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June 18, 2010

Five Dollar Friday

Explanation of Five Dollar Friday here. Follow who else is giving on twitter.

Today I'm sending a month's worth of $5 ($20 total) to Firedoglake, which is holding a fundraiser right now. It would be worth $20 just for the below video featuring Alan "Distillation of Human Ugliness" Simpson. But Jane Hamsher & co. are some of the very, very few people within the buggosphere who think seriously about how to create sustainable pressure on our gruesome political system. Plus Hamsher is a genuine weirdo, which I always appreciate.

Here's a post Hamsher wrote for their fundraiser called "The Freedom to Say What You Mean, and Fight for What You Believe." I hope this makes you want to donate too: we accept a corporate-sponsored model functioning within the party that ultimately bows to the party’s corporatist goals, or are we willing to fund an independent movement, capable of freely advocating for progressive values from the outside?

FDL has chosen the latter path, and although the rewards are much greater, it’s also much harder. People often don’t realize that the freedom that our writers have to speak their minds, buck the party line and explore the topics that are “third rail” in other places is a direct result of a conscious choice we made several years ago to finance and scale FDL to operate on funding streams that could not be cut off by powerful interests. We’ve worked hard to find and develop the best talent on the internet, pay them for their work and give them the freedom to do so without worrying about whether they’ll get a check or not that month. An enormous part of my job has become making sure that the money is there to give them that freedom, in addition to paying for the platform and the technical support to get their message out.

I’m asking for your help today.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at June 18, 2010 02:16 PM

Damn, he hasn't changed a bit.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 18, 2010 05:33 PM

I could not watch it. Such arrogance in such a stupid brain!

Posted by: Susan at June 18, 2010 07:57 PM

Brings a whole new meaning to the term "servant of the people."

Posted by: steve the artguy at June 18, 2010 09:03 PM

demize from the post below: PLEASE listen to Al. He explains it much better than I ever will in some comment sectiion somewhere.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 18, 2010 09:17 PM

Alan Simpson - That's Homer's deranged cranky uncle right?

Posted by: Richard S at June 19, 2010 04:55 PM

Al's just telling YOU how it is, how its going to be. He's saying that he has 18 ways to cut YOU. My guess is he'll use them all. Expect that cut. The ONLY way to stop him IS TO NEGOCIATE WITH CONGRESS. That's is where the final say-so is. (Nan@1-202-225-0100)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 19, 2010 05:37 PM

Jane Hamster has her good points, but I wouldn't give a penny to a site that sponsors this putz.

Posted by: John Caruso at June 19, 2010 08:06 PM

Damn, John! That was a remarkably stupid post, and the comments met the standard it set. I liked the guys who said "the folks at Kos, Firedoglake, etc., etc., have literally revolutionized change from within...", which of course is more obvious than ever two years later, and "You’ll never force your party to take you seriously by abandoning it." Of course I was not a Democrat to begin with.

Posted by: Duncan at June 19, 2010 09:12 PM

That was a remarkably stupid post...

Hey, you're going to hurt Digby's feelings with talk like that.

"You’ll never force your party to take you seriously by abandoning it."

Yeah, they really should try listening to this guy.

Posted by: John Caruso at June 19, 2010 10:38 PM

I think Richard S is funny, but how about'D'oh'.

I was just out with one of my amigos, who has spent much time lobbying the Obama administration in the past year and has been a big fan of Obama as well, and frankly still is of him personally in some ways, but he gives him very low marks right now, mostly because of the staff, and in particular because of the trust in Rahm Emmanuel, who doesn't want to fight EVER. Rahm unfortunately has carried over the Clinton way, and he has significant power, and it is ruining the administration.

My pal says his organization (which I will not name) is very conflicted, because they want to support Obama but they have to put their foot down sometime, so it's hard for them. He's dealing with domestic politics, not Predators and the like, but the problem seems to be the same: a willingnesss to compromise that borders on eagerness, presumably to placate monied interests. It's poor leadership. So right now I'd have to say Obama is doing a bad job.

It burns me to say that, because it will undoubtedly turn out to be harmful and lead to WORSE, but reading Du Bois has convinced me that departures from truth are unwise. By the way, I tracked down that in 1919 Du Bois still hadn't abandoned all faith in Woodrow Wilson, but he was nonetheless disappoitned in the caliber of his scholarship, which amused me, because Wilson was quite the scholar by politician standards, but then Du Bois was smarter and more honest and less compromised and a REAL scholar, like Lewis Hanke.

And Du Bois thought even less of Taft and Roosevelt and the rest. Anyway, I need to sleep.

Posted by: N E at June 19, 2010 11:57 PM

N E: ... in particular because of the trust in Rahm Emmanuel, who doesn't want to fight EVER.

That's nonsense. Emmanuel likes to fight -- he just prefers to fight liberals and the left, good Democrat that he is. (To say nothing of fighting Palestinians -- remember, he's a former IDF thug.) It's Obama who doesn't like to fight.

... but reading Du Bois has convinced me that departures from truth are unwise. I'll be interested to see how this realization informs your future comments. Is a sea change in the offing?

Posted by: Duncan at June 20, 2010 11:21 AM

Ugh...I have no comment about firelakedog or whatever, it may be great or not, but bleaahhhh, those tbogg and digby posts are the worst shit of the worst kind. just awful. good god, I thought we (at least ATR type people) were past "politics". can't we just be real humans who work for truth in whatever form? I could not care less about "the left" or "the right." Mostly, I just want less people to die horrible deaths eachday from terrible bullshit reasons. good grief, thanks for highlighting blogs to stay away from John C.

Posted by: Terry at June 20, 2010 11:53 AM


For the most part, I agree with that. I actually went to college with one of Rahm's brothers, Ari, who really had a flare for antagonizing people though I never got into it with him. Rahm seems to think of himself as a tough guy and fighter and is just basically conservative except on social issues like the Right to Curse. Anecdotally, his brother Ari once said something to some arab students at the International Center at our college to cause about 50 arabs to show up at our dorm to confront him, which caused the whole dorm to back him up (it only seemed fair) and make them leave. That's as close as I've ever come to involvement in a Middle East conflict. I don't know and could only guess what Ari said, but it sure got a response. He wasn't a shy or underconfident or sensitive kid.

There may not be any sea change you notice, but I'll disclose any information that comes to me that affects my views. I seriously doubt Obama is going to be able to improve without changing his staff. Right now by taking the Republican concerns about deficits so seriously he is headed for trouble by Big trouble.

Posted by: N E at June 20, 2010 01:36 PM

NE: Too bad YOU guys backed him up, maybe they would have cured him of his stupid. It would have at least taught him to back his own shit. Think about it, I'm betting Rahm would not have backed him up.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 20, 2010 02:46 PM

Mike Meyer

Oh I think Rahm probably would have backed him up. I doubt he's a physical coward.

You may be right that should have made Ari talk his way out it since he probably talked his way into it. The thing is--and this is so true of the rest of life--we didn't know what the hell was actually going on. For all we knew (and I guess know) he might not have been the one to blame. So it didn't seem right to let a mob have him. But especially with the benefit of hindsight, he certainly seems capable of saying something inflammatory or hostile.

Posted by: N E at June 20, 2010 02:55 PM

People with smart mouths who disrespect others don't deserve to be beat up, but they do deserve censure. But whether or not the Emmanuels are obnoxious is irrelevant; Obama is the one who wanted party insiders and old guard hacks like Biden and Emmanuel around him, so he's the one driving his administration and the country into a ditch.

As far as I can see BHO never cared about liberalism one whit, and actually means what he's saying when he goes around praising Reagan every chance he gets.

If anything I'd argue that if you look past Obama's toothy grin and GWB's faux folksiness, they're a lot closer ideologically than either is to the politics of Bush senior. Remember, Bush raised taxes because he thought it was the responsible thing to do in 1990, and put the kibosh on marching up to Baghdad after Kuwait was taken, while both GWB n' BHO want to expand their wars and the security state. But people have a habit of hearing what they want to hear.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at June 21, 2010 05:37 AM

TBogg is currently on a month-long hiatus because he's tired of blogging, and has been regularly complaining about the grind and hassle of it for a couple years now, so I'd say be patient, John -- he'll probably retire altogether before too long.

Posted by: . at June 21, 2010 08:51 AM

Jonathan Versen

People certainly do have a habit of hearing what they want to hear, and I suppose that's true of not just me (and you) but Presidents too, and it's Obama's administration and he chose his staff, so I guess you're right that he's the one driving his administration "into a ditch."

As for what BHO actually cares about, hell if I know. He did choose his staff, and he could fire them at any time. He should clean house. But I don't really think what he cares about has much to do with it. Put someone who cares about puppies and flowers in the White House and you'll get much the same thing.

I try not to get testosterone poisoning, but I didn't mean to suggest that no one should hurt Alan Simpson's feelings. He'll be ok even if he does get a lot of crap from his pals on the Commission and neighbors like Dick Cheney. Simpson certainly doesn't mind tough talk. (I don't either.) But application of the word "smart mouth" to him makes me chuckle. He's a cranky old coot who made himself look stupid AND undermined his own position. That's a gift. The real Dark Lords make themselves look good and YOU look stupid, all the while doing evil. (Alas, some of them are lawyers.) May you have the good fortune of never getting on the wrong end of an encounter with one of them, because it's not enjoyable.

You misunderstand the continuity between Bush I and Bush II, and the misunderstanding is important. There is right now unfortunately far too much continuity between Obama and Clinton too, provided partly through Emanuel and partly through Summers but in the end likely caused mostly by Wall Street money beacuse our system is money-driven. Remarkably, thanks to Citizens United, it's getting worse, which wasn't the change we needed.

But there is far more continuity between Bush I and Bush II than you see, and you're not alone. One thing that is even more common that people hearing what they want to hear is people not actually understanding. And "we the people" are not especially to blame, because the efforts to mislead and misinform us are so large. It takes some aggressive effort to understand some of this, because the media does not pay people for that.

To get a better feel for GHWB, read Secrets in the Family by Russ Baker. Or you can read a number of different books about the end of the Cold War and how Poppy Bush felt, and acted, in connection with that. (He wasn't alone; everyone but Reagan himself was alarmed by Gorbachev and the possible end of the Cold War. Reagan was astonishly naive, pretty much an idiot.) Don't believe everything you hear about Poppy Bush's vaunted pragmatism. He's plenty ideological, and he was CIA his whole damn career, long before he became Director in 76. Reverend Moon and all those Asian anti-communist crazies have long been cozy with him, as have plenty of other American wingnuts. If you think Poppy Bush raised taxes and didn't take Baghdad because he was "responsible," you haven't considered that carefully enough. His decisions weren't driven by statesmanship, and what you are confusing with pragmatism and responsibility was actually just closer to longer-range planning. Never forget that Poppy Bush was close to the heart of all that S&L thievery. He's a looter through and through.

In most ways, Poppy was already into the third term of his running of the Executive Branch by 1990, just as Cheney had basically run most of the Executive Branch under Shrub, and all that looting and pillaging of the country was starting to cause widespread dissatisfaction. Plus, the end of the Cold War required some course corrections. Poppy Bush was an apparatchik, and he didn't make decisions by himself or in isolation. He tried like hell to get the Dems to raise taxes, but they wouldn't, which created political difficulties that split the GOP, which until then had some folks who thought more realistically about economics and international relations. The response to the split in the GOP and its turn right was creation and use of the Perot movement to force both the Dems and the GOP to the right. It worked like a charm. Perhaps it was an application of the Overton Window that DavidByron once so kindly explained to me.

As for why we didn't take Baghdad in 1990, that also was likely widely though not unanimously supported within the Pentagon and CIA and the rest of the National Security State. Bear in mind that the USSR had not yet actually dissolved at that time, and that the coalition of arab states was very opposed to us going further. They weren't ready for that, or under our thumb enough. Plus, there was hope that Saddam would be toppled. He wasn't, of course, and the craziest of the jingoes in the MICFiC [:)] seem to have started their campaign to finish the job ourselves pretty quickly. Certainly that seems to have been what was up with the bogus assassination attempt on Poppy Bush, and maybe that's what was going on with the first WTC attack and OK City too. [Books were subsequently written blaming each of those events on Iraq, and one notable person who has praised some of those books is James Woolsey, who you may recall was Clinton's first head of the CIA.]

So don't think the rift between Bush I and Bush II is as large as the media has sometimes suggested or that it was driven predominantly by principle. Cheney and his allies started to subvert processes to control policy (exercise power) outside of the usual channels, cutting others like the old guard at Langley and Powell and probably parts of the Pentagon out of the loop. If they hadn't done that, they probably could have destroyed the whole world without putting off anyone else in the bureaucracy too much. Wars or even genocide don't get those folks pissed off nearly as much as being cut out of the loop.

Posted by: N E at June 21, 2010 08:58 AM

Oh yeah?

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at June 21, 2010 11:27 AM


Posted by: N E at June 21, 2010 12:39 PM

NE: Deadeye Dick nor ANY of the members of the catfood commission will EVER hurt Alan's feelings. FLINTY is not just his disposition its his way of life.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 21, 2010 02:20 PM


I'm glad you have a sense of humor about your loquacious tendencies. Actually I was referring to the Emmanuels, not Simpson, and to your discussion of them with Mike M. when I said "People with smart mouths who disrespect others..."

At any rate, I am aware of Bush senior's CIA background, and I don't think he was an angel, but the difference between Junior and Senior still strikes me as more significant than the difference between Junior & BHO. Certainly, Bush would've prefered the tax hike on the top bracket to be by a 2/3rds vote he could veto, but ultimately he signed the 31% tax bracket into law without political cover.

Likewise, I recognize the dynamic was different in 1990 and '91 when Bush Sr was concerned about holding the coalition together, but he's the one, along with Baker, who assembled the coalition in the first place. And frankly the Soviet Union was a spent force at that point anyway, and did not represent much of a threat. If anything, a case could be made that the coalition was assembled in part to bolster the tottering Soviet Union, because with so many countries supporting the US's efforts, Gorbachev could save face in not objecting. If Junior had followed Dad's model, he would have announced the intent to pull out of Iraq in 6months to a year right after Saddam was captured in December of 2003, and then he wouldn't have lost to Howard Dean. Oh, wait-

I guess I could have written all that this morning, but the urge towards pith was too great to resist.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at June 21, 2010 04:44 PM

jonathan versen

I still disagree with a bunch of that, especially the idea that BHO and Poppy are more alike than Shrub and Poppy. I think it would be more arguable to say that BHO and Poppy are more alike than any other pairing, but I still wouldn't agree. But I'll not go into it.

I think you're neglecting some important considerations on the first gulf war too. Sure the USSR was a spent force as a viable ongoing entity and threat, but there still was a coup in 1991 because some in the Soviet military didn't like where things were headed (as well they shouldn't have, cuz just look what happened from their point of view. Now we and NATO are crawling all over the Caspian.) Also remember that although Poppy proclaimed during the first gulf war that we were finally over the vietnam syndrome, that development was still new then. There was a risk of reinvigorating that awful syndrome by a protracted occupation of Iraq, which the GOP would have owned. The Pentagon disliked the Vietnam syndrome more than anything, and getting over it was among the several big reasons for that war, so they certainly didn't want to undo the benefit by going too far too fast. They're patient. Don't think nothing is going on just because we have interludes.

By the way, also don't believe for a second that either Poppy Bush or Powell or others didn't want that war just because they acted reluctant on TV at first. That war was planned from the get-go, and I'm sure all the hesitation and reluctance was scripted so that wouldn't show. I don't know if you know it, but Gorbachev brokered a deal to avoid the war that would have got Saddam all the way out before we started bombing the hell out of Iraq, but we refused to consider an unconditional withdrawl then. Too late. How's that for a reason for war? So don't get too carried away with Poppy's coalition-building prowess and political responsibility.

Posted by: N E at June 21, 2010 07:01 PM

n e,

I still disagree with a bunch of that, especially the idea that BHO and Poppy are more alike than Shrub and Poppy.

You are picking nits and misinterpreting what I said. Not BHO n Poppy alike. BHO n Shrub alike, Jr n' Sr, not so much. Your argument, at this point, seems to be a lot of, "look, Bush Senior did a lot of the things he did because of various 1989-1992ish contingencies, but he really wanted to behave the way Bush Junior did years later."

(And yes, I know about the PNAC, etc. I also suspect a lot of Bush Senior's tough-sounding post-presidential rhetoric was on behalf of his son's aspirations.)

However, since I have no comparable expertise in interpreting Bush Senior's innermost thoughts and I think at this point you and I are probably the only persons still interested in this discussion, I give up.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at June 21, 2010 08:46 PM

Are you sure we're still interested?

Posted by: N E at June 21, 2010 11:36 PM

Ha! No, I just can't sleep.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at June 22, 2010 04:08 AM

I wouldn't give one thin dime to anything Jane Hamsher promotes.

Posted by: Lisa K. at June 24, 2010 05:49 PM

Lisa K: Betcha give one hell of a lot more than a dime to something Alan Simpson promotes. More than YOU"LL EVER like.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 24, 2010 06:49 PM