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About six months ago, I wrote this diary.  Today, I logged on to Kos, and found this diary, by Cassiodorus.

The name kind of intrigued me, so I looked into it.  Well, I was disappointed to say the least.  In the name of seeming to call me out as an Obamabot, as somebody who reflexively thinks everything is fine, Cassiodorus completely fucked up my actual message.

What was that?  That things have been worse, and our forebears made them better.  That all the bad news, which is bad news, which does make things worse is no cause for us to simply declare that Democracy is dead, that it's all downhill from here.  It's cause for us to fight back, and most importantly, for us to figure out, at every turn, what we can do to redeem the situation.

I used the term "despair porn" to describe the endless flow of soul-crushing analysis GBCW diaries, Corpocracy rules, and whatever else diaries.  Despair for this sense that nothing can be done, porn for its quality of one-dimensional thinking.

I wrote it, in part, because I was sick of being told things were bad, that we had suffered serious setbacks.  I was sick of people simply allowing the backsliding of this country to convince them that nothing could be done.

The idea of the diary was far from telling people to do nothing, or to worry about nothing.  It was to tell people to use their worry as motivation to do something about the problem, to do their part to think of a way to resolve the problems they so hate.  In essence, my diary told people the exact opposite of what Cassiodorus is saying I told them.

You think the President isn't acting liberal enough?  Well, think of things you can do to get better results.  And I don't just mean primaries, or bitter criticism.  I'm sure he gets plenty of that.  How about strategizing on how to change the paradigm of the electorate back towards liberal policy, so we can more easily push our kind of conclusion?  How about figuring out a message that can rock the Republicans back on their heels, even with their own voters?

You have a problem with the ways the laws are written?  Well you have two political problems: The Republicans who filibuster in the Senate, and the Republicans who are the majority in the House.  You might do yourself some big favors in that department if you can untangle the logjam and get America's political will flowing through Congress again.  No question, it's terrible that things have ended up that way, but I'd like people to remember that things have been worse than they are now in many ways before.

That was another purpose of the diary, by the way: to remind people that other folks, in the past, had to politically organize in order to change things from what they were.  The unions didn't gain legitimacy overnight.  Somebody had to figure out how to win the battle on that, before that battle was won.  The budget deficit didn't resolve itself.  Somebody had to figure out how to balance the budget, and make that fight work.

Somebody had to get those environmental laws that Republicans struck down passed in the first place.  Getting them back on the books will take effort, too.

Long story short, if we have to fight to restore the rights, the regulations, and the laws we think are important, and to get rights, laws, and policies manifested for the first time, we have got to start from the position that it is possible to achieve these things, if we want to have the motivation to go through all the crap it requires to get these things done.

If we're telling ourselves the corporations rule, if we take our political setbacks as evidence that nothing can be done, we're not going to apply those clever little minds of ours to the task of defeating our political opponents.  We're just going to lie down and let our opponents run us over, and our voices become irrelevant.

Winning freedoms and gaining sensible, humane policies in a democracy is an active enterprise.  It takes willpower.  It takes the willingness (yes) to stick with imperfect politicians, because there are times when failing to do so only gets you a worse person in that office, and an additional setback.  Of course, it also takes the wisdom and savvy to identify the people we can get rid of, or at least scare straight.

I am not telling people to give up.  Far from it.  I'm telling people to get rid of all this bullshit about quitting, about withholding fundraising, and all that counterproductive thinking, and instead aggressively pursue their political goals by pragmatically working out what the obstacles are in their path, and then working to overcome them.

I don't need to be told that things are bad.  I don't need to be told that we've lost some precious things.  I learn about these things all the time.  What we need is a practical direction, a practical outlet for all that concerns us, for all we deal with in terms of our interests.  We need to form the movements and the institutions that can lead us into battle, that can help us organize against our political rivals.  Rather than merely comment on the Republican's messaging, or the President's, we need to selling our ideas, our hopes and dreams, our message to the public, and we need to be thinking of how to do that towards an audience that doesn't interpret things through our lens.

We face a complex mess of problems here, the result of decades worth of Republican victories and Democratic Defeats.  It's not going to be resolved overnight, or by simple means.  It's going to be one hell of a fight that's going to last a long time.

My message is that it's a fight we can win, and that it's a fight worth fighting.  My message is that those who came before us already won many of these battles.  We have no right to despair, in the light of those truths.  We do not have to accept defeat, and we should not.  Rather than get cynical and passive which each additional setback, we should get more serious, and more crafty, more inventive and more dedicated to getting what we're looking to get.

I wish Cassiodorus had understood that before.  I wish he or she had understood that my philosophy isn't merely empty practicality, but idealism that uses pragmatic, strategic thinking to break through the armor the status quo's tossed up around it, that follows the example of those who made progress in this country before us.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip: The first step to changing... (40+ / 0-)

    ...the status quo is getting the nasty, stubborn idea that actually changing it is possible.

    The first step to not changing it is getting the pernicious idea in your head that you've been defeated before you started.

    Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

    by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 04:02:08 PM PDT

    •  You're right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal, Killer of Sacred Cows
      Tip: The first step to changing the status quo is getting the nasty, stubborn idea that actually changing it is possible.

      Exactly why the chicken little diaries annoy me so much.  Whining into an echo chamber of people who already agree with you accomplishes NOTHING.

      Preaching to the choir and then shooting them when they don't sing loud enough isn't a good strategy for increasing the size of the congregation.

      by Matisyahu on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:56:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you so much for the positivity (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Killer of Sacred Cows

      We need that to keep going.

      I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

      by Futuristic Dreamer on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:27:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The first step towards changing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse

      is recognizing that you have a problem.

      Cassiodorus did not twist the meaning of your term.  You can thank those who have used it despairingly against people who have pointed out things that are extremely problematic in knee-jerk defense of a party that I once held dear to my heart - a party that has abandoned its roots and its true constituency.

      If you really do not want people to loose faith in their power to change things, then you need to allow them to go through the evolution of ideas and thought that will facilitate that change.  If you tell them not to think, then you are stifling change and are insincere in your concerns expressed in this diary.

      I don't know what you think really, but I know that people are unhappy and trying to work this all out.

  •  I'll repeat what I said in the referenced (10+ / 0-)

    diary...

    If you truly believe the things cited in that diary (and presumably, your original one here) - that a faceless cabal of international banksters seeks to enslave us, that we're 100 years from extinction due to environmental pillaging, that's there's not a lick of difference between the parties...

    Politics and political activism make no sense.  It's never been effective in dealing with such historical boogeymen and it's never been used to bring about revolutionary change.

    It's to the barricades, to the streets, and to revolution...

    I'm not there and I have a hard time seeing how I could ever be "there" (but I never say never), but I just cannot see how anyone can logically believe those things and think that they can be answered via campaigns, ballots, and governments.

    Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

    by zonk on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 04:10:40 PM PDT

    •  I just always wonder what people who believe that (10+ / 0-)

      are doing on a Democratic blog that is supposed to have the purpose of electing more and better Democrats.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 04:33:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The threat of "barricade...streets...revolution".. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stevej, trashablanca, SoCalSal

      ...is a political tool in inself, sort of like a metaphorical threat of a club against the head of careerist politicians who (consumed with fund-raising from those who have the funds) cannot be shaken from fealty to their funding sources by any other action, save the occasional open scandal involving those sources.  I am "not there yet" either, but only because I'm fortunate and don't live in the other percentages who are seemingly forever raped economically by a system in which all the action occurs on the inside of the fund-raising world.  But, my heart breaks for those being assaulted by this system and, watching the years pass too quickly, I wonder if I'm not missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of something so much greater than the accumulation of "more".

      •  Hey, me too -- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal, Larry Bailey

        How can you not wonder?

        In relative terms, I'm not all that long removed from being quashed myself - my 20s and early 30s were a generally unpleasant mix of jumping turnstyles because I lacked the $1.50 for L fair, staying just days on the 'right' side of delivered eviction notices, and never having phone, gas, and electric in operation at the same time in my roach infested studio.  I still remember the day my student loan garnishment ended and the balance hit zero - I thought I'd won the lottery on that first paycheck afterwards.

        It will never be long enough or far enough from those days for me to be completely convinced that the system is fundamentally sound; that it just has a few margins and rough edges.

        Critical mass and all - but at the end of the day, I just also remember that for me, most of those days were in the latter half of the 90s and into the aughts when things were supposedly going well.

        I'm not in any way, shape, or form one of these "rough times build character" types - I guess that I just think that if I wasn't at that point then, how could I be now?

        Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

        by zonk on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:59:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You can either see it as one huge problem... (4+ / 0-)

      ...of insane complexity that no human mind can solve, or you can see it as a bunch of smaller, more solveable problems that you can breakdown into feasible, effective strategies.

      It's part of the point of having a human brain, what it does for us: faced with a complex problem, we can take it apart, model it, not just sit their confused by its totality.

      It's sort of like that line out of the movie The Edge.  People die of shame, because they get caught up asking what did they do to get into this, how could they be so stupid.

      And they don't do the one thing that can save them: think.  Figure the world out around them.

      The Democrats have to stop asking themselves how they could get into such a terrible position, and have to start doing the things they need to do to get themselves out of it.

      Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:49:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can't thank you enough for my badly needed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal

        dose of positive thinking in this comment, and diary.

        I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

        by Futuristic Dreamer on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:57:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  To take that a step further.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal

        In regards to insane complexity, here's a personal experience from my work life.

        We were working on a project that involved a great deal of media components. The company kept acting as though they could redesign one of those components to have "identical" performance and slot it in smoothly.

        Of course, this never actually happened: even with "identical performance" the substitution of one piece with a different one set of a chain reaction that could take weeks to work out. (And, of course, those weeks were never in the schedule, because of the faith in "identical performance".) Before we knew it other components of the system stopped working, and we couldn't figure out why.

        Of course, at first, it seemed like "a problem of overwhelming complexity". And of course, we did what you talked about: broke it down into smaller units. But in a way, the core of the problem lay in the fact that the company was taking that concept too far. They failed to recognize how a single unit interacted with all the others.

        The project manager had a brilliant insight into how to explain this concept to the rest of the company: he found one of those wooden puzzles in the shape of a sphere. He'd explain how you could not take any one piece and merely slip it out of the sphere -- all the pieces interlocked in a certain way, and to change the shape of one piece even slightly you needed to first disassemble the sphere and also change the shape of the adjacent pieces.

        The point of this is to get the idea across that the individual pieces are part of a system, and that you needed to keep two things in mind at once: both the individual pieces and how those pieces fit together.
        You could view the evolution in our thinking thus:

        a) The system is broken, and it's too complicated for us to understand what to fix. We feel hopeless.

        b) THIS is the thing we need to fix. We feel good, because we can fix it. But wait...  now something else in the system is broken. We've lost all progress.

        c) We need to identify the thing that needs fixing, and also examine how that fix interacts with the rest of the system BEFORE we implement the solution.

        The results of this insight were that we (a) stopped assuming problems could be comprehended and fixed quickly and (b) implemented fixes that worked the first time, even though it might take longer to implement.

        To make a long story end: it's the forest AND the trees that count. You need to see the individual problems and the system at the same time.

        But doing that makes for lousy porn, doesn't it?

        I'm a concert pianist with a double doctorate... AND YOU CAN BE TOO!

        by kenlac on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 08:12:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "Do or do not. There is no try." (0+ / 0-)
        And they don't do the one thing that can save them: think.  Figure the world out around them.

        I can think myself into stasis, caught between considering today's complexity and seeking the simple solution. Truth is, I'm often edging my foot over the threshold on the ready to leave. So I agree with your statement and it brought the yoda quote to mind.

        Think. Plan. Act.

        The cynicism and negativity on Daily Kos is unhealthy and demoralizing. But I like your diary, Stephen Daugherty. Tip'd and Rec'd.

  •  Many union men died for those rights. (8+ / 0-)

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 04:10:42 PM PDT

  •  Gandhi, as always, sets the precedent: (6+ / 0-)

    "I am willing to die for my cause, but I am not willing to kill for it".

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 04:11:43 PM PDT

  •  "Despair" is your choice of words (9+ / 0-)

    Cassiodorus gave examples, links. You didn't. So the reader is left with your choice of words.

    I used the term "despair porn" to describe the endless flow of soul-crushing analysis GBCW diaries, Corpocracy rules, and whatever else diaries.  Despair for this sense that nothing can be done
    To see analysis about weighty and complex issues and interpret as despair is not uncommon but it  is well-represented in Cassiodorus' diary IMO. Otherwise, why despair? Objection, protest, anger, challenge, searching, but not despair.

    Unless you provide greater clarity through an example, I have to wonder why the notion of despair when when I see analysis - some good, some not so good, some bad - it's always based on the assumption that something indeed can be done with the right level set.

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 04:16:40 PM PDT

  •  Gotta say, too... (7+ / 0-)

    I'm a little amused that your original diary, which drew all of 6 comments, seems to have triggered such a response... none of which were inflammatory or controversial.

    Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

    by zonk on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 04:17:20 PM PDT

    •  You must not have read Cassio's diary? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund

      It wasn't triggered by the six month old despair porn diary at all. If you actually read the diary, the first time he even links to the comment where he first saw the word despair porn and it was not in the diary from six months ago.

      'We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!' - Hillary Clinton

      by pot on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:13:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ahhh... so it was comment #267 (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        howarddream, kenlac, Matisyahu, terabthia2

        which ironically also got 6 recs, in a thread of 634 comments, nested four levels deep, that garnered one direct response which created the necessity.

        Gotcha.

        Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

        by zonk on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:39:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are the one who assumed what triggered the (0+ / 0-)

          diary, not me.

          Gotcha.

          'We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!' - Hillary Clinton

          by pot on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:47:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think you're quite getting my point (0+ / 0-)

            Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

            by zonk on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:02:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah I do and your point is irrelevant. (0+ / 0-)

              What does it matter? You dismiss his diary because he because the comment was in a sea of other comments and only had a few recs?

              'We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!' - Hillary Clinton

              by pot on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:21:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Complete rubbish (11+ / 0-)

    You repeatedly misrepresent critics of Obama as wanting to give up, while the exact opposite is true.  Obama critics are trying to get Obama move in a direction that most Democrats expected him to move.

    You should be embarrassed and ashamed for misrepresenting the views of so many people.

    •  Sitting on a blog, quoting other blogs, (7+ / 0-)

      ain't gonna get that done.

    •  Despair porn isn't only for Obama's critics (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal

      And not all of Obama's critics are on the same page.

      If you value positivism in the progressive movement, and believe we can make the changes we want to see, instead of giving in to despair, you should rec this diary.

      I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

      by Futuristic Dreamer on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:31:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Read it again. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal

      What I'm saying is that Obama's critics might want to see the problem in the context of the political pressures he faces.  If you can change the overall political situation, if you can shift things back from the rightward direction, you might get more liberal things out of this President.

      But if you just criticize him, and tell him he's on his own... well, he'll still be facing the same political environment that has Republicans holding the country hostage, even if he does everything we ask of him.

      What I'm talking about here is enabling more liberal policy at a grassroots level, clearing out the bullshit that has Washington back in conservative mode again.

      Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:54:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for This Response (16+ / 0-)

    What you are saying, much of it, makes sense to me.

    At the same time, I am not convinced that we have yet effectively aired our grievances.  When I write what I think some might see as despair porn, I am trying to excite interest in injustices that I see in the system.

    Until we acknowledge the problems, we aren't going to get to solutions.

    And we're not acknowledging the problems.

    Find me fast on Daily Kos by following me.

    by bink on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 04:23:22 PM PDT

    •  That's a valid point. (14+ / 0-)

      I think that what grates on the nerves of so many, though, are all the generalized "Dems sux!" and "Obama sux!" diaries.

      Alot of those diaries and comments just seem like they are designed to randomly throw shit at the walls and see what sticks.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 04:37:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think there is a pattern amongt some posters (11+ / 0-)

        to run to a diary and make some vague statement about bankers or corporations or Obama that it is well known many people will agree with to garner a ton of recs and attention.  I see some people do it in diary after diary and those people tend to not add anything to the conversation.  Its "despair porn" or "mental masturbation" or what not because the comment is designed to create an emotional response for the author instead of informing or adding to a dialogue.  

        I believe its fine, healthy and necessary to express disappointment.  But expressing disappointment isn't a solution on to itself.  I wish more people here were willing to take that next step into actual activism.  Disappointment that leads to activism is a good thing.   Disappointment that leads to more disappointment which leads to more disappointment is an easy way to become cynical.  In my experience, cynics and pessimists make some of the worst activists.  

        •  then you misunderstand the whole thing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pot

          I do agree with you that cynics make the worst activists and that's why those of us who have become cynical, thanks to the 180 that President Obama has made (or however you want to describe it...the difference between candidate Obama and President Obama) will NOT be working for him. We know it would be counterproductive for us to talk to voters when we, ourselves, feel anger towards him.

          We know it would be counterproductive when undecided voters ask us why they should vote for President Obama and we want to say "darned if I know".

          But, anyway, the idea that someone would post a "vague statement about bankers or corporations" is goofy. It'd be like me saying "some supporters love coming to dKos and saying 'isn't he the coolest?' for no good reason." It's a superficial reading of what's going on, wouldn't you agree? And a bit insulting.

          •  Some posters do like coming to Dkos and rooting (6+ / 0-)

            for Obama.  They post only in pro-Obama diaries or post their own and make sure to take aim at the other clan.  I find their statements to be boring as well.  They often times are also just fishing for recs.

            But please tell me, what is going on?  I don't know how what I said was insulting or what I'm missing.   I didn't say their weren't informative diaries, there are many.  But there are also many cheerleaders and boo-birds who whole point in posting seem to be to cheer or to boo.  I understand why the cheer people wouldn't be out their taking it to the streets, but I'm not sure why the boo-birds seem so afraid of street-level activism.  

            •  I believe in people's sincerity (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SoCalSal

              I know, theoretically, some might be looking for a pat on the back but I think that's rare.

              I think the people who are disappointed in the President believe (and this includes me) that a comparison of the 2008 rhetoric with the actual direction that the Administration has taken will show serious discrepancies and that, once this is shown, will convince the President's supporters to join in on putting pressure on the President to go back to what he said he believed in.

              I think the people who support the President honestly believe he's a brilliant man doing the best he can against a lot of opposition and object to those criticizing him because it gives his enemies more opportunity to make things difficult.

              And there are all sorts of nuances here, too. I greatly simplified the explanation. My point is, all of the people I disagree with are sincere in what they write and believe it helps matters. All of the people I agree with are sincere and believe it helps matters.

        •  That's how I define it too....the same (10+ / 0-)

          shit, written a slightly different way.

          I also believe blogs block actual activism.  MUCH easier to be here writing the despair born than at the Goldman Sachs offices day after day after day.

          What so many seem to forget:  many of us oldsters were hurt and or killed to change the world.  You think anyone on dkos is gonna go out and get themselves knocked in the head with a nightstick?  Or take a punch to the jaw from a pro-life protestor 2 times her size?  Few ever have or will.  Unions weren't voted in....people put their whole lives on the line to form them and some died to keep them.  I don't see a whole lot of Americans standing up like that now.

          And that is where despair porn comes in....sit and type and think up pithy slogans or just wallow in how awful things are and blame it on dems they don't like.  Those powers that be fucking love the internet....it's better than tv to keep people in their chairs because they feeeeeeeeel like they're doing something!

          Seems to me, Meteor Blades ought to have a big ol' case of the despairs.  He's been at this activism stuff for decades too and still has work to do.  But his diaries are measured and fact-filled, not screeching screeds with blockquotes from other blogs.

        •  Who are these people you refer to? (0+ / 0-)

          'We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!' - Hillary Clinton

          by pot on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 05:48:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
          I wish more people here were willing to take that next step into actual activism

          Presumptuous

        •  Yep. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Futuristic Dreamer, SoCalSal

          As soon as I read hair-on-fire comments including "Geithner!, Summers!, Bernanke!, Banksters!" I just stop reading. It got old the first 1000 times.

          I miss Speaker Pelosi :^(

          by howarddream on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:46:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  arguable (4+ / 0-)
    You think the President isn't acting liberal enough?  Well, think of things you can do to get better results.  And I don't just mean primaries, or bitter criticism. I'm sure he gets plenty of that.

    maybe the criticism will help. Shouting could get his attention.

    How about strategizing on how to change the paradigm of the electorate back towards liberal policy, so we can more easily push our kind of conclusion?  How about figuring out a message that can rock the Republicans back on their heels, even with their own voters?

    we'd have to run ourselves, since some of us believe the elected representatives have no intention of doing right. The electorate voted for an anti-Bush in 2008. That's plenty liberal. But the politicians had something else in mind.

    And speaking of Republicans...

    You have a problem with the ways the laws are written?  Well you have two political problems: The Republicans who filibuster in the Senate, and the Republicans who are the majority in the House.

    see the front page thing about Ben Nelson. The Blue Dogs are every bit as responsible as the Republicans.

    And then there's the fourth problem which you don't want to hear about today.

    •  Please remember that that "electorate" (5+ / 0-)

      barely elected the anti-bush......just over 50% of the vote ain't a landslide, y'know.

      The very first thing that needs to get done is to change the attitude of the American people.  But that means addressing envy, and as we've seen through the centuries, that's a very hard nut to crack.

    •  If the Republicans were weaker, or less united... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal

      ...Ben Nelson would not get the opportunities to be the spoiler he got to be.

      We can't just change the numbers in Washington, we have to essentially break Republican unity, making them as fractious as we were at a similar point in time.

      And yes, if you have to, if you don't feel you have an alternative, do run yourselves.  At the very least, push the politicians, the way Howard Dean did, towards getting with the program.

      What I'm talking about here is not merely offering the same opposition to the Republicans we always have, but taking action that shifts things politically, changes the game for the Republicans in a way that works against them.  Medicare is a great example.  Hopefully, Democrats have the brains to leave it alone.

      Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 08:00:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  you can oly understand what something is when (8+ / 0-)

    you can point to its opposite - so what is, and what can we call, the opposite of "despair porn"?

    I'd like to think of a clever name for it ("everything is just dandy porn?) and point to its concrete playout (applauding and swooning over the pic collection?), but I'm not sure I can

    as always the proper approach is somewhere in the middle, avoiding the excesses of both extremes:

    reality-based evaluation of President Obama's policies and achievements or lack thereof in the light of what is factually possible that avoids both wholesale rejection and adolescent swooning?

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 04:51:13 PM PDT

    •  I'd point to an action diary (5+ / 0-)

      that has do-ble, concrete steps people can take to help change their world.....not THE world.

      Part of the problem is people look at ALL the problems and think it is insurmountable.  Working locally is the way to go, but it's not nearly as glamorous.  It's work.  There is little acknowledgement of your efforts (like a rec list and people paying attention to "meeeeeee!") and it takes a long, long time for much of what you do to bear fruit.  Living in the go-go-gadget 2000's has it's downfalls.....when people don't get the change they want, like clicking the "Buy It Now" button on Amazon, they kind of give up.  Once we figure out how to change THAT, we're on our way :-)

    •  Yay for the middle, the nuance, the shades of gray (5+ / 0-)

      Much of the trouble on this site, and in the country, is the black/white thinking. The search for "opposites". The reality is that a good many people, (including Republicans), desire the same general outcomes - but there are huge differences about the paths for getting there.  Just about everybody on this site that I know of is fully behind the same outcomes, but among us we still have quite large differences about the paths for getting there - and equally large differences about the tactics needed to forge those paths. And we spend a whoooole lot of time flaming, fighting and flinging pies over those tactics.

    •  "Optimism porn" (0+ / 0-)

      The purveyors of one type hate the purveyors of the other. All the pornographers want a monopoly on the porn market.

      I'm a concert pianist with a double doctorate... AND YOU CAN BE TOO!

      by kenlac on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:53:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Opposite or middle... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal

      ... neither makes something right.  Otherwise, Democrats and Republicans would be better than we see them performing.

      No, what I'm talking about here is asking ourselves how we can break up Republican talking points, how we can appeal to the people they're competing with us for, and maybe even carve off some of their Demographics.

      Yes, Reality based evaluation of what Obama's done- including the reality of how Republicans are affecting the balance of power in real terms.  If you get that, you can start thinking of ways to put the GOPers on the defensive, taking some of the resistance away on policy.

      One way to put it, is that it's like a puzzle box, and we're trying to arrange the pieces so that other pieces can slide free and match up like we need them to.

      Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 08:05:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe we just don't have a long time for some (6+ / 0-)

    of our more serious problems.  Maybe we need something more than just keeping the Republicans at bay and blaming the republicans for all our problems.  Like really recognizing what the problems are, who and what are behind them, and citizen activism geared directly towards them.  We absolutely need more than just voting for democrats and hoping we can turn the tide over decades.
    But then again, that's just a matter of opinion to most.

    S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 05:15:31 PM PDT

    •  We're fixing problems (4+ / 0-)

      that had already been fixed during our parent's generation.  

      No one likes to watch others repeat the same dumb mistakes then grumble about having to fix them.  We know what's wrong, how to fix it.

      Let's just do it and stop helping the GOP break even more good policy pottery.

      "My father always told me that all businessmen were sons of bitches, but I never believed it until now." - JFK during the 1962 Steel Crisis

      by Betty Pinson on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 05:46:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They didn't have much time in the Great Depression (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BigAlinWashSt, SoCalSal

      either.  Bad times and corrupt leaders are always big problems.  Always.

      We can identify causes/sources to blame and thenfind ways to try and solve or at least attempt to influence - through reporting, activism, donations, etc. - all parties should be looked at, I feel.

      But, in this system, we must have our thumbs on the scales a little bit and accept that Democrats remain our best vehicle for changes, even if they are compromised by the corruption that's been primarily led by Republicans over these many years.  DC is a caustic, self-contained environment run on lobbyist money more than ever.

      I find bobswern and Badabing diaries repetitive and not always helpful, in terms of creating more despair porn.  Inciting fervency of purpose is a good thing, I feel: I'm definitely for motivational speakers who have productive, good intentions in mind.  I seem to draw the line at those, in the context of this being a Democratic-supporting blog, who seem to lose context of which politicians we're trying to help push forward on our behalf vs. those who are truly our (and society's) enemies, though.

      The Earth's environment is a different matter, but that's a worldwide issue and something we can't likely effect as much as what's local, I figure.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:37:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe in the end it's just their way of saying (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader, SoCalSal

        the problems are such that we can't solve them thru the electoral process alone.  Not many on here can deny that the democrats are our best chance thru the national political process.  Bob himself has said numerous times he will vote for Obama and so has Ms. B.   It's a fine line with the stated purpose of this blog for sure.

        S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

        by BigAlinWashSt on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:46:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I gotta get off this maybe thing. Geesh. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, SoCalSal

          S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

          by BigAlinWashSt on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:49:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe is good, sometimes (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BigAlinWashSt, SoCalSal

            Shows that your mind remains open to possibilities . . . maybe. ;)

            "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

            by wader on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:29:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe's not a bad word... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kenlac, BigAlinWashSt, SoCalSal

            ... when words of certainty don't reflect actual certainty.

            We should remain aware that not all the possibilities of how things can turn out, for good as well as bad, are known to us.  Sometimes you have to keep some sense that a problem is solveable, to keep you from quiting in the midst of trying to solve it.

            In my experience, that's one of the most common things Republicans try to encourage in people: the sense that a problem, whether economic, environmental, health-oriented, or whatever simply cannot be solved.  So why bother?  Why bother, for example, writing rules that enact gun control, when Criminals are going to steal guns anyways.

            We have to stay out of the traps of learned helplessness.

            Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

            by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 08:16:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I think people posting diaries about matters... (0+ / 0-)

      ...of concern should throw the floor open to possible lines of action, relating to the issue at hand.

      I mean, it's not like we don't have people here who couldn't organize events of some kind, or media events of some kind that could get further broadcast online and off.

      People need to get the impression that Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives are running an operation that can straighten the crooked paths of poltical power.  We need to be compelling, on many different levels.

      If some problems are not long on the time horizon... well, it might already be too late.  But the quickest way to solve any problem is to solve it properly.  If we simply act in haste, we can undercut ourselves.  I mean, we solved our blue dog problem, but was the Republican Majority worth it?

      No, we need to change more than what Democrats are out there, we need to change the predominant political power in this country.

      Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 08:12:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Idealism is a waste of time, Steven. (4+ / 0-)

    The politicians depend on it.  The only thing they truly respect is a threat against their professional career.  Screw the idealism that they can so easily manipulate; cheer the threats they fear.

    •  It's no waste. (0+ / 0-)

      It's what motivates us to keep the pressure on and the process moving forward.  Cynicism only breeds passivity in the fact or problems.  It's a defense mechanism against putting your heart into something.

      Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 08:17:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  change we can believe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pot

    change we can believe in,  hey that kinda catchy, someone should use that and help change this country.. oh thats right..

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 05:24:03 PM PDT

    •  Do you abandon your efforts after only a few years (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal

      ...or do you stubbornly keep pushing forward with your efforts?

      Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 08:18:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  asdf... (5+ / 0-)

    I find it rather strange that Cassiodorus took it upon himself to respond to a diary you wrote SIX months ago. And you had only six comments, as someone pointed out, in your original diary. It did not make much waves. So why, then, did Cassiodorus feel the need  to dig it up and post a snide, condescending (but admittedly clever and humorous) snark post in response to it?

    I don't know if I'm ticked off at him or myself...for not falling for the snark. My snark meter is usually pretty good. I was all set to fist-pump him for saying what I thought needed to be said...then I read some of the comments and felt like I was back in high school with egg on my face and the "cooler" cliquey kids were laughing at me.

    It's frustrating because it came closer to saying, if it was in non-snark mode of course, what I wanted to say without sounding like a Pollyanna. I'm far from being a Pollyanna. There's a time for grim realism but you can't live on that 24/7. You just can't. Or at least I can. I'm as angry as you can get about The State of Things but... sigh. It's hard to explain. Climate Change is really the heart of how I feel. Some of the predictions are so dire I have trouble even reading them or accepting them. I grew up thinking there would always be a future. Yet if you REALLY think we're all going to be dead in 100 years (or even sooner, some say!) then, really, what's the point of doing...anything??? Why not just kill ourselves now??? Sorry, I just can't accept that. No way. No how. But part of that, I'll freely admit, is simply the fact that I cannot possibly accept that humans have let it come to THIS when it comes to the environment. I don't WANT to believe it. It's a thin line for sure.

    I'm NOT an "Obama Sux/The Dems are no different from the GOP" type of person but I'm NOT a cheerleader by any means, either. I'm as angry leftist as some who are accused of being the "Professional Left" are. There's plenty about what Obama's done that's disappointed me. I just... there's a middle ground in this area that I think would behoove everyone to try and aim for.

  •  Change is better than cheerleading (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larry Bailey, Cassiodorus, terabthia2

    And we can't fix problems if we ignore their existence.

    I'll take the side any day of fixing problems rather than ignoring them.  I'm a Democrat, I'm a humanitarian. Sue me.

    "My father always told me that all businessmen were sons of bitches, but I never believed it until now." - JFK during the 1962 Steel Crisis

    by Betty Pinson on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 05:30:33 PM PDT

  •  I have no problem with pointing out problems (7+ / 0-)

    of the world.

    What I don't like is the douchebaggy, middle-school snarkiness and poutiness that characterizes some of the so-called "despair porn" and which is reflected in some of the douchey comments in this diary.

    Your tone in this diary was pretty measured and reasoned.  People should be able to disagree with this in a measured and reasoned tone.  A commenter above has managed to do so.  But apparently others couldn't resist the opportunity to respond in a dickish manner, simply because you had the nerve to write something they disagreed with.

    All too often those with valid criticisms manage to present their criticisms in such a childish, disagreeable fashion that even when I agree with their criticisms I find the persons making such criticisms so obnoxious that I find it hard to sympathize with them.

    Here's a quote from Harold Ickes, who was Franklin Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior, speaking of liberal critics of Roosevelt, that captures my feelings perfectly:

    There have been many occasions during my life when I have wished that I could go over to the political and social Philistines.  I get very tired of the smug self-satisfaction, the holier-than-thou attitude, the sneering meticulousness of men and women with whose outlook on economic and social questions I often regretfully find myself in accord. It seems to be a fact that a reformer would rather hold up to ridicule another reformer because of some newly discovered fly speck than he would to clean out Tammany Hall.  (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The Politics of Upheaval, 413-414)

    Basically, I have no problem with people pointing out the injustices of the world or criticizing our political leaders.  That sort of thing is absolutely vital to healthy political debate.  But when critics start acting like Bill Paxton in the movie Aliens, constantly whining "Game over man!" I just feel like telling them to fuck off and go listen to The Cure or something.  And besides, behaving in such a perpetually aggrieved, douchey manner hasn't exactly been a resounding success in "pushing" the political debate leftward.  

    "I used to try to get things done by saying `please'. That didn't work and now I'm a dynamiter. I dynamite `em out of my path." - Huey Long

    by puakev on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 05:36:26 PM PDT

    •  Your POTUS is repeating old mistakes (0+ / 0-)

      and he knows they're old mistakes.  That means he's not going to fix them, but wants us to go backwards and give up a great deal of economic progress we've fought to create.

      People who insist on repeating the mistakes of the past deserve as much criticism as we can heap on them.  Rewarding them with praise or pretending to believe their propaganda doesn't work.

      "My father always told me that all businessmen were sons of bitches, but I never believed it until now." - JFK during the 1962 Steel Crisis

      by Betty Pinson on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 05:49:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ??? (6+ / 0-)

        You address the commenter with "Your POTUS". This means he's not also your POTUS? You have a different one?

        •  As the OP said....."douchebaggy comments" (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          trashablanca, Quicklund, wader

          in the diaries.

        •  He doesn't speak for me (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mightymouse

          so I have no qualms about referring to him in that manner.  I don't want to go on record give anyone the impression that I support his agenda.  

          I'm sorry, but I can't follow a leader who favors cutting Social Security and buys into GOP talking points about the economy.

          To those defending Obama on the grounds that he’s saying what he has to politically, I have two answers. First, words matter — as people who rallied around Obama in the first place because of his eloquence should know. Yes, he has to make compromises on policy grounds — but that doesn’t mean he has to adopt the right’s rhetoric and arguments. The effect of his intellectual capitulation is that we now have only one side in the national argument.

          Second, since Obama keeps talking nonsense about economics, at what point do we stop giving him credit for actually knowing better? Maybe at some point we have to accept that he believes what he’s saying.

          Link

          That said, he has plenty of friends and supporters, I'm sure he won't miss me, nor I him.

          I'm always open to changing my mind should he change his.

          "My father always told me that all businessmen were sons of bitches, but I never believed it until now." - JFK during the 1962 Steel Crisis

          by Betty Pinson on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 05:59:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Great! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            conlakappa, SoCalSal, Quicklund

            I look forward to the thousands upon thousands of posts you will write until election day.
            Letting us all know about your feelings towards Barack Obama.
            Really really looking forward to it!

            "Oh no...you changed your hair color? It's just so dark. You like it? And with your skin tone?" My Beloved Mom, December 25 2007, once again on notice.

            by Christin on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:55:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Criticism is fine (7+ / 0-)

        Meteor Blades and nyceve manage to criticize the shit out of the President without sounding like sniping teenage mean girls on Facebook.   But there are many others who have keyboard Tourette's syndrome and who respond with Palinesque nastiness and self-victimization to everything and everyone they disagree with.  

        "I used to try to get things done by saying `please'. That didn't work and now I'm a dynamiter. I dynamite `em out of my path." - Huey Long

        by puakev on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:16:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, yeah, yeah (0+ / 0-)

          Divide and conquer, 2008 style.  We've seen these tricks before.

          Sorry they're not going to convince anyone that they're better off.  

          I feel sorry for you that you have so little respect or compassion for the millions of suffering Americans.  I'll pray for you.

          "My father always told me that all businessmen were sons of bitches, but I never believed it until now." - JFK during the 1962 Steel Crisis

          by Betty Pinson on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:41:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Don't even (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SoCalSal

          respond to sick filth like this.
          let her spew her shit to herself.

          I feel sorry for you that you have so little respect or compassion for the millions of suffering Americans.  I'll pray for you.

          "Oh no...you changed your hair color? It's just so dark. You like it? And with your skin tone?" My Beloved Mom, December 25 2007, once again on notice.

          by Christin on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:56:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The issue, I think... (0+ / 0-)

        ...is with the way the system is being set up, with the Republicans stonewalling everything but their own policy.  As long as they can persist with this and survive politically, Democrats like ourselves are left with just the least bad options.

        We need to realign things, I think, change the incentives of the political landscape.  We need to think long and hard about how we reach independents, and even moderate Republicans, to pull them away from the frenzied fearmongering of the right and the Tea Party.

        Otherwise, these things will continue to reinforce themselves.

        Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

        by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 08:23:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Insightful comment. Thank you. n/t (6+ / 0-)
    •  Perfect analogy! (5+ / 0-)
      But when critics start acting like Bill Paxton in the movie Aliens, constantly whining "Game over man!"

      Love Bill Paxton in that movie, too.  So whiny, so pessimistic so ready to pull the plug out of the grenade.  

      I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

      by princss6 on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:49:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Illogic porn! You disapprove of something (0+ / 0-)

    but cannot rebut or refute it, so you disparage it with a catchy slangy bullshit misnomer, " porn"; in this case, "despair porn", meaning factual analyses of which you disapprove. That is abuse of language in the highest degree.  It is also egregious bullshit and completely transparent. It is simply throwing feces, but instructed as to technique by Hayakawa.  

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 05:55:27 PM PDT

    •  ? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal

      Look, what I can't handle is people who sound like they're saying that the corporations are taking over, that Democracy is dead, this that and the other.

      What I mind are the people who continue to repeat the same pessimistic reports, thinking to motivate people, but without some kind of idea of how to organize against the problem, only serve to convince people that nothing can be done, and the system can't be redeemed.

      What I mind is a culture where it's easier for us to find fault with fellow Democrats, than to go on the offensive against the Republicans, and force them to take the political hits instead.

      We're not merely a monopolistic order of monks who don't have to worry about competitors, we have to outcompete the Republicans at the polls, at the same time we're trying to change our party for the better.

      That's the challenge I'm trying to get people to face.

      Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 08:28:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Doesn't wash. If you had anything substantive (0+ / 0-)

        to say about any of the topics, you would address each one, specifically, and, if you're so damn concerned about the necessity for each diary to include a proposed solution, propose some.

        Instead, you create a fictitious class or set, which you treat like a gimmick or fad, and to which you assign all the diaries and tedious facts and pessimistic reports you dislike and which you identify by a demeaning, phrase with built in pejorative connotations. This "aggregate into a fictitious blot of wrongness and maliciously label" approach is the antithesis of doing just as much as it is of understanding. In essence, it is simply running away from unpleasant facts and realities and then attempting to create a culture of dismissing them via this malicious naming and categorization.

        In response to all of these tedious facts and negative reports, one can refute and rebut, propose action plans and solutions, or throw shit.  You have chosen to do the latter.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 09:00:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  He wasn't actually writing about your diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    He just used your diary as one that popularized the term here I believe. Your diary was only mentioned in the first sentence just to set up the term, the meat of the diary was about other stuff.

    'We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!' - Hillary Clinton

    by pot on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:00:18 PM PDT

  •  "Doing something" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BigAlinWashSt, mightymouse, PapaChach

    isn't necessarily productive of anything.

    The idea of the diary was far from telling people to do nothing, or to worry about nothing.  It was to tell people to use their worry as motivation to do something about the problem, to do their part to think of a way to resolve the problems they so hate.  In essence, my diary told people the exact opposite of what Cassiodorus is saying I told them.

    It's fine to "believe that changing the status quo is possible," but our problem here is that the public perception of what counts as "being pragmatic" simply won't cut it.

    I have pointed out in numerous diaries here at Kos that real, decisive solutions to a number of social problems in America are routinely dismissed, out of hand, by practically anyone who cares.  The common reason given is that it's "not practical," for instance, to phase out oil and coal production because "it will never happen."

    Now, you're welcome to believe that I've misinterpreted you, but, frankly, my diary isn't about you.  To a certain extent it's about the people I quoted in the comment section of one of bobswern's blogs who called HIS stuff "despair porn."  

    The real problem is that "despair porn" is a reaction to the fact that, in political discourse in America today, real solutions to social problems have been pushed discursively out of the realm of possibility.  Instead, "hope & change (tm)" has been attached to cheap solutions which stand no chance of being effective.  Obama will support small business, and that will solve America's joblessness problem, y'know.  Cap-and-trade will solve the global warming problem, y'know.

    I used the term "despair porn" to describe the endless flow of soul-crushing analysis GBCW diaries, Corpocracy rules, and whatever else diaries.  Despair for this sense that nothing can be done, porn for its quality of one-dimensional thinking.

    So what would it take to push the corporations aside and seize power for the people in America today?  If everyone is saying that it will never happen, then there's damn little point in blaming the purveyors of "despair porn."  At least they are busy trying to wake people up to the fact that there's a problem.  I suppose they could be red-in-tooth revolutionaries, except for the fact that most of those people are sectarians who are in spirit still living in 1847 and re-reading their copies of the Manifesto.  And it's easy to deride the other folks who think that things will get worse before they get better, but the closer one looks, the more it looks that way.

    "You must do what you feel is right, of course." Obi-Wan Kenobi, in Episode IV

    by Cassiodorus on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:20:51 PM PDT

    •  "So what would it take to push the corporations... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Futuristic Dreamer

      ...aside and seize power for the people in America today?"

      More than a blog post. HELLA more than a blog post.

      'Course, we could instead talk about putting corporations back into a useful balance, but that wouldn't make for good porn now, would it?

      I'm a concert pianist with a double doctorate... AND YOU CAN BE TOO!

      by kenlac on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:51:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We live in a late capitalist system (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kenlac

        which verges on exhaustion in political/ economic/ ecological realms.  

        Today, government has largely become a conduit for the maintenance of corporate profit rates against a global economy in which the growth rate shrinks for decade to decade.  Against this backdrop, we get what we want by demanding freedom from the corporations, and not merely "balance."

        What we need today is what Ted Trainer called the "conserver society," and not a kinder, gentler profits system.  The compromise solution might have worked thirty years ago.

        "You must do what you feel is right, of course." Obi-Wan Kenobi, in Episode IV

        by Cassiodorus on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:00:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Keep masturbating (0+ / 0-)

      It's so much easier than wooing a partner.

      Just like whining on blogs is much easier than making the incremental changes required in the real world.

      I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

      by Futuristic Dreamer on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:39:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal

      First, by pragmatic, I don't just mean in a one-dimensional political manner.  I mean doing things that both succeed politically AND as policy, for what is possible to get.

      I also mean we don't let up with that, or become satisfied with just that.  What I'm talking about is using every political situation as an opportunity to turn the tide, a small crack that we can wear wide open with our concentrated efforts.

      I have pointed out in numerous diaries here at Kos that real, decisive solutions to a number of social problems in America are routinely dismissed, out of hand, by practically anyone who cares. The common reason given is that it's "not practical," for instance, to phase out oil and coal production because "it will never happen."

      My sensibility is that people will tend to be skeptical if the plan is vague or too broadly overreaching.  That doesn't mean we abandon our overall efforts.  It means we break them up, both for public consumption, and for the sake of logistical sanity.  Put another way, if you can sell people on the idea of a 50+ MPG gas standard, and they remain sold, then you have a much better platform to go all electric and all renewable from.

      Don't try to win the war all in one battle.  Instead, figure out all the things you need to do, figure out the fights needed to have those ideas win,  and then adjust accordingly.

      The added charm of this is that the movement becomes a constant wearing force on the status quo, rather than one big tide they can weather.

      We need to give them no rest here, no let-up.

      We need to plan for activist activity, for ways to change things, if for no other reason than to preserve our sanity.  If all we hear is how bad things are, and are never given any way to relieve that stress, to change things for the better, you bet our morale will suffer, and we'll just wallow in the despair, rather than deal with the problems we face.

      We don't need revolutions half as much as we need some roughness in the surface of what we we're grasping so we can hold on to it.  I mean, really, most people want to change the way things are going in this country.  That's a documentable fact.  Their concern is how it's going to get done, and whether the cure is worse than the disease.

      People know there's a  problem.  They don't need to be woken up.  They need to be given something to do that they feel, rightly one would hope, would lead to an improvement in their situation.  Otherwise, they're just going to wait for a better opportunity to act.

      Simple question: In the years since Republicans successfully urged the disempowering of workers and unions in the Midwest, what has happened to those states economies?

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 08:43:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your main error is offering thought and discussion (3+ / 0-)

    ...to people who want porn.

    I'm a concert pianist with a double doctorate... AND YOU CAN BE TOO!

    by kenlac on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 06:42:13 PM PDT

  •  Warning: Rant enclosed (5+ / 0-)

    The liberal blogosphere is an echo chamber. That's the crux of the problem.  Some people around dKos (and other progressive blogs/forums) don't want to hear that the people on this site are almost uniformly more liberal than 90% (maybe even 95%) of the country.  The fact that I - a Deaniac who votes Democrat 99% of the time (the last Republican I remember casting vote for was Sam Katz for Philly mayor in 2003...and that was because John Street was a crook and everyone knew it) - am clearly among the most conservative people on this site should be a clue to that.

    I think that there are many people who come to this site understanding (and always remembering) that there are simply too many people who honestly and firmly hold moderate and conservative views in this country for a solidly progressive legislative agenda to become law on most issues.  Knowing that, they are not surprised when progressive legislation stalls or is watered down to a moderate version before it becomes law.  Since that's the outcome they expect, they don't bother with despair porn.  They focus on doing the things they can: Trying to reframe the discourse in progressive ways and pushing through progressive ideas when and where we can.

    A great example is gay marriage.  In less than a decade, states have turned from defeating proposals for civil unions to passing proposals for same-sex marriage.  "Marriage equality" is a standard part of the political lexicon, largely displacing "gay marriage" (which I rarely hear in MSM sources anymore).  The debate has been successfully reframed from a progressive point of view.  

    The problem is that some people who spend a long enough time on here find start to think that dKos denizens are representative of America at large and that the only people who disagree with them are either stupid, greedy, or blind.  The thought that good, rational, intelligent, and informed people might nonetheless disagree with their position on key issues stops crossing their minds.  They end up with a myopic view of where Americans fall on the political spectrum.

    Thus, it comes as a shock when the pace of change is slow.  Something that is progress compared to the status quo feels like defeat to them because they (and all the people they talk to around here) were pushing for more.  After that happens enough times, despair sets in.

    Preaching to the choir and then shooting them when they don't sing loud enough isn't a good strategy for increasing the size of the congregation.

    by Matisyahu on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 07:29:34 PM PDT

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