Matt Taibbi on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vs the US political establishment

Originally published at:


"Yet he (Lieberman) somehow still has the stones to opine that if Ocasio-Cortez is the “new face” of the Democrats, the party does not have a “bright future.”

So Joe - how’s your future looking? Thinking of running for dog catcher?


That interview…


One big difference between AOC and Trump is that AOC isn’t running for President. Given the very crowded field for 2020, if AOC starts campaigning hard for one of the candidates she could end up playing kingmaker. Once the establishment realizes this, they might start kissing ass PDQ.


I think even Tiabbi is not giving her enough credit. She has the thorough understanding that things are completely out of whack, and why. She may not be a Jeopardy-quick, photographic-memory trove of legislative trivia, but she has more basic intelligence than most of the Senate combined.
I hope that in the next couple of decades, she wipes the floor with many of our current congressional sponges.


She is already exposing the seedy side of the political establishment in DC. Some standouts for me were:

  • Health Insurance for Representatives cost her less than it did as a bartender (I believe she said 1/3) while salary is $170K. No wonder they don’t think healthcare is expensive or a priority

  • Most Reps spend multiple hours per day on the phone begging for money to get re-elected - meaning they are not actually doing the job they were elected (and we pay them) to do. The fact that she doesn’t have to do this allows her to actually work at the job and attend committees and hearings


The “zero” must be in part 2


Everyone from the Third-Way neoliberal-lite Dem establishment through Joe-mentum, McConnell and the GOP, the free-market fundies and white supremacist pundits and right to the most toxic alt-right comment forum trolls are pissing their pants in fear over her, because she is the charismatic and media-savvy face of the future – a progressive one. And, as she says in the Colbert issue, she DGAF about their opinions.

She knows, as we do, that all the laughter, all the attacks, all the mean-spirited pettiness about her age or her modest means, all of it reeks of terror sweat from those finding themselves on the wrong side of history.


Do you know, in some ways she reminds me of our beloved and much missed Paul Wellstone. I hope that she is very very careful with her transportation arrangements.


AOC is driving the TGOP crazy, and I’m enjoying every second of it.


How many other Democrats would appear on a gaming stream raising money for a transgender charity?


I dunno, dude seemed to do pretty well despite losing the Democratic primary in 2006. I’m pretty sure he quit in 2012 before the new-new left ascended, and after accomplishing his goal of knee-capping the Democratic party.

1 Like

Part 2:


How in god’s name has it taken the Democrats 40 years to produce someone who will go on television and state, plainly and unambiguously, “Republicans are either lying to you about how taxes work or are too damn stupid to understand it themselves. Here’s how this shit actually works.”?


Because greed & power corrupt (absolutely), and then the corrupted become entrenched.

Nothing substantial has changed in the majority of my lifetime (40+ years), because the people in charge on both sides don’t actually want anything to change; the stagnation and misdirection directly benefits them.


While the media narrative around her has been very cult of personality-ish in line with Trump and Sanders. The major difference there is she’s already shown herself to be a lot more savvy. Even selecting to run for the house was a very smart move. Women who get elected to local and state offices tend to get stuck there, getting dismissed as “just a local politician”. But such seats are more achievable and provide that baseline experience in government often needed to gain more important office. House seats run much more like local or regional races, and the House has huge aparatus for getting newly elected members up to speed.

So all those women who ran for House seats were making a very strong move. Jumping right to federal office but avoiding the lack of experience problem/pitch on the level of a Trump. And the competency complaint that tends to follow female politicians. As much as it can be avoided.

She seems to be fully engaged with her caucus, and multiple organizations and politicians, as opposed to just an AOC machine. She’s very good at distilling complex policy down and explaining it to the public without recourse to misrepresentation. And even her big stand, push this issue stuff is more about getting the DNC to put together broad policy slates. For all the " The Establishment is killing the Green New Deal" nonsense, there isn’t a Green New Deal. There’s no bill or slate of bills, she’s basically proposing they put one together and make it a priority. Even the 70% tax is more a specific peg to hang a push for progressive taxation on. Even as the headline proposal it’s a fair bit more complex than “tax rich folks at 70%” and sits right in a band of tax rates ecconomist have pegged as most effective.

So I’d say the real difference between her and Trump or other " outsider" politicians is actual competence and engagement. Rep Ocasio-Cortez isn’t pushing herself for her own sake. She’s doing the actual job, and learning how the job is done.

She’s hardly been the first to point that out. It’s been a common DNC talking point since the push for healthcare reformed started.

It’s also not all that suprising. Restaurant jobs don’t typically come with access to benefits. And the congressional healthcare plan is a pretty big pool.

Most people, if they have insurance at all, purchase insurance through the Obamacare exchanges in food/Bev. For my part during my last job I qualified for the Medicare expansion I was making so little reported income. Most bartenders and servers I know end up with a subsidized plan. But if you’re making a decent rate you’re typically paying the full cost of the plan out of pocket.

Almost any employer provided health plan your contribution would be less than buying a policy right out. Discounting those subsidized plans and Medicare.

That doesn’t mean it’s not fucked, and we shouldn’t point out how fucked it is. And that personal detailed account carries more weight than the typical generalities or “joe voter is a guy I met in Iowa” sort of political anecdotes.

It helps that she had a ecconomics degree. Most politicians are lawyers who specifically trained to enter politics. So they legitimately don’t understand taxes, and have been trained specifically to push an ideology on the subject.


Ocasio-Cortez impresses me anew on a regular basis, with smart, knowledgeable commentary. The establishment better get with it (and behind her) if they want to survive.
Her recent tweets about “gravitas,” in responding to what Sorkin had to say about here were dead on, for instance:

He’s too busy now working as a lobbyist for a company he previously called a threat to US national security. A man of integrity and values, he is.

Every attempt to turn some banal irrelevancy into an issue (“She had a nickname! She danced!”) shows the desperation. When I saw a right-wing cartoonist working really hard to make an ugly caricature of her (which is… not exactly easy), I realized how much she got under their skin.
She’s very effective (and polite, given the circumstances) in saying “here are the issues, fuck your bullshit,” and it’s delightful.


Speaking of power and corruption…


From wiki:
"A survey in October 2010 showed that Lieberman had an approval rating of 31% and that just 24% of Connecticut voters felt he deserved re-election. Lieberman announced on January 19, 2011 that he would retire from the Senate at the end of his fourth term.”


And - hanging with his peeps:

“In March 2013, it was announced that Lieberman would be joining the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank as co-chairman of their American Internationalism Project”

" In early 2017, Lieberman introduced President elect Donald Trump’s nominee as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee. One report on Lieberman’s involvement was critical of him for failing to disclose in his testimony the extensive legal work his Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman law firm had done for Donald Trump since at least as long ago as 2001. The work included bankrupt casino restructuring and, during the 2016 campaign, threatening the New York Times over publication of a few 1995 Trump tax documents."


The level of “scandal” they keep uncovering is truly embarrassing. The goal seems to be to some how reveal that she’s secretly a wealthy white woman? I guess?

And she’s very good at getting up over the implication that’s she’s insufficiently serious or whatever fuck the else they’re trying to do so it’s just own goal after own goal.