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April 28, 2006

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The article is a fairly specific set of policy and strategy prescriptions, despite my concentration on the more philosophical aspects.

On the war they could be sharper, although they say:

"First, progressives must constantly remind Americans of conservatives’ inability to produce a safer world environment . . .

"Second, progressives should repeatedly remind Americans that the Iraq War equals conservative failure and dishonesty.
Progressives must take a strong stand against an open-ended war in Iraq that is depleting our military, draining resources, testing our global authority, and exposing us to greater terrorist dangers across the globe. Progressives should argue for a clear exit strategy, with measurable markers of progress, and a timeframe that brings home all but the most essential troops in Iraq -- those necessary to protect our embassies, conduct critical counterterrorism measures, and continue ongoing military training -- as quickly as possible. This redeployment of troops should allow the U.S. to focus on real terrorist threats and get the targets off the backs of our troops.

"Progressives should state clearly that there will be no long-term military bases in Iraq and that our stay in Iraq will be temporary to help ensure stability during the democratic transition. We should demand full accountability for the misuse of pre-war intelligence and the absence of weapons of mass destruction; the billions of dollars in taxpayer money squandered in Iraq or lost through corruption; torture and abusive treatment of detainees; and failure to provide adequate plans for the war by military and civilian officials alike."

Excellent, as before, Mimikatz.

There's so much to discuss here, but let me just note that last bit about the 1950s. The wonderfulness of that era IS a myth, of course, inflated in some people's memories (actual or vicarious) because it was sandwiched between the difficulties of the '30s, the horrors of the '40s and the upheaval of the '60s. The truth can be found in our real experiences - as women, gays, people of color, gray-flanneled organization men, atomic veterans - and in books like Stephanie Coontz's fine The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap.

But if Democrats could somehow come up with a means to transform both the myth and reality of now-trampled community spirit into something actual for the still-new century, I think they'd have a message and a mission that would resonate.

This is somewhat tautological (and I haven't read the article yet), but the 1950s was the last time we had a national myth that unified most of the country. That is, there was no question of common good--the myth of America was enough.

Then again, it's also significantly before the quality of life began to fall off in the 1970s.

Anywa, just my first impressions. I'll come back and comment again when I've read the article and can be a little more intelligent.

Parts are a myth, and parts aren't. There was a sense of community, but it could all too easily become stultifying conformity that made life difficult for people who were "different" in any way. But it is still true that in those days a CEO was content to make 40 or 50 times what the average worker made and he typically contributed to the community, sitting on the United Way or YMCA board, or perhaps even the local school board.

When the Reaganites began glorifying greed and competition in the 1980s, and seducing the upper middle class away from community service and into consumerism, we also saw the emergence of the celebrity CEO, the cult of winners, a resurgence of conspicuous consumption on a grand scale.

The problem of valuing life in terms of the accumulation of "stuff" is that the Jack Welches and Dennis Kozlowskis and Bernie Ebberses will always take far more than their fair share, leaving only the crumbs for everyone else. Millions of people are left seeing a way of life portrayed on TV as "average" which is, in reality, far beyond the mean, and idealize those with lots more.

I understand that wages may have been "artificially" high in the post-war period because only the US had much industrial capacity, but it is also undeniable that in the last 15-20 years all the gains have gone to those at the top, and there was nothing preordained about that--it was the result of conscious policy choices.

What Tuxiera and Halpin say sounds plausible to me. But the elephant in the room that they don't talk about is the Democratic Party's addiction to corporate (read Republican) money. In this sense Gray Davis (and not Harry Truman) is the paradigm of the current Democratic Party. How can the Party embrace the Common Good and a Progressive agenda IN SUBSTANCE while still being dependent on funding from Viacom and GE?

Here's a California example. People here in Humboldt County were fighting land rape by Houston based (and consumate Republican friend of Bush) Charles Hurwitz and the company he took over, the Pacific Lumber Company, the owner of the largest remaining stands of unprotected ancient Redwood forests on the planet. Line civil service employees in the Department of Fish and Game ("DFG") were opposing Pacific Lumber timber harvest plans because they were destroying watershed salmon depend on. Gray Davis had dinner with Hurwitz. Hurwitz contributed $50,000 to whatever Democratic fund Davis recommended. Shortly thereafter, Susan Kennedy, Davis's hatchetwoman, sat down with DFG employees and invited Jared Carter -- Pacific Lumber's general counsel. Kennedy -- a Democrat -- told these civil service employees their careers would be in the toilet if they opposed any more Pacific Lumber timber harvest plans.

Mouthing the Common Good will not cut it because people are used to seeing all politicians do that. People know bullshit when they hear it. They heard it from Clinton when he was running for office. And they saw what he did after Clinton had an intimate chat with Robert Rubin about the need to placate bond holders.

No one is addressing how the Party can be competitive in the absence of corporate money, nor are they addressing how the Party could survive a purge (and that's what it would be) of its corporate DLC lackeys.

So are we talking marketing slogans or what?

Oh, and I forgot to add that Big Daddy Jesse Unruh said that, "money is the mother's milk of politics."

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