Quelle Surprise! Senate Republicans Block Confirmation of Richard Cordray as Head of CFPB

Today’s turndown by Senate Republicans of Obama nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, was so clearly telegraphed in advance as to make the vote a non-event. The Republicans has said they would not approve anyone, even a Republican, for the position, unless they put into place measures to increase “transparency and accountability.” That is NewSpeak for “gives us control over its budget so we can make it incompetent, weak, and bank-fearing just like the SEC.”

So why are we harping on this set piece? It’s just a reminder of how Elizabeth Warren has allowed herself to be played. The best thing for Warren’s stature would have been for the Administration to play the game out and force the Republicans to nix her. It would have kept the issues of the fallen standing of the middle class and bank bad conduct towards consumers in the press spotlight (in an indirect acknowledgment, Scott Brown, who is opposite Warren in the Mass. Senate race, was the only Republican to vote for Cordray, no doubt not wanting to give her grounds for accusing him of being anti-consumer).

Needless to say, given that Obama needs to raise $1 billion for the 2012 presidential campaign and banks are one of the biggest donor groups, all that was every in the offing was the occasional wet noodle lashing of bank bad behavior.

Having Warren run for the Scott Brown seat was both a way to get her off stage and to divert Republican dollars from other races into fighting her. It was an exceedingly clever move by Obama. Warren has talked herself into believing that she can be an unconventional Senator and make a difference, but the contemporary Senate, where members are far more dependent on party resources and funding than of yore, does not lend itself to that model. Readers have said that losing to Scott Brown may have been the best thing that ever happened to Martha Coakley. The converse may prove true for Warren: that if she wins, it is not her best outcome.

[And yes, dear readers, we have two quelle surprises in a day. Must be the approaching eclipse…]

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  1. Fraud Guy


    It’s like they’re so devoid of their own ideas that they take the most absurd parodies, like believing six impossible things before breakfast, and say to themselves “that sounds logical”.

    I mean, I’m thinking of every whacked out off the top of your head concept that’s ever been thrown into a science fiction, fantasy, social commentary, comedy, satire, or farce, and decided to make themselves into a parody of it. Even Colbert’s running out of new ideas to go over their top.

    I have to laugh at anyone who parrots their talking points nowadays, otherwise I start crying.

  2. Middle Seaman

    Before her run for the senate, Warren didn’t have a lot of room to maneuver. As inept and as clueless as Obama’s administration is, they are quite ruthless and vengeful. Warren’s Leaving was a smart move.

    As for Warren’s run for the senate, it is probably a personal need to try to stick it to Obama and his supporting Democrats. Once a senator, she can grab headliners much better than as a lone crusader.

    1. alex

      “As inept and as clueless as Obama’s administration is, they are quite ruthless and vengeful.”

      They’re anything but inept and clueless. As you point out, they’re ruthless and vengeful, but only about things that matter to them. That’s got nothing to do with what’s good for 99% of Americans. The “inept and clueless” shtick is just cover for “we don’t give a flying f*** about most Americans”.

      Personally I _like_ ruthlessness in people who are fighting for my interests. LBJ got his Great Society legislation passed by twisting arms until they almost broke (and I don’t think he was real fussy about the “almost”). FDR was not much gentler. That’s how things get done.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        Alex, I would like to draw your attention to a change in policy that helps the 99% that occurred during the Obama administration. It signals, among many signals, an absolute change in direction from turning America into a garrison state.

        By law, the Federal Government has regulated the profit margins of insurance companies by forcing them spend 80-85% of premiums on health care. That leaves a 15-20% profit margin for the private health insurance industry to live, providing they do not go into financial speculation of Eurobonds with the opportunity provided by the exit of MF Global.


        If they have more money left over in excess of these limits, they must refund it to their customers. This treating the private health insurance industry as a utility with the federal government regulating most aspects of their business, including services that must be offered, terms, such as the elimination of pre-existing condition denial of coverage, extending coverage for children up until the age of 26 if in school, and the state by state implementation of insurance policy supermarkets from which to shop and compare rates and services, among many other reforms, is a radical break with the purely hands off approach of the previous 45 or so years.

        1. alex

          It’s an improvement, but hardly a “radical break”. And in return our for-profit health insurance companies get an enormous pool of guaranteed customers. Notice the the health insurance industry didn’t fight too hard against Obamacare? The pot was sweetened for them. Same for big pharma. Obama’s rip-off of the Republican version of universal health care might even be better than nothing for the 99%. Here’s hoping.

          As for ruthless, Obama practically threatened to throw Vermont out of the Union when it proposed implementing a state run universal insurance system instead of cutting for-profits in for a piece of the action.

          Yes, Obama and the Party Formerly Known as the Democrats throw better crumbs to the peasants that the Elephant People, but it’s still an utterly corrupt system, with mandatory bribery (oops, campaign contributions), and run primarily for the benefit of the 1%.

          The Democrats are just a little smarter than the Republicans about preventing peasant revolts. Apologies if I’m still unimpressed with their idea of “representative” government.

        2. Fiver

          A “radical departure”? Hardly. Those worst off still don’t even get help until 2014. Costs will NOT be contained, just passed on. Compared to other jurisdictions, which exert much greater cost control via government-provided universal insurance, it’s a remarkably bad deal. Once it’s realized that the cost of insurance and of health care overall keep going up at the same rate as now, rather than coming down by up to 40% to match levels elsewhere, it will be subject to a vicious counter-attack, certain to be reversed if Reps regain control. It was VITAL that it be demonstrably more efficient in these woefully anti-social times. Sometimes half-measures are worse than no measure at all.

          1. Paul Tioxon

            It is a radical departure, but for the completely different issue you inserted, cost control. The policy issue is quite clear on being a distinct path being taken: the regulation of an entire industry’s profit margin. Statutory terms of policy, standardized across the entire industry. This is government intervention into what the Chamber of Commerce likes to call the rights of management to run their operations as they see fit. This is a radical departure. You can bring up different issues, of great magnitude such as medical costs going up faster than inflation, but insurance costs while matching increased service cost for seeing the doctor will not go to insurance company profits exceeding the statutory profit margins.

            Someone please tell me, not since the days of state utility commissions did we see government tell business by law, not temporary war emergency powers of WWII price controls, what entire industry is allowed to make before taxes? The Neo-liberal doctrine of deregulation has taken a mortal blow with the health insurance industry under tighter controls than ever before.

            Then there is the nationalization of Student Loans, and the National Labor Relations Board telling Boeing management that its multi billion dollar plant for 787s is illegal and the union must not be coerced into working there, from across the continent in a right to work union busting southern state. The neo-liberal doctrine is not simply being intellectually challenged but is being rolled back in multiple areas by policy decision originating with the Obama administration and the support of Democratic Sen and Cong. Oh yea, Happy Christmas, War is Over. Welcome home from Iraq to all of the service men and women.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > “we don’t give a flying f*** about most Americans”.

        Well, the alternative explanation is that they actively hate most Americans, want them to die, and are managing life expectancy to achieve their ends.

        Most days I lean to toward the alternative, actually.

        1. LucyLulu

          Ah c’mon Lambert, don’t you think you’re being just a tad dramatic?

          You know Obama has plenty of advisors and has the benefit of what we landed, genteel, Southern landowners ;) have known for centuries now about workforce management. You take a big hit to your bottom line if you let slave losses, um, I mean, job creation, get too high.

          1. lambert strether

            Well, life expectancy in the former Soviet Union dropped like a stone after the oligarchs took over, so why shouldn’t the same thing happen in the other continental, imperial, resource extraction-driven sclerotic national security state? Just saying…

          2. LucyLulu

            The Soviets are well known for getting low outputs out of high levels of resources. Did Yves just had an article about that different nations, their natural resources, and relation to output and economy, or did I read it elsewhere? In any case, we in America have a history of being smarter with and using our resources more efficiently.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Where’s Warren on accounting control fraud? Coakeley just opened the door for that, so what’s Warren’s take?

      Nobody should take Warren, or indeed any legacy party candidate, seriously, unless they’re explicitly for criminal prosecutions of C-level executives who broke the law.

      What part of “third world-style elite impunity” do these clowns not understand?

      1. LucyLulu

        I respectfully disagree. IMHO, Warren isn’t the prosecutorial type of advocate. She’s more oriented towards the consumer side of the equation, empowering them, educating them and providing them with better choices and built-in protections. She is focused more on preventing the problems going forward then punishing past abuses. That doesn’t make her bad. She deserves credit for having great analytical skills and insights into complicated problems and being a hard-working ground-level fighter who has achieved results despite the odds being stacked against her.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think the banksters should all be tried and appropriately punished and its unconscionable that its not happening. I’m only saying that nobody will ever meet ALL of our criteria and she can still serve a vital function while leaving others to carry the pitchforks. That role rightfully belongs to the state and federally attorney generals and without massive pressure, I don’t foresee any federal intervention. One U.S. senator (and have you heard any cries from other Congress members) is unlikely to make a difference. Hopefully, the OWS movement can gain enough public support to supply the political impetus needed to restore justice.

        Like Yves, I’m skeptical that the Senate is the best spot for her to gain traction for her brand of consumer advocacy work. She would have been perfect as director of the CFPB. But alas, that isn’t an option, and now the Senate is what she wants to do. She’s certainly an improvement over the turds we have now. And with Elizabeth Warren, who knows, we all might be pleasantly surprised.

  3. santcugat

    By this argument, no one should ever run for senator. I think if Elizabeth Warren wins her first election and does a relatively good job, this is pretty much a safe seat for her, so the incentive for her to have to compromise in order to get party resources is low.

    I doubt very much that she could have made much of a difference in the Obama administration, given the pre-existing power structure.

    As a senator, she actually has quite a lot of power (especially if the senate gets close to 50/50), doesn’t necessarily need to answer to anyone, and can’t get fired if she pisses off the wrong people.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      She is going to be 63, and has said she intends to make trouble and not spend all the time that Senators spend on getting reelected (about half their time). So your assumption is not correct.

      And Senators operate within the framework of the Senate. If she wants to get any legislation through, she has to kiss all the frogs in her party. Hillary, who had an even higher profile than Warren does, got coffee for all the men to show what a good doobie she was. And the Republicans have made it clear they hate Warren’s guts.

      1. alex

        “She is going to be 63”

        Amongst senators that makes her a spring chicken.

        “has said she intends to make trouble”

        That could be useful. No matter how effective she could be as a “work within the system to get things done” type, I don’t think she could change much right now. And given her lack of legislative experience, I doubt she’d be that effective in such a role anyway.

        Maybe making trouble is the best she can do. Like OWS, at least bring attention to the issues. Force people to talk about them.

        “and not spend all the time that Senators spend on getting reelected”

        If she’s popular enough, she may get re-elected anyway. How did Bernie Sanders, with his meager resources as an independent, come to be the permanent representative/senator and patron saint of Vermont? People love him. I was there once during election season and it was hard to find a lawn that didn’t have a Bernie sign on it. I wouldn’t bet the the farm on this approach, but it’s at least worth a try.

        “Hillary, who had an even higher profile than Warren does, got coffee for all the men to show what a good doobie she was.”

        Hope she put Ex-Lax in it. I’m offended, and I’m a man who’s anything but a table thumping feminist.

        “And the Republicans have made it clear they hate Warren’s guts.”

        Good. Anybody the Republicans didn’t hate would be a poor candidate.

      2. Liah

        I completely agree with your analysis, Yves. It rather breaks my heart that Warren has taken on this lively, striking guy with all the good will around him. I would rather have had Mr. Kerry suggest her as a replacement for himself, as himself has had a long, ahem, run of it.

        Would have given him back some good will into the bargain.

    2. 2R

      It doesn’t follow that no one should ever run for senator. But as it is, it’s idiotic to drown an effective reformer in that cesspool. They would be more effective in a parallel government. That’s how far gone this kleptocracy is. No more playing with our legislative Barbies, we’re grown up now.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        What is a parallel government? Is that where libertarian insurance companies send commando assassins to stop coercive real governments?

        How does one run for a parallel office, and where can I register to parallel vote? Is there any parallel voter suppression or parallel organized political opposition?

        Parallel minds want to know!

        1. Peter T


          Yes, if Warren gets elected, she can help to move things that seemed immovable. Working in an Obama administration bent on curtailing her influence would not be better for us. It would have made me happy, of course, if she had angered Geithner so much that he would resign; he’s such a disgrace. But look which successor Obama chose for his chief of staff.

  4. MichaelC


    Pls Watch this video (pbs newshour)


    That Warren’s ill fated (in your view) senate race is quelle surprise is small beer. She counts on Cordray to fight the good fight. I think with good reason.

    The Quelle suprise (horror) is that this (KBH)
    fool’s argument resonates with the electorate.

    Why do you have such a hard-on against Warren?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      She thinks she is smart enough to use the Dems when they are using her very successfully. And as Tom Ferguson has described at length, both parties exercise far more control over their Congresscritters than in the past due to much greater centralization of funding. She may be making the mistake of looking to historical models for maverick Senators (and trust me, there aren’t that many that had any real impact to begin with) when the game has changed radically.

      She claims to be motivated to help the standing of middle class families. She got at TON accomplished on that front outside any formal political apparatus. She was enormously effective BEFORE she got entangled in the Washington DC tar baby. Has she accomplished ANYTHING since then? She would have gotten more done in the last sixteen months working on a new book, going on TV, or finding other ways to pressure the system.

      If she just wanted to have a nice life and do something interesting, I wouldn’t have these complaints. But she says she wants to effect change. This is far from the best strategy open to her for doing that (and yes, we’ve offered other options in previous posts).

      1. Skippy

        Yes, once you join the Roman Orgy… penetration is a requirement.

        Skippy… a hard (sorry inadvertent pun) pedestal (cough penis) to opine from.

        1. ambrit

          Dear skippy;
          Good heavens sir! Are you suggesting that the denizens of ‘Foggy Botton,’ (sorry for that incontinent choice of words,) are devotes of the vice of Pedestalerasty?
          Where’s our Marcus Aurealeus now that we need him?

      2. Linden

        I must disagree, at least in part. Warren got more done in Washington than anyone, including Obama, probably expected (or wanted). The CFPB actually exists, and is staffed up and running. I know some of the people who work there, and they are long-time, fire-breathing consumer advocates who have been waiting for this opportunity, and who are already exercising the agency’s powers to the fullest. Warren didn’t just swan around in Washington waiting to be chosen. She moved quickly to set up an agency that could continue to work on important issues after she was no longer there.

        While the agency does not have a leader it’s not going to be allowed the full range of powers it was granted by law, but Cordray didn’t seem like much of an activist to me and he probably wouldn’t have allowed his staff to use those powers anyway. CFPB will get more useful things done without a leader than it would have with one.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          In case you missed it, the OCC is busy end running it, witness the servicer consent decrees.

          1. Linden

            And in case you missed it, that’s not the only area in which CFPB is regulating. Yes, overall CFPB’s effectiveness will be limited in the current political climate. That’s not due to anything Warren did – quite the opposite. Unless you consider inaction in the face of large odds to be more virtuous than action?

  5. MichaelC

    PS :
    As flawed as E Warren may be:

    I’ll take her as a counter to the horrically flawed (and powreerully infuential) horror that Kay B Hutchinbson reprsents) any day.

    1. LucyLulu

      Good interview. Reminiscent of Colbert last night on the GOP’s take on deregulation. “We don’t believe in regulation……. but before confirming Cordray insist you impose more regulations.” Why is it that the conservatives can never see the paradoxes in their arguments? Surely liberals don’t make similar illogical arguments. Do they?

      1. ambrit

        Dear Lucy;
        Yes, we do. However, in our defence, it must be noted that we generally try for a ‘Big Tent’ while the Forces of Evil opt for Procrustes’ Bed.

  6. TK421

    I thought that once the CFPB was formed, the president could install anyone he wanted as its head without going to Congress, so there was no stopping Obama from putting Warren in charge. If he wanted to, that is.

  7. Lyle

    But all the CFPB really needs to do is run adds comparing anyone in financial services to the sterotypical used car salesperson. Tell folks no one in financial services is to be trusted at all. In particular if you do not pay directly for the service rendered, you should distrust because the other guy is not working in your interest. Tell folks to read everything in detail, and if need be bring in a lawyer. Given the number of unemployed lawyers this would seem a good business at say $100 for a real estate closing, to show up read the docs, make sure the person doing the buying understands what is going on etc.

    1. alex

      “and if need be bring in a lawyer”

      For what, getting a credit card? That was Warren’s point, that even as a Harvard professor of contract law she couldn’t understand some credit card agreements.

      The right approach is to limit, regulate and standardize such agreements. If you play lawyer-vs-lawyer the consumer will _always_ loose, as financial companies can afford a lot more lawyers than you can. Even hiring Clarence Darrow at minimum wage wouldn’t let you beat that system.

      The house example you mention is a bit of an exception, as it’s one of the few consumer transactions to justify a lawyer. Here in NYS it’s standard practice to get a lawyer for a house closing. But even there you need protection via regulation. A few hours from your lawyer is only enough to do basic checks. Finance companies with their armies of lawyers could always beat him.

    2. LucyLulu

      You don’t find a lawyer for $100 for a real estate estate closing. Legal fees are a minimum of $300-$400 for a bare-bones closing, in low-priced legal markets. And in the closings I’ve been involved in, all with attorneys, I don’t ever recall my attorney explained the documents I was signing in any type of meaningful way, perhaps a one phrase comment per page, e.g. “city easement for utilities”. There are too many legal-sized pages with little-bitty print. You’d be there all day and the fees would increase accordingly.

      And have you ever read these papers? Do you think the average person with a high school diploma can understand the language? Most with college degrees can’t understand the legalese. If you surveyed homeowners, I’d be very surprised if 10% could explain the terms of their mortgage note and security contract.

      1. Lyle

        The guild of lawyers at work for the closing. For one hours work $400 is outrageous. That is why I suggested unemployed lawyers of which it appears there are a lot today. If you are paying $400 and don’t insist on an explanation you are not getting your moneys worth.
        For Credit card agreements get Consumers Union or the like to publish explanations. If rating cars is part of their business rating credit cards is likewise part of it.

        One reg could be to require the papers to be furnished a few days early so that one can take them to an advisor. Note that the boiler plate for most mortgages (the note and deed of trust or equivalent) is actually on line on either fannie or freddies web site. (If the mortgage company wants to sell to F&F then they must use the form).

        1. LucyLulu

          Actually, I believe the papers HAVE been available ahead of time to peruse. Most people don’t read them and you’re right, they are boilerplate documents from Fannie and Freddie. If you want to make changes, I’d be skeptical that is even an option, certainly no meaningful changes to the rights of the lender. Because they are boilerplate and all lenders use the same documents, you accept the documents as they are if you want a loan. Period. The only thing that is negotiable is the interest rate, and the amount and term of the loan, which should have been negotiated at time of application.

  8. Peripheral Visionary

    I am having a very hard time warming up to the argument that the CFPB should not be directly accountable to Congress, who for better or for worse are the representatives of the people.

    The whole notion that government (or quasi-government) entities would be better run if they were insulated from the political process is what brought us the “independent” Federal Reserve, and the “independent” European Central Bank. And how well has all of that turned out? In reality, if an agency is not accountable to the representatives of the people, they will find someone else to be accountable to, to the detriment of the people.

    If the problem is Congress, than fix the problem, don’t try to work around it with mazes of bureaucracies and unelected officials whose accountability is to the system rather than to the people.

    One final point: I continue to maintain that it was an very poor move to set up a government agency with the clear intent of having a specific person be the head of it (which can clearly be seen in the fact that it was set up to have only one director, as opposed to other regulators that have a bipartisan board of commissioners). No matter how well-intended, it stinks of patronage and influence peddling, and is unbecoming of a representative government.

    1. LucyLulu

      I don’t understand the surprise. The CFPB is not the only regulatory agency with a single director. Offhand, the OCC, OTS, FDIC, FHFA, and EPA are all led by a single individual. This is far from unprecedented, or even unusual among banking and lending regulators. The savings and loan crisis prosecutions were headed by agencies that had directors, and investigated in good part by the FBI, also headed by a director.

      You’re concerned about the ability for the Fed to be objective, I get that. I have concerns myself. Congress would be concerned if Obama had supervisory authority. Congress has certainly shown no interest in the supervision of the financial industry or consumer advocacy. Who do we choose? No matter which is chosen, many will be unhappy.

      In the final analysis however, Congress passed Frank-Dodd with the CFPB set up the way it presently exists. If Congress had a problem, it had the opportunity to introduce amendments. It still has the option to introduce and pass amendments to change the structure. Meanwhile, it IS an end run around democracy to refuse to approve a nomination solely to hamstring the effectiveness of an agency that is now the unwanted stepchild from a former marriage. Next, they will try to defund the agency, they are already discussing it. No, it is not in any regulators’ best interest to be supervised by the entity most intent on destroying it.

      1. Fiver

        Would’ve been useful to hold onto the House rather than throw away everything at the start by not decisively taking on Wall Street and the economy first and foremost (with overwhelming popular support) rather than quite deliberately re-booting WS and the Republicans, while completely blowing the opportunity for a truly imaginative and effective stimulus plan, only to ensure Congress got totally lost in a train wreck of a health care “plan”.

  9. d cortex

    Hasn’t the CFPB been located within in the Fed Reserve by revision to Dodd Frank?
    Doesn’t this marginalize the agency?

  10. BondsOfSteel

    Actually…. a Senator Warren could make a difference. Taking a page out of the GOP playbook, it only takes one senator to shut down the goverment, force the country into default, or stop any new judges from being appointed.

    Imagine if that power was used for good!

    1. Darren Kenworthy

      Do Warren’s allies control cultural and political discourse? Do they dictate the conditions of political possibility and the boundaries of dissent? Most successful “rogues” have powerful establishment allies.

      1. Peter T

        You are right, the lone senator who shuts down the goverment etc. needs Big Money behind him to prevent from being simply overruled by the sixty plus senators who are in the pockets of the corporations. Otherwise, Bernie Sanders would be a powerful person in Washington (and our life would be better – I never thought only four years ago that I would say that about a self-declared socialist). In the worst case, Warren can be Sanders II, but in a better case she might bring movement into the primaries against those Democratic senators who overrule her to favor corporations. I don’t share Yves’ pessimism of Warren’s future role if she gets elected: there are already plenty of good people working outside of DC (Yves e.g.), and at some point it becomes important to translate that work into votes.

        1. Darren Kenworthy

          What I have read in Yves’ comments to date is frustration; a protected pawn in the center pushed into an exposed position while the opponent has a queen, two rooks and two bishops still in play, as if there were a chance to convert to a second queen.

        2. Lyle

          Warren by saying she wants only one term, can obstruct as much as she wishes since she does not need to raise money for her re-election campaign. It is the desire to be re-elected that creates the demand for money. Perhaps the part of the contract with America that was immediately dropped needs to be brought back, term limits, something like 12 years in the House, 18 in the Senate and 18 total.

  11. Lafayette

    Among the Senate seats up for election in 2012, there are 21 Democrats, 10 Republicans and 2 Independents. Including Scott Brown’s seat.

    Remember, there this idiotic notion in the Senate called the Super Majority, needed to cut off a filibuster – which, if carried to term of a Senate session, can kill legislation.

    This was how the Replicants were able to kill the Public Health Care option, by threatening to filibuster the entire Obamacare package to death. And why Obama had to cave on the Public Option.

    Any gains in the Senate will make that outcome impossible in another round of Health Care legislation, one that perhaps puts up a Public Option.

    The problem will nonetheless be the Republican control of the HofR.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I won’t relitigate how career “progressives” ran interference for Obama with the so-called public option bait and switch, and silenced and suppressed single payer advocates….

      But I will point out that if the Democrats were serious about actually passing legislation, they would have used the nuclear option to abolish the filibuster in 2009 when they had the power to.

      They didn’t, so that makes every single policy debate after that — every single one — pure kabuki.

      “The problem” isn’t R or D control of the HoR; the problem is that the Rs and the Ds are different brands with the same owners. The legacy parties form a single system, and that’s the problem.

      1. alex

        “if the Democrats were serious about actually passing legislation, they would have used the nuclear option to abolish the filibuster in 2009 when they had the power to”

        Exactly. But the Dems like the cover of the unconstitutional super-majority requirement.

      2. Lafayette

        “The problem” isn’t R or D control of the HoR; the problem is that the Rs and the Ds are different brands with the same owners. The legacy parties form a single system, and that’s the problem.

        Yes, yes, yes. But this is getting to be the Daily Rant and very borrrrinnnnggggg!

        The issue is, I submit, is What are we, the sheeple, going to do about. Enough of “It aint our fault!”. We elected these dorks, so we can un-elect them.

        This opportunity will not come around again for a long, long time to come. Let’s light one candle instead of cursing the darkness.

        What do we do NOW?

        1. lambert strether

          What do we do now? (1) Occupy is certainly something to do, if it fits your circumstances. In addition, (2) detach from the rentiers as much as I can (move your money, no cable, etc), and (3) have a personal hedging strategy of gardening and local resilience in case of collapse.

        2. lambert strether

          Adding, I don’t how a response of “It’s b-o-r-i-n-g!” shores up your initial position that “the problem” is one party when the problem is so clearly both. Care to elucidate the reasons for your shift in position?

  12. Fiver

    Yves is correct in one sense, and that is that it’s much easier to be outside the “Club” if you want to be truly a tough critic. It’s what has been missing on the “left” for decades, but what the “right” knows inside out with their capture of media and think tanks, etc., to provide a constant barrage of truly extreme right wing views, both pulling the whole discussion right, but also de-sensitizing the public as to how truly crazy some of their positions are, which is how you end up with equally crazy Dems adopting positions 1 micro to the “left” of Reps and proudly proclaiming their difference.

    The “left” needs to adopt a much, much tougher, though simpler language to pound away 24/7 at these supreme twits in ways everyone can readily see and comprehend. And keep pounding irrespective of the electoral cycle, or requests to “moderate” from the already terminally sold out Dems or “progressive” or “liberals” who actually have no intention of changing anything important.

    1. Lafayette


      Yves is correct in one sense, and that is that it’s much easier to be outside the “Club” if you want to be truly a tough critic.

      JFK wrote a book about it, called “Profiles in Courage”.

      An excerpt from WikiP (here):

      Profiles in Courage is a 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight United States Senators throughout the Senate’s history. The book profiles senators who crossed party lines and/or defied the public opinion of their constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism and losses in popularity because of their actions. The book was widely celebrated and became a best seller. John F. Kennedy is credited as its author, but there are credible allegations that most of it was the work of his speechwriter, Theodore Sorensen.

      The only factor that has changed is the influence of Money In Politics.

      That’s just one factor in a long list of Progressive Reforms that could alter America by changing its “system” of political governance.

    2. lambert strether

      The left blogosphere tried the “simpler language” tactic starting in at least 2003; that was one of the reasons for the left blogosphere; we actually felt that the Democrats needed help in framing their positions, if you can imagine the naivete. This strategy began to fall apart with the D victories in 2006, when the left blogosphere split into A listers and the rest, and collapsed definitively in 2008, when the A listers became access bloggers — with differences in nuance, to be sure — and thus in essence retail purveyors of talking points crafted in D talking point shops. The nice thing about an old school blogger like Yves is that she crafts her own talking points instead of waiting for a blast fax from either Rove or Axelrod.

      So I don’t think we’re facing a wordsmithing problem here, though purifying the discourse of bullsh*t is necessary, it’s not sufficient, since the well-funded operatives of the 1% can create bullsh*t faster than we can shovel it.

      What’s interesting about Occupy is the process. I think that trumps word smithing as a strategy for, er, real hope and real change….

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