Sunday, March 04, 2007

joke line

The latest Joe Klein nonsense is burning up the intertoobz. LeeB demanded that I FP Starroute's response - so, without further, ummmm, cliches, here's starroute:
Well, I'd agree that America isn't really a democracy, if by democracy you mean "government of the people, by the people, for the people." But that's the only item on the list I'd endorse 100%. A few of the others I might accept with reservations -- for example, if I could add "over the last 50 years" or "during Republican administrations" or "with both A and B playing a role."

But what really strikes me about the list is that it isn't so much an expression of the belief-set of any actual liberal I've ever known as it is a warped mirror of a certain kind of right-wing thinker who still likes to regard themself as a centrist:

--believes the United States is a fundamentally positive force in the world.

--believes that Islamic radicalism is the result of deep flaws in Muslim society and not connected with any actions by the West.

--believes that the decision to go to war in Iraq was an isolated error and anomalous in terms of the general pattern of US foreign policy.

--tends to blame others for the failures of America.

--believes that capitalism, carefully regulated and progressively taxed, is the best idea in human history.

--believes American society is fundamentally fair but has certain aspects that need improvement.

--believes that problems like crime and poverty are eternal and not possible for society to eliminate.

--believes that America is really a democracy.

--believes that corporations are fundamentally benign.

--believes that corporations have little to do with world events.

--is more receptive to ideas from conservative sources than from liberal ones.

--would never say anything critical about religious opponents of abortion and gay marriage.

--regularly uses harsh, vulgar, intolerant language to attack liberals or progressives."
Don had a go too:
Oh boy, I love quizzes...

--believes the United States is a fundamentally negative force in the world.

Substitute "the current administration" for "the United States" and I've got a point, otherwise no.

--believes that American imperialism is the primary cause of Islamic radicalism.

Um, no, although if you use a similar substitution as in the last criterion, you have a serious aggravating factor.

--believes that the decision to go to war in Iraq was not an individual case of monumental stupidity, but a consequence of America’s fundamental imperialistic nature.

Another sub: "the Bush administration's" for "America's"... there's a pattern forming here...

--tends to blame America for the failures of others—i.e. the failure of our NATO allies to fulfill their responsibilities in Afghanistan.

Ah, blame America last. That's safe, I don't blame America. I blame the idiots at the wheel... again... Another sub...

On this, other nations don't have the military resources that the US has, but most of theirs are in Iraq. Just think, what could an additional 21,500 troops have accomplished helping to stabilize Afghanistan? Instead, they're to be a political play of an administration that just does not know how to say, "Oops, sorry".

Interesting how he ignores the dropping of the ball on getting Osama, n'est-ce pas?

--doesn’t believe that capitalism, carefully regulated and progressively taxed, is the best liberal idea in human history.

WTF?! Anyone on the left not believe in "carefully regulated and progressively taxed" capitalism? Please tell me he doesn't actually think this describes the current environment... and I gotta wonder what exactly he means by "progressively taxed".

--believes American society is fundamentally unfair (as opposed to having unfair aspects that need improvement).

Fundamentally unfair is current circumstances in Baghdad...

--believes that eternal problems like crime and poverty are the primarily the fault of society.

Not society as a whole, no...

--believes that America isn’t really a democracy.

Saw my first Diebold ATM the other day... double-checked my keying and yes, I asked for a printout... I'm sorry, what was the question again?

--believes that corporations are fundamentally evil.

Fundamentally, no; the corporation as an abstract concept is fine. As executed in recent times, however...

--believes in a corporate conspiracy that controls the world.

No, the corporations are only an aspect/facade/tool of the shadowy global overlords... (:

--is intolerant of good ideas when they come from conservative sources.

Do I get to distinguish between conservative, "movement" conservative, and neoconservative on this? The first would be ok; I know a lot of smart conservatives. The other two only seem to come up with bad ideas and talking points, so this is kind of a trick question.

--dismissively mocks people of faith, especially those who are opposed to abortion and gay marriage.

Assuming "people of faith" isn't faux liberal code speak for white Christians, that's a point on the liberal extremism test for most of the anti-Muslim crowd on the right...

--regularly uses harsh, vulgar, intolerant language to attack moderates or conservatives.

Attacks, no. Commentary, often, but only in the case of morally and intellectually bankrupt apologists and cheerleaders; I have a low tolerance threshold for stupidity.

OTOH, compared to calls for assassination, smears, or thinly veiled attacks based on religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, I'll stick with my profanity and be fucking proud of it.

This reads like a checklist of GOP talking points and attack criteria to me: but for one point, the capitalism thing, it's all GOP bullshit. (oops, I said a harsh word) But for that one point, it's all Rovian framing and artificially limited phrasing.

And this guy's Time's token liberal. Here's another harsh word: Fuck 'im!

and uranus:
The list is an example of framing, so dismissive it seems foolish to comment, painting a picture of a person rare in the extreme. Not so long ago, it was John Birch republicans who believed America wasn't a democracy. Over and over, the same damn thing: personal attack to squelch discourse. I can play this game. The GOP is the party of dictatorship and global annihilation. Republicans believe the proper solution to any difference of opinion or situation generally is killing, and all republicans are hobby killers. Any blithering idiot knows this stuff isn't true, and the more mentally compromised write this fluff as fact or farce.

I got an e-mail the other day suggesting we send illegal immigrants to Iraq. Whether or not the author was serious, this stupid idea doesn't warrant being written down.
(go visit every other lefty blog on the planet for similar comments. Joke is such an inspiration for us all! To his credit, he promised the Rightest equivalent soon - will he dare?)

Of course - Joke's rhetorical trick is to 'define' "left-wing extremist" as 'america hating' - and then say stuff like 'nancy pelosi is emboldening beholden to 'left wing extremists'' like james baker, john negroponte, atrios, lukery - and then say 'i never said any of them were left-wing extremists' - i just said that left-wing extremists blame america first - and that nancy pelosi is emboldening beholden to the majority of the population 'left wing extremists' - as you can see by her 'hate blame america' policies. Why does Nancy Pelosi hate america? hollywood too. ellen degeneres! cindy sheehan - tee hee.

shhhh: don't mention sibel.


«—U®Anu§—» said...

Saw my first Diebold ATM the other day... double-checked my keying and yes, I asked for a printout... I'm sorry, what was the question again? My bank just installed a new Diebold toy, LCD displays and cameras in the drive-in lanes which let you see yourself doing your banking. Not only is the government watching your bank account, but now they have visual confirmation and all our pictures. I feel safer already!

starroute said...

Re-reading my own comments, and then everybody else's, I get the feeling there actually is a valid point buried in all the framing and buzzwords -- and it has to do with an argument about the nature of the American system itself. Put it this way:

-- conservatives believe the current American system is as near to perfection as makes no difference and have a "love it or leave it" attitude towards anyone who disagrees

-- centrists believe the American system is as good as it currently gets but has scattered flaws and is susceptible to minor criticism and fine-tuning

-- crazy left-wing extremists believe that the American system is fatally flawed and was either corrupt to begin with or has broken down because 18th century-style representative democracy doesn't scale well -- that in place of government for the people we now have corporate domination at home and imperialistic adventures abroad -- and that Americans have spent the last 60 years blaming the domestic and foreign underclass for their problems instead of coming to grips with their own failures and limitations

Putting it that way, you could actually have the makings of an interesting argument about whether the problems in the United States are superficial and correctable or deeply rooted and systemic.

Speaking personally, I can see I've spent most of my life cycling wildly between those two positions -- between the Kennedy idealism of my high school years in the early 60's and the trickle-down-Marxist cynicism of my post-college years in the late 60's -- without ever finding a secure resting place.

But I can also see that it's the "love it or leave it" attitude of the hard right that has effectively prevented the center-left and the radical left from having the sort of frank debate about American society and its discontents that was a regular feature of left-wing intellectual life in the 1930's but has not been possible in my lifetime.

In other words, rather than allowing the right to demonize any suggestion that the system is fundamentally broken, to the point where the center-left/entire Democratic Party is terrified to even be associated with the question, we need to open the matter up for honest consideration.

And under present circumstances, a debate like that can only start at the netroots -- but not in a bash-America way or an old-line Marxist way (which only feeds the right-wing assault machine), but in a simple, sincere, "well what if the system really is broken, and then what do we do about it" sort of way.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

Nicely done, starroute. The liberty/democracy model is an experiment which is like an old house. It becomes more beautiful and valuable with age, but if it isn't diligently maintained, it quickly crumbles. I always believed that simple fact is self-evident. But, surprise, surprise, some people believe such an idea is naive and prehistoric. These people need to repeat to themselves, "relax, be calm." They don't listen to me; meanwhile, there is no shutting me up.