The Fromsphere Archives

November 21, 2005

High and dry

So thanks to John Murtha, it's starting to look like the War Democrats are a little behind the curve. They've stayed balls-to-the-wall in favor of this Iraq adventure a little too long, while the public was quietly turning around and marching the other way.

So we can probably expect to see some Bobby Kennedy moments over the next few months, as cynical, mendacious, murdering creeps like Hillary and Chuck Schumer and Joe Lieberman -- well, maybe not Lieberman -- will all of a sudden have a Road To Damascus experience and discover that, like Bogart in Casablanca, they were "misinformed".

Forgiveness is a great thing, but these are cases where we need to hold a grudge.

November 22, 2005

Jes'-folks wisdom

Even the local Republicans acknowledge that John Murtha is a shoo-in for re-election next year in his very patriotic, very blue-collar district. His courage in coming out against the Iraq war will cost him nothing with his constituents, who dwell deep in NASCAR country.

Meanwhile, in wealthy, well educated Rye Brook, NY, Hillary Clinton was afraid to give the same message to her enlightened, ultra-Blue constituents.

"It will matter to us if Iraq totally collapses into civil war, if it becomes a failed state the way Afghanistan was, where terrorists are free to basically set up camp and launch attacks against us," she said. Probably without blushing at all.

In a way you have to hand it to Hillary. She has her own kind of honesty. When she's bought, she stays bought. I don't know exactly who's put the injun sign on her, although the Israel lobby wouldn't be a bad guess. They wanted this war bad, and they'll find that their latter condition is worse than their first once the US runs down the flag and packs up.

So Hillary has her orders, and she's staying the course. For the time being. It'll be fun to watch her wriggle when she finally decides she's got to fight free, somehow, of this particular tar baby.

January 23, 2006

And now for something not completely different...

Feel like I've been whaling away too much lately on the poor wistful Munchkins at Daily Kos and the like. Time for a visit to their opposite numbers on the angstroms-wide spectrum of Democratic thinking: the Fromsphere. Let us don our hazmat suits, board the Ghostbusters incident response vehicle, and drop in on Third Way, a recently-spawned runt of the From litter.

And... pay dirt!

Sean Barney is a Senior Policy Advisor at Third Way. Serving in that capacity, Sean has been an integral part of the first year of this organization....

Sean is also a Marine Corps Reservist. He enlisted in the military just after 9/11, while a senior member of the staff of Senator Tom Carper. Lance Corporal Barney is a machinegunner with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines and in October 2005, he was called up to serve a tour of duty in Iraq.

Now in all candor I have to say that this story gives me an extremely warm feeling. It suggests that the Fromsphere must be staffed by people who don't have the brains God gave a goose. (The Gore and Kerry campaigns would seem to confirm this assessment.)

Jeez, I hope this gets to be a fad -- all the eager young Washington beavers trading in their not-quite-Brooks-Brothers suits for desert camo and going to face down a world full of pissed-off dark-skinned people. Given that the Democrats seem to feel they need to work harder to establish "national security" cred than the Republicans, and given that they appear to be too dumb to keep their heads down, perhaps we can hope for a near-depopulation of the donkey-wonk cubicle farms -- like England after the first world war, except this time the girls will go too. Drang nach Mittel-Osten, Fromniki!

May 8, 2006

Patriotic Kilgore

Here's a passage from the infamous Ed Kilgore. brain truster of the DLC. Your reporter here hacked this out of a review Kilgore posted this past March at Washington Monthly. Kilgore is reviewing a recent bio of William Jennings Bryan:
Those politicized Christians who have formed a firm alliance with Mammon and Mars on the grounds that the Word's main message today is to condemn abortion and homosexuality and feminism are forever vulnerable to those faithful who read their Bible and see otherwise.

As a Democrat, I am naturally more interested in the lessons for the neopopulists of the left, who are enjoying something of a renaissance these days by offering a theory of how Bryan's old party can break out of its bicoastal, blue state ghetto....

One does not follow Bryan's example by tearing his economic policies out of their broader cultural context or fomenting class consciousness or hatred of corporations as a matter of pocketbook self-interest rather than communal values. Indeed, the common neopopulist prescription of using economic "populism" to trump cultural "populism" sets one aspect of Bryanism -- and the weaker aspect at that -- against the other. Telling working people who care about cultural issues that they are expressing displaced anger over their legitimate economic grievances is condescending at best and insulting at worst and is entirely alien to Bryan's kind of populism. Moreover, it's an odd kind of populism that cannot accept "the people" as they actually are: complicated creatures with a mix of "correct" and "incorrect" views, which cannot always, or even often, be reduced to one of Dr. George Lakoff's "frames."

There's one more contemporary issue for the left which the book implicitly raises: the occasional necessity but perennial peril of bitter intra-party conflict....

. Without question, Bryan's revolt in 1896 overthrew a Democratic establishment mired in the politics of earlier decades, focused obsessively on competing for the "swing state" of New York, and indifferent to the growing challenges of the industrial age....

His candidacy also co-opted and thus largely neutered the appeal of the People's Party, which had been mortally threatening Democratic hegemony in the South....

But Bryan's savage indictment of the Bourbon Democrats... also disabled Democrats in the East and much of the Midwest and dislocated a partisan balance that had produced five straight photo-finish presidential elections. And with the sole exception of Wilson's reelection in 1916, Democrats would not come close to a majority of the popular vote in any of the six presidential elections between then and Bryan's death and would remain especially weak in the urban areas Bryan and his people spurned as Babylon....

I hope neopopulists and those representing today's Democratic factions read ... this fine book and learn a host of lessons: "The people" are who they are; "populism" cannot be forced left or right; and "progressivism" is the shared legacy and aspiration of us all, not the exclusive property of those most passionate about exclusively claiming it.

I'll with hold any comment till you all have the ball rolling ....

Populism without the pop

Tim D responds to Ed Kilgore's deep thoughts:

Uhh when has the message of economic populism ever really been delivered by the Democratic Party? Who in the Democratic Party has challenged or even really exposed corporate power? In an article for MSNBC right after the 2004 election, Eleanor Clift pointed out that, although many conservatives turned out at the polls to vote on anti-gay referenda in various states, even more people turned out in other states to vote overwhelmingly for minimum wage hikes!!!

But this is nothing new. Right after the 2000 election, Al From wrote an article for Blueprint Magazine in which he lamented that one of Gore's major mistakes was taking the populist line (when that ever happened is a mystery to me):

in the 2000 election Gore chose a populist rather than a New Democrat message. As a result, voters viewed him as too liberal and identified him as an advocate of big government. Those perceptions, whether fair or not, hurt him with male voters in general and with key New Economy swing voters in particular. By emphasizing class warfare he seemed to be talking to Industrial Age America, not Information Age America.
Interestingly enough, he also stated that "The assertion that Nader's marginal vote hurt Gore is not borne out by polling data. When exit pollers asked voters how they would have voted in a two-way race, Bush actually won by a point. That was better than he did with Nader in the race."

May 9, 2006

Pocketbook? What pocketbook?

Fromnik Stephen Rose muses:
... the old working class has been subsumed into a broader middle class..... today's working Americans have a very different economic outlook .... Their outlook is more aspirational and less infused with class grievance or resentment.
This is an old song now. To hear the "class is now in recess" brand of politicos tell it, there is no voting the pocketbook 'round here. And that ain't about to change, even as they begin morphing out of their DLC "ME TOO!" elephant suit and into Prog of Prog Hall, singing "we're all in it together .... even the corporations. No, especially the corporations."

Well, maybe they got something with their first line -- it's true, we're all in it together -- up to our necks in fact. And yeah, it's a greater good vision we need -- only upside down from what we have now.

The DLC incognitos like to tell us the old New Deal working class is gone -- it's mostly merged with the "broader" middle class. True enough -- but it's not by an uplift of the wagery, but by the drop of the traditional middle class into a kind of ill-defined protoplasmic class goo -- a class of a new type, not by any means the old middle class or the old working class, but bearing the historic burdens of both -- a job that hangs motionless, at best, in mid-air, and attached to it, a ball-and-chain household mortgage.

Savor that and tell me these citizens of gooville won't vote their pocketbook, if someone actually and believably offers to fill that barren bag with something beyond a promissory note: "to be paid in full .....when you make it."

Make it how? "Self improvement," say the promoters of intellectual capital -- and add, under their breath, "how else, you useless piece of shit."

May 13, 2006

Sowing the wind

Mid-90's DLC-think, in a nutshell:

Indulge the white helots' cultural tics -- entertain 'em with executions, tossing black women off welfare, rounding up undocumented immigrants -- lots and lots of police theater.


'Cause a hot circus is cheaper than increasing their bread ration. Hence economic populism falls off the menu -- a loser, class-war dead end -- and the pogrom-du-jour becomes the palladium of both parties.

Then the press and lib elite wonder how we got all this way to Dick Cheney -- flying kids' limbs in Baghdad -- and data-mining Mom's phone list.

Of course they don't have to wonder for long; clearly the problem is that the people are just no damn good.

May 17, 2006

Is that you, Gunnar?

Okay, I'm a bad, mean-spirited person. I admit it.

Some time back I reported here that one of the Junior Woodchucks from Third Way, one of my favorite components of the Fromsphere, had been called up for military service in Iraq:

Sean Barney is a Senior Policy Advisor at Third Way. Serving in that capacity, Sean has been an integral part of the first year of this organization....

Sean is also a Marine Corps Reservist. He enlisted in the military just after 9/11, while a senior member of the staff of Senator Tom Carper. Lance Corporal Barney is a machinegunner with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines and in October 2005, he was called up to serve a tour of duty in Iraq.

Now Third Way is quite a War Democrat outfit, so they lost no time in signing poor Barney up to contribute a regular diary on their site, with this unutterably smarmy sendoff:
We know that you will join us in wishing fair winds and following seas to Sean and his fellow Marines who are headed to Iraq.
Yecchh. Barney, like a good soldier, kept his side of the deal, contributing chipper little War Dem travelogues:
We conducted a big raid last night. We were targeting a cell of al Qaeda snipers, but all we found in the house was a large extended family. It’s impossible to know if it was a safe house and the snipers had fled, but the family seemed genuinely innocent. In any case I felt bad for them. We woke them up in the middle of the night and gave them quite a scare. I’m sure the children will not soon forget the sight of Marines with bright lights searching their home and interrogating their father and grandfather at gunpoint. These things are unavoidable under the circumstances, but it is still a shame. One little girl was wearing an American flag t-shirt. Hopefully, she will still be wearing that shirt a week from now.
She will if she knows what's good for her, I expect.

Anyway, I was enjoying Barney's Ernie Pyle schtick quite a lot, but apparently there won't be any more of it. Here's the latest:

May 16, 2006

Editors Note:

On May 12, Sean was seriously wounded in an ambush in Fallujah. While we do not yet know the details of the attack or if others in his unit were hurt, Sean was shot in the throat, treated in Iraq and quickly evacuated to Germany and then to Bethesda Medical Center in Maryland.

His current condition is stable but serious.... Doctors still cannot predict the full extent or permanence of his injuries.

Now not even I am heartless enough to derive any Schadenfreude from poor Barney's predicament. But I can't help wondering whether Barney's colleagues, the cocky little cubicle-bombardier creeps of Third Way, the careerist reptiles who gave us the phrase "Tough and Smart in Iraq," are having any second thoughts. I'd like to think so -- but I doubt it.

In my earlier post I expressed a wish that they'd all go to Iraq. I would now like to repeat that wish, with a windward gun for emphasis. And fair winds and following seas to the lot of 'em, all the way to some particularly nasty circle of Hell.

May 26, 2006

Yes, The New Yorker

Photo of Jeffrey Goldberg at the ADLThe latest New Yorker mag contains a very entertaining long piece on the Democratic Party by Iraq war booster Jeffrey Goldberg. (Goldberg is shown at left accepting the second annual Daniel Pearl award from the ADL. The winner of the first award, delightfully enough, was the Archwindbag himself, Thomas Friedman.)

The bottom line of Goldberg's piece, of course, is that in spite of the best efforts of fine, intelligent, hard-headed, patriotic folk like Third Way, the Democrats are still doomed because they're such wild-eyed lefties -- the cases in point being, guess who, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. The latter could, it seems, tour the country disembowelling immigrants and still not convince the public that she's on their side. Americans -- we may be crazy, but we're not stupid.

Goldberg's bottom line, silly as it is, doesn't matter -- who cares what Goldberg thinks? -- but purely as theater-of-cruelty, it's a wonderful hatchet job: probably the most accurate, and certainly the most interesting, piece of reportage that I have ever seen from Goldberg's pudgy hand. It's hard to say which poor brute in the Democratic menagerie comes off looking worst. I think it's probably Nancy Pelosi, who unlike Hillary, was naive enough to give Goldberg an interview:

Nancy Pelosi made a game attempt at ferocity when I talked with her. "Here's my thing and I will say this and you have to bear with me. I'm a mom.... Think 'lioness'. This is how Democrats are. You threaten our children... you threaten our country, you're dead. You're dead."
Tony Soprano in drag -- great stuff, huh? But I can't start quoting, or I'll never stop. Barack Obama threatens military action against Iran. Howard Dean free-associates about Dick Cheney's skills as a hunter. Middlebrow historian Sean Wilentz wheels up the big intellectual guns. Chris Dodd suggests that Democrats should run to Bush's right on National Security, like Kennedy did with the "phoney missile gap" -- Dodd's words -- and then hastily adds that nowadays, of course, we have a real missile gap, or something even better.

Since I'm a nerdy kind of guy, what struck me most was an extended series of deep-thought analytic ruminations about the composition of the electorate. The electorate consists of liberals, moderates, and conservatives. There are about twice as many conservatives as liberals, and the rest are moderates. And there you have it: the Pythagorean Theorem of contemporary American politics.

Now this kind of sophomoric, intellectually impoverished, one-dimensional farrago of empty categories would be unsurprising if it sprang from the febrile brain of Goldberg himself. But no; these shallow vaporings come straight from the mighty intellects at Third Way.

Goldberg allows as how the Dems might possibly win back the House in '06, purely on public disgust with Bush and Co. But he's pretty skeptical about their prospects in '08. And dear me, much as I hate to agree with a guy like Goldberg, I think he may have it exactly right.

May 31, 2006

Clash of the Titans?

Inside the wooden donkey now positioned right in front of the gates to power, a titanic battle for control is underway, between former Vermont gub and internet candidate for noble defeat Howie Dean and DLC boss Al From. Or so it seems to Michael Carmichael, writing for Counterpunch.

Is it all to puff Dean as Galahad, questing the grail of the people's will:

Governor Howard Dean led a grassroots movement of party activists to reclaim the levers of power for traditional Democratic policies: constitutional democracy, the open society, multilateralism, social welfare, a national health service, national security and homeland security realized through diplomacy rather than by military confrontation and many more substantive and socially progressive policies besides. While Governor Dean faced a broad field of DLC-backed opponents parroting Mr. From's mantras redolent of neoconservative cant, each one crumbled like a rag doll before him. Today, Governor Dean is leading a through-going reorganization of the Democratic Party that relies on the energy provided by grassroots activists. At the same time, Governor Dean has de-emphasized the right-leaning consultancies and pressure groups preferred by the DLC.
Hmm. This must be some other Howard Dean -- sure ain't the one I know. But Carmichael's real gravamen seems to be just more DLC-AIPAC pig piling long after the whistle has blown. Why else pretend the Fromniki are breaking totally with the pure multilateral tradition enshrined in the records of Carter and Clinton? Nonsense, of course -- our two cotton south prezez both displayed a very dominant unilateralist hemisphere when necessary, and at times both fancied Israel's role... when useful.

June 13, 2006

Don't throw me in that briar patch

Katrina vanden Heuvel waxes wroth that
Peter Beinart, for example, who was a supporter of the Iraq disaster ... has joined New Dems like Al From in urging Democrats to prove their resolve by purging the left from the Democratic party....
Well, I never thought I would have a good word to say for Beinart, but I'm with him 100% on this one. I think all Democrats should be made to swear an oath vowing support for ongoing war in Iraq, upcoming war in Iran, ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, fifty-cent gasoline, and the exportation of all jobs better-paid than chambermaid and worse-paid than investment banker, to India.

It's high time the Democratic Party took a stand for its principles. No more shilly-shallying. If you're not with the program, you don't belong in the party.

July 26, 2006

The party of really, really small ideas

The LA Times reports on the DLC's Denver powwow. Their sum-up: 'Pocketbook issues form the core of a Leadership Council centrist plan to produce party members who are more "practical" and "accepting." '

The Fromniks, with St Hill front and center, offer a few derisory clip-joint pick-me-ups to a sagging jobholder nation:

... make college tuition and home-buying more accessible, expand the availability of healthcare, and provide greater retirement security...
As economic planks in a party platform... well, stirring stuff, eh? The LAT comments:
Over three days of workshops and panel discussions, there was much sober talk of pension portability, regional skill alliances, performance-based governing and the like ....closing tax loopholes, ending corporate subsidies and squeezing inefficiencies from the government...
Best of show, I thought:
... establishing a "baby bond" program for low- and middle-income families that would provide each child with a $500 savings bond at birth and another 10 years later...
Needless to say, foreign policy discussion was, shall we say, muted -- just a scattering of sour gripes, lead pipes, and long-grass snipes, that glued into one piece, spells "trust us."

The LAT piece struck a charmingly snide tone -- I like this line in particular: the conference was referred to as "another installment in the party's search for itself."

September 18, 2006

No mercy

Max Sawicky tries a grapple with the DLC legacy, in connection with the recently-made-public IRS decision to revoke their tax-exempt status:
Some are crowing about this IRS decision.... Any monkey wrench into a major Dem group, merits aside, helps the other side....
In the comments he gets batted around some and fights back valiantly. There's even some guy there who writes a lot like me.

Still. By '08 we'll have had 16 years of DLC hegemony -- 8 years of DLC White House power that only gave the profit-max machine time to take over Congress and consolidate itself, before the present potlatch. You really think the party of FDR and ER can mobilize anything this way with these pragmatics in the lead float?

Pragmatics, Max, is for using power, not winning it -- not if social reform is your mission, anyway. Now if your mission is rotation in office and a change of foliage, well, fine.

These DLC bastards are poison. They need to be forced upstairs to the party attic, with the high-school yearbooks and the post cards from aunt Bonnie. Hell, they're even reproducing themselves. They have spawn -- look at the Kos borg: it's just just an eerie, nerdy, downmarket virtual-cult version of the DLC.

Winning is the key. Pragmatism the way. Kos: the DLC in scout shorts.

May 1, 2007

The latent physiognomy

Photo of Peter Beinart and Mark Penn

Laurel and Hardy? No, it's coyote-liberal Peter Beinart, on the left, and that laundry bag of a fellow on the right is the man behind St Hill. His name is Mark Penn, and he's Ma Clinton's brain bug (if you saw the movie Starship Troopers).

Here's a Washpost profile to savor:

To me it reads like I wrote it myself, in a fit of drunken distemper -- like he's not real at all but a totally unnecessary invention, a product of my fervid loathing of all things bright, prosperous, arrogant, Clintonian top-doggy, cautious, cunning, breezy and zionic.

One quote should suffice to pin this bulky fuzzy moth of a man to the specimen board:

Penn has deep roots in the national security wing of the Democratic Party, .... who saw the merits of invading Iraq before the war began.... Penn gained his foreign policy expertise working on numerous campaigns overseas, especially in Israel. In 1981, he... helped reelect Menachem Begin....

Editor's note:

I can't resist appending some more juicy bits from the Wapo hatchet job:

[Penn] is a wealthy chief executive who heads a giant public relations firm, where he personally hones Microsoft's image in Washington....

Clinton clearly adores him. She describes Penn in her autobiography, "Living History," as brilliant, intense, shrewd and insightful....

In their $5 million Georgetown mansion, Penn and his wife, Nancy Jacobson, a former staff member for Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) who is now a fundraiser with the Clinton campaign, run something of a salon for like-minded friends. They recently threw a book party for Jeffrey Goldberg, the New Yorker writer, to celebrate the release of his memoir on Israel....

His client list includes prominent backers of the Iraq war, particularly Lieberman, whose presidential campaign Penn helped run in 2004, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose campaign he advised when Blair won a historic third term in 2005....

Penn started his polling business with Schoen with the 1977 New York mayoral candidacy of Edward I. Koch....

Best bit of all, though:
Penn, famously rumpled and awkward in public, who picked a fight at a Harvard forum this year when he disrupted a mild exchange between consultants to accuse Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) of equivocating on Iraq. Penn's outburst seemed designed to reach antiwar Democrats by shifting attention away from Clinton's initial support for the war by arguing that she and her main rival have similar approaches to ending it. "When they got to the Senate, Senator Obama's votes were exactly the same" as Clinton's, Penn told the panel. "So let's not try to create false differences....
He sure got that right.

About The Fromsphere

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in the The Fromsphere category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

The Fascists gonna get ya is the previous category.

The grovels of Academe is the next category.

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

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