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Intro: "Why is it that self-termed progressives are in full retreat (and have been for decades) from the witless army of angry clowns and hack illusionists of the US right-wing? ... the self-gelded liberal has sacrificed libido and discarded sacred vehemence for careerist privilege. Worse, the rest of us are advised to follow suit ... that, in order to gain credibility, one must slouch towards center-hugging irrelevance."

Scenes from a Tea Party Rally, Capitol Hill. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Scenes from a Tea Party Rally, Capitol Hill. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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+28 # objectiveobserver 2011-09-24 22:57
So beautifully written. Thank you. I have a theory about the question you posit at the very beginning of this article, why have progressives been in full retreat for decades now? It seems to me that when Clinton was caught in an undecorous position, his political opponents (Republicans) seized the opportunity to grab the moral banner of hypocrisy. It is the fact that they were successful in controlling the public debate, forcing Clinton to face possible impeachment, which greatly hindered his ability to govern, spending millions of taxpayer dollars on Ken Starr's folly; it seems to me that the right wing was emboldened by their success and the democrats have been pitiful apologists ever since. If I was in NY at the Wall St. protests I would carry a banner that says, (I propose the Separation of Corporation & State) because that is the other reason Democrats have lost their so called libido. Thank you again Mr. Rockstroh. I just watched the interview on your website. I wish more people could hear your voice of reason.
+17 # RLF 2011-09-25 06:18
Clinton was notoriously successful by spewing the same economic nonsense that Raygun began and deregulating banks, setting off the beginnings of the real estate bubble and tech bubble and finance bubble that has yet to pop because we bailed them out and they think everything is fine just as it is. Problem with the Dems during that time is the same as today...that there are blue pooches that are really Republicans and should be thrown out of the party because they always vote with the right.(They include Clinton) Until they get rid of these posers and have a REAL majority...noth ing will change in that party. It is easier to start a new party.
-10 # angryspittle 2011-09-24 23:28
An illegal war was shortened? Bullshit. It went on forever. The fucking protests did nothing, absolutely nothing, to shorten the war.
+10 # Zagreus 2011-09-24 23:31
I know one guy who is not afraid of the right wings clowns. And he is running for President. That guy is me.

Nicholas Pierotti

My name is Nicholas Pierotti

I'm running as an independent candidate for President of the United States.

Wall Street criminals have ruled over this country for too long. They own both houses of Congress. They own both Political parties. Obama dangles from their puppet strings.

Isn't it time to put a man of the People back into the White House? A man who will take War dollars, and money that Congress and Obama currently funnel into Wall Street bailouts and War, and redirect that money into jobs for the Working People of America, rebuilding the infrastructure of this country, and making of our nation the Shining City on a Hill we were meant to be, instead of the slave state of the corporate multinationals.

You can read my platform at

If Facebook blocks you from seeing that page, email me, and I will send you a PDF.

Let’s take back America together. It is OUR time!
+3 # Glen 2011-09-25 13:16
Good luck with that, Nicholas. Hope you are prepared to tangle with the most powerful people on this planet, who will be completely against you. Also, I hope you have at least half a billion dollars.

The U.S., if you know your history, was never the Shining City on a Hill.
+1 # jon 2011-09-28 22:21
Right On, Zagreus !!
+10 # DaveM 2011-09-24 23:31
Thank you. A heartening voice in a sea of doomsayers. More, please!
+7 # readerz 2011-09-25 00:07
We were non-violent. That's how it worked. You can call it liberal, but it worked. And the media was there; we were lucky. There were enough people who sided with us; people who had already given in WWII, and didn't want more family members destroyed by the giant corporations. Yes, there were a lot of WWII vets who were against the war in Vietnam. Sure, Reagan turned everything into a farce, but he was given that power by a Dixiecrat who slapped a "wage-price freeze" on the poor and middle classes (meaning wages were minimum, prices inflated to double anyway). And under Reagan, the wages stayed frozen. As for this new "volunteer" army; it is a sad lot of young people who are given no other jobs, probably less volunteer than Vietnam. But the whole argument is really irrelevant, as the army moves to drones and robots. They will kill and injure without any human involvement. You got another thing wrong: liberals tucked their tails between their legs and ran during the McCarthy era; my father was terrified that he would be called up. And suddenly quieted down to blend in, but discovered that quiet non-violence really worked. People listened to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; no matter what statements, good or bad, few listened to Malcolm X, especially in the media. Yes, there were a lot of plastic hippies who blamed everybody for everything, then became stock brokers.
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-25 11:37
Or todays born again Jesus Freaks, recruiting even then to their felonious faith.

I still believe in no violence, knowing that Revolution of non violence would mean a death to us. The other guys need to kill.

I do not feel sorry for those signing up, many are escaping a way of life, a good percentage of those strive to get a better life. Those who are taught hatred
by community, church and family join for reasons to kill. They are the ones who even if left to walk home, would find another killing machine to worship and follow.

I have made mistaken sentences so as not to seem inhuman, however, I never have seen a war that won anything. I would like for the CEO"S children to be called to, the Politicians also. I believe we need the draft to remind all people just how fragile life is.

Perhaps a walk in neighborhoods, rural areas is what we all need so we can see who is now the soldiers, those whose life was built in violence, hatred, false realities. Bullies. Male and Female, all needing revenge. Serving whom, God never condoned Murder, never justified killing his Creatures, of which a child in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq is one. Shame is what our WarLords bring to a Democracy. Armed Service now gives our children the Right to kill others children. Their is no pride in that.
+1 # Capn Canard 2011-09-25 20:17
I wish I had your faith KittatinyHawk. Because I think we may see even worse tactics from the Fascists in the near future.
+1 # Capn Canard 2011-09-25 20:13
It is better to more of a pain in their ass, join the Monkey Wrench Gang? Without agitation none of what you have written about ever happens. For instance the Jews who resisted the Nazi had a better chance of surviving Holocaust. Sure you kept your head down and slipped past... not everybody's gonna slip past. To increase your odds of success I suggest resistance to the machine. Otherwise go ahead and give up now.

+17 # Gordon K 2011-09-25 00:18
Pretty good piece. I might add a few points:

The influence of corporate money has penetrated Congress in a manner vastly worse than what was the norm in the 60s, to the point that the Democratic party;s populism is now largely a sham. No viable third party alternative currently exist, thus disenfranchisin g the progressives, exactly as the right wing intended.

The right wing realized that an independent news media gave the peace movement reasonably reliable information that helped focus populist anger. The right wing's solution was to buy up the media. Their success in controlling information is demonstrated by the near-total blackout of news stories covering the current occupation of Wall Street. The New York Times, to my knowledge (at least according to my Google search) hasn't said a word about it.

The 60s anti-war movement (perhaps not quite the same thing as the peace movement) was fueled by young middle class males' fear of the draft. Now we have conscription by economics. It's easy to condemn as moral failures or dupes, the people who now enlist, but economically desperate people will do desperate things.
+9 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-25 11:40
Draft is needed back with clause 'No Exceptions" time that all learn what the war of their Fathers is about.
I would love to see Bill Gates Children, Koch Bros, Perry, Bachman all serving for their Country.
Walk the Walk. Draft must come back to get everyone off the oversized butt.
-1 # Glen 2011-09-25 13:21
No, KittatinyHawk, bringing back the draft would be like setting in stone the wars members of the U.S. government condone and perpetuate. I would never support a draft because even more young Americans would die and the wealthy elitists would continue to get a deferment. They know how to play that game. It is those powerful and wealthy that are calling the shots on these issues.
+7 # Ralph Averill 2011-09-25 04:36
Applause for Mr. Rockstroh! First, for his brilliantly lucid argument on the uselessness of flacid, spineless liberalism. And second, for his wonderful tour-de-force against the de-evolution of language in the age of texting and willful, prideful illiteracy and ignorance that is the current fashion among so many.
I almost never agreed with the late William F. Buckley, but I used to love to read his essays and columns, and watch his TV show "Firing Line", to marvel at, and learn from, his absolute mastery of the English language. Mr. Buckley's conservatism never went very far until it began to be pitched by the crown prince of illiterate ignorance, the arch anti-intellectu al, Rush Limbaugh.
+13 # RSJ 2011-09-25 04:57
There are two reasons for the liberal timidity described in the article above:

1) Many liberal Democrats have been bought, some through the recently-defunc t Democratic Leadership Council and others by lobbyists. In other cases (and has excellent pieces on this), PBS, NPR, various charities and organizations that once were left-leaning are all now being run by white, upper middle-class yuppies who have no true interest in changing anything, they just want to make a decent living and 'feel good' about themselves because they did a human interest story re a black single mother who dropped her drug habit and regained her estranged child. Their appreciation of reality comes largely through such treacly made-for-TV movie plots. They don't want to rock the boat; they want to be invited aboard the yacht for the next fundraising dinner for charity. They have few if any beliefs they would 'go to the mat' for, and never show emotion when viciously attacked by a right-winger. They are perfect Fox News liberals.

2) Our media is owned and run by the sorts of people described in the last paragraph. They are the punditocracy that chases its tail inside the Beltway and decides what news is relevant to the rest of us. Since they are invested in the status quo, they are hardly going to challenge it -- they're too afraid of losing their cushy jobs.
0 # Capn Canard 2011-09-25 20:35
RSJ, I agree. I suggest that your post comforts my own anarchist leanings. I believe that Anarchy is making a strong come back thanks to everyone being completely screwed over by those in authority, either Dem or Repug, for far to long. And Obama, Boehner, and Romney, et al will take their vacation in the Hamptons while we take another pay cut with no vacation. It is the world of a collapsing capitalist economy.
+11 # stonecutter 2011-09-25 05:55
The Woodstock Generation went to sleep and woke up in Ronald Reagan's America. The left is in palpable denial about the dramatic rightward shift of this country's zeitgeist, notwithstanding gay rights.

If you can tune out all but local politics and find a locale that syncs with your political and social vibe--SF, NY, Portland, Seattle--and you can make a living there, you may enjoy a cognitively resonant life, and can even be "happy". But you have to ignore the bigger political can't read guys like Rockstroh or Taibbi or Filkins or Hedges.

But, if you simply have to know about and watch presidential and congressional politics, if your intellectual mojo is caught up in the macrocosm, if you can't turn away from the morphing of the people, the culture, the technology, the politics, the basic self-identity of Americans into something that would've been virtually unrecognizable a few years ago, you're in deep trouble. You're doomed to a daily existence of sanitized images, comic-book political theater for cretins, and O'Reillyized mass media bullshit that will make your head explode, unless you remain suitably tranquilized by your distractions of choice (#1, TV!)

Obama promised to take us away from all this. He lied. It turns out he was just another ringmaster, albeit a "cool" one.
Answer: San Francisco, hiking, Sausalito.
+6 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-25 11:47
I never went to sleep nor did many of my friends. Lots of people still March. Many have become involved in Organic American Businesses. Many of us had families, actually raised our children with some going yuppie others being the responsible ones in Active Marches yet today
If I remember anything about teaching of Lord, and prophets there after, it is up to our own sorry a----es to get up and fight for what we want. No one is going to give anything to us. Bible didn't teach that nor does history. Yuppies are the plastic people not the hippies.
There is no ignore anything. If you do not like your Local Government than run for office in that. Bring your Conscience with you. Running to NY or wherever...keep moving, we do not need cowards got enough of them now.

OBama promised, they all promise always have....grow up people, you want change, make it happen. I do not see the Libya Rebels waiting for a Promise from anyone...they took to fighting back. Palestine is demanding their right. People are not waiting, people in other parts of the World are going to leave us in the Dust. Most of us deserve being there, we have made the dust by years of complicity.
+1 # Capn Canard 2011-09-25 20:52
KittatinyHawk, you used the key word "fight" and instead of the conservative branded words like: "War on ___" insert your own Orwellian concept, I like "War on Peace" it seems to sum up American foreign policy. This shift in liberal thinking is long overdue, like a shift to personal responsibility that conservatism just can't sustain when their leaders show no personal responsibility. So hypocritical, so buffoonish, so typical. They are running on the fumes of failed ideas and fear is their only tool.
+12 # Ken Hall 2011-09-25 06:39
Yes, the establishment preys upon and uses the idealism of youth to impose its military hegemony upon the world, but that does not exonerate youth from the results of their choices. The high rates of suicide and mental anguish, PTSD, etc, attest the collision of the "White Knight" mentality with the reality of war, which involves the death of many innocent people, intentionally and unintentionally , and which the human psyche finds repugnant. The US empire does not reward the subjugated with democracy and freedom, but with subservience to corporate masters. The Iraq war was engaged so as to create a business opportunity for US oil companies, put oilmen into high office and this is what happens. Mr. Rockstroh, I compliment you on your essay. If there are any readers here who haven't heard or read the words of Buffy St. Marie's "Universal Soldier", it is a powerful summation of the need to educate youth to the real reasons they are encouraged to violence, and the real consequences of their actions. And no, I don't support our troops.
+9 # tedrey 2011-09-25 06:42
I am going to draw down opposition, but stirring as this essay is, something more needs to be said about it.
Mr. Rockstroh's positions may be progressive, but I wish he did not show the same tendency to mind-clogging invective, the lumping of whole categories of people equally as enemies, the almost murderous anger, and the avoidance of rational nuances of reality, as the very "clowns" that we oppose.
We ourselves must act warmly but keep our cool in these times. The temptation is to outdo the enemy in hate and intransigeance. We must overcome that temptation.
For those who have studied the Freench Revolution, I can make these further points. We need passion in our causes, but right now, we need Mirabeaus more than Robespierres. Mr. Rockstroh could write us the "Marseillaise" we are looking for, but I wouldn't want him on the National Assembly we'll have to call soon.
Let's think it out in mutual caring and fraternity.
+4 # walt 2011-09-25 07:01
Amen to all these thoughts! Right on and write on!
And where is Obama in all this?? He's busy proving that he is not a "liberal" and "not soft on defense," lest the right wing idiots poke even more fun at him....those who are already committed to destroying his presidency.
We have shamed ourselves as a nation in our love of war and violence. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, drone attacks, and more...I too have come to hate the "Support our troops" cry that has dominated our lives as if we were using a bunch of conscripted young folks to fight defending our country's shores from an aggressor. Hogwash!
The time has come for concerned citizens to take to the streets and demand otherwise. Happily, that seems well underway.
Support our protesters! Speak out, America!
-2 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-25 11:56
OB is running the Country...we are proving how lazy we are by continually playing our role in Ground Hog Day. We do nothing, that is the point.
There are $2500 in Wall Street Marches why...where are the rest of you? The whole East Coast in Brazil? With mass transit available everyone should be donating time...where are you? Pizza is nice but where are you? Unless you work 24/7 you have time to go to this march and give your name, ask how to help, how people you know can get involved.
Have any of you gotten a petition together? Do you know that the Different Plagues in the name of Polluted Energy have time periods to send in Petitions and letters...have you done anything. Wolves being slaughtered? Buffalo? I see you know to write, you are here 24/7 but do you know to do anything except for your ego.
RSN is a great Media however, they are hoping you get involved not just write empty sentences. Get over yourselves and see what you can do. don't like your local government, find out when terms are up...start changes yourself. OB is one many of you bloggers are on sites that could be making changes in past 3 years who have done one thing? At least he attempts, knowing Congress will thwart his efforts.
Have you made any attempt?
+14 # in deo veritas 2011-09-25 07:47
There is no substitute for victory in the struggle against the evil that is poised to destroy everything that this nation was founded upon. As always it will be those who are willing to risk everything who will lead the way. Unfortunately it will come to naught unless there are those who will follow and do their part. If they are too cowardly to act to save themselves then they do not deserve to survive. Waiting for a messiah or superhero to save us is pure foolishness. God will help those who help themselves. Since the JFK tragedy we have been on our own with few respites from continuing decline. Every country throughout history that has glorifed war and imperialism has declined or perished and if we coninue on our present course America will be another. The "media" which are good only for prurient forms of entertainment to keep the masses docile and ignorantr of reality are the most deadly instrument being used by those fascist elements that wish a return of the good ole days of robber barons and the power of the Third Reich over the people. No more glaring example of this than their refusal to report the Wall Street protests that are country wide and even taking place in other countries.
0 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-25 12:02
Where did you get the facts that every Country has perished? Middle East is still warring, as is Ireland, UK, Dutch, East, we still haven't learned out lessons and we are here.
What have you done this year? what March have you partaken in Wisconsin? There have been 8 major ones in DC, one a march from CT to DC, NY on several occasions this year, Ohio? any in any state this past spring/summer with Move On for Wisconsin?
There is a movement going on right now, some to do with Elizabeth Warren getting in, there is the Coffee Party...any involvement in these? I was marching all spring, some summer. I have some illness at home I must take care of but I do letters, petitions daily. Again have you?
+11 # in deo veritas 2011-09-25 07:50
People have misunderstood the concept of the Antichrist. It is not a person but a phiolsophy rooted in greed and the glorification of violence. Will God really bless a country that supports this mantra? Not a mere rhetorical question but an issue that must be faced up to as we are led daily to the abyss.
+5 # Erdajean 2011-09-25 10:37
In deo, you get the point. It will be those who are willing to risk everything who pull us out of this -- if that is to happen. The Pink Toes in Birkenstocks who call themselves liberal are in fact terrified of true identification of evil -- and true confrontation, and will swallow the line of Politically Correct Patriotism every time the heinous crazies throw it at us. I honestly went to a protest once where the leaders herded us far away from the highway, and told we must put out our candles at dusk because we should not antagonize Republicans who might be passing by. Tell you what -- some of us are mighty sick of puffing "reasonableness " in the face of foamy-mouthed fools and criminals who OPENLY want to destroy everything decent left in the world. What are we always asking God to bless? Greed? War-mongering on innocent neighbors? Preoccupation with trashy trivia, ignorance, vapidity and filth? Loving our asses too much to resist? Let's not hold our breath.
-1 # Martintfre 2011-09-25 08:43
Impeach Obombya for our unconstitutiona l war on Libya.

The UN does not grant the president authority to send us to war - internal strife of a country, even a rouge one like Libya, is not our issue.

Unfortunately the right wing Neocons love war soo much they gave Obombya a pass because when they are in power they want to do the exact same immoral illegal thing.
+7 # sanfrass 2011-09-25 09:54
Unfortunately, one of those right wing clowns is Obama. He promised a nation (and especially its youngest voters) hope and change and instead has accomplished nothing and has led affairs in a decidedly rightward direction. It's my understanding that in the next election, since he cannot run on his accomplishments , he will attempt tp paint the Republicans as crazy==well, maybe that will work, but how many young voters will get out of bed to cast a vote to prevent the country from falling into the hands of crazies? Didn't happen in 2010. Aside from its being a pitiful platform. We need to dump Obama now and find a real Democrat to run in 2012. If Obama faces a serious challenge in the primaries maybe it will serve as a wakeup call to the business-as-usu al Democratic power structure snugly cocooned in their delusional bubble.
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-25 12:05
Promises...You people promised yourself change...what have you done. Stop blaming everyone else. Get off your butts and do something. Start locally and work your way up.
I have asked for 8 months have any of you organized in your area? If not why not? Marches need people...have you been to one? They have been all over USA, I know, I have shown my Committment again. Been doing it since the 60's, I am ill. So where are you, any of you
+13 # fredboy 2011-09-25 10:44
I have long asked the same questions.

One of the saddest examples of this was the swift boat attack. Kerry and the Democrats just sort of rolled over and took a beating when they could have easily countered the lies. But they didn't--and there lies the question. Why?

One can turn the other cheek until you run out of cheeks. Unfortunately, such submission is often interpreted as agreeing with one's attacker's allegations. Thus, truth dies in the process.

Democrats have got to stand up. And fight. But they seem to lack the ability or willingness to do so. This is really confusing for those of us who wish to support them, but don't know what they will do or not do if such support is given.
+1 # KittatinyHawk 2011-09-25 12:10
People have to stand up. Politicans are worthless without People....
Corporate Clowns got people. Evil got people.

You all above missed the whole are here. After you read this you are supposed to evaluate how you can make a t anyone else. Burden lies on You. When you all get off those butts and take back American and be leaders, then you have the Right to criticize. But where are you right now? on a sofa, comfortable chair? Seems like that is where you are daily, 24/7. You have no room to criticize anyone.
-2 # Martintfre 2011-09-27 07:51
Good point Fred - thank goodness the left never stoops to calls of racism and other low brow bs when they them selves have nothing worthwhile to offer but massive debt and servitude to the ever bloating state.
+1 # SOF 2011-09-25 14:12
Yes, well written, full of good points, etc. But I'm sick of hearing how we don't do enough. There is Wall Street demo happening and not reported -like 99% of actions. And let's not forget that demonstrators are routinely arrested (In Chicago they used to plant pot in homes, if they didn't shoot you in your bed) And. We have the inevitable family responsibilitie s. Which didn't stop us from doing what we could -like zillions of letters to editors and congress (Before internet!) Volunteering -all the good citizen things, while developing and using solar energy, water catchment and organic gardening and forming coops, researching, writing, Alternative healing, Midwifery, Sustainability, Recycling, Environmental change, etc are some topics we explored and brought to public... And don't forget under HS we do NOT have guaranteed rights like we did in the 60s.
Just getting sick of hearing we're timid. Some of us Never sold out, some had to keep a low profile, and who knows? maybe hippie creative informed yuppies will .be the ones left standing with resources to defend what they remember. I say there's more happening than visible for good reasons. =like freedom... Personally I advise demonstrating with a paper bag over your head printed with "I Do Not Trust my Government" We should have impeached Bush. That betrayal has only emboldened the Right/Plutocrac y/Fascists.
+3 # 35 years 2011-09-25 14:55
Old Phil is wrong for all the right reasons. We need his voice and the above commentators in the discussion nationally which has become a dialogue between Eisenhower Republicans (Democrats) and the extreme right. This doesn't mean you aren't full of it in many areas.To start with you get the names wrong. If you can't figure out that in this day and age YOU are the liberals in the eyes of most Americans then you are stuck in the new left rhetoric circa 1969. Please update, reboot or snap out of it before you befuddle more people. By joining conservatives in attacking liberals you are simply a fifth column for the conservative movement. You are also helping to confuse the issue with young people on the left, many of whom now think Ron Paul is a viable alternative. Unless you want to re-fight the progressive-rob ber baron wars of the gilded age, you should help snuff out this libertarian nonsense forthwith. The result of not clearing this up will be the election of a Republican beholden to the extreme right. The choice for President is binary, you either choose the right direction or the wrong direction - its not a place for personal fulfillment or the pursuit fine distinctions.If anything you do aides the election of a Republican you are empowering the enemy of all the things your claim to stand for.
+1 # objectiveobserver 2011-09-25 16:47
Excellent point. I agree there is confusion about Ron Paul. I spent some time in Vancouver in 2009 where most "young progressive types" were big fans of Ron Paul. I was unable to convince them that they are misinterpreting what he represents. That attitude is gaining steam here now. I agree that liberals attacking liberals is self defeating and I wish I observed less of it. I will stand by Obama, he remains our only and best hope. Even if he has sold out on so many issues, he must be given a lot of latitude. There are so many forces working against him.
0 # Darwin26 2011-09-26 01:48
This is a Brillian piece by Phil, Thank you ~ it gives just more meaning to the vomit i placed at the WALL in DC within the first 30 seconds of seeing it; i was very leary of seeing it but had some time to explore DC in '03 the year of the Cicadas ~ Having been drafted into the Infantry '66-'68 and being WIA during the Tet Offensive i could very easily been another name, another tribute to the gd Capitalists and Fearmongering Jingoists of that day; who have along the way usurped our Government and mated it with the War Machine Cartels (u no, GE Exxon Halliburton) with the The Xian Reich-Wing and wiping out the Working Class all at once ~ ObamaNationInc is as much if not more of a danger to Liberty than GW. He's a slimey Neo-lib.
i'll never forget throwing up on the base of that heinous marker for the Warrior Culture.
Capitalism is the problem ~ Nationalize Energy, Banking, Big AG, health care and transportation.
The Revolution will not be Televised

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