Democrats to Progressives: We're just not that into you

not_that_into_youA modest proposal, perhaps.

It’s been entertaining watching American public “discourse” since the election. (I use that word in its broadest, most ridiculous sense, since nothing that hinges so completely on self-absorption, rank ignorance and pathological dishonesty can be accurately characterized by such a noble word. But indulge me. I’ve been working on my irony lately.)

On the one hand you have conservatives fainting dead away that we’re now in the clutches of a “socialist” president. Never mind that these folks wouldn’t know a real socialist if he was gnawing their balls off. Never mind that most of these folks think “socialist” is the French word for Negro. Never mind that Obama demonstrably is to socialism what Joe the Plumber is to brie-sucking Northeastern intellectualism. As arch-conservative TV pundit Stephen Colbert says, “this is a fact-free zone.”

On the other you have the righteous outrage of the progressosphere, which feels six different kinds of betrayed by a president who promised them the moon and stars and has now left them to what looks like at least a four-year walk of shame. If I might borrow from an old fraternity joke, imagine the following scene from the Oval Office:

Barack: Hey everybody, what’s the difference between a progressive and a toilet?
Rahm: I give up, Mr. President.
Barack: The toilet doesn’t follow you around after you use it.
[Entire Cabinet]: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

A few days ago Chris Bowers, one of the progressive blogosphere’s smarter and more influential voices, announced that he was becoming a conservative Democrat. His reasoning was compelling. Let me sample a bit for you (and encourage you to go read the rest as soon as you’re done here).

You can “endorse someone other than a Democrat for President, and then have the Democratic leadership do whatever it takes” to keep you in the Party. “You get ten times the media mentions that one gets being a progressive.” You get “more money, too. You can proclaim that you are a conservative Democrat, and still have small, progressive, grassroots donors be by far your top contributors.” You can “hold up, water down, and threaten whatever Democratic legislation you want” with no consequences at all. “You get frequent meetings with the President and proclamations that he is one of your own.” If you bitch about it you get “threats about never hearing from the White House again.” You’re “far more likely to receive a major cabinet appointment. Not even counting the Republicans, New Democrats outnumber Progressives in President Obama’s cabinet by 7-1.” And that’s not nearly all.

Okay, so maybe Bowers isn’t really abandoning his fellow progressives. Maybe he was just being a smart-ass to make a point. I can’t say I approve of such tactics, but hey, my old pal Jonathan Swift was known for the occasional snark, so who am I to judge?

The point is that progressives have a beef with the new fauxcialist administration, and regardless of what you think about their issues, their analysis or their personal hygiene, a review of the facts certainly justifies their pique. Think about it.

  • Obama the Campaigning Man was pretty clear in his disdain for the Defense of Marriage Act. Obama the President has apparently decided that gay rights can wait. (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? Don’t bother.)
  • Candidate Obama was balls-to-the-wall about greening the economy, and I mean yesterday. President Obama, whose favorability rating is running better than 2-1 for, seemed unable or unwilling to expend some of that political capital on the just passed ACES bill, which many experts think will accomplish diddley (or worse). (Again, whatever the eventual reality about this bill turns out to be is irrelevant – the point is that Obama did not act in accordance with the more progressive stance he had taken earlier.)
  • And what about health care? A recent New York Times/CBS News poll showed overwhelming support for “a government administered health insurance plan like Medicare that would compete with private health insurance plans.” How overwhelming, you ask? Overall 72% were in favor of the “public option,” and 57% said they’d be willing to pay higher taxes to get it. Hell, 50% of Republican respondents want it. So, you have very high approval ratings. And you certainly have a significantly greater mandate than George the Conqueror did after nipping John Kerry in 2004. You have significant majorities in both houses of Congress. You have overwhelming popular support for a public option. And you can’t get it done? Seriously?

I’m sitting here trying to figure out why corporate America, which would stand to benefit tremendously from having the burden of insuring the citizenry lifted from its shoulders, isn’t in open revolt. (That part of corporate America that doesn’t include the insurance industry, I mean.)

It has been observed that the Republicans seem to be more effective with a minority than the Dems are when they have the entire country by the balls. GOPpers derail the train by threatening a filibuster, but the Democrats can’t seem to head off a bad idea with a damned-near buster-proof majority. How the hell is this possible?

This, of course, is what’s known as a “rhetorical question.” The butt-obvious answer is that the contemporary Democratic Party is not really a party, at least not in the same way that the GOP is. Instead, it’s a bizarre amalgam of progressives, “moderates,” bipartisan fetishists, “New Democrats,” DINOs and opportunistic Republicans (see Specter, Arlen). The median at present lies significantly to the right of Richard Nixon, who despite the recent revelation that he was in favor of abortion in the case of half-breed fetuses, posted a record that would make him pretty darned progressive by 2009 standards. (Good thing you dodged that bullet, huh Mr. President?)

Ultimately, Bowers and other frustrated progressives are right. The Democratic party just isn’t that into them. They’re useful when votes are needed, but are utterly incapable of leveraging that into actual influence. As far as the “responsible” centrists are concerned, progressives are the late-date with no self-esteem, the unwitting fat chick at the pig party.

So, what to do?

Playing along isn’t working. So how about rounding up all the members of the Progressive Caucus (and their many allies around the country) and opting out? Leave the Democractic Party. Form a third party of their own (or just join the Greens). All of a sudden the Democratic Party has a numbers problem. All of a sudden they lose majority status, chairmanships, agenda-setting stroke, etc.

I’m no expert on the rules of the American legislature, so I’m sure there are nuances I’m missing. Nonetheless, I imagine the Republican wing of the Democratic Party would wet itself. And in the short term this could be very good for the GOP, which would find itself in the plurality.

Longer-term, though, it seems like the progressives can make an argument – and one that is supported by some actual evidence – that they represent the will of a goodly slice of the American public. Even better, given how the youth vote seems to be trending, they can also argue that their hand is going to strengthen over time. Are these premises accurate? Hard to say. But they are testable hypotheses, and the posit is certainly plausible enough to be worth examining.

Maybe the remaining Dems respond by making the reality of the situation official and decamping for the GOP. Maybe the Blue Dogs and the “moderate” wing of the GOP abandon those pesky snake-handlers on the right and form a new “centrist” coalition. Who knows. If that did happen, however, America would at least have the refreshing luxury of an opposition party that, you know, opposed. We could get all that corporatist DC clutter, which thrives because it dominates both parties, up for a real referendum. What a campaign hook – America vs. the Beltway.

Part of me says “what if it backfires?” But the other part of me looks at the state of the current union, at the looting of the last eight (or, depending on your taste for the long view, 29) years, at the energy way too many Americans have to devote to worrying about what happens if they get sick or injured, at the staggering cost associated with continuing to fuck around with the environment, at the fact that millions and millions and millions of citizens have no hope at all of financial solvency, at the knee-buckling stupidity of a populace that’s been victimized by a brilliantly conceived War on Education, at…. Fuck it. You get the picture.

Off your knees, progressives. The worst that happens is more of the same. At the least do us the favor of dying on your feet.

40 comments on “Democrats to Progressives: We're just not that into you

  1. I commend you for being out in front when it comes to the betrayal of the Progressive movement by the Democrats. The main stream blogging community (which, I guess will replace the MSM once that dies), has yet to feel or acknowledge their own buggery.

    I voted against exactly what Obama is doing.

  2. Bingo. I blame it on the Clintons. Eisenhower Republicans are cool…when they’re in the Republican Party.

    The only thing worse than a Republican is a Democrat, and vice versa.

  3. “Progressives” voted for Obama because they thought he wasn’t a typical politician.

    “Oh, look, there’s Obama with Michelle and the girls at the Eiffel Tower…!”

    See how it works now…?

    Is this a great country or what?

  4. Hey Sam,

    You’ve struck a nerve with me on this one… meaning I feel a strong resonance with you!

    I’m not sure yet what the best course of action would be, nor even what we could get progressives behind, but I think it would be a tremendous relief to draw a line in the sand between those who stand for the U.S. of A. and those who stand for the U.S. of (insert corporate charter here).

    Worse still is the stranglehold of “centrism” on progressive thinking and strategy. Here’s where I do most of my work. Luckily, there are new ways to engage and organize people through social media that stand to pull the culture right out from under the elites. This is why I spend more time talking to folks in technology, social media, and pop culture than I used to… because I see real cracks in that wall. And they are spreading. Much work to be done!

    My problem is not with Obama himself (whom I actually think is doing a pretty good job, all things considered), but with the entire political racket inside the beltway (which actually extends all across the land). I’ve watched the “elite democracy” of insider politics run its course. Now is the time for something different. A new progressive populism is on the rise, though you won’t see too much evidence at the national level of politics for a while. The change is happening in a diffuse way across the entire culture. It is emerging in the tendency to share via social media. It is lurking in the novel business models based on openness and transparency (and often run on open source software). And it is clearly pronounced in the entire millenial generation with their profoundly ecological thinking and their self-organizing tendencies.

    In solidarity,

    Joe

    • If nothing else, Joe, I think I’d like to see an election where people are voting for something besides the lesser of the evils. When was the last time the country was able to vote FOR something instead of against it?

  5. Pingback: Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » Democrats to Progressives: We’re Just Not Into You

  6. Good call Bonesparkle, though my experience with the last election was that millions of people did vote FOR something. They voted for the hope and change that was the promise of Obama. Contrast this with the feelings most people had about Kerry in ’04. It was hard to vote for someone so dispassionate and stale. Obama was (and is) a different story.

    Now we need to have more things that people can be for, and go well beyond elections themselves and into the realm of community improvement (where people can really sink their teeth in and see themselves making a difference).

    Best,

    Joe

    • Joe,

      Let me acknowledge your reply to Bonesparkle and amend what I think he was trying to say. Yes, people voted FOR something. Sadly, what they voted for was a tad on the illusory side. I suspect the real point is that we’d like to vote for something really real. Hope is nice, but it’s no substitute for the actual.

  7. Joe says:
    “My problem is not with Obama himself (whom I actually think is doing a pretty good job, all things considered)”
    Explain what he is doing well and describe the “all things considered” that imply that there is an obstacle.
    He has the popularity, the public madates and majorities in both houses yet you find a way to justify what looks like a Bush III presidency.
    The denial is painful to watch.

  8. Wasn’t Obama surrounded and advised by these New Democrat types throughout his entire campaign?

    I’m not saying the analysis is flawed or that action is unnecessary, just that progressives could probably have predicted this and had their cups (and a plan for this eventuality) firmly in place by Inauguration Day. But better late than never. And Joe’s practical optimism is refreshing.

    Personally, I think the President is adorable.

  9. Hi Scoutt,

    A few things Obama is doing well, in spite of a profoundly conservative “mainstream media” that attempts, rather effectively, to package him in distorted categories:

    1. Obama has gotten us to think about economic recovery in terms of investments in social infrastructure
    2. Obama has managed to shift discussion of Israel/Palestine from categorical imperatives to nuanced conversations – including adding beef to the two state solution that has been grossly absent for decades
    3. Obama has achieved the largest investment in renewable energy in U.S. history… with plenty more coming down the pipes
    4. Obama has made the conversation about what an effective gov’t MUST do, instead of the historical tone of what to be sure bad gov’t MUSTN’T do
    5. Obama has gotten beyond divisive rhetoric and has many conservative citizens looking to him as someone with a D in front of his name that they just might be able to trust (a big shift toward getting these same individuals to recognize that they share values with him… and those will be progressive values)

    I could go on, but I think it’s more important to recognize how much he has achieved in a few short months that never would have been dreamed in the nightmare of the Bush years (or the inadequacies of the Clinton years).

    Best,

    Joe

  10. Its easy to hang around with other progressives and see all the problems and complain that Obama is letting progressives down. But most people are not progressives and are not politically saavy like you, and unfortunately can be easily manipulated by the corporate, conservative interests. If he just listened to you, we’d have a Republican majority again in 2010. Change is slow and I’m glad we have a patient president….

  11. Joe,
    Everything you mention is abstract and without substance. “Gotten us to think about, Shift the discussion…, Made the conversation about…., Gotten beyond divisive rhetoric”. When you actually look at what HE HAS DONE, it is dreadful.
    BANKER BAILOUTS WITH ZERO ACCOUNTABILLITY
    DOMA, DADT
    NO SINGLE PAYER EVEN IN DISCUSSION
    EXECUTIVE POWERS EXPANDED
    TORTURE CONTINUES
    PREVENTATIVE DETENTION
    AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ
    CUTS TO MEDICARE/MEDICAID
    MOUNTAIN TOP REMOVAL (43 out of 46!)
    CAP & TRADE will do almost nothing to help with emission reductions

    And your one substantive “achievement”, investment in renewable energy, would have been done by any president at this point in time.

    Everything you like about the president is fluff and PR. Watch what he does, not how he performs.

  12. Hi Scoutt,

    It’s difficult to respond appropriately when you clearly feel very strongly (and negatively) about Obama. I don’t think I’d be able to convince you of how significant the things are that I pointed out. Maybe I’m wrong about you though… if you want to get a better sense of why I see these perceptions (and some actual tangible benefits) as so important, check out this article I co-authored with George Lakoff a while back:

    http://www.cognitivepolicyworks.com/what-we-do/cognitive-policy/why-voters-arent-motivated-by-a-laundry-list-of-positions-on-issues/

    The tone of discourse and values validated through it make up the life blood of politics. Losing the battle of ideas has been the place of progressives/liberals/independents for decades. Gaining ground by making our ideas legit is a HUGE step forward.

    Best,

    Joe

  13. Plus he’s actually quite a bit more of a government secrecy fetishist than Bush.
    He’s actually expanding the state secrets privilege beyond what Bush wanted.
    That having been one of the worst things Bush did, it isn’t helping Obama’s image much.

    There’s a reason he’s got conservatives trusting him despite the D in his name.
    That reason is because he is, for all intents and purposes, a republican. At least what a sane republican (oxymoron?) would be if they weren’t stuck trying to keep the religious right and the racists riled up.

    Patience? My patience went out the window when he decided gay people are unimportant and all that transparency in government he campaigned on was as well.

  14. I grew up in Louisiana, and when I got old enough to start paying attention to politics, I began to wonder why so many southern Democrats didn’t just join the Republican Party. After Nixon, many of them did.

    Nevertheless, the Democratic Party STILL can’t manage to break out of the control of conservatives. I agree that it’s time for some drastic action.

    I’m there for a third party.

    Carolyn Kay
    MakeThemAccountable.com

  15. JThompson,

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that “all that transparency in government” went out the window. Obama has opened up more of the government than any other president in my lifetime. Recovery.gov is a revolutionary breakthrough for transparency. I think you are wanting things to move more quickly than they possibly can. Changing over hundreds of government agencies (at multiple levels from local up to national) such that they are fully open and transparent is not even a practical possibility without creating new infrastructure, digitizing vast archives of information, changing the reporting and management practices of hundreds of buracracies, etc. It is not something that could happen over night.

    I get really concerned by reactionary criticisms of Obama that don’t take into account the very real complexities of large-scale social and institutional change. Working in this arena myself, I can tell you that moderately large organizations (such as a state level public employee union) take several years to shift management paradigms. The changes involve many things that aren’t obvious unless you work through them, including psychological, social, institutional, management, procedural, and more.

    Rather than sitting on the side lines and complaining that things aren’t immediately perfect on day one (or after six months), it would be more productive to look at the changes we’ve already seen through the lens of large-scale change. The changes so far are very impressive, despite a few legitimate concerns that we all rightfully have (I’ve got my own issues with Obama… but most of my gripes are about the racket in D.C. that goes well beyond any individual or institution).

    Also, if you want government to be more open and accountable, look for ways you can contribute to the process. Pointing fingers at someone else is going to be less productive than making changes ourselves and pressuring our representatives to follow suit.

    Best,

    Joe

  16. The worst thing Obama did was to screw the Chrysler Bondholders in order to pay back the unions. That single violation of property rights will reverberate for many years to come.

    Y’all really need to read Nock’s “Our Enemy the State,” the complete book linked below.
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig3/nock1.html

    Although written long ago, it is very current. Nock anticipated all of this.

    Taking power from the elites, short of a 1917 style revolution, isn’t going to happen. Y’all need to figure out another way to advance your agenda.

    Jeff

  17. Joe Brewer: Well, trying to overuse state secrets doesn’t seem very transparent.
    Along with, protecting Bush criminals.
    Preventing release of torture pictures/memos ring a bell? Protecting torturers in general, maybe?

    Reactionary criticisms? Really? He hasn’t done a damned thing that he promised to do that was important, and in most cases has done exactly the opposite, but these are reactionary criticisms? What the hell would be a valid criticism of him, then? Pretty much all he’s done is made sure the gravy train didn’t wobble for the upper 5%.

    I love the “Don’t point fingers!” attitude. Pointing fingers is EXACTLY what’s needed. When people are worthless, they need to be told they’re worthless. More importantly, they need to not be reelected. Next time I’m voting green or staying home.

  18. Obama’s campaign deserves a lot of the blame for any sense of perception that he’s not doing enough, because it carefully built a perception that things would be greatly different. But the voters deserve a fair bit as well for believing campaign promises.

    The problem is that the hole we’re in requires much more bold action than Obama and his party are willing to undertake. Half-measures and beginning to move in the right direction are simply not enough, especially when most of them are predicated on political viability rather than doing what’s right/needs to be done.

    The largest investment in renewable energy in US history is, in fact, a tiny sum when compared to other government expenditures. I’m neither a pacifist nor an isolationist, but it should be obvious that our military spending is the root cause of our financial woes. That’s an issue that Obama will not address. Someone will have to eventually, that is, if we’d like to draw down the empire and survive its fall.

    Clearly the Dems still have horrid nightmares about speaking honestly to the American people; they may never forgive Carter for doing it. But i remember Obama promising to do just that. He’s not, nor does it appear that he has any real intention of doing it. That he’s willing to ignore issues that are important to people who voted for him is troublesome: real health care reform, gay rights, reexamining the war on drugs. (on at least two of these issues, polling suggests that a good many conservatives are open to what could be called “liberal” solutions) It appears that he is unwilling to take on any entrenched interest.

    I believe that people took his rhetoric to mean that he’d put things above politics; there’s no sign of that. And what achievements he’s made look pale and sickly in that light. He needs to use the rhetoric and incessant media presence to move the American people, not triangulate his position…unless he wants to be just another politician and not a leader.

  19. Lex,
    With all of this government action regarding the economy not working, the best strategy would have been for the government to do nothing at all and let the chips fall where they may. It may be more painful at first, but the pain would be akin to a cut and not a huge slash, Government intervention tends to make economic downturns last longer, as evidenced by the great depression and the 1970′s malaise.

  20. Sorry, Jeff, but I don’t buy it. You’ve claimed that the economy is recovering in other comments on other posts, so something has changed to improve the economy. Convince me, with data, that the economy is improving because of some factor other than government intervention. I’m willing to accept the possibility, but I need proof.

    There are four basic possible outcomes here: economy improving/government intervention is the cause, economy improving/government intervention not the cause, economy degrading/government intervention is the cause, or economy degrading/government intervention is not the cause.

    Given that government spending has partially filled the private spending gap (30-50%, IIRC), I have a hard time believing that we’re in the “degrading/government spending is the cause” quadrant, although we could still be in the “degrading/government spending is not the cause” quadrant. In that case, however, it’s easy to argue that the spending gap has been partially plugged by government deficit spending and so government spending is slowing the pace of economic degradation, but is being overwhelmed by other factors.

  21. Brian,

    Please read what I wrote. I said “The government action regarding the economy not working.”

    Show me where any government action has improved the economy. Has the stimulus or TARP helped? Has the creation of Fiat money helped? Has the government diktat regarding the yield curve helped? Has the plunge protection team worked? Has the subordination of bondholders helped? Has the increased government debt helped the economy? Has the cronyism of the new administration helped…..they tend to leak numbers before the announcements(the ticker tape doesn’t lie), something the Republicans couldn’t get away with.

    Any improvement in the economy is due to the revaluation of assets which creates trade solely due to free market forces. The free market is the reason the economy is improving, not the government. The economy is improving despite the government, which only exists as a result of profits from the private sector, and what they can take from the citizens.

    Have you noted the uptick in the private savings rate?

    The bond vigilantes certainly don’t think the government is doing anything to help the economy, and any fool can look at the bond market performance and see that.

    This administration is reducing the number of incentives that would make a person want to start a business or be in business, vs. working in a job with little risk.

    Amity Shlaes from the CFR has some interesting stuff regarding government intervention.
    http://www.cfr.org/bios/7536/amity_shlaes.html

    Which brings me to the question…Does government spending really improve the economy or is it just window dressing?

    Finally, In the great depression, Roosevelt’s programs made what would have been a 3 year depression into one that lasted three times as long.

    Jeff

    • Finally, In the great depression, Roosevelt’s programs made what would have been a 3 year depression into one that lasted three times as long.

      I guess that’s one interpretation. Another is that they sparked the greatest sustained period of prosperity in the history of the nation.

  22. After WWII, and the great inflation of 1946, one could make a case of the greatest sustained prosperity in the history of the nation did take place after Korea. Eisenhower might have been asleep at the wheel, but he did do a good job.. Seriously, I will credit the GI Bill with a great part of that prosperity.

    Jeff

  23. The stimulus absolutely has helped the economy, although I’m less sure about TARP. The unfortunate fact of government spending is that it’s not as efficient as private enterprise and takes longer to have an effect (the flip side of this is that government spending is less volatile – once the money starts flowing, it tends to continue to flow), and so the stimulus is only now having an observable effect. With stories like this one, the effects will be significant – more spending on medical gear boosting sales of both durable goods and disposable medical gear (gloves, syringes, and so on). The economic impact of spending like this is directly measurable, as is the economic benefit from more people being healthy as a result of the health care spending. The Colorado Department of Transportation says that the stimulus money “created or sustained a total of about 2,600 jobs April and May” (link). Then there are all the programs listed on Recovery.gov, like $2.25 billion for highway construction in Texas (more jobs = improved economy), the Pell Grant program nationwide (more education = greater earnings potential = improved economy over the long run), and so on. And given that only about a third of the stimulus money has even been paid out yet, I think it’s fair to say that there will be even more job growth as a result of the next 2/3rds of the stimulus than we’ve seen so far. So yes, the stimulus money (and the associated increase in the national debt) has made the economy better.

    I don’t know enough about the yield curve or the bondholder complaints, although I can hypothesize an advantage to having the government overrule bondholders – if investing in huge companies that are “too big to fail” is made more risky by the fact that the government could step in and negate the bonds, then investors would be less likely to invest in massive companies. Given that IMO no company should ever be allowed to become too big to fail, this is potentially a good thing, although I’d have to study it more to know for sure. Companies were permitted through government inaction to become “too big to fail,” while government action, aka regulations, would have prevented the near collapse of the global financial markets when Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and would have eliminated the need for TARP, massive bank bailouts, and increased mil levies on banks by the FDIC that will shore up the “too big to fail” banks with the purchased assets of financially solvent community banks.

    I’ve noticed the increase in personal savings, and it’s a necessary short-term economic pain for a massive long-term economic benefit. Personal consumption at the rates of the last 20 years was not and is not economically sustainable. Again, value created out of nothing can turn back into nothing just as fast or faster. Money backed by real value that is saved and turned into more real value via lending will result in slower overall economic growth, but more stable and sustainable growth as well.

    As far as small business goes, more government spending tends to support small businesses due to the number of construction companies who qualify as small businesses. New housing starts and building permits are up, suggesting that lenders are clearing out the backlog of crappy mortgages (and thus that TARP is working at least a little), and sales of existing homes have been rising since bottoming out in March. Since the majority of homebuilders are small businesses, this is all good for small business and thus for the economy. We can probably debate for months whether this is a result of TARP clearing out the junk, but TARP money was intended to induce more lending, and you’re not going to have increases in housing starts and sales of existing homes without lending.

    I’ve also heard reports of a surge in small business formations from people who’ve been laid off and are trying their hands at being entrepreneurs, but I haven’t been able to track down data for or against the reports I’ve heard.

    On the topic of Amity Shlaes, Krugman has played “whack-a-mole” with her arguments here and here, so you’ll excuse me if I don’t buy her arguments, or yours that are based on hers. And I realize it’s all the vogue these days to blame Roosevelt for lengthening the Depression (another Shlaes’ invention), but that’s been strongly disputed by many, many economists. I’ll fall back on Krugman since he’s the economist I read the most, but he’s not alone by any means. Check out these links for what I mean: New Deal economics, Even more on nominal wages, Wages and employment, again.

    Obama understands that free market reality isn’t as neat as libertarian economic theory would have us believe. And frankly, until you can provide me proof that he’s wrong (and that I’m wrong, since I agree with him on this point, as I’ve made abundantly clear over the years we’ve argued about this), you’re not going to convince me.

  24. Brian, I don’t know if you understand the ramifications on your ease of allowing the government to negate bonds. Bonds are the cornerstone of the financial system, and negating bonds by decree is as much of a violation of our property rights as when the Soviets collectivized the farms.

    I, along with you, agree that no company should be too big to fail and that;s why Chrysler, GM, B0fA, and Citi should have gone into liquidation. It would have sent a message to the business community to excise caution. However, the politicians are more interested in votes, and prefer to use band aids instead of an amputation for gangrene.

    As for Obama understanding the free market, he understands it perfectly, and his cronies are getting rich off his corrupt administration(the tape doesn’t lie, they do leak numbers before the announcement). This cap and trade is a work of art, worthy of Madoff. Thanks to Cap and Trade, Al Gore will be able to upgrade his Gulfstream V.

    As for Krugman, we’ll have to agree to disagree. His partisanship has clouded his judgment, and although he’s an economist, he couldn’t trade his way out of a paper bag. Also, Nobel Prize winners can be crazy, just look at Linus Pauling. Some in the trading sector use Krugman and “The Economist” as fade factors, as they usually are behind the form.

    As for listening to economists, why would one do that? If an economist had any prescience or sagacity, he would be trading his own account, not bloviating to the hungry sheep looking for answers.

    Jeff

  25. I almost certainly don’t understand all the ramifications of bond negation – I admitted as much. Which is why I said that I could hypothesize a possible “good” for bond negation but would have to look into it further to know for sure.

    As much as I’m not thrilled with ACES myself (too many offsets and allowances given away, for starters), I think you’ve drank the Gore profits kool-aid. Yes, his portfolio benefits, but he’s on record as donating all the profits to green organizations – something that Fox News clipped out of their news reports after Gore appeared before Congress (I can find a link with proof of this if you’re interested). Still, I’ll admit it would be better if Gore just got rid of his problematic investments altogether to eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest.

    If the Feds had taken over the companies (GM, BofA, etc.) and dismantled them piece by piece, I wouldn’t have had any problem with it. My concern is that a simple failure of a company that large strikes me as a recipe for disaster. I read an article that described just how close the world financial system came to complete meltdown on the day Lehman went under, but I can’t seem to find it again – BofA being allowed to simply fail in the same manner would have had an even larger global effect. So a supervised bankruptcy and liquidation with temporary government support would have been my preferred solution.

    As for your “traders know best,” I’m finally calling bullshit. Here’s why.

    In my industry, electrical engineering, there are essentially two groups of people – designers and technicians. Designers know how to use physical laws and the available components to design a piece of electronics that does something that a customer wants. Technicians know how to assemble those components efficiently, how to test the finished product, how to debug problems, and so on. The two groups are complimentary and largely non-overlapping, although the best engineers have experience as technicians and the best technicians have some theoretical background too.

    This overall structure – technicians and designers – applies to every technical industry I’ve looked at to any depth. Healthcare has it with doctors and nurses. Construction has it with architects and contractors. Economics has it with economists and traders.

    Krugman and other economists like Shlaes (do you ignore her too, since she probably couldn’t trade her way out of a paper bag any more than Krugman could?) serve to understand the larger economy and provide both insight and guidance to how it works on a macro scale. Traders such as yourself provide the actual liquidity and are good at finding and profiting from the temporary advantage granted by various indicators. Both serve vital, and largely non-overlapping, purposes in the functioning of a successful economy. And I suspect that, as with designers and technicians, the best traders have some theoretical understanding of the economy just as the best theorists have some experience (direct or indirect) with trading.

    At this point, though, I’ve probably pulled this far enough afield to qualify as a threadfucker. My apologies to Boney for that.

  26. Yeah Brian,

    I don’t want to start a threadfuck as I seem to be in too many of them around here.

    Just so you understand where I come from, I listen to the same BS news that y’all do. We all hear the same guys pontificating, the same op-eds. etc. I don’t respect any of those guys for the simple reason that they have nothing personally invested. I respect someone that has an opinion and is willing to back it up with money, to risk money on their opinion, and that’s what trading is all about…..clarity Everything else in the public domain is just noise.

    Ayn Rand summed it up best when she wrote about traders. She said,

    “The symbol of all relationships among [rational] men, the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader. We, who live by values, not by loot, are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws. A trader does not squander his body as fodder or his soul as alms. Just as he does not give his work except in trade for material values, so he does not give the values of his spirit—his love, his friendship, his esteem—except in payment and in trade for human virtues, in payment for his own selfish pleasure, which he receives from men he can respect. The mystic parasites who have, throughout the ages, reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while honoring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their sneers: a trader is the entity they dread—a man of justice”

    Jeff

  27. Bonesparkle: “… progressives are the late-date with no self-esteem, the unwitting fat chick at the pig party …”

    Good post overall, but was that really necessary?

    jeff watson: “… We, who live by values, not by loot, are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. …”

    Wow. Conclusive proof that having an eightball to yourself isn’t 100 percent fatal.

    But seriously, you’d post something like that in earnest after a financial crisis caused by Goldman Sachs and friends? That’s funny.

  28. Natasha

    Did Goldman and friends cause the financial crisis or was it reckless government legislation? That’s the $64,000 question. Your link wasn’t really what you’d call to be objective.

    And that remark about the eightball just proved where you’re at as far as Rand is concerned. Traders might be reviled, but it’s due to envy.

    Jeff

  29. Pingback: Oh, so now we’re “Hardly Anyone” « The Confluence

  30. Welcome aboard. Many liberals knew all along Obama was Goldman Sach’s bagman. Anyone who paid attention last year knew. Obama’s prime directive has always been to bury the Left. This post is old news to many of us.

  31. I think it would be cool for the Progressives to take STRONG STAND FOR OUR CONSTITUTION and all those who paid the greatest with their live and limb! You know, the parts about all men are created equal; secure our borders and regulate interstate commerce and the like. Somehow, I do not think that is what Democratic progressives are about.

  32. Pingback: Conservatives, Progressives and the future of representative democracy: what would an American Parliament look like? | Scholars and Rogues

  33. Pingback: Conservatives, Progressives and the future of representative democracy: what would an American Parliament look like?

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