Zombie Apocalypse: Return of the Goo-Goos

Recycling gets a bad name because too many well-intentioned people think it involves taking leftover crap nobody wanted in the first place, cutting it into smaller portions, and repackaging it with a stridently ‘better for you, nicer for THE PLANET’ marketing campaign. And there are always grifters looking to use these nice folks’ good intentions for their own ends. This is as true for political movements as it is for motheaten, outdated sweaters or your grandma’s refrigerator casseroles. Witness the new “No Labels” campaign, as described by Slate‘s Christopher Beam:

… A group of political and media A-listers descended on Columbia University Monday morning for the group’s big launch event, which co-founder Mark McKinnon dubbed in his introductory remarks “our little Woodstock of democracy.” No Label seeks to be the voice of reason in an increasingly hyper-partisan environment—a counterweight to interest groups at either end of the political spectrum. Instead of rewarding candidates who spew partisan talking points, No Label says it will raise money for moderate candidates who embrace what co-founder Jon Cowan calls the “three C’s”: co-sponsors, common ground, and civility.
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The guest list at Monday’s confab said as much about the group as its slogan. Attendees were a mix of media commentators (David Brooks, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski), recent political losers (former Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist), politicians who aren’t seeking re-election (New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh), and moderates who have special permission to buck their party (incoming West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman). In other words, a bunch of people with nothing at stake…
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No Labels sounds noble in theory. But the group misunderstands what bipartisanship is. It’s not two parties deciding to be nice to each other. It’s a moment when their self-interests happen to align—moments that are increasingly rare. Washington does not have a “civility problem.” It has a polarization problem. Politicians aren’t any meaner now than they were 30 years ago. It’s just that over the last few decades, the two parties have become more ideologically coherent…
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“The rest of the country is not hyperpartisan,” McKinnon told the Washington Post. “They say: ‘There’s MoveOn on the left, the tea party on the right and nothing in the middle for me.’ We’re trying to become a microphone for those voices, to create a system that rewards and gives a shout-out for good behavior.” One audience member echoed this point on Monday, arguing that “independents don’t care about labels.” Wrong. Independents pretend not to care about labels. In fact, the vast majority of so-called independents lean toward one party or another. The number of true independents who switch from party to party is 5 percent to 10 percent of the electorate.

That would be “one of the group’s founders, Republican consultant Mark McKinnon“, for those keeping score at home:

…It will form a political action committee to help defend moderate candidates of both parties against attack from the far right and the far left, said John Avlon, a founding member and one-time speechwriter for former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani ( R )…
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Although No Labels bills itself as a citizens’ movement, its leaders are veterans of campaign politics. McKinnon was a senior adviser to President George W. Bush ( R ) and to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during his 2008 presidential bid. Another co-founder, Nancy Jacobson, is a prominent Democratic fundraiser who worked on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns and whose husband, Mark Penn, was the chief strategist for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. The group’s other founders include Catherine “Kiki” McLean, a longtime Democratic operative and Clinton veteran; William A. Galston, a top Clinton domestic policy aide; and David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter…

Republicans and ex-Clintonistas, spanning the political gamut from far-right to center-right! Hey, no point bothering with ‘unserious’, non-Right points of view, if your whole purpose is to encourage that all-American chimera known as “Centrism”. McKinnon & Mark Penn, together again — and if either one takes you by the hand, be sure to count your fingers afterwards.

There have been any number of high-minded, low-souled third party “civility” movements in American political history — Matt DeLong tallies a few recent examples — but I believe No Labels harks back to the poisoned wellspring, the Goo-Goos of the original Gilded Age:

The goo-goos, or good government guys, were political groups founded in an era when urban municipal governments in the United States were dominated by machine politics. Goo-goos supported candidates who would fight for political reform. The term was first used in the 1890s by their detractors.
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In New York, the exclusive City Club was the domain of “goo-goos,” who sponsored “Good Government Clubs” in every assembly district. Their efforts led to the election of a reform mayor in 1894, a setback for the political machine known as Tammany Hall.
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Members of several political reform movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were often labeled as goo-goos, including the Mugwumps and the Progressives.

Ah, Tammany Hall, shorthand for political corruption, “the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in controlling New York City politics and helping immigrants, most notably the Irish, rise up in American politics from the 1790s to the 1960s.” What decent individual would not draw back from any association with a monster like Boss Tweed? And yet that horrendous “political machine”, and its myriad imitators in other cities, were born from the honest struggle of the new, urban working class, former farm laborers and immigrants, to wrest their share of the American Dream from the tiny cadre of well-educated, property-owning “gentlemen” who wanted to reconstitute the nation as an oligarchy in all but name after the Civil War. “Machine” politicians, ward heelers, were low men with dirty hands and mockable accents, and their all-or-nothing contests against the fine gentlemen who chose Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison as their presidential representatives were regarded by all Very Serious People as part bad joke and part lethal threat to democracy. Ward heelers urged their ragged, semi-literate urban constituents to vote, brokered deals between factions (Irish cops, Jewish peddlers, Italian small shopkeepers), provided tally sheets of candidates who could be trusted to vote in favor of more spending on public services. Their vulgar bean-counting, their willingness to trade votes for small concrete favors, their advocacy of small-d democratic pleasures like Sunday shopping and cheap beer — anathema!

Of course, politics is forever a matter of counting votes and trading favors, but decent people of a certain class preferred their solons to disguise the crude realities behind a facade of fine oratory and Civic Virtue. And the well-fed, well-heeled professional grifters and swindlers who answered to Jay Gould and J.P. Morgan were happy to encourage the Midwestern nativists and streetcar suburbanites in their fantasy conviction that “Good Government” should be restricted to those who attended the proper churches, graduated from the right schools, and held the proper (very conservative) opinions about teetotalism, immigration, the proper role of women, and the extension of the voting franchise. Sound familiar?

“No Labels” is nothing we haven’t heard before. So perhaps it’s only fitting that “the advertising agency veteran whose firm designed the graphic for the fledgling centrist political organization No Labels acknowledged Tuesday morning that his design was taken whole cloth from the logo of another political group. (Think of it as repurposing, not plagiarism!)

And if its new theme song is a celebration of political ignorance (“… you may not understand this whole process and how things go… “) Auto-tuned to the point that it sounds like the bastard offspring of a speech synthesizer and a drum pad, well… truth in marketing, at least.






74 replies
  1. 1
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    These goo-goos hurt my fee-fees, you cudlip.

  2. 2
    valdivia says:

    Because the Penn’s are involved and I see Bayh’s name I am calling this little event the launch of his campaign for President in 2012.

    You heard it here first people. Bayh was told by the Penn team to quit the Senate to run against Obama.

  3. 3
    Scott says:

    “No Labels” is nothing we haven’t heard before.

    No kidding. I’ve seen the “New Moderate and Independent and Centrist and Rich and Basically Republican Party for People Who Are Moderate and Independent and Centrist and Rich and Basically Republican” so often, I can’t even remember all the old names they came up with.

  4. 4
    El Cid says:

    If only we could finally realize that our fundamental policy goals which astoundingly clash such that one policy would be a disaster and favor a tiny set of elites or cultural / ethnic subgroup to the harsh exclusion of others, versus policies which are sane and reasonable and favor the interests of the vast majority and do not attack other ethnic / cultural subgroups are just an illusion and we need to work together.

    If one group proposes shooting you and killing you, and the other group proposes not shooting you and not killing you, we need to come together beyond all these labels and come up with policies that help us all.

    Perhaps shooting and just wounding you very seriously. Perhaps stabbing you instead of shooting you. Perhaps giving a one year extension at the end of which your situation and you will be shot and killed if certain conditions aren’t met — a “trigger”, if you would.

  5. 5
    robertdsc-PowerBook says:

    A Predator drone strike on their next meeting would be a good thing.

  6. 6

    Every time I hear Morning Ho’s name associated with centrism, I have a consistent urge to throw up. And I guess because he’s not a “recent” political loser, he somehow gets to wear the moniker media commentator.

  7. 7

    Here are a few apt labels for them: Beltway Insiders, Compromise Monkeys, Cult of Centrism, and The Unemployed Career Politicians.

    I think that about sums up this group.

  8. 8
    El Cid says:

    By the way, one of the greatest reasons for such resentment of Tammany Hall’s corruption in giving jobs out to its wards is that Tweed et al gave jobs to the ethnic groups and lower class groups and labor unions and small and lower capital businesses not associated with the dominant WASP ethnic groups and non-Southern-tied Republicans, and bringing them into the Democratic Party.

  9. 9
    Karen in GA says:

    Unity ’08!

  10. 10
    geg6 says:

    @Scott:

    Seriously. This is old dog shit in a brand new, shiny paper bag that they hope and pray we’ll all step on as we run out of our houses to vote for such VSPs.

    Anything Mark Penn and Mark McKinnon are attached to cannot fail to be anything other than dog shit.

  11. 11
    geg6 says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Every time I hear Morning Ho’s name associated with centrism, I have a consistent urge to throw up. And I guess because he’s not a “recent” political loser, he somehow gets to wear the moniker media commentator.

    Especially since he really should wear the moniker “murder suspect.”

  12. 12
    Buck says:

    ‘There’s MoveOn on the left, the tea party on the right and nothing in the middle for me.’

    OT, sorta. Does MoveOn even still exist? The MSM never mentions them any more. Plenty from the teabaggers… but zilch on MoveOn.

  13. 13
    Buck says:

    Moving shit to the far-right and calling it “the middle” has been the neocon game plan for some time now.

    And it’s working… beautifully.

  14. 14
    El Cid says:

    Another radical liberal partisan notion for the Democrats which will never pass and isn’t the sort of thing a true No Label group could possibly support.

    But instead of getting into any further arguments over rates and exemptions, Democrats would be better off conceding defeat. They should allow Republicans to get rid of the estate tax altogether — but at the same time arrange for inherited wealth to be subject to income tax.
    __
    After all, the Democrats have already lost the battle. The president’s proposal is fresh evidence that even Democrats have given up championing the fundamental value that the estate tax was originally intended to promote. This tax, first enacted in 1916, was never intended to be simply a device for raising revenue. Rather, it was meant to address the phenomenon of a small number of Americans controlling large amounts of the country’s wealth — which was considered a national problem.

  15. 15
    El Cid says:

    @geg6: I’d be amused enough by “intellectual author of the crime.”

  16. 16
    jwb says:

    Seems to me that the low-level organization of machine politics is one of the things the left is sorely missing these days, whereas the right, whether you want to claim it as astroturfing or not, seems particularly adept at it. The activist left has been astoundingly inept at everything it’s attempted the past two years except blaming Obama for its woes.

  17. 17
    debit says:

    @peach flavored shampoo: Then everything is WAI.

    (sorry, I had to do it.)

  18. 18
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Cut taxes, gut social security, deregulate and occasionally bomb the wogs. IOW- Garden variety Republicanism without talking about any of those “social issues” like those polyestery people who always talk about religion in such a vulgar, embarrassing way.
    (Mika Brezinski? Is she supposed to be a pundit now? I thought she was the news reader to Scarborough’s slightly shock-jocky persona? I know she thinks, or at least says, that Sarah Palin speaks for “real Americans” and that legendary racist, anti-Semite, Fascist-worshipper and Holocaust denier Pat Buchanan is her favorite pundit, because he says what “we’re all thinking”)

  19. 19
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Rightist partisan dickweeds assert leadership of huddled masses yearning to be free.
    ???????????????
    Profits!

  20. 20
    Legalize says:

    Will Harold Ford be taking a helicopter tour of the Goo-Goo Nation?

    By the way, are they just “Goo-Goos”? Or are they Goo-Goo Dolls? Goo-Goo Dogs? Goo-Goo Mucks?

  21. 21
    JGabriel says:

    Anne Laurie:

    That would be “one of the group’s founders, Republican consultant Mark McKinnon“, for those keeping score at home…

    There you go again — labelling people with their political and professional affiliations, simply because that’s what they’ve worked for their entire adult lives, as if that tells us anything about who they really are inside. Who can read the depths of the human heart?

    It’s just like you commies to try an’ simplistickify patriotic Americans!

    .

  22. 22
    GregB says:

    The Goo-Goo’s are turning, they turn in clusters.

  23. 23
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    No Labels = Still Embarrassed to be Republican

  24. 24

    I really rather like it when you get worked up Anne Laurie. I mean, I like the animal threads, etc, very much — but I’m used to all the other people being in a froth! Your froth is very special froth, is what I’m saying.

    And also, too: Here’s what I would like to say to everyone from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (both of whom I love with the heat of a thousand firey suns) and this ridiculous No Labels “movement” (which I most certainly do not love, not even with the heat of a single, solitary sun):

    Labels are fine. I like my labels, because I really and truly am a liberal and a feminist and these words mean something and I am proud to associate myself with those things.

    What I would like is more honesty about labels, about who’s sporting what and what those labels actually, truly mean.

    And then I would like more genuine engagement with people who think differently than me. I don’t mind that people think differently than me — I would just like us all to be honest about what we’re thinking.

  25. 25
    chopper says:

    and god, these bland chumps are still going to be more organized than we are. look at the way ‘progressives’ fight back after some crazy negative political thing comes out that impacts someone.

    hey you guys over there, you guys start making a ‘community quilt’ for the guy that was wronged.

    you guys there, you start writing some clever parody songs to the tune of well-known christmas songs that lampoon the guys that did it.

    you guys there, come up with an organization we can found to fight this stuff but make sure to spend the first 6 months coming up with a really clever acronym for it.

    you guys over there, start a demonstration but make sure at least half the people there are protesting something entirely different like animal rights or ‘impeach bush’ or something.

    you guys there, go bitch on the internet.

  26. 26
    celticdragonchick says:

    @robertdsc-PowerBook:

    A Predator drone strike on their next meeting would be a good thing.

    Better nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  27. 27
    jwb says:

    @chopper: Yup, I wouldn’t even mind the Obama bashing if I felt it was a sign that the left was organized to do something productive.

  28. 28
    The Moar You Know says:

    “No Labels” is nothing we haven’t heard before.

    You’re right about that.

    It’s made to look like the first punch back from the established Republican leadership against the teatards. It isn’t.

    The strategy is all too apparent – split the Reagan Democrats out of the Black Man’s Party, get them behind Bayh, Romney or Bloomberg, and hopefully with those Reagan Democrats and the mythical “moderate Republicans”, they can cobble together a coalition that will do to Obama what was done to H.W. Bush back in 1992 and split off just enough votes to hand the election to the GOP or a Blue Dog Democrat.

  29. 29

    @Legalize: I would be willing to bet that the Goo Goo Dolls would not enjoy the association with these people.

  30. 30
    celticdragonchick says:

    @El Cid:

    By the way, one of the greatest reasons for such resentment of Tammany Hall’s corruption in giving jobs out to its wards is that Tweed et al gave jobs to the ethnic groups and lower class groups and labor unions and small and lower capital businesses not associated with the dominant WASP ethnic groups and non-Southern-tied Republicans, and bringing them into the Democratic Party.

    Yep. That moral fable we all get fed from childhood? The one where the immigrants come over, have a hard time for the first half hour of the movie and then strike it rich with hard work, pluck and good old American boot strapping without any help from the gubmint or anybody else?

    Utter horseshit.

  31. 31
    celticdragonchick says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    …they can cobble together a coalition that will do to Obama what was done to H.W. Bush back in 1992 and split off just enough votes to hand the election to the GOP or a Blue Dog Democrat.

    You just about had it.

  32. 32
    Mike Goetz says:

    Mark McKinnon, Joe Scarborough, Mike Castle, Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, Mark Penn, Michael Bloomberg, Charlie Crist, David Frum, Harold Ford

    I’ve got a nice label for this clown car of the damned: FOAD

  33. 33

    @Buck: That’s the biggest danger of stuff like the Tea Party bullshit — not that millions will flock to them, but suddenly the people one degree to the left look sane and reasonable by comparison.

  34. 34
    lacp says:

    A new group promoting Centrism? Wow, I haven’t gotten such a thrill since the last time I ate white bread dipped in milk.

  35. 35
    jwb says:

    @celticdragonchick: Yes, and it also shows why determining whether a particular action is “corrupt” is often not a straightforward exercise. For instance, it will probably take some form of serious “corruption” and extra-legal maneuvering reminiscent of Tammany Hall politics to break the systemic corporate corruption of our current political landscape.

  36. 36
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @The Moar You Know:
    Good thing that it’s impossible that the sensible, middle-of-the-road candidates that will undoubtedly be championed by this group will in any way resemble Blue Dogs or Republicans. Moreover, I am positive that their unbiased examination of the issues will provide proof positive that tax cuts raise revenues and create jobs, perpetual war is good for us, and Wheaties don’t get soggy when you pour milk on them.

  37. 37
    Redshift says:

    @lacp: What, no mayonnaise? You’re hardcore.

  38. 38
    Jim, Once says:

    Oh, Annie. So much awesome sauce here. Posts like this are why I spend a ridiculous amount of time on this blog.

  39. 39
  40. 40
    Hogan says:

    @jwb: They still have their churches; we don’t have our unions.

    Everyone needs to see this. Maybe not this morning, but definitely by the end of the week.

  41. 41
    p.a. says:

    A local town holds non-partisan mayoral elections, with qualifying candidates being listed alphabetically. The mayor at the time of the changeover to non-p/alpha ballots legally changed his name from Russo to aRusso. A challenger some years later added ‘aa’ to his last name to appear on top of the ballot. He lost.
    Not important info., but just putting it out there. Sarah aPalin, anyone?

  42. 42
    SenyorDave says:

    As Michael Kay, former Yankee beat writer describing a somewhat mediocre Yankee infielder, once said, “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit”.

    The people associated with this idea are a laundry list of shitbags.

    What we need is a media that when they interview a Ron Paul says okay, Senator Paul, now that you are in the Senate, how would you balance the budget (and start paying down the debt)? Ask for specifics.

    I think Christopher Walken had it right when he said “more cowbell”.

  43. 43
    jwb says:

    @SenyorDave: Except you hope that whichever journalist interviews Ron Paul would know that he’s a representative and that it’s his son, Rand, who is the senator.

  44. 44
    Nutella says:

    “a bunch of people with nothing at stake”!!! Too funny.

    We already have a centrist organization called Move On and a centrist president so we don’t need any new centrists.

    These people are just the righties who are embarrassed by the colorful antics and low-to-middle social class of the teabaggers but agree with them on every substantive issue. In other words, the Tea Party in a nice suit and tie.

  45. 45
    gnomedad says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:

    Labels are fine. I like my labels, because I really and truly am a liberal and a feminist and these words mean something and I am proud to associate myself with those things.

    I think I know what a “feminist” is, but if you’ll forgive my victimizing you somewhat at random, what do you mean by identifying as a “liberal”? I don’t want to surrender to the right’s campaign to demonize the word, but I suppose they have succeeded to the extent that I’m not sure it has a clear meaning. To the extent that I consider myself a liberal, I support a social safety net, regulated markets, progressive taxation, etc. I fancy that my thinking is informed by traditionally “conservative” concerns such as limited government and preferring incentives to mandates. What about you? Is it about values, or policies, or both? What’s essential, and what’s tactical?

    Oh, and apropos the topic, I fully appreciate that the “far” left is almost non-existent, and the far right has become the norm, so my question is not about “centrism”.

  46. 46
    jwb says:

    It’s the “no labels” part that I find so amusing, because this group is just so corporate, and if there is anything that corporate America believes in absolutely it’s the power of branding.

  47. 47
    Ash Can says:

    Ideally, a movement like this would morph into a large and well-organized group of moderate Republicans who would train their sites on the cretins and psychos who have taken over the GOP, wrest the party from their fetid grasp, and relegate them to the loonybin of history. Sadly, movements aren’t movements without people, and the venal cads populating this movement will ensure that it won’t even begin to do any good, so such an idea is no more than smoke swirling in a bong. Realistically, I just hope that they turn out to be so disorganized and incompetent that their fuckery is minimized.

  48. 48
    gnomedad says:

    @jwb:

    It’s the “no labels” part that I find so amusing, because this group is just so corporate, and if there is anything that corporate America believes in absolutely it’s the power of branding.

    Heh. Prior to this post, I’d only been vaguely aware of “No Labels” and was confusing them with “No Logo”.

  49. 49
    jsfox says:

    @JGabriel:

    Not that you don’t have a point, but up until Bush II running for President Mark was a Democratic consultant.

  50. 50
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    @El Cid: Is it wrong that my reaction was “Oh my god, another Madoff? Note to self: stop reading right now.”

  51. 51

    @gnomedad: Oh man, these are excellent questions and I don’t have time to really engage in them right now! I’m sorry.

    In super-brief I would say: What you listed means “liberal” to me, too, but I don’t have the limited government piece informing me, because I firmly believe in regulation, and I think incentives should go hand in hand with mandates. All of it is about values that I believe should be expressed in policies. As to what’s essential and what’s tactical, I very rarely think like that (I’m a bleeding heart, you see), so I would really have to think to come up with an answer, and that’s the part I don’t have time for!

    But I like to say I’m a values voter, because I’m a liberal Democrat because of my values.

  52. 52
    liberty60 says:

    From the blind squirrel dept.:

    George Will once said something that has stuck with me- (stop laughing, and listen, you kids)-
    He said something about how conservatives are proud of their label, but when asked, liberals would consistently wring their hands and nervously stammer about how “labels don’t matter”.

    Whatever else he writes that is crap, this is true. The causes of the brand shame are legion but irrelevant- as long as we run and hide every time someone shouts “liberal” we will lose, or worse yet, embrace their logic, i.e., that taxes are theft, and the only argument is how much to cut.

    Labels DO matter- and we liberals need to start the drumbeat of our own:

    1. Government is good and useful, to do things the private sector can’t/ won’t;

    2. Taxes are the fair price we pay for services;

    3. Wealth inequality, even earned fairly, is inherently dangerous to democracy.

    Simple ideas, but pounded loudly, proudly, consistently.

  53. 53
    Jim, Once says:

    @liberty60:

    He said something about how conservatives are proud of their label, but when asked, liberals would consistently wring their hands and nervously stammer about how “labels don’t matter”.

    I dunno – maybe I was just born too early (1945), but I’ve always been proud of being a liberal, have never hesitated to proudly assert it and am still utterly baffled by some of the responses I get to that statement, ranging from “You actually admit that?” to derisive laughter.

  54. 54
    Paris says:

    “political and media A-listers”

    Not how I would describe them.

    Its just we have been lacking. A group of millionaires to dictate our politics.

  55. 55
    pandera says:

    Great essay. Great writing. Nuff said.

  56. 56
    MaximusNYC says:

    I heard a story on the radio yesterday about how 2 of New York state’s “third parties”, the (progressive) Working Families Party and the Conservative Party, have earned more prominent lines on the ballot due to good performance in last month’s election.

    The reporter interviewed a WFP leader who said, “Voters want parties that have content.” That sums it up beautifully, I think. “No Labels” might as well be “No Content” — they are positioning themselves as somehow “non-ideological”. But no one wants to vote for a party that doesn’t stand for anything.

    Of course we know they actually do stand for something — namely, the maintenance of the status quo and the current establishment.

  57. 57
    JustMe says:

    The one where the immigrants come over, have a hard time for the first half hour of the movie and then strike it rich with hard work, pluck and good old American boot strapping without any help from the gubmint or anybody else?

    Well, no, but my early immigrant forebears did get hooked up with decent jobs at the postal office, which was due to a combination of machine politics and ethnic cooperation/favor trading.

  58. 58
    Mark D says:

    So … let me get this straight.

    A bunch of solid-right and center-right career political operatives are going to represent a bunch of non-solid-right and non-center-right people by virtue of not being labeled … which they will achieve by … creating a “No Label” label for themselves?

    Seems to me that all of these clowns are either not welcome in the GOP because they’re not quite yet 100% batshit insane (though a few will probably get there soon), yet aren’t welcome in the Democratic party because they are 100% centrist douche bags lacking any principles (even the few the Dems still have).

    So, yeah. Not new.

    Just a bunch of sore losers who are stomping their feet in an effort to gain attention.

  59. 59
    ChrisS says:

    Where do these people keep getting the money to throw parties for themselves?

  60. 60
    gnomedad says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:
    Thanks for the reply! I also like @liberty60‘s points:

    1. Government is good and useful, to do things the private sector can’t/ won’t;
    2. Taxes are the fair price we pay for services;
    3. Wealth inequality, even earned fairly, is inherently dangerous to democracy.

    I also think that #1 is not incompatible with holding that government should have well-defined limits. As should private power. :)

  61. 61
    Mrs. Polly says:

    Even though she has the questionable honor of being married to Mark Penn, do we have to assume that Mark Penn’s wife is simply an extra appendage of his? Has she no identity or opinion of her own?

    Remember when Jane Hamsher went after the Komen Center for the presence of Hadassah Leiberman as if she were just Joe in a dress? Is no political spouse allowed a separate identity? There are always connections, quid pro quos and dirty understandings, but shouldn’t some harder evidence that Mrs. Penn = Mr. Penn be presented, as opposed to simply substituting his name for hers?

  62. 62
    Karen says:

    Maybe I’m dense but what’s the matter of being somewhere in the middle? I thought the whole point of the Rallies that Stewart and Colbert held was to say that there was a portion of the country that wasn’t extreme.

    I’m not saying anyone here is extreme but I don’t see the evil of being moderate.

    I consider myself to be socially liberal with what used to be consdered to be fiscally conservative (I believe in financial responsiblity and not spending what you don’t have). I’ve been a Democrat all my life but according to the “rules” because I’m moderate that makes me a secret Republican. But by the same token, GOP who are (or were) moderate are considered to be RINOs.

    What makes a Democrat or Republican anyway?

  63. 63
    gnomedad says:

    @Karen:

    Maybe I’m dense but what’s the matter of being somewhere in the middle?

    Sometime the attack on “moderates” comes from doctrinaire lefties, but often the complaint is that a “moderate” pose on the part of establishment press and pundits reinforces an already pretty conservative status quo. As frequently noted, the current health care reform is based on what used to be Republican ideas; also, “cap and trade” used to be a market-based policy before it became the spawn of the Kenyan Commie Mooslim Nazi. So I thought these were already “moderate” positions.

    That said, I sympathize with your exasperation. Sometimes I feel like the term “moderate” is being trashed by the left the way the term “liberal” has been trashed by the right. I’d really like to reclaim it, but it may be more important to reclaim “liberal” right now.

  64. 64
    sparky says:

    There have been any number of high-minded, low-souled third party “civility” movements in American political history—Matt DeLong tallies a few recent examples—but I believe No Labels harks back to the poisoned wellspring, the Goo-Goos of the original Gilded Age:

    oookay….

    Tweed: (wikipedia entry)

    The new charter put control of the city’s finances in the hands of a Board of Supervisors, which consisted of Tweed, who was the commissioner of public works, and mayor A. Oakley Hall and comptroller Richard B Connolly, both Tammany men. Hall also appointed other Tweed associates to high offices – such as Peter B. Sweeny, who took over the Department of Public Parks[9] – providing the Tweed Ring which even firmer control of the New York City government[10] and enabling them to defraud the taxpayers of many more millions of dollars. In the words of Albert Bigelow Paine, “their methods were curiously simple and primitive. There were no skilful manipulations of figures, making detection difficult … Connolly, as Controller, had charge of the books, and declined to show them. With his fellows, he also ‘controlled’ the courts and most of the bar.” Contractors working for the city – “Ring favorites, most of them – were told to multiply the amount of each bill by five, or ten, or a hundred, after which, with Mayor Hall’s ‘O. K.’ and Connolly’s indorsement, it was paid … through a go-between, who cashed the check, settled the original bill and divided the remainder … between Tweed, Sweeny, Connolly and Hall”. for example, the construction cost of the New York County Courthouse, begun in 1861, grew to nearly $13 million – about $178 million in today’s dollars, and nearly twice the cost of the Alaska Purchase in 1867. “A carpenter was paid $360,751 (roughly $4.9 million today) for one month’s labor in a building with very little woodwork … a plasterer got $133,187 ($1.82 million) for two days’ work”.

    Everybody’s favorite statesman and his preferred epitaph: “George W. Plunkitt. He Seen His Opportunities, and He Took ‘Em.”:

    When the people elected Tammany, they knew just what they were doin’We didn’t put up any false pretenses. We didn’t go in for humbug civil service and all that rot. We stood as we have always stood, forreward–in’ the men that won the victory. They call that the spoilssystem. All right; Tammany is for the spoils system, and when we go in we fire every anti-Tammany man from office that can be fired under the law. It’s an elastic sort of law and you can bet it will be stretched to
    the limit Of course the Republican State Civil Service Board will stand in the way of our local Civil Service Commission all it can; but say!–suppose we carry the State sometime, won’t we fire the upstate Board all right? Or we’ll make it work in harmony with the local board, and that means that Tammany will get everything in sight. I know that the civil service humbug is stuck into the constitution, too, but, as
    Tim Campbell said: “What’s the constitution among friends?”

  65. 65
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    I’m completely serious when I say that these people are a bigger threat to the common weal than Tea Partiers or Republicans.

    Almost every shitty, destructive thing that the American Empire has done since WWII was at the behest of centrists. Everybody agreed on the worst excesses of the Cold War at the time it was happening. Everybody agreed on Vietnam until leftists and young people started protesting. Everybody agreed on the Reagan tax cuts at the time. Everybody agreed on financial deregulation. Moderates defected to Bush’s tax cuts and Iraq War. Moderates, bipartisans, consensus-builders, whatever these people like to call themselves, are the ones who will destroy this country. Fuck them.

  66. 66
    Chris says:

    @sparky: Fascinating: apparently Boss Tweed was the Wall Street Bank(s)ter of his day.

  67. 67
    Jewish Steel says:

    Good post Anne!

    Plus ca change, non?

  68. 68
    Paul in KY says:

    Ye gads!! Mark Penn is married! That poor woman…

  69. 69
    bjacques says:

    With Mark Penn and other expensive consultants on board (where’s Lanny Davis?), No Label will pretty soon have No Money, and certainly No Grassroots Support. A year from now they’ll get No Notice because they have absolutely No Appeal and whoever they throw up as a candidate will have No Personality.

    No worries.

  70. 70
    Paul in KY says:

    @jsfox: He was a ‘Texas’ Democrat, which mean’t he was way to the right of most other ‘real’ Democrats.

  71. 71
    Paul in KY says:

    @Jim, Once: I think alot of Democratic politicians over the last 20 years or so have been scared of being labeled ‘liberal’. Shows what a good demonizing campaign can do, IMO.

    That shit-weasel Beck is trying to do the same to ‘progressive’.

  72. 72
    Paul in KY says:

    @sparky: ‘Plunkett of Tammany Hall’ is a great read, BTW. Had to read it in HS. Still have a copy.

    Those guys were way more honest than scum like Mitch McConnell & Sarah! Palin. Also.

  73. 73
    JGabriel says:

    @jsfox: I stand corrected. Thank you.

    .

  74. 74

    Really fucking good post, AL. Their label should be “The Party of Corporate America”–or “Rich Bastards, Inc.” No labels my ass. I’m with ee on this one. I have labels of which I am proud. The key is that I don’t think they are set in stone and immutable. As I grow, the meaning of each label grows with me. And, it’s disingenuous for these people to say they are no label when most of them are clearly Republicans or espouse Republican values. A rose by any other name, etc. In addition, I look at this group and see no room for someone like me for so many reasons, so I have no interest.

    @Karen: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being in the middle or a true moderate. What pisses me off is people like this claiming to be the middle when they clearly are not. They are trying to redefine the middle as center-right (not just them). To me, it’s just optics and a game for the powerful to dabble in.

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