Michael Wolraich's picture

    Open Thread: What's the Matter with Washington?

    Savor this lame duck moment, for the tempest is coming. The 112th U.S. Congress will convene on January 3. Many of the new Republican representatives share an extreme agenda and a passionate disdain for their Democratic colleagues. The feeling is probably mutual. Get ready for a 3-D remake of the classic 1994 gridlock flick, "Republican Revolution."

    Isn't it ironic? (Not in a literary way but in the less pedantic sense that Alanis Morissette meant.) In 2008, Obama ran for election promising to end Washington's dysfunctional partisan wars. In 2010, voters pummeled Democrats for his failure to fulfill that promise--by defeating moderates from both parties and electing even more partisan conservatives.

    How did we get into this vicious cycle? Is it all the fault of the Republicans? Fox News? Obama? Corporate campaign donations? How do we get out of it?

    Or is my prediction off? Will Obama sit down with Boehner and sort the whole thing out?



    I blame you. Clearly dag†blog did not do enough to educate the public.

    It's Wolfrum's fault. I wanted to educate the public, but he just wanted funny dog videos. Bad Wolfrum!

    Ha ha ha! The dog licked its butt! 

    Great stuff!

    Request: More cat vs. dog. 

    Movement conservatism will destroy the New Deal legacy, including privatizing the safety net where that is seen as providing more money for Wall Street to gamble with, if it thinks it can get Obama and the Dems to co-own that.  Part of the agenda involves destroying what is left of the unions, seen as necessary to obtain freer reign in cutting wages and benefits further so as better to compete with lower labor-cost production sites, as well as to reduce the deficit while keeping or further increasing tax cuts for the already wealthy.  The current economic conditions are seen by the Right as providing the necessary crisis atmosphere to force through the austerity agenda necessary to finish the job. 

    It would seem as though there has to be further equilibration of wages between the outsourceable US labor markets and those abroad. The best case scenario for US workers would be that the globalization train, which long ago left the station, is slowed down to make the gruesome transition somewhat less painful.  But who would slow it down?  Finish destroying the unions, keep pummeling the liberals, and the answer is no one, which is good for profits. 

    Shared sacrifice would have been possible had we a corporate leadership in this country which has any commitment to the security and well-being of ordinary people in this country, versus getting whatever they can now, including off the taxpayers' backs if need be.

    Of course none of this is openly discussed.  And there is no vision being offered that might be able to compete with it.

    So are you saying that conservatives have been purposefully sabotaging bipartisan cooperation in order to undermine New Deal institutions?

    And what does that have to do with the corporate leadership and alternative visions?

    So are you saying that conservatives have been purposefully sabotaging bipartisan cooperation in order to undermine New Deal institutions?

    Key GOP strategist Grover Norquist likened bipartisanship to "date rape".  Going back to 1994, Bill Kristol urged GOP members of Congress to oppose Clinton's HC reform sight unseen.  His belief was that if it passed and worked a lot of Reagan Dems would go back to the Dems for a long time.  And there was Rove's GOP's strategy of positive polarization for the 2004 election; if memory serves, the wedge issue they used to try to make that work was the Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. 

    The game has been: block popular economic opportunity/economic security legislation benefiting the middle class, which is the Democrats' potential strength and the GOP's liability.  Blame the Dems for being ineffective--not passing the legislation they have blocked--and/or partisan.  This will help erode the popularity and credibility of liberal Democrats on pocketbook issues.  Also actively demonize the liberal and Democratic brands. 

    And what does that have to do with the corporate leadership and alternative visions?

    Discredit, thwart, demonize the liberal and Democratic brand, and this chips away at the barriers to enacting the GOP, corporate-supported economic agenda of deregulation, privatization and tax reduces.  Which has done very well regardless of which party has been in power, as when Clinton went along with two key financial dereg measures late in his 2nd term which have come back to haunt us. 

    Re alternative visions, the old saw on first rule of advocacy is you can't beat something with nothing. Ask 5 people you know--heck, 5 Dems you know--what the Democratic party's ideas are to help and better protect the middle class with the enormous challenges this economic globalization poses.  You'll get 6 different answers, 2 from one of the Dems who can't quite make up his mind which it is.  Which helps explain why the popular anger, unrest and anxiety, instead of supporting what was being done under a Democratic-controlled federal government as was largely the case under FDR, was directed at the party in power earlier this month.  What anxious voters saw was the Democrats rescuing wealthy, ethically challenged screwups and letting them walk away with sweet taxpayer-funded bonuses, but little action to help ordinary people with jobs.  Much to their dismay.  So why would it be a shock when they rejected that with gusto?  They expected different and better when they put the Dems in power in 2008.

    I think that deep down people like partisanship.  They only don't like it when they think the other party is winning or stopping them from getting something.  Disagreeing with me is partisan.  Agreeing with me is cooperation.

    I love wrestling when I'm holding the folding chair.

    Some people certainly like partisanship, but I don't think that they're the ones who voted for Obama's post-partisan message.

    Or are you saying that even the anti-partisan indies secretly like partisanship? If so why? And why is has been intensifying?

    I think a good number of people who voted for Obama's post-partisan message did it because they thought he'd use some sort of magic post partisan techniques to get Democratic ideas turned into law.  Ultimately it was still about getting our ideas turned into reality.  The partisanship part, defined as parliamentary games and CNN's Crossfire is what many of them saw as a silly obstacle to turning good ideas into good practices.

    I don't think any of these moderates were really looking for "a little bit of this and a little bit of that" from both sides.  What they found out was that our current system has been so bent and twisted by the partisans that Obama's attempts to get around them by, you know, treating people like grown ups, didn't work.  Actually, he got an amazing amount done that way.  But it wasn't what everyone was looking for.

    Then I think the base got disillusioned and, anyway, it was the midterms and no post partisans were running, just those old old people, and so they stayed home.  Meanwhile the fierce partisans on the right sensed our weakness, showed up and stomped us, in one case in Kentucky, quite literally.

    a good number of people who voted for Obama's post-partisan message did it because they thought he'd use some sort of magic post partisan techniques to get Democratic ideas turned into law.

    Well I'll give you that many Democrats ending up thinking that, if you want to call them a "good number of people" that's fine with  me, Wink  and I believe many of them deluded themselve in the process. But he won the presidency by making sure that Independents  and "post-partisan" fans didn't think that, by running a campaign separate from the party structure, and one focused on Obama the post partisan. Actually, lots of Dems didn't like him at first, he was seen as the most conservative of the primary crowd, they preferred other candidates like John Edwards. He won Iowa with his post-partisan talk, the post-partisan kids started to crazy over him like a rock star, and the rest started to jump on that bandwagon and deluded themselves about him being a classci Dem, forgetting all they had read about him. Go back to Daily Kos ito the right time period and you'll find more Obama bashing than Obamamania.

    Many of the old Republican representatives are also wary of their new Republican colleagues.

    To pay lip service to the Tea Party, the Reps now have to look like they are shrinking the government while at the same time continuing to funnel pork to their districts. But they do have Obama and the Senate to blame for not accomplishing that.

    Certainly. And yet these old Republicans participated in the Tea Parties' aggressive anti-liberal rhetoric--even before the Tea Parties started. Why?

    I'd say partially because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," but they must have felt the wave and resisted the urge to hate competition from the "Judean People's Front." They went from booing Ron Paul in the 2008 presidential debates to wooing Rand Paul followers in less than two years.

    "Felt the wave"

    Then what was the earthquake that started the tsunami? Or was this some kind of random lunar fluctuation.

    The bailout of Wall Street.

    Nah, Republicans' pandering to the conservative based began long before then. You haven't been reading your Blowing Smoke. (Or else you disagree with it, which is even more reprehensible.)

    I'm differentiating between the conservative base and the libertarian conservatives that got the Tea Party rolling.

    I'm not sure that I buy the distinction. But let's put it another way. Congressional dysfunction didn't begin with the Tea Parties. When did our contemporary problems start and why?

    Just musing--perhaps the near parity of the political parties that began in 1994 catalyzed the conflict. Prior to that, the GOP languished in perpetual minority. Their only hope for influence was to compromise. But in the past 15 years, their greater political strength has enabled them to fight and win.

    OK, I missed the point of your 3:46 comment. I was talking about more recent history. Why did Reps fall in line against liberals before?

    Even moderate conservatives truly didn't like some of the changes in society that liberalism brought, but before the oil shock and (yes I'll say it) stagflation under Carter, times were good enough for everyone that they were willing to accept them. Although Reagan preached morning in America, people in power knew hard times were coming and figured it was a good time to start pushing back against the share-the-wealth largesse of the Democratic-dominated congresses. So they focussed on divisive issues like abortion and religion, as you discussed, divided and conquered.

    Where is the messaging about that "bailout" actually returning a profit?

    Genghis, an open thread is a good idea right about now. I think that Republicans are running so hard to that exit marked "extreme right wing" than they are stumbling over each other. My impression is that in each new electoral season Republicans are worried about primary challenges to their right. In this context it seems that obstructionism of the current president is a badge of honor taken into the next primary.

    The rightward tilt of Republicans is not necessarily showing up in surveys as the desire of the populace at large--a recent survey showing that only 17% (IF I remember correctly) of repsondents considered this election a mandate for Republicans. Instead, the message of voters seems to be anger at the Congressional process and the people in charge.

    I think Republicans will continue to be obstructionists thinking they can win another election blaming Obama for the bad economy and the absence of jobs. It remains to be seen if this current crop of Republicans is misreading the voters' frustrations and to what extent Republicans will be punished in the next election just as the Democrats in control were punished this time around. 

    But why are Republicans facing challenges from the right? According to conventional political strategy, when a party loses big, it moves to the center to try to win back independents. But Republicans didn't do that in 2006 or 2008. If anything, they focused on the right-wing base. Why?

    And does that mean that the extreme right wing is solely responsible for the poisonous political climate?

    Hah! Don't have much of a clue. Some kind of reductionism. Purification. Maybe it's like boiling down chicken stock. This is great stuff, only now there's not enough left to feed all the hungry voters. Or religious aceticism--if I'm pure enough this will work out well for me. It seems crazy. What bothers me is that they may be on to something that will work out for them. My groundless hope is that '10 was a watershed, but that is dangerous thinking. As far as "poisonous", there's nothing like a self righteous s.o.b. to make everyone feel like throwing dishes. Now, I hope you'll give me the answer.

    Maybe in the next book. ;)

    The GOPer's move farther to the right simply because their based moved there...they don't have a choice unless they abandon them, which would give Democrats an open political field without any substantial advasary to oppose them.

    I'm beginning to think it is something like the law of the jungle and the alpha male thing, transgendered of course. The Alpha person hangs on as long as possible, getting reckless and doubling down near the end of power, then someone comes in and knocks him off and the pendulum swings--that's intra party. Inter party, the young bucks are trying to take the old power structure down with end runs to the base--which can make for a vulnerable interregnum.

    I think it started with 1994 election when the Republicans realized that they could win control of Congress and that with the contract for a new america Americans were open to treating the elections from a national level.  Before that it was basically true when Tip said that all politics is local.  That is still much the case, but every election cycle see more and more movement towards bundling one's own senators and representatives up with the overall performance of his or her party.  I heard another pundit a few years back talk about the power of the incumbent by saying people are upset with Congress in general but they love their own reps and senators.  This is becoming less and less true.  For better or for worse.

    So now the RNC, DNC and other forces are more likely to put money and energy into global attacks on the party on the other side of the aisle.  It's all about branding.  Now the politician is less his or her own brand and merely one product under the larger brand of their party. 

    Even with campaign finance reform, the partisan fighting would continue.  In fact, reform might even increase the partisanship as attacking the party brand would be seen as a strategic edge after losing the financial edge because of the reform. 

    The only way out is with increasing the number of highly engaged citizens who do not respond to 30 second ads, but rather make informed decisions based on quality information about the political stances of the two (or more) candidates running. 

    The only way out is with increasing the number of highly engaged citizens who do not respond to 30 second ads, but rather make informed decisions based on quality information about the political stances of the two (or more) candidates running.


    We are screwed.

    Yeah, basically.

    In every orifice...

    Stilli, orifices, and Thanksgiving.  Just like clockwork, every year.  I swear.  ;o)

    Have a good holiday, Stilli.

    Hee!  Now that made me laugh.  Happy Thanksgiving, Stardust, and everyone.


    Interesting. This is the most novel explanation I've heard to date. So basically, you're saying that the parties' marketing advances have de-emphasized local representation and turned the country into a giant turf war between the political equivalent of Crypts and Bloods. I wonder if there are available statistics to document the parties' branding strategies.

    In addition to overshadowing local representation, I imagine that stronger party brand would diminish the power of distinct subgroups that might be tempted to work with the opposition on particular issues.

    But how the hell do you increase informed decisionmaking by the citizenry?


    Although "Crypts" is more evocative.

    Crips.  Not Crypts.  You're losin' your street cred!

    I agree though, politics isn't local anymore.  Look at what almost happened in Nevada.

    Street cred? I'm just a white boy from Iowa. We didn't even have crystal meth back then.

    He only works in outer space.

    I can say here in Indiana, Ellsworth was attacked in tv commercials for basically for being a stooge for Peolisi and Obama.  That was it for the attack ads.  It was worded in a way that didn't imply he believed in what he voted for, only that he did the bidding of the Dem leadership.  Also, here in Indiana the Republicans on a state government level swept into power.  So on a state level, it is probably seen as a positive thing as well.

    The value of this type of marketing strategy I think, from the party's point of view, is that whenever someone in the other party screws up or puts out a gaffe, they gain an advantage.  The Dems saw this in 2006 real well when all the corruption and sex scandals came out regarding republicans.  Even someone like Lincoln Chaffee, who was the least like the image of the "bad republican" was swept up and thrown out, a Dem taking his place.

    And how do we increase the informed decisonmaking by the citizenery? Through a transformational cultural paradigm shift. Hee. 

    Before I left the USofA in 2004, many discussions I had at a local coffee shop full of pre-tea-baggers and GOPer's were basically in line with Party over the Person...if the person was a GOPer that's all that counted. It was as if being a GOPer meant you would do what was "right" so the candidate didn't have to have a platform other than attack their opponents. I noted this behavior back in the mid-90's too with tons of Clinton bashes.

    Another question for AT: Are Dems doing it too? It's hard to imagine a Blue Dog emphasizing the Democratic brand. WTF is the Democratic brand these days anyway?


    Oh and ... Did you happen to read Nate Silver's rundown?

    2010: An Aligning Election


    Thanks OGD. Interesting article. The last paragraph supports AT's explanation:

    But generally it seems like we have entered a period in which races for Congress have become highly nationalized, and in which few potentially competitive races are conceded by either party and few incumbents are given a free pass. That could mean we’ll continue to see some wild swings over the next several election cycles.

    When one looks at the approval ratings of both parties, I don't think many are emphasizing their own party's brand, rather they turn their attention to lowering the other party's brand.  Which is what fuels the partisanship.  If I was focused on my own brand, I could see how working on solutions with the other side could improve my brand.  But if my focus is on just making the other party's brand lower, then it is my interest to ensure they have no successes and if possible to cause them to have some kind of trainwreck.  

    But yes both sides are doing it.  Remember the Dem's messaging of the "culture of corruption" back in the lead up to the 2006 election. 

    I would say that this strategy works primarily for the minority party (Dems in 2006, Repubs in 2010) since the blame for getting nothing done or getting something bad done can be placed at the feet of those in control.   But like Obama and company tried this past election, those in power can harken back to the last time the other party was in control - "do we want to return to that?" messaging.  While one may think the question is valid, there is actually no way of knowing if this new Republican controllled congress would have been the same as the old one.  And definitely wouldn't logically apply to those like Rand Paul who wasn't there then.  But the argument would be, vote for Rand is a vote to return to pre-2006 Congress. 

    Yet it isn't just the parties and politicans themselves, but the media and blogosphere that works to paint all Repubs this way, all tea party folks that way, all Dems this way, all liberals that way.  And so on.  Back in the old days most politics was the first few moments of the national evening news and then the local newspaper.  Then came cable news and then the internet which look at issues from national perspective.  I don't think the phenom that was ODonnell could have happened in the 1990s.  Most people would have been scratching their heads if the local paper was writing about some senatorial candidate in Delaware when they were in say Colorado or Oregon.  But now not only do we all know who she is, we interpret her in symbolic ways of representing if not the Republican party, then the Tea Party as a whole.  And there are a lot of Dems and their supporters who saw it in their interest to strengthen that perception as a way to further their candidates chances, even if that candidate was in Colorado or Oregon.

    Got it. Very well articulated. I'd add that one good measure of the phenomenon is national fundraising for local races--not just from the parties but also from private donors. For example, the amount of out-of-state money that Sharron Angle raised was record-breaking.

    But here's another challenge for you. Democrats won big in the wake of Watergate. Wasn't that an instance of the same phenomenon, much like the "culture of corruption" campaign in 2006?

    It would depend on whether there was an explicit attempt by the Dems and their supporters to tie the Republican candidates to Nixon in attempt to make them all out to be "crooks.  I was only 12 then, so I don't remember too much of the campaigning, but it may have been the people made the association in their mind rather than it being facilitated by a overt partisan campaign by the Dems. 

    I liked it better when I was just emerging out of my Republican shell and turning Dem, where I could see some good points in certain Republicans...like Chuck Hagel, for one. Chuck was the closest thing I can think of to being an independent who worked well with both sides. We've lost that...the Tea Partiers won't allow it. And, at the same time, Blue Dogs aren't allowed either, by the most liberal voters on the Dem side. So, yeah, we're moving towards a tougher "us v. them" congress where we'll have no compromise, and only gridlock. I myself think it sucks. But I know I'm somewhat of a minority here, in my thinking. And frankly, I think that sucks too.

    think it started with 1994 election when the Republicans realized that they could win control of Congress and that with the contract for a new america Americans were open to treating the elections from a national level.

    I definitely agree with this! "Contract with America" seemed the first time there was national marketing for a mid-term election. I remember acquaintances and I not taking it seriously, thinking it couldn't possibly play, and being shocked at the results, "scratching one's head" kind of shocked, i.e., "what the heck went wrong with mid-term voters, things were just starting to go well, have they gone nuts falling for this?" It was the start of the whole "red vs. blue" meme.

    But you know, it's also important to remember that the "Contract with America" was created because they realized they had gotten behind the eight ball with what the DLC had been up to, and had finally gotten a big pay off, not just the presidency but governorships.

    And thinking on this now, and also on DanK's post-election observations which I cited in a comment below about not underestimating the ability of a Congressional GOP sweep (especially in the rowdy House) in hanging itself. So far evidence is that they're not good on following up on the marketing, chancea are good get they punished in two years, especially if it's a presidential election where a bigger electorate turns out.

    The real problem is all those governors, I think! And the state legislatures, and redistricting. Not the House for 2 years, where chances are good they won't follow through on whatever voters thought they were sold. But espeically for the House, the national marketing thing doesn't last, it's simply not possible to run that tight a ship?

    The last time, they had to resort to joining up with "the vast right wing conspiracy" to do an impeachment to distract everyone.Tongue out Clinton kept doing his job all through the circus, and ended up with a very strong approval rating all through that.

    "voters pummeled Democrats for his failure to fulfill that promise--by defeating moderates from both parties and electing even more partisan conservatives."

    - Genghis, I'm not sure that is right. Obviously, it's hard to say what 'the will of the people' was here, but I think it's a hell of a stretch to say their main grievance was lack of bi-partisanship.

    Here's my counterfactual: if Obama had held the 60 vote majority in the Senate, and with that had passed (i) a stimulus double the size of what we got, (ii) a Health Care bill with immediate expansion of coverage, (iii) bankruptcy reforms and mortgage servicer regs that help stabilize the housing market and provide people with market-based mortgage relief, i.e. if they had passed STUFF THAT WOULD HAVE HAD A TANGIBLE IMPACT ON PEOPLE'S LIVES, then the people wouldn't have given a rat's ass whether or not that legislation had passed on a party-line vote, or whether there was a wonderful bi-partisan consensus involved.

    Maybe a second counterfactual helps: if Obama had passed a smaller stimulus entirely consisting of tax-cuts, a smaller HCR bill with just some deregulation of interstate insurance and malpractice reform, and a raft of corporate taxcuts and freeing up drilling in Alaska, all with decent bi-partisan backing, imho the dems would STILL have gotten kicked out. Because the economy would still have been in the crapper, and the GOP would still have run on - more tax cuts, more deregulation, entitlement reform, etc - as they always do. No matter how much the Dems move in their direction.

    What I'm getting at is that the Dems - present company included - are much too obsessed about procedural fluff like bipartisanship. Do stuff that works. It's like a washing machine. People don't care how it works, as long as it does. If it doesn't, they trade it in. 

    Certainly, it's hard to explain with any certainty why people vote the way they do. But regardless of whether my claim about Obama's promise is accurate, the essential point still stands: Most people believe that Congress is not working well, and yet the majority voted in such a way as to make it work less well.

    Tricky this, because I think the exit polls showed "bipartisanship" almost a non-issue, in terms of what drove voting. When you then look at how people voted, again it's tough to say they cast their vote either to increase or decrease bipartisanship - largely because such huge %'s don't even know which party controls what, much less what might "make it work better."

    Personally, I think bipartisanship is one of those horseshit claims that people support when asked, mostly because it sounds civil - like agreeing that spitting in public is bad.

    Which it isn't.


    *wipes spit from sleeve*

    Bipartisanship is what might help us get bills passed, what might help us get conversation flowing again amidst the two parties who are refusing to work together.  Hence, making "it work better". 



    LisB, this kindof stuff might work amongst friends and families.

    In politics, today's American politics in particular, it's nutbar.

    Because it's absolutely clear that other strategies DO work. For instance, one strategy that works fairly nicely is to kick the living shit out of your opponents. And to keep doing so, on issue after issue, steadily driving down their credibility, steadily forcing them to shift their stances on issues, publicly breaking down the confidence of their leaders, forcing them under such pressure that their weaker members or ones in more marginal seats have to shift sides, etc. 

    And I think we all know which party's been using this strategy these past 20-30 years. 

    There's shitloads of evidence that this strategy works, from US as well as global history.

    Now, in terms of PERSONAL relationships, I have absolutely ZERO fucking desire to be nice to the political leadership of the parties of the Right these days. These people talk out their ass, they're in the pocket of the rich and powerful, their words have little or no connection to what they do, they're psycho, and most of their policies and pronouncements destroy lives.

    I want my time and engagement in politics to work FOR people, the population, voters, citizens, NOT for these ego-freaks who sit in office on the other side.

    In summary: Bipartisanship is a load of cat spew. It means nothing. To even talk of it today, in 2010, is a sign of mental weakness. Seriously. I find it beyond belief for anyone to have watched the last 20 years of American politics and to think the Republican leadership wants to reach across the floor. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT THEY DO. THERE HASN;T BEEN FOR YEARS. WE JUST TRIED IT AGAIN AND IT FAILED.

    Really short: To continue to try this is to continue on in an abused and abusive relationship. That's what the Democrats are in.

    So you won't try to hope that Snowe and Smith might hold out? You won't hope for another Hagel? We saw Grayson go down the tubes for trying it your way, and yet my Schumer won hands down, even though my very Republican sister (who now lives in PA but is NY born and bred and would be voting here in NY if she hadn't moved to PA) would have voted for anyone but Schumer. What you seem to forget, and what many of you seem to forget, is that this country is made up of people who believe other than what we do. You all seem to think, sometimes, that if Obama won in 2008 and we had the majority in Congress, well then we should've been able to do EVERYTHING. You forget that as much as WE want to be listened to by our reps, the Right does too.

    My answer would be of course you have to keep an open door, to keep talking to people on the other side of the aisle who express interest, like Snowe did.  BUT...you cannot let the "negotiations" process drag out ad infinitum. And you have to pay attention to whether the concessions you are making improve the bill, and also whether what you would have to give up leaves you without a substantively viable proposal. 

    So, to take the stimulus example.  The best economists--you know, the ones who have been right about a lot of important things instead of wrong about them  Wink-- were saying the initial WH proposal was lowballing it, it just wasn't big enough to work to actually get job creation and the economy going again.  If you believe your own people instead, that's one question right there.  Why?  If you think the best economist, not, any of them, ahem, working for you but writing from the outside, then further reducing an already inadequate stim proposal makes it less adequate as policy. Is your goal to pass something for the sake of passing something? 

    In this case, surely no.  It's the half a loaf is better than none conclusion, that any stim is better than none.  So, do what you have to do to get some stim passed as it will help some.  But then come back immediately for enough additional to get job creation and the economy moving again. Make the case to the public for why you're doing that.  Apply heavy pressure on the Republicans in the Senate not to block a vote but permit a simple, up or down, majority vote, one which you will win.  If they block it, just remind people who won the election and that you'll be revisiting this matter come election time if the economy is not improving quickly enough.

    Realize that you're going to be held accountable for results, or at least very heavily for how the economy is doing.  Not what the process of government looks like, rarely pretty under any circumstances, from the outside. Like Obey said, stop obsessing overly about process.  All you can on that is make your best efforts to reach out to Republicans, sincerely listen them, take those among their suggestions which actually improve your bill and credit them for it (remembering to credit members of Congress of your own party on occasion, too), and keep it civil, at least initially until you feel to have to. 

    It's about results.  That's what you got elected to produce.  This is the true and valuable meaning of pragmatism, not the bastardized version too many establishment Dems have meekly embraced of doing something for the sake of doing something even if it is likely to be ineffective.  It helps to have a substantive policy program you passionately believe in and are all-in committed to.

    Here's three different polls from the week before the election showing a whopping majority of registered voters want the parties to work together and compromise and only a small minority preferring they stick to their positions or principles:

    October 30, 2010 06:00 AM

    ....In the NYTimes/CBS News Poll released this week, respondents were asked the following question:

        Which do you think the Republicans in Congress SHOULD do -- compromise some of their positions in order to get things done, or stick to their positions even if it means not getting as much done?

    Their answer was pretty emphatic: 78% of respondents said they thought Republicans should compromise, while 15% thought they should stick to their positions. That 78% is up from 74% two weeks earlier. When the same question is asked about Democrats, 76% say they should compromise with 17% saying they should stick to their guns.....



    02 November 2010

    ....By 77 percent to 22 percent, registered voters want Republicans to work with Obama to get things done rather than stand firm to the point of gridlock, according to the latest McClatchy-Marist poll. Nevertheless, gridlock's coming to Congress — at least for the opening months....

    "Voters are saying they want something different. They're tired of a lot of the bickering," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducts the McClatchy-Marist poll....



    October 26, 2010

    Republicans are poised to retake the U.S. House next week without a mandate from voters to carry out their policies, a Bloomberg National Poll shows....


    In a cautionary note, voters overwhelmingly say they don’t want a Republican takeover to result in gridlock in Congress. Four-fifths say they want Republicans and Democrats to work together to get things done, as opposed to rigidly sticking to principles....


    P.S. I think this factoid from the article on the Bloomberg poll is quite rich in implications:

    Making even more campaign appearances on behalf of Democrats than Obama has been former President Clinton. That’s for good reason. The 42nd president is viewed favorably by 59 percent of likely voters, including 55 percent of independents.

    and the final sentence following is just plain fun:

    “He was a scoundrel, but he didn’t make any bones about it,” said Minick, the poll participant from Kentucky. “I think he had some common sense.”

    ArtA, I'l try one more time. People can answer poll questions any way they want. But that answer can also have ZERO bearing on how they vote. There are issues which people feel intensely, and those which they don't. There are issues that shape their votes. And there are ones that don't.

    Bipartisanship doesn't register. It doesn't swing voters. The economy beat 90% of all other issues into the dust this time round. Full stop.

    That said, riddle me this. There was absolutely no attempt on behalf of the Republicans to compromise with Obama these past two years. Many of them stated it outright - they wanted him to fail. In many cases, he got nothing from them when it counted. They called him a liar, and were rude to the guy's face. Whereas Obama was Mr Bipartisanship. 

    Which would lead one to think that if people ACTUALLY gave a shit about this nonsense, they'd reward Obama, and penalize the GOP.

    Which they did not. 

    In my books, people on the Democrats side of the fence, babbling on about the importance of this nonsense, and thus hamstringing their own party, are as much to blame for the Dems not getting stuff sorted out as the goddamn GOP. 

    And at this point, those who still believe in this shit should:

    1) Get a fucking room,

    2) Admit to enormous, overwhelming, real-world failure,

    3) Seek therapy, to determine what would lead to this level of political naivete,

    4) Stay the hell away from advising the Dems for a while. Just let them sort out another path forward. Attempts at bipartisanship amounted to capitulation on policy, earned not an ounce of political credit, are killing the Dems, and with them, the hopes of tens of millions of people for improved policy.

    Beltway pundits like to push the idea that 'voters like a divided Congress.'  It's absurd on the face of it; they vote how they vote, whether in anger or approbation or desperation or ennui, but not so much 'messaged pre-planning.'

    True that.  I'd like to see how many people really like a divided Congress. 

    That last paragraph, Obey, should be hung on the wall of every Congressional office on the Hill - Republican AND Democrat.

    I'm rather intrigued by all this hand-wringing about "bi-partisanship." As much as I hear Obama talking about it, I've yet to have anyone - including him - offer to me a sense of what "bipartisan" actually looks like. And I suspect that's for pretty good reason.

    Politics is a marketplace of ideas. In its broadest sense, it is always a struggle between the haves and the have-nots. Neither side can win altogether if we are to know a sustainable political/economic system that strives toward providing Justice and Liberty for all. Politics is an oppositional exercise, and so "partisan politics" is not a pejorative. Rather, it's a redundancy along the lines of "wet water" or "two-wheeled bicycle."

    So much of what I've seen promoted by Obama and the media is in fact not "bi-partisanship" but rather "mono-partisanship." It's almost like the pols are expected to come together in some kind of Vulcan mind-meld that produces magical compromise solutions to everything.

    I think it's far better when pols play as loyal opposition to one another, selling their ideas to the electorate who can then make their informed choices on who best represents their interests. Campiagn financing realities interfere at present with the two sides being honest brokers of ideas (particularly, it should be noted, in the Democrat's advocacy for the "have nots") but that's the topic for another post.

    For now, I'd say I prefer to see the "Goddess of Bi-Partisanship" be put away along with the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny where she belongs. In its place, we need honorable leaders on both sides who possess strong principles and are able to communicate ideas based upon these principles. And we need an informed electorate that is capable of, and responsible for, critical thinking in the face of any and all attempts to cynically manipulate them. Pretty tall order, I know, but no one ever said democracy was going to be easy.


    Sorry, Jeezus, but I heartily disagree.  Because what you are wanting is that Dems be Dems and Repubs be Repubs, leaving Congress in constant gridlock, with only we the people left to choose sides on every issue.  And you are asking far too much of society, and not enough of our elected representatives.  Society on the whole doesn't care and doesn't vote.  So we sometimes have to leave it up to our Senators and Reps to try to work with the opposing party for us.

    I'd much prefer a Congress Critter who is willing to work across the aisle on an important piece of legislation and show that bipartisanship is possible, than have us citizens who are aware and voting hash it out with those citizens who are either simply voting, but not aware, or not voting / not caring at all.

    You misunderstand me. I am all in favor of compromise and horse-trading as the ONLY way things can ever get done in Washington. I'm just absolutely distrustful of these asshats in either party to engage with honor or integrity as required. The system they play in is corrupt, and they play it for all it's worth in pursuit of campaign finance dollars to win the next election, letting the country's best interests be damned.

    There will always be a good share of horse-trading and compromise in any political system. But it's important to understand that politics is by definition an oppositional exercise. There MUST always be conflict. It's the nature of the beast. Otherwise, we'd just hire a CEO and a board of directors and be done with it.

    But there's a big difference between "compromising" and "being compromised." And herein lies the biggest challenge we face. We have a right to expect the pols on "our side" (the Dems) to maintain fundamental principles as advocates for the middle class and poor. With faith in their integrity, we can then turn them loose and allow them to play the horse-trading game as required without concern that they will do anything that would violate our interests outrightly.

    But it's damned difficult to explain the following within the framework of these honorable expectations:

    A.) We surrendered an excellent opportunity (through so-called "compromise") to provide for a public option in the HCR effort, despite polling that shows it would be overwhelmingly supported by voters, and

    B.) We decline to regulate CDS' and reinstate Glass-Steagall and commit other reforms of the Financial sector DESPITE the popularity of such measures. Instead, via "compromise" we gain only so much FinReg reform as Wall Street will allow, and

    C.) We refuse to stand tall and make the case for middle class tax cuts and in opposition to continued tax giveaways to the rich, despite the public's favorable appetite for just such an argument.

    We simply can't trust our representatives to engage in "compromise" when it is too often a matter of compromising fundamental principles for sole reason that those principles stand in the way of the campaign finance dollars pipeline.

    In the end, compromise and horse-trading among statesmen is a time-honored and honorable pursuit when engaged by statesmen and leaders. It becomes a license to steal when practiced by thieves and whores. A little more governance and a lot less brothel, please, before you start making excuses for the failure of Washington to work in our interests. We gotta fix the damned system before we can expect anything like honorable give-and-take among the pols in Washington. Until then, you can continue to expect nothing but dysfunctional governance at odds with anything you might call a "democracy."

    All this talk of what the people want.  So let's see Boehner won with 66% of the vote.  His opponent Justin Coussoule, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and served five and a half years as a commissioned officer, was trounced.  Taking from the Fox News website regarding Coussoule:

    Coussoule portrays Boehner as a tool of special interests who does little to help middle-class working people. He praises the 2010 health care overhaul that Boehner strongly opposed.

    He says he wants to return the 8th District to the people and "give voters a choice between the status quo and something new." The status quo, he says, has for too long "served the special interests of the wealthy and powerful in Washington."

    According to his campaign website, Coussoule wants to make growing the economy and creating jobs "our country's number one priority." He wants to "bring oversight and accountability to Wall Street in order to prevent the reckless and self-serving behavior that caused the collapse of the financial sector in 2008 from occurring again."

    Coussoule also supports efforts to help homeowners modify their mortgages in order to avoid foreclosure and to prevent predatory lending.

    He calls for "upholding the pay-go law" by offsetting spending cuts, and ending "the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans."

    Coussoule supports sustainable energy efforts, improving K-12 education and increasing federal financial aid for college students.

    I guess the "people" really didn't want they kind of stuff.

    How much money was spent on Coussoule's campaign? How much did Boehner have available, both in his own coffers and from outside groups like the C of C?

    Start quite simply with the answers to those two questions, and I think you'll see that my premise remains intact. The system is broken. It's more Madison Avenue hucksterism than solid political discourse that drives our elections and our politics, and he with the most commercials wins!

    NOTE: Powers of Incumbency and gerrymandering are two other issues that come into play here, but in the end? Follow the money.


    You have no argument from me that the system is broken.  The general point of Genghis blog was the voting behavior of the public in general doesn't appear aligned with what people say they want, which I would say one could run the gamut from bipartisanship to wall street reform.

    But in the final analysis, in an ideal democracy it shouldn't matter how much money was spent by Boehner or Coussoule.  In an ideal democracy, the citizens take the time and effort to know who is more likely to work in their interests, as well as what is exactly their interests are and how the federal and state governments can best meet those interests.

    The money is an issue because people allow whatever branding techniques and other marketing endeavors are thrown at them through their television sets by the political strategists.  So while I am all for campaign finance reform, the reality is that this a solution to cover for the problem of a disengaged voting public that is all too easily a victim of political marketing strategies that lead to vote in ways that are not aligned with their interests or views.

    And in fact your cynical response really pisses me off. My point is that -in the case of the Public Option, for instance - the popular desire (as expressed in polls) was in alignment with the left's agenda. Obama and the Dems only needed to pick it up and run with it to gain a far better HCR package than we were left with. It wasn't a matter of compromise at all. If the objective was to gain HCR, then they had the ability to include the public option without any additional political "cost" at all. In fact, it would have enhanced the package, and it would have been responsive to the people's desires.It would have strengthened the Dems ability to make the case that they were acting on behalf of the people against the insurance industry, who remain an unpopular and unsympathetic player in all this.

    Instead? They quickly backed away from it, out of a desire to keep from alienating their insurance industry contributors. In the process, they abandoned any legitimate claim that they are all about doing the people's work. In a town where message is everything, the Dems have difficulty in Washington showing just who the hell it is they work for. It's little wonder. then, that so many stay home on election day, or otherwise cast a vote in protest of these compromised asshats. The polls show that the Repubs didn't win. They're held to a degree of contempt matched by the Dems. My point is that the Dems deserve all the contempt they bring down upon themselves, which will change only when they once again find principles to strengthen their backbone in replacement of the pile of campaign money upon which they so precariously lean whenever it really matters. 

    And in the case of the public option one can only point to general questions about it.  But the reality was that one could not have put in an effective public option without some sacrifice from those who were in the middle classes in order to pay for it.   But in the end, if the poll question was would you willing to pay higher taxes in order to support a public option, the answer I believe would a little different.  I've looked for a poll that asked this specific question, but could never find one.  If you know of one, then I would change my position.  But since we had to have some budget neutral HCR, this really tied the hands. 

    And then on one hand I am reminded on this thread (as if I didn't know) that it is all the money thrown at the elections for the likes of Boehner that make the difference in the elections, and yet somehow if the pharm and health care industry had thrown their zillions at defeating any public option they would have been ineffective.  Either big money has a huge influence or it doesn't. 

    And maybe if the people had truly felt passionate about the public option, they could have shaken the rafters.  I can bet you that Snowe and Collins had their ears to the walls and ground listening for any rumble from their constituents for their stance against the public option. 

    The evidence seems to point that had Obama and the liberal wing of the Dems tried to push through some kind of public option, they would ended with up the same thing the Clintons ended up with.  That's not being cynical.  That is just one interpretation of might have happened.  Yours is another.  There is no way to prove the other wrong. 

    In the end, Dems like Nelson and Lincoln deserved contempt.  Others not.  My point would be that the voters need to look each politician on their own record rather than bundling them together as single entity.  Same goes for each Republican.  And that the process of governance is a messy thing.  If people want those in DC to work for the people, they need to vote in their specific elections in ways that support that.  The way the voters overall behaved went against that.  That isn't being cyncial or not cynical.  It is drawing conclusions from what happened on the ground over the past two years and they way things played out during the election.

    And then on one hand I am reminded on this thread (as if I didn't know) that it is all the money thrown at the elections for the likes of Boehner that make the difference in the elections, and yet somehow if the pharm and health care industry had thrown their zillions at defeating any public option they would have been ineffective.  Either big money has a huge influence or it doesn't. 

    And if pharm and health care had thrown their money at the Liebermans and Baucuses and the Conrads and, finally, waved it under Rahm Emanuel's nose, they could defeat the public option as well.

    Rather than make the case for some kind of exception to the complaint that campaign financing absolutely corrupts the process, as seems to be your intent, you instead accentuate the reality very well. My point was in showing how complicit "our side" is in the corruption, including Obama/Rahm and the rest of those who promised to change the way Washington does business.

    You seem to argue that you must accept the "rules of the game" as offered in order to get anything done, even if it ultimately means that you can never get anything done that doesn't meets the approval of the monied owners as the first order of priorities.

    I say, instead, that the electorate has grown tired of the corrupt rules that leave them on the outside looking in, and it's reflected in all the displeasure with a guvmint that doesn't work.

    How refreshing it might be, eh?, if we instead got leadership who offered "Change You Can Believe In" and then proceeded to stick it in the neck of the monied interests and sparked a populist revolt that insisted the electorate will come first, let the corporate owners be damned.

    If you hadn't noticed, playing by the present rules really ain't working. It's time to try something else. A leadership who adopts principles with a strength of character and integrity might just be a good place to start.

    It would require a politician to believe that the right kind of governance is more important than re-election.  There's the main rub, IMO. 

    Or one with more faith in democracy than in the supreme power of wealthy interests to purchase away justice and liberty from others.

    I suggest the former as the basis for governance, if only because the latter is proving to be so incredibly unsatisfying as shown in the growing antipathy of the electorate. And that, in a nutshell, is the answer to Genghis' question that opened this Open Thread.

    Isn't the faith in democracy that wealthy interests cannot purchase justice and liberty from others?  Isn't Boehner's victory with 66% of vote evidence that we shouldn't have faith in democracy in this country to overcome the power of the wealthy interests?   Do go to Genghis' last question: how are going to achieve this ideal state where people are actually voting for candidates that serve their interests rather than restoring power to those who will give more power to the wealthy interests?

    Faith in democracy stems from a belief that people will rally to one side of a fight that pits good versus evil. And there is plenty of evil in Washington to rally against. But first, you must withdraw from placing one foot in the dark side in a misguided attempt to remain "pragmatically involved" with the corrupt system.

    "We are all being played for suckers! Dems, Repubs, and their corporate campaign contributors are all in bed with one another. It's a glorious orgy, but you're not invited."

    "That's right! It's on OUR side too! Lieberman opposes health care reform, for example - not on principle - but because his corporate contributors are calling in their markers. Well, guess what? We're not going to let him get away with it this time, are we?"

    That is precisely the kind of talk that Obama was afforded to make by the electorate in 2008 when we elected a leader who was going to "change the way Washington does business." He squandered the opportunity, and I'm not quite sure how we recover from that. But I do know that I hold in contempt Obama and Rahm for their cowardly surrender to the monied elites after showing so little faith in a democracy that was delivered right to their doorstep in 2008 with a full tank of gas, ready to ride.

    If was a full tank of gas, ready to ride then Obama was absolutely correct in handing HCR over to Congress and let this ready-to-go vehicle of good take HCR where it needed to go.  I mean, what could go wrong? 

    And again when it comes to campaign finance reform, we of the left will speak of the near absolute power of the monied elites, yet when it comes to HCR, Obame, Rahm et al. were not only suppose to stand up to them, but easily brush them aside in bring HCR to reality.

    But I would say that you would use a phrase like "good versus evil" without a hint of irony just proves the point of the current polarization (and its sibling nationalization) of elections.

    In the county where I live, we voted for Obama, but in the representative district I live in we went for McCain and Pence.  So what direction regarding the HCR bill should be taken from this if one has faith in democracy?  What vehicle is it exactly that is ready to ride?

    You're very cleverly obtuse. I'll grant you that. But in terms of actually engaging a discussion that responds on point? Not so much.

    There are some things that are evil in the world. The corruption of our democracy by the monies that are used to co-opt both sides in what is essentially a class struggle is one such evil that we ignore at our peril, regardless of how wondrously and arrogantly pragmatic and strategically adept we might feel in trying to accommodate it while calling it something else.

    I agree with you that the wealthy special interests have corrupted our government, something that has been a truism basically from the beginning and is true for just about every other country during every time period.  The class struggle is one of the constants throughout history and any lapse in the struggle is basically during the times that those at the bottom have given up on the struggle. 

    Yet at the same time there has been progress.  In the big scheme of things, the people are better off and have more power today then they ever had in spite of the wealthy special interests.  That we have not better utilized this power is our great shame.  At no time in history has citizens had so much information available to them at their fingertips.  And in this country, as with many of those in Europe and few others elsewhere, there has been no direct ability to peacefully shift power within the government. 

    And in that big scheme of things, a corporation using its money to influence public opinion compared to the atrocities committed against humanity makes that influence peddling seem rather benign.   

    I neither seek to be obtuse nor to obfusgate what is at stake.  Rather I want people to focus on what matters.  For instance, right now there is nation-wide attack on public education under the guise of support of charter schools.  We can get caught up in talks of class warfare and calling the likes of Boehner evil, but these things distract us with the real dynamics at play.  Not acknowledging the facets of paradigms that exist throughout this country that are odds to the liberal agenda, and which play into the wheelhouse of those wealthy special interests is what is putting us at peril.

    In other words, it is not about convincing those who voted for Boehner that he is evil (an extreme tag that I have a problem with), but rather moving the paradigms of those who voted for him to such an extent that they see him an antithetical to their interests.  This will not come about out of some mythical battle between good versus evil, but in the hardworn trenches of grassroot endeavors to facilitate cooperative communities.

    See comment posted separately below to get away from the margin

    You'll won't get an argument from me that our side is just corrupted by the system as the other.  I would just say that there are forces on our side, to the extent they are on our side, that try to slip through things that are aligned with the liberal agenda in spite of the general corrupted state of things.

    There is a reason they are called the rules of the game. As captain obvious would say, that is because they are the rules of the game.  There are two basic options: overthrow the current system and install a different one (aside from this being a highly unlikely outcome to materialize, it has shown that to be a highly ineffective way of actually changing the rules of the game) and the other is to change it from within (which in our republic is generally seen as the voting booth method).

    The question is whether we are on the right track to actually changing the rules of the game.  I would posit that had the Dems been given even a larger majority in the House and Senate, the conventional wisdom would have been that the public wanted the Dems to go even further with HCR, the stimulus, wall street and finance reform, etc.  It would have embolded those on the left who want to radically change the rules of the game.  Instead the voters gave more power to the ones who have stood for the wealthy interests quite openly for some time. 

    Which is along the lines of the original blog in its questions:  how do we explain the voting behavior of the general public if we take them as a entity given what it has to work with.

    We can talk about enlightened leadership who don't play the game and will do something different, which has a lot to do with gaining then maintaining control/power, which interferes with doing the "people's work" and providing massive influence to those who can wave campaign dollars under their nose. 

    The reality is that what will change things is a highly informed and engaged electorate.  As I think many here agree, the hope for this is a pipe dream.  And I would say the populist revolt that will be actually successful is dependent upon the emergence of just that kind of electorate.  Until then, any politician, and president or representative will have to continue to play by the rules of the game.  The crushing effect of not doing so is much quicker than the results from not doing so that would garner public support.  The wealthy special interests will ensure that as they market their spin to the uninformed, disengaged public.

    I think it's a hell of a stretch to say their main grievance was lack of bi-partisanship.

    I'd go further and say that that's a ludicrous claim.  To the extent people with real problems, like so many have these days, think insufficient bipartisanship is the main problem, they have to think that with more bipartisanship...what would happen that they care about?  Ummm...maybe effective action to address the problems they are experiencing?  

    If you are a Democratic politician and you actually believe you got elected because you promised to be more bipartisan, that you will be judged next election time on that basis, and you make that your top priority, you need to have your head examined in this context.  Because, if so, you have just ceded your own destiny to a political party that is entirely dedicated to blocking your agenda and ensuring your political destruction.  Will Democrats ever learn that?   It isn't as though the GOP just made up its mind, after this election, with McConnell's statement that their top priority is to make Obama a one-term President.  Hello?  

    Anyone detect a pattern of GOP Senators luring Obama into extended discussions, on stimulus, on HC, etc., knowing he desperately wanted to be able to say he is operating in a bipartisan manner, only to play hard to get over and over again, back away and vote against the package they succeeded in watering down during the "negotiations"?  In which one side made repeated concessions.  And the other extracted repeated concessions and voted no anyway, and then charged the White House and Dems with being too partisan?  Didn't that just happen, more than once, these past two years?

    So now some are saying the lesson of the election is Obama and the Dems need to be more bipartisan?  That the voters punished them because they weren't bipartisan enough, didn't try hard enough to be bipartisan?  Unbelievable.  

    But, eventually, the Republican party plays into our hands by being the party of opposition too many times, no?  Don't they end up with egg on their face if they contininually beat down every single idea worth addressing?  Maybe I listen too much to my Republican/right-leaning family members but they share with me the hope that this gridlock will end.  They share with me the hope that DC will start working together on meaningful legislation. 


    "the Republican party plays into our hands by being the party of opposition too many times, no?"

    - Political scientists, as far as I know, all say that the President - and his party - are the ones held responsible for how things go. Not the party holding just a majority in one or other of the chambers. Letting the country go to hell through total opposition ensures that Obama is the one holding the bag. I.e. the dems lose.

    "Don't they end up with egg on their face if they contininually beat down every single idea worth addressing?"

    - No. They have 'ideas': tax cuts, entitlement cuts, privatization, deregulation. It is not that they lack 'ideas' and 'solutions', it's that their ideas and solutions are bad for the country and good only for their corporate backers.

    And it is not like there is a 'reasonable middle ground here, between spending cuts and spending increases. Or, there is one, but it involves doing ... nothing.

    Anyone detect a pattern of GOP Senators luring Obama into extended discussions, on stimulus, on HC, etc., knowing he desperately wanted to be able to say he is operating in a bipartisan manner, only to play hard to get over and over again, back away and vote against the package they succeeded in watering down during the "negotiations"?  In which one side made repeated concessions.  And the other extracted repeated concessions and voted no anyway, and then charged the White House and Dems with being too partisan?  Didn't that just happen, more than once, these past two years?

    And yet the voters rewarded the Republicans by giving them the House and reducing the Dem's Senate majority to almost nil.  So where is the logic in that?  Which is what I think Genghis is driving at.  So one might say either the electorate detected all that and are insane or they didn't detect it and should be ashamed of being such disengaged citizens of a democracy.

    Exactly.  See NCD's comment below, with the PEW poll results.

    What the electorate "detected" was a continuing jobs crisis, a flatlined economy, the bailout shenanigans which were supposed to help get things turned around but didn't.  So, simple conclusion, really, what was done by Washington these past two years did not meet their expectations, and, worse than that, did much violence to their values.  Absent any sense from Obama of further plans to get better results going forward, they assume that what they've seen so far is what they're going to get. 

    Some people cannot get their heads around the fact that this is because the Democrats didn't go far enough in what is conventionally defined as a "liberal" or "left" direction on economic issues.  Because that would imply that liberals and leftists were right.  And we know that cannot possibly be correct.  Because the US is a center-right country, really quite conservative, don't you know?  The labels and baggage associated with them (precisely the GOP and Right's long-term project) just get in the way by precluding receptivity to policy ideas from people who self-identify or who they pigeonhole as being liberals or from the left part of the spectrum, instead of looking at the substance and merits of the proposals without that bias. 

    My feeling about labels is I just don't want them to get in the way. So to my new friend in Houston, emerson, if we were talking he would tell me that he doesn't mention labels such as liberal or left but talks about the issues, jobs and fixing and doing justice in re to the big banks.  Which is what a peoples' Democratic party agenda would be and is what most voters care about anyway--few care about labels for their own sake.

    Stiglitz, p. 316 of Freefall, writes:

        ...having seen their hard-earned money go to the bankers, who continued to enjoy their bonuses while the rest of the country has remained mired in a recession that they had caused, Americans are increasingly displaying a mistrust of government--of which the Tea Party is emblematic.  Ordinary citizens may not understand the subtleties of macroeconomics, they may not see how budget cutbacks will lead to a deeper recession and more job cuts, but what they do understand is that the biggest bailout in the history of the planet went to help the bankers.  The money did not trickel down to them as promised, and they are angry.

    In other words they understood the economic and governmental response on a surface level if that, then proceeded to make their decisions about the elections based on whatever emotional response this engendered.  The result was that they turned the House to the party that did its best to block further regulation of Wall Street and the bankers, and will work to lessen what regs there are, as well as do whatever legislative shenigans they can to ensure that the playing field is even more tilted to the bankers and others. 

    I don't give the people a pass for being idiotic and disengaged when it comes to politics just because they are the "people."

    So... Govern poorly, lose the election, and then BLAME THE ELECTORATE!

    Sounds like a winning strategy.

    I'm not a Democratic strategist, so what I have to say is not about how to deal with winning this or losing that.  I am merely trying to look at the political environment as I see it. We aren't going to make any progress as long as those on both sides try to somehow keep up this idea that the general public knows the difference between a hawk and a handsaw when it comes to politics.  Part of this may have to do with the desire to use the polls whenever there is some result that shows the "majority of Americans support {insert policy or legislation here}" (yet somehow ignoring those polls when they show the public supporting the opposition's view).

    The reality is that there is two parties involved in governing this country.  If one thinks it was done poorly, then one needs to look at why it was so.  Now there is some idea out there that had the Dems governed good and delivered a bigger stimilus, a public option, tougher regulation of wall street, etc they would have won. But who stood in their way, stood in their way quite loudly and proudly - the Republicans.  And who was rewarded in this past election - the Republicans. 

    I don't think it takes a Rhodes Scholar to see that had there been a handful of Lincoln Chaffees in the Republican Congress, we would have been able to achieve great things these past two years.  This goes along with the understanding that the Democrats, especially in the Senate, was a loose coalition of de facto parties, some of which were, on a particular issues and legislatives, quite conservative.  As a whole the Dems could have said to have governed badly, but to approach the election in one's one district and state as such says one's bought into the whole nationalization (and polarization) branding strategies. 

    But I guess I am asking for the moon and the stars to want the public to be a little more engaged with the goings on in DC when they also decide to vote.  I don't think that the President should have to take the bully pulpit every single time and lead the people by hand like little children through the wild mall parking lot of governance. 

    FWIW, I've really learned alot from your other comments on other threads (?) about the history behind the current polarization. And I don't see much here that I disagree with.

    For some reason, though, we seem as far as I can tell to be at opposite ends of the 'bi-partisanship' issue, as regards strategy going forward. And, implicit in my, um, shorter comment above, I don't think much of the 'make people less stupid' argument. And I disagree for different kinds of reasons.

    I think the extremism of the GOP comes in part from the tendency of the Dems to move towards them, towards the right, every time the GOP moves a notch more extreme. And this, going back 30-35 years. And it is so, because most of the stuff the Dems want to do - more government, in short - is stuff that tends to be useful but immediately unpopular. Hence the desire for bipartisan cover. The GOP on the other hand tends to want to do popular but destructive things like rogue tax-cuts, deregulation, war. I.e. stuff that is easy to demagogue. And so Dems find themselves pressured to go along. Accordingly, the GOP doesn't need to reach across the aisle to do what they want. They create pressures for bipartisanship through antagonism, not through pleading.

    I don't think there is much to be done about this dynamic, and I think it is utterly vain to hope that the GOP cares about the welfare of the bottom 99% of the population, and so will be disposed to play along if the Dems plead enough. So hand-wringing about bipartisanship just seems fruitless.

    The only thing that can change this dynamic is if the Dems try to formulate a legislative (or, in the executive, regulatory) agenda that (i) does some real good in the short-to-medium term, and (ii) the chain of causality leading back to the dem legislation is reasonably clear. I don't believe that there is much real debate in DC about what actually works and what doesn't. There are just degrees of corruption that determine one's position in that debate. So, if it is clear that something will work, and hence be popular, that creates pressure on the GOP to come across the aisle and deal. No pathetic pleading required. It is from this perspective that the legislation over the past two years fails the standard. HCR pushed too far into the future, tax cuts too invisible, etc etc.

    As for people being stupid, the fight over what information registers in individual cognitive systems across the country is a war of attrition that hardly budges, and when it does so it slides towards greater and greater confabulation in conservative districts. Sure, it's a fight that needs to be fought, but there is no 'solution', nothing that moves the needle in a meaningful way here. So it is not a problem worth anguishing over. imo.

    I would say that I basically agree with what you have said here.  I think where the part company in the bi-partisan issue is that I see the need for bi-partisanship as result as of the coalition nature of Democratic Party.  The Republicans have been able to effectively purify their party over the past 30 years so that they basically able to stand unified on those popular but destructive policy stances. The Dems, in order to have a "working" majority have had to include those who likely to be aligned with the Repubs on this or that issue.  Sometimes it is from ideology (such as the abortion issue) and sometimes it just plain corruption and the desire for campaign dollars from the wealthy special interests.  

    And while I agree that a Dem accomplishment with casuality leading back will help, as the recent bailout of the auto industry even a two by four of causality sometimes just isn't enough.  In the spirit of the original blog, the resultant is that strategists from the Dems side of the aisle will look to an edge in the upcoming election by demonizing the Republicans while the Republicans will try to do the same with the Dems. So we not only get greater polarization and nationalization, but a lessening of a substantive dialogue about solutions, the what works.  The wealthy interests will spend the dough to make sure that what works will be demonized before it ever gets a chance. 

    As long as the general public continues to respond to bumpersticker appeals to lower taxes, etc. the more the shift the right by both parties, with each one trying to make the other out to be the "problem" which only means that they are both the problem because they are not talking about the solution.  And this past election has shown that this can be a winning strategy for a party.  So even they stand against popular policies, there doesn't seem to be any blowback come election day.  All the specific policies subsumed into reaction to the particular brands that have been created. 

    Bipartisanship is just another in a long list of things people will say they want but in the end has no bearing in their voting decision.  And tying back to my first paragraph, if there are Dems who on a given policy are going to join with the Repubs, then in order to get something done which might just might get some kind of result, than bi-partisanship is the way to go.  So it isn't that I am pro-bipartiship as the way to go, it is just that it seems it is the only way one can go given the current makeup of Congress.  The results of the past election, both in substance (the politicians that got elected) and in message (the public thinks Obama and the Dems went to far to the left) has only made this dynamic even more likely to occur.

    Being a political simpleton, I have observed our political apparatus has some serious problems.

    First being the Democrats. They have what I would call, The Moses In The Wilderness symptom...aimlessly wandering in search of a place to call home to practice their faith.

    Second for the Republicans. They are becoming what they hate most...communist. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see their political ambition for the USofA is a single totalitarian political Party...in other words...they want to be The Politburo of the Republic of the United States (PRUSA).

    I think destor and Trope are on target. Whats the matter with Washington is explained by whats the matter with voters.

    I hate to bring up Nazi's as they seem to be popping up all over.  Even at NPR. Christopher Duffy, in his book Red Storm on the Reich related facts on the 1945 collapse of the Reich which started in the east. As Zhukov advanced across East Prussia in the easternmost portion of the Reich,  true believers in Party propaganda who had not wised up to the fact that the front had collapsed (and fled west) saw their hardwood floors just oiled in the morning, go up in flames, along with their town, later in the day as the Red Army onslaught rolled through.  After the front line Soviet troops moved on the NKVD bundled up local citizens in bunches of 5 or so, with barbed wire, and tossed them off bridges into local rivers.

    The point I get from this is many folks can remain happy believers of big lies until reality hits them in a fashion that cannot be ignored, spun, or remain open to opinion. In a similar vein, a PEW poll showed less than half of Americans knew that the GOP had taken control of the House of Representatives in the recent election. Whatever the results of the return of the GOP, it seems unlikely to be stark enough, good or bad, to change many in their politcal beliefs.

    In short, one can be all for the war effort so long as the war isn't on your front doorstep.  Once it's there only then do they begin to question.

    You see it all the time with tea-baggers and GOPer's that haven't had the privilege of being on the short end of the economic stick without a job and exhausted savings. It's a whole other world that's not their problem. And that's what's wrong with voters...they refuse to look beyond their doorstep because in doing so would be an invite. Better to ignore the plight of others and hope it does come your way. Better them than me.

    Only when they get caught up in the maelstrom of this economic downturn will they question, but always fault the Democrats for the faults of GOPer's.


    Yes, and there is always the pablum of Fox News with it's infotainment to drown out the world beyond, and Hate Radio to provide targets for frustration and anger.

    a PEW poll showed less than half of Americans knew that the GOP had taken control of the House of Representatives in the recent election.

    The full Pew summary about knowledge of the election is a bit more complicated than the point you are stressing and I think it behooves everyone interested in Genghis' topic to read it whole:

    While 75% identify the Republicans as the party regarded as doing best in the midterms, fewer than half (46%) know that Republicans will have a majority only in the House when the new Congress convenes in January. About one-in-seven (14%) say the GOP won both the House and Senate; 8% say they won just the Senate; 5% do not think they will have a majority in either chamber; and 27% do not know.

    There is broad awareness among most political and demographic groups that the Republicans did best in the midterms. But just 27% of those younger than age 30 know that Republicans captured just the House; 19% say that they won both the House and Senate while 42% do not know. By contrast, 45% of those ages 30 to 49, and majorities of those ages 50 to 64 (55%) and ages 65 and older (57%), answered this question correctly.

    While 69% of college graduates know that the Republicans won only the House, fewer than half as many (31%) of those with no more than a high school education know this. And while nearly as many women (72%) as men (79%) know that the GOP is generally regarded as having done best in the elections, just 39% of women know that the Republicans won just the House, compared with 53% of men.

    People know the Republicans did well, they just don't know they won the House. I often wonder when I read this or similar about mid-terms and Congress, which seems the typical for my lifetime, where many don't pay attention to either but hate Congress no matter who is in power, whether they feel guilty for not having voted if the party they prefer lost.

    But I especially found interesting the twenty-something information. I am convinced doubly-tiriply-quadruply now of what I said so on Yglesias' blog when he did a post Nov. 3 on "The Changing Electorate". You just can't count on an energized youth vote helping in a presidential election to pay attention to Congressional elections down the road or maybe even in the same election nor that they will be interested in general doings in Congress. They don't show up for Congressional midterms, they just don't. They think it's all about the presidency and it's done when their candidate wins and they move on to the business of building their lives. Most of them don't bother to learn about how the country runs until later when they are more settled.

    I was the same way at their age. all enthused and working for Dem presidential candidates and protesting from Gene McCarthy to Carter and such but I betcha I couldn't tell you who my congressperson was, maybe one Senator. I  was just too busy for all that. I presumed if I got the prez I wanted he would take care of it. I'm not suggesting raising the voting age to 30 or anything like that (hah), I'm just pointing out that if you are a political candidate or just a political activist, I think it behooves to keep in mind that if you go after the kids for their energy and passion, they will no doubt be elsewhere doing other stuff when you might need them, like in mid-term elections or any important legislation. And this IS a bipartisan topic--I suspect the same thing happened to Reagan with all the little passionate "new conservative youth" movement of the early 80's--remember that?

    Like I said on the Yglesias thread,I think it all ends up that older people, their concerns and attitudes, run the country. You might as well require a higher age for voting unless the young start using it outside of presidential elections, you end up with similar results. The growth in voting-by-mail is the only thing that might change this. Especially if they can look up positions of candidates online while they are voting, instead of just voting party line or what their father says they should do.

    Republican wingers in power have proven they are perfectly capable of hanging themselves in nooses of their own creation.


    Free Political Advice
    by Dan Kervick 11/2/2010 @


    Today's example:

    Grover Norquist Finds the Worst Way Possible to Shut Down the Government

    November 19, 2010 | 4:30 pm @



    Some support for the Another Trope thesis:

    Parties always try to nationalize congressional elections, if they think that’s in their favor, or make them about individual candidates, if they think that’s in their favor.  But the effort to nationalize these elections is likely to be much more effective in our era, in which the parties represent so much more of a consistent, unified, and sharply differentiated brand.

    from http://bigthink.com/ideas/24799

    But he hypothesizes that the causal links run the other way...polarization leads to nationalization.

    Polarization and nationalization of elections have always been been a part of American politics, although there are times these dynamics are prominent.  Each feeds the other and I think one would be hard press to say one is the fundamental cause of the other.  There are factors in the electorate that will make people become more polarized, whether it be an economic downturn or a controversial issue like abortion or gay marriage.  Likewise, there are factors in D.C. that will facilitate strategists to come to the conclusion that it is in their parties interest to nationalize election, whether it be a Watergate or 9/11 or an economic downturn.

    What seems to be at issue over the last couple of decades is the extent that this polarization has been manifested in the governance of the country.  In modern times at least, the tradition seemed that once the elections were over the politicians would put all that polarization and nationalization evident during the elections behind them and generally get down to the business of governing.  

    Of course a lot of the getting down to business was good old boy networking that put into place a system that ensured the wealthy elites stayed wealthy and elite.  But there was also things like the Clean Water Act of 1972.  These days trying to get something like the CWA passed would seem like a pipedream of the highest order.

    What appears to have happen that there has been a natural surge in the polarization and nationalization of elections a few decades back.  Slowly as cable news (along with talk radio) began to grow in influence and coverage of politics, the politicians more and more had to posture in ways that reflected the elections that brought them into or back into power.  The internet sealed the deal, with instaneous images and write-ups of who said what and and who did what.

    In the good old days (the 1970s and into the 1980s), a politician could basically play to electorate then go about governing how he or she saw fit.  And that might mean, omg, playing nice with someone on the other side of the aisle. These days, if they did this, it is immediately reported on back to the voters who remain in the polarized state.  In other words, the changes in the media over the past decade or so has made it so the politicians and their parties have had to act in a way that was aligned with their polarizing and nationalizing rhetoric during the election.

    So in a sense, politicians have become more accountable because of the increased scrunity and coverage (which is not to say that it is in-depth coverage).  And this accountability has led them during their governing role to play to their election strategies involved in nationalization and polarization dynamics during the elections.


    What Obama does (or more importantly doesn't do) during the lame duck session will determine the next two years, IMO.  Pelosi is ready to rumble on a bill to give a tax break to those earning under a quarter of a million/year.  Rumor is they are hearing zip from the White House; a bad sign of what he might be all about for the duration.  He announced from Lisbon (well; he actually had Biden announce), that now 2014 is the target date for maybe winding down the war in Afghanistan, but they will send a bunch of nice tanks to help the war effort and convince the Taliban they might want to negotitate, and take those 35,000 government jobs Karzai has offered... 

    As far as the economy and 15% real unemployment, people might think Obama's economic team might have had something to do with it, eh?  And Mike Pence wants to take away that little ol' second mandate of the Fed; you know, that one about keeping people employed? 

    This fun video kinda gives some skewers all around...   ;o)


    Since this is an open format, I'd like to announce The Kno has a shipping date of 20 December 2010.

    The dual screen with stylist...two pages...and 32 GB is $999.


    I had no interest in a Kindle and the IPad was nothing more than an overhyped stenopad. But this is is icing on the cake!

    Dual Screen:
    Height: 13.8 inches (35.0 cm)
    Width: 18.3 inches (46.5 cm)
    Depth: 1.14 inches (2.9 cm)
    Weight: 5.6 lbs (2.5 kg)

    OK, BJ, this is the second time you've hyped the kno at dagblog. Fess up, do you have some particular interest in the company?

    It seems like it's targeted at the academic textbook market. Are they going to have reg'lar books for reg'lar readers?

    Ok...i'm fessin up...I'm a geek for techo-toys.

    From what I have found out, it's mainly for college types, but it has wifi capabilitites as well as internet and e-mail and and I suspect a browser...no idea what OS. I believe they were aware people wanted to use it for other materials than college e-books so I think they either worked it out or they're in the process of. They have a forum you can get more specific info for your particular needs.

    So couple the Kno with EyeOS...a place in the clouds...that holds all my info, like resumes and so forth i can be quite mobile without having to worry about disk storage space or spyware distrupting internal services and so forth. And if I lose it or it's stolen, all they get is the device not the data.

    I just think it's kewl and passing the word on before someone makes an awful and costly mistake and buys an IPad not knowing there are other alternatives. Besides, compared to the IPad, the Kno gives you more bang for the buck, IMO.

    For what it's worth, I was at my local german ISP getting more phone time on my handie and gave the girl the url. Her eyes lit up! They sell an IPad for 800 euros and she admitted the Kno at first glance looked betteron paper if the on-line info was correct.

    On a serious note, none of this is all that shocking, if we look at our historical record. Let's take Antebellum America to the turn of the century (1830-1900) as a comparison of sorts. During this period  America was experiencing a great transformation in economies, agrarian to industrial, as we are from industrial to post-industrial. In the early formation of political parties and there were two solid parties from Federalists and Anti-Federalists, to Federalists and Democratic-Republicans and on and on. It is a fact that "significant numbers of nineteenth-century Americans swarmed into independent movements when the major parties failed them." There was much turmoil on a personal level for many Americans, there were many movements, abolition, human rights, women's rights, even free love movements, and it was a time of great partisanship. We can look to the anti-Mason movement and the Know-Nothings and they had impacts on the major parties.   From this we might surmise as Mark Voss-Hubbard, in his essay, "The "Third Party Tradition" Reconsidered: Third Parties and American Public Life, 1830-1900." The Journal of American History 86.1 (1999): 121-150.

    "Certain third party movements -- notably the Antimasons and Know-Nothings, seemed to best represent the ethnocultural bases of nineteenth-century voting behavior and, most important, were pivotal transtition parties in the realignment synthesis."

    It seems the pressures from these movements can move major parties, they have in the past and presently it seems the TeaBag movement is trying to pressure the Republican party to change.

     It is very interesting stuff. As a nation our economy is in the midst of great change. It seemed to begin in the late 1980's, but these things don't just happen over night. We are moving from an industrial economy to an economy where workers must be more educated, one that requires some knowledge of technology, greater knowledge of math, science, and there are people who are being left out and they are scared, which leaves them more vulnerable probably easily manipulated.  The same things were happening psychologically to the population back then as well. Change most often leaves people scared. Our politics are more mature now, but may not as mature as we lead ourselves to believe. So as Voss notes later in his essay,

    "...the wider societal and historiographical upheaval, the new political history answered the cry for a history from the bottom up, shifting the frame of reference away from political elites to the voting behavior and social characteristics of the party rank and file"

    Interestingly a little later he makes this point,

    "...throughout much of the nineteenth century consistently high levels of turnout among staunchly partisan voters lent an underlying stability to the two-party system from the 1830's to the turn of the century."

    Not unlike our current situation. As long as our economic situation is what it is, until we are more secure in what our new economy will look like and how we will survive in it as individuals, the trend towards great partisanship will remain, but it will remain by and large within the concept of our two party system.

    Most of your average voters don't think they are extremist. They think they are in the center. Therefore the things they want must be centrist policy. It must than be the bipartisan solution if only the extremists would stop fighting and enact it.


    That's why people claim they want more bipartisan solutions.

    Better you should ask Whats's right with Washington ?

    One point, overlooked so far (I think) is that someone mentioned that Boehner and McConnell refused the WH dinner invitation? 

    I find that appalling.  Not to mention galling.  Obama invites them to the White House for a dinner designed to show good faith, open communications up, and these two asses decline?  If they had lost the House, I could see them having sour pusses, but they won.  And they won't even be good winners?  They have to be sore winners??  WTF is up with that??  Even Republicans I know think that's shitty.

    This is a perfect example I think of how things have changed.  Decades ago it would have been unthinkable, even if it was just for show and they just glowered at each other once the cameras were turned away.  I think there is something to presenting even just a facade of civility.  Sometimes it can lead to breakthroughs.  That is why we expect foreign powers to at least pretend to play nice with each other in spite of their loathing of one another.

    Exactly.  And this says a lot about our new Congress, doesn't it?  As I said upthread, I think this will eventually backfire on the Republicans.  They are now treating Obama the way GWB treated "Those Leaders With Whom We Shall Not Talk or Meet With". 

    I'm going to play the libertarian here by saying that Bill Clinton came in inheriting a recession from George H.W. Bush. By the time he left, there was a tremendous surplus and the most prosperous economic period in American history. That surplus was a result of lack of spending and gridlock. 

    No, that was due to massive tax hikes and a stock market bubble.

    In response to Another Trope from upthread:

    We have succeeded despite corruption only because there have been corrections during those periods in our history when that corruption has become most pervasive and threatening to our democracy, itself.

    Now is one such time, and to focus energies on working within the rules to achieve anything is nothing short of rearranging deck chairs.

    We are now confronted with a reality that says nothing will be accomplished in Washington without the imprimatur of the owners. Once it is determined that you will never be allowed to adopt any changes that aren't first approved by the monied elite, you realize that any incrementalism is a sham that leads to a dead-end. Politics is fought as a class war. Always has been. Always will be. When the fight includes a referee (i.e. campaign financiers) who limit the punching ability of only one side in the struggle, it's pretty easy to see upon which side to place your money. We're destined to lose in the present circumstance, and all the effort to make nice and compromise and take our wins where we can will never change that.

    Obama had the opportunity to be the effective leader that is needed to stand in the way of the monied elite. And there is little hope for anything of real substance to get done on behalf of the working class and poor until we acquire leadership that refuses to play the game, but instead calls out the evil (yes, evil!) corruption wherever it raises its ugly head.

    And I think even the "uneducated" electorate understands this fundamentally. I can't disparage them for tuning out and dropping out, for I feel as helpless against this assault on our democracy as anyone. What we need is someone who can provide leadership and show that there is some way out of this mess. People will respond if provided with real hope and opportunity for change. Obama had the chance. I'm not sure how or when we will get such a chance again, but the future of democracy depends upon it.


    Jeezus, this of yours rings true for me: "But first, you must withdraw from placing one foot in the dark side in a misguided attempt to remain "pragmatically involved" with the corrupt system."  That was what I was alluding to when I spoke of re-election becoming the prime consideration of politicos.  Yes, there is also deal-making and horse-trading, but the main corruption comes from pay-to-play politics, and the allure of voting for corporatist policies leading toward good gigs once you're out of office.

    What dismays me about 'incrementalism' in the Obama Age being touted so strenuously, is that far too many Dems are willing to settle for such small increments mean that an issue is settled for the foreseeable future, and so act almost as devolutionary policies in the long run.  Fine-reg and the wars, for instance.  How many Dems have allowed the war in Afghanistan to be extended in silence or agreement, at the cost of many, many billions of dollars, ruining a country, with no clear wins possible, in the name of...women and children?  Eradicating safe havens?  Killing Taliban?  When none of it has anything to do with keeping us safer, if it ever did.

    But now we'll bring in the tanks!  Is that some tactic of the strategy of winning hearts and minds?  I read a lot of personal stories from Afgahans about what US forces (oops: ISAF forces) have done to families that caused their neighbors and friends to go join whatever their local version of the Taliban is.  And a new poll showed that 90-some % of the men there don't even know about 9/11.  And wonder why we are occupying their country...

    Is there such a thing as being a pragmatic-idealist?  Doesn't seem so to me.


    You've pretty well nailed it, stardust. Sometimes, it seems like so many analysts get so involved in picking through the minutiae and the convolutions of political strategizing and whatnot that they fail to see the guy picking their pocket. In another way, it's like getting all wrapped up in the game whilst losing sight of the overall objective. Must be a guy thing! ;O)

    Please see my comments below. I carefully frame the discussion around socio-economic issues as a means of focusing the discussion. I appreciate your introduction of other concerns, such as this obsession with winning wars that have long ago lost any patina of legitimacy. There are lots of interests that need to be represented in Washington, and even the "anti-war" " constituencies generally identify one party or the other as their "natural" advocates in the political give-and-take that is required.

    Bringing it all back to the socio-economic point of reference and the evil influence of campaign finance, I am reminded of Eisenhower's warning about the MIC and of the Dems present inability to stand in its way. 

    And BTW...

    I do not see anywhere in this discussion that I have implicitly or explicitly claimed that Boehner (or any of the Repubs or Democrats) are evil. You are quite correct that such an incendiary label should be reserved for only the most extreme threats to society. But your strawman criticism of my argument does not advance the discussion, but instead offers a strategic obfuscation that I believe is intended to avoid the main point of reference.

    But that's ok. I'll try again.

    I have very carefully reserved the "evil" label for the corrupting influence of campaign contributions that wholly skew the political contest in favor of the monied elites.

    On one side in this struggle, you have the GOP who stands as the representative body that historically advocates on behalf of the wealthy capitalist interests.

    On the other side stand the Dems, who are historically charged with representing a more "socialist" agenda that seeks to ensure the "Blessings of Liberty" (and our economy) are shared more fully with those who don't naturally gain an equitable share of wealth or power from any unfettered political/economic system of governance.

    Any talk of "compromise" assumes a need to strike a balance here between both sides who stand as the "loyal and honorable opposition" to one another. And there is such a need. A wholly socialist agenda can result in a collapse in the economic system in an example of "killing the goose that lays the golden eggs." A wholly laissez faire, non-interventionist agenda results in all manner of abuses to the environment, etc., in addition to an unjust pooling of economic resources at the very top of the food chain.

    There is no ideal balance here that can ever be maintained. The political landscape is simply too complex to ever allow for such a statically perfect balance. The proper direction in our politics is forever in flux, and thus it is necessary that there forever be a contest to determine just where along the capitalist/socialist spectrum we need to be directed - oftentimes issue by issue.

    It is here where campaign finance plays an insidious (and, yes, evil!) role that assures dominance of one side in this contest. The Repubs quite naturally gain all the support they need to advocate for "their side" in this contest. And the Dems gain all they need as well from the very same campaign contributors, but with a critically important limitation: They will receive funding to represent their constituents interests, but only to an extent they agree to limit their efforts to include only those initiatives that first meet the grudging approval of those monied interests. Step over the line into unapproved territory (such as with the single payer and the public option considerations in the HCR effort, or actual Wall Street reforms, or the elimination of tax cuts for the wealthy, etc.), and there is an explicit threat made that the money pipeline will dry up and the Dems will be rendered altogether irrelevant to the political discourse.

    There was an excitement in the electorate on the night of the election in 2008. This simply cannot be denied. We had been promised "Change You Can Believe In," "Hope and Change," and - perhaps most importantly - "a change in the way Washington does business." Having been engaged in a new way to do politics that involved grassroots campaigning and a seemingly successful go-around of the standard campaign-financing pipeline that attracted small donations from an overwhelming number of citizen/contributors, the sense was that at last we had the monied interests on the run. We had struck a blow to rob them of their corrupting influence, and there was opportunity to at last strike back as the "loyal, honorable, and EFFECTIVE opposition."

    Then, along came Geithner and Summers and Bernanke and the rest of the same old "monied interest approved" advisors. And along came Rahm, who knew only how to play the game as established - and liked it that way!

    Ultimately, it's really no wonder that the young and "first-time voters" - who participated with such enthusiasm in 2008 - lost their interest in 2010. In fact, it's a wonder that anyone maintains any faith in our ability to once again acquire a vibrant democracy after having been presented such a terrific opportunity to do so only to see it squandered so completely without so much as a whimper registered in opposition to the evil power of the corrupt money that continues to tie the hands of Democrats from a full-throated pursuit of their natural constituency's interests.

    In the spirit of the season, I'd say that we put the ball in Obama's hands, along with giving him great field position. He punted on first down. And now we get all kinds of contortions offered in trying to declare that it's somehow all our fault that we didn't score on that drive. Go figure.

    Where to begin...First this blog was Genghis inquiring into the dynamic of voter behavior as compared to their expressed sentiments for bi-partisanship.  It wasn't about which side of the "should we play nicey nice with the Republicans" each of us are on.  I am not so much advocating bipartisan approach as the preferred method, but rather viewing it as one approach which has it benefits and drawbacks.  To take a more confrontational approach has its benefits as well as drawbacks.   But going back to the original questions posed by Genghis, what we can see is that dynamics are at play that undermine the sentiments expressed regarding bipartisanship.

    My own opinion is that given the coalition nature of the Democratic Party which allowed it to achieve the majority created the larger need for "bipartisanship" approach because of its internal members that were, depending on the policy, more aligned with the Republicans than with the liberal wing of the Democrats.  The Republicans, on the other hand, have generally purified their ranks so that it can operate more unilaterally on a host of issues without members breaking rank.

    I would add that while socialism/capitalism spectrum has some value in understanding Congress, and how the parties operate or are expected to operate, it ignores much of governance that is not grounded fundamentally in economics.  Stem cell research, Gitmo, and DADT have very little if nothing to do with class warfare.  Of those three, the least partisan of the bunch is Gitmo which has continued to swing to the right of the spectrum because generally the public doesn't want to follow the liberal approach to closing it down. 

    An example of the complexity faced by any administration in pushing through an agenda only has to look at the abortion issue that reared its head during the HCR debate.  That it was the Democrat Stupak who on many issues fell on the liberal side of things led the charge only illustrates that on something like HCR and with a non-purified party like the Democrats, there is so much compromise that has to be done if the legislation is going to see the light of day.

    You mentioned that what people fought for when they fought for Obama's election was "a change in the way Washington does business."  Now some people, such as myself, interpreted that as meaning working toward greater bipartisanship.  And I think underlies the drive of Genghis' questions in the original blog.  Apparently others such as yourself saw it meaning that they would work to overturn the current system of power. Personally I think that is abit unfathomable.  At least in two or three years time.  As I have said before, Obama never promised a revolution.  He didn't even promise radical change.  He stood right in the center of that socialism/capitalism spectrum not out of necessity, but out of belief that this was the place to stand.

    Now personally I would prefer a socialist president.  I knew I wasn't voting for one.  But the significant point I think is that had we actually elected a socialist president, one that sought to fundamentally alter the relationship between business and government, turning the tables so to say who exercised power over who, this president would have been quickly and effectively marginalized, if not torn down.  Much more so than what we saw happen to Obama with the tea party rallies and the Becks and Rushes pontifications. 

    Maybe I am too jaded.  Maybe a real socialist president would have been able to quickly rally a strong popular support that would have able to counter the fury of the monied elites who would have thrown everything including the kitchen sink at him or her.  I doubt it.  It would have felt nice for the moment watching someone speak real truth to power from the Oval Office.  But in the end, nothing would have come of it in terms of legislation from Congress.  We wouldn't have had the public option.  We wouldn't have any finance reform.  Hell, we wouldn't even be close as we are to ending DADT.  At least that is my take on the speculation of what might have been.  I know others feel differently, their speculation leading to a grand rising of the people who deep down support the liberal agenda even though they think consciously otherwise.

    Which leads back your post just before this one: the desire for a leader to lead the way to this new alignment of power in DC.  I just want to say that given the structure of our government makes it almost impossible with its three branches of separated powers, that for a single individual (or even a small group of individuals) to be able to bring fundamental and transformational change in the power structure.  There is a very dangerous slope in looking for a leader to make the change we want.  That is why I always respected Obama for saying "we are the change we were looking for."  The only way this is going to get better without throwing out the Constitution is if the people turn to themselves for the answers.

    Now you have no argument from me over the power which is derived through campaign finance dynamics, nor on the dynamics of how it influences those who would otherwise fight for a liberal agenda.  Given this power dynamic, we can very well say with some certainty that there is not going to be any campaign finance reform in the near future.  It is the reality we are stuck with.  So the question is how do the people fight back? 

    My simplistic answer is that the power of this money in large part is the ability to communicate to the people and influence their voting decisions.  One of the primary means of this communication is through the television via the mainstream media.  These communications are time and time again shown to be quite effective in swaying enough votes this way and that way.  (Remember the death panels) If the people, however, take back their decision-making from marketeers and strategists, and instead actively work on informing themselves on the candidates and policies, then this lessen the need for a zillion dollars to counter the opponents zillion dollars.  (And for a philosophical question or two: if the use of money to influence campaigns is evil, is not those who take the money to thus influence the voters evil?   Does walking hand in hand with the devil not make one a demon?)

    This is where I am putting the responsibility at the feet of the American voting public when I place any blame.  There are ultimately no legitimate excuses for disengageing from politics and the governance of the country if one wants to call oneself a citizen.  I get disillusioned like the rest.  Watching and reading what is happening can create some serious depression spirals.  And sometimes I just check out.  But in the end, I have to return to it.  Too much is at stake.  And while having some leader who is inspiring is nice, it cannot be the foundation upon which we rest our hopes.  We need to be that foundation. 

    Of course, this is about as likely to happen as having a leader who will be able to effectively change the current system in a forenight. 

    Sleepin, I have to say that I just don't get corporate money argument. I get that money corrupts, and there are certainly particular instances, such as egregious earmarks, where money explicitly buys favors. I can also look at specific bills and sometimes see corporate influence at work. Lieberman likely wavered on health care reform, for instance, because of the influence of Connecticut-based insurance companies. But what about Ben Nelson or Bart Stupak, as AT pointed out?

    And when you look at the bigger picture, it seems even less clear to me. How exactly is "the monied elite" making sure that nothing gets done in Washington?

    I had carefully prepared a response over the last hour and a half, and then it disappeared with one misplaced click of the mouse. I'll have to get back to this when I've got some time. Meanwhile, I refer you to a previous blog I posted that is related to this topic.

    Palooka-Dems, I call them. They pull their punches to make certain they don't overreach in getting policies and/or reforms enacted that do not first have the approval of their monied owners. ("Yeah, I understand the need for financial reform after we burned down the house," sayeth Wall Street. "So go ahead. Knock yourself out. Just don't let it get out of hand, ok? We've got a business to run here, and we don't need any cumbersome regulations getting in our way. Tell you what. Give me a day or two and I'll even have my people write the goddam regs for you to pass. Understand? Now be a good boy, and I'll make sure there's something in the ol' campaign Christmas stocking for youse guys, got it?")

    The examples of this are manifold. And the implications of it are that we can never land an effective blow in any contest that pits our interests against theirs.

    And just watch where Dodd surfaces after his "retirement." I'll shave my beard (had it for over forty years) if Dodd ain't soon working on a high 6 figures salary lobbying on behalf of the financial industry. He's a natural given the way this Palooka-Dem game is played! And in light of the fall he took for the industry as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, that should be a troubling - yet wholly expected! - dynamic for anyone interested in maintaining anything like honest power-brokerage and democratic governance in Washington.

    We had a chance to fix it after a lot of hard work getting Obama elected. People sensed it was going to happen. "Change You Can Believe In." "Hope & Change" "We're going to change the way Washington does business." We handed him the ball. Gave him great field position. And then Obama/Rahm punted on first down. And now you wonder why everyone gave up and went home?

    Hey SJ, I'm very sorry about the lost comment. What did you mis-click? I added undo-redo buttons in case you just deleted the text by mistake. Everyone once in a while, I mistakenly click a link while writing, but I can usually recover the text using the back button. I'll see if there are any other failsafe options that I can implement.

    I was in preview mode and carelessly clicked on the previewed portion to edit, rather than in the actual edit section. It took me to a different page and I couldn't get back to the initial page with my comments intact.

    Brother Jeezus, one way to prevent disasters like yours:  if you know your comment will be long or complicated, open a word document.  When you've edited there, you can us the little clipboard with a 'W' on the right end of the comment menu, highlight your text, and copy it onto the opened box, then click 'insert'.

    If you mess up, at least it's there if you've saved the word doc., or just minimized it down to your task bar. 

    That will be three dollars please.  Cool

    On the Dodd thing, I well know that there are cozy relationships between politicians and corporate lobbyists. What I don't get is the leap from cozy relationships to screwing up government. Regulatory failure is one problem with government, but I don't see how it is THE problem with government. Who are these Palooka Dems? How did they bring the government to its knees?

    I hope to provide a more thorough reply, perhaps as a longer, separate blog article as time allows.

    For now, suffice to say the key is in the whole idea that "You can never achieve more reform than the monied interests will allow." And the fix? "Change the way Washington does business." 

    It's kinda' like the old movie trope wherein the Sheriff is corruptly owned by the local mobster. The sheriff does his job. All is well. You just assume that he's working for "your side" against those who would do you harm. But then along comes the day when you call the cops because the mobster has raped your wife and children, and the sheriff shows up in your driveway accompanied by the mobster, asking "You wanted to register a complaint?"

    Chris Dodd standing with Wall Street bankers gives me a similar kind of sinking feeling when I look to Congress to fix financial regulatory reform. Lieberman, the same, when I see him standing with the Health Insurance Industry when I'm looking for legitimate HCR.

    It's insidious, endemic, and very effective - particularly in the Senate given the power wielded by a single Senator that allows him/her to ensure punches are pulled in any effort to land a blow as needed against the monied owners and in favor of the general public.

    And this dynamic even provides cover for the White House and others who can then posit that "Well, you know, I'd LOVE to have the public option" (for example) " but we just don't have the votes to get it done. Lieberman holds the key vote, and he won't budge, dang it! Let's be pragmatic and settle for what we can."

    Instead? Shine a light on Lieberman's level of campaign contributions from the Health Insurance Industry and show just how pervasive and corrupting pay-to-play really is. Call him out on it, and show the American people that "there's a new sheriff in town" who will not give so much as a rat's ass in honoring any backroom deals have been made, but who instead will insist that policy decisions be made strictly on their merits and in terms of what's best for the country. (I know! What a revolutionary concept!)

    I await your blog then. But here's my challenge to you: Show me the money! Because I've heard over and over again how corporate political influence is destroying America, but I've never heard any direct evidence of the more extensive allegations. It's a long leap from Dodd's post-Senate career moves to the conclusion that corporations are able to torpedo bills at will (despite what the silent working class majority supposedly really wants).

    Genghis, may I interrupt?  I think Tom Joad is on the road, and won't be able to answer until he's back home.  ;o)

    www.opensecrets.org is a non-partisan site operated in conjunction with the Center for Responsive Politics.  You can track all the money in Congress-contributions, financial statements, issues, lobbyists, analysis, revolving door issues, costs of individual races, etc.  Now you may not be able to determine causality between money and a vote, so lacking memos or phone tap transcripts, it's hard to prove.   Money is so important to all members that they rarely investigate each other.  The only 'fix' to the Citizens United ruling that got out of committee was the DISCLOSE Act, which was defeated; even a few Dems voted against it, all the Republicans.  And the only thing it required was stating on an advertisement who funded the ad.  Cripes.

    After Thanksgiving I may put up more about the banks and MERS and the mortgage crisis.  It is enormously worrisome to the entire notion of property rights in America, the basis for capitalism.  Please watch this video, and listen to Marcy Kaptur.  You'll see how the money matters, and you can then go to the link that talks about what the Administration and Congress may try to do to paper it all over, and change the standards of property registration with county clerks, or 'wet ink' deeds of trust and mortgages.


    (Marcy Kaptur on Ratigan)

    About the possible MERS Whitewash fix:


    I think you sort of have to watch campaign promises, then follow the money, or read others who DO follow the money, then watch different votes or vote flips to see causality on different issues, but it's there too often.  Money isn't the only determinant in elections, but it's major.  And not the only determinant in how a politician votes, but often is, especailly if staying in office and/or jockeying their positions for post-congressional jobs through revloving MICC and corporate jobs.

    Yes, but leave Mr. Joad out of this.

    I think that "Show me the money" was the wrong phrase to use. I know opensecrets and have used it for research. But it's not how much money candidate A received from corporation B that's at issue. Let me put the challenge another way.

    In "Wasteland of the Free," Iris DeMint sings, "We got politicians running races on corporate cash. Now don't tell me they don't turn around and kiss them peoples' ass."

    This line seems to me to be the core of the campaign finance answer to my question, "What's the matter with Washington?" It's a great line in a great song, but its not much of an argument.

    I'm not ruling out the use of circumstantial evidence to infer causality, but to mount a reliable argument, you need a lot stronger circumstantial evidence than I've been seeing.

    Let's say you want to make a case that a corporation influence a particular legislator on a particular vote. You would need to show:

    1. The corporation made a sizeable donation to the candidate

    2. The corporation received a clear advantage from the candidate's vote

    3. The candidate would have been unlikely to vote in that way without outside influece.

    Now let's say that you want to make a stronger case that a corporation or corporations influenced the overall outcome of a particular bill. Then you need to reproduce the case against enough individual legislators to change the outcome.

    Now let's say that you want to make an even stronger case that a corporation or corporations influenced the majority of significant bills. Then you need to reproduce the case against enough individual legislators in a whole bunch of cases.

    That's a pretty damn big case, perhaps practically impossible to make, especially given the number of legislators and corporations alleged to be involved.

    So what I've seen instead is a bunch of handwaving, leaping from the observation that corporations donate to candidates to the conclusion that corporations are paralyzing the government. Now I can't prove that it's not the case, and perhaps it's true, but without better evidence, I'm not ready to sign on to this particular theory.

    If we were talking about prosecuting a legal case, your standards of evidence would make perfect sense, but there are three possible positions to take:

    1) It's more likely than not that campaign contributions influence legislation (outside of merely determining who gets elected)

    2) It's more likely than not that campaign contributions do not influence legislation (outside of merely determining who gets elected)

    3) It's equally likely

    I'm going to arbitrarily rule out option 3 on basis of being wishy-washy (and also incredibly unlikely - what's the probability you weigh exactly 192.21485 pounds?), thus leaving us with options 1 and 2. As I said, if we were talking about criminal prosecution, you'd have to prove #1 beyond a reasonable doubt, but as far as I know we're not talking about criminal prosecution.

    So, if #2 is right, then why do many corporations donate to both political parties? I realize there's some hand-waving, but hand wave it away, if you can!

    In a legal case, I'm not sure that 1, 2, and 3 are even sufficient. I'm just saying that you need to make a reliable case that at least addresses these points. More on startdust comment below.

    Tom Joad is my nickname for Jeezus. 

    What are lobbyists for, if not to influence votes?  Why do they contribute so heavily to certain politicians if not for the influence the money can buy?  Any yes, they often give lesser amounts to those of the other party if they are on key committees, just to hedge their bets.

    There are 12,553 registered lobbyists.  Some de-gegistered and funnel money differently now--up to 90,000 James Thurber of the CCPS at American University. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE58C1NX20090913

    Here's Dick Durbin saying that the banks, frankly, own the place.


    Gridlock?  No; it's just that their money influences/buys votes.  I just don't get that if someone can't get the evidence on tape or paper that it means it isn't happening. And sometimes the lobbyists funnel to candidates on issues we like, remember.

    I'm not arguing that corporations have zero political influence. I'm arguing that corporate influence has been blamed for an awful lot of ills without any kind of defensible quantification about how much influence corporations actually have.

    There are many cases where #1 and #2 are crystal clear, and other cases where it'd be clearer if we had better sunshine laws. That just leaves #3 which can only be shown using quantum multiverses. As you might suspect I do have access to these, but unfortunately your feeble senses would be unable to witness them without self-destructing so you're just going to have to take my word for it* that the candidates would've been more likely to vote for their constituents' best interests over those of the corporations had it not been for the sizable donations.

    *Do you really think someone with access to quantum multiverses would bother lying to you?

    Okay; now ya got me curious as to your job...   Cool  Fork it over...

    I'm a deity, but I can't specify which one, because then I'd be forced not to believe in me, due to Heisenberg's agnosticism principle.

    How 'uncertain' of you...  ;o)  And happy thanksgiving: that don't require no beliefs a-tall.  Just gratitude.  Cool

    I'm not saying that you're not a deity, but we have no reliable evidence to...uh...verify it.

    If you can't get it, I can;'t help you much further.  Both parties take money; most members are influenced, though thank the goddess, not all.  Or some refuse the contributions.  Look at one almost current issue: BP and the oil spill, and all the questions about Obama sitting on his hands during the spill.  Here's this:


    All I can advise is paying better attention.   ;o)

    I think the question here is whether what is happening today is any different than it was ten or twenty or thirty years ago in term of influence over Congress.  I would say that the coporations/wealthy business interests had as much influence in 1980 (or even 1880) as they do in 2010.  If this is the case, then government is no more broke now than it has been in recent decades.  I think sometimes people tend to come across as if this influence over Congress and the White House in terms of policy is something new.  I think the only difference these days is that people are more aware of the influence so it seems like a new problem. 

    If this "business as usual" is the case then if one wants to discuss why the current government is less responsive to the people or less capable of addressing the issues than one has to look further into the dynamics of what makes DC tick, to see what beyond the dollars is creating the barriers.

    You make a very convenient case for looking the other way.

    How old are you? Like, maybe, ten or twelve perhaps?

    The reason I ask is because I easily remember a time when when the mere thought of a quid pro quo action taken on behalf of a campaign contributor to the obvious detriment of the general public and in defiance of their desires would have sparked a front-page scandal. And you now say it's simply SOP?

    Yeah, money has always flexed its muscle, but so have the people. Look up the history of the Progressive movement, for starters, to see that there have been times in history when elected leaders with backbones finally stood up and said "Enough is enough!." Today's realities scream for such leadership.

    Sam Adams said it succinctly:

    "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!”

    Gotta' head for work, thankful that I'm still somewhat gainfully employed.

    Stay safe out there, Tom Joad.  And have a good Thanksgiving day.


    Oh, and don't forget to donate some of that hard-earned money to the creator of Wiki.  Wink

    Where do I say we should look the other way?  What I have been saying over and over up and down this thread is that if the people want something to change then they need to get engaged politically and change it.  Which your link to progressive movements only supports.  If we wait for someone within the beltway to lead the charge we will be waiting for a long long long time.  The best anyone on the inside, even with good intentions, can do is the incrementalism that you so loathe.  So as long the people remain disengaged, waiting for some political savior to lead the people in some progressive revolt, very little will improve. 

    And one big reason is that all this quid pro quo has become SOP is that this information is out there, and thanks to the internet and cable news, offered to just about every American all the time.  And they continue to send back the same folks.  And when they don't, as this past election, they send people even more likely to snuggle up cozy with the wealthy elites. 

    If one has any hope in a progressive movement in this country, then one has to believe that it will be able to rise up in spite of the wealthy elites' efforts to suppress it, not because someone came in removed the wealthy elites so the people can form a new government like they were taking a stroll in the park.

    The election of 2008 was not a stroll in the park. Although I remember a terrific party in the park (Grant Park), it was quickly followed by Rahm and Geithner and Summers and the rest of the crew dismantling the "Change You Can Believe In" quicker than they could even get the stage down in the park. We handed Obama the ball. Gave him terrific field position. And he punted on first down. And you say you don't understand why everyone doesn't just get in the trenches with the Dems at the mere possibility that we can do all THAT again?

    Forgive me, but given this recent history with the Dems, I'd dare say it's the Dem leadership's turn to show they are capable of at least getting their helmet on straight before agreeing to get in the game again next time. And, yes, there is valid criticism to be made of Obama/Rahm and the Dems for the way in which they have played the game. (GASP!)

    see below

    What's wrong with Washington?  Not necessarily in this order:

    1.  Republicans

    2.  Democrats

    3.  K Street

    4.  Democrats

    5.  Republicans

    6.  They're always unprepared for snow down there.  17 flakes and the city shuts down. 

    Happy Thanksgiving to all.



    Ha!  Great list.  Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Anna. 

    SJ - The problem here is that you seem to believe that everyone who voted for Obama saw things exactly the same way, that the “Change” in “Change You Can Believe In” meant the same thing to every voter.

    Putting aside all the conservatives who voted for Obama (obviously you feel that Obama need not give their views on issues a second thought, let alone those who voted for the loser), I for one, because I am not 12 years old, didn’t believe that a defacto system of government that had been in place for at least as long as the lifetime of anyone living would be changed in two, four or even eight years time.  Change I could believe in was change based on the realities of government, the ways of politics in DC, the engagement or lack of it by the people, the media, and I could go on.  It was a belief in a change that I expected from a politician who never promised a revolution and who supported the basic assumptions of our current economic system.

    I would prefer a socialist, but that is impossible in this country at this time.  The best for which I can hope to sit in the Oval Office is someone who sees the world as Obama does, who is willing to work within the system to drag as much progressive policies as is possible.  I would say that on a given policy that a more liberal version would have been possible, but that this victory would likely result in (1) less support for future liberal legislation from the conservative wing of the Democratic Party and (2) less financial support for Democrats which would lead to greater Republican victories which would lead to a rolling back of what liberal advances in legislation that has been made. 

    [Our disagreement one might say comes from each other seeing Obama playing a different game – you see him playing football and I see him on a different field, let’s say a baseball diamond, and he chose to play small ball rather than swing for the fences.  The SF Giants showed that this can be a successful strategy.  Keeping on this analogy, many of Dems giving up on Obama and the Dems in 2010 was similar to those who jumped off the Giants bandwagon when the Padres looked like they would win the NL West.  In the end I would say that the sports metaphor fails because it reinforces the simplistic notion that there just two side, the conservatives (Republicans) on one side and the liberals(Democrats) on the other.  The reality is that there those on our team (e.g. Nelson) that will at any given moment jump to the other team.  Our problem is that few if any of them ever do likewise.]

    So you think Obama punted on first down and can’t get their helmets on straight.  And that this means it’s justifiable to check out in a two party system.  Okay.  I think we do what we can through the primaries than accept what we get when it comes to the general election.  Otherwise we should give up on this thing called democracy, where those with the “power” will always be at an advantage and so what success we can achieve will always be small and long coming.  Sure that is frustrating. Depressing.  Discouraging.  But we have to get back on that horse.  Not only in support of the Democratic Party but in grassroot organizations, nonprofits, and other avenues to effect change in our communities.

    Now, I am for criticism of Obama/Rahm and the Dems for ways they have played the game (and they were far from being uber progressives), just as I am for criticism of Boehner/McConnell and the Repubs for ways they have played the game.  And I, also, am for criticism of the people when they fail to live up to their responsibilities as citizens (say what you will of the tea parties, at least they were out there making their voices heard).  There is plenty of criticism to go around (I can point to a number of places where I could have done more as a citizen).  The quest is to place a level and quality of criticism against each that is appropriate given the realities on the ground. 

    I would add that we have gained far more than we've lost, in the big picture, but I'm afraid that too many don't look at the big picture anymore.  Or, if they do, their picture includes a bit of unreality. 

    Forget about my terrible analogy of a Thanksgiving dinner sitdown, last week.  Liken this to John Lennon, instead.  John and Yoko left Britain to come to NY in 71 or thereabouts, hoping for more freedom and better responses from the press.  At first, they got it.  But eventually the US press corps turned on them too, and part of that can be blamed on John's regressive Plastic Ono band albums featuring primal scream therapy and Yoko screeching, etc., but..after a time, NY and America came to love them, and call them our own.  But the struggle was not just in critics, it was in the government.  Even after Nixon resigned, John was hounded by the FBI, for many years.  Still, he kept on trying to do what he did best.

    /Analogy off.  I suck at analogies.  What I'm saying is....yes, Rahm was a mistake.  Geithner, et al.  And maybe Obama hasn't learned from that, or won't learn from that, but he's our President and he's under enough fire from the Republicans who are just going to say "No" over and over again.  With the left being just as harsh, how in hell is he ever going to be able to do anything? 

    *hits Save with regret and waits for the pile-on*


    I am very aware that the "change" in "Change You Can Believe In" is a rather fuzzy concept given the wide disparity in peoples' taste for change and its particulars. It is for ths reason I haven't treated it as a campaign promise, but rather as a campaign theme.

    "We're going to change the way Washington does business" is quite a bit more specific and - in my estimation - does indeed fall in the "promise" category. But I am now beginning to wonder if I mis-heard this by assuming the wrong definition of the word DOES.

    I've witnessed Obama and the way this team "DOES" business and Wall Street. Makes me think I should have looked to see if he was wearing kneepads when he articulated this "promise" all those many times during the campaign. Best I can tell, the change has been more in line with turning the page on the Kama Sutra and trying out new positions as these star-crossed lovers romp atop the mattress filled with campaign cash and our tax dollars. Cushy it is!

     I would say that on a given policy that a more liberal version would have been possible, but that this victory would likely result in (1) less support for future liberal legislation from the conservative wing of the Democratic Party and (2) less financial support for Democrats which would lead to greater Republican victories which would lead to a rolling back of what liberal advances in legislation that has been made. 

    This is almost comical, and I have to believe you weren't really serious when you wrote it.

    First of all, is it really your position that passing "more liberal" measures (IOW measures that are particularly appealing to the party's base) when the opportunity presents itself must be avoided because it might alienate the blue dogs and cause them to become obstructionist of any future liberal legislation? This raise a couple questions:

    1.) Where in your advocacy here of the pragmatic, incrementalist approach is there any provision for ANY "more liberal" legislation to be approved?

    2.) Might the base not argue that it in fact makes incredible sense to go for broke when possible to get EVERY bit of liberal legislation passed now, before the blue dogs mount their interference? After all, you're the one consistently arguing that half a loaf is better than none.

    3.) Why do we even need Republicans when we can so successfully limit our own political agenda to pass only conservative legislation all by ourselves?

    As to your second point, have you looked around lately? Bush and Cheney and the Repubs had been pretty well marginalized by the time the 2008 election was over. That's the baseline from which we started. Is it your argument to infer that somehow Obama and Company have been tough on them and have therefore limited the Repubs ability to win "greater Republican victories which would lead to a rolling back of what liberal advances in legislation that has been made.?"

    The Republican agenda (Bush Tax Cuts; Financial deregulation; War Crimes; Big Oil Energy Policy; Two Wars; etc.) could not have failed more miserably, and their whole house of cards was falling completely in on itself when Obama took office. And now, two years later, they've not only regained credibility but are resurgent while promoting more of the same. Sorry, but the political course that has been charted - which I criticize profoundly and you make apology for - cannot be deemed a rousing success! In fact, it's difficult to see how any Democratic Administration could have surrendered the high ground in the message wars so quickly and so thoroughly as has Obama/Rahm. 

    But enough for now. I will attempt to write a blog dealing with the fundamental threat that all this "coziness" with business presents to this Democratic Party and to democracy itself, and how it has now progressed to intolerable proportions. Gotta' get some time away from work to make it happen. Hopefully, I'll  get it done this weekend.


    At least Pelosi was elected minority leader, rather than a blue dog, and she apparently is willing to fight the Prez on capitulating to Republicans; Lynn Woolsey, too, who wants to keep him from moving from the center-right to the far-right.


    "We're going to change the way Washington does business."  Yes a little more specific.  And my memory serves me correctly this was done in the context of bipartisanship which brings us back to the original blog by Genghis.  Apparently for some when they voted for Obama the hope they would take the majority and push it through in the spirit of partisanship. I would ask those people if they turned to fellow liberals during the days when Bush and Republicans controlled DC and told them to shut their mouths regarding complaints that the Republicans were not working with the minority party.  And should the Republicans take back the White House and Senate in 2012, I assume you will join those liberals telling us other liberals to shut up when the conservatives ram their agenda through, shut down the liberals in committee, etc.  I mean we wouldn't want them punting on first down after the People have given such great field position.

    The way Washington does business also applied to the influence of lobbyists.  Obama made some strides within his own administration.  But the problem of dealing with lobbyists is centered on the first admendment.  If a private citizen calls their representative to express their support for a bill, they are lobbying their representative.  To tell BP or Chase Bank that they cannot either as an organization or through their employees express their opinion in DC, to lobby elected officials, is to tell you and me that we cannot lobby them either.

    The reality is that when a BP executive says something, there is the implied tie to future campaign financing.  A leverage someone such as you or me do not have.  We all know that the implied tie is there, but unfortunately is only implied.  If it was explicit then there is a bribe.  Most of them are smart enough to keep it from becoming explicit.

    So again we are back to whether we hold Obama accountable on a realistic level regarding the extent that he could actually change how lobbyists work in DC.  To think that he or anyone could just walk into office and kick out all the lobbyists and their influence is living in la-la land.

    Which takes us to Obama and Wall Street.  I am not arguing, nor have I ever, that Obama is doing some 30 dimensional chess game through which he will bring it down at the end of the game.  On one hand Obama looked at future financial support through these wealthy elites.  Given the election game, which as you have stated quite emphatically goes to the one with the most money, as representative of not only his own election finance needs but of those of the party, I believe he did make decisions with the money flow in consideration.

    We can burn him on the proverbial stake for this.  We can say he should have stood up to them regardless of the consequences from a campaign financial point of view and the implications for future elections (and the power to push the agenda forward that is impact given the outcomes of those elections).  We can say that the minor difference that results between the Dems over the Repubs as a consequence of using this financial consideration as part of the decision making process is so small that there is no difference between the two. Or not.

    And there is what in the other hand.  To go after "Wall Street" required to go after it in full.  It meant during the midst of the downturn of the economy, one had to rock the boat upon which the economy was dependent.  The one thing we can for sure is that no one know how the ripple effects would have played out in 2009 and into 2010 had Obama's administration taken to giving a middle finger approach.

    Moreover, Obama had never promised that he would work to bring down the current economic system.  Given the vehemence by which Obama supporters across the board attacked the tea party folks for claiming he was a socialist, I would say that he made this point quite clear. We didn't elect a socialist as president (which I wish we had).  To criticize him as if he promised that he was is unfair. If the people want the capitalists to take the perp walk then let prove it with the next election.  My guess is that isn't going to happen. Right now it looks more likely that the people will elect someone like Governor Daniels of Indiana who will take the use of the Karma Sutra to whole another level.

    And this again brings us back to Genghis' original blog.  If the people are so outraged by how Obama worked with Wall Street, then why are leaning toward voting for the very people who are more likely to work with Wall Street in a way that made them so outraged.  So far the best answer you have offered to this dynamic is that through frustration they are justified for dropping out and letting others put the uber supporters of the wealthy elites into power.  I say this justification is unacceptable.

    Now on to the other part of your response.  I will try to keep this short.  Along with say health care reform and financial reform, we also wanted to deal with things like DADT, START and Gitmo.  There is Cap and Trade.  There is zillion of little admendments and tweaks in the lesser know pieces of legislation from environmental regulation to educational reform.  It is a perpetual state of compromise.  So, yes, if one wants help a year or two down the road, you work not to step on toes in the present moment.  It creates watered down legislation.  But the alternative is even more watered legislation, or worse the legislation can't make it out of committee. 

    Maybe you believe that a true believer could change this dynamic of politics in the belt way.  That someone like Lieberman would suddenly change his spots if Obama and Rahm had somehow unflinchingly taken the high road of liberal policies.

    Regarding question 1) that any kind of finance reform was passed (as watered down as it was) after the health care reform debacle. Given the seemingly absolute power of the wealthy elite, one wonders how any reform was passed at all.  There was changes that the wealthy elite were not happy with.  Yet they were able to get through.  These changes were not DOA.  To think that had Obama's administration burned bridges during HCR that we would have the Consumer Protection Agency is naive. That Elizabeth Warren got push back from some those in the Democratic Party is just one little piece of the legislative environment Obama was working with.  No matter how liberal any president was, that could not be changed.

    Regarding question 2) is that the blue dogs began to amount their opposition from the get go. I might suprise you that Senator Bayh or Lincoln could care less what those in more liberal places in the country think.  Going for broke from the get go was from the start a plan that would have ended in defeat on the big ticket items.  Remember how they quickly put Obama in place regarding Gitmo. Going for broke implies going for the whole loaf.  That Obama looked at getting half a loaf from the start is what you calling punting on first down.  

    And regarding question 3) is that the legislation passed is the legislation that is possible given the collective whole of DC.  What criticism of the Democrats as a whole tends to overlook is the coalition nature of the Democratic party which allowed it to gain the majority.  The simple fact, and it one that truly sucks, is that if the Democrats only put forth candidates like Pelosi or Sanders, they would be in minority - definitely in the Senate.  This last point is to not say that the country is center-right but the fact that North Dakota has as many votes as New York in the Senate.  

    And there is another factor.  As with so many issues, while the people dislike (even loathe) special interests influencing Congress, they not only tend to look the other way when that benefits their own state's or legislative district's economic prospects.  Growing up in Seattle, I can tell you that any politician from that area that stood up to Boeing wouldn't last long.  Even if it was done in the best interest country.  Which is again to say there is plenty of blame to go around to all sides over the years as to how we have gotten to the place we are.

    If we go back and look at how things played out in real time in those first months of 2009, how could have the Republicans fought the stimulus so thoroughly and not to have suffered any backlash had the "whole agenda" failed so miserably.  Maybe because if we look at the election of Obama as the country's reputiation of the "whole agenda" we need to take into account that McCain (and Palin for god's sake) still had nearly 60 million Americans who thought he offered the best choice, that McCain won 22 states.  

    So I do not apologize for the course taken, but merely understand it as one conclusion from the negotiation of the realities that were and are present in our political environment.    They made mistakes, fumbled talking points, and committed other actions deserving of criticism.  What I would say though it is a intensely simplistic position that had Obama administration taken the high road from the beginning (a larger stimulus or nothing), that we would be a better position today, both economically and politically.

    And if you should write that blog, what I hope you address is the question Genghis asks at the end of his blog: how do we the people change things?  Because you get no argument from me about the corruption that is going on because of the money.  But given the political realities that are evident in polls such as this one done by gallup in Feb. 2010 in which when asked which worries them more 57% said "too much regulation of business by government" compared to 37% who said "not enough regulation of business by government." 



    I wrote:

    "The Republican agenda (Bush Tax Cuts; Financial deregulation; War Crimes; Big Oil Energy Policy; Two Wars; etc.) could not have failed more miserably, and their whole house of cards was falling completely in on itself when Obama took office. And now, two years later, they've not only regained credibility but are resurgent while promoting more of the same. Sorry, but the political course that has been charted - which I criticize profoundly and you make apology for - cannot be deemed a rousing success! In fact, it's difficult to see how any Democratic Administration could have surrendered the high ground in the message wars so quickly and so thoroughly as has Obama/Rahm."

    Your response:

    "But given the political realities that are evident in polls such as this one done by gallup in Feb. 2010 in which when asked which worries them more 57% said "too much regulation of business by government" compared to 37% who said "not enough regulation of business by government." 

    It would seem that - after selling their soul to maintain the money pipeline to their corporate benefactors - that Obama/Rahm and the Dems didn't fare too well in the messaging department, eh? Fancy that!

    Show me a poll from November, 2008, that shows how people felt about regulation of business and Wall Street at that time. The anger with Wall Street, in particular, was palpable - and for good reason. And what do the Dems do? Virtually appoint Goldman Sachs to oversee the Administration's response. And Congress falls allover itself to make certain that the lobbyists' agenda is put at the head of the line, before any other needs are considered.

    And now you point to this poll to show how difficult it is for Obama and the Dems to do anything in the face of this populist revolt they face? And this is the people's fault?

    Obama and the Dems had their chance to steer the anger and frustration over the collapse of the financial industry in creatively effective ways. Just for openers, that's what I thought the "Organizing for Change" thing was all about: An attempt to use the netroots and community organizing to maintain a coherent and sustained push from the grassroots to realize change.

    What did we get instead? The virtual appointment of Goldman Sachs to oversee the government response to the crisis.

    The populist anger and anxiety is real. It needs to be expressed. The Republicans were selling the idea that guvmint doesn't do anything but waste your money and stand in the way of those who can address the economic issues. And Obama - in his fealty to his owners and in the absence of any message to the contrary - simply ceded the field.

    And you wonder why people point to Goldman Sachs and Big Business as the only game in town, worthy of their support as the only agency powerful enough to address the issues that concern them, like jobs, financial insecurity, etc.? Thanks to these compromised asshats, was there ever really any other choice to be made?

    Goldman Sachs Rawks! Long live the Tea Bag Revolution!

    It really didn't need to be this way, but it isn't the fault of the people for jumping fully behind the only alternative offered instead of wasting their time with a bunch of poseurs and creampuff pantywaists.

    Your continued effort to shield the people from any responsibility for their own choices is at some level commendable. 

    Now my point in going over all the dynamics is not to excuse the behavior of the politicians but rather to reiterate the entrenched nature of the system.  It wasn't going to change over night.  And ultimately if someone was in the blaming mood, then it wasn't just the Dems that needed to take the blame.  It wasn't as if the Repubs were fighting to take on Wall Street only to be held back by the Dems. 

    But such a view would require just a tad bit of understanding of what governance is actually like in DC.  Instead, the people want something done instantaneously, and when it doesn't happen they just switch over to the politician with the other letter than the one they are told have the majority. To say this approach is less than sophisticated is an understatement. 

    And let's not forget that the Dems did try to regulate Wall Street.  And who fought them tooth and nail?  The Republicans.  So what message is all those voters in their populist rage sending by turning around and giving the Repubs more power. 

    You can say the voters in their frustration were justified in this act of self-sabotage, that it makes perfect sense for them in their outrage over the Dems not going left enough that they now help ensure that it will go further to the right.  I don't. 

    If we want more liberal politicians in DC we need to run them in the primaries and get them elected.  There is no other short cut.  Just as the conservatives did over the past four decades so that now they have a truly conservative party rather than a coalition party like the Dems. 

    Here is the current Blue Dogs in the House:

    Lets see just how many of these we can replace with actual liberals in 2012.  It is up to the people of those districts with some liberal with the guts to run to stand up and take the challenge to run against them.

    Trope says: "And let's not forget that the Dems did try to regulate Wall Street.  And who fought them tooth and nail?  The Republicans."

    Well, sure.  We can reliably count on Republicans to carpet-bomb fin-regs, but when you say "Dems did try to regulate Wall Street", that right there shows a great amount of credultiy, ignorance, or outright denial (the 'unsophisiticated' Stardust maintained).

    There were plenty of Dems in the House who put forth good amendments to the bills; most were defeated, some in committee, some on the floor.  The Senate had some good versions offered from the heroes of the day, but most were defeated on the floor.  And many never made ot to the voting stages precisely because the White House fought them every step of the way.  Economists and savvy members of Congress knew what needed to happen in terms of re-regulation.  And the fact that Obama arguably won the election based on the (real or phony) near-meltdown of the banking system, and McCains clueless responses and suspension of his campaign to 'rush back to Washington' to help (he didn't), anyone who actually gave a shit about economic justice and the long-term economic condition of the country would have said (rightly, IMO) that the first order of business of the White House should have been re-regulating the banks.  

    Instead, they did HCR, allowing political-eons of time to pass, and by the time they took on the issue, the banks looked kinda/sorta solvant, the Dow was rising again, la la la.  Blown opportunity to act while the iron was hot.  Still, eventually the White House, after going totally with their neo-liberal economic team and genuflecting before the banks, seemed to get it after Scott Brown's election.  The President got ol' Paul Volcker (who had been so marginalized that he had quit even coming to work at the White House any longer) to stand with him while he told us that he would support Volcker's amendment.  Now the White House did, in part, but it was weakened enough so they had to call it the 'modified Volcker rule'.   Big holes, which suited the White House and the Dems who didn't really want to see much regulatory action.


    Now you might argue that these Dems and Obama actually favor trickle-down economics, and that taxpayers should continue to subsidize the top tiny-percent of the super wealthy, and that further wealth redistribution upward is good for America.  But when they claim that they have enacted the most sweeping regulatory change since the Great Depression: It's bullshit, except for the fact that it was the only regulation enacted since that time.  Brilliant.  Please, please, don't believe, or pretend to believe, that the Republicans were the only force working against fin-reg.  Please don't pretend that Phil Angelides was given subpoena power to run his investigations into the causes of the bubble and meltdown.  He wasn't, and his report never got to the truth. 

    Obama was a loud supporter of Warren's CFPB, and that is a very good thing.  But he let Geithner undermine her, which I hate, and let them stick the new agency under the Treasury umbrella (potentially a very bad idea).  And he didn't make her the head of the agency, and he may just appoint consummate Wall Street insider Roger Altman to replace Larry Summers.  He's waiting to see how Altman's name floats, but if he does it, not only will the optics be terrible, but Altman will be terrible, and just like the rest of the team.  No competing voices for his economic team: not one!

    I'm hungry, and want my toast.  So I'll close for now, and even skip proof-reading. 



    Like SJ who are commendable on your effort to allow the People to avoid any responsibility for the outcome of this election which is what this blog is really about.  You seem to be trying to convince me that Obama and his administration were not uber liberals.  No argument there. 

    But if we can, using your words, say the Repub could be reliably counted upon to "carpet bomb fin-regs" the question is why would the people who so loathe Wall Street give the Repubs more power?  This is the question that neither you nor SJ have adquately answered.  If the people were using their vote as a message, and their thought was that we didn't go left enough, wouldn't it make sense to vote more Dems into office as opposed to more Republicans?

    Now you say the first order of business was Obama and his administration to re-regulate the banks.  Maybe you don't remember where we were economically when Obama took office. To say during a global economic meltdown that Obama should have first gone for re-regulation is not only being politically naive, it is economically naive.  Such a statement almost discredits everything else you have to say.

    So when Obama put Elizabeth Warren in charge of the creation of the Consumer Protection Agency, which I said before an agency that would not have existed without the Dems, I didn't see any of those who were demanding Obama put her in charge or else.  In just that little act, he destroyed your narrative.  And now you will give him a little credit for it, but then turn around and say it means nothing because of this or that.

    Because in the end for you it isn't about moving the country forward, even if it is a half step, but about whether Obama is uber liberal president, which he isn't.  So if you want to make the argument about whether he is uber liberal, of course you win.  But that is not the argument.

    So you want a true socialist as president - get him or her elected in 2012. Good luck.  Both you and I know it won't happen.  Why?  Because the people in this country at this time will not put a true radical into the Oval Office.  The reason Obama is president is because he wasn't a radical.

    If you just want to speak to the choir, say so.  But for those liberals who actually want to see change happen on a federal level, you need to speak to the actual dynamics that are play.  You may be hungry, but I'm so tired of the left wing ignoring the fact that it is the People who they idolize who are really the core of the problem of why we can get the shift in policy.

    see below


    Here's what Chris Floyd answers you.  I think I will bail now; we aren't even playing in the same ballpark, you and I.

    " I found myself unexpectedly heartened by American election returns, at least in one respect. For they have shown, once again, that the American people feel an abiding, angry – if deeply inchoate – dissatisfaction with the nation’s unjust, corrupt and dysfunctional political system. They know that something is profoundly wrong with the system, and so they keep voting one faction out and putting the other faction in, hoping to see some kind of change.

    History gives this proof: in almost every national election for the past two decades, we have seen a change in control of either one or both houses of Congress or the White House. This has happened in 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, and now again in 2010. The pattern is very clear. And it is not because Americans “prefer divided government,” as the dim chewers of Beltway cud like to tell us; it’s because they can’t get anyone in the system to address their concerns.

    Yet with every turnover in factional control, we see a rush of earnest, serious analysis telling us how the results represent a vast sea change in America’s politics, culture, society, soul, etc. But somehow, two years later, these momentously meaningful tidal waves ripple into nothing on the empty shore. And again, that’s because they don’t actually signify anything beyond the by-now perennial unease and dissatisfaction.

    What is less heartening, of course, is the fact that the American electorate never quite grasps the obvious, glaring, brutal fact that neither of these factions is ever going to change the system one iota if they can help it; they are the system, they are its servants, its enablers, its enactors. Then again, we are dealing with, to borrow Gore Vidal’s deathless phrase, the United States of Amnesia, where history doesn’t exist (except in the form of feverishly distorted self-righteous myths about America’s eternal super-duper specialness), and every election is a tabula rasa . The only flickering historical awareness that seems to exist in the American electorate is a vague sense that the gang they voted in two years ago hasn’t changed anything; better try the other gang again … forgetting this is the same gang they threw out the time four years ago, for the same reason.

    So the cycle goes on and on, and the rot and dysfunction grows deeper, and ever more intractable. The people’s concerns are not only not addressed; they are not even articulated by anyone in the lucrative, sinister game of King of the Hill played by the two factions, both of which are pledged, body and soul, to elite rule, corporate rapine and militarist empire. And certainly, neither the corporate media nor the educational system will do anything to help inculcate a deeper sense of history (“History is bunk,” said that quintessential American, Henry Ford; you can’t make no money from it, so what’s the point?), or provide any wider, deeper context for articulating – and confronting – the causes of the electorate’s dissatisfaction. Instead, these institutions keep replicating and refreshing those same myths of specialness (in either “conservative” or “progressive” form), adding layer after layer of thought-obliterating noise to the Great American Echo Chamber that encloses, and imprisons, the entire society.

    Mmm, maybe it’s not so heartening after all. Especially given the fact that both factions are – literally, legally, formally, undeniably – packs of war criminals, pledged to the continuation of a rapacious empire of military domination that is killing innocent people, fomenting hatred and extremism, and destabilizing the world. The myth of specialness prevents most people from seeing the truth of what their bipartisan political establishment is  doing  to the world – or even to themselves, how it has stripped them of their liberties, corroded their society, destroyed their communities and degraded their quality of life, while diminishing the lives and futures of their own children and grandchildren. Most Americans apparently cannot break out of the narrow cognitive structure that has been imposed on their understanding of reality: i.e., that America is inherently, ineradicably good, that whatever mistakes it might make here or there (usually when one’s own preferred faction is out of office, of course), this essential goodness remains inviolate, forever untainted by any genuine evil.

    And so bipartisan perpetrators of enormous evils – mass murder, aggressive war, torture, brutality, ruination, atrocity and injustice on a gargantuan scale – are not only never held accountable, they are celebrated, honored, and rewarded with great wealth and privilege. It is no wonder that dissatisfaction reigns in the body politic. The people sense that something is badly wrong; but no one in the system will tell them that it is the system itself that is wrong. Instead, we get these circuses and shams, these diversions and delusions that pass for election campaigns, throwing up a blizzard of false issues and partisan posturing, sound and fury signifying nothing … then when it’s all over, it’s back to business as usual for our bipartisan courtiers, feasting on the bloody swill of empire."  


    This is basically bullshit.  There are primaries.  Then there are general election.  Explain why there the ones who would change the system don't run given the current dynamics.  This bullshit about how the dems didn't go far enough left so the public instead voted for a government to go far right is enough to make one gag. 

    If the progressive/liberals want a governent that imposes a progressive/liberal egenda, then put the politicians out there and elect them.  Damn it.  No excuses. 

    Your post with it emphasis on United States of Amnesia proves my point against you and SJ.  We can't expect government to change if they know a 30 second commercial just before the election will mean the differenece between victory and defeat.  So you can put all your freakin energy into the power of the people but these are the same folks that overwhelmingly before BP spill that wanted an expansion of off shore drilling.  I'm pretty sure you weren't calling for that.

    Moreover this little diddy pretty much sums up why dealing with the left is so difficult:

    Mmm, maybe it’s not so heartening after all. Especially given the fact that both factions are – literally, legally, formally, undeniably – packs of war criminals, pledged to the continuation of a rapacious empire of military domination that is killing innocent people, fomenting hatred and extremism, and destabilizing the world.

    If one's starting point is that they are war criminals how can one move forward.  The wealthy elite have been destablizing portions of the world as far back as anyone can remember.  Look at the behavior of North Korea and one can see that it has nothing to do with Wall Street specifically.  It is power politics.  Maybe the whole world just needs to read Hamlet and then have a discourse.

    And regardless of the truth of that statement, the question for right here right now is to what extent does such a statement resonate with the American public.  To the extent that it doesn't is the extent that the left has FAILED.  And I would say they have failed miserably.

    Tut, tut, now; there's no need to throw a shoe.  Yes. I'm full of bullshit, you may be, too.  It's just that I like my bullshit infinitely better than yours.  What you always fail to realize is this: politics is not science, and the field is not static.  Any great idea at the right time can spread like wildfire, as in 'hundredth monkey' meme.  I'm counting on the folks I read and love to be the new Thomas Paines.  I think you would have told him he was full of bullshit, too, but it's just a guess.  ;o)

    Put on some dance music, and do some wild dancin' tonight, is my advice.

    I would have not told Paine he was full of bullshit.  I would have said someone who was saying that revolution was worthless because those who were not landed white men were not given power were being naive.  In this case, I think we can agree incrementalism in the long run proved the way to go in spite of the fact we all agree that women and those men who were not caucasion deserve the right to vote.

    the question for right here right now is to what extent does such a statement resonate with the American public.

    Oy! Here in a nutshell is the problem with the Dems and their messaging. It kinda goes like this:

    A.) The Republicans scream over and over that "Tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs, will reduce the deficit, and will prevent cavities when used in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care."

    B.) The Dems recognize that the public now believes "Tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs, will reduce the deficit, and will prevent cavities when used in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care" because that is what they have been told.

    C.) The Dems don't dare say anything to the contrary because the Repubs won't respond too kindly and because it ain't where the people are at and therefore won't "resonate" with them.

    In other words, leadership is defined by these cowardly asshats as meeting the public where they are at - even if "where they are at" is standing on the zipper line whilst a crazy-drunk driver bears down on them - rather than actually attempting to move them out of harm's way.

    Inspiring, indeed, this leadership you propose.

    No, i propose the radical idea that people rise above such superficial screams.  Only when we as a nation prove we will do this consistently will politicans respond to us.  We cannot, nor should we, wait for some individual to inspire us to do this.  This rising up should come from a fundamental grounding within our internal psyche.  That this is such a long shot leads folks such as yourself looking for a miracle elsewhere.  I hope your miracle occurs but I ain't bankin' on it.

    I cannot help but read these words as an indictment against democracy itself; that somehow the people are incapable of self-governance because they unreasonably await leadership to inspire them with a vision of ways to move forward.

    If I understand you correctly, for democracy to work there somehow needs to be an organic and universal revelation of what direction we need to go. Kind of like a national vulcan mind-meld. Only then do the leaders get involved, but this prompts a question: Doing what, exactly? Leading? Kind of late for that, mate, eh? Perhaps we need to rebrand these "leaders" as camp followers**, instead?

    No, what I actually read here instead is an apology for supposed leaders who are too timid (or too compromised) to step out in front and actually LEAD. Which does more to explain your willingness to forgive Obama/Rahm and the Dems for their incompetence than actually provide an answer to our current dilemma.

    **camp follower (n)

    (Military) any civilian, esp a prostitute, who unofficially provides services to military personnel


    It is not my position that the American electorate holds no responsibility for voting against their own interests. But I do hold our political leaders accountable for their failure to lead; for their continued willingness to be compromised by the very forces that would destroy this democracy.

    In 1936, this country stood at a precipice not unlike what we confront today.On the eve of his re-election campaign, FDR spoke in no uncertain terms in describing the reality we faced as a country:

    For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

    For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

    We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

    They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

    FDR then went on to explain what he saw as his rightful place as a leader charged with confronting such a threat to our democracy and to the people whom he was elected to represent:

    Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

    I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

    FDR then explained from whence he gets his power to be such an effective leader, capable of challenging the oppressors. (NOTE: It is here where he receives the loudest applause - even moreso than for his "...and I welcome their hatred!" line):

    The American people know from a four-year record that today there is only one entrance to the White House—by the front door. Since March 4, 1933, there has been only one pass-key to the White House. I have carried that key in my pocket. It is there tonight. So long as I am President, it will remain in my pocket.

    Those who used to have pass-keys are not happy. Some of them are desperate...

    Finally, he spits in the eye of the monied interests and their cynical manipulation of the voters, even as he challenges the voters to not be fooled by their efforts:

    ...Here is an amazing paradox! The very employers and politicians and publishers who talk most loudly of class antagonism and the destruction of the American system now undermine that system by this attempt to coerce the votes of the wage earners of this country. It is the 1936 version of the old threat to close down the factory or the office if a particular candidate does not win. It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them.

    You criticize us liberals because we do not "speak to the actual dynamics that are at play." On the contrary, I very much look to the present dynamics as the basis for my complaint against Obama/Rahm and the rest of the Palooka-Dems. I look to FDR's response to the similar crisis he confronted in his time and marvel at his leadership in the face of such formidable opponents. I look at the way in which he mobilized a whole country to rise up and throw off the shackles, the effects of which was an ascendancy of labor and the middle class that continued for decades to come. I look at this campaign speech offered in Madison Square Garden and I cannot help but think how such a fire-and-brimstone speech would resonate today among an electorate that is suffering at the hands of the monied elite.

    Now, you can make the argument that Obama just ain't the type of guy who could ever offer such a stem-winder. You might apologize for Obama that he is way too centrist or non-confrontational to ever embark on such a populist campaign. You might restrict your criticism of Obama and the Dems to an "unfortunate" failure to win the message wars, or even pretend that we are a "center-right country" or some other such nonsense that simply causes us to love us some corporate greed and dominance and subservience.

    But I challenge you to really listen to this speech and ask yourself what the effect would be on the electorate today given "the actual dynamics that are at play." Like me, you cannot help but dream that such a speech would at last be forthcoming, for it would most certainly spark a rising revolt in the populace against the very real forces that now oppress them.

    But guess what? It ain't never gonna happen. Not for so long as we suffer these Palooka-Dems as the standard bearers of the Dem Party. For you see, in order to make such a speech, you must be able to credibly claim that "today there is only one entrance to the White House—by the front door. Since (January 20, 2009), there has been only one pass-key to the White House." 

    Absent the ability to make any such credible claim, the Dems surrender the ability to craft a message that resonates with the electorate. And into that vacuum steps the very tyrants FDR spoke about, offered a wide berth to "delude their victims into fighting their battles for them." They cynically make the case that this government doesn't serve the people's interests and thus should be shrunk until it can be drowned in a bathtub. And given the reality of the dynamics at play, no one from the Palooka-Dems is in position to argue otherwise.


    "In my second administration, I'd like it said... that 'these forces have met their master.'"

    (Huzzah!  Huzzah!)  Wow.  Thanks, Jeezus.

    If you have to go back nearly 80 years to make your case about how politics can work then I think you've lost.  That is like someone in the 1950s using the 1870s as their model for how politics should work.  We live in the 21st century.  The only FDR we can hope for is on the level of Palin who manipulates the media.  God help us.

    If it is your position that a "proper politician" or political party is one that does not attempt to manipulate the media - especially in light of today's realities - then God help us, indeed!

    No.  We have two basic alternatives.  One: An electorate that is able to be manipulated by the media and therefore giving power to those who are able to finance the expensive media strategies of politicians. Two: an electorate that is engaged and seeks to inform itself through multiple information sources, and as such immune to marketing strategies pushed through the media.  I would posit that we are currently in the state of the first alternative.

    Basically you are saying the electorate are idiots and we need to better manipulate them than the other side manipulates them.  I on the other hand seek a time when the Palins lose not because they lose because we manipulated the public better but because we resonated with their internal understanding of what the best path forward is for the nation as a whole.  Call me a dreamer. 

    You're not the only one.



    Perhaps we are talking past one another on this point.

    Disinformation and outright lies and irresponsible fear-mongering are manipulations of a kind that are way too prevalent and which cheapen the discourse.

    My point, however, is that any political party had better have a pretty sophisticated media strategy to refine their message and get it out. And, yes, that includes manipulating the media to gain control of the news cycle to ensure they are talking about the points you wish to raise before the public.

    Whether or not this requires high-dollars is another issue. For the most part, a whole lot can be accomplished by making good use of the bully pulpit followed by a consistent follow-through from the rest of the party's "talking heads," something that has been woefully missing from the Dems. 

    First, however, you must have a credible message if you are going to do this in honorable fashion without relying upon lies, etc., Again, see FDR's speech from 1936 as an example of how this COULD work in confronting today's biggest problem, if only the Palooka-Dems could pull themselves away from their embrace of the oligarchs long enough to take a swipe or two at them instead.

    And I would ask if FDR was so great, why do we have the system do have today?  Could it be that he won some incremental wars but left the basic system of economic and political power intact?

    Now you're treading on blasphemy for the mere interest of not wishing to concede a point, something for which you should be ashamed.

    What FDR accomplished was greatly responsible for nearly 50 years of a resurgent labor and middle class that experienced benefit of the fruits of their labors in ways unprecedented in history. Some would argue that FDR in fact invented the middle class, and it's an argument that I wouldn't refute. What he accomplished was a massive shift in economic justice that allowed for the creation of Social security and social safety nets of all kinds, banking regulation and control, greatly improved labor laws. The list goes on, and his leadership was reflected in accomplishments this country undertook on behalf of the poor and the working class that were made long after he was dead and gone.

    As to your dismissive remarks about this being ancient history and therefore irrelevant, I challenge you again to listen to this speech that was offered and then DARE tell me how this speech would be perceived to be irrelevant  by the public if it were offered today. Except for a very few changes to remove specific date/time references and such, this speech would be boisterously welcomed today if offered by any leader who had the cojones - and the earned credibility! - to recite it today verbatim.

    You're going to have to do a whole lot better than this, trope, if you choose to remain effectively engaged in the discussion rather than simply discounting the New Deal as a flash-in-the-pan anecdote for purposes of maintaining your position in the argument.  

    What?  I should be burned at the stake for blasphemy for simply bringing up the concept that while FDR in process of achieving some successes over his three terms of 12 years that he didn't change the fundamental basis of our economy that can traced to both the disasters in 1929 and 2008? FDR had some great rhetoric but did he really shift the power in reality from the wealthy elites to the people in a way that it would be sustainable?

    Again, to dismiss The New Deal as "some great rhetoric" is a statement that could only be credibly made by an imbecile, and I know you're not stupid. So ask yourself "Why would I feel compelled to say such a thing in defense of my position in this discussion?"

    Oh, and one more thing: Don't ever underestimate the power of rhetoric to stir the electorate. I fear that is the major shortcoming of the Dems at present, as they consistently lose the messaging wars because they fail to stand tall as leaders offering a vision in opposition to the oppressors, but rather choose instead to slink around as compromised opportunists jockeying for some kind of "winning position" that will allow them to remain safely attached to the oligarchs' teat.

    I am afraid that far too many of the so called Left of the 1960s anti-war movement were only left politically because the precious little arses where at risk of being blown off. As soon as that was not the case anymore, they continued their lives of becoming lawyers and doctors and and engineers and stock brokers. Then voted for Reagan in mass because they thought Bedtime for Bonzo and Knute Rockne All American were really great flicks.

    So to expect any of the current Left (the children of these 1960s phony leftists) to understand what FDR did and why is more than a little optimistic.

    Rosoevelt did indeed leave "the basic system of economic and political power intact." What he left us with is a republic form of governance that is called the United States of America. And for this, we can be most thankful, for it is plausibly considered that we could have easily slipped into a wholly managed economy (Communism) or a fascist dictatorship given the dire straits were were in. To Roosevelt's credit, he pushed as hard against the repressively dominant oligarchs and properly knocked them on their asses without kiliing them off altogether.

    The political system is dynamic. It is always a matter of forces in opposition, and it can never achieve stasis or equilibrium between the forces on either side, if only because of the complexities that make up "liberal versus conservative" or "labor versus owners" or "economic libertarians versus socialists" or "upper class versus lower class" or any of the thousands of ways you can define the two sides.

    When FDR made the scene, the imbalance was extreme to the right (for want of a better term). He pretty well re-set the power spectrum leftwards and it took nearly a hundred years for the oligarchs to work their way back to the dominant state they find themselves in today. I'd dare say that was quite an adjustment. But looking around, I'd also say it's time we kick them in the ass once again, and we can look to FDR to see how such a thing is accomplished.

    (HINT: It begins by taking the backdoor pass key to the White House - and to Congress - away from the other guys.) 

    I agree Sleepin. Though I doubt that even FDR could accomplish NOW what he did then even if one could resurrect him. The current crop of Oligarchs simply will not allow it to happen. (Think JFK and RFK for starters.) And they sure as hell will make sure that it does not happen at the polls. What is needed is to take to the streets and stay there until we are listened too. But this will not happen until enough of those who still pull 6 figure salaries out out selling apples.

    I too often fear you are right, c, about the possible need for a revolution in the streets to at last gain leverage against the oligarchs. But it doesn't (didn't?) need to be this way.

    I grow angriest against Obama when I consider the opportunity cost of placing him as President these last couple years. Imagine if - on the heels of the financial crisis and the abuses of the Bush/Cheney era - we had gotten a real New Deal Dem in the White House who would have stood on the steps of the Capitol and told the owners "all bets are off!" Imagine what would have happened if our new Prez would have informed the oligarchs that we were at last throwing our hat in the ring to enjoin the Culture War that they have unilaterally inflicted upon us at least since the time of Reagan. Imagine how that crowd - gathered at the Capitol and in front of their TV sets - would have responded to the type of populist address Roosevelt offered in 1936.

    Instead, we got more of the same old Palooka-Dems, pulling their punches as the first order of business so as not to ruffle the feathers of their monied owners. (EXAMPLE: "We're going to do health care reform, but single payer and other possible REAL reforms aren't even available for discussion because the insurance industry and pHarma don't like those ideas.")

    And where to from here? It is tilting at windmills to consider a Primary challenge to Obama. I learned my lesson in Kennedy vs. Carter that the best you might be able to achieve is a pyrrhic victory. But can we afford another four years of this present political reality wherein we are offered a mere chance (and even THAT'S diminishing) to acquire all the progressive change that Wall Street and the bankers and the corporations will allow?

    Something's gotta' give. And as you suggest, it ultimately might not be very pretty at all. But Obama has shown an incapability of arresting the descent into the maelstrom by his failure to offer any substantial alternative to the present course that has been set for us by our owners. 

    This president you dream of would most likely have been shot.

    And your point is what, exactly?

    That we cower before the oligarchs and take what they give us because to do anything else carries with it a threat of violence from the oligarchs? Sounds like all the more reason to knock them on their ass before its too late. Otherwise, just how far do we go down that road before we finally decide we can't take anymore? And what do we do then?

    Your comment implies an affirmation of the power these gangsters would exert over us. But in so doing, you make an unbelievably counter-intuitive excuse to stand and do nothing about it.

    And you seem to be making a line in the sand where you can stand no more.  Is rising up with pitchforks and torches any better than someone shooting a President? 

    I'm just trying to figure out where you're going to go with this.

    It would seem to be you who has drawn the line in the sand.

    "Yes, it would be nice to take charge and fight in the political arena for justice against the oligarchs," you seem to say. "But it comes at risk that they might commit violence against us, and therefore we really don't want to step over that line."

    Fuck 'em, I say! I'm still in the fight.


    Give me a clear way and means of fighting the powers that be, and I'll fight. 

    I am afraid you have hit the nail on the head Lis.  Which is precisely why I contend that there will never be any really change by simply working through the system since the system is corrupt to it's very core. And why I also say that the only way to get the change we need and want to to quite literally put the fear of God into those at the top.

    Get out into the streets and stay there until someone listens, however long it takes.

    I of course meant "Class War" in the second paragraph.

    Okay, derision aside, I'll jump in here just to say this:  Jeezus, I have always admired your fire and your anger when it comes to Wall Street, et. al.  That being said, though, I have to remind you that half of our country is made up NOT of Dems, NOT of Liberals.  And that half has just as much right to speak out as we do.  And that half doesn't like Obama, doesn't like Dems, doesn't like Pelosi and doesn't like what they think is Socialism.

    You talk as if the entire country is made up of people like us on the left.  It isn't.  So if Obama were to only govern on our behalf, he'd be leaving the other half out of the picture. 


    And before you remind me that Bush didn't care a rat's ass about us on the left when HE was president, I'll say that I'd rather have a president who takes everyone into consideration.

    It really does not matter what the country is made up of politically if there are enough pissed off and desperate people. Nazi Germany and The Soviet Revolution proved that.

    Your point being....that we don't learn from the past?


    This is the only revolution I want at the moment, thanks.  Cool

    Or possibly this.

    "....The answer was not in the Pentagon, or even in the White House. I’m looking elsewhere. One place, here.” He tapped Gibbon. “There are odd similarities between the end of the Pax Romana and the end of the Pax Americana which inherited Pax Britannica. For instance, the prices paid for high office. When it became common to spend a million dollars to elect senators from moderately populous states, I think that should have been a warning to us. For instance, free pap for the masses. Bread and circuses. Roman spectacles and our spectaculars. Largesse from the conquering proconsuls and television giveaways from the successful lipstick king. To understand the present you must know the past, yet it is only part of the answer and I will never discover it all."

    Hell, I'm the first to admit I'm a goddammed fringe liberal socialist - especially as my country moves further and further to the right whacko side of things with the Dems hot on their heels.

    But guess what? I don't like Obama. I don't like Dems. And I damn sure don't like the caricature of socialism that is presented by the Republicans with no kind of defensive response from our "liberal" leaders.

    What I want instead is a second party in a two-party system of governance. What I want is to make of the Democratic Party a political force that stands in opposition to the other side in the marketplace of ideas from which the electorate decides the course that will be charted for the future of this country. And what I want more than anything is to make of the Dem Party an organization that can promote issues and principles without first checking with the oligarchs to make certain they meet with their approval.

    There were monarchists at large in the colonies during the Revolutionary War, too. I remain uncertain how the founders would have proceeded if they adopted your "bi-partisan" standard wherein they could only take actions that took everybody's political concerns into account. Sometimes, it's necessary to have faith in your principles and your beliefs and to surge forward, hoping that truth and justice will prevail while constantly assessing your own integrity. Time after time, we've seen in history that the greatest achievements were made when courageous and principled leaders stepped up and - despite the odds - courageously inspired others to pursue a course that led to a more perfect realization of justice and true liberty. Present times demand such a leader step forward, for the consequences of failing to move now are too dire to consider.

    Well, if you wanna run for President, you'll have my vote.


    Top Democratic Strategist James Carville says Obama's economic message is not working

    Democratic Strategist and CNN Contributor James Carville says President Barack Obama needs a new economic message.

    No kidding?

    Is Obama in collusion, to this scam by the banker class?


    A vote for either candidate tightens the noose?

    Obama is doing what politicians do, which is trying to survive.  I don't see the presidential race in the way you wrote of.  Rather, I view the choice as which of the candidates would I rather have making the sum total of all the decisions a president makes, and which of the candidates is the kind of mass mobilization and pressure that alone in my view can begin to break the grip today's money power has on our economy and our political system is more likely to yield some results.  In both respects, that choice is for me an obvious one.  For me, it's a matter of picking my poison, and one is far worse than the other.  I understand that others see it differently but am weary of these discussions and am not interested in participating in them at this point.  

    BTW, you might be interested, R, I just finished reading Halberstam's 1999 book The Children.  Highly recommended.  For who believe that the political elites at that time were fairly actively looking for their opportunity to do something on civil rights in the 1960s, Halberstam's recounting of the events from 1960-1965 suggests very much the contrary to me.  A small number of almost unbelievably courageous young people had to risk their lives and make great and very intelligent sacrifices to execute a brilliant strategy to make any of that happen.  And it still wouldn't have happened unless Jim Clark and Bull Connor and their ilk hadn't created openings by their cartoonish--if one wasn't on the receiving end of clubbings to the head by enraged police officers, that is--over-reactions.  

    I do not see any possibility of us as a society getting out of the noose--the increasingly dysfunctional economy and political system--without a major ramping up of creative, well thought-out and executed mass mobilization strategies.  The window for getting out continues to shrink.  There is simply a lack of anything that looks like a plausible, coherent economic plan that stands a decent chance of working, for starters, coming from the incumbent.  As Krugman puts it, there is a lack of intellectual clarity at the top leadership levels in our society--and this goes far beyond the WH in my estimation--about our current predicament.  

    I can and will continue to make the arguments with people I encounter that things would be far worse if one candidate wins the presidential rather than the other.  I will help Tim Kaine try to defeat the grotesque George Allen to prevent a lost Senate seat, and Kaine is someone I have a good opinion of, who I would have some hope would contemplate the kinds of federal action his retiring predecessor, Jim Webb, regrettably turned out to be unwilling to contempate, and that Virginia's other Democratic senator, Mark Warner, is showing no signs of contemplating.  

    But at some point arguments that amount to saying, look, there are no particular grounds to expect things to get much better any time soon given what is being said to this point, but the other guys are far worse are not exactly the kind that galvanize aggrieved and often by now cynical people to get out to the polls.  

    I do enjoy reading your reasoning on matters.

    I enjoy it when Carville tries to tell Obama, what many on the left have been saying for along time.

    Maybe Obama will listen to Carville, when he wouldn't listen to us common folks? 

    Listening to the link I provided the Sperling interview; it's the same excuse. "Obama inherited the crisis"

    That may be, but were not interested in excuses, What is your plan President Obama? More help to the banker class?

    The same banker class that's trying to stick the screws to the middle class? 

    I know its too late, but I believe we should have primaried Obama; to force all the candidates to address the problems we face.

    Now all the republicans have to say is LOOK and all Obama has is excuses.  He inherited a mess and under his administration the mess is still here. 

    The Great Plan, time heals all wounds unless the victim bleeds out?   Then we don't need a plan, the victim is dead. 

    Obama should have realized you don't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.  

    Detroit saved; amounts to tinkering when most Americans lost over 40% of their pre Obama worth.

    Obama can count on Detroits vote? But as for the rest of the nation, I'm not sure his base is excited by his performance to date.  

    Helping the homeowners was the key to both the middle class and the reelection of Obama.

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