03 October, 2008

"An Angry Fountain of Liberal Rage"

Progressive Conservative is terrified of me, so much so that he wouldn't participate in COTEB until it was hosted on safe ground for him. And his "plug" for the Carnival cracked me up:

For some time there has been this thing floating around called the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards. Since the founder is an angry fountain of liberal rage I can’t say I was ever that motivated to participate, despite the fact that two of my favorite fellow bloggers have. I like the premise though, which is that sometimes it’s okay to be an elitist.

This from a man who once berated me for not living up to his standards. He read this blog in its early days, and somehow formed the impression that I was not "an angry fountain of liberal rage." When the truth could no longer be denied, he threw a fit and left. He's been leaving whiny little comments about me on various blogs ever since. I wish I'd kept all the links. They're precious.

It's a signal honor to be called "an angry fountain of liberal rage" from a man who approvingly quotes Ann Coulter, who has swallowed the neocon lie that the Community Reinvestment Act led to our current economic disaster (free tip: it didn't), and believes McCain has "ideals." And that's just on the one page of his blog I scanned today.

He keeps using that word "progressive." I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

But I digress, because as fun as it is to beat up on fuckwits, I don't put Progressive Conservative into that category. Snowed by the Cons, yes. Unclear on the concept of progressive, absolutely. But at least he makes the occasional effort to understand liberals, and he wants to see his party make a beeline for the middle, so I've got to give him some props. He seems to believe that disagreements over politics and religion mean I despise him. I don't. I've even been nice to him over at The Coffee-Stained Writer, where his non-political commentary is perfectly agreeable. And I was delighted when he decided to jump aboard the HMS Elitist Bastard, even though, like John McCain, he refuses to meet my eyes. Let this paragraph stand as evidence of the fact that just because I find his politics laughable and his whining about me even more so doesn't mean I don't appreciate him as a fellow human being.

Let's get back to the main point, then: I am indeed "an angry fountain of liberal rage." I own that title with pride.

I'm bitterly angry. Often enraged. I've been running on a high-octane combination of hope and outrage this election year. I've embraced my leap to the left. I am now a dyed-in-the-wool progressive Democrat who will never tack center again. If Progressive Conservative needs someone to blame for that, he need look no further than George W. Bush and the raving band of batshit insane neo-theo-con fucktards he infested our political infrastructure with.

Those readers who have been with me since the beginning know I used to be a left-leaning centrist, a person utterly disinterested in politics, bored by religion, and dismissive of the culture wars. I'd never even voted before 2006. The last thing I needed to waste my time on was democracy. All candidates, I figured, were pretty much the same. Why bother to vote? I was happier staying home on election day, blissfully ignorant of the sturm und drang of politics and government. All I ever wanted or needed was my cat, my writing, and my friends.

Along came Bush, who destroyed my contentment.

I watched him piss away the worldwide outpouring of support and empathy from nearly every country on this planet, including those who had traditionally hated us. America could have been at the forefront of a new era of international cooperation and progress. Instead, he attacked a country that had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of September 11th. He lied to America, he lied to the world, rode roughshod over every ally we had, and eliminated any chance of making this world a better place.

That wasn't enough to get me politically engaged. But it made me long for Clinton, who may not have been able to keep it in his pants but sure as fuck knew how to raise America's standing in the world. I will tell you why I became a Clinton supporter. I didn't know the best of what he'd done until long after he was out of office, but I caught this moment during his presidency that told me our nation was in excellent hands. At Camp David, Yassir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin were going to dinner. Rabin was trying to do the polite thing and let Arafat enter the dining room first. Arafat, survivor of too many assassination attempts, refused. And there they were, stuck in the doorway arguing over who should go first, until Clinton laughed and threw open the other half of the double door. Rabin and Arafat entered the dining room side-by-side.

Can you imagine Bush doing the same thing? I didn't think so.

I hated the Iraq war. I hated Bush for using a tragedy as his excuse for finishing what Daddy started. But it wasn't enough to slap me out of my political apathy. I didn't vote in 2004. Kerry didn't inspire me enough. If it had been Gore, I might have dragged myself to the polls. If I'd been an angry liberal then, even lack of inspiration wouldn't have kept me from pulling the lever for everyone with a D after their name.

What really did it was the onslaught of abuses that followed that second election, the revelations that started coming out. I'd never wanted to live in a country that tortured human beings, and yet Bush took an enormous shit on the Geneva Conventions and all sense of decency, and we became a nation that tortures. I'd never wanted to live in a country that spied on its citizens, yet his warrantless wiretapping was gathering steam, and he didn't see a damned thing wrong with shredding the Fourth Amendment. Iraq, far from being the cakewalk promised, was an utter disaster. Everything Bush and his lapdogs had said to get us there turned out to be lies. Our standing in the world had tanked. Countries that had been our staunch allies for decades, sometimes centuries, were turning away from us. Everything I loved about America, everything we stood for, all of our ideals, Bush flushed away.

I registered as an Independent in 2006, and voted a straight Democratic ticket. I voted my anger. I voted for a slate of people who were just as angry as I was.

These past two years, I've paid close attention to politics. And everything I've seen has only made me angrier. America's turning into a theocracy. The frothing fundies, egged on by a president who has no respect for democracy, the rule of law, or Constitutional ideals, have come bursting out of fringe and imposed themselves on the mainstream. They've completed their takeover of the Republicon party. Four more years of Republicon rule, and I guarantee you we'll be living in a theocracy.

The cons have destroyed our foreign policy, our economy, and our morality. They've attacked science, wasted precious time in fighting global warming because they either care more for Big Oil profits or believe the world's going to end too soon for global warming to matter. They've turned our political discourse into an endless fullisade of smears, bald lies, and bullshit. They have no respect for ordinary Americans, choosing to exploit them instead. They've annihilated the middle class, robbed from the poor to give to the rich, and now blame all of our woes on minorities and poor folk. They've polarized the nation. They've installed ideologues at every level of our infrastructure. They engaged in a culture of political hirings, firings and corruption that's breathtaking in its scope. I can't even keep up with the constant scandals. You want to know why Americans aren't screaming in the streets? There's too much to scream about. Where do you even begin to protest when the list of outrages is so enormous?

They have so much contempt for America that they fielded John McCain as a candidate. They figured a lying neocon POW would deceive us into believing they've turned over a new leaf. And because they're so convinced of our stupidity, they chose Sarah Palin, a Dominionist serial liar and one of the most idiotic politicians ever to disgrace the national stage, as their vice presidential candidate.

The secrecy, the lying, the naked grabs for power, power and more power, the corruption, the warmongering, the economic idiocy, the anti-science and anti-human policies, the egregious stupidity, the cynical manipulation, the propaganda, the lawbreaking, the advocation of torture, the belligerance, and the failures of this administration have been more than enough to turn me from a moderate into an angry fountain of liberal rage. All of that drove me straight into the arms of the Democratic party, where I belonged all along.

I won't always be so outraged. Someday, this country will make it out of this wilderness, should we survive the fallout from the last eight years. We can restore our Constitution, our national ideals, our world standing, and our decency. Our economy can recover. The middle class can thrive again. America can once again become a beacon of hope and liberty in the world. I believe the Democrats will get us there. We just have to hand them the power, and keep watch lest power tempt them to stray.

It's up to us.

I will never again trust the Republicons. My anger at the necons that brought us to this pass will ever end. Judging from what many Republican politicians have been saying, that's not just liberal anger talking.

Rage can be a useful emotion. It prods us to action. It forces us to stand up against those who would destroy this nation for their own glorification. Rage brought me to the polls, and rage will keep me involved in American democracy. I rage against inequality, prejudice, racism, injustice. It's part of what makes me a true progressive. And I will always have that rage.

Rage told me that I love my country. If I didn't, the betrayal of everything America stood for wouldn't have outraged me so much. And now, I'll be using that rage to work for a better future for this nation, and for the world. Someday, I'll be able to celebrate the outcome of that rage: the restoration of the American dream, the end of the neoconservative extremism that almost destroyed us, a world with a bright future.

When that day comes, I'll be the happiest angry fountain of liberal rage you could ever hope to meet.


stevec said...

Hi, nice blog. I've been trying to understand this subprime mess, and being a liberal myself, I'd like it if I could show that the CRA didn't lead the the meltdown. Now, I don't think that it was necessarily the "lending to poor people" push that did it, I do that being able to package up and securitize loans ("securitize" means to turn them into securities -- like stocks) was a huge factor. Wikipedia says the CRA is what permitted this.

Now I think it was the repeal of Glass-Steagal which got the investment bankers into the picture, and they were, I think, much much more "into" the idea of securitizing loans, and made it much more prevalent than it had been before. But this last is just sort of speculation on my part, it makes sense, and it could be the case, but I don't know that it really is.

Then there's the whole credit default swaps mess -- a brand new financial invention, which being brand new, and taking the form of a contract between two parties came onto the scene unregulated.

Would like to know what you think in more detail about this, esp. wrt whether the CRA authorized the securitization of loans, as I think this is more of the source of the problem than "loaning to poor people" is, since securitization of loans removes the financial penaltry of making a bad loan to a party other than the lender.

Securitization of loans connects the giant money pipe that is everyone's 401k, IRA, etc investments up to the back end of the lending industry and shifts the risks from lender to investor, while at the same time hiding the risk.

So, if the CRA did actually authorize securitization of loans, I can't see how it isn't part of the problem. But, it doesn't seem to me to be part of the problem in the way that most people who are saying it is the problem seem to think.

But, I'm not a financial guy, so I might be talking out my ass. I'm just trying to understand it better, as best I can.

NP said...

PC may disagree with you and may find you full of rage, but isn't that the point? You're sharing your opinions, you're standing up for what you believe in, and you're not making excuses for what you say. I wish more people did the same.

You and I disagree on issues (although I find myself leaning left enough to need to put a foot down on that side to steady myself), but we're still friends. Heart sisters, even.

As cliche as it may sound, I'm thankful I live in a country that allows us to be "an angry fountain of liberal rage." Or conservative rage. Or green rage. Or whatever.

Woozle said...

My collection of stuff on blaming Clinton for the meltdown is here, though I may move it to its own topic page at some point. (Kudos to Dana for the wonkroom link, which led to a rebuttal from back in April already.)


Rereading the early Progressive Conservative from Dana's link, I found this comment of his particularly relevant: "The vast majority of America has no interest in either side and would just prefer they both shut the hell up."

He was talking about "militant atheism" vs. theism, but I think it applies in other areas too -- such as whether or not certain people are telling the truth or being lying, manipulating scumbags. Why can't we "militant truthists" just let it go when the Repugs lie blatantly and get away with it? We're probably turning a lot of people off the idea of truthism, you know...

The failure of the sheep to give a damn which way they are being led by the herder may lead to an America where we can't stand up and be enraged anymore. (Indeed, many of them will be quite happy if us rabble are forced to shut the hell up.)

I don't know why they don't care, but I can't really be too angry at a sheep for being a sheep.

But when someone tries to defend sheephood as a valid intellectual position, and one we should all embrace in the name of the greater good... that's when I tend to see red (a color frequently found in slaughterhouses).

Cujo359 said...

Unfortunately, Woozle, you're right. Our argument with the religious fanatics isn't about whether there are gods or not, nor is it about the nature of those gods. It's about the future. It's about whether your wife, girlfriend, or daughter can have a safe abortion. It's about whether we can get the kinds of drugs we need without having to go all over town to find a pharmacy that's willing to fill the prescription. It's about whether or not science is taught properly in our schools. Most importantly, it's about whether we have to belong to one particular religion to be full citizens.

I'm not terribly interested in how banks work. I never have been. But right now I'm learning everything I can, which is kinda hard, because everyone has an opinion and they aren't always careful about labelling the latter as such. It's an important issue, and how we resolve it is going to determine our economic future for my lifetime, and maybe beyond.

So I wish folks like PC, if they're really disinterested in all these questions, would just sit down and shut the fuck up and let the rest of us determine their futures for them. Or they can learn what they need to and then tell us where they stand.

Cujo359 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cujo359 said...

SteveC, my take on this is that there are probably regulations that need to be reconsidered in this area. There may even be some that should be scrapped altogether. That much seems obvious. Unfortunately, though, one of the main problems has been that the regulations we have aren't enforced properly. This is something that's been going on since the Reagan Administration. Clinton was no better than the others in this area. One of Phil Gramm's actions as a Senator, which I mentioned in this article, was to limit the funding of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), so it was less effective at regulating these businesses. Enforcement of the regulations was left to the states, which is one of the reasons Eliot Spitzer became involved in the Enron investigations.

There's plenty of blame to go around, but I think the upshot is that this is all the result of the last thirty years of economic policy, particularly regarding the financial industry. Whether there was real deregulation or de facto regulation, deregulation was much of the cause.

Woozle said...

Cujo said "Clinton was no better than the others" with regard to proper enforcement of financial regulations.

My understanding is that Clinton presided over the biggest declassification and transparentization of government operations in the history of the US.

If that's true, and if enforcement of regulations was the way to have prevented the mess we're in now, and transparency is one way to ensure enforcement, it seems to me he stands head and shoulders above the others.

So which part of that chain is wrong?

Cobalt said...

Wow. I think that should be in the description to your blog. I don't know anyone whose blog got a title that cool.

Unsympathetic reader said...

A bunch of young pups around here.

It was the Reagan years that first set the stage for my profound annoyance with things GOP. I knew Bush was going to be an idiot but expected him to only make it through one term (He was well into a downward spiral after his first year of office), but I never anticipated the extent of the damages he could do. I think few did at that time.

At least I'm am proud to have voted for Wellstone for Senate and against Arianna Huffington's first husband in California.

Call me a jaded but proud liberal.

Unsympathetic reader said...

On reflection, being called an 'angry fountain of liberal rage' sounds a bit effete. At least the fountain part.

Alternate suggestions:
* An enraged volcano of liberal rage.
* A thermonuclear explosion of liberal rage.
* Venting liberal rage like tree full of deranged howler monkeys.

Progressive Conservative said...

From Dana, He keeps using that word "progressive." I do not think it means what he thinks it means.


I'm not one of these people who try to shut down debates by always criticizing the source, but c'mon. If you're going to try and prove a point I don't know if a Daily Kos-associated Wiki is the place to go. That would be akin to me linking to Conservapedia to try and strengthen my case.

As I've said on my blog many, many times, there is a HUGE difference between the bastardized 'progressive' that liberals like to throw around today and the real Progressivism that was alive and well in this country once upon a time. I back up my assertion that Progressivism is not synonymous with liberalism by citing one of the men who lead in the the Progressive Era. Benjamin Disraeli, a fellow Progressive conservative said this:

"In a progressive country, change is constant; and the great question is not whether you should resist change, which is inevitable, but whether that change should be carried out in deference to the manners, the customs, the laws and traditions of a people, or whether it should be carried out in deference to abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines.”

It's that simple Dana. Change is going to happen, but smart conservatives want to see change grounded in reality, not based on the abstract and unproven principles that so many misguided liberals like yourself advocate. I base Progressivism on the giants of the movement: TR, Disraeli, LaFollete. You base yours on Obama. I suppose both postions are defensible, but mine seems so much easier.

opit said...

I always considered myself slightly right of center. These days that is billed as radical - WTF is a leftist anyhow ?
I studied types of government - briefly at school - and remember there were two extremes of authoritarian police states - Fascism and Bolshevic - and that most people preferred things less centralized and 'uptight'.
Oh yeah. There were Nazis in America prior to - and during - WW II. Communists ? Well, McCarthey made a big noise - which always seemed a convenient front for killing unions as 'unAmerican' in retrospect.
But yeah. Politics and me ? Not so much.
And I lived in a place that watched in quiet head-shaking at the enterprise of letting off endless tons of H.E. in the jungles of 'Nam for reasons that made no sense to many Americans - and it didn't stop the mass murder regardless.
I understand anger and disappointment. I also am not too chuffed at the lives lost 'fighting the Nazis' only to find 'We have met the Enemy, and He is Us' down the road.
I do, however, have a healthy respect for the brute force, spying,lying and hate consistently displayed by those who would enslave us all ( no hyperbole to that in the least - regardless of the experience before current deteriorating conditions).
Anger. Best thought of the day over the loss of an ideal.

Cujo359 said...

Enron happened on Clinton's watch, Woozle, as did a number of the excesses of the dot-com years. As for what "biggest transparentizaion" means, I have no idea. Only military and diplomatic information is classified. That has nothing to do with regulating an economy that I'm aware of.

Woozle said...

Cujo: "Enron happened on Clinton's watch" -- I doubt very much that you can blame Clinton for Enron, but I'd be interested in hearing what you think the connection is.

Some reading material:
* California electricity crisis: rolling blackouts were caused by state deregulation and bad judgement
* Enron scandal: Congress deregulated sale of electricity in "early 1990s", presumably under Clinton -- did Clinton advocate this or let it slide without comment or what?

But more to the point, failure to regulate Enron was due to their increasing use of "black box" accounting methods -- a quite new way of gaming the system which, as I understand it, had not been anticipated. I don't think Clinton did anything to encourage this, and as far as I can tell he did what he could to prevent this sort of thing in general via increased transparency.

By "transparentization", I mean making public information freely and easily available and accessible. The web hit the public radar under Clinton, and if I remember right a lot of the basic federal websites were created on his watch -- whitehouse.gov, THOMAS, and probably others. (Before that, while you might have been able to get the information, it would have taken some work.) There were other measures not directly related to the web but I'd have to research it. (Ok, one quickie: "Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments" which, iirc, specified how the FOIA should apply to online info services provided by the FedGov -- clearing the way for agencies to create web services without worrying about whether they would be deemed inappropriate.)

Cujo359 said...

There's no "connection", Woozle, they just didn't do their jobs - which was to deal with the mishmash of "creative" accounting methods these new companies were using to get around the laws. They did that at least partly due to philosophical reasons.

Woozle said...

Cujo: I realize probably nobody is reading this thread anymore, but I hate to leave a bogus argument standing.

The point in contention was whether "Clinton was no better than the others" with regard to proper enforcement of financial regulations.

In support of your point, you said "Enron happened on Clinton's watch, ... as did a number of the excesses of the dot-com years."

I pointed out (a) that Enron and the dot-bomb were due to new types of shenanigans not previously anticipated, and therefore not something which could be taken care of by "enforcement", and (b) all the work Clinton did towards increasing government transparency -- which doesn't address the core of the problem (i.e. questionable accounting practices in private industry), but it's certainly a hell of a lot better than what presidents before and after did, i.e. the exact opposite.

I suspect, too, that he did do some work towards improving accounting practices and accountability, but I would have to research it.

You responded that it wasn't that Clinton caused the problem, just that dealing with new types of shenanigans was part of his job -- which he didn't do.

That might be true, but it wasn't the point to which I was responding; your original point was that he didn't do his job any better than any other president. I argued that he did do so, by a considerable margin.