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Two anecdotes

Posted by Greg on November 3, 2010

I’ve had so many things on my mind relating to cluster known as the 2010 midterms, but today two independent things, small and insignificant, really brought home to me what happened to the Democrats this year.

First off, coming home from work I had an envelope in the mail addressed to me.  It lists “President Barack Obama” and “Democratic Headquarters” as the sender and has in big letters, “Deadline: October 29”  Note, today is November 3, the day after the election.

Naturally it’s asking me for money to help with the final days of the election.

“A day late and a dollar short” goes a long way toward how the Obama administration has governed, and particularly in how it is managing its relations with the base.

Next anecdote, I was sitting in the jacuzzi at the gym after working out this evening and there were several elderly gentlemen speaking about yesterday’s election and a couple of them were just droolingly upset about Obamacare, knowing their pensions and health care are being taken away from them, etc.  I tried to engage them for a few minutes, but it really was futile.  They have been fed a lot of nonsense by opportunists trying to scare them and sell them stuff.  It didn’t matter what the facts were, they were scared and livid and by damn, they voted.

It’s easy to talk about how the Democrats have squandered Howard Dean’s work with the Fifty State Strategy.  It’s easy to talk about how independent thinkers and donors and doers have been discouraged in an attempt to centralize and micromanage.  It’s easy to talk about how the White House strategy is too timid, too aloof, and too willing to compromise.  It’s been done before, and how it’s not speculation, we know the result.

A day late, a millions of dollars short, and the agenda up for grabs for the next two years.  Why were the Republicans allowed to control terms of debate?  A dispirited base has consequences, letting the teabaggers lie through their teeth and outright make things up without challenge has consequences.

  1. The 2008 electorate was 74% white, plus 13% black and 9% Latino. The 2010 numbers were 78, 10 and 8. So it was a considerably whiter electorate.
  2. In 2008, 18-to-29-year-olds made up 18% and those 65-plus made up 16%. Young people actually outvoted old people. This year, the young cohort was down to 11%, and the seniors were up to a whopping 23% of the electorate. That’s a 24-point flip.
  3. The liberal-moderate-conservative numbers in 2008 were 22%, 44% and 34%. Those numbers for yesterday were 20%, 39% and 41%. A big conservative jump, but in all likelihood because liberals didn’t vote in big numbers.

The fall of in young and minority voters can’t be understated.  Yes, Sharon Angle is a moron, but Harry Reid will remain a US Senator because he got 90% of the Latino vote.  Nearly comparable  numbers have been reported in California and Colorado which were also relative bright spots for Democrats.

Polls showed before and after the vote that people like Republicans less than Democrats.  They voted for them anyway.  The election was the Democrats’ to lose, and lose they did.

But there are some bright spots.  Yes we had help from the Tea Party, but the Senate held.  Many of the worst of the worst Tea Party candidates lost.  Sarah Palin’s endorsements turned out to be less than golden.

Better still, the remaining House Democrats are, in fact, better Democrats overall.  And Senate Democrats, being farther from the “magical” sixty, are less dependent on individual senators to allow things to get done, perhaps making it more difficult for individual troublemakers to hold legislation hostage.  Time will tell, but there is cause to be cautiously optimistic for the next couple years.

Of course, there’s the down side….election 2012 is now underway.

Posted in Election 2010, Obama Administration, The Left | 2 Comments »

A “love” letter to Democrats

Posted by Greg on September 22, 2010

Some great thoughts reposted with permission courtesy of my friend Isaac Higham.  His remarks are directed specifically at the DADT debacle, but conceptually they apply throughout the Democratic agenda, such as it is – which is kind of the point.

My Dear Democrats,

Let me be frank: I’m pissed.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “I want my government back” tea party pissed.  I’m not upset because policies and changes aren’t moving fast enough for my liking. And I’m not even perturbed that you’re not as progressive as I—for I know that elections are won and governing coalitions are formed in the middle.  When I became a Democrat, I was proud to join the big tent party with a bounty of ideas.

No, I’m pissed because you are dropping the ball when you are called upon to defend the “us’es” from the barrage of Republican bullshit.

Stop letting Republicans divide the American people.

In 2004 when Bush and Rove divided the electorate with the marriage amendments across the country, Kerry said nothing.  When the Republicans divide America with their attacks on immigrants, Muslims, unionized labor and the middle class, the LGBT community, seniors and children, and all of the “us’es” hardly a peep is heard from Democrats calling them on their bullshit.  Oh sure, we battle them on the issues: immigration, religious freedom, marriage, and taxes, but we do not call them out on their calculated pitting of American versus American.

Yesterday, Republicans including John McCain outright LIED about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the Dream Act included as amendments to the Defense Authorization bill.

Their party blocked necessary aid for our troops (who are fighting wars THEY put them in), because they were more interested in being divisive over gays in the military and conditional pathways to citizenship for immigrants who serve in our armed forces and complete higher education.

All I heard in the aftermath was how “disappointed” we Democrats were that the Republicans let partisan politics block basic legislation the vast majority of Americans support.

Where are our “fierce advocates” we hear about every campaign season? Why do we not have more like Franken, Grayson, and Weiner who aren’t afraid to use their passion to call the Republicans on their divisiveness?

Where is the impassioned speech from my President forcefully declaring an immediate stop to the unconstitutional DADT policy and that Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for dividing Americans for partisan gain at the expense of what is best for the country and the American people?

I am a Liberal Progressive and a proud Democrat, but you still need to earn my vote—and right now you have a lot of work to do.  Grow a pair, stand up for the “us’es”, and then get back to me.

-Isaac Higham

Posted in Election 2010, Progressive Agenda, The Left | Leave a Comment »

Who’s important now?

Posted by Greg on November 6, 2008

Jane at Firedoglake has what is, for me at least, a surprising observation:

With 4.5 million members, MoveOn is now bigger than they NRA.  Maybe our leaders should think about that for a while.

Posted in Progressive Agenda, The Left | Leave a Comment »

Sirota on Colbert

Posted by Greg on May 30, 2008

David Sirota of Open Left appears on Colbert to promote his new book. He does well, but the best part was Colbert comparing him to Che Guevara – will college students wear his face while having no clue who he is or what he actually did? I was rolling on the floor last night at that one.

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Posted in The Left | Leave a Comment »

A real new Democrat?

Posted by Greg on May 27, 2008

Is Barack Obama the first of a new generation of post Reagan Democrats?  Joe Gandelman analyses…

Posted in Election 2008, The Left | Leave a Comment »

Getting serious about diversity

Posted by Greg on May 20, 2008

Over the years it’s been pretty hard to be anything less than sneeringly derisive of the GOP’s view of itself as a “big tent” party. It’s been pretty obvious to anyone paying attention that the real big tent is found among the democrats, not just in terms of the party members themselves, but in the wide range of views and ideologies found in the mix. To be sure, there are factions and divisions within the Republicans – theocrats, libertarians, business,etc. But for all the whining and complaining outside in the hall, when it comes time to vote the GOP caucus has been held under remarkably tight discipline.

Why do I bring this up? There seems to be some concern among Democrats, now that we’re winning, that not all democrats are going to toe the “party line” as defined by the person making the criticism, who these days are usually progressives. As Digby summarizes:

There has been a lot of chatter over the week-end about the apparently startling notion that Democrats winning in conservative districts might produce more conservative Democrats.

Jason Rosenbaum expounds:

I do believe in Crashing the Gate’s political calculus. If we elect more Democrats, we will be more likely to pass progressive legislation. In the short term, that means ending the war, health care for all Americans, and a renewed investment in our economy and in green energy. Certainly, electing Republicans will do nothing to advance that agenda, but electing Democrats will only get you so far.

As the Times points out, we’ve elected some shockingly conservative Democrats in recent years.

I understand their concerns. Just as the Religious Wrong is shocked, shocked, to find that a majority of Americans don’t agree with their social agenda, the bottom line reality on the street is that while America is moving toward a Democratic majority – one we hope will be long lasting – that is not the same thing as a progressive majority. Even apart from progressivism, Matt Stoller observes that there are few avenues of support for liberals running as liberals.

I’m noticing a problem related to infrastructure, and that is that liberal candidates on a Federal level have no logistical support in either election or reelection contests. Blue Dogs only give to candidates who pledge to become Blue Dogs, and plenty of good Democrats and liberals are willing to help out Democrats in swing areas regardless of ideology. The DCCC and the DSCC help Democrats with a chance of winning House or Senate seats, and EMILY’s List helps women running for office with fundraising, mailers, field help, etc. NARAL, the AFL-CIO, and Moveon have criteria to help candidates as well, and VoteVets helps veterans. But if you are running as a liberal in an open seat, a primary, or a general election, there is no specific group to back you.

This is important, but it’s only a piece of the puzzle.

A few observations are in order. First off, the “L” word isn’t as powerful as it used to be. After decades of running away from the term “liberal,” democrats who embrace it do well both in primary challenges and in winning general elections and this is true even in traditionally Red districts such as the recent surprise victories in Mississippi and Louisiana. GOP operatives saturated the airwaves with cries of “San Francisco Values” and tied Cazayoux and Childers to Obama and Nancy Pelosi, and still got an electoral whuppin’ on election day. The lessons here are twofold: If your constituents know you, they’re not going to be afraid of the liberal boogeyman, and populist concerns will resonate with the folks back home, allowing candidates in marginal districts more confidence in doing what’s right.

If we are trying to build a lasting coalition, diversity of opinion and differences in approach aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes the GOP leadership ruled with an iron fist but that’s not the way to bring about good government. Politics is the art of the possible, the sharing of power and actually governing. We can do it better and it’s time to show what that really means.

Even from a progressive standpoint, all caucus members are important. Moderate Democrats who vote with you 60% or 70% of the time are going to get you a lot farther than “moderate” Republicans who vote with you 0% of the time. Moreover, they cast certain key votes – for a Democrat as speaker/majority leader and for Democrats as committee chairmen. With the majority you control the process and when you control the process you have exponentially more influence over what the legislation looks like.

But there’s still a lot of room for the “More and Better Democrats” call to action. The last couple cycles we’ve seen, for perhaps the first time, real primary challenges being made against conservative Democrats, and in many cases the challenges are quite reasonable. It’s fair to ask whether a conservative Democrat is truly representative of a bright, dark blue district, and to hold them accountable for indefensible votes they’ve made. For several years I’ve accused the congressional GOP of holding the lube while the Bush Administration systematically rapes the Constitution. This is true, but the extent to which the Bush Dog Democrats have enabled and provided a bi-partisan veneer to things is deplorable, and they deserve some hard questions. It becomes even more repugnant now, with Democrats in the majority, that things like retroactive immunity for telecom abuses are even on the table.

We really are poised at the brink of an historic election. It’s time to think strategically and pragmatically.

Posted in Election 2008, The Left | Leave a Comment »

Markos’ keynote

Posted by Greg on August 7, 2007

He’s looking awful spry for someone with a newborn in the house.

Posted in Politics in General, The Blogosphere, The Left | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Greg on July 23, 2007

Avi Lewis is a moron. Ayaan Hirsi Ali puts him in his place.

As seen at The Reaction:

This clip from a Canadian news show of sorts reminds me why I despise certain segments of the western left. And, no offense to our Canadian readers, but those segments seemed to dominate in Toronto when I was there. Canadian intellectual and political life is at times so provincial that simply spouting a series of crudely anti-American cliches and canards seems to be not only encouraged but to be the only type of public discourse allowed (the fact that Canada’s political and economic well-being rely entirely on American hegemony makes it more annoying still).

Posted in Culture War, The Left | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Greg on May 29, 2007

And don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out. Then again, I don’t care, just go.

It appears Ms. Cindy Sheehan has finally figured out that nobody gives a damn about her, although some of the moonbats appreciated her work to the extent it helped them vent their Bush anger.

John Cole says it very well:

I felt she was nothing but a pathetic woman devastated by grief, and I felt she was used for a good long while by people who don’t really care about her, but found her position to be useful. Oddly enough, she and I somewhat agree on that point in the end. The real moral of this story is that you just can’t run around spewing nastiness at everyone and expect to make a lot of friends or retain a lot of influence. Who would have thunk it?

I never really figured out – or cared to figure out – whether she was just naive or incredibly stupid and self righteous. Either way, she was irritating and ultimately probably did more harm than good to her own cause.

Posted in The Left | Leave a Comment »

The development of ideology?

Posted by Greg on April 21, 2007


“All people are born alike—except Republicans and Democrats,” quipped Groucho Marx, and in fact it turns out that personality differences between liberals and conservatives are evident in early childhood. In 1969, Berkeley professors Jack and Jeanne Block embarked on a study of childhood personality, asking nursery school teachers to rate children’s temperaments. They weren’t even thinking about political orientation.

Twenty years later, they decided to compare the subjects’ childhood personalities with their political preferences as adults. They found arresting patterns. As kids, liberals had developed close relationships with peers and were rated by their teachers as self-reliant, energetic, impulsive, and resilient. People who were conservative at age 23 had been described by their teachers as easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and vulnerable at age 3. The reason for the difference, the Blocks hypothesized, was that insecure kids most needed the reassurance of tradition and authority, and they found it in conservative politics.


Posted in The Left, The Right | Leave a Comment »

Faux news Democrats

Posted by Greg on April 3, 2007

Great piece at Salon on what it means to be a Democrat at Fox News.  Read the whole thing but a couple of points tand oint:

But if one actually watches a lot of Fox News, the in-house Democrats don’t come off as effective evangelists for their party or for liberal politics in general. It sounds harsh, but think of most of the Fox Democrats, at least those who appear on the opinion shows, which take up half the network’s airtime, as one of three types. They are either scary liberals, losers or enablers. Representatives of each type may score some points for Democrats when they appear on-air, but ultimately they help further Fox’s larger narrative about Democrats and liberals and what they stand for.

 Charlie Reina, a Fox News producer from 1997 to 2003, says Fox is “not going to put somebody on there who’s very strong or very articulate in terms of advocating Democratic values or positions … It’s not to say that they’re not truly Democrats or articulate in their own way, but they have to get with the program so to speak.” Reina was once witness, along with “Fox News Watch” host Eric Burns, to an explanation from a Fox News vice president of why Alan Colmes was the right man to appear across from Sean Hannity. Reina paraphrases the Fox executive as saying, ” You know who the perfect anchor is here? Alan Colmes. Because he knows what his role is — he knows that he’s there to set Hannity up, and that Hannity’s the star of the show.”

It’s a pity.

Posted in Media, The Left | 1 Comment »

Willful ignorance on the left

Posted by Greg on January 21, 2007

It’s not just the wingnuts who ignore reality.  We have more than a due share of moonbats too.  And Nick Cohen calls them out on it.

Why is it that apologies for a militant Islam which stands for everything the liberal left is against come from the liberal left? Why will students hear a leftish postmodern theorist defend the exploitation of women in traditional cultures but not a crusty conservative don? After the American and British wars in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic’s ethnic cleansers, why were men and women of the left denying the existence of Serb concentration camps? As important, why did a European Union that daily announces its commitment to the liberal principles of human rights and international law do nothing as crimes against humanity took place just over its borders?

Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal left, but not China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Congo or North Korea? Why, even in the case of Palestine, can’t those who say they support the Palestinian cause tell you what type of Palestine they would like to see? After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington why were you as likely to read that a sinister conspiracy of Jews controlled American or British foreign policy in a superior literary journal as in a neo-Nazi hate sheet? And why after the 7/7 attacks on London did leftish rather than right-wing newspapers run pieces excusing suicide bombers who were inspired by a psychopathic theology from the ultra-right?

Hat tip:  Sullivan 

Posted in The Left | Leave a Comment »

Liberal libertarians

Posted by Greg on December 6, 2006

More from CATO on a libertarian shift to the left:

The conservative movement–and, with it, the GOP–is in disarray. Specifically, the movement’s “fusionist” alliance between traditionalists and libertarians appears, at long last, to be falling apart. To understand what’s happening, look at the Democratic gains made in previously Republican strongholds on Election Day. In “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire, both House seats–as well as control of both houses of the state legislature–flipped from the GOP to the Democratic column. Out in the interior West, Jon Tester squeaked past Conrad Burns in the Montana Senate race, while other Democrats picked up a House seat in Colorado (along with the governorship) and two more in Arizona. These parts of the country are all known for their individualism and suspicion of officialdom–in short, for their libertarian sympathies.

Libertarian disaffection should come as no surprise. Despite the GOP’s rhetorical commitment to limited government, the actual record of unified Republican rule in Washington has been an unmitigated disaster from a libertarian perspective: runaway federal spending at a clip unmatched since Lyndon Johnson; the creation of a massive new prescription-drug entitlement with hardly any thought as to how to pay for it; expansion of federal control over education through the No Child Left Behind Act; a big run-up in farm subsidies; extremist assertions of executive power under cover of fighting terrorism; and, to top it all off, an atrociously bungled war in Iraq.

This woeful record cannot simply be blamed on politicians failing to live up to their conservative principles. Conservatism itself has changed markedly in recent years, forsaking the old fusionist synthesis in favor of a new and altogether unattractive species of populism. The old formulation defined conservatism as the desire to protect traditional values from the intrusion of big government; the new one seeks to promote traditional values through the intrusion of big government. Just look at the causes that have been generating the real energy in the conservative movement of late: building walls to keep out immigrants, amending the Constitution to keep gays from marrying, and imposing sectarian beliefs on medical researchers and families struggling with end-of-life decisions. 

Read it in full.

Posted in The Left, The Right | 2 Comments »

Libertarian Democrats

Posted by Greg on October 2, 2006

Kos gets it – and understands how the wingnut overreach with the Republican’t dominated government turns people off.

It was my fealty to the notion of personal liberty that made me a Republican when I came of age in the 1980s. It is my continued fealty to personal liberty that makes me a Democrat today.

The case against the libertarian Republican is so easy to make that I almost feel compelled to stipulate it and move on. It is the case for the libertarian Democrat that has created much discussion and not a small amount of controversy when I first introduced the notion in what was, in reality, a throwaway blog post on Daily Kos on a slow news day in early June 2006.

Posted in Civil Rights, Culture War, The Left | 2 Comments »

A correct analysis

Posted by Greg on September 20, 2006

Joe Gandelman at TMV has a good review of Al Franken’s movie God Spoke.

And, in the end, Franken remains perhaps less a comedian and snark-artist than a verbal political wrestler. He explains:

I take what they [conservatives] say and use it against them. What I do is jujitsu. They say something ridiculous and I subject them to scorn and ridicule. That’s my job.”

In a sense his comment underscores a structural weaknesses of Air America itself.

Being reactive — the anti-Bush or the anti-conservative — will definitely attract part of the public but to expand and survive, it needs to attract and keep listeners who aren’t already part of its political choir and a broadcast product that has intrinsic informational and entertainment value. Just being there to answer conservative talk is not enough.  

I’ll admit up front I’m not a Franken fan.  He strikes me as a vulgar clown, and an embarassing ambassador for liberal ideas. 

But Joe seems to have gotten the essence of why Air America isn’t competetive.  Reacting vs. acting.  Read the whole thing as it’s interesting.

Posted in Media, The Left | Leave a Comment »