Deader Horses, Bigger Sticks: Why I’m Joining the Suicidal Left

What—you wanted a post with that?

Nah. That would totally fuck with my multidimensional meta-meme.

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 09/28/10 at 02:44 PM • Permalink

Categories: PoliticsBedwettersManic Progressives

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Ah yes. The My Pretty Robert Smith is very popular with juvenille Emopantus Pouticus.

*shudder*

Who in the name of Daou would market something like that to kids?

Therapists, that’s who.

It’s hard to type posts when you haz a sad. Also when your wrists are bleeding—BECAUSE AXELROD AND BIDEN PULLED A TRAIN ON YOU AND THEN NEVER SENT FLOWERS OR CANDY!!!!!

@Strange:

So THAT’S where my fucking pony’s been all this time.  YOU STOLE IT!  The PUMAs were right: I’d have my pony now, if it weren’t for you rotten Rumpies.

My Little Goth Pony

It’s a Pony Daou.

Speaking of which His Daouishness is already taking a victory lap.

@Oblomova:

Cripes, first it was Strange this morning, and now you, er… now.  I’m going to owe my company a new keyboard.  Y’all are going to owe me new sinuses.

victory lap

With apologies to Arthur Dent, this is apparently some use of the word “victory” with which I was previously unfamiliar.

So, in that post, Daou is basically admitting that it’s all about the attention bloggers get from the administration, and less about advancing a cause.

Read as much of Daou’s piece as I could stomach, which wasn’t much, and this line leaped out at me:

The essence of their critique is that the White House lacks a moral compass.

Which I think is not untrue, and is a damning indictment of those critics.  The thing about the “lacks a moral compass” line of attack is that it can be based entirely on theoretical considerations, and absolves the critic of any responsibility for grounding criticism in practical realities.  Obama isn’t History’s Greatest Monster based on the practical results of his policies; he’s History’s Greatest Monster based on a wholly theoretical (‘moral’) critique by people who have never had any responsibility for actually governing.

Which is not to say that all of their criticisms are invalid.  The point is that valid or not, all of them are made without any reference to what is genuinely possible.

The essence of their critique is that the White House lacks a moral compass ^that points due MY FEE-FEES.

Fxd.

@lowkey

Okay, Strange.  What am I supposed to do/say about Obama’s despotic move to keep their fucked-up assassination program secret?

How can I square the fact that I think the administration is making morally repugnant choices with the idea that they’re supposed to be on my side?

What do you do when your leader is making decisions that you consider the purview of dictators and tyrants?

Because I know you guys just want me to clap louder, but I feel sick to my stomach.  Not because my feelings are hurt, but because these are the decisions and policies of the worst governments the world has seen.

So do I hold my fire until they get more Dems elected that do/say nothing to improve the situation?  Or do I pray to the unicorn sparkle pony gods that they suddenly wake up and change everything? 

Seriously.  I’m not feeling less-than-enthused because of my feelings.  I’m freaking livid that Obama would let this fascistic creep occur on his watch.

@t4toby—Righteous indignation is a wonderful thing. But since the overarching theme on many blogs seems to be that Obama and the Democrats are no less vile than the Republicans, my plan is to vote for the Very Vile People who are least pretending they don’t want to stab me in the eyes.

If I thought I had a better shot of restoring decency and Liberal values with a Congress run by Tea Party candidates, I’d get up early every day to help dampen Dem turnout. As it is, I’m pretty sure that we’re even more screwed under that scenario than we are now. My ideals have been unfulfilled for 50 years, they can wait another 30 days.

Or anyone else? I’m seriously in a quandary over hating the right but also hating a lot of what this administration is doing.

He can’t blame the state secrets shenanigans on the Republican opposition.  That is all by Presidential Order.

I know it’s funny to make fun of the emo kids, but can anyone explain how we stop going down this civil rights-eating wormhole?

Okay Strange, I have been seeing your point, but at some point we’re going to have to go after this administration Big Time for moving to the Right of Cheney on any of a number of issues relating to Presidential Power, Civil rights, and State Secrets.

To me it is simply unacceptable.

One problem I have with the Dems is that they act like they are progressive but only pay lip service to progressive ideals whilst serving the same corporate paymasters as the Rethuglicans.

Isn’t it better to be the opposition than to be on the winning team being led down a rosy path to fascism?

... we’re going to have to go after this administration Big Time for moving to the Right of Cheney

Cheney and co. and administrations since time immemorial have done shit like what’s being proposed as a matter of course, and gotten away with it. They haven’t asked anyone’s permission to do it, they haven’t worried about the legality, they haven’t asked anyone’s permission to keep it secret, they’ve just done it, and very occasionally some scapegoat’s come a cropper.

Is it a baby step that you’re even aware of this going on and there’s an attempt to give it a legal gloss? Yeah. Are you allowed to be outraged? Hell, yeah.

Isn’t it better to be the opposition than to be on the winning team being led down a rosy path to fascism?

Yes, if you’re Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. ;->

But seriously—I’d rather fight Obama and Harry Reid than Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, wouldn’t you?

Right, YAFB, but I was screaming about BushCo’s transgressions in 2003 and I’m screaming about Obama’s now. We knew very well what Cheney was up to, and were dismissed as Unserious Hippies then.

The whole ‘hippie punching thing’ is insulting because it isn’t because they haven’t done enough, it’s that they’ve already done too much.

Do you think any president is going to willingly give up the power to disappear and assassinate anyone they so choose?  It is human nature to hold onto any and all power one has. And what if they rig the elections and just appoint Palin?  Someone put Donkey Kong on a voting machine without tripping any of it’s security protocols for Jumpin’ Jeebus’ sake!

Tell you what - I’ll shut my trap until the election if y’all will recognize the magnitude of what is going on within this administration after the 2nd. Obama puts a ‘liberal’ face on some downright dictatorial policies and THAT’S what frightens me.

Hey t4toby, as a practical suggestion, if you aren’t already a member of the ACLU, consider joining. And toss them a few bucks if you can spare it.

I think the point has been made repeatedly that we don’t all agree with everything Obama does or simply demand that people clap harder. I think our organizing principle is that it would be insane to enable the teatards.

Lesser of two evils choice? Yes. And it has always been thus.

But seriously—I’d rather fight Obama and Harry Reid than Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, wouldn’t you?

Of course, but when are you going to start fighting?

Isn’t it better to be the opposition than to be on the winning team being led down a rosy path to fascism?

I would rather be walked there than frog-marched.

But that’s accepting your question as legitimate instead of a false choice. There is no administration, Dem or Republican, that hasn’t got shamefully dark deeds associated with it, but the Republican ones have been a whole lot worse. And if you want to test your theory that the Obama administration is to the right of Cheney by putting Cheney’s people in again, you’ll get no pat on the back for your high-mindedness from the future victims.

By the way, I just spent ten months working full-time for the Census, as part of the stimulus package that supposedly did nothing. It was a life-saver, and now I am on unemployment until I can find something else. Until the new Tea-licious Congress cuts off my, and thousands of other people’s, benefits. But at least a message will have been sent to Obama! Yay Firebaggers!

Greenwalds utterly duplicitous lying about the “assassination” case is characteristic for these morons. They keep a constant stream of accusations going on the theory that some of it will stick.

Lesser of two evils choice?

Well, “least of three” if you count sitting out the process entirely and drinking all day at the Anarchist’s Club…which seems to be another popular theme.

Geez, how emo can you get?

If it’s causing you such pain, t4toby, why don’t you just give yourself special dispensation to leave the party? Why do you care if you or anyone else is mocked? It’s your goddamn decision.

Greenwalds utterly duplicitous lying about the “assassination” case is characteristic for these morons.

It’s certainly not helping thrash the whole thing out when you have to hack through the omissions and misrepresentations to even get started (which, thankfully, a few folks did on Balloon Juice the other night, so I understand a bit more about it now than I did before).

Oh, and let’s not forget, Daou and Greenwald et al. just want to help the Dems win.

Fuckwits.

As I stated in that interminable original hippie-punching thread, I’d have an easier time with the outrage over the Anwar Al-Awaki situation if it had been accompanied by some recognition by leftie bloggers that, as a practical matter, wholesale torture and warrantless murder of American citizens is a feature, not a bug, of law enforcement in many parts of our nation as it is.

What to do about it? Renounce your citizenship in a hyper-nationalistic and imperialist country founded on genocide and slavery that has never been particularly concerned about applying the protections of the rule of law to vast swaths of its own putative citizens, let alone those who have tossed in their lot with actual terrorist organizations, I guess.

I don’t doubt your rage and despair, Toby. I just point out being an American is a status bought with the blood of others, from the land we occupy, the sweat-shop clothes and goods we buy, the food gathered at sub-poverty wages. You didn’t ask to be born here—neither did I. If this development is a bridge too far, then I guess you could start organizing with the Greens or another third party, as long as you recognize that that is going to be a very hard long slog.

Me, I’ve come to the conclusion that life is about “lesser evils” long ago. Most First World nations have many sins to answer for. The U.S. is worse than some, better than some. Never exceptional.

Comment by Oblomova on 09/28/10 at 04:52 PM

And yes—ACLU, Amnesty International, Women for Women International, International Rescue Committee—there are a number of organizations working for human rights around the globe that could use a few bucks.

I just point out being an American is a status bought with the blood of others

Try being British for a while. Or French. Or ...

Anyway, Toby, it’s election time, so now’s your golden opportunity. These people want your votes. Tackle them about it. Never mind the party label. See how you get on. If none of them give you an answer you’re happy with or find credible, then what comes after that’s up to you. But at least you’ll have done something.

OK, so maybe posting a hilarious pony picture wasn’t exactly the tension-breaker I imagined.

@Paula - Not helpful.  Are you so cynical that we cannot even discuss these issues? I’m asking these questions because over the last three years I have come to trust and respect the writers here for their perspective.  If I wanted to be flamed I would go to other larger well-known sites.

@rootless_e - can you point me to “Greenwald’s duplicitous lying”? just a link, maybe a block quote? I’ve been reading him since 2005 (maybe?)  He has always been a straight shooter who backs up his articles with facts and links.

@Obamalova - I know.  On my better days I’m the one telling my friends that, but since the predator strikes on day One of the Obama administration I have been in a surly mood relative to our prospects for a WWWIII-free future.

OK, so maybe posting a hilarious pony picture wasn’t exactly the tension-breaker I imagined.

I still think it’s hideous.

Where did you get it? Etsy?

Brit, I Googled “dead my little pony.” It looked kinda dead, even though I think it’s supposed to be The Joker.

I should have gone straight for “dead horse,” but duh.

BTW - Robert Smith Pony did make me stop being poutraged for 13.6 second.  For that I thank you.

Brit, I Googled “dead my little pony.”

Man, that search comes up with some weird shit (including Paris Hilton?!).

You could have gone with the vid.

Well, I think all these hippie puncher posts are hilarious.

@t4toby: What does my comment have to do with being cynical? All I mean is that you’re a fucking independent voting adult, you don’t need approval from the proprietors of this or any blog.

Why is this a favorite accusation among the blog-left?

For that I thank you.

Doing the best I can, toby…but I should have bought more carbon rods for this reactor.

Obamalova

toby, did you mean to do that? Because you know, if she’s riled, “hippie punching” won’t begin to describe it.

toby—In your shoes, I think you could do worse than read this Balloon Juice Thread, not just because it offers some alternative perspectives and some information that you may not have got from Greenwald, but because it might make you realize you’re decidedly not alone in your feelings.

Try being British for a while. Or French. Or ...

I believe King Leopold of Belgium has some ‘splaining to do to the people of the Congo as well. At least, the ones he didn’t slaughter.

@Paula: it’s just a thing we do for him. We feng-shuied his apartment, too.

Why is this a favorite accusation among the blog-left?

Is that a straw man? You Lefties are full of those. ;->

Paula, I guess I’ll just agree to disagree with you on this one.  I don’t need acceptance, I was looking for advice from a group of people who have proven to be a fairly reasonable bunch.  I am fully aware of what my options are and that’s why I am seeking proven council.

Oblomova - sorry, I typed that in haste.

YAFB - I had already searched it out from the hint in the comment above.

Thanks, Rumpsters.

Not sure we helped, toby, but you’re very welcome.

For the record, the “assassination” order is actually a “capture or kill” order, with the emphasis on the former. In that regard, it’s not that much different than a civilian effort to capture a dangerous individual. Also, it appears that the armed forces are only authorized to make a move in the event that al-Awlaki takes action against the United States.

So, it’s not quite the “Obama is having a guy whacked” narrative that Greenwald has been pitching. I suppose you can argue that everyone is lying - it’s a valid argument. However, in light of the fact that this was announced months ago and al-Awlaki is still alive…

Comment by D Johnston on 09/28/10 at 05:30 PM

I took it as an honest typo. This time. ;)

Toby, I do take your concerns about this issue honestly—it doesn’t sit well with me either (though I am less likely to think, as some do, that this means “OMG THEY WILL START KILLING EVERYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH THEM!!!!”) But the precedent is troubling. I know intellectually that most presidents tend to build upon the executive privileges of the previous administration, I recognize that Obama would be held to a “soft on terrorism” standard by virtue of race and alleged Mooslimness that Bush would never face, but it’s still a bad move.

However—as I said, there are a whole lot of leftie bloggers who never raise a peep about human rights abuses of people of color in this country who suddenly and conveniently remembered that they are ALL ABOUT THE HUMAN RIGHTS when it comes time to find a stick to beat Obama. That’s what I find questionable. To be clear, I don’t lump you with that group as a matter of course, because I simply don’t know you as somebody who is trying to get face time on Faux News as the Useful Leftie Idiot Who Is Willing to Trash Obama for Self-Promotional Purposes.

I took it as an honest typo. This time. ;)

We all appreciate your forbearance, obamafuckahsycophant.

You’re welcome—StrangeAxelTaintLicker.

You two are so sweet together. I wish I had my Kodak.

For the record, the “assassination” order is actually a “capture or kill” order, with the emphasis on the former. ...

Thanks for the shorter takeaway from that Balloon Juice thread, Mr. Johnston (not that I’m suggesting that’s where you got it).

Would that Mr. Daou in the midst of all his pontificating had been honest enough to point any of this out and argue the case on its actual merits.

But that would have required a moral compass.

StrangeAxelTaintLicker

That’s StrangeAxelT8ntLicker, if you don’t mind.

And…scene!

Group hug?

Change is not a spectator sport.

Barack Obama, Madison, WI 9/28/10

t4toby: Okay, Strange.  What am I supposed to do/say about Obama’s despotic move to keep their fucked-up assassination program secret?

The program itself isn’t secret. Its called the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists - Public Law 107-40, 115 United States Statutes at Large 224. Enacted by Congress Sept 18 2001. Its not a secret program, its US public law. The only thing secret about it is some of the intelligence gathered and used in the pursuit of persons designated terrorists.

BTW: This guy al-Awlaki issued several fatwa’s (execution orders) for several journalists and cartoonists back in July (because they hurt Mohammeds fee-fees). And he’s said over and over that he considers all Americans (not just military personnel) legitimate targets. Maybe Glenn Greenwald should write al-Awlaki a sternly worded letter imploring him to cease misbehaving or report to court on Monday morning for a hearing or face a possible fine.

*

I don’t know, Twinky. This could be one of those things that requires a Brach’s Assortment Box and good seats for “Phantom.”

Get a room!

Glenn Greenwald was someone who I read a great deal during the Bush years, because he channeled my rage about Bush activities in a way I couldn’t articulate.

That said, I think he lacks a sense of proportion or scale.  According to Greenwald, a civil rights violation is a civil rights violation, even if that person has issued veiled threats against the US.  In other words more or less what D. Johnston was saying.

I’ll put it like this. A few weeks ago I witnessed the hostage situation at the Discovery building in Silver Spring. At about 3 hours in, one of the policeman shot the hostage taker. No one around me said that it was a shame that they couldn’t put him on trial first, or that his civil rights had been violated.

It’s hard for me to read comments to the effect that Obama is to the right of Darth Cheney. First of all, I don’t think it’s possible to be to the right of Dick Cheney. 

Let’s look at an actual example. Cheney leaked classified information to Judith Miller about the alleged centrifuge tubes. Then, he commented on the NYT story that resulted from that (illegal) leak on Meet the Press. This was all to justify (illegally) invading a country, and deposing its leader.

So, it may be true that both of these cases involve extra-constitutional issues. The scale of the two events is incommensurate.

@the farmer—Thanks for that.

I may have a weird perspective on things because I listen to Conservative Talk Radio constantly: Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Quinn & Rose, Michael Savage, Jerry Doyle and Bill Cunningham, plus a few weekend strays. I’m firmly convinced that people who don’t listen to those disembodied voices (and their callers) daily, alone, exclusively and even in the dark when they’re falling asleep don’t really understand what Genuine Evil is. These are tireless propagandists who would happily blame Obama for not already having killed al-Awlaki, if it weren’t so awfully convenient for them to frame what’s going on as an Obama power-grab that’s really intended to give him a legal justification for killing Tea Party members in their homes.

That’s why, for good or ill, I find idealistic posturing by the Left a tad self-indulgent at this particular moment, and it saddens me that so many people seem to be more interested in validating their own innate decency/sense of self-importance than they are in defeating a good-sized chunk of America that thinks we want to reanimate Stalin and Mao and move them into the White House.

That said, I think he lacks a sense of proportion or scale.  According to Greenwald, a civil rights violation is a civil rights violation, even if that person has issued veiled threats against the US.  In other words more or less what D. Johnston was saying.

I agree with you.  I was reviewing a few of his more recent pieces on the subject and in this article he tries to make the point that numerous Americans have been “targeted for assassination” based on quotes from security adviser John Brennan.  In fact what Brennan says is that if these individuals who are living abroad “are trying to carry out attacks against U.S. interests, they also will face the full brunt of a U.S. response.”  In other words the exact same position of the police response to the hostage taker in Silver Spring.

There was nothing that Brennan said that indicated drones would be sent out to take these guys out unprovoked.

I think Greenwald is going beyond lacking a sense of proportion - I think he’s being outright dishonest.

I find idealistic posturing by the Left a tad self-indulgent at this particular moment,

Exactly! My friends who are still kicking today because of some of the stuff (HCR, credit cards) that managed to pass are furious that lefties want to “teach the dems a lesson” by letting the crazies run the asylum. While the poseurs, who can probably handle a couple more years of deep recession, stand on their “principles,” the same old crowd who’ll find even baby steps a relief pays the price yet again.

That said, I think he lacks a sense of proportion or scale.

Yep. And…too many notes.

Thanks for the shorter takeaway from that Balloon Juice thread,

I love the back and forth there; at least when people make assertions, they still have to back them up with links and shit. I’ve learned so much just in the comments alone, plus great comebacks for the same old arguments. Besides here, the only comment section worth perusing, really, outside of home base, which is more of an ongoing open thread amongst pals than anything else.

This could be one of those things that requires a Brach’s Assortment Box and good seats for “Phantom.”

I get the dark chocolate almond clusters, and it’s a deal!

I love the back and forth there

That’s why I directed toby there rather than a dry link that might have been more bare and factual (and certainly rather than trying to precis myself - thanks, the farmer, you’re a gem).

Reading and having the narrative unfold from John’s own attitude, the email he received, various people chipping in emotively, then someone giving hard information, then a rebuttal, more back and forth - it helped me clarify not just what was going on, but how I felt about it.

It’s also not insignificant that we’ve lived with terrorism in the UK for years - some of it sponsored by people in the US, coincidentally - which gives one a view of it all that’s much less black and white.

OMFG! Maddow just mentioned hippie punching! You know what this means, don’t you?? Yeah, me neither.

it helped me clarify not just what was going on, but how I felt about it.

So true. Every time I think, “but what about…” someone comes in to say why you’re barking up the wrong tree or “hey, I wanna know, too.” Lots of competitive smarty-pants there so ya know someone will look things up. Comforting, somehow.

thanks, the farmer, you’re a gem

Seconded!

@rootless_e - can you point me to “Greenwald’s duplicitous lying”? just a link, maybe a block quote? I’ve been reading him since 2005 (maybe?)  He has always been a straight shooter who backs up his articles with facts and links

 

But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”:  in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/index.html

Then go look up the government argument, the ACLU has it on line. The government is perfectly happy to explain why they may want to kill Al Alwaki and they have a damn good reason. The “state secrets” are the operational rules for military and intelligence as they decide in specific instances whether to e.g. order a sniper to fire. They claim that if the court decided the case on merits, it would be forced to examine the detailed orders of sniper teams and drone pilots etc. So fuck Glenn and his lying lies.

Comment by rootless_e on 09/28/10 at 10:01 PM

@strange:

These are tireless propagandists who would happily blame Obama for not already having killed al-Awlaki, if it weren’t so awfully convenient for them to frame what’s going on as an Obama power-grab that’s really intended to give him a legal justification for killing Tea Party members in their homes.

What’s also maddening about all this kind of thing is that just a couple of years ago it was the same left blogosphere that was constantly pointing out that the Bush admin should be pursuing the real culprits responsible for 9/11 and terrorism instead of waging the war in Iraq. Now that Obama has shifted the effort back to pursuing those AQ terrorists the left is screaming about an “Obama power-grab that’s really intended to give him a legal justification for killing”... American citizens!

And you’d think someone like Glenn Greenwald would be a little more mindful of how dangerous some of these right wing religious fanatics and their followers can be after representing the Neo-Nazi White Supremacist Matt Hale. That maybe not every lunatic who threatens an act of terrorism is just execising their free speech rights.

White Supremacist Is Held in Ordering Judge’s Death, January 9, 2003 (NYTimes)

Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer for Mr. Hale, said the charges filed today might stem from a misinterpretation of a statement by his client on the Internet that “we are in a state of war with Judge Lefkow.”

“They are probably trying to take things he said along the lines of political advocacy and turn it into a crime,” Mr. Greenwald said. “The F.B.I. may have interpreted this protected speech as a threat against a federal judge, but it’s probably nothing more than some heated rhetoric.”

Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, would not provide details about Mr. Hale’s case, including whom he had solicited for the murder, whether money was involved, how officials discovered the plot or whether Judge Lefkow was in danger.

Hale received a 40 year sentence for trying to hire an FBI informant to assassinate Judge Joan Lefkow. Lefkow’s husband and mother were later murdered but there was no connections to Hale in that case (although Hale and followers were initially suspected because of Hale’s earlier threat).

A little more background here (So. Poverty Law Center):

A federal judge has postponed until April the murder solicitation trial of Matt Hale, the leader of the neo-Nazi group long known as the World Church of the Creator. The judge also approved several new charges against Hale.

Hale, 32, was to have been tried Nov. 3 for allegedly asking his chief of security, Tony Evola, to kill U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow. Lefkow was presiding over a civil copyright trial in which Hale’s group lost the right to use its name because an unrelated church had copyrighted it years before.

The copyright attorney in that case was Greenwald.

Damn, none of this is very snarkin’ funny is it.

*

Comment by the farmer on 09/28/10 at 11:22 PM

Judge Lefkow’s house wasn’t too far away from where I used to live in Chicago. All her neighbors had signs up supporting her after that horrible, horrible tragedy.

Damn, none of this is very snarkin’ funny is it.

Well, he’s not a patch on Orly Taitz, if that’s what you mean.

It’s cute, but the LaRouchie My Little Pony With a Hitler Mustache is even cuter.

Here’s how to handle the left’s “whining”

Roughly speaking, there are three different strains of argument or sentiment on the left right now. The first is the Dem base’s lack of enthusiasm. This, obviously, concerns rank and file voters who, from the point of view of the White House, are not sufficiently happy with Obama’s performance. This is what Biden was referring to when he urged Dems to “remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives.”

The second group on the left constitutes high-profile commentators, such as Rachel Maddow and Glenn Greenwald, who are mounting a detailed, substantive policy critique of the Obama administration on issues that are important to them. These folks see their role as advocates for a particular policy agenda, and they don’t hesitate to whack the White House when it commits what they see as grave policy missteps. For them to hold their fire because the White House wants them to would be an unthinkable betrayal of the role they’ve carved out for themselves. This is the “professional left” Robert Gibbs sneeringly alluded to—even though Obama himself has said he craves such criticism.

The third group constitutes operatives like Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, some labor operatives, and groups like MoveOn. These folks are making a largely political argument. They are not merely griping because the White House failed to be as left wing as they would have liked on the public option or the big banks. They are making the case that fighting harder for liberal priorities—even if that battle is hopeless in some cases—is better politics for Democrats overall, because it might leave Dems with an energized base heading into the midterms.

If the Dem base is unenthusiastic, give Dems something to get excited about, or effectively tell them why they should be excited. If you disagree with Maddow or Greenwald on what’s possible in terms of policy, or if you disagree with the Adam Greens of the world on politics, explain why they’re wrong, rather than spewing epithets in all directions. Above all, don’t vaguely question the right of these various parties to make those arguments. This is, after all, democracy, and as Obama himself has repeatedly said, democracy is a messy business.

That’s some decent piece of advice if you ask me.

Comment by roshan on 09/29/10 at 02:57 AM

OK, roshan, I asked this the other day in the Rumper Room out of curiosity, but it might be worth exploring out here as well (I presume you at some point have canvassed, phonebanked or otherwise worked for a political campaign, even if you don’t at the moment). Greenwald we’ve addressed briefly above. Your advice might be more persuasive if, for instance, Hamsher’s main focus right now didn’t seem to be picking a pointless fight relitigating the HCR battle with John Cole.

Some of you folks canvass and phonebank (and so are part of the activist base). If you talk to others doing the same, do these names [I was talking about bloggers like Greenwald, Hamsher etc. that Daou claimed were “bringing Obama down”] ever come up? If you mentioned them to anyone whose vote or donation you were soliciting, would they know who they are, or more importantly perhaps, what their big issue of the day or week was?

Well, since we on the left wish to remain true to our passion and cause, I really don’t understand why the WH keeps picking on the bloggers who question their policies and some of their legislative achievements. Is there a way to placate these so called angry lefty bloggers? ...maybe. Though I don’t think it’s necessary. But picking on them is hardly a way to bus them and their supporters to vote. I think the Obama administration needs a back channel to talk to these folks which is obscured from the media. The way these interactions are framed in the media does give a (false) sense of tension between the WH and it’s base. The WH needs to talk less about it’s differences with the base and more about what needs to be done.

On the other hand, a lot of the criticism of the administration is about the civil liberties issues. I don’t consider it a small matter that can be buried away to look at a later date. If I recall correctly from the Bush years of ‘01 to ‘08, the prominent bloggers on the left reached that position by being virulent critics of his torture/warrant-less-wiretap/rendition/illegal war making policies. By electing a democratic president it doesn’t seem like anything has changed in that area. Constantly being asked to shut up about these complaints is most likely leaving some supporters less enthused. Waiting 8 yrs to overturn the Bush era misdeeds in this area is long enough, I don’t think anyone is in the mood to wait any longer.

As for Hamsher, I think we need to quit picking on her and calling her names. Cole was just answering some of her allegations about his “duplicity” and has most likely given up on providing any further explanations for it. Which is probably the right way to go. Hamsher does have some name recognition among the base but I don’t think her agenda has any priority with anyone on the left (excluding folks who frequent her blog). I did donate money to some of her causes but that was in ‘08 when she probably hated Norquist.

I think my point in asking my question above (and it’s a genuine question that I’d love to hear some responses to, because the Rumper Room replies were interesting) is how much the blogosphere (and Sargent in your quote brought up those examples, such as Hamsher, not me - check out the replies there, where the inclusion of a few of them is questioned) actually reflects the priorities of the activist base (that is, those who are involved in GOTV) and those they’re in contact with.

Are they civil liberties? Is it more to do with the economy? Or what?

I take your point about the back channel route, but we saw the other day (over the course of 294 comments!) that this process is already going on, but is porous, and disagreements are likely to be aired in the wider media anyway.

See, your argument seems confused to me. You cite an article saying that people like Hamsher need to be engaged and that you think that’s good advice, then you contradict that in your next comment. Which is it?

Is it confusing? Maybe. While the WH does need to engage it’s critics on the left based on merits, there is no need to direct harsh words at them or just combine them as one and dismiss them altogether. Also, when engagement fails don’t air the differences in public.

As for the priorities that the activist base shares with the blogosphere, the economy is obviously the number one among others, but I do get a sense that civil liberties is up there as well. Of course there are no polls to prove that (the civil liberties part) and most likely there aren’t going to be any.

Yeah, I wasn’t asking for polls, but direct experiences.

I also meant to distinguish the activist base (those who stay actively involved between elections and do GOTV) and the base (those who could be expected to reliably vote Dem, all things being equal).

Also, when engagement fails don’t air the differences in public.

I think that’s where “back atcha” comes in (not back at you, roshan, BTW!). Give some people access, and see what happens.

Well, I want an answer to YAFB’s question, too.

I live in a universe where “illegals are taking our jobs” and Obamacare is going to bankrupt us all and Obama wants to destroy the entire private sector. And this is among a family of immigrants living in Southern California. So I do wonder where these blogospherians find people who are apparently very disgruntled that health care wasn’t the PO or that Obama’s continuing/worsening Bush’s civil liberties atrocities.

While I don’t have direct experiences to report on, there is this Balloon-Juice thread that gives some idea of what folks think about Obama’s civil liberties record.

Comment by roshan on 09/29/10 at 12:19 PM

roshan, that’s not people being called on a district roster, that’s the same 50 or so blog junkies who make the rounds of the progressive interwebs constantly debating this issue. Their opinions matter, but not relative to a larger population who might have varying degrees of awareness/feeling about the issue.

Sorry.

My bad. I got nothing then.

Roshan, I’m no way trying to belittle your own opinions, nor pooh-pooh concerns for civil liberties or a whole range of legitimate issues.

What I’m getting at (maybe clumsily) is that I have a theory that some in the blogosphere (and I speak as a blogger) claim to represent a constituency far wider than they do, and perhaps far more “left-wing” than they do, then get very vocally upset when the administration isn’t responding to their and their readers’ concerns when there’s a far wider constituency that never reads blogs, maybe doesn’t even have access to a computer, and may have a different outlook. And I feel that’s a distraction from the current election and any meaningful or helpful (to the issues, let alone the administration) role the “netroots” can play in it.

Their votes count too, and since I have a feeling they’re the vast majority, perhaps more so.

That’s who the administration needs to be addressing and responding to most pressingly.

It’s a theory. That’s why I’m asking for evidence for or or against it.

That doesn’t mean these other issues are or are not valid, important etc. But in order for them to impact on the administration and government policy, they need to be sold to the populace at large. And I don’t know whether that’s something that can be achieved online, certainly not solely online.

I really would like to hear from more people on that, and thanks to you and Paula for responding.

I dropped this link to a New Yorker piece this week by Malcolm Gladwell in the Rumper Room earlier, but it’s pretty terrific at limning the differences between social networks (and I would include bloggers as part of that world to a great extent) and actual activism.

In one of the “Let’s Revisit HCR” debates at Cole’s place, someone (and I can’t remember who, lo siento) mentioned that if single-payer advocates REALLY wanted to make progress, they would take a page from what Canada did—their healthcare system changed slowly, over 30 years, and it started with a program in Saskatchewan, (I believe Kiefer Sutherland’s grandfather was the provincial premier who led the charge), not a nationwide initiative. In other words, they need to get their boots on the ground and start getting statewide ballot initiatives on single-payer.

California did that in the 90s and it only won 25% of the vote or something (I was there, but I can’t remember the exact numbers), so it’s not an instant-victory thing. What it CAN do is build the awareness that this is something that can happen, it can keep the momentum and the conversation going (much as fighting state-by-state on gay marriage has done. I at least am convinced that by forcing the bigots to make their stands clear and by constantly showcasing gay couples who are fighting for the SAME rights as straights, not “special rights,” that the gay-marriage-as-driver-for-conservative-agenda has lost steam. By simply keeping the need for a public option or single-payer upfront, it makes the issue less frightening for people who make the “single payer equals socialism” argument.

The catch is that it takes actual shoe-leather face-to-face work to get signatures for putting those initiatives on the ballot—and I don’t see a lot of online activists translating into community organizers. Online donations are great, petitions have some utility, but none of it makes up for building what Gladwell calls the “strong ties” that make it possible for people to take actual risks.

And shit, I’m not even talking about an actual risk like “integrate a lunch counter while the Klan spits on you” or worse. I’m talking about “put on pants and talk to real live humans on the street.”

Comment by Oblomova on 09/29/10 at 01:16 PM

They are making the case that fighting harder for liberal priorities—even if that battle is hopeless in some cases—is better politics for Democrats overall, because it might leave Dems with an energized base heading into the midterms.

In other words—I don’t see these people “fighting harder.” I see them “griping louder online.” NOT the same fucking thing by a long shot. So I can absolutely understand why people like Axelrod who have put in a lot of time and a lot of skin in the game (for which he has been well compensated, no doubt—but then again, so has Hamsher and she’s accomplished nothing except the re-election of Joe Lieberman) being a bit mystified about why they are required to kiss the rings of people who don’t actually seem that interested in doing the real work.

This headline does give a different vibe.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Police officials estimated 26,500 people attended the President’s Address on the UW campus.

That number greatly exceed the 18,000 that were estimated to have attended then-candidate Obama’s 2008 campaign event.  Attendees waited in a line over one mile long to listen the president speak, and as the video to the left shows they hardly appeared discouraged.

Comment by roshan on 09/29/10 at 02:06 PM

Another long, but good, analysis of liberal disenchantment with Obama, comparing him to Lincoln, FDR, and LBJ.

Comment by Oblomova on 09/29/10 at 03:11 PM

But…but…Rush said Obama was having trouble getting anyone to attend.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Police officials estimated 26,500 people attended the President’s Address on the UW campus.

The numbers game’s kinda stupid, but in my experience, if that’s the police estimate, then ...

@ Oblomova—fantastic article. Bookmarked for future “what she said” use…

Holeee shite, is that from the same Dissent magazine that also used to host stuff by Paul Street. Is the writer going to have to give up his “radical” membership card now?

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