“Can’t We All Get Along?” isn’t the point. Winning is.

Jeff Golden

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My last post slamming a Yes on 66/67 TV spot seriously pissed off some who are fighting to get these two measures passed. I understand why. I’m posting a follow-up because I think this flap goes straight to the heart of why sane political policies aren’t drawing the majorities they need, and why the Democratic party isn’t attracting enough people.

First I want to say that the timing of the first post wasn’t great. I realized that as I read a comment in the thread that didn’t seem to agree 100% with my argument. I believe the word she used was “gobbly-gook.” What I remembered is that this commenter, another BO contributor, has given countless hours to the party and probably the 66/67 campaign, and as a Medford School Board member knows more than most why they have to pass. She called my critique, which ran on the Mail Tribune’s Sunday opinion page, a “setback for Yes on 66/67,” which both overstates my clout and, I think, misreads the column (two Rogue Valley BO readers asked me to post it here in full, because its main point, taking the MT to task for its “No” position, didn’t run on BO).

But it’s true that my gripe could have waited until after January 26. That just didn’t register as I was watch one run of this "Yes" spot after another. What registered was a sinking feeling that we’ve bought in to NeoCon orthodoxy that elections like this take some hate-mongering to win. That’s “fighting fire with fire.” That’s “getting tough,” or “realistic.” That, in the words of one reader offering me free personal counseling, is “growing a spine.”

I get this part, too. It’s true the Right has used our Can’t we all get along? instincts to eat our lunch again and again. The 2000 presidential election is one example. So is the past year; Obama won’t stop inviting ideas from his "friends on the other side," when it’s pretty clear that their main idea is that Obama, along with every progressive impulse he’s ever had, has to be destroyed. Then he comes back for more. It’s infuriating. It makes you want to blow up TV sets, paw the ground and snort like Fox gasbags. But now and then — like after my umpteenth viewing of this ad — I remember the best advice my father ever gave me: Don’t get mad. Get even.

Does this ad help do that? I’m not so sure. It’s plainly meant to rev up anger at Wall Street greed. Would an undecided voter (undecided, not one already in our camp) be more likely to say “Yeah! I’m gonna show those bozos who charged me $35 for a stupid overdraft and vote Yes!” or “This is more of the same caca I hear everywhere, and I’m not playing,” or “I’m voting no to show they can’t diddle me”? I don’t know the answer. Do you? Honestly?

Either way, here’s I want to ask whoever liked this ad for its toughness: How’s the battle for this country going? Why do you think our most thoroughly reasonable ideas — on health care, Iraq/Afghanistan, energy, financial reform — have so much trouble building a critical mass of political support? There are multiple answers, but here’s one I notice: almost every day I meet a caring person who’s either bolted from Democratic to NAV, dropped out of voting entirely, or stopped listening to what either party has to say. This is clearest when you talk to people under thirty; what you’ll hear from too many is “they’re all crooks and liars and I’m not interested in any of their bullshit.” Annoyingly ignorant as that can be, we need younger folks in huge numbers. We’re not getting them. I think the rhetoric of ads like this is one reason why. And I don’t buy that we don’t have the talent to produce 30-second spots that are tough, clear, simple, motivating and don’t sound like Karl Rove wrote them.

So we might not agree on any of this, but don’t for a minute think it’s about Can’t we all get along? I’m not interested in losing any of these battles in order to be nice. We’ve lost enough.

And I don’t pretend to have political psychology, or even the best 66/67 strategy, all figured out. I’m posting all this only to underline what’s easy to forget after so many principled losses: getting tough is not quite the same as getting effective.

Comments

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Jeff, a well reasoned post. As to using Wall Street bankers in hope of passing 66/67 - TILT. Bad karma on that one. I voted for the two even though I don't like or support their underlying premise. The YES folks over reached and over stepped by banking (pun intended) on Oregonians being mad at Wall Street.

    As to the broader question, why is Obama and the liberal left having so much trouble with his/their pet projects? It really is as simple, and compicated as a wholesale case of over reaching and over stating the win last November. The liberal left does not have a mandate. Obama does not have a mandate, hell, he can't even carry his own party.

    Look to NJ and MA politics for foreshadowing. The young and the non-affiliated put Obama and democrats in power. They are turning away in droves. Pelosi, Reid and the rest of the DC democrat demogogues have shown us all that "Change you can believe in" was just another slick campaign slogan. It is business as usual in DC and in most state capitals. The voters see this now and are ticked off.

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    It really is as simple, and compicated as a wholesale case of over reaching and over stating the win last November. The liberal left does not have a mandate. Obama does not have a mandate, hell, he can't even carry his own party.

    You must be joking. A majority believe Obama's programs have been just right or not enough to the left. The liberal left doesn't have a mandate? Did you sleep through the domination in 2008? It was a bloodbath.

    Obama's problem is he has the hardcore nutbag 25% who don't bother letting facts, rationality or logic enter the picture--but he's also got another 20% or so who can't believe he's turned into the same kind of corporate puss that we've endured for decades, and has decided keeping the funding stream going is more important than fighting for real change. You DO realize the health care bill would be much more popular in the House version than the Senate, right? That it's proponents of a stronger bill, added to the teabaggers, that's bringing it down?

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    And I think it's crucial, not "hate mongering," to point out that the tax structure has become quite unbalanced over the last 30 years, and it's time to move the needle back just a little bit. I won't fight hard for the precise methods being used in the ads, but one of the most salient points is how unfair the current system is, and how 66/67 restore balance to the state's tax burden.

  • Joe Hill (unverified)
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    There are the beginnings of a narrative out there now that THIS is the moment when it all begins to go bad. I think progressives have to harshly (sorry, Jeff Golden) reject that.

    If Coakley loses in Massachusetts, she loses because she didn't move hard to the left: "I will make this health care bill better and one day we WILL get single payer. We WILL leave Afghanistan. We WILL punish the torturers and Wall Street WILL NOT continue to profit from the public's money."

    If the health care bill goes down in flames it is because Obama and others did not begin with single payer and fight like hell for a truly progressive vision: "Health care is a right! We are going to take the profit motive out of health care once and for all!"

    Instead Coakley and the nimrods in the White House including Obama tacked hard to the right. Bad move. I told you so. Everyone who mattered told you so. It was a change / realignment election, and Obama and his inner circle pissed that away. They sowed the wind, now they reap the whirlwind.

    So Jeff, "the new civility" is not a winning move IMHO. For forty years the Gini coefficient has been moving in the wrong direction. For forty years the wealth of our nation has been systematically looted from the poor and middle class and awarded to the rich and hyper rich. For forty years the military industrial complex has found one excuse after another to engorge itself in producing death and empire. And Democrats who say these simple things are marginalized.

    Not gonna turn out for the Democrats. Not gonna man the phones, not gonna knock on doors of people who already feel pretty much abandoned. Not gonna give the money.

    If the Democrats say that this week is where it all went wrong, then they have learned nothing. It all went wrong when they decided they were post-partisan, post-idealogues, "can't we all get along" types and not avenging fucking angels determined to take back America right out of the gate from the decades of greedhead nihilism that have leveled and poisoned the dreams we used to have.

    The administration that once talked so pretty about the "fierce urgency of now" cannot utter the simple Anglo-Saxon words that are in near everyone's heart. Aeschylus-brand tragic.

  • Ron Morgan (unverified)
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    One of the trials of being young, regardless of what era you're talking about, is finding out that the world is run by hypocrites and that everyone is culpable. This usually starts with ones parents and radiates outward. The first reaction is to pull away. Then you grow up. Politics is what happens when fallible humans have power. Politics filled with crooks, thieves, liars? Political rhetoric is distorted, manipulative, appealing to the basest and most atavistic emotions? T'was ever thus.

    One part of the problem is that we feed kids pablum instead of history. We don't teach civics, we don't value democratic participation.

  • James Frye (unverified)
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    First of all, I couldn't agree more with the sentiment that playing nice and turning the other cheek just gets a second cheek slapped. As for the President...umm...did any of you who are so "outraged" and "betrayed" ever bother to look and see what the man actually ran on?

    "Obama didn't push for single payer!" Yeah, no kidding - he never ran on that either, his universal health care plan always was insurance-based. "But...he's increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan!!" Um, he always said he would end the war in Iraq and finish the war in Afghanistan by INCREASING THE NUMBER OF TROOPS THERE. And on and on.

    The battle here isn't over Obama the candidate versus President Obama. The battle is over the Obama people created in their heads versus the man himself. It's ridiculous and needs to stop. We elected a pragmatist who is more interested in getting the job done than whether he's making ideologues happy - something else he said often on the campaign trail.

    If you are all upset that Obama isn't "Super-Liberal" because that's the Obama you made up in your head, the problem is all yours - not the President's.

  • Daniel (unverified)
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    "Why do you think our most thoroughly reasonable ideas — on health care, Iraq/Afghanistan, energy, financial reform — have so much trouble building a critical mass of political support?"

    Maybe your ideas aren't as resonable as you think...

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    Two very similar pieces in the news this morning back up Joe Hill's point and are worth reading:

    Digging Into Massachusetts Campaign, Democrats Might Find Midterm Strategy

    Mass. Senate race's lesson for Obama

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    torrid joe, thank you for reinforcing my point in such a salient manner.

  • pacnwjay (unverified)
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    Would an undecided voter (undecided, not one already in our camp) be more likely to say “Yeah! I’m gonna show those bozos who charged me $35 for a stupid overdraft and vote Yes!”

    Jeff... convincing undecideds is only ONE goal of a campaign. You also have to motivate those people who do agree with you to actually take the time to vote. Riling up the troops is an important part of any campaign.

    It's also the part that has Obama in trouble! He's not losing the support of R's or wingnuts in these polls we see now (he never had them).... he's losing his base; he's disaffecting Democrats and progressives. I know I'm disgusted with the Senate health insurance bill. I'm also disgusted with Iraq/Afganistan; Wall Street giveaways and progress on GLBT issues.

    In fact, Obama and the national Democrats' best strategy right now would be to mount a vicious campaign attacking Wall Street and the Wingnuts to motivate their base... we need motivating.

  • Ron Morgan (unverified)
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    Maybe your ideas aren't as resonable as you think..."

    The status quo for health care means that costs remain at 16% of GDP and continue to rise. The status quo for an unregulated financial sector means that our economy will continue to be controlled by shadow markets and bubbles. (How'd that work out for you? My wife an I lost 35% of our retirement.) The problem for Obama and the Dems is that they gained power two years too early, and although their problems may delight Republicans in the short term, they should be mindul that the public is no more or less enamored by their rhetoric than they are by "hope" and "change".

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Excellent post. This is the kind of thing I've been looking for on here for a few months now. A big step back and some critical reasoning, instead of continuing the headlong slide towards becoming a left wing version of Hannity.

    I particularly agree with your analysis of keeping your eye on the ball. I don't think mainstream Dems and progressives dish out differential amounts of combativeness and conciliation, taken on balance, but we disagree majorly about when to apply each. The principles you outline sound like what I've been hearing progressive say for a while now.

    A very welcome post. IMHO, your participation in general, has been a breath of fresh air.

  • Jason (unverified)
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    Jeff,

    If you'd only listen to your own drivel you'd find the answer as to why younger voters are exacerbated by the process or aren't involves: attitudes like yours.

    I have friends on all sides of the spectrum: hard-right conservatives, and flaming left-wingers. The difference between your generation and mine (I'm in my 30's), is that we can have completely divergent views, and advocate for different policies, but that doesn't define our lives or our friendships.

    It's not about "winning" to us, or shoving our ideals down the throats of others. Of course, we have agendas that we'd like advanced, but life goes on if they don't. We are a generation that likes to cultivate relationships, and share ideas. We like candidates that, while stand for certain principles, are willing to listen to opponents and work with them to solve problems, even if it means giving up a few things here and there.

    It's interesting to me to watch how liberals have so loved watching the right wallow in recent defeats, and chastise the tea-baggers for being too extreme in their views. And you honestly think any of you are any different? The irony is comical.

    My prediction is that the left will lose it's political stronghold over the next few election cycles for the same reason the Republicans did: being too set in their ways, and unwilling to listen to others. I also believe that over the next 10-20 years, my generation will rise up more moderate politicians who care more about working together to solve problems, rather than acting like spoiled brats when they don't get their way.

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    And I don’t pretend to have political psychology, or even the best 66/67 strategy, all figured out. I’m posting all this only to underline what’s easy to forget after so many principled losses: getting tough is not quite the same as getting effective.

    I would be fascinated to read historical precedents that back up this assertion.

    I'm not a political psychologist either. But I am unaware of any effective leadership which progressed in it's agenda by being "moderate" and not being "tough" in the process.

  • Red Cloud (unverified)
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    When you structure language to make it resonate with your reader or auditor in the hope or expectation that the resonance will lead to action, you open up something you need to carefully control; something you may later come to rue.

    The purpose of language is to communicate and in humans to persuade as well. Grammar is the structure imposed on language to insure effective communication; rhetoric is the process used to structure grammar to persuade. Logic is the framework used to analyze rhetoric for its validity.

    The framing of public policy options have to address belief systems. "Americans have supported, or have come to support, specific governmental remedies, such as Social Security, the minimum wage, and environmental and consumer protections. But, when a new program that expands government is proposed, they have displayed a general ideological predisposition against the power of government. As Obama tries to get his reform agenda through Congress, this predisposition is already proving to be a formidable obstacle." (Anti-Statism In America, New Republic 11 November, 1009)

    In the Washington Post, Richard Cohen writes: "Obama could be a great president. He has already achieved much -- possibly saving the country from financial ruin, salvaging the auto industry, getting some sort of health care reform. Possibly, possibly. Yet his numbers sink as his achievements rise. He is the Johnny Appleseed of cognitive dissonance, so utterly detached that when he wins it seems to be only for himself. Pollsters measure him but poets have described him. William Butler Yeats got it down years ago: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." (Washington Post, 5 January 2010)

    If you saw the Arts section of yesterday's NYT, there is a discussion of the vote in Switzerland to ban minarets. It was blunt, bordered on racism, but got the point across. My point is it is far easier to oppose something than it is to craft a message in support. In fact, I think framing issues so constrains people that when the framer does not live up to the frame, then disgust and abandonment follow.

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    As I read him I don't see Jeff calling for passivity or anything resembling it. What he's pointing out is the same basic stuff we were all saying about BushCo's "war on terror": the so-called preemptive war doctrine, water-boarding, Blackwater mercenaries, etc.

    How many times did we all point out that using police techniques to deal with terrorists (as Clinton did) is not passivity by any stretch of the imagination?

    Appealing to bloodlust may be an effective way to get public support, as BushCo did, but is it really what we want to emulate?

  • LT (unverified)
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    "He can't even carry his own party"?

    Everyone who voted for Obama agrees on every issue?

    The past year has been very instructive, and it turns out that I am probably the sort of "radical centrist" a friend wrote about in our county party newsletter in the 1980s.

    Whenever I hear "the left is unhappy about..." or similar remarks, it confirms that I am not a member of "the left". Never thought I was. From the days of E. McCarthy instead of Bobby Kennedy (yes, I am that old, I was in college then and could not vote until turning 21--so that was my first election to vote in), I have known the Democratic party as a place where issue debates are central.

    When such issue/ candidate debates are not treated as legitimate but rather as "good side vs. bad side" is when Democrats get in trouble with the general public.

    My ancestry (and my life thru 6th grade) were spent in Michigan. The beliefs I grew up around are not that different than what B. Obama grew up around from his Kansas relatives---the same midwestern view of the world which (from his story in his book about being more in tune with S. Illinois than his staffer suspected) many other states in that area reflect.

    Jeff, you seem to forget what Will Rogers said. "I belong to no organized political party, I am a Democrat".

    Democrats have never been the talking points party, or the "fall in line and never question the leadership" party. I know that from having been a state central comm. member, having worked on a primary campaign where the insurgent candidate got 59% of the vote, having beaten my head against a brick wall because I didn't buy into party orthodoxy on some issue--won some, lost some. There are issues I believe are important, and if the Democratic establishment thinks they are low priority, they are saying I should look elsewhere---maybe even register NAV between primaries.

    I was on the side of a friend of mine when he won the fight for a shorter, more readable state Dem.platform, so that full page ads could be bought small town newspapers, like the one where he lived, saying "Do you know what Democrats believe? Here is the platform" to counter all the rumors in small towns in the 1980s that Democrats stood for some way out ideas.

    I was at a State Central Comm. meeting in the early 1990s where the campaign committee announced they had decided all good Democrats agreed on 5 things. Who gave them that authority? Or did they just take it upon themselves? Did one or two people lead and the rest on the committee just follow?

    One of the 5 things was about a controversy where coastal communities saw an issue differently than folks who lived inland. This committee came down on the inland side. Was that more important than electing legislators from the coast? There was a prominent Democrat (who had presided over a session of the Platform Convention or something major like that) running for the legislature from the coast, and this was seen as an insult to this person.

    The whole idea was defeated as clueless by the members there.

    Democrats are by their nature combatative. I did a lot of volunteer work with the party, but it was made clear to me that I should step in line and let other people do my thinking for me. Then the guest opinion I wrote saying the party had to make a choice between recruiting volunteers who thought for themselves or being an ideologically pure party was published on the front page of our local party newsletter. At a Platform convention, I had copies to give away and several people said they would publish it in their county newsletter. When a job change (plus burnout) led me to drop all my party activities incl. membership in a statewide standing committee, someone said "we always respected your hard work, we just didn't agree with you". Do such debates go on now, or does the leadership tell the members what to do, what to believe, etc?

    "we’ve bought in to NeoCon orthodoxy that elections like this take some hate-mongering to win"

    Saying that big bankers were the cause of recent financial problems is "hate mongering"?

    I'm currently reading a history of the Progressive movement from 100 years ago. I suggest the people who call themselves "progressives" find themselves a good book on the history/ politics of 100 years ago. Read about the Northern Securities Case (which caused a lot of ordinary people to lose their savings after the rich guys JJ Hill and EH Harriman tried to "corner the market").

    THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT 1900 to 1915 edited and with an introduction by Richard Hofstder

    is a book I bought at Powells when I was in Portland in 1992.

    In it there is a quote from Pres. T. Roosevelt, 1901.

    "Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions; it is therefore our right and our duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions."

    Jeff, had that quote been part of a Yes on 66 & 67 ad, would you have considered that "hate mongering"?

    Progressive in the sense of 100 years ago did not mean "not conservative".

    It meant opening up the system to the general population (as opposed to what happened in Pres. McKinley's day ---Mark Hanna was the chief money raiser and supporter, and turned out to have been Karl Rove's political hero), it meant ordinary citizens having a say in public affairs, it meant fixing things from the ground up: ending political machines, city and state goverment reforms, consumer protections like the Pure Food and Drug Act.

    102 years ago, there was a famous US Supreme Court case from Oregon.

    Oregon passed a law saying no woman working in a factory, laundry, etc. should be employed more than 10 hours per day. Oregon Supreme Court upheld it and it was appealed to the US Supreme Court.

    The case was Muller v. Oregon. Oregon won.

    It has bothered me for some time that many people using the title "progressive" didn't seem to understand the term.

    It does not mean people should sign onto a particular agenda and their only choice is one of 2 parties. Measure 65 (nonpartisan elections) could be seen as a progressive measure in that it sought to get rid of the "choose your caucus and then obey what they say" mentality which has infected our legislature.

    Can you guess I was a history major?

    It may well be that the Jan. 26 election is decided by voters who don't register in a major party. They have provided the victory margin (and thus control of the legislature) more times than some people want to admit.

    And if folks downstate think the party is run by Portlanders who don't see things their way, or that they don't see the House Speaker, Maj. or Minority Leader as representing their views, "can't we all get along" won't change that.

    YMMV

  • (Show?)

    "torrid joe, thank you for reinforcing my point in such a salient manner."

    And thanks for ceding the point to me by being unable to substantively respond in any way.

  • dartagnan (unverified)
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    "Instead Coakley and the nimrods in the White House including Obama tacked hard to the right. Bad move. I told you so. Everyone who mattered told you so. It was a change / realignment election, and Obama and his inner circle pissed that away. They sowed the wind, now they reap the whirlwind."

    Amen. There are only two possible explanations for Obama's dismaying capitulation: A) He never was a real progressive to begin with or B) He believed the crap being spewed by the pundits after the election about this "still being a center-right country."

    The election results of 2008 showed that this is now a center-left country. Obama veered to the right and by doing so lost the left and much of the center without gaining anything from the right, whose adherents are immune to logical persuasion anyway.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Ok torrid joe - But this is tedious as you seem incapable of seeing the forest for the trees:

    1. "A majority believe Obama's policies have been just right or not enough to the left.

    Please give some data here. According to polls and reviews Obama's ratings are dropping like a prom queen's undies. At last count a large percent who voted for him have no stated that they would not again were the election today. His policies and programs are being fought by his own party, those pesky blue dog dems and others who have to get re-elected in Novemebr.

    1. The liberal left doesn't have a mandate? you must have been sleeping through the bloodbath of 2008.

    No, the leiberal left has no more a mandate than did the conservative christian right in either 2000 or 2004. In 2008, the disaffected NAV, young voters and moderate republicans tirned out for Anybody But Bush. McCain ran a horrible campaign and the extreme right wing stayed away in droves. If the extreme left had a mandate, Card check, EFCA, cap and Trade AND Single payer would all be complete or well on the way. None are able to say these will happen. If the liberal left had a mandate NJ would have a democrat governor and the Atty General of MA would be cruising into tomorrows Senatorial election.

    1. Healthcare - I'll cede that the House version is much more palatable and more likly to actually do something. The political horse trading of the politicians (note I lump ALL of them in on this) has put many folks off of all backgrounds. However, healthcare also is an excellent example of how dogmatic far leftist continue to misread the electorate.

    The idealistic bash the rich, make the wealthy pay more led us all to the 40% Cadillac Tax. Then somebody "discovered" that as written, that tax bashes public employee unions, teachers, SEIU, UAW and the Teamsters - OOPS! The other idealistic pushes from the liberal left have all but sunk healthcare (where exactly do they realistically expect to get $500 Billion in savings from Medicare?)

    Stated elswhere on a post recently, a 30 something states it much better. Basically those ages are tired of the "my idea great, you and yours sucks reparte from both the outer extremes of the left and the right. That is why the NAV's are growing and the 2 party system is in such chaos. The republicans, lacking a strong democrat party self imploded. The democrats, lacking the will or ability to learn are now going to follow a very well worn path to self destruction as well.

    It is the middle that elects politicians, sometimes it is as low as 10%, sometimes much higher. However not being "liberal enough" or "conservative enough" is a mantra certain to push the middle to the opposing side whomever they may be.

    Have a nice afternoon torrid joe....

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Amen. There are only two possible explanations for Obama's dismaying capitulation: A) He never was a real progressive to begin with or B) He believed the crap being spewed by the pundits after the election about this "still being a center-right country."

    or C) He likes progressive ideas but the President doesn't call the shots; the same corporate interests that were calling the shots for Shrub still are. The President is the face of Oz, hiding the man/men behind the curtain. Election irregularities like 2000 only serve to perpetuate the illusion that who wins matters.

    As Kurt points out, this shouldn't have been a surprise. After 2008 the near left had a clear mandate. Instead of leading they put Pelosi and Reid in power, two of the worst mossbacks this country has ever produced. It was obvious that he would move to the right. If he hadn't we'd be seeing another Carter fighting with his own Congress scenario. And that is Jeff's point, I think. Showing unity is only worth something if it gets us somewhere. The question is why the Congress shunned the opportunity, and that comes back to my constant refrain that Congress is a two-faced, one party system.

    This thread has me thinking about LBJ. Too painted by the war, I think he has a lot to offer on this topic.

  • alcatross (unverified)
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    Carla commented: I'm not a political psychologist either.

    Gee... I would have never guessed that.

    But I am unaware of any effective leadership which progressed in it's agenda by being "moderate" and not being "tough" in the process.

    You shouldn't equate flexibility or the willingness to moderate and even cede some points as a lack of 'toughness'... Great leaders like Lincoln, FDR, and Eisenhower (just a few examples) hardly lacked for 'toughness' - and could even be ruthless when they thought it necessary. But each in their own way often had to wheedle, cajole, and negotiate with broad coalitions of people to garner support to further their agendas. They quickly discovered making progress wasn't as easy as just saying 'I won'... Lincoln especially was always sensitive to not getting too far out in front of public opinion.

    You might find this essay about Abraham Lincoln and public opinion enlightening.

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    Jeff,

    Besides the poor politics of your timing – it has nothing to do with how influential you might be; it was a diversion from the task at hand – the problem I had with your post was that you have the “class warfare” thing backasswards.

    As Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein explain in their thoughtful and funny >Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington; Understanding Political Doublespeak Through Philosophy and Jokes,” the claim of “class warfare” is “projection” which “occurs when one is threatened by or afraid of one’s own impulses and consequently attributes those impulses to someone else.”

    Here’s their instructive joke to help you remember that the person making the claim is the person who is engaging in the behavior. Your post may be the first I’ve ever seen with someone who wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest claiming that s/he her/himself is supporting a side engaged in class warfare:

    SHRINK: When I show you this triangle, what’s the first thing you see? PATIENT: Two men and a woman going at it on a water bed. SHRINK: Who about when I show you this circle? PATIENT: Some girl-on-girl action in the locker room shower. SHRINK: And this square? PATIENT: A woman taking on three men in the backseat of a Volvo. SHRINK: Okay, I’ve arrived at my diagnosis. You’re obsessed with sex. PATIENT: Me? You’re the one with the dirty-picture collection!

    Think about that next time you accuse your friends of engaging in class warfare. That's projection, or more likely bassackwards.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Jeff Golden:

    ...and as a Medford School Board member knows more than most why they have to pass.

    Bob T:

    Sure! -- To keep the unsustainable Gravy Train going!

    I thought you guys opposed things that are unsustainable.

    Even Willy Brown of California knows it's not.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

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    "grow a spine"

    I think that's the problem. We think we have to get tough. We can beat NeoCon rhetoric in smarter ways. It's just a matter of calling a cat a cat as the French would say, i.e. calling their bullshit out.

    We fail to provide a counterbalancing force.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    LT:

    Progressive in the sense of 100 years ago did not mean "not conservative".

    It meant opening up the system to the general population

    Bob T:

    Well, that's the legend. Part of the legacy is a ton of legislation making it difficult to impossible for members of "the general population" to enter markets and compete.

    LT:

    it meant fixing things from the ground up: ending political machines, city and state goverment reforms

    Bob T:

    I'm not sure about that. There was a wave of reforms to change the make-up of municipal governments to make them better able to respond to and to function after various emergencies (thanks to how a hurricane wrecked Galveston at the turn of the century), and the idea was to make such governments more like a business. Attracting businessmen was crucial to this. I think this made for more corruption, disguised as altruistic projects.

    One of the methods to get such people or their lackies elected was to change over to electing city council members at-large instead of by districts which made it harder for us regular saps to campaign. One supporter of this change even said that it will make it harder to elect "socialists and Negroes". Much of the progressive movement was hand in hand with Big Business and the State. tho much of this is not as well known because the legend is more useful to put in schoolbooks. What's ironic is that when people opposed these city council reforms they probably said, "Stop! - this will only help big business interests!", and decades later when there's a move to bring back city council district elections the progressives yell, "Stop! - this will only help big business!"

    Oh, if the little guy was helped, why did banker Paul Warburg say, after massive banking regulation was passed in the early teens, that it will be good to get rid of those small banks. Eh?

    LT:

    Can you guess I was a history major?

    Bob T:

    You need to read better books, such as some that give a myth-busting look at the progressive movement as well as the state of capitalism in the late 1800s into the early 1900s. Try these two from two who can hardly be called conservatives or even moderates, both of whom respected facts over dogma:

    "The Corporate Ideal in the Liberal State 1900-1918", by James Weinstein.

    "The Triumph of Conservatism: A Re-interpretation of American History, 1900-1916", by Gabriel Kolko.

    Also by Kolko: "Railroads and Regulation: 1877-1916"

    That period of regulation and everything was far more complicated than you think. Are you one of those people who think that the meat packers were dragged kicking and screaming into an era of meat inspections? That's the simple mythical version. In all of this you'll discover that both sincere progressives and free marketers were screwed over.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    By the way, I lifted this from the Wiki entry on Kolko. It does describe his views pretty well. Kolko is also smart not to lower himself by defining capitalism or free enterprise system as just about anything that's done in its name.

    According to Grob and Billias, "Kolko believed that large-scale units turned to government regulation precisely because of their inefficiency" and that the "Progressive movement - far from being antibusiness - was actually a movement that defined the general welfare in terms of the well-being of business"....Kolko, in particular, broke new ground withWhile describing himself as a Leftist and anti-capitalist..Kolko....broke new ground with his critical history of the Progressive Era. He discovered that free enterprise and competition were vibrant and expanding during the first two decades of the twentieth century; meanwhile, corporations reacted to the free market by turning to government to protect their inherent inefficiency from the discipline of market conditions. This behavior is known as corporatism, but Kolko dubbed it "political capitalism." Kolko's thesis "that businessmen favored government regulation because they feared competition and desired to forge a government-business coalition" is one that is echoed by many observers today

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • dartagnan (unverified)
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    "This thread has me thinking about LBJ. Too painted by the war, I think he has a lot to offer on this topic."

    If LBJ was in the White House I bet Congress would have passed meaningful health care reform by now. The man knew his way around Capitol Hill and wasn't afraid to twist some arms when they needed twisting. A little less kumbaya and a little more LBJ-style leadership from the White House would be welcome -- but I don't believe Obama has it in him.

  • Zarathustra, Oregon Leopard Party (unverified)
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    dart, I'm really getting a great image for a comedy skit, where Obama is shown to be in a skin suit, he unzips it, and out pops LBJ. The post White House LBJ, with the shoulder length white hair, grumbling, "those hippies just didn't understand me". Then he meets with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. THAT could be very funny. Or a phone call. I can just hear it now: LBJ: Nancy, this is your President, and I have something that would mean a lot to me if you could see your way clear to do it.

    Pelosi: Sure, Mr. President!

    LBJ: I've been reading "Stupak", and, well, frankly, I'm getting a little hot under the collar, and a little jealous. Jealous, because, well, hell Nancy, how does a little worm like that...you're feelin' OK? Because we need a Speaker in fighting shape to get this legislation crafted.

    Pelosi: Oh, I feel great, Mr. President!

    LBJ: So, what did you say to Bob when he proposed this?

    Pelosi: Uhh, well, I didn't talk to him personally, Mr. President. I have aides that...

    LBJ: Didn't talk to him?! Jesus H. Christ, Nancy, have you forgotten about that little perk we threw Detroit's way? The devil's in the details, and you should have gotten him aside and let him know that if he doesn't PLAY BALL, that legislation might not get implemented in just the way he imagined it.

    Pelosi: Well, Mr. President, I...

    LBJ: That's OK, Nancy. I know you won't make that mistake again. Your President is counting on you, and the whole country, and I know I'll be proud of your next move. You're a good woman Nancy.

    Pelosi: Thank you, Mr. President, but I...

    LBJ: Thank YOU Nancy; talk at you later!

    Amen, though. His only "failure" was home rule for DC, and he only tried that at the last moment because someone said that even he couldn't do that. Sorry to be on my soapbox, but it really gets me going that history seems to forget that for all his great ideas, JFK got very, very little into law. We owe LBJ for picking up the baton and gettin' her done!

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    dartagnan:

    If LBJ was in the White House I bet Congress would have passed meaningful health care reform by now. The man knew his way around Capitol Hill and wasn't afraid to twist some arms when they needed twisting.

    Bob T:

    He had that skill set, but what's missing from this generalization is that it was marked by getting things passed that involved enough bipartisan support to avoid creating serious divisions, particularly when the issue was something of widespread importance. He would not be for passing this alleged health care legislation as it stands now due to its highly partisan nature, and would jettison it in favor of more targeted reforms to be passed separately.

    Just finished a good one-volume bio of LBJ that I could recommend-- "LBJ: A Life", by Unger.

    dartagnan:

    A little less kumbaya and a little more LBJ-style leadership from the White House would be welcome -- but I don't believe Obama has it in him.

    <b<bob t:<="" b="">

    That's what you get for voting for someone because you think "he's cool". Maybe he should throw one of those water bottles at the problem (ah, but those fainting lady episodes were staged, whereas the problems he's now facing are very real). Remember when he told an interviewer that he had an ability to take a bunch of disagreeing people into a room and get them all to agree? Instead of asking him for examples, the interviewer nodded like a bobble-head doll and moved onto another subject. Turns out that Twinkle-Toes' ability to get people to back his ideas rests on bribing them with tax dollars. Gee, there's a new idea!

    "Change.....is comin'....to Washington!"

    Right.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • LT (unverified)
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    Bob, before you say history is "legend" and the greatest good is the marketplace

    "Bob T:

    Well, that's the legend. Part of the legacy is a ton of legislation making it difficult to impossible for members of "the general population" to enter markets and compete. "

    2 things:

    1) Currently I am reading BUSINESSMEN AND REFORM by Robert Wiebe. Published by Elephant Paperbacks of Chicago.

    Surely you and I can agree that when I bought the book I was engaged in the marketplace.

    One theme of the book is that businessmen were more involved in the Progressive Era than many had realized--- at least partly to get stability for their businesses in a tumultous time.

    2) Recently I saw one of those think tank panel discussions on CSPAN. This one was at AEI. The Q & A was fascinating. The speech had been about dealing with what went wrong the past few years, about debates between free market conservatives, social conservatives and libertarians and about the future of the conservative movement. The speaker, answering a question, said he thought that libertarians were at least as much a problem as liberals.

    How much history of 100 years ago have you read, Bob? Or do you consider it all legend if it does not match your one true political faith?

    Terms like liberal and conservative were not thrown around then like they are now. More descriptive terms regarding specific issues were more likely to be used.

  • (Show?)

    One note about LBJ: Johnson spent some 24 years amassing power in Congress. Skill sets aside, Obama had nothing closely resembling that kind of asset when he was elected.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Dan Petegorsky:

    One note about LBJ: Johnson spent some 24 years amassing power in Congress. Skill sets aside, Obama had nothing closely resembling that kind of asset when he was elected.

    Bob T:

    It was more than power that LBJ had amassed. Besides, Obama said during the campaign that he had this gift of being able to take a bunch of disagreeing people into a room and then getting them all to agree. He was never asked for any examples, and I can guarantee you that there aren't any. The only people who didn't believe that line of bull were the ones who didn't vote for him

    There's no indication at all that he could develop into the kind of skilled vote-getter that LBJ became. You need to do more than "amass power" and be in Congress for a long time. Heck, look at how poor Harry Reid has done and he's been in the Senate for longer than LBJ had been (although LBJ had earlier been a good vote-getter as a House member).

    Isn't it time to start taking a serious look at how inept this flim-flam man has been as president and to quit pretending he's a magic man?

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    LT:

    Bob, before you say history is "legend"

    Bob T:

    Some history is legend.

    LT:

    and the greatest good is the marketplace

    Bob T:

    I don't go around saying that (although the record of the market system speaks for itself) but simply demand that political manipulation be kept to a bare minimum for it is extremely corrupting.

    LT:

    2 things:

    1) Currently I am reading BUSINESSMEN AND REFORM by Robert Wiebe. Published by Elephant Paperbacks of Chicago.

    Surely you and I can agree that when I bought the book I was engaged in the marketplace.

    Bob T:

    Not that anyone was saying that you don't.

    LT:

    One theme of the book is that businessmen were more involved in the Progressive Era than many had realized--- at least partly to get stability for their businesses in a tumultous time.

    Bob T:

    Key phrases are stability for their businesses, and in a tumultous time.

    One could expect people to lobby for various favors and privileged legislation, but the doesn't mean that any should have been passed or should be passed. Too many people claim that what businessmen wanted is what defines the market system, but sorry, they don't get to define it. The forces of the market are still there, like gravity, and you cannot make these go away by passing laws. Also, too many people think that a company going out of business is a sign of a market failure, and thus proof that it "doesn't work". But failure is as much a part of it as success. So what. The hard part is saying "No" to those requesting privileged legislation. And not enough of us ever do.

    As for the "tumultous" part, what does that refer to? A business climate in which it was difficult to stay afloat? That's hard to buy into, either. If it was hard to stay afloat, which usually meant that it was hard to keep a share of the market, or a certain minimum profit level. Those asking for the favors had no business asking for them at the expense of others. No one ever said that it was supposed to be "easy" to stay in business. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. Big deal.

    LT:

    2) Recently I saw one of those think tank panel discussions on CSPAN. This one was at AEI. The Q & A was fascinating. The speech had been about dealing with what went wrong the past few years, about debates between free market conservatives, social conservatives and libertarians and about the future of the conservative movement. The speaker, answering a question, said he thought that libertarians were at least as much a problem as liberals.

    Bob T:

    Sounds like someone who had no idea what he was talking about. What he probably didn't want to say was that as a "conservative" (if that's what he was labeled), he opposed interventions because that would been less power for government, reducing its ability yo pick winners and losers.

    LT:

    How much history of 100 years ago have you read, Bob? Or do you consider it all legend if it does not match your one true political faith?

    Bob T:

    You didn't have to read that carefully to see that the "legend" being pointed out referred to common myths about the so-called "Progressive Era" as well as the usual stories we heard in school about the rise in regulations and so on. Not everything, of course (show me where I said so), but those examples that don't pass muster when compared to the data. Such records are dry and often dull to read, and thus are not as interesting to read as simple accounts stating that "the meat packers opposed inspections", or "competition was disappearing", and so on.

    Or that various legislation worked. After the passage of the Sherman Act, for example, there were more mergers than before. Gee, that really worked. They figured that it was easier to buy a competitor than to try to cooperate with him. Okay, fine. Also, Teddy Roosevelt has this reputation as the great trustbuster, but his successor, Taft, went after about twice as many trusts in one term than Teddy did in his seven and a half years as president. Yet he supposedly ran against Taft in 1912 for the opposite reason. He preferred wheeling and dealing with big businesses after threatening them, than in actually going after them.

    LT:

    Terms like liberal and conservative were not thrown around then like they are now. More descriptive terms regarding specific issues were more likely to be used.

    Bob T:

    Well, a liberal back then was a liberal according to the actual definition, as opposed to one who later used that term while being a huge proponent of New Deal legislation, which was anti-liberal in so many ways. But the word was hijacked, so I don't particularly care. I don't care that much about these labels -- I'm more interested in whether or not they're actually in favor of free market policies.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Oregon Leopard Party (unverified)
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    <h2>Are you sure you two disagree? Well reasoned B, imho, tho I don't think LT was disagreeing with any of that!</h2>

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