The Watering Hole, Monday, March 21, 2016: How The Right Gets The Left Wrong

John Hinderaker and Jeffrey Lord, two men who can best be remembered from me mentioning their names at the start of this blog post without the word ‘miscreant’ attached to either of them, are at it again. And by “it” I mean “spreading falsehoods about Liberals”. I was going to use the word “lying,” but then somebody would say it’s not really lying because they honestly believe it’s true. Fine. It isn’t true, it’s false, so I said they were spreading falsehoods. Whether they knew they were falsehoods or not is irrelevant, because they still spread them. But if it makes you feel any better, I think they knew they were falsehoods when they spread them like manure. I say that because I don’t think they’re entirely stupid, and you would have to be entirely stupid to believe the things they said about Liberals and MoveOn.Org recently. [Full disclosure: I am a member of MoveOn.Org. I had my picture used in a commercial they ran several years ago. I wish I could find it.] So I think they know they were spreading foul-smelling crap when they sprinkled it throughout their columns. Because they know their fans just eat that shit up, on account of that’s much easier than having to actually think about it. And Conservatives do not like to put a lot of effort into their thinking, which explains their Conservatism. (Science has been able to document many ways in which Conservative and Liberal minds differ. Read more about them here. Truth be told: the science does not support the idea of Conservatism being a bastion of curious, inquisitive, intellectual discovery. Or even one of just trying to learn the basic truth about things.)

A little over a week ago in Dayton, OH, a man named Tommy DiMassimo attempted to get up on the stage where Donald Trump was speaking but was stopped by the Secret Service. This, and this alone, is probably the only indisputable fact one can glean from Hinderaker’s column. By his third sentence (first if you don’t think the incident itself could accurately be described as “scary”), Hinderaker was already spreading the lies. “His intent was unclear, but there was every reason to assume he intended to injure or kill Trump.” Really, Hinderaker? “Every reason” to believe that? Look, I know you Conservatives are accustomed to seeing danger everywhere, but the only explanation for why you think he meant Trump harm is Projection. You assume he meant Trump harm because in your mind, if you ever rushed a stage, it would be to injure or kill someone. So that must be the reason this guy did it. Hinderaker offers no other explanation for why DiMassimo did what he did, only his personally limited imagination.

Framing is everything in today’s political discourse. With attention spans being so short – SQUIRREL! Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah. Attention spans are short and time is limited, so the Conservatives want you to spend as little time thinking as possible and just react. And the best way for them to do that is to lay the groundwork for what they’re about to say and force you to accept it, process it, and reply to it within the framework they’ve presented it. From this point on, Hinderaker wants you to view the entire incident as a violent attack. If you reject that framing, nothing else he says or, by extension, what Lord says later, will make any sense. Not only is Hinderaker projecting in this column, he’s shining a bright burning light on his own cognitive dissonance. He has already admitted he has no idea why DiMassimo tried to get up on stage, but that doesn’t mean to him he can’t he know exactly why he did it. DiMassimo boarded the stage for an unclear purpose that must have involved injuring or killing Trump. Lacking the intellectual capacity or imagination to come up with any other reason for DiMassimo’s actions, Hinderaker goes for the violence motive, another trait of Conservatism. (If it were me, and I was able to get to Trump, I would have mussed up his hair in front of everybody, so that he would have had to look ridiculous putting it back together.) So now he hopes that in your mind, we’re talking about a violent person. This is important because he’s about to launch into a rambling, anti-intellectual, anti-tax, anti-union, anti-regulation, and anti-LBGTQ diatribe transferring every lie he can think of about DiMassimo onto every Liberal in America. I’m not a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV, but it’s plain to me that Hinderaker has insecurity issues so severe he has to lash out at anyone he perceives as differing from the image he has in his mind of what it means to be a man. And given his propensity for projection, it’s not hard to imagine why. And as bad as Hinderaker’s column was at reflecting reality, Jeffrey Lord took it to an even lower level.

Lord opens with a link to MoveOn.Org‘s site. Despite everything he’s about to make up about them, the first thing you notice on theri website is a request for donations. “Join our nonviolent campaign standing up for love and democracy, and against Trump’s bigotry and incitement, by making a contribution today.” Then Lord immediately calls us “the new Ku Klux Klan. The newest leftist incarnation of that old leftist formula that combines racism with violence to push the progressive agenda.” I have noticed more and more Conservatives using the term “leftist” in their comments, probably because it’s reminiscent of the term “Communist.” I’m guessing this was Frank Luntz’s idea, but who knows? (Luntz is the “pollster born in Hell” to whom I referred in my song parody “Republicans Lie“.) This is another falsehood, of course. Communism involves a level of Authoritarianism many Liberals reject (but which many Conservatives find appealing, oddly enough.) Lord’s lies continue. “The American Left has a horrendous history of flat out racism and bigotry, liberally salted with violence. From the 19th and early 20th century Klan,…”

I’m stopping him right there. Lord has done what I’ve seen many Conservatives do when I’m hanging out on the Twitter: He presumes that because the KKK was founded by Democrats, that it was founded by Liberals. Nothing could be further from the truth. You cannot look at someone’s political affiliation alone, without context or reference to a year, and know what that person’s political leanings were. A Republican of 150 years ago was likely to be a Liberal just as a Democrat of that time was likely to be a Conservative. The KKK was founded by Conservatives who happened to be members of the Democratic Party. They were white supremacists and they were ugly human beings and their actions were in absolutely no way defensible. They were violent, reprehensible troglodytes, and they are nothing like we Liberals in MoveOn. I have never heard of a single MoveOn event where someone was targeted by the organization for violence. Yet that was the entire purpose of the KKK getting together – to direct violence against someone. And whether they think it matters or not, it is a fact that Trump has the support of many of the major groups today who believe in that for which the KKK stands. Even State Senator David Duke (R-LA) supports Trump. David Duke would never join an organization like MoveOn. I cannot conceive of how anyone with an IQ in the three-digit range would equate MoveOn with the KKK, so I have to believe Lord does not have one.

Based on nothing but Hinderaker’s character assassination of DiMassimo, Lord then declares that he is “absolutely typical of the American Left.” He also points out that DiMassimo’s a Bernie Sanders supporter, but if he’s “typical” of the American Left and he supports Sanders, why is Hillary Clinton ahead in the delegate count? But I digress. Lord goes on to give a distorted history which paints all liberal activists as violent (because of the few violent actions of a few extremist liberal groups) before circling back to the Klan as being liberal. Then he tries to paint us as the racist ones by completely mischaracterizing and distorting an article he quoted. When students at the University of Illinois Chicago decided to organize a protest against the appearance of Donald Trump, MoveOn “chipped in money to get signs and a banner printed and blasted out an email to members in the Chicago area encouraging them to join the protest.” The protest was promoted on Facebook and about 1.5 million people saw it. Out of that number, about 1% pledged to show up. The end result of the protesters’ efforts was the last-minute cancellation of the event, out of a misplaced fear for the candidate’s safety. But that’s not the way Lord chose to frame it. “Got all that? MoveOn.org, in the finest traditions of the Klan, organized a mass shutdown that was specifically directed to people because of their race.” If that’s what you got then you didn’t read the same story I did. MoveOn did not organize that protest as the story he quoted clearly said. His proof that this was “directed to people because of their race” is the sentence “Hundreds of young, largely black and brown people poured in from across the city, taking over whole sections of the arena and bracing for trouble.” Note the logical fallacy he employs: Just because hundreds of people of color showed up to protest the event, the call for the protest must have been directed only at people of color. Then there’s the idea that when the KKK organized something directed at people because of their race, it was done for the exact same reason, and with the exact same level of support of those people, as when MoveOn organized an event specifically directed at people of color, even though they did no such thing. MoveOn didn’t organize the event, and they didn’t direct their efforts to people of color. And if MoveOn ever WERE to direct their organizing at people of color, it wouldn’t be for the purpose of killing and lynching them, or setting fire to their homes. But that is how people like Jeffrey Lord and John Hinderaker see us. Because it’s what THEY would do.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss the KKK, Hinderaker, Lord, Trump, or anybody else like them.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 17, 2015: Why We Must Raise The Debt Ceiling

In a new column posted on Alternet, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains in terms even your average conservative can understand why it is important to raise the debt ceiling, end the sequester, and put more people to work by increasing rather than decreasing spending on public investments like education and infrastructure. [Not that I’m a journalist, ethically obligated to reveal such things, but in the interests of full disclosure, I am a member of MoveOn.Org, who helped produce the video below.]

Before continuing with my own less coherent babble, I want to make something very clear. It’s important to differentiate between political party and ideology. When people complain about the Republican party, they ignore the ideology behind what they’re doing. Many people use the terms “Republicans” and “Conservatives” interchangeably, but they shouldn’t anymore than they should use the terms “Democrats” and “Liberals” interchangeably. When it comes to our federal government (and less dramatically so on the state and local level), virtually every single Republican is a Conservative (not even a moderate one), while the Democrats have both Liberals and Conservatives in their ranks. In some cases, a slightly moderate conservative is the best the Democrats could do to get someone elected, and they don’t always toe the party line the way Republicans do. Despite all the baseless lies they tell, it is Conservatives and Conservatism that are the enemy of the People, not Liberals and Liberalism.

Anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist, who famously said his goal was to “shrink government to the size where it could be drowned in a bathtub,” has been a driving force in American Conservative politics for irresponsible tax cuts for the super wealthy and huge corporations, based on the lie that if their taxes are reduced, they’ll spend more and this will create jobs. (Did you know that Norquist first thought of this idea when he was twelve years old? makes sense now, doesn’t it?) It’s not just a lie, it’s a huge Denali-sized pile of horse shit. Not the part about how spending helps create jobs (that part is absolutely true), but the part about rich people and corporations spending their money to create jobs. They won’t. They haven’t so far and their taxes have been cut enormously. Some of the largest corporations in America have paid zero federal taxes, but they’re not hiring millions of otherwise unemployed people right now. Clint Eastwood’s “Any Which Way But Loose” co-star Donald Trump isn’t hiring people for no reason just to create jobs, which he theoretically would be doing if the conservative argument on taxing the rich had any merit. Nick Hanauer explained it best in his famous TED talk from three years ago.

Not everyone agreed, of course. Forbes magazine panned Hanauer’s speech as wrongheaded and claimed that capital investment creates jobs. This is more horse shit for the pile. Capital investment doesn’t create jobs, it creates businesses. But if nobody wants what they’re selling, how can they stay in business? Consumer demand creates jobs and this is indisputable. Spending creates jobs, not savings. When you put your money in a savings account, the bank uses it to lend money to businesses and people and to make a profit for themselves (the banks.) But if there are no consumers to buy the goods or services those businesses offer, they won’t have any reason to keep as many people on their payroll, and unemployment will go up. Poor and lower middle class people need to spend much of their money just to get by each week. They can’t afford to put money away for savings, even for college for their kids. But the money they do spend at their local grocery stores and gas stations keeps those local merchants in business. They might not be if their customers had socked away their money in savings accounts, to be used some day down the road for something else entirely. But Conservatives want you to think that saving money creates jobs, not spending. They also want you to think that you’re a bad person if you don’t save money so that other people can use it for their personal benefit. They think a lot of things that are wrong, and one of the things that they are wrongest about is the debt ceiling.

We are facing another debt ceiling crisis, which eventually outgoing Speaker John Boehner may or may not avoid, depending on how much the ungovernable part of his party (hint: think of the 20th letter of the alphabet) pisses him off. They refuse to raise the debt ceiling because they say spending is too high and that we can’t afford to do it. More horse shit. The problem isn’t that spending is too high, the problem is that taxes are too low, especially on the super rich, who we know are not the true job creators. Trickle down economics does not work the way they claim, no matter how many times they claim it. All it does is increase income inequality, which leads to super rich people deciding that rather than create jobs with the extra money they have they’ll buy themselves some state and federal governments (this is why overturning the Citizens United decision is so important), and the cutting of government services essential to the people who are not super rich. Government needs money to operate, and that money is raised through taxation. Conservatives who follow Norquist’s “thinking” believe that austerity will bring us out of tough economic times. No, it won’t. It will only make things worse for the vast majority of us who don’t have millions of dollars at our disposal. Especially when you’re borrowing money to fund the military, which is not an investment that will return more money to the economy the way infrastructure spending will. Military spending benefits weapons manufacturer investors, which is why Forbes and their ilk like it so much. No matter what the conservatives tell you, the debt ceiling is not about spending, it’s about borrowing. If taxes had not be cut so drastically, we would not have needed to borrow so much money top pay for illegals wars. When you raise taxes, you borrow less, and you approach the debt ceiling much later. The solution to running up against the debt ceiling is not to reduce spending but to raise taxes, and the best people to raise taxes on are the people making so much money they literally could not spend it in their lifetimes or their grandchildren’s lifetimes. They won’t miss it one bit.

If you care about not just yourself and your family, but your friends and neighbors and the country as a whole, the worst thing you could do on Election Day is vote for a Conservative to represent you in government. Conservatives do not care about you (unless you’re just like them, and who wants to be?) Conservatism is a philosophy rooted in Selfishness. It’s all about “What’s in it for me?”, not “What’s in it for us?” Every single social advancement in our nation’s history was supported by Liberals and opposed by Conservatives, and always with the same tired horse shit arguments. Every. Single. One. My mother would not have lived as long as she did without Social Security and Medicare, two of the most popular programs in the country, both of which are opposed by Conservatives. They say they want to save them, but they want to do it by making everyone invest in the stock market and take their chances there. Instead of a safety net, they want a sieve. They got theirs, so they don’t care what happens to you. It’s just not in their nature to do so. Because they’re Conservative. And you should never vote for one again. Because they would never vote for you.

Daily open thread. Have at it.

A Party of Asses

I didn’t get to see the Democratic presidential debate last night, but I was delighted, delighted I tell you, to read this heartwarming recap:

The leading Democratic White House hopefuls conceded Wednesday night they cannot guarantee to pull all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of the next presidential term in 2013.

“I think it’s hard to project four years from now,” said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the opening moments of a campaign debate in the nation’s first primary state.

“It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting,” added Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

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A List of Wankers

The more I think about Senate Amendment 2934, which condemned MoveOn.org for their ad critical of General Petraeus, the more I think that this amendment symbolizes a lot of what is wrong with our Congress.

In short, those who think this is where our government’s priorities lie, that is, in condemning those who are opposed to the Iraqi occupation, just don’t get it!

Congress should be focused on how to get us out of the quagmire that is the Iraqi occupation. Anything else is mere theatrics – made while our Soldiers are dying and the Iraqi people are continuing to suffer.

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Marsha, Marsha, Marsha

Via Logan Murphy at Crooks and Liars:

Guest host David Shuster makes a fool out of MoveOn.org critic Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee).

As Logan writes, “MSNBC, get that man his own show!”

UPDATE:  TBogg helps put the MoveOn.org brouhaha into perspective.