Memorial Day: some of us aren’t around for the festivities anymore:
Tag Archives: liberal
The still prevailing narrative is that Democrats will suffer great losses in the fall and Republicans might take over the house and make strong gains in the Senate, even if they might not win both houses. This narrative has been the conventional wisdom for months now and, while it has been getting push back for awhile, it still qualifies for the title of conventional wisdom.
For months, I’ve been writing and saying that I think this is overblown. Yes, historical trends favor the Republicans as the out of power party in the first midterm election. Yes, the birfer/teabagger brigades are vocal and enthused. Yes, the economy is not yet fully recovered. Yes, there is a general feeling of anti incumbency and there are more Democratic incumbents than Republican incumbents. And yes, many progressives and Democrats are less pumped than in 2008.
But I don’t think it’s going to be as bad for the Democrats and progressives as the prevailing narrative is predicting. They will probably lose seats in both houses; but I doubt they’ll lose either of their majorities.
Despite efforts to tamp it down, there will be a civil war on the right. There was a minor freak out yesterday over the fact that a muslim Arab-American won a beauty pageant. It was a tempest in a teapot, but it was still illustrative of the nativist racism that animates so much of the animosity of the birfer/teabaggers.
Even if congress doesn’t act on it, immigration and immigration reform will be part of the debate. This is bad for rightwingers and Republicans because, not only does it alienate latinos and other immigrant groups as well as young people generally, it encourages loony rhetoric, especially from the types of older white people who like to complain in public about their liberties and country being taken away from them and how they, as older white christians, are the most persecuted group in America today.
That’s not exactly a formula for victory for the rightwing Republicans. The leadership knows this, but the base is clueless about their lack of broad appeal.
The base is largely isolated. They watch Fox, listen to talk radio, visit far right sites and mainly only talk politics to people who agree with them. The vastly overestimate the popularity of their views. But, fueled by this misapprehension regarding how many people share their beliefs and prejudices, they are ready to let their freak flag fly.
Like the apocryphal American tourist who shouts louder and more slowly when confronted with people who don’t speak English, the birfer/teabaggers, who are just the far right segment of the rightwing Republicans with new names, become louder and more shrill when they see their message isn’t getting the widespread approval they were so sure it would.
If you thought last summer’s ‘town hall’ meetings featured petulant, whiny baby boomers, wait till this summer. There will be rallies and protests galore. And the anger of the birfer/teabaggers will be directed just as much at the rightwing Republican leadership as at the Democrats, progressives, liberals, immigrants, young people, etc, etc…
When they encounter negative public reaction to their extremism, they will blame the leadership for ‘pulling punches.’ They will get more extreme and the leadership, becoming more and more afraid of their prospects in the general, will pull further and further away. Each factions’ actions will fuel the other’s reactions and it will get increasingly ugly.
And many of their potential supporters will either vote for Democrats or stay home.
Then, after the Republicans under perform, the leadership will blame the extremism of the base and the base will blame the punch pulling of the leadership. The disarray could last until after the 2012 elections.
Now, this could of course be overly optimistic. What if the Republicans do better than I predict, even perhaps taking the House?
I’d still think the base, and in this case the leadership as well, would take the wrong message. They would feel empowered and run to the right in 2012, which, I’d contend, would be a mistake.
Basically, I believe the rightwing Republicans created a monster when they ramped up their fringe base. Whether it’s sooner or later, there will be a backlash against the extremism. When — and whether — that actually happens remains to be seen. But I predict it will come sooner rather than later and that this summer will set off the backlash.
Rightwingers and many Republicans will tell you that what you’re about to read proves that I, and all people on the left, are the real racists.
It’s a classic technique but it’s transparent and laughably ineffective for all who aren’t dazed by the echo chamber.
In countless situations online and in person, people who point out possible, let alone blatant, racist speech or behavior coming from the right are accused of “playing the race card,” “exploiting racial politics,” and even of keeping non whites “on the plantation.”
Ron Brownstein at The National Journal Magazine notes the increasingly “monochromatic” nature of the rightwing Republican coallition [emphasis added]:
Amid drug violence in Mexico and high unemployment in the U.S., concern about controlling the borders is understandable. But the hardening GOP position also shows how the party is being tugged toward nativism as its coalition grows more monochromatic: In a nation that is more than one-third minority, nearly 90 percent of McCain’s votes in the 2008 presidential election came from whites. That exclusionary posture could expose the GOP to long-term political danger. Although Hispanics are now one-sixth of the U.S. population, they constitute one-fifth of all 10-year-olds and one-fourth of 1-year-olds. The larger threat is to America’s social cohesion. Democrats, with their own divisions, can’t reform the immigration system alone. Either both parties will accept that responsibility or the nation will likely suffer through years of sharpening social division symbolized by the escalating battle over Arizona.
As even Michael Steele acknowledged, the Republicans have been tapping into white anger, beginning in the sourth with Nixon’s “southern strategy” and migrating to other parts of the country when possible over the last five decades.
They have stoked and taken electoral advantage of reactionary nativist fears spurred by broad societal changes. For years it worked according to plan: the Republicans got their votes but kept the less savory elements of the demographic group now called “tea partiers” at arm’s length.
Not any more.
As the rise of Sarah Palin and Charlie Crist’s story demonstrate, the radicals have taken over the party. Whatever happens with the immigration reform debate this year, things are going to get much, much worse for the increasingly fragile Republican coallition.
I’ll resume regular posting, two to four times a week.
Aside from travel and school stuff, I’ve been distracted by the reaction to this video I shot of my mayor questioning Obama’s citizenship at a local ‘tea party’ rally. The rally was in a public park of course and many of the attendees looked like they are drawing social security and medicare checks, but they sure hate government. Except that one of the organizers called 911 on me for filming. She said they ‘rented the park’ and had the authority to kick me out.
A police captain set her straight, but it nicely demonstrates their authoritarian mentality.
As this post at Think Progress notes, the people who attend these rallies, aside from being mostly older white far right Republicans, also support the incredibly intrusive Big Brother ‘show me your papers’ Arizona law:
Not only are Tea Partiers not speaking out against SB-1070, they’re actively supporting it. The Arizona Tea Party Network called on its members to support Brewer’s big government. In fact, the sponsor of SB-1070 is state Sen. Russell Pearce (R), a Tea Party backer.
Why are they so supportive of Big Government in this case? The Think Progress post quotes a University of Washington study sheds some light on the attitudes toward people who are, unsurprisingly, vastly unrepresented at their rallies:
For instance, the Tea Party, the grassroots movement committed to reining in what they perceive as big government, and fiscal irresponsibility, also appear predisposed to intolerance. Approximately 45% of Whites either strongly or somewhat approve of the movement. Of those, only 35% believe Blacks to be hardworking, only 45 % believe Blacks are intelligent, and only 41% think that Blacks are trustworthy. Perceptions of Latinos aren’t much different. While 54% of White Tea Party supporters believe Latinos to be hardworking, only 44% think them intelligent, and even fewer, 42% of Tea Party supporters believe Latinos to be trustworthy. When it comes to gays and lesbians, White Tea Party supporters also hold negative attitudes. Only 36% think gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt children, and just 17% are in favor of same-sex marriage.
Update: Redstate blog, whose head honcho is best know for calling former supreme court justice David Souter a “goat fucking child molester,’ has this up today about how congressional black congress members and civil rights movement heroes were, y’know, lying about ‘tea partiers’ calling them n!gg4r and otherwise abusing them. Hey, if it wasn’t caught on video, then it could not have happened, right?
Bolding mine: yes, you can see for yourself. Why? Because people brought cameras*. Otherwise, this wouldn’t have gotten challenged, and the Democrats wouldn’t be trying to hide from this story right now. And no, this is not something that people should just move on from, either. We can move on after the Members of Congress involved either publicly retract their accusations, or else prove them.
This is just one more way the ‘tea partiers’ are proving how moderate and inclusive they are. It’s just that all the non white, younger, non far right Republicans — who totally, totally exist and who support the ‘tea party agenda’ — for some reason don’t seem to be able to make it to the rallies. Maybe it’s all the angry white people with guns…
Even though he comes from a state whose elected officials should know better, Cuccinelli pandered, probably cynically but you never really know, to the
base rightwing birther wing of the Republican party (via Steve Benen at TWM):
“I absolutely believe that President Obama was born in the United States. I don’t buy into the claims that he wasn’t. On the recording, I was asked a hypothetical legal question, and I gave a hypothetical legal answer in response….”
Benen also writes about McCain challenger Hayworth, also a birther, and how he blatantly acknowledged that truthiness is the highest ideal for the birthers and rightwing Republicans:
And this is why conversations with conservatives never seem to go well. Reality is an inconvenient detail that can be twisted, manipulated, and frequently ignored.
In a normal, sensible debate, one side might make a provocative claim. The other side can challenge the claim, and provide evidence. If it’s proven false, the first side moves on to some other claim. Lather, rinse, repeat.
But that’s not how Republicans work. They make claims that aren’t true, and after being corrected, either repeat those claims again anyway, pretend the matter is subjective, or both.
It’s genuinely painful to listen to clowns for whom reality is meaningless.
Well, you might think that up is up, but we’ll just have to disagree because I believe just as strongly that up is down and you have to respect my opinion.
The Party of Hypocrisy: the label Republicans (and some Democrats) deserve and that progressives must make stick
I wrote yesterday that progressives should turn the recent flurry of rightwing Republican hypocrisy into a long term narrative of double standards that comes to the forefront of everyone’s mind every single time they see, hear or think or Republicans and rightwingers of any affiliation.
This is certainly happening in response to the continuing over the top examples of hypocrisy and has been an ongoing project of some outlets.* However, as far as the larger message from progressives goes, the notion of Republicans and rightwingers as consummate general practitioners of hypocrisy has not been a recurring theme.
In fact, what is unusual about this particular moment when we are experiencing a surge in stories about Republican and rightwing hypocrisy is not that the level of such hypocrisy has increased, but only that the coverage of that hypocrisy has increased.
And if the past is any guide, this recent uptick will be temporary unless progressives make a concerted effort to keep it at the forefront of the national narrative.
If we know a well is poisoned, we know that any water from that well is not fit to drink. This was true yesterday. It is true today and it will be true tomorrow. Any water from that well, no matter how shiny and clean the bucket seems to be, cannot be trusted to be safe.
Progressives need to establish the fundamental belief that Republicans and rightwingers — of any or no affiliations — are water from the poisoned well of hypocrisy. In time, some Republicans who are not hypocrites might gain positions of influence in their party and will not deserve that label. But, as seems obvious, this is not the way things are today.
In the mean time, if we want to avoid another 8 or 16 years of Republican rule under the leadership of Palin, Beck, O’Reilly and Limbaugh, it is the job of progressives to ensure that there is a virtually hardwired link in the mind of every voter between Republicans and rightwingers and the general — and predictable — practice of unrestrained hypocrisy.
You can check out the full Gingrich from the Daily Show last night here.
* Note, of course, that this is by no means an exhaustive, let alone any where near complete, list of recent and ongoing efforts to document and archive Republican and rightwing hypocrisy. Please feel free to provide other examples in the comments if interested.
The recent take downs of Palin and Limbaugh for their hypocrisy of use of the term “retard” are good models for how to counter such illogical positions. Colbert’s dissection of the double standard from last night’s show is one of the better ones I’ve seen.
The same is true for the weird rightwing jab that Obama is somehow dependent on teleprompters. This is gold for the committed rightwingers but leaves everybody else shaking their heads. Of course, Palin’s use of note cards during the speech and palm reading during the pre vetted Q&A session makes the hypocrisy even more evident, as does the defense of Palin for doing so.
Below are two examples of defense of these double standards from the commenters at redstate. Note that they seem completely oblivious to the cognitive dissonance they engage in. That is an artifact of hyper partisan speech that has completely left rationality behind.
But, while they might not see their own hypocrisy, it is glaringly obvious not only to those on the left, but also to any one who is not already a committed Obama hater mired in reactionary groupthink. The Dems need to remind independents of what they will be in store for if they vote for the current slate of rightwing Republicans as a means of protest.
Here are some redstaters defending Palin’s use of crib notes and giving Limbaugh a pass on the use of “retard.” Although it has to be said that not everyone over there is enamored of Palin and the author of this post criticized Palin’s hypocrisy over use of term, labeling his post “Sarah blew it,” which drew these as the first two comments:
you are WRONG, she answered him perfectly on that question….
JadedByPolitics Tuesday, February 9th at 5:11AM EST (link)
because Rush was doing it satirically did you hear him or did you pick up your talking points from Media Matters? BTW when you live by the PC code you will die by the PC and that is what she made Rahm do and for that she is CORRECT!
I suspect in a debate with The idiot and his Teleprompter she and her palm would SMACK him around. Sarah Palin hit is out of the park in the past week at advancing Conservative Values as she had the entirety of the LEFTIST media watching her every word and of course then there are those like YOU who want to batter her as well but so be it because she is STILL STANDING and what she is saying is gaining traction in America and when the populace likes what they hear they vote OUT Democrats!
Without his TOTUS Obambi is a bumbling idiot
nessa Tuesday, February 9th at 5:19AM EST (link)
he is barely capable with the damn thing. Soon it will be whispering in his ear so he doesn’t screw up corpsman or some other equally difficult word. The tingler and the rest of the lame stream media praise his ability as an orator, but like the rest of obambi’s history, there is nothing to back that up. An orator can speak without the TOTUS, Obambi is reduced to a mumbling idiot without his. I’d rather write an entire speech on my hand than rely upon the TOTUS and the words of the man behind the curtain that feed the great and powerful Oz.
Again, their double standard is invisible to them but is shockingly obvious to everyone else. We need to remind voters that this hypocrisy is not just a fodder for jokes but is emblematic of their entire approach to governing and campaigning.
For a while the Party of No was a good counter to the rightwing Republicans. We should now change that to the Party of Hypocrisy. These issues will stick in people’s mind and make it that much easier for them to see the hypocrisy that is so rife in so much else of what the rightwingers and Republicans preach to the rest of us.
An added benefit is that, as is seen on this thread and elsewhere, such blatant adherence to double standards also drives a wedge between various factions even of the redstate community. This is even more true of the broader rightwing Republican coalition.
David Weigel at TWI is reporting on the Palin speech to the “Tea Party Convention” in Nashville. I’ve dvr’d it and have only listened to the first fifteen minutes and will either update this post or write more expansively tomorrow.
For now I’ll just say that she is putting the capstone on the merger between the so called tea party — or parties — and the Republican party. It was obvious anyway, but now they’re not even trying to put up a facade. Still, I think that’s a a move that will diminish their outsider credibility and spark various internal skirmishes.
Also, by defending the Bush administration and adopting, in the first fifteen minutes at least, a combative tone reminiscent of some of her really odious posturing during the campaign, it seems that she is giving quite a gift to the administration and congressional Democrats.
Update: Okay, it’s only been a few minutes, but
…and around the world, people who are seeking freedom from oppressive regimes wonder if Alaska is still that beacon of hope for their cause…
I’d have more sympathy for her stumbling over her notes if she hadn’t repeated the strange rightwing Republican attack on Obama as somehow being dependent on teleprompters.
…and unethical shameless tactics like considering a candidates children fair game…
Like Rush Limbaugh, John McCain and many other rightwing Republicans did to Chelsea Clinton?
and children with special needs are welcomed in this world and embraced
Like the way Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck used exactly the same term Rahm Emanuel used, except they used it explicitly to mock and ridicule developmentally challenged people?
Update III: her hypocrisy is shameless. Sam Stein at Huffington Post notes the following about her Sunday morning appearance on Fox
Palin also used her platform to continue a call for the president to rid himself of his closest advisers. On Attorney General Eric Holder, she labeled his handling of captured terrorists — “allowing them our U.S. constitutional protections when they do not deserve them” — a firing offense. On Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, she said his comments calling liberal groups “f-ing retards” was “indecent and insensitive” and cause for his dismissal.
But the former governor went to great and sometimes awkward lengths to insist that when conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh used the same exact term to describe the same exact group, it was simply in the role of political humorist.
“They are kooks, so I agree with Rush Limbaugh,” she said, when read a quote of Limbaugh calling liberal groups “retards.” “Rush Limbaugh was using satire … . I didn’t hear Rush Limbaugh calling a group of people whom he did not agree with ‘f-ing retards,’ and we did know that Rahm Emanuel, as has been reported, did say that. There is a big difference there.”
Also, there are now pictures and videos of the notes she scrawled on her hand; no word on whether she wrote the notes before or after she made the telepromter dig.
Again, this would normally not be a big deal if she hadn’t repeated the weird teleprompter line. Also, as Stefan Sirucek notes at HuffPo in the above link, it was a “lovefest” with pre selected questions. Criticizing Obama’s performance at the “question time” with House Republicans and overlooking this requires some world class level mental gymnastics.
After the unexpected smackdown Obama gave the House Republicans, the rightwingers and Republicans are making clear that they are doubling down on the ‘Party of No’ obstructionism that has allowed them to monkeywrench hcr.
There’s not exactly a shortage of people offering all sorts of advice on getting messages across. One thing that seems clear is that presenting a laundry list facts and figures does not motivate adequate numbers of voters, either in the election booth or in polls and other gauges of ‘the mood of the country’ in between elections. Now I’d say that the notion of ‘the mood of the country’ is a pretty ludicrous construction. The best we can probably do is to talk about the predominant for now mood of various constituent groups of various coalitions. However, as the current teabagger infighting shows, even that may be several bridges too far.
Looking at blogs like Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, Think Progress, Crooks and Liars, Redstate, Town Hall and any number of others will show that posters and commenters at all these sites also express ‘internal’ dissension and outright infighting. Still, on specific elections and big issues like hcr, what are at other times loose groups tend to tighten up and coalesce around candidates and issue positions, especially when confronted with such polarized choices as they pretty much inevitably are in the US.
As I noted above, facts and figures alone, however impressively arrayed, do not generally pull voters into a dedicated orbit around a candidate or policy position. I have not yet really dug into the book, but I’m tending to think Drew Weston is right when, in The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, he argues that narratives, by reaching our emotions, are more persuasive.
As the rightwingers and Republicans have demonstrated, those stories and ’emotional truths’ need not actually be grounded in reality. However, when the narratives are actually based in fact rather than distortion, they have the beneficial effect of attracting the not insignificant number of voters who are persuaded by facts and figures.
Together with people who respond more positively to emotionally undergirded narratives, they might form a coalition that can counter the Party of No agenda of the rightwingers and Republicans.
In vetting the part of the title to the left of the colon, I did a quick google search of the phrase “politics, perception and reality,” which yielded “about” 4,460 hits.
It’s a truism that in all areas of human endeavor, and maybe even more in early 21st century American politics, perception is not the same thing as reality. In many cases, it doesn’t even seem to come close to being an even somewhat faithful analog. But, turning to the part of this post’s title on the right side of the colon, are the Republicans and rightwingers more successful in messaging and, if so, why?
This is a long term project of mine and I don’t have any definitive answers at this point. And it’s not a question that really lends itself to final and definitive answers anyway. Still, it’s a question very much worth examining and doing so on a continuing basis.
Also, it’s not just a question about the strategies, tactics and relative effectiveness of the two parties’ propaganda efforts, but those of their constituents and allies as well, including various ostensibly independent news and media organizations.
My research centers on political discourse on the web and the literate practices of people engaging in such discourse individually, as part of groups, and on behalf of organizations and institutions. One obvious example is the teabaggers/tea partiers*, their influence on the Republican party and what I would contend is the complicity of Fox News.
I would also contend that, despite a very small number of progressives, the rest of the corporate media is structurally more in tune with rightwing/Republican policies and politics than the centrist/Democratic alternative. The asymmetry in that equation is deliberate: there hasn’t been a real leftwing/Democratic alliance in a very long time, if ever.
You could perhaps make a case about some of the anti war and pro civil rights work in the 60s, although I wouldn’t necessarily be so bold as to contend that civil rights is necessarily a leftwing agenda item. I realize that it has played out that way in American politics for at least several generations. Certainly, when fewer of “them” vote, it works to the advantage of rightwingers/Republicans. Also, the next contender, FDR’s New Deal reforms were actually quite centrist or at most center left in the politics of the time.
So, in short, I my argument is that there is a structural bias that favors rightwing/Republican policies and politics, which gives them an advantage in getting their message out and sustaining narratives that benefit them. However, I do not believe that exonerates the inability of Democrats, along with their erstwhile liberal and progressive constituents and allies, to formulate and disseminate effective messages and narratives.
It’s important to note that none of these coalitions, or their various components and subcomponents, are monolithic. In this post I have used “rightwing/Republican” as shorthand, but I realize that, as with their opponents, they do not make up a unified whole made up of completely like minded individuals.
*My preferred name is teabaggers. Despite protestations, this is the label they originally self applied. Liberals and progressives were quick to take advantage of the lack of cultural awareness of the “teabaggers.” After realizing their mistake, the wide assortment of groups and individuals who first proudly claimed this label began to refer to themselves as “tea partiers.” This is a very relevant example of the messaging battle and one that, I contend, shows that the rightwingers and Republicans are far from the messaging masters many are proclaiming them to be.