Thursday, February 24, 2005


As a new blogger I have been vaguely aware of the Koufax awards process and heartily congratulate the winners.

But I think it is worthwhile to pay special notice to the work of two blogs in particular of late for their yeoman work on Social Security and Gannon-Guckert respectively. They are Josh Marshall's TPM and John Aravosis' AmericaBlog, the latter of which I only recently heard of and added to my blogroll when the WH press scandal began to break.

While TPM was always good, his content was random depending on the day until he emerged to give a lazer beam focus on the issue of Social Security "reform", identifying position stances of elected representatives, calling their offices for comments, picking apart the nuances of their responses and media coverage, chasing down leads as to the origins of the various front groups posing as SS "reformers" and generally providing minute by minute coverage of the administration's efforts to take down the program. He's done a great service in strengthening the forces for protecting the program from its ideological opponents and encouraging a solidification in Democratic responsiveness in Congress and throughout the country.

As to the continuing Gannon scandal, the relentless coverage of John Aravosis (and his fantastic TV appearances) has made this about the most embarassing conservative escapade in recent memory. He's provoked the normally ready for TV, cocky folks at Powerline to sputtering profanities and hissing at their website's passersby like some trapped-in-its-cage, deranged dead-alive character out of Salem's Lot or 28 Days Later. AmericaBlog's efforts have finally caused Ann Coulter to crawl up from her sewer to cry about how everyone in the world who gets into the White House briefing room and gains access to classified materials uses a pseudonym and runs sex-fetish websites, as the spittle flies from her mouth and runs down her chinny-chin-chin.

To TPM and AmericaBlog I express my deepest appreciation and admiration.

How Did This Happen?

As Bulworth has tirelessly flagged for the last three months or so now, liberalism has a bad rep and it needs to be rescusitated if the Democratic Party is going to have a future. I might also add, the redeeming of liberalism is essential for the good of us all, for us to be free and all that. Think I'm exaggerating?

Consider this:

In the last century progressive politics has fought for and given us Social Security, health care for the elderly and the poor, the right of workers to unionize, civil rights, voting protections for minorities, expansion of civil liberties, formal institutions and laws designed to protect workers and consumers from the power of corporations, greater freedom of religion, opened the doors of college education to just about anyone who wants to go through the GI Bill, Pell Grants, and student loans, and general economic prosperity.

Here is what conservatism has given us:

Opposition to all of the above. Conservatives are on record as having opposed the assistance and greater rights provided by all of these initiatives. Legislatively they've given us the Patriot Act, rising budget deficits, and a promise to take out Social Security.

On the literary front conservatism has given us books with titles such as these:

Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism
The Enemy Within: Saving America from the Liberal Assault on Our Schools, Faith and Military
In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in WWII and the War on Terror
Why the Left Hates America: Exposing the Lies that have Obscured Our Nation's Greatness

(The Enemy Within; Treason. Who thinks like this?)

The practitioners and purveyors of conservatism have also in recent months said:

We should bring back McCarthism
Physically intimidate liberals (by killing the likes of John Walker Lindh)
The Democratic Party is against America and President Carter is "on the other side"
Opponents of the Iraq War should "Shut Up"
Our freedom of speech may very well become our bondage
Our freedom of speech may very well become the defeat of our soldiers
Accused the ACLU of "not helping" in the war on terror

Yes, conservatives will claim that liberalism has also "kicked God out of the schools" and given us abortion. On the former case, all that was declared unconstitutional was the practice of enforcing school children to worship (that's what corporate prayer is) a god of that teacher or school's understanding. Individual, private prayer is still a very real presence in schools, and will remain so as long as there are tests in schools. On the latter case, ask yourself if conservatives have actually done anything to reduce abortions. Many conservatives oppose birth control which would reduce the need for abortions in most cases. And as we know, the rate of abortions has actually gone up under Republican presidencies. Moreover, many of the so called family values issues and indicators cited by conservatives as a call to arms are worse in conservative states (i.e. higher rates of teen pregnancy, divorce, etc) than in liberal ones.

And Liberalism has the bad name around here. How did that happen?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Feeling Minnesota

If you're like me, maybe you've wondered how it is that the most lunatic fringe of the "we must win the war on terra and libruls are a threat to national security" gang resides in a state that--bless its Paul Wellstone soul--is in a climate so cold and locale so out of the way it couldn't attract a terrorist to it if it elected Walter Mondale to the U.S. Senate.*

I won't bother to link to or directly quote the wildly bizarre, fascist comments by some Minnesota lawyer-bloggers we know in addition to some professional columnists types who claim they used to be libruls but now just have to be conservatives because of the war on terra and the Democratic party that "left them". But you know the ones I mean: Democrats are against America. Democrats are on the "other side". Democrats aren't committed to "winning" the "war on terra". Former President Carter is on the other side. Yada Yada Yada.

The "rocket" got so upset the other day he launched an online, profanity-laden tirade against someone who had the temerity to email his site and disagree with his ostrich-head-in-the-ground defense of a pseudojournalist attending WH press conferences under an assumed name with access to secret CIA documents who also wasn't the master of his domain. Nah, why should anybody be concerned about that if the powerline trio isn't.

And it isn't as if a concern for the suffering that may happen to innocent Americans as a result of "terrorism" means anything to them. This gang couldn't care less about the sanctity of life. They joked about Rachel Corrie being killed by Israeli tanks. They didn't want the names and faces of Americans killed in Iraq shown on Nightline. They joked that the OKC perpetrators should have bombed the NYT. They advocate the killing of journalists. They don't care how many Iraqi civilians die in the cause of their war. They pretty much want to incinerate the whole Middle East. They place a higher value on symbolic things, like a three colored cloth flag, and silly jingoist pledges and songs than they place on people. They want to imprison or at least disenfranchise Americans that oppose any U.S. military action or disagree with them.

So living in the mid west means they have no realistic physical fears from terrorism (aside from the homegrown variety) and they don't give a fig about human life, American or otherwise. So what is it that incenses them so much about this so-called war on terrorism that they feel the terms of it can't be debated?

Bulworth says that what incenses mid-western wingnuts on the web, and wingnuts everywhere, is pride. Their identity is as an "American". Not the people mind you. Just the American image. If America is powerful, they feel powerful. If American is vulnerable, they feel vulnerable. Add that to the fact that they just don't like it when anybody disagrees with them and you have the makings of a vitriolic, militant-nationalist web of hate

* The unholy trinity at Powerline and Lileks.

Old Time Religion

The new USA Next, aka, United Seniors Association, aka, Swiftboat Veterans for the Ministry of Truth shell group launched a peculiar broadside against AARP for the senior organization's opposition to President Bush's idea for privatizing Social Security, suggesting AARP supported gays but opposed "the troops".

I don't know who or what the new swift boats were trying to target, but via Sisyphus Shrugged, we learn that AARP has a response that includes:

AARP calls your attention to these efforts because media coverage is clear about the aggressive tone of the language. We question why neoconservatives would choose these tactics.

AARP urges you to judge critically the motivations behind statements made against AARP. For example, whenever you see attempts to discredit AARP presented on Fox News Channel or other media outlets like talk radio shows that regularly carry the neoconservative lobbying group messages, AARP urges you to consider these important background facts:

USA Next is a lobbying group that "has poured poured millions of dollars into Republican policy battles" as reported in the New York Times.

As reported by UPI, USA Next has hired a public relations firm with "plans to spend as much as $10 million to counterattack Democrats opposed to changing Social Security, has hired Chris LaCivita, a former Marine who advised Swift Vets on its media campaign and helped write its potent commercials attacking Bush's opponent, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass."

Creative Response Concepts of Alexandria, Virginia is the public relations firm hired by USA Next. As reported by PR Watch, in 2004 "this firm used right-wing blogs and news sites to turn a CBS report casting doubt about President George W. Bush's National Guard services into a potential black eye for both the network and the Democrats."

As readers of this blog have no doubt recognized, Bulworth says Democrats have a problem in that Republicans have successfully demonized the liberal label, forcing Democrats to campaign and legislate from a mystical and ever shifting "center". Embedded in AARP's response to the swift boat attack ads, lies a potential aid in changing this dynamic.

Notice, if you will, my bold italics of the word neoconservative, which come up in the first couple of paragraphs of AARP's talking points. Now, the label neoconservative, is obviously not a new one, but what is relative new is the association of neoconservatism with a domestic issue. We know from the hub-ub surrounding the Iraq war that conservatives hate the term neoconservative. Conservatives have said the label of neoconservative is, alternatively, anti-semitic (because the said proponents of neoconservatism are Jewish and primarily concerned with the protection of the State of Israel) and a fantasy (because there is no such thing as neoconservative*), and on and on.

Bulworth says, let's associate any and all administrative actions that are injurious to working people and the values of liberalism and freedom as neoconservative even if the policy issue is domestic in nature. The label neoconservative sounds suspicious, and it makes conservatives edgy. Given the intent of the neoconservatives surrounding the Iraq war and the failure to find any weapons of mass destruction, it makes good sense to label any significant policy actions and political actions by the administration as being one and the same as the foolhardy and erroneous neoconservative words and policies in the realm of foreign policy. I would also point out that this association is far from being a mere linguistic one. The neoconservative goal has both a domestic-economic and a foreign-economic policy component.

Thanks, AARP.

* "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist".

Uh, We Didn't Mean That. We Were Just Kidding.

I found this gem yesterday on David Neiwert's page from a self described "real conservative":

Your blog is entertaining, but your running, one sided debate is mostly with straw men of the kosher conservative variety. The real right doesn't take Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh seriously...

Now, this line about "real" conservatives not taking the hysterical, vitriolic, fascist screechings of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage seriously is not a new line of thought or response. I've heard this defense statement before. But in the same breath we're typically reminded about the imposing force represented by Rush's 15 million number radio audience, Ann Coulter's record book sale figures, and on and on. And I might point out that Ann herself is a frequent presence on cable television, including Chris Matthew's. Somebody is taking them seriously.

As is the case with their attempts to claim liberal media bias while trumpeting the success of Fox "News" in the ratings wars, conservatives are trying to have it both ways, to have their cake and eat it, too (and it's working). They want the benefits of Rush and Ann's hatred and propaganda but want to disassociate themselves from it when they fear it may backfire on them.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Can Everyone Who Bought One of Those "Let Freedom Reign" Labels Please Return Them?

Now that they have the control of government, conservatives are increasingly backtracking from the whole "less government" thing:

Linda Chavez, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, argued that "one of the things that most concerns people is the sexualization of culture," and that "in the culture wars, they are burning down our houses." She cited a recent experience of stopping at a traffic light as the car next to her played "an incredibly vile rap song. I couldn't avoid hearing simulated sexual intercourse."


Leon Kass, Hertog Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said that "it will be no great victory" to win new individual freedoms "if the uses of those freedoms are debased, if families decay, if the general moral vision diminishes."

So now they tell us.

Post Script: You know it's a sorry state of affairs when you're reading a summary of a political pow-wow and Grover Norquist--Grover Norquist!-- comes off as the sensible one