Party majority goes on to gum up the rest of the government with spending freezes and tax cuts and endless frivolous investigations until the same defeatist petulance leaves us with President Romney or Gingrich or Palin in 2012.

Why take the negative view? When confronted with not enough, you don't slap it down -- you take it and then demand more. You celebrate and shout from the rooftops what you did get, fight to protect the political majorities that delivered you those gains (while pushing against those who actively stood in the way*), and once that challenge is over, pressure those majorities to finish the job. The bill Obama signed was not the end-all be-all of healthcare reform. There is no reason the public option couldn't be added next session. We've got a foothold for the first time in decades -- step forward, don't jump back into the abyss we just crawled out of!

* that would be the Republicans who voted unanimously against reform, not the Democrats who didn't craft said reform ideally enough
posted by Rhaomi at 3:05 PM on September 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


I suppose it is a matter of degrees of how bad something can be before it isn't worth supporting at all. If progressives want their agenda fulfilled one possibility is to vote very far right. Find tea party extremist candidates and put them into office. Be vocal, loud, and angry at protests and gatherings. Intimidate moderates of all stripes and infuriate fringe groups from every corner. Search for the most idiotic and disastrous economic and foreign policies possible and push hard for their enactment.

Basically, in short, try to make this country as unlivable for as many people as possible and continue straining the system until it irrevocably breaks. Afterwards, after the military drafts, the civil riots, the political assassinations, the food and water shortages, and general anarchy, including a possible 3rd world war, I give the reformation of a progressive agenda a 50/50 chance.
posted by Shit Parade at 3:06 PM on September 28, 2010


But Obama "failed" because he didn't get the public option?

Is there a Joe Beese in the house?!
posted by nomadicink at 3:06 PM on September 28, 2010


There is.

"So I came to my Christian faith later in life," Obama said. "And it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead - being my brothers' and sisters' keeper, treating others as they would treat me."

He said he also reached an "understanding that . . . Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we're sinful and we're flawed and we make mistakes, and that, you know, we achieve salvation through the grace of God."

He continued: "But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people and do our best to help them find . . . their own grace. And so that's what I strive to do. That's what I pray to do every day. I think my public service is part of that effort to express my Christian faith."

posted by Joe Beese at 3:09 PM on September 28, 2010


doing 100% of what he promised to do isn't going to be enough

Its never going to be enough for some people.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:10 PM on September 28, 2010


Things could always be better. Just because you didn't get your exact way right this instant doesn't mean you take your bat and ball and go home. Even my 2 1/2 year old doesn't behave that way.

Yes, call people who agree with your general political outlook children because we pointed out promises were broken! That will surely get us to agree with you and shame us into voting Democratic! Such a smart, well-thought-out strategy!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:11 PM on September 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


There's not voting the party line, and then there's not voting at all. Yes, that quote was Obama saying you can't stay home and still complain, and that is the problem.
What are you talking about? In November you can vote for the republicans, the democrats, or neither (by not voting). The third option is a reasonable option if you're unhappy with the democrats if you don't actually want to vote for a republican.

The appropriate place to register your discontent is during the primaries, but if you're candidate wins why should you vote for someone you don't support?

I find this attitude incredibly obnoxious. "We fucked up. Now you have to continue supporting us or it's you're fault we fucked up. Oh, and if you do support us and we fuck up even more? Well, there's nothing you can do about it!"
If you're holding out for the best of all options, there's a chance you'll end up with the worst available.
What we have now is pretty bad, frankly. I don't know, maybe the democrats have done focus groups and it turns out that this is a good tactic, but it doesn't seem very responsible to complain about the people who's support you need.
I'm daily astounded that the President has to say this. Can anyone really say there is no difference between the Tea Party candidates and the Democrats who are facing the loss of their majority in both houses?
No one is saying that. The problem is that while the democrats may be better, the difference isn't great enough to matter. What have they done with those majorities? Pass a law requiring everyone to buy health insurance? By 2014? In other areas things have actually gotten worse. The economy is a lot worse and frankly Obama's economic team doesn't seem to know what they're doing. Civil Liberties are a mess.

---

The democrats have nothing positive to offer, so all they have is fear of the teabaggers. But I think it's a bit of a stretch to think that there is something special about this batch of republicans, the fact is that so far they have been just as ineffective for their "base", and anyway democrats will still have the whitehouse, So the republicans won't be able to pass anything without Obama's signature. And clearly Obama won't be able to blame anyone but himself for that.

Anyway, I like I said. I find this "our failure is your fault, because you don't support us in failing!" argument obnoxious. Maybe it really does work, but I find it pretty insulting.

---

Really, people should sign up for the democratic party and just vote against every incumbent running. Don't do research, just vote against the incumbant. Only by getting rid of all the rot in the party do we have a chance at a decent government in our country.
Feingolds, it wouldn't do anything to affect the overall numbers in Congress, nor would it affect things at the margins. Most progressive bills that fail do so either because of Republican stonewalling or because a few of the most conservative Democrats break ranks. A 'Democratic Tea Party' wouldn't change either of those factors.
Actually progressives were nearly able to unseat Blanche Lincoln in AK, who's one of the more conservative democrats. She's one of the senate Dems who opposed extending the bush tax cuts for the middle class without an extension for the rich
Remember 2000? 600 Nader voters cost 1,033,000 Iraqis their lives.
Idiotic. How do you expect people to take you serious when you spout that kind of nonsense?
posted by delmoi at 3:12 PM on September 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


jedicus: If I understand it correctly, the filibuster is actually a Senate rule, and can be changed at the beginning of each session, if so desired, by a simple majority.

That's true, but it would still require at least tacit Republican support or else Republicans could turn it into a massive PR disaster for the Democrats. Do you think, for example, that Fox News is above a huge misinformation campaign designed to convince people that the filibuster is in the Constitution and that the Democrats have usurped power? Expect 'tyranny of the majority' to be the talking point of the month if that happened.
posted by jedicus at 3:14 PM on September 28, 2010


jesus. just to be clear, it's completely possible to want obama to succeed, and to be disappointed in some of his failings at the same time.

the health care reform bill and the extension of warrantless wiretapping from the bush presidency are the same guy. you don't have to be all in on this. you are allowed to say "I like this, and I don't like that."

not only that, but you're allowed to criticize the party in general for their failings. we just suffered under 8 years of the most unified engine of destruction our political system has ever seen. We hoped, and were encouraged to hope, that a lot of that damage would be undone. In some ways, we can say it has. In other ways it has been expanded or extended.

So if someone thinks HCR was a good thing, that's ok. If someone else thinks that warrantless wiretapping and the national security privilege continue to be abused, that's also ok. they're both legit viewpoints.

The point of hoping for a unified democrat party that could undo the damage done by the republicans was not so that prisoners would continue to be held without trial. As much as people may want to support the dems and see them take some real and lasting power, they don't want to see it used the same way the republicans used it.

So back off, everybody. The reason we keep collapsing when we finally have the majority isn't because that guy who disagrees with you disagrees with you. It's because suddenly that's a cardinal fucking sin that makes him a traitor to the party or whatever. chill. find a better way to work out our differences.
posted by shmegegge at 3:15 PM on September 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


Then why are the likely voter screens showing many fewer dems voting? Who is it if it isn't "disaffected" progressives? Because I'm seeing no one else leading the "hate Obama" parade.
Right, because obviously the sheep can't look around and form opinions about the world with their own two eyes. They have to be lead by someone. Sure, bob may have lost his job while reading about how WallStreet bankers are getting huge bonuses after being bailed out with his tax money.

But if it wasn't for Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald, why he never would have thought to get upset at the people in power!

This is what's so moronic about the whining by the democratic leadership. They think a few bloggers are somehow suppressing the vote. They don't understand that people are voting their circumstances, and that circumstances are bad because they fucking suck at their jobs.
posted by delmoi at 3:16 PM on September 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


nomadicink: "Some interesting reactions over at Talking Points Memo.

It's getting to the point where I wish some of the progressives would just go form their own damn party. The Tea Party may be a joke, but at least they had the guts to say "We want X and if we're not going to get it with this party, we're going to go make our own!"

If you're not happy with the Democratic party, then leave. You got options. Just quit with the incessant complaining, please.
"

Pssst, you are aware that the "Tea Party" isn't actually a separate party, right? That they're putting Republicans in office? They didn't leave, they're TRYING TO FORCE THEIR PARTY TO THEIR AGENDA.

So when we do so (by trying force the issues to the other/left end of the spectrum) you're castigating us for, basically doing what the "Tea Party" is doing (that is: wanting the politicians ostensibly on "our side" to actually do what they claim they're for -- although without as much force or emphasis or whatever the Tea Party has, and I admit shame and guilt in being complicit in not being active enough) while telling us that we should... "be like the Tea Party"???

Your logic is completely and utterly spurious on this point. If the Tea Party were actually a separate party, then your point is valid, but it's not. The only difference is that we, on the left, are continually shouted down, mocked and despised by those in the halls of power by the centrist democratic leadership, while those on the right are winning in their fight in their party.

Now, you may say that you believe that in the General Elections that this is a good strategy, because it makes the Republicans less electable, not more. But that means what Obama et al are doing is running not on their accomplishments (oh, he'll throw a nod to the "most progressive legislation in a generation, yada yada" Is that really saying much, though?) What he's got to offer is not much different than the Tea Party does: Fear of the other. In their case it's the "liberals, gays, mexicans and blacks" In our case it's "old white bitter men who are afraid of losing their grip on power and who have guns".

Now, I'm afraid, I am. But the thing is we're seeing different solutions to the problems. You are telling us to, essentially, bugger off, let the adults handle it. Let us compromise, let us have 60 Senators, refuse to set the threshold for stopping a veto back to what it used to be and then whine that we simple, gosh darnit, just don't have the votes to overturn a threat of a veto, so ... we're just sorry. You do, you just aren't making the procedural decisions necessary to actually GET the votes you claim you want.

So when we see such antics, damn right we're skeptical. Damn right we want our voice heard. And again -- we aren't. We aren't seeing a real concerted effort to listen to us, but we get pandered to out of "fear"... And then -- OK, so here we are, rehashing this theme again "What's the answer?" Do we keep trying to slow this train down by going with the "lesser of two evils"/moderate/sensible solution in order to resist a faster slide to the dangers that lie ahead? You say yes. You then say that if we have a hard time swallowing that pill, that that option seems unpalatable because while it may be "slowing" it down, it doesn't particularly feel like we're turning the ship around. Or at least, not in the direction we need to be going.

Oh, and to add to that "If we're not happy, then leave"

1) I'm not a member of the Democratic Party (Thank God I can vote in WI without having to be a member of some party)
2) If we took you up on that offer, you know what would happen? "HOW DARE you vote for Nader (or whoever the preferred left-wing candidate would be)" It's ALL YOUR FAULT for not being a Democrat.

So what is it we're supposed to do -- we push for what we think is the right thing to do within the framework, we're told to shut up and enjoy the ride, cuz while this seat is uncomfortable, the other seat has hot spikes on it. We actually LEAVE the party and vote for someone who aligns with our consciense and told we never should have left the ride.

It's called a double-bind, and that's the position you're putting us in...
posted by symbioid at 3:17 PM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


If anyone can explain to me why this messaging will work, I'll be glad to be the punching bag.

I don't read that message as being directed at you. You're not sitting on the sidelines. I think this message was directed at the people who are genuinely opting to not be involved this year at all. See also: Obama's recent statements regarding college students and voting.

To whit, Democrats who are disappointed but voting anyways aren't the focus of that comment.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:17 PM on September 28, 2010


That's true, but it would still require at least tacit Republican support or else Republicans could turn it into a massive PR disaster for the Democrats.
Well it's much more important that the democrats avoid bad PR then that the government be run effectively!

That's obviously how the democrats govern!
posted by delmoi at 3:19 PM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Actually progressives were nearly able to unseat Blanche Lincoln in AK, who's one of the more conservative democrats. She's one of the senate Dems who opposed extending the bush tax cuts for the middle class without an extension for the rich

And what would that chellenger's chances have been in the general election? Pretty terrible, I suspect. Arkansas went 59%-39% for McCain. Even with incumbent advantage and her conservative ways, Lincoln is forecast 100% to lose the Arkansas seat. FiveThirtyEight has her Republican opponent winning with a massive 25% margin.

The net result in such cases is either no change (i.e., the Democrat was going to lose anyway, so a heated primary is just wasted energy) or a progressive Democrat loses where a conservative Democrat might have clung on (i.e., the Democratic version of the Christine O'Donnell problem). Progressive primary challenges should focus on safe Democratic seats.

And even if there were no practical difference between a given conservative Democrat and his or her Republican challenger, it's still important for Democrats to maintain a majority because that gives them control of committee chairs and various procedural advantages.
posted by jedicus at 3:20 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes, call people who agree with your general political outlook children because we pointed out promises were broken! That will surely get us to agree with you and shame us into voting Democratic! Such a smart, well-thought-out strategy!

But here's the thing. You don't agree with our general political outlook at all. You want no compromise and would rather see failure without compromise, rather than the compromise that is the hallmark of our political system. You prefer to call his entire agenda a "promise" when it was anything but. He's gotten more done in 600 days on healthcare than the last 5 democratic presidents combined.

There were no promises broken. He has done so much and hasn't gotten everything done in the mere 600 days he's been president. How this can be a broken promise I don't know.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:21 PM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well it's much more important that the democrats avoid bad PR then that the government be run effectively!

That's obviously how the democrats govern!


Let me rephrase, then. How about: "If the Democrats removed the filibuster without Republican cooperation, then there's a good chance a lot of Democrats would lose reelection because it would be almost impossible to fight the inevitable negative campaigning that would follow."
posted by jedicus at 3:22 PM on September 28, 2010


delmoi: "I find this attitude incredibly obnoxious. "We fucked up. Now you have to continue supporting us or it's you're fault we fucked up. Oh, and if you do support us and we fuck up even more? Well, there's nothing you can do about it!""

I find the argument more to be "We got you some stuff, but fucked up on other stuff. Now, back us up on this and give us the support and cover we need to do more, or else we'll be replaced with people who intentionally fuck up as a matter of policy."
posted by Rhaomi at 3:22 PM on September 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


nomadicink : It's getting to the point where I wish some of the progressives would just go form their own damn party. The Tea Party may be a joke, but at least they had the guts to say "We want X and if we're not going to get it with this party, we're going to go make our own!"

I agree with you that it'd be fantastic to see the progressives branch off and form something to help move the Democratic party back to the left a bit, but it's not really completely fair to say that the Tea Party went out on their own, they've been heavily supported by the GOP and Fox news at every step of the way, in terms of money, coverage, rallies, and organization. I think it's only just now that the Republicans are realizing that what the Tea Party wants might not perfectly align with what they were expecting. But had they not backed the Tea Party from the beginning however, it wouldn't even be a blip on the radar today.

And I think this is the problem that a progressive party will face. The Dems won't see any value in throwing support at a smaller group in any meaningful way, and you'll end up with another tiny offshoot with no real voice.

Which is a crime, because we really need some seriously loud, smart voices on the left screaming this pendulum back away from the right.
posted by quin at 3:23 PM on September 28, 2010


Then why are the likely voter screens showing many fewer dems voting?

Likely voter screens are applied by pollsters. If they're guessing that fewer Dems will be voting, that's their read on the mood of the country. It's not some kind of scientific tally. I.e. it doesn't make any sense to say "well they must be counting you out!"

Most likely it's an attempt to quantify what seems like stronger than usual right-wing engagement.
posted by rusty at 3:23 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


There were no promises broken.
Gitmo is still open. And on civil liberties things are actually worse.
You want no compromise and would rather see failure without compromise
I don't see why you should be "compromising" when you've got 60 senate votes. Or why the filibuster should even be left in place.
You don't agree with our general political outlook at all.
So why on earth should I vote for your guys? If we don't agree on political outlook, then clearly not voting for democrats is the correct course of action.
posted by delmoi at 3:25 PM on September 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


jedicus beat me to it--if polls are to be believed, neither Bill Halter nor Blanche Lincoln can beat a generic Republican for the AR senate seat.
posted by box at 3:26 PM on September 28, 2010


Then why are the likely voter screens showing many fewer dems voting?

Likely voter screens are applied by pollsters. If they're guessing that fewer Dems will be voting, that's their read on the mood of the country. It's not some kind of scientific tally. I.e. it doesn't make any sense to say "well they must be counting you out!"

Most likely it's an attempt to quantify what seems like stronger than usual right-wing engagement.


No. The screen is made up of a series of questions regarding when the voters have voted in the past, how likely they think they are going to vote this time, how certain they are about their vote, etc.

If you've ever been polled you'd recognize these questions right away. The questions are not published to prevent other pollers from getting the "method." But it isn't guess work.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:27 PM on September 28, 2010


I find the argument more to be "We got you some stuff, but fucked up on other stuff. Now, back us up on this and give us the support and cover we need to do more, or else we'll be replaced with people who intentionally fuck up as a matter of policy."
If that's the case, then you have to actually look at the "some stuff" they accomplished. I find it pretty lacking.
posted by delmoi at 3:27 PM on September 28, 2010


Democrats, despite their many problems are not the issue. It's the Republicans and their complete lock step approach to preventing anything getting down. The solution is to get more Democrats in office, so that people like Joe Liberman become minor gnats as opposed to major roadblocks that need to be appeased.

The problem is Harry Reid, who is unable or unwilling to enforce party discipline among his caucus. The health care reform process was filled with tactical errors on the part of the Democrats. Being the "good guys" and "playing fair" is NOT incompatible with making sure everyone knows there will be negative consequences for voting with the Republicans on a critical procedural issue. Take the public option, for example. Had it come to an up-or-down vote, the majority was there. But the unwillingness of Reid to use all of the levers of power available to him was what allowed Nelson, Lieberman and Lincoln to stop it. And now Lincoln's going to lose anyway. And I'm glad. Reid's opponent is pretty crazy, so I can't bring myself to root against him. But if he does win, he needs to be replaced as majority leader with someone who will fight. He's sucked at the job since 2006, and it's just inexcusable that he still has his job.
posted by vibrotronica at 3:27 PM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


One thing Democrats and Republicans agree on is that it's always the liberals' fault.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:30 PM on September 28, 2010 [22 favorites]


There were no promises broken.
Gitmo is still open. And on civil liberties things are actually worse.
You want no compromise and would rather see failure without compromise
I don't see why you should be "compromising" when you've got 60 senate votes. Or why the filibuster should even be left in place.
You don't agree with our general political outlook at all.
So why on earth should I vote for your guys? If we don't agree on political outlook, then clearly not voting for democrats is the correct course of action.


This is the crack talking. On civil liberties, things are worse? Bush engaged in massive warrantless wiretapping. Obama does not.

We have 60 Senate votes? Where were those 60 votes on your precious public option? Lincoln? No. Lieberman? No. Nelson? No.

Obama does not have a magic wand to control these people. There are three branches of government. How is it his fault?

We are tightly divided. You vote for the tea party and evil if you don't vote.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:31 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyway, the point is, insulting your base and trying to blame your upcoming losses on them just seems pretty stupid. Maybe they have a sound basis for believing this will actually motivate people but it doesn't seem to be working very well.

By the way, my number one problem with the president is the 10% unemployment rate. If the stimulus were larger, it probably would have prevented a lot of this. Just look at China: A much larger per-unit of GDP stimulus and the result is very few of the same kinds of problems that the U.S. faces.

But, Obama was more interested in "Bipartisanship" then sound economics and punted. The result was disaster.

It's really an enormous failure, and if you can't see that you're blind. Remember when democrats used to talk up the good economy under Clinton and point out how Dems were better at economics? Obviously that's gone, maybe it will get better in the next 4/8 years but we'll have to see.

And on top of that the incredible corruption in the U.S. government, caused by the fact that people in congress spend most of their time fundraising. Until that's fixed, basically, the U.S. is fucked.
posted by delmoi at 3:33 PM on September 28, 2010


delmoi: In other areas things have actually gotten worse. The economy is a lot worse...

Seriously? On what basis?
posted by joedan at 3:33 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem is Harry Reid, who is unable or unwilling to enforce party discipline among his caucus. The health care reform process was filled with tactical errors on the part of the Democrats. Being the "good guys" and "playing fair" is NOT incompatible with making sure everyone knows there will be negative consequences for voting with the Republicans on a critical procedural issue. Take the public option, for example. Had it come to an up-or-down vote, the majority was there. But the unwillingness of Reid to use all of the levers of power available to him was what allowed Nelson, Lieberman and Lincoln to stop it. And now Lincoln's going to lose anyway. And I'm glad. Reid's opponent is pretty crazy, so I can't bring myself to root against him. But if he does win, he needs to be replaced as majority leader with someone who will fight. He's sucked at the job since 2006, and it's just inexcusable that he still has his job.

How, pray tell, is one to "enforce" party discipline when only 59 senators were Dems at the time? Did the GOP ever do that? No. They couldn't even get Bush's immigration reform bill passed.

HCR was the most contentious bill in the last 40 years. By far. But it still isn't enough.

This really is all about the public option. One small program that would have served less than 5% of Americans. But we are to throw away everything because of it?
posted by Ironmouth at 3:34 PM on September 28, 2010


By the way, my number one problem with the president is the 10% unemployment rate. If the stimulus were larger, it probably would have prevented a lot of this. Just look at China: A much larger per-unit of GDP stimulus and the result is very few of the same kinds of problems that the U.S. faces.

But, Obama was more interested in "Bipartisanship" then sound economics and punted. The result was disaster.


Uh, hate to break it to you, but the Dems didn't have 60 votes in the Senate when the Stimulus was passed, remember? Without GOP votes, it would not have passed. No "bipartisanship" no stimulus.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:36 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's really an enormous failure, and if you can't see that you're blind. Remember when democrats used to talk up the good economy under Clinton and point out how Dems were better at economics? Obviously that's gone, maybe it will get better in the next 4/8 years but we'll have to see.

Let's get this straight. Bush fucked up the economy. Bush fell asleep at the wheel. Unemployment rose every month from Feb '08 to Jan '09. Every month. It has steadily declined since then.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:39 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bush engaged in massive warrantless wiretapping. Obama does not. -- Guess again. And, oh dear...
posted by crunchland at 3:42 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


He's gotten more done in 600 days on healthcare than the last 5 democratic presidents combined.

There were no promises broken.


these two statements drive me up the wall. I mean, I know why you're saying them, and they mostly drive me up the wall when I hear them from politicians in an interview. But as statements they infuriate me.

here's why: the above-linked politifact, which people keep bringing up as a way to show what a great job obama is doing (and it goes a significant way toward showing that) demonstrates capably that promises have in fact been broken. I'm sorry if you don't see that, but it's the truth. promises have been broken. so let's just accept that. what we're left with is what voters want to do with the promises that are broken, the ones that are kept and the ones that may still work out.

and the thing to understand about disenfranchised voters is this: it's not their job to feel enfranchised. it's the nature of disenfranchisement that people who feel beat on, let down or outright betrayed are going to change their feelings about the political process. this is the very core of progressive ideology, is that the system has to change to bring disenfranchised voters back in. Progressives, if they know what they're talking about, don't run around yelling at people who feel let down by the government. they don't run around telling people to buck up and vote for their guy anyway. Progressives who actually believe in progressive ideals and know what they're doing find ways to inspire those people to believe in their policies.

and that's why when a politician says "come on! we've done more for health care reform than anyone else has in 100 years!" I want to kick them in the teeth. You're preaching to the choir, and you're being stupid. I know that. I'm gonna vote for you. You don't need to worry about me. But the ones you're frustrated by? They have to vote in 2010 and HCR isn't gonna help them until 2014, and some of it not even by then. Moreover, too many people don't even understand the reforms of the bill. FIGURE OUT HOW TO WIN THE ELECTION IN 2010. THAT IS YOUR JOB. The republicans are masters of winning dramatic short term battles that leave gaping long term wounds. They piss the economy down the shitter for 8 years, but now it's obama's problem to fix. You want to explain economics to 300 million people and then see if they take the time to understand who fucked them? Give them something to thank you for now. HCR is not short term enough. Because dems, when we accomplish anything at all, accomplish long term goals so that the republicans are in office when it finally starts making people feel better. it's admirable, but it's also not winning them elections. HCR is great, but now do something people can feel working for them now.

that's why it drives me nuts to hear shit about how people should just vote democrat because of hcr. that's not how it works, and it's a politician's job to know that and to win their elections by inspiring the disenfranchised to vote for them.
posted by shmegegge at 3:42 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


delmoi: "If that's the case, then you have to actually look at the "some stuff" they accomplished. I find it pretty lacking."

Seriously? No more rescission. No more pre-existing conditions. Billions of dollars in deficit reduction. Coverage for dependents until age 26. National standards for insurance coverage. More funding for community clinics.

That's just for healthcare, and completely off the top of my head. More?

Credit card reform. Student loan reform. Financial regulatory reform. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Increased emissions standards. The stimulus package, which arguably averted a depression. Vast increases in funding for infrastructure, education, and basic research. Tax cuts for 95% of Americans. The rescue of the automotive industry. Two Supreme Court justices.

All off the top of my head. No Google was involved.

Ironmouth: "Let's get this straight. Bush fucked up the economy. Bush fell asleep at the wheel. Unemployment rose every month from Feb '08 to Jan '09. Every month. It has steadily declined since then."

This is true. Why are we not seeing this chart everywhere?
posted by Rhaomi at 3:45 PM on September 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


This is the crack talking. On civil liberties, things are worse? Bush engaged in massive warrantless wiretapping. Obama does not.

Yes, clearly I smoke crack. You reminding me of this definitely makes me want to vote the same way you do!

Secondly, the last I heard about warrantless wiretapping was the protect America act being renewed, which means the massive wiretapping is still legal. I have no idea why you would say it's not going on, if it wasn't going on why would it be reauthorized?
Warrant and notification requirements
The bill amended FISA to substitute the requirement of a warrant to conduct surveillance with a system of NSA (National Security Agency) internal controls.[9]
The bill required notification to the FISA Court of warrantless surveillance within 72 hours of any authorization. The bill also required that "a sealed copy of the certification" be sent which would "remain sealed unless the certification is needed to determine the legality of the acquisition."[9]

Domestic wiretapping
The bill allowed the monitoring of all electronic communications of people in the United States without a court's order or oversight, so long as it is not targeted at one particular person "reasonably believed to be" inside the country.[1][10][11]
So to claim that Obama stopped warrantless wiretapping is just straight up incorrect.
We have 60 Senate votes? Where were those 60 votes on your precious public option? Lincoln? No. Lieberman? No. Nelson? No.
From what I remember, the senate had already passed a version of HCR before it passed the house. In order to pass the bill they had to have a "patch" which fixed differences, which only needed 50 votes. The public option could have been added, and indeed there was a petition signed by 41 democrats arguing that it should have been. In fact, according to this yally 51 senators actually supported adding the public option to the "patch".

The whole "you need 60 votes for the public option" thing is basically a lie. After HCR passed the senate with 60 votes, there was a window where it could have been added with just 51 votes. But that didn't happen.

But really, do you think you're coming off as a very effective voice for the Democratic Party? Insulting everyone, acting like an entitled brat, and spouting misleading statements?
posted by delmoi at 3:46 PM on September 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Ironmouth, do we have to do this again? #60 is Joe "Mr. Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee" Lieberman. Was he ever threatened with losing that post? No? Then Reid didn't do enough. Period. Look at Murkowski in Alaska. She's running as a write-in and the Republicans are already talking about taking her committee assignments away.

If you don't like the legislation, vote against it in the up-or-down vote. That's fine. But if you vote against the party on a simple procedural vote—which is what a cloture vote is supposed to be—then you should pay a price. Otherwise, why have a party? This is not a radical idea. This is how you run a goddamned political party.

This really is all about the public option. One small program that would have served less than 5% of Americans. But we are to throw away everything because of it?

Well gee, if it means that much to the base, maybe Reid and Obama should have fought harder for it instead of insulting the base now that they need them. They are there to serve the wishes of their voters, not the other way around.
posted by vibrotronica at 3:47 PM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


On civil liberties, things are worse? Bush engaged in massive warrantless wiretapping. Obama does not.

The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews. - The New York Times, April 2009

And though I don't usually quote Greenwald just to annoy you, I will now:

From the start, the Obama DOJ has engaged in one extraordinary maneuver after the next to shield this criminal surveillance program from judicial scrutiny. Indeed, their stonewalling at one point became so extreme that the court actually threatened the Obama DOJ with sanctions. And what TPM calls the Obama DOJ's "Bush-mimicking state secrets defense" has been used by them in one case after the next to conceal and shield from judicial review a wide range of Bush crimes -- including torture, renditions and surveillance. As the Electronic Frontiers Foundation put it: "In Warrantless Wiretapping Case, Obama DOJ's New Arguments Are Worse Than Bush's."
posted by Joe Beese at 3:52 PM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


here's why: the above-linked politifact, which people keep bringing up as a way to show what a great job obama is doing (and it goes a significant way toward showing that) demonstrates capably that promises have in fact been broken. I'm sorry if you don't see that, but it's the truth. promises have been broken. so let's just accept that.

No. It. Does. Not. Show. That.

I will not "just accept that." It "capably demonstrates" nothing of the sort. And it is NOT THE TRUTH. Only if you believe that no compromises can ever be made. Seriously look at the numbers and the promises. One promise broken, in that he gave waivers for a few lobbyists in the White House.

But promises broken? Only if you think that compromising is a "promise broken." And in a democratic system nothing gets done without compromise. We are not Soviet Russia.

Did Obama promise that he would not compromise on any of his programs? NO.

that's why it drives me nuts to hear shit about how people should just vote democrat because of hcr. that's not how it works, and it's a politician's job to know that and to win their elections by inspiring the disenfranchised to vote for them.

Wrong. We live in a democratic republic. This means that it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO WIN ELECTIONS AND TO VOTE FOR CANDIDATES. Obama can do exactly zero if we don't vote for Democratic candidates. Only we can do that. Only we can get our friends to vote for the Dems. If that wasn't his entire message in 2008, I don't know what it was.

There is a reason that the Gettysburg Address calls it "government of the people, by the people, for the people.

It isn't "politican's responsiblity" It is our responsiblity.

And we wonder why the political system is fucked up.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:53 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth: "Let's get this straight. Bush fucked up the economy. Bush fell asleep at the wheel. Unemployment rose every month from Feb '08 to Jan '09. Every month. It has steadily declined since then."

This is true. Why are we not seeing this chart everywhere?
That chart is pretty dishonest. It actually shows the derivative of the unemployment rate. That is, the number of newly unemployed people each month, not the unemployment rate rate itself. The chart actually shows the unemployment rate increasing until January of 2010 not 2009, as Ironmouth claimed. The chart also stops in april, when the census was still hiring.

I'm sure you guys believe what you're saying is true, but the fact is it's incorrect.

here's an actual, up to date chart of the unemployment rate

As you can see it peaked in January of 2010
at 10.6% and currently sits at 9.6%

here is an interactive chart where you can change the timeline. As you can see unemployment peaked around January, and has actually held steady, not decreased (it's gone up and down in a very small range) since then.

Again, I'm sure you guy were just ignorant and not deliberately lying but now you know. The unemployment rate increased until January of 2010, and has been basically flat since then.
posted by delmoi at 3:54 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


In order to pass the bill they had to have a "patch" which fixed differences, which only needed 50 votes. The public option could have been added, and indeed there was a petition signed by 41 democrats arguing that it should have been. In fact, according to this yally 51 senators actually supported adding the public option to the "patch".

A "patch?" You are disucssing 'reconciliation.' And it would be illegal to use that procedure in the way that was described. Only budget bills can be used with it.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:55 PM on September 28, 2010


I will not "just accept that." It "capably demonstrates" nothing of the sort. ... Seriously look at the numbers and the promises. One promise broken

Right. One promise broken. How can you say that they both haven't broken any promises and then say in the very next sentence that they have broken promises.

Also, the chart itself does not include closing Gitmo by the end of 2009 which he clearly also promised and didn't do. And that makes two.
posted by delmoi at 3:58 PM on September 28, 2010


I was unemployed during the health care negotiations and watched them far more closely than was good for me. I strongly believe that the health care process was a huge mess largely because the left was effectively neutered (not because they weren't neutered enough, as some of you seem to believe). The left didn't even want a public option! The public option was ALREADY supposed to be the compromise. What the left wanted was single payer health care. If negotiations had started from that point and THEN moved rightward, the negotiations might have gone very differently.

"And in a democratic system nothing gets done without compromise."

And this is why it is so important to start negotiations from a point where the compromise still won't be too onerous, not start from a point where Joe Lieberman is already on your side. Seriously, the Overton window (oh how I hate Glenn Beck for ruining such a fine term!) is the part that I think many "moderate" critics of progressives fail to take into account. If nobody is pushing a "liberal" agenda, then the "mainstream" agenda will simply continue to move to the right
posted by pikachulolita at 4:00 PM on September 28, 2010 [16 favorites]


A "patch?" You are disucssing 'reconciliation.' And it would be illegal to use that procedure in the way that was described. Only budget bills can be used with it.
Did you even click the fucking link man?
51 senators will vote for a public option in reconciliation if it's sent over by the House

24 have signed a letter to Harry Reid asking for a public option in
reconciliation 19 have given statements to us, reporters, or their constituents. 4 more have made statements on video. And 4 are extremely likely based on their previous support for the public option and Senate leadership, even though they haven't made an official statement yet.

"I want to be crystal clear: Sen. Durbin and the rest of the Senate Leadership will be aggressively whipping FOR the public option if it is included in the
reconciliation bill the House sends over."
Are you telling me that you know more about senate procedure then Dick Durban and 42 other senators? Really?

Look man, the fact of the matter is these aren't even matters of opinion. They are straight up factual issues. And you're wrong about them.
posted by delmoi at 4:01 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


What I wrote earlier was:
The public option could have been added, and indeed there was a petition signed by 41 democrats arguing that it should have been. In fact, according to this yally 51 senators actually supported adding the public option to the "patch".
And I meant to say "this tally". I don't know how I ended up with "yally", anyway Again here is the link. Scroll down for the senate tally.
posted by delmoi at 4:03 PM on September 28, 2010


President Obama was, is, and will be the best choice to be president. There isn't anybody else I would rather have be POTUS and certainly not anybody else in the United States. Every interview I read of his proves this to me: he knows what he is doing, he knows what is going on, and he is mentally strong.
posted by anniecat at 4:05 PM on September 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


I am angry at this strategy not because it's insulting, but because it's boneheaded. It won't change any of our votes, all it does is sap our will to volunteer and give money. I mean, for Christ's sake, how hard would it be to take a page from the Big Dog and feel our pain a little? To, like, maybe admit that healthcare reform is not a historic sweeping victory for the ages so much as it is a few insurance reforms that mean insurers can't rape us quite as badly as they have been recently? They're good reforms, they really are. I'm glad we have them. But the health insurance mess here: not fixed. If you say it is, you're a liar. Obama and his proxies appear to be saying it is.

...

What is that strategy getting us?

If anyone can explain to me why this messaging will work, I'll be glad to be the punching bag.
posted by rusty at 2:53 PM on September 28


Who says it's a strategy? I view this administration as having fundamentally set out to see what they could accomplish, opinion polls be damned (see: Clinton administration), re-election strategy be damned, feelings be damned. You feel insulted? Vs. what - the ball moving that much further forward?

Give me that choice, and I'll insult you into next week. Hail Mary or nothing is a bunch of garbage. Let's get down to brass tacks. Yeah, call me ugly - my ego can take it. But let's do this thing.

Why waste one breath castigating or reaching out to the right when they don't listen to you? Why waste time on people like me or Ironmouth, who are obviously sell out loyalists? Who's that leave? That's right, the dissatisfied progressives.

We've done a Democratic president trying to stroke egos and avoid insulting people. Just for kicks, what would happen if we had one focused on getting stuff done, re-election or hurt feelings be damned? Given the choice, I'd pick the latter every single time.

That some view the messaging as insulting says more about them than it does about the administration. They're trying to do what they can. If I were them, I wouldn't waste an ounce of energy worrying about your feelings when there's so much other stuff worth doing.

Simply put, some people would rather effect change than wallow in moral superiority as things fall apart. As in business, if nobody's happy, it must be a good deal. Somebody needs to be the grown up and think about a budget (not the right), to speak frankly with its base (not the right) and to understand that we don't always get what we want (not the right).

From here, it sounds like some people just want a lefty flavored version of the Tea Party, where you're lied to and coddled and made to feel good while we lay some vengeance down on our enemies over there. Total waste of time. Move the ball forward.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 4:13 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


All of us have multiple interests, but if your primary concern is with civil liberties and the national security state, then the problem isn't that Obama hasn't done enough, it's that his policies have been actively damaging. There's just no reason why you should be especially excited about either his administration or the continuation of the Democratic Party in power. - Kevin Drum, Mother Jones
posted by Joe Beese at 4:15 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "Right. One promise broken. How can you say that they both haven't broken any promises and then say in the very next sentence that they have broken promises."

Ironmouth was talking about their list of the 25 most important promises, of which only one has been broken. Their full list includes many more broken ones, but they still amount to only ~4% of the 500+ pledges made.

delmoi: "The unemployment rate increased until January of 2010, and has been basically flat since then."

If that's an indictment of the administration, it's a damn poor one. We were losing nearly three-quarters of a million jobs per month when Obama was sworn in. That decline has been brought to heel, largely thanks to the stimulus package, and the recession is now officially over. Unemployment lingers, but it always does -- it's a lagging indicator of economic health. Ignoring the aforementioned successes and focusing on the "failure" of not immediately creating millions more jobs in the course of a year in the face of endless, nonsensical filibusters strikes me as unreasonable.

pikachulolita: "And this is why it is so important to start negotiations from a point where the compromise still won't be too onerous, not start from a point where Joe Lieberman is already on your side. Seriously, the Overton window (oh how I hate Glenn Beck for ruining such a fine term!) is the part that I think many "moderate" critics of progressives fail to take into account. If nobody is pushing a "liberal" agenda, then the "mainstream" agenda will simply continue to move to the right"

It was obvious from the beginning that the votes did not exist for single-payer. You've got to start negotiating from a strong position, yes, but not an untenable one.

delmoi: "Did you even click the fucking link man?
51 senators will vote for a public option in reconciliation if it's sent over by the House
"

From FiveThirtyEight at the time:
[The] overwhelming opinion among [process wonks] is that, although the public option might survive the reconciliation process, things like the ban on denying coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, the additional regulations on insurers, and the creation of the health insurance exchanges would almost certainly not. Plus, the bill would have to be deficit neutral over five years and would be subject to renewal every five years.

If your lone objective were to end up with something that you could call a public option, then yes -- reconciliation offers some possibility of that. But I don't see how you're likely, on balance, to wind up with a better bill -- losing the guaranteed issue provision alone would probably outweigh the inclusion of a public option.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:16 PM on September 28, 2010


He's the best Democratic president I have had in my life. How is it, in 42 years plus of presidents who suck, one comes along who is halfway good and all you can do is cry about it?

Did you watch too much Aaron Sorkin? Is that it?
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:16 PM on September 28, 2010 [18 favorites]


Are you telling me that you know more about senate procedure then Dick Durban and 42 other senators? Really?

Look man, the fact of the matter is these aren't even matters of opinion. They are straight up factual issues. And you're wrong about them.


I'm telling you I know more about senate procedure than you do.

OK, let's be clear on this. "Reconciliation" is technically "Budget Reconciliation." Which is a procedure by which a cloture vote requires only a majority vote, only in matters involving budget bills.

However, the "reconciliation" being talked about in your link is actually the House-Senate conference report where the Senate and House bills are being "reconciled." It is an informal term. Out of the conference comes the "Conference Report." The Conference Report may be filibustered. This is Senate procedure. You can pretend like it isn't. But those are the facts. The idea was that they would then present those opposing the Public Option with a fait accompli. We have the thing in there, I dare you to vote against cloture. However, Blanche Lincoln said she would filibuster any public option bill in open debate in the senate. They tested her and felt that she would, indeed, vote with the Republicans on cloture, killing the bill.

Please get your facts right. A conference report may be filibustered.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:19 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Compromise is one thing -- HCR, Stimulus, CapNTrade, Card Check -- all those things would have to be pushed through Congress where'd they'd be compromised. That's how it works. More and better Democrats are the answer. It's a long, slow process, and you'll be working against Democratic leadership, for the most part. 'Cause they don't want what progressives want.

But what about areas where compromise with conservatives and reactionaries in congress isn't necessary? Where the President has carte blanche?

Off the top of my head, GITMO, the carryover and deepening of BushCo's policy on civil liberties to include American citizens on assassination target lists and the FBI's targeting of peace activists as "terrorist sympathizers", the management of TARP, the failure of HAMP, the renomination of Bernanke (and in general, the handover of the economic policy apparatus to the folks who got the last decade wrong), the continuing DEA prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries ... All items the Administration doesn't have to go to Congress to act on. Weakness in those policy areas cannot be blamed on anybody but the President.

If not voting is "voting for the tea party and evil," then voting Democrat is voting in favor of more of the same policy failures.
posted by notyou at 4:20 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Did you watch too much Aaron Sorkin? Is that it?

The snark! It burns!

To the earlier "If you don't like the Democratic Party, leave it", I offer this corollary:

If you don't like progressive voters, don't ask for their vote.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:24 PM on September 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


FINALLY! Someone is defending what Obama has done.

Oh wait. It's Obama. He still stands alone in defending his accomplishments, besides me, it seems.
posted by glaucon at 4:29 PM on September 28, 2010


Who says it's a strategy? I view this administration as having fundamentally set out to see what they could accomplish, opinion polls be damned (see: Clinton administration), re-election strategy be damned, feelings be damned. You feel insulted? Vs. what - the ball moving that much further forward?

No politician ever has that strategy. Come on, you're just projecting what you wish a politician would think onto the guy.
posted by delmoi at 4:31 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The important thing to remember is that if the Tea Party experiences massive victories, things are bound to get more progressive.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:40 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


However, the "reconciliation" being talked about in your link is actually the House-Senate conference report where the Senate and House bills are being "reconciled." It is an informal term. Out of the conference comes the "Conference Report." The Conference Report may be filibustered.
Cute. But wrong. Here's Ezra Klein, writing in the Washington post.
Sen. Michael Bennet's effort to revive the public option in the reconciliation process is gaining steam, with almost 20 senators signing on to the idea. Among them are Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, who are not, shall we say, possessed of a whimsical or quixotic temperament.
Of course, you don't need almost 20 senators. You need 51, or more
If you had actually paid attention to how HCR was passed you would understand what was going on, but apparently you didn't. The senate passed a version of the HCR with 60 votes. The house had their own version. Rather then go the normal rout of doing a conference report and having it voted on again (and subject to a filibuster) the house passed the senate's HCR bill as was, which made it law when Obama signed it. then the house passed a second HCR bill which they called a "patch". That bill only delt with the budget, so it could be passed by reconciliation, which it was. The petition was about adding a public option to that patch, or else passing it as a second bill, or whatever.

The bottom line is that you are still wrong and rather then admit it your making up more lies and trying to pretend that somehow "reconciliation" somehow doesn't mean "reconciliation". B for effort, but your facts are still wrong. B because you didn't link to anything, which obviously you couldn't since you were wrong.
posted by delmoi at 4:42 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, Here is the Ezra Klein article
posted by delmoi at 4:42 PM on September 28, 2010


No politician ever has that strategy. Come on, you're just projecting what you wish a politician would think onto the guy.
posted by delmoi at 4:31 PM on September 28


Perhaps. But I'm doing no more projecting than the people who believe that the current messaging is meant to "insult" the left's base.

I'm just as free to interpret the messaging as I see fit.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 4:52 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


delmoi, read that FiveThirtyEight piece I linked to, along with this follow-up. Reconciliation was not the magic bullet progressives were hoping for. It might have delivered a public option, but at the cost of a potentially weaker bill that would be easier to repeal.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:53 PM on September 28, 2010


Let me get the haterade straight: you are objecting to his tone on the grounds that it is poor strategy because your fee-fees got hurt? The Tea Party could use your thin-skin, and since you have already announced that you are taking your fee-fees (and your ball) and going home, then you are basically doing that already. Again, bravo. The abject narcissism in this thread from so-called astute observers is astounding. IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU. OR YOUR FEE-FEES.

I fear I have misspelled fee-fees. For shame.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:58 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


And while you guys are whining about how POTUS has delivered on 58.4% of his promises instead of 67.2% of his promises, I will be hitting the street to get Dems elected this November. You know, because it fucking matters.

Have fun with your internet posturing. Some of us have more than ego at stake in this shit. We have a fiscal reality that would be utterly destroyed if the GOP takes power, among many other things.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:01 PM on September 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


Also, the chart itself does not include closing Gitmo by the end of 2009 which he clearly also promised and didn't do. And that makes two.

Let me see if I can argue this one without tossing f-bombs about and calling people whiners. But as an aside, the reason why I have got so het up in the past on Obama hostility/apathy on the left is that I feel like I saw this movie in 2000. It's almost like a PTSD response -- OH FUCK THERE'S A HANGING CHAD WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE

Anyways, there are many many complexities involving Gitmo. Some folks run riot if faced with the prospect of having detainees in U.S. prisons. Some countries won't agree to have their citizens repatriated. And then we have the whole fuckeroo of the fact that some of these guys really should be prisoners of war but there is no state entity with which we're at war so how do we handle that? Some of these guys need a trial but their cases are tainted with bad evidence (i.e., evidence obtained through torture), so how do we handle that, from a national security point of view.

Delmoi, do you have answers to all of those questions? And even if you do -- just like, off the top of the head -- do you acknowledge that all of these questions are of importance and therefore the argument is more nuanced than BROKEN PROMISE/NOT BROKEN PROMISE?
posted by angrycat at 5:07 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let me see if I can argue this one without tossing f-bombs about and calling people whiners.

Sorry, guys. Long day. Thanks for the gentle call-out, angrycat.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:09 PM on September 28, 2010


delmoi, read that FiveThirtyEight piece I linked to, along with this follow-up. Reconciliation was not the magic bullet progressives were hoping for. It might have delivered a public option, but at the cost of a potentially weaker bill that would be easier to repeal.
Rhaomi: You're confusing different points in time. If the democrats had tried to do reconciliation-only, then that would have resulted in a weaker (in some ways) bill.

But what actually happened, at a later point in time was that the senate had passed a "Full" bill, with no public option.

The problem was that the house wasn't happy with the senate bill and wanted to make changes. But with the scott brown election, there wasn't going to be anyway they could pass a full bill again in the senate without being filibustered.

So what they decided to do was pass the senate bill in the house, which was signed by Obama.

Then they passed a second bill in the house, and that bill was passed via reconciliation.

So the question was whether or not the public option should have been included in that "patch". It seems like it could have passed if it had been included, but for some reason, it was not.
posted by delmoi at 5:09 PM on September 28, 2010


Joe, I was calling myself out. Because damn if I haven't thrown a fit over this stuff in the past.
posted by angrycat at 5:11 PM on September 28, 2010


We have a fiscal reality that would be utterly destroyed if the GOP takes power, among many other things.
What do you mean by this?
posted by delmoi at 5:13 PM on September 28, 2010


The idea was that they would then present those opposing the Public Option with a fait accompli. We have the thing in there, I dare you to vote against cloture. However, Blanche Lincoln said she would filibuster any public option bill in open debate in the senate. They tested her and felt that she would, indeed, vote with the Republicans on cloture, killing the bill.

And what would the consequences have been for Blanche Lincoln if she had done that?
posted by vibrotronica at 5:13 PM on September 28, 2010


Delmoi, do you have answers to all of those questions? And even if you do -- just like, off the top of the head -- do you acknowledge that all of these questions are of importance and therefore the argument is more nuanced than BROKEN PROMISE/NOT BROKEN PROMISE?
Okay look. I was responding to Ironmouth, who said that Obama hadn't broken any promises, despite the fact that he had.

To get more specific:
Some folks run riot if faced with the prospect of having detainees in U.S. prisons. Some countries won't agree
So fuck those people.
Some of these guys need a trial but their cases are tainted with bad evidence (i.e., evidence obtained through torture), so how do we handle that, from a national security point of view.
So let them go? that's generally what happens when evidence against someone. These people aren't fucking supervillans. Even if we increase the total number of free terrorists by 150 or whatever, I find it hard to believe it would significantly increase the risk of an attack.
posted by delmoi at 5:18 PM on September 28, 2010


And what would the consequences have been for Blanche Lincoln if she had done that?
An extra million dollars a year in her new career has a health-care lobbyist.
posted by delmoi at 5:19 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


What do you mean by this?

Hi, delmoi!

The sort of legislative obstructionism that would definitely result in the event of a Republican take-over of one or both houses of Congress would have a disproportionately disastrous effect on the Midwest, but on Michigan in particular. This is not academic for those of us, here. The domestic auto bailout (for whatever faults it might have embodied) represented the difference between another Great Depression (which we are still flirting with, given the worst unemployment in the nation, among other things) and utter Anarchy here.

Couple that with the likely repeal of HCR (again, not academic: we do not have the benefit of, well, benefits) and the sort of GOP economic platform that encourages shipping jobs overseas, and you have a recipe for a perfect storm that would leaves us well behind.-I do not suspect the gravity of the situation here, and elsewhere, is fully grasped by some folks on the outside. I eagerly await the arrival of a democratic socialist utopia, but in the interim, we have bills to pay (that we cannot) and are sitting on a precipice, the important advances of this Administration to stave them off notwithstanding.

This is just a sampling, I have to grade papers for another couple hours and get up and do it all over again. Sorry for being so abrasive, above.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:20 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The sort of legislative obstructionism that would definitely result in the event of a Republican take-over of one or both houses of Congress would have a disproportionately disastrous effect on the Midwest
I see. I wasn't sure what you meant because usually when people talk about "Fiscal" they mean just straight up how much money the government spends. I.E. "Fiscal responsibility" = spending cuts.
posted by delmoi at 5:27 PM on September 28, 2010


I.E. "Fiscal responsibility" = spending cuts.

Yeah, my bad. I was using it in the more general sense of: we are seriously fucked, fiscally, if the GOP takes over one or both houses of Congress.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:31 PM on September 28, 2010


Dammit, I did it again: fiscally = economically
posted by joe lisboa at 5:32 PM on September 28, 2010


Then they passed a second bill in the house, and that bill was passed via reconciliation.

So the question was whether or not the public option should have been included in that "patch". It seems like it could have passed if it had been included, but for some reason, it was not


Those changes were merely budgetary. The conference report in such situations, may only be debated for 30 hours before a vote. Thus cloture need not be invoked. If the public option were added, it would be non-budgetary, and hence, subject to filibuster. Indeed, since the House voted on the budgetary changes as directly voted on by the senate, the texts were identical and the bill was considered enacted. You literally could not do what you are suggesting.

Delmoi, you are a nice guy, but you're facts are way, way, wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:38 PM on September 28, 2010


Off the top of my head, GITMO, the carryover and deepening of BushCo's policy on civil liberties to include American citizens on assassination target lists and the FBI's targeting of peace activists as "terrorist sympathizers", the management of TARP, the failure of HAMP, the renomination of Bernanke (and in general, the handover of the economic policy apparatus to the folks who got the last decade wrong), the continuing DEA prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries ... All items the Administration doesn't have to go to Congress to act on. Weakness in those policy areas cannot be blamed on anybody but the President.

Okay, fine. But ask yourself this.

Let's say you were a congressperson or senator. Look at all the bills that have been voted up and down on since Obama's been president.

The votes seem to break more or less along party lines a lot, don't they? Would your vote be in more in common with the Dems side or the GOP?

Now imagine you are president. How much would the bills you signed or vetoed correspond with how Obama did? What about Bush?

Yes, the President does and can do a lot more than sign bills. But this is the area where either not voting or voting for a third party candidate because Obama's not progressive enough really, truly is akin to voting for the other party. The material impact is losing a guy who would vote/sign/veto in the way you would much, much, MUCH more than the other guy will.

And (as others has pointed out)...gee, it feels like we just saw what happens when enough people flip off the major party candidate nominally on their side just ten years ago! Let's let the GOP be the ones learning that lesson this time, please.
posted by mreleganza at 5:47 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rolling Stone also has a new piece by Matt Taibbi: How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster
posted by homunculus at 5:49 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but I'm just going to have to say it:

Many of the criticisms being aimed at Obama have been floating around ever since the primaries. Corporatist. empty suit. Ego-driven. DLCer. Who does he think he is? Hasn't passed any meaningful legislation. Aloof. doesn't understand ordinary people. Warmonger. And so on.

I understand people feeling disappointed or disillusioned. I have too, although only a little bit because I paid careful attention to what the candidates were saying instead of what I wanted to hear. And I paid particularly close attention to Obama's comments that he intended to wind down the Iraq war in as orderly a fashion as possible, but ramp up the fighting on the border of Afghanistan/Pakistan; and that he had some socially conservative views; he planned a major reform of education; and that he anticipated changing the country of the direction would take a long time and require quite a lot of personal sacrifice; and so on. It was a combination of these things that made me think he could win, and suggest to others that he would be able to defeat the GOP candidate and be a rather good President, and eventually win a bet with my Dad that we have made at the beginning of every election season since the days of Carter.

But as far back as 2007 when Obama declared, and all the way through the primary season, and ever since, I've heard people complaining about the fact that he's not Dennis Kucinich, John Edwards, or Hilary Clinton. After getting elected I've also learned he's not bill Clinton or FDR or JFK - presidents who are historically famous because they never, ever fucked up, dropped the ball, lost a mid-term election, wasted political capital, sold out, or let anybody down, ever. The only person I haven't heard any comparisons with has been Lyndon Johnson.

So, without singling out anyone in particular, I do do not have a great deal of sympathy for the people expressing such hurt and dismay any time a testy remark is uttered within the precincts of the White House: I've been hearing for over 3 years about Obama's manifest failure to be what they want, and all that's new this year are the wistful sighs about the Tea Party and their sexy rebellious streak, defying their overlords and getting away with it while cruel Darth Obama ruthlessly quashes dissent within his own party as the nation groans under his jackbooted heel, and the fascist takeover is complete. I wish I was making those phrases up, but they're all listed from some disappointed 'progressives'.


When I get pissed off with some right-wing know-nothing, I occasionally lose my temper and suggest they move to Somalia if they like small government so much. I'm kind of pissed off with left-wing know-nothings right now, so allow me to suggest that you rise up, throw off those chains, flee the hideous and Democratic party. Get out there and found a super-duper Progressive Party, and show us how it should be done.

I'm not holding my breath.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:51 PM on September 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


Fucking retards.
posted by dragonsi55 at 5:59 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The important thing to remember is that if the Tea Party experiences massive victories, things are bound to get more progressive.

I see no evidence of that. People here seem to think it will be great if the Tea Party is successful because Americans will see how crazy they are and learn the error of their ways.

But we already had Bush. He got re-elected. This is not how things work. Failures can be blamed on Obama not the Tea Party, Fox News will be doing the full-court press on how the valiant Tea Party Congresspeople are being usurped by the "unelected elites" of the Democratic Party, etc. And then 2012 will be easier for them because they'll have more people in power to organize and get donations (at least this year the Tea Party candidates had to do it without support from the establishment --- next time they will BE the establishment in the Republican Party! Look at Romney and others who are rushing to be their buddies).
posted by wildcrdj at 6:04 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Of course, immediately after posting I realize that what I was quoting could be sarcasm. But really, after this thread my sarcasm meter is totally broken. And I definitely have seen people here talk hopefully of a backlash if the Tea Party people are successful (which they almost certainly will be, I'd at least bet on a House takeover).
posted by wildcrdj at 6:06 PM on September 28, 2010


Well. This thread has given me something to think about anyway. I guess the anti-left campaign could have been a lot worse, if some of you were in charge. I'm not sure what the vitriol against anyone here who isn't just totally smitten with everything the party in power has done so far is meant to accomplish, but... I don't even know how to end that sentence. I await your redoubled anger if we lose some seats on election day, and I'm sorry I didn't do a good enough job governing to keep us in power.
posted by rusty at 6:11 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


All of us have multiple interests, but if your primary concern is with civil liberties and the national security state, then the problem isn't that Obama hasn't done enough, it's that his policies have been actively damaging. There's just no reason why you should be especially excited about either his administration or the continuation of the Democratic Party in power.

There's probably an interesting study in the rhetorical maneuver Drum's executing here, utilizing the first six words of that paragraph in service of the antithetical point which follows them, and possibly the psychology that lets it work.
posted by namespan at 6:12 PM on September 28, 2010


We have a fiscal reality that would be utterly destroyed if the GOP takes power, among many other things.

I can pretty much see what the GOP would do: Cut taxes on the rich and wealthy corporations, increase taxes on the middle class (and never address it when a reporter asks about it), and unemployment will go up and up because executive management will still be motivated by producing less and employing fewer and either selling off the business to private equity firms who will then run them into bankruptcy at no real loss to themselves.
posted by anniecat at 6:13 PM on September 28, 2010


No. It. Does. Not. Show. That.

Yes. It. Does. It's right there on the site, dude. Are you going to say that he urged the states to treat same sex couples with full equality when he clearly didn't? Sorry, dude, but you're wrong. Please get your facts straight. There are 22 other promises on that list he didn't come through on. Please stop saying that he didn't break any promises and get your facts straight.

Only we can get our friends to vote for the Dems. If that wasn't his entire message in 2008, I don't know what it was.

That's true. You don't know what his entire message was in 2008.

Politicians have to win elections. They have to give people something to vote for. If you think that voter disenfranchisement is the fault of disenfranchised voters and that disenfranchised voters are also at fault for how fucked up our political system is, then you literally have no idea what you're talking about.
posted by shmegegge at 6:18 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can we agree to compromise?

Let's give money to the progressive Dems, let's at least vote for any Dem who voted for Health Care Reform.

Blanche Lincoln? Let her lose, she's never done anything for us.

But let's try to keep the good Dems in office. I've given over $500 to Russ Feingold, because he's a great senator, probably the best we have, and the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act -- and he's down in the polls to a "self-reliant" Republican who made his fortune through government subsidies.

Let's try to keep Barbara Boxer in office, rather than the idiot who ruined HP.

Let's try to keep Congressman Tom Perriello in office; he's from rural coal country, yet he voted for HCR and the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Let's be progressive; let's be very disappointed with Obama's shockingly bad record on civil liberties. But let's not be stupid.
posted by orthogonality at 6:18 PM on September 28, 2010 [18 favorites]


Well, mreleganza. Obama's not up for reelection, so he'll have the opportunity to do those things as he pleases no matter which party holds Congress.
posted by notyou at 6:19 PM on September 28, 2010


I definitely used to be on the "guys just suck it up and vote democrat, the alternatives are SO MUCH WORSE" side but lately I've become a lot more cynical after many of the worrying trends in civil liberties. It's one thing to not move forward, it's another to continue to move backwards (but simply at a slower pace than the other guys.)

I'm still going to vote for democrats, but you don't need to rub my face in it.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:24 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Those changes were merely budgetary. The conference report in such situations, may only be debated for blah, blah, blah

Delmoi, you are a nice guy, but you're facts are way, way, wrong.
No, my facts are right. I don't know why that's so hard for you to deal with. You haven't linked to a single source to back up your assertion, you're just repeating it. I've linked to backup for all of my assertions. Here's another link this one to Nate Silver:
I'm not a process wonk, but the overwhelming opinion among people who are is that, although the public option might survive the reconciliation process, things like the ban on denying coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, the additional regulations on insurers, and the creation of the health insurance exchanges would almost certainly not.
Again, that he was arguing against using reconciliation, only, claiming that the other regulations were better then having the public option. But there has never been any doubt that the public option could have been passed by reconciliation. And you haven't linked to a single outside source to verify anything you've been saying.

Seriously dude, you're wrong. Just deal with it.

----
I can pretty much see what the GOP would do: Cut taxes on the rich and wealthy corporations, increase taxes on the middle class
The GOP won't be able to do anything because Obama will still be the president, and will be able to veto any legislation they propose.
posted by delmoi at 6:28 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"There's probably an interesting study in the rhetorical maneuver Drum's executing here, utilizing the first six words of that paragraph in service of the antithetical point which follows them, and possibly the psychology that lets it work."

What? I have no idea what you're saying here. A person can be concerned about lots of things and still have a few dealbreakers. I've seen this point made here before: I can agree with a politician on 99% of the issues, but if he's pro-puppy-killing, that's a dealbreaker, even if I still very much care about that other 99%.

I agree with Rusty, I am really surprised at the level of contempt and browbeating displayed here over even the lightest criticism of the Democrats. The framing of the whole thing as "vote (and campaign and donate) for the Dems even if you think they're corporate sellouts, because otherwise you get the evil fascist Tea Party and it will be all your fault" is problematic, and it just reminds me way too much of 2004 and the "anybody but Bush" phenomenon - nobody really seemed to want to vote for John Kerry all that much, they just really, really hated Bush. Notably, this was not a successful campaign. And it certainly doesn't seem to work on young people. I had hoped that since we learned this lesson the hard way in 04, it might stick this time (and I'd point out the same thing about having to cast a vote for Joe Lieberman in the 2000 campaign but I seriously don't want to open that can of worms - and I did grit my Lieberman-hating teeth and vote for Gore so please, nobody accuse me of being a saboteur, thanks).
posted by pikachulolita at 6:36 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The GOP won't be able to do anything because Obama will still be the president, and will be able to veto any legislation they propose.

What could possibly go wrong with this brilliant plan.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:48 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The GOP won't be able to do anything because Obama will still be the president, and will be able to veto any legislation they propose.

Maybe.

But here's what happened to me and my fellow public interest law students in 1994 --
We all wanted to work for Legal Services. That's where most of the public interest, non crim law jobs were. Unless you got a nice fellowship (and there were like three that like twenty of us were competing for at my fancy alma mater), Legal Services was where to go if you wanted to be an attorney for poor folks and weren't interested in crim law.

The Contract with America gutted Legal Services. There used to be whole offices that did nothing but defend migrant farm workers -- many of these offices were taken apart, thanks to Newt. Legal Services suffered in many other ways, as well. This means more people were evicted, lost their benefits, couldn't get health care, were denied their ability to sue for underpayment of wages or fight for their ability to organize.

These were real people who were hurt. You are gambling with similar lives -- people who are suffering and need help -- if you believe that the GOP will not gain further ability to be evil in these elections and vote accordingly.
posted by angrycat at 7:00 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


anigbrowl:

I usually don't get involved in these discussions, because I'm a reluctant voter who is neither a Democrat nor a Republican, so these intra-party connipition fits don't have a whole lot of relevance to me. But I wanted to respond to you, because while your comment is pretty well-reasoned, it doesn't seem to take into account a) that other people were listening closely to the platform instead of to their hopes, also, and b) that we're all "disappointed" or "disillusioned".

I'm neither. I never really liked Obama, I always thought he was too centrist for my taste and just-left-enough to placate the base without really being progressive. I'm not disappointed, because he hasn't performed below my expectations. I expected him to retain the motion towards unitary executive power, because no one who wants to be President is capable of giving power away. I'm not disillusioned, because he has always been financed by special interests and in league with corporate agendas. I'm not surprised, because he was never going to get Guantanamo Bay closed inside a year, and it was a fairly transparent piece of demagoguery when he said otherwise.

But I vote, because if Obama is kind of a jerk politically, those other guys are fucking assholes. So, yeah, Obama's not what I want, but he never has been, and I've never been fooled into thinking otherwise. About the only thing I'm surprised by right now is that I apparently have to stop calling myself a "progressive", because based on this and other conversations I don't agree with most of them either.

But, you know, it's ok. Around election time we always get into these unnuanced conversations, a few excellent contributors notwithstanding, and it turns into a big yelling match. I kind of like that, because at least I'm not disaffected over on that side where I'm expected to march in absolute lockstep. Anyway, I just wanted to address your implication that anyone left-leaning who doesn't like Obama is a "know-nothing". Well, maybe. I don't claim to be terribly well informed. But I got exactly the President I voted for, and I'm never going to get the President I want. If my dissatisfaction with that state of affairs bothers you, I do apologize, but rest assured, it's not because I wasn't listening; it's because I was.
posted by Errant at 7:01 PM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm in North Carolina. I fucking hate the candidates I have to vote for here. But I'm holding my nose and pulling the lever for a straight Democratic ticket. That's the best way I can think of to send the message "Anybody but those batshit Republican fucks."
posted by EarBucket at 7:10 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's ridiculous that people are still citing the GOP's obstructionism as the reason for Obama's so-called compromises on important legislation. No matter what he did or does, they oppose 100% in lock-step and attack it as socialism/communism/anti-American. So what's the point of moderating in response to the GOP? Answer: no point, unless the watered-down version was what you intended all along.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:37 PM on September 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


What could possibly go wrong with this brilliant plan.
It's not a plan. I'm just pointing out that the republicans are not going to have total control over the government if they win. Jesus.
posted by delmoi at 7:43 PM on September 28, 2010


If you want to do something about the civil liberties, if it's really a top priority for you, here's what I'd suggest:

1) First, check to see if the Republican candidate for office X presents a more credible stance of concern to you than the Democratic candidate for office X. If so, your task is simple: vote for the Republican candidate and convince as many other people as possible to do the same. If not, go to step 2.

2) Study the policy and legal issues underlying the your issue and come up with a policy position. For example, let's say you're really freaked about Anwar al-Awlaki's case because you don't like the idea of executive branch declaring a U.S. citizen a target without a trial. Study the process which the executive branch used -- how the NSC arrived at their decision, where the information came from. Recognize what the actual security/defense issues are along with the civil liberties issues. You might even have to recognize a full trial isn't a practical or even necessarily principled option for individuals hiding out in countries with no legal or practical extradition options. Come up with another review process that preserves the security/defense powers of the executive branch and lets them solve the kinds of problems they're trying to solve by targeting al-Awlaki and yet also preserves due protections for citizens... probably something like a court of review where a rep of the NSC would present their case against a citizen that is for whatever reason beyond the reach of the law. OK, so, now you have a policy. Go to step #3a or #3b.

3a) Now you have to build support and lobby for it. So you're going to have to talk about it, you're going to have to advocate for it, you're going to have organize with people you persuade, you're going to have to find and join forces with the people who already agree with you, and as a group you're going to have to talk to congressional staff (probably starting with offices where your ideas are more likely to find welcome reception) and figure out some way or another to get the attention of the executive branch if possible... and this is going to take a lot of time and possibly some money. Possibly a lot of money, because it can help pay for people's time and for broadcast communication and lawyers and campaign funds for primary candidates who already share your views. But a lot of time. Particularly while you (1) try to convince people that you're serious, that you're worth listening to, and that you might actually build up some clout and (2) try to bring together a bunch of people who want something that's close enough to what you want that they're willing to talk to you but are also convinced that something that you don't want is essential. Or, alternatively...

3b) If you're fairly certain that you're fighting against something that will lose in court (and you should probably get a more professional opinion on that than your own likely limited recollection of a handful of phrases from the constitution), and you don't care that you're essentially polarizing the fight and galvanizing the people you want to persuade to change against you, you can always try to raise a lot of money and give it to lawyers who will file lawsuits for you. You may even win. If not, maybe it will help you with 3a-1.

Of course, this is a pretty big investment. It is considerably less comfortable than griping on the internet and boiling down your candidates to a small set of issues you're decisive about and deciding you find both unacceptable and abdicating your vote. And unlike that course of action, it doesn't have a guaranteed outcome.

But on the other hand, it has a better chance of working than holding your breath for the candidate/party that agrees with everything that's important to you (and can win a plurality).
posted by namespan at 7:58 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Get out there and found a super-duper Progressive Party, and show us how it should be done. I'm not holding my breath.

- Good morning. I am a sales representative from Encyclopedia Democratica. Would you like to purchase the new edition of our fine enycylopedia?

- I bought the previous edition. It didn't have any articles on the subjects I needed.

- We ask that you purchase this new edition.

- Does it have any new articles?

- No. But it's very important that you don't buy an encyclopedia from our competitor.

- That doesn't give me a reason to buy one from you.

- Look, do you think it's possible to have articles on everything? On all your special little pet interests?

- No. But these were basic, important subjects. And some of the articles it did have were wrong in obvious ways.

- I suppose you think you could do better. Go ahead and try. I'll enjoy the laugh.

-----

Of course, the Democrats aren't trying to make a sale. They're claiming property.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:09 PM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


The GOP won't be able to do anything because Obama will still be the president, and will be able to veto any legislation they propose.

they can always refuse to fund things - or to pass legislation he won't veto - and if they get control of the house, that's exactly what they're going to do
posted by pyramid termite at 8:11 PM on September 28, 2010


namespan: an honest question for you. With both political parties firmly in favour of targetted assassinations of US citizens, do you realistically have the expectation that your plan would have even the tiniest chance of achieving anything?

Can you give us some other example of citizens influencing the government in foreign policy matters away from a bipartisan consensus? Because I can't think of even one.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:14 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


namespan: an honest question for you. With both political parties firmly in favour of targetted assassinations of US citizens, do you realistically have the expectation that your plan would have even the tiniest chance of achieving anything?

The reason I harp on the al-Awlaki case is because I can not accept that we have reached the point where intelligent, sensitive liberals like ourselves are arguing over whether we are sufficiently supportive of a Democratic President who is trying to execute an American citizen without trial. Whether refusal to support such a President makes us a single-issue voter. What insanity is this?

If this is not the hill to die on, what is?
posted by Joe Beese at 8:43 PM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


I gotta get into these posts earlier so I can use my SUMMON JOE BEESE joke.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:44 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite: "they can always refuse to fund things - or to pass legislation he won't veto - and if they get control of the house, that's exactly what they're going to do"

And in the event they win the House and Senate, I wouldn't be surprised if they proceeded to pass endless extremist and/or frivolous bills for Obama to veto, just so their media machine could kick up the "those inflexible contrarians are obstructing the change we were elected to provide" narrative that was so conspicuously absent the last twenty months. In fact, the laws of American political comedy/horror almost requires it.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:50 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Let me set the scene here: the President just completed a long interview with Jann Wenner. He left the room. Then a minute later, concerned that the hippie may be left standing, he comes back in the room to deliver the knockout punch.

So here's the deal: I happen to think having meaningful debates is a good thing (tm), that people in power do get into this rulers' bubble and that it's important for the ruled to demonstrate where the rulers get things wrong. Disagreement is a good thing; intra-party democracy is critical for any democratic nation's health. Nazis can have their purity tests.

I also read through the interview, and actually found it be a rather indulgent towards the progressives' opposition towards Obama. What I don't understand is the passive-aggressive self-flaggellation for things Obama did not do: he did not "knockout" a hippie, he was asking you all to go out there and vote. Why is that a bad thing? How did that become controversial?

Essentially, I'm trying to differentiate between liberal opposition to Obama (á la Krugman, for example) and liberal _hate_ (such as here) I get opposition, I don't understand all the hate.

And I absolutely and totally don't get the cynicism at all.
posted by the cydonian at 8:55 PM on September 28, 2010


Of course, this is a pretty big investment. It is considerably less comfortable than griping on the internet and boiling down your candidates to a small set of issues you're decisive about and deciding you find both unacceptable and abdicating your vote. And unlike that course of action, it doesn't have a guaranteed outcome.

Don't assume everyone griping about it on the internet is not doing anything in real life. Personally I spend many hours a week working for issues I care about. That's what makes the whole thing especially frustrating -- when democrats not only work against my ideals, but cause me setbacks.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:06 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think we can all understand how choosing not to buy any encyclopedia at all is exactly the same as not voting for anyone at all.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:27 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a non american all I can say is that it's sad when the most compelling reason to vote for someone is that he's not the other guy.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:30 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


"And I absolutely and totally don't get the cynicism at all."

Yes, I certainly can't imagine why anyone would ever become the least bit cynical about American politics.

Sarcasm aside, I really don't see much hate for Obama here, the cydonian - just a lot of disappointment and frustration, and yes, some criticism. That doesn't equal hate. If anything, it seems the people defending the Dems are making more of the angry ad-hominem attacks in this thread, what with the "fee-fees" and "whiners" and "brownshirts" and "two year olds" and what have you.

More generally, I also think there's an unfortunate conflation of "being a good Democrat" and "voting for people who aren't assholes" going on here. Despite all the accusations of "letting the tea party win" (shades of "you're either with us or against us"), I didn't see a single person upthread say that they weren't going to vote at all. A few people said they left the Democratic Party, but nobody I can see actually said that they were taking their ball and going home. They just said they didn't support the party anymore and that they were disappointed with Obama & congress. Is that really such a terrible crime? Why not take it up with the other 40% of America that doesn't vote?

I know the Nader thing has been done to death here, but since so many people want to make that analogy and say that it will be the leftmost critics' fault when the Dems lose, I think it bears repeating: the bottom line is that it was Bush voters who elected Bush, just as it will be Tea Party voters who will elect the Tea Party. With only ~60% turnout on a good day, this is simply not a zero-sum game. Look at 2008 - tons of new voters came out to the polls because they were actually excited about Obama, not just hating the other guys. But if we've given up on attracting new people and expanding the base, and we really think our best hope is simply to browbeat people who already largely agree with us into toeing the party line, then we are going to lose. Just like in 2004.

Jeez, sometimes I really do wish there were more actual conservatives on MeFi. I feel like some peoples' anger at conservatives is being taken out on the lefties in this thread because they're the only Obama critics within shouting distance.
posted by pikachulolita at 9:51 PM on September 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Personally I spend many hours a week working for issues I care about. That's what makes the whole thing especially frustrating -- when democrats not only work against my ideals, but cause me setbacks.

Yeah. I'm not volunteering this year, but this was part of the reason I spent little time on Mefi when I volunteered in 2004 (lurker) and 2008.

The other part was, I was working my ass off to elect the better of two alternatives.

No, I wasn't working to elect Perfect-Green-Party-Jesus-On-Earth or The Mahdi or King Arthur. Just someone better than the guys who would get us into wars of choice (instead of not getting us out of them fast enough), who would open Guantanamo (instead of not closing it), who encouraged fear and hate of gays and blacks and Muslims for personal gain. Yes, I'm pissed off about Obama's "I can't believe it's not Bushie!" record on civil liberties. But no, hell no, we are not going to be better off with Jim DeMint and Suntan Boehner running things.

I'm sorry guys, my heart is with the Great Rejectors of playing along with an inadequate Tweedledum-Tweedledee status quo. I want to sing old Wobbly songs with you and to hell with the DLC and the DNC. (And I'm giving direct to candidates, not to the Party.)

But my mind knows that every additional Republican elected will be yet another plank supporting the lie that America doesn't want health care reform, or civil liberties, or progressivism. A lie we'll hear for the next two years, as everything policy we care about is voted down inm the name of the Republican "mandate".

Please, guys! Don't do this to us, don't do this to yourself, don't do this to America. Get out and work for the decent Democrats. But when you send money and volunteer, and each time you do, make sure you tell the volunteer coordinator that you're doing it for progressivism, not the Democratic Party.

But don't sit this election and allow the lie, that America wants teabaggery, to win.
posted by orthogonality at 9:59 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sometimes, that's all we've got.
posted by wv kay in ga at 10:13 PM on September 28, 2010


"I wouldn't be surprised if they proceeded to pass endless extremist and/or frivolous bills for Obama to veto, just so their media machine could kick up the "those inflexible contrarians are obstructing the change we were elected to provide" narrative that was so conspicuously absent the last twenty months."

Interesting point, Rhaomi - but then why haven't the Democrats been able to do the same thing? Surely, the Republicans right now are the very definition of inflexible contrarians. So why doesn't this strategy work for the Democrats like you predict it would work for the Republicans?

Orthogonality - I totally agree, and despite leaving the Democratic party proper, I'll still be more than happy to work to re-elect Ron Wyden and Earl Blumenauer here in Oregon (and, I hope, John Kitzhaber). I also really, really appreciate that you framed this as an appeal and not an admonishment.

I guess I'm just disheartened that so many people here seem to take even the slightest criticism of the administration as a high crime and an abdication of "duty". Surely, we can work for the principles we believe in and still criticize our politicians, who are flawed just like everybody else. Criticism and dissent are essential to democracy, and I find it disturbing how many people are advising the critics to basically lie back and think of England just because there's an election coming up. I think it is possible to be generally disenchanted with our political and economic systems, and yet still work to elect those few who you believe do represent you (Bernie Sanders!, Feingold, Merkley, Boxer, etc).
posted by pikachulolita at 10:43 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


600 Nader voters cost 1,033,000 Iraqis their lives.

Oh man that is just complete and total b.s., and I voted for Gore. It really is.

For starters, Gore won Florida in 2000: it's clear beyond a reasonable doubt that had the votes been properly counted in that state he would have won, and furthermore that GOP operatives rigged the election (through the famous "felon rolls" and other tactics) in that state.

Secondly, what about the 2002 Iraq War Resolution? WTF does Nader have to do with the 82 Dem House and 29 Dem Senate "aye" votes that got us into that war?
posted by existential hobo at 10:47 PM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


"If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we'd better fight in this election"

For those of you in this thread for which questions about Habeas Corpus, due process, warrant-less wiretapping are academic -- I am happy for you.

For some of us [aclu.org] -- like my brother -- Obama's choice to extend and defend the extraordinary claims made by the previous executive branch about limits to civil liberties are a bit more than disappointing. He is lucky though - being effectively exiled is far better than being tortured, kidnapped, or held in Bagram/Guantanamo. My brother fully understands that Obama / Dems are a better choice than the GOP. His absentee ballot will make it back to the polling place, even if he is denied the same chance.

Just don't go telling him not to whine.
posted by akash at 10:53 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can you give us some other example of citizens influencing the government in foreign policy matters away from a bipartisan consensus? Because I can't think of even one.

Not one? Who do you think is running the country? Foreigners? Reptilian shape shifters? Everything this country does is driven by citizen involvement.

I think you're right that we're not going to get away from targeted assassinations of citizens who behave as al-Awlaki allegedly does. I think that if you want to make the case that the United States government should be purely restricted to judicial/law enforcement actions against people who are both outside the reach of those institutions who are more or less making war against the U.S., then yes, you are unlikely to get much traction with anybody trying to govern and possibly with a large portion of the citizenry and therefore, by extension, not within a majority party (and in that case, the rational response is to factor it out while you're making choices between the platform and candidates of each party, possibly while you're busy building another one).

But I think if you want to make the case for a hybrid approach where there's judicial review of NSC decisions on U.S. citizens in al-Awlaki's alleged position in order to make sure it's more than alleged and give a kind of due process in absentia, then yes, not only do I think it's something you could sell, not only do I think it has a chance of succeeding, I think it is the best chance of succeeding. Not a sure bet by any means, maybe not even odds, actually, but orders of magnitude beyond abandoning the Democrats in favor of trying to build any other third party up to plurality-winning status.

If this is not the hill to die on, what is?

Thing is, Joe, you don't seem to be gearing up for a fight, you seem to be fixin' to die.

In fact, unless you've got a helluva previously unveiled plan in between "abandon engagement with the Democrats" and "civil liberties magically strengthened in some unspecified way", one could argue that for all your dramatic statements and mawkish capering over the issue, you don't seem to actually care about it enough to really think much about how to address the issue.
posted by namespan at 11:29 PM on September 28, 2010


pikachulolita: "Interesting point, Rhaomi - but then why haven't the Democrats been able to do the same thing? Surely, the Republicans right now are the very definition of inflexible contrarians. So why doesn't this strategy work for the Democrats like you predict it would work for the Republicans?"

The Democrats, and progressives in general, simply don't have the kind of coordinated, top-down media messaging apparatus that the Republicans have. It's a travesty, but Fox News is the most-watched and most-trusted news network in the country, and along with talk radio, Drudge, and a constellation of pundits (and the rest of the media's willingness to follow the most controversial story, no matter how specious), they have become adept at creating and propagating their chosen narratives.

So, millions protest the Iraq invasion in 2003 and immigration law in 2006, literally breaking world records? A blip on the radar. A few tens of thousands show up on the National Mall in a protest funded and organized by billionaire conservative astroturf groups? It becomes the centerpiece of a heavily coordinated promotional campaign that continues to this day that the media treats as a spontaneous phenomenon. Or take parallel votes on military funding. When congressional Democrats voted down the GOP-backed funding bill in favor of versions that included a timeline for withdrawal, they were castigated in the press for "voting against the troops." But when Republicans actively filibustered a similar bill last year -- and explicitly admitted that they were doing so just to throw a monkey wrench into the healthcare reform legislation being considered at the same time -- there was hardly a peep.

The left does have its own media power base in the "netroots" (a medium that's being rapidly appropriated by conservatives through sites like Drudge and Brietbart), but as this discussion and others like it demonstrate, they're frustratingly fractious and disunited, and usually not much match for the right-wing media machine. We're on an unlevel playing field, basically, due to the corporate nature of the mainstream media, its dedication to sensationalism, and its desire to escape the "liberal media" label that it's been saddled with. I really don't know what the answer is.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:42 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"they sentenced me to twenty years of boredom for trying to change the system from within"

(Leonard Cohen)
posted by philip-random at 11:51 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the Obama/Rahm message was "vote for us because you know the Teahaddists are worst," I could handle that. But this constant message of "eat your shit sandwich and enjoy it you dirty hippie, oh, and vote for us" is not only offensive, but also tactically retarded.

FWIW, I'm sending off my absentee ballot next week -- straight up Dem votes all the way.

Just wish I had some mouthwash. I sure don't like to eat shit sandwiches, not matter how often I try thanks to this administration. Hope me, Obama! Teach me to love your stinky, fetid shit sandwiches! What am I doing wrong!
posted by bardic at 12:20 AM on September 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Has anybody else here noted that what the Republicans are trying to acheive is quite simple and easy to implement, whereas what the Democrats are trying to achieve is difficult? In both cases, there is always the difficulty of passing legislation, but a good chunk of the implementation for the Republicans is based primarily on reduction and destruction (lower taxes, fire people and dismantle regulatory bodies, strike laws off the books), whereas the Democrats are trying to create and to build things. Starting a war is dead simple, and easy to deliver to your electorate. Ending it, much harder. Research, development, switching to clean energy - a very difficult task. Opening the 1000th offshore drilling platform? Pretty easy.
posted by molecicco at 12:29 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The time's they are a changing. Don't you listen? Can't you hear? Right Left, Progressive Conservative, Tea Party, Schmee Party, The Market, the Command, they have died and not yet fallen . Please see this by Barry Ritholtz (second article.) Nader (whom I proudly voted for in 2000) has been saying this for twenty years. He's not running this year, or in 1212 , or I'd vote for him again. Now someone who chose not to listen twenty years back, is saying it again. Twenty years later. There's a battle outside thats ragin', that'll soon break your windows and rattle your walls, for the times they are a changin'. Much as it hurts, we're going to have to think. I could say it, but it would just be one more whine bite from a grouse. Go read Ritholtz. Your grandchildren's future depends on you getting this through your head. soon enough to act. Think, then act.
posted by carping demon at 1:06 AM on September 29, 2010


Errant, I am absolutely fine with your dissatisfaction and the way you have expressed it. I often feel the same way. Indeed, here's a list of things that disappoint me about Obama and the party as a whole, in no particular order: lack of commitment to gay rights, from DADT to marriage; lack of promised transparency in developing the healthcare bill, and a weak effort at selling it to the public; avoiding a decision on relocating Guantanamo prisoners; lack of clear goals, standards, a clear vision for the stimulus plan, which could have been a rallying point for a renewed national purpose; retrogressive drug policy, failure to articulate a credible immigration reform policy. And quite a few other things.

I don't think the man or the party should have any immunity from criticism - and all I can do is talk about it, because I'm not a citizen yet and so I can't even vote - I can only attempt to persuade. Luckily I can also see successes worth pointing to: rebuilding diplomatic relations, a muscular approach to education reform, despite the cost in political capital; a healthcare reform bill that at least establishes a federal level regulatory framework and has well-defined goals; good use of technology in making government more accessible, a distinct improvement in administrative standards. And quite a few other things.

When I refer to someone being a know-nothing, I am certainly not thinking of independent voters, or people who lean in some particular direction, but aren't experts on electoral strategy or don't have detailed knowledge on all the various policy issues. The people I'm thinking of are the ones who insist up and down that they are the true heart and soul of the Democratic party, the most progressive people ever, take credit for every good thing that the left has ever done for America...but who have a poor grasp of economics, history, strategy or the workings of government, are not interested in revising their views about anything, and whose criticisms of Obama tend to be superficial rather than substantive. The sort of people who say he's no better than Bush, refuse to acknowledge he' or his party have achieved anything at all, and instantly reach for the most loaded terms on hand. Like I said, all those hyperbolic complaints in my post ('Darth Obama', 'the fascist takeover is complete', 'corpocrat') above were actual characterizations from people who claim to be the living embodiment of progressivism.

Nobody has to be a 'rah-rah' cheerleader - such uncritical support tends to just set of BS detectors, and for good reason. If I'm talking politics with someone and they say 'Obama...meh,' then I'm very interested in hearing where they think he went wrong. I can have cordial arguments all day, as long as the person is willing to support their assertions with facts and consider other viewpoints. Chances are that I will learn something from such an exchange, if nothing else. But that kind of debate is a far cry from continual paranoid grumbling and derision of pragmatism, griping about the guy for literally years on end and then yelping about 'hippie punching':

One closing remark that I want to make: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we've got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.

As Firedoglake comments:

Let me set the scene here: the President just completed a long interview with Jann Wenner. He left the room. Then a minute later, concerned that the hippie may be left standing, he comes back in the room to deliver the knockout punch.


This is not just a dishonest characterization of a good tough interview (props to RS & Wenner), it's stupid and sophomoric. It goes on:

Where to begin? First: civil liberties? You want to go there? Seriously?

Second: the President is confusing a couple things. He thinks that people who don’t necessarily get enthusiastic over his brand of politics are “taking their ball and going home.” Well, no, maybe they just don’t think he can accomplish any of the goals they hold dear. Maybe they think he’s actively in the way of those goals.

Actually, nobody thinks any one thing. I’m not going to make the same mistake of the President in painting the whole base with the same broad brush. I just continue to marvel at the chutzpah of someone saying that inappropriate fealty to him equals something inexcusable or irresponsible. Really, dude? That’s your strategy? There are ways to lay out the stakes of an election in very stark terms – part of which Obama does here – without this tone of “I can’t stand you, now go vote for me.”


Who does this President think he is? The President? The nerve of this man!
posted by anigbrowl at 1:44 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I simply don't vote for politicians who escalate wars, and disregard cherished protections of our civil liberties. I don't care what party they are part of. We get the government we deserve. Choosing who I vote for is part of the political game. You don't earn votes by saying "hey at least we're not those guys". And all this hand-waving and "but if you don't vote for Dems you vote for Republicans" shit is just that, shit, bullshit. We have elections every two years in this country so stfu with the apocalyptic scenario crap that the country is going over a cliff if Republicans win a majority in either house of Congress. We fucking survived Bush, we'll survive that. Go defend Obama to your loyal little Democrat friends. Loyalty is overrated and dangerous if you ask me, but you didn't, just keep hurlin' those zingers O, I'm sure it make people vote for Dems.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:17 AM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nader (whom I proudly voted for in 2000)

Are you still proud? You have every right to feel whatever you want to, but, really? The Nader who called Gore and Bush Coke and Pepsi? I'm curious about how you feel now, because, don't you think now that the Coke and Pepsi line was dangerous hogwash?

We fucking survived Bush, we'll survive that.

A lot of Iraqis didn't. Fewer, but still many, U.S. soldiers didn't. And regardless of the spinelessness of the Democrats who voted for the Iraq war, as we know very well now, Bush wanted to invade Iraq before 9/11 (and therefore before most Dems would have supported it).

If you want argue that we would have had the Iraq war -- or how it was horribly managed -- under Gore, you're not reading your history.
posted by angrycat at 5:36 AM on September 29, 2010


"As Firedoglake comments . . . He left the room. Then a minute later, concerned that the hippie may be left standing, he comes back in the room to deliver the knockout punch."

Yeah, but Firedoglake have been a bunch of ignorant, politically-naive, self-defeating fools, ever since Obama won. Hell... they're *still* upset Hillary didn't get the nod.

The number of times I have seen them criticizing the POTUS for not wasting his political capital on issues that he could not win is redonkulous. They completely overlook the fact that passing legislation only happens nowadays if you can bribe that 60th vote... the one which is invariably in the back pocket of some special interest or another.

Hell... they called for scrapping healthcare reform entirely, apparently oblivious to thousands of people who will die without it, or the rights of all of us to have certain consumer protections from the healthcare industry that would be a given in any other major western nation in the world.

Really... they wanted more Americans to die for healthcare? They wanted continued consumer exploitation? Who needs them?!

"I'd agree that not contributing or voting will elect brownshirts who'll put corporations in control, keep healthcare unaffordable, continue wrecking the economy, etc. Yet. . . I'd rather let evil laws get passed by people who history will remember as evil."

Like Nixon? Or Reagan? Or even Joseph McCarthy?!

My advice to you:
1> Never underestimate the extent to which the right wing is willing to justify villainy and criminal behavior. Within a few years of Bush Jr.'s death, he will likely be praised as being the first POTUS to take the neverending War on Terror -- the one that the Republicans helped fabricate and perpetuate -- seriously. McCarthy and Bush, Jr. must be praised, because, from their point-of-view, it's politically wise to keep this country locked in a perpetual state of fear of others. It gets them vote, and it's good for the military-industrial complex's business. It perpetuates all of their favorite bureaucracies and plays to their political strengths.

2> Government *always* changes slower than we'd like. Sometimes, change is simply a matter of waiting for social factors to change, science to advance, and old bigots to die.

3> Never for a second think that choosing the lesser of two evils isn't a choice well worth making.. *especially* if it keeps the brownshirts out of power. If Bush, Jr. showed us anything, it showed us that all you get out of allowing the mainstreaming of brownshirts is their ideas seriously raised to the level of the national dialog, rather than dismissed out-of-hand as being evil.

4> In truth, outside the efforts you make in your own life to advance society, choosing between the lesser of two evils is probably the only choice you really get in shaping this country's future.
posted by markkraft at 5:43 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Democrats hate their base.

The Republicans fear theirs.

This is why the Republicans keep winning. Maybe not the elections every time, but their policies keep winning. They set the agenda. They set the rules. Reagan set the general trajectory of the United States 30 years ago, and it's just kept going that way ever since. Growing inequality, income stagnation or decline for everybody except the people on top, devastation of working people under the banner of "free trade", a fraying physical infrastructure and social safety net... And the Democratic Party seems to be a-ok with it all.

The Democrats have been playing "me-too" for most of my life at this point, vying to become the party of the Washington Consensus and trying to leave behind the legacy of FDR and LBJ. While Republican movements - grassroots or at the very top of the party - seem to revolve around becoming more authentically conservative, Democrats at the top seem to try every trick they can think of to run away from their past and their base. Note how Republicans don't seem to need to "triangulate" or "move to the center". Note how Republicans don't seem to require 60 votes in the Senate to get things done, while just about everything the Democratic base wants mysteriously requires that darn filibuster-proof majority which is just impossible to get. You can almost see the crocodile tears from Party leadership. The Democrats never run out of excuses to explain themselves - they don't march in lockstep, it's Fox News and Glenn Beck, it's those lefties who won't grow up. Different villains every time they get in trouble, but they all have one thing in common - it's never them.

Well, maybe it's time for a different explanation. Maybe it's not that there's an array of boogeymen preventing, say, Rahm Emanuel from embracing his inner FDR. Maybe that inner FDR just isn't there.
posted by jhandey at 6:33 AM on September 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


If Bush, Jr. showed us anything, it showed us that all you get out of allowing the mainstreaming of brownshirts is their ideas seriously raised to the level of the national dialog, rather than dismissed out-of-hand as being evil.

Exactly why Obama placing the seal of bipartisanship on the terror state makes him more damaging than Bush was.

=====

Transcript of The Sean Hannity Show - March 20, 2013

HANNITY: Once again it is my great pleasure to welcome to the show the President of the United States of America.

PALIN: You know I can't stay away from you for long, Sean.

HANNITY: You're making me blush, Madame President. The story everyone is talking about this week. The targeted killing of Michael Moore as he addressed an audience of students at the University of Michigan. What would you like to tell the American people about that?

PALIN: I'm afraid that there are many things about it that I can't say. You know, because of national security. But I can say that we received information that proved beyond any doubt that he was an enemy of our great country. Immediate action was necessary to protect innocent American lives. So, as the President has to do sometimes, I made the hard decision.

HANNITY: Some of your critics on the radical left have claimed the killing was retribution for the film he made about you during the 2012 campaign.

PALIN: Oh my. The Wicked Witch of the North? I don't have time to watch silly nonsense like that.

HANNITY: Some asked why not arrest Moore and put him on trial rather than killing him?

PALIN: Again, Sean, you know, national security. We couldn't risk compromising some highly secret and extremely valuable intelligence gathering tools.

HANNITY: I understand completely.

PALIN: I don't recall any of these Monday morning quarterbacks complaining when it was their President who did it first. Do you?

HANNITY: No, Madame President. I certainly don't.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:19 AM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Register to vote.
posted by erikvan at 7:37 AM on September 29, 2010


Joe, I have a theory, you might find it offensive, but I'm wondering:

Do you have an idea that in fact civil war is pretty fucking nigh and therefore let's get evil elected so that we can form a rag-tag band of rebels and overthrow it?

Because that's the only way your homily works out. Otherwise, you're comparing the guy who supports acts of murder to an annoying leftist documentarian who, as far as i know, is a pacifist. Which, I mean, interesting thought exercise, but why?
posted by angrycat at 8:04 AM on September 29, 2010


Sorry, that came out more snarky than intended, although there was a sincere wish to know in there with the snark.

The snark comes 'cause I see a bunch of folks who seem to believe that elections don't matter, and it's hard for me to believe that anybody is in that head space; it leaves me super-duper bummed.

There's wildly differing poll numbers in the NY race for gov. The reason for the difference is because one poll (the one that says Dr. Evil is six points behind Cuomo) takes into account the apathy of the leftist electorate. The other, that says that Dr. Evil is THIRTY THREE POINTS behind Cuomo, does not take into account this apathy.

That I'm seeing ample evidence of this apathy makes me worry that first poll is closer to what the truth is, and that is fucking scary.
posted by angrycat at 8:18 AM on September 29, 2010


so stfu with the apocalyptic scenario crap that the country is going over a cliff if Republicans win a majority in either house of Congress. We fucking survived Bush, we'll survive that.

One million Iraqis didn't survive Bush. I hope the purity patrol remembers the lesson of 2000.

And no, I won't shut the fuck up as you suggest. Not when lives are at stake.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:29 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Note how Republicans don't seem to require 60 votes in the Senate to get things done, while just about everything the Democratic base wants mysteriously requires that darn filibuster-proof majority which is just impossible to get.

That's because Republicans don't want anything but to stop liberals. Doesn't take any votes for that. The only purpose is to elect the majority leader and stop legislation from going through.

What's the signature Bush accomplishment, domestically? A prescription drug benefit and No Child Left Behind. They had to practically bribe their own people to vote for the drug benefit. Delay illegally held the vote open after time expired to get enough GOP votes. Liberals voted for both items in droves because they are Dem bills.

The filibuster doesn't mean shit to them because they don't want to pass anything.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:43 AM on September 29, 2010


One million Iraqis didn't survive Bush. I hope the purity patrol remembers the lesson of 2000.

I think your lesson and my lesson about 2000 are different lessons. My lesson is when obvious and incontrovertible voter fraud takes place, Democrats (in this case Gore) roll over an play dead.

Not when lives are at stake.

Whose lives are at stake precisely? Are you claiming more Iraqis will die if Republicans win seats in the 2010 midterms?
posted by existential hobo at 8:49 AM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whose lives are at stake precisely? Are you claiming more Iraqis will die if Republicans win seats in the 2010 midterms?

Iranians
Yemenese
Palestinians
more Iraqis
Somalis

take your pick
posted by angrycat at 9:05 AM on September 29, 2010


oh and Americans (health care, poverty)
posted by angrycat at 9:06 AM on September 29, 2010


PALIN: I don't recall any of these Monday morning quarterbacks complaining when it was their President who did it first. Do you?

What, exactly, do you want me to do, Joe? Who would you like me to vote for?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:12 AM on September 29, 2010


What's the signature Bush accomplishment, domestically?

Depends on what you mean by "accomplishment". If you're talking about "new domestic social program", not a lot (partially because that's not the mission of the 21st century GOP) - but if you mean deregulation, tax cuts, infringements upon civil liberties, and endless wars, just to name a few, the Republicans certainly have gotten a lot done. And if you extend your view to before 2000, it becomes even more obvious just how completely the GOP has succeeded in reorienting American politics to the right. With the often-enthusiastic cooperation of the Democratic Party ("the era of big government is over", "welfare reform", NAFTA, etc...).

I'm just curious why it's such an immature thing to notice the gap between rhetoric and results, why we generally don't hear the Republican leadership channeling Rahm Emanuel and saying "____ the U.S. Chamber of Commerce" or "____ the NRA" or otherwise Sister Souljah-ing the Republican base the way the Democratic leadership loves to, and why it's been the Republicans who've been able to set the agenda for three decades.
posted by jhandey at 9:28 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look I dislike the GOP agenda with every fibre of my being, but it just stupid, hysterical, annoying and misleading to claim that voting for Dems this Fall will literally save the lives of Iranians, Yemenese, Palestinians, Iraqis, and Somalis. Unless you have a crystal ball, there's no way of knowing this, and it's just the worst kind propaganda to indulge in this kind of trolling. I'm all for hearing good, reasoned arguments about why we should all vote Dem, but this is just granbdstanding nonsense.
posted by existential hobo at 9:28 AM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


and why it's been the Republicans who've been able to set the agenda for three decades.

Its called party unity. Whereas even when our left wing loses an internal battle, they keep on sniping. The GOP sticks together like glue, ever since Reagan's California rule.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:39 AM on September 29, 2010


One million Iraqis didn't survive Bush.

one million iraqis didn't survive clinton, either

gore was bound to continue the war against iraq, if elected - yes, that's right, bush jr didn't start that war, he escalated it

the certainty with which people say that gore wouldn't have escalated it, too, is amazing to me

especially when his party voted overwhelmingly to do it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:47 AM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Its called party unity.

So what Democrats need to do is suppress internal dissent (implicitly from the left, of course), and then they'll get to set the agenda? That assumes that the true progressive agenda of the party leadership is somehow being held back by Dennis Kucinich and Arianna Huffington.

But the left simply doesn't have a whole lot of power with the Democrats - nowhere near as much as the right does in the GOP. I only wish Kucinich or Bernie Sanders or DailyKos or whoever were so powerful. And I'd also be curious to know whether centrist Democrats should stop sniping on those rare occasions when they lose to the left, or whether its just the left who should roll over automatically because, well, they're the left.
posted by jhandey at 9:54 AM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


especially when his party voted overwhelmingly to do it

i misspoke - democrats were against it in the house 126 - 86, but passed it in the senate 29 -21

still, that's not an impressive opposition
posted by pyramid termite at 9:54 AM on September 29, 2010


And I'd also be curious to know whether centrist Democrats should stop sniping on those rare occasions when they lose to the left, or whether its just the left who should roll over automatically because, well, they're the left.

You bet your ass they should. Hence my hatred for the DLC.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:20 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


gore was bound to continue the war against iraq, if elected - yes, that's right, bush jr didn't start that war, he escalated it

the certainty with which people say that gore wouldn't have escalated it, too, is amazing to me

especially when his party voted overwhelmingly to do it


That's because on September 25, 2002, Gore gave a speech at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco explicitly condemning the Iraq war before it happened and before the vote.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:22 AM on September 29, 2010


Its called party unity.

So what Democrats need to do is suppress internal dissent (implicitly from the left, of course), and then they'll get to set the agenda?


You wonder aloud why the GOP can wield so much power. And that's because they are united. One House member voted for the HCR bill the first time around. And he voted against it the second time. Every GOP Senate member voted against that bill. They got two votes on the stimulus and one or two on the financial reform bill.

They are united. They realize that they get more done together. So its really rich when people stab dems in the back and then complain about how the GOP "gets everything done." Its because of this rule:

Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:29 AM on September 29, 2010


yes, that's right, bush jr didn't start that war, he escalated it

Bush invaded Iraq and took it over. The Dems bombed a few radar stations once in a while. That is what we call "false equivalence."

Nice try, though.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:31 AM on September 29, 2010


That's because on September 25, 2002, Gore gave a speech at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco explicitly condemning the Iraq war before it happened and before the vote.

where was he during the sanctions? - in the vice presidential office, going along with them

what someone says out of office, when he doesn't have to worry about being re-elected or having the responsibility of actually doing something as a statesman about a problem, is not necessarily an indication of what he would have done in office
posted by pyramid termite at 10:33 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hate to be the guy that, you know, actually cites TFA, but:

One of the things that you realize when you're in my seat is that, typically, the issues that come to my desk — there are no simple answers to them. Usually what I'm doing is operating on the basis of a bunch of probabilities: I'm looking at the best options available based on the fact that there are no easy choices. If there were easy choices, somebody else would have solved it, and it wouldn't have come to my desk.

That's true for financial regulatory reform, that's true on Afghanistan, that's true on how we deal with the terrorist threat. On all these issues, you've got a huge number of complex factors involved. When you're sitting outside and watching, you think, "Well, that sounds simple," and you can afford to operate on the basis of your ideological predispositions. What I'm trying to do — and certainly what we've tried to do in our economic team — is to keep a North Star out there: What are the core principles we're abiding by?


So, let's take a quick poll: how many of you out there have actually had experience serving in a state senate? How about the US senate? How about as president? I submit that all of us have had NO IDEA exactly what considerations, in total, had to go into the Obama administration's actions. Sure, no one knows about your special snowflake special interest agenda better than you do, but in truth, you really have no claim to a knowledgeable opinion about what the congressional agenda should or should not be on balance and in total.

This is not about outsourcing your beliefs to some stooge who can sit in state or US congressional procedural sessions while you watch Mad Men or buy/play with Apple products. This is about putting someone's butt in a seat to do a job that you are fundamentally unqualified for. Because you trust their judgment - not because you simply need some political proxy/Igor to do your bidding.

It is to the President's unending credit that he thinks enough of his people (not just his lefty constituents) to tell us, point blank, that these are hard problems. How often did the last administration communicate anything even remotely approaching that?

Fundamentally, what Obama is doing is about as far away from "sit down and eat your shit sandwich" as you can get. We're being kept in the loop - that some people don't like what they're hearing and interpret that as "sit down and shut up" is an indictment of their own Ptolemic sense of self, full stop.

Here's more, regarding climate change:

During the past two years, we've not made as much progress as I wanted to make when I was sworn into office. It is very hard to make progress on these issues in the midst of a huge economic crisis, because the natural inclination around the world is to say, "You know what? That may be a huge problem, but right now what's a really big problem is 10 percent unemployment," or "What's a really big problem is that our businesses can't get loans." That diverted attention from what I consider to be an urgent priority. The House of Representatives made an attempt to deal with the issue in a serious way. It wasn't perfect, but it was serious. We could not get 60 votes for a comparable approach in the Senate.

Avoiding another Great Depression comes before fixing health care comes before dealing with climate change which comes before DADT. I LIKE that this man is saying this out loud, and I LIKE that these issues are being dealt with systematically and in terms of priority - even imperfectly.

Brass tacks: I don't have my political fantasy team in place, but I trust this president and his judgment (which includes the people he brings in and THEIR judgment) more than any president in my lifetime. I don't see a better person for the job at this time, and even if I did, I certainly wouldn't waste my vote on them if their impact on the process is, at best, teaching my ideological colleagues the lesson that they ignore or de-prioritize my specific concerns at their peril.

More:

What is true, and this is part of what can frustrate folks, is that over the past 20 months, we made a series of decisions that were focused on governance, and sometimes there was a conflict between governance and politics. So there were some areas where we could have picked a fight with Republicans that might have gotten our base feeling good, but would have resulted in us not getting legislation done.

That's exactly the right choice. God bless Barack Obama. Seriously.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:33 AM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


where was he during the sanctions? - in the vice presidential office, going along with them

Really? No sanctions, no war, how are you going to help anyone in the world if you can't do anything to hurt countries that do wrong?

Seriously, just becasue I thought the Iraq war was wrong doesn't make me Saddam's best buddy.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:44 AM on September 29, 2010


Note how Republicans don't seem to require 60 votes in the Senate to get things done, while just about everything the Democratic base wants mysteriously requires that darn filibuster-proof majority which is just impossible to get.

This really isn't hard to figure out.

For the last while, there have been fifty-odd Republican senators. All but two or three of them are complete baby-eating, fire-breathing conservative morons, and the couple of more-or-less sane people (ie, Snowe and Collins who Maine really ought to send packing unless they start voting with Maine values instead of Alabama ones) still vote in almost-lockstep with their shithead colleagues for reasons that are probably best left unexplored as they involve dark sacrifices to Lord Cthulhu or something.

There have been consistently forty-odd "actual" Democratic senators; people who are some degree of center to center-left.

And there have been five to ten conservative Democrats or DINOs or whatever you want to call them, who are what Republicans used to be before the Brain Eater got them. People like Webb or, say, Baucus or Tester. Still, however conservative they are, they pale in comparison to the drooling morons that would have been elected from their states as Republicans. Some of them are more reliable than others, but most of them face some hard constraints to how reliably really-Democratic their electorates will let them be.

So, the Republicans get shit done because they often have an effective governing majority. Their own fifty-odd plus some of the five to ten conservative Democrats who will vote with them, sometimes, if they make their proposals a little bit less completely stupid.

But for Democrats to get something done, the "real" Democrats have to water things down to keep their own conservatives from rebelling, and then they have to water things down even further to try to get Snowe or Collins or one of the other few not-complete-shithead Republican senators to go along with it.

Is this really so hard to understand? In the Senate, there's almost a governing majority of conservative votes, so it's difficult to get progressive things done and easy to get conservative things done.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:44 AM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


what someone says out of office, when he doesn't have to worry about being re-elected or having the responsibility of actually doing something as a statesman about a problem, is not necessarily an indication of what he would have done in office

I have evidence directly on point, you have none.

Dude was thinking about another run in '08. So he had a lot to lose. It was considered poltically courageous at the time.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:45 AM on September 29, 2010


there have been five to ten conservative Democrats or DINOs or whatever you want to call them, who are what Republicans used to be before the Brain Eater got them. People like Webb or, say, Baucus or Tester

You see, this is exactly it. Just because someone doesn't agree with you, they aren't a Democrat. And you wonder why people think you're tearing apart the party?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:46 AM on September 29, 2010


They are united. They realize that they get more done together. So its really rich when people stab dems in the back and then complain about how the GOP "gets everything done." Its because of this rule:

Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.


They united by pushing as far right as they could possibly go. They solidified the wingnut religious base into a dedicated voting block and then said "you want these guaranteed voters, you say these things," to everybody who ran as a republican. They actually abandoned all centrist voters, realizing they were less valuable than rabid religious fundamentalists at the polls.

We have instead tried to be the centrist party. Instead of pushing against the direction the republicans are dragging the country, we have drifted further right with the tide in a desperate attempt to act like the reasonable compromisers at all times. And every time someone points out how much farther right we're sliding along the political spectrum you hear people respond with "we can't accomplish what we really want! we have to compromise with the uncompromising right!"

so fine. let's take your idea and run with it. let's do what the republicans do. but let's be clear about something: the republicans don't run around screaming at their voter demographic that they're not supportive enough. they run around ruining all republican candidates who aren't right-wing enough and replace them ones that tow the party line. great. let's also do that. let's drag Joe Lieberman out into the street and pistol whip him, then replace him with a real left-wing politician. Let's kill Harry Reid's campaigns and replace him with someone who'll get the laws we WANT passed. Let's have 60 unified bleeding heart liberals up there telling the GOP to go fuck themselves, instead of this mewling centrism everyone seems to think is the only way to accomplish anything.

you know, if we're talking about the importance of party unity, that is.
posted by shmegegge at 10:46 AM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


But I see you are on my side, so I take it back, you were supporting my point.

But I am frustrated because some people aren't Dems because they don't agree with other people. I'm to the left of the Senators described, but I consider them dems.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:48 AM on September 29, 2010


the republicans don't run around screaming at their voter demographic that they're not supportive enough. they run around ruining all republican candidates who aren't right-wing enough and replace them ones that tow the party line. great. let's also do that. let's drag Joe Lieberman out into the street and pistol whip him, then replace him with a real left-wing politician.

The republicans are being torn apart for the first time ever. Those tea partiers are forgetting that rule, giving us a great advantage. I've been saying that for two years that the next two elections would be for the soul of the party. In two must-win senate races, they have two more centrist rebels running against the more right-wing rival.

This is a time of opportunity, a time to support. Let us take two cycles to get the big 300+ majority and you'll get everything you want. But you aren't reading the numbers right.

Fight hard and deny them congress and they will explode in recriminations. That's why support is critical now.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:51 AM on September 29, 2010


you're comparing the guy who supports acts of murder to an annoying leftist documentarian

You have no legal basis whatsoever for saying this. Zero. Not only has al-Awlaki not been convicted of this crime, he has not even had court charges filed against him.

What you have is The Leader Said So. And this is sufficient for you so soon after being told that Guantanamo Bay houses "the worst of the worst"?

It suffices for you because you believe Obama is a decent man who wouldn't lie about such a thing and is only resorting to drastic measures to keep his country safe. Of course, Bush's supporters believed exactly the same thing about him. But for the sake of argument, let's agree that al-Awlaki is murderous scum and Obama is a hero for protecting us from him.

Are you so short-sighted that you can't foresee a future when someone less noble and principled than our hero will occupy the Oval Office? Do you truly not understand that any power you cede to Obama you also cede to all future Presidents? And that the power to kill one's citizens without checks or reviews of any kind is the very definition of tyranny?

What, exactly, do you want me to do, Joe? Who would you like me to vote for?

You have my blessing to vote for whomever you like. Perhaps someday you'll be able to return that courtesy.

Vote for Obama if you want. Give him money, put the sign in your yard, knock on doors. But I would prefer if you were intellectually honest about it. I would prefer it if you did so while acknowledging that you are supporting a politician whose "targeted killing" policy is clearly on the far side of whatever line demarcates Evil.

I will not vote for Evil. Even if it supports stem cell research. Even if it gives me single payer health care. Even if the other guy is 5% more Evil. Whichever of the two Evil candidates prevails, whatever damage they inflict when in power, I will not let them claim the sanction of my vote.

This has drawn some sneering comments along the lines of "Enjoy your clean hands". I won't enjoy them. But at least I'll have them. Which is more than Obama voters will.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:55 AM on September 29, 2010


The republicans are being torn apart for the first time ever.

well, my inner optimist agrees with you, but tea party candidates are winning primaries, and they're running as republicans. it's not like the tea party is a 3rd party. they're just a well funded conservative strike force for the GOP. If the tea party actually take republican voters away from republican candidates in the mid term elections, great, but since they're actually just running as republicans that won't happen. all the tea partiers are doing is putting even more radical wingnuts on the ballots. wingnuts who might win.

Let us take two cycles to get the big 300+ majority and you'll get everything you want.

what? no I won't. that has never happened ever in the history of this party. even with the power to do it, we don't get the job done. I'm still gonna vote for dems, because I'll be damned if I'm going to just watch republicans walk all over the country without at least voting, but let's be honest. we are never going to get everything we want, because our party rolls over at the least sign of opposition. even if we have a huge majority, the arguments will start rolling in: "well, if we abuse this now, the republicans will return the favor when they're back in power. we don't want to set a precedent for them to hold against us when it's their turn." bleagh.
posted by shmegegge at 10:59 AM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I will not vote for Evil. Even if it supports stem cell research. Even if it gives me single payer health care. Even if the other guy is 5% more Evil. Whichever of the two Evil candidates prevails, whatever damage they inflict when in power, I will not let them claim the sanction of my vote.

So, in all honesty, who are you voting for? If you don't vote at all, you can't really claim "clean hands" either. If you don't vote, you're essentially complicit in whatever fallout happens from an election - staying home means you have no say in who represents you.

I'm not defending any political party, I'm just honestly asking - who would you vote for? Third party candidates? Write-ins?

Your criticisms of Obama are well thought-out, but do you honestly think that the other choice (McCain) would have been a better one for the country? At some level, a decision has to be made. You can't have no President because you don't like what the democratic process came up with. In 2008, the choice was between Obama and McCain, and the majority of Americans thought that Obama would do a better job. He has, admittedly, not done a perfect job, but I do honestly believe that the US is in better shape than it would be under a McCain administration. Or, even going back to the primaries, would you have preferred Hillary Clinton or some other candidate who was running?
posted by sonika at 11:11 AM on September 29, 2010


that has never happened ever in the history of this party. even with the power to do it, we don't get the job done.

1932. 1964. 1965.

Huge majorities. Titanic change. Those kinds of majorities make the GOP act different.

Read your history.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:11 AM on September 29, 2010


Interesting point, Rhaomi - but then why haven't the Democrats been able to do the same thing? Surely, the Republicans right now are the very definition of inflexible contrarians. So why doesn't this strategy work for the Democrats like you predict it would work for the Republicans?
Because the democrats are pussies. Clearly the republicans have a lot more ability to act in concert. A big part of that is the fact that if people don't toe the line, they can lose their seniority on comities, which means if they get power back - they don't become committee chairs.
Are you still proud? You have every right to feel whatever you want to, but, really? The Nader who called Gore and Bush Coke and Pepsi? I'm curious about how you feel now, because, don't you think now that the Coke and Pepsi line was dangerous hogwash?
Yeah, and just think as incumbent VP we could have president leiberman now! Wouldn't that just be awesome!
Really... they wanted more Americans to die for healthcare? They wanted continued consumer exploitation? Who needs them?!
Of course, HCR doesn't kick in until 2014. So you feel Obama is letting Americans die for 4 years just to make the budget look better over the next 10 years (but with no impact on the ongoing costs) -- and that's somehow fine and morally acceptable?

Really, this kind of argument treats liberals like idiotic children. "But people will die without this policy!!! Now excuse me while I order some more drone attacks in Pakistan…"

----

Also, people, the republicans are way less effective then a lot of you seem to think. They had the white house for 8 years and congress for most of that time and didn't pass anything on the socially conservative agenda aside from banning stemcell research.

The war? Supported by democrats in congress.
posted by delmoi at 11:12 AM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


You have my blessing to vote for whomever you like. Perhaps someday you'll be able to return that courtesy.

I've never said you are required to vote for any particular person, but I am genuinely curious as to what you are proposing. Are you proposing, even for yourself, to sit at home on election day? You have made overtures in this direction but have not stated it explicitly, which is why I am asking. You're perfectly free to do whatever you want, and I understand the decision not to associate oneself with even the lesser of two evils. The degree to which you interject your objections to Obama's policies in every political thread, some of which have no relevance to such a topic, seems to indicate, however, that you wish to convince others to agree with you, and therefore your actions. Thus I would like to know: What actions do you propose? Are you recommending an abstention from voting?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:13 AM on September 29, 2010


The people I'm thinking of are the ones who insist up and down that they are the true heart and soul of the Democratic party, the most progressive people ever, take credit for every good thing that the left has ever done for America

I guess this is where I get confused, or maybe I'm not reading the correct party-line blogs or comments here, but I don't think I know anyone who thinks this. Are there people here who do?

Anyway, I can tell you one thing that really bugged me about the interview: how often the President referred to the job and the issues before him as "hard". He talks about how easier problems get solved before they get to him, and I get that; I saw Truman's desk sign too. It is not, however, terribly inspiring to hear him talk about how tough his job is, and it takes answer time away from, y'know, actual answers or considerations of those difficult problems. I get that they're hard. That's why we didn't elect my ignorant ass; we elected you.
posted by Errant at 11:13 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, in all honesty, who are you voting for? If you don't vote at all, you can't really claim "clean hands" either. If you don't vote, you're essentially complicit in whatever fallout happens from an election
No offense, but that doesn't make any fucking sense. People aren't responsible for the actions of others who they don't support. I hate this weird mind-game partisans try to play where if you do don't do what they want, then you are responsible for all the horrible stuff in the world. It's total nonsense and completely incoherent.
posted by delmoi at 11:16 AM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Dems bombed a few radar stations once in a while. That is what we call "false equivalence."

the dems dropped 1.3 million pounds of bombs in two years alone

a few radar stations? - that is what i call a lie

Really? No sanctions, no war, how are you going to help anyone in the world if you can't do anything to hurt countries that do wrong?

sanctions are often considered to be acts of war, especially those that result in civilian deaths

I have evidence directly on point, you have none.

i have his continued cooperation in a process that was responsible for much death and misery in iraq

you have an ex-politician hypocritically bloviating

you, and your other friends on this site, also have an utter inability to get past 2000 or to admit that there was a critique of the democratic party behind the nader candidacy that still has relevance today - no, you continue to blame nader voters for the ills of the next 8 years in a frenzy of contrafactual speculation, all of which, by its very nature, is unprovable and unknowable

against a few thousand nader voters causing this great catastrophe i argue this

40% of the people didn't vote at all
gore wasn't sufficiently appealing
what happened in florida was pretty crooked
if clinton had kept it in his pants, the dems wouldn't have been so despised
if clinton hadn't been a party to the outsourcing of america, the working class wouldn't have abandoned him as much as they did

i also believe that obama is a better president than gore would have been

it's 2010, quit dwelling in the past and get on with it - and, i must say, the number 1 priority for the dems right now should be convincing the working class that they are going do something for them that is going to turn this mess around

i don't know that they are trying hard enough

i plan to vote for them, but it's getting harder
posted by pyramid termite at 11:17 AM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


pt, I am finally breaking down and am going to order you a keyboard with a functioning shift key and a period.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:19 AM on September 29, 2010


People aren't responsible for the actions of others who they don't support. I hate this weird mind-game partisans try to play where if you do don't do what they want, then you are responsible for all the horrible stuff in the world. It's total nonsense and completely incoherent.

What? I was saying that if you don't like what's going AND you don't vote, you really aren't coming any closer to solving the problem. I wasn't advocating any party, or even speaking against any party.

Basically, Craig Ferguson said what I was trying to say, only better: if you don't vote, you're a moron.

That's all. I don't care who you vote for. I was asking Joe Beese, if he won't vote for the Lesser Evil and he won't vote for the Greater Evil, who would he prefer to vote for? Is he not voting? It's an honest good faith question and not one based on any political party.
posted by sonika at 11:19 AM on September 29, 2010


You have no legal basis whatsoever for saying this. Zero. Not only has al-Awlaki not been convicted of this crime, he has not even had court charges filed against him.

You're hero's been convicted twice for soliciting prostitution in the US. And he has already said he supports multiple murders. check his wikipedia page.

But in one sense you're right. He admits to having counseled the 9/11 hijackers for months. He admits to having counseled the Christmas Day bomber face to face and via email. He admits to a long series of E-mails where he told Dr. Hasan "I can't wait to see you in heaven" right befor Hasan murdered 12. He admits to encouraging terrorist attacks on the US.

The only thing he denies is giving the orders.

These are facts of record. Its all on his wikipedia page.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:22 AM on September 29, 2010


a few radar stations? - that is what i call a lie
He's been doing that a lot in this thread. He seems to have a weak grasp on reality. It's kind of like talking to an apple fanboy, who twists everything to make the dems look good instead of Apple. At least with Apple, you know, that stuff doesn't really matter
posted by delmoi at 11:24 AM on September 29, 2010


You're hero's been convicted twice for soliciting prostitution in the US.
Oh no! Using hookers!? Well, he definitely deserves to get blown up without a trial! Just think, maybe he'd even looked at internet porn!

Awlaki is no one's "hero", we just think its bad, as a general principle, for the U.S. government to assassinate it's own citizens.
posted by delmoi at 11:26 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


You see, this is exactly it. Just because someone doesn't agree with you, they aren't a Democrat. And you wonder why people think you're tearing apart the party?

Dude, slow down. I was just trying to use language that whoever-it-was might get.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:30 AM on September 29, 2010


Awlaki is no one's "hero", we just think its bad, as a general principle, for the U.S. government to assassinate it's own citizens.

Ok for us to bomb Tokyo Rose? Then ok to bomb him. Better to catch him.

But my main point was, yes, your shining example of liberty, contrary to Joe's assertion, has indeed been convicted of a crime.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:37 AM on September 29, 2010


Party unity applies to us, the base, but not the Senators who won't vote with the party on a simple procedural measure needed to advance their President's most important domestic priority. Party unity applies to us, the base, but not the Majority Leader who refused to punish any of his Senators for grandstanding and denying the American people better health care. You know why the Republicans in congress are united? It's because they're afraid of what will happen to them if they cross the party leaders. It's because the Republicans know how to run a goddamned political party.

You know why the base is so discouraged? It's because want Democrats who will fight, and we don't have them in Congress right now.
posted by vibrotronica at 11:39 AM on September 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've never said you are required to vote for any particular person... Are you recommending an abstention from voting?

Ironmouth and others have made it abundantly clear that, in their view, a vote for any candidate other than the Democratic one is the moral equivalent of not voting at all. So, to them, whether I vote Green or stay home and watch The Biggest Loser is irrelevant.

I recommend only that we not kid ourselves about the American political process. It is wholly owned by its corporate sponsors and offers us no hope whatsoever for progressive change. The divisions between "left" and "right" that so fervently occupy us are superficial - a pointless distraction from the gravity of our plight. Any money or time spent in an effort to re-elect Barack Obama would be far better spent supporting local aid organizations.

When I voted for Obama in 2008, as I did at the last minute after having walked up the Diebold intending to vote for Cynthia McKinney, I did so with the understanding that it was a purely symbolic gesture either way. Utah's electoral votes were not in jeopardy of going to anyone other than John McCain. When I vote against Obama in 2012 - as I will make a point of doing, just for the pleasure of it - it will be an equally empty bit of theater.

If he is still alive - and still presumed innocent, in the absence of having been proved guilty after due process, of any crime worse than whoremongering - I may write in the name of Anwar al-Awlaki.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:02 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


[few comments removed. shmegegge take the day off, you're totally out of line ]
posted by jessamyn at 12:08 PM on September 29, 2010


I don't have a crystal ball that says more Yemense/Palestians/Iranians will be killed if there is a resurgent GOP, obviously.

But given that the wingnut and increasingly dominant wingnut voice of the GOP believes Muslims are evil, I mean, really, what do you think is going to happen.

Barack Obama spent years in the largest Muslim country in the world (Indonesia). Now pair his perspective against that of the likely House Leader if the GOP wins a majority, John Boehner.

Who do you think would be more likely to support further war against Middle East countries?
posted by angrycat at 12:08 PM on September 29, 2010


Ironmouth and others have made it abundantly clear that, in their view, a vote for any candidate other than the Democratic one is the moral equivalent of not voting at all.

So noted, but I'm not Ironmouth and I have no particular need to convince anyone to vote for a Democrat. Just putting it out there. I think voting is the moral equivalent of voting - that is to say, it's your vote, cast it for whomever you like. The only vote that "doesn't count" in my book is the one that you waste by staying home. My question was simply whether you were advocating for not voting or if you simply voted for different (as in, non Democratic Party) candidates, which you answered honestly.
posted by sonika at 12:09 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dude, slow down. I was just trying to use language that whoever-it-was might get.

Thanks, ROU_Xenophobe, for putting it into language that I might get. I appreciate you coming down to my not-able-to-walk-and-chew-gum-at-the-same-time level.

So, just to make sure I'm summing up your post correctly: Democratic senators simply have no power to do anything against the unstoppable Republican machine, so this is why we should get out the vote to make sure senators with no power stay in office to, I don't know, continue to be powerless. Thanks for the motivational speech.

Party unity applies to us, the base, but not the Senators who won't vote with the party on a simple procedural measure needed to advance their President's most important domestic priority. Party unity applies to us, the base, but not the Majority Leader who refused to punish any of his Senators for grandstanding and denying the American people better health care.

This, a thousand times. "Party unity" sounds great. Lovely. Problem is, the leadership doesn't seem to feel the need or desire to sign up, making "party unity" just another club to attack the left with. And there is a massive, massive double standard. When John Breaux leaves the Senate to shack up with Trent Lott on K Street, that's just dandy. Bipartisanship, centrism, free enterprise, all of that. Nobody cares much. But when some twenty-something blogger dares question the Democratic leadership? The sky is falling, the sky is falling! The all-powerful forces of the Kucinichites will deliver America into a thousand years of eternal night unless they learn to go with the flow and shut their pie holes!

Huge majorities. Titanic change. Those kinds of majorities make the GOP act different.

But a key difference is that Democrats actually had positions beyond "the other guy is worse, so you have to vote for me even though I'll spit on your most cherished beliefs". I don't recall FDR or LBJ spending quite so much energy as the Democratic leadership today is on telling the people they wanted to vote for them how immature and silly they were.

You know, I'll give Obama credit. He spoke well in that interview. He's right. It is hard, and it is complicated. But that message is, to say the very least, undermined when people in his administration spend so much energy condemning their own supporters.
posted by jhandey at 12:12 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have plenty of disagreements with Obama on these points:

There is such a thing as a bully pulpit. All the noise about "the votes aren't there" obscures Obama's lack of effort to move opinion in his direction. I think this is the most disappointing thing for me, because he is a great speaker and he's willing to talk about hard issues and treat his audience like adults. I realize that he hasn't been completely passive, but I think he could have done so much more. He's the freaking President -- he can make people listen if he really wants to.

Criticism from your side can help you. FDR famously told supporters, "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." I think the President needs to be seen as part of the broad middle, so some form of hippie punching is probably required, but there's strategic hippie punching and then there's pointless hippie punching. There seems to be entirely too much of the latter going on right now.

Opinionated != Partisan. I'm amazed that Republicans caught Obama in the silly trap of "partisanship." I waited for months for Obama to come out and say something like, "Doing what you believe in isn't partisanship; partisanship is doing something just to benefit your side. Who's being partisan here, the people who are trying to formulate solutions, or the people salivating over how they'll benefit from our failure?" For an experienced lawyer -- and supposed master of political jujitsu -- to not have anticipated and countered this tactic is pretty astounding.

---

Whew. Now that I got that off my chest, I couldn't disagree more strongly with the apathetic block here. Politics is moved by passion, not apathy. Yell and scream, call your reps, try to take out Blue Dogs in the primaries, do something. But sitting on the sidelines because you don't like the game just makes you ignorable. More than half of eligible voters just don't bother; your protest non-vote will get exactly as much attention as all those people.
posted by bjrubble at 12:15 PM on September 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ironmouth and others have made it abundantly clear that, in their view, a vote for any candidate other than the Democratic one is the moral equivalent of not voting at all. So, to them, whether I vote Green or stay home and watch The Biggest Loser is irrelevant.

I appreciate you answering my question. I would prefer that you not lump me in with other people who disagree with you and assume my opinions based on theirs, however.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:28 PM on September 29, 2010


I think bjrubble's post above is exactly right, and I really want to clarify that I don't advocate apathy.

I'd just like the White House to be a little more strategic in its hippie punching and not act like it's enjoying it quite so much. And I'd love an end to the circular firing squad tradition, too - but frankly, if it's only the left that's required to lay down its arms, it ain't gonna happen.
posted by jhandey at 12:29 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


White America Has Lost Its Mind
posted by homunculus at 12:51 PM on September 29, 2010


Party unity, Senate style.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:23 PM on September 29, 2010


I'd just like the White House to be a little more strategic in its hippie punching and not act like it's enjoying it quite so much.

The relevant quote from the article, in its entirety:

One closing remark that I want to make: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we've got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.

The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible.

Everybody out there has to be thinking about what's at stake in this election and if they want to move forward over the next two years or six years or 10 years on key issues like climate change, key issues like how we restore a sense of equity and optimism to middle-class families who have seen their incomes decline by five percent over the last decade. If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we'd better fight in this election. And right now, we are getting outspent eight to one by these 527s that the Roberts court says can spend with impunity without disclosing where their money's coming from. In every single one of these congressional districts, you are seeing these independent organizations outspend political parties and the candidates by, as I said, factors of four to one, five to one, eight to one, 10 to one.

We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up. Bringing about change is hard — that's what I said during the campaign. It has been hard, and we've got some lumps to show for it. But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place.

If you're serious, now's exactly the time that people have to step up.


If this is what one considers gleeful hippie punching, then I feel correct in calling that person a whiner.

In fact, he specifically mentions LETHARGY. People going, "eh, whatever, it's a midterm, we got a majority right now, I have work that day basketball tickets that night."

Whatever the Obama/Dem critics in this thread are, I don't think one could call them "lethargic."

If you don't think Obama is worth voting for, let along worth campaigning for, even if your distaste for the man compels you to stay home on midterm election day - I don't think his comments here are for you. But go ahead and interpret those comments to mean whatever makes you feel the most aggrieved and put upon.
posted by mreleganza at 1:29 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


homunculus: "White America Has Lost Its Mind"

Poll: 1 In 5 Americans Believe Obama Is A Cactus
posted by Rhaomi at 2:15 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think most sane people are on the same page here. nobody with a brain going to start voting GOP on the basis of disenchantment w obama. but how do we take the democrats where we want them to go? what's the solution to fox news, citizens united decision, kochtopus, astroturfing, demint shutting down senate, people thinking obama is Muslim, etc? is there actually a suggested plan of action in this thread? what's a promising avenue of attack? I will give money to anyone moving the needle.
posted by jcruelty at 4:41 PM on September 29, 2010


I like to think of this thread is where we get our ululations of disappointment out of the way, and then emerge holding hands and cheerfully marching in lockstep for a better tomorrow.

I mean, that's the way of the Democratic Party, no?
posted by angrycat at 4:56 PM on September 29, 2010


Also, for some reason I got a mass email from John Boehner, which kinda creeps me the fuck out, which touted the latest iteration of the Contract on America. What got me was this line w/r/t said K:

You gave us specific ideas - like a requirement that all legislation should list its constitutional authority.

It's so brilliant! The solution to all of our problems! A legal citation on every piece of legislation. Simple. Wonderful.
posted by angrycat at 4:59 PM on September 29, 2010


I think most sane people are on the same page here. nobody with a brain going to start voting GOP on the basis of disenchantment w obama. but how do we take the democrats where we want them to go? what's the solution to fox news, citizens united decision, kochtopus, astroturfing, demint shutting down senate, people thinking obama is Muslim, etc? is there actually a suggested plan of action in this thread? what's a promising avenue of attack? I will give money to anyone moving the needle.

That's the hard part. And I wonder if some of the Dems most disappointingly not-very-progressive moves and actions is strategic (not saying GOOD strategy, just strategy).

Most of America is not goofy-right like Christine O'Donnell is. That's why (if you don't subscribe to some of the more paranoid doomsday scenarios), when O'Donnell won the GOP primary, she handed a seat that was almost sure to be a pick up for the GOP right back to the Dems. Yay!

But I don't think most of America is as progressive as the average mefite/person in this thread, especially if they can be swayed by the GOP message-makers and their henchman at Fox.

So if the Democratic Party went to the left, it would create a very large middle-ground of people in between the two. And I don't think the Dems want to "lose" them.

And this is where Obama's critics in this thread do have a point. He knows he can take certain voters for granted (several Obama critics in the thread have grudgingly admitted) so he can court the voters that he does not yet have, but could - and there are far more of those in the middle than to the left of Obama.

It sucks to be taken for granted. But as this RS interview shows us a) he still sees himself as a strong progressive (he could've sounded a lot more "moderate" and done some REAL hippie-punching in this magazine which they sell at the checkout counter at Walmart), but instead he appealed to "us," regardless of whether you believe him or not, and b) his last message, to me, sounded like, "The right has tons of energy right now. Momentum, even. DON'T STAY HOME ON ELECTION DAY. COUNTER THE TEA PARTY IN DROVES WITH YOUR VOTE."

As far as REALLY moving the country to the left and more mefitecentric, I don't really know. It's be great if their was a left media equivalent to Fox, with as much pull and media share, but would we have to skew and misrepresent everything to be as effective as Fox? I hope not. I fear so.
posted by mreleganza at 7:50 PM on September 29, 2010


Obama Invokes "State Secrets" to Defend Assassination Program : "The Obama administration has urged a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging the administration’s assertion that it can assassinate US citizens anywhere in the world."
posted by crunchland at 8:02 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


A lot of Iraqis didn't. Fewer, but still many, U.S. soldiers didn't. And regardless of the spinelessness of the Democrats who voted for the Iraq war, as we know very well now, Bush wanted to invade Iraq before 9/11 (and therefore before most Dems would have supported it).

If you want argue that we would have had the Iraq war -- or how it was horribly managed -- under Gore, you're not reading your history.


I was speaking more of the general the United States, as a nation, will survive. I never said Gore would have started the Iraq War, though I suppose anything is possible given the circumstances at the time that war was sold to the public.

But, I mean, if you really want to bring the whole "many Iraqis didn't survive Bush" argument to the plate I would counter with many Afghanis, Pakistanis, Yemenis, and Somalis will probably not survive the Obama administration. Is this OK?

Anyway, it's not like I am abstaining from voting, I've never missed an election and I won't miss this one. I will most likely be voting for a Green for my state's governor, a dem for senate and a dem for re-election to the House. But I won't be voting for Obama again. And sorry Ironmouth for the stfu comment, I was angry and the tone of a lot of the pro-Obama comments in this thread was over the top in my opinion. So, sorry to contribute to that type of stuff.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:49 PM on September 29, 2010


If this is what one considers gleeful hippie punching, then I feel correct in calling that person a whiner.

Well, actually, a few comments above I said that Obama spoke well in his interview and that I saw his point. And most of Obama's critics on this thread have been pretty reasonable, I think - maybe they're not bowing down to him as Messiah and Lord, but I didn't realize that worship of the Dear Leader was part of the Democratic Party platform. But hey, don't let that get in the way of some deeply satisfying name-calling and, dare I say it, hippie punching.

I guess I'm getting somewhat frustrated that a lot of people are trying really hard not to notice that while Obama himself says nice, sensible things, his closest associates in the White House seem to be going way, way overboard on the hippie (and hardhat) punching. Rahm Emanuel. David Axelrod. Robert Gibbs. Maybe it's becoming a job requirement in this administration to dis the party's base.

Again, not appreciating being "the girl you'll take under the bleachers but won't be seen with in public", as the blogger from Crooks and Liars put it, is not equivalent to deciding to vote for the second coming of Ralph Nader (another convenient scapegoat for the failures of the Democratic Party). From all appearances, the left is being set up to take the fall, the scapegoat of the year just like Nader or "weak" candidates or prejudiced red state voters too stupid to vote their own interests or that unstoppable Republican powerhouse that no one could possibly be expected to stand up to or anyone, anyone except the Democratic Party's leadership itself.
posted by jhandey at 6:10 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I don't think most of America is as progressive as the average mefite/person in this thread, especially if they can be swayed by the GOP message-makers and their henchman at Fox.

100 years ago, Kansas was the heartland of American radicalism. 40 years ago, Richard Nixon - Richard Nixon - was doing the kinds of things that would get him condemned as a Maoist today. The center of American politics was so far leftward - economically, at least - of where it is today that you couldn't see it with a telescope. Things change.

I think the real danger of paralysis comes not from criticizing the Dear Leader but from believing that the way things are today are the way things have always been. Deliberately forgetting that the "center" can move and has moved results in centrist Democrats pursuing a target that is actively being moved by only one side - ever rightward. This constricts our vision to the point that you have officials in the current administration making fun of the very concept of a Canadian-style health care system (how ridiculous can you get!).

I don't know the answer, to be honest. But I'm not all that disturbed by Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow or the rest. I think it's very unhealthy for the country to have only one side with the ability to move the center and the other side running after a moving target.
posted by jhandey at 6:30 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh hey are we still having this argument? Awesome! So the only reason this midterm matters, really, is because it's 2010, which is a census year. The people we elect now, especially at the state level, will be drawing congressional districts and doing their best to ensure that their party will be in power for the next ten years.

That's it. That's what's important. So if your politics lean left, please do vote for the crap-ass Democrats, because it matters. They don't deserve your vote, really, but it's important. Save the protest vote for 2012.
posted by rusty at 10:12 AM on September 30, 2010


Ok for us to bomb Tokyo Rose? Then ok to bomb him. Better to catch him.
When did I -- or anyone else -- say that it was OK to bomb Tokyo Rose? I'm not even sure what relevance that has, since she survived the war and was put on trial. Listening to broadcasts it's hard to even see what was so offensive, let alone why she should be tried for treason (let alone bombed).

That argument is like saying gitmo is OK because Japanese Internment was OK. Uh, no, it wasn't.
But my main point was, yes, your shining example of liberty, contrary to Joe's assertion, has indeed been convicted of a crime.
That's splitting hairs to an incredible degree. Obviously people mean that he hasn't been convicted of any crime relating to terrorism or the reasons why he's being targeted. You obviously don't believe the lives of anyone ever convicted of any crime, regardless of how minor should therefore be able to be killed later on by the government. So I'm not sure how that's relevant.
Again, not appreciating being "the girl you'll take under the bleachers but won't be seen with in public", as the blogger from Crooks and Liars put it, is not equivalent to deciding to vote for the second coming of Ralph Nader (another convenient scapegoat for the failures of the Democratic Party). From all appearances, the left is being set up to take the fall, the scapegoat of the year just like Nader or "weak" candidates or prejudiced red state voters too stupid to vote their own interests or that unstoppable Republican powerhouse that no one could possibly be expected to stand up to or anyone, anyone except the Democratic Party's leadership itself.
Remember in 2006, after the massive wave election which swept tons of democrats into office? Right after that James Carville started bashing Howard Dean for, like, no reason. It was obvious that Dean had shown up the beltway establishment, including Rahm Emmanuel and that pissed them off more then winning made them happy. Rahm has always done well at trying to lay blame on other people and escape blame for his own failures. They'd laid the foundation for blaming dean on a loss, and Carville "Went off" despite the fact that they actually won.
posted by delmoi at 2:20 PM on September 30, 2010


That's it. That's what's important. So if your politics lean left, please do vote for the crap-ass Democrats, because it matters. They don't deserve your vote, really, but it's important. Save the protest vote for 2012.
I'm not sure if you're aware of this: But you can vote for different candidates for different offices.
posted by delmoi at 3:27 PM on September 30, 2010


Joe Beese sent me the following email, and I asked if it would bother him if he responded in-thread, and he said "not at all". So:

My choice of that particular metaphor is definitely based on the belief that there is no way to win this.

But there are different ways to lose. When put before the firing squad, you can sob for mercy and beg them to spare you in exchange for betraying your convictions. Or you can refuse the blindfold, sneer at the riflemen, and spit your defiance on the ground before they fire. I know which way I'd rather go out.


I sure hope I wouldn't waste my last moments on a gesture of contempt as equally vain as any useless pleading. Maybe I'd be that weak if it were nothing more than my own life on the line, but if there were something at stake I cared about more, I hope I'd be looking for some way to fight even to very last.

But, yeah, I think this is mawkish capering. The principle of due process -- even in the al-Awlaki case -- isn't anywhere near "before the firing squad." Yes, we're missing judicial review, and I think it's rational to acknowledge this is a serious enough matter that it's worth looking down the road to where this could go, but it's also rational to acknowledge that al-Awlaki is a particular kind of case there's a real justification behind. There is a long way to go before we're at a place where a President could casually target you or me or Michael Moore or just anybody. There was even a deliberative process for al-Awlaki, and as far as I know, nobody's even asserted that the motivation was political or that the NSC's judgment of him was false or unjust. The right thing to do isn't to go into "Game over, man, GAME OVER!" hyperbole, it's to start working the levers so that we can at least try to get the judicial review into broader discussion and then into place.

That is, if you actually care about the principle, at least, instead of just relishing your chance to make that vain gesture of contempt which, however emotionally satisfying it may be for you, is guaranteed to do nothing (and would probably actually galvanize truly evil power hungry people, on the off chance that's what we're dealing with here... nothing like a deliciously impotent display of distress and defiance, not even begging).

What is *your* helluva plan to reverse the Democratic Party's embrace of fascism? Work for change from within? Why would they change knowing they can count on your vote whether they change or not?

Because *I* know my primary election vote isn't the only bargaining chip I've got.

It's not the only one you have, either. Hell, if recall serves me right, you live in Utah, so I don't know how you haven't arrived at this understanding earlier, because if you're a progressive, your primary vote is nigh goddamn useless there, not a bargaining chip at all, and you have to turn to other methods. Though this sure explains your sense of fatalism. I should probably cut you some slack for that.

So let's talk about some other things. While we're on the topic of Utah... you've heard of Bill Orton, right? Maybe you think he was useless Blue Dog scum, but here's a story I've heard about him. I've heard he said his biggest surprise — after the big surprise of winning Utah's 3rd district (talk about futility!) — was expecting his calendar to be too full of visitors. He worried he'd just be too busy to fit in constituent visits he felt would be necessary to be a good rep. The alleged reality is that most of the time, no constituents showed up. Sure, phone calls, angry letters, what have you, but coming in and sitting down and talking? Tumbleweeds and lobbyists. OK, maybe he was exaggerating. Or maybe his 3rd district constituents thought they'd catch Teh Liberuhl from him if they walked into his office. But maybe your congressmen are more accessible than you think. This varies in my experience, but rings somewhat true, particularly if you can avoid acting like a crazy person and treat staff as human beings the first time or two you (and the other people you organize) encounter their office.

I don't know if you're on any campaign or fund raising mailing lists for various Democratic organizations — possibly not, since you regard them with such disdain and despair — but I'm on at least a dozen and wow was yesterday (end of the quarter!) fun. Everybody is ravenous for campaign funds right now. Citizens United is making it worse and is going to mean it gets worse. You set up a civil liberties PAC and I'm pretty confident that you'll get at least some attention... unless you wait so long and/or get enough progressives to play the fixin'-to-die game that the Dems have no choice other than to completely sell themselves out (although the bright side of that is that economic policy might cease to be a differentiating campaign issue and civil liberties could be all we have to talk about anymore, particularly after they don't matter when civil power becomes moot).

I'd talk about primary votes and delegates and stuff like that, but that's less for people like you that live in deep red states. Although you probably could make a difference as a part of organized efforts in out-of-state primaries if you cared to. Hell, you could probably make a difference in the Utah Republican conventions & primaries if you could hold it together, but let's be honest, you're not ready for that. I'm not sure I'm ready to try and pretend to be a conservative voice of sanity in that boiling pot of crazy.

The other thing is that your withdrawl from the Dems really tells them nothing. As I said in an earlier thread, you're better off using tin cans tied between your house and Tim Kaine's if you're trying to send a message or otherwise trying to prod them using a primary election vote that doesn't come with a note attached. They lose votes from the right and center as well as the left. How are they going to know which way to go? This is one of the simplest reasons you don't use your primary vote to bargain with your caucus or send them a message or register a complaint about your relative level of enfranchisement. The only potent use for it is to select from the candidates that are there. If you feel disenfranchised when you get to the ballot box, then the only potent thing to do make the marginally better choice and work upstream to try and get better choices brought there.

But doing potent things is for people who care enough about their principles enough to be unsatisfied by merely expressing their emotions about them, unsatisfied with merely expressing contempt for their opposition, unsatisfied with letting even inclement odds for progress go untried when the alternative is accepting certain doom.
posted by namespan at 2:38 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


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