Posts Tagged ‘David Sirota’

Progressives Cannot Win on Ignorance

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

Obviously I’ve been a fairly big critic of the crowd at Open Left, particularly David Sirota, even to the point that I’m banned from the site. Thankfully, Sirota (and Chris Bowers) provide enough material to justify the criticism fairly regularly, and today is no different. In fact, I think Sirota has done me the favor of encapsulating every reason I think he and his ilk are dangerous for the Democratic Party and the progressive movement in the long term in one post. Namely, Sirota doesn’t like “equivocators:”

After dealing with the death penalty as a longtime District Attorney and then gubernatorial candidate, [Colorado Gov. Bill] Ritter is nonetheless saying that he hasn’t decided whether he will veto a bill repealing Colorado’s death penalty if it is approved by the state legislature. Considering Ritter’s experience and the prevalence of death penalty debates in politics, it’s simply inappropriate for him to say he hasn’t made up his mind on the issue[…]

As has been discussed ad nauseum, Americans are far more prone to electorally reward politicians who take clear positions, rather than politicians who try to avoid taking clear positions out of fear. This is true even on issues that voters may not agree with the politician on. Why? Because we like to elect people who we believe have their own belief system and principles, not people who we believe take given positions only to get reelected. That is, we like to elect people who we see as principled leaders who are seeking public office out of a sense of mission for their principles, rather than people whose only goal is to be in public office, and have no principles.

Of course, Sirota sees a situation where a left-of-center politician doesn’t reflexively take the Sirota position and immediately assumes there must be some malevolent reason for it. It’s entirely possible, of course, that Ritter is trying to avoid taking a controversial position (he is, after all, a politician, and the death penalty, however misguided, does remain relatively popular with the public at large), but at the same time, it’s also possible that Ritter really doesn’t have a hard and fast opinion on it, because not everyone functions the way a talk radio host or syndicated columnist does. That is to say, there actually are questions and issues that are difficult to sort out, with trade-offs replacing ideological certainty for most people. But, ironically enough, I actually agree with Sirota’s second point; people do prefer to vote for self-assured, reflexively certain, politicians. Whether or not it’s for the reasons Sirota outlines I’m not sure, but I’m also not really sure that that’s important. The difference, as I see it, is that I think that that fact is a bad thing, and that progressives should be investing their energy in changing it, not embracing the worst aspects of American polity.

Let’s be clear, this sort of preference for ideological self-assuredness (and self-justification) is exactly what the modern Republican Party feeds off of. They may not be right about much of anything, they may not know much of anything, and they may play to base ignorance as a rule, but modern conservatives are certainly sure of their convictions. I suppose progressives could be too, but as I’ve said with many other things Sirota has advocated, I don’t see how Democrats could possibly compete with Republicans at this level. Put simply, conservative positions just sound better than liberal positions when boiled down to a bumper sticker level, and when appeals must be made to the natural wisdom of home spun ‘Murikan folksiness. This is where conservative positions (tax cuts! WAR! Europe! Founding Fathers! Family values! The gay!) are at their most appealing. It’s only when you start gaming out their misconceptions and implications that they really start to unravel. Sirota is, if nothing else, arguing that progressives should compete with conservatives on the right’s best footing. It’s akin to arguing that the way to beat the New England Patriots isn’t really to run the ball and maintain control of the clock, keeping Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and company off of the field as much as possible, but rather to throw deep every play, attempting to outscore them in a shoot out. It’s just crazy like that.

What Sirota is arguing, in effect, is that progressives need to adopt a Sean Hannity strategy to politics. Everything is reflexive, complex public policy decisions become boiled down to dogmatic checklists of orthodox positions, axioms and catechisms take the place of thinking. And the reason for that is pretty simple; like Hannity, David Sirota just isn’t that smart. If progressivism embraces the idea that these issues are complex, that nuance is called for in sorting them out, and that every decision will have trade-offs that need to be considered and accounted for beforehand, then there’s no place for Sirota at the table, because he’s just not intelligent enough for those sorts of discussions. You would never, for example, see Sirota pondering whether or not EFCA might be workable for Labor without card check provisions, and whether dropping those provisions to pass the bill might not be a good, workable, idea. Instead, you get him calling for progressives to help Republicans defeat the Democratic Senate Leader if he can’t find a way to miraculously make every Democratic Senator in a 58-60 member caucus vote exactly the way David Sirota wants them too.

Sirota is the Democratic version of the conservatives trying to argue that the Republican Party is demonstrably better off, in the short run, for Arlen Specter’s defection, and would be even better off if Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins would follow him. Thankfully, Sirota remains a small, fringe voice in the Democratic coalition. Hopefully, he stays that way.

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Let Them Have Premium Yankees Tickets!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

by Brien Jackson

This is a whole new level of stupid for Sirota. I don’t even know where to start with it, so I’ll just list my grievances in list form:

1. For Yankee Stadium, as one of Sirota’s commentors pointed out, the city issued tax free bonds, which are cheaper than direct funds, which is how most new stadiums receive subsidies. Perhaps that doesn’t make it any better in Sirota’s eyes (or yours), but it certainly seems worth noting.

2. Sirota focuses only on premium seats to argue that you could never, ever, afford a ticket if you’re not a Wall Street player, which is a little like arguing that, because there are bottles of wine in the world that sell for $50,000+, the working class could never dream of having a glass of wine. Of course, the presence of really expensive wine doesn’t mean that there aren’t more affordable bottles out there, and the fact that the high dollar seats at Yankee Stadium go for an astronomical sum doesn’t mean there aren’t more reasonably priced seats available. You’ve also got to adjust for New York City price levels.

(On a side note, I think this is what annoys me the most when people bitch about baseball ticket costs. Honestly, you don’t have a right to a first base box seat that’s priced to your budget. You may, in fact, have to sit in an outfield seat, or even a higher deck. It’s not the end of the world, and you’re not the victim of some cosmic injustice because of it.)

3. Good on his commentors, and Rob Farley, for hammering Sirota for complaining about infrastructure improvements to accomodate the stadium. Aside from Sirota’s rank hypocrisy, this doesn’t even make sense. As Farley notes, if you want to have a successful mass transit system, then you need transit lines that service the place large volumes of people want to go. If you aren’t providing easy access to a stadium that ~45,000 are going to 85 times a year, give or take, then you’re going to see an influx of traffic into the area on those days, you’re going to need to devote a large amount of space for game day parking, etc. Which is to say that, even if the Steinbrenners had put up every penny for the stadium themselves, the city would still have needed to improve the transit infrastructure servicing Yankee Stadium (and Citi Field for that matter).

Aren’t you glad MSNBC didn’t hire Sirota to host a show? Now if we could only get CNN and Maddow to stop inviting him onto their programs.

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The Secret To Passing EFCA

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

More Republicans in the Senate!

Unions will (and should) work hard on a state-by-state basis to keep Democratic lawmakers on board (and I promise to do my part to get my own wavering Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet on board), but it seems to me there’s a much easier way to enforce unity: Make Harry Reid choose between getting every Democrat on board, or ending his political career.

This is not a far-fetched idea. In fact, the inevitable whining, screaming and moaning from Establishment Democrats aside, it would be relatively simple to pull off, and Reid – a smart politician – would know that labor could pull it off in a state like his.

Nevada is a conservative-leaning state, but is also both relatively cheap for political advertising/campaigns, and has an extremely strong labor movement, with roughly 14 percent of its workforce organized. Reid is running for reelection in 2010 in a state that tends to have extremely close elections. The labor movement, therefore, could make a very simple proposal to the Senate Majority Leader: Reid can either A) Schedule the votes for EFCA, during the crucial cloture vote to stop a filibuster get every Democratic senator to vote for cloture, and then get 51 Democrats to vote for it on final passage or B) Not do A, and therefore end his political career knowing that organized labor will put $2 or $3 million into an independent third-party progressive candidate against him in the general election.

Apparently the logic is something like this; either something that Harry Reid has no control over happens, and every Democrat votes the same way, or, apparently, we’re going to turn Reid’s seat over to a Republican. Because, clearly, adding to the ranks of the Republican Senate caucus will be a terrific way to help EFCA pass.

It’s times like these when I think Al Giordano really had the best characterization of Sirota; he’s a child. He has a childlike view of the way politics works, and he doesn’t really take much time to learn that he’s wrong. I mean, he doesn’t ven seem to be aware that states have to balance their budgets. I’ve made this point before, but the Senate is not the House, and the Senate Majority Leader is not the Speaker of the House. Harry Reid really has no mechanism by which to force any individual member to vote a certain way. Senators are elected for 6 year terms, inoculating them somewhat from the threat of being in a re-election battle, and they’re elected statewide, which creates a different political dynamic than the one in the House. Moreover, since there’s only 100 Senators, as opposed to 435 members of the House, each Senator enjoys a good deal of individual influence over the body that just doesn’t exist in the Senate.

Anyone who’s read my blog knows where I stand on EFCA, and how much I want to see it passed. But it’s going to be the sort of thing you finesse, not the sort of thing you force. To employ the obligatory bad sports metaphor, it’s a screen pass, not 3 yards and a cloud of dust. Nothing is going to get done until Al Franken is seated, and Democrats have 59 seated Senators. Those 59 members, plus Arlen Specter, would be an assumed 60 votes, but it isn’t hard to imagine some Democrats waivering. Mary Landrieu previously supported the bill, but she doesn’t have to run for re-election until 2014, so she very well may flip, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Blanche Lincoln is running for re-election in Arkansas, where Wal-Mart reigns supreme, so it may be politically dicey for her to support the bill. On the other hand, these Democrats could oppose the bill, while still voting for cloture, thus enabling it to pass; but I suspect the effect won’t be lost in the slight of hand. And, at the same time, labor really has been outpositioned on this issue. The right has enshrined the idea that EFCA eliminates the secret ballot, and EFCA’s supporters haven’t yet pushed that back, nor have they defined exactly why EFCA is necessary. That alone may make passing EFCA in this Congress impossible. But there will be other Congresses, and there’s a good possibility that Democrats will increase their Senate caucus in 2010, making it easier to pass the bill then.

But David Sirota will still be an idiot.

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David Sirota Doesn’t Know Much About Government

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

I need to diverisfy my whipping boy portfolio some, but Sirota is such an easy, gratifying target that it’s hard not to keep coming back to him. Here he is bemoaning the efforts of the Colorado legislature to balance their budget:

I’m really starting to believe that many politicians don’t know even the most basic stuff about economics. Here you have Republicans angry that in a recession, the state isn’t cutting enough and arguing that the state shouldn’t tap any of its rainy day funds, even though this is the biggest of the rainy days. Did we learn nothing from when FDR tried to balance the budget in ’37 and ’38, effectively stunting the New Deal’s robust recovery? Have these people not bothered to take Econ 101?

What’s sort of funnyis that he’s not wrong at all about the economics of the matter. Expansioary policy means more spending and larger deficits in the short run. He is, however, totally oblivious to something I figured you have to be aware of to comment on politics; almost every state has a balanced budget requirement. Indeed, I’m pretty sure Vermont is the only state that doesn’t. That’s why we’re talking about the need for the federal government to help state governments out; to offset lost revenues so that state governments don’t have to cut spending. If they could run sustained deficits like the federal government, they wouldn’t necessarily need the extra money to maintain those levels of spending on state services.

It’s really beyond me how you can feel qualified to spout off on the political issues of the day if you don’t know something that basic. Let alone fancy yourself some sort of spokesman for the entire progressive movement.

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Sirota Illustrates the Folly of Populism

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

I had a feeling I was going to see this chart at Open Left sooner or later:

On the issue at hand here, trade, I’m rather ambivalent. I’m pretty much a “free trader,” but at the same time I’d like to use our economic position to leverage our trading partners into improving their labor, environmental, and quality control standards. We’ve certainly been to lax with China in this regard. So take that for what it’s worth.

On the other hand, this graph really should, once and for all, demolish the idea that the populace is all that in tune with political issues, or has some inherent wisdom at gauging these things. Indeed, it proves thatthe movement among the masses is largely based on raw emotion. You see, for example, that when the economy was roaring in the mid and late 1990’s, free trade was extremely popular. And that makes sense; it meant cheap goods made in other countries, and let you buy a lot more stuff to clutter up your house. And with things moving a long at an historically good pace, no one was really worried about much of anything. But when the economy starts to come down, so do people’s opinion of trade. Now people are losing their job, and blaming “outsourcing,” which means more people are worried about outsourcing, on top of just being more stressed out in general. This makes trade a much more unappealing notion, and increases protectionist sentiment.

And without passing judgment on which side of the question is right, this is highly irrational behavior. And irrational behavior is a bad bet to hitch your fortunes to. It can be harnessed in the short term if you wish, but once the worm turns, what are yoy going to do? What is Sirota going to do when the economy recovers and “trade” is overwhelmingly popular again? Not only can he not cite populist opinion anymore, he can’t justify his own position once he’s accepted the notion that that is the basis of wisdom.

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Just Say No To Populism Cont’d

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

Backing up the idea that left-wing populism can only reinforce right-wing populism, and put progressives who embrace it into an unteneable position, check out this amazing post from Sirota on J.D. Hayworth’s anti-semitism:

First, let me say up front, I agree with the principle voiced by the Prospect. From Henry Ford to Father Coughlin to Pat Buchanan, there are ample examples of right-wing populism either melding with or becoming straight-up anti-semitism (and, more generally xenophobia). And I think that Hayworth’s veneration of Ford’s anti-semitism is, well, pretty clearly anti-semitic unto itself.

However, Hayworth’s specific comments aside, charges of anti-semitism are serious – and you need more to prove that is what’s going on than references to “elites” or even to George Soros.* And I say this as a Jew who gets lots of hate mail. Most of that hate mail comes from the sender’s hatred of my progressive ideology, and some of it is explicitly anti-semitic. I’d be absurd, though, to say that all of my hate mail is anti-semitic just because it is addressed to me, a Jewish person.

The fact is, the Wall Street elite destroyed our economy. Believing that fact and voicing it through the rhetoric of populism doesn’t make somebody “anti-semitic” just because there happen to be Jews working on Wall Street, or even if the person voicing outrage happens to mention the names of wrongdoers who happen to be Jewish (like, say, Bernie Madoff). Likewise, a group of very powerful conservative ideologues in the Pentagon and in the neo-conservative think tank world pushed the country to war. That’s a fact – and believing it or voicing anger about it doesn’t make somebody anti-semitic, just because some of those ideologues happen to be Jewish, or even if the person voicing anger mentions the names of some people who happen to be Jewish.

Of course he’s right, but that’s what makes this such an absurd post. No one is going to dispute the idea that criticizing bankers or Iraq war proponents makes you anti-semitic because some of them happen to be Jewish, so the fact that Sirota has to devolve to this canard really let’s the cat out of the bag early. Moreover, that’s not really what Hayworth did, he actually denigrated Soros as a “currency manipulator,” and Sirota even ackowledges that he finds this to be anti-semitic.

Rather, what’s happening here is what will always happen when progressives embrace populism; you set the ball rolling, and the right-wing will jump in to ratchet up the rage and play off the resentiment. What Sirota’s obviously doing is defending himself, since he’s been so critical of Wall Street in overt populist language. And obviously Sirota is not an anti-semite, and there’s nothing anti-Semitic in anything I’ve ever seen him write. But that’s not the point; the point is that it’s Sirota’s brand of left-wing populism that lays the groundwork for racist, anti-semitic, know nothing right-wing populists to enter the “grassroots” discussion, and once that happens the left simply can’t win a race to the bottom. And they get left mounting quasi defenses of racists in order to defend their populism to boot.

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Just Say No To Populism Cont’d

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

Following up yesterday’s post on the populism folly, Sirota himself comes out with a line of thinking that pretty clearly sums up why progressives should unambiguously oppose populist appeals:

In the 2008 Republican primary, we saw the rise of the economic populist wing of the GOP through Mike Huckabee. This faction has started making waves in Congress, too – many Republicans voted against the bank bailout, and there were at a few Republican-backed amendments aimed at forcing stimulus money to be spent on specific projects in the United States, and not on job outsourcing (Sanders-Grassley was one of them). And now, Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham is endorsing bank nationalization.

In other words, if the Democrats don’t embrace their populist wing, they will find the Republicans trying to outflank them on some hot-button economic issues like trade, outsourcing, and economic patriotism.

Let’s be clear about this; Mike Huckabee’s economic populism was his embrace of the so-called fair tax, and trafficing in the idea that this would shut down the dreaded IRS forever. This was always, of course, total nonsense; the Fair Tax is a highly regressive national sales tax that would put the bulk of the tax burden on the working class, and as long as you collect taxes you can’t eliminate the IRS. To the extent that you could get rid of the specific agency, someone has to collect federal taxes and see that the tax laws are enforced, so some other area of government would simply pick up the IRS’s job. It was, in other words, exactly what the GOP is good at; taking a policy that will disproportionately hurt workers and help the rich wrapped up in folksy sensibilities and sold as a populist measure. Progressives shouldn’t be trying to “outflank” that, they should be rebutting it, if for no other reason than the fact that they simply can’t win a race to the bottom with the Republican Party.

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Try Harder, Please

Monday, January 26th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

I don’t know what it is about Barack Obama that makes David Sirota stupid, but at this point it’s like the sun rising. His latest is awful, even by his standards.

To wit, Sirota is hopping mad that Obama is putting the Colombian Free Trade agreement back on the table.

With the New York Times noting that Congress is questioning Attorney General nominee Eric Holder’s defense of Chiquita’s murderous behavior in Colombia, I can’t say I would be totally surprised by news that Obama may start pushing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement – a pact that rewards the Colombian government that allowed Chiquita’s and other corporations to crush workers. I would, however, be surprised that his push would come so soon considering the campaign pledges, and the potential for a serious political backlash that could endanger Obama’s broader agenda.

I don’t really get what the Attorney General has to do with trade policy, but there it is I suppose. And I suppose it’s a fair enough criticism, after all Obama was against it on the basis of labor standards, and Colombia’s history of not protecting labor leaders is troubling. Maybe some background?

President-elect Barack Obama wants to win approval of stalled free trade deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, but more work is needed on two of the pacts, Democratic lawmakers said on Wednesday.

Hmm. Well that doesn’t sound so bad. I mean, the Colombia deal could be one of those two (odds are better than not in fact), and labor standards could be one of the issues that needs to be worked out. It sure would be nice if Reuters dug a little bit deeper into the question. Oh, wait:

It was never the case that Colombia was “a bad trade agreement,” Rangel told reporters. Rather, the issue was “whether the administration was prepared to insist on the protection of labor leaders in Colombia.”

With Democrats now controlling the White House and Congress, it should be possible to work out a solution with Colombia that resolves concerns, Rangel said.

In other words, Obama is reconsidering the Colombian trade deal, but onlyif the labor questions are addressed. Hardly controversial.

For the record, Sirota cites the first two paragraphs o the Reuters article, and not the section I highlighted, which comes only two paragraphs later. So either Sirota doesn’t take the time to read entire articles before he forms a conclusion from them, or he read the whole thing and only picked out the part he could use to bolster his Obama criticism, deliberately leaving out the context, which happens to address his criticism entirely. Neither speaks very highly of him, but does reinforce, yet again, why progressives need to ignore David Sirota, and make it clear to people like Bill Moyers that Sirota does not speak for the progressive movement.

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Leaving a Mark

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

David Sirota projects mightily, writing about the House vote to block the payment of the remaining TARP money:

What’s great about this vote is its juxtaposition of true bipartisanship with Beltway buypartisanship. Indeed, as the roll call shows, the House vote for the resolution of disapproval forged a coalition of about a third of the Democratic caucus, and most of the Republican conference – all voting for a progressive cause: namely, preventing Wall Street from ripping off the American taxpayer. Though we are led by the media to believe that “centrism” means corporatism, this vote is the kind of populist bipartisan coalition that reflects the real centrism in the country at large – a centrism where the “center” is decidedly against letting big corporations raid the federal treasury.

But Nate Silver actually read the roll call:

 Occasionally, you’ll come across an issue that splits the political spectrum literally down the middle, with the most progressive members and the most conservative members of the House uniting on one direction on a measure, and moderates in both parties taking the other stance. Is the bailout one such issue?

No, it isn’t. On the contrary, this was a fairly conventional vote in which the more a Congressman tends to define themselves as liberal or progressive, the more likely they were to vote to extend the bailout. The Congressional Progressive Caucus voted in favor of continuing the bailout by a 49-15 margin; by contrast, the more conservative Blue Dog Democratic Caucus voted 27-17 to block the bailout. And nearly every Republican voted against the bailout.

So, for the record, David Sirota is on the side of the Blue Dogs and the GOP, opposed to the overwhelming majority of the Progressive Caucus.

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David Sirota Needs A Drink

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Admitting a bias against populism in general, I still have to address a certain strain of nonsense coming from David Sirota on the latest TARP vote. I’m sort of hesitant to do this, because I doubt it will really do much, but if no one else says it then Sirota’s view will tae hold for lack of a challenge. So consider this another installment of “Know Your Congress.”

Sirota’s problem this time is the handful of new Democratic Senators who voted to release the 2nd $350 billion in TARP money despite opposing the bailout money originally, which he views as some sort of proof that everyone wants to fake populism until they get to Washington until they jump on the “Let’s Screw David Sirota” bandwagon. Or something like that. Here’s Sirota in his own words:

The Senate today voted to give Wall Street another $350 billion today. The vote tells us a lot about the new Senate (you can see the full tally here – and remember, on this vote, a “yes” vote was a vote against releasing the $350 billion bailout tranche).

For instance, both Tom and Mark Udall (D-CO), who voted against the bailout in the House when running for the Senate, switched their votes to support the bailout. You may recall that Mark Udall said he was against the bailout not because he didn’t trust George Bush, but specifically because he was against voting for a bill that had no oversight measures. And yet now he’s voting for the same bailout that includes no new oversight measures. This suggests that the Udalls (like lots of political aristocracy) have absolutely no principles – that, in fact, they are the worst stereotype of politicians: The kind of people who go populist when facing election, and then goes corporatist when he’s comfortably insulated in Washington.

Now there’s not all that much here other than the framing of the outrage-du-jour, but it’s sort of interesting that Sirota chooses to lead off the column with a broad, unprovable, claim that “aristocracies” have no principle. I sure hope I don’t see Sirota approving of ay healthcare plans that look like anything Ted Kennedy or John Dingell have been pushing for the better part of half a century or anything. But the real meat of this comes when Sirota gets around to Jeff Merkley, whom Sirota was a particularly big backer off in the election:

Same thing for Jeff Merkley – he issued a very strong statement against the bailout as a candidate for Senate (again, not because he didn’t trust Bush, but because he said he was conceptually against giving away money to Wall Street), and then voted for the bailout today. Again, this suggests Merkley – who I was previously convinced was a principled working-class populist – is starting his Senate career epitomizing the worst kinds of images people have of politicians – those who sound like they’re for “the folks” at election time, and then who sell out “the folks” once in Washington.

So what we’ve learned is that lots of our new senators – even those who campaigned as populists – are already under the spell of “the most exclusive club in the world.” And frankly, I don’t care what their public explanations are. These are people who made airtight declarations against the bailout on a conceptual level – and then walked away from those declarations when it came time to vote. We’ve learned (once again) that if there’s not constant pressure on lawmakers to respect the most basic campaign declarations they made, they will sell us out.

Actually what we’ve “learned” (really we already knew it), is that David Sirota doesn’t understand parliamentary procedures whatsoever, nor does he understand deal making or leveraging. Apparently he thinks that you jst show up and cast a vote, majority wins. Or “Washington” wins, whatever the hell that means. But the more interesting development comes later, after Sirota talks to Merkely:

Merkley explained that because the bailout was legislatively engineered to let the president – sans a two-thirds veto override vote in Congress – effectively veto his way to whatever he wants,* he decided to back the bill and simultaneously exact a commitment out of the administration. Merkley said he’s been in constant contact with top administration officials and that they have committed to him – both verbally and in writing – that they will devote a substantial portion of the new bailout money to helping homeowners.

I don’t agree with Merkley’s rationale – I believe he told voters he was against the bailout, and then proceeded to vote for that very same bailout, and I think in doing that, he does what I said in my original post: he starts his Senate career looking like he “epitomizes the worst kinds of images people have of politicians – those who sound like they’re for “the folks” at election time, and then who sell out “the folks” once in Washington.” He also officially goes on record supporting very bad economic policy.

Catch that? Merkley outlined a very logical rationale for his vote, that Obama would (and has promised to) veto a bill blocking the money, at which point he would…get the money. But that would be more politically costly than just getting the money, so Merkley, seeing an opening, opposed the effort to block the money in exchange for a promise on foreclosure relief, a good policy in its own right, which he then went public with. That’s just good politics anyway you cut it. And while I actually agree that a bill would be preferrable regarding foreclosures, what Merkley did is better than nothing, which is what Sirota is arguing for. Because let’s face it, by any observable measure what Sirota is demanding Democrats do amounts to nothing. They vote for the bill, the bill gets vetoed, and Obama gets the TARP money, while Congressional liberals get nothing back from Obama. It just doesn’t make sense, but I suppose it makes David Sirota happy. But making David Sirota happy doesn’t help being losing their homes, now does it?

This, in a nutshell, is why the progressive movement isn’t taken more seriously.

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