(Occasionally) Patronizing Beltway Bloggers

Matt Yglesias writes [I exchanged e-mails with Matt in which he made it clear to me that he does not think of himself as apart from the progressive activist movement. He sees himself as also subject to the need to "feel good." Matt stated that this need cuts across all ideological lines and groups. This seems right to me (though I do believe that "feeling good" is largely tied to believing that the policies are good.) I'm glad he communicated with me about this.]:

[T]he Obama administration points to an impressive array of accomplishment. Their health-care bill is the most significant progressive achievement in more than 40 years. Financial regulation, the new START treaty, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, etc. are nothing to sneer at. But something the administration barely seems to recognize is that political activists do not live on policy accomplishments alone. Small donations, volunteer time, and even voting itself are undertaken primarily in exchange for psychological benefits. People engaged in the process want—need—to feel good about themselves for doing it.

(Emphasis supplied.) [More...]

The funny thing about the ridiculous Journolist brouhaha is that what is really objectionable, at least to me, is not the secret e-mail list, but instead the completely patronizing attitude that many of the 'Listers have always displayed toward progressives not as enthralled with Obama's policy accomplishments as they are. Apparently, it is unfathomable for Yglesias to imagine that maybe, just maybe, progressive activists are disappointed about the Democrats' policy accomplishments, and that this disappointment might be anchored in rational analysis. They attribute progressive dissatisfaction to "psychological" reasons. This is patronizing pathetic stuff. That was always the problem I had with the 'Listers. And still do.

Speaking for me only

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    Discounting Technique 101 (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by MO Blue on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 09:54:44 AM EST
    Make the activist look like they are responding irrationally and emotionally rather than from a good/bad policy prospective. People who are operating in an irrational and emotional manner are not to be taken seriously.

    good god (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 09:58:47 AM EST
    Small donations, volunteer time, and even voting itself are undertaken primarily in exchange for psychological benefits.

    Do they really believe this? Certainly explains a lot if they do.


    Well, it's sort of hard to argue with that (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:05:50 AM EST
    It's also true that, as a mathematical proposition, it's basically impossible for your vote to matter.

    I guess it depends on what (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:27:18 AM EST
    you mean by psychological benefit. Seems like he means 'feel good' stuff, not satisfaction that, for example, people get health care.

    Or, just follow Ackerman's advice ... (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Yman on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:44:29 PM EST
    ... and call them "Racists!!!".

    Worked in the primary.


    People want to feel like they accomplished (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 09:57:01 AM EST
    something other than getting someone elected. It has nothing to do with 'feeling good about themselves', unless he means in the sense of being mad at themselves for wasting their time with nothing to show for it.

    I mean, to the extent they want to feel anything (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:04:24 AM EST
    at all. I think the overriding goal is policy change. How can it not be?

    Wasting my Gawd D*mned money too (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:10:21 AM EST
    The only money I've spent in the past four years on politics that I haven't been sorry about is still what I've sent to Lambert to try to do my part in keeping Corrente up and running.  And that's it!  Everything else I've blown dough on except FDL has been a miserable investment.

    I haven't contributed to TalkLeft monetarily because "J" has more iphones than Lambert does :)


    Yes, I don't regret contributing to those (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:30:41 AM EST
    that give me a tangible benefit, like good reading material and conversation!

    some of the political contributions are hard to justify...though I suppose they made me 'feel good' at the time. Maybe Yglesias is right.


    I gotta say (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 11:40:17 AM EST
    When Lambert made such good arguments that Paul Krugman felt the need to answer, I wish I would have had some extra dough laying around to send immediately right there.

    You make good policy arguments, make progressive policy arguments, work to make my life a better place and do it so credibly that you get that result....I'll send you money!

    I'm only sending money for past results though until further notice.  I will not send in money for promises at this time.  I'm all out of promise seed money.


    I guess I still feel pretty good (none / 0) (#36)
    by Cream City on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:11:55 PM EST
    about donations to my candidate in 2008.  

    It still feels like "paying it forward" for posterity -- for the day when the media and pols and others may grow up and behave better when the gender of a candidate next tests our maturity.

    Ah well, until then, maybe I can send my donations Down Under to the latest entrant among the many  lands of grown-ups!


    Yes - I'm OK with donations to that candidate (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:51:53 PM EST
    Unfortunately I also donated to a certain philanderer and some down ticket candidates that I can't even remember anymore.

    Oh yes, my state and local beneficiaries (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Cream City on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 01:52:28 PM EST
    are coming through okay . . . so far, and just okay.  There will be big tests ahead for them, though, and I am watching their every move!

    Oh yeah, I like Grayson (none / 0) (#45)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 03:22:03 PM EST
    in the next district over from mine. I did send him a contribution when he ran. He gets plenty now, so he's on his own. My rep Kosmas is a mixed bag. The district is drawn so strangely that she mostly represents the Space Coast - plus about 2 neighborhoods in Orlando, mine included. I was glad she beat the Republican, but she is pretty much a conservadem.

    I wish I could vote in Florida (none / 0) (#49)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 04:14:25 PM EST
    Perhaps I should start donating to Florida races.  They do have a notable social impact on lower Bama.  Nobody in Bama with a snowball's chance that I want to send money to.

    Hmmm, lest Florida have impact (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Cream City on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 04:49:17 PM EST
    upon us all again, perhaps I ought do so, too.

    After all, I had planned to send money the other way, to another peninsula -- the Upper Peninsula of Michigan -- but we do not have to defeat that incumbent now.  So I can send those bucks south!


    Now now, I wouldn't go that far (none / 0) (#53)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 06:12:21 PM EST
    It is such a strange place. The Dems should be having a good year with the Republicans gone wild all over, but they can't seem to fi d candidates with any oomph. I think Crist is going to take that Senate seat. Meek is getting carpet bombed  with negative ads (did you know Kendrick Meek caused the recession? Well, he was in Congress the whole time!) by a rich former republican primary challenger who probably has even less chance of beating Crist. Meek is all but invisible - done a lot of grassroots stuff, but has not been on tv at all. I went to one of his speeches- seems like a decent guy, but not gonna set the world on fire.

    Anyway, I'm glad we don't need another hero....  


    But if you must... (none / 0) (#54)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 06:19:45 PM EST
    The female Dem candidate for governor, Alex Sink,  is picking up some steam as Bill McCollum gets beat up by his primary challenger. she is getting a reputation as the reliably sane one in FL politics. a few monhs ago I didn't think there was a chance for her, but now I'm cautiously optimistic. Having a female Dem sane governor might almost make it bearable here- at least not as embarrassing.  

    I donated to the philanderer too :) (none / 0) (#48)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 04:10:31 PM EST
    Psychological benefits? (5.00 / 5) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:17:40 AM EST
    Yes Matt, knowing that someone isn't going to gut my Social Security for more benefitting Wall Street is a psychological benefit.  And knowing that I will be able to get the healthcare that I need and that I can actually afford it is a psychological benefit.  And having someone like Elizabeth Warren looking out for the middle class while the middle class is choking to death on "toxic assets and bookkeeping" is a psychological benefit.  What an IDIOT!

    But hey, if all I do all day is clean the lint out of my belly button and paint my toes nails.....I am fabulously beach ready at a moments notice and you can't help but notice how great my belly button and my shellacked toe nails are.

    Is it Merit Badge Day at Democracy Camp already? (5.00 / 6) (#11)
    by Ellie on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:22:28 AM EST
    ... where [fill in the busywork] scores a patch?

    I suppose the door-knocking and phone-banking patches -- in addition to amping the self-esteem, of course -- make it easier to accept the Obama admin's phasing-out of the contraception patch.

    I am going to ask my friends who were (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:00:49 PM EST
    going door-to-door in Akron on election day to get out the vote.  

    They passing of legislation... (5.00 / 7) (#12)
    by Dadler on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:22:30 AM EST
    ...is not policy accomplishment. Only when that legislation actually WORKS is anything accomplished that matters. And watered down bills constructed inanely to gain non-existent Republican support are not exactly things to cheer about before they ever take effect.

    Whatever pscyho-b.s. Yglesias want to attribute to anyone, the biggest steaming pile of it comes from Matt himself, who doesn't seem able to differentiate between simply passing something and that something passed actually WORKING in practice.

    What a condscending pr*ck.

    It's not just him (none / 0) (#20)
    by Slado on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:34:57 AM EST
    it's the whole DC press, legislative, lobbying, hanger on tax funded boondoggle that our government has turned into.

    We are simply serfs in their view who should know what's good for us.

    If we dare question whats in a bill then we aren't smart enough to understand it.

    What is so amusing is it's now dem on dem crime and the current administration is just as clueless as the last one was when it stopped listening to its base.

    Same story, different actors.


    Sure, nothing new about it... (none / 0) (#25)
    by Dadler on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:51:26 AM EST
    ...but I wouldn't say neccesarily it's what our government has become as much as it is what the media has devolved into -- largely a mouthpiece.

    The government used to fear the press. Now they just stroke it off.


    How about the fact (5.00 / 4) (#17)
    by Slado on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:31:35 AM EST
    that almost nobody that doesn't live in DC likes his legislative accomplishments.

    We can disagree about what he should have passed but we can all agree that passing something in the attempt to please everyone gets you bad policy that we all hate.

    Bush did this with some of his policies and it cost him the support of his base which in the long run equals the death of any politician.

    Sure, try to win over the other side with your ideals but maybe, just maybe if you can't win the argument or win it enough to pass a large policy it is better to focus on smaller goals then to try and pass some huge boondoggle that nobody with any sense really wants.  

    To me that is the major issue with this president.

    He wants credit for simply graduating.   The voter doesn't give completes or incomplete.   They reward accomplishments that help society.  None of the things the president has done has helped him earn a grade higher then a complete IMHO.

    I've never understood... (5.00 / 5) (#23)
    by Romberry on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:39:22 AM EST
    ...why it is I am supposed to care about what Matt Yglesias thinks, or what it is about him that make so many others care what he thinks.

    I'm sure he's smart as the dickens, but when it comes to politics, I've often felt that he needs to buy a clue. The list of policy "achievements" he rattles off include a couple I don't regard as anything worth bragging about, starting with health care "reform" that I don't see so much as an achievement as I do a sell-out which has granted the de facto power of taxation to for-profit corporations and locked us into a badly broken system.

    We have an economy in the tank, U6 unemployment at over 16 percent, massive military spending, a state of more or less permanent war (which apparently justifies anything at all), foreclosures continuing at a record pace and an administration that frankly seems oblivious.

    Why was the sell-out health care reform deal (which was handled very, very badly) given precedence over jobs, jobs, jobs? Why were contracts for banksters and their bonuses sacrosanct, but contracts for union workers were not? Why the sell-out on negotiating drug prices under Part D? Why the sell-out on re-importation?

    Yglesias and some others are patronizing because they think that the rest of us are stupid, and that if we were just as enlightened as they, we'd be happy as clams. The attitude of the 'listers' is something I find offensive.

    I know this isn't a well constructed comment...mostly I'm ranting...and I apologize for that. But this stuff p*sses me off.

    Perhaps Yglesias hasn't noticed that (5.00 / 15) (#24)
    by Anne on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:49:13 AM EST
    many of Obama's so-called accomplishments have yet to prove themselves to be as "progressive" or historic as touted, and that many of them represent an endgame that was designed to weaken reform efforts as much as possible, while still passing "something" so victory could be claimed.

    What the administration actually fails to recognize is that good governance is the benefit that is - or should be - at the heart of all of this, and voting and donating and volunteering are supposed to be in furtherance of the governance we want and need.  We feel good when our efforts give us the results we want - and many of us do not feel like being good sports where our health care system, our financial system, our social safety net, our jobs, our judicial system, our bodies, and our rights to privacy are concerned: it does matter to us when we lose, especially when we lose to powerful corporate interests, or to power itself, and there is little comfort or consolation in our or their having played a good game if what really happened is we lost something important - again.

    Yglesias patronizes because Obama does; he can talk down to the liberals, because Obama has no respect for us, or interest in what we want.  How maddening is it that we have legions of self-serving bloggers who have made it their mission to defend Obama policies and "accomplishments" that would have them shrieking mad if they came from Republicans, and that defense is done in a head-patting, condescending way that is "this" close to suggesting that maybe we're so upset because it's, well, that time of the month.

    I'm sorry, but I cannot and will not be placated; Yglesias needs a drool cup for that piece of writing.

    what does it say, psychologically, that (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by ahazydelirium on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:01:19 PM EST
    these bloggers regularly feel the need to punch the hippies even while claiming they're irrelevant?

    Classic bully behavior, it says to me (none / 0) (#46)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 03:22:49 PM EST
    Not just hippies (none / 0) (#52)
    by jbindc on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 05:17:27 PM EST
    Anyone who thinks differently than he does.  After all - he must know best.  If you disagree, you must be stupid.

    Their starting premise (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 09:39:16 AM EST
    is that Obama has done about as well as he possibly could have given the constraints he faces.

    Remember, he won the election. That means he's infallible. Just like Rahm Emanuel.

    Journolist (none / 0) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:04:19 AM EST
    Setting the pace and the bar everyday, cept for around here thank God!

    Unfortunately (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by jbindc on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:24:23 AM EST
    People who don't know better read these J-listers and take their words as gospel because they are Very Serious People, doncha know?

    Last Feb, Rahm characterized liberal activists (none / 0) (#9)
    by byteb on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:13:04 AM EST
    as fracking retarded. It seems that attitude is still in place not only within the administration but also with Matt Yglesias and too many 'Listers.

    Atten: BTD- help! (none / 0) (#14)
    by DFLer on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:25:05 AM EST
    Please explain the reference to "the secret e-mail list" I read the Matt piece online...didn't see that.

    Google (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:32:20 AM EST
    Journolist and Daily Caller.

    thanks - did so (none / 0) (#40)
    by DFLer on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 01:46:54 PM EST
    aarrgghh - that's a lot of bs to wade through.

    Journolist was a private (none / 0) (#19)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:34:35 AM EST
    message board that only certain journos and bloggers had access to. It is closed down now. That is the secret email list. You can google it for the gory details. Some of the supposedly private emails to that board have been leaked.

    That just means that they moved (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Cream City on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:07:18 PM EST
    to another secret list of the insiders now.  Bet on it.

    cx: secret listserv/secret site (none / 0) (#35)
    by Cream City on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:08:14 PM EST
    . . . to be more clear.

    Sorry meant that as a reply to Dadler (none / 0) (#21)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:35:24 AM EST
    aargh DFler...I'm done now (none / 0) (#22)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:35:45 AM EST
    thanks for hanging in there ruffian. (none / 0) (#41)
    by DFLer on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 01:47:44 PM EST
    Of course, Matt is also... (none / 0) (#26)
    by Dadler on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:58:01 AM EST
    ...engaging is some amusing finger-pointing. Comments like his are always empty, laughable failures when the writer makes no attempt to implicate himself in the human foibles he criticizes. "Now look, I'm as guilty as anyone. Hell, I even remember a time when I was so..."  But that would be far too much honest self-dredging for him.  Everyone else is the problem, not him, of course not.

    Lister? (none / 0) (#27)
    by gaf on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 11:01:54 AM EST
    What or who is a lister?

    Ignore (none / 0) (#29)
    by gaf on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 11:39:17 AM EST
    Ignore my question. I got it - Lister is short for JournoLister.

    Journolist (none / 0) (#28)
    by Radiowalla on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 11:16:03 AM EST
    sounds awfully Village-y to me.

    They seem completely incapable (none / 0) (#31)
    by dainla on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 11:41:33 AM EST
    of understanding this simple point.

    Progressives are mad (none / 0) (#38)
    by lilburro on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:48:23 PM EST
    for the same reasons as everyone else:  the stimulus did not work well enough, and unemployment is still high.  The other accomplishments are good, but pointing to them only makes progressives and the President look out of touch, IMO.

    The other accomplishments aren't (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by dk on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 02:23:06 PM EST
    much.  The only good in the healthcare bill is the increased $$ for medicaid, but because the for-profit health insurance industry remains unchecked theose benefits will soon prove to be insufficient.  The FinReg bill is really a waste of the paper it is printed on.  It has no substantive effect on Wall Street.  If you don't believe me, maybe believe BTD who didn't bother to blog on it becuase it would have been a waste of his time.

    And (none / 0) (#44)
    by jbindc on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 03:00:42 PM EST
    Will the "health care reform" bill work for Dems to run on?  All most voters know is that a year was spent debating it (a year when this country was bleeding jobs), but they have not seen any benefits from it yet - all they've heard is "socialized medicine!" and that if they don't get insurance, they will be hit with a penalty on their taxes.

    How do the Dems run on that?


    Harry Reid says it is a good issue (none / 0) (#47)
    by BTAL on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 04:08:18 PM EST
    to run on for the Dems.

    And, Madam Pelosi is on record that HCR was also a jobs bill.

    See, it all comes in one neat package with a bow on top.  


    Harry and Nancy (none / 0) (#55)
    by jbindc on Tue Jul 27, 2010 at 10:09:05 AM EST
    Need to pay closer attention.  For example, the National Council on Aging just released a poll:

    Washington, DC - A national survey of adults aged 65 and older for the National Council on Aging (NCOA) finds that most seniors are still confused or unaware of important aspects of health reform, or the Affordable Care Act, including its impact on their own Medicare coverage, the growth of Medicare, and the budget deficit.

    NCOA identified the top 12 facts that every senior should know about the health reform law. The "Straight Talk" poll reveals that only 17% of seniors knew the correct answers to more than half the factual questions posed about these key aspects of new law, and only 9% knew the correct answers to at least two-thirds of the questions. None of the 636 older adults interviewed for the poll knew the correct answers to all 12 of the factual questions.   

    Seniors aren't the only ones confused.


    Matt (none / 0) (#50)
    by kmblue on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 04:27:02 PM EST
    is one of the most patronizing sons of a gun I've ever had the misfortune to read (due to linkage).

    You ain't Father Knows Best, Matt, and neither is Obama.  We understand perfectly what is going on,
    thank you.  And many of us don't like it.