Subscribe via RSS Feed

“Obamney” Nihilism: An Ornament of Frippery

[ 281 ] September 7, 2012 |

Oh, you could spend some time quibbling with the particularly egregious howlers in Matt Stoller’s latest bit of Obamney nihilism. For example:

And on a policy level, whether you call it Romneycare in Massachusetts, or Obamacare nationally, it’s the same healthcare program.

That’s right — Stoller is trying to argue that national Republican health care policy is represented by legislation that every single Republican in Congress voted against. Because a Republican governor once signed similar legislation that Democratic supermajorities in one of the most liberal states in the country put on his desk. (If only that governor was a prominent national Republican so we could see how his support would hold up in a different political context.) In and of itself, this is someone who should not be getting paid to analyze American politics. It’s even inept on its own terms — surely he could at least give us the ridiculous “it was a Heritage Foundation plan!” red herring. What’s an idiotic argument about how Republicans really secretly favor comprehensive health care reform without patting yourself on the back for falling for a Republican con that makes Nigerian email scams look sophisticated by comparison?

Or this:

For instance, depending on the messaging frame the Obama campaign chooses, Mitt Romney might be a flip-flopping moderate, or a hard-right extremist. How will he act as president? It’s hard to know. Certainly, Obama didn’t govern as his supporters in 2008 expected, breaking significant campaign promises, such as a pledge to renegotiate NAFTA or raise the minimum wage.

To start with, the idea that because Prime Minister Obama didn’t get every single item on his agenda passed that we therefore can’t have any idea if there will be any significant differences in an Obama or Romney administration is…well, it doesn’t really require elaborate argument to address an argument that’s self-refuting. (Similarly, George W. Bush broke significant campaign promises to put a man on Mars and to privatize Social Security, so really there’s no difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration.) Let me put it this way: Ross Douthat believes a less extreme version of this. I rest my case. But this is just run-of-the mill Green Laternism. What makes this argument really special is Stoller’s idea that in evaluating what a Romney administration would look like we should examine not what policies any leader of the national Republican Party will be committed to, but at the Obama campaign’s messaging. I guess this is how you end up arguing something as transparently foolish as “Romney is more liberal than people think.” Sadly, I think that Stoller really thinks that there’s no difference between the agenda a Republican governor of Massachusetts will pursue and a Republican president will pursue.

I could keep making fun of individual arguments all day, but that’s missing the forest for the trees. What’s most important about Stoller’s argument is what it leaves out — most of the people who stand to get most brutalized by unified Republican government. Women’s rights — whether reproductive rights or pay equity or any other issue — don’t rate a mention. Gays and lesbians — nothing. Anybody whose civil liberties or civil rights would vanish after Antonin Scalia becomes the median vote on the Supreme Court — nothing. The people who will suffer from the environmental regulations that will be rescinded or unenforced by a Republican-run EPA, so sorry. The vote suppression laws that will be given the matador’s cape by a Romney-headed DOJ? He doesn’t care, although he’s ostensibly concerned with creeping authoritarianism. The millions of people who will suffer needless illness or death when their health insurance vanishes from repeal of the PPACA or the savage Medicaid cuts in the Ryan budget — like the aforementioned constituencies they can go fuck themselves. However populist the language, to borrow Michael Tomasky’s apt phrase about Naderism Stoller’s kindergarten nihilism is an ornament of frippery.

Pretending that electoral politics doesn’t really matter, even if the argument isn’t quite as terrible as this one, isn’t a theory of progressive change. It’s about congratulating yourself for being better than the people engaged in the compromises of politics. To again quote Garry Wills, “[t]hose who decide they are too good for politics may be right, but they are often the least qualified judges, either of their own virtue or the system’s viciousness.”

Share with Sociable

Comments (281)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. lawguy says:

    Are you getting paid by the Obama campaign to write this stuff because you really should be.

  2. rea says:

    The Stoller syllogism:

    All politicians are liars.
    Obama and Romney are politicians.
    Obama claims to be a liberal, while Romney claims to be a rightwinger.

    Therefore, a President Romney would govern to the left of President Obama.

  3. Tom Hilton says:

    To be fair to Stoller, it’s not as if his brand of Naderite nihilism had any deleterious impact last time it tipped an election.

    Oh, wait…

    • MG says:

      Keep drinking that haterade.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      I’m not sure I understand — I don’t see how we would have gotten President Chomsky and House majority leader Avakian in ’04 without Nader throwing the election to Bush.

      • Bill Murray says:

        If you think Nader cost Gore the election in any meaningful way, Nader must then also be heavily responsible for the 2006 and 2008 waves, and Obama. Your trying to limit it to 2004 is pretty ridiculous, unless you think the 2006 and 2008 waves weren’t because of how awful Bush proved himself to be.

        Now, I don’t think this because I don’t think Nader cost Gore election in any meaningful way, but you have to play some pretty serious tricks to get to your position.

        • I would trade 2006, 2008, and Obama in a heartbeat for the elimination of the Bush presidency.

          In a heartbeat.

        • Warren Terra says:

          Umm, yeah. So your position is that we need to realize Obama’s basically a Republican, but as people who are willing to accept Obama we should thank Nader for subjecting us to eight years of Dubya because it got us Obama.

          And I’m not sure what “in any meaningful way” means. It is on the record that Nader targeted his campaign in the closing weeks in order most effectively to harm Gore (to Michael Moore’s disgust, to name one prominent example), and it is pretty hard to dispute that, had Nader not been in the race, at least 1% more of his Florida voters would have gone to the polls and have voted for Gore over Dubya – and, yes, the race was that close according to the official results.

          • And given the previous eight years, Gore should have won in a walk. That it was even close is a testament to how awful a campaign Gore won. It’s not just GOPers that have a problem with personal responsibility.

            • mpowell says:

              It’s true. Gore didn’t know how to handle the Republican owned media onslaught in 2000 as well as Clinton or Obama. Therefore, it was right for Nader to throw the election to Bush.

              • Ed says:

                Therefore, it was right for Nader to throw the election to Bush.

                Well, there were also all those Florida Dems who voted for Bush, among other factors. But it’s convenient for certain purposes to blame Nader for everything, including hurricanes and sunspots.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  Florida Dems who voted for Bush

                  Ah, my very favorite Naderite non-sequitur. Yes, there were a lot of conservative Democrats in the South. How this vindicates Nader’s argument that Gore should have just run as a socialist and everything would have been fine is unclear, and how this changes the fact that if Nader doesn’t run Gore wins is also unclear.

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            And I’m not sure what “in any meaningful way” means. It is on the record that Nader targeted his campaign in the closing weeks in order most effectively to harm Gore (to Michael Moore’s disgust, to name one prominent example),

            Actually, this is more apocrophal than “on the record”. (Afaict, there are some quotes at various points which are mobilized in support, but there are also full throated denials by Nader and his staff and the campaign trail evidence is against his campaign actually having done so.

            There’s really no need to add this bit to make the case against Nader.

            (Other interesting bit is that the evidence is strongly against Perot throwing the Bush/Clinton election. Seems that he drew support more or less proportionately which seems to be the norm for 3rd parties. Nader only had an effect because of the extraordinarily close race in FL.)

            • Warren Terra says:

              1) Contemporaneous claims were made by people close to the Nader campaign (e.g. Michael Moore) that Nader was focusing on swing states to gain visibility and to maximize his impact on the outcome of the election, even as some of those people were urging Nader to campaign only in uncontested states.
              2) The Nader campaign sued to block so-called “Nader Trader” websites that attempted to connect voters in swing and non-swing states, so that a left-wing voter in the swing state could vote Democrat in the assurance that their new friend in an uncontested state would vote Nader.

              And note that the entire Nader campaign was at its core a big lie: it claimed to be an attempt to build a left-wing political organization, and that its goal for the election was to get 5% of the vote and qualify for public funding and automatic ballot access – but little of this was true. Instead, Nader’s candidacy was entirely a platform for the aggrandizement of Ralph Nader. The most obvious evidence of this is that Nader refused to turn his supporter database to the Green party, ensuring that unless the party retained him as its nominee almost the unprecedented levels of effort activists put into Nader’s Green Party candidacy for two election cycles would effectively be lost to the Green party.

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                These “Contemporaneous claims were made by people close to the Nader campaign (e.g. Michael Moore)” are dubious. Seriously dubious.

                (I mean, Michael Moore, to my knowledge, did not have any operational or strategic role in the campaign.

                And, actually, please source the quote. This points to lots of contrary stuff from Moore. Alas, the links are broken, but consider the open letter to Gore and esp. How Gore Can Win:

                I completely understand that if you live in a swing state and you feel your conscience telling you that you have to vote for Gore to stop Bush, then do what you need to do. It’s not how I would vote, but I understand and appreciate what you are going through. Yes, Nader needs every possible vote in all 50 states, but if you are acting on conscience instead of compromise then that is all I want you to do.

                This is from November 6th, 2000!)

                Please read Burden’s article. The pattern of campaign appearances was, in fact, not consistent with an attempt to throw the election. The campaign manager said that there was no attempt to target swing states (as opposed to states which would generate large amount of votes).

                As for your second point, again, I’d like to see some evidence for this. What I found:

                But on Monday night, Voteswap 2000, a Los Angeles-based site, shut down after its proprietors received notice from the California secretary of state that vote-trading violated state law.

                So, I’m not even a little bit convinced.

                I understand the need to make the case against Nadar ever more airtight and him a greater monster, but it would be nice if it were on the basis of actual, strong evidence.

        • No, it’s pretty easy to make the case that Nader cost Gore the election, even without Florida. Nader got 3% of the vote in New Hampshire in the general election, which was less than the margin Bush carried it with. No Nader = Gore winning NH, and getting to 270 with no Katharine Harris, SCOTUS idiocy, etc.

          And it’s pretty dumb to draw a straight line between Nader and the 2006 wave. Nader could not have forseen that Bush would start catastrophic foreign conflicts that would ultimately lead to Democratic victories down the line (which, really, he doesn’t care about). This is a case of moving the target after the arrow has landed outside of it.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Now, I don’t think this because I don’t think Nader cost Gore election in any meaningful way

          Well, if Nader doesn’t run, Gore wins. Seems pretty meaningful to me.

          The rest is just a “if things were different, they wouldn’t be the same” argument. There’s no way to reassemble the counterfactual.

          • djw says:

            It’s the classic Naderite dodge–pretend ceteris paribus isn’t implied, and choose one of several factors that might have flipped the outcome (with varying degrees of plausibility) ceteris paribus as somehow more “real” than the others.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              Well, this is a wee bit symmetric, right?

              The cleanest and easiest scenario to get concrete numbers on is something like:

              1) Nader suspends his campaign a week (or a day) before the election.

              2) Voters who would have voter for Nader disproportionately vote for Gore in sufficient numbers to make FL unassailable for Gore.

              The evidence for this would be polls of Nader voters (most probably exit polls, or other polls close to the election; or this cool approach of estimating partisenship from the rest of the ballot).

              My impression is that the evidence supports this scenario. Ralph could have ensured Gore’s victory. He didn’t.

          • Everythings Jake says:

            It’s absolutely not true and studies conclusively showed this.

            http://prorev.com/green2000.htm

            Barry Burden, social scientist at Harvard reviewed the campaign strategy in depth and concluded that there was absolutely no evidence that Nader set out to or ever tried to spoil the election or hurt the democrats. A self-acknowledged lifelon Democrat, he also concluded that his fellow Democrats accusations were mostly just “sour grapes.”

            As for not participating in the process, well Matt was Alan Grayson’s Chief of Staff. Remember him, one of the last people in Congress that actually sounded like a Democrat?

            • Warren Terra says:

              Look, if you want to believe that of Nader’s roughly 100,000 votes in Florida in 2000, of those that would have gone to the polls if Nader had not been running not even 1000 more would have voted for Gore than for Dubya, I can’t stop you from believing that. Indeed, I encourage you to shout this utterly ludicrous claim from the rooftops at every opportunity: it tells your interlocutors exactly who you are, and exactly how much merit to ascribe to any other opinions you might offer.

              As to your statement connecting Stoller to Grayson:
              (1) Stoller was not Grayson’s chief of staff – according to his own website he was a “senior policy advisor”, and an aide who focused on financial issues.
              (2) No-one doubts Stoller’s leftier-than-thou credentials, and Grayson was an outspoken voice for the left. This doesn’t mean Stoller’s not an idiot, as the main post seems to demonstrate he is. A lot of us on this board are of the left – we just are not as dumb as Stoller.
              (3) Given the recent slide in Grayson’s political fortunes, how much blame should we be putting on his close association with an intellectually dishonest, foolish-or-stupid Purity Troll like Matt Stoller?

              Oh, and by the way: you should look at Stoller’s Bio at his own website. This crusading hero of the uncompromising left worked for Wesley Clark (who I supported in 2004 – but he was in absolutely no way even the second-most liberal candidate) and for Jon Flipping Corzine. I really think that, unless they’ve got really a very compelling story of personal redemption, anyone who’s worked for Jon Corzine should probably just shut up when they feel the urge to criticize Democrats for being too close to the plutocracy.

              • Everythings Jake says:

                I don’t have to shout it. Look at the damned numbers. It conclusively proves it. Doesn’t prove anything about me other than maybe offers a suggestion as to the fact that I like to draw my conclusions based on facts and I’m not some kind of hate spewing fact free Eric Alterman type.

                And I’m sorry, the fact that Stoller believes that the difference between Obama and Romney is supported by a lot of rather smart people, Paul Street, Adolph Reed, Glen Ford, Yves Smith to name a few. Is he as smart as they are, who knows? Is he the complete and total dumbass this board makes him out to be? Hardly.

                Corzine was by all intents and purposes a good democrat when Stoller’s journey began. So he moved beyond it, isn’t that somewhat the point of life, to grow from the experience? That Stoller’s journey led him to a place outside the system, well he wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last.

                And y’know, thanks for sharing your conclusive judgment based on my what less than 50 words. You do understand that’s kind of dickish move?

                • Everythings Jake says:

                  correction, PLEASE ADD “to the unitiated, I’m sure Corzine was by all intents and purposes a “good democrat” when Stoller began…”

                • djw says:

                  1. Polling for 3rd party candidates is notoriously unreliable; identifying a lack of correlation in the movement of major and 3rd party candidates doesn’t even remotely “prove” anything.

                  2. The Florida exit poll data on Nader voters had sample sizes far too small to draw conclusions from. National exit polls had a more useful sample size, and they saw an entirely sufficient Gore lead amongst Nader voters in the hypothetical 2 way race question to flip Florida easily. The strongest (along with the best and largest sample size) had a 47-21-32 result for Gore-Bush-Neither; the weakest was 38-25-33. Those numbers could significantly overstate Gore’s support and he still flips Florida.

                  If you prefer to approach the question not based on what Nader voters say, but rather on the determinants of voting behavior. Such a strategy comes up with broadly similar conclusions about the likely behavior of Nader voters. See this or this.

                  So in order to believe that Nader didn’t cost Gore the election, you have to believe either:

                  1. Exit polling and voting behavior scholarship are both entirely useless, AND a left protest candidate actually took more votes from the mainstream right candidate than the mainstream left candidate.

                  or:

                  2. Nader voters in Florida have an entirely different character than Nader voters nationally.

                  The latter is a more plausible route for the sophisticated Nader spoiler denialist, because the former is too deeply disconnected from reality. However, it’s a pretty tall order, and I haven’t yet heard a plausible narrative to support it, let alone evidence to support such a narrative.

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                Look, if you want to believe that of Nader’s roughly 100,000 votes in Florida in 2000, of those that would have gone to the polls if Nader had not been running not even 1000 more would have voted for Gore than for Dubya, I can’t stop you from believing that. Indeed, I encourage you to shout this utterly ludicrous claim from the rooftops at every opportunity: it tells your interlocutors exactly who you are, and exactly how much merit to ascribe to any other opinions you might offer.

                There are two claims:

                1) The Nadar campaign targeted swing states aggressively.

                2) The Nadar campaign spoiled Florida for Gore (and perhaps New Hampshire).

                For the latter, generally what people look at is e.g., exit polls of Nadar voters which as whether and whom they would have voted for if they hadn’t voted for Nader. (Obviously this doesn’t measure second order effects like siphoning campaign volunteers, etc., but those are hopeless, IMHO.)

                For the first, the hardest evidence is the pattern of appearances and ad buys. If you had strategy documents, that would help. Coy public statements about not minding being a spoiler aren’t particularly convincing, esp. when contradicted by other public statements.

                (Statements only possibly show intent, not effect.)

                Burden shows that it’s highly unlikely that the Nader campaign was running a spoiler strategy.

                My understanding, though I don’t have the best evidence to hand, is that, unusually, Nadar did have a spoiler effect:

                Among Nader voters, 45 percent said they would have voted for Mr. Gore, 27 percent said they would have voted for Mr. Bush, and the rest said they would not have voted.

                In California, where Mr. Nader received 4 percent of the vote, 46 percent said they would have voted for Mr. Gore and only 14 percent said they would have gone for Mr. Bush.

                We’d need the FL exit polls to be sure, of course, but it seems unlikely to be very close to 50-50.

                Stoller, of course, is a ridiculous hackity hack.

              • Bobh says:

                Clinton, Gore, Obama and most other Democrats have been and are active and willing accomplices to the disastrous financialization of our economy and the domination of our politics by elites. It seems not much can be done about this, but thoughtful people like Nader and Stoller try to call attention to the problem and, twelve years ago, their message took a few votes away from people like Gore. This tiny number of lost votes may have tipped the 2000 election from a blue Wall Street hired hand to a red Wall Street hired hand who later got us into a disastrous war.

                Mr Lemieux’s contentions that this history means that Stoller is an idiot, that Obama’s health care capitulations to insurance and pharma didn’t adopt a right wing template designed to frustrate popular demand for health care reform and that Obama didn’t move immediately after his election to break implicit and explicit campaign promises are silly.

                Lemieux is in a frenzy, rooting for the likeable blue candidate instead of the evil red candidate on the reality TV show that he and the rest of the country are watching. He thinks stamping his feet and calling people names will carry the day for the blue team.

  4. MG says:

    Jeez louise, weren’t you complaining about how women shouldn’t be single-issue voters. Or maybe you think their single issue should be electing Obama?

    I will very reluctantly vote for Obama. But I’m not happy about his record on torture, murder of civilians, coddling of Israel and downright cuddling of the wealthy (and I’d argue criminal) 1%.

    And really, “clean coal”? This is what passes for environmentalism now?

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Or maybe you think their single issue should be electing Obama?

      Or, you know, the far-from-comprehensive list of issues cited on which Obama is far better than Romney.

      • Warren Terra says:

        Including, interestingly, not only your list, but also MG’s own list.

        • DrDick says:

          Anybody who thinks Romney would not be significantly worse on those specific issues has not been paying attention to what he has been saying or who his advisers are.

          • MG says:

            Or has had Romney as an actual, you know, governor. Where he was to the left of prior Republican governors and Deval Patrick WRT transportation policy, the environment, corruption in government (Billy Bulger) and did pass universal health care coverage.

            I’m not voting for Romney but not all Republicans are evil incarnate. But stating that is what passes for crazytalk on this board.

            • mark f says:

              he was to the left of prior Republican governors and Deval Patrick WRT transportation policy

              Umm . . . how?

              • MG says:

                - Appointing Doug Foy

                - Moving government offices to rail-accessible locations

                - Putting in place a master plan to extend the MBTA

                • All good things, but none of them are to Patrick’s left. He’s also the guy who spent $100 million to get rid of the rotaries at the Cape Cod bridges to make the Cape easier to access by car. For the cost of that project, they could have provide rail access to Hyannis.

                • mark f says:

                  And Patrick has shifted away from these policies?

                • spencer says:

                  get rid of the rotaries at the Cape Cod bridges

                  Are you fucking serious?

                  He took the rotaries out?

                  Damn, it *has* been a while since I’ve been back.

                • wjts says:

                  He took the rotaries out?

                  Yeah, but they put a new one in on 149 in Barnstable, so it all worked out in the end.

            • Malaclypse says:

              You do realize that Billy Bulger was not a governor, don’t you?

              And he was to the left of Bill Weld? On what?

            • rea says:

              And you do realize that, however moderate he was a governor, Romney has renonced every single one of those moderate position in his run for the presidency?

              • djw says:

                I’ll confess that I’d be a fair amount less worried about the consequences of a Romney Presidency if I could be confident he’d be governing with veto and filibuster-proof supermajorities of mostly liberal Democrats in both houses of congress.

                • Stephen says:

                  Exactly. Why do people keep arguing from the premise that the president unilaterally sets domestic policy? Congress sets domestic policy. The danger of President Romney is what he would enable (and ask) the Republicans in Congress to do. Romney has no policy of his own in areas that don’t concern giving money to billionaires; he’ll sign whatever the Congressional GOP passes.

                • chris says:

                  Why do people keep arguing from the premise that the president unilaterally sets domestic policy?

                  Because it’s the most convenient way to blame Obama for everything bad that happens?

            • JL says:

              I also had Romney as a governor, and I’m going to say that I really really don’t want to have him as a president.

            • Romney also pulled Massachusetts out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

              • Darkrose says:

                For me, it was trying to invoke a law intended to keep interracial couples from coming to MA to get married in order to keep MA from becoming–in his words–”the Las Vegas of gay marriage”.

                I remember an article about him meeting with a lesbian couple, and simply not being able to understand why the right to marry was important. The man has zero empathy for anyone who isn’t like him. I didn’t want him as governor, and I certainly don’t want him as president.

            • mpowell says:

              It is crazy talk, sorry. At least at the national level. The only way to make it more clear to you over the past 4 years would have required a 2×4.

    • David Hunt says:

      These are all issues that Obama’s administration should be lobbied on forcefully. Political pressure should be applied by the legal means that are available to us. However, as bad as Obama’s record is on issues various issues, I’m dead certain that it’s still better the McCain’s would have been and better than Romney’s would be.

      Romney’s response to being presented with Little People’s Problems would be some variant of “Release the hounds.”

    • And really, “clean coal”? This is what passes for environmentalism now?

      Seen any “clean coal?” As opposed to coal plants shutting down left and right, massive new air quality regulations that make it impossible to build coal plants, CO2 regulation, and oh yeah the largest reduction of carbon emissions of any country on the planet, I haven’t seen any clean coal.

      It’s good to know that Obama’s call of the coal industry’s bluff is fooling people, though.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      Pretty much the way I feel. In fact, unlike 2000, there is no third-party movement on the left of any note this year. So I’d suggest worrying less about an imaginary Naderite menace and focusing instead on figuring out how we can deal with the perfectly predictable negative consequences of reelecting the lesser evil (which, I should add, we should abolutely do, because doing so would be unquestionably better than the alternative). It’s also always the right time to work toward coming up with ways out of this bipartisan race-to-the-bottom. As Corey Robin pointed out earlier today, we may not be worse off then we were four years ago, but most Americans are worse off than we were thirty-four years ago.

    • NonyNony says:

      No. “Clean coal” is what passes for trying to show that you remember that Labor is supposed to be a part of your coalition.

      I’m actually annoyed about the clean coal stuff, not from an environmental perspective (Because, frankly, the “clean coal” framing is brilliant at making coal more expensive to implement in practice even as it makes it look like you’re doing nothing of the sort) but from the Labor side of the equation. Because there are quite a number of actual JOBS in the coal industry, and as long as the “clean coal” fiction continues to be held out the very real question of “what are we going to do about the JOBS that are lost when we abandon coal as a fuel source” continues to get ignored.

      (One of the things that annoys the snot out of me are my allies on the left who want to get us off coal without actually dealing with the actual question that makes this HARD. Which is – how the fuck are you going to get us off coal without fucking over a large group of some of the most historically fucked-over people in the country – i.e. your average mine worker. If it were just an issue of dicking over a few billionaires there wouldn’t really be a political fight at all – a Democrat in office would just do it. But this isn’t a problem that is even remotely that easy to solve.)

  5. Malaclypse says:

    xkcd promised me that we would not forget the consequences of stupid Naderite false equivalences until 2035. I cannot believe xkcd has let me down. Truly, all that is holy is profaned, all that was solid melts into air.

  6. bob mcmanus says:

    It’s about congratulating yourself for being better than the people engaged in the compromises of politics.

    Well, that depends, I should imagine, I hope even for you, on how pernicious and distasteful the compromises are. I like to think in my more generous moments that even Scott Lemieux has a limit. Everyone of course has their own unique limit when the lesser evil becomes too evil. Although the lessons of history do shock the conscience in this regard.

    And I wouldn’t regard it as prideful or self-congratulatory to obey your conscience. I don’t feel good about it. Rather, I think those who see themselves as tough very serious people making the hard compromises as the ones feeding their egos. They certainly seem to look much happier than me, and get more social support.

    • bob mcmanus says:

      And why don’t you pick on Ian Welsh for a change

      “Obama is a profoundly evil fucking man”

      • Warren Terra says:

        Speaking for myself, I’ve heard of Matt Stoller. He at least used to be fairly big news, is or was read widely, and has or had access to high-profile platforms for his opinions. On the other hand, I am informed by your link that someone named Ian Welsh exists.

        • Malaclypse says:

          Ian is TK421. You may remember him from posts like “Obama uses drones!” and “Obama is worse than Hitler!” He’ll drop by later to mention the drone thing, and to tell us how he had personally heard from liberals that they want Muslims to die in large numbers.

          • The most important thing about Osama bin Laden is that he was a Muslim.

            The second most important thing about Osama bin Laden is that he was old.

            Barack Obama had an old Muslim killed. What a prick!

            • Stephen says:

              Just because a troll keeps bringing up the fact that the Obama administration has killed a lot of innocent people with drones doesn’t mean it isn’t true or terrible. I don’t see why we should be flippant about it.

              • Osama bin Laden is an innocent person?

              • Stopping the people who carried out the 9/11 attacks and the embassy bombings is an enormous humanitarian good.

                • Stephen says:

                  The fact that our War on Terror has killed more civilians in the past decade than the actual terrorists have kind of makes it not a humanitarian good at all.

                • I never knew that “fact” meant “something I just made up, which is easily refuted.”

                  Anyway, who said anything about the “War on Terror?” I’m not talking about George Bush’s insane policy to conquer multiple countries by military force. I’m talking about targeting al Qaeda.

                • joe from Lowell says:
                  September 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm
                  Stopping the people who carried out the 9/11 attacks

                  Stephen says:
                  September 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm
                  The fact that our War on Terror has killed more civilians

                  Psst: Hey, Stephen. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

                • Stephen says:

                  Look, just let me know if you’re in favor of Obama’s targeted drone strikes or not so we can stop this ridiculous dance.

                • Of course I am. Any sane person is.

                  Now, even if you meant to say that Obama’s targeted drone strikes have killed more civilians than al Qaeda, you’re still wrong.

                  Even the highest estimates of all of the civilians killed in all of the drone (and piloted aircraft) strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia combined – under both Bush and Obama – are still a fraction of the number of civilians killed by al Qaeda just in one day in September 2001.

                  The erosion of al Qaeda’s capacity to slaughter civilians has been an enormous humanitarian accomplishment.

          • NonyNony says:

            Wait – please tell me that this is a joke. TK421 really isn’t Ian Welsh, right? You just mean that they have the same message overall, not that they’re actually the same person, right?

        • Sherm says:

          On the other hand, I am informed by your link that someone named Ian Welsh exists.

          He’s a Nobel Laureate in Economics. His work on the impacts of inflation is very highly regarded.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        And why don’t you pick on Ian Welsh for a change

        Jeez, this comment thread wasn’t enough for you? Paul/Calhoun ’12!

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      If you conscience involves supporting an even worse version of Obama’s foreign policy offenses in addition to the overruling of Roe v. Wade, tens of millions of people who would otherwise have heath insurance not having it, a massive new round of upper-class tax cuts, Medicare replaced with vouchers, the DOJ winking at disenfranchisement, etc. etc. etc. then you need a new one.

      • To be fair, he isn’t actually “supporting those things” by sitting in his room and listening to Morrissey on election day.

        It’s more of a “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing” kind of thing. He’s merely letting his happen, because his conscience won’t let him stop it.

        • mark f says:

          sitting in his room and listening to Morrissey on election day.

          This is McManus we’re talking about; he’ll be watching Hara-Kiri.

        • NonyNony says:

          sitting in his room and listening to Morrissey on election day.

          I believe you mean “show those clowns what he thinks by staying at home on election day and dressing up like a clown.”

          That’s how you show ‘em.

        • Stephen says:

          It’s more of a “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing” kind of thing.

          That ship has sailed. The plutocrats will be running America whether Obama or Romney wins, and they got in that position because good people did nothing.

          Not that I’m saying there’s no difference between Obama and Romney. I’ll sure as fuck be voting for Obama.

    • Tom Hilton says:

      And I wouldn’t regard it as prideful or self-congratulatory to obey your conscience.

      What the fuck does “your conscience” mean in this sentence? Because it seems like you’re using it as a proxy for idealism–and that to obey it means acting on belief alone, without regard to consequences.

      Which isn’t what my conscience tells me at all. My conscience tells me to act according to pragmatic, consequentialist calculations.

      • Ignorant Texan says:

        Thank you. If any of y’all want to see what a Romney Administration with a lunatic congress will be like, just come down to Texas and watch Gov Prick(The P is silent) and our legislature in action. Then tell me your conscience dictates you stay home on the 6th.

    • SEK says:

      I think those who see themselves as tough very serious people making the hard compromises as the ones feeding their egos.

      I give bob shit for a variety of reasons, but there’s no small amount of truth in that statement: just think about Michelle’s speak from Monday night, which basically applauded Obama for doing a job he knew would entail daily compromise. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to applaud him for being able to do so — I think the question of “Would you have order the kill on bin Laden?” is often answered with unwarranted flippancy even by pacifists — but it’s the technocratic version of the ideologically pure warrior-hero we typically despise.

      • Ed says:

        …just think about Michelle’s speak from Monday night, which basically applauded Obama for doing a job he knew would entail daily compromise.

        You bothered to watch? I’m impressed.

        • SEK says:

          I violated no Internet Traditions. Besides, being deaf, I prefer to read transcripts than watch words stumble across the bottom of the screen.

          • I feel much the same way, because I read faster than politicians talk, and delivery rarely matters to me as much as the ideas. But for major political theater (conventions, debates, SOTU) I make an exception because it’s fun. And people don’t natter at you about not watching afterwards.

            • Stephen says:

              And people don’t natter at you about not watching afterwards.

              When people natter at me about that, I tell them that watching the circus act that is a modern national convention is in no way necessary to be informed of the issues or candidates.

              Of course, all of the people I know who think it’s somehow important to watch the DNC are Democrats who put party affiliation ahead of actual policies, so there you are.

    • Donald says:

      Most blogging discussions on this topic are childish. The Naderites refuse to face the unpleasant facts regarding their position (it enables Republicans to win and Republicans are worse) and the defenders of the Democrats mock and jeer and refuse to admit that there are some truly despicable things about the Democrats. It’s denialism on both sides, at least on the part of people who really do care.

      I don’t have a solution for this and neither does anyone else AFAIK.

  7. And on a policy level, whether you call it Romneycare in Massachusetts, or Obamacare nationally, it’s the same healthcare program.

    The % of children without health care coverage in Massachusetts in 0%.

    Stoller thinks its was a terrible betrayal of liberalism that we did this, rather than use those kids as hostages to maybe someday get his magic pony plan.

    Fuck him, and anything he has to say.

    • Stephen says:

      You mean the “magic pony plan” that the rest of the Western world has had for like half a century?

      • Yep, the magic pony that has been available for half a century, and that the American political system has rejected every time it was brought up.

        Matt Stoller wants the kids in my state, and the kids in the United States, who gained coverage through Obamneycare to have gone without it, for another half century and then maybe another one after that, until the American political system changes enough to adopt that plan.

        Fuck him, and anything he has to say.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        You mean the “magic pony plan” that the rest of the Western world has had for like half a century?

        And since all of these countries have strong separation of powers, the electoral college, no restrictions on campaign spending, and a major region that was an apartheid police state less than 50 years ago, this plan must inevitably come to the United States.

  8. Sherm says:

    Yes, his piece is replete with false equivalencies and hyperbole, and he fails to consider how Romney would govern with a republican majority. But can you really quibble with this:

    “Both Romney and Obama want to see the same core economic trends continue. These are, most significantly, a transition to an energy system based on hydro-fracking of natural gas and oil deposits (and some renewable energy), a large national security state, the sale of public assets to private interests, globalized financial flows, a preservation of the capital structure of the large banks, free rein of white-collar behavior and austerity in public budgets.”

    • Malaclypse says:

      I concede that neither is campaigning on a platform calling for the overthrow of the world economic system. I can still tell the difference between the candidate who will make things either marginally better, or marginally worse, and the candidate likely to make things dramatically worse.

    • Warren Terra says:

      This is somewhat true – its truth is diminished by the fact that on most or all of these issues Romney is or is likely to be markedly worse than Obama, even as Obama isn’t giving us the leadership and change we need on these issues. But it’s hardly a good enough reason to throw up your hands when confronted with a choice between Obama and Romney; it’s a reason to develop a movement and move mainstream opinion to where the political spectrum on these issues doesn’t go all the way from bad to inconceivably bad.

      Also note that other issues close to the Democrats’ hearts – fixing the problems caused by Citizens United for example have the potential to make such attempts to influence debate away from the plutocrats more feasible.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      I also concede the point — like every other presidential election in American history there will not be a socialist running on a major party ticket. If only we could have kept those neoliberal sellouts FDR and LBJ out of office we’d have a world of unicorns and ice cream castles in the air by now.

      • Uncle Kvetch says:

        If only we could have kept those neoliberal sellouts FDR and LBJ out of office we’d have a world of unicorns and ice cream castles in the air by now.

        Jesus. We get it, already.

      • N W Barcus says:

        On the positive side, it’s also possible that the average public intellectual would have an IQ above room temperature. And maybe we wouldn’t all be dependent on computers manufactured by slave labor. (With the notable exception of Loomis, all of whose electronics are built by elves at the North Pole and delivered by Santa Claus.)

        Still… manfully conceded, sir. Dream big!

        • Erik Loomis says:

          Yes, noting that the computers we all rely on shouldn’t be made by exploited labor clearly means that I am loony!

          How dare I demand the products I use be made in dignified labor conditions!

          • N W Barcus says:

            …Aaaand there’s your straw man. It’s hard to believe an educated person could think that’s an actual argument that engages with what I’ve said.

            I’m not saying you’re loony for believing computers “shouldn’t be made by exploited labor”, in fact I agree with you.

            However, to my everyday-LGM-reading knowledge this is the first time you’ve ever acknowledged that you’re exploiting them too with your consumer choices. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can to change those conditions, but it might advance the argument just a bit if you were to offer any concrete actions we worker-exploitin’ consumers could take to improve the situation, instead of fapping your Apple-hate.

            • N W Barcus says:

              …And by “concrete actions” I include any informed opinions on any computer manufacturers we might patronize that have a better Chinese labor record than Apple. (Note that some Apple manufacturing may be moving to Brazil, and Samsung’s building SoC CPUs in Texas, though I have only limited hope that the conditions will be substantially better in either location.)

      • Stephen says:

        I also concede the point — like every other presidential election in American history there will not be a socialist running on a major party ticket.

        Point taken, but I don’t get why we’re pretending that the Democratic Party isn’t moving rightward. Would Clinton have refused to prosecute perpetrators of illegal torture? Would Reagan?

        • L2P says:

          What makes you think Clinton would have done things any differently than Obama did? I love Clinton, but I don’t see him looking for reasons to prosecute soldiers.

        • mark f says:

          Would Clinton have refused to prosecute perpetrators of illegal torture? Would Reagan?

          It’s true: Ronald Reagan held members of the military and other national security agencies to high standards of moral conduct and required strict adherence to the law.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Would Clinton have refused to prosecute perpetrators of illegal torture?

          Sure. Is there any precedent for major officials in a previous administration being prosecuted? These previous civil libertarian presidents exist solely in your imagination. How many people did Obama strip of their property and order into concentration camps, like Real Progressive FDR? Did DeWitt ever get prosecuted for that?

          By the way, the Real Progressive Democratic Party controlled all three branches from 1977-1980. Can you tell me some of the great things they accomplished during this Golden Age? I’m sure they make the ACA and the repeal of DADT look like nothing.

        • spencer says:

          Would Clinton have refused to prosecute perpetrators of illegal torture? Would Reagan?

          Yeah, probably.

    • So Mitt Romney wants to transition away from coal?

      Really?

      You sure about that, Mr. Stoller?

    • SEK says:

      Yes, but.

      By which I mean, we’re not going to elect a candidate opposed to machinations of capital you describe; at this point, it’s more prudent to find a candidate who dances with the devil in the pale moonlight most gracefully when it comes to workplace equity, the environment, etc.

    • They can’t, and that’s their problem.

  9. Uncle Kvetch says:

    But can you really quibble with this:

    No…but someone will anyway.

  10. TK421 says:

    So what does Obama do to solve the massive jobs problems in America as highlighted by this morning’s job report? As far as I can see it comes down to:

    1) Frack baby, frack!

    2) Mildly tinker with the tax code

    3) QE3

    Is this really the best the “left wing” party of the wealthiest nation in the world can do? Nibble around the edges of a massive problem?

    America is screwed as a nation and our futures are fucked no matter who wins. The party is over for neoliberal capitalism and the USA.

    But hey, Michelle sure looked good in that dress!

      • TK421 says:

        Weak sauce.

        The US is no longer a democracy but is under inverted totalitarianism and managed democracy. Google them. Electoral politics is a shell game. Only direct action, direct protest, general strikes, and uprisings will make a difference. Of course you’re probably too busy watching baseball to care about that, though, just like our owners want it.

        Neoliberal capitalism and inverted totalitarianism must be overthrown, not tinkered with.

        • Cody says:

          You’re welcome to participate in these. I’m happy for it! Go out, campaign, revolt!

          Sadly, you’re never going to get the majority of Americans to join you. While you waste your life doing that (I suppose this is a difference in priorities), I’m going to enjoy mine while trying to push policies to the left by what legal means I have.

          • TK421 says:

            You don’t need a majority, or even a plurality, or even a very large number of people at all to overthrow the system. Ask the Bolsheviks. But you do need to give up on the illusion that we have any real choice in how we are governed under the current system. Voting is worthless and the deck is stacked. Join Occupy. Join Code Pink. Sponsor local Anti-Capitalist Meetups and worker’s syndicates. All will do more for the world than participating in the illusion of bourgeois “democracy”, especially the rotten form the USA has.

            • Warren Terra says:

              I’m not aware that the Bolsheviks overthrew an established system. Nor am I aware that they are a model of reform to be emulated.

              And the rest of your comment is equally compelling.

            • MG says:

              Right on!

              I volunteered at Occupy and have never met a group of more generous, hopeful and committed individuals. Who listened to one another! What a concept!

              • JL says:

                Me too…and you are, based on previous comments, in Massachusetts, as I am. Maybe we’re based out of the same Occupation!

                That said, I’m not sure why you’re agreeing with the troll here. Most people who comment on this blog are okay with the idea of direct actions, strikes, protests. Nobody (here) is saying don’t do that. I’m certainly not. I would love for more people to come to Occupy actions. You can do that and also engage with the system as it exists. In fact, in my opinion, both need to happen for real change to happen.

            • Erik Loomis says:

              As the person on this blog with the most leftist credentials and who is a historian of the American left, let me say that this is bullshit. You do not understand the nature of historical change. While the necessity of people in the streets cannot be denied, the “left,” however defined, has never accomplished anything without gaining access to the levers of political power within the bourgeois “democracy” of which you speak. Anarchist groups accomplished nothing–unless you want to argue that they accomplished people voting for reforms in order to undermine anarchists, which is an accomplishment of a sort. The I.W.W. did accomplish things indirectly but they were completely opposed to anything short of vague revolution and were ultimately useless–and the CIO learned from their uselessness. So I’m not seeing a lot of real evidence that joining Occupy or Code Pink–by themselves–is going to create change. Because ultimately, Occupy or Code Pink has to engage within the political systems we have–engage in their own way to be sure which may or may not be within our traditional 2-party structure. But that engagement will happen or nothing will happen.

              It’s one thing to say Revolution! To the Streets! Down with Capitalism! Etc. It’s another to actually ground your ideas in how change occurs through human history. Because I mean, what group accomplished more in this country than the Weather Underground!

              • firefall says:

                You do not understand the nature of historical change.

                well duh … noone does. Not that I disagree with anything you wrote, I’m just nitpicking

              • gmack says:

                Interesting. I happen to be re-reading Piven and Cloward’s Poor People’s Movements, and I think their argument at least complicates this discussion. Basically, their argument is that for a long time leftists assumed that the main strategy/tactic of political mobilization is to create a mass organization so as to apply continuous pressure on existing institutions. So the tendency is to put energy into signing up members, getting them to meetings, etc. P & C, by contrast, argue that the most important moments of change are more insurrectionary (which is not the same, of course, as a violent revolution): it arises from a series of direct actions that, because it splits existing power structures or threatens important constituencies, induces a crisis that then leads political elites to try to placate the protests.

                Anyway, I’m not sure whether you disagree with this analysis (I’m not sure I agree with it either, though I think in the context of the welfare rights movement, they have a pretty strong case). Efforts to turn protest movements directly into interest groups might end up misdirecting energy, or at least, there is a risk in this direction (e.g., as soon as the immediate incentives to participate in the mass organization that the welfare rights activists were building disappeared, the movement collapsed. P & C argue that pursuing a more militant path might have wrung more concessions).

            • rea says:

              So, TK421′s position is to call for armed revolution (maybe a few million dead, but who cares?) and imposition of a nondemocratic government by the vanguard of the prolitariat, who will set our society and the world to rights regardless of the wishes of the majority (who don’t know what’s good for them).

              Yeah, the history of that approach is real encouraging.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              That’s the nice thing about living in Ontario. Even more so than most men of privilege, you’re insulated from the consequences that would flow from ignoring American politics until your pathetic wank fantasies about Occupy and Code Pink overthrowing the American state can be realized.

            • Darkrose says:

              “Voting is worthless.”

              Spoken as only a white man can speak.

            • JL says:

              I have been working my ass off with Occupy for the last 11 months, I’ve been to Occupy camps and convergences in five states, I was in Chicago with the Occupiers and the anarchists and IVAW and all the other NATO protesters when there was literally blood staining the street, I’ll be in NYC for Sept. 17, and I think you’re full of shit.

              Do you not understand the concept of diversity of tactics? I know that to a lot of people, that’s just a euphemism for smashing windows or throwing bottles at cops (to which I would say that diversity of tactics doesn’t mean I have to be okay with every dumb tactical idea that passes through someone’s brain), but the whole idea there is that people can pursue social change in multiple ways, involving multiple levels of militancy, at once. Electoral politics is a tactic. Working within the system for incremental change and damage mitigation is a tactic. It might not be one that you want to engage in. It’s certainly not going to fix everything that needs fixing by itself. Guess what? Neither is marching or (as an example of direct action) blockading oppressive institutions (both of which are tactics used at actions that I’ve participated in). I’m helping plan a direct action campaign to bring basic healthcare to at-risk people, and I hope that a lot of good will come of it, but it’s not going to fix US healthcare, for instance, by itself, and still wouldn’t even if there was a group doing it in every city. I engage in direct action one day every month to ensure that patients can access reproductive health services without violence from anti-abortion cranks, and by doing that I have made a bunch of people’s lives better, but that by itself doesn’t solve the attacks on reproductive freedom.

              Real people are more complicated than your dichotomy of Pure Radical Activists vs Muslim-Killing Obots who Love Michelle Obama’s Arms. Incidentally, the liberal-vs-radical crap drives people away from Occupy.

          • Scott S. says:

            Do you think he’s actually going to go out, campaign, and revolt? He strikes me as someone who’ll stay home, do nothing, then whine that no one followed his Internetz Wisdoms. Working for change is harrrrrd.

        • mark f says:

          One not need choose one or the other, though it is true that neither of them are to be what they claim.

        • So when you say that Obama’s jobs strategy

          comes down to:

          1) Frack baby, frack!

          2) Mildly tinker with the tax code

          3) QE3

          What you really mean is that it isn’t the overthrow of the capitalist system.

          Okay. Glad we could make that clear.

        • solidcitizen says:

          You want Obama to come out in favor of “direct action, direct protest, general strikes, and uprisings”? You want him to declare politics a shell game? Tell everyone that they are “owned”? Maybe scream “Wake up, sheeple!” during a debate?

          Then you’d vote for him? Sweet. I mean he’d lose to Mitt “Fucking” Romney 200 million votes to 15, but damn it, finally someone would be speaking truth!

          And about the “watching baseball” crack. If direct action is all it is about, why are you wasting your time commenting on political stories – politics doesn’t even matter does it? – on a political blog? This is different than watching baseball how?

          • Warren Terra says:

            The last really is the funny part. The stormtrooper is calling for Revolution In The Streets – by means of dyspeptic comments in a political blog. You can practically feel the System tremble.

            • Sherm says:

              Revolution In The Streets

              I am pretty sure that he just smokes weed and surfs the net in his parents’ basement and only hits the streets when he runs out of Doritos.

            • rea says:

              Well, yeah, the best thing you can say about him is that he’s a useless poseur–if he weren’t, he might be dangerous.

              • faux says:

                Doesn’t “useless poseur” describe just about all the commenters on this blog when it comes to national politics? I am more involved with the local party/candidates than the average guy but it is strictly hobbyist level. Politics is fairly far down the list of what I spend my energy and money on.

                Offering reasonable suggestions and sensible analysis may remove the useless tag but you are still left with the poseur.

          • bob mcmanus says:

            “You want Obama…”

            Yes to the above questions in paragraph one. But I would prefer him to do it after he wins re-election. If he had done it in 2011 or earlier, I’d vote for him.

            How do you persuade John Boehner? How bout a million people outside his home?

            Obama could do it in a heartbeat. And this is what was discussed in the most recent “bully pulpit” thread, using charisma and leadership to mobilize your supporters. It just needs to be taken far enough to either get the results we want, or a clarification of the situation.

            • bob mcmanus says:

              Now I suppose there may some vulnerability to laws against inciting riots, and liability for damages incurred.

              He could bring 5 million to the impeachment.

            • rea says:

              How do you persuade John Boehner? How bout a million people outside his home? . . . Obama could do it in a heartbeat.

              In what fucking universe?

              • mark f says:

                You do have to admit that the president asking his supporters to swarm the private residence of an opposing politician would play well in the media, though.

                • rea says:

                  Oh, hell, it wouldn’t even play well with me, and it shouldn’t with you, either, if you think about the implications

              • Scott S. says:

                In the universe of FUCKING MAGIC CROWDS THAT OBAMA CAN MYSTICALLY SUMMON WITH MAGIC BLACK MAN POWRS TO GO ZIPPING OFF TO OHIO TO HANG OUT AT ORANGEMAN’S HOUSE, that’s where!

              • And what good would it do, anyway? I’m reasonably sure Boehner hasn’t had 1,000,000 people vote for his opponent in, well, maybe ever, so considering the size and partisan split of OH-8, it would be rather obvious that a substantial chunk of those 1,000,000 people weren’t constituents, and there are few things members of Congress are better at than ignoring non-constituents.

        • Malaclypse says:

          Only direct action, direct protest, general strikes, and uprisings will make a difference.

          You are right about this. If you need bail money after you engage in any of these, give a shout.

          Or are you engaging in direct action by supplying ideas?

        • “inverted totalitarianism”

          Two great words that mean nothing together!

          You should write Jonah Goldberg’s next book.

    • Sherm says:

      No, this is not the best the “left wing” party can do. Nor is the party “left wing” by any stretch of the imagination. But its 100x better than a Romney presidency and that, unfortunately, is the only alternative.

      • Bill Murray says:

        Most every election after 1976 was supposed to be the end of the world and we had to vote for the lesser evil or the world would end. The lesser evil’s often lost, the world didn’t end, but we did keep edging closer to the greater evil

        • Yossarian says:

          “the world didn’t end,”

          Well, it ended for a lot of Iraqis in 2003 or so, the world economy damn near did in the fall of 2008, but the more important point is that Ralph Nader is more idealistic than Al Gore.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Yes, Reagan and George W. Bush didn’t do any bad things at all. The 1980 and 2000 elections were of no historical import whatsoever. Excellent point.

          • rea says:

            And the fact that electing Reagan significantly increased the chance of a global nuclear war doesn’t count, because as it happened, we lucked out, and Reagan (or his crazier advisors)didn’t start one

    • SEK says:

      Is this really the best the “left wing” party of the wealthiest nation in the world can do? Nibble around the edges of a massive problem?

      Do we really want to rehash the ideologue vs. technocrat argument from the late ’40s? Because while we’re busying refreshing our minds as to the nuances of the New York Intellectuals, the technocrats will be out there making inadequate and incremental changes that’ll result, within 60 years, in the legal framework for the GI BIll, the Civil Rights Movement, Title IX, etc. I’m not saying that direct action doesn’t sometimes motivate legislative slugs — Martin wouldn’t have been nearly so acceptable if Malcolm hadn’t been the alternative, etc. — but it does annoy me when proponents of such action refuse to acknowledge that there has to be someone to codify their calls.

  11. mark f says:

    an ornament of frippery

    But we could be heroes, Scott, just for one day.

  12. Boudleaux says:

    I’s done looked up “frippery,” and it doesn’t involve King Crimson.

    I’m not sure it’s the right word, though. I think maybe it’s “puffery.”

  13. scott says:

    Sometimes I wonder which Scott finds more outraging, criticism of Obama from the left or from the right. Based on the level of vitriol, the answer would seem to be the left.

    • Yossarian says:

      I think maybe he expects the right wing to be useless shitheads. When your own side’s doing it, it’s both remarkably galling and an unnecessary roadblock from people who really should know better.

      • Tom Hilton says:

        Also, too? Right-wingers are useless shitheads from our perspective, but are at least advancing their own agenda. Lefty purity trolls, on the other hand, are actively undermining the agenda they claim to support. Which makes them a whole other level of useless shithead.

        • N W Barcus says:

          Is Glenn Greenwald a “purity troll” by your standards? I’m curious.

          • Tom Hilton says:

            Greenwald is a lying sack of shit, a grifter who was able for a while to bamboozle a lot of progs into taking him for an expert on constitutional law and civil liberties (and a handful of holdouts still believe it), and a purity troll persona is often part of his grift.

            Does that answer your question?

      • N W Barcus says:

        Which is kinda funny, since he lost any intellectual integrity in my eyes some months ago when he said that he was more likely to overlook stupid remarks from his “own side”.

        • L2P says:

          Well,

          (a) most people aren’t really bothered by stupidity that doesn’t really . . . bother them,

          (b) there’s a limited amount of time in the day, and you have to focus on the stuff that matters (i.e., stupid right wing stuff that makes the world worse like “global warming doesn’t exist”, not stupid left wing stuff that is just, well, stupid),

          and

          (c) that’s exactly the sort of intellectual purity that might just, some sweet day, get the Green Party back in power! Keep at it, young buck, keep at it!

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Stoller is on the left in any relevant sense? Assuming facts not in evidence.

    • Murc says:

      I’ve always sort of gotten the impression that Scott would like the left to get shit done, and step one in getting shit done is having an accurate read on the situation. Correcting those whom he perceives as having an inaccurate view of things (which will lead to them being counterproductive at best) would thus be a priority.

      I’m not Scott, tho.

  14. scott says:

    Just curious: when will it be OK to argue for more than what the administration is doing on jobs, heath care, the environment, financial reform? After the election, when the specter of the dread Romney is past? When? I’ve been listening to these debates within the Dem/prog/lib fold for almost 30 years, and the refrain always seems to come down to settling for whatever the Dem politicians of the moment deem eacceptable/expedient/not too difficult to achieve, with heavy helpings of The Other Side Is Worse! or We Couldn’t Do Better! If Stoller, the strawman of the moment, doesn’t offer an acceptable way forward, then what does? 30 years ago, accepting 8+% unemployment in perpetuity and calmly discussing cuts in Medicare and Social Security as part of a Grand Bargain would have been anathema, but not now. The status quo doesn’t seem very attractive to me or lots of other people, and shooting down Stoller may be easy, but what’s your solution to a political class that’s in love with Austerity Now?

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      I wish I had one. Most of the Austerity Now folks are pretty much immune to the effects of it. Although I think we’re in similar positions in our dismay as to the rightward shift in this country, I still cling to hope that my, and others, children and grandchildren will be better, more generous, more humane people than many of the ones from my generation.

      • Although I think we’re in similar positions in our dismay as to the rightward shift in this country, …

        You need to clarify that. The political system is in a rightward drift. The people in this country aren’t, despite the outrage of the Teahadist idiots.

    • Cody says:

      I don’t think there is ever anything wrong with criticizing the administration.

      I think what Erik is against here is saying that Romney and Obama are the same, and arguing against voting for Obama.

      If you want to vote for the most Progressive Presidential candidate you can, then go ahead! I bet you’re going to find that’s Obama though. Is he very Progressive? No.

      Is he the best we can vote for? Yes.

      Should you force your local politicians into being more Progressive? That would be great!

      You can criticize and recommend all you want, but to pretend that it doesn’t matter if Romney or Obama is elected is just useless showmanship.

      • rea says:

        And of course, you have people like Stoller, the original object of this post, who is claiming that Romney would likely be a more progressive president than Obama.

      • fledermaus says:

        Actually there will be many choices on the ballot besides Romney and Obama. But the moment one brings that up a chorus of “no one cares about your loser 3rd parties, suck eggs you crazy person”

        This lasts until the election is actually upon us, then 3rd party voters are history’s greatest monsters out to inflict doom on this hapless nation.

        • John says:

          No one cares about your loser 3rd parties, suck eggs you crazy person.

          No, seriously, how is voting for the Green Party candidate any different from just leaving the presidential ballot blank? In a first past the post system, it is completely pointless to vote for a candidate who has no chance of winning.

        • Go vote for a third party, and convince every other loser willing to put up with your stench to do the same.

          I slam people like you because I find you irritating. 2000 was a black swan event. In reality, you are utterly and completely irrelevant. I would trade the votes of every single person you have ever passed a joint to for 1/1000 of 1% of the moderate voters in North Carolina.

          I hope I make myself clear.

          • firefall says:

            I would trade the votes of every single person you have ever passed a joint to for 1/1000 of 1% of the moderate voters in North Carolina.

            That would be April – and I’m not sure she’s got any use for all those votes, but go ahead and try.

          • fledermaus says:

            You go ahead and keep up the sneering insults of the 43% of people who don’t cast votes in 2008. I sure that’s going to convince them.

            • (the other) Davis says:

              You really think all those folks didn’t vote because they prefer third parties? Believe what you have to so you can feel better about your choices, I guess.

              • djw says:

                A lot of liberals, progressives, and leftists are secretly or openly sympathetic to parlimentary government rather than the current system.

                Some of us aren’t even partic

              • wfp says:

                I doubt those people are waiting for the one true party but there are millions of dissatisfied people who do not vote. According to Pew, they are younger, poorer, less educated, more Hispanic and less Republican than the adult population. Liberals should be concerned about helping out that segment whether they can be incorporate into the coalition or not.

                • (the other) Davis says:

                  I doubt those people are waiting for the one true party but there are millions of dissatisfied people who do not vote.

                  Absolutely — I don’t dispute this. But I have to object to fledermaus’s suggestion that sneering at third-party boosters is equivalent to sneering at non-voters. There are all sorts of reasons people don’t vote: successful vote suppression efforts, a feeling that an individual vote isn’t important in the scheme of things, the inconvenience of voting, etc.

                  Simply put, I think it’s safe to sneer at third-party supporters without offending many non-voters.

    • Tom Hilton says:

      Just curious: when will it be OK to argue for more than what the administration is doing on jobs, heath care, the environment, financial reform?

      Classic purity troll false dichotomy: the alternative to giving up on electoral politics altogether is giving up on advocacy altogether. If you aren’t rejecting the Democrats outright, you can’t be arguing for the Democrats to do better.

      Um…no. Sorry, but no.

    • Dave says:

      I really don’t understand why voting for Obama over Romney involves putting aside one’s opinions on what a better hypothetical choice would be. But since that better choice is only hypothetical – and is likely to remain so as long as the strongest wave of action in its favour remains bitching on the internet – you can either vote Obama, or go shit in a pot.

    • Emma says:

      Well, you could do it right now. There are people doing that right now. Some of them even spoke at the Convention.

      It isn’t either/or, you know. I can vote for Obama and still work to change the direction his administration has been taking on a number of issues. The thing many people here with much better academic credentials than mine have pointed out, is that far left movements advocating direct action haven’t accomplished one hell of a lot in America. The greater part of change has been accomplished by people who pushed steadily, taking what they could get, and then using that to get more.

    • Lan says:

      Whenever the 2016 primary race starts up, so sometime in 2015? Hell that will probably be the framing for most of the Dem candidates: Obama did a good job, but there is so much more we can do, etc.

      Or if you’re really impatient you can work on regaining Dem control of Congress, that would be productive.

    • Go ahead and argue for your policy position all you want right now.

      Try not to be so stupid and dishonest that you push conspiracy theories about Barack Obama being a sellout have even the slightest connection to doing.

      I want single payer, too. Wanna have a lengthy discussion about its merits? Or is that too boring?

    • JL says:

      Just curious: when will it be OK to argue for more than what the administration is doing on jobs, heath care, the environment, financial reform?

      Pretty sure this blog does that regularly. In fact, the reason I got hooked on LGM in the first place was because of the balance between pragmatism re: Obama (supporting him in the election, defending him when he actually couldn’t do much of anything about something), and calling out his bad stuff/promoting more leftist ideals and policies.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Just curious: when will it be OK to argue for more than what the administration is doing on jobs, heath care, the environment, financial reform?

      Anytime. Who says otherwise?

      • Operation Youppi says:

        Goddamn Obama and those feckless Dems.
        They should be doing more on jobs, health care, the environment and financial reform.

        As part of extending the Dream Act, the president should also propose deporting Canadiens at a 1:10 ratio for all those Latino kids put on a path to citizenship.

  15. Sly says:

    Just curious: when will it be OK to argue for more than what the administration is doing on jobs, heath care, the environment, financial reform?

    When the argument isn’t obnoxiously ignorant and/or made in bad faith.

  16. Dave says:

    Hey, this post was about something. Nice one.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      I’m very proud, especially since you have yet to make a comment here that makes your standard. Although your theory that Newark being slightly less unpleasant than Camden could explain students at the former having twice the debt was fascinating!

  17. grouchomarxist says:

    Both sides are the same, in that their leadership is apparently convinced that the 99% must eat a shit sandwich. The main difference is that the Republican elites want that fecalburger garnished with broken glass, while the Democrats will insist on a tiny dab of ketchup and a micromillimeter-thin sliver of pickle — both of which are, of course, negotiable, in the interests of bipartisanship.

    I think we all recognize that our institutions haven’t just failed us, but are frog-marching us to a new Dark Ages and possibly the irreversible wreck of the only self-sustaining life support system for light-years around. A crisis of this magnitude isn’t going to be solved by technocratic fiddling at the margins.

    The problem with realists is that they consistently underestimate what is possible, while the idealist over-estimates.

  18. [...] was reading a post by Scott Lemieux at LGM about the “Obamney” garbage being peddled by some, and I was reminded of the (I believe his) Green Lantern theory of Presidential Power (hereafter [...]

  19. [...] Wherever we eff at each other, thunderpants and I get into it; invariably he unleashes a laundry list of transgressions of Obama and the Democrats.  And the inevitable link to Matt Stoller. [...]

  20. [...] == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}As a bookend to Salon inexplicably publishing a ridiculous argument asserting that Mitt Romney is a harmless moderate who if anything is more liberal than Barack [...]

  21. [...] this kind of logic baffling, although if you’re a vanishing breed of moderate Republican (or particularly clueless postNaderite dead-ender) I suppose you have no choice but to try to convince yourself: David Brooks blames the Romney 47% [...]

  22. [...] citizens in exchange for no actual benefits — is frankly appalling. Erik made this point and I have discussed it recently at great length, so I won’t reiterate the whole argument. But I will make a couple of additional [...]

  23. [...] stem from it representing too much government intervention into health care. I mean, she joins Matt Stoller and the Republicans on the NYT op-ed page as the only people in the world deluded enough to think [...]

  24. [...] election can be supported only on “heighten-the-contradictions” grounds I consider grotesquely immoral.    But to an (admittedly bleeding-heart) libertarian like Jacob Levy or a left-communitarian [...]

  25. [...] His latest ridiculous argument in favor of throwing the election to Romney has all of the same transparent defects as his previous ones, the most notable being a lack of an argument for how throwing the election to someone who is far [...]

  26. [...] to do with their vote is to advance progressive values. Obama and Axelrod (and, it must be said, most people urging people to support third parties) will be fine if Republicans win — but nobody actually thinks this [...]

  27. [...] more charitable to conservative Republicans than to moderately liberal Democrats, and this segment is the almost exclusive province of the privileged. But there are certainly other reasons for what I consider excessive optimism about the Paul [...]

  28. [...] it further to the states, and enacting Paul Ryan’s proposal to end Medicare. Would any of the nominally left critics of the ACA be saying that Obama’s proposed changes were no big deal because they’re fundamentally [...]

  29. [...] comprehensive reform, he made European-style health care reform even more difficult. Now, like most heighten-the-contradictions arguments to claim that LBJ should have forsaken Medicare out of hope that it might make Medicare-for-all [...]

  30. After checking out a few of the blog articles on your website, I seriously like your technique of writing a blog.
    I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back
    in the near future. Please check out my website too and tell me how you feel.

  31. […] there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Sonia Sotomayor and Sam Alito and that John McCain totally would have signed the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Matt Stoller. Right, Rand Paul isn’t a self-aggrandizing blowhard but a Machiavellian […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.