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Tom Hayden Strikes Back

Posted on Apr 30, 2008
Obama supporters
Flickr / Joe Crimmings Photography

By Tom Hayden

Editor’s note: Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges wrote in a recent essay that leftists such as Tom Hayden had lost their nerve. Hayden sent us this reply.

John MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s, should know better than to claim that some like myself have spent our lives wanting to be “players” in the Democratic Party instead of being “outside the system.” In most countries, most activists move between social movements and political parties as the need arises. I have spent 50 years in social movements, 20 of them as an elected legislator who was opposed by the party establishment, which is far from being a “player.” I believe that change always begins with independent social movements, but movements can be expanded by political representation at certain stages. Who, for example, can forget the willingness of Sen. Mike Gravel to read the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record at great legal and political risk to himself?

I am saddened by the strange argument of Chris Hedges, who cites MacArthur in his essay “The Left Has Lost Its Way.” Chris says we should “walk away from the Democratic Party even if Barack Obama is the nominee,” and vote for Ralph Nader. If not, “we become slaves,” a truly unfortunate analogy. What Chris misses is that millions of African-Americans and young people generally are throwing themselves into the Barack Obama campaign, and will not take seriously a white writer who preaches that they are marching in the wrong direction. The analogy to slavery is absolutely inappropriate.

My view is to be humbled and appreciative of this unpredicted upsurge of idealistic and fervent activism created in the Obama movement, and to be supportive of the candidacy while remaining independent and critical of the candidate’s moderate views on Iraq and NAFTA. It’s my sense as an organizer for 50 years that we should stand with spontaneous new waves of activism, not demand that they call off their campaigns at the most critical moment. It is possible to do so without having to surrender our independence on the issues we care most about.

For that reason, some of us have created a Web site  called Progressives for Obama, including myself, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, Danny Glover, Cornel West, Jane Fonda, Jim Hightower, Jean Stein, Andy Stern, Anna Burger, and 300 more.


Square, Site wide
The social movements have not disappeared in 2008 but follow a logic of their own, like a river cutting its path. If the Clintons steal the nomination, the social movements will return in force. If Obama wins the presidency, the social movements will rise with higher expectations to demand that President Obama end the Iraq war and focus on race, poverty and environmental issues at home and around the world. The left should not be a small elite outside this process.

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By Shenonymous, May 15, 2008 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

The courage of the House of Representatives has leaped exponentially and maybe the insanity of this war will finally have the center stage back that somehow was pushed cleverly behind the curtains for too long a while.  Just to let you know cyrena that I have added my name to the Iraq war Rapid Response team and sent a message for a dozen of my friends to add their names as well.  I know they will.  And I have also joined the USAction and True Majority project.

Can’t say I am at all interested in Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (unless they have the sugar-free kind and I haven’t seen any yet), but it is way cool they were the founders of that political action group.  I guess you could use Oreo cookies to talk about the federal-budget-in-the-toilet-because-of-the-f*n-war priorities.  As Gertrude Stein might say, progress is progress is still progress.  Even if it is a snail’s pace of progress, it is something I suppose we should be grateful for but like Max I want to see the sometimes prolix talk of Conyers and Kucinich actually be able to convince their colleagues to act a bit faster.

And I mean how dare George Bush call those who are bold enough to take a sane view of a Middle East peace effort an appeasement?  Bush, the most rightfully reviled president this country has ever had, has the colorless impudence to take a potshot at Senator Obama who is the only one who gives a thin ray of hope of the possibility that there could actually be some dialogue with the usually intractable Arabs.  How can we continue to put up with that crazy man, George?  At least this will give Obama the opportunity to magnify even further the need to make that breakthrough. 

The step in California is another step for other states to come to their senses over the inalienable rights of all people.  Of course, as expected, I heard on PBS that the mentally afflicted religious right vermin will now seek an amendment to the state constitution.  We can only hope the bilious religious right will be buried once and for all under the avalanche of human reason. It was shocking and emotional to watch Mildred Loving talk about what happened to her and her husband under the evil racism of the United States, a country that has a constitution to protect its people.  Oh yeah!  I am not encouraged yet.

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By cyrena, May 15, 2008 at 5:03 pm Link to this comment

I’ve copied this verbatim from an email message that I received from the True Majority network. I’m counting this as progress, and I specifically suggest that THIS is what we’re about on this thread, though it may not be enough for some people.

For me, (who can in fact remember as far back as 2000 and the years until 2004, and even beyond until 2006 (finally started to see a peep of reaction and organized outrage) this IS what I call progress.

“I wanted to share some breaking news. The House of Representatives just voted 149 to 141 to cut off funding for the war in Iraq.

This was followed by votes to put significant restrictions on President Bush’s war policy, including a timeline for withdrawal, and creating a new GI Bill to help returning veterans.1

Make no mistake, your efforts were a key factor in this decision. In the past two weeks, you placed over 2,300 calls to House members in targeted districts, demanding they bring a responsible end to the war and then calling for the exact vote result that happened today.

This is the strongest vote by the House since the war began in opposition to the President’s war.

But, this is just the first step.

After today, the fight goes to the Senate where we won’t have much lead time to generate the same sort of pressure. Sign up to join our Iraq War Rapid response team to get urgent action alerts as the battle over war funding continues.”



Ilya Sheyman
Online Organizer

Then of course there is the decision by the California Court to provide for the recognition of same sex marriage. I’m not personally planning to marry anyone of either gender, but I’m very committed to the principle that human beings should be able to marry who they want, and be accepted into our society for WHO they are, not ‘what’ we’ve been programmed to be imagined by others.

This comes just a week or so after the death of Mildred Loving. She and her husband Richard brought us further into the humanity of our society by standing up to the miscegenation laws of Virginia that prohibited interracial marriage. California was the first state to do away with such ‘laws’ in 1949, and so it may be fitting that California has come to this now as well. I’d like to believe that to be the case.

I’ve not yet read the comments from Barack Obama on this. I know that he was not in favor of same sex marriage, but did approve of civil unions. I personally don’t see a whole bunch of difference, other than the ceremony. But then, I’m sure I’m looking at it though a legal philosophy lens.

Still, I find this all encouraging.

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By Leefeller, May 15, 2008 at 10:26 am Link to this comment


Your suggestion or proving that you have something different to say, is what your problem is as I see it.  Even though I agree with your basic ideas, so to argue the point’s are pointless, as I said before, it is your self appointed approach to shoving it down people is what makes it hard to swallow, even when in agreement. 

Must be just me. Your suggested bold request, is really what I am talking about.  So be it.

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By Shenonymous, May 15, 2008 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

I am not anti-religious either which is a huge mistake most of the religious make about lumping all atheists in one bowl of cookie dough,  I have said if not here then often elsewhere on TD that I believe those who see into their religion and practice it out if the good that is written in their doctrines is healthy for themselves and the world at large, especially for those who do not want to do the work of thinking for themselves, or by their cultural indenture cannot think for themselves.  But I do not think most of the world’s religious do good for others outside of their religion (and sometimes even within their own religion)  given that Christians and Muslims make up most of the world’s religious.  The bloodshed these groups (and historically other non-western religious as well) in the name of their god, supposedly one and the same god in the Abrahamic traditions regardless of their unique expression, have caused throughout history and continues to this day is shocking and appalling and without any doubt anti-humanistic and without any redeeming value at all. 

Spirituality is a topic I will save for some other forum. 

Perhaps we will meet again.

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By Max Shields, May 15, 2008 at 7:25 am Link to this comment


Just one clarification - I’m not sure from what I posted how I’ve inferred “divinity”.

I don’t consider myself “religious” (though I’m not anti-religion) and I try not to confuse religion with spirituality.

But that said, I’m not talking about some out body experience or something; to the contrary.

In any case, good to “talk to you”.


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By Shenonymous, May 15, 2008 at 7:17 am Link to this comment

I wholly agree that change is what will save the world and myself as a participant in it. I found the right Robertson site. The newsletters will now come to my email address.  Although I liked what Judge Robertson stands for as well!  The good that Nader does is not being questioned by me.  I have already said I still listen to him.  It is just that I do not want to see a repeat of 2004 where the Republicans win the election by default, de fault of de dumb and ignorant public whose eyes are often blinded like lemmings ready to go over the edge with the next vacuous “American Idol.”

The word authenticity is getting overworked these days as the need for buzz words seems to be part of our culture, but I find myself wanting only to be associated with those who are authentic in their intentions about the world in which we all live and their associations with me.  I am a student of human behavior and am totally committed to contributing to the well-being of all human beings.  And I do that in my profession as an educator.  That and to avoid self-deception are the only moral imperatives in my book. 

I have appreciated your comments and views, though I do not share any notion of divinity as I think all genuine altruism for world and self is generated within one’s own mind through understanding of what it means to be real.  What the truth of reality is I do not know for sure, but it will be what I make of it for however long I live.

Abbia una buona vita e un giorno piacevole anche!

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By Max Shields, May 15, 2008 at 7:02 am Link to this comment


I think you’ve got a chip ol boy. I’ve never intimated religion. And it’s you that seems bent on using the word perfection.

I would suggest, if I can be so bold, that you take the little “check mark” off the “Notify…” so you aren’t aggrivated. Or just skip over what I’ve posted. There are many other places you could post your discontent or approval (of an endorsement) I’m sure.

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By Max Shields, May 15, 2008 at 6:48 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, no need to distance yourself from what I’m saying when you agree with much it.

While I very much like Kucinich (Conyers was very disappointing after demanding impeachment when in a weak position, than taking it “off the table” when he could actually do something, speaks to the entrenched power of the coporatized system), but Obama and Kucinich are as far apart as two people can be on these issues; and there’s no reason to think that will change.

If you google Ivan Illich economic, you’ll find a host of articles and writings. He did die but not that long ago, and being dead does not reduce the quality of the work and life lived.

And yes, James Robertson is a common Scots name, but if you again, google his name and economic you’ll get a slew of writings and books written. He is still very much alive. Both have spoken at the E.F. Schumacher Society Lecture series.

As far as providing a detail plan. I provided these names because there are real limits (time, but also space on this site) to begin to lay out a “plan”. I have sketched a mere outline.

It’s simple to follow the one set up by the Parties they’ve been using the same one for over 200 years! That’s hardly a plan for change. Voting, in fact, is what’s referred to as “thin” democracy by Francis Moore Lappe. Living democracy engages people day in and out at the community and local level. Simply voting for what two parties have to offer is hardly a substantial act of democracy which requires constant involvement on earthly matters about learning/education, community health care, new cooperative business models, building community and much more… There’s much work to change. 

I’m not saying that others here are may not be heavily involved in community activism and change and improvement. etc. I’m not judging what people are not discussing here. What I am saying is that the energy to a duopolistic “plan” as if that plan was an innovative concept is misguided.

I am not saying don’t vote. Not at all. Vote for whom ever you think is the best of what you’re left with. But to hawk it as if it’s change…now that’s where I get off the train…and get up on my little soap box.

There are too many progressive ideas here to be caught up in the every two-four year hoopla that are elections. Each with a “rock” star to hype it. All fully vetted and marketed by corporate media to make the show “exciting”. Not to see it for what it is…and it’s been that way certainly since the book “The Selling of the President” was written (and it has gotten ever more sophisticated as it learns from Reality TV (American Idol and others) what American buttons to push).

When the very process creates a palatable set of candidates, you get mostly image. Nader sees that which is why he keeps running. Not to win, but to keep tolling the alarm. Acknowledging Nader’s important role does not make one a Naderite.

To read and see intelligent people (people who are dear friends of mine outside of TD) fall for it each and every time, is just a waste. I’m certainly not a lone in thinking that.

Have a great day!

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By Leefeller, May 15, 2008 at 6:29 am Link to this comment

Obama’s endorsement by Edward’s, was a refreshing bit of relish on the salad.

Since I put this post to sleep, coming back to check up on it,  seems some things have happened and some are the same.  The incomplete philosophical talking points and others have caught on to Max’s sanctimonious all knowing religious approach to his perfect world

Reinventing the wheel under ones name and arguing how great the discovery and dumb others are for not seeing the same greatness, is like a joke without a punch line. 

Must say the political screen is becoming long of tooth.

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By Shenonymous, May 15, 2008 at 3:47 am Link to this comment

I think I understand what you are getting at.  I accessed information on all your suggestions:  Judge James Robertson.  Interesting fellow, Quote: “The government’s use of the Kafka-esque term ‘no longer enemy combatants’ deliberately begs the question of whether these petitioners ever were enemy combatants,” I find a very compelling statement.  He is a thwarted judge unable to perform his duty.  I was impressed at the time he made those statements and I am still impressed but what does he have to do with the election?

I found E. F. Schumacher’s project attractive. “Both social and environmental sustainability can be achieved by applying the values of human-scale communities and respect for the natural environment to economic issues.

Building on a rich tradition often known as decentralism, the Society initiates practical measures that lead to community revitalization and further the transition toward an economically and ecologically sustainable society.”  Only the money and power mongers (the corporate world) would object, is an easy guess. 

Ivan Ilich, except for Russian architect and constructivist, died in 1959, was not found anywhere except for the story by Tolstoy that I read in high school.  “The Death of Ivan Ilich” is more or less a confessional of Tolstoy and his existential realization of his own death and his mental salvation through a belief in God.  What I think about Tolstoy is not relevant here but I, for one, do not think his solution for his epiphany a necessary conclusion for a meaningful life.

I also researched PROUT.  It seems an interesting alternative to economic systems in competition right now, capitalism and communism.  I wholeheartedly agree with the overall and essential convictions. “The basic necessities of life should be guaranteed to all as a birth right at this stage in human evolution.” Not sure why the tag “at this stage in human evolution” is needed, but the rest of the statement of purpose seems right.  Adding value to society is what humans ought to be doing.  I do not have a definition of “spirituality” but I do understand the word universal.  The redistribution of material resources is too close to communism for my comfort as corruption seeps in no matter who is in charge under the control of those principles.  Marx had an altruistic intention but mankind cannot eliminate its need for power and greed.  I have no idea what PROUT means by divinity.  What kind of divinity could it be?  Is it different than the god(s) that is prayed to by millions of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, monotheistic or polytheistic?  There are over a hundred religions and cults, and sects in the world today.  Which is the best one because they do not all agree on even the most fundamental tenets.  And what about the humanist atheists who hold the highest standard of morals and the good of the world as their basic creed?  PROUT is an altruistic project with many of the same goals as many other such enterprises.  I have trouble with its need to single out the rights of women though.  For me the rights of women is inalienable and not subject to discussion!  Crimes against women are dealt with as if they were exactly like men.  Right to property for women is the same right as it is for men.  The empowerment of women as a group is assumed!

All of these explorations yielded humanitarian, benevolent, charitable all the right definitions of an altruistic world.  But I fail to see how these high minded and good notions affect this election.  If you are not interested in this election, what are you doing on this forum?  You should be promoting your philosophy of the world at universities, on talk shows, wherever you can gain an audience for that specific purpose. It is not getting much traction here.  For my vote and money, Barack Obama is the closest candidate to the descriptions you have offered here.

Thank you anyway for the wonderful exploration I got to do in searching out all of these items.

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By Max Shields, May 14, 2008 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

cyrena and Shenonymous,

I’ve made some attempts to “explain” but since time spent seems to be wasted - so far I’ve been called everything from an anarchist, to a McCainite, to a Naderite, to an idealist, to a cynic, and more (and all on this thread!)

Hardly a way to get to the meat of anything.

At bottom, I don’t think change, real deep change comes by 1) infiltrating the system with it’s center(s) of power ready to nullify you at every turn or 2)Go head to head with it. Candidates aside, these approaches either fail in the short run or turn out to create a worse situation than what existed.

My use of nature is something you may want to research. We are, I’m sure you’ll agree (hope), part of nature. Systems of domination represent a lashing out at the very thing we need - our air, our earth, our water by commoditizing and plundering. If that seems like so much hocus pocus so be it.

The kind of change I’m talking about starts with where you are. The federal government is like middle management in a corporation, it is a gatekeeper not a facilitator, it manages the rules and regs and usually controls the communication and knowledge stream. Build sustainable local economies and daily democratic environments that are socially and economically just. Then link or create global bridges to villages, towns and cities. The centers of power will either adapt or collapse. That’s change. You’re not going to get that by voting for Hillary, Obama, or McCain, or Nader (as much as Nader understands this better than any of the others). It can’t be done within the system which exists on different terms and will reject foreign incursion.

Anyway, you’ll probably think I’m just… whatever. Take a look at thinkers like Ivan Ilich, or James Robertson, or E. F. Schumacher or the work in PROUT (Progressive Utilization Theory) and many others. The world is changing while you worry about a faux horse race.

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By cyrena, May 13, 2008 at 7:55 pm Link to this comment

Just a quick addition to the excellent post (as usual) from Ernest.

The basic structure of the laws actually PROHIBIT the feds from overturning State Laws, without going through the whole long and drawn out process of a SC decision.

Consequently, when California voters put the marijuana initiative on the ballot, voted for it, and approved it, the feds were in violation when they descended on California to destroy those crops and close down all of the clinics, etc, etc.

There are STILL a handful of physicians who will write prescriptions for it, because they can lawfully do so. Physicians are licensed by their STATES, and not by the Federal government. Still, because of the federal interference (unlawful as it is) few (physicians) are willing to take the risk. (not so different from the days of old when abortion was considered criminal, and any physican providing such medical care was subjected to prison/fines/loss of license).

So, I said that to say that Obama wouldn’t be doing anything extraordinary in his own assessment of it. It’s the law the way it is fundamentally structured, because federal law is NOT supposed to supercede state law.

And, if all the rest of this stuff (including all the shit that the pharmies push) can be federally regulated, then there’s no reason that marijuana can’t be either.

Oh the other hand, I’m not sure that it should be. There would be an advantage if the states or the feds could collect some revenue from it, since marijuana is the largest cash crop grown in the US, despite the federal efforts to burn all of it. (not enough of those ATF folks to burn it all I suppose)

Still, there are inherent problems in that as well. I’m sure if the corps had figured a way, they would have brought it under regulation long ago, just like alcohol and tobacco. (nobody finds it at all odd that the US economy was built, at least in part on tobacco.)

Seeing as how tobacco/alcohol have become a health plagues, there is some irony to that legalization, while marijuana, which can actually be used for medical purposes, remains illegal.

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By Shenonymous, May 13, 2008 at 11:44 am Link to this comment

Yesterday I read the entire article on the link you provided about Obama and his judicious use of federal law regarding medical marijuana, one that I think is completely sane.  Another site I found extremely helpful is ObamaTracker at

While making it clear that I am not aligning myself with what Max Shields says, because of his partially developed arguments I have not even a simple illustration of what he proposes, I do have questions in the same spirit as cyrena who questions Obama’s stand on Israel, what I would like to see is Conyers and Kucinich, both strong Congressmen, actually prevail in their progressive bills. such as their single-payer health care program.  While I vigorously agree with both of their efforts, how many have they been able to get passed through Congress, if they haven’t, why not, or doesn’t that mean much?

It seems like nothing rational said can shake Max’s entrenched green zone residence regardless of their ineffectual entrance into political office.

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By cann4ing, May 13, 2008 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

S.  If you go to the link I provided, you will see that this is precisely what Obama said.  He will not misuse valuable Justice Department resources to go after physicians who prescribe medical marijuana, and, if a change in federal laws regulating medical marijuana as a controlled substance are required, he would favor that.

Max’s assertion that Democratic progressives have somehow stolen Green Party ideas is laughable.  Newsflash, there have been progressives active within the Democratic Party since at least the early 1930s.  These are the people who brought you the New Deal, wage and hours laws, overtime pay, the right of unions to organize, the NLRB, Medicare, Social Security, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The fact that relatively new progressive organizations like the PDA have not yet toppled the DLC stooges now in control does not mean that inroads have not and cannot be made.

One thing is unassailable.  There are a significant number of progressive Dems now in Congress—those who make up the Out of Iraq Caucus; progressives like John Conyers, a founding member of PDA, who joined with Kucinich in co-sponsoring a bill seeking a single-payer health care system.

And the number of Max’s “Greens” inside Congress—ZERO, NADA, ZILCH! 

Max demonstrates a remarkable ability to deride the efforts of those progressives who are working to restore democratic control of the Democratic Party, yet when asked, repeatedly by numerous posters, to suggest an alternative means to a more progressive tomorrow, Max the critic offers only a deafening silence.  That is why I compared Max to the fat uncle in “The Good Earth.”

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By cyrena, May 13, 2008 at 3:09 am Link to this comment

Max, on this:

•  “Obama has been emphatic about his stands in regards to Israel and the rest of the Middle East. Do you think he’s lying? (I mean this is no minor issue, no minor mis-understanding).”

I just wanted to say (and partly in response to Nabih as well) that it’s quite possible that Obama IS lying! Now that sounds pretty awful to say, so I could ‘sugar coat’ it a bit, and say that he’s just playing the politics. But, it boils down to the same.

My own (and probably my only) major concerns with Obama have been what ‘appears’ to be his stance on Israel. I don’t see any major problems on his overall ME stance. In other words, I know him to be a cautious and pragmatic thinker.

STILL, I’m not so certain that he HAS taken any ‘emphatic stance’ on Israel, so I’m hoping somebody can refresh my memory on some of the things that I’ve possibly missed. (keeping in mind that I don’t monitor mainstream televised media – I do read the main newspapers, but I don’t do any of the TV news). The reason I ask you to keep that in mind, is because much of the things that I’ve read that have most concerned me in respect to Obama and his alleged ‘position’ on Israel, I’ve not been able to confirm.

For instance, the letter that Obama supposedly sent to Zalmay Khalilzad . I’m still trying to find out if that in fact actually happened. And, more specifically, WHY? In other words, I’m just not sure that I believe it, because there was absolutely NO reason for a Jr. Senator to dash off a letter to the Bush appointed Ambassador to the UN, while he was in the middle of a campaign. It’s also a total reversal of what his stance has been long ago, and long before his campaign for POTUS.

In short, I don’t trust the US Propaganda machine. I haven’t for a really, long time. The deal with Wright only proves my point, but that comes after so much else that has developed into full-blown fascism. There was a time when we could say rather casually, that “all things are not as they appear to be’. Well now, that’s become the rule rather than the exception. So, I’m taking (at least for the time) Obama’s words (that I actually hear myself) on Israel, as exactly that; Whatever it takes to get to a position to actually accomplish something, considering the reality of the fact that at this point in our history, nobody in their right mind could expect to criticize Israel, and actually be elected to the office. You see what happened when Jimmy Carter went over there recently, AS A PRIVATE CITIZEN, and former president, just to do some good will work.

On this,

•  “Political change primarily work from grass-roots (not the Obama style that would require another post to compare, and is mostly rhetorical). It will be deep and democratic, and realign with the natural order from which life itself is created.” 

I’m not sure why you somehow dismiss this as what Obama has accomplished as grass-roots work. Well, maybe I do, but it’s not worth bothering with. My point is that this is another one of those circumstances of your own rhetoric. ‘realign with the natural order from which life itself is created.” Um hum…OK. It sounds lovely Max. It’s very much in line with the philosophy of the Native Americans, of which I am intimately familiar, and use as my own ‘pattern’ with no regrets. It’s about the balance. 

It is STILL very much a ‘put down’ of the efforts of not just Barack Obama, but an entire collection of humanity in America, a few generations since my own, that have placed their hope and enthusiasm in what we ALL recognize at some level, as the very URGENT need for a change in how we live. I think you sell us all short on that, with all of your ‘predictions’ of failure.

So, maybe yours is idealism as Nabih has respectfully referenced it. I’m not sure it’s not extreme cynicism and disrespect for any ‘way’ that isn’t yours.

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By Shenonymous, May 13, 2008 at 2:11 am Link to this comment

From Obama’s quote, if states legalize Medical Marijuana, he would not ask the Justice Department to interfere using federal law.  Do I interpret that correctly, Ernest Canning?

Speaking for myself, point is Max, you say there are alternatives but you don’t specify what those are.  For days now we on this forum have been asking you to be specific. We ask you only because you have spent a great deal of time discussing the topic of this Hayden article.  I hope to learn something from you.  It is without a doubt a good thing that you are working at the local level and if you said exactly what that was, precisely, possibly you would get some help, or it could provide a model for others to start in their own community.  Reading Nabih Ammari’s post does not suggest in the least that he thinks all the problems in our “political reality” will go away with his one vote (albeit one vote is simple to be sure).  You speak in partial truths and even indicate that change is going to take time as is shown in your comment, “alternatives…..which can provide a new beginning.”  If this new beginning is not within the Democratic party as a progressive, nor within, and I can only guess, the Republican party as a new radical of some sort, then you are talking about a third party.  Now I saw where Bob Barr, seeking a Libertarian nomination, is now going to run as a third candidate.  This Ron Paul kind of guy, is that who you are talking about?  I certainly hope not, as we’ve been there done that one and things have not changed, but I may be premature in this remark.

Seems like John Edwards, my former favorite, just short of an endorsement, thinks Obama can unite the Democratic Party and not only appeals to young voters but to people who haven’t been involved in the process over a long time (who these latter are I am not sure exactly to whom Edwards is referring.  I like specifics, there is too much in the realm of the vague).  Nevertheless I think Edwards view is significant.  The Bush and Republican regime has left us with an astronomical even unspeakable debt and horrid economic “reality” as you say, and you may be right that no candidate can solve the crisis. It can only be a hell of a lot better than what we have had done to us. Who can argue with you that one person would not have the capacity to deal with all of the issues?  But the argument is inert because if no one can fix it, then it is unfixable and we might as well all just fall dead. You seem to think that person would be on this raft alone.  No matter who is president, it will be dealt with one way or another.  This entire political reality is like a hydra with innumerable heads that when one is cut off, ten more emerge.  Some issues have priority over others.  The medical marijuana issue is not as important to me as is the war.  Nor is it more important than the economy.  But it does have some importance.  The one-payer health care issue is a whole lot more important than the pseudo fracas with the Reverend Wright.  The Wright fiasco is only comparable to McCain’s and his association with the rabid Christian pastor, John Hagee, who in my estimation is a thousand times worse than Wright.  However, that being said, I believe Pastor Wright was wrong in his press conference to further indict Barack Obama and in my opinion, cyrena is correct in her appraisal of the entire drama.  Wright is not the victim.  His agenda to force more social justice for black America is anachronisitic for this election.  He too should be working at the local level to effect repair that he thinks is due. 

Just a few thoughts.  And thank you Max for your Mother’s Day wish.  It was very pleasant.

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By Max Shields, May 12, 2008 at 9:25 pm Link to this comment

Some of your posts are relevant and make sense. I’ve even found some of them not only thoughtful, but I would tend to agree with your comments.

For what it’s worth, this is NOT one of those posts.


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By cyrena, May 12, 2008 at 8:58 pm Link to this comment

Par1 1 of 2

•  “With malice toward none, I do not see the capacity on the part of either candidate to deal with the economic crisis as it surges.”

OK Max…who do YOU suppose can do this? Just give us a name, any name…tell us why whomever you choose can deal with the economic crises as it surges. (it’s been ‘surging’ for at least a decade,  in case you hadn’t noticed). So yeah, let’s actually hear something from you that poses a suggestion for something instead of some rhetorical criticism. There are few people on this board who can talk as much as you do, and still manage to say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

Here’s more of it…

•  “That does not mean that we will not survive, but it will take the manifestation of a different order to re-constitute our world. I do believe there are alternatives, outside the existing centers of power (financially and politically speaking) which can provide a new beginning.

So, what ARE they? How do these alternatives work? It’s all BS. Nothing but BS from you. You have yet to write or say anything of any substance. Does somebody pay you to post this stuff?

More bullshit here:

•  “I ask myself why did Obama even go to Rev. Wright’s congregation to begin with?

WHY do you ‘ask yourself”, this Max? WHY do you CARE where Obama decided to attend worship services? It has nothing to do with anything else you complain about. Are you like independently wealthy or something Max? And you have time to waste, to just sit around writing about a bunch of non-important issues? Tell us how Obama’s membership at Trinity United Church of Christ has ANYTHING to do with the disaster of the economy? Wanna make a connection there for us Max? WHY do you wanna know why he attended THAT church, instead of say, St Paul’s Lutheran Church two blocks over? Does that enter into your musings at all, when you ‘ask yourself’ this stuff? Did ya ever think that it might be because of the fact that despite his short term attendance at a Catholic grade school, Obama wasn’t particularly religious? He wasn’t raised in a religious environment, since his mother was an atheist, and his dad had returned to Kenya when he was just a child. He wife-to-be however, IS from Chicago, and probably from that Congregation. Do ya think maybe THAT’S how he came to know Rev. Wright? That is VERY customary for lots of folks Max, even white ones.

•  “After all Rev. Wright is clearly on a different journey. And, it appears with very little investigation, that such a congregation once SERVED Obama’s political ends. Now they don’t.”

This is really beyond the pale. WHO ARE YOU, to suggest that ANYONE’s church serves their ‘political ends’? Do ya think Barack Obama decided 20 years ago that he’d move to Chicago so he could become a member of this particular congregation? WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?

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By cyrena, May 12, 2008 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment

I think your perfidy and MALICE is very apparent here Max, because even without being a religious person myself, I know that the average person does NOT ‘seek out’ a spiritual guide for POLITICAL ENDS! Should we say the same thing about the rest of that 6,000 member congregation? Are they ALL there to SERVE each other’s POLITICAL ends?

And how do you figure that Wright is ‘clearly’ on a ‘different’ journey, other than the OBVIOUS, which is the fact that his ‘journey’ had already been about several decades LONGER than Obama’s, and that he long ago made the DECISION to be an ordained minister? Yeah, I suppose that part would be pretty obvious. SO WHAT? So yeah, when Obama finished law school and decided to marry Michelle and move to her home town, and join her church, Wright had already been pastor there for over 20 years, and Obama didn’t become a pastor. Instead of becoming a pastor, (right out of law school) he began teaching constitutional law in addition to his community activism, and eventually entered politics. Yeah…CLEARLY a different journey! Again I ask YOU…SO WHAT?

And how do you figure Wright to be a ‘victim’? I think it’s more of your not so subtle attempt at character and related types of personal assassination. He wasn’t INTENDED to be a ‘victim’ – OBAMA was the ‘intended’ victim, and that backfired. You can’t honestly believe that ANYBODY outside the religious community (or the Clintons) would have ever even HEARD of Jeremiah Wright, if he didn’t happen to be the senior pastor at the Church where Obama attends. Had YOU ever heard of Jeremiah Wright before Obama became a candidate for POTUS? (Yeah, the Clintons knew him).  IOW, outside of his own community and the other church communities and organizations, WHO KNEW HIM (or paid any attention to his sermons) until Obama became a candidate?

He obviously wasn’t a ‘victim’ when he delivered the sermons, since he wasn’t saying anything particularly NEW. His theological concepts, as they are entwined with social justice and human equality aren’t any different from say, Martin Luther King, Jr. So how did he only become a ‘victim’ after Obama started winning democratic primaries and caucuses all over the land? 

And how has he been victimized anyway? He’s a respected member of his own community, and on the national scene of our ministers and faith keepers. He was about to retire anyway, so it’s not like he’s lost his income. I don’t think he’ll be homeless, and he can continue to do the work that he’s dedicated his life to. How do you figure he’s been ‘victimized’ when most folks that bothered to listen beyond a few sound bytes, actually AGREE with him? Nobody is calling for him to drag a cross up a mountain and then be nailed to it, and he’s not a concert pianist who’s had his fingers mangled. He’s not a politician, and he’s not running for office, so I don’t get why you think he’s been ‘victimized’.

If anything, this treacherous ballyhoo cooked up by those who’ve consistently attempted to destroy Barack Obama, has actually brought Wright some attention that he wouldn’t have otherwise had. (Imagine, if Obama was Catholic, it could have been Fr. O’Flanigan or somebody getting all the attention) So now, he can just cruise around and give talks like Slick Willie does, and beef up his retirement income. (although most ministers don’t charge for their speeches and appearances). Still, I’m sure he can continue to do his work for as long as he chooses, or write a book or something if he doesn’t feel like hassling with all the travel. (That’s what I’d do).

Meantime, Obama will become the next president, and I know he’s smart enough to select outstanding advisors and the best help that America has to offer, and people like you will have to find other things to do with your time.

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By Max Shields, May 12, 2008 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment

Ernest said: “Statements like “the distance (or lack thereof)” between McCain & Obama can be “measured in millimeters and not kilometers” are typical of the baseless, single-minded overstatement of the Naderites.”

First, if you read my posts, you’d have plenty of facts to support what I said. But, you seem bent on ignoring that and making these hollow comments.

I am not a “Naderite”. As far as “mindless”, I’ll take that as words of desperation.

You’re “plan” is not “pragmatic” given its history. It’s a failed plan. To keep it up as if you’re expecting different results (you know how that goes - which is why I’ve referred to it as a pathological plan, rather than pragmatic.)

I hear Dem progressives taking non-Dem progessive (mostly Green) ideas and trying to pitch them as Dem ideas. The Democratic Party like all massive enterprises will coopt those ideas - just like the Oil companies have tried to coopt alternative, renewable green energy! That’s what happens when lambs lie down with preditors - they get gobbled up and spit out.

Word to the wise, instead of speaking for everyone Ernest, why not just speak for yourself?

It appears this lack of self-confidence belies a lack of conviction to the Obama cause. You’ve already made excuses for Obama. So, when he proves himself to be a corporate shill, you’re covered. Again, it belies your lack of conviction.

Play your little “pragmatic” game. You will. I’m not hear to stop you. So why so defensive?


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By cann4ing, May 12, 2008 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment

Max’s Straw Men

Statements like “the distance (or lack thereof)” between McCain & Obama can be “measured in millimeters and not kilometers” are typical of the baseless, single-minded overstatement of the Naderites.

Let’s move to an issue yet to be discussed on this Board—Medical Marijuana.  The people of my state have determined that physicians should be able to prescribe marijuana to relieve pain for the severely ill, e.g. terminally ill cancer patients.  As an attorney who has represented the severely injured, including one who lost both arms and both legs; suffers from horrible “phantom” pains and who desires to avoid heavy narcotics, I know that, from a purely medical perspective, marijuana may provide an especially sound means of pain relief.

But the religious zealots in the Bush Justice Department, starting with Ashcroft, would not have it.  They insisted that federal law preempts state law, have shut down clinics and threatened physicians as well as severely disabled patient with prosecution.  With McCain pandering to the religious right, many of whose nut jobs see medical marijuana as the Devil’s weed, there is very little prospect for change if McCain is elected.

Obama said, “If it’s an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma or as a cancer treatment, I think it’s appropriate….What I’m not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”

One would have to also question the validity of Max’s effort to suggest that the likes of Tom Hayden, Jim Hightower and the other progressive activists are “lambs.”  The point of progressive organizations like the PDA is to, one-by-one, “replace” the DLC Congressional “wolves” with candidates who represent the interests of the vast majority of the members of the Democratic Party—the middle and working classes; not to lie next to them, seeking protection.

Not one of the posters on this site has suggested that all of the problems facing this nation will be resolved by defeating McCain.  What many have noted is that Max Shields has not and cannot offer a pragmatic means of achieving a progressive tomorrow that is better than those who are supporting Obama at the same time they work to fundamentally alter the Democratic Party from within.

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By Max Shields, May 12, 2008 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

Nabih Ammari,

A correction, you did not use the word naive. I read the word “idealist” as essentially characterizing what I’ve posted as “naive”. You may have meant just that, but you did not say it.

I was not able to vote for Kucinich - he was out of the run when the primary ran in my State, and I don’t live in Ohio district where he’s been running. So my thanks to you for helping to keep at least one true voice alive.

Also, it is true that the time spent of trivia completely distracts from the deep economic and ecological problems we face. Our political system utterly fails us.


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By Max Shields, May 12, 2008 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

Nabih Ammari,

While I appreciate your giving the time to post a thoughtful consideration, I must, of course, differ.

I am not a naive soul, wondering the planet, anymore than any other on the message board.

Looking for answers to the questions is what I think we are all aiming for.

But it is wrong to think that mine is purely an idealistic view point. I would say it is quite the opposite.

I do not gauge my position based on an eloquent speech or the nastiness of media attacks. It is after all Rev. Wright who was shredded in the Media, not Obama (with some minor bruises, perhaps, to test his “political mettle”. And it worked it showed him for the pol he is). Obama merely dealt, ultimately with the dismissal of a pastor through the inconvenience of an election cycle. I ask myself why did Obama even go to Rev. Wright’s congregation to begin with? After all Rev. Wright is clearly on a different journey. And, it appears with very little investigation, that such a congregation once SERVED Obama’s political ends. Now they don’t.

So, I am not one to counterintuit the Obama/Wright and make Obama the victim. No it was Rev. Wright who was, if anyone was, the victim; and an inconvenience for Obama’s campaign; while an opportunity to further prove he was ok to the powers that be. (Reminds me of the movie “Trading Places”).

Throwing one’s lot with Obama over McCain has never been my argument. Rather it is the distance (or lack there of) between the the two which should be measured in millimeters and not kilometers. That is the crux of my point regarding this race.

The larger issue of our economic crisis is one that cannot and will not be cured by a system (one both McCain and Obama work tightly within) that has created the condition. Neither the Great Depression nor the resulting New Deal will happen again. Those are historical artifacts.

With malice toward none, I do not see the capacity on the part of either candidate to deal with the economic crisis as it surges. That does not mean that we will not survive, but it will take the manifestation of a different order to re-constitute our world. I do believe there are alternatives, outside the existing centers of power (financially and politically speaking) which can provide a new beginning.

And so, again, many thanks for your thoughtful comments. We differ on the interpretation of our social, economic political realities to the extent that you have chosen a simple vote to make it all go away (I’m exaggerating, of course, but not entirely).

Dem Progressives (you are an independent, good for you!) think they can bring solutions into the Party but have yet to figure out it is like the lamb laying down next to the wolf for protection.

Yours truly,

PS, While I’m sure you did not intend it, calling some one who challenges the status quo, naive is an old trick by none other guessed it…the status quo.

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By Nabih Ammari, May 11, 2008 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Subject:The “Samson Option” and Extreme Idealism.

Dear Max Shields,

I have been following your exchanges,mainly with cyrena,Shenonymous,Ernest Canning.Please
add my TRUE name,Nabih Ammari,to their side.Not because your apparent stand is wrong.Not at all.It is precisely because your apparent position is idealistically and totally correct,but its idealism is overwhelmed by its own seeds of self-destruction;in a manner,just about,equivalent to what Seymour Hersh once called the “Samson Option” meaning:“O’God,Upon Me And Upon My Enemies”.And Samson had destroyed the temple upon himself and upon his enemies.Max,if you have not read Seymour Hersh’s book"Samson Option”,please do.Although it is basically a technical book,but it reads like a detective novel.Very interesting.

I do have a great deal of respect and a touch of empathy to your adherence to a position I am almost sure that others would have given adherence to should the prevailing and current circumstances/conditions are not what they are now.There is no way out of this miserable situation without bending our idealisma bit to save the lives of millions of millions of human beings,without totally abandoning our strategic goal:Eventual cleansing the enormous and countless damages the crowd of GREED and WARS-PROFITEERING have done.With just the sheer weight of the huge debt and its accumulated annual interest,it will take several generations just to get out of foreign debt,excluding natural disasters like Katrina.I keep wondering just how many of the 300 millions Americans really know the magnitude of our foreign debt.It is in the trillions-one estimate had put it at $53 trillions However,I have no solid source to reconfirm
that figure.My point here is to emphasize the huge
magnitude of our foreign debt.I leave it to your
imagination as to what to expect of any Presidential candidate under such huge and painfully colossal weights of debt.

Before Rev. Wright’s episode,I had made up my mind
that none of the three candidates deserved my vote.I have decided to vote for re-electing Dennis Kucinich for Congress,since I live in his District.I will also vote for local offices.That was it.No longer.

As Rev.Wright’s episode unfolded and savage and malicious attacks on Obama started taking hold 24 hours a day seven days a week,through the air waves radio talk shows,TV shows,particularly on cable Faux News,and all sort of columnists and editorial writers etc…had/has convinced me the whole episode was maliciously instigated for the sole purpose of destroying Obama as a viable candidate for the Presidency of the U.S.To make a long story short,I am fully convinced that Obama has represented a SLIGHT,I repeat a SLIGHT obstacle to the agenda of the crowd of GREED and WARS-PROFITEERING.They certainly want to destroy him before even having a chance to win his party’s nomination.As I witnessed the ugliness and magnitude of the attacks,I had to change my position 180 degrees in favor of Obama.Therefore,
I will cast my vote to Obama,if he is the
nominee of his party,in spite of his short comings
well known to me,especially the homage he paid to the Israeli lobby known as AIPAC.

Yes,Max,I will bend slightly from the world of idealism and high moral ground,just to help Obama in a small way,hoping that the SLIGHT impediment he may create in the agenda of the crowd of GREED and WARS-PROFITEERING will result as the beginning of the end of getting our necks lose from their grips of chains.

Yes,Max,it boils down to:Obama or McCain.I will throw my lot behind Obama,however painful to me personally,as I bend just slightly for a SLIGHT impediment in the agenda of the other destructive camp.I do not wish to be a Samson for the twenty first century. Please think deeply of what I have presented,here,to you.
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By Max Shields, May 11, 2008 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

“For myself, I think Hayden’s “standing with the spontaneous wave of activism” that is the essential undercurrent of the Obama campaign; seeing to it that that wave continues forward even after Obama is elected; seeing that it translates into as many progressive Dems to replace the corporatists in Congress as are possible, is by far the better strategy—certainly better than anything posted by you or anyone else at this site to date.”

If saying it could make it so.

I won’t waste anymore words. Have a good day.

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By cann4ing, May 11, 2008 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

If McCain wins, and then extends the descent into fascism began by the Bush/Cheney regime, the place progressives may find themselves is Guantanamo for that is the direction of the assault on civil liberties and the rule of law began by the current regime.  Indeed, it is not all that big a step from McCain’s reference to opposition to the imperial conquest of Iraq as “surrender” and the claim that such opposition amounts to treason.

As bad as things have been under Bush/Cheney, the Supreme Court decision in Hamdan reflects that the rule of law still exists, though it is hanging on by a slender thread.  I don’t know how to say it any more clearly.  One more Federalist Society on the Supreme Court would create a permanent majority that would be in a position to end the rule of law.  That cannot be corrected in through electoral politics in the next election or even in our life times.

We are all in agreement that Empire, the military-industrial complex and corporate control must be brought to an end not only for the sake of Democracy and perhaps the very survival of the human species, but you, Hedges, and Nader offer nothing concrete that will help to bring about the result you claim to desire.  For myself, I think Hayden’s “standing with the spontaneous wave of activism” that is the essential undercurrent of the Obama campaign; seeing to it that that wave continues forward even after Obama is elected; seeing that it translates into as many progressive Dems to replace the corporatists in Congress as are possible, is by far the better strategy—certainly better than anything posted by you or anyone else at this site to date.

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By Max Shields, May 11, 2008 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment

Happy Mother’s Day Shenonymous

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By Shenonymous, May 11, 2008 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

Max, I think you are talking about an extra performance matinee.  I don’t see anyone here actually disagreeing all that much with you.  Or you disagreeing with them about how the political picture can change.  Let’s think about how change happens.  It doesn’t change by maintaining the status quo.  That is the conservative Republican model now but it wasn’t a few years ago when they restructured themselves to woo the Christian Coalition in order to increase their voting numbers.  It is a numbers game.  The Democrats are not going to change either without a swift kick in the ass because the word conservative does not belong only to Republicans, it means among other things resistant to change, caution.  Example, as people get older they become more conservative in their thinking and mode of life as they see their life slipping into The Big Drink.  There is an element of conservative preservative posturing that goes on in all viable groups.  The progressive wing of the Democratic Party you say will become marginalized if Obama wins because, as you say, the Party will conclude that the progressives had very little to do with winning the election.  But I think that is wrong.  But putting my opinion there aside for just a second, what you are right exactly about, and most of the others and myself have said numerous times, is that change must come about at the local level.  And this is why you are wrong about the progressives influence.  It will be at that local strata that the progressive Democrats will exert their strength in getting more progressive Democrats elected.  You don’t think even for a New York minute do you that progressive Democrats will fold up their tents and slink off once the big election is over. Not on your life.  Furthermore, I also called attention to the fact that local elections seem to be the forgotten “tribe,” as I put it not so very many comments ago.  That is exactly where the focus ought to be now that the selection of the presidential candidate is just about a fait accompli. 

I say peace too, and keep on having fun in the ring.  I am not going to do any werk today.  It is Mother’s Day and I’m going girlie shopping.  See y’all later.

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By Max Shields, May 11, 2008 at 10:13 am Link to this comment

Ernest: “As the Doud piece that Shenonymous linked to reveals, Obama’s preference for multilateralism and diplomacy at least portends to, dare I use the word, some level of “hope” for the Palestinian victims of Zionist oppression where a McCain presidency offers none.”

I don’t disagree that someone running for president within the 2 party structure must be thoroughly vetted by the powers that be - AIPAC, DLC, transnational corporations, and corporate media. Kucinich didn’t. To some extent, neither did John Edwards.

My point, again, is that Obama fits the bill. Period. He makes the grade.

Obama has been emphatic about his stands in regards to Israel and the rest of the Middle East. Do you think he’s lying? (I mean this is no minor issue, no minor mis-understanding).

The battle for the hearts and minds within the Dem Party was fought with a loser and winner decades ago. The losers are progressives of yours and Kucinich’s ilk. The problem (and I’m not singling your out) is that this tie to the Dem Party has become pathological. Although I think your political strategy is fatally flawed, you along with hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions will try once again.

If the Dems win, progressives will probably move further to the fringes - why? Because the candidates will calculate that you were not essential to the win. If they lose, they will re-group and the centers of powers will, as they do, gravitate toward doing more of what they did this time again. Again, progressives will be marginalized (in fact they may be a scapegoat, as they tend to be after the Repubs finish with their swift boating).

For me to provide an alternative strategy, you need to suspend your notion of large scale Party politics and government. My conclusion is two fold: 1. the root causes of our dilemma are complex and cannot be changed through the system that is built to sustain them 2. an alternative will be based on social, environmental and economic justice, local living economies, and re-connecting our collapsed communities. Political change primarily work from grass-roots (not the Obama style that would require another post to compare, and is mostly rhetorical). It will be deep and democratic, and realign with the natural order from which life itself is created.

The US and previous empires are anomolies to nature. Nature abhors monopolies of any sort. They are hierarchical structured (I’m not posing an anti-hierarchical structure, but one that greatly diminishes the importance of that model). The US historical trajectory must be understood in order to transform it. Continuing to follow its path (e.g., inside the Dem fold) is counterproductive on all levels. Whether old styled progressives like Hayden agree or not, or Jimmy Carter thinks, in the end that his Party, the Dems, are marginally better (as much as I admire much of the work Carter has done) is neither here nor there. There assumptions are tied to the legacy of empire. That needs to change if we are to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. This is about transformation not head to head confrontation.

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By cann4ing, May 11, 2008 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Max, I commend your work through local non-profits to change the local economies.  Since all politics are local, that is a positive step.  But it is not an “electoral strategy” which was the question I had put to you.  Remember the piece to which all of these comments relate is Tom Hayden’s explanation as to why progressives, at this point in our history, should line up behind the Obama campaign.  Since you and a few other posters have entered the discussion in order to challenge Hayden, the burden is on the “critics” to offer a practical alternative.  So far, I’ve heard none from any poster or from Chris Hedges.

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By cann4ing, May 11, 2008 at 7:52 am Link to this comment

One point upon which it appears that we agree, Max, is that neither of us knows whether, once elected, Obama will move in the same direction as Jimmy Carter in bringing true peace to replace apartheid in occupied Palestine.  But let’s look at what Carter himself said was the political reality.

“Amy Goodman:  Why don’t Americans know what you have seen?

“Jimmy Carter:  Americans don’t want to know and many Israelis don’t want to know what is going on inside Palestine.  It’s a terrible human rights persecution that far transcends what any outsider would imagine.  And there are powerful political forces in America that prevent any objective analysis of the problem in the Holy Land.  I think it’s accurate to say that not a single member of Congress with whom I’m familiar would possibly speak out and call for Israel to withdraw to their legal boundaries or to publicize the plight of the Palestinians or even to call publicly and repeatedly for good faith peace talks.  There hasn’t been a day of peace talks now in more than seven years.  So this is a taboo subject.  And I would say that if any member of Congress did speak out, as I’ve described, they would probably not be back in the Congress the next term.”

While we cannot be certain whether a President Obama would have the courage to intercede as an “honest broker” and to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to finally educate the masses, there is one thing that is abundantly clear.  There is absolutely no prospect for a reversal of the present policies which have granted the Israelis free reign to carry out settlement activities, to wall in the residents of Gaza, reducing that tiny enclave to a 21st Century Warsaw ghetto, and to use American-made bulldozers mow down apartment complexes even if there are young Palestinian children inside.

As the Doud piece that Shenonymous linked to reveals, Obama’s preference for multilateralism and diplomacy at least portends to, dare I use the word, some level of “hope” for the Palestinian victims of Zionist oppression where a McCain presidency offers none.

Finally, Max, I will assume from your repeated failure to respond to my request for constructive proposals that would provide an alternative to the electoral strategy of progressive Democrats that you are unable to provide any.

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By Shenonymous, May 11, 2008 at 6:44 am Link to this comment

Excuse me, Max, but I am not apologizing for trying to tempt you into making a “definite” statement about how you would keep Republicans from hijacking this election again. 

Seems like you haven’t visited the DPA or you would see that they are about more than the Israeli/Palestinian hostility.  That being said, as a Democrat I am not about the ‘Party’ as you called it and though a member I am not DPA.  I am for what the Democratic Party represents and that is the people of America.  I could not care less about ‘Party.”  I am a member so I may join my voice with the millions of others as there is magic in numbers.

But it is through that agency and only that agency that the Republicans will be dethroned.  I think that is precisely the majority of Democrats agenda, ordinary people do not play Party games.  All my Democratic friends feel the same as I do.  I agree that some people let the glamour of belonging to an organization blur their eyes and mind.  I have always shied away from such social structures. I don’t have the time for such mannerisms.  Granted there is a machine that goes by the name of Democratic Party, but there are two species of party members, the de rigueur mongers of power players, and the ordinary people.  I belong to the latter.  So I disagree with your assessment of Democrats in general. 

But just to put things in perspective, the Democratic machine has to fight the mighty and more powerful Republican machine, so let Gog and Magog fight it out and while they are doing that, the Democratic voters will simply win the election.

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By Max Shields, May 11, 2008 at 5:47 am Link to this comment


Your invocation of Jimmy Carter is like Shenonymous’s mention of Chomsky saying Obama is a little more moderate than Hillary on Iran. Out of context Chomsky’s point could easily be construed that they’re essentially the same, Obama just didn’t use the word “obliterate”, hence he tempered his poition against Iran.

As to Jimmy Carter, he is talking in general terms about the difficulty of doing what HE’s doing - which is honorable. Jimmy Carter went to Syria and talked to Hamas. That’s a real stretch from the kind of bombastic remarks that Obama has made regarding Israel/Palestinians. It is clear that to genuflect before AIPAC and sabber rattle as Obama has on a number of occasions when it was politically expedient speaks to the depth of his convictions.

You see, I think you are right, in order to be POTUS you must do these things, not only while running but you must continue to do these things once in office.

This is why I’ve said repeatedly that Dem progres-sives are wasting their time. As far as Hayden’s remarks about a progressive movement, I agree, but it’s not a Dem Progressive “movement”. Calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney is NOT a movement. The movement that is going on and is needed is one that begins to transform, not just our politics but the sociaeconomic structures that support it. That’s happening OUTSIDE the Dem Party. It’s an alternative to the same ol same ol.

My work through 2 non-profits is to transform our local economy and to rebuild our communities. Changing the political face will follow. Think of it in terms of Robert Kennedy’s “ripple of hope”. But it is more than just hope, it is doing.

I must say when was the Dem Party (as a party) progressive? I guess the term has gotten frayed. There use to be a progressive movement in this country and it was coopted (as the Parties do, they call it inclusive) so that W. Wilson ran as a Progressive and then did things that would make our current state of the Patriot Act look fairly status quo in comparison. And that’s when the Dems were 100 years younger.

No, the Party is a machine. It will not be altered by progressives. It will be mulched. If there are Dem Progressives working to make deep changes in their communities and municipalities I applaud them. But Party people are usually first and foremost about Party.

As far as what will Obama do once in, well you’ve answered it: we don’t know - and given what we seen NEITHER DOES HE. But, I’ll wager you this, he will not cross the powers. And that brings us back to the bottom line - you’re supporting Obama because he is a Dem and not McCain.

Fine. You are not enthralled with the Obamamania. That’s very good to hear. I don’t think that “energy” will last; and some of it may not even make it to the polls.

But let me be clear, I’m offering a critical view of Obama, not a political contest view. McCain and Hillary have been so transparent that it would be totally redundant to do the same of them. I’m not here to rally people to vote for Obama or McCain anywhere else.

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By Amon Drool, May 10, 2008 at 11:36 pm Link to this comment

so, so u think u can tell
heaven from hell
blue skies from pain
can u tell a green field
from a cold steel rail
a smile from a veil
do u think u can tell

they’re just three lost souls
swimming in a fish bowl
year after year
running over the same old ground
what have they found
the same old fears…wish u were here

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By cyrena, May 10, 2008 at 10:45 pm Link to this comment

Thanks Ernest. I was just about to post a rather lengthy piece that said most of what you’ve said right here.

Specifically, the total waste of energy and spilled ink from Max, that has YET to offer anything more than vague generalities of what ‘transformations’ need to take place, and always, always, always, everything that is WRONG (according to him) with Obama’s positions on everything from the ice cream flavor of the day to what he thinks about Lebanon, to the fact that his was one of 100 votes that confirmed Condi the Rice to Sec of State. (as if he was gonna stop it).

It’s BS and doesn’t accomplish a single solitary thing, and I happen to be of a utilitarian nature. I long ago joined the PDA, since we actually have some ideas on how to accomplish goals and objectives. None of us minds doing work that actually provides results.

So again, thank you. Now I’ll just get back to me 3 full-featured papers, the laundry, the chicken soup, and my hair color adventure, since they’re all happening at once.

Max…can you say, multi-tasking, or do you even know what it means?

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By Leefeller, May 10, 2008 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment

As Hayden comments “The social movements have not disappeared in 2008 but follow a logic of their own, like a river cutting its path.”  For me Hayden made a a very astute observation and described political movement bouncing off the rough edges of differences people have as to the direction of the political river.

We as people will never think alike in this melting pot of ours and some of us do not have the ability to think at all.

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By cann4ing, May 10, 2008 at 9:11 pm Link to this comment

“Ganging up?”  Oh please!  The validity of an idea is not based on the number of people who assert it but on its own intrinsic value. 

You are correct in your assertion that Obama has not openly taken on AIPAC and the Israeli occupation.  You are also correct in stating that Kucinich was the only candidate in either party who did so.  But as President Carter noted when he was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, no U.S. politician could openly take on the true “honest broker” position occupied only by Carter and expect to get elected.  With the hard-right faux news network at Fox playing up his middle name, “Hussein” and with a thoroughly corrupt corporate media already distorting Rev. Wright’s fundamentally sound observation about 9/11 amounting to a case of “blowback,” it would be impossible for Obama to move in that direction until “after” he were elected, for if he did, he would not be elected; John McCain would be elected, and any hope for a meaningful two-state solution will have then been squandered. But I guess, you would prefer that Obama take the ideologically pure position even if doing so would amount to electoral suicide.  (Yeah, I know, Max, what guarantees do we have that Obama would move to become an honest broker once elected?  None!).

Once again, Max, I find myself waiting for your first “constructive” proposal for moving this nation to a more progressive tomorrow. Or do you think it unduly rude of me to point out that you have (a) neither offered one nor (b) acknowledged the fundamental and obvious distinctions between McCain & Obama on a host of issues?  You were intimidated by my last post because it struck a raw nerve.

Really, Max, if you have a pragmatic electoral strategy that is better than (a) voting for Obama (b) striving through progressive organizations to take the Dem Party back from the corporatists and (c) working to elect progressive Dems to Congress & local office, I would love to hear it.

Obviously, Max, my observation that you are someone who likes to criticize and tear down any and all who do not agree with you, but when someone points out your inability to come up with a constructive alternative to the approach adopted by so many progressive Dems, that is somehow uncivil?  I think not.  And for that reason, I decline your invitation to “get lost.”

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By Max Shields, May 10, 2008 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

No, it’s not 10 years ago. It addresses his “stand” on the recent Israel/Lebanon war. That was two summers ago.

He was at AIPAC in the past several months where he came off as strong as Hillary, McCain and Bush on pro-Israel over the Palestinians.

I don’t care one iota about Dems and Repubs. I accept your “apology”.

As far as Ernest, of course he can post all he or anybody wants. But the ganging up sort of stuff reminds of classroom bullies, when all else fails just out number.

I’m serious about these concerns. Not so much about Obama who is the standard DLC/Bill Clinton offering, but about the ease with which Dems progressives who after all this should know better.

Obama’s remarks about war, his stating in 2004 that he wouldn’t know how he’d vote if he was in the Senate at the time of the “Iraq” resolution; is very troubling. And he’s shown he can duel with the best of them regarding hawkish stands. If you follow his conversations, he starts with a soft touch, then ends with the same military posture that McCain and Hillary have shown (as well as the other Repubs who were running.)

Look, the Dem field started out ok. Edwards and Kucinich and Gavel and even Dodd and Richardson (though Richardson never seemed particularly convincing as an anti-war candidate). Other than Kucinich who is a lucid, consistent progressive thinker, and Edwards who seemed to really hone in on two very important problems (Gavel was not so lucid, imho) once they were out, it was time to move beyond the Dems. Obama has been a dud in every debate. But the money and DLC and corporate media kept making it a two person race - Hillary and Obama. So, here we are.

I’m scratching my head and saying Obama is what - progressive? May be when he was a state senator. Not now; not by words and deeds.

It seems the only argument here is that he’s not McCain. If Ernest and you would just stick to that (and you do from time to time)you’d make more sense rather than trying to defend the indefensible.


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By Shenonymous, May 10, 2008 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, that last comment of mine was an intended low blow.  I am trying to goad you into giving a plan to stop the Republicans, which you keep dodging.  A more recent article (yours shows Obama 10 years ago!), is Obama and Palestine at
The Huffington Post, posted on March 23, 2008.

I guess I can think for myself.  If Ernest wants to chime in it is an open forum.  If we agree on the political scene, well that’s life.

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By Max Shields, May 10, 2008 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment

Knowing how you’re just hungry to learn more about Obama, here’s little something to read and think critically about:

But he’ll be better when he’s president. Well I guess he won’t be worse than Hillary.

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By Max Shields, May 10, 2008 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment


You disappoint. I thought you were able to think for yourself. It’s apparent that you need help. When you can’t present a cogent argument, it’s time to bring out the names - Republican shill. Next it will be fascist.

Now about Chomsky saying that Obama is more moderate than Hillary on Iran. Now that’s a ringing endorsement. I happen to find some of what Chomsky says interesting. And he came out, signed a letter in fact, denouncing the Israeli bombing of Lebanon a couple of summers ago. Human Rights Watch called much of what the Israeli military did war crimes.

Now, where did Obama stand on that? As I recall, he was cheering on Israel. Give you a clue as to just how much of a “altruistic” character he is.

But that doesn’t seem to matter to you or Ernest.

Disappointment. Scary.

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By Max Shields, May 10, 2008 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment


Some of us are trying to have a civil discussion.

So, if you can’t get along, get lost.


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By Shenonymous, May 10, 2008 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment

You are of course right, Ernest Canning.  Days ago, I had intuited what you are now saying about Max Shields’ refusal to admit that Obama and McCain are diametrical opposites and have said as much in so many different words.  I also said that Obama is not a perfect savior, but he does have a winning platform, and that there is much work to be done within the Democratic party.  It is not a matter of just whoring out my vote because of some “idea” of Obama!  But you know everything I have said so no need to repeat it.  Thank you for bringing back to our attention Obama’s belief about American workers’ freedom to choose to unionize and training for green technologies. and the ipso facto fascist character of more than the last eight years of Republican administration, harkening back at least to Ronald Reagan who kinda sorta shuga-coated it.  It has surely been a descent into hell at least for poor America, old America, and ethnic America.  And especially hell for Iraq where it has been mentioned, even if en passant, that Americans will be there for a hundred more years, I think that was said by John McCain.  Not to mention the infinite national debt that will take generations to bring under some control.  It is all worth repeating after all. 

I have made the case that Democrats are not clones of Republicans and that if progressives want to appeal to the mass of Democratic voters, the progressives ought to identify themselves as “progressive Democrats.”  My request of Max Shields was if he is completely discontented with either Democratic candidate, he ought to make a proposal on how to stop the Republicans from winning the election, as he seems to claim he doesn’t support McCain.  He feigns ignorance at what I am asking. It is plain and simple.  Give me a plan to stop the Republicans and I will listen to him.  If you don’t have a plan to stop the Republicans, Max, then you ought to shut up or confess to being a Republican shill (I just added that last comment but it fits).

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By cann4ing, May 10, 2008 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

S you left off Obama’s positions on labor which I had listed elsewhere and which Max chose to ignore.

Straight from the Obama web site:

Obama believes that workers should have the freedom to choose whether to join harassment or intimidation from their employers.  Obama cosponsored…the Employee Free Choice Act…to assure that workers can exercise their right to organize…”  He has fought the Bush NLRB “efforts to strip workers of their right to organize.  He is a co-sponsor of legislation to overturn the NLRB’s ‘Kentucky River’ decisions calssifying hundreds of thousands of nurses, construction, and professional workers as ‘supervisors’ who are not protected by federal labor laws.”  He supports not only the right to organize but to strike and wants a ban on permanent replacement workers.  He not only wants to increase the minimum wage but to index it to the cost of inflation.

Obama proposes federal investment in workforce training within programs that develop green technologies.  He net neutrality.

These are all progressive positions that are substantially similar to those which had been advocated by both Kucinich and Nader and which are oppsed by McCain.  His positions on Social Security, stem cell research and a woman’s right to chose are likewise indistinguishable from Nader’s.

Max has pointed to foreign policy, which while light years apart from those of John “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” McCain, is a far cry from the end-of-empire policy that would represent the ideal.  I could additional point out that Obama’s so-called “universal health care” proposal is but a sham subsidy scheme and that the only real reform is single payer.

What Max willfully choses to ignore is (a) we have to stop the descent into fascism if we are to have any prospect of a progressive future; (b) that the prospects of challenging the corporate security state would be far greater if progressive push towards electing greater numbers of progressive Dems in Congress at the same time they defeat Mad Dog McCain, and that, (3) in 21st Century America, third party strategies are an exercise in political futility.

The argument that it would make no difference whether McCain or Obama is elected—which lies at the core of the Naderite position—is a bald faced lie.  Just as it was a bald-faced lie that there is no difference between Al Gore and George Bush.  It was that kind of stupidity that sent this nation down the Bush/Cheney Orwellian spiral towards perpetual war, a loss of civil liberties, torture, warrantless NSA spying and a massive hemorrhaging of cash from the national treasury. 

Both Nader & Max know full well that while “some” of Obama’s positions are far from the ideal, there is a world of difference between Obama and McCain.  So they keep spinning their repetitive and futile rants against the system.

I’ve been reading Max’s posts for a month now.  I’ve yet to see one concrete proposal for moving this nation toward a progressive future.  Max is great at exposing the shortfall of an Obama position on this issue or that, but when it comes to concrete steps to alter the status quo, Max can find nothing constructive to say.  Max reminds me of the obese uncle in “The Good Earth” as he shouted out instructions on how to fight off the locust while his fat bottom was seated on a chair.  The uncle never once lifted a finger to help out, them complained how tired he was when it was over.

Meanwhile, those progressives with a better grasp of the dynamics have not only lined up behind the Obama campaign but joined groups like the PDA to advance the interests of progressive Democratic candidates for Congress and local office.  Those progressives, the ones prepared to roll up their sleeves, understand that it is they who represent the true base of the Democratic Party and that is why they understand that it is there that the first victories in a long progressive battle will have to come.

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By Max Shields, May 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

Dear Shenonymous,

Why would you ask me for a plan? Obama is the one that needs a plan. I’m not sure what kind of a plan you’d want to me to lay out?

I have started a non-profit organization which deals with human-scale issues in some depth offering a variety of alternatives and actionable projects which are going on in my community. But I’m not running for POTUS.

To Nader: It’s not about Nader it’s about what Nader has posted has his positions of what I consider the most fundamental (and yes progressive) issues facing this nation. I don’t care if Mr. Magoo is uttering them, the points are salient and vital.

I’m not sure why you’re paraphrasing Chomsky?

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By Shenonymous, May 10, 2008 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

Altruism: the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others

One of the major reasons I happen to be a Democrat is for that very principle of altruism, since all the other issues emanate from that.  The war, the economy, the planet. 

Pros and cons on nuclear energy.  I am not a fanatic either way.  Looks like it is inevitable, much as I despise the Republicans, Bush, and their agenda. 
Besides even though I still listen to him, I didn’t say I was a zombie Naderite.  Again, I am not after perfection, as you wish to paint that name on my views.

The billions of dollars generated for Corporate America will just transferred from coal and oil to nuclear and hence much of the debate for and against has to do with that transfer of money.  I don’t see much argument there on the real issue of safety.  Only stockholders tears will be shed.

Chomsky sees Obama as more moderate than Clinton with regard to Iran and says we ought to keep Obama due to his leading slogan of “Change.” April 3, 2008 Can a Democrat change US MIddle East policy?

It is my guess if there were glaring deficiencies in Obama, even his more moderate attitude toward Iran would not cause Chomsky to say Obama ought to be kept.

The only blind allegiance I have is to remove Republicans from their seat of power in this government.  As I said, provide a plan to do that and I’ll listen.  Demoting Obama is not a plan.

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By Max Shields, May 10, 2008 at 11:32 am Link to this comment

Supports capping troop levels, and wants full US withdrawal by March 2008. While not a Senator at the time, he has opposed the war from the start.”

And where does he plan to send them? So, far he’s talked about shipping to other places in the region and sending some off to Afganistan and Pakistan. Maybe that’s just the politician speaking. Who knows.

McCain (same on immigration) and other Repubs (see what Romney had in MA for health care kind of like Obama) are very close on some of these issues. Yea there’s the 100 year deal where McCain compared it to staying in the other 700+ bases we have around the globe. And Obama plans to get rid of the USA’s largest base in the world - Green Zone and take troops out from there? How long will the mega-base stay in operation under Obama? I say, for as long as he’s in the White House.

Change? Vision? Hope? Just like the WMDs, none here. That’s the gripe, Shenonymous.


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By Max Shields, May 10, 2008 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

“What is it you do not understand in the words, “I do not find Obama perfect?” He is not a knight doing battle alone.  I do “find,” however, not seek, solace in the Democratic Party.”

First, thank you for responding. I know you said you don’t think Obama is perfect, but you indicated you thought he was “altruistic”. I’m not particularly intersted in altruism, but that’s beside the point.

I thought you said you were a progressive former supporter of Nader. This list has so many non-progressive elements its just beyond words. “Alternative energy”, but he’s stated that he supports nuclear as an “alternative”. Universal health care, under what twisted definition and with private insurance companies making a killing with his plan to boot. “Believes” NAFTA needs to be renegotiated? That and a buck will get you a coffee. He’s supported NAFTA as attempted recently with Peru - it’s the same brutal agreement!

And he believes global warming is occurring. Ok, chalk one up for science.

The last three are really cultural issues. It’s like watching a cat play with a ball of thread or kicking a can down the street. We’re still talking about lethal weapon gun control as a top issue?!?

Look I don’t need to tell you, Shenonymous, this is not progressive. I don’t sense urgency. I don’t sense gut level committment. This is a guy who’s voicing DLC talking points. (DLC is about getting Reagan Dems back in the Dem tent.) Hillary would be mouthing these same points. Crap Michael Dukakis could resurrect his campaign from the ‘80s and be right at home… Bill Clinton had more umph!! And he’s as DLC as you get.

That’s my point. You see it different.

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By Shenonymous, May 10, 2008 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

He is more altruistic comparatively speaking than the other candidates.  I have made that precisely clear.  What is it you do not understand in the words, “I do not find Obama perfect?”  He is not a knight doing battle alone.  I do “find,” however, not seek, solace in the Democratic Party.  Definition for solace: comfort in sorrow (for the millions of Iraqis murdered), misfortune (for the economic horror for the American people), or trouble; alleviation of distress or discomfort (the continued nightmare of the American people).

Rome, Iraq, Pakistan, and Iran will burn faster with a Republican continuation.

In his own words will have to do.  Notice I did not mention HC or JMcC once.

Barack Obama – Democrat – His stand on the issues.
Supports capping troop levels, and wants full US withdrawal by March 2008. While not a Senator at the time, he has opposed the war from the start.
Foreign Affairs:
Supports more monitoring of nuclear technology to make sure it stays out of terrorist hands. Believes more needs to be done to stop conflict in Africa.
Homeland Security:
Wants Homeland Security money targeted more towards high-risk areas. Supports better protection for chemical plants. Wants more tracking of spent nuclear fuel so it doesn’t end up in terrorist hands.
Supports a fence along Mexican border. Supports tougher laws to keep illegals from finding jobs. Supports granting citizenship to illegals already here as long as they pay fines and back taxes.
Supports tax incentives to companies that keep jobs in the US. Believes NAFTA needs to be renegotiated to protect American economy.
Supports rewarding good teachers with better pay, and expanding summer learning programs. Wants to increase federal grants for college education.
Supports more renewable energies, and wants to look into clean coal uses to get the US away from foreign oil dependency. Proposed giving automakers help with health coverage in exchange for more hybrid production.
Climate Change:
Believes global warming will bring devastating consequences if it’s not stopped. Supports capping emissions with incentives to corporations that cut greenhouse gases.
Supports universal health care, and believes government should buy prescription drugs in bulk to reduce costs. Wants hospitals to be graded on performance and make a switch to cost-effective, computerized record-keeping.
Social Security:
Opposes privatization, and believes the system can be fixed with minor changes.
Stem Cell Research:
Supports embryonic stem-cell research
Same Sex Marriage:
Supports civil unions, but not same-sex marriage.
Gun Control:
Supports bans on assault weapons and concealed weapons.

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By Max Shields, May 10, 2008 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

I’d be willing to let this go, but you insist on bringing Obama in as having altruistic positions, and then never saying what those are.

You see solace in the Democratic Party and no argument will dissuade you of this Party’s history because you insist that it’s evil twin is worse and must be fought off at every turn. And while you and others do that “Rome burns”.

To say you are not ignoring my points, and then ignore them, seems disingenous. You are not addressing them. But for now…

To keep this just a little less repetitive, please present Obama’s case, his altruism as you called it. If you can do this without invoking McCain or Hillary, I would appreciate. Otherwise, for every issue I lay out you simply say, but Obama is this knight in shining armor - though not perfect…

That’s not an argument for one so articulate and otherwise thoughtful as you appear to be.

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By Shenonymous, May 10, 2008 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

Call me the Black Knight (female version), if you will, and with your sharp points cut my limbs off and stab as you wish, the point is that for this election, I will not change my party and I will do everything I can to remove the Republicans from office.  While the Democratic Party is in dire need of reconstruction to bring it back to its liberal albeit “progressive” character, the Democratic Party is the party of the people and they are the ones who will vote and win this election and there will be no erosion nor exodus on my part to deter that. 

I am in agreement that much repair is demanded to fortify a progressive Democratic movement, but it is relatively speaking embryonic at this stage because of the handicaps imposed by the Republican coalition with Corporate America and it is a stage much too close for my comfort to the “big” election.  Whoever heads this government is in the most influential position of all officers of the land, in the entire world for that matter.  And for me it will not be a Republican.  I am not ignoring any of your points.  But they do not weigh enough against the possibility of another lost election.  Now you can try to vitiate that all you want, for you have compelling arguments and a table of facts, but only one fact remains.  I understand everything you say, and I agree with much of what you say, BUT the election for president must not be returned to the hands of the Republicans.  Guarantee that for me with your program, and I will open my somewhat inflexible hearing further to you.  All that being said, of the candidates still standing, Barack Obama, because of his genuine altruistic positions is the only one in my estimation who will make that happen.  However, if another Theaetetus shows up, a new look will be required

As it is you are only repeating what you have already said in the numerous previous comments, which have not had any potency to sway me to change my mind.  And I assure you not only am I a critical thinker, but also a teacher of analytical thinking.

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By Max Shields, May 10, 2008 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

I think you’re missing the point. Kosko is NOT the problem. He’s just providing some facts and his sense - one that I generally agree with - of why these are pretty much the same cooked candidates we’ve been getting out of these Parties for years.

You may be satisfied with that because you think anything else is “perfection”. No one is talking about perfection. I think that’s a faux argument used to shut up alternative discussion.

Here’s why I think you’ve missed the point. It appears that rather than deal with what he is stating, you are bringing the same argument that the Party people bring to the table. You’ve got no where to go, so settle. And as you digest that it appears you begin to justify, creating a narrative to support the fact that you’ve bought into “you have no where else to go.” The narrative goes “well, Obama use to support Palestinians, he’ll return to that when he’s in the Oval Office. Obama is really a progressive but he needs to get elected so, he has to say things like, “invasion” of Pakistan and upping our presence in Afganistan, while adding 100,000 troops to the payroll is necessary, and Israel is right in its attacks in Gaza, etc.

That this is all just politics, and Obama is really something all together different. That’s the bet. But why? Because it starts with the “you have no where else to go. So, pick the lesser of two evils.”

On another level you need to think about how effective an Obama would be in the Oval Office. A lot of Dems are pretty conservative (ask Hillary when she tried to get some version of universal healthcare).

(The only way Obama, if elected will not follow his rhetoric, is if something catastrophic happens like a total collapse of the American economy. In which case all bets are off. I could imagine a coup if that happened. The powers will be desparate, and will replace the government under some kind of emergency “dictatorship” rule.)

From what I can see people who are supporting Obama like the “idea” of Obama, but really have very little to support it other than to demonize the opposition. I’m not looking for perfection, just trying to cut through the distortions.

As far as Kosko providing alternatives, I don’t think you’ll find it in the Dem Party. That Party has made it quite clear who’s in charge - and it aint progressives. Even when it’s had the opportunity to make a progressive stand, it has backed away and moved more and more to the right. No, what Kosko is saying is you need to see beyond an election and begin to build an alternative. Just don’t expect that anyone of these candidates as President is going to come close to what this country needs. Perhaps a little time out from war would be good, but I wouldn’t expect it given what we’ve heard so far.

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By Conservative Yankee, May 10, 2008 at 6:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By Shenonymous, May 8 at 7:29 am #

“Yes, CY, we have already noted the relative meaning truth could have.  However, even in the face of relativism, there is a Truth to which all truth is akin.  The universal Truth that serves as the model for all contextual truths. “

Please explain this “universal truth” in scientific rather than religious terms.

Some people say “courage” some call it recklessness.
Some people say “Honor” some call it blind adherence.
“Normal” under what conditions?
“average” in what culture?
“Honest” to which master?
“Loyal” to all causes?
“Educated” to what end.
“Smart” in which area?

“A young man sittin’ on the witness stand
The man with the book says “Raise your hand”
“Repeat after me, I solemnly swear”
The man looked down at his long hair
And although the young man solemnly swore
Nobody seems to hear anymore
And it didn’t really matter if the truth was there
It was the cut of his clothes and the length of his hair
And the lonely voice of youth cries
“What is truth?”
(Johnny Cash What is truth?)

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By Shenonymous, May 10, 2008 at 6:18 am Link to this comment

Looking for truth-tellers can be a dangerous game of self-deception. The opinion of Matt Kosko is not infallible.  Maybe for some it is, but not for all.  That is the danger of using the collective “we.”  His ‘lesser of two evils” argument is only partly right.  For I, and I know many others who are, am supporting a less than perfect candidate, not because we are “waiting” for a “real” candidate who “truly” represents us.  I don’t believe there will ever be the perfect candidate.  I believe not ever will there be the kind of candidate that Kosko blows his bugle for.  Therein lies the folly of searching for saviors, in thinking that one man, or woman, can represent an entire hodgepodge population and for a multitude of diverse problems.  One is compelled to play the numbers game.  Not the lesser of the evils, but who provides the most.  Kosko spells out in a distillation style of critique, the shortcomings of the candidates, their collective lack of criticism of Israel, their collective opinion about Iraq, their collective deficient plans to “fix” the domestic problems, “boiling” down specifics to one insufficient pot.  This is not responsible criticism.  The candidates do have different platforms.  Kosko has not listened well or he is engaging in selective hearing.  At his call for endorsing a candidate that supports abortion rights, civil rights for gays, true universal healthcare through a single payer system, and doesn’t want to export American power and aggression abroad, I just want to point out one small fact, Kosko falls short of naming anyone.  Seeing problems is so much easier than offering solutions, isn’t it? 

Be careful what you put you foot down on, as what you think is terra firma may actually be mere rhetoric.  Some touch against the brutal empire is better than no touch is another argument.  What might look like soft to some in the case of Obama has an equal chance of turning into granite.

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By Max Shields, May 10, 2008 at 5:21 am Link to this comment


We appear to agree on a number of points regarding the problem. But the critical point, the one that I’ve been trying to address is the means.

First, I will offer the link that I posted above. If you’d take a few minutes to read it. When I hear Obama speak, I do not hear what you hear.
The canaries are out (few in number because the MSM controls the communication) and they’re saying, WAIT A MINUTE. Kind of like Scott Ritter when he was jumping up and down before we invaded Iraq. And hardly anyone was paying attention.

Beyond this election, there does need to be transformative work. Yes, empires have collapsed, but this is NOW, and if we see and know it’s coming we should be working, not for a status quo president, but to begin the local transformation.

There are progressive movements which are altering the local landscape. Re-thinking and implementing a human/people economics, creating sustainable environments around local community health care, social and economic justice, deeper democracy, and much more. Not hoping for a President (none are offering it anyway) to solve the health care crisis, just one of many things going on locally.

What’s happening where you’re at?

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By cyrena, May 9, 2008 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment


I think you’ve written the best clue yet here…to what the ideology really is about..yours as opposed to the change folks….

•  “….The Dems will put a bit of a soft touch on the imperial empire, but that will not eliminate the need to sustain it through force, intervention, undermining of democratically elected governments, and the deaths of civilians and children….”

My short answer for this is….THE EMPIRE CANNOT BE SUSTAINED.

There it is. We’re in need of a NEW VIEW Max…NEW IDEAS. CHANGE. That requires some imagination, and it requires thinking in ways that most of us simply have not considered, EVEN THOUGH this Fascist regime has been able to create an alternative reality that many folks have bought into. The difference is that we just bought what they were selling, instead of figuring out what we actually needed, and demanding that instead.

HOWEVER, the REJECTION of Empire status, brought about by clear thinking about ‘which to choose’ is NOT a ‘new’ concept. Other Empires have faced this same question in the past. To be (an Empire) or NOT to be (an Empire)…THAT is the question.

It’s also one that you obviously haven’t considered, (which surprises me). Again, it is not a new thing. Not only have former Empires needed to make this choice, (Rome, Britain, France) but right here in Corporate America, pragmatic (and yes greedy) CEO’s and CFO’s, have encountered the same. I remember a series of conferences held by my own former CEO at least 2 decades ago, which put exactly this on the table.

Now of course this was after the ‘decision’ had already been reached, and of course it was worded for employee consumption, and not provided as a ‘choice’ but rather as a forewarning. Still, the rhetoric was easy enough…We can downsize and become smaller, or we can expand and grow larger, but….WE CANNOT REMAIN THE SAME, for all of the reasons that were then presented.

It is true that the US cannot maintain it’s long held Empire and now sole superpower status WITHOUT what has now become the STANDARD use of force, intervention, and the undermining of democratically elected governments, and jillions upon jillions of deaths of innocents around the globe. HOWEVER, it also cannot maintain the status by continuing that. The continuing of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive force whenever and wherever, for reasons of plundering resources, (and that IS the only reason for it now) or for reasons of competing with China for the same, is a murder-suicide undertaking. There is nothing anywhere out there, that suggests that we could survive (collectively or individually) the suicidal part of it. It is already in the works.

When we fail to make those decisions on our own, (to cease being an empire) the choice is made for us. When we make make decisions based on bad data, or a reality that doesn’t connect with anything else, the same results occur.

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By cyrena, May 9, 2008 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment

I see this far more successful and proactive thinking/ideology in the Movement that Barack Obama has helped to create, or at least harness. But, it is NOT the “Democratic Party” that YOU are apparently familiar with. Rather, it is a new party emerging from that old and now useless one. It is the old and useless one that continues to avoid the question, or the will to cease being an Empire, just because they’ve either never even CONSIDERED such alternatives, or because they’re unwilling to give up the IDEOLOGY that provides the foundation for the mindset.

A NEW mentality, or a NEW ideology, is what the progressive Democrats are about, and at this point, it is Barack Obama who is at the most viable center of it. Your major problem here is your insistence that the Democrats, (or even the repuglicans for that matter) are the same as they’ve been for 60 or so years, and that’s just not the reality any longer. Until you can toss all of those old ideological associations out, and consider new stuff, you’ll be unable to see or even consider the possibilities of CHANGE, which is more than a ‘rhetorical’ slogan or oratory. Because, the CHANGE is a GIVEN, and always has been, and it will continue to happen, whether we like it or not, and whether we are the military sole power or not. 

The point is to recognize the direction of the change that is going to happen ANYWAY,  (on the Global level) and fit our own agenda to that, to best take advantage of it. That could mean ceasing to be an Empire in the sense of military might and superiority. Actually, I think that we MUST find other ways, (besides the use of military force) to acquire the resources that we need. I’m convinced that the Progressive Movement that Obama represents is aware of that.

The Bush Doctrine hasn’t worked Max, and I’m willing to admit that the doctrine didn’t originate with this Gangster Regime, although there is no ignoring the PNAC as the foundation of its most destructive stage to date. Still, it was the Carter Doctrine that first created policy from the need for the US to assure it’s forever access to crucial resources. I don’t believe that it was in his original thinking that we would eventually have troops in 140 countries of the world, in ADVANCE of our hardware, and then to remain beyond forever and ever to keep up the maintenance of it. Still, that’s what the Bush Doctrine has turned it into. Even the briefest glance at the reality of that can and should tell us that such a policy CANNOT be sustained, without killing ourselves in the process.

So yeah, you can site the history all you want, and I’m all for doing exactly that…because there are some fundamental lessons to be gained from that history. But to cite it in defeatist terms, as if it must continue in the same vein, is exactly what we need to change.

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By Max Shields, May 9, 2008 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment


I understand your point. It is very clear.

But the problem remains. Voting for a D will simply continue what we have. My disdain for Bush’s policies are as deep as any here. But stepping back you see he is the result of so much that comes before him. Iraq invasion and occupation is not in some kind of George W. Bush box. It is a long bipartisan legacy. Perhaps only Jimmy Carter struggled with it; and lost.

In any case, here’s something you may find worth considering
Is That All There Is?
McCain, Clinton, Obama and the Wages of Lesser-Evilism

When do we put our foot down and say NO MORE!!

Obama is of the system and while he might add a maddening softer touch, but the engines of empire are brutal.


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By Max Shields, May 9, 2008 at 9:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I understand your point. You are making a political calculation based on lesser of two evils.

You are calculating that if we are to do something to undo the mess, than vote for the Dem.

We have reached such a low that it will take little to rise above it; but it will be totally inadequate.

You are willing (through your vote) to ignore what seems very evident that Obama is pretty much a Bill Clintoneque re-tread (you wouldn’t say that). That softer is better (a few hypothetically few killed and maimed and done from the air rather than the ground to keep it polically palatable.)

You don’t need to justify your vote. There will be millions for a variety of reasons who will do the same as they have time and again. It is after all winner take all…

But real peace, Ernest? I don’t see it in your calculation.


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By cann4ing, May 9, 2008 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

I sincerely appreciate the civility of recent posts.  But I can’t help but add an observation.  While, like you Max, I have reservations about an Obama presidency, there is one thing that John McCain has made clear.  If McCain is elected, the perpetual war bearing the Orwellian label “war on terror” and the illegal and brutal occupation of Iraq will continue.  A vote for Obama is not a guarantee of peace, but I can guarantee you that a vote for McCain is a vote for war.

Every vote that goes to Nader is one less vote that will be received by Obama thereby increasing by one vote the chance that McCain will be elected.  So while I appreciate the sentiment behind the salutation, “peace,” I am not sure that it fits under the circumstance.

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By Shenonymous, May 8, 2008 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

I pay you my respect.  Nader will always be a symbol.  All things not being perfect, especially the world of human beings, we play the hand we are dealt.  It takes great skill to win when there are no cards.  Bush’s one service has cost the world millions of lives. A costly way to show an ugly underbelly.  Each of those lives were worth something, not only to their families but to the race of humans. And more than that, he and his clansmen have plundered this country in untold number of ways as well as those abroad.  Either we believe all humans have the right to life, the right to a decent life, or we pretend and lie so we can wrest it all away from the weaker and exist as hypocrites.

Yes, peace, Max.  We shouldn’t just hope for the best, we must work to make it the best.  I will stay awake, and there is no doubt that you will too.

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By Max Shields, May 8, 2008 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment


I appreciate your expounding on your political journey. It is very helpful.

Whether I vote for Nader or not will not be based on his electability. It is a personal decision.

I agree that Ralph Nader is not a politician. At this time, he has no party nor movement. He is a symbol, a gold standard, if you will. And so when I said some time ago, Viva Nader, it was with that in mind.

The net result of the Democratic primary process is much as it has always been. The Dems will put a bit of a soft touch on the imperial empire, but that will not eliminate the need to sustain it through force, intervention, undermining of democratically elected governments, and the deaths of civilians and children. It has been the case for some time regardless of parties. Iraq came at a particular time when communication brought us to certain conclusions sooner than say, the Korean and Vietnam wars and numerous invasion between each regardless of administration. In all cases, changing this course has been almost impossible. These are deep systemic problems that cannot be changed through the very process that sustains it.

The American Empire was never more apparent than under the Bush administration and the Iraq and Afganistan invasions and occupations. He has done one service (and unbearable as it has been) by laying bare the ugly underbelly of empire.

Until the “gold standard” becomes our national standard I’ll continue to push and shove in the tradition of the nations great activists and some say patriots.


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By Shenonymous, May 8, 2008 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

I need to apologize to Dr. Ammari as I realized I addressed him incorrectly.

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By Shenonymous, May 8, 2008 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment

You see, Max, at one time I was a full-fledged supporter of Ralph Nader.  He walked on water, and maybe that is not a good thing as when gods fall, they fall hard.  I guess elevating people is a bad habit of mine.  I sometimes make mistakes about “friends” too.  I am also less than perfect.  However, Nader didn’t win in 1992, he didn’t win a second time, 1996, or a third, 2000, or a fourth time, 2004, and he hasn’t a bloody chance this time.  I do believe he ruined the Florida vote.  That is water through the Ganges and does not invalidate his claims of what is wrong with American politics.  I still listen to him, as he is brilliant.  But he is not a politician.  I listen to Noam Chomsky too.  He is not a politician and knows it.  Nader could not move this nation politically.  Just as Chomsky exerts influence on the politics of our nation, Nader too can influence the direction it goes. If, that is, he would condescend to do so. 

I was committed to the John Edwards campaign, but I was also impressed by Mr. Kucinich’s platform.  And I vacillated and miserated between the two of them for months.  However, the fact is, like Nader, Kucinich did not activate the nation in 2004 nor in 2008.  Although I thought he had the best overall ideas, I felt John Edwards could make the better candidate against any Republican candidate. And that was my primary objective.  However, John Edwards was unable to reach let alone surpass the momentum by Obama and Clinton.  He saw the writing on the wall about the same time as Kucinich.  The reasons for the failed campaigns of all three of these fine-minded men are as eclectic as they can be.  Powerful forces are at work and are still at work to control this nation.  In different ways you and Ernest Canning and Nabih Ammari have spelled many of them out.  I happen to agree with Mr. Ammari completely.  Whatever political theories and criticisms there are against the Democrats just doesn’t matter in this race for the White House.  What you are so eloquently arguing for and against must be dealt with outside of this election.  It must be dealt with by electing Congressmen and local politicians who really are progressive Democrats and who will work with a president who can prove himself to be progressive as well.  I don’t argue that your assessment is wrong, I argue that the office of the president must be won by a Democrat even if the candidates are Repub lite.  It is important to this nation that the word Democrat is the name of the political party that wins.  If you want to call that bowing to the lesser of evils, so be it.  And between Obama and Clinton, I choose Obama’s heart and mind. This time my eyes are wide open, I know he is not a god. 

You know, there are plenty of congressional races going on at the same time as the presidential campaign.  Focus ought to be on those candidates as well to place “real” progressive Democrats in those offices.  They seem to be a forgotten tribe in the wake and glamour of the presidential election.

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By Max Shields, May 8, 2008 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

Many of my comments below are not completely in response to your post. It’s apparent that while you do seem to take the lesser evil process, you do it with a good deal of trepidation.


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By Max Shields, May 8, 2008 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

If Dems were true progressives Nader wouldn’t even be in the “race”. It’s quite clear what does Dems in is their lack of authenticity. Obama is right out of the DLC playbook.

Have we no collective memory? Don’t you hear the echo of Bill Clinton (Mr. Hope), Gore and Kerry. This aint new, there’s no change there (or there there). We all wished they were progressives but everything they did was to appease the right. In Clinton’s case he got in and we got NAFTA, working poor, three strikes your out (made the prison business boom; and put away a few million minorities for long term sentences), then there was Bosnia, Somolia, constant air raids on Iraq… This is the DLC program. And what were the progressive programs? Oh yea, “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Very apropo!

I wouldn’t be bringing this up but during that time the Dem progressives were pretty much moot on all these issues. It was a Dem pres after all, one they voted for, and he was out Reaganing Reagan. Even Newt had to grin…

That’s the DLC MO. And Obama has it. “Put his feet to a fire?” First you got to get to his feet - and you aint about to once he ensconsed behind the fortress.

He’s (Obama) already told you (take your hands off your ears) he thinks Reagan had some good ideas. He’s slapping down the progressives with “we can all get together”. (Read Dixon if you need what we all know to be articulated in one place.) And what do progressives do? They make up stories and tell one another he’s one of us; and tell anyone within ear shot to VOTE FOR OBAMA. It’s not enough these Dem Progressives feel the need to do their duty - they want us all to do the same…

But you’re right it’s the choice the major parties left us with, Repub and Repub lite.

Progressives???? Start a movement, start a party, join the Greens, but don’t look for any thing progressive in the next administration. (True it won’t be Bush.)

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By Amon Drool, May 8, 2008 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

congrats to all for winding down this thread in a civil tone wink

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By Shenonymous, May 8, 2008 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

But but but but but, Max Shields, my point is we have to work with the materials we have, so says the little tailor.  I know we cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but if given the American population has one of the lowest of literate people in the developed world (reference please as I have some doubts), if that is so, than that is the material that will vote and they predominantly think they are Democrats (especially the voting illiterati).  The fact that we have a consumption-based economy is irrelevant to the specific issue of who to vote for because consumption is not going to diminish, and I believe not ever.  Only the lack of consumer goods will sharpen the discontent of the voters.  And less money as the economy tightens.  But that is cyclical and will spiral upward again as soon as its sea legs are recovered.  Remember Corporate America wills it.  It is like an unfeeling machine just waiting for the opportune moment to slip in its perfectly shaped chip into the empty space.

I agree Obama must speak to all you are talking about.  And it is our responsibility to make him speak.  I have signed onto his website and I send questions every day about the very things you point out.  And I refuse to send him a dollar until he starts speaking to those issues.  For every answer he gives to my satisfaction I will make a donation.  I too am waiting for answers, but there are other mitigating factors, however, that determines my vote.  And Nabih mentions a couple that he makes excruciatingly clear.  Those cannot be ignored, period.  Yes, I am taking a leap of faith insofar as I cannot know Obama’s exact thoughts.  Your criticisms and Bruce Dixon’s are valid but they do not sway me from voting for the Democrat.  If it is a fact that the DLC is controlling the Democratic Party, then the non-DLC Democrats must be smart enough to take it back just as we have to take back our country from the voracious conservative Republicans.  Obama must be made to answer the charges in Dixon’s article (and I don’t know that what Dixon’s charges is true; how could I or ordinary Americans know that?).  And between now and election day and even afterward, I intend to put whatever insignificant pressure I as one person, one middle class person, can bring to the table and keep my questions going right to the top. There is no one like Perot even in anyone’s wildest dreams to siphon votes off the Republican party?  I heard Newt Gingrich has toyed with the idea. He won’t run.  But Nader could do it to the Democrats, maybe.  I have serious doubts he could at this stage of the game.  But I never say never.  The fat lady hasn’t even showed up yet to start singing.  June will certainly tell the tale and size up what needs to be done by November.

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By Max Shields, May 8, 2008 at 10:13 am Link to this comment


“Do you have a crystal ball and thereby you know the mind of each of these candidates.  You are guessing based on your observations, that cannot be argued.  The fact, as you say, that even fundamental changes cannot be made because it requires an educated electorate is a self-defeating premise.”

To your comment above. I’ve provided a number of indicators based on voting records and the conditions under which those were done, which I think gives credence to my judgement of each candidate. You are doing the same, but I’m challenging your assumptions given the record.

It is not self-defeating to understand that we have one of the lowest literate (people who can and do read) in the developed world and that we have an economy that thrives on consumption (consumers). These are forces which must be reakoned with if real change is to happen. I have yet to hear from Obama on even the issue of American literacy. He is not challenging Americans with a vision. It’s all transcendent.

So I think it is you who are taking a giant leap of faith with Obama. He’s very articulate (in speeches), and they have just the right modulation and metaphor to rouse a crowd. But there is no movement behind it - NONING to sustain it. The youth are rallying around voting day and the horse race. That’s all. It will land flat at the end (that is a predication).

The Democratic Party has been pretty much taken over by the DLC. It is, as you know, a Republican-lite arm of the Dem Party. Obama has been thoroughly vetted by the DLC and has “made the grade”, as did Hillary. Certainly there is a distinction between personalities - Obama / McCain.

But Obama’s core support (the ones that have his ear now and will even more so if he becomes POTUS) will ensure that their agenda is followed; ala Bill Clinton. Obama is only progressive when the corporate media feels the urge to label and when the Repubs start to attack. As Bruce Dixon has written (and many others as well, mostly progressive Blacks)Obama is pretty much a Conservative Dem (voting record and his lack of taking stands except when he needs to jettison his pastor for pol reasons belie the “progrssive label).

Heres’ the link to Dixon’s article (

We’ve had the DLC talking points for 25 years. It usually fails except when someone like Perot syphons off votes from the Repub giving us WJC.

To be more specific, the real work is local and there is much activity going on throughout the country and it is not Progressive Dems who are leading the charge. It is a progressive/green social and economic transformation at the local level where change is deep and real. The growth of workers’ cooperatives, community businesses, local living economies, innovative community building - that’s the real work. Not a “vote” for some transcendent candidate.

I realize the choices are limited if you’re betting on a “winner”, but it is the expectations that need a reality check; and the energy spent on a sizzle of a horse race needs to be there for the more important work…and I’m doubtful that Obamamania is more than a one trick pony.

Just some thoughts

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By cann4ing, May 8, 2008 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

With a slight modification, I concur with a portion of what Max has to say.  It would be more accurate to state that “casting a vote will not, of itself, alter the fundamental problems.”  Most progressives who support Obama do not believe him to be a savior whose election will, of itself, remedy all that is wrong with this nation at this time.

But with the choice coming down to Obama vs. McCain, electing Obama is a critical first step.  It is essential that we, who call ourselves progressives, come to grips with the fact that the words “Republican Party” are a misnomer; that we are really dealing with the American Fascist Party.  It is essential that we halt the slide into fascism and executive lawlessness as a critical first step.  And that can be achieved only if McCain is soundly defeated at the polls.

I am not certain whether mass civil disobedience, such as converting the recent work stoppage by Longshoremen against the Iraq war into a general strike will ultimately be required, but I am certain that a President Obama would be far more receptive to progressive legislation than a President McCain.

I have noted, Max, your tendency towards Manichean dichotomy not only with respect to the presidential candidates but with respect to the electoral system as a whole.  All politics is local, and, if one thinks long term (as opposed to Nov. 2008) then the means to true means to meaningful progressive change becomes visible—the ongoing challenge of corporate Dems by progressive dems in district after district.  That is what PDA is all about.

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By Shenonymous, May 8, 2008 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

Sorry, pardon this somehow double post.

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By Shenonymous, May 8, 2008 at 8:30 am Link to this comment

Yes, CY, we have already noted the relative meaning truth could have.  However, even in the face of relativism, there is a Truth to which all truth is akin.  The universal Truth that serves as the model for all contextual truths.  If there was not a universal truth, there would be no recognition that it even exists since all would have only their own equally valid opinion, certainly not truth.  This categorical mistake is what has always led to wars and allowed the greedy and seekers of power to believe their truth is better than any other’s.

It seems Max Shields, there is a two-pronged argument going on here.  I don’t think most of us are arguing against some of the points you are making.  It just seems that way.  But you make unresolved statements that obfuscate the issues. You said,

“...what is happening at the very core of the economic demise here in the US.  The candidates - all three - will not touch this issue. Not now and not once in office.  Because these are fundamental changes requiring an educated electorate (no candidate has the courage to provide such an agenda) and the fact that the system, particularly the powerful corporate aspect to the existing system will have nothing to do with this problem of US economic collapse, the next president will approach the economy as those who’ve come before.” 

You make a prediction about whoever becomes president, but you do not finish your thought.  Do you have a crystal ball and thereby you know the mind of each of these candidates.  You are guessing based on your observations, that cannot be argued.  The fact, as you say, that even fundamental changes cannot be made because it requires an educated electorate is a self-defeating premise.  And, it is not even certain that that is a fact.  It is a hypothesis.  And it promises that no change is ever possible.  And if that is the case, in reality, then why moan about it.  According to your logic, it is hopeless no matter who becomes president.  But it is more than what you portray.  Not all is left up to a president.  But one of these candidates is more reasonable than the other two.  Since there is a congress wherein resolutions, laws, and policies are also generated, a willingness-to-compromise president will effect change.  Obama, as green as he is accused of being, is an intelligent and reasonable man.  His platform is to be a force of change.  Were it the fantastical case that Nader were to be elected, what kind of a scene can we imagine would there be between him and congress?  You cannot think they would be more than only slightly cooperative and he would be just as effective a president as GWB.  I do think, on the other hand, that Obama has a better chance of effecting change.  We cannot be paralyzed because of the fact that he is not perfect.  It is hard to imagine that you can be convinced beyond your already entrenched beliefs.  Most decidedly it is not clear how this election will play out in the long run even if Obama is elected. 

You make some strong arguments and give some facts but they are only beacons not directions.  They are lights, not paths.  You would be much more effective if you were to understand the actual resource of the American people to effect change with the facts at hand.  There are three and only three viable candidates.  Soon there will be two who shall be opponents.  Nabih Ammari makes a powerful case on how to make the decision of casting one’s vote.

You should do the same.

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By Shenonymous, May 8, 2008 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

Yes, CY, we have already noted the relative meaning truth could have.  However, even in the face of relativism, there is a Truth to which all truth is akin.  The universal Truth that serves as the model for all contextual truths.  If there was not a universal truth, there would be no recognition that it even exists since all would have only their own equally valid opinion, certainly not truth.  This categorical mistake is what has always led to wars and allowed the greedy and seekers of power to believe their truth is better than any other’s.

It seems Max Shields, there is a two-pronged argument going on here.  I don’t think most of us are arguing against some of the points you are making.  It just seems that way.  But you make unresolved statements that obfuscate the issues. You said,

“...what is happening at the very core of the economic demise here in the US.  The candidates - all three - will not touch this issue. Not now and not once in office.  Because these are fundamental changes requiring an educated electorate (no candidate has the courage to provide such an agenda) and the fact that the system, particularly the powerful corporate aspect to the existing system will have nothing to do with this problem of US economic collapse, the next president will approach the economy as those who’ve come before.” 

You make a prediction about whoever becomes president, but you do not finish your thought.  Do you have a crystal ball and thereby you know the mind of each of these candidates.  You are guessing based on your observations, that cannot be argued.  The fact, as you say, that even fundamental changes cannot be made because it requires an educated electorate is a self-defeating premise.  And, it is not even certain that that is a fact.  It is a hypothesis.  And it promises that no change is ever possible.  And if that is the case, in reality, then why moan about it.  According to your logic, it is hopeless no matter who becomes president.  But it is more than what you portray.  Not all is left up to a president.  But one of these candidates is more reasonable than the other two.  Since there is a congress wherein resolutions, laws, and policies are also generated, a willingness-to-compromise president will effect change.  Obama, as green as he is accused of being, is an intelligent and reasonable man.  His platform is to be a force of change.  Were it the fantastical case that Nader were to be elected, what kind of a scene can we imagine would there be between him and congress?  You cannot think they would be more than only slightly cooperative and he would be just as effective a president as GWB.  I do think, on the other hand, that Obama has a better chance of effecting change.  We cannot be paralyzed because of the fact that he is not perfect.  It is hard to imagine that you can be convinced beyond your already entrenched beliefs.  Most decidedly it is not clear how this election will play out in the long run even if Obama is elected. 

You make some strong arguments and give some facts but they only beacons not directions.  They are lights, not paths.  You would be much more effective if you were to understand the actual resource of the American people to effect change with the facts at hand.  There are three and only three viable candidates.  Soon there will be two who shall be opponents.  Nabih Ammari makes a powerful case on how to make the decision of casting one’s vote.

You should do the same.

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By Conservative Yankee, May 8, 2008 at 5:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“truth” is ephemeral. Not a rock, but a cushion. “Truth” differs from culture to culture, time to time, and even person to person.

Your “truth” may not be generally accepted, even though you maay well be an honorable person.

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By Max Shields, May 8, 2008 at 5:24 am Link to this comment

Nabih Ammari I realize you are addressing - in some fashion - the post by Hayden.

Casting a vote will not alter the fundamental problems. And I think you’ve mentioned that. In fact, because the candidates - all - have repeated (and there is absolutely no reason to think they are lying or simply saying what needs to be said to get elected in this case) that they are strong advocates for exactly what is at bottom the economic collapse of the US (it is but one massively falterning component, to be sure).

All fully support - here the Dems equivocate but are basically in line - with free trade and an economy based on uneconomic growth. The Dem and Repub mantra concerning all US economic ills is “we’ll grow our way out of the economic problem/crisis”.

On Democracy Now! Kevin Phillips (recent book Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism) discusses in some detail what is happening at the very core of the economic demise here in the US. The candidates - all three - will not touch this issue. Not now and not once in office. Why? Because these are fundamental changes requiring an educated electoriat (no candidate has the courage to provide such an agenda)and the fact that the system, particularly the powerful corporate aspect to the existing system will have nothing to do with this problem of US economic collapse, the next president will approach the economy as those who’ve come before. As Phillips points out the very metrics that we run the system by such as unemployment and GDP are all erroneous (lies!) that have been cooked and flattened much like plastic surgery that’s been applied one too many times. And the rest of the world’s not buying it.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The talk by these candidates does not waver from one election to the next. In fact, none even address the Iraq occupation with any candor except as political posturing.

While Obama has excited some people who see the last 8 years as horrific (and they’ve been that) he has yet to convince me that he has the capacity, the spine, and the intellectual fortitude (not to be confused with intelligenc) to even begin to touch the deep systemic problem America faces.

In no way do I think McCain nor Hillary are capable. But the latter is just about out of this race (if not out) and is simply a strawman for those who need something to measure Obama. It is not clear how this will play out in the General. But if we stop measuring Obama against the demonized versions of his opposition, we may actually stop fooling ourselves. As I’ve said before, this is not American Idol; and thinking that this is all about good guy / bad guy misses the point entirely.

I realize this is not a citizens activist blog, but a Dem blog (with exceptions) and so all things uttered here are put through that prism.


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By Shenonymous, May 8, 2008 at 4:17 am Link to this comment

The ring of truth is always loud and clear…for those open to hearing it. 

Thank you Nabih for your well spoken comments.

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By Nabih Ammari, May 7, 2008 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Subject:Ralph Nader and current dire conditions.

I have been an attentive observant of the political scenes since the good ol’ days of President Dwight D.
Eisenhower.I must say that I have not seen worst dire,dreadful,and totally horrendous economical, financial,political and security conditions as I have seen in the last seven years and four months and seven days.In past posts I had warned about the historical parallel which had/has existed between the Soviet Union military invasion and occupation of
Afghanistan from 1979-1989 which contributed great deal to the demise of the Soviet Union,and the American invasion and occupation of Iraq since March
of 2003.That is only five years and one month and seven days.By way of sequential logical common sense,
the fate of the U.S. in Iraq will not be better than
Soviet Union in Afghanistan,if the U.S. continues its
occupation of Iraq for another five years.In short, what one sees in skyrocketing gasoline prices,soaring in food prices,almost total collapse in the housing industry because of the wide spread of foreclosures All these and more are connected to the Dick/Bush’s war in Iraq,which has been run on borrowed money from foreign countries,mainly from China and Japan.Because of this huge accumulated debt to foreign countries the value of the once mighty American dollar has been in a free fall.Seven years ago,one Euro could only buy $0.96 Now,one Euro buys $1.56 and one can extrapolate for other currencies.

Therefore,the next President will do will if he or she can stop the hemorrhage in blood and treasures
and stop the fast deterioration of the cost of foods
and health care for the poor and the middle class
which really was hit very hard.

To overcome the enormous damages Dick/Bush will leave
behind on January,2009,will take several generations
of Americans,lead by dedicated,honest,sincere and
truly implacable leaders of the quality of Dennise
Kucinich and Ralph Nader.Otherwise,the same deteriorating conditions will continue till the
inevitable collapse,precisely as it had happened to the Soviet Union.All the writings are on the walls
from coast to coast,for the wise a people to take notes.

As to those who want to vote for Ralph Nader,I feel I must point out the following points:

(1)Ralph Nader has served the American people in countless ways.Only fools would deney him such honor.
As far as I am concerned he should have been President 30 years ago.If he could not build a really
competing third party since then,I feel it is now like swimming in an ocean to try to do it in less than seven month.I had voted for him in 2000 Presidential election.I will not do so this year.

(2)Ralph Nader is more than 70 years old.To me,John
McCain is too old to be alert enough to be President.
Sometimes,a simple incident or event can tell volumes
about the alertness of an individual.The incident I have in mind took place in the middle of the old ruins of a town called called Jarash in Jordan.McCain
responding to a reporter’s question could not answer
correctly without the intervention of the omni-present companion,Senator Joe Lieberman.I saw the whole sad scene with my own eyes and heard the responses with my own ears,in spite of my slight hard hearing.If McCain ‘s age seems to be a problem for me,so is Ralph Nader’s age,by way of deduction.No difference,in spite of my admiration to Nader’s
splendid services to the American people.

(3)Casting a protest vote for Nader will not stop the
hemorrhage in blood and treasures referred to in the forgoing,let alone solving the horrendous problems the American people are facing,nationally and on the
international stage.

Let us all try to use our conscience when we vote and
cast our votes to the candidate who will just stop the dreadful bleeding going on in blood and treasures that have been going on for the last seven years.Yes,
just that.Yes,just that,and yes,just that.
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By Amon Drool, May 7, 2008 at 11:27 am Link to this comment

well…..i guess i lied.  i’m back on this thread.  i saw cyrena’s post and linked to truthout.  there it was again…the usual pap about this being a “transcendent” campaign.  it took about 3 paragraphs for me to realize i’ve got better things to do with my time.  i came across this article by margaret kimberly today.  google “freedom rider: the end of truth.”  some of the comments are even better than the article.

jeezus…for me, it’s down to about 55% to 45% in favor of voting for obama. uh-boy

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By cann4ing, May 7, 2008 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

I was please to find, in the 5/7/05 NY Times lead editorial, the precise point I was trying to convey to Max Shields as to one of the many reasons why it is so vital to defeat John McCain.

“While Democrats voted in North Carolina…and in Indiana…, Mr. McCain spoke about his judicial philosophy.  He is determined to move a far too conservative and far too activist Supreme Court and federal judiciary even further and more actively to the right.

“Mr. McCain predictably criticized liberal judges, vowed strict adherence to the founders views and promised to appoint more judges in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito….

“Since President Bush chose Justices Roberts and Alito, the court has ordered Seattle and Louisville to scrap voluntary school integration, protected employers who illegally mistreat their workers and constrained a woman’s right to chose and citizens’ right to vote.

“McCain did not mention…how the Roberts-led court blithely overruled Congress by nullifying an important provision of the McCain-Feingold finance law.  He did wax nostalgic about ‘the basic right of property’ has meant ‘since the founding of America.’  (He did not mention that in 1789, many women could not own property and African-Americans were property, but he did criticize the idea that values evolve over time.)”

The Times editorial called to mind an observation made by Senator Kennedy during the 1991 Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings:  “If we confirm a nominee who has not demonstrated a commitment to core constitutional values, we jeopardize our rights as individuals and the future of our nation.  We cannot undo such a mistake at the next election or even in the next generation.”

Kennedy’s admonition has even greater force now, for a John McCain presidency portends to the appointment of a fifth member of the Supreme Court from the radically subversive, Robert Bork-founded, Richard Mellon Scaife-funded Federalist Society—all of whom would defer such issues as warrantless NSA spying on Americans, torture and the elimination of basic civil rights to the “Unitary Executive.”  This nation’s downward slide into fascism would then be complete.

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By cyrena, May 6, 2008 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

Dear Shenonymous,

Thanks so much for this follow-up. Hopefully we all appreciate your efforts as well. I think most of us are tied-up with the day to day trails and tribulations of getting thru this..or as I say, putting one foot in front of the other. It’s difficult to try to maintain under current circumstances, and still find some energy somewhere to add to the greater effort.

A little bit goes a long way though, when we can share the work.

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By Shenonymous, May 6, 2008 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

Sorry for some typos.  It should read,

The Truthout editorial “What Obama Can’t Do for the Progressive Movement” puts it all in perspective in plain terms that all but the illiterate can understand.

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By Shenonymous, May 6, 2008 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

Fortunate for “progressive” Democrats, we have someone like cyrena who has the time to do the research and raise the lantern of alert to bring clarity to the issues most striking in this forum.  Most of us who are deeply concerned but are swamped with life’s travails suspect these insights and conditions at a less than conscious level but who have given voice to them in various ways as best they can.  The Truthout editorial “What Obama Can’t Do for the Progressive Movement” puts is al in perspective in plain terms that all but the illiterate can understand.  My thanks again to cyrena who is a soldier of conscience for all of us.

I thoroughly read the article.  It is a fact of history that the best way to effect change is through the mechanism of assimilation.  Assimilation gives a better chance for trust to form and facilitate desirable changes.  Most people find mental niches in which they are comfortable and usually resort to an Occam’s Razor mode of deciding almost everything that needs a decision.  They will always choose the easiest route to achieve the objective of living an unencumbered life.  This line of least resistance is so routine that it becomes entrenched as a way of operating that it takes something furious to shake them out of their almost ineradicably comfortable beliefs.  This is especially true of political beliefs, or apathy about making political decisions.  Change is difficult. 

My point is that if progressives want to effect change, it cannot be done with overly sophisticated shouting.  The psychology of changing the mentally entrenched or the politically apathetic is to find their tone and their language that will open their minds to your justifiable cause.  Buzz words are not enough, but convincing logic in the vernacular of those you wish to join your cause is the imperative. 

If you want to call yourselves progressives that is fine, but know that you are limiting your audience to only those who understand your language.  You must speak in the tongue of the common people.  All great leaders, whether they were moral leaders or not, knew this.  It is the deciding factor that impels people to action, to register to vote, then vote.  When Lakoff and Rockridge say voters are motivated by shared values, what I am saying essentially echoes that observation.  I would go further to say it is ONLY through shared values that the greatest numbers will be persuaded to joining a just cause.  What is called the Conservative nightmare and the Progressive solution of waking up ought to be exposed under the right names so that the public can begin to unite.  It is the Republican nightmare, and the Democratic solution.  Obama is a Democrat and that is how he will be listed on the ballot.  The word progressive is not identified as Democratic.  If progressives want to be known as that, then they ought to start associating the word progressive with the word Democrat, relentlessly.

Ernest Canning speaks the truth.  He presents crystal clear arguments.  We know Obama is not perfect.  My god, look at the utter inarticulate agent of treachery we have had as president for the last eight years.  Again, while Obama is not perfect, he is articulate and he has lit the enthusiasm of literally millions, both black and white, and is inspiring our young voters who will become the leaders in the future. 

I encourage you to read that Truthout article as it presents lucid and acute arguments for the candidacy of Barack Obama and I think there are no arguments against it.

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By cann4ing, May 6, 2008 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

correction.  The corporate Dems secured control of both Houses by lying to the American public about Iraq, then rolled over by giving Bush every supplemental he asked for.  Obama and Clinton both voted for some of those supplementals.  Only Kucinich had the clarity to oppose funding throughout.  You don’t “support the troops” by enabling Bush to leave them in harm’s way.  You betray them!

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By cann4ing, May 6, 2008 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

Fair enough, Max.  Here are a few.  Obama offers a comprehensive plan that would redirect internal U.S. investment into green technologies which includes an “increase in funding for federal workforce training programs” which would be required “to incorporate green technologies training….”  He would create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth.”  He advocates a “Renewable Portfolio Standard…that will require 25% of American electricity be derived from renewable sources by 2025” which he contends has “the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs…”

“Obama believes that workers should have the freedom to chose whether to join a union without or intimidation from their employers.  Obama cosponsored…the Employee Free Choice Act…”  He has “fought the Bush NLRB efforts to strip workers of their right to organize.  He is a co-sponsor of legislation to overturn the NLRB’s “Kentucky River” decisions classifying hundreds of thousands of nurses, construction, and professional workers as ‘supervisors’ who were not protected by federal law.”  He supports the right to strike and a ban on “permanent replacement of striking workers…”

Obama appears to support net neutrality, noting that “network providers should not be allowed to charge fees to privilege the content or applications of some web sites and internet applications.”

These are positions substantially similar to the ones taken by Ralph Nader on these limited topics.  They are fundamentally at odds with what Bush/Cheney have done and what McCain would do.

Max, in an earlier post you said that I could not name but a tiny handful of progressive Dems in Congress.  Actually, I think the numbers in the “Out-of-Iraq” caucus have grown to more than one third of the Dems in the House.  Whatever the actual number, they far exceed the number of Greens in the House of Representatives, which is zero.  So much for the success of the Nader third party strategy.

Yes, the corporatists are in control of the Democratic Party—today!  Two years ago, the Repugs controlled both the House and the Senate and people were talking about a permanent one-party state.  The corporate Dems secured control of both Houses in ‘06 by lying to the American public, then rolled over every time Bush asked for money. 

The most pragmatic means to the change “you” desire is to join with progressives to take back the Democratic Party and then take back the country.  The third party route is an exercise in futility.

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By Max Shields, May 6, 2008 at 10:20 am Link to this comment


With all your bellocosity you’ve yet to make a case for Obama. Exactly why is he (not why is Hillary or McCain not)the right leader for America?

Please, I’ve been waiting now for over a week and you’ve yet to make a case other than the other guys are just soooooo bad.

Provide some solid basis for your supporting Obama.

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By Leefeller, May 6, 2008 at 6:21 am Link to this comment


When someone labels themselves as something, in order to gain confidence, what ensues can lead to hidden planned and directed results, in the first persons best interest, not necessarily in the the perceivers. 

Questions are more in order than answers.

Me the eternal skeptic.

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By cyrena, May 6, 2008 at 1:39 am Link to this comment

I’m posting a link to an article that I’ve only just had time to read, because it is rather lengthy. In my opinion, it goes to the heart of the debate that we SHOULD be having…the public discourse that SHOULD be taking place.

There is a bit of irony in the title, because the point of the article is about the FRAMING of the public discourse, and how the conservative republicans have been so successful in creating a message machine to put their own ideas forth, and swing the mentality of the majority around to accepting their ideas as ‘the way things are supposed to be” even when the reality is otherwise.

So the title is ironic (for some) in it’s suggestion of what Obama CAN’T do for the progressive movement, when I believe that it should probably say what he can’t do ALONE for the progressive movement. (which he has basically said himself).

Be that as it may, I’m posting it here anyway, and will probably post it on another thread as well, just because I notice that we’ve lost a few readers who would probably greatly appreciate it.

Like I said, it is lengthy, but makes some really excellent points that are somehow still not seeing the light of day. Lots of excellent links/resources are included in the text, to tie it together.

What Obama Can’t Do for the Progressive Movement
  By Joe Brewer and Evan Frisch
  t r u t h o u t | Perspective
  Wednesday 30 April 2008

  ” This is an exciting time for progressives. An inspiring new approach to politics has mobilized millions of politically ambivalent citizens. There is, for the first time in our lives, a genuine optimism that we can reclaim our country from a corrupt and morally bankrupt extremist group that has hijacked the discourse - and thus the dominant institutions - of the body politic.

  And yet, there are dangers far greater than the smears we have seen so far.


A Wake Up Call for Progressives
  Obama has ignited the civic passions of millions with an inspiring call to transcend the politics of the past and deliver on the promise of a more perfect union. His campaign is grounded in the fundamental American values and principles that have brought about progressive changes throughout our history. The success of this approach, though often criticized in the media, exemplifies a basic tenet that Lakoff and the Rockridge Institute have advocated for a long time, namely that voters are motivated by shared values and authenticity.”

Continues at the link:

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By cann4ing, May 5, 2008 at 10:25 pm Link to this comment

Max Shields:  The man with all the answers and no solutions, no organization, no viable candidates and nothing concrete to offer.

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By Max Shields, May 5, 2008 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

In retrospect as we learn more about Obama, Ralph was being generous.

As far as alternatives, I’m not here to provide this group with a grand scheme. I’ve tried to show that there are alternatives.

I’ve yet to read one post that provides more than the “lessor of two evils” argument(which always leaves us with evil). Hardly a great day for democracy, or for our collective future. And with so much a stake we need to see beyond an election.

As long as blogs like the DailyKos and internet version of a Dem whip like MoveON are the “progressive” arm of the Dem party, any talk about a Kucinich kind of America is doomed.

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By Amon Drool, May 5, 2008 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment

well, i’m gonna put this thread “to bed” (at least for myself) by unchecking the notification box option. like most of u, i see max as coming up wanting when it comes to what to do next.  but i’m really with him in his scepticism of obama.  within a week’s time obama has cut off his preacher to shore up his bona fides with white people who are uncomfortable with wright.  instead of engaging wright on his weak points, he tells us that he feels bitter and betrayed.  then he tells tim russert yesterday that he’s in favor of a surge against the taliban.  hey, i’m all in favor of bringing bin laden to justice.  my opinion is that the taliban has been sufficiently chastened and will not form a firm long-term alliance with al qaeda.  i think the taliban now feel they are justified in fighting occupiers.  but of couse, obama feels he has to firm up his national security credentials.  and, of course, his ass ain’t gonna be on the line.
about 3 months ago nader commented that obama was surely a bright guy who was able to see the issues.  but he cautioned that obama had begun a process of hollowing himself out in his quest for the presidency.  ralph has proved to be spot on in his judgment.

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By Max Shields, May 5, 2008 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

Ernest Canning said: “In your little mind there is no difference between the fascists of the Bush regime and a populist like Jim Hightower or a democratic Socialist like Tom Hayden.  Why?  Because Hightower & Hayden support Obama, and we know that Obama has said things that might comfort the corporate security state in order to get elected.”

First, calling my mind little, is not the best way to make a case, however weak your case happens to be.

Hayden and Hightower are not one and the same as the Republicans; they are simply enablers. Hayden has jumped into bed with the Dems (remember he was once an activist of the first order in the ‘60s) and stayed there for 40 years, Hightower more or less the same.

During that time, the Dem Party as a whole has move further and further to the right. Should that not tell you something, Ernest? Think about it. Michael Moore was a staunch supporter, campaigned for him rigorously, Ralph Nader in 2000. Why if he thought a Dem, any Dem is better than a Repub? Why go for a guy who’s got almost no chance to win?

If Moore (and Hightower and Hayden) had said, you know what, there’s a hell of a lot of us out there. What say we create a coalition party based on progessive oriented values. There’s the Green Party and even the Progressive Libertarians, there’s even some classical conservatives who are anti-Empire. Maybe we could really change things if we took all that energy, stuck to our guns and built a formidable coalition. It will take time, and hard work, but what greater way to dedicate ourselves to transform America to the ideals we truly believe in? But no, instead they just went along with the tired old Dems. Almost 2 hundred years of shame and some glory (FDR with a bit of LBJ Great Society is really all they have to show, remember they were the pro-Slave party and have led us into most of our “wars”).

So, GWB got in and Moore says, it’s all because of Ralph that we have this nincompup. All because of Ralph Nader? Meanwhile the Dems continue to move further and further to the right, Moore seems to have some kind of hope that the war machine will come to a screeching halt, that universal single payer health care is just an election away. Or does he?

Ernest, et al, vote for who ever you want. My point is not to make a case for Nader or McKinney or anyone. My point is to put the mirror up to the Democratic Party as it has evolved and supported pretty much what GWB has been doing. To say that Obama is not of the corporate sponsored system is to just not be looking in that mirror.

The Dems do two things - threaten progressives with 4 more years of “even worse” Repub rule, or shut down any opposition that might offer the kind of alternative that many millions of Americans want and need, by saying a progressive alternative will take votes away from the “mainstream” Dem candidate.

Here’s my last point. If the Dems really cared about what you had to say, really were concerned about Nader; rather than trying to shut up the opposition by blaming Nader for “syphoning off “their” votes”, they’d do what Nader prescibes: Take his message away from him, not just in bland contradictory talking points that are transparently hypocritical, but suck up his message. MAKE A STAND FOR GOD’S SAKE!!

But that won’t happen and you can expect even less once (if) one of the Dems are elected. They’re telling you that with each conversation they have with the pundits.

(Say what you will, but the Dem Party is ruled by corporate interests. You can’t name but a tiny handful of progressive Dems in the Congress. And I do mean tiny. I wouldn’t expect those ranks to change. Obama’s message is not one of progressivism and so if he or Hillary were to be elected the message would be a tepid centrist with continued corporate military industrial complex agenda.)

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By cann4ing, May 5, 2008 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

So you won’t give it a rest, will you Max?  That is because you are amongst those ideologues who cannot understand subtle distinctions.  In your little mind there is no difference between the fascists of the Bush regime and a populist like Jim Hightower or a democratic Socialist like Tom Hayden.  Why?  Because Hightower & Hayden support Obama, and we know that Obama has said things that might comfort the corporate security state in order to get elected.

You blast any and all progressives who support Obama, claiming they are deluded fools, yet you offer no practical alternative, admitting that neither Ralph Nader nor Cynthia McKinney have a snowball’s chance.  Your prescription for electoral politics is reminiscent of the mantra of ‘60s Professor Tim O’Leary when he said to “turn on and drop out” in a drug-induced, psychedelic stupor.  You accomplish nothing but your holier-than-thou attitude, like O’Leary’s LSD, apparently makes you feel good.

You asked earlier why did the Democratic Party come after Kucinich.  The Democratic Party did not go after Kucinich.  The corporatist wing of the Democratic Party, along with cross-over Republicans, unsuccessfully went after Kucinich, just as the Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party is going after the corporatists like Nancy Pelosi, putting up and supporting progressive candidates to challenge them.

You are so blinded by your Nader-induced condemnation of the Democratic Party that you cannot see that the Democratic Party is not a monolith; you do not see that the real battle for the future of this nation is taking place “inside” the Democratic Party. So you continue, on the outside looking in, with your impotent rants against “the system;” offering no viable solution.

The fat cats of the Democratic Leadership Council have the money.  The progressives in organizations like the PDA have something far more powerful—the truth and policies that seek to meet the needs of the vast majority of the people who call themselves Democrats—the middle and working classes.

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By Max Shields, May 5, 2008 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

Russell Branca

I couldn’t say it better. Rather than re-evaluate these Tom Haydenites have continued to follow the same path taken over and again. I did - why I don’t know - actually give the Dems one more shot in 2006. I knew better but thought that maybe, just maybe this time at the Congressional level we could return to a balance of power.

There was none. The Dems have moved far to the right. There is no attempt of appeasing these Dem liberals except as an addict remembers his/her first fix and keeps trying to achieve it only to realize that the experience worsens with each injection.

Obama and Hillary are a blended caricature of “progressives”. Each have had a historical progressive experience. They long ago threw those sentiments away.

Hedges is really re-stating the powerful essay by Howard Zinn regarding the responsibility of citizen activist. When citizen activists forsake their role by becoming party advocates they lose all power to push. Movements change, politicians without movements are just vacuous suits that succumb to the likes of hawkish neo/con/liberal ideology and corporate powers. The US policies have been baked into the fabric of the two parties however slight their differences. Candidates once elected must then take their marching orders accordingly.

Only the solidarity of a citizens activitist movement can alter that trajectory.

Thanks again for your articulate analysis of the Hedges / Hayden posts.

From Zinn:
“None of this should surprise us. The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties. We should not expect that a victory at the ballot box in November will even begin to budge the nation from its twin fundamental illnesses: capitalist greed and militarism.

So we need to free ourselves from the election madness engulfing the entire society, including the left.

Historically, government, whether in the hands of Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, has failed its responsibilities, until forced to by direct action: sit-ins and Freedom Rides for the rights of black people, strikes and boycotts for the rights of workers, mutinies and desertions of soldiers in order to stop a war.
Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.”


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By Leefeller, May 5, 2008 at 1:33 am Link to this comment


I called it a fuzzy agenda, you called it better when you said “it is less than a pimple on a gnat ass.”

Almost missed your post, thanks cyrena your post did put it to bed for me.

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By Shenonymous, May 4, 2008 at 9:14 pm Link to this comment

And before I signed off for the night, I meant to genuflect to cyrena’s tour de force.  Grazie.

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By Shenonymous, May 4, 2008 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment

I’d thank you to look at all of my posts.  You love the sound of your own voice, Max Shields, and sorry for you not many are going to take your advice or listen to your diatribe.  I couldn’t care less what you think of me.  You haven’t a clue about projection from the depth of where you come from.  Sorry you can’t take equal treatment for what you try to dish out. If you call me shrill you are earsplitting.  There is no comparison between the Republicans and the Democrats.  I have heard you and your cronies keep trying to equate the two so that you can slither in your own paltry agenda by sleight of hand and while I concede some of the Dems need a refresher course on backbone, there is completely different focus between the two parties.  I don’t have to make the case for Democrats.  They have the numbers and that is all that matters.  You can go ahead and screech for Nader which is truly a Sisyphean execise in futility all you want.  You are part of the malconternt disgrunteld Naderites who are going nowhere. 

Shenonymous, the artful shrill sycophant true corporate machine automaton.  I love it.  Gee I wonder if that could all fit on a button.  Nighty night.

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By Amon Drool, May 4, 2008 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment

max..i truly believe that mcCain will cause more suffering in the world than obama.  let’s say i hypothetically put numbers to my belief.  in 4 years mcCain’s hyper militarist view cause 4000,000 needless deaths in the mideast.  in 4 years obama’s half-assed mideast policies cause 200,000 needless deaths.
now say this november i take the moral “high ground” and either don’t vote or vote for nader.  now suppose john mcCain wins my state by 1 vote and wins the presidency.  that means an extra 200,000 will have died needlessly.  am i still on the moral high ground?  i think not, cuz i knew my vote for an unelectable candidate was only symbolic.  if i met those 200,000 extra dead in the afterlife, could i tell them i was on the moral high ground in 2008?

i hope u get my point here.  it’s 2008 and either barack obama or john mcCain is going to be president. THERE IS NO MORAL HIGH GROUND.  all we can do is let our own individual consciences guide our actions.

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By cyrena, May 4, 2008 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

Max, on this..
•  “Call me a “troll” or “anarchist” or rebel rouser, or whatever floats your boat.”
It doesn’t matter a whit what ‘I’ call you, and it takes only water to float my boat. Fortunately, I have enough of it around for now at least.
You give yourself undue credit suggesting that you might be an ‘anarchist’ since I could hold the title myself; just not for the purpose of cutting off my own or anyone else’s nose to spite my own, or anyone else’s face. And, that ALL you’re doing. Bucking the ‘system’ is all well and good when there are probabilities of success. Doing it just because it makes YOU ‘feel good’, is pathological at best…IF you’re the only one that suffers. Funny how it never works out that way. 
The reality says that you and the handful of other malcontents like you, are perfectly willing to piss off enough votes to allow the fascist totalitarian regime to continue unabated, (McSame McCain or McSame Billary) and damn the obvious consequences, because YOU will have somehow ‘proved a point’. I think the ‘point’ to that has already been best described by Shenonymous as LUNACY!
Cynthia McKinney has as much chance of winning an election or even making a tiny steam of piss in the wind as I do. Actually, my own chances would be microscopically better, since I could probably resist the very real temptation to whack a capitol police officer with my cell phone, or otherwise beat the shit of him for intentionally harassing me. Still, I would be incinerated almost as quickly as she, on some other ‘charges’.
The same goes for Ralph Nader at this point. Not because he hasn’t and doesn’t still have great contributions to the system of democracy, social and economic justice, and all of that, but because that’s not enough. How many elections does he have to lose and/or spoil to prove that?
So don’t think of yourself as any anarchist, because you’re not. How about we just keep it plain and simple…a shit starter, perpetrator of whatever chaos and agitation you can possibly create, which in the grand scheme of things, is less than a pimple on a gnats ass. You don’t have the power to use chaos and terror to create instability the same way that the professional terrorists have managed.
Yeah, yeah, yeah….you wanna call a revolution, except that you don’t have any of the equipment or the supplies. You sound far more like a Ron Paul Cultist to me, so in that respect, you ARE a troll. (was it a Freudian slip when you actually included him in a list of PROGRESSIVES?)

I say grab him and do your separatist thing. It’s your best chance. Maybe ya’ll could hook up your own little Jonestown somewhere.

Meantime, I’ve gotta go float my boat while the wind and the tide are in the right space and time to get progress.

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By Max Shields, May 4, 2008 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

Russell Branca

Thank you for retrieving this. Those who have become party zealots have abandoned the power of the people for insider accomplices.

Once you are in and of the party machine, you have become a tool of that machine, no longer able to stand four square on core principles and values, because you must always be willing to equivocate for the good of the party…with the blind hope that the party has become more like you than you like it.

It is a delusion and one that Tom Hayden has succumb to while Hedges has eloquently made the activist progressive case.


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By Max Shields, May 4, 2008 at 7:55 pm Link to this comment

I think John McCain would add to the death count and blood on American’s hands. I have no doubt that this man is not a war hero. He was captured while bombing civilians from thousands of feet.

This was done under the Commander In Chief, Democrat Lyndon Baines Johnson and continued under Republican Richard Milhouse Nixon. We can go back but let’s not. It’s an ugly picture that only continues.

With Democrat William Jefferson Clinton, Human Rights Watch estimated over 1 million died during the “sanctions” and the frequent nightly air-raids. Again I’m skipping over the horrific Reagan and Bush I years. But let’s get real. Then we have mindless Decider who was overpowered by Cheney and in an effort to become the BOSS, he kept the occupation and killing going. The Dems have been complicit each time an opportunity to change course was within their collective grasp. (Kucinich and a few others give the Party a progressive face - purely window dressing).

Now we have Obama. He’ll follow the path of righteous invasion. He’s yet to demonstrate spine of any sort, so he’ll be like the mindless GBW when he entered the WH and found himself in the supportive hands of neocons. Obama will be in the formidable hands of neo-liberals (pretty much the same murderous results with humanitarian pretexts thrown in for good measure, but all in the name of national security aka “my oil is under your sand, or some such resource hegemony”.

So, my friend, Amon Drool, do you think the difference is just how many children will die under the auspices of a McCain vs the number who will perish under a Hillary or Obama?

In that case, you’ve forsaken any claim to the moral high ground and just figured that some lives aren’t worth that much - particularly if we can do it with a little more “compassion”.

I don’t think you believe that. I’m just trying to follow the logic that ends with a vote for Obama is really that much different than a vote for Hillary or McCain. And it truly does allude me.

(Shenonymous, methinks you suffer projection. Shrill is your forte. You have perfected it to an art. Take a look back at your posts.)

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