Monday, December 28, 2009

Ms. Vanden Heuvel Would Like To Introduce ...

Caption: Arrgh. The Stupid. It's Paineful. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

As Jane Hamsher noted, there's been a bit of nonsense floated around by the Washington, DC elite recently. It's written by some anonymous blogger who calls himself "Arrgh Paine". He appears to be someone connected with the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). At least, his opinions read like their press releases. (Late note: He claims to be "not involved in any political campaign" or paid to write what he does, and I have seen no proof to the contrary. Let's just postulate that he's had a diet rich in David Broder and too light on reality.)

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation, has been flogging this bit of nonsense today as if it were the Sermon On The Mount or the Gettysburg Address. Yes, that's the same Katrina VDH who writes plaintive e-mails to me every few days begging me to buy her magazine so it won't go out of business. Let's just say that her support of this nonsense is an example of why The Nation deserves to go out of business - it seems to feel like its principal role these days is to front for the DLC and any other so-called "moderates" who are willing to sell us out for a little campaign cash. Sorry, Katrina, no sale here. You see, I've been victimized by your buddies Rahm and Barack enough that I can't afford you anymore.

I'll print the text of that bit of doggerel in a moment with my comments, but I also want to remark, once again, about the utter lack of response on the part of people who disagree with the concerns I've expressed here and here about this bill. It's as though they don't exist. The only problem is that if this bill isn't passed, these people seem to believe, we'll lose "momentum", that magical thing that football teams blame for their losing games. No one has yet answered the question I posed, which is what in the world makes you think this bill won't be worse for our momentum? So for every one of you who comes up with that lame ass argument, I have only this to say:

Why are you trying to kill the Democratic Party? Why are you trying to make progressives look bad by passing a bill that will make things worse, and giving the Republicans an excuse to say that health care reform can't work here?

See, I can do it, too. And, it actually makes as much sense. So please, take your lame, self-serving intuitive argument elsewhere, or answer the fracking questions.

Now, to the concern troll in question:

Ms. Hamsher;

It is with deep respect for the passion that you have for the progressive movement that I am writing. I understand the frustration that disappointment can foster and honor your commitment to pushing the progressive agenda.

An Open Letter To Jane Hamsher

I honor them, that is, except for making condescending and baseless accusations for the rest of this letter, that is:

I do not doubt that you genuinely feel that your very vocal opposition to the Senate health care bill is in the absolute interests of the American populace and progressive politics. I honestly believe that you feel that the administration has let you and other progressives down by not publically pushing harder for elements in the bill that we all hoped would survive the legislative process.

What I doubt is that your actions will ultimately serve the advancement of the progressive agenda that you obviously care so much about. I believe in fact, that quite the opposite will be the result. Pushing for the very best bill that we can get through this congress is laudable, attacking the administration for dealing with the reality that is congress is not.

An Open Letter To Jane Hamsher

OK, let's stop right here. What in the world do you think the progressive agenda is? Because, so far none of my progressive agenda has been achieved. We're no closer to achieving universally available health care than we were when Bush was in office, and at this point I don't think that many of us will live long enough to see it. You're going to talk about what Congress is willing to do? Who the hell do you think they work for? Who do you think got a great many of them elected? It wasn't Barack Obama. If all they had to count on was him and Rahm Emanuel, half those ungrateful bastards would still be at home screwing up someone else's lives. Instead, the got to go to Washington and do it to us. Maybe they ought to consider that before they decide what they're not willing to do.

The idiocy continues:

The 2000 presidential election graphically demonstrates what I mean. Ralph Nader had no chance of winning, and yet he remained in the race. Mr. Nader quite correctly pointed out that in order to keep his agenda in the debate he needed to remain even if it meant Gore would lose votes to a lost cause.

Mr. Nader was absolutely right to stand up for his principals and stay in the election to make sure that his message was getting out. The point is this, if Mr. Nader had dropped out of the race that election would never have been close enough for the Supreme Court to hand to George Bush. Al Gore would have been the 43rd president of the United States and Ralph Nader would have come a lot closer to having the things he cared about realized. Mr. Nader was right, but how far back did he set his own agenda?

An Open Letter To Jane Hamsher

Having voted for Nader, I remember why I did it. It was because I didn't think Nader's agenda, or mine for that matter, had a hope in hell of being implemented by either of the people running for President from the major parties. Having lived through the Clinton Administration and the first year of the Obama Administration, I think that feeling was justified. It still isn't happening.

In the meantime, Al Gore has become his own man, thanks to his not needing to run for President. Maybe in the future he'd be worth voting for. He wasn't back then, though. Nader's candidacy resulted from Nader's belief that neither Gore nor George W. Bush would work to help Americans at the expense of the corporations that were, and still are, running things here. If Gore had been such a candidate, Nader would not have been in the race. Gore started out with a substantial lead in the race, and gradually triangulated away support. He lost the race. Nader didn't lose it for him. It's still fashionable to say otherwise, but the reason I and other people voted for Nader is because it was clear that he was right.

In short, Nader's candidacy and what resulted is proof that this letter is not only wrong, but it's so wrong that it could be the prize winner in the next International Wrongness Festival.

At the end of the day it comes down to results you don’t win by being right. It is possible to be completely right and yet damage the cause that you are advocating. As a progressive that is acutely sensitive to the extraordinary damage that was done to this country by the Bush administration I see the need for many democratic terms in which we constantly push the country towards more progressive ideals. Change does not come overnight, we don’t have the luxury of eviscerating our fragile majority for not moving quickly enough. The United States will not survive many more administrations like the last one.

An Open Letter To Jane Hamsher

It's not going to survive many like this one, either. In just about every way that matters, the Obama Administration has shown that it is no different than the Bush Administration. It refuses to renounce kidnapping or killing people without trial. It refuses to prosecute the people who carried out torture. It hasn't really closed Guantanamo Bay - it just moved it to Illinois. It just dropped the nomination of Dawn Johnsen, who had been nominated for the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which is the office that is responsible for setting standards for DoJ conduct. She is a fierce advocate for reforming the torture and kidnapping practices the U.S. government engaged in during the Bush Administration. The Obama Administration did nothing to try to get her nomination through the Senate. Why? Perhaps that has something to do with Obama's taste in foreign policy advisors.

"Eviscerating our fragile majority?" What in the world has this "fragile majority" gotten us but a bailout of the banks at our expense, a stimulus bill that was at most a quarter the size it needed to be to do any lasting good, and a health care "reform" bill that principally serves to transfer more government wealth to insurance companies? As an American, why do I care if that "fragile majority" is eviscerated? Why do I care if it exists at all? Don't tell me that Republicans would have done worse, because so far, you're wrong. Even the bank bailout, which supposedly "saved" us from a depression, was largely the Bush Administration's.

Please consider the progressive agenda as a whole while in the heat of each individual battle, your voice is respected and desperately needed on our side.

An Open Letter To Jane Hamsher

The progressive agenda as a whole is not being served at all. Neither Obama nor the Senate want it, and I doubt the House is all that interested, either.

Frankly, people like this Arrgh Paine strike me as so out of touch with what we in the land of "Outside DC" are going through that I have to wonder if he knows anyone who is either in the lower middle class or poor. My guess is that he doesn't. Whether that's true or not, until he can answer my questions intelligently, he doesn't have an opinion that's worth the light it's written on.

I don't care whether Democrats are running things or Republicans. I don't have a bet going on who will win the next election. I want the country run well enough that at least the next couple of generations can have a standard of living roughly equal to what we have, or that they at least are free, not starving, and have decent health care. If the Democrats don't want to deliver that, and it's abundantly clear they don't, then they don't deserve power, and there's absolutely no reason that we should give it to them.

If Arrgh Paine wants to see that "fragile majority" stay in place, here's what I suggest he do: Go back to whatever Democratic politicians he's so enamored of, and tell them that they and their other DLC and Blue Dog pals had better start working for ordinary Americans for a change. Otherwise, they can kiss their majority goodbye, and I, for one, won't be the least bit sad to see it go.

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