Friday, February 13, 2009

This Country Must Rise Up And Get Over Its Complacent Collaborating Comfortable Closet Centerism!

This Country Must Rise Up And Get Over Its Complacent Collaborating Comfortable Closet Centerism!


“…But I think the main reason that Obama is having trouble is that there is not a popular left movement that is agitating for him to go well beyond where he would even ideally like to go. Sure, there are leftwing intellectuals like Paul Krugman who are beating the drums for nationalizing the banks and for a $1 trillion-plus stimulus.


But I am not referring to intellectuals, but to movements that stir up trouble among voters and get people really angry. Instead, what exists of a popular left is either incapable of action or in Obama's pocket…”


Progressives have become Closet Centerists! (Ed.)


"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then,
to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in
broad daylight!"

- Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) –

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude
than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask
not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed
May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget
that ye were our countrymen!”

-Sam Adams-




A Truth Commission to Investigate Bush-Cheney Administration Abuses


I have set up a petition at, and I hope you will sign it to urge Congress to consider establishing a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the Bush-Cheney administration's abuses. We already have over 7,000 signatures, but we need to hit 10,000 signatures -- or more -- by next week, to build momentum behind this idea.

Patrick Leahy

U.S. Senator


Indict Bush

Camus Cafe Political Coffee House: Leahy Opens Petition Drive to ...
By Ed. Dickau 
EdDickau, Thank you for signing my petition at, urging Congress to consider the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate Bush-Cheney Administration abuses. ...
Camus Cafe Political Coffee House -


Walter Jones, GOP Congressman, Signs On To Investigating Bush
By The Huffington Post News Team 
Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, has signed on as a co-sponsor of legislation introduced by House 
Judiciary Chair John Conyers to establish "a national commission on presidential war powers and civil liberties." A self-described conservative who brought ... So while it is surprising to see an elected Republican official endorse the establishment of an investigatory committee to probe the Bush years, it is slightly less surprising that that official is Jones. ...
Huffpolitics on The Huffington Post -



Glenn Greenwald

Obama and liberals: a counter-productive relationship


The New Republic's John Judis today has an excellent analysis of the politics behind the stimulus package -- one which applies equally to most other political controversies.  Judis argues that the stimulus package ended up being far inferior to what it could have been and points to this reason why that happened:


But I think the main reason that Obama is having trouble is that there is not a popular left movement that is agitating for him to go well beyond where he would even ideally like to go. Sure, there are leftwing intellectuals like Paul Krugman who are beating the drums for nationalizing the banks and for a $1 trillion-plus stimulus. But I am not referring to intellectuals, but to movements that stir up trouble among voters and get people really angry. Instead, what exists of a popular left is either incapable of action or in Obama's pocket. . .


A member of one liberal group, Campaign for America's Future, pronounced the stimulus bill "a darn good first step." MoveOn -- as far as I can tell -- has attacked conservative Republicans for opposing the bill, while lamely urging Democrats to back it. Of course, all these groups may have thought the stimulus bill and the bailout were ideal, but I doubt it. I bet they had the same criticisms of these measures that Krugman or The American Prospect's Ezra Klein or my own colleagues had, but they made the mistake that political groups often make:  subordinating their concern about issues to their support for the party and its leading politician.


By extremely stark contrast, Paul Krugman today explains why Republicans are so unified in their opposition to this bill and their willingness:


One might have expected Republicans to act at least slightly chastened in these early days of the Obama administration, given both their drubbing in the last two elections and the economic debacle of the past eight years. But it’s now clear that the party’s commitment to deep voodoo — enforced, in part, by pressure groups that stand ready to run primary challengers against heretics — is as strong as ever.


[As an ancillary matter:  though I agree with Krugman's principal point, I dislike his use of the word "heretics" here. It invokes one of the worst myths in our political discourse:  the idea that there's something wrong, intolerant or "Stalinist" about pressuring or even campaigning against incumbents "from one's own party" who advocate positions that you think are bad and wrong.  That activity happens to be the essence of democracy, and we need more, not less, of it.  If anything is Stalinist, it's the sky-high incumbent re-election rates and the sense of entitlement in our political class that incumbents should not ever face primary challenges even if they support policies which the base of the party reviles.  Why shouldn't GOP voters who love tax cuts and hate government domestic spending, regardless of whether they're right or wrong, demand that their elected representatives support those views (in exactly the same way that Democratic incumbents who supported the Iraq war and/or Bush's lawless surveillance state should have been targeted for defeat)?]


But Krugman's larger point is correct:  Republican groups demand from politicians support for their beliefs.  By contrast, as Judis describes, Democratic groups -- including (perhaps especially) liberal activist groups -- now (with some exceptions) lend their allegiance to the party and its leader regardless of how faithful the party leadership is to their beliefs.  That disparity means that there is often great popular agitation and political pressure exerted from the Right, but almost none from the Left (I'm using the terms "Left" and "Right" here in their conventional sense:  "Right"  being the core of the GOP and "Left" being those who most consistently and vigorously opposed Bush's foreign and domestic policies). 


During the 2008 election, Obama co-opted huge portions of the Left and its infrastructure so that their allegiance became devoted to him and not to any ideas.  Many online political and "news" outlets -- including some liberal political blogs -- discovered that the most reliable way to massively increase traffic was to capitalize on the pro-Obama fervor by turning themselves into pro-Obama cheerleading squads.  Grass-roots activist groups watched their dues-paying membership rolls explode the more they tapped into that same sentiment and turned themselves into Obama-supporting appendages.  Even labor unions and long-standing Beltway advocacy groups reaped substantial benefits by identifying themselves as loyal foot soldiers in the Obama movement.


The major problem now is that these entities -- the ones that ought to be applying pressure on Obama from the Left and opposing him when he moves too far Right -- are now completely boxed in.  They've lost -- or, more accurately, voluntarily relinquished -- their independence.  They know that criticizing -- let alone opposing -- Obama will mean that all those new readers they won last year will leave; that all those new dues-paying members will go join some other, more Obama-supportive organization; that they will prompt intense backlash and anger among the very people -- their members, supporters and readers -- on whom they have come to rely as the source of their support, strength, and numbers. 


As a result, there is very little political or media structure to Obama's Left that can or will criticize him, even when he moves far to what the Beltway calls the "center" or even the Right (i.e., when he adopts large chunks of the GOP position).  That situation is extremely bad -- both for the Left and for Obama.  It makes impossible what very well might be the apocryphal though still illuminating FDR anecdote:


FDR was, of course, a consummate political leader. In one situation, a group came to him urging specific actions in support of a cause in which they deeply believed. He replied: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it."


As Judis points out, Obama, on some issues, might move to the Right because he wants to.  In other cases, he will do so because he perceives that he has to, because the combination of the GOP/Blue-Dog-following-caucus/Beltway-media-mob might force him to.  Regardless of Obama's motives, the lack of a meaningful, potent movement on the Left to oppose that behavior ensures that it will continue without any resistance.  The lack of any independent political pressure from the Left ensures that Obama will be either content to ignore their views or will be forced to do so even when he doesn't want to.


Prioritizing political allegiance to their leader was exactly the mistake the Right made for the first several years of the Bush presidency.  Even Bill Kristol admitted in The New York Times:  "Bush was the movement and the cause."  An entire creepy cottage industry arose on the Right devoted to venerating George W. Bush.  And it wasn't until well into his second term, when his popularity had already collapsed, that they began opposing him in a few isolated cases when he deviated from their beliefs -- on immigration reform, the Harriet Miers nomination, Dubai ports, the TARP bailout and the like.  But, by then, it was too late:  Bush became synonymous with "conservatism" because the latter wasn't really about anything other than supporting the President no matter what he did.  The ideological movement and their political leader had merged, and it was destructive for both of them.


Part of the political shrewdness of Obama has been that he's been able to actually convince huge numbers of liberals that it's a good thing when he ignores and even stomps on their political ideals, that it's something they should celebrate and even be grateful for.  Hordes of Obama-loving liberals are still marching around paying homage to the empty mantras of "pragmatism" and "post-partisan harmony" -- the terms used to justify and even glorify Obama's repudiation of their own political values.  Talk Left's Armandodescribed the oddness of this mentality:


As I wrote earlier in a comment, "up yours" to the ACLU used to be known as "triangulation" when a certain William Jefferson Clinton did it. Today it is known as "11 dimensional chess." Another episode today demonstrates the transformation of "triangulation" into "11 dimensional chess:"


Sen. Tom Harkin, a liberal Democrat from Iowa, said fellow Democrats had surrendered too much in a bid to appease three moderate Republicans who can ensure passage in the Senate.


"I think our side gave in too much in order to appease a few people," he said in a hallway interview in the Capitol earlier on Wednesday. He said Democrats should have dared Republicans to filibuster and "see what the public outcry" would have been. "I think the people are getting shortchanged."


Imagine if Bill Clinton had capitulated like this to a Republican Congress in 1995? Or said "up yours" to the ACLU the way Obama did? Do you think the cries of "sellout" would be hard to find today? Me neither.


Political ideas and values that have no meaningful pressure being exerted on their behalf will always be those that are most ignored.  That's just the most basic rule of politics.  Last year, Accountability Now was created to provide exactly that pushback against political incumbents, and there will be a major announcement very soon along with its formal launch (an Executive Director has been hired and much of the infrastructure has been created and the groundwork laid).  For the moment, on one issue after the next, one can vividly observe the harm that comes from a political faction being beholden to a leader rather than to any actual ideas or political principles.


UPDATE:  Greg Sargent obtains a letter today from the Obama DOD regarding conditions at Guantanamo which nicely illustrates the need for ongoing, constant pressure on the administration --here.


And Matt Yglesias identifies another harm from having liberals defining themselves by "whatever Obama supports":


If you succeed in muting all your critics to the left, all you do is create a situation where your program is defined in the press and the congress and the public imagination as the most-leftwing-possible proposal. And the furthest-left proposal can’t possibly win. It’s never helpful to have fratricidal warfare and battles to the death, but it’s necessary for there to be meaningful pressure to do more than is popular or possible or even necessary in order to lay the groundwork for accomplishing anything.


I wouldn't quite put it this way, because I don't believe that anyone should be advocating for positions to the Left of Obama simply as a tactic to make Obama's policies seem more centrist and therefore more likely to be accepted.  But his general point is still true:  criticizing Obama from the Left (as, say, Paul Krugman has been doing in the stimulus debate) expands the scope of the debate in a very important way that can only advance the Left's political goals and, incidentally, enable/force Obama to avoid the Center and Right.


Conservative solutions to a radical crisis  (Video)

Kuttner: Obama's problem is his economic appointees are averse to radical solutions to a radical crisis


Barack and the progressives Pt3 (Video)

Katrina vanden Heuvel on Obama and change for whom?


Taxpayers on hook for 250 billion toxic assets (Video)

Rep. Grayson Grills Citigroup CEO in Congress


Stimulus could save or create 133000 Ohio jobs - Openers ...
By Stephen Koff, Sabrina Eaton and Mark Naymik... 
Washington -- Details were scarce on how much relief this week's landmark economic stimulus package will give to Ohioans and state government, but the White House and
 congressionalDemocrats estimated Thursday it will save or create ...
Openers - -


Large U.S. Banks on Edge of Insolvency, May Ask for More Aid, Experts Say

Some of the large banks in the United States, according to economists and other finance experts, are like dead men walking. A sober assessment of the growing mountain of losses from bad bets, measured in today's marketplace, would overwhelm the value of the banks' assets, they say. The banks, in their view, are insolvent. The Treasury program leans heavily on a sketchy public-private investment fund to buy up the troubled mortgage-backed securities held by the banks. Instead, the experts say, the government needs to plunge in, weed out the weakest banks, pour capital into the surviving banks and sell off the bad assets. (


Reassessing the International Criminal Court: Ten Years Past Rome     

The Century Foundation and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung 
1/13/2009  8:00 a.m. 
1333 H Street N.W, Washington, D.C. the Transcript. 
Download David Scheffer and John Hutson's report.

Tristero wants the Left to attack BlueDogs | Corrente
By bringiton 
He isn’t up for 
election for a long time, and Progressives do not control either chamber of Congress or enough money to matter. The only place we have leverage that will work is with the BlueDogs, and if we get them through fear we get Obama too. ... They certainly didn’t appear during the primary when people like Kucinich and even the quasi-Populist Edwards never got any traction, precisely because theyhad no substantive following. ...
Corrente -


‘Having a debate’ doesn’t mean ‘making stuff up’ - Political ...
By Josh Richman 
But what’s coming out of House Majority Leader John Boehner’s office and the National Republican
Congressional Committee doesn’t seem to signify a clash of ideologies – it seems more like a clash of their claims with reality. ... will be available to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), an organization accused of perpetrating voter registration fraud numerous times in the last several elections and reportedly under federal investigation.” ...
Political Blotter -


The Ultra-Radical Republicans
TV talking heads treat the Republican over-use of the filibuster as the natural way of things, but it is really a radical deviation from the way American democracy has worked, writes Robert Parry. February 13, 2009


Conyers Subpoenas Rove, Again
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has set a deadline of Feb. 23 for ex-White House aide Karl Rove to testify about the firing of nine federal prosecutors, Jason Leopold reports. February 13, 2009


New Details on Torture Deaths
The Pentagon released documents on how several prisoners in Afghanistan died under brutal interrogation as the Bush administration was toughening its methods in 2002, reports Jason Leopold. February 12, 2009


First, Jail All Bush's Lawyers
Attorney General Eric Holder might start fulfilling his pledge to "support and defend the Constitution" by squeezing George W. Bush's lawyers who justified torture and other crimes, writes Robert Parry. February 3, 2009


Human Rights Watch Goes to War
Monthly Review - Herndon,VA,USA
Primary issues such as the legality of Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or its settlement enterprise in the occupied territories were ...See all stories on this topic


Wash. Times invokes Nazism, publishes Hitler photo while criticizing health-care provisions in stimulus


A February 11 Washington Times editorial -- also published on the paper's website alongside a photo of Adolf Hitler -- compared the "spirit of the partisans of efficiency" who support a provisionin the economic recovery bill that would attempt to improve "efficiency" of health-care delivery by providing for electronic medical records to the "Nazi version of efficiency" in which "elderly people with incurable diseases, young children who were critically disabled, and others who were deemed non-productive, were euthanized." The Times' comparison was based on a false interpretation of the health-care provisions in the recovery bill, claiming that it provided for the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology to "monitor[] the health care being provided to every American" and that it the bill "appears to institutionalize ... a body free of political influence to make the hard choices regarding how these efficiencies will be realized -- what care will be limited, and who will be denied what services."


In fact, the provision in the House bill regarding the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology does not mandate that the federal government monitor, control, or interfere with doctors' treatment decisions. Instead, the provision addresses establishing "a nationwide health information technology infrastructure that allows for the electronic use and exchange of information" in order to create "an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014," thereby reducing "health care costs resulting from inefficiency, medical errors, inappropriate care, duplicative care, and incomplete information" and providing "appropriate information to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care." The provision also establishes two committees, neither of which is tasked to "make the hard choices" regarding "what care will be limited, and who will be denied what services." Instead, the provision establishes an "HIT Policy Committee" to "make policy recommendations to the National Coordinator relating to the implementation of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure" and an "HIT Standards Committee" to "recommend to the National Coordinator standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for the electronic exchange and use of health information."


A provision in the bill regarding a Comparative Effectiveness Research program similarly does not involve a government body determining "what care will be limited, and who will be denied what services." The House Discussion Draft says of the provision: "By knowing what works best and presenting this information more broadly to patients and healthcare professionals, those items, procedures, and interventions that are most effective to prevent, control, and treat health conditions will be utilized, while those that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed." Similarly, the corresponding section of the bill as passed by the House does not provide that the government can intervene in doctors' treatment decisions.


Media Matters for America has repeatedly rebutted similar false media assertions about the health IT provision based on a distortion of the economic recovery bill that originated in a February 9 Bloomberg "commentary" by former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, as well assimilar misrepresentations regarding the Comparative Effectiveness Research program.


The Times suggested that the "efficiencies" embodied in the bill's provisions are comparable to the "Nazi version of efficiency." The Times asserted that a quote it attributed to "a program instituted in Hitler's Germany called Aktion T-4" is "fully in the spirit of the partisans of efficiency." The quote as the Times provided it read: "It must be made clear to anyone suffering from an incurable disease that the useless dissipation of costly medications drawn from the public store cannot be justified." The Times then explained that, under Aktion T-4, "elderly people with incurable diseases, young children who were critically disabled, and others who were deemed non-productive, were euthanized."


Adjacent to the editorial on its website, the Times posted an "Undated File Photo of Adolf Hitler." From the website as of 3:30 p.m. ET February 12:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Fair Use Notice: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.