Stuff to Talk About

Miss Lucy is still with us. She has good days and bad days. Yesterday she perked up a bit and wanted to snuggle and purr for a while, but today she’s keeping to herself.

I am very, very busy and can’t linger here long. Here’s stuff I would write about if I had time to write about it.

Obama in Command: The Rolling Stone Interview.” I don’t have time to read it now, but if you read it let me know what you think. TPM has the juicy bits.

Timothy Noah, “Theoretical Egalitarians: Why income distribution can’t be crowd-sourced.” More interesting than it sounds.

Peter Daou, “How a Handful of Liberal Bloggers Are Bringing Down the Obama Presidency.” I’m not necessarily endorsing Peter’s view, but there’s lots to discuss here. I never thought the liberal blogosphere should march in lockstep with the Democratic Party; far from it. However, I do get irritated with the hysterical, anti-Obama hyperbole on some liberal blogs. One can be critical where criticism is due without sorting everyone in the world into “us” versus “them” piles.

Bob Herbert, “What Is Paladino About?” Some pretty sick stuff, apparently.

29 thoughts on “Stuff to Talk About

  1. Daou’s article is an important read. Somebody else made this observation and I agree with it: Between snarls and whimpers, the ego-possessed, self-involved American Boomer is a like a child playing at adult life. (And of course, I’m not a Boomer.)

    Obama – I think a Boomer – has found himself thrust into ‘adult life’ and seems to have yet not been able to make the transition between simply playing at it and having to deal with its realities. He hasn’t found his legs. I’m willing to wait a while until he does – unlike the child for whom all must happen immediately or it will never happen.

    • the ego-possessed, self-involved American Boomer is a like a child playing at adult life

      I think Boomers get a bad rap. (And of course, I’m a Boomer.) Maybe I missed it, but I don’t see the Daou article having anything to do with Boomers.

  2. Yargh. I made the big mistake of trying to start with the bottom link (Paladino) and work my way up. Sudden attack of nausea; had to bail out.

    Anywho. Take it easy, Miss Lucy.

  3. [message retrieved from spam filter — maha]

    I’m glad Miss Lucy is still with us.
    Sadly though, so is Carl Paladino, who blames the e-mails on “bad judgement.” Uhm, no Carl, wearing stripes with plaid is bad ‘bad judgement.’ So is wearing a brown suit that’ll contrasts with your pasty gray complexion (when he loses, at least he can have a career as a center-fold cadaver model for funeral home magazines). No, those may just be ‘bad taste.’ What would be an example of “bad judgement,” I wonder?
    I know! How about telling your wife at the time that she’s grieving your sons death about an affair you had 11 years ago and that you have a 10 yeear-old love child? That’s not just “bad judgement” that day, but 11 years ago, and several time in between, apparently.
    Sending out racist, sexist and pornographic e-mails is not an example of “bad judgement.” It’s an example of “NO judgement!”, whether it comes from a candidate for Governor, a businessman, or any figure of authority.
    Now, living in Upstate NY, I know that this kind of behaviour will only endear him to the inbred knuckle-dragging conservative nitwits and morons who live outside of the major cities and their suburbs (ok, some of them in there as well). But, even if they can remeber the date and figure out how to pull the lever on election day, he’ll still lose to Cuomo. This is NY, not SC, AL, MS, TN, KY, etc.

  4. maha, the snarls and whimpers coming from the dissatisfied, momentarily dis-enfranchised Left, as laid out by Daou anyway, reminded me of the quote. (I have two brothers living in Marin County, CA, – one is a Boomer and one isn’t – who regale me with laughter when they mimic the loves and hates of what they call tight-ass, latte-drinking, Volvo-driving, Left-loving Marin Boomers. They’re both confirmed Lefties and I figure it takes one to know one.)

    • momentarily dis-enfranchised Left, as laid out by Daou anyway, reminded me of the quote.

      Some of the snarly bloggers Peter mentioned are too young to be Boomers. Glenn Greenwald (b. 1967) is definitely a post-Boom Gen-Xer, and I’d bet Marcy Wheeler is, also, although I could be wrong. I nearly always guess that people are younger than they really are. [Update: Wheeler got her bachelor’s degree in 1990, which suggests she’s way not a Boomer.] Jerome Armstrong, Wikipedia says, was born in 1964, which technically might make him a Boomer, but I think anyone who was only 3 years old during the Summer of Love is no true Boomer. Digby is the only blogger Peter called out who is an unequivocal Boomer, as she’s not much younger than I am.

      This doesn’t have anything to do with Boomers.

  5. Daou seems to be saying that a rather tiny group of commentators is tearing up Obama’s presidency and that they have reason to do so. Am I reading that right?

    I don’t get any sense of what Daou thinks we should do about this. Or is it his contention that if Obama just listened to this tiny group of people very, very closely and implemented each of their preferred policies, he’d be extremely popular? It’s hard to tell from that post.

    The core problem I have with all the doom-and-gloom pessimism and criticisms is that it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When it comes to issues like state secrets, wiretapping, and needless detentions it’s just the facts that Obama hasn’t been much better than Bush. If pointing that out results in ordinary people becoming dissatisfied and disaffected from Democrats generally, however, and causes big electoral losses…what then? Do you ever remember, any time in recent history, the Democrats seeing big electoral losses as a sign that they should rush to the left and become exceedingly and unabashedly progressive?

    It’s fine to criticize the President for things he has direct control over, like DADT, renditions, detention, war strategy, and so forth. But he has simultaneously been blamed for all sorts of issues that are the responsibility and prerogative of Congress. The President can set an agenda and try to convince legislators to enact it, that’s all. He shouldn’t suffer the brunt of the blame when lobbyists and obstructionists step into the picture and distort, lie, and manipulate Congressional and public opinion to reshape legislation.

    Mainly, I think some of these leading “liberal bloggers” are lacking long-term perspective and patience. I have to ask: precisely how fast each particular policy would need to be changed/enacted in order for them to be happy…? We’d all like to see magic fairytale changes occur in just a year or two, but that’s not how a country operates.

    Some other things I’d like to know:

    Who did these big-time liberal commentators vote for in the 2008 Democratic Primary?

    Do any of them support fundamental changes to the electoral system, such as the divisible vote or point-ranking voting?

    How many of them support a Constitutional amendment explicitly stating that “corporations are not people, and are granted no rights under this document”?

    You have to be the change you want to see in the world. Complaints are so easy to make and do so little to move policy. Get out there and start some campaigns, initiatives, and rallies rather than pronouncing doomsday storms on the horizon.

  6. kagerato – RIGHT. “Get out there and start…” In fact, whatever happened to protesting in the streets, to standing on busy street corners with protest signs, to marching, to sit-ins and lie-ins and…This is a kind of stuff my generation did (and, maha, Boomers did it too, in fact in droves, so where are they now)

    The last time I participated in a protest was standing on Hawthorne Blvd here in LA protesting what it was clear was going to happen – the bombing, invasion and occupation of a sovereign state, Iraq. There should have been thousands of us, but alas there were about 100.

    The snarls and whimpers coming from the Left are about as effective as I am sitting at this infernal machine writing disembodied nothings.

  7. In fact, whatever happened to protesting in the streets, to standing on busy street corners with protest signs, to marching, to sit-ins and lie-ins and…This is a kind of stuff my generation did (and, maha, Boomers did it too, in fact in droves, so where are they now)

    Here in the Boston/New York/Washington corridor, from 2003 to 2006 or so there seemed to be one march/protest after another, some of which were genuinely massive, and people handing out fliers on street corners in many communities every weekend, and look at what it accomplished. Um, not much. May have helped elect Democrats in 2006 and 2008, possibly.

    I think an occasional march or protest can be effective, sometimes, under some circumstances. But as we learned from 2003 to 2006 you can sometimes get huge numbers of people together and still can’t even buy media coverage. As the Beckapalooza showed us, to get “heard” you need participation and cooperation, at least, of national media. Without that, you can pull together a crowd possibly twice as big as Beck’s was and the rest of the country will hear nothing about it.

    I’m one of the contrarians who thinks the anti-war movement did little to get us out of Vietnam, and that its main accomplishment was re-electing Richard Nixon in 1972. Without positive news coverage, big protests can hurt a cause more than help it.

    Some liberal groups are trying to put together a big protest in Washington for this weekend, if you’re interested.

    I’d go if I had money and time.

  8. I tried a few hours ago to post comments, but when I hit “Submit Comment” they disappeared.
    The gist of it was about Paladino. I’ve decided to not try to post the rest if this one comment takes:
    If you look at his pasty gray complexion, and the black under his eyes, you figure that when he loses the election, he can still make a living as the center-fold cadaver model for funeral home magazines.

  9. Gulag: LOL.

    I was thinking about his looks but couldn’t get the thought or phrasing right. You’ve hit it on the head.

  10. How a handful of liberal bloggers are bringing down the Obama presidency

    I was in the same high school class as one of them. I never knew her very well, but she came across as more of a pragmatic type back then – people smart. Dunno how the “principled” ideologue switch came about. But if David Horowitz can do a flying leap over center, maybe this is minor stuff. Maybe.

    I have actually asked Obama why certain things couldn’t be accomplished or even attempted.

    Okay, it was thru a representative from a blog who asked the Obama representative but he said the answer came from Obama himself, so I asked Obama, alright?. Anyways, the answer came back: “We’d love to do all that but are limited by political realities.”

    I’ve also been quoted by John Kerry on TV and at Huffpo. Alright, those ideas went thru Daou’s old blog at Salon. The internet… it sure is amazing how “it goes in here and comes out there”. (H/T the Brooks character in Broadcast News) I’m digressing…

    My point: A significant percentage of Obama’s disapproval rating comes from the kind of people Daou is talking about. But most polls usually don’t tell us this, at least not the ones the swing voter sees. And wingnuts usually lump all that disapproval together in with the teabaggers. “Lookit all the angry Americans” they say. And so goes the clueless swing voter.

    If liberal bloggers are gonna criticize, it’d sure be nice if they’d do it with those facts in mind. But who knows, maybe teabagger wingnuts in power will bring them more to talk about, more readers, more exposure, more revenues…?

  11. As I see it if we live in a democracy–big if-then it is our duty to be critical of politicians who do not pursue the policies we want and it is the responsibility of politicians to try and change our minds about what we want–it is called leadership–if they want our continued support. The Democrats have disappointed me enormously the last two years and Obama in particular. Admittedly, my expectations might have been unrealistic, but that came with the sales job that was done. It does not mean that I am going to vote for the GOP, but I could not bring myself to vote for Carter in 1980 (voted for Anderson, but we would have gotten Reagan anyway)and there are some Democrats including a 3 term Senator who is locked in a very close race, who I may not support in the midterms. As to Obama, well he has 2 more years to get his act together and we do not yet know the field or the issues in 2012. He is not going to endear himself to me, however, by telling me that I should be satified with his performance or the Democrats performance because it was so much better than Dumbya and his henchmen. That is damning with very faint self praise. Nor is it helpful to threaten me with the responsibility if the GOP recaptures Congress because I was critical of the Democrats. There is one reason and one reason only why the GOP may recapture Congress–the inadequacies of the Democrats and Obama. FDR was not whining about the left undermining his presidency in 1934 or 1936–he was whining about the Supreme Court. The Democrats could have fought the good fight and lost to GOP obstructionism. Instead they surrendered. Now if they still want my support, then they have to convince me that I wanted them to surrender without a fight. Good luck on that one.

  12. There are good and bad things that go with being a Baby Boomer & I am one of them. Obama was born chronologically on the cusp of the Baby Boomers and the Generation X that followed. However, his way of governing is pure Gen X.

    Baby Boomers want it all, because we had it all when we were growing up. This leads to combative, winner take all politics. If this is what you like, Hillary represented this style of politics, as she represents the Boomer generation. Boomers do big things (good and bad) because it’s in our nature to think and act big, to live life large, because that’s how it was when we were kids.

    Gen X people, by contrast are far more pragmatic, and more circumscribed in their actions. They’re more interested in finding ways to make things work, rather than mount tirades against ideological opponents (sound like Obama yet?). Ideology doesn’t mean a lot to them, because they’ve been forced to navigate and thrive in a world where large ideological systems are fighting each other.

    If the Boomers arrived just as the host brought out all the drink and food for the party, the Gen Xers showed up after most of it was gobbled up. They are used to taking what they can get, and not complaining about it.

    I’ve mentioned this book before, but “The Fourth Turning”, written years before Obama appeared on the national stage does a good job at describing the characteristics of the various generations.

  13. Enough with the Boomer comments, please. You cannot define entire generations that definitively and assume everyone of a certain age is a certain way. It’s just another method of stereotyping and is insulting.

  14. Reading Felicitiy’s and Moonbat’s comment on the differences between “Boomers” and “Gen-X”. Makes me feel like I am way out of the loop. The observations are certainly at antipodes to my personal experience and I freely admit, I don’t care about the issue enough to invest much effort researching it. I have greater interest in other things.

    So, as usual I offer observation and idle speculation, best taken with a grain of salt or ignored altogether:

    Part of this disconnect might be that I grew up in a working class family that survived some hardships, I was the first member of my family to attend college. I started saving for college when I was eight years old. I worked for farmers at harvest time when I could. I am beginning to sound like the cliche version of my father’s generation telling depression stories, and if I went on telling stories of my college years, that’s exactly how it would sound, especially to someone who attended college in the 80’s or 90’s.

    I think the oppositional nature of succeeding generations is partially a result of the rate of change in our society. In the 19th century, life and society didn’t change enough to create a significant shift in sensibilities between parents and children. My mother remembered horse drawn delivery wagons that she saw as a child and lived through the moon landing and well into the age of the internet. (She died not quite a year ago.) Most of that change occured after her formative years. But, after WWII things started to happen very quickly. I first heard the term “Baby Boom” when I was still in grade school. If described a phenomenon that had just past, roughly marking the decade after WWII. Obviously, that decade has been expanded to a longer period of time in the current definition. But, at my age, I can remember living without a TV or a telephone. To someone born just a few years later, especially to a richer family that would be like living on Mars. I guess my point is that the decade immediately following the war was very different from the world of say, 1960. People born in 1948 and those born in 1960 grew up in very different worlds and are likely to have very different sensibilities. So to my mind, extending the “Baby Boom” well beyond a decade and simultaneously asserting that it is an indicator of a set of common attributes does not make sense and it is not verified by experience. To me, it just seems like an extention of the hippie punching narrative.

    The pampered, Volvo driving (Volvo?), urban professional might actually exist in some form, but to offer it as the defining exemplar of a generation clearly avoids the issue of class. It does so by isolating a specific, economically determined demographic, reducing them to a cultural stereotype and projecting their perceived characteristics beyond their class context.

    I know only a few families with Gen X kids. If I wanted to project their personality flaws, separation issues and narcissism on the rest of their generation it wouldn’t be a pretty picture. But it would also be inaccurate. Bigotry and prejudice are not admirable or constructive devices for viewing the world whether they concern race, gender or generation. (PLEASE NOTE, I am NOT acusing anyone of being bigoted or prejudiced. But, the friction between generations often seems to go there.) The concept of succeeding generations may go the way of the concept of race. The separation of the continuum of mankind into segments based on certain sets of characteristics may be useful at times for purposes of research, but that doesn’t mean that it reflects reality. It’s distinctions may be imposed and arbitrary, and so might be the distinctions between generations.

    Sorry, I do tend to go on at times.

    • Reading Felicitiy’s and Moonbat’s comment on the differences between “Boomers” and “Gen-X”. Makes me feel like I am way out of the loop.

      To the extent that people are shaped by experience, it makes sense that people living at the same time and experiencing the same events would be shaped by those events. But it’s also true that people are shaped by class and society. So those of us boomers who came from primarily blue collar families from the Midwest will not have experienced and processed our generation’s events in the same way as upper-class boomers on the East or West Coast. So, speaking as a representative of the former, I get a bit twitchy about being lumped together with the latter. Their world was not my world, and vice versa. I would argue that an upper-class sense of entitlement is not a generational thing at all.

      Also, the “baby boom” officially occurred between 1946 and 1964. But someone born in 1964 would have little or no personal memory of many of the “peak events” that define boomers as a cultural group — Buddy Holly, Elvis before he got fat and weird, Chubby Checker, JFK, the Cuban missile crisis, the Beatles and the “British Invasion,” Martin Luther King, the Summer of Love, Woodstock, etc. They may have been dimly aware of Vietnam, but they are too young to have faced the draft. Culturally, IMO, baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1956, give or take a couple of years. And I would say that anyone born after 1960 or so has more in common with Gen Xers, culturally speaking, than boomers.

      I agree with moonbat that we were shaped by “big” times, as were our parents, although in a different way. I also agree that Obama (b. 1961) in governing style is much more Gen X than boomer.

      I disagree a little about the ideology thing. Gen Xers as a rule came of age post-Watergate, and many of them first became aware of politics during the Carter administration, maybe early Reagan years. Lots of Gen Xers were imprinted with Reaganism and movement conservatism, and lots more of them bought the crap about the awfulness of “hippies.” But I think it’s true that the generations after boomers, on the whole, are less carried away with idealism than we were and more likely to want the world to just not suck so much.

  15. goatherd and maha – It’s great to ‘hear’ from, shall I say, the ‘rest’ of America. As a San Franciscan (and now an Angelina) and growing up in the ’30’s and growing up in an upper-middle class home, my view of Boomers and X’ers even is obviously very parochial – and you both have done a good job reminding me of it.
    I stand corrected.

    I will take exception to, I think I read it correctly, maha’s belief that street protests etc. don’t accomplish much, perhaps even back-fire at times. It depends.

    We’ve heard it mentioned that there’s a professional Left and a professional Right, well, there’s also a professional Protester. We know how to get press coverage – extremely important. We know the best venues in which to hold the protests. My particular group spent 8 hours learning what to do and what not to do – emphasis on peaceful protests. (For instance, if you’re lying down blocking a street and the police ask you to get up, you don’t make the cop pick you up because that is ‘violent.’) Finally, more times than not, our protests have effected what we intended to accomplish.

    • I think I read it correctly, maha’s belief that street protests etc. don’t accomplish much, perhaps even back-fire at times. It depends.

      I didn’t say they never accomplish much. Sometimes, under some circumstances, they can be very effective. Or, they can backfire. Or, they can just fizzle.

      I took exception to the statement that no one was protesting much in recent years. I personally attended several massive protests/marches in New York City and Washington in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Some of the New York City marches in particular were huge, well into the hundreds of thousands of participants. I believe we clogged up at least a mile of Broadway a couple of times.

      You didn’t hear about that on the West Coast? Exactly.

      Now, there’s an attempt being made to stir up a big progressive rally in Washington this weekend. I’m predicting you will hear very little about it in the news, even if (and I’m not predicting this) it draws twice the crowd that Beck’s recent extravaganza drew. And, frankly, if it doesn’t make the “mainstream” news, it will have no effect, and nothing will change.

  16. I think an occasional march or protest can be effective, sometimes, under some circumstances. But as we learned from 2003 to 2006 you can sometimes get huge numbers of people together and still can’t even buy media coverage. As the Beckapalooza showed us, to get “heard” you need participation and cooperation, at least, of national media. Without that, you can pull together a crowd possibly twice as big as Beck’s was and the rest of the country will hear nothing about it.

    Well, you have a good point in that there is bias in big media as to what protests and rallies will actually be covered. It’s pretty clear they have less interest in issues and substance oriented rallies, especially those whose policies would severely shake up the status quo.

    Yet, Felicity also has an essential point in that there are good, well-run protests…and then there are flops. The kinds of symbols and statements you organize into your rally make a big difference as to whether it will catch attention. How you conduct yourself, who you talk to…it’s not all that simple in reality.

    Beyond that, I think there is an understated and very significant apathy or disengagement problem lurking under the surface. High voter turnout in this country for a national election is on the order of 60% of voters. That is rather sad, I feel. If the 40% who didn’t vote, all chose to vote for the same set of independent candidates, they could literally stage a government takeover in one election. Think about that…and then consider how the average turnout in a primary is on the order of 20 to 30%.

  17. Felicity,
    Those are noble ways to get your goals accomplished.
    I remember I learned ways to get passively arrested when we were protesting nuclear energy back in the day, when I was still in college. So, I took my turn at a nuclear power plant with the others to be arrested and carried off – but offering no resistance. As I watched people all around me getting carted off, I sat there wondering why no one was coming for me. I saw a cop walk near me and I asked him, “Hey, what about me?” I had wrestled and played football, so I was big and in good shape. The officer looked at me and said, “You’re too f***ing big to drag your ass up there, so we’ll just leave you.” After they got everyone but me, I got up and left. I was the only person NOT arrested. Try explaining that to the ones who were! Thankfully, they had seen me there, so they knew I wasn’t a coward. I still laugh at that to this day.

  18. “You didn’t hear about that on the West Coast? Exactly.” Listen, the NY based media don’t even report our weather out here. Unless we have one of our trusty earthquakes, it’s like we don’t exist – we apparently don’t have weather on this Coast?

    gulag – your experience was definitely a one-and-only first. Never heard of such a thing. For future reference – you’ve got to ‘arrange’ the whole demonstration ahead of time with the cops who, if they know what’s happening and so aren’t afraid, they’re amazingly gentle and cooperative and even apologetic when they slap the cuffs on. (Of course, one time I ended up spending 4 days in the county jail but I asked for it.)

    • Listen, the NY based media don’t even report our weather out here. Unless we have one of our trusty earthquakes, it’s like we don’t exist – we apparently don’t have weather on this Coast?

      That’s the job of local news and the Weather Channel. The point is that there has been plenty of protesting you didn’t know about. And the NY based media did plenty of reporting of Glenn Beck’s little extravaganza, but big protests by liberals in New York and Washington, including a couple that were within shoutin’ distance of the New York Times‘s offices, were ignored, which is why you didn’t hear about them. And media knew about these events, in advance. They chose not to cover them.

  19. MSMBC isn’t local news, is it? I’m hearing old Tom Jefferson say that we could lose all the ‘freedoms’ spelled out in the Constitution but as long as we retained freedom of the press, our democracy would survive.

    Your last comment would indicate that we’re losing even that – or we’ve already lost it. Very frightening.

  20. Felicity,
    There’s no such thing as ‘freedom of the press” when major corporations own the press. Cross-ownership of mediums by the same corporate entities have effectively killed that.
    That’s why they’re working so hard to kill ‘net neutrality.’ It’s the last haven for some sort of freedom of expression without corporate money and influence. That’s why the push is on to kill it.

  21. @c u n d gulag:

    Yet if we could get people to stop watching corporate-owned “news” networks, they would lose their power. The issue is dynamic and complicated. We can’t merely blame selfish corporations and their propaganda; we have to take issue with people who listen to narrow ideology and then call it news.

  22. kagerato,
    I don’t watch any of them anymore. Sure, I miss Keith and Rachel, but not one other second of those channels. I’ll watch clipes. Instead, I read books in the evenings, and I’m looking forward to the Yankees in the baseball playoffs in a week. They’re in, but they look AWEFUL for the last few weeks.

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