Exterminate the Brutes

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Glenn Greenwald, hands still raw from his campaign against Barack Obama's FISA vote, makes the case for purging conservative Democrats.

Democratic leaders must learn that they cannot increase their majority in Congress by trampling on the political values of their own base. It's crucial that they understand that they will not gain seats, but will lose seats, the more they accommodate the right's agenda. That, in turn, will happen only if progressives target for defeat selected members of the Democratic caucus who are responsible for that right-wing-enabling behavior. That is the only way to eliminate the incentive for the Democratic leadership to continue to follow the strategy of increasing their own power by mimicking Republicans. Those who disagree with that—who object that it is oh-so-terrible to cause the defeat of any Democratic incumbents, no matter how complicit and irrelevant—have the responsibility to identify what alternative strategy they think should be pursued in order to alter the behavior of the Democratic Party in Congress.

Defeating scattered, individual Democratic incumbents—even if it means that a Republican wins—will result in nothing negative. What is the difference—specifically—if Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emanuel have a 43-seat margin of control rather than a 56-seat margin? There is no difference. Far more important than the size of the Democrats' majority is the question of who is dominating and controlling that majority.

Greenwald envisions a smaller, more effective, Viet Cong-like Democratic majority. Thoreau is skeptical, and so am I, if the goal is a Congress that votes Greenwald's way on privacy issues. The majorities for telecom immunity were built not by caving in to Blue Dogs, but by lobbying, legal bribery, and political gamesmanship. If you want to see how money affected the vote, look at the number of black Democrats, from some of the safest districts in the country, who voted the wrong way. They're basically unbeatable, and they want to vacuum up campaign donations anyway, so they made easy marks for telecom lobbyists. A version of Greenwald's theory has been tried out in these districts, and between the first and second FISA bills, sure enough, some safe-seat Democrats switched their votes because they were terrified of challenges from the Left.

UPDATE: Hm. Greenwald responds.

Those who want to change those statistics by finding ways to undermine and defeat incumbents are disruptive purists who are just like Communists.

Believe it or not, I wasn't using "Viet Cong" as a pejorative description. I was just looking for a way to describe brutally effective guerrillas who brook no dissent and defeat wealthier but less-organized forces. I credit the idea Greenwald is talking about here with changing some minds in the Democratic conference, actually. 

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  1. The purge should begin with Obama. Why is he immune?

    By the way, Republicans do this sort of thing all the time — to their own detriment.

  2. The purity debate will never go away, even when we have the majority in the House.

  3. The simple, sad fact is that a majority of Americans believe that we should do “whatever it takes” to deal with “the terrorists,” whoever they are. They asked for it, after all. I usually agree with Greenwald’s positions, but his grasp of political reality is seldom impressive.

    Politics doesn’t just involve compromises, it involves ugly ones. Since 9/11 Democrats have consistently refused to fight it out over civil liberties. They’re probably right, politically at least, to walk away from this fight. History will condemn the Republicans for what they’ve done, and the Democrats for alllowing it to happen. But it should also condemn the American people as well, for letting themselves be ruled by fear and an appetite for revenge. We can’t punish the guilty for 9/11, because they’re already dead, so we’ll punish the innocent instead.

  4. While I appreciate Greenwald’s anger regarding FISA, and share it, what the fuck did he expect? Discussions of purges are idiotic. His problem is that he somehow thinks the Democrats are different than the GOP; that they are somehow not politicians first and foremost.

    This type of willful blindness, where someone actually thinks their side is not going to act like power-hungry scumbags, shows either pathetic naivete, relentless partisanship, or cranial-rectal stupidity.

  5. i dont understand. you say you, along with thoreau, are skeptical. then in the last sentence you say greenwald’s theory worked when it was tried out earlier. what provokes your skepticism then, david?

  6. I expect joe has some intelligent thoughts to share with us on this issue.

  7. and epi, you read greenwald all wrong. he realizes the dems are pussies so he’s trying to make them more scared of his guys than the republicans

  8. Reason links to pseudonymous bloggers? How gauche.

  9. It all boils down to WHO YOU KNOW.

    JT
    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  10. afjherg, I think he’s saying that the issue isn’t “right-leaning Democrats”, it’s people being whores, so that scaring some people into voting the right way on a single issue doesn’t really solve the long-term problem.

  11. Donna Brazil beat Al Wynn.

    I love seeing the netroots target bad Democrats – the whole “More and Better Democrats” thing.

    The Dems are at the point where they don’t have to put up with Lieber-dems to hold their majority. Certainly not in the House.

  12. and epi, you read greenwald all wrong. he realizes the dems are pussies so he’s trying to make them more scared of his guys than the republicans

    Nigel is correct, but also, the fact that he thinks “his guys” will necessarily stay the course is crazy. They’re fucking politicians.

    The idea of reforming the GOP by hurting them is just as stupid.

  13. @nigel: if you scare them multiple times on a gamut of issues you will produce a more compliant legislature. this is the whole point of democracy

  14. Greenwald envisions a smaller, more effective, Viet Cong-like Democratic majority.

    I think “Politburo” makes a bit more sense here… I mean, God forbid, the modern left taking up arms?

  15. @ epi: sorry if i was being unclear. by “his guys” i meant the electorate pissed off about the dems passing fisa. it’s the dem politicians he’s trying to scare with threats of losing reelection

  16. Purging the moderates was supposed to be political death for Republicans, but it won’t be for Democrats? Eventually, anyway?

  17. You know who else targeted members of their own party?
    Yep. The Nazis.

  18. If Lieberman had successfully been scalped by the Democrat left wing, the political history of the last couple of years would have been much different.

    Lieberman’s survival makes campaigns like Greenwald’s look quixotic and makes potential targets of such campaigns laugh them off. Or, if they don’t openly laugh, they weigh the potential threat of such campaigns against the lobbyist money, political risk, etc. at stake. If Lieberman had gone down, Greenwald would not look quixotic and the Democrat targets of the bottled-up anger at Kos and elsewhere would be shit scared.

    That to me says that the way for campaigns like this to work is to get a really high profile scalp and nail it to the mantelpiece.

    Personally, I wish that Jay Rockefeller was vulnerable. He’s not, so that makes Hoyer a good choice. Heads on pikes on the rostra [figuratively] is the only thing that will work here. But the good news is that it would only take one or two well-known heads.

  19. Greenwald envisions a smaller, more effective, Viet Cong-like Democratic majority. Thoreau is skeptical, and so am I, if the goal is a Congress that votes Greenwald’s way on privacy issues.

    Another example is gun control. If the Dems purge all the western members who are “wrong” on that issue they’ll end up with a Viet Cong-like Democratic minority.

    I mean, God forbid, the modern left taking up arms?

    The modern left has no problem with arms as long as they are in the hands of the government, not us peons.

  20. the nazis only took out guys who got uppity

  21. I applaud Greenwald’s efforts on this. Attacking some of these politicians might possibly cause them to expand their field of view, as it were.

    There currently seems to be no reason, or incentive, for them to think about anything outside the conventional Beltway power structure. Bipartisan consensus in the incestuous cesspool of Congress means everybody plays along, and nobody (with the noteworthy exception of Coburn) bothers to think about the substance or effect of any Bill, other than its effect on one’s balance in the Favor Bank.

    And any hyperventilating about “throwing the baby out with the bath water” is utter nonsense. The best thing which could possibly happen would be for every single incumbent Congressman to be voted out of office in November.

  22. @nigel: if you scare them multiple times on a gamut of issues you will produce a more compliant legislature. this is the whole point of democracy

    It’s sure gotten us in an awesome situation now, hasn’t it?

  23. Fluffy,

    That to me says that the way for campaigns like this to work is to get a really high profile scalp and nail it to the mantelpiece.

    Aw, c’mon, Al Wynn isn’t a big enough scalp?

    Yeah. That’s right. THE Al Wynn.

    Nobody has the foggiest idea who Al Wynn is, do they?

  24. But the good news is that it would only take one or two well-known heads.

    The more well-known the head, the harder to scalp. Your use of Lieberman is a perfect example. The guy is a useless douche who previously had the credit of investigating breakfast cereal prices as part of his accomplishments.

    People like their incumbents, unfortunately. Lieberman is a surprisingly religious Iraq hawk in a blue state and they couldn’t take him out.

    They won’t be getting any high-profile scalps without scandals, and then it’s the scandal that got them, not the issues.

    Greenwald is dreaming.

  25. the nazis only took out guys who got uppity

    Are you crazy? The Fuehrer is a nig-!

  26. So the way to make the Democratic Party stronger than ever is to have a preliminary, resource- (and goodwill-) consuming “Lieberman-Lamont” battle in every district?

    I don’t get it.

  27. The idea of reforming the GOP by hurting them is just as stupid.

    True. The reason to hurt the GOP is because they deserve it so much.

  28. If Lieberman had successfully been scalped by the Democrat left wing, the political history of the last couple of years would have been much different.

    Fortunately, Lieberman’s good friend and colleague, Barack Obama, was there to provide aid and support.

  29. “Fortunately, Lieberman’s good friend and colleague, Barack Obama”

    He must not be his BEST friend though, Lieberman endorsed McCain didn’t he? Because, you know, victory in Iraq is the most important thing EVER

  30. Lieberman is a surprisingly religious Iraq hawk in a blue state and they couldn’t take him out.

    Connecticut is a blue state that employs many, many people in the defense industry (Sikorsky, General Dynamics, Pratt & Whitney, and GE to name a few). Lieberman is a hawk because it’s practical, and money in the bank for re-election.

  31. Fortunately, Lieberman’s good friend and colleague, Barack Obama, was there to provide aid and support.

    Barack Obama endorsed Ned Lamont.

  32. Well, in a sense, Lieberman was successfully scalped by the Democratic left wing. It’s just that the Republicans didn’t run any kind of viable challenger-it was too late for them to know they had a shot. If what’s-his-face had stepped aside and let Chris Shays or someone run instead, I think Lieberman would have gone down. What a wonderful day that would have been. (/CT rant)

  33. “””The Fuehrer is a nig-!”””

    The fuehrer is near!

  34. People like their incumbents, unfortunately. Lieberman is a surprisingly religious Iraq hawk in a blue state and they couldn’t take him out.

    Lieberman only held on because the GOP ran a lame ass candidate in Schlesinger (sp?) — who received 9.6 percent of the vote. Lieberman got a LOT of GOP support and he only won by 10 points. If the GOP had a real candidate running — one who could be remotely competitive Lieberman would have lost.

    Also, polls in CT these days show buyers remorse with Lieberman. Most polls show that if they were to go head to head again today Lieberman would be on the losing end.

    The reality is that the Lieberman-Lamont did have an impact– but it would have been a lot more if the GOP was running a legit candidate.

    And lets not minimize the fact that Lamont ousted from the Dem party a guy who just 6 years prior was the VP on the Democratic ticket.

  35. Barack Obama endorsed Ned Lamont.

    Yeah he did — but he also didn’t actively campaign for him. just like many other dems support for Lamont was mostly rhetorical. They weren’t stumping for the nominee, and most Dems only reluctantly “endorsed” the winner of the Dem primary.

  36. Sure, ChiTom, but the comment I was replying to was “Fortunately, Lieberman’s good friend and colleague, Barack Obama, was there to provide aid and support.”

    In the real world, Barack Obama provided absolutely no aid and support to Joe Lieberman in the general election.

  37. “””one is hard-pressed to identify a single event or issue since November 2006 that would have been meaningfully different had the GOP retained control of Congress.”””

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    Won’t get fooled again my ass. You will be fooled again.

  38. Barack Obama endorsed Ned Lamont.

    “I was for Joe Lieberman before I was against him.”

    Change you can believe in.

  39. Greenwald’s problem with FISA is that he lives in an echo chamber. Oodles of left/liberal/libertarian bloggers are horrified at FISA-related stuff, so he can’t really understand why Democrats won’t support his views on the topic. But most people don’t care. It’s an inside baseball issue. I’m not saying that’s good; I’m just saying that’s true.

  40. Greenwald needs to stop worrying about COngress and start worrying about voters. Those Dems voted for the FISA act because they knew they were political dead meat if they didn’t. Greenwald may not like it, but the fact is that a lot of people disagree with him about FISA. The act getting passed is not the result of some nafarious cabal of conservative Democrats and evil Republicans. It is the result of the vast majority of the people in this country supporting it and being willing to vote based on it.

  41. Obama rallies state Democrats, throws support behind Lieberman

    By Stephanie Reitz, Associated Press Writer | March 31, 2006

    HARTFORD, Conn. –U.S. Sen. Barack Obama rallied Connecticut Democrats at their annual dinner Thursday night, throwing his support behind mentor and Senate colleague Joe Lieberman.

    Obama, an Illinois Democrat who is considered a rising star in the party, was the keynote speaker at the annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner.

    oops

  42. To elaborate: Greenwald doesn’t like Congress because it is doing things he doesn’t like. He knows a bunch of bloggers who feel the same way. He therefore concludes that people are mad at Congress because it’s doing things he doesn’t like.

    Uh, no. Congress is unpopular because gas prices are high, housing prices have dropped, and unemployment is rising. Along with various other negative economic indicators. It’s not because of what Congress has done or not done; it’s because of the current state of the country.

    Democrats could have pulled troops out of Iraq, repealed FISA altogether, rebuilt the polar ice caps with their bare hands, and Nancy Pelosi could have singlehandedly captured Osama Bin Laden, and it wouldn’t make Congress more popular.

  43. P Brooks: that was before Lamont was nominated.

  44. March 31: that’s an awful long way before the November election.

    Why, I’d almost conclude that the primary hadn’t been decided yet, and that that isn’t a story about the general election at all.

    Why, look at that, yes it is, and it says so right in the linked story.

    Oops yourself.

  45. It’s not because of what Congress has done or not done; it’s because of the current state of the country.

    Nothing Congress does has any effect on the country? That’s good to know.

  46. Hmmm- a politician decides to leave a sinking ship…

  47. Hmmm- a politician decides to leave a sinking ship… You mean the sinking ship that won re-election to the United States Senate?

    Anyway, so much for Fortunately, Lieberman’s good friend and colleague, Barack Obama, was there to provide aid and support.

  48. Supposing the Dems did purge their rightier members, and began pushing through a leftier agenda.

    Does anyone that their smaller, leftier majority would last very long? Remember what happened the last time the Dems owned Congress and the Presidency?

    Parties always revert to the center in a two-party system. Bug, feature, whatever, but its as immutable as the law of gravity.

  49. Lamont couldn’t come close to toppling Lieberman — in a blue state, with the mood of the country starkly in his favor.

    So what do the Democrats do? They nominate for President a man who’s a near mirror image of Lamont, policy-wise.

  50. In the real world, Barack Obama provided absolutely no aid and support to Joe Lieberman in the general election.

    Maybe.
    But one could argue that by not supporting Lamont when it could have done some good did in fact help out Lieberman.

    Those Dems voted for the FISA act because they knew they were political dead meat if they didn’t. Greenwald may not like it, but the fact is that a lot of people disagree with him about FISA.

    This is not true. Unless you think Fred Hiatt is “the american people”. It really comes down to framing the issue and getting a message out. Dems should have been framing it as “spying on american citizens without a warrant” and “allowing law breakers to avoid accountability” (which would have been a nice bit of political jiu jitsu since the GOP has been pushing the personal accountability meme for quite a while now)

    The polls that I saw indicated that how the issue was framed made a world of difference. Americans don’t accept the notion of the government spying on its citizens without warrants or probable cause.

    The reality is that the Dem leadership decided not to even bother to frame the issue at all. Jay Rockerfeller had an agenda (and lots of campaign contributions from the telecoms) as did Hoyer. The issue wasn’t a loser. The Dem leaders were just cowards.

    I watch Republicans all the time going on the TV framing very unpopular positions in a way that makes them palatable. The Dems on the other hand allow their opponents to frame and define every issue and the terms of the debate.

  51. Does anyone [believe] that their smaller, leftier majority would last very long? Remember what happened the last time the Dems owned Congress and the Presidency?

    Yes I do believe it would last. Because a “leftier” agenda today would be what has traditionally been considered a centrist agenda.

    Unless you believe that the current GOP regime hasn’t moved extremely far to the right.

    When did holding lawbreakers accountable become “lefty”? When did issuing warrants and requiring probable cause become “lefty”?? When did the rule of law become “lefty”?
    When did it become “lefty” to hold an administration accountable for their malfeasances and corruption? (Cuz it was a pretty right thing to do when Clinton was in office)?

  52. fMaybe.
    But one could argue that by not supporting Lamont when it could have done some good did in fact help out Lieberman.

    More like, “failed to harm” than “helped.”

    But regardless, the statement Fortunately, Lieberman’s good friend and colleague, Barack Obama, was there to provide aid and support. Barack Obama did not come in and help Joe Lieberman, or save him from losing the election. He did not provide aid and support, so his non-existent aid and support was not the reason Joe Lieberman won re-election. Joe Lieberman won re-election because the Republicans abandoned their party’s candidate to vote for Joe Lieberman. A Barack Obama endorsement of Liebarman’s opponent would certainly not have changed that.

  53. “””But most people don’t care. It’s an inside baseball issue. I’m not saying that’s good; I’m just saying that’s true.”””

    I think people do care, but anti-terror laws have been promoted as something that only affects terrorist. The question you will never see on a poll is, Do you support the governments ability to spy on you? The government has been very good on framing the issue in their favor. Don’t worry, we are only going after the terrorist. You don’t want the terrorist to win do you???? I’m amazed at the amount of American people that fall for it. Maybe I shouldn’t be.

  54. Greenwald needs to stop worrying about COngress and start worrying about voters. Those Dems voted for the FISA act because they knew they were political dead meat if they didn’t. Greenwald may not like it, but the fact is that a lot of people disagree with him about FISA. The act getting passed is not the result of some nafarious cabal of conservative Democrats and evil Republicans. It is the result of the vast majority of the people in this country supporting it and being willing to vote based on it.

    Please produce a link to any poll you can find where a majority of the public favored immunity for telecoms.

    I’ll spare you the Google time and tell you up front that you won’t be able to.

    This was not a case of the Congress responding to the popular outcry of the majority of voters. It was a case of the Democrats in Congress caving to Bush and to telecom industry lobbyists because that was easier and because they thought the public didn’t know about or care about the issue enough to notice. The public was apathetic on the issue – but the public definitely was not clamoring for the Bush position.

    And there are also cocksuckers like Rockefeller involved who actively hate the rule of law with regard to intelligence operations and would vote for immunity for Ted Bundy if he thought it would help undermine the rule of law.

  55. What Chicago Tom said about the framing and the issue-picking.

    The Congressional leadership is still calling plays out of Tom Daschle’s playbook.

    I wonder if they’re going to start mewling about “comfort zones” now.

  56. Unless you believe that the current GOP regime hasn’t moved extremely far to the right.

    They haven’t. There’s no right/left to the GOP’s shift: they’ve shifted to more statism. Look at the roster of things old conservatives and libertarians are mad about:

    – Iraq adventure (Wilsonian if there were one)
    – Medicare Part D
    – Mind-boggling spending
    – No Child Left Behind
    – Ag Bill
    – Housing Bailout

    Need I go on? And for proof that the GOP has moved more statist rather than “right”, on almost every single one of those issues, Team Blue has stomped its feet and shrieked “That’s not ENOUGH money/legislation/interference! WE WANT MORE!”

    So, no, the GOP hasn’t moved further “right”. They’ve just merged full-force with the Democrats to the point that Team Red wants to spend 50 million on something and Team Blue fights about it because they want 75 million.

  57. A Barack Obama endorsement of Liebarman’s opponent would certainly not have changed that.

    I don’t think Obama alone could have swayed the election, but if more dems would have taken an active role in supporting the Dem nominee who knows?

    I agree that Obama didnt provide direct support, but I don’t believe that if he and other major dems stepped up and provided more than just lip service it wouldn’t have made a difference. There were a lot of independents that would have swung towards Lamont if he had institutional support. People would have been more comfortable supporting the guy who wasn’t the incumbent if the Dems would have seriously backed Lamont. If your own party is only tepidly supporting you, how can you expect to draw independents and past Lieberman supporters?

    The reality is that Obama had to endorse Lieberman because the base would have held it against him during the presidential primaries. But he, and most major dems wanted Lieberman to win and did nothing to help the Dem nominee.

    And now it’s coming back to bite Obama and the other Dems in the ass.

  58. The Dems on the other hand allow their opponents to frame and define every issue and the terms of the debate.

    See, if a party repeatedly accepts the other party’s terms, and if the leaders of that party repeatedly allow the other party to control what gets done in Congress, I start to wonder if maybe both parties are part of the same con.

    “Oh, no, we really are different from them! Honest! Yes, we argue from the same premises, and we let them do what they want, but the difference is that we pretend to feel bad about it. What are you going to do, vote for the ones who don’t even pretend to feel bad about it?”

    The Democratic Party exists so that good people who oppose torture won’t go and do something radical, like vote for a real opposition.

  59. I just sas Step-Brother’s yesterday. Funny. There is a part where one character makes another character “lick white dog shit.” Reading the exchange between joe and P Brooks about Obama being at fault for Liberman made me think of that scene.

    Brooks you may want to look into some Listerene…

  60. I think the Dems simply lack, to the extent the GOP does, 1. ideological consensus (what this thread is about) and 2. a collection of media institutions that are not only ideologically pre-disposed to their usual stances but which actively coordinate with the party (talk radio, Fox, NY Post, many think tanks). They try as much as anyone to frame things, but it doesn’t get out.

  61. But you know, there are real drawbacks to ideological purity. For example, as the GOP “brand” has become more and more “clarified” as a right of center one this backfires: if you are running for office in many areas outside of the South now having a R beside your name is a huge liability and people assume you are part of a theocratic Southern dominated party. Sure, having a D beside your name is bad in some places too, but the Dems have always done a good job of having these regional variants (when I grew up in VA they talked about “VA Democrats” and “national Democrats” and the former often did, and still do, quite well in state office even in times of conservative dominance.

  62. See, if a party repeatedly accepts the other party’s terms, and if the leaders of that party repeatedly allow the other party to control what gets done in Congress, I start to wonder if maybe both parties are part of the same con.

    “Oh, no, we really are different from them! Honest! Yes, we argue from the same premises, and we let them do what they want, but the difference is that we pretend to feel bad about it. What are you going to do, vote for the ones who don’t even pretend to feel bad about it?”

    The Democratic Party exists so that good people who oppose torture won’t go and do something radical, like vote for a real opposition.

    That’s just what the saucer people want you to think!

    Seriously, thoreau, you don’t think cowardice based on four decades of losing elections on “national security” issues, or a small majority for a party not know for marching in lockstep, are slightly more plausible explanations than a grand conspiracy?

  63. The question is this: Who owns the Democratic party? I suspect it’s the same group of people who own the Republicans.

  64. Grand conspiracy? No, I don’t think it’s quite like that. I don’t think that a bunch of people sit around a table smoking cigars that they lit with $100 bills while plotting to install Harry Reid.

    But decades of repeated patterns can lead to a certain type of behavior, and people and institutions can become comfortable with the outcomes and habits developed in response. Once that happens, the left flank becomes seen as “a problem to be managed” rather than as a serious constituency to take into consideration. And a whole lot of people might be just fine with it that way. After all, leading the accomodationist party has put them in comfortable positions with lobbyist money and window offices with views and lots of attention from media outlets who invite them to appear on TV. Why upset that? They’re happy, they’re persuading themselves that they’re making progress “on the margins”, and it would be for the best if those pesky “opposition” types just stay in the fold rather than causing trouble for the institution, right?

    I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, I think it’s an evolved arrangement that suits the participants, and they just do the minimum to keep the pesky opposition from causing too much trouble.

  65. Greenwald’s theory makes sense in a parliamentary system. However, a party in our system that purges in the name of ideological purity is going to have an awful hard time getting to, and staying above, 50 percent.

    The loss of the Northeastern “golf course Republicans” has really hurt the GOP in Congress.

  66. Let’s see- the topic at hand is a proposal by Glenn Greenwald, among others, to oppose incumbent Democrats who have aided and abetted Bush Administration policies, by putting their own candidates up against them in the primaries.

    I pointed out that Senator Obama came to Connecticut to endorse and support Senator Lieberman in a primary in which he was being challenged by an anti-war “fringe” candidate. Because Of Lieberman’s tremendous value, and long years of steadfast service, to the Republic, one presumes. The challenge was, in fact, successful. This means Obama is not (or was not, at that time) omnipotent; it does not mean he didn’t support his friend and colleague, Lieberman, and happily greet him upon his return to the Senate.

    And I was unable to resist the impulse to poke our resident Obamatrons with a stick, to watch them wriggle frantically around.

    Boy. is my face red. And now, it’s back to work. Unlike some people, my income is solely dependent on what I actually produce.

  67. it does not mean he didn’t support his friend and colleague, Lieberman, and happily greet him upon his return to the Senate.

    Uh, no, the fact that Obama endorsed his OPPONENT in the election means that.

    But yes, this is a good time to get busy.

  68. “Greenwald envisions a smaller, more effective, Viet Cong-like Democratic majority.”

    You’re in fine form today, Mr. Weigel.

  69. I think the Dems simply lack, to the extent the GOP does, 1. ideological consensus (what this thread is about) and 2. a collection of media institutions that are not only ideologically pre-disposed to their usual stances but which actively coordinate with the party (talk radio, Fox, NY Post, many think tanks).

    You’re kidding, right? On both counts?

    Odd, I suppose, to see a Dem complaining that his party lacks exactly, exactly, the same things relative to the Repubs that Repubs always claim their party lacks relative to the Dems.

  70. R C Dean,

    Odd, I suppose, to see a Dem complaining that his party lacks exactly, exactly, the same things relative to the Repubs that Repubs always claim their party lacks relative to the Dems.

    I thought the same thing reading his post. There is one big difference, I think – while both parties are made up of a consensus of diverse blocks, the GOP blocks are larger and fewer in number. The Dem blocks also have more overlap as people are members of multiple blocks.

    I guess the LP is too small to figure out if the blocks are more like the GOPs or the Dems.

  71. It isn’t very difficult to look back at the roll calls on the big issues over the past few years, and figure out which party marches in lockstep and which one is always seeing defections.

  72. And I was unable to resist the impulse to poke our resident Obamatrons with a stick, to watch them wriggle frantically around.

    Anybody need a slightly-used stick?

    I’m starting to amass quite a collection.

  73. joe’s right RC and robc. It’s just a matter of math, the Dems have many more defections, hence the truth of my first claim. Yes conservatives bitch about “RINO’s” thwarting what should be their tasty devouring of their foe’s tears but that’s mostly bs, there just ain’t that many RINO’s these days.

    The second claim is not as amenable to empirical verification I guess, but I think its true. The journalists on CBS and CNN strike me as leaning left in the way that people who are left often can’t help it. The folks at Fox and the Washington Times and the like are a horse of different color, they are once and future conservative movement operatives. The difference is between liberals who can’t help their leaning left and Republicans who happen at the moment to be working in “journalism.” So you get journalism with leftist overtones on the one hand and a rather organized and disciplined party organ on the other…

    There is empirical evidence that “conservative” editorial boards criticize incumbent Republicans much less than “liberal” ones criticize Democrats.

  74. I pointed out that Senator Obama came to Connecticut to endorse and support Senator Lieberman in a primary in which he was being challenged by an anti-war “fringe” candidate.

    Ah, I see the source of the confusion now.

    Obama endorsed Lieberman in the primary. After Lieberman lost the primary and chose to run as an independent in the general, Obama endorsed Lamont.

    You’re arguing that Obama provided aid and comfort to Lieberman, and during the, you know, actual election, he didn’t do that. But he did do it during the primary.

    So Obama first told the netroots to fuck off, but then embraced them. That kind of makes it the mirror image of the FISA debacle, where Obama first embraced the netroots but then double-crossed and betrayed them.

  75. The idea of reforming the GOP by hurting them is just as stupid.

    Right. Say they get hurt. It doesn’t change where they’re going to turn for support.

  76. The folks at Fox and the Washington Times and the like are a horse of different color, they are once and future conservative movement operatives. The difference is between liberals who can’t help their leaning left and Republicans who happen at the moment to be working in “journalism.”

    Didn’t Scott McClellan admit that the White House would contact Fox News and other conservative media outlets and basically fax/email them talking points?

    It’s one thing to complain that media outlets employ lots of liberals (and even this is a bit questionable since most of the people with editorial control aren’t really all that liberal) but that isn’t anywhere near the same as being a propaganda outlet for one particular party / administration.

    In this respect, there is no equivalent/counterbalance on the left. There is no official propaganda outlet for Democrats.

  77. David Weigel, what an absurd post — the headline especially. Greenwald-cum-exterminator, or Viet-Cong. Riiiight. But why bother to explain what makes your post inane when Greenwald has done a masterful job of it already?

  78. I am a Greenwald advocate, but his link to Weigel’s post is stupid.

    This post does not say, as Greenwald claims, that “Those who want to change those statistics by finding ways to undermine and defeat incumbents are disruptive purists who are just like Communists.” It says that people who think that going after the Blue Dogs will solve the problems of our Congress are wrong, because the FISA bill got passed by “lobbying, legal bribery, and political gamesmanship”, and that even if you attained Viet Cong like levels of ideological purity those factors would remain.

  79. “Believe it or not, I wasn’t using “Viet Cong” as a pejorative description. I was just looking for a way to describe brutally effective guerrillas who brook no dissent and defeat wealthier but less-organized forces”

    Believe it or not, you need a fucking history lesson. The United States completely annihilated the Viet Cong during the Tet Offensive. The Viet Cong never again functioned as a coherent fighting force after they were routed by those horrible wealthy Americans. Maybe if you, you know, actually knew something about the Vietnam War or took the time to look it up, your ridiculous snark might actually have some sort of meaning.
    Greenwald is enough of a douchebag already. We don’t need people making him look good by comparison.

  80. Fluffy sez: I am a Greenwald advocate, but his link to Weigel’s post is stupid.

    Right. Just because Weigel employs a headline claiming Greeenwald wants to exterminate people, and likens what he’s calling for to the Communist VC (in the same context in which others elsewhere in the debate Weigel references are labeling Greenwald a virtual Stalinist), it was stupid beyond description for Greenwald to link to Weigel’s post as additional evidence of his (Greenwald’s) being labeled a Communist-style “purger.”

    Got it.

  81. Makes the case for bringing back Hillary. She’s ideologically flexible, and has the mettle to lead the purge.

  82. Unless you believe that the current GOP regime hasn’t moved extremely far to the right.

    It hasn’t. It is indistinguishable from the Democratic party of the 50’s and early 60’s. The Republicans have moved to the left as the Democrats moved to the far left.

  83. “””one is hard-pressed to identify a single event or issue since November 2006 that would have been meaningfully different had the GOP retained control of Congress.”””

    The minimum wage would have not been raised, and so more inner-city kids would have jobs — kids whose parents overwhelmingly voted for Democrats. Go figure.

    The GOP members of Congress would have wretchedly higher levels of hubris, and the Democratic members significantly lower levels of same.

    Obama for president would make a lot more sense, if you’re a fan of divided government.

    We would still be mired down in Iraq — oh, wait.

    Actually, the war in Iraq would have ended prior to 2006, since that’s the only way the GOP wouldn’t have gotten spanked in 2006. And that would mean both Bush and Cheney would have to have been assassinated.

  84. No, Mona, you stupid cunt.

    You can’t pull this Joe like shit that the actual content of the post doesn’t matter because some element of the post or some metaphor in it pushed your sensitivity buttons.

    Take your smelly fucking clam and go pout somewhere else.

    YOU WORTHLESS CUNT LIBERAL FUCKS HAVE GOT TO FUCKING LEARN THAT CONTENT ACTUALLY MATTERS AND YOU HAVE TO READ POSTS. Leave the fucking tea leaf readings to fucking Harry Potter books and shut the fuck up about your meaningless symbolic bullshit.

    It doesn’t matter what “others” in the debate with Greenwald are saying. The only “context” that has any meaning what-so-fucking-ever is the context of THIS FUCKING MAGAZINE, where Obama was raked over the coals for fucking his civil libertarian supporters over on the FISA deal, and where Greenwald’s polemics on the issue were linked to approvingly, and where BEING CALLED A MILITANT OR RADICAL IS NOT AN INSULT. What’s so fucking hard to understand about that?

  85. UPDATE: Hm. Greenwald responds.
    “Those who want to change those statistics by finding ways to undermine and defeat incumbents are disruptive purists who are just like Communists.”

    You really do need to be a hysterical whinging bitch to see that VC reference as relating to communism.

  86. Fluffy, I was totally blown away by that last comment to me. Since when do you descend to the most coarse, insult-laden non-responses to someone?

    Not that I think you are in a mental place to absorb it, but I self-identify as a libertarian and have for my entire adult life — not as a liberal. I was a Reason subscriber before Virginia Postrel was its editor.

    Clue 2: Greenwald is libertarianish himself. (We know each other, and he subscribed to Reason at my recommendation over ten years ago.)

    Really, I don’t care if some idjit spews such rancid crap it me. But you? Bizarre.

  87. Believe it or not, I wasn’t using “Viet Cong” as a pejorative description. I was just looking for a way to describe brutally effective guerrillas who brook no dissent and defeat wealthier but less-organized forces.

    For fuck’s sake, learn some history. The VC didn’t defeat anything, they were devastated by Tet and never regrouped. It was a regular NV armored column that crushed the South, and when the NV took over they jailed or killed the remnants of the VC.

  88. Since the gang commenting here is a little slow, let me make a suggestion. Take an afternoon off and go see the new Batman movie, The Dark Night. Watch how issues such as evil, terror, torture, and spying are addressed, then apply it to real life. If you try really hard, you can see the Batman is George W. Bush and you are the citizens of Gotham who hate him for protecting your worthless asses. You were wrong about Reagan and now you are wrong about Bush. Will you never learn?

  89. You really do need to be a hysterical whinging bitch

    This isn’t exactly news.

    http://patterico.com/2006/07/27/annotated-wuzzadem-the-facts-behind-the-greenwald-sock-puppetry/

  90. Instead of references to the Viet Cong or the Nazis try the 1903 split of the Russian socialists into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

    Lenin wanted a disciplined and activist cadre. And he got it.

    I think Lieberman won because he didn’t whine after the primary. He cleverly became the stout little fighter who stood on principle. And the GOP was delighted to help.

    I don’t think that race tells us much about current politics. Try imagining John Kerry as the stout little fighter who stood on principle.

  91. I love Glenn and agree with everything he says. Why, he has even had a book quoted on the Senate floor. Good day, sir!

  92. Obama FISA
    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/07/29/obama_thrills_on_the_hill.html

    During the hour-long session, according to people in the room, Obama emphasized his plan to reach out to congressional Democrats, both during his campaign and his presumptive administration. Obama touched on subjects ranging from Iran and FISA to energy policy and Justice Department malfeasance.

  93. Alan Vanneman,

    Uh. Revenge is how you discourage further attacks. In geopolitics and game theory.

    But I’ve seldom seen a Libertarian whose grasp of grasp of geopolitical reality is impressive.

    It is kind of like “stupidity starts at the waters edge”.

  94. Alan Vanneman thinks Osama bin Laden is innocent and that our motive for eliminating Al Qaeda is revenge.

    I’ll leave the self-parody to stand on its own.

  95. Uh. FISA is not spying on American citizens without a warrant. It is spying on people outside the country who communicate with American Citizens.

    I was under the impression that that was a legit function of the Federal Government – keeping an eye on furriners.

    Even when Dems can frame the issue in their favor (judging by the hysteria around here) they can’t win. So why did the Dems do it? Fear of another successful attack which they would get blamed for.

  96. In this respect, there is no equivalent/counterbalance on the left. There is no official propaganda outlet for Democrats.

    Journalists give to the Dems by a factor of 10 to 1. I guess that would make them unofficial propagandists.

  97. “This type of willful blindness, where someone actually thinks their side is not going to act like power-hungry scumbags, shows either pathetic naivete, relentless partisanship, or cranial-rectal stupidity.” Maybe so, Episiarch (10:30am); however, what differentiates libertarians is that “their side” doesn’t have to hold political office “to act like… scumbags.”

  98. About the Viet Cong reference.

    The Viet Cong were puppets of the Hanoi regime. They essentially committed military suicide in the Tet Offensive (on the orders of Hanoi) and then were simply disbanded by the Hanoi regime after the fall of Saigon (to a North Vietnamese armored division.)

    The cute part of this charade was the Viet Cong really didn’t understand this. They were played for fools. Some became Boat People.

    So, if Dems want to go the way of the Viet Cong, bring them on.

  99. Those who disagree with that — who object that it is oh-so-terrible to cause the defeat of any Democratic incumbents, no matter how complicit and irrelevant — have the responsibility to identify what alternative strategy they think should be pursued in order to alter the behavior of the Democratic Party in Congress.

    What a sentence! I don’t know if Greenwald purposely pads his writing with extra words, but it hurts to read.

  100. “I expect joe has some intelligent thoughts to share with us on this issue.”

    Good one.

  101. Peewee and his ilk don’t want to purge conservative Democrats, they want to purge non-radical left Democrats.

    They smell it. They really smell it now. They consider the coming election to be the Marxist revolution they have always wanted and will behave exactly like it was if they take the White House and solidify their lock on Congress.

    America is literally on the edge of diaster.

  102. I love the idea of Dems comparing themselves to the VC. It just shows how completely ignorant they are of what actually happened in VN, and why they have to keep spinning the Big Lie about it. They’re likely to get their asses kicked just as well.

    If the Dems intend on a purge of the ranks to winnow out the Blue Dogs and other undesirables, it’s unlikely they’ll stop there. “Religionists” are probably next, as the MoveOn-types are convinced their social revolution is coming and they intend to weed out the reactionary “Faith Community,” while giving them false praise. I think sometimes that’s why they really hate Joe Lieberman – they can’t openly put down his religious views, so they secretly seethe at him for this true faith.

  103. “””Bush and you are the citizens of Gotham who hate him for protecting your worthless asses.”””

    What a sack of shit comment. Bush doesn’t protect us. The ideology that the government protects you is what fuels the anti-gun crowd. You don’t need a gun because the government protects you.

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