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Bits and Pieces April 12, 2010

Posted by Paige of Quarrel in two rights make a wrong, we're only gonna die.
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Some things I’m thinking about but don’t have a great deal to write about:

1.) The disproportionate number of women who were targeted and threatened by right-wing extremists following the passage of healthcare reform. Women don’t make up any where near half the democratic caucus, but seemingly accounted for about half of threats.  Dear media, can we talk about this?

2.) Robert Reich’s Fiefdom of the Boomers. Former Clinton Labor Secretary Reich’s proposal to prevent the coming collapse of entitlement programs under the glut of retiring Baby Boomers looks a lot like a return to feudalism!  His plan is to convince the (generally conservative) Boomers to support increased immigration as immigrant workers will pay into entitlements supporting aging Boomers and help reverse the trend of a shrinking ratio of workers to retirees.

I’m all for plans to tear down borders or defend immigrant rights, and I kinda love how much of an eff-you this would be to younger xenophobes, but wow, holy bold-faced cynicism using immigrants and the coming debate on immigration reform! Also, unless we’re gonna swing wide the gates to a huge number of people and then actually pay all those immigrants fairly, this isn’t a real fix at all.  But ‘Foreigners keep out, unless willing to support our aging Me Generation’ will look nice on a copper plaque.

Reich doesn’t seem to mention those immigrants becoming citizens and getting the same entitlements after they help us out of this jam.

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“They got the guns” September 9, 2009

Posted by Paige of Quarrel in two rights make a wrong, we're only gonna die.
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I haven’t written about politics in months. I simply don’t know how to deal with what I’m seeing and hearing. I don’t know how to respond. Perhaps this is how people, especially the ones without power, the youth, the minorities, the poor, perhaps this is how they feel in any time that historians will later end up universally prefacing with the word “turbulent.” Perhaps this is what activists felt in the early 60s, before the years of assassinations and riots and endless war, just seeing the storm gathering on the horizon. Will it blow this way? Will it pass us by?

I don’t know what to say about the seas of angry white people on the news. I don’t understand why they are so damn angry, while those who should be outraged, who should be fed up, seem so apathetic. I don’t know how to engage in a debate when there is no debate, just one side screaming threats.

And all these guns at political events? Just a year ago, you had to sign a loyalty oath to get anywhere near a presidential event. Just a year ago, to openly criticize Bush “during a time of war” was called “unamerican.” Now those same voices on the Right openly threaten revolution and secession on the evening news. All through the Bush years, we watched innocent people exercising their freedoms on public streets get gassed, tazered, beaten and arrested in efforts to put down any dissent. Now members of Congress can’t even speak at their own events?

Tonight, the President will speak. He’s most likely going to throw the public option under the bus. If this takes the form of a very nasty conservative bill Like the one Max Baucus is putting forward, a Republican bill that still won’t get a single Republican vote and acts as a huge giveaway to insurance companies, then it’s up to us to kill it from the Left. All of this shouting will have been for nothing and the crazies on the Right will have won. Again.

I don’t know how to be engaged in this fight. It’s just so depressing. Where is my generation? Why are they keeping so silent? Why won’t anyone stand up to this angry white minority? Why is the issue being framed in seemingly every news outlet as if this fight is between two equal, philosophically differing groups, rather than as further proof of the dangers of domestic right-wing terrorism? Why can’t the Dems see that rolling over like this will only encourage this type of behavior in the next fight and the next? Will another assassination wake them up? How about the one after that?

I don’t understand and I don’t know what to say. At every point, good policy and rational thought has lost in this fight. The Left is clearly intimidated and it’s only going to get worse if we let them get away with these tactics.

Where is your voice? Where is your anger?

The political is personal June 10, 2009

Posted by Paige of Quarrel in we're only gonna die.
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This whole series of tubes is clogged with a lot of people up in arms about the outing of the liberal blogger Publius by National Review Online’s Edward Whelan III (conservative legal analyst, Harvard Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard Law magna cum laude, Deputy Assistant AG at OLC during W’s 1st term, former Scalia clerk, size 11 shoe, huge Kenny G fan*, and, ironically, president of something called the “Ethics and Public Policy Center”).  This comes on the heels of Publius’ colleague Hilzoy’s recent outing as well.

Add this trend of identifying pseudonymous left wing bloggers to the Valerie Plame scandal.  Add it to the stream of ad hominem attacks right wing talk radio and cable “news” spews forth daily.  Add it to the recent criticism surrounding Supreme Court nominee Judge Sotomayor’s ethnicity and gender (which apparently partially precipitated the fight between Whelan and Publius).  Add it to the years of personal harassment of Dr. George Tiller that made him a target.

The trend is just another example of the right wing tendency to attack their opponents personally.

It’s no secret that extremists and radicals on either side of the political spectrum tend to use terrible, brutal tactics with no regard for others or the results of those actions, but in this country, the right wing extremists are the ones who aim those tactics at individuals.  Modern left wing extremists like the ELF, ALF, and Earth First! seem to aim their actions at property.  This is part of why we live in fear of our right wing in the US.

Look at our domestic terrorists: “pro-lifers,” militia members, racists, religious extremists (yes, including Muslim ones).  Look at assassinations in the US over the last 40 years: abortion providers like Dr. Tiller, chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party Bill Gwatney, Democratic Tennessee State Senator Tommy Burks (though a conservative himself, killed by his Republican opponent), anti-discrimination activist Alex Odeh, Alan Berg (killed by neo-nazis), musician and peace activist John Lennon, Harvey Milk, Fred Hampton, RFK, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, JFK, Medgar Evers…the list goes on.  Hell, even George Rockwell, who founded of the American Nazi Party was murdered by another nazi.  In all these cases, either the victims were on the left or the killers were on the right.

Let’s be clear.  I am in no way shape or form comparing what Ed Whelan did to an assassination.  I’m simply adding that tiny act to a long, long list of acts that, whether minor or horrifically violent, illustrates a consistent trend of the right wing in the US to literally attack their opponent rather than the opposing view.

Despite all the furor over the DHS Report On Right-Wing Extremism  and Secretary Janet Napolitano begging for forgiveness, we do have a dangerous problem with our right wing, and, petty as it might be, Whelan’s outing of his critic Publius associates him with this right wing tendency toward personal attacks.  We saw recently in Wichita how easily ad himinem becomes incitement.  Publius isn’t going to get killed for being a liberal blogger, but it might just cost him (or his family members) a job.

Where should we draw the line?  Where should Whelan, the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, have drawn it?  He’s acknowledged that he crossed it and apologised.

More importantly, why does the right wing attack its opponents personally? There is a link, obviously, between the rhetoric and the violence.  Why do they attempt to injure their critics rather than debate them?  Why can’t they debate the merits of their arguments and leave personal attacks out of it?  Why do the same folks that cling to god, cling to guns?  Why do pro-immigrant groups march and protest, while anti-immigrant groups take up arms and patrol the borders?

The right wing is waging a war while the left is holding a debate.  Why is that?  And should the response of the left be in kind?

* Okay, fine, the stuff about shoes and Kenny G may not be true.  We’ll never know unless the real “Ed Whelan” is identified and his feet measured.