Skip to main content

Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky (Duncan Rawlinson/Icon Photography School)

Some years ago, I watched a documentary about Noam Chomsky, and while I agree with much but far from all of his political opinions, and strongly disagree with his structural linguistics, one brief segment of the film particularly stuck with me. The question was why a man of Chomsky's intellect and credentials is never allowed onto the opinion pages of our major print media, and is never interviewed by our major broadcast media. Some Important Person from the traditional media (if I recall, it was Jeff Greenfield, then of ABC News) explained that television only works with people who are adept at making concise and easily framed arguments. Chomsky's response to the filmmakers was that he is very capable of creating TV sound bites, and that the real problem is that his opinions fall so far outside what the TV world considers the mainstream, and when one offers a viewpoint that is systematically excluded from the national media conversation one needs a little more time just to present the paradigm and background. And in that answer Chomsky provided an important lesson to liberals in general, even those who are not as far to the left or as outside the traditional mainstream as is Chomsky. And in that answer Chomsky also provided a lesson to we liberals even in how we should be approaching discussions and conversations among ourselves.

Last week, the rhetoric of Cornel West created a small firestorm in some progressive circles, particularly among the more ardent supporters of President Obama. West is to the left of the left on the American political spectrum, and from an ideological standpoint it is no surprise that he would have plenty of problems with the Obama presidency. But West's rhetoric became personal, questioning the president's values on the basis of aspects of the president's background and upbringing. And West having leveled such criticism, some of the president's more ardent supporters responded in kind, attacking West personally, and even by making personal attacks on those who agree with some of West's criticism of the president. It did not make for a productive dialogue, and while it degenerated as it progressed, it began with West's own words. West has valid and important things to say about the president's approach to policy and politics, but by personalizing it he guaranteed that many wouldn't hear what in that criticism was valid and important. West is not a psychiatrist or psychologist, and he has no great insights into the childhood and upbringing of a man with whom he has no intimate relationship, so his criticism in this case was highly inflammatory and completely lacking in intellectual credibility. Which was unfortunate, because it shut down any legitimate conversation before any such conversation could even begin.

Anyone who has paid attention to West through the years knows that he has a massive intellect, an equally massive ego, and a penchant for using outlandish and at times inflammatory rhetoric. One need not attempt an amateur psychological analysis of West to recognize both the strengths and weaknesses of his arguments and his argumentative style, and one easily can agree with his criticism of President Obama's economic policies without mentioning the president's personal background. In fact, an even more plausible explanation for the president's apparent economic ideology can be made on a more abstract basis. The president is not an economist. He is very intellectually curious. He taught law at the University of Chicago. He undoubtedly met and spent some time talking to other professors at the University of Chicago. Some of them undoubtedly were economists. The University of Chicago is so much the world's center of neoliberal economic theory that the ideology itself often is called "Chicago School." Read Naomi Klein. And when you add the fact that Obama was teaching at Chicago just when President Clinton was leading the Democratic Party's embrace of neoliberalism, it's not hard to conclude that an intellectually curious young man might have absorbed some ideas that were far to the right of West's self-described non-Marxist socialism. And beyond his obvious intellectual curiosity, one need not pretend to understand anything about Barack Obama the man to reach such a conclusion. West's argument is with Obama's policies and what they suggest about his economic ideology, it is not with Barack Obama the man. By making the conversation about Barack Obama the man, West prevented his argument about Obama's policies and economic ideology from even being heard.

In a similar vein, some of the discussion about President Obama's economic policies— in the blogs and elsewhere— has degenerated into rhetorical devices that also shut down conversation before it can begin. It has to do with the view some hold that the president is weak and that he too readily caves in to Republicans. That in itself is a fair argument to make. It is an argument that will provoke heated reactions, and one expounding it had best be prepared to defend it, but there is nothing in the argument itself that should be considered out of bounds. It is controversial but it should not be considered inflammatory. And I write that as one who doesn't agree with the argument; as I have previously elucidated, I do not think the president is at all weak, and as indicated above I think his economic choices are best explained on ideological grounds. But this argument does become highly and legitimately inflammatory when it veers into rhetorical devices that are, likely at times unintentionally, profoundly hurtful. Very specifically, it is the use of the word "balls." It is not uncommon to see the phrase "has no balls" used as synonymous with lacking strength or courage, and for years some given to more heated rhetoric have used the phrase to criticize Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid or even House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as various other leading Democrats both on the national and local levels. But using that phrase changes the nature of the argument. First because it is sexist. And until any of we men go through childbirth, or endure the social ostracism that women still face when they choose never to have children, we can only speak of strength and courage in relative terms. But when that term is applied to a black man, it also evokes powerfully painful images of the most extreme racism.

I'm guessing that most who use the words "has no balls" in reference to President Obama aren't thinking about this nation's long, vicious history of emasculating and lynching black men, but I'm hoping that anyone now reading this will stop and consider how those words impact people who know or knew people, or who had ancestors who suffered such unthinkable violence. Because they do exist. And it does impact them. Sometimes excruciatingly viscerally. And it is not even remotely necessary to cause them such pain. And their participation in politics and in political dialogue should never be the source of such pain. Particularly when they are among fellow progressives and liberals. One can attempt to make the case that President Obama is weak without using words that are lacerating to others. This is not a plea for censorship, but it is a plea for sensitivity and consideration. It is an attempt to raise consciousness. And it is an attempt to improve the quality of political dialogue such that controversial arguments can be made and challenged without them descending into personal animosities. Words matter. Our choices about words matter. And that is where this point expands to the entire approach we on the left often must take when writing about politics, in general.

One of the reasons I first was drawn to the reality-based community was that it attempts to ground itself in verifiable facts and sound arguments. That doesn't at all mean that there will be but one acceptable view on any given issue, but it does mean that people for the most part do try to make arguments they can defend. Rhetorical fireballs are not uncommon, but they usually have supporting evidence to back them. But in the wider national political conversation, we on the left often are left out. This is where we get back to Chomsky's point. And the obvious veracity of his point is even more absurd when one looks at the polling on many leading issues, because it is common to read or hear that we are a center-right nation— so common that we often read it in comments even in the liberal blogs— but on the issues, the polling shows we liberals actually are the mainstream. From single payer health care and a public option, to raising taxes on the wealthy, to getting out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to ending Don't Ask Don't Tell and legalizing gay marriage, to defending Social Security and Medicare and unions, the public is liberal. We could go on and on. But the traditional media will glide right by those facts and continually reinforce the agendas of their classist corporatist owners, not infrequently at the expense of the truth.

The traditional media exclude or marginalize most liberal voices. They want liberalism to remain foreign to the national political dialogue. And that places an extra burden on we who are attempting to break through their fog of disinformation. Not only do we have to take extra care to be right, but we often have to take care in how we present our views. We have to be extra attentive and careful in considering the words and rhetorical devices we choose to use. We are not attempting merely to reinforce our own beliefs and understandings, and we are not attempting merely to inspire the already generally like-minded. We are attempting to reach people to whom the information and opinions we offer may sound foreign— even if they generally agree with us! We have to be cognizant that even many already inclined to agree with us on many issues don't have easy access to information that is deliberately made more difficult for them to obtain. So if we are going to deliver information to them we have to do it such that it will be received.  We have to remind them by the very manner of our approach that we are not different or frightening or shrill or radical, rather we are very much in agreement with them, and we have to make it safe for them to recognize those points of agreement, and safe for them to validate their own views. It sounds easy, but it is not. People too often vote against their own beliefs and their own self-interests because they are being deliberately manipulated by those who have no interest at all in their well-being. From narrowly focused wedge issues to obfuscations and distractions and misdirections to plain old lies, there are too many tools too easily available to those that still control the most powerful forms of mass media.

With the internet, we on the left have a historically unique opportunity to shatter what long has been a calcified norm. A politically and socially debilitating and degrading calcified norm. But the internet is only a tool. How we use it matters. Having access to important information isn't enough. How we use it matters. How we communicate matters. Words matter.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by A Perfect Conversation.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  I agree, with the exception of (12+ / 0-)

      the description of "weak."  I do not believe a "weak" black man could become POTUS.  Rather, I think it is simply President Obama's "stlye," of seeking compromise, which was evident in his Harvard days and is probably a by- product of his environment as a youth.  

      •  and i've said it many times (13+ / 0-)

        i don't think he is at all weak. but i do think people can argue that he is without it being inflammatory.

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:24:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't see him as at all weak (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jayden, Laurence Lewis

          but rather not able to use his strengths at maximum effectiveness. He fails to own the narrative seemingly out of fear of turning people away from listening to his argument.

          I can understand that because I do the same thing. The big difference is that Obama is a lot smarter and more in command of the spoken English language than I am. I expect more of him.

          Unapologetically pro-citizen. Not anti-corporation just very pro-citizen.

          by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:52:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  to me, the main factor seems to be (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bornfdup, yaque, Absalom

            that he isn't the ideological progressive many progressives projected him to be. i think he has neoliberal leanings on economic issues, and also buys too much into a hawkish framing of many security and foreign policy issues.

            The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

            by Laurence Lewis on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:50:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think many progressives bought into the argument (6+ / 0-)

              that, during the campaign, Obama had to run in the idealogical center, and later would govern from a more liberal position. Imagine their surprise to find Obama governing from a position even further to the right. In fact he seems, more often than not, and especially on major issues, to triangulate against the left. The result, as I saw it, was that he lost the left, and Congress, in 2010.

              "It is forbidden to kill, unless in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." - Voltaire

              •  What about those campaign positions though? (5+ / 0-)

                On many issues, Obama has reversed himself from his campaign stance. In no particular order and with the realization that I will miss several:

                1) transparency in governing
                2) the importance of the whistle blower
                3) the need to shut down Guantanamo
                4) the need for accountability in government
                5) the importance of a public option
                6) the need for controls on the surveillance state
                7) the need to end the Bush tax cuts for the rich
                8) the importance of due process, even when dealing with terrorists
                9 the need for fair trade agreements rather than free trade agreements

                So, it wasn't just that Obama did what he said he would and liberals were just fooling themselves. Obama actually has betrayed some important principles that he said he supported.

                Beyond that, Obama has advanced some mighty peculiar arguments that one could not have predicted from the campaign:

                1) the President can bomb any country he wants without Congressional agreement
                2) the President can issue kill orders on American citizens if he thinks they are terrorists (no trial needed)
                3) the President does not need to enforce anti-torture treaties
                4) the President can condone the torture of American soldiers who give away government secrets to journalists and assume their guilt prior to trial

                So, we crazy liberals aren't just complaining that Obama isn't who we want; we are also complaining that he was deceptive about who he is. There was an element  of fraud in the campaign that we resent.

                •  Good points all, (0+ / 0-)

                  and I couldn't agree with you more. They go to my point of us finding Obama governing from the right, and triangulating against the left.

                  While I give him credit for the good he has done, more often than not, I find myself at odds with his policies. The element of fraud that you mention seems pervasive in much of his governance.

                  "It is forbidden to kill, unless in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." - Voltaire

                •  Did you read his books in 2008? (0+ / 0-)

                  Who he was and how he would govern was readily available to anyone open to see him for who he was rather than as a projection of themselves.

            •  "i think he has neoliberal leanings . . . (6+ / 0-)

              . . . on economic issues."

              This might be one of the most damaging legacies of late-20th century-US policy (not only on Obama's part) - perhaps even more so than neocon foreign policy. Because it seems so benign. "Let's make the world safe for capitalism" - a capitalism that has all but ripped apart the reality of a safe, prosperous life possibility for most people.

              I don't see any US president or major politician breaking out of that thought pattern for years to come.

              And my baby's my common sense, so don't feed me planned obsolescence.

              by vadasz on Mon May 23, 2011 at 12:31:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree, Obama is not weak (0+ / 0-)

                I think he is actually pretty strong.  When he sets his mind to doing something, he generally gets it done.  The problem is that what he wants to get done is not what Left/Liberals want.  Lets face it, he is just not liberal.  He's a moderate, who, through his unique characteristics:  black, intellectual, from a left-leaning state, considerate, thoughtful, and articulate, managed to convince everybody from the center to the far left that he was what they wanted him to be.  

                When he cares about it, he fights for it:  HCR Legacy (anything, as long as it passes);  Saving GM and Chrysler; Getting beyond the 2010 elections (even if it means cutting deals on taxes, which he may even support); getting Osama (looking strong on foreign policy); and, above all, winning re-election.  

                Anything else he "accomplished" for the Left can be viewed as a residual or side deal of the above.  DADT and UE Insurance?:  the beads he got for Manhattan (tax cuts), which boosted his approval rating and shifted the ground after the 2010 disaster;  Stimulus?:  How else to bail out the banks and save the auto industry?

                You can tell what he's "into" by what he fights for, and chooses to let drown:  EFCA, Cap/Trade, Public Option....

                If that isn't a portrait of a "strong" moderate, I don't know what is.  

        •  People who use that (0+ / 0-)

          statement of the President being weak and 'caving' into the GOP just makes me know it's time to move onto other people. It's over used, sad, and for me a total waste of my time.

          Re-Elect President Barack Obama & RECALL GOP 2012

          by Wary on Mon May 23, 2011 at 04:30:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  This is the Key Point (0+ / 0-)

      "So if we are going to deliver information to them we have to do it such that it will be received.  We have to remind them by the very manner of our approach that we are not different or frightening or shrill or radical, rather we are very much in agreement with them, and we have to make it safe for them to recognize those points of agreement, and safe for them to validate their own views."

      This is the key point of the whole diary.  To appreciate it, you have to look at what happened to the Democrat Party in the 1960's and 70's that destroyed it as a counterweight to the Corporate GOP.  When white working class Americans tuned in to the anti-war protests, feminist bra burning rallys, civil rights/race riots, and people spiking trees in the Oregon forests, they became ashamed or embarassed to be associated with the party.  Whether you agree with those issues or not, you have to admit the activists who advanced those ideologies were "different, frightening, shrill, and radical", at least compared to anything Americans had seen in their lifetimes.

      Until the Left learns to communicate in a non-threatening way, the GOP will continue to win on issues on which the Left holds advantages in public opinion.  This is hard, because it means finding real liberals who can communicate like Obama and Clinton (who are not real liberals).  Reagan was the perfect example for the Right - a real conservative (for his time-though I doubt he could be nominated today), who made "Conservatism" benign and less scary for the masses.

  •  Words do matter (20+ / 0-)

    and it makes me wonder -- what will be the equivalent of "no balls" used when, as will eventually occur, we have our first female President?

    I had never considered the historical impact of the term when I've used it -- in fact, I've used it often in jest (my spouse is a testicular cancer survivor and had one surgically removed -- and I still say that he has more balls than the average Congressional Republican, not to mention several Democrats). I can see that even at the ripe old age of [REDACTED], I still have much to learn about my country's history as a white chick.

    Now to try to end the wars we ask our gay and straight soldiers to fight. -- Chris Hayes

    by Cali Scribe on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:10:24 PM PDT

    •  They matter in more ways than one. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foufou, yaque

      This is the night T-Paw declared his candidacy and according to the Breaking note from my local paper which runs off the national news services, he did so on the basis that he has the courage Obama lacks to attack the serious problems of the nation.  This he did on the day Obama faced down AIPAC, in a speach which is linked to one of this afternoon's IP links, not by the usual folks.

      Republicans may not be geniuses, but they can recognized a meme this can use, particularly if they steal it from the Left, the people who supposedly support the incumbent candidate, or at least his party.  In a way, it is the working of the Overton window, where some '
      progressives do not accept that they are the edge, and what the existence of the window means is that the center is to their right. But there is no reason to make it easier for Rs.

  •  I'm curious as to your criticisms of Chomsky's (11+ / 0-)

    view of linguistics.  But I suppose this ain't the place to have that conversation.  ;)

    •  Oh yeah, me too. His structural linguistics is (5+ / 0-)

      just whack! I'm always going on about that!

      ...

    •  Since "words matter" ... (5+ / 0-)

      I'm curious by what LL means by "structural linguistics," since Chomsky famously critiqued structuralist linguisitics for being insufficient. This was a topic of much conversation for us leftist procrastinating grad students. Good old Wiki provides a great quotation encapsulating Noam's view of structuralist linguistics---it is an "impoverished and thoroughly inadequate conception of language." A minor point in the scheme of your excellent blog post, however, dear Laurence!

      There are moments when the body is as numinous as words, days that are the good flesh continuing. -- Robert Hass

      by srkp23 on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:38:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In Many Respects, Professor Chomsky (20+ / 0-)

        Chomsky's response to the filmmakers was that he is very capable of creating TV sound bites

        ... is a brilliant man.  But I do think, not unlike many liberal intellectuals, he is not very good at communicating on television to a mass audience.

        I wrote this comment a few weeks ago and it could also be applicable to intellectuals like Professor Chomsky

        Secretary Robert Reich's Speaking Style

        ... reminds me of a C-Span program that I saw several years ago and one that featured the late economist John Kenneth Galbreath. Galbreath said that one of the reasons that New Deal policies were successful was that intellectuals were able to explain the need for such policies in simple terms and sell the need for FDR's programs by not invoking boring, technocratic economic theories.  

        The closest anyone comes to that is Robert Reich, who, unlike, Paul Krugman is not an economist but a political economist and a lawyer. This distinction is important as political economists are grounded in international relations (something I myself know a thing or two about) and understand the intersection of politics and economics whereas economists are far too obsessed with rationality alone, something I'm not a fan of although, to be fair, Krugman does a better job than most other economists.  I strongly believe that there is a large element of irrationality inbuilt into domestic politics.  Moreover, as I said in a comment a few weeks ago, I largely agree with Harry Truman's assessment on the usefulness of economists in the political arena.

        We could use more people like Robert Reich who speak persuasively, with clarity, and have the unique ability to explain complex subjects in easy-to-understand terms.  That's how you win more converts over to your side.

        •  ya mean like this?! (7+ / 0-)
          RBReich Robert Reich
          by emptywheel
          What do you get when you add Mitt's health care, Huntsman's China policy, Pawlenty's cap-and-trade, and Newt's take on Ryan? The Obama adm.
          15 minutes

          What if the hokey pokey is what it's all about?

          by Julie Gulden on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:20:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Chomsky makes a good point though (7+ / 0-)

          It's not just about being able to speak persuasively and with clarity.

          There are a set of ideas and ways of speaking about the world that frame our understanding of the world and how it works.  Conservatives have thoroughly dominated this discourse over the last 35 years, and completely redefined the public's understanding of the purpose of government, what 'freedom' means, whether there are alternatives to capitalism, etc.  Everyone, conservative and liberal now has to contend with this set of ideas that have passed into "common sense".

          So you may be right about Chomsky's speaking ability, but beyond that, there is the problem that Chomsky's ideas are so foreign to the new common sense, that there is literally no way to present them in 30 second soundbites.  They can be, and are, simply dismissed out-of-hand as naive nonsense.  In order to win a debate, Chomsky has to argue against a worldview built over 35 years, while his opponent has merely to call him a Marxist.

          The problem is the need to educate people so they have some basis of understanding an argument.  Simply coming up with cutting soundbites is not enough.  The Republicans have spend 35 years arguing that tax cuts create jobs, bring prosperity, and are necessary for competition.  While Reich's NBA comment may be clever, it does nothing to challenge that.

          To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

          by sneakers563 on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:57:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Problem Many Liberal Intellectuals (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            foufou, 417els, willkath, Deoliver47, yaque

            ... like Professor Chomsky have (brilliant as they may be) is a fear of sounding too simplistic in public were they to speak in easy-to-understand terms.  There is a time for academic seminars and then there is the political arena.

            I gave examples of Galbreath and Reich as two intellectuals who were/are capable of conveying complex ideas to the general public.  Galbreath (when he was still alive) and Reich do not necessarily necessarily speak in soundbites. You may be confusing clarity with soundbites.  Some of the best writers in the English language (Ernest Hemingway comes to mind) wrote in simple sentences and, yet, communicated very effectively.  Liberal academics would do well to emulate the Hemingways of the world.

            I can name you several liberal academics (brilliant in their own fields) who, on television, come across as vague, wishy-washy, and unable to get their messages across.  If Galbreath and Reich can succeed brilliantly, so can others. As much as I enjoy reading these publications, most of the public does not read the New York Review of Books, London Review of Books, or, even, the New Yorker let alone obscure academic journals.  The public gets most of their ideas from the mass media, notably television.  The Republicans understand that very well.

            In a country where almost three out of four adults do not have a four-year college degree, it is essential to have good communications skills in order to advance your ideas.  Reich's NBA comment is only one example of defining what "average tax cuts" mean to the public.  I have been reading his books, articles, and watching him debate others on television for a long time.

            You say the public needs to be educated to be open to and accept different ideas like Professor Chomsky's.  How do you do that if you cannot effectively communicate such ideas in the first place?

            •  I think a lot of this comes down to (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JekyllnHyde, sneakers563

              these "liberal intellectuals" forgetting what it is that people care most about when they pull that lever/color that circle--the ideals of the man/woman/party they are voting for/against. Ideals can be explained quite simply (usually); "I am for a government that can protect me."
              BLAM!
              What that means is manifold--using myself as an example, as a liberal, I want protection from big business, mostly, from ruining my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness--but the statement itself is short and comprehensible to all, especially when opposed by someone who actually disagrees.
              The problem arises because most of the people on our side don't start with that kind of "big picture" statement, instead choosing to go straight to the meaning of it, without actually stating it. Most, if not all lefty commentators/pols start their discussions by talking about policies, or enemies, or even specific examples of how a governmental program helped a "friend" of theirs. Those discussions are helpful if someone agrees with you, but useless when trying to explain what you believe in, because no one will put those pieces of your puzzle together in their own head. It's simply too much data to process in the short time you have their attention. Make the bold, declarative statement first, then back it up with your stories and examples. Odds are, the listener will forget your supporting evidence, but will hopefully remember your stated ideals. We know this is what happens, because a common charge against liberals is that people "don't know what they stand for." That, and the fact that the Republican Party still exists and still wins elections.

              •  Except that (0+ / 0-)

                the Republicans have convinced half the country that what they really want is to be protected from government.  'A government that can protect me' is about the last thing they want, since they dispute that government is even capable of such a thing.

                I agree with the sentiment, but there are prior arguments about the nature of government and what it means to protect the citizenry that need to be won.

                To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

                by sneakers563 on Mon May 23, 2011 at 11:32:39 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Chomsky isn't a liberal (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              genocideisnews

              One of his first important essays is titled "The Menace of Liberal Scholarship".  Chomsky is an Anarchist.

            •  I totally agree with you on a lot of this (0+ / 0-)

              But I also think that the Republicans have spent decades creating a totalizing discourse that makes it easy for them to present their ideas simply and forcefully.  They don't have to explain why capitalism is superior to all other economic systems, because that idea has been accepted as "common sense", or truth, by nearly everyone (at least in the US).  They don't have to defend conflating economic freedom with freedom generally, because that too has passed into common sense.  They don't get bogged down because the core principles underlying their argument are known and accepted.  Challenging those ideas is possible, but requires substantially more work and time.

              I agree with you that a lot of liberals come across as vague, wishy-washy, and unable to get their messages across.  But I think it is not just because they are poor speakers, but is also a direct result of a prior failure to prevent right-wing narratives from becoming accepted truths.  It severely limits the ways that liberals can argue.  For instance, as much as I like Reich, Krugman and others, their arguments are largely reactive.  They can point out that Republicans are full of it, but actually presenting an alternative is extremely difficult on a conventional news show.

              To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

              by sneakers563 on Mon May 23, 2011 at 11:24:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  couldn't disagree more... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          willkath, genocideisnews

          I could listen to Chomsky endlessly... but I'll grant you I'm probably not normal.

        •  I just finished "Words that work" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JekyllnHyde

          Bought it used too.

          Plutocracy too long tolerated leaves democracy on the auction block, subject to the highest bidder ~ Bill Moyers

          by Lefty Coaster on Sun May 22, 2011 at 10:41:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  heh (0+ / 0-)

        i consider him to be within a structural framework, even if not traditionally structuralist.

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:47:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  joke about Obama (9+ / 0-)

    Bush created the Bush doctrine, preemptive attack

    Obama created the doctrine of preemptive surrender

    A primary helped him in 2008. Perhaps one would also help in 2012.

    I can imagine a Democratic candidate saying to him in a debate:

    When are we doing to see Democratic policies from a Democratic President? So far, you have implemented the Bush/Bernanke Bank relief plan, aka QE1 and QE2 or the stimulus. You have implemented Bush's tax cuts. You passed Romney's health care plan. You're even continuing most of Bush's foreign policy.

    You're even attacking whistle blowers as part of a rhetorical attack on lobbyists and corruption.

    It does not make sense. Please explain.

    This would be an effective counterbalance to the crisis GOP who call Obama socialist until they want to be bailed out from floods, from foreign competition, and even from domestic competition, all in the name of the free market.

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:10:57 PM PDT

    •  yes but... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      majcmb1, Bush Bites

      It could backfire & demobilize the base, thus repeating 2010

      Catch St. Louis' progressive talk show, The Murdock Report, every Tuesday @ noon! Stream or download it: www.wgnu920am.com I do the twit thing too @Smokin'JoeWGNU Remember, there's nothing free about Free Markets!

      by Da Rat Bastid on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:17:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe that would teach so-called Democrats ... (0+ / 2-)
        Recommended by:
        Hidden by:
        Albanius, Dion

        that effing over the progressives isn't good policy. I'd vote for a Yellow Dog before I'd vote for Obama, and if that Yellow Dog is a Republican so be it.

        •  Barack Obama is worse than a Yellow Dog? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dion, agoldnyc
          cdembrey's Profile

          Progressive Republican. They haven't had any progressive candidates for years so I have been voting for the lesser of two evils, ie Democratic :-)

          •  The problem is,... (0+ / 0-)

            that even if you could primary Obama, which I think is a poor idea, there is no alternative on the Dem side.  To get where you want to go (if it's not the current national trajectory), you need the following recipe in a candidate:

            1.  Candidate who is dedicated to your ideology, who truly believes what you believe.
            2.  Candidate must have charisma, style, and great communication skills.
            3.  Candidate must be persuasive, and able to appeal to something deep inside a person in order to get that person to listen to something new, and perhaps change their point of view.  This is an intangible, but we know it when we see it.
            4.  Candidate with no personal scandals and/or split personality that will expose them as frauds (i.e. no John Edwards/Bill Clinton types).
            5.  A bit of luck and the right circumstances (probably the same thing).

            In the last 100 years, we've had exactly four of these presidents:  Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Kennedy, and Reagan.  Despite their charisma and communication skills, neither Clinton nor Obama were true believers, and you can't even start counting if you can't get past number 1.

            A primary with the crew we've got, wouldn't do anything but make a walk-over into a tough re-election, at best.  Stick with BHO, and just be glad the GOP can't implement the harshest parts of their agenda.

          •  Don't know much about history ??? (0+ / 1-)
            Recommended by:
            Hidden by:
            Dion
            Yellow Dog Democrats was a term applied to U.S. Southern voters who voted solely for Democratic candidates, with the term commencing in the late 19th century. Due to Republican president Abraham Lincoln's leading the Union against the Confederacy, these voters would allegedly "vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for any Republican".[1][2] Currently, the term is now more generally applied to refer to any Democrat who will vote a straight Party ticket under any circumstances.
             http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            BTW the last Republican I voted for was Richard Nixon. He was a Keynesian, something that can't be said about Obama.

    •  He doesn't have to debate anybody. (0+ / 0-)

      He has it locked up.

      Even if you talk somebody into running against him -- Dennis will be out of a job soon, he might be interested -- he'll just be a fly buzzing around.

      Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

      by Bush Bites on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:50:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And just how many presidents who have been (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        foufou, yaque, agoldnyc

        primaried on the reelection have prevailed in the general. . It sounds like fun to some but the effects are consistently not at all funny.

        As the wild primaries of 2008 should have shown us, it is not necessarily helpful to spend so much intraparty energy tearing down candidates of our party, which can be picked through and reinforced by the other party, which would swear off primaries and the things their kiddies say in them that return to haunt them if it could. Particularly this tea-infused cycle.

        •  exactly right (0+ / 0-)

          It would have to be a more respectful than usual primary with none of that hate or dog whistle politics.

          "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

          by agoldnyc on Mon May 23, 2011 at 09:04:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Is this a blog post? Thank you for the (20+ / 0-)

    best piece of political writing I've read recently. This is so well-composed and thoughtful that I want to print it out so I can re-read and consider your points and make notes. Thanks very much for your ideas and the way in which you express them.

    Pareto Principle: 20% of the people do 80% of the work.

    by jeff in nyc on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:12:15 PM PDT

  •  Nice job, Laurence. Thanks. nt (6+ / 0-)
  •  Not sure how you can read Obama's mind. (3+ / 0-)

    I always figured him for somebody a bit more liberal than his policies but one who bows, perhaps too quickly, to the political realities as seen by his advisors.

    Then, again, I don't know what he read at UC, beyond Goolsbee, who doesn't seem particularly "neoliberal" to me.

    Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

    by Bush Bites on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:13:31 PM PDT

  •  Has no balls? yeesh (4+ / 0-)

    Whatever happened to "spineless"?

    Catch St. Louis' progressive talk show, The Murdock Report, every Tuesday @ noon! Stream or download it: www.wgnu920am.com I do the twit thing too @Smokin'JoeWGNU Remember, there's nothing free about Free Markets!

    by Da Rat Bastid on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:13:38 PM PDT

  •  words do not matter (10+ / 0-)

    if they are not heard. When Pelosi, Sanders, boxer etc are given equal time on the Sunday talk shows then you might be right. Our words as of now do not really exist.

    Voting for a Republican is like letting the fox in the hen house and expecting to have fried chicken for Sunday dinner- John Lucas

    by Jlukes on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:13:49 PM PDT

  •  nicely done.... (10+ / 0-)

    thank you for light; we have enough heat already.

    And yes, words matter...

    don't always believe what you think...

    by claude on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:15:12 PM PDT

  •  It is personal with West. (7+ / 0-)

    He dislikes Obama. I wouldn't presume to know why, but he has sneered at Obama from the beginning.

  •  Yes, very thoughtful (10+ / 0-)

    And helpful. I find myself going back and forth as I read the pro-Obama/anti-Obama discussions here and elsewhere. It's only when the anti-Obama discussion becomes personal or vituperative that I find myself starting to "choose a side" rather than listen. The words we use, and the tone, can influence how people look at the issues. And the last thing progressives need is to be marginalized because we aren't getting our message across.  Especially if it's because we are not communicating well. Our message should be strong and clear. Surely we can find a way to disagree without muddying our message.

  •  Whatever the words... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Da Rat Bastid, esquimaux

    ...there is no defending folding pretty much every hand, even when the president is holding a royal flush...

    •  you saw the royal flush? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mdmslle, oblios arrow, foufou, 417els

      or did you think you saw the royal flush?
      or did someone tell you it was a royal flush?
      or did you count the cards and deduce it was a royal flush?

      The GOP is imploding before your very eyes
      and still you criticize

      the way the man
      played the hand
      he was dealt

      PS I think he is doing fine.

    •  What 88 said...and raise ya... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foufou

      How do you call a right wing majority a flush, let alone royal?

      Even after '08, with putative "Majorities", rotten with just a few Blue Dogs, that realpolitik of right wing majority plurality was sufficient, JUST BARELY, actually, to block, delay and sabotage all motion, forcing onerous compromise.

      And now it's worse, thanks at least in part to the knee jerk oppositionalist ultra negativity of so many "progressives"...like West.

      And I'm not buying the notion that this is all about personal attack, so much.  Adhominem doesn't lend credibility to any argument, but I think this is more about the propensity to promulgate a line of bullshit supposed absolute non-viability of the Prez and the Party, by West, and "progressives" who emulate that line defending West when he gets called on his jive bullshit, personal AND political.

      Democracy is the most fundamental revolutionary principle. Information is the ultimate key.

      by Radical def on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:13:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We need more outlandish/imflammatory rhetoric (7+ / 0-)

    Too much effort has been wasted on trying to prove liberals are mainstream or normal.  Embrace the reality TV nature of politics and find ways to stand out.

    One way that works, I think, is to say things and use language that people don't expect a progressive to use.

    •  there is something to that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bush Bites, aliasalias, Terranova0

      But it can and will backfire if you are reckless about it. Here in the state of Misery, a state senator was trying to fight this wealthy financier who is out to hijack the whole state by buying politicans. A real nutjob named Rex Sinquefeld. Basically, he thinks we should go back to feudalism, but with corporations in place of aristocrats.
      Anyway, my friend, state senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, comes out on our morning show and calls Rex a slave master and the politicians he has bought house slaves.
      Guess what the media picked up on?
      That's right.
      House slave.

      Catch St. Louis' progressive talk show, The Murdock Report, every Tuesday @ noon! Stream or download it: www.wgnu920am.com I do the twit thing too @Smokin'JoeWGNU Remember, there's nothing free about Free Markets!

      by Da Rat Bastid on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:31:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Guess what the media will pick up? (0+ / 0-)
        when one offers a viewpoint that is systematically excluded from the national media conversation one needs a little more time just to present the paradigm and background.

        People just are not given the time.

        So, between that and-

        use[ing] language that people don't expect a progressive to use.

        The media reporting on it can go anywhere, but I think we know which direction it'll go if possible.

        -- We are just regular people informed on issues

        by mike101 on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:44:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some language folks don't expect progressives to (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          foufou

          use because progressives are  only part of a coalition, some parts of which do not 'need' progressives to work collectively and act politically. AAs for example, despite whatever internal differences they have and their bandwidth tolerance for those particular differences. The prudent Pol does not use language that offends coalition members and makes them more likely to act independently of the progressive in the future.

          Rs may try to trade on the bandwith, the inclusion of Hip Hop and the language used therein as a trivial example,  to alienate their own backers from the whole group in question, but 'progressives' as part of the coalition containing such groups should really really think twice about it and then think again. If you piss off too many members of the coalition, it can reform without you just fine, which is not what you want to happen.

      •  She needs to double down on that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greeseyparrot, aliasalias

        And continue using the metaphor, name names of specific politicians who are Sinquefeld's house slaves.  Her supporters, perhaps, should automatically label any local politician as such.  While refusing to apologize is a good thing, refusing to revisit the terminology is still not the best language.  The media wants to talk about it, so talk about it and everything else.  Soak up that attention and keep saying the sort of things that will keep the spotlight on her.

        It would be a mistake to use such language as a throwaway comment.  The idea should be to create an extended metaphor that engages the emotions.

      •  Yeah, that worked great! Oh, wait...n/t (5+ / 0-)

        Catch St. Louis' progressive talk show, The Murdock Report, every Tuesday @ noon! Stream or download it: www.wgnu920am.com I do the twit thing too @Smokin'JoeWGNU Remember, there's nothing free about Free Markets!

        by Da Rat Bastid on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:42:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right you are Little Sir Echo, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WisePiper

          it's not as if to defeat him, a one-term Congressman in a historically conservative district, the Right-wing was forced to funnel in immense amounts of outside cash or anything.
          I can just can't wait for the crowing from the "moderates" should it finally come to pass that, after years of failure, the worst elements of this Country, those for whom even a single truly dissenting voice is intolerable, manage at long last take down Kucinich by employing both the gerrymander and outspending him 10 to 1. By God then you all will really have an example to point to, proof positive of the public's rejection of the "far" Left.

          Alito. Kennedy. Roberts. Scalia. Thomas. More important than ever: ERA NOW!

          by greeseyparrot on Sun May 22, 2011 at 08:19:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  K may be taking himself down by trying to get (0+ / 0-)

            people from a state he does not live in, WA, to nominate him for the new congressional seat, thought to be near the state capitol in the center of the western part of that state, or, as a supposedly viable alternative, the state which the most prominent D candidate for governer would vacate to take that role, in a different part of the state entirely. How is he supposed to convince the folk of Ohio he is on their side, when he is in WA, without moving there, talking about running from there? And how does he convince WA voters he is for them when he lives in a different state and has never had a presence other than as visiting fireman in WA politics. He just looks like an opportunist.

    •  Always seems to backfire. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

      by Bush Bites on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:41:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, but it needs to be directed at the right... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TexasTom

      ...instead of toward the Prez and the Party.

      You don't win by breaking ranks in the face of the enemy, to shred each other, weaseling for absolutist hegemony.

      Principled solidarity requires at least remembering who the enemy is, and concentrating on crushing the freakin' Republicans, first and foremost...

      Then, with just a little simple electoral, campaign finance and media reform, we can implement a much more viable democracy.

      And further sort out the "moderates", "liberals" and "progressives", democratically, electorally...

      Until then, the whole world is screwed.

      Democracy is the most fundamental revolutionary principle. Information is the ultimate key.

      by Radical def on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:20:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Words matters (14+ / 0-)
    Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid or even House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi

    For example, it's Senate Democratic leader and House Democratic leader.

  •  So very well said (7+ / 0-)

    I don't cringe when someone uses "no balls" but I have flashed to a picture of my ancestor, hung in a tree, with people gathered about, as if it were a sporting event. Many are unaware of the lynching and castration in this nation's past.

    •  Some are entirely aware of it. Folk here have used (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foufou

      the Southern Plantation Ower/black slave comparison in these columns to discuss O's political conversations with the Rs, and the slave they are referring to is not intended to be understood as Nat Turner, but one who says what he must to stay alive before people who can kill him.

  •  Word. (n/t) (6+ / 0-)

    Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

    by Nowhere Man on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:22:21 PM PDT

  •  I have seen Noam Chomsky speak three times. (26+ / 0-)

    On the second of those occasions I made a point of asking him a question that might produce a concise answer. This is because most of the questions he gets are designed to show erudition on the part of the questioner but leave little room for a focused answer.

    Anyway my question was along the line of, "You have talked a lot about what you don't like. Could you talk a little bit about what you do like, and if by some chance you were appointed Secretary of State tomorrow what would you do to forward those."

    His answer was surprising and immediate. Again I paraphrase, "It would be impossible for me to become Secretary of State as I do not have the interests of the elites at heart but if it happened then the first thing I would do is to appoint a commission to investigate the war crimes I would inevitably commit merely by virtue of holding that office."

    That last bit was the only thing he said that made the local paper the next day and it illustrates the challenges we face. Perfection is far beyond our reach and power politics, the only effective kind, is not a clean game. All we can hope for is to do as best we can and have faith that by so doing that the future is better.

    •  Heh. I think that's pretty concise. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RanDomino

      Being in the USG is a crime.  It has no basis, and it helps nobody, and makes sure that nobody can be helped, but you can't make it any shorter than that.  

      In the eighties, Bob Dole said something to the effect of "Newt's all for new ideas. He doesn't HAVE any. He's just FOR them". Listen five minutes to Newt and you'll see it's still true.

      by Inland on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:33:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Argh! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      evergreen2, BoxNDox, Radical def
      His answer was surprising and immediate. Again I paraphrase, "It would be impossible for me to become Secretary of State as I do not have the interests of the elites at heart but if it happened then the first thing I would do is to appoint a commission to investigate the war crimes I would inevitably commit merely by virtue of holding that office."

      This gets at the heart of what I find so frustrating about leftist critique. First they criticize people for not trying to change things, then, when you do try to change things, you get called a sellout and a pawn of larger interests.

      Chomsky, by his answer, reveals a belief that the nature of power is inherently corrupting and therefore only immoral people should seek it. But then he and others criticize moral people for not working harder to change things. Is there a fundamental blind spot in some people's thought processes that prevents them from understanding that making changes requires power?

    •  selective concern about war crimes (0+ / 0-)

      Nice sentiment, but see my comment below about the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Turns out that if you're Serbia, Chomsky doesn't give a shit about your war crimes. He only cares to blast NATO for preventing you from conducting more. It's downright bizarre.

      •  IIRC his observation (0+ / 0-)

        is that the KLA was a Western-manufactured terrorist organization made of gangsters, and notes that the Serbian killing of KLA thugs in basically defensive actions was pointed to as "massacres" by Western media.  Also, he points out that the large-scale population transfers and refugee crisis didn't start until after the NATO bombing began, and was largely caused by it.  It was, as usual, a manufactured crisis.

        •  NATO bombs did not cause the refugee crisis (0+ / 0-)

          "he points out that the large-scale population transfers and refugee crisis didn't start until after the NATO bombing began"

          Large-scale, perhaps, but Serbs started expelling Kosovar Albanians from their homes in the spring of 1998, more than a year before the NATO bombings.

          "and was largely caused by it."

          That's a croc of shit. It was even dispelled formally by a scientific report commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences. They looked at three hypotheses:

          1) refugees were leaving on their own
          2) the NATO bombs were turning people into refugees
          3) the Serbs were expelling people, and using the NATO bombings as cover

          Unless you're blinded by some serious bias, the first two are obviously nonsense.

          Were the 100,000 dead Bosnian civilians manufactured, too?

          •  What's obviously nonsense (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DrReason

            about bombs turning people into refugees?  If the area where you're living is being bombed, you leave!

            Large-scale, perhaps

            That's what I'm pretty sure Chomsky contends: There were some unwanted departures (people who were forced out for one reason or another) but they weren't large-scale until after the bombing started.  It could be that the Serbs were expelling people (which, not to make excuses, would make sense; war obviously drives people toward ultra-nationalism and makes existing nationalists bolder) and using the bombing as a cover or excuse, but then why was there bombing in the first place if there wasn't already ethnic cleansing?  It's the same logic as Iraq: The war created the very problem (terrorism in Iraq, ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia) that it was supposed to combat, and then when that problem appeared as a result of the war, it was claimed as an ex post facto justification!

            •  you have history backwards (0+ / 0-)

              1) Serb soldiers and paramilitaries moved into Kosovo during 1998 and 1999.
              2) NATO started bombing them in 1999, because they were there massacring people, just as they had done in Bosnia earlier in that decade.

              The massacre in Racak, for example (Kosovar Albanian civilians killed by Serbs), happened in January 1999. This couldn't possibly have been caused by NATO, which only started bombing several months later.

              1) Serbian ultranationalism goes back to the early 1900's.
              2) Serbian ultranationalism fueled the rapid extermination of Serbia's Jews during WWII; most were dead by 1941, far earlier than anywhere else in the Balkans, because of a push by the government and the Serbian Orthodox church to collaborate with the Nazis.
              2) Serbian ultanationalism fueled Serbian aggression in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995.
              3) WWII and the Bosnian War come well before NATO's bombs in 1999.

              If you want to learn something, read Noel Malcolm's book about the history of Kosovo, or Serbia's Secret War. Just the preface of the paperback edition of Malcolm's books dispells your myth about NATO's bombs causing the refugee crisis. In reprisal for KLA actions against Serb police and military targets, the Serbs overwhelmingly targeted civilians. The refugees themselves overwhelmingly claimed that they had been driven out by Serb soldiers and paramilitaries, but obviously, Noam Chomsky knows better.

  •  In the narrow realm of the Media, (15+ / 0-)

    what it allows, what it forbids, what it promotes, what it denegrates, which narratives it constructs...

    I don't see how having a rational argument brings any advantage. If you had one, it wouldn't be allowed. We've got a highly stylized, and largely falsified, definition of the political spectrum in this nation, and basically anything on the people's side, anything the people want, is automatically off the table.

    The only thing I can see, short of breaking up Media Central (the de facto Brotherhood of the Dollar which decides what appears in the common space): if every time someone tried to paint what is the Center opinion as the "left" "progressive" or "fringe" they were immediately and forcefully reminded that somewhere between majorities to overwhelming majorities favor the "left" positions thusly marginalized.

    It is ridiculous when you think of it. 3 years ago, when I wrote about how "left" positions are backed my majorities on everything, I'd have to add the caveat "except for gay marriage, and Afghanistan." No more.

    The Left IS the Center, and it is no mystery where the public stands. Except for the fog generated by Corporate Media, the DC Village, and the poor saps who are willing to except Officialdom's obfuscations. Speaking nicely isn't going to change their story, assaulting their conventions will.


    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 Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:25:09 PM PDT

  •  I have long appreciated (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emekz1, foufou, BoxNDox, Laurence Lewis, 417els

    Chomsky on many issues related to linguistics and some politics, except when he becomes what I consider nutzoid  ---  West, not so much the same -- but similar.  And I am dipping into very deep waters regarding my reaction as a white woman but I find West to adapt pseudo-rhetoric that attempts to appeal to a generation of which he is not a part.  He is an intellectual of great prowess but his speech seems to be artificial to me.  He has had contempt for Obama since 2007.  I honestly don't know if it is based in an intellectual difference or visceral dislike.

    I welcome all BlackKos members to correct me.  My problem is with both artificiality and gratuitous slamming.  My ear could be completely off.  I have stated before that I am a "sponge" and willing to learn.  I truly want to know what I hear as a white woman is off kilter.  Thank you.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:25:43 PM PDT

  •  The reality based community doesnt exist (4+ / 0-)

    anymore, if it ever did. People are obsessed with sticking to a narrative about Obama, and facts that get in the way get dismissed or ignored. We found out last week the budget cut deal earlier this year actually added $3 billion to this year's budget. But that wont get talked about here, because it doesnt fit the narrative we love; that Obama always caves on everything. There is so much arrogance on the both sides, that I think people would rather continue the narrative they are comfortable with than to have to possibly sort of maybe admit they might be wrong about something.

    •  You say he "caves"...I say he's hostage (0+ / 0-)

      Why can't you discern the difference, both in actual realpolitik, of being subject to a right wing majority, even after '08, and now worse, but also in terms of mere tactical priority, which is to crush the Republicans, Not the Democrats?

      Democracy is the most fundamental revolutionary principle. Information is the ultimate key.

      by Radical def on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:28:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I never thought he caved.. (0+ / 0-)

      That suggests in his heart of hearts he believes like we do - there's ample evidence that's not the case.

      •  I think the difference is that he (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        foufou

        has to deal with the consequences of these decisions, and we dont. Sitting comfortably behind a computer screen, we can say, "fight, fight, fight, let them shut down the government if it comes to that." Obama, on the other hand, has to think of the consequences of that. He has to think of the government employees who will be losing their paychecks, military members who would get half their pay, etc. It's very easy sitting on the sidelines to call it selling out, caving, etc.

        •  What you (and all those who argue that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          clouz22

          Obama is powerless to effect radical change) never acknowledge is this:

          One CAN accede to the demands of realpolitik without embracing its talking points.

          IMAGINE an Obama who issues a verbal signing statement: "This bill falls woefully short of what is needed, but, given the regressive forces arrayed against real change (some of whom are in my own party), its the best that can currently make it through the Congress."

          Instead, we have an Obama who, time after time, extolls the "virtues" of bills that don't even begin to address real problems or provide real solutions. He ends up OWNING this crap legislation, and, by extension, so does the Democratic party.

          NONE of Obama's critics on the left believe he can FORCE a progressive agenda through the Congress. On the other hand, we don't believe for a second that he is powerless to educate the electorate and enlist their help in battling the forces of corporatism. The fact that he does NOT use the bully pulpit to this end speaks volumes about his ideology.

          Yo, CoC, ‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›

          by WisePiper on Sun May 22, 2011 at 09:26:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You have it backwards. (0+ / 0-)

          We are the ones who deal with the consequences of his decisions--he's set for life. If his conscience bothers him by decisions he's made, then he shouldn't make decisions that  run counter to his conscience.

  •  West gives me same impression Hitchens (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anthony de Jesus

    gave me.   Mostly jealously, that these presidents are valued for their intellect and these critics consider themselves smarter.   And sometimes, similarity breeds competition, not empathy.  

    And what would we gain by broadcasting Choamsky personally?  It's not like nobody hears his positions articulated by SOMEbody.  It's just that they don't, er, resonate.

    In the eighties, Bob Dole said something to the effect of "Newt's all for new ideas. He doesn't HAVE any. He's just FOR them". Listen five minutes to Newt and you'll see it's still true.

    by Inland on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:29:13 PM PDT

    •  I find Chomsky boring (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BoxNDox

      Nothing against his positions, which I largely agree with. I also think the corporate media intentionally keep him off because he does have ideas that run counter to their interests.
      However, Noam's just....dull.

      Catch St. Louis' progressive talk show, The Murdock Report, every Tuesday @ noon! Stream or download it: www.wgnu920am.com I do the twit thing too @Smokin'JoeWGNU Remember, there's nothing free about Free Markets!

      by Da Rat Bastid on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:40:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If he's just going to advocate electoral boycott.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foufou

      then to hell with him, no matter how more or less correct his analysis of the many evils of capitalism may be.

      What freakin' good is he?

      Democracy is the most fundamental revolutionary principle. Information is the ultimate key.

      by Radical def on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:30:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In other words the big frog in a small pond is oft (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foufou

      a much smaller frog in a much bigger pond, and does not like that, and strikes out in resentment at having to swim in the big pond, with the big fish, like a small frog again.

  •  "particularly among the most ardent Obama (4+ / 0-)

    supporters" is where the firestorm was right? Angry black man stereotype, better advise Dkos admistration. I don't think so.

    West personalized the issue, and when that was correctly pointed out, those who needed West to support their Obama is not liberal enough even black people don't like him talking point didn't like that, including the administration of Dkos.

    Don't worry, you now have Cynthia McKinney to go along with West as your faces of disappointed African Americans.

  •  I find this discussion a little curious. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slinkerwink, riptide, cslewis

    One of the staples of political critique is that a politician lacks the courage of his convictions, and isn't willing to risk conflict to get what he or she allegedly wants.  Given the gendered and profoundly sexist nature of high-level political representation in this country, both in terms of who's doing the representing and who's speaking about it to a wide audience, for many decades we've tolerated "has no balls" as derogatory shorthand for that critique--and rightly derogatory, because it's a pretty serious charge.

    And now you're telling me--and you're like number 10,000--that we shouldn't say that because it references a nasty racial stereotype and nastier racial history in our country.  Well, where the hell where all 10,000 of you when it was merely gendered and sexist?  I know where a lot of you were in 2008, and it wasn't a river in Egypt if you get my drift.  But hey, if this is what it takes for you to get off the wagon of sexist language and gendered notions of what makes good political leadership, that's awesome.  

    In the meantime, where does it leave people who really do believe that President Obama lacks the courage of his convictions and isn't willing to risk conflict to get what he allegedly wants?  Because something tells me that if a critic (rightly) passes on the balls trope and just says it like I've said it, they'll be accused just the same, of invoking the emasculated-black-man stereotype and history.  And that leaves critics without any language to make their case.

    It's better to curse the darkness than light a candle. --Whoever invented blogs, c.1996

    by Rich in PA on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:39:08 PM PDT

    •  Actually, some folks did HR 'balls' comments for (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foufou

      sexism pre-Obama.

    •  There's a nuance here that gets lost in the yellin (6+ / 0-)

      A politician who folds in the face of opposition before he even gets started is a wimp. But a politician who firmly believes that what he wants is not achievable and therefore must be deferred for something later is pragmatic and wise.

      The problem comes in telling the difference. This is not always easy.

    •  The personal slanders are only adhom persiflage... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Christy1947, foufou

      to distract from the huge glaring contradictions of the actual line, that Obama coulda, woulda, shoulda run roughshod over the Republicans, while hostage to a right wing majority, even after '08.

      Ignoring that realpolitik, and making his political weakness, due to insufficient genuine Democratic plurality, somehow a personal fault of Obama, or even "teh Dems", is Nothing but deliberate oppositionalist hyperbole, seeking to sow cynical defeatism and demoralization, and suppress likely Democratic voter turnout.

      Instead, the fools should be attacking the right, for blocking everything Obama tries to do, and for continuing to attack everything we have accomplished in the last 50 years, and calling out the electorate to swamp the polls going into 2010, and again for 2012, to further purge and suppress the right...Certainly Not insinuating electoral boycott and splitting, then or now.

      Such contradictions in practice, regardless of how accurate other aspects of political analysis may be, indicate something...drastically wrong, irrational, and thus...suspect, seems to me.

      Democracy is the most fundamental revolutionary principle. Information is the ultimate key.

      by Radical def on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:50:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you can't think of more precise language than (0+ / 0-)

      n.b, language that only men use and then not in front of their families in many places, that you can think of nothing else to say what you want to say is some indication you might avoid speaking until you find better words.

  •  Chomsky castigated Obama's Middle East policy (8+ / 0-)
    Noam Chomsky: "The U.S. and Its Allies Will Do Anything to Prevent Democracy in the Arab World"    

    Actually, the most interesting case in many respects is Bahrain. Bahrain is quite important for two reasons. One reason, which has been reported, is that it’s the home port of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, major military force in the region. Another more fundamental reason is that Bahrain is about 70 percent Shiite, and it’s right across the causeway from eastern Saudi Arabia, which also is majority Shiite and happens to be where most of Saudi oil is. Saudi Arabia, of course, is the main energy resource, has been since the '40s. By curious accident of history and geography, the world's major energy resources are located pretty much in Shiite regions. They’re a minority in the Middle East, but they happen to be where the oil is, right around the northern part of the Gulf. That’s eastern Saudi Arabia, southern Iraq and southwestern Iran. And there’s been a concern among planners for a long time that there might be a move towards some sort of tacit alliance in these Shiite regions moving towards independence and controlling the bulk of the world’s oil. That’s obviously intolerable.

        So, going back to Bahrain, there was an uprising, tent city in the central square, like Tahrir Square. The Saudi-led military forces invaded Bahrain, giving the security forces there the opportunity to crush it violently, destroyed the tent city, even destroyed the Pearl, which is the symbol of Bahrain; invaded the major hospital complex, threw out the patients and the doctors; been regularly, every day, arresting human rights activists, torturing them, occasionally a sort of a pat on the wrist, but nothing much. That’s very much the Carothers principle. If actions correspond to our strategic and economic objectives, that’s OK. We can have elegant rhetoric, but what matters is facts.

        Well, that’s the oil-rich obedient dictators. What about Egypt, most important country, but not a center of—major center of oil production? Well, in Egypt and Tunisia and other countries of that category, there is a game plan, which is employed routinely, so commonly it takes virtual genius not to perceive it. But when you have a favored dictator—for those of you who might think of going into the diplomatic service, you might as well learn it—when there’s a favored dictator and he’s getting into trouble, support him as long as possible, full support as long as possible. When it becomes impossible to support him—like, say, maybe the army turns against him, business class turns against him—then send him off somewhere, issue ringing declarations about your love of democracy, and then try to restore the old regime, maybe with new names.

    Plutocracy too long tolerated leaves democracy on the auction block, subject to the highest bidder ~ Bill Moyers

    by Lefty Coaster on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:39:56 PM PDT

  •  i namedropped chomsky to someone earlier today (0+ / 0-)

    who should know him. put it that, yes i don't agree with every line and step he might, but that he offers a very good, structured way to deal with the modern "media glut."

    part of being a good soldier is recognizing good leaders. and i have to wonder... exactly what would some writers be thinking now, if it were instead... mccain and palin?

    still. i still have to ask that, over and over, it seems. because "normals" are so forgetful.

    FUCK T.BOONE PICKENS AND HIS NATURAL GAS ENERGY PLAN! Failing Green Energy Wind Turbine Whore, turned into Natural Gas Fracking Whore! HE IS HIS OWN PETROLEUM WHORE! FRACKING RUINS WATER TABLES! FRACKING KILLS PEOPLE - even if it has not already!

    by theChild on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:40:06 PM PDT

  •  Keith Owens blogged on West's comments (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foufou, Laurence Lewis

    in his column, Why Cornel West is beginning to rhyme with witch.

    Jack and Jill Politics is an interesting site. Worth taking a look.

  •  Oh no no no (6+ / 0-)
    Anyone who has paid attention to West through the years knows that he has a massive intellect

    Absolutely not. West has contributed nothing to the body of human knowledge. He consistently and continually pens essays in which he deliberately refers to himself as an 'intellectual."

    He's a self-aggrandizing blowhard.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to the man. - dls

    by The Raven on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:43:07 PM PDT

  •  a quibble with your framing,LL (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nada Lemming, BoxNDox, Laurence Lewis

    "traditional media"  don't exclude liberal voices.

    If "traditional" means "print'.

    Let's remember that print media in this country --going back to John Peter Zanger-- were a kaleidescope of opinion.

    So the Jewish Daily Forward,  the Baltimore  African-American, Debs' Appeal to Reason  and Rolling Stone, don't tell you much about the exclusion of any particular set of idea.

    The concentration of print, broadcast, and digital media in the hands of  multinational corporations...   there's your trouble.  

    It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

    by sayitaintso on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:43:57 PM PDT

  •  Just lookit who was on talk shows today. (14+ / 0-)

    There were multiple corporate apologists and conservative politicians to blather on about the need for 'sacrifice'.

    Not a single voice for labor. Not a single genuine liberal voice.

  •  Voting against interests not the whole picture (8+ / 0-)

    Thoughtful and true, great diary. When you add the challenges of getting a message through to the hurdles presented by corruption, you end up with a real problem.

    People too often vote against their own beliefs and their own self-interests because they are being deliberately manipulated by those who have no interest at all in their well-being.
    This reminds me of the excellent diary about the confederacy recently.
    But the South’s oligarchy would not be deterred by mere public will. Fraud and subterfuge have long been well oiled weapons in the hands of an oligarch. In the secession conventions, the secessionists simply bought the votes of many delegates.
    The vast majority of poor southern whites hated the confederacy. Try explaining that to a poor southern white man with a rebel flag bumper sticker and you'll get the blankest stare you've ever seen.
  •  I thought this was going to be about Chomsky (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nada Lemming, farbuska, RanDomino

    I missed the point of this piece. It did not close the loop on the original point or expand on intent with regard to how Obama's experience at U. of Chicago. Did he become a Straussian? Is this the new reality that the author is a part of? Those of us who helped get Obama elected believed he would be a transformational president which is very different than the president he turned out to be. The incremental changes that he has made will be easily reversed when republicans take over first the senate in 2012 and then the White House in 2016. They will do this with the financial muscle that will accompany Citizens United.  I believe that Obama will do his most important work for humanity following his presidency, as has been the democartic presidential tradition.

    •  Apparently, everybody who spends time at UC.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BoxNDox

      ....becomes a follower of Friedrich Hayek, or something.

      Which is funny, because I know a lot of UC people who are much more liberal than me.

      Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

      by Bush Bites on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:57:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not everyone (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Laurence Lewis, marina, foufou

        but clearly there was some point where the President went from someone who was "attracted to Marxist professors" to someone who believes that tax cuts and and re-training workers are sufficient measures to deal with a demand crisis.

        Maybe his time at Chicago had nothing to do with it.  But given the extremely well-known Law and Economics program at Chicago, and the presence of Ronald Coase, Richard Posner, and Gary Becker on the faculty, it's not crazy to suggest it might have affected his thinking.  In fact, if he didn't talk to those guys about their research, I'd say he wasted his time.    

        To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

        by sneakers563 on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:19:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The point of this piece (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laurence Lewis, foufou

      was not Chomsky or Obama.  It was how to get our liberal policy viewpoints heard.  Some of the problems are with the media and some of the problems are mistakes we could correct by our own actions.

      I see it on this site a lot.  We speak so disrespectfully about others and then wonder why those same people don't respond positively to our message.

  •  Could Jeff greenfield be right? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, Laurence Lewis

    Coulod sound bites preclude people who do not fall within the so-called median? After all, if you've never heard Chomsky, and he gets up there with a sound bite that falls outside what you're used to, you think he's half-cocked. After a particularly sensational sound bite, the next question is, "What?" Or, "How did you come up with that?" And of course, you need to answer with no sound bites, and you're only allowed maybe on or two more.

    In other words, stupidity (err, I mean soundbites) has a natural bias.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:57:29 PM PDT

  •  Goals Matter. Principles Matter. Accomplishing (7+ / 0-)

    something and passing legislation matters. All of these can easily conflict: what's a person to do? Words, especially critical words, can all too easily become inflammatory or mindless, as in the words "firebagger" or "Obamabot." These words are impediments to thought, are shibboleths meant to demean and exclude, and they serve to fracture necessarily fragile coalitions.

    West isn't wrong to criticize policy and to point out how the poor and unemployed have been largely abandoned by the president and by D.C. generally. His criticisms of Washington's pervasive neoliberalism  and of the Democratic accommodation of neoliberalism is pretty much right on target. His personalization of the dispute isn't, though, and he's done himself and his positions a great disservice. West is a progressive scholar/activist with feet of clay.

    In the meantime, while the media and the Democrats celebrate the return of the auto industry to profitability, they neglect to point out that those profits come at the expense of workers who earn about half of what their predecessors did. Some damn success that is. Trumka has his work cut out for him.

    What are Democratic goals? If I were a Democrat in a leadership position, I'd be pushing for a New New Deal morning, noon, and night, 24/7, 365.

    I'd end the wars, cut war spending, put an end to the surveillance state, and focus on jobs, environment, transit, cities, education (not Arne Duncan-style btw), and debt mitigation for the general public. Pres. Obama is doing some of those things, and is opposed at every step by not only the right, but by people in his own party.

    Still, I sure as hell wouldn't turn to Jeffrey Immelt for advice on jobs. I wouldn't rely on fucking Larry Summers for economic advice. I wouldn't have escalated in Afghanistan. On balance, I'm disappointed, but I was going to be anyway. I knew that when I volunteered and voted. Do I not vote and let the worst political impulses of the nation win? Do I vote and let the rampant neoliberalism in D.C. continue to strip workers of hope, with the Democrats offering only meager opposition, the Elizabeth Warren saga being just one such example?

    Complicated, isn't it?

    What are the right words for a situation in which nobody in power works in my interests in the way I think they should?

    "Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible" "Be realistic, demand the impossible." Graffiti from Paris, May 1968

    by absolute beginner on Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:57:47 PM PDT

  •  The Media Won't Tolerate Factuality (4+ / 0-)

    The facts of the nation with respect to the prospects of most of its people, to global habitability, to its financial economy, to its trade balance economy and more, all show a nation that is unsustainable as a democracy with a large middle class without radical imposition on private power.

    It's as though we're suffering a military invasion, and half the people deny it while those who see it are told they mustn't say extreme things about the new people showing up.

    So debate and political discourse aren't going to address these problems meaningfully.

    We're going to begin a new period of civil disobedience in the next year or two, especially as attacks on unions stand and the big cuts in social safety net roll out. People are going to get rude and ugly as they regularly have in our history when there is no other choice.

    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 Sun May 22, 2011 at 05:57:47 PM PDT

  •  FAIL is FAIL (4+ / 0-)

    Excellent post; thoughtful and well reasoned, as usual with LL, though I don't agree with all of it.  Unfortunately, the reality is that whether progressives talk nice to each other and work together, or beat the crap out of each other, we have the same degree of success influencing the Democratic party:  None.   Our rhetoric's not the problem.

  •  This (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis
    .... if we are going to deliver information to them we have to do it such that it will be received.

    Is very important in all matters in order to move forward expeditiously with a minimum of fuss.
    Thanks Laurence.

    Education is too big to fail. Truth is too big to fail. Justice is too big to fail. Peace is too big to fail.

    by Burned on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:08:16 PM PDT

  •  too brilliant for this site Lawrence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis

    Absolutely spot on but requires vision and focus...I hope some here heed your message.

  •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis

    I happened to see Mr. West on msnbc the other night. I felt at the time he was a bit too far out in left field, but the next guest was Ms. Harris-Perry.  I became a bit confused with her defense and excuse for Mr. West's views.  I guess she was supposed to be taking the opposite of the argument. The whole thing would have been much better if it had been a moderated conversation rather than how it was presented. A good conversation would have solved my misunderstandings.

  •  STFU, WTF and other brilliant arguments (4+ / 0-)

    basically the local comments section of the paper has nothing but personal attacks. the teaparty has made a career out of personal attacks of Obama, not policy arguments. I think the republican party would be in a lot better position today to challenge Obama if they had attack Obama policies instead of Obama the man. They're scary. I don't trust them. I give Obama very low grades on the banking/wallstreet fraud meltdown and the continued militarization of america. he is vulnerable, but the irresponsible attacks on him have not put the attackers into a good position.

    that said though, if you make a policy argument in the local comments section, it goes unanswered. if you call somebody a fool, you got a "discussion."

    KOS has a lot of commenters and diarists who like to show their outrage and emotion in print with "F*CKING" emphasis. even though it gets attention,  i dont think it really influences anybody, and if the goal is a wider audience, it certainly doesnt do that either. it looks childish.

    a very well written, very appreciated diary.
     

  •  Good try, but there are more nuances: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoxNDox, Laurence Lewis

    the WH education policy does come from Chicago notably Duncan's use of Elliot's analysis of teacher fraud, but the legal analysis comes more from Cass Sunstein than Richard Posner and which it is clear that the economics while the current version of Chicago School rationality, is not the monetarist insanity of Uncle Miltie and his clones' Latino fascism in Mexico and Chile et al. Connecting it to the problems of Chomsky with those ubiquitous "levers of power" and Cornel West's penchant for pushing Afrocentric buttons, goes perhaps farther than necessary in terms of the critique of the President's pragmatism which one hopes will not be destroyed in the second term as Bill Clinton did with his sexual peccadilloes.

    I am off my metas! Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above join the DAILY KOS UNIVERSITY "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03)

    by annieli on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:25:49 PM PDT

  •  Cornel West (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoxNDox, princesspat, foufou, richdoll

    Is as relevant to the national dialog as my dog is.

    He does not seem to realize that Obama is the president of all Americans, not just his "brothers" to use West's own terminology.

    For a potentially wise man, his vision is clouded by race.

    My dog can eat a whole watermelon.

    by Cornbread Maxi on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:34:42 PM PDT

  •  Obama: neither wimp nor eunuch (0+ / 0-)
    [...]but on the issues, the polling shows we liberals actually are the mainstream. From single payer health care and a public option, to raising taxes on the wealthy, to getting out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to ending Don't Ask Don't Tell and legalizing gay marriage, to defending Social Security and Medicare and unions, the public is liberal. We could go on and on. But the traditional media will glide right by those facts and continually reinforce the agendas of their classist corporatist owners, not infrequently at the expense of the truth.

    Would pointing out that Barack Obama (along with the Big-Boy Pants(tm) Democratic Party en masse) has been actively, dedicatedly on the wrong side of healthcare reform (as defined by single payer/public option) and actively, dedicatedly on the wrong side of Bushco's perpetual warfare project, while mounting tepid (at best) efforts on "entitlement" issues (SS, medicare), union issues, not to mention corporate welfare issues justifying the wimp meme?

    Reducing the wimp criticism to "no balls" cheap shots is a cheap ploy on part of the diarist.  This can be granted pointless status however, because neither the "wimp" tag nor its more vulgar and shocking derivative speaks honestly or directly to Barack Obama's active and dedicated contribution to the "centrist" cause and the ongoing Reagan Revolution status quo.

    In reality, "stooge" would be and is a more apt, more accurate characterization of Obama's role than wimp or eunuch.  Sabotage is at best orthogonal here.  In fact, if we're honest, Obama is very good at  what he does.  VEry strong indeed..  

    Doubt that kossacks?  Watch the billion odd dollars flow into his 2012 campaign.  That ain't no eunuch money.

    Please don't feed the security state.

    •  Obama strides forward (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greeseyparrot

      intact, a vigorous and dedicated stooge.  In more positive terms, Obama triumphs, a veritable "centrist" champion of a failed (if anyone's paying attention) and stinking (if anyone's got a nose) Reagan Revolution that really, really ought to have been put out of it's misery 15 years ago.

      There.

      Is that any better?

      Please don't feed the security state.

      •  Let's list a few of Obama's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greeseyparrot

        ballsy acts:

        "looking forward" past Bushco warcrimes, Bushco crimes against humanity, and the rule of law.

        Continuing/expanding Bushco's corporate handout and enrichment programs in ways that will cost everyone else for the foreseeable future.

        Cutting the public option and real healthcare reform off at the knees, then having the strength to characterize this AHIP Big PhRMA hackwork as achieving the progressive healthcare reform dreams of 100 years.

        Now that was ballsy.  

        Sorry.

        Continuing/expanding Bushco's very costly, very unpopular, very destructive wars and fascist project State at home and abroad, at great cost both to politics to morality, and to the very possibility of meaningful change.  Or hope.

        I'm sure there's more and better examples.  Let's all stipulate, if in somewhat vulgar terms, unseemly to the diarist, that Obama has been, in fact, a veritable font of balls.  

        A pillar of strength, vigor and dedication.  In a strictly gender neutral way of course.

        A veritable balls factory, in strictly a metaphorical sense.  

        A balls factory, albeit of perfidy and sabotage.

        Is that better?

        Please don't feed the security state.

  •  Time? A little more time? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoxNDox
    Chomsky's response to the filmmakers was that he is very capable of creating TV sound bites, and that the real problem is that his opinions fall so far outside what the TV world considers the mainstream, and when one offers a viewpoint that is systematically excluded from the national media conversation one needs a little more time just to present the paradigm and background.

    Sorry, but this just doesn't get it.  If he is capable of creating sound bites that resonate with the public, just do it.  Don't make excuses that he needs more time to present the "paradigm and background."  Hell, if Gingrich can do it so can Chomsky.  This just begs the Dems do nuance, Repubs don't, sound bite.  

    Fewer, more powerful  words are more effective.  And while I'm at it, I might advise Tom Tomorrow of political cartoon fame here to do the same.  By the time I read all the words in his cartoons, I have lost my train of thought.  

    As an example our minister today opened the service with few words.  I can think of no better example.

    "Today I give you an example of a loving caring community in action.  This week one of our members donated a kidney to another member of our church.  Yesterday, I watched as the person who donated the kidney got up, walked to the room of the person who received his kidney and smiled.  Not a word was spoken, and none was needed."

    Actions speak louder than words.  It might be a lesson that we could all learn.  Dems need to use fewer words and make them count.    

     

  •  one strange thing about Chomsky (4+ / 0-)

    Chomsky has written quite a bit about the wars in the Balkans during the 1990s. I can't claim to have read everything he's written on the subject, but I've read my fair share. Here's something that's curiously missing:

    Any plain, unequivocal condemnation of Serbia.

    If you can find one, please point me to it.

    You'd think Chomsky cares about war crimes and oppression, right? So here's a country that starts four wars in a decade, whose army and paramilitaries kill about 110,000 innocent civilians (100,000 in Bosnia, 10,000 in Kosovo), displace about 3 million people (2 in Bosnia, 1 in Kosovo), rape tens of thousands of women, and commit genocide (in Srebrenica, but I argue that Operation Horseshoe was in fact genocide).

    What does Chomsky write about this? He condemns NATO for intervening. That take some serious willful ignorance. Any hint of acknowledgment by him that Serbia committed atrocities is quickly followed by a stronger denunciation of the US, NATO, bullshit about atrocities on all sides, etc.

    Don't believe me? Try this (as I did): pick up Failed States, go to the index, and read every entry in the book about Bosnia and Kosovo.

    When someone exhibits this type of extraordinary and systematic bias, I don't care very much about what they think in any realm.

    •  For those who read the above comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greeseyparrot, genocideisnews

      If you are so inclined to accept verbatim the the text in the comment, so be it. If you are more curious as to the beginnings and purpose of the whole affair and would like a spin that is not all "nightly news" inspired, please watch the documentary "The Weight of Chains" - it's out there with the help of a little googling or a visit to piratebay.org.

      "WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY FOX NEWS IS JOURNALISM"

      by FakeNews on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:12:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, but having listened to Chomsky for years (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RanDomino, genocideisnews

      your comment doesn't ring true.

    •  Not strange or extraordinary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      genocideisnews

      just not the focus of his critique.  I suspect the quibble will lead to some justification for intervening, but that's just a wild guess...

      In this interview, he explains his position to my satisfaction.  

      This one is pretty good, too, and it's more in depth.

      “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway” ~ Henry Boye~

      by Terranova0 on Mon May 23, 2011 at 12:43:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  he's full of shit (0+ / 0-)

        Just a few gems from the videos:

        - The majority of killings before 1999, about 2000, were committed by the KLA.

        That's completely absurd.

        - Operation Horseshoe (the Serbian plan to expel Kosovo's population) was Western propaganda.

        So 800,000 Kosovar Albanians are expelled from Kosovo, and another 200,000 displaced internally, all of them by Serb soldiers and paramilitaries, and they all go back after the Serbs withdraw, but the Serbs didn't actually have a plan to expel Kosovo's population?

        - A long discussion of genocide, but not a word about Bosnia or Srebrenica.

        He sure knows dates and numbers, but doesn't know about the 8,000 men and boys killed by Serbs in Srebrenica alone, about the rape camps, about the other 90,000+ Bosnians killed?

        I do find this kind of mental contortion extraordinary for someone considered an intellectual. It's not just a matter of "focus", but of wholesale denial.

  •  Chomsky is a genius, obviously. (9+ / 0-)

    I was lucky enough to have him as a professor some years ago, in linguistics.  I found him to be very attuned to the deeper aspects of world culture and politics.

    Frankly, I suspect it is much easier to dismiss a genius than to attempt to understand him.

    However, if you invest the time, it will change your life.  At the very least, it will open your eyes and mind.  And there is no going back after that.

    Maybe that's why Chomsky scares the hell out of people.

    " ... or a baby's arm holding an apple!"

    by Lavocat on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:48:05 PM PDT

  •  Words matter but so does style. (3+ / 0-)

    I often work with people who have command of the facts and are able to present a powerful analysis of those facts but who are abrasive and confrontational.

    It may be fun to be right and lord over someone else but is the intent of conversational debate to humiliate or is it to convince someone of the value of the argument?

    I have used on more than a few occasions with abrasive people who are often right - don't let your style get in the way of your message. Your style hits the off button and causes others to tune out your message. You are succeeding only in re-enforcing their resistance not the acceptance of your points.

    Unapologetically pro-citizen. Not anti-corporation just very pro-citizen.

    by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:48:27 PM PDT

  •  Yikes! I thought this was an obit for Chomsky (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FakeNews, Laurence Lewis

    Way to get my stomach in a knot.

  •  Hmmmm... (7+ / 0-)
    his opinions fall so far outside what the TV world considers the mainstream, and when one offers a viewpoint that is systematically excluded from the national media conversation one needs a little more time just to present the paradigm and background

    Does not apply to conservatives -- the far right. Further you are right of mainstream, the more you're on Meet the Press, with a decided lack of anything approaching a follow-up question.

    It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

    by Fishgrease on Sun May 22, 2011 at 06:55:30 PM PDT

  •  Gross over-analysis (0+ / 0-)

    Mr. Lewis:
    You go far to protect the president from a personal attach. Mr. West's attack was personal because Obama's attack on him was personal. Please - you have really given us nothing useful through your long-winded analysis. Cornel West expected better treatment from the president. He expected to be respected for helping Obama win. Race arguments just don't fly with Obama. He is the whitest black president imaginable and he has done far less for poor and under-represented people in this country than Clinton did. Liberals are free to speak their minds. We
    don' t  need your censorship or Obama's.  

  •  Chomsky and Israel (4+ / 0-)

    As far as I can tell it was Chomsky's insistence on calling Israel to task over the years that made it impossible for the major networks to use him he had gone "beyond the pale" as almost anyone who critisizes ends up--like, for example, Norman Finklestein.

    Chomsky has a lot to say about U.S. imperialism that should be taken note of even if you don't agree. The point is that the pundits and opinion makers are incapable of debating issues and therefore just decree dissidents away. Chomsky and his friend Howard Zinn have been utterly ignored because the mainstream media has no ability to debate the issues these men have brought up because nearly all of them are intellectual hacks and ill-equipped for any sort of intellectual argument.

    As for Obama, I think he's over-criticized and agree that "he has no balls" is particularly offensive. Progressives should "get a life" and move on. American politicians do not operate in a vacuum--their job is to broker power not be powerful--that would take decades of determined work and that is done elsewhere as, in my view, is appropriate.

  •  West's missing element: tact. (0+ / 0-)

    It is intellectually and emotionally preferable to employ tact when suggesting changes to somebody in power.

    I believe that is the hokey pokey here.

    Example: Cornell West is a really smart guy, but even he needs to work on his game. In this case, he should realize that ragging mercilessly on Barack Obama is not the best way to persuade the man to change. West (and the whole welrd) would be better served if he employed rhetoric that pivoted on the aspirations of Obama to be a great leader. A great leader rises above even his own preconceptions. A great leader is able to learn new ways, to see farther by standing on the shoulders of giants.

    The "Chicago School" of economic thought is not built upon the shoulders of giants. It is a stuffed body of fallacies designed to support the rich and the greedy, the very economic royalists that FDR warned us would always be trying to usurp the power of the people from our government.

    Barack Obama learned a style of economics from these tweed-jacketed hucksters, but if he aspires to be a great leader, then he must be open to the factually supported economics of Paul Krugman. He is smart enough to know this, so what is holding him back?

    Please contribute to Doctors Without Borders today.

    by jimbo92107 on Sun May 22, 2011 at 07:42:33 PM PDT

  •  West and political economy (3+ / 0-)

    thank you for your comments on Chomsky. I read with interest the conflicts between West and his critics. BTW. West is a friend of mine.  He wrote an introduction to a book for me.
    Yes, it got personal- on all sides. The personal stuff was entertaining, but not particularly enlightening.
    Beyond the personal, lets look as some of the political/economic arguments.

     Rubert Kuttner’s A Presidency in Peril : The Inside Story of the Obama’s Promise, Wall streets Power, and the Struggle to Control our Economic Future (2010)  helps to explain  how we lost the debate on the economic crisis.   Kuttner  provides detailed description  of the perspectives and economic vested interests of the major policy advisors in the Obama Administration.   Reading about their views and their prior  Wall Street connections explains a great deal about what the Administration did for Wall Street and why they have not provided an equivalent stimulus to create U.S. jobs.
        Prior to reading this book I remained an Obama supporter.  Even though I recognized his failure in Afghanistan and the Obama-Duncan assault on teachers, I continued to explain how the  economic crisis along with Republican intransigence produced the limited gains in health care legislation, in tax reform, economic reform,  and in the needed economic stimulus to create jobs in the face of the worse recession since the great depression.  I continued to make the case for a progressive view of the Obama Administration as the best we could get under the circumstances.
        A Presidency in Peril  turned the tide for me.  By 2010 after nearly three years of the financial crisis where finance capital regained its power and wealth at the expense of all of the rest of us, the government has become increasingly willing to intervene  to protect, promote, and to directly fund the large banks.  We have a new economic order in which the government is used to loot the economy for the benefit of the very rich.  The Administration has acted as the Washington branch of Wall Street.
    This is far more than the influence of Univ. of Chicago.
    James Kloppeberg, in Reading Obama: Dreams, Hopes, and the American Political Tradition, traces more of the processes of thinking to Obama's time at Harvard.  

        Let us be clear.  Barack Obama and his advisors chose the economic team that has done so much harm to working people and  to the nation, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner,  and others.  It is their policy.   And, they have opposed the few people who tried to keep from handing the store over to Wall Street such as Elizabeth  Warran and  Republican Shiela Blair.
          The world wide economic crisis was created by  U.S. finance capital and banking, mostly on Wall Street ,ie. Chase Banks, Bank of America, AIG, and others.   Finance capital produced a $ 2 trillion bailout of the financial industry, the doubling of U.S. unemployment rate and the loss of 2 million manufacturing jobs.   Almost all of the projected national  deficit through 2020 will be the result of three factors: the Great Recession, the tax cuts of the early 2000s under George W. Bush, and the hundreds of billions of dollars of war spending.
    Kuttner traces the role of key financial advisors from Robert Rubin of Citi Bank, and the many major crooks of Goldman Sachs who have made billions off of this crisis.   This is finance  capital’s relentless  class war against the rest of us while it continues to profit from the economic crisis. If you would like to see this argument rather than read it, see the video- Inside Job.  It tells the tale well.
     Their demands for unconscionable tax breaks for the rich to  while they refuse to  rescue the bankrupted states and municipalities thus forcing  budget cuts that decimate schools, force lay offs of nurses and health care workers, police, and firefighters and now they even dare to propose cutting social security while preventing banking  regulation to stop the reckless behavior that plunged the country and the world into the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
        Kuttner’s perspective of a failing administration  is further confirmed by the change to a new set of economic advisors in late 2010 and 2011 advanced the financial corporate agenda in the Obama Administration and further distanced the Administration from a labor and/or progressive perspective.  The appointments of  Austan Goolsbee. Bill Daley, and Jeffrey Immelt, among others, reflects a conscious and deliberate choice on the part of the Obama team to expand further in the direction of corporate liberalism, the very people who  looted the economy and brought the economic crisis to the nation.
    In my view, on economic issues, and on public education, Obama should be sharply criticized.  It will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to get a working class vote for him if the unemployment rate stays this high.

    •  i think the republicans (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      princesspat, 417els

      will be a great help, in that they're uniformly embarrassing, and their economic solutions are transparent. i agree that the economy is obama's greatest peril, but i think the extremism of the republicans will serve him well.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun May 22, 2011 at 08:50:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is so good. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    amk for obama, Laurence Lewis

    Much needed reminder.

    Better Luck Next Universe.

    by the new on Sun May 22, 2011 at 08:15:15 PM PDT

  •  Saying Barack Obama "has no balls" isn't racist. (0+ / 0-)

    It's a little bit sexist and crude.

    And insofar as we understand the meaning of the term, it is also correct.

    He's cautious to a fault. Which, when speaking or writing with sharp and strong emotions, might be expressed as lacking that particular feature of the male anatomy.

    It's not a phrase I use or endorse, but your laughable attack on it as racist is nonsensical elitist garbage. Put that card away.

    You mentioned how the dialogue or conversation about Barack Obama's right-wing economic policies as highlighted by Professor West quickly degraded.

    Now you've degraded the conversation.

    To label any subject unsuitable for comedy is to admit defeat. -- Peter Sellers

    by krikkit4 on Sun May 22, 2011 at 08:39:44 PM PDT

  •  Well said, LL. Pun intended. :) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis

    One bitter fact is two bit hacks populate the third rate fourth estate who are truly the fifth columnists.
    A No-Drama Obama Site & Some Straight Talkin'

    by amk for obama on Sun May 22, 2011 at 08:42:52 PM PDT

  •  Eloquent and convincing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    princesspat, Laurence Lewis

    piece on the importance of tone. I agree whole-heartedly.

    "Take the victory and keep on marching"

    by SeattleProgressive on Sun May 22, 2011 at 08:45:25 PM PDT

  •  This is a great diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis, foufou
  •  Chomsky is blatantly dishonest (0+ / 0-)

    Could be that's why he's not on tv regularly.

  •  Wrong (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrWebster

    You are missing the main problem.  Obama has too few critics. With the notable exception of someone like Chris Hedges, if you listen to progressie talk radio or look at most liberal blogs, the overwhelming majority are there to defend him in whatever he does, making excuses for him, etc.  The other side is absolutely nuts and has the liberal majority scared shitless, so whatever Obama does is ok.  He will win by a landslide in 2012, but he is moving the country rightward whether he realizes it or not---you simply can't see it at first glance because the other side is so far extreme right and crazy.  He has accepted the Republican narrative on the war AND the economy instead of challenging them.  The man who appointed so many corporatists to his administration and created the "cat food commission" will not dismantle the last remnants of the New Deal but he will damage it greatly, I guarantee you that.  And so many liberals will go along with it because "that's the best he could do."   Meanwhile, here's hoping the whole economy collapses, like a number of economists around the globe are predicting, because, to borrow from the Recovery Community, it is only when you are really down that you can begin to rebuild.  Obama's vision is and always was that of the "kinder, gentler consumerism."

  •  If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck ... (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    Dion

    Maybe Obama is a closet Republican. He talks like a liberal, but he walks like a Republican. Obama is not weak, he is getting exactly what he wants! And all the Democrats that helped elect him don't want to hear the truth.

    The Corporatist/DLC Democrats are as destructive to progressive ideals, as Republicans. Stop voting for the lesser of two evils, because they are really the same.

    •  Elephant Stew (0+ / 0-)

      Ingredients

      1 Elephant
      10 Warthog
      100 kilogram tomatoes
      half ton potatoes
      2 bags onions
      100 kilogram salt
      1 wheelbarrow onions (heaped)
      10 liter vinegar
      20 liter chutney
      4 Guineafowl

      Method

      Hunt the elephant, warthog and guineafowl. Hang guineafowl to ripen. Cut elephant into edible chunks, (will take about a month). Boil the warthog with other ingredients (except guineafowl) till nice and juicy. Now boil elephant chunks over high flames till tender. (will take about 4 weeks) and add everything together. Boil for another 5 to 7 days.

      Produces about 3,500 helpings.

  •  Actually, the right words have been around for a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Terranova0

    long time.  The ideas need to be organized, cohesive understandable, meaningful and memorable .  I mean really.  The wars, the economy, climate change,  yadda, yadda, yadda.  Such a mishmash people tune it out. Secondly, the words need to be broadcast.  Saying them on a blog isn't going reach all that many people.  That's a pretty passive approach.  Thirdly, the words need to be repeated over and over otherwise they don't sink in.

    This isn't rocket science.  It's what Fox does so very successfully.

    This essay is a little long-winded and short on solutions.  It talks about "we on the left."  How about the Democratic party?  Where the hell are they?  The party machine and the administration are pretty much worthless when it comes to promoting liberal truths.  Oh, wait.  The President makes those speeches every week, right?  They don't exactly reach the mainstream.  The politicos prefer to make strategic retreats instead of standing up for their ideals.  The Democratic party should be the force behind getting facts to the public but instead they spend all their resources getting Blue Dogs re-elected.

    Here's the diary about Jerry Brown and defeating Republican memes:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

  •  I greatly appreciate your well-thought-out words. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis

    We have to understand what makes strangers receptive to what we are saying, in addition to what in fact we are saying, by making sure we don't turn them away with poor choices of words, demeanor or expressions.

  •  Are you channeling Jon Stewart? (0+ / 0-)

    That last two paragrahs could have come directly from Stewart.   But here is the problem I have with anybody who attempts to prescribe the bounds of presentation and debate is that they always in the end circumscribe what is allowable content.  

    For example, Stewart in his role as the new Miss Manners of public debate called out liberals, those on the left as using fundamentally illegitimate provocation when Bush is called a war criminal.  In Stewart's world, such content is not allowed.  Stewart went to quite frankly censoring certain leftist content and forms of presentatin as in for example his attacks on Code Pink.

    Telling people how to say something always devolves into censorship as it leads to the control of content.

    Also, as a matter of agitprop, what you propose misses the point.  No single or several well made non-offensive arguments on cable will not change anybody's opinion.  If agitprop is to work, it must be repeated and made part of unspoken assumptions.   So the issue is how do liberal/leftist voices get into the mass media.  And the model to make all of these bound by the rules of high school debating will lead nowhere.

  •  Public intellectuals in America? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrWebster, Annalize5, Laurence Lewis
    The question was why a man of Chomsky's intellect and credentials is never allowed onto the opinion pages of our major print media, and is never interviewed by our major broadcast media.

    The answer is that our major print media and our major broadcast media are not French.  And neither are we.  We Americans don't do public intellectuals.  Or scientists.  We do rapturists (etc.).  More money in that.  

  •  Thank you LL - your words matter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis

    very thoughtful piece.

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon May 23, 2011 at 03:20:48 AM PDT

  •  Best piece I've read on or off the Internet. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis

    Should be required reading for all on the left.

    Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

    by JTinDC on Mon May 23, 2011 at 04:20:50 AM PDT

  •  When people treat Obama as any other president (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrWebster

    Then language that was previously used is now out of bounds?

    Whatever. If Hillary Clinton became president, and people said "She doesn't have any balls" on such and such an issue, it is not a reflection of her womanhood, but a reflection of timidity and weakness on issues that matter to them. The same goes for criticism of Obama- it is not a reflection of his racial background, but rather, critics are treating him the same as they did Bush, Clinton, Bush 1, Reagan, Carter, etc. You know, all the white guys who were president before.

    What I find terrible, is how Progressives claim that we are a diverse crowd and tolerant of a variety of opinions, but many of us act the same as any Bushista blindly supporting Dear Leader based on character rather than policy.

    Cornell West, whatever his background, is just as entitled to an opinion about the president, and to use his soapbox as any other person in this country. The vitriol and personal attacks against West or anyone viewed as supporting his position is astonishing. And those who engage in it? They'll never be ashamed- it's rank tribalism for many politically motivated citizens- us vs. them. And nothing a rational person says is going to dissuade them.

    And the ironic thing is- Cornell West is actually pointing out the most important Us vs. Them position in the history of humanity- Humanity vs. Corporations.

    And so many Progressives are defending Corporate policies because of the perceived attack on Dear Leader.

    Fuck that. Grow a pair of balls people. Even FDR asked us to hold him accountable because corporate influence was so rife in Washington.

    Above Grecian mantles were chiseled these words... Know Thyself... Nothing in Excess... the pop philosophy of its day.

    by ravagerofworlds2 on Mon May 23, 2011 at 06:09:37 AM PDT

  •  We are, for the most part, rational individualists (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis

    who share some overarching common values.

    The community of fools might be small if it were not such an accomplished proselytizer.

    by ZedMont on Mon May 23, 2011 at 06:09:49 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site