the Jane Hamsher Front — Strike the Empire Back!

(10 pm.  This was NPK’s and I screwed it up.  Apologies. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I know, I’m the pest who keeps complaining that, for all their heroic posturing, our progressive leaders have been pathetic in refusing to brandish any kind of retaliatory stick while begging the Democratic Party to not turn the healthcare bill into nothing more than the bloody stump of reform.  And urging those outraged at those pathetic leaders to start figuring out how to hit the Democratic Party where it hurts.

Then along comes Jane Hamsher.  For the record, I had criticized her in my intro to the Full Court Press as one of those progressive leaders who had caved in and was supporting the bill even without the “robust” public option she had once demanded.  But then she turned around and came out 4-square for killing the Senate bill.  And then, a few days ago, she joined with notorious scoundrel Grover Norquist  to demand an investigation of Rahm Emmanuel for malfeasance regarding his relationship with Freddie Mac.

Well, I gotta say the lady’s got guts.

Her move follows one or both of two tracks.  It could be seen as an innocent exercise in good  government.  Or it could be a counterpunch to the way Rahm and the White House have viciously sidelined progressives around, well, everything.  Both are valid.

But working with Norquist! the Dems cry while clutching at their smelling salts.  Okay, let’s look at the Democrats’ record.  The Stupak amendment passed mostly with Republican votes.  And then when the House Democrats passed its Stupak-laden bill, they made Stupak their own.  They passed a Republican measure.

So the Obamacrats cry “teabagger!”  Jane Hamsher is getting her money from Jack Abramoff!  Next thing you know, she’ll be leading teabagger rallies.  The charges are nonsense, but the underlying politic is worth some thought.

Make no mistake, the teabagger movement is a fascist-led, corporate-funded reactionary movement.  But its success is in part a monument to progressive failure.  While progressives had dreams of Obama-plums dancing in their heads, they ignored their working class base, which was outraged that Wall Street was getting bailed out while they were losing their homes.  They distrust the Fed.  They fear a distant government that might do things like, oh, mandating people to buy insurance they can’t afford.  The teabaggers were able to merge this righteous anger with backward racist and sexist currents in the American people.  Because progressives were asleep at the wheel!

As I think we are aware, the Democratic coalition is breaking down, between the American people and the Obama state, between  radical progressives and the Obamacrats.  None of this should be taken to mean that a Republican regime would be preferable this Democratic regime. It’s just that, as Patrick Henry said:

“They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed  … Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? … Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace.  The war is actually begun!”

I can’t know exactly what Hamsher is thinking, but her move could be — or could be used by progressives — to recapture part of our base.  This is dangerous business, there are poisonous snakes out there.  But I gotta say the lady’s got guts.  Many of us may question her tactics, but we can’t leave her hanging out to dry, to be pecked by the Obamacrat crows.  (First they came for …)  Her fight is organically linked with the fight to defeat the healthcare bloody stump.

What would it mean to support Jane Hamsher and advance our cause?  I really hate flame wars.  The vulgar taunts and schoolyard bullying destroy the environment if we somehow win them.  But they are destroying Kos.  It had become a place where we could organize around the healthcare fight.  As TheMomCat pointed out yesterday on the truly excellent Class Coalition thread, “I think it was in one of Meteor Blades diaries and it showed support for killing the bill was nearly 2 to one in favor.”  Kos hisself was supporting killing it.  No more.

I still like comparing Kos to a shopping mall:  crowded, vulgar and cheap.  After all, sometimes you’ve gotta get some cheap threads.  Now the Obamacrat thugs have turned it into a cesspool.

I took a look at a diary supporting Jane that had 1,400 comments.  I started analyzing a sample using Word search/replace, and saw 20 people had 356 of those comments, 6 had 275 of the 356.  A relatively small group of thugs is setting the tone for everyone.  Is this a place to fight?  I really don’t know.  If we do it as individuals, I fear that we’ll come out battered and bummed, it should be a group effort.

geomoo noted, on the Class Coalition thread:

I don’t challenge pure nonsense.  I don’t go into most of them, and when I do go, I make at most 6 or so comments.  None of those comments–none–are defensive.  During this Hamsher nonsense, for example, I have only argued one thing–Rahm is an enemy of progressive policy.  I stayed away from arguing Hamsher, or even the HC bill, for the most part.  On that ridiculous ad hominem diary that topped the rec list, for example, I only argued one thing–that the entire diary was ad hominem.  When challenged, I went into excruciating detail to prove the claim.  I don’t think that was participating in clogging the site up.

That’s a good approach, if we want to take it.  I’m curious as to what people think.

A Second Front

We can also go way beyond saying, “You go Jane!” and holding her coat.  It would entail following her example.  She went after the malfeasance of Rahm Emmanuel, and whether or not he’s criminally guilty, the Obama/Wall Street connection is brought into sharp focus with a real bite.

So why can’t we excoriate the derelictions of Bernanke?

Blister the befoulments of Summers?

Castigate the malefactions of Geithner?

This is deadly business.  The healthcare hacks go misty over the 45,000 who die from lack of insurance.  But that bloody shirt stuff cuts two ways.  How many will die from malnutrition, homelessness, foreign war, on and on?  Yes, I’ll probably end up voting for Obama over Palin or Huckabee, but that has no bearing on the fight we must have now.  Obama may still have an aura of sanctity, but his lieutenants are highly vulnerable.

For that, though, we would need ammunition, and it would be a stretch for us all to become researchers in short order.  But hey, I happen to know where there’s an ammo factory open to all.  It’s called Culture of Life News ( ), run by Elaine Supkis, a most interesting character.  She grew up in ruling class/CIA circles, and knows them inside and out.  Her approach is uncompromisingly international.  She can come off as a little batty, repetitive, conspiratorial, alarmist.  But she knows her stuff.  She digs into the financial news and puts it all together.  No one is better at exposing the economic collapse we are enduring, or the schemes of the rich and powerful.  She understands the lies that prop up the system and create an illusion of recovery.  She knows the credit vehicles and the markets and the looting schemes.  She has an excellent take on the irreversible deterioration of the American Empire.  I can’t vouch for everything she says, timelines for future events are always tricky things.  But I consider her analysis fundamentally solid.

SHE KNOWS THE DIRT ON THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE, that’s for sure, an impressive arsenal

Unfortunately, her focus on economics leaves her ambivalent about government spending.  I think she is politically isolated.  She echoes Ned Beatty’s Network speech:

“There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reich marks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels.  It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today.”

And as in Network, nobody want to hear the bad news.

But I gotta admit, this lady’s also got guts.

So to conclude

As I’ve noted elsewhere, I think the big coming fight, a fight which as the Class Coalition diary notes will generate an organizable constituency, is the fight for jobs.  Going after Obama’s Wall Street hit squad should be an integral part of the run-up to the jobs fight.

So I’m trying to put some things together.  You may differ over Hamsher, Norquist, Kos or Supkis.  I don’t want to quibble over details.  I’m trying to put together a methodological framework for us to get traction in what promises to be a frightening and exciting time.


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    • Diane G on December 27, 2009 at 23:51

    and a crook is a crook.

    So, we should not stand in agreements with assholes, even when they are correct?

    Heck no. Take their support when it is on a common cause, and oppose them only when they are wrong.

    Cassiodorus wrote a great essay, but I had already been thinking about this, and it needed to go further yet.

    Hence why I essayed my reply to that essay today.

    I agree with you, sometimes it takes great big kahunas and adult choices to do the right thing.

  1. those Obamabots who screamed at the top of their lungs about Bipartisanship and working with those who disagree with you? “Politics is about compromise”…”Obama was going to do this”! “He announced it”!

    Yeah? Jane Hamsher signs a letter of protest with Norquist about Rahm Emanuel?…Then all that shit goes away.

    Suddenly Jane is a traitor for working with the enemy…

    Which this president has been in bed with the whole time.

  2. at this one at the top of the rec list now… interesting.

    He frames is as “the 1990’s are over” and makes some good points such as…

    Asking progressives to internalize criticism, to become self-hating. This is probably the saddest aspect of 1990s politics of them all. Good politics is about authenticity – speaking your own truth, pursuing what you really want, instead of living a lie. It’s also a good way to live one’s life. Obama won a big electoral victory in 2008 by embracing authenticity in his campaign rhetoric. He is also governing that way – as an authentic neoliberal. Progressives, however, are asked to believe that their own values, views, concepts, morals, desires, wants and needs are somehow illegitimate, flawed, undesirable, pathetic, weak, reckless, fanciful, and worst of all, damaging to the broader movement. Progressives get treated as the crazy aunt to be kept in the attic when company comes over. It’s worse than insulting, it’s stunningly bad politics. But too many progressives have internalized these beliefs, and are thus unwilling to own their own power.

    and he concludes with

    But we should approach those situations from a position of strength. Instead we’ve been approaching them from an internalized sense of weakness, where we believe the things that are said about us by people who want to block our agenda from becoming law.

    Sometimes the most practical thing you can do is throw off the obsolete ideas and frameworks of the past. Until we realize that the 1990s – and the 2000s – are really over, that progressives have the ability to drive our agenda forward and defeat both the corporations and their right-wing stooges, we will be reliving the 1990s as a sort of permanent Groundhog Day (itself an iconic product of that decade) forever.

    • dkmich on December 28, 2009 at 12:57

    this is a problem, imo.

    Yes, I’ll probably end up voting for Obama over Palin or Huckabee, but that has no bearing on the fight we must have now.  

    You can fling mud all you want;  but if you aren’t willing to give and take a punch, you will fold and run when they get pissed at your for it and come after you.  They count on it.  Until you are willing to go for broke, you still cede the upper hand.  

    • banger on December 29, 2009 at 05:28

    … and we have to understand why. It is the fatal lure of identity and cultural politics as well as studied naivite on the part of the left–as if politics is a battle of sermons.

    Hamsher is leading the way.

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