Occupy Wall Street: What It Isn’t

There's no consensus for European-style social democracy or a Randian libertarian paradise.

David Graeber, who claims to have coined the phrase “we are the 99 percent” but probably didn’t has a long-winded, convoluted, and interesting take on why Occupy Wall Street has caught on while dozens of other similarly motivated populist movements have not.

First, despite the intentions of Adbusters and other organizers, they explicitly rejected organization and coherence:

Two days later, at the Outreach meeting we were brainstorming what to put on our first flyer. Adbusters’ idea had been that we focus on “one key demand.” This was a brilliant idea from a marketing perspective, but from an organizing perspective, it made no sense at all. We put that one aside almost immediately. There were much more fundamental questions to be hashed out. Like: who were we? Who did want to appeal to? Who did we represent? Someone—this time I remember quite clearly it was me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a half dozen others had equally strong memories of being the first to come up with it—suggested, “well, why not call ourselves ‘the 99%’? If 1% of the population have ended up with all the benefits of the last 10 years of economic growth, control the wealth, own the politicians… why not just say we’re everybody else?”

Not only did the theme resonate but the lack of specific policy demands maximized the early turnout since everyone with a grievance and less than half a mil in household income could identify.

We quickly decided that what we really wanted to do was something like had already been accomplished in Athens, Barcelona, or Madrid: occupy a public space to create a New York General Assembly, a body that could act as a model of genuine, direct democracy to contrapose to the corrupt charade presented to us as “democracy” by the US government. The Wall Street action would be a stepping-stone.

We’ll see, I guess, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict that the Zuccoti Park campers don’t become our de facto government.

This, too, strikes me as a stretch:

Revolutionary coalitions have always tended to consist of a kind of alliance between children of the professional classes who reject their parents’ values, and talented children of the popular classes who managed to win themselves a bourgeois education, only to discover that acquiring a bourgeois education does not actually mean one gets to become a member of the bourgeoisie. You see the pattern repeated over and over, in country after country: Chou Enlai meets Mao Tse Tung, or Che Guevara meets Fidel Castro. Even US counter-insurgency experts have long known the surest harbingers of revolutionary ferment in any country is the growth of a population of unemployed and impoverished college graduates: that is, young people bursting with energy, with plenty of time on their hands, every reason to be angry, and access to the entire history of radical thought. In the US, the depredations of the student loan system simply ensures such budding revolutionaries cannot fail to identify banks as their primary enemy, or to understand the role of the Federal Government—which maintains the student loan program, and ensures that their loans will be held over their heads forever, even in the event of bankruptcy—in maintaining the banking system’s ultimate control over every aspect of their future lives.

This system has been in place as long as I can remember without sparking a protest movement.

Ordinarily, though, the plight of the indebted college graduate would not be the sort of issue that would speak directly to the hearts of, say, members of New York City’s Transit Worker’s Union—which, at time of writing, is not only supporting the occupation, but suing the New York Police Department for commandeering their buses to conduct a mass arrest of OWS activists blocking the Brooklyn Bridge. Why would a protest by educated youth strike such a chord across America—in a way that it probably wouldn’t have in 1967, or even 1990? Clearly, it has much to do with the financialization of capital.

I’m not seeing it. There are all manner of much more direct reasons for blue collar workers to be angry at Wall Street. The “financialization of capital” ain’t high on the list. He explains why straight away:

It may well be the case by now that most of Wall Street’s profits are no longer to be being extracted indirectly, through the wage system, at all, but taken directly from the pockets of ordinary Americans. I say “may” because we don’t really have the numbers. In a way this is telling in itself. For all the endless statistical data available on every aspect of our economic system, I have been unable to find any economist who can tell me how much of an average American’s annual income, let alone life income, ends up being appropriated by the financial industries in the form of interest payments, fees, penalties, and service charges.

Aside from ATM fees and the chicanery of credit card companies, this isn’t the type of thing likely to seep into the public consciousness.

For those patient enough to keep reading, we finally start getting to something more thought-provoking:

Back when I was in college, I learned that the difference between capitalism and feudalism—or what was sometimes called the “tributary mode of production”—is that a feudal aristocracy appropriates its wealth through “direct juro-political extraction.” They simply take other people’s things through legal means. Capitalism was supposed to be a bit more subtle.[2] Yet as soon as it achieved total world dominance, capitalism seems to have almost immediately begun shifting back into something that could well be described as feudalism.[3] In doing so, too, it made the alliance of money and government impossible to ignore. In the years since 2008, we’ve seen examples ranging from the comical—as when loan collection agencies in Massachusetts sent their employees out en masse to canvas on behalf of a senate candidate (Scott Brown) who they assumed would be in favor of harsher laws against debtors, to the downright outrageous—as when “too big to fail” institutions like Bank of America, bailed out by the taxpayers, secure in the knowledge they would not be allowed to collapse no matter what their behavior, paying no taxes, but delivering vast sums of culled from their even vaster profits to legislators who then allow their lobbyists to actually write the legislation that is supposed to “regulate” them. At this point, it’s not entirely clear why an institution like Bank of America should not, at this point, be considered part of the federal government, other than that it gets to keep its profits for itself.

Hyperbole aside, he’s actually on to something here. The capture of the political system by Big Money strikes me as, by far, the most compelling grievance of both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party. It’s overstated by the most ardent spokesmen but there’s no doubt that there’s an uneven playing field when some have the ability to hire lobbyists, air TV ads, and gain access to candidates via big donations and others do not.

At the end of the day, it’s still one man, one vote. But ordinary voters have so many filters on the information they receive that it’s hard for them to make rational choices. And, of course, if there are only two viable alternatives and both agree on principles like Too Big To Fail, voting doesn’t matter much in this context.

This seems to be, at least obliquely, Graeber’s argument here:

In politics, too, as in education, we are looking at a generation of young people who played by the rules, and have seen their efforts prove absolutely fruitless. We must remember that in 2008, the youth vote went overwhelmingly to Barrack Obama and the Democrats. We also have to remember that Obama was running, then, as a candidate of “Change”, using a campaign language that drew liberally from that of radical social movements (“yes we can!”, “be the change!”), and that as a former community organizer, he was one of the few candidates in recent memory who could be said to have emerged from a social movement background rather than from smoke-filled rooms. This, combined with the fact that Obama was Black, gave young people a sense that they were experiencing a genuinely transformative moment in American politics.

I would argue that these people were damned fools. Not because Obama is some toady of Wall Street but because we don’t elect a king but rather a chief executive to preside over one of three more-or-less-coequal branches of government. If, by fiat, David Graeber or the most charismatic member of the Occupy Wall Street movement were made president as I hit Publish on this post, we wouldn’t see that radical a change. Institutions matter and our system is designed to work against radical swings of policy.

Next, we get this strange argument:

All this happened in a country where there was such a straightjacket on acceptable political discourse in the US—what a politician or media pundit can say, without being immediately written off as lunatic fringe—that the views of very large segments of the American public simply are never voiced at all. To give a sense of how radical is the disconnect between acceptable opinion, and the actual feelings of American voters, consider a pair of polls conducted by Rasmussen, the first in December 2008, right after Obama was elected, the second in April 2011. A broad sampling of Americans were asked which economic system they preferred: capitalism, or socialism? In 2008, 15% felt the USA would be better off adopting a socialist system; now, three years later, the number has gone up, to one in five. Even more striking was the breakdown by age: the younger the respondent, the more likely they were to reject a capitalist system. Among Americans between 15 and 25, a thin plurality still preferred capitalism: 37%, as opposed to 33% in favor of socialism (the rest were unsure). But think about what this means here. It means that almost two thirds of America’s youth think it might be a good idea to jettison the capitalist system entirely! This in a country where most have never seen a single politician, TV pundit, or mainstream “expert” use the term “socialism” as anything but a term of condescension and abuse. Granted, for that very reason, it’s hard to know exactly what young people who say they prefer “socialism” actually think they’re embracing. Presumably not an economic system modeled on that of North Korea. What then? Sweden? Canada? It’s impossible to say. But in a way it’s also beside the point. Most Americans might not be sure what socialism is supposed to be, but they do know a great deal about capitalism, and if “socialism” means anything to them, it means “something, pretty much anything, other than that!”

So, we have a meaningless poll that admittedly doesn’t tell us much of anything. From this, we can conclude that most people agree with David Graeber. Uh huh.

My guess on this–and it’s just that–is that two things are happening. First, for those under 40, “socialism” no longer carries the Soviet-era connotation. Second, the fact that Republicans are using “socialism” to demonize things like relatively minor expansions of the health care safety net might actually be backfiring. That is, there may be a lot of young people that say, “Hey, this socialism thing is pretty good!” Third, during periods of severe economic distress–and the polling took place during one of the worst in modern history–capitalism doesn’t look quite as appealing, especially if you’re in the cohort bearing the biggest brunt of the unemployment burden.

Commenter John Personna, who pointed me to the piece, was especially drawn to this portion:

How, then, do you expect a young American voter to feel, after casting a vote for a fundamental change to our political and economic system, on discovering that in fact, they have elected a man who twenty years ago would have been considered a moderate conservative?

I mean that word, “conservative,” in its literal sense by the way. This literal sense is now rarely used. Nowadays, in the US, “conservative” has come to mean “right-wing radical,” but it used to mean someone whose main political imperative is to conserve existing institutions, more or less exactly as they are—and this is precisely what Obama has turned out to be. Almost all his greatest political efforts have been aimed in one way or another at preserving some institutional structure under threat of radical transformation: the banking system, the auto industry, even the health insurance industry, since Obama’s main argument in pushing for health care reform was that the US health care system, based on for-profit, private insurers, was not economically viable over the long term, and indeed, what he ended up doing was preserving exactly that for-profit system in a way that it might endure for at least another generation. Considering the state of the US economy in 2008, it required genuinely heroic efforts not to change anything. Yet Obama did expend those heroic efforts, and the result was no structural change in existing institutions of any kind at all.

Now, again, Graeber’s not helping himself with over-the-top rhetoric about “right-wing radicals” and all the rest. And the notion that the man who lifted the ban on gays in the military and pushed through the biggest expansion of the social welfare system since the Great Society would have been a “moderate conservative” in 1991 is laughable. See Clinton, Bill and his foray into the gays in the military issue.

But Graeber nonetheless makes two strong points here: Young people who voted for Hope and Change were sorely disappointed and Obama is in fact “conservative” in the sense of preserving much of the status quo. Indeed, these are really two aspects of the same point.

This insight, gleaned from reading DailyKos, is amusing:

Over the last two years, the level of hatred directed against Obama is extraordinary. He is regularly accused of being a fraud, a liar, a secret Republican who has intentionally flubbed every opportunity for progressive change presented to him in the name of “bipartisan compromise” with a rabid and uncompromising Right.

This is followed by something more ominous:

Others suggest he is a well-meaning progressive whose hands are tied; or, alternately, blame progressives for not having mobilized to provide sufficient pressure to his Left. The latter seem to forget the way the grassroots activist groups created during the campaign, which were expected to endure afterwards for just this purpose, were rapidly dismantled once Obama was in power and handing the economic reigns of the US over to the very people (Geithner, Bernanke, Summers) responsible for the crisis, or how liberal groups that actually try to mount campaigns against such policies are regularly threatened with defunding by White-House friendly NGOs. But in a way, this feeling of personal betrayal is pretty much inevitable. It is the only way of preserving the faith that it’s possible for progressive policies to be enacted in the US through electoral means. Because if Obama was not planning all along to betray his Progressive base, then one would be forced to conclude any such project is impossible. After all, how could there have been a more perfect alignment of the stars than happened in 2008?

Such is the nature of being a rabid ideologue or a hopeless romantic, I’m afraid. Of course Obama tacked to the center immediately upon getting the nomination and even moreso upon entering office. He’s not the president of the Progressive Cause but President of the United States. Hard core progressives are, maybe, 20 percent of the country. Not only couldn’t he have enacted a progressive platform if he tried–he barely got his watered down healthcare bill passed as it is and had to rely on every parliamentary trick in the book to get it through the Senate–but the “shellacking” that he took in 2010 would have instead been a bloodbath had he tried.

Instead Wall Street gained even greater control over the political process, and, since Republicans proved the only party willing to propose radical positions of any kind, the political center swung even further to the Right.

This just doesn’t make sense. What Republican positions, let alone “radical” ones, were passed? Republicans have been in a position to block, not pass.

Clearly, if progressive change was not possible through electoral means in 2008, it simply isn’t going to possible at all. And that is exactly what very large numbers of Americans appear to have concluded.

Say what you will about Americans, and one can say many things, this is a country of deeply democratic sensibilities. The idea that we are, or are supposed to be, a democratic society is at the very core of what makes us proud to be Americans. If Occupy Wall Street has spread to every city in America, it’s because our financial overlords have brought us to such a pass that anarchists, pagan priestesses, and tree-sitters are about the only Americans left still holding out for the idea that a genuinely democratic society might be possible.

Again, there’s no such thing as “very large numbers of Americans” who are pining for “progressive change.” Rather, there’s a very large number of Americans–from all across the political spectrum–who are pissed off about a bad economy, bailouts for Wall Street and Detroit, and a bevy of offenses real and imagined committed by the financial sector.

Despite what ideologues love to think, we’re simply not a radical country. There’s no consensus for European-style social democracy or a Randian libertarian paradise. Instead, people want pretty much what they have gotten–relatively low taxes, relatively low regulation, a moderate safety net for the very poor and the elderly, and a lot of resources devoted to public safety.

They frankly wouldn’t give two toots about Wall Street or ancillary issues if the economy wasn’t in the crapper. Certainly, they didn’t three years ago. But the combination of an international quasi-depression sparked by the financial sector, the Too Big to Fail bailouts that kept that sector more-or-less whole while everyone else suffered, and the fact that the relatively benign regulations designed to correct the problems that got us here seem already to have been circumvented and turned into an excuse to raise fees has managed to get a lot of people united in anger.

This anger is justified and the fact that it hasn’t coalesced into public policy consensus–here or in Europe–only fuels more anger, since it speaks to the sense of regulatory capture and powerless of ordinary folks. Mostly, though, it’s a function of the diffuse nature of the anger. The Tea Party types are mad about some of the same things as the Occupy Wall Street crowd but have very different objectives.

Protest movements can be useful for spotlighting issues and getting the attention of the governing bodies. They can lead to coalition building and winning of elections. But, ultimately, somebody has to write a law or series of laws that get passed in both Houses of Congress and signed by the president. And I’ll go out on another limb here and predict that David Graeber won’t be happy with it.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Moosebreath says:

    “Graeber’s not helping himself with over-the-top rhetoric about “right-wing radicals””

    It’s a pity you cannot see how radical the current Republican party is.

    “What Republican positions, let alone “radical” ones, were passed?”

    He said proposed, not passed. I would put Ryan’s Medicare voucher system (supported by substantially every Republican in Congress), and substantially all Republican tax proposals (which share the common theme of resdistributing income upwards) as radical departures from the political consensus over the last 50 years.

  2. WR says:

    JJ: “At the end of the day, it’s still one man, one vote. ”

    Technically this is true, except in certain Republican-controlled states where they are working to disenfranchise as many Democratic-leaning voters as possible.

    But it’s one thing to say all our votes are equal, and another to notice that while polls show three-quarters of the country, including a majority of Republicans, believes taxes should be raised on millionaires, the Republicans in the House and Senate would even all that to be debated. In other words, we all have an equal vote — but most of our equal votes are being ignored by the people in charge.

    And yes, we’ll have another election. But we just had an election in which a bunch of new congressmen were sworn in who vowed to be faithful to the will of the people, and they’re also fighting to make sure rich people don’t have to pay higher taxes. That is, when they’re not whining about how hard it is to live on $175,000.

    So if you think saying “one man one vote” is a convincing argument against the protestors, you need to learn how to look past the platitudes…

  3. WR says:

    JJ: “Now, again, Graeber’s not helping himself with over-the-top rhetoric about “right-wing radicals” and all the rest. ”

    Rick Santorum, Republican candidate for president, has pledged to repeal all Federal funding for contraception because:

    “One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea … Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay … contraception’s okay.”
    It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal … but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.”

    So you have a candidate for President — and former US Senator — who believes it is a proper function of the Federal government to be concerned about whether US citizens are having sex for what he believes are the right or wrong reason.

    Meanwhile, Herman Cain has advocated that soldiers shoot and kill anyone coming across the border illegally, although he can’t seem to decide if that was a joke or not.

    And you say that talking about “right wing radicals” is over the top. What exactly would be a radical position to you?

  4. Stan says:

    If the Republicans take both houses of Congress and the Presidency, I expect Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicare to be passed by Congress and signed into law unless the Democrats in the Senate filibuster it. If Ryan’s proposal isn’t radical I don’t know what is, and it was supported unanimously by the House Republicans. The present day Republican party is possessed by a spirit of unconditionality that most observers, including sensible conservatives like James Joyner, are unable or unwilling to recognize.

  5. Eric Florack says:

    Not only did the theme resonate but the lack of specific policy demands maximized the early turnout since everyone with a grievance and less than half a mil in household income could identify.

    It strikes me that this is remarkably similar to the Obama campaign, wherein we heard the chant of “hope and change” without ever really understanding what, in Obama’s view, change was, and what we were to hope for.

    Despite what ideologues love to think, we’re simply not a radical country.

    Sigh.

    James, it is said that a stone conservative is a former liberal, who got mugged.
    I submit to you that as a result of Obama’s quite successful implementation of liberal policy…. (Can you imagine Bush getting a law as sweeping as Obamacare, for example, into law without Congress having even read the thing? )…. and the results we have all seen from that success, we now have a larger number of what some would call ‘radicals’ than we have had at any point in our history save perhaps the revolution, itself.. As a reference line, I suggest that the next nearest high point was after Carter’s four years, and for the same reasons.

  6. Eric Florack says:

    If Ryan’s proposal isn’t radical I don’t know what is,

    Obamacare isn’t?

  7. Ben Wolf says:

    Instead Wall Street gained even greater control over the political process, and, since Republicans proved the only party willing to propose radical positions of any kind, the political center swung even further to the Right.

    “This just doesn’t make sense. What Republican positions, let alone “radical” ones, were passed? Republicans have been in a position to block, not pass.”

    Wall Street wants the status quo, meaning they want nothing done. Is it really so hard to understand the powerful want to preserve the system which made them powerful?

  8. Joel says:

    This REALLY doesn’t do their movement any favors:

    You see the pattern repeated over and over, in country after country: Chou Enlai meets Mao Tse Tung, or Che Guevara meets Fidel Castro. Even US counter-insurgency experts have long known the surest harbingers of revolutionary ferment in any country is the growth of a population of unemployed and impoverished college graduates: that is, young people bursting with energy, with plenty of time on their hands, every reason to be angry, and access to the entire history of radical thought.

    I’ve mostly been on the fence regarding Occupy Wall Street, but to see one of its founders talking about tyrants and butchers as role models really doesn’t do them any favors. And before someone pushes back, I don’t care if he’s only talking about their organization or the conditions that led to their revolutions – it’s still chilling to see someone so casually invoke these people as examples of what he’s doing.

  9. john personna says:

    I thought the peek at “activist culture” was interesting and almost comedic:

    I quickly spotted at least one Wobbly, a young Korean activist I remembered from some Food Not Bomb event, some college students wearing Zapatista paraphernalia, a Spanish couple who’d been involved with the indignados in Madrid… I found my Greek friends, an American I knew from street battles in Quebec during the Summit of the Americas in 2001, now turned labor organizer in Manhattan, a Japanese activist intellectual I’d known for years

    Is that more Albert Brooks or Woody Allen?

    After so many years of vain attempts to revive the fervor of the Global Justice Movement, and constantly falling flat, I found myself, like Dina, asking “what did we actually do right?”

    Brooks, I think.

    Still the good central observation seems to be that the left, in their disappointment, do have a better grasp of Obama than the right.

    The President is very much more a defender of the status quo than a radical socialist.

  10. Stan says:

    @Eric Florack: Well, no. The Affordable Care Act is based on the plan enacted in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney was governor, and it’s similar to the health insurance plans in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, all of them countries that I regard as profoundly capitalistic. The health reform plan in Massachusetts is so popular that the Massachusetts Republican party is afraid to oppose it, and even Scott Brown is a supporter.
    So I don’t regard the ACA as radical.

    If you do think it’s radical, please explain how it will affect you personally.

  11. Liberty60 says:

    Piling on here…
    Don’t have time to google it, but wasn’t there a Republican legislator in Kentucky/ Tenn or somewhere proposing to eliminate child labor laws?

    Didn’t the Birchers, who were too radical to be allowed in the party under Wm F Buckley and Reagan, proudly host portions of CPAC last year?

    Isn’t pride in the Confederacy a mainstay of Southern Republican activists?

    Didn’t we just witness Republican audiences cheering executions, and letting poor people die for lack of medical benefits?

    Haven’t the conservatives won the battle to allow torture as a policy?

    So yeah, I guess I would ask as well- what would you consider to be a “radical” position?

  12. john personna says:

    @Joel:

    I think the key is that the instigators kind of stumbled on something with broad appeal. It isn’t that the movement is still with, or centered on the goals of, Activist America.

  13. john personna says:

    And conversely, little coming out of the GOP debates is about conserving American culture. They still are on about a return to the 1920’s as a way forward, that will be a “definite plan” and “jobs through growth.”

  14. Joel says:

    @john personna:
    Well, after a bit more searching I find that Graeber is an unashamed anarchist. I won’t go so far as to say this means OWS is a Marxist/anarchist movement (it’s so broad and fluid and I’m not sure if Graeber actually has much influence on it), but it is troubling.

  15. Lomax says:

    Who does the OWS represent ? Do they represent the working class people? It seems to me that they are more representative of the college students and professors. That’s fine, but I am not a student anymore. Here is a list of concerns of the working people who make below $100, 000:
    high taxes: lower the income tax – I am paying about $1600 a year on a $30000 salary. That needs to be cut by about $1300.
    high gas prices: sorry, but we need our cars and trucks for work
    horrible food prices: out the roof
    high crime rates: no one is talking about this – why? I see on the news daily about the kidnapping and murder of our women and children and the corrupt criminal justice system that lets the criminals out.
    wars overseas – how does this make this country safer? The soldiers and their families are suffering
    corporations (BOA) that make billions in profits while laying off workers and gouging customers (debit “fees”), no more bailouts, even for GM ! (“raise the gas prices” their president says)
    increasing medical and prescription costs
    corruption in government: sex scandals weekly, pay offs, pork spending, non-transparency, wasting money, more “entitlements” (giveaways), lying: ignoring the common workers
    more and more jobs being shipped off overseas!

    Who represents the common, honest, working people? OWS seems to mainly focus on Wall Street. I don’t care about Wall Street. I am not an investor and I don’t do business with the huge banks. I do vote, but would like a better choice between the current two parties. The recent debate in Las Vegas was pure camp. It is obvious the news media is controlling the debates to steer most of the coverage to two or three candidates.

  16. Ben Wolf says:

    @ James Joyner

    We’ll see, I guess, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict that the Zuccoti Park campers don’t become our de facto government.

    Graeber never said it would.

    This system has been in place as long as I can remember without sparking a protest movement.

    I have no idea what point you think you’re making here. People didn’t protest this system five seconds after enactment, so they therefore don’t care? You’re projecting.

    I’m not seeing it. There are all manner of much more direct reasons for blue collar workers to be angry at Wall Street. The “financialization of capital” ain’t high on the list.

    Then you don’t understand what financialization means.

    Aside from ATM fees and the chicanery of credit card companies, this isn’t the type of thing likely to seep into the public consciousness.

    And your evidence for what other people think is what? That you didn’t notice it, so no one else does either?

    At the end of the day, it’s still one man, one vote.

    Utterly freaking irrelevant. By the time that man exercises his vote the elites have selected what candidates he’s allowed to vote for and what ideas are allowed for debate. You choose not to see this.

    I would argue that these people were damned fools. Not because Obama is some toady of Wall Street but because we don’t elect a king but rather a chief executive to preside over one of three more-or-less-coequal branches of government. If, by fiat, David Graeber or the most charismatic member of the Occupy Wall Street movement were made president as I hit Publish on this post, we wouldn’t see that radical a change. Institutions matter and our system is designed to work against radical swings of policy.

    And yet we’ve had radical changes in the past. Funny how you don’t seem to be aware of that.

    Now, again, Graeber’s not helping himself with over-the-top rhetoric about “right-wing radicals

    The Republican Party is, in fact, controlled by right-wing radicals, and your continued failure to accept responsibility for this and takes steps necessary to restore your party to sanity taints any opinion you may have on this. They are radicals, and you are supporting radicals.

    Such is the nature of being a rabid ideologue or a hopeless romantic, I’m afraid. Of course Obama tacked to the center immediately upon getting the nomination and even moreso upon entering office. He’s not the president of the Progressive Cause but President of the United States.

    Irrelevant. Many presidents have come into office fighting to change the status quo against the wishes of the majority. Sometimes they won, sometimes they lost. But they were great men and refuses to accept the wisdom of the James Joyners’ of the day that they needed to move to the center and just coast.

    Despite what ideologues love to think, we’re simply not a radical country. There’s no consensus for European-style social democracy or a Randian libertarian paradise.

    There was no consensus for the Revolution, or the Civil war, or desegregation, or gay rights, or a work environment where employees weren’t burned to death as bosses fought to keep them from leaving a factory on fire. People fought and died for those things against an apathetic or even hostile majority. Congratulations, you’ve finally reached McCardlesque levels of sloppy thinking, prejudgement and fact free inuendo. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  17. Eric Florack says:

    Well, no. The Affordable Care Act is based on the plan enacted in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney was governor, and it’s similar to the health insurance plans in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, all of them countries that I regard as profoundly capitalistic. The health reform plan in Massachusetts is so popular that the Massachusetts Republican party is afraid to oppose it, and even Scott Brown is a supporter.
    So I don’t regard the ACA as radical.

    If you do think it’s radical, please explain how it will affect you personally.

    First of all, it doesn’t work.

  18. Linton says:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2011/10/19/who-is-occupying-wall-street-a-pollster-surveys-protester/

    This Wall Street Journal blog post has some interesting poll numbers on what the protesters hope to achieve. It’s also interesting that only about 1/3 of them are unemployed/”part time employed or underemployed”. Not as high a percentage as the media had led me to believe.

  19. john personna says:

    @Joel:

    He seems to be some kind of flat, participatory democracy, anarchist. I’m sure there aren’t many of them.

  20. john personna says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    The Republican Party is, in fact, controlled by right-wing radicals, and your continued failure to accept responsibility for this and takes steps necessary to restore your party to sanity taints any opinion you may have on this. They are radicals, and you are supporting radicals.

    Oh, I think James faults the radicals. He just can’t quit them.

  21. Ben Wolf says:

    @john personna: And yet it’s difficult to square James’ criticism of Graeber’s “over the top” rhetoric with the simple fact that I have yet to encounter criticism of these people that is over the top. They have literally championed re-segregation, government control of sex, death to the poor and outright theft of every penny the middle -class has left to it. And that’s just the tip of the iceburg.

  22. john personna says:

    @Stan:

    They seem to hope they’ll do the Ryan plan, etc., and then catch the natural recovery cycle – making everyone happy.

    If they do hard-right things (returns to the 1920s) and they don’t get the recovery, it sure is going to hit the fan in the following election.

  23. mantis says:

    @Lomax:

    Here is a list of concerns of the working people who make below $100, 000:
    high taxes: lower the income tax – I am paying about $1600 a year on a $30000 salary. That needs to be cut by about $1300.

    Ridiculous. If you aren’t getting all of your federal income tax back, you should find someone to fill out your returns for you.

    high gas prices: sorry, but we need our cars and trucks for work

    What do you propose the government do about this?

    horrible food prices: out the roof

    “out the roof?” Anyway, much of food price increases are due to energy costs (gasoline for transport + increased corn prices).

    high crime rates: no one is talking about this – why?

    Probably because crime rates are lower than they have been in four decades. Stop watching the news.

    wars overseas – how does this make this country safer? The soldiers and their families are suffering

    Got a point there. By the way, OWS is pretty anti-war, if I’m not mistaken.

    corporations (BOA) that make billions in profits while laying off workers and gouging customers (debit “fees”), no more bailouts, even for GM ! (“raise the gas prices” their president says)

    Are you even paying attention? This is a lot of what OWS is about.

    increasing medical and prescription costs

    Get out there and fight for single-payer healthcare then.

    OWS seems to mainly focus on Wall Street. I don’t care about Wall Street. I am not an investor and I don’t do business with the huge banks.

    If you don’t understand how the banks affect you, consider that they caused the financial collapse we are still dealing with. They are the problem.

  24. giantslor says:

    @Eric Florack:

    No, Obamacare is not at all radical. It bears close resemblance to a plan published by the Heritage Foundation a few years ago. If Obamacare were a single-payer system, then it would be radical, and we’d all be better off.

  25. giantslor says:

    On Obamacare and the Heritage Foundation:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/d-brad-wright/did-the-heritage-foundati_b_551804.html

    Now why would the Heritage Foundation be promoting a radical socialist plan?

    Duh — because it’s actually a conservative plan.

  26. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: Which radicals am I supporting? Jon Huntsman? Mitt Romney?

    @Ben Wolf: I’m not following your argument. There are 435 Representatives and 100 Senators, each of whom answers to a discrete demographic. Some of them are freakin’ loons. Pointing to some absurd idea some individual Member has touted is about as useful as pointing to something stupid scrawled on the sign of a protestor somewhere and saying that it represents the movement as a whole.

    I’ve written a lot of pieces about my concerns about radicals and idiots becoming a critical mass of the GOP. I don’t think it’s happened yet, but I think we’re at a tipping point. But I’m still betting that Romney is the nominee for president.

  27. Rick Almeida says:

    If Newsmax says the plan doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

  28. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    I said you fault the radicals, as you did with “deal breakers” in the debt limit debates, etc.

    At the same time, you don’t really quit them. Or you think OWS etc. could not possibly be thinking of the same radicals you opposed.

  29. Stan says:

    @Eric Florack: When something doesn’t work it becomes unpopular with the public, when it becomes unpopular with the public it becomes unpopular with the politicians, and then it gets repealed. The Massachusetts health plan is popular with Massachusetts voters, so much so that even the Tea Party darling Scott Brown supports it. The health plans used in the various European countries are all popular. The most socialistic of them all, the National Health Plan in the UK, was planned by Churchill’s wartime government and backed enthusiastically by Margaret Thatcher in the 80’s. Even David Cameron’s right wing government has no intention of repealing it.

    Judging by the link you provided, you’re addicted to news sources that cater to your prejudices. This is not a good way to get an objective picture of what’s actually going on.

  30. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: The Republicans no doubt get some benefit to inertia and tribalism. If I were 25, I’d probably be an Independent. Of course, that’s a meaningless position: at the end of the day, you have to pick a team. The old “vote for the man, not the party” doesn’t really work at the national level.

    I’m down this year to Huntsman, who I really like but don’t think has a shot, to Romney, who I’m leery of but think is the likely nominee and perfectly competent and sane. I’d likely vote Obama over any of the others based on where the game stands now.

  31. jpe says:

    a body that could act as a model of genuine, direct democracy to contrapose to the corrupt charade presented to us as “democracy” by the US government.

    It would have to be a pretty big fucking drum circle to get everyone in the US in it.

  32. jpe says:

    By the time that man exercises his vote the elites have selected what candidates he’s allowed to vote for and what ideas are allowed for debate.

    That’s the case if you lazily wait for candidates to come to you. And I expect most of the OWS’ers are lazy, hence their disaffection.

  33. michael reynolds says:

    I thought that was pretty good analysis on James Joyner’s part. Yeah, some quibbles over this or that, but basically fair and insightful.

  34. Terrye says:

    Hyperbole aside, he’s actually on to something here. The capture of the political system by Big Money strikes me as, by far, the most compelling grievance of both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party. It’s overstated by the most ardent spokesmen but there’s no doubt that there’s an uneven playing field when some have the ability to hire lobbyists, air TV ads, and gain access to candidates via big donations and others do not.

    I agreed with much of what you said..but the above quote gave me pause.

    There are lobbyists for just about everyone. AARP is there for the seniors…the AFL-CIO is there for big labor. Those students have that debt because lobbyists for higher education made sure they had easy access to student loans that they apparently don’t think they should have to pay back.

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was there to help fuel the meltdown by making it easier for people to get cheap loans that they could not pa back.

    Right now, something like 48% of the households in this country receive some kind of government support.

    And while I don’t doubt that the people on Wall Street are all about making money..at least they paid back the bailouts, which is more than can be said for Detroit. My guess is these young people would not be interested in paying anything back either.

    People are frustrated with the bad economy. I do think that is fueling a lot of this. However, that does not change the fact that while a lot of people do not like the rich..most of them would like to be the rich.

    Americans are not going to go in for a collectivist economy. No way.

  35. Franklin says:

    For those patient enough to keep reading, we finally start getting to something more thought-provoking …

    Great analysis on all of it, but Graeber’s argument that followed this and your discussion thereof is really articulated well and I agree completely. It’s similar to a point I made in previous OWS threads but is much more coherent when you say it.

    I’m just curious, is there anyone who doesn’t agree that money has too much influence on politics? I imagine not, but I suspect there’s humongous disagreements on how we could solve that problem.

  36. Rick Almeida says:

    @Terrye:

    Right now, something like 48% of the households in this country receive some kind of government support.

    I’d say it’s more like 100%.

  37. ponce says:

    Yet as soon as it achieved total world dominance, capitalism…

    Don’t tell the Commie Chinese, whose booming economy is keeping the floundering capitalist world afloat, about this.

  38. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    Perhaps in punditry it is necessary to pick a team, but voters certainly can choose a la carte.

  39. john personna says:

    Btw,

    Such the nature of being a rabid ideologue or a hopeless romantic, I’m afraid. Of course Obama tacked to the center immediately upon getting the nomination and even moreso upon entering office. He’s not the president of the Progressive Cause but President of the United States. Hard core progressives are, maybe, 20 percent of the country. Not only couldn’t he have enacted a progressive platform if he tried–he barely got his watered down healthcare bill passed as it is and had to rely on every parliamentary trick in the book to get it through the Senate–but the “shellacking” that he took in 2010 would have instead been a bloodbath had he tried.

    What did the GWB pattern suggest? That kind of moderation?

  40. Ben Wolf says:

    @Joel: Graeber isn’t saying students need to emulate Che or Castro, he’s saying that allowing conditions which keep students idle and out of work creates Castros, and it’s in the elite’s interests to fix the problem but they aren’t.

  41. A voice from another precinct says:

    @Lomax: Just one point: “high taxes: lower the income tax – I am paying about $1600 a year on a $30000 salary. That needs to be cut by about $1300.”

    It seems that you want to go from 5.3% (which, incedentally, was less that what I was paying on $18000 in 2005) to 0.1%. Not criticizing, but why not just go ahead and say “people who make less than _______ shouldn’t have to pay taxes?”

  42. A voice from another precinct says:

    @James Joyner: I thnk that what Ben Wolf is trying to say is that Outside the Beltway is no longer an appropriate name for the blog. You may have started out wanting to rethink the status quo from an “outside the beltway” point of view, but you’re just another D.C. wonk now. For me, the jury is still out. On this issue, ya got nuthin, bupkis.

  43. Ron Beasley says:

    I think it’s probably time for OWS to abandon the camp-outs. They have changed the conversation and marches and protests should be enough to keep the conversation going. They have to be careful not to alienate the people they are are trying to defend.

  44. Ron Beasley says:

    @A voice from another precinct: I disagree – even the Randian Doug Matconis is outside the beltway. I don’t always agree with James but he is willing to go against the “conventional wisdom”. Stephen Taylor is reasonable and logical unlike the beltway pundits.

  45. JKB says:

    @ponce: Don’t tell the Commie Chinese, whose booming economy is keeping the floundering capitalist world afloat, about this.

    So the US can go ahead and decline now. There needs to be one big capitalist country to keep humanity moving forward. Perhaps the Chinese will take over from the US and we can become a workers’ paradise without all that nasty creating things to redistribute.

    The good news is, except for some rich people complaining about having to move, Wall Street can decamp to China in short order.

  46. ponce says:

    The good news is, except for some rich people complaining about having to move, Wall Street can decamp to China in short order.

    Many of the Wall Street parasites have already tried to move to China.

    Too bad for them, the Chinese figured out they can make their own deals without the outrageous fees.

  47. anjin-san says:

    we can become a workers’ paradise

    Please tell me you are not as big of a simpleton as this makes you sound.

  48. anjin-san says:

    Wall Street can decamp to China in short order.

    Yea, that’s a plan. If you piss off the government in China, they put you up against a wall and shoot your ass.

  49. ponce says:
  50. anjin-san says:

    James, it is said that a stone conservative is a former liberal, who got mugged.

    Absolutely. All mugging victims agree that we should wipe out the middle class and give tax cuts to billionaires. It is the only logical conclusion you can reach after being mugged.

  51. Eric Florack says:

    @Stan:

    The Affordable Care Act is based on the plan enacted in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney was governor, and it’s similar to the health insurance plans in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, all of them countries that I regard as profoundly capitalistic. The health reform plan in Massachusetts is so popular that the Massachusetts Republican party is afraid to oppose it, and even Scott Brown is a supporter.

    Ya know the last few times this argument has gone through I was laughing so hard I just let it go. But I can see you take it seriously so…. Let’s make sure we all understand your argument.

    You’re saying that the state that inflicted Ted Kennedy, and John Kerry, Barney Frank on the whole nation over a period of decades and who has gone reliably Democrat in the last several presidential elections, is so mainstream, that what they like can’t be radical leftist? You really think the place is main stream, don’t you?

    I find this argument unpersuasive at least and in fact laughable.

    Further, that the Republican party there is a group of sheep? (But certainly representative of the GOP establishment, huh?) That seems fairly obvious.

    Finally, that such a group of people finds Romney a Republican they can approve of seems indicative that he’s not operating from conservative principle.

    Back to the drawing board with you.

  52. sam says:

    @JKB:

    The good news is, except for some rich people complaining about having to move, Wall Street can decamp to China in short order.

    And Wall Street wouldn’t if it thought there was more money to be made over there because?

  53. An Interested Party says:

    Finally, that such a group of people finds Romney a Republican they can approve of seems indicative that he’s not operating from conservative principle.

    Back to the drawing board with you.

    And yet Romney has a very good chance of being the GOP nominee…humph, doesn’t say much good about conservatives like you…perhaps you are the one who needs to go back to the drawing board…

  54. Stan says:

    @Eric Florack: During the period 1991 – 2007 the governors of Massachusetts were Republicans. All of them were right of center on economic issues, and I include Mitt Romney, whose health plan was based on studies made by the Heritage Foundation.

    The wisest conservatives, Bismarck, Churchill, and DeGaulle, for example, supported moderate reform to head off more extreme measures. To my mind, Obama’s Affordable Care Act falls in this category.

    You’re operating from a far right prospective, and I think I understand why you oppose the Affordable Care Act. Nevertheless, the reasons behind your opposition would be clearer to me if you told me how the Affordable Care Act is going to affect you personally.

  55. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: It’s the opposite in my case. I can cherry pick policies and politicians I like as a pundit. As a voter, I don’t seen much alternative to choosing a team. It would be odd to choose Mitt Romney and then also vote for Congressmen who are going to vote to put Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in charge of the Capitol. It’s possible, I guess, that Republicans will wind up nominating Herman Cain or Rick Perry and that I’ll therefore be forced to vote for Obama. In that instance, I might well vote for continued obstructionism in Congress in hopes that we get a reprise of 1995.

  56. Moosebreath says:

    bithead,

    “Finally, that such a group of people finds Romney a Republican they can approve of seems indicative that he’s not operating from conservative principle.”

    So when National Review indicated in 2008 (i.e., years after Romneycare passed) that Romney was sufficiently conservative for them, and Jim DeMint supported him in 2008, they were being misled about Romney’s conservativism? Or is there only 1 arbiter of True Conservativism in the US, who posts under the name Eric Florack?

  57. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    You may split your ticket voting, but it’s more important to … well vote each cycle toward the philosophy of government you personally support. Over time the parties may move relative to that.

    If you were say, a “RINIO” it would be foolish to still consider them your team, or to let them own your vote.

  58. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: It’s definitely a moving target. One of the luxuries of living as I do in Northern Virginia is that most of our Republican choices–and our Democratic choices, for that matter–are relatively centrist and non-crazy. Strategically, I’m still closer in alignment with Boehner than Pelosi and McConnell than Reid. Beyond the top leadership–especially at the committee chairman level–it’s less cut-and-dried than it was five, certainly ten, years ago.

  59. Eric Florack says:

    @Rick Almeida:
    Apparently, you trust newsmax about as much as I trust the supposedly mainstream media. But had you bothered, you’d find that they’re not the only source.

    So when National Review indicated in 2008 (i.e., years after Romneycare passed) that Romney was sufficiently conservative for them, and Jim DeMint supported him in 2008, they were being misled about Romney’s conservativism?

    You seem to be of the opinion that Heritage and Demint are some kind of authority on what constitutes conservatism. But if you also bothered to look, you’d find that Bush was conservative enough for them as well. So too was McCain. And those subjecs we’ve already touched on elsewhere.

  60. Eric Florack says:

    James… I heard an interesting discussion on this, this morning over at a Pittsburgh station, wherein the host pointed out there was a number of parallels between this “movement” and the anti-war movement of the 60’s. The discussion played off a rather interesting article to be found at The American THinker.

    I commend it to your reading, but I’ll include this from the article:

    The Democrats met in Chicago, supposedly under the benevolent control of the Daley clan, to nominate their presidential candidate. It had been a strange and brutal primary season. An uprising by the party’s far left, led by Sen. Eugene McCarthy, challenged incumbent Lyndon Johnson on an anti-Vietnam War platform. McCarthy effectively won the New Hampshire primary, coming in second in the vote but bagging most of the delegates and prompting Johnson to bow out in March. Vice President Hubert Humphrey ran instead. Seeing his chance, Bobby Kennedy leaped in, soon outlapping the lesser-known McCarthy. It appeared that that the Kennedy dynasty was in the process of seizing its legacy when RFK was shot by Palestinian gunman Sirhan Sirhan. The path appeared clear for Humphrey. (All this time, the sole GOP candidate, Richard Nixon, was alternately chuckling and shaking his head.)

    For several years, liberals had been attempting to co-opt the kids, to take control of the youth revolt of the ’60s — the youthquake, the counterculture, whatever — and use it for their own purposes, much as they had done with the civil rights movement earlier in the decade. Giving lip service to the kid’s concerns, intoning that “we must listen when the young people speak out,” mouthing approval of demonstrations, wearing paisley ties, the liberal Democrats did their level best to nudge the kids into becoming part of the liberal voting bloc.

    What they couldn’t grasp (and in large part still don’t) was that the ’60s revolt was aimed as much at liberalism as anything else. In the 1960s, liberalism was in control. It was the Establishment the kids were revolting against. There was no organized political opposition, and there hadn’t been since the McCarthy debacle in the mid-’50s. (Barry Goldwater, the first conservative Republican presidential aspirant since Calvin Coolidge, had been routed in 1964 by being transformed into Joe McCarthy, Jr.) Liberals had effectively run the country since the days of the New Deal and had been in complete political control since JFK took office. They had their plans — not at all different from those of our current incumbent. At the time, it was expressed in the form of the “Great Society,” an LBJ brainstorm that, like every other social-democratic attempt at governing, amounted to a soft form of totalitarianism. In exchange for cradle-to-grave welfare, the Great Society would run everything in the country for you without you having to bother your head about it. All you had to do was keep voting Row A.

    American kids weren’t having any of it, and throughout the latter half of the decade, they carried out what amounted to a massive, universal strike aimed directly at the liberal superstate. (Many conservatives operate under the assumption that it was aimed at them. But conservatism during the ’60s was still a coterie phenomenon, as far from the levers of power as it’s possible to get. The Reagan Revolution was a decade and more in the future.) This was helped along by the fact that the Vietnam War, yet another liberal project, had been dumped on the backs of the very kids that the liberals were trying to seduce. Very few Ivy-educated liberals were dying under Vietnam’s triple-canopy jungle.

    <blockquote

    Indeed; he's quote correct. Consider it; the Democrats had been in control since the disaster of FDR. The push was for them to "fght the power". Yet, who WERE the power?
    Democrats.

    I have vivid memories of Humphrey pandering to the youth of the day… including writing liner notes on an album cover of a band who had performed in Chicago that week… Tommy James, I think it was. The idea, then as no was co-opting the movement. If got him nowhere, of course.

  61. Ben Wolf says:

    @Eric Florack: Your quote comes from a man who doesn’t habe his timeline correct. The anti-war movement was a product of the 1970’s more than the 1960’s and the people protesting liberalism called themselves the New Left. This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone try to argue that the radical leftists of the anti-war movement were really conservatives. You guys really are on another planet.

  62. Moosebreath says:

    “You seem to be of the opinion that Heritage and Demint are some kind of authority on what constitutes conservatism”

    They are generally considered to be such, yes. So, other than bithead himself, who else is a current exemplar of True Conservatism?

  63. anjin-san says:

    I have vivid memories of Humphrey pandering to the youth of the day

    Reading your comments on this tread, its pretty apparent that you also took some of the brown acid at Woodstock.

  64. WR says:

    @Eric Florack: “It appeared that that the Kennedy dynasty was in the process of seizing its legacy when RFK was shot by Palestinian gunman Sirhan Sirhan. The path appeared clear for Humphrey. (All this time, the sole GOP candidate, Richard Nixon, was alternately chuckling and shaking his head.)”

    Who thought I’d ever agree with anythng published at American “Thinker.” And yet, now that the writer brings it up, it’s impossible to shake the image of Richard Nixon chuckling at RFK’s assassination. I’m pretty sure Bit thought it was hilarious, too…

  65. Eric Florack says:

    And yet Romney has a very good chance of being the GOP nominee…humph, doesn’t say much good about conservatives like you…perhaps you are the one who needs to go back to the drawing board…

    No, what it says is there’s a huge gap between the GOP rank and file, and it’s establishment leadership.

    I’m pretty sure Bit thought it was hilarious, too…

    Not particularly.

    So, other than bithead himself, who else is a current exemplar of True Conservatism?

    Many. Among them: Fred Thompson. Herman Cain. Sarah Palin would certainly qualify.
    Bachman, more or less. (What is it about liberals hating strong women?)

    Levin and Beck would be two more, to look outside the realm of the pol…. and Limbaugh, of course.

  66. Eric Florack says:

    Oh, and one thing nobody has dared touch on as yet…. the Rich are the new Jews. Well, look, a lot of them are jews but if you’re a leftist spouting your normal hatred, you can’t very well SAY “Jews”, lest you be dinged for it as “AdBusters” currently is.

    But here’s a question that nobody will dare answer: Why Is Class Hatred Morally Superior to Race Hatred?

  67. Eric Florack says:

    You’re operating from a far right prospective, and I think I understand why you oppose the Affordable Care Act. Nevertheless, the reasons behind your opposition would be clearer to me if you told me how the Affordable Care Act is going to affect you personally.

    Well, you can answer that one, yourself. What has happened to healthcare availablility and cost every time the government upped it;s involvement in healthcare?

    I mean, I could say the word “freedom”, but I’m afraid it would be beyond your ken.

    The anti-war movement was a product of the 1970′s more than the 1960′s and the people protesting liberalism called themselves the New Left.

    Sorry, no.
    You see, I lived through it.

    During the period 1991 – 2007 the governors of Massachusetts were Republicans.

    And what kind of “Republicans” would be elected by the same folks who elected Frank, Kennedy, and ol’ “Christmas in Cambodia”?

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone try to argue that the radical leftists of the anti-war movement were really conservatives. You guys really are on another planet.

    Nonsense. Are you suggesting they were marching in support of Kenney who started the war or Johnson who expanded the thing? Oh, wait, they must not have been real Democrats, huh?

  68. anjin-san says:

    Bit, I don’t suppose you have been up on a three day meth run – I was joking about the brown acid, but you should really listen to yourself sometime.

  69. Eric Florack says:

    @An Interested Party: And yet Romney has a very good chance of being the GOP nominee…humph, doesn’t say

    much good about conservatives like you…perhaps you are the one who needs to go back to the drawing board…

    You do recognize, of course, that you’ve just defeated the argument that the GOP is controlled by the extreme right? Face it, if that was true, Romney would be nowhere near where he is in this race. It is as I said; the party leadership and not the rank and file are the ones pushing these RINOs

  70. An Interested Party says:

    You do recognize, of course, that you’ve just defeated the argument that the GOP is controlled by the extreme right?

    I never claimed that the GOP is controlled by the extreme right…on the contrary, big business/corporations have far more sway over the GOP than any other group…

  71. Moosebreath says:

    bithead,

    “Fred Thompson. Herman Cain. Sarah Palin would certainly qualify.
    Bachman, more or less.”

    Wow. Some of the politicians who have accomplished the least while in office in the last two decades. No wonder you admire them.

    “(What is it about liberals hating strong women?)”

    Yawn. It would be equally accurate to note conservatives vitriol directed at Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton and conclude that they hate strong women.