Free Markets, Free People
Frankly this sort of stuff is just funny as hell, in an ironic sort of way. The ever consistent left. Remember when any dissent, as long as it was the left dissenting and George Bush was the target, was the height of patriotism?
Yeah, not so much anymore. Check out this from Ed Schultz. Ed Schultz for heaven sake, talking about dissent and war:
ED SCHULTZ: Republicans are attacking the Commander-in-Chief during a time of war! . . . There should be no debate: we should be kicking [Gaddafi's] ass . . . Whose side are you on, Sarah: are you with the terrorists, Sarah, or are you with the President of the United States? . . . And I have to ask the question tonight: where is the patriotism from all of these war-hawks? Where’s the patriotism of the Republican party? . . . What about being a patriot? . . . So the question now for the doubters who are out and about: why don’t you support the president? . . . We’ve been talking about the lack of patriotism from prominent Republicans . . . Laura [Flanders] what about the patriotism?
Sometimes I have to wonder if these guys are like geese and just wake up in a new world everyday, because they apparently just don’t remember the Bush years at all or what they said during that time. And just as apparently they don’t seem to remember when they argued that dissent was as patriotic and American as apple pie. As I recall Ed Schultz was the voice of dissent about Iraq – in fact he liked to brag about that fact. Change each of the names above to “Ed Schultz” and it would be precisely what he whined about and pushed back against when he was the target of such nonsense.
But now, suddenly, because it fits his agenda apparently, he’s what I can only assume he’d have called a “chicken-hawk” a few years ago. And he’ll brook no dissent, by gosh. You’re simply “unpatriotic” if you disagree.
Ed Shultz – another irony impaired lefty blowhard with no integrity who has a memory as long as … well you pick the proper metaphor, but whatever you choose, it’s not very long at all. You can see the clip of him “leaning forward” on MSNBC here.
As the health care debate has raged over the last year, one of the side benefits has been to watch the left make absolute fools of themselves trying to make it all about race. I mean to any impartial observer it is clear which side is obsessed with the issue – to the point of making statements like this:
“The conjunction of a black President and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play.”
That, of course, is Frank Rich. And Mr. Rich has never met anyone who opposes what he supports that isn’t a racist, homophobe or, well, whatever it takes to dismiss them and ignore their arguments.
The proof of this, at least to Rich, is the fact that the majority of those who’ve turned out for Tea Party events are white. Therefore, it must be about race. Not about opposing ideas. Not about freedom. Not about liberty. Race obsessed leftists simply can’t see beyond the predominant color of the crowd. And Rich isn’t the only one, of course. Joan Walsh, infamous for her pronouncement that all who oppose Obama are traitors, has crawled out from under her rock again to add racist to her condemnation. She sort of tiptoes around it, but her intent is more than clear:
The “I want my country back!” rhetoric does reflect a mind-set in which one’s country has been taken away by … others. But in thinking about race this weekend, I got more out of a column by Ron Brownstein, which examined poll data showing that white voters — wrongly — tend to believe healthcare reform helped “other people,” not themselves.
Note the premise – the “I want my country back” isn’t driven by the obvious power grab made by government this year in a myriad of areas. Oh, no – it’s about race. And it’s about whites not being happy with becoming a minority and with seeing “other people helped”. Walsh is pretty sure “other people” is code for, well, you know. Their dissatisfaction couldn’t possibly be government, or politicians, or God forbid – Democrats – could it? And they certainly couldn’t possibly conclude that any help their family might get would be vastly overshadowed by what it will eventually cost them to obtain it where that might not be the case for “others” (regardless of race)?
Oh, no. It has to be about race.
By playing the race card, Walsh, Rich and Brownstein miss the point completely. Health care is only the current reason for the demonstrated dissatisfaction. Government expansion, cost and intrusion are the real issues driving these protests. Protesters are mad at those who are doing the expansion, intruding and the spending. And protesters really don’t care what their race might be. It isn’t about race – its about redistribution, intrusion, more government and more regulation. It’s about the increasingly bigger and more costly federal government and it’s attempt to build a dependent class while billing the rest of us.
One of the reasons the Democrats are losing independents in droves can be seen in statement’s like Rich’s and implications like Wash’s. When independents see a policy they don’t like and they dissent, the first thing they’re accused of is being a racist. It has to be true – the crowd is mostly white and the president is black. The independent knows perfectly well, of course, that race has nothing to do with the reason they’re protesting, yet the Richs, Walshs and Sharptons of the world (and yes, Rich and Walsh belong in the same class as Sharpton – race hustlers) insist that’s their primary motivation. It couldn’t possibly be anything any more noble.
Even though the Obama administration tried to stress the bill’s benefits to all families — insurance for folks with preexisting conditions, restrictions on companies dropping you when you get sick, letting kids stay on parents’ policies until they’re 26, as well as subsidies that will mainly go to middle- and working-class families (the poor are already covered by Medicaid) — a Gallup survey found that 57 percent of white respondents said that the bill would help the uninsured, and 52 percent said that it would improve conditions for low-income families. Only a third of whites thought it would benefit the country, and shockingly, only 20 percent thought it would benefit their family. (Nonwhites polled were more likely to say the bill would help their families.)
I hate to get into word parsing, but read that through carefully. In fact, click on the Brownstein link and read it as well. Note the final sentence above. Nonwhites polled were “more likely” to say the bill would help their families. That means a significant portion of nonwhites apparently said the opposite. So what does that make them?
These are the sorts of convoluted arguments one is forced to make when they’re a professional race-baiter. Well, if a majority of whites are racists if they oppose health care because (pick your reason from those listed in Walsh’s quote), then what are the minority of nonwhites who feel the same way? Or are they instead just ignorant? Misinformed? Stupid? Or could they too be worried about the eventual cost to them of the monstrosity the Congress passed and called “health care reform?”
Anyone who didn’t fall off the turnip truck last night knows the purpose of playing the race card as Walsh and Rich are doing is to stifle debate and discredit dissent (when you can’t fight their ideas, call ‘em racists). It doesn’t take long for such attempts to backfire on those making the groundless accusation. That’s because the people they continue to accuse of racism know quite well they’re not racists and that race doesn’t factor into their dissatisfaction at all. That allows them to reject the argument and those making it. And one by one, independents, many of whom were Obama voters, finally tire of the continued accusations thrown and the dismissal of their dissent and they desert the Democrats.
The funny thing? I expect the Walshs, Richs and Sharptons of the world to characterize their defection as being racist as well. I’ll be interested to see their explanation of how the racists managed, at one time, to overcome their inherent racism long enough to vote Obama into office. That should be quite a treat.
Someone at one of the protests recently yelled:
I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.
Oh, wait – that was Hillary Clinton back when there was a Republican administration.
So, is the sentiment expressed by Clinton and so roundly applauded by the left -then – no longer applicable?
Is “speaking truth to power”, no longer approved or something to be desired?
This is the most sickening and disgusting aspect of the left’s reaction to the protests of average Americans against a government action with which they disagree.
What happened to “we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration?”
I heard no caveat in that declaration. She didn’t say “any administration but a Democratic administration”. Or “any administration but one trying to pass health care legislation”.
If the left actually believes in speaking “truth to power” and that Americans have the right “to debate and disagree with any administration”, what is all the name-calling and hyperventilating over real Americans doing precisely that?
If they actually believe that, what’s this?
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, said she thought the protests against government health care at lawmakers’ town hall meetings were “un-American and disrespectful.”
“What we’re seeing right now is close to brownshirt tactics,” [Rep. Brian] Baird (D-WA) said Wednesday …
What is becoming increasingly apparent as America watches this train wreck unfold – and concerned Americans are characterized as enemies of freedom – is that all the previous talk about “dissent” and “patriotism” and “speaking truth to power”, not to mention a “right to debate and disagree with any administration”, was just words. They were a convenient weapon to use against their political enemy at the time. They gave the proper lip service to freedom and liberty and empowered the left’s dissent.
But when the occasion to actually apply those words and ideas presents itself, even if they happen to be on the other side of the debate, they toss them overboard like so much trash. No such empowerment to the rest of us – no sir.
With the left, politics and party have and always will trump freedom and liberty. Hopefully the brownshirted, un-American mobs protesting this unconstitutional hijacking of health care are picking up on that this time.
Hope and change.
The videos of what are described as “angry” townhalls around the country keep pouring in. Here’s one from Green Bay, WI.
Of course there are tons of others.
The Democrats and the left have answered the protests by claiming that they’re nothing more than “right-wing extremists” under the control of powerful interest groups. Thus the charge of “astro-turfing”.
These accusations by the DNC seem to ignore the Tea Party movement’s origins which was, on inspection, a true grass-roots movement (and one that has taken both Democrats and Republicans to task for their profligate spending). Notice too that they include the “birthers” in their vid to underline their “extremist” claim.
The White House, instead of trying to calm the waters, has chosen employ Saul Alinsky against the protesters:
A key part of the developing strategy: ridicule the opposition — and portray those who disrupt meetings with loud chants and signs as part of the same ilk of people who showed up at campaign rallies for John McCain and Sarah Palin right after the 2008 Republican National Convention.
So this turns into a propaganda war. The left will be attempting to turn public opinion against the protesters by portraying them a certain way.
Patronizing opponents is a tried and true tradition in Washington, and Democrats have used the tactic with success. They ridiculed the hundreds of thousands of conservatives who protested the stimulus package as “tea baggers.”
But Republicans are just as responsible for the perception. The folks who tend to show up at protest events tend to be to the right of the mean in the party. And, as the spread of the birther movement demonstrates, not a small chunk of these Republicans are reactionaries. The challenge for the White House and Democrats is that they find a way to separate genuinely anxious conservatives who ask good questions — even if those questions are provided by conservative groups — and the crazies who tend to pack town hall meetings.
Of course, most reasonable people would suggest, upon reflection, that if this was an “astro-turfed” movement, those who are paying for it would have much tighter control and avoid the obviously unhelpful signage and any connection with the birther movement. That’s obviously not the case.
So the right and Republicans have the momentum, at least for now, but it isn’t clear if they have an advantage for the reasons stated.
The challenge for Republicans is to prevent the media from labeling everyone who attends a meeting with a Democratic lawmaker and who calls him or herself a conservative as a crazy person. Some polling suggests that the percentage of Republicans who don’t know whether President Obama was born in the United States is fairly high, although it is hard to say how much of that confusion stems from ignorance or from a generally jaundiced, perhaps racist, view of the President.
A range of smaller, ideologically conservative interest groups are organizing the protests. Finding pockets of activist-oriented arch-conservatives in places like Texas, Missouri and Indiana is easy, especially if the set goal is to defeat Obama-care, which is being sold to these people as the approach of government-run health care, something that these folks have been worried about for years. Add to the mix a desire to hand the progressive President and his agenda a decisive defeat.
And there’s an interesting question about pushing back on the left – where are its activists and organizations?
The more troublesome question for Democratic strategists is why the major Democratic groups, including Organizing for America, the labor unions, Health Care for America Now, seem to be flatfooted and unable to match the much smaller conservative organizing capacity in these critical districts. One answer is that the media pays attention to the loudest voices, which are coming from the right. The other is that organizing around major — even popular — reforms of existing institutions is tough. The Democrats don’t have a single bill right now, and the elite left is worried about what’s not in the cards — a public plan — and is therefore fairly unenthusiastic. If the liberal elite isn’t enthusiastic, the liberal base — less knowledgeable — will be as well.
And of course, there’s the media – which, it seems, leans mostly toward helping the administration. For instance, the conclusion of the article from which I’ve been quoting from Mark Ambinder at The Atlantic:
To focus minds, Democrats are coordinating TV and radio ad blitzes, including the biggest expenditures by the Democratic National Committee to date. President Obama, his cabinet and his vice president will be ubiquitous. Quickly responding to disinformation will be a key goal, an administration official said, pointing to this morning’s release of a video from Linda Douglass, a former television and print reporter who serves as a key White House health care adviser, which rebutted a misleading video posted on the Drudge Report.
Linda Douglass “rebutted” nothing. She made a bunch of claims she’d have difficulty substantiating. But that is how it is being reported. The implication is that what is coming from the right is “disinformation” and the only true source of factual information is the White House.
I think we all know that dog won’t hunt.
But this should be a very, very interesting August.
[Welcome RCP readers]
First Paul Krugman calls anyone who opposes climate change legislation “traitors against the planet”. We then have Al Gore claiming fighting those who oppose such legislation akin to fighting Nazis. The latest to resort to ad hominem is Henry Waxman, who claims the GOP, and by implication, anyone who is against the nonsense he just pushed through the House is an unpatriotic so-and-so:
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who has had an eventful couple of weeks to say the least, believes House Republican opposition to climate change legislation and the stimulus indicates they’re cheering against the good ol’ US of A.
“It appears that the Republican Party leadership in the Congress has made a decision that they want to deny President Obama success, which means, in my mind, they are rooting against the country, as well,” the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman told WAMU radio host Diane Rehm on Tuesday morning, promoting his new book, “The Waxman Report.”
Yeah, see it couldn’t at all be that they’re concerned with the crippling effect it will have on the economy or that it is based in bad science that is daily being successfully challenged. Or that the stimulus was a bad idea that put us into much worse shape fiscally while doing very little to help the economy.
Nope, it’s all about wanting to “deny President Obama success”, and that, of course means it is OK to question their patriotism.
Because, as we’ve all learned, since the election of Obama and the rise of the Democrat left, dissent is no longer the highest form of patriotism, is it?
UPDATE: Oops – looks like Michael and I came to the same conclusion at about the same time. Ah well, such is blogging – read ‘em both. They’re just different enough (and short enough) to warrant it. And btw, Michael, it doesn’t surprise me that Steve Benen, hack that he is, doesn’t find the rhetoric to be “over the top” when a Democrat says it, but would be devoting a full week of outraged blogging if it had been the other way around.
Apparently signs equal threats to some of our police:
An Oklahoma City police officer wrongly pulled over a man last week and confiscated an anti-President Barack Obama sign the man had on his vehicle.
The officer misinterpreted the sign as threatening, said Capt. Steve McCool, of the Oklahoma City Police Department, and took the sign, which read “Abort Obama, not the unborn.”
Chip Harrison said he was driving to work when a police car followed him for several miles and then signaled for him to pull over.
”I pulled over, knowing I hadn’t done anything wrong,” Harrison said in a recent phone interview.
When the officer asked Harrison if he knew why he had been pulled over, Harrison said he did not.
”They said, ‘It’s because of the sign in your window,’” Harrison said.
When did cops start pulling people over for political bumper stickers or signs?
Anyway, Harrison tried to explain what the sign meant, they disagreed and he was issued a a slip of paper that said he was a part of some sort of investigation. They took his sign. Later, he’s contacted by the police saying the policeman misunderstood and asking him if he wanted his sign back. They had contacted the Secret Service about the sign, and they had told the police it wasn’t a threat. Except apparently they were blowing smoke:
”The Secret Service called and said they were at my house,” Harrison said.
”When I was on my way there, the Secret Service called me and said they weren’t going to ransack my house or anything … they just wanted to (walk through the house) and make sure I wasn’t a part of any hate groups.”
Harrison said he invited the Secret Service agents into the house and they were “very cordial.”
”We walked through the house and my wife and 2-year-old were in the house,” Harrison said.
He said they interviewed him for about 30 minutes and then left, not finding any evidence Harrison was a threat to the president.
Walk through my house? Uh, get a warrant.
Hate groups? They knew what the sign was about, what was the rest of this about?
Which segues nicely into the next portion of the post – hate speech.
Eugene Volokh has a very interesting post up about a UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center study titled Hate Speech on Commercial Talk Radio.
It’s a fascinating post which demonstrates how hard certain groups are working another angle aimed at talk-radio (and read the comments, where commenters take the study’s assertions aparat). Hate-speech is a lever that various groups on the left have been trying to enable for years. From the study, here’s their definition of hate speech:
Types of Hate Speech
We identified four types of speech that, through negative statements, create a climate of hate and prejudice: (1) false facts [including "simple falsehoods, exaggerated statements, or decontextualized facts [that] rendered the statements misleading”], (2) flawed argumentation, (3) divisive language, and (4) dehumanizing metaphors (table 1).
Then the examples:
Table 1. Analysis of Hate Speech from The John & Ken Show
“And this is all under the Gavin Newsom administration and the Gavin Newsom policy in San Francisco of letting underage illegal alien criminals loose” (from the July 21, 2008, broadcast).
Vulnerable group: foreign nationals (undocumented people).
Social institutions: policy and political organizations (city policy and mayor’s office).
The sanctuary policy preceded Gavin Newsom’s tenure as San Francisco’s mayor, and neither Newsom nor the sanctuary policy supports “letting underage illegal alien criminals loose.”
Guilt by association is used to make the hosts’ point. Undocumented youth and those who are perceived as their endorsers at the institutional level are stigmatized by being associated with criminality.
Criminalized undocumented youth and their perceived validators (Gavin Newsom and the sanctuary policy) are depicted as a threat to San Francisco citizens, setting up an “us versus them” opposition.
ANALYSIS The language depicts the hosts’ targets (undocumented people, city policy, and Mayor Gavin Newsom) as dangerous, criminal, and collusive. In addition, the focus of that policy (undocumented people) becomes reduced to “underage illegal alien criminals.”
Talk about over-analysis. The bottom line is this matrix of assessment is based in pure biased opinion disguised as objectivity. Hate speech, in this case, is nothing more than saying “letting underage illegal alien criminals loose” is wrong.
As Volokh says:
The vagueness and potential breadth of the phrase “hate speech” is a pretty substantial reason — though just one among many — to resist the calls for a “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment. And the vagueness and potential breadth is also a reason to be skeptical of uses of the phrase even outside the law: It’s very easy to define “hate speech” as you like (or leave it undefined, as some arguments do), and use it to condemn people who express a wide range of views that you disapprove of.
One of the most defining phrases in the history of America free speech is “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
It has never been “I don’t like what you say and it sounds like “hate speech” to me so you should be silenced”.