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Hubris and Stampede

Making this short because I’m going to archery practice.  

So, there is a great gnashing of teeth beginning over The Upshot post this morning on Why Democrats Can’t Win the House, blah, blah, blah, woe is us, how dare they point this out for the world to see.  

Yes, the Republicans did blithely gerrymander through the gently (steeply) rolling hills of Pennsylvania, fa-la-la! And they didst separate the wheat from the chaff and packed the Democrats into vanishingly small districts (I’m District 14! Go, Doyle!

BUT, and this is a big but that the progressivey types ignore because, frankly, it’s embarrassing, the Republicans didn’t do that until they had won back the House in 2010.  That was a full two years after Obama and the Democrats had a clear, unobstructed path to do whatever their hearts desired.  And what they desired the most, apparently, was fluffing up the guy who campaigned in Pennsylvania and Appalachia as if the voters there didn’t matter a whit!  Nay, he even called them gun toting, churchie types who knit bitterly, or something to that effect.  That’s probably why Pennsylvania and Appalachia did not vote for him during the primaries.  

Yes, I was there.  I was at the Hillary campaign office in Harrisburg on three occasions during primary season and did much phone banking.  Most of the Democrats I spoke to had nothing against Obama.  They just didn’t think he was ready to be president.  Which just goes to show you how intelligent the commonwealth of Pennsylvania is.  But that didn’t stop Obama from treating this section of the country as if it was his enemy.  So, now, they hate his guts with a white hot passion.  And they’re none too trusting of the morons who forced him upon them.  If I were a Democrat in Pennsylvania, I wouldn’t be calling Obama my best buddy and pal and talking up all of his “accomplishments”.  

It was the hubris of the Netroots Nation type activists, skillfully played by the Wall Street backers of Obama that got us all into this mess.  I can remember the first YearlyKos where some nerdy Nate Cohn type stood up and declared writing off the south and the Clinton coalition as a pretty snazzy idea.  Who needs the south? It’s full of idiots and knuckle draggers and they all have déclassé gun racks on the back of their trucks.  {{sniff}}  No, they did not see that population as one that was the most likely to fall into a black pit of poverty once the Great Recession hit.  

Who were the stupid ones?  

So the country put its trust in Obama in 2008, hoping desperately for a true Democrat to set things right and arrest the bankers and save their jobs and houses and children’s future, all the while not knowing that he was the bankers’ secret weapon.  When he failed to make any progress and the economy fell into an abyss, the Democrats stayed home in 2010 and the Republicans were motivated to go to the polls, taking with them the population that Democrats had abandoned in 2008.  If Democrats had been smart and were really concerned about gerrymandering after the 2010 census, you’d think they would have been more careful about guarding their legacy.  

But not to fear.  There is a lot of pent up frustration about the state of the country.  I predict that there will be a stampede for Hillary Clinton in 2016, whether the progressive male contingent likes it or not and whether or not Hillary has been forced to sell her soul to the guys in the smoke filled rooms.  

If I were the progressive male contingent (and you know who you are, screaming “neoliberal”, whatever that actually means to you, at everything you don’t like), I would stand back.  Because the less resistance you offer, the less money she will have to get from the people you SHOULD have been watching out for back in 2008 when you got us into this mess.  

Your turn has come and gone.  You had your chance.  You blew it.  Shut up and sit down and, for god’s sakes, quit whining.  

 

The White House ignored the State Dept’s warnings on Syria for Years

It looks like the gloves are off.  Josh Rogin at The DailyBeast reports the following this afternoon:

Throughout 2011 and well into 2012, President Obama’s White House barred Hillary Clinton’s State Department from even talking directly to the moderate Syrian rebels. This was only one of several ways the Obama team kept the Clinton team from doing more in Syria, back before the revolution was hijacked by ISIS and spread into Iraq.

The policy feud has flared up again in recent weeks, with Clinton decrying Obama’s Syria policy, Obama’s inner circle hitting back, and the president himselfcalling criticism of his Syria moves “horseshit.” Obama and his former secretary of state promised to patch things up at a social gathering on Wednesday. But the rift is deep, and years in the making.

Clinton and her senior staff warned the White House multiple times before she left office that the Syrian civil war was getting worse, that working with the civilian opposition was not enough, and that the extremists were gaining ground. The United States needed to engage directly with the Free Syrian Army, they argued; the loose conglomeration of armed rebel groups was more moderate than the Islamic forces—and begging for help from the United States. According to several administration officials who were there, her State Department also warned the White House that Iraq could fall victim to the growing instability in Syria. It was all part of a State Department plea to the president to pursue a different policy.

“The State Department warned as early as 2012 that extremists in eastern Syria would link up with extremists in Iraq. We warned in 2012 that Iraq and Syria would become one conflict,” said former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. “We highlighted the competition between rebel groups on the ground, and we warned if we didn’t help the moderates, the extremists would gain.”

But the warnings, which also came from other senior officials—including then-CIA chief David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta—fell on deaf ears. Obama’s small circle of White House foreign policy advisers resisted efforts to make connections with rebel fighters on the ground until 2013, when the administration began to train and equip a few select vetted brigades. For many who worked on Syria policy inside the administration, it was too little, too late.

Look, guys, I hate to sound like a broken record, really I do.  Do you think it gives me any pleasure to point out that lack of planning, principle and follow through that has characterized the Obama administration for the last six years?  Hell, no.  I have to live in this country too and at my age, there’s no other country in the world that’s going to accept me as an immigrant.  (Though if there is anyone in New Zealand who wants to sponsor me, I’m all ears. )

I can understand the White House’s embarrassment and desire to keep all this dissension under wraps.  But I don’t appreciate the PR campaign they have unleashed against the former SOS simply because she chooses to reveal her difficulties with the White House.

On the other hand, maybe Hillary will learn to be more sympathetic towards people like Edward Snowden.

One can only hope.

Conflict unavoidable

“Rash and inexperienced traveller, we will now seriously devote ourselves to a little high tension”

The New York Times has an article today about the unavoidable conflict between Clinton and Obama.  They’re both on Martha’s Vineyard this week. For all I know, it’s manufactured by the flying monkeys in the media who seem to be salivating for a Krystle vs Alexis fight in The Pond.  But there are some encouraging utterances from the Clinton camp:

Mr. Obama is fast becoming the past, not the future, for donors, activists and Democratic strategists. Party leaders are increasingly turning toward Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as Democrats face difficult races this fall in states where the president is especially unpopular, and her aides are making plain that she has no intention of running for “Obama’s third term.”

Thank goodness for that.  I don’t think I can take another four years of careless conservatism spouting from the mouths of clueless young Ivy League males.  We have been waiting for six long years to hear what Clinton really thinks about Obama.  Yeah, it was great that she was able to swallow her pride and anger and play nice for the sake of “unity” but enough’s enough.  Even if she doesn’t run, I am looking forward to her informed critique.

I especially like the bit where Clinton says “ ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,”

Amen to that.

I am desperate to hear someone talk about their organizing principles.  No, I am not kidding.  That “put everything on the table and we’ll negotiate” crap has been an utter disaster.  And like Katiebird, I’d like the conversation to move away from foreign policy to economics.

On the other hand, this is probably not the best way to raise a lot of money from political donors who want to retain their iron grip on all the money in the universe.  Let’s hope Clinton can convince some of them that it’s in their best interests.

The Party, on the other hand, seems to think this is still 2008 before the crash:

Christine Pelosi, a longtime Democratic activist and daughter of the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, said her phone and email “just exploded” after Mrs. Clinton’s remarks.

“Now is not the time to second guess the commander in chief, particularly when you’re a former member of his cabinet and national security team,” Ms. Pelosi said.

Oooo, really?  And when would the best time be, Christine?  I mean, he’s already opened up the tax payer safe to the finance industry, took a backseat to the foreclosure crisis and long term unemployment, presided over the dismantling of our research and development sector, and locked us into a two tier class system when it comes to health insurance.  When is any Democrat allowed to criticize him?  No one ever gave Bill Clinton that kind of deference.

Anyway, here’s to a little high tension.  It’s about fricking time.

Additional thoughts: We were the target of a troll attack yesterday.  It was wildly fun, by the way.  Katiebird and I are just warming up.  Bring it on.  But we did wonder what the heck triggered it.  It reminded both of us of the days in 2008 when the Obot trolls fired barrage after barrage from different IP addresses.  In fact, we both thought it was a good idea that we hadn’t gotten rid of those addresses in the banned list for the spam filter.  Now, we can go through the IPs at our leisure and figure out if there’s a common thread.

But it does make us wonder, why bother?  Obama isn’t running for another term, we don’t have nearly the readership that we had in 2008 when we peaked at something like 56000 hits/per day.  And the left has not sought to deign us with the pleasure of their revenue stream by adding us to their blog rolls.  In fact, I’d say we were true blue all the way through the last six years but hardly worth the effort and attention.

And yet, in spite of our anonymity compared to 2008, we still seem relevant enough to send a bunch of psych-out shock troops.  We can’t dismiss the possibility of a Republican attack but yesterday’s seemed so familiar.  It left that whiff of O-zone behind it.

Go figure.

Sanctimonious BS

From Tristero on the Iraq War Resolution and Hillary Clinton’s vote:

I was so freaked out that I did something I hadn’t done since college: I joined a protest outside Clinton’s Manhattan office. No dice. Then, I emailed every single person I knew to send me a letter opposing the war. I printed them all out and overnight fedexed them to Clinton’s office in DC.

In addition, Michael Moore circulated a petition that read in part:

We call on the Democrats in Congress to oppose a war on Iraq, to vote “No” to Bush’s war cries. We pledge to never again vote for any Democratic member of Congress who supports George W. Bush’s war against Iraq. To the Democrats in Congress, we give you fair warning: You are either with us, or you are fired.

[…]

I did not support Clinton in 2008 for the presidency. As for 2016, unless there is a serious chance that a Republican would beat her, I will honor my signature on Moore’s petition.

I saw Hillary Clinton’s statement on her vote on the Senate floor and it didn’t sound like “gobbledygook and some of the most twisted rationalizations I have ever read”.  No, I give that honor to John Kerry’s overly long statement on the Senate floor regarding the same resolution.

I think Clinton’s motives were pretty clear and I’m not going to rehash them here nor will I apologize for her.  I was as adamantly against going to Iraq as Tristero and Michael Moore.  You can ask my immediate family.  They were hung-ho, Hadji kicking, peeing in their beds in terror over Muslims coming to kill them lunatics.  We split up over it.

But I do have a problem with this sanctimonious “Lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine” bull from Tristero.

How come you guys were so Ok with turning the primary season of 2008 into a pro forma affair?  I hold the vote as one of the most sacred institutions in the country. You know what happened. Without integrity in the voting process, it doesn’t matter if you go to war or not.  The bad guys have already won.

Going into 2016, are we entirely sure we are going to have an honest primary season where a candidate that Tristero can bring himself to support has a chance of actually winning?  Will that vote actually count for anything?  I used to be a PUMA but consider myself a Democrat in Exile since the general election of 2008.  Hillary Clinton has to prove herself all over again.  My vote is not automatic.  Will I have a chance to get counted this time, because Jon Corzine gave my primary vote away in 2008 in some kind of negotiated parley with the DNC that sounded like “gobbledygook and some of the most twisted rationalizations I have ever read” and I consider that the worst thing that has happened in American politics since Watergate.

I will defend Tristero’s right to vote for any self-righteous, preening, “Yes We Can!”, supposedly anti-war candidate he wants in 2016.  Will Tristero allow me the same right to vote for whoever I want?  Or is he going to call me a racist, stupid, and uneducated when I have a different set of priorities and set much higher standards for qualifications?  Does my vote for “It’s the economy, stupid” have equal standing with Tristero’s desire to live like Gandhi?  Will it be OK once more to just ignore my wishes and trash my vote because Tristero and his friends know better than I do what my priorities should be?  What if I decide that women’s rights are more important this election cycle than LGBT rights?  Will that be Ok? If we’re going to get a bunch of lefties crying and holding their breaths this early in the election cycle, it’s time we pushed back hard because they threw a fit and got their way in 2008.

And because of that, we got the most untested, overly ambitious, unready, president in the middle of the greatest economic catastrophe in 80 years.  I and many of my former colleagues are still paying for that and will continue to pay for that in terms of diminished wages and savings until the day we die.  Our children will pay for that. Women in general have been paying for that.  Is there an American woman alive who can genuinely say that the misogynism unleashed by Democrats in the 2008 campaign season hasn’t affected them?  And it was all very, VERY predictable.  We predicted it throughout the campaign season with some very good logic and observation.

I can think of a lot of “the most dangerously stupid policy decisions any American president ever made”.  For example, pulling out of Iraq before the country was stabilized in order to placate a bunch of noisy Tristeros before the 2012 election was dangerously stupid. Making Tim Geithner Secretary of the Treasury was dangerously stupid.  After all, he’s the one who wrote the actual blank check for the finance industry in the form of trillions of our tax dollars.  If we face another economic catastrophe because the financiers took greater risks, I’d say that was dangerously stupid.  Bailing on homeowners might not feel so bad to Tristero but I’m sure the kids who lost their houses when the banks foreclosed on their parents would see it differently.  There are a lot of dangerously stupid policy decisions that Obama has made that are going to affect all of us and make us a weaker nation for generations to come.  But those decisions?  Not a peep from Tristero and people like him.

We all have our lines in the sand.  Tristero thought the war in Iraq was his, though I suspect he was pretty OK with voting for John Kerry in 2004.  Can Tristero honestly look at us in the face and say that he held John Kerry to the same standard in 2004 as he holds Hillary Clinton in 2016?  Call me very skeptical.

And I have mine.  To me, anyone who schemes to deprive voters of their choices, substituting his judgement for theirs, doesn’t get my support.  Ever.  Because I don’t know who is behind that kind of sacrilege and nothing good comes from a bad seed.

Messing with the vote is evil.

One final thought: There seems to be some misperception out there that I am totally onboard with Hillary and I’m just being coy and my past as a PUMA just proves it.  That would be wrong.

I’m not the head of any group and I don’t have any connections to the campaign.  No one has approached me to officially or unofficially support a candidate.  Maybe it’s too early for that anyway but in any case, I wouldn’t know how it’s done because I was never solicited in the past.  All of my statements were purely voluntarily and not under the control of any candidate.  I’m sure that didn’t always help the candidate but that’s what has happened in the past.  I liked my independence.

Yeah, I could use ad money.  I have tuition to pay and I’m a lot less financially secure than I was in 2008.  I don’t have a good job with benefits anymore.   I’m human and I would be sorely tempted.  But what I really want more than anything else is a full time job making decent money, and health insurance that doesn’t cost me my entire paycheck and, in my opinion, the economy is in such desperate need of liberal economic policies that I am willing to wipe my slate clean and start with a fresh pair of eyes when it comes to candidates for 2016.

So, Hillary has to prove herself to me just like any other candidate.  If she is a worthy candidate, she wouldn’t want it any other way.

We want answers from the pols: Why do Americans have to put up with Exploitative Profit Mining?

(This was written in steam of consciousness mode.)

This is an invitation to the politicians out there to answer this question.  Why are Americans expected to tolerate exploitative profit mining by the wealthy and well connected?  Why are we supposed to just sit here like crops to be harvested?  As soon as there is even a teensy bit of disposable income, that we are supposed to sock away for the future, some capitalist on steroids has to find a way of siphoning it off for his own use and profit.

We all know the game is rigged and yet we’re expected to put all of our precious savings in the stock market or in the hands of fund managers or pay a steep tax penalty to cover our living expenses if we have the misfortune to suffer periods of extended unemployment before we turn 59.5.

We’re all expected to get a college degree if we have even a prayer of getting a good job but then we are tied to these monstrous student loan debts or we spend years pursuing a PhD in a difficult subject only to find we have to take a series of $37K/year jobs.

We’re all expected to pony up hundreds and thousands of dollars for lousy health care policies and an ACA that has separated the country’s workers into two classes.  But the minute we ask for a fairer system that imposes cost controls on medical costs and profit limits on insurers, you’d think we were being irreligious.  Same with internet providers who can’t be bothered to improve their infrastructure even while they intend to reduce competition and split the proceeds from mergers amongst their shareholders.  Apparently, there is no one in Congress or the executive branch who thinks it is possible to stop what consumers think of as destructive mergers and loss of net neutrality.  Why are we expected to put up with that?

Every business and industry has figured out how to extract the maximum amount of pain and we rely on Congress to help us have a say in the matter and they do nothing to stop the extraction.

There’s got to be a better reason than the fact that campaign finance reform is broken.  We want answers as to why we are expected to tolerate the intolerable.

It’s one damn thing after another and no one is buying the excuse that nothing can be done because of the Republicans.  We’ve been watching this unfold for more than a decade and we haven’t even seen you Democrats putting up much of a fight.

Why does exploitative profit mining seem so unstoppable among the politicians that we elected to keep the playing field level so that we can all benefit from the fruits of our labors?

We want answers.  Feel free to use the comment thread below to provide them.  I think we have a right to expect a response of some kind.

Come on, Al Franken.  We supported you from the beginning.  What say you?  How about you, Elizabeth Warren?  And you, Hillary Clinton?  Enough of the foreign policy.  We want to hear about domestic issues.  What are you going to do about this?

Another fine product from Jane Caro

Jane Caro is a former advertising executive and now a public speaker in Australia.  Her presentations cover many topics but she’s particularly outspoken about politics, education and feminism.  Some of you might remember a former video of hers on how politicians can gain the trust of their constituents.  I think it might be this one where Caro was one of 4 panelists talking about political spin from an advertising branding point of view. Pick her up at minute marker 19:00-ish.*

This latest one is about feminism and not being “nice”.  According to Caro, and our own site statistics, we must have been doing something right in 2008 because the push back, name calling and ostracism was ferocious.  She also makes a point about women on the internet that I have been trying to emphasize for some years now.  When it comes to the blogosphere, the internet is the best friend women ever had.  It is the great equalizer.  Yeah, your potential allies can leave you off their blog rolls and the trolls can be hostile pains in the asses.  But they can’t shut you down.  Nope, you can go on saying one irritating thing after another and if you don’t like the comments you get, well, they’re just pixels on a monitor.  They can not hurt you.

Anyway, enjoy the latest from Jane Caro.

 

I found Caro’s eight rules of political branding.  Before the purists out there get all bent out of shape that using advertising is somehow “dirty” in politics, know that to get elected, you need to advertise yourself and show the voters that your services are worth purchasing for a length of time.  Politicians that do not advertise do not get elected.  It goes with the territory.  Here are the Eight Rules:

1.) Underpromise and overdeliver.
2.) Be voter centered. Convince your voters that you put them first. Take risks in defense of what you believe even if it may cost you personally.
3.) Don’t sacrifice what your core voters always liked about you to buy new voters.
4.) All voting decisions are made emotionally and then post-rationalized. There are two emotions that change behavior: Hope and Fear. If you want to change behaviors, get to know what are the voters’ hopes and fears.
5.) While voting decisions are made emotionally and are post-rationalized, you must give voters ammunition to defend their choice.
Policy is important.
6.) Raise voters’ morale and your own. We want to vote for people who look like they want the job and once they’ve got the job, look like they love the job.
7.) Lower voter anxiety about YOU.
8.) Voters want politicians to love their constituency.

About Kos and Netroots Nation

Please fade away

I’m embellishing a comment I made in the last thread and moving it up to the front page.

This is not specifically about Netroots Nation and Markos Moulitsos, the founder of DailyKos, and why he won’t go to Arizona next year.  However, I went to the first two YearlyKos events so I can comment on this whether they like it or not.  The first YearlyKos in Las Vegas was amazing.  The second was just weird in ways I can’t even describe.  The “vibe” was off and I started to feel coerced in a way that was not dissimilar to the kind of emotional manipulation you might find in a fundy evangelical tent revival meeting.  It was deeply unsettling.  So, maybe I knew after YearlyKos2 that I didn’t really belong anymore.

But now I hear that Kos is onboard with getting behind Hillary and telling his droogs to fall in line.  I don’t know because I don’t go to DailyKos and haven’t for going on 6 years now.  But I did read his self-righteous little screed about why he wouldn’t be attending Netroots Nation in 2015 and here’s my take on it:

For the presidential campaigns of 2016, Kos should STFU. Seriously, it was Kos that forced us (Clintonistas posting at DailyKos) out of our tribe and then lead the social psychology storm troopers to quell stifle smother kill dissent on the left.  If I recall correctly, he referred to us as a “shrieking band of paranoid holdouts”, or something to that effect. (Katiebird may remember the lovely term of endearment better than I can) Let’s examine Kos’s moral authority to make pronouncements about 2016.

Did Kos support Florida and Michigan voters in 2008? Um, no.

Was Kos a Hispanic leader defending the rights of primary voters who were locked out of Texas caucus sites? Um, no.

Did he defend the little old ladies who were silenced in Kansas? How about the primary votes in NJ that were handed over to Obama at the convention without so much as a “by your leave” by that paragon of virtue, Jon Corzine? Did he question the precedent the Democrats were setting when the most successful female candidate in the history of American politics was humiliated by being denied a legitimate role call vote at the convention?

No, No and, most emphatically, No.

His behavior was egregious and extraordinarily un-democratic in 2008 but no one challenged him. Well, WE did but then his flying monkeys accused us of racism.

So, I’m sure that Kos now flatters himself as a man of principle by refraining from entering Arizona. But he sold those principles to the highest bidder in 2008 giving us a president who I am convinced will go down in history as the Nero of our republic. In the process, he helped to invalidate the primary system, promoted the ends justifying the means, and allowed misogynism of the most vile and opportunistic kind to flourish on his blog.

So, fuck Kos with a 2″ diameter test tube brush.

He’s done enough damage. The best thing for Democrats to do is to get the hell out of the way and let people have choices in 2016.  A legitimate primary where real issues are discussed in detail by women who are familiar with policy, and can extrapolate policy outcomes, would be a very good thing. The party’s obsession with trying  to decide what is the best for us (and I am being generous with my words here) backfired stupendously in 2008.  It needs to back off now.

Just stop tinkering with the election process. Most Democratic voters know who is going to work for them. They don’t need to be corralled like sheep.

Update: So, I went over to the Big Orange Satan to see what they’re up to and it’s worse than I thought.  They are playing with dangerous things.

Update2: Maybe it doesn’t matter whether Kos attends Netroots Nation.  But we should never forget the atmosphere that he created in 2008 or dismiss the idea that it can’t happen again.  It can if we aren’t vigilant.  IMHO, Democrats should start with a fresh slate in 2016 (not necessarily fresh candidates) and evaluate candidates more dispassionately than they did in 2008. (yes, I know I’m dreaming)  As far as I can see, we did not learn our lessons and safeguards are not in place in the primary system or online to prevent a repeat.

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