It’s Official: American Conservatives Have Fallen In Love With A Russian Thug

Giving the finger to the homophobic president of Russia, President Obama is sending a couple of openly gay delegates to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow will be among those who will greet Vladimir Putin, who signed laws this past summer that prohibit gay couples from adopting Russian-born kids and that prohibit “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations around minors.” In other words, the Russians, whose past leaders have killed millions upon millions of their own countrymen, think gay people represent considerable danger to the kiddies.

But the public homophobia of Putin and Russian legislators is positively mild compared to what The Hollywood Reporter discovered:

Popular Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin, known for his intention to run for president two years ago, made scathing homophobic statements at a “spiritual talk” that he gave in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.

Addressing the audience, he said that homosexuals should be burned alive, the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.
I would put all the gays alive into an oven,” Okhlobystin, formerly an Orthodox priest, was quoted as saying. “This is Sodom and Gomorrah! As a religious person, I cannot be indifferent about it because it is a real threat to my children!”

He also compared homosexuality with fascism and added obscenities to his comments.

“I would put all the gays alive into an oven,” the former priest and current “religious person” said. Wow. How awful. At least we Americans have evolved on the issue of homosexuality, right? Well, not quite.

If you want to know what white conservative Christians in America are thinking about almost any subject, all you need to do is go see Pat Buchanan. He is the whitest, the most conservative, the most Christian Christian we have. Yesterday, in a column that can only be described as mind-blowing, he actually embraced Vladimir Putin as a “paleoconservative” in the mold of, well, Pat Buchanan. “In the culture war for mankind’s future, is he one of us?” Buchanan asks his readers about Putin. Yes, he did. He actually asked that question. And he answered it, too. He wants American conservatives to identify themselves with the thuggish, homophobic, anti-democratic, authoritarian president of Russia, a former officer in the KGB.

But Buchanan doesn’t like Putin in spite of his homophobia, or in spite of his authoritarian impulses. He likes him because of those attributes. Buchanan, like many conservatives these days, admires the unyielding absolutists and dogmatists among us, especially if they are willing to impose their unassailable dogmatism on everyone else. Buchanan writes:

With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, “In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered.”

“They’re now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil.”

Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.

No moral confusion here, this is moral clarity, agree or disagree.

Well, David Frum, a conservative without a dominant reptilian brain, disagrees. Frum commented on Buchanan’s insane column:

Putin is a killer, a despot, and a thief on a world-historical scale, but the important thing is that he hates gays!

Yes, Putin hates gays and therefore represents everything that the right, as we know it today, loves. From Sean Hannity to Matt Drudge and now to Pat Buchanan, the right seems to have fallen in love with someone they can respect, as opposed to their own president, who happens to represent everything they fear: a pigmented Democrat whose complexion represents the future, a man with a scandal-less personal life who believes that women ought to decide for themselves when to bring children into the world, who doesn’t love war, and who doesn’t hate homosexuals.

And speaking of President Obama, without a doubt the most reprehensible part of Buchanan’s mega-reprehensible column is this:

President Reagan once called the old Soviet Empire “the focus of evil in the modern world.” President Putin is implying that Barack Obama’s America may deserve the title in the 21st century.

Nor is he without an argument when we reflect on America’s embrace of abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values.

Here we have Pat Buchanan, speaking for an old-time conservatism that the Tea Party has embraced, essentially endorsing the claim that our country is “the focus of evil in the modern world.” It is beyond outrageous. It is sick. The man is sick in his theologically and ideologically poisoned mind. This is more than the usual “decadent west” column that conservatives like Buchanan feel they have to write now and then in order to remind their followers that this ain’t your white granddaddy’s America anymore (he says: “Our grandparents would not recognize the America in which we live,” without mentioning that African-American grandparents wouldn’t recognize a Jim Crow-less America either.) This is a call for Christian America (“We are two countries now,” Buchanan says) to embrace a Russian thug because that Russian thug embraces the Culture War that white conservative Christians have been fighting, and losing, at least since Bill Buckley squirmed out of his mother’s belly.

But as a former fanatical follower of Bill Buckley, I just can’t imagine that if he were still among the living he would side with Buchanan in his absolute loathing of “Barack Obama’s America” or endorse his weird attraction to a former Russian KGB Lieutenant Colonel. But he might. We live in unbelievably strange times. Conservatism has rotted from the inside because of the ancient hate it refuses to relinquish. It has fallen so far that some conservatives even hate their own country and are erect with pride as they jump into bed with a sleazy Russian reactionary, who happens to hate many of the same things they have always hated.

In an odd way, Pat Buchanan has done us a favor by writing his Putin-loving column. He has shown us that the heart of 21st-century American conservatism is very cold, unquestionably dark, and, sadly, unpatriotic.

Why Christian Conservatives Don’t Care If The Country Falls

What is it about the mixture of Christianity and conservatism that makes many folks who call themselves Christian conservatives say and do things that seem to be neither Christian nor conservative?

As a former Christian conservative myself, I think I can offer some insight into why putting the two things together so often results in such toxic ideological vapors.

I think I can explain the behavior of a Ted Cruz, a Michele Bachmann, a Glenn Beck, a Sean Hannity, a Rush Limbaugh, a Bill O’Reilly, and a Sarah Palin. I think I can explain why their brains release ideological gas so noxious that it not only threatens the well-being of liberals, but it is now poisoning the blood of other conservatives. As they continue to fight their “culture war,” these Christian conservative zealots are now openly attacking members of their own political party, members who lack sufficient ideological holiness or militancy. Why would they do that? I think I know why.

I think I know why Tony Perkins, who leads one of the most powerful Christian conservative groups in the country, the Family Research Council, would say something that would lead to a headline like this:

Right-wing Christian: Liberals are the real theocrats because they want to help the poor

Perkins says that the government has no responsibility to care for poor people because the Bible expects individual Christians to do so. Then, committing the unforgivable sin of contradiction, says that, “As Christians, we’re responsible for the policies of this government because it’s us.” Yes, he said that the government is “us” but that “us” has no responsibility to take care of poor folks. Perhaps God can sort that one out.

In the mean time, I think I know why Christian conservative Pat Buchanan would generate a headline like this:

Pat Buchanan to GOP: Better to destroy the country than give in to Obamacare

Writing for a strange but influential Christian website called World Net Daily, Buchanan commented on the government shutdown and the subsequent “all-time low” approval numbers for Republicans:

Republicans should refuse to raise the white flag and insist on an honorable avenue of retreat.

And if Harry Reid’s Senate demands the GOP end the sequester on federal spending, or be blamed for a debt default, the party should, Samson-like, bring down the roof of the temple on everybody’s head.

Wow. I said I think I know why these people say and do such things. And now perhaps you can see why, too. It’s right there in Buchanan’s allusion to Samson, the Old Testament hero who was given supernatural strength to fight his foes, including the thousand Philistines that he allegedly slaughtered on one occasion using only the jawbone of an ass.

What Buchanan was alluding to was Samson’s suicide mission to destroy a pagan temple. Here is the biblical account of the end of Samson’s jihad:

Then Samson called out to the Lord, “Lord God, please remember me! Make me strong just this once more, God, so I can have revenge on the Philistines, just one act of revenge for my two eyes.” Samson grabbed the two central pillars that held up the temple. He leaned against one with his right hand and the other with his left. And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” He strained with all his might, and the temple collapsed on the rulers and all the people who were in it. So it turned out that he killed more people in his death than he did during his life.

ted cruz takes down the templeYou see? You see why Ted Cruz is doing what even people in his own party find destructive? You see why Tony Perkins doesn’t want the government feeding the poor? You see why Pat Buchanan would rather see the government fall down on everyone’s head than for Republicans to give an inch? Because these people believe government is a pagan temple. Because these zealots believe liberals and Democrats are pagans worshiping a false god in that pagan temple. That’s why.

That’s why Christianity and conservatism is such a toxic mix. Christianity gives these people what they think are their holy orders to fight the Culture War, the war against paganism. And conservatism, using the vehicle of the Republican Party, gives them what they think is Samson-like power to ultimately win it.

Even if it means taking the country down.

Sean Hannity: A Piece Of Shit Who Believes Putin And Assad Over Obama And Kerry

I write this just after I visited the Sean Hannity show on Monday night and watched the last of a segment featuring Pat Buchanan, an old champion of isolationist Republicans, and Democratic strategist Mark Hannah, who worked on the Kerry and Obama presidential campaigns.

I want to say now, while my emotions are hot and before discretion knocks the edges off my commentary, that if you didn’t think so before, Sean Hannity is a slimy slice of extraordinary foul excrement. Or, to put it in more gritty language: Sean Hannity is a greasy and stenchy piece of shit.

Got that? Sean Hannity, who has a ton of ignorant and bigoted and fact-ignoring viewers, who faithfully watch him do his Obama-hate dance each night (not to mention the gullible who listen to his radio show each day), is a worthless chunk of stool waste. An unpatriotic, un-American hunk of turd who, if there were a God of Justice overseeing the world, would be right now hopelessly swimming his way through the darkest, dankest stretch of sewer pipe in wealthy Centre Island, New York, having been flushed away by his outraged, God-fearing neighbors.

Why?

Because Hannity, sporting an American flag lapel pin, got in a love-bed with Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad, one a former Lieutenant Colonel in the KGB and the other a brutal dictator whose regime gassed women and children in their sleep, that’s why. Because Hannity hates President Obama and John Kerry so much that he would rather get down on his knees and pleasure god-awful authoritarians than acknowledge that Democrats have legitimacy as representatives of the American people and as human beings with a conscience.

Hannity was criticizing John Kerry’s statement that the attack on Syria would be “unbelievably small,” with “no boots on the ground,” and asked Mark Hannah this question:

HANNITY: What do you expect to accomplish? What’s the point?

HANNAH: Can you imagine the devastation that could be wrought against the Assad regime— 

HANNITY: No.

HANNAH : —in a couple of days—

HANNITY: No.

HANNAH: —of American fighters—

HANNITY: No.

HANNAH: —flying into Syria—

HANNITY: No.

HANNAH: —and dropping bombs, and, listen, this would  absolutely accomplish the mission that the President was very specific about, degrading the chemical weapons capacity, deterring…[crosstalk from Hannity and Buchanan]

Then after that revelation of Hannity’s skepticism of American military power, we had this revealing question from the Democrat:

HANNAH: You’re gonna believe Assad, Sean? You’re gonna believe Putin over the word of John Kerry?

HANNITY: Yes. 

Yes, he said that. A man who brags about his love for America, a man who pretends he is God’s gift to American patriotic punditry, said that he would take the word of a horrific dictator and a certified authoritarian over an American diplomat who, no matter what you think of the proposed policy, is trying to defend the integrity of American values.

Then soon followed this:

HANNITY: Mark just asked me who I believed more, Putin or Kerry. Vladimir Putin called Kerry a liar because Kerry was advancing the notion that there are far more moderates than people are seeing here. Now, I think he’s talking about the Free Syrian Army, and that’s the very same military leader that is saying that Israel is an “enemy country.” That doesn’t seem moderate to me. Who do you believe? I believe Putin.

BUCHANAN: First, first, I would not call the Secretary of State a liar, and I would defend the Secretary of State against that…

Thank God that even Pat Buchanan’s dislike for Democrats has limits, even if Sean Hannity’s hatred doesn’t. Let the everlasting record show that Sean Hannity said, “I believe Putin.” All of you Hannity fans out there, all of you who hang on his every word, all of you who nightly suck sweat from his butt crack with a short straw, let those words sink in.

Just a bit later, Sean was suggesting that if we want to be “serious,” we should attack Iran and their “nukes” because they are “the real threat to the world,” by which he means one country, the state of Israel. Buchanan, who famously is not a fan of Israel, would have none of that, saying that Congress should authorize any attack on Iran. Then Sean said Putin filled the “leadership gap” because Obama and Kerry could not make up their minds. Admirably, Mark Hannah followed with this:

HANNAH: You’re listening to Assad and you’re taking their word for it. You’re listening to Putin instead of your own president….you can broadcast this show from Moscow, Sean, how about that?

Yes, how about that? Sean Hannity one night reporting live from the Kremlin and another night reporting from the presidential palace of the trustworthy Bashar al-Assad, both of them now his newest Obama-hating heroes.

Piece of shit.

hannity buchanan and hannah

“As Christianity Fades, The Birth Rate Falls And Third World Immigration Surges”

The White establishment is now the minorityThe demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore.”

—Bill O’Reilly, November 6, 2012

y now we’ve all noticed that some of the adults in the Republican Party are talking about the party doing some soul-searching, making it more appealing to women, Latinos, young people, and, yes, even African-Americans.

These Republican grownups, folks like political gurus Steve Schmidt and Mike Murphy, realize the electorate is changing before their eyes and know that Republicans have to change too.

Ain’t gonna happen.

Not only are the extremists in control of the Republican Party not going to change—can anyone imagine Rush Limbaugh embracing immigration reform, for God’s sake?—it makes no sense for them to change, given what it is that really animates most of them.

There are two major forces that serve to energize the base of the Republican Party today. One is fundamentalist or quasi-fundamentalist religion, which is waging war against Constitution-blessed secularism. The other is an increasingly acute cultural anxiety over the browning of America.

Those two forces meet and merge in the mind of Pat Buchanan, who wrote three years ago:

In what sense are we one nation and one people anymore? For what is a nation if not a people of a common ancestry, faith, culture and language, who worship the same God, revere the same heroes, cherish the same history, celebrate the same holidays, and share the same music, poetry, art and literature?

…The European-Christian core of the country that once defined us is shrinking, as Christianity fades, the birth rate falls and Third World immigration surges.

You see, to people like Pat Buchanan—I give him credit for honesty—a diverse nation is not a nation at all. True Americans must all have European blood and belief. All others represent an existential threat to the country.

About one-half of all American children under five have Buchanan skin, a fact that makes Buchanan’s thin cultural skin crawl. And there is evidence that Americans are slowly embracing the secular nation that our Constitution establishes.

Thus it is that those in the Republican Party who care deeply and disturbingly about the threat to the “European-Christian core of the country” —those misguided but earnest folks who nominated Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, for instance—are not going to tolerate any talk of moderating the party’s positions on the social issues.

The Republican Party platform in 2016 will look much like it did this year, a document that reeks of uncompromising extremism, such as the party’s stance on reproductive rights and the status of homosexuals. The party primary process will continue to produce extremist true-believers who honor that extremist document.

Because people who are moved by faith and fear, folks who are on a mission from God or who are defending their waning cultural dominance, will not be deterred by an unfavorable election outcome. They will not be coaxed or coerced into compromise by people in their party who don’t share their enthusiasm for lost-cause crusades.

So it is that we will continue to see Tea Party-types dominate the Republican Party until such time that there is nothing much left to dominate, at least on the national scene. Republicans will always have a voice at the local and state level, even a voice in the Congress, but with uncompromising crusading conservatives in charge of its national prospects, it will one day become irrelevant as a governing national party.

When that happens, when the browning of America forces Republicans into waging only regional and state and local battles, then perhaps the adults can take the party back.

And America would be all the better for it.

Obama Doesn’t Have A White Problem, Whites Have An Obama Problem

Weeks ago, while a group of us were out registering voters on behalf of Claire McCaskill and Barack Obama, I knocked on a door in a low-income housing complex here in Joplin.

A young woman greeted me. There was the noise of a little one in the background, and I heard the voice of a young man, presumably the woman’s husband or boyfriend. I told her why I was there and she said she wasn’t interested. I turned away and walked down the stairs and on to the next apartment.

Through their open patio door someone heard the man say:

You should have told ‘em we ain’t votin’ for no damn nigger.

That wasn’t the first time I ran into such bigotry while doing the little work I did on the 2008 and the current campaign.

I pass on that story not because I think it is typical of the opposition to Barack Obama this campaign season or last. I pass it on because it is part of that opposition, part of the equation of the 2008 election, part of the reason the 2010 midterm election brought too many bigoted extremists into power.

And it is part of why President Obama is having a hard time convincing a majority of voters that he is a better choice this time than a man who has constantly lied during this campaign, who has misrepresented both himself and Mr. Obama, who has abandoned all pretense of honesty.

And the bigotry we found that evening in Joplin is a large part of why there still is a large number of Americans, mostly Republicans, who don’t believe Obama is either Christian or American, who don’t believe he sees or loves America the way they think—they imagine—they do.

How big a part does such bigotry, such racism play? Beats me. I just don’t know. But it’s a part. It needs to be accounted for. It needs to be addressed. As does more mild forms of race-based opposition to the President.

An AP poll released on Monday showed a depressing result:

In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.

And Hispanics don’t escape the withering eye of whites either:

In an AP survey done in 2011, 52 percent of non-Hispanic whites expressed anti-Hispanic attitudes. That figure rose to 57 percent in the implicit test.

All of that has real electoral consequences:

Overall, the survey found that by virtue of racial prejudice, Obama could lose 5 percentage points off his share of the popular vote in his Nov. 6 contest against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. But Obama also stands to benefit from a 3 percentage point gain due to pro-black sentiment, researchers said. Overall, that means an estimated net loss of 2 percentage points due to anti-black attitudes.

In an election as close as this one, 2 percentage points may as well be 20.

Before I go on, I want to note another finding by the AP study, a finding that should disturb those of us who believe we are on the side of the angels:

The poll finds that racial prejudice is not limited to one group of partisans. Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties. That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).

So we Democrats have some work to do. No, given we are Democrats, we have a lot of work to do.

As I write this, the latest Obama-Romney pre-election polling confirms the disturbing racial polarization extant in America. While it’s not surprising that a Democrat will, once again, not receive the support of a majority of white voters—none has since Lyndon Johnson in 1964—it is, at least to me, a little surprising that, after Mr. Obama’s rather robust showing among white voters in 2008 (43%, two points more than John Kerry in 2004), a Washington Post/ABC poll now indicates that only 38% of whites support Obama, while 59% support Romney.

One has to ask why Obama has, according to the latest polling, kept or increased his numbers among blacks (95% in 2008) and Latinos (66% in 2008), who have been hurt more than whites by the sluggish recovery from the Great Recession, but lost a lot a ground among whites. Is it mere identity? Or is it that Romney, mostly through his surrogates, has subtly (and not so subtly) exploited white angst and turned off non-white voters? Come on. You know the answer to that.

But one seriously has to ask why it is that Obama performs so poorly among working class whites. Obama lost them by 18 points last time, and in 2010, House Democrats collectively lost working class whites by 30 points to the House Republicans, according to NPR. That reportedly was the largest margin since, uh, 1854, the year the Republican Party came into being. What is it among this group of folks that turns them off from Democrats, even white ones?

And Obama isn’t doing well particularly among white men, as this headline a few days ago from CBS demonstrates:

In 2008, white men represented about 36% of the electorate, according to exit polling, and John McCain got a whopping 57% of their vote, Obama only 41%. But Obama’s 41% was the best showing by a Democrat since 1976. Today, polling shows that Romney is leading by an unbelievable 65-32 margin. What accounts for that?

As I have said for more than three years now, what accounts for some of that, and what accounts for some of the lack of white support for Obama generally, is white angst, the feeling that the culture, dominated from the beginning by white faces, is slipping away.

Oh, don’t take my word for it. Or don’t take the word of a xenophobic Republican like Pat Buchanan, who has written extensively on the subject. Try the much respected Michael Barone, a conservative who worked for years at US News and World Report and who now, among other things, appears on Fox as a commentator and holds a job as senior political analyst for the right-wing rag Washington Examiner.

Barone wrote on National Review Online on Monday:

Why are whites more partisan than just about ever before? Maybe because they’re constantly being told that they’re headed toward becoming a minority of the electorate. Self-conscious minorities tend to vote more cohesively. Or because they’re the objects of racial discrimination in, among other things, university admissions, as documented by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor in their recent book, Mismatch. Republicans are often told that their party is headed toward minority status because of the rising numbers of heavily Democratic non-whites.

There it is, all you lurking conservatives who don’t want to admit it. Michael Barone, one of your own, defined the angst among white people and gave us a reason why that angst translates into votes for Romney, for perhaps the last great white hope.

All of which brings me back to that bigot in Joplin who called Barack Obama a racist name, knowing that we could hear him. Is he one of those white people who is experiencing the white angst I have written so much about these past three years? No, I don’t think so. He’s just a run-of-the-mill racist, a punk kid with a mind full of intolerance, a head full of hate. He would be an Obama-hater under any circumstances, even without the threat of losing cultural control.

But he is part of the problem, part of why there is such racial division in America. Unfortunately, the larger part of the problem, to a degree  not easily measurable, are those white folks who would never allow a stranger hear them call the President a nigger, or entertain in public the idea that their opposition is based on what Barack Obama represents.

But in the privacy of the voting booth, these white folks would cast a vote against him out of an unspoken, often unacknowledged, racial anxiety, but call it something else, something less offensive, something less revealing.

Whether President Obama wins another term, or whether Mitt Romney’s cynical strategy of secrecy, duplicity, mendacity, and subtle appeals to white anxiety is successful, the country will soon change. Demographics will see to that. America is browning, my friends.

And then Michael Barone’s excuse for white partisanship, “Maybe because they’re constantly being told that they’re headed toward becoming a minority of the electorate,” will be a reality.

The Darkest Side Of The Right

I have a real hard time believing that J.T. Ready could actually shoot and kill a child.”

—Harry Hughes, region director of the National Socialist Movement

onservatives don’t much like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which does the country a favor by keeping track of America’s haters.

One hater the group was tracking was a man named Jason Todd Ready, who specialized “in bashing immigrants.”  Here is just a snippet of his profile on SPLC’s site:

After being court-martialed twice, Ready was discharged from the Marines for bad conduct in 1996. Ready, who has run for various Arizona offices usually without success, advocates for the placement of landmines on the border and rails against Jews and nonwhites. In June 2010, Ready led a group of armed extremists into the Arizona desert to apprehend immigrants and drug smugglers.

His criminal history apparently began in 1992 when he was arrested for “damage to property and aggravated assault with a weapon,” and his two courts-martial involved “failing to follow an order or regulation, and larceny and wrongful appropriation,” as well as “conspiracy, assault, and wrongful solicitation and advice.” All of that plus this:

In 2007, Ready was pulled over for driving a vehicle with a fake license plate. He was carrying a 9mm Beretta handgun at the time. Ready was arrested and charged for possessing a traffic preemption emitter, which is an illegal device that can change traffic lights from red to green.

So, you can see Ready was not exactly a model citizen. And by now you probably have heard this news:

On Wednesday, police said, Ready, a burly 39-year-old who went by “JT,” shot and killed four people, including a 16-month-old girl, in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert where he lived. He then turned the gun on himself.

But there is a little more to the story than just another bewildering and heartbreaking case where a man with an affection for guns and little affection for mankind went off and killed innocents.

With Ready’s background, it is at first glance very difficult to understand why Arizona’s former state Senate President Russell Pearce at one time had a relationship, if not outright fellowship, with him. But when one thinks about it, the attraction becomes obvious.

Russell Pearce is a Republican whose time as Chief Deputy Sheriff under Maricopa County’s infamous Joe Arpaio made him the perfect guy to help bring shame upon Arizona for, among other things, the state’s adoption of SB1070, an intrusion into the fed’s immigration jurisdiction, at least according to a lawsuit filed by the Obama administration.

And to give you an idea of why Pearce and J.T. Ready may have hit it off, here is what Pearce said, as he described the Administration’s legal action over SB1070:

When you talk about jihad, that is exactly what Obama has against America, specifically the state of Arizona. Think about it. This is the first time in the history of the United States that a sitting President has sided with a foreign government to sue the citizens of its country. For defending our laws? For defending and protecting the citizens of the state of Arizona? It’s outrageous and it’s impeachable.

Jihad. Obama has a jihad against Arizona and America. Impeachment.

A disagreement over immigration law is, in the mind of Pearce, signs of an anti-American holy war perpetrated by our own president. That insight into Pearce’s thinking, coupled with the bold, extremist politics generally practiced by the right-wing today, makes it fairly easy to connect the dots and explain why a man as sick as J.T. Ready was at one time welcomed into the Arizona GOP.

As the SPLC notes, Ready’s attempt at a career in politics began in 2004, as he ran for a state House seat. He lost, hopefully because of statements he made like this one:

He told a reporter that the state could improve its education system if it would “deal with this mass illegal influx of foreign students who do not even embrace the same language and culture as Americans and who spread tuberculosis, whooping cough, lice, and other third-world biological diseases to other children.”

John Rudolf at HuffPo wrote:

Ready served for several years as a Republican precinct committeeman in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, and Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican and former Arizona Senate majority leader, endorsed Ready’s run for Mesa City Council in 2006, which he lost. The two were linked over their shared opposition to illegal immigration.

And even though Pearce denies it now, there is plenty of evidence to show that he was more than just a duped acquaintance who is being victimized by a hostile press determined to connect him to a sociopath.

Stephen Lemons of The Phoenix New Times, objected to Pearce’s claim he didn’t know Ready all that well. Lemons wrote:

Indeed, the pair once were so close that Pearce attended Ready’s baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in 2004, Pearce ordained Ready an elder in the church’s Melchizedek priesthood, an office held by adult men of the Mormon faith.

I don’t know much about the Mormon’s Melchizedek priesthood, but I do know that they don’t take such activities lightly and it would be a big deal to ordain someone in the LDS church in any capacity. Mormons mean business with those kinds of things.

In fact, as Lemons reported,

According to LDS spokeswoman Kim Farah, the person being ordained gets to choose who will ordain him. She explained that often a young man will choose his father to do the ordination.

So, Ready’s choice of Pearce meant something. And that ordination was in 2004, around the time that Ready’s political adventures—with his dramatic expressions of white cultural angst— began, so it’s not like Pearce didn’t have a clue about Ready’s admittedly evolving hatefulness.

And we have this from the Anti-Defamation League:

In April 2007, a local newspaper exposed Ready as a neo-Nazi after his profile on NewSaxon, a white supremacist social networking site, was revealed.  Even after being “outed” as a neo-Nazi, Ready continued to make public appearances, including sharing the podium with State Senator Russell Pearce during an anti-immigration protest at the Arizona State Capitol in June 2007. The protest attracted a crowd of approximately 350 people, many of whom cheered for Ready.

The SPLC quoted something Ready said at a neo-Nazi gathering in Phoenix in December of 2007:

The truth is that negroids screw monkeys and rape babies in afreaka [sic]. Then stupid white man who licks kosher jew rear lets negroids in. … Stop Negroid immigration and integration now!!! Nature will take care of the rest

So, if all this is true, it is clear that Pearce was not so quick to judge Ready as “darkness took his life over.”

Now, it is important to say that Russell Pearce is not responsible for what J.T. Ready did. Neither is the Republican Party in Arizona. And it is only fair to note that Ready’s pathology apparently worsened over time. Indeed, some important conservative leaders in the party did eventually object to Ready’s status as a Republican precinct committeeman in 2008, albeit a long seven months after, as the ADL pointed out, “Ready handed out racist and anti-Semitic literature at a Republican Committee meeting.”

But here is the point, beyond the mere sadness of Ready’s latest crime: This disturbed individual—and the signs of his derangement were everywhere—found at least a temporary home on the ground floor of a political party that too frequently has offered itself as a refuge for people who love lots of guns and ammo and who believe some variation of what J.T. Ready said in 2009:

This is a white, European homeland. That’s how it should be preserved if we want to keep it clean, safe, and pure.

If the Republican Party wants to right itself, if it wants to demonstrate to Americans that it will not tolerate even the faint smell of someone like J.T. Ready, then it should use this tragedy as a way of reevaluating some of its most extreme cultural rhetoric—expelling Pat Buchanan from its ranks would be a good start—and reconsidering some of its most outrageous positions on gun rights.

Pat Buchanan Will Have To Find Another Enabler

MSNBC has given Pat Buchanan the left foot of fellowship, finally.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Mr. Buchanan appearing on MSNBC as a guest, as a spokesman for the reactionaries in our society, where he can be properly confronted.  But he shouldn’t be paid by a reputable network, particularly one that is trying to attract rational, reality-based viewers.  My guess is he will end up on Fox “News,” where he will feel right at home with a commentator who feels comfortable enough on god-awful “Fox and Friends” to tell a black congresswoman to “step away from the crack pipe.”

Buchanan’s affection for a white-dominated culture is obviously shared by a lot of American whites. His belief that diversity is not a strength but a weakness is also popular among a narrower swath of folks with pale faces.  His conviction that homosexual acts are “unnatural and immoral” is standard stuff for evangelicals, fundamentalists, and conservative Catholics.

But most people, I believe, prefer to see sponsored the idea that our country is, in the words of none other than Ronald Reagan,

the one spot on earth where we have the brotherhood of man.

Fittingly, Buchanan’s commentary on the dismissal was defiant, calling some of his critics’ demands “un-American” and referring to them as “blacklisters” and “thought police.”  He also accused them of “demanding that my voice be silenced,” and seeking “systematically to silence and censor dissent.”

That’s kind of odd, since nobody I know of is demanding that he be silenced at all—he certainly remains free to write and speak all he wants, as well as sign a contract with Fox or even CNN.  The point is a news network is not obligated to pay him to promote views that are not only increasingly disdainful of an evolving America, but grossly offensive to a large number of Americans.

So, is anyone trying to “silence” him? No. But compensating him for espousing such views has become unseemly, much like it would be unseemly to compensate someone for, say, arguing that American women should remain barefoot and pregnant.  As outrageous as that sounds, it is no more outrageous than many of Buchanan’s views on our diverse culture.

Finally, I don’t know any employer in America that is duty-bound to keep paying a person no matter what he says or does.  MSNBC is a commercial enterprise.  And if a large number of its viewers no longer want the network to subsidize Buchanan’s reactionary message, it is making at the very least a business decision.

But I, for one, would like to see him back as an occasional guest, where the MSNBC host would not feel obligated to pretend that his views were in the mainstream, or politely ignore some of his most outrageous assertions.  That way his views could be aggressively challenged, without the blessing of a paycheck.

Gut Reactionaries

A recent study in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching indicated that the reason a lot of people—including biology teachers—refuse to believe that evolution is a fact is not because they don’t understand it sufficiently but because they don’t “feel” in their bones that it is true. (Read the findings here;  it is fascinating.) As one article about the study put it:

Gut feelings may trump good old-fashioned facts…

Keep that idea in mind, as you read on.

Ryan Lizza appeared on Morning Joe this morning to defend his recent New Yorker article on President Obama and how the reality of Washington has changed him from someone seeking to bridge the “surmountable” gap between our two political parties to someone who has had to accept the political reality that polarization is “the most important dynamic of the last forty years,” and that the consensus, “in the middle” politics of the type we had during the Eisenhower years and beyond is long gone.

Lizza noted that when Obama ran for his U.S. Senate seat, he

criticized “the pundits and the prognosticators” who like to divide the country into red states and blue states.

And Obama’s famous 2004 speech at the Democratic Convention, which catapulted him into the Democratic Party stratosphere, sounds, well, unnervingly naive today:

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is the United States of America!

It turns out, as we all know now and as Lizza wrote and repeated this morning, that,

There really is, frankly, a red America and blue America.

Yep, there really is.

Two prominent political scientists cited in Lizza’s piece, Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal, “have devised a widely used system to measure the ideology of members of Congress,” and the verdict is:

both the House and the Senate are more polarized today than at any time since the eighteen-nineties.*

Now, we can argue about how and why things got that way.  My own theory is one that Lizza only suggested:

It would be hard for any President to reverse this decades-long political trend, which began when segregationist Democrats in the South—Dixiecrats like Strom Thurmond—left the Party and became Republicans. Congress is polarized largely because Americans live in communities of like-minded people who elect more ideological representatives.

I submit that the primary—but not the only—reason we find ourselves in such an ideologically polarized condition has to do with what I have called white cultural angst, expressed best by the now-exiled Pat Buchanan in his latest book, Suicide of a Superpower:

Due to the immigration and higher birthrates among people of color, America is becoming less white and less Christian — and therefore inevitably less Republican.

One can see how this might raise the level of anxiety among those on the mostly-white right and cause them to hole up in Lizza’s “communities of like-minded people who elect more ideological representatives.”

I thought about all this after I wrote a piece (“An Unlimited White Checking Account For Underclass Blacks”) on Newt Gingrich’s exchange with African-American journalist Juan Williams in front of a crowd of white Republicans from—this is important—South Carolina.

For my efforts, I was excoriated by another Joplin Globe blogger on his blog:

I don’t believe I have ever seen one quite so hate filled, disdainful or outright repugnant from him after almost four years of reading his “stuff”… His blog was RACIST in tone and substance and his attacks are nothing less than a call for class warfare between blacks and whites, rich and poor, and any other various segments of society.

God only knows what the comment section on that blog post contained, since I stopped reading after the first sentence of the first response, which happened to come from yet another Globe blogger, who wrote:

I read the same post and almost puked it was so vile and disgusting in its blatant racism and classism.

As you ponder those strange criticisms, I take you back to the beginning of this piece, which referenced the study on why some folks don’t accept the theory of evolution as valid. Ohio State University Research News put it this way:

In an analysis of the beliefs of biology teachers, researchers found that a quick intuitive notion of how right an idea feels was a powerful driver of whether or not students accepted evolution—often trumping factors such as knowledge level or religion.

That this “intuitive notion” or “gut feeling” is “a powerful driver” of what we believe helps, I suggest, explain why white anxiety has led us to where we are in terms of our cultural divide.  Pat Buchanan, the champion of white angst, wrote in his book—in a chapter titled, “The End of White America“:

Those who believe the rise to power of an Obama rainbow coalition of peoples of color means the whites who helped to engineer it will steer it are deluding themselves. The whites may discover what it is like to ride in the back of the bus.

That, I argue, is a visceral reaction—just like the one expressed by the two Joplin Globe bloggers—to what Buchanan sees on the cultural landscape. It is that same gut feeling that compelled a woman in South Carolina, responding to Newt Gingrich’s encounter with Juan Williams, to say the following directly to Mr. Gingrich—who didn’t bother to correct her:

I would like to thank you for putting mister Juan Williams in his place the other night.

That, my friends, is what a lot of the political polarization we see around us is about.  Since the civil rights advances of the 1960s, the white right has been anxious about what might happen to the days of their dominance. Putting  people of color in “their place” is what drives Pat Buchanan and others who believe white culture is being threatened by “intellectual, cultural, and political elites.” Those elites, Buchanan says,

are today engaged in one of the most audacious and ambitious experiments in history. They are trying to transform a Western Christian republic into an egalitarian democracy made up of all the tribes, races, creeds, and cultures of planet Earth. They have dethroned our God, purged our cradle faith from public life, and repudiated the Judeo-Christian moral code by which previous generations sought to live.

If you listen very closely, you can hear strains of that cultural gut-reaction fall from the lips of nearly every conservative Republican, from the campaign trail to talk radio and other conservative media and to, sadly, the Joplin Globe blogosphere.

_________________________

* Lizza also quotes “two well-known Washington political analysts,” Thomas Mann (of the bipartisan Brookings Institution) and Norman Ornstein (of the conservative American Enterprise Institute) who don’t believe the ideological divergence between the two parties has been symmetrical:

…citing Poole and Rosenthal’s data on congressional voting records…since 1975, “Senate Republicans moved roughly twice as far to the right as Senate Democrats moved to the left” and “House Republicans moved roughly six times as far to the right as House Democrats moved to the left.” In other words, the story of the past few decades is asymmetric polarization.

Most of us on the liberal side of the divide believe that symptomatic of this asymmetric polarization is the fact that Mr. Obama began his presidency by moving too far in the direction of unappeasable conservatives, who slapped his face time and again and demanded even more concessions. It took much too long for Mr. Obama to realize that short of giving Republicans everything they wanted, they could not be satisfied.

A Tale Of Two Conservatives, Not Two Countries

If you haven’t heard, Pat Buchanan, an old-time über-conservative and analyst on not-so-liberal MSNBC, has a new book out that basically pronounces America dead.

While I didn’t catch his appearance on white nationalist radio (a talk show called “The Political Cesspool“), I did listen for a bit to the hard-core Buchanan on The Diane Rehm Show.  She asked him about the title of his book, Suicide of a Superpower, to which he replied:

I was looking at my country with deep concern and sharing the view of that 79 percent of Americans who said yesterday in that poll, Diane, that the United States of America, the greatest country on earth, the country of Eisenhower and Nixon, you and I grew up in, is in decline. And I think it is in grave decline and I’m not sure the United States can turn it around.

Now, before we go on, notice that Buchanan’s “the greatest country on earth” happens to be “the country of Eisenhower and Nixon.” In between those two Republican presidents was, of course, Kennedy and Johnson, but as we shall see, those times weren’t America’s greatest moments, in Buchanan’s reckoning.

Pat explained why America is in an irreversible decline, which I will, as a public service, summarize:

♦ Our society is “disintegrating…”breaking down along the lines of race, culture, religion, and philosophy.”

♦ The idea “that diversity is a strength is a canard, it is nonsense.”

♦ We used to all speak English and be Judeo-Christians (it is okay to be a Mormon because they are a lot like Judeo-Christians, especially their complexions.) Only about 75 percent of us are now Christians, which means, of course, that we no longer have “a moral code…by which to live.”

♦ We all used to “read the same newspapers, listened to the same radio stations, ate the same food, danced to the same music,” and now we have that nasty diversity thing going on.

♦ The American Southwest will soon essentially become a part of Mexico.

♦ White people will soon become a minority. (Chapter 4 of his book is titled, “The End of White America,” and he suggests that we have therefore “imperiled our union.”)

And on and on.

Buchanan was asked what could possibly be done to prevent this doomsday scenario for America, and he replied using my all-time favorite James Burnham quote:

I think the solution’s — James Burnham had a great statement. He said, where there are no solutions there is no problem. I don’t think there is a solution to what I’m describing. To turn around the thinking of people after the cultural, moral, social revolution of the ’60s has changed the fundamental thinking of people.

Now it is apparent why Buchanan earlier used the phrase, 

the greatest country on earth, the country of Eisenhower and Nixon…

Those two presidents bookended those nasty 1960s, when the country went to hell by expanding the rights of all our people and making them a little more comfortable in the white’s America.

 He went on: 

I mean, we have two countries inside America morally, culturally and socially. We can see them all clashing over right to life, abortion, gay rights, all these things, stem cell research, God in school, prayer. We’re fighting with each other over that. That’s beyond politics. That’s beyond even a great political leader like Ronald Reagan. It is beyond politics. Politics can deal with our fiscal problem and all that but, Diane, we are two countries.

Don’t you see? If those of us who disagree with Pat Buchanan and the conservative movement would just change our minds and agree with them on all those divisive issues, or perhaps better still, pack up and move, they could have their country back and America could be great again.

As it is, out of the mouth of Pat Buchanan, we just can’t live together in a powerful America.

But I won’t let Pat Buchanan have the last word on this one.  Please take the time to read the following 1990 remarks by none other than Ronald Reagan, whom very few conservatives dare to contradict.  The remarks, for this former fan of Mr. Reagan, still give me chills:

And now, let me speak directly to the young people and the students here. I wonder yet if you’ve appreciated how unusual—terribly unusual—this country of ours is?

I received a letter just before I left office from a man. I don’t know why he chose to write it, but I’m glad he did. He wrote that you can go to live in France, but you can’t become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Italy, but you can’t become a German, an Italian. He went through Turkey, Greece, Japan and other countries. but he said anyone, from any corner of the world, can come to live in the United States and become an American.

Some may call it mysticism if they will, but I cannot help but feel that there was some divine plan that placed this continent here between the two great oceans to be found by people from any corner of the earth — people who had an extra ounce of desire for freedom and some extra courage to rise up and lead their families, their relatives, their friends, their nations and come here to eventually make this country.

The truth of the matter is, if we take this crowd and if we could go through and ask the heritage, the background of every family represented here, we would probably come up with the names of every country on earth, every corner of the world, and every race. Here, is the one spot on earth where we have the brotherhood of man. And maybe as we continue with this proudly, this brotherhood of man made up from people representative of every corner of the earth, maybe one day boundaries all over the earth will disappear as people cross boundaries and find out that, yes, there is a brotherhood of man in every corner.

Thank you all and God Bless you all.

Gray-Blind

As I listened to Pat Buchanan and others talk this morning about Obama’s Libyan speech, I thought how comforting it must be to live in a Manichean world, a world in which all the decisions are easy ones, a world in which uncertainty and doubt are enemies, reservation and restraint weaknesses. 

That’s the world of conservatives like Buchanan.

He told us this morning that he was initially against intervention in Libya.  But now that we have gone in we have to go in all the way and get Qaddafi.  There’s no other possible solution. There’s no middle ground. Qaddafi’s a snake who will come back to bite us later, if we don’t get him now. He must go and we—America’s war-weary men and women—have to be the ones who take him out.

Pat Buchanan—whose combat experience is limited to punching a policeman over a traffic ticket while the young conservative was in college—confidently said it would take two weeks—two weeks—and it would be over.  Then we can get the Saudi’s to fund the aftermath—whatever that is—and get the Egyptians to supply troops and on and on. 

Just like that, Pat says. 

George W. Bush famously said, “I don’t do nuance.”  Indeed. You see, as with all those who are gray-blind, their eyes will not permit them to see the nuances involved in dealing with the different players in the world and the various events that challenge us both to act and to refrain from acting, all in America’s interests. 

In Libya, wisdom seemed to indicate that we act, in Obama’s words, “to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger,” but an Iraq-like invasion “is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

In other words, Libya is a unique situation. We can and will do our part, but not the whole part. “Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake,” said the President.

Why is that so hard to understand?

Monday Morning Presidents

“Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States.”

                        —Barack Obama, Letter to the Congress regarding the commencement of operations in Libya

 

Each political party is split over Libya.  War does that.

Democrats, some with legitimate concerns about executive branch overreach, are coming down on each side. Dennis Kucinich has even suggested impeachment, although he dialed that back on Monday night. 

Republicans are both for and against the President’s actions, some taking both positions at the same time.  Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana is even worried about the cost of the Libyan action, the years and years and billions upon billions of dollars spent in Iraq-Afghanistan apparently having escaped his notice.

Movement conservatives, as usual, are hysterical, albeit in disparate ways.  Newt Gingrich, when Obama hadn’t acted, wanted him to act. When Obama did act, Gingrich changed his mind. Sort of. 

Frank Gaffney, who has obviously lost command of his faculties, wrote the following on Big Peace, a site created by the morally-defective Andrew Breitbart:

What I find particularly concerning is the prospect that what we might call the Qaddafi Precedent will be used in the not-to-distant future to justify and threaten the use of U.S. military forces against an American ally: Israel.

I will spare you the details of this Beckian conspiracy, but suffice it to say that the whole Libyan thing is a pretext for “raining down cruise missiles on Israeli targets in the West Bank.”

Joe Scarborough, whose rantings this morning were not a substitute for a coherent position, said this morning that Obama handled the crisis perfectly last week but this week he “stumbled into an African civil war.” 

Scarborough, like others, played the “double-standard” card, asking why we aren’t in Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and on and on.  Never mind that the Arab League or the United Nations or Europe aren’t interested in going into those places and thus we would have to do it alone, something Scarborough claims, speaking out of the other side of his mouth, we cannot do.

Or Scarborough and others ask why we didn’t go into Rwanda or Sudan or, again, on and on.  Never mind that Barack Obama was not president during those times and thus is not responsible for our failure to act at the time.  In any case, does the fact that we failed to do something we maybe should have done in our history obligate us to keep on not doing it? Huh?

Pat Buchanan claimed, and received much agreement among Morning Joe panelists, that Obama’s actions, including bombing Kaddafi’s Bab al-Azizia military compound in Tripoli, went beyond the U.N. resolution authorizing the Libyan assault.  Except that all one has to do is read that resolution and see how wrong Buchanan and others are about that. 

While the Security Council excludes “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory,” it does authorize “all necessary measures” to “protect civilians.”  Before going on television and spouting such nonsense, these people should at least read the damn document.

I heard some say that since Obama claimed Kaddafi “must go,” if we fail to get him to go, the mission is a failure. Anyone who thinks that doesn’t understand the difference between the President’s desire and the objective of the actual mission.  Nowhere in Obama’s direct statements about the mission does he say the point is to remove or kill Kaddafi.

I confess that the more I listen to Obama’s critics, both left and right, the more I am convinced his actions were wise—under the circumstances.  This is one of those times when there is an intersection between our national interests—regional stability including oil price stability during these tenuous economic times—and our concern for humanitarian interests.  And in his letter to Congress, Obama made both of those points:

U.S. military forces commenced operations to assist an international effort authorized by the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council and undertaken with the support of European allies and Arab partners, to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and address the threat posed to international peace and security by the crisis in Libya.

And,

Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States.

Sure, we have interests in the Middle East, most of which revolve around our dependence on oil and thus our dependence on relatively stable and predictable oil prices.  There’s not a damn thing wrong with the United States protecting its interests, economic or otherwise. 

What galls some on both sides of the ideological divide is that we are also making the argument that our actions are based on humanitarian considerations. They claim we are being hypocritical. No. We’re not.  As the Obama quotes above make clear, we are acting for both reasons.  And we are acting in concert with Britain and Europe and the Arab world.  For a change.

As Ed Rendell pointed out this morning, what would these critics of the Libyan intervention be saying today if instead of acting, we would have stood by and watched the slaughter of thousands upon thousands of civilians at the hands of a man who vowed to show no mercy to them?  Many of the same critics would ask why we let that happen, when all we had to do was institute a no-fly zone. 

Clearly, Mr. Obama’s worst critics, as usual, want to have it both ways. He dithered. He stumbled. He waited on the French. Yet, he acted too swiftly. He violated the Constitution. He should have waited on a vote of the Congress.

Except that the time had run out. It was either act or likely thousands would have died.  As I have said previously, I could understand the motive to both act and not act.  But now that I have heard the Monday morning presidents talk, it appears to me that Mr. Obama—so long as he remains true to his statements about the limited nature of our actions—has done the right thing.

And now that the immediate mission seems to have succeeded, the President needs to clarify what our mission is going forward. There is still a messy civil war going on in Libya and certainly we have taken sides.  Just how much more we will do on behalf of the rebels is the great uncertainty at this point.

It remains for Mr. Obama to explain what comes next, if anything.

Out Of The Mouths Of Conservatives

I know it’s common for people like me to say that the Republican Party is a footslave of corporations. And I know it’s easy for folks on the Right to tune out that truth, but what if it came from a right-winger?  Huh?  Would that help?

Yesterday on Morning Joe, during a discussion on the Wisconsin fiasco, conservative Republican Joe Scarborough asked conservative Republican Pat Buchanan a question relative to his presidential run in 1992 and 1996:

Scarborough: Pat, you have gone against the Republican Party time and time again; talked about the vanishing middle class; talked about over the last 30-40 years the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer…and a lot of people that supported Pat Buchanan n ’92-’96 were fed up union workers in the rust belt. So, I’m a little surprised by your position on collective bargaining, that you think they need to break these public unions.  Doesn’t that go against what you’ve been fighting for over the past 15-20 years?

Now, that’s just a wonderful question.  Although a Republican, Buchanan is not a believer in free trade, which has decimated many union jobs.  In fact, he wrote a book against free trade called, The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy.  I have sympathy for some of his arguments in the book, although I haven’t finally adjusted my erstwhile conservative thinking on the so-called free trade issue. It’s complicated, as they say.

But what is not complicated is that Republicans have completely sold out to what passes for free trade in this world and Buchanan has called them on it for years.  And Scarborough was right to point out his inconsistency in appealing to unionists in the past and his present defense of Governor Walker’s assault on public employee unions in Wisconsin. 

Here is Pat’s answer to Scarborough’s question, which was a dodge, but pay particular attention to the ending:

Buchanan: Well, I think the trade policy of the Republican Party has virtually destroyed middle America. It’s virtually destroyed these auto workers and these other unions, Joe, because, you know, people moving their factories out to China, it’s an easy thing to stop, but the big corporations control the Republican Party.

There you have it.  From the mouth of a conservative Republican:

The Republican Party has virtually destroyed middle America.”

The big corporations control the Republican Party.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

It’s About Time NPR Fired Juan Williams

The buzz this morning on Morning Joe was over National Public Radio’s firing of Juan Williams.

The consensus was that NPR acted irresponsibly and with great political correctness over Williams’ comments to Bill O’Reilly regarding O’Reilly’s spat with a couple of The View girls over his statement that “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”  Billo had asked Williams what he thought about that statement, to which Williams replied,

I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.

Williams went on to try to explain to the hard-headed O’Reilly that it was dumb to blame all Muslims for the actions of a few extremists and it appeared that Williams, a regular on the Republican “News” Channel, was trying to “reason” with the unreasonable host.

Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan, and other Morning Joe regulars were beside themselves over NPR’s reaction, spouting the usual conservative line about political correctness and other nonsense and suggesting that NPR should hire him back.  They blamed left-wing bloggers (who, by the way, blog in their “underwear,” according to someone on the show) for starting the wave that ended in Juan Williams’ departure from NPR.

But while I agree that Williams’ comments in this case weren’t in themselves worthy of dismissal, the truth is that any regular listener to NPR, no matter one’s political affiliation, recognizes that NPR is merely protecting its brand of journalism, a brand that has behind it a steadfast commitment to the profession, as opposed to some of the stuff one witnesses on cable news channels day in and day out. 

Juan Williams, while still affiliated with NPR, decided to forsake his credibility as a journalist and associate himself with the mostly faux-journalism practiced on the Republican “News” Channel.  Good for him.  I’m sure he is paid well for his trouble.  NPR’s problem was that it didn’t fire Williams when he first made his move away from NPR’s brand.  NPR waited too long to cut him off and the exchange yesterday with O’Reilly was just a way to do something it should have done long ago.

Just recently, NPR issued a directive to its employees not to participate in Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” or Stephen Colbert’s “March to Keep Fear Alive.”  Participation in those events, which NPR will cover as a news outlet, would violate NPR’s Ethics Code.  Here are just two restrictions from the code:

1. NPR journalists may not run for office, endorse candidates or otherwise engage in politics. Since contributions to candidates are part of the public record, NPR journalists may not contribute to political campaigns, as doing so would call into question a journalist’s impartiality.

2. NPR journalists may not participate in marches and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers, nor should they sign petitions or otherwise lend their name to such causes, or contribute money to them.

The point is that journalism is a profession and journalists ought to act professionally.  News reporting should be as free from personal prejudice as possible, even if a reporter does have strong feelings about the issue on which he or she is reporting.  Prohibiting its employees from associating with the Stewart-Colbert rallies is an important example of NPR protecting its reputation as producing reliable journalism.

On the commentary side, NPR listeners, me included, who have listened to Juan Williams’ contributions to NPR  for years, were dismayed by his moonlighting at the Republican “News” Channel, particularly his association with Bill O’Reilly, where he has sometimes filled in for the blowhard.

In fact, in 2009, after Williams said some things about Michelle Obama that were right out of the right-wing nut playbook, NPR asked the Republican “News” Channel to stop identifying Williams as an “NPR news political analyst,”  even though many long-time NPR listeners believed, rightly, that he should have been fired for that appearance and those comments.

It’s been a long time coming, but NPR has finally done the right thing by getting rid of Juan Williams, who with every appearance on O’Reilly and other right-wing shows, tainted NPR’s brand name.  I know most conservatives believe NPR is a “liberal” news source, but then again those same conservatives think the Republican “News” Channel is “fair and balanced,” so it really doesn’t matter what they think. 

What matters is that NPR doesn’t succumb to the tendency these days of abandoning real journalism in favor of what passes for journalism today on cable “news” networks, particularly one that has an unapologetic and symbiotic relationship with the Republican Party.

“We’re At War!” He Shouted

Sometimes I think those 9/11 terrorists brought down more than the twin towers on that day.

I woke up this morning to the sound of Pat Buchanan, on Morning Joe, shouting that President Obama should send federal marshals down to Florida and stop that strange pastor from burning the Quran.

We’re at war!” Pat bellowed.  “The president should act.” “He’s the commander in chief.”

He then proceeded to give examples from history when presidents essentially violated our nation’s laws for the greater good in time of war.  Let the courts sort it out later, he said.

Wow.  I couldn’t believe my ears.

Buchanan further said that if President Obama does not act, and our soldiers die because of what happens, he “is not qualified to be the commander and chief of our troops.”

His words, “We’re at war!” keep ringing in my ears. 

War, indeed. But war on what? On whom?

On the eve of the ninth anniversary of an assault on our country, an assault designed to terrorize our population, change us as a people, we have a former Nixon foot soldier on national television urging the President of the United States to shut down the voice of a pathetic man in Florida.

A man who has been poisoned by the theological cousin of Pat Buchanan’s own brand of faith—conservative Catholicism—and a theological second cousin of the fanatic faith that drove and still drives Quran-loving young men to kill innocents.

Amazing. 

And disturbing.

Imagine if Obama did act in the way Buchanan suggests.  Imagine if he did play dictator-for-a-day and sent federal marshals to the pastor’s church and had him arrested or some such thing.

Forget for a moment, if you can, the disastrous and lasting effects on our national psyche such an act would have.  That act would play into every false charge made by the right-wing against President Obama, that he is a despot in democratic clothing, that he hates America and its values.

But I am thankful today that Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 and Pat Buchanan’s advice will go unheeded.  I won’t even speculate what a President John McCain would do, especially given the fact that Buchanan suggested the President’s poll numbers would shoot up by ten points, if he were to take his advice.

And I am thankful that we yet live in a place where both Pat Buchanan and Pastor Jones can speak freely, however crazy they sound.

“Welcome To A Long, Hot Summer Of Right-Wing Race Baiting”

America’s Anchor, El Juan-bo, pointed me to an article, “Welcome to a long, hot summer of right-wing race baiting,” which nicely summarizes the recent race-baiting history of the far, and not so far, right as applied to Barack Obama.

I, for one, am grateful for the New Black Panther non-controversy because it confirms what some of us have claimed for a while now: there are prominent members of the right-wing who want to linguistically lynch the uppity negro in the White House.

From Glenn Beck calling the president a racist last year to Limbaugh’s recent, “If Obama weren’t black he’d be a tour guide in Honolulu,” there is no doubt that these people see Barack Obama as a threat to their comfortable white existence.

Sadly, as Eric Boehlert at Media Matters pointed out, the “Beltway press” has been missing in action, and he added:

I assume journalists are nervous about the blowback that would come with calling out the right-wing media for so blatantly playing the race card. So instead of doing their job, let alone stepping out on a limb and actually condemning the hate brigade, journalists mostly look away. Although honestly, if the White House were currently occupied by the first Jewish president, for instance, and his hardcore partisan critics spent their days and nights broadcasting trumped-up allegations about how the president hated Christians, it’s hard to imagine how the Beltway press corps wouldn’t considered that to be newsworthy, not to mention deplorable.

But today, it’s mostly crickets as the radical right engages in naked race-baiting — another reason the forecast calls for racial malice all summer long.

Finally and unfortunately, on cable television, instead of crickets we have a lot of crackers.  On MSNBC there is Pat Buchanan, who last week said President Obama didn’t have the kind of “gut patriotism” that conservatives had.  On CNN, there is Erick Erickson, editor of the rabidly right RedState.com, who defended Glenn Beck’s “Obama is a racist” rant by saying,

Given all the terrorists, thugs, and racists Barack Obama has chosen as close personal friends (see e.g. Rev. Wright), it’s not a stretch to say it.

And, of course, there is Fox “News.”

________________________________

* From HuffPo:

Erickson — whose list of inflammatory statements include comparing White House health care communications director Linda Douglass to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, calling Michelle Obama Barack’s “Marxist harpy wife,” and describing outgoing Supreme Court Justice David Souter as “the only goat f***ing child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court…

 

Arizona Attempts To Prevent “A Giant Kosovo In The Southwest”

Even Republicans outside of Arizona, reacting to that state’s unfortunate response to the illegal immigration problem—in effect now becoming a quasi-authoritarian state—generally say that the law is justified because the federal government has failed to act on the problems associated with our southern border.

In other words, because Republicans—mostly hard-core conservatives on the radio and television*—derailed comprehensive federal immigration reform, efforts that began in 2005, any state government is now justified in beginning the process of turning itself into the kind of place only a fan of fascism could love. 

As Brit Hume, who is the senior political analyst for Fox “News” and thus the network’s top working Republican journalist, said this morning, the Arizona response was “reasonable” in passing a “somewhat draconian law” because “the fault really lies with the utter failure of the federal government in Washington to deal with this issue.”

So, since the defense of Arizona Republicans is that the feds failed to act, let’s look back briefly on how the right-wing helped squash sensible national reforms, reforms that would have helped states like Arizona (indeed, John McCain, from Arizona, championed such sensible reforms before he gave up and joined the right-wing rabble), and would have prevented the harsh, reactionary measures that now have become law in that state. 

The view from the hard right is that, essentially, our cultural identity is at stake:

Just as a representative sample of how the right felt about an emerging agreement on immigration reform, here’s what Don Feder, a popular columnist at the right-wing FrontPageMag.com said on April 7, 2006:

The Senate has reached a “compromise” on illegal immigration. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist  (who, by his conduct here, just lost the ’08 nomination) called it a “huge breakthrough” – a moral collapse would be more like it.

Feder went on to call the compromise between Republicans and Democrats a “rape of our national identity,” and ended with this flourish:

The party’s conservative base – its very essence – is furious with this unpardonable betrayal. 

If this gift to illegal aliens becomes law, there will be no amnesty for the Republican Party.

Speaking of our national identity, its rape notwithstanding, Tom Tancredo, a congressman from Colorado at the time and a loud-mouthed leader of the hard-core anti-immigration movement in the U.S. House, had said in November of 2006 that Miami, Florida, “has become a Third World country,” due to its large Hispanic population. 

Never mind that those Hispanics were also Americans. 

And never mind that people we would call Hispanics were living in America long before the lilliest white Pat Buchanans arrived to then dream of sending them back to Latin America.

Speaking of Pat Buchanan, MSNBC’s token conservative culture warrior, he said in 2006, “you’re going to have a giant Kosovo in the Southwest,” and told Chris Matthews :

BUCHANAN: I think what’s coming is the complete balkanization of America, and I’m afraid it’s going to be by ethnicity and culture, and language, and every other way. And we’re going to be like the Balkans, only we’ve got a much larger and more prosperous country. And so, then, it’s not like the country you and I grew up in, Chris, whereby –

MATTHEWS: It’s already not that.

BUCHANAN: — we were monocultural. We were monocultural.

MATTHEWS: Well, it’s already not that.

Buchanan also told an approving Glenn Beck in 2006:

What I’m saying is, we’ve got a fifth column here, European-Americans are leaving California. And in an amount of time, by 2050, this will be so Mexican, it’ll be like Kosovo is to Serbia, and we will lose the Southwest. Not militarily – ethnically, linguistically, socially, culturally.

Buchanan wrote in a book released in 2007 (Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed are Tearing America Apart) that America was committing “national suicide.”  Here’s why:

The American majority is not reproducing itself. Its birthrate has been below replacement level for decades. Forty-five million of its young have been destroyed in the womb since Roe v. Wade, as Asian, African, and Latin American children come to inherit the estate the lost generation of American children never got to see.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 2005 to 2006, our minority population rose 2.4 million to exceed 100 million. Hispanics, 1 percent of the U.S. population in 1950, are now 14.4 percent. Since 2000, their numbers have soured 25 percent to 45 million. The U.S. Asian population grew by 24 percent since 2000, as the number of white kids of school age fell 4 percent. Half the children five and younger today are minority children.

He continued:

…the greatest cohort of immigrants here today, legal and illegal, is from Mexico. One in five Mexicans is already here. But unlike the immigrants of old, Mexicans bear an ancient grudge against us as the country that robbed Mexico of half her land when both nations were young. By one survey, 72 percent of Mexicans look on Americans as “racists.” By another, 58 percent of Mexicans believe the American Southwest belongs to them.

…By 2050, more than 100 million Hispanics will be in the United States, concentrated in a Southwest that borders on Mexico. As the Serbs are losing Kosovo, so we may have lost the Southwest.

We may have lost the Southwest” is not meant to be ironic, even considering how we “won” parts of the Southwest in the first place.  In fact, there is little doubt that “liberal” immigration policies on the part of the Mexican government led to a later rebellion of those white American “immigrants,” who declared independence from Mexico in 1836, after they had grown to outnumber the citizens of Mexican Texas.

After the United States annexed Texas, and further provoked the Mexicans to war, the ensuing U.S. victory over Mexico in the Mexican-American War—which made Texas, California, and other parts of the Southwest part of American territory—satisfied the widespread sense of white American superiority, as expressed in the notion of Manifest Destiny, an idea that God himself had ordained our aggressive expansion across the continent all the way to the San Francisco Bay, our new gateway to the Pacific Ocean.

Now, with that understanding, let’s look at how Buchanan interacted with Sean Hannity, soon after Buchanan’s book was released:

HANNITY: You say we’re on a path of national suicide. I want to ask this question directly because you say it’s a day of reckoning. Do you really believe that America, the country we all love as we know it, is in jeopardy of existing?

BUCHANAN: I think — here’s what I think. I think America may exist, but I’ll tell you this: I do believe we’re going to lose the American Southwest. I think it is almost inevitable. If we do not put a fence on that border –

HANNITY: I agree with you.

BUCHANAN: — you’re going to have 100 million Hispanics in the country, most of them new immigrants from Mexico, which believes that belongs to them. What’s going to happen to us, Sean, in my judgment, is what is happening right now: We are Balkanizing. We are dividing and separating from one another politically, morally — on issues like abortion or Terri Schiavo — racially and ethnically, when you get Jena and then you get Don Imus, and all of these things ripping us apart. All the things that used to pull us together and hold us together no longer do.

HANNITY: You say that the greatest invasion in history of the Third World, et cetera, et cetera, talking about the invasion on our borders, and I agree with you. That to me is the number one security issue we have.

You talk about the culture is collapsing, the nation is being deconstructed along lines of race and class in America, a fiscal crisis is looming, Medicare, Social Security is going bankrupt, and we don’t have politicians that can get along enough to solve the problem.

I use Pat Buchanan as the salient example (the record is replete with other fine specimens) of what’s really going on in Arizona because Pat, to his credit, doesn’t hide behind economic or safety issues.  His view is that rampant and unchecked immigration is a threat to white culture, something that many conservatives won’t state openly, but nonetheless believe.

How else to explain the lack of congruence between the rhetoric of the Tea Party movement—Obama is threatening our liberty—and its members’ simultaneous support of the Arizona law?

As Paul Krugman pointed out this morning on This Week, it’s rather odd that most of the same people who think government is intruding into our lives as Americans don’t mind that Arizona policeman intrude into the lives of Hispanic Americans—who, no doubt, will be targeted as suspects, should the police in Arizona take this law seriously enough to enforce it.

But they had better take it seriously, because the law carries a penalty for not doing so: lawsuits from citizens (mostly white, no doubt) who don’t think local government is enforcing the law.

When it comes to protecting white culture, white folks just aren’t going to take it anymore, even if it means crapping on the white man’s most precious treasure: the Constitution.

________________________________________________________

*Various liberal groups also opposed some aspects of the immigration reform bills, from limiting family reunification visas to provisions providing for a “guest worker” program that labor groups deemed as creating a working underclass with no benefits, hurting American workers.  But it was the fierce and boisterous opposition from the right-wing, over more moderate (at the time) voices like John McCain and even George W. Bush, that ultimately doomed any chance of fixing the problem on the federal level.

“Disguising Hate As Heritage”

I don’t know if Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell meant to insult black folks with his recent proclamation of April as “Confederate History Month.”  I only know that I’m predisposed to not trust a graduate of any school founded and associated with Pat Robertson, who would be a gold medalist, if espousing conspiracy theories were an Olympic sport.

Of course, I realize that’s the wrong way to judge someone, and just because Gov. McDonnell received his law degree from the former Christian Broadcasting Network University (now the low-ranking Regent University School of Law) doesn’t mean he isn’t a smart guy.  So, I’ll grant that he is a smart guy. 

But, then, that’s what makes his omission of slavery in the proclamation, and his subsequent apology, a little bit suspicious.

Jon Meacham in the New York Times recently examined the history of a “long and dispiriting tradition” of “efforts to rehabilitate the Southern rebellion,” and figures “Virginia’s neo-Confederates are refighting the Civil War in 2010.”

He continued:

Whitewashing the war is one way for the right — alienated, anxious and angry about the president, health care reform and all manner of threats, mostly imaginary — to express its unease with the Age of Obama, disguising hate as heritage.

Briefly citing the thread of white angst that runs through the history of the South, Meacham says,

…the enduring problem for neo-Confederates endures: anyone who seeks an Edenic Southern past in which the war was principally about states’ rights and not slavery is searching in vain, for the Confederacy and slavery are inextricably and forever linked.

I heard the other day, among others, Pat Buchanan, the conservative defender of white angst on the “liberal” MSNBC, try valiantly to separate the issue of slavery from the Civil War, as if slavery were merely background noise, too faint to be heard over the roar of Confederate canons as they were gallantly defending states’ rights and the right to sever ties with the Union.

But Meacham got it right by accusing “Lost Causers” of trying to “recast the war” in political, rather than moral, terms:

If the slaves are erased from the picture, then what took place between Sumter and Appomattox is not about the fate of human chattel, or a battle between good and evil. It is, instead, more of an ancestral skirmish in the Reagan revolution, a contest between big and small government.

These days, much white angst is hiding behind one side of such skirmishes, and smart politicians like Governor McDonnell, educated at a school founded by the king of conspiracists, know how to exploit that angst.

Darwin’s Wasp

In a year in which many of us celebrate both Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th birthday of the “Origin of Species,” it is apropos to use what some have called “Darwin’s wasp”—the Ichneumonidae—to make a point about the state of the Republican Party.

The parasitic wasp, which lays its eggs inside a caterpillar so that its larvae can feed on it, carefully guides its sting into each ganglion of the prey’s central nervous system, not to kill it, but to paralyze it, so that its offspring will have fresh meat to eat. The victim is literally devoured alive from the inside out.

Darwin found this situation incompatible with his religious beliefs. He wrote,

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.

The Republican Party, like the unfortunate caterpillar, is being devoured from the inside out.

Caustic conservative chatterers, from Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity to Glenn Beck, along with some extremist politicians like Sen. Jim DeMint and Rep. Joe Wilson, have attached themselves to the party and are, issue by issue, rant by rant, consuming its electoral life. They have effectively banished from the party moderates and patriots like Colin Powell, reasonable, moderately conservative writers like David Brooks or Sam Tanenhaus, and virtually anyone who dares to croon slightly off key in what has become a choir of fear, singing a menacing mantra: We hate Barack Hussein Obama.

Thus, the party of Lincoln is fast becoming a parochial, nationally irrelevant party.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan—in an electoral landslide—received 55% of the white vote. In 2008 John McCain—who lost by nearly 10 million votes—also received 55% of the white vote. What was the difference? The percentage of the overall electorate for white voters dropped from 88% in 1980 to 74% in 2008. So, while Republicans maintained their hold on white voters, the political clout of those voters had declined.

Understandably, Barack Obama had overwhelming support among African-Americans (95%) in 2008, but Republicans have otherwise struggled to attract more than 10% of black voters since Reagan’s 14% showing in 1980. Since then the percentage of black voters among the overall electorate has increased from 10% to 13%.

But the real tale is told by the Hispanic vote.

In 1980 Hispanics comprised only 2% of the electorate, and Jimmy Carter received 54% of their votes compared with 36% for Reagan. In 2008, Hispanics had grown to 9% of the electorate (a 450% increase), and John McCain—having forsaken his moderate position on immigration reform in favor of the hard-line conservative stance—received only 31%. Obama won 67% of the Hispanic vote.

Add to this that Asian-Americans are now 2% of the electorate (the same as Hispanics in 1980) and that Obama managed to garner 62% of their votes, and the picture becomes very clear.

No matter what Republicans may think about these trends, they cannot be ignored with impunity. It may be that conservatives these days are incapable of embracing a philosophy adjusted to fit the reality of changing demographics. Certainly, a staunch adherence to purist conservative doctrine plays well in places like Jasper and Newton counties in Southwest Missouri, or in the Old South, but it is a doomed strategy for long-term national Republican success, even if the party manages to make modest inroads in 2010.

Rather than acknowledge this reality and adjust their positions on the various issues accordingly, most Republican “leaders” are content to prostrate themselves before Rush Limbaugh’s Attila the Hun chair, and in one sycophantic spasm after another confirm that they are content with a regional appeal.

Joe Scarborough, the popular conservative host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” has written a book urging conservative Republicans to heed the advice of the founder of conservatism, Edmund Burke, who “had contempt for rigid ideologues of all stripes.” So far, such advice goes unheeded.

Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal—the scourge of contemporary conservatism—came to pass largely because of the alignment of otherwise disparate groups that ignored important, but comparatively marginal, differences in favor of gaining political power sufficient to win elections. From 1932 through 1964, this coalition of “big city” political machines, labor unions, minorities, progressives, and Southern whites, won seven of nine presidential elections, losing only to WW II hero, Dwight Eisenhower.

If Republicans hope to continue as a national party, they have to shout down the strident voices of conservative ideologues and submit to demographic reality. It is difficult to understand why there isn’t one leader in the party who will take on the obviously unhinged Glenn Beck, just to name one glaring example. But so far, none has assumed the mantle of leadership necessary to save the party from irrelevance.

In the early days of the 20th century conservative movement, William F. Buckley, a conservative and a Republican, gave the left foot of fellowship to the John Birch Society, who, he surmised, would ultimately prove lethal to the conservative cause. He did the same thing to the Objectivists, most especially Ayn Rand. Mr. Buckley much later had to call out conservatives like Pat Buchanan and Joseph Sobran, when they expressed opinions that appeared to embrace an anti-Semitic philosophy. In that regard, Buckley acted like a true father of the movement, an adult who had to call out phony or wayward conservatives in the name of preserving the conservative family and by extension the Republican Party.

There is no one in the conservative movement with the stature William Buckley enjoyed (before he embraced late in life and inexplicably, Rush Limbaugh), and there certainly appears to be no adults in the Republican Party, but perhaps there is someone out there with sufficient courage who is willing to take on the conservative bullies. We can only hope.

Darwin lost at least part of his faith because he could not imagine that God could create the Ichneumonidae and its seemingly cruel method of survival. For him, such cruelty seemed incompatible with decency.

Today, the parasitic wasps in the Republican Party—those who are using the party only to advance their extremist ideological causes with little regard for the party’s survival—may not cause many to lose faith in God, but the tolerance of such people by party leaders causes many of us to doubt their decency.

And sadly, while there are many caterpillars in which Darwin’s wasp can lay its eggs, there is only one Grand Old Party.

___________________________________________________________

COMMENTS:

juan don writes:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009, 06:10 PM

RDG,

Excellent post. The desert clime agrees with you.

___________________________________________________________

 anson Burlingame writes:

Thursday, September 17, 2009, 04:14 PM

Duane,

You wrote, “There is no one in the conservative movement with the stature William Buckley enjoyed …” I agree. Perhaps George Will comes close to Buckley’s intellect as to some degree does Thomas Sowell (knowing you don’t like the lader one bit).

I am also not at all aware of any left commentator today who meets the standards set by Buckley, or Will and Thomas for that matter. If there is one I would be the first to ask for his publication on a regular basis in the Globe.

As we all correctly ponder the issue of media bias, I look for thoughtful alternatives on the left but have difficulty doing so.

Any suggestions?

Anson

____________________________________________________________

Duane writes:

Thursday, September 17, 2009, 04:29 PM

Anson,

First, Thomas Sowell, who used to be semi-respectable as a columnist, has lost all credibility since Obama has come on the scene. He has repeatedly made oblique and sometimes not so oblique references to Obama and murdering dictators. Unacceptable.

You asked for a “couple” of suggestions on liberal columnists. Here is my “short” list:

Paul Krugman (Pulitzer economist and generalist) would offset George Will nicely.

Eugene Robinson (Pulitzer and wonderful writer)

Michael Kinsley (he used to appear regularly on Bill Buckley’s program).

Jonathan Alter

Frank Rich

E.J. Dionne, Jr

David Corn (from the Nation, a REAL liberal)

Eleanor Clift (who used to appear in the Globe, and whom I used to loathe)

Arianna Huffington (who with her popular online site would appeal to net surfers)

All of these names I sent to Carol back in July in hopes that one or two might regular appear in our paper.

Duane

Woodrow Wilson Is Dead

Woodrow Wilson is finally dead. And Barack Obama may have driven the metaphorical stake through his bleeding heart.

Major Garrett, of Fox News, asked President Obama a provocative but revealing question at the NATO press conference Saturday in Strasbourg. While sometimes it is certainly the duty of reporters to challenge politicians, the question was based on a premise supporting the previous Bush administration’s use of U.S. military power: nation building. The last part of his question contains an assumption about our troops’ mission that Obama–without a teleprompter–ably dismissed with the kind of intelligibility that conservatives used to demand of their leaders:

MAJOR GARRETT: Thank you, Mr. President, and good afternoon. I’d like to ask you about a law that’s recently been passed in Afghanistan that affects the 10 percent of the Shia population there. A summary of it says it negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage, and restricts a woman’s right to leave the home. The United Nations Development Fund for Women says this legalizes the rape of a wife by her husband. I’d like your assessment of this law, number one. Number two, will you condition future troop movements of the U.S. to Afghanistan on the basis of this law being retracted or rewritten? And if not, sir, what about the character of this law ought to motivate U.S. forces to fight and possibly die in Afghanistan?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, this was actually a topic of conversation among all the allies. And in our communication — communiqué, you will see that we specifically state that part of this comprehensive approach is encouraging the respect of human rights. I think this law is abhorrent. Certainly the views of the administration have been, and will be, communicated to the Karzai government. And we think that it is very important for us to be sensitive to local culture, but we also think that there are certain basic principles that all nations should uphold, and respect for women and respect for their freedom and integrity is an important principle.

Now, I just want to remind people, though, why our troops are fighting, because I think the notion that you laid out, Major, was that our troops might be less motivated. Our troops are highly motivated to protect the United States, just as troops from NATO are highly motivated to protect their own individual countries and NATO allies collectively. So we want to do everything we can to encourage and promote rule of law, human rights, the education of women and girls in Afghanistan, economic development, infrastructure development, but I also want people to understand that the first reason we are there is to root out al Qaeda so that they cannot attack members of the Alliance. Now, I don’t– those two things aren’t contradictory, I think they’re complementary. And that’s what’s reflected in the communiqué.

MAJOR GARRETT: But do you object to the law–

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We have stated very clearly that we object to this law. But I want everybody to understand that our focus is to defeat al Qaeda and ensure that they do not have safe havens from which they can launch attacks against the Alliance.

Obama’s insistence that our military is in Afghanistan, not as part of a grand scheme to make the world in America’s image, but to protect our own interests, would have been welcome news to conservatives before the movement was hijacked by former disc jockeys, who under Republican administrations have never met a war they didn’t like.

Obama’s original opposition to the war in Iraq revealed an abiding old-school conservatism in his approach to foreign policy. He said back in 2002:

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

Such talk could have been spoken by a paleo-conservative like Pat Buchanan, who wrote a piece in 2003 titled “Who’s War” for his magazine, The American Conservative, founded, according to David Corn, so that Buchanan could “Kick the bejesus out of the neoconservatives.” Speaking of neocon’s like Perle and Wolfowitz, Buchanan told Corn :

They not only want to go into Iraq and disarm and overthrow this regime. They want to make Iraq a satellite of the US, democratize it and use it as a base camp for modernizing the Arab and Islamic world. That is imperialism pure and simple.”

An article in Time summarized Pat’s thinking this way:

Buchanan in effect is charging that such strong-minded and staunch officials as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, to say nothing of the President, are mere putty in the hands of such wily plotters as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Elliott Abrams, bending willingly to their traitorous agenda.

Now, Barack Obama is no Pat Buchanan. But his early opposition to the ill-conceived Iraq war reflects an understanding of the proper, limited use of American military strength. Obama told the New Yorker in May of 2007:

There is a running thread in American history of idealism that can express itself powerfully and appropriately, as it did after World War II with the creation of the United Nations and the Marshall Plan, when we recognized that our security and prosperity depend on the security and prosperity of others. But the same idealism can express itself in a sense that we can remake the world any way we want by flipping a switch, because we’re technologically superior or we’re wealthier or we’re morally superior. And when our idealism spills into that kind of naïveté and an unwillingness to acknowledge history and the weight of other cultures, then we get ourselves into trouble, as we did in Vietnam.

It may be a bit of a stretch to say that the Wilsonian impulse to “remake the world” is dead and gone. But at least while Obama is in the White House, we should expect our military to be used only to protect our interests, defined as Obama did yesterday, clearly and concisely.

And–ironically–the founders of the “conservative movement” would approve.

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