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      I woke up last night feeling like I was suffocating, because in my dream I was. It began in a church, or an old university lecture hall. Antique. And everyone in attendance was being asked to say little prayers honoring Jesus. Everyone was reciting little prayers that are common among the devout. But when it was my turn, I stood and exclaimed: Jesus was a ph […]
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Re: Pharma, Yes! The left can be taught.

Matt Stoller at Ian Welsh’s blog gets a clue using Pfizer’s acquisitions as an example of the financialization of the pharmaceutical industry. At least he isn’t beating up on R&D for making crappy drugs. He’s opened the door a crack and peered in. Fascinating, eh, Matt? There’s a career making piece in there.

I’ll take Matt Stoller seriously when…

So, Matt is one of the latest Democrats to leave the party because, well, Obama let Wall Street run the country in the past four years and drones.  All very good reasons.  Suppressing the votes of fellow Democrats in 2008?  Not that important.

So, I’ll take Matt seriously as a new Democrat in Exile when he finally acknowledges that those of us who preceded him out of the party four years ago had extremely good reasons for doing so and that it didn’t matter who was running against Obama.  Suppressing the vote of any state and nullifying those votes and letting the party get away with it was the first step on the slippery slope that lead to this point and that it should never happen again even if, and I want to make this absolutely clear, even if the opposing candidate is not to Matt’s liking for whatever irrational reason he can come up with to disguise his latent sexist tendencies. What Matt and his fellow former Obama contingent liked wasn’t important.  What is important is counting all of the votes equally and protecting the legitimacy and fairness of the electoral process.  If you don’t have that, you haven’t got anything and the person you let get away with murder will assume you don’t have a problem with anything he does.

So, Matt, you’re late to the party but if you’re serious about the long, hard process of reconstituting the left, you need to embrace us and tell all your friends to stop being snooty, snobby fucktards.  Screw us and pretend we don’t exist and you’ll have a hard time getting our cooperation in the future.  We’ll know if you really mean it or not.  It shouldn’t take long.  Otherwise, we’ll just assume you still don’t get it.

We would send out your white sheets and hormone replacement therapy starter packs but we’ve had a lot of new members recently and supplies are low.


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.

Land’s Sakes, What’s a body to do?

Why are all those busy body adbusters people riling up plain folks?

Educate yourself.


I don’t know what to make of the liberals for Ron Paul phenomenon except that they seem to edge towards the “Single Issue voter” side of the spectrum.  Civil liberties and war are the primary problems for them.  If I recall correctly, Matt Stoller voted for Obama in the primary because of his reputed anti-war position.  I can remember the day that Stoller announced his decision on Open Left even though up to that point he was at least pretending to be objective.

But I would like to suggest that the best way to end the wars and take on the military industrial complex once and for all is to fix the economy.  Because the vast majority of Americans are stressed out, trying to make ends meet.  It was already stressful enough before the crash of 2008 to keep a job and everything that goes with it, like money for housing, food, healthcare and retirement.  Now, it’s almost impossible.  And when people are that stressed out, trying to keep track of dozens of tasks and walking on eggshells to make sure they’re not on the list for the next layoff, they don’t have time to get all up the grill of the US government about wars.  Did you notice what happened to the anti-war movement since 2008?  From what I can tell, it’s been replaced in the news with endless bad economic news.

So, to those single issue voters who have the luxury to pick lint out of your belly buttons and get all breathlessly righteous about the war, turn your attention to fixing the economy.  It shouldn’t have to be said again, but the economy was THE most important issue in the 2008 election.  Because if you want to keep the anti-war pressure up, you need to get people to care about it.  And right now, they’ve got more important things on their minds.  I know this is a foreign concept to young men who have no families to worry about but, frankly, your single issue?  Not even on our radar right now. That’s alarming, I know. That doesn’t mean we aren’t just as anti-war as you are, especially those of us who have brothers over there (I do, do you?).  It’s just that we are fighting our own wars right now and feeding our kids is more important.  That’s how the bad guys get their way and their wars.  They distract the very people who care.

People who are overwhelmed with fighting for their own economic survival are less interested in their civil liberties and war.  It is, and always has been, the economy, stupid. Fix that first and the rest will follow.  And if you are following that much of my logic, then you will stop toying with the Ron Paul option.


As long as we’re speculating on whether it is acceptable to vote for the lesser evil, why don’t we take a poll?

Of course I can throw Hillary on that list.  Whether the Matt Stollers and Chris Hedges types like her or not, the Stollers and Hedges types are a tiny fraction of the American electorate and they may find out just how tiny a fraction they are come election day.  There are much bigger fractions out there that the Democrats are in danger of losing right now, like women and people with families and the unemployed. Remember, it’s the economy stupid.  So, if you had to pick a lesser evil, why not Hillary?  How much more eeeeeevil than Barack Obama is she?  The party changes its rules when it wants to.  Right now, it *thinks* it can shove Obama down our throats again but there are plenty of us who are not interested in what either party is selling.  Give us a different option, someone we see as less evil, and we might come back.

Think about that.  Do you want a Democrat in the White House or Barack Obama?

Really, Matt?

I just finished listening to Susie Madrak and Matt Stoller from last night’s blogtalkradio broadcast of Virtually Speaking. Highly recommended. For the most part, they’ve got the Obama situation right. Matt Stoller gets a bit closer to Obama’s psychology when he talks about how Obama has seen liberalism and rejected it. The New Yorker profiled Obama back in 2008 and came to much the same conclusion. Essentially, Obama sees New Deal liberals as cockeyed optimists who aren’t dealing with reality, in spite of the empirical evidence that says they are right. They’re too naive and confident in government’s ability to work for fairness and equality. In particular, Obama had a problem with his *mother* not his father. She was a bit too idealistic for his refined tastes. So, he rejected liberalism for tradition and convention. Some of us detected this early but couldn’t quite put our finger on why he seemed to be such a passive Democrat but this paragraph gets to the heart of what Obama’s political philosophy really is:

Obama’s mother is, in his portrayal, an American innocent out of Henry James: a young girl who ventures into the world believing that things are as they seem to be; that a person’s story begins when she is born and her relations with other people begin when she meets them; that you can leave your home without fear of injury or loneliness because people everywhere are more or less alike. She had no idea what she was getting into when she left Hawaii—no idea that only months before she arrived Indonesia had suffered a failed but brutal coup and the killing of several hundred thousand people. Eventually, somebody told her what had happened, but the knowledge didn’t change her. “In a land where fatalism remained a necessary tool for enduring hardship,” Obama writes, “she was a lonely witness for secular humanism, a soldier for New Deal, Peace Corps, position-paper liberalism.” She had a faith, inherited from her father and resistant to experience, “that rational, thoughtful people could shape their own destiny.” She should have counted herself lucky for emerging from the experience with only a second divorce and two bewildered children. “Things could have turned out worse,” her son wrote. “Much worse.”

It seems that Obama would rather Americans accept their fate, embrace fatalism to see them through hardship and stop trying to reshape their lives through vision and rationality. Obama is the antithesis of the New Deal Democrat. He just doesn’t believe in it.

That profile also contained a critique of Obama’s vs Clinton’s approaches to persuading the public on policy. Their conclusion was that she was just better at it because she understood what was at stake and could frame the argument in a way that described what the little guy was up against and then propose well crafted solutions to solve the problem. I can attest to that personally. In 2007, I got to ask Hillary the final question at her break out session at YearlyKos2. I asked her about infrastructure because I was very interested in mass transit and only a few days before YearlyKos2, a bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. She did exactly what the New Yorker article described. She framed the problem, identified the players and proposed concrete solutions. Her answer was detailed and thorough and convinced me that she really knew what she was talking about.

I don’t know where Matt was at the time. Probably waiting to get into a meeting with John Edwards or the Big Kahuna himself.

But anyway, the good stuff ended right about there. Matt says he was conflicted in 2008 but all I remember from Matt Stoller at that time was that he resembled so many of the people who were *trying* (not too hard) to be neutral but really, really, REALLY wanted Obama to win like the voice over narrator of the anti-Nader Anonymous video. I suspect that Obama totally made Matt cry sometimes. Then Matt goes on to say the State Department is messed up, which reminds me of all of the “Hillaryland at the State Department” articles we see in the Washington Post and New York Times whenever the electorate starts having buyer’s remorse over Obama. Then he complained that she didn’t apologize over her Iraq War Vote. Yes, Matt, Hillary Clinton, the senator from fricking New York was the single most important vote and primary reason the Iraq War Resolution passed even though she specifically and strongly urged Bush to let the UN weapons inspectors do their jobs and only go to war as a last resort. That she failed to wear a hair shirt and plead for your forgiveness demonstrates a shocking lack of obsequiousness on her part. Then there was a gratuitous slap from Susie about PUMA, which I don’t think either of them really understood. While there were plenty of PUMAs who were all about Hillary and plenty of the rest of us who hoped desperately that the party would come to its senses before the convention, PUMA was actually a movement that came to life after 18,000,000 votes were trashed at the RBC meeting in May 2008.

That’s what PUMA was all about, Susie. It was the disenfranchised rebelling against the party that ran what turned out to be sham primaries and then selected a nominee behind closed doors. It was about wasting our money and our time on phone banks and canvassing when the result was already decided. It was about screwing with the election process and conveniently eliminating inconvenient votes in Florida and Michigan. It was about the undemocratic caucuses and the theft of delegates from one candidate that were gifted to another who wasn’t even on the Michigan ballot. It was about the apalling spectacle of the ends justifying the means and absolutely no accountability to the voters who had a legitimate claim to be counted. The separation between the candidates in terms of primary delegates was thinner than a gnat’s wing by the time they got to Denver and got even thinner when the Credentials committee restored Florida and Michigan to full voting status. But by then, the damage was done.

I was there in the ballroom when the Kossacks jeered Hillary over her lobbying comment and as a worker in the pharmaceutical industry, I knew exactly what she meant. There was no ambiguity, Matt. The problem was that Edwards had been speaking a few minutes before and had riled the crowd up with his P.T. Barnum routine. There were a lot of suckers in that crowd that afternoon and after Edwards was forced out, they climbed aboard the Obama bandwagon. The funny thing is that industries like Big pharma were never afraid of Obama. They were nervous about Hillary. And if you want to know why you need look no further than the telecomm vote in July 2008. Obama voted for immunity, Hillary didn’t. The Clintonistas were not surprised by this. We understood her.

But what bothers me the most is the persistent and factually incorrect assertion that Hillary ran a poor campaign. I realize that that is the conventional wisdom that the left blogosphere keeps telling itself to justify pushing Obama on the rest of us but it never made any damn sense. In what world does a candidate win NJ, NY, CA, PA, FL, MI, MA, OH, TX, NV, IN, WV, KY, TN, RI, NH and still get accused of running a poor campaign? Wouldn’t it make more sense to say that of Obama because he couldn’t win the big, populated Democratic states? This is a world where the voters don’t really count. it’s a world where caucuses in sparsely populated states count more than voters in a dense state like NJ.

Matt, you are still suffering from an indoctrination hangover. For some reason, young, Ivy League educated males such as yourself were predisposed to like Obama and dislike Hillary. Only you can answer why that is but I think it was Anglachel who correctly identified it as white male graduate student syndrome:

Big Media Matt put up a post the other day before Josh’s wet, steaming pantload was generally noticed that brings up the biggest truth, that the Clever Young Men of the Blogosphere simply can’t see because they are unable (and unwilling) to observe themselves as part of the phenomenon:

“I think Hillary Clinton’s going to win this thing. I think the college educated men who dominate punditland have spent a lot of time missing the fact that there actually are enthusiastic Clinton fans out there — they’re just mostly working class women and thus mostly not in the room when this CW gets hashed out. On the Record
Not in the room.

That really sums up the deep structural problem of the “netroots” as a source of political strength on the left. They have never left the graduate classroom while the rest of us have moved on.

I spent a long time in graduate classrooms before finally deciding that I needed to find a line of work where I could retain my dignity, and I know this type of person very well. He’s white (or codes as “white”), very articulate, often socially awkward, deferential to fawning towards the most senior male in the area, smart-as-a-whip in a bookworm kind of way, can throw together short, abstract, sophisticated arguments about their own esoteric subject at the drop of a hat, and has spent the last 8 to 10 years of his life being praised as the smartest guy in the room. They literally earn an “A” for their thinking and how it is received by the professors. It is a deeply incestuous and self-reinforcing environment.

In short, their entire sense of self-worth is tied up in winning verbal exchanges on subjects they are going to get tested on in the mid-term exams next month. Yak-yak between and amongst themselves (all under the approving eye of the senior male professor who will give them a recommendation on their job application to Podunk U.) is the fabric of their lives. They don’t waste time with anything that doesn’t mark them off as “clever” and “insightful” (as determined by the senior prof), and they get hostile when someone or something enters their carefully constructed cocoon and simply rips the foundations of their arguments out from underneath them.


To my thinking, this is why the leading lights of the netroots on the left are so dangerously out of step with the Democratic grassroots. They are flocking to candidates and causes without concrete foundations to their positions, and they speak mainly among themselves, which further exacerbates their distance from the run-of-the-mill citizen. They seize on the formal argument and overlook the practical application. Worse, they cling to sophistry and the good-old-white-boys praise and promote systems of academia and journamalism, and insist their justifications are right. If they didn’t, their entire raison d’etre would vanish and they might have to get a real job bagging groceries, fixing electrical lines, tending elders in nursing homes, or collecting garbage. Icky, dirty, hard things that they might not like and wouldn’t be very good at.

This is intellectual elitism, yes, but even more a rather childish and frightening inability to distinguish the worth or weight of an idea in the context of an ordinary life.

There’s more than a touch of sexism in it. I’ve seen it in the research industry. Women managers are always seen as less competent and token females. Am I right, Matt? Aren’t you a bit more likely to find fault with Hillary and make excuses for Obama? We Clintonistas called it the Penis Years phenomenon. She was vastly more experienced and prepared than he was but he had that certain thing that made him more qualified. Don’t think that didn’t come up in the analysis of the lefty blogosphere sites when the campaign operatives started to sift through the data. You were, and continue to be, an easy mark.

But now, you’re *almost* there, Matt. Susie is right. Hillary was a better candidate to address domestic issues. She was the right candidate for the times. But you wanted to hear an apology from her and that, plus her gender (come on, Matt, admit it to yourself at least) kept her out of the White House.

It wasn’t about Hillary. It was about our obligation to elect the person most likely to be a good president whether that person was black or white, male or female. At the very least, she should have gotten a floor fight and a legitimate roll call vote. It would have been the right thing to do for the voters who desperately wanted a Democrat in the White House. In light of everything that has happened since September 2008, we deserved better deliberation and seriousness from the male graduate student contingent.

Random Thots- Monday, Jan.28

Random Thots

  • Breathless headline du jour: “Bill Clinton orders coffee black. African-American leaders see signs of latent racism.”
  • Paul Krugman says, “Focus, people! Focus!” Let’s hope that Hillary learned her lesson from Bill regarding health care and that John Edwards’ message gets more attention.
  • NPR is live blogging the SOTU tonight?! Damn! Is liveblogging still cool?
  • Paraphrasing Emmanuel on Morning Edition: “The rift between Obama and Clinton isn’t like JFK or LBJ. It’s not like when Ted Kennedy tried to shiv Jimmy Carter in 1980. Heck, it’s not even like George Bush vs John McCain in 2000. No, Hillary vs Obama is just a slight misunderstanding brought on by her loudmouth husband who we want to STFU. I’m not endorsing. I’m hiding under my desk.” In other words, typical Rahm.
  • Ahhh, but does NPR have a drinking game to go with their SOTU liveblogging? Betcha they don’t. Add your words, phrases and # of prescribed gulps in the comments.
  • SusanG is channeling the chaos? Ayayay! Must be pretty tumultuous behind the scenes.
  • Matt Stoller issues a warning. I have to agree with him. There is something very spooky here with so many people who are normally clear thinkers start jumping aboard the Obama bandwagon. The synergy of the media, some influential bloggers and others is directed primarily at taking down the Clintons not necessarily at putting Obama in the WH. I still think there are a lot of Republican operatives trolling the web, dominating comment threads at TPM and DailyKos and manipulating the discourse to make it look like Obama, not Clinton is the inevitable candidate. And when they finally have Clinton out of the way, Obama will be a sitting duck because he is a stump speech, an intelligent man and not much else. God help us.