Re: By any other name.

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That's pretty cute.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 9:47 AM
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I totally want one of those back-of-Obama's-head shirts.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 9:49 AM
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After this Clark thing, I'm on the hunt for Obama toilet paper.

Fucking coward.*

* If we had real political threads, instead of cutesy ones, I would vent there.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 9:54 AM
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If you're like me, this got you to wondering whether there is anything in Japan with a name that sounds like McCain. Well, the answer is no, not really. BUT! McCain's name transliterates in Japanese to ma-ke-in. Which can be written as 負け員, meaning, essentially, "loser".  Enjoy your day.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 10:06 AM
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And if you fudge the ending a little bit, McCain sounds like make-inu, or "losing dog" (負け犬), which is a common Japanese slang term for a loser.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 10:09 AM
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Justin certainly talked about soiling himself a lot.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 10:24 AM
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Also, for the sake of completeness, the name "Obama", for the town, means "little beach".


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 10:31 AM
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Some enterprising Japanese reporter should ask Barack, "Why must you be such a little beach?"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 10:37 AM
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8 is brilliant.

This myspace guy is months behind the New York Times on the Obama for Obama story, so score one for big media. Though his photos of the souvenirs do have some added value, I guess.

Also, the other day I wanted to make a comment "Let Obama be Obama," but it turned out there are a lot of other West Wing/Obama fans who thought of it first and it wasn't worth doing if it wouldn't be original.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 10:44 AM
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7: Interesting. Has anyone seen w-lfs-n recently?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 10:50 AM
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I believe in a place called "Obama."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 10:51 AM
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Gawd, that's awesome. Not soil-myself awesome, but pretty awesome.

3: You should check out EOAW (which, for some reason, sits in the "EOWT" box in my head), which offers an alternate explanation of what's going on in Update 1 of the most recent post.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 11:03 AM
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4: Nothing in Japan, but one time John McCain saved Nakatomi Plaza from terrorists.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 11:06 AM
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which, for some reason, sits in the "EOWT" box in my head

Weird: for the longest time, I had it under those initials in my bookmarks bar.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 11:07 AM
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14: I blame that fucker ari. I don't know what exactly he did, or for what reason, but I'm sure he's ruined me for any good end.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 11:13 AM
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3: It's like the New Management doesn't want acrimonious 900-comment threads.

For my part, I think it's important to distinguish between what Obama (the candidate) does and what the Obama campaign does. Broadly construed, Clark is a part of that campaign, and he ain't backing down (as Tim references above in his link to the blog that I think of as EOTW).

Obama might be wise to avoid personally getting into an argument that involves parsing sentences ("What Clark meant was...).


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 11:33 AM
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which offers an alternate explanation of what's going on in Update 1 of the most recent post.

I don't buy that for a second. You don't throw somebody valuable under the bus. If you'll recall, one of the arguments for the claim that Ferrarro's race talk was coming from inside the HRC campaign! was that Ferrarro was expendable - she could say crap, get it "out there," then HRC would "reject" her comments without losing anything.

But Wes Clark is no Ferrarro. Furthermore, his comments weren't scurrilous - maybe you don't want them coming out of Obama's mouth, but it's not like Clark was calling McCain a Manchurian candidate. What Clark said is exactly what Dems-who-aren't-Obama should all be saying.

It really, truly sickens me to see that this campaign is looking wimpier than Kerry's, and that Obama is looking like more of a centrist panderer than WJC (anyone see Greenwald's latest?).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 11:39 AM
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Obama always pushed the new politics bringing us all together and ending the divisive politics of the past thing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 11:46 AM
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I say this with tears in my eyes, but I think that I can pretty much forget about the Hog Farm Government Revitalization Plan. Ain't gonna happen. Ahread of my time.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 11:48 AM
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Seems to me it's a "discussion" the candidate can gain nothing from joining.

"We Boost Barack Obama with Japanese Lacquered chopsticks" made my day.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 11:49 AM
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19:I say this with tears in my eyes,

It is the evening of the day
I sit and watch the children play
Doin things I used to do
They think are new
I sit and watch
As tears go by


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 11:50 AM
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Furthermore, his comments weren't scurrilous

The issue isn't scurrilousness, but usefulness. They made a tactical call. I don't think it tells us anything about whether this line of argument will be advanced in the future. I think it will because it's likely to be necessary. That's all McCain's got: his extraordinary biography and a claim that it makes him a better CinC than Obama.

(I assume they let Clark know before they decided to reject his comments; if they didn't, that was an idiotic mistake.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 11:55 AM
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I don't think it tells us anything about whether this line of argument will be advanced in the future. I think it will because it's likely to be necessary.

This doesn't make much sense.

"Remember those comments about McCain that we rejected back in July? Well, we totally embrace them now."

Feel the Democratic backbone, America.

Show me an example of the Dems winning one of these bitchslap fights. Show me where our side has won by conceding the moral high ground in the first news cycle.

Fucking cowards.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:04 PM
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How destructive is media framing capable of being over the next 4 months?

I don't see McCain or his campaign as posing much of a threat to Obama's election. The question for me, then, is whether the bad faith political reporting we're accustomed to has the potential to counteract all the advantages the Democrats have this cycle.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:09 PM
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"Remember those comments about McCain that we rejected back in July? Well, we totally embrace them now."

The press might call the campaign to account, but it's easy enough to say that the campaign was rejecting the perceived tone of the attack, or what have you.

I could be wrong. But, for me, winning's the thing, not displays of courage. And I do think you're going to continue to see surrogates attacking the justification. They'll just use slightly different language.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:16 PM
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I agree with 22; disagree with 23. I'd go so far as to say that this incident doesn't even preclude Obama from putting Clark on the ticket.

Obama was never offered the opportunity to respond to Clark's statements; he was responding to the media's perverse interpretation of those statements. A presidential candidate has to be cautious in choosing his battles with the media, and in this case the media had already taken McCain's side. And this all took place on a day on which Obama's planned message happened to be his endorsement of standard-issue patriotism. It wasn't the day to take this on.

Further, Obama hasn't thrown Clark under the bus - Clark is still out there making his pitch, with no objections (yet) from Obama.

Obama's has always sold himself as a uniter, not a divider - a common theme for presidential candidates, and one that doesn't tell us much about how Obama will run his presidency. Abe Lincoln was also a uniter, not a divider, and I'm sure mcmanus will remind us that the same might have been said of .


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:19 PM
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The question for me, then, is whether the bad faith political reporting we're accustomed to has the potential to counteract all the advantages the Democrats have this cycle.

I don't think it can change the outcome of the election - Obama will win big(ish), the House will get more Dem, and so will the Senate without passing 60 seats - but I think that it can massively hamstring President Obama. There's a lot of time left, but so far I haven't seen any evidence that Obama can overcome/counteract/destroy the press's kneejerk GOPhilia. As was true for WJC, he can go over the media's heads to reach hoi polloi, but that's too hard - too time-consuming - to accomplish anything substantive. When all the papers echo your arguments without you raising a finger, you can get whatever you want; but if you have to fight to get the barest facts in front of the people, then you're severely constrained.

Part of what disgusts me so utterly about the Clark thing is that Obama plugged himself right into the "pussy Democrat" slot that every Beltway reporter takes as a given.

Remember when people suggested that Obama would get better treatment from the press than Hillary?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:19 PM
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For a couple of decades Democrats' shrewd tactical calls have directed their strategy, and not in a good way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:21 PM
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But, for me, winning's the thing, not displays of courage.

Me too. But it must be said that there's a lot to commend Josh Marshall's bitch-slap theory, and as JRoth notes above, Greenwald makes a case that's hard to dismiss.

But unlike, say, the FISA cave, this really is purely a question of tactics. I agree with JRoth that McCain's experience narrative must be challenged, and I'd be appalled, too, if I thought Obama had just forfeited the ability of his campaign to do so.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:25 PM
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But, for me, winning's the thing, not displays of courage.

Yes, look at how little impact President Kerry's wimping out in the face of the Swift Boat campaign had on his overwhelming victory.

When Dems back down, Dems win!

Again, please, Tim and pf - show me an example of this working. Show me where a Dem said something true, the Rs threw a hissy fit, the Dem(s) backed down, and then the Dem(s) won on the merits.

Dick Durbin? John Kerry? Florida 2000? There's no "staying on-message." There's no "choosing your battles." If the only news for 2-3 days is that you backed down, you lost the battle, whether you chose it or not.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:28 PM
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Remember when people suggested that Obama would get better treatment from the press than Hillary?

Well, I still think he does. That isn't the same as saying that Obama is getting good or fair treatment.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:30 PM
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But unlike, say, the FISA cave, this really is purely a question of tactics.

I agree with this as far as it goes; but in some ways it's worse, tactically. FISA, there was a real policy issue at hand, and I'm willing to assume that Obama was making a substantive, not tactical, decision that a more authoritarian gov't is OK. I hate him for it, but I don't think it hurts him politically, short term or long. But the Clark thing is pure optics, and he backed down. If your goal is to prove that you're tough, then you take on any fight that comes your way (as long as you think you can survive it).*

I know the media deck is stacked against Dems. Hell, Kerry tried not to apologize for his joke about bad students landing in Iraq, but he got too beaten down (maybe if the Party had shown unity...nah). But caving isn't going to stop the beatings.

* For the record, I'm not thrilled with this tough-guy language, but it's blindingly obvious that it has a lot to do with how the media thinks about and portrays Washington


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:35 PM
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Show me where a Dem said something true, the Rs threw a hissy fit, the Dem(s) backed down, and then the Dem(s) won on the merits.

Characterization is going to do all the work. Arguably, the above is a pretty good description of Clinton-style triangulation, which was good for two elections. Republicans demonize "identity politics," Clinton verbally slaps a black woman, and wins the election. Republicans demonize "tax and spend" Democratic policies, Clinton adopts what he calls an Eisenhower economic plan, and he wins in '96. Republicans demonize "welfare queens," Clinton "ends welfare as we know it," and he wins in '96. Republicans demonize Democrats as soft on crime, Clinton executes a retard, and he wins in '92.

That's politics.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:40 PM
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JRoth, my thoughts pretty much align with 27.1, but I'm with Tim and PF on the Clark brouhaha. These distractions are minefields. Obama (and the Dems) need to stand up where they have persuasive arguments, not respond in kind with this kind of tripe (which isn't to say he should accept smears without responding). Obama's done very well overall in this, I think, and even won on the gas tax holiday, much to my surprise. Obama, thank Christ, is no John Kerry. This is a horse of a completely different color. He really is a remarkable campaigner at times.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:40 PM
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33: I don't think that broad policy examples work at all. Clinton's triangulation was, in this sense, proactive: he was setting the narrative about himself (Clinton isn't afraid to stand up to Dem interest groups), not reacting to specific R provocations.

Furthermore, look at how many times he did back down on R hissy fits: Lani Guinier, Jocelyn Elders, etc. He lost on all of those, and was weakened in the process - he lost political capital, which had to do with the failure of health care and, ultimately, the loss of Congress. I know it's all a lot more complex than that, but I don't see how you can look at "The Incredible Shrinking Presidency" of 1993 and think, "Boy, he sure did great by running away from the Republicans."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:52 PM
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That's why I suspect Clinton's legacy among Democrats will be like Eisenhower's legacy among Republicans: "Who? Oh, yeah, him".

"That's politcs" is true, but we're not trying to give Obama practical advice on how to do whatever it is he's trying to do. We're American citizens asking ourselves how much good Obama will be in terms of what we hope to see done. We've had some bad signs recently.
Mad dog realism has a crippling effect. You end up conceding that Stalin was successful at attaining his goals, though some of the things he did were, of course, regrettable. The Soviet peoples suffered, but why should he care?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 12:54 PM
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Obama plugged himself right into the "pussy Democrat" slot that every Beltway reporter takes as a given.

I haven't followed the Clark story closely. On a superficial reading it does sound a little ham-handed on Obama's part, but this assertion doesn't strike me as true at all. It looks more bad-cop/good-cop to me. The criticism of McCain's record is out there now and Obama's washed his hands of the business. I'm even cynical enough to believe that it might've been planned that way.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:00 PM
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I don't see how you can look at "The Incredible Shrinking Presidency" of 1993 and think, "Boy, he sure did great by running away from the Republicans."

I blame other Democratic factions more than you do, probably. (That's not to deny that Clinton made his share of mistakes.) He did--Gunier, Woods, Elders, etc. notwithstanding--get many more women and minorities in cabinet positions than previous Administrations. For a long time, I thought that was going to be his great legacy.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:03 PM
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Saying "That's politics" makes sense in so far as a successful national candidate will inevitably pander on something that will set our teeth on edge. So cynicism allows me to live with any single tactical decision. But when you put them together, they are starting to add up to a campaign that's hoping that tactics alone will put them in the White House (which it probably would). Reagan ran as a conservative, which opened up policy space to do certain things he otherwise couldn't. Carter and Clinton both ran as technocrats who would tinker around the edges, and had very constricted policy options as a result. Things are going badly, and the country wants leadership. If Obama wants to lead, the country will follow, but he has to start leading now.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:06 PM
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But when you put them together, they are starting to add up to a campaign that's hoping that tactics alone will put them in the White House

Put the two things together?

C'mon, guys. The time for panic is later.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:07 PM
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Reagan ran as a conservative, which opened up policy space to do certain things he otherwise couldn't.

I think this sort of mandate narrative is usually a myth. I'm not really sure what Reagan's conservative victories were in the first two years, but I think they were related to tax cuts and defense spending. Those weren't hard sells. I don't, OTOH, know that there were significant cuts in spending--maybe I'm wrong about that.

but he has to start leading now.

Are you a Fletch fan? Obama led yesterday; he'll lead tomorrow.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:13 PM
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Things are going badly, and the country wants leadership.

Is this true? Are there any issues on which the country clearly wants to make a radical shift on which Obama has promised only tinkering at the edges?


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:22 PM
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The mandate mantle may not actually bestow political capital, but if you can push that narrative (hell, W did in 2004 when he won by what 2%?) it can only help. Further, Dems should increase their congressional majorities, and Americans seem open to ideas that they have not been in some time (health care reform, eg). A convincing win in November would certainly help Obama govern from a position of strength that we haven't seen in some time.

This is why a media assault of distractions and obsessions (rather than valid issues) that drive down his numbers is so pernicious, even if they don't cost him the election.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:27 PM
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It looks more bad-cop/good-cop to me. The criticism of McCain's record is out there now and Obama's washed his hands of the business.

Except it's not out there - Clark's critique has been utterly repudiated by the press and Obama both - who will be affected by it, except by people who were offended by it and blame Obama regardless?

Put the two things together?

Two? FISA, guns, death penalty, Blue Dog vs. Better Democrat, Clark, faith-based funding, unpatriotic culture warriors (he wasn't talking about the G. Gordon Liddy, either), and a list of foreign policy gurus that reads like Powell could've assembled it. Near as I can tell, the only progressive thing he's said or done since the primaries ended is to come out against the CA anti-gay amendment. I don't think there's been literally nothing else (some of his personnel appointments have apparently been OK), but it's a blowout on the merits and on the optics. woobama, indeed.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:44 PM
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Are there any issues on which the country clearly wants to make a radical shift on which Obama has promised only tinkering at the edges?

Health Care. The members of the AMA are in favor of more action than BHO is promising. All that may change, Congress is what matters, blah blah, but in terms of rhetorical leadership, it's not there.

82% of the country thinks we're on the wrong track - that they're ready for change. Other than using that word a lot, what has Obama promised to do that actually constitutes a significant change? America is primed for a new New Deal, but will need to be led there - and Obama doesn't seem to want to do that. He wants to lead, but nowhere in particular. There are hints of serious change, but just as many hints of status quo.

It's early - I'm willing to see how things unfold. But for now, I'm not happy about this shit sandwich I'm being served, and I'm going to complain about it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:49 PM
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America is primed for a new New Deal

Couldn't disagree more. That might be the root of the disagreement here: the difference in our evaluations of the underlying political and social conditions.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:53 PM
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Reagan ran as a conservative, which opened up policy space to do certain things he otherwise couldn't.

Reagan ran aggressively and successfully to the center - as a conservative. (His previous mode was "right-wing nut.")

Nobody ran a more centrist campaign than George W. Bush in 2000, and nobody arrived in office with less of a voter mandate.

There are a lot of good reasons to be pessimistic about Obama as a liberal, but it's easy to read too much into some very predictable political posturing of a sort that is common in both parties.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:55 PM
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JRoth,

The time for revolution is not yet. We have a little of the same old same old left to go. I know that makes you unhappy. Sorry.

Obama will do what he can but that won't really be much.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 1:58 PM
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Both Reagan and Bush drove the country to the right, one by convincing Dems to vote for Rs for many political cycles beyond his own, the other by telling the Dems to fuck off. Obama seems to have adopted the more useful model for reversing course. If it's a New New Deal you want, wait until after the economic collapse.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 2:06 PM
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The weird thing about mad-dog realism is that when a Republican gets realistic he starts thinking of packing the Justice Department with unqualified true believers, defying Congress and the courts, and threatening to drop nukes on foreign countries, but when a Democrat gets realistic he makes concessions to the Republicans and thinks up reasons to postpone the battle to another day.

If the Democrats ever have a strong hand, it will be 2008-2010. Keeping the powder dry is not an option.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 2:16 PM
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FISA, guns, death penalty, Blue Dog vs. Better Democrat, Clark, faith-based funding, unpatriotic culture warriors (he wasn't talking about the G. Gordon Liddy, either), and a list of foreign policy gurus that reads like Powell could've assembled it

Running against guns and defending child rapists isn't a winning position in a national campaign, and I have yet to see anyone make a persuasive case that Georgia's 12th has any interest in a Better Democrat. Obama's worked with faith-based community efforts for about two decades now, so his position probably isn't posturing and shouldn't be surprising. And a little foreign policy realism doesn't sound like such a terrible idea right now.

Most people don't care about FISA, so Obama admittedly blew that. I'm not sure how the Clark situation should have been played, since the media seemed intent on botching the kerfuffle no matter what.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 2:26 PM
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50: The comparison is perhaps unfair in that it reflects the asymmetry of each side's existing advantages. These are not things Rs do to (re)gain power; they are the abuses made possible by having the power. You are absolutely right in that Dems bear significant responsibility for failing to raise hell about each and every one (and a whole lot more) as a betrayal of trust (or a whole lot worse). The absence of public outrage over this administration's blatantly anti-American acts is astounding. Maybe a vocal and unified Democratic opposition could have helped kindle such outrage, but I'm not so sure, and every day that it wasn't called out for what it was, it became that much more acceptable.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 2:45 PM
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The weird thing about mad-dog realism is that when a Republican gets realistic he starts thinking of packing the Justice Department with unqualified true believers, defying Congress and the courts, and threatening to drop nukes on foreign countries, but when a Democrat gets realistic he makes concessions to the Republicans and thinks up reasons to postpone the battle to another day.

Yeah, that is weird.

It is almost like there is something else going on behind the scenes. Something else that is causing things to happen. Somet . . . hey, look, a white girl got abducted!


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 2:57 PM
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Most people don't care about FISA

FISA's an issue that I haven't really been following, but the part I've seen the most objection to--retroactive telecom immunity--doesn't bother me that much. It seems to me that when something goes horribly, horribly wrong, blanket amnesty is the norm.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 3:06 PM
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It seems to me that when something goes horribly, horribly wrong, blanket amnesty is the norm.

Say what you will about Tim, but he has an ethos.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 3:10 PM
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52: Just not true. The Republicans fought for every inch in 1992-1994 when they were completely out of power. They've used very small advantages in Congress to completely dominate the Democrats. They've hamstrung the Democrats in Congress from the minority.

If you want to say that too many Democrats are Republicans lite, and that the Democratic leaders are correct to think that most Americans support Republican positions, that might be right. But they've consistently chosen weak defensive tactics and strategies which couldn't possibly do more than cut the losses.

I always expected to go into opposition as soon as whichever Democrat was elected, and "Better Democrats" in Congress is the place to look. Several sites are working to knock off Hoyer, and I think that that's a good place to begin.

We won't have much leverage over Obama. He's developed a parallel organization and doesn't need us much, and he doesn't need the old DLC types either.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 3:19 PM
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Don't read this Media Matters recap of the way the evening network news reported on the Clark/McCain statement unless you have all of your meds available. (Not even getting into the cable stuff.) This is what makes it so difficult to traverse this campaign for Obama, on one hand I share JRoth's position that precisely because of this you don't give an inch, on the other hand ... I don't even know, these guys are so far gone in some complete LaLaLand beyond the ken of ordinary humans, that I just don't know.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 3:21 PM
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FISA's an issue that I haven't really been following, but the part I've seen the most objection to--retroactive telecom immunity--doesn't bother me that much. It seems to me that when something goes horribly, horribly wrong, blanket amnesty is the norm.

No, SCMT, this is a case where, as the saying goes, "if you're not outraged, you don't understand what's going on."

Congressional Dems didn't care about legal liability for the telcos as such, and neither did the administration. The issue is all about whether lawsuits against the telco's will be allowed to go to discovery, or whether they will be summarily dismissed (as has happened in suits against the government, because our judiciary has issued kafkaesque rulings on standing (you can't sue unless you can prove you were spied on) and standing (you can't prove you were spied on, even if you have conclusive evidence that you were, because any such evidence may be suppressed at the government's whim under a claim of states secret privilege).

The Telco suits are the only remaining legal avenue (short of declassification by the next administration) to expose the extent of illegal surveillance by this administration. The Dems even offered an amendment that would have required the government to assume any liability from the telcos while allowing the lawsuits to go forward. But the administration predictably rejected this compromise because it wouldn't serve their true interest, which is blocking any and all legal scrutiny of their illegal eavesdropping.

The FISA vote was a true cave-in, far worse in my eyes than Clinton signing death warrants for retards and Kerry supporting the repeal of equal marriage rights.

That said, I still passionately support Obama and hope that he will make this right in a flurry of declassification in January 2009. But this was no délit de cavalier.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 3:30 PM
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57: babble makes the key point in 52: The advantages of the Democrats and Republicans are asymmetric.

Given the current state of the playing field, it's oversimple to say that the Democrats can/should respond in the way that successful Republicans do.

But the mere existence of Media Matters shows how liberals (as opposed to Democrats) are learning about how the system works. Greenwald is another great example.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 3:31 PM
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The Telco suits are the only remaining legal avenue (short of declassification by the next administration) to expose the extent of illegal surveillance by this administration.

I'd file this under amnesty. As I understand it, there are troubling aspects going forward, as well. But that's where any concern I might have would be located.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 3:44 PM
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the other day I wanted to make a comment "Let Obama be Obama"

This was the most pernicious myth of the West Wing: the idea that politics was full of really good people that just needed to let their love lights shine and damn the torpedoes.

It stunk as a form of Clinton apologetics, and it stinks as a veil over the role of institutions and power in politics.

Obama's been interesting to me to the extent -- I think Emerson put it this way, or close -- that he responds to different social formations than the Clintons did. Right now, though, those (we) empowered grass roots are his troops, not his conscience.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 3:55 PM
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No, SCMT, this is a case where, as the saying goes, "if you're not outraged, you don't understand what's going on."

No, it's a case of Tim being nuts. For all we know, he understands perfectly what's going on.

PF, somehow or another the Republicans usually make the best of whatever hand they're playing, and the Democrats never do. Social Security was an exception, but that was such an incredible aggression -- basically the Republicans were going after the cornerstone of the New Deal and telling the Democrats that nothing was sacred.

One reason why everyone's so pissed at Obama is that there had been signs that the Democrats wouldn't fold this time.

Some of the surrenders Democrats did in the past (on media consolidation, fairness standards, voter discouragement, and others) contributed directly to their present weak position. "Keeping your powder dry" isn't a long-term strategy. (This reminds me of Chiang Kai-shek -- American generals said that "strategic withdrawal" was the only tactic he knew of).

I'm willing to admit that the Democratic Party is riddled with cowards and traitors who like the way things have been going. I'm not willing to admit that the party as a whole has been following a wise strategy appropriate to the circumstances.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 4:08 PM
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PF, somehow or another the Republicans usually make the best of whatever hand they're playing, and the Democrats never do..

I doubt that we disagree much on this. I'll just point out the contradiction between your quote above and your quote below:

I'm willing to admit that the Democratic Party is riddled with cowards and traitors who like the way things have been going.

The Democrats have served their interests very nicely, thank you. The interests of liberals are not the same as those of the Democrats. (I don't mean to be insultingly obvious. I know you know this.)

Republican interests have been primarily wedded to the interests of the money people in their party, while Democratic interests have been much more diverse - and include the interests of the Republican money people. The challenge for liberals (again, I realize you know this) is to find ways to change the rational self-interest of our Democratic leaders. I think a lot of promising experiments have begun.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 4:42 PM
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Given the current state of the playing field, it's oversimple to say that the Democrats can/should respond in the way that successful Republicans do.

That seems to be saying that Democrats are simply responding some sort of external power asymmetry. The weakness of the the Democrats we agree on is their own weakness. There have been times in the last few decades when a stronger party made up of stronger people could have done much better by playing harder.

"Less ideological" sounds good, but it means "dominated by small-time influence peddlers delivering goodies to miscellaneous clients". And that the people represented by the Republicans (big money) are actually represented, whereas most of the various people supposedly represented by the Democrats are not,


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 4:53 PM
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I've been saying for years that the DLC, for ideological and careerist reasons, has deliberately kept the Democratic Party weak by discouraging voter registration and the ground game, and by insisting on the swing-state strategy. That seems to be behind us, but it sure took a long time, and it was extremely demoralizing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 4:56 PM
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John E, at 56: agreed that Rs fought viciously when they weren't in power (the Clintons' failure to navigate the onslaught in the 1990s at all effectively, despite all their political acumen, gave me pause as to the viability of a HRC presidency--tested, yes, but utterly failed that test).

I was pointing out that things like "packing the Justice Department with unqualified true believers, defying Congress and the courts, and threatening to drop nukes on foreign countries" weren't the things they did to gain power. I still think the Dems lost their electoral bearings (and a grip on their identity) when Reagan took advantage of trying times to win big by convincing so many traditional Dems to go R.

But it is true that the R's more recent victories were fueled by a perfectly coalesced base exploited for all it was worth (and the fear mongering). So, I do concede that defying Congress and the Courts and nuke threats were part and parcel of this.

Nevertheless, Obama has staked out a path (and, no, it's not the most progressive one, and thus I heartily agree with the rest of 56) to change the dynamic because ping-pong vilification is counterproductive to basic functioning, much less realizing our ideals.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 4:59 PM
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I have never proposed ping-pong vilification. 50 meg vilification!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:04 PM
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I don't think it's an issue of whether the country wants a New New Deal. I doubt the country wanted the first New Deal, or that it's even intelligible to say that people have wants in terms of specific policy proposals. We went, in a single decade, from being on top of the world to being mired in an unwinnable war in the Middle East and 4 dollars a gallon gasoline. People are just waiting for the Bush administration to end, and they're willing to give the other guy a chance. They want leadership.

The key legacy of Reagan was not any policies, but that he made Goldwater-style conservativism respectable. Obama can do the same. Even if all Obama would like to achieve would be the most boring technocratic reforms imaginable, he can make progressive policies respectable, and thus boring technocratic reforms become sensible centrism, and not creeping socialism.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:05 PM
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The key legacy of Reagan was not any policies, but that he made Goldwater-style conservativism respectable. Obama can do the same.

And that's the direction he's heading in.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:12 PM
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So out of morbid curiosity I went to the home page of the wanktastic-sounding Aspen Ideas Festival, where Yglesias is getting free food and right-wing talking points this week. And look who's on the speakers' list! Oh, Atlantic, why must you suck?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:13 PM
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Our coalition values compassion, and empathy for the other. Theirs values meanness, exclusion, violence. Obviously the tactics that attract one aren't going to do much with the other.

Can one be compassionate and empathetic without being weak? Yes, clearly, and it's a calumny to hold otherwise.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:16 PM
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Theirs likes superstition and ignorance. Prefers the gut to the brain.

These differences are hard-wired in, especially with the success of the Southern Strategy.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:20 PM
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The Atlantic has a survey you can take on their site that allows you to ask them that very question, stras. You can even answer it. You don't have to be a subscriber.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:23 PM
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They don't just tolerate intellectual dishonesty, they revel in it.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:24 PM
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The key legacy of Reagan was not any policies, but that he made Goldwater-style conservativism respectable. Obama can do the same. Even if all Obama would like to achieve would be the most boring technocratic reforms imaginable, he can make progressive policies respectable, and thus boring technocratic reforms become sensible centrism, and not creeping socialism.

Walt, Clinton was billed as the boring technocratic reformer guy. And it was during Clinton's time that liberalism was finally defined down to technocratic free-market conservatism. Genuine liberal policies - the kind of policies I associate with the New Deal, the Great Society, the civil rights movement and the early environmental movement - aren't "boring technocratic reforms," they're fairly sweeping changes to fairly broad systems. I've no idea if Obama is genuinely interested in anything like that, but I seriously doubt it. Like every other modern Democratic politician, he probably considers his relatively moderate campaign promises to be haggling points he can use to hash out even more conservative policies while working with Congress. With some stuff like health care, that's going to simply be a bitter disappointment; with stuff like global warming, it's going to be catastrophic, assuming Obama's more interested in passing something toothless like Lieberman-Warner than he is in actually accomplishing something.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:24 PM
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Oh, Atlantic, why must you suck?

Because not sucking was a recipe for losing barrels of money, and now they are casting about for a variety of sucking that will staunch the bleeding before the patience of the magazine's benefactors wears out. Not terribly successfully, it seems.

It's worth recalling that the Atlantic had a cover story (by Mark Bowden, IRRC) with a fairly positive portrayal of torture as a mode of interrogating Al Quaida suspects just months after 9/11. In a sense, they helped prepare the intellectual battlefield for the offenses of Yoo and Co.

I still maintain my subscription out of residual affection for James Fallows, but I'm getting close to the feeling I had about the Economist in 2002, right before I stopped renewing.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:24 PM
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Seriously, Napi, I think that we should become a little more like them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:25 PM
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The only I like the Atlantic for is the Langewische piece on the WTC, and I didn't even read it. I just heard a lot of people say it was good and I believed them.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:26 PM
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77 is true to the extent that when people say things like "if you're so tolerant how come you aren't tolerant of conservative ideas?" we should be more proactive about punching them in the neck.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:28 PM
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The Atlantic was edited by the horrible Michael Kelly for a couple of years around 2002, and it never will recover.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:28 PM
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Apropos of the discussion of Marshall's bitchslap theory, this mini essay by Mel Gilles, an advocate for battered women, makes a point that bears repeating. And just because Emerson agrees with it doesn't make it wrong.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:28 PM
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76: The Economist had one of those qualified, dainty-gloves We Must Soil Our Hands Now defenses of torture around the same time, I think. And yeah, I still like James Fallows. But boy, has the place ever charged to the right.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:30 PM
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To me, the Atlantic combines first, studious political non-alignment in a way that makes them functionally center-right, with, second, long-form descriptive journalism that avoids provocation, so you don't get those entertainingly weird pieces Harper's will run like about how Uncle Tom's Cabin should replace Huck Finn as the king of the heap in American literature.

Fair?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:33 PM
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has the place ever charged to the right

Has it ever been liberal? I first found a copy at college in the early nineties, and it looked like it was mostly boring.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:35 PM
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The bitchslap theory should be credited to Bartcop, BTW. Ten years ago he was saying "How can the Democrats protect the American people when they can't even protect themselves?" Basically, when Bush ate Kerry's lunch he was telling the voters that Kerry was two weak to be President.

Bartcop is too hawkish and was a big Hillary fan, but he figured out the problem with the Democrats a long time ago.

I think that the problem is that too many important Democrats are administrators, academics, professionals, and organization men, and in these fields civility, consensus, and established procedures are key. Republicans tend more to be semi-criminal small business men and gamblers, where taking advantage quickly is what wins. The advantage is all to the Republicans.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:37 PM
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Has it ever been liberal?

It's always been dry and doggedly centrist, and I think your characterization of it in 83 is fair. But it seemed to me at least like it adopted a more determinedly rightward orientation within the last several years, although since I was moving left at the same time it might've just been that it's previously-existing rightiness was always there and it just started to irritate me more.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:40 PM
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Bartcop.

I blame Bill Gates.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:48 PM
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Bartcop.

I blame Ogged.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:49 PM
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70: Genuinely fucking sickening. You want to know why I can't bring myself to care about FISA? Because we can't punish John Yoo in any way. He's a fucking unAmerican monster, and almost everyone acknowledges that. He lives in one of the most liberal areas in the country. He is in both a field and milieu which is particularly susceptible to people who lean blue. And we can't do shit to him. It's not that we can't take his tenured job--as I said in prior discussions, I might come down on that side formally--it's that we can't even make him disreputable. He is still a member in good standing of the Establishment.

Jeebus.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:54 PM
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I've come to really like Fallows. For some reason, I had wrongly assumed he was a centrist NE Republican. (Probably because of his face.) But he's a peach to read.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:56 PM
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90 is me. Fuck.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 5:56 PM
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15 years ago I thought Fallows was a superficial dope. Now I like everything I read of his. I have no idea whatsoever what changed.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 7:58 PM
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I find a lot of this discussion unsatisfying because I think it gives too much credit to Republicans and too little to Democrats, and ignores other huge factors.

A big chunk of the continuing crisis is contingent. The Republicans came within a whisker of putting themselves out of the game in 2000. And 9/11 really did, as the cliche goes, change everything. The political climate in this country is today radically different from what it would have been had President Gore put the proper emphasis on counter-terrorism and prevented 9/11 (to pick a counterfactual).

The Democrats, for all of their spinelessness, stand a pretty decent chance of forestalling an invasion of Iran. That's not a small accomplishment (if, indeed, it's accomplished). And despite the manifest inadequacies of the current Democratic Congress, the Democrats are in a position to pad their lead.

The fact that the presidency remains in some doubt reveals more about what's wrong with America than what's wrong with Obama and the Democrats. If Karl Rove had lost the electoral college Supreme Court vote in 2000, he and Gingrich would have gone down in history as political ignoramuses.

God how I wished that Newt could have run and won the Republican nomination this year.

That said, the Democrats sure do suck.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 8:14 PM
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77 -- But John, that's what the whole DLC project is about. Let's become less empathetic, and more prone to ineffective macho display. Because that's what The People seem to be saying they want.

It's not a game we can win, because once you start trying to pander to those instincts, there's always someone from the other team who wants to go a little further.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 9:07 PM
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They were empathetic to the wrong people: Republicans, people with money.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 9:13 PM
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When you decide your not going to pursue tryi ng to make the lives of the afflicted better, you end up improving the lives of the unafflicted. Saying no to poor people is manly, in the same way bombing brown people, or gut shooting immigrants at the border is manly. Becoming more like them is what those people wanted.

I understand what you want John, but I think it's too much like fucking for virginity to come off.

But then I'm in a very bad mood, and ought to get off the internet before I start spouting shit I'll regret.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 07- 1-08 9:25 PM
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I mostly agree with politicalfootball over the situation but I share the frustration of John and Tim.

My view is that we have a systemic problem where too much power has accrued to the ultrarich and their corporations.

The Republicans are shills and the Democrats are powerless. Currently the citizens are also powerless.

So at this time it doesn't really matter what the citizens want because they lack the power to get it. One big myth these days is that the voters have the power. No they don't.

With that said instead of railing against the Democrats we should be working to convince people that the people need to regain their power. For that to happen the people must be receptive to the idea because it will be hard for them and they will not have the spirit while things are pretty comfortable.

Hence things will have to get worse, much worse, before the revolution can happen.

In a similar vein we are addicted to oil and like any addict it will hurt like Hell to change and we ain't gonna do it until we hit rock bottom.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 07- 2-08 1:25 PM
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From 70: A visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, he is the author of War by Other Means and The Powers of War and Peace.

He titled a book "War by Other Means," a book published (according to amazon.com) way back in 2006? Shit, I feel dirty. I've been using that phrase now and then for months in a vague attempt to make a witty twist on the aphorism. Looks like I'll have to stop.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 2-08 1:34 PM
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