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Monday, May 31, 2010

Exchange With "Radical Cool Dude"

Adapted from the "Moot" to a post in which I talked about Hillary Clinton's positioning via Secretary of State for a 2016 Presidential run, a frequent commenter here engaged with me in the following exchange, which is pretty representative of most of the exchanges we've had since Obama's election but also representative more broadly of a particular sort of exchange I've often found myself in with disgruntled folks of the left with whom I generally identify and without whose ferocity of shared conviction I would not have survived intact the evil madness of the Bush years just behind us.

"RadicalCoolDude" quoted the following material from a post I wrote a couple of years ago:
In a reasonably successful and hence spectacularly popular eight year Obama Administration, SOS [Secretary of State] is a higher profile and more Presidential position than Clinton is likely to wangle otherwise as Junior Senator from NY, a position from which to launch her own bid for 2016 as at once a continuation of a successful and popular Administration with which she is strongly associated while at once recapturing the energy of an historic Presidential election (no doubt calling to mind the joy of our moment).


To this "RadicalCoolDude" appended this comment:
Reasonably successful and hence spectacularly popular? Riiight...


I responded (bear in mind that this is one of many exchanges of a similar character with which I have participated with "RadicalCoolDude" over the years):

Your sarcasm provides little sense of the criteria on the basis of which you yourself would define "success" in terms of actual legislative possibilities, nor any sense of the relation of your own notion of "popularity" to actual election results or Party ID numbers. As usual.

My own politics hover somewhere between what most informed people would describe as social democracy and democratic socialism, and hence I am well to Obama's left, and so I'm sure you will believe me when I agree with you about how easy it is to sigh histrionically about all the manifold failures of actual governance to pass muster measured against my ideals.

If you just want to vent about your frustration at the lack of single payer, the failure to enshrine the principle that too big to fail is too big to exist, the ongoing refusal to care about unemployment that hurts almost everyone more than about deficits that hurt mostly a few rich assholes, the ongoing insanity in Afghanistan, the heartbreaking amplification of Bush epoch secret detentions and terror tactics, the flogging of clean coal bullshit and nuclear madness and offshore drilling crap, the genuflections to right wing "social security crisis" and "charter school" BS, the absurd slowness of the repeal of DADT, the retreating horizon for ENDA, the vanishing hope for repeal of DOMA, the breadcrumbs offered to organized labor, and on and on and on, well, go ahead, vent. You're not saying anything I don't know already, and don't have to vent about myself.

And yet I stand cheerfully behind every word quoted in the passage to which you have appended your content-free eye-roll.

If you can't walk and chew gum at the same time, if you can't hold on to animating ideals while at once assessing pragmatic possibilities realistically, if you can't grasp the force of painfully inadequate piecemeal reform in history, if you can't see just how dangerous the Republican Right is in this historical moment and how every diversion of energy from actually-possible Democratic victories to Republican victories is a catastrophe, well, I can only say that you are simply of no use to me at all, you're just an enervating demoralizing bore, however bright or well-meaning you undoubtedly are in the abstract.

Given your rather all-embracing sarcastic repudiation of the passage quoted above, inquiring minds want to know:

Is it your view that a McCain Presidency would have been more successful by your lights?

Is it your view that a candidate whose politics were more like Bernie Sanders', say, could have won the Presidency or accomplished more successes as you adjudge them in the actually-existing setting and constraints of the current environment?

Do you think that Obama's failure to meet your own standards of success will also translate to losses of Congressional majorities for Democrats in the mid-terms or to a one-term presidency for Obama?

Do you disagree that even people to the left of the Democratic Party or Obama's politics can assess politics in a way that is sensitive to the differences between pragmatic possibilities in the service of reform and regulative ideals?

Do you actually disagree with the argument in the post to which you are presumably "responding" that Clinton has positioned herself for a solid 2016 Presidential run via SOS?

Do you actually disagree that what are widely deemed legislative accomplishments -- even if they fail to pass muster by your more exacting standards -- would likely benefit a Clinton presidential run in 2016? Do you even think questions like these are worth answering, that they connect in any way with something you think of as "politics"?

To this, "RadicalCoolDude" replied:
My own politics and my critique of the Obama administration is nearly identical to that of Chris Hedges who, as you probably know, has little patience for liberals bending over backwards to defend the undefendable.

But my sarcasm was more directed to your fancily [fanciful?] notion that the Obama administration would be "spectacularly popular" in light of the fact the right is galvanized while the left is disillusioned.

The sad thing is that sober left-wingers who weren't lost in the "joy of moment" predicted that this is exactly what would happen when Obama actually started governing. So the question is: Why didn't you?

To this I went on to reply:
the right is galvanized while the left is disillusioned

I've never bought this right-wing friendly frame. It failed its first empirical test on primary day, by the way.

One of many concrete questions I asked to shift you from sanctimonious sniping from the mountaintop was whether you thought Obama's failures would translate to losses of majorities for Dems or to a one-term Obama presidency. As usual, you fail to answer, hiding behind Hedges (last time it was Klein) rather own up to concrete positions.

For what it's worth, I've read and own all Hedge's books and I teach Klein every term, I like much though not all of what they've written very much and consider them both indispensable engaged intellectuals. But your eagerness to play a dummy generally ventriloquizing their positions tells me nothing about what you really believe about anything.

I get it. You're a disgruntled lefty who thinks Obama's policies too corporatist and too militarist to pass muster as genuinely democratizing. I agree with that sentiment myself, of course.

But that's not where our disagreements are happening. Retreating to that level of easy abstraction, hiding behind accomplished writers without saying what you think, flinging sarcastic stink bombs at others' efforts without justifying them isn't illuminating or helpful. You may think you're an engaged intellectual, but that demands actual engagement. Argue for positions you defend, be prepared for the objections of those who agree about policy limitations but want to know what practical alternatives are more realizable.

Now, I don't deny well-documented reports of an "enthusiasm gap" between the Dem and Repug bases. I do disagree that it will translate into another Gingrichian wave election or some wholesale repudiation of Obama. The punditocrats like that storyline because it's easy, they take right-wing talking points seriously, and they tend to be rich pampered dullards.

The "galvanization of the right" you trumpet is also the bald exposure of the racism that has driven Repug politics for generations. I entirely disagree with your insinuation that Obama's failure to live up to your (or my) higher standards for unambiguous legislative success has anything at all to do with the energy behind this Republican base. I also disagree that it is necessarily bad for Dems, given demographic realities in the US and attitudes among younger people about the go-to racism and panty-sniffing that drives Republican base politics.
The sad thing is that sober left-wingers who weren't lost in the "joy of moment" predicted that this is exactly what would happen when Obama actually started governing. So the question is: Why didn't you?

I did predict that Obama would have to compromise given Congressional numbers and Conservadems caucusing with the Dems. I take these facts into consideration all the time when talking about prospects for actual healthcare or financial or DADT reform making its way through Congress. I hated the appointments of Summers, Salazar, and Gates and expected mischief from the whole "Team of Rivals" fluffery. Who on earth with any sense didn't "predict" such stuff?

I did think Obama had a slight shot at getting the Public Option through had he pushed at just the right time (which is one of the reasons I pushed so hard through that struggle, emphasizing the optics and also the logical case both of which were all on our side and that was the time for such a case), but that outcome was always a sometime thing. His optics on the BP spill right now are terrible, too. But compared to what is practically possible, given limited resources and events nobody controls, there are plenty of things the Admin is doing that I disapprove but understand enough not to indulge BS equivalency theses.

I try to remember the institutional realities that articulate the play of policy choices, compare disappointments not only against my ideals but against other probable outcomes, and I remain forever aware how limited successes and failures take place within the larger context of enabling or disabling movement Republicanism from moment to moment as a defining force of American politics.

I don't agree that your impractical perfectionism, your demoralizing whining, your vapid generalities constitute "sober left-wing" analysis, and I don't agree that the joy I felt the day Obama was elected made me "lost" or "uncritical."

Obama's election was a milestone, and if you felt no joy in it I'm glad not to be you.

Actual democratization is heartbreaking, compromised, piecemeal, reformist struggle against endlessly high odds, institutional inertia, disseminated ignorance and fueled by the measure of joy we take in such accomplishments.

21 comments:

RadicalCoolDude said...

And, as usual, you've created an elaborate and (insulting) strawman that has nothing to do with the problem in your initial statement I was focusing on, which is that it was simply naive of you to argue that the Obama administration would be "spectacularly popular". Period.

I know you always find a way to make it seem like you are always right regardless of what you actually said but why not simply admit that you were overly optimistic?

Putting aside the fact I have never presented myself as an "engaged intellectual" nor do I think of myself as one, I obviously am not going to engage you on all the tangential points you raised since I share your position on all on them.

For the record, are you looking to only get responses from intellectuals in the Moot or can an everyday normal guy voice an opinion here, however underdeveloped it may be?

By the way, the only reason why I mention Hedges or Klein is because when I have in fact expressed my own opinion which you disagree with I often get dismissed as an "impractical perfectionist" or worse. However, when I present you with writings of Klein or Hedges which echo the same opinion, you suddenly take it more seriously even if you disagree with it but you don't dismiss them as "impractical perfectionists" or worse. It just makes me snicker every time... :)

Dale Carrico said...

Despite all the negative judgments I asserted in the foregoing about Administration outcomes, I still regard Obama as the most progressive President since FDR.

Inherent in this assessment, you might consider, may be an indictment of most other Presidencies as much as praise for this one.

And, again, though Obama's accomplishments over this year and a half fail to pass muster as unambiguously democratizing measured against my ideals, and despite the fact that there is plenty I loudly disapprove for reasons I provide in disapproving them, I am still enormously encouraged by the scope of Obama's achievements in the aftermath of the Reagan-to-W epoch and in the face of this insane media-institutional environment... And also I am very excited what these achievements seem to me to enable for ongoing reform (for those with the stomach for real reformist social struggle rather than narcissistic performance art mistaken for politics).

I think your own pre-emptive and weirdly triumphalist declaration of failure is frankly idiotic, and also feeds practical losses and the frustration of the outcomes to which no doubt you fancy yourself actually committed. I sense that it feels marvelous to you, though, so by all means carry on.

I think the chances remain quite good that the Obama Administration will be regarded retrospectively as an historical presidency and a progressive milestone. Can we agree to disagree on that, or must I hear more joyless ritual variations on how this assessment makes me a naive tool and how your contrary prediction makes you the awesomest radical evah?

I must say, I am also beginning to think you are simply incapable of responding concretely to questions and criticisms.

Yes, I do indeed think I am right in my views, which is why I actually offer them up in public places and then try to explain myself when I feel that I may have been misunderstood. Sorry to hear that you find it insulting to be expected to make sense or defend your positions.

I am glad to hear you think of yourself as an everyday normal guy, and believe me when I say that I hope that works out for you, especially the part that seems to imply everyday normal guys don't have to explain what they actually mean in any kind of substantial way. Presumably I am supposed to keep "normal guys" like you coming to my blog by telling you how bright and good-hearted you are even when I disagree with what you say or disapprove of your insinuations, otherwise I'm being an elite intellectual or something. You'll forgive me if I leave that thankless task to your Mommy or whatever romantic partner is auditioning for the rewarding role of being your Mommy-surrogate of the moment. (Oh dear, I've insulted you again, haven't I?)

As it happens, I have read enough Klein and Hedges to have a context against which to judge assertions that otherwise might seem dismissable as impractical perfectionism -- but you on the other hand can never be coaxed into anything like comparable substance.

Needless to say, I'm glad to hear that if nothing else I can provide you occasions for mirth, even when their enabling condition seems to be your inability to grasp what is being said. Do feel free not to read or comment on what I write whenever you like.

Thanatz said...

Are "institutional realities" capable of absolving the administration's positions on civil liberties and sky robot murder and the continuance of what is now the longest conflict in American history?

What constituency or ideology is it exactly that demands such positions?

What you unintentionally continue to point out - though this seems to be central to your own democratization critique - is that what constitutes a liberal or progressive position is open to contestation among citizen stake holders and that the particular components of any liberal constellation will be organized around different focal points of relevance.

These can be health care, choice, LGBT rights, union rights or improved government regulation - or they can also be respect for habeas corpus, the Geneva Conventions, equal protection under the law, the right to privacy and respect for international human rights.

On these latter issues, what can be said for the Obama administration? For instance is the proposed legalization of "indefinite detention" - a de facto policy under the Bush administration - part of the "heartbreaking, compromised, piecemeal, reformist struggle"?

For someone who sees these arenas as defining the focal point of their liberal commitment, it is not "impractical perfectionism" or "demoralizing whining" to cite administration failures and betrayals there - and the idea of indefinite detention can properly be called by no other name - as a symptom of the death of a certain kind of liberal ideology.

Which leads me, finally, to point out that your outright rejection of supposed Bush-Obama "equivalency theses" is itself an equivalency thesis in that it subjectivizes all critiques of manifold and multifarious Administration policies to a critique of the individual - the president - "making" the policies, a critique that of course is simplistic and conceals more than it reveals but often isn't the argument being put forward by you interlocutor. Particularly here.

RadicalCoolDude said...

Carrico: I think your own pre-emptive and weirdly triumphalist declaration of failure is frankly idiotic.

You see this is the kind of strawman bullshit I can't stand from you! I never said that the Obama administration was a failure nor would I take joy if it turned out be a failed presidency. On the contrary, it would be a disaster that would utterly depress me. I am simply arguing that, regardless of its acheivements or how historians look back on it, it is simply absurd to argue that the Obama administration is "spectacularly popular" or, I dare predict, will ever be.

Carrico: As it happens, I have read enough Klein and Hedges to have a context against which to judge assertions that otherwise might seem dismissable as impractical perfectionism -- but you on the other hand can never be coaxed into anything like comparable substance.

Oh really, Dale? I can't blame you for forgetting since I was posting anonymously back then until one of your life partner's sarcastic comments inspired me to start going by the pseudonym "RadicalCoolDude" when I post comments in the Moot but a year ago you praised me for my substantive opinions and questions:

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Adequacy of Socialist Vocabularies and Revolutionary Strategies to Our Present Distress

http://bit.ly/cRrDq9

That being said, the problem is that, although it is true you have read enough Klein and Hedges to have a context against which to judge assertions that otherwise might seem dismissable as impractical perfectionism, you discourage many from providing with the more substantive opinions when you coax them with good questions while simulteanously dismissing them as people who need to grow up or see a shrink simply because they have a more radical position than your moderate one.

In other words, you often bite the hand that tries to feed you the feedback you claim to want.

Carrico: (Oh dear, I've insulted you again, haven't I?)

I have a thicker skin than my whinning makes it seem but I have to ask why does a great mind such as yours always feel the need to lower himself to resorting to needless insults and personal attacks to get a point across? I am not foolish enough to think I can change the bad habits of a middle-aged man but I still have to ask: What's going on, brother?

Dale Carrico said...

Are "institutional realities" capable of absolving the administration's positions on civil liberties and sky robot murder and the continuance of what is now the longest conflict in American history?

Not in my view. So, where do you go from there? I can and do condemn robot drones, but this leaves untouched the earlier claim that the Obama Administration will likely be the most progressive since FDR and will enable more progressive reform than anyone else we could have hoped for. What's your point?

For someone who sees these arenas as defining the focal point of their liberal commitment, it is not "impractical perfectionism" or "demoralizing whining" to cite administration failures and betrayals there.

I cite administration failures all the time. What do you want me to do, tear out my hair and puke every time I hear the name Obama? Honestly, I cannot figure you guys out. When citations of failure and "betrayal" (scare-quoted because some but far from all Obama's disappointing policies are at odds with his published campaign positions) open up Dem-GOP equivalency theses or fuel Obama conspiracy theses or deride those who take comfort in imperfect compromises as naive or in the tank or faux-progressives or what have you, that's when litanies of failure threaten to reduce to "demoralizing whining" in my view. That's my standard, it's not exactly a secret.

Is that what you are doing when you are citing Administration failures, "Thanatz"? If the shoe fits wear it, if not don't treat every surface as a mirror reflecting your face back at you.

As for "impractical perfectionsim" I have pointed out that outcomes are achieved through legislative processes the actual substance of which should be taken into account in honest assessments of legislative successes and failures. You think that is unreasonable? If not, what on earth is all this about?

I am wondering if you are scare quoting "institutional realities" because you don't think practical calculations in the face of actually constituted legislative processes should ever be considered in a righteous deliberation about progressive political struggle.

One can walk and chew gum at the same time or one can't. I can, and I expect the same from others who want to be of any use to me on this blog or in the world of actual organized politics.

Dale Carrico said...

I have a thicker skin than my whining makes it seem

Uh-huh

but I have to ask why does a great mind such as yours always feel the need to lower himself to resorting to needless insults and personal attacks to get a point across?

First of all, fuck you. I don't agree that I am "lowered" by ridiculing self-pitying piss artists who fling this kind of passive aggressive BS my way. When I actually devote time of my life to the effort of responding to your points (such as they are, one needs to be a mining expert to chisel one's way to anything like a nugget of substance) I am offering you a kind of respect you have done little to earn. Now, maybe I don't have a personality you like. I have an acerbic temperament and a caustic sense of humor. I like it. Nobody is begging you to read or comment here. If you want a blow job, hire a goddamn prostitute, and if you want me to hold your hands through your thought process you'll have to pay for the privilege like any other student. Honestly.

you discourage many from providing with the more substantive opinions when you coax them with good questions while simulteanously dismissing them as people who need to grow up or see a shrink simply because they have a more radical position than your moderate one.

I disagree that your position is more radical than mine. Radical is not a synonym for "ill-considered notions and also daydreams that steal upon one while beating off." I'm not moderate, I'm a fucking vegetarian queer hippy socialist, you idiot. What I do think I am is more right than you are about the left wing of the possible, and I say so. That doesn't make you a radical. So sorry. I refuse to compliment you for being stupid, let Mommy do that for you. Sorry if you find such reality checks "discouraging" or "dismissive," but I'm not your Mommy, go find her to kiss away the boo-boos I've inflected by publishing my actual opinions under my name and responding to your bravely pseudonymous potshots. And if it really is true that I have actually managed to discourage others from posting here who would otherwise be boring me with this sort of uncritical self-indulgent commentary, just through writing in a style that reflects my true lovable curmudgeonly temper, well that makes me happier than I can say.

you often bite the hand that tries to feed you the feedback you claim to want

You have never shown the slightest indication of having anything the least bit nourishing or tasty on offer for me to eat, and that is for me to say, not you. The fact that you sincerely seem to think yours is the hand that feeds me is actually riotously funny.

Now, I re-read the link you provided which presumably offers some illumination of our dispute or catches me in some kind of contradiction, but I cannot for the life of me see what the hell you are talking about, and since you leave all the actual details entirely to unstated insinuations exactly as you usually do, I guess that will just have to remain a mystery. Do, please, feel free to actually say what it is you think you see or what you think about it.

I never said that the Obama administration was a failure nor would I take joy if it turned out be a failed presidency. On the contrary, it would be a disaster that would utterly depress me. I am simply arguing that, regardless of its achievements or how historians look back on it, it is simply absurd to argue that the Obama administration is "spectacularly popular" or, I dare predict, will ever be.

So, you don't think the Obama Presidency is a failure yet, despite its failing? Congratulations. So, all this squabbling is over my use of the word "spectacularly"? Okay. Whatever gets you through the night, dude.

I am not foolish enough to think I can change the bad habits of a middle-aged man but I still have to ask: What's going on, brother?

You're yucky.

RadicalCoolDude said...

Carrico: You have never shown the slightest indication of having anything the least bit nourishing or tasty on offer for me to eat, and that is for me to say, not you. The fact that you sincerely seem to think yours is the hand that feeds me is actually riotously funny. Now, I re-read the link you provided which presumably offers some illumination of our dispute or catches me in some kind of contradiction, but I cannot for the life of me see what the hell you are talking about, and since you leave all the actual details entirely to unstated insinuations exactly as you usually do, I guess that will just have to remain a mystery. Do, please, feel free to actually say what it is you think you see or what you think about it.

Are you fucking kidding me? Since you accused me of never having provided you with substantive questions and opinions, I simply gave you that link to a post that proves that I can and I have provided you in the past with opinions and questions which you described as "wonderfully provocative and important".

I never suggested that it would offer some illumination of our current dispute about the Obama administration or catch you in some kind of contradiction.

Am I that hard to understand or is this simply your disengenuous way of NEVER admitting you are wrong?

Carrico: So, you don't think the Obama Presidency is a failure yet, despite its failing? Congratulations. So, all this squabbling is over my use of the word "spectacularly"? Okay. Whatever gets you through the night, dude.

OH MY GOD! You are the one who made a huge deal over a small sarcastic comment I made that you could have easily ignored or you could have simply acknowledged that what you wrote was overly optimistic in order to avoid all this squabbling.

Anyway, good night.

Thanatz said...

"I am wondering if you are scare quoting "institutional realities" because you don't think practical calculations in the face of actually constituted legislative processes should ever be considered in a righteous deliberation about progressive political struggle."

And this, your Rahmness, is why you will officially no longer have to worry about me commenting here again. What I wrote above was simply a roundabout way of saying that some individuals vote based on something that is often incorrectly called "principle" but is more properly simply a recognition of the just. To say that these are concerns that can simply be instrumentally horse-traded for some larger utilitarian democracy quotient is to miss my point entirely. Those who now insist that the existence of a supralegal federal regime with the power to dispose of all aspects of human life and even life itself is something that can be submitted to "practical calculations" have unmasked themselves as the false friends they are. I'd like to say it is shocking that where there were once so many people who claimed to think like I do, who claimed that concessions on this issue were beyond the realm of "righteous deliberation" when Bush was in office - now find themselves washing their hands with the language of instrumentality. I would like to say that, but I cannot.

Again: indefinite detention has nothing whatsoever to do with "actually constituted legislative processes". The word you were looking for was the one I used: legalization. This isn't a built edifice of legal tradition which Obama has no choice but to deal with and with whose edges he must be content to chip away at. This is a newly laid foundation whose Halliburton concrete is still wet - and the Obama administration is building on it. And yes, it would be wrong to use the word betrayal when speaking of O's positions on telecom immunity/information privacy or even continuation of the Afghani occupation. And hell, I'll even be so kind as to say the jury is still out on Iraq withdrawal. But please, show me evidence of campaign Obama floating the idea of detaining individuals without trials for the rest of their natural lives. You won't find it. Which is exactly why I explicitly referred to it when I used such a loaded term as betrayal.

You say I'm guilty of "open[ing] up" Bush-Obama equivalency theses despite my explicit disavowal of such a position above, but you fail to see that by that very same logic you then equally serve as a party guilty of inventing difference where it doesn't exist, i.e. of branding, with your hagiography to Obama's Progressive Saintlihood.

I guess it shouldn't surprise then that your "Most Progressive Evah" line sounds so much like a slogan.

Dale Carrico said...

It is to be hoped, "RadicalCoolDude," that one day the world will finally appreciate the scale of your unjust unsolicited suffering at my hands.

RadicalCoolDude said...

Bravo Thanatz! :)

Dale Carrico said...

And this, your Rahmness, is why you will officially no longer have to worry about me commenting here again.

If only the latter were true. I'm actually not a Rahm fan as it happens, but neither do I indulge in the Rahmsputinist conspiracy theorizing, so I guess that is enough in some quarters to tar me as a Rahm clone.

show me evidence of campaign Obama floating the idea of detaining individuals without trials for the rest of their natural livesa

I agree with you. Indefinite Detention is obviously vile and I am far from approving Obama's extensions of this illegal policy. I don't think Obama's campaign rhetoric well prepared us for this policy. Nothing I have written entails the contrary view and that policy wasn't specifically under discussion here so I can't claim to understand how your thought process is functioning here.

To say that these are concerns that can simply be instrumentally horse-traded for some larger utilitarian democracy quotient is to miss my point entirely.

I don't believe they can. Our moral concerns are our moral concerns, our principles are our principles. When we strive to arrive at outcomes that better accord with those concerns and principles through political processes we should attend to what they are and assess success and failure in ways that take this into account, it seems to me.

You say I'm guilty of "open[ing] up" Bush-Obama equivalency theses

Didn't I actually leave it to you to wear that shoe if it fits? I don't claim to know that it is your belief that a McCain presidency would have been better on the issue of indefinite detentions, or for that matter a Clinton presidency. Do you?

Do you think the environment for activists and judges who would resist indefinite detentions -- or the ongoing expansions of the imperial construal of the Executive Branch -- is worse under Obama than it would have been under McCain or Clinton? I don't, in either case, but I am not sure what your beliefs are in these matters.

Do you consider indefinite detention a litmus test the failure of which makes any other differences between Administration policies and others on offer not make a difference? Do you disagree that one should take pragmatic questions of legal procedures and differences among legislators into consideration when assessing the success or failure of a given policy or is it to be measured only against more abstract principles?

Again, if the shoe fits, wear it. You assert that I am ascribing views to you that you don't hold. Similarly, it seems to me you might want to declare my belief that, say, passing HCR was obviously better than its failure would have been -- even though I am actually an advocate for single payer on ethical and logical grounds -- makes it plausible for you to fancy me indifferent to the injustice of indefinite detentions. I don't get it, honestly, I don't.

When I say Obama is on the way to helming what may well be regarded as an historical and progressive milestone presidency this is far from the claim that his accomplishments are all well described as progressive or that they define the standard on the basis of which we model progressive policy goals.

I guess this will all just sound like double-talk to you, but it seems to me assessments of both the important and the possible have to be alive to such considerations. I don't agree that you are more progressive or more radical or more righteous or have a clearer sense of the stakes in play simply because you don't prioritize these dimensions of the terrain in your analyses.

Dale Carrico said...

Found somebody else to hide behind RCD?

Thanatz said...

Already failing to live up to my own pronouncements, I'll simply say that it is of course impossible to know what exact policies McCain or Clinton or whoever would have implemented given their victory, or what the world would look like then. That said I don't feel like I'm going very far out on any limb in claiming that the present environment is indeed the worse for "activists" and for normal citizens interested in retaining both their own civil liberties and those of individuals at the margins of society.

The 72% rate of habeas hearings won by detainees since the 2008 SCOTUS decision finding they are due that right both suggest to me that sitting judges would have served just as persistent a check against the governmental overreaching of a Republican administration on this matter as they do against Obama today.

The complement and my main point however is that I simply cannot imagine any attempt by a Republican administration to go so far as BO has done with Awlaki or GITMO Illinois or Miranda "modification" without an overwhelming reaction from the left. Instead what we have today, as Greenwald points out all the time, is that a state of exception which was once extralegal and unthinkable has been, with Barack Obama's wand, transmuted into Bipartisan Consensus. And who could rationally disagree with a policy both parties support? Only fringe crazies, that's who!

Ergo, according to a CNN poll taken in March, public opinion on the desire to close GITMO fell 12 points since Obama took office. Do you have an alternative explanation you'd like to venture for this, Dale? I'd really, truly welcome it.

With judicial restraints in place and an angry public whose very ire is reinforced by what popular consensus confirms is an extrajudicial agenda, I indeed can imagine a world where a Republican President would have been less efficacious at going around the Constitution and therefore effectively creating a new status quo than Obama has been.

Finally, I don't consider ID and the general civil liberties environment fostered by Obama to be a litmus test by which all other political considerations are rendered non-considerations, but given the utterly marginal nature of what can be touted as the "successes" of the Obama administration so far, it does seem to dwarf other issues in terms of relevance. The fact that ID is reprehensible "in principle," and is, arguably, more likely to entrench itself in some extended duration under the soi-disant liberal Obama, is more than enough in the current environment to effectively negate for me any good will that could be engendered by the tinkering around the edges which was called HCR.

RadicalCoolDude said...

Carrico: Found somebody else to hide behind RCD?

Not at all. I'm just applauding Thanatz for seeing through your double talk so incisively and deciding not to waste his time commenting on your shrill and long-winded bloggery.

Dale Carrico said...

I don't feel like I'm going very far out on any limb in claiming that the present environment is indeed the worse for "activists" and for normal citizens interested in retaining both their own civil liberties and those of individuals at the margins of society.

And I disagree.

With judicial restraints in place and an angry public whose very ire is reinforced by what popular consensus confirms is an extrajudicial agenda, I indeed can imagine a world where a Republican President would have been less efficacious at going around the Constitution and therefore effectively creating a new status quo than Obama has been.

If you can say that with a straight face just a little over a year after the end of the Bush Administration I don't know what to tell you. I think that is an almost flabbergasting misjudgment.

given the utterly marginal nature of what can be touted as the "successes" of the Obama administration so far

I won't "give" you that. Indeed, I think that is a ridiculous claim.

Dale Carrico said...

I'm just applauding Thanatz for seeing through your double talk

It is a great relief to the world that you have taken on this momentous battle, brave pseudonymous "RadicalCoolDude." Think how much more equitable and democratic the world will be once you slay Dragon Dale at last, he who has the temerity to declare himself progressive and yet doesn't have the good sense to vomit uncontrollably at the mention of Saint Obama's name like all true radicals do.

Thanatz said...

Can you actually give me a list of what you see as administration accomplishments not including HCR since my statement is so ridiculous? You speak often on this blog of the "transformative possibilities" opened up by Obama, but could you please translate that contentless wankery into language that isn't bullshit?

Also, we're currently discussing as a nation whether to hold individuals indefinitely without trial on American soil. Sure glad it was George Bush and John McCain who initiated that and Obama was a completely helpless infant who's tried all he could to stop it. Oh wait.

Please Dale, again, I'll take any alternate explanation you can give me for why the idea of closing GITMO dropped 12 points after Obama came to power.

I'm not trying to outliberal you, or convince you you're wrong wrong wrong. Just give me some content here with the ridicule this time.

RadicalCoolDude said...

Carrico: he who has the temerity to declare himself progressive and yet doesn't have the good sense to vomit uncontrollably at the mention of Saint Obama's name like all true radicals do.

I know you like projecting this fantasy image of a deranged left-wing Obama hater on anyone who disagrees with you but, for the record, I'm an American left-wing radical who supports Obama because there are no realistic alternatives. However, I get annoyed when I read a fellow left-wing radical (whose mind I respect but whose bad habits I despise) insists on not only bending over backwards to defend the undefendable but dismisses any left-wing radical who disagrees with him as an impractical perfectionist or someone who needs to grow up or see a shrink BEFORE this person even has a chance to express what his or her position is!

In other words, stop wasting your time lecturing us on how Obama is the Most Progresive President Ever (despite all the evidence to the contrary) or how we are all "bad leftists" compared to you (you don't know us!) or how we should just shut up and vote for better Democrats (ZzzzZzzzz) and instead provide us with smart critiques of the Obama adminsitration, like those of Robert Kuttner, we all know you can write with great eloquence. That's what we urgently need!

Dale Carrico said...

I know you like projecting this fantasy image of a deranged left-wing Obama hater on anyone who disagrees with you but

Oh, is that what you "know"?

stop wasting your time lecturing us

What you are calling "wasting time" "lecturing you" is literally me blogging about what I want to blog about on my own fucking blog. Nobody is asking you to waste your time reading what I write, nobody is asking you to waste your time throwing your little vapid sarcastic darts my way.

Further comments from you will be deleted unread. Problem solved.

Dale Carrico said...

I'm not trying to outliberal you, or convince you you're wrong wrong wrong.

But of course you are. Proof:

could you please translate that contentless wankery into language that isn't bullshit?

That sentence is from the beginning of your post. Perhaps you forgot it?

Can you actually give me a list of what you see as administration accomplishments

Of course I can't. As you well know, Obama has accomplished literally nothing in this year and a half. Oh, how I pine for the days of George Bush, oh wait, why pine? Those halcyon days remain with us even now! Only a complete tool would claim there is any difference.

Look, Google Obama Accomplishments and you'll find many such lists, from across the political spectrum, from a number of issue-oriented activist perspectives, and so on, and there's plenty of lefty snark and dot-eyed right-wing paranoia to be found as well if you want to get your hate on.

If you really can't call any Obama accomplishments to mind given the distress of our moment and the catastrophic legacies of Movement Conservatism, I honestly don't know what to say to you.

On many specific issues your stand is the same as mine. I'm glad of that, and will focus on that. Just fight for better outcomes on those issues. I do hope you vote and that you vote for more and better Democrats. I would prefer that your radicalism be of a kind to pressure center-left Dems from their left through organizing rather than demoralizing preemptive declarations of defeat through bloviating (that's not an accusation, that's literally the expression of a hope), and to the extent that it is the latter I hope enough people see sense and fail to give in to cynicism or despair and keep fighting.

Obviously, I disagree with your premature and skewed assessment of the Obama Administration, but we can agree to disagree and leave that verdict to history. Go do some good. Best of luck to you.

Dale Carrico said...

A Sucky Summary of the Foregoing:

Obama sucks! He sucks! He sucks! He sucks!

Because Dale won't say Obama sucks, Dale sucks, too (and not in a gay way he would enjoy)! Dale sucks! He sucks! He sucks! He sucks!

By refusing to say Obama sucks Dale is applauding every Obama policy, including policies Dale has said suck.

Radicalism is saying Democrats and Republicans all suck, everything they do sucks, and that they have and can accomplish nothing since they suck so bad.

In this way, progress will be made. If you think that doesn't make sense -- you suck!

If you think this summary is unfair -- suck it!