Tag Archive: conservative

Greg Sargent, noting the current state of stand-offery on the Senate floor, spoke to one of my Big Things, something that’s been on my mind for over two decades.  The vision of the world held by the staunchly Right Wing does not include me.  Most likely, it does not include you, whoever you are. It does not include a legitimate place for liberals, even moderates, certainly not non-Christians (by their definition), and folks who don’t see the world they way they do.

A whole mass of Americans – not the majority, thank goodness, but a sizable chunk – has decided to move through life willingly like a horse with blinders on. Note: normally the horses do not choose the blinders, and probably would shed them if given half a chance. But the extreme right does not. It happily keeps them on, framing the entire world in terms of that limited perspective. Hence, the gridlock in Congress, where one side deliberately mucks up the works so nothing can get done, proudly proclaims that’s what they’re trying to do, and then points fingers at the other side when nothing gets done.



Remember: Republican Senator Bob Bennett wasn’t denied renomination because he was actually liberal on issues. He was defeated by Tea Party Republicans because he was open to cutting deals. Right now in Texas, a high-priced Senate primary is about to result in a win for a previously obscure conservative over the Texas Lieutenant Governor on basically one issue: the willingness to compromise with Democrats.

via Battle of the century: Norm Ornstein versus Mitch McConnell – The Plum Line – The Washington Post.

We’re stuck with a significant minority of legislators who won’t discuss, won’t compromise, won’t negotiate in good faith, whine when required to face up to what they agreed to, backstab and lie about their opponents, and generally act like unreasonable six year olds – and believe me, I’m warm to the idea that real six year olds could probably get more done in Congress than this bunch of yahoos.

And why don’t they feel the need, the responsibility, to compromise? Because everyone not like them isn’t worth their consideration, is on the outside of their world. This is the result of the idea of a Permanent Republican Majority.

As Steve Benen is fond of saying, This is why we can’t have nice things.


In no particular order:


30 Sept 2011 – Andrew Sullivan:  The Un-Bush

Last fall, the Dish hosted an impassioned debate about the morality and ethics and prudence of targeting US civilians who have joined the Jihadist enemy in seeking to attack the US. My own position is that we are at war, and that avowed enemies and traitors in active warfare against the US cannot suddenly invoke legal protections from a society they have decided to help destroy.

And so my response to the death of Anwar al Awlaki is obviously not going to be Glenn Greenwald’s, although I respect his consistency and integrity on this question, even though I think his position minimizes the stakes of the conflict, and misreads the nature of war.

My response is to note what the Obama administration seems leery of saying out loud – in line with its general response to al Qaeda which is to speak very softly while ruthlessly killing scores of mid-level and high-level operatives. This administration actually is what the Bush administration claimed to be: a relentless executor of the war in terror, armed with real intelligence and lethally accurate execution. Sure, Yemen’s al Qaeda is not the core al Qaeda of Pakistan/Afghanistan – it’s less global in scope and capacities. But to remove one important propaganda source of that movement has made all of us safer. And those Americans who have lived under one of Awlaki’s murderous fatwas can breathe more easily today.


29 Sep 2011 – Steve Benen:  On leadership

I remember taking a class on leadership and being surprised, as a naive grad student, how complicated it was. Leadership at a conceptual level seems straightforward and obvious — a person steps up, presents a vision, and encourages others to follow him or her. There is, however, far more to it than that, and there are even different models of leadership (transactional vs. transformational, for example).

But for the purposes of conversation, the notion that Barack Obama is a “bystander,” too overcome by “paralysis” to do “big things,” isn’t just wrong, it’s ridiculous. Indeed, as far as the right is concerned, the attack is itself in conflict with the conservative notion that Obama is destroying American civilization with his radical agenda. One can be a bystander and one can be a radical activist hell bent on gutting our cherished traditions from within — but one cannot be both.

And on a related note (Benen references this article in the above post)


28 Sep 2011 – John Dickerson: Leading Bystander

The leadership critique obscures the real questions that should be asked about the sitting president or the person who wishes to replace him. Simply being a leader doesn’t tell you much. George W. Bush used to say "a leader leads" as if simply taking action should absolve him of criticism. That didn’t get him off the hook any more than Obama should be off the hook now.

The questions should be about effective leadership. Does he pick the right fights? Does he have the skills to succeed, or at least mark up a qualified success? If his leadership has not been effective, is the president the only one to blame? America does have a divided government. The president is not king. Is it Obama or Republicans in Congress who deserves the greater share of the blame? Or, as Christie suggested in his speech, is it both?

29 Sep 2011 – Greg Sargent: Americans reject the right’s bogus `class warfare’ charge

It’s become an article of faith among conservatives — and even some neutral commentators — that Obama’a newly aggressive populism and call for tax hikes on the rich is “class warfare,” a nakedly partisan play for the Democratic base that is divisively pitting one group of Americans against another.

Obama’s new tack is “anti-millionaire populism” from a “self-proclaimed class warrior,” laments Charles Krauthammer. “Pitting one group of Americans against another is not leadership,” adds John Boehner.

Frightful stuff indeed. But two new polls suggest that the American public isn’t buying it.

Fox News is out with a new poll that seems designed to gauge the public’s attitude towards Obama’s new posture. For those making the “class warfare” argument, these results won’t be encouraging….

29 Sep 2011 – Andrew Sullivan again: Are Suspect Sketches Worthless?

Mostly. According to Lillian Marx, "victims who assist in creating a composite sketch of their assailants are nearly 50 percent less likely to correctly identify a suspect later":

quoting from the study, Sullivan includes this paragraph:

["T]he act of creating a composite sketch confuses the hell out of the victim. Your memory is actually very suggestible, thanks to a phenomenon called source amnesia, which basically means the brain remembers facts, but doesn’t remember where we learned them. That means if the artist gets something wrong in the sketch (the suspect’s nose is too big, or he has too many eyes), the victim literally starts to think that’s what the suspect looks like. The brain doesn’t remember if you first saw that feature in the real face or on the sketch. So the cops drag in a guy who looks like the inaccurate sketch and you say, "That’s him!"


And on a lighter note,

Andrew Sullivan:  So ‘90s

You have to see the video to get that one…

So, Rand Paul spouted off with some extreme statements, and I felt the need to put my two cents in.  Good enough.  Why not?  Everybody’s doing it!

Still, why did Rand Paul’s words become something I felt worth responding to? People say crap I don’t agree with all the time.  I sit silently, in terms of writing about it, for most of it – why this?  Why did the blogosphere and webnews and talk-radio and talk-teevee all feel the need to respond?

That’s been the subject of some of the response, and I find resonance with my fellow observers:  Paul’s statements matter because he articulates something a) a lot of libertarians and others believe, and b) has farther reaching implications (see the Ezra Klein quote in the previous post) than simply the subject of this particular statement.

It matters to me because this guy would tear down what I think of as the fabric of our American community:  how we pool together while respecting differences, and how our Constitution and our state and local governments are structured to assist with our mutual needs.  Local and state governments do it at the local level, and because we … ya know… as a nation… through our elected representatives, have decided certain things should be coordinated at a higher level. 

Yes indeed, corruption and influence peddling may exist.  But we as a nation have steered our society toward greater federal oversight and support, because it made sense to us.  It was more likely to help than hinder us to, for example, provide social security, health services, a national educational system, a well funded military, etc etc etc.  We elected people, sent them to DC to implement this very stuff, and thwarted though our reps may be, we occasionally move forward and create an even better nation than we had before.  That’s why we tried George Bush’s way, and when it didn’t work out, or rather, when the disastrous results began to play out, we booted him and his GOP cronies out.  We did it from a moderate to left citizenry, and the non-intervention attitudes of libertarianism were really no where in the picture.

As in:  we had a vote.  You lost.  We’re going to use government to straighten this thing out.  Reagan was wrong. Get with the program.

Like a lot of folks, Rand Paul isn’t with the program.  He, the tea partiers, and a whole lot of other people have a dreamy-eyed optimism about the free market.  It’s an almost diametrically opposed view compared to, say, Anarchy or Communism, but all three share the same dream-filtered gloss of political philosophy, ignores how things work in the practical world. 

I like to employ a phrase more typically applied to a plate of cream-puffs, or an open bar:  All Things in Moderation.  I think that goes for politics too. 

11 April 2010

Remember when Sarah Palin popped off with this famous quip from the September 2008 Republican National Convention?

I guess a small town mayor is sort of like a “community organizer,” except that you have actual responsibilities.

If I had hackles to raise, it woulda raised ‘em.  I was offended by her statement, demeaning and dismissive as it was, and not backed up by any real meat on her side of the argument either.  From what I hear, some mayors (and half-term governors) don’t take care of their actual responsibilities.  Of course, none of that Palin-intrigue had come out yet, at the rather dour Republican convention. Not long after the convention, I found this wonderful motivational creation:



Some blithering-idiot talking points never die.  Today I read over at Salon.com that Sen. David Vitter, speaking at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this weekend, was spouting this same crap.

… Vitter strolled out to introduce former Sen. Rick Santorum — and to push back a bit against President Obama. "If that’s the choice in 2012, I’ll take a TV personality over a community organizer any day," he said.

TV personality? Whoever could he mean?

Presumably Sarah Palin, according to the punditry.  I have to admit, my mind went to Glenn Beck, but whatevah, and of course, The Media Creation Which Is Palin is the correct answer.

Steven Benen responded with a sentiment I can relate to.

… the snide, condescending denigration of community organizers among right-wing leaders got tiresome quite a while ago. Working with communities in a bottom-up model may seem worthless to the modern Republican Party, but community organizers deserve respect. ….

…. Community organizers tend to be all the more necessary when American families are crushed by the bankrupt governing philosophy of clowns like David Vitter.

If Republicans want to ignore this often-thankless work, fine. But let’s not pretend that community organizers deserve this kind of right-wing derision.

Benen also points out that the Community Organizer label the right sometimes sticks on Obama is not only not a negative, but it’s not the full picture either:

Obama worked for three years a community organizer — working with churches to create opportunities in economically depressed areas — more than two decades ago. He went on to become a lawyer, a professor, a state senator, and a U.S. senator, before seeking the presidency. A few too many on the right make it sound as if Obama went from being a community organizer to a national campaign. This overlooks nearly all of the man’s adult life

And I am struck by a weird pairing:  the Tea Partiers, Patriots and all such groups are supposedly built of those salt of earth, honest to God, down home real Americans.  Sounds grass roots to me, even if some of the push has come from major organizers like Dick Armey et al.  And isn’t community organizing, ya know, kind of a grass roots thing?  Aren’t these folks on the right wing, the tea partiers, making efforts to build a groundswell in local government and state government through taking over precinct groups, and electing adherents to that line of thinking to office?

What the hell do they think community organizing is?

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