Getting Out of the Gutter.

by: canadian gal

Fri Jun 12, 2009 at 23:06:36 PM EDT

(cross-posted at kickin it with cg)

Amidst a climate of war, global warming, skyrocketing deficits, whopping trade imbalances, gas gouging, corporate corruption, a burst housing market bubble, illegal government spying, rampant corruption, torture, war atrocities, racism, marriage inequality a crumbling infrastructure, Bin Laden, failing schools, loss of competitiveness, war profiteering, a shrinking middle class, health care crisis and more... some Republicans have more than lost their way. They have gone so far astray that it may too late to turn back.

canadian gal :: Getting Out of the Gutter.
In light of recent events, Paul Krugman notes that right-wing hate has become a serious threat:

But with the murder of Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic, closely followed by a shooting by a white supremacist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the analysis looks prescient.

There is, however, one important thing that the D.H.S. report didn't say: Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.

Now, for the most part, the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. haven't directly incited violence, despite Bill O'Reilly's declarations that "some" called Dr. Tiller "Tiller the Baby Killer," that he had "blood on his hands," and that he was a "guy operating a death mill." But they have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House.

Stoked by bigotry, religious intolerance, willful ignorance, and belligerent nationalism have turned many on the right into mean and hateful ideologues. The cultural and intellectual 'wars' are furthered by demagogues ranting about the evils of liberalism, the welfare state and those who would seek to remove god from their society. Michael Rowe observes the party-split in, "Death at the Holocaust Museum and the Degradation of the American Dialogue."

The difference between John McCain and Sarah Palin became clearest to me in the middle of the campaign last summer.

At a town hall meeting, McCain was confronted by an elderly woman who told McCain that she was a supporter of his because Obama was "an Arab." McCain was clearly uncomfortable, and it was patently obvious why. It had nothing to do with McCain's feelings about Arabs. It had to do with an old-school Republican accidentally moving the rock, and coming face to face with what actually lived beneath it. He recognized that the woman was making an unambiguously racist statement about his opponent, and he was mortified to be asked to answer it. Even though McCain famously and horribly bungled his answer ("No ma'am, he isn't. He's a decent family man.") I knew when he meant. He was addressing the intended racial slur and disavowing it, however badly.

In that moment, I felt deeply for my Republican friends who, on some level, must also be experiencing the embarrassment and discontent of recognizing that their party had been hijacked by racists and religious fanatics who derided education and achievement as "elitist."

But the alarms about just how bad things are even being rung by some 'conservatives.'  Joe Scarborough, former Replubican Member of Congress and talk-show host on the Today Show:

I don't know if it was the death of the old Republican party. Maybe the next election will be the death of the old Republican party. Are Republicans going to wake up? Are they going to realize that not only do they need Dick Cheneys in the party, but they need Colin Powells in the party? They need to expand--I mean we should want everybody in the party that we can get and not have a harsh ideological test. That's what I talk about in the book. We all run around talking about Reagan, Reagan, we've got to be more like Reagan. Well, we've got Reagan's ideology down, smaller government, less taxes, but we forget Reagan's temperament. We have to have a better temperament. We can't be shrill. We can find the middle of America. Ronald Reagan, everybody's quoting Ronald Reagan. Palin was quoting Ronald Reagan --

Rowe explains just how poisoned the discourse has become:

There was a time when intellectual honesty was not considered unpatriotic; when compassion for, and understanding of, your fellow man was a sign of strength, not weakness. There was a time when the phrase Have you no shame? meant something, and the First Amendment was not used as toilet paper to wipe up the excremental verbal degradation of vulnerable segments of the American population. A time when it was expected that citizens would understand the difference between free speech and irresponsible speech. Somewhere along the line, a cancerous segment of American popular culture and media cunningly exploited the long-standing, honorable American "cowboy" motif and mentality. They grafted cruelty, divisiveness, and ignorance to it, making the two appear indistinguishable, and natural allies. And they are neither, or at least ought not to be.

There is no Environmental Protection Agency to measure hate pollution in national dialogue, and no mechanism in place to warn us when the poisonous rage spewed into the national consciousness by shock-jocks, poisonous television pundits, megachurch leaders, and oh-so-subtle politicians, has reached dangerously toxic levels.

Much like the other crazed political parties of the historic past, many Republicans seem determined to assign subhuman status to a large group of their own citizenry. Perhaps a starting point for the 'conservatives' wanting to get out of the gutter would be to stop casting your lot once and for all with the same ignorant, racist fools whose complete lack of ability to think either critically or rationally, have damned near turned your party in the crumbling and dangerous ruin that it has become.

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*breathe out* (2.00 / 3)

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

DHS Report (2.00 / 3)
I'm surprised you didn't reference the DHS report on right-wing extremism and the ensuing controversy in the wake of recent events.  It's an X-ray of what's ailing us and was uniformly denounced by our worst public perpetrators of the affliction.  The debate over it now is indicative of how we will deal with our immediate future.  It's a stick we can use to beat some sense into our hate-mongering yet overly vocal public advocates of racism, intolerance and subterranean fear.  If the situation were reversed we would hear of little else in the public square but the injustice and irresponsibility of indifference, that you are either with us or against us and that it is a matter of the deepest patriotism to take a stand.  Let's not forget the significance of the Murrah building bombing in our recent social history.

The 'terrorism' narrative in US popular culture has been widely misused but rarely applied in self-diagnosis.

[ Parent ]
yeah... (2.00 / 3)
this is more of a moral rant ;)

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
Re: yeah... (2.00 / 2)
Well it's reassuring to read, thanks, sometimes it's good to realise that we are not isolated in our frustration over these issues.

[ Parent ]
Something to inscribe on a plaque (2.00 / 1)
...perhaps in a Kansas courtroom

The 'terrorism' narrative in US popular culture has been widely misused but rarely applied in self-diagnosis.

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
How can "moderates" continue to support the GOP. (2.00 / 3)
 In another thread Chris an I had short exchange over my inability to understand how gays could support the republican party. CG yout piece speaks to a larger question. How does anyone who considers themselves a moderate stay connected to this party. They have employed a strategy that for the last 40 years has played on the racial prjudices of americans. They have derided as unpatriotic anyone who disagrees with their foriegn poilcy. They have allowed, without condemnation, hate speech by groups identified and allied with their party. I regained some respect for John McCain when he reacted as he did to the woman Rowe refers to. Sarah Palin seem to activley encourage the vitriol coming from the crowds at her rally's.
 If my party, and I unapolegeticly consider myself a liberal democrat, went after gun merchants or fundementalist christians the way the right goes after abortion clinics and non-christians I hope I would have the strength to say enough and leave.

It depends on what you call support (2.00 / 2)
The only way that the party can reform itself, is from within.

The shedding of "Independents" like Tucker Carlson hasn't really done us much good. The rise of snide "Independents" like John Stossel who make noise about Libertarian leanings, and retreat from responsibility for what happens within the party, while throwing as much force as they can behind GOP candidates and policies as they can without much commentary when it goes awry doesn't help.

Worse, when you have toadies like Glenn Beck trying to stay clear and away from anything looking like responsibility for his actions or thoughts, one would like to think that our staying with the party is a sign that the Republicans can recover--because while there are fair weather "Conservatives" out there, some of us have been trying to get the party off the Crazy Rails for some time.

With limited  success, thanks to the Neocon and Religious Right convergence of purpose. There are some of us who are still with the party, because the Democrats do not offer a vision consistently. Do not really offer the voice that we feel best represents our views. And while the Republican leadership is torn, there are still folks do offer that vision. It is rarer, but if we are to get the party back to real fiscal responsibility--and that doesn't mean tax cuts galore, but actual efficient spending and taxation--and back to support of the civil rights issues that will foster real responsibility, as opposed to the moralist stance that the Big Tent's acceptance of the Religious Right has given us, then we cannot counter that anywhere else.

I want my party back. And giving up on it just doesn't seem quite right.  

[ Parent ]
Could you name one of those "folks that offer that vision" who are in a position of leadership? (2.00 / 2)

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
I can name at least two, and both from my old state of Maine (2.00 / 3)
Olympia Snowe and Sue Collins. Not in anywhere near the leadership positions that I'd rather see--Rockefeller Republicans have not been terribly popular with the Neocon and Religious Right, what with their worrying about budgets, and actually looking at the economy. Snowe has been in a leadership position in the Senate with her seniority, and her lack of grandstanding, and yet sits on very powerful Committees and has been long an advocate for smarter military spending, and long term economic planning, and education.  

Maine has been very much a bastion of Republicans, and it also gave the party its first female Presidential candidate.

Neither "lead" by shouting from the rooftops, and most of the so called "leaders" of the party, don't draft legislation, and don't have much more power than their ability to frown, to cajole and to raise money--but few of these talking heads wield any real power, since most aren't actually elected to any office.

And that is part of the problem. We keep listening to idiots who have the time to grandstand--as opposed to folks who are actually doing the governing, drafting legislation, and trying to hammer them out in committee.

While folks who show up on the news get the headlines, they aren't doing much. Not really.

And as I prefer to lead a kitchen from being on the line, and I prefer to lead a bouncing crew from the floor, I put more trust and more credence to the folks who are doing, as opposed to talking.  

[ Parent ]
perhaps... (0.00 / 0)
then this 'rant' is directed to the likes of hubie.  but like john i think it would be interesting to know who you think these leaders are.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
Tucker Carlson is a sexist (0.00 / 0)
pig who believes in the entitlement of the rich.  He may occasionally trash the far right, but he definitely is not the kind of person I see as an asset to any party.

As long as the republican party's belief system is that "fiscal responsibility" is about keeping the money working for the rich and powerful........I don't get how anyone who cares about democracy can support the current republican.

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
Louis D. Brandeis (Supreme Court Judge)

Seems to me the current republican party's belief system changes the notion of for the people to for the rich and powerful people.  

"You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy. But you cannot have both."
- Louis Brandeis

[ Parent ]
I'm always a bit amused by the "fiscal responsibility" tag (2.00 / 1)
of the Republicans and not because Bush managed to undo all of Clinton's good work in balancing the budget.  I don't think any on either side of the aisle wants fiscal irresponsibility; we just disagree on how that money is spent.

As a current example, we could afford universal healthcare if we'd lower our defense budget.  I'd like to see some overseas bases closed; the cold war is long over.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
I'm less amused by it (2.00 / 1)
Because at this point, it's used as code for "no new taxes" as opposed to what fiscal Conservatism is, which is about efficient fiscal policy. Long term growth, less taxes when appropriate, higher taxes when appropriate, and more judicious use of the Federal Reserve as a goad for investing, as opposed to opening the gravy train.

But the Neocon movement poisoned that well with the gottverdammt Grover Norquist quote...

[ Parent ]
Conservatives, at least the ones I read, (2.00 / 2)
claim to support classical liberalism as promoted by Adam Smith. However, they back policies that marry some of the negative aspects of merchantilism with laissez-faire capitalism. It is really a monstrous hermaphrodite that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the rest of society.  

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Neocons (2.00 / 2)
have embraced a model that promotes disastrous laissez-faire policies, and a foreign policy model that makes the turn of the century adventurism look very nearly tame in comparison.

Even Teddy Roosevelt, who took trust busting to heart, was caught up in the dreams of empire--though, at the time, the thought was the brown, black, and yellow folks couldn't handle their affairs.

What bothers me about the model, is that it is predicated on destroying the middle class, and strips our industrial base. It is a short sighted strategy that only promotes growth in terms of banking and the stock market, and is just plain not sustainable in any fashion.

And sadly, they dominate the "Conservative" literature market--though, a lot of the market dominance for sales comes down to large buys by folks who stockpile them, give them out as gifts, and it's a manipulation of the "market" and is supposed to prove their popularity and bolster credibility, while exposing the bankruptcy of the model's ethics.  

[ Parent ]
Can I just say... (2.00 / 1)
Kudos to you Hubie for staying and setting up a stall of a kind of republicanism the US needs in the long run.

After 2000, and then 2004, I can well understand why liberals and democrats would just want the Republicans out of power for a couple of generations. But monopolisation of power is bad, even for parties I support (look what 12 years has done to my British Labour Party) and a healthy debate about ideas and policies is the best tonic for democracy.

Proper trust-busting anti state monopoly, anti any monopoly economic liberalism (heck I know you call it fiscal conservatism but classic economic liberalism is exactly what it is) has a logic and depth of thought behind it. Combined with forms of social liberalism, it's actually a pretty consistent and has been a powerful post war position in most of the Western World.

But somehow the Republicans have been even more damaged by the post 60s culture wars, and fixated on a kind of bible thumping, gay bashing version of identity politics which the democratic party (especially after the bruising primaries) seems to have abjured.

Let's hope that Obama helps make the Republicans face up to the bankruptcy of the 'southern strategy' and then they can keep the democrats honest.

But Kudos to you Hubie for being Daniel in the lion's den. I think it speaks no end of good for democracy, free exhanges of ideas, and of course, the ever Mighty Moose.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
I'll agree with those kudos (0.00 / 0)
I enjoy having hubie here. He seems reasonably intelligent, for a Republican. ;~)

I wouldn't go too far in criticizing the Republicans for playing identity politics. That's one of their biggest complaints against the Dems. And there's a lot of truth in the accusation. Instead of being the party of the 'old white guys' the Dems are the party of 'anyone that isn't an old white guy'. That's why black or gay conservatives get such a hard time from most people. "How can you be a Republican?" That's pure identity politics.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Well, the neocon movement hasn't met a problem that (2.00 / 2)
can't be solved with a tax cut.  :)  Tom Coburn's solution to healthcare reform is...a tax credit.  Someone needs to tell them that the only worthwhile Grover is the one on Sesame Street.  :)

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Oh, I don't know about that. (2.00 / 1)
They also think problems can be solved with force.  

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
True. n/t (2.00 / 1)

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
Revenge of the Nerds (2.00 / 2)
Sometimes I feel like I'm trapped in a "Nerds" movie where everything is black and white and two dimensional and all the kids and adults with the power and money are rotten to the core and driven by pettiness and jealously.  Take the whole Palin/Letterman tempest in a teabag for example.  Please.

I'm still shaking my head over that one -- how anyone could have the chutzpah to suggest children are unsafe around David Letterman.  Christ.  

the joke was plain awful and inappropriate. (2.00 / 3)
the response to the joke was even worse.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
Missed that... (2.00 / 1)
...links anyone?

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
The joke involved Palin's daughter getting knocked up (2.00 / 2)
by Alex Rodriquez (Yankee's third baseman).  Palin assumed Letterman was talking about Willow (the 14 year old who was with her at Yankee Stadium [and who looks older than 14]) when Letterman was talking about the 18 year old who had actually been knocked up and had since become a spokesperson for the abstinance crowd.

It was a stupid joke, regardless of which daughter Letterman was talking about, but the Palins are milking this for all its worth, including suggesting that Willow wouldn't be safe around Letterman 'cause, you know, he's a perv.  Someone needs to clue the Palins in on how to give a firm response to something and then move on.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
i understand it a bit differently than happy. (0.00 / 0)
but here's a link that includes palin's response.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
I just watched that for the first time, (2.00 / 1)
I happen to agree with Palin on this one. What was that sound I just heard? Was that hell freezing over?

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
i actually agreed... (2.00 / 1)
with both you and palin too...  that is until she suggested that letterman was a sexual predator. she took it too far and thus lost any moral ground.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I should have qualified that agreement. (2.00 / 2)
I meant that I agreed that his excuse/explanation about meaning Bristol instead of Willow was weak and transparent. And I also agree with her that the joke was inappropriate in the first place.  

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
I'm spending a few days with my Aunt, who is a very conservative voter. (2.00 / 2)
And for all the tangents she can take in some of our conversations, I find some of these comments remarkable:

o  she wishes Obama well.  I won't belabor the point of how much of stretch that is for her, but the fact that she means it illustrates what a narrow monocultural choir Limbaugh is preaching to.

o  she wants this country off oil, and thinks the last administration missed a chance to push Detroit and that the current administration is right to seize the opportunity.

o  she has no tolerance for any of these hate groups, from the anti-gay ranters to the holocaust deniers.

My aunt is on the other half of the ever-shrinking-GOP at the moment - that half that is across the divide from the "racists and religious fanatics".  My aunt goes to church every Sunday and is not the absolutely most racially evolved person - and the GOP is starting to shed even her...

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


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