Why The Progressive Blog Movement Succeeded

I couldn’t disagree more with this whine about the alleged failure of progressive “netroots.” Here it is in a nutshell:

So progressives have no power, because they have no principles: they cannot be expected to actually vote for the most progressive candidate, to successfully primary candidates, to care about policy first and identity second, to not take scraps from the table and sell out other progressive’s interests.

The Tea Party, say what you will about them, gets a great deal of obeisance from Republicans for one simple reason: they will primary you if they don’t like how you’ve been voting, and they’ll probably win that primary.  They are feared.  Progressives are not feared, because they do not believe enough in their ostensible principles to act on them in an effective fashion.

That is why the progressive revolution of the early 2000s failed.  If you want the next left wing push to succeed, whatever it is called, learn the lessons of the last failure.

In other words, this writer is envious of the Tea Party which has stunningly low approval and has, according to most people, denied the GOP recapture of the Senate at least once through these very primaries.

I remember this story very differently. I remember the “netroots” being dedicated at the beginning to “the Democratic wing of the Democratic party” and being very conscious of the power of the gavels in committee chairpersons’ hands. That succeeded fantastically in 2006 when Democrats, led by Howard Dean who coined the “Democratic wing” party’s “50-state strategy,” regained control of both houses of Congress.

To Welsh, that doesn’t matter because neither Clark nor Dean (neither of whom were left-liberals) didn’t get the 2004 nomination and Joe Liebermann didn’t get ousted in 2006. And then he goes on some rant about paid Internet trolls taking over the Internet in 2008 for Obama. Huh? The failure to take a few scalps is irrelevant to, you know, actually doing good for people.

Where were the “progressives” supposed to go in 2008? They hated Hillary and not because she had an individual mandate in her health proposal and Obama didn’t. Some were for Edwards, but he didn’t last and thank god. No, this is a revisionist history of the worst kind.

The “progressive” movement fell head over heels for Obama because they simply didn’t believe what the man himself said. They convinced themselves if he was elected, he would make the United States into Sweden overnight. When he started actually doing what he said he was going to do, they felt betrayed. In fact, it started almost instantly upon his election. The “progressive” movement shat themselves when Rahm Emanuel got named his chief of staff. It just went from there. They cared more about Rahm than SCHIP.

And this continues today with the double-Hofstaedteresque paranoid style of the firebaggers who are convinced that if the Republicans are doing something and Democrats aren’t, it means Democrats are being weak. This is odd for a party that has won 3 out of the last 4 elections and retained the Senate in the election they lost. It was different in 2002 when it seemed as if Gephardt and Daschle were leading the party down the drain and wouldn’t stand up to Bush.

In fact, it seems to me that the progressive blog movement is owed some thanks for all of these victories. But apparently, the failure to enact Sweden makes it a failure for some. We are not going to turn America into Sweden, ever. Just like the Tea Party knows it has to rely on procedural tricks and not popular support to try and turn America into Galtland.

Being more concerned with the scalps of Joe Liebermann and Rahm Emanuel than in tangible policy victories is puerile, futile, stupid, and useless politics.

Why They Hate Krugman

It’s all in this post. Basically, he outs most economists and “serious” economic policy people as apologists and agents for wealth. Most of our high priests of the economy are only minimally concerned with growth and maximally concerned with wealth.

You can say this is a corruption of capitalism or whatever, but until it stops taking a depression to compensate for the differences, I fail to see how it’s a corruption and not just an inevitable outcome of a wealth-concentrating system.

Inflation makes people with tons of money and no debt a little bit less rich all the time, but it makes most of us—probably even close to the proverbial 99%—richer by putting upward pressure on wages, where we actually get our money, and reducing the real value of our debts, which most of us have.

It should go without saying that this isn’t a call for “hyperinflation” where we are using the money we earn before lunch to go buy toilet paper that ends up being worth more than the money we bought it with by dinner time according to the Weimar Republic myths. That would be a disaster too. But the whole point is that you have to tune this and not bias it one way or the other so far that you wreck things.

But doing so is the point of most Republican/Libertarian economics. But yet the fawning enabling media takes them seriously.



Fine, Angela. Make Obama apologize for Bush spying on you. Maybe that shoulder grab incident was because he knew you liked that from staying up late nights with his iPod listening to your dirty cell phone calls. Eww. Cannot unimagine.

But, ok. Here’s the deal. “New Rule,” if you will: if you don’t want the United States to spy on you, then never ever ask us for any intelligence we get off of someone else. No dirt on Putin. No dirt on Egypt. Nada. Nichts. Rien.

It’s one thing for citizens to feel a bit weirded out that they are the subject of electronic intercepts. It’s another for Merkel and heads of state. Was she just talking on a regular cell phone?

Update: Heh, indeedy, Josh.

Greedy 2014

I’m all for pushing to regain the House, and the polling seems to suggest that may happen, but it’s easy to forget that that won’t solve all the problems if we lose the senate. That chamber still is the one that votes on nominations which makes it just a bit more significant. There are some tough races there too.

Pryor in Arkansas is toast. 54.
Landrieu in Louisiana is probably toast. 53.
Montana is going to be a tough hold. 52.
Kay Hagan in North Carolina is going to be a tough hold. 51.
We’re not holding South Dakota. 50.
We’re not holding West Virginia. 49.

I wouldn’t be so sure of Alaska either, but ok. Let’s say we need 1 or 2 pickups.

Pickup opportunities? Kentucky is a possibility if McConnell gets primaried out. I don’t think Maine wants rid of Susan Collins since she has them believing she’s really not so radical, and I guess she’s not, but she’s an enabler. The rest of the map is very, very red. We’re talking Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, two in South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. Georgia and Nebraska have retiring incumbents, but there isn’t even a candidate in Nebraska yet for the Ds.

Basically, the strategy has to be to hold Landrieu and Hagan and pray for some kind of tea party disaster candidate in one of these red states and maybe finding a way to hold Montana and without Schweitzer who is apparently going to try to be the anti-Hillary in 2016. But it’s going to be tough. It’s worked the last two times, I guess.

And of course even if it’s 50-50, that’s awfully tough because senators tend to be old.



I always thought that Cheney, not Bush, should have been impeached. Impeaching Bush would have put this even worse man in charge, to the extent that he already wasn’t. Having to play footsie with a Democratic Congress, Bush would have had to name a second Nelson Rockefeller to replace him or leave the office vacant.

With new revelations coming out this week, I’m even more convinced that was what should have happened.

Means Testing

Again, I don’t think pyrrhic victories really exist in politics. This deal is an unmitigated win for the President. But the one “concession” Reid granted on Obamacare is bad for two reasons (this isn’t to say they shouldn’t take it):

(1) It hits them where it should hit them, making implementation more difficult. Someone needs to think of a slick way to implement this or it’s going to suck. But this just underscores the point that they’re not interested in fixing the system, they just want to break it. If you can’t roll out a website, it gets tougher to argue this.

(2) Reid didn’t think there was time to get into an argument about this. It’s the same basic argument with Voter ID: people’s reaction tends to be “if you’re not lying, what’s the problem?” But, as Republicans are keenly aware when it comes to paying taxes or getting development permits, every form you have to fill out makes it that much more costly and tough. In fact, it probably will end up costing the system money in that more man-hours will be spent checking this verification than it would take to root out fraud. Of course, the trouble is, if you say this then people think it’s a green light to rip off the system, both the people who want to rip it off and its critics.

So, policy-wise this isn’t the best even though the broader policy of not letting a veto point be turned into a control point is good.

Politically, this appeared to drive a real wedge between the pro-business wing of the GOP and the tea-party arsonists. And then there are the poll numbers.

To the extent both of those things make it more likely that more progressive policies get implemented, it’s good.

I still don't believe in political pyrrhic victories, but…

It is the case that the teanuts will be able to say they fought the good fight and if they only had more people in Congress, they could have won this, so they can fundraise.

Of course the more money they raise the more people like Christine O’Donnell end up losing winnable elections for them and the grift continues. These are people who buy gold because of messages they hear on their talk radio telling them “inflation” is going to get them when there hasn’t been much inflation in 30 years.

They are going to send their money for freedom to these idjits and the cycle will continue.

I'd say we're gonna default

The Senate plan that was supposed to come together this morning was going to be blocked by feces demon Ted Cruz, apparently. The GOP’s tea-masters wouldn’t allow a vote on the leadership’s plan there, either.

But these were plans that would send things down the road a while. I suppose it’s still possible that a clean debt ceiling increase will pass in time.

So, what do I think will happen?

I think we might default. Because no matter what the ratings agencies say, the United States has the capacity to pay debts denominated in its own currency even without printing money, I don’t think a “default” for political reasons would necessarily cause as many of the consequences as the experts say.

I’m sure it would cause the rates to go up—but what’s the alternative to the dollar? The Euro, which faces actual default problems still? The pound, which is only independent of the Euro in name? There’s no real alternative reserve currency at this point unless this default lasts more than a little while.

So, if we’re a day or two off the mark, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. But too much longer and the default could cascade sending people who need the money back either from the coupons or the principal to make other payments. They would burn their own credit lines first. (This, I think, opens the door for some kind of Fed action: it could buy all of the bonds seconds before they mature, it could open the discount window to banks who don’t collect on people in this situation, etc. — more bailouts for the 1%.)

That’s not good stuff. The markets may be more than marginally shocked if it actually happens, but I don’t think it will scare people until it gets nearer a week.

The question is how long does the blame fix on the Republicans before the stink of loserdom not sealing it becomes a problem? In other words, where’s the dead-cat bounce in the polls? I worry about that.

The political calculation for the Democrats isn’t often looked at though. For all the talk about palace intrigue in the House, the consequences of this aren’t hard to game out on the other side.

If they capitulate, Obama’s presidency is over. Democratic voters will be alienated and show up in even lower numbers than they did in 2010 next fall. Plus, the GOP will know it can get concessions every time this comes up. He can’t fold. He has to veto at least the first attempt if the wind switches direction and let them fail at overriding.

The Republicans, on the other hand, can pass a “surrender” with only 17 votes right now and let this whip up their base for the next election, blaming their lack of enough of a majority in the house and a senate minority.

It would seem then that the dominant strategy is a GOP fold. But do we have rational actors here?


Some unfinished business on Syria.

When we left Syria for Ted Cruz’s conservagrifter side-show, which has helped the President’s numbers rebound and has increased support for Obamacare, the conversation was still stuck between two poles. The isolationist and pacifist coalition is made up of the usual combination of pacifist fundamentalists and troglodyte isolationists both of whom share in common a total inability to see things the way they are, joined by the politically opportunistic on both the right and left who use anything they can to smear the president and, thereby, draw attention to themselves.

On the other side, there is the sort of “bomb everything” alliance of people like John McCain.

This potion has completely stymied the press, who so inbred and stupid at this point, you’d think they were running for Holy Roman Emperor. They are incapable of seeing the international chess match going on here and seem to think this is just a question of whether daddy is going to spank a child for misbehaving.

Assuming we are not living in a world where there is total peace and where America is neck deep in affairs world-wide whether or not it “should” be, the question becomes: what to do?

Should we just say “why are these deaths from chemical weapons different than any other death?” and say, well, it’s an internal civil war? There’s that word again: should. In reality, most states consider chemical weapons to be weapons of mass destruction inviting retaliation in kind. While we might have a two second debate with Barbara Lee and Ralph Nader on one side and the other 300,000,000 Americans on the other side if this happened in our country, we are having it differently because it’s happening in Syria.

Is there anything about Syria that might flag our attention in this case? Hmm… Syria… oh, oh! It’s next to Iraq! No, that’s not it. If you guessed that two salient facts are that Syria (a) shares a disputed border with Israel and that (b) supplies and allows its ally Iran to supply weapons to its clients in Lebanon you would be right.

Oh, never fear tote bagger, I know you are tired of hearing about Israel! So let’s pretend for a minute that the US isn’t Israel’s ally because you have a sad when they bogart Jerusalem from the peace-loving and buddhist-monk-like Palestinians. Let’s just stick to the facts. Israel has at least 100 sophisticated nuclear weapons, many of which are submarine launched.

Are we getting a little more clarity here?

In 2007, Israel struck a hidden and North Korean designed nuclear reactor in eastern Syria. Publicly, no one is sure whether this reactor was designed to breed fissile material for Syria or whether it was “outsourcing” for Iran or North Korea, but the fact remains it was designed to create weapons grade fissile materials. Just in case you doubt the North Korean connection, North Korea was the only country to protest this incident to the UN and a North Korean ship docked in Syria the day before the strike.

So, let’s just suggest that the use of chemical weapons is brushed off by Obama as just another death in a sad world full of death but it is not treated as such by everyone else. And let’s just say that a country full of chemical weapons like Syria or Egypt—you didn’t know Egypt had chemical weapons did you—that is falling apart accidentally lets some of those weapons slip into some not nice people’s hands and those people decide to martyrdom themselves in Tel Aviv or Haifa.

Totebagger nation would all like to believe that the Jews do their usual thing and get murdered and make everyone else feel guilty, but what if they don’t? What if they do what probably every other country would do and retaliate? And what if someone else retaliates or goes to war?

The United States’s internal political battles, and European anti-Americanism, gave Assad a get out of jail card for one major use of chemical weapons and their patrons in Moscow came up smelling roses.

I repeat again: George Bush was the worst president in American history and everything he did turned to shit. But right now, one of the worst things he did was fraudulently use the pretext of chemical weapons to launch a full-scale invasion of Iraq.

Now when Obama wants to do a small strike against an actual use of chemical weapons, he’s “just like Bush.”

The stupid. It burns.

I'll say it again…

…but, when are the elected GOP members of Congress going to realize that by letting people like Erick Erickson call the tune, they are just disposable playthings for them? Erickson is already blaming everything on McConnell so he can be a hero and primary him in Kentucky.

Seriously, if my own base is going to primary me when the polling says I’m already in deep shit for listening to them, I might consider changing a few things.

Just 18 Republicans could easily create a coalition with the Dems—a sort of “confidence and supply” agreement that would still be able to block things that didn’t have bipartisan support, the way a filibuster in the Senate can, but would still let things function. A pledge not to fund a candidate against those 18, seniority, chairmanships, and a few pet projects all could easily be had. All they have to do is vote for a new speaker, and, perhaps, support the immigration bill.

Just sayin’

Republicans in disarray

And really it’s because, like I said earlier this morning, their stupid inbred teaparty base got under the impression that their taking welfare from niggers cutting entitlements agenda was more important than the corporate profit agenda. Stupid baggers, trix are for the 1%!

The sooner these people learn that the entire pseudo-intellectual edifice of “small government” is a post-hoc rationalization of the greed of the established rich and that they are worshiping false prophets of a false god, the sooner things will get back to normal.

This stories is a great example: teanut admitting defeat on Obamacare. Also McCain telling the tea party to get off his lawn is great too.

The Phone Call.

Who’s really in charge of the Republican party? Well, you got your answer this morning for sure, but it was clear earlier when Koch Industries said we’re don’t have anything to do with the debt ceiling.

I’m not here to say the Koch brothers are the puppeteers, but it is they and those like them that ultimately are putting a stop to this. Why?

Simple. Government bonds are the bedrock of the investor’s world and the more wealthy you are, the more likely it is that a large component of your investment income is from bonds that pay a coupon, usually every six months, instead of volatile stocks. VA services and national parks being shutdown don’t affect these folks. This does.

That’s why Tan Man blinked this morning and it’s why (for once) Obama knew better than to negotiate on this. He, along with some of the nuts on talk radio et al. probably got a phone call from their donor base telling them to STFU about this one.

Six weeks from now we’ll be on to another missing white girl or something.

Democrats, Always So Reasonable

So, by the Republican spin on this, if you get told to give a thief your wallet at gunpoint and refuse and are killed, you are a murderer. Great. Then let’s be the thief and make some demands back.

No CR. Pass the Senate’s budget, eliminate the debt ceiling permanently, and pass a law calling snap elections for the House every time there’s a government shutdown.

In most parliamentary countries, failure to pass a budget, or a “supply” bill is the equivalent of a no confidence motion and forces elections.