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Helping Obama Rediscover His Groove

Thus far 2011 has not been a good year for progressives. The daily sight of the White House seeking elusive accommodations with Tea Party-inspired Congressional Republicans has not been an edifying one. Prior to and during the debt ceiling crisis, all the drive, all the issue framing, all the assertiveness in the pursuit of solutions, seemed to come from just one side of the aisle. In the process the stature of the White House (and that of its occupant) visibly wilted. A President full of confidence prior to the mid-term elections seemed to have entirely lost his footing.

So it was a huge relief to see Barack Obama feisty in defense of his Jobs Bill when addressing a joint session of Congress on September 8. It was an even greater relief to see him throwing down the gauntlet to John Boehner when introducing his deficit package later; and there was more reassurance last weekend when the President campaigned vigorously in California in the manner of the old Obama. It was good to see him openly condemning those who booed a gay soldier from the floor of the Florida debate as “not reflective of who we are.” It was good to see him insisting that the Republican vision of government would “fundamentally cripple America in meeting the challenges of the 21st century;” and it was good to see him treating the 2012 election as “a contest of values.” The California Obama was more like the Obama for whom many of us campaigned so enthusiastically in 2008: so maybe, at long last and not a day too soon, the President is beginning to get back his progressive groove. Let us hope so.

If he is, the issue before us is how to make sure that the groove is maintained and indeed improved. It is not that the Obama message these last weeks has been perfect. It has not. His jobs package is too small,[1] his long-term deficit reduction program too sweeping,[2] and his reticence on the housing crisis too crushing to the hopes of so many.[3] But the campaigning tone is returning, and with it the possibility of calling Obama back from his dalliance with conservative Republicanism.

How exactly can we maintain this new progressive momentum in the rhetoric and practice of the White House?  This way, perhaps.

l. By reminding ourselves just how enormous the stakes are, this time round. If Barack Obama loses the White House to a Rick Perry, or to a Chris Christie, or even to a Mitt Romney obliged to balance his ticket with some right-wing crazy, we will enter a new dark age for American welfare, for the American poor, and for those Americans now without work or poised soon to seek it for the first time. The current crop of Republican candidates are currently engaged in an insane dance of uber-conservatism, each seeking to outdo the other in the economic and social vandalism they enthusiastically promise to debate – audiences who are visibly high on libertarianism and low on compassion. Their would-be leaders are all for shutting the Department of Education at the very moment that American school scores are slipping down every international performance table. They are all for eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency (because it bans dust, according to Herman Cain in the televised Florida debate – of course it bans dust: dust that gives so many Americans serious breathing difficulties). They repeatedly call for limits on unemployment insurance, as though unemployment was a voluntary choice in an economy in which currently there are four times more job-seekers than jobs: and they are adamant that federal spending should be cut immediately and cut ruthlessly, even though such august bodies as the IMF are currently warning that too rapid a deficit reduction might yet tip us into a double-dip recession. Put Republicans of this ilk in full control in Washington in 2012, and the prospects for a decent life for an entire generation of young Americans will entirely vanish.[4] 2012 will therefore be no ordinary election, and we cannot afford to approach it as though it was.

2, By not running a progressive candidate against Obama in any party primary, or entertaining any fantasies about a third party success. The stakes in the 2012 election are simply too high for any indiscipline on the Left in the campaign which precedes it. Any kind of primary challenge to Obama can only give free and effective political ammunition to our opponents, who will magnify and disseminate every tiny difference between Obama and his challenger(s). Indeed an effective primary challenge – one pulling the President onto new radical ground – would be meat and drink to the conservative media: proof positive that Obama was (and is) a closet socialist, in thrall to extremists within Democratic ranks. No, divisions on the left in the run up to the 2012 elections will simply let in the right. This is no time for any progressive voter to go pious, and refuse to back Obama because his presidency has not lived up fully to all the hopes we placed in it. This is the time to play defense – solid, serious defense – against a conservative political formation that, were it to sweep both Houses of Congress and the White House in November 2012, would make the Bush-Cheney years look like a liberal walk in the park. This is the time to dig in and dig deep, defending liberal candidates and a liberal President. It is also time to urge that liberal President to do more to make that defense worthwhile. The question is how?

3. By making a visible and radical break from Republican framings of our contemporary needs and condition. The Obama White House needs to stop trying to bridge the unbridgeable. It needs to stop blaming Washington inertia on “Congress” as a whole.  It needs to declare its search for bipartisanship over: over not because of Democratic Party extremism but because of Tea Party intransigence. This is no time to meet Republicans half-way, by offering limited deregulation as an alternative to their full deregulation. This is no time to pretend that taxing the rich is only about the math. It is certainly no time to outflank fiscal conservatives on their right by offering even more federal spending cuts than they propose. It is time rather for Barack Obama to say to the American public that if they want effective (and sensible) government, the Tea Party pot needs to be totally emptied down the electoral drain. It is time for a return to the Obama stance of 2007-8: to an unapologetic presentation of the case for change, and for clear Presidential support for the election of progressive lawmakers willing to make the House of Representatives once more the engine of that change.

4. By matching fire with fire: meeting a conservative ideological crusade with a progressive crusade of equal (indeed of greater) weight. The 2012 election will not be an ordinary one because Tea Party Republicans are not treating it as an ordinary one. They are treating it as a moment of hegemonic change, one that will fundamentally reset the underlying social bargain in modern America for a generation. Fiscal and social conservatives in this country are currently on a crusade, and they know it. Theirs is an ideologically informed mission against Barack Obama personally, and against everything that his administration is said to represent: what they see as big government, federal over-spending, the forced removal of people’s hard-earned money in taxation, and the destruction of America’s economic future through unwarranted interference in the workings of a free market. Progressives will not blunt that conservative crusade by pretending that it is not happening. They will blunt that crusade by meeting it on its own territory, and by revealing its many underlying flaws. They will blunt that crusade…

5. … by mounting a serious challenge to the central assertions of the conservative case. Which is why an ideologically-offensive progressive president needs to say at least the following things, and say them loudly, clearly and regularly:

(a) … that there is a positive role of government The President needs continually to put to rest the bizarre notion that private enterprise in the U.S. economy flourishes because of its distance from government, and because it is by its nature more efficient and effective than government can ever be. Both ends of that proposition are entirely false. If the financial tsunami of 2008 and the foreclosure morass of 2010 tell us anything, it is that big companies can be grotesquely inefficient and socially irresponsible unless curbed by strong regulatory frameworks. A progressive president needs to say over and over again that this recession was caused by lack by regulation, not by its overuse. He needs to insist that public spending and public policy have a crucial role to play in the creation of long-term economic prosperity, and be adamant that the right kind of spending and policy can only come from a progressive administration – namely his.

(b) …that governments do create jobs. And not just any old job: governments create jobs of value (from teachers to soldiers), and often create jobs faster than the private sector – particularly when, as now, confidence in consumer demand is low and private businesses are understandably reluctant to hire. Rick Perry might claim otherwise (he certainly did in the first Republican candidate debate), as occasionally does Rand Paul; but then they are no progressives, and Perry is not even a reliable source on job creation in his native Texas! Cutting public programs in the midst of a recession can only deepen that recession, effectively amounting to a class war on the weakest and poorest amongst us – cutting the flow of public resources to those who need them most. A progressive president must regularly defend the vital role of federal government in periods of crisis and the essential role of civilized public policy in times of calm. He must not let the Republicans get away with their regular assertion that markets work best when regulated least. That nonsense got us into this crisis, and it will not get us out.

c) …and that there is a progressive as well as a conservative narrative in American politics, one that stretches from Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation through FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s war on poverty to the unfinished social revolution of the twenty first century. There is more American history to be told than simply the endless Republican return to the temple of Ronald Reagan. A progressive president must challenge the mythology of the Reagan years, reminding modern-day America that it was in the Reagan years that a social settlement based on strong U.S. manufacturing performance and rising blue-collar wages was replaced by a new settlement based on growing income inequality, the outsourcing of American jobs, stagnant wages and the spread of a ultimately fragile debt-based prosperity. Doing that, a progressive president will then be equipped to call the country to a new social settlement – a genuine New Deal unlike any on offer from Republicans then or now – one based on greater equality in rewards, the honoring of work and family, a return to buying only what we can pay for, and the building of a stronger safety net for the weakest and most vulnerable among us. Doing that, a progressive president will also be equipped to present that new settlement as quintessentially American – indeed as America at its very best.

We need that progressive narrative back in play – and we need it now – because, if it is not in play, the ghastly conservative narrative currently being pushed at every Republican presidential candidate debate will come to prevail by default. Barack Obama reportedly told his California audience that what we face next year “is a choice about the fundamental direction of our country.” He is right. The election in 2012 will be that important. It will be a true watershed moment when one fundamental view of America’s future prevails over another fundamental view, and leaves an indelible footprint on this country for years to come. Such moments have to be seized. Conservatives know this. That is why they are so fired up and financed. We need to be fired up and financed too – fired up behind a president who regularly says to the wider American electorate the kinds of things he has at last begun to say to the party faithful.

We can no longer afford there to be two Obamas – the radical fundraiser one day, the Washington fixer the next. If Washington is ever to be properly fixed, the funds raised must be spent on electoral victory; and that victory will only come if the President establishes in the minds of an entire electorate clear blue water between the America that will be created by Democrats in power and the America that would be created by Republicans. The time for fudging the difference between liberal and conservative governing philosophies is well and truly past. The campaigning Obama seems to realize that. Let us hope that realization keeps him firmly in a progressive groove.



 

[1] See Robert Reich, Two Cheers and One Jeer for the American Jobs Act, posted on The Huffington Post September 9, 2011, and available at: http://www.nationofchange.org/two-cheers-and-one-jeer-american-jobs-act-1315582158

 

[2] Jeffrey Sachs, Grim realities in the Obama Budget Plan, posted on The Huffington Post September21, 2011, and available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/grim-realities-in-the-oba_b_973487.html

 

[4] For a list of probable casualties of Republican power, see Ian Millhiser, What If the Tea Party Wins? Center for American Progress, September 16, 2011: available at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/09/tea_party_constitution.html

 

 

 

 

This argument is developed more fully in

Making the Progressive Case: Towards a Stronger U.S. Economy

(New York, Continuum Books, 2011)

 

First posted at www.davidcoates.net

 

Apparently hes not chastened enough.

He'll give the business roundtable, all the cheap labor they'll need, through his new immigration policies. (Amnesty ?)

The term middle class will take on a new meaning at $3.50/ hour.  

He'll continue to allow the housing market to devalue further, because the new slave class he gave amnesty to, will need cheap housing  

He'll continue to push for free trade, allowing corporations to offshore our jobs.

He'll do just barely enough to keep the wage/slaves happy, making sure that 2016 is just as big of a watershed moment as you say  

The stakes in the 2012 election are simply too high for any indiscipline on the Left in the campaign which precedes it.

What did YOU  think the last election that brought Obama to power was all about? Only  to have him be republican lite; another toady for the corporations.

He'll move just barely to the left, just enough to fool some of the people, only as far as his corporate sponsors will allow.  

2016 will come, and again we'll be told  "you of the peasant class, better not dissent" 

In a repeat of 

"The stakes in the 2012  2016 election are simply too high for any indiscipline on the Left in the campaign which precedes it.

If you're going to tilt at windmills, I'd like to again suggest The Alternative Vote. I think it's a slightly more viable target (although still admittedly a long shot) and one where we can robustly pursue improving the long term future without sacrificing the short term future.

If you're going to tilt at windmills, I'd like to again suggest The Alterrnative vote

Still trying to promote an idea the corporations and their subsidized literature contributors will allow?

"Oh thank you masters, for allowing us to have an alternative vote that seeks to limit your power"?  

I hope you have a prescription for that controlled substance your smoking.

How is that any different than your idea of getting someone other than a Democrat or a Republican elected President? Damn it, Resistance, think! We're on the same team here. You want someone other than one of the "corporate parties" elected, and I'm telling you the most likely way of achieving that. Just because it'll be really hard to accomplish that doesn't mean it's not the most likely way of accomplishing your goal. Here's a puzzle for you: if you meet a poet, is it more likely that the poet is a truck driver or a professor of literature at a prestigious University? (Hint: this is a common puzzle, or at least based on one.)

Sometimes you seem like the crazy person asserting that every one else is crazy. Consider that if you want to get something accomplished, you must develop a viable plan. You don't like the alternative vote. What viable plan do you recommend, then?

Resistance--towards whom I bear no ill will--seems emblematic of those who, in their electoral political outlook, just say "no" and hope or assume that enough (always unspecified) others will somehow magically discern and bring to the world their personal "yes".  Or else maybe they just think electoral politics is a hopeless waste of time and imagine that they can escape personal moral responsibility and culpability for the deplorable conditions of our world by declining to vote, or are making a positive contribution through that decision.  But Resistance can speak for herself or himself.  

I do understand those outlooks.  Although I vote, I have at times felt them myself, in my disgust, frustration, depression, or anger.  I think it would be arrogant and condescending to label such behavior and decisions "childish", as they often are.  By the same token, I really, really do not like being in the citizens' foxhole at any time, let alone at times such as ours, with folks who think and act that way.  It isn't an either/or universe in which, by voting, one is precluded from engaging in all manner of other kinds of social and political change projects outside of electoral politics.   

“imagine that they can escape personal moral responsibility and culpability for the deplorable conditions of our world by declining to vote,”

You are mistaken; it is those who “imagine that they can escape personal moral responsibility and culpability for the deplorable conditions of our world by declining continuing to vote for the lesser of the two evils.

Excepts from  http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Patrick_Henry

“It is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope and pride. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation?

You continue to vote for the lesser of the two, for your temporal salvation?

Do you not see, do you not hear the Corporations and their servants in power are tightening the noose?

Of course there will always be those who fear and they’ll tell us

“They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?”

The elusive phantom of hope; believing the Government of and by the corporations, who only cares about exploitation and only considers the working class as slaves to serve they’re  capitalistic endeavors and the lackeys who’ll accept the thirty pieces of silver to betray their fellow workers, for temporal salvation

Betrayers who’ve convinced themselves and now attempt to convince others, there is no other options, you must vote for the lesser of the two evils.  Be patient, a deliverer will come someday.

I believe

“Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath Constitution provides for and placed in our power.

90,000,000 (90 million) Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of Liberty, with a ballot and a right to vote and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. ……. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

“If we wish to be free; if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending; …..

“It is vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, peace! But there is no peace. The war is actually begun! …….What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”

The class struggle/war has actually begun

SLAVERY is what I am trying to resist; while you imagine you’ll “escape personal moral responsibility and culpability”  voting for the lesser of the two, wicked slave masters.

While some keep telling me to be patient; the corporate armies are well advanced and entrenched.

“American worker listen up; and remember the blockade of Boston Harbor after your act of rebellion;  either you give into our demands to cut regulation’s, cut taxes and kiss our ….  We will continue to lay siege upon you, till you lose your homes, you will lose your income, and the ability to provide for your families. If you do not submit, we will move our manufacturing to other colonies. You will go hungry.  We have the economic resources and a government, to force you to submit.

It's easy to pick apart other people's solutions as not being likely to work, and I'll even admit that the alternative vote is a long, long shot. However, what is your viable solution? Voting for someone who has no chance at all of getting elected isn't viable. More specifically, it's even less viable than the alternative vote, at least in my opinion. If you want to argue otherwise, please do so, but don't argue based off what you wish the world was like.

I don't believe voting by itself is enough, not nearly so.  Which is why I wrote that by voting, one is not thereby precluded from engaging in all manner of other kinds of social and political change projects outside of electoral politics.  If you are suggesting that those of us who do vote cannot and do not also engage in other efforts to try to change the system to make it better, that is simply false.

Millions of Americans who had the right to do so have been "not voting" for all manner of mutually contradictory and collectively incoherent reasons.  If the idea was to "send a message" to the powers that be that the system sucks, and they'll never get your vote unless and until they fix it, that message from the non-voters to the powers that be has not been heard in a form that offers them any guidance on what they might need to do to encourage that particular form of participation, or just do a better job.  

Are you planning to vote?  For whom, might I ask?  Heck, you could even vote and not tell anyone because there is nothing you would care to say on that topic that is consistent with the actual, specific messages and guidance you mean by your behavior to send out.  Beyond, roughly, "the system sucks and is corrupt and we need to fix it and I'm not going to vote until it is fixed." 

I am unwilling to adhere to the view that Obama is incapable of growing and rising to the challenges as he sees them now.  I would think it would be all but impossible for an occupant of the Oval Office not to change during their time in office, even if they didn't want to.  In any case, even if one has made up one's mind once and for all about him, Obama's fate almost surely will have consequences, for better and/or for worse, for the outcomes of numerous Congressional races and the overall Congressional makeup in January 2013.  Which to many of us, having observed the destructive dynamics and outcomes of the past 21 months or so, is not something we consider morally or practically irrelevant.

Whether change will mean growth and improved performance for this President remains to be seen.  Overall I see some grounds for hope over the past month or so.  But if you are clairvoyant, and, along with other fellow clairvoyants, have peered inside and determined the fixed essence of his soul and world view then I don't know what else I could say about that.  Other than that seems like an unusually fatalistic and self-defeating outlook for someone who means to promote change processes, which will if successful have to come about through behavior change by real human beings whose actions and beliefs are presently seen as the source of the problems.  

What, after all, is the point of agitating and advocating if a conclusion has already been reached that the person or people to whom the agitation is directed is  incapable of acting any differently than they have been?  Don't successful social change efforts always entail changes in beliefs and/or actions, often in oneself as well as by others?

Let's talk about the Alternative vote VA. I read the entire thing, and found it interesting of course, very interesting, and each state could change their voting laws to use the run off voting the alternative vote suggests.

I  have a couple of different ideas though, term limits for the Senate and the House, because no doubt they are too entirely entrenched in the system. Not that either one of our preferences would happen, because there are many forces fighting for the status quo on this one. But no doubt something has to be done with legislators who spend a  life time, hello  Eric Cantor as legislators and never really have to experience the impact of their decisions on the general public. So I am in on election reform, but I think we truly need to limit  the time spent in DC, and I think that comes with term limits like the Articles of Confederation included. Yeah it is an old idea, but it does have merit I think. Jefferson thought it would give people  more of a stake in government, by giving them responsibility for making the government function and then leaving so the next citizen would serve, which in theory gives more people responsibility for fostering a functioning government. Do  I think this will happen... sadly no, cause you would need 2/3rds of congress to make it happen at the Constitutional level.

Apart from that maybe we should just change the laws and outright buy congressfolks. Like pool our money by district, and rather than having them be paid as federal employees they would be state employees, or county employees, which we could handle by congressional district, and maybe they would have to respond more adequately to citizens as we would dock their pay  if they gave away the store to Oil Companies and Pharma and big media.

I'm not against term limits, and of course there's no direct connection between term limits and the alternative vote, other than them both being unlikely and both related to election laws. What I mean by "no direct connection" is that it's possible to have any combination or permutation of the two. I.e., one doesn't necessitate the other, nor does it rule it out.

That said, what I like about the alternative vote is that I think it is more likely than term limits. (Although admittedly I might be deluding myself.) I say that because, unlike term limits, the people who would be voting for it would not necessarily be voting against themselves getting re-elected. If their electorate demanded it, then in many situations voting for the alternative vote would increase their chances of getting re-elected, whereas voting for term limits would necessarily eliminate their chances of getting re-elected if they were at that limit.

Additionally, the alternative vote can be applied by the NIMBY crowd in that state legislatures can vote to apply the alternative vote exclusively to federal presidential elections.

Term-  4 at 2 years each?

Would it help to define term limits first?.

Presently; a President can serve Two (2) @  four (4)  year terms. for a total of 8 years

Why not change the term, to Four (4) @  two (2) year terms for a total of 8 years.

The President would have to seek a vote of confidence based upon his results, and not his promises.

In todays fast paced world 4 -8 years is extremely slow to meet the needs of the Nation.

Get on with the job of governing or get replaced; sooner rather than later.

Make it less time, for lesser office holders. 

4-8 years is both too long and too short. It'd be nice to have a more responsive President, but you also don't want one who is always in campaign mode (which we apparently already have, and have had for a while).

Being in campaign mode isn't so bad considering, we wouldn't just be getting  campaign promises we would actually be voting on results.

I'm unclear why this is an either/or thing? Pretty sure one can push for the alternate vote while also working to elect representatives that don't suck. Not down on the idea. Just don't see your point, exactly.

Think, VA. If we're on the same team, why would you pressure folks to keep voting for any politician if it is shown they are actively acting against our interests? You don't see how that might appear crazy to ... well anyone sane?

And in answer to your question, it really depends how you figure. But I'm guessing it is, at best, equally likely for a truck driver or a professor of literature at a prestigious University to be a poet. Honestly, based on the sheer numbers, I'd say there are far more truck-driver poets than professor-poets. So if we're talking about the odds of a poet one may expect to run into - WAY more likely a truck driver.  Do it as some sort of ratio, you could get it to toss-up ... maybe weighted slightly prof. But here's a thought: a professor-poet is far more likely to be a total dick about it while a truckdriver-poet is far more likely to be cool as hell. You need to get out more.

First, yes, truck-driver is the correct answer. You seem to be assuming that although it is obviously the correct answer to you, that somehow I was operating under a different assumption. In fact, that assumption is so strong, you berate me (telling me I need to get out more) based off this false assumption. As I said before, this is a classic question. On this PDF, it's about 3/4 of the way down, although it's a variation on my question. There's a certain poetry in itself that you're challenging me to check my assumptions based off a demonstrably false assumption on your part about what those assumptions are!

As to this point:

If we're on the same team, why would you pressure folks to keep voting for any politician if it is shown they are actively acting against our interests? You don't see how that might appear crazy to ... well anyone sane?

You're right, it's not either/or. That said, until we have the alternative vote, voting for a third party means not helping party one beat party two (or vice-versa). So, if you truly, truly believe that party one and party two are the same, I won't pressure you not to vote for party three. However, I will challenge you on that premise if party one is the Democratic party and party two is the Republican party. There are plenty of third parties I'd rather see win, but not enough to prevent me from fighting to keep the Republican party out of office as much as possible. Thus, the need for the alternative vote. On the other hand, if you can convince me that a third party has a non-trivial chance of winning, I'm all ears. For certain offices in some locations, this is surely the case as Bernie Sanders proves.

Colonoscopy methods, is there a difference?

That said, until we have the alternative vote, voting for a third party means not helping party one beat party two (or vice-versa). So, if you truly, truly believe that party one and party two are the same,

In an earlier post you stated in affect, it would be more probable that the two parties would never permit a third party, but they would be more amenable to ALLOW an alternative vote.

 We don’t need the two capitalist parties to allow anything, Screw them.

We voters already have the ability for an alternative.

Despite being raised a Farm Labor Democrat, I soon realized the party abandoned my hopes and aspirations. They were no longer servants of the working class, they served another that wished to enslave me.

When Ross Perot said that the giant sucking sound, of jobs leaving America; would suck the life blood out of the working class, I believed him. Above all his other faults, to me, there was  no greater issue facing the future of the working class. That was the turning point. No Tax base as Perot warned, jobs gone.

America now faced with the lesser Depression, because both the democrats and the republicans, scoffed at Perot. It turns out he was correct, both the Democrats and the Republicans served the corporations and screwed the working class big time, Not much difference from my point of view.

When looking for a doctor to perform a colonoscopy,  I can’t imagine there’s much difference in the method.  

Clinton and Gore pressed ahead with NAFTA, the results have been disastrous, and no amount of Democratic BS, can cover over the major error.

We didn’t need to have the two NAFTA patties allow us anything; we only had to exercise our free will One Man/One vote.

When Nader ran against the abuses of corporate America and a government in their grips, despite his imperfections, I and others knew his platform was based upon a critical moment in American history.  

We didn’t need the two corporate parties to allow us anything; we only had to exercise our free will, One Man/One vote.

Those of you that thought voting for the lesser of the two evils have brought ruin to this country.

At critical times you have shown the inability to vote your conscience, instead playing a part in the subjugation of the American worker, to support those parties, which represent Corporations instead of the working class  

An electorate to stupid to realize, we can vote for the alternative, without the permission of the two corporate parties.

PS:…..Maybe you can tell me the objective of the poet question? What lesson were you trying to convey?

I thought it was condescending, or an attempt to berate me?    

Maybe we could ask which one; the truck driver or the professor, is more apt to support NAFTA?

I really don't see any reason for progressives to support Barack Obama. He is the biggest cop out and fraud that I have ever seen. He was obviously groomed by Wall Street to act as a "lightening rod" to ground the system and carry off all progressive's anger harmlessly and save them from having to give account of themselves. That is his true base.

Certainly after his UN farce, he no longer can be considered an international asset, as everyone, everywhere, has got his number by now. At least if Rick Perry or Michele Bachman were POTUS we could all work against their policies like we did against Bush without being accused of racism.

Easy to say, sitting on your ass in Spain, David. What "we" are you referring to?

I can vote, I can blog, I can agitate. Distance doesn't matter anymore, being a citizen does. The whole world is affected by what the US does or doesn't do... Look at the Palestinians, their fate seems to hang of the whim of some retirees in Florida. But let us cut to the chase, a vote for Obama is a wasted vote: he has drained out all the progressive energy that Bush created and given bubkes in exchange. Objectively he is worse than Bush from a progressive point of view.

Distance doesn't matter anymore, being a citizen does.

Maybe it doesn't matter to you.  But you don't get to write the rules on what matters to people you hope to persuade.  Distance matters a great deal to some.  Taken in conjunction with other things I know about a person's outlook and views, it matters to me in how I hear what they are saying.  If you write something advocating some course of action in reference to US politics and I know you are living in Spain--not as a result of, say, some overseas work project or extended travel where you will be coming back and living in the US again at least from time to time, but as a more or less permanent decision where you've decided you simply don't care to live in the US again--you can tell me you are affected by US elections, as am I. 

And you'd be correct. 

But not in the same way.  Not nearly.  Skin in the game, David.   

Dreamster, 

You've got it all wrong... Everybody, everywhere has "skin" in America's game... Look at the poor Palestinians... don't they wish they could vote in US elections? Don't they have yards of skin in the game? ... The USA, starting with POTUS, is fucking them over, all day, every day and they can't vote. Millions upon millions of people all over the planet have lost their jobs because of Wall Street's shenanigans and only a small percentage of them can vote in US elections... I can vote... because I was (cue up the band) "born in the USA"... So... In my opinion the USA is a rather nasty empire sticking its nose in everyone else's business... The least we expats, who are more sensitive to this then other Americans, can do... is participate... That is our privilege.

If you could make it the case that anyone in the world of age and registered could vote in U.S. national elections, would you?

Dreamer,   

That would be fair... then we really would have a true United Nations... think about it.

We don't want no "United" Nations, we only want vassal states to think they have a voice.  

I urge everyone to read Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts, in which Larson uses the correspondence of the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd, and that of his daughter, Margaret, to highlight how things were in Germany in 1933.  There is no difference between the language used by Goebbels et al. when speaking to the Americans at polite dinner parties and that used by David Seaton, i.e. the Jews control the United States (as David once again writes above).  Is he a Nazi or a Nazi-symp?  No, that would be to easy for him were I to call him that.  The Jews just stifle crowd would have a fucking field day with that.  But this proud Jew whose European branch of his family was liquidated by those who followed Goebbels will not do what  the anti-semitic white glove, Groton-educated State Department did back then, and ignore echoes of what led to the Holocaust.

Back then even Margaret, William Dodd's 24 year old daughter and former correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, saw reason to blame the Jews for their plight--even after she witnessed a gentile woman marched through the streets of Nuremberg with a shaved head for the crime of being engaged to a Jewish man. 

David you give succor to people like me; we know you're out there and our worldview is corroborated accordingly.  You are an enemy of world peace, or you would be if you did more than sit on your ass in Spain throwing barbs at everyone and everything, especially the Jews who don't fit your definition of what makes a good Jew, while the rest of us try to raise families and make the United States fulfill its potential.

I, like most American Jews, and Israelis for that matter, recognize and  support the rights of Palestinians to their own independent sovereign state in the West Bank and Gaza, with its capital in East Jerusalem.  Others who allegedly feel the same way must understand that they fight a losing battle when they lead with the same anti-semitic tropes that too many of their anti-semitic ancestors have used for centuries.

And it matters not if the racist filth finds itself on a left-wing or right-wing website.  Correction, to me it matters, because I like to think that the American left would not choose to sit idly by and ignore blatant racist filth, even when it's directed at the Jewish People, like my 81 year-old U.S. Navy Veteran father and my Mom, who are just two of the retired Jews in Florida who David accuses, just like Goebbels did, of controlling the United States.

Bruce S. Levine

New York, New York

Bruce, I was very moved by your description of your forebear's grave site. I'm a rootless Anglo myself and cannot experience the sense of family you do. But I can relate to the sense of sacred land. The only times I have felt that was solo back packing in the Esatern Sierra' s where I occasionally had the thought I might be the first one to tread there, or at least the first in a good many centuries. Anyway, that was a stunning recollection and I'm glad you wrote it.  

Thanks Oxy.  I think roots are more fungible than you describe.  Perhaps all you need to do is look down to the ground to see where you and your loved ones have grown and continue to grow.  Best to you.

who are just two of the retired Jews in Florida who David accuses, just like Goebbels did, of controlling the United States.

The AARP does have a rather strong lobby...

Edit to add: I do appreciate you speaking up, and hope that my snark does not suggest otherwise.

Thanks VA, much obliged and understood.

Bruce, you proclaim pride in being a Jew. I absolutely do not criticize, in any way, shape, or fashion, that stance. It does, though, incline me to discuss the concept of pride, as I see it. When I say that I am proud of something I have an underlying meaning to the word “pride" that often seems different than that of many others when they use it.

For me to be proud of something, such as a good accomplishment, I feel that I must have contributed to the good outcome. I may be proud of a house I designed and built but I would be miss-using the word, I believe, if I said I was proud of the way the Cowboys played last Monday night even though I was rooting hard for them to win. Trying to be consistent in the use of the word has led me to use it very rarely.

An obvious example of the problem, as I see it, would be if I were to apply it to the largest group to which I belong. I could say that I am proud to be an American and give many examples of admirable thing which America, as a country, has done, but I don't because most are things which I had nothing to do with and would have been exactly the same had I never existed. I did not choose to become an American because of America's outstanding qualities, I was born one. I have not acted with the idea that my actions were “for America", though I always hope for the best for my country and would be ashamed to do something that deliberately harmed it.

The locus of my intent has always been much closer, much narrower. Pride has an opposite, so if I said I was proud to be an American then, depending on the subject in question, I might sometimes be obligated to say I was ashamed to be an American. I am not, though, ashamed to be an American, but I would certainly not say I am "proud" to be a “white” American, though I am not ashamed of being white either.

Today, there is another weighty example. I am not proud that America, or persons representing America, shamefully targeted and deliberately killed an American citizen as they just did, but this action, by my personal standards, does not make me ashamed of myself unless I fail to voice my objection to that killing. I would also consider myself a shameful sell-out if I were to help the people responsible for that decision maintain their power to continue with such actions.

The only thing I have done that could be described as doing for, and in the name of, and as a representative of, America, is to serve in the U.S. Army and to fairly efficiently, and sometimes enthusiastically, help in the destruction of lives and property in Vietnam. I am not ashamed to have done so but I have matured since being drafted as a nineteen year old. I have more education, more information, more life experience, and, what I consider to be a more evolved conscience.

To defend, from my current perspective, what I, and my country, did back then would be shamefully wrong, IMHO. Since that time, and for a long time now, I, thankfully, have quit hating the Vietnamese, something which I only started doing while in their country giving them reason to hate me. I guess I am a bit proud that I did so because it took a little introspection and a bit of time and effort so that I did get my feelings better aligned with what I now see as reality. At least partly because of this change of heart I did not pass on a prejudice against the Vietnamese, or any other group, to my children. I am also happy of that fact because now I have two beautiful grandchildren, born to a son that I am proud of, and his first generation Vietnamese/American wife. I am also proud that he chose a good woman to fall in love with. So while I am not ashamed of my service, I am certainly not proud of what I participated in forty some odd years ago.

I see Jews, as a group, to have much to be proud of. They have accomplished so much in the various realms including literature, entertainment, journalism, science, you name it, there is much more. Their success in these fields in America, especially in journalism, academics, entertainment, banking and finance, and in other fields in which they accumulated great wealth, which gets wielded as power. This has given them a great deal of influence in the thoughts and actions of our country. I did not say "control", I said influence. So, if I was a Jew I would have to maintain that despite anything I might have done in my own personal life, the group called “Jews” has much to be proud of.

But, again by my own personal standards, there are individual Jews, and some actions by a Jewish controlled government, that are extremely shameful. If making that point and speaking up for the hope that America, the country I want to be deserving of pride but not quite so damned prideful, will stop supporting those elements and actions, which I consider to be shameful, casts me as anti-Semitic in your eyes or in those of anyone else, then so be it. You would be wrong to do so but I feel that sometimes a person is just not in a place to see that they are wrong.

We are both participating at a site where some maintain that the influence of one person, Ralph Nader, is “the” reason that Gore lost the election and where some others bristle at the very idea that Jews have any significant influence in American thought as a whole and its political actions in particular, but that if America does act politically regarding the country which wants to be a Jewish country, that it must do so with complete and unequivocal support for that country’s actions. That is more than a bit ironic but it does inspire conversation.

In regards to Seaton, I have strongly disagreed with him at times, but to take the stand that he has no right to live in Spain and maintain a feeling of connection with, and as, an American, and then to criticize what he sees as wrong actions by America or individual Americans, is, again IMHO, both wrong, and in the case of some, also extremely ironic.

I think that you are wrong to label Seaton “anti-Semitic” or as a "racist" based on what he has said here. It seems that you are attempting to make the correlation of a few words or phrases with those of a monster outweigh his expressed feelings which you so strongly disagree with so as to justify your anger. You should, IMHO, lighten up a bit, but that, and all of the above, is just an opinion. I hope it is an opinion that you will consider offered respectfully, because it is, and also one worth thinking about.

Sorry, that was composed with paragraph breaks.

I threw in a few - let me know if they are terribly wrong.

Thank you Lulu.  If they were all monsters back then, it would have been much easier to detect, and perhaps history would have been different.   But, looking back, it was people just like you and me, and it was elites with soft hands and fine pedigrees then, just as there are elites with soft hands and fine pedigrees now who sit back and wave their finger at those pesty Jews--who would be admitted in to the club if only, x, y, and z (you fill in the blanks).   And, of course, we've been there and done that, and it has NEVER worked out that way.

David is not a monster, but what he says and writes is often racist and anti-semitic.  And I've never been afraid to call that as I see it, despite the rhetoric that is often tossed back, i.e. you Jews think everyone who disagrees with you is an anti-semite.   I don't really care about that criticism; indeed it rolls right off.

Of course, you should understand lulu that in the real world I, like many proud Jews, spend a helluva lot of time criticizing Israel and, in particular, the current right-wing government.  But with folks like David, we never get there, because he keeps rolling in shit, in the mire of racist filth, and G-d willing I will continue to call that as I see it.  

And, finally, David and I are internet friends and colleagues, but the ire reflected in my post is not the result of one comment of his.  This is a man who is relentless in his attacks on the Jewish people who are not out of his own little central casting room for Jews, i.e. including but not limited to Borscht Belt comedians, well-tanned and idealistic kibbutzniks,  and the tattered and beaten remains of more than 1,000 years of a Jewish presence in the European Diasopora.

Jews, like all people, have the right to not live up to everyone's expectations, especially the expectations of those who choose to stereotype, other, and ultimately accuse Jews of being responsible for the deaths of thousands of American boys and girls in the deserts of Iraq, and the mountains of Afghanistan.  It is a heinous strain of humanity that proffers this stuff, and David, unfortunately, shows little sign of differentiating himself from that strain when it comes to the Jewish People.

I know we have trouble over the last couple of years discussing this stuff lulu, but I commend you for continuing to try.  Who knows, maybe we'll see eye to eye one day.

Bruce

Cheers Bruce. I am glad we got that far amicably and I hope we continue to do so going forward.

 Also, thanks to Donal above for his help editing.

"Pay no attention to that man behind the Spanish curtain!"

This is a great piece, and I thank you for writing it.

 

Coatsed, forgive me for bringing your excellent blogpost off topic.  You deserve better.

Bruce, 

It would be absurd to affirm that Jews control the USA. It is not absurd to affirm that a lobby that says it represents them controls US policy in the Middle East. Neither is it absurd to affirm that this control is gravely damaging the USA's wider interests in the world in a way that is detrimental to all Americans... and I would affirm that this is especially damaging to American Jews and many Israelis would affirm that it is fatally damaging to Israel itself.

I also affirm that this is a problem that only the Jewish people themselves, in America and in the rest of the world can address. For some reason this makes me a horrible Goebbels-like antisemite who would advocate rounding up your ancient relatives in Florida.

C'mon Bruce, you can do better than that... put away your magic violin and talk some sense.

David,

You act as if you write in a vacuum, and you don't.  That is one of the costs among the many benefits of blogging at a place like this.  You forget we know each other.  Take that for what it's worth.  

And I'm fully comfortable with what I wrote, David, and I hope people read what I wrote instead of relying upon your flawed representation of what I wrote in your reply.  

Bruce

 

 

You forget we know each other.

Wow, you hear a line like that in Mexico and you shit in your pants.

Funny (not) you take it that way. You really don't see how you do similar with your rhetorics, do you? I.E., American Jews better be careful if they know what's good for them. Not Americans better be careful about supporting Israel if they know what's good for them , but American Jews should be careful about supporting Israel if they know what's good for them. You don't see how your very own rhetoric is the kind that is the reason Israel exists and the reason why some cling to supporting it right or wrong. Even after you were blasted for the same before by such notable AIPAC supporters as quinn and genghis, you still don't correct your rhetoric, you just keep doing it. What can anyone conclude seeing this come from a writer as skilled as you, except that you must have anti-semitic leanings?

Quite the contrary. I am about the most philo-Semitic person you are ever liable to meet and I have been since my earliest childhood, as anyone who has read my blog knows. To top it off I lived and loved in Israel as a young man (skin, lovely skin, in the game) and now as an old man, I am absolutely horrified at the direction that things are taking... and so are many American Jews (see mondoweiss) and many Israelis (see Haaretz). Anyone who has read history, which as Mark Twain said, doesn't repeat itself, but does rhyme, can see some ghastly dynamics at work right now. I feel like bloody Cassandra sometimes.

I've noticed you often do this some my best friends are negroes thing after the fact. It falls flat. If you'd adjust your rhetoric in the first place I think you'd find you get more respect.

Sounds as convincing as... some of my best friends are art appraisers. 

;-)

Touche'. 

Hope you don't mind being out there all alone, bslev. I wouldn't assume others aren't  reading and nodding, more likely it's just Seaton-on-the-Jews fatigue. no

Thanks AA.  I don't think that for a minute with this gaggle of dagbloggers.  We all know David and he's one of our own.  He needs to be slapped on the tush once in awhile, that's all.  

Hey, it's for his own benefit. It tires people out and prevents them from getting to the actual issue--there's all this anti-semitic layer on top that you have to deal with before you can even get to his point. When he was chicken littling about now this is really the end of America because of the UN veto, I thought about commenting--yeah it's depressing how the masses in China, India and Russia are rioting in the streets about the U.S. blocking Palestine's admission to the U.N.  cheeky

I get the same feeling now I got in 2008, when I was warning people that Obama was a fake... I was right then, and I'm afraid I'm right now, but this is much more serious.  Bloody Cassandra, that's me.

The Arab Spring is a "sea change" for US influence in the ME and there are forces at work (energy etc.) that could bring down the dollar.... and that is just the good news.

Israel cannot afford the luxury of being as stupid as the USA can... The USA is so big and so intrinsically rich that it can come back from any disaster, but Israel cannot. The relationship between the two countries is a classic folie à deux.

Here's a little something for those who don't have Jew fatigue:

So that they finally do get fatigued?cool

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