Tuesday Morning Open Thread: the Right Enemies

makers vs monoply takers luckovich

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)

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So, President Obama and the Clintons have now endorsed Bill de Blasio for New York’s next mayor. I’ll admit I was wary of what the media called de Blasio’s “progressive charm”, because every anecdote gave me a strong whiff of John Vliet Lindsay, whose mayoralty was a key factor in my fleeing the city before I was old enough to vote. But (as with DougJ) the NYTimes‘ slimy “De Blasio, filthy hippie or plutocrat-threatening commie?” did a lot to convince me that at least the man has the right enemies. And not just me; here’s Alex Pareene in Salon:

[T]he Times seems determined to make working for a Catholic social justice organization sound much more radical than it really was, or is. So unnamed “critics” make a few appearances, to suggest that de Blasio and his friends were Marxists — “its harshest critics accused it of hewing to a Marxist agenda” — or naive hippies: “Critics, however, said they were gullible and had romanticized their mission — more interested in undermining the efforts of the Reagan administration than helping the poor.” Which critics? Who knows! How accurate were these criticisms? You decide!…

The reason articles about politicians as young people are fascinating and necessary is because sometimes it is worth asking what led a person to go into politics in the first place. That can often tell you a lot about what sort of elected official they will be. Some people run for office because they’re really, really good at running businesses. Some because they’re really, really good at raising money. Some care a lot about one particular issue, and some people go into politics because politics is the family business. And some go into politics because they were activists who decided to spend their lives and careers fighting for justice.

For some reason, the “my dad was a senator” ones and the “I was really good at making money” ones are treated a bit more respectfully in the press than the activists, though the activists are the ones who already demonstrated a commitment to helping others. An activist background doesn’t mean a politician is gong to turn out to be a great elected official (see: Christine Quinn) but it’s generally a sign of good intentions. This New York voter likes Bill de Blasio a bit more today.

That being said… for the 99% of us who are not New Yorkers, what’s on the agenda for the day?

53 replies
  1. 1
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Critics, however, said they were gullible and had romanticized their mission — more interested in undermining the efforts of the Reagan administration than helping the poor.”

    Too bad there weren’t more people like him. Maybe they could have stopped the 2nd Gilded Age before it got started. Also too, undermining the Reagan Admin IS helping the poor.

  2. 2
    PurpleGirl says:

    I would like to know who “the critics” are — their identity would help me put their comments into context and better evaluate what they are saying and why they are saying it.

  3. 3
    The Red Pen says:

    Good article. I just came from Freeperville where they were finally lambasting GWB. No, it wasn’t for his “stumbles” (stumbles?!), but because he said critics should lay off the President for taking golf breaks.

    A favorite wingnut meme is that Obama plays golf while the country falls into ruin. Now Bush has told them to lighten up and NOW he’s history’s greatest monster.

  4. 4
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @PurpleGirl: That is why they remain anonymous.

  5. 5
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Meanwhile, for the Dog Bites Man category:

    Police: Missouri House staffer left loaded gun in Capitol restroom

    Republican or Democrat? Take a guess.

  6. 6
    Jack the Second says:

    97.4%, assuming you consider this a domestic blog. (And 92.6% if you assume the metropolitan population cares about the mayor of NYC.)

  7. 7
    Botsplainer says:

    I just watched my puppy carry a toy over to the toy basket, drop it in, and take another.

    Interesting behavior.

  8. 8

    The up side of the right calling Obama a marxist at every turn is that when an actual marxist runs maybe we will have a shot at electing him/her because nobody will believe it..

  9. 9
    MattF says:

    I guess the Times just loved Bloomberg. And when was the last time NYC had a librul mayor? Dinkins? Not really. Beame? Ha ha.

  10. 10
    sherparick says:

    Hey, with a population of 8.25 million people, its more like 97% of us are not New Yorkers. And I can hate the Yankees and the Mets, and still hopes DiBlasio wins.

    Obviously in the New York Times world of ivy league journalists, leftie political activism was obviously such an uncool thing. It is a good thing to remember that in The Village, it is always prep school/high school.

  11. 11
    amk says:

    Gotta love da librul media.

  12. 12
    sparrow says:

    @sherparick: Having come from as rural and backwards of a place as Oklahoma, I have had quite an interesting time transitioning from a young right-wing authoritarian who parroted whatever talking points were de rigour, to a thinking, feeling, and active liberal (or so I like to believe). That transition was largely helped by working like a dog from the age of 15, and often with illegal immigrants. Also college, where I finally met real gay, black, etc. people and found that I liked them a whole lot. So what’s my point ? When I first got the chance to visit Yale some time ago for work, I was really shocked by the attitudes in this so-called leftist enclave. The entitlement, classicism, and total lack of respect for working people or “those people in the flyover states” made me realize they were just as naive and unexamined, for the most part, as my republican parents back home. They just got a different rule set at birth.

  13. 13
    sherparick says:

    @The Red Pen: As irritating as it is, it just appears that taking cheap shots at President’s leisure time activities is just something that folks in political opposition do. It is a cheap and easy shot. We lefties made constant fun of Dubya’s long stays at the ranch in Texas, his Dad’s trips to the family fiefdom in Maine, and Reagan’s trips to his California Ranch. The right was constantly taking shot at Clinton’s vacations and his golf. My Mom and Dad (who was an avid golfer himself), made constant snide references to Eisenhower’s constant golfing (800 golf rounds in 8 years, which included two long convalescents after his heart attack in 1955 and his stroke in 1957). There is of course anundercurrent of “lazy (insert nasty word)” in the Right’s criticism about the President, but otherwise it par for the course, to excuse the pun.

  14. 14
    different-church-lady says:

    Didn’t get a chance to put this thought on the great Robert Reich post from yesterday, so…

    Losers of rigged games can become very angry, as history has revealed repeatedly.

    The thought occurs to me that the history Reich refers to involves huge collapses and then explosions of change. This time out it all got caught just before it reduced itself to rubble, but left everything unstable. And the assholes who move the financial levers are getting around to taking advantage of that.

    So people are muddling along, anxious, and stretching to make ends meet, but not quite hot enough for pitchforks and torches. The money guys seem to have figured out that the secret is to not actually boil the frog to death, but instead just keep the water very very hot. Because you can’t extract profit from a dead frog.

    That would be the challenge policy makers and progressives face right now: how to get change before the explosion point, because there’s enough pressure to make people very hot, but not enough to blow the lid.

  15. 15
    sparrow says:

    @different-church-lady: There’s also the fact that in the US, for the most part, we’re not very cynical. That’s because for a remarkably long time, things have worked out ok for us. Contrast to Greece, where they lost 10% of the population in WWII thanks to the German brutality, then a civil war and military dictatorship (imposed by the US), not to mention a long memory of being under the Turks for 500 years. Most of us don’t have aging relatives who can tell us what it was like to watch family members starve. And, our history education being the right-wing white-wash that it is, we don’t even have the collective stories from recent Western past to really guide us (or even our own past — how many people in the US know what the term “Robber Baron” refers to?)

  16. 16
    WereBear says:

    I’m hoping that this whole thing is as freakishly ridiculous to today’s voters as it was to me as a teen; when it was even slightly pertinent,

    Now, with the Berlin Wall down and China turning Wal-Mart, it’s amazingly stupid.

    And a big THANK YOU to all those BJ’ers who have helped out during my Help the Way of Cats Fund Drive — still ongoing.

    I’m especially pleased with the way these events come with comments about how my advice has helped their family. I am responsible for many Third Cat acquisitions! He he he.

    It’s not an Evil Plan. It’s a Good Plan!

  17. 17
    Suffern ACE says:

    @PurpleGirl: well you can’t exactly expect those critics to be on the record. What with the overwhelming power of the Marxists these days, it would surely be disastrous for their families.

  18. 18
    The Red Pen says:

    @sherparick: Absolutely. What I thought was interesting (and related to the post), was the degree to which Freepers are willing to vilify their own over such trivialities.

    If Clinton had publicly defended Bush’s famous “working vacation” I doubt that liberals would have declared him a “Bushbot” or a “DINO” or whatever other pejorative came to mind. I thought it was pretty nice of Dubya to say, “Hey, lighten up,” but conservatives are like bratty children.

  19. 19
    SFAW says:

    Re: Marxists/socialists and their evil agenda:

    I would love to have wingnuts explain what is so world-destroyingly terrible about socialism, i.e. the kind into which Obama will take us. That brand of socialism doesn’t appear to be of the kind that preaches the total destruction of Capitalism – not that the TeaBaggers have been that f-ing successful under it – so I’m a little mystified.

    I have semi-assumed it’s been a combination of fear, low/mis-information, and the unwillingness to think for themselves, but that’s just a guess on my part.

    And, for all you NSA dwerks reading this: I am not proposing a shift to socialism. I’m just trying to understand why using that term makes the wingnuts reach for their cyanide capsules.

  20. 20
    RSR says:

    far from the first time ‘the right enemies’ has been used in reference to de Blasio, and that’s a good thing

  21. 21
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @SFAW:

    I would love to have wingnuts explain what is so world-destroyingly terrible about socialism, i.e. the kind into which Obama will take us.

    Your first mistake is thinking that anything Obama has done, or will do, is in any way shape or form, “socialism”. Chavez was a socialist and Obama has done absolutely nothing even remotely like what Chavez did. “Socialist” is just a code word for “not bending over backwards to enrich the obscenely rich even more” or just “not knowing his place.”

  22. 22
    SFAW says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Your first mistake is thinking that anything Obama has done, or will do, is in any way shape or form, “socialism”.

    Not sure what I wrote that made you think that I think that.

    My focus was: What is so f-ing bad about “socialism,” that it makes the wingnuts want to take up arms against the Black Guy in the White House (and his minions)? Do they think that “socialized” medicine will turn them all into zombies? Do they think that having the marginal tax rate on the 1-percenters go from 35 percent to 40 percent will cause the world economy to collapse? Do they think the socialists will enslave all of them and their children?

    I realize that anything Obama does which doesn’t kowtow to the Kochs/Romneys/Scaifes/Friesses of the world will be considered socialism, no matter how non-socialistic his actions are. I’m not asking whether wingnuts will consider Obama a socialist. I’m asking what it is about the concept that makes them freak.

  23. 23
    Feudalism Now! says:

    Unfortunately, it is not hard to have the right enemies in this nation. The ‘right’ enemies are ever expanding and co-opting. DeBlasio has the benefit of ‘right’ actions in his past. I find that more compelling.

  24. 24
    Rafer Janders says:

    That being said… for the 99% of us who are not New Yorkers, what’s on the agenda for the day?

    We are ALL New Yorkers now….

  25. 25
    Rafer Janders says:

    You know, I really hate these posts where you put up an issue and then say “here’s an open thread.” You want an open thread, put up an open thread. You want to put up a post on Bill DeBlasio, put up a post on Bill DeBlasio and let the comments be about that. I hate wading through comments on a subject I’m interested in with half of them being on point and half about what people are having for dinner.

  26. 26
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @SFAW: What’s bad about socialism? It boils down to I got mine fuck you.

  27. 27
    WereBear says:

    @SFAW: I’m not asking whether wingnuts will consider Obama a socialist. I’m asking what it is about the concept that makes them freak.

    It’s a trigger word, like Anti-Christ!

    Amorphously scary, something liberals like, and not in the least realistic.

  28. 28
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    Huh. I can use the S word now. Who knew?

  29. 29
    SFAW says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    and half about what people are having for dinner.

    Well, what ARE you having for dinner?

  30. 30
    Ben Cisco says:

    @SFAW: Tribal genetic memory: s0shulist = communist = marxist = russkie != “Real ‘Murcan”.

    It’s as simple as that.

  31. 31
    RP says:

    @Rafer Janders: Agreed. Also, what does this mean?

    I’ll admit I was wary of what the media called de Blasio’s “progressive charm”, because every anecdote gave me a strong whiff of John Vliet Lindsay, whose mayoralty was a key factor in my fleeing the city before I was old enough to vote.

    It would help if you spun out your thoughts a little more. I have no idea what the reference to Lindsay is supposed to say about de Blasio or why you left the city.

  32. 32
    MattF says:

    @SFAW: I think wingers have certain triggers– socialism -> crazy, Obama -> crazy, Obamacare -> crazy, Hilary Clinton -> crazy, Benghazi -> crazy. There’s actually a subtle pattern there, if you look closely.

  33. 33
    SFAW says:

    @Ben Cisco:

    I expect that’s part of it, but I don’t think it’s the totality of their borderline-nutjob fear of it. But I’m still trying to figure out exactly WHAT about the concept is so scary. Anti-communism only gets you so far. Is it the fear that they’ll all become proles? Are they worried they’ll all be moved into camps? (No, I’m not making a FEMA-camp-related jest.) Do they think they won’t be allowed to worship non-FSM-approved deities?

    I have a few wingnut townmates (not sure I can call them friends), I should probably ask them. If I get any kind of intelligible (not intelligent) answer, I could probably get some grant money to do a larger study. Not that I know how to write a grant application.

  34. 34
    Chris says:

    For some reason, the “my dad was a senator” ones and the “I was really good at making money” ones are treated a bit more respectfully in the press than the activists, though the activists are the ones who already demonstrated a commitment to helping others

    Ah, but who says the presidency should have anything to do with helping others? LIBERAL BIAS!

  35. 35
    gelfling545 says:

    @SFAW: I had some pretty interesting experiences during the 2008 presidential campaign when candidate Obama was being called a socialist pretty much every day. The work i was doing at the time brought me into contact with a lot of younger voting age people & a number of them were curious because, while they had heard of socialism, they had no very clear idea what it actually entailed. After I explained some of the basic concepts their usual reaction was that it sounded like a pretty good idea.

  36. 36
    SFAW says:

    @gelfling545:

    After I explained some of the basic concepts their usual reaction was that it sounded like a pretty good idea

    And that’s why I don’t quite understand the irrational response from the TeaBaggers. (Not that I think the TeaBaggers or other wingnuts are rational.)

  37. 37
    Ben Cisco says:

    @SFAW: In order, yes, yes, and yes.

    These are DEEPLY paranoid people, and they have been fed the very lines you referenced for most, if not all, of my lifetime.

    They each imagine themselves Masters Of The Universe (or at the very least MOTUs in training), so being considered equal (ESPECIALLY to those they consider inherently inferior to themselves) is the stuff of nightmares. American Exceptionalism™ demands that “Real ‘Murcans” are superior to all others in every conceivable way; it also follows that the interests and pursuits of said “Real ‘Murcans” (including religious beliefs) are superior to all others in every conceivable way. If it is not white, male, Christianist, and above all else capitalist, it is of the devil and is to be scorned at all costs.

  38. 38
    handsmile says:

    [As one of the <1% who is a New Yorker here, I'm not sure if my comment is welcome, but…]

    According to local television reports, the Joe Lhota mayoral campaign has already begun quoting the NYT hit piece on de Blasio. This was the respectable Grey Lady's late entry into the anti-de Blasio crusade that the city's tabloids (Daily News, NY Post) have been waging since his primary election victory, i.e., now that flogging Wiener has become less fun.

    Determined efforts by the city's financial/real estate/corporate media interests to derail de Blasio/promote Lhota over the next six weeks will be relentless.

    (Disclosure: I am a cadre for de Blasio for Mayor.)
    (Another disclosure: Not spending much time hereabouts of late; in fact, I learned of this post only from an Eschaton link. So missed DougJ's "Sandinista" post yesterday and will read through it now.)
    (Final disclosure: I'm having an onion/thyme tart and peppered ham for dinner.)

  39. 39
    Chris says:

    @gelfling545:

    I had some pretty interesting experiences during the 2008 presidential campaign when candidate Obama was being called a socialist pretty much every day. The work i was doing at the time brought me into contact with a lot of younger voting age people & a number of them were curious because, while they had heard of socialism, they had no very clear idea what it actually entailed. After I explained some of the basic concepts their usual reaction was that it sounded like a pretty good idea.

    “Socialism” has no meaning for my generation other than “something teabaggers and 1%ers don’t like,” thanks largely to their own persistent misuse of the term. When it’s defined that way, it really doesn’t sound so bad.

  40. 40
    Fred says:

    @SFAW: Concept of socialism? The wingnuts have no idea what socialism is. To them it just means BAD. The things Teapartiers like best about the gubmint (Social Security, Medicare ferinstace) are the most socialistic things america has going for it. For those folks socialist is just another epithet to throw around. It’s particularly hard on ’em ’cause they can’t say the one they really mean: “The Sheriff is a Niiiiii….”

  41. 41
    Paul in KY says:

    @SFAW: You are conflating Communism with Socialism.

    Which is what the Right wants you to do. I’m sure you’re not doing it on purpose (as they do).

  42. 42
    Paul in KY says:

    @SFAW: You’re examples in this post that I am commenting on are not ‘socialism’ IMO.

    Just noticed the nasty-word-bot is not flagging Socialism! Socialism Socialism Socialism!!!

  43. 43
    Feudalism Now! says:

    Soshulism is a boogeyman, a shibboleth. Nazis are National Sozialists. Communists are just manly soshulists,like Putin. Soshulizm also starts with S, Scary starts with S; coincidence? I think not.

  44. 44
    Chris says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Just noticed the nasty-word-bot is not flagging Socialism! Socialism Socialism Socialism!!!

    That happened a couple years back, but it took me some time to notice. A bright day for Balloon Juice.

  45. 45
    SFAW says:

    @Paul in KY:
    I’m not conflating anything with anything. I’m trying to figure out if, among other things, the wingnuts are conflating Socialism with – among other things – Communism (Soviet-style), and that’s what makes them so a-skeered.

    Look, the question I’d ask wingnuts is: “What is it about what you call ‘socialism’ that makes it such a terrible thing, in your mind?”

    For the hard-core 27-percenters, their response will be meaningless, because you could substitute “health care,” “kitteh videos,” “New York City,” or “Khan” for “socialism,” and their response would be of a similar, visceral nature.

    But for the other 20-or-so percent, there might be a way to get them actually to think about it, and maybe draw different conclusions, with the right person explaining what reality is/isn’t vis-a-vis “socialism.” If Saint Ronnie came back, got on the tube, and said “Here’s what’s good and not-so-good about socialism,” the Freepers would declare him to be the Anti-Christ (and him not even black!), but some others might actually pause in their anti-American rhetoric.

    ETA: Yes, I realize the whole idea of possibly getting some non-27-percent minds to change is probably quixotic. But if so, does that mean I can restrict replies only to those of you what grajiated from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Nassau Community College? (Gratuitous Ted Cruz, a/k/a Dunning-Cruzer reference, for those not following at home.)

  46. 46
    Paul in KY says:

    @SFAW: Hell yes they are conflating Socialism with Stalinist Communism & when you use their terms, you are also conflating it also (albeit accidently).

    Their answer would list all the bad things about Stalinist Communism, but they would say they are talking about Socialism. Usually, they know they are doing this deliberately (I guess the stupid ones might not know).

  47. 47
    SFAW says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Hell yes they are conflating Socialism with Stalinist Communism & when you use their terms, you are also conflating it also (albeit accidently).

    Forgive my lack of tact, but: bullshit. Trying to figure out THEIR use of the term is not conflating it with anything, unless the meaning of “conflate” has changed in the last few minutes. And I would guess that they are not monolithic in their alleged conflation of the socialism and Stalinism.

    But if that works for you, so be it.

  48. 48
    glocksman says:

    They also believe that Socialism takes from the ‘worthy’ (read: 1% and aspiring 1%’ers) and gives to the ‘unworthy’, the ‘takers’, etc.
    Never mind that they themselves are among the largest beneficiaries of Medicare, SS, etc.

    I could sit here and argue that it goes all the way back to the pre-Revolutionary era, but it’s more of a IGMFY outlook coupled with a large dose of cognitive dissonance than anything else in my opinion.

    It’s the kind of thinking that lets Prosperity Bullshi..er Gospel adherents believe they’re genuine Christians, despite Christ’s documented contempt for such people.

  49. 49
    The Red Pen says:

    @Ben Cisco: Someone — Schelmeizel(? sp?) — noted that wingnuts act basically like clinical narcissists. This really needs to be repeated until it is commonly accepted because it’s both tremendously insightful and almost perfectly predictive of future behavior.

    (Note: Yes, NPD is being taken out of the DSM V, but it’s being replaced with a more-complicated taxonomy of disorders. NPD isn’t really “going away” as a thing.)

  50. 50
    Yatsuno says:

    I don’t know what exactly I’m doing for dinner, except it will have bacon.

    And go Bill! I love his wife!

  51. 51
    stinger says:

    I know people who use “Socialism” and “Communism” interchangeably. With no understanding of a distinction between Stalinist and any other form of Communism, either. I believe they truly don’t know what either system is. They’re just two “dirty words” with which to insult someone.

  52. 52
    Paul in KY says:

    @SFAW: Taken from your post at #19: ‘That brand of socialism doesn’t appear to be of the kind that preaches the total destruction of Capitalism – ‘

    IMO, no brand of Socialism preaches ‘total destruction of Capitalism’. That is a right wing trope (which you seemed to parrot).

    Various forms of classic Marxist-Leninist Communism (especially the form preached by Trotsky) called for the complete ending of Capitalism, but Communism is not & never has been Socialism. Socialism is closer to Capitalism than it is Marxist-Leninist Communism (IMO).

    That is the reason I said you were ‘accidently’ or unwillingly conflating the two.

  53. 53
    SFAW says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Give it a rest, OK? You’re clearly choosing to see it how you want to, to make your point. OK, fine, but your interpretation of what I wrote is still not what I was saying. Doesn’t make you a bad person, of course. Nor a parrot.

    Look at it this way: if I had written “that brand of Buddhism doesn’t preach assassination of those who don’t worship Kali,” would you then tell me not to conflate Buddhism with Thuggee? Or would you realize that I was being quasi-ironic?

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