Someone should wash Carville’s mouth out with soap

“Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic,” Mr. Carville said, referring to Holy Week. Link

Carville is a mercenary, and he’s a specialist in the kind of personal-loyalty racketeer politics that the Bush machine also specializes in. Whenever possible he’ll double-cross the majority of rank and file Democrats in order to cut a deal, in the same way that the Bush administration is always willing to betray Republican principles for the sake of a little graft. To Carville everything is deals and payoffs, so when Richardson dared to defy the family that had made him, Carville decided he was a traitor who must be smeared. Thank God that Richardson has more smarts than the average gangbanger.
Carville’s lovely wife, Mary Matalin, is part of Dick Cheney’s inner circle. Why would anyone ever trust the guy? Whoever washes his filthy mouth out should also swab it for second-hand Cheney semen.

Romney’s classless exit

“If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”
Romney is a no-count loser and a mental lightweight, so we probably shouldn’t read too much into his words — McCain and the Republican Party no longer have any reason to take him seriously. But I have trouble imagining an uglier, more demagogic concession speech.
How about “In the fight against al Qaeda and the Democrats, all Americans of good will must join together”? That makes the same point more effectively.
No wonder Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter love the guy.

Commissar Goldberg: If you want a vision of the future, imagine a daycare worker giving a toddler a sugarfree bran muffin — forever.

[Discussion of Jonah Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism Also see this.]

Goldberg’s weird definition of fascism was customized to make it possible to say things like this:

The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.

But that’s just loony. If Goldberg had written 1984, at the end he’d have O’Brien saying:

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a daycare worker giving a toddler a sugarfree bran muffin — forever.

Or how about this:

A hug is liberal fascism’s equivalent of a pistol shot to the back of the head.

You can have infinite fun with Goldberg. Who was the first liberal fascist, for example? Wasn’t it Cardinal Biggles with his terrifying Comfy Chair?

Jonah Goldberg’s book has no importance at all from a scholarly point of view, but the Jonah Goldberg phenomenon is extremely important. He’s the most recent of a long string of Movement Republican mouthpieces who have gained places in the legit media, and he’s put a few new tweaks into the formula. Unlike Coulter, Malkin, Limbaugh, Savage, and Beck, Goldberg speaks in a nice NPR voice and has a professorial manner, and while what he says is no more than cheap taunting, the way that he says it seems scholarly. So responding effectively to him will be tricky.
Conservatives hate liberal notions of tolerance, open-mindedness, and civility, and Goldberg is setting a trap: “OK, buddy, tolerate this!” If you argue civilly, he gains legitimacy, since his target readers are the ones who don’t pay close attention and will score the debate as a draw. But if you lose your temper or ridicule him, Goldberg will smirk down at you from the moral high ground. This is an old game, and in my opinion it attacks (albeit dishonestly) one of liberalism’s genuine weak spots.
Goldberg’s book is also intended to inoculate Republicans against the charge of fascism — “We’re no worse than the Democrats” is the standard Republican response whenever they’re caught behaving indefensibly. Goldberg doesn’t really need to make his case: he just needs to plant a few doubts and give the Republican mouthpieces some new talking points. Even if his book is mostly rejected, there will be some residue, the way accusations tarnish reputations at the unconscious level even when presented from the beginning as false (e.g., “Obama has never been a Muslim and has never attended a Muslim school”).

Continue reading

The Progressives, the Left, and President Wilson

[Discussion of Jonah Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism]
Several issues which come up repeatedly on Jonah Goldberg threads (in enormous numbers of posts by two or three guys) can be rather easily dealt with.
During the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century, many leftwing groups were openly racist. President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, was extremely racist and also (during World War I) highly authoritarian. American Progressives during the first part of the Twentieth Century were authoritarian, explicitly racist, and suspicious of foreigners. And finally, several famous progressives of the statist persuasion (for example, H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw) had sympathies with Mussolini. All these things are true.
I am now 61 years old, and all this happened before I was born. World War One ended ninety years ago. World War Two ended sixty years ago. During that time, a lot of things have changed. The Progressives (who were Republicans as often as they were Democrats — think Theodore Roosevelt) ceased to be a factor about 1940. Whatever Mussolini had seemed to be at the beginning, and however he portrayed himself, as he gradually showed himself for what he was (a Fascist in the strict sense of the word) he lost support.
While it may be true that many Nazis and Fascists were ex-radicals or ex-Communists, the prefix “ex-” is important here. (There’s even an old joke about this: “An anti-communist? I don’t care what kind of communist he is!”) At crunch time, most traditionalist conservatives in Italy and Germany supported the Fascists and the Nazis — against the Communists, of course, but also against the Social Democrats who were the nearest European analogue to American liberals. And of course, the Nazis and Fascists learned violent tactics from the leftists — but what that means is that they killed leftists. Killing a leftist isn’t the same thing as being one.
Finally, during the civil rights movement forty or fifty years ago (during my lifetime, at least), there was a major political realignment in the United States. Authoritarian Woodrow Wilson racists like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms switched to the Republican Party, where they became important leaders and were highly honored.
Goldberg and other conservatives use events in the distant past to prove that liberals are Fascists, or like Fascists, or something (Goldberg is extremely evasive about exactly what he means), while at the very same time not only ignoring recent and contemporary cult-of-personality proto-fascism, but actually strongly affiliating themselves with it. This is really beneath contempt. (The Democratic Party is more than 200 years old, and awhile back I wrote a little satire using President Van Buren’s indecisiveness during the 1838 Aroostook War with Canada to prove that Democrats are unable to handle foreign policy. I’m sure that Goldberg would have sneaked that into his book if he’d thought of it.)
All this is just more evidence that the argument about Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism is a waste of time. Goldberg’s significance is in the media space he controls, rather than in his ideas or in what he writes. Wingers will continue to throw all the shit they can find at liberals, hoping that some of it will stick, and Goldberg and others will continue to debase the American political discourse with ignorant slander without being called on it.
— John Emerson

Why so many Friedman Units?

The Friedman unit is a running joke at Atrios and elsewhere. Every few months Tom Friedman proclaims that things in Iraq will have to get better in a few months, or….. something. When the months have passed, he says it again:

Things in Iraq will have to get better in a few months, or….. something

Friedman has been producing overlapping Friedman units for three or four years so far, and there’s no end in sight. He’s not the only one cranking out the FU’s, either: almost everyone is adamant that things will have to get better in a few months, or……something.
This is “jam yesterday, and jam tomorrow, but never jam today”. This is like a little kid saying “in a minute, Mom” over and over again. Why are these people making fools of themselves?
My guess is that they keep retreating because they don’t want to face the fact that no one in the government cares what they think. They supported the Iraq War under the impression that their opinions were regarded as valuable and that they were part of the team, but by now they’ve all found out that Bush is going to do whatever he wants for the remainder of his term — with no regard for legality, public opinion, Congress, the courts, or the Thomas Friedmans of the world. (Bush’s snarky comment about the Iraq Study group — “They can return to their day jobs” — should have told them this months ago). By now Friedman knows that if he ever calls in his chips and says “No more Friedman units; get out of Iraq” he will find that he is completely irrelevant to the American political process. Pundit Friedman will no longer have any reason to exist.
It gets worse: Congress’s feeble responses to the administration’s provocations may be motivated by the same fear. Gonzalez’s testimony was made up entirely of lies and evasions, and the administration has made no secret of its contempt for the whole idea of oversight, but so far Congress has hardly responded. Shortly after Gonzalez’s lying testimony, Bush bullied Congress into rushing the passage of a FICA revision which will put even more power into Gonzalez’s hands, and this very effective “fuck you” from Bush nullified any effect that the hearings might have had. Congress is now back to zero and could very well stay there, and Bush is still firmly in the driver’s seat.
All of the institutions of the Roman Republic continued into the Roman Empire as empty forms, and Congress and the free press seem to be on the verge of definitively making that transition. (Chomsky, Nader, et. al. have been talking about this for decades, of course.) We have sixteen months of the unitary presidency still to go, and all the evidence is that Bush will continue to use his unprecedented new powers as aggressively as he can. The media and both parties in Congress are heavily infiltrated with Bush loyalists and enablers, and effective resistance from that direction seems unlikely. The 2006 election seemed as though it might be a turning point, but at this point it seems that nothing much happened. Perhaps the 2008 election will be more meaningful, but in times like these a year is a long time. No one has any idea what kind of world we’ll be seeing in January 2009.

Two Books by John Emerson to be Published

I’ve just self-published two books which might be of interest to a few people here. They mostly represent my literary side, Relics being a book of poems I wrote 25+ years ago. Substantific Marrow is very diverse, including pieces on Eastern European History, garbled ontology and psychoanalysis, The State, philosophy, and Americana, but mostly it’s literature.
Not much overt politics in the book, just scattered glum hints. Later on I also plan to publish a collection of Dave’s pieces and mine from Seeing the Forest. (If I make any money on either book, I also plan to send some to Dave, the most underrated guy in the blogosphere.)
More information here: http://www.idiocentrism.com/le%20real.htm
Books can be bought here: http://stores.lulu.com/emersonj
By Christmas I should have a third book out, about philosophy, economics, and temporality. Sometime next year my book on Inner Eurasian history should be out; this book should be of interest to many people here. I’m going to be spending the next several years gathering and finishing up stuff I’ve been working on since about 1985.

The “Honest Conservatives” should shut the fuck up

I think that when the “honest conservatives” reject Bush they’re just setting up their assault on the Democratic president they expect to see elected next year. Their way of digging themselves out from under the Bush disaster (and obscuring their own massive role in that disaster) will be to swear that “Never again can an American President be allowed that kind of free hand!” This will justify their fighting the new Democratic President tooth and nail for every inch of ground.
For example, Bush’s politicization of the career staff in Justice and elsewhere was a very bad thing, no? And certainly this kind of thing has to stop, no? So we will forbid the new Democratic President to interfere with career personnel, with the result that all of the political hacks Bush put in civil service positions will be untouchable. (When that happens, can we expect the media to understand what’s going on? No, of course not. Can we expect the Democrats to understand? Not really, but this is one area where I’d trust Rahm Emmanuel. Send a hack to catch a hack.)
Now that they’ve stolen the horse, they’re going to lock the barn door. It’s just like January 2001: once Bush was inaugurated, the media and the Republicans decided that sabotage by impeachment and Gingrichean nastiness are really very bad things after all. So now the same people who worked so hard trying to impeach Clinton for almost nothing are telling us that it’s unthinkable to do anything serious about Bush’s much graver crimes.
In the long run we need a two-party system, and ultimately we want the Republican Party to be rebuilt on sane, civilized principles. But let’s not rush into this. For the moment our task is to boot the Republicans out of office and start repairing the damage they’ve done. The role of the sane conservatives in this will be to sit in the back of the room with paper bags over their heads and their hands folded quietly on their laps.
From the comments here.

Congress should pass a Bring Home the Troops appropriation bill, not an Iraq War appropriation bill

Instead of sending Bush any form of Iraq War appropriation bill, Congress should send him a nice fat “Bring Home the Troops” appropriation bill. Give him no money at all for the war, and as much money as is needed to protect the troops and get them out of there.
The “abandoning our troops on the battlefield” accusation is lying bullshit, and appropriating money to get them off the battlefield would show that.

One more reason why the DLC should be run out of town.

Ever since 1988, the controlling DLC faction has oriented Democratic campaigns toward moderate and independent “swing voters”. This actually worked in 1992, but only at the Presidential level, and the rabidly partisan Gingrich Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994. Pursuing his centrist strategy, Clinton further weakened Congressional Democrats by working against them and relying on Republican votes to get his program through.
Now, Matt Dowd, the Bush strategist who just jumped ship, also happens to be the guy who showed Karl Rove in 2002 that most voters (93%) are partisan and that elections are won by getting out the base. In 2004 Rove picked that up and ran with it. However, all Dowd really did was figure out that the toxic Gingrich-Delay strategy would work at the Presidential level too.
The Democrats used to be the smart party, but now they’re the dumb party. Hillary Clinton hasn’t learned anything in thirteen years and is still running to the almost non-existent center — to a degree, so is Obama. And the Democrats’ party pros and retainered consultants are still mostly the Froms and Shrums who’ve helped us lose for all these years. (Of course, while the Democratic Party pros are pretty bad, if you want real clueless idiocy you have to go to the editorial pages and read what those fatheads have to say. David Broder is only the worst of a bad lot.)
Increasingly, Democrats are running as Democrats, but the Democratic Party still has some housecleaning to do.
Sysyphus Shrugged on Dowd / Digby on Dowd / Firedoglake on Dowd

The Lying Baptists have taken over

Monica Goodling, one of the Republican commissars responsible for misleading Congress about the US Attorney firings, is a graduate of Messiah College and Regent University. The goal of Regent University (“The nation’s academic center for Christian thought and action”) is to combine quality education with biblical teachings and produce “Christian leaders who will change the world”.
In other words, it’s a training school for Christian political operatives. The webpage doesn’t mention any affiliation other than with Pat Robertson, but it seems obvious from Goodling’s behavior that these schools are strongholds of the famous Lying Baptists.
God works in wondrous ways. If Jesus could turn water into wine, he can turn crooks into believers and believers into crooks. Praise Him!

What are the odds?

I wrote this a few hours ago:

What are the odds that one of our winger friends will find a way to say something horrible about Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer? I say 50/50. It’s a bridge too far for almost all of them, but probably not all.

I decided to hold it back, but I shouldn’t have. There were immediately a lot of nasty comments, even at the centrist Politico site.
The worst have been deleted (one them called Elizabeth Edwards a “beard”, implying that she was helping her husband hide his true sexual identity), but the ones below are bad enough.
And I haven’t even gone to Free Republic or Little Green Footballs yet.
Update: The nastiness keeps on coming:

Its sooooo funny to see so-called “free speech” liberals demonize folks who believe this is a publicity stunt by the Edward’s campaign. These are probably the same folks who wished for Cheney’s death and then hid behind “free specch” when they were criticized. The leftists in the crowd are such hypocrites, but too self-centered to recognize it. So, so sad. Edwards is a shiester lawer who made his $$ suing doctors and now he needs one – what karma.
to pkj: And how is issuing a televised press conference going to make his supporters/money contributors feel any better, then a press release would? Is he going to return the money to them all if he completely drops out? What is your logic behind the televised conference?
I agree that a live press conference is a bit extreme. Although I respect his decision to suspend his campaign for sake of his wife’s health concerns, one must ask Would Edwards go to such lengths if he had a commanding double-digit lead in the polls? I question the timing of this announcement and the necessity of what appears to be the grandstanding of a very personal, private matter. I wonder how many Edwards advisors consider this a fortuitous opportunity to acknowledge the inevitable. A brilliant strategy for throwing in the towel, admitting “defeat” with a sense of dignity, but surviving politically – at least enough to perhaps fight another day.
Edwards has been trailing Obama and Clinton in the campaign. I think he’s a very smart and calculating person. What if Edwards is using his wife’s health as a way to kick start his campaign again? He announces that he’s dropping out or putting the campaign on hold. Lots of Press Coverage. Everyone is touched by him putting his family first. He get’s lots of Sympathy and support from the public and his supporters that they understand and think it’s the right thing to do. Then he throws his hat back into the race because his wife tells him that the country really needs him to run. His supporters are thrilled to have him back in the race. Even More Exposer. What a great story. My only question is this. If John Edwards becomes president and his wife has serious health issues would it be right for him to step down as President to take care of his Family? I think it probably would. However, Do I want to vote for a candidate that may have important personal family issues to deal with that could distract him from doing the best possible job as our president. The answer is “no”.

Specter’s in the tank, of course

Sen. Arlen Specter presents himself as an independent, moderate Republican. On the other hand, his staff was supposedly responsible for the provision in the PATRIOT act revision allowing the appointment of US Attorneys without Senate confirmation. He has even claimed that this was done without his knowledge and that one of his new staffers sneaked the provision in without his knowledge. (Rather implausible deniability, in my opinion).
The email below from the recent document dump (as reported on this TPMuckraker thread) suggests that he was and remains the Bush Administration’s tool. (The email was written immediately after the Democrats took power; I’m not sure what bill is being discussed.)

From Rebecca Seidel, January 25, 2007, 5:10 PM
Just got off the phone with Matt Miner on Specter’s staff who called to discuss the hearing….[Miner asked for various sorts of information]….Re the bill: he is organizing a Republican amendment so that they have one strategy and the Democrats don’t divide and conquer. He asked if we have any amendments to please draft and get to him.
I re-sent him the talking points (as he had given his copy away – he realized we had a lot of info in there.)

It isn’t news to most Democrats that Specter is a Bush tool, but he’s been fairly successful at presenting himself to the public as an open-minded free agent. Maybe the new information will convince a few people that he’s something quite different.