How Tone Deaf is the Far Left?

There’s a reason progressives lose so often, and we should all know what it is.

It’s because of a small strain of progressives who prefer drama over reality, and they insist on going after Democrats while leaving Republicans alone. They don’t understand how the political system works, and they seem perfectly okay undermining liberals in the process. And one reason voters don’t like us very much is our inability to set priorities.

As I watched the Stephanie Miller Show on Free Speech TV this morning, I was “treated” to one of the most ridiculous “advocacy” videos I have ever seen during one of the breaks. It takes on Connecticut Democrat Jim Himes, presumably because he embodies “everything that’s wrong with Congress these days.”

Hyperbolic much?

First of all, is it possible to watch this video and not think of James O’Keefe? Is it really okay for our side to peddle falsehoods as fact and set up political theater scams designed to embarrass politicians, because they’re “liberal”? I’d say no, it’s not. The video is dramatic, pithy and childish enough to get like-minded far lefties giggling with glee at this fine piece of “theater.” Of course, with videos like this, they portray “Democrats” as corrupt, which further hurts our chance to get rid of the GOP in November. If it’s real corruption, like Ray Nagin’s in New Orleans, I’d say smear away. But as I’m about to show you, this is a lot of crap without any substance.

Why would they pick on Jim Himes? On a very superficial level, there’s a reason for it. Himes was a co-sponsor of HR 992, the “Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act,” which would weaken the requirements in Dodd-Frank that banks spin off derivatives into separate operations. Yeah, I don’t like the idea of continuing to allow banks to trade in derivatives, but given everything else that’s going on right now, it’s not something that should keep anyone rational up nights

Their main bone of contention with Himes stems from the fact that Himes received $63,450 from Citibank (it’s actually Citigroup, but why quibble over details when you’re trying to make a point, right?), and that Citigroup wrote a large portion of the bill. This part is true. According to the New York Times, “Two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word. (Lawmakers changed two words to make them plural.)” This is disturbing on some level, although it’s not uncommon for lobbyists to write portions of bills,  and that includes lobbyists for non-profits, charities and citizens’ groups. Who would you trust to help write a bill to provide meals for the homeless? A Congressperson who steps over the homeless on his or her way to work every morning, or someone who has run a soup kitchen or shelter and knows the issue well?

The video claims that Himes co-sponsored and “aggressively campaigned” for the bill, but there is little to no evidence of the latter. In fact, the evidence indicates that it makes zero sense that Himes should be singled out for shaming. The bill was written and sponsored by Republican Randy Hultgren of Illinois. If you’re going to complain about how the bill was written, you might want to discuss it with him. Himes was a co-sponsor, but there is no evidence that he had a hand in writing it. We also don’t know if Himes traded something to co-sponsor this bill.

The money? As I’ve explained before, when you look at campaign finance numbers, you have to look closely. Yes, he received $63,450 from Citigroup (Source), but look and you’ll find that most of that money came from individual contributions ($56,450). Only $7,000 came from the Citigroup PAC. Himes did received contributions from eight Citigroup lobbyists, but they gave a total of $4,500. That $63,450 constitutes about 2 percent of the amount he took in altogether, which was just over $3 million, and it’s less than the amount he had left over after the campaign, meaning the contributions didn’t make a difference in his campaign. In other words, it’s difficult to make the case that he did anything at all, but it’s even more difficult to claim that he did anything for the money, unless you simply want to believe it.

To show just how silly the scapegoating of Himes is, consider the fact that, while Citigroup helped write the bill, they are certainly not the only company that will benefit. Himes received about $517,000 from the “Securities and Investment” Industry, with $195,000 of that coming from PACs. That’s a lot; I won’t deny that. But John Boehner received nearly three times as much from that same industry last cycle, and he collected more than $900,000 from companies that would directly benefit from HR 992. Plus, he’s the Speaker of the House; he has a hell of a lot more to do with passing the bill than Himes. Why not go after him? That would make a lot more sense, wouldn’t it? Meanwhile, by doing this, we make “Democrats” look corrupt, which means a hit to people like Alan Grayson.

It’s as if we progressives are sitting on the deck of the Titanic, and some of us seem to be more concerned with the quality of the wallpaper than with the fact that the ship is about to be destroyed. I wonder how many of these types of progressives realize just how offensive the use of the phrase “everything that’s wrong with Congress these days” in this context is to most people out in the hinterlands.

Think about it. We have a Democrat who got 2% of his campaign money from Citigroup, then signed on to co-sponsor a bill crafted by Republicans (and Citigroup) to change a portion of Dodd-Frank that most people don’t even understand. He likely had no hand in writing it. The bill is being stopped by Harry Reid in the Senate, and would probably be vetoed by the President, anyway, so there is little to no chance of it ever becoming law. We also don’t know what he got in return for the minimal gesture of co-sponsorship, so the result may even be a net gain. If you think this is “corruption,” or that this is “everything that’s wrong with Congress these days,” I have to wonder where you have been for the last 34 years. Talk about out of touch!

You know what’s wrong with Congress these days? It’s being run by a radicalized major political party that insists on getting its way, even though its way is opposed by most of the public. They thrive on brinksmanship. They shut down the government to try to kill Obamacare, which is already established law. Fully 144 House Republicans voted to not pay our bills and to default on our debt back in October. They won’t consider any changes to gun laws, even when 92% of Americans approve of them. They have yet to pass a meaningful bill that would create jobs, and they keep making cuts that result in even greater job losses, at a time when we are trying to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Depression. They demanded that a food stamp cut be included in a farm bill that is absolutely necessary. They passed a sequester that everyone thought they were too smart to pass. I mean, do you really think a member of a minority party who co-sponsored a bill that will never become law is the worst thing we have to deal with right now? If so, then it’s difficult to underestimate your lack of political smarts, because it’s not even in the top ten.

What makes this even dumber is the fact that Himes’ voting record (source) is actually mostly excellent, and very progressive. He gets a 100% from most abortion, reproductive rights’ and women’s groups. He gets a very high grade from labor groups, he gets between 80% and 100% from civil rights groups, high grades from education groups, and very low grades from right wing groups. He votes with Democrats more than 94% of the time.

So, let’s sum up…

In a Congress where nothing is being passed and which is being run by a political majority full of reprobates who don’t give a tinker’s damn about the American people, a Congressman with a solidly center-left overall voting record is targeted by a “progressive” group for a James O’Keefe-style prank because he co-sponsored one bill that will never become law, thus actually making it slightly more difficult for Democrats to take back the House next January.

And you wonder why progressives can’t put together a winning streak? The only thing we all have to agree on is that the Republican Party is the worst problem we have. We can’t even manage that.

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  1. karcreat WHO is winning? Progressives are fewer in number now than in 2008. How do you account for the ‘Redding’ of so many Blue states? Progressives aren’t voting – Hillary’s people are sitting out 2014, too, and I see NO movement toward anything Progressives holler about because they don’t do the work.

    Raypc – Dems have accomplished exactly what you want, you just don’t know it because you’re NOT paying attention. I still hear progs holler ‘Bring back Glass-Steagall’ as if they even knew what that DID and that Mr. Glass and Mr. Steagall are long dead. You got the ISSUE in the Volcker Rule that was accepted by regulatory agencies in December last year – did you KNOW that? That put up a wall between our deposits and the money banks used for their own speculation, and that now has done what G-S once did. That makes banks no longer ‘too big to fail’ because they cannot take down our deposits with them when they flame out. Bam. Dems did what Progs wanted, and no one noticed because no one has a clue what the HELL the content of G-S or the Volcker Rule is. So before you sneer at Dems – even dumb ones like Himes – think about where good policy is secured: in a Congress where even the dumb ones give power to the overall policies that YOU like. Dems aren’t selling you out. The GOP is selling EVERYONE out. Get with reality.

  2. The failure the Left, leaving out voter apathy and the corporate sponsored right wing can be traced to three unsettling currents that have gotten worse over the years. T

    he first is so-called Professional Left became solidified in the 80’s and 90’s who mostly didn’t care about actually solving problems, just providing entertainment for rich guilty liberals in Hollywood or the Upper West Side. To paraphrase Chris Rock, since Malcolm and Martin were assassinated, we’ve has nothing but substitute teachers***

    The second are the Emo Progressives. There childish myopic fools who pull stunts like these idiots trolling a Congressman who is 85% on your side because he voted for one piece of corporate minutiae. Then there the angry and outright scary true believers who think that apathy and anarchy are the only means for really change. (See Edward Snowden followers)

    Third is, well, us. Pragmatic Progressives who too often said WTF and walked away frustrated. We can’t afford that any more, the Stakes are High. The only way for progressive causes to move forward is for us to drown the voice of the wing nuts AND the malcontents on the Left. And for this, we don’t need media, we need bodies. WE need to vote. WE need to run for local office and volunteer anywhere and everywhere. WE need to be the face of liberalism, not the corporate shills who prance around MSNBC, not the cartoon characters who run Pacifica Radio or children (literally and figuratively) who ‘lead’ (and I use the word very loosely) Occupy Wall Street. And certainly not Dude-Bro narcissists like Team Greenwald. WE need to follow Obama’s lead and be the adults in the room.

    *** Not counting POTUS, of course.

  3. “There’s a reason progressives lose so often”

    Except that they do NOT. They are WINNING more often than not, and Conservatives are DYING OUT…no real need to read more if the FIRST SENTENCE is HORSE SHIT, is there? Let’s cut the crap, indeed…

  4. For years Democratic Party members have declared how the GOP is out to attack and destroy our democracy. Yet as your article shows clearly to all, that members of the Democratic Party are doing their best to accomplish the same thing. The only difference is they do so out of blissful ignorance.

  5. Once again we see the circular firing squad forming in the Democratic Party led by far left bombthrowers. Stephanie may have made points with her fans of which I used to be one. But this kind of idiocy could destroy any chance of the Dems taking back the House and holding the Senate. Have they no interest in giving President Obama a chance to achieve some of his agenda in the second half of his second term? I don’t understand how people who appear to be savvy political pundits can be so blind to the harm they are causing liberal legislators/candidates. I am so tired of seeing progressive policies defeated by mouthbreathers on the right and myopic drivel from the left. It is quite disheartening. When I was marching in the early ’70s, fighting for an end to Vietnam and for civil rights, I never thought America would still be in such a mess by 2014.

    1. I agree with everything except blaming Stephanie Miller. This was during a break on Free Speech TV. She has no control over that part of the programming.

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