The following nugget was buried at the bottom of a follow-up CP report on how CIDA helped fund the Ugandan aid work of the virulently anti-gay Crossroads Christian Communications (in full PR damage control mode now that its homobigoted Evangelical slip is showing) to the tune of half a million dollars last year:
Francois Audet, director of the Montreal-based Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid, said he believes Crossroads is far from the only group with controversial opinions that receives CIDA money.
“There is, for sure, other hidden treasures, other organizations who do ideological propaganda with public funding from Canadian aid — and what is worrying is that CIDA does not check this,” Audet said in an interview.
Audet said that his own research on how CIDA allocates its funds shows that between 2005 and 2010, funding for religious non-government organizations increased 42 per cent, while secular groups saw an increase of just five per cent.
“I have the clear impression — and I am not the only one in the scientific community — that behind this, there is a deliberate strategy to finance the groups ideologically close to the actual Conservative government,” he said.
Hey, careful now — publicly musing about hidden Harpercon agendas is almost guaranteed to give the Queensway set the serious vapours. The last thing we need on a Tuesday (or any other day for that matter) is an especially vapourous Canadian punditocracy. Their regular pinheaded emissions are gaseous enough as it is.
I highly doubt Ottawa’s atmosphere can handle any more pollution.
Related: To be fair, not all Jesus-friendly NGOs are on board the CIDA gravy train:
In the past few years [KAIROS], the Mennonite Central Committee and the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace have all seen CIDA funding cut:
CIDA’s shift away from working with long-time and often church-based development partners to financing private sector projects such as those of the mining companies has been in the works for several years.
In November 2009, CIDA cut off funding to the ecumenical social justice group KAIROS, which had been a long-time partner in development. Neither CIDA nor its minister Bev Oda would provide any explanation beyond saying that CIDA’s priorities had changed and KAIROS did not meet them.
Then in February 2012, CIDA turned down a proposal by the well-respected Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for $2.9 million for each of three years to provide food, water and income generation assistance for people in India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Haiti, Bolivia, Mozambique and Ethiopia.
In March 2012, it became apparent that CIDA had also cut off the Catholic organization Development and Peace (D&P). CIDA, which had provided the organization with $44.6 million in the years 2006-11, chopped that amount by two-thirds, to a total of $14.5 million over the next five years.
The AP reports that 5,000 Golden Dawn supporters marched past the US Embassy in Athens, chanting anti-Turkish, anti-US and anti-immigrant slogans. The anti-US feeling was prompted by memories of a 1996 territorial dispute between Greece and Turkey that only ended peacefully after the intervention of the US, and led to three Greek navy officers dying in a helicopter crash.
It never ceases to amaze me how eager some white liberals are to divorce race from political analysis when it comes to Obama. Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler (who seems to have settled nicely into his blogospheric role as the curmudgeonly Luddite uncle who refuses to replace his black and white TV with a flat-screen plasma because, goddammit, a 10″ Zenith was good enough for Al Gore back in college) has been relentless in his contention that wingnut animus towards the 2nd blackest president ever is simply par for the course when you’re a Dem. Even Birtherism is merely a burden that anyone with a ‘D’ following their name must bear.
Brendan Nyhan approvingly quotes:
Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler objects to the liberal conventional wisdom that, as the New York Times put it, “It is inconceivable that this campaign [birtherism]… would have been conducted against a white president”:
We think it was a remarkable statement because somewhat similar campaigns already have been conducted against white candidates. A somewhat similar campaign was conducted in 1988 against Candidate Michael Dukakis, for instance. After that, strains of the same ethnic/nativist cards were played against Candidate Kerry in 2004.
Somewhat similar except, well, they aren’t — unless one can recall a protracted disinformation campaign against either individual questioning their bloody American citizenship (rather than, eg, their patriotism, a more common line of attack faced by the left) that managed to drive the news cycle for well over 3 years. Nyhan himself acknowledges that Obama’s “unique” life circumstances have driven the way conspiratorial attacks are framed, before trying to use Chester A. Arthur as a counterexample of a white president who also faced baseless attacks on his citizenship. Which is true, except, as again noted by Nyhan, those attacks were framed in the context of Arthur’s Irish identity.
In the 1800s.
So, um, yeah, nativist attacks against a member of a marginalized ethnic group clearly prove that race isn’t really a factor when it comes to Birtherism.
Look, no matter how many counterarguments are offered, one shouldn’t discount the fact that Obama’s ethnic identity affects the tone and tenor of attacks being leveled against him, and how said attacks are received by the general public (without twisting one’s contentions into Gordian-like contortions, that is). From the beginning, race has influenced how we frame this issue (much like Clinton’s identity as an ex-’60s radical boomer fed into the still-lingering divide of an America embroiled in the Culture Wars, or W’s class background and swaggering anti-intellectualism shaped how he was portrayed and perceived, both by supporters and detractors). To point that out isn’t to label any and all critics or criticism racist (though, obviously, some are), but, again, to try and properly contextualize.
Political opportunists jump on any and all opportunities; for some, Obama’s racial identity presents an all-too-tempting opening for baseless attacks that, if leveled against, say, Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter, would hold no traction.
On a less analytical note, it’s frustrating to be constantly lectured about what is and isn’t ‘racist’ by those who, quite frankly, have no lived experience with racism, merely in abstract. For many of us, this isn’t an intellectual exercise. When we see Obama’s citizenship in question on a mass scale, we recall all the myriad times some cluelessly earnest soul has asked us where we’re from originally (because apparently dark skin in a normatively white culture instantly screams ‘other’), an all-too familiar suspicion that, through Birtherism, has now been magnified to ridiculous proportions.
Yes, based on past history, any Dem holding the keys to the Oval Office would likely be subject to a dishonest scorched earth smear campaign by the GOP and associated right-wing partisans. But that doesn’t mean Birtherism is simply par for the course. Obama is being attacked because he’s a Democratic POTUS and because he’s a scary person of colour with a funny name.
It’s not an either/or proposition.
(Photo: Rockinon2009, Flickr)
First, contrary to what Coulter seems to suggest in a brief phone interview with Macleans.ca scribe Colby Cosh, it was not the police who “shut it down.” I spoke with Ottawa Police Services media relations officer Alain Boucher this morning, and he told me, in no uncertain terms, that it was her security team that made the decision to call off the event. “We gave her options” — including, he said, to “find a bigger venue” — but “they opted to cancel … It’s not up to the Ottawa police to make that decision.”Boucher’s statements are seemingly at odds with the account provided via twitter by Ezra Levant, who was supposed to appear on stage alongside Coulter. Several hours after the event had been called off, he tweeted that ”Cops advised that proceeding with Coulter event in face of protesters would be dangerous to her and crowd,” and quoted a Sgt. Dan Beauchamp as saying that shutting down the event was “a public safety issue,” as well as an unnamed “police officer” who allegedly said that the OPS “cannot guarantee her safety.” He also corrected an early report from Calgary radio host Rob Breakenridge, who tweeted that the speech was kiboshed because of a fire alarm, claiming that “it was the threat of violence, say cops.”[...]
Finally, an observation from a CBC reporter who was in the Foyer while Coulter was being interviewed by CTV’s Power Play: At approximately 5:15pm, he overheard a member of her security team tell a Conservative MP that her event “may be cancelled,” which would suggest that the decision to do so was already being considered before more than half the crowd had assembled outside the venue — hopeful speech-goers and protesters alike. Coulter herself, meanwhile, told Cosh that she never actually left the Rideau Club — where she was the guest of honour at a $250 per head private reception — for the university. Given the travel times involved, and the 7:30 pm start time, she would likely have had to do so by 7pm at the latest in order to make it in time.
To quote my favouritist bookstore eva:
Ann Coulter played y’all, Canada.
BTW y’all wanna get excised over an actual affront to free speech in Canada (as opposed to Ezra & Ann’s asinine [if largely successful] attempt to insult our collective intelligence for filthy lucre)? Say hello to the campaign to silence Israeli Apartheid Week. Don’t know what I’m talking about?
Related: More mythbusting, pith and fitfully delicious pique from BigCityLib and some sweet, sweet snark from my homegrrl pale (mmm, that’s the stuff).
(Photo: Jimbo Wales, flickr)
After protesters at the University of Ottawa prevented Ann Coulter from giving a speech on Tuesday night, the American conservative writer said it proved the point she came to make – free speech in Canada leaves much to be desired.
Then she said what she really thought of the student protesters who surrounded Marion Hall, making it to unsafe, in the view of her bodyguard, for the pundit to attempt entry.
“The University of Ottawa is really easy to get into, isn’t it?” she said in an interview after the cancelled event. “I never get any trouble at the Ivy League schools. It’s always the bush league schools.”
Ms. Coulter said she has been speaking regularly at university campuses for a decade. While she has certainly been heckled, she said this is the first time an engagement has been cancelled because of protesters.
“This has never, ever, ever happened before – even at the stupidest American university,” she said.
In a short speech, [Ezra] Levant said Tuesday was “an embarrassing day for the University of Ottawa and their student body, who could not debate Ann Coulter . . . who chose to silence her through threats and intimidation, just like their vice-president did.”
Bollocks. Far from being ‘silenced’, as Levant boldly (and stupidly) contends, Coulter’s profile and her underlying thesis (such as it is) regarding so-called ‘PC’ tyranny have been greatly amplified by her trip to the Great White North (to the point where yours truly, someone who, long ago, pledged to avoid even mentioning the name ‘Ann Coulter’, much less posting about her, is now dutifully chronicling the nauseating twists and turns of Ann’s Excellent Canadian Adventure).
There was actually no physical threat, only heated, emotional outbursts from a crowd that had been whipped up to a frenzy by the inflamed publicity her entourage had stoked.
Coulter should have thanked the students protesting outside Marion Hall. Their performance has raised Coulter’s profile in the US. Media networks that had stopped inviting her to their talk shows are likely swamping her agent with booking requests.
Butbutbut poor Ms. Coulter was unfairly harrangued by an unruly, censorious mob of low-rent ”junior jihadists” (“It’s always the bush league schools”) hell-bent on shouting her down and setting her adrift on an ice flow (buddy).
(Photo: anewsocialcontract, flickr)
Maybe so, but, as Boris @ The Beav contends, perhaps the burning anger purportedly on display Tuesday night was indeed sparked by more than merely Coulter’s trademark deliberate provocation:
There are moments when a bit of incivility is required and acceptable. We’ve seen over the past few years of the Harper government a rise in the policies that support the sort of sentiments that Coulter advocates. The cases Abousfian Abdelrazik, Maher Arar, Omar Khadr, Mohamed Harkat, Suaad Hagi Mohamud, the current fiasco with Rights and Democracy, etc etc, all suggest an insidious bent to the Harper government that Ann Coulter simply voices in plain language.
She becomes a symbolic target for the impotent rage that many of us feel toward the Harper regime and its perverse and fascistic fans. There is a link.
And if there was a mob, and it was unruly enough to shut down her little talk, fire alarms and all, then so be it.
This is what happens when bigots and fascists show themselves in public to spew their bile. This is also what happens when the public cannot find civil means (pay attention here, Opposition) of redressing the temperament and actions of a far-right minority government hell-bent on destroying the open liberal democracy that about 60 to 70% of us seem to support and enjoy. We find targets we can actually hit, and we push back.
True enough — still, at a certain point one has to carefully pick one’s battles. And, quite frankly, as dBo noted, this latest incident has only served to increase Coulter’s profile to a level of prominence that she hasn’t enjoyed in years. It would seem this thin line that separates righteous anger from useful idiocy is still being delineated (to the great delight of Coulter and Levant, no doubt):
Rita Valeriano was one of several protesters inside the hall who, with chants of “Coulter go home!” shouted down the International Free Press Society of Canada organizer who was addressing the crowd.
Valeriano, a 19-year-old sociology and women’s studies student, said later that she was happy Coulter was unable to speak the “hatred” she had planned to.
“On campus, we promise our students a safe and positive space,” she said. “And that’s not what (Coulter) brings.”
Outside the hall, Sameena Topan, 26, a conflict studies and human rights major at the U of O, spoke to the Citizen on behalf of a group of protesters.
“We have a large group of students that can very clearly outline the difference between discourse and discrimination,” Topan said of the protest. “We wanted to mobilize and make sure that’s clear on campus, that there’s a line between controversy and discrimination, and Ann Coulter has crossed it. Numerous times.”
“We had concerns about (the event) at the beginning, but especially after we saw what happened at the University of Western Ontario, when she called out a Muslim girl there and was saying she needs to take a camel because Muslim people shouldn’t fly. That kind of stuff just reaffirmed everything that we were afraid of and that’s when . . . we really got worried.”
Topan was pleased to hear the students behind her shout, “Hate speech cancelled!” in unison.
“I think that’s great. I think we accomplished what we were here to do, to ensure that we don’t have her discriminatory rhetoric on our campus,” she said.
Look, it’s bad enough that three Canadian campuses (including one in my hometown) have afforded a vile bigot like Coulter a stage to perform her trademark powersuit-wingnut vaudeville routine. But are they also contractually obligated to serve her up a heaping bloody plate of steak tar tar on a goddamn silver platter?
I think people like Coulter absolutely exult at the opportunity to put on the veneer of smoking martyr to free speech. Handing her that opportunity on a plate gives a professional rodeo clown far more credibility than she deserves.
Co-sign. DNFTT, kids. Srsly.
Still, my irony bone can’t help but be tickled by the notion that Ann Coulter of all people (in concert with Levant, Canada’s favourite wanna-be wingnut provocateur) might try to gin up a human rights case (to make a Very Important Point About Free Speech, natch) over “restraint, respect and consideration”:
Speaking to students and academics at the University of Western Ontario Monday, Coulter said the e-mail sent to her Friday by Francois Houle, vice-president academic and provost of the University of Ottawa, targeted her as a member of an identifiable group and as such, she will be filing a complaint with the Human Rights Commission alleging hate speech.
“I’m sure the Human Rights Commission will get to the bottom of it,” Coulter said to loud cheers from the 800-strong audience. “I think I’m the victim of a hate crime here. Either what (Mr. Houle) did was a hate crime, or the whole commission is BS.”
Coulter’s targeting of the University of Ottawa administration and Canada’s Human Rights Commissions came at the end of a half-hour speech that attacked political correctness in the United States and the mainstream media, which she said was uncritical of the Obama administration and unfairly biased against conservatives.
“It’s almost like there is one standard for Conservatives and one completely different one for Liberals,” Coulter told the crowd, which alternated from cheering to booing depending on the topic of discussion, which ranged from gay marriage, illegal immigration to Obama’s health-care bill.
“A word is either offensive or it’s not. In a world of political correctness, all words are banned unless they’re used against conservatives.”
Yeah, Ann Coulter, longtime defender of speech rights (h/t Cliff):
“They’re [Democrats] always accusing us of repressing their speech. I say let’s do it. Let’s repress them. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of the First Amendment.”
Sweet, delicious irony — who needs heroin to give you that rush, eh?
Am sure Coulter’s basking in her own pseudo-narcotic haze from all the attention she’s receiving (yeah, yeah — I know. Shaddap.)
Even before she opened her mouth for the first of three speeches this week on Canadian soil, American right-wing antagonist Ann Coulter had already scored a victory of sorts.
Coulter, who spoke to an audience of about 800 at the University of Western Ontario on Monday night, received a pre-emptive and private caution about the limits of free speech in Canada from the provost of the University of Ottawa, where she appears Tuesday.
The letter was immediately leaked to select conservative news organizations, with Coulter telling one that the university was “threatening to criminally prosecute me for my speech.”
For a strident provocateur who’s speaking on “Political Correctness, Media Bias and Freedom of Speech,” the University of Ottawa warning — however tepid — was pure oxygen for the fire.
Coulter seizes the obvious talking point (gleefully solicited by the groupies at NewsMax):
“The provost of the u. of Ottawa is threatening to criminally prosecute me for my speech there on Monday — before I’ve even set foot in the country!”
Look, it’s bad enough that three Canadian campuses (including one in my hometown) have afforded a vile bigot like Coulter a stage to perform her trademark powersuit-wingnut vaudeville routine. But are they also contractually obligated to serve her up a heaping bloody plate of steak tar tar on a goddamn silver platter?
Seriously, way to feed the fucking troll, kids.
Every Republican’s favourite soon-to-be retired moderate [sic] DINO gunslinger Evan Bayh refuses to quietly ride off into the sunset:
“There’s just too much brain-dead partisanship, tactical maneuvering for short-term political advantage rather than focusing on the greater good, and also just strident ideology,” the Democratic senator said on “Good Morning America” today.
“The extremes of both parties have to be willing to accept compromises from time to time to make some progress because some progress for the American people is better than nothing, and all too often recently, we’ve been getting nothing,” he said.
“The people who are just rigidly ideological, unwilling to accept practical solutions somewhere in the middle, vote them out, and then change the rules so that the sensible people who remain can actually get the job done,” Bayh said.
In response to Bayh’s demonstrative bleating, the Village is once again pointing fingers at Angry Intertoob Partisans (oh noes!) for his sudden departure from public service :
During the long, still incomplete march to pass a health reform bill, Democratic moderates – in particular Montana’s Baucus and Nebraska’s Nelson — routinely took incoming from liberal bloggers for dragging the bill rightward. The left was especially critical of Bayh’s take last month on Republican Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts. Bayh told ABC News that voters up there “just don’t believe the answers we are currently proposing are solving their problems.” He said Democrats would court catastrophe if they ignored the wakeup call. John Amato wrote at CrooksandLiars.com that Bayh was promoting Fox News talking points.
Amato addresses accusations of cruel malfeasance — and the matter of Bayh’s saddle-sore bottom:
Voting almost 48 % of the time against a newly elected Democratic president is beyond being a conservative democrat. it’s aiding and abetting the enemy of change. Bayh whined like a teenager whose parents cut off their Internet yesterday when he gave his presser and said he was so tired of the partisanship. He could have done his part and helped President Obama and the Senate put together a good health care bill, but he did not. Politics is a contact sport and he proved he couldn’t take it.
Ok. Fuck Bayh’s reflexive, Broder-ready hand-wringing about “practical solutions” and “brain-dead partisanship.”
My ass. Bayh instead proved to be gutless and weak in the wake of constant, deliberate GOP obstruction — indeed, he aided and abetted them nearly half the time in their — wait for it — brain-dead partisan efforts to sink the good ship Obama by any means necessary. Call me “ideologically rigid” (please), but, based on his record, it seems quite apparent that Bayh fell under the all-too-expansive category of “with Dems like these…”.
Good fucking riddance.
Update: When even the sensibly centrist, DFH-hatin’ wusses at TNR are calling you a wuss, then, brother, you are a wuss.
Pull up your big boy pants and STFU.
Seriously — producing daily crypto-fascistic dispatches carefully crafted to rile up the rubes while scoring mega ad rev? Understandable.
h/t Krugman (who, speaking of unforgivable actions, hath besmirched teh honour of Marcy Wheeler!!11one)
(Image: Tacoma Urbanist, Flickr)
Sarah Palin is back — and, seemingly, everywhere, as she launches a book tour (and, perhaps, a run at the White House in 2012).
In a Republican Party hoping to rebound in 2010 on the strength of a newly energized and ideologically aroused conservative grassroots, Palin’s influence is now unparalleled. Through her Facebook page, she was the one who pushed the rumor of “death panels” into the national healthcare debate, prompting the White House to issue a series of defensive responses. Unfazed by its absurdity, she repeated the charge in her recent speech in Wisconsin. In a special congressional election in New York’s 23rd congressional district, Palin’s endorsement of Doug Hoffman, an unknown far-right third-party candidate, helped force a popular moderate Republican politician, Dede Scozzafava, from the race. In the end, Palin’s ideological purge in upstate New York led to an improbable Democratic victory, the first in that GOP-heavy district in more than 100 years.
Though the ideological purge may have backfired, Palin’s participation in it magnified her influence in the party. In a telling sign of this, Congressman Mark Kirk, a pro-choice Republican from the posh suburban North Shore of Chicago, running for the Senate in Illinois, issued an anxious call for Palin’s support while she campaigned for Hoffman. According to a Kirk campaign memo, the candidate was terrified that Palin would be asked about his candidacy during her scheduled appearance on the Chicago-based Oprah Winfrey Show later this month — the kick-off for her book tour — and would not react enthusiastically. With $2.3 million in campaign cash and no viable primary challengers, Kirk was still desperate to avoid Palin-backed attacks from his right flank, however hypothetical they might be.
“She’s gangbusters!” a leading conservative radio host exclaimed to me. “There is nobody in the Republican Party who can raise money like her or top her name recognition.”
In contemporary politics, money + brand recognition = power –period. For a Republican party scrambling to maintain its ever-shrinking base, that makes Sarah Palin its most influential personality. And with the Democratic Party and the White House being seen, rightly or wrongly, as the party of Goldman Sachs, an avowed fauxpulist like Palin (she’s ‘one of us!’) driving the tone and tenor of conservative politics in an age of economic instability is not something to airily discount.
Right now, a time when only 20 percent of Americans call themselves Republicans and Democrats are shrinking as well, the independents are disgusted with both parties. In large part, it’s because neither one seems to be on their side.
The early warning shots came on Nov. 3, against an ineffective former Wall Street executive, ousted New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, and the billionaire mayor who barely bought himself a third term, Michael Bloomberg of New York. Both felt the back hand of an electorate that feels as if the system is rigged against them.
A year ago, most people were open-minded about the ground-shaking changes that came with the economic collapse. Polls found a slim majority in favor of Wall street bailouts to save the economy. They would listen, watch, wait.
By this fall, the majority were not only against the bailouts, but in favor of curbing pay on Wall Street, and tightening government regulation of same.
The continuous drip of perceived unfairness continues. One day it’s news that Goldman Sachs seems to have stepped ahead of the line of those waiting to receive H1N1 vaccines, prompting questions about why investment bankers were getting doses rather than children or pregnant women. This week, Gallup found one in five parents saying they were unable to get swine flu vaccine for their children.
Another day brings a report that the top banks are raising credit card interest rates – some as high as 29 percent, which would shame a Mob extortionist — even against people who have always paid on time. This is the thanks we get?
If Congress steers through the Great Recession without responding to the thousand points of pain among average Americans, people will see them for what they are in bottom-line terms: an insulated club. Proof, just recently, came from a Center for Responsive Politics report that 237 members of Congress — 44 percent — are millionaires, compared to just 1 percent for the country as whole.
It’s difficult to take the clumsy rhetorical and symbolic excesses of the so-called Tea Party protest movement seriously. The ham-fisted polyester populism employed by some of the more exuberant adherants seems designed to drive a stake through the barely-beating heart of parody. But the (partly manufactured) rage that is driving teabaggers to target moderate Republicans like Dede Scozzafava or burn Speaker Pelosi in effigy isn’t simply fodder for mockery by progressive bloggers and #p2 snarkmeisters; it’s a bellwhether for a burgeoning class divide that threatens to leave the Congressional millionaire elite behind — and give a boost to any political movement that figures out how to tap that rage, regardless of where that movement lies on the ideological spectrum.
The fall of social democracy in Europe may provide clues as to how this could play out if progressives fail to heed the mood of the electorate. In a piece for Red Pepper published in June of 2008, Magnus Marsdal tried to explain how and why the populist right has been ascendant in Europe over the past decade, using the Norwegian Freedom Party (FrP) as an example:
Talking to people who voted for the Norwegian populist right offers useful insights for anyone trying to fight radical right-wing populism elsewhere in Europe, particularly when it comes to what I call ‘identity politics’.
How does the FrP make the worker-voter identify with a party that is positioned so far to the right? Hostility towards foreigners and mobilisation of ‘white’ or ‘Norwegian’ identity plays a big part. So does the male- orientated FrP’s anti- feminism, which mobilises identity among male voters.
The right-wing populists also play with a particular type of consumer identity that sets the population as consumer individuals against the state, the tax system and the elite. These are the obvious side of the FrP’s identity politics.
There are two other elements that are less apparent but even more important to consider, both in Norway and in other countries where right-wing populism is on the rise.
First, the FrP’s rhetoric offers its own worker-identity. This is not the worker as opposed to bosses and owners. It is the worker contrasted to the lazy and dole abusers ‘below’ and ‘posh’, cultured people ‘above’.
It is quite normal for people to imagine society as if it were split into three different sections, with themselves in the middle. Moral values determine who is worthy, and who is unworthy, both ‘up there’, ‘down below’ and among ‘proper working people’. The unworthy ‘up there’ include all those who represent the state, the Labour Party, the government and everybody else who ‘lies and steals money from common workers’, as Hans Erling Willersrud, the car worker who is the main character in The FrP Code, puts it.
Among people ‘down there’, the worthy are those who, through no fault of their own, have become ill, disabled or been made redundant. Everyone else is unworthy, including those who don’t do their jobs properly. For many workers worthiness equals skills – you are worth something because you have skills and you do something. This way of measuring worth and dignity is an alternative to measuring by income or education. On this essentially moral scale, the ‘honest worker’ comes out on the same level as, or above, the rich person or the leading politician.
The unworthy also include the dishonest: those who turn with the wind, pay lip service to all, who are not ‘solid wood’, as Norwegians say. The worst are probably those who suck up to ‘posh’ people and intellectuals one moment, only to denounce them among workers the next. Not being perceived as ‘solid wood’ has created quite a few problems for politicians, especially for the Labour Party, which needs to present itself favourably to different groups at the same time.
From my interviews with working-class FrP voters, I made a simple model to show how those ‘up there’ and ‘down there’ stand in relation to the ‘proper working people’. The elite ‘up there’ are divided into three different types:
- the ‘know-it-alls’ linked to the education system and the state;
- the greedy, found at the top of the economy; and
- the politically powerful (often connected to the ‘know-it- alls’ and the greedy).
A second element to the FrP’s identity politics is that of aggrieved identity. ‘I’m just an ordinary worker, I have no fucking say,’ says Hans Erling Willersrud. He knows what it means to be at the boss’s beck and call and he’s had enough of the condescending attitude of Labour politicians who ‘can’t be bothered to listen to what [he’s] got to say’.He had some contact with the social security office when he was sick, and ‘has had it up to here with the system’. ‘They wouldn’t even believe he was in pain,’ says his mother Eli.
Hans Erling thinks politicians and bureaucrats are driving his country into the ground. He believes the social democratic elite has arranged things so the rich, the shrewd and the sleazy can take advantage of the system at the expense of the common man. He’s at the bottom of the pile at work. He’s at the bottom of the pile at the dole office. He’s at the bottom of the pile in the trade union (as an FrP voter) and in politics in general. He sees himself as a ‘political underdog’.
This doesn’t mean he is weak. On the contrary: being an underdog is not about lacking personal strengths, but finding that they don’t count for anything. More powerful people, regardless of their competence, are lording it over theunderdog, without recognising his skills or paying attention to what he actually knows, thinks or wants. It’s humiliating. He feels aggrieved.
And how does a political party like the FrP exploit the popular mood? It uses political language and images to touch a nerve with people who feel ignored, trampled on and overruled.
Carl Hagen’s most important ploy is to place himself in the role of the underdog. When he rages against the other parties wanting to keep a strong FrP out of government, he says, ‘Our voters will not be treated as second-rate.’ This simple sentence is perfect for connecting with people who on a daily basis, whether at work, at school or in the media, feel that they are treated like second-class citizens. Widening the focus, Hagen implies that what ordinary workers are in the workplace, the FrP is in the party political system. The voters can identify only too readily with what he is saying.
At the same time, Hagen – in the role of the affronted man who refuses to back down – offers the promise of vindication. For more than 30 years he has paid for the conceited sins of others, he tells them. But he turns the other cheek. Unlike the powerful and the arrogant, he is not driven by haughtiness or personal ambition. He is only fighting for what’s fair.
This underdog pose is brilliant because it can be applied to so many different voter groups. Above/below is a relationship that most people can recognise. Because he understands the underdog mentality, Hagen can connect with social-democratic workers as readily as with Christian fundamentalists who feel that their Christian cultural heritage is under threat.
Other subjects that mobilise the affronted population’s sense of themselves as the underdog include the FrP’s attacks on ‘politicians and bureaucrats’, its protest against schemes such as ‘the new opera being paid for by taxpayers’ and accusations that overpaid journalists are ‘persecuting the FrP’.
So where does Sarah Palin and her overwhelming ubiquity fit in all this? Like Barack Obama in 2008, Palin could prove to be a blank canvas on which citizens could project their desires en masse. Only instead of hope and change driving a national popular movement, hate and fear would be the engine of political change in 2012.
Of course, recent polls make the likelihood of a Palin run for the Presidency seem dim for the moment, as Joan Walsh notes.
But that doesn’t mean progressives should exhale:
The main reason not to fear a President Palin can be seen in recent polling among independents and moderates. In a the most current ABC News/Washington Post poll, Greg Sargent drilled down to find that: only 37 percent of independents and 30 percent of self-described moderates think she’s qualified for the presidency, and 58 percent of moderates view her unfavorably. Even more intriguing (but not surprising): Palin’s approval rating with men is higher than with women, 48 percent to 39 percent, and just a third of women believe she’d be qualified to be our first female president. (So much for Palin’s appeal to Hillary Clinton fans!)
So I think the Sarah Palin rehab tour is more about Sarah Palin Inc. than Sarah Palin 2012. She’ll rack up the speaking fees, raise some money for red-state, red-meat Republicans, further polarize the party and live the high life she thinks she deserves. Still, even as I dismiss Palin as a serious GOP threat, increasingly I believe that the faux-populism of the right is something to worry about. It may be fun to mock Sarah Palin, but Democrats shouldn’t laugh at many of the people who admire her – who see a folksy, new kind of self-made mom trying to fight the bad old Eastern elites.
Digby nails it:
I’m not saying that we should panic. These people are politically weak in their own right. But when I see the liberal gasbags on TV blithely dismissing this as if it”s impossible that Americans could ever fall for such lunacy, I feel a little frisson of alarm. I’ve read too many accounts of people who, 80 or so years ago, complacently made the same assumption. And the whole world found out that under the right circumstances even the most civilized nations can throw in with the crazies.
Bottom line: If the ugly momentum of right-wing identity politics carries into 2012, we could see the nastiest, most polarizing Presidential campaign since 1972, regardless of who gets the GOP nomination.
Ban-happy GOP purity gatekeeper Eric Erickson struggles with maintaining his already tenuous hold on reality as he gamely attempts to squeeze broken eggshells into lemonade (or something):
The race has now been called for Democrat Bill Owens.
This is a huge win for conservatives.
“Whaaaa. . . ?” you say.
There are two big victories at work in New York’s 23rd Congressional District.
First, the GOP now must recognize it will either lose without conservatives or will win with conservatives. In 2008, many conservatives sat home instead of voting for John McCain. Now, in NY-23, conservatives rallied and destroyed the Republican candidate the establishment chose.
I have said all along that the goal of activists must be to defeat Scozzafava. Doug Hoffman winning would just be gravy. A Hoffman win is not in the cards, but we did exactly what we set out to do — crush the establishment backed GOP candidate.
And make no mistake, despite the Beltway spin, we know for certain based on statements from the local Republican parties, that they chose Scozzafava based on advice from the Washington crowd.
So we have demonstrated to the GOP that it must not take conservatives for granted. The GOP spent $900,000.00 on a Republican who dropped out and endorsed the Democrat. Were we to combine Scozzafava and Hoffman’s votes, Hoffman would have won.
Yes, and if only Bill Owens had been kidnapped by bug-eyed extraterrestrials from Ganymede, Scozzafava and Hoffman’s votes could have combined to form a giant robot that would crush godless liberalism once and for all!
TBogg tickles the 800lb gorilla in a navy power suit/red tie combo:
And Erick and Sarah Palin and Fred Thompson and Rush Limbaugh and Tim Pawlenty and George Pataki and the New York Post all endorsed Doug Hoffman and now the Republican Party (that Erick wants purged of nonbelievers) should listen to him because the teabaggers favorite son just lost a seat that Republicans have held for 140 years.
Right. This makes sense.
Pssh. Wevs. Pay no attention to the greaser in waterskis sporting a Palin 2012 button: