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What's the damage?

vastleft's picture

As a prelude to a future post about Eric Boehlert's Bloggers on the Bus (UPDATE: link added), here's a summary of what I view as the major sins of The Blog War of 2008:

a) Truthiness. The truth-telling alternatives to the lying media lost their compasses, as even sophisticated observers heralded resolutely post-partisan Obama as "deeply progressive" and, seriously, a modern-day Messiah.

b) Groupthink. Just about every aspect of Irving Janis's model of fiasco thinking took hold. To cite but one manifestation: delegitimizing concerns of "out-group" Democrats (as "pie-fighters," "Hillary obsessives," "Obama haters," "Rovian plants").

c) Bullying. In Boehlert's Firedoglake chat, he uses the term "endless grief" to describe what befell Digby for the mere suspicion of being a pro-Hillary blogger. Bloggers on the Bus notes death threats sent to maxed-out Obama supporter Mayhill Fowler for grudgingly sharing a damaging Obama tape with her HuffPo editor. I personally received credible threats that warned me to stop criticizing Obama or face grave consequences, along with being smeared as a racist and hate-speaker. How could I not bask in all that hope!

d) Instrumentalism. Any stick to beat a dog, even if it meant promoting obvious fictions including GOP-created smears, ignoring voting improprieties that favored the chic candidate, etc.

e) Sexism. Includes a blind eye toward sexism from the media, thoughtless (at best) words and actions by the candidate and campaign, and manifesting itself later against Sarah Palin.

f) Ageism. The veneration of young voters, the denigration of "dry pussy" voters (a two-for-one debasement special, that) and "bickering boomers," and also manifesting itself against "McOld."

g) Classism. "Creative-class" identity politics, out-with-the-Bubbas triumphalism, and manifesting itself later against Sarah Palin.

h) Squandering. A once-in-several-decades opportunity to repudiate the Reagan Resolution was wasted. In a change year, the opportunity existed for choosy progressives to make the candidates sweat, the way the GOP base makes its candidates go so far as to publicly deny evolution. But Obama seemingly could do nothing to shake the support of a blogosphere he disregarded, and liberals he strove to distance himself from. If progressives had invoked their critical powers, Obama might have spent the campaign -- especially the primaries, when one's base is traditionally catered to -- using his vaunted rhetorical gifts to make the case for progressive change. He instead tacked ever-rightward, and netroots barely flinched... until the FISA cave-in, once he had the nomination effectively in-hand. A Democrat did get elected, but isn't there -- or shouldn't there be -- more to our agenda than that?

This is what we're supposed to "get over" without any real accounting for what happened... at least until Boehlert's book came out.

I feel almost apologetic that the list is so long. I wish it were much shorter, ideally that there weren't anything at all to it. But all of these factors were, in my estimation, clear and present and significant in the progressive blogosphere during the Blog Wars.

For want of some reckoning for why it happened — and why we should be sure it's all behind us — I'll take a pass on that cup of STFU, if it's all the same to whom it may concern.

No votes yet


scoutt's picture
Submitted by scoutt on

I've already cut and past it to my archives.
I can't wait for the entire post.

ClareA's picture
Submitted by ClareA on

I was flabbergasted to observe members of what I naively believed to be the "progressive left" indulge in such bullying and sexism against fellow Democrats during the primaries...and even afterwards (just to make sure, I guess).

It was stunning to hear the same rightwing vitriol parroted by people who purported to support a "new kind of politics" of, believe it or not, HOPE.
They almost seemed to resemble those weaklings who repeat the in-group's nastiness toward some chosen target, in order to avoid being subjected to the same. An iimpressive testament to the effectiveness of the 90's era GOP propaganda.

And of course it was just b.s. ( that evil monster racist is our Secretary of State!), but it was very effective b.s.
Shouting, yelling, haranguing, bullying might makes right - was all righteous action when done in the Name of Our Candidate as it was for Bush apologists.

The winner of Advertising Age's " 2008 Marketer of the Year" also won the election. And all we got was a T Shirt.

Submitted by lambert on

Email? Horses heads? Detail!

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

That's what's so great about being Obama. Your supporters threaten to kill your other supporters for doing an insufficient job of covering up your offensive statements, and it's no big deal, really.

scoutt's picture
Submitted by scoutt on

That is perfect. Embodies the bullying I received from office neighbors with whom I had once been great pals.

Midway through the primary, my neighbors designed Obama posters with the word 'UNITED' on top of the inverted word 'DIVIDED' and asked me what I thought.

I responded that the execution was a poor demonstration of the concept that they were trying to communicate. They were defining and creating divisions with the 'this or that' presentation. I went on further to ask if they were positioning Obama in contrast to the other frontrunner, Clinton. If so, then weren't they adopting the rightwing framing of Hillary as divisive which was really misogyny and wasn't that incredibly divisive?

Oooh boy, everything went downhill fast from there. Everytime I challenged their thinking I was call 'unobjective' and 'overly emotional'. I was a 'sourpuss' and Bill Clinton was helping Hillary run a dishonorable campaign. I even asked on several occasions that we NOT discuss the election but they continued to bring it up over and over again.

Guess which site was their primary source of information?
Huffington Post.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Blind obeisance to Obama.

"Unity" sounds so nice and friendly doesn't it? It stays real friendly-like, if you're united on their terms, and only on their terms.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I know I keep saying I'll write my views, but no one will care anyway--and when I'm not busy, I'm trying to enjoy life before the excrement hits the fan. I'll take that proclamation as a sufficient excuse to just propose that it stems from lack of a fundamental political philosophy and an zealousness toward electioneering that puts winning an election as the ultimate end rather than a means. There also seems to be a strong desire to be part of the "in" crowd.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

A quick list:

A quest for hipness -- he was the obvious kewl kidz choice, she was obviously not
2000/2004 election PTSD and...
The Hope/Change message (a long-proven phenomenon in cult recruitment [there's a book on this, though the name escapes me at the moment])
A bizarre construction: fratboy political correctness
Being tainted by nearly two decades of CDS
Novelty / so-called Clinton fatigue (or Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton fatigue)
Historic historicity (racial breakthroughs are far more celebrated than gender breakthroughs)

Probably a lot more. I'll give it some thought....

scoutt's picture
Submitted by scoutt on

There's a gigantic piece that I haven't read a lot about but lurks in the back of my mind. It's the whole race thing that imho revealed a racism that runs murky on the left.

I'm rereading this and fearful that I might be opening a nasty can of worms. I apologize in advance for any poor word choices that I use to try to talk about race.

Two parts there -

First is the elevation of Obama to superliberal status because of his skin color. When if you looked at his record/history and listened to his campaign he WAS NOT more liberal than Hillary.

Second is that he (as Mssr. Sean Penn put it) is an 'elegant man'.
I think that moment was very telling.
When Bill Clinton compared Obama in SC to Jesse Jackson he was called racist. Why? Because Jesse is a black black (apologies if i'm being insensitive. I don't know the right way to describe this.) and somehow comparing him to JJ was pointing out his 'blackness' in a way that denigrated Obama. Isn't it racist to say that a comparison to a black black man is somehow an insult?
On the flip side, Obama is 'elegant' because he speaks a particular way and steers clear of 'the angry black man' issues and events. Somehow he can be taken more seriously.

There's a leftist racism there that we don't talk about.


Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

The racism of the left is about as subtle as a flying morningstar; but it is kept out of sight. Perhaps in 2012 there will be something different figuring into the choice of a candidate. Perhaps not; we must wait and see.

Barack Hussein Obama, meanwhile, is as black as Tyra Banks, Beyonce Knowles, or Halle Berry -- just enough, but not too much, to sell the product he's supposed to advertise. Suave, urbane, composed: nothing like a Jesse Jackson; tailored, in control, unmarked: nothing like a Martin Luther King, Junior. He's like Mr. Clean: sanforized and sanitized, made utterly wholesome and completely palatable.

Yet he draws fire from the left as no other Democrat (except maybe Hillary) in my memory, and he draws fire from the right as well (maybe not as much as Hillary).
Unlike Bill Clinton, though, Obama isn't being hated for living. He's being hated for having the gall to be alive, in the White House, as the President instead of as a manservant.

scoutt's picture
Submitted by scoutt on

I don't get that he's being hated because he's alive.
You're claiming that the anti-obamaists are driven by racism, right?

I used to reduce anti-liberalism to that kind of statement.
I can't do that anymore.

So are those on the left that are critical of obama racists?
I'm sure you don't believe that. So why would you say that about the
other half of the country?

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

is, but because of who he's not. I don't pretend to know what's driving anybody, these days. But yes, I'm sure a certain faction is against him because of who he is, or more pointedly who he is not: he is not John Sidney McCain III. He's not Mike Huckabee. He's not (thank FSM, Ceiling Cat and all the gods) Mitt Romney. You will note that not only are those all white guys, those are all Republican candidates. I'm sure if the GOP had been able to get Colin Powell to run (and lose) there'd be a fraction within that faction that hate Obama for not being Powell.

Some of it's because of what he's not, too. He's not the first woman to be elected to the Oval Office. That could've happened last year, but it didn't, by the narrowest of margins. There's a lot of hard feelings left because of that. But yes, it's because he expects to be taken seriously as a world leader, you know, seen as an equal (instead of kowtowed to as a bully).

Some of it's because he's not just another white guy. First time that's ever happened.

Some of it's fear, you know? He's a black guy. He's not an old guy.
He's pretty active, pretty physical; he looks fit, he moves like a man in good shape.

Then you look at his family: I mean, those kids are gorgeous, and Michelle Obama is no slouch either.

So there's that: you know, he's not a hip-hop icon with the bling and the tats and the 'tude, rockin' the hoodie and the sag, and neither are his wife or daughters. But, you know, on the other hand, he doesn't step off the walk for the white guys, and neither do his wife or daughters. He doesn't act like it's a big deal; it's just like he never thought he'd need to. In truly racist circles, that's more important than anything else -- he isn't deferential, he doesn't "show respect".

So maybe some of it's that -- hackles go up, whether it's cause he's not who people wanted or 'cause he's not who people expected.

Obama's not a cross between Mike Tyson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and that's really disappointed a few folks -- maybe, I guess, because on the campaign trail into the vague eloquence and the amorphous rhetoric, they read / heard Mike Tyson, Reverend Wright, Dr. King, and a whole universe of other voices. I saw photoshops of Obama in every guise from Harry Belafonte to Mr. T during the campaign; he's turning out not to be any of them, and I think that's proving tough on the folks who wanted him to be all of them.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

He "draws fire" from the left as little as could be possibly imagined for someone who constantly pisses on liberals and grabs the ball at our golden moment and cuts right with it.

Submitted by jawbone on

draw fire from the left, it's been about his breaking promises, taking actions very similar to and even beyond those of Bush/Cheney, holding on to powers accrued to the executive by BushCo's theory of the Unitary Executive and all powerful Commander in Chief (thus requiring war to keep those powers).

In other words, it's Obama's actions which have drawn criticism.

Imagine what joy there would be in Leftville had he only kept most of his promises!

If he'd lived up to his campaign promises, if he would fight for transparency as commonly undrstood (not as in there's nothing there), healthcare, abortion rights, not defend DOMA with language I've never heard from Democrats, not try to hide and justify torture....enough. Which blogger said he was impossible to mention all Obama's broken promises, and thus he would list the few things he's kept his word about?

Judge what he does; not whether he is elegant, is described as elegant, or however he looks.

talesoftwokitties's picture
Submitted by talesoftwokitties on

have drawn criticism from the left. His skin color is irrelevant to those making those criticisms.

I think I understand the point Scoutt is making. Those that called Bill Clinton a racist for comparing JJ to Obama were on the LEFT. In the primaries race was used as a wedge by the LEFT and it pissed the hell out of me. It completely contradicted what the democrats traditionally stand for. It still makes me mad.

BoGardiner's picture
Submitted by BoGardiner on

You know, I had that same sense, Scoutt, that racism lay under the anger toward Bill Clinton for mentioning Jesse Jackson. It seemed so out of proportion, so tinged with, well, fear, that, methought, they doth protest too loudly. Having chanted myself, "Keep Hope Alive!" with Jesse at a protest, I was confused at first. The "marginalizing" argument seemed a stretch, given the context of Bill's actual comment. Then a sinking feeling set in, that people were uncomfortable thinking of Obama as being "like that." It felt racist to me, and I didn't like it. Jesse must surely have felt the same way, but was in no position to say so.

My fear that this was racism felt further confirmed when the "bigoted and marginalizing" excuse for their anger was never raised by liberals when Hillary Clinton was compared to a slew of irrelevant women, most notably Palin. Liberals never compared Palin to Joe Biden, always Hillary Clinton. Now THERE was real marginalizing.

Submitted by Randall Kohn on

Though I can't imagine the surprise - he point blank told us he was.

The Reagan Democrats have come home - the Broders, the Noonans et al. And they're in charge. The "Democratic" Party is really the Reagan Republican Party. The "other" party is the Huckabee Party.

Good luck to us all.

mojave_wolf's picture
Submitted by mojave_wolf on

I don't think the lack of well thought out fundamental political philosophy is part of the issue, at least on the part of the average voter (maybe in the democratic leadership, though one would think they have such, even if it's not what we would like it to be). I'm going with too much tribalism, and people being too easily led in a particular direction whilst ignoring all evidence that might cause them to rethink their position, or be horrified at the tactics of their allies. How to keep people from being too easily led is the problem, and how to get them to more closely and rationally examine candidates and the evidence . . . not that I have a solution for this just yet, mind you, but I do think it is the root of the problem.

Make that one root. The other root consists of two parties, both of which do indeed see winning as a goal rather than a means to an end, both of which want people easily manipulable, and neither which seem to have an moral stopping point in how they achieve winning, and indeed to find the whole idea of such morality laughable.

I have a solution to that -- get a viable third party or toss out all the current dem leadership and get better people in (maybe make an exception for Pelosi as the best of the current bunch, for all she was part of the problem in getting us to where we're at now, she has done some decent things lately and may have learned from last year's mistakes).

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

really calling me out for trollery.

I think you're onto something with both the tribalism and the manipulation (and I figure if losing analog tv signals doesn't get thru to the general public not a lot will, 'cause now you can't listen to the tv over your radio unless it's digital), but I don't have a solution for either one.

Well, wait. Not a legal, socially acceptable solution.

So I have two. One is tedious and probably full of fail, 'cause it means renewing the Fairness Doctrine and making radio stations and TV talk shows give equal time to both sides of an issue (note, that is NOT the same thing as a screaming match loaded to 'prove' the host network's 'side' a la Faux). This would have to happen via legislation, and we all know how much of that's on our side these days.

The other one I stole off Willie: "Get all the rope in Texas, find a tall oak tree ..."

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Especially in people being unable to rethink their positions and back away from the truthiness, groupthink, bullying, etc.

So, how did Obama become the choice of the FKD tribe? Are the answers in my list, or somewhere else? Certainly, some decisions were made in backrooms as he became the "anti-establishment candidate" with nearly every establishment endorsement.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

as evidence of his transcendent quality. Here was a netroots lefty that the establishment could love. Look! They're coming over here to join us on this venture! Uh huh. And every endorsement was seen as more and more proof that he was the one that could bring the establishment to the left. I knew everything was really going off the rails when Zbig's endorsement was seen a triumph at DK - a place that should have trembled in fear when that happened.

What the netroots left behind was their historical awareness of how the establishments treats the candidate who is the bigger threat to them. What happened to Gore and Dean, happened to Clinton. What happened to Bush and Reagan, happened to Obama. But the netroots was so blinded by lust and by love that they never bothered with the algebra on the fairly simple equation laid in front of their eyes. And now we have, a really ugly hybrid of Bush and Reagan with very little FDR in the mix.

oceansandmountains's picture
Submitted by oceansandmountains on

I recall at DK and myDD how OFB were rapturous over republicans and more conservative independents flocking to Obama. I got nothing but grief anytime I pointed out that the support of those who gave us 8 years of W was hardly a ringing endorsement.

Like a bunch of moths attracted by the open flame, the netroots are going to be a danger to themselves and others until they learn to incorporate actual historical perspective (especially when emotionally unpalatable historical facts are part of it) into the immediacy of the intertubez.

Submitted by lambert on

But I think I'll wait for the opportunity closer to home. I stopped reading TPM when WKJM took over, though I'll look with interest at what the other bloggers say.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

one of the most succinct description of the blog wars I have ever read.

Submitted by lambert on

Here's the sig I distilled from "responses" to posts on The Obama 527 Formerly Known As Daily Kos. I'm surprised at how early it is -- 1/25/2008. The post is sad, since it shows what might have been, both for Obama the man, and also for how, I think, many of could have been brought to support him on Constitutional issues like FISA, if he had taken a stand. Oh well.

I should say it's not the "mean things on the internet" I'm pointing to, here -- rather that this is a distillation. The sheer volume, and the sheer inability to engage in any other way, was astonishing to me. It was as if the comments section had turned into a first person shooter video game.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

and acknowledge that reality.

It is hard.

It is painful.

It is not fun.

But it is true.

However it happened, it is now a fact. Within the rule of law and the limits of the Constitution, there is nothing to be done -- you cannot go back and get a mulligan on the primaries, or on the general election (and nor would I on the general).

So what we have to do is the best we can where we are with what we have.
Weeping, wailing, gnashing our teeth, and moaning about what might have been or should have been or how we were all handled -- how women and the poor and blacks and Hispanics and the elderly and veterans were all thrown under the bus -- is fine for making ourselves feel better about the situation IF it makes us feel better.

But when, demonstrably, it doesn't make us feel better and it serves no purpose other than to reinforce our separatist sense of our own special value in the world, as visionaries or seers or seekers or victims or whatever it is we want to use our disenchantment with the Democratic Party and President Obama specifically to do,
if we do nothing to better our circumstances, to uplift our fellows, to force the changes we want out of the politicians we find wanting, then what good does it do?

What arises from it that helps us, or anyone else?

We can snark all we want, and make cutesy references to Whoever Kidnapped Josh Marshall, and put down the House and Senate leadership as inadequate or uncaring. That's our right as Americans.

But if that's all we do, how are we better than those very same politicians who let us down?

mojave_wolf's picture
Submitted by mojave_wolf on

While I did just make a purely snarky for-the-sake-of-amusement-and-catharsis comment in this thread, VL's original post and Boehlert's book are important, just as the far too marginalized "WTF happened?" dissections of 2000 and 2004 were important. Learn from past defeats to prevent them in the future.

I don't think most of us believed that people on the left/liberal/progressive democratic front could be so easily manipulated and turned against one of their own, that sexism could be used to such effect so easily (and even amid feminist circles) or that it would be so easy to mount an army of rabid weasel shock troops, or that the democratic leadership would so blatantly favor one choice over the others and work so hard (cheat and accept worse cheating so blatantly, one might say) to ensure that a favored candidate beat a less favored one.

And if all this was, in fact, orchestrated on behalf of a Republican in Democrat's clothing, as I pretty think is clear right now, there's a lesson there, too.

And yeah, we are stuck w/President Obama, just as we were stuck with President Bush. And just as at the beginning of of Bush's term, I was hoping for good things for Obama and even went out of my way to praise him on the Ledbetter Act and overturning the global gag order (interesting and worth noting that his two early genuinely liberal acts were both on women's issues, when mostly women PUMA's were his harshest sane/real critics -- yes, I'm saying the right wingers are either delusional or just criticizing him for form's sake), and was privately thinking places like here were not being lavish enough w/their praise for these things, despite my personal loathing of the guy.

But he's had his chance, and across the board, he has been awful. At this point, I think the best tactic is to try to hammer him they way he hammered his political opponents, and either force him to the left or bring him, Reid, Hoyer and the rest down in 2010 and 2012, while pushing for grassroots support of individual issues we care about (which, in fact, seems like what this blog is doing). (Pelosi, much as she has upset me repeatedly, seems clearly our best bet among the current dem leadership and at this moment, I have no interest in bringing her down and would be dismayed to see it from others).

On everything from the environment to civil rights, the current dem leadership has framed themselves to be as much the enemy of progressives as the republicans are, and to paraphrase Avedon, I think they all are basically Republicans. Not fundies, maybe, but there are plenty of non-fundie Republicans out there, some of whom are probably to the left of Obama and Reid on numerous issues that concern me.

mojave_wolf's picture
Submitted by mojave_wolf on

They didn't show up in the preview so I got rid of and added them all back again,and still not here. Sorry about the giant block.

[VL edit: I reset your comment to "Filtered HTML," so the breaks are back.]

Submitted by hipparchia on

i check the 'input format' at the bottom of the comment box -- the 'filtered html' and 'full html' options treat paragraphs differently. usually the default is filtered html, but sometimes it switches to full html, which makes paragraph breaks disappear [unless you use p tags].

mojave_wolf's picture
Submitted by mojave_wolf on

My bad for missing that option, but at least will know to look at it next time instead of rewriting and hoping.

Submitted by hipparchia on

[probably it's the corrente hamsters running backwards on their wheels]. i only accidentally discovered it.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Your comment rehashes handy little, disempowering memes that don't have the slightest grain of truth to them.

Go read my post. Where does it in any way suggest either:

1. An inability to understand and accept the reality of who is president?
2. Hillary Clinton fan worship? Any speculation whatsoever about how ponylicious life would be under President Hillary Clinton?

The blogosphere/Democratic Party/activist community had a break from reality and fair play, and that break wasn't among people who smelled something rotten in the state of the FKD Party.

You're taking the Scalia "get over it" position, and I'm taking the Somerby "let's clean up our media and our politics by understanding what went wrong and is still wrong" position.

Takes all kinds, I guess.

Submitted by lambert on

VastLeft writes:

Go read my post. Where does it in any way suggest either: .... 2. Hillary Clinton fan worship?

Anybody "suggested" that where? I don't see it. It's a standard trope, but not used in Sarah's above, to which you respond.*

I agree with you that setting the record straight, which is part of cleaning up the media, is something that is necessary. (It's also, if our experience with Bush is any guide, going to take two or three years.)

I agree with Sarah that it is not sufficient.

NOTE * Another standard trope is that the President we have is better than the alternative (McCain), or worse (Hillary). Well, that's not knowable and it is arguable. I don't have any interest in arguing it, because counterfactual history is not my genre. I'm dealing with the President we have, period -- as I have been since September, when the collapse Lehman Brothers elected him.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on


you cannot go back and get a mulligan on the primaries, or on the general election (and nor would I on the general).

So what we have to do is the best we can where we are with what we have.
Weeping, wailing, gnashing our teeth, and moaning about what might have been or should have been

Any other suggestions on how to make Sarah's comment something other than an appallingly wrongheaded brushback pitch?

mojave_wolf's picture
Submitted by mojave_wolf on

No one else woud ever say such.

Or else a racist who just can't stand the idea of black man being president. And if you say you were a fan of Jesse Jackson's in '88, you're lying. Also, you remind me of an old farting dog.

Or maybe you are just insane. What kind of angel dust you been mixing in your crack pipe?

And why do you Hillary lovers keep coming around and personally attacking us and whining and then complain when we defend ourselves? Racist whiners!

Hillary advocates women being raped, just look at her immigration policy, and is anti-choice and she and Bill were blatantly racist. And hate gays. And are racist hate mongers who are personally responsible for the Iraq war, almost as much as Bush. Whereas Obama is our one chance to get a peace-loving progressive in there! And you are delusional for thinking anything else. Probably because you are a racist.

If you really believe there was any bias at all from Obama supporters and not loads of evil massive racism and bullying and sheer hatred from Hillary supporters, you are racist, delusional and on drugs of some sort. Obama isn't even defending himself from the vicious racist attacks; he's taking the high road.

Also, you are blinded by your privilege. I don't care if I'm white and upper middle class and my parents are paying for my comfy education and nice place to live and all my partying, I know privilege when I see it and you are so privileged it is running out of your ears.

Not that I'm still clinging to bitter memories of things that were said to me or anything . . .

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

but ask what you can do for your country." I thought the Democrat who said that was onto something.

But you go right ahead and see what you want to see. Hear what you want to hear.

I'm an old yellow-dog Democrat. I heard this firsthand, and I clapped then:

I'm the only president you've got.
Lyndon B. Johnson

and I still think the only President we've got is a hell of a lot better than the one we might have had.

mojave_wolf's picture
Submitted by mojave_wolf on

See giant blocky comment that won't let me edit it above, and also from my lj this quote here (slightly improved from my original):

(1) What difference does it make for the Dems to be in charge if they actually accomplish more badness than the Repubs would have been able to? Answer: It would be better if they weren't.

(2) They didn't have to compromise this year. Any of the top dems would have won last year, and they could have won it running on the Kucinich platform instead of the Blue-Dog-modified-by slight-concessions-to Hillary-so-she-would-haul-in her-supporters-for-them platform, which they haven't even lived up to.

(3) Most crucial to Avedon's conclusion: Obama is hugely popular. The majority of the public is desperate and terrified and willing to follow him any vaguely credible place he goes, or, apparently, any truly horrific not remotely credible place he goes, based on results so far. He has nearly the fanatic cult-like devotion that Bush had post-9/11. Anything Obama does at this point is because he chooses to do it. He is governing like an authoritarian socially conservative corporatist because that's how he wants to govern. One is reminded of the oft-repeated story of his former law school roomie's surprise that Obama had chosen to run as a Democrat, not a Republican, given that Obama's beliefs meshed much more closely to that of the GOP.

so, as said above, hammer him on individual issues while working to get rid of him and his Repub in Dem clothing buddies in future elections.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

do I hate Obama just because he is alive? Do I deny that he was made president?

Who are these people on the left who are not subtle in their racism that you repeatedly speak of? Who are those on the left--or at Corrente--who deny Obama is president that you so often chastise? You can hide behind your rosy and lofty strawman rhetoric all you want, but it doesn't make it any less of a strawman, to put it diplomatically.

Your lectures are stale and out of touch with what most people here are talking about. Its almost as if you don't even bother to address the points people raise but want to throw out subtle charges of racism and sour grapes. Some of us have enough first hand experience to have a good idea what is and isn't racism. And we don't need the words of others to deflect questions that are raised.

Submitted by lambert on

To quote Sarah:

But if that's all we do, how are we better than those very same politicians who let us down?

I'm sort of amazed that nobody seems to be able to read to the end of the comment and resppnd....
"We" I take as systemic, and not person A, person B, etc.

Evidently, the primaries are still very hard to discuss.

NOTE As for people who deny, there are plenty of "birthers" out there, though none here, thank gawd. The state of the Obama critique is not all that it it could be, and that's been a continuing problem.

oceansandmountains's picture
Submitted by oceansandmountains on

I read this post and its comments. Hmmm, the juxtaposition was interesting to say the least.

We can stand up and fight for principles (although not as articulately and effectively as possible, I grant you that) or take another slurp of the steaming hot STFU and revel in the crumbs the FKDP sees fit to let fall from the table.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

and I guess a lot of readers never make it to the bottom of my comments.

But yes, what I meant was "we" as in systemic, but also "we" as in, you, me, CD, MJS, RDF ... I'm about to pull something on you I got from a Sunday School class a long time ago, but I've seen it used with sewing classes, computer classes, cooking classes and networking classes too: "each one, teach one."

It's how I learned to do embroidery, crochet, making biscuits and pie crust, and operate a circular saw, over the past 40-odd years. It's how I taught computer skills in the 1990 census. It's very similar to "see one, do one, teach one," which is so old I think it was introduced to the military from medicine instead of vice versa.

Letters to the editor, if you still have a newspaper. Call your local radio station's shows, not the national hotlines. Vote! Advocate for the issues that are important to you -- do you belong to a gardening club yet, Lambert?

If you're unemployed or underemployed, volunteer someplace nobody else is volunteering. I know somebody who learned to repair prosthetics as part of a community service project (okay, very basic repairs; but it was a Life Scout, and it did cause him to get into an ergonomics/engineering specialty in college -- there's always a demand for engineers in the medical field.)

Meanwhile: go to the library, go to the park, garden, walk or bike when/where you can, fix what you already own instead of buying inferior junk at the big box retail crap factory ... in short, behave the way your grandparents did in the crashes of the 1930s and 1950s and 1970s. It won't be as flashy or shiny, but at the far end of it not only will you have gotten through, but you'll have met neighbors, made friends, and acquired skills -- all of which will serve you well when (yet another) political con artist throws you under (yet another) bus.
I have figured out that having politics as the sole focus of my universe only leads to bigger bills for antacid. So come in from the side or the back or underneath, where "politics" isn't the focus but people /issues / passions are. "Networking" doesn't have to be something you do only at Party meetings; it can be something you do yakking over your back fence bitching about what the squirrels or deer have stolen out of your garden this year. Know any model train hobbyists, or RC airplane flyers? Know any dedicated hikers or campers or Scouts?

'S amazing how much more people are willing to *think* when what they care about, instead of what Rush blabs about, is what they're focused on.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

redundant, wouldn't we?

There is something I can't put my finger on in the general dissatisfaction with what the results, so far, of the new administration have been, and it bugs me.

I will ask again.

What makes us better than / different from those with whom we disagree, if we do not act from our disagreement to improve not just our own lot but those of our families, friends, neighbors -- and those of, as Lambert's tried to do by offering bandwidth, our neighbors on the other side of the world?

I can't go to Banda Aceh to rebuild housing for people left homeless by the tsunami. That's not because I don't care; that's because, physically and financially, it is beyond my means. To my sorrow, right now it's also financially beyond my means to contribute so others can do that. But not letting the problem be forgotten is something I can do. By the same token, I can't stop the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan or Darfur (don't kid yourself. The war there is mostly on women and kids, but it's still a war). But I can try to convince people who do have the power to change our national policy to pay attention and do the right thing.

So I say again, whether it's donating your last year's National Geographics to waiting rooms at VA clinics (or, better still, to an urban library, and then volunteering an hour a week to help tutor kids in English or math or science) or raising half-a-million dollars to finance a needy kid's surgery ('cause, you know, "socialized medicine" is such a bad bad thing! ... except the way we do it here, which is like every damn thing else in our country: we socialize all the risk and all the sweat and all the tears and all the bloodshed, and we PRIVATIZE all the profits), there's something we can do instead of or in addition to just being disgusted with how the government's going about our business.

Maybe we're not enough, one at a time, of a force to change the world; maybe all each of us can do is, you know, feed one hungry guy one sandwich once, or stand a barricade so one cop can go check on his family after a tornado, or sack up half-a-dozen cans of beans for the food drive -- and maybe things are tight enough we have to use those cans to pay for a bus ride in the bargain. But if each of us does one thing, that's better than nobody doing anything.

It's like the polar opposite of the "can't fix it all so why try to fix any of it" we get over the teevee, out of the Lege, and endlessly piled on via DC. Don't try to fix it all; raise Cain about it, but, you know, fix what you can where you're at with what you've got when the chance appears.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

A completely untrue and unearned -- and oh, so easy -- implication that I (and those like me) have some difficulty accepting the reality of the situation, and that we're crying in our beer wishing for a mulligan.

It's disempowering hogwash I could get at a zillion shitty blogs, but not what I'd hope to encounter here.

You can walk it back or defend it. But changing the subject isn't going to make it right.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Shakesville has a post about how the Secret Service has refused two requests to release a list of visitors to the WH, one for all visitors since Jan. 20 and a narrower one just for coal executives. (Change!) In the comments, Melissa McEwan writes:

Hey! 'Member when during the primaries I pointed out Obama's stump speech included vague promises of "more transparency" but Clinton's included a specific promise to roll back the executive orders that expanded the power of the presidency? 'Member how I said Clinton's details amounted to a campaign promise for which she'd be held accountable and Obama's lack of details amounted to a soundbite that was ultimately meaningless?

'Member how I got called an asshole for that?

Good times.

Good times, indeed!

Other than the misogyny, the most depressing thing for me during the primaries - and remains depressing in some parts of blogistan and life generally - was the inability to have an intelligent discussion or disagreement with folks. I'm a lawyer. I have no problem disagreeing with folks. I enjoy mixing it up, in fact. But so many times I'd just get rightwing CDS talking points or koolaid inspired vapidness ("he's so cool!") that you couldn't even have an argument. And since one of the things I've become absolutely convinced of is that the decline in our culture and dialogue is what is truly destroying this country, making any real progress increasingly impossible, it was extremely depressing to watch the supposed SMART people descend into arguments using talking points that were no more factually correct than a Jonah Goldberg editorial. THAT'S the real damage, IMO. Because once you're willing to sacrifice critical thinking,* you're done. Nothing progressive is possible, I don't care who the president is.

* Note, I don't mean "critical thinking" as a synonym for agreeing with me. I mean critical thinking in the sense that you base your arguments on actual facts and not on fantasy and made up crap. There were some Obama supporters who did this, but there were too many who blindly followed. It's not the follow I have a problem with, it's the blindly.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

The "following" part does tend to be a gateway into the "blindly" part, though, doesn't it.

In fact, what is following other than giving yourself over to someone else's lead? I guess the distinction is how deep in the Big Muddy you have to get before you start questioning the marching orders.

talesoftwokitties's picture
Submitted by talesoftwokitties on

Critical thinking is on the wane. I used to teach middle school science and was able to do a lot of activities which focused on using critical thinking skills. Maybe some of my kids are using them now, 20 years later, I sure hope so!