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December 15, 2010


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Ed Howard

It's pretty funny (read: crushingly depressing) how whenever you hear terms like "centrism" and "compromise" bandied around in the US, what it really means is embracing the values of the right. It's getting to the point where there's very little genuine voice for even the most moderate forms of leftism in the government - which hasn't done anything to stop the Republicans from labeling the Democrats, en masse, as socialists and extremists. I'm so disgusted with politics in this country.


Since I’m sure that you could guess I disagree, allow me to just chime in to say that I so totally disagree with you. I hope that No Labels is more about maybe coming up with some answers to problems that we haven’t heard yet. For example, I doubt there is a single federal issue where I couldn’t predict what side of it you’re on, and same for Glenn Beck. Talk about two objects equidistant from each other. We all know the problems, and we all know where you guys stand on the answers. Check and stalemate. So, I’m for any group that might be interested in suggesting an alternative to this same old, same old. Like the Left and the Right, No Labels will probably come up short, but I’ve gotta support the effort.

And while I’m at it, and knowing the focus of this blog has changed, I’m still surprised that you didn’t touch on what I thought was a rather important move: http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/12/07/128836.html So much for nation building.

Also, 81-19 in the senate is pretty overwhelming. Told ya so. When’s the last time a senate vote was this big on a budget issue? Now, if the House Dem’s can get a few amendments passed, I’d love to see what the conference committee finalizes. There is hope… okay, just a little.

And I dare 99 to pop out one more lefty poll to cover for you. It's getting tired.


In all the years you've been commenting here, RLewis, Parabasis has been a left-wing, Democratic blog. But your incredibly vicious slur here against Isaac (that he's as poisonous or extreme as Glenn Beck) actually proves the point that he's making in the post! The chattering classes love to take a hard right crazy (e.g. Glenn Beck) etc. and then posit that a moderate lefty Democrat(e.g. Howard Dean -- or Isaac) is somehow the exact opposite, which is patently false, but leads to the conclusions that standard issue right-wing positions are "centrist." I'm sure 99 can pull up any number of polls to show you why that's wrong, but given your nastiness here, I wouldn't recommend that he waste any time.


Also, I think Glenn Beck is probably less predictable than I am, on account of the fact that he's crazy, and therefore who knows what he's going to think about anything. I mean, this is the guy who claimed that he was lierally (not figuratively) poisoned by liberalism (not liberals):

Me, I'm pretty much a down-the-line Scandanavian style social democrat, minus all that nasty nationalism. Where I get somewhat center-left is that I understand institutional reasons why change is slow, even tho it upsets me. There are many issues where I'm further to the left of the median elected Democrat in the House, and some where I'm not. And that's not counting a whole host of issues where I'm not sure where I stand (including, I might add, the Democratic efforts to defeat the Tax Compromise).

What I'm more mystified by is that the idea that Rlewis could predict where I stand on an issue somehow invalidates my opinion, rather than any kind of analysis of whether or not that position is correct, given the evidence, history etc. involved.

So for example: I think No Labels is a sham because it's entirely made up of Right Wingers, or at least, what people would've thought of as Right Wingers in about 1992. They are a center right political advocacy group made of slavishly pro-business, pro-war politicians. This is how centrism is being defined, and because "centrism" as a term is meaningless and lacks both a constituency and any kind of guiding ideology, I think we should just call them what they are: pro-business, pro-war Right Wingers.

RLewis says that he disagrees, but there's no evidence offered that my estimation of who makes up this organization is wrong. Which is because it isn't (wrong, that is.)

So yes, my opinion of No Labels might be predictable, but who cares?


Oh please. Comparing anyone to Glenn Beck is not an "incredibly vicious slur". I'll bet that I like IB more than most who comment on this blog, so you're just making it impossible to debate an issue if you're gonna call out a disagreement as a technical foul; and really, aren't you just proving my point by coping the same kind of ‘tude that a Righty would? Not even IB considers himself a “moderate Lefty”. We, IB included, do the same thing they do over on the Right (although R Maddow would be proud of you for not believing it).

And GB may be figuratively "crazy", but he's not literally crazy no matter how much it'd help your ideas to paint him so. Crazy like a fox maybe. Wrong, for sure. It's the same as all who called W stupid. You don't get to be president (twice) being stupid, esp' if your ideas are that wrong. He’s a lot of bad things, but our belief that he is stupid is probably one of the big reason we couldn’t defeat him.

And if IB is mystified that I didn’t do the political analysis on this issue, then he hasn’t been following my comments on this blog for over 5 yrs – I almost never comment on anything but theater. There’s not much of that left anymore, so maybe I got bored, but doing analysis has never been my thing, and that shouldn’t mystify anyone.

But… I did look at the NL members, and although there are a lot of business owners (like myself and whoever owns this blog), it sure doesn’t look like a house of “pro-war” types. I mean, Daisy Khan? Cari Shane? Will Marshall? Come on. The evidence that IB’s estimation of who makes up this organization is wrong is here: http://nolabels.org/about-us/founding-leaders/ and here http://nolabels.org/about-us/citizen-leaders/ And now I hate you for making me do that. Lol.

I will not say that IB has slurred me, but I might be a centrist, a liberal one, so there is at least a constituency of one, and I am not meaningless despite his implying that. So, we’ve all been equally slurred now – did it solve anything?


In the interests of time, RLewis, let me instead of debating you point by point (although if you'd like to, we can do that) give you an example of what I'm talking about.

Go read No Labels' issue primer on the deficit. You can find it here:

In this document, they do the following:
-- List only center-right (The SImpson Commission) and far right wing (the Ryan roadmap) plans for balancing the budget, ignoring the multiple plans put out by left wing think tanks
-- Lay the groundwork for committing serious harm against social security
-- Tacitly support the Bush tax cuts

Those are all Right Wing Positions, here's what they don't do:
-- Actually propose any kind of concrete steps to take
-- Actually full-throatedly endorse any specific positions

This is US "Centrism" in a nut-shell. Tacitly throw your weight behind a bunch of Republican positions without actually having the courage to come right out and say it, as it would give the game away.

It's worth noting that on their issues pages, they routinely cite the Washington Post's largely Right Wing editorial and op-ed pages to support their points.

Similarly, their energy policy section recommends no actual policies under its "policy recommendations" page, instead it farms it out to a series of center and far-right wing think tanks. These (naturally) focus largely on research and innovation solutions. They do not link to any stand-alone left-wing environmental think tanks, but this is what passes for balance today. Nor do they talk about the hard truth: American energy consumption is not going to change unless carbon consumption becomes more expensive. A carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program hold out the best hope for curbing emissions in the short term, and both would raise much-needed revenue to balance the budget.

They seem to have no positions on national security policy. I guess they don't think that's an important issue?

my point is simply that No Labels follows the pattern of "centrism." As I said before, the word is vague and "centrists" have neither a constituency nor an ideology. As a result, this website is filled with a bunch of milquetoast that also advocates for right wing positions.

The only section that actually seems to take a stand on anything is the Electoral Reform section. In this section, I will say, I mainly agree with what they're talking about.

These guys are a right wing political advocacy group with a handful of heterodox opinions. What they stand for is, basically, a less batshit insane form of Republicanism, the Republicanism of, say George HW Bush rather than his son. I don't begrudge him that, but let's just call them what they are.


It's like the "centrists" are just the Tea Party in tweed and horn-rimmed glasses, smoking a pipe. They want the exact same policy decisions as the Republican Party; they just don't want you to say mean things about them.

Any possibility of this group having any credibility was lost for me when they included "civility." Sorry I don't have a poll, but Ta-Nehisi Coats has a great piece on the history of our "civil" discourse: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/12/civility/68132/

The cry for civility seems like a longer version of "STFU, DFHs. The grown-ups are talking about you."


I think for someone to not believe that comparing someone to Glenn Beck as a way of critiquing them is a slur, one would have to believe either that Glenn Beck isn't a vile figure, or that the person being critiqued is "just as bad in the other direction." That's the false equivalence that's being critiqued here and, by engaging in it, you're reinforcing the point that Isaac is making, although you're clearly unaware.

I wasn't aware that you were a small business owner, RLewis? Do you have another enterprise besides Peculiar Works? Because I thought that was a non-profit, which would not have an "owner."


Ya know, I like IB's comments and appreciate the honest discussion even though I don't agree with it all... some, but not all. Heck, I've already said the No Labels will probably fail, but I can appreciate an effort to find consensus (not bipartisanship, which I think is a fallacy) without telling others what to think (with lots of crap policy papers, etc.). It's too bad the center-left didn't come up with the NL idea first, but we all seem to ignore here that we LOST the last election... big-time.
But as for the other comments - it's unfortunate. Wacky tweed and pipe crap kills any debate, and it's just beyond credulity that No Labels is the same as the Tea Party. And although Glenn Beck is more equivalent to Ed Schultz than IB, (and O'Reilly = Olberman, Hannity = Maddow, etc. - they're entertainers for god's sake.), to say that my theater company is not my business (because of some technical distinction between for-profit vs. not-profit) is really splitting the finest of hairs. And what fun is that? It's just snide and did nothing to advance the discussion.
Gosh, I never expected to go this far on such a minor topic, and I'll do my best not to do it again, but sadly, I really hope we're finished here.


Hey RLewis,

I'm actually MORE interested in talking about the whole non-profit vs. small business thing than anything else right now, because actually I don't think it's hair-splitting, or rather I don't think it should be, but in this contemporary age, that's what it's become.

The idea of a Non-Profit organization is that it isn't owned by anyone. Its employees serve it and it in turn serves a community... in a theatre company's case, that community is generally a community of theatre goers and it serves them by, you know, putting on good productions of plays.

A small business, on the other hand, exists for totally different reasons. There it is owned by someone, and has customers, and it exists ultimately not to serve but to generate revenue for the people who own it.

The problem is these days (and this was the source of much of the argument between me and many of the folks over at 2AMT) is that now a non-profit is simply conceptualized as a business that has a different revenue model. In other words, you are correct to some extent that it's just hair splitting but that, to me, is exactly the problem. The differences between the two were supposed to be major. BUt now we're supposed to say "oh, the market will bear $120 tickets, so let's charge it," or "we can get enhancement money from Cameron MacIntosh to do a stripped down Les Mis, so let's program it."

I'm not saying you're doing those things. Lord knows, you've been in the indie theatre game keeping it real for a lot longer than I have! I'm just saying I think that's where the distinction Mark's talking about is coming from.

I'm curious as someone who has been in that game for awhile as to what your thoughts on it are.

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