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November 02, 2009

Alan Grayson $$$

Alan Grayson is an oasis in the vast desert that is the Democratic party. But like every oasis, he needs money. I just contributed to his moneybomb today, and I urge you to do so as well.

If he can't raise money online and loses next year, it will have a genuine chilling effect on a party whose temperature is already near absolute zero. But if other members see that someone like Grayson can raise lots of money, survive and thrive, it will have the opposite effect. Please give early and often.

I also appreciate that, unlike every other member of Congress, Grayson doesn't dress like a Wells Fargo Assistant Vice President.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at November 2, 2009 01:20 PM

Alan Grayson is an utterly standard "progressive" Democrat, perhaps slightly to the left of Obama. The fact that he grandstands with particular shamelessness while calling Republicans mean names does not make him Robert La Follette. He's an egomaniacal clown.

Posted by: Peter at November 2, 2009 02:06 PM

So I can put you down for $30?

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at November 2, 2009 02:21 PM


Posted by: Dilapidus at November 2, 2009 02:23 PM

Being willing to name the perps might only be a few steps left of Obama, but it's a crucial couple of steps.

Aside from Raul Grijalva and a few other leaders in the progressive caucus, I don't see anyone else in Congress pulling leftward -- and certainly not as effectively.

If Grayson's egomaniacal, he's no more so than a typical member of Congress. And he's no clown.

Posted by: Nell at November 2, 2009 02:29 PM

Something BIG needs to happen real soon in the Dem caucus. I think a lot of people besides me are finding it extremely difficult to continue supporting these lame,corporate friendly FUCKS.

Posted by: par4 at November 2, 2009 03:03 PM

The New York Times just called him a "wingnut," which, of course, makes him just fine with me.

Posted by: catherine at November 2, 2009 04:01 PM

Right. He dresses more like a "Parrot Head" actuary working for the weekend.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Posted by: john at November 2, 2009 04:14 PM

For reals, though. Other than loudly -- and vaguely -- insulting Republicans, what do you like about this guy? Sure, the Republicans have no health plan. But the Democratic health plan, which I've not heard him criticize in the least, is nothing more than a horrid giveaway to the insurance companies, accomplished by forcing tens of millions of people to buy their horrible product at whatever price they set.

Yes, it's fun to watch him get all shouty and call people whores, but that does not make him in any way deserving of money or support.

Posted by: Peter at November 2, 2009 05:03 PM

I'm inclined to agree with Peter, above. While I imagine that Grayson is better than average as pols go, the democrat's healthcare bill is a disaster which will hurt ordinary people, especially the less well off, as well as prevent a better plan from being enacted for years to come because so many people will say that we have to wait till 2011, 2012, 2013, etc when it starts to kick in, which is rank B.S.

I hate to say it, but it's time to withdraw support for the democratic party. It's had a long life, and became incompetent towards the end, like many other old things. Let it go the way of the Federalists and the Whigs.

Let it die.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at November 3, 2009 12:02 AM

"the democrat's healthcare bill is a disaster which will hurt ordinary people, especially the less well off, as well as prevent a better plan from being enacted for years to come because so many people will say that we have to wait"

I haven't studied the bill, and if poor people are going to be worse off with the health insurance offered by the plan, that would certainly be terrible and I won't support it then under any circumstances. But being completely unable to get health care would seem to me to be hard to top.

As for the it "will prevent a better plan" in the future argument, that I don't find persuasive. Every plan for the past century has been beaten down, which makes the bird in the hand look like it's worth a lot more than two in the future bush to me. But if the plan is actually a step BACK, that's another matter. I'm skeptical, but I'm pretty ignorant about the plan so I need to check that out more closely.

As for longing for the death of the disappointing Democratic party, just be careful what you wish for, all you folks who think that what emerges from the ashes will be a phoenix. What will emerge hasn't been determined yet, but a great deal of work has been done in the past two decades building a sophisticated right-wing angry white cult that appeals to a lot of heartland and Middle American populist sentiments. But it doesn't make proper use of those sentiments, or do anyone any good. It's basically updated fascism.

To understand political power, you have to understand cults. Those intel guys have been poking their noses into that dirty business for a long time. Even one Corporal Adolf Hitler got his start in politics as an agent of German military intelligence, and as we know, he turned out to be a natural cult leader. There are others out there now, and not just in fringe cults, and they do know how to build a movement. That movement will grow in the right circumstances, even if that seems hard to believe right now. (Read some Sebastian Haffner to get a feel how unseriously Hitler was taken in the 20s.)

So everybody who wants this to devolve into a showdown between the left and the right should definitely start thinking very clearly about their long-term strategy to win that struggle. The money will be on the other side, just like it was for Corporal Hitler, and the party program might not be all that much nicer. I'd say folks who want a new political party better build a populist program with an American agenda that lights a fire in people, and not just for urban affluent environmental types, or the truly important battle against the real enemy will be lost.

Posted by: N E at November 3, 2009 01:03 AM

Rep. Alan Grayson [D-FL8] -

Alan Grayson’s net worth was between $29,026,043 and $61,696,000 in 2007, according to Grayson’s mandated financial disclosure statements.

Yes. And send coals to Newcastle, too.

Posted by: Oarwell at November 3, 2009 09:45 AM

Good call, Oarwell.

Posted by: Marcus at November 3, 2009 01:55 PM

somebody say something about a party?? WOOOOOOO!!!

Posted by: tim at November 3, 2009 02:27 PM

... a great deal of work has been done in the past two decades building a sophisticated right-wing angry white cult that appeals to a lot of heartland and Middle American populist sentiments.

As has been noted much, many "Middle American" folks know that the Republican party doesn't represent them, but they also know that the Democratic Party sure as hell doesn't represent them. So I think this fact supports Versen's comment. If anything, it's continuing to vote for Democrats who are effectively anti-populist that makes a slide toward fascism more likely, and not the other way around.

Posted by: Cloud at November 3, 2009 04:17 PM

@Cloud: The fundraising for Alan Grayson is an effort to encourage populist Democrats. I'm not getting how that helps make a slide toward fascism more likely, but to each his/her own.

Posted by: Nell at November 3, 2009 04:31 PM

I don't want to put words in Cloud's mouth, and naturally I don't know he'd agree with the following. Nevertheless:

For several years now Democrats at the national level have been mostly passive enablers in the face of GOP assaults on civil liberties and the welfare state, and encouraging populist democrats is still encouraging democrats to stay in the democratic party with its hidebound leadership that forces its members to toe the line when it comes down to a vote-- unless they're 'blue dogs.'

Every dollar wasted on supporting a democrat who's all firey talk and no action is a dollar that could have been better spent elsewhere, such as on supporting independent non-profit news organizations, or simply withheld.

Part of the reason-- much of the reason-- the GOP's radical right has been so bold is because of how ineffective the 'adult' leadership of the democratic party has been as an opposition party, both as a minority and post 2006 as a majority.

2006: Impeachment is off the table

2008: Single-payer is off the table,

even with control of the white house and both wings of congress, including 59 seats in the senate, plus the reliably unreliable Lieberman, whom the Clintons backed over Ned Lamont, the dem primary winner.

If you want an effective liberal party, whether it be a revamped democratic party that successfully vomits its present leadership or something else entirely, one that can survive and be effective as a mainstream liberal party, you have to do the same thing the Goldwater crazies did in the 70s, and reject the party hierarchy.

The conventional wisdom is that Ford lost to Carter in '76 because he pardoned Nixon. This might be true, in part, but it also may be in part because the Reaganite wing was sufficiently disciplined to sit on their hands and wait for 1980. So-called populist democrats today don't seem to have this discipline.

The crazies' scortched earth policy succeeded, even though it took several years. If liberals want to do the same thing it's very doable, but it will not yield results right away.

Or they can settle for rhetoric and the occasional bone, like funding of stem-cell research, while we kill more Afghans. And say nothing when Obama goes on Letterman and praises Reagan for the umpteenth time.

Apart from Grayson, look at Kucinich: he's been all over the teevee lately, talking about his amendment giving states an option to start their own single-payer networks, which is rank bullshit because the states can already do this, but most are broke or nearly so. The trillion bucks to be diverted to private insurance companies will make it only more difficult to scrounge up funding so the states might be able to do this, but Kucinich has never indicated he would vote against the white house's bill because it's fundamentally bad legislation.

N E,

You raise some important points, and I don't have the energy to address them all properly right now. Briefly, let re-iterate something I wrote a while back:

Consider: if a plan with mandates forcing employers to provide health insurance for their workers or for individuals to buy their own insurance passes, poor people like me will just have to hand over a certain portion of our very meager incomes to insurance companies for worthless insurance plans just so we can "stay legal."
I invite you to go to some online price-comparison service that offers health insurance quotes. If you do go to such a site(they often have ads on Yahoo and other mass portals), you'll see that many of the larger insurance companies offer multiple insurance products, that range from over 500 bucks a month to less than 100/month.

If I'm making 10 or even 11 an hour, even if single and without dependents like me, the bells-and-whistles policies are essentially out of reach, and all I might hope to afford is a sub-100/month policy.

They usually have a 5,000/yr dollar deductible. I saw one company that also offered a max deductible of 7500/yr. Generally these policies only pay once you've met the deductible, period. No payment for a routine dr's visit, or even to go to the emergency room, and no prescription drug benefit.(I've also seen slightly more "expensive" plans that do offer prescription drug coverage, usually paying 50% of the cash cost, usually with a 500 or 1,000/yr limit.

So, if it plays out as I've suggested
[I wrote this in July-JV]

...and don't qualify for a subsidy, maybe I'll have to shell out 600,700,800 or more bucks a year for phoney-baloney coverage, even though I'm poor, just so the government doesn't fine me and actually pays me my tax refund.(Money I could be otherwise spending, on say, actual healthcare, like when I need to fill a prescription.)

My impression is that you are sufficiently detail-oriented that you'll get it, N E: if you create a law mandating individuals buy insurance,the poor will always be vulnerable to funding adjustments and the possibility that some dickhead pol will come along next year and strip the minimum coverage requirements for plans that are eligible for government subsidies-- only they'll call it

"allowing the private sector to innovate",

and people who work and make 9 or 10 bucks an hour will suddenly find that though they qualified for a subsidy last year they don't now, and the plan they could afford last year which had a 750 dollar deductible suddenly has a five thousand dollar deductible. Or more.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at November 3, 2009 06:56 PM

Jonathan Versen

I can certainly foresee that the poor will be screwed down the road by sneaky and nasty changes later to whatever is passed, but that happens routinely already. We can't forego legislative efforts at improvement just because they'll probably be subverted later. I take it you believe this structure invites that prospect so strongly that it is highly likely, and maybe you're right. All I can say is that the battle carries on.

I can understand your anger, because everything is set up to perpetuate a rotten system that does a disservice to most people. I agree with that. But if you're going to ditch the Dems, particularly their most progressive and hard-fighting elements like Grayson, you better find some energy to really get some momentum behind what you're going to support instead, and whoever they are better have some real strength, because the way politics works, when a void opens, some force will move into it to fill it. And Glen Beck and company are working hard to become that force. It seems to me that people like Grayson at least have the right spirit to oppose them.

So I tend to think it will be easier and less risky to improve the Dems than to replace them, and if Obama and whoever is redeemable in the Senate can get a health care bill through that takes some positive steps, maybe the legislation can actually be improved instead of worsened over time if people keep at it.

Posted by: N E at November 3, 2009 10:15 PM


In a mildly strange coincidence Arthur Silber also uses the word 'vomit' in connection to the democratic shenanigans viz a viz the phoney baloney healthcare reform in his current post, which I hadn't read when I wrote the above comments.

More importantly, he also discusses why the phoney reform will in fact be worse than doing nothing, extensively quoting David Swanson of Counterpunch who says the same thing--
at any rate, they explain it, undoubtedly better than I do.

Like I said, maybe I've done a bad job of explaining why the current bill is worse than nothing; here's one last try:

let me draw a parallel to the entrenched quality of corporate farm supports: once you have codified a federal giveaway of subsidies for another politically powerful sector of corporate America, there's no fucking way you'll wrest that money from them and hand it over to anything remotely resembling single-payer, and you will have created an expensive white elephant/clusterfuck programn that most people will identify with liberal politics, substantially increasing popular resistance to any time of sane reform. Also, as I said before, since many aspects of the current program are designed to not kick in until 2011 or 2013, many democrats will stupidly insist that we "wait and see" how the program works before we try to fix it.

The only way to fix the democratic party or replace it with a suitable alternative is to behave like the one juror who wont go along with the other eleven, no matter what, and be willing to sacrifice at least one election cycle, possibly even two. The other eleven will hate you, or at least resent the hell out of you. So effing what.

The smart money in the mid-seventies was that the Reaganites were crazy--and of course, they were-- but ultimately they carried the day.

Be a liberal, and don't worry about whether the democratic party survives. Worry about the principles and the ideas.

Worry about restoring the New Deal.

Worry about dismantling the military state.

And if you are a liberal, for God's sake, don't call yourself a "progressive." It's not a bad word per se, but it has come to mean acknowledging the people who attacked liberalism were right all along, so please don't beat me up if I promise to praise Reagan and limited government, etc. Our primitive brains read it as a concession, as weakness, and capitulation. And everybody uses their primitive brain, not just "them."

And now it's time for my beauty rest.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at November 4, 2009 05:26 AM

Jonathan Versen:

I very much like Arthur Silber's morality, but I don't really think he has much political sense about whether legislation or any other human action will improve or worsen a situation. He wouldn't compromise his principles if the near-certain result were going to be the destruction of the universe, and I think that sort of attitude in politics leads to madness. I'll have to take a look at what Dave Swanson has to say.

I didn't say you shouldn't abandon the Democratic party. That's a question everyone faces based on their beliefs. But I think the structure of our electoral system will make creating a viable third party impossible because of Duverger's "Law".'s_law

So until a third party is strong enough to supplant the Dems, they are likely to be the only real alternative to the GOP. My view is that it would be easier to swing the Dems left than to replace them. And my caution is that you need to be prepared to deal with the consequences of the Dems failing before a strong alternative emerges, because a stronger and really nasty Beckian/Limbovine party might well rise from the dreck before better alternatives appear. These are not easy issues, or reducible to objective facts, so I wouldn't get your hopes up about making everything clear to me or anyone else. All ways out of a mess are messy.

Posted by: N E at November 4, 2009 10:58 AM

N E, the Becks already got a horse in this race and that's the Republicans.

Maybe that's because certain Republican voting blocks do things like this:

Needless to say, Giuliani sure didn't get the nomination and that's not because they necessarily supported pro-life McCain.

Posted by: Nikolay Levin at November 5, 2009 12:29 AM

Is it a coincidence that the perpetual military state immediately followed the New Deal? The expansion of Federal power/taxation enables the massive war industry. The latter can't exist without the former, and the former will lead to the latter, sooner or later.

Posted by: Marcus at November 5, 2009 01:43 AM

Given the fact that almost everything that Arthur Silber writes is imbued with a passionate commitment to mitigating the very real harm done to actual human beings by systems of overwhelming and unaccountable power, the idea that he would somehow countenance "the destruction of the universe" rather than "compromise his priniciples" is ludicrous and, to put it politely, deeply uniformed. I would say rather that Silber's principles, as you put it, are aimed precisely at AVOIDING the destruction of the universe -- including the universe that exists inside the consciousness of every individual now being slaughtered by our bipartisan militarist empire.

But hey, good luck with that whole "swinging the Dems left" thing. That looks like a winner to me.

Posted by: Chris Floyd at November 5, 2009 05:46 AM

Marcus wrote:

"Is it a coincidence that the perpetual military state immediately followed the New Deal? The expansion of Federal power/taxation enables the massive war industry. The latter can't exist without the former, and the former will lead to the latter, sooner or later."

Now that's a very shrewd and informed observation. The historian Alan Brinkley has quoted Thurman Arnold, FDR's attorney general during the war, as writing in late 1943:

"I begin to feel a new spirit rising in the country. I believe men like Henry Kaiser (the shipbuilder), whom I got to know very well in my efforts to prosecute the steel companies for preventing him fromgetting into production on the Pacific coast, are going to get strong enough through this war that they cannot be stopped. If they do, liberalism in this country is going to change."

Brinkley, The End of Reform at 174. Thurman Arnold had his eyes wide open. (For those interested, Arnold's basic theory of fascism was that it evolved hand in hand with monopoly power.)

Posted by: N E at November 5, 2009 07:12 AM

Chris Floyd:

You don't need to defend Arthur Silber to me. I have been reading his very fine essays for years, and I think he is a great moral thinker. I even like his essays on Alice Miller, whose various works I read with great interest many years ago. Some of Silber's essays are of the very highest quality, even if they are more intense and less witty than Vidal's.

My point, which I stand by despite the obvious hyperbole of the sentence you paraphrased, is that I don't find Silber's views very useful to judge politics, because his views don't really have much to do with what can and can't be done politically at any given time. That just isn't what he does. But I think highly of him; I'd be thrilled to write anything as good as many of his essays.

Spare me the "deeply uninformed" insult. I'm more informed than you might think, and heaven forbid, maybe even more informed than you are about some very important subjects that you write about. For example, I would never plug someone who peddles Langley's favorite lies as consistently as Gus Russo has, as you have plugged Russo. It's nothing personal, but when a professed enemy of the National Security State like you plugs books by someone like Russo, that makes me mistrust you. And your resort to lowball argumentative tactics such as insults doesn't make me trust you more.

Blogging doesn't make a person any more informed than journalism does. Learning makes a person informed. Blogging just gives a person the ability to have an effect on the opinions of others, which makes it subject to the same kinds of abuse that journalism has long and consistently suffered, especially after the CIA started with Wisner's Mighty Wurlitzer. That Mighty Wurlitzer is still going strong half a century later, and Gus Russo certainly knows the tune. If you're going to write about the National Security State, you need to be able to identify that tune.

For Arthur Silber, I have great respect. I feel bad even mentioning his name in the same comment as Gus Russo, because he doesn't deserve that. But even Arthur Silber doesn't have the keys to the kingdom. There's more to the story than he addresses, and if I may say so, you don't actually seem too eager for people to try to understand it.

Posted by: N E at November 5, 2009 09:36 AM

I said merely that if you claimed Silber would let the universe go hang for his principles, then you were deeply uninformed -- about Silber's work. That's all. I'm sorry you took that as some kind of "lowball" personal insult of you and your mind and general state of informedness. I'm quite sure you that are far more informed than I am on any number of issues, and that you are quite right to mistrust me and my low level of learning because I have talked about one book by Russo (the only one of his I've read) about the Chicago mob a few times. In any case, as you say you are thoroughly acquainted with Silber's work, I withdraw my accusation -- the only accusation I made -- that you are deeply uninformed about it. I still question whether you understand its full implications, even for what is politically "viable". But lest you take another disagreement with a public statement about political ideas for some kind of personal insult -- and respond with more, well, rather personal jabs and insinuations about my hidden, malign motives -- I'll stop here.

Posted by: Chris Floyd at November 5, 2009 05:58 PM

Chris Floyd:

When I absolutely love a book by somebody so much that I tell everybody to read it, I usually do a little investigation about that author and the book, and I often seek out other books by that author.

I'm sure I don't understand Arthur Silber properly in every regard. I'm not pretending that I did a Phd dissertation on him, and he isn't an easy read, so you could understand him better than I do. I agree that he is in any event a very fine essayist, and I encourage everyone to read him.

I can't stop you from taking it as a personal jab and insinuation that I mistrust you as an expert on the National Security State because you have plugged a book written by an author who has published, albeit in other books that you say you haven't read, a bunch of crap that Langley adores. But there is nothing personal about it, and I can't think of a better reason to verify what you say before believing it. That's all I mean by mistrust.

Posted by: N E at November 5, 2009 07:28 PM

I realize how refreshing Grayson's progressive-sounding words really are, how desperate we are to hear this stuff, but they are words in the same sense that Obama's words are words. Grayson has pulled out all the stops, dazzlingly so, to put across a supremely not-good-enough healthcare bill... pfeh... mandatory insurance bill. I know the cognitive dissonance is almost more than even the most brilliant among us can bear, but, please, gorgeous as it sounds, it's in full-throated support of deplorable legislation. It's wrong. It's ugly. He's just the sweetest sheepdog working this herd.

Thank you.

Posted by: 99 at November 7, 2009 02:47 AM