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Predator State: "Let's take the wayback machine to 1992."

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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 02:22 AM
Original message
Predator State: "Let's take the wayback machine to 1992."
The Democratic candidate proposes to Put People First (on sale now for 55 cents)...After his victory in November, with the wind of a Democratic Congress at his back, he said the deficit was worse than he had imagined, and this revelation would require scaling back his spending commitments...In the actual event, public investment increased at a slower pace than under the first term of either Bush Administration. The "bureaucracy" -- the source of personnel empowered to regulate the predators -- was reduced not by 100,000, but by 447,000 positions. This was paralleled by an increase in contracting out to another nest of predators. As for the commitments regarding trade agreements, they went by the boards.

None of these deviations were grounded in public opinion. Rather, they were the preferences of elites with inordinate influence in both political parties. They are the predator state. Not the forest rangers, clerk typists, judges, or postal workers.

Is there a difference between parties? Sure. How big a difference? The answer is, as big as you want to make it. The candidate of change might take on the predators if a lot of someones demand it. Step one is realizing what the problem is.

-Max Sawicky

http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/08/12/politic... /.



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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 02:35 AM
Response to Original message
1. There are some positive differences in the types of victory for each candidate
And in the way the Congressional races came out.

In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected with only 43% of the popular vote. The Democrats, while retaining control of both houses of Congress, made no gains in the Senate(holding 56 seats, hopelessly short of the margin needed to break a filibuster)and lost 9 seats in the House. In addition, Democratic legislators and President-elect Clinton had to contend with the phonomenon of Ross Perot having taken 18% as an eccentric, self-funded independent candidate who was focused, almost exclusively, on the issue of the deficit. A lot of Congressional Dems noted that their margin of victory was smaller than the share of the vote that went to Perot in their districts, and concluded from that that they had to take a "hold the line" position on spending, as the new Administration did itself.

This year, Barack Obama because the first Democrat to win a majority of the popular vote in a presidential election since LBJ. The Democrats gained seats in both houses(although they remained short of a filibuster proof-majority in the Senate). And the corporate class, who were able to wield the whip hand on economic issues against a Democratic incumbent who the right-wing media relentlessly argued had not been legitmately elected(due to his failure to get a majority of the vote)are now on the defensive do to the banking crisis.

This gives President Obama(and let me say now how good it feels to type those two words)far more room to maneuver, particularly if(unlike Bill Clinton)he keeps his nerve and cooly faces down his opponents.

Not utopia, of course, but much more favorable conditions for avoiding betrayal and surrender than those that obtained in '92.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 03:15 AM
Response to Original message
2. So how do you suggest we stop that from happening?
Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 03:23 AM by Radical Activist
What you're posting is well covered territory. We've been hearing it from Nader and everyone else to the left of the Dems for a long time now. It wouldn't be so tedious if it were apparent that you're posting it with constructive intent. As it is, I'm left wondering if you're hoping to be proven right like those who believe they need to undermine confidence in Democrats in order to advance their own party or ideology.

There are many constructive ways to move the country farther left during the Obama administration and I'm not convinced that beating that dead horse about how "the Democrats are the same as Republicans and sure to betray us" is one of them.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. except it doesn't say that, does it?
one way to keep the administration from moving right would be not to make excuses for it if it makes bad choices, & to stop shouting down those who criticize those bad choices.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:28 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. There's no shortage of naysayers.
Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 12:29 PM by Radical Activist
My asking you for a suggestion for positive action wasn't meant as an attempt to shout you down. I get frustrated with cynical arguments that don't also provide a contrasting vision for doing something positive.

But since you didn't make one, my suggestion is for people to attend the neighborhood meetings the Obama campaign organization is convening. It's a way to talk about issues with fairly like-minded people, make sure that Obama is always hearing from his progressive base, and potentially push the agenda left. I imagine they will also be used to pressure moderate to conservative members of Congress who oppose the more progressive parts of Obama's agenda. This is how we'll likely avoid a repeat of '93.

In my town change meeting for example, we decided that universal health care was one of our top three priorities and everyone quickly agreed that real reform meant taking the profit motive out of the health care system. That message was sent as part of our report back to the campaign. Now, maybe that will be ignored but they claim to take this feedback seriously. I think that's an avenue for effective activism and serious on-the-ground organizing more than one more online petition or protest where people mostly stand around. Protests are a good thing but at some point we have to do real organizing and talk beyond our usual circle of progressive friends.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Not enough naysayers, apparently, as witness how most of the populace & most of the Party
Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 01:29 PM by Hannah Bell
signed on for Iraq. I spent over a year organizing locally against that one & it did precious little good, as the corporate-state propaganda machine outshouted all such efforts, even though they were bigger than those of the vietnam era.

Your "positive" amounts to organizing some folks to pressure the admin - under the leadership of the admin itself. I can think of some not-so-nice ways that can play out, excuse me for my "cynicism".

Difference between your "positive" & the "negative" you complain of? Nothing. Criticism is pressure. Criticism is "talking to people".

The problem with Iraq wasn't the people. They wanted to let the inspections process etc. proceed until they got steamrolled by the propaganda machine - cranked up by both sides. Organizing is fine, but there has to be something responsive on the other end, something which isn't organized to shut down the criticism & suggestions it doesn't like.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:49 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. The innefectiveness of the modern peace movement
is something I could write a lot about another day. I agree that this movement was large but it isn't doing a number of things that the Vietnam era movement did do. The tactics and approach of UFPJ and most other established peace groups is too cautious and limited.

Yes, there are some not so nice ways that participating in the change meetings can play out if Obama is insincere about using them as a vehicle to listen and respond to people. By participating there's at least a chance that he'll listen and respond. And having issue-committed activists participate means Obama may be forced to change course if he finds his grass-roots support isn't behind him on an issue. But, allowing cynicism to keep us on the sidelines guarantees that they won't go the direction you want.

I see a big difference between specific, constructive plans to push the agenda left and all the doom and gloom about how no Democratic President can really be progressive and he'll turn out to betray us just like Clinton did etc. I probably would have liked the article you linked much better if he identified his step 2 beyond realizing what he sees as the problem.

It's nice to have a President who was one of the naysayers about Iraq.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 02:45 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. The editorial is not from a "leftist," but from a liberal economist. It didn't include any:
Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 02:55 PM by Hannah Bell
"doom and gloom about how no Democratic President can really be progressive and he'll turn out to betray us just like Clinton did etc." It recapped the clinton sellouts, said sure there's a difference between the parties - how big? - big as we want to make it, don't forget the past.

Step 2 is obvious, all the handwringing & cries for "constructive solutions" to the contrary. It would be facilitated if the party muckety-mucks would stop ridiculing legitimate criticism of rightist policy moves & trying to channel people into accepting policy they have no say in.

Ordinary people are quite willing to organize & pressure gov't - if they believe they'll get access & have an effect. To the extent they don't, it's partly because they've learned otherwise - through experience. On the right, as well as the left, & it's no accident.

I read on the front page O. is making some moves re lobbying. I applaud that - but with misgivings, as the problem is not lobbyists per se so much as the outsized voice given to those with money & connections.

oh, & my own anti-war stint is with the very kind of local group you cheer, to the extent of helping organize a letter-writing campaign, letters to the editor, & public educational sessions at our small-town college - not simple protest.

& completely ineffective at rebutting the national propaganda machine & its local, highly connected, wealthy & influential echo chamber seated in the top reaches of our local business & public service sector.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 03:49 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Step 2 isn't obvious at all.
I suggested what I think is one effective step 2 and you immediately dismissed it. The change meetings are where the popular progressive movement is now happening and it would be disappointing if many progressives failed to participate because they're convinced it's a waste of time.

Sorry, but what you just wrote is what I had in mind when I argued that established peace groups like UFPJ aren't doing anything effective and it's no surprise that you didn't get results. That isn't the kind of organizing that creates political power. Organizing campaigns based on convincing existing leaders to do the right thing with a little public pressure work once in a while for easier issues, but when it comes to something like a war the only way to end it is to put them in a situation where they have no other option. I don't see any organized peace groups who are willing to do that.

Political power comes when a group has the ability to kick someone out of office or substantially muck up somebody's latest scheme to get rich at taxpayer expense. Getting groups of people together to organize their neighborhood can lead to that kind of power. That's what the Obama change meetings are preparing to do. Writing letters and "raising awareness" doesn't.
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 03:57 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Americans are quite 'organized' already. We just need to be activated
We are 'organized' by our ideals.

Can you imagine what would happen if Obama got on national teevee and called for a single payer nonprofit healthcare system, and at the same time told us that he doubted the Congress would pass it unless millions of Americans showed up in DC to support him?

If you thought the Inaugural crowd was large...
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Ideals can remain passive indefinitely.
Having ideals is a far car from organizing for political power. Lots of people with ideals spend plenty of time sitting on their ass.

Obama did something pretty close to what you just wrote. He asked people around the country to have local meetings about health care and discuss what kind of reforms they're looking for. What do you think will happen if he hears that in 90% of those meetings people demanded a single payer nonprofit system? He might just propose it. And when he does there will be organized groups all over the country to harass their member of Congress to vote for it.

Of course he won't hear that message if people who support single payer decide that since Daschle is at HHS and Obama must be another corporate DLC Democrat it would all be a waste of time. This is a good example of why I'm always harping about cynicism being a barrier to progress and action.
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 04:09 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. He doesn't need those meetings to know that people want single payer
Sorry, but those meetings are window dressing.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 04:14 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. It's called organizing.
We do need those meetings to:
1) Inform more people about single payer because frankly, many people still have no idea what that means.
2) Build an organizational base to pressure members of Congress.

Getting single payer will be a lot harder than just getting Obama to say he favors it. You have unrealistic expectations about Obama's power and how much public effort it will take to pass it through Congress.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. Organizing, yes - but for whose goals? The goals of the rank & file, or
the goals of one wing of the ruling class?
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #16
19. The goals of the attendees.
That was the purpose of the meeting. We talk about what OUR priorities are and let the transition team know. Then we started making plans about building support for a single-payer system. Is single payer the goal of the ruling class?

The idea that a Democratic President might listen to people and enact a progressive policy agenda challenges your world view doesn't it?
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:49 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. Let me know which of your suggestions is enacted. And also, which of your suggestions
not previously suggested by the PTB is enacted.

"The idea that a Democratic President might listen to people and enact a progressive policy challenges your world view"

not at all. like i said, i applaud results, but not before the fact.

i do try to avoid unprovoked personal attacks, though.



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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:37 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. Have you been to one of these meetings?
:shrug:
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:28 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. yes.
I was the host of one and attended another.
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:58 PM
Response to Reply #18
24. ahhh. That would explain your uh...enthusiasm then n/t
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:01 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. That I actually do something besides posting on DU?
Yes, I actually back up my opinions with action. Suggesting that this somehow invalidates my views is asinine.

Are you saying you haven't had interactions with the Obama campaign since election day? Why not?
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:04 PM
Response to Reply #25
26. No, no. It doesn't 'invalidate' your view at all, just helps me understand it
Nothing wrong with that.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:10 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. ok
I'll stop being defensive now.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:20 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. Same tactic a corporation uses: the "suggestion" box. Plenty of corp-speak books on such
"motivational," "participatory," techniques for "managing" employees.

Then they hand out cheap little pins, & retain full control of policy.

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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #15
20. chances that they will accomplish something good with your attitude:
Absolutely zero. You can't accomplish something if you don't try.

Chances that these meetings can be an avenue for change if we at least attend and try: much, much better. Your cynicism is placing you on the sidelines and making you irrelevant.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:45 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. You don't know anything about what I do in my personal life. It might be that
the tendency to turn political discussion into personal denigration is part of the problem. Here, & elsewhere.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:15 PM
Response to Reply #8
14. I've attended plenty of local meetings, for many years, on many issues.
Edited on Wed Jan-21-09 05:28 PM by Hannah Bell
You make my point for me. Nothing gets done if it requires those holding power & resources to give some of them up, unless you have countervailing power & resources to force them to do so, and when the rank & file are dependent on the existing power structure for their very livelihoods, that is who they'll most often follow & listen to.

Your neighborhood meetings, organized by the faction of the existing power structure supporting Obama, may be highly effective - in getting the rank & file to support THAT FACTION'S policy goals. That's a GIVEN, self-evident. Give Joe Blow down the street the money, mouthpieces, & support from capital, & if he's half-way competent, he could organize a substantial proportion of the population to follow the Church of Satan.

One's "organizing skill" isn't demonstrated by what one can do with the support of established power brokers & billions behind him, but what one is able to do without such support. and fyi, the national "anti-war" movement is funded by those same power brokers, for their own reasons - not for ours. Thus they can turn the spigot off & on as they please. You may call it "organizing," I call it "controlling".

Whether Obama's policies will, in the end, benefit the rank & file is less obvious, & whether any important input will actually come from the rank & file is too.

I'm willing to acknowledge results, but not before the fact.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:55 PM
Response to Reply #14
23. You really don't get it.
You wrote: "Your neighborhood meetings, organized by the faction of the existing power structure supporting Obama, may be highly effective - in getting the rank & file to support THAT FACTION'S policy goals. That's a GIVEN, self-evident."

No, it isn't evident or a given at all. It's a knee-jerk assumption based on tired, canned lines about the Democratic Party.

Everything Obama has done with this campaign and throughout his career reflects community organizing principles. This new organization growing from the campaign is also run on those community organizing principles. Attendees were asked to do two things: 1) Discuss what issues WE cared about most and report that back to the campaign. 2) Plan for a national day of service action. (You know how Che always emphasized volunteer service to others, right?)

We did that at the meetings I attended and planned a follow up meeting to work on single payer health care. We chose the issues, we're determining what we do, and we hope Obama will respond to what groups around the country are saying. We also volunteered for shifts at an overnight homeless shelter. Last time I checked single-payer and homelessness were not the top issues of the "established power brokers." We also made contact with the other groups in the city to work together, which just connected a number of area progressive activists in a way that no existing organization has managed to do so far. So all the evidence suggests that your "self-evident" or half-assed assumptions are incorrect.

Do you really think all the progressive, informed people involved will allow themselves to be completely co-opted by a conservative agenda if Obama asked them to? You have far less faith in activists than I do. Maybe you think Obama supporters are all dupes.

Obama is showing you how a grass-roots national movement that responds to the people is built.

You wrote: "I'm willing to acknowledge results, but not before the fact."

That's fine. You can sit back and sneer at the progressive movement while it passes by you and I'll actually work to make those results happen. You can acknowledge the results after others do the work.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 03:26 PM
Response to Reply #23
28. not all neighborhood meetings have something to do with the democratic party, you know.
and you haven't gone to many small-town meetings if you don't understand that multi-generational power groups run local politics, & are connected to higher-level power bases.

like i said, report back when your recommendations are enacted, especially if your recs differ from the ones already in the air.

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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 03:59 PM
Response to Original message
10. K&R for shining more light on The Predator Class
:thumbsup:
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