How Dare Jack Layton Make Canadians Feel Hopeful Again!

by matttbastard

David J. Climenhaga, responding to National Post columnist Christie Blatchford’s now-infamous cranky, contrarian reaction to Canada’s outpouring of love and admiration for Socialist cur Taliban Jack Layton (HISSSSSSS!):

[T]he offending column is far from the worst piece Blatchford has written, and it makes a good point that many of us who loved and respected Layton can surely agree with, or at least concede contains some truth. Its other arguments would better be dismissed with a shrug than with obscenity and imprecation.

I bothered to read this piece only because I came across some of the angry reaction on social media sites. I turned to it with a sick feeling, because I expected from the lead-up to read something truly disgusting, like the odious efforts of Calgary Sun city editor Dave Naylor. I finished it and concluded we should all take a deep breath.

The chief knock against Blatchford’s effort seems to be that she called Layton a thoroughly political creature, and assailed his moving deathbed letter to Canadians with such uncharacteristically big words as “sophistry” and “vainglorious.”

Well, OK, the latter part of this opinion is graceless, even cheesy — exactly as we have come to expect of almost any Postmedia columnist. But really, so what? It does not seem appropriate to me to respond to this kind of drivel by calling its author a “heartless cow,” or worse, or wishing on her the same horrible fate that befell Layton.

Moreover, I think most of us can agree that Blatchford’s silly allegation of sophistry and vainglory is merely a typical response, and possibly a heartfelt one, by a Tory sympathizer who must have fretted deeply about the implications of Layton’s successful appeal to the better angels of our Canadian nature. Even our dour prime minister seems to have been improved by Layton’s sunny vision, which in some circles might be seen as evidence of miraculous powers!

While making some valid points regarding Tory anxiety over Layton’s significant posthumous power, Climenhaga misses the mark: it isn’t Blatch’s petty attack on Layton that most rankles, at least to me. Rather, it’s her arrogant, contemptuous attempt to police the natural reactions of ordinary Canadians to the passing of someone they loved and respected. As far as Blatch is concerned, the massive, spontaneous public display of emotion and affection from coast to coast (including QC — thanks Jack!) is unseemly and worthy of ridicule, another pop-cult spectacle of collective (HISSSSS!) hysteria a la Princess Di.

Now, people tend to get rather prickly when told they are grieving in an inappropriate fashion — hence the vast, vocal outcry. However, I highly doubt anyone at PostMedia is crying. One could argue that all the attention afforded to Blatch, overwhelmingly negative though it may be,  = mission accomplished.

Trolling is, after all, an art.

Regardless, I’m sure le bon Jack could not care less if his final words caused Canada’s fav crotchety wingnut Agony Aunt to throw a public shit-fit. As Climenhaga rightly notes, in this Layton too could claim the mission accomplished mantle with as much, if not more, legitimacy as she (and if the stale mother-son YYZ vaudeville act of Babs and Johnny Kay doesn’t provoke a hearty chortle of righteous satisfaction from beyond this mortal coil, well, I guess I just don’t know Jack).

Don’t get me wrong — yours truly frequently disagreed with Jack Layton over the years. A lot. But, like a vast multitude of my fellow Canuckistanians (including apostate NDP icon Judy Rebick, another longtime Layton foe on the left), I ultimately found myself overcome with a sense that we had lost a statesman, truly a Great Canadian (caps and all).

Ottawa must have been reading the same tea leaves, hence the state funeral offer.

Still, the next time a Champagne Socialist from Danforth dares to die an insanely popular, highly revered public figure, everyone first make sure to check in with Christie Blatchford and co. for instructions on proper grieving etiquette.

Oh, and none of that peace and love hippie-dippy sidewalk chalk bullshit — politics is for cynics and sociopaths goddammit.

Image: Jackman Chiu, Flickr

Choosy Moms Choose Teleprompter

by matttbastard

Much like wealth redistribution, she was for it before she was against it.

(Read Katrina vanden Heuvel on ‘Palinland’, and then try your goddamndest to not give Palin’s latest scorchingly stupid [yet unfortunately all-too-effective] PR offensive any more oxygen, lest it consume the entire Beltway and blogosphere. And yes, I realize I’m part of the problem, not the solution.)

h/t Alan Colmes

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F*ck Me with a Freshly Sharpened Pitchfork.

by matttbastard

Update 03/23: Make sure to check out Sarah’s post on Spitzer, populism, and The Experts.

On today’s episode of Fareed Zakaria GPS, an ‘expert panel’ was convened to discuss ‘populist’ outrage in the wake of AIG and other recent scandals related to the global economic crisis. Via email, I bet Sarah a dinner at IHOP (because we be keepin’ it real like that in this economy) that the ‘expert panel’ would be tilted towards the Washington media elite–y’know, Broder,  Friedman, maybe some latte-sipping ‘even the’ liberal from TNR.  Sarah very astutely declined to take me up on that bet.

Good thing, too–I knew it was going to be bad, but this so-called ‘expert panel’ went beyond even the previously charted borders of EPIC ESTABLISHMENT FAIL .

I mean, was that ‘expert panel’ on ‘populist rage’ a joke?  Let’s see: a glibertarian blogger, a former Goldman Sachs greed peddler, and a tainted ex-Merril Lynch exec.

Seriously?

How about next time try featuring some actual, y’know, populists–labour reps, or writers like Barbara Ehrenreich or Bill Fletcher, Jr–people who aren’t stuck in the bubble of establishment Washington, who don’t purse their lips at such vulgar concepts as ‘populism’,  ‘nationalization’ or even (gasp!) ‘socialism.’   Or, as Sarah suggested, someone like our homie Erik Loomis, a Gilded Age historian whose focus is labor history and has studied in depth populist movements in the US. In other words, REAL experts on the matter of ‘populist rage’, not smug apologists for the very system that has PROVOKED the white-hot ire of the general public.

At the end of the segment, Zakaria guilelessly requested that viewers write in if they felt the panel didn’t contain enough populist outrage “and we’ll see what we can do to correct that”. Dude, there was NO populist outrage–period.  Jesus fucking wept — talk about a glib cocktail party sneer from the woefully-out-of-touch establishment.

Pitchforks. Pikes. Tumbrils.

Take action: Contact Fareed Zakaria GPS and (politely but firmly) let them know that you want to see REAL experts on populism represented in any purportedly ‘expert’ panel.

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Colin Powell Calls Out Sarah Palin and the GOP Over “Small Town Values”

by matttbastard

I’m sure by now you’re all overwhelmed with nostalgia for the 2008 presidential campaign (you betcha!) I mean, it’s been, what, just over a month since the election, right?  So, to help satisfy your endless electioneering jones, check out this clip of Colin Powell, in an interview with Fareed Zakaria that will air on CNN this Sunday, goin’ all South Bronx on Gov. Palin and the GOPizzle:

Partial transcript:

Gov. Palin, to some extent, pushed the party more to the right, and I think she had something of a polarizing effect when she talked about how small town values are good. Well, most of us don’t live in small towns. And I was raised in the South Bronx, and there’s nothing wrong with my value system from the South Bronx.

And when they came to Virginia and said the southern part of Virginia is good and the northern part of Virginia is bad. The only problem with that is there are more votes in the northern part of Virginia than there are in the southern part of Virginia, so that doesn’t work.

Apparently small town value systems apparently don’t take into account demographics and simple mathematics. (Hint: there are a lot of eligible voters–many of them *eek* not white–in the Bronx.  And in Arlington. To say nothing of Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Cleveland…)

Pshh.  Wevs.

Who needs complicated statistics and a viable long-term political strategy when you have fresh moose-burgers and a collective annual oil stipend (which, btw, is so not socialism) to cling to, along with guns, religion and marginalizing resentment?

h/t Think Progress

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Re: Online Publication of BNP Membership List (OH NOES!)

by matttbastard

anti-fascist_sign

What Voltaire’s Priest said:

Do you people not get it? This isn’t some bastardised version of Pastor Niemoller’s famous speech, which as I recall did not in fact begin “first they came for the fascists”! The people whose rights you are so concerned to protect are the political inheritors of a tradition which runs from Kristallnacht, through the Holocaust, via the NF marches of the 1970s and random acts of violence against non-white people in the UK, through Nick Griffin’s anti-semitic rant “Who Are the Mind Benders”, to today’s “respectable nationalism” and the sick-making “Racism Cuts Both Ways” campaign. They are the ultimate enemy of socialists, liberals and democrats everywhere, and if you think they would have the slightest concern for your rights were the situation to be reversed then you are utterly deluded.

I would not endorse or encourage acts of physical violence against anyone on the BNP members’ list. But frankly if the publication of this list results in these sickos being driven out of politics completely then that would leave me unequivocally delighted. They are a poisonous presence on deprived estates across the nation, and they are a malignant parasite upon politics in the working class. I have none of the middle class, beltway liberal concerns about their destruction that have been written over the past few days, and neither should anyone else.

Yeah, I’ll sign off on that.

Update: The list (h/t Dawg).

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Sarah Palin: Marxism For Me, But Not For Thee

by matttbastard

Hendrik Hertzberg in this week’s New Yorker:

For her part, Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama “Barack the Wealth Spreader,” seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (“collectively,” no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.

Silly coastal elite–who cares about Palin, Alaska, and her hypocritical embrace of wealth redistribution sharing and collective ownership? When pro-Americans use the term ‘socialist’ in reference to Barack HOOSAYN Obama, what they really mean is ‘uppity Negro’. As noted recently by The Artist Formerly Known as dnA, that particular dog whistle is a longstanding trope among the backlash set. Shit, I’m sure even Joe the Plumber knows this (“a tap dance…almost as good as Sammy Davis, Jr.” — how cute.)

Related: For more on Palin, Alaska, and IOKIYAR socialism, check out the aforementioned profile of Palin by Philip Gourevitch, featuring Palin’s quote lauding the virtues of wealth redistribution sharing.

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Joe Sixpack in Vegas

by matttbastard

As Pod-Parker (h/t Betty Cracker) said recently regarding the McCain-Palin Campaign’s pro-American outreach effort:

“Palling around with terrorists,” as Sarah Palin said of Obama, gets to an underlying xenophobic, anti-Muslim sentiment. Using surrogates who strategically use Obama’s middle name, Hussein, feeds the same dark heart.

This tactic, denied but undeniable, has been effective with target audiences, some of whom can be viewed on YouTube entering a Palin rally in Pennsylvania. One cherubic older fellow totes a stuffed Curious George monkey wearing an Obama sticker as a hat…

To McCain’s credit, he has tried to correct his audience—when, for example, a woman said she couldn’t trust Obama because he’s an Arab. Gosh, wonder where she ever got that idea? But the McCain-Palin bad cop-good cop routine is what it is. The hot babe lathers the crowd; the noble soldier hoses them down. This isn’t a campaign; it’s a sideshow.

Related: More from the Henderson, NV rally by Matt Toplikar of the Las Vegas Sun (h/t David Neiwert)

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Joe Sixpack in Denver

by matttbastard

Progress Now Action:

Take special note of the children acting like monkeys and calling Obama the “monkey president”. The cursing man with the baby was also a special treat:

Family is chanting NoBama over and over.
Man #1: he ain’t no real American.

Another man is shown punching a cardboard Obama in the head.

Man #2: eight years of terrorists!
Man #3: (sarcastically) Hussein…that’s cool!
Woman to Obama supporter: Are you sick? Are you a socialist?
Woman #2: He’s a fraud…he’s Osama!
Man #3: He’s a Muslim Communist!
(the videographer asks this man if he really believes that) The response:
Man #3: Yeah, absolutely. His wife made him say he is a Christian so he could get elected.
Man #4: Socialist…communist! He’s a communist!
Man #5: You need to read the Communist Manifesto ’cause that’s what you’re all about.
Man #6: Lookit — the important thing is, God may not be on my side, but Satan is on your side.
Man #7: I don’t want to be a communist, I don’t want to be a socialist. I want to be an American.
Woman #3 holding a McCain/Palin sign: Communist! Communist!
Man # 8: He’s a stupid bum.
Man #9, holding a baby: He’s bullshit and a piece of crap he is.

Pro-Americans represent!

h/t Pam Spaulding

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“Real” and “Unreal” Americans

by matttbastard

Well, looks like we’ve finally established where one of those anti-American domestic strongholds that Palin mentioned the other day are located: the Obamabot enclaves of Northern Virginia!

Think Progress:

On MSNBC this morning, McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer asserted that “real Virginia” does not include Northern Virginia:

I certainly agree that Northern Virginia has gone more Democratic. … But the rest of the state — real Virginia if you will — I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message.

MSNBC host Kevin Corke gave Pfotenhauer a chance to revise her answer, telling her: “Nancy, I’m going to give you a chance to climb back off that ledge — Did you say ‘real Virginia’?”

But Pfotenhauer didn’t budge, and instead dug a deeper hole.

Real Virginia, I take to be, this part of the state that’s more Southern in nature, if you will.

Thorpe ended the segment noting that Pfotenhauer was appearing via satellite from Northern Virginia. “Nancy Pfotenhauer, senior policy adviser for the McCain campaign, joining us from Arlington, not really Virginia.” “Alright, I’m just gonna let ya– you’ll wear that one,” Corke responded.

Ok. Real Virginians don’t support Obama. Gotcha.

But then there’s this, straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak):

My opponent’s answer showed that economic recovery isn’t even his top priority. His goal, as Senator Obama put it, is to “spread the wealth around.”

You see, he believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that help us all make more of it. Joe, in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism.

Socialism–totally un-American, natch. So is all this simply boilerplate campaign rhetoric, or is there a more disturbing subtext at play? Adam Serwer looks at the historical context of the ‘socialist’ smear as it relates to POC (h/t Jill):

Conservatives, now and in the past, have turned to “socialism” and “communism” as shorthand to criticize black activists and political figures since the civil-rights era. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X as written by Alex Haley, Malcolm recalls being confronting by a government agent tailing him in Africa, not long after his pilgrimage to Mecca. The agent was convinced that Malcolm was a communist. Malcolm spent years under surveillance because of such bizarre suspicions. Likewise, J. Edgar Hoover spent years attempting to link Martin Luther King Jr. to the communist cause. King, for his part, welcomed everyone who embraced the cause of black civil rights, regardless of their ideological ties. This included communists and socialists, but the idea that a devout man of God like King saw black rights as a mere step in a worldwide communist revolution was absurd. Malcolm was a conservative. King was a liberal. To their enemies, they were simply communists.

The feeling that black-rights activists were part of a front for communism and socialism was widespread. Jerry Falwell famously criticized “the sincerity and intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations.” Falwell charged, “It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed.” For the agents of intolerance, things haven’t changed much. On October 9, a McCain supporter told the candidate that he was angry about “socialists taking over our country.” McCain told him he was right to be angry.

The right wing continues to link the fight for black equality with socialism and communism. At the website of conservatism’s flagship publication, National Review, conservatives like Andy McCarthy argue whether Obama is “more Maoist than Stalinist,” and National Review writer Lisa Schiffren explicitly argued this summer that Obama must have communist links based on his interracial background. Schiffren mused, “for a white woman to marry a black man in 1958, or 60, there was almost inevitably a connection to explicit Communist politics.”

[...]

John McCain is no George Wallace, and a direct comparison may not be what [John] Lewis intended. Rather, Lewis was expressing concern that the McCain campaign’s rhetoric could lead some of their supporters to conclude that violence is the only rational response to an Obama victory.

Also keep in mind some of the highlighted right-wing sentiments from this post as Billmon repeals Godwin’s Law, once and for all (h/t pogge @ BnR):

Powerful elements of the Republican Party and the conservative “movement” aren’t just preparing themselves to go into opposition, they’re preparing themselves to dispute the legitimacy of an Obama presidency — in ways that could, if taken to extreme, lead to another Oklahoma City.

[...]

I’ve been following politics for going on 35 years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Republican candidate publicly refer to his Democratic opponent as a “socialist” — not even while hiding behind a cardboard cutout like “Joe the Plumber”. This from a man who told the entire nation on Wednesday night that believes an obscure nonprofit group is “perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

Likewise, I don’t think there’s ever been an American vice presidential candidate who explicitly referred to entire regions of the United States as “pro-American” — with the clear implication that other regions are something less than “pro-American.” Not since the Civil War, anyway.

We’ve crossed some more lines, in other words — in a long series of lines that have made it increasingly difficult to distinguish between the ultraconservative wing of the Republican Party and an explicitly fascist political movement. And John McCain and his political handlers appear to have no moral compunctions whatsoever about whipping this movement into a frenzy and providing it with scapegoats for all that hatred, simply to try to shave a few points off Barack Obama’s lead in the polls.

To call this “country first” only works if you assume your opponents (and scapegoats) are not really part of that same country. And we all know where that leads.

As Colbert King put it in Saturday’s WaPo, “[t]ell a rabid audience that Barack Obama is “palling around with terrorists” (as Palin has done), imply that Obama is friendly with people out to destroy America (as she also has done) and what do you expect?”

DJ rewind:

Powerful elements of the Republican Party and the conservative “movement” aren’t just preparing themselves to go into opposition, they’re preparing themselves to dispute the legitimacy of an Obama presidency — in ways that could, if taken to extreme, lead to another Oklahoma City.

Rhetoric–yes, mere words, Senator McCain–can have consequences.

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Chris Floyd: “[T]he money to maintain, secure and improve the lives of their families and communities was always there”

by matttbastard

Chris Floyd on the destructive legacy of doctrinaire market fundamentalism and neoliberal dogma as we enter the post-capitalist era:

Beginning with Margaret Thatcher’s election in 1979, government after government — and party after party — fell to the onslaught of an extremist faith: the narrow, blinkered fundamentalism of the “Chicago School.” Epitomized by its patron saint, Milton Friedman, the rigid doctrine held that an unregulated market would always “correct” itself, because its workings are based on entirely rational and quantifiable principles. (See John Cassidy in the NY Review of Books for more.) This was of course an absurdly reductive and savagely ignorant view of history, money and human nature; but because it flattered the rich and powerful, offering an “intellectual” justification for rapacious greed and ever-widening economic and social inequality, it was adopted as holy writ by the elite and promulgated as public policy.

This radical cult — a kind of Bolshevism from above — took its strongest hold in the United States and Britain, and was then imposed on many weaker nations through the IMF-led “Washington Consensus” (more aptly named by Naomi Klein as the “Shock Doctrine”), with devastating and deadly results. (As in Yeltsin’s Russia, for example, where life expectancy dropped precipitously and millions of people died premature deaths from poverty, illness, and despair.)

According to the cult, not only were markets to be freed from the constraints placed on them after the world-shattering effects of the Great Depression, but all public spending was to be slashed ruthlessly to the bone. (Although exceptions were always made for the Pentagon war machine.) After all, every dollar spent by a public entity on public services and amenities was a dollar taken away from the private wheeler-dealers who could more usefully employ it in increasing the wealth of the elite — who would then allow some of their vast profits to “trickle down” to the lower orders.

This was the cult that captured the governments of the United States and Britain (among others), as well as the Republican and Democratic parties, and the Conservative and Labour parties as well. And for almost thirty years, its ruthless doctrines have been put into practice. Regulation and oversight of financial markets were systematically stripped away or rendered toothless. Essential public services were sold off, for chump change, to corporate interests. Public spending on anything other than making war, threatening war and profiting from war was pared back or eliminated. Such public spending that did remain was forever under threat and derided, like the remnants of some pagan faith surviving in isolated backwaters.

Year after year, the ordinary citizens were told by their governments: we have no money to spend on your needs, on your communities, on your infrastructure, on your health, on your children, on your environment, on your quality of life. We can’t do those kinds of things any more.

Of course, when talking amongst themselves, or with the believers in the think tanks, boardrooms — and editorial offices — the cultists would speak more plainly: we don’t do those things anymore because we shouldn’t do them, we don’t want to do them, they are wrong, they are evil, they are outside the faith. But for the hoi polloi, the line was usually something like this: Budgets are tight, we must balance them (for a “balanced budget” is a core doctrine of the cult), we just can’t afford all these luxuries.

But now, as the emptiness and falsity of the Chicago cargo cult stands nakedly revealed, even to some of its most faithful and fanatical adherents, we can see that this 30-year mantra by our governments has been a deliberate and outright lie. The money was there — billions and billions and billions of dollars of it, trillions of dollars of it. We can see it before our very eyes today — being whisked away from our public treasuries and showered upon the banks and the brokerages.

As they say, read the whole damn thing

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