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Thursday, April 10, 2008

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"Ronald Reagan was able to sell the notion that the Sandinistas were a grave existential threat because they were only two days from the Texas border."

crikey i remember that, and i remember one person repeating to me it in all seriousness. have you ever, not laughed, but had a laugh of its own will burst right out of your lungs? that's how i reacted.

You haven't been reading enough libloggers. Don't you know Bush, by making the strategic "mistake" of invading Iraq, has only succeeded in "handing Iraq over to Iran?" Because we and Iran are "strategic rivals" for control of the Middle East, or some such shit. Quite helpful to Cheney and the Neocons to have liberal Dems reinforcing the US/Iranian "cold war" (soon to become a hot war) meme.

As for this:
called Iran one of the two "greatest threats to America in this century"

Well, the century is young.

SteveB: You haven't been reading enough libloggers.

I read one or two of their postings a year. That's enough.

Wow. Just read through the comments, not to mention the initial posting. Do you really subject yourself to that on a regular basis? Is there an occasional payoff, or is it always that bad?

SteveB, I may have skimmed too quickly, but I think some of them decided you're a conservative.

Shit, I didn't realize I'd only read half the thread. John, why'd you lead 'em back here? One could stay, xyz-style.

That thread was particularly ugly confluence of two important libdem tendencies:

1) Every antiwar statement must be "balanced" by reinforcing some dangerous right-wing talking point. So invading Iraq was wrong because it "took our eye off the ball" of the "real enemy" in Afghanistan, or invading Iraq was wrong because it "strengthened Iran", who is our "strategic competitor" in the Middle East.

2) Ideas don't matter. The only things that really matter are the purely technical aspects of "democracy", like fundraising and voter turnout. To suggest that the ideas that ordinary folks like you and I believe are important is patently ridiculous, like suggesting that a single blog post will result in us bombing Iran.

I think some of them decided you're a conservative.

Go to any libdem blog and attack them from the left. They never see it coming. In their minds, merely using the term "liberal democrat" marks you as a right-winger, because if you were on their side, you'd call them "progressives", wouldn't you? Eventually, they're able to fit you into the "Naderite" pigeon hole in their brains, and then they're happy again.

Do you really subject yourself to that on a regular basis? Is there an occasional payoff, or is it always that bad?

Yes, no and no.

"Go to any libdem blog and attack them from the left. They never see it coming. In their minds, merely using the term "liberal democrat" marks you as a right-winger, because if you were on their side, you'd call them "progressives", wouldn't you? Eventually, they're able to fit you into the "Naderite" pigeon hole in their brains, and then they're happy again."

so too with rightwingers (i've had more experience of this this of libdems), who cannot comprehend that it's possible to hate the war from the right. they have a 'liberal' pigeonhole in their brains, quite capacious, as it includes even hilary clinton.

I used to confound right-wingers on Usenet in the late 90's when I'd say that Clinton was a lying scumbag who should be impeached—but for actual crimes, not some ridiculous panty-chase. I've said similar things to conservative friends as well, and yet when I speak to them again they'll inevitably peg me as a Clinton fan, because there's only one box in their brain for all of that (capacious, as petey said).

Related point: I've often thought that to a Republican, "liberal" means "not-conservative". Thus the media is liberal because it doesn't sufficiently reinforce the full range of right-wing talking points. Clearly, though, that kind of thinking cuts both ways.

"Socialist" also means "liberal" on the right.

My young son recently became interested in Roberto Clemente. He asked me why the plane crashed and I told him it crashed because Somoza was a greedy pig.

As I recall, Clemente had to procure some creaky old airplane, overload it with supplies and travel with them himself because the people of Nicaragua desperately needed help after the earthquake and he could not go through the normal relief channels because it would just end up in the hands of The Nicaraguan government who would mark the stuff up and sell it.

I sometimes wonder if Clemnente is popular in The Latin community (in Chicago where I live there is a large High School named after him) not just because of 3,000 hits and the 1971 World Series but also because he is sort of a martyr, a victim, albeit indirectly, of an incredibly corrupt Latin American government.

It's also my recollection(which means I have no source on this so correct if I'm wrong)that The Somozas owned the only cement company in Nicaragua and jacked up the prices after the 1972 earthquake which just makes good financial sense if you're Milton Friedman but...

Later in the decade they were overthrown in the popular Sandinista revolution which led to the Contras, dirty wars, genocide in Guatamala, etc...

As I recall, the Viet Cong were also going to swarm across our borders and conquer us without firing a shot, because we weren't paying enough attention to National Security, dammit!

cemmcs, I wouldn't have known who Roberto Clemente was if I hadn't read Dave Zirin's Welcome to the Terrordome: the pain, politics and promise of sports, which has a chapter on him. (Sport is not my metier, and Zirin taught me a lot.) As I recall, Clemente (like all non-white athletes) was a martyr/victim not only of an incredibly corrupt Latin American government but of an incredibly corrupt white American sports establishment. (And don't forget that Latin American government corruption persists with the help of corrupt Norteamericano government, which would traditionally overthrow any non-corrupt Latin American government and replace it with a nice dictatorship because they aren't ready for democracy yet down there.)

John, I like Chomsky's notion of "the liberal media" as the leftward limit of acceptable debate in America. Yes, they are liberal, which doesn't mean there's no way to go beyond them on that fictive left-to-right continuum. I agree with you that it cuts both ways -- the left can demonize the media as if they were all the way to the right -- so I think it's better simply to accept the label "liberal media" and then try to show people that there are positions outside those the "mainstream" can imagine. "Liberal media" is only a problem if you think that "liberal" means "good." Sara Diamond, the sociologist who did so much important work on the American Right, says somewhere that at a right-wing convention she saw a "Don't Trust the Liberal Media" bumpersticker, and immediately wanted one. So would I, if I had a car.

I agree with you that it cuts both ways -- the left can demonize the media as if they were all the way to the right...

Not what I meant, actually, though I can see how you read it that way. I was talking about "that kind of thinking" more generally—meaning that on the nominally liberal end of the spectrum, there are plenty of people who think that if you don't sufficiently echo mainstream Democratic talking points, you must be a conservative (as Steve had mentioned)...and who aren't happy until they've found the proper pigeonhole (e.g. Naderite) where they can drop and ignore you.

My best experience with that: in 2004 a friend pointed me to Alternet and I posted there for a while, criticizing Kerry from the left, and was denounced as an undercover right-wing agent. I got tired of being derided in every way and at every turn and struck back mildly, and was immediately threatened with account suspension. I pointed out the hypocrisy, and in return got this hilariously self-important email about it from an Alternet nabob ("don't you dare ever question the competence or authority of a host at the AlterNet site again"). All in all, an educational experience.

Steve, that's part of why I asked you if you really spend that much time on blogs like Whiskey Fire. And especially that one, since as far as I can tell, the person who posts there thinks calling someone "pussy" is devastatingly witty, and "fuck" makes everything much, much funnier. Maybe it gets better than that occasionally, but it's not apparent from the few times I've found myself over there.

"in return got this hilariously self-important email about it from an Alternet nabob ("don't you dare ever question the competence or authority of a host at the AlterNet site again")."

HHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAA! did you, then, post up that email? hee-hee.

..."fuck" makes everything much, much funnier..

Yeah, I've been meaning to talk to you about that. I mean, this is a nice little blog you've got here, but if you want to hit the big time, like a guest-hosting gig at Firedoglake, you've got to learn to work blue.

Please attend to this matter ASAP.

I posted there for a while, criticizing Kerry from the left, and was denounced as an undercover right-wing agent.

But of course. I've criticized the distortions of gay Christianity, and even though I make it explicit that I'm an openly gay atheist, I'm accused of being a straight fundamentalist. I've also criticized the bogus science of the "born-gay" line, again explicitly as a militant queer since 1971, and I'm accused either of being a right-wing fundamentalist who "thinks it's a choice", or a social constructionist who "thinks it's a choice." Sweet.

petey: did you, then, post up that email?

That would have been perfect, wouldn't it? Ah, missed opportunities....

I'll give Alternet this: at least they warned me and even said I could continue posting if I'd be a good little Democrat—which makes them look like the pinnacle of reason, compared to the control freaks at CommonDreams. But it's yet another example of just how paper-thin the commitment of liberals to a free exchange of ideas really is.

Steve: I'll start researching right away!

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