Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Suspect Intelligence

Here's a thought. Most of the cables released by wikileaks aren't classified. 54% were unclassified, 40% were confidential and the remaining 6% had a higher designation. Most came from a network called SIPRNet, which is a major conduit for shared information since 9/11.

While the data is tagged as being from that source, it actually is unknown who obtained the data. Bradley Manning is a prime suspect, mostly based on the leak of the helicopter video and the testimony of Adrian Lamo. I think Manning has provided material (classified or otherwise) to Assange, but probably not the bulk of what wikileaks showed the press. He may be being used as a fall guy, and I think even with a fairly low rank, he could have seen a lot of unclassified material, but the breadth of the information along with the knowledge that it is far more than Manning (or Lamo said Manning) claimed to have downloaded makes me doubtful that there is a single source.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wikileaks - Cui Bono?

I'm going to ruffle more than a few feathers with this post, but there are two words that come to mind when I read over the information Wikileaks is releasing.

Valerie Plame.

This smells like a rather large rat-fucking operation with information on so many fronts being made public all at once. What I see is fairly conventional politics of states, but it is sure to enrage the purists on the left and the nationalists on the right in about equal measure. The first group will wring their ineffectual hands over the evil of the government while the latter will rage at their screens over the release of state secrets.

Who is benefiting from this, really? This is designed to embarrass and compromise people, force resignations, undermine conduct of policy.

This much information being released does not happen without some serious coordination and power. This wasn't done by a few outraged whistle-blowers.


Update - To save pointless speculation, no, I don't think this is the White House trying to make  HRC look bad. They have their hands full making themselves look like dolts, after all. My guess is the remnants of Cheney's operation at State and in the military (potentially with help from the CIA and key news reporters) providing carefully selected stuff to an operation all too happy to tell the "truth", no matter how distorted, misleading, or lacking in context that alleged "truth" is.

No, I don't have much respect for Wikileaks. It's all too eager to play messenger for unknown interests. If you think this latest round of releases is good for anyone except the hard right, you need to get out more.

PS - Thanks, Falstaff! Good catch.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Commenting Rules on this Blog

I've posted this before, but it's been over a year and there are some new names showing up in the comments:
  • Comments on this blog are moderated. If you do not see your comment right away, it is in moderation. Please do not post the same comment more than once.
  • I have a life. Sometimes I can read comments in moderation very soon after they have been posted. Sometimes they will sit for most of the day or even a few days. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
  • If you don't see your comment, it means A) I haven't moderated it yet or B) I moderated it and rejected it.
  • I sometimes get way behind in moderating comments and I reject the entire batch to clear things out. Nothing personal. 
  • If you have put a hyperlink into your comment, I will hold that comment until I can take my time reading what is at the link.
  • If you state in the comment that it is not for publication, I will not publish it. In those cases, I recommend you use the contact link at the foot of the page instead of leaving a comment.
  • If you have said something that appears to be humorous, satirical, ironic, etc., and which could easily be misunderstood, I'm probably going to hold the comment until I can add a follow up or else not publish it. I may get the joke but I hate cleaning up after people who didn't.
  • Anyone who reads my comments can see that I'll approve and release stuff that I strongly disagree with as long as it is civil and thoughtful. Conversely, lack of civility or thoughtfulness, even when the commenter agrees with me, will earn a rejection.
  • If you are rude, TYPE IN ALL CAPS, look like you're getting into a pointless pissing match with another commenter, spam, or generally annoy me, you will be rejected.
  • I sometimes release comments that demonstrate the commenter is a moron. If you posted that comment and get ridiculed because you said something moronic, too bad. Think before you post.
  • Comments of the "I agree!" and "Me too!" variety probably won't be released.
  • I run this blog for my own purposes. I'm not here to promote your blog, support your cause, or otherwise make you happy. If I don't release your comment or add you to my blogroll or mention you in a post, that's life.
  • Comments that have nothing to do with the post will probably get deleted.
  • Sometimes I reply to you with a comment of my own, but I prefer to leave that area for you to voice your thoughts and respond to other commenters. After all, I have the blog itself for my own commentary.
In short, be civil, stay on topic, say something interesting or insightful or provocative without being antagonistic, and I'll release the comment.


    Oh, Happy Day!

    The Bug Man has been convicted.
    Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay -- once one of the most powerful and feared Republicans in Congress -- was convicted Wednesday on charges he illegally funneled corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002.

    Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before returning guilty verdicts against DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces up to life in prison on the money laundering charge.

    Prosecutors said DeLay, who once held the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives and whose heavy-handed style earned him the nickname "the Hammer," used his political action committee to illegally channel $190,000 in corporate donations into 2002 Texas legislative races through a money swap.
    Such a nice thing to read in the paper.


    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    To the Right of Lincoln

    Blanche Lincoln, that is.

    John Cassidy has an article in the most recent New York Review of Books, The Economy: Why They Failed, on just how badly the Obama administration has failed. None of this will come as any great surprise to regular readers, of course, but there are some interesting tidbits in Cassidy's article that deserve some attention. Part of the appeal of this article is the calm, almost dry, recounting of the actions the Obama administration has taken, granting them every claim they have made about why X was necessary or why Z wouldn't work. Cassidy then throws in the counter factuals, and blows the arguments out of the water.

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Imaginary Friends and Political Monsters

    I haven't owned a television since 1989, and encounter it only rarely, such as at a bar or a friend's house. I read about media, entertainment and television on the Internet and in print far more than I watch it. I estimate I watch 8-10 hours of TV a year (broadcasting, not using a TV to view movies or DVDs) and am put off by most of what I see.

    Which leads me to the reports of various head-explosions over Dancing with the Stars, where viewer voting is keeping Bristol Palin in the competition. Being without a TV and completely unwilling to even try to locate clips online of any contestant, I can say that I am unbiased about the relative dancing skills of anyone appearing on the show - don't know, don't care

    What I do care about is that the show is adding to the media relevancy of the Palin name. McCain's choice should have been a sad selection of VP, on par with Gore's ill-advised selection of Joe Lieberman*, notable only for its bald-faced pandering to a certain obnoxious group internal to the party. But a funny thing happened on the way to the defeat, namely that the Left's reaction to Palin cemented her as a hero on the Right, while their beatification of Obama has led to increasing levels of political demonization of people with reasonable criticisms of his ineffectual center-right politics.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Krugman Agrees

    On all counts - Obama's dangerous Reagan worship, on his misrepresentation of Democratic history, and on the deep self-delusion and denial of the Obamacans when confronted with the baldly stated illiberal beliefs of The Precious:
    Some readers may recall that back during the Democratic primary Barack Obama shocked many progressives by praising Ronald Reagan as someone who brought America a “sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.” I was among those who found this deeply troubling — because the idea that Reagan brought a transfomation in American dynamism is a right-wing myth, not borne out by the facts. (There was a surge in productivity and innovation — but it happened in the 90s, under Clinton, not under Reagan).

    All the usual suspects pooh-poohed these concerns; it was ridiculous, they said, to think of Obama as a captive of right-wing mythology.

    But are you so sure about that now?

    And here’s this, from Thomas Ferguson: Obama saying
    We didn’t actually, I think, do what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, which was basically wait for six months until the thing had gotten so bad that it became an easier sell politically because we thought that was irresponsible. We had to act quickly.
    As Ferguson explains, this is a right-wing smear. What actually happened was that during the interregnum between the 1932 election and the1933 inauguration — which was much longer then, because the inauguration didn’t take place until March — Herbert Hoover tried to rope FDR into maintaining his policies, including rigid adherence to the gold standard and fiscal austerity. FDR declined to be part of this.

    But Obama buys the right-wing smear.

    More and more, it’s becoming clear that progressives who had their hearts set on Obama were engaged in a huge act of self-delusion. Once you got past the soaring rhetoric you noticed, if you actually paid attention to what he said, that he largely accepted the conservative storyline, a view of the world, including a mythological history, that bears little resemblance to the facts.

    And confronted with a situation utterly at odds with that storyline … he stayed with the myth.
    What infuriates me about this situation is that the people who were the most rabid Obama supporters, racing around intimidating anyone who opposed The Precious, spreading lies about HRC, gaming caucuses and rigging votes, justified their actions be claiming that HRC was just a front for right-wing interests and would run an administration identical to the one Obama is running now, whereas he would be the reincarnation of the pantheon of Democratic greats all rolled into one. These are often the same people who failed to vote for Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, again claiming that there was "no difference" between them and Bush, that they weren't liberal enough, etc. Gore in particular was singled out for this kind of treatment.

    Obama is wholly captured by the conservative myth of the strong entrepreneurial Republicans leading the nation out of the divisive, wasteful wilderness of the weak Democrats. He said so in his campaign, he has said so every day of his administration, and he may very well bring about the end of the Democratic Party given his determination to follow in Saint Ronnie's footsteps.


    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    The San Diego Experiment

    San Diego, California, is a place to keep an eye on as it serves as a laboratory for Movement Conservative experiments in economic malfeasance and runaway plutocracy, helped along by a marvelously kleptocratic and corrupt Democratic contingent. This is the mess Pete Wilson built. The biggest experiment underway right now is how to use Republican controlled major municipalities to eliminate any kind of retirement for workers except 401(k)s. They just might get away with it.

    The City of San Diego stopped participating in Social Security system in 1982, when Pete Wilson was mayor, in exchange for a city-funded retirement pension and health care package. City employees do not pay into Social Security or Medicare. The current retirement system is a slightly better than Social Security deal for ordinary long-term employees. Short term employees (less than 10 years of employment) are not vested, so it is a worse deal. For a small number of very long term employees who are at the top of the civil service ladder, especially those in Police, Fire or Life Guard positions, it is a much better deal than Social Security. The people at the top have more opportunities to game the system and maximize their eventual payout. In short, business as usual for the oligarchic kleptocracy.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    A Hundred Days

    The combination of Hoover, FDR and Obama as a focus of analysis appears to be catching on. I just read Thomas Ferguson's post The Story Behind Obama's Remarks on FDR on New Deal 2.0. He starts with a quote from a transcript of remarks Obama gave to "liberal bloggers":
    “We didn’t actually, I think, do what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, which was basically wait for six months until the thing had gotten so bad that it became an easier sell politically because we thought that was irresponsible. We had to act quickly.” - President Obama
    There are two things that jump out at me from this quote, regardless of the context.The first is the self-exculpation - we didn't get all we wanted because we took a bolder path than FDR, so don't criticize us! - and the breathtaking erasure of history.

    Um, hello? The First Hundred Days of FDR? The stuff of Democratic legend and the bane of Republicans to this day? FDR moved on the FIRST day of his presidency and did not stop for 100 days, passing legislation that would become the most stunning reimagining of American society since Lincoln and possibly since the founding of the nation.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Richard Sale on the Balanced Budget

    Nothing new from me today kids, but please take the time to read Richard Sale's post The Balanced Budget on Sic Semper Tyrannis. Here is the opening of the article:
    The chief result of the struggle between the impulse to reform and classical economic liberalism in the early part of the 20th century was the welfare state. These partial triumphs of reform occurred because more and more of the population wanted an increase in bargaining power with the great concentrations of wealth, some additional leverage that would provide some reprieve from the harshness of Fate and Misfortune, some badly needed security and protection for the bulk of the people that it had never enjoyed.

    Conventional wisdom – which is to say sanctified hearsay and cliche – had argued for years that the American economic system had no flaws -- that capitalism was a process ordained by God to separate the weak from the strong, the energetic and daring from the ordinary and inert.

    The dogma that claimed Big Business system was God-ordained and that the millionaire was the finest flower of American civilization was at last toppled from its pedestal because the dogma of conventional wisdom had been rendered obsolete by events. People may find it hard to reason, but most of them are able to see, and when dogma cannot account for the facts of experience, dogma falters.  
    Read it all. It is short and to the point. The comment thread is (thus far) reasonably intelligent so peruse that as well. (Pat Lang's blog has a varied and interesting group of regular commenters, btw.) Many of the points Sale makes about the conventionality of Hoover in response to the Great Depression are part of my analysis of the current administration.


    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Prisoner of Conventional Wisdom

    This is one of a set of posts I plan on writing up over the next who knows how long. Like my set of posts identifying the Truman-Stevenson split in the Democratic Party, this will be a partly historical, partly analytical, partly irascible look at the question of how the hell the Democrats in particular and the Left more generally have ended up in such a shitty place, politically speaking. It’s going to be a bit dense.

    A word of caution before I get going. I will be using Obama as an example quite a bit because he is an exemplar of a certain political type. Aside from his use as an example, I’m not interested in the person himself because, well, he’s the exemplar of a political type I don’t have much patience with. Claims about his “real” political agenda, or his secret scheme to hand the country over to Wall Street, or his true political alliances, or his cynical selling out of the country, etc., aren’t very interesting to me, though others disagree. I’m writing political theory here, not a political agenda, and my target is not Obama – he’s the person he is and nothing I say is going to change that – but a political culture that doesn’t comprehend its own fault lines and blind spots.

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Hostage Situation

    I found myself in close to full agreement with The Shrill One's latest column today, The World as He Finds It.  I thought Krugman's observation that Obama negotiated everything "with himself" before trying to engage others was of a piece with Sean Wilentz's New Republic article about the failure of the Obama movement to achieve anything of worth.  As the Krug notes, echoing Wilentz (my emphasis):

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Where Can I Piss?

    As should be obvious to my regular readers, I'm an institutionalist. This goes directly back to my readings of Hannah Arendt and her analysis of political power. One of her lessons, one generally overlooked or underestimated, was about the purpose of institutions in government. Her discussion of two-sided nature of institutions - to act as a barrier against erosion of rights and protections and to be like a scaffold or a trellis to which power, an ephemeral quality of people acting in concert, could cling and thereby be preserved - tended to be dismissed in seminars as old school and an apologia for government authoritarian tendencies. Didn't she understand that power was in the street, in the movement, in the moment?

    Oddly enough, the critics overlooked her agreement with them about sources of power - where else can it come from save "the street" (or in her terms, the public realm) because that is where you encounter unique yet equal others with whom the business of the polity is conducted? - and miss that she is answering the question "What do we do now?" once power has been generated and action is underway. My fellow students were often too caught up in their own struggles against institutions (restrictive family, crappy job, college administration, etc.) to appreciate the function of the structure in the domain of human affairs.


    Marshall Auerback on New Deal 2.0, lays into the Catfood Commission's disingenuous calls for sacrifice:
    This latter development has now gathered pace and found its fullest expression through the US National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (an Orwellian title if ever there was one) established by President Obama. The Commission has proposed a $3.8 trillion deficit cutting plan that would trim Social Security and Medicare, reduce income-tax rates and eliminate tax breaks, including the mortgage-interest deduction. Yes, there are token cuts in Defense spending in the interests of “fairness”, but the cuts are heavily skewed toward middle class entitlements. (Which is a deceiving word because it implies that we’re just a bunch of weak supplicants, dependent on the graces of the government. Why don’t we call these programs “enablements”?) The priorities laid out by the Commission are truly symptomatic of the degeneracy of our governing class compared to the days of the Great Depression. Grand projects started then are still delivering value to communities and private business interests some 80 years after their completion.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Primary Objective

    I've been reading lots of yak-yak in the blogosphere about how there needs to be a primary challenge to Obama. OK, let's talk about that in some real terms. For shits and giggles, we'll toss in 3rd party/independent challenges, too. This gives us two different modes of challenge, one internal to a party and another intended to cut across institutional coalitions.

    There are a few models of what an internal challenge can look like. The classic is a moderately powerful insider taking a run at an incumbent who is clearly failing or is perceived to be weak. In recent times, that gives us Teddy Kennedy's challenge to Carter, Bill Bradley's challenge to Gore, who, as Vice-President, was the default choice for the nomination on the Democratic side, and Ronald Reagan's 1976 challenge to Ford and Pat Buchanan's 1992 challenge to Bush I for the Republicans.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Oh No - He's Your Son of a Bitch

    Obama is not a Clinton Democrat. I'm a Clinton Democrat. I voted for Hillary. I picked the candidate who had the best mix of policies for the middle class and who had the best track record of delivering on legislative measures. I picked someone with a decades long record on human rights and promoting heath care reform. Me and the majority of registered Democrats threw our support to Hillary Clinton.

    Obama did not come to power because of me. I did not give Obama my primary vote. I constantly pointed out his conservative tendencies in my blog. I did not give him any funds. I did not cast a vote for him in the general - I wrote in Hillary's name. I knew what he was and what he would do since November 2007. I did not fall for his bullshit.

    YOU DID.

    You, David Sirota. You Josh Marshall. You, Jane Hamsher. You, Arianna Huffington, and Markos, and Armando/BTD, and Big Media Matt, and Ezra Klein, and Kevin Drum, and Steve Benen, and Digby, and Jeralyn, and Chris Bowers, and all the rest of you self-proclaimed liberal/progressive/radical types who decided that you should be the arbiters of progressivism.You proclaimed "Out with Bubbas, up with Creatives" and swore your allegiance to Whole Foods Nation. Your idol was The Precious.

    You shilled for someone whose political hero is Ronald Reagan. You gave him your votes, your money, your volunteer time, and your seal of approval. You devoted your time and energy to promoting him and brushing away the very valid questions about what he would actually do if he gained the office. You called those of us who dared to ask these questions bitter, low-information, racists, and said we were voting with our cunts. You said that we didn't support Obama because we supported McCain/Palin. You did everything in your power to bully, threaten, shame and intimidate us into going along with your delusional fantasy.

    For crying out loud you fucking threw PAUL KRUGMAN under the bus when he didn't drink your poisoned kool-aid!

    Obama is your creation, not mine.

    He is your son of a bitch, through and through, and is made in your image. He is what he labeled himself - an Obamacan, neither Democrat nor Republican, dedicated to nothings save his own cult of personality. You chose him and made him the media darling you wanted to associate with. You did so knowing exactly what he was, and the single biggest reason you did this was to piss on Bill and Hillary Clinton. All you wanted him to do was beat "that bitch", and it never once occurred to you what your son of a bitch would do when he got into office. This is why I call him The Precious - a beautiful thing that destroys and corrupts everything and everyone it touches.

    Don't you presume to call him a Clinton Democrat.


    Media Darlings and Policy Disasters

    A pattern I'm noticing among former Obama cheerleaders is how quick they are to subsume Obama to Clinton. BTD scornfully dismisses him as a Clinton Democrat, for example, and now Sirota (is it funny that my spell check wants to change "Sirota" into "scrotum"?) is rolling him back into the Clinton/DC/Third Way borg. He has disappointed them, he is no longer top-drawer goods, so now they paint him with the worst epithet they can pull out of their kit-bag - Clinton Democrat.

    None of these esteemed pundits appears willing to cop to the fact that Obama is being completely consistent with what he campaigned on - a platform of feel-good rah-rah and center-right policies, coupled to a deliberate rejection of identification with the Democratic party. Obama was a transformational figure only in their self-indulgent wet dreams. (BTD in particular has no grounds to complain as he explicitly said the reason to support Obama was his media darling status, not his policies.) They supported Obama in order to defeat HRC, and, rather like Obama himself, failed to consider the all important closing line of The Candidate "What do we do now?"

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Demon Bank

    Indulge me for a post while I dream about a basic banking system. With the crap coming out of the Catfood Commission and the continued squeezing of lower income (and not so low income) consumers for their financial options, plus a nod towards the continual invasion of our privacy, I whiled away the evening pondering the possibility of the Demon Bank.

    The Demon part of it refers to how it would be received by the Very Serious People and all of the monied elite. The premise of the bank is to introduce a baseline offering of banking services to the perpetually under- (and just plain un-) served portion of the citizenry who don't have tens of thousands of dollars just lying around to make them the desired customers of giving-you-the-business-as-usual banksters. The two markets this bank would compete against would be local payday loan outfits and regional and national mega banks with their massive ATM infrastructure. In both cases, the main objective is to reduce or remove charges for ordinary, low-risk transactions. The challenge is to not harm local banks and credit unions who are serving their communities well and who cannot leverage scale to distribute operating costs.

    How Indeed

    Pat Lang of Sic Semper Tyrannis posts this today:
    President Obama is a mystery. His enemies have never stopped claiming that he is secretly a Muslim and ineligible for the office of president because of his supposed foreign birth. His approval ratings are in the basement.  In response he travels to Indonesia for what he says is a kind of homecoming.  He gives speeches there about his outreach to Muslims and visits a mosque.  How did this man become president? He seems to lack any real "feel" for the political process in the US. He seems to want to be a statesman rather than a politician
    I share Pat's puzzlement. There are any number of excellent evaluations of the mechanics and strategy of how Obama became president - see myiq2xu's post today The Obama Movement on Confluence - all of which are open for analysis.

    What Lang points at is a variation on the how. Why did this person who does not appear to have a political bone in his body ever choose to pursue this office? It doesn't seem to be something he actually wants to do, laying the foundation for what has followed.

    It is another facet of wanting to be a Democrat for a Day. He wanted to have the moment of attainment, and, that complete, now seems rather nonplused that he has to stick around and do something.


    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Democrat for a Day

    Peter Daou has a blistering post up today, On 60 Minutes, President Obama apologizes to America for being a Democrat. On the whole, the most shocking thing about this post is how little analysis Peter has to put in on it. Most of it is Obama digging himself in deeper and deeper. It was so cringe worthy I had to force myself to keep reading. Most damning to me was this:
    “I think that what happened over the course of two years was that we had to take a series of big, emergency steps quickly. And most of them in the first six months of my administration. Each of them had a big price tag. You got intervention in the banks. You’ve got the auto bailout. You’ve got a stimulus package. Each one with a lot of zeroes behind it. And people looked at that and they said, “Boy, this feels as if there’s a huge expansion of government.”

    “But necessity created circumstances in which I think the Republicans were able to paint my governing philosophy as a classic, traditional, big government liberal. And that’s not something that the American people want. I mean, you know, particularly independents in this country.”
    Actually, history has shown that Americans precisely like classic, traditional, big government liberals, and voted you in thinking you would be one, Precious.

    The Truth of the Bitter White Elite Class

    In the 2008 primaries, I wrote an article The Myth of the Bitter White Working Class that, using the work of Paul Krugman and Larry Bartels, poked holes in the moronic claims by Stevensonian elites that the white working class in America, Bubbas and Bunkers, are collectively responsible for perpetuating Republican rule because they are such knuckle-dragging, low-life, racist, anti-intellectual rubes, clinging to guns and God, as Obama (in)famously put it. I pointed out, way back in April 2008, this was little more than projection:
    The basic problem is that two similar reactions to frustration - anger and bitterness - are getting conflated and transposed in an attempt to explain away Obama's failure at the polls.  ... What we are seeing is the way in which Obamacan bitterness over not getting what they want (and a pony) results in them crudely projecting their biases and fears onto people who are simply voting their interests. Bitterness is a reaction to having been stymied or betrayed, and is not an automatic reaction to having to work hard. I suspect a lot of working class people, regardless of color or gender, look at the shit life throws them pretty much the way I do, which is to sigh, daydream a bit about winning the lottery, and then just getting on with the business of making do with what life has handed you. It's only if you feel entitled to something you haven't received or burdened by things you do not deserve that you become bitter. Anger can be empowering. I have never encountered bitterness that is not corrosive and destructive.

    Sunday, November 07, 2010

    Taking the Lead

    After reading a post on Corrente and having some email exchanges with Lambert (who deserves great thanks for his patience and reasonableness when confronted by crabby bloggers), I'm going to have to call bullshit on the claim that Girl Scouts are rejecting leadership because of endemic lying (and that this is a valid political stance) for a number of reasons. My reasons break into two sets: the structure of the argument itself is fatally flawed and the substance of the argument is tripe.

    Let's talk about structure first.

    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    The Failure of Team Obama

    I've added two new blogs to my blog roll in the last week - Peter Daou, of "The Daou Report" and HRC campaigns's Internet director, and New Deal 2.0, "A project of the Roosevelt Institute, ND2.0 brings you commentary from the country’s leading thinkers: economists, historians, political scientists, policy experts and elected officials." Right on cue, Jamie Galbraith posts one of his smart, succinct, devastating critiques to ND 2.0:
    Bruce Bartlett says it was a failure to focus. Paul Krugman says it was a failure of nerve. Nancy Pelosi says it was the economy’s failure. Barack Obama says it was his own failure — to explain that he was, in fact, focused on the economy. ...

    The original sin of Obama’s presidency was to assign economic policy to a closed circle of bank-friendly economists and Bush carryovers. Larry Summers. Timothy Geithner. Ben Bernanke. These men had no personal commitment to the goal of an early recovery, no stake in the Democratic Party, no interest in the larger success of Barack Obama. Their primary goal, instead, was and remains to protect their own past decisions and their own professional futures


    Lambert beat me to the most amusing line from Bob Somerby's post election take-down, but there is a lot more to the Incomparable One's analysis than the snark about limbic brains.

    What Bob is doing is unpacking the cultural Stevensonian shorthand of "dumb racists" and demonstrating why this narrative does not play in Peoria - Shop of Fools. Focusing on how the phrase "take our country back" is used and abused by various political actors, Bob says:
    [Former Pennsylvania governor Ed] Rendell wants to take our country back already! He wants to take it back so much, he voiced the desire three times.

    Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with what Rendell said. This is standard political talk—so standard that it formed the title of one of Dean’s books. But when Robinson hears this language from the other side, he types a hackneyed column, using mumble-mouthed formulations to advance the one political claim modern liberals know how to advance. Is this as dumb as what Bachmann did when she spoke with Cooper on Wednesday? That would be a matter of judgment. But in our view, it reflects the paucity of actual politics in the burgeoning liberal world. This lack of real politics also appeared when Collins blathered at Maddow.

    Friday, November 05, 2010

    Olbermann Out

    Falstaff says it best: "Keith, we knew ye all too well. Richly deserved -- but for rather different reasons. This is like getting Capone on tax evasion."

    Here are my reasons:

    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    Audacity Deficit

    The Focus Hocus-Pocus
    After all, are people who say that Mr. Obama should have focused on the economy saying that he should have pursued a bigger stimulus package? Are they saying that he should have taken a tougher line with the banks? If not, what are they saying? That he should have walked around with furrowed brow muttering, “I’m focused, I’m focused”?

    Mr. Obama’s problem wasn’t lack of focus; it was lack of audacity. At the start of his administration he settled for an economic plan that was far too weak. He compounded this original sin both by pretending that everything was on track and by adopting the rhetoric of his enemies.  ...

    But he chose a seemingly safer course: a medium-size stimulus package that was clearly not up to the task. And that’s not 20/20 hindsight. In early 2009, many economists, yours truly included, were more or less frantically warning that the administration’s proposals were nowhere near bold enough. ...

    Meanwhile, the administration’s bank-friendly policies and rhetoric — dictated by fear of hurting financial confidence — ended up fueling populist anger, to the benefit of even more bank-friendly Republicans. Mr. Obama added to his problems by effectively conceding the argument over the role of government in a depressed economy.

    I felt a sense of despair during Mr. Obama’s first State of the Union address, in which he declared that “families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same.” Not only was this bad economics — right now the government must spend, because the private sector can’t or won’t — it was almost a verbatim repeat of what John Boehner, the soon-to-be House speaker, said when attacking the original stimulus. If the president won’t speak up for his own economic philosophy, who will?

    So where, in this story, does “focus” come in? Lack of nerve? Yes. Lack of courage in one’s own convictions? Definitely. Lack of focus? No.
    In the interests of not repeating the same sin against The Precious as continues to be committed against the Big Dog, Obama did not do this all by himself. He can bear the bulk of the blame, not the least because his platform was elect me because I am the answer to your woes, but he was enabled be an entire cast of Unity Democrats and Very Serious People and Purchased Fellows, many of them the same people who did their best to destroy their own party leader from 1992 on, and who back-stabbed Gore in 2000. Together they are the gutless wonders who prefer to lose than, well, stand for anything. Not that Obama thinks there's anything wrong with that.

    Audacity is in the doing. Nothing less.


    Dance With Them Who Brung Ya

    The saying goes that you should "dance with them who brung ya," a colloquial way of pointing out that you have substantive obligations towards those who brought you to whatever festive occasion you are attending.

    The Democrats faced the penalty of failing to follow this advice in two ways in the midterms. The people who the Dems didn't want to be seen with in the last electoral round and who have been treated as expendable for the last two years, most crucially white, relatively affluent women, declined the invitation, either by outright defection to the opposition (notably those who are married) or by not voting at all (unmarried women). The party was also rejected by those who they courted assiduously two years ago - independent men and the "youth" vote - who decided to find another dance partner this time around.

    From the LA Times, "Blacks, Latinos stick with shrinking Democratic base" (my emphasis throughout):
    Democrats searching for good news amid the rubble of Tuesday's midterm election results can look to Latinos and African Americans, two groups of voters that stayed with the party in large numbers.

    But that, in a sense, is like taking comfort in that fact that as your house is falling down around you, it isn't also on fire.

    Wednesday, November 03, 2010

    On His Head

    Sorry to keep quoting myself, but when you're right, you're right. On June 7, 2008, I posted The Front Lines of Democracy, an analysis if HRC's "concession" speech. I quoted her at length and then talked about how her presentation of the issues and challenges facing Democratic candidates and constituencies differed from Obama's:

    Against Conventional Wisdom Redux

    On November 15, 2008, I posted an article Against Conventional Wisdom in which I laid out the reasons why Obama had some very good reasons to make a good faith offer of the Sec. of State position to Hillary. We all know how that turned out. As I re-read it tonight, two predictions stood out:

    Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    What Happened to the Hopeium?

    In 1994, the Democrats lost 54 seats. We all knew it was Bill Clinton's fault because he was, you know, a hick.

    In 2010, the Democrats have lost at least 58 seats and will probably end up losing 60+. This is record under performance, worse both in absolute numbers and in probability than 1994, when the Dems retained more seats than they were projected to hold.

    The New Gilded Age

    I'm watching the balance of power wobble along (Boo, Rand Paul! Yay, Andrew Cuomo!) and have some special interest in local and state initiatives (Boo, Prop D! Yay, Prop 19!), but otherwise don't have much invested in the outcome.

    The course for the next generation was set back in 2008, when the Stevensonian elite subverted their own party's electoral process (Be a Democrat for a Day!) so that they could feel morally superior voting for a black man. Obama himself has said quite clearly that no one would bother to vote for him if he was white. This says much of his political calculation, but even more of his supporters. They were truly the Joshua Generation, unwilling to do more than their political predecessors and envious that they could not be cultural heroes like the economic giants of FDR's era or the moral giants of MLK's. And, having aimed so low and compromised so much so they could pretend to stand up to the "racists", they now get to live with that legacy. Unfortunately, so do the rest of us.

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    The Unwashed

    I watch the current electoral folderol with mixed feelings. As for my local charade, I'm voting Yes for most Democrats (but not Jerry), Yes on legalizing pot, Yes on removing the 2/3 super majority vote to pass a state budget, No on most else, and a bothered No on Prop D in San Diego, which asks for a half cent sales tax increase, but only after the mayor has satisfied certain conditions for regulating the city budget, chief of which are union busting and outsourcing. The money gathered is not allocated for correcting any of the budget shortfalls, such as public safety staffing or reductions in public services, and is tied to a midnight pigs-at-the-trough deal with the state giving large sums of city money to a redevelopment agency that has some ethics problems with keeping track of the dough. Isn't Prop D the Stadium Initiative? is how one local small business person (runs a very nice restaurant in my neighborhood, in fact) discusses the proposition, which in this formulation manages to get cover for putting local people out of a job (the union-busting) and hand bags of cash to the local Republican-dominated developer elite who want their downtown taxpayer funded football stadium, damn it!

    Back to the unease.