We Are All Not Libertarians Now


Lots of talk lately about a “libertarian moment.” However, it appears there may be few actual libertarians to have a “moment.”

A Pew Survey found that about 11 percent of Americans are libertarian, meaning they call themselves libertarian and know what the word means. However, among this group there were huge inconsistencies in their opinions, and on the whole their ideas about government policy are not significantly different from the views commonly held by a lot of other Americans.

And that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of people are libertarian but don’t know it. It means that libertarians don’t automatically endorse libertarian views. About four in ten libertarians said that government regulation of business is necessary to protect the public interest (41%). Others also said government assistance to the poor “does more good than harm because people can’t get out of poverty until their basic needs are met” (38%). Further,

…there are only slight differences between libertarians and the public in views of the acceptability of homosexuality. And they are about as likely as others to favor allowing the police “to stop and search anyone who fits the general description of a crime suspect” (42% of libertarians, 41% of the public). … Libertarianism is generally associated with a less activist foreign policy, yet a greater share of self-described libertarians (43%) than the public (35%) think “it is best for the future of our country to be active in world affairs.”

These are the ones who correctly defined libertarianism, mind you.

I wrote a few days ago that there seems to be more faux than actual libertarianism floating around. And I have also observed that it’s something of a party game for libertarians to denounce anyone in the public eye associated with them as a fake. The difference between the fake and the true libertarian is an elusive thing that defies measuring, however.

See also Pew: What If The Libertarian Movement Doesn’t Really Exist?


Ferguson: Same Old Trajectory

Stupid Violent Things

I want to add to yesterday’s post that events in Ferguson appear to be following a standard trajectory. The immediate impetus after such an apparent act of brutality is for the Powers That Be to go into “nothing to see here, move along” mode. When the community and many others rallied and asked for justice, and the PTB realized they weren’t going to get away with burying the incident, they went into their standard alternate modes of (1) demonizing the victim by trying to claim he had just robbed a convenience store, for example, although I don’t believe he did, and I understand the owner of the store didn’t file a police report, and there is no way Officer Wilson would have known about the convenience store, and anyway the convenience store episode may not have happened on the same day; many things are not clear.

And then there’s (2) making excuses for the cop. By now it has been thoroughly proven that the eye socket injury didn’t happen. Now we see white supporters of Officer Wilson claiming the shooting was a “good kill.” WTF? Based on what evidence we actually have — no, it was not.

I fully support the opinion that we should not declare Officer Wilson guilty of anything before he has had his day in court. There may be evidence that hasn’t come into public view that will shed a different light on things. But based on everything even partly substantiated has been made public, this was an utterly unnecessary slaughter of an unarmed young man who hadn’t been found guilty of anything, either.

This trajectory of events is so standard it’s nearly become ritual. Next time we could appoint Kabuki actors to play it out for us.


What We Don’t See

abortion, big picture stuff, Social Issues, Women's Issues

Of all the conceits common to humankind possibly the most insidious is that any of us are entirely rational. And often the most irrational people are those who brag about how rational they are.

Even if a person’s basic reasoning skills are sound, the outcome of his reasoning nearly always will be imperfect. That’s because nearly all of us “live” within limited conceptual frameworks that filter and sort information in artificial ways. The way we conceptually interface with reality is based partly on our own experience and partly on how we are culturally conditioned to understand things.  And most of us are blind to this, because if we and everyone we know is artificially filtering and sorting information in pretty much the same way, we assume our understanding of reality is the only possible one.

(I wrote quite a lot about this in my book, by the way, explaining the way our limited conceptual frameworks have impacted religion and have largely rendered it ridiculous, but it doesn’t have to be that way.)

Breaking out of the conceptual box we live in usually takes some extraordinary experience — and often a shocking one — to see that we’re living in an artificial world and that the “real” one outside the limits of our awareness is largely alien to us. And most of us amble through life without ever having that experience.

Even though few of us ever perceive that we’re living inside a conceptual box, if we run into people whose conceptual boxes are very different from ours we think those people just don’t understand the real world (meaning our “real world”). I could define maturity, even wisdom, as the ability to appreciate  and respect that other people’s “worlds” are just as valid as ours even if they are wildly different. I wrote a few years ago,

My view is that everything we think comes from a complex of psychological discriminations and impulses, little of which have anything to do with “logic.” The way we understand ourselves and the world begins to be shaped from the moment we’re born and continues to be shaped by the culture we grow up and live in. In other words, all of our understandings are biased. This is pervasive and inescapable. Often the difference between “logical” and “empathic” people is that an “empathic” person has at least a dim appreciation of his own biases, whereas a “logical” person is utterly oblivious to them. …

… Our conscious, cognitive understandings of things are based on internalized models of what we’ve been conditioned to believe is “normal.” We may be able to articulate our ideas and perceptions in a coolly logical way, but the process by which we arrive at our ideas and perception is “complex, unconscious and emotional.” This is always true, whether we want to admit it or not. …

… Generally being “fair” is not losing one’s biases, but perceiving one’s biases as biases. If you recognize your biases as biases, you are in a position to overrule them as the facts dictate. But if you are so unconscious of yourself that you don’t recognize your biases as biases, then your “thinking” generally amounts to casting around for support for your biases. Then you put the biases and the cobbled-together “support” together and call it “reason.”

And this takes me to what we don’t see. I’ve written before about the “default norm” syndrome, also called the invisible baseline fallacy, which in our culture means white maledom is the default norm, and perspectives and experiences that deviate from those common to white men are not respected as legitimate. If you are a woman or racial minority in this country you have bumped into this iron wall of assumption many times, but the iron wall is invisible to a lot of white men. Not all, thank goodness.

This is basically the same thing that people are calling “male privilege” or “white privilege,” although I don’t like those terms. The degree to which one’s assumptions, biases and experiences are “privileged” depends on a complex of factors that include health or physical condition, class, and wealth. A white male lower-income paraplegic is considerably less “privileged” than the Koch brothers, for example. As wealth inequality becomes more extreme a whole lot of white people are being left behind to a degree I believe is unprecedented in American history, and I assure you most of these people don’t feel all that “privileged.”

Money is privilege. People who have always been financially comfortable have no idea how much lack of money can be an obstacle to basic functionality in our society. The poor are taxed in myriad ways, from paying higher bank account fees on their meager balances — causing the very poor to not use banks at all, but then one must use check cashing services that also take a bite. Without a car you take public transportation, which eats a lot more time out of your day. And if you don’t have money for a bus you simply don’t go anywhere out of walking distance, which puts a huge limit on your job opportunities. Those left out of Medicaid expansion still have limited access to health care, and chronic, debilitating conditions often go untreated. Poor parents often are caught in the day care trap — they aren’t paid enough to afford reliable day care, but without that it’s hard to hold a job at all. So one is perpetually making seat-of-the-pants arrangements with people to watch the children, and then worrying if the kids are safe. Etc. etc. Many conveniences people with money take for granted are not available to the poor, and the inconveniences pile up and make day-to-day life an exhausting exercise in barely coping.

And then it is assumed the poor can’t get ahead because they are lazy. And it is just about impossible to explain the problem to someone who has been cocooned from it. It’s not part of his, or her, experience; therefore, it isn’t “real.”

As a woman I am sometimes surprised at how much even liberal men are oblivious to the extreme misogyny that still lingers in our culture. I wrote earlier this year,

Even those of us who have never experienced physical assault have experienced sexual intimidation, belittling and humiliation, aimed at us only because of our gender. And most of the time we put up with it, because what else can we do? Confronting some sexist bozo could turn an unpleasant situation into something genuinely dangerous. So how has the political Right responded to #YesAllWomen? Mostly with more belittling. Charles Cooke at NRO, for example, dismisses the social media phenomenon as “groupthink.” We women can’t possibly know our own experiences, apparently, and simply imagine misogyny because we’ve read about it.

Especially to conservatives, problems that middle- and upper-income white men rarely if ever encounter are not “real” issues worthy of being addressed by society or government, but are exceptions that the individuals affected must take care of on their own. The fact that these issues may impact all of us, directly or indirectly, and that the cause may be widespread cultural and institutional bias that upper-income whites feed on a daily basis, is invisible to them.  And you can’t explain it to them. No amount of real-world data or well-constructed logic makes dent in the iron wall. If it doesn’t conform to the conceptual box they live in, it can’t be true.

This is why it is good to have diversity of experience represented in decision-making bodies such as governments, for example. White men like to tell themselves they can make decisions that affect everybody else just fine because they will apply reason. But their reason is based on biased perspectives that fail to take many things into account. Publius provides a good example here — many rape laws used to require a woman to show she had resisted an assault to prove she had not consented. But this is a male-centric view. A woman understands that if she is being assaulted by a violent man much stronger than she is, her only hope of surviving may be in not resisting. (I remember a bitter joke from many years ago that the only woman almost certain to win a rape case is a dead nun.)

And don’t get me started on reproductive issues. Just a few days ago I was told I was too emotional because I passionately disagreed that abortion must be criminalized. Naturally it was a man, who will never be pregnant, who said this. Yes it’s easier to be emotionally detached from a issue when it’s not personal, and when the real-world experiences and consequences of that issue are merely hypothetical. It’s easier to be emotionally detached when you’re behind the iron wall.

Michael Brown is being buried today. If his killing, and what we’ve learned about Ferguson, hasn’t given us a clear picture of the evils and pervasiveness of institutional racism I don’t know what else will. Yet just last week I encountered a forum populated largely by white men who couldn’t understand why people are always going on about race. Why is race such a big deal? Isn’t it  all about making white men feel guilty?

But I certainly don’t give a rodent’s posterior whether anybody feels guilty. Guilt doesn’t so much as butter toast. Our country is becoming increasingly dysfunctional, in part because our institutions, especially government, increasingly reflect the views of only the most sheltered and privileged among us. And it is increasingly unresponsive to everyone else. And, weirdly, a big chunk of the population being left behind still clings to the cognitive biases that support policies that are hurting them.  Their collective conceptual frameworks are not adjusting; they still can’t see past the iron wall.

See also: Andrew O’Hehir, “White Privilege: An Insidious Virus That’s Eating America from Within.”


Dumb and Wealthy

Obama Administration

Charles Murray’s book The Bell Curve argued, I’m told, that America’s wealthy upper class naturally accrues money but it is smarter, thereby proving any idiot can write a book. But how is it, then, that so many wealthy people are so stupid?

Case in point: Chicago Cubs owner and CEO Thomas Ricketts. Earlier this week a heavy rain interrupted a game, and the ground crew at Wrigley Field were unable to cover the field with a tarp, and the game was called. The reason the crew failed is that there weren’t nearly enough of them present to do the job. And the reason for that is that Cubs management decided to save money by limiting the number of hours the grounds crew could work so that the Cubs didn’t have to pay for health insurance or be penalized.

Cheap,” said one of three high-ranking officials from other organizations the Sun-Times contacted Thursday – all of whom fall below the Cubs on Forbes’ annual revenues list.

Speaking to the industry standard for grounds crew staffing, all three officials said the video of Tuesday’s incident showed an apparently “undermanned” crew (of 15 pulling the tarp on the night’s first unsuccessful try).

“Embarrassing,” said one, “and they got caught.”

Also, too:

A spokesman for the Cubs, which are reportedly worth $1 billion and were the most profitable team in baseball in 2013, didn’t refute the claims when asked by the Sun-Times, but he denied personnel changes were responsible for the field tarp incident.

I guess one could argue you’ve got to be pretty smart to make the Cubbies the most profitable team in baseball in 2013, but they also came in last in the National League Central Division in 2013. In fact, the Cubbies were the only National League Central Division team that had a losing record at home in 2013. They were third from the bottom in the entire National League in 2013. It looks like they’re third from the bottom of the National League standings right now. Obviously, management keeps profits up by under-investing in the product.

Yeah, I know, it’s the Cubbies; they take pride in being losers. I don’t know why Chicago puts up with this, though. Eric Loomis:

The only problem with the Cubs enduring another 100+ years of failure is that it gives their fans a meme to organize around. Would another deserved 100 years help or make the franchise and its fans even more annoying, if that’s possible?

OK, so maybe it’s not Chicago Cubs management that’s dumb.


No, Ferguson Is Not a Libertarian Moment

conservatism, Libertarians

Libertarians are a hopeful crew, always looking eagerly for their moment that never comes. Now Nick Gillespie in The Daily Beast argues that the outrage at police brutality in Ferguson is a “libertarian moment” because libertarians have been warning us about the evils of police militarization and overreach, largely as part of the war on drugs.

And that’s true; a number of libertarians have been bringing up this issue for awhile. This is also a liberal issue, but one could argue liberals have been less vocal about it, possibly because we identify other issues (such as racism) as taking up more of our attention. But this brings me to the first reason Ferguson is not a libertarian moment — libertarians have no response to racism. And it’s undeniable that racism is at the rotten core of what happened in Ferguson. Libertarians like to pretend racism doesn’t happen, or if they acknowledge it, they do so only in passing (see Rand Paul). And then the next week they’ll turn around and say they don’t support civil rights laws, because big government.

And I feel compelled to acknowledge that many pure libertarians do not acknowledge Paul to be one of them, but as I have said elsewhere, pure libertarians are elusive critters who are seldom spotted, and even then as soon as they open their mouths and take any real-world positions on anything they are found wanting. Pure libertarianism must be like a hot-house orchid that must be kept in isolated and pristine conditions and wilts as soon as you buy it and take it home.

The other reason Ferguson is not a libertarian moment is that it illustrates an important liberal principle that often libertarians deny — sometimes the worst oppression is local, in which case citizens need to look to the federal government for remedy.  And, frankly nothing in Ferguson is likely to change unless the Justice Department gets involved.

Over the past few days spokespeople for libertarianism have argued they do so care about state and local government overreach, too. But I’ve had this argument with self-identified libertarians (although not pure ones, obviously) too many times. Many of them are sincerely more supportive of state’s rights than they are of individual citizens exercising their civil liberties. And it’s too obvious to me that the modern libertarian movement was born during the desegregation and civil rights struggle in the 1950s and 1960s, when federal courts and lawmakers and sometimes Presidents forced state and local governments to extend equal rights and protections to African Americans.

That said, Beverly Mann at Angry Bear wrote a great analysis arguing that many of our self-identified libertarians are not libertarians in any but a down-the-rabbit-hole sense. This pseudo libertarianism is “a narrowly prescriptive ideology that adopts extreme economic libertarianism and certain aspects of fascism,” she writes.

It is a curious brand of fascism that is peculiarly American, in that it artificially distinguishes between federal powers and state and local ones. A veritable foundation of this ideology formally or tacitly authorizes the use of state and local government police powers—by police, prosecutors, judges, prison guards–to engage in wholesale violations of American constitutional and international human rights. …

…What most of this crowd actually is is sort of classic-fascist-light, not libertarian. By which I don’t mean that they’re Nazis; Nazism was (and is) only one brand of fascism. I mean fascism more along the lines of the Benito Mussolini or Francisco Franco variety—a pairing of a muscular state police force left to its own (and the dictator’s) devices, and moneyed interests whose support the dictator an his party needed. Modern U.S. neo-federalism, a.k.a. “states’ rights!”–i.e., the right of state and local government officials and employees to violate individual, non-Republican humans’ constitutional rights—is libertarianism only in a George-Orwell-comes-to-Madison-Avenue sense, but it underpins much of Tea Party/Supreme Court libertarianism, if only ostensibly.

Do read the whole thing. But when the organs that claim to speak for libertarianism often are largely sponsored by the Koch brothers, what is one to think? Where in America is this pure and not corporate sponsored libertarianism found, unless you go full la-la and point to the Bundy Ranch militia?

And for years we’ve been dealing with conservatism that isn’t the least bit conservative. Richard Hofstadter’s pseudo conservatives took over American conservatism and drove traditional conservatism out of the movement some time back. And now we’ve got this weird coalition of pseudo conservatives and pseudo libertarians making up the dominant political power in this country. And if this is what we’re calling libertarianism, they’ve been having their moment for quite some time.

But if there are some pure libertarians out there who actually care about real individual freedom and the rights of unarmed black men to walk down a street in their own neighborhood without being killed by police, I sincerely apologize for making fun of you. But do take care if you leave the hot house.


The Fake Eye Socket Injury and Other Ferguson News

Obama Administration

Charles Johnson has been doing a better job than I have of keeping up with what’s going on in Ferguson. Among other things, he documents that an X-ray image being passed off as showing Officer Wilson’s eye socket injury was pulled off the website of the American Association of Pediatric OphthalmologyAlso, too:

In the video taken by an eyewitness immediately after the shooting, officer Darren Wilson is seen walking calmly around the body with no signs of discomfort or injury, even though by this time he would have been in very serious pain.

Also, no ambulance was called for Wilson, and no first aid was administered by other officers, which seems odd if he had indeed suffered this type of serious injury — or any injury at all.

So unless more evidence is forthcoming, the eye socket injury is bullshit. There is also a totally fabricated rumor that Michael Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson, who was present at the shooting, recanted his testimony. No, he did not.

And much of this nonsense is being generated by Jim Hoft, officially the Dumbest Man on the Internet.

I also learned at Johnson’s place is that one of the outside groups showing up in Ferguson to stir up trouble are the same bunch of anarchist bozos who tried to initiate violence at OWS demonstrations awhile back.


Shifting Excuses in Ferguson

Obama Administration

Fox News is running a story saying that Darren Wilson, the policeman said to have shot Michael Brown, was seriously injured by Brown during their encounter. He “suffered severe facial injuries, including an orbital (eye socket) fracture, and was nearly beaten unconscious by Brown moments before firing his gun, a source close to the department’s top brass told FoxNews.com,” the story says.

Just this morning the story was that Brown was approaching Wilson in a threatening manner, and Wilson fired when Brown was six or seven feet away. This is starting to remind me of the Zimmerman defense; every few hours some unnamed source dribbled out a  new version of what happened, or new details to make Zimmerman look better and Trayvon Martin look worse. And it worked for Zimmerman.

All kinds of things could have happened in Ferguson. Whatever the facts are, I hope there is an honest investigation, and I sincerely hope Officer Wilson gets a chance to present his version of events to the public, if not to a court. But this business of dribbling out details from unnamed sources to support the side of authorities is too obviously intended to cover everyone’s ass.

The article from this morning said the officer’s case could turn on whether he had reason to believe that Brown –  six or seven feet away when he was shot — was moving toward him in a threatening manner. Gee, it’s a shame law enforcement doesn’t have any way to incapacitate threatening but unarmed people except to shoot them multiple times and kill them. (/sarcasm)

Charles Johnson points out that among all the conflicting reports, there is testimony from both police and eyewitnesses that the first shot was fired as Wilson and another man were running away. Then it seems Brown turned around and walked back toward Wilson, either with his hands raised or in a threatening manner depending on who you ask. One of he several shots that penetrated Michael Brown entered at the top of his skull, news stories have said. Was he already falling? And somehow moments before the shooting Brown beat Officer Wilson nearly unconscious. Right.


Lawnorder Ain’t What It Was

Obama Administration

To most folks these days “Law and Order” was a television series featuring Sam Waterston as the irascible Jack McCoy and Jerry Orbach as the scruffy but lovable Detective Lennie Briscoe, plus a lot of other great actors and their characters. The spinoffs never quite came up to the level of the original, IMO.

But before that “lawnorder” was a common buzzword, particularly during the Nixon Administration, that excused police brutality toward racial minorities and “hippies.”  Crime was a great wedge issue for conservatives for a few decades, because liberals — with their confounded ideas about civil rights and fair trials — were seen to be “soft on crime.” And make no mistake, the word “crime” was very racially tinged in the minds of white Americans. Popular entertainment reflected the desire to throw out the rule books at meet the threat of thuggish criminals with more thuggishness. You could find this expressed in everything from Dick Tracy comic strips to Dirty Harry movies. Charles Bronson also became known for acting out common vigilante fantasies on the big screen. And even as recently as the 1990s many New Yorkers talked about “Giuliani time”as if it were a good thing.

Today the Washington Post is running an opinion piece titled I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me. And boy howdy, the comments are ripping this guy to shreds. Thousands of comments. Granted, the article itself is not as provocative as the headline. But I sincerely think that if it were, say, 1970, most of the comments would be “Yes, of course. Thank you, officer.”

Things didn’t change over night, but between 1970 and now, something has changed. Whether it’s us or the cops, I’m not sure. Maybe because there was no Internet in 1970, and most of us never heard of police dumping paralyzed people out of wheelchairs (seriously; google “police dump man out of wheelchair”; it’s a regular genre).

Hard core conservatives still make excuses for police brutality even as they wave their flags for “liberty.” So not everyone is keeping up. In Ferguson, the “authorities” are playing their usual game of selectively dribbling out information to make the shooting of Michael Brown appear justified. But it seems to me there is not so much widespread acceptance of the official narrative as would have been true even two decades ago.


True Colors

Obama Administration

The American Right loves to portray itself as being all about freedom. Liberals, on the other hand, hate freedom, according to the Right. Seriously, google “liberals hate freedom” sometime. You will find gems such as Five Ways Liberals Try to Control You.

Liberalism is an ideology that believes in control, not freedom. That’s why liberals love the federal government so much while they detest states’ rights. It allows them to bend hundreds of millions of people to their will with one imperial edict. It’s also why liberal judges don’t believe in the Constitution like conservative justices do.

Here, apparently, is the catch:

Sticking to one set of rules means people have freedom to do what they want as long as they adhere to the basic rules our society was formed around.

I infer that conservatives are the ones who get to decide which are “the basic rules our society was formed around,” which are the rules we all must follow, because freedom.  My favorite of the five ways liberals try to control you is #2, “Liberals want to control your major life decisions.”  Like, maybe, when to have children and whom to marry? Oh, wait…

Also awhile back, the Koch Boys released a study titled “Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom,” and in this study the blue states were persistently less free than the red ones.  If that doesn’t jibe with how you understand things, it’s either because the Koch boys define “freedom” in a way that lines up with their own interests (lower taxes, less regulation) and bleep you, or you hate freedom. I’ll let you work that out.

In other words, American righties are indeed stalwart defenders of liberty as they define it. Andrew Leonard pointed out that the three least free states, according to the Koch boys, are California, New York, and New Jersey.

The millions who cluster on the coasts delight in their thriving arts communities and smorgasbord of dining options and the sheer intellectual stimulation that accrues from the helter-skelter activity of a big city. Many of us have agreed to an implicit trade-off: We’ll put up with the impositions of big government because we are getting something essential out of the deal. Freedom is not a zero sum game. And you know, some of us might not even think that paying high taxes to support a robust safety net for those less fortunate is the worst thing that ever happened. We might even pride ourselves on it.

I grew up in rural Missouri and now I live just north of the Bronx, and in all ways that count (to me) there is more freedom here. People are less rigidly conformist here. You can wear mismatched shoes and a cone on our head without starting a riot, for example. If you are an artist of any sort you are freer to express yourself, even in outrageous ways, here. The coastal cities have long been more tolerant of homosexuality and less likely to restrict reproductive choices. There’s much more of a live and let live attitude. Yes, you put up with more crowds and bizarre parking restrictions, as well as higher living expenses, including taxes. As Leonard said, it’s a trade off.

I bring this up because I just read about a panel of Fox News “experts” who supported the police overreach in Ferguson, Missouri. This is showing their true colors. “Liberty” to the Right is defined by the values of authority figures. We are to receive as much liberty as our leaders think is good for us (and them).

And imagine the apoplexy had militarized cops gone after the Cliven Bundy militia.

As I wrote earlier this week, there are many on the Right who do seem to realize the militarization of the police force is a bad idea. Yet these same people refuse to see the racial issue. And while there are reports of gun rights groups calling for an end to the militarization of police, they don’t seem to be supporting it very loudly.

In short, the Right is just fine with Freedom as long as Freedom is defined by Authority, including Authority with military gear. They support the right to carry assault weapons to shop at Home Depot  but are not so sympathetic to unarmed black men being killed by cops or some neighborhood watch play-pretend sheriff.

True colors, I say.


No Ideological Battle?

Obama Administration

By this time next year the presidential primary campaigns are going to be getting serious. A lot can happen in a year. Candidates with early media buzz often fall apart. I refuse to predict anything now. Still, it’s getting a little late for someone we don’t already know to get traction and become a serious contender.

So who are we stuck with? The GOP, according to this article, has Paul, Cruz, Christie, Perry, Walker, Rubio, and Jeb Bush in the first tier, but each of these guys has some kind of big oozing liability going on. Governors Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence and John Kasich are possibilities if the first tier falls apart. Jindal is his own liability, although I haven’t spent much time looking at Pence and Kasich. There’s even some buzz about Mitt Romney running again. Good luck getting a personality transplant, dude.

But the Democratic possibilities depress me. I don’t want Hillary Clinton. I rarely hear from anyone who does.Yet I keep hearing she is popular! But with who, I wonder?

This article talks about five potential challengers to Clinton. And who are they?

We all love Liz Warren. The entire progressive Left would take a bullet for Warren. But she says she’s not running.

I have mixed feelings about Joe Biden. I like him, but I don’t have a strong sense of what sort of President he might be.

I keep hearing great things through the grapevine about Martin O’Malley, but if he wants it he’s got to start making a bigger splash.

I love Bernie Sanders, but he’s not really a Dem, and of all the possibilities I think he’d be the weakest general election candidate, I’m afraid.

Russ Feingold? Really? The article says he’s not been on anyone radar of late. There’s a reason for that. He’s flaked out on us once too often.

Martin “Booman” Longman brings up Al Gore. Out of politics for too long, I say. Martin says O’Malley hasn’t caught fire with the grassroots, but I think that’s because they don’t know who he is.  If we assume Liz Warren really isn’t running, then of this entire field he’s in the best position to offer himself as the I’m Not Hillary candidate. But he’s got to make more noise.

Are we really going to just sit down and hand the nomination to Hillary Clinton? Martin writes,

Is the left even in the mood to have an ideological battle in 2016? Perhaps there is some appetite for it, but I haven’t seen it reflected in our elected leaders. The Republicans are acting so badly that the left has united in response and reaction.

Personally, I’d be up for an ideological battle, but I am not going to lie to you and say that I see many people by my side.

But, dammit, we should be having an ideological battle. Now is the time progressives ought to be pushing the the Democrats as far left as they can be pushed. Hillary Clinton does not reflect many of our values. Why aren’t we fighting about this? I honesty don’t understand.

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