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      These are the same thing.  Russia sells oil to the world, and their currency is based on the price of oil.  (It is for this same reason that the Canadian dollar has been sliding.) Putin has been a competent leader for Russia in many ways, but the failure to diversify the economy from oil is [...]
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Monday: Break it to me gently

This morning, two extremely good looking dudes are upstairs cleaning my grout.

Wait, that didn’t sound right.

Anyway, the topic of this post is stuff we didn’t want to know about, stuff we tried to avoid seeing, but that is no longer avoidable, but we want to be let down easily.

Let’s start with this remarkable exchange that Paul Krugman had in London with some clueless austerians:

Conservatives seem to be in their own little universes where the laws of physics and supply and demand and the paradox of thrift do not apply to them.  They have beautiful theories destroyed by ugly facts.  It’s a world where new college graduates with $100K in student debt just can’t wait to start their own businesses and where unemployed chemists can start biotech companies by borrowing money from their “friends, families and fools”.

But nevermind that silly notion about how we all secretly want to become the equivalent of 18th century MBAs, Paul is trying to tell them that they were just dumped by the economy and it’s over, move on.  They want Paul to break it to them gently.  Let them down the easy way, presumably the way that doesn’t require any kind of concessions from them.  And Paul’s like, “He’s not coming back, Ok?  He doesn’t want you anymore.”  This exchange would almost be funny if it weren’t so deadly serious.  It’s very frustrating to have examined the data, run the models, found historical precedent and made accurate predictions only to have them ignored by people who are talking in non-sequitors about something completely different that works only in a different dimension.  I guess it’s going to have to take a global catastrophic failure before they get it. I don’t know what I find more disturbing about this: that there are so many disingenuous pundits out there lying to people or that these people may actually believe what they’re saying.  Is the average intelligence of the general populace really so low that people can’t reason this problem out?  That’s so frightening it makes me feel dizzy and sick.  Is there a 30 second youtube cartoon that can be put together to explain this to non-economists?

The second breakup story is from Peter Daou.  A year ago, he tried to warn the Obama administration that it needed to put more effort into courting its base but did it listen?  Daou found this article from April 2011 that suggested that the grassroots were not happy with Obama and wanted to see some effort from him before they started giving.  But the Democrats had Obama and they thought that everyone loved him because he’s so swave and de-boner so when the time came, they’d all come swooning back like they did in 2008.  Um, it turns out that isn’t happening.  In this new post from Buzzfeed Politics, we have this rather unsettling graphic that intimates that the honeymoon is over:

The dark blue dots are where Obama’s fundraising efforts have fallen off the most.  Funny how they follow state boundaries.  Isn’t it weird that this Democratic president has seen the least amount of fallout in predominantly conservative, bible thumping southern states? And JEEZ, look at the way Appalachia has been blowing him off.  But it’s not just Appalachia, California seems none too pleased, nor Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Ohio.  In fact, it looks like all of the big states that Obama lost in the 2008 primaries are most seriously displeased.  I guess they’re trying to say that they’re just not that into him.  But the Democrats keep thinking that Obama’s the best that voters are going to get.  Sure, he’s a player, sure he’ll dump you for a Republicanesque bipartisan committee.  What are you going to do?  Voters are appearing to say that they’re not going to give him anymore money, how’s that?  They’ve been trying to let the party down the easy way for more than a year now.  But if the party isn’t listening, they might find that enough voters have left without a forwarding address that there will be a very rude awakening in November.

And then there is Wisconsin.  Bill Clinton was there a few days ago campaigning for Tom Barrett, the Democratic challenger in the recall election against Scott Walker.  Bill Clinton tried to give voters a wake up call about what this recall election means to them and the rest of working class Americans (working class is anyone not living off their bonuses and investments):

If you believe in an economy of shared prosperity when times are good, and shared sacrifice when they’re not, then you don’t want to break the unions. You want them at the negotiating table. And you trust them to know that arithmetic rules. Show up for Tom Barrett on Tuesday! If you want Wisconsin once again to be seen by all of America as a place of diversity, of difference of opinion, of vigorous debate, where in the end people’s objectives are to come to an agreement that will take us all forward together, youhave to show up for Tom Barrett on Tuesday!…

I can just hear it now, on Wednesday. All those people that poured all this money into Wisconsin, if you don’t show up and vote, will say, `see, we got them now. We’re finally going to break every union in America. We’re gonna break every government in America. We’re gonna stop worrying about the middle class. We don’t give a riff whether poor people get to work their way into it. We got our way now. We got it all. Divide and conquer works.’

You tell them no. You tell them, Wisconsin has never been about that, never will be about that — by electing Tom Barrett governor!

You can watch the whole speech here:

Clinton is not the kind of guy who likes recall elections or any attempt of one group of radicals to unseat a sitting elected official.  So, the fact that he’s out there in Wisconsin is significant because it means that he doesn’t see the working people of Wisconsin as a bunch of radicals.  This is THE most important election this year.  It is more important than the one in November, as it stands right now.  What Bill is really doing is sending a message to his own party to wake up and do something now because once the Republican juggernaut rolls over the working people of Wisconsin, it’s going to keep on rolling over everyone else.

Let me break it to you gently, lefty blogospherians, there is a battle right now within in the Democratic party.  We are seeing it play out in Wisconsin where the Democrats are pretending that they can straddle the fence.  They think that they can be for working class people in theory and still take money from big donors in practice and no one will notice when the economy fails and working people suffer.  That’s not going to happen.

Please note who is out there stumping for us.  Pay attention to what he is saying.  You need to have a vision of where you want to take the country.  You know all that shit you’ve been swallowing about how Bill Clinton wrecked the welfare system?  Think about that for a moment.  If you are one of those people who didn’t want to see the welfare system change to help people go to work and achieve and have dignity and get their families out of generational poverty, if what you really wanted was to just throw money at a problem and hope it went away, then you are a person who is afraid of change and not really aware of what a welfare check means to a person.  Do you know what we call people who like things the way they were and refuse to evolve?

Conservatives.

I am not going to break it to you gently, dear lefty progressives and liberals.  The left has failed to develop a vision of the future that acknowledges how our world has changed.  It has failed to figure out a way of elevating the working class out of the 20th century into the future with dignity, fairness, equality and excitement for what comes next.  The Democratic party fractured itself in 2008 and now it is floundering. The signs are all around that there’s a big breakup coming.  It needs to get its shit together as quickly as possible or we are all going to pay the price this November when the tons of money pouring into conservative message creating manages to aerosolize the working class and makes it impossible for any of us to join together and push back.

D’OH! A Round up of left blogosphere posts

The liberal blogosphere is hitting its stride today.  No, I’m not talking about the “A-List” bloggers.  They shot their wads in 2008.  No one goes there anymore.

Here’s a round up of some posts worth reading and one that deserves a dope slap:

1.) Anglachel’s back!  And she’s got some great posts from sunny California where Governor Moonbeam is taking on Meg “the Whore” Whitman.  Some juicy nuggets from Unforced Errors include:

Given that Hillary wiped the floor with The Precious in California in the primary back then and given the high proportion of female Democratic office holders, party functionaries and voters in California, you’d think Gov. Moonbeam would have the sense God gave geese and be very certain not to allow a breath of anything in or around his campaign that would hint of sexism or misogyny. That he and his staffers do not “get it” is the political problem. There is also the strategic problem that they have shut down attention to Whitman’s Arianna Huffington-esque “nanny problem”that was keeping her on the defensive.

It also follows on the heels of Jerry making an ass of himself by attacking Bill Clinton after a series of clever ads by Whitman, with Moonbeam offering rude and crude comments about the Lewinsky mess. Big Dog had to come in and save Jerry’s ass as well as showing the fool how an expert handles these things. Bill just smiled and thanked Whitman for bringing him back to the attention of the California electorate – with special thanks for bringing such a young and good looking version of himself back – and exclaimed about how popular he was and how much people were talking about him now, which forced a comparison between the peace and prosperity of his administration and the Republican mess that followed. He made the target of his attack the Republican record, not Jerry Brown’s petulance over a decades old loss.

Further, the use of the term whore (sorry, I won’t call it “the w-word”) wasn’t an outburst in the midst of a heated debate, but calmly put forth as a deliberate strategic move. How anyone could think that publicly calling a female opponent a whore could be a winning or advantageous strategy boggles the imagination.

Wow!  Jerry Brown dissed the Big Dawg after all he’s done for him?!  I guess no good deed goes unpunished.  Stunning.  Go read it and the other posts she’s written lately.  They are a things of beauty.  (Er, but skip her posts on gadgets.  Them she doesn’t do so well.)

2.) Ian Welsh has a call to arms for the left in  Repudiating Liberalism or Obama.  You can’t serve two masters and as Peter Daou wrote yesterday, “If you stand up for your principles, you may lose the election but keep your principles; if you ditch your principles, you’ll lose both”.  Like us, Ian saw the writing on the wall early and tried to persuade the blogosphere to get tough with Obama.  Like us, he was martyred for it (though I think we’re still feeling the effects of the flaying while Ian is being rehabilitated.  Go figure…):

If Obama was seen as liberal, and his policies then failed, liberalism would be discredited.  It must be made clear, starting as soon as possible, that he was not a liberal and that liberals and progressives repudiated him.  A few people doing it in 2010, mostly half-heartedly, when he had already been seen to fail, simply looks like rats deserting a sinking ship, as it did when conservatives in 2007 started saying Bush wasn’t actually a conservative.

I lost that argument.  Frankly, opinion leaders aren’t willing to take those risks.  They saw that Obama was popular with the base, that everyone was still in “hope without reason” mode, and even when they agreed (and some did) that his policies were a failure, that he’d betray unions, that he was going to be a disaster on civil rights, they wouldn’t do it. “The audience isn’t there yet.”

The art of opinion leadership had become “see where the mob is going, get out in front and pretend you lead them there.”

So be it.

What is done is done.  What needs to be done is this.  The liberal wing of the Democratic party must be SEEN to take out Obama.  There must be a primary challenge.  If there is not, liberalism will be discredited for at least a decade, time America cannot afford, since liberal solutions work and conservative solutions,  whether pushed by right wing Dems or Republicans, don’t.

Are you a liberal first, or a Democrat?  You can’t be both

Basically, Obama is taking down liberalism. He crippled the left in 2008 with the help of “male graduate student syndrome” (courtesy Anglachel) and the “sports illustrated swimsuit models with PhDs in architecture”, self proclaimed “creative class”, perpetually clueless idiots who rejected Hillary Clinton because they wanted a woman but not THAT woman.  You get the point.  Those guys are still out there.  They still run the party and they are still clueless.  Ian, even if they got a clue and turned on Obama, it’s kind of too late for them.  They’ve lost any credibility they once had.  By the way, Will Bunch will be accusing you of racism any second now.

We need a new left and so far, we’re having trouble getting our act together.  Still, the post is a good one and every word is true.  The left needs to distance itself from the horse it rode in on.

And here’s the Dope Slap

3.) BTD is featuring Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias in a post titled Making Excuses: HAMP vs. HOLC. By the way, why aren’t there any women writing for money in prestigious journals?  I almost expect to hear “It is written!” in a Monty Pythonesque falsetto.  But I digress.

Kevin and Matt make the lame ass argument that poor widdle Obama couldn’t have done more than the destructive and useless HAMP program because regular Americans didn’t want to see their neighbors get a break.  BTD answers:

Interesting how the bank bailouts went through and bank friendly policies have been followed by the Obama Administration despite their unpopularity but homeowner friendly policies were just too tough politically no? FTR, I support and supported TARP, but not the no strings TARP that was executed by the Obama Administration (in my view the saved banks should have been required to own up to their losses, engage in mortgage modifications and generally loosen credit. Just as this was no time for fiscal restraint, it was no time to tighten credit.)

In the end, what was the best political move for the Obama Administration in the first hundred days? The answer seems obvious to me – enact and execute policies that would do the most to lift the economy. That simply didn’t happen. The best example is the egregiously bad HAMP policy. The problem with HAMP was similar to that the entire Obama Administration policy towards the banks has- a dependence on the banks themselves. HAMP did not and will not work because in order for it to work, the banks must take a hit voluntarily. They will never do that.

There was no political reason, none whatsoever, that instead of HAMP, the Obama Administration did not instead create a new HOLC. The Obama Administration, guided by the bumbling incompetent Tim Geithner, chose to coddle the banks instead.

Drum and Yglesias’ excuse making for this failure is utter nonsense.

Yes, BTD, the excuses are twaddle.  But what excuse do you have for rejecting Hillary, except that she wasn’t the Media Darling?  Take a look at this interview she did with Maria Baritoromo during the primary season.  (and take note of how Baritoromo is short, snippy and impatient with Clinton.  Hillary deserved more respect than this but this is a stunning reminder of what she and we put up with):

Hillary and Obama were not the same.  They didn’t have the same policy goals.  We could see it.  BTD needs a dope slap to see it too.  Oh, but he’ll make some cynical, jaded remark about how all politicians are the same and they’ll all let you down in the end.  Know what?  I would have gladly taken that risk with Clinton.  She was prescient.  Obama acted like he didn’t have a care in the world and he governs that way.

As Ian says, bring on Obama’s primary challenger.  Preferably someone who is willing to stick to principle, come hell or high water.

So, sports fans, what have you found in your trip around the web?

Thursday Morning News: Reading the entrails

Brittany is still not over The Clintons

Hey, all you Glee fans, did you catch this gem on Tuesday night?

Artie: I thought I was over someone, but I still think I have feelings for them.

Brittany: The Clintons?

Yeah, you and half of the country.

So, sports fans, are you ready to dive right in?

Let’s start with the latest cave from the Obama administration.  The NYTimes reports today that Obama will allow insurance companies to charge more for families with sick children. like parents of juvenile cancer patients or chronic asthmatics don’t have enough to worry about:

The Obama administration, aiming to encouragehealth insurance companies to offer child-only policies, said Wednesday that they could charge higher premiums for coverage of children with serious medical problems, if state law allowed it.

Earlier this year, major insurers, faced with an unprofitable business, stopped issuing new child-only policies. They said that the Obama administration’s interpretation of the new health care law would allow families to buy such coverage at the last minute, when children became ill and were headed to the hospital…

“Unfortunately,” Ms. Sebelius said, “some insurers have decided to stop writing new business in the child-only insurance market, reneging on a previous commitment made in a March letter to ‘make pre-existing condition exclusions a thing of the past.’ ”

The White House has been tussling with insurers for months, trying to get them to provide coverage for children with cancerautism, heart defects and other conditions.

In a letter Wednesday to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Ms. Sebelius said the decision of some insurers to stop issuing child-only policies was “extremely disappointing.”

Yes, I have found that sternly worded letters are always effective at achieving what is, apparently, voluntary compliance with the law.  “I’m terribly disappointed.  No beets for you.”  Hmmm, let’s see, the Democrats have slashed food stamps during a recession and now they’re allowing insurance companies to suck the last penny from between the cushions of parents’ worn out couches.  I’m beginning to think they don’t like kids.  Well, it’s not like they vote or anything…

Next up, Obama apologizes for being a Democrat, er, as defined by Republicans? Peter Daou found this revealing insight into Obama’s brain in a review of a NYTimes magazine article:

[President Obama] reflects on what he called the “tactical lessons” of his first two years: He let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend Democrat,” realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” [see reference to Hudson Tunnel project below] and perhaps should have “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” in the stimulus. He said he and his team took “a perverse pride” in focusing on policy while ignoring the need to sell it to the country and that he realizes now that “you can’t be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.”

I’ll wait a minute for you to recover the jaw you just dropped.  That last sentence is really funny.  It’s almost like he was projecting or something.  Read Daou’s post.  There’s more where that came from.  Maybe Obama doesn’t understand how the game is played.  Or he *does* understand how the game is played and you are really not going to like the next two years as he takes the country down and tries to pin it on the Republicans.

Speaking of Republicans, some of you may be wondering what it’s like living under the regime of Chris Christie in NJ.  I am happy to report that property taxes are still as high as ever and he has made no attempt to reform the state funding system.  But wait!  There’s more.  Christie has been going gangbusters trying to bring the densest state in the union, in more ways than one, to heel.  He’s been having a blast taking on the teacher’s unions and slashing and burning through school district expenditures.  Take online books, for example.  My district could afford them last year.  This year, Brook’s slender frame is being permanently warped from schlepping 80 lbs of books back and forth to school each day.  We have already had one catastrophic book bag failure and the sucker didn’t even make it through September.  Here’s a sampling of our Governor’s education “policy”:

Students have less, parents pay more as new school year begins in N.J.

Ex-education chief Schundler openly blames Gov. Christie for Race to the Top loss

N.J. school funding scores high marks, but does not account for Christie’s $820M budget cuts

Gov. Christie reveals plans to limit N.J. superintendents’ salaries, base pay on merit

The last item is clearly  Christie pandering to the spoiled Republican suburbanites who sit on their fat asses all day, leave at 3:00pm in the afternoon and don’t do 1/10th the amount of work that I witnessed superintendents doing when I was a school board member.  Running a school district is like running a company with hundreds of employees.  It’s a tough, demanding job but some Republicans I know cannot imagine why we pay our superintendents $150K/year.  Our own superintendent quit this year and we have an interim superintendent.  In all likelihood, the good citizens of —–villeburg thought that the guy should eke out a living on 100K/year or less. In New Jersey??  That will get you a decent but unspectacular condo and a second hand car here.  Would YOU want to run a large company but live like a worker in communist East Germany?  Seriously.  $100K isn’t even the average salary in my township.  But leave it to the short sighted burghers here to turn their anger on the schools instead of the property tax inequities.  Thank God we have all the school buses we can eat.  We wouldn’t want to charge for courtesy bussing.  New Jerseyans have their priorities all screwed up.  But the budget cuts have an unexpected benefit.  Whenever you ask why the school district doesn’t do X when we had X last year, the person behind the desk smiles sweetly and says, “The budget didn’t pass.  This is what people wanted.”  Ergo…

Then there’s the tunnel under the Hudson that Christie wants to cancel.  The tunnel project is a no-brainer so we can safely assume that Christie has no brain.  Commuting to and from NYC from Jersey is time consuming and expensive.  The tunnel would have made it a less arduous ordeal.  But Republicans are not into infrastructure.  That’s long term thinking.  They don’t do long term.  So, the commuting ordeal will continue until the state thoroughly hates Republicans with a passion.  It may be happening sooner than they expected.

And finally, here is the Podcast of the Day:  Yesterday, Terry Gross interviewed Sean Wilentz from Princeton, just down the road a spell.  Wilentz talks about how Glenn Beck is channeling the John Birch society.  I’m not sure he completely nails the current national problem though.  He thinks the roots of Democratic failure is in the 60’s.  I think it faced its steepest decline in 2008 when the Democrats jettisoned the working class for snobby Obama and his droogs.  Some of the working class, in anger and confusion, allied themselves with the Becks and Tea Partiers.  Well, if the Democrats have the “We don’t need no stinkin’ working class” attitude, they shouldn’t be surprised at the consequences.  We don’t like Beck either but we aren’t calling the working class bitter, guntotin’, holy rollers.  They’re simply acquiring power in a way that will cause distaste for the genteel Democrats.  Or as Wilentz puts it, in GlennBeckistan, it will be a “dog eat dog world, mitigated by religious charity”.  Doesn’t that sound delightful?

Don’t you miss the Clintons?

Ok, Conflucians, I’m off!  There’s a hot Swedish colleague giving a seminar this morning and I don’t want to miss it.

 

 

The gritty truth in Mark Halperin’s pulp fiction

Brook's art project, 8th grade

I haven’t read the book but I did read a lengthy 10 page excerpt on the collapse of the Edwards’ marriage and campaign.  I don’t know if Elizabeth was a saint or Edwards a monster as they were written but it became clear over the course of the past several years that Elizabeth was living her ambitions through her husband. After I saw him in Chicago at YK2, I was convinced that Edwards was a one trick pony and PT Barnum his favorite philosopher.  Whether Elizabeth really ripped open her blouse in an airport parking lot or said the things she said is a bit of a mystery.  People with potentially fatal illnesses and dunces for husbands are liable to do all kinds of strange things.  But we weren’t there and there’s a good chance that some of this stuff was taken out of context for dramatic effect, with Halperin being the uber drama queen.

But following up on what Peter Daou said about Hillary’s campaign, this much I can confirm: her campaign never took the low road with us.  We were never official bloggers for Hillary.  We were a pro-Hillary blog almost exclusively after Obama made the “likeable enough” remark, Michelle Obama chastised Hillary about her tone and said she might never vote for her and the Obama campaign surrogates accused both Clintons of racism.  At some point in the campaign, Peter Daou contacted us and told us that he was at our service.  We could call him with questions and he invited us to the press briefing conference calls that I sat in on.  By the way, if you thought Andrea Mitchell was loathsome before the campaign of 2008, try listening to her oh so bored and this is so tedious and dismissively cynical questioning during a conference call with Howard Wolfson.

Never once did Daou ask us to do anything improper.  We weren’t encouraged to engage in character assassination.  We weren’t part of some big plan to subvert other blogs from within.  Instead, we found that posts that were upbeat and optimistic were sometimes linked to Hillary’s blog.  She and Daou seemed committed to winning the war of the blogs with positivity.  I didn’t feel dirty about my posts.

Daou certainly did sleep with his Blackberry under his pillow.  I emailed him at about 2:30am one morning a couple of days after the RBC hearing.  I was so angry and frustrated.  He emailed me back almost immediately and asked if he could call me the next day.  He did.  At about 7:30am. You can’t get that kind of responsiveness and customer service anymore.  He didn’t let Hillary down with us.  I always appreciated his professionalism and access.  I only wish we could have helped her more in return.  I also wish we didn’t have to go our separate ways from Hillary after she suspended her campaign.  But it wasn’t about Hillary anymore after the RBC hearing stripped our votes of any meaning.  It was about the voters’ war with the party.

But I did notice a common theme to all of the excerpts I read of Halperin’s book.  It seems that everyone was out to take Hillary down.  Edwards, Schumer, Reid, Kennedy.  In fact, her enemies came from within her own party.  And even if what Edwards’ supposedly said about taking Hillary out wasn’t an actual quote from a reliable source, one doesn’t have to look very far to find evidence that the sentiment was true.  The whole history of the primaries was of Obama and Edwards tag teaming to make Hillary look bad from that first extremely nasty debate in Philly to Edwards’ eventual endorsement of Obama.  I don’t think Edwards even knew why he had to bring her down.  I have often found this to be the case in the real working world as well.  Men do this to women and they don’t even have a reason.  Over and over again, I have seen a women achieve some managerial power through hard work and then watched as the men who worked with her or under her snipe and criticize and undermine her authority to bring her down.  She only got to be where she was because of a quota or she’s sleeping with someone or she’s not really that smart.  On and on it goes.  I don’t think they do it consciously.  It’s like some bizarre reflex.

Here’s the truth in Halperin’s book that he probably didn’t even know he was writing: men do not mentor women.  There are some exceptions but that’s the cold brutal truth.  When men say that a woman is polarizing or that she won’t be effective, they are really saying they won’t follow her themselves and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If the powers that be do not stand behind their protege and back her up, she won’t be effective.  If her proposals are not treated seriously, they won’t be taken seriously.  If there is no accountability for the dismissive way that others treat her, all her work will be for nothing.  And that will come to haunt the powers that be because training women is expensive.  You might as well not hire them in the first place if you aren’t going to take advantage of their talents.  Why teach them to read?

Being a woman in the real working world is not a ceremonial position or it shouldn’t be.  The Democratic party did a really stupid thing in 2008.  It dumped one of its brightest stars.  Yes, Hillary’s campaign staff let her down and there will always be a certain class of women who fall for the biting criticism of men and decide to join in.  They deserve what they get and no amount of karma is bad enough for them.  But it is the men of the Democratic party who let us down in 2008.  And until they are gone, no woman should trust the Democratic party ever again.

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A Couple of Brave Souls Dare to Praise Hillary Clinton

Ben Smith, a pudgy little man filled with bile

For the past few days, the Villagers and their media buddies have been poring over the trashy new book by John Heileman and Mark Halperin, Game Change. The person who seems to be having the most fun with the book is Ben Smith at Politico, who seemingly has been in the throes of an extended orgasm as gloating again and again in print about the supposed demise of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Smith’s ravening, slavering hatred of the Clintons reached a climax today when he vomited out this repulsive bile-filled piece: Game over: The Clintons stand alone According to Smith, there is no one left who will stand up and defend either Clinton. They are universally and resoundingly hated and despised by everyone in politics and “journalism.” Here’s an example of Ben Smith’s putrid prose:

“Game Change” peels back a decade of careful renovations off Hillary Clinton’s carefully constructed public face, casting her in the terms that defined her at her lows in the mid-1990s: scheming, profane, sometimes paranoid, often tone-deaf.

The authors report that Clinton and her aides plotted behind allies’ backs to enter the 2004 presidential contest and that Clinton herself favored some of the nastiest tactics, such as suggesting that then-Sen. Barack Obama had been a drug dealer, in the 2008 campaign. And she continued to believe — without evidence, and long after her concession — that he had, in effect, stolen the Iowa caucuses by importing out-of-state voters.

Her husband, the former president, is depicted as canny, but flawed as ever: making key errors, as has been widely reported, in South Carolina, and raising his own aides’ suspicions that he was reprising the extramarital wanderings that exploded during his presidency.

“Everybody talked. Anybody that tells you they didn’t are lying to you,” lamented one former top Clinton aide, who mused that perhaps for the first time in a career of leaks and betrayals, the Clinton’s innermost circle of loyalists been breached.

The result leaves the Clintons exposed and isolated, their darkest suspicions — “us against the world” — validated.

Excuse me for a minute. I think I’m going to be sick.

OK, back. Today a couple of courageous people did come forward to praise Hillary Clinton–and lo and behold, they did it under their own names, rather than hiding behind anonymity, as most of Heilemann and Halperin’s sources did.

First up, Peter Daou, who was communications director of the Clinton campaign.

…this is not about psychoanalyzing Hillary Clinton or probing her personal attributes — others have made a living doing that. It’s not about making her out to be a saint. Nobody is. This is about describing how she ran her campaign and how she treated her opponents when the cameras and microphones were off.

Was I on every call and at every strategy session? No. Can I vouch for every single thing said and done at the campaign. Of course not. But having participated in countless senior strategy meetings, crisis management and rapid response drills and emergencies, “war rooms within war rooms” (a term used by Heilemann/Halperin), debate prep, calls, emails and private conversations with the candidate, and having slept with my BlackBerry under my pillow and been stationed at the center of her communications operation for the duration of the campaign, I can confidently state that Hillary Clinton did not push for ‘vicious’ or dirty tactics against any of her opponents, nor did she encourage or ‘cheer on’ that behavior from her staff. The ethos of the campaign, which she conveyed in word and deed, was that she would win because she was best prepared, worked the hardest and had the most compelling ideas.

She was centered, dignified and focused throughout, although her frustration and pain did show through at some moments. She knew the media environment was stacked against her, against any woman. She knew what she was up against and drove forward into the furious headwinds of sexism and rightwing-fueled Clinton-hatred.

Daou also speaks to the gloating media critics who want to muddy the Clintons while pretending that Obama is pure as the driven snow.

…I have little tolerance for critics who simplify the whole election as some sort of reflection of the supposedly terrible character of Bill and Hillary Clinton, conveniently ignoring the Obama campaign’s brutally effective hardball tactics and overlooking the infinite dimensions — and messiness — of a presidential image/message war.

Next to stand up for Hillary is MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough in a piece called “The True Character of Hillary Clinton.”

…what I saw throughout Hillary’s 2008 campaign was a candidate who kept fighting back even after being badly wounded in Iowa, negligently served by her staff, and treated miserably by a biased press corps….

I thought the 48 hours before the New Hampshire primary were the most humiliating any national figure of Hillary Clinton’s stature had to endure in recent political history. It was a political execution that was broadcast across the world in slow motion. And it was ugly.

But Hillary Clinton had other plans. The New York senator shocked every pundit and pollster from Manchester to Manhattan, outperforming the final NH polls by a dozen points or more.

For the next few months, the Clinton campaign took one body blow after another. The media coverage was deplorable. In fact, it was so biased in some quarters that more than a few living legends of broadcast news privately shared with me the embarrassment they felt toward their own profession.

Still, Clinton kept fighting on.

Scarborough goes on to enumerate the many times Hillary fought back during the 2008 primaries, and finishes with this high praise for Hillary’s character:

Character is rarely revealed in its sharpest contrast after a glorious victory. Instead, you find out what a person is made of after they sustain a soul crushing defeat. In her long, tortured march toward Denver, Hillary Clinton showed more character, more resilience, and more true grit than any presidential candidate I can recall.

And in that losing cause, Secretary Clinton served as a great example of character not only for my young daughter, but for us all. It is that type of strength that we need in our leaders now more than ever.

Thank you Peter and Joe for being unafraid to stand up to the slick, slimy Villagers and their ugly, envious, bile-ridden media courtiers. I salute you both!

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Campaign 2008: Pundits Versus Reality

Peter Daou sent this to me today and I am posting it here with his Permission

Campaign 2008: Pundits Versus Reality

Please feel free to post in full or to send your feedback. Thanks!
Campaign 2008: Pundits Versus Reality

THE PUNDITS
Hillary Clinton will lose New Hampshire and the race will be over

THE REALITY
Hillary Clinton wins New Hampshire, defying the predictions and the polls

Continue reading

Live by the sword, die by the sword

By now, many of you will have seen the text of Peter Daou’s email. The Confluence also received the email from Peter. There is no doubt in my mind that Peter is correct about the sources of the negativity launched at Hillary Clinton by Obama’s campaign. At the time that Obama became a serious contender late last fall, I wrote a series of posts at DailyKos remarking on the absurdity of the accusations hurled against her.

Pre-emptive Clinton Character Assassination

Quick! Get Barack the Smelling Salts

The Incomparable Mr. Obama

Obama is Not a WATB! Take it back!

In our society, a woman is forbidden by custom and social conditioning from firing back. So, Senator Obama’s campaign took advantage of this. The set up was quite neat: First, say how uncomfortable it is for a woman to go negative. It’s unseemly and unladylike. Heavens, we must all be living next to Jane Austen with all the tut-tutting about how truly awful it would be if Hillary went negative. Second, hit Hillary with some absolutely ridiculous charge, like, I dunno, playing the race card by bringing up Obama’s former drug abuse. Nevermind that she never said it, one of her surrogates floated the notion. Nevermind that Obama himself wrote about the subject. Clinton brought it up and that is not allowed.  Third, sit back and watch her twist herself into a pretzel trying to defend herself without looking abrasive.

In short, she has been not allowed to criticize, compare, chastise or get angry about anything with regard to Obama, while his campaign can float any dirty little thing they want against her. And it is all vaguely reminiscent of the Edwards attacks on Hillary in the late summer and THAT was strongly influenced by Newt Gingrich’s famous brochure on the manipulation of Language as a Key Mechanism of Control.

Now, I don’t know who started it or who picked up where the other left off but I find it very curious that John Edwards started this line of attack and when his star was fading, Obama took up the torch and made it burn even brighter. The Kossacks on DailyKos became one huge opposition research focus group where first Joe Trippi, then David Axelrod could test out various viral memes. Then they set up yahoo and google groups and coordinated diaries so they would make the rec list every day. It got to be so obvious that I called it the Rec List Hostage Crisis. The negative stuff on Hillary that flowed from the rec list was non-stop and still is. It has now reached a hyperbolic state of vitriol that is no longer believable. But when it first started, it was *very* believable, at least to the uncritical mind. And many jumped on the bandwagon and spread the memes from blog to blog. In fact, when I set up The Confluence, I made sure that it would not permeate this site if I could help it. The comments sections are set up to forward to the moderation queue any of the trigger words found most commonly in DailyKos Obamaphile threads. The comments are examined in context and any negative advertising is deleted.

Because that is what this is, folks, negative advertising. In essence, the Obama campaign is using the big name blogs as dissemination sites for negative advertisements. They don’t have to pay much to get this going. (What would a functioning FEC say?) They just have to drop some keywords into a few rec list diaries and repeat them ad nauseum until it takes. Then they play group dynamics to split the unwanted dross from the highjacked site. At that point, the meme just reproduces and spreads.

It’s very much like a virus behaves. It infiltrates the host, inserts its own DNA and the commandeers the cells reproduction facilities to make more copies of itself. And these copies break free of the cell and spread the infection. At this point, the infection on the left blogosphere is severe and chronic. There may not be time to turn this around but we are going to try. The first thing we did was not succumb to the infection. That’s why you are reading this blog right now. We are out here and we will not go away. But that is not enough. Now it is time to expose the GOP like tactics that the Obama campaign has borrowed. These tactics work because they divide the target and prevent power through a union. They pander to our base instincts, in this case, the feelings of superiority that comes from being at the top of the social hierarchy as an American male. They make one set of supporters sound like Sports Illustrated swimsuit models with PhDs and the others as tired and stupid old has-been hags.

If this is how Obama wants to win, then we will need to show who he is and why he is willing to tear our party apart to get what he wants. And if Hillary has to do some of this work herself, well, fighting adversity is what we are hiring her for. But Obama’s campaign of negativity is going to meet its Waterloo. Count on it. I have not yet *begun* to snark.

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