The New American Ideology - Ronald Reagan's "New Deal"


73 comments posted
Leaving politics to the Perots

Several thoughts:

1) Perot's candidacy also demonstrated that America won't elect a Keebler elf president.

2) Your work here almost reminds me of Lakoff's "framing" game ... but you're demanding far more substance than he is.

3) You are entirely correct that Democrats have done a lousy job telling us where they want the country to go ... or that the Democrats have what amounts to a realistic vision. The 2004 convention highlighted this, IMO. From what I could tell, the convention centered around:

a. Revisiting the party's glory days in the Great Society, New Deal, and the civil rights marches.

b. Turning Kerry's Vietnam service into a cartoon. This move was so bad that my own father, a Vietnam veteran AND somebody who was staunchly anti-Bush, was embarrassed.

c. Catering to the far-left celebrities of the moment *cough* Michael Moore *cough*, riding the extremist tiger while hoping not to have to feed it meat.

Nothing at that convention convinced me the Democrats were worth electing. But given the choices, I had to hold my nose and vote.

4) The Democrats have sunk a lot of effort into being the default party -- that is, the people you vote for when a particular Republican is repugnant. But given that it is possible for the GOP to put forward a non-repugnant candidate, this is a losing proposition for the Democrats.

5) I think that Roe and similar litigation has made the Democrats lazy. That is, left-wing activists have learned to treat nearly anything -- whether affirmative action, fatty foods, or abortion -- into a judicial issue, rather than a political issue. I wonder if Democrats' political muscles have atrophied in the past decades when it was possible to enact their agenda through court cases, rather than through politics.


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 2 March 2006 - 10:25am
I agree 1000% with 70% of what you say

Great response! Great comments.

I especially agree with points (4) and (5) and mostly with point (3). Neither of us is old enough to remember FDR, but history books tell us about the battle he had with the Supreme Court. Much of his New Deal Legislation was struck down by "Nine Old Men."

In desperation, he floated an idea that since Congress set the number of judges on the Court, that new seats ought to be added to the Court. FDR did not have the votes to do that, but soon the Court eased up. A lawyer friend who remembers the era quipped, "You know the old saying, 'The Supreme Court reads the newspapers, too.' Meaning they got the hint."

In 1962, when the right wing of the party was but a hatchling, the demanded "Impeach Earl Warren." What had happened is that Warren's Court led to Brown v. Board of Education - sit-stepping the Dixiecrat backlash of 1948 ... which was probably the seedbed of the present-day Republican Party - caused the nation to look inward. The Court would push through what was right when Congress and the President did not have the votes or the will.

Segregation was unholy and ubiquitous, so the Court simply declared it "illegal." The Democrats learned from this, but as you say, it got to the point that people wondered if the Court was going out of control.

The right wing postured about impeaching Chief Justice Earl Warren and his activist court, but they knew that packing the Court outright, would not work, and so they have slowly been stacking the chips.

You are spot on in saying that the Democrats need to work politically, for the Court is now a lost cause.

It is also why I am pushing for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) which bans sexism.

I also agree that the Democrats are the "default" party. Well said!

I agree with point (3), but want to give a separate response. Same with point (2) and (1).

Thank you for an enjoyable and thoughtful response to my post.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 2 March 2006 - 11:38am
Mutual admiration

So ... we're 700 percent in agreement?

It's nice talking to you, too, Matsu. But let's not get too far on with our mutual admiration, eh?

Segregation was unholy and ubiquitous, so the Court simply declared it "illegal." The Democrats learned from this, but as you say, it got to the point that people wondered if the Court was going out of control.

You left out a major, major difference between the segregation cases and the more modern trend of favoring litigation over legislation. Brown v. Board of Education illustrates my point:

American courts have since labored with the doctrine for over half a century. In this Court, there have been six cases involving the "separate but equal" doctrine in the field of public education. In Cumming v. County Board of Education [1899] and Gong Lum v. Rice [1927], the validity of the doctrine itself was not challenged. In more recent cases, all on the graduate school level, inequality was found in that specific benefits enjoyed by white students were denied to Negro students of the same educational qualifications. [See Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938); Sipuel v. Oklahoma (1948); Sweatt v. Painter (1950); McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents (1950).] In none of these cases was it necessary to re-examine the doctrine to grant relief to the Negro plaintiff. And in Sweatt v. Painter, supra, the Court expressly reserved decision on the question whether Plessy v. Ferguson should be held inapplicable to public education.

Brown wasn't a sudden, hard, activist shift of American racial policy. Rather, it built on earlier cases, which first challenged the notion that the separate accommodations were actually "equal," then undermined the "separate but equal" doctrine in education over the course of decades.

Contrast that with the modern gay-marriage movement, which presses cases like Goodridge v. Dept. of Health, which essentially enacts same-sex marriage with what amounts to fairly slim precedent to back it up. If the modern gay-marriage movement wanted to emulate the Brown approach, it would start with cases that attack specific applications and consequences of the ban on same-sex marriage -- spousal privilege, marital tax status, inheritance, visitation rights, etc. After a few decades, the same-sex marriage movement would have much stronger precedent on its side. **

Outside of schools, an examination of civil-rights case law reveals that, for example, the precedential Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States was not truly a the work of

an activist court, but rather an effort to enforce law duly passed by Congress. The issues presented was not whether a public accomodation refuse to serve black customers, but rather whether Congress has the power to regulate whether a public accomodation may refuse to serve black customers. ***

In the modern world, paralleling Heart of Atlanta means that you've got to press your issue through the legislature ... and then you have your court case as a rear-guard action to compel good behavior from the holdouts.

Which, I suppose, is a really, really long-winded way of agreeing with you and reiterating my original point.


* I deliberately choose "activist litigation" rather than "activist judges." The "activist judge" canard doesn't really mean anything, and I think that "activist litigation" more accurately describes an effort to use judicial means to achieve a legislative outcome.

** Yes, waiting decade after decade for equal rights is frustrating and incredibly unfair. But, if you're trying to enact rapid social change, you're trying to turn the judiciary to legislative purpose. Legislatures move quickly (when they want to). Courts, not so much.

*** The court also cites the annoying Wickard v. Filburn, a decision that I hate above all others. That's an argument for another day.

pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 2 March 2006 - 12:24pm
Judicial Legislation


Your excellent point about legislation and the difference between using the judiciary as opposed to enacting legislation is born out even further by the example of Roe v. Wade. That decision is more than 30 years old, and yet virtually every bit of legislation dealing with the subject of abortion since the decision was handed down has been in opposition to the decision itself. There has been no "enabling" legislation such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act, or the 1965 Voting Rights Act were for the Brown decision. And while this indicates rather strongly that there is not the political will to support the Roe decision legislatively, it also points to the fact that Roe is now on the brink of crumbling under the weight of its own presumptuousness.

Eventually, someone of stature (and likely tenure too) will write a scholarly piece detailing what might have been had those favoring more open access to abortion been willing acknowledge the Founders' wisdom, rather than inviting the Court to arrogate to itself powers it was not intended to possess.

Finally, rest assured that Justice Alito and Chief Roberts are both well aware of the need for sufficient popular support for SCOTUS decisions, if only for the sake of the reputation and public respect of the Court. I ahve no doubt that Justice Ginsberg's replacement will make a quiet, private note of the same as he passes her on the steps of the Supreme Court building... that is, if someone wakes her up in the meantime.

bat one's picture
Posted by bat one (not verified) on 2 March 2006 - 8:05pm
All Branches Presume

The Supreme Court does get involved in interpreting what legislation means in light of the Constitution.

But then again, the Executive interprets the Constitution and does what it wants, such as saying it is going to torture prisoners, anyway.

The legislative branch over-steps as well.

Most of the Bill of Rights stands without "enabling legislation."

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 2 March 2006 - 9:49pm
I keep reading and hearing of this

"catering to the far-left celebrities" of which you speak, and I have to ask ... ummmm ... what catering, other than asking them to fork over a check?

Seriously, this canard gets launched over and over again, often by far-right wing celebrities like Rush and Ann Coulter, yet other than kissing the RIAA's ass on copyright I can't think of one thing that the Democrats have given a "far-left" celebrity. Hell, F911 could have been a potent weapon in '04, yet Kerry and his clueless consultants couldn't get further away from it.

You're pretty much okay on the rest of what you wrote, esp. re: the lazyness of the Dems, but that particular steaming pile of convential wisdom drives me nuts.

Madman in the Marketplace's picture
Posted by Madman in the M... on 2 March 2006 - 11:38am
"catering to the far-left
"catering to the far-left celebrities" of which you speak, and I have to ask ... ummmm ... what catering, other than asking them to fork over a check?

Validation, to start with. A ready platform. Book and movie sales.


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 2 March 2006 - 11:45am
you avoid the question

How did they "cater"? I saw left-wing celebrities campaigning, and trying to help GOTV, but Democratic Candidates usually maintain a distance from them. When they don't, they get hammered by a corporate media that enriches itself off of the controversy and then enriches itself again w/ new complaints from the right. What cause have lefty celebrities championed that the Democrats have embraced in the last 20 years? I can't think of one. The Democrats have actually led the way in trying to censor music, censor television, censor movies and censor video games. They have gone all-but silent on the environment. They have embraced forced-birth talking points. They try to out-warhawk the Republicans every chance they get. They helped the corporations consolidate media, they passed "free" trade legislation while abandoning FAIR trade legislation. They have turned their backs on labor unions. Clinton pissed all over the social safety net. NAME ONE LEFTY OR LIBERAL THING THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAS DONE IN TWO DECADES ... let alone one thing they've done to "cater" to the "demands" of "far-left celebrities".

I ask you again, WHAT catering?

Madman in the Marketplace's picture
Posted by Madman in the M... on 2 March 2006 - 12:02pm
Real catering

A twelve-foot Italian sub with all the trimmings. Didn't you see it backstage at the convention?


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 2 March 2006 - 12:07pm
Mayo with lots of ham ... or is it Mao?

LOL. Okay ... good quip, pw.

I think the catering here is a wish not to "upset" anyone. Ann Coulter has got the Dem's number on this one and if you notice, the right goes out of its way to be obnoxious. If they were drunk on liquor, you'd simply dismiss it. What Coulter and her imitators are, is drunk on power and hubris - the Andrew Dice Clay model of political rhetoric.

What the Dems have done is simply backed away from that and left the shrillness to the Moores and others.

At one time the Progressives were able to be sharp without being offensive..

I recall an incident in my own life. An woman, somewhat older than me, gave me a too-toothy grin and said, "Wanna know what a conservative is? A liberal who's been mugged?" That was my cue to smile, laugh, and nod in agreement. Instead I shot back before even thinking, "Wanna know what a liberal is? Someone who's been roughed up by the police."

Only then did I smile and laugh and nob.

She was not please.

But the Dems seem not to take any strong position and in the end prove the Republicans right ... taking no strong position means you're weak.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 2 March 2006 - 12:33pm
A bridge to the 19th century
At one time the Progressives were able to be sharp without being offensive..

In some ways, I wish we had the Progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries back.

Can you share a bit about them? They're a little before my generation.


P.S. I'd better go before I get myself slapped.

pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 2 March 2006 - 1:27pm
Cause Celebrity

First, I think we should expand our definition of "celebrity." I'm not just talking about documentarians with chips on their shoulders, but also about political celebrities, like the Cindy Sheehans of this world. I think Matsu really hit it here:

I think the catering here is a wish not to "upset" anyone. ... What the Dems have done is simply backed away ... and left the shrillness to the Moores and others.

While the Democratic Party hasn't actively embraced protectionism and stridently, even unrealistically opposed the Iraq war, it hasn't exactly told the Michael Moores of the world where to stick it, either.

Instead, it seems to me, the Democratic Party has been more than happy to extend a platform to the Michael Moores, the Cindy Sheehans, and nearly anybody else whose willing to take a stand that's "not Bush." By making Michael Moore an honored guest at its convention, by giving prime-time speaking slots to the Rev. Al Sharpton*, by not taking advantage of "Sister Souljah" moments, by welcoming these extremists into its political camp, by treating the natterings of second- and third-rate comedians as utterings on par with serious political analysis, the Democratic Party has implicitly validated the celebrities, political and otherwise.

Marisacat, below, rightly points to the Republican noise -- Regnery publishing, Left Behind, etc. The current state of the Republican Party (foam-at-the-mouth crazy) illustrates the dangers of validating the fringe elements of a party.

As I've observed the Republican Party confine itself to an ever-more-narrow slice of the political pie, I have hoped that Democrats would capitalize on this and start trying to peel away the RINO faction not by betraying any Democratic principle, but by demonstrating that there's more room for disagreement in the Democratic Party than in the Republican Party. The Democrats have failed to do this.

In fact, the Republicans, even as they drift further rightward, have managed to keep themselves the party of the nominally big tent. After all, they've put the RINOs through the ringers, but they haven't actually excommunicated them. Yet.

And that "yet" has me examining the Republican Party again in the 2006-08 election cycle. If the Republicans put forward a reasonable, qualified presidential candidate and proposals that are conservative, but not fire-breathing, I am willing to vote for their candidates for office. And I am hardly alone.


* Probably one of the best speakers in the Democratic Party today

pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 2 March 2006 - 1:46pm

you are either hopelessly naive, historically ignorant or just pulling our chain.

The people you describe as "extremists" have NO access to the party as anything more than ATMs. The only people who believe they DO have access to power are the propagandists of the right who use them as straw men to beat up on the Democrats, which the Democrats respond to by ducking their heads and refusing to fight. That Sister Souljah stunt was a dishonest and cynical and shameful stunt by Clinton, one of many such vacuous and empty panders to the quietly racist suburban white middle class.

Seriously, man, quit listening to cable news and reading Time magazine. You have NO idea what the fuck you're talking about.

Madman in the Marketplace's picture
Posted by Madman in the M... on 2 March 2006 - 2:12pm
You MUST be kidding

How has the Democratic party extended any sort of support or platform for Cindy Sheehan? Her popularity is entirely grassroots. She was making news way before any of the establishment figures tried to glom onto her anti-war message.

And Michael Moore is left to his own lack of eloquence. He does better when he can edit out his more inane statements in a movie, but live he often fumbles. (Sometimes I think he's dead on, though, such as his Oscars speech about the fictitious war. His "Bowling for Columbine" also very effectively cuts through the NRA and anti-gun baloney by pointing out that guns in and of themselves are not the problem -- witness the relatively peaceful and heavily armed Canadians -- but rather our culture of violence and paranoia making Americans with guns particularly dangerous to each other.)

But where are the Democratic Party voices backing these individuals? There aren't any, really. Just as there are precious few Democratic voices against the War On Iraq. Why? Because they've been signing on to the Republican agenda all along. They don't have an oppositional leg to stand on. They couldn't even back Jack Murtha's critique of the war. Instead they cowered while they turned to their managers and focus groups.

But then if you're going to measure Democrats by rabble-rouser Al Sharpton (and I for one remember the Tawana Brawley spectacle), I really don't know what you're looking for.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 2 March 2006 - 3:34pm
Driving through wasteland

In 1981, in pre-cellular America, I drove down an Interstate highway in the Southwest. I had rented a car, but it only had AM radio. It was a long stretch of road - a ribbon running into the reddish-orange desert. I was tired. Coffee had cease to energize me. There was nowhere save for the shoulder to stop and stretch my legs. The speed limit was 55 and troopers who descended from outa nowhere were nabbing people who defied the limit.

So to help pass the time, I listened to one of the two station I managed to get out in the vastness of Middle America. One station had a preacher who was telling me all about "Jeez-huss" (Jesus). The other station played really bad (awful) country music.

I listen to one, then to the other, than back to the first. I didn't know which was worse. I tried silence. Then I snapped the radio back on. Back and forth between the station. Back off. Back on again - and another cycle began.

This is an allegory. For lack of their own message, the Democrats are switching anything on that their two-station-radio can pick up. One is the old "faith," and the other is "chewing gum for the mind."

Like Moses, the Democrats are wandering through the desert and picking up two channels. Time for a burning bush ... trouble is, He's a Republican.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 2 March 2006 - 4:04pm
Surely you have heard of...


And the cushy love nest for the Left Behind series that the hard right feathers. hard to get richer or more influenctial than the LeHayes... and they are just 2 out of many.

Dobson anyone?

And the paid for point of promotion that rightie books get in the Big Box Book Stores?

I have no real argument, they can arrange their PR and messenger fostering as they wish, but let's get real here on "catering".

Large factions of the Dems have made Michael Moore a poster boy on a dart board. They act like skinning their knuckles and claiming they beat up on MM (who is not a Democrat) is valorous. LOL. Strikes me as gaming for nothing.

I think he should be acknowledged as a near brilliant polemicist. Beyond that he does not interest me much...

Marisacat's picture
Posted by Marisacat on 2 March 2006 - 1:33pm
Third Party in the USA

Ok, to the disagreement first. You blew-off my point that a Third Party could take root because I used Perot as an example. Both Clinton and Bush the Elder, are 6'-4". Perot is a runt next to them and looks kinda weird, talks funny, and said some strange stuff.

That's why he DIDN'T win! But he got heard.

He did not sit well with my generation and probably even less well with yours. I recall saying he did not stand a chance and there was no infra-structure for him. The argument I got from people that I respected was, "if everyone thinks that way, we'll never change this system." Without saying it, it was a way of standing up to the two-arty (really one-party) system.

I think you are misreading Perot's defeat. That fact he showed as well as he did ... even after dropping out of the race ... speaks to the fact that the electorate is fed up. We are Fed up with the Party that wants to take us back to the 16th Century. (Love the reference, Pennywit!) and a party that attracts loonies like a black sweater attracts lint.

The more we make fun of Perot, the more it proves the point. That a "joke" could show as well as he did says there is a core that could be a Third Party - the "Blue Party," if somehow someone stands up and articulates a message.

Perot was the first one to give Reagan and Reaganism a run for his/its money.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 2 March 2006 - 11:48am
An opening


You can hardly expect serious debate from me when you leave a huge, huge opening for a cheap joke. It's a bit like expecting a lawyer not to dive for cover when somebody yells, "Look! It's Dick Cheney!"

I always go for the cheap joke. Don't you know that by now?


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 2 March 2006 - 12:23pm
Third parties

How do you build a viable third party? Win elections. How do you win elections? Build a viable third party. First, you have to catch at least 22 supporters ...

In terms of a third party, I really see only three scenarios:

1) Like the Dixiecrat, Populist, and Progressive parties of previous generations, a third party rises and commands just enough clout in the electorate that one (or both!) major parties realign to take advantage of the potential votes in the subsequent election cycle.

2) Either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party finally splinters under its own internal tensions, and the new third party picks up the institutions and voters left behind.

3) A third party begins building itself slowly, first running candidates at the municipal level, then building from this base into a viable national party as its leaders gain credibility locally, then by state, then nationally.

The third scenario ain't gonna happen. From what I can tell, people these days aren't interested in that sort of long-term political work, which can literally take generations. Easier to just run somebody (say, an odd-talking billionaire) for president, make a lot of noise, and then fade away when it doesn't work.

The first scenario, I think, is most likely. The leaders in both parties aren't stupid. If they realize that the so-called silent majority is fed up enough that a third-party candidate earns enough votes to take home a state or two -- possibly Maine, West Virginia, or one of the Midwestern states, then the party elders will jettison the extremists like hot potatoes and finally move back toward that vital center. End result: no viable third party.

The second scenario is unlikely as well. Today's political parties have sufficient institutional strength that it's a bit difficult to tell them to go quietly into that good night. I suppose its a combination of infrastucture (committees, precinct captains, etc.) and intellectual longevity -- they've been around so long that Republican and Democrat actually mean something in the American political reptile brain, to the point that party identification may cause a reluctance to align with a new third movement.

This scenario hasn't really happened since before the Civil War, when the Republicans picked up pieces of the Whigs. Since then, when one party seems near schism (i.e. Southern Democrats), the other party is ready to swoop in, granting a new political home to the political apostates.

Of course, there is a major difference between then and now. A quick glance at Kos and the Kosettes, or at some of the more (ahem) strident conservative blogs reveals that in addition to the intolerance for political heresy, there also seems to be little willingness from one party to accept the other's castoffs. While Republicans have proven receptive to Lieberman, Democrats, on the other hand, show little to no affection for John McCain, Lincoln Chafee, Arlen Specter, or Olympia Snowe.

Another scenario? On reflection, there's a possible fourth scenario here ... but only if a critical mass of credible politicians is willing to step outside the iron walls of party identity, forsaking all others, etc. In addition to the aforementioned notables, other possible credible leaders include Warren Rudman, Gary Hart, Sam Nunn, and Bob Kerrey ... all of whom, unfortunately, have mostly retired from politics.


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 2 March 2006 - 1:11pm
A further thought

I've been politically aware (not necessarily active) for around 10-15 years now. Early on, you would have probably described me as center-right. Fairly conservative in my personal life, rather libertarian, and extremely wary of the right wing. As the Republican Party moved further into its Tango of Death with the Pat Robertson wing, I disengaged further and found more in common with the Democrats.

Today, I face two increasingly unpalatable choices. In the GOP, the far right continues to build a bridge to the 16th century while the party's moderates (three at last count) cling to some vestige of what the party used to be. The Democrats, meanwhile, alternate between milquetoast "moderates" who are scared of their own shadows, Beltway insiders who are afrai of losing what little power they have, and far-left firebrands whose politics I find no more palatable than Jerry Falwell's.

Despite the scorn heaped on Lieberman by the Kosettes and the lack of respect that Republican firebreathers show Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, and Lincoln Chafee, I often find myself in that moderate middle ground. And though survey after survey tells me that I am hardly alone in this position, Snowe Country has rapidly become a political no man's land, leaving me with few, if any, worthwhile choices at the ballot box.


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 2 March 2006 - 10:37am
the "middle" isn't a position ...

it's at best where you end up after a vigorous debate. These days, it's more likely where herdlike middle class Americans hunker down for fear of actually standing for anything or having to confront hard questions and harder realities. The "middle" is occupied by people who swallow lazy characatures of their fellow citizens and the agitprop churned out by the right-wing noise machine.

The "middle" is a bastion for cowards and the weak of mind.

Madman in the Marketplace's picture
Posted by Madman in the M... on 2 March 2006 - 11:50am
A 1962 Republican Organizer Said
People say they're middle of the road, but with a government of liberals, pinkos, and fellow-travelers, the middle of the road is moving left.

The middle is defined by who digs the ditches along the side of the road.

Something like that.

The majority always tries to paint the minority in an unflattering light. What were the right wingers called. I remember,

Kooks, extremists, super-patriots, flag-wavers, little old ladies in tennis shoes, Birchers, fanatics, neo-Nazis, radicals, paranoids, lunatic fringe, zealots, war mongers ...

These were among the insults that were hurled at the Conservative Republicans at the time.

Today, their positions can be found in all three branches of the government - at the top levels.

What the left has failed to do is define itself. Rather, it has allowed itself to BE defined be.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 2 March 2006 - 12:14pm
Moderation ...

In some ways, I still think of myself as a moderate conservative who didn't get the memo when they moved the damned ditches.


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 2 March 2006 - 12:20pm
Here's the memo

We're ditching (sic) the moderates in the Republican Party. From now on they will be called Democrats. We are going back to what America once was - a vast wasteland covered in ice.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 2 March 2006 - 12:48pm
Proudly Middle
[The middle is] at best where you end up after a vigorous debate. These days, it's more likely where herdlike middle class Americans hunker down for fear of actually standing for anything or having to confront hard questions and harder realities.

Which, I think, is a erroneous, dichotomous worldview that fails to take into account that it is indeed possible to think through an issue, then realize that individuals on both sides of a debate may both be wrong.

On farm subsidies, for example, one partisan may emphatically endorse agricultural subsidies, another may emphatically condemn them ... but a third may confront the "hard questions and harder realities" and conclude that as a public policy, farm subsidies may be sound, but only in limited circumstances.

You aver that a person who has confronted "hard questions and harder realities" must be a partisan on one side or the other. I emphatically disagree. In fact, I posit that a person who exclusively inhabits the political extremes has spent far too much time locked in a small room with only his own internal voices for company.

The "middle" is occupied by people who swallow lazy characatures of their fellow citizens and the agitprop churned out by the right-wing noise machine.

Or perhaps the extremes are occupied by individuals who swallow lazy caricatures of other extremists and dine continually on the swill served up by their fellows.

Further, I submit to you that the middle often assays a course that is far more difficult that that espoused by either extreme, and thus demands a certain intellectual fortitude. Israel's nascent Kadima movement springs to mind; on the issue, for example, of rapprochement with the Palestinians, it rejects the approaches espoused by Labor and Likud and attempts to chart a (dare I say) middle course that grapples with the "hard realities" of simultaneously co-existing with an often hostile Palestinian state and protecting Israel's borders with that state.

The "middle" is a bastion for cowards and the weak of mind.

Oh, dear. I find myself cowed, even amazed at your wit.


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 2 March 2006 - 12:42pm
Nothing dichotomous about it

Real politics depends on arriving at compromise, but effective compromise can only take place when there is a full range of positions explored and vigorously advanced. That hasn't happened in this country in a very long time. Entire political perspectives have been ruled out of bounds, written off as "extreme" or ungodly or "tree-hugging" or "femi-nazi" or "communist". The "middle" is nothing more than those who are uncomfortable with conflict, whining that political debate is "partisan" and to be avoided. Have any of these people ever read descriptions of the Constitutional Congress, or the meetings where the Declaration of Independence was hashed out? The founders of this country weren't namby-pamby "moderates" quailing at the thought of seeming "extreme". That our political culture is now mainly a palid little herd pushed around by loud barking dogs of hate from the right shames the work they did.

Imagine if there were actual political leaders from the left willing to join Feingold in loudly protesting the PATRIOT Act. Imagine that a few more socialists might have been on the floor of the House to fight for workers when NAFTA was being forced through. Close your eyes and visualize a fiery populist or three actually fighting back against the Bankruptcy "reform" act. THAT would be a vital and living political system, a government that might actually find a true political "middle", and not this shriveled focus-grouped pro-corporate morass we are saddled with now.

Should there be a few peacemakers in the system who help the partisans hammer out an agreement? Absolutely, but peacemakers in a system like we currently have serve only to lend a veneer of respectability to an exploitive one-party state.

Madman in the Marketplace's picture
Posted by Madman in the M... on 2 March 2006 - 2:06pm
The "Authority" of the PLA


I'm impressed that you refer to the Israeli Kadima movement. That's quite a bit under the radar for most folks.

On the other hand, as we've discussed before, there is no "Palestinian state," hostile or otherwise. At least not legally, not in this country. In fact, I believe I read recently that SCOTUS had affirmed the prior appellate ruling in Efrat Ungar v. PLA, PLO, et al.

Oh, and yes, thanks, I'm having fun.

Bat One's picture
Posted by Bat One (not verified) on 3 March 2006 - 1:51am
Don't be that impressed ...

We would be hearing a lot more about kadima right now if Sharon hadn't had his stroke. As it is, I'm not sure the movement can survive without him. As a bona fide hardliner turned pragmatist, he was probably the only person with the credibility to pull off a third party in Israeli politics.


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 3 March 2006 - 9:18am
Dancng in the Dark

"Tango of Death"????? Wherever did you get that? I'm jealous.

Seriously, one of the charges leveled (rightly - pun intended) at the Democrats is that of moral equivalency. Taking your examples above, please note that while the Democrats are actively and formally trying to run a more "acceptable" candidate against Joe Lieberman this fall, please note that the Bush White House endorsed the re-election of Arlen Specter, despite the protest howls from many of us on the right, has supported the coming re-election of Chafee, and has given no indication that it would support any sort of undermining of Olympia Snowe's re-election bid in two years.

The fact that Lieberman is anathema to the left, including those who bankrolled Howard Dean and then John Kerry 2 years ago, is not the equivalent of the Republican situation vis-a-vis Snowe, Specter, and Chafee. Under Bush's leadership, and that of Mehlman (and yes, Rove as well) there is room for both Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum within the GOP big tent. The Democrats, on the other hand, have shown no such cohesive leadership, at least not nationally.

Bat One's picture
Posted by Bat One (not verified) on 2 March 2006 - 8:33pm
Oh sure, they can talk the talk

But when push comes to shove, Specter, Snowe and Chaffee don't walk the walk. Why not? Because there is no room for any of that diversity under the GOP's so-called "big tent." Really, when it comes to deeds, where is the GOP's big tent? Nowhere to be found.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 2 March 2006 - 10:10pm
Whatever are you talking

Whatever are you talking about? There is most certainly way more room for diversity under the GOP's big tent than is found on the ever-diminishing left side of the aisle. Just ask Pat Toomey. He now heads The Club for Growth, in case you need help.

While the Democrats continue to excommunicate those who don't pass the ideological purity test of the Soros-funded DU/MoveOn/Kos inquisition, the Republicans continue to roll quietly along. Tort reform, Chief Roberts, Justice Alito, Patriot Act renewal, not bad for the first year into a second term. And that's just Specter's Judiciary Committee. And speaking about pro-growth economics, take a good look at the current make-up of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Its looking even more Reaganesque than the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, all the Left can manage is one tediously shrill objection after another. Were it not for the entertainment value of Dean, Reid, Kennedy, Schumer, Biden, and West Virginia's Senator Kleagle, there would be hardly no interest at all.

Someone ought to advise Dean and the Democrats that if you are really intent on shooting yourself in the foot, its probably a good idea to first remove it from your mouth.

As for your "push comes to shove" remark, the only pushing and shoving demonstrated lately is Joe Biden's rush to get out in front of the nearest TV camera.

Bat One's picture
Posted by Bat One (not verified) on 3 March 2006 - 12:07am
What I am talking about

...are things like how there was never any expectation that the so-called "pro-choice Republicans" would ever cast votes against Alito. When the GOP lays down the law, everyone taking their money must get in line.

Meanwhile, the Dems do what they want. You're really delusional if you think Kos has any sort of real influence. If you look at what the Dems are doing, they are pretty much ignoring their base, ditching progressivism and catering to the right. No, it's not a big tent because they're embracing the hateful folks who want to control everyone's behavior. They're embracing authoritarian governmental power. It's just a different brand of authoritarian power than the GOP has already seized and is expanding every day.

Of course, if you consider the spying on Americans in the name of patriotism, the stripping of consumer rights, the approval of a judge who got into law because he resented people not like him, well, I'm sure you're just in hog heaven. You poor folks who are afraid of freedom, you must be so happy to have Big Brother taking more power.

As for "Reaganesque" I would not brag about that. Reagan and Bush have landed us in the dire economic straits we find ourselves, with their profligate spending with no revenue to justify it. Look at our debt! That is thanks to the Republicans almost exclusively! (Carter and Clinton paid down the debt during their terms.)

The most independent-minded Republican is Christie Whitman, and she was essentially booted out of the Bush Administration because she wouldn't shut up about polluters poisoning our children for profit. Next to her, maybe John McCain, who's hated and reviled by the good ol' boys who pay for the GOP and expect all peasants to behave and get in line.

Diversity in the GOP? Just the statement is a laugh.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 3 March 2006 - 12:23am
Dollars and Sense

Sigh! I suppose I should admire the nerve of someone who trumpets the economic accomplishments of the Carter presidency. Either that, or write it off as a noxious cross between hyper-partisanship and willful ignorance.

Let’s see, double digit interest rates, double digit inflation, gas lines around the block, rising prices, a devalued dollar, and a recession… all in one, solitary, four year term. That’s some record of accomplishment. The combined economic leadership of the entire Carter cabinet, OMB Director Bert Lance included, wasn’t sufficient to get the bunch of them out of a walk-in closet.

If you really wish to talk about comparative economic policy, I’ll be only too happy to oblige. But holding up the Carter economic record as some sort of shining beacon of Democratic competence doesn’t help your cause at all. I doubt that even Paul Krugman could manage to defend the Carter economy… at least not with a straight face.

Bat One's picture
Posted by Bat One (not verified) on 3 March 2006 - 1:30am
Oh yes, sure

It's much better to break out the credit cards and pretend to be rich, rather than face hard times like oil embargoes and still manage to improve the foundation of the economy. You're right. Irresponsibility is much better. You Republicans are good at irresponsibility.

I keep wondering where we'd be today if Reagan hadn't revoked the alternative energy tax credits that Carter implemented to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Even the chimp has realized that Reagan was wrong, way wrong, on that one.

(Irony #47: Reagan ran on cutting the deficit even more, and he increased it instead.)

As for debating economic policy, one wonders if you could put together a coherent argument. We're still waiting for something that's not just Rush-like jingoism.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 3 March 2006 - 8:43am
Econ 201 - A New Beginning

Your skill with the electronic scissors and glue-stick is admirable. It truly is.

First, how about a chart relating budget deficit/surplus numbers as a percent of overall GDP? That way, we can determine just how much debt we can afford. Of course, we'll also need one for GDP to illustrate overall economic activity or decline. Then, a chart showing interest rates. Both Fed Funds rate and average one year T-bills would be nice if you could manage both. Finally, a chart showing the nation's unemployment rate as defined by BLS and the Humphrey-Hawkins legislation would also be helpful.

If its a coherent argument you'd like, fine. But please don't make the usual Democratic mistake of confusing coherent with simplistic. Even Keynes knew the difference.

Speaking of Keynes, please explain when it was that the left forswore its economics guru. Deficit spending has been a mainstay of the left's economics credo since Saint FDR. Is this a recent Epiphany on the Road to Redemption, or are the Democrats merely worshipping at a more mainline cathedral for the sake of partisan convenience and a temporary desire to impress the neighbors?

bat one's picture
Posted by bat one (not verified) on 3 March 2006 - 9:33am
Old time GOP lingo
If its a coherent argument you'd like, fine. But please don't make the usual Democratic mistake of confusing coherent with simplistic. Even Keynes knew the difference.

When argument turns into a polemic. Notice how the word "Democratic" got slipped into the sentence

"If its a coherent argument you'd like, fine. But please don't make the usual Republican mistake of confusing coherent with simplistic. Even Reagan knew the difference."

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 3 March 2006 - 10:13am
I'm sorry, was there a point in there, somewhere?

Or were you simply trying to argue that the GOP, in its runaway deficit spending, is celebrating FDR? Wonderful irony, that. (And how little you know about FDR!)

I wonder how much more you can illustrate by example the argument of Matsu's post. Thank you for stepping in to be the case study.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 3 March 2006 - 10:14am

Actually, Bat One makes a good point, though I'm not sure it's the point he was intending to make. Somebody once called a particular theory of economics "voodoo economics," and after a few years in Law and Economics land, I'm convinced the whole lot of the economist class keep little dolls in the desk drawer ... right next to the stack of extra sharp pins.

Or, at least, that's how economics apepars to the outsider. Fact is, when many of us start playing with economics policy and tax policy, we really don't know what we're doing. I certainly don't. And Unless somebody here is sitting on a PhD, I'm not entirely sure any of us can argue with real authority on the subject.


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 3 March 2006 - 10:21am
Voodoo Economics

I don't know where he got it, but that was Bush the Elder speaking about Reagan's advocacy of "trickle-down theory" back in the 1980 campaign, I believe. Crazy ideas that if you give the rich more government assistance, then the poor will be better off, as will the country.

Which sounds like Voodoo. Superstition. And borne out in the results of it, with massive deficits and trickle-down "guru" David Stockman's renouncement of it in the Atlantic Monthly.

The most effective Keynsian president in modern history might be Republican Eisenhower, who saw massive investment in the Interstate system as a way to boost interstate trade, the auto industry and the oil industry (in terms of fuel for those cars and oil for the asphalt). Knock it for taking us down a path of oil dependency we find ourselves now, while having gutted the public transportation infrastructure that was more robust 80 years ago than it is today, but it was public investment that resulted directly in a burst of economic growth and prosperity.

By contrast, Reagan did no such investment. His deficits went into useless weapons systems that produced nothing and massive and corrupt give-backs and bail-outs for the plutocrats. That Savings and Loan scandal cost the country hundreds of billions of dollars. Taxpayers paying for "white collar bank robbery."

When Clinton turned the spending mindset around and suddenly was producing budget surpluses, the economy boomed. Why? Because people saw stability, which is required for investment. Mismanagement led to the dot bomb and telecom crashes, but the country was on a positive footing, financially.

Yet what was not addressed by Clinton or Bush the Elder or Reagan was the crumbling infrastructure. Our schools are garbage, with old equipment, leaky roofs and students who rank with in achievement with Third World countries. That comes from a lack of investment in the country. Our schools once were the envy of the world. Now only a few of our best colleges.

And today Bush the Lesser blows money like the silver-spoon kid he is, with no appreciation for money or how hard it can be to come by. Investment? If you're Halliburton, I'm sure you feel the government has invested much in you. For us "peasants," though, we just get bullshit and lies right to our faces.

We are witnessing the rape of our country by a privileged plutocratic class. And people who cheerlead this are either getting a cut or are simply blinded by the sideshow.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 3 March 2006 - 11:05am
"We Republicans" will recall

Part of the "real" Conservatives - those of us who took over the Republican Party after Kennedy-Nixon in 1960 - always quoted De Tocqueville. I am not sure if he actually wrote it or not, but the Conservatives claimed De Tocqueville said that the American Republic would wall when its people realized they could get access to the "public till."

We Conservatives thought he was speaking about pork-barrel public projects. Little did we know he was talking about making private individuals rich.

Good comment, mg, about the voodoo, that he do, so well.


PS. I left the GOP and Conservatism in 1966/1968 when the party got all religious and authoritarian.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 3 March 2006 - 11:15am
Voodoo? Who do? You do!

I'm a particular critic of the conspicuous-consumption overspending for bar mitzvahs, weddings, etc., particularly among the wealthy that infest DC. I consider that sort of profligacy wasteful and useless.

Then again, as my younger brother the lighting tech recently pointed out, a chunk of that chnge lands in his pocket ... and in the pocket of the Great Zucchini, a local DC children's entertainer who's pulling down income in the low six figures.

Essentially, it's in their interest for the "privileged plutocratic class" to continue to prosper. Are these individuals "getting a cut," "blinded by the sideshow," or simply using their talents to earn a living?


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 3 March 2006 - 11:18am
Like a Rolling Stone
You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns

When they all come down and did tricks for you

You never understood that it ain't no good

You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you

You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat

Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat

Ain't it hard when you discover that

He really wasn't where it's at

After he took from you everything he could steal.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 3 March 2006 - 11:26am
Gathering some serious moss ...

So, what is Dylan's net worth these days, anyway?


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 3 March 2006 - 11:30am
Not Worth

Dylan's protesting paid off. Are you comparing him to Kos?

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 3 March 2006 - 4:19pm
So bar mitzvahs happen because of governmental largess?

I would think that your brother might benefit more directly if he were paying less taxes rather than waiting for the drool to drop from the wealthy. The weddings will happen anyway. And servicing the rich is hardly a solid plan for rebuilding the middle class. For every Great Zucchini there are dozens of little beets and pickles working two jobs just to stay afloat below the poverty line, living off of public assistance because the plutarchs declare from their Lear jets that they can't afford to raise the minimum wage.

I'm not big on redistribution, but if you're going to do it, I think it makes sense to do a Robin Hood and not a Sheriff of Nottingham.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 3 March 2006 - 12:08pm
so who's the new obnoxious prick?


bayprairie's picture
Posted by bayprairie on 3 March 2006 - 4:23am
Good to Meet You, Too

Not much for manners or civility, are you? Is your use of the word "prick" a Freudian, anti-male thing, or is it a more generic perjorative you use for all those persons of either sex whose points of view differ from your own? Perhaps today's moodiness is a more biologically based phenomenon?

Ah well, nobody really believed all that stuff above about diversity anyway.

Bat One's picture
Posted by Bat One (not verified) on 3 March 2006 - 8:19am
i knew when i woke up...

you'd have played the civility card. i find it laughable that the most incivil asswipes always complain about the lack of civility.

deal with it, prick.

hollow males such as yourself should learn a few new tricks. your comments on this blog (up to my comment last night) defined incivility and fucktard partisanship.

and yet you mewl, wimplike, when called on the monkeyshit you throw at the walls.

bayprairie's picture
Posted by bayprairie on 3 March 2006 - 1:31pm
The issue was Reagan's New Deal and the New American Ideaology

And here you see it in action - either consciously or simply because the individual might not be old enough to vividly remember the Presidents before Reagan.

For example, Reagan blamed Carter for the energy crisis and hyperinflation. But it was Nixon (later Ford) who had been in office for eight years. OPEC first flexed its muscles during the Republicans and the first gas lines happened during Nixon. That's when the 55 mile per hour speed limit happened. That's when we went to year round daylight savings time.

It was Ford who introduced the WIN-button. A lapel button that meant "Whip Inflation Now." The button didn't make it to the next Press Conference and no one wore them.

Carter inherited this mess and Reagan blamed it on the Democrats and while Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) bares a great deal of criticism for not ending the Vietnam War, Nixon continued it throughout his first term, trying to "win" it, until he did what had been obvious to everyone since we went "clean for Gene," (Eugene McCarthy).

Recall the times - from history books and video. The American President is assassinated. Martin Luther King is assassinated. Robert Kennedy, who may well have won the 1968 race, is assassinated. George Wallace, the Southern splinter party (Dixiecrat) is shot and spends the rest of his days in a wheel chair. OPEC sends people into gas lines. Energy prices spike. The Vietnam War drains our treasure. Hundreds of boys come back every day in body bags from South East Asia. Nixon unilaterally bombs Cambodia. There is Watergate. The Republican President resigns - humiliated - "what did the President know, and when did he know it?" Ford pardons Nixon. Hyperinflation roars out of control.

Carter steps in.

Reagan says "it's Carter's fault!"

The hostages are held by the Ayatollah and Carter appears weak.

Reagan says, "I'll be strong." The people are desperate for action.

Reagan steps in.

Bat One has forgotten, or never lived through those times, and believes Reagan's assertion.

There are those of us who are old enough to remember these terrible times and it was hardly the lone Democrat in 1976 who bears the full responsibility.

We won't mention Iran-Contra. "What did the President forget and when did he forget it?" Or the Savings and Loan collapse. Corruption and dirty-deals.

The big tent? More like the big taint.

Yet Reagan made his sale. He gave something to the American people, and that was the feeling that America was powerful. We were going back to a golden age.

He was believed.

The anti-Carter comments endure as does the Reagan Myth.

Like him or not, it was done masterfully.

Now we are slaves to that myth.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 3 March 2006 - 9:01am
The Carter Years

I freely admit to not being aware, really, of politics in the Carter years, considering they started a mere year after my birth. But still, a few things occur to me:

* On reflection, Carter seems to have been occupied with doing good, whether by saving energy with solar panels and wood stoves, brokering peace at Camp David, or promoting democracy abroad. While doing good is certainly noble, I argue that it is not always the soundest basis for domestic or foreign policy, which demands a certain pragmatism that I believe Carter lacked.

* Apropos to our discussion earlier here, the 1980 election featured 51 percent of the popular vote for Reagan and 41 percent for Carter ... sending 7 percent of the vote to John Anderson ... which seems indicative of a less-than-happy 1980 electorate.


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 3 March 2006 - 9:34am
Actually not

This was not about "doing good" in the sense of being Quixotic. The world continues to face the fact the petroleum reserves are limited and the cost of getting at the existing reserves is getting more expensive - either in real costs or in hidden costs we'll pass onto the next generation.

Self-sufficiency in energy was a concept embraced by both the Republicans and the Democrats - solar, geothermal, wind, hydro, bio, and so-on.

I remember the speech to the nation where Carter leveled with the American people - that at one point we are just gonna run outa gas and we should be making plans.

In 2006 gasoline is up to about $3.00/gallon - it was about 19 cents/gallon under Johnson, and was about 75 cents/gallon under Ford/Carter.

Carter said, as I recall, "The energy crisis is real." The howls went up. This was not good news.

Ann Coulter tells us that the United States has every right to invade countries in the Middle East (and elsewhere?) ... and why? To get oil. She says, "it's OUR oil." Well, that's certainly one energy policy, a sorts of reverse Robin Hood, but even that will eventually hit the wall.

Yes, this is pragmatic sanction, but what will be do when we've pumped all the oil there is?

What happened to the Department of Energy? Replaced by a Drug Tsar post.

What we got under Reagan was the ostrich philosophy - put your head in the sand and look for oil.

Carter broke the news and shot the "messenger" and killed the policies that would have led to alternative technologies.

I recall Ford, I think, who said that in 16 months (something like that) the United States built an atomic bomb - from idea to actuality. Could we not put this kind of focus into energy?

We have delayed paying the price. Whether it proves cheaper in the future or more costly, history will judge.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 3 March 2006 - 10:35am
well said

and it's funny how Bat One and his ilk attack a man who tried to live out his faith by trying to get the country to live within its means, tried to get Americans to act like stewards, rather than parasites, on the land, a President who tried to treat the citizenry like adults. Instead, they celebrate a spendthrift hollywood playboy and his wife, known thoughout that industry for her skills on the casting coach, advising her President-husband after consulting her astrologer. He was an evil and manipulative racist who fanned the flames of racism in this country to attain power. He cleared the way for the monstrous regime in power now.

Little boy, quit listening to Rush and go read some fucking history that isn't published by Regnery Press.

Madman in the Marketplace's picture
Posted by Madman in the M... on 3 March 2006 - 10:04am


In the mutual fund business, isn't it better to do some investigation before making foward-looking statements? Just, you know, to make sure you aren't working from assumptions you would not have made if you had a few facts at your disposal?


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 3 March 2006 - 11:33am
seeing as in how

we seem to be arguing over history with people who wasn't there and don't seem to have bothered to learn anything first ... I think I'm doing just fine. Should I hire private detectives and investigate the schooling of every snot-nosed young center-right libertarian "democrat" who pops into one of these threads to regurgitate right-wing talking points?

Madman in the Marketplace's picture
Posted by Madman in the M... on 3 March 2006 - 12:27pm
Fish in a Barrel

PW, Thank you for your forbearance. I know it's been a temptation to respond, and I appreciate the fact that you did not. I'll take it from here. Now, then,

Madman, Most people with any training, experience, and of course, sense, know better than to take potshots at a target of which they know nothing. Even shooting at one's own foot, as I noted earlier, is most ill-advised when the foot is firmly planted in one's own mouth. In your case, that advice is still valid, even though rationalization is decidedly back-handed. Clearly, for you, that foot is the much more valuable target. Your physical mobility being much more important than any sort of intellectual dexterity. Still, the foot itself does present a problem. I suggest a much smaller appendage for your self-inflicted target practice. I'm quite sure you'll miss it even less than you would the foot.

Finally, let me also suggest a commensurately small caliber weapon (pun intended). Much more accurate at a real close range.

Bat One's picture
Posted by Bat One (not verified) on 3 March 2006 - 2:34pm
that was impressive

you can shut that window open to the online thesaurus you use now.

I find it interesting, however, that you've not responded to people setting you straight on your historical innacuracies, and I too find it funny that you'll whine about being attacked even though nearly every comment you post is dripping w/ contempt and back-handed swipes.

You are what you regurgitate, and you regurgitate the same tired bullshit talking points spewed by every idiot who's spent too much time absorbing the bullshit put out by the right-wing noise machine. Again, please, for your own good, go to the library and check out some history books. Learn something, fer chrissakes.

Madman in the Marketplace's picture
Posted by Madman in the M... on 3 March 2006 - 3:02pm
Madman, hush!

You'll end up biasing his instructor's evaluation of this round.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 3 March 2006 - 3:07pm
By Way of Introduction

Madman, I know little enough about you, other than the fact that you are the personificaion of the notion that the two least common things in life are common sense and common courtesy (Are you listening, "Bayprairie"?) Of me, clearly, you know even less. Let me fix that for you.

I am from the very front end of the baby boomer generation. One of my more prized possession is a 1952 "I Like Ike" button. I remember watching Edward R. Murrow's "You Are There" and "See It Now" programs, along with the so-called "Army/McCarthy" hearings on a black and white TV in the mid 1950's. As a teenager, I was a volunteer worker for the Kennedy campaign in a decidedly Republican suburb of NYC, and I was delighted that he won the 1960 election, despite the vote fraud in Chicago, Louisiana, and Texas.

I'm a Vietnam veteran, two tours in-country. My medals and my discharge papers were issued only once. My undergraduate degree is in business with minors in finance and economics. My Masters is also in Business. I own and operate two companies, both in the area of finance.

I am (mostly) a Christian, although I take whatever wisdom I can find from whatever source. I am a husband, a father, a stepfather, and a diligent son to my parents, both of whom are still living.

I am an inveterate reader, thinker, and teacher. I have an inordinately good memory, though not nearly the photographic memory of my father.

I will be the first one to admit that there is ever so much that I don't know. And for the most part, I would rather admit to what I don't know, than make a fool of myself. But on those rare occasions when I talk about a subject and don't know quite what it is I'm talking about, it would take a good deal more intelligence than what you've managed to muster here to catch me at it.

I would be only too happy to discuss contemporary issues intelligently, as PW can well attest. However, I rightly expect a modicum of intelligent return on my investment, and from what I see here, your account is already substantially overdrawn.

PS Jimmy Carter may well have meant merely to "live out his faith" as you put it, although that hardly explains the sheer arrogance of wanting the job in the first place. But as in so many other areas in life, good intentions are not the measure of success. Carter's was the most abysmally failed presidency of this century, if not in our entire history.

Bat One's picture
Posted by Bat One (not verified) on 3 March 2006 - 3:22pm
for an old man

you sure comment like a snot-nosed "libertarian" kossack, and all I can judge you by is the contentless crap you've posted.

Carter, for all his faults (and he had plenty), at least didn't spew fairy tales and made-up bullshit strawmen to obtain office. I have no love for Carter, just as I have little for Clinton. They are both part of the slide toward a fucked up reincarnation of the Confederacy that this country has been headed toward. However, he does deserve to be described accurately, and not just the picture of his Presidency as distorted by Republican and Club for Growth agit-prop.

I feel no great need to be "courteous" to trolls who type out tired canards that I can go elsewhere and read. It bores me. You bore me. I find it no suprise that you're a middle aged businessman with the same selfish read on history and politics that 25 year old fratboys have. Judging solely by what you've written here, you see things through the gauzy lenses of your own selfish POV.

As for me, I'm a nasty, angry "blank generation" underachiever with little patience for what this country has come to represent. I completed my degree with a double major in Physics and Philosophy with a minor in Mathematics, and managed several stores afterward while doing some freelance writing on the side. I served in no war, and wouldn't have lasted through boot camp anyway because I'm really lousy at submitting to bullies. There's a lot I don't know, but I find as I educate myself, and as I work toward a new career as a paralegal, and hopefully after that a lawyer, that the only rational way to go is to the left.

There is no "discussing contemporary issues intelligently" with most people, and especially people like you, because you will first demand that others accept YOUR definitions, YOUR terms of debate and that the "debate" happen within the well-worn walls of contemporary American "conventional wisdom". I do find it interesting that every other week or so another pair of lecturing center-right assholes come storming into one thread or another here demanding that others "respect" their Chris Matthews imitations.

Madman in the Marketplace's picture
Posted by Madman in the M... on 3 March 2006 - 4:05pm

"There is no "discussing contemporary issues intelligently" with most people, and especially people like you, because you will first demand that others accept YOUR definitions, YOUR terms of debate..."

I have diligently re-read my posts above, and I find no demands of any sort. Shimoda was right after all. Still, I note that although I have made no demands at all, still you have managed to accede... perhaps in spite of yourself. Above you tantrum refers to me as first, a "little boy" and then a "snot-nosed young center-right libertarian 'Democrat'." Now, according to you, I'm an "Old Man." So without even trying, I have managed to get you to correct your virulent ageism. That's progress. And with no effort at all.

Now if only we could do something about your diction, your grammar, your spelling, and that malignant chip on your shoulder. Come to think of it, if you could manage to figure a way for that chip to vote, you might just offset the fact that your vile demeanor and noxious ideology continue to turn off so many of those very moderate, centrist voters you would need to have any real chance at winning an election.

Bat One's picture
Posted by Bat One (not verified) on 3 March 2006 - 5:11pm
I'm still wondering

...if you're ever going to get to the topic of this thread, as laid out by Matsu's initial post, or if you're going to keep playing the "blame game." So far you're batting zero.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 3 March 2006 - 5:35pm
let's see, you wrote:

"Whatever are you talking about?"

Nope, no confrontation or insult there.

"I suppose I should admire the nerve of someone who trumpets the economic accomplishments of the Carter presidency. Either that, or write it off as a noxious cross between hyper-partisanship and willful ignorance."

MG replied to this with actual numbers of the vairous deficits under the various Presidents, which you of course ignored.

Your skill with the electronic scissors and glue-stick is admirable. It truly is.

You, of course, ignore that the source of the graph is clearly visible on it, the White House OMB. Then, of course, you try to change the terms of the debate by demanding we follow YOUR rules: First, how about a chart relating budget deficit/surplus numbers as a percent of overall GDP?

... ignoring the context of what she had posted.

Perhaps today's moodiness is a more biologically based phenomenon?

I'll just let that one sit there.

So go ahead, have your fun trolling. Ignore the substance of the original post, as well as every reply to you and your buddy's comments. Whine about how uncivil we are, and by all means "frighten" me with how I'm scaring off the NASCAR fans. Like I give a shit about the feelings of the Hallmark Nation. I'm not a politician. I don't advise any politicians. I'm not running for anything, and if I "turn off" people like you, then I'm doing something right. People like you are destroying this country, turning it into an armed camp of resentful consumers whizzing past one another in inefficient cars run on increasingly expensive fuel out to your little cracker box houses.

The plain fact of the matter is that your "moderate, centrist voters" are a small segment of the citizenry. There are far more people living in increasing desperation and disgust with the two parties that people like you have elevated to power.

Oh, and looking back, my grammer and spelling look just fine for hastily typed comments on a blog, but one can always count on a pushy asshole like you to fall back on insults about spelling when you've got nothing real to say.

Madman in the Marketplace's picture
Posted by Madman in the M... on 3 March 2006 - 6:22pm


Now that we've addressed your questions about my age, experience, and reading habits, I'd like to ask one of you. What is the significance of your screen name? As I recall (with ease) Matsu and Quemoy are the names of two islands located in the Straights of Formosa, between Taiwan and Fukien province of mainland China. They were the main focus of the foreign policy debate between JFK and Nixon during the 1960 Presidential campaign, there being little else that the two could publicly find to disagree on. (According to both White and Sorenson, Kennedy had been briefed on the planned Cuban invasion, but chose not to debate it publicly.)

I was merely curious if there was a relationship. It is an uncommon name, and the islands themselves have not been publicly heard of since those 1960 debates.

Bat One's picture
Posted by Bat One (not verified) on 3 March 2006 - 3:43pm
About that Catering

I've been chewing over the celebrity/noncelebrity/catering/noncatering question in my head for a few hours now. Little to crunchy, actually. Do we need a better caterer?

But here's what I've come up with. Right now, the Democratic Party is in a state of flux. Its leadership has proven increasingly ineffective in its role political role and in its governing role. Moreover, the Democratic Party has no leader. That is, nobody is really trying to exercis leadership, even though it is desperately needed. Or, as a former co-worker of mine once put it, "I hate the Republicans, but the Democrats need to get their heads out of their asses."

With this leadership vacuum at the top, I think we see a lot of factions vying for control over the party apparatus and identity, whether that be the extreme-yet-ruthlessly-pragmatic Kos faction, the "not many of us left, are there?" DLC faction, the "We've had our rabies shots! Honest!" anarchist faction, the "We care, dammit!" celebrity faction, or any of the other groups that call the Democratic Party home.

As Matsu pointed out, nobody really wants to offend anybody else in the conglomeration called the Democratic coalition, so you end up with various peopel who have authority/clout/credibility, or who are clothed in authority/clout/credibility by others.

Which, I think, is where we start going in circles with the Michael Moore/Cindy Sheehan argument. I claim that they're being given legitimacy by the Democratic Party, when in reality they're being given legitimacy only by one (or more) of the various factions jockeying for power and influence on the left.

Which induces a really, really splitting headache and makes me yearn for the days of political machines and congressman who were considered honest if once they were bought, they stayed bought. A much more corrupt system, to be sure, but perhaps less annoying than the current one.


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 3 March 2006 - 10:25am
(Snort.) "RADS ?"

"Rabid Anarchist Democrats ?" Catchy. However, I'm afraid all this kind of prattling proves is that pennywit wouldn't know an actual Anarchist if he/she fell over one. I suspect that "Anarchist" is simply his/her catchphrase for anyone to the Left of Kos or Joe Biden.

It's tough to have a real debate with a person who doesn't even understand the terms in his/her own argument. It would be like trying to get your TV weather info from someone who kept pointing to a hurricane and calling it a drought, or who kept pointing to Texas and calling it Quebec.

But here's one hint: You won't find any actual Anarchists in the DP's bowels. Anarchists don't do political parties.

alsis39.5's picture
Posted by alsis39.5 (not verified) on 3 March 2006 - 11:06am
Hyperbole Headaches


If you review some of my comments in this thread, you might notice that I enjoy a bit of freewheeling hyperbole. Of course I don't thin the anarchists are in the Democratic Party. They're at home making fondue. After all, they're the only political movement with its own cookbook ...


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 3 March 2006 - 11:13am
Anarchists have cookbooks?

I would think having precise measures would be too controversial in that crowd. Tho I suppose everything could be done with a "handful" of this and a "dash" of that, with just a "pinch" of the other. :p

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 3 March 2006 - 12:02pm
Back to history books

anarchists -> Communists/Reds -> terrorists

1880 - 1914 -> 1917 - 1995 -> Today

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 3 March 2006 - 11:21am
They Shoot Salads, Don't They ?

Not only do Anarchists have cookbooks, they have coffee shops and cafes. One of the local ones had a showing of my pics a couple of years ago. Nice people.

I would love to run my business as a "boss-free" organization and still get it to break even or produce a profit. I really need to head over to the Redbird, Back To Back or to the Red and Black one of these days and mine a little Anarchist wisdom one of these days.

At any rate, my point stands. Bad understanding of definitions = Zero chance of fruitful discussion.

alsis39.5's picture
Posted by alsis39.5 (not verified) on 3 March 2006 - 1:11pm
Back to the thesis ...

OK ... my humorous comments about anarchists didn't go over well.

Still, alsis ... do you think my overall analysis is correct or incorrect? Does the Democratic Party suffer from a lack of leadership?


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 3 March 2006 - 7:54pm
No, the Democrats have strong leadership

...leading them straight across the plains of mediocrity and right over the precipice into defeat, irrelevance and obscurity.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 3 March 2006 - 8:07pm
I Have To Agree With MG

The Demo leadership is far from spineless. They stand up for their beliefs, which seem to be limited to embracing nothing but their own right to the power and perks they are hell-bent on denying to their base.

Fuck 'em. I just hope that the increasing rumblings of fury coming from the base are still strong in October and November. It gets kind of dull being the voice crying out in the wilderness after six-odd years, let me tell you...

alsis39.5's picture
Posted by alsis39.5 (not verified) on 4 March 2006 - 12:43am