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Saturday: Misdirection

Melissa McEwan also wakes up and smells the coffee (HT ugsome):

But as I read Feingold’s words—not the right guy—a not fully formed thought that has been hanging around the edges of my consciousness suddenly came sharply into focus: Obama is not the right guy.

It’s not (just) that his policies are insufficiently progressive, or even insufficiently Democratic, and it’s not (just) the arrogance, the hippie-punching, the bipartisan blah blah, the 12-dimensional chess, and it’s not (just) his tepid, half-assed, pusillanimous governance and his catastrophic ally fail. All of these things are just symptoms of this basic truth: Obama’s not up to the job.

I don’t mean he’s not up the job of being president; I mean he’s not up to the job of being presidentright now. I’m sure he’d have made a fine president some other time, some decade of relative peace and prosperity, where the biggest demand on his capacity was “don’t fuck it up.”

But that is not the time in which we live.

We live in a time of crumbling empire and crumbling sidewalks, of failed wars and a failing economy, of social conservatives versus social justice, of a race between the middle class and the ozone layer to oblivion. We balance precariously on the brink of America and America 2.0, where hard decisions must be made about whether we are going to use our resources to keep giving gold-plated bootstraps to the already-privileged or start reinvesting in our fraying social safety net and brittle bridges.

We don’t need a steward; we need a leader. Not just any leader, either. We need the second coming of FDR. And Obama just isn’t the right guy.

I don’t pretend to know who the right guy, or gal, is—but I know with a clarity that rings like churchbells that it ain’t Obama.

This is correct.  It is not racist to say so.  It is simply an observation based on a careful evaluation of the data.  Melissa could have reached this same conclusion three years ago, and I and thousands of other R&D professionals might still have  jobs, but we’ll put that aside for now.

We have a bigger problem.  Progressives can still be bamboozled.  They still have buttons that are pushable.  For example, in the same post, Melissa excerpts a portion of Feingold’s Netroots Nation keynote speech that speaks to the issue of corporations where he says:

“I think it’s a mistake for us to take the argument that they like to make that, ‘Well, what we’re going to do now is, we’re going to take the corporate money like the Republicans do and then after we win, we’ll change it.’ When’s the last time anyone did that? Most people don’t change the rules after they win by them. It doesn’t usually happen. It never happens,” Feingold said. “You know what? I think we’ll lose anyway if we do this. We’ll lose our soul when it comes to the issue of corporate domination.

I happen to agree with Feingold that people who win by taking huge sums of corporate campaign contributions or by bending the rules or cheating do not change the rules after they are elected. That’s why I couldn’t vote for Obama after he didn’t protest the way voters from Florida and Michigan were treated in the 2008 primaries.  The process was extremely unfair to them, and by extension the rest of the Clinton voters. But he didn’t lift a finger to protect their votes because to do so meant that he _might_ lose the nomination.  It wasn’t in his best interest to do that.   It wasn’t that hard to eliminate Obama from my presidential material list based on his attitude towards voters back in February 2008.  This is the guy who wrote off Appalachia.  A whole swath of the country plagued by generational poverty and rapacious coal companies.  Just wrote them off.  Don’t need those votes or voters.  They can go jump in a slag heap.

Your vote is sacred.  Once it can be taken away from you, you have no power.  This was more important than any corporate cash in 2008 and progressives missed it because they were misdirected. It wasn’t the money, it was the cheating.  Repeat after me: “I will never vote for a politician who approves of nullifying the votes of 6 million people because if I can’t trust him to do the right thing *before* the election, I sure as hell can’t trust him to do it afterwards.”

Same with congressmen and senators and presidents and *superdelegates* who sell themselves to big corporate entities.  They aren’t going to make the rules fairer for the rest of us because that might mean they will lose.  Don’t expect them to do the right thing after the election if they are willing to sell themselves for big corporate donations before the election.

The only way to change this dynamic is to change the rule makers.  You need to vote out the people who are whoring themselves for corporations and *particularly* the finance industry.  Don’t say it can’t be done because you don’t have a choice.  You must find a way.

But there is a degree of misdirection that progressives are prone to following to their detriment.  What Feingold is doing is highlighting the evil heart of every corporation.  Corporations are the problem, he seems to say.  Bullshit.  That’s like blaming the candy for being sweet.  Corporations exist for a reason.  It’s very hard for some industries to operate in any other way than a corporation.  Let’s not act like children who don’t understand the concept of the corporation.  They can’t be eliminated without harming our economy.

But they can be reined in.  There’s no reason in the world why we should let them get away with murder.  In fact, we’d be doing them a favor if we weren’t so permissive.  Corporations are out of control right now eating everything in sight like a plague of locusts.  They’re self-destructive.  Pretty soon, they’re going to run out of things to eat and we will all suffer, MBAs and shareholders alike.

We used to have rules to make sure corporations didn’t have the upper hand in every interaction with their employees.  We need to bring them back.  We used to make sure they couldn’t offshore their profits to avoid taxes.  We need to reinstitute them. You probably can’t do anything about the Citizens United ruling until one of the more conservative justices dies but for all we know, Sotomayor and Kagan aren’t a whole lot better.  They just haven’t had a case to demonstrate how bad they are.  You have to wonder why Bader-Ginsburg doesn’t retire so she can be replaced while there is still a Democrat in the White House.  But she’s the last truly liberal justice on the court.  When she’s gone, Obama may very well appoint a stealth justice.  After all, who is really pulling his strings right now?

So, Feingold’s remarks are both right and irrelevant.  This is the environment you operate in.  Some American industries need a corporate model.  Corporations pay obscene gobs of cash to easy congressional representatives and Senators who will write rules that are favorable to them.  If you want to make the rules fairer, don’t get mad at the corporations.  That’s not leading with your head and right now, you need to be cool and detached from the emotional string pulling crap. The corporations are not the ones who can change the rules.  You need to go after the rule makers.  You need to primary some incumbents with strong primary opponents.  Use the money you would have donated to the Democratic party and feed it to people who wouldn’t be able to run in a party primary without kowtowing to the party line.  Don’t donate to Act Blue or the DCCC or DSCC or what ever D org is calling you this week.  You need to set up a separate funding mechanism that is outside of the Democratic party’s control or influence and recruit your own candidates.  You need to become the progressive equivalent of the Christian Coalition.

To become really successful, you will have to reunite with the part of the party you willingly jettisoned for Obama in 2008.  Make up with the working class voters of all educational backgrounds, the unions and women of all ages.  You might have to abandon the creative class arrogance and the knee jerk responses to anything that isn’t crunchy granola.  The good thing is that there are plenty of liberal values that you *can* agree on, especially when it comes to the economy.  Stick to them and you can win.  (I think Katiebird has four simple phrases that represent values that will work, where the heck are they…?)

The beast you have to starve is the party.  Yeah, they’ll still get their money from corporations but you can drop your money in a different pile.  And if other people do it and they tell two people and so on and so on, the pile of cash will get bigger and bigger and pretty soon, you can replace the rulemakers with people who vote for your interests and not some corporation’s.

The question is, do progressives have the balls to do it?  Because from what I can see, the problem is not a lack of cash, it’s a lack of courage.


Here is Katiebird’s 12 Word Platform:

1. Medicare For All.
2. End The Wars.
3. Tax The Rich.
4. Jobs for Everyone

That should do it.  Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

35 Responses

  1. It’s not just money – people have to withhold their votes.

    “Piss, moan, then vote for them anyway” is not a strategy to induce change.

    • I agree but when you’re 16 months out from an election, you have a lot more leverage than you think to get the outcome you want. Progressives are acting like they already have a gun to their heads. This is not true. They still have time to turn this around.
      All they need to do is not panic and to approach the party in a calm, cool, no, *cold* demeanor. They have to stop jumping when Democrats say “boo!”.

    • And they have to Announce that they’re withholding their votes — to friends, to people on the bus, on Facebook & Twitter — Announce that they WILL vote 3rd Party to make sure their dissatisfaction is noticed …. Staying home changes nothing.

      If enough (normally) Democratic voters make it clear that Obama (and the other sell-outs) isn’t going to get our votes then someone will step up for a primary challenge. It would be nice if it was Hillary.

      (waves at myiq!!!)

      • Where the heck are your four catchy phrases? Weren’t they like “Jobs for everyone”…?

        • It’s the 12 Word Platform:

          1. Medicare For All.
          2. End The Wars.
          3. Tax The Rich.
          4. Jobs for Everyone

          And it too needs to be repeated far and wide.

          • I like.

          • I’d like to have that on a t-shirt, unless you want to copyright it or something. In fact, maybe you could have some made up and sell them through TC for $15-20, with some of the money going to RD/TC…? (100% cotton, please. Polyester makes me smell bad 😉

          • Oh, gawd, I am sooo bad with money. Don’t give me any. Well, at least not yet. Besides, it’s not my work and I’m very conscientious about giving people credit for the work they do. But if Katiebird is willing to license her platform, t-shirts sound good to me. I hope it makes her rich.
            (see item number 3)

          • Ack!! It’s NOT my idea (see the link)

            danps at Corrente came up with it.

          • Then we can tax the hell out of dnps

  2. oddly enough I started to look at Hillary really closely after the so called (crying) speech the one the media beated her continuously for. What got my attention what she said; politics is not a game……you don’t know what is coming…..
    Looking back at this and the one in hampshire the one she was mocking obama in, if that wasn’t a prophacy I don’t know what is. I wish some one will compile all those speechs and make the netroots and the like just listen and learn what to do with their votes next time. How do we teach people that politics is not a game. Sure divorcing the American mind from a 2-party system is a place to start, but how do we get there.

    • i dunno. If progressives, liberals and working people have finally had enough and want to take control again, running Hillary in 2012 would be a no-brainer.
      No, waiting until 2016 is not an option and, no, there’s no one else who even comes close to being able to do it.

  3. Taking Katiebird’s advice, I’m formerly announcing I’m not voting for Obama. But I’m not staying home, I will be voting for the best candidate I can find. Most likely a liberal third party candidate. Unless of course there is a liberal Democratic candidate that replaces Obama in the primary. And I’m telling this to all my friends. So there.

    • And to clarify “liberal” (for me at least) means that they’ve endorsed the 12 word platform…. There’s no word-fog or ambiguity in it and I don’t know any other way to judge their sincerity and commitment to my issues.


      1. Medicare For All.
      2. End The Wars.
      3. Tax The Rich.
      4. Jobs for Everyone

      • That’s pretty darn succinct. Either someone is for those or they’re not on our side. No two ways about it.

  4. Ditto. Can I join your party?

  5. Feingold also said Dems were in danger of losing their indentity. Sorry, that’s long gone. When you’re willing to sell your basic principles because winning is more important, you stand for nothing. And if a party is offering a lite version of the opposition? Hell, you might as well vote for the real thing. I think Truman coined an expression around that thought.

    Absolutely agree with the sentiments on corporate influence. Corporations are not going away but if we don’t rein them in, they’ll blow themselves up and take everyone with them. Corporate behavior is completely off the rails and our so-called representatives are feeding at the poisoned well. It’s killing the country and damaging the entire world.

    Obama was the golden child in 2008. Keep an eye on Huntsman. He could be the new stealth candidate.

    As for myself? I will vote third party.

  6. You want to run Hillary?

    Jesus, dream on.

    Speaking of balls, you need the balls to think outside the Democratic Party altogether.

    Time for a new party.

    The Democrats are betraying their own best years and their days as a progressive vehicle are over.

    Their job now is to put on a show of resistance and gradually surrender everything to the plutocracy.

    The Republicans’ job now is to make the Democrats look good by being as bloody-minded and crazy as possible.

    So to hell with the Duopoly.

    Maybe we can call the new Party “The National Progressive Party”; maybe “The New Deal Party.”

    Or maybe even (with enough balls) “The American Socialist Party.”

    Here’s the core of a platform.

    Medicare for all with nothing out of pocket (and that would be a hell of a change); no cash services or private insurance allowed

    Tax the rich up to 100 %. Yup. Now there’s a salary cap you can believe in.

    Break up the banks and Wall Street

    Jobs for all

    US out of NATO; end all entangling alliances

    Close all US bases outside the Northern/Western hemisphere.

    Education free to all comers; close or socialize all private schools

    Social Security enough for a comfortable retirement

    Is Ralph really too old?

    (Kucinich really is too short.)

    • Yeah, I’m crazy. I think Hillary would have been a much better president and would still be a better president in 2012. You know how I know this? The finance industry didn’t back her. It backed Obama. Think about that. And one of her advisors was Harold Ickes Jr. Go look up who his father was. I’ll wait.
      You and I seem to be on board with the agenda. If only I could get you to back the candidate with the best chance of actually winning…

    • BTW, I am not averse to voting for a third party if it is to the left of the present batch of Democrats. In fact, I think such a party could clean up next year if it sticks to economic issues.

  7. Obama’s not up to the job.

    In 2008, that conclusion would have been important, not in 2011.


    • It’s still important. Maybe now more than ever.

    • Melissa is late to the party but since she has figured out the password (“We need another FDR, not Obama”), we should open the door and let her and those like her in.

      But I must say, there are still a few of those commenting on her thread who just do not get it.


  8. Oooo, really cute teenage cashier in the checkout lane. Hubbard-Hubbard.

    I can look.

    • Damn you, autocomplete. That was hubba-hubba.

      “that will be debit, steve. Or should call you Sven”

      Some humans are so beautiful. Untouchable, of course. I mean, that goes without saying.

  9. Let me pass on some of my favorite words of prescient wisdom from William Burroughs.

    “We have a new type of rule now. Not one man rule or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decisions. They are representatives of abstract forces who have reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past. There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident; inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine that they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which button to push.”
    William Burroughs, 1989

    We often mistake the human President for the institutional Presidency. There will be no more Stalins, no more HItlers, no more Roosevelts. Even an Eisenhower couldn’t make the Presidency do anything other than respond to the myriad forces that control it.

    We should stop looking for heros to do the dirty work for us.

    • I’m not looking for a hero. I’m looking for a competent replacement.
      But you’re right. We need a movement.

      • Even Obots need a movement, though they don’t know it. Because without a movement, the only movement will be from the right. And they’ll win. And then heaven help us.

      • And having someone competent at the top really does make an enormous difference. See “Clinton, William Jefferson”.

    • I am just trying to hire someone who can do the job.

      I am about to vote against the current incompetent incumbent.


  10. Obviously, Obama was never the right guy. The best that can be said for him is “better than Bush.”

    I’m honestly surprised when the guy tries to do something right. For example, he did make an honest attempt to cut ag subsidies. That’s a huge freaking deal — for the taxpayers, and for a whole lot of people in Mexico. Seriously: U.S. agribusiness was able to sell corn to Mexico for much less than the cost of production, which put a lot of farmers there out of business.

    So — Obama tried to do the right thing.

    But he couldn’t.

    So who could?

    You think Hillary could. I am unconvinced. In a way, I’m glad that Hillary did not win the nomination and the presidency. These bad times may be intractable. I’d hate to see someone I actually LIKE in the oval office as the country went to hell.

    It’s no longer a matter of personality. The people have been so inundated with libertarian ideology that they can’t think in any other way. Before change can occur, we need to win the battle of the weltanschauungs. Obama had a brief chance to do that in 2009 — and the opportunity passed.

    • She had better ideas for dealing with the crisis.
      HOLC put the bailout money in the better place – with the people living in the homes. It may have solved the problem of robo-signers too without screwing the people in the homes.

      Gas tax holiday – helps the people who have to commute long distances. The working class lives where they can afford the house and works where they can get the job. The rich live around the corner or in the super fancy neighborhood and don’t commute hours.

      Those are the ones that come to mind off hand… there were some other ideas that would have been more helpful than turning over a ton of money to banksters and then implementing austerity measures. I am sure those were two of the worst ways EVER to deal with this problem.

      I think he is worse than Bush since he is a bait and switch from so called progressive principle. Any progressive things he tries to do are too little in the wrong place.

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