‘Cause it was us, baby, way before them, and we’re still together

Firedoglake is no more. I have mixed feelings about FDL. Lots of great writers, like TBogg and Marcy Wheeler and David Dayen, got their start there. But some of Jane Hamsher’s stunts were a bit much.

I like to think Balloon Juice is still going strong. And on that, note, if anyone is interested, I’d like to propose a Balloon Juice meet-up in DC next Thursday. I’ll be in the northwest, kind of near the zoo, so Adams-Morgan would probably work. Any suggestions for good spots?



Communicative Performance Leftism

For those precious few of you who have any tolerance for further discussion of the events at Netroots Nation, Matt Bruenig has a couple of interesting posts. His first concerns Bernie Saunders’ actual positions, and his second covers the general phenomenon of what he terms “communicative performance leftism”:

But, you see, there is a pretty obvious problem with this brand of gesture-focused leftism that clever people can easily exploit. The problem is that talk is cheap and anyone who cares enough can just mirror the gestures you want them to make (thus flattering these strange politics) while doing whatever the hell they want when it comes to actual substance. It’s trivially easy to say what people want to hear while doing the exact opposite.

He has a great example of the genre by the moderator at Netroots.

Maybe I’m showing my brown privilege, but this protest reminds me of transgender advocates glittering Dan Savage a few years ago. Savage had some issues with the transgender community (read that piece to get his explanation of his evolution on the subject), but he’s generally had a good record on transgender rights. Bernie has a generally good record on the issues that the protesters at NRN care about. The question is whether it advances a cause to disrupt a talk by someone who’s basically on your side.








Fast Track To Hell

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is getting brutal on the left, and Out Of Damns To Give Mode(tm) President Obama is standing firm on getting fast track authority for it against his critics in the party.

“When people say that this trade deal is bad for working families, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Obama said Thursday. “So I take that personally. My entire presidency has been about helping working families.”

“Some of these folks are friends of mine. I love them to death. But in the same way that when I was arguing for health care reform I asked people to look at the facts – somebody comes up with a slogan like ‘death panel,’ doesn’t mean it’s true. Look at the facts. The same thing is true on this. Look at the facts. Don’t just throw a bunch of stuff out there and see if it sticks,” the president added.

And on Friday, Obama made a surprise appearance on a conference call with reporters and Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Obama took what seemed to be a shot at liberal lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and progressive groups for “send[ing] e-mails out to their fundraising base that they’re working to stop a secret deal.” There’s “nothing secret” about the treaty, he said.

But his critics aren’t backing down either, in fact they are truly pissed off over this.

“Belittling progressives who represent the overwhelming majority of Americans in opposition to a trade deal written by corporations in secret is a return to the worst days of this White House,” said Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green. “They are back to caving to corporate interests, forfeiting opportunities for greatness, and, in this case, costing millions of peoples their jobs and economic well being if successful.”

The most frustrating thing, as some liberals see it, is that the White House is spending huge political capital to pass a trade deal the base does not support, while not doing enough in their mind to support liberal priorities.

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown called president’s priorities “maddening.” “I think if you could get my colleagues to be honest, on the Democratic side, with you – and I think you can mostly – they will say they’ve been talked to, approached, lobbied and maybe cajoled by more cabinet members on this issue than any issue since Barack Obama’s been president,” Brown told reporters Thursday. “That’s just sad.”

Dan Cantor, national director of the progressive group Working Families, said Obama is “wrong” on trade. “If Democrats ever wonder why some people think both parties are in the pocket of Wall Street, secretive trade deals like this are one are a big reason why,” he said.

And David Segal, who runs the Internet freedom group Demand Progress, which also opposed TPP, turned Obama’s comments on their head. ”It’s clearly Obama who doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to trade – just look at his disastrous Korea Free Trade Agreement, which he claimed would create 200,000-plus new American jobs but in just a few years has already cost us 60,000 and increased our trade deficit by billions,” Segal said.

All I see is a large, generally-round shaped arrangement of liberals opening fire towards the center and wondering why Republicans control the Senate,  31 Governor’s mansions, the largest House margin since the Gilded Age, and a bunch of state legislatures.

You know what, maybe this trade deal does suck, and maybe we learned nothing from NAFTA, and maybe it’s going to be terrible.  But after six years of being in the White House and actually getting us out of the black hole the Republicans put us in, I’m kind of willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt.  I mean if you’re a liberal, and you’re still having trust issues with him, to the point that you’re making comments about how “sad” he is, you might want to take a step back and ask yourself why you feel that way, and what that sounds like to other people.

Also if Sen. Brown’s comments are correct, that Democrats “will say they’ve been talked to, approached, lobbied and maybe cajoled by more cabinet members on this issue than any issue since Barack Obama’s been president” what happened to “we don’t know what’s in this trade deal because it’s a secret!” and stuff?

Whatever, fight it out downstairs in the comments.

[UPDATE] Well you certainly are doing that.  Quite a few of you are taking the notion that I would give Obama the benefit of the doubt very, very fucking personally, by the way.

I find that interesting.



Repeat after me

Single Payer is not an option if the Roberts Court decides to turn their back on several generations of administrative law precedent to gut PPACA in two thirds of the country.

Commenter Tripod thinks it is a viable option, and is extremely wrong:

The political answer is to start saying single payer over and over. Obama tried the Republican way, they blew it up, now they get to enjoy a socialist fisting.

My question to single payer advocates is how to get to 218 and 51 if I am being generous and if I am being an ass, 218 and 60.  Progressive change is hard in this country both because of the multiple veto points in the system and the general way that representatives are elected.  Building a pathway for a single payer majority is damn difficult, and I just don’t see it as a feasible choice set in under a decade and more likely single payer will happen as soon as commercial fusion will — just another thirty years.

Let’s make the following assumptions based on history.

Read more



Set That Big Tent On Fire

Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky has given up on the South after 2014 as far as Congress goes, and is tired of the Dems spending good money on races they will never, ever, ever be able to win.  Yes, NC, VA, and Florida are necessary for the White House, but…

At the congressional level, and from there on down, the Democrats should just forget about the place. They should make no effort, except under extraordinary circumstances, to field competitive candidates. The national committees shouldn’t spend a red cent down there. This means every Senate seat will be Republican, and 80 percent of the House seats will be, too. The Democrats will retain their hold on the majority-black districts, and they’ll occasionally be competitive in a small number of other districts in cities and college towns. But they’re not going win Southern seats (I include here with some sadness my native West Virginia, which was not a Southern state when I was growing up but culturally is one now). And they shouldn’t try.

My friend the political scientist Tom Schaller said all this back in 2008, in his book Whistling Past Dixie. I didn’t want to agree with Schaller then, but now I throw in the towel. He was a man ahead of his time. Look west, Schaller advised the Democrats. And he was right. Now it’s true that many states in the nation’s heartland aren’t winnable for Democrats, either. Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah will never come anywhere close to being purple. But Colorado already is. Arizona can be. Missouri, it’s not crazy to think so. And Montana and South Dakota are basically red, of course, but are both elect Democrats sometimes. (Did you know that both of Montana’s senators right now are Democrats?!) In sum, between the solid-blue states in the North and on the West Coast, and the pockets of opportunity that exist in the states just mentioned (and tossing in the black Southern seats), the Democrats can cobble together congressional majorities in both houses, under the right circumstances.

This is the crucial argument that the Left has had on the future of the Democrats: which is better, more Democrats, or better Democrats?   I’ve long been a proponent of more Democrats (Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy) but considering how quickly that has disintegrated in just 8 years, leaving the GOP with the biggest House majority they’ve had since Hoover, I’m going to say that “more Democrats” isn’t going to cut it.  The 50 state strategy isn’t going to work anymore in Alabama or West Virginia or (and let’s face it) Kentucky.

But it’s not just a question of numbers. The main point is this: Trying to win Southern seats is not worth the ideological cost for Democrats. As Memphis Rep. Steve Cohen recently told my colleague Ben Jacobs, the Democratic Party cannot (and I’d say should not) try to calibrate its positions to placate Southern mores: “It’s come to pass, and really a lot of white Southerners vote on gays and guns and God, and we’re not going to ever be too good on gays and guns and God.”

Cohen thinks maybe some economic populism could work, and that could be true in limited circumstances. But I think even that is out the window now. In the old days, drenched in racism as the South was, it was economically populist. Glass and Steagall, those eponymous bank regulators, were both Southern members of Congress. But today, as we learned in Sunday’s Times, state attorneys general, many in the South, are colluding with energy companies to fight federal regulation of energy plants.

It’s lost. It’s gone. A different country. And maybe someday it really should be.

And that’s where Tomasky loses me.

Giving up on the South 100% is a recipe for repeating the last six years forever. It’s the ultimate emoprog copout, not to mention it erases the political power of millions of people of color and treats us as what, hostages with Stockholm Syndrome, not to mention that there are millions of poor white voters in the South too.

But we do need a new solution.  We need better Democrats AND more Democrats, and giving up on the South and handing it over to the GOP for the next 20 years only assures more of the country-destroying insanity we’ve seen since 2009.

The Tea Party is not going to magically go away once Obama leaves office.  We need to fight back on this crap and give people a reason to vote FOR Democrats and not just against the GOP. It’s hard to say “we can’t give up on the South” when Southern Democrats have given up on the Dems.  But at the same time, running Republican-lite candidates to win Blue Dog seats only hurts the Dems across the board.

So is the fight now “Since Southern Democrats told Obama to go to hell, what should we do to keep them?” The answer will define the party for the next generation. In 2014, “They’re not Republicans!” was only good enough for what, 16% of the voting public to get off their asses and vote. We’ve got to try something else, and now.

Something like “Let’s run actual Democrats as candidates”.

Sorry.  We gave the Alison Grimes and the Mary Landrieus a shot, and they failed miserably. They ran as Republicans and ran away from Obama and I spent months trying to convince anyone in earshot that this was the only way.  The empirical evidence is in, and Blue Dogs are done for.

But that doesn’t mean “Dump the South” unless you want more years of wondering why a Democratic president can’t get anything done with a GOP Congress.



Oh Really?

Paul Waldman:

This is a time of unusual, even stunning, Republican political incompetence.

[Gloating about 2012 Presidential loss, Fox News unreality, and general hardening of the stances of the Republican batshit crazy core removed]

Think about it this way: Has there been a single instance in the last few years when you said, “Wow, the Republicans really played that one brilliantly”?

No, but every time I see a 5-4 Roberts Court decision, or look at all the sand that’s been thrown in the gears of Obamacare, or hear about state government in Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, or browse the backlog of Senate appointments, or look at the composition of the House, I think they’re playing chess while the Democrats are playing “Go Fish”.

Were Republicans stunningly incompetent when they took over enough statehouses and governor’s mansions to gerrymander themselves into a decade of control of the House? How about when they worked the refs (and some squishy Democratic Senators) on the filibuster so hard that you’d think that the Constitution mandates a 60 vote majority in the Senate? If that’s incompetence, perhaps the Democrats need to become less competent so we can get some of our agenda passed through Congress and signed by the President.

(This is via Kevin Drum, who makes some other good points about why Waldman’s piece is nonsense.)








If We’re Playing Fantasy Politics League

Hey, if this is going to be a dream, let’s not dream small (like Elizabeth Warren on the Supremes). Warren is 65, which is about 40 years too old to play in my liberal justice fantasy league. I want the Doogie Houser of constitutional law, except he or she needs to be of the gender and racial background most hated at the moment by whatever the right wing is calling itself (Tea Party, Sluts Must Die Party, Fascismo Americano, etc.). My Doogie, who began college at age 12, will have completed law school and passed the bar the day before his or her 18th birthday. During college and law school, his or her spare time will have been divided between pro bono work at a legal clinic for undocumented immigrants and escorting women to the their appointments at the local Planned Parenthood abortionplex.

Now that, my friends, is a nominee we can all get behind.