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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 25, 2019 by Tony Wikrent Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy Give No Heed to the Walking Dead [The Scholar’s Stage, via Naked Capitalism 8-18-19] The People’s Republic of China is wealthier than any rival America has faced. Its leaders are convinced […]
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Late Night: The Dog Barks at Midnight

What if there are people out there in the old U.S. of A. who think they are surrounded by forces beyond their control and they are waiting, waiting for a sign, a code, a word…

They have the sense that something is not right about the election but they think they are outnumbered.  They’re wrong.  They aren’t outnumbered.  They are unconnected.

Hey, I didn’t want it to turn out this way.  I think it would be tres chic to have an African-American president.  I just think that the nominee who got this far by manipulating primary results, villifying women and cutting off the working class has Martin Luther King rolling in his grave.  We don’t know who is giving him the hundreds of millions of dollars to run his campaign and we sure as hell don’t trust him.  If we succeed in our endeavor of truncating his meteoric political career, we will not be famous.  We’ll be notorious.  It may be years before anyone recognizes the honor in what we do.  We are only trying to make sure that we all go forward together.  That we leave no one behind.  That lives, fortunes and sacred honor depend upon one another.

So I urge you to Join The Resistance.  Let’s drown out the Haka.  It is big and noisy and intimidating.  But we have heart and a vision.

(Oh, to be Laslo or Rick and have Ilsa look at me like that…)

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Partisans, Demons and Right-Wing Tropes

The Confluence has been accused of heresy by other bloggers in recent weeks.  According to these purity trolls we “took up right wing talking points” which not only discredited our writers but also our commenters, our families, friends, former babysitters and the entire PUMA coalition.  Our accusers felt free to question our liberal credentials and suggest that we were really racist Republicans.

I’m not going to name names or provide links because these accusations are bullshit.  But these false allegations demonstrate a major problem in Left Blogistan.  That problem is the partisanship trap.  Left/right ideology has been subsumed into the competition between Democrats and Republicans and both sides have demonized the other to the point that rational discussion has become virtually impossible.

Once upon a time both parties had liberal and conservative wings.  Then, beginning in the sixties and continuing through the Reagan years, the GOP became identified with conservative ideology and the Democrats became the party of liberals and progressives.  Today, “liberal Republican” is a virtual oxymoron and although there are conservative Democrats they are a minority within the party.

As documented by John Dean in “Conservatives Without Conscience,” the demonization of liberals began in the years follwing World War II and became ascendant during the “Reagan Revolution” of the eighties.  Republican conservatism suffered a setback with the election of Bill Clinton but came back strong in 1994 with Newt Gingrich and the “Contract on America.”  Hubris and the ill-advised impeachment effort ended Gingrich’s reign, but the conservative movement came back once again to reach it’s peak under George W. Bush when it acheived political hegemony.

From Reagan’s rise through Bush’s fall the conservative movement repeatedly demonized liberals as unpatriotic, corrupt and stupid.  They were so successful at defaming liberals that the term “liberal” became a dirty word in American politics and many left-of-center politicians and writers began calling themselves “progressives” instead.  But among conservatives and their media lapdogs, “liberal” and “Democrat” became synonymous.

But during these dark years the “progressive” Democrats began to demonize their opponents as well.  In progressive ideology the term “conservative” became synonymous with “Republican” and both terms referred to a stereotype of a person who is racist, sexist, greedy, jingoistic and pro-war.  Conservative leaders are caricatured as evil while the GOP rank and file is seen as stupid and bigoted.

If you go to almost any site in Left Blogistan you will see posts on every conceivable issue that argue from the premise that there is no principled and informed rationale for supporting any Republican policy, proposal or candidate.  If you agree with or support anything that originates from the right you must be stupid, immoral or both.  Republican candidates are not only assumed to be lying they are also presumed to have nefarious motives for seeking office along with everything else they say and do.

I’m not here to justify Republicans or their ideology.  I’m here to criticize the mutual demonization and the partisanship trap.  Why is this a bad thing?  First of all it’s intellectually lazy.  One purpose of demonization is to rob your opponent of legitimacy.  If you declare that your opponent is a racist you don’t have to debate the merits of his argument because everything he says is invalid ab initio.

Secondly, it makes rational discourse difficult if not impossible.  PUMAs know that being accused of racism is not a persuasive argument and tends to inhibit further discussion.  Increasing the frequency of the accusation or the volume of your voice doesn’t help either.  Now this does not mean that we can’t condemn racism, sexism and other societal ills when we see them, but we should do so cogently and without presuming to know what is in the hearts and minds of our opponents.

The situation we have now allows any connection, however tenuous, to the Republican party or a conservative thinker to permit the declaration that the argument is a “right-wing trope” and therefore illegitimate.  It also permits the demonization of total strangers, individually and in groups.  It isn’t much of a step from arguing your opponent is a racist to arguing your opponent’s argument should be prohibited, and then a little further to using extra-legal means to stop him.  It’s a slippery slope, but since you have the moral high ground if shouting him down doesn’t work, then try beating him down.

Into this morass of partisanship steps Teh Precious.  Some of the brightest minds in Left Blogistan, fully aware of the sexism, misogyny and false accusations of racism, as well as the caucus fraud and other electoral misconduct, nonetheless argue that we must support Obama because he is a Democrat.  Others, even though they refuse to support Obama, declare that we must not vote for John McCain because he is a Republican and is therefore worse than Teh Precious.

The mere fact that he is a Democrat has allowed Obama to break his pledge on public financing, reverse himself and vote for the FISA bill, appoint a Vice Presidential nominee that voted for the AUMF and speak approvingly of Ronald Reagan.  The joy which greeted yesterday’s endorsement of Obama by a man who less than a year ago was persona non grata among Democrats demonstrates that partisanship trumps ideology among Obama supporters.

The demonization of political opponents also allows Obamanation to rationalize violent imagery and dehumanization.  Even some alleged feminists who support Barack Obama have either participated in or turned a blind eye towards the misogynistic treatment of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. 

The PUMA motto is “principle before party.”  That motto is the key to escaping the partisanship trap.  Adherence to liberal principles must be a precondition to our support for Democratic candidates and the Democratic party.  No longer is it good enough that they are “better than the Republicans.”  Furthermore, let us use facts and cogent argument to win debates rather than allegation and innuendo.

In Your Wildest Dreams . . .

[splashcast c KJMA4552XP]

In Your Wildest Dreams . . .

Did you ever think you/we would be here at this time in this election year—refugees from our Party of origin, protesting its candidate? Goes to show, we’re still the rebel’s rebel! Ain’t that the story of my life? If that’s the case, and they do pull it off, I’m concerned for my freedoms. It’s so weird, with Obama, Dean, Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Dodd, orange kool-aid types running things, that I feel just as suppressed as when the far Right was in charge.

Many of our disenchanted were out canvassing or making phone calls as Democrats for McCain/Palin last weekend, and they will continue until the election. Some people stepped up right away. Others have cautiously dipped a toe in with mixed feelings. Some PUMA/Just Say No Deal coalition members say it’s the only way to voice our stand for a just and transparent democracy. They consider McCain/Palin more trustworthy, prudent for the economy, and ethical, although most of us disagree with their stance on reproductive rights and the environment.

The Nature of Palin

In my assessment, Palin was very good-natured about being trashed on SNL right in front of her face twice, first by Tina Fey whom she watched on the monitor, then by Alec Baldwin, who told her she was hotter in person. She looked comfy in her body as she moved and danced, which is always a good sign to me.

In comments broadcast the following Sunday from a taped interview on local TV-9 here in Manhattan, Palin spoke of how you much fun it was to do the show, and how nice the cast and staff were to her. When asked if the jokes about her bothered her, she replied that in deciding to go for the job, you have to be thick skinned, but that it hurt to have her family trashed in the MSM. However, she said that running for office is a group deal; everyone in the family knows they need to be on board and also have thick skins. That strikes me as a pretty healthy, energetic attitude. I guess it bothers me that in order to be considered cool, Governor Palin has to get approval by actor, writer, director, Tina Fey, (wow, she’s accomplished—turnabout) who also belittled her on Letterman the previous evening.

Of course, these days we want our prez to be cewl, which is why we liked Bill (in addition to his being brilliant) when he wore shades and played sax on Arsenio and MTV, and jammed along with the band at his Inauguration Ball. Remember, Bill was a product of the type of school system I grew up in, where they offered orchestra, chorus, art, drama, PE, and square dancing. This system helped round pegs like me fit into square holes, but I digress . . .

Donna, Howard, Remember Us?

Nobama has warned: Democrats, be careful, you can still mess it up, just when it looks like you’ve got it in the bag. However, I’m a bit disheartened these days. With Obama raising a record $150 million in September, and 175,000 turning up in Missouri on Saturday, October 19, you might understand why.

So I got this classic Moody Blues song in my head and checked out the YouTube. Their video is your tacky eighties fare, basically about a girlfriend of a rock star. Don’t miss the choreographed dancin’ in the street. But the lyrics could be anybody wondering about a long lost love, friend, dear one, or someone from whom they’re estranged.

This got me wondering if Howard Dean and Donna Brazille ever think about us? You know those bitter white women, old people, the ones Donna declared they didn’t need, and Howard acted like they could win without. They’ll have to, as far as PUMA and Just Say No Deal-ers are concerned. Playing out the roles in the video, I kept getting hung up with the end—when the band is dragging him away, and he just can’t help it, of course. And the girl is standing watching him go, after having tried to get in touch several times, and she’s now a bored housewife. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around which role fit Howard, Donna, me or us. Neither, I think, because we’re not suckers and they ain’t helpless. But that’s not what’s important. It’s the wildest dreams part that’s on my mind, and upon which I’d like to refocus some energy and attention.

If You Want It

Concurring with riverdaughter about the anger, I think it’s time to bring out the heavy-duty tools—as in prayer and intention! You know about The Secret? Sshhh, don’t tell, but as Norman Vincent Peale and healers believe, “You Can If You Think You Can.” It’s like The Little Engine That Could, right? I saw The Secret the movie, didn’t read the book, hah, but it’s about manifesting your life by feeling, thinking, seeing, and being your intention in every cell of your body. Actually, that’s how I work with chronic pain as a somatic practitioner and hands-on-healer. I put my attention into blending with, then overpowering the sensations of pain with my complete attention, leaving no room in my touch or mind for it to be otherwise. Sometimes it’s a battle, pain can be a stubborn sucker, but I always win.

Group prayer can create miracles for its willing recipients. Many people have experienced the power of prayer ease their own or a loved one’s plight. When in dire situations, people may pray for the best possible outcome and the recipient feels at ease, although the result might not be the desired one. I’m no evangelical, but I am ecumenical and believe that no matter what form of prayer or deity one uses as intercessor, it will forward their intention. One might say that the panic-driven recent stock market sell-off, which many observers have remarked is psychological, is a form of prayer or belief working in the mode of fear or negativity. In other words, attention may also be directed negatively and have an affect, as in voodoo. Being a good witch, I always advocate for manifesting for good.

It must be in the zeitgeist, because in her Sunday Late Night Open Thread, riverdaughter played a beautiful video rendition of “Down to the River to Pray.” Earlier in the evening, Heidi Li Feldman, Marc Rubin, and Harriet Christian joined RD, who filled in for Sheri Tag on her “No We Won’t” PURrr show. Recalling all the February HAKA that Obama would beat Hillary according to the numbers, and that there was no way she could win, Heidi Li made the point that this is basically a theme that has been perpetrated upon the American public. It’s like an ad that’s been played often enough over time. She said, “It’s only a self-fulfilling prophesy if you let it,” which reminds me of John Lennon’s, “War is over, if you want it.”

I’m not saying only pray. I’m saying pray and take action. Harriet says: Be pro-active! Do whatever you can to stop Obama. Heidi and Marc say donate to Democrats For Principle Before Party so they can run an ad during the World Series. Murphy invites you to visit PUMA PAC’s Action Center. And last but not least, find out how to join in a variety of activities by visiting Just Say No Deal.

Perchance To Dream

I’ve arrived at my point in a roundabout way, but . . . please use this entry as a way to dream. Listen to the music, take the poll, and comment away about your dreams. You’ll notice that I did not include Hillary as a presidential choice, because I’m asking that you focus on the choices we currently have. We used to dream about some illegality knocking BO out of the race, but in two weeks, with the momentum now, Hillary is just not, well, dare I say, there’s a limit to my band width. Although, of course, you can dream and write her in under “other.” For any interlopers, know that the PUMA McCain choice is a protest vote. Oh, and yes, I question that the options include a Dean/Brazille, et al apology, and, sadly, fair elections.

What is your wildest election dream given our options? Make it happen, people. In its short life to date, isn’t that what our ragtag underfunded coalition has always been about? By paying attention and speaking up, haven’t we actually made a dent in the narrative of this election cycle and the vetting of its candidates? A determined voice that roars like a PUMA. Who knows what we yet can accomplish? In your wildest dreams . . .

Prologue: A New Voice —

From THE JOURNEY by Mary Oliver, 1986

” . . . though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice . . .”

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own [. . .]

performed by The Keith Jarrett Trio

When You Wish Upon A Star

Music: Leigh Harline
Lyrics: Ned Washington

When a star is born
They posses a gift or two
One them is this
They have the power
To make a wish come true

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do

Fate is kind
She brings to those to love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

[cross-posted from Lady Boomer NYC]

Monday: We are not alone

There are signs of intelligent life.  You just have to know where to look.  You won’t find them on TV.  They’re harder to spot in the nation’s newspapers.  But they’re out there.  They are *us* and people like us.  Our challenge is to find each other and connect.

Sometimes, the most effective technology is the simplest one.  It could be that all we have to do is print some flyers that say nothing more than:

“Don’t like Obama?  Not a racist?  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!”

Put your favorite URL in some tear off strips at the bottom and hang the flyer on your local grocery store bulletin board.

Here are some other nifty ideas on how you can connect with others:

  • Check out Murphy’s PUMAPac Action Center for graphics, flyers, postcards, and other ideas on getting the word out to the non-nethead.  Sign up for her Daily Growl for mass action alerts.
  • Help Heidi Li and Marc Rubin get more ads on the air.  Visit Democrats for Principle before Party and make a donation.
  • Visit JustSayNoDeal’s DailyDos page for events and activities that will get people’s attention. (Note: Some of these activities coordinate with McCain’s campaign so do it only if you feel comfortable with that concept.)
  • Meet Harriet Christian in Manhattan on Saturday and Sunday from now until the election.  She is rounding up a posse to go to Scranton, PA to canvass in coordination with Democrat’s for McCain.  If you’re interested, send her an email at hchristian at infnyc dot com.  The buses leave from 31st Street and 8th Ave at 9:00AM.
  • Tell your friends to tune into blogtalkradio programs.  There are a wide variety to suit everyone’s taste and you will get to meet a lot of new friends from all over the country.  Tonight, you can Chew the Fat with Ophelia, from The New Agenda tonight at 10PM EST.  Join Amy Siskind and Dr. Violet Socks talk about how women from both sides of the aisle can find common ground, work towards the 30% solution and move women’s issues forward for a better society for all.

    Chewing the Fat with Ophelia

    Chewing the Fat with Ophelia

The Obama Haka only works if friends and neighbors get discouraged and stay home on election day.  There is an illusion that Obama’s victory is all but assured but that can’t happen if everyone who is angry about the strong armed tactics, intimidation, peer pressure, misogyny and accusations of racism fight back.  There is strength in numbers.  Spread the word.  All you have to do is say, “You are not alone.”

Time is short.

Sound off, Conflucians.  Tell us where you’re from.