Extremism on both sides? Let’s make this perfectly clear

January 9, 2011

I wrote a post about a month ago in which I disputed the “liberals and conservatives are equally vitriolic” claim, but feel like it’s worth saying something else about that.  A friend posted this link on Facebook this morning, and I (not to put too fine a point on it) DEFY any of you to develop evidence that liberals have planned, attempted, and executed this many acts of horrific violence–just in the last TWO YEARS.

Or put it this way: sure, there are plenty of angry lefties.  I’m one of them.  But the “Both sides are just as bad” argument is total bullshit.

 


Where were the Tea Partiers when…

January 7, 2011

This list flies around e-mail distribution lists from time to time.  A debate I was having on Facebook last night with a high school friend who’s very conservative made me think about it; I’m glad I saved it the last time I received it.

Subject: YOU FINALLY GOT MAD…

You didn’t get mad
when the Supreme Court stopped a legal
recount and appointed a President.

You didn’t get mad
when Cheney allowed Energy company
officials to dictate Energy policy and push us to invade Iraq.

You didn’t get mad
when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn’t get mad
when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn’t get mad
when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn’t get mad
when we spent over 800 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn’t get mad
when Bush borrowed more money from
foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.

You didn’t get mad
when over 10 billion dollars in cash just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn’t get mad
when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn’t get mad
when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing
policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

You didn’t get mad
when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn’t get mad
when we didn’t catch Bin Laden.
You didn’t get mad
when Bush rang up 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and current account deficits.

You didn’t get mad
when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn’t get mad
when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn’t get mad
when we gave people who had more money
than they could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion
dollars in tax breaks.

You didn’t get mad
with the worst 8 years of job creations in several decades.

You didn’t get mad
when over 200,000 US Citizens lost their
lives because they had no health insurance.

You didn’t get mad
when lack of oversight and regulations
from the Bush Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12
trillion dollars in investments, retirement, and home values.

You finally got mad


when a black man was elected President
and decided that people in America deserved the right
to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption,
torture, job losses by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the
rich richer, and the worst economic disaster since 1929 were all okay with
you,
but helping fellow Americans who are sick…Oh, Hell No!!


Moderates and “Extremists”

October 31, 2010

Just read this piece on cnn.com and it prompted me to post for the first time in, oh, almost two months–

http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/10/31/avlon.rally.sanity/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn

I didn’t go to the Stewart/Colbert “rally,” and as I read more about it, I’m glad I didn’t.  Although it sounds like it was probably fun, and while I respect Stewart and Colbert as much as you can respect professional entertainers’ political work, the more I read, the more I realize the rally seems to have reinforced one of the great misnomers (read: bullshit) of this political period.

In simplest terms, the notion that “extremists at both ends of the spectrum” have hijacked our political discourse is crap.  Total and complete crap.  No, that’s an insult to crap.

Yes, there are extreme leftists.  Chances are, unless you’re one of them, you’ve never seen or heard of any of them.  There’s simply no equivalent on the left for the lies, hatred, vitriol, distortion, power-hunger, lies, lies, hate, violence, lies, and violence and hate of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner (who, if he’s not one of this gang sure seems to want to be), Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, Rand Paul, Andrew Breitbart, James O’Keefe, …  the list goes on and on and on and on.  None.  Amy Goodman?  Who does a radio show that about 43 people listen to?  At least she doesn’t make shit up out of whole cloth to suit her agenda.  Michael Moore?  He’s a clown, and nobody on the actual left much listens to him anymore (if we ever did anyway).  Barack Obama?  You’re an idiot if you think he’s a liberal.

The facts are quite simple.  Our political discourse has been hijacked by bad people who spew whatever shit is convenient at the time in order to scare people into ceding power to them.  It doesn’t matter if the shit they spew is the same shit they spewed last week, or last year, or whether the new shit as antithetical to the old shit.  These people will say anything (read: ANYTHING) to maintain power for themselves and their friends, no matter what the cost to the nation or the world.  And it’s THEM, along with their corporate-media lapdogs, who propagate the myth that “extremism” comes from both directions.  It doesn’t.

We’ve seen this strategy before.  Conservatives are very good at accusing liberals of doing whatever conservatives are actually doing; it allows them to deflect attention from the fact that they’re the ones doing it.  That anybody actually believes the shit they spew is, quite simply, a bonus.  Their primary purpose is to generate noisy, horrible-sounding static; the goal is to make people stop listening.  And it’s working.  Yesterday’s Rally to Restore Sanity was, by most accounts, a pretty much content-free feel-good session from which nothing at all emerged.  Yay.

What it will take to send the rightwing extremists back where they belong is simply to shut them off.  I don’t mean that those of us on the left should ignore their existence.  I do mean that we have an obligation to put their hate-filled shit in its proper context at every turn.  Don’t debate them head-to-head because they never, ever listen; and neither do they have any actual commitment to the positions they take, so changing their minds isn’t really a goal.  Instead, we have to make sure that the larger swath of the public, who isn’t firmly committed to left or right (they call themselves “moderate,” while I call them “uncommitted,” but that’s a topic for another day), doesn’t hear the shit unchecked.  Call out the lies.  Call out the flip-flops.  Don’t let their hypocrisy, hate, and lies slip down the memory hole.

If leftist extremists EVER have the kind of bully-pulpit the right currently does, we can talk about finding the “center” and extremism from “both sides.”  Until then, the insistence that it’s coming from both sides is simply right-wing propaganda.


Jobs and the stimulus

February 27, 2010

Early this week, in an exchange of letters to the editor in the West Chester Daily Local, a regular (as in often) conservative writer named Anthony Oleck responds to praise for the stimulus bill with this letter:

**************************

There’s a big difference

Stephanie Markstein, in her letter to the editor, wrongly asserts that the stimulus package was supported by “the greatest economists in the nation (and) all agree that, not only was it the right thing to do, but the only thing that has kept us out of a full-blown depression.”

You are confusing TARP with the boondoggle stimulus package. Economists mostly agreed that TARP, the bailout for the banks, was necessary to avert a full-fledged financial collapse.

Stimulus is nothing but a piggy bank for pork … plus it has not worked.

Obama said we needed it to keep unemployment below 8 percent, he passed it and unemployment immediately went to over 10 percent.

As far as the “saved jobs” he keeps touting … the stimulus may have saved and certainly did add government jobs, with big benefits and big pensions that we and our children will pay for from here to eternity … those are just the jobs we should be losing to help stimulate our economy and reduce our taxes.

Stimulus is a huge slush fund for Democrats to pay back their union friends.

Anthony J Oleck

**************************************

I wrote a response that the Daily Local (understandably) declined to publish, and I want to post a revised version of it here because I think the discussion is worth continuing.

A version very similar to what I sent the DL:

************************************************

Only somebody who hates the Democratic Party as much as Anthony Oleck does could believe that: (1) the stimulus is bad because it’s creating good jobs with good benefits; and (2) the cost of private sector versions of those jobs wouldn’t be passed along to consumers anyway.

Oleck’s argument is a strawman at its worst.  At a time when what we need most is to put people to work at decent wages and with decent benefits, complaining about who actually hires them reveals his true agenda–to attack Democrats no matter what they do.

*********************

To be more explicit (since I’m no longer bound by the DL’s length limits…

Stephanie Markstein, to whom Oleck is replying, is actually correct.  The huge majority of economists supported the stimulus.  Those who didn’t were universally conservatives who reject any form of government intervention in anything besides abortion/birth control, and/or prayer/creationism in schools, and/or …  Most critiques of the stimulus from economists without neoconservative axes to grind critiqued it for being too SMALL, not too big, a critique I agree with.

The evidence is clear, and getting clearer every day, that stimulus has in fact kept unemployment from getting worse.  Yes, the number of unemployed has gone up during the Obama presidency, but to pin that on the stimulus is short-sighted at best, disingenuous (read, a lie) at worst.  There was no doubt that the economy hadn’t bottomed out yet (in fact probably still hasn’t).

As I note in my original letter, Oleck reveals his real agenda in his letter.  He doesn’t care the least bit about people; he wants only to attack Democrats.  The simple facts of the matter are that more jobs are better than fewer, and more jobs that pay reasonable salaries and benefits are better than fewer.  The “free market” (read, unregulated orgy of exploitation) has had plenty of chances to hire and pay workers.  Instead, corporations have downsized and off-shored, leaving millions of capable workers in this country in the lurch.  These are the people Oleck trusts to fix the very problem they’ve created, out of the goodness of their hearts?  Ridiculous. How could anybody who cares about people decry the creation of good jobs?

Oleck’s claim that the stimulus was a payoff to labor unions is just a gratuitous cheapshot at unions and the President.  Given the President’s unwillingness to push EFCA; to use recess appointments to put capable members on the NLRB; to push for taxing the very health plans that unions have fought hard to earn; it’s very clear that Obama is no friend of organized labor.  He’s not as hostile to it as most Republicans are, but his track record shows, without question, that he’s the last person who would “pay off” the unions.

After years of neo-conservative babble and hostility towards labor and laborers, Oleck’s position shouldn’t surprise me, and it doesn’t.  However, it’s incumbent upon those of us who actually give a sh*t about anybody but ourselves to lay bare the truth behind these arguments.  I don’t think Oleck is malicious in his intentions, but he (and people like him who articulate these kinds of positions) show without a doubt that they don’t much care about what happens to the huge majority of their fellow citizens.  They don’t much care about people who can’t get work because the “free market” has ruined the job market for its own profit.  They don’t much care about people who have to choose between rent, food, and medical treatment.  They don’t much care about anything except attacking a President whose positions, when seen through the lens of reality, are much closer to their own then they’d ever want to admit.

[UPDATED SUN, 2/28]

WordPress’ “related posts” links sent me to this entry on somebody else’s blog.  It’s an excellent compendium of all the Republicans who voted against the stimulus but then asked for stimulus money.  Across the board, they argue that it’s appropriate to accept money they voted against, without recognizing that their own “principled stands” get compromised in the process.

http://thegreatspot.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/you-lie/


Want to be a hero? Just make up a story about it, and maybe people will believe you.

December 5, 2009

From yesterday’s Talking Points Memo:

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2009/12/fish_stories_more_risky_via_email.php?more?ref=fpblg

If you don’t feel like reading the whole story, the short version is this.  A man claims to have thwarted a terrorist attack on a plane getting ready to depart from Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta.  He tells a detailed story, in an e-mail to friends, about discovering/uncovering the plot, confronting its mastermind, getting 12 “Arabs” thrown off the plane, and then getting put on a different flight when the “terrorists” were allowed back on the plane.  The whole story has been debunked, beginning with proof positive that the writer was never on the plane (sorry, a George Carlin moment…  “IN the plane”) in the first place.

I haven’t had the stomach to read them, but a Facebook friend who responded when I posted this link there tells me that the right-wing blogosphere is going haywire about this.  They thought they had a new Flight 93 hero, and flatly refuse to believe that the guy made the story up out of whole cloth.  It just didn’t happen.  Nothing even like it happened.

I suppose up against the current roster of conservative heroes, this shouldn’t be a surprise–

Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, who’ve made careers out of exaggerating stories and sometimes simply inventing them, then hiding behind claims not to be actual journalists when they get caught.

Joe the Plumber (remember him?), who rendered himself (or was rendered unto us, at least) as Mr. Small Business Main Street America, who was guilty of practicing his trade without a license and of tax-evasion.

Sarah Palin, whose transgressions are too lengthy and well documented to need repetition/reinforcement here

Senator Jim DeMint (SC), who in front of the entire Senate yesterday, actually said (and this is nearly an exact quote): “I’m proud of Republicans who are standing up to this government takeover of heath care.  And I’m proud of Republicans who are standing up to protect Medicare.”  And didn’t seem to understand why dozens of Senators thought that was kind of funny.

Anyway, the wingnuts are howling that the “liberal media” is covering up what their new hero really did in the plane in Atlanta.  They’re accusing Air Tran of covering up; they’re accusing TSA of covering up.  In other words, anybody who doesn’t believe their hero must be lying.  It’s unfathomable to them that their hero simply invented a story out of thin air. It couldn’t possibly be right that a racist idiot made up a story in which he confesses to his racist idiocy.

If Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin can publish books, then this guy should too.  I only hope he markets it as the fiction it is.


Town Hall meetings

August 11, 2009

So today, for the first time, I saw Obama supporters step over the line in an attempt to respond to Freedom Watch and the Tea Baggers’ disruptions at town hall meetings.  What CNN didn’t comment on, when they showed the clip, was how totally furious the Obama supporter was.  And I don’t think it was the security that was not-very-gently leading her out the door.  She seemed like she was headed straight for the conservative contingent, and wanted to tangle with them.

Probably best that she wasn’t able to; it sure wouldn’t be very helpful for the first blood to be drawn by somebody who’s ostensibly on the same side I am.  I don’t want any blood drawn, of course, but the fury emanating from the right on this issue isn’t much different from the fury that emanates from anti-abortion activists; seems like the right has adopted that page from the playbook.  Infuriate your opposition, and then jump up and down celebrating when one of us acts on it.  Lovely.

I appreciate what the Dems are trying to do as they respond to this madness in their own meetings–to call the tension out, make a point of asking for some decency (civility is just too much to ask for these days, I guess), and do the best they can to keep the meetings moving while assholes try to shout them down.  It makes the assholes look really bad, as if they didn’t already.  Unfortunately, the people who need to be convinced that the assholes are assholes won’t be convinced even by direct evidence.  Not sure what to do about that.

By the way, a public shout-out to CNN, who hasn’t handled this whole mess very well.  But today, Rick Sanchez actually got on the air and explained to viewers that most of what the Freedom Watch people and the Palinites are spewing is just wrong.  I’m not sure it’ll make a huge dent in the problem, but at least somebody tried.  It’s a start.


One quick note about Mark Sanford

June 27, 2009

I agree with many of my friends who believe this topic is getting too much attention, up against wars, starvation, the most corrupt medical establishment in the world, etc. But a quote from a conservative activist in SC from this morning’s Yahoo news page pretty much sums up my thinking too:

“Joining the calls for resignation was a one-time ally, the head of the group that’s pushed Sanford’s school choice effort. If Republicans are going to criticize Democrats for moral failings, Sanford has to go, said Randy Page, president of the conservative advocacy group South Carolinians for Responsible Government.”

You don’t get to have it both ways, folks. If you’re going to campaign on and preach morality, you have to hold yourself to your own standard.


Ted Koppel flashback

November 1, 2008

As I was walking home from school yesterday, I kept having this flashback to an episode of “Nightline” right before the 2000 election.

With all the GOTV hype in high gear, Koppel ended the episode with a remarkably brave commentary, something along the lines of, “Yes, voting is essential to democracy, but if you don’t really understand who or what you’re voting for, stay home.  Don’t cast a bad vote just because you think you’re supposed to.”

I can’t help but think about that commentary as I read/hear news that many likely Republican voters believe the most bizarre things, and are likely to cast their votes based not just on a lack of information, but on actual misleading information.  Some believe Barack Obama is a closet Muslim radical; others believe he and Bill Ayers are plotting some kind of terrorist attack; others believe he’s laying the groundwork for a revolution; some believe he supports socialized medicine, or a government-sponsored revenue-distribution system.  And those aren’t the really weird ones.

So, inspired by Koppel, I want to revive his plea.  If you don’t have real information on which to base your decision, stay home.  Pretty much everything the Republicans have said (or helped shadowy activist groups say) about Barack Obama over the last 2 years is a lie.  Al Gore was right during his speech to the DNC; the reason the Republican Party lies so much and so nastily about Obama is that they’re very, very scared of him.  And not scared of his race.  And not scared of his religion, or his charisma, or his public-speaking ability.

The Republicans, at least the ones who really run the show, are terrified that he will give our country back to the citizens, instead of a small group of ultra-wealthy elite who have been pillaging our souls and our treasury for the last eight years.  They like being in charge and being able to steal with impunity, and they’re scared that an Obama presidency will end their game.

They should be scared.  They should be even more scared when millions of voters who have tired of their theivery show up at the polls to oust the Republican party from the White House and Congress.

If you don’t understand, because you don’t have enough good/true information, why that needs to happen, stay home.  A vote for the Republican ticket is NOT a vote for your own self-interest unless you’re ultra-wealthy.  A vote for the Republican ticket is NOT a vote for the collective good of the country, which they couldn’t give two shits about and never have.  A vote for the Republicans is NOT putting “Country First.”

And if you think it is, you’ve been misinformed.  So stay home.


McCain’s Principles, or Lack Thereof

October 13, 2008

[The essay below is a ZNet Commentary.  I post it here because it’s extremely astute and important.  If you like what you see here, consider going to znet.org and becoming a Sustainer.  –Seth]

***

Fear McCain

Oct 12, 2008 By Paul Street
Paul Street’s ZSpace Page / ZSpace

The thought of [John McCain] being president sends a cold chill down my spine.

—United States Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi)
According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, some voters in the critical political battleground state of Pennsylvania are leaning towards Barack Obama because economic matters are trumping candidate “character” in determining their choices in the presidential election.

If “the economy” hadn’t become the overwhelming issue, the Tribune reports, these voters would be going with John McCain because of his supposed superior personal qualities.

The voters are worried about Obama’s moral fiber because of his past connections to such supposed moral monsters as the black pastor Jeremiah Wright and the former SDS Weatherman-turned education professor and charter school advocate Bill Ayers.

The Tribune story is titled “Character Counts; Economy Counts More” (J. Tankersley and C. Parsons, Chicago Tribune, October 9, 2008, sec.1, p. 13).

While I am no particular fan of Obama’s personality and neoliberal politics, I find the Tribune article’s angle and title distressing.  I do not expect mainstream voters or reporters to follow me (a left Marxist since age 18) in feeling little shock at the crimes of Ayers (decades ago) and in having little problem with the rhetoric of Wright. I get it that most Americans are in no position — morally, ideologically, or in terms of information received — to share my understandings of why Ayers briefly became a (rather hapless) ultra-left “terrorist” and why Rev. Wright is angry at U.S. policies (and crimes) past and present.

What is more difficult for me to swallow is that anybody could identify John McCain with anything remotely connected to positive moral character.  The candidate atop the current malicious Republican presidential campaign — increasingly reduced to the preposterous claim that Obama is some sort of “far left” enemy of “American” values and institutions (my recently released book “Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics” is an antidote to that charge) — is a characterological catastrophe.

As Tim Dickinson notes in a recent Rolling Stone profile of McCain, the Republican presidential contender has demonstrated a shocking lack of principle with his recent policy contortions.  McCain’s campaign positions have shifted drastically to the hard right on the Bush tax cuts (for the rich), court appointments, oil drilling, the religious right, and torture.  Having once found it politically useful to oppose all of these things, McCain now embraces them.

The supposed centrist “maverick’s” swing to the far right has found grotesque expression in his running-mate selection — a viciously stupid evangelical hit lady whose only qualification for office is her ability to energize the GOP’s white-nationalist messianic-militarist and  pseudo-Christian base.

“Straight Talk” McCain has recently undertaken politically calculated rightward leaps on immigration/border policy, gay marriage, lobbyist power, and “talking to our enemies.”  He has shifted positions on financial regulation and the AIG nationalization in response to financial capitalism’s deepening crisis.

In detailing McCain’s recent wild and rightward policy swings, Dickinson quotes numerous Republicans who told him that the candidate’s only real concern is personal advancement.  Former Republican U.S. Senator Lincoln Chaffee and McCain were once the only two Republicans to vote against Bush’s tax cuts.  He joined with a differently calculating McCain in opposition to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to George W. Bush’s most reactionary court appointments. Now Chaffee says that “John has made a pact with the devil.”

Besides being monumentally inconsistent and unprincipled, McCain is a loose cannon who would pose grave risks on the global stage if he were to reach the White House.  By Dickinson’s account:

“At least three of McCain’s GOP colleagues have gone on record to say that they consider him temperamentally unsuited to be commander in chief.  Bob Smith, the former senator from New Hampshire, has said that McCain’s ‘temperament would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger.  In my mind, it should disqualify him.’ Sen. Domenici of New Mexico has said he doesn’t ‘want this guy anywhere near a trigger.’ And Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi weighed in that ‘the thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine.  He is erratic.  He is hotheaded'” (T. Dickinson, “Make-Believe Maverick,” Rolling Stone, October 16, 2008, p. 70).

Along with being perceived as dangerously selfish and reckless by a number of leading Republicans, McCain appears to be something of a vicious bastard.  He cussed his wife out in the vilest terms imaginable in front of three reporters in 1992.

He joked at a 1998 GOP fundraiser about the “ugliness” of Chelsea Clinton, attributing her physical appearance to the fact that the lesbian Attorney General Janet Reno was “her father.”

In April of 2007, McCain responded to a voter’s foreign policy question by singing “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” to the tune of the old Beach Boy’s tune “Barbara Anne.”

It’s all very consistent, Dickinson shows, with McCain’s pampered youth as the legendarily irresponsible, boorish, and stupid son and grandson of four star admirals in the U.S. Navy. After graduating 894th in a class of 899 at the Naval Academy, McCain became a notorious party-boy who repeatedly crashed Navy planes.  Any flier without McCain’s would have lost his wings.

McCain was able to achieve notoriety and build a political career around the claim to be a “war hero” because he managed to get shot down while bombing the civilian infrastructure of North Vietnam.  Contrary to his carefully cultivated myth of special and holy “sacrifice for country,” McCain received favorable treatment by informing his Vietnamese captors the he was the son of a top U.S. military official (Admiral McCain head of the U.S. assault on Vietnam by the early 1970s). He divulged military information (the name of his ship of origin and the target of his assault) other American POW’s refused to release under torture.

McCain’s subsequent career and highlights include:

* The vicious abandonment and divorce of his first wife after she suffered a crippling car accident and the 42-year-old McCain became smitten with his future wife – the 24-year-old former USC cheerleader Cindy Hensley, a wealthy Budweiser heiress.

* Using his position as the Navy’s liaison to the U.S. Senate to secretly negotiate (against the wishes of the Secretary of the Navy) an egregious pork project – the replacement of the aging aircraft carrier “The Midway.”

* Voting in the U.S. Senate against the Martin Luther King holiday.

* Voting to confirm the arch-rightist Robert Bork for the U.S. Supreme Court.

* Calling for the abolition of the U.S. Departments of Energy and Education.

* Championing a bill that eliminated catastrophic health insurance for senior citizens.

* Intervening along with four other senators in 1987 to prevent federal regulators from investigating Lincoln Savings and Loan, a corrupt institution owned by McCain’s leading contributor and friend Charlie Keating.  The S&L collapsed two years later under the weight of Keating’s corrupt real estate dealings, costing U.S. taxpayers $3.4 billion and defrauding 20,000 holders of Keating’s junk bonds.

In the late 1990s, Dickinson shows, McCain dropped his initial post-Vietnam reluctance to support aggressive U.S. wars and underwent a dramatic “neocon makeover.”  McCain’s arch-militaristic conversion was consistent with his initial claims that “the liberal media” had undermined the “national will” and therefore cost noble America a “war it should have won” in Vietnam.

McCain turned into such a “bellicose hawk” that he went beyond Dick Cheney in “spreading bogus intelligence” in advance support of George W. Bush’s criminal invasion of Iraq.

McCain’s hyper-militarism combines with the sense that he is a loose cannon to prevent top Republican generals like Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell from endorsing his candidacy.

For whatever reason, Dickinson does not mention McCain’s likely strong connection to recent reckless U.S.-imperial provocations of resurgent and nuclear-armed Russia.  Dickinson might also have mentioned the Arizona senator’s inflammatory call for the formation of a U.S-led “League of Democracies” to (presumably) replace the United Nations – a body from which McCain would ban Russia and China.

It is common among left commentators – the present writer included – to criticize dominant U.S. political culture’s tendency to privilege candidate character and “qualities” over substantive matters of policy and ideology. America’s quadrennial candidate-centered corporate-crafted  “electoral extravaganzas” (Noam Chomsky’s term) tend to cloak the fundamental corporate and imperial consensus between reigning parties and politicians, focusing voters on superficial differences of candidate style instead of the fact that both of the nation’s dominant political parties are well to the right of the populace on numerous key issues.  The current election year is no exception.

Still, “character counts” when it comes to who is going to hold what is still the most powerful single office on Earth – the U.S. presidency.  The vicious, stupid, unprincipled, and reckless John McCain is morally, mentally, and physically ill-suited for that job in ways that must be made abundantly clear to as many voters as possible over the next three weeks.  It should be emphasized that the 72-year-old cancer (Melanoma)-patient McCain – the infamously “hotheaded” son of a father and grandfather who both died from sudden heart attacks (at ages 62 and 71 respectively) – could very well keel over dead the day of his possible inauguration, bringing us to the unthinkable brink of a Palin administration.

If you live in a contested state, I suggest that you smell with supreme fear what McCain and Palin are cooking and vote accordingly. This ain’t just Democratic Coke versus Republican Pepsi, comrade: it’s Coke versus Crack.
Paul Street (paulstreet99@yahoo.com), a writer and speaker based in Iowa City, IA, His latest book is Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics, order at www.paradigmpublishers.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=186987


Traitors (again, or more of the same)

October 11, 2008

Last summer, across several threads of this blog, I (and people like me) got accused time and again of being a traitor because I don’t support the US occupation of Iraq, because I’m an academic (and therefore must be advancing a revolutionary agenda every time I teach), because I don’t support Israel’s right to kill Palestinians (and for the record, neither do I support Palestinians’ rights to kill Israelis), etc.

At the time, I was infuriated by the accusation.  It galls me to no end for neoconservatives to accuse anybody who disagrees with them of trying to destroy our country.  I’m still mad about it, as you might imagine if you’ve been called one of the worst things in the world.

The last couple of weeks of presidential campaigning have put the nastiness of last summer into some perspective.  For one, I’ve realized that neocons toss around the word “traitor” willy-nilly.  They know perfectly well that I do not actively work to destroy or undercut the Constitution or our country.  They also know perfectly well that Barack Obama isn’t trying to destroy our country.  I guess the short version is that I’ve become innoculated against the charge because they apply it to everything and everybody they don’t like.

Second, although some of the folks who were fighting with me on the blog got pretty nasty, it’s nothing compared to the threats that are emerging from (and being stoked by) the McPalin campaign.  Even Republicans are getting nervous about the simmering violence and hate being aroused, especially by Sarah Palin, on the campaign trail.  The Secret Service, it seems, have decided that the freak who yelled “Kill him!” at a Palin rally last weekend probably wasn’t talking about Obama.  Huh?  Who else would he have been talking about?  And with the increasingly violent and frequent shouts of “Off with his head!” and “Traitor!” and “Treason!” and others, why would anybody believe that Obama wasn’t the target?

I, like many, are afraid of what might happen as a result of this increasingly vicious tone.  However, having been the object of a (very minor because I’m not very important, but still…) smear campaign, and having faced death threats because of an editorial I wrote for the Philly Inquirer some years ago, more than fear I feel deep, tragic sadness that the very-far right-wing has come to this.  It wasn’t enough to slaughter innocent Iraqis and Afghans in wars they weren’t even fighting.  It wasn’t enough to see a ruling cabal installed in the White House without even winning an election, and hand over the reins of our government to a small group of people who serve their own interests only.  It wasn’t enough to label anybody who disagreed with them unpatriotic or treasonous.

Now they have to attack a presidential election ticket that couldn’t be less traitorous, less “Socialist,” less dangerous to the core values of the US Constitution, and they have to incite levels of hate and fear to do it.  It’s humiliating, as a citizen not just of the country but of the world, to know that others all over the planet believe these snakes speak for our nation.

So, here’s a plea to all you McPalin supporters who are so angry about Barack Obama’s success that you advocate violence towards him and his supporters–

SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!  You’re hurting your candidates.  You’re hurting your party.  You’re hurting our nation. You’re much more dangerous that Obama/Biden could ever be.  I don’t believe you’re “traitors” any more than I believe I’m a traitor, but your hatred and violence are bad and wrong.

Enough.