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Tilting at Windmills

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March 17, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE BASE vs. THE SUITS....I'm not entirely sure what E.J. Dionne means in his column today about Russ Feingold's censure motion, and yet somehow it still sounds like an interesting comment on the whole affair:

Democrats, unlike Republicans, have yet to develop a healthy relationship between activists willing to test and expand the conventional limits on political debate and the politicians who have to calculate what works in creating an electoral majority.

For two decades, Republicans have used their idealists, their ideologues and their loudmouths to push the boundaries of discussion to the right. In the best of all worlds, Feingold's strong stand would redefine what's "moderate" and make clear that those challenging the legality of the wiretapping are neither extreme nor soft on terrorism.

That would demand coordination, trust and, yes, calculation involving both the vote-counting politicians and the guardians of principle among the activists. Republicans have mastered this art. Democrats haven't.

Turning a minority into a majority requires both passion and discipline. Bringing the two together requires effective leadership. Does anybody out there know how to play this game?

My guess is that there's a fundamental difference between the parties that Dionne is ignoring. On the Republican side you have lots of establishment figures who want to move the party in a more extreme direction, which makes a partnership with their activist base a pretty natural relationship. For the most part, the conservative base believes that Republican politicians, in their heart of hearts, are on their side, so they're willing to cut them some slack when it comes to practical politics.

On the Democratic side, that's not true. There are very few establishment politicians who actively want to move the party to the left, which means that the activist base quite reasonably doesn't believe that everyone's singing out of the same hymn book. So the dynamics are completely different.

Unless, of course, Dionne is making a completely different point that I missed. Comments?

Kevin Drum 1:07 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (171)

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Comments

I don't think you missed anything, Kevin. Democrats would do well to stay away from pushing the boundaries.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

Behind the conservative crackup that we've been seeing lately is, I think, that the conservative base is becoming less trusting of their leaders, less certain that they share an ideology. If that's right, then it's some confirmation of your observation.

I'm not sure how much activist liberals can work with the established politicians. As Kos says, we may just have to take the party over from them.

Posted by: Michael on March 17, 2006 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

What with Amy telling me I can't be a Democrat unless I go to church, and Kevin telling me that Bush declaring that all our rights are now vested in him isn't serious enough for us to worry about, I'm thinking that this site is some kind of RNC flypaper trap. It lures liberals in, and then completely demoralizes them.

Or have I just made Kevin's point?

Time for bed.

Posted by: craigie on March 17, 2006 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

I do not see what Feingold's resolution had to do being left or right. It is simply about standing up and saying that breaking the law is wrong. Most of the Senate Democrats are afraid to do that. That is why Feingold seems like Gary Cooper in High Noon to alot of us.

Actually the battle is not so much about moving the party as it is about tactics. The establishment tactics have not worked. The politicians are simply not good as politicians.

Posted by: david1234 on March 17, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

craigie:

good one. time for a reality check here. we all need one now and then.

Posted by: sbguy on March 17, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

I think the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats take government seriously and Republicans don't. Republicans are in politics to win, and to enjoy the spoils of victory; Democrats are in politics to try to make a better country.

So whenever Dems go to make a political move, they think, "How will this affect the way the nation is run?" But Republicans simply think, "Will this help me win, or not?"

That's the biggest handicap facing the Democrats, the belief that this stuff matters. If you don't really care what happens to the government and to the polity, it's a lot easier to craft politically viable positions.

Posted by: Boots Day on March 17, 2006 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

Craigie: What are you talking about? I think Feingold is being politically stupid, but that's a purely tactical judgment. You know perfectly well what I think about Bush's opinion that he's the wartime king of the country.

Honestly, people, get a grip. Why do we turn on each other like crazed banshees every time we have a minor disagreement over tactics?

Posted by: Kevin Drum on March 17, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

You're misreading the political atmosphere - Feingold is getting momentum behind this and it's anything but politically stupid. What would you prefer the minority to do?

What I can't figure out from Dionne is what is "healthy" about the relationship between Republican activists and politcians. Maybe "productive" or "tactical" or "astute" or "lucrative", but "healthy"?

Posted by: pebird on March 17, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

"For the most part, the conservative base believes that Republican politicians, in their heart of hearts, are on their side, so they're willing to cut them some slack when it comes to practical politics."

I guess I haven't seen the far Republican Right cutting Republican politicians that much slack. They run aggressive primary challenges against entrenched pols who aren't true believers (Club for Growth and the NRA stand out. Specter has his job by a thread). They drive away a Supreme Court nominee because she's 'nothing more' than a safe rubber stamp vote. The wealthy individual contibutors (3 tax cuts, including dividends and cap gains), drug companies (Medicare drug benefit), credit card companies (bankrupcy 'reform'), and energy companies (Cheney 'task force') get to write their own laws. I guess it isn't clear to me where either the religious right or the major corporate interests are settling for half a loaf.

On the Democratic side, the DLC is forever trying to muzzle the activist base, in its traditional (labor, environmental, women's rights) and netroots guises. We have to accept senate candidates who are anti-abortion. We have to accept the lamest sort of court oversight for Guantanamo detainees, while the Republicans undo hundreds of years of habeas corpus. We can't even get Democratic senators on board for a censure vote against a wiretapping program that hasn't got a fig-leaf's worth of justification. I know that some of this is the fate of a minority party, but the activist Dems are forever being told that they can't even be heard to stand up for any of these values.

No--the Republican right pays the piper, and their politicians dance the tune. Our activists are told to sit down and shut up, but be sure to get out the vote! Dionne is on to something. Activist Republicans took over their political apparatus a while ago. Time for Democratic activists to catch up.

Posted by: WSP on March 17, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

What with Amy telling me I can't be a Democrat unless I go to church, and Kevin telling me that Bush declaring that all our rights are now vested in him isn't serious enough for us to worry about, I'm thinking that this site is some kind of RNC flypaper trap. It lures liberals in, and then completely demoralizes them.

Young fool, only now - at the very end - do you understand.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin - the crazy people on the left are really really crazy. I mean really, really crazy. Ever listen to Mike Malloy on Air America? He calls Bush a 'Facist.' He says Republicans love killing innocent people. He calls Bush, Rumseld and Rice "Nazis.' His rhetoric is shocking. And 99% of his callers agree with him.

Another example of an extreme lefty with a big following: KOS. Demo politicians, from Kerry to Boxer to Kennedy, participate and blog on his site. KOS calls Bush a 'terrorist', has said disparaging things about victims of the insurgents in Iraq, and takes extreme positions.

Sure, there are kooks on the extreme right. Fred Phelps comes to mind. But Fred Phelps has a tiny following, and no GOP politician would ever associate with him.

Mike Malloy and KOS, on the other hand, often have Democrat officeholders participating on their show/blog.

Posted by: Paddy Whack on March 17, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

Pebird: Maybe. We'll see. But I'd be careful about confusing the momentum of the lefty blogosphere for momentum in the outside world.

In any case, I hope you're right and I'm not.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on March 17, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

Dionne seems to be telling the DNC, hey, pay attention to your left; they can bring you to the Promised Land.

The left is not made up of a bunch of wacked-out, pot smoking, bras burning, foaming at the mouth unreasonable souls.

They just want a government that works; and addresses issues of equality for all, like the Constitution promises.

Posted by: Mimi Schaeffer on March 17, 2006 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

What Paddy said.

Posted by: Matt on March 17, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

"The left is not made up of a bunch of wacked-out, pot smoking, bras burning, foaming at the mouth unreasonable souls."

You should get out more often. I listen to Air America and the circle-jerk is disgusting. Same with the comments section here, and on Kos, and DU, etc.. etc...

There is no middle for the Democrats. You have the Loony Echo Chamber, and the pragmatic pols who want to not look like their constituency.

The attacks that Drum regularly suffers in his comments section bears this out.

Posted by: Thug on March 17, 2006 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

The problem is that the Democratic activist base is different than the lefty blogs. There are a lot of keyboard pols who I'm not convinced have ever gone out and canvassed thousands of voters during an election. That changed my perspective a lot and the most active in the party where I live (Silicon Valley), even if they are extremely liberal don't threaten to bolt the Party for any disagreement.

I don't want the Democrats to mirror the GOP. The strict party discipline of the GOP leads to the current excesses and policy disasters. I enjoy a healthy debate and disagreement and think it helps lead to better decision making. If the Dems became a left-wing GOP like Kos and other bloggers want to make it, I'd bolt. Demanding complete loyalty on every issue scares the hell out of me.

Posted by: gq on March 17, 2006 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Those who are bothered by what they call the echo chamber and the circle jerk of Air America should listen to Michael Savage and Hannity and Rush and OReilly.

If it is ok for the Republican senators to refer to their democrats as aiding the enemy, I don't think some unknown Air America host's characterization of Bush as an extreme right ideologue should be the source any concern to anyone.

Posted by: lib on March 17, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

Ya. Dionne is looking from the outside at the process, not the topography. Bread and Butter Dems haven't been moving left for years, since the last street protestors were marching en masse.

There is always the tension between what keeps them in power --corporate money-- and their professed political philosophy --progressive liberalism.

Liberal ideas are inherent in the Constitution. Corporate driven politics is anitithetical to that. It requires a torrent to move that mountain.

Economic depression - WWII - Dr Martin Luther King - Vietnam ... an inept President hell bent on ruining the country by a myriad of miscalculations executed with aggressive ignorance?

Posted by: ww on March 17, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

There is no middle for the Democrats. You have the Loony Echo Chamber, and the pragmatic pols who want to not look like their constituency.

That's not true. I'm pragmatic, but have several principles that I will not tolerate without screaming and complaining to the politicos I know. But I'm not a left-wing blogger--I rarely go to their sites anymore because it makes me ill (as do the comments to Amy's posts).

I also work with the real party activists. As I said above, some are Dean liberals and even further left. But they are also Democrats. They don't threaten to bolt the Party or beat up on people who they disagree with. I don't know how many keyboard activists really know what it's like to do the work required to win elections. Frankly, having participated in many campaings/elections, the Dems problem isn't "Framing" or whatever the keyboard consultants say, it's the fact that not enough Dems are getting out and talking to people--beyond the f-ing blogs. The GOP has made that a habit and is responsible for a large part of their successful marketing.

Plus, Kerry and Gore ran HORRIBLE campaigns. We didn't do our homework. Did you know that in Florida the GOP was doing outreach from 2001 onwards. Dems showed up around August of 2004. That's why we lost. We didn't show up in Ohio until late in the year--and most of the people were from out of state. It's no freakin secret why Dems lost. Most are lazy--or have to work two jobs.

Posted by: gq on March 17, 2006 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

#1. The "activist" wing of the Democratic party isn't very much further to the left than our good host. They're just more...active..really.

#2. This is not about ideology. This is about power. The powers that be don't want to give it up, give the netroots power because they know that once they do the gigs up, things will be decentralized, and they'll be out of jobs.

#3. DailyKos, I think we can all agree, is the most promiment liberal site focused on political victory. EVEN THAT SITE has a fair bit of wonkery behind it. In fact, I pretty much ignore the political stuff in favor of it, and it's still a must read for me. There's no monolithic netroots that's trying to put forward a single agenda, a single set of ideas that must be done or OMG FTL DOODZ. What there is, is a lot of people who see that the status quo just isn't working, and want to open the doors to fresh, new ideas.

Posted by: Karmakin on March 17, 2006 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: Unless, of course, Dionne is making a completely different point that I missed.

I don't know what you may have missed in Dionne's column because I find it rather vague. But you have missed something important, which is evident in this remark of yours:
On the Republican side you have lots of establishment figures who want to move the party in a more extreme direction, which makes a partnership with their activist base a pretty natural relationship.

Want to move the party in a more extreme direction? What you and probably Dionne and so many others don't seem to understand is that they have moved, not only the party, but the entire country and even the world in a more extreme direction. Everyone talks about the movement, about how we must be careful not to go to far, and about how we're heading in a dangerous direction. What's missing is the assertion of our arrival at their intended destination: a fundamental loss of democracy. Yes, they want to institutionalize the changes even more. However, any fair reading of what they've accomplished would recognize the fact of our basic loss of any meaningful form of representative government. There can be no confidence that votes are even counted, much less that they direct politicians to follow the people's will. The system, always ridden with spotty corruption, has become rotten to the core. Meanwhile, people like you and Dionne are busy debating whether political games and theater are being used effectively to party advantage. All such games are to the disadvantage of the people, unless they are already advantaged. Until that simple fact is seen as the basis for a complete makeover of the current system, we shall slide ever further toward the eventual outcome of totalitarianism: extreme poverty, widespread unrest, revolution.

But, hey, Feingold shoulda played it smarter, huh?


Posted by: jayarbee on March 17, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

paddy -

Are you saying the most extreme people on the left are as extreme as the most extreme on the right? Oh goodness, goodness me, whatever will we do! The sky is falling!

Posted by: matt on March 17, 2006 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

The much-deserved indignities continue for President Bush. Just a day after a host of new opinion polls put the President's approval rating as low as 33%, Bush suffered a devastating blow from one of his core constituencies. George W. Bush is losing the cracker vote.

For the full story, see:
"Bush Losing the Cracker Vote."

Posted by: AvengingAngel on March 17, 2006 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

The problem that Dionne does not face up to is that the activist Republican base pretty squarely reflects the majority of American voters, whereas the activist Democrat base is out of sync with the majority of American voters. :) The liberal activist Denocrat base has disdain and contempt for the average American. :) But the typical average American feeks the same way towards the leftist liberals. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 17, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

jaya,
I don't know many people that don't think the GOP has moved the country to the right. What Kevin suggests is that the right fringe wants to go further and many GOP power holders do also.

People who don't know that there are games in politics probably need to spend more time thinking about governments. All forms of government, save authoritarian ones have games that are played. If you don't know the rules of the game, then you are going to lose. It's the same in the corporate and academic worlds. In all bureaucracies you need to learn how to play the game to be effective. You can't judge a politician on a handful of votes. Those votes often serve other roles (and in some huge bills a person's most important value may have been thrown in: I'd happily fund public displays of the Ten Commandments in EVERY courthouse if the bill would significantly reduce global poverty. To me starving and dying children would be more important than offending some people who are most likely affluent.)

I'd recommend Paul Wellstone's book to people. He was progressive and few can deny that. But he also talks about the games that often need to be played. You can be noncompromising on everything but in the end, you'll probably be ineffective. I care more about results. And last time I checked, Kos et al have poor results (e.g. Ciro Rodriguez and Howard Dean).

Posted by: gq on March 17, 2006 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK


THUG: The attacks that Drum regularly suffers in his comments section bears this out.

Whereas the support he regularly receives from interloping trolls bears out their innate compassion and altruistic nature, right?


Posted by: jayarbee on March 17, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

"why do we turn on each other...?". That's kind of easy to explain, Kevin. There is a certain amount of immaturity inherent in today's liberals. This can be seen in the immediate use of personal insults, and overly emotional outbursts instead of intelligent replies, as noted by even a liberal poster like "glasnost". :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 17, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

Tymbrimi - way to be pollution.

Posted by: matt on March 17, 2006 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: I think Feingold is being politically stupid, but that's a purely tactical judgment.

Purely tactical, eh? Funny then how, to me, "transparently faux-naive" and "I'm not impressed either with Feingold's sincerity" sound rather more like moral judgments.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 17, 2006 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

Too much focus on the personal for my taste. I don't see censuring or impeaching Bush as far left. It's merely a personal attack, which may be justified, or may not.

To me, far left means policies that affect the populace, like universal health care or withdrawing from Iraq. Similary, far right doesn't mean ragging on Ted Kennedy for Chappaquiddick. It means policies like eliminating the Dept. of Education or overturing Roe v. Wade.

Posted by: David on March 17, 2006 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

Funny then how, to me, "transparently faux-naive" and "I'm not impressed either with Feingold's sincerity" sound rather more like moral judgments.

Then you should make more pains to understand what you're reading. The problem here isn't on Kevin's side, but yours.

Posted by: Michael on March 17, 2006 at 3:21 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a question for you, craigie: Why are you such a little bitch?

You have serious problems with your sense of entitlement. You have implicitly claimed time and again the others are morally obligated to blog about what you want them to blog about, and to not blog about what you don't want them to blog about.

And if other's don't concede this viewpoint, if they don't concede that you are the power which guides their blogging, you whine. endlessly.

You are basically a troll. You have no respect for the bloggers, and never seem to make a substantive point or criticisim. The only function you serve is a time-waste as other comment-readers scan past your latest bitchy, overly-entitled whine.

Posted by: Michael on March 17, 2006 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

Once More Unto the Breach
The Angry Left takes on a moderate Democrat--and loses.

BY JONATHAN GURWITZ
Thursday, March 16, 2006 12:01 a.m.

SAN ANTONIO--More than one political venture has met an unseemly end in the hardscrabble landscape of South Texas. It was here, in 1948, that Box 13 gave Lyndon Johnson a dubious 87-vote primary victory, crushing former Gov. Coke Stevenson's Senate aspirations. It was here, two years ago, that a bitter primary fight for a House seat shattered a friendship between two Hispanic Democrats. And it was here, this month, in a rematch of that contest, that a blogger-led quest to defeat a mainstream Democrat and drive the party further to the left smashed head-on into the realities of local politics.
One figure in that contest was Henry Cuellar, a centrist Democratic lawmaker from Laredo. He'd figured prominently in the Republican Party's outreach to Texas Hispanics; he crossed party lines in 2000 to support then-Gov. George Bush's presidential candidacy and later served as secretary of state for Mr. Bush's successor, Rick Perry. That didn't prevent Mr. Cuellar, however, from running a highly competitive race in 2002 against GOP incumbent Henry Bonilla for the District 23 congressional seat. Mr. Cuellar received crucial support from Texas Democrats, including long-time friend Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio, the incumbent in neighboring District 28.

Part of Tom DeLay's notorious Texas redistricting in 2003 sought to shore up Mr. Bonilla, the only Hispanic Republican in the state's congressional delegation. The controversial map, now under Supreme Court review, lopped off Laredo from District 23, moving it and Mr. Cuellar into District 28, which now reaches from the outskirts of Austin in the north, through parts of San Antonio to Laredo and a stretch along the Rio Grande. Its residents, largely rural, Hispanic and poor, characteristically are hardworking traditionalists.

In 2004, Mr. Cuellar made the difficult decision to challenge his old friend, Mr. Rodriguez, a decision many Democrats regarded as an act of betrayal. Mr. Cuellar capitalized on his San Antonio opponent's detachment from the southern part of the district; an anemic campaign by the incumbent, whom Cuellar supporters referred to as "Zero" Rodriguez, made the primary extremely close. The initial results showed the incumbent with a 145-vote victory. But two contentious recounts produced previously undiscovered votes for Mr. Cuellar in two border counties, including his own Webb County. After five months of controversy and legal challenges that ended at the Texas Supreme Court, Mr. Cuellar emerged with a primary victory by a margin of 58 votes out of 50,000 cast district wide. He went on to win the general election with 59% of the vote.
Once in Washington, Mr. Cuellar continued to display the independence and bipartisanship that had distinguished him in Texas. He is among a handful of Democrats who voted for repealing the estate tax, against meritless lawsuits and for the Central American Free Trade Agreement--a vote that made perfect sense to the son of a city that has enjoyed an economic boom from free trade. But what made perfect sense in Laredo was merely more evidence of his perfidy to Democrats who hadn't forgiven him for taking down Mr. Rodriguez. Where Mr. Rodriguez's legal fight against the results of the 2004 primary ended, his campaign to regain his old House seat in 2006 began.

The campaign was long on sentiment but short on funds. By the end of December, Mr. Rodriguez had raised only $170,000 to Mr. Cuellar's $655,000. Then, in January, the conservative Club for Growth endorsed Mr. Cuellar, its first ever Democratic endorsement. And as President Bush entered the House chamber for the State of the Union address, cameras captured his hearty embrace of Mr. Cuellar. The endorsement and the image were widely disseminated, igniting a nationwide liberal campaign to defeat Mr. Cuellar. Influential bloggers Markos "Kos" Moulitsas and Duncan "Atrios" Black led the charge, joined by kindred Web sites. As much as $500,000 poured into Mr. Rodriguez's coffers during the final six weeks of electioneering. Liberals touted the effort as the ultimate mobilization of the "netroots"--the indomitable synthesis of grassroots organization with digital potency.

In the March 7 primary, Mr. Cuellar won with 53% of the vote to Mr. Rodriguez's 41% (a third candidate taking the rest). He increased his margin of victory over Mr. Rodriguez in 2004 in 10 out of 11 counties, besting his principal opponent by nearly 5,600 votes--despite the efforts of the netroots activists. "A lot of energy and money was wasted in the Democratic primary that could have been used to defeat Republicans in November," says Colin Strother, a general consultant for Mr. Cuellar's campaign. "The netroots people took their eyes off the ball--taking the House back from the Republicans," he says. "They only knew one picture . . They knew nothing about the district."

Blogger Moulitsas is unapologetic. "So we didn't kill off Cuellar," he wrote in an entry on his blog, "but we gave him an [black] whooping where none was expected and made him sweat. That's the reason why Lieberman is sweating in Connecticut," referring to another netroots challenge against another centrist Democrat.

So far, threats like these seem the best the Angry Left can muster. They now have a disastrous 0-17 record stretching back to 2004. The netroots leaders resemble nothing so much as World War I commanders, who after each successive setback maintained that victory was tantalizingly close, and lobbed more artillery shells and threw more troops over the top. Similarly among the netroots, the article of faith is that victory is only a matter of trying harder, upping the rhetoric and raising more money.

Despite the lack of tangible electoral results, the netroots effort could have a devastating effect on the increasingly thin ranks of moderates within the Democratic Party. Mr. Cuellar suggests his victory should force party agitators to rethink an ideological agenda that pits so-called progressive yet marginal candidates against mainstream Democrats. "This little election," he observes, "has repercussions for the Democratic Party."
Mr. Cuellar remains unfazed by the netroots intimidation. "People ask me, 'Are you gonna change, did this scare you?' No. I don't mind bucking the system if it's the right thing for the district." Whether Democrats will tolerate such independent thinking is the great challenge facing their party.

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 17, 2006 at 3:37 AM | PERMALINK

There was a time when the Democrats had an automatic base in the labor unions, and the Republicans did not have an automatic base in the religious fundamentalists or the rednecks. This situation has been reversed. By moving to the right in matters like gays, abortion, and "national security" the Republicans are throwing red meat to their automatic constituencies, and are bringing out the vote on election day. But the unions no longer deliver votes on election day. Many of the remaining union members are rednecks who care more about pulling triggers or bashing gays than their own retirement benefits. Moving to the left will not help Democrats unless they learn how to define the terms of the debate. A charismatic, aggressive Democratic leader who would go out on a limb and shake people up about what happens to them when they retire, what happens to their children who will inherit all this debt but no pensions, who makes a battle out of this, could have an effect. But there are no such Democratic leaders on the horizon.

Posted by: JS on March 17, 2006 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK


MICHAEL: Then you should make more pains to understand what you're reading.

Uh, Mikey? People don't make pains, they make doo-doo -- as you just did.
MICHAEL: The problem here isn't on Kevin's side, but yours.

Well, with you on his side, I'd say he's got a big problem. As for me, ignored and ineffective as it often is, I do have the truth on my side.

Now, did you understand what you just read? Didn't think so. So why don't you go make a nap.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 17, 2006 at 3:57 AM | PERMALINK

"why do we turn on each other...?". That's kind of easy to explain, Kevin. There is a certain amount of immaturity inherent in today's liberals. This can be seen in the immediate use of personal insults, and overly emotional outbursts instead of intelligent replies, as noted by even a liberal poster like "glasnost". :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 17, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: I think Feingold is being politically stupid, but that's a purely tactical judgment.


As a "tactical judgment" this is bizarre. Feingold is in a field of what, a dozen potential Dem candidates? Isn't half the D caucus in the Senate running?

He doesn't have the name recognition or some of the natural assets of the others in the race, and yet not only is he taking it to Bush directly he is simultaneously differentiating himself from the rest of the field and ON A SHOESTRING.

I'll debate the substance of his effort another time, but I don't think this is a left-moderate-right issue or one of ideology, so much as bloody smart TACTICAL presidential politics. And he's done it not once, but twice in the last few months: remember him leading the opposition to the knee-jerk renewal of the Patriot Act?

This is now the second time he's put himself at the center of national politics while his rivals are caught flat-footed and (literally) speechless. We're talking about Feingold, not Clinton, not the risible Biden, not the General, not Kerry, not Gore, not... How do you spell "name recognition"?

Still talking tactics: remember the first rule of Rovian politics: you don't go after your opponent's weaknesses (where, god willing, you are already beating him), you neutralize his strengths (where he is beating you). If we don't find a way to undermine the R's credibility in the fight on terrorism, we repeat 2002 and 2004. One important strand of that is to develop the continuous refrain that fundamentally the Rs are lawbreakers, dishonest, and a threat to both our security and our liberties. This has the merit, by the way, of being 100% true! And by contrast that you can be tough and legal at the same time.

Upthread someone made the illusion to Gary Cooper. Not altogether inappropriate, image-wise (and remember, High Noon was a liberal moral parable about the witch-hunts). If presidential aspirants have to engage in developing their public iconography, you could do worse!

Remember also that Feingold survives in a purple state, where Gore won in 2000 by 13,000 votes, and Kerry in 2004 by even less. Me, living in a comfortable blue state, I think the guy's worth listening to about what resonates in the heartland.

Posted by: Friend of labor on March 17, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

Feingold for President! A Republican dream. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 17, 2006 at 4:28 AM | PERMALINK

"There are very few establishment politicians who actively want to move the party to the left"
I don't think that quite true Im sure a lot of the liberals in the leadership such as minority leader Pelosi want the party to move at least a couple steps to the left.

Posted by: rtaycher1987 on March 17, 2006 at 4:38 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin--

It's not moving to the left that we're talking about. It really isn't. It's about standing up and speaking the truth. The only way to stop McCarthyism is to stand up, grab hold of the podium and renounce it. In the strongest possible terms.

It's true that authoritarian elements on the right are using this trumped up permanent state of war thing. But that doesn't mean opposing authoritarian attacks on the Constitution is a left wing position. It's not. Hamilton would be on our side. Hell, I think John Adams would be on our side.

The President is breaking the law and spying on people. That simply can't be permitted. It's a position that is certain to win out once it's repeated a few times, accompanied by the statement that the President is lying when he says this is about watching our enemies.

This is running against Washington for heavens sake. This is right out of the Goldwater playbook. There is nothing strategically or tactically wrong about pursuing this. But, frankly, that doesn't matter. I can't tell whether Feingold is grandstanding or standing up for principle, because he'd be saying the same things in either case.

But I do know that he is saying the right things, and I'll take that over cowering in a corner because Karl Rove might call you a traitor.

Posted by: jayackroyd on March 17, 2006 at 4:39 AM | PERMALINK

Feingold for President! A Republican dream. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 17, 2006 at 4:28 AM | PERMALINK

So this is an example of the "intelligent replies" you were wishing for just upthread?

Posted by: Friend of labor on March 17, 2006 at 4:52 AM | PERMALINK

are we immature? no.
are we pissed? yes
a lot of the social programs we thought were so obviously good and self evident were trashed by Regan. Instead of being the good guys suddenyl we're cast as the evil shits. Certainly takes the joy out of life.
Dionne said that the R voters think that the Repub politicos "are on their side". Most of what we advance as liberals is not directly beneficial to us. Since Ronnie, the R voters are far more likely to be driven by self interest and so are far less interested in who screws who just so long as I get mine.
What would Dionne has us do? Drop our support of reproductive rights? Drop support for equality?
'fraid we are going to have to step up to the plate and take the heat.
I'll take the lack of frontpage blitz about Feingold as a realization that the censure motion is far more likely to pass than we think.

Posted by: wisedup on March 17, 2006 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

Uh, Mikey? People don't make pains, they make doo-doo -- as you just did.

For fuck's sake - are you serious? It's a common expression, and perfectly sensible. You're seriously objecting to it? Jesus christ.

Well, with you on his side, I'd say he's got a big problem.

Please, this is just a petty personal attack. There's no substance. Besides, why write this? Maybe if makes you feel better, but it doesn't convince anyone else of anything. Do you envisioin that I'm suddenly going to think, "gee, I hadn't thought of that! jay's right!" Or that I'm actually going to be insulted? Or maybe you just weren't thinking. I don't know specifically why you would right that, but I know that whatever that reason is, it's not a good reason.

As for me, ignored and ineffective as it often is, I do have the truth on my side.

Why? because you assert that you do? That proves nothing.

Now, did you understand what you just read?

Since you wrote nothing of substance, there was really nothing to understand.

Look, you asserted that Kevin was making moral judgments, and was falsely claiming that he was only making tactical judgments. Alright, this problem with your comment is really simple: The judgment which Kevin called tactical is a different claim than either of the two claims you brought up as evidence of moral judgments.

Posted by: Michael on March 17, 2006 at 5:07 AM | PERMALINK

Funny,

I just would like to know, when did standing up for the rule of law and demanding accountable from the executive branch become leftist.

I'm a liberal, I'm not a leftist.

Posted by: David Helms on March 17, 2006 at 5:27 AM | PERMALINK

There's an implication in that excerpt from Dionne that Republicans have effective leaders. I don't think so. They behave more like a mob responding to someone in the front shouting "let's burn the monster."

They haven't achieved any particular principle of any ideology let alone a conservative philosophy. They're just a lot of noise and heat and the results of their mayhem is chaotic corruption of decent society.

Democrats of various stripes represent principles to be achieved thru negotiation not primal fear.

Posted by: dennisS on March 17, 2006 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

If democrats can't formulate a reasonable plan and follow through with it, then we're in serious trouble aren't we? We shouldn't have to be unthinking 'bots, but getting behind our leaders on big issues is essential.

BTW, I like Greenwald's take on the move to censure Mr. Above the Law. Giving him a pass because "the terrorists made him do it" is getting seriously out of control.

Posted by: Psyberian on March 17, 2006 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK
MICHAEL: For fuck's sake - are you serious? It's a common expression, and perfectly sensible. You're seriously objecting to it? Jesus christ.
For the sake of fuck, I'm always serious. Of course, when I resort to terms like "doo-doo," it's usually because I want to give someone some shit.

On the other hand, "make pains," while possibly passably (certainly not "perfectly") sensible, is anything but a common expression, as a dictionary or even a Google search will affirm. So, no, I don't seriously object to it, nor to Jesus christ, jesus Christ, christ Jesus, Christ jesus--not even to jesus Fucking christ, for fuck's sake.

MICHAEL: Please, this is just a petty personal attack. There's no substance. Besides, why write this? Maybe if makes you feel better, but it doesn't convince anyone else of anything. Do you envisioin that I'm suddenly going to think, "gee, I hadn't thought of that! jay's right!" Or that I'm actually going to be insulted? Or maybe you just weren't thinking. I don't know specifically why you would right that, but I know that whatever that reason is, it's not a good reason.

Whew! Where to start? Tell me . . . do you know generally why I would right that? I think it's my duty to right wrongs. At any rate, I don't see the need to convince anyone of anything because, well, please, you've taken care of that.
MICHAEL: Why? because you assert that you do? That proves nothing.

I deal in self-evident truths.
MICHAEL: Look, you asserted that Kevin was making moral judgments, and was falsely claiming that he was only making tactical judgments. Alright, this problem with your comment is really simple: The judgment which Kevin called tactical is a different claim than either of the two claims you brought up as evidence of moral judgments.

Huh? You lost me at "really simple." This distinction you're drawing exists where exactly? All of Kevin's remarks about Feingold over the past couple of days have been centered on the senator's censure resolution. My short post regarding Kevin's claim that he was judging Feingold "purely" on his tactics included irrefutable evidence to the contrary, no matter your incoherent refutation.

Now, I'll take you at your word that, despite your extended response to my remarks, you did not feel insulted by them; but I find you most insulting, if only laughably so. If it helps, why don't you make pains not to read my comments (I know, it hurts). And for fuck's sake (or Kevin's), leave to others the task of defending our host. Even Al and cn, deranged and deluded beyond hope, are better equipped.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 17, 2006 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

When we impeach a President for a blow job less than 10 years ago Kevin, don't you feel the disconnect when a "you are a bad boy" letter to Bush for urinating on the constitution is seemed to be an extremist position?

The mind boggles.

Posted by: trifecta on March 17, 2006 at 7:31 AM | PERMALINK

As I have commented many times, Democrats have a bigger tent and a broader constituency. However, Dionne's last paragraph nails it - the Dems need passion AND leadership. I can't think of too many Democrats at the current time who have both, other than Bill Clinton, who is in semi-retirement and greedily taking consulting fees from Dubai (which feeds into his legacy of personal moral bankruptcy). If Barack Obama finds some balls to get passionate, look out. He could be the first black president. But, sadly, I expect he will be the target of right-wing assasins, just like JFK, RFK and MLK. Which highlights the biggest difference between the two parties - the Democrats want to talk their enemies to death. Republicans will just resort to murder.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 17, 2006 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

I've heard this before, but it is worth repeating: Democrats are good at governing and Republicans are good at politics. The exception, of course, was my man Bill. Republicans rarely show the cracks in their armor. Even this latest show of defiance against the president was done only so congressional members could distance themselves from the president before the upcoming election--I'm not altogether certain Rove didn't arrange it. Does it suck that their corruption, incomptence, evil does nothing to dissuade their base or the supposed moderates among them? Yes. Should Democrats learn to play more like Republicans? Maybe. At the very least the party, my party, should find its voice, find some discipline, find a message, find a leader that isn't a buffoon (sorry Howard), and realize that they are in the business of winning elections. I personally believe that they should forcefully stand up to the Repubs on the national security issue...like Mr. Hackett, like Mr. Feingold, whose only problem, politically, was not, maybe, feeling out the rest of his party before making the motion. It was a fine thing to do and the right thing to do, but it was politically risky and probably will hurt more than it will help.

One more thing...I'm tired of here that the far left is the base of the Democratic Party. They are until Nader is running. That is the difference between our "base" and the wingnut base who aren't so easily swayed to defect. Bravo the post above..."liberal but not leftist."

Posted by: Alfie Paul on March 17, 2006 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

here was supposed to be hearing....no coffee yet.

Posted by: Alfie Paul on March 17, 2006 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

aHAH! This was the WHOLE basis of my reaction to Ogged's & Sullivan's rather off-base (pardon the pun) postings that the 'knee-jerk liberal Left' should somehow 'get religion"!

The activist 'left' is both profoundly conservative in many ways, and also devoutly religious.

Civil Rights and a woman's right to choose was established, in very large part, because men and women of faith -- Democrats, Catholics, every Protestant denomination (& Jewish) pushed boundaries and forced their political leaders into uncomfortable postions. (Which, by the way, is only what Feingold did.)

So it's the Dem Party leaders that have the work to do in 'getting religion,' in increasing voter turnout by including more of their base -- who are NOT "Left" or extreme, by the way, but more accurately base their politics on an adherence to Christian and conservative social values.

Instead of highlighting those conservative and patriotic values held by the so-called 'left,' Dem Party leaders treat them like lepers.

Point is, the work to be done, the improvement in attitude, the adoption of realism and effective strategy -- that has to be done by the Party leadership -- not the wrongly named 'left.'

Democrats, unlike Republicans, have yet to develop a healthy relationship between activists willing to test and expand the conventional limits on political debate and the politicians who have to calculate what works in creating an electoral majority.

For two decades, Republicans have used their idealists, their ideologues and their loudmouths to push the boundaries of discussion to the right. In the best of all worlds, Feingold's strong stand would redefine what's "moderate" and make clear that those challenging the legality of the wiretapping are neither extreme nor soft on terrorism.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 17, 2006 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

I think the key to Dionne's column are the phrases "two decades" and "vote counting". In the 80's the Democratic party adopted a strategy to win back Reagan Democrats, or swing voters, built around historical precinct election results. The idea was that if we could adequately target, persuade and motivate Democratic swing voters we would win. This worked while Democrats were still the majority of the electorate, but only as a holding action.

Now that Republicans have achieved parity on party id the strategy has become a trap. Relying almost exclusively on historical results is profoundly conservative and backward-looking. But because it was so effective for Democratic incumbents it has become part of the culture of Democratic campaigns.

While the Democrats were focused on conserving their base the Republicans focused on peeling off slices of Democrats. They reached into segments of the Democratic electorate and persuaded them to become Republicans.

Activist Democrats who want to reach beyond the Democratic electorate, many of whom are former Republicans, and maverick Democratic politicians won't get any traction in the Party until candidates see that they can win by reaching beyond the traditional Democratic electorate. Democratic candidates have to move beyond trying to figure out what their voters want to hear and begin identifying voters who are sympathetic to fundamental Democratic values.

Posted by: tib on March 17, 2006 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Neither the left nor the right, the liberals nor the conservatives, the Democrats nor the Republicans have the answers to what ails the world. To compare the Dems to the Repubs just doesn't matter and any analysis based on that comparison is likely to lead to results just as bad as we are getting from the Republicans. We are jammed so tightly into the box that it is difficult to imagine what thinking might get us outside. So far, neither side nor the middle of this political amalgam offers us any promise or hope of ever escaping our intractable problems posed by not having found our place on earth, living like there is no tomorrow, and viewing growth as a panacea for all. On the big matters both sides of the coin look about the same to me. The Repubs will just get us to hell faster.

Posted by: lou on March 17, 2006 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a question for you, craigie: Why are you such a little bitch?

You are basically a troll. You have no respect for the bloggers, and never seem to make a substantive point or criticisim. The only function you serve is a time-waste as other comment-readers scan past your latest bitchy, overly-entitled whine.

Oh my. This is the best comment I've read on any blog in a long time. It's a valid question: why is craigie such a little bitch?

Craigie and the others in his peanut gallery aren't "basically" trolls. They are trolls, plain and simple. Their comments are as smug and content-free as Al's. Like good trolls everywhere, they skip right past the substantive point any blogger is trying to make, and hone in on whatever phrase fails their ideological purity test.

But more than the content of their comments, it's the tone that's so insufferable. Reading their rants, I get the overwhelming and depressing sense that craigie and the others enjoy being politically powerless. If they weren't, what would they have to complain about?

Given that every single post on this site elicits one or more comments, on average, from craigie, I've often wondered: why doesn't he just set up his own shadow blog? There he can post away to his heart's content, declaiming the stupidity of all who disagree...

Posted by: I love trolls on March 17, 2006 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

The Democrats are a party walking backwards into the future, leading the public through yesterday's polls rather than seizing tomorrow's territory.

With so many Republican scandals on simmer it is pathetic that the Democrats are so timid.

Posted by: jerry on March 17, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Dionne's column doe not stand alone. The last few days or so there have been several other similar attempts to calm the rabble so the "leaders" can pursue some sort of rope a dope strategy. The plan seems to be to let the Republicans continue making mistake after mistake and the leaders will benefit without lifting a finger. The problem with the apparent plan is that we folks who live outside the beltway are upset by the "leaders" apparent acceptance of Republican screwup stacked on Republican power grab stacked on Republican screwup. We kinda want our "leaders" to, you know, lead. Well, the voices in the "rabble" are saying things like we are sick to death of (name your favorite beltway Democrat) sitting on his hands. We want somebody willing to lead. This makes the "leaders" nervous. They don't know what to do. Should they, you know, lead or should they continue watching the Republicans self destruct. Watching the Republicans self destruct is easier than actually standing for something but not leading runs the risk of the rank and file going someplace else. The "leaders" have apparently decided to try to quell the voices in the crowd. Hence the positions taken by Dionne and the others (Ed Kilgore comes to mind).

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 17, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

The Dems are in a rebuilding mode at this point. We had a run in the '90s that was one of those really impressive long runs by a team that didn't actually have the dominant talent to be a championship team, but somehow managed to make it work anyway. We almost never had Congress and the Supreme Court picks were hamstrung by insane GOP opposition and once you dropped down below the level of the Big Dog the talent was pretty thin, but somehow Clinton through sheer individual brilliance pulled out two terms, two years of budget surpluses, universal goodwill towards Americans (outside the Arab world), and so forth. They were the kind of good years that you don't treasure enough while they're happening, because you're always thinking: if we just had the House...if we just had one dominant reliever...

Now the talent from those teams is gone or in decline, and we're putting together the new one. There're some promising farm-team prospects, but they're not quite there yet - Obama, mainly. The issues are still kind of gelling, and they haven't yet come to be instinctively identified with Democrats. And the advent of the netroots has yet to be incorporated thoroughly into the party; and that's where the dynamism is going to come from to drive the next generation of Democratic politicians.

It's not surprising that in this mushy rebuilding period, the quality of leadership is disappointing. It's going to be a little while before a new cadre emerges from this mess. In the meantime, savaging the Democratic leadership because it's not full of Bobby Kennedys is just a ridiculous thing to do. The point here is that the President ought to be censured for breaking the law, and Russ Feingold did good by bringing the measure. And that's all anybody really needs to say about it.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 17, 2006 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, I must've missed where craigie got under the trolletariat's skin. He's obviously on to something right.

why doesn't he just set up his own shadow blog?

Because y'know, it might make more sense commenting here with a direct reply to Kevin's post. If you don't like reading craigie's stuff, there's this remarkable invention we like to call the 'scroll bar'.

By the by, where's your blog, Mr. Anonymous?

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on March 17, 2006 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Kevin, I think the basic point of Dionnes column is evident from the following sentence, In the best of all worlds, Feingold's strong stand would redefine what's "moderate" and make clear that those challenging the legality of the wiretapping are neither extreme nor soft on terrorism. I am a democratic voter. I am not a suit. I worked in the Iowa caucuses to support John Edwards. I dont know if that makes me the base (although I note that Edwards and Kerry, collectively, won 70 percent of the caucus vote . . . and caucus voters are pretty clearly base voters). Am I concerned that the Bush administration is extraordinarily autocratic and secretive? Do I believe that no President should have carte blanche authority to undertake unwarranted wiretapping or monitoring of electronic communications. You bet. But I am also concerned that Al Qaeda (or another like-minded group) is plotting to launch another September 11th scale attack on some target or targets in the United States. If and when that happens there will be more calls to curtail civil liberties, and they will be hard to resist. I do not what that to happen. Moreover, the radically illiberal goals of Al Qaeda (anti-womens rights, anti-gay, anti-freedom of speech, pro-theocracy) are not goals I, as a democrat, share. Therefore, democrats need to make it crystal clear that they recognize the need to take effective steps to discover and thwart such plots and capture and punish the plotters. Democrats need to make it crystal clear that they recognize the need to monitor the communications of such plotters. Democrats need to make it crystal clear that they are willing to work collaboratively to create ways to monitor potentially relevant communications, but that such programs must maintain judicial oversight and safeguards that will prevent abuse of individual civil liberties or use of the system for purposes other than those for which it is intended. Democrats need to make it crystal clear any president, Republican or Democrat, needs the tools necessary to defend our country from terrorist plots, but than no President, Republican or Democrat, should be trusted to create and use such tools without proper judicial oversight and review. If that is hammered home every time this issue is discussed then it drives home the reluctance of the President and the Republican party to develop a reasonable and constitutional balance between protecting our country from terrorist attacks and protecting every American from unwarranted searches and possible misuse of information gained through such searches.

Posted by: jeff on March 17, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Over the last 12-13 years I've decided that there's very few liberal politicians anymore. The Democratic Party became a home for flacks, hacks, and Republicans who live in traditional Democratic strongholds. As a result, there's damn few Democrats who feel the urge to take important stands. As for stands based upon ideas and ideals, forget about it. Most of our Democratic flacks and hacks are either blackmailable (and are actively being blackmailed by Republicans) or are so venal that they have no interest beyond sitting in their cozy offices and banging their office help. They have no desire for higher office and certainly no desire for notoriety and no use for principle. It's the best of all possible scenarios for the development of the worst of all political dilemmas: threats to our politicial structures.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 17, 2006 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: "There are very few establishment politicians who actively want to move the party to the left..."

I'd like to provide a proof for this observation...

Only ONE democratic candidate in 2004 consistently mentioned the word "poverty."
Yep...only one.

When the word "poverty" becomes a rare utterance... the democratic party might as well cease to exist.

Posted by: koreyel on March 17, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Like the handle, brooksfoe.

When you write that...
"There're some promising farm-team prospects, but they're not quite there yet - Obama, mainly. The issues are still kind of gelling, and they haven't yet come to be instinctively identified with Democrats."

.. you omit Russ Feingold's name for WHAT reason?

That's right, it's because he's already matured, has spent the time building the cred, laying a foundation -- and has prepared for the moment -- NOW -- when the issues have hardened into stone.

If those issues aren't identified with Democrats, then what patriotic issues WOULD you have them adopt?

And yes, by those issues I mean being patriotic and conservative enough to defend and uphold the Constitution, to stand up for the rule of law, to insist that no President may suspend or curtail civil liberties.

That last part is especially key. Those inalienable rights were endowed by our Creator -- not by any mortal man. NO man may assert that he is in a position to deign to grant them to the peasants, nor able to suspend them. They arise from a source completely outside of the President's control. By law. In practice.

To assert otherwise is to deny America, as a nation, and as a culture.

Posted by: somberfall on March 17, 2006 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Honestly, people, get a grip. Why do we turn on each other like crazed banshees every time we have a minor disagreement over tactics?
Posted by: Kevin Drum

You know the old saw. Put two socialists in a room and what have you got? Three opinions.

Me, I just wish I had my McGovern era "I'm a grass roots Democrat" button.

The suits are just spineless opportunists with scarcely a principle with which to bless themselves.

Posted by: CFShep on March 17, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

The point your missing is Feingold is not talking about moving the Dems or the debate to the left (at least not in absolute terms). He is talking about moving the debate back to the CENTER, which by this point is well to the left of where the Republicans have taken it over the last generation, but is still not on the left of mainstream America.
But somehow the suits seem to feel that any movement back to the center will create momentum to swing it well to the left. Who knows what they're thinking? Buncha cowardly losers who got cowed into supporting this disastrous war, the result of which everyone had to be aware from the beginning. I think by this point we really are on a Nazi slippery slope to right wing dictatorship because the rightwing partisans know that hardly anyone in power has the will or courage to oppose them. It's called appeasement, and it will just escalate.

Posted by: jussumbody on March 17, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

David1234,

Interesting comment about Gary Cooper and High Noon. The movie was about standing up to and fighting HUAC. Cooper, who was a conservative from Helena, Montana, never picked up on the underlying theme. John Wayne called the film un-American - As stated at IMDb, Wayne, after picking up the Oscar for Cooper, lamented that he had been chosen for the role.

So, it is appropriate to compare Feingold for standing up to and fighting this despicable regime and the many Democratic cowards as they collectively say, "Marshall, we would really love to help you, but, we have our careers to consider"

"Do not forsake me, oh, my party, as I stand here alone today" - Feingold

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 17, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

CF, so the people wearing birkenstocks are the only ones who have good intentions for the future of the country?

Observation for all. Jack Kennedy's policies more closely resemble that of today's republican party. The reps have moved left over the last two decades while the dems have moved even further left. Bushco is spending over $350 billion in entitlements this year which under any other republican administration would be unheard of. Why even Clinton only spent $180 billion in any one year. Bushco's poll numbers are low due to the fact that he is too far left on many domestic policies and spending too much money and creating too large of government. McCain, who could defeat anyone on the left, is a very pro-choice moderate republican, would hopefully bring back some sense of fiscal conservatism. There is much debate inside the rep party though it all revolves around the core principle of limited government. I believe the dems are fragmented becasue they have yet to define that core principle.

Posted by: Jay on March 17, 2006 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

It seems that both you and Dionne and perhaps the rest of the media equate being against Bush breaking the law, against torture, for the separtion of church and state and for the separation of power as being extreme left wing. That means letting Bush and the Republicans do as they please is moderate. Well what the hell should the ideology of the Democratic party be?

I can't believe that most people in the U.S. believe standing up for the basic structure of our gov't is extreme.

Are Democrateic politicians supposed to go along with Republican definitions of moderate in the hope that they'll get elected and then become standup guys. That ain't gonna work.

Posted by: Cathy on March 17, 2006 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

My my my. Fascinating. There's something about Kevin that brings out the Republican trolls who try to demoralize us.

Some, such as gq, like to pretend they're Democrats, just to demoralize us further.

"Kevin - the crazy people on the left are really really crazy. I mean really, really crazy."

"There is no middle for the Democrats. You have the Loony Echo Chamber, and the pragmatic pols who want to not look like their constituency."

"But I'm not a left-wing blogger--I rarely go to their sites anymore because it makes me ill (as do the comments to Amy's posts)."

"whereas the activist Democrat base is out of sync with the majority of American voters. :) The liberal activist Denocrat base has disdain and contempt for the average American. :) But the typical average American feeks the same way towards the leftist liberals. :)"

"There is a certain amount of immaturity inherent in today's liberals."

Why do these Republicans with too much time on their hands flock to Kevin's site? I really mean that question; it's not rhetorical. Maybe Kevin is attracting like-minded readers when Republicans come here to post nasty things about Democrats, or maybe Kevin touches a nerve among Republicans, and they feel obligated to try to shoot us down.

More likely it's the latter. Either way, this is a great laboratory for discovering future GOP talking points so they can be parried.

Posted by: Holdie Lewie on March 17, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: "There are very few establishment politicians who actively want to move the party to the left..."

That's certainly true on abortion. It seems like most of the Dem Party leaders are personally anti-abortion (probably for religious reasons), which is why we are seeing women's reproductive rights slowly but surely eroding.

Posted by: lina on March 17, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Must preview - correction - John Wayne lamented that he had NOT been chosen to play Will Kane.

However, Kevin and the townfolks are still over in the church lamenting about how they do not want to possibly offend the gang - Lots of hand wringing.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 17, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

More likely it's the latter. Either way, this is a great laboratory for discovering future GOP talking points so they can be parried.

Posted by: Holdie Lewie

Unfortunately Dumbercrats are too obsessed with their Bush hatred. When you lefties are constantly belittling and ridiculing the other side it is hard to pick up any usefull information to use on the campaign trail.

Posted by: Fat White Guy on March 17, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK
What with Amy telling me I can't be a Democrat unless I go to church...
Can someone tell me where to get one of the secret decoder rings that reveal all these hidden messages people find in the writings of Amy Sullivan? Failing that, can anyone quote anything she's written that even vaguely resembles what craigie is attributing to her?

I disagree with her on some points, but most of the responses to her posts seem to be responding entirely to an imaginary parody of her.

Posted by: KCinDC on March 17, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin seems to be missing the point that Jussumbody identified.

Moderate and center positions are being defined as extreme and people who support them are being labeled negatively.

Extreme right wing positions are allowed to be defined as moderate, center.

There is nothing "centrist" in any of the Republican policy. The majority of Americans support Democratic positions, including the censure of Bush.

Instead of going on the offense and attacking, labeling and defining the very extreme policies of the republicans and their extremist base, Democrats allow moderate positions to be labeled negatively and waste time trying to distance themselves. Why do Dem consultants let the opposition define their base and their positions?

Posted by: Chrissy on March 17, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Kos has been right all along, yet nobody listens to him: this mostly isn't about center v. left, it's about standing up for the things the Dems already supposedly believe in, v. not standing up for them.

How many Dems are there who believe that Bush was operating within the law with his warrantless wiretaps? Pretty damned few. So the only question is, do we try to hold him to account, or do we roll over and play dead?

Supposedly the Congressional Dems are more cautious because they're worried about the party's electoral fortunes. But even that worry seems to be misplaced, at least for 2006. The conventional wisdom is that you win in Presidential years by appealing to a wide swath of the electorate, but you win in the off-years by appealing to your base.

OK, let's freakin' appeal to the base then.

Posted by: RT on March 17, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Honestly, people, get a grip. Why do we turn on each other like crazed banshees every time we have a minor disagreement over tactics?
Posted by: Kevin Drum

This gets at one of the truly deep issues that the lefty blogosphere has to come to terms with, and which Ed Kilgore recently described at TPM Cafe: how can the blogosphere engage open talk about political tactics, without being accused of "cowardliness", and "lack of principle" and "repeating Republican talking points"?

What's clear is that some things we want, sometimes almost desperately, to enact, are NOT politically viable; they are simply a bridge too far.

How DO we talk about these things, and make sensible and honest recommendations, without being accused of being spineless, etc.?

This strikes me as being at the very core of the dynamic behind the only too familiar circular firing squads on the left.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 17, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

I have never owned a pair of Birkenstocks. Don't go in for granola either. Make smoothies every morning.

I do admit to a few frivolous Ninas or Nine Wests though heels are hard on my knees (volleyball, karate, modern dance - take your pick as to which blew out my ligaments - it's a given that the unforgiving tile floors in kitchens put the finishing touches on them).

Can I sue Jay for defamation of character on behalf of JFK?

Posted by: CFShep on March 17, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats will never ever be the lock stepped, night of the living dead, automotons that Republicans are. Why is it that everyone thinks maybe we should be more like them in our continuity of message.

Rather than seeing individualism and courage, and the subsequent expression born out of the 2 as weakness. Maybe they aren't. I was heartened when Russ Feingold stood up and spoke his mind. It's a far cry better than waiting on others in the party to build a consensus before speaking up.

As a democrat, I prefer talking with and dealing with individuals. I hate talking to and dealing with politicians staying on message. Other democrats in these parts seem to think that unless our elected leaders act more like calculating politicians with a groupthink mentality, we'll lose. So now we're trying to put ourselves in this neat little box that doesn't work for us.

Note to democrat politicians: Stop acting like politicians who have to calculate which way the wind is blowing with as large a portion of your electorate as possible. It makes you look phony. I'd like to think that people in my political spectrum prefer actual real people over politicians. And as such, take a page from Russ Feingold's book. Get out there and start talking from your head, heart, and soul. Don't wait until everyone in your party is on the same page. It'll never happen. The electorate is not judging you on whether you can maintain a set of talking points in lock step with your party's bretheren. They want to know that they are voting for a real person with a mind of their own.

So, get real and get out there and show them you're real.

Posted by: Aaron in NM on March 17, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

How could Russ Feingold's censure motion be construed as a bid to move the party to the left? What is "leftist" about proper defiance of the executive's abuse of power? Aren't we Americans? Feingold is right to protest Bush's disregard for the law, tactics be damned. We could have used more such "grandstanding" these five ghastly years.

Posted by: Lucy on March 17, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

"The majority of Americans support the Democrats, including censure of Bush" - Chrissy.

Wow, it's too bad the majority of Democrats don't support the censure motion, hence all of them hiding underneath their desks.

Posted by: Jay on March 17, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

If our principles and what moves voters our way aren't the same set of issues, we need better issues.

Tlb is right, that Democrats concentrated on keeping the white ethnics in the 80s and early 90s, which meant we were playing defense while the Republicans were playing offense.

Whether or not what Feingold was doing was a good move for a Presidential candidate, it was a lousy move for a Senator: he surprised (and pissed off) his colleagues, without winning (which is the only justification WITHIN the Senate for surprising and pissing off your colleagues. They'll forgive a lot if you win the vote.)

But at least it's playing on their side of the field. Kevin -- think you can come up with a half dozen issues that could be framed into votes in Congress, that do that?

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 17, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

How could Russ Feingold's censure motion be construed as a bid to move the party to the left? What is "leftist" about proper defiance of the executive's abuse of power? Aren't we Americans? Feingold is right to protest Bush's disregard for the law, tactics be damned. We could have used more such "grandstanding" these five ghastly years.
Posted by: Lucy

Damned straight.

How 'bout this for a principle:

"Of course I believe in the free enterprise, but in my system of free enterprise,
the Democratic principle is that there never was, never has been, and never will be
room for the ruthless exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few."
President Harry S. Truman

Posted by: CFShep on March 17, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Don P.:

You are an idiot. A troll. A bucket of scum. Shut the fuck up. If I wanted to read your bullshit, I'd have a lobotomy. Get off the site, prick.

Posted by: brewmn on March 17, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

At the core of the modern Republican Party is a fundamental dishonesty. They have transformed Lincoln's words to 'government of the base, by the base, for the base, shall not perish from the earth.' They assert a business-like competency, but they are totally disinterested in competent government. Norquist's starve the beast benefits from the looting of America which coincidentally benefits the base. At its best the media ignores the story, at its worst it is an active participant in creating the story.

The Democrats have nothing until they have a counterweight to Fox, CNN, MSNBC, Clear Channel and a host of others. All the framing and blog/pol cooperation in the world will have no traction without a significant media voice.

Posted by: Nat on March 17, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Honestly, people, get a grip. Why do we turn on each other like crazed banshees every time we have a minor disagreement over tactics?
Posted by: Kevin Drum

Why don't you pose that question to the supposedly "responsible" "leaders" currently cowering in the Senate, rather than taking a principle stand with Russ Feingold?

The Democrats have taken a beating for being "wishy-washy" not standing for anything, least of all principle, and yet, when one man -- Feingold -- stands up for the rule of law and for the Constitution, every ratfink Senator runs for cover. Runs to check the polls and the focus groups. The exhibit the very behavior they've been accused of, for yeears, by Repubs.

This ain't hard, people. Get a grip.

Russ is right. You don't gain political power or win elections -- unless you press the advantage when you have it. The Dems aren't doing that, so something else is afoot. Perhaps they don't want to be in power when everything else comes apart.

But none of their "reasons" for leaving Murtha and Feingold dangling hold an ounce of water.

Think about it: You can lose a vote on censure, w/o being a loser. You can avoid a vote at all -- and clearly and loudly indicate that you WANT to lose, that you are in fact a loser.

Russ Feingold is choosing the former stance; Democrat "leaders" are choosing the latter path.

Feingold's stance on censure, and on the law, is a masterful political stroke in that it differentiates those who understand the political substance from those who would choose to lose.

So Kevin's complaint, which seems directed at Russ Feingold, comes apart. If the Dems followed Feingold, Drum's complaint doesn't apply.

Finally, Liberal Oasis provides more facts contradicting Kevin's factually incorrect claim that Feingold's motion is about disingenuous or poor political theater. That Kevin could get this so very, very wrong is hard to believe.

Check out Liberal Oasis, post of 3/15.

"The question for all of them is: why would you censure a president for an office affair but not for illegal wiretaps?

The panic from the Senate Dems is nonsensical. As are the two main arguments for rejecting Feingolds resolution."


http://www.liberaloasis.com/

Posted by: somberfall on March 17, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

It seems that virtually everyone that has a pulpit to speak from is missing the censure point entirely. To most rank and file Democrats the question is actually quite simple. Does Bush deserve to be censured or not? We would like to know how our individual "leaders" answer this fundamental question prior to the elections. Those of us who believe he does would rather not support anyone who doesn't. And more importantly we would rather not support anyone who does but is too cowardly to say so, which seems to be all of them.
If the common everyday Democrats got to decide our candidate (and we don't) it would be Feingold.

Posted by: Layne on March 17, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

brewmn, which post of Don P's are you referring to, and what happened to the big tent the democrats want to have welcoming independents, moderate republicans and diverse opinion?

Are we only welcome if we walk lockstep and subscribe to group think?

Posted by: Jay on March 17, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

REAL political analysis and strategy from Liberal Oasis, quoted below.

As opposed to the factually baseless assertions by Kevin Drum.

The question for all of them is: why would you censure a president for an office affair but not for illegal wiretaps?

The panic from the Senate Dems is nonsensical. As are the two main arguments for rejecting Feingolds resolution.

1. In the polls, the public sides with Bush on wiretaps.

Both ABC and the W. Post implied this was a main reason for Dem skittishness. But thats just flat wrong.

Some polls taken have shown an edge for warrantless wiretapping, some have shown an edge against. Some polls have shown both at once. The wording of the question appears to make a big difference.

The obvious conclusion is that voters are split on the question of warrantless wiretaps, with some open to both arguments, not that everyone firmly sides with Bush.

Regardless of the polls, this isn't a hard vote to take or to explain.

Guy broke the law. We're calling him on it so he'll start following the law. Only then can we even start talking about if there is a need to change a law.

Not hard. No need to take another poll before making up your damn mind.

2. Feingold is just grandstanding for 08. He rushed the issue and didnt even give other Senators advance notice.

First, boo-frickin-hoo.

Second, team play is always preferred. But if the team isnt playing, dont blame a guy for taking matters into his own hands.

Third, if dont you want a guy to grandstand, then dont cede him the stage.

What could have been a moment for Dems to stand together and show newfound strength and confidence in the wake of Republican decline, is now a moment for Feingold to show his strength and confidence, in stark contrast to his bumbling, frightened colleagues.

Finally, it would be easier to accuse Feingold of grandstanding if he had a pattern of empty symbolic gestures.

But while Dems cant agree on an Iraq strategy, Feingold was the first Senator to propose a target date for ground troop withdrawal and redeployment to better fight Al Qaeda, moving the entire debate.

And while Dems failed to challenge Bush on the Patriot Act, Feingold risked scorn in consistently criticizing it and helped build grassroots opposition.

In that vein, his censure resolution is clearly in line with his long-standing commitment to civil liberties, trying to do all he can to get our government right with the Constitution.. Hes simply practicing his principles.

LiberalOasis cant say if the entire rank-and-file is with Feingold on this one, but it is clear that the rank-and-file is thirsty for some courage and fight.

Prospective candidates have to ask themselves:

Do I want to let Feingold become the only Dem seen by voters as having a spine?

Or I am going to show some spine too? Will I support those who lead, and will I lead when no one else steps up?

Since, its in our interest to have as strong a 2008 field as possible, lets hope other Dems learn the right lesson from this episode.

Heres the list of Dem and Independent Senators who backed censure for Clinton (S. Res. 44 in the 106th Congress) and have yet to back censure for Bush:

Daniel Akaka
Max Baucus
Byron Dorgan
Dick Durbin
Dianne Feinstein
Daniel Inouye
Jim Jeffords
Ted Kennedy
John Kerry*
Herb Kohl
Mary Landrieu
Carl Levin
Joe Lieberman
Blanche Lincoln
Barbara Mikulski
Patty Murray
Jack Reed
Harry Reid
Jay Rockefeller
Chuck Schumer
Ron Wyden

The four GOPers who backed censure for Clinton are:

Pete Domenici
Mitch Mcconnell
Gordon Smith
Olympia Snowe

*LiberalOasis was told by a Kerry staffer that Kerry supported the Feingold resolution, yet Kerry has not made any formal statements and he ducked reporters questions about it yesterday.

Posted by: somberfall on March 17, 2006 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Tymbrimi: the activist Republican base pretty squarely reflects the majority of American voters

That's a lie. Moreover it is so obviously and blatantly untrue that only an ignorant idiot would either believe it or expect anyone else to believe it.

The "activist Republican base" consists entirely of stupid, ignorant liars, led by a gang of career white collar crooks.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 17, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

"The democrats have nothing until they have a counterweight to Fox, CNN, MSNBC........" - Nat.

OMG, I will give you Fox Nat, but seriously CNN and MSNBC. CNN is a little more centered but MSNBC is nothing more than a shill for the far left. They are kindred spirits with ABC, CBS, NBC, the NYT, the LA Times etc. etc. You are absolutely delusional, or over the cliff left if you believe MSNBC is a voice for the administration.

Posted by: Jay on March 17, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

You are absolutely delusional, or over the cliff left if you believe MSNBC is a voice for the administration.
Posted by: Jay

Anybody wish to chip in for a telescope for po' widdel Jay so he could at least see the center?

Jay calling anyone else 'delusional'...now that's priceless.

Posted by: CFShep on March 17, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

The "activist Republican base" consists entirely of stupid, ignorant liars, led by a gang of career white collar crooks.

Posted by: SecularAnimist

>>>cheering

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President -- or that we are to stand by the President right or wrong -- is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
Teddy Roosevelt

Posted by: CFShep on March 17, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Kerry supported censure before he didn't support it.

All Americans would not support illegal wiretapping. What Bushco is doing is not illegal, it does not fully comply with the letter of the law, but it is NOT outside of the law. Presidential discretion over matters of national Security in a time of war, every President has had this authority. If in fact what Bushco was doing was illegal, don't you think every liberal lawyer and senator on the planet would be lined up to take their shot at him?

I would think that Feingold would make for a great candidate in '08 though, unless of course you want to win.

Posted by: Jay on March 17, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: "Honestly, people, get a grip. Why do we turn on each other like crazed banshees every time we have a minor disagreement over tactics?"

Kevin Drum: Feingold's tactics are stupid; Feingold is insincere; Feingold is posturing for selfish reasons....

Hmmmm...

Posted by: coffeequeen on March 17, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Paddy Whack, I know i'm late to the game on this. Fred Phelps while not having a national following is strong locally. His granddaughter I think it was managed to get something about not hiring gays in Topeka gov. not sure on details. But 47% voted for it. Interpet that anyway you want.

Posted by: Neo on March 17, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

the activist Republican base pretty squarely reflects the majority of American voters

Two points.

1. Iraq.
2. Terri Schiavo.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 17, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Craigie: What are you talking about? I think Feingold is being politically stupid, but that's a purely tactical judgment.

Kevin, fuck politics! I want good, honest government.

Honestly, people, get a grip. Why do we turn on each other like crazed banshees every time we have a minor disagreement over tactics? Posted by: Kevin Drum

Because you keep want to play it safe when it is well past time to be publically kicking the Republicans in the balls every chance we get for all their lies and mistakes. The party has not managed to put up a fight about a single piece of legislation or appointment.

A perfect example is at that Gridiron dinner in 2004, as I recall, when Bush thought he was being cute by pretending to look under the furniture for WMD. Anyone with a sense of decency should have walked at that point. You didn't here a peep from the press or, more important, from any of the Democratic "leadership" on how tasteless that was.

The issues facing us now are way to important to play politics with. It's time to start shouting from the rooftops.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 17, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatives have dominance in the US for a great variety of reasons. One is that the antiquated, undemocratic and unreformable structure of US government gives conservative, low population states an advantage in the Senate (At the founding of the Republic it took 30% of the population to elect half of the Senate . Today it takes only 17%. This malapportionment is recapitulated in the electoral college.) and artful gerrymandering, perhaps the most undemocratic practice in any western nation, has resulted in only a few competitive seats per election cycle, usually below 10%. The end result is an ossified House that is a bastion of perpetual conservativism. In essence safe-seats are selected by the parties not the electorate which renders the House as undemocratic as the original Senate.

Culturally, conservatives have benefited from two trends: the stagnation and decline in social mobility and post-war security for a large segment of the population, particularly working-class men . Britain has experienced a similar decline in industrial capacity but cultural differences, they are natively less conservative, have allow the working-class population to identify with post-industrial liberal culture. And unique to the American experience, a religious counterreformation that is set against the entire project of modernity, pluralism, and the liberal state.

These trends have been exploited by a peerless political apparatus and propaganda machine built mostly to undermine equality and social risk-sharing. The apparatus is a parallel state, in the sense of the old Soviet party system, that uses PR expertise, THE major weapon that is little understood by Democrats, and provides opportunities and rewards for political entrepreneurship. Because the base is counter-revolutionary it is highly motivated. When abortion and all the related reproductive issues are under government restriction, you will see a swing for liberal issues as women run underground railroads, are arrested and die and the poor begin to breed.

Conservatives are just better marshals of tactics and strategy because they want to win by overwhelming the enemy. Because of this they go after the very institutional foundation of the political opposition. If liberals benefit from 527s, they should be banned, if liberals are found in academia, positive discrimination must be used to get conservatives in, etc. Democrats would never dream of this kind of assault and gross unfairness, but it is what has fundamentally undermined their power. Liberals (not socialists or others) generally want to find the common ground between competing factions and promote fairness, but not dominate.

Unfortunately the Democrats have just begun to fathom the nature of the fight. They have not even determined the scope of the battlefield.

Posted by: bellumregio on March 17, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

I love the earlier quote from some genius above:

"Kos has been right all along, but nobody listens to him."

BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!

Posted by: MountainDan on March 17, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Drum:

Yes, E.J. is making a completely different point that you missed, and that not so hidden point is encapsulated in this single sentence:

"In the best of all worlds, Feingold's strong stand would redefine what's "moderate" and make clear that those challenging the legality of the wiretapping are neither extreme nor soft on terrorism"

You and E.J. just aren't in the same league. His is a finer, deeper intellect...

Posted by: dcshungu on March 17, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

bellumregio has some good points. There may be a stratedgy in there.

Posted by: Neo on March 17, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Ignore the moronic digital brownshirt with the handle "Jay"

The big tent he wants us all to get in is probably his cheeto and urine stained muu-muu.

Posted by: Homer on March 17, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

The main problem with the Democratic Party is that, because of the considerable amount of money required for successful political campaigning, the people who get to represent the party in the Congress have to, in general, belong to a socio-economic class that is not the same as the group whose interest they are supposed to serve. This fundamental contradiction for the Democrats cannot be overcome easily.

Posted by: lib on March 17, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

bellumregio makes some really good points. One I would add is: money. Pretty much by definition, the Right is obsessed with money, which is handy because they also tend to have a lot of it. And all that money buys access and media outlets and other useful things.

The left is still working from a playbook that assumes a lack of direct access to the levers of power. And in many ways, that's still the case.

And related to this, one reason that the right jumps all over Hollywood, I think, is that it represents a bunch of rich people who don't agree with them. Can't have that!

Posted by: craigie on March 17, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

WM attracts conservative trolls because Kevin Drum doesn't ban them. At the risk of seeming paranoid, assume they are all paid political operatives. They create plausible "identities" and operate from playbooks. This is RNC Psych Ops--disrupt liberal conversation, dishearten the enemy. And for some, it is obviously a labor of love. Repeating the talking points soothes their anxious mean spirits: They get to be aggressive, delusional, call names, cackle to their hearts content.

Why do we turn on one another like banshees? Because that's what frustrated people do when their leaders are flaming idiots.

The world has changed, and our governing paradigm has to change as well. All of this --the Global War on Terror, Republican corruption, rampant capitalism, the role of religion, immigration, fiscal recklessness and so on--is nothing compared to the environmental crises that the earth faces. The riders of the Apocalypse have new horses: Oil depletion, global climate change, resource scarcity.

We need new paradigms of what it means to be a citizen, the role of the government, the relationship between the citizen and the government, the relationship between the citizen and the environment, the relationship among nations. What do we value? What is sustainable? How do we organize to preserve what is important? Who is going to survive? Behind our arguments are people trying to figure these questions out and wondering if their kind will be among the winners or losers. Without intellectual leadership the arguments get deeply bruising and we lose sight of the common goal.

Conservatives have remarkable unity because they live in the placid delusion that it is 1929, oil is plentiful, the environment is healthy, we have the biggest guns and laissez-faire economic policies are about to hand them a golden age of peace and prosperity. It will always be morning in America for them.

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 17, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

"bellumregio has some good points."

bellumregio's post is so full of false and unsupported assertions one hardly knows where to begin. Take this piece of nonsense:

"The end result is an ossified House that is a bastion of perpetual conservativism."

The House of Representatives was controlled by the Democrats for forty years from 1954 to 1994. This included the period during the 1960s and 1970s when the liberal wing of the Party was at its most powerful.

Posted by: Jason on March 17, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Ooooh nice job PTate.

Posted by: Lucy on March 17, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

bellumregio's post is so full of false and unsupported assertions one hardly knows where to begin.

Jason start at the top and work down.

Posted by: Neo on March 17, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

lib:
It all comes back to campaign finance reform. Which is inextricably linked with lobbying. 27 years ago when I took political science from Fred Harris, he stated that the easiest way to reform campaign financing would be to limit the amount of money a candidiate can spend. Thus making the political realm more accessible.

Posted by: Aaron in NM on March 17, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent post, bellumregio.

Posted by: S Ra on March 17, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Second props to PTate.

Posted by: CFShep on March 17, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Money!
This is another point that is important. Nations in the Anglosphere tend to be more individualistic in their political inclinations and have a tendency to have political parties that represent the interests of the property-owning classes and a great deal of rhetoric about individual initiative. But the US is very extreme in this regard. Nowhere is the party choice so limited and so dominated by the power of wealth. Nowhere else in the world would the Democratic party been regarded as a socialistic party. They are no so different from modern British Tories.

Posted by: bellumregio on March 17, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

The trolls come other here with their regurgitated swill and seem to have this strange notion that they thereby sow dissention in our ranks.

Simply can't process that we have no 'ranks' as such nor does it ever seem to sink in that we find them pathetically amusing.

Twacking them regularly may keep us from doing lasting damage to one another though, so their presence actually defeats their avowed aims.

'Bout as like to 'convert' someone here as those white shirt/skinny tie/door-to-door Mormon losers on bicycles are likely to convince me in the existence of the Angel Moroni[c] or that the native peoples of North America are a lost tribe of Israel.

Posted by: CFShep on March 17, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not looking for any converts - I just enjoy making observations and pointing out fallacies regardless of political affiliation.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

"But the US is very extreme in this regard. Nowhere is the party choice so limited and so dominated by the power of wealth."

The large amounts of money involved in national U.S. elections are primarily a consequence of the fact that the U.S. is such a large country, at 300 million people by far the largest of the wealthy democracies. Elected officials at the national level have far larger constituencies than they do in other rich nations, so it's not surprising that larger amounts of money are involved in political campaigns.

Posted by: Jason on March 17, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Is it now "trolling" to agree with Kevin Drum? Does that make Kevin a "troll"?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

We'll get you yet, CFShep. Enough earnest young people with ties on bicycles and you'll crack like an egg, yes you will.

Posted by: Mormons on March 17, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Few issuses I would like to bring up- Trade what are we going to do about trade. Education does not seem to be the key. Upper level positions are being outsourced.

Taxes what would corporations really pay. From what I have heard 60% of corporation paid 0 taxes in 1999.

Immigration there are now 12? million undocumented aliens in this country.
People with limited edudcation feel they have to compete on 2 fronts cheap foreign labor and illegals.

Posted by: Neo on March 17, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps you should get some education then, Neo.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

All of this --the Global War on Terror, Republican corruption, rampant capitalism, the role of religion, immigration, fiscal recklessness and so on--is nothing compared to the environmental crises that the earth faces. The riders of the Apocalypse have new horses: Oil depletion, global climate change, resource scarcity. Posted by: PTate in MN

Scary, isn't it. We could be on the cusp of the end of the American Empire. We are overreaching abroad, and with something that has no upside whatsoever, and stewardship at home has fallen to an all time low. And, perhaps like Rome, we're watering down the core of the republic, i.e. immigration levels are too high, assimilation is too slow, and the society has become more segmented than cable television, and the possible benefits of a multicultural society are lost.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 17, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Would like to post, but I am currently getting my far left liberal extremist doctrine from watching re-runs of Michael Savage, Joe Scarborough, Rita "The Gusher" Cosby, Tucker Carlson, Chris Matthews and Tim Russert fawning over right wingers, especially Ole'Straight Talk and Pat Buchanon over at MSNBC - they must all be there to counter that vicious Keithman - Oh, yes, Savage is off, but Chris loves to have him on hoping he'll talk about coming out of the closet. Donohue was kicked off, even with the highest ratings, because he was too liberal.

But they still run news from the Politburo - Oh goody, they are running something from Tass now.

Posted by: stupid git on March 17, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

bellumregio has very good points. The DLC and the rest of the Democratic Party ignore them at their peril.

And Kevin, Feingold is doing the right thing in the only manner that is available to him. What else is there? Do you have any alternatives? I think the answer is clearly, no.

So stop cutting Feingold off at the knees.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 17, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

"And related to this, one reason that the right jumps all over Hollywood, I think, is that it represents a bunch of rich people who don't agree with them. Can't have that!"

Is this like how liberals jump all over conservative blacks? Can't allow them to wander off the plantation...

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 17, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

JAYBAREE:

My short post regarding Kevin's claim that he was judging Feingold "purely" on his tactics included irrefutable evidence to the contrary

You're still misreading. Kevin made statment A, and said that it was tactical. Surely, as you demonstrated, Kevin also made statements B and C about Feingold, but he, Kevin, never claimed that they were purely tactical. To iterate: the problem is that Kevin said and only said that A was a tactical judgment, but you read him as saying that all of his statements about Feingold, including B and C, were tactical; but plainly Kevin has not said this.

I find you most insulting

That's fine, but it's certainly a bit preposterous to complain about me being insulting, isn't it? After all, my initial comment was simply a curt remark that you had misread Kevin. It was terse,but not insulting. Your reply, of course, was directly insulting. Are you surprised that my reply was less than congenial to your statements.

And for fuck's sake (or Kevin's), leave to others the task of defending our host.

I have a low opinion of people who presume to delimit what others may write about.

"make pains," while possibly passably (certainly not "perfectly") sensible, is anything but a common expression, as a dictionary or even a Google search will affirm.

This is an unimportant quibble, but surely it's common in the sense that most people have encountered it and recognize it's meaning, if not common in the sense that it's especially frequent.

Posted by: Michael on March 17, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

JAYBAREE:

My short post regarding Kevin's claim that he was judging Feingold "purely" on his tactics included irrefutable evidence to the contrary

You're still misreading. Kevin made statment A, and said that it was tactical. Surely, as you demonstrated, Kevin also made statements B and C about Feingold, but he, Kevin, never claimed that they were purely tactical. To iterate: the problem is that Kevin said and only said that A was a tactical judgment, but you read him as saying that all of his statements about Feingold, including B and C, were tactical; but plainly Kevin has not said this.

I find you most insulting

That's fine, but it's certainly a bit preposterous to complain about me being insulting, isn't it? After all, my initial comment was simply a curt remark that you had misread Kevin. It was terse,but not insulting. Your reply, of course, was directly insulting. Are you surprised that my reply was less than congenial to your statements.

And for fuck's sake (or Kevin's), leave to others the task of defending our host.

I have a low opinion of people who presume to delimit what others may write about.

"make pains," while possibly passably (certainly not "perfectly") sensible, is anything but a common expression, as a dictionary or even a Google search will affirm.

This is an unimportant quibble, but surely it's common in the sense that most people have encountered it and recognize it's meaning, if not common in the sense that it's especially frequent.

Posted by: Michael on March 17, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

"In the best of all worlds, Feingold's strong stand would redefine what's "moderate" and make clear that those challenging the legality of the wiretapping are neither extreme nor soft on terrorism"

Therein lies the key to Dionne's great column. It is all about defining and framing the debate. Let's do a thought experiment here. Say Kerry were President and he decided he wanted to illegally wiretap people because he thought it important to national security and damnit he is the President after all. If that gets out, does anyone for an instance think the Republicans wouldn't have mounted an enormous rhetorical barrage against Kerry saying he was breaking the law. Remember Whitewater. Nobody could figure out what the hell that was about but it didn't stop Repubs from hammering on it as illegal. Granted this is about National Security which is more delicate but Political advantage would have been taken.

This is not an ideological issue, but an issue that swings in either direction depending on who holds the Presidency. Presidents always want to do what they want. That's why the Repubs would have hammered on the illegality immediately, some calling for impeachment, and most importantly repeating language that would move public opinion against the Kerry's actions. If people hear a reasoned argument against illegal wiretapping enough, they will adopt it. Activate the language that favors your side of the argument and you win the argument. It is almost that simple.

The base and the blogs can provide that sounding board but only if the Pols and the base adopt the same language and the same stands. See Social Security for a rare example in the Dems favor. See Terry Shaivo for the danger of picking the wrong issue. See "Flip-Flop" for absolute perfect coordination between Pols and the base.

The truth is the country has been pulled far to the right lately. It is changable especially as the fruits of Republican labor continue to turn so miserably rotten (they really really suck at governing). People are open to new ways at looking at the matter. Give them the language to see it differently and they'll vote differently.

Posted by: kj on March 17, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN wrote: All of this --the Global War on Terror, Republican corruption, rampant capitalism, the role of religion, immigration, fiscal recklessness and so on--is nothing compared to the environmental crises that the earth faces. The riders of the Apocalypse have new horses: Oil depletion, global climate change, resource scarcity.

I'll second that emotion. The Earth is on the precipice of a global ecological cataclysm that is the direct result of the activities of the human species. We need to make ecological sustainability the central organizing principle of human civilization -- to move the human species to "make its living" in ways that preserve and enhance the capacity of the Earth to support life, rather than degrading and destroying it. Doing this, or alternatively suffering the consequences of our failure to do this, will dominate the 21st century and beyond. Time is very short, if indeed it is not already too late. All of this other stuff amounts to little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 17, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Jay: You are a fucking asshole and a complete waste of time as well. Shut the fuck up, already.

Posted by: brewmn on March 17, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Time is very short" = less than 100 years before all mankind is extinct?

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe this, I can't believe that, I am outraged, blah blah blah.

I support Russ Feingold's measure to censor the President for violating the FISA. There! Is that so hard to say? And is it so hard to simply leave it at that?

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 17, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

brewmn:

Is it now "trolling" to agree with Kevin Drum? Does that make Kevin a "troll"?

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps you should get some education then, Neo

Your right Don p. It's a gitting so my one phd isn't enuff and that's Dr.Neo to u

Posted by: Neo on March 17, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

My bad - it seemed your "People with limited edudcation feel they have to compete on 2 fronts cheap foreign labor and illegals" rant hit a bit too close to home - you don't have to call me "Doctor" though.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Jay: MSNBC has Mathews, Carlson and Scarborough, Republican lapdogs all vs. Olbermann. I would term Olbermann slightly left of center. I concede that in intellectual quality Olbermann kicks their respective asses. I guess that is a form of balance. MSNBC canned the real liberal of the bunch, Phil Donahue, despite his respectable ratings. In terms of on-air minutes and balance of message, MSNBC is a Republican player because I suspect they feel too much lefty talk will cost them adminstration access and advertising dollars.

And as for the broadcast networks and the NYTimes: nice try, but that dog hasn't hunted for a long, long time. Admittedly, the Times' Krugman has been an intellectual counterbalance for legions of lapdogs, but in terms of space and time the right rules our media. Their problem these days is they have been so wrong so often even the Peggy Noonans are getting nervous.

Posted by: Nat on March 17, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK
My bad - it seemed your "People with limited edudcation feel they have to compete on 2 fronts cheap foreign labor and illegals" rant hit a bit too close to home

How were you judging his reaction to his own rant?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 17, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

I was judging the rant based on the words he/she typed.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Don P wrote: "Time is very short" = less than 100 years before all mankind is extinct?

Time is very short = less than 10 years before catastrophic climate change is unavoidable and irreversible, according to James Hansen of NASA and other climate scientists. On the other hand, some scientists, including James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis, believe it is already too late and that in the not too distant future the human species will be reduced to "a few breeding pairs" living in the Arctic, which will be the only remaining region that will support human life.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 17, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

We Democrats got "caught" without specific plans because we thought we didn't have to fight for EVERY liberty - we were ready to defend Liberty. We , as Americans, have expectations, and are surprised and even offended to have to defend every Liberty. From who? Other Americans? Sorry, I wasn't ready with a plan.

Posted by: RWC on March 17, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist:

That doesn't answer my question though: will we at least have a few breeding pairs living in the Arctic in 100 years?

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

bellumregio: "Culturally, conservatives have benefited from two trends: the stagnation and decline in social mobility and post-war security for a large segment of the population, particularly working-class men."

Sorry: Essay length post ahead.

A colleague of mine argued in her dissertation that the progressive movement of the first half of the 20th century involved a redefinition of "citizenship". She made the case that originally, in the US, citizenship was tied to people, white men, who owned land. The laws were designed to protect material property, aka, land, slaves, possessions. The progressives managed to expand the understanding of property to include intellectual property--what people knew and the skill they could bring to employers. So the laws and the relationship between government & citizens shifted from protecting the material property of small free-holder citizens to ensuring that the "intellectual property" of working citizens, a group defined as white males, were educated, insured against the excess of capitalism in the workplace, and their families were protected if the breadwinner died young or was unable to work.

According to my friend, the relationship between government and "citizen" began to break down in the 60s as liberals tried to extend the rights of citizenship to people previously denied full citizenship--in particular, women & people of color. In the process, the perception was created that there were not enough resources to go around--it was a zero-sum game. Some people were going to get tossed out of "the club" so new people could enter.

This fed the laissez-faire policies of the extreme right wing. The social contract that had brought middle-class prosperity to working class white men could be attacked and dismantled. Raise your hand if you want to pay taxes to support cadillac-driving welfare moms? Raise your hand if you want perverts to educate your child?

The right wing was able to successfully label the "blame-America-first" liberals as favoring only "special interests" outside the "mainstream." In terms of my friends thesis, "mainstream" is code for an implicit understanding of "citizen" as white, male. "Special interests" of course means women and minorities. As Reagan morphed the definition of citizen into "tax-payers,"the Republicans were able to amass power by implying that that women and minorities are included in their definition of citizen (when they aren't) and that their policies will produce resources for all citizens (when they won't).

Democrats have been reactive and confused. They look at Republican policies and see 1) assaults on women and minorities rights, 2) the destruction of the social contract that produced prosperity for white men and that Democrats want extended to all citizens, and 3) restoration of the implicit older definition of citizen as material property-owning white men, and 4) growing inequality. We keep fighting these battles even as the standard of living slips for the bottom 94% of the population, in the US and internationally.

And meanwhile, environmental catastrophe looms. Basically, we don't have enough resources to go on as we have been. Both parties have used cheap oil and consumerism to try to reassure citizens that the earth has resources enough for all of us. When we suggest that we don't have enough resources, the Republicans accuse us of being doomsayers and defeatists. The "mainstream" gets worried. So we bicker about whether Feingold should introduce a motion to censure a President who is a disaster and a law-breaker.

So what are we going to do? Who are citizens? What are the responsibilities and rights of citizens? How do we distribute and protect the resources?

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 17, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Don P wrote: That doesn't answer my question though: will we at least have a few breeding pairs living in the Arctic in 100 years?

Since, according to you, your comments are the result of blind, mechanical forces, I see no point in responding to them.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 17, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

LOL - have it your way - since "blind, mechanical forces" necessarily includes mankind's very survival instincts, as long as we are around for at least 100 years, that's fine by me.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Don P., SecularAnimist

Odd my partner and I were talking about the administration's apparant lack of a vision for the future at lunch. You see we are both pretty progressive so we want to see progress for all Americans and, in fact, all humans. We want to see life get better. We contrasted that with the Bush Administration's apparent lack of a vision for the future.

Reading your posts it is clear now that my partner and I are right, the Bushes (and others in the Bush administration) don't believe we humans (or most of us) have a future. They just want to be sure that their daughters are amoung the remaining breeding pairs in the artic. Damn those Bushes they do think generations ahead.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 17, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: "Honestly, people, get a grip. Why do we turn on each other like crazed banshees every time we have a minor disagreement over tactics?"

[coffeequeen]: Kevin Drum: Feingold's tactics are stupid; Feingold is insincere; Feingold is posturing for selfish reasons....

Don't forget my favorite example: "I sure hope we win in November, but as near as I can tell a lot of commenters here don't really care about that."

In fact, one of the reasons so many of us found the Dems' refusal to take a position on the censure motion so appalling is that we really, really care about winning in November, and feel that Dem cowardice and waffling hurts our chances. The reason that Dem non-support was so startling and disappointing is that it's both good policy and good politics.

And that's why the reaction to your post defending the wafflers was so strong. Sure, technically, you agreed with voting for censure, but you devoted the post to supporting all the excuses of non-supporters.

I was way-over-the-top uncivil in comments to that post. I regret and apologize for the language, but not the underlying argument.

Posted by: Nell on March 17, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

My bad - it seemed your "People with limited edudcation feel they have to compete on 2 fronts cheap foreign labor and illegals" rant hit a bit too close to home
What are you trying to say Don P. are you an elitist. Making fun of the working class. Not a great way to score points in the red states. I can see why you guys are sinking so far in the polls.

Posted by: Neo on March 17, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK


MICHAEL: You're still misreading. Kevin made statment A, and said that it was tactical. Surely, as you demonstrated, Kevin also made statements B and C about Feingold . . . [blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, lather, rinse, repeat] . . . including B and C, were tactical; but plainly . . . [SCREAM!]

Michael, it's time you rowed your boat ashore. You're drowning in your own doo-doo. Can I have a hallelujah?
MICHAEL: surely it's common in the sense that most people have encountered it and recognize it's meaning, if not common in the sense that it's especially frequent.

You know what, Michael? You're common in the sense that most people have encountered lunatics; but very few recognize your meaning, no matter how frequently you attempt to define it.

Now that you've said your ABCs, I ask you not to bother me again, please.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 17, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

PTate: the relationship between government and "citizen" began to break down in the 60s as liberals tried to extend the rights of citizenship to people previously denied full citizenship--in particular, women & people of color. In the process, the perception was created that there were not enough resources to go around--it was a zero-sum game.

That perception was created by economic realities that hit right as those liberation movements were taking effect. LBJ's refusal to increase taxes in 1968 to cover the expenses of the Vietnam War (or to end the war and thus save the money) started a process that has been ongoing ever since. Since 1973, there has been steady decline -- with occasional rebounds, but never again reaching those heights.

Posted by: Nell on March 17, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

Posted by: 毛泽东 on March 17, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Pebird: Maybe. We'll see. But I'd be careful about confusing the momentum of the lefty blogosphere for momentum in the outside world. Posted by: Kevin Drum

No. That would be Atrios and Kos. Black is so full of himself that he thinks the left-leaning blogospher was responsible for killing SS reform.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 17, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Can I have a hallelujah?" Posted by: jayarbee on March 17, 2006 at 2:34 PM

Were Knights of the Drum Table
We post wheneer were able
We hate moderates
And their calls to be reason-able

We froth well here in Kevalot
We eat our own and Spam a lot

Were Knights of the Drum Table
Our earnestness formid-able
We take a stand and then demand
Support the unelect-able

Were humorless here in Kevalot
We must reply to trolls a lot

Michael, don't go to Kevalot -- it's a silly place.

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on March 17, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

We'll get you yet, CFShep. Enough earnest young people with ties on bicycles and you'll crack like an egg, yes you will.
Posted by: Mormons

hahahahaha

Thanks I need that.

Posted by: CFShep on March 17, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

JAYARBEE,

I'll take your lame cliches, pathetic attacks, and complete lack of any defense of the point in question as evidence that you have seen the mistake of your original comment and are just too childish to admit it.

Posted by: Michael on March 17, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Uli, thanks for that. That was funny.

Posted by: Michael on March 17, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Well, yes, so isn't it time we dumped those establishment politicians and found people who actually cared about Democratic ideals and was willing to fight for them?

Posted by: catherineD on March 17, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

PTate: the relationship between government and "citizen" began to break down in the 60s as liberals tried to extend the rights of citizenship to people previously denied full citizenship--in particular, women & people of color. In the process, the perception was created that there were not enough resources to go around--it was a zero-sum game.

That perception was created by economic realities that hit right as those liberation movements were taking effect. LBJ's refusal to increase taxes in 1968 to cover the expenses of the Vietnam War (or to end the war and thus save the money) started a process that has been ongoing ever since. Since 1973, there has been steady decline -- with occasional rebounds, but never again reaching those heights.
Posted by: Nell

Yep. Just as the first waves of Boomers hit the job markets and the pie really truly wasn't big enough to go around. Stagflation - remember?

I came out of high school into Nixon's 1st recession. Out of college into Ford's (Nixon II) recession and the oil embargo. The very moment in time when wages first began to slip relative to inflation.

The first enormous hollowing out of this country's industrial capacity in the 80's. $165B down the rabbit hole to bail out the fat cats' S&L fiasco...

There was enough economic insecurity - real - not imagined to go around.

Posted by: CFShep on March 17, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with your analysis. The Dems in office have the uttermost contempt for the KosKidz and Drummettes who believe that America is the focus of evil in the world.

Posted by: minion of rove on March 17, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

I find it interesting that so many liberak posters here get so upset that conservatives and moderates also post here, It is not uncommon to see liberals horrified to see opinions other than their own. It seems to be based on insecurity, and a sense of inferiority. Are liberals so weak-minded that they can't consider different points of view?

As for the illegality of the President's actions, if you are so sure of that, then seek redress in the courts. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 17, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin - the crazy people on the left are really really crazy. I mean really, really crazy. Ever listen to Mike Malloy on Air America? He calls Bush a 'Facist.' He says Republicans love killing innocent people. He calls Bush, Rumseld and Rice "Nazis.' His rhetoric is shocking. And 99% of his callers agree with him.

Another example of an extreme lefty with a big following: KOS. Demo politicians, from Kerry to Boxer to Kennedy, participate and blog on his site. KOS calls Bush a 'terrorist', has said disparaging things about victims of the insurgents in Iraq, and takes extreme positions.

Sure, there are kooks on the extreme right. Fred Phelps comes to mind. But Fred Phelps has a tiny following, and no GOP politician would ever associate with him.

Mike Malloy and KOS, on the other hand, often have Democrat officeholders participating on their show/blog.

Posted by: Paddy Whack on March 17, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

Back during the Reagan years we used to say that one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.

If you knew the definitions for the terms that you set out (fascist, Nazi, terrorist), you might realize that they fit Bush and what he and Republicans are doing to the country and the world.

If you were a student of history, specifically World War II and the Nazi rise to power, you'd know how Bush's and the Republicans' tactics cause people to make the charge against them of Naziism. The tactics that have been used to pass conservative legislation these last 6 years are the same tactics used in Germany to incrementally strip Jews of their rights and protections as citizens. To anybody who has studied government and law in 1930s Germany (the Enabling Act, the anti-Jewish laws, the Nuremberg laws, the Nazi judges) can not deny that the Bush regime, the neocons, used that as their blueprint for driving through extreme and unpopular legislation that is not the will of the majority.

Most importantly, if you had a broader knowledge of America's involvement in subverting the democracies of other nations, and what our government has done to innocent civilians around the world in our names, you might change your tune. Unless, of course, you're one of the .02% of Americans who have amassed obscene wealth from these adventures, and don't give a shit who you have to torture and kill because it's your right to do so as an American.

Posted by: Larry on March 17, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK
As for the illegality of the President's actions, if you are so sure of that, then seek redress in the courts.

You know, the wingnuts were against this -- calling anything redress except through the electoral process anti-democratic -- back when the Persident didn't enjoy a sub-40% approval rating and before the Bush appointed two wingnuts to the Supreme Court.

You'd almost think there was no principal to their objections.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 17, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK
Were Knights of the Drum Table
We post wheneer were able
. . .
Not a bad composition, clever and catchy. It's not brilliant, mind you, Uli, but it's at least as good as any of your pornos. That said, and aside from it being well off the mark where I'm concerned, it's a pity it glorifies someone whose talents are being squandered writing a blog that, like the DLC and nihilism, calculates strategy selfishly, moving no one to noble sacrifice. Fitting then, I suppose, that your creative verses defend the utterly undeserving, haplessly hypocritical, and obtusely offensive pains maker, Michael.

Speaking of verses, here's one dying for a rewrite:

MICHAEL: I'll take your lame cliches, pathetic attacks, and complete lack of any defense of the point in question as evidence that you have seen the mistake of your original comment and are just too childish to admit it.

You know, Michael, you're starting to grow on me. But your tumorous attraction notwithstanding, I really hope you'll soon grow tired of the insipid fantasies you're having about me. They reveal a mundane myopia so devoid of appeal it literally reeks of brown shoes, beige slacks, gray dust, and all things monotonous. As for the notion that I'd have anything to admit to you, it is equivalent to Jews admitting Hitler had a point about them being sub-human.

Now, go ahead and sputter off your final piffles at me. I shall ignore them so that your wet dream of having both the first and last words will come true in a clumsy climax of your dreary drivel.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 17, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Thinking about the disipline of the rethugs vs the indisipline of the donkeys, I flash on a mental picture of the Nurnburg Rallys of lock stepping groups carrying old Roman style flags and old Indian symbols vs the Stanford Band coming on to the field at half time.
But that is just me.
Enjoy

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on March 17, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

jrb -- one more alliteration, and I cut off your johnson.

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on March 18, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure how much activist liberals can work with the established politicians. As Kos says, we may just have to take the party over from them.

Posted by: on March 18, 2006 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm not sure how much activist liberals can work with the established politicians. As Kos says, we may just have to take the party over from them."

The second part of that was somehow lost: putting Howard Dean in charge was a start.

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 18, 2006 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

Tardy threat. Threw it at a Chicago cop yesterday. Poor policeman passed away.

Posted by: jayarbee on March 18, 2006 at 2:32 AM | PERMALINK

jrb -- one more alliteration, and I cut off your johnson.

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on March 18, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

That doesn't rhyme, dude.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 18, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Uli:

Also, the track record of nominating a supposedly "electable" candidate -- i.e., Kerry, Dukakis, Mondale is abominable.

The strategy of compromising Dem principles and moving away from your base has been proven ineffective -- and disastrous.

I argue that the principles and values of the so-called "left" -- the Democratic base -- is much closer to the overall center than the DLC power- centric position that compromises Constitutional values to curry favor with the rich and powerful.

True conservatives and true liberals value the liberties, structure of government, rule of law, and family values far more than the "realists" who occupy what is conventionally thought of as the political center. It is not the center. It is not a realistic policy. It merely cuts off any access the base has to their own government -- and eliminates any governmental unresponsiveness -- which is the birthright of every American.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 18, 2006 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Amazing how few of the Bush supporters here are actually interested in the fact that President Bush has broken the law.

That's what's in play here folks. And whether Democrats should keep silent about it.

The base thinks yes. I think Congress has has a constitutional obligation to genuinely explore the issue.

The suits are running from the issue. As DC Democrats have run from so many issues, with the encouragement of many of those who post here.

Posted by: zak822 on March 19, 2006 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

1. If you look at the experience of the Kerry Campaign, the wings of the Democratic Party are already flying the same bird. It is impossible for any reasonable Democrat to fault the support that came from Dean and his supporters.

2.Kos is not a radical. His current prediction is that Warner will be the nominee, and, while he didn't disclose his preference, it is clear that he has no objection to this moderate red-stater.

3. Feingold is not a radical. Both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton are more liberal, per National Journal.

4. Feingold was also the Democratic sole vote for Clinton impeachment (in caucus). He was the sole vote to allow the Gingrich House to continue impeachment. He has spine when it is needed to stand up in the grandstand.

5. Censure is getting a big raspberry from the American people. ARG gives it only a one-point lead, and two other polls show it opposed. In any event, 47% of the electorate oppose censure. The rational thing for Democrats to do is run like hell.

6. I have faith in the "blogosphere" to figure out the import of these numbers. By 20 points, Americans think Bush is doing a poor job. By 20 points, Independent voters want a Democratic Congress INewsweek, 3/17). By 50 (five-0h) points, Americans think Bush still hasn't done enough to help Katrina victims.

7. But by 20 points in the opposite direction, Americans think censure is a partisan ploy.

8. Like any other faction, the bloggers need to be schmoozed, massaged, and have pale blue smoke blown up their back passages. When the GOP and Bush Sr. ignored the anti-abortion crazies who, then and now, provide the foot soldiers for their campaigns, they got Patrick Buchanan. Bloggers and Deaniacs have proven themselves far more pragmatic, but everybody needs love.

9, For its part, the blogosphere might try listening to Schumer, Reid, Pelosi, and Emmanuel. They may be spineless, but they are not brainless.

Posted by: Steve High on March 19, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

My god! Can the conventional wisdom of establishment Democrats be more out of touch? Will grassroots activists and party leaders bridge the gap between them and coordinate in unison? I seriously doubt it.

For more reasons than this electronic venue can sustain, that could fill volumes of books logged in the Library of Congress, the truth about the base will elude D.C. insiders simply and evidentially because they do not live in, as Mr. Drum scribes, the outside world. I also worry after reading our hosts viewpoint on the Feingold censure resolution that he, too, does not live in the real world, having unfortunately swallowed the conventional tripe that the alleged faux-naive crime of the Wisconsin senator will somehow kill or divert the Democrats momentum. Ha! Since when do Republican attack poodles wait patiently in queue to courteously ask, may I have the microphone, please? Such is the fog of intimidation spread by arrogance that has settled across the Potomac. If momentum dies, it will do so because fearful Democrats strangled it by listening to the wrong people. Had they only consulted their middle-class constituents directly, they would realize that seething Americans fed up with Oval Office schemes and dissembling that blacken the White House, are also angry at their lack of action. For the DLC and congressional leaders, plotting to win the 2006 elections takes precedent over operating from courage, bravery that people have been hungering and grumbling about for months and years. Despite a double-digit lead in the polls, a superior judo move that Democrats might have planned before Feingold's stand on the Senate floor preempted their tactics may come too late or lack a threshold of passion to adequately motivate demoralized people to enter the voting booth.

People dont like being lied to. In fact, they loathe betrayal, particularly when treachery wounds sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandsons and granddaughters by blowing their heads or legs off in a desert war that sucks the life out of our nations coffers and citizenry. They understand now and all too well that the pretender who strutted across a U.S. aircraft carrier to fib, Mission Accomplished, was the key perpetrator of treason seduced by a neoconservative cabal. Our president, originating from the privileged class of oil wealth and political superpower, feigns like hes one of us but he isnt one of us and that drives the point. He acts. He poses and recites his lines. How long did Beltway powerbrokers think Mr. Bush could get away with his Texas tinhorn, Joe Six-pack, Audie Murphy shtick before the American public would notice that he is a trained impostor?

For the most part, Americans abide in a polite society, living in suburbia, small towns, and urban centers. They wont ordinarily spit their dark thoughts rudely in your face and they may even minimize just how hurt they are. Few wish to show sweat or tears. Masking emotionality, especially the painful kind, repels the label of weakness and being wimpy is an anathema to the American voter. Yet bland smiles do not mean they feel the ache of fallen hope in their hearts any less. To suffer ignored invites a condition of powerlessness and frustration, piqued by tone-deaf politicians, voter suppression, and fraud, that has invaded the national psyche. Read Eric Hoffer, The Ordeal Of Change, and you will learn that powerlessness breeds violence and eventually begets revolution. The French now experience massive labor protests, a sign of transformed futility among the forgotten working class. More than a month ago, in a cauldron of oppression, Muslims rioted throughout the Middle East over the cartoon controversy, a cathartic Western symbol for ingrained resentment to attack. Pitchforks and torches dont always come included with rebellion but wholesale change nonetheless paves the American road we travel.

While warrantless eavesdropping may not headline the list of the reasons why common folk would censure or better yet, impeach this president worse betrayals of life and limb command most of our attention we will take whatever bone Congress will throw to us. At least someone in the halls of power has risen to decry the imperial weapons of mass destruction liar. Someone finally stood up. Imagine! Feingold risks his political future with his party leaders for us. Bravo! Encore!

If establishment politicians had studied anthropology, philosophy, sociology, and psychology, or had a whit of spiritual clarity instead of devoting their eyes to polling data or in the case on the right, planting news through the vain snout of some Beltway hacks and in the pronouncements of ruthless bloggers our supposed Washington experts would fathom that we collectively have arrived at a sounding of the trumpets to rapture the American soul.

Senator Feingold has blasted the first note of a call to revolt. Will establishment Democrats have the humility or the strength of vision to follow his cue? If they do not, and God knows Republicans benefit most by derailing any effective motion to remove their obstruction of the will of the people, Americans will take matters into their own hands in time. Let us hope Democrats heed the call and soon. Inspire us. We've been waiting for a long, long time.


Good and evil grow up together and are bound in an equilibrium that cannot be sundered. The most we can do is try to tilt the equilibrium toward the good. Eric Hoffer

Posted by: B. Jayne on March 19, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

zak822:

Amazing how few of the Bush supporters here are actually interested in the fact that President Bush has broken the law.

I thought most of them insist the President did NOT break the law? There are, of course, those die-hards who insist the President would be correct to break the law too.

Steve High:

The lonely voice of reason and moderation on this thread - good luck to you and Kevin Drum because the radical left-wing is trying to take over your honorable Party.

Posted by: Don P. on March 20, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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