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At Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, co-editor of Dissent Michael Walzer writes Missing the Movement:

This is an incrementalist time, and the crucial thing is to get the increments right. The economic crisis and the two wars that Obama inherited make this difficult for our embattled president–and the fierceness of the opposition, which I don’t think he expected, makes things even harder. Obama certainly believed everything he said about reconciliation; he thought that he could at least take the edge off the bitter partisanship of Washington politics. Obviously he hasn’t been able to do that, and now every step forward, including the small steps, will require a bloody fight. Meanwhile, the costs of the stimulus and of the wars leave the President very little money for social experiments. He has to move forward with health care and the environment and education even if he can only move slowly, much more slowly than he hoped. This is one form of incrementalism, and what is important is that each move open the way for further moves–no dead ends!

But there is another kind of incrementalism that we need to think about, on the margins, alongside the big issues. I mean things like putting some aggressive liberal/leftists on the National Labor Relations Board, or pushing through small changes in the labor laws that would make union organizing easier, or using federal funds in small amounts to strengthen the kinds of community organizations that the president once worked for, or creating a liberal/left version of Bush’s "faith-based welfare"–enabling local communities, unions, and different sorts of NGOs, as well as churches, to organize family services and mutual aid. This sort of thing is base-building for the future. It can be very quiet and still be effective; its point is simply to loosen the "limits of progressive governance," so that a Democratic president years from now can do more than Obama can do today.

Liberalism is the American version of social democracy, but it lacks a strong working-class base, party discipline, and ideological self-consciousness. None of these are in the offing, but we need to be aware of what we are missing, and we need to begin at least the intellectual work of making up for it.

• • • • •

At Daily Kos on this date in 2003:

This is old news, but ignored the first time. It's attempting a comeback:
   

THE first President Bush has told his son that hopes of peace in the Middle East would be ruined if a war with Iraq were not backed by international unity.

   Drawing on his own experiences before and after the 1991 Gulf War, Mr Bush Sr said that the brief flowering of hope for Arab-Israeli relations a decade ago would never have happened if America had ignored the will of the United Nations.

   He also urged the President to resist his tendency to bear grudges, advising his son to bridge the rift between the United States, France and Germany.

It's clear Bush doesn't give a damn about the world or the American public, but is his own father now irrelevant?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:05 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  But only ignored his own father... (12+ / 0-)

    because he had a direct line to a higher power.

    •  just watched that interview tonight (4+ / 0-)

      I don't know where they found that guy, but he was genuine crazy-pants. A perfect example of a guy who just can't admit that the initial premises of his argument were faulty and will follow it right off a cliff to avoid conceding a point to anyone.

      •  Sounds like just another Bushie to me. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        geomoo, Stroszek

        I don't know if this is historically the case, but it strikes me that you're talking about a key tenet of conservatism. Make an argument and stick with it, even if one or two made up factoids are required to paper over inconsistencies.

        Stewart really bent over backwards to give this guy a chance to simply say: "Yea, you're right. It's not invalid to disagree with me." But Marc and people like him cannot bear the thought of living in a world where debates are anything but a chance for them to tell us what pathetic idiots we all are.

        •  I was underwhelmed with Stewart (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          geomoo, 2020adam

          I thought his whole "subjective uncertainty" angle was weak. He shouldn't have tried to make the case for his own view. He just needed to press Thiessen on the implications of his assertions. For example, Thiessen's example of "radicalism" implied that he believed governments can justify detaining someone indefinitely without evidence merely by labeling them as "dangerous"... which is obviously the more radical position in a liberal democratic state.

          Someone like Thiessen will gladly hang themselves if you just nudge them in the right direction.

          •  JS certainly petered out in the 2nd and 3rd (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            geomoo, Stroszek

            parts, to the point of AGREEING with MT on the use of torture (hanging people upside down) before post-facing that he was not a professional.  Nice touch, Jon.

            •  What is a travesty, (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Pluto, 2020adam, primarydoc

              is we are looking to a comedian as our best shot at challenging absurd and dominant assumptions of the right.  JS is better than Bill Maher, but they're both comedians, not deep thinkers on social or political issues.  They have opinions, and that's about it.

              I'll take a look at your diary.

              The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

              by geomoo on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:55:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  and stewart is no carlin. (0+ / 0-)
              •  You're looking for Bill Moyers. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Pluto, primarydoc

                And he's retiring this Spring. So yes, our society is exactly that screwed.

                •  We're not replacing them (5+ / 0-)

                  as they disappear, at whatever level of society, from the Moyerses to the Granny Ds, once they are gone, the spaces political, intellectual and ideological that they carved out get shriveled up and reabsorbed into the unbroken continuum of hegemony.  An unutterably flat, stifling sameness, uniformity of doctrine, conformity of behavior, is overtaking us silently, relentlessly, and absolutely.

                  Losing often means that you had the courage to take on a difficult cause with an unlikely outcome. ~ James Perry

                  by ActivistGuy on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:54:34 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •   Bill Moyers is a supporter of Amy Goodman (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  geomoo, primarydoc

                  ...it is safe to say he sees her as a first class journalist.
                  I wish Moyers could get some major time slot before he retires (or at least a few prime time discussions), but if that just isn't possible Amy Goodman should have that position.
                  Put her on MTP (which I quit watching long ago) and I will watch that broadcast as much as I do DemocracyNow!,...  which is daily.

                  The Real Climategate: Conservation Groups Align with World’s Worst Polluters...

                  http://www.democracynow.org/...

                  without the ants the rainforest dies

                  by aliasalias on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 11:40:40 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I'll bet she'd be no fun at DC cocktail parties. (0+ / 0-)

                    Does anything else really count when it comes to who does and doesn't get a seat at the MSM table?

                    •  i don't think she'd be debbie downer (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      aliasalias
                      •  she's too intelligent, informed and passionate (4+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        geomoo, home solar, 2020adam, primarydoc

                        about social causes to be anything but a 'plus' to any circumstance. from Wikipedia...(italics mine)

                        Goodman believes that democracy depends on journalists who are able to educate their audience with context and depth and who are not beholden to corporate media ownership. For example, in 2009 for an audience at the Vancouver Public Library, she emphasized the importance of independent media:

                           "It's very important that we feel free to be able to speak in Canada, in the United States, because dissent is what will save us. We live in very dire times. Global warring, global warming, the global economic meltdown, the lack of health care in the United States — these are crises that need people other than those typical pundits we see on all the networks who know so little about so much, explaining the world to us and getting it so wrong.

                           "We need people who think outside the box. Think of that TV screen as the box, because when you have just that know-nothing punditocracy, with the standard eight- or nine-second sound byte, what are you going to get in that amount of time? You just get the status quo reinforced. If you say, 'Saddam Hussein was like Hitler', everyone knows every reference point. You've said it within a few seconds. You're ready for prime time.

                           "If you have something else to say, perhaps, like, "Officials of our government in the United States are guilty of war crimes, you can actually say that in less than eight seconds, but you sound a little crazy. You're marginalized, because you have to take a little time to explain: what are the Nuremberg Principles? What are the Geneva Conventions? What are war crimes? That takes more time. They say: 'It's not a political edit; it's just that you're not ready to concisely address the issue.' We need to go beyond the way the issues have been framed. We see where the status quo has got us; we can't afford this anymore."[7

                         check out her Journalism career as well...
                        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                        without the ants the rainforest dies

                        by aliasalias on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:02:53 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

          •  It seemed like he was working towards... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dharmafarmer, Stroszek

            some sort of resolution. As if he convinced himself that if he just pushed in the right direction, he could force Thiessen to admit that liberals aren't quite as crazy as he claims. Which is admirable, methinks - who wouldn't love to see the internal thought process play out, as an overly-certain conservative suddenly realizes his opponents are not unserious.

            But I agree, he was aiming at the wrong goal. There's no getting some people to see themselves in the mirror. Better to bring in a spotlight and let everyone see just how insane these people get if given the chance.

      •  And whine and whine and whine all (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades, Pluto, Stroszek

        the way down.

        Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

        by Catskill Julie on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:41:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  loooove me some Just and Unjust War. (0+ / 0-)

      One of the few books I actually read in college.

  •  a way to energize the youth vote? (8+ / 0-)

    combine student loan reform with hcr fixes in reconciliation?  

    save our democracy! freespeechforpeople.org

    by thoughtful3 on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:08:20 PM PST

  •  Can't say that Bush Sr. was a (7+ / 0-)

    bad foreign policy president... lousy on the economy but had some forein policy successes. For Bush Jr. to shut out his own father to prove his independence... God, I hope America can survive that eight-year nightmare.

    Barack Obama in the Oval Office: There's a black man who knows his place.

    by Greasy Grant on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:09:48 PM PST

  •  I just wanted to say (6+ / 0-)

    Thank you.

    Shelterbox http://www.shelterboxusa.org/

    by TexMex on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:15:41 PM PST

  •  I'm Never Wrong About This Kind of Call (12+ / 0-)

    This is the exact opposite of an incrementalist's time.

    What we've GOT (on our side only) are incrementalists. That I'll admit.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:21:18 PM PST

    •  My take on Walzer's take ... (8+ / 0-)

      ...(everyone should read the whole thing) is that the left wants there to be more than incrementalism, was indeed expecting more, but it's clear now that incrementalism is all we're going to get and so we should get as much as we possibly can squeeze out of the current situation.

      Unfortunately, as I wrote earlier tonight on financial reregulation:

      Rahm Emanuel famously said that crises shouldn't be wasted. Indeed, they are and should be the cradle for making big and long-needed changes in the way our political and economic system operates because nothing gets reformed in less anxious times. However, wasting the financial crisis seems to be exactly the outcome of efforts to give hoi polloi ... a smidgen of leverage against hoi oligoi in the next decade or so of the 21st Century.

      None of what's been proposed is radical or anything like the supposed "socialism" that Republicans and their media mannequins keep caterwauling about. Too bad it's not. But just getting our leaders to enact even an ultra-modest reform ending the most egregious financial deceptions and rip-offs would appear to be a tough enough task.

      I refuse to accept "no can do" as a proper slogan for progressives.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:34:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Incrementalism would be a blazing pace (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tovan, Pluto, aliasalias, MrJayTee, geomoo

        and seriously how much time do we actually have to get everything right - the economy, banking reform, health care, climate change, a long term energy solution - before everything goes to hell? We may not have time for incrementalism, especially as it is practiced in Washington and how easily everything is undone by a reversal of the party in power. We don't even have the luxury of four terms like FDR even if we did get on a roll.

      •  My take. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, MagisterLudi, geomoo, George Hier

        Walking up the down escalator.

      •  Struck me as just another essay from the old left (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tovan, Pluto, geomoo

        In my humble opinion, there's a decent heap of incoherent rambling in there. While their books can be quite interesting, too often the articles and speeches of the old left are ill conceived attempts to offer historical perspective and analysis on the contemporary political/societal landscape. And there's absolutely nothing problematic about that in theory. I just think it too often relies on too much shorthand, forgetting that most of us need a fuller explanation of what exactly it is they are advocating for or claiming to see.

        I do love Walzer, and there are times when I love hearing from the old left. I was at a few Dissent release parties in the past few years, and at the very least it's definitely entertaining to watch guys like him and Marshall Berman reminisce about the good old days.

        •  From anything but an academic perspective, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          2020adam

          I think Walzer misrepresents the "old left" of the '60s.

          1993 doesn’t seem so different, but the ’30s and the ’60s were very different. In those decades there was a vibrant left politics, a movement politics, a grassroots politics, which doesn‘t exist today. The labor movement, the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement–all these drove politics leftward.

          '

          Vibrant left politics? More like a brief spasm, with a few inspirational and charasmatic leaders like Martin Luther King and more who were riot-rousers like Abby Hoffman.  The chaotic "left" politics and social upheaval of the '60s--even though justified in principle and resulting in some desperately needed social advances--antagonized most Americans and paved the way for Reagan and a hard turn to the right.  The riots and other violence, whether self-generated or instigated by government agents, seemed necessary to some of the youth and civil libertarians at the time, but the decades-long blowback has been harsh.

          "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat." Will Rogers

          by tovan on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:20:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The blowback was almost immediate - (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tovan, 2020adam

            Republicans made major gains in the 1966 Congressional elections, the first after the 1965 Civil Rights Act, and Reagan won the CA governor's race that year with an explicit shoot-black rioters-and-student-demonstrators platform. This was long before May 1968 and Chicago later that summer, the usual touchstones for those who blame the "New Left" for angering the Silent Majority or however reactionaries and Establishment minions flattered the complacent. And the blowback was really against the massive and horrific "race riots" in so many cities and not so much against white leftists at first - the class "betrayal" and "ingratitude"  of young white middle-class leftists/hippies was more of a personalization of the underlying conflict. And the supposed reactionary stance of the white working class was mostly an illusion created by Nixon, George Meany, and Norman Lear. It took Reagan again as President  to make that more of a reality.

            At the time I was horrified by what I heard behind closed doors from my right-wing parents and their friends and allies and wanted to go slow to avoid backlash, but after a while I realized that if we waited for even the better Establishment we had then to act, it would take centuries for anything meaningful to happen. I've thought a lot about this over 45+ years, and I believe we were doomed to what we know now.

            Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

            by jlb1972 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:45:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It is very strange, looking back. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jlb1972, 2020adam

              At the time, and for a long time after, most of us had little or no knowledge of our own government's capacity for treachery.

              I was torn and confused, with friends divided between volunteering for Vietnam and protesting against it.  I even researched the history of Vietnam, in an effort to figure out who was doing what to whom.  And who was lying.  Communist invasion from the North, or civil war?

              Ironically, I lived in San Francisco in the late '60s, and witnessed the Haight-Ashbury, Black Panthers, and Berkeley riots turmoil up close, and it was all confusing.  Then.  Over time, it became clearer to anyone willing to see.  I'm MUCH more pinko and cynical now.  Hindsight is so illuminating, eh?

              "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat." Will Rogers

              by tovan on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:05:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Was it Mark Twain who said (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tovan, 2020adam

                that the problem with life is that it's lived forward but understood backwards? He also said that youth is wasted on the young, which is I guess a similar point in that you're so baffled by all that's coming at when you're young that you can't take the optimal stance toward it. It's only later that you see how you woulda/coulda/shoulda played it.

                And, yeah, these contradictions probably were simply irresolvable. I did the same as you in reading up on Vietnam and thereby developed a skeptical, and thus unhelpful, attitude toward both Saigon and Hanoi. And I saw LBJ's escalation not as the cartoonish bloodlust of a Southerner or Texas cowboy as it was often depicted then, but rather as a sign of how vulnerable the Establishment was to political extortion from such as the Goldwater Right and the China Lobby. Much later, I really admired Joan Baez for her principled criticism of Hanoi when they took over South Vietnam and were so brutal and dictatorial, which she was lambasted for by the Left at the time. To sum up, I seemed then to float somewhere/nowhere between Establishment liberals, New Left radicals, and lifestyle-focused hippies.  Just about everybody liked sex, drugs, and rock & roll, though, whatever they may say now ...

                Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

                by jlb1972 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:28:09 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Alas, I was a young mother (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mnemosyne, jlb1972, 2020adam

                  with a toddler and baby.  Earthmotherish.  No drugs, monogamous, health foods, and Judy Collins!  An outlier, for sure;-)

                  "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat." Will Rogers

                  by tovan on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:07:25 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You sound like you were very nice, (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    tovan, 2020adam

                    like someone I would have been happy to know! And it sounds like you took very good care of your kids. I liked Judy Collins too! Though to my ear she's always had pitch problems, she has great taste in material and has made some truly beautiful records. In general, I suppose the times are always confusing as witnessed by the unhappy consciousness of even that Silent Generation booster-type Tom Brokaw. The 60's seemed particularly traumatic to live through, but I suppose it was just the underlying contradictions inevitably erupting into view only to be tamped down again by Reagan. I hate nostalgia ...

                    Then let us learn our range: we are something but we are not everything - Pascal

                    by jlb1972 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:23:56 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  We are in the midst of a political crisis. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tovan, Pluto

        A crisis caused by a mind bending irony of the last year post election.
        So disorientating the reaction to the  financial coup de tat, that incrementalism is the least of our worries.

      •  The center has been pushed SO far to the right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tovan

        and the political arena is SO dominated by the influence of corporate money. The increments really need to be bigger.

        However, we can't ignore reality. we are not getting the bigger increments. That tells us something. It gives us some marching orders.

        It should NOT be the tea-baggers dominating the news cycle and the national imagination. We need to push harder, longer, and better.

        •  Leverage. (0+ / 0-)

          Figuring out where to push most effectively is the first order of business.

          Money is always a good place to start.  It has occurred to me that the principal moneybags for the extreme rightwing, people like, say, the Koch brothers and Richard Mellon Scaife and the Rev. Moon, hardly ever have to face the music for their (probably nefarious) activities.

          I wonder what would happen if they were dragged into the limelight by persistent and unwelcome attention?

          "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat." Will Rogers

          by tovan on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:36:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Where he really misses the mark (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mnemosyne, 2020adam

      Unfortunately, in my lifetime, this country has never elected a Democrat president for any reason other than to clean up the economic mess left by a prior Republican administration. It's why Kennedy, Carter, Clinton, and Obama were all elected. Until the citizens of this country finally realize that Republican economic policies are at best a fantasy, and at worst are dangerous, Democratic presidents are always going to be in repair mode. Incrementalism is about the best that we can hope for, when we truly need a revolution.

      "This sucks" - anonymous

      by jhecht on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:53:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Incrementalism meets excrementalism (7+ / 0-)

    in Washington where everything seems to turn to shit.

  •  gimme shelter... (5+ / 0-)

    before I fade away...

    The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. -Howard Zinn

    by blueyedace2 on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:29:39 PM PST

  •  Seeing Beck out-crazied on his show with (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pam from Calif, Pluto, geomoo

    Massa will probably get me through this week.

  •  That photo of Michael Walzer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, geomoo, Situational Lefty

    reminds me a bit of one of my heroes, the late great Howard Zinn; but then all those all white guys look the same to me.

    Excess ain't rebellion. You're drinking what they're selling. - Cake

    by slatsg on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:36:44 PM PST

  •  Did Anyone See Patrick Kennedy (4+ / 0-)

    ...freak out on the Floor today? Was it Diaried?

    ::
    The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

    by Pluto on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:37:38 PM PST

  •  In a just world... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw, Catskill Julie

    I would never have to get caught up in another exchange about Nader in 2000.

    I was there, I remember, I paid attention.

    I will try to suppress the hate; hate is not helpful.  But what comes is sadness at the idiocy and misdirected energy.  Damn you, Naderites!

  •  I love the "at kos on this date" clips... (5+ / 0-)

    I spent a little while last night roaming through some of the '03 posts. Found lots of fun stuff to bookmark.

    Socially, Politically, and Culturally Conscious Videos: Sum of Change

    by SumOfChange on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:39:36 PM PST

  •  I don't really want "The Movement" (5+ / 0-)

    per se. I just want to be one of, and live among, informed adults of decent intent for the most part.

    Anyway, every time a movement gets some traction, it isn't long before it gets completely sucked into the same vortex as the rest of the fucked up politicos. Not to mention all the herd- and alpha-type struggles everything gets bogged down in.

    On top of that, we no longer live our days like we did in the heyday of Movements. In the 30s, the 60s, any warm day the whole neighborhood in a city was out in front of their houses. Everyone had actual connections, if just to smile hello at and then gossip about, to everyone else. People knew everyone else's cousins and aunts from when they came to visit. Movement came from everyone knowing they were in the same boat. They had tangible proof of that all day long.

    We don't have that. And are unlikely to rebuild that (barring the collapse of current society).

    So, we don't need so much a Movement, as we do enough of us moving toward specific Goals we all share, imo. Specific goals with time-limits. Movements, which imply organization, too often end up making the preservation (and direction and purity) of the Movement the priority over actually achieving the original end. So time-limits are important.

    In our current social patterns, especially regarding the internet, this is something we could actually hash out and organize, if we had the wit.

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:40:03 PM PST

    •  It's perhaps ironic that the very thing Walzer (6+ / 0-)

      says we need is almost antithetical to what goes on in blogs and on-line communities everywhere. Walzer says:

      By contrast, Obama’s liberalism has no base. I am sure that surveys would show that he has a lot of support on the issues, maybe even majority support, but this is the kind of support that manifests itself almost entirely in opinion polls, not in the streets or in union halls and churches. What is necessary for a strong leftward pendulum swing is some form of mass mobilization. In addition to the people who tell pollsters that they would like, or would have liked, say, an extension of Medicare to people in their 50s, there have to be people who go to meetings, march in demonstrations, organize in their communities, raise money, and make enough noise so that politicians start worrying about their re-election.

      Would the tweet heard 'round the world have started the American Revolution? Are we missing something by exchanging ideas in a closed environment, reinforcing our own ideas and not engaging the public like the movements of the thirties and the sixties? Would a more visible, physical presence show the country that there is a strong liberal sentiment? Would such a presence encourage other liberals to join and make their voices heard? We seem to have ceded the public square to the braying of teabaggers whilst we engage in philosophical discussions.

      •  Good questions. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MagisterLudi, jlms qkw, 2020adam

        Still, we aren't going to get mass movements like we saw before. The basis of proximity and immediate loyalties, with family, in the neighborhood, at the workplace, around church — that's all gone. Not to say it doesn't exist at all, or can't provide a large part of what's needed, but not on the necessary scale.

        Plus, the younger people especially, are completely gone into the blue glow, psychologically.

        Add in that the mass-reach, corporate, media has successfully excluded mass demonstrations in the past, and demonized the rest. Except of course, for rightwing/corporate friendly groups like the teabaggers. Plus, media is not there to encourage knowledge, independence, and depth of thought in the populace. The opposite, really.

        Remember, it wasn't just pollsters being told that people want a Public Option. The very idea is still alive because people used the internet to organize, in one instance, over a million calls to Congress. We'll not get it in the Senate Bill or the reconciliation, but the internet has made it impossible for the Establishment to put off giving it to us much longer.

        So there's that.

        We show promise when there are clear cut goals, with a time-limit.

        For me, I just sit and shake my head whenever I think we've not used the internet to, as a first task and above all, break up the de facto monopoly over programming content held by corporations. There's no reason we couldn't do that within a year or sixteen months, if we set our sights on it, imo.

        But we remain woefully reactive to the Corporate Media, failing to recognize that Glen Beck is a tactic; the role of a Glen Beck-type is a strategy. So there we are busy putting out the brushfire named Glen Beck, while they just throw similar and supportive shit at us under different guises all day long. Nothing gets done without ordinary citizens having say in mass-reach media content.

        I always have to go back to my signature:

        Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

        by Jim P on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:41:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What is your prescription? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MagisterLudi

          Personally, I think we need to pull our heads out of Glenn Beck's toilet bowl. We spend an inordinate amount of time searching through that man's shit, trying to find hypocrisy, as if he and his overlords weren't well aware that he is peddling an illusion.

          Look everyone! Glenn Beck is still doing his job!! Isn't that shocking?!

          I think we need to become more of a positive force for our own ideas instead of a reaction to right-wing corporatist bullshit.

          But I should get back to my original question: what is your prescription?

          •  Well, it's in the comment. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MagisterLudi, aliasalias, 2020adam

            Make it the netroots-wide priority to organize the breakup of Corporate control over content which reaches a mass audience.

            First, it can succeed because Big Media is less respected than even car salesmen the last time I saw the thing polled. Everybody hates the Corporate media, though for different reasons.

            Second, there's legislative remedies (1 outlet 1 market rules), legal attacks (license challenges, eminent domain,...), and popular action (boycotting cable, direct calls to Media figures and their owners, etc)

            Maybe there are better ideas, or more ideas. No reason we can't attack the Media Monopoly from a thousand angles at once.

            It just boggles my mind that at this late date we've not focused on dealing with the dominant political fact of our time — the ability of corporations to limit and set public perception and discussion.

            Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

            by Jim P on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:58:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Makes plenty of sense to me. (0+ / 0-)

              A boycott of cable strikes me as a wonnnnderful place to start. Nothing feels better than cutting that cord.

              Okay, there are things that do feel better. But still, the point stands.

              •  (and apologies... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jim P

                for not seeing the prescriptions in your original comment. A month of insomnia is beginning to make a mess of my brain.)

                •  Oh, that wasn't meant as a rebuke. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  2020adam

                  I've been eager to see people run wild with just the bare idea for a long time now. But I always end up spelling it out. C'est la vie.

                  Get some sleep. Warm milk, lying in bed relaxing from the toes to the head, etc etc. I'm sure you've tried things.

                  G'night and pleasant dreams.

                  Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

                  by Jim P on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 11:19:54 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  I sometimes fear that we've cloistered ourselves (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jim P, 2020adam

          to the point that nothing matters until it intrudes upon our personal turf. Europe still has many public demonstrations. Greece is undergoing labor riots and massive strikes. Iran had large demonstrations after elections even with the threat of arrest, torture, and death. We click away at our keyboards and mice and express displeasure with a government policy. Somehow, that doesn't seem to carry the force of a well-organized, persistent movement.

          Perhaps the media may ignore a single demonstration or inflate the numbers at Tea Party rallies for its own purposes. But a million calls to Congress is more likely to be treated as a non-event by both the media and the Congress unless all of the calls come in at once and the sheer volume causes outages and delays in the phone system. The clean energy proposal is asking for a million calls to Congress and currently stands at 6,844 emails. How long will it take to reach the million call mark and will anyone really care by the time the millionth call comes in?

          Movements are a much more tangible display of political will. However, movements need to maintain momentum in order to be effective. A single demonstration may not get the coverage it deserves, but a persistent effort cannot be ignored. Cindy Sheehan got a lot of coverage as a one-woman protest movement, but I doubt anyone would still remember her name if she had given up after one demonstration.

          We need goals but we also need some impetus to get them accomplished. Something that can't be ignored. Congress is not likely to feel threatened by email, particularly when the bulk of it comes from out of district. It's also difficult to exert any pressure through emails when there is no public acknowledgment of either the existence or content of those emails. Web sites may show that a million emails were launched from a site, but since when has this been a newsworthy event? It's just too passive for congressmen and the media to take note. They do understand money, however, and the netroots can certainly make its presence felt by triggering a money bomb to a congressman or his/her opponent.

          I agree that we have not as effectively used the Internet as we could to get the message out. But the Internet is still not as pervasive as traditional media and we need a way to use traditional media to our advantage even if we have to use gimmicks. The fake news shows such as The Daily Show and the Colbert Report do a great job of ddiffusing the noise on some of the wingnut news shows. And Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann present some balance to the other commetators, but we still lack a  progressive balance to the Tea Party and the religious right.

          •  Well, there's a lot to discuss. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MagisterLudi, aliasalias

            But I'm falling asleep now.

            One thing: we've made the mistake of thinking the internet will replace mass-media, but it just cannot do so. It's a different item altogether. The "Dean Scream" propaganda shot was known to every American who watched any news at all within a day. That the shot was faked, Dean using a special crowd-noise cancelling microphone, went on the internet and here, years later, I doubt a tenth of that mass-media has been reached.

            We should be using the internet as if we had established a beachhead on the landmass of "talking to all America" and find ways to leverage the traditional media open. Once we get ordinary people having say, then a whole level of pretense gets erased real quickly. Then movements become possible. At least that's the sequence as makes sense to me. Note I'm not saying we need a liberal counterpart media, we just need informed adults, of any political stripe being able to say real things in public, and getting real responses.

            But, sleep calls at the moment.

            Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

            by Jim P on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:14:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, the tea baggers were out and we weren't (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        2020adam

        At least not enough of us and in the right p[laces at the right times.

        Of course if we were out the media would not cover us. THAT is a BIG, BIG problem that we MUST find a real means to solve.

        Face it: our message does not get out to the people who most need to hear it. "The right" spent a generation embedding themselves in all "the right" places and it pays off for them.

    •  Precisely. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim P, MagisterLudi, 2020adam

      The essay is like Walzer's last hurrah. It made me uncomfortable because he was a hammer and everything still looks like a nail to him.

      The world has moved on.

      ::
      The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

      by Pluto on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:10:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm a Palast-ian (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mnemosyne, Pluto, geomoo

    That is, Greg Palast who posits (correct me if I'm mis-characterizing, Greg) that the Iraq War was simply a way to raise gas prices..and thus, profits for the Saudi and American buddies. Nothing more, and as the years go by and the so-called strategic gains touted at the outset didn't materialize, the entire excercise was a lot less than people make it out to be...unless you were an expendable Iraqui civilian or American military family caught up in this nightmare, of course.  I realize there were ancillary gains..for instance, Bush Jr got a lease on life for the 2004 election, riding on the war, was able to neglect the economy, set about a recession..what did Americans gain? Distract, divide, upset and conquer. It is the work of fascists.  

  •  I am in such a dither tonight. (8+ / 0-)

    Starting with the diary describing the history of the battle to get to the current pathetic health insurance bill.  I do want to celebrate the hard work, which I appreciate so much.  But I don't think the bill has a prayer of addressing terrible problems we face.  I read the words of Michael Walzer, and I think in terms of working patiently, then I read the words of Chris Hedges and feel that we don't have nearly the luxury of that approach.

    Seriously, I'm bouncing wildly between celebrating the fact that some good people word hard and got something done, and thinking my very participation in this site is wrong because it enables a Democratic Party that has long since sold out.

    Sigh.

    Contrast the following thinking to that of Walzer.  It seems to me the crucial question is how bad one thinks matters are.  If I accept the truth of the first paragraph, which I do, then I am not being true to my views when I buy into the words of people like Walzer.

    There are no constraints left to halt America’s slide into a totalitarian capitalism. Electoral politics are a sham. The media have been debased and defanged by corporate owners. The working class has been impoverished and is now being plunged into profound despair. The legal system has been corrupted to serve corporate interests. Popular institutions, from labor unions to political parties, have been destroyed or emasculated by corporate power. And any form of protest, no matter how tepid, is blocked by an internal security apparatus that is starting to rival that of the East German secret police. The mounting anger and hatred, coursing through the bloodstream of the body politic, make violence and counter-violence inevitable. Brace yourself. The American empire is over. And the descent is going to be horrifying.
    snip

    The engines of social reform are dead. Liberal apologists, who long ago should have abandoned the Democratic Party, continue to make pathetic appeals to a tone-deaf corporate state and Barack Obama while the working and middle class are ruthlessly stripped of rights, income and jobs....
    snip

    The power structure and its liberal apologists dismiss the rebel as impractical and see the rebel’s outsider stance as counterproductive.... The rebel, however, is beholden to a moral commitment that makes it impossible to stand with the power elite.
    snip

    The rebel, for Camus, stands with the oppressed.... And to stand with them does not mean to collaborate with parties, such as the Democrats, who can mouth the words of justice while carrying out acts of oppression. It means open and direct defiance.
    snip

    Those who do not rebel in our age of totalitarian capitalism and who convince themselves that there is no alternative to collaboration are complicit in their own enslavement. They commit spiritual and moral suicide.

    The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

    by geomoo on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:50:27 PM PST

    •  Every last word of that is right. (0+ / 0-)

      Abandon the Democratic party.  I have.  The only people it hurts are corporatists and the dwindling Democratic base that refuses to see reason because it hurts too much.

      Abandon the party.  They abandoned you and everyone like you long ago.  

      •  OK. But adopt what alternative? n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, Situational Lefty

        I refuse to accept "no can do" as a proper slogan for progressives.

        by Meteor Blades on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:13:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Deprive the party of money and votes, and (0+ / 0-)

          Organize mass civil disobedience.

        •  Hedges "alternative" is rebellion (0+ / 0-)

          a la Camus.

          And yet Camus wrote that "one of the only coherent philosophical positions is revolt. It is a constant confrontation between man and his obscurity. It is not aspiration, for it is devoid of hope. That revolt is the certainty of a crushing fate, without the resignation that ought to accompany it."

          "A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object," Camus warned. "But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object."

          The capacity to exercise moral autonomy, the capacity to refuse to cooperate, offers us the only route left to personal freedom and a life with meaning. Rebellion is its own justification.... We must become, as Camus said, so absolutely free that "existence is an act of rebellion."

          And thus, may my rebellion be a copyright violatoin of Hedges' article.

          I am admitting that I don't have the stomach for the radicalism my vision of things should demand.  I want to hold things together as long as they can be reasonably civilized, providing a reasonable level of health care to a reasonable number of people.  Reasonably limit our official murdering and torturing in foreign countries.  I'll complain here--I'll point out the complicity of Obama and the rest.  I'll hope for change or improvement.  But, if I'm brutally honest with myself, I don't think those things are going to get the job done.  I believe it is too late.

          Well, I'm not sure rebellion for the sake of dignity is the answer either, but it seems about as moral solution as any.  I don't think there is a simple moral path for today for anyone willing to look at our current condition directly.

          And, btw, being a keyboard rebel, and spouting off kneejerk negativity, is nowheresville, too.

          The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

          by geomoo on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:26:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rebellion is NOT devoid of hope! (0+ / 0-)

            It is the last realistic expression of hope when all other avenues have been barricaded!

            As long as we are guided by peace and non-violence, we have hope.  The corporatists can only get away with what we let them get away with.

            The depression you feel is the depression of knowing you have to give up a view of the world that gave you hope in return for the uncertainty of a path that is long and difficult.  It passes once you enter an area where real hope is possible.  The Democratic party is dead and no hope will come from believing otherwise.

            Keep sawing at that limb.  Don't lose heart.  We will only win if we don't play the corporatists' game.  They are counting on us to keep playing.

            Don't keep playing.  The sooner the Party is in your rear-view mirror, the sooner hope will return.

          •  The Rethugs are NOT reasonable (0+ / 0-)

            And we need to push the limits of reason as well.

            We should have been in the streets a long time ago, not left it to tea-baggers.

            We need to cease being something that can be ignored. We need to be smarter and harder.

    •  While I find much to agree with in Hedges ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, Pluto, geomoo

      ..."Brace yourself" has to be more than preparing for some apocalyptic decline in which we watch the devil take the hindmost. The decline of empire can be a good thing if it's accepted and adjusted for. The problem is that we have been led, and remain led, by forces that are unwilling to back off until forced by circumstances to do so.

      I refuse to accept "no can do" as a proper slogan for progressives.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:12:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Say more about "accepting and adjusting" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto

        if you would.  I would like to feel I am participating productively without feeling I'm complicit by doing so.

        The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

        by geomoo on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:29:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  think small. (0+ / 0-)

          If the empire is going to collapse, what do you need to do to accept it and adjust to it? MB is probably speaking on a more macro level about the fact that major national actors need to take their lead feet off the gas pedal. We may be headed off the cliff, but that doesn't mean they should keep pushing so damn hard.

          As for us, personally, I think we need to adjust to the potential realities of a non-empire United States. Basically, if you no longer had the whole damn world as your own personal Wal Mart, how would you act differently?

          I know I'm not offering anything concrete. For me, it means more self-sufficiency and more reliance on my neighbors. For example, creating a local tool library so we don't all need to buy the same thing from Home Depot.

          The reason I'm not being concrete is because I really think it means different things for different communities, depending on what they can manage on their own.

    •  Finally someone who can admit to being torn. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, 2020adam

      That is a wonderful quote that speaks clearly about what time it is.

    •  You're not Alone. (0+ / 0-)

      The loud and angry partisans screaming for and against HCR in its current form may in fact run much of the conversation around here. But you are most definitely not alone. Ambivalence is where I'm at these days, and I don't see anything fixing that anytime soon.

    •  So, we keep pushing on all fronts (0+ / 0-)

      while we realize that without election financing reform it will all be incremental.

      But we keep pushing. Hard. Like Kucinich. We won't be p*ssies and we won't be patsies and we won't be whiners.

      We will BE THERE and be involved and we will keep pushing. On all fronts. On every front. Always.

  •  Waxman reportedly negotiating with Stupak, (9+ / 0-)

    according to MSNBC. Stupak action diary with list, links, action tools.

    Considering how many times people have declared public option dead, I'm not willing to let go of this bad boy until it's buried for good and all.

    Then we can dance on the grave of Stupak-Pitts and no Democrat will ever, EVER again think it's a good idea to roll back women's rights. Meanwhile, write to the district newspapers of the Gang-of-Stupak 6, 13, or 15, support their pro-choice primary opponents, like Connie Saltonstall in MI-01. And don't forget to let the Dem leadership know we're just not going for this!

    Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

    by Catskill Julie on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:53:15 PM PST

  •  I haven't Read the Whole Walzer Piece (5+ / 0-)

    But this part struck me:

    Liberalism is the American version of social democracy, but it lacks a strong working-class base, party discipline, and ideological self-consciousness. None of these are in the offing, but we need to be aware of what we are missing, and we need to begin at least the intellectual work of making up for it.

    For so many decades America was the leader in the emergence of the post industrial revolution. We didn't look around at the rest of the world to see how to do things -- we were inspired with decency and fairness, righteousness and goodness. The eyes of the world watched America to see how a nation could be it's very best.

    That was a great thing we did for the world. We were a pathfinder into the future and a better life for each and every citizen.

    I think Waltzer makes the fact that we've lost our way a bit ominous, and chaotic -- as though liberalism has to start again from scratch. But that simply isn't so.

    In a remarkable turn of events, the world is standing by to do us a favor. We now have more advanced and developed countries to emulate. We don't have to re-invent the wheel to provide every citizen with health care and a safety net, or to pull all citizens out of poverty, or to invest each citizen with a free education.

    Thirty highly-developed nations are already doing this.

    We just need to do what the more socially advanced nations are doing. They have provided a road map this time for us -- and we can see already where it goes. We can use it.

    ::
    The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

    by Pluto on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 09:54:19 PM PST

    •  Of course, to do so means conquering ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, Pluto, noweasels, geomoo

      ...the know-nothings - across many factions - who will say some version of "But we're not Europeans!!"

      Here's a little more of that quotation from Walzer:

      Liberalism is the American version of social democracy, but it lacks a strong working-class base, party discipline, and ideological self-consciousness. None of these are in the offing, but we need to be aware of what we are missing, and we need to begin at least the intellectual work of making up for it. European social democrats are on the defensive right now, but they have a lot to defend. Liberals here are in catch-up mode, and not doing all that well. We know more or less what we have to do, but we haven’t managed to give the American people a brightly colored picture of the country we would like to create. There is a lot of wonkishness on the liberal left, among American social democrats, but not much inspiration. We haven’t found the words and images that set people marching. As an old leftist, I can talk (endlessly) about citizenship, equality, solidarity, and our responsibility to future generations, but someone much younger than I am has to put all this in a language that resonates with young Americans–and describe a "city upon a hill" that may or may not be the same hill that I have been climbing all these years.

      I refuse to accept "no can do" as a proper slogan for progressives.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:01:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The natural movement of this country toward (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades, marina, Pluto, 2020adam

        the things Walzer imagined has been consciously curtailed by fascist forces.  I often wonder what the country would look like if the vision of my generation had not led to virulent reaction and, finally, effective stifling of aspirations toward a green, peaceful, equitable, one-world, socially democratic future.  Often it seems that the policies of this country are determined solely as a response to the vision of liberals in the 60's and 70's.

        Anyway, what I'm saying is that, imho, the first stage is to develop a clear focus on the entities that are devoted to stopping any of Walzer's vision from coming to fruition.  This is a difficult task, because those forces are powerful, entrenched, and hidden.  They are a muddled blend of government and corporate.  And they are effective at sabotage, if not at governing.

        If we aren't clear about who is screwing us, I don't see us having much of a chance of reaching important goals with naive tactics.

        The only real competition in America is between politicians, for the right to represent the interests of the wealthy.

        by geomoo on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:10:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This post got me out of my funk (6+ / 0-)

        I was about to whine on-line and then I read this"

        [B]ut we haven’t managed to give the American people a brightly colored picture of the country we would like to create.

        * * *

        We haven’t found the words and images that set people marching. As an old leftist, I can talk (endlessly) about citizenship, equality, solidarity, and our responsibility to future generations, but someone much younger than I am has to put all this in a language that resonates with young Americans–and describe a "city upon a hill" that may or may not be the same hill that I have been climbing all these years.

        And now, instead of posting a whine about my very bad 18-hour day, I'd rather sit and think about how we could accomplish this.  Golly, I just loved this.

        And I think, when they return from spring break and I take them for their monthly dinner-out-at-a-restaurant, I'll ask my freshman niece and her friends to answer this question.  They are all smart.  They all voted for Obama -- maybe THEY can tell us.

        "Let reverence for the laws . . . become the political religion of the nation." ~ Abraham Lincoln

        by noweasels on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:21:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think the road map does much. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto

      I mean, is it really that hard to understand? Educate your people. Make sure they are healthy. If they lose their jobs, help them find another one and make sure they can survive in the mean time.

      I'm not entirely clear on how we have a leg up in the situation, given the know-nothingism that MB points to. Our roadmap to success is seen by them as the roadmap to [insert scary ideology here].

      If we have any leg up, it is in the information war. As more and more people discover truth-telling sources on the interwebs, the lies keeping the status quo in place get harder to sustain.

      Either way, mobilization is indeed the key for us, and I think Walzer is correct in seeing that we are a ways off from seeing that outside of electoral contests. I suppose there is hope that interweb sites like this one will help in that effort.

    •  Pluto, I'll always believe you're a planet, but I (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, geomoo

      Can't agree with this:

      We don't have to re-invent the wheel to provide every citizen with health care and a safety net, or to pull all citizens out of poverty, or to invest each citizen with a free education.

      The only way this is true is if there is a plausible way to break corporate power without mass civil unrest, which I hope takes the form of civil disobedience rather than riots and other unproductive violence.

      As long as we try to reform an utterly bankrupt political party--instead of organing anti-corporate civil disobedience and the public education necessary to go with it, we are lost.  The party is owned and led by corporatists, lock, stock, and barrel.  

      There is nothing left to reform.

      •  Ve Haf Our Vays... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        geomoo

        Americans are not going to get off their fat asses and protest. They're too ignorant and uninformed to understand what is going on, anyway.

        I think there may be other ways and other wildcards left to play.

        ::
        The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

        by Pluto on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:31:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  As long as progressives keep getting punked (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pluto

          By the Democratic party, of course it won't happen.  As long as we believe Americans can no longer fight like their union-era forebearers, it won't happen.  

          But for civil disobedience to become possible, we have to provide examples, models of peaceful, but implacable, resistance to corporatism.  There are thousands of people on DKos alone who are willing to invest all the time they have to revive the corpse of the Democratic party, no matter how long it takes.  What if instead they put that energy into to real, non-violent resistance to corporate control?  

          I understand such a movement would take time and leadership in a world that suffers for lack of both.  But nothing will change as long as we play the corporatists' game.  Keeping with the Democratic party as constituted is playing their game.

          We have to start somewhere.  The people of this country are aching for examples of pro-people courage and leadership.  It's up to us to wake up and start giving them those examples--before violent right wing ideologues do.

          •  I Don't Disagree with Anything You've Written (0+ / 0-)

            The two party thing is just silly. I'm looking at a larger sweep of events to bring profound change in the US. However, the energy and impetus for that will come from the rest of the world. They are reshaping us. And we cannot compete with them any longer.

            ::
            The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

            by Pluto on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 11:02:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  As long as there is no one (0+ / 0-)

              Willing to provide Americans with a model of what non-violent resistance can do, nothing will change.  Gandhi did it in India.  MLK did it here.  We can do it again.

              But we must give up the idea that the Democratic party is a vehicle.

      •  So fuck the federal level. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto

        Time to fix our local political systems so that we each, one community at a time, have what we need to survive.

        If we feel strong enough as smaller communities, taking on the big guys (or, maybe even better, letting them die off as more and more of us just ignore them) will be that much easier.

        •  That is a Very Instinctual and Telling Remark (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Friend of the court, 2020adam

          I believe we are headed for decades of regionalism. And, regions may become strong, cohesive, and fiercly independent. Which will be very good for people, because regions will be competing for workers and talent.

          When you think about it, we are all constantly looking out -- toward a distant government that more or less hates us. That's what we do here.

          But I think the instinct to look IN toward community is reaching ascendancy. You can see it in states that want to secede on the right, and eco-community efforts on the left. If that takes off, it could be a game changer.

          I think the US would be much better off a little less united.

          ::
          The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

          by Pluto on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:49:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Amen Brother/Sister. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pluto

            I'm tired of caring about what some ass living 3,000 miles away thinks about my right to smoke a joint and pay the taxes necessary to get a decent education for my kids.

            My thesis is this: real community cannot exist among 300,000,000 people. We are far too spread out physically. We hold beliefs that are too wildly divergent. Our fates may be tied together, but we have literally no way of physically connecting all of these people together in a meaningful way. Even a tea partier thinks their next door neighbor deserves that kidney transplant they can't afford. The problem comes when 10,000 people living thousands of miles apart need a kidney transplant. Maybe people like you and I can conceptualize of the problem, and what fixes would be needed to solve it, but for most people it turns into a meaningless, unemotional abstraction.

        •  Yes, fuck the federal level, except for genuinely (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          2020adam

          Progressive candidates.  But we must have a national movement to oppose corporate power by the only peaceful means left to us, or they will consolidate the immense power they already have.  

          We cannot abandon thinking at the national level.

          •  Honestly, I would really prefer to just... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MrJayTee

            ignore the corporations. I'm ready to start my back yard garden. I'm not saying I'll never need a corporation (or even a multinational corporation) for anything. But I think we can all drastically cut back on our over-reliance on organizations that only mean us harm.

            I hear what you're saying, and I see the legitimate point. I just think we can be massively more effective if we shore ourselves up at the local level first, making sure we can survive if the corporations decide they ain't too happy with our actions.

            But we're here in the intertoob age, so clearly we're the multitasking type. No reason we can't work on both areas at once.

  •  walzer's critique of obama (6+ / 0-)

    seems pretty fair and he may be right that only incremental change is now possible. but what i'll always bemoan is how the administration got caught totally flat footed out of the gate. two biggest mistakes--underestimating the severity of the economic downturn and underestimatng republican intransigency. you make two mistakes of this magnitude at the inception of your presidency and you've basically torpedoed your chance to move an ambitious agenda.  gotta wonder what Team Obama was up to during the transition, cuz it certanly doesn't seem like they did the hard work (oganizational, conceptual and strategic) necessary to hit the ground running when they took office.

    •  You are Absolutely Right about those Two (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      geomoo, imperturb

      ...mistakes, IMO. Bipartisanship and the economy.

      The economy catastrophe was my particular bailiwick, so his total cluelessness about that drove me nuts from the beginning of the campaign.

      The partisan blindness I will never understand. The Republican terrorists had people so whipped up that they were carrying guns to Obama town halls and the schools in my town would not allow Obama to speak to children on the television -- as if he was Osama bin Laden.

      And, still he couldn't buy a vowel and solve the puzzle.

      He did America a terrible disservice with his ignorant idealism. Perhaps some permanent damage.

      ::
      The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

      by Pluto on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:26:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  on the bipartisanship thng-- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, 2020adam

        While it is true that Obama was elected to be President of the United States, it is also true that he was elected to be a Democratic President, and the Democratic part of the equation carries a weight of expectation that needs to be honored and cannot be cavalierly sloughed off.  In fact, given the insane partisanship of the Republicans, it is really incumbent on Obama to be more of a partisan Democrat than he would temperamentally pefer to be.  His disinclination to stake out Democratic ground and assume an adversarial posture vis a vis the Republicans has resulted in him getting rolled by them.

        •  Bingo, when he got kudos everywhere (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          imperturb

          with his emphasis on being the President for all, not just the Democrats, and I agree but what I voted for (phone banked, email, etc.) was for him to do so representing the platform of the Democratic Party .  It was like he saw no qualified persons on the Democratic side when selecting people (like Judd Gregg, to name just one example) for key positions and had quickly shed himself of all the Progressive voices, or relegating them to positions of no real power on Policy.

          without the ants the rainforest dies

          by aliasalias on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:43:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  And yet he soldiers on. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ActivistGuy

      As if he's had it right all along. The bailouts are working! Tim Geithner is a genius! The markets are up! The banks are solvent again!

      I do love me some right wing talking points coming from a supposedly left-of-center Administration.

    •  strongly disagree with your last sentence (0+ / 0-)

      What was Team Obama up to during the transition?  How about (besides the usual enormous task of transitioning from one administration to the next) taking control of two wars and a collapsing economy on the verge of a great depression.  I'd say averting that great depression more than "hit the ground running".  Sorry that while doing the hard work of taking over under dire circumstances and being busy governing, they weren't as pre-occupied with the message war in the 24/7 news and they (rightfully) assumed that the other party should help govern during a crisis of this magnitude for the good of the country.  

      save our democracy! freespeechforpeople.org

      by thoughtful3 on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:37:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That assumes (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, aliasalias, MrJayTee, 2020adam

      that they wanted to do more, move faster, go further, than they did.  If so, why start right off stuffing the administration with Rahm, Geithner, Summers and Gates?  It was a tipoff from the word go that sustaining the status quo was the top priority.

      Losing often means that you had the courage to take on a difficult cause with an unlikely outcome. ~ James Perry

      by ActivistGuy on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:59:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Tip-Off for Me Was Rick Warren (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        2020adam

        ...at the inauguration. Not that Obama could do anything about the 600 billion tons of shit that was about to drop on his idealistic head.

        ::
        The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

        by Pluto on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 11:09:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Egg-fucking-zactly. (0+ / 0-)

        The question is not, "how did Obama go wrong?"  It's, "what makes you think he was ever right?"

        No one turns on a dime from "Hope and Change" to unapologetic corportatist.  Obama is doing exactly as he intended.

      •  Quite a number of us warned about... (0+ / 0-)

        ...this when the first nominations appeared in November. We were ridiculed, of course. And reminded that it would be President Obama, not Tim Geithner, Rahm Emanuel or Larry Summers making policy. We were also told Gates would probably only hold the Defense job for a year.

        I refuse to accept "no can do" as a proper slogan for progressives.

        by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:51:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not wondering. (0+ / 0-)

      gotta wonder what Team Obama was up to during the transition, cuz it certanly doesn't seem like they did the hard work (oganizational, conceptual and strategic) necessary to hit the ground running when they took office.

      Is it really possible Obama made big plans to create big reforms then suddenly, inexplicable just couldn't do what he really, really wanted?  He didn't mean to preserve Bush's enormous increases in state power?  It was an accident that Goldman/Cit gang sacked the Treasury and remains utterly lawless?

      Impossible.  No one living even close to reality, no one who saw the Republicans in anything like a true light, could have made those mistakes.  Obama is doing what he intended.

      •  I Think That's Debatable (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MrJayTee

        But, then, I could argue either side.

        ::
        The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

        by Pluto on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 11:10:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Jesuit school? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pluto
        •  But seriously, Obama can't be two different (0+ / 0-)

          People, which is what is necesary for him to be both dedicated to Hope and Change, and a frank corporatist who preserves Bush's national security state.

          Obama is doing exaclty as he intended.

          •  I Have a Theory (0+ / 0-)

            That suggests a coup (within the current military coup that was already in place, of course) shortly before the inauguration.

            Or, not.

            ::
            The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

            by Pluto on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 11:30:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I think some people are very susceptible to the.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pluto

            Serious bug. They hear all these very important people telling them what the correct path is, and they compare that advice to what people standing outside the gate are saying. Suddenly there are daily National Security briefings and you have access to all sorts of cool Top Secret info, surely making you (and the people advising you) much more knowledgeable and Serious.

            I'd love to say I wouldn't change at all after my first tour inside Area 51. I can definitely tell you I wouldn't be nearly as bad as anyone running the current Administration. But who knows how much the power goes to anyone's head. Especially someone egotistical enough to win the Presidency.

            •  An interesting possibility. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              2020adam

              If so, what can we say about a man who can win the Presidency with promises hope and change, but can't resist the trappings of power and insidership for more than a few weeks?

              •  My take is the reelection complex (0+ / 0-)

                and some overweening ego.

                Obama thought he had the answers. He thought he could play the Republicans. He thought he could afford to woo the right wing by being what he thought they would see as "reasonable". He thought that everyone would end up singing Kumbayah.

                He underestimated their implacable hatred and intransigency. He underestimated their cunning and lack of morality. He was naive.

                I know that is hard to believe about someone out of Chicago politics, but I really think that's it.

                He actually thought that if he played the field their way on their hot button issues, like the financial crisis and national security, they'd come over to him.

                He failed to realize that in the non-reality-based universe the Rethugs operate in, any issue can be a hot button issue to be played if there is political capital to be gained.

                Maybe, if we're lucky, he's learned.

                •  He served with them, ran against them (0+ / 0-)

                  Saw everything they were capable of in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but was somehow utterly and unexpectedly gobsmacked by early 2009?

                  I don't see how that's possible.  Anyone who's ego is so overweening that he thinks he can play nice with the Republicans after seeing and experiencing what Obama saw and experienced would have to be mentally ill.  One thing I don't think of Obama is that he's mentally ill.

                  I understand the desire to believe there is hope left for the man, but given what's happened so far, to me that's wishful thinking.

              •  We can say he wasn't as strong as we thought. (0+ / 0-)

                And maybe he wasn't as strong as he thought.

                I think he's a smart man. A good man. Even through all the trappings of office, a significant part of me believes that he still knows what is right.

                •  In the context of the Presidency of the most (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  2020adam

                  powerful country that ever existed, doesn't "wasn't as strong as we thought" simply mean "dangerously weak"?  What does that promise for the country?

                  I don't believe Obama is in the least a weak person.  How could anyone who's come as far as he has be weak?

                  As I said above, I understand the desire to believe there is hope left for the man, but given what's happened so far, to me that's wishful thinking.  The will to believe what is not in evidence is poison to the believer.

                  •  Oh you can definitely get that far, (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    MrJayTee

                    and still be a weak person. George W. Bush is clearly an incredibly weak man. Bill Clinton clearly has some pretty glaring weaknesses.

                    It really sucks, because the psychology of these people is the thing I find the most interesting, yet evidence-free speculation (of the sort I offer here) is all we will ever get. There's just no good way of knowing what the hell these people are ever thinking.

                    •  I think I see what you mean, but (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      2020adam

                      I'm assuming Bush was picked up and placed where he was, whatever his office, and that Obama, whatever his flaws, progressed on his own as much as a politician can.

                      Now that you made your point, it's clear that I saw Bush as an exception.  Do you think Obama was put in office by "higher forces"?

                      •  Hm. Very good question. (0+ / 0-)

                        I haven't the slightest clue. I kind of tend to stick with occam's razor on this kind of question. I'd err on the side of saying even Bush wasn't put in office by "higher forces".

                        I think part of what you're seeing, though, is my general assumption that it doesn't take nefarious plots for the world to turn to shit.

                  •  And yes, incredibly dangerous. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    MrJayTee

                    I might think the President is good, somewhere in his core (whatever the hell that means). But there is no question that weakness in the leader of our country is a very dangerous trait.

            •  Actually, I Mark the First (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              2020adam

              ...National Security Briefing as the day it happened. Obama changed that day. His face upon leaving that briefing...

              ::
              The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

              by Pluto on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:16:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Ya know, dear MB (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, Situational Lefty

    sometimes reading the stuff from 2003 (which is more or less when I started lurking here) just makes me so tired.  It goes on and on.  And, heaven knows, I haven't been engaged (as you have) for six decades.

    Blessings and profound thanks.

    "Let reverence for the laws . . . become the political religion of the nation." ~ Abraham Lincoln

    by noweasels on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:02:34 PM PST

  •  Plant based plastics? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Pluto, JML9999, 2020adam

    Earlier this week, IBM researchers announced a discovery that could lead to plastics made from plants instead of petroleum. The new plastics will be more energy efficient, more versatile, and infinitely recyclable (until we move to our space colony).

    The discovery was made at IBM's Almaden Research Center in Northern California in cooperation with scientists at Stanford University. IBM's press release, hitting just about every eco-friendly buzzword there is, makes it sound like a pretty big deal:

    via Gizmodo

    ............................ The Public Option IS the compromise.

    by ctsteve on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:12:20 PM PST

  •  If so, what planet had Obama been living on? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, 2020adam

    ...and the fierceness of the opposition, which I don’t think he expected.

    For the past 20 years, that is.

    Never say die while there's a shot in the locker.

    by masswaster on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:13:22 PM PST

  •  Now is not the time for incrementalism. (4+ / 0-)

    Incrementalism is for those who don't understand the economic fundamentals well enough to see the downward economic spiral (death spiral) we're in. It's about like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Incremental measures will not work within the time-frame remaining to save this economy (and the country).

  •  I linked to two other 2003 diaries from March 10 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto

    in tonight's Top Comments diary. Funny how things like that come in twos tonight.

    (I went looking for a comment of yours to highlight, but you were off-line until the 19th.)

    © sardonyx; all rights reserved

    by sardonyx on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:37:23 PM PST

  •  Meteor Blades (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    noweasels, Situational Lefty

    This is the best Night Owl Thread ever!

    The best minds, the best ideas, the best analysis, the best fodder, the best people.

    Thanks.

    ::
    The Pluto Chronicles. You want reality? You can't handle reality!

    by Pluto on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:37:39 PM PST

  •  Egyptian Sarcophagus (h/t US Customs Officer) (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pam from Calif, Pluto, jlms qkw, 2020adam

    In 2008, an ancient Egyptian coffin in a shipping crate raised the suspicions of a customs agent at the Miami, Florida, airport.  For the past two years, the ornate sarcophagus has been at the heart of an international mystery and investigation. The ancient artifact was returned to Egyptian possession Wednesday.

    The painted wooden coffin, in the shape of an Egyptian man in a state of repose, took center stage at the National Geographic Society Wednesday, quite literally.

    The empty 3,000-year-old sarcophagus was at the center of a transfer ceremony as U.S. officials handed over the apparently smuggled artifact to Egypt's chief of antiquities.

    VOA

    Thanks to an alert Customs Officer in Miami in 2008, a sarcophagus illegally smuggled out of Egypt four decades ago is now on its way back to the museum in Cairo where it belongs.  Good work!

    "Let reverence for the laws . . . become the political religion of the nation." ~ Abraham Lincoln

    by noweasels on Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 10:42:43 PM PST

  •  He did more than just ignore his father (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pam from Calif, Pluto, jlms qkw, 2020adam

    George Bush watched while his people in his administration damned near called Daddy Bush an appeaser for leaving Saddam Hussein in power.  Daddy Bush considered the containment of Saddam Hussein to be one of the achievements of his administration.  But to the neo-nuts who surrounded the son, he was an appeaser.  

    I couldn't imagine JFK standing idly by while members of his administration took shots at Joe Kennedy.  

    And a comment:

    This is an incrementalist time, and the crucial thing is to get the increments right. The economic crisis and the two wars that Obama inherited make this difficult for our embattled president–and the fierceness of the opposition, which I don’t think he expected, makes things even harder.

    I don't buy this for one minute.  Obama was a Senator and knew what Washington was all about.  I think he believed he could "deal" his way through healthcare, get a bill right away, and then concentrate on everything else.  I don't think it was naivete.  I think it was arrogance.  

  •  Lawrence Odonnell was pathetic wednesday (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, tardis10

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...

    dems rarely campaign on family values

    this obsession over others' sexuality is creepy

  •  Bush 1 would have invaded Iraq, if (0+ / 0-)

    it weren't for the  APRIL GLASPIE TRANSCRIPT, which indicates that we pretty much gave Saddam the green light to invade Kuwait. The world seen the Kuwait deal was propped-up and it would've been too hard to build a coalition to get Saddam with such a botched set-up job.
    Bush 2 used manufactured/cherry-picked intelligence for his set-up job, which was successful.
    Republicans have been salivating over Iraq's oil for several decades, and I get the feeling there will be a new justification that will keep us in Iraq for a litttttttttttle longer than what the general public might think.

  •  Resolved: Regulations recast as consumer protecti (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, Mike Taylor

    ion

    I just saw this clip of Michael Moore and Rachel Maddow discussing the conservatives love of deregulation.  

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...

    Why don't progressives stop using the term "regulation" and instead use "consumer protection?"

    Regulation sounds like the Man is intruding in YOUR privacy, like YOU are part of some machine that has gears and levers and belts.  

    Who could be against consumer protection?  After all, the term brings to mind clean food (free of vermin and factory workers who have been accidentally ground up), safe drugs, and the idea of a security guard vigilant for thieves (the corporate bandits).

  •  What pain are we raining down on Baucus? (0+ / 0-)

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...

    That selfish bastard.

  •  Michael Walzer has given the best defense (0+ / 0-)

    of incrementalism that I've heard recently. I'll have to think hard about it.

    But his demand that something else has to go along with it is absolutely crucial. It took the right wing at least 30 years to build a tight multilevel operation that inserted its tentacles into all facets of American government and media. It took awhile before they learned to have short but sweet talking points that they could all spout in every direction at every opportunity. It took awhile for them to insert their pet talking heads and subversive operatives all over the place.

    You want me to accept incrementalism, you better not neglect that second level of required work. Stop stepping all over progressives and start promoting them and their ideas.

    Or this Dem will NEVER give any of you another dollar (when and if I ever have any available.)

  •  Poppy was covering his backside. (0+ / 0-)

    He, of all people, was aware that his son never did what he was told.  That's why he went public.  
    It's tragic that the worst aspects of monarchies were foisted on our democracy.  History is replete with imbeciles ascending to the throne.  Now the royalists among us have one of their own.

    http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

    by hannah on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:45:23 AM PST

  •  Fantastic animation about Stuff (0+ / 0-)

    http://www.storyofstuff.com

    Colbert had the author Annie Leonard on his show

  •  Bush Sr was always... (0+ / 0-)
    a pragmatist, not an ideologue, which is why the right hates him so much.
  •  Movement (0+ / 0-)
    This analysis seems weak to me.  What Walzer and others do not say is that there was a strong working-class base to the radical movement, but it was lost during the late 20th century due to manic overemphasis upon the persecuted groups-women, homosexuals, and minorities.  That, would mean a reconsideration of the politics involved in such emphasis-not the general principle of helping such groups, but the way it was carried out.  We need to return to a more universal, social democratic, approach.
  •  NLRB (0+ / 0-)

    I mean things like putting some aggressive liberal/leftists on the National Labor Relations Board,

    Just having fair-minded people on the NLRB would be a HUGE improvement over the previous President.

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