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A breath of realism at The Obama 527 Formerly Known As Daily Kos

Meteor Blades -- naturellement -- body checks the unemployment figures:

Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced its monthly payroll survey numbers Friday, there’s been quite a bit of happy-talk – including from some progressives – about how we’re just around the corner from the end of the "Great Recession." On the flipside, we who have said wait-a-minute are being accused of panic, fearmongering, an inability to read statistics and even of not wanting a recovery to kick in so as to advance our unspecified agenda. Which presumably makes us no better than if we were on the payroll of the Foxagandists and Limbaughrubes who want President Obama to fail.


A record for the length of a recession unmatched since the 1930s. A record high for the number of people collecting unemployment benefits. A record unmatched since the 1930s for the percentage of the unemployed who have been out of work for more than six months. A record high for the number of people collecting food stamps. A record low since 1964 for the number of hours production workers put in weekly: 33.2 hours. A record high for foreclosure filings. And on and on.

33.2 hours? That's appalling. Even those with jobs are suffering.

I’m an optimistic pessimist. I think there’s a chance we might actually come out of the current recession ready for some serious restructuring after decades of the economic pretending and oligarchical banditry that has created the mess we’re in. But only a slight chance. Word on the re-regulatory front is not all that encouraging. Likewise the likelihood of getting any payback, both literally and figuratively, in what Naomi Klein labels the "greatest heist in monetary history."

Being hopeful is important. We need to build confidence. But nothing will be accomplished by blind cheerleading.

Gramsci said it long ago: "Pessimism of the intelligence; optimism of the will." But Gramsci, after all, had it much tougher than we do today -- he was facing a fascist regime in the 30s! His times were much harder than ours. So if we could stop being quite so sensitive to the tender sensibilities of the hopey-changey crowd and get to work, I for one would appreciate it:

As Klein recently told Joan Juliet Beck:

JOAN: In The New Yorker, you’re quoted as saying, "This is a progressive moment. [Presumably, we mean the brand of "progressivism" that wouldn't use CDS, misogyny, and false charges of racism as basic working tools. Just saying.] It’s ours to lose." What did you mean?

NAOMI: Capitalism is on trial.  And you have an organic, grassroots, sort of spontaneous revolt against the elite – which is actually what we’re hearing with this rage at CEOs, and bonuses and government collusion with the elites. Rage is an opportunity. The rage is there, and the country is seething, the world is seething with rage. The question is, where is it going to be directed? I feel there’s a moral responsibility for the Left and for progressives to provide an alternative in this moment that is moral, that is principled, that is just, that is hopeful, because if we don’t, then that anger is so easily directed at "those damn Mexican immigrants," at "the first African American president." So I feel a tremendous sense of urgency. It’s not just, "Hey, our time has come." It’s, "We’d better get our act together because this anger is going somewhere."

The last thing to do now is encourage a dissipation of that seething.


Blades's post, though front-paged, only got 100+ comments -- not the 1000s that a Sarah Palin post would get, for example. But the comments are curiously silent in two aspects: First, there aren't any OFB enforcers; perhaps the lead warned them off. However, there's only the mildest of criticism of the administration (one comment, so far). The atmosphere is extremely subdued. How many think "If only the czar knew!" and how many think "Of course the czar knows"? Not known, not polled, not part of the narrative.

I refer you again to this chart. People voted for "change." They see they're not getting it. What now?

No votes yet


basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

is to subsidize it? Is that not what the Obama presidency is? Subsidizing the revolution? Think about Obama's comment to the bankers that he was the only one standing between them and the pitchforks.

But I agree - pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will. I've never heard that before and it is brilliant. These are human beings running our nation and they can be swayed - either on our behalf or on their own.

The left found a way to stand up to LBJ who had given us civil rights but was escalating Vietnam. We'll need that kind of backbone again.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

These are human beings running our nation...

Sometimes, I wonder; I really do.

Washington (the state of mind that is Washington, to be clear) is a pretty dehumanizing place. The pressure to be anything but human seems to be the prime influence in that foreign land. I think that's the problem, that we've (our leaders) yet to place the "human" back into "humanity".

We need to do whatever we can to strength and encourage what I call the sanity and humanity caucuses in the United State Congress, in particular. I believe that quite a few of them, though, are lost causes and that change will come at the state level. I'm actually optimistic about a lot of the things going on at the state level, or rather, they are the only ones I'm very hopeful/optimistic, about.