Why There Is No “Liberal Movement”

Wanna know what’s wrong with the left in this country? This:

george w. obamaThat was from yesterday. Here’s today’s HuffPo header:

george w. obama

Some liberals and progressives, now joining libertarians in the wacky wing of the Republican Party, are aghast that the government—all three branches being involved—is snooping around the Internet looking for terrorists. What did people think was happening since the country—Democrats as well as Republicans, liberals as well as conservatives—demanded that 9/11 never happen again?

And the right wing crazies, those like Ann Coulter, have a slightly more nuanced take on all this:

Coulter Blasts Obama For NSA Snooping: Cares More About ‘Harassing Americans’ Than Fighting Terrorism

The un-delightful Ms. Coulter, as reported by Mediaite, sees things through a pair of Obama-hating glasses:

Ann Coulter did not object to the news about NSA phone snooping on principle, but does have a problem with it under this particular president. She told Sean Hannity tonight that under an “honorable administration,” the government should be able to collect phone records, but said that President Obama, with all the other scandals that have come out, has proven to be untrustworthy and he cares more about “harassing Americans” and his political opponents than actually fighting terrorism.

Those are the kinds of people that HuffPo and The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and The New York Times editorialists are getting in bed with, rolling under the covers with, and who knows doing what with.

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the story on the allegedly widespread NSA surveillance scheme by publishing leaks about it, has been an Obama critic almost from the beginning, often getting credit for criticizing the President “from the left.” Bullhockey. Greenwald could jump in the political sack with Rand or Ron Paul, or both, and enjoy every minute of it. As the Rooted Cosmopolitan put it, Greenwald,

is not a liberal or progressive with a broad sense of the common good.

No, he’s not. I have followed his Tweets for months and some of them have shocked me in terms of their breathtaking hysteria related to President Obama.  Not only that, Greenwald doesn’t respect those on the left who don’t spend all their time denigrating the President. He once tweeted in support of someone who said of Obama supporters, “Obama could rape a nun on NBC and you’d say we weren’t seeing what we were seeing.” Greenwald’s reply:

No – she’d say it was justified [and] noble – that he only did it to teach us about the evils of rape.

The guy who wrote that, who doubled-down on the rape “joke,” is the one who broke the story on the NSA surveillance. That’s why I will wait until more sober minds have examined this issue’before I trash the man in the White House who has actually offered to hand back significant executive power to Congress.

By the way, Greenwald told CNN:

There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal, and that is to destroy privacy and anonymity, not just in the United States but around the world. That is not hyperbole. That is their objective.

If that sounds like Glenn Beck instead of Glenn Greenwald then you don’t know Glenn Greenwald.

There are questions that need answered related to this NSA story, for sure. But people can’t have it both ways. They can’t demand that the government keep us safe from terrorists who want to kill us, while expecting government officials not to use technical means to do so.

And all of this stuff is especially ironic in an age in which people share all kinds of private information with strangers on the Internet or through emails.

In any case, the hysteria from the left—Obama is now George W. Bush—is why liberals cannot have a “movement” in the way conservatives can. They almost always let the perfect not only be an enemy of the good, but kill it in its tracks.


  1. King Beauregard

     /  June 7, 2013

    HuffPo is a toilet. You’ve heard me say it, and I’ll say it over and over. Arianna Huffington all standing up in her little rowboat, wearing a little captain’s uniform like the Ty-D-Bol man.


    • King Beauregard

       /  June 7, 2013

      A little more on HuffPo and its resemblance to a toilet. If you were reading HuffPo in late 2010, prior to the election, you would have found any number of toilet-dwellers boasting about how they were going to send a message by not voting. After all, Obama hadn’t delivered single payer (which he had totally promised to do, or at least that’s what people were insisting), he hadn’t repealed DADT yet (it wouldn’t get repealed until a month after the election), he maintained TARP (which almost certainly kept our economy from melting down Great Depression style, and incidentally almost all the TARP funds have been repaid), and Obama hadn’t legalized hunting bank CEOs for sport. So 59% of the toilet crowd stayed home, let the Teabaggers waltz right in, and in one brilliant move assured the country that no more progressive reforms would be possible for the remainder of Obama’s term, and probably a few years after that.

      Nobody, and I mean nobody, drops the ball like “Progressives”.

      But surely the Progressive voices in Congress survived, right? Well, over in Wisconsin, Russ Feingold was soundly defeated. In Cleveland, Dennis Kucinich won the election but his district soon ceased to exist because of Republican gerrymandering, so that’s another Progressive down. How about Barney Frank … ? He won his election, but due to massive redistricting he decided it was time to retire rather than preside over a number of neighborhoods that he had little familiarity with. So good job, toilet-dwellers; with friends like you who needs enemies?

      By the way, if anyone wants to see how TARP is doing, here’s a handy spreadsheet that gets updated every day:


      As of today, $419.97 billion has been disbursed thru TARP and $415.79 billion has been repaid or otherwise recouped. That’s $4 billion and some change to save the economy, and again, the great majority of that was REPAID, not gifted to banks like toilet-dwellers believe. Even if we never get that last $4 billion back, I call that a tremendous bargain.


      • King B,

        I don’t disagree with most of what you say here and I especially like the TARP commentary. But I think you overstate the sins of HuffPo by calling it a toilet.

        Sure, there are folks who write for HuffPo who go off the deep end if Obama doesn’t cross every T and dot every I on their liberal wish list. And the editors sometimes go overboard on the attention-grabbing headers. And Ariana Huffington drives me nuts, too.

        But HuffPo does a lot of good reporting. Howard Fineman and Sam Stein and others do a good job of presenting a side of the news that one might not get from other sources in real time.

        So while I agree that it was stupid for liberals, at least those who did, to sit out the 2010 election as a protest of Obama not being pure enough, I don’t agree that HuffPo is to blame for that or is worthy of the toilet name you put on it. Although, at times, like on this story, I would like to flush it.



  2. Good post, good commentary by King B. Thanks, guys.


  3. I’m uncomfortable with the continued growth of the security state under Obama.

    I think climbing in bed with Ann Coulter is unwise. How can you call her position anything other than the worst kind of opportunism (tyranny is fine as long as its a ‘conservative’ tyrant.) Does that mean we give Obama a pass on preserving and EXPANDING the Bush security state? I hope not.


    • I’m uncomfortable with the continued growth of the security state under Obama.

      I suspect you are like most Americans in that regard, Bruce. You are at least a little paranoid and creeped-out at the thought of being spied upon, and heaven knows there’s plenty of evidence it’s happening all the time. There are not only spy satellites that can count the moles on your back as you tan in your backyard, there are drones of all sizes being developed, automatic traffic cameras proliferating (some are mobile now!), and computer hackers domestic and foreign working on seeing your stuff. It’s reminiscent of the very good Will Smith movie, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enemy_of_the_State_(film)&quot;Enemy of the State. Amazing to think that is now 15 years old. It was considered far-fetched by some reviewers at the time. Now, not so much I think.

      However, also like most Americans, I’m sure you want the government to protect us from explosions, poisonings and utility sabotage. I submit that we as a culture have become pretty-much cowardly. Take the Benghazi flap for example. It’s all about paranoia over terrorism, with the GOP claiming that the Obama administration tried to conceal the terrorist nature of the attack because it might cause a loss of public confidence in its ability to prevent all such attacks. Only a paranoid public would react in that way, and we would.

      One more example: the flap over carrying pen knives aboard commercial aircraft. The airline-employees unions stampeded Congress into forcing the TSA to reverse its decision, completely ignoring the original purpose of the inspections, to prevent terrorists from seizing control of the aircraft. After all, we now have armored doors, air marshals, and some armed pilots. What it amounts to in my opinion is that the terrorists have successfully terrorized us. So, is it realistic to expect the government to protect us without any loss of privacy or convenience?


    • Bruce,

      I’m not sure I would agree that the “security state” has actually grown under Obama, especially when you consider that he has put a stop to torture as a means to get information and that he wants to get rid of Guantanamo. He’s also suggested that Congress take back his powers authorized under the AUMF passed in 2001, just after 9/11. I don’t know why people are overlooking those salient facts, when they look at this NSA business.

      Like Jim above, I submit that I, too, am uncomfortable with the state of things, in terms of the amount of data mining going on out there. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in. We’re not going back to paper, my friend. And as long as there is a server with information on it somewhere, someone, some government or some corporation or some person, will figure out a way to get at it.

      And so will the terrorists, by the way. The wave of the future, in terms of terrorist attacks, may indeed be cyber attacks, and I expect you and me and every sensible American would expect our government to be doing something about that, which requires an apparatus like the NSA and the legal and technical means to prevent such attacks.

      Finally, until some evidence comes to light that our government is actually “spying” on us in the sense that the Chinese government is spying on the Chinese people (as I posted today), then I ain’t buying this bullshit I’m hearing every time I turn on my TV or radio.



  4. LisaF

     /  June 8, 2013

    As someone who voted for President Obama twice, I have no problem with Glenn Greenwald because I like truth, even when it makes me uncomfortable with my own choices. I was once propagandized by the right media machine and I have no interest in becoming a blind follower of the left, especially since right and left (minus the tea party fringe) are becoming more and more alike. .

    There is no liberal media because the liberal class was silenced by their own years ago. Look at Ralph Nader, a man who gave us clean drinking water and air, healthier food, safer work places , safe cars and the Freedom of Information Act but oh…he cost the election for the Democrats. Lets not consider the fact that Gore could not carry his own state, or that millions of Democrats voted Republican in 2000, or that the Bill Clinton sleezy behavior turned off many Americans, which in my humble opinion is what cost Gore the election besides outright theft. Everything Mr Nader has predicted has come to pass.

    Today. American “liberal politicians” have colluded with the right to continue the state of permanent of war and the demise of cherished freedoms. Never in US history has a president prosecuted as many whistle-blowers as President Obama. I believe that truth-telling is the act of of true citizenship.

    Fact about Greenwald. He is on the record

    * opposing all cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
    * repeatedly calling for the prosecution of Wall Street
    * advocating for robust public financing to eliminate the domination by the rich in political campaigns, writing: “corporate influence over our political process is easily one of the top sicknesses afflicting our political culture”
    * condemning income and wealth inequality as the by-product of corruption
    * attacking oligarchs – led by the Koch Brothers – for self-pitying complaints about the government and criticizing policies that favor the rich at the expense of ordinary Americans
    * arguing in favor of a public option for health care reform
    * criticizing the appointment of too many Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street officials to positions of power
    * repeatedly condemning the influence of corporate factions in public policy making (h
    * praising and defending the Occupy Wall Street movement as early and vocally as anyone
    * using my blog to raise substantial money for the campaigns of Russ Feingold and left-wing/anti-war Democrats Normon Solomon, Franke Wilmer and Cecil Bothwell, and defending Dennis Kucinich from Democratic Party attacks;
    * co-founding a new group along with Daniel Ellsberg, Laura Poitras, John Cusack, Xeni Jardin, JP Barlow and others to protect press freedom and independent journalism
    * co-founding and working extensively on a PAC to work with labor unions and liberal advocacy groups to recruit progressive primary challengers to conservative Democratic incumbents



  5. What LisaF said.


  6. King Beauregard

     /  June 8, 2013

    Thanks for the Rooted Cosmopolitan article. I was especially impressed with this Greenwald quote:

    “Democrats [by contrast] prop up the most centrist or conservative candidates — i.e., corporatists — on the ground that it’s always better, more politically astute, to move to the right.”

    First of all, a pet peeve: the guy doesn’t know what “corporatist” means. It’s a word with an actual meaning, and it certainly doesn’t mean “you like corporations more than I do”. Which by the way is the sort of term that no serious political commentator would use, since it speaks at best to degree and not a fundamental stance. Anyway, I would expect a syndicated columnist to use language better than a 19-year-old at his first OWS protest.

    But the bigger point is that the guy has no understanding of why the Democrats have to appeal to the center and even conservatives. In a nutshell, that’s where the votes are. Only about 20% or 25% of Americans consider themselves “liberal”; if you want to get into office, you won’t get there with a quarter of the vote. So no, it’s not an irrational tic of the Democrats that they try to appeal past their liberal base; it is absolutely necessary if they want to hold office. By the way, centrists are a much easier bunch to please than the purists on the left, who are at all times aching for a reason to denounce their politicians as traitors to the cause.


    • LisaF

       /  June 8, 2013

      Since the entire country has been pulled dramatically right by think tanks and massive propaganda, a centrist Democrat is a Reagan Republican, hence why there is no more liberal movements.

      Your other comment about the use of the word “corporatist” LOL.


      • King Beauregard

         /  June 8, 2013

        What makes it REALLY funny is, most of the folks who misuse “corporatist” wish we had a system like Sweden or Norway. Which ARE corporatist, very deliberately so, which explains why those are nice places to live. So yeah, conversations about how to fix the US get real stupid real fast.


  7. ansonburlingame

     /  June 8, 2013

    Coming in late on this blog, but, Duane, I like your position. Let’s wait and see what this is all about and not jump off either deep end of partisan politics. Ann Colture is a “nut”, speaking out of both sides of her big mouth on this matter!!!

    I lived my ENTIRE professional career, being “spied upon” by American security agencies, the FBI, CIA and maybe even NSA. But I SHOULD have been monitored, reasonably as I held Top Secret and above security clearances, both as a military man and civilian in the nuclear weapons “business”.

    It, knowing that I was being “monitored” all the time did not affect how I lived in any way. I followed the various laws of the land, not because I was being “monitored” but because it was the “right thing to do”, follow various laws. If I broke a law, well I deserved to be “caught”.

    I never took a lie detector test. But had I worked in the CIA during all those years I would have been subjected to such every year of so. Hmmm, Anson, did you every cheat on your wife or have too much to drink from time to time??? But as I understand such test driven by security concerns did not ask such questions back then or probably even today. But “did you ever send secret information to someone without a clearance”? You bet such questions would and should be asked, then or now, in my view.

    When I make a cell phone call it does not surprise, or upset, me that such calls are going into a database somewhere. It is how such a database might be used that COULD concern me but I have yet to see or hear of any misuse of the information yet.

    If I was going to run for any public office, try to launch a public “campaign” for or against anything, I would be much more concerned about the 800 public blogs I have written over the last 5 or so years and someone “cherry picking” such public information, freely provided to oppose me.

    So far, in the grand scheme of things related to “scandals” today, I put the NSA activies and DOJ subpoena activity in the let them continue to do their jobs legally, which they have done as far as I can tell. For IRS, fix the IRS, not the Presidency. But Benghazi, well fix the NCA is my call which seems impossible to even define an NCA problem, yet, which is a tragedy in the making in my view, a dysfunctional National Command Authority in a time of crisis when folks are dieing and facilities are being destroyed by terrorists (not videos!!!!)



  8. LisaF

     /  June 8, 2013

    Anson’s post says it all.


  9. “Ann Colture is a ‘nut’, speaking out of both sides of her big mouth”

    Well said.


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