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What I find the most interesting about this debate is the complete disconnect in language between the respective ideologies.  Harrington had written The Other America which is said to have inspired Johnson’s War on Poverty.  It was written at a time when the US was at its wealthiest in terms of an expansive middle class, and Harrington brought to the attention of national politics that there remained a large underclass, not all of it urban and non-white.  Harrington lamented the inadequacy of the Johnson programs for their lack of economic development plans (rejected at the time because in the words of my high school history teacher they “wreaked of socialism.”).  And as industry moved out of the cities, and began to move out of the country entirely, the urban decay became visible due to the influence of a media which actually did try to cover some of the issues, and conservatives no longer denied the existence of poverty, but blamed it on what passed for our social services (nowhere near as extensive as those of Europe, but very extensive compared even to the New Deal).

But this clip comes from a time when poverty was still largely invisible, only made visible by Harrington’s book, which Buckley attempted to dismiss.  He wants to define poverty in spiritual terms, where Harrington focused on modern definitions – income ratios to costs of basic necessities, a science in its infancy at the time, at least in the US.

Here’s a talk he gave about the difference between socialism and liberalism.

And here he is debating Milton Friedman – in a video edited by some right wing group to emphasize where they believe Friedman won debating points, completely unaware that Friedman’s dire prophecies about Medicare never came to fruition, as a friend of mine who just retired noted that he was really happy to be able to abandon his crappy Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan for real care.

This is for discussion.  I asked the question on my radio show last night, and didn’t really get any serious challenges to my thesis.  And let me just clarify that I don’t give the Tea Party much credence on their perception of reality.   But they do deserve some credit.

Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

1.   The Tea Party is the largest bonafide grassroots movement since the Civil Rights Movement.

2.   Wall Street is afraid of the Tea Party more than any left wing movement since the Trade Union Movement of the 1930’s?

Yes, I know that the Koch Brothers/Heritage Foundation gave them heavy seed funding, prompting the birth of the term “Astroturf Movement.”  But in my opinion, it’s out of their control – has a life of its own.


The Laurens County Republican Party in South Carolina is requiring a pledge for anyone joining the party and running in a local primary.

You must favor, and live up to, abstinence before marriage.

You must be faithful to your spouse. Your spouse cannot be a person of the same gender, and you are not allowed to favor any government action that would allow for civil unions of people of the same sex.

You cannot now, from the moment you sign this pledge, look at pornography.

I guess the liberal faction pushed the elimination of retroactive disqualification with regard to pornography.  But what if you look at it by accident?

And obviously you can’t be a contraceptive-advocating college student slut!

You can watch the video.

Just so we’re clear, we’re talking about the guy who embraced Guatamala’s psychopathic former leader Rios Mont, who wiped out entire villages because they were run by Satan, as a force for democracy because he was “born again.”  The guy who wants to ban Halloween nationally.  Who blamed the 911 attacks on feminists.  Who blamed Haiti’s earthquake woes on a national deal with Satan.  Who warned the city of Orlando that flying gay and lesbian pride flags would result “earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor.”  Who publicly prayed for the deaths of liberal Supreme Court Justices.

And my favorite quote of all:

“(T)he feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

Now he’s too liberal for the GOP!

TPM “liveblogged” it for those like me who didn’t have the time (nor really the desire) to watch it last night.  It’s not an unbiased blogging, but it’s entertaining.  You can follow it here, here, here, and here.  TPM awards the win to Romney, mostly because he forced Perry into a corner on Social Security, and Republicans have to be worried about electability as they think about the general, even if the refusal to rule out ending Social Security earns him points in the primaries.

The largest applause of the night came when the moderator asked Perry about the 234 executions he has presided over.

Perry also blamed the low health care coverage rate of his state on….. former President Bush!

A few other highlights.  Bachman accused Reagan of being too liberal because he agreed to tax increases, but suggested that he really didn’t mean it.  Or something like that.

Ron Paul is still nuts.

Huntsman tried to defend science, which drew an awkward silence.

There were a couple of other names who will be out of the running come Iowa.

Addendum:  The debate in 45 seconds – capturing the essence.

On top of being right on, the montage is a work of art.  You can tell that he’s very proud of his staff.  And you can understand why Fox News is hitting back at Jon Stewart of late.

Rolling Stone reports that his office is bomb proof to protect him from Muslims and gays.

Inside his blast-resistant office at Fox News headquarters, Ailes keeps a monitor on his desk that allows him to view any activity outside his closed door. Once, after observing a dark-skinned man in what Ailes perceived to be Muslim garb, he put Fox News on lockdown. “What the hell!” Ailes shouted. “This guy could be bombing me!” The suspected terrorist turned out to be a janitor. “Roger tore up the whole floor,” recalls a source close to Ailes. “He has a personal paranoia about people who are Muslim – which is consistent with the ideology of his network.”

A fascinating read.  The last sentence of the article may very well be the epitaph of Republican moderation.

I don’t make this comment lightly.  While my politics generally fall to the “left” of at minimum 95 percent of the American population who think at all about politics (and probably 90 percent of the world’s), I don’t hold opposing political views against their advocates.  In fact, I not only respect many to most conservatives – I respect conservatism itself.  While I believe that reforms and necessary transformation of certain institutions and mores of society are most often too slow to ease the pain and suffering generated by inequities of our failings both at the individual and social level, I do believe that conservatism serves as an essential reminder that changes which move too far and too fast can generate unintended consequences – whether they throw an economy out of balance or result in tyrannies which kill millions in that name of all that is holy and just.  I read conservative opinion and analysis.  I appreciate the humor and occasional principled consistency I find at magazines like American Spectator, National Review, and Human Events.  Yes, there’s plenty of hypocrisy, denial, cluelessness, and even vindictiveness and malice.  But you can find that on the left as well.  Sometimes I can take it in stride.  And sometimes the hypocrisy and cowardice is just too much to let slide, especially when it is so widespread in the movement, or anti-movement, or whatever conservatives want to call themselves.

I’m referring to Conservative Political Action Conference and the complete silence with regard to Egypt (third or fourth “top 10 story” down).  Yeah, they’re confused.  They don’t know how it’s going to play out, so they don’t want to take a chance on undermining their basic principle (Islam is inherently violent and nothing good can come from mass demonstrations involving Muslims) and the potential political fallout if they come out on the wrong side of history.  Credit Limbaugh, Coulter, and a few other cro-mags for coming down firmly on the bigoted side.  Credit Krauthammer and even fewer others calling the first group on their crap, and taking flack for it.  And most of the first group have become somewhat subdued since Mubarak actually stepped down.

So maybe I shouldn’t blame conservatism itself, but just the practitioners.  Hate the sinner and love the sin, or something like that.  The problem is that this is more than just hypocrisy generated by uncertainty and future political positioning necessities.  It’s about more than hedging bets.  Uncertainty requires nuance and humility, and the practitioners of conservatism who attend CPAC just don’t have that capacity.  They thrive on a an angry simplicity which just doesn’t apply to the situation.  Maybe if the conference had taken place 10 days ago we would have seen the definitive “we should be rooting for Mubarak” expression in prominence.  Maybe 10 days from now, or two months from now, they could deliver speeches that the Christians and businessmen actually saved the day, or if things go bad, blame the left for falling naive one more time to the romance of revolution.  But Mubarak inconveniently fell right in the middle of their conference – at a moment that nobody can say what is going to happen, and with evidence which might even justify a faith in the ghastly concept of Islamic moderation.  Unfortunately, it’s not enough to express skepticism.  The constituency wants bold, morally certain, proclamations.  They want to know who to cheer and who to attack.  They don’t want the old Catholic clerical fallback with tough theological questions – “God works in mysterious ways.”  He doesn’t.  He props up good and strikes down evil.  Evil has to be identified.

This revolution, if it truly turns out to have been one, is bad news for extremist groups like Al Qaida or Hezbollah.  And in the same vein it is terrifying to certain elements of western conservatism.  The whole raison d’etre is called into question.

The silence is truly pathetic.

Calitics addresses the question.

As this Kos post notes, the changing state demographics towards non-white and young voters doesn’t bode well for Republican futures.  The state GOP is heavily influenced by cultural conservatives in the valley and Orange County, and that used to be enough to combine with Republican moderates to guarantee Republican wins statewide. But since the massive military industry shutdowns of the 1990s and the rise of the high tech industries at about the same time, it has been difficult for the Republicans to field a candidate which can survive a hard-right primary and have serious chances in the general election.

Earlier this decade they managed to slip Schwarzenegger by that process through the Davis recall, after having failed badly with a hapless right wing candidate in the prior election.  This year the Democrats swept the statewide races, with the closest race being so probably because the Democratic candidate’s name is Kamala.  The Republicans squandered their two opportunities for House turnovers, and quite frankly I don’t believe a Senate turnover was ever a very serious possibility.  In the state legislature, the Republicans actually lost an Assembly seat.  This in the “year of the tea party,” in which Republicans were angry and hungry, and Democrats demoralized and apathetic.

It’s not going to get easier for them.  The Hispanic vote leans Democrat heavily, and they represent 22 percent of the electorate and growing.  Meg Whitman took the white vote and the over-65 vote, but as more baby-boomers slip into the latter category the more conservative causes will lose their stranglehold there.

The other problem they have is that the moderate Republican is becoming an endangered species.  About the only real “conservative” takeover I can find statewide was in Humboldt County, and the new Supervisor representing the Eureka area, Virginia Bass, has left the GOP.  By her account, the social issues were a heavy factor.

The top-two primary could offer Republicans opportunities to put up moderate candidates since they don’t have to survive the primaries, but it’s just as likely that races could fall between a liberal and a moderate Democrat, with the Republican Party being shut out of statewide races altogether.

The list.

Some of them may surprise you.  I don’t even recognize about a quarter of them.

Bear in mind, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re right wingers.

They’re missing a few, although maybe they’re just conservatives not registered Republican.  I’m assuming they mean celebs famous for something other than political involvement.

Dennis Miller
The blond from SNL circa late 1980s
The actress who played Everybody Loves Raymond’s wife
The brunette in Designing Girls
The guy who played Captain Stubing in Loveboat
The guy who played Gopher in Loveboat
The guy who played Cliff Kleibin (sp?) on Cheers (two renowned conservatives on Norman Lear’s last series – irony)
Ted Nugent
David Lynch (I think)
The Jewish guy in all the liberal movies who converted on 911
Steve Largent
Rober Staubach

And how could they leave out Arnold?  Maybe they left out people who’ve been elected to office, which would account for the omissions of Gopher and Largent.

By the way Bruce Willis has been campaigning for Republicans much longer than 2000.  He and Schwarzenegger toured  for Bush in 1992.

There are only a few surprises for me on the list.  James Earl Jones because he associates with radical directors like John Sayles and has associated his name with a number of liberal causes, including People for the American Way.  I guess Meat Loaf is the only other real surprise.

Ramone once said that Punk is inherently right wing, and to tell you the truth, I don’t necessarily disagree with him.


July 2020