The “L” Word Reappears With A Vengeance at the New York Times

Posted on by

I’m not certain what to make of an article at the New York Times this evening, “Senate Liberals Move to Toughen Bill Regulating Wall Street.”

Liberals? That is a word that has almost disappeared from polite conversation. “Liberal” is a term used by those of the conservative persuasion to discredit anyone to the left of them. Yes, I know Paul Krugman branded himself one in his last book, but that sort of proves the point. He’s a East Coast egghead, now Nobel Prize winner who teaches at an elite university, and even worse, writes for that pinko paper, The New York Times. So he fits one of the stereotypes, that of being too smart to be trustworthy.

But in all seriousness, the term “liberal” which like “conservative” was once descriptive and also worn as a badge of honor by adherents, has become badly discredited in the US. For instance, even though the abject failure of George Bush’s presidency took the wind out of the sails of the neocons, the left in the US is so badly cowed that its positions are more or less in line with Eisenhower Republicans, and it bolder element called itself progressive so as not to taint itself with “liberal” baggage.

So what gives with this New York Times piece? Here is the first paragraph:

Liberal Democrats in the Senate, emboldened by a wave of populism, are trying to make financial regulatory legislation far tougher on Wall Street, potentially restricting or breaking up the biggest banks and financial companies.

Yves here. “Populism” has been one of the new ways to discredit those who question the divine right of the banking classes to take as much of the economic pie as they possibly can for themselves. It has the convenient effect of suggesting that those who want to restrain financiers have a bad case of class jealousy, when in fact they might have been awake when the money mavens nearly destroyed the global economy and are therefore eager to prevent a repeat.

So what is this piece saying? Is it besmirching the bona fides of the Senate reformer wanna bes? (these efforts add up to a lot less than the PR would have you believe) Is it a sign that the left has gotten a teeny bit more bolder and has now decided to wrap itself in the heretofore dreaded “L” mantle? The article uses “liberal” ten times and is awfully fond of talking about that dreadful populism (by implication, voters driven by blood lust for their betters):

The liberal amendment that could be hardest to defeat — and is among the most deeply dreaded by Wall Street — also has some of the purest populist appeal: a proposal by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware to break up the nation’s biggest banks by imposing caps on the deposits they can hold and limits on other liabilities.

Yves here. Boy, these liberals sure are vengeful and hold grudges for a long time:

Some of the liberals view the financial regulatory legislation as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to slap handcuffs on big banks that they have long viewed as greedy.

Some may hope that this change is indeed progress, an illustration of Ganhdi’s remark, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

But that view assumes these newly emboldened liberals use the wind in their sails to maximum advantage. As much as I’m keenly in favor of reining in the banks, both the headfake reforms initially proposed and the various amendments are slapdash, lacking in a clear understanding of what went wrong and what are the best leverage points (pun intended) to intervene. The FDIC’s proposed securitization reforms are way ahead of anything in current legislation. The public and the solons are only now getting to the nitty gritty of what happened during the crisis, and the proposed reforms don’t address root causes (including pay structures, governance, and liability).

If any bill passes now, the financial services industry wins. There will not be any additional major reforms until we have another big crisis. Rushing the reforms through before meaningful forensics are completed assures change will be superficial and will leave the old architecture largely intact. The banksters will have to endure being called more bad names in public, but that is a small price to pay for having looted the taxpayer on such a massive scale and being allowed to carry on more or less as before.

Update: In a bit of synchronicity, reader John D sent a link to a Raw Story summary of a new Pew Institute poll. The press is out of touch with America, it seems…it may not be liberal enough, if the story from the supposedly left-leaning New York Times above is any indicator. Even Republicans like the concept “progressive”. What is the world coming to? From Raw Story:

The poll, conducted Apr. 21-26 attempted to gauge Americans’ honest responses to various concepts. Strikingly — perhaps due to the recent financial crisis, repeated bank bailouts and ire at Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs — more Americans have positive views of liberals than they do
of capitalists.

“There is a substantial partisan divide in views of the word ‘progressive,'” Pew researchers note. “However, majorities of Democrats (81%), independents (64%) and Republicans (56%) have a positive reaction to ‘progressive.'”…

Capitalism scored highest among white college graduates with family incomes above $75,000. Socialism did best among those between the ages of 18-29 who approve of President Barack Obama and have incomes below $30,000.

“More than twice as many blacks as whites react positively to “socialism” (53% vs. 24%),” Pew’s pollsters note. “Yet there are no racial differences in views of “capitalism” – 50% of African Americans and 53% of whites have a positive reaction.

“Those with a high school education or less are evenly divided over “capitalism” (44% positive vs. 42% negative),” they continue. “Among those with some college experience, 49% react positively to “capitalism” as do 68% of college graduates. Those with a high school education or less are more likely to express a positive view of “socialism” than do those with more education.

“People with family incomes of $75,000 or more are the only income group in which a clear majority (66%) reacts positively to the word ‘capitalism,'” Pew adds. “Views of ‘socialism’ also are much more negative among those in this income category (71% negative) – and those with incomes of $30,000 to
$75,000 (64% negative) – than those with incomes of less than $30,000 (46% negative).”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. attempter

    I haven’t been keeping a tally, but my impression is that the NYT has been using “liberal” in this sense of an implied slur all along. (I don’t know if the use is increasing, and therefore if there’s progress along Gandhi’s continuum or not; thankfully I don’t feel the need to read as many NYT op-eds, er, business page “articles”, as I used to.)

    The NYT’s practice is standard for the MSM, and no doubt they play their historical role of setting the pace here as well. Whatever is broadly wanted by the people (centrist/moderate by definition) is called “liberal” (while anything actually left-of-center like single-payer is an unidea; true leftist ideas are a moot point since those don’t exist at all, largely on account of the betrayal and rightward rush of “liberal” leaders themselves*), the range from right-of-center to firmly right is called “centrist” or “moderate”, and only the hardest of the hard right is called “right-of-center” or “conservative”.

    *the left in the US is so badly cowed that its positions are more or less in line with Eisenhower Republicans, and it bolder element called itself progressive so as not to taint itself with “liberal” baggage.

    Well, that means simply that beyond a small band of fugitives there is no “left” in US politics. By definition an erstwhile leftist who slithers over to the right side of the spectrum becomes a rightist. That’s true of all corporate liberals, the so-called “liberal media” and of course the Democratic party as a whole.

    The term “liberal”, in today’s politics, means an economic rightist who’s just less rigorous and consistent than the real reactionaries. But he shares their malevolent kleptocratic intent.

    As for the silly “progressive” rebranding, that was just another example of these sellouts believing the problem isn’t their betrayal, their lies, their cowardice, or their horrible policies, but just their messaging.

    But as we saw with a fraud like the “Progressive Block” allegedly standing against health insurance racketeering, lying through their teeth the whole way, the term “progressive” still stands for the same old cravenness, betrayal, and lies.

    So if one wanted to still salvage even that term you have to say something like “real progressive” or “true progressive”. How repulsive these politics are.

    “Liberal” is a term used by those of the conservative persuasion to discredit anyone to the left of them.

    More like, the more aggressive gangsters (Republicans and direct racket cadres) use it to cow those like Democrats, the MSM, and “liberal” astroturf groups who are just as far to the right in action, but remain wobbly and more cowardly about it. For example, Republicans throwing around the slur “liberal media” has been spectacularly successful in imposing ideological discipline on the MSM, who are essentially the cowardly kind of bully. Same with calling Obama a “socialist”, when he’s really a corporatist and chickenhawk warmonger indistinguishable from Bush, policy-wise.

  2. Allen C

    “If any bill passes now, the financial services industry wins.”

    Corporate and political sociopaths are in control.

  3. eric anderson

    “Whatever is broadly wanted by the people (centrist/moderate by definition) is called ‘liberal’…”

    This seems a little improbable. Are term limits called liberal? Most people approve of them for Congress. 58% of Americans want smaller government and fewer services. (Washington Post poll). Is that called liberal? Voters desire tort reform by a two to one margin. (Rassmussen poll)
    Is this an idea endorsed by liberals, progressives, or whatever-you-call-them?

    Just a few examples.

    I certainly agree that socialist is a poor label for Obama. Ron Paul said he’s a “corporatist.” I’d have difficulty arguing with that assessment.

    I think we’ve reached a point where true conservatives and true progressives agree on a surprising number of points. That is the strange times we find ourselves living in. The Times would do better to stick to simply describing the reforms, without attempting to ascribe them to a particular camp.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      “58% of Americans want smaller government and fewer services.” I don’t know the facts of the poll you are citing, but the result of the poll does not in any way comport with my experience with the species we like to label H. sapiens.

      I would suspect that either the poll was poorly worded or that the respondents were delusional. Or perhaps the poll was just an outlier. Of course, I understand my own suspicions are just opinions. Then again, those opinions just might be correct.

      Certainly, I can own up to recognizing many situations in which people say that they want to downsize a part of government that does not directly benefit them (of course, just as long as the part that does directly benefit them remains untouched…I don’t know too many seniors ready to kill Medicare, which is one of the biggest pieces of the federal budget, for instance).

      In fact, in direct opposition to your intimation about the “American people,” my experience is that almost *every* time something goes wrong, the reaction from all types of idealogues is along the lines of outrage coupled with the impassioned cry, “why didn’t someone protect me from this?”

      Why didn’t they stop Jack in the Box from killing my kid with E. coli O157:H7?
      Why didn’t the DMV refuse to renew the license of that 90 year who was so blind he ran over my mother?
      Why didn’t they reinforce the levees that could have protected NOLA during Katrina after finding out they were suspect from the previous storms?
      Why didn’t they inspect the oil rig that led to the massive spill?
      Why didn’t they have more judges so that my case could go to trial in a timely fashion?
      Why didn’t they uncover Madoff years ago?

      I am not saying that these ever-present questions are rational or that government can remove all risk from life. That would be insane. I am also not saying that the services we get are efficient or well delivered (or ever will be). That would also be insane.

      But at the same time, seriously dude, who wants “fewer services?” This verges on f*cking nonsense.

      Listen, we all know that most every one gets alligator arms once the bill gets placed on the table, but at the same time, no one wants to forego any part of the meal.

      [By the way, many people support “tort reform” until they find out what it actually is. Not that I’m against tort reform. I’m for all sorts of bureaucratic micromanaging of the legal system, just as you apparently are (kidding…)]

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Pew is scrupulous about stuff like this, so you are focusing your ire incorrectly. This instead serves to illustrate how inconsistent people are. Polls are notoriously sensitive to how the question is phrased. Behavioral economics research consistently finds that people will react differently to the same economic proposition depending on how it is presented.

        More specifically, we just had a health care debate in which people simultaneously said they did not want socialize medicine and did not want Medicare touched.

        Here, the poll just shows how brainwashed people are. Say “do you want smaller government”, people have been conditioned, “oh that means less taxes” so they say yes. Ask them what they are willing to give up and pretty much without exception it will be stuff that does not affect them.

        1. Thomasina Jefferson

          I think people are also inconsistent because they are not using the same definitions of the terms they use and, as a consequence, do not have the same understanding of what the meaning of the terms actually are.

          It is a bit like Babylon where people – even though they are speaking the same language – can’t understand, and are taking past, eachother, simply because they are using their terms with different meanings without being aware of it.

          You can find definitions of Capitalism, Socialism, Progressivism and Liberalism etc that simply don’t make any sense.
          I had to go back to a hardcover English dictionary printed in 1992 to get the historically correct defitions of those – and other – terms.

          This process of confusing the issue by changing and messing up definitions is part of the brainwashing you mentioned.

      2. eric anderson

        I beg to differ. I believe a plurality, if not a majority, believe that, even if we want them, “more services” is not something the government is competent to provide.

        We have a history now of increasing government intervention in EVERYTHING, and a plurality if not a majority are finally beginning to take notice of the fact that “more services” does not equal a better standard of living, greater justice, or fewer potholes.

        The disconnect is getting undeniable except to those who refuse to see.

        I’m perfectly willing to see a reduction in the government benefits my family gets, as long as we stop propping up crooks on Wall Street and in the banking industry, better focusing of defense spending, plus a sane process of prioritization and elimination of government inefficiencies and whole departments that are not producing benefits commensurate with expenses.

        I don’t believe I am alone, or an oddity. But I could be wrong. Time will tell.

    2. Vespasian

      “we’ve reached a point where true conservatives and true progressives agree on a surprising number of points”.

      I fully agree, because I’m there — I don’t know what to call myself! I’m for hard-money, strict financial accounting, empowered local communities, and against all gov’t “social aid” programs … but I’m also “progressive” with my irreligious views, opposition to corporate power, and belief in strong (even “intrusive”) gov’t in those matters we recognize gov’t has sole ability to regulate / monitor (such as the securities market & environmental enforcement, so as to prevent The Tragedy of the Commons).

      What describes me? Dis-Establishmentarianism?

  4. Francois T

    The NYT…sigh!

    I have yet to see them use the term neocon or reactionary to describe Palin or Cheney.

    Enough said!

  5. Kevin de Bruxelles

    This article represents a cohesion-building exercise to help lift “liberal” spirits in the run-up to 2010. The key underlying concept that the NYT must keep hammering home is that the political system is indeed competitive; and even better (and more preposterous) that nowadays, the “liberals” are “winning”. This blue cape of an illusory win on “reforming” Wall Street is waved in front of the victory-starved liberals face. The fact our liberal friend has already been bloodied in early rounds; the lances and barbed sticks flap about as he moves, makes it even sadder when once again he insists on keeping the illusion of democracy strong by charging the matador to vote Democratic in November.

    Of course the same drill is being performed on the Republican camp as well–only in different media outlets.

    And the aftermath of charging the cape is pure ritual. Our political/media/corporate matador class are not simple brutes. Subduing their citizen beasts is, after all, a high art. Any old oligarch could crush his proles with tanks and the shear strength of totalitarianism. We can all see how much more superior it is to impose your brutal will elegantly by putting on a beautiful display, showing respect for the noble beast, allowing the illusion of a fair fight, faking danger by allowing the tiring beast to pass very close indeed, wearing him down slowly with many soft blows, before finally thrusting your sword through the citizen beast’s exposed aorta with a florish of studied elan.

    Of course this metaphor is not perfect. Most bulls are killed so they can be excused for never learning as a species to resist partaking in their own death ritual. But election year after election year Americans vote for the same two corporatist parties with the same predictable corporatist results. Another key difference with traditional bull fighting is that in the US system there is both a red cape and a blue cape for the potential victim to choose from. It is the job of the NYT and other media elites to convince their citizen bulls to keep charging those fluttering capes and to forget that only a sword through the heart follows the choice of either corporatist party.

  6. michel

    The problem with liberalism as a concept is that it has become associated with large spending big government closely allied with trade unionism, and in particular, in other countries, with public sector trade unions.

    It thus becomes a vehicle for looting – the capture of the state apparatus by special interests, who use their control to their own benefit even when the results are to impose huge net costs, which outweigh those benefits, on the country as a whole.

    If you look at the underlying causes of the crash, you have two things going on. One is extraordinary ingenuity in the cause of looting by the finance sector, a conservative special interest group. The other is the surge in money and credit, which was the direct and deliberate result of government intervention.

    This is what has discredited liberalism, though it has not increased the credibility of conservatism one jot. The problem is, skeptics simply don’t believe that regimes with a liberal approach to the world and representing the liberal special interests, will introduce regulation which improves things. On the contrary, they may well use the opportunity to benefit their own interests in ways that make things worse.

    It is a fairly dire situation. One feels a lot of sympathy for the British today, forced to choose between sellouts to the City tout court, and sellouts to the City combined with sellouts to the public sector unions, and then somewhere down the list, a boy interviewing for a man’s job. God help them come Friday!

  7. kstills


    This is economic commentary?

    There are a million political blogs floating around out there, and while I realize it’s the author’s perogative on what she wants to opine about, I would much rather hear her opinion on Greece then on the NYT’s use of the word ‘Liberal’.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Economics is political. The profession has tried to brand it as science to mask its true uses.

      I regularly parse news stories, and if you don’t like it, no one is holding a gun to your head to read them. I’ve written posts on propaganda and other misleading uses language, and they’ve proven popular with readers.

      This happens to be my blog, and your attempts to police my writing are not welcome.

  8. itzybitter

    The neoliberal cabal that has captured this nation won their victory against us, and liberal democracy with it, not only by poisoning the word liberal, but much more importantly, by undermining the reasoning process itself. We no longer test ideas against the demands that they serve a greater good, the society as a whole. If the objective is to change policy to enable rentiers, through usury and deceit, to literally rape and pillage the land, the traditional tools of debate are not effective to that end.

    Traditional conservatives, as recently as 30 years ago, still recognized legitimacy in a greater good. The highly regarded, self-proclaimed proud conservative of today relies on unthinking support from legions of other “proud conservatives”.

    My greatest hope for Barack Obama was that he would reframe the debate, but to my chagrine, the neoliberals march on, screaming ever more loudly. I am not hopeful.

  9. alex

    ‘Liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are largely meaningless terms used mostly by those who are too lazy to think or incapable of making reasoned arguments. That’s especially true when talking about real world politics as opposed to ivory tower philosophies.

    ‘Populist’ is even worse (and the article uses the term several places). It’s what I call a Rorschach word – what you read into it says more about you than anything else. It’s a butterfly, no it’s a vagina, no it’s an ink blot! If nothing else people who use it disparagingly should say ‘demagoguery’ instead, as that’s the clear and unambiguous word for what they’re trying to say.

    Why is that article in the news section when it’s just as much an editorial? Too many reporters (or their editors) are wannabee commentators who distort news reporting by their unjustified and unnecessary use of adjectives like liberal, conservative and populist. Just report the damn facts and leave commentary for the editorial section.

    The fact that otherwise political opposites like Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders are both pushing to audit the Fed gives me hope, and makes me glad that we don’t have a parliamentary system with its emphasis on strict party discipline (yeah, I know Bernie’s an independent, but the point remains).

  10. Peripheral Visionary

    I prefer “progressive” over “liberal”, as “liberal” simply does not have a consistent meaning. The traditional meaning of the term “liberal” focused on aspects of personal and social liberties, but at some point it became altered to take on a whole host of other implications, primarily far-reaching government programs intended to restructure society. That, properly defined, is not “liberalism”, but rather “progressivism”, the direct product of the Progressive movement of the late 19th/early 20th century, with a connection to classical liberalism that is tenuous at best.

    But all of this belies the more complex reality that politics is no longer a one-dimensional spectrum. The traditional right/left axis includes a number of variables which technically are independent; most notably the “social values” and “fiscal” variables (broadly, the split between traditional values and progressive values, and the split between “small government” and “big government” approaches.) I would include a third variable, the level of orientation toward established non-government players; what I might call the “corporatist vs populist” variable.

    What we are seeing now is an increase in people and movements who defy the usual classifications, resulting in considerable confusion; confusion that is not lessened by inappropriate use of terminology. The Obama administration (progressive values, big government, corporatist) is in conflict with “the left” (progressive, big government, populist) while the Republican Party establishment (traditional values, big government, corporatist) is at tension with the Tea Party movement (traditional, big government, populist), with libertarians (traditional or progressive, small government, populist) further confusing the situation.

  11. Jim

    Yves thoughts on populism as a derogatory label “that is one of the new ways to discredit those who question the divine right of the banking class to take as much of the economci pie as they possibly can…” may be getting at a more accurate description of the structure of power in the

    I’m partial to the view that the U.S. should be classified more as a managerial democracy. And at the managerial level there is an emerging elite consisting largely of a post-industrial professional class (with attitudes running from traditional right to left) that has responsibility for administration in both the public and private sectors.

    The power of this elite is no longer based so much on property as it is on knowledge (i.e. cultural capital) which has become increasingly important in the shift from manufacturing to a more symbolic service economy (ie. what made lots of money in the private sector is financial services and their derivative products (CDOs) created by intellectuals working in JP Morgans derivative department in the mid-1990s).

    This group tends to use its cultural capital to secure a privileged position for itself while simultaneously arguing on a policy level for a greater centralization of its own political power through an expansion of the institutional reach of the public and private entities which it increasingly controls (i.e in the public sector think expanding public rule of Fed and the U.S. Treasury again, run by intellectuals).

    The emerging politcal conflict is between these administrators and the rest of us. They label as populist any groupings which they don’t yet control or are worried might get out of their control. Keeping the battle betweeen Democrats and Republicans or left and right helps to obscure this deeper conflict.

  12. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

    The United States is a one party state in which the choice is between the “liberal” and “conservative” flavors of CAPITALISM. That’s it! What version of MARKET TOTALITARIANISM do you want?

    All the NYT is doing is “rehabilitating” the word “liberal” so as to mollify the electorate into thinking that this variant of capitalism will work for them. “Reform” [liberal] will fix what has gone awry and the city of light up on the hill will once again beckon to the downtrodden masses yearning to be free. Yet the results will be much the same. The masses will remain downtrodden – even more atomized and dispirited – and still yearn to be debt-free as their AUSTERITY and DELEVERAGING ensure that the looting continues unabated, if seemingly a bit less rapacious.

    God’s work will ensure that the citizen masses repent for their wayward ways and past profligacy, tightening their belts for the good of the country and doing with less. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country. [JFK was a ‘liberal” after all].

    Recalling Phil Ochs’ “Love me, Love me I’m a Liberal” [lyrics below] should serve as a reminder of just what’s in store…

    I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
    Tears ran down my spine
    I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
    As though I’d lost a father of mine
    But Malcolm X got what was coming
    He got what he asked for this time
    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

    I go to civil rights rallies
    And I put down the old D.A.R.
    I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
    I hope every colored boy becomes a star
    But don’t talk about revolution
    That’s going a little bit too far
    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

    I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
    My faith in the system restored
    I’m glad the commies were thrown out
    of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
    I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
    as long as they don’t move next door
    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

    The people of old Mississippi
    Should all hang their heads in shame
    I can’t understand how their minds work
    What’s the matter don’t they watch Les Crain?
    But if you ask me to bus my children
    I hope the cops take down your name
    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

    I read New republic and Nation
    I’ve learned to take every view
    You know, I’ve memorized Lerner and Golden
    I feel like I’m almost a Jew
    But when it comes to times like Korea
    There’s no one more red, white and blue
    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

    I vote for the democratic party
    They want the U.N. to be strong
    I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
    He sure gets me singing those songs
    I’ll send all the money you ask for
    But don’t ask me to come on along
    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

    Once I was young and impulsive
    I wore every conceivable pin
    Even went to the socialist meetings
    Learned all the old union hymns
    But I’ve grown older and wiser
    And that’s why I’m turning you in
    So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

    As Yves so eloquently put it in ECONNED : Le plus ca change, le plus c’est la meme chose.

  13. steelhead23

    I note two things from this post. When we focus on labels for our views we tend to divide more than unite, and one’s views of reality, including the meaning of polls, tend to be strongly influenced by one’s cognitive frame. If you are unfamiliar with this term, I suggest you read a little of George Lakoff’s work. I meekly suggest that those interested in affecting change in our society, including bloggers, studiously avoid labeling themselves or others and instead focus on intersts. For example, most readers of this blog would agree that a safe and sound system of exchange is desirable. You may not agree with my view that all federally insured deposits be held in not-for-profit institutions (eegads, socialized banking!) to reduce the tendency for game-playing with risks borne by the public – but would likely agree that the public should not be on the hook for the risks others take, particularly when the reward for that risk-taking would accrue to private individuals and corporations. Nor should the fact that I am a socialist color your view of my interest in law enforcement as a prelude to real reform. (Nothing is more likely to stem the flow of “creative juices” to feed one’s greed than the sight of one’s cohorts in the dock.) Yet, once a position or an individual becomes labeled, rational discussion deginerates into name calling or association with assumed positions one doesn’t have. For example, my socialism is focused on polital-economy issues like banking and campaign financing, yet, by labeling myself as a socialist I am suddenly viewed as being in favor of welfare-state policies and free-riders, or worse. So, except for shock value, I try not to lable myself and object when others label me – too much baggage. In short, it is impolite and anti-rational to label a proposed piece of legislation as “liberal”. I thought the NYT was better than that. Perhaps the erudite Smith girl, Maureen Dowd, could give Mr. Sulzberger a lecture on journalistic manners.

  14. Hugh

    You have to disentangle all the narratives. The NYT, as exemplified by Bill Keller, Andrew Rosenthal, and Pinch Sulzberger, is a corporatist neocon media outlet. It is the Establishment’s establishment.

    You have to pass left/right labels through a filter. What is called the right is actually the far, far right. Centrists are far right. Liberals are center and center right. Progressives are what liberals once were. To find a far left in this country you would probably have to go to the anarchists and their numbers are vanishingly small.

    You have to distinguish between voters and parties. On the issues, Democratic voters and independents are generally considerably further to the left of the Democratic politicians they elect. At the same time, these same voters self-identify usually further to the right than their actual stands on the issues.

    Media, including PBS and NPR, tend to be right to far, far right. Public liberal groupings, like Moveon, HCAN, NARAL, OFA, most unions, etc. have been derisively called the veal pen because of their kneejerk support of Democratic party, hence conservative positions.

    Over all of these we have the power and domination of the corporations. What we are seeing on FinReg is a series of pseudo-fights between Democrats and Republicans, between “centrist” and “liberal” Democrats, between the White House and Congress. The bottomline is that no real financial reform is likely to pass. Instead we are getting kabuki and the tactic of rotating villains. The Democrats don’t really want reform. So even as with auditing of the Fed where a veto proof majority of Senators of both parties is on record favoring it enough will play villains to see that it is killed. You see “liberal” Senators are only for reform if it is insignificant or can’t pass.

Comments are closed.