« We'll make 'em Americans in the movie | Main | Now THIS is a party »

Johnny, we hardly... naah, we knew ye all too well

By Michael J. Smith on Monday August 28, 2006 02:15 PM

Courtesy of J Alva Scruggs:

"I've heard the Rust Belt denizens complain about the export of good jobs. NAFTA, CAFTA, et al, certainly need fixing, but pointing fingers doesn't resolve the crisis.

So, what if there were an issue that granted struggling Dem incumbents in Michigan and challenger Dems from Wisconsin to West Virginia with a popular solution? And what if it also offered Dems a way to exhibit their strength on Homeland Security?

I think if there were truly a JFK-esque Dem leader today running for president, his inspiring race to the moon would now be a race to energy freedom. His strategy for Iraq would be withdrawal…. with a surprise diversion of half of those troops to Afghanistan to finish off Bin Laden and his opium funding base. And his jobs plan/homeland security plan would be to fix this mess, before it breaks us."

I read this guy when he was still sane. He's chugged a couple of quarts of the neoliberal kool aid since then. He knows better than to call the economic havoc in the Rust Belt "complaints", and that oafish comment about pointing fingers is worthy of a wingnut pundit.

JFK??? He's nuts.

JFK was nuts, but he's dead now -- oh, you mean the writer is nuts. Sorry.

It's interesting to observe the way delusional thinking about JFK is such an important component of pwog Democrats' intellectual armor. Somebody really ought to take apart the JFK myth. Not that it would do much good -- the Dems would soon find a soporific which would enable them to sleep once more.

Comments (24)

Crikey, me compared to a wingnut? That's an interesting hypothesis I'd never considered but they say you hear everything if you live long enough.

I will grant that my rhetoric occasionally leaves the impression that I look to the Democratic Party as some sort of savior. I don't. I also understand JFK's flaws as a Cold Warrior, and that he got trapped in the Civil Rights movement instead of willingly taking the lead in that.

I'm not a fan of the two-party system, especially now that our two are corporate shills. Occasionally, I take the Dorothy Day position: "Don't vote; it only encourages them." I really hate that most votes in my lifetime were votes for the perceived lesser of two evils.

But when the whole damn country seems afflicted with a popular madness and it goes on a killing spree like a temporarily blinded wounded bear, my first priority shifts to the fastest end to the indiscriminate murder of tens of thousands of civilians.

Thus I perceive that a Democratic Congressional majority is the fastest way to that goal. And I think that goal's also important to stop the raiding of the treasury to enrich the wealthy while there's a few farthings left.

My references to Kennedy were not meant to suggest he was without flaw... he had plenty. But he was good about invoking ideals and inspiring positive actions from the populace. I was suggesting instead of the endless onslaught of dispiriting negativism, it'd be nice to hear someone offering positive visions, which is a greater motivation to actually get people out to vote.

Sure, at times I imagine I sound like nothing more than a party hack, whick kinda sucks as I'm personally more comfortable as an old school anarchist. Perhaps that makes me a sellout, but I view it as a necessary compromise in pursuit of an immediate alleviation of the extreme damage of the neocon order, because my inner humanitarian says we kill off the sharks first before bailing out the boat or building a better watercraft.

Do you really expect some kind of "surgical strike" against Bin Laden or any other Afghani dictator warlord who might come down the plank ? If you know anything about Vietnam or any current imperial crusade, how can you call for such a thing with a straight face ? Civilians have died en masse in these performance pieces repeatedly, and they will continue to do so. Or is referring to them as dead "sharks" supposed to make us feel better as more of their dead bodies are piled up in the boat ?

The other insulting element of this proposal is the inane notion that "shark slaughters" and humanitarian ideals are compatible. MLK figured out years ago that the murders of Vietnamese citizens and the deaths of his brothers and sisters in the civil rights movement were part of the same oppressive system. The engineers of murderer, locally-based or on foreign soil, were the same people. Fantasizing about leadership that would deliver a pat on the head to the peasants at home while it proudly delivered death to those far away was pointless and stupid then. Moreso now, because those of us who have reached a certain age know what these so-called leaders have been about all through our lifetime, and yet here you are, Kevin, insisting that if we wish hard enough, this time we can make down into up or bullshit into chocolate sauce.


J. Alva Scruggs:
I'm personally more comfortable as an old school anarchist

Come on over! I'm not kidding at all. I'll eat every mean word I said if you do. If ever there were a wob looking woeful standing next to hacks, and forcing himself to take the ludicrous seriously, it's you, Cowboy.

js paine:

see j alva see

this guy hayden
thinks we're on
the edge of
a brownshirt america

so he's an army of one
the wagons of decency in his mind

he's even
looking for the burger boy
figurehead type
to lead a popular front

but the constitution needs no rescue party

white amerika -- she's into it man

but not past the ankles

and tex IMO
far from more reaction --
we is about to come about

we is about
--at long last---
to bound
towards class clash politics

Yarrgh. Sorry for the typo. Shoulda' been "murder." :o

BTW, is anyone else about ready to club the shit out of the next pwog who ernestly suggests that if we just help them lick DP ass one more time so they can win, perhaps we will be rewarded by the masters with our very own box of discount mouthwash once Hilary is crowned Queen or whatever ?

Arrgh. I just let somebody on brickburner.org have it on that particular subject. I'm gonna' get ulcers before 2008 if I can't just learn to get off the net and take up golf or squash instead. >:


Ms X -- Golf! Oh lord no, don't do that. The opiate of the masses. Squash, hardly better, the opiate of the yups.

May I suggest -- take a bicycle to work? Great for your thighs, and it'll keep your attitude good and sharp too.

There's a word for the mental state of repeating the same behavior time after time and always expecting different results, but it escapes me for the moment.


Perseveration. The topic has come up here before.


The premiss of this site, not to expect anything from Democrats, is unimpeachable. But the ranting above sounds highly defensive, like someone might burst your bubble of superior insight.

Criticizing the system without figuring out how to take it on is self-indulgent and a waste of time. I think JS and Michael know this, but get carried away sometime with their exuberant prose. Some of the epigones on the site just sound bitter and stupid.

I dont know Kevin, but he writes intelligently and modestly, and he makes the valid point that leaving the neocons in power, while we pant after some Green hope, or retire from the field to wait for the revolution, is dangerous.

The Apollo Alliance is a serious concept that has about twenty good things going for it, including job creation, redirection of military resources, development of small world technologies that could restore something of our global reputation, and heading off global catastrophe from climate change and oil dependency.

What do the anti-Democrats have to offer that can compete with that?


Thus bobw:

leaving the neocons in power, while we pant after some Green hope, or retire from the field to wait for the revolution, is dangerous.
This is undoubtedly true, but there's a missing link in the reasoning: how is it possible to imagine that putting more Democrats in Congress will in any way diminish the power of the "neocons"? If it would, there might be a case. But as far as I can see, "neocons" have at least as much ascendancy over the Democratic Party as they have over the Republicans. What am I missing?

I'm with ya, ms xeno. The dems have mesmerized themselves with Murtha Plan bullshit. The prospect of a nice neat clean Kosovo style airwar, in which only brown people get killed, has them twirling with delight. Smacking them upside the head with the truth about Murtha's craptastic "redeployment" plan is getting really old.

But then, as MJS notes, the pwogs will just find another non-solution that lets them go back to sleep.


Some of the epigones on the site just sound bitter and stupid.

Gosh, thanks. At least you're a step up from the Alterman-clone who said that I was fighting for Franco in an earlier life...


What work ?

If you saw the ongoing bitter/stupid contest in Portland between drivers and cyclists, you'd know better than to suggest that...

As they say in British train stations, "Mind the gap." Democrat PR is admittedly capable of producing plenty of rhetorical bliss; it's the reality part they have trouble with.

J. Alva Scruggs:

bobw, I am bitter and stupid :-( That's why my rants often come off that way. However I did manage to figure some things out.

The premise of the site is not just to expect nothing from the Democrats, but to explore ways of putting pressure on them. The levers for that are limited. One, in narrow focus, is making sure they lose votes. That decreases their utility in a rigged system and hopefully frees up time, for others, that would be better spent on potentially more productive activities. It is easier to decrease their utility in numbers. Hence, the site.

In an earlier thread with MJS, we all discussed the possibility that this might not work or might actually make things worse. Even the bitter and stupid have occasional qualms. Morevoer, they can often detect specious arguments. For example:

he makes the valid point that leaving the neocons in power, while we pant after some Green hope, or retire from the field to wait for the revolution, is dangerous.

That is unfortunately a fatuous characterization, which relies on "mind reading". It needs to be supported in order to be compelling. Surely someone who uses "epigones" so adroitly can understand that?


That's a good question. I grant you AIPAC has as much or more influence over the Democrats, but AIPAC isnt quite identical with "neocons".

On Iraq, the Dems have been silent. This is discouraging and says to me either they're cowards or complicit. But the PNAC, the script we're following, wasnt signed by a single Dem. It's arguable that a Dem president (as long as it wasnt Leiberman) would never have invaded Iraq.

Clinton's policy in Iraq (really Bush Sr's) and Yugoslavia were criminal, but most conservatives think he was wimpy and irresolute in these areas. Wimpy and irresolute are better than insane, in my book.

I agree that both parties, on foreign policy, are following the neo-liberal model of destroying third world countries until they are defenseless against western extractive industries and western companies looking for markets. I still prefer the soft version of neo-liberalism to the bloody.

On the domestic side, the Dems can be disappointing, but I think the constitution and our civil liberties are a little safer under them.

I wish there was a third party, or a labor movement, but until there is, I'd rather play in the game than sit on the sidelines. That said, I actually might vote against Senator Feinstein. She needs time off (the rest of her life) to think about her shame. I'm going to write in Lieutenant Watada for US Senator.


J Alva,
I think I understand you. You mean "putting pressure" on the Democrats by pretending you're not going to vote for them, but not actually going so far as to help the Republicans increase their majorities?

I think I get that, but it's subtle. At least it sounds like a strategy.

I'm tired of ranting for the fun of it, though. I'd rather be going door to door trying to get some modestly environmental city council candidate elected.

I take back "epigones". That was pretentious and not really accurate either. I like the people who admitted "I am bitter and stupid." So am I. All I've learned in life so far is what doesnt work.


bobw -- Who do you mean when you say "neocon"? In my lexicon, that means former liberals -- mostly Democrats, originally -- who turned Right starting in the late 60s and 70s. AIPAC and other Israel lobby formations are important drivers of neoconservatism, as I understand the term, but not the only ones.

Many "neocons" in my sense ended up being Republicans, but many didn't, and the basic neocon program of corporate empowerment, aggressive imperialism, increased policing and surveillance, lower social expenditure, job exportation and immiseration of working people -- in a nutshell, rolling back the Sixties and indeed the New Deal -- is the Plan of Record for the Democratic party as an institution, just as it is for the Republicans. Sure you can find the odd Democrat who'll wring his hands about some elements of the Plan, but the institution is solidly committed to it.

As for your other point about pressuring the Democrats without increasing Republican majorities -- well, I can't speak for anybody else, but that's not my goal. I am sublimely indifferent to the size of the Republican majority, under the present circumstances. Democratic representation in Congress could be cut in half and I wouldn't lose a minute's sleep over it -- in fact, I'd probably be rather pleased, and walk around smiling grimly and muttering under my breath, "Serves 'em right." To the extent that such a development would tend to destabilize the current Frick-and-Frack electoral shell game, I am even tempted to argue that it would be constructive rather than the reverse.

The underlying premise of your argument, if I understand you correctly, is that the Democrats are doing something, small though it may be, to make things better or at least not so bad. But in all earnestness, and without the least intent to exaggerate, I can see no evidence whatsoever that that's so.

mikep [TypeKey Profile Page]:

"Somebody really ought to take apart the JFK myth."

Yes, yes, yes. From your lips to liberal ears. JFK is the point when liberalism went bad, specifically when he said we should no longer ask what the government should do for us. That's exactly what the neo-cons think, that we should do for the government, but that the government shouldn't do for us.

"Ask not what your country can do for you." This is the stupidest thing a politician has ever said. It's supposed to be government of the people, by the people, and FOR the people. The one and only reason to even have a government is to do things FOR the people, that's the whole point of the thing. But I guess it's easy for the "fortunate sons" of rich men like JFK and GWB, who had everything they ever wanted handed to them on a golden platter, including the presidency, to tell people they shouldn't be looking to the government for help.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in finding out the real truth about how corrupt JFK and RFK really were, the great journalist Seymour Hersh has written an outstanding book on the subject, "The Dark Side of Camelot." Published in 1997 and very well researched as is all of Hersh's stuff. Highly recommended, you won't believe the story he tells.

And most relevant to today's Democratic politics. He studiously avoids saying anything incriminating about Ted Kennedy, but he sure does make you wonder what an audit of the Kennedy money would show up. (I personally think he's more corrupt than DeLay.) Did you know Honey Fitz, the mayor/boss of Boston and JFK's grandfather, was once elected to Congress but had his election invalidated because of voter fraud?

I know it's hard for people to grasp just how corrupt the Kennedy family has been, but what would be your reaction if George Bush appointed one of his brothers attorney general, in charge of all law enforcement in the US?

...I'm tired of ranting for the fun of it, though. I'd rather be going door to door trying to get some modestly environmental city council candidate elected...

Well, there you are. A rant and a door to door campaign on the same day are aparently beyond us. Sort of like walking and chewing gum at the same time. The expert has spoken. [rolleyes]

I think that you have a ways to go before you've learned all you need to, b. Myself, I don't really want to hear any more about how grateful I should be for the chance to throw hard-earned time and money after the DP for not so much as one single concession to my goals on their part. They are buzzards, and their professional apologists are fleas on buzzards. When the DP is ready to talk about an open electoral shop, they can come to my door. I mean in person. No more of these fatuous, smarmy junk mail blizzards, Please.

Until then, I stick to local nonpartisan campaigns, or Indy candidates. Maybe the occasional march if my feet can stand it. As somebody wise once said, "Much better to be pissed off than pissed on."

Begging to differ, appealing to noblesse oblige, civic responsibility, and humanitarian sentiments is not stupid. It might have been hypocritical or disingenuine, but unless we are motivated to accept our obligations as citizens to participate in such ongoing tasks as weeding out the corruption you lament, we can never achieve our visions.

The inspiration of JFK was real, even if the promise was not.



"On Iraq, the Dems have been silent. This is discouraging and says to me either they're cowards or complicit. But the PNAC, the script we're following, wasnt signed by a single Dem. It's arguable that a Dem president (as long as it wasnt Leiberman) would never have invaded Iraq."


Kerry's pre-invasion dudgeon is well-doc'ed. No need for DNA testing along this blood trail; just spy the WMD fretting and brow-furrowed war fever in the fingerprints at http://www.independentsforkerry.org/uploads/media/kerry-iraq.html. Here's Kerry at his pithiest, some months before he ran on the Send Me ticket:

"And while the administration has failed to provide any direct link between Iraq and the events of September 11, can we afford to ignore the possibility that Saddam Hussein might accidentally, as well as purposely, allow those weapons to slide off to one group or other in a region where weapons are the currency of trade? How do we leave that to chance?"

Sourcing Hillary's cheery outbursts on Iraq is left as an exercise for the reader.

But would it all have been different had the Gore-Liebs duo succeeded Our Man With The Wet Havana? We might fantasize that Gore would have broken with his hawkish past, but to do so requires explicitly ignoring his post-9/11 go-get-'em speech before the Council on Foreign Invasions, er, Relations in February 2002 (text and analysis here: http://jeffweintraub.blogspot.com/2003/11/al-gore-on-iraq-

There has been no Dem "silence" on Iraq, either before or after. The 2004 platform and subsquent talking points have made one technocratic promise after another of occupying better--better ally recruitment for better killing and better oil extraction. No, they signed no PNAC manifesto; why stoop to second-raters when you're accustomed to a starring role?


Michael answers my question, above. He really wouldnt mind cutting the Democratic numbers in Congress in half. Really?

You really dont see any difference between Schumer and Bill Frist, DeLay and Nadler? You've got to be kidding.

All I can say is, keep your eye on the new detention centers being built around the country. The Repubs cant wait til they can lock us all up there.

"us all."

I'll be sharing a cell with Schumer and Nadler ?

In your dreams, b. The mysterious "us all ?" I don't think that I understand pronouns quite the same way that you do.


bobw -- those jails you mention were all built with very enthusiastic Democratic support, if memory serves.

The curious thing about this argument, I find, is that the burden of proof seems to lie in the wrong place. It's up to me to prove that the Democrats "would not" have been different; it's not up to bobw to prove that they "would have" been different. In a case like this you have to ask yourself, what's the null hypothesis? Because that's the epistemologically privileged one -- the one that doesn't carry the burden of proof.

I claim, of course, that the "no difference" hypothesis is the null hypothesis. For this claim a pretty good case is easy to make, historically and structurally.

From the structural point of view, both parties are donor-driven; they will follow the money, and sell themselves to the money-men as being the more likely to deliver what the money-men want. Their RFP responses will be slightly different, like two soft-drink startups vying for venture capital. They will emphasize slightly different demographics and propose slightly different ad campaigns, but such differences are not even skin-deep.

Historically, the record speaks for itself. Democrats got us into Vietnam and kept us there; a Republican finally got us out. Clinton's foreign record is dripping with gore (and dripping, with Gore).

Bob, I really think the burden of proof is on you. Give us a good reason -- not just a hunch, or a feeling, or a rhetorical question -- why the Democrats "would" do it any different.

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 Monday August 28, 2006 02:15 PM.

The previous post in this blog was We'll make 'em Americans in the movie.

The next post in this blog is Now THIS is a party.

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