I’m just taking it all in

All around the left blogosphere, there is a sudden realization.  It’s like, what the hell did we get ourselves into?  There’s panic about the Grand Bargain Obama almost struck last summer, about the imminent death of Medicare, about the austerity measures in Florida.  We in the research industry could have told you all about that.  The idea is to shed as many in-house positions as possible, offshore them or hire people back as contractors, and vastly reduce the employer’s responsibility for health care and other benefits.  By the way, contractors do not have any labor protections and no unemployment insurance.  They sometimes don’t get paid or not in time to pay their own bills.  Your only right is the right to walk away.  It’s cruel and it’s brutal and it’s happening to people who have degrees in STEM fields, do hard, mental work and have ZERO union protections.

This happened on Obama’s watch.

Not Bill Clinton’s watch.

I have to say that I’m a little disappointed with Bruce Dixon’s appraisal of the Obama vs Republicans situation.  For the most part, he is right.  Obama is so far right that it drives Republicans crazy and leaves Democrats no where else to go, theoretically.  There’s always a place to go.  You just might be too chicken to go there.

What pisses me off is the way he dumps all over Bill Clinton- again.  This tendency to blame Clinton parallels what we see on the right when it dumps all over the unemployed.  It’s all *their* fault.  The attention is always directed elsewhere, away from the true culprits.  Bill Clinton is like a frustration ball.

I hate to have to climb the water tower with a bucket of paint to defend Bill Clinton yet again but it seems necessary because the left seems to be completely unmoored.

When Bill Clinton said he wanted to “end welfare as we know it”, he didn’t say “end welfare period, now and forever”.  He meant transitioning people from a lifetime of poverty with no skills or hope to one where they would be able to get training and a job. Who here thinks it is preferable to collect a subsistence check than a real paycheck?  Raise your hands.  The Clinton plan was to provide health care, housing vouchers and child care while people made that transition.  The Republicans seized an opportunity to provide quite a different plan.  I supported Clinton’s plan wholeheartedly because I don’t like the idea of generational poverty.  It’s not liberal.  YOUR mileage may vary but then YOU might not be a liberal.

Bill Clinton nominated Lani Guinier, an out of the box thinker on voting rights, as Assistant Attorney General in 1993.  The Republicans had a holy shit fit.  How quickly we forget.

Bill Clinton was the one who wanted to allow gay soldiers to serve openly.  The Republicans had another fit about that.  We ended up with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Bill Clinton appointed Hillary to reform health care.  She couldn’t get it through due to forces in the Republican party and her own party (ever wonder why?) but she vigorously championed SCHIP for children.  Anyone remember what Rush Limbaugh did to that kid who was severely injured in a car accident with his sister?  Disgusting.  That’s what SCHIP brings out in Republicans.

Bill Clinton appointed the last two liberals to the Supreme Court.  I’m sorry but I don’t see Sotomayor or Kagan as being champions of liberal philosophy.  They only look liberal in comparison.

Yes, Bill Clinton made some mistakes.  He appointed Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Robert Rubin.  They turned out to be an axis of money induced evil.  I’m assuming he had a reason for this, like the Democrats before Clinton were notorious for being anti-business and maybe he wanted to change that image.  Maybe he thought he could manage it.  Balance competing interests. Rely on an intact regulatory system and Al Gore’s election.  But that evil triumvirate was an unknown quantity when he hired them.  In 2008, they had a paper trail, which is presumably why Hillary kept her distance. What was Obama’s excuse?

Over and over again, the president who left us with a surplus and nearly full employment throughout his two terms, who held off a punitive budget deal during a government shut down and who was pursued by some pretty batshit crazy Republican Javerts throughout his terms in office, is pointed to by the left as some kind of Republican mole.

I know the left is going through a crisis of conscience but don’t lose your heads and try to rewrite history.  When you need the Clinton Democrats to help you, they’re going to remember how you turned Bill Clinton into a scapegoat or let other more savvy operators turn you against his legacy.

And let’s not forget where Bill falls on the left-right spectrum of recent former presidents and where Obama is in comparison.  Here’s the graph from Krugman’s blog post on the subject:

Back in 1992, the “center” was much farther left than it is now.  People tend to forget this because we’ve been stuck firmly in the right since George Bush usurped the presidency.  If Clinton was a centrist, he was a pretty fricking liberal one, which is what drove the Republicans nuts in the first place.  They were foaming at the mouth before he took the oath of office the first time.  He hadn’t even done anything yet.  There was no triangulating and they already wanted to lynch him and make sure he didn’t succeed.  But he did anyway.

Obama is a totally different story.  He is the appointed president of the independents, moderate Republicans and financial class.  He didn’t win the nomination.  It was given to him.  THAT’S why he’s so insensitive to the Democratic base and the liberals.  It’s because he didn’t have to earn it with the voters.

Don’t blame Clinton for what the party has brought on itself.  Blaming Clinton is about as effective as blaming the unemployed for having no money.  It changes nothing.

What I want to know is where are women’s advocacy groups?  Why is Occupy the face of labor?  Why are the left bloggers keeping conspicuously mum over the massive loss of STEM jobs?  Why is it that the atheists are the ones who have to organize for knocking some sense into the country’s dialogue?  Whatever happened to reason?

All I see is gratuitous hits on Sarah Palin, jabs at Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and a whole lot of hand wringing.  The left blogosphere looks like it’s afraid of it’s own shadow, terrified that challenging the Democrats and Obama to actually *do* something will bring on Armageddon.  It’s too late for that.  It’s already here.  If you don’t challenge the Democrats, then you are part of the problem and maybe even complicit.  And if that’s the case, you are going to lose all credibility and any power you have left.

So, stop doing it.  Focus on putting pressure on the Democrats.  Ignore the Republicans.  They aren’t going to change.  You can only make progress by pressuring your own side to do something.  And that something does not include introducing a measure in the blogosphere to condemn Bill Clinton.  Get a grip.

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31 Responses

  1. I still think that LBJ is the most Liberal President since FDR. I know all about the Vietnam War and don’t regret any of my anti-war activities at that time. But, the fact is the guy pushed some GREAT domestic legislation through.

    He’s the only one we’ve had in my lifetime to be given a massive Congressional Democratic majority and actually use it to get good stuff done.

    Carter? nope.
    Obama? nope.

    And Clinton was in the exact opposite position. That he won at all was a huge victory. I

    • Yeah, I look at that graph and wonder how much more left Clinton would have been if the Republicans hadn’t gone nuclear on him, forcing him to negotiate.
      Honestly, I don’t get it. What does the left want? It’s beginning to sound like a Freudian question. Four years ago, they went totally gaga over Obama. His head was surrounded by naked little Cherubim, he was wiser than Lincoln and his tongue was sweeter than Orpheus. And everything they’re complaining about is due to Obama’s tendency to put everything on the table and go right. He does it every fricking time. So, why is it they are not holding him responsible for triangulating when it isn’t even necessary? Obama wasted two perfectly good years when he had a Democratic majority and a filibuster proof Senate. But listening to Dixon, you would think that Ayn Rand and Bill Clinton were best buddies. It boggles the mind.
      The left is having a nervous breakdown.

      • Yet you’re defending the Great Triangulator? Remember this exchange between Clinton and Paul Ryan at a Pete Peterson forum last year?

        “So anyway, I told them before you got here, I said I’m glad we won this race in New York,” Clinton told Ryan, when the two met backstage at a forum on the national debt held by the Pete Peterson Foundation. But he added, “I hope Democrats don’t use this as an excuse to do nothing.”
        Ryan told Clinton he fears that now nothing will get done in Washington.
        “My guess is it’s going to sink into paralysis is what’s going to happen. And you know the math. It’s just, I mean, we knew we were putting ourselves out there. You gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving,” Ryan said.
        Clinton told Ryan that if he ever wanted to talk about it, he should “give me a call.” Ryan said he would.

        http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/05/bill-clinton-to-paul-ryan-on-medicare-election-give-me-a-call/

        Yeah, a real liberal hero, that welfare-cutting, Pete-Peterson-shilling, corporate-regulation-cutting, Iraq-bombing, sell-out-the-left Bill Clinton.

        Not that you’re holding him responsible or anything. :-(

        • No, I’m not holding him responsible. Putting people on welfare to work is a good thing. You should be for it and want to provide people with all of the resources they need to make the transition. A lifetime on welfare is not desirable or necessary. Don’t be stupid.

          Clinton is a politician, which Obama definitely is not. Obama’s method of getting stuff passed is to put all of it on the table and give it all away. Clinton’s is to understand all of the parameters and get the Republicans to come over.

          BTW, triangulation is meaningless as a word. It’s just another term for practicing the art of politics. And Clinton did it well. Obama does not know how to do this. Between Clinton and Obama, I would take Clinton any day, no question about it. Instead of ripping apart Clinton with flimsy argumentation that is easily refuted by people who actually THINK, why don’t you spend your time getting Obama to actually do anything that doesn’t make him look like a puppet for Bank of America. Can you do that?
          No, you can’t.
          Punching Clinton doesn’t help you solve your problem. Now, go play on Military Highway or something.

    • I was “youngish” during the Carter period, but I remember Carter being able to secure some serious energy-conservation measures through the Congress. He helped get us on a path towards energy consumption and production moderation which would have left us better off today if it had not all been abolished during the Reagan period. (Of course one can say that an achievement which one’s successors can destroy totally amounts to no achievement at all. But that’s only Carter’s fault to the extent that it was Carter’s fault for losing the 2nd election. In my purely amateur opinion, to be sure . . . )

  2. I’ve been listening to Talk Left radio on Sirius and am appalled at Alex Bennett (an absolute misogynist of the worse degree); Stephanie Miller (a shill for herself and the role she plays in her own “comedy” show); Ed Schultz (the biggest blowhard on the face of the earth – rude to his callers and can only say the word “I”); Thom Hartmann (reasonable although he sometimes veers off onto Obama talking points); and Mark Thompson (I sometimes feel left out of his conversations). The critical thing about Bennett/Miller and Schultz is the truly insulting and slapstick comments they make about Republicans – it’s actually shocking – in light of their own stupidity. I mean, if Democrats want to win over independents who side with Republicans on any issues, these so-called progressive voices are not going to help.

    To hear these idiots describe Obama’s “successes” makes me wonder what country they’re living in.

    My favorite image of LBJ is that picture of him towering over some congresscreep pointing his finger in the guys face. That POTUS knew how to use his bully pulpit.

    • Me too, Marsha — I love that photo. I wonder if there was a photographer onboard air force one when Obama took Kucinich for that ride. If so there’s something similar out there.

      You can tell which issues are REALLY important to a president. If the numbers are on their side, They won’t lose those.

      They don’t lose those.

    • I don’t get this strategy at all. If you are a listener or Talk Left radio, then presumably, you are a Democrat and therefore, not tempted to vote for a Republican. And if the Republicans are so obviously bad (they are) you don’t even need to hear how bad they are. It’s just a given that you’re not going to vote for them.
      So, who is the intended audience? I ask because Digby also tends to do this, acting like the Democratic voters are all going to defect to the Republicans. Are they afraid that’s what’s going to happen or is the idea that Republicans will be made to look so awful that Democrats *might* get off their butts and vote for Democrats in November?
      If that’s the strategy, the Democrats are in bad shape. Really bad. They offer nothing of value but Republicans are horrible people. Not only that but it serves their purpose for Republicans to continue to go off the rails because it means the Democrats can do even less, or so they think.
      Gosh, this prize from the Germans is quite generous. Three weeks with a german family, one week in Berlin in a hotel with all of the cultural stuff that goes with it. Brooke is going to need some nice clothes.
      (bwahahahahahahhhhh! Finally, a reason to get a part time job on the weekends.)

      • Weirdly, it’s an approach some conservatives have been following for decades. I grew up in a conservative military family, surrounded by like-minded folks, and what seemed to energize them the most wasn’t their own ideas how to make things better but The Latest Liberal Outrage. Even as a teenager, I thought this was kind of a sterile approach because it depended on what someone else was doing, not on your own initiative. As Bob Somerby keeps reminding us, aping know-nothing conservatives in their mindless tribalism isn’t an approach that’s going to spread enlightenment and help others see the truth. Sure, call them on their bullshit, but doing that without having things you’re for is self-defeating, and not calling your own leaders on their failures to achieve those goals is even sillier. It really is pitiful watching places like Kos and Balloon Juice and even FDL descend into an orgy of electioneering and wagon-circling against the Enemy. They might better occupy themselves asking whether the guy in the WH who offered to gut SS and Medicare is actually their friend.

      • So your daughter got accepted into that study/live-in-Germany program? Good. Nothing is ever a sure thing unless/until it happens.

  3. On the Clinton note, I did not agree with the draconian end of welfare with nothing to replace it BUT I thought he had the right idea.

    He was working like a beaver on the other half of the equation, appointing federal court judges who would actually enforce the EEO laws, thus giving women a real chance to support themselves through their own work. The Republicans, with the silence of the Democrats and the active help of the media (including NPR), succeeded in blocking most judicial appointments until the end of his presidency.

    The judges appointed to the circuit courts under Bush broke the laws and their own rules and precedence rather than let their wives and all other women in that pool of free household labor have a chance at some other way to make a living. The left was and is fine with this; they only scream when the lawbreaking spreads, as it inevitably will, to something that affects men.

    • Here’s my problem: Where did you get the idea that Clinton proposed or got passed a draconian end to welfare with nothing to replace it?

      I was an adult during the Clinton terms and that’s definitely NOT what happened. It would probably be a good idea for you to go back and review history on the subject.

    • RD is right. The GOP controlled the House, and kept sending Clinton bills that would be ends to welfare. Clinton kept vetoing them. Iirc, the GOP kept accumulating votes toward a veto-proof passage. Bill compromised with them by adding provisions to “put people first,” ie adding benefits that would empower the welfare recipients, such as education and childcare, to enable them to get jobs.

      Bill did the best he could against a GOP Congress, and was smart enough to find some solutions so good that both sides could accept them. (That is what “Third Way” and “Triangulation” originally meant.)

      • Unfortunately, this particular urban legend appears to be widespread among the younger generation. They don’t seem to see the irony in Bill and Hillary constantly having to save Obama’s bacon.

  4. Something that I simply do not understand is this: Why are employers not looking at universal health care as a way to save money?

    • You are assuming that they can’t save money some other way, like shipping jobs overseas, hiring people as contractors or simply sitting on piles of cash (the fruit of our labor) until we are all desperate enough to work for peanuts.
      The time to argue for universal health care is past. Right now, we should be demanding accountability. Businesses will not do something out of the goodness of their hearts if it means sacrificing their own profits. The rules are in disarray. The first step in getting universal health care is re-establishing the rules of fair play. Otherwise, employers will do what’s in their best interests and it is not in their best interests to worry about what is going to happen to you if you get sick.

    • In the Seattle area, most of the local companies board of directors had members in common. That appears to have changed and now private equity firms own enough shares to have a representative on sit the board of directors. (share holder value?)

      It has been years since I looked at members of the board of directors of local companies – but it is interesting.

      I have wondered about healthcare too. I assumed it was because of the influence of the same people sitting on multiple boards of directors and owning large shares of different companies. They are all interconnected but I would guess the purges of employees and the shareholder value stuff might be the equity firms representation on the boards.

  5. OT: Here’s something that someone might want to check out:

    a link from calligrafiti: IMPORTANT: Congress and Bill HR-347 — “Hey guys, all you who supported the Occupy Movements: Congress is trying to make it illegal — Pleas pelase pelase look up bill HR-347. I just heard about it at work, so I don’t anything fancy to post about it, but essential, congress is going to limit the public’s right to assemble in protest and make violating this new law a felony. The media has only really mentioned this in passing as a ‘non-controversial law’ when in fact it is very controversial because Congress is making a law limits the public’s right to assemble peacfully.”

    • Yup, pretty much. At least it will cut down on the mic checks at candidate rallies since you can be thrown in jail for a long, long time if you merely interrupt the festivities where a secret service detail is. You don’t even have to know there’s secret service around. I’m guessing that rules out protesting a motorcade as well by standing on the side of the road with signs.
      Pretty clever, huh?
      Did you hear that Bloomberg is forbidding donations of food to the homeless because they aren’t monitored for fat, salt and fiber? True story.

      • The “homeless sympathiser community” could get around that by buying food-for-the-homeless from monitored-food restaurants. They could afford it for long enough to see how Bloombastard counters that gambit.

    • I’m guessing that it’s not constitutional.

  6. In my purely amateur opinion, there are several “lefts” in this country.
    For ease of handy thinking, I think of them as three lefts: a soft-left, a firm-left, and a hard-left. The “soft-left” is those Democratic Party loyalists who accept Senator Paul Wellstone’s description of themselves as “the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party”. Paul Wellstone was as left as you could go and still be “soft left”. I flap around in the “soft left” many times. ( The “firm” and “hard” lefts like to describe and deride the “soft” left as “squishy liberals”).
    The “firm left” are various sorts of Social Democrats and Democratic Socialists and so forth. I think of Bernie Sanders as being at the right-edge of the “firm left”. I will of course read with interest any argument about why Sanders should not be thought of that way.

    The “hard left” are the various sorts of Communists, command-socialists, anarchists, Communarchists, Anarcommunists, and so forth. I suspect the Black Agenda Reporters would place themselves somewhere within the “hard left”.

    I will give myself and the soft left credit for being right about one thing. In the 1990 primaries, I knew that nominee-wannabe Harkin opposed Free Trade Agreements and especially NAFTA. I knew that Clinton supported FTAs and especially NAFTA. I knew that if Clinton became the nominee and then President, we would get FTAs. And I give myself credit for being entirely right. I am not here in this comment going to say whether FTAs are a good thing or a bad thing.
    If I ever get the computer-time and personal diligence to go get the numbers, I will come back and pick that sleeping scab awake. But not for now.

    “Genetically modified crops” were offhandly referrenced in a now-closed comment. I would say that “genetically modified crops are bad” is the flip side of “genetically modified crops are good”. For me it depends on the crop, the modification, the expression of that modification, its side-stream and down-stream effects, the social and commercial and economic-class-warfare context. I would welcome genetically engineering chestnut blight immunity from the chinese chestnut into the American chestnut. If corn could be genetically modified to accept rhizobial infection/colonization/nodulation of the roots, I would be open to the benefits of such corn if it were thoroughly tested under Level Four BioContainment for provable lack of harmful side effects before being set free to cast its airborne pollen upon the four winds. (Or if the engineered-rhizobiability could be firmly and rigidly sex-linked to both express itself AND pass-itself-on only through the Female Chromosome.)

    • I would put myself in Bernie Sanders category. However, I understand why NAFTA was passed. According to Clinton, George Bush Senior had already worked out the details and it was all done when he came into office.
      I don’t think NAFTA has been the economic catastrophe the left makes it out to be, or at least I haven’t seen any evidence of it. Our appliances, hardware and now pharmaceuticals aren’t being made in Mexico. Heck, they’re not even made in Canada. So, really, the left is making big deals out of two issues that don’t affect them. I supported putting people to work because I think it’s good for their physical and emotional well being. It gives people a sense of independence, accomplishment and keeps them focused on the future. The Republicans are the ones who wanted to strip out all of the social safety measures from the welfare reform bills but for some weird reason, lefties always forget that part. How conveeeeenient.
      Agree with you on GM crops. However, knowing what I know from Ag. research people, they don’t get a pass from the FDA on anything. I just want people to stop freaking out about an accelerated version of what man has been doing for thousands of years.

      • At some future point the question of “genetically modified crops” will come up at a time when I have the time and the energy to offer some longer thoughts . . . for what they may be worth.

        For now, I will merely paraphrase Leon Trotsky’s famous quote:
        “You may not be interested in genetically modified corn, but genetically modified corn is very interested in you.”

  7. Oh, and . . . since the Supreme Court is going to decide the constitutionality of parts of Baucus-ObamaCare; I hereby predict:
    the Supreme Court will rule that the Forced Mandate is perfectly and completely Constitutional. Roberts and Alito will vote to support the Forced Mandate. Scalia and Thomas will vote to oppose the Forced Mandate. The others will grind around to come up with three votes to add to Roberts’s and Alito’s vote in favor of the Forced Mandate.

    That is my prediction.

    • This is the court that gave us Citizens United when it didn’t have to. I think it’s going to be very close and that Kennedy will be the deciding vote. There’s no doubt in my mind that Alito, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas want to gut every possible thing that could benefit working people. That’s why they were appointed. Anybody who thought it was all about abortion was delusional.

      • But Scalia and Thomas like to preen as bold cutting-edge Conservatives breaking new juris-intellectual ground. Whereas
        Alito and Roberts are merely Federalist Society embeds who support upper class power and money. So Alito and Roberts will vote to uphold the Forced Mandate because it is designed to entrench and strengthen the monopoly power of Big Insura to extract money from society. Whereas Scalia and especially Thomas will prance around and jabber about “strict originalism” or “conservatoidal constructivalism” or some such thing. That is why I would expect Roberts and Alito in particular (or at the very least Roberts) to fight their hardest to get the Forced Mandate upheld.

        But I am just a total amateur thinker. If I get it right, my credibility will go up maybe. And if I get it wrong, my credibility will go down.

        • There’s an entertaining post at Firedoglake about ditching the lifetime appointment of judges ASAP … because soon they’ll have 200 year lifespans and we’ll be stuck with them forever.

          • Perhaps some kind of lonnngggg one-term-limit? So that they know they can not get re-appointed or not depending on their decisions, but so that there is also a time-lag between partisan power-shifts and judicial interpretation and application?

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