Friday, February 29, 2008

Flag Pin Fascists and Confederate "Rebel" Flag

The latest, and rather hillarious, addition in flag pin fascism has gotten me to wondering about how all these super nationalist uber patriots flimflamming about the flag pin choices of our representatives and presidential candidates feel about that other symbol of flagnuttery, the infamous "state's rights", "rebel" Confederate flag? In a normal universe, one might imagine that those most adamant in their demand that political officials sport the American flag pin would also be the most hostile to states or individuals who wave around the flag of the anti-unionist, anti-nationalist, totally unpatriotic, pro-slavery secessionists of yesteryear?

But for many reasons, I highly doubt that this is the case.

I see where the blogger Scarabus has picked up on this, too:

Wearing a lapel pin, putting a flag decal on one’s vehicle, etc. is a complicated issue. Up front, I acknowledge that honest, even sophisticated folks express their nuanced patriotism that way. But, though I hope I’m wrong, I’d bet that the majority of folks “showing the flag” in such a manner are either confused or just haven’t thought it through (like those who have a mutually-exclusive American flag decal on the left side of the rear window, and a Confederate flag on the right side)! You have a right to your own values, folks, but you can’t have it both ways.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Playing the Victim Card

I couldn't stomach watching this "final" debate, but based on some of the clips from it, I found Hillary's "how come I always get the first question" whine and her "why don't we ask Barack if he needs a pillow" equally strange and unbecoming, childish almost. Much like in the previous debate where she attempted the "xerox" zinger and tried to achieve some lift-off from a much discussed blooper by one of Obama's Texas surrogates, these tactics undermined a lot of her experience/substance argument, and helped cement Obama's basic point about "politics as usual". However mismanaged Clinton's campaign has been by her handlers and financiers, the fact is that if Hillary goes on to lose the nomination, the candidate herself will be the most to blame. She's earned it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Flag Pin Fascists, Book 2

First, they came for those not wearing the regulation flag pin, and then...

A handsome, tough-looking boy of nine had popped up from behind the table and was menacing him with a toy automatic pistol, while his small sister, about two years younger, made the same gesture with a fragment of wood. Both of them were dressed in the blue shorts, grey shirts, and red neckerchiefs which were the uniform of the Spies. Winston raised his hands above his head, but with an uneasy feeling, so vicious was the boy's demeanour, that it was not altogether a game.

'You're a traitor!' yelled the boy. 'You're a thought-criminal! You're a Eurasian spy! I'll shoot you, I'll vaporize you, I'll send you to the salt mines!'

Suddenly they were both leaping round him, shouting 'Traitor!' and 'Thought-criminal!' the little girl imitating her brother in every movement. It was somehow slightly frightening, like the gambolling of tiger cubs which will soon grow up into man-eaters. There was a sort of calculating ferocity in the boy's eye, a quite evident desire to hit or kick Winston and a consciousness of being very nearly big enough to do so. It was a good job it was not a real pistol he was holding, Winston thought.


Something in the tone of his voice seemed to add, 'that bloody fool'. Parsons, Winston's fellow-tenant at Victory Mansions, was in fact threading his way across the room -- a tubby, middle-sized man with fair hair and a froglike face. At thirty-five he was already putting on rolls of fat at neck and waistline, but his movements were brisk and boyish. His whole appearance was that of a little boy grown large, so much so that although he was wearing the regulation overalls, it was almost impossible not to think of him as being dressed in the blue shorts, grey shirt, and red neckerchief of the Spies. In visualizing him one saw always a picture of dimpled knees and sleeves rolled back from pudgy forearms. Parsons did, indeed, invariably revert to shorts when a community hike or any other physical activity gave him an excuse for doing so.


He did not know how long she had been looking at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself -- anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.

Flag Pin Fascists

KRAMER (to organizer at desk): Uh, Cosmo Kramer?
ORGANIZER: Uh...o.k., you're checked in. Here's your AIDS ribbon.
KRAMER: Uh, no thanks.
ORGANIZER: You don't want to wear an AIDS ribbon?
ORGANIZER: But you have to wear an AIDS ribbon.
KRAMER: I have to?
KRAMER: See, that's why I don't want to.
ORGANIZER: But everyone wears the ribbon. You must wear the ribbon!
KRAMER: You know what you are? You're a ribbon bully.
ORGANIZER: Hey you! Come back here! Come back here and put this on!

WALKER #1: Hey, where's your ribbon?
KRAMER: Oh, I don't wear the ribbon.
WALKER #2: Oh, you don't wear the ribbon? Aren't you against AIDS?
KRAMER: Yeah, I'm against AIDS. I mean, I'm walking, aren't I? I just don't wear the ribbon.
WALKER #3: Who do you think you are?
WALKER #1: Put the ribbon on!
WALKER #2: Hey, Cedric! Bob! This guy won't wear a ribbon!
BOB: Who? Who does not want to wear the ribbon?

BOB: So! What's it going to be? Are you going to wear the ribbon?
KRAMER (nervously): No! Never.
BOB: But I am wearing the ribbon. He is wearing the ribbon. We are all wearing the ribbon! So why aren't you going to wear the ribbon!?
KRAMER: This is America! I don't have to wear anything I don't want to wear!
CEDRIC: What are we gonna do with him?
BOB: I guess we are just going to have to teach him to wear the ribbon!


Obama has it.

A party that presided over a war in which our troops did not get the body armor they needed, or were sending troops over who were untrained because of poor planning, or are not fulfilling the veterans' benefits that these troops need when they come home, or are undermining our Constitution with warrantless wiretaps that are unnecessary?

"That is a debate I am very happy to have. We'll see what the American people think is the true definition of patriotism."

Among other reasons, this is why Obama would make a far superior nominee than Hillary Clinton.

I agree with Ezra that "this will be an ugly election."

But with Obama as the nominee there will be one important difference from past elections. The difference is, as I see it, that Obama really would be a very different president. To get a stronger sense of that, I highly recommend reading over Samatha Power's interview with Democracy Now. This difference would particularly be true regarding foreign policy, where the president's policy control is greatest. At least with Clinton, Republicans would have campaigned with some assurance that, while hating her desperately, at the end of the day, her policies would not be that significantly different from McCain's or any other Republican's. This won't be true with Obama. The smear campaign against him will at least have some fear-driven, rational basis of the challenge Obama represents for their various sacred ideological cows (i.e. Cuba) and their control over the national political discourse.

And I have no doubt that Obama's crowds genuinely scare Republican pundits like Kristol. Again, with Hillary as the nominee, this would not have been a concern on the Republican side. But the idea that Obama may actually be able to command a mass popular following is not what conservatives want to have to face. Expect a lot of concern trolling about the "threat" posed by high participation, turnout, populism, and all the rest of it.

This will be very bitter, but it will be bitter for the right reasons.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Democratic Leisure Class checks in

Just when you thought it was safe to hope again, to be inspired again, the DLC boss emerges to serve up the same old soup. I'd almost forgotten about Al From and his astroturf gang of stooges. But here he is, like one of those zombies from 28 months later who won't die:


[Al] From would clearly like you to believe that the combination of increased margin and higher turnout among self-identified Democrats in 2006 relative to 2004 was a smaller factor in the Democratic Party's superior election outcome than was the even larger increase in margin combined with lower turnout among self-identified independents. If you check the math, though, you'll see that this isn't true.

In 2004, 37 percent of the electorate were Democrats, and Kerry got 89 percent of their votes. Thus 32.9 percent of the electorate was Dems voting Dem. Independents were 26 percent of the electorate and 49 percent of them voted for Kerry, so 12.7 percent of the electorate was indies voting Dem. In 2006, 38 percent of the electorate were Democrats, and 93 percent of them voted Democratic. Thus 35.3 percent of the electorate was Democrats voting Democratic, an improved performance of 2.4 percentage points. Independents were 26 percent of the electorate, and 57 percent of them voted Democratic, making 14.8 percent of the electorate indies voting Democratic, an improved performance of 1.1 percentage points.

In short, contrary to From's chart, it's simply false to say that "the difference" between 2004 was that "centrist voters with loose party attachments voted Democratic in much higher numbers." The Democrats improved their performance among both groups, but the combination of turnout and vote-share factors clearly indicates that improved performance among self-IDed Dems was a more important factor than was improved performance among self-IDed Republicans. What's more, note that the numbers I used were identical to the exit polls From is using in his chart. But he presents the numbers in a such a way (using the change in margin of victory rather than showing actual vote shares) as to make it difficult to do a quick calculation of the change in performance.


Thanks a lot, Al. Your hero and Democrat Extraordinaire, the now "Independent" Senator from Connecticut is crossing the aisle yet again to endorse, campaign and defend his Republican buddy. My only question is, Al, have you purchased your ticket to accompany JoeMentum to the Republican National Convention yet?

No Debates for you

I was beginning to reconsider my continued support for Democrats to shut-out Fox News from hosting any of its debates. Why not brave the unfriendly audience, me was starting to think?

Ah. But then the Republican "news" channel reminds me yet again of why they are a disease on the American body politic:


The article contains one quote after the next from right-wing polemicists accusing Obama of being unpatriotic. Josh Marshall noted last night that the article prominently features disgraced GOP operative Roger Stone as one of the central accusers, but just as bad, if not worse, it then goes on to quote this repulsive dialogue from Fox News' Fox and Friends:

"First he kicked his American flag pin to the curb. Now Barack Obama has a new round of patriotism problems. Wait until you hear what the White House hopeful didn't do during the singing of the national anthem," said Steve Doocy, co-host of "Fox and Friends" on the Fox News Channel.

"He felt it OK to come out of the closet as the domestic insurgent he is," former radio host Mark Williams said on Fox.

This is a "news article." And Pickler and AP wrote it by sitting in front of Fox News, writing down the most baseless and reckless accusations from the worst morons, and then turning it into a "news story" along the lines of: "Conservatives accuse Obama of X." That's how Drudge rules their world. He posts some completely irresponsible and scurrilous rumor; they then write a news story about how the rumors are circulating, and it then becomes mainstreamed.

Thus: some attention-seeking right-wing talk radio host on Fox News labels Obama a "domestic insurgent" and the Fox host suggests Obama is unpatriotic. Pickler writes it all down, gets some confirming quotes from GOP operatives, and then files a "news article" based on it. And now MSNBC, on its front page, is heralding the vital question: "Is he exposed?" For all the attention the dubious NYT story about McCain received, those tactics, and far worse, are par for the course in how "reporters" like Pickler demonize Democratic candidates in every national election. That a Democratic candidate is accused of being an unpatriotic subversive Terrorist by Fox News and the Roger Stones of the world isn't exactly "news."

This is what an anti-hope message looks like. While I'm glad that Obama is shaping up to be the nominee, you can bet that the type of stuff the right-wing blowhards throw at him will be this and much, much worse. One can only hope that voters will continue to dismiss this garbage.