Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Stupid, partisan—and traitors?

Conservatives, and Republican politicians in particular, have been outdoing themselves with what can only be called anti-American activity. Oh, the irony…

The recent tacky glee that conservatives showed when the United States lost the 2012 summer Olympics to Brazil is a prime example. The conservatives were delighted, ecstatic, even, that the United States lost. Democrats 2001-2009 would never have gotten away with that—in fact, they’d never have done it.

The reason for the conservatives’ glee is that they hate President Obama so much that they want to see him “fail”, despite the fact that the bid began while Bush was president. The other problem for those conservatives is that the president didn’t fail, the city of Chicago didn’t fail—the United States failed. It’s entirely possible—likely even—that many of us won’t live to see another summer Olympics in the United States. Whether Chicago’s bid for the games was a good idea is beside the point: Cheering for America’s defeat isn’t exactly a classy thing to do—in fact, it’s plain stupid.

Republicans have also gone to extremes to undermine America directly.

US Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) went to China, America’s biggest creditor, and told the Chinese government it couldn’t trust the US Government’s budget numbers. When he got back, he bragged about how he undermined the US to the Chinese. It’s a bit like a member of your family telling your bank that you can’t afford your mortgage payments.

US Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK, though sometimes one wonders if he’s actually from another planet), plans to go to Copenhagen to tell diplomats not to trust the US when it negotiates on climate change. Part of that’s because, as a climate change denier, he doesn’t believe there should be any agreement, but he’s also promoting the Republican Party line against any meaningful international agreement on climate change (they’re pretty clearly planning to base part of their campaign on that in 2010). The US Government wants an agreement.

US Sen Jim DeMint (R-SC) went to Honduras to meet with the military junta, which the US Government doesn’t recognise. He praised the generals’ “commitment to democracy”—despite the fact that they’re only in power because not long ago they deposed the country’s democratically-elected leader and sent him out of the country in his pyjamas. Now at least three more Republicans in Congress plan to go to Honduras to support the “democracy” of the dictators.

These incidents range from the silly to the dangerous, and all of them are deliberate acts designed to undermine President Obama and the US Government he now leads. During the Bush/Cheney regime, if Democrats did what these mainstream Republicans are doing now—actively working to undermine the interests of the United States—Republicans would’ve called them “traitors”. Can anyone think of a good reason not to apply the same name to these Republicans? Or is it just that Republicans’ partisanship and hatred for this president have reached the point where not even the US borders can contain it?


epilonious said...

Ironically, the best partisan blather the Democrats can come up with at the moment is "Well at least WE never tried to actively hurt the country..." That ain't exactly a good thing.

Meanwhile pointing fingers and saying 'traitor' doesn't change the fact that Obama essentially got whacked in the face with a Big Pie and lost lots of face in an international setting. He apparently can't just go to international countries, smile, make a speech and get whatever it is he wants.

And that is actually really what's delighting the Republicans right now. To me, all of this "they hate America" Sophistry is the same old song and dance as when Bush was in power and did something dumb.

d said...

Get over yourself, Epilonious. The supposed "Big Pie" you mention is nothing compared to the way world leaders treated Daddy Bush and Bush Jr.

In the end, not giving the US the Olympics is not a slap in the face, and it's ridiculous to think it has anything at all to do with the current (or even former) President. The US puts its hat in the ring for every Olympic game, and clearly they don't get it every year.

epilonious said...

Yes, but Chicago didn't even make it past the first elimination.

The problem is that Obama shouldn't have gone over there in the first place because Chicago obviously was not high in the runnings. Unfortunately, all his advisors and old friends seemed to be inflating Chicago's chances and Obama's influence... And everyone's hopes were dashed.

Also, you can't sit there and go "oh, well, Olympics can't be in the US all the time" and go "But the Republicans are happy we didn't get it so that makes them big, icky traitors!"

And finally, I don't really care either way or think either side is right. I just wish Progressives would relax rather than acting like their protests and gloating weren't just as bad when Bush was president.... because really, they were. They're the ones most wedded to this idea of throwing partisan politics out the window to try and get a lot of stuff done... and now they're going around calling conservative pundits traitorous... Speaking of getting over things...

Graveetas said...

If President Obama didn't go to Denmark the GOP would have spinned that to say the President didn't care about the Olympics being in Chicago.

As far as Senator Demint undermining the current the White House foreign policy in not observing the coup, he is in violation of the Logan Act. Its really up to the Attorney General whether or not he has enough facts to enforce the law. Nothing in politics surprise me.

What surprises me is why are all these Republicans being unfaithful to their wives and yet they're still in office?

It wouldn't surprise me if the GOP uses Don't Ask Don't Tell to rile up the H8 voters & Christian right to distract the masses from the healthcare debate a la early 90's like they did President Clinton.

Arthur Schenck said...

Thanks for all the great comments! I haven't had a chance to reply until now, but I do appreciate your comments. I'll have to split my responses, due to the character limit in Blogger…

Arthur Schenck said...

epilonious: What's disturbing about your comments—and, quite frankly, surprising—is that you're repeating Republican Party propaganda and memes. I know that you often rip apart sloppy thinking, so I'm surprised to see you buy into Republican myths.

About the Olympics: Obama was not "whacked in the face with a Big Pie", America was. It's pretty obvious that right wing commentators and pundits who are talking declaring that, as you put it, President Obama "can't just go to international countries, smile, make a speech and get whatever it is he wants" are doing so out of a starkly partisan wish-fulfilment: They so desperately want Obama to fail that they assume that he therefore must have personally failed.

Let's be clear: None of the pundits or commentators have any idea what they're talking about—the IOC is notoriously secretive. So, it would be every bit as valid for me to declare that Chicago lost due to residual anti-American antipathy caused by the Bush-Cheney regime—and it would be every bit as absurd as the current "Obama lost, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah…" from the right.

The most plausible explanation is that Rio was always going to win since the Olympics have never been in South America and—as much as this pains me to say as a native son of Illinois—Rio has a much better international image than Chicago, a kind of soft-focus, romantic thing that was always more appealing than "the city of broad shoulders". You basically acknowledge as much when you argue Obama never should've gone (and I'd agree with you on that, except that The Graveetas is right—Obama was damned if he did, damned if he didn't).

Part two follows…

Arthur Schenck said...

epilonious: Part two:

My main difference with you isn't about the Olympics, and this probably requires a post in itself, but here goes: You're parroting Republican/right wing propaganda. In your "plague on both their houses" stance you're buying into the false equivalency promoted by the right.

Bush set the tone for his regime: "You're either with us, or you're on the side of the terrorists". Didn't exactly leave a whole lot of room for dissent or disagreement there, and the Republican Party went into overdrive to brand anyone who disagreed with them as disloyal, anti-American and even as traitors (something I brought up in the post to underscore yet another example of the hypocrisy of the Republican Party/rightwing; with the exception of Mark Kirk, I don't personally think any of the examples I cited veer anywhere near the territory of traitorous behaviour).

Democrats are not trying to say that we didn't try to "actively" hurt the country, we're saying we didn't try to hurt the country at all, but were branded as people who were trying to do that by the same people who now really are working to hurt the country.

Opposing the Iraq invasion before it was launched (something most Democrats didn't do, actually) was not working to hurt the country; opposing privatisation of social security was not hurting the country; opposing the erosion of civil rights and the rule of law was not working to hurt the country.

I would argue that spreading outright and deliberate lies abut healthcare reform IS working to hurt the country, but undermining the US to its main creditor is absolutely, with no question or doubt, working to hurt the country. Bowing before military dictatorships not recognised by the US and working to sabotage international treaties sought by the US are both working to harm the country.

So, I don't buy the utter nonsense from the Repubicans/rightwing about how Democrats were "just as bad" when Bush/Cheney were in power—that's actually not just nonsense, it's a outright lie.

If you want to point fingers for the poisoned partisanship in Congress, look to Newt Gingrich who openly espoused politics that were anti-bipartisanship. Democrats didn't create the current climate, but they were slow to change their ways to meet the Republicans head-on.

Even now they're not acting like the Republicans did: They haven't used their superior numbers to bully through things as the Republicans did prior to 2006, and they're not calling the Republicans "traitors" for not backing the Democratic agenda in Congress. If anything, the Democrats in Congress frustrate me precisely because they're not acting like the Republicans did!

At some stage I'll try to do a post on this specific topic, and you can then refute me with specifics because I simply see no evidence that the Republican/rightwing meme has any validity whatsoever.

Arthur Schenck said...

D: I agree with your central point, that the rejection of the US Olympic bid had nothing to do with any US president. Which is why I say it was wrong for the rightwing to celebrate a loss for America.

The Graveetas: Welcome to the blog, and thanks for the comment!

I completely agree that President Obama was in a "damned if he did, damned if he didn't" position over going to make an Olympics pitch. I suppose that in that case, his going was probably the right thing to do—better to make the effort.

You mentioned what I was getting at with Jim DeMint's behaviour. But I think that and the Republicans' "faulty zippers" are actually related: Anything is okay if a Republican is doing it, including things they'd demand a Democrat resign for doing.

I think you're right, and that we're actually seeing early signs that the Republicans plan on using anti-gay wedge politics again in 2010, and possibly 2012. They're moving to get ballot initiatives to repeal marriage equality in several states, in part because they expect to win in Maine and Washington.

epilonious said...

Your dichotomies are showing, as are your absolutes.

There is probably some truth to the notion that people close to Obama knew that Chicago didn't have a good chance with the IOC and could have talked him out of going, as there is definite truth that some Republican pundits are just talking smack and would have probably said he's ditching his roots/early-supporters if he hadn't gone.

I'm perceiving the rest of your arguments as grandstanding. I really do feel that some progressives were feeling downright traitorous over some of the decisions of Bush Jr. and voiced them... and if I found them they'd sound like crazy rantings of a pissed-off but vocal minority that was having a series of bad days and I'm relatively assured you would talk about how their perspective doesn't matter and how progressives are so much better now.

What bothers me is that you're perceiving the current crazy rantings of a pissed off but vocal conservative minority that's having a series of bad days as some sort of threat, as opposed to politely ignoring them or just taking moderate glee in the notion that they got so hopping mad they said crazy things that could be spun as traitorous.

Please relax. Progressive pundits looked just as idiotic and spiteful when they gleefully bashed Bush, too. Really. They did.

Arthur Schenck said...

Well, we must agree to disagree. The core of my position is this: While signs depicting Obama as Hitler and nutcases bringing loaded guns to his speeches are clearly a minority, everything else is at the very core of the Republican leadership.

"Death panels", "socialism", "communist", "fascist", "government takeover of healthcare", ALL of these were said and promoted by the leadership of the Republican Party, not just "a pissed-off but vocal minority". You simply will not find evidence of Democratic LEADERSHIP saying and doing the same kinds of things, and that's been my point all along.

Of course there were liberals dissing Bush (and, in my opinion, rightly so). If by "progessive" you mean "liberal", no, I wouldn't say they're "better" because they weren't bad in the first place.

I never said the rightwing loons—at the core of the GOP or outside it—were a threat; their viewpoint is illegitimate, based as it is, entirely on lies and distortions.

I'm sorry you cannot perceive any difference at all between liberal or "progressive" pundits and conservative ones, because the difference is a wide chasm. Trouble is, you's be hard pressed to find ANY record of liberal punditry between 2001-2006 when the mainstream media was in lock step with Bush/Cheney. Good luck proving me wrong.

epilonious said...

Oh wow, even the "teh media was agaaanst us" whinge... Luckily, the blogosphere exists.

Also, you're basically making my point for me by emphatically insisting that Democrats/liberals/progressives are never and were never and couldn't possibly be... as tacky.

Republicans think Democrats are wrong, Democrats think Republicans are evil. I always thought that phrase was more joke than reality... now I feel my inability to consider Republicans horrible people and Republican policies as destructive and seditious will alway be the thing that distances me from most Democrats...

Arthur Schenck said...

You know that I respect you personally, and you also know that I respect your right to your opinoins, however strongly I may disagree with them, but this time you may have pushed even me too far:

I never said the media were "against us". I was merely responding to your utter nonsense statement: "Progressive pundits looked just as idiotic and spiteful when they gleefully bashed Bush, too. Really. They did." What I actually said was that you'd "be hard pressed to find ANY record of liberal punditry between 2001-2006 when the mainstream media was in lock step with Bush/Cheney." PUNDITRY is the key word, used in response to you evoking it. I never discussed the newsmedia's coverage of Democratic or liberal viewpoints 2001-2006, just the nature of punditry.

I also never said that my side "were never and couldn't possibly be... as tacky," partly because I have no idea what you mean by "tacky". The tactics used by the Republican Party and it's operatives outside it (like Dick Armey, Rush, Fox Noise) since January—and especially to stop healthcare reform—go way beyond being merely "tacky".

What I DID say was, "'Death panels', 'socialism', 'communist', 'fascist', 'government takeover of healthcare', ALL of these were said and promoted by the leadership of the Republican Party… You simply will not find evidence of Democratic LEADERSHIP saying and doing the same kinds of things, and that's been my point all along." To me, Republicans' deliberate lies and distortions far more serious than something that's merely "tacky". If you don't, perhaps you can send me your dictionary definition.

The bottom line for me is that you cannot seriously expect me to accept as valid an opinion that boils down to "Republicans aren't really bad because the Democrats were every bit as bad.' That's complete and utter nonsense—and mere Republican propaganda.

Give me one—just ONE—incident where a Democratic leader 2001-2006 acted as current Republican leaders do every single day. You can't because they don't exist.

I know there are conservative Democrats who feel at home with Republican policies (including even some who love the far right religious bullshit). But just because those people exist doesn't mean that I, as self-described old-fashioned Liberal Democrat, will see any value in the Republican Party's policies. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a single issue on which I agree with Republicans.

However: I absolutely do not "consider Republicans horrible people", although I certainly do think that their leaders in Congress are pretty close (I don't know all Republicans, but I'm sure there are some very nice people who vote Republican; they may be mistaken, but that doesn't make them horrible).

You're half right, however, about seeing "Republican policies as destructive and seditious". I absolutely see them as destructive—that's pretty obvious reason why I'm a Democrat and not a Republican or "independent". But no matter how wrong-headed and destructive Republican policies are in my opinion, that does not mean I see them as seditious and I never said anything remotely similar to that: While some of the corporate lobbying firms behind the teabaggers might be using seditious language, I'm pretty sure they're just using it to rile up their supporters, not to foment an actual, literal, revolt.

But, of course, I'm wasting my time responding to you. You apparently think both parties are equally as bad, so there is no unique sin or virtue in either. If you were talking about an individual, this sort of "try to find the good" might be appealing. But in the context of national politics it's at best pollyannish and worst, foolish and naive.

You've presented an absolutist position arguing there's no validity whatsoever in anything I've said in the post or my comments, while I've noted areas where I either agree or on which there's some room for agreement.

So: You think I'm completely wrong. Fine. I think you're completely wrong. End of discussion.

epilonious said...

However: I absolutely do not "consider Republicans horrible people", although I certainly do think that their leaders in Congress are pretty close

This is the problem.

My friend ChaliceChick once wrote "If I think the ways of getting what you want are stupid, I will not support your cause, no matter how noble"

Framing the Republicans as "okay folk, but with really horrible leadership" is, I feel, completely stupid, and disingenuous to the spirit of Hope and Understanding that Democrats were preaching in the 2008 election.

Thus, I do not support, and in fact rail against, this notion that the Republicans or any segment of their leadership are awful, awful people.

I feel they are good people, seeing their hopes for the future dashed by uncaring (or in some cases antagonistic) and overpowering opposition, and lashing out accordingly.

And I feel that the Democrats were the exact same way when NeoCons were running the show, and find it sad that the Democrats don't seem to remember the way they were treated ("oh, if you disagree with us we'll just pretend you are too stupid to understand our position or that you don't like your own country's wellbeing")... or at least don't have enough compassion to not turn around and treat the new political minorities like that.

I'm not talking about Democrats going and saying or doing traitorous things. They never did. But a whole lot of Republicans sure tried to make them look like they were.

So why are the Democrats trying their hardest to make it look like the Republicans are now... You'd think they would have learned.

But it doesn't matter, it seems you dislike the Republicans a whole lot (oh, sorry, you just dislike some of their leaders and pundits... but feel that the rest of Republicans are somehow responsible for any Republican's naughty actions apparently). And that starts getting into creepy hatred territory, and I'm sure you already know how I feel about that

Arthur Schenck said...

If you believe "Democrats were the exact same way when NeoCons were running the show," you're wrong. If you believe "Democrats don't seem to remember the way they were treated," you're blind. If you think they "don't have enough compassion to not turn around and treat the new political minorities like that," you're not paying attention.

1. Democrats were NOT "the same way" when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House. For example, right after Sept. 11, 2001, nearly all Democrats voted with the Republicans, and most did so right up through the Iraq invasion. Democrats’ late opposition was nothing like Republicans’ now.

2. Democrats control both Houses of Congress with substantial majorities, and precisely because they remember how they were treated, Democrats have been working hard, with unbelievable patience, trying to achieve consensus with Republicans on healthcare reform. In the Senate, Republicans play endless games to delay action, and still Democrats don't ignore them and move ahead—as they could, and as Republicans would’ve prior to 2006. You're again claiming equivalency where none exists.

You say, "I'm not talking about Democrats going and saying or doing traitorous things." We Democrats aren’t trying "to make [Republicans] look like" they're doing "traitorous things" (although, personally, I think Mark Kirk has come awfully close).

We don't need to because their signs, websites and speeches do that job for us. What we can and do say is that Republicans are being obstructive for the sake of obstructiveness, that they're being obstinate for purely partisan reasons.

Yet despite the GOP’s open hostility and even hatred for core Democratic ideals, despite party leaders opposing my own core values and despite them lying on the floor of the House and Senate and in countless state legislatures, you expect me to smile and say nothing. Incredible.

You say: "I feel they are good people, seeing their hopes for the future dashed by uncaring (or in some cases antagonistic) and overpowering opposition, and lashing out accordingly." That's the Fox Noise line and Republican Party propaganda, nearly word-for-word.

Here's how I'd re-phrase that: I feel Republicans are good people, seeing their hopes for the future dashed by uncaring (or in some cases antagonistic) powers beyond their control (that perhaps they can't even identify), and by overpowering opposition from those powers, like big corporations, and they're whipped up by opportunistic partisans who see in their fears and worries the opportunity to convince these people to act against their own best interests. So, these people then lash out at the wrong targets.

You insinuated that I hate Republicans, and I deeply resent that. In your paradigm, I'm motivated by hatred, therefore I have hatred "hiding", therefore you can dismiss everything I say. But there's no way I can "prove" I'm not motivated by "hatred" unless I see things exactly the same way you do, and that's not going to happen.

Not that you'll believe me, and not that I really care about that, but I hate no one. There are some I intensely dislike, but few of those people are Republican Party leaders or politicians. Disliking someone intensely for what they say and do (typically anti-GLBT) is not the same thing as hating them.

I have deep, profound and personal differences with the Republican Party and its leaders. I want real Democrats to win elections and want Republicans to lose them. That's the whole reason I'm a Democrat and not an independent or something else. One doesn't have to "hate" an opponent to wish to prevail over them.

I've always been clear about my partisanship and about my political beliefs and values. You're asking me to be something I'm not and to believe something I don't. Declaring that my motivation is hatred doesn't make it true and makes you look rather foolish. I change my position on issues only in response to facts and reason, not endless recitations of propaganda and certainly not because of veiled insults.

epilonious said...

See, here's the fun thing: I didn't actually say you hated Republicans.

But you worked really hard to make it look like you did, and you sure defended against it.

It's that whole "jump to conclusions" mat that I'm trying to guide you away from that I think keeps getting you into trouble.

To wit: Me thinks you doth protest too much... especially for someone who declared the conversation over.

Cheers, Arthur.

Arthur Schenck said...

I have to admit, I had a WTF? reaction to what you said about declaring the conversation over until I re-read the comment you're referring to. I can see how that could be misinterpreted, especially since it was the last thing I said.

I meant it simply as closure to "You think I'm completely wrong. Fine. I think you're completely wrong." In retrospect, perhaps I could've been clearer about that, but at the time, in a bit of a hurry, I thought the context would be clear, but I now see that it may not have been.

I've actually never ended a discussion on this blog and I never will. To me, they're over when people stop commenting, which inevitably happens. As an aside, the main reason I wouldn't do it is that our local newspaper sometimes prints "correspondence on this matter is now closed," and that always annoyed me.

Anyway, the fact that I responded ought to indicate that I didn't intend to end the conversation.

As for the hatred thing, I suppose it must be in the eye of the beholder, because I certainly don't see any conclusion I jumped to.