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Wednesday, December 01, 2004



Marc, at the risk of sounding like a sycophant, this was a great article. Unfortunately, the DNC and most Democrats won't listen. Many of your readers will because you attract a goodly number of like minded progressives and you speak to their motivation. But, that isn't the DNC problem.

I posted two articles recently that touch on a different aspect of what you note as a major problem for the Dems: A will to disbelieve. Here
http://gmscorner.blogspot.com/2004/11/cognitive-dissonance-indeed.html and here http://gmscorner.blogspot.com/2004/11/view-from-left-or-view-from-way-out-in.html I note two articles from the dem supporters, both of which are, in my opinion, way off the mark. One attempts to explain the Democrat loss by noting Republican Cognitive Dissonance the other by imagining Bush's "future" failures. Neither are grounded in reality. Both are fanciful leaps into the realm of seemingly irrational behaviors.

As a Goldwater supporter in 64 (I was to young to vote) to a firm voter for Humphery in 68 I know well the futility of dreaming up excuses for losing. Johnson cheated just like he did in '48 (Does Landslide Lyndon ring a bell?) and the American People were too dumb not to listen to the TRUTH from Goldwater. In 68' it was because Nixon had a "secret plan" to end the Vietnam war and encouraged the anti-war demostrations in Chicago at the Democratic Convention to make the Happy Warrior look bad. Etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum......

There is only one reality, as you have said so many times. Bush won because he convinced a majority of those voting to vote for him. Kerry lost because he could NOT convince enough people to vote for him. When the Democrats figure out that they have an obligation to put together a winning package and a responsibility to effectively sell that package to the voting public than this country will be better off. A really viable two party system (or three or four party) is the only thing that will help this country move forward.

Now, personaly I think those that have been slamming Bush are wrong and that the next four years will prove that. But, I could be wrong, just as I was wrong when Clinton got elected in '92, he was a lousy president who happened to preside over some good times. If I am wrong, the Republic will survive, just as it would have survived had Kerry been elected.

Democrats it's time to grow up, and as I noted in my dissonance article above, it's time to MOVE-ON!

Marc Cooper

GM../ I LOVE sycophants! Seriously... thanks. And now let us hope that Republicans are able to overcome denial after the January elections in Iraq lead only to deeper war... that's the big issue that's facing us in the coming year.


Marc, beloved friend, you are assuming that the Iraqi elections will prove a disaster and deepen the war. That's not a position I'm willing to take. Non Republican/Democrat/American information from Iraqi bloggers indicate that things are getting better. For the Iraqi people, I pray that this will be so.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

Re: Jesse Jackson

There are an awful lot of good social movements that are hijacked (in whole or in part) by those who use it for their own purpose. It is like stealing a brand name. Jesse Jackson has been doing that for a long time with the civil rights movement. He took MLK's dream and movement and made it into an extortion machine. He has been shaking down companies for cash by threatening civil rights suits, while amassing a lot of money and pretending to be for the poor. His time is past. The Democrats have to go along because they are so dependent on the black vote.

Re: Iraq. Time will tell. We should all hope for democracy and peace in Iraq. But the middle east is complex and hard to predict. The dice were rolled, and we're still waiting for them to stop. One thing we know: Saddam won't be paying for suicide bombers in Israel, won't be murdering his own people, won't be threatening Kuwait or shooting at our airplanes daily, won't be starving kids and denying them medical care because he has embezzled the aid for them, won't be enriching French, Russian and UN fat cats (NOW I know what multilateralism means: huge bribes paid to people in many countries), and won't provide Iran with an excuse for having a nuclear deterrent.

The issue facing us in the coming year could be a reinvigoration of the USSR (keep an eye on events in the Ukraine), a terrorist nuclear strike in a US or European city (or Moscow), the assassination of Musharaff (sp?), a revolution in Iran, North Korea doing something nutty... the possibilities in today's world are limitless.

Then again, the year could be relatively peaceful.

Marc Cooper

GM.. I dont think so. Security conditions are at a low point by every reasonable appraisal I have seen. The mistaken strategies of the Bush admin have not put us (and the Iraqis) in a damned if we do and damned if we dont position vis a vis the elections. If they are postponed it will provoke a Shia uprising by the 60% of the population that now assumes it will sweep the elections and overcome the oppression of the Brits, the Ottmans and Saddam. If they are not postponed, there's a probably Sunni boycott in the tiange of death rendering the new government very unstable and illegit in the eyes of some of the most powerful sectors of Iraqi society. Praying is, indeed, in order.


"here is only one reality, as you have said so many times. Bush won because he convinced a majority of those voting to vote for him. Kerry lost because he could NOT convince enough people to vote for him."

Alex Cockburn said no less a few weeks back.

jim hitchcock

Marc, hope is a necessary ingredient to mental well-being, but do you really expect Republicans to overcome denial after the January elections tank(their much more likely to buy into the spin Bush will so (in)sincerly generate). Asking for a bit much, that. It's kind of like assuming that the 45% or so of Americans that still believe Saddam had WMD's (and planned to use them to attack the country). Denial is just to comfortable a place to live for some folk.

Marc Davidson

In so far as the electoral controversy brings about substantive changes in the way we conduct elections, this is a good thing. There are serious problems with the current system regardless of the legitimacy of the outcome. According to Jimmy Carter, the Carter Center wouldn't even have agreed to monitor our elections. This is a serious issue that won't go away by itself. Does anyone know of a way to bring attention to this problem that would satisfy Marc Cooper? I think those on the left can walk and chew gum at the same time. Self-reflection is definitely in order; however, many of those who were disenfranchised for two national elections in a row are looking for leadership here.
With regard to the MoveOn message; clearly one of the few shining moments in the campaign was the increased participation of citizens on a grass-roots level. This was facilitated by organizations like MoveOn and ACT. This is a good thing for our democracy. And they should be pleased with their efforts. Only a hardened cynic would see otherwise. There have always been those on the intellectual Left who have little regard for the struggle on the ground or who regard the struggles of a generation ago as much more legitimate than the current ones.


Marc D. writes, "This was facilitated by organizations like MoveOn and ACT."

Wouldn't it have been better if MoveOn and Act had provided something besides meeting with like minded individuals and attempted to sell their agenda to the public. It seems to me that most of their effort was mental masturbation with their visceral dislike of Bush. Anger/hatred seldom moves people other than the angry one.

Mavis Beacon

GM, I liked your cognitive dissonance post.

The “liberal” MSM hasn’t picked up on the “fraud” meme (though conservatives haven’t thanked them), and many left rags – the Nation, Alternet, Donkey Rising – have soundly rejected it. It is the task of cooler heads on the left to convince our brethren that there is no conspiracy and remind them how much the popular vote really means in terms of legitimacy.
Marc Davidson, the message that gets transmitted to the wider public smells of sour grapes. That’s bad politics. It delegitimizes the real, populist issue of election impropriety.

On Iraq - For the last year, conservatives have been telling me that things are "getting better" and the MSM is failing to report it. That argument might fly for a week. But after a month or two the media would inevitably pick up on improvements in security, basic services, or politics. Instead they write articles, often quoting active servicemen, positing things are getting worse. Is there a MSM conspiracy not to report newsworthy improvements in Iraq? Please pass the cognitive dissonance.

Marc Davidson

GM, The grass-roots organizations did much of the outreach and voter education during the campaign. "Meeting with like minded individuals" is not how I would categorize these efforts, which, unfortunately, were insufficient. Sure, a lot of the message was against the Bush agenda, but to categorize this as "hate" and "mental masturbation" is to show little regard for dissent. I think you could say the same about any opposition movement. I don't have a visceral hatred for Bush. I would have wished for him a comfortable retirement in Crawford.
One thing is clear: if the DNC and the Kerry campaign had to do it without these groups, the results would have been far worse.

Markus Rose

Marc -- I don't find your criticism of the Dems particularly constuctive. The reason the Democratic Party fudges tough issues and ends up looking like it stands for nothing is not becuase it's made up of idiots, it's because it lacks a consensus on these really tough issues. Both you and Michael Totten, for instance, were dismayed by Kerry's vacilations on Iraq. Fine, but if Kerry clarified himself in your direction (with a stronger anti-war stance) he would have solidified Michael's opposition to him, and vice versa. Same goes for trade policy, and the "social issues" as well. The party will have a bunch of would-be leaders in the coming years with sharply divergent views on where the party should go: on one hand, toward economic populism, a la Thomas Frank or Jim Hightowter; on the other, toward Evan Bayh and John Breaux style centrism designed to appeal to white upper middle class suburbanites. On the third and fourth hands, towards a stronger defense of secularism and libertarian stands on social issues, and away from such a stance as well. In the end, some slick Democratic pol will again attempt to bridge all of these irreconcilable viewpoints, and will end up being accused of being an opportunistic phony who doesn't stand for something by you and other purists on one side or another side of these issues. But he or she just might win the election.

Mark Schubb

Excellent piece, Marc.   Move-On's Top Six are brilliant strategic priorities -- or at least they would be -- if we were all playing the Special Noam Chomsky Edition of SIMM CITY.

Silly me, I thought the way to challenge the faux-populism of the GOP was to be the saviors of families and working people on bread and butter issues -- like healthcare, jobs and wages, education.   And MAYBE even be the little guys who stand up against the tectonic shift of all wealth upward... but I guess that doesn't fit with the Move-On plan to save America.

So... the "left wing" Dems will be offering a stimulating dialectic on media and electoral reform -- while all the other Dems are assigned to bagging corporate cash.

Markus Rose

How do you propose that Democrats be the "saviors of families and working people on bread and butter issues -- like healthcare, jobs and wages, education"? If you're talking about protectionism, and higher taxes to fund a better safety net, what evidence do you have that such views would be any more popular than what Kerry was peddling. On the contrary. Not that I personally would have a problem with a leftist economic agenda. But I already vote Democrat.


Being a member of the democratic party (which I am) is like filing for your sixth divorce and being unwilling to admit that it might not be only the other peron's fault.

Move-on is your one loser friend who tells you s/he can't believe what bad luck you have.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

The question on Shia behavior hangs largely on Sistani and the Iranians. Sistani does not appear to want a chaotic and violent country. He doesn't show the imperialist ambitions of his Iranian counterparts. He also is nobody's idiot (unlike Sadr). He may also be much sneakier and dangerous than we know.

Whether the Shia will settle for some sort of government that balances the needs of the three primary (and 3 zillion secondary and tertiary) ethnic groups is an important question, where the answer appears to be yes at the moment (until the Iranians kill Sistani). The Sunnis, on the other hand, don't appear to have a central leader. They have the most to lose, and they only way they are not going to lose it is to reconquer the country, which isn't going to happen (other than a US pullout at the wrong time, but even that would probably lead to an Iranian invasion).
The Kurds would probably be happy to maintain status quo. They had a pretty good deal going under international protection.

1) Leave Saddam in place (put him back). Then the only dying is Iraqis and we don't see it. As far as I can tell, most posters on this blog would have preferred that we never unseated the old butcher in the first place.

2) Ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis, and possibly fission with Kurdistan to the North (many complications) and Shiastan to the south. Things would quiet down, although Sunnit terrorism, at a low level, would persist forever.

Those aren't very satisfying, although sometimes I think a humane version of ethnic cleansing (as was done in Vietnam in 1954 or so) can clean messes left by colonialism.

Or, we could try to help the Iraqis that want a suitable form of government, and kill or defang the rest. That's the current approach. It might work (although I know by saying that that several will now tell me why it is impossible, why the Bush administration is full of psychopaths, etc, in which case I would ask them to go to March 2002 and give me their alternate vision).

Iraqis, like most human beings, want economic prosperity and personal security. They also want freedom, as they have told us and demonstrated. Those are powerful forces, but so are the forces of oppression, where 5-10% of the populace can control the rest using totalitarian techniques.

Besides,*Iraq is pase. We're going after Iran next. Be sure and keep your protest signs polished. It should be easy to change the n's into q's.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

err - last sentence... that's q's into n's


"Move-On's Top Six are brilliant strategic priorities -- or at least they would be -- if we were all playing the Special Noam Chomsky Edition of SIMM CIT"

I hate to disappoint you, but really little that Marc writes in this post hasn't been already written by Alex Cockburn or Chomsky for that matter.


"Besides,*Iraq is pase. We're going after Iran next. Be sure and keep your protest signs polished. It should be easy to change the n's into q's."

Not even close, the US is so bogged down in Iraq, there's no way they can afford to launch into Iran. Besides, Iran has a standing army, it's far more able to defend itself than Iraq was, and the US can't even defend the ragtag cells of resistance fighters in Iraq (!). Heck, we can't even get straight who it is we're fighting. One day it's all about "foreign" fighters, the next day it's, "Oh gee, we only found about 5 foreign fighters in Fallujah, we think, maybe, maybe not?" Bush, Kerry, these people are paper tigers.

Marc Cooper

steve.,, if u are boed by my bloggings (which is ur absolute right) why dont u take ur endless comments over to some blog featuring cockburn and chomsky?

John Moore (Useful Fools)

I wish you luck in the soul searching. We differ radically in opinions, but I'm not interested in gloating (relief is the primary emotion). Although it is nice to be able to beat Democrats, it would be nicer to have less hatred, less divisiveness, and more positivism. I believe that Democrats will need to develop a serious hawk wing. The pacifism of the Vietnam War era is irrelevant. Too many things have changed in our culture, our government, and unfortunately the threats we face. Also proven useless is Marxism in all its myriad forms. It's main point seems to be an analytical methodology designed to produce silly results. But social welfare, European social-democracy, etc. are still alternatives that might fit.

I can understand true pacifism. I think it is misguided. Outside of that universe, the issue becomes how to survive and what to do with that survival. Internationalism has to be explored - as the global hegemon, yet subject to horrific attacks from anonymous actors, it is not at all clear what to do.

Good luck.

Marc Cooper

John.. Soul-searching should be a constant occupatiion of all. Marxism has failed. So has capitalism. There are only 2 or 3 communist countries in the world. But there's a couple of a billion people living under different forms of capitalism in this world who lack adequate, food, shelter, and most of all a future.


I never said anything about being bored, I'm not sure why you misrepresent what I said. I did say, in response to others who used your comments against Chomsky, that ironically they missed the glaring fact tha t what you wrote is actually *consistent* with what Chomsky and Cockburn have written on the election outcome, especially the latter.
Again, I'm not sure why you misrepresent what I wrote, I hope it was accidental.

Josh Legere

The Dems have a significant hawk wing. The New Republic is a good source for that opinion.

Unfortunately, Social Democratic journals like Dissent have 10,000 subscribers (mostly retired college professors) and Chomsky sells 100,000's of books.

Yes, the left is held hostage to many kooks these days. It is sad. A recent Nation book review suggested that the liberal hawks get purged.

Unlike the Right, the Left is unwilling to find any common ground and ego, rivalry, and elitism prevent the formulation of any sort of social movement that would benefit real working people. Infighting is much more fun. Strategy takes real thought and commitment, something the left does not have.

I am surprised that MoveOn is not Cockburn approved. Oh yeah, her prefers more militant kooks like the Black Bloc.

No need to worry. The National Lawyers Guild is on the case and in a few months they will prove that this elections was fraudulent and Satan will be out of office.

If that is THE Mark Schubb, formerly of KPFK, posted above… you are missed sir. You did a hell of a job at KPFK and your skills dearly missed by the sane folks in LA.

Marc Cooper

Josh.. that is the same Mark Schubb.

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