Democrats & Liberals Archives

Stakeholders: Sotomayor's Confirmation, and the Ties that Bind Society.

I think we should all join together in congratulating Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation as the new Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Hispanic Community for the milestone this represents. And what a milestone it does represent. I would argue that as we see more people who aren’t white, aren’t male, or who represent one side of America or another not currently represented, we will see less of identify politics, less of people making race or other matters an issue that overshadows other important matters.

A great deal of controversy was attached to Sotomayor's comments on judicial empathy, especially the "wise Latina" remark. Those people missed something critical here: she was telling us the truth about the way people's interests run. As much as we would like to think that people simply spring their opinions forth from their heads, virginal of their author's experience and their cultural identity, that's simply not the case.

But she made another overlooked point: that as governing officials, folks are obligated to try, regardless of their differences, to see things in more objective terms.

We all have different stakes in what the courts and the government in general decides, different interests that we wish to see addressed. We have government in the first place, because even when the nation was mainly run by white male landowners, people could not entirely agree on the course the nation would take. Serious disagreements existed, even then, and those had to be resolved between all of America's stakeholders.

We further developed this mechanism for resolving our problems in the constitution, and developed a distributed, layered system of governmental authority to that end, with the Bill of Rights and the subsequent Amendments to be alternatively restricting and empowering that authority to govern the people in different ways.

Some would like the government to step in and settle certain arguments for them, set their stake above all others. In the case of religion, political expression, or other first amendment issues, government is strongly circumscribed in the debates it can so settle, and with good reason.

Let's say that anti-Catholic legislation could be passed, and we could be deprived of our rights, or our ability to worship. Well then, people like myself would likely be alienated, both in emotional and in personal terms, from everybody else. History in England and other places showed how quickly this dispute sowed the seeds of war and conflict. And why would it not? When you take a population of people who believe according to their conscience, exclude them, and make them suffer for their beliefs, you're forcing them to do one of three things, none of which help them join with the rest of society:

1) Having so little stake in their own religion, they gloss on over to your side, but in doing so only change perfunctoral loyalties.

2) Dedicated to their religion, but not wanting to make waves, they closet themselves away, living a double life, a lie for the sake of their conscience. They hide their true beliefs, but they're always there under the surface.

3) They fight outright, rebel against the order, becoming a disruptive force. Often enough, they find themselves aided by those who fall into category 2, which adds the additional effect of suspicion on that category as well.

And so on and so forth. America started out dealing with the issue of what established church would attain government's blessing, but at the end, they decided to absolutely eliminate the government's ability to bestow favor or sanction on any church for it's religious stand in the Bill of Rights .

And you know what? That was the best thing that every happened for religion in this country. And it was also one of the best means of ensuring civil order, at the end of the day. Religion did not provide the purchase for disagreements among the different sects of this country to pull the country apart, as Religion has pulled apart other lands and other places.

Since the order defends their right to believe as they choose, they have a stake in maintaining the order, not defying it, whether covertly or overtly. The same goes for generations of immigrants, who became American, and finding they could speak as they liked, live as they liked, worship as they liked, assemble as they pleased, and enjoy the fruits of liberty, became devoted to the support of the nation that made it possible.

Before you start thinking that I'm getting naively dreamy here, let me disabuse you of the notion that we can just gloss over the various conflicts and pressures to integrate and assimilate. I would instead argue that we cannot gloss over these differences, just expect people to forget where America has failed the ideal that I speak of. The ideal I speak of is not an ideal of philosophical purity, but one born of practical appraisal of human nature.

Now we can't satisfy everybody's interests, everybody's wishes. In previous kinds of nations, one group or set of people held greatest or greater power, while everybody else simply went along, got run over, or stewed in their juices, making their plans to take things over for themselves. Our Democracy allows us to have a system where our differences can be worked out without this kind of tension and discord, the pressures of matters let off by the stake we have in the Government's overall make up. We know that we are equal before our government, where the conflicts between our interests can be resolved, if not always in our own favor.

Accepting this bargain, in my opinion, is part and parcel of living as a responsible citizen of this country. We cannot expect ourselves to always get our way.

We know instinctively that we should at least have the opportunity to persuade others, to lead others, to be a part of the system that determines the resolution of our conflicts as citizens. When folks tell us we are equals, but we see ourselves shut out of the system that makes the decisions on these matters, we might get the idea that our stake in our country is a stake in name only, one given to us to keep us quiet and docile. When one of us steps up to that high office, though, we can say, at last, that we are participant of the system, not mere subject of it.

We see the faces of America's diversity now in our homes, our cities, on our streets, among our friends, among those we work with. More and more folks of different kind show up in our doctors offices, among the lawyers who argue our cases, and the Judges who try them. When America looks to our government, does it see a reflection of its own face in the faces of those who have authority over it?

People have ached to see something more than just relics and scions of the old order in charge, to see the rulers of this country updated to reflect the ruled, the powers that be revised to follow the realities that are. Though many tried to stop it, the man who appointed Sotomayor to the court broke through one of the strongest barriers that existed to that day.

Some People wonder: what did we see in Obama at the start? Go back to that 2004 convention speech. When he started saying "there is not an X America, and a Y America" but instead one America, that's part of what we saw in him, and still see in him. His Patriotism wasn't defined by elevating one political group over another, one religion over another, one race over another, but instead by a deep, abiding sense that America was something we were meant to share, to govern together. His breakthrough, for us, has always been about America breaking through some of its own restrictions, restrictions that bound it to an old order it no longer wanted. Why can't a black man be president? Why can't we reach for hope, rather than merely grasp the despair our status quo had come to represent?

Some might point to the politics of the last six months, and asked whether he fulfilled that promise, and I would say he did, but if a person refuses to cooperate, and you're not willing to force them to do so, then there's not much you can do. Many Republicans portray him as if he's going to be rounding them up in camps next week, but nonetheless remain free to bash him with every greater venom.

In the process of bashing Sotomayor, of putting her through the wringer, the Republicans have seen their share of voters among minorities drop. Those people know that whatever stake they have in this government, the Republicans are keen to deny it to them. That's long been the feeling, especially in the wake of the Republican's Southern Strategy, the Nixonian strategy of exploiting white resentment of racial integration in the South and elsewhere to pump up the electoral fortunes of the party. You can't really use people as scapegoats for problems, then turn around and expect them to be grateful.

There's a reason the Republicans languishes now as a mainly Southern Party. They traded the rest of the country for that territory, having alienated everybody else with a vision of America that hardly acknowledged their stake in things. As Republicans increasingly concentrated on preserving that southern base, those people became jealous partners, uncomfortable with Sharing their party, and indeed their country with anybody else.

But whether or not they, or we want to, we have to share this country between us. I am the son of both Northern and Southern cultures, of both Northern and Southern values. I wasn't brought up to hate either side, to demonize Massachussets and California, or Alabama and Texas. I wasn't brought up to resent blacks and hispanics- I grew up alongside them. It was nothing odd, nothing unusual. As I have grown up, I've noted the continued absence of minorities in positions of authority with concern, because for me that reflected an unofficial refutation of the official line we were all brought up with in my generation: that black, white, boy, girl, hispanic, asian- we all had an equal shot at the top, to achieve the greatest things.

To see people in authority who reflect America in its diversity is heartening, because it tells me that we are not a country which says one thing about the rights, the stakes that we hold, but then works towards a contrary results, but that our principles have become more consistently expressed in our actions.

And consistently they should be expressed, because that removes the tensions that distract us from our common interests, our common concerns, that allows us to unify around issues important to us all.

With Justice Sotomayor's confirmation, we can look to a future where America is more united, where we can be proud of country not merely for the abstract virtue of loving our country, but for the sake of the real-world destruction of barriers that fall most easily only in our country, the land of the brave and the home of the free.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2009 11:25 AM
Comment #285820
we will see less of identify politics

You would think that, wouldn’t you?

But… aren’t there people now calling the portrayal of Obama as the Joker identified as ‘racist’?

BTW, I would like for you to set up to those words and join my call for the removal of all indications of race and gender from the 2010 Census. Are you up for that Stephen?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 7, 2009 1:53 PM
Comment #285823


“I would like for you to set up to those words and join my call for the removal of all indications of race and gender from the 2010 Census.”

Shall we remove the ages of the people as well. I am sure the Census form are ageist as well.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at August 7, 2009 2:14 PM
Comment #285825


I am for that as well. Though it wasn’t part of the article so I didn’t suggest it.

Actually, I only fill out the constitutionally required question on the census, question number 1. So the government never gets that kind of information from me on that.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 7, 2009 2:21 PM
Comment #285832

I thought you were going to make it through an entire post without bashing Republicans Stephen. 1 Corinthians and all of that. But alas:

There’s a reason the Republicans languishes now as a mainly Southern Party.

Do you have any more recent data than the 2008 Presidential Map to support your claim? It certainly looks like those evil Republicans have escaped Dixie.

As to Judge Sotomayor both of my Southern, white male (well there’s doubts about one of them) Republican Senators gave their reasons for their votes. DeMint, the vote against, did so because he did not trust her answers saying she “walked away from a lot of her past statements and positions.” I think that is a reasonable position for an advise and consent vote given the past statemenst and her current testimony. Graham was one of the tough questioners but in the end voted for her.

I have no use for McCain and the other Republicans who voted against her for philosophical reasons, however. The Democrats paved this road with their past actions but that was no reason for the Republicans to go down it.

In the end I think we wound up with a very moderate Supreme and that to me is the puzzling part of the whole story. Wasn’t this the time, with 60 votes in the Senate and a popular President, to nominate a judge who was more political and who did have a record on abortion? Unless there is wide spread belief on the left, just like DeMint on the right, that she her testimony was more about getting confirmed and less about her actual views.

Oh well, history is always the real judge of Supreme nominations.

Posted by: George at August 7, 2009 3:15 PM
Comment #285851

The Democrats did not start out this year looking to alienate the right. That’s my honest belief, and my own personal inclination. In truth, I was hoping we could lay all the B.S. down, and just get back to the business of recovering from the last decade’s worth of calamity. I think the Blue Dogs would have kept the Left-Wing of the party from getting too cute with policy.

Going after Sotomayor was, in my opinion, just another part of an overall strategy to stir up anger, fear, and mistrust. I’m glad its over, and I’m glad for once at least some on the right voted on something or someone’s merits, rather than simply as part of a game of lowering ratings for the next election. I think one reason Obama picked a moderate choice was to make her a difficult target to rationally claim as a far-left judge.

As far as testimony goes? I think if you bring out the artillery, people will start attending such hearings wearing a flak jacket and a helmet. Contentious confirmation hearings are de rigeur nowadays. People prepare for that.

When the system is all about a guantlet of politic posturing, and not about practical things, we shouldn’t be surprised if partisan posturing occurs more often.

No. I would not support removing those questions. I think an informed government will govern better than one that just pretends to know things. Many areas of law touch on race, as do contentious districting matters.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2009 5:18 PM
Comment #285854

Stephen D, wrote: “I think we should all join together in congratulating … the Hispanic Community for the milestone this represents.”

That’s a bit of a stretch. Congratulate an ethnic community for one of their members achieving success? Really? Should we then condemn the Hispanic community when on one of their members commits murder, sells drugs, or rapes a woman?

Racism has so very many subterranean avenues to the surface of the American psyche. Vigilance is required, most especially by those who deem themselves not discriminatory toward race, especially when they are discriminating on the basis of race.

When racism no longer exists, race will not be singled out for condemnation nor praise.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 7, 2009 5:29 PM
Comment #285856

Quite right David, As a white male southerner I near pee’d my pants on reading Stephen’s post. The Dem’s, Rep’s and the media constantly feed on race baiting. Clear and simple; Obama picked Sotomayer for election payback and to garner latino votes come 2010. Or, would one argue that Sotomayer is the most qualified to sit on the Supreme Court? I think not. Few would argue that she is the most qualified Latino to sit on the court.

While Americans are suffering from the onslaught of illegal immigration you get this diatribe of ‘bring your huddled starving masses’ etc. Works quite well, and rightly so, for folks seeking political asylum or war refugees that find themselves without a home country. Not so much for those in the next country over who decide to crank up the old Chevy and head north to provide cheap labor for the rich and famous.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve!

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 7, 2009 6:46 PM
Comment #285858
No. I would not support removing those questions. I think an informed government will govern better than one that just pretends to know things. Many areas of law touch on race, as do contentious districting matters.

You don’t think that continuing to focus on race is helping keep the problem going? You don’t think that laws and redistricting based off something as arbitrary as race, which I think we all agree shouldn’t be a factor, is a part of the problem?

Finally, you don’t think it is a violation of an individual’s right to privacy to ask that information? I don’t think it is, if it is just asked for. Will it just be asked for next year or will this administration attempt to require that information be provided?

If they do, I’m sure I will be sitting in jail somewhere…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 7, 2009 6:56 PM
Comment #285863

David R. Remer-
When we get to the point where seeing such barriers broken is an unremarkable event, then I will not see it as necessary to congratulate them. But damn, this is only the first time it’s ever happened!

It was a great day for women to see Sandra Day O’Connor on the court. A great day for Blacks to see Thurgood Marshall there. It’s been a white man’s club for most of American history. Why not celebrate the court looking more like the country it adjudicates over?

Race is mostly social anyways, and I think the subtler point that I would make is that as these events become more commonplace, and folks aren’t shut out so much from positions of authority and leadership for which they’re qualified, race will be reduced as a political factor.

I remember last year that many thought that Obama would have a problem with Hispanics. I believe it turned out that he didn’t. And because of that, a Black man became president, and in turn, a Hispanic Woman became Supreme Court Justice!

And soon enough, people like you or I will see absolutely nothing odd about hiring or voting for these same people. And when that happens, those same people will look at matters knowing that they no longer have to struggle more to get the same honors and the same respect, and knowing they have that stake in the general society, they will turn around and concern themselves more with the overall society’s issues, than with their culture’s own parochial interests.

Illegal Immigration is one of your highest priority issues. I’m sure you’ve heard before that some of the fiercest critics of illegal immigration are legal immigrants. Why is that? Because having struggled to be accepted, and having been accepted, they feel that it’s wrong for somebody to just come along and violate the rightful path to that integration. They paid with money, with effort, to buy into the larger system. And so they defend that system.

This kind of integration, this kind of milestone allows people to forget what separate agendas they once had, and join others in broader coalitions of interest. Folks are no longer outsiders, no longer them, but are among US.

Roy Ellis-
Don’t knock the workers. They’re just following economic forces. We make it too expensive for many people to seek their fortunes legally, and the rewards we give are tempting.

Instead of scapegoating one cause, understand it as an emergent pattern of several causes. First, we make it far too expensive to enter the country legally. I think the figure for the application right now is about 900 dollars. That’s not a figure that’s easy for the poor and huddled masses. Hell, that wouldn’t be easy for many Americans.

Second, we’ve encouraged a culture of rule-breaking cheapness, where folks cut costs by cutting corners, and value their own profit above other’s wellbeing. We need to go after these employers.

Third, we’ve relied on the border, this thousand+ mile attention sponge for security. But few cultures have ever been able to rely on such impediments for security. Even the Great Wall of China just ended up getting circumvented. Don’t mistake a lack of faith in such measures as a lack of interest in security. I would make the point that with modern travel technology and modern trade necessities, a one dimensional defense isn’t of much use. It’s a Maginot line, better at defeating resources than its intended threat.

Our real problem is, once somebody gets past the border, they don’t get found. Internal enforcement is critical, and we need to improve that.

First, It’s not as if this situation began when somebody forty years ago suddenly decided race was important. There’s two hundred plus years of history that has given us that legacy, and it cannot be ignored or wished away.

Step back for a moment. I think the notion that we can just tell everybody not to care about race and it would just happen ranks in naivete right up there with believing that if you just tell everybody to be peaceful, the world will never see another war.

The change cannot be imposed from outside, or even asked for from outside, it must be developed from within, to the extent that is possible It will, however, remain their choice.

So I would say, don’t expect magic. The only real way to undo the damage of years of racism is to make the conscious effort to be fair, and set that kind of example until it’s second nature, and the acceptance that people get from that treatment becomes second nature, too.

Lastly, privacy typically covers things that people cannot discover or see for themselves without intruding past the public domain.

So how private is race to start with?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2009 8:10 PM
Comment #285868

Stephen D., I appreciate your dancing around my comment in your reply to me. I cried tears of joy when Obama was elected along with my wife.

But, I didn’t congratulate the race of African descendants, which we all are, for Obama’s election. I congratulated the voters for making a sound choice of a president and for accepting the need for change.

My comment to you was very straightforward and logical. If you congratulate a race for the accomplishment of one of their own, do you not then logically by the same logic, have to condemn that race when one of their own performs damnable act?

Your comment congratulating the Hispanics for Sotomayor’s selection and confirmation was racist. There is no logical way around it. And like all who discriminate, your reply is to deny it or dance around having it pointed out. The way to end racism is to remove it from one’s own thinking and assumptions first, and not contribute to its continuance with unexamined assumptions which lead to racist logic as your statement employed.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 7, 2009 8:52 PM
Comment #285870


Sotomayor got more Senate votes than Alito and almost as many as Roberts. This is sort of how it works in the partisan world.


You are right. We should judge people by their accomplishments, not those of people who look like them.

Posted by: Christine at August 7, 2009 8:57 PM
Comment #285872

David R. Remer-
That’s just political correctness run amok. I’m shocked you could interpret such a positive acknowledgment of a milestone as being an act of racism.

Let’s say we’re dealing with a family. They have a child, and I congratulate the whole family about that wonderful occasion. Does it then follow that I must then blame them all for a murder that an uncle commits? No.

I am congratulating the Latino community for a milestone, that surely belongs to all of them just as that child belongs to all the family. That does not mean that must therefore logically always blame that whole family for the acts of one.

I am happy to hear that. But tell me: what justifies the continuation of this spite? If the Republicans wanted to have the moral high ground on this, they could see whether the candidate was qualified, and then pass them if they were. And if the Democrats didn’t follow suit, you could say “Well, I’m sorry the Democrats felt they couldn’t forgive and forget like we have.”

Alleging hypocrisy from a moral low ground is just hypocrisy misdirecting attention away from itself. The log must be removed from the eye for one to remove the speck well from somebody else’s.

I’m big on removing logs before specks.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2009 10:09 PM
Comment #285874

Daily Kos Founder Markos Moulitsas’s headline:It WAS an incredible day for Latinos .

Again, my congratulations to them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 7, 2009 10:25 PM
Comment #285875

>Or, would one argue that Sotomayer is the most qualified to sit on the Supreme Court? I think not. Few would argue that she is the most qualified Latino to sit on the court.
Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 7, 2009 06:46 PM

Roy Ellis,

Stupid argument to begin with. The most qualified is rarely chosen, mostly because ‘the most qualified’ is too subjective to even exist. If you can state unequivically that she is NOT qualified, then your argument carries some weight…she is well qualified, hence the confirmation. Do you honestly believe that the current crop of Supreme Jurists are each the ‘most qualified’ to sit the high bench? Is Roberts, among those now sitting, the most qualified to be the top dog?

We’ve GOT the government we deserve, because we voted it in, just like Truman and Ike were what those in the fifties deserved because those in the fifties voted them in, and those in the two thousands deserved Cheney/Bush…er…maybe no one deserved that hack?!?!

Posted by: Marysdude at August 7, 2009 10:39 PM
Comment #285877

No Stephen, it is the source of all discrimination - assumptions made without thinking, without logic, without critical evaluation based on reason.

Your statement was illogical, since it appears clear you would not hold a race responsible for the actions of one. Ergo, to remain logical and undiscriminatory, one must not exalt a race for the actions of one, either. Isn’t that what the German people did in the 1930’s? It is illogical and irrational, however PC or picayune it may seem to you.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 7, 2009 11:13 PM
Comment #285878

Agree Marysdude, probably none of the SCJ’s were the most qualified at the time of their confirmation. I should have included them all rather than singling out Sotomayer. To put a spin on her confirmation suggesting that her judicial qualifications were the primary factor in her nomination IMO is pure hogwash.
So much for coalition building when you stick it to ole white stodgy southern whatevers. Makes little difference to me as I bailed out on the duopoly when Regan came on line. I am so proud to be a non-duopoly person.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve!

Posted by: Roy Ellis at August 7, 2009 11:22 PM
Comment #285880

David R. Remer-
The congratulations I’m offering is offered in sympathy. I’m saying to them, I share your joy. I am not assigning responsibility. If I congratulated Sotomayor herself, then that would have the addeed assignation in question.

An alternative logical counterpart to condemning the entire race for one person’s actions would be to say that I feel sorry on behalf of the convicted criminal’s family, or on behalf of the community. You can say, for example, that I feel bad for America because of what Bush did, without condemning America.

You make the mistake of assigning a dichotomy to feelings and expressions of feelings, that do not necessarily work in polar opposites. You also oversimplified the nature of my statement.

And it is PC run amok, because I’m having to explain what I mean by congratulations. Could you imagine a family arguing like this with somebody who sent a note of congratulations for a kid’s graduation? After all, wouldn’t you then be logically obligated to send them death threats if their kid went to juvenile hall?

People don’t work like that.

Going off to your point about logic? I’m a student of neuroscience, and one of the things I’ve learned is that another dichotomy, that between reason and emotion, is a false dichotomy. People use their feelings in their reasoning process. They’ve established this on a neurological basis, noting the consquences of what happens when critical frontal and pre-frontal lobe regions are damaged. They often show that Gage case when talking about how that tamping rod was blasted clean through his skull. But what gets discussed less often was how that brain damage blunted his emotional expressions and left him unmotivated, feckless. We cannot overlook or take emotions out of the equation of rational behavior.

Also, though, as a student of information theory, I’ve found that no logical system can ever be complete. There is no way to create a logical system that doesn’t contain within itself axioms that prove themselves false. And people are a lot less consistent than the rigorous systems of symbolic logic they employ.

Not only that, but the brain is also designed, in many cases, and for good reasons, to ellide the different steps, rather than plod through every decision in a conscious, deliberate fashion.

Additionally, there is the issue that not all systems that are logical, or which have a logic like structure, are necessarily rational in the outcomes they produce. People can come up with elaborate reasons and impeccable logic to do stupid, evil, and self-destructive things.

We won’t be able to use reason to cure all the ills of irrationality. People are not built as computers. They are built to function in real time, on a provisional basis. We can learn systems that improve our cognitive skills, but judgment will forever be something that we must judge in situ to fully understand. Vigilance concerning our habits of thought is the best course of action.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2009 8:25 AM
Comment #285889


I am not saying that Republicans should just behave like Democrats did. Indeed, I agree that they should try to be better. But it is not possible for Democrats to be outraged at behavior so much like their own, although not as bad.

I have truly mixed feelings about how things are now. The media is so kind to Democrats and especially to president Obama. Yet Democrats still complain that everybody is not on board and the hosannas are not loud enough.

My mixed feelings come from my desire to look at the positive aspect. I like that. I think the positive outlook helps create actual positive results. On the other hand, if we are unrealistically positive, as we were unrealistically negative during the Bush years, we cannot make true assessments.

Posted by: Christine at August 8, 2009 12:08 PM
Comment #285892

Look, stop buying the Media Bias myth. If we really had real friends in the media, there would be no end to the hosannas.

I mean, from my perception, we had to fight to get the media, much less the Republcians to recognize that something was going wrong in Iraq. It took the better part of a year, and undeniable increases in violence and sectarian discord for that recognition to take place.

The real problem with Bush is that he never let up being bad at his job. He let things fester and get out of control that no other recent president in memory had let spiral into disaster.

I mean, I had low expectations of Bush, but even I was surprised by the disasters he was willing to let occur. I never thought anybody would let a war get out of control in my lifet time like Bush let Iraq get out of control. I never anticipated such a humanitarian disaster as Katrina’s aftermath, nor that any president would be foolish enough to let that problem fester. I never thought any Republican with half a brain would let the deficit spin so incredibly out of control.

Bush did his damage basically by being worse than reasonable people would expect a president to be. You couldn’t help but be negative, if you were keeping up with how things were moving along.

Unfortunately, the Republicans are not accepting this. They’re thinking, oh, we got a bad shake here by the media. No, actually, the media was too kind. It took months to get them thinking something might be wrong. They completely failed to anticipate the economic meltdown that was to come. They didn’t do much of any reporting before Katrina about the levees, and Republicans were constantly given passes for deficit spending nobody would have accepted from the Democrats.

You don’t get good policy from mere positive thinking. You get it from critical analysis. You get it from being willing to learn from (and being willing to fix) your mistakes.

The biggest problem here is that the conservative base and its media are not doing that. They’re plowing straight on, active as if they can just will themselves out of Americans crisis of confidence in them. They can’t. They’ve burned their credibility. Before Sotomayor, they had at least 15% favorability, having already damaged it by taking the hard-right tack on immigration. But after it, they’re down to just 3%.

And that’s just one example. True assessments are based on feedback loops with reality. You have to look at what you’re doing. Blind faith in an ideological truth does not make for good policy. It makes for a ticking time-bomb of policy stupidity that’s only going to confirm or create more trouble for you.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2009 1:04 PM
Comment #285893

Sotomayor has a good anti-antitrust record. Quite a few Republicans liked that, quite a few Democrats as well. Another victory for the corpocrocy?

Posted by: jlw at August 8, 2009 1:29 PM
Comment #285894


as (almost) always, great post.

It strikes me as hilarious that when a judge rules the way Reps/Cons think they should they are “strict constructionists”; when they rule any other way, they are “activist judges”. It will be interesting to see how they label Sotomayor going forward.

Posted by: Greg House at August 8, 2009 1:46 PM
Comment #285895

Christine: “Yet Democrats still complain that everybody is not on board and the hosannas are not loud enough.”

I must have missed that Fox news segment.

Care to post any citations or references to support this or are you just throwing stuff at the wall to see if it sticks?

Posted by: Greg House at August 8, 2009 1:49 PM
Comment #285896

Stephen & Greg

I am not saying the whole media is on the Obama wagon, but a lot is. I am one of those people who listen to both Fox and NPR. In the morning I read the WSJ and the NYT. The story line differences are interesting. Let me give an example.

Yesterday at a health care town meeting some guys from the Service Workers Union beat up a guy giving out “don’t tread on me” flags. It was caught on tape. It was not very severe beat down, but four guys threw this guy to the ground, kicked him and called him the N-word. Fox showed the tape and interviewed the guy.

This morning I listened to NPR. They reported on the trouble and violence at some of the town meetings, mentioning the incident, but they didn’t explore the story and they left the distinct impression that the anti-health care folks were responsible for the violence.

Now I imagine if four “right wing” thugs had roughed up a black man and called him the N-word. I think it would have been a bigger story. Honestly, don’t you?

Now consider economic news. Yesterday unemployment rate dropped to 9.4%, even though thousands of jobs were lost, because more people have become so discouraged they have stopped looking for work. The main stream media reports this little fact and then quickly elides to the good news. During the Bush administration, when unemployment dropped to 4.5%, all we heard were reports that unemployment rates were not reliable indicators of better times. So Bush was blamed because 4.4% was “too high” an unemployment rate, while Obama is praised for 9.4%.

Of let’s return to your Sotomayor example. You and the MSM left the impression that Republicans were being particularly uncooperative, but when Democrats did the same to well-qualified Bush nominees and even in more partisan fashion against Alito, Senator Obama threatened a filibuster, it was praised as the needed give-and-take in a democracy.

There are only 100 senators. You can spin all you want, but the numbers tell the story than any body who can count and is not blinded by partisan loyalties can see.

Anyway, I think I spend more time with a variety of media than most other people, including NPR, PBS, NYT, Fox, and the major networks. I am basing my opinion on personal experience, not any “myths” or talking points.

Posted by: Christine at August 8, 2009 3:16 PM
Comment #285902

Stephen D. said: “The congratulations I’m offering is offered in sympathy. I’m saying to them, I share your joy. I am not assigning responsibility. If I congratulated Sotomayor herself, then that would have the addeed assignation in question.”

OK. that is one way of defending the statement. Still, the fact remains, congratulating a race, or condemning one, for the actions of one person or a few, is inherently a race oriented view. And race oriented views are what America has as an enormous obstacle to becoming non-racist.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 8, 2009 5:39 PM
Comment #285903

I believe people can agree on things beyond just the political grounds. If you’re a reporter and half the things you hear about from these Hecklers at the healthcare events are bull, and you know about the industry involvement, where do you think the responsible Reporter’s going to take the story?

They’ll say that the Hecklers are wrong, and that they’re supported by the industry that stands to gain from killing healthcare. Of course, this conclusion might be seen as biased by the Republicans, but it’s the truth.

The truth also is, the account the Republicans would want people to believe is also biased. But it has the added problem of being false.

They want this to be seen as a grassroots movement. It is not, at least not as purely as some would have us believe. They would have us believe that the concerns of the Hecklers are legitimate, but only a few are. Much of what they push is just paranoia fed to them by folks interested in turning them against government healthcare reform.

The issue with filibusters is that filibusters were much rarer under the Democrat’s tenure as minority, much more selectively used. The numbers tell a different story, the Republicans essentially using such numbers to make up for a disadvantage in no longer being the majority, in a way nobody else ever has. They have power, so long as they act in unison.

As far as economic news goes, the situation we’re in now owes itself to the economic measures Bush and other economic conservatives took. They removed safeguards that prevented cheating, and limited use of ill-defined derivatives markets. They didn’t do it alone, I will concede, but this is exactly what they wanted, and they made no apologies for it.

Bush’s economic numbers depended on the excessive extension of credit, on a housing bubble his people helped to overheat, on predatory lending they not only didn’t stop, but which they intervened for by stopping the states from doing their investigations of.

You cite one story of a Conservative getting roughed up. DOZENS of Democratic Party Townhalls have been disrupted to date. Strange that Republicans think that one guy getting beat up somehow supersedes dozens of disrupted events. There are even reports now of some of these Hecklers tweeting other Hecklers to bring guns. Does that sound like judgment that carries on to a happy ending?

The problem here is that you’re taking an approach that does not ground itself in a common perspective. You’re seeing things in the competitive perspective of a Republican, and justifying things in that light. Because of that, you rationalize behavior, comments, and attitudes others will not rationalize as you do.

Keep that in mind. That means that when you make a certain comment, it might not come off to someone as sensible as you believe it does.

This is the problem with the accusations of media bias- as long as your attitude is that Republicans are being presented unfairly, you will be counting the articles that present the Republicans in an unfavorable light, rather than asking whether their bad reputations might be deserved.

It also insinuates itself into the way we use language, and not necessarily to our credit. I have sympathy for anybody who doesn’t find the two parties particularly sympathetic at this point. God knows I’m frustrated. But when I hear terms like Corpocracy, or Duopoly, I cringe.

I also cringe when people use words like Rethuglicans, or libtards, or other terms like that. It has never been my experience that such language is helpful. To me, it’s always important to try and shave rhetoric down to the most objective, the most proveable statements.

I use articles and sources to make my points. I use logic, and widely agreeable statements. I think that when you start creating a vocabulary to describe people, you run the risk of frontloading all your meaning into the predictable use of those terms.

I believe in appealing to first principles, and building on primary facts. I’m looking to get people’s agreement, not merely express my views.

You can justify and amp yourself up endlessly to express yourself, and keep on telling yourself that you’re just speaking your peace. It’s different if your idea is to persuade people. I have to admit sometimes I just have to get out an opinion, but usually I try to calm down and be sharper on the substance, channeling passion into fluency of words and momentum of presentation.

Too many Republicans are telling themselves that expressing the truth gives them license to disregard other people’s opinions. The problem is, if they seek to persuade people, and make lasting progress in doing so, is that you must respect that the choice to be persuaded belongs to the other person. If you push too hard, if you don’t respect people, how do your expect respect or agreement in return?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2009 5:46 PM
Comment #285906


When protestors such as Code Pink or the well-financed flash mobs organized by operated with their disinformation, reporters tended to report that protestors indicated that Bush policies were not popular. They didn’t bother to dig very far into the financing, which, BTW, was easily followed.

There is almost no such thing as a spontaneous protest. These days they are expertly staged events. I think the left is annoyed that they have some competition.

Re Filibusters – the Republicans CANNOT do a Filibuster. The Democrats control the whole show. It is a point of Democratic disinformation to say they fear Republican filibusters. What they really fear is dissention among Democrats.

Re actual violence, surely you understand that actually assaulting someone, i.e. throwing him to the ground, kicking him and calling him the N-word, is different from disrupting a meeting. Again, all you need do is look at tapes of mobs, Code Pink screamers or those clowns who blow whistles and throw pies to see that disruptive behavior is generally a left wing game.

I dislike all these sorts of shouters, left or right. The left does it a lot more often. And I have watched the television footage of the supposed disrupters of the health care town meetings. What most of them do is simply ask questions that the Administration prefers not to answer.

The Democrat problem is that they had hoped to stage these town halls to show support. Opponents have high jacked the theater with a theater of their own. So sad that real opinion has disrupted the staged opinion planned by the Obama camp.

So let’s agree that those who disrupt are always A-holes. This includes some of the people at the town halls. It also includes almost all anti-war demonstrators, usually Acorn, always, always Act Up and always campus radical and pie throwers. A plague on all of them.

And, BTW, I really think that four guys throwing a peaceful protester to the ground, kicking him and -calling him the N-word is probably a bad thing, worse than just chanting at town hall. All the guy was doing was giving out free flags.

Posted by: Christine at August 8, 2009 6:57 PM
Comment #285909

I’ve watched footage. This was more than asking uncomfortable questions. I’ve seen several different videos from separate events. There was a reason that I was calling these people Screamers, earlier on. For all too many, that seems to be an accurate description.

I think people who take up these tactics are morons. If you can’t convince people with your wits and your eloquence, you don’t deserve to win. Hell, if you haven’t won with them, you haven’t really won at all.

Believe me, people from my party are getting angry, and worse yet for your end of things, we’re getting motivated. What had been a disillusioning morass of legislative sausage making becomes yet once again, has been clarified and given new cause.

Or put another way, these folks might just provide the unifying common enemy necessary to compel Democrats and their legislatures to push this through with greater force.

See, that’s what you got to understand about the Bush Years. By repeatedly humiliating and trying to permanently subjugate the Democrats, the Republicans motivated the subsequent netroots movements, not to mention Obama and the new left’s ground-up campaign to regain the majority By trying to deprive us of our stake, they encouraged us to fight to take it back.

The aggression of the Republicans this last decade has been a huge part of creating the peaceful, but strong resistance that toppled them from power.

The Republican are once again trying to rise on the back of somebody’s fear. So they’ll tell that Pelosi’s being a monster, that Reid (who Democrats regard as a complete wimp) is pushing the far left’s agenda, that Obama’s not even American, that he loves terrorists, that he wants to kill poor Sarah Palin’s little baby.

Did you know she said that? Did you know that these people are claiming outlandish things like concentration camps and people spying on each other, based on this legislation?

I would charitably describe the kind of claims that are being offered as paranoid schizophrenic. Who would seriously believe that any American politician could think they could get away with a slaughter of the innocents like Palin describes?

These are not people who will help your party with its struggle out of the political wilderness. These are the people others justify the Republican’s place in exile with. The sooner you cut them loose, the better.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2009 9:31 PM
Comment #285910

“During the Bush administration, when unemployment dropped to 4.5%, all we heard were reports that unemployment rates were not reliable indicators of better times.”

I never heard that. I’m guessing your partisan bias is in favor of Bush, so you hear criticism most people do not.

“There are only 100 senators. You can spin all you want, but the numbers tell the story than any body who can count and is not blinded by partisan loyalties can see.”

What does this mean? What is “the story” the numbers tell?

“You and the MSM left the impression that Republicans were being particularly uncooperative…”

I did this? The MSM did? Sorry, I’m sure I did not and I’m fairly certain the MSM did not. Cite examples, please. My take, as I’ve posted previous times in previous blog discussions on this site, was that they were displaying their impotence and powerlessness but not necessarily being especially uncooperative. There wasn’t really much they could do either in committee or in the full Senate to stop her.

“…but when Democrats did the same to well-qualified Bush nominees and even in more partisan fashion against Alito, Senator Obama threatened a filibuster, it was praised as the needed give-and-take in a democracy.”

Maybe my memory serves me poorly but I could have sworn that Alito was confirmed and sworn in to the SC, right? So how is this any worse than the way Sotomayor was treated? You probably picked a bad example comparing the two especially since, AGAIN, you offer nothing but your personal recollection that the MSM did this or that.

“Now I imagine if four “right wing” thugs had roughed up a black man and called him the N-word. I think it would have been a bigger story. Honestly, don’t you?”

We’ll see where this goes. Everything I’ve seen makes it appear that the incident wasn’t cut-and-dried, i.e. alleged this and alleged that. Here’s the difference between Fox (and the rest of what you probably call non-MSM) and NPR, though: NPR says the man was beat up by some SEIU employees while the non-MSM says he was beat up by “Barry’s brown-shirts”; as if any time something bad happens to someone on the right caused by someone on the left, it couldn’t possibly be some fringe lunatics, it has to be people operating under the command of Obama.

Posted by: Greg House at August 8, 2009 9:34 PM
Comment #285912

Greg – the numbers tell that Alito received fewer Democratic votes than Sotomayor got Republicans. Roberts got a few more, but not a big difference. If Republicans are being uncooperative now, what does that say about Democratic votes in similar situations?

Re examples, just read down this blog. Stephen has complained on several occasions about Republicans not supporting Sotomayor. In this very post Stephen complains that Republicans put Sotomayor through the wringer. If this is just the SOP for both Democrats and Republicans, why bring it up at all?

About the thugs and the N-word – the tape shows four thugs throwing a guy to the ground and kicking him. He was standing on a public street. It seems fairly cut and dried. Everybody (NPR) seems to agree that they were union thugs and members of a union that supports Obama. I suppose we could dispute whether the thugs called the victim the N-word.

I don’t mean to jump to conclusions, but think of how fast President Obama jumped to the conclusion that Cambridge police were stupid and profiling, when he had no evidence at all and it turns out he was wrong.


I think they call this community organizing. How is it any worse than, code pink …? Polls show that most Americans now have doubts and that those with most doubts are most strongly involved.

Beyond that only 30% of American think health care will him them or their families and 83% are satisfied with the health care they are receiving now.

I think the problems Democrats have is that most Americans think health care needs to be reformed BUT they don’t have much confidence in the Democratic plans on offer.

Posted by: Christine at August 9, 2009 12:14 AM
Comment #285915

“If Republicans are being uncooperative now, what does that say about Democratic votes in similar situations?”

Well, nobody but you has said they were being uncooperative, that I know of.

I never said they were being uncooperative because I don’t think they have been uncooperative.

So I guess I fail to understand what you’re complaining about.

That’s why I’m not and never could be a Republican - I can and do admit when I’ve failed.

Posted by: Greg House at August 9, 2009 12:59 AM
Comment #285917

One guy gets beaten up, and he’s a martyr. Prosecute the people who did it, but don’t think that this makes you folks better than us, not with this campaign of intimidation you folks have going on.

Your party has little else to sell but rage and fear. What do you have to organize around on healthcare other than the opposition to our plan?

We went into that election with plans, with bold new ititiatives, with policy ideas, many of which we put into play. What do these hecklers have to offer? What do they stand for, other than an intolerable status quo?

As for what make what they do worse, well that’s one part- the sort of policy nihilism. But lets add something else: They’re basically industry organized. But will they say that while they’re shouting the industry line, the industry propaganda they’ve been handed? Of course not. They’re playing the part of concerned citizens pushed over the edge, rather than conservative apologists who were over that edge to begin with. They are not playing fair with the people whose minds they want to change.

You keep on trying to make this equivalence, and I just find that equivalence problematic at best. The Democratic leaders were quick to knock down the General Betrayus line, and Obama diminished the role of 527s and the like in the election.

You don’t see most of the political mainstream of the Democrats playing hardball like this.

I hear all this justification, justification, justification. I’m tired of hearing from the Republicans just why it’s so necessary to be relentlessly negative and obstructionist. They got to learn to live with the rest of us.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 9, 2009 2:09 AM
Comment #285927


Frankly, I think the noise from all these meeting serves Democrats well, since they don’t have to explain a health care plan that they don’t have.

The hard part will come for them when the Congress gets back to work and tries to do the impossible.

As I have expressed on several occasions, I believe we should go with a Scandinavian style program. Having experienced it, I don’t think it is good, but it is the best we can get if we want to hold down costs and insure all Americans.

I fear we will end up with something worse because advocates are promising too much that they - that nobody - can deliver.

People at the town hall meetings are angry because they can anticipate what they are losing. They will be giving up care that they are more or less happy with for the “greater good”.

If you are well-insured now (and most Americans are) you will get less. If you are underinsured how, you will get more. It will be leveled out.

I am willing to accept this. Many people are not and liberals are lying to people, maybe to themselves, about what will happen.

Posted by: Christine at August 9, 2009 9:57 AM
Comment #285947

“Dr.” Brian Zerr ,

You’re not an M.D., are you? If so, why can’t I find you in the AMA listings? If not, what’s subject is your doctorate in and what is the institution that awarded it?

Posted by: Greg House at August 9, 2009 3:42 PM
Comment #285951

Dr. Brian Zerr-
Hmmm. I could start off by saying that all the legislation concerning end of life treatment will actually do is pay for you to go out and define for yourself how your critical care will proceed, especially in cases of terminal care.

Paying for this every five years does not constitute something like Sarah Palin’s Death Council, and I believe it’s irresponsible for folks like you and her to play amateur lawyer and allege such a patently absurd idea as if this was actual potential policy.

It’s also interesting that you claim that care will be rationed for old folks. No such rationing has been proposed, fortunately. When speaking about rationing, we should also recall the rationing present in regular healthcare- only in this case the rationed care isn’t some elective procedure, but on necessary treatment that healthcare companies finds to be too much of a drain on their bottom line.

As for the other programs? We’re not bankrupt… Yet. One key reason we need healthcare reform is that we’re seeing healthcare costs go up across the board. Medicare and other government programs have seen their costs rise as the costs of medical systems in general increase. We’re paying 5% on top of the amount of GDP other country’s pay for medicine, and yet we don’t have the public healthcare system most of these other countries have to supposedly bankrupt us.

No, the current, mostly private system will do that for us. At the rate we’re going, we’re going to be paying out 20% of our GDP for our “cheaper” healthcare, to the tune of 4.3 trillion dollars a year. Not over ten years, over one.

The cost of the current plan? about 24 billion dollars a year, over current spending. Even a modest reduction in healthcare costs will pay for this program, at the scales of spending we’re taling about.

Part of those cost reductions will be in Medicare. It’s interesting that Republicans moan and groan about the waste and fraud in Medicare, but only managed to add to Medicare’s liabilities through the poorly legislated drug benefit, and the completely redundant Medicare Advantage Plan, where we pay insurance companies to do Medicare’s work for it. But when it comes time to reduce the costs, to reform the system towards greater efficiency? Oh, we must be sucker-punching the geezers to do that!

The truth of the matter is, Dr. Zerr, that you are whatever kind of doctor you are, but you’re no economist, and not a lawyer.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 9, 2009 4:25 PM
Comment #285966

“…I think the noise from all these meeting serves Democrats well, since they don’t have to explain a health care plan that they don’t have.”

OK, now I’ve heard everything.

You’re trying to tell us that it is to the Democrats’ advantage to hold town hall meetings at which they ostensibly try to receive input from constituents and explain what work toward reform has been done, but to instead have the meetings disrupted by people who have neither interest in giving input nor receiving explanations about the proposed legislation?

If (as you say) they’ve really got nothing wouldn’t it be more to their advantage to just not hold the town halls instead of running the risk that they would actually have to explain what their plans are, if the town hall wasn’t disrupted?

Or are you saying (I’m really trying not to LOL here) the teabaggers have been put up to disrupting the Dems’ town halls by the Dems themselves, to make the Dems look better?


Posted by: Greg House at August 9, 2009 9:25 PM
Comment #285967

…liberals are lying to people…”

On the other hand, of course no Republican or Conservative is lying about things like forced euthanasia or death panels.

Man, those pesky liberals lying about stuff all the time. Thank God Almighty no Republican or Conservative would ever even think about lying about serious stuff like this.

Posted by: Greg House at August 9, 2009 9:31 PM
Comment #285979

No, Greg, Christine isn’t saying that…she is saying the Republicans have a health-care plan and the Democrats don’t. And, THAT is what I’d like to see her present in this thread.

As far as I can tell, the Republican health-care plan consists of…’no’, ‘wait’, ‘never’, ‘maybe later’, ‘we don’t need one’, ‘only the rich deserve health-care’, ‘common people will take advantage of such a plan’, ‘it is more socialism than Social Security’, ‘government run programs like Medicare don’t work, and market adjustment is all that’s required’, etc. If you’ve seen a real plan from the right, please advise me of it.

Assuming that Medicare and Social Security bite the dust as predicted, and pointed to as reason for the government to stay out of the market place, perhaps it could be pointed out how many lives were made more comfortable while those programs were actually working? My grandparents, my parents and me would have all died far earlier and suffered a great deal more without at least one of the two programs to rely on for life’s buffer. Even if they fail in future, they have been great, workable programs for several decades, and for hundreds of millions of citizens…what’s wrong with that? All Socialism is bad…my arse!

Posted by: Marysdude at August 10, 2009 9:54 AM
Comment #285999


I don’t care if the Republicans have a plan or not. I can see why you might be confused, since I am arguing two separate points. And of course, you are stereotyping me so that you can argue against the opponent you want, not the one you have. Let me be clear.

1. I favor a Scandinavian style health care because it is the best we can get. I don’t think that is the Republican plan. Unfortunately, I also don’t think it is the Democratic plan. We cannot cover all Americans at the same or lower costs. All public health systems ration care. We will too. I feel that is unavoidable and acceptable.
2. My other point is only tangential. I am arguing that the town hall meetings are the stuff of community organizing. This is what liberals have been doing for a long time. The Democratic outrage is hypocritical and they are not getting away with it.

I don’t think the Democrats planned for resistance. They were planning the town halls with packed with their own supporters. IT was going to be a liberal theater but it turned into a conservative theater. I am delighted by that because it is funny and I like to see people get a taste of their own medicine.

The Democrats cannot explain they program because it is not good for many Americans. Seniors will suffer and they have figured this out. The town halls they planned were not supposed to be explanations. They were going to be stage managed. It didn’t work out. So sad.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi is looking like a fascist. She is frustrated that her party thugs have lost control of the agenda. That also is funny. I enjoy that.

Sometimes I don’t have a political agenda so much as just an amusement. I dislike Nancy Pelosi and am glad when she becomes the object of ridicule, but it is just fun.

Posted by: Christine at August 10, 2009 10:21 PM
Comment #286043

Yeah, I know what you mean…I laugh when people’s lives are threatened, and giggle when grown men shout down those who try to explain or present ideas too. It’s just my cup-o-tea, so to speak. I can stand back above the fray, and when the dust is settled, I can be arrogant as I speak of what might have been…if they’d just have presented or explained what I wanted them to in the first place…all those jerks who think they know better than I do what’s good for America…yeah! Let me go get my gun, just so you’ll know I’m serious about this stuff…

Posted by: Marysdude at August 11, 2009 2:07 PM
Comment #286044


>Sometimes I don’t have a political agenda so much as just an amusement. I dislike Nancy Pelosi and am glad when she becomes the object of ridicule, but it is just fun.
Posted by: Christine at August 10, 2009 10:21 PM

If you read the masthead, you might see that this is a political blog. If your entry is not political, what is it doing on this site?

Posted by: Marysdude at August 11, 2009 2:10 PM
Comment #286065

I would much rather have ‘grown men shout me down’ than to be beaten up by union thugs for selling flags…

Of course, I’m silly that way.

BTW, what do you think of this?

the organizer of the protest against Rostenkowski was Jan Schakowsky – then Director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens – and currently Democratic representative from the Ninth Congressional District of Illinois, and chief deputy whip to Majority Leader Pelosi.

Video can be found here.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 11, 2009 4:30 PM
Comment #286066

I’d love Single Payer, too. But we have to compromise with those who would not go with a Scandinavian Style system. This, you should understand, is the middle ground between a government takeover and the intolerable status quo.

On the other hand, town halls are nothing new, traditional sort of constituent events that Politicians use to at least look like they’re listening to their voters. Naturally that means supporters, but it could just as well mean critics too.

But they’re typically not very exciting events. They’re not well publicized, and not well covered. If it were the politician’s campaign you were looking to disrupt, there are more visible targets, which could do more public damage.

I think at this point, I should share this thought with you: after a fashion, the strategy has failed. Democrats were tipped off, and what might have been intended to seem like a string of disastrous encounters with an enraged public, meant to rattle the politicians, now looks to much of the public and the Senators and Representatives what it actually is: an industry backed attempt by far-right organizations to create an intentionally erroneous appearance of rage and hatred in this country against Obama’s healthcare reform efforts.

Don’t be delighted. Republicans will get hit by the backwash, if these people are successful. You’re no longer dealing with Parties or people i the grassroots of the Dems that like playing with one hand tied behind their backs. If you don’t want this kind of theatrics to pervade the political atmosphere, you have to make it clear to others, you and other people, that this is unacceptable behavior.

Now, sure, it amuses me sometimes to see a heckler disrupt a Republican. But if you asked me, did this guy further the Democratic cause, I’d have to say no, the guy made himself look like a wierdo, and probably succeeded in convincing no one. More disruptive to things is somebody who asks a provocative question, whose content, even when spoken softly, would resound like a thunderclap.

A lot of people who write and communicate fail to realize that the goal is not merely to get those feelings out, but indeed to bring others into synchrony with those feelings, that mood. That, of course, is more complex a matter than straight self-expression, but it should be any thinking person’s approach to politics, because the point of politics is compromise and influence, and those who can only brute force smash through the system to get their way will find their tactics rebounding on them.

Here, the Tea Partisans are just trying to force a complete stop to efforts to tell people about what our plan is, to popularize it. Trouble is, you can force your view on people, loudly and obnoxiously, but it does not follow that you will be rewarded for your fervor with people taking your side.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 11, 2009 4:43 PM
Comment #286081

(OED)race, n.
f M F, French race group of people connected by common descent (c1480 as rasse), offspring, descendants (1496), subdivision of a species represented by a certain number of individuals with hereditary characteristics (c1500), time span of a generation (1552), origin, extraction (1558), set or class of people sharing the same profession or the same character (1564), group of animals born to the same mother (1611), subdivision of mankind which is distinguished from others by the relative frequency of certain hereditary traits (1684)

f Italian razza kind, species (a1388; earlier as masculine noun razzo (c1300 in sense “descent, lineage”, with reference to a horse)), group of individuals of an animal or vegetable species which are differentiated from another group of the same species by one or more characteristics which are constant and hereditary (a1446), offspring, descendants (15th cent.), further etymology uncertain and disputed. Compare Old Occitan rassa gang (late 12th cent.; Occitan raca), plot, conspiracy (13th cent.).

Various explanations of the origin of Italian razza have been suggested. Two of the most popular of these suggest a Latin origin: one theory suggests a derivation f classical Latin ratio n., while the other sees the word as being shortened f classical Latin generti n.

I. A group of people, animals, or plants, connected by common descent or origin.
In its widest sense the term includes all descendants from an original stock, but may also be limited to a single line of descent or to the group as it exists at a particular period.

d. According to various more or less formal systems of classification: any of the major groupings of mankind, having in common distinct physical features or having a similar ethnic background.

In early use usually applied to groups of people with obviously distinct physical characteristics such as skin colour, etc. An influential early system was that of J. F. Blumenbach De Generis Humani Varietati Nativa (1775), which, on the basis of skin colour and conformation of the head, divided the human species into five races, the American, Caucasian, Ethiopian, Malay, and Mongolian, and assigned them qualitative ranking. A similar division into six was proposed by Goldsmith (cf. quot. 1774).

In particular contexts (e.g. former European colonies or areas of the United States) adherents of a theory of race have freq. applied only a simple two-term distinction (such as ˜black” and ˜white”).

Now frequently used more generally to denote groups of different cultural or ethnic origin, in which context it sometimes merges with sense 1c. In recent years, the associations of race with the ideologies and theories that grew out of the work of 19th-cent. anthropologists and physiologists has led to the word often being avoided with reference to specific ethnic groups. Although it is still used in general contexts, it is now often replaced by terms such as people(s), community, etc.

1959 New Biol. 29 69 From the U.N.E.S.C.O. statement we can define ˜race” as ˜a division of man, the members of which, though individually varying, are characterized as a group by certain inherited physical features as having a common origin”

1971 R. M. KEESING & F. M. KEESING New Perspectives Cultural Anthropol. 51 It is at this point that the term “race” becomes relevant. Though in popular usage it is emotionally charged and imprecise, it has a straightforward and important meaning in evolutionary biology. A race is a geographically separated, hence genetically somewhat distinctive, population within a species.
b. The class of humans; mankind. Formerly freq. with the.
human race:
1553 T. WILSON Arte of Rhetorique 13 For, suche is the nature of man, and his corrupt race, that evermore the one foloweth soner, then thother.
c1580 SIR P. SIDNEY tr. Psalmes David XXI. x, From among the humane race [thou shalt] Roote out their generation.
a1616 SHAKESPEARE Timon of Athens (1623) IV. i. 40 His hate may grow To the whole race of Mankinde.
1667 MILTON Paradise Lost II. 348 The happy seat Of som new Race call’d Man.
1913 B. WEBB Diary 12 July (1952) I. I. 14 And as personal life draws quietly to its end, one’s thought concentrates on the future of the race and the search for the purpose of Human life.
1958 College Eng. 19 175/2 Tom and Rosasharn underscore the epic idea that all men are brothers because all men belong to the Race of Man.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 11, 2009 8:35 PM
Comment #286104
Here, the Tea Partisans are just trying to force a complete stop to efforts to tell people about what our plan is, to popularize it.

I think I’ve just realized where you miss the entire point of what is going on…

The goal of these people at the town halls is not to prevent the representatives from ‘getting out their word’, god knows they can do that in a million of ways, including just showing up on The Daily Show.

The goal is to make sure that the representatives hear REALLY HEAR what we think about the plans. Because there is no other way to do that, before 2010. When we call them, they don’t answer or talk back to us. When we try to visit them, they are rarely there. When we expect them to be reading the bills that they are supposed to be reading and voting on, they tell us they can’t be bothered.

There are very angry people out there. Not ‘stirred up’ angry, but really really angry. We see ‘town hall’ after ‘town hall’ with handpicked questioners and handpicked audiences and we are tired of letting that type of ‘representation’ go on, especially since we were promised so much different under this administration.

Yesterday, a black man who was not protesting but was selling flags to the protesters was called a nigger and beaten up by 3 union members. Stephen tells us we should have expected it, being all loud and stuff. Funny thing, he wasn’t even a protester. He wasn’t being loud and he wasn’t in anyone’s face.

Today, another person is beaten up. A protester this time. Only, not a ‘far right winger led by insurance company special interests’ as we are led to believe by Stephen’s favorite propaganda. No, this was Free Stater. If you don’t know what a Free Stater is, it is a libertarian that has decided to join the Free State Project, which chose a state and people then decided to move there, hopefully bringing about enough people to influence the elections and get some libertarians elected to the state and national offices. People have started moving there over the past couple of years. New Hampshire was picked because it was already very liberty loving, so this was the best place to start out.

I can guarantee you that the FreeStater was not a Republican or right-wing, he most likely opposed the Iraq war, opposed the constitutional violations of Bush (and Clinton before, etc) and has been attending and probably organizing Tea Parties long before they became ‘vogue’ this year.

So he doesn’t fit the ‘profile’. The other guy didn’t fit the ‘profile’. Who DOES fit the profile? I’m having a bit of a hard time finding that now… Most people I see getting questioned at town halls are members of that area (not bussed) and are obviously very very upset and frustrated.

But they are dismissed. Out of hand. Because the reality is just too much to accept for some people.

We are told this isn’t how Town Halls should be, even though a Democrat organized a Town Hall (and was very proud of it) back in 1989 against Dan Rostenkowski and it ended up with him running for his car from a large gaggle of old people… The organizer was elected to Illinois state office and now works for Nancy Pelosi, go figure…

The only ‘evidence’ we have ever been presented with is a memo that was written by a Libertarian who founded a PAC with four of his friends and put the memo together and sent it out to a few people. The memo found its way to listserv that is used by FreedomWorks associates to pass information around from smaller organization to other smaller organizations. And this is the ‘smoking gun link’.

ThinkProgress got a hold of the memo and, as one would expect of ThinkProgress, snipped out a few lines, cutting out their context, and paraded around for all to see. They of course did not put the ACTUAL memo up. Talking Points Memo did that though, only in non-searchable ‘picture’ form. But those of us who actually READ it shows that it does not say what ThinkProgress says it did. It is clear that the goal is not to become too disruptive, that they want to ensure that their questions get heard and get an answer, a real answer, not a rehearsed deflection.

Now Stephen thinks that ‘this plan will backfire’. Perhaps. The goal was to get heard and let the representatives know that there was real anger going on…

Now the left wants to ‘hit back double hard’, calls these protesters Unamerican (Unbelievably) and is calling on anyone to send in fishy emails to the government. We’re not to worry that the information that can be gathered from the emails might be used for some purpose or another later on… No, that’s just wacko thinking. Because Obama is in control and we can trust him with this power, he won’t abuse it.

Except not only has he continued the wiretapping procedures, he’s expanded it and has even taken on more power for the Executive Branch than Bush was willing to try to grab for. But we can trust him with that power.

And he wants to bring politics into the your medical decisions, moreso than already there for Medicare and Medicaid. But we can trust him with that power.

For the left, this is all a temporary thing, everything will be ok and this will all be over before next Novemeber.

I wonder if the people who are being marginalized at these meetings and being told they are unamerican will take it less personal than the left did when they came out to vote out the Republicans who did it to them?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 11, 2009 11:27 PM
Comment #286150

Sure, but this is about face to face communication. Like I said earlier, there’s a component here of trying to psych out both supporters and the Congressperson involved.

As a matter of fact, that’s the explicit strategy laid out in that memo: Rattle the Congressmen and Senators, Make your numbers look greater, yell out anytime they say something you don’t like-

Crowd psychology. Intimidation tactics.

Not tips on rhetoric, tips on style, independent resources to look things up on, or anything like that. These are not people being taught to convince people by reason, to speak their peace, and position and present their views to where they are memorable (for the right reasons), clear, and compelling. These are people being taught to create an emotional effect by showing up in great numbers, crowding in front, and knocking the guy off his message with heckling.

I don’t think this is about wanting to be heard, as much as it is about wanting to be on top, once more. They believe that the current interregnum is just an eclipse of right-wing control. They believe that if the politics are purified, if the doubters and moderates are purged, if the liberal legislation is stopped at all costs and their poll numbers drug down into the dirt.

I don’t believe they are all, or even mostly conscious industry flaks. My sense is that they are so used to working with organizations like FreedomWorks, about being Brothers in arms, and so convinced of their politically correct motives (using PC in its original connotation), that they simply don’t bother to ask the necessary questions about what their sponsor or compatriots real interests are.

While Democrats are constantly scrutinizing the contributions their folks recieve, especially those who are being obstinate about reform, the Republicans and the Tea Partisans, the Republicans don’t seem to care much, because the culture is used to there being a close relationship between the industries and the politicians. They don’t see it for what it is, because the party’s political dogmas have essentially laid out that it is good for them to have their Congressfolk in the industry’s pockets. The corruption hides in plain sight.

None are so blind as those who choose not to see.

I have no doubt that some people are genuinely angry. I’d be ****ing furious if I believed half the stuff these people do. Unfortunately for them, their anger is poorly founded. Democrats don’t actually want, in some cases could not possibly rationally support many of the things they accuse the Democrats of supporting. So when somebody gets angry with us over these things, the thought is that folks have gone nuts. It’s not politically correct, but its perfectly natural.

If somebody came up to you and heatedly accused you of being a Nazi who wanted to gas black children, and you couldn’t talk them down from that nonsense, you’d have to be pretty charitable not to think “Is this man out of his mind?”

Dozens of these events have happened. Dozens. But arrests have been few, and you can point to just a couple incidents. Not exactly a campaign of intimidation.

As for Free Staters (this issue apart from everything else), I can’t say I find the idea too attractive. It’s symptomatic of an attitude that hold folks from the right and the libertarians apart and sometimes even above their counterparts, a practice that rarely goes over well. No more than a veiled threat from a guy wearing a pistol when the president comes by.

The memo is not the only piece of evidence. We have FreedomWorks own people saying that they are an organizing force, and that disruption is their purpose. They’re proud to be known as the folks behind it. There are plenty of institutional links, and I trust that other story about the listservs.

I think the main question, the question you’re avoiding is this: would these kinds of people be showing up at so many events so consistently on their own, if they didn’t have a major Republican institution like FreedomWorks helping them?

The Obama Administration, when setting up their townhall, randomized the selection. Nobody asked ideological questions of those who wanted to attend.

Did we see these large angry mobs inside there? No. People were calm, reasonable. Like most normal people are.

It seems once you took out the factor of one side or another being able to pack the place, create disorder, or whatever else, out of the equation, you got a selection of moderate folks who just wanted to know what things were about.

I believe the people who went and vented at those townhalls, either organizing with FreedomWorks and other astroturf organizations, or following the example of those who did, destroyed their own credibility. The Right has taught for far too long that honesty and volume are directly proportional, but their uncritical acceptance of outlandish myths and their angry, belligerent, disrespectful manner have only helped to make them seem out of touch with both reality and the issues.

I’m sorry if saying that offends you. But these people are not winning the debate in the ways that matter.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 12, 2009 11:33 AM
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