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Telling like it is

Making it short this morning as I’m headed out the door.

Matt Stoller is experiencing the “pain of independence” this week.  He had a “Soylent green is people! We’re eating PEOPLE!” epiphany about Obama and the Democrats the other day at Naked Capitalism after the Wisconsin catastrophe.  Matt has finally come to realize that what is good for Obama and the Democratic party is diverging from what is good for the working class (and by working class I mean everyone not living off their investments or bonuses).  Go read the whole thing.  I think he’s thought this out pretty well with the exception of the label “neoliberal”.  Sometimes, the labels get in the way of understanding so I try not to use them. I try to figure out if a politician has a worldview and goal that makes sense and has intrinsic value.  At one point in the 2008 primary season, I even had a matrix of qualities I wanted to see in a president and ranked each candidate on a weekly basis based on what data I was able to collect.  Yeah, it’s kind of Vulcan but then again, it helped me not fall into a four year swoon over Obama.

Predictably, booman writes a “Matt has cooties” post:

Yes, everyone of the left is doing it wrong because they haven’t, like Matt Stoller, taken leave of their senses and attacked the most brilliant and decent and politically talented president we’ve had in decades.

He concludes with some nonsense about interfering with the flow of commerce, which sounds a little Unibomberish. Maybe Stoller would be happier as a Somali pirate.

Oh, but we know how the president deals with those folks.

Townhouse must be a ghost town these days. What a freak show.

Yep, the economy is in shambles, the Democratic party is unrecognizable and Obama has a bill of attainder “kill list” that he can add American citizens to and *Matt* is the crazy one.

This is how it works, Matt.  Groups that use high control tactics can’t have dissent in their midst.  It disrupts the unity of thought.  You become hard to be around because your presence pushes the thoughts of those around you from a low energy state to a higher one.  Therefore, you must now be excluded unless you snap back into line.  In fact, the phenomenon of reforming your thought to that of a high control group is called “snapping“.

I and a lot of other Democrats have been there, Matt.  Some of us have pretty good day jobs at prestigious universities.  I’m thinking of Heidi Li Feldman.  Others, like Anglachel, have a background in political science.  Then there are people like Lambert who had insight in 2008 and had to fight off assimilation from readers of his own blog.  You’re not alone.  There are probably a lot more of us than even we know but people who agree with us may be afraid to come out for fear of the inevitable ostracism from the group. But our number is growing everyday.  And you’re not crazy.

And Barack Obama is not “the most brilliant and decent and politically talented president we’ve had in decades”.  Once you’ve broken out of the mindset, don’t quotes like Booman’s kind of resemble that line from the Manchurian Candidate:

 “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

Maybe Obama is, maybe he isn’t.  Wouldn’t you prefer to figure that out for yourself? It’s not the end of the world.  Knowing the truth is the optimistic point of view.  It’s a relief.  The narrative starts to make sense again.  You don’t have to keep filling the chinks of inconsistencies with elaborate excuses and improbable stories.  Now that you know, you can do something about it.

Lucky for you that you’re coming around when you will have more company in your exile.  For those of us who figured it out in 2008, it has been, ahem, interesting.  But you’ll do Ok, Matt.  With your Harvard degree, no one’s going to call you a racist or a menopausal, uneducated old lady.

*********************

Here’s another guy who snapped out of different kind of thought.  Jerry DeWitt is the former pentacostal pastor who became an atheist. Ooo, I saw a few of you cringe just now.  Relax, Jerry’s not going to make you into a homocidal, immoral, untrustworthy nihilist.  And you don’t have to go all of the way to “there is no god”.  Jerry’s current gig is to help ease people out of religion at their own speed as executive director of Recovering from Religion.  This video is from the recent Arkansas Freethought meeting. I think the section where he talks about the marketing of religion is very interesting.  I had no idea that some religious denominations, like the 24/7, one-stop, espresso bar megachurch variety operates more like a franchise where the colors of the church and the music and the program has been carefully selected by a team of marketing experts with the goal of keeping you in the flock.  It’s funny how marketing is showing up all over the place these days.  Politics is saturated in it but who would have expected to find it at church?  Fascinating.

It’s kind of long but Jerry’s got a gift and he eases you right into it.

In defense of Jane Hamsher, Democratic party loyalist

Who could have predicted?

Jane Hamsher has taken a lot of heat lately from the likes of Booman, whoever the hell he is (we never read him).  Apparently, he wrote a post directed at the disillusioned party faithful who are now disappointed in President Barack Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress.  We know he must be talking about Jane and other bloggers like BTD because he sure as heck isn’t talking about us.  We were hep to that step and we didn’t dig it a long, long time ago.  We’ve been calling ourselves Democrats in Exile since about May 31, 2008.  Do we regret the fact that we no longer have a party to call home?  Heck no.  We know all about free milk and a cow.

But this is a painful lesson for people like Jane Hamsher, who has now been told by Booman that if she doesn’t stop voicing her discontent at the bill of goods that Obama failed to deliver, she isn’t a real Democrat.  I beg to differ.  Jane has indeed defended her party credentials quite admirably in a post today.  I advise everyone to go and read it in its entirety as well as the comments.  It seems some of the commenters are still confused about who supported Hillary, PUMA, both, either and why.  I’ll try to clarify that at the end.

It’s not my intention to dump on Jane Hamsher.  She really does mean well.  I will always admire her for what she did in CT for Ned Lamont.  It must feel like a real sucker punch to be sold out by her own party on the issue of reproductive rights too.  I remember that Jane feels very strongly about that issue.  FDL was also doggedly persistent on Plamegate and I sat riveted to my monitor throughout the duration of Scooter Libby’s trial.  Jane was barely out of major surgery when that happened.  But it was the quality of the journalism, not just Jane’s incredible resilience, that merited an award for FDL.

But something went terribly wrong in 2008.  Jane, the party loyalist, took the path most traveled and lost her way.  She documents some of the atrocities in her post today.  Most of it consists of pitiful excuses for why Jane stayed neutral during the worst of the primary abuses.  I’m sure she would like for the primary of 2008 to die an ignominious but quiet death somewhere so we can all let bygones be bygones and get on with it.  It’s not going away, Jane.

Some of Jane’s commenters and perhaps Jane herself think the problem with us “bitter” holdouts is the fact that Hillary lost.  When they notice us, if they notice us at all, they think it is all about Hillary.  But a couple of days before Hillary dropped out, I had a conversation with Peter Daou on the phone.  I was enraged by what the DNC had done and not just because of Hillary.  Of course I was angry with how they had betrayed her but I was more angry at how they had betrayed US, the voters.  I told him that it wasn’t about Hillary anymore.  It was about the Democratic party primary voters.

Let me address some of Jane’s excuses for doing nothing during the primary war of 2008.  Jane says that during primaries, it’s all about personalities.  Maybe.  But I have certainly never seen anything quite like the massacre I witnessed on DailyKos or the emnity between the campaigns that was generated by Obama’s people.  It was like the primary was taken over by the smartest guys in the room from Enron.  That was my first clue that something wasn’t cool about Obama.  His followers seemed too “ends justified the means”.  The campaign was very weak about reining them in, which eventually lead to the “Sarah Palin is a cunt” T-shirts. But the aggression didn’t stay on the blogs.  Nope.  It made its way to TV and print.  It was evident at every televised debate.  It got ugly when the accusations of racism were thrown at the Clintons.  I thought it couldn’t get lower than that.  That’s when Obama lost me for good, Jane.

But your site stayed neutral.

Then there is the issue of their voting records.  Yes, they were very similar.  So, I can’t understand why Hillary got branded as a “corporatist” and Obama didn’t.  On what basis was that label applied, Jane?  But it was even more illogical than that.  If there voting records were virtually identical, why in God’s name would you choose to go with a guy who had virtually no face time in the Senate and ZERO experience in the Executive branch? Then there was the whole Lieberman Resolution on Iran which Hillary was forced to vote for, because no one with an ounce of common sense would vote against what amounted to an opinion poll on whether Iran should be punished if they used terrorism.  But Obama was conveeeeniently absent that day.  Huh.   But wait, there’s more.  Remember the MoveOn Petraeus Ad motion that Obama voted present on?  How about all of the Illinois Senate votes on reproductive rights and abortion that Obama voted present on?  Or how about the fact that he rode to the WH on a speech he gave on the Iraq War Resolution but never had to vote on?  It was a missing data point.

But Jane’s site stayed neutral.

Then there were the caucuses that were overrun by bussed in Obama people and the caucuses in Texas where the fraud was documented and reported on at length by the likes of Pacific John, who witnessed it.  There was the RBC hearing of August 2007 where Florida and Michigan were punished.  Two whole states’ voters disenfranchised for no fault of their own simply because the politicians involved had a dispute over timing.

But Jane’s site stayed neutral.

Then there was the RBC hearing of May 31, 2008.  We keep coming back to this but Jane doesn’t get it yet.  The issue was not simply Florida and Michigan, Jane.  The issue was CA, NJ, NY, OH, PA, MA and all of the other big and little primary states where voters did not vote for Barack Obama, sometimes by more than 10 points.  We covered that hearing, Jane.  We had boots on the ground too.  We saw Amy Siskind giving an impassioned speech about what it meant to her to be disenfranchised simply because she voted for Hillary Clinton and didn’t like being called a sweetie.  And then we watched when Donna Brazile had the nerve to call Hillary Clinton a cheater simply because she wanted to keep four of her delegates and leave the rest of the uncommitted delegates at that status.  Clinton’s position, as communicated by her representatives, was extraordinarily fair.  Instead, that same committee gave Michigan’s votes to a man who wasn’t even on the ballot and by doing so, wiped out every other Clinton voter in every other state.  They knew this is what they were doing.  They threw the game to Obama, in front of all of us.

But Jane’s site stayed neutral.

Then we went PUMA, which simply meant that we were going to withhold our votes from the Democratic party because we could not reward this outrageous, undemocratic and fraudulent behavior.  Since the convention hadn’t taken place and Hillary hadn’t officially withdrawn her name from the race, we felt there was time for the party and the party faithful to come to its senses.  We hoped that the party loyalists would put principles before party.  We thought they would be alarmed by the amount of money pouring into Obama’s campaign.  Where was it all coming from?  What did the money people see in a less than one term senator who had almost no legislative experience?  Then there was the FISA vote.  We were glad to see Jane as a signatory on a sternly worded letter in The Nation.  But when we got to Denver to protest the shameful way the party was treating Hillary Clinton and her voters, where was Jane?  I swear, Jane, if you had woken up and smelled the coffee and joined us, I would have followed you to the ends of the earth.  What did a full time working person with a new blog and a ferocious out-of-the-blue insurgency know about organizing and making a scene?  I could have used a Jane Hamsher.  If Jane Hamsher had stood up and demanded a real roll call vote for Hillary Clinton, if Jane Hamsher and her followers had insisted upon fairness and against delegate intimidation, Jane would have little to complain about today.  Jane could have said, “Well, at least I tried.  At least I did *something* to keep the party together.  At least I stood up for principle instead of letting a tidal wave of accusations and incrimination destroy the good intentions of the people who voted for Clinton.  At least I could say I stood up for the working class instead of the bonus class who controls us now.”

But Jane can’t say any of those things because Jane’s site flipped from neutral to pro-Obama as soon as the Convention was over.

This in spite of FISA and primary voting improprieties and Obama meeting with evangelicals and promising them God knows what.  In spite of the overt misogynism of the media that Obama never decried or the fact that the candidate barely called himself a Democrat or that he lobbied for the first TARP bailout bill- before the election- Jane was happy to climb aboard the Obama bandwagon and buy into the scare tactics on abortion to whip the rest of us into line.  We were all supposed to come together in unity and support Jane’s Democratic presidential candidate.

And now Jane doesn’t like her guy or the Congress he rode in to town with. Who could have predicted that he’d turn out to be a corporate loving, weak president with an equally craven Congress behind him?   The nation was in such dire straits last year that only a skilled and experienced politician with a quiver full of well developed policies ready for action could have *maybe* put the country and its financial sector straight.  We got Obama and his billion dollar campaign backers instead.  And BTD is still citing the DLC as the reason why he couldn’t get behind Clinton.  Oh, please.  When Bill Clinton was president, the center was where the left is now.  To centrists back then, the Left was a bunch of tree hugging, Birkenstock wearing, Alfie Kohn loving, Noam Chomsky pacifying vegans.  We’re not the new Centrists, the Lieberman types.  We former Clintonistas, Democrats in Exile, last year’s PUMAs are FDR style liberals.  You would think that Jane and us would have a lot in common.  But Jane has some weird mental image in her mind about who we are and who we support.  We are not Palin people.  We’re not birthers.  We’re not tea partiers.  And we sure as hell aren’t racists.

We are Democrats who were set free from the party or set ourselves free to go our own separate ways.  We put principle before party.  That’s all.  We saw what the Obama campaign and the DNC was willing to do in order to get him elected and suspected that big, corporate money had a lot to do with it.  It was the neo-feudalists flexxing their muscle and we wanted no part of it.  So, yeah, we are not Democrats anymore.  For us, the primaries told us everything we needed to know about Obama.

But one thing you can’t say about Jane is that she is not a Democrat or loyal to the party.  She is the most loyal of them all and she is facing an uphill struggle.

My condolences, Jane.

Booman Writes a Stupid Post

He waves his tiny fists and wails.  Like we care.

If you supported Obama during the primaries, you know who you are and this does not necessarily apply to you. For the rest of you, you spent the primaries either shilling for Clinton and telling us our guy was all talk and no show, or you spent them bitching that David Plouffe wouldn’t respond to and obey your emailed wisdom. As soon as he won the presidency, you started bitching about his appointments. As soon as he became president, you started bitching about his messaging, his framing, his agenda, and his lack of deference to your opinion. I want to know where the point was in this process when Obama was supposed to conclude that you were his allies and that you were responsible for his victory. When was he supposed to conclude that he owed you something, or that you had any respect for him, or that you credited his good intentions, or that you understood the myriad responsibilities of the job might mean that your pet issues might have to wait six months, a year, or two years to get to the top of his agenda.

You call him a warmonger, but he gets the Nobel Peace Prize. He ends torture and allows his Attorney General to investigate it, and you call him a torturer. He tries to enact health care reform with a robust public option and you accuse him of seeking every opportunity to sell-out to the insurance industry. He bails out the cratering financial services industry and prevents a second Great Depression, and you accuse him of selling his soul to corporate CEO’s. I’m not saying that all of these criticisms lack validity. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t advocate for the things they care about passionately. I just want to know where you get the fucking idea that an anonymous White House staffer who gets asked about all this criticism would feel obligated to show you deference and respect.

Gosh, it’s hard to know where to start.  How about defining who we are, because clearly, as Clinton shills, Booman is addressing his temper tantrum to us. Let me clear up some misconceptions for him.  We are not Tea Partiers.  We are not Birthers.  We are not Republicans.  And despite what the people who are closest to us politically continue to think, we are not racists.  That word continues to be flung around by people who should know better.  We know our own hearts and shouldn’t have to keep defending ourselves.  But whatever.  The evidence should speak for itself.  As a scientist, I don’t believe in hiding data and evidence.  I haven’t changed a word of what I have written on this site.  So, I challenge anyone who doubts my honesty on the issue of race to comb through our archives and find the smoking gun.  You won’t find one.

Ok, now that we’ve cleared that up, what are we?  Well, we are Democrats and former Democrats.  We are liberal to moderate (check our credo).  We supported Clinton because as we so accurately pointed out last year (again, check our archives), Obama was not ready for the big leagues.  We thought he would be a weak president.  We thought that whoever was backing him would like him that way- vulnerable and dependent.  We thought that government would be so broken after Bush left that it would take a person who had intimate knowledge of how the White House and government was run to hold things together.  We thought Hillary Clinton fit the bill.

Now, the $#%^ is hitting the fan for Obama, who by the way, did not come to the White House without leaving a trail of destruction in his own party in his wake, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  Over and over again in the past month, I have heard the following excuse offered by his defenders: “He inherited all of these problems from his predecessor.”  No $#@%, Sherlock.  That’s why we wanted the other Democratic candidate for President.  But you guys were so intent on having your little hissy fit and throwing your macho act around that you completely lost your minds and weren’t paying attention to the signs that you had picked the wrong horse.  So, instead of getting a break after eight long excruciating years of George W Bush, you saddled us with a guy who is so over his head that the best he can do is continue the Bush-Cheney agenda.  In everthing.  You name it: Finance, health care, the wars.  He’s there.  And the reason he’s there is because he was a product who got to the top by shmoozing and NOT by believing in core Democratic principles.  He isn’t for equality or saving the middle class or not screwing the poor or anything like that.  He is for Obama.  I’m not saying he’s a bad guy or a good guy.  I’m saying he’s an amoral guy.  It’s all about him.

So, that’s where we are.  Did Obama deserve a Nobel Prize for having good intentions?  No, I think the Swedes were very wise to step away from the Peace Prize and leave it in the hands of some smelly lutefisk eaters in Norway who think they are doing America a favor by giving us another teachable moment on race while completely ignoring the fact that this guy never has to actually do anything before accolades and prizes and the office of the most powerful person on the face of the earth is awarded to him.  But I digress.

My point, and I do have one, is that Booman is completely clueless about the nature of the president’s power.  The President derives it from the people who vote for him.  If he doesn’t have enough votes, he has to vacate his office.  So, now his henchmen are complaining that the left isn’t onboard with his agenda.  We aren’t supporting him.  We aren’t sufficiently cheerful.  According to them, we sit around in our pajamas all day and blog.  No, actually most of us have real jobs in the real world.  Or we have no jobs in the real world.  Or we are about to lose our jobs in the real world.  We are scientists and psychologists, economists and clowns.  We are overeducated, working class and both at the same time.  We are creative class and laborers and stay at home moms.

And *OBAMA* is supposed to be the president for *ALL*  of us.  Not his select few.  Not his Whole Foods Nation pep rally support crew.  Everyone.  Unfortunately, it is people like Booman who failed to make that clear to Obama last year when they allowed him to get away with political murder in the primaries.  He threw group after group under the bus.  People who were lifelong Democrats suddenly found their votes either taken for granted or unneeded.  Those voters were sometimes explicitly disenfranchised by the machinations of the party itself.  In all that time, Obama did not protest, did not protect those voters’ rights, did not show them any respect.  We’re not going to get over that anytime soon.  We are watching him and if he doesn’t deliver, he will not get our votes in any future elections.

This is the point that Booman fails to get.  It is OUR right to withhold our support from Obama until he starts addressing our concerns.  If the president doesn’t like how the electoral dynamics are playing out, it is up to him to change his behavior.

It’s called discipline and we are enforcing it.

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You don’t have to be stupid to be ignorant.

minervaSteven, a friend who is ex-military, and a heavy equipment mechanic, said to me this morning at breakfast,

“You don’t have to be stupid to be ignorant.”

Booman’s slight of dakinkat is a case in point.

Booman is not stupid. myiq notes that Booman can be sharp, but Booman is about as sharp as a bag of oranges on this issue.

If he was only embarassing himself with his naive assertion about the incorruptibility of ACORN and each and every one of its staffers, then I wouldn’t feel any need to comment, especially because I don’t doubt that the vast majority of ACORN personnel are well-intentioned people doing good works. He chose to use his ignorance as a tool to drag others in the mud, however, so he must be called to account.

Once again, it is a simple matter to demonstrate the intellectual and moral inadequacy of a Booman commentator by simply weighing his case against dakinikat. He makes the salacious claims, so the burden of proof falls on him. Please read dakinikat’s post and read his response to her post, especially the comments section.

Unraveling the Greed

Wells Fargo and Acorn

dakinikat ties the facts of the Wells Fargo case to the local history in her home district in New Orleans. Jacobson, in the NYT article, says that Wells Fargo targetted black churches to use their influence as a means of getting their parishoners to take out subprime loans with Wells Fargo. dakinikat relates this data with the meetings with subprime lenders that took place in churches by her home, seminars that tended to be sponsored by ACORN. That they sponsored the seminars does not mean that they knowingly worked against the best interests of the community. dakinikat also notes that ACORN is a bag organization in New Orleans (hardly a surprise, such things are common for both parties). She further notes that convictions of public officials on non-profits (not ACORN representatives) are a matter of public record.

Booman states that dakinikat is not telling the truth on the basis that her data does not conform with his experiences in Philadephia. Further, he rejects the claims of the ACORN 8 as right wing talking points.

The status of the claims of the ACORN 8 are open. Booman appears certain that they have no merit. He might be right. ACORN employees have been convicted and indicted, however, which suggests that complaints against ACORN can be more than right wing talking points, despite Booman’s idealizations. Perhaps they faced Republican judges.

It is worth noting that the head of ACORN is right when he notes that the number of cases against ACORN, and the number of convictions that have stemmed therefrom, are relatively small when one considers at the size of the organization. It is also important, as noted earlier, to not judge the many by the conduct of the few.

Booman appears comfortable with judging the conduct of the many by the conduct of the few. In doing so, he is employing the logical fallacy of generalizing from the particular. Then, on the basis of this fallacy, he proceeds to insult someone who is using her training to fight for the very same lending practises that he lauds ACORN for promoting.

For Booman to be right, we have to accept his assertion that ACORN and its employees are incorruptible, that their behavior is lock-step across each and every community that they operate in, that the ACORN sponsored church events with home loan lenders in dakinikat’s home district were not of the type propagated by Wells Fargo, and that the finance student who is working to fight against lending practises that exploit the poor is a liar and an agent for the Republican agenda.

ACORN employees have proven to be corruptible. dakinikat’s conference presentations are peer-reviewed, so they pass the truth test. In these publications she’s argued for regulation of said industries, which means she is arguing against the Republican agenda. It’s not unreasonable to assume that at least one of the home lending meetings involved a subprime mortgage lender. The only point that remains in Booman’s favor is the question of the role of ACORN in these loan meetings. It can be quickly dismissed, if we accept that ACORN would have worked with the lenders that offered the best deals for their constituents, even if these were necessarily subprime. They are, after all, only human.

Booman’s case fails on the balance of probabilities. His assertions about ACORN’s purity are empirically false, practically naive, and only have their force via a logical fallacy. His accusation about the talking points is non-sensical, given her academic presentations. That these claims found his assertion that she is not to be trusted, indicate that his judgment about her truthfulness and intellectual adequacy is not trustworthy. His wrongness about her truthfulness does not make him a liar, but that he dirties her name based on such a pathetic claim means he is a scoundrel.

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