Author Archives: dumpster

“One Nation, Under Me…”

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, State of the Union

Among comics/comix fans, Bill Keane’s “Family Circus” is considered so blandly inoffensive as to be beneath ridicule. But I can’t let Sunday’s strip pass without comment.
It begins with the adorable tow-headed kid (Jeffy?) waking up and telling Mom, “Wow! I dreamed that God was saying the Pledge of Allegiance!” Then, in the second and third panels, there is a cloud with thunderbolt saying, “…and to the republic for which it stands…” “…one nation under Me, indivisible…” as Jeffy beams reverently.
Wow! indeed. Has the nexus between reactionary authoritarianism, religiosity, and infantile sentimentalism ever been stated quite so succinctly? Not to mention the implication that God is the God only of these here United States; he don’t like all them foreigners. (And of course, only a mind truly in the gutter would see any double-entendre in the phrase “under me”)

Color Theory: “Red America” and “Red Dawn”

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Republicans

Edgewise readers are probably familiar with the story of the Washington Post Online’s new right-wing blog, “Red America,” written by a 24-year-old sometime Republican speechwriter named Ben Domenech, who also runs the RedState.org site. Various writers at Daily Kos & eslewhere have detailed the various aspects that make his hiring so egregious — that a party functionary has been hired to “balance” a working reporter (Dan Froomkin), that he feels no need to support his assertions with links or other references, that he’s such a chickenhawk his website sells Cafe Press coffee mugs drooling about Marines killing Bad Guys (coffee mugs! you can’t make this stuff up), plagiarism, etc., so I won’t rehash all that here.
Instead, I’ll just note that his blog demonstrates how completely the political connotations of “red” have been reversed in the last 20 years or so. In his inaugural column (no link, as a matter of principle), Domenech cites the 1984 movie “Red Dawn” as some sort of cultural/political touchstone. I haven’t seen it, but it’s apparently a fantasy of gun-totin’ American resistance to a Soviet invasion. That is, “red” in the movie title refers to communism, and in the blog title it refers to Republican voters. A red dawn was a Bad Thing, back in the day, but a red America is now a Good Thing.
The similarities between the radical Republican impulse toward single-party rule and communist totalitarianism have also been discussed elsewhere, and IMO somewhat exaggerated. But it is fascinating how enthusiastically those who a generation ago said “better dead than Red” have embraced the new color symbolism. I suspect that when the TV networks first used red/blue color coding to denote which party had gotten a state’s electoral votes, they assigned blue to Democrats because assigning red would have looked like overt red-baiting. The symbolism works for Republicans in the same way that it worked for communism, by evoking a powerful emotional response. Red is the hot color, blue the cool color. Red is the color of blood, of life, of sex; blue is the color of dispassionate discourse. We can’t break that association, of course, but maybe by bringing it to light we can detach it from our political parties.

Appearance of Conflict of Interest

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, State of the Union

That’s a concept we’re hearing a a lot about lately:
Over the weekend the Comical ran a WaPo story reporting that the EPA’s Inspector General says there is no such thing as quid pro quo:

The inspector general’s yearlong review of the EPA’s writing of a rule to manage shop towels contaminated with toxic chemicals found “no evidence of direct political influence” by lobbyists for Cintas Corp., whose chairman, Richard Farmer of Cincinnati, is a top Republican donor who raised more than $250,000 for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign.

Read the whole piece; it’s Bush administration business dismayingly as usual.
It’s also emerging that Bill Frist has money in the family business via an even less blind trust than we already knew about. This one’s run by his brother. It’s a topic of much discussion on dKos, but nobody seems interested in whether other congresspeople — including Democrats –might also have “qualified” blind trusts.
And of course, there’s Harriet Miers. Googling her name with “conflict of interest” reports 169,000 hits. Wolcott has been calling her Miss Hathaway for her devotion to the boss; and that loyalty to a sitting president is, even more than her crony-capitalist ideology and her acceptability to Dobson, et al, at the heart of her disqualification for the SC.
Appearance of conflict of interest also figures in a couple of ways in Plamegate. That seems to have been the implied accusation in Rove & Libby’s campaign against Joe Wilson: if Wilson’s wife was involved in selecting him for the Niger trip, then it goes without saying that he must have been unqualified and must lack credibility. Seems a rather fastidious view of nepotism for this White House to be taking.
But Plamegate is also revealing a real conflict of interest, and that’s with the MSM figures involved. All of the journalists to whom this “damaging” information was leaked were chosen because they were presumed (quite safely) to be loyal to the administration. Both Novak and then Cooper ran the item at face value, accepting the supposedly obvious inference that Wilson was indeed discredited; and Miller had apparently been looking to dig up dirt on Wilson after learning that he’d been Kristof’s anonymous source. All of them seem to have understood their journalistic responsibility as advancing the interests of the administration, not any [snort, guffaw] disinterested pursuit of information.

Call Me a Shabbas Goy, But…

· Isms

This kind of thing turns my stomach:

rove was just singing to the choir– curious group of people, look at the names alot of Jews must have been a strategy session

I found it on the Huffington Post in a thread on off-the-record remarks by Karl Rove. The post, which I’ve quoted in full, is by someone calling himself “the Pope.” It’s hardly the worst thing on that thread; there are trolling wingnuts fantasizing gruesome deaths for Cindy Sheehan. But if this person doesn’t like Rove, then he must be on “our” side, right?
How do we begin to make this unacceptable?

Isms Comments are off for this post.

Wanting to Get to the Bottom of It

· Republicans

The very next Q&A in the press conference xian links to below is also a prize specimen of weasel-wordedness:

Q Two questions. First, you’ve said in the past that, on the matter of Matt Cooper and Judith Miller that the President supports the investigation. What specific steps is the White House taking to support it? Has the President called people into the Oval Office?
MR. McCLELLAN: What I said is the President wants to get to the bottom of the investigation; no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than he does. It is a very serious matter and the President has said that if anybody has information, they ought to provide that information to the prosecutor so that they can continue forward on their investigation.
Q Has he called specific people into the Oval Office to ask them if they —
MR. McCLELLAN: What we made a decision to do was to support the efforts of the independent prosecutor to move forward on the investigation and that’s what we’re doing. If there are any specific questions you have about individuals, those are questions that are best directed to the special prosecutor in this matter.

There’s an eerie similarity to the Unocal/PR exchange, where the indirectly stated answer was, “No, the President can acknowledge no conflict of interest imputed to a crony. He’s a stand-up guy, you know?” Here, what’s indirectly stated is “No, the President hasn’t actually done anything to find out which of his staff members implemented the decision to punish Joseph Wilson.”
I particularly like the phrase “wants to get to the bottom of the investigation,” which McClellan, like a blues singer, gives us twice with minor variation. The purity of Bush’s intention — he wants to; he really, really wants to — outweighs his actual inaction.

The Pro-Life Party: Us, Goddammit!

· Democrats

“Are you pro-life or pro-choice?”
“Yes.”
That’s not an original “joke,” but it’s one that bears repeating. This morning on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez were interviewing a woman from NOW and a man from the Democratic Senatorial (?) Council about the latter group’s policy of encouraging pro-choice senatorial hopefuls to step aside for supposedly more electable anti-choice candidates in 2006. All four of them used the phrase “pro-life” to describe opponents of legal abortion.
That’s [bleep]ing crazy. Of all the distortions and hijackings of language perpetrated by the right-wing noise machine, none is more pernicious in its scope than their claim to be “pro-life.” Those of us who can loosely be called “progressives” are the party of Life. We are pro-life when we assert the right to regulate economic activity to prevent species extinction, to preserve workplace health and safety, and to improve air and water quality. The right opposes all those kinds of regulation because they don’t see any value to life and health beyond what can be quantified monetarily. We are pro-life when we oppose war, and particularly the targeting of civilians in war. We are pro-life when we oppose the death penalty. And we are pro-life when we assert the value of a mother’s actual life over the abstraction of a fetus’s potential life.
Having said that, I also found it disturbing that Amy Goodman took issue with Hillary Clinton’s description of abortion as a “sad” choice. To be sure, Mrs. Clinton’s comment implies more in the context of her DSC maneuvering than it literally says, but it seems grotesquely callous to suggest that the decision to end a potential life is not sad, even when it’s the only humane choice.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to be said about this. The progressive movement and the Democratic party need to find a way to deal with the fact that even though the majority of American voters support legal choice, they also support candidates who oppose it. This is a deeply rooted paradox. It has something to do with the tension between the morality we actually practice (what I’m calling “humane” values) and what we think we believe. Others may be able to articulate this better than I can.