The Diabolical Cunning of The Reagan Revolution

Nixon - Reagan (Rick Perlstein) #doubleExposure
Nixon – Reagan (Rick Perlstein)

An excerpt from an interview/conversation between Thomas Frank and Rick Perlstein, which contains this illuminating exchange about the death of Democratic Party populism; how the working class Democrat morphed into Reagan Democrats, who now listen to Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and so on…

Rick Perlstein: And, just to kind of rewind, I was very fascinated to read a book of Mike Royko columns. You know, Mike Royko is this great liberal hero, a real champion of the little guy and the kind of columnist we don’t see anymore. This white working-class populist kind of guy.

Thomas FrankAlthough they didn’t use that term populist back then. They would have just said “liberal” right?

RP–No. They would have probably called him a populist, I think. But I was struck by how many of his columns.… One of his genres was how cruel they’re being to the little guy. One of his genres was the lives of colorful Chicago characters. But a lot of his columns were about how incompetent government was, and he would write about how hard it is to get a refund when the bus token machine doesn’t work, or the lines at the DMV. And, by the same token, when you read the toughest political journalism of the day by someone like Garry Wills, who was writing amazing stuff for Esquire Magazine, it’s so iconoclastic.

TF: How do you mean?

RP: He was so good at knocking politicians off their pedestals and showing them up to be phonies. One of Garry Wills’ favorite rhetorical strategies was to find out what a politician’s favorite book was, according to his campaign rhetoric, and then ask him about the book and prove that, you know, he had no idea what was in there.

So the point is, there was just all kinds of suspicion of government circulating in the culture. It was in the air. I mean, why wouldn’t there be after Vietnam? After Watergate? After the failure of Keynesianism? And one of the sort of diabolical, cunning accomplishments of Ronald Reagan and the Reaganites was to take that free-floating rage, rage about the failures of government and turn it to the advantage of the Masters of the Universe.

TF: Yeah. That’s the story of our time in some ways.

(click here to continue reading Thomas Frank on Ronald Reagan’s secret tragedy: How ’70s and ’80s cynicism poisoned Democrats and America –

Sadly, this rings true. The GOP has long been the party of oil barons, media moguls, defense contractors, yet the rank and file of the Tea Party ranks are filled with working class and middle class voters, who consistently vote against their own economic interest. How does tax breaks for General Electric and ExxonMobil help a dude working at a muffler repair shop? It doesn’t, and yet…

Circuit Court of Cook County
POW/MIA Flag, Circuit Court of Cook County

The interview morphs into a discussion about the creation of the POW/MIA myth as a cynical Nixon ploy – 

They were quite heroic and the story holds up on its own terms. Unfortunately, the Pentagon distorted it — for example, made up things that weren’t true about prisoners being hung by their wrists and having their arms permanently broken. Well, that was easily checked once they came back, and their arms weren’t permanently broken. But I have the smoking gun, which is Nixon’s Secretary of State, William Rogers, saying the POWs are serving their purpose to basically —you can get the quote from the book — putting the military on a new footing, where they should be—to kind of redeem American militarism.

Illinois still has a POW-MIA remembrance day. So the cynicism is that, generally speaking, when a pilot would get shot down over dense jungle and they didn’t recover the body, they were classified as “body not recovered.”

…Presumed killed in action, basically. And one of the things Nixon did — and the Nixon Pentagon did — was reclassify them as Missing In Action, which served a very important rhetorical purpose: If they were missing in action, maybe they were alive. And if they were alive maybe the enemy had them alive. And so it created this sort of negotiating point. Nixon could accuse them of negotiating in bad faith unless they promised to return these soldiers that they were supposedly holding back. And that turned out to be the sorcerer’s apprentice, because he would always talk about the 1,700 Americans held prisoner or missing in action. And after the war ends and these 600 men come back…

TF That’s how many POWs there were?

Approximately. 592, I think, was the number. People would say “where are the other 1,100?” And their families would say, “where are the other 1,100?” And, basically, this preexisting group that Admiral [James] Stockdale’s wife had started up, the National League of Families of Prisoners of War, the White House basically turned it into their own front group and plumped [it] up into something much bigger than it had been. But then it takes this independent life of its own harassing the government for not more actively looking for their missing family members. So they played with the feelings of these absolutely traumatized families for political gain, and it eventually backfired.

(click here to continue reading Thomas Frank on Ronald Reagan’s secret tragedy: How ’70s and ’80s cynicism poisoned Democrats and America –

There’s more, and you should read it…

Al Franken Ran As A Liberal, and Won

Everything Is Political
Everything Is Political

Senator Al Franken won re-election with a novel strategy; he campaigned as he votes: as a Liberal! And won! Sadly, too many of his party tried to win by playing up their conservative side for some reason, and then lost. Seriously, what is the point of presenting oneself as Republican-Lite? Won’t voters just vote for the actual Republican?

Luckily for the Wellstone wing of the Democratic Party, there are a few smart guys, like Senator Franken:

Across the country, other Democratic Senate candidates distanced themselves from President Obama and the Democratic Party platform. Mark Warner, who squeaked by in Virginia, preferred to talk about how he’d tweak the Affordable Care Act than his vote for the bill, while arguing that he hasn’t actually voted with President Obama all that often. Mark Udall in Colorado decided he didn’t want to be seen with Obama. Challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky wouldn’t even say if she voted for Obama in 2012—after serving as one of his delegates to the national convention.

Franken took the opposite approach.

Instead of running away from the progressive accomplishments of the Obama era, he embraced them, railing against bankers, advocating for student loan reform—even defending the Affordable Care Act. Franken ran as an Elizabeth Warren-style Democrat, running a populist campaign that didn’t shirk discussion of the specific policies Democrats could pursue to help the middle class. And voters rewarded him. “This wasn’t a safe seat,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in an e-mail. “He earned his victory by being a proud populist Democrat for six years and inspiring voters.”

Franken’s Republican opponent, investment banker Mike McFadden, centered his campaign on painting Franken as an Obama shill. But Franken didn’t deny his ties to the president and the Democratic party—and he would have had a hard time of it if he tried. Franken was a favorite of the liberal base before entering politics thanks to his combative, unabashed left-winger radio persona on Air America and his anti-Fox News books. He joined Congress in 2009 as the Democrats’ 60th, filibuster-breaking vote, allowing the party to pass the Affordable Care Act. Since then he’s racked up a clear lefty record, regularly ranking among the most liberal members in the Senate.

(click here to continue reading Al Franken Was Liberal Enough, Tough Enough, and Doggone It, People Reelected Him | Mother Jones.)

Maybe in 2016, more Democrats will decide to run as liberals. Shocking concept, eh?

Democratic Strategists Are Clueless - Tom Tomorrow

Democratic Strategists Are Clueless – Tom Tomorrow

– via

Alterman on the Retirement of Bill Moyers

On the topic of the imminent retirement of Bill Moyers, Eric Alterman recounts, in part:

Socios TV Service

Nearly twenty years ago, I spoke to Edward R. Murrow’s top producer, Fred Friendly, who told me he thought of Bill Moyers as “the Murrow of our time…the broadcaster who most upholds his mantle.” But while Murrow remains television journalism’s most admired historical figure, it’s all but inarguable that Moyers long ago surpassed his achievements.

This is no knock on Murrow, who, after all, spent most of his career on radio. His See It Now–the program that helped take down Joe McCarthy in 1954–enjoyed just four years of life in a regular prime-time slot before it gradually disappeared as an occasional series, unable to find a sponsor. Defenestrated at CBS, Murrow gave up on network news entirely and accepted John Kennedy’s offer to head up the USIA in 1961. But when Bill Moyers likewise found his brand of journalism unwelcome on network news, he had another option. He was able to return to PBS, where he had begun his career as a broadcaster fifteen years earlier. With his decision to found his own production company, Public Affairs Television (PAT), together with his wife and executive producer, Judith Davidson Moyers, he assured himself complete editorial independence, and in the quarter-century that followed, he fashioned a body of work without parallel in the medium’s brief history.

Who but Bill Moyers could have devoted so much time to the work of Joseph Campbell and Robert Bly; done television’s most hard-hitting reporting on the Iran/Contra scandal; investigated the media’s failure in Iraq; defined the human impact of economic inequality; examined the ability of corporations to manipulate the “public mind”; evaluated the real-world impact on local communities of corporate-driven “free trade” agreements; devoted hours and hours of TV to a poetry festival, to the Book of Genesis, to the sources of addiction and to the relationship between the environment and religion, etc.? The variety of topics, moreover, is only half the story. Moyers’s methods were unique. Where else but on a Bill Moyers program were Nobel laureates and laid-off steelworkers invited to speak at length to America, without interruption or condescension?

Bill and I have been friends–and frequent professional collaborators–for nearly two decades. But we first met in Managua in 1987, where he and his crew were talking to protesters outside the US Embassy for his landmark PBS special on The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis. Not long afterward, I spent months speaking to his co-workers at CBS and elsewhere for a magazine profile of him. All were eager to talk, as we were in the midst of one of many brief “Draft Moyers for President” movements, though a few were conflicted. Some felt abandoned by his decision to leave CBS and quit fighting the good fight for network news; but most remained grateful for the opportunities his work had offered them. Onetime CBS Morning News producer Jon Katz told me, “When you work with Bill, it ruins you for everyone else.” Yes, Moyers would “drive the executives berserk with his agonizing over everything, and getting him on the morning news was like a three-month Kabuki dance every time. But the end result was the most brilliant stuff we ever had.”

[Click to continue reading Bill Moyers Retires]

Michael Moore, Capitalism’s Little Tramp

“Slacker Uprising” (Michael Moore)

Despite his films’ faults, I still enjoy Michael Moore’s movies. Am looking forward to seeing his latest.

Bruce Headlam pens a back-handed review, full of constructions like:

In the United States Mr. Moore’s conservative critics may decry his popularity, but his films and best-selling books are far more popular outside the country, especially in Britain, elsewhere in Europe and in Japan. In such places Mr. Moore has become a kind of anti-cultural ambassador — the prism through which a large part of the world views the United States.

But a film that flatly concludes that capitalism is evil is certain to put him at odds with most of the left wing in his own country, and even with President Obama, who gave a speech the next day on Wall Street on the need to reregulate, not replace the financial industry.

[Click to continue reading Film – Michael Moore, Capitalism’s Little Tramp –]

Really? Most of the left wing is on the side of the bankers? And your evidence is? Have you ever actually talked to someone who calls themselves a Liberal, outside of your normal circles?

Anyway, the Liberal typing up this blog concurs with Mr. Moore: Capitalism unchecked is a beast that destroys us and our planet. Of course it also enables us to have a luxurious lifestyle, but criticism of an ideology is not the same as a hatred. Just ask the workers of the Republic Window company who held a sit-in not too long ago.

There are fewer of the trademark Moore stunts in “Capitalism,” a sprawling 126-minute film that tries to connect data points across the economy, including the bailout, financial deregulation, privatized juvenile detention centers, the collapse of the American auto business (again), “dead peasant” insurance policies, Goldman Sachs’s influence in Washington, the crash of a commuter jet in Buffalo, the Florida condo market and an old-fashioned sit-in at a Chicago door-and-window factory.

In part the stunts are harder to pull off for a famous, rabble-rousing filmmaker. But at the movie’s heart is the original footage Mr. Moore’s shooters made of workers inside the occupied factory in Chicago (his was the only crew let in during the five-day strike) and of homeowners being evicted. Mr. Moore retains an ear for ordinary speech that is uninflected by the exigencies of morning talk shows or “SportsCenter” clichés.

because, as the Chicago Tribune noted, unchecked capitalism encourages greed, and theft:

After Republic Windows and Doors abruptly shuttered its North Side plant last winter, some of the 200 union workers who lost their jobs peacefully refused to leave for several days, demanding wages they’d earned and becoming a national symbol of the economic crisis.

On Thursday Cook County prosecutors made a startling allegation: The sudden plant closing was all part of a monthslong plot by the head of Republic Windows to loot the business, steal key manufacturing equipment and set up a new operation in Iowa.

After a judge hit former chief executive officer Richard Gillman with a whopping $10 million bail, he was led away to Cook County Jail while wearing a pin-striped suit, white collared-shirt and a dazed expression.

Prosecutors laid out their case in an unusually detailed 56-page filing. Gillman and two other undisclosed executives abandoned Republic Windows’ crushing debt, stole its assets and secretly trucked the equipment from the plant to the new operation in Red Oak, Iowa, the charges alleged.

But that operation failed, too, just a month and a half after it started, leaving hundreds of employees from both Chicago and Iowa out of work and devastated.

All told, Gillman and the others defrauded company creditors who were owed at least $10 million and stole more than $200,000 cash from Republic Windows, prosecutors alleged.

[Click to continue reading Republic Windows CEO charged in plot to loot the company —]

Reading Around on September 8th through September 10th

A few interesting links collected September 8th through September 10th:

  • dy/dan » Blog Archive » What I Would Do With This: Groceries

    – “The express lane isn’t faster. The manager backed me up on this one. You attract more people holding fewer total items, but as the data shows above, when you add one person to the line, you’re adding 48 extra seconds to the line length (that’s “tender time” added to “other time”) without even considering the items in her cart. Meanwhile, an extra item only costs you an extra 2.8 seconds. Therefore, you’d rather add 17 more items to the line than one extra person! ” I’d add – when I do the mental calculations as to what checkout line to choose, I also add gender and age into the mix (of cashier and customer both)

  • Pchela (Bee) No 5 1906..jpg
  • Post Office Buyer May Not Deliver | NBC Chicago – my photo used by NBC Chicago with a fairly crappy credit link: better than none I guess, but NBC didn’t ask either.
  • Peapod celebrates 20 years :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Business

    – Thomas Parkinson, co-founder with his brother Andrew of online grocer Peapod 20 years ago, recalls checking customers’ 1200- and 2400-baud modems while he delivered groceries in those early days.

    “There were moments of sweat rolling down my face as I thought I’d messed up someone’s hard drive,” recalled Thomas, Peapod’s chief technology officer. “One woman asked, ‘What do I use this foot pedal for?’ Turned out, it was the mouse.”

    Andrew Parkinson serves as president. The two brothers started Peapod 20 years ago in Evanston with $25,000 they’d raised from friends and family.”

    I find I use Peapod more frequently in the winter months

    William Blake - Ghost of a Flea.jpg

  • Tasty ways to use seasonal tomatoes | Frugal Village – “photo by swanksalot

    If you have an abundance of juicy tomatoes this season, consider yourself lucky to have escaped late blight. For folks not so lucky, I’m sharing recipes that don’t use a ton as the main ingredient but will let you savor every delicious bite.

  • Interview: Wallace Shawn – Chicagoist

    “I suppose I should say that all my roots are all in Chicago,” Wallace Shawn told us. “Both sides of my family. My parents were very identified with being from Chicago, really. My childhood memories of visiting the relatives in Chicago are central to my being. And all sorts of things that some people associate with New York, I associate with Chicago, like going to hear jazz. I went with my uncle to hear Erroll Garner in Chicago.” Shawn is usually thought of as the quintessential New Yorker (in fact his father William was the long-time editor of The New Yorker) but his new book is published by Chicago-based Haymarket Press.

  • Wonk Room » Joe Klein Compares ‘Left-Extremist’ Van Jones To ‘White Supremacist,’ ‘Nazi’ – ”

    Joe Klein, the prominent Time Magazine liberal columnist, has embraced the right-wing

    Hate that Joe Klein aka Joke Line is still called a liberal columnist, even after being a Republican suck-up for twenty years or more.

  • Terror Slaves of the Nile - March 1963.jpg

Blue Dogs losing grip

Kagro X at the Orange Overlord makes an interesting point:

Just prior to the vote on Joe Lieberman’s Homeland Security chairmanship, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza followed with a story that drew considerable notice for this quote:

Asked what it would mean if Lieberman kept his chairmanship, one Senate Democratic aide said bluntly: “The left has been foiled again. They can rant and rage but they still do not put the fear into folks to actually change their votes. Their influence would be in question.”

It was a calculated statement, of course, and one that’s as likely to have come from “one Senate Democratic aide” who works for Lieberman as anyone else. But what’s interesting here was the credence the theory seemed to have among Conventional Wisdom watchers.

And it’s plausible enough on its face, though I’d argue that the fact that a bunch of bloggers drove the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee to publicly announce its intention to hold a formal vote isn’t exactly something to sneeze at. We fought, we lost. It happens. But our fights never used to culminate in votes of the Senate Democratic Caucus before.

The story made me curious, though, about whether we’d see similar reaction in the traditional media about the results of the other marquee committee leadership contest of the new Congress, the Waxman-Dingell match-up for the chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. There’s been no shortage of coverage of the issue itself. And, of course, everyone covered the results. But where are the stories claiming that the defeat of the conservative wing of the House Democratic Caucus and their Blue Dog ringleaders represents a “foiling” of the right? That the Blue Dogs “can rant and rage, but they still do not put the fear into folks to actually change their votes? That their influence is in question?

[From Daily Kos: Media reaction to Waxman-Dingell? ]

Vintage Ford Pick Up Truck

Maybe I don’t feel quite as upset at the Lieberman vote after all. Dingell was as much of an impediment to the liberal agenda as Lieberman.

The Most Liberal Senator

Unless you are brain dead, or work for the National Review1, you wouldn’t ever claim that Barack Obama is the most liberal Senator2.

How Liberal Interest Groups Rate the Senators (2007)

Many interest groups rate senators on how they vote. Well-known groups that issue such ratings include Americans for Democratic Action (a progressive group) and the American Conservative Union (a conservative group). In the table below, we give the ratings of seven such groups and the mean value for each senator. However, the ratings are not completely independent. Usually senators who get a good rating from the ADA get a bad rating from the ACU and vice versa. If we used four progressive groups and four conservative groups, every senator would probably get a score of 50%–not very interesting. To avoid this problem, we have only used (relatively) progressive groups. If you are a progressive, a senator with a high score is a good senator (supports everything progressive). If you are a conservative, a senator with a low score is a good senator (opposes everything progressive). In this way the differences between the senators stand out clearly. The table below is sorted on mean rating.

[From How Liberal Interest Groups Rate the Senators 2007 ]

The .csv file is here, if you want to do your own sorting.

Per my quicky analysis, there is no way anyone can claim with a straight face that Obama is the most liberal Senator. Liberals such as myself have to come up with other reasons for supporting Obama – which, for the record, isn’t that hard to do – but liberal support isn’t because Obama is a Paul Wellstone acolyte. The numbers agree.

Some number crunching:

Per ACLU: Obama is 21st.
Per ADA: Obama is 46th.
Per CDF: Obama is 57th.
Per LCV: Obama is 50th.
Per NAACP: Obama is 3rd.
Per NARAL: Obama is 4th.
Per SEIU: Obama is 27th.

Ballot - Touchscreen Page 1

  1. kind of the same thing, I guess []
  2. unless you are running on the Republican Party ticket, or brain dead. Sort of the same thing, again []

Paul Newman: RIP

“Hud” (Martin Ritt)

We knew Paul Newman was ill and 83, and yet the news of his death is still shocking. Long a favorite actor of mine, Newman had made over 60 films; I’ve probably seen 53 of them. Not all were classics, mind you, but enough were so that his performances will be studied and celebrated for as long as film is a viable medium.

Paul Newman, a sublime actor and a good man, is dead at 83. The movie legend died Friday at his home in Connecticut, a family spokeswoman said. The cause of death was lung cancer. Newman reportedly told his family he chose to die at home.

He lived a long and active life, encompassing acting and directing for stage and screen, philanthropy, political activism, auto racing, and the “Newman’s Own” line of foods.

After serving in World War II as a tail gunner, including missions in the Pacific from an aircraft carrier, Newman studied acting at Kenyon College and quickly found stardom on the stage. His Broadway career began in 1953, co-starring in the hit play “Picnic,” and as recently as this spring he was planning to direct a summer theater production of “Of Mice and Men,” until illness prevented him.

An outspoken liberal, Newman placed 19th on Richard Nixon’s “enemies list,” and cited that as one of his proudest achievements.

How can you choose Newman’s best roles? He almost always had his choice of films, working with such directors as Martin Scorsese, Sidney Lumet, Martin Ritt, Richard Brooks, Otto Preminger, Arthur Penn, Alfred Hitchcock, George Roy Hill, Robert Altman, and the Coen brothers.

He had a huge hit in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969), co- starring with Robert Redford. They teamed again in “The Sting” (1973). His acting nominations came for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958), “The Hustler,” (1961), “Hud” (1963), “Cool Hand Luke” (1967), “Absence of Malice” (1081), “The Verdict” (1982), “The Color of Money” (1986), “Nobody’s Fool” (1994) and “Road to Perdition” (2002).

Other important performances were as Rocky Graziano in “Somebody Up There Likes Me” (1956), as Billy the Kid in “The Left-Handed Gun” (1958), “Exodus” (1960), “Torn Curtain” (1966), “Slap Shot” (1977), “Fat Man and Little Boy” (1989), as Huey Long in “Blaze” (1989), with Woodward in “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” (1980), and the Coens’ “The Hudsucker Proxy” (1994).

[From Paul Newman: In memory :: :: Featured]

“The Long, Hot Summer” (Martin Ritt)

The New York Times obit concludes:

Decency seems to have come easily to Mr. Newman himself, as evidenced by his philanthropic and political endeavors, which never devolved into self-promotion. It was easy to take his intelligence for granted as well as his talent, which survived even the occasional misstep. At the end of “The Drowning Pool,” a woman wistfully tells Mr. Newman, I wish you’d stay a while. I know how she feels.

Rebuilding America

We’re all fairly sick of hearing about the so-called “greatest generation”, but let there be no doubt, the Civilian Conservation Corps did awesome work for the nation, and the spirit of the WPA should be resurrected to rebuild our current crumbling country. Just think how much good could be accomplished with the $700,000,000 proposed to bail out Wall Street fat cats (not to mention taxpayer funds handed over to AIG, IndyMac, Fannie Mae and all the rest. Money that could instead be spent beautifying our nation.)

WPA Project No 960

Before surging ahead, however, let’s look back. Seventy-five years ago, our country faced an even deeper depression. Millions of men had neither jobs, nor job prospects. Families were struggling to put food on the table. And President Franklin Delano Roosevelt acted. He created the Civilian Conservation Corps, soon widely known as the CCC.

From 1933 to 1942, the CCC enrolled nearly 3.5 million men in roughly 4,500 camps across the country. It helped to build roads, build and repair bridges, clear brush and fight forest fires, create state parks and recreational areas, and otherwise develop and improve our nation’s infrastructure — work no less desperately needed today than it was back then. These young men — women were not included — willingly lived in primitive camps and barracks, sacrificing to support their families who were hurting back home.

My father, who served in the CCC from 1935 to 1937, was among those young men. They earned $30 a month for their labor — a dollar a day — and he sent home $25 of that to support the family. For those modest wages, he and others like him gave liberally to our country in return. The stats are still impressive: 800 state parks developed; 125,000 miles of road built; more than two billion trees planted; 972 million fish stocked. The list goes on and on in jaw-dropping detail.

Not only did the CCC improve our country physically, you might even say that experiencing it prepared a significant part of the “greatest generation” of World War II for greatness. After all, veterans of the CCC had already learned to work and sacrifice for something larger than themselves — for, in fact, their families, their state, their country. As important as the G.I. Bill was to veterans returning from that war and to our country’s economic boom in the 1950s, the CCC was certainly no less important in building character and instilling an ethic of teamwork, service, and sacrifice in a generation of American men.

[From Tomgram: William Astore, Rebuilding America, Remaking Ourselves]

and don’t forget the cash pissed away in the sands of Iraq:

Here’s where our federal government really should step in, just as it did in 1933. For we face an enormous national challenge today which goes largely unaddressed: shoring up our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The prestigious American Society of Civil Engineers did a survey of, and a report card on, the state of the American infrastructure. Our country’s backbone earned a dismal “D,” barely above a failing (and fatal) grade. The Society estimates that we need to invest $1.6 trillion in infrastructure maintenance and improvements over the next five years or face ever more collapsing bridges and bursting dams. It’s a staggering sum, until you realize that we’re already approaching a trillion dollars spent on the Iraq war alone.

Liberals are Cool – Hold Your Heads Up

Bob Herbert is of the tiny minority of actual, unabashed Liberals employed by the media. Can we replace the Charles Krauthammers of the world with some more Liberals like Bob Herbert? Please?

Ignorance must really be bliss. How else, over so many years, could the G.O.P. get away with ridiculing all things liberal?

Troglodytes on the right are no respecters of reality. They say the most absurd things and hardly anyone calls them on it. Evolution? Don’t you believe it. Global warming? A figment of the liberal imagination.

Liberals have been so cowed by the pummeling they’ve taken from the right that they’ve tried to shed their own identity, calling themselves everything but liberal and hoping to pass conservative muster by presenting themselves as hyper-religious and lifelong lovers of rifles, handguns, whatever.

So there was Hillary Clinton, of all people, sponsoring legislation to ban flag-burning; and Barack Obama, who once opposed the death penalty, morphing into someone who not only supports it, but supports it in cases that don’t even involve a homicide.

[From Bob Herbert – Hold Your Heads Up – Op-Ed –]

A few liberal accomplishments? How about:

Civil rights, women’s rights, Social Security?

Liberals went to the mat for them time and again against ugly, vicious and sometimes murderous opposition. They should be forever proud.

The liberals who didn’t have a clue gave us Social Security and unemployment insurance, both of which were contained in the original Social Security Act. Most conservatives despised the very idea of this assistance to struggling Americans. Republicans hated Social Security, but most were afraid to give full throat to their opposition in public at the height of the Depression.


Liberals who didn’t have a clue gave us Medicare and Medicaid. Quick, how many of you (or your loved ones) are benefiting mightily from these programs, even as we speak. The idea that Republicans are proud of Ronald Reagan, who saw Medicare as “the advance wave of socialism,” while Democrats are ashamed of Lyndon Johnson, whose legislative genius made this wonderful, life-saving concept real, is insane.

When Johnson signed the Medicare bill into law in the presence of Harry Truman in 1965, he said: “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine.”

Reagan, on the other hand, according to Johnson biographer Robert Dallek, “predicted that Medicare would compel Americans to spend their ‘sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was like in America when men were free.’ ”

Basically everything good that the government at least attempts to do is the result of a Liberal pushing through policy under strong opposition from the right-wing.

Humiliation imposed by custom and enforced by government had been the order of the day for blacks and women before men and women of good will and liberal persuasion stepped up their long (and not yet ended) campaign to change things. Liberals gave this country Head Start and legal services and the food stamp program. They fought for cleaner air (there was a time when you could barely see Los Angeles) and cleaner water (there were rivers in America that actually caught fire).

Liberals. Your food is safer because of them, and so are your children’s clothing and toys. Your workplace is safer. Your ability (or that of your children or grandchildren) to go to college is manifestly easier.

It would take volumes to adequately cover the enhancements to the quality of American lives and the greatness of American society that have been wrought by people whose politics were unabashedly liberal. It is a track record that deserves to be celebrated, not ridiculed or scorned.

Much more on that exact subject in Eric Alterman’s book:

“Why We’re Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America” (Eric Alterman)