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  • Kelly, you don’t want to hear.

    So why ask me to speak?

    If you really care about turning FDL into a functioning movement, you’ll take the issue of how members treat one another as one of the very most important there is. It’s called solidarity, and its probably the single most important indicator of whether movements stand or fail.

  • Oh, c’mon Kelly.

    I can name a half dozen movements that have collapsed or gone into serious decline just in the last 35 years. They range from the anti-war movement to various ethnic movements to the union and environmental movements.

    Let’s pick one of those, the movement for equality in the African American community. There were always strains between the black nationalist wing and King’s movement. But after King’s assassination, the radicals fragmented the broader movement by imposing impossible demands. There was, as I termed it, a directionless anger that emerged not just in riots that burned down the neighborhoods people were living in, but also in senseless antagonisms of Anglo and Chicano allies.

    How do I measure this directionless anger on FDL? By so many nasty exchanges on this site, accusations by members against members of being “willfully stupid,” “concern trolls,” and so on. By the enmity declared against Daily Kos. By one particularly virulent post on this thread by a member who has advocated violence in other posts. Those all represent self-destructive tendencies within this movement.

    I am delighted that people are volunteering for FDL.

    Personally, I’ve been putting in several hours a day, and as much money as I could spare ever since I realized that the nation was heading into deep waters. That was October, 1994.

    As I recall, FDL wasn’t around then.

    I helped to create some of the first political mailing lists on right-wing extremism and helped to pioneer online political discussions of the kind FDL holds for books. When 9/11 happened, I wrote two articles that helped many people not let themselves get pushed into a blind response. You can still read them here and here, if you care to. I think they were remarkably prescient, considering that they were written as the World Trade Center was still smoldering. These are just a few of the things I have done.

    So, please don’t tell me what you can do. Show me.

  • Btcaltech, the fact is that Obama proposed more stimulus that the Congress passed. The fact is that Obama deliberately left in a loophole that Vermont is exploiting to try to create a single payer system.

    Either refute those facts or apply the “sillyness” comment to yourself. Calling names is not discussion.

  • Nor should anyone stop being critical whenever they feel like it, papau.

    I just see the mood at FDL, and I recognize it as the kind of mood that precedes the collapse of a movement. It’s a directionless anger that vents itself against almost randomly against anyone who isn’t in lockstep.

    This kind of anger is not a good long-term basis for a movement. It either exhausts or corrupts the movement. Progressives with any sense of history know that this fight has gone on for decades, for centuries. Even if we fail and the legacy of the New Deal is destroyed, it will be back, because caring for one another is the right thing.

    On substance, it’s not quite fair to call Obama’s health plan “a Republican plan.” It’s what Mitt Romney passed in Massachusetts. If he had proposed what he’s running on (Make health care more like a market and less like a government program, Reform the broken medical liability system, federal regulation of health care should be limited and focused), the Legislature would have laughed him off.

    BTW, your criticism that my paraphrase of Republican policy is simplistic is a fair criticism. But my posts are too long anyway, and these are positions you would hear at many Republican leadership gatherings or on the 700 Club.

  • Obama has vacillated enough that one can argue that there’s not much common ground between Obama and progressives, papau. But one can make the case that there’s something like, say, a 2/3rds overlap between what Obama wants and what progressives want.

    First, let’s set aside the current negotiations for which we don’t have the details. (For example, did Obama propose cutting Medicare benefits to the top 5% and not for anyone else or did he propose an across-the-board cut? I don’t know, and it would make such a big difference on how I rate him that I’d rather not jump to conclusions just yet).

    But here are two areas of common ground:

    Obama: health care should be (nearly) universal and affordable, covering people who work, the elderly, children, and the disabled.
    Progressives: yes, but it should also cover those who don’t work, and it should have cost control through single payer.
    Republicans: Anyone who can afford healthcare should be able to buy it. Anyone who can’t buy it should get charitable assistance, not help from the government.

    Obama: Government spending does employ people, but should only be used sparingly, as a last resort as a means to protect the broader economy. Useful areas of government spending are research, frontier technologies (eg green jobs), and infrastructure, i.e. areas where markets don’t function, and middle class tax cuts/rebates.
    Progressives: Government spending employs people and should be used for that purpose and on large scale. Research, frontier technologies, and infrastructure are fine, but government should also reach into the inner cities and employ people simply to give them hope and skills and otherwise use stimulus directed at the consumer economy.
    Republicans: Government employment produces no or negative economic growth and should only be used for defense, law enforcement, and corporate subsidies.

    In those two areas, there’s strong overlap between progressives and Obama, and almost zero overlap between Obama and Republicans.

    There are lots of areas where Obama has bought Republican policies hook, line, and sinker. The idea that war is a tactic suitable to fight terrorism, for example is an incredibly stupid one. But there are a number of areas where progressives, frustrated by what he failed to do, don’t recognize that his policies are closely in common with what they want.

    If we had a Democratic Congress now, for example, they could easily tack on a public option that would make the Obama plan genuinely progressive. They could add stimulus to the stimulus that he did provide. It’s unlikely that he would object, since in fact he helped leave the loophole that Vermont is now using to try to make healthcare single payer in their state. He also proposed more stimulus than the Congress enacted.

    There are some areas of common ground.

  • Jane, this is a false accusation, and I resent it.

    A conversation consists both of content and context.

    My full comment was, “The right really runs on hate, doesn’t it?

    What you saw was the right-wing grassroots trashing McConnell. But there was no public fight within the grassroots.

    That’s what I am talking about when I caution about fights within the left. Firebaggers vs. Great Orange Satan is a very bad idea. As for Obama, he’s a big boy. If you want to trash him, go ahead. I guess I figured him out so long ago that I don’t get excited any more.

    Your complaint is that I interpret speakingupnow’s comment “The problem is that there are people who call themselves “progressive” who have embraced the neo-liberal agenda of the President which is not remotely progressive “as referring to “…fights within the left. Firebaggers vs. Great Orange Satan…”

    In context, it certainly sounds like an attack on DailyKos as being all neo-liberal toadies to Obama. There have been some stupid, petty, self-destructive quarrels between the two sites lately, so forgive me if I was mistaken in thinking this was another one.

  • CharlesII commented on the blog post Norway Terror Reveals Disturbing Assumptions About Muslims

    2011-07-23 15:35:12View | Delete

    Not only does Breivik like Pam “Atlas Jugs” Geller, Geller likes him.

    Engines to Warped 9

    Be sure to read the comments.

  • Tanbark, you’re wrong. I could find a number more if I wanted to take the time. I have scrolled past a number of comments I am embarrassed to be on the same website as.

    If you have your eyes closed, then there’s nothing more that I can do for you.

  • OFG, obviously you missed some key element of the conversation you are commenting on. I called it a “purity test” because speakingupnow called every person who posts on Daily Kos a neoliberal.

    This is what the John Cleese skit is about.

  • Name calling is not the problem, PW. As I posted to tanbark, comment #209 here falls out of bounds.

    All of us are worried about where Obama is taking America with this undercutting of the social contract and the half-hearted fulfillment of his pledges on health care, torture, etc. I think a lot of the anger is a consequence of that worry. I don’t condemn it out of hand. But.

    But, there are people on the left who think that anger is good and healthy. Maybe when it’s brief, but chronic anger is a drug. Read Free Republic or listen to Rush Limbaugh to see what people who abuse that drug sound like. See what’s happened in Oslo to see where it eventually leads.

    I don’t want the left to become like that. So, there’s no equivalence being drawn between nasty comments on FDL and the murder of almost 100 people. Just a recognition that the first step along the road to Oslo began with anger.

  • May I suggest that you read comment #209 here?

    Most of the vitriol against politicians at FDL falls fair. Some does not.

  • Ah, yes. Purity tests. No one is pure except me and thee, and I have my doubts about thee.

    Look, if Jane can team up with Grover Norquist on certain issues, Firebaggers can work with Orange Satans on others. You don’t have to like people to work with them.

  • Everyone has to do according to his/her conscience, greenbell. I didn’t knock doors (or do anything else for Obama) in 2008, and I don’t at the moment see why I would change that this election.

    But as screwed up as the Democratic Party is–and always has been–there are always some good people in it, some muffled voices urging that we do something better.

    For decades and centuries, it has been those muffled voices that made the difference between muddling through and not.

  • The right really runs on hate, doesn’t it?

    What you saw was the right-wing grassroots trashing McConnell. But there was no public fight within the grassroots.

    That’s what I am talking about when I caution about fights within the left. Firebaggers vs. Great Orange Satan is a very bad idea. As for Obama, he’s a big boy. If you want to trash him, go ahead. I guess I figured him out so long ago that I don’t get excited any more.

  • To be even more clear than I have been: I am not saying that anyone should “bridge the divide” (whatever that means) with those who are willing to cut Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. People should always feel free to vote for whoever they like, and that includes the people who voted–in my opinion very stupidly–for Nader in 2000. If people don’t want to vote for Obama no matter who is running, that’s their right.

    But I get the sense that not many people understand exactly how difficult change is. Running a presidential campaign is a very, very, very big deal. Name recognition alone is very expensive. Getting an independent on the ballot? Almost impossible. A Green, maybe, since they already have ballot access in many states. But even so, such a candidate might well be running a campaign in only part of the country, and would have to reach the people who are least well connected to the Internet–the poor, the elderly, and so on– to have a chance.

    There are plenty of good people to support. Norman Solomon is one example. Bernie Sanders will have a more expensive race than usual. In deciding what I am going to do, I start from where I think I can be of most help. Helping or hindering Obama is just not that important.

    Now, if Howard Dean could be persuaded to challenge Obama, that would be different. He does have name recognition, some familiarity with the presidential process, and a progressive record. But Alan Grayson? He’s a wonderful advocate for progressive causes, but would face hopeless obstacles to getting elected.

  • I do agree that if conflict is over ideas rather than personalities, it’s less bitter and divisive. But even conflict over ideas can be destructive.

    Maybe I should be explicit in an example. Theocrats believe in restricting choice on issues (like abortion) through government intervention. They believe in forced school prayer, no rights for gays, and lots of other issues.

    Libertarians believe in allowing unregulated choice on abortion, prayer, sexuality, etc. The ideas are completely incompatible. One side or the other will win. They often hate each other with a passion that one rarely sees on the left. But they work together on issues they agree on. And they rarely if ever fight publicly.

  • Kelly, that’s a good point on how Bachmann and Palin are being taken down by forces inside the GOP.

    But notice how quietly they’re doing it. Go over to Free Republic and you won’t find any identifiable pawn of Karl Rove trashing Bachmann or Palin. And when they’re done taking her down in favor of Rick Perry or Mitt Romney or whoever the establishment decides is going to be the nominee, they’ll make sure that both of them get book deals and TV gigs to keep them happy.

    The left instead gets into public purity frenzies, and fragments itself. This is why ideas which a majority of the public supports end up getting minority representation.

  • BFL, disasters come in large, extra large, and gigantic.

    I have been critical of Obama since before he was elected.

    But a deeply divided left with him or a Republican in charge is even worse, because then there’s not even the possibility of fighting back.

  • Econobuzz says, “[Public fights between progressive groups are inevitable] where basic principles are involved.

    Actually, they’re not inevitable. As one can see on the right, extreme libertarians and extreme theocrats coexist peacefully as long as they believe there is something more important at stake. It doesn’t mean they don’t fight. It certainly doesn’t mean they like one another. But when they fight, they usually do it privately.

    Public criticism of Obama, even harsh criticism, is appropriate and necessary over bedrock issues like Social Security/Medicare, torture, and more. If people want to vow not to vote for him even before finding out who the Republican nominee is, well, that’s certainly their right.

    But Jane knows what I am talking about when I speak of public conflicts between progressive groups. We do not want to end up as a John Cleese skit.

  • Jane, maybe some people believe in doing things a little more quietly?

    Anger works when one needs to mobilize short-term. Pledges and statements can help to serve as a kind of historical memory.

    But lasting change often occurs invisibly. Don’t imagine that because people are not rioting in the streets that they haven’t taken notice. What matters is if the people they talk to out of concern sound like a reasonable alternative.

    Public fights between progressive groups are a sure ticket to division and disaster.

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