Whither AOC?

Yves here. Tom Neuburger gives a hard look at AOC’s recent donations to corporate Democrats and tries to ferret out what she intended to accomplish.

Tom is at a loss to understand why AOC chose the party members she did. I am at a loss to understand why she thought $5,000 donations would have made any difference to the recipients even if they had been on board with taking funds from her. As I am sure readers know, there’s a dark art as to how heavyweight bundlers and donors work around formal contribution limits.

And on top of that, Congressional Democrats run a pay-to-play operation. Kicking in enough money to the DCCC is the cost of entry for getting House committee leadership positions. We explained this back in 2011, via the work of Tom Ferguson, in Congress is a “Coin Operated Stalemate Machine.” I strongly urge you to read the entire post. Key section:

A new article by Ferguson in the Washington Spectator sheds more light on this corrupt and defective system. Partisanship and deadlocks are a direct result of the increased power of a centralized funding apparatus. It’s easy to raise money for grandstanding on issues that appeal to well-heeled special interests, so dysfunctional behavior is reinforced.

Let’s first look at how crassly explicit the pricing is. Ferguson cites the work of Marian Currander on how it works for the Democrats in the House of Representatives:

Under the new rules for the 2008 election cycle, the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] asked rank-and-file members to contribute $125,000 in dues and to raise an additional $75,000 for the party. Subcommittee chairpersons must contribute $150,000 in dues and raise an additional $100,000. Members who sit on the most powerful committees … must contribute $200,000 and raise an additional $250,000. Subcommittee chairs on power committees and committee chairs of non-power committees must contribute $250,000 and raise $250,000. The five chairs of the power committees must contribute $500,000 and raise an additional $1 million. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James Clyburn, and Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel must contribute $800,000 and raise $2.5 million. The four Democrats who serve as part of the extended leadership must contribute $450,000 and raise $500,000, and the nine Chief Deputy Whips must contribute $300,000 and raise $500,000. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must contribute a staggering $800,000 and raise an additional $25 million.

Ferguson teases out the implications:

Uniquely among legislatures in the developed world, our Congressional parties now post prices for key slots on committees. You want it — you buy it, runs the challenge. They even sell on the installment plan: You want to chair an important committee? That’ll be $200,000 down and the same amount later, through fundraising…..

The whole adds up to something far more sinister than the parts. Big interest groups (think finance or oil or utilities or health care) can control the membership of the committees that write the legislation that regulates them. Outside investors and interest groups also become decisive in resolving leadership struggles within the parties in Congress. You want your man or woman in the leadership? Just send money. Lots of it….

The Congressional party leadership controls the swelling coffers of the national campaign committees, and the huge fixed investments in polling, research, and media capabilities that these committees maintain — resources the leaders use to bribe, cajole, or threaten candidates to toe the party line… Candidates rely on the national campaign committees not only for money, but for message, consultants, and polling they need to be competitive but can rarely afford on their own..

This concentration of power also allows party leaders to shift tactics to serve their own ends….They push hot-button legislative issues that have no chance of passage, just to win plaudits and money from donor blocs and special-interest supporters. When they are in the minority, they obstruct legislation, playing to the gallery and hoping to make an impression in the media…

The system …ensures that national party campaigns rest heavily on slogan-filled, fabulously expensive lowest-common-denominator appeals to collections of affluent special interests. The Congress of our New Gilded Age is far from the best Congress money can buy; it may well be the worst. It is a coin-operated stalemate machine that is now so dysfunctional that it threatens the good name of representative democracy itself.

If that isn’t sobering enough, a discussion after the Ferguson article describes the mind-numbing amount of money raised by the members of the deficit-cutting super committee. In addition, immediately after being named to the committee, several members launched fundraising efforts that were unabashed bribe-seeking. But since the elites in this country keep themselves considerable removed from ordinary people, and what used to be considered corruption in their cohort is now business as usual, nary an ugly word is said about these destructive practices.

So as much as AOC has seemed disappointing of late, the overwhelming majority of voters have no clue as to what she is up against.

By Thomas Neubuger. Originally published at God’s Spies

Many want more than a week’s salvation from Republican misrule. They want salvation for the rest of their lives from Democratic misrule as well.

One of the defining marks of the current divide among Democratic Party supporters is what to expect from Party elected officials.

The “practicalists” (I’ll explain that term in a moment) celebrate the transition from Trump and Republican destruction, see optimistic promise in Biden’s tentative populism, and experience an almost existential relief at their deliverance. This group is dancing in the streets.

Don’t take the latter effect lightly: A great many people felt traumatized to their bones by Trump and his era, and whether or not that feeling was shared by you and your own friends, it’s nonetheless real for others and it informs their reaction to everything that has followed. I suspect the practicalists — those starved for delivery from Republican rule — form the majority of the Party electorate.

The “idealists” (so called by the so-called practicalists) feel relief at release from the Trumpian grip, but not so much that they can calm their fear of the next neoliberal president, however kinder and gentler (even than the last one) he may prove to be.

The “practicalists,” of course, are of a first-thing-first frame of mind, or so they see themselves. “First, we get rid of Republicans,” they say. “Then we secure the gate from renewed assault.” And only after that do they look at the rubble of the world and start to rebuild in earnest. For these good people, any rebuilding at all is reason for joy and celebration. And Biden is indeed rebuilding … sort of.

For “praticalists,” any inadequacy in the plan for moving forward is fully offset by the fact of motion itself. After years of retreat and decay, it’s easy to understand the present reversal’s appeal, even if small.

Theso-called “idealists,” on the other hand, see little to like in an energy plan that will not end the dominance of fossil fuel in the lifetime of anyone living; see nothing to cheer in the prospect of extended forever war, continued diplomatic assault against Syria and Iran, and the constant coddling of Israeli apartheid and torture of its Palestinian neighbors and citizens; and cannot bring themselves to relax as the nation settles into rule by a man whose campaign slogan was “Nothing will fundamentally change.”

The most important word in that slogan — “Nothing will fundamentally change” — is not the first or the last. It’s the word “fundamentally.”

Whatever Biden agrees to, whatever wonderful (or better-than-Trump) improvements he makes to our common condition, he nonetheless assures us that the people who own us today will own us tomorrow; that those who caused the problems we face now will not be pushed aside so others can fix them; and most importantly, that the men and women he serves, who feed first and mainly on money, will not go hungry.

These “idealists” want more than a week’s salvation from Republican misrule. They want salvation for all of the rest of their lives from Democratic misrule as well. In fact, they see themselves as the actual practicalists in the story, since it’s certainly practical to want your infant children to live adult lives in the least bad climate-battered world we can give them.

Our grandchildren won’t praise dead Democrats for saving them from dead Republicans; but they will certainly hate us all for turning half of surviving Americans into starving refugees, dying at the fences that protect the more-fortunate Canadians, and the other half into servants of the despotic rich, who will long since have abandoned anyone they don’t need to a lonely fate.

How do we know the despotic rich will do that tomorrow? Because they’re doing it today in far less drastic circumstances.

Why Did AOC Donate to the Campaigns of Corporate Democrats?

Which brings us to the growing battle over the direction being taken by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). Not the news that corporate Democrats are refusing or returning the campaign cash she gave them — the news about her giving her money to corporate Democrats in the first place.

The three Democrats named in the Politico piece linked above, those whose campaigns AOC tried to support, are Conor Lamb, a man who thinks the $15 minimum wage is too high, New Dem caucus member Carolyn Bourdeaux, and Elissa Slotkin, an ex-CIA security hawk who “rejects Medicare For All” in favor of improving the ACA and the never-going-to appear (and easily gamed if it does) “public option.” As Howie Klein put it, all are part of “the Republican wing of the Democratic Party” and all are members of the notoriously pro-corporate “Problem Solvers Caucus.”

Why on earth is Alexandria Occasio-Cortez, a genuine hero of the people, supporting — with money given personally to her — the pro-corporate Democrats her supporters roundly despise? The answer from her defenders, well-meaning but sometimes tetchy, is “So we can make sure that Democrats keep control of government…stupid! Because, you know, job one is Republicans.”

Thus the divide. On a scale of one to the-next-eight-years or so, how important is it that Democrats keep control of government? On that scale, very, of course.

But on a scale of one to your-surviving-grandchildren-living-like-feral-rats, how important is it that Conor Lamb keep his seat so he can vote with Republicans to his heart’s content? I’ll let you decide for yourself.

As to AOC her own self, where is she headed? She’s certainly seems to be moving in a practicalist direction. Though she started her official career leading a sit-in outside Nancy Pelosi’s office — an act her supporters loved her for — she’s now giving her donors’ money to the worst members of the Democratic caucus. And as the clip above shows, she’s dancing like Democrats do around Israeli genocide.

She’s obviously changed her stripes. But into what?

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  1. Alfred

    Radio Free Amanda 余美娜@catcontentonly
    Apr 7 Replying to @queeralamode and @AOC

    “This is the word salad you get when you try to perch yourself on the impossible knife’s edge of talking about Palestinian human rights and trying to not offend the Israeli lobby”

  2. PlutoniumKun

    I don’t know enough about AOC to make any definitive comment on this, but I do know that she has done enough to justify giving her some slack – she is young and inexperienced and is entitled to a few strategic/tactical mistakes.

    Or put another way, be patient. Judge over the course of time, don’t just hop on the latest Jimmy Dore (or right wing bliovator) rant. You can really only judge a politician over the course of a few years actions, every good politician needs to make a few compromises over the course of a term in order to achieve strategic objectives. Don’t jump on every statement as meaning she is either a saviour or a traitor.

    1. Mikel

      She’s drawing attention to them.
      They usually go about their destruction with even less press attention.

      1. a different chris

        I rarely accept, let alone put myself out there saying that somebody is playing eleventy-dimensional chess. Even when easier explanations are also lacking, Occam usually wins in the end.

        But AOC is different….like Mikel says, for $5K suddenly Conor Lamb (who is way, way better than the hideous Rethug he beat, but that’s saying something really bad about the R’s and nothing good about him) finds himself in a bright spotlight. A nice trick to pull with basically pocket change.

        So I’m not yet accepting DanB’s assertion below about AOC, and we’ve got almost no power in Washington with the D party, we will have zero without it. The Constitution has continually wiped any third party into oblivion. Anybody remember the Whigs? No?

        You can only scare Democrats from the left. You cannot scare Republicans. So how best to use limited money….I think we might as well sit back and watch for a bit longer.

        1. Bruce Wolman

          The Whigs were not a Third Party. They were wiped into oblivion by a Third Party. That is exactly what current circumstances require, a once in every 150 years challenge to one of the ruling two major parties, which has lost its way and effectiveness. Time, which you seem to have unlimited amounts of, is not on your side.

      2. Susan the other

        Drawing attention to them was my first reaction as well. The “what and how” is an old hack. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. Complete control of the eastern edge of the Mediterranean is difficult to achieve diplomatically. It is about as stalemated as the US Congress. Maybe someone should suggest, for both situations, a new, higher level of government and the diplomats operating it might be required to have professional (not political) expertise. Like scientists and engineers and people who understand just what is possible. Perennial conflict doesn’t achieve “government” – the question is, Why do we still tolerate it? – it is a throwback to pre-modern times when arguments were finally settled by warfare. If war is no longer a solution, then endless political conflict is beyond pointless.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        habenicht: thanks for the link

        What’s even more enlightening is the lowdown on Nomiki Konst, the Democratic Party’s supposed in-house Big Dissident. Yikes.

        1. neo-realist

          Konst, with her looks, her connections and the secrecy she wants to maintain about her background, maybe she is a “cover girl” working undercover?

      2. Alternate Delegate

        Thanks for that article. It certainly seems that the DSA in some instances functions as a sheepdog training academy for the Democrats, and AOC is part of that.

        On the other hand, how do you go about escaping the political orbit of billions of dollars and a million-paycheck national security boondoggle? On the one hand, you have to break through the ignorance of local people who think they want some kind of “anti-marxist socialism” (yes, I know socialism is much broader than that, but you know what I mean), and on the other hand you’re dealing with an author here who thinks only their own hardline splinter group “represents the working class”.

      3. FluffytheObeseCat

        The details in this piece are good to see; the hatchet job tone of the article – with its many non sequitur innuendos about other actors like Obama – is not. This piece is swimming in bile, and its whole thesis rest on the BS assumption that some “real” socialist could succeed and begin the take over of American federal politics if only AOC weren’t compromising with The Evil Elite.

        It spot-quotes AOC as having “….attacked socialist critics of the Biden administration as “privileged” and “bad faith actors,” while praising the Democratic Party for “totally reinvent[ing] themselves in a far more progressive direction.

        In first half of this she is right, and the entire thrust of this WSWS piece serves as proof in defense of her accusation. Looking pure before a tiny cohort of fellow “socialists”…while doing nothing for any regular people is what socialists do right now in the U.S. It’s their defining characteristic. I favor the overly well groomed babe who actual sponsors bills occasionally.

        1. Darthbobber

          The part of the piece that isn’t innuendo (and you really need to read the Times of Israel piece that they lift their tidbits from) is basically that she paid 200 bucks a month to make use of space at one of those shared entrepreneuial incubators that the Israeli dudes ran. She was doing a short-lived entrepreneuial effort which seems to have come to nothing pretty quickly. Worth bearing in mind that 2011 was not a great time to be shopping your freshly minted Liberal Arts BA, with the normal channels still frozen fast as polar ice, and a lot of recent grads found themselves taking a stab at “entrepreneurship” for want of a better option. The incubator place closed its doors in 2014, and her business license was terminated for lack of activity in 2016, by which time she’d long since moved on to the more lucrative field of helping manage a bar.

          All the breathless “These guys might have fuelled her political rise” stuff is offered free of any evidence.

          She was also present at the same gatherings as Konst on a couple of occasions. And???

          WSWS (and Socialist Equality Party), while they occasionally produce good work (of which this isn’t an example) are almost a illustration of bad faith actors when it comes to anything involving the left in and around the Democratic Party. For them, anything short of getting that Vanguard Party up and running (any day now), and reprising the storming of the Winter Palace is pretty much an irrelevant distraction and a waste of time. Their reductionist approach to the role of the Democratic party reducing it to pure sheepdogging and their apparent belief that this is the main obstacle to the working class’s inevitable (any day now) embrace of the entirety of Troyskyite dogma dictates their coverage of all things Democratic.

          Their critique of the “non-working class” nature of DSA amuses me, as my memory of SEP’s predecessor, the SWP, is that the class composition of its membership (and particularly its leadership) was that it was much like what I see in DSA. What the membership of Socialist Equality Party locals might be, and where they might be functioning, isn’t clear to me. They seem to have no physical presence in Philadelphia.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            First, as reader UserFriendly will tell you, the market for recent grads with tech degrees was also crap after the crisis. Recent high school grads had lower rates of unemployment than college grads. It’s been a topic at Slashdot at least once a year, every year since the early 2000s that there are no entry level jobs in the US for coders either. So stop parroting this STEM twattle. We’ve run articles on how the STEM shortage is a myth, brought to you by the PMC.

            Second, AOC majored in economics. Banks and business employers prefer economics grads. So she did get a marketable degree.

            1. Darthbobber

              Oops. I tended to assume she was poli sci. I certainly had no intention of pushing the tech propaganda line, so let’s say that in 2011 there was precious little market for one’s freshly minted BA.

    2. nycTerrierist

      “I don’t know enough about AOC to make any definitive comment on this, but I do know that she has done enough to justify giving her some slack – she is young and inexperienced and is entitled to a few strategic/tactical mistakes.”

      point taken – however, to those keeping up with her recent moves, there’s a pattern and it always goes in one direction – toward placating the powers that be on Team D. Far too much of a trend to be mistaken for ‘a few strategic/tactical mistakes’.

      to me and many on the so-called left, the stakes are too high. it is galling to see her fail to live up to her stated values. she seems to be following the Obama playbook – to our woe

      1. CarlH

        Thank you. I have been terribly disappointed in a lot of my fellow lefties who refuse to see this pattern or write it off and justify it.

    3. Bruno

      She’s neither a saviour nor a traitor. She’s a Social-Democrat in the Bernstein-Millerand-Scheidemann-Hilferding-Harrington-Blair-Hollande mold. In short, a 100% practicalist leftwing demagogue. Loads of those types loved FDR, loads (a huge number of them the same ones) loved Stalin, all of them now gung-ho for zombie Biden. So much for them all.

  3. jefemt

    Well that was depressing! Informative, yes…. thank you.

    Very excited that we just re-primed the pump with all of that Covid relief money.

  4. Northeaster

    Apparently someone didn’t like this post as The Washington Spectator post is gone.

    Amusing because years ago 60 Minutes did a piece on The GOP side, showing “the board” of donors they have to call begging or thanking for money. It was again highlighted by Rep. Thomas Massie in the HBO Documentary “The Swamp”. Massie isn’t even allowed into his own Party’s building because he doesn’t raise money for them. Which is made funnier because Liz Cheney donated money to Massie’s Republican challenger.

    1. The Rev Kev

      And Rep. Thomas Massie was also the only one that gave any resistance against the CARES Act from over a year ago. Or as I call it, The No Billionaire Left behind Act.

  5. Mikel

    Now it would be great to see that price list for committee chairs …for say the last 100 or so years. Or was it just more ” understood” back then?
    Just to get a feel for how deep down the rabbit hole this is or if this isn’t really down the rabbit hole at all and this mess was never anywhere near what they claimed it was in civics or history classes.

    1. ambrit

      The corruption per se is not the real point. The real point is the openness of the Party about this corruption. In years gone bye, politicos would hide as best they could such corruption. “The appearance of impropriety” was once a cardinal sin amongst the political class. By abandoning any pretense at probity and honesty, the Parties have also abandoned the concept of “the Public Good.” At root, the public sale of political power is the antithesis of “the Public Good.”
      The financialized political system described above is an Anti Democracy.

    2. Bruce Wolman

      To get useful insight into how Congress has changed since the 1950s-1960s, you may want to read Bobby Baker’s interview with the Senate’s Oral History Project. Baker, who started out as a page, was basically managing the Senate for LBJ by his early twenties. You will learn how much more bureaucratized, organized, increased in scale, and legalized the current syndicated corruption in Congress is today:


    3. Darthbobber

      Centralizing of party fundraising and distribution inside the beltway, and the stripping of state and local levels down to bare shells, is a reletively recent development (as in entirely within my adult life), and not a particularly good one

  6. DanB

    As is becoming clear, AOC –and other progressives in Congress- has transformed into a loyalist to the Dem Parry, and therefore the status quo. Unlike the Tea Party, the Dem progressives do not want to exercise power in service to those who voted them into office. If they had wanted to serve their constituents they would have forced the vote on Medicare by threatening to not vote for Pelosi as Speaker of the House. (And please no retorts that this would have enabled the Repubs. to elect a Speaker; that’s simply not true.) I’ve now concluded that Chris Hedges is essentially correct about the need for a genuine third party. The people should withdraw support from AOC, Bernie, The Squad, and all progressives in Congress who refuse to use their power.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      As indicated by Mikel, given the uselessness of $5,000 to any of the recipients, it’s more plausible that she’s trolling them. But then why not follow on? Or did her stunt get more press than she expected and that’s enough.

      1. Pat

        I wondered when I first read of this if it was a double edged sword meant to kneecap them. It could make them vulnerable.

        Vulnerable to attacks from their opponents because AOC. In highly right leaning districts obviously this would boost the Republican opposition. And in districts where there is an underlying desire for the return of real New Deal Democrats, it could be a boost to primary candidates. Especially as I could see them getting early money from people angry with AOC for supporting current Republican Lite Democrats.

        All while providing her with a clear show of “supporting” Democrats. One of those dubious Benchmarks used by DNC regulars as both a weapon and a defense against any Sanders style candidates.

        Certainly I could be falling for eleven dimensional chess style thinking, but AOC has been very good at both early branding and social media trolling. She has also demonstrated a pretty thick skin for the fallout. I don’t think this kind of unhappy spotlighting is beyond her.

      2. JohnnyGL

        The small amounts spread across 80 reps do have a scent of a symbolic move. Whether intended as a show of good faith to team dem, or trolling the moderates to open them to Republican attacks of being ‘on AOC’s payroll’.

        Certainly the knee-jerk freak-out quotes from conservative consultant types that have politico’s ear was amusing enough. Other consultants took a more diplomatic approach in response.

        I honestly don’t get what the point is? Just a cheap news cycle of headlines?

        I don’t have faith in AOC’s ‘insidery’ game because she has yet to demonstrate that she knows what she’s doing and she’s up against veterans who’ve been at this for years and have honed their skills for decades.

        AOC has two major assets. 1) She’s a proven powerhouse of a fundraiser and 2) she’s very telegenic with a top notch social media megaphone.

        Both of those assets need to be deployed in open, visible warfare to be effective. Right now, neither are being deployed and instead we’re watching her embarrass herself by twisting herself into verbal pretzels with abstract follow up questions in response to questions.

        I get that the ornery activist social media crowd is hardly reflective of public opinion, — they’re a cynical, impatient bunch. But if she’s going to be able quiet them down, she’s going to need concrete results to show for whatever backroom negotiating she’s been engaged in. Claiming credit for Biden’s own shift in approach in contrast to the Obama era isn’t fooling anyone.

        She tried to hush the ‘force the vote’ crowd at that time with claims that the focus was on the $15/hr min wage. Well, they didn’t get that, either. And it wasn’t even contested.

        For those who find Dore’s schtick a bit un-serious, Bernie Sanders’ old press secretary, Briahna Joy Gray started her own podcast a few months back before the whole ‘force the vote’ discussion got legs. Once that discussion started, Joy-Gray conducted a whole series of interviews with the so-called ‘serious’ activists and organizers that we’re all supposed to defer to because they’ve been at it for years.

        What did she find? Well, she asked, “what’s the strategy to achieve progressive goals, and specifically, medicare for all?”

        It turns out, lo-and-behold, that there isn’t really one at all. Worse yet, there’s no sense of urgency to come up with one. She asked Michael Lightly of NNU, whom she said gave the most substantive answer to the question and he sketched out a vague plan of pressing Gavin Newsome when he makes a run at the presidency in 2024 or 2028.

        The intriguing revelation from the ‘force the vote’ kerfuffle wasn’t really the question about whether it was a good idea or not. It was the backlash to the idea. When push came to shove, a lot of people in the lefty eco-system were very averse to using any kind of pressure, or coming up with any kind of strategy at all.

        Things only got worse recently when Medhi Hasan interviewed Ilhan Omar and asked “what’s the strategy to get a $15/hr min wage?” and the answer was (paraphrased), “well, we keep asking the white house and congressional leadership the same question and we haven’t gotten an answer”. Huh? Rep Omar, that is YOUR job! YOU come up with a strategy to pressure Biden and leadership! Be a leader, not a question-asker!

        Dore may be unserious as a political strategist, but he’s also revealed that there’s a lot of congressional reps that aren’t serious, either. There’s value in that revelation.

        How do we stir things up? Well, we need someone in congress who’s willing to show some bravery and contest leadership. Backroom dealing isn’t showing results, I think open warfare needs to be attempted. Maybe Nina Turner has the requisite bravery?

        On this site, there’s a lot of focus on policy, — we’re nerds, after all! However, I think what we really need is courage and leadership. The current bunch of progressive types in congress clearly aren’t up to it in my view.

        1. nycTerrierist

          good recap. i wonder what does it take to be considered a ‘serious political strategist’?
          isn’t the proof in the pudding? in ‘force the vote’ and in general, Dore’s commentary and analysis has been spot on, whether or not one cares for his tone.

        2. Dr. John Carpenter

          “ I don’t have faith in AOC’s ‘insidery’ game because she has yet to demonstrate that she knows what she’s doing and she’s up against veterans who’ve been at this for years and have honed their skills for decades.”

          Same here. I also really have a bad taste in my mouth from all of Obama’s 11th dimensional chess and the like.

          This is a great comment, JohnnyGL. The only thing I could add to it is to paraphrase a comment Alfred made above regarding AOC’s statement on Israel/Palestine: With the Dems back in charge, it feels like she’s really floundering trying to walk the razor’s edge of pushing progressive demands without offending or pointing out the failings of the establishment Dems. I do hope she can figure it out, as she is a talented media figure and will be worth keeping on the right side of things. But I’m also glad people are willing to keep her feet to the fire until she does.

          1. JohnnyGL

            Thanks for the love, Terrierist and Dr. Carpenter.

            Re: AOC’s comments on Israel/Palestine…I had that in mind when I said this, “Right now, neither are being deployed and instead we’re watching her embarrass herself by twisting herself into verbal pretzels with abstract follow up questions in response to questions.”

            I feel like 2018 AOC would have been happy to simplify and say, “Israel can have peace at it’s leisure. All it needs to do is grant full citizenship and equal rights (including property rights, the real key) to Palestinians and *poof*, you got yourself Jimmy Carter’s old 1-state solution.

            In fact, that’s probably the only viable solution. The whole two-state solution always gave off that old, creepy, ‘separate, but equal’ vibe to me.

        3. Darthbobber

          The plan obviously was to elect a president who favored M4A and to successfully primary a number of conservative Democrats. The present situation is the aftermath of the failure of that plan.

          If the issue is one of getting M4A with the present President and Congress then it seems evident on the face of it that neither backroom deals nor open warfare stand any chance at all of getting it done. I doubt if bravery has much to do with it one way or the other.

          I’m not big on confusing activity with action, and I’m not at all as convinced as some that scorched-earth tactics with the present balance of forces will yield anything but negative results. Though one does want to hit somebody.

          1. JohnnyGL

            “The plan obviously was to elect a president who favored M4A and to successfully primary a number of conservative Democrats. The present situation is the aftermath of the failure of that plan.” — Yes. But, now it’s been over a year since that failed. What’s plan B? Briahna Joy Gray asked around and swiftly discovered that there isn’t a Plan B and no one is working on one.

            “If the issue is one of getting M4A with the present President and Congress” — Yes, quite right that it ain’t happening. However, Bernie is angling for lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60. Biden campaigned on that. This should be very doable.

            Also, threatening to withhold votes and sink legislation shouldn’t be seen as ‘scorched-earth’ it’s part of normal politics. One of the blue-dogs says he wants to hold out for a SALT cap tax deduction. It’s a terrible policy idea, but at least the guy is willing to fight for something.

            Progs withholding votes may not work, much like that blue-dog hack may not get his SALT cap deduction back, but someone has got to take a chance and try to make something happen.

      3. Utah

        I take it as trolling the dccc. She has to give them money for her committee seats. They siphon it off to the blue dogs. So why not give it to the blue dogs personally and have them refuse it, and then shrug and bat her eyes saying she tried. That’s what I would do.

        If one digs into corporate pacs enough, republicans are donating to democrats and democrats to republicans all through intermediaries, because that’s the game. Especially the health care pacs. This isn’t any different than the game the dccc plays. Just fewer actors.

    2. Acacia

      Yep. I’m with Hedges. Withdraw all support from the Dems. Total waste of time and we don’t have time to waste.

    3. neo-realist

      It’s great that Hedges and others want a third party. Do it and start running people for local and state offices and get your brand known, particularly to people who don’t follow politics. Don’t think that you can run somebody for president in the near term and win without the public getting familiar with the brand. Don’t become a green party 2.0 that runs people for the presidency, gets its 1% and does nothing in between presidential elections to raise consciousness of that third party brand so it can become electable.

  7. TomDority

    Sadly, while voting rights are being rolled back in a theatrical way, sort of a combined effort of the Democrates and Republicans to raise a red herring, while congressional members from both sides have been heard to ‘get some cover so that they can get some mild checks into gun legislation’ by seeking out stupid gaffs or misconstrued false-isms to avoid doing the peoples work, or a president who says he is going to raise corporate taxes without making any distinction between preditory (financial services companies, investement houses and banks, monopolists and other casino playing overhead inducing companies) and those companies that actually produce and invest in productive capital.
    Meanwhile, the old payola and bribery produces great legislation for the grifters, thieves and pocket poachers who bribe and tantrum….and for the rest of the voters…. crumbs and directives and laws that say, address these lowlifes in a more respectable manner…they do Gods work…….. yes..
    Seams that what the people do want…these cowards on the hill look for cover and claim it to expensive…, when it comes to environmental, social and economic destruction or war and supporting those that do god’s work and steal from the majority in this republic- we seam to have an endless flow of cash and treasure.

  8. dcblogger

    Bernie and AOC’s biggest achievement is to break thru the idea that we need to recruit at least some billionaires to support our candidates. They have proven that if you win enough popular support you can fund your campaign at $27 a donation. And now a whole crop of candidates are coming behind them. This is what the power structure really fears, that voters really do not need elite money.

  9. The Rev Kev

    I smell an ambush and I am giving AOC the benefit of a doubt here. Think about it. A strength of AOC is all the donations that she receives from god knows how many contributors. So what she has done here is to take a total of $160,000 of all those contributions and given it to corporate Democrats whose policies are directly against all that she says that she is for. How reckless and stupid was that? Did she not think that this would come out in the media and make people second-guess giving her any more contributions? Was that the point of this maneuver? So, adjusting my tin-foil cap here, did the Democrats privately promise her something if she would only show good faith by contributing all that money to those corporate/CIA Democrats – and then they blew her up by exposing it? That would make more sense to me why she did such a thing.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      That could be the case, but if so, why doesn’t she say so? Shedding light on the ambush would surely get her more donations she could then use to primary right-leaning Democrats.

      I want to give her the benefit of the doubt too, but I’ve also seen a lot of “progressives” go to Congress over the last few decades, one of whom is an in-law and currently a high-ranking member of the House, and none of them have amounted to a pisshole in the snow.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        ” . . but if so, why doesn’t she say so?”

        Hypothesis: She’s doing this to set them up for a primary challenge from the left. If she were to admit that’s what she’s doing that would give them them ammunition to use in the primaries.

    2. Alex

      “…did the Democrats privately promise her something if she would only show good faith by…”
      If you put AOC’s congressional career in the most charitable possible light, this seems to happen a lot and she should have figured out the game by now. Just how dim-witted is she?
      More realistically, she really enjoys her fame, cushy job, and nice apartment. Not really into going back to bartending. Like oh my god I know right.
      Kyle Kulinski should go back to making Fortnight videos on youtube, it suits his intellect better.

  10. JohnMinMN

    After tweeting that very mild criticism of AOC’s word salad answer to Michael Miller’s question re: peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Ryan Wentz (Human Rights Watch Watcher) was visited by two members of the California Highway Patrol on behalf of the Capitol Police. Here’s his twitter thread describing the situation:


    Many news outlets picked up the story, including Fox. Apparently the “threat” to AOC was in a response to the original tweet. The offending tweet seems to have disappeared into the ether. Here’s WSWS reporting the story:


      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        I wouldn’t rule out the pro-Israeli comment mob. At some sites, any criticism of Israel immediately turns up dozens of coordinated responses. It is highly likely that any inadequate response by AOC is being monitored.

  11. simjam

    Commentators need to be reminded that New York will lose several seats in the coming NY redistricting. AOC is target #1 for elimination by Wall Street. The Street has some influence in the state Democratic Party. It’s about the Benjamins.

  12. DJG, Reality Czar

    In the last couple of days, Ryan Grim as well as The Rising’s Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti have been reporting on figures aggregated by someone on Twitter using the handle unusual-whales that show the extent of speculation in stocks and the, errrr, strategic trades made, in particularly by Speaker Nancy “Useless” Pelosi.

    If the supposed progressives can’t make hay with corruption and the appearance of corruption (and the strong whiff of corruption) in their own caucus, it shows that the feckless Democratic Party is just one fan club within the Monoparty. It’s all get-along-to-go-along.

    Meanwhile, the Exceptional Nation has spent the last forty years “enhancing” its Gini coefficient and slipping along on the self-placed banana peel.

    But, heck, indoor dining is back, even though the daily numbers of cases aren’t below epidemic levels. Let’s go in and have some of those delightful brioches recommended by Marie Antoinette.

    The Rising:


  13. Hepativore

    Here is a follow-up from yesterday by Kyle Kulinski about how now the stated “strategy” from the Squad is to try and work with the Democratic establishment to try and work towards progressive goals. Kyle gets really worked up about how ridiculous this idea is, as the establishment Democrats already hate members of the Squad and will never cease to undermine progressives at every turn.


    How can people like AOC and the rest of progressives expect to get any sort of concessions by preemptively folding in the face of an establishment that views them like this?


    It really does make me wonder if the Squad deserves the “Fraud Squad” moniker after all. How many more second chances do AOC and the rest of them get before we completely write them off as being empty fountains of flowery rhetoric but no real action?

  14. Elizabeth Burton

    1. All Representatives who run as Democrats are required to pay “dues” that usually go to the DCCC to be distributed to candidates. Since the DCCC spent more than $3 million trying to primary her last year, it’s hardly surprising she preferred to make donations directly to the candidates most likely to face hardcore GOP challenges next year. Since I gather most of them returned said donations, this issue is no longer moot.

    2. Anyone who bothered to take the time to watch the entire interview from which that carefully selected “word salad” clip was extracted should have had no idea what she was trying to say. As for why it was so difficult for her, she was essentially asked what she thought should be done to effect the two-state solution in Israel, which IIRC she doesn’t support.

    Unfortunately, since hers is a district likely to be “rearranged” going forward, she’s in no position to annoy those of her constituents who do support the two-state solution, so throwing that at her when she had no real time to consider her answer was a cheap shot—and I suspect the interviewer knew it.

    The individual whose visit from the CHP was turned into a cause celêbre (for everyone but him; there were rumors he was griping that none of the major media contacted him for interviews) is, in my opinion after observing his behavior over time, one of a number of self-designated “leftists” whose only theme seems to be undermining the credibility of the new progressives in Congress who rely on grassroots funding.

    For the record, this is what AOC has done so far this week:

    * The Funeral Assistance program that AOC fought for and won for families affected by COVID-19 launched this week. After hearing from her community about how many families were being financially impacted while grieving for their loved ones, she got to work. On Monday, she joined Senator Schumer for a press conference to break down how to apply to receive up to $9,000 in federal assistance. 

    * After hearing about another devastating fire in Jackson Heights, Queens, AOC helped raise over $15,000 for displaced families in just 24 hours.She visited with the impacted families on Monday and shared that the city would be extending family hotel stays until April 20 to give families more time to figure out their next steps. 

    * Now, Alexandria is working with Senator Gillibrand to introduce a bill to expand banking services at U.S. Post Offices in underbanked communities. Postal banking could help reach the 6 percent of adults who currently do not have access to a bank account, while generating $8.9 billion in new annual revenue.

    Please note the same people responsible for most of the narratives listed here were attacking her two weeks ago for daring to support this measure, one even going so far as to accuse her of “supporting money for the dead but not for the living”.

    The propaganda—and yes, that’s exactly what it is, and everyone is falling for it just as usual—that a handful of first- and second-term Congresspersons can successfully take on the entrenched Democrat establishment and achieve anything other than being reduced to being unable to adequately represent the people who elected them is ludicrous. The smug entitlement of people who don’t live in their respective districts who apparently think they’re owed a quid pro quo for having donated to their campaigns would be ironic if it weren’t so dangerous.

    If the agenda is to fight back against corporate control of the electoral system via big money, then narratives that only focus on the grassroots-funded members of Congress as being “useless” or having “sold out” should set off all kinds of alarms. And yet, here we are,

    Want to know what the Squad is doing. Send each of them three bucks and get on their mailing lists. Yes, you’ll have to deal with being asked for money every day, but if we don’t fund them, we know who will. Or rather, the corporatists who’ll replace them.

    That said, Pramila Jayapal has just introduced Move to Amend’s Amendment resolution to eliminate the definition of corporations as “people” and money as “free speech”. Instead of shooting ourselves in both knees, I recommend showing support for that as well as the PRO Act and voting bill. And the healthcare workers safety bill. I could go on.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I just noticed a typo. Item two should read “should have no problem“, not “no idea”. ?

      My only excuse was that I was on a short break from editing the last three chapters of a novel and didn’t have time to edit myself. My bad.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Hi Ms. Burton, I appreciate the detail here, these are all good items you’ve listed and I hope the legislation gets passed.

      However, the real focus for doing ‘big things’ which really match up with her pre-election rhetoric has to be around the handful of reconciliation bills that are allowed each year. These are the only bills that get exempt from the filibuster under current Senate procedures.

      The Prog Caucus under Jayapal and Pocan got nothing in the first bill. It pretty much passed as originally proposed by the white house. The $15/hr min wage was the big promise Bernie extracted from Biden during the campaign. It got cut out by Congressional leaders with the full blessing from the white house.

      This new infrastructure bill is the next big chance to do something BIG. I haven’t seen anyone from Prog world working to corral support for ANY demand at all.

      This is where the focus HAS to be right now, but it’s shaping up to be the 2nd big missed opportunity in the Biden era.

      1. neo-realist

        With the infrastructure bill, I think the onus is on Biden and Schumer to lean on Manchin to stop d*cking around with process, filibusters, and corporate taxes and get on board. He’s really the guy holding things up, and the progressives are not going to reach him.

  15. debug

    The overanalysis going on here is amazing.

    How about simply giving her credit for understanding that “Money talks and BS walks” ??

    If you want your frenemies to be your friends, in the congress, you give them money. Then they will talk to you about what your constituents and maybe even some of theirs want from each of you.

    This is power politics at its simplest.

    No leventy-leven dimensional chess stuff, no back-stabbing or becoming a traitor to your promises, just raw power politics.

    The objection that it is only 5K or so is missing the point. 5K is to show that “I’m willing to play if you are and I have funding sources you don’t have access to unless you play this game with me.”

  16. Synoia

    AOC is now maturing, and is slowly softening Her surprise as She is assimilated by the bolb…./s

  17. OverOverB

    As a Dem in NY, she is going to have to do the dance with some “pro-Israel” groups sometimes. Busting out some acting-for-non-majors and telling them want they want to hear, while annoying, is part of the game once every few years. I wouldn’t worry too much about that one, though. She won’t be up on the AIPAC stage soon.

    AOC has no chance of moving those Problem Solver seats into the prog camp. This also gives the appearance of being more of a team player, when in reality it is a very small % of her overall fundraising purse. Watch if she goes on offense and supports candidates in winnable seats again in 2022 (like Cisneros instead of Cuellar in TX). She was absolutely hammered for that by leadership and the New Dems.

    The progs have so little power and not a lot of bodies. It’s going to take some skill and time to get those numbers up.

  18. mtnwoman

    Also, perhaps, AOC was very shaken by the Jan 6th insurrection attack where she felt targeted and images of hanging from the gallows flittered across her mind.
    She may want a lower profile.
    She may be working thru PTSD.

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