Thursday, July 9, 2009

The “Latte Left”: Progressives, Neo-Progressives And Centrists Rendered Useless.

The “Latte Left”: Progressives, Neo-Progressives And Centrists Rendered Useless.

The Anti-War Movement is in tatters; the Peace Movement is but a dream; The Accountability Movement is a failure; and the Progressive Movement has become the most hypocritical ego-driven of them…the playwrights of discredited political theater and fair weather Saturday theater on the mall as impactful as a Medieval dress up Jousting reenactment Festival, and much less entertaining. They are the “Latte Leftists”, polite proper observers of the system’s rules and bitchsmith, word mongering brother and sisters about its excesses…nothing more. Currently they have their panties tied in knots trying to figure out how to support Obama when they see his administration embracing the tools of the Bush Regime.

Let’s sign another petition; let’s write some letters and send faxes, let’s fill up the email boxes, let’s make another 100 phone calls; let’s commiserate with each other…enough I say!

“Latte Left Progressives” are shallow trend-suckers who confuse their personal lives and preferences with real political action. They are pragmatists when it comes to taking personal risks, idealist in words and impotent advocates in action. They are more concerned with dignified politically-correct behavior and buying the right products and the greening of the world, all admirable, but none of which is going to restore the founding principle of this nation and the balances of power essential to the integrity of this nation. They would never make it on a Teamster picket line. They have become a betrayal of America's great liberal, traditions, not to mention that they enable conservatives to paint all progressives with the same broad brush.

They are not the followers of Jefferson and Martin Luther King; they are posturing babbling Casper Milk Toasts who feel good if they sign an on line petition as opposed to facing a police line in a protest. To them a true liberal is a frightening radical. Pogo defined today’s Progressives!

The ground floor of American liberalism used to be, -- its very reason for being -- was a deep concern for everyday citizens who too often found themselves at the mercy of injustice from the powers that be. Think of the national parks system, women's right to vote, food and drug regulations, workers' right to collective bargaining, the New Deal that tempered capitalism's excesses through social programs, the '60s civil rights struggles -- all liberal causes, won when liberals stood with, and stood for, other ordinary Americans. Since then, however, liberalism has split and morphed into a variety of groups and, sadly, it's not very hard today to find the kind of liberals the Palins of the world talk about -- out of touch, snooty, and borderline hostile, if not downright contemptuous, of ordinary Americans….the “Progressive Crowd” who do in fact exude the odor of intellectual elitists who minds are filled with righteous altruist platitudes and their mouths with sound bite wordsmith chest thumping righteous indignation as they lay claim to the mantel of our forebears without the integrity and intestinal fortitude, (better known as guts), to get their hands dirty and take to the streets. They are all too reminiscent of the masters of war who sound the call and sit back as the young have always done their bidding by dying for someone else’s words. These types are never in the streets when the barricades go up. They are never there in the fog of tear gas, the smoke of burning buildings and automobiles. They are typing away while other hands hurl Molotov Cocktails in a revolt they have precipitated by their own inactions and cautions not to revolt.

It is a horrid hypocrisy! Safe selling buttons, badges and bumper stickers; safe speaking with righteous anger; they will be safe when their failures dissolve in inevitable social break down and upheaval. They reveled in the portrayal of “Chicken George” service evader. They ought to take a damn hard look at themselves. They are truly Faux Patriots. Risk is a four letter word and they “properly” disavow such language in political discourse while those they attempt to move view them with contempt and speak of them with every obscenity in the language. They are delusional and in a state of denial equaled only by the most serious death wish addicts and weak-minded enablers.

Listen to the more intent conversations at gatherings attended by progressives, or take a quick stroll through progressive-wing blogs, and you'll inevitably hear or see condemnations of "low-IQ" rural voters, the "idiots" of suburbia, the "moronic small-town mentality," or the "ignoramuses" who think, for example, that public money paid out for giant metallic bagels for the South Boulevard light rail line's public art perhaps would have been better spent on our failing public schools.

Progressives who hold such opinions have been termed "cultural liberals," or, as conservatives call them, "latte liberals," many of whose primary concerns are politically-correct behavior and buying the right products -- a Prius is morally superior to a Kia, right? -- rather than fighting for the well-being of all. Well, the “Latte Liberal Label” is no longer the proprietary property of the right; it is embraced by The Declaration Of Independence true left liberal dedicated to the words and principles of Jefferson, to the adamant advocacy of Sam Adams and the vigor and integrity of Patrick Henry.

Take note that triumvirate represents the mind, the pen and the sword. Each man understood the nature of man and the ultimate necessity to risk all when others corrupted and confined the natural instinct of humanity to be free of oppressive containment. When words fail man will fight.

I've actually heard a group of PDA people argue about whether non-vegetarians could be opposed enough to the war in Iraq; unfortunately, although I was appalled, I wasn't all that shocked.

Most liberals don't deserve the "elitist" label, by any means…”Progressives” have.

The damnable truth of the matter is that most “Progressives” don’t even have any idea of the history of the word or “The Movement”, its flaws from the outset; they simply embrace the name as a substitute for the word “Liberal” avoiding the fight to clear the air our demonization.

LIBERALS help organize campaigns, canvass neighborhoods, organize benefits, register voters, and perform wonderful work helping people, out of sight of the media's eye. In fact, there's a strong trend lately among liberal activists toward recovering the populist roots of progressivism, and it's about time. When that is accomplished, today’s “self-labeled, self-anointed “Progressives” will find themselves all rolled up with the “Centrist” that they detest as a matter of their own self-defense of impotence. It is always someone else’s fault that you are a failure!

Growing up, like tens of millions of Americans in the postwar period, I saw my family's economic trajectory move from lower middle, working class to somewhere just short of upper middle class. We benefited from an expanding economy and progressive policies; from the unions whose efforts gradually raised wages and benefits for everyone, not just their members; from the reality of a decent social safety net and increased vacation time; and from having enough leisure time to expand our horizons. These gains were the result of years of liberal activism, and they benefited the mill worker as well as the doctor. This I saw; this I felt...and not all of it did I enjoy. I do not bemoan that fact.

But let me digress for a few moments to provide some perspective to what I have to say this day, and have been for so long attempting to communicate to so many.

My father was German and the stereotype of the WWII soldier. He lost family and friends in Germany to Hitler’s regime. He and his sisters escaped that land, became citizens and with his brother marched into Germany in the final assault. He never spoke of these things…that seems to be common of that generation. He admonished me repeatedly when I traveled back home, infrequently: “Eddie; don’t bring your gun!”

We all make fallacious assumption as one time or another in our lives and when you are young it is hard to penetrate the silence of of hard work working principled father. He worked too much and too hard but he was good at his trade and respected throughout New England. When you are born in Connecticut, at that time, surrounded by Industrial Revolution type factory workers at the Colt Firearms plants, came quickly to the gun.

Upon his death, my brothers, who had uncovered all of his WWII paraphernalia, medals, papers, etc., hidden in his three car Garage, one car and the remainder a carpenter’s workshop, and they simply open the false bottom of a drawer in a drill stage cabinet and said” “Mommy and we have decided this is yours.” He was an accomplished Sniper and I understood, only then what he saw in me…himself.

He was hard PRINCIPLED man. He never graduated from high school let alone complete grammar school…and yet he became one of the most skilled tool and dye makers, spring makers New England ever knew. For relaxation he could build house as if he were Amish and construct a green house that shown for miles in the sun. We buried him with his Estwing hammer as we did my brother Arthur. It was his simple rules that guided our youth: “If you want a college education; earn the money...Two brothers did; “If you want a car pay for it; no son ever drove his car…that was his and no finer tuning could ever have been achieved by a local garage. We still have no idea from where his skills emanated, and we never will.

He detested unions and I am a devout Unionist, albeit a disappointed one at the moment. He saw them as excuses for lazy and shabby work and firing folks who did not live up to his standards in the work place disgusted him. It mattered not one wit to him the color of your skin, the church you attended, or the language your spoke. If you were a good worker there was nothing he wouldn’t do for you.

He had a tool maker that he simply called “Frenchie”, a French Canadian who spoke English in a most fractured manner; but they understood one another. His wife had serious complications in a childbirth delivery and was hospitalized for an extended period of time…touch and go…she survived and flourished. Frenchie’s house was damaged by fire in that time period, and every moment possible my father was there with him to rebuild it. Frenchie sat our table and became as family. Curious at the rebuilding I went with my father one Saturday, and when I asked if I could help he went to his car, brought me a new Estwing hammer, told what to do, and I still have that hammer.

From that day he never questioned anything I did politically, writing or photography in High School and when I started to manufacture my own darkroom in the cellar of that old New England home; he was there to see that I had all the wiring I needed to make it work.

My Mother was as Irish as they came and a product of those times. She never learned to drive a car and didn’t leave the house to work until all four brothers were in High School and then only as a cafeteria worker at an elementary school down the street. She was a wonderful mother and superb homemaker, would be the terms. That did not diminish her intelligence. Widely read, politics just simply came with being Irish in those days and as long as I lived in the homestead she read every word of everything I ever wrote, and half the country away I could always expect a pre-election night phone call for a last minute discussion. My brothers never walked our path. These were good folks in troubled and trying times, and here is where the so called “Progressives” have gone astray.

Somewhere along the way, too many progressives lost the connection to what the American left in the 1930s called "the Real People." For those "lost liberals," by the '80s, the language one used and the consumer choices one made became confused with political action, and eventually devolved into today's too-common liberal self-parodies. (Actually overheard not long ago: "I heard that Birkenstock is going to start making wine.") Meanwhile, corporations' interests devoured our government, which proceeded to betray the nation's workers -- while too many progressives were busy picking out that perfect, correct Third World jewelry, and making fun of the rubes that weren't hip to such sensitive issues.

Unfortunately most progressives have fallen into the "latte liberal" category, with continued devolution. There are just too many for this particular liberal’s comfort, and we see the results every time a Palin or a Limbaugh uses the "elitist" label and makes it stick.

Before you say it, let me say it: I am espousing a political view that is counter to current mainstream feelings and thought in the "progressive" community.

My main thesis is that the support for Barack Obama by so-called progressives is a disgrace, because Obama in no way represents authentic progressive ideals and political reforms. These people are neo-progressives or, less politely, fake progressives. Real progressives should vote for third-party candidates because they are passionately against the two-party plutocracy that has shredded American democracy, promoted bellicose globalism, and pounded the middle class.

I can understood the considerable passion to hand Republicans a defeat at the polls, but too many literally prostituted themselves in the election. I am as anti-Republican as anyone. George W. Bush will surely go down in history as the nation's worst, most corrupt, most incompetent, most dishonest, most elitist, most war-mongering, and most anti-democracy president -- a true disgrace to American ideals. B ut those who never got beyond the awe stage of the Internet Campaign, didn’t even peak at the Plan “B” component of huge off line corporate money that bank rolled the Campaign.

The myth was attractive; the historic change was exciting, the fervor was an exhilarating political narcotic, but the paradigm shift so needed in our firmly entrenched dysfunctional political system was a charade. Driven by a clever marketing gimmick and scripted campaign dynamic the nation was swilling down blue cool aid after blue cool aid and the scent of inevitable victory was erotically stimulating.

Organizations, such as Progressive Democrats of America, and Web sites, such as and, have succeeded by openly claiming progressive status. All this has been a semantic trick and deception.

After so many years of Republican success, these neo-progressives that constitute the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party have sought a new identity.

These liberals want to attract independents and the millions of angry, disgusted Americans that explain why over 80 percent of the public says the country is on the wrong track.

Face it, progressive sounds good. Neo-progressives, in the end, still believe in the two-party plutocracy and deceive themselves and others that electing Democrats can produce major, substantive political reforms, even now when the Democratically controlled Congress has been a major disappointment, without the courage to take their constitutional responsibilities seriously and impeach George W. Bush.

Rallying behind Obama, these neo-progressives had no hesitancy in supporting mainstream Democrats in the name of defeating Republicans. The hallmark of neo-progressives is their fidelity to lesser-evil voting. No amount of self-delusion can totally hide the truth that Obama and nearly all other Democrats are not true progressives and reformists.

Neo-progressives cannot resist lesser-evil voting as a pragmatic strategy, justified in the name of saving the country from yet more years of Republican dominance. Such thinking represents the inability to take a longer term strategic perspective that understands the need to overthrow the two-party plutocracy by nurturing the third-party movement and seeking a Jeffersonian revolution.

Neo-progressives make themselves blind to the fundamental deficiencies of the Democratic Party and its candidates. They refuse to accept the reality that Democrats as well as Republicans are beholden to many special economic interests (so evident this year by their massive presence at both the Democratic and Republican conventions), are both criminally corrupt and dishonest, and when in power both do not seriously pursue what were historic progressive and populist values.

All worthy reformist goals were lost in the pseudo-ecstasy of anticipating a Democratic victory for the White House and Congress. Objective reality was lost in the heat of anti-Republican anger and frustration. Neo-progressives have let their emotions outgun their deeper intellectual knowledge and principles. They happily stay drunk from drinking Obama Kool-Aid.

The hang over revealed that the America of change heralded with bold strokes in reversing the blood sucking direction of this nation just has not materialized, that the old-business as usual syndrome has resurfaced totally intact. The system is so fractured and so corrupted that changing it from within by the established politically accepted rules just will not work…because they reduce nice guy “progressives” to the stautus of easily manipulated, easily dismissed singing to their choir pawns.

True “progressives” should carefully evaluate individual Democrats for their authenticity as progressives. Very few Democratic candidates would meet this test (think Kucinich). But candidates like Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney would, but they have been marginalized by events and the system. New dynamic risk taking leadership needs to be identified and the foundations of this nation must be shaken. In the words of Lincoln: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present; we must think anew; we must anew!”

If even the word “Progressive” is to have any value, any integrity; those who embrace it must redefine their national priorities; lip service leaders must be discarded along with the self-satisfying ego-fulfilling political theater of preaching to a limited choir. The is is not “net roots”; it is getting back to America’s roots, reality as it exists, the people in the streets, on the buses and in the malls, the jobless, homeless, the vast diversity of ethnicity and religious persuasions, and to listen to them and to act upon uplifting them and meeting and accommodating their pluralistic needs with uncompromising sincerity.

History tells “progressives” that when in office Democrats will disappoint them. They choose in an act of supreme denial to ignore that fact. Compared to Republicans, they may appear less corrupted by big-money interests, less dishonest, and less eager to undermine democracy. But such differences are quantitative, not qualitative.

At this time and place neither political party has an ounce of integrity. Both are bought and paid for.

It comes to this: Progressives should be anti-Republican and anti-Democratic; liberals should occupy the far left radical position and challenge everyone.

Liberals should be in the position of demanding that almost all congressional incumbents in the next few election cycles be defeated resoundingly, because (with very few exceptions) ALL incumbents of both parties share the shame of the current Congress.

The deeper, more complex questions are: should progressives be automatically supportive of Democrats, and should any effort be made to save the “progressive” movement at all. Perhaps it is so corrupted by ego and attitude that is beyond meaningful salvation. My answer is yes! “Progressives” have become so thrilled, enthralled about a Democratic victory; they are having serious difficulties with being such public allies of Democrats. The marriage is strained but “progressives” seem again inclined to stay in that marriage as the best they can get, and as usual…bitch, bitch, bitch!

Without the help of the progressive community, the mood of the nation would move clearly to the side of defeating ALL incumbents, yet relatively few will be defeated unless serious social upheaval over takes all and renders traditional politics meaningless.

Though I can understand why neo-progressives justify voting for Democrats, what troubles me is their outright excitement and vocal support for Obama, as if he is a political messiah and the salvation for the nation.

There is nothing that separates progressives from neo-progressives any longer. Neo-progressives want to believe that Democrats will finally deliver the political outcomes that have been dreamed about for a long term. This is delusion-driven hope, based on well founded despair about our political system. Conversely, true purist progressives know in their hearts and minds that lesser-evil Democrats are not what we really need and that, in the end, they will not truly reform our system. Real “progressives” should if they were true to their roots,l remain committed to finding other political routes to restoring American democracy and bringing justice to our economy, including third parties and the nation's first Article V convention of state delegates that could propose needed constitutional amendments to get reforms. Sadly; the melting pot on the left is alloying neo-conservatives, progressives and centrist into a usual ingot that hits the floor with a thud and not a brilliant bell-like ring.

The voice of the left is fast becoming the voice of the liberal/radical left.

To sum up, the optimism that neo-progressives have about Obama and Democrats should be curbed by disturbing and painful truth. Obama and Democrats have also been corrupted by many financial special interests as much as the Republican Party. Neither has any moral or political courage, and show little capacity for building broad public support for making the profound changes this nation desperately needs.

about bipartisanship is also a clever device that promotes the status quo for the two-party plutocracy. Obama represents change that no sensible person should believe in. We have simply picked up where the Bush administration has left off. The strangling grip of the corporate, K-Street, military Industrial complex has not been broken.

Nothing shows this more than the malarkey about health care. On the one hand Obama and his supporters talk about the right of Americans to have good, affordable health care, rather than it being a privilege that many cannot afford. But the only true universal health care system that would serve all Americans and stop the siphoning off of vast sums to money to produce hideous profits for health insurance and pharmaceutical companies is to have a single payer system. Obama has not supported this. Moreover, all the talk about health care being a right should have produced explicit support for a constitutional amendment that would make health care a constitutionally protected right as important as protected liberties. But Obama has never had the integrity and courage to even suggest such an amendment. And current chatter about either dropping the government option proposal or diluting it to a “trigger status” is unacceptable surrender. And if any proposal of this polluted nature becomes all there is to vote aye or nay on; where will the “progressives” be…bitching but supporting it as the best we could do.

If we reach this point the streets of America should be filled in mob protests. Washington should be flooded with a million strong so that not one bus, train or taxi can move…but that would not be politically correct and not nice.

An Obama "win" is a win for the two-party duopoly. The power elitists and economic royalists who really run the country know how to cope with such political shifts. For them, periodic power shifts between the two major parties stabilizes the system -- and it is the two-party SYSTEM that needs overhaul or destruction.

Change within this restrictive political system is more illusory than restorative. In fact, the power elites that really run the country may have wanted a Democratic victory. Why? Because it sustains the illusion of American democracy that, in reality, has become fake and delusional, as so many people worldwide now understand.

Real “progressives” should align themselves with the radical left in mounting the campaign to flush out the Congress and to destroy the influence of power elite.

I have little hope that they have the courage to so; it’s just not in them…they are accustomed to whining in failure. I expect nothing better from these non-risk taking faux patriot pretenders.

They will avoid the cognitive dissonance, disillusionment and embarrassment will ultimately feel if Obama wins and produces no real systemic reforms even with a strong Democratic majority in both the House and Senate. And every indicator points in that direction.

And we Liberals are not without the need for some serious self examination. Some of the leading liberal bloggers are privately furious with the major progressive groups — and in some cases, the Democratic Party committees — for failing to spend money advertising on their sites, even as these groups constantly ask the bloggers for free assistance in driving their message.

It’s a development that’s creating tensions on the left and raises questions about the future role of the blogosphere at a time when a Democrat is in the White House and liberalism could be headed for a period of sustained ascendancy.

A number of these top bloggers argue to these groups that they deserved a share in the ad wealth and couldn’t be taken for granted any longer.

“They come to us, expecting us to give them free publicity, and we do, but it’s not a two way street,” Jane Hamsher, the founder of FiredogLake, said in an interview. “They won’t do anything in return. They’re not advertising with us. They’re not offering fellowships. They’re not doing anything to help financially, and people are growing increasingly resentful.”

Hamsher singled out Americans United for Change, which raises and spends big money on TV ad campaigns driving Obama’s agenda, as well as the constellation of groups associated with it, and the American Association of Retired Persons, also a big TV advertiser.

“Most want the easy way — having a big blogger promote their agenda,” adds Markos Moulitsas, the founder of DailyKos. “Then they turn around and spend $50K for a one-page ad in the New York Times or whatever.” Moulitsas adds that officials at such groups often do nothing to engage the sites’s audiences by, say, writing posts, instead wanting the bloggers to do everything for them.

The behind-the-scenes tensions go to the heart of the role these bloggers have created for themselves in Democratic politics — they’re basically advocates and operatives with big platforms — and their future role, too. They argue that their efforts and fundraising helped drive the Democratic ascendancy. Yet even the Dem party committees are reluctant to advertise with them, raising the question of whether the party will ever be willing to seriously invest long-term in this new media infrastructure.

“We don’t invest in the future, and Republicans do,” says John Aravosis, the founder of AMERICAblog. “The party committees really get that we can be effective as their partners and that we’re happy to help, and they take advantage of that. But even so, very little ad money comes from them. It’s more than just wanting to share in the spoils. We are small business-people who are fighting to survive economically in a really bad year.”

Adds John Amato, the founder of Crooks and Liars: “These groups actually believe that we should promote their stuff for free. Do they not understand that we need funds to sustain our viability?”

Definitely a dynamic to keep an eye on…but the point we liberals need to examine is simply this: Is it time to get the hell out this game all together, frame our own and claim the streets for America. Someone has to! We should not be begging for the spoils of the political wars; we ought to be waging the campaign to win the ideological war that confronts and threatens to destroy this nation as we envision it can exist.

“Progressives” have lost touch with their Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt roots and have become so peacefully pragmatic that they easily swept aside in the ideological war that confronts this nation. They have no ideology and are thus malleable and subject to defeat. The reality is that we are confronted with an ideological struggle left and right. It must be fought. It must be won!

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