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.

 

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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!!


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.


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


John McCain and Sarah Palin are the terrorists

October 7, 2008

By now, we all know that Sarah Palin’s role in the McCain campaign is to provoke false accusations and threats of violence towards Barack Obama.  Her speech in FL on Saturday, in which Palin accused Obama of “pallin’ around with terrorists,” was nothing short of slander.  McCain’s speech yesterday, in which he accused Obama of simply insulting McCain every time McCain questioned his record, was disturbing not just because of its content, which was full of ugly lies and distortions, but more so because of the crowd’s reaction.  I’ve never been in a lynch mob, but I have to expect that it sounds much like that crowd did.

Worse, even, than those was the rally yesterday at which a McPalin supporter yelled “Kill him!” “Him,” of course, is Barack Obama.  A perfect opportunity for Sarah Palin to demonstrate that she’s anything other than a bloodthirsy psychopath, instead, nothing.  Nothing.  Let me say that again.  Nothing.  One of her audience members advocated assassinating a sitting US Senator and Presidential candidate, and Palin said nothing.  Neither has John McCain said anything.

It’s another round, much like the Dayton mosque attack last week, of the McPalin campaign propagating bloodlust among their supporters, and saying NOTHING when that bloodlust finds public voice and action.  These candidates actually support a strategy that results in attempted and threatened murder.

No matter how close Barack Obama and Bill Ayers might ever have been or might ever be, Obama hasn’t done anything near as horrifying as this.

This isn’t just electoral politics.  This is terrorism.  It’s honing in on people’s darkest fears and basest instincts, and letting people like this crawl out from under their rocks.  It’s recruiting bad people to their cause, knowing that at least some of them (and the Dayton mosque attack is evidence of this) will actually follow through on their threats.

More than ever, I’m deeply, deeply troubled that any sane person could consider voting for the McPalin ticket.  If you don’t toe their party line, you could be next.


Snakes

October 5, 2008

Four weeks out from the Presidential election, it has become indisputably clear to me that John McCain and Sarah Palin have absolutely nothing positive to offer our country as they run for the highest offices in the land.  In my head, it’s no longer a matter of disagreement.  I don’t just think their policy stances are disagreeable.  I wouldn’t even say I think they’re simply wrong.  I’ve become convinced, over the last few weeks, that both Republican candidates (and their entire campaign organizations) are irredeemably bad, and that the world will be a worse place (morally, ethically, materially) if they win.

There’s just no other way to explain their insistence, for example, that Barack Obama “consorts” with terrorists because he’s been on a couple of committees with Bill Ayers, who’s been a model citizen for decades.  Or their insistence that Wall Street needs more oversight at the same time that Democrats are “socialists” for calling for more oversight.  Or that the continued occupation of Iraq, which has produced nothing but bloodshed for most and profit for a few, is the “central front in the war on terrorism.”  Or that taxing health benefits will somehow improve health care for the millions of US citizens and families who can’t afford any health care at all.

Given their worldview, in which it’s apparently OK simply to lie about everything, and then when caught just lie some more, it’s no surprise that the McPalin campaign announced its last-month-from-election strategy the other day: attack and smear Barack Obama, even though the attacks have absolutely zero basis in reality, in hopes that people’s most base fears will make them stay home.  McPalin knows they have no chance of winning a high turnout election (Republicans never do), so they’re going to be as offensive as possible in hopes of alienating people even more from the electoral process.

We (actual human beings with ethics, that is) cannot let this happen.  If you’re in a public place with TVs when one of those McPalin attack ads comes on, start singing or jumping up and down or doing whatever you have to do to deflect attention from them.  If you’re walking down the street and a McPalin activist tries to talk to you, let him/her.  Spend as much time with them as you can stomach; that’s less time they can spend with people who might actually listen to them.  When you talk politics with conservatives, use the word “lie” as often as you can; you still won’t be able to use it enough to be really accurate about how often they lie, but it’s a step in the right direction.

And finally, let the Obama/Biden campaign know that your insistence on honesty cuts both ways.  They don’t get a free pass on telling the truth about themselves or their opposition just because McPalin is such a shameless liar.


Follow-up to post about Dayton mosque attack

September 29, 2008

Two quick things–

1.  Although I’m still waiting for the McCain campaign to condemn the “Obsession” video, which seems to be linked with Friday’s attack, I’m not accusing McCain of being involved with the actual attack.  Seems impossible to believe that it wasn’t done on his behalf, which makes him complicit for not addressing it, but that’s a different order of things.

2.  Why hasn’t Obama addressed it either? 

Both candidates tout themselves as better able to keep US citizens safe.  In the wake of a direct act of domestic terrorism, neither has said a word about it.