Heavy Hangs the Head the Wears the Bag of Tea 5

He sighed softly to himself, he couldn’t believe how horribly things have gone, just 8 months ago he was at the top of the world, he was sworn in as Speaker of the House and he had power. It made him weep, he wasn’t just weeping for himself, he was weeping for America, he was weeping for all he had attained in this world and for everything that seemed to be sliding right through his finger tips. He felt things slipping away. He couldn’t keep these recalcitrant freshman in line, they seemed to think they could crash the economy and come out looking like hero’s! He knew better, but had no idea what he could do to get these folks in line.

He was looking down while walking back to the ranch and muttering about “that fucking Jim Jordan (R) Ohio, who the fuck does he think he is anyway?” He was whispering loudly to himself and didn’t seem to care if anyone heard him. He was clearly angry and clearly he wanted some sort of revenge. He quickly grabbed the pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket, he had that smokers habit of beating the end of the package against his hand before grabbing one and lighting up. He lit up and took a long hard first drag, as though he were sucking in all his problems and releasing them in several circles of smoke. He liked to play with his cigarette that way, it calmed him, until now. He simply didn’t know what he would do to get these folks in line, clearly they were ready to crash the economy and seemed not to comprehend on any level the complexity of the crisis that faced the United States. “Do they even care if we are ever elected again?” He was now talking loudly to himself as he entered his favorite pub the 19th Hole.

“Hey John”, yelled the bartender, he could clearly see the speaker needed a drink and he needed on badly.  He was rushing to get the mans favorite drink ready, the Bellini, he was pretty sure tonight the man was going to need more than one.

John of Orange drank all night long, he knew things were never going to get any better. He knew deep down inside the first two years of his speakership might be his last two years in congress.

Crossposted at DAGBlog

What Is Your Plan Progressives! 4

Yeah this comes out of a comment yesterday and I want to know what the progressive plan is for getting more progressive legislators into the government, because that is the pertinent question here. So before I head out on a 50 miler today, I am going to ask the question, what is your plan to getting what you want?

Let’s revisit my first question and I will take out the part everyone keys on, about taking the President down, it’s snarky I know and too easy to fight about.  I’ve conveniently reviewed some other primary challenges to sitting presidents in our more recent history, here it is again in case you missed it:

“LBJ and Carter attracted powerful left-bent primary challenges.”
1968: Libs primary LBJ, lose general.
1972: Libs go down to worst defeat in election history.
1980: Libs primary Carter, lose general.
1984: Libs loose 49 of 50 state
2012: Libs: “Primarying Obama will make us stronger in 2016!”

I will only ask you this: How do you plan to actually get what you want? Conservatives seem to have a reasonably good track record of doing that, they get droves of crazy folks elected to congress, to governorships and to statehouses. Liberals’ track record on that is abysmal. I myself am not sure how liberals can do it, conservatives have worked for more than 30 years to convince the general public that taxes =evil=socialism=communisim=ungodly=democrats. But instead of counteracting that stuff, the consensus that seems to be building  is the best way to achieve liberal goals right now is to focus most of your energy on attacking the current President. Shades of 1968 indeed. I generally agree that the entire United States could use better politicians, (which is a pipe dream for sure)  I doubt that one can return to the heady days of the New Deal/Camelot/Great Society by ridding ourselves of this current President, but I could be wrong, stranger things have happened. However, I suspect the end result will be just another chapter in American Liberalism’s melancholy history of setbacks and self-defeat.

I say this because of the things I’ve seen in 25 years of participating in the process at the very smallest levels of government to our own statehouse where I was a Senate page.

How do we attain the goal of good governance? Does it require a plan? And that is my question, in a nutshell.

But what is true is there is no “progressive plan” to infiltrate the government at local levels on up which gets us on the road to forming a more progressive government. We are searching for a better way, democrats too, but we are fighting an uphill battle.  But the pertinent question is, how do you attain those goals? Don’t you have to begin by educating the public, by infiltrating government at all levels including the School Board, the PTA, County and City Councils etc and so on. Doesn’t it have to be done first from the micro level in order to impact the macro level which is the federal government.

I don’t know how much experience many of you have with school boards and PTA’s but I have to tell you, some of the most ideological folks on the right turn out candidates and voters to be heard in school districts and I am of the opinion it all starts right there at the very bottom levels of government.

I had the displeasure of having gone to school board and PTA meetings for years,  (3 children will do that to a person) and when I write displeasure, I mean displeasure emphasis on the dis. In general I would be there and one or two others more like me,  and a pack of conservative religious right-wing, mom pants wearing wait I mean lovely women who spent their time hijacking entire meetings with nothing more accomplished than the third word of the mission statement because they are afraid everything written leaves out god and you actually argue about this for weeks on end! So I get why lots of regular people don’t participate in this stuff, it’s not fun, it’s not a particularly productive thing to do with ones personal time. However the only way to be heard to effect change is to participate. I would occasionally force my husband to go with me, but he’d actually look for things to do at home to fix so he wouldn’t have to attend those tedious meetings. People would cycle in and out, but those ideologues sent there presumably by their churches always showed up, to every.single.meeting. which gave them some defacto power.  One time we spent what seemed to be several meetings arguing about whether or not Senior English should allow their students to choose books by Sherman Alexie, who is a home town boy for gods sake!  (I am reliving those nightmares now, ugh.) Those meetings were nothing short of torture enough to scare the most civic-minded away. But if we cannot even accomplish getting on school boards en-masse or just participating at that level, in order to infiltrate the system, how will things ever change?

When I worked for the local newspaper I covered county council meetings, another bastion of participation by the property rights crowd, at this time I was covering the GMA (growth management act, quite controversial among wingers) those people flooded meetings, what a nightmare, and of course later they were able to get people on the councils that were more amenable to their views… even though the GMA’s requirements are pretty explicit in that a plan is required, but there is always wiggle room with implementation. They were then able to get more ideologues elected, and I see some of those people working their way up through the legislature now, and they began on the school board and then moved to the county council, and are now in the Washington State Legislature.

And of course we saw that at work all over the nation with ACA, where senior citizens and angry white people came to protest government-run health care… what???? But that is what happened and those actions by those people did damage to the bill, they did damage to what could have been more progressive legislation. I know you think the President is to blame, but politicians respond to those who show up to their town hall meetings.

All snark aside, what is your plan to get more progressive legislators elected around the nation? It isn’t as if almost everyone at DAG isn’t interested in changing our polices and politics, but how can you accomplish these goals without a plan.

Crossposted at DAGblog

After a birthday party. 2

I attended a birthday party recently for a wonderful 6-year-old son of friends.  Lots of people, both family and friends, lots of merrymaking, seemingly endless amounts of both good food and conversation, and things went well into the night.

He’s a great kid – talented, imaginative, and fun.  Maybe sometimes I get him a bit overwound but his parents love to see him enjoying himself and no harm gets done.  He even brought me up short that day, when I told him I thought he was a cool little guy.  He looked at me, grinned, said “Cool big guy!” and laughed.  So did I, and I had to agree with him.  He’s 6, after all.  He gets to be a big guy now if he wants.

They’re wonderful people themselves, his parents.  Kind, generous, always determined to feed everyone within an inch of being unable to breathe and then send them home with leftovers, and that great, fun, lively 6-year-old is their unending joy.

He’s also a living, breathing gesture, no, a stand, a stand of defiance.  Something of them will outlive them, and go forward into a whole new world.

Why a stand of defiance, you might ask?

They’re Cambodian.  Both of them survived Pol Pot.

Dessert’s done.  Time for the spinach.

When people must bend in the service of an ideology, Pol Pot happens.  As do Pinochet, Stalin, Mao, bin Laden, the Crusades, Hitler, and more.

The particular ideology, in fact, doesn’t mean nearly as much as the belief that it must be implemented no matter the price.

No less a historical figure than Joshua bar-Joseph opined in his wisdom that “The law was made for man, not man for the law!” and that remains a universal truth ignored only at the cost of untold lives.  Sadly, many of his adherents – who cannot among themselves agree on a correct understanding of that wisdom, at the cost of many more lives – seek to implement various laws they believe man made for.  (See “Crusades, the” as mentioned above.)

It’s far more important to see that people’s needs are met than to be “pure” in any particular idealism.  And that requires understanding some things.

First, let’s look at the concept that we all do better when we all do better.  I would turn here to the late, wonderful Chicago Daily News/Sun-Times op-ed columnist, Sydney J. Harris, who opined in an essay that most people fail miserably when asked to define their own best interest, feeling that it was purely their immediate benefit, when in reality it was that which extended the farthest around them, because it did not set them apart, rather, it integrated them more thoroughly into the social fabric.

Societies benefits, as observers going back to de Tocqueville have noted, from the stabilizing influence of the middle class – those who have a stake in, and participate in, society and thus stand to benefit when those around them do well, and feel the adverse impact when they do not.

Self-interest is a noted shibboleth among the Libertarians.  It’s the very core of Ayn Rand’s (barely readable) “literature” and perhaps the most poorly understood notion among that cohort.  Their perception of self-interest extends only to themselves, or if they’re particularly – and uncharacteristically – generous, their families.  This ignores the very real damage done to society by resentments borne of inequities of opportunity, to say nothing of the potential wasted thereby.

More will follow in time.  I am not a rapid writer when it comes to such things.

Chris Matthews to Joe Walsh (R) Il, “He’s Your President Too.” 5

Let’s get this out there, Rep. Joe Walsh is discrediting a good name. The Joe Walsh I remember, played guitar had his own band and sang songs like All Night Laundromat Blues.. this guy, well he just doesn’t seem like he is that much fun and he is trashing what is otherwise a very good name! I know I almost voted for the real Joe Walsh in 1980, the best part was I saw him in concert twice that year, man that was a great Eagles tour. Oh, I digress, because this Joe Walsh is definitely not that Joe Walsh.

May I present you with the video, Chris Matthews versus Rep. Joe Walsh, Illinois 8th district, dufus.

Crossposted at DAGBlog

The Spike Seen Round the World Reply

On snap, Wendy Deng has some great reflexes! She spikes a shaving cream pie, intended for her husband back into the attackers face! I mean this is actually some pretty good stuff! Who knew there was something to be admired about Murdoch… that is right, his wife. This happened about 10 minutes ago.

I thought today would be a good day to record some hearings! However I didn’t realize I would get to see this:

Unknown Object

I can’t add anything more.

Crossposted at DAGBlog

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane Hamsher? 11

Wow, things happen when you are on vacation, and by things I mean Baby Jane Hudson  Hamsher’s blog meltdown the other day has turned into a thing of absolute wonder.  It was very dramatic wasn’t it, her Baby Jane Hudson style meltdown, dumb m-fers, really? Yeah that is the way to win an election, start another big fight on the interwebzz between like-minded people, that definitely gets us to where we want to be, wait, wut?

This ridiculous behavior is just  all too familiar to me, I still haven’t really gotten over the 2000 election. I can’t tell you how many well-meaning people I argued with back then who said they wouldn’t vote for Al Gore, who had become one of the more powerful Vice Presidents of our time, in terms of his mastery of government and his ideas of reform and modernizing government via the ever-changing world of technology.  He brought in an era of reform among the ranks of government.  Most people may or may not remember his Reinventing Government initiative, it was a program that worked, it was the result of Al Gores hard work and his experience in congress. Yet what was with the crowd that insisted  Gore and Bush were essentially the same, and why are they doing it again after all they should have learned from the Bush fiasco Presidency.  We can safely say there would have been no Iraq War if Al Gore had been President during 9-11. And yet here we are, discussing one more time how awful times a million the President is and his supporters are soooo stupid to ruin his chances like this, by supporting him, err or something.  It has now reached the crazy stage, in fact since Hamsher and that other crazy irrelevant guy Pat Cadell are actively working to make sure this President isn’t reelected, how liberal could either one really be? Yes, we know the answer, not liberal.   These shoddy analysis are pushed by the media.  They rely on manufactured controversy to get better ratings, and that is their only goal. The problem with the “primary Obama”  as led by Baby Jane is they seem impervious to facts, they seem unable to understand party politics, they just hope that the President will be in a primary race. That isn’t going to happen and if anyone thinks it will it is because they actually have their head planted firmly in the sand.  The Party has her candidate and it will not be Alan Grayson or Dennis Kucinich.  It is time to accept this fact and move on.   I am hoping we won’t let a faction of “the always pissed off crowd” disrupt this election.  I don’t know if they have the power to do so, but they certainly believe they have the power to do so.

Baby Jane Hamsher seems no different from Ralph Nader, she is a professional gadfly. She is a woman scorned no doubt about it,  I believe the blogger Eclectablog that he was sent an email from one of her employees basically saying she is going to crush him, and keep him from getting paid writing gigs on the internet..it is kind of comical in a sad sort of way. Does anyone really have that kind of power on the internet? I mean this isn’t William Randolf Hearsts era anymore, so the email comes off as ridiculous. I am not convinced anyone has that kind of power to crush a voice on the interwebzzz. How can anyone take her seriously after this kind of behavior? The over-the-top anger seems so like TBag in its apparent irrationality. And this draws us right back to the Baby Jane Hudson metaphor; Baby Jane Hudson, a former child star whose light went out long ago, her one and only goal in life was to become relevant again, one more time, this time she wouldn’t blow her chance, except that she did, because she always blows her chances.

What I don’t get is the end game, because certainly if they help sweep in more Republicans, progressivism will be even further from the doorstep of American politics. Because my instinct tells me that if you really are progressive you would want to prevent a Republican from being President, because in this day and age they simply have proven to be a threat to America. I mean hell, they are willing to play chicken with the economy, i.e. debt ceiling fiasco.  Republicans are holding a gun to their own heads and ours by their willingness to take the entire nation down in order to win a Presidential election, which is surreal and might I add unpatriotic!   And shouldn’t we be rallying people around this fact rather than fighting over whether or not there will be a primary challenger for this President?  (There will be no primary… it just isn’t going to happen).

Personally, I wish the war between progressives would end, ugh it is sooo tiring, and boring as the same issues are rehashed over and over again with no solutions in sight.   Baby Jane is relegating herself to obscurity, by her own actions, and for what? Just to be a contrarian, a gadfly, a rabble-rouser?  She never does explain why we are dumb mfers?  Nor does she adequately explain how supporting the President is really hurting his chances, is it opposite day and no one told me?  Well we will never truly be able to understand Baby Jane’s motives but I think they have more to do with making money rather than any real political agenda, she is just doing it the Rush Limbaugh/Scientology way, by building a base of fanatic followers who don’t ever think for themselves. Yikes what  way to make money.

For the fun of it… 3

I referred to this in an earlier post.

There is something in the psyche of those who either willingly inflict, or allow others to inflict, suffering on others.

They enjoy it. What other possible explanation can there be? The people who demand that what little still remains of the “safety net” be shredded and burned simply have to enjoy the misery of others.

We see more of this with the apologists for torture. Here it is complicated by the apparent willingness to enjoy it at a distance, though I suspect most who champion the practice would never stoop to dirtying their own hands with the blood of others, never assault their own eardrums with the pained screams of their victims, never want to bear the memories of having done any of it themselves, they merely want the feeling of superiority that arises from being able to inflict the carefully metered doses of suffering, rationalizing it all the while in the name of their shibboleth of the moment.

As an aside, one of the more horrifying moments I’ve experienced came one morning on the road, acting as a location guide for a feature film. We were in a small city in Middle America, having breakfast after getting our sunrise beauty shots, and as we awaited our eggs we were treated to the revolting sounds of someone at a nearby table going into a sociopathic level of detail about the physical damage he’d like to inflict on the children of suspects, in their presence.

There was little if any point to commenting, nothing was going to change the mind of this character – a typical Midwestern nobody, of course, who would never get close enough to the situation to do any such thing, and knew it all along. Most likely it was something said to build up his status in the minds of his companions.

As we left, I asked the rest of our small crew about their reactions. We were all dumbfounded. Nothing in any of our minds could have brought any of us to the point where we’d consider anything of the sort.

Now, to return to the original point…

It’s a common enough thing to read, in the comments section of a news story on any social program, posts left by the self-styled “fiscally responsible” sorts who are willing to do just about anything to anyone (short of themselves, of course!) to shave a few bucks off any relevant budget. Most of them fulminate about “handouts” and “layabouts” while going into mind-numbing detail about the imagined transgressions of those who, in most cases, are simply less fortunate, and genuinely in need of some sorts of assistance.

It’s all nonsense.

The true nature of the supposed Libertarian is that of the sociopath. No one else matters. So it’s easy, even enjoyable, to deprive others, in order to accrue more wealth.

The part I genuinely don’t get is the people who will never achieve anything remotely resembling wealth in their own lives taking similar positions, even as they themselves get skinned by those they support.

That’s why all I’m left with at the end of it is the feeling that it’s pure sadism.

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be 2

Note: This is taken from TPM-aholics, where it originated.




What do we want 2050 to look like?

We know a few things already.

It will be more crowded.  Estimates put us somewhere north of 9 billion people worldwide.  Maybe 14 billion by the end of the century.  I might make it to see the 9 billion, unappealing as that sounds.  The 14 billion, well, I’m glad I’ll be long gone for that.

Some nations will be much older, others will be younger.

It will be warmer.  Whether temperature increases stay steady, accelerate, or slow, they will continue for the foreseeable future.  As will weather instability, as we have seen in the last few months.

It might well be drier, and that’s not a good thing, as water is the one thing we absolutely, positively cannot live without.

Let’s leave the global aside for a moment and look at the national – and maybe even closer.

There are two main possible directions for the future.  One is to continue along the increasing corporatization of America, until we begin to resemble something akin to an electronicized feudal state, where ownership of most of the economy is concentrated in the hands of a very few, with the great numbers of people having almost no say or stake in anything.  This is the Libertarians’ ideal, of course, though many of their adherents are foolish enough to believe that they’ll somehow be on the ownership side of the fence.

They won’t.

They’re cannon fodder to the people really pulling the strings.  And they’ll resist that truth to the last breath.

Or we can set about reclaiming the concept of a public good, redefining ourselves in terms of a society rather than simply an economy, and relegating all religious discussion to its rightful place in the private sphere.

Something to work for, don’t you think?

What if that goal was even such a simple notion as that there is no good reason for anyone to have to go to bed hungry, or to not have a bed to go hungry to, or even a roof overhead?  That there is no good reason for a child to grow to adulthood unschooled?  That everyone having basic health care is a huge social positive in many more ways than there are room to list here?

We live in a society.  An economy is just a component of that society, and those who confuse the two shortchange not only this society, they also shortchange themselves.

It would appear that the choice is fairly clear – stark, even.  On the one hand, we can live in Rand Paul’s dreamland, an electronicized Somalia, with no functioning government to speak of and a tiny, cosseted elite exploiting everyone else for fun (more on this in the future) and profit, or we can change direction and realize that we will indeed do better if we all do better.

So, what do you want 2050 to look like?

Our Big Mistake 4

“Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.”

~Earl Warren

That sounds like a Lyle Lovett song, Our Big Mistake; we are repeating it over and over and over again, from the 1968 election to the present. Isn’t it sort of sad, we gave up working from the inside to continue to move government in a more progressive way?

  1. We turn on each other at the drop of a hat
  2. We keep our eye off the prize, remember this is ultimately about so much  more than one guy

Republicans currently seem to have a real death wish for the country! They will basically do anything to make sure this President is unable to function properly as the Chief Executive.  Certainly this demonstrates the power Grover Norquist has over Republican politicians. What is up with that? How is it these guys get away with this behavior. The whole debt ceiling debacle, can you imagine the outrage of the press and others if Democrats had held the entire country hostage like that? No, I don’t think so.  On the other hand the Hamsher, L. Ron Greenwald faux  progressives fight over who could be the leader of Shangri La., a leader for all, the liberal John Galt, the one who always makes good decisions, the man who never fails, the genius who saves us from ourselves. But he never requires we participate in saving ourselves, he does that on his own. So while the Hamsherwalds wait for their more perfect leader and the Republicans follow the Norquist lead, the country trudges on, but we struggle to maintain our optimism. But I am going to put this out there, why aren’t liberals/progressives working together to gain a foothold in government so more progressive legislation can be enacted at the federal level.

The extreme left is making a big mistake constantly making Barack Obama the issue and not Republican policies which are literally ruining the country.  How do we change the balance of power in the government?

There are few people more colorful in modern American history as Harold LeClair Ickes.  A man of America, he loved politics, and in his time he was a member of the Republican Party, the Progressive Party and ultimately became not just a member of the Democratic Party but was the longest serving Secretary of the Interior under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. From his perch he saw the rise and fall of the Progressive Party. His experience should give current progressives pause, because he offers clues to how to be an effective party in his critique of the Progressive Party of 1912.

Ickes was a young man in 1912, born in 1874; he’d begun his political life as a Republican. However, when Teddy Roosevelt changed parties, Harold Ickes changed parties. He was a Roosevelt republican, he believed in reform and he didn’t see W. H. Taft as a reformer. So Ickes promptly moved from the Republican Party to the newly formed Bull Moose Party, also known as the Progressive Party.

And so began a tumultuous time in the history of American politics By framing our ideas correctly we can wrest control of government from conservatives who flood the ranks of federal government.

By 1912, the progressive wing of the Republican Party had completely peeled off and begun their own party. It was ironically called, “A Contract with the People”. Wow who knew Newt Gingrich stole his Contract with/on America from some former disgruntled Republicans! I certainly did not know this.

The Platform:

The social platform is more than interesting, so here is a small excerpt of their platform:

  • A National Health Service to include all existing government medical agencies.
  • Social Insurance: which would provide for the elderly, the unemployed and the disabled.
  • Limited injunctions in strikes.
  • A minimum wage law for women
  • An eight hour workday
  • A federal securities commission
  • Farm relief.
  •  Workers’ Compensation for work-related injuries.
  • An inheritance tax.
  • A Constitutional Amendment to allow a Federal income tax.

The political reforms proposed included

  • Women’s suffrage.
  • Direct election of Senators.
  •  Primary elections for state and federal nominations.

Sound familiar? Yes it sounds like the New Deal!  Let’s just say the Gilded Aged suffered from many of the same issues America suffers from today, income inequality being a prime source of discontent, and as social nets are whittled down, there will be more discontent in the future. This was a time when Progressive could have had much impact on society and they could today too, but it takes organization and work, not just blogs bitching and moaning about the awfulness of everything.

Progressives didn’t have a big impact until Franklin Delano Roosevelt came into power. The Gilded Age, yes, there are many good comparisons to today. The Gilded Age in the US is marked by having the wealthiest congressional members, just like today.

Progressives today are failing in the same way independent progressive movements failed in the past, Ickes work “Who Killed the Progressive Party” gives us insight into those failures. Ickes point was the failure of the Progressive Party came down to one man, but it was so much more than that, through Ickes work we can see the ultimate failure in these words:

“The Progressive party contained few practical politicians in its ranks. The rank and file did not know how parties were run. They were blindly following Theodore Roosevelt, and they were not concerned about what machinery was necessary or how it was to be used. ” (Ickes, Who Killed the Progressive Party 309) Well our failure as Democrats and people who call themselves Progressives has been the failure to understand how parties and governments are run. It is within our best interest to understand how policies are made and implemented and to participate in order to be heard. Yes people are heard with their votes, but the failure to participate deeply by getting people elected and representing all levels of government is the only way to significantly change government policies.

By 1916, the Progressive Party was essentially dead.  It did not have any initial impact other than to break apart the Republican Party. I would hate to see Democrats, liberals, progressives, go this route.  Some progressive ideals did manifest in the next Roosevelt Administration, because it is here where people like Harold Ickes came to change America, and they did it by working from within the government. These participants were able to change the trajectory of laissez faire policies and help institute policies that benefited the working class of America.  Ickes himself was most successful in advancing progressivism when he was participating in the government as a man off all things to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Ickes held several posts simultaneously in the Roosevelt Administration, most famously of course, as the Secretary of the Interior a position he held from 1933 – 1946.  No doubt nothing like this can ever happen again, but it is an example of how to help craft big policies, and that is to get more progressives into government. My contention is, it should be done on a micro level as well as a macro level, i.e. the PTA and school boards are just as important as county, city, and state government. But I digress, Ickes was not just the Secretary of the Interior, in 1941 President Roosevelt appointed him the Petroleum Coordinator for National Defense (Ickes, Fightin’ Oil vii).  In fact he wrote a book called Fightin’ Oil based on his experience regulating oil companies. According to Ickes the Presidents objectives were stated clearly that his office was to; “make petroleum and petroleum products available, adequately and continuously, in the proper forms at the proper places …. to satisfy military and civilian needs (Ickes, Fightin’ Oil viii). ”

Here is the interesting passage from Ickes introduction:

There were two ways in which I might have approached the job. I could have said to the President: “Mr. President, you have given me a bunch of tough hombres to deal with, and the only way that I can get along with them is for you to give me dictatorial power so that I can tell them what to do, and see that they do it. That would have been Hitler’s way. In fact some people, including, I suspect, a good many oil men themselves, thought that it would be my way, too. But I fooled them. It just so happens, that in spite of contrary opinions here and there, I believe in the American system of free enterprise. It is also the fact that I believe that business can best do its part – in peace as in war – with the least possible direction, and with the least interference, by the Government.” (Ickes, Fightin’ Oil)

The point is, Ickes and progressivism had great impact because he and others like him worked from within the system to implement progressive policies and to defend those policies to the public. Ickes was an equally controversial Secretary of the Interior.

Right now, we, progressive and democrats, are fighting each other, and when we do that, like the former progressives did, we lose. We’ve lost ground for more than 30 years by giving up control of our power within the government, have you spoken to a federal employee lately? Have you heard the things they say  about the federal government…. But they work for the federal government!!!!! Oh man, I do plenty, so don’t we need to be applying for those positions, if you want people to think the government can do great things don’t the people who are employed their need to believe in the system too? Republicans have done a fantastic job of appointing their friends to positions of power in the federal government, in turn they hire more conservative employees, how else could someone like Michelle Bachmann work for the IRS? If we aren’t pro-active an attempt to infiltrate the government, our policies will never be implemented on a large scale.  Changing the system means participating in the system, and every single time we fail to do that, we lose ground to the Norquist crowd and we allow their message to become more powerful.

In short, we have to quit fighting with each other and we need to put our head down and work together. The President is just one guy, and he only serves for a short time, changes come from long term concerted efforts. If people want to see progressive change they must, must participate in the system.


Ickes, Harold L. Fightin’ Oil. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943.

—. The Autobiography of a Curmudgeon. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1943.

—. “Who Killed the Progressive Party.” The American Historical Review 46.2 (1941): 306-337.

Watkins, T. H. Righteous Pilgrim: The Life and Times of Harold L. Ickes 1874 – 1952. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1990.