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McJoan @ TPMcafe Critiques - "Incomplete Argument" (wither DEM? )

TPM Book Club

An Incomplete Argument

Thanks to the folks at TPMCafe for giving all of us this chance to spend some time in self-reflection through the lens of Matt Bai's The Argument. And thank you, Matt, fellow moderator, for the topic.
That foundation is, essentially, the common good. From an articulation of the common good expressed by Rep. Jim McDermott in an interview at Daily Kos with Armando over two years ago, to Michael Tomasky's key article, much thought has been paid in the online world
.../...All of which is to say, as engaging and informative as The Argument is on many levels, it barely scratches the surface on what the netroots is and what we hope to achieve. The book encapsulates a sliver of the movement in a moment in time that is quickly slipping by;

another comment:On September 27, 2007 - 2:25pm Rick B said:

With the conservatives we have a group openly contemptuous of Civil Rights and personal individual equality before the law and government. (Our dollars are equal. We are not.) Instead they offer us a government that has unlimited power, the power to pick people up off the street and to "disappear" them.

The idea of the Unitary Executive is a codification of what they believe, and something less Constitutional and less Liberal is unimaginable. When Yoo wrote the document, the White House acted on it, but kept it secret. This runs counter to the critical idea of transparent government.

In fact they implement their vision of the anti-Liberal America in as much government secrecy as they can arrange. This, probably more than oil, is what they needed the war for. It replaces the Cold War as justification for shifting control of the government to the Executive and hiding its actions behind "National Security."

These are not the actions of a group who are defending the American Constitution. Instead they are gutting it.

That leaves America with two competing visions of what America is and is to become. One vision was written into the Constitution and was fought over during the Civil War. The other is the current conservative government and has Yoo's vision of the "Unitary Executive" as one of its founding documents.

Is there really any room left to compromise with the conservatives? Doesn't that make the right-wing left-wing political continuum a dangerous fiction?
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If the Republicans can't buy or co-opt pundits and journalists as they did with Judith Miller, then leaving them like feral neutered cats to occupy territory is the next best thing.

That neutered territory also becomes good safe territory for risk-averse Democratic office holders to hide out away from the political storms that the right-wing extremists have brought. Those office holders will have to be made aware that the territory they think is safe is in fact even more dangerous to them than getting out and mixing it up with the extremists. That's why the money has to be sent to and other outsider organizations. The real information flow in Washington is the votes that elect the politicians, and the flow of money to the challengers is the only real advance warning they get of those votes.

On September 27, 2007 - 1:15pm mcjoan said:

Ah, but that's a big part of the story--almost no one has heard of the Democracy Alliance. Here's some big money being contributed to a group that isn't at all transparent in how it functions, or that it even exists. Or existed--there's been significant movement within the DA, apparently, to open up a bit.

It's illustrative of how a lot of things work, and have worked for a long time in progressive and liberal interest groups, and that Markos and Jerome take on in Crashing the Gates. There's limited money, huge competition for it, and a carving out and defending of territory that often works at cross-purposes to a healthy, larger progressive movement.

On September 27, 2007 - 2:53pm JRBehrman said:

The central element of Democratic Party politics is not our self-important media but pimp-consultants, originally lawyer-lobbyists but, since 1994, mostly auto-didact ad-men, policy-peddlers, pollsters, and race-hustlers.

They are essentially intermediaries who have wrecked the party in the course of peddling gimmicks and pretty faces to government concession-holders, mafiya capitalists, and private-equity commissars.

This is hardly new, although the scope and scale of it on the Georgetown Plantations today has been vastly expanded since the end of the Great, World, and Cold Wars by the "strong dollar" bubble.

So, for instance, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or AIPAC are now each more important in Washington or, for that matter, Houston, today, than say the Republican Party of Harris County or the Democratic Party of Texas.

What is missing are what the Young Foundation in London calls "Parties for the Public Good". These would be instruments of political formation, mobilization, discipline, and action, as well as what was notionally "responsible, two-party," not coalition, government.

In a previous era, parties also provided a well regulated militia, dating services, choral singing, and other personal or collective benefit, especially for men and women of military or child-bearing age as well as for patriotic middle-class families, as distinct from, say, for a predatory rentier class with its clerical factors and precious heirs.

Instead of parties today, we have the cringing-liberal Democrats' "Permanent Campaign" and the chicken-hawk Republicans' "politics as war".

That sucks, and the blogosphere is awakening to what is wrong.

But, for a lack of cryptographic provsion for "digital identity" in the TCP/IP stack, for "micropayments" in in the money supply, and the fact that Robert's Rules cannot be implemented on a pornography distribution system, the blogosphere has only barely begun to contribute to re-building strong, competitive parties.

So, the GOP is now a dangerous cult, but the Democtratic Party is still a corrupt and ineffectual whorehouse.

In the US Senate, Joe LIEBERMAN leads the majority, chicken-hawk "War Party", as distinct from say Jim WEBB or Chuck HEGEL. In the House, Steny HOYER rules the nearly unanimous Pork Party or, in fact, a frat-house of aging gas-bags and juvenile spokes-models seeking better gigs from their pimp-consultants.

What we have here is the disgusting "lifestyle" politics of lifetime office-squatters and "post-constitutional" government that should have "finned" with the "siecle".

I am a loyal, lifelong, Democratic ward-heeler.

But, I am in a seriously bad mood. My oldest son leaves for his second tour in Iraq next week. The mercs have state-of-the art German machine-pistols and people shooting at him have the very latest Russian heavy machine-guns. He will be a moving target in a clapped-out dune-buggy with the latest model of Lee-Enfield musketry thanks to generations of Democratic committee-barons, lately Dick DURBIN and John MURTHA, who have preserved Admiral MAHAN's navy and General McCLELLAN's Army only bigger and brighter with less tooth and more tail than ever plus Brazilian rank-inflation.

And, of course, we are paying for all sides of the civil war in question the Fourth Generation warfare in prospect.

Thankfully, no pimp-consultants or bond-lawyers have been killed in this latest war of sheer vanity -- an insult to the morality and proficiency of imperialists everwhere.

Congress has increased the level of whining since 2006, but nothing has been cut and nobody has been punished for a war both parties are pretending is not lost and no party has any notion of a purpose for other than preservation of its members' vanity and Blazing Saddles jobs or, more importantly, retirement benefits.

But, retribution and more will come soon enough, if "New Direction" remains just another empty slogan of corrupt, cowardly, utterly ineffectual "Hold Harmless!" and "Jes' He'p Ever'body!" -- ever cornpone but still politically-correct Democrats.

The GOP may wink out first. But, as long as there is a rentier class, there will be a Whig party or what the DNC/DCCC seeks to restore, a Whig, aka "Jim Crow", coalition.

But, when those Whigs in one party or both have done their worst, there will be at least attmpted civil war or revolution before republican democracy gives up the ghost.


On September 27, 2007 - 5:04pm esmense said:

Thank you for this:

Indeed, we can't stop globalization or trade. But we can, and most definitely should, learn from the New Deal.  .../...

I think it is also good to remember that many of the progressive ideas we associate with the New Deal weren't new at all. They were populist ideas that had been kicking around for quite some time, born out of experience (most often the experience of people held in as low or even lower repute than today's bloggers and netroots) rather than in Think Tanks. It was only the desperation of the elites of that era, born from their own failures, that provided an opportunity for putting those ideas into practice.

There's a real reluctance, today as there probably was in that earlier time, to allow that economic populism -- the rough voice of experience -- has any legitimate place in the on-going political "argument." Populism, it is assumed, is always and only reactionary, resistent to change, unrealistic in its demands, and naive in its understanding and expectations of the modern economy. And politicians who would represent populist concerns are only pandering.

What we are told is that globalization changes everything, and working and middle class Americans must be more adaptable, flexible and willing to embrace risk. But what is meant is that, rather than agitating for mechanisms and institutions that can help them get more from new economic realities, working and middle class people have to learn to accept less.

Frankly, I think it is naive to assume that working people don't understand, perhaps better than many more affluent Americans, that our capitalist economic system -- not only today but ALWAYS -- requires flexibility, adaptability and a willingness to risk. And not just "risk" as our affluent elite usually mean it -- disposable income "risked" in the stock market or other investments -- but more substantial kinds of risk. The risk involved in putting life and health on the line in difficult but necessary work. The risk involved in leaving everything you've known and loved behind to seek possible, but not guaranteed, opportunities among strangers. The risk (and trust) involved in devoting years of time, talent, energy, expertise and sweat to someone else's bottom line.

Globalization is just a new wrinkle in an old state of affairs. There's nothing new in capitalism's creative destruction, the stresses it places on communities, the demands it makes on individuals, or the requirement it places on us to come together to create institutions that help us find opportunities in the destruction, and creative ways to deal with the stresses and demands.

But as the electronic media and professional consultant industry began to dominate our political discourse in recent decades, union halls began to disappear, etc., etc., opportunties for coming together became more rare, and the variety of voices that could participate in our political dialogue became more limited. Many, many people were left feeling voiceless, isolated and unrepresented.

Now, opportunties to connect created by the internet are beginning to change that.

I wish journalists like Bai, and more of our political class, in and out of office, had a better appreciation, than they seem to, for not only how positive, but how absolutely necessary (for the health of our nation), that is.

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