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Member since: Wed Jan 18, 2012, 10:29 PM
Number of posts: 2,661

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For the record, I do believe that many rich, powerful Saudis-including individuals within the govt.

and quite possibly, even some members of the House of Saud (which has 15,000 members, FWIW-of which only 2,000 or so exercise most of the power over official Saudi state policy), actively have supported-and continue to support-or sponsored Sunni extremist groups around the world. All of this is not only possible, but very probable.

The thing is: the House of Saud, as we are all aware, is a heavy-handed autocracy that has zero accountability to the Saudi people. But moreover, they are loyal to each other, based on long-lasted family and tribal ties, as well as on their common religious/political ideology of Wahhabi Islam. Consequently, the House of Saud's members have a lot of latitude in "private activities"-which for at least some of them, almost certainly includes exporting their ideology abroad via fanatical, violent extremist groups that have included Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

Furthermore, it is also quite plausible that within the Saudi government (particularly its intelligence agencies), Al-Qaeda has agents or sympathetic individuals, at least, represented.

All of this is speculation/conjecture on my part, though. We won't know for sure until those 28 pages are declassified. The fact that they haven't fuels the conspiracy theories and suspicions of complicity and coverup. So for that reason-and more importantly, because the 9/11 victims' families deserve to know the full truth-the pages ought to be released.

John Adams (The American Presidents, Day 2)

1735-1826; served as President from 1797 to 1801. Home state: Massachusetts.

Thoughtful, insightful, critical historical analysis of his Presidency-or him, and the historical context in which he lived and became President-from all perspectives welcome.

George Washington (The American Presidents, Day 1)

1732-1799; served as President from 1789 to 1797. Home state: Virginia.

Thoughtful, insightful, critical historical analysis of his Presidency-or him, and the historical context in which he lived and became President-from all perspectives welcome.

Idea for a thread series: High-quality (I hope!) discussions of every US President

It would go simply like this: Every day, I would post a President's name in the thread title, and their photo in the message text. Maybe a couple background bits of information too-their party, the year they were elected, their date of birth, their date of death (if applicable), the state they were from (or lived in when they became POTUS), etc.

My hope in this is to get some really thoughtful, quality, historical analysis of each of the men that have occupied the Oval Office. This will be harder for some than for others. Some Presidents were very transformative; others were forgettable. Some were incredibly controversial; others played it safe. The point is to get people thinking, and to hear a multiplicity of viewpoints from a wide variety of perspectives. Oh, and I will guarantee that I will participate in each of the threads as best I can.

What say you, DU? Should I do this?

Or rather, cause most of the people who disapprove of the Republicans in Congress

Either don't vote, or are packed into gerrymandered high-density Democratic districts.

The Republicans can win in the House and Senate even if they lose the popular vote nationally (as they did in 2010 and 2012-well at least the House). Turnout in midterm elections is notoriously abysmal. Thus, a Republican congressman can say he won with 70 percent of the vote in his district-but he won't say that only 30 percent of the voting-age population (VAP) in that district actually bothered to show up to the polls. 70 percent of 30 is slightly over 20 percent of the adult population.

Sucks, doesn't it?

The Republican Party becoming more "Libertarian" won't help them with young voters. Here's why.

The contemporary young adult population (of which yours truly is a part of) is considerably more ethnically and racially diverse than the older generations (and by that, I mean no disrespect to all of the awesome Democrats who are from those generations-many of whom post right here on DU! ). That alone is enough to make the younger voters more likely to be Democratic. It also makes them less likely to support the "rugged individualism" that dominates Libertarian (and Republican, to a certain extent) rhetoric, for many minority communities in the United States have always stressed social, economic, and indeed, racial justice for all people, and furthermore, have treated these as collective action problems for society.

On top of that, there are issues of gender and sexuality that matter to a lot of young people. To put it simply, the issues of feminism and the rights of the LGBT community matter greatly to the young generation. Libertarians take a "hands-off" approach (if they're not hostile, of course-many are, frankly) to so-called "social" issues, but by doing so, they reveal that their priorities as Libertarians do not include issues that are of particular concern to the LGBT community or to women.

Finally, there is the issue of class. Libertarians, if you weren't aware already, have harsh, callous words for the nation's poor. And why not? After all, most Libertarians come from wealthy or relatively wealthy families that have benefited from the "free-market" capitalist system (though the benefits of government that they also receive seem lost on the Libertarians...).

There are other reasons for why Libertarians are a distinct minority among the young population. Think of all the paranoid/crazy conspiracy theories that many Libertarians subscribe to. Or their aggressive, bullying, dogmatic tactics in debate (particularly on the Internet, where Libertarians are hilariously over-represented). Or their obsession with obscure historical economic ideologies that no one takes seriously anymore. Or their unabashed, unapologetic, unashamed intellectual defense of unregulated, untamed capitalism.

In conclusion, I really don't see how Republicans would benefit from reaching out to a relative handful of spoiled suburban brats and Internet trolls-groups that are very much NOT representative of the young population (or the population in general). If Rand Paul is the future of the Republican Party, they might as well call it quits now.

It's an extremely unpopular agenda

And Republicans who aren't at least one or more of the following:

(a) rich people who don't want to pay taxes
(b) selfish assholes who, having attained some degree of comfortable lifestyle, wish to hold on to their personal assets at the expense of everyone else,
(c) people who harbor prejudice against minorities, women, LGBTs, etc.
(d) people who are willfully ignorant/intellectually lazy and are thus, easily influenced by the fear-mongering of the corporate right-wing media and politicians

Are increasingly rare.

Why are some states/areas in the US more politically progressive than others?

As opposed to the..um, decidedly not progressive states and areas. Why are some more so than others?

They have a more urban population, yes. They have a better educated populace, yes. They have higher median incomes, yes. They have a younger and more mobile population, yes. They have lots of diversity-racial, ethnic, sexual, and in terms of family or household structure. They have stronger environmental protections, and more extensive social welfare programs, and more wealth-building and job opportunities, and more progressive policies and views regarding women, ethnic and racial diversity, and more progressive views among the broader public, in general.

The question is: What accounts for all of these differences? What caused what?

I like looking at the historical development of different parts of the US for some clues and indicators. Additionally, the political traditions and culture of any given area is important to consider. Economics matters-was the area industrial or more agrarian; if the answer is the former, did the area diversify its economy and invest heavily in science, technology, research, and the public sector? If the answer is the latter, was the area part of the slave economy of the Old Confederacy, or perhaps a more "backwoods" area of the frontier that hasn't changed very much, relative to most other areas of the country; or was the area one of independent, self-sufficient family farmers? (If it was a family-farm area, is it still like that today-if not, when and how did it change?)

Furthermore, what were the religious-cultural influences of the region-was there religious and cultural diversity among the immigrants or homogeneity? Were the original European immigrants to the area wealthy and/or well-educated, or not? From which countries did immigrants come from, and what was the political situation in their respective *home* countries (as well as in the US) at that period in history? Were the immigrants Calvinists, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Quakers, Jews, or none of the above? How did the religious beliefs and practices of the original immigrants influence any particular local political culture-as well as influencing society more broadly in that region?

Finally (and this is particularly relevant to answering the question in the thread title), has there been any significant history of movements for social change in the area, whether it be labor organizing and activism, Socialist and Communist Parties, feminism, gay liberation, civil rights for racial and ethnic minorities, anti-war movements, counter-cultural movements, etc.? If so, were those movements ruthlessly destroyed by reactionary elements of the dominant culture (as was often the case in this country's history), or were they integrated into more "respectable" middle-class reform movements? Were attempts at union organizing successful in a given locale, or not? What enabled cooperation? What divided a local labor movement? Lastly, do the interests of socially marginalized groups-the poor, the working class, women, minorities, the LGBT community, immigrants, and groups who (statistically speaking) aren't as likely to vote-get any consideration or representation in a given area?

These are just some questions, thoughts, and ramblings of mine. What do you guys think? Does any of this make any sense?

"Pursue your individual economic self-interest": This is what everyone in the US is always told...

Self-interested competition. It's one of the ideological cornerstones of capitalism. But in an advanced capitalist society like ours, who is really competing? Not big businesses, certainly, nor are the wealthy who run said businesses. They are largely insulated from competition, and the effects of competition.

No, "free-market" competition applies to the labor force-the working class, the vast majority of people whose only real asset is their ability to work-more than anyone else. In the neo-liberal world of the 21st century-with rapidly growing inequality, a shrinking "middle class", unions being eviscerated at every turn, social welfare programs being gutted at every level of government, environmental destruction on a global scale, and the overall quality of life for the working classes and the poor becoming worse by the day-the capitalist ideology of "pursue your own individual economic self-interest" takes a more sinister turn.

The bottom line in the neo-liberal era is this: One worker's self-interest comes at the expense of everyone else. Notice I specified worker, because the capitalist class, as I stated before, doesn't have to compete. That is their privilege in the capitalist system. They write and enforce the rules (for the rest of us), but they certainly don't play by them. Instead, society is now structured to where economic growth is almost wholly concentrated at the top. The pittance that "trickles down" to the vast working class is for individual workers to fight over (No wonder, then, that some workers side with the capitalist class-they are desperately trying to cling onto THEIR share, at the expense of everyone else! They really have internalized the "pursue your own individual self-interest" ideology-which, in the neo-liberal era, becomes a matter of self-interested, ultra-competitive survival). In neo-liberal society, JFK's famous "A rising tide lifts all boats" becomes "A rising tide lifts all yachts...with a couple of lifeboats for the remaining 99% of you to fight over."

If this sounds inhumane, unjust, disgusting, and horrifying to you.....then you have been paying attention. The only problem is; how does the working class unite as a group, when all the messages and conditions in society, the economic system, politics, etc.-the ruling ideas of the age being those of the ruling class-effectively tell us that we are atomized, isolated, selfish individuals who must ruthlessly and viciously compete with each other for the CRUMBS that "trickle down" from the plates of the ruling class?

Just because this is our reality now, doesn't mean that it should or will remain that way.

-My $0.02

The Democratic Party =/= the Left

Not then, not now, and, likely, not ever.

Also, liberal =/= the Left. The former group prides itself on adhering to gradual, structural reform, on working within the existing system to improve it and make existing institutions more responsive to the needs of the public. The latter group wants to fundamentally change the existing system at its core, if not overthrow the whole system entirely and create a new one.

This is not Western Europe, where socialist political movements actually were integrated into the existing liberal capitalist societies in the 20th century (The results of this "compromise", as it were= European social democracies, more or less). The socialist movement in this country was ruthlessly and violently destroyed. The two are not comparable historically.


What about the New Deal, and FDR? Well-did the New Deal fundamentally change or challenge the way capitalism operated in the United States? I would argue that it did not. Rather, the dramatic expansion of the American "welfare state" in the mid-20th century was part of the process of integrating the working classes into capitalist society, granting them "concessions" to give them a stake in the liberal-capitalist system (Of course, women and people of color were essentially excluded even then...).

The New Deal was as much about heading off the threat of the revolutionary Left and ensuring the long-term stability of the capitalist system (or even the short-term, as the experience of the 1930s demonstrates; a huge number of people were dangerously close to losing all faith in the entire system) as it was about a sincere commitment to economic and social reform-though don't get me wrong, I do believe FDR and his allies were sincere on both counts. I just don't think that we should confuse the pragmatic and reform-driven actions of the Democratic Party with the radical political platform of the revolutionary Left.

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