A Rudderless Ship: The Left’s Betrayal of Obama and Women

Dec 27 2010 Published by under Featured News

The Assange Wikileaks affair has engendered outrage and anger from the Right and it is expected that super-patriot Conservatives would rail against him for exposing America as anything but exceptional. If nothing else, Conservatives are united, consistent, and predictable in their opposition to perceived anti-Americanism, and that includes their relentless criticism of President Obama.

Conservatives can also be counted on to consistently oppose women’s rights, and Republicans are notorious for voting against women’s interests as a matter of course. That being said, one expects the left to be the polar opposite of the dogmatic right, but recent events have proven that many on the left are no different than single-minded right-wing-nut-jobs.

The president’s tax deal caused the left to explode with rage inciting some to call for a replacement candidate to run against him in 2012. Regardless that the deal included extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans, assistance for college, or that every American got a tax cut, the left fixated on the wealthy tax cuts. The compromise was not ideal and Obama said his focus was helping all Americans, but it didn’t matter to the idealistically fractured left because the group’s laser-sharp focus was on the wealthy tax cuts. The loudest protests came from MSNBC’s Beckian pundits who railed for days on end about Obama abandoning his base.

It is disgusting to hear Progressives and Liberals abandon their president because he didn’t fulfill their every whim regardless that he made a difficult choice to help the entire nation. One expects the left to think critically and look at issues from a broader perspective than those on the right, but there was little objectivity from the left and their criticism sounded like right-wing-nut-jobs and teabaggers they mock and deride.

When Assange released diplomatic cables on Wikileaks, the Left’s reaction was fairly predictable although some called for his head like their counterparts on the right. But when it came to light that two women in Sweden accused Assange of sexual misconduct, many on the left abandoned reason and showed their intolerant misogynistic true colors. Apparently where women are concerned, there is no discernible difference between the left and the right.

The amount of vitriol from left-wing teabaggers concerning women is shocking and absolutely despicable. Without knowledge of the particulars of the rape charges lodged against Assange, many on the left lashed out at the women as “honeypots” and accused them of being lackeys for the CIA. There is little doubt that many governments would like to muzzle Assange, and many on the right branded him a terrorist and some called for his assassination. But the Left’s attack on the two women demonstrates their disposition toward women is no better than the right’s.

The chauvinism expressed on the Internet and particularly this site proves that women are still held in contempt for speaking out against a man who sexually assaulted them. Instead of waiting to hear details, or a court proceeding, the women in the Assange case have not been treated as victims, but as vindictive feminists worthy of character assassination. It would be one thing if at trial the women confessed to setting up Assange for profit or favors from the CIA, but to find fault with them before any details are known shows that the left is still influenced by the male dominated society that devalues women.

Liberals and Progressives are supposed to be critical thinkers and models of objectivity, but that is an epic mischaracterization. Instead of waiting for facts, many saw that two women charged a man with sexual misconduct and immediately attacked them as if they were criminals.

Some comments on this site were shocking and not what one would expect from liberals just like it is unexpected that they attacked Obama for being a sellout. Obviously the enlightened left is rife with misogynists who accuse women for being victims. The timing of the charges is suspicious, but the instantaneous reaction that the women are at fault reeks of male chauvinism and is unexpected from the left. However, much like Obama’s tax deal, the left’s response and willingness to malign the women exposed them as little more than teabaggers who are Democrats.

Liberals who are critical before hearing facts of an issue are reminiscent of the Fox News crowd who worship Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin; the difference is they worship MSNBC and Keith Olbermann.  The attacks on Sarah Jones for her prescient, unbiased article were sickening and what one expects from the most ardent RWNJ. Sadly, many who read the article saw the word rape and automatically responded with anti-feminist rhetoric aimed at Ms. Jones and labeled Assange’s accusers as honeypots.

Perhaps the Liberals and Progressives who criticized Ms. Jones and the Swedish women have no mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, or grandmothers, or perhaps they have no compassion for anything except their single-minded pet issues. It is impossible to respect the left who have attacked the president and women before hearing the details of an issue. The idea of critically analyzing Obama’s tax compromise or the Assange affair escapes many on the left, and distinguishes them as left wing teabaggers; they should be ashamed.

However, they are not ashamed, and once the details and final results of the 111th Congress were revealed, the left celebrated President Obama’s accomplishments without any mention of their displeasure from two weeks ago. No one knows how the Assange rape charges will play out, but the left has exposed itself as misogynistic and biased against women. Progressives and Liberals must be proud of themselves for their wavering support of President Obama and women’s rights. It is easy to predict that when the facts are in, the Left will arrogantly claim they are the segment who was on the right side of the issue regardless the outcome. One thing is certain; the right is consistent in their ideological positions, and right or wrong, they stick to their guns. Liberals and Progressives though, abandon their core beliefs to fit the news of the day and it is just one reason Republicans and their conservative base control the narrative on every issue.

It is time for the left to go to the dark side and join the teabaggers, or lose their arrogance and start working together by critically analyzing issues and using their famed objectivity to rebuild what little integrity they once possessed. As of late, they have shown neither objectivity nor integrity whether it is their condemnation of President Obama’s tax compromise or misogynistic attacks on Sarah Jones and two Swedish women for no other reason than they are women.

31 responses so far

Why Progressives are Wrong About Julian Assange

Dec 23 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

Since when is the definition for somebody who opposes rape “radical feminist”? Wouldn’t a better and far more accurate term be “decent human being”?

I think so. But that seems to be the consensus among progressives : that those who attack Australian-born whistle-blower Julian Assange are radical feminists, and I suppose by definition then, not really progressives, as if you can’t be both.

And I think a great divide has been exposed by the controversy surrounding the accusations laid against Julian Assange – namely, rape.

The divide I am talking about is that between politics and morality. You can like someone’s politics without approving of their behavior and one should not be tied to the other. When you start to defend somebody’s behavior because you like their politics, it’s difficult to tell whether the tail is not wagging the dog.

Progressives see Assange as a hero. Many of them have ended up siding with him at the expense of the woman he is said to have raped, and by extension, all women. All the old excuses have resurfaced: why did she stay with him, why didn’t she report him, blah, blah, blah. It could not have, given those things, been rape.

As it happens, the left has been split by this situation. Feminists are now at odds with progressives, and rightly so.

Rape is wrong. Period.

Being a counter-culture hero does not excuse it.

For people to whom Assange is a hero there is no limit to suspicion and paranoia. Is it a CIA plot? Are the rape charges coming to light merely in response to his work with WikiLeaks? The timing is suspicious. Michael Moore has defended Assange – he even put up $20,000 in bail money and said the rape inquiry was “stink[ing] to the high heavens”:

This whole thing stinks to the high heavens…. They go after people with this kind of lie and smear…. What they say he did… his condom broke during consensual sex; that is not a crime in Britain. This is all a bunch of hooey, as far as I’m concerned. The man has at least a right to be out of prison while awaiting his hearing.

Keith Olbermann has too, making clear that he also questioned the charges; he even suspended his Twitter account because of the outrage over his interview with Moore. Both are progressives. Both are themselves heroes to many.

Some have called Olbermann’s apology (made 15 hours before suspending his account) a non-apology:

Rape has touched my family, directly and savagely, and if anybody thinks I have addressed it without full sensitivity, then that assessment is the one that counts, and I apologize. But these accusations that I “revealed” an accuser’s identity by retweeting Bianca Jagger’s link, or that I ‘shamed’ an accuser by asking a question about the prosecution of a man governments are trying to bury, or that I do not ‘understand’ charges that have yet to be presented in their final form, reflect exactly the kind of rushing to judgment of which I’m accused, and merit the same kind of apology I have just given.

The sense of it seems to be that rape isn’t really important as long as Assange is engaged in what is seen by progressives as very important work in exposing government lies and cover-ups.

One has to wonder how they would feel if we were talking about their sisters and daughters. Would politics still trump morality?

Tigerbeatdown.com has led the charge against Moore, accusing him of “rape apologism” and I cannot argue with the reasoning. I am more than a little disappointed that progressives can’t seem to separate two very different issues, exposing government secrets and raping women.

If the right-wing often seems unaware of moral standards and ethics, it now seems the left-wing has no moral high ground to stand upon when they utter their denunciations. This, to me, is just another symptom of ideology run amok.

I for one will not marry my morality to ideology. Praise Assange if you feel you must for exposing government secrets but condemn him for rape if he is guilty instead of making defenses for his behavior based on your support of his politics. The two have nothing to do with one another.

Anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty but right now I would no more trust a jury of progressives to look dispassionately at the case than I would a jury of conservatives.

Are political centrists the only sane people left on the planet?

Finally, I wanted to say a word about attacks and criticisms leveled here against PoliticusUSA’s Sarah Jones, a fellow writer and editor. I am astounded that a charge of “feminist” (as a pejorative no less!) immediately attaches itself to her and moreover, invalidates any points made, however sound the logic. It is as if feminism is a poison pill that automatically kills any argument made, but neither conservative Ultra Patriotism™ nor Progressive hero-worship bear the same stigma. Why is feminism to be discounted, but no other bias, if indeed feminism is a bias?

Why are so many people afraid of feminism? Indeed, why are so many people willing to kill mothers for the sake of fetuses and to let women be raped for the sake of heroism in exposing government secrets? I confess I don’t understand. Why does one thing become irrelevant because of another? Does right or wrong change as a matter of convenience? Does it sometimes apply, and sometimes not? Is it now one thing, and now another?

In the end, there are those who will devalue Assange no matter what because of what he has done politically and there are those who would overvalue him for what he has done politically, as though that has anything to do with what he might have done to a woman. I am not going to argue the rights and wrongs of WikiLeaks because it is irrelevant to the discussion. We must look at the two issues as being completely separate because they are two separate issues. It’s a shame that so many progressives and conservatives seem unable to see the forest for the trees.

25 responses so far

President Obama’s Tax Compromise Passed by Congress

President Obama and Republican Leaders

On Thursday, the unthinkable (to many progressives) happened: Congress passed the tax cuts, a compromise deal which includes an $801 billion package of tax cuts and $57 billion for extended unemployment benefits. The bill will extend the Bush tax cuts for two years (all of the tax cuts) and provide for a one-year payroll tax cut for most American workers.The extends for two years all of the Bush-era tax rates and provides a one-year payroll tax cut for most American workers.

As FOX News relates,

Workers’ Social Security taxes would be cut by nearly a third, going from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent, for 2011. A worker making $50,000 in wages would save $1,000; one making $100,000 would save $2,000.

Many progressives see this as a betrayal. The Republicans, rightly or wrongly, have been accused of holding unemployment benefits and taxes for the Middle Class hostage in exchange for helping out their rich friends. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, for example, leveled the accusation that Democrats were forced “to pay a king’s ransom in order to help the middle class.” Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) said it was “craziness” and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) said “This legislation creates too few jobs and too much debt.”

The final vote?  277 to 14 with nearly identical numbers of Republicans and Democrats voting “aye”: 139 Democrats and 138 Republicans. The Senate had previously approved the package 81 to 19 on Wednesday.

There was an attempt to change an estate-tax provision in the bill (one that Obama had previously agreed to in his negotiations with the Republicans) but even after that failed, 139 Democrats voted for it as opposed to 112 against.

Two years, of course, will bring us right to 2012, when the future of the tax cuts will become more important than ever in the midst of a presidential election. This is not the last we will hear of the matter by any means. Some Republicans would like to see the tax cuts made permanent. Since tax cuts for the rich demonstrably do not create jobs, this position will be a tough sell for Republicans, particularly if the groundswell of opposition swings the other way at the end of the next two years, and it is the Republicans who find themselves under attack for perceived failings.

It is obvious to many people that the economic stability of our nation is at stake and that this deal is not going to fix those problems. It is no more than a finger in the dyke.

For now, the New York Times reports that administration officials say President Obama will sign the bill into law today.

This moment marks both a way forward and signals a lack of progress. Cooperation and compromise are essential facets of government in a modern liberal Democracy like ours and the willingness of Republicans to compromise at last should take center stage over what is seen as President Obama’s capitulation to Republican demands. The President has governed as a centrist and he did what a responsible president would do. Rather than stand on principle and make people suffer, he made a deal.

Rather like the framers of the Constitution back in 1787, none of whom got everything out of that deal they wanted and the New York Times tells us “The White House and Republicans hailed the deal as a rare bipartisan achievement and a prototype for future hard-bargained compromises in the new era of divided government.”

FOX News called it “a remarkable show of bipartisanship.” Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), called it “a bipartisan moment of clarity.”

And so it is.

Progressives, like their Republican opponents, seem of late to have forgotten that lesson. To stand on ideological purity and refuse compromise while the country crumbles around you is not an admirable thing, however they frame it. Government needs to continue to govern. In a sense, a politician hasn’t the luxury of principles, and that includes the president.

Ideological purity is for dictatorships.

For the first time in two years we have seen government function as it should. And if nobody got everything they wanted out of it, so be it. That’s how it works. That is how it has always worked. Sometimes one side gets more, sometimes the other. As House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said, “There probably is nobody on this floor who likes this bill. The judgment is, is it better than doing nothing? Some of the business groups believe it will help. I hope they’re right.”

In this case, most Republican opposition centered around the creation of additional federal debt, but most of them voted for it anyway. Of course, Republicans did not get everything they wanted either.

Political reality suddenly meant something again to the arrogant GOP, as Eric Cantor (R-VA) was forced to remind his colleagues:

“We could try to hold out an pass a different tax bill, but there is no reason to believe the Senate would pass it or the president would sign it if this fight spills into next year.”

It remains to be seen if Democrats and Republicans can find other ways to work together, other areas in which compromise is a possibility, such as repeal of DADT and the DREAM Act, an amnesty program for illegal aliens who came to the United States as minors. There are things the Republicans will want and things the Democrats will want and the current balance of power does not grant to either the ability to pass that legislation without regard for the opinions of the other.

If anything at all is to get done for the next two years, this will not be the only compromise. In the end, both the achievement of bipartisanship in the face of ideological purity and the continuing problems (and its root causes) must be underscored. Fingers in dykes won’t make the flood on the other side of the wall go away. That deluge remains, waiting to sweep us all away. The question is, can our two major political parties stop their bickering long enough to fix it?

4 responses so far

Regulation to Left of Me; Regulation to Right of Me

Nov 11 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d & thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
- Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade

Picture those cannon as regulation and that’s probably in a nutshell how many of us feel about life in the early 21st century. But be warned: I’m pulling no punches; I’m telling it like it is as long as there is no regulation to stop me. If you don’t like this approach, stop reading now and flip over to FoxNews.com. Ready?

Ultra-conservatives think sperm is the enemy.  Ultra-liberals think it is high fructose corn syrup or saturated fat. Ultra-conservatives want to protect us from sperm and ultra-liberals want to protect us from high fructose corn syrup and saturated fact. Interestingly, they have the same recipe: abstinence.

This is a problem for me. I’m talking about extreme positions. Take Vegans and their anti-meat-eater rants.  I’ve got no problem with vegetables or people eating vegetables. I don’t even have a problem with people not eating meat. I do have a problem with people telling me what I can and can’t do with my sperm, and I have a problem with people telling me what I can and can’t eat.

Extremes are always a bit fascist, don’t you think? There is always a healthy dose of “don’t do this” involved. Choice is always taken from you. And this is a fault, I argue, both of the extreme left and of the extreme right. They both want to tell us what we can’t do. And what we can.

And as it turns out, there isn’t much.

You hear a lot of talk about the evils of big government and federal regulations but damned if both groups don’t like a healthy dollop of regulation as well. Ultra-conservatives want the government to regulate our sex lives and ultra-liberals want the government to regulate what we can eat. As it happens, I’m a believer in freedom of choice.

I am not an opponent of regulation. Regulation is necessary and our Founding Fathers recognized it as such. The government can and does protect us in many ways. We have the EPA to protect the environment, the FDA  to protect our food supplies and medications, the USDA also address matters of food safety, but also natural resources. And there are others. Without government regulation of any kind, we’d be in a lot of trouble. Look at Wall Street; look at the Gulf Oil Spill.

The question always becomes “how much is too much?”  Different folks have different standards, and as I’ve said, conservatives, while claiming to be anti-government intrusiveness actually love regulation as long as it’s regulation of morality-based or social issues. Liberals have a different focus.

California seems to be the trend-setter for liberals, whether its fuel efficiency or animal rights or marriage equality. Some of what come out of California, like the latter, is good. I give it my full support. But sometimes I just have to shake my head in wonder.

Now where kids are concerned, I’m a big believer in parental responsibility. I don’t want government or anyone else bringing up my kids. That’s my job as a parent. So if I don’t want them to watch something on TV I won’t let them. If I don’t think it’s a movie they should see, I won’t take them to see it. And if I don’t think it’s something they should eat, I won’t let them eat it.

It’s pretty easy really, and I didn’t need any government interference to get it done.

But conservatives here in town won’t let me buy alcohol on Sunday and liberals in San Francisco won’t let McDonalds put toys in kids’ Happy Meals.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors said Tuesday that Happy Meals just aren’t nutritious enough. They hope other cities will follow their lead. McDonalds says this is government intervention. The Board of Supervisors say McDonalds “entices” children to eat this unhealthy food. They are correct in saying McDonalds is not the best choice out there where health is concerned but it is, after all, a choice. And where are the parents in all this? Do they get a law punishing them next if they let their kids eat McDonalds, or if they buy them a TV dinner and a toy at the grocery store next week?

I mean, most of these kids aren’t buying their own meals, are they? Aren’t usually the parents doing the buying? I am not going to feed my son McDonalds every night but if I want to treat him to a Happy Meal with a toy, that’s between me and McDonalds isn’t it? Just like if I want to let my kid see a PG13, or even an R rated movie, that’s between me and the theater.

For me, this is an extreme sort of reaction. If people simply decline to treat their kids to McDonalds (and themselves), then McDonalds will be forced by market pressures to improve the nutritional quality of their menu. Isn’t that more reasonable? After all, restaurants have to post nutrition guides. It’s not a secret. You can always find out what you’re ingesting if you’re interested. They’re not stuffing their food full of fat and corn syrup they’re not telling you about.

If you don’t like what’s on TV don’t watch it. If you don’t like what’s in the food, don’t eat it.

Seems simple enough to this centrist.

So the Right gives us limits on which body parts we can see and which words we can hear, and the Left gives us limits on how much fat we can eat and how much vegetables we must eat. I don’t like their attitude; neither of them.

Have any of you seen that 1993 classic Demolition Man? It takes place in a city called San Angeles in the year 2032, in what is an over-regulated, rigidly enforced “utopian” society where swearing gets you fined and that has even (finally) defeated the evils of sperm by making all sex virtual sex (no fluid exchange!). Sylvester Stallone’s character is shocked, and so should you be.

San Francisco is apparently eager to become like San Angeles. I’ll decide what I watch. If I want to watch a movie full of heaving bosoms and bare backsides while eating a fatty, drippy hamburger, I’ll by damn do it, and they only way they’re going to stop me is by pulling my McDonalds and my remote from my cold dead fingers.

10 responses so far

A Lesson for Americans: Reaping the Consequences of Hate

We have all heard the old saying, “You reap what you sow.” This lesson was recently learned by an Arkansas school board district member, Clint McCance, vice-president of the Midland School District in Pleasant Plains. Posting on Facebook, McCance said, in response to a campaign sponsored by GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) that people should wear purple to honor suicide victims of anti-gay bullying,

“Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed therselves because of their sin.” (sic)

McCance now realizes he went too far.

“I’m reaping what I’ve sown,” he told CNN. “I’ve had a lot of hate speech thrown at me and my family on every level.”

But it’s not just what McCance said, it’s the underlying beliefs that led to those words he used, and more than that, it’s the underlying beliefs of the people to whom he directed those words: religious bigots.

Now it’s bad enough when somebody wishes ill on somebody else. None of us should do that no matter how much we disapprove of the person or their actions. A favored religion-inspired response is to say “we don’t hate the sinner; we hate the sin” as if that makes everything okay. It doesn’t. And McCance, to his credit, did not fall back on that to explain his own words.

The lesson that must be learned here, by everyone, but especially by Republicans from whom this hate is flowing, is that you do reap what you sow. Actions have consequences. The 2006 election should have taught them that; the 2008 elections should have driven that lesson home: most Americans do not agree with them.

Words spoken have consequences, but all too often people escape those consequences due to political cronyism.

For example, Juan Williams lost his job at NRP but he has a lucrative job with FOX News, which applauds his hate-mongering xenophobia and is now leading a conservative witch-hunt against NPR. And conservative Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of George W. Bush’s disastrous and bloody Iraq strategy, after his misdeeds at the World Bank had, in Paul Krugman’s words, “a chair waiting for him at the American Enterprise Institute,” a conservative think tank.

Sometimes, what is reaped is a reward by those for who hate mongering is a lucrative business. Sadly, that includes at this point in our nation’s history one of our two main political parties, the corporate-funded GOP, and the conservative billionaire-funded Astroturf movement known as the Tea Party. American politics have become all about hatred and xenophobia. With the aftermath of Katrina we learned that what was most important to Republicans was apportioning blame. What we have learned since is that what is most important is identifying the constructed Other and then blaming them.

For purposes of conservative rhetoric, the constructed Other is anything other than a white conservative Christian. This makes target acquisition easy: anyone can be a target, from liberals (Ann Coulter) to progressives (Glenn Beck) to feminists and pagans (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell) to gays and lesbians (too many to count) to atheists (George H.W. Bush and many others), to immigrants (too many to count), to Muslims (Sharron Angle, Judson Phillips and others), to people who ask questions (Sarah Palin, Joe Miller). All these groups are somehow responsible for destroying the America these conservatives claim once existed and that they want back.

Never mind for a moment that this America never existed. Give it time. They will soon have school books reflecting an ideologically approved revision of history. What is important is that everyone is the enemy, everyone is a potential witch. And it is not only individuals, not even ordinary people like you and me (Lauren Valle, Tony Hopfinger). It is politicians (Vice President Al Gore, Senator John Kerry, Keith Ellison, Barack Obama); it is non-profit organizations (ACORN); it is NPR, which had the courage to take a stand against the hate-mongering and xenophobia; It is the government of the United States; it is the Constitution itself.

We have all been identified as the enemy. We have all of us, because we fail to support the conservative vision of an America that never existed, who have been accused of treason and labeled traitors. But you can’t be guilty of treason against something which does not exist.

Sometimes, as in the case of McCance, the guilty party recognizes he went too far. More often than not, when they are called out, they act like they never said it (Bachman, Angle); they are being persecuted unfairly (Palin, Angle, Bachman, O’Donnell, et al) and that they are the victims, just as it is the bullies in school who are the real victims, not the kids they force to commit suicide. You won’t see any of these people apologizing or recognizing consequences.

Others, like McCance, do, however sincere the apology may or may not be. For example there is Wisconsin GOP candidate for lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who in a recent radio interview said that gay marriage is to be compared to marrying clocks and dogs.

She has since apologized, saying,

“My comments were meant to relay my concern with redefining marriage. I never intended to sound insensitive, and have the utmost respect for all people. I apologize for my poor choice of words.”

On the other hand, there is Tony Perkins, who says that gay teens commit suicide because they know they are abnormal (and your bigoted words would have nothing to do with them coming to believe that, would it, Tony?).

And there is Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas who has somehow come to the belief (remember, he’s from Texas) that that Republicans “can’t compromise on principle.” What principles are Gohmert speaking of, you ask?

Right Wing Watch reports that,

Gohmert, who recently said that God has ordained Christians to run the country, sounded a similar theme on today’s call. He said God gives the sword to government to punish evil, and urged “true Romans 13-believing Christians” to understand that America’s founders set things up so that the people are the government. “We are given the sword in this country.” He told them that God had blessed American Christians and that they’re expected to use the sword of government and hire (elect) servants (public officials) “to do what we tell them.”

The politics of hate are all around us, fueled by right-wing religious fanatics, our own Taliban, and sad to say, it is us, far less often them, who will reap the consequences of what they have sown. But we too bare responsibility when we go to the polls on November 2. If you don’t want to be a victim, don’t be. Don’t put these people in power. Don’t worry about God doing the right thing for America. YOU do the right thing for America.

15 responses so far

The GOP Wants a Return to the Gilded Age. Do You?

Oct 16 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

The Gilded Age

During the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, there was a great deal of money to be made. A class of men known as tycoons became insanely wealthy and a sharp divide grew between the haves and have-nots in American society. In an age that embraced ideas of social Darwinism, the rich came to believe that they deserved to be rich, that by the act of being rich they were better than everyone else; not only in the sense that wealth made them better but in that being better made them wealthy. Those who were poor, under- or un-employed or starving on the streets deserved their lot in life. They were poor because they were inferior.

The Gilded Age was the starting point of the Progressive movement in America, and is it any surprise? It was a time when women had no rights, blacks had no rights, workers had no rights, an age when children were worked to death in horrible conditions, and adults too. The common people had no remedy, no retirement, no health insurance, no laws to protect them from the awful conditions of their lives, lives made more brutal by the rapacity of the rich tycoons who literally lorded it over them from mansions that still inspire awe today.

In his book, Age of Betrayal, Atlantic senior editor Jack Beatty presents this dark side of the Gilded Age. As The Atlantic says of his book,

The industrialization of the country, which brought so much wealth to so few, left most of the rest struggling to get by as wage laborers, working for someone else in the factory or on the farm. And wealth influenced and co-opted the government at all levels, through unregulated campaign contributions, vote buying, and similar machinations.

It’s not a pretty picture. Beatty emphasizes “the grinding poverty, the bloody racial hatred, the violent labor strikes, and the corrupt politics that also characterize that era.” The similarities to our own age are clear: “once again a yawning gap has opened between rich and poor, and political influence is available for the taking by anyone willing and able to pay.”

This is the world the complete lack of regulation created. This is the world Republicans would have us return to.

It was in the wake of this era that businesses came together at the invitation of President Taft and created the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The government used to work closely with the corporations. You might say the corporations owned the government. The corporations liked it this way. They made money, they got rich, and the government helped them do it, allegedly in the interest of the United States.

Beatty points out the William Jennings Bryan changed all that.

Breaking with the sterile anti-statism of his party, Bryan said that government should be active on behalf of the people. That’s the turn in the Democratic party. Essentially, Wilson, FDR, Truman, and the rest followed where Bryan led. Government should act to protect the people against private power, through anti-trust. It should act with old-age pensions, and with workers’ compensation, and the like. Bryan is often rendered as a backward-looking pastoralist. But in fact, he began modern politics, because he introduced the populist impulse into the Democratic party—the idea that government should support the people.

The corporations didn’t like this. They never did. It was about them, they said. They somehow inserted themselves into the Founding documents as “We the Corporations” and now the Supreme Court has even ruled that like us, corporations are people. It is now legal to buy elections; it is even legal to do it with foreign money. The corporations fought tooth and nail against the progressive movement and they are fighting still, and they seem to be turning the tables on us.

Unregulated capitalism gave us the evils of the Gilded Age. Unregulated capitalism gave us the crash of 2008 that has left not just America, but much of the world, reeling. This is the Republican promise: more rape of America and of the American people so that a few rich people can get richer, so that corporations can ignore regulation or even by the votes to have it cast aside, so that they can do whatever they want to whomever they want to get richer. Be damned to the planet and to the people who live on it. Answerable to no one, they will foist a new Gilded Age upon us.

US Chamber of Commerce: A Monument to the Gilded Age

And the Chamber of Commerce would ease their way. Look at some of the backward-looking stances taken by that body:

  • Pro-Social Security Reform
  • Pro-Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Drilling
  • Pro-Offshore Oil Drilling
  • Pro-Nuclear Power
  • Against taxation increase on businesses
  • Against many union-supported polices

These are all stances that should chill the heart of any American who believes in equality and in the rights of the common people. These are all policies that serve the rich and the rich alone, that serve to widen the gap between rich and poor and to consolidate power (and government) in the hands of a few.

And Glen Beck is the Chamber’s big supporter. According to Media Matters,

This week, Fox News host Glenn Beck joined News Corp. as a major backer of the Chamber of Commerce: Beck’s call for donations to the Chamber on the October 14 edition of his radio show earned him on-air praise from the group’s top brass and drove so much traffic to the Chamber’s contribution website that it crashed.

Apparently an adherent of the view that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” so-called populist warrior Beck implored his audience to fork over their hard-earned cash to corporate darling Chamber of Commerce, “just because the Obama administration hates them.”

The Gilded Age was a pretty awful time unless you were that top 1% of the population. Things were great for them. They could legally rape the rest of us – and they did. And they want to again. And the Republicans want to enable them. The Party of Big Business, they want to re-introduce us to the world our forefathers knew, a world where our betters could use us into the grave to line their pockets. They get their Golden Parachutes; we don’t even get a retirement.

That’s the world they want. Is it the world you want?

17 responses so far

Is the Two-Party System Best for America?

Sep 29 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Some Americans are unhappy with the two-party system, notably the Libertarians, who feel excluded. They feel, not unreasonably, that the two existing parties – Republicans and Democrats – conspire to keep them (and any other third party) out of power; that the system is rigged. They insist on the necessity of a third party. Other Americans respond with horror. The idea of the two-party system has become sacrosanct, as though the Founders themselves had ordained it or enshrined it in the Constitution.

But does the idea of a third political party have merit? Would a three-party system better serve American liberal democracy?

First a few facts are in order. The two-party system is not enshrined in the Constitution. In reality, the Founding Fathers viewed the creation of political parties with horror. They had somehow imagined that gentlemen would shepherd the new Republic, and that therefore republican political leaders would possess a disinterested character.  An educated gentleman of this type would in theory think of the public good and not of parochial or private concerns. But in the words of historian Gordon S. Wood, “By the 1780s it was obvious to many, including Madison, that “a spirit of locality” was destroying “the aggregate interest of the community.”

So much for the hopes of the Founders, who, it must be admitted, were not themselves completely free of self-interest.

Gentlemen had no need of political parties. Being enlightened they would put the needs of the whole ahead of the needs of the locality.  As Woods says, “Most revolutionary leaders had not foreseen a “new set of folk” emerging in politics” – that is, common folk and artisans and merchants – even simple farmers. Gentlemen did not “conceive of politics as a profession and officeholding as a career.” How different from our own age! Where public offices were once seen as a burden it would be, in Jefferson’s words, “wrong to decline” they are now profitable, entailing not “great private loss” but great private gain.

Washington special interests. There is gold in them there hills. Enlightened disinterest seems to be as dead as dinosaurs and the situation is far worse on the right than on the left. This is not cynicism; there is simply a dearth of evidence to the contrary.

The enlightened gentlemen who were our Founding Fathers did not approve of electioneering. Franklin was proud of not once appearing as a candidate. As Wood puts it, “Showing oneself eager for office was a sign of being unworthy of it, for the office-seeker probably had selfish views rather than the public good in mind.”

After serving, an office holder should want to return to private life like the pagan Romans who were their inspiration. Today, it is a career few willingly abandon, and our system gives certain advantages to incumbents, who stress the experience our Founders saw as a burden as an advantage instead, while challengers charge that incumbents are part of the “establishment” and trumpet their own “outsider” or “maverick” status.

Facts often make a joke of pretensions. The Tea Partiers today claim to desire a return to the “original” idea of America while ignoring the fact of the Constitution, the living evidence of what the Founders wanted and intended – and, significantly, evidence of how compromise works, the compromise Tea Partiers ironically refuse to embrace. And if they truly want a return to the “original” settings, to go back to “default” they should not urge their members to vote Republican but to abandon the idea of political parties altogether. But not one of these challengers does not intend to become part of that establishment themselves, once elected. They have no desire to serve and retire, not after one, not after two terms. They want to make a career out of it, and self-interest most certainly plays a part.

So because the Revolution had unforeseen consequences, we ended up with political parties – two. Some see the two-party system as a strength; as an advantage over the hopelessly fragmented multi-party systems of some European nations. But there are drawbacks as well. For example, multi-party systems force the parties to work together, to form coalitions. The two party system leads to polarization of opposing viewpoints with no room for a more centrist approach.

The real world is too complex to be encompassed by a single line with liberals on the left and conservatives on the right. Other, legitimate, points of view are excluded. The image created is a false one, a picture of a political landscape that does not exist. There are other points of view.

This is, in a nutshell, an image of the American two-party system: Democrats and Republicans – polarity, either/or, one or the other and room for nothing else.

A more realistic image would be a triangle to allow for a proper perspective of where Liberals, Progressives (including socialists and social democrats) and Conservatives stand in relation to one another.

We might even add another point at the bottom to create a diamond and place there Totalitarianism, which, as Timothy Ferris points out, “reflects the fact that liberalism and totalitarianism are opposites, and have an approximately equal potential to attract progressives and conservatives alike.”

As long as both parties were willing to work together, as long as the opposition was a loyal opposition, things were fine. Government continued to function; quid quo pro, not uncompromising purity standards, was the order of the day.

But those rules no longer apply. The Republicans have adopted purity standards that mean their way or the highway. There can be no compromise, no reaching across the aisle, no working together for the common good. They see themselves as the rightful, divinely-ordained rulers of the United States of America and the Democrats as an evil, treasonous usurping force. This development effectively breaks the two-party system.

What are we to do? The United States government has in the face of Republican obstructionism essentially broken down and ceased to function. The gridlock is next to impossible to break. There is no third party to turn to, no potential allies between the aisles, no possible coalition between liberals and centrists. The best that either party can hope for is that our so-called independents vote one way or another, enough so that an unbreakable majority is created.

It is time to abandon the idea that the two-party system is the “way it was supposed to be” because if we did things the way they were supposed to be we’d have no parties at all and no career politicians and the common good would outweigh the private good. We need a little disinterest, and failing that (because it is unlikely as dinosaurs coming back) we need a little willingness to work together, less purity and more compromise – or a third party.

2 responses so far

Glenn Beck Falsely Claims that Nazis Learned Propaganda Use from Progressives

Feb 04 2010 Published by under Featured News

On his radio show today Glenn Beck continued his jihad against intelligence by saying, “The Nazis learned their propaganda from the progressive movement in the United States.” Here is another source for Glenn. Adolph Hitler wrote in Mein Kamph that the Nazis learned the value of propaganda from the British during World War I.

Here is the audio courtesy of Media Matters:

Beck said, “This is something that Woodrow Wilson. The Nazis, the Nazis learned their propaganda from the progressive movement in the United States. Go ahead, blogs right now tear it apart, and then go and read Josef Goebbels diaries, that’s the source, so I know it’s hard, I know it’s really, really hard to claim that, well there are no sources, except the guy who was the main guy for propaganda for Nazi Germany. They learned it from the progressives in America, Woodrow Wilson.”

Since Glenn invited people like me to tear this apart, let’s take a look. In Mein Kamph, Hitler devoted two chapters to use of propaganda. He blamed the German defeat in World War I partially on British propaganda. He went on to adopt many of the British techniques, especially in terms of literature, press, and film for the Nazi movement.

In a speech on propaganda in 1934, Goebbels listed those he viewed as propagandists, ” If the fine gentlemen say: “You are only a propagandist,” the answer is this: “Was Christ any different? Did he not make propaganda? Did he write books, or did he preach? Was Mohammed any different? Did he write learned essays, or did he go to the people and say what he wanted to say? Were not Buddha and Zarathustra propagandists?”

He continued, “True, the philosophers of the French Revolution built their intellectual foundations. But who got things moving? Robespierre, Danton, and the others. Did these men write books, or did they speak in popular meetings? Look around today. Is Mussolini more an author or a great speaker? When Lenin took the train from Zurich to Petersburg, did he repair to his study and write a book, or did he speak to thousands? Fascism and Bolshevism were built by great speakers, by masters of the spoken word! There is no difference between the politician and the speaker. History proves that great politicians were always great speakers: Napoleon, Caesar, Alexander, Mussolini, Lenin, name whomever you want. They were all great speakers and great organizers. If a person combines rhetorical talent, organizational ability, and philosophical ability, if he has the ability to transmit knowledge and to gather people under his banner, then he is a brilliant statesman.”

Beck has taken a right wing talking point, Wilson was a liberal fascist, and tried to tie it to the Nazis and progressives of today. Unfortunately, as with most of Glenn Beck’s claims, this doesn’t hold up under closer examination. The Nazis did not learn many of their propaganda techniques from American progressives, but from the British. Every time Glenn Beck speaks the world gets a little dumber.

37 responses so far

Arianna Huffington Confronts Roger Ailes about Glenn Beck

Jan 31 2010 Published by under Featured News

Fox News president Roger Ailes was on ABC’s This Week today, where he was confronted by Arianna Huffington about the inflammatory rhetoric that Glenn Beck uses on his show. Ailes replied, “He’s talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people so I think he was probably accurate.”

Here is the video courtesy of Media Matters:

Arianna Huffington confronted Ailes, “But Roger it’s not a question of picking a fight and aren’t you concerned about the language that Glenn Beck is using which is after all, inciting the American people. Three’s a lot of suffering out there as you know and when he talks about people being slaughtered, about who is going to be on the next killing spree.”

Ailes said, “He’s talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people so I think he was probably accurate, also I think he speaks English, so I don’t misinterpret any of his words. He did say one of unfortunate thing, which he apologized for, but that happens in live television, so I think if we start going around as the word police in this business it would be.

Huffington fired back by bringing up Hofstadter’s concept of the danger in tapping into the paranoid style of American politics, and Ailes came back with having read a piece on her blog that was a personal attack on him. Huffington replied that it wasn’t written by someone that her site employed.

Notice how Ailes tried to direct the discussion away from Beck’s conspiracy theories and the Obama administration. Ailes wants you to believe that Beck is about historical accuracy, not the fact that he called President Obama a racist. To put this into context Ailes was saying that Beck, who on Friday, called for the rewriting of The Federalist Papers is historically accurate.

By the way, Arianna’s point that the attack on Ailes did not come from one of her employees is pretty weak. If I put something on my website, I stand behind it. If it made it on to her website, then she needs to stop parsing and either admit a mistake in putting it on the site or defend running it.

Beck is not politically, or historically accurate. I know what Ailes was trying to sell, but the point is that when Beck talks about Stalin and Hitler, he always compares the Obama administration to them. Beck’s program is not on the History Channel for a reason. It is a political show, and this sleight of hand defense of Beck does hold up beyond superficial inspection.

5 responses so far

Progressives Continue to Betray Obama and Themselves

Jan 26 2010 Published by under Featured News

Dear Mr. President,

Make this relationship work or ELSE, Buster!

Oh, and by the way, we won’t be helping except to tell you what you did wrong, because that’s the way we roll. When you win a Nobel Peace Prize, we won’t be awed with pride. Nope. We’ll smirk that you didn’t deserve it and then get REALLY pissed when you don’t keep trying to please us. You suck.

When you achieve more legislation in your first year of office than any Post WWII President, we’ll refuse to acknowledge it and search out your flaws, proudly denouncing you to our friends and family—humiliating you so we can look clever and right. And then wonder why you aren’t doing what we want. You suck.

When you can’t get the obstructionists to play and we fail to read up on how our government works (so we can blame you for not closing Gitmo yet, just say), we’ll point our fingers at you with ignorant righteousness. You suck.

We’ll react hysterically to “leaked” stories (which inevitably turn out to be spun incorrectly to generate just such hysteria from us, thereby stabbing our own selves in the back, but make no mistake, this too will be your fault), and then get morally outraged that you haven’t brought “change”! You suck.

We proudly call ourselves the thinking liberals of independent spirit, whilst accusing you of being a sell out, and we’ll use right wing framed talking points from the mainstream corporate media to do it. You suck.

We will do all of this and more, as we know how successful this approach has been in our personal lives. Our marriages and friendships and working relationships thrive on finger pointing and demands, with no attempt on our part to understand the circumstances of the Other.

We will single handedly knife you in the back, as we have all of our other Democratic presidents because we don’t really want to succeed. We want to be right.

We will fall foolishly into the well-marked pit of disaster so worn out from our self-fulfilling prophecies of failure and then blame you. You suck.

When anyone points out that we need to suit up and FIGHT, with our eye on the ball, as any successful winner does, we will snort with derision and spew our rage over your many betrayals, which I may remind you started on Day One of our relationship when you invited Pastor Warren to speak. Yes, we have kept a tally of your many failings. No rose colored glasses here. You suck.

There are rules in a relationship with us. We are the back seat driver you’ve been looking for all of your life, Mr. President. And frankly, we don’t get why you aren’t so enamored of us anymore. You suck.

You do our bidding on every single issue no matter what the stupid rules are in the “government” or we will crumble into fruitless rage expressed on Twitter, FaceBook and various blogs fueled by mainstream media talking points. You suck.

And we’re entitled to all of this, because WE are no rubber stampers! You got that, mister? We are more of a mess than the Teabaggers; we can’t come together on anything and if you can’t make us, well, that is your failing. You suck!

Signed,

Your Angry Majority aka, Your Base

18 responses so far

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