The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

Earlier this week, Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for an investigation into Rahm Emanuel's activities at Freddie Mac and suggesting that there was a White House conspiracy led by the Chief of Staff to thwart an investigation into financial accounting improprieties that may include intentional, and thus criminal, earning misstatements during Mr. Emanuel's brief but lucrative tenure on the board of directors of Freddie Mac. The allegations that the White House is blocking the appointment of an Inspector General who would look into the financial mess at both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are serious and in part based on this story in the Chicago Tribune. Nonetheless what has mostly garnered attention, at least so far, is the fact that Jane co-authored the letter with Grover Norquist, the head of anti-tax advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform and a board member of both the National Rifle Association and the American Conservative Union.

The pairing has sparked a flood of commentary on the peculiarity of the alliance but only a trickle on the substantive issues addressed by the joint letter. Chris Good of The Atlantic noted that "Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher are not often on the same side of anything, beyond both usually being in the Western Hemisphere." Mr. Good quoted the letter in full and notes the seriousness of the allegations but not much more. Bret Baier of Fox News opined that "politics can make for strange bedfellows" and then devoted but a single paragraph to the substance of their charges. More thorough was the New York Times who called them an "odd couple" before adding that "ideological opposites Jane Hamsher and Grover Norquist have found common ground in a common enemy" in the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Even so, the nation's paper of record buried the story by Jackie Calmes in its Caucus Blog section with five short paragraphs on the substance of the joint letter with another five short paragraphs on "the strangest odd-couplings since James Carville and Mary Matalin married." The Times finds while Mr. Norquist is a familiar GOP provocateur, "Ms. Hamsher’s role, however, reflects her emergence as a leading cyber-voice for a Democratic left wing increasingly disaffected by what it sees as the sell-out centrist policies of the Obama administration" adding "for that it blames Mr. Emanuel, viewing himi [sic] as a sort of presidential puppet-master."

A number of blogs have also covered the joint letter. The Huffington Post reported the story in a completely straightforward manner with the post receiving over 2,500 comments mostly critical or outrightly hostile of Jane and her efforts. The Daily Kos has had both a front page story by Jed Lewison entitled Sheer Nonsense and at least one diary critical of the alliance. Oliver Willis accused Jane of "jumping the shark" adding that "no progressive should be locking arms" with Grover Norquist. Over at Jack and Jill Politics, they find that "Hamsher has crossed the line."

However, Jane's efforts have found support in the liberal progressive blogosphere including a diary on the Le Grand Orange. Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks finds that "on the substance, Jane Hamsher and Grover Norquist are right." Uygur believes that the left has to hold Obama's centrist feet to the fire and that "somebody has to throw some punches and in steps Jane Hamsher with a two by four and she just clocked Rahm Emanuel across the head" because a joint letter with Grover Norquist is bound to "get everybody's attention." Perhaps so but what they are largely talking about is the oddity of the Hamsher-Norquist alliance and not the merits of their charges. An exception is Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism who is supportive of Jane Hamsher's efforts. More importantly, Yves provides the relevant background that speaks to the merits of the joint Hamsher-Norquist letter. Yves, as always, is well worth the read. Her conclusion is particularly noteworthy:

I [sic] addition to his role as White House Chief of Staff, Mr. Emanuel is heavily involved in decisions made by the Treasury Department . The Wall Street Journal reported in May that "Rahm wants it" has become an unofficial mantra in the Department. It is therefore of grave concern that the New York Times reports the Treasury is negotiating to increase their commitment to Fannie and Freddie, in the absence of independent oversight: "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy and resell mortgages, have used $112 billion -- including $15 billion for Fannie in November -- of a total $400 billion pledge from the Treasury. Now, according to people close to the talks, officials are discussing the possibility of increasing that commitment, possibly to $400 billion for each company, by year-end, after which the Treasury would need Congressional approval to extend it. Company and government officials declined to comment."

Still my conscience dictates that I bring up one additional point for as much as Jane Hamsher wants to connect the Freddie Mac dots to Rahm Emanuel it is as important to be informed of the full measure of Mr. Norquist's past associations. While Mr. Norquist is best known for his anti-government, anti-tax crusade as evidenced by his infamous quip: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." What isn't as well-known, or perhaps better put well-remembered, is his support for international terrorism. His support for Angola's UNITA rebels and Mozambique's RENAMO - both of which were allied with South Africa's apartheid regime - is not just morally reprehensible but criminal - Mr. Norquist was neck deep in plots to overthrow at least three legally constituted governments. This is, in my mind, what should disqualify Mr. Norquist from any podium.

From 1981 to 1985, Mr. Norquist was the front-man for Jonas Savambi, the leader of Angola's UNITA, in Washington serving as his unofficial ambassador and was instrumental in securing some $15 to $20 million annually in covert US military aid during the Reagan-Bush years and in tapping millions more from various conservative sources helping to prolong an unnecessary civil war. At least a portion of Mr. Norquist's wealth can be traced to fate of Africans who died in the blood diamond trade. It bears reminding that the Angolan Civil War claimed a half million lives and because these rebel movements made fertile use of land mines, they are still killing and maiming people to this day. Physicians Against Land Mines estimate that 1 in every 334 Angolans has lost an arm or a leg to landmine injury. The number of amputees in Angola is 70,000 - 8,000 of these are children under the age of fifteen. These children's prostheses have to be replaced every six months as they grow out of them. Most victims do not die: land mines are intended to maim, not kill, with the heavier consequences on cost of medical care and morale. Fewer than 7 percent of landmine victims in Angola die immediately, instead land mines beget a nation of amputees. Mr. Norquist's Angolan and Mozambican clients together laid over half of all land mines in Africa, land mines whose victims are 98 percent civilians. This is the legacy of Grover Norquist. It is regrettable that Jane Hamsher is either unaware or has overlooked Mr. Norquist's role in abetting a human tragedy and one that will continue for generations to come for land mines can lay dormant for decades. It is for this reason that I cannot sign the petition, notwithstanding its own merits. If you care to do so, you may do so here. My disagreement here is tactical, not on the merits.

I'll note that if the suggestion of a conspiracy inside the White House to prevent an investigation at Freddie Mac is even remotely true, then it is likely to throw the Obama Administration into disarray. It's clear why Grover Norquist would welcome such a development. Jane Hamsher is certainly within her rights to take a principled stand against Rahm Emanuel but I hope she also is cognizant that the repercussions of such extend far beyond Rahm Emanuel. Furthermore, I am beginning to suspect that dragging Obama leftwards is a quixotic quest though I agree with John Judis who last month noted that "Obama and the Democrats need active, unruly, and independent pressure from the left to combat Republican conservatives, intimidate Democratic fence-sitters, and persuade business that, if it doesn’t back Obama’s reforms, it could face much more radical measures." Active, unruly and independent is Jane Hamsher to a tee.

Knowing and appreciating Jane's fearlessness and tenacity, I suspect that we will learn more on this story especially given the Christmas Eve news dump by the Obama Administration to provide unlimited financial assistance to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The move allows the Treasury Department to exceed the current $400 billion cap on emergency aid without seeking permission from a bailout-weary Congress. The Geithner Treasury Department can continue to run the mortgage companies, which were seized last year, as arms of the government for the rest of President Obama's current term. Coupled with the fact that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac disclosed that they had received approval from their federal regulator to pay $42 million in Wall Street-style compensation packages to its top 12 executives for 2009, there is bound to be further outrage and a bleeding of support for the Obama Administration. While Jane is calling for Rahm's dismissal, I, among others, have been calling for Tim Geithner to be fired. Rahm serves the President, Geithner should be serving the American people and he is clearly not. At some point one does have to wonder about whether the Administration is evenly remotely aware of the mood of the country.

But Jane Hamsher's dalliance with Grover Norquist also allows me to cover a few points on a subject that I have been wanting to write on for sometime now - the enduring current of anti-statism in the United States. Grover Norquist has been, of course, one of the faces of that movement since 1970s. As such Grover Norquist is heir to a long tradition of anti-statism found in the United States. In 2008, Mr. Norquist published a book entitled Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives. The book is new but the sentiments run deeper. Since 1992, Mr. Norquist has headed a "Leave Us Alone" coalition that holding weekly breakfast meetings on Wednesdays at his offices on L Street. He describes this coalition in his book as:

The Reagan Republican party and conservative movement can best be understood as a coalition of individuals and groups that -- on the issue that brings them to politics -- want the federal government to leave them alone.

The "Leave Us Alone" coalition includes taxpayers who want the government to reduce the tax burden, property owners, farmers, and homeowners who want their property rights respected, gunowners who want the government to leave them and their guns alone, homeschoolers who wish to educate their own children as they see fit, traditional values conservatives who don't want the government throwing condoms at their children and making fun of their religious values.

The Leave Us Alone coalition also includes those Americans who serve in the military and police as they are the legitimate functions of government that protect Americans' right to be left alone by foreign aggressors or domestic criminals.

As I noted above, Grover Norquist has been expounding these views for quite some time. Back in 1997, he wrote this in USA Today:

The old Republican coalition of northerners, big business, farmers, and professionals has given way to a modern coalition of individuals and groups who share a common political goal: They all want to be left alone by the government.

This "Leave Us Alone" coalition is made up of taxpayers who oppose higher taxes and farmers and property owners who don't want the Federal government making their property useless by declaring it a wetland or endangered species habitat or by inventing some other regulation. The coalition also includes westerners who resent being treated as a colony and having their water and land rationed by eastern bureaucrats. The 17,000,000 small businessmen and women who fear taxes and overregulation, the self-employed attacked by regulations and labor laws written for General Motors in the 1940s, and gun owners who do not want their weapons stolen have joined as well. The "Leave Us Alone" coalition provides a haven as well for the 1,000,000 parents who educate their children at home and the 12% of parents who send their children to private schools.

During the Cold War, Americans who were concerned about the threat of Soviet imperialism were a strong part of the "Leave Us Alone" coalition. They wanted to be left alone from foreign aggression. Today, Americans with the same concern about predatory criminals are part of the coalition. They know that the Left's response to the Soviet Union -- that it wasn't hostile, wasn't a real threat, and behaved badly only because it was mistreated by the U.S. -- is also the Left's response to crime and criminals. They believe that the Left's solution to crime -- gun control -- mirrors its belief that unilateral arms control was the proper response to the Red Army.

The pro-family, traditional-values conservatives are an important part of the "Leave Us Alone" coalition. The so-called Religious Right did not organize in the wake-of the Supreme Court decision banning school prayer, or even after Roe v. Wade. The development of a national grassroots conservative activism grew out of a self-defensive response to threats from the Carter Administration to regulate Christian radio stations and remove the tax-exempt status of Christian private schools.

In political terms, the pro-family movement can be understood best as a parents' rights me members fight against government interference and spending (financed by their own tax dollars) that insults and attacks their values and their faith. Pro-family leaders support school choice and the right of parents to direct the education of their own children. They have led the battle to win a $500-per-child credit so that parents can have the resources to take care of their own families, rather than have their income laundered through Washington and returned in the form of day care centers, educational bureaucracy, and social engineering.

The good news for conservatives is that every part of this coalition is growing -- in numbers and political sophistication. While the National Rifle Association has 3,000,000 members and the Christian Coalition has 1,000,000, 20% of Americans, when polled, say they agree with the NRA and 19% identify with the Christian Coalition. More than 600,000 businesses are members of the National Federation of principle Independent Business, and every year more and more Americans strike out on their own in the marketplace.

Also important for the future is the fact that the "Leave Us Alone" coalition is built around a single political consistent with American history and tradition -- that government should be limited and the people free. As such, it is a "low maintenance" coalition. Conservative leaders can meet in a room, and the taxpayers can agree not to throw condoms at the children of Christians and orthodox Jews; the gun owners can agree not to raise everyone else's taxes; the Christians can agree not to steal anyone's guns; and they all can agree not to take anyone's property. Everyone in the coalition can agree to keep out of the pockets and faces of everyone else. United, they can turn to do battle with the Left. In America, unlike Europe, traditionalist and supporters of limited government are allies, since America's political tradition is one of ingrained distrust for centralized authority.

Much of the above is the ranting of a polemicist. For example, the left's solution to crime is not gun control and no serious voice on the left has ever advocated unilateral disarmament. But it is that last sentence on which I want to focus on because it is historically inaccurate. Really it is incomplete. Ingrained distrust for centralized authority is but one of the various competing political traditions in the United States with Mr. Norquist's brand being a subset of those traditions. There is no doubt that suspicion of centralized authority has deep roots in American history but as the historian Saul Cornell notes this distrust has most often been "counterbalanced by a remarkable faith in the abilities of state and local governments." So while many profess fears of the Federal government, they place much greater trust in state government largely due to the fact that it is easier to be a big fish in a small pond than a minnow in a great ocean. Localism is very often a component of limited government arguments dating back to the Founding Era.

Still, I have long found the "Leave Us Alone" phrasing curious because it is a variation of the first motto of Florida when it joined the Union in as a slave state. In fact, that motto "Let Us Alone" was put on the first suggested Florida state flag shown above. The flag was hoisted in Tallahassee by Governor William D. Moseley on March 3, 1845 when Florida became the 27th state. Though the "Let Us Alone" flag flew over Florida until 1861, it was never officially adopted by the Florida legislature because of a controversy surrounding the motto "Let Us Alone". On the one hand, Florida demonstrated its allegiance to the United States by placing the US flag in the canton but with the use of the motto a states’ rights and anti-Federalist symbolism in the design is clear.

More recently, "Let Us Alone" is the title of an article by Ayn Rand in 1964 in the Yale Political Magazine and in the Los Angeles Times. The "Let Us Alone" is effectively the rallying cry of the Objectivist creed. It is more likely that Grover Norquist's screed directly traces from Ayn Rand than from the ante-bellum South but in truth they are variants of a deep sentiment that runs through American political discourse even predating the Founding of the Republic.

In this regard, John Judis had a worthwhile read last month in The New Republic entitled Anti-Statism in America: Why Americans Love to Hate Government. He writes:

Americans’ skepticism about government dates at least from the Revolution. In The Liberal Tradition in America, published in 1955, political scientist Louis Hartz described the Americans of 1776 as “Lockean liberals.” He was using the term “liberal” in its classic connotation--more like today’s free-market conservative or libertarian. Americans, he perceived, envisaged the state as strictly limited to protecting property relations among equal producers. They saw strong government--which they identified with the British crown--as a threat to economic and political freedom. Government, in Thomas Paine’s words, was a “necessary evil.”

The first adherents to this Lockean liberalism were followers of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson--small farmers and (in Jackson’s case) urban workingmen who attacked the statism of the Federalist elite. But, after the Civil War, a rising business class invoked it against the political left, claiming that a policy of laissez-faire would best ensure a prosperous America. Lockean liberalism became free-market conservatism.

By the end of the nineteenth century, panics, crashes, yawning inequality, and other market failures provoked a challenge to this free-market conservatism; populists, socialists, progressives, and, later, liberals called for the state to curb the market. But, even during the high tides of liberal reform, free-market ideology held sway. In 1935, Americans overwhelmingly backed specific New Deal programs, but Gallup found them opposed to an increase in government regulation by 53 percent to 37 percent. In a pathbreaking 1967 book, The Political Beliefs of Americans, political scientists Lloyd Free and Hadley Cantril found that Americans suffer from a contradiction between “ideological conservatism” and “operational liberalism.” According to their analysis of surveys they had conducted, only 16 percent of Americans--with blacks and Jews leading the way--were ideologically and operationally liberal.

There are a number of converging factors that help explain why ideological conservatism has endured and so often bested operational liberalism. Lockean liberalism clearly benefited from its identification, in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, with rapid economic growth. Like the British of the early twentieth century who clung to the gold standard as the secret of their past glory, Americans clung to the myth of the unfettered free market. At the same time, there was never a strong statist tradition from which reformers could draw their precedents. Americans lacked not only a feudal absolutist past, but also a history of successful state capitalism: Liberals and progressives could only invoke European or Federalist precedents. The great progressive manifesto that advocated a strong state, Herbert Croly’s The Promise of American Life, appeared in 1909 and has been largely ignored ever since.

I find this largely on the mark, there are many deep divides among Americans but none perhaps greater than the tug between “ideological conservatism” and “operational liberalism.” Like many conservatives today, Grover Norquist can harken back to various competing tenets of the anti-Federalists of the early Republic. Saul Cornell finds that were nine over-riding critiques that appeared time and again in the writings of the anti-Federalists. These are:

Consolidation The Constitution abolishes the federal character of the Union and creates a single national government acting directly on the people. The states are robbed of important government functions. Since republican governments capable of sustaining liberty are possible only in small republics, consolidated government undermines both republicanism and liberty.

Artisocracy The Constitution undermines republican principles and promotes the development of aristocracy. Cabal and corruption are inevitable, given the absence of appropriate checks on the Senate and House. The Constitution lacks important safeguard such as annual elections and forced rotation in office. Without such measures, representation will cease to be accountable to the people. Control over the manner of election also need to be returned to the states. The absence of adequate separation of powers may also lead to collusion between the different branches of government, particularly regarding appointments and treaties.

Representation The Constitution fails to provide for adequate representation of the people in the popular branch of government. The Senate is also too far removed from the popular will.

Separation of Powers The Constitution blends the functions of the legislative and executive branches in a dangerous fashion. The provisions covering treaties, appointments, and impeachments are the most notable blend of functions.

Judicial Tyranny The Constitution creates a powerful judicial branch that threatens the integrity of the state courts. The broad jurisdiction of the courts over matters of fact and law is too extensive.

The Absence of a Bill of Rights (Civil Liberties) The Constitution omits a declaration of rights the essential personal liberties retained by the people, particular the rights of freedom of the press, freedom of conscience and trial by jury. (Note: this objection was largely overcome by the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution)

Taxes The Constitution grants extensive powers to tax, which may be used to oppress the people and further threaten the autonomy of the states by depriving them of the revenue necessary to govern.

Standing Army The Constitution neglects to prohibit standing armies during times of peace and threatens the integrity of the state militia.

Executive The extensive powers given to the president risk creating an elective monarchy.

The anti-Federalists were men like George Mason, Patrick Henry, Elbridge Gerry, Edmund Randolph, Thomas Greenleaf and many others who wrote under pseudonyms such as "Cato", "An Old Whig", "A Federal Farmer", and "A Plebian". Their writings are rich and diverse and in them both the modern left and the modern right can find much to point to support their assertions. For Norquist, he has more common ground with the anti-Federalists on subjects such as Consolidation, Civil Liberties, Judicial Tyranny, Taxes, and Executive Power. The other tenet of modern conservatism was not present in the debate of the 1780s and 1790s because it is largely a response to advancement of secular humanism. In this sense, that component of Mr. Norquist's conservative ideology is reactionary.

In his book and elsewhere, Norquist has long argued that the modern Republican party is a coalition of groups and tendencies created during the political life of Ronald Reagan, based on principle rather than region and history. According to Norquist, the new political movement that now controls much of the Republican party is one made up of Americans who simply wish to be left alone by their government. They are not asking the government for others' money, time, or attention. Rather, they want to be free to own a gun, homeschool their children, pray, invest their money, and control their own destiny. Apparently that right is not extended to those who chose to control their own fertility.

On the other hand, Grover Norquist did break with his party on both the Patriot Act and on FISA. In 2006, he said "If you interpret the Constitution's saying that the president is commander in chief to mean that the president can do anything he wants and can ignore the laws you don't have a constitution: you have a king," adding that "they're not trying to change the law; they're saying that they're above the law and in the case of the NSA wiretaps they break it." In this regard, he is at least consistent with many of the traditions of the anti-Federalists.

However in a more distant time, this "Leave Us Alone" mentality would have included the right to own slaves. In a more recent time, this would have included the right of the states to discriminate on the basis of race. That's part of the legacy to which Norquist is appealing. It is a leave us alone so we can do as we please with the definition of "do" including the right to harm and injure. I suspect it pointless to tell Mr. Norquist that the United States did experiment with limited government once. It was called the Articles of Confederation that governed the country from 1781 to 1789 and it was an abysmal failure.

Here's Grover Norquist in his own words on the "Leave Us Alone" Coalition from a presentation at the New America Foundation:

The full Grover Norquist talk can be listened to at FORA TV.

Tags: Angola, Anti-Federalism, conservativism, Grover Norquist, Jane Hamsher, Landmines, Mozambique, progressivism, US History (all tags)



Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

Republicans always fall back on "anti-statism" when the other party is in power.

In reality leaving citizens alone is a very left-wing view, so long as their is a social safety net and ordinary folk are not left to the mercy of the corporate world.

The right OTOH seeks to subvert the power of people (and by extension their government) to the corporations.

by vecky 2009-12-25 10:59PM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

OTOH = ???

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-25 11:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

On The Other Hand

Should be OtOH

by lojasmo 2009-12-26 02:00AM | 0 recs
caring about the mood of the people

i'm 65. if bo cared about the mood of the country or what we though he would be the first president to do so in my lifetime. not criticism, just a fact. breid

by breid1903 2009-12-26 02:17AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

One has to wonder how and Why Geitnher and Bernanke are retained? As for Emanuel.....if he is crooked, I wouldnt be surprised a bit....

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-12-26 05:17AM | 0 recs
Jane's message fail

Jane should realize when people spend more time discussing the messengers and not the message you might have a problem.

by jsfox 2009-12-26 05:28AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist
For me giving Grover Norquist any credibility is a bridge too far. The guy stinks to high heaven and I don't want any of his odor on our progressive causes. Over at the Daily Kos someone made the comment that even Alan Grayson allied himself with Ron Paul on auditing the Fed. I disagree with Ron Paul on a whole host of issues, but I do believe Ron Paul has principles, some wrong, but that's OK.
Grover Norquist is beyond the pale.
by phastphil 2009-12-26 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

Charles, your financial credibility is on the line.  Yves is not a him!

by Steve M 2009-12-26 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

I did not know that. Thanks.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-26 08:15AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

This whole thing is a bunch of smoke and mirrors. I work for the child abuse hotline and we don't take reports on smoke and mirrors, we need actual substance. I now the police and other law enforcement groups act the same way.

I even had a call yesterday where a woman was in a big feud with her neighbor and kept saying, "I think this is going on but I've never seen it." Needless to say, we did not open an investigation on someone's rumors.

I agree with those who say Jane (and others who follow her) has jumped the shark and I fail to see how attacking Rahm is going to help progressive politics. Like others, I have noted an oddly right wing storyline behind all these claims. Obama, a black man, is merely the figurehead for Rahm, a Jewish man, who is pulling the strings.

I actually gave some money to FDL a few months ago to fight for health care. I want my money back.

by Lolis 2009-12-26 06:32AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

Thats a disgusting conclusion.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-26 07:25AM | 0 recs
Re: oh god

Are you denying the storyline she is promoting?

I never said she is racist, but is she playing up these very negative stereotypes, yes.

In my opinion, Jane is throwing out whatever she thinks will stick, and get her the most attention. Funny how her focus seems to shift daily, first it was Joe Lieberman's wife, next it was Bernie Sanders, now it is Rahm. It is about as immature as Sarah Palin who changes what the "conspiracy" is daily on health care, US coins, whatever it is she wants.

by Lolis 2009-12-26 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: oh god

You are talking out of both sides of your mouth:

"I never said she is racist, but is she playing up these very negative stereotypes, yes."

You didn't say it, but in the same sentence you imply it. Your use of racism here to avoid the issue being discussed is deeply offensive.

by bruh3 2009-12-26 12:39PM | 0 recs
This should make investigating Bush easier

We should use any call for a criminal investigation of any Democrat as an opportunity to remind Americans of Bush's lies about Iraq, and call for that investigation.

Imanuel's alleged improprieties pale in comparison with Bush's killing over 4,000 American soldiers and over a million Iraqis in order to secure his re-election in 2004.

Let's tackle such gross crimes against humanity before we go after relatively minor indiscretions.

by Georgeo57 2009-12-26 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: This should make investigating Bush easier

Didn't Jane and Grover sign a joint letter to the AG demanding an investigation into Bush admin crimes?

No? LOLZ...

by vecky 2009-12-26 08:53AM | 0 recs
One more "left alone desire"

is the one to be able to environmentally destroy one's "private property."

The rise of conglomerate incorporation was not foreseen within "Cabal and corruption are inevitable, given the absence of appropriate checks ..." Today that would be a blind-spot but back then there was nothing to see even if one turned one's head.

by Jeff Wegerson 2009-12-26 07:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

The alliance is nothing but a PR move, and on that score-- looks pretty successful. Its the substance of the matter that will be the issue going forward, and this just puts it on the radar. That DailyKos post was really weak, in that it was nothing but personal vindictive (which is utterly boring) and nothing to the substance of the claim (which I have no idea about yet); and the comments were rants of partisan brats that didn't enjoy getting their rocks and coal for christmas. Jeffrey Feldman had a good take there though, largely in line with mine; otherwise, just a bunch of noise.

Anyway, that's very interesting that the financial blogs are picking up on the story. A lot of growth in that renegade blogosphere this year.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-26 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

That's really the big score.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-26 08:16AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

Yes, financial sites like Naked Capitalism are growing more interesting, but that's in part because other older sites have been lacking.

Over the last year many of the older sites I have frequented have been going down hill. Outside of the financial blogs, I find myself gravitating towards Glenn Greenwald's articles as well because he backs everything he says up and is equal opportunity without regard to Democrat or Republican in his analysis for pinpointing the systemic problems the country faces with both parties. This is something that few are doing right now. Instead, they seem lost in battles over personalities. While Glenn's latest work typifies the deeper stories:

"Reason Editor suggests his own magazine is lying" greenwald/2009/12/24/reason/index.html

At base, an article about the  bullshit factor in politics on both sides. This comes with a great comments section that actually debates the substance of the article. I am hard pressed to find that elsewhere. Or articles  like this one where he links in the article to multiple examples to prove his point rather than just assert a position (something very typical of his articles and others should emulate):

"Healthcare industry stocks explode as bill progresses"

"That said, I've been fairly repulsed by the 2003-like swarming, bullying efforts of the President's loyal supporters (both in the White House and from Beltway journalists and their partially cloned liberal bloggers) not merely to dispute, but to demonize and personally discredit, the bill's progressive critics as insane, crazy, childish, idiotic and drugged-out, Naderite, purist liars who -- we now learn today -- are the equivalent of "global warming denialists." Whatever else is true, progressive opponents of the Senate bill (virtually all of whom offer strategic arguments for improving it, not for preserving the status quo), have been making well-informed and substantive critiques.  I don't want to overstate this:  there has been some very responsible and informative debate among these various factions, the insults have flown in both directions, and it's understandable that passions run high on an issue of this significance among adversaries, particularly as the process mercifully draws to a close.  Still, it seems clear that campaigns by White House loyalists in government and the media to destroy the personal credibility and malign the character of the President's critics -- and to depict "the Left" as shrill, unSerious losers -- obviously aren't confined to the Bush years or to Bush supporters.

But whatever else one might want to say in favor of this health care bill -- and there are compelling arguments to make in its favor -- the notion that Democrats have "stood up to the special interests who prevented reform for decades" is too blatantly false, insultingly so, to tolerate.  As even the bill's most vocal supporters acknowledge, the White House's strategy from the start was to negotiate in secret with those very special interests in order to craft a bill that they liked and that benefits them.  If one wants to invoke the Obama-era religious mantra of "pragmatism" to argue that this was a shrewd strategic decision necessary for getting a bill passed, that at least is coherent (though not, in my view, persuasive).  But this bill is unquestionably one of the greatest boons in recent history for the private health insurance industry and other "special interests" that have long been opposing "reform." It's a major advancement for the corporatist model on which both parties rely.  It should lead a rational person to want to buy large amounts of stock in Goldman Sachs and Citigroup in anticipation of the upcoming "reform" of that industry.  Whatever this bill is, "standing up to special interests" is not it; quite the opposite." greenwald/2009/12/22/health_care/index.h tml

I simply think these sites are taking blogging to a level that purely partisan blogs can not.

by bruh3 2009-12-26 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

Good point, on that last note. Partisanship does seem to be getting in the way with regards to seeing the financial crap on display.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-26 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

While partisan blinders are present in financial issues, partisanship is not limited to those issues.  You can see this issue at play in the health care debate, journalistic standards, progressive acceptance of what progressives in Congress are doing, Afghanistan, and multiple other issues where people are defending the group or person rather than analyzing or adding substantively to understanding problems and the solutions. Here's my gut check: Would an argument fly if it were being made by the GOP, Bush, Buy loyalists or his enablers?

If not, why is it suddenly valid now. I see a lot of hypocritical behavior right now. I expect that from politicians. Not from blogs. Blogs need to decide whether they are a wholly own subsidiary of the Democratic Party or an independent voice for democracy and change. They can not be both.

by bruh3 2009-12-26 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

Follow up post:

I linked to the second article for another reason: That what is happening to Jane Hamsher is becoming typical online at sites like Daily Kos: At first I thought this was something unique or small to some of the posters that frequent your blog (personality attacks), but at this point it seems fairly wide spread: If you can not discuss the substance, demonize the messenger or activist or whoever it is. I skimmed a diary last night where desmoinesdem attempted at Daily Kos to debate those seeking to demonize. The fact is, if this were just online, it would not matter, but there seems to be this strain in the White House as well.

by bruh3 2009-12-26 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

As sites like Daily Kos's falls further down the rabbit hole of a centrist authoritarian personality cult, I am concerned about the ethical issues that may be involved here. I need to know more, and will try to learn it. But on surface, ethics are a big issue.

Like with Bush official, the standard seems to be a legal one: Did X violate the law? That's absolutely important, and need to be examined.

However, the ethical standard here are extremely problematic.  I am not a part of the Church of the Savvy. I believe ethics should still matter. Even if he did not violate the law, Rahm should not be involved in any policy making regarding these two organizations given his recent fiduciary duties to them. Yes, on the surface, it sounds like he is.

Even if he is proven legally within the bounds of the law, this should disturb you.

by bruh3 2009-12-26 08:05AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

It is disturbing, you are right about that. However, I am not sure it is possible for someone with the position of Chief of Staff to recuse themselves from any decisions the Administration has to make. I think that would create a standard of purity (not a word I am using in the snarky sense here,) that would be impossible for any administration to actually uphold.

However, if he did break the law he should be removed...and I am beginning to wonder if he should be anyway. I liked the choice for COS when it was first made, but I feel less and less comfortable with it as time has gone on.

As an aside, phrases like "Centrist Authoritarian Personality Cult," can make it difficult to engage in productive conversation. I feel like one of the problems here, and it has been embodied in our past conversations, is that those who are not particularly enamored with Obama or the administration need to be able to acknowledge that there are real reasons for being supportive of the administration other than "YOU DRANK THE KOOL AID!!!111!!!..." And those of us who do feel that the administration is mostly on the right track have to be able to acknowledge that there are very real concerns and problems worth discussing with those who feel distrustful of the administration rather than just assuming it is a carry over from the primaries, or some other distaste that has nothing to do with actual policy.

by JDF 2009-12-26 08:38AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

I am discussing ideas that are in the mainstream of political science thought such as "authoritarian personality." This concept has been around for decades, and has little if anything to do with a particular politician. The only interesting part of it now is that I am associating it with centrism, whereas before the question was whether it was a right only or both right and left concept. I am arguing that the F Scale appears to apply to any group for whom these tendencies can occur. If you are unfamiliar with the ideas, read this: an_personality

"These traits are conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception [a lack of skepticism], superstition and stereotypy, power and "toughness," destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sexuality.

Some are clearly not the case- ie, sexuality, but many of the others are.  They are clearly present in the daily kos diaries and in some of the White House's response to criticism such as questioning the sanity (if I am remembering correctly) of Dr. Dean merely because he disagreed with them. You can also check the Glenn Greenwald link above in which he covers the issue of demonnizing others in more detail.

I think right now this is only a strain in the WH rather than the only strain, but it is is there.

by bruh3 2009-12-26 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

Is "authoritarian personality cult" well within the mainstream of political science thought?

by lojasmo 2009-12-26 10:03AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

You take what is a literary license by me in the first post, and ignore the subsequent clarification in the second to attack me. Thus, perfectly illustrating what I am mean.

When I speak of the authoritarian personality, I mean that same type of Bush loyalist. You are seeking out the "enemy" rather than asking what I mean.

I mean support like Daily Kos earlier in the week where multiple recommended diaries said =that President Obama did not favor the public option, but a few weeks before the same recommenders had written the exact opposite. I mean where poster takes a phrase that has sense been clarified to continue to ignore meaning because it serves a purpose other than understanding one another to do so.

I have now made myself clear with 3 posts. Until you are willing to address what I am saying rather than feeling the need to engage in distortion, there is little else to be said.

by bruh3 2009-12-26 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

It was not an attack.

What you did was to divert attention from your framing of "authoritarian personality" with "Cult" when you were called on your framing, you dropped "cult" and defended your use of "authoriatian persaonality" (which doesn't really even apply) and used a wikipedia page to do so, no less.


by lojasmo 2009-12-26 11:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The Historical Antecedents of Grover Norquist

Yes, I "diverted" attention by linking to what lead me to use the specific phrase "authoritarian personality" because I used a literary license by adding cult. And what you are doing is really trying to engage the concept of authoritarian personality by changing the subject to how you did not like the literary license. Trust me, I get folks like you now. I had not remembered the ideas behind authoritarian personalities until recently because I had not associated with Centrism or the left. You will write post after post each time trying to find what you want to find, and not once discussing how one can say be for releasing the torturer photos when the President is for it, and against it when it is against it. Or, how one can say weeks before hand that the president was always for the public option, and then argue weeks later the complete opposite. There is no signs of an authoritarian personality there because it is vital to understand that I used the word "cult." Nothing at all authoritarian in the word play by you here.

by bruh3 2009-12-26 11:25AM | 0 recs
Do you realize how disturbing this is?

You will write post after post each time trying to find what you want to find, and not once discussing how one can say be for releasing the torturer photos when the President is for it, and against it when it is against it. Or, how one can say weeks before hand that the president was always for the public option, and then argue weeks later the complete opposite.
Did the OP say hoe was for/against torture photos?

Did the OP say Obama was for/against the public option?

You are putting words in peoples' mouths to try and prove a point.

You seem to be very far behind in putting your money where your mouth is. Do you have the quotes to prove these attacks?

The only person here acting authoritarian is you.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-26 08:31PM | 0 recs
To the bruh, any challenge is a personal attack

I challenged the bruh to find an instance on this web site where he was tolerant of another's dissenting point of view, in particular (but not necessarily) one that cast the President responded that he could find instances of me attacking other users, using this screen name, on other sites, who dared disagree with President Obama. I challenged him to profer this evidence, and of course, he has not been able to do so.

I worked for the Obama Presidential campaign since the very beginning, and while I read Daily Kos, it wasn't appropriate for me to contribute. Once things settled down this fall, I simultaneously created user names there and here. I had heard the discussion here is more interesting due to a greater diversity of viewpoints.

But back to the bruh's reference bout Markos's site:

"...As sites like Daily Kos's falls further down the rabbit hole of a centrist authoritarian personality cult,..."
So just as I am an Obama brownshirt for daring to disagree with the bruh in my support for Barack Obama, the preeminent progressive blog cannot be offering support for the President, however tepid and partial, without having succumbed to cult influences; Obama apparently being such a repulsive figure.

The ten word reference, above, not only explicitly mentions one of the most damaging of human institutions, cults, but laces it with an Alice in Wonderland reference co-opted by drug users to reference hallucinogenesis, degrading any person who disagrees with him as simply being under the influence of narcotics. Not satisfied yet, the bruh tosses in the psychological theory of authoritarian personality.

The bruh attempts to back up his typical vebosity, but from someone who actually is a scientist and does have a limited background in psychology, I can tell you the bruh is completely full of s*** on the psychological reference.

To put his money where his mouth is, which the bruh never really can do, he would have to apply the psychological test to not only Presidents from the past Century, but other world leaders to draw any conclusion about President Obama. But the bruh can't do this on his own.

I am sure this latest challenge will be met with another personal attack. As I tried to tell him, poking holes in your theories isn't an attack, but he doesn't listen.

"As an aside, phrases like "Centrist Authoritarian Personality Cult," can make it difficult to engage in productive conversation..."
And thus, I think you are missing the point. The bruh hasn't shown that he is eager and able to engage in productive conversation and debate with those who think differently than he, like so many others. I love certain bloggers here at MyDD simply because I occasionally disagree with them. If I wanted an echo chamber, I would head back to the Obama campaign sites.

But I would be happy for the bruh to prove me wrong.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-26 12:49PM | 0 recs
It is funny to read

your post now that I have a centralizing idea of from where the psychology derives. It took me several months of interaction because it is new to see the authoritarian personality in what is outwardly supposed to be centrism.

Meanwhile, what goes unanswered by you is how a) a few weeks ago Obama was the master planner who always supported the public option and now it depends on what "campaign" means or b) how  it was right to release the torturer photos when Obama said it was right and wrong when he said it was wrong and on and on other issues. I don't expect you to answer. I expect you to say things like how it is liberals fault, and blah, blah, blah. The problem is you don't even belief half the shit you are saying. You are just bullshitting.  So, I am certainly not going to spend a lot of time going through all of it.

While you can not respond to specific contra positions that you hold as a group, you do manage to go on for multiple parapraphs about me, or Tabibi,  Ceyur or desmoinesdem, the later of whom was attacked at Daily Kos as she says for the following:

"they were equally bad (4.00 / 1)
Just the other day askew accused me of having a professional relationship with Jane Hamsher or FDL (which I do not have), just because I didn't support the stampede to make her the enemy. Kind of like the way askew used to accuse me of being a Hillary shill because I criticized Obama (even though I spent many hours urging Iowans not to caucus for Hillary).

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.
by: desmoinesdem @ Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 10:07:16 AM CST
[ Parent ]"

And I read you personally attack someone:

"] Calm down and double the dosage (2.00 / 1)

Forget the drink.

With all your ranting and raving, you're probably keeping your fellow halfway house residents awake.

by NoFortunateSon on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 10:43:03 PM EST
[ Parent | Reply to This |   ]"

Or this, in response to my statement over Feingold saying that Obama did not fight for the PO:

"Ooh! a logical disconnect from the bruh! (2.00 / 1)

I'll take this one.

First, try reading the entire story instead of just the misleading headlines from Ms. Huff 'n Puff Arianna.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) formally announced on Sunday that he would support the Senate's final version of health care reform. But in doing so he cast blame for the loss of a public option for insurance coverage partially on the president's shoulders.
Did the President cease to support it because he knew he couldn't achieve it? Or was it not achieved because the President didn't support it?

You, of course, believe the latter, but there is a great logical disconnect in causality in doing so. You must assume that Joe Lieberman's (and other's) votes were obtainable all along, yet you have no such evidence.

It's so much easier to blame the Rahm Emanuel bogeyman (ooo!) than accept responsibility ourselves that lack of tangible effort by the progressive movement failed to provide political cover for the heavy lift.

by NoFortunateSon on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 02:12:10 AM EST
[ Parent | Reply to This |   ]

Re: Ooh! a logical disconnect from the bruh! (none / 0)

I hope the President does not feel too let down by all of us.

by Steve M on Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 02:25:56 AM EST
[ Parent | Reply to This |   ]"

You may as well have written "He's a good Christian man."

Ironically enough, this diary is about some potential unethical at best behavior on Rahm's part.

And, that's why this can never be about any of the behaviors that any of you or the rest of the authoritarian personalities ever do. It is Bush supporters, the sequel. With him and his cohorts, no one could ever really work through logically or factually what was happening due to the bullshit artists.

 You choose a different leader and party, but the same behavior that was so self destructive in 2003 has returned with new players.

Meanwhile your critiques are based on labeling those who dissent as deviant:

"David Axelrod: Left 'insane' to sink health bill" 9/30728.html

"Nate Silver Calls Progressives "Batshit Crazy"; Readers Turn the Table" 09/12/nate-silver-calls-progressives-bat shit.html

Or "Childish" 16/the-left-blogosphere-melts-down/

Or "CNBC's John Harwood tells liberals to `lay off the hallucinogenic drugs." ood-drugs/

Or on and on- Calling those who disagree with you "liars" ein/2009/12/jane_hamshers_10_reaons_to_k il.html

Several of these phrases, I have heard here by you and others in attempts that you make to describe others. The funny thing is that the talking points are too consistent and that's the evidence of the authoritarian personality. Lease you say it, I challenge you to point out a large number of people specifically using the phrase "authoritarian personality"

The noted political philosopher Michel Foucault described this technique of the powerful in society as trying to  define dissent as  deviant.

Even as you label me as using ad honinems, your avoid answering  the question of the logical or factual inconsistencies of your positions.  I honestly do not expect you to answer the actual arguments against you. It is easier to throw out a label, and hope no one notices what's behind the curtains.

It's a good strategy. For the short term because you can avoid the questions I ask about the inconsistencies and distortions. The question is how long can you keep doing this shtick?

by bruh3 2009-12-26 04:07PM | 0 recs
Explain to me how _you_ not 'authoritarian'?

For the record, I will answer any questions you pose. You can start after answering how you, yourself, are not authoritarian.

Of course, you seem to have me confused with a larger group of people:

While you can not respond to specific contra positions that you hold as a group, you do manage to go on for multiple parapraphs [sic.] about me, or Tabibi, Ceyur or desmoinesdem, the later of whom was attacked at Daily Kos as she says for the following:

Meanwhile your critiques are based on labeling those who dissent as deviant:...

Because desmoinesdem was attacked at Daily Kos, it's my fault? And how am I responsible for what David Axelrod, Nate Silver, and John Harwood say? For the record, I never read any of those articles, but is it at least possible that Nate Silver is right? That killing the health care bill is "batshit crazy"? For the record, I do not agree with Nate Silver.

You began this thread with an ad hominem attack, laying down the sweeping generalization that Daily Kos is a "centrist authoritarian personality cult". One needs to lead a very insulated life to not understand how dangerous and damaging true cults are.

You then followed up the ad hominem attack by conflating me and my beliefs with those of other, independent figures. Where have we seen that before in history? So explain to me how you are not behaving in an authoritarian manner?

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-26 08:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Explain to me how _you_ not 'authoritarian'?

Because you share the same mindset of focusing on personalities, you are part of the problem rather than the solution. It is irrelevant whether you personally attacked her or not. You have engaged in similar attacks for similar reasons as those who attacked her. The authoritarian part is why you are doing the attacks.

by bruh3 2009-12-27 11:18AM | 0 recs
Grover Norquist

Leave it to Grover Norquist:

"I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."
I was aware of this reference. To me, Norquist's words symbolize the efforts started under Regan three decades prior that has led to the ruin we see today. Contrast this with Obama's acknowledgement:
"Government has a [constructive] role to play.+"

* * *

I am an optimist, and in all this Kill the Bill hubub, I can see the growing pains of the progressive community in their transition from Obama supporters to Obama movers (to the left).

But the silver lining to this cloud is that clearly the progressive community has a long, long way to go towards being able to effect real change in the White House. Jane Hamsher, already noted for being a self promoter, was hoisted on her own petard twice now in her efforts to help shape the health care debate; first when Bill Clinton slammed her Arkansas health clinic as politicized, and second in the preponderance of negative reactions to her joining forces with the truly dark side -- the enemy of your enemy isn't always your friend. Not to mention her threat against Bernie Sanders which went over like a lead balloon and the petition against Hasadah Lieberman.

I've referred to us as having been Dean Screamed twice now, the second time with health care reform. Every time a Kill Bill voice speaks up, they are big footed by even the most liberal of politicians and other notables. Take Howard Dean's flip flop, for example. I think the progressive community hs a long way to go in truly shaping their message and strategy, for otherwise, the Arianna Huffingtons will be our voice.

+ The quote is given multiple times by Obama, once without the word "constructive".

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-26 01:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Grover Norquist

It wasn't Jane who wrote the post threatening Bernie Sanders and questioning his "progressive credentials". It was Brian Sonnenstein from Green Mountain. It was on the front page but I don't think that front-pagers necessarily speak for Jane. Granted I think FDL is tighter ideologically speaking than we are here or even the Daily Kos.

Still the attack on Bernie drew responses from their readership and from others. How does one improve on Bernie Sanders? It's stunning in its myopia. It certainly took me aback.

There has been a ratcheting up of rhetoric from FDL which is a double-edge sword if you ask me. On the one hand, it gets attention, on the other it's  not necessarily all good. Plus there seems to be this view emerging that Jane speaks for the left as a whole which just isn't true.

I also get the sense that the progressive left which isn't exactly the most unified of political forces to begin with is at a juncture unsure of how to evaluate an increasingly disappointing Presidency. Some are in more or less in open revolt, others are hoping to prod the Administration to the left but perhaps unsure how and others seem satisfied believing we are on course towards some progressive heaven.

Definitely 2010 is going to be interesting. More so than 2009.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-26 02:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Grover Norquist

The thesis at FDL is to move beyond personalities, ideology and partisan frames into a space involving interest aligned politics. I didn't read the article, but I am guessing this is what motivated the writer due to the thesis of the site. Namely, it does not matter if someone is Bernie Sanders or he labels himself socialist or whatever other short hands that have traditionally been used by progressives. It matters if you can apply pressure on actors (whoever they are) to achieve the interest that you have in mind. This seems to be something that is completely alien to many bloggers. I don't agree with all of their moves, but it is a consistent, and necessary position to be taking.

This diary on Corporatism discusses a deeper point that Hamsher and Greenwald are attempting to redirect the debate: 2/26/819341/-Corporatism

It is like my attempts to explain a few months ago about neoliberalism and neoconservatism as ideologies, and how they are different in many ways, but as ideology they produce similar effects:

"Neoliberalism and neoconservatism are two distinct political rationalities in the contemporary United States. They have few overlapping formal characteristics, and even appear contradictory in many respects. Yet they converge not only in the current presidential administration but also in their de-democratizing effects. Their respective devaluation of political liberty, equality, substantive citizenship, and the rule of law in favor of governance according to market criteria on the one side, and valorization of state power for putatively moral ends on the other, undermines both the culture and institutions of constitutional democracy. Above all, the two rationalities work symbiotically to produce a subject relatively indifferent to veracity and accountability in government and to political freedom and equality among the citizenry." act/34/6/690

This argument dovetailing nicely into the view that it was Clinton's neoliberalism that led to Bush's neoconservatism. But this requires pulling back the curtains as the Corporatism diary above attempts to do to understand what drives our circumstances without regard to party, people or ideology.

by bruh3 2009-12-26 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Grover Norquist

Maybe you could care to explain how aligning one's self with Norquist achieves any of those ends. The truth is it does not.

Many of us on the progressive left have moved beyond ideology and pure philosophical dreaming to developing the same into policy. The result of those have been actors like Sanders, Feingold, Franken, et al. This is not a movement that should be consigned to perpetual opposition. Their comes a moment when we have to move forward and show results.

by vecky 2009-12-26 09:01PM | 0 recs
Political nihilism is intellectually lazy

I agree. One cannot simply stand in opposition to anything and everything. To do so requires very little intellectual effort, as evidenced by the progressive left's growing pains now that George Bush is no longer in power.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-26 09:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Political nihilism is intellectually lazy

You continue to be completely clueless about the arguments of others. It is like when you try to project your personality based political views onto my argument not realizing that I don't give a shit about Obama, CLinton or whoever else might have occupied the office of president. My concern like those who see as I do is about changing the rules so that the results that you two are speak ing of can favor the American people. Right now, they do not. Anyone who believes for example that the industry writing the language of these bills will favor the American people is deluding him or herself. those are still results, but they are not results that reflect the interest of the public. So you got something done,but you didn't do it for the American public. Congrats.

by bruh3 2009-12-27 11:17AM | 0 recs
How are you going to change the system?

This is not snark or sarcasm. You have written something I am very interested in.

How are you going to change the system, and what specific, achievable results do you desire?

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-27 12:05PM | 0 recs
Re: How are you going to change the system?

The first step to changing anything is recognizing what the problem is. If you don't get, for example, that a bill written by the health insurance lobby or deals with big pharma are not results that matters, then the first step is to get you to the point of understanding why it is not a result that matters to the public. Noting else changes before that because it is really just illusion so long as the leadership allows this to occur for whatever reasons they allow it to occur. This comment is something I recently said to Chris Bowers who became angry because I pointed out that progressives in Congress are to blame for this bill as much as Obama and the conservaDems are. So I am equal opportunity in my distain for DC politics. I consider progressive congress members as enablers. So, you ask me what are my solutions? The first one is to decide if you are here to enable DC or enable things that help the American public.

If you want the illusion of change, continue to deal with the Democrats because they are perfectly happy in their version of Brave New World to manipulate your desires just as the GOP is good at manipulating fear in a George Orwell fashion. The result however is not one that favors you.  You are not going to cure a patient who is dying of liver cancer by thinking it is brain cancer. You have to diagnose and address the problem head on.

If someone bullshits me talking about the public option as "left of the left" when I know it is meant to address the underlying issue of a monopoly/oligopoly situation (concepts that have been understood as bad since Teddy Roosovelt), the only step I got as a citizen is to call them on it because what they are doing is against the interest of a) what public wants and b) pragmatically what will address the problem. When someone writes a regulation saying it will ban pre-existing conditions but a) the language is the same that the industry is getting around now at the state level and b) there are no enforcement provisions, then the first act is to call them on it.

Ultimately, the problem here is that you are asking me to do what our leadership fails to do. My job is to hold them accountable. Not understand their position.

If that answer is not sufficient, then you are not fully appreciating the roles we play in our society. The solutions are clear. The problem is that our system is gamed with people who wish to manipulate us into avoiding those solutiosn whether through branding like Obama does, taking options off the table like reconciliation like Reid did or enabling the process by refusing to filibuster from the left as Feingold did. They are all complit in what we see. The first step is to address how they are part of the problem regarding reaching  American people's underlying interest. No where down the line do I attempt to venerate them or hold them up as paragons. I am thinking of what the interests are, and how I am one citizen can hold them accountable. The best I can do as a single citizen who has not manipulated or enabled my way into power is to state what is happening, and ask others to not buy into the bullshit now spinning out of DC. If you choose not to listen, then nothing changes.

by bruh3 2009-12-27 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Grover Norquist

I am not sure this alliance will work to be honest, but I applaud her innovation of ideas of thinking outside of the box by taking the risk.

My point is that I understand what she is getting at and the risk she is taking, an I can understand why those who are based in mostly partisan and personality based politics would totally not get her thesis.These same people can barely understand ideological arguments. Asking them to go a step further to go even beyond ideology is outside of their world view.

Many of you have not moved beyond party and personality. It is your sole reason for posting here. If you did, you would advocate half the shit you do that is out of step with the American people. You delude yourselves like Fortunate Son does into believing he is here for some greater good outside ofbeing an Obama supporter. Nothing in your behavior suggests you are beyond personality politics.

Right now, in another diary, these two posters are going back and fortha bout whether Clinton or obama wsould be better. I find them both to be idiotic. It is irrelevant because the issues we face are not about personalities. Whether it would have been Edwards, CLinton or Obama the issues and addressing creeping corporatism are something that needs to be addressed. Either those figures will help or hurt uswith those interests, and if you are interest based  in your view of politics, then you are going to look at their actions accordingly.

You are not showing results that matter. You are confusing image with results. Like when people tell me Obama made some speech with my evidence of what others are saying Obama is doing behind the scenes on the public option. Or, the suggestion the other day that the progressives will fight in the House when the evidence showed they were just speaking in double talk or Reid claiming to be for the public option, but taking reconciliaion off the table. All of these examples are show rather than results. If you need a practical way to understand this- think of this analogy: There is a drug trial. The drug shows results too. The problem is that the drug does not cure the disease. It merely covers up the symptoms so that the patient feels better. In this way, you can make an illness worse by ignorin the underlying disease while masking the symptoms.

by bruh3 2009-12-27 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Grover Norquist

(first, let me apologize for tripping on my own metaphor. I meant to say "the cloud to the silver lining".)

There is a little known story from the 60's that took place at Cornell University. In 1969, a band of armed African Americans sieged control of an academic building to protest institutionalized racism at the University. The Willard Straight takeover did make its way into Spiro Agnew speeches against University culture, but I would bet most have never heard of it. Yet so aghast was Cornell alumnus John M. Olin, that he dedicated the Olin foundation to "making sure something like this never happened again". I have to paraphrase there, because I cannot recall the actual quote. But when all was said and done, the Olin foundation disbursed over $370 million, primarily to conservative think tanks, media outlets, and law programs at influential universities.

I am not one to go bandying about with single blogger entries, but I must say that No One Is Going To Save You Fools by Daily Kos blogger thereisnospoon is essential reading for the troubles facing the progressive left, in my opinion.

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As you note, it is the nature of the left to be disorganized, decentralized, and antiauthoritarian (in the true sense). Previously, this was a drawback. If being on the right has any benefits, fascism makes for easier grass roots organization (that's a joke). But come the new millenium and new medium, and the progressive left was beginning to get its act together and truly effect change through a variety of new outlets. Being disorganized made us impervious to conservative attack. Attack one source, and the others will simply pick up. Previously, the progressive left was tasked with one simple function:

1. Elect democrats.

Now, the progressive left has a much more difficult task.

1. Defend democrats in power from Republican attacks.
2. Elect democrats.

The beauty of our political system is that it makes holding on to power increasingly difficult. And by being anti-authoritarian, it is in our own nature to turn on those in power moreso than the Republicans.

So I see all these progressive personalities bursting into existence and then spectacularly flaming out as a sign of the far left trying to find its voice in power. Just because we haven't succeeded to date doesn't mean that we won't succeed.

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But our challenge, in my opinion, is far greater than just learning how to hold on to power and move the President to the left. I agree that many aspects of the Presidency have been disappointing from a progressive point of view, although I felt such was inevitable even during the campaign, as reality had to crash with the fantasy. And thus here is where Jane Hamsher and John M. Olin have a connection (no, they're not truly connected).

The surge of conservatism during the past three decades was possible not just because conservative activists were better organized. As a case in point, look at how abortion politics has been swayed over the years to the point where Row v. Wade has been whittled away and is darn near close to being overturned, while in contrast, progressive have yet to adopt Buckley v. Valeo as our rallying cry. No, the surge was possible because as thereisnospoon points out, hugely powerful conservative interests were helping the message. I think the Jane Hamsher and the Kill the Bill movement hullabaloo represents the Sophie's choice of progressives: attack the Administration for not being sufficiently progressive and risk handing control of the government to republicans, or, settle for a suboptimal outcome. We need help, but we're not going to get it. We have to figure this out on our own.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-26 09:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Grover Norquist

I never knew that John M. Olin was a Cornell alumnus. There are a number of individuals who led the right's recharge and Olin's money was critical. Bill Simon, Nixon's Treasury Secretary, worked with Olin to fund the right.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-27 07:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher is using words in attempting to accomplish something she believes to be helpful to the people of this country.

You do the same thing yourself, all the time. Admittedly, you don't know the eventual result of Jane's efforts, nor can we ever really determine the influence of her words (or yours) on future events.

I think that detailed and prominent criticism of another's positive efforts (that is, attempts to accomplish an aim) is rarely justified, even when intellectually sound. There are reasons for and against almost everything.

Our positive efforts, however small, add up to something larger. Be positive.

by dougkahn 2009-12-27 04:02PM | 0 recs
What's the point?

It looks to me like we have entirely taken our eye off the ball here.

Does it really matter whether we like Jane Hamsher or not?  Do we really need to ally with Grover Norquist to achieve something we couldn't have done otherwise?

Something really stinks about the whole alliance, and we all seem to get that, but we remain hung up on the personalities.  We're not taking the necessary next step.

The real issue is whether something illegal was done to prevent a federal investigation into the finances of a federal mortgage guarantor.  This entire conversation about Jane vs. Grover vs. Rahm has not moved us one step closer to that.

And it occurs to me that there are people who want it that way.

by gas28man 2009-12-27 04:42PM | 0 recs


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