« Getting personal | Main | Objectively pro- »

The power of the subjunctive mood

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday March 16, 2006 09:28 PM

Reading some recent comments here, I'm struck -- not for the first time -- by the importance of "would have" thinking for Democrats. Gore "would not" have attacked Iraq (even after September 11) . Kerry "would not" have appointed Roberts, or Alito.

On the other hand -- who knew that Clinton "would have" bombed the crap out of Serbia, or made Janet Reno his Attorney General, or or or...

Well, maybe we "should have" known. But still. "Would have" or "would not have" seems a pretty feeble argument, all in all. If you look at what Clinton actually did do in office -- or even at what Gore and Kerry said they "would do" if they got into office -- then the subjunctive advantages of the Democrats seem a little, well... ghostly? Phantasmagorical?

Comments (29)

J. Alva Scruggs:

In the last five years, the rhetorical style and ideation of the Democratic supporters has become impossible to substantially differentiate from that of the Republicans. The one exception: the Republicans triangulate against the blatant extremists of their nominal ideology, but let them in the parlor, whereas the Democrats eagerly toss out the people who act on the convictions the Democrats claim to have.

The Dem supporters use the same "objectively pro-" construction as the Reps. They fearmonger and then blame the victims of their triangulation when their own representatives let them down -- just as the Republicans do. They'll use a single benchmark shamelessly out of context and then claim it supports the entirety of their argument. When pressed, they'll cry about how the "loony left" makes them look bad, as conscious as Mrs. Grundy of appearances over substance.

The majority of them have achieved status of unpaid three card monte shills, with a few of the more aggressive getting a penny or two on the dollar from the dealer. The most wretched of them support a draft as a means of ensuring an equality of misery in the wars they know will be initiated, either led or in collusion, by the party leadership.

The best of them glumly trudge to the polls and hope that the worst doesn't come to pass from their vote, but they'll make no concerted effort to hold their representatives accountable beyond a nagging email or two.


OK, Michael, let's take it to actual cases.

Income for the poorest of the poor DID go up under Clinton.

Clinton DID reverse the gag order.

Bush DID reinstate the gag order.

Incomes for the poorest DID go down under Reagan, Bush the first, and Bush the 2nd.

Bush DID appoint Alito and Roberts and the Republicans DID approve them 100%, just like they SAID they would.

Do you really take orders from Karl Rove, and refuse to hold Republicans accountable for anything, or is it just the funny coincidence of sharing the same goal, namely, defeating Democrats and helping Republicans get elected?

I don't expect you to answer that. Republicans and their allies don't believe in accountability for themselves. Only for Democrats.

White Supremacist/Rovian Operative formerly known as Tim D:

I guess you guys were shocked and seriously disillusioned to find out that I am a white supremacist and Rovian operative. And here this whole time you thought I was one of you guys! Well, FOOLED YOU!


Guys, at the risk of sounding like a cocky asshole, I would like to point out that I already demolished John over at Berube's blog. I posted three fact filled (all linked of course) comments in a row where I address all of his questions and distortions - especially in regard to Clintonomics, Clinton foreign policy, Clinton labor policy, Nader's run in 2004, etc. I won't bother to repost it all here, so you'll have to go see for yourself.

John's not interested - if you couldn't tell already - in reasoned dialogue. He just wants to agitate and he's doing a good job (and he wonders why I didn't invite him over here). Encountering people like him really does leave me with a profound sense of hopelessness...

By the way, J Alva, in his book Contours of Descent , Robert Pollin shows that those Clinton era economic statistics need to be understood in the proper contexts (as does Doug Henwood in his book After the New Economy). Back during the 2004 election, Greg Bates, founding publisher of Common Courage Press, wrote a piece for CounterPunch about Clintomics (and by extension, Kerrynomics) using data from Pollin's book. You can find that piece here.


One last Did and then I'm done.

Under Bush, America's international reputation DID plummet. Why does the opinion of the majority of the people of the world mean nothing to you? I mean that question in all sincerity.

I'd have more respect for you if there were a movement here toward building a 3rd party. But I just see weak complaining and weak thinking, feel-good pseudo-politics for people who feel bad. I don't blame you for feeling bad. But voting is not therapy, it's not about your feelings. It's about taking responsibility for the world you live in. And right now, especially since I don't see you proposing any alternative, that means choosing between flawed choices.

Welcome to being human.

Note the smug air of superiority John assumes when deigning to deal with us lowly 3rd party pesants. It must relieve a lot of cognitive dissonance for him to explain the "realities" of politics to himself...er...us.

Of course, what it really lets us know is he's just as spineless as his party. But don't let on we know what a jellyfish he is...


J. Alva Scruggs:

Tim D, I knew you were a Rovian operative (can anybody hear his ghastly , ghostly chuckle?) from the moment we exchanged the secret handshake and sealed our evil compact with the blood of a Democratic baby.

Thanks for the link. I've read Henwood's book, but summarizing such things is not my strong suit. I haven't read Pollin's, so thanks for that too.

Oh, hell, Tim. Why don't you just come clean ? You're actually Ralph himself, aren't you ? Look, I'm sorry about your Mom and everything, but hell, I sent you that princely ten bucks to retire your campaign debt last year and I NEVER got my refrigerator magnet. How can you be so evil and duplicitous ?

Seriously, though. I'm sorry that having john right in the playground here was such a depressing experience for you. I just figured that I'd see if he actually had the stones to try the same old rap in a space where nobody would have his back. Give him some credit. Not only was he game, his rap actually got even more ridiculous than it was in his usual turf. To me, the best parts now consist of A)The willful ignoring of those who actually are working to build alternative political parties accompanied by B) the culpability of his own party in keeping such construction from happening .

I like the wrinkle of on one hand insisting that of course the U.S. has always been a bloody empire, but under Bush, it's our *reputation* that's suffered the most. How's that for a slip-up ? Turns out that being a bloody empire is a-ok with John, if you can put enough of a sugar-coating on it to lull the masses overseas into thinking that you're really a nice guy. However painful our precious public fascade is overseas, it may be healthier for everyone in the long term to have foreign nations see us as we really are. Since Demos like the ones in John's stable aren't interested in doing anything to curb the worst excesses of the bloody empire, our main hope is that our pissed off former allies in Europe and elsewhere may succeed in unifying to restrain us.

Sure, it looks bad when we're vacationing in Paris or wherever. Then again, most of us don't have the $$$ to travel overseas anyway, having blown it all on frivolities like health insurance and a few pairs of socks at Target.

I hate to break it to you john (well really-no I don't, but I'm attempting probably futilely to be polite), but in Stop Me Before I Vote Again there's a whole chapter on solutions.

One of the preconditions for a solution is making people aware of the problem-and thinking such as yours which rewards the Democrats for constantly going along with the Republicans' agenda (if not agreeing with it openly in cases such as Lieberman) is a component of that problem.


The "[Democratic candidate] would not have done X" arguments are the last snarls of the cornered lesser-evil voter.

Typically, this species sees Voting through a strange prism, inflating it with an importance beyond itself, to the detriment of other kinds of action ("It's about taking responsibility for the world you live in.").

Now, I don't have a conceptual problem with lesser-evil'ism in the voting booth -- I feel it's the only kind of voting I'm able to practice in most elections.

No, my problem is with the calculus itself. Noam Chomsky was a lesser-evil'er in 2004, essentially saying that one must vote Kerry, because it would make a difference at the margins for the domestic unprivileged class. If you voted for Nader in a state where the contest between Kerry and Bush was going to be close, Chomsky argued, then you were essentially saying that you don't care about the poor or unprivileged masses who'd unarguably be worse off under Bush.

That's fine Noam, I thought, and you're right about Bush v. Kerry domestically. But what about US impact on the world? Kerry was making noises on Iraq that put him to the right of Bush -- he was going to "hunt and kill," he was going to add troops, damnit.

So, to accept Chomsky's calculus, either you had to disbelieve Kerry's statements on Iraq, or you had to believe that the less-negative domestic impact of a Kerry presidency outweighed the potentially more-negative foreign impact telegraphed by Kerry's overt warmongering.

So, what I'm saying is, it's really impossibly hard to figure out which candidate represents a lesser evil these days, what with one genuine representative of Asmodeus and the other trying his[sic] best to look the part too.


tim d :

guys like our john here are at least as far as i'm concerned a welcome breeze

my hero milton

said what needs saying on this open debate

and how our edge can be sharpened by it

spare not
but exclude not

is my motto

john has not degenerated to snarkery and even that is worth the relief from
a spate of self seriousness

certitude moral vanity

ahh i'll shut up

before i morph into a poor relative of john bunyon

This was a brilliant blog posting. When liberal apologists for the Democrats end up claiming some sort of clairvoyant knowledge about what the Democrats "would have done", they clearly are left with nothing to justify their position. We know that the Democrats are supporters of corporate interests, imperialism and war--Clinton, Kerry and leading Democrats in Congress have proved this.


Sorry, I said I was leaving, but I just can't quit you.

Tim D, I've tried to make it clear, I agree with the critique of the worst Democrats. Over at Berube's blog you told me nothing I wasn't already aware of.

What nobody here has done is:

1) shown me how Bush isn't a lot worse. Half's comment above makes a cogent argument that Kerry would have been worse internationally, but I just don't buy it, because it defies all the historical (as opposed to rhetorical) evidence. Clinton DID NOT deliberately appoint incompetent ideologues to positions of importance. He DID NOT ignore all the advice of his State Dept. & military when making his decisions. Bush DID these things. As a result, America's international reputation DID plummet. Kerry made very ugly hawkish noises, and he probably would indeed have been horrendous on some things, but it really defies sensible thinking that he WOULD have (ah, there's that dreaded subjunctive, but it's your case I'm taking up here) worsened America's international reputation.

2) Shown me how helping Republicans get elected, a STATED GOAL of Michael's here and a DE FACTO GOAL of Nader's, does not actually make things worse; or, shown me how that ACTUAL WORSE would someday maybe make things BETTER. (Ah, there's that subjunctive, but again, it's yours.) DoubleHelix, I'm glad you have solutions. Please send me a link; I'll check it out; a brief summary would be great too. When I ask a question and you criticize me for not having read everything you've read, that's not exactly helpful. Of course I haven't read everything you've read, and vice versa.


Right. Look at how many of them showed up for the Israeli right wing lovefest (or should that be hatefest) in terms of the last AIPAC conference.

The other trouble with Chomsky's calculus is that it leaves those of us with ever-decreasing amounts of economic privilege having nothing meaningful with which to halt our own downfall. There is nothing for us to do but throw what we have on the two-party bonfire until we run out of fuel. I guess after we finally descend to the point where we, too, are on the very edge of the margins, we will be allowed to-- what ? Riot ? Go live in some future debtor's prison ? Look for a job in Mexico ?

It just doesn't make any sense to demand that those with any privilege, no matter how trivial, let both parties immolate what we have in some ever-more-futile attempt to save those with no privilege at all.


Half's comment above makes a cogent argument that Kerry would have been worse internationally, says john.

john: Boy, you don't read too good do you?

I didn't make any argument that Kerry 'would have been' worse, much less a 'cogent' one.

I am simply saying that, contra Chomsky, I didn't see it as cut-and-dried that the impact of a Kerry presidency on human beings was going to be better than that of a second Bush term. I pointed to Kerry's undeniable hawkishness as troubling me in making that call. That's not an argument at all about what Kerry 'would have done.'

My argument is more like this: you think you can tell, 'clearly,' which candidate will be worse? You're kidding yourself.

I didn't live in a 'close' state -- I voted for Nader. Had I lived in a close state, I would've had a real decision to make. That would not have been an easy or clear decision at all, you and Chomsky notwithstanding.

And again, this goes back to my (ignored) point that Voting has been elevated to an undeserved status. Without denigrating those who are trying to ensure that our votes 'are being counted' -- or those who are trying to better our electoral processes -- it's really all the other non-voting citizen-action stuff that's our bigger problem -- well, that, corporate personhood and our state religion, 'freemarketism.'

Responding to john again:

1) shown me how Bush isn't a lot worse. Half's comment above makes a cogent argument that Kerry would have been worse internationally, but I just don't buy it, because it defies all the historical (as opposed to rhetorical) evidence. Clinton DID NOT deliberately appoint incompetent ideologues to positions of importance. He DID NOT ignore all the advice of his State Dept. & military when making his decisions. Bush DID these things. As a result, America's international reputation DID plummet. Kerry made very ugly hawkish noises, and he probably would indeed have been horrendous on some things, but it really defies sensible thinking that he WOULD have (ah, there's that dreaded subjunctive, but it's your case I'm taking up here) worsened America's international reputation.

The actual situation is a more complicated than that, though. Worse does not make the Democrats good; furthermore, much of the reason why Bush is so bad is because he's had so little in the way of substantive opposition from the Democrats. Rewarding the Democrats for doing nothing just encourages them to keep on doing nothing.

Furthermore, attempting to reform them from within will fail for the following reasons:

1) It is too difficult to throw out politicians that are blatantly undermining the party itself by any objective standard.

Zell Miller (and several other Democrats, such as Ed Koch) publically endorsed Bush at the expense of Kerry during the 2004 election. By any objective standard this was near-suicidal for the party as a whole-yet nothing was done about them. In fact, it's even worse than that because only liberals or leftists within the Democratic Party (or, in general, anyone outside of the central dogma) get lambasted or pushed down, while conservative members of the party can do anything they want even if it makes the party worse.

2) Elected politicians have too much control over the way the party does business, which means that they'll undercut anyone that might change things for the betterment of everyone else. This is particularly true as far as the nominating process is concerned, where they get to act as 'superdelegates' which allows them to basically act as a swing bloc to prevent anything they dislike. Additionally, as was demonstrated with Hackett, they can simply use their control over donors to try and kneecap candidates they don't like.

You talk a lot about the horrible things that Bush has done-but at the same time, many Democrats were and still are willing to go along with it regardless of what their constituents say, think, or do. I see no better solution than their utter abandonment.

2) Shown me how helping Republicans get elected, a STATED GOAL of Michael's here and a DE FACTO GOAL of Nader's, does not actually make things worse; or, shown me how that ACTUAL WORSE would someday maybe make things BETTER. (Ah, there's that subjunctive, but again, it's yours.)

For starters, the fact that opposition has constantly been funneled into the Democrats, who fritter away every single opportunity, prevents that opposition from ever developing into something that could ever work.

Look elsewhere in the world.

There are rough analogues politically to Bush elsewhere-but the commonality that all of their opposition shares is that they aren't chronically timid and they don't look endlessly for ways to sell out their own constituents.

That's what we need.

That's what we're not getting from the Democrats.

In fact, Kerry asked Zapatero in Spain, who promised to withdraw from Iraq after the Spanish train station bombing, to basically act just like an American politician and break his word to the people that elected him in order to uphold the occupation.

DoubleHelix, I'm glad you have solutions. Please send me a link; I'll check it out; a brief summary would be great too. When I ask a question and you criticize me for not having read everything you've read, that's not exactly helpful. Of course I haven't read everything you've read, and vice versa.


Here's one link I'm referring to. I'll find more references.


Well I like debate as much as the next political junkie, and I agree it is
good to have a dissenting voice or opinion every once in a while as to prevent this place from turning into an echo chamber of sorts, but John has resorted to the most crass and inane arguments that are not even worthy of refuting. He doesn't even present any facts or statistics to corroborate his spurious claims. It's only the power of his twisted, delusional convictions (emenating from years of disappointment and frustration over Democratic Party betrayals, no doubt) that seem to propel his endless series of non sequiturs.

But allow me to address one of his points, which is a good one, albeit deviating sharply from his intention for it:

"It's about taking responsibility for the world you live in."

One thing that attracts me to the left, especially the radical, socialist left, is that there is strong sense of internationalism. That is, there is a sense that we have a duty to fight for the well-being and rights of those outside our borders as well as inside, since their well-being is inextricably bound up with our own. I think Martin Luther King Jr. said something to the effect of "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Global poverty and inequality isn't just a moral outrage, it's a genuine threat to the lives of people everywhere as Mike Davis points out in an interview with Alan Maass. Having these massive ghettos stretching over vast expanses of the "Global South" is a recipe for disaster, for obvious reasons. Davis states, "1 billion people [are] living in slums in the cities of the South--unparalleled concentrations of poor people in unsanitary conditions, many of them with immune system disorders. It’s hard to imagine a more nightmarish disease scenario."

Aside from that, while so many people are living in penury in the Third World, it increases the global capitalist oligarchs' opportunities for exploitation and has a correlative effect of depressing the wages and deteriorating the working conditions of people all over the world. Michael Parenti wrote a provocative essay for CovertAction Quarterly back in 2002 which connects the fall of Communism with the global rollback of the rights and gains of workers everywhere that we saw throughout the 90s and which continues today unabated at breakneck speed.

However, global poverty and injustice is being exacerbated, if not institutionalized by institutions and agreements which Clinton openly and vociferously supported during his two terms; i.e. NAFTA, WTO, IMF, the World Bank, etc. I had absolutely no reason to believe that Kerry or Gore would have done it differently – (while we’re on the subject of poverty, Gore, as noted by Stephen Pimpare in his book The New Victorians,, was a key player in getting Clinton’s vicious welfare reform passed, which led to sharp increases in child poverty in the U.S. as Paul Street pointed out in a speech at the Work, Welfare and Families Annual Summit on Low-Income Families).

Global poverty and suffering did not decrease under Clinton (and we know it increased markedly in Iraq as he specifically intended) and we also know that they would not have decreased under a Gore or Kerry administration, given the irrefragable fact that they received (and still receive) millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the very industries and oligarchs who profit from this system (Ralph Nader pointed out during his debate with Howard Dean that Bush and Kerry's top 10 donors were more or less the same companies - primarily the banking and finance moguls).

Democrats and Republicans are indistinguishable in their desire to maintain the U.S.'s position as the world's economic core and to keep the countries of Africa, Asia and Central/South America in the periphery, functioning as extraction economies. (I still find Immanuel Wallerstein's World Systems Theory to be the best lens through which one can properly examine the capitalist system).

Aside: Consistent with Michael and JSP's Orthrian theory, one great example of how the Democrats actively promote their own demise, as well as the demise of informed citizenship, was demonstrated by John Kerry's active support for the further monopolization of the telecommunications industry
( his biggest donor during the 2004 campaign). Ironically, I still read tons of articles by liberals that decry the increasingly "right-wing" orientation
of the media...



Sorry, this is going to be a repeat of other comments, but you're such a tiresome pedantic condescending liar that I feel the need.

Fact: The United States's international reputation plummeted under Bush. If you really sincerely have never read this datum before, please let me know and I will source it.

Fact: Clinton appointed Breyer and Ginsburg to the Supreme Court. Bush appointed Alito and Roberts.

Fact: Incomes for the bottom 20% of the economic pyramid went up under Clinton for the first time since the '70s.

Fact: Clinton produced budget surpluses for the first time since the '60s.

Fact: Bush has exploded this country's debt, putting the economy in a precarious position.

Fact: Bush cut funding to international organizations providing birth control to poor women.

Fact: Bush appointed incompetent people to head FEMA, resulting in poor people dying when aid didn't arrive in a timely fashion after Katrina.

Fact: Bush's Iraq policy was based on ignoring all advice from anybody who knew anything about Iraq.

Fact: Bush campaigned at the segregationist Bob Jones University and appointed people like John Ashcroft who had worked with explicitly white supremacist organizations to high government offices.

Fact: Bush is trying to reintroduce Creationism in the schools under the guise of Intelligent Design.

Fact: Bush is actively campaigning against the scientific reports that his own government scientists produce, on economic and ecological issues.

These facts may look like non-sequiturs to you, but they share one quality: They all reflect the substantial inferiority of Bush as a President to Clinton, from a humane, progressive standpoint.

I agree that 3rd World poverty is an enormous and enormously complex problem. I'll check out your link to the Wallerstein article.

Your critique is good, but your overall position and dialectical skills are weak, which is why you have to resort to insult instead of actual argument.

"John has resorted to the most crass and inane arguments that are not even worthy of refuting. He doesn't even present any facts or statistics to corroborate his spurious claims."

The accusation of "no facts" is just a lie. But it's one you have to cling to, because the facts are on my side: Republican governance makes life a lot worse for almost all people, for a huge host of reasons. Splinterism posits that preventing Democrats from gaining control of the government again is necessary for the creation of a truly progressive party. You are willing to sacrifice the lives and well-being of an unknown number of people to this possibility. These are just the facts.

Another fact is: no empire on earth has ever voluntarily relinquished power. Splinterism posits that if only we could destroy the centrist party, a progressive internationalist humane party would be able to come to power. This is wishful thinking in the extreme.

Hey Michael, you've front-paged two comments blasting me, how about front-paging this one?


Tim D:


(This is the last time I'm going to address your fallacies and distortions, since, as you pointed out, we are simply repeating ourselves at this point.)

First of all, the fundamental fact of the matter is that the Democratic Party enables all of the things you are talking about. They want to prevent change not facilitate it. Wealthy people could care less about you and me because they are insulated financially from the consequences of their cravenness and indifference, which is why they haven't even attempted to filibuster the worst of the worst of the Republicans' policies the last few years. Secondly, your standard for what's acceptable or even "an improvement" is appalling from my point of view. The most basic non sequitur in your thinking is that voting for Democrats will get us what we want (i.e. progressive politics). The facts (and basic dynamics of our cash for access political system) do not support that. Let's take a simple issue like national, single-payer health care which 80 percent of the public supports. While the Democrats continue to take millions from HMOs and pharmaceutical companies, when can we expect to have such a system? That's just one issue! Take any issue you want and then weigh your wishes regarding it against the money the Democrats receive from the very companies who profit by maintaining the status quo.

AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, please stop saying that "Incomes for the bottom 20% of the economic pyramid went up under Clinton for the first time since the '70s...Clinton produced budget surpluses for the first time since the '60s." Robert Pollin and Henwood both refuted those "facts" in easy to understand terms. Greg Bates quoted key passages from Pollin's book regarding the nature and context of those "gains" in this essay. Henwood explained in his book that the surplus was a fake surplus based on the .com bubble of the 90s (which itself was based mostly on fraud and hype).

All of the unjustices that you denounce so furiously stem from unchecked corporate power. That is the root of the evil (lesser and greater) that you speak of. In their book (well, more a collection of their various writings on the subject), Corporate Predators, Robert Weissman and Russell Mokhiber showed that prosecution of white collar crime decreased under Clinton (it was actually higher under Bush Sr. and Reagan!!) and more corporate mergers - especially within the predatory banking and finance industry and energy industry - occurred under Clinton than any of his recent predecessors.

As I have pointed out to you before, the Democrats are fundamentally anti-labor and anti-poor (and by extension anti-minority). Speaking of anti-minority Clinton's escalation of the Drug War led to a vast expansion of the prison-industrial complex and sharply increased the rate of incarceration for petty drug possession (which disproportionately affects minorities and anyone too poor to afford a private lawyer).

Furthermore, John what about the Democrats' support for the tax cuts? Sure they decry them, but still vote for them all the same. And when the NY transit workers were striking just recently, which Democrats got behind them? Certainly not Hillary who declared her neutrality, and reiterated her support for the anti-union Taylor Law being used by Bloomburg to break up the strikes.

Back to the international issue, arms sales to some of the most reprehensible dictatorships around the world certainly didn't decrease under Clinton. As far as America's international standing is concerned, that is more an issue of perception management than genuine changes in our foreign policy's substance or aims. Clinton's bombing of Serbia was given a far more appealing gloss of "humanitarian intervention" than Bush's invasion of Iraq and the mass suffering caused by the sanctions and no fly zone bombings in Iraq were quiet and mundane enough to escape the attention of the media.

And some other matters regarding your facts:

Fact: In his last term, Clinton agreed to cut funding to any international organizations supporting a women's right to choose to have an abortion. Moreover,
Clinton like any other president cuddled up to misogynist regimes in the Middle East and South Asia.

Fact: Re: Iraq and Bush:

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. (Reuters) - Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said on Monday he would have voted for the congressional resolution authorizing force against Iraq even if he had known then no weapons of mass destruction would be found. Taking up a challenge from President Bush, whom he will face in the Nov. 2 election, the Massachusetts senator said: "I'll answer it directly. Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it is the right authority for a president to have but I would have used that authority effectively." Aside from that, how many Democrats voted against giving Bush authorization?

Fact: Clinton's cabinet and appointees to federal regulatory industries were mostly corporate lobbyists, lawyers and spokesmen/women just like Bush's.

Last but not least, and I apologize that this is so long winded, the issue of intelligent design, in my opinion, is something for local school districts to decide individually. The pro-corporate, ultra-nationalist character of our de facto national curriculum is perhaps the biggest problem facing education today, since the facts of U.S. foreign policy, U.S. history and the U.S. political system are all ignored or white washed, leaving citizens wholly uninformed as well as ever willing to lay down their life for latest war for the cause of empire and the capitalist oligarchs' profits.


John --

It is basically an anti-Democrat site, y'know. I'm very glad to have you here arguing, but editorial balance is not one of our goals.



As I've said all along, I agree with the critique of the D's. You take it to more creative heights -- namely, anything positive for poor people under Clinton was an illusion that only happened to be factual because of luck -- and I can't follow there, because it's founded on a dishonesty based on a pathological need to see no difference between the Republicans and Democrats. Of course, you don't refute all of my facts, because you can't. But you don't care. I have more respect for Michael and JSP who say, yes, the R's are worse, and we don't care. At least their hope for how things will be better after they get worse are based on a reasonable apprehension that they will indeed get worse under the course they advocate. Your perception is so off that it renders your judgment nonsensical.

Supporting the right of Bible-thumpers to drive Darwin out of the classrooms is taking Bush-apologia to a really disreputable extreme. Thanks for copping to it. It clarifies the depth of your intellectual and moral dishonesty.

I've heard an awful lot about "pathological Nader hatred" around here, but the fact that he betrayed the hope to build a stronger 3rd party is irrefutable. Anybody who doesn't cop to the Greater Evil of the Republicans suffers from pathological Democrat-hatred. Hate the Democrats if you must, but being counter-factual about it doesn't help progressive causes. It makes you look like either an idiot or a liar.


Supporting the teaching of Intelligent Design is taking the "electing Republicans holds no appreciable consequences" gambit too far!

Did you read a single link posted here, John ? I gave you good information about the GDI and how it has continued striving to build a real opposition party, and you keep going on about Nader. Tim D. gave you good info on the real impact of Clinton's record, and you keep going on about Nader. Is there ever a point at which you will request that somebody else, somewhere in the equation, take some responsibility for this mire, or are you just going to cleave to your pet whipping boy forever ?

Nader's "betrayals" as you call them, wouldn't mean all that much if you and the other DP obsessives were to actually concentrate on where we are now, instead of whining constantly about where we've been. I don't really think that you want to, however. As I said before, when Nader dies, I fully expect your camp to storm the funeral, dig up the corpse, and flay it one more time. Hell, maybe you'll make an annual event of digging up the corpse and flaying it. Anything to avoid facing up to the complexity of our problems and what you could do to change that.

Tim didn't say that he supported intelligent design, John.

Your discussions would go better here if you stopped treating the rest of us as if we couldn't read, particularly since the opinions you're distorting are right here in front of us.


Tim: "the issue of intelligent design, in my opinion, is something for local school districts to decide individually."

alsis: "Tim didn't say that he supported intelligent design, John."

Well, alsis, in practice and in fact, "throwing abortion back to the states" is an anti-choice position. Letting local governments decide on Intelligent Design is a pro-Intelligent Design position.

MJS: yeah, I know. But I thought, what the hell, might as well ask! Thanks for the courtesy of a reply.

Tim D:

Ahh damn it John! You're making me post again.

John, my inability to see a difference between Ds and Rs aside, I definitely see a difference between my posts and yours, which is that I at least post links to demonstrate I am not making these things up out of whole cloth.

But John answer me these questions:

1)Do the Democrats take millions of dollars from corporations?

2)Do the Democrats take millions from the same corporations that give money to the Republicans?

3)Do you think that, given the gap between the money that you supply the campaigns of Democrats and the money supplied by corporations, that you will be represented equally - that is, that your interests will be considered equally once that Democrat is elected?

Honest answers to the above questions will provide you with my rational for voting for candidates who do not take money from corporations. Someday, you may finally be honest with yourself and come to the same conclusions (for the very sake of your own mental and emotional health I hope you do).

By the way, Business Week put it best when it featured an article with the headline: "Who Won the November 2, 2004 election? Corporate America!)

And John, you have the audacity to accuse me of being dishonest and duplicitous!? I support intelligent design? Gimme a break. You're always so quick to interpolate erroneous and patently false words/ideas into my posts.

As far as intelligent design goes my dear friend, I agree with you. It's not only bullshit, but its imposition on public school science classrooms is major violation of separation of church and state. However, the issue of academic curricula has always been decided at the local and state level, which tends to be a good thing in my opinion. Most countries have a Minister of Education and national curriculum. We do not have such here in the U.S. (we have a Dept. of Ed, but it mostly collects statistics and does research) and most people are happy about that. While education is unequally funded as well as underfunded, there is at least a good degree of local control over the schools, which gives tax payers a more direct voice in how their money is spent (most people don't understand that the majority of school money comes from local property taxes, which means if you live in an area like Montgomery County, Maryland where many of the senators and lobbyists and corporate fat cats have multi-million dollar mansions, you're going to have some damn good schools in terms of resources and quality of educators).

Local control can cut both ways of course. Many schools in the South and Midwest have already chosen to teach intelligent design and only offer abstinence-based sex ed (if even at all) to the children because there are large concentrations of fundamentalists in many of those areas who consequently control the school boards. On the other hand though, in more progressive areas people can oust those theocratic reactionaries from the school boards - as they did in Delaware recently, which prompted Pat Robertson to say they would be destroyed by a hail of fire and brimstone for their heathen ways.

I guess I have something of a Libertarian streak in me because I really do think there are a number of areas of public and private life that the federal government has no right to meddle in - one of those being education.


Well, alsis, in practice and in fact, "throwing abortion back to the states" is an anti-choice position.

Which sounds awfully neat and tidy on the screen, and yet-- we have had a national ruling that's pro-choice for years, even as state after state has acted to severely curtail access. So in practice, I'm afraid that a great many Democrats who wrap themselves in the national pro-Roe mantle when it suits them to reap bucks and to terrify women are, by your stated standards, assuming a pro-life position. It's already "gone back to the states," unofficially. Of course these days, with Reid at the helm and Dean openly stating that running pro-life Democrats is the key to success, it's not even necessary for the party's supposed strategists to pretend that the pro-lifers must continue to stay in the DP's closet.


Hi again,

I don't know why my last post went up anonymously -- but Tim got that it was me, John (in case this goes up anonymously too).

Yes, Tim, the D's take rich people's money, lots and lots of it; yes, rich people have greater access. How many times have I said, the D's are a center-right party? What has not been clear?

You haven't argued anything. You haven't argued that the D's are far-right; you haven't argued that the R's are anything other than extremist right; nobody here has argued these points. It's all a lot of muddying about in how bad the D's are as an opposition party (I agree); and how, for you, the difference between a center-right party and an extremist right party doesn't matter. Few of you have actually had the guts to say that right out.

Despite their poor record on class issues, the D's still believe in a competent, pro-science, pro-choice, fiscally solvent government with a foreign policy that avoids universal belligerance. So I keep voting for them.

alsis, by coincidence I finally read the Lefty's Pledge today. It's one of the stupidest things I've ever seen in my life. "If you cannot find a candidate that agrees with you 100%, don't vote. That's the lefty way. If you can get 90% of what you want, walk away. Zero of what you want is better than 90%."

and alsis, glad you agree that "throwing Intelligent Design to the states is a pro-Intelligent Design position." I'm also glad that you agree with Berube and Katha Pollitt and me, and not Tim D. and Thomas Frank, that the R's have been successfully chipping away at abortion access for years and years and years. (T. Frank and Tim D: The R's will never overturn R v. W. They aren't serious about overturning abortion rights.)

It's all a lot of muddying about in how bad the D's are as an opposition party (I agree); and how, for you, the difference between a center-right party and an extremist right party doesn't matter. Few of you have actually had the guts to say that right out.

And if we did come out and say it, that would only be more fuel for you.

Talk about "muddying." What is the point of dissecting the fine points between "far right" and "center right" when what these differences amount to is the difference between pushing an agenda and letting oneself be pushed along by it. Dissection of these differences is not going to save our asses.

I rather thought that the point of the Pledge was as follows: The hallmark of your bete noir, the far Right, is that they march into every battle demanding 100% of what they want and threatening their representatives with dire consequences at the polls if they don't get it. When they end up with some portion of that 100% through compromise, they spin that as a victory.

Contrast this with the general liberal Dem tactic of rarely pushing offensive motion on anything, timidly proferring some half-assed excuse for change, then turning tail and running the minute some spate of FOX pundits starts calling them poopie names. This is generally followed by eager conspiring in whatever alleged compromise their buddies on the Right wanted.

I rather thought that the point of the Pledge was to show some guts for a change. Have some pride and self-respect. Don't meekly tap the elbow of some monied D.C. twit and say, "Oh, pretty please sir/madam... Just a touch of relief from my outrageous medical bills, just a bit of protection for my pension, just a tiny tiny morsel of anti-war rhetoric... Pleeeeeeeeeeease...?"

If that approach was going to get any results, it would have produced some by now. Instead, try having some guts and some pride in the tenets you claim to believe in. Try scaring the DC fuckers instead of always running scared from confrontation yourself. Try saying, "Healthcare for all Americans NOW !! Corporate Reform NOW !! Troops home NOW !! You work for us, Shithead !! Do your job or we'll fucking fire you !!"

Wake the fuckers up. They deserve it. Like that old b'way musical said, it's not the Earth the meek inherit.

It's the dirt.

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Thursday March 16, 2006 09:28 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Getting personal.

The next post in this blog is Objectively pro-.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31