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Send in the Clowns


You might have missed some of the best blogging on the net.  In three brilliant consecutive posts last month, here , here and here, The Daily Howler blog builds upon a Digby post to explain the danger that is America’s political and historical ignorance. And, for over a week,  he continued this series with some outstanding commentary. The more I see and hear about the particularly ineffective way our side, Tom Perriello and a minority of others being notable exceptions,  often makes its case, or defends itself, the more I think our side needsa wake-up call.  As just one example, Somerby showed what is wrong with the liberal argument against the corporatist destroyers of Social Security and the rest of the Progressive agenda.  He gets it.

And “it” has been going on for thirty years.  A newt is a strong and greedy predator.  Unfortunately, the greedy predator of which I speak has Gingrich for a last name.  Newt and his cohorts have been on a decades-long mission.  As Howler points out, the slash and burn began long ago, even before this NYTimes article on the tactics Newt was selling. For decades this pathetic excuse for an “historian” has sought to rewrite history into fiction, control classroom content, reinvent the language, and use mechanisms of power for corporatist ends. He’s redefined what liberals stand for, making liberals run from the term.   For a while he did have bully power and the bully pulpit.  But, in the years both before and since, he has done much, much more damage “outside” Washington. I use quotes because he is very much still there, lurking behind Pentagon policy and drill-sargeanting the radical Tea Partiers to spout despicable things. He’s got nothing else to claim but failure, hypocrisy, and the stench of his kind of “leadership.”  Simply, a values candidate, he is not. Those old enough to remember him serving his cancer stricken wife with divorce papers while she was still in the hospital.  Newt is a “values” candidate (snark).

Yet, he continues to believe he should be president.  And, as Bob Somerby shows, we “liberals” (as in everyone to the left of the incredibly extreme wrong-wing) have been his unwitting accomplices.  I’m talking to you, follow Blue Virginians.  I include myself here.  It’s time to face the music. Send in the clowns, we all say.  Some have said it about the loons the “Tea Party” folks have selected this primary season. Some (such as myself) say send in the clowns, meaning the Trio of Clownery (McConnell, Cantor and Boehner).  Send em in!  But we call ourselves in too. Here’s why… (below the fold):

We have failed to stand up effectively to the Newt and his fellow destructos for way too long. We, well some of us anyway, keep deluding ourselves that “bipartisanship” will get us anything. And those same folks ignore all our warnings about the futility of getting slammed by the Party of No over and over.  The Party of No has waged a thirty-year war against ordinary Americans.  And we are so foolish as to think that “low information voters” are the problem. Not even close.

The hardest thing of all is, as Somerby suggests, that we cannot count on many among our own ranks, including our supposed liberal heroes. One by one, with few exceptions, pols and talking heads alike fail us. And then some even chide those who do not fail, folks like Alan Grayson and others. Some of us say Keith Olbermann is “too angry,” to which I say, we all should be. The solution to extremist wrong-wing rage is not to cave. I have even heard complaints about Rachel being “as bad as the FAUX folks.”  This is nonsense. We pretend there is any equivalence whatsoever between Olbermann/Maddow v. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. There isn’t. For shame on anyone pretending it is so.  We face an unprecedented hatred, race-baiting, fear-mongering barrage.  

GOP candidates want to round up the unemployed in restored prison camps and “teach them hygiene.”  Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) wants to ban single mothers and gays from employment as teachers.  One GOP candidate after another scrubs their websites of words of their treason toward both their country and their fellow citizens.  Those who are secessionists are now somehow not?  Those explicitly stating they will end Social Security or privatize it now pretend otherwise? Those who wish to punish those out-sourced suddenly try to pass for caring about workers? Those trying to give banks passing fraudulent paper or having no grounds (or paper at all) for some foreclosures are suddenly on our side?  The masquerade of the corporatist candidates goes on and on.

They rail against the president with hate-laced barrages.  They urge their followers to take things into their own hands if they do not get their way (using “second-amendment” supposed methods).  They tell their followers to be armed and dangerous.  They falsely and appallingly malign Democrats for being  “socialist” or “communist.” The list goes on and on. No, there is no equivalency between Democratic candidates and the GOP, or Olbermann and Maddow and the FAUX talking heads, but our side would have you believe it otherwise, even the President and VP.

What do we see in response? In the precious airspace we get to occupy in the media, “liberals” get it wrong and , except for Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, simply promote disinformation to everyone.  Perfect examples are Lawrence O’Donnell, with Joan Walsh, right up there in wrongfoolery. Send in the clowns, Somerby says, and he is right.  Read the articles.

As an aside, I admit that I am part of the problem. I am so because I didn’t cry foul, complain and contact Lawrence O’Donnell when he  recited pathetic Republican talking points concerning Social Security.  Now with his own show, with the highest ratings on MSNBC, he’s just such a “good-hearted person.”  If his being good-hearted allows the abuse of millions of Americans, how good-hearted is he, really?  He panders like crazy to the extreme right, even letting folks like Lou Dobbs have “the last word,” also the name of his idiotic show, on which Dems by the dozens are rushing to appear.  

Here’s what O’Donnell might have said, instead of passing on the pathetic, clownish, outrageous  and inexcusable lie the “Social Security is broke.”

Social security has nothing to do with the federal deficit because it is self-funded with special payroll deduction. Social Security is not broke, nor will it be.  Even if not reformed it will be able to pay its recipients full benefits up until 2037, and after that, at least 75% of what folks are due.  Simply making the well-off pay their fair share (they don’t), will solve the problem for the next eighty years. We must work to assure that payments are not reduced. There is only one way Social Security could go broke–if the privateers get their hands on it. (Think of the Wall street boys and girls who play with your money, steal it and live large). It’s our job not to allow that.

How hard is it for our side to say that?  And yet our liberal mouthpieces are so ignorant they spread the lies. It’s painful.  So are the rank-and-file party “faithful.”  “They heard it on NPR!”  Recently, Old Faithful NPR was at it again spreading the lies of Americans for Prosperity.  Its case was entirely lopsided, misleading and pathetic.  Send in the clowns.  Anyone who repeats the NPR spin majors in clownishness. But liberals keep sending in their checks.  They think the Jim Lehrer News Hour is “liberal,” and if it’s on NH it must be “true.” Send in the clowns. A right-wing production company owned by right-winger media mogul John Malone produces News Hour.  But I digress.  

“Debate” wont do it. It is not a matter of “debate. “There are not two sides when one side lies.  There are not always two sides anyway.  Most issues are not so cut and dry.  But one thing is sure, the GOP astro-turf wrecking crew is wrong.  To refuse to say so, is wrong.

When President Obama’s panel on the deficit specializes in wrong-foolery and downright deception, the president has a special obligation to set them straight–or remove them for lying to the public.  Let the firings begin, starting with Alan Simpson, who calls Social Security recipients “lesser people.”

Ed Schultz, whom I really otherwise very much like, is also part of the problem. Despite his strong opinions and effort to refute “right-wing” lies, Ed fails to rebut much of the BS sputtered by guests such as Ron Christie (former staffer for Dick Cheney) or other hard-“right” partisans/talk show hosts like Heidi Harris and others.  “Liberals” mostly either spout right-wing fibs, or listen to them without objection.  And arguing, well, that’s just “not nice!”  Then we continue slipping into Third World America, the new title of well-meaning Arianna Huffington’s new tome.  (But even she doesn’t refute effectively much of the time, spending more time creating cute replies.  And don’t get me started on the Republican frames often leading in headlines on HuffPo.)

Only a few Congressional candidates effectively rebut the GOP BS.  It is so bad that if they talk about the subject of social programs, most of them screw it up. Send in the clowns. I have only heard one politician get it right on Social Security: Rick Boucher.

George Lakoff, Democracy for America, Media Matters, FAIR, and Jeff Feldman try.  Few others, except bloggers, do (and not all of us). Fact checking is important, but it is not enough.  Trying to create an echo chamber is important, but it is not enough, if we have drunk the Kool Aide.  But, hey, as I said above, I am not innocent.  Most of us here have at one point or another in our lives bought into some destructive “on-your-ownership,” corporatist BS.  Unfortunately, it has come to a point that a good test of a political “truism” is that, if a partisan Republican running for or holding office proclaims it, it is probably not true.  It has been so bad I have been shutting off the television, even MSNBC, which at least gets it right some of the time.  But we now will have Lawrenece O’Donnell to contend with at 10 PM five nights a week.  He’s on “our side.”  God help us all. He let Joe Biden have the “last word” in order to dig himself (Joe) out of the hole he dug.  He had told the democratic base to stop “whining.”  What did Biden do with the “last word”?  He dug the whole deeper.  Need I say more.  Reminding our elected officials and candidates of their promises and what is important is not whining.  Only Dems insult their base on a regular basis.

The privateers are playing a deadly game and it is a waste of time to “debate” them. Don’t waste your time on trolls, including one here today, or Tea Party extremists. They won’t listen. It’s the rest of the public we have to educate. But first we must fix ourselves. No stumbling around.  No half-baked answers.  Practice.  30-60 seconds or bust. I’m talking to you, Lawrence O’Donnell–and to others, if the shoe fits.


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