Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Monday, December 20, 2010

How the Far-Left Mirrors the Far-Right

The left, including this writer, has made a career out of denouncing right-wing extremism, mainly the Tea Party and those Republicans more interested in destroying a president – and in the process, the country – than they are in working to solve the very serious problems facing our country.

Liberals justifiably mock the right’s ignorance of basic civics, the country’s history and the Constitution; after all, part of being a responsible citizen is in knowing these things. Signs with misspelled words advocating “English Only” are met with derision; posters with the swastika are met with outrage. The right’s lies, distortions and hypocrisy are greeted with a mixture of ridicule and outrage and held under the microscope by non-partisan fact-checking organizations – along with those from the left.

Harsh criticism is leveled at the racism implicit in signs at Tea Party rallies and on billboards, on edited photographs, in emails and snail mail, and on social networks. Nowhere is this more exemplified than in their tasteless personal attacks on the current President and First Family; even the children are subjected to racist attacks.

These character defects should and do attract disapproval from most decent Americans, regardless of political persuasion.

But do I detect an echo? Can it be said that the far-left is sounding like the extremists on the right and adopting some of those very same character flaws we so vigorously reject and condemn?

The Bloggerhood: Free Speech and Hypocrisy

Very early on in my blogging career I read about how Pam, a conservative over at The Oracular Opinion, stepped in to help her friend Shaw at Progressive Eruptions who had to have surgery and needed help to keep her blog running. Liberal bloggers applauded her acts of kindness; right wingers all but tarred, feathered and ran Pam out of Blogger Town on a rail. Her crime? Aiding and abetting the enemy.

A liberal who used the name Blackwaterdog was hounded off Daily Kos by a loud, noisy chorus of ugly rhetoric. She started her own blog appropriately named The Only Adult in the Room. But the “purists” weren’t satisfied; they wanted to annihilate her. This dehumanizing effort was led by none other than Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, a good buddy of Jane Hamsher’s at FireDogLake. Her crime? Posting positive picture diaries of the President and First Family’s activities.

Not everyone may be drawn to the content on The Only Adult but does this give her critics the right to compare her to Nazi propagandist, Leni Riefenstahl? Sound familiar?

The blatant hypocrisy and the total disregard for a person’s right to free expression because their speech is not agreeable with another’s is deplorable and unacceptable. But sadly, I see many comment zones turning into war zones with the far-left resorting to personal insults when disagreeing with more pragmatic liberals who in most cases share the same ideals but not the approach.

Sentamental History

I would have been surprised had the main street media not started attacking President Obama the moment he opened his eyes on the morning after the inauguration. But I was dumbfounded at the attacks from the so-called professional progressive blogs. They began mildly enough but very quickly their rhetoric turned into a cacophony of ugly vitriol not unlike that heard from the far-right. Even worse, professional and non-professional far-left bloggers resort to the same kinds of tasteless personally degrading labels that they criticize the right for using.

“Obama should be like LBJ was” or “Obama needs to do what FDR did” is not too far removed from “I want my country back.” The glaring but simple reality is that we can’t go back in time; our country is facing a different set of problems with a different cast of characters. More obviously, Obama is not like LBJ, just as LBJ wasn’t like JFK, and JFK wasn’t like HST, and HST wasn’t like FDR, and so on.

We get our kicks out of mocking the extreme right for its ignorance of history but the far-left can be just as ignorant of and blind to documented historical facts.

FACT: When legislation for Social Security was introduced, Franklin D. Roosevelt dropped the national health care provision that was originally included. Why did he – gasp! – compromise/sell-out/cave? Because at that time and place in our history, he wisely understood that the Republicans would say NO to health care reform and in the process kill Social Security as well.

I wonder if anyone on the far-left during those gloomy dark days of the Great Depression accused FDR of being corrupt, a puppet, inept or a snake oil salesman.

FACT: The Social Security Act, signed by FDR in 1935, only covered workers in commerce and industry. In 1937 the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) was passed; it required workers to pay taxes to support the Social Security system. In 1939 Social Security was expanded to include dependents and survivors. Not until nearly 25 years later in 1950 was it expanded to cover jobs outside of commerce and industry and benefit levels increased. In 1956 Disability Insurance was created and has been expanded over the years.

FACT: LBJ never would have succeeded in getting civil rights legislation or the Voting Rights Act passed had it not been for Republican support. The Dixiecrats, led by Strom Thurmond, did everything in and out of the book to block it. Obama is not only burdened with the yellow Blue Dogs, he is faced with an unprecedented concrete wall of well-organized obstruction from the opposition – and now he has the far-left participating in the drive to bring his presidency – and thus the country – to its knees.

The lessons here should be obvious. Not every president can get everything he may have promised during a campaign; a foolish attempt to win no doubt but no more foolish than voters who take such promises at face value. Politics has never been a “take all or nothing” kind of game. Passing legislation is in fact the “art of compromise.” The “all or nothing” school of thought is not only unrealistic, the end result is nothing.

Bloggers Get Down and Dirty

The extremes on both sides of the political spectrum have a penchant for chanting infantile slogans: “I have a right to free speech” from the right translates into “I have a right to disagree with the president” or “I have a right to criticize the president” from the left. Yes and yes, but that is not the issue.

The issue is not in the message but in the way it is delivered, the language.

Vicious epithets directed at the President of our United States are limited only by their crude imaginations. One side is just as repugnant, tasteless and vile as the other. Epithets from the right include: Spoiled Brat, Obama Bin Lyin, Half-breed Muslim, Barack Hussein Obama, No Clue Balls Obama, Robbing Hood, Nazi, Terrorist, Barack the Magic Negro.

What’s the difference between that kind of toilet tank talk and this used by far-left bloggers? Barack Bush, Nel, HomophObama, Pootie Tang, the Black Mr. Rogers, House Negro.

I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection between the use of such invectives and the fact that Obama is the first black president.

Headlines such as “Barack Obama the Anatomical Wonder. We’re Looking for Organ and Skeletal Donors for Barack Obama” (from one of my favorite blogs no less) and crude – as in content and production videos such as this one. Recently, a headline on a particularly scurrilous blog screamed, "If you want to suck his dick, go ahead." A loyal follower told a reader who had the audacity to disagree with the content, "F--k you and go back to Europe you worthless piece of s--t."

Other Mirror Images

It’s all about “me”, not “we”.
The president is ignoring our side.
I only listen to Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann.
What party of NO? What obstructionism?
Our country is on the verge of collapse. It’s the eve of destruction.
I want it ALL, damnit.
I'm not racist.
. . .

I know we liberals like to say that we don't march lock-step with our leaders as do the GOPers, but where does it say we have to destroy them with the same sort of dehumanizing invective and emasculating and emotional strafing that the far right uses on Obama? I have seen over my lifetime a radicalization of our politics and the extremes in both parties by true believers will keep us in a constant state of combat instead of making some sort of arrangement to get done the very important work that this country needs to get done.

I wish I had said this but I didn’t. It was included in an email from Shaw at Progressive Eruptions. I owe her a debt of gratitude for her insight and willingness to guide me and keep me on track.

There are several reasons I don’t visit right-wing sights: the epithets, the hysterics, the distortion of facts, the sniping, and the doomsday mentality. Maybe I’m just uncomfortable with extremes because I find myself visiting fewer and fewer far-left sites these days. I truly feel both extremes have a humanitarian problem and that if they don’t become more realistic and less pugnacious - more willing to give and take – it will not be because of Obama that this country collapses.
Since this article was written, more and more liberals and progressives are criticizing the "far-left," or the "new progressives" (guess that doesn't include old ones like me), or the "professional left," or whatever one chooses to call them. Here are two that I highly recommend.

Lefty's 'Bath Water' Party's Wrong on Obama: 9 Facts on FDR, Truman, LBJ Show Why

The Professional Left's CEO Delusion


  1. As you know I am on the far-far radical LEFT side. :-)
    Lets see if you feel the same way in Oh, lets say 3-6-12-18-24 months.

    We have seen where this "give and take" has gotten us.
    They just passed the BIGGEST defense budget ever.
    Under the radar of course.
    We can pay to kill people but not to save them.
    Who or what is paying for that?

    The American Unity [democrat-republican] Party will sink America further into the abyss.
    Fasten your seat belts ladies and gentlemen austerity is coming to America.

  2. RZ: I share many, not all, of your goals. But I deplore the language and methods of both extremes, and I'm by no means a doom and gloom person. That, imo, is self-defeating.

    I also think both extremes have an unrealistic approach to how to solve problems and both have selective memories when it comes to history.

    Except for Vietnam LBJ was a damn good president but people were angry, justifiably, and forced him not to run again (he also had serious heart problems). The Republicans came in with a thin margin in 1969 and were able to hang around until 1977. We had a brief 4-year break with Carter, and then it was back to the Republicans, 1981-1993. The price we paid for drumming LBJ out of office was pretty costly. The bitter irony: the war didn't end until 1975.

    In the name of principle and for self-serving reasons Ted Kennedy didn't support Carter's HC proposal because it didn't go far enough and it wanted it all, by golly. Years later he was to remark that it was the biggest mistake of his political career. His insistence on having it "all" also hurt the American people.

    It almost sounds to me that you'd prefer a benign dictator who would just have to sanp his fingers and wave his magic wand and it all would be well with the world. I don't think it works that way.

  3. Leslie,
    Speaking only for myself,I hold politicians to the same principles,regardless of their party.

    Let me ask you this,and I would ask this of all who support Obama - how did you feel about the No Child Left Behind Act?

    Were you behind it? Did you say it wasn't perfect, but it was a start? Did you make the Social Security comparison, saying it could be built upon?

    Or what about doubling the budget for the National Institute of Health? Or the Rural Physician Bill? Did all of you guys defending Obama cheer those things which Bush did?

    I'm guessing political partisanship prevented you guys from supporting the above measures. If pressed for an explanation I'd imagine you'd claim it was very flawed legislation.

    No Child Left Behind was very flawed legislation, as is Obama's HCR.The good parts were underfunded and the funded parts were ideological - same as Obama's HCR, ideology in this case translating to massive infusions of cash to the private sector health insurers, a major Obama campaign contributor.

    In my estimation all of this is based on partisan Democrat politics. Had McCain won and enacted massive cash infusions to the health insurers I'm convinced you guys wouldn't have supported it.

    The other reason I think you all are partisan and give Obama a pass is the war.Cindy Sheehan was a hero to Dems at Crawford, now that she continues her principled crusade many ridicule her. But she hasn't changed, you guys have.

    Simply put,burning the flesh off Iraqi children is wrong whether Mitch McConnell votes to fund it (which he did) or Barak Obama votes to fund it (which he did)- and it wasn't for the troops safety,which comes out of the Defense budget.

    Obama is not a good and principled man, naively battling forces of evil. He is a very intelligent politician who has delivered time and again on the investment Wall St and the multinationals provided, the same as his predecessors did.

    You guys can stand and cheer him like Republicans stood and cheered Bush. I'm still in SF holding a picket sign opposing Zionism and racism, just the crowds are smaller now.

  4. Leslie BTW I mean you like "ustedes" not "usted".

    So more like "all y'all" not you Leslie. I know
    most of your readership are strong Obama supporters.

  5. wow, so good Leslie, then I read Oso and agree with much of his comment too. RZ is far far left, I'm just trying to stay left of center and get through the next 2 years....

  6. tnlib
    It is very late in the game.
    Changes are coming that most of you will not like.
    IMO Here are some of the things that will be on the agenda.
    By this I mean that O will go along to get along.
    They will try to make the Obama tax cuts for the rich permanent.
    The very weak HC will be mostly thinned out if not totally repealed.
    They will go after Soc. Sec. like rabid dogs.
    Nothing can create a bigger financial bubble for Wall St. than privatizing Soc. Sec.
    At the very least they will change it.
    Medi-Caid will be on the hit list big time.
    Dept. of Education will be on the list as well.
    All if not most social programs will be cut, cut, cut.
    Cities are going BK, this time around they will get no help from the Feds.
    The debt ceiling vote will come up. Either they shut the Govt. down or they raise it.
    If they raise it, more cuts.
    The democratic party along with its leader are going to the center/center right. They are not even staying on the center left.
    The democrat party is nothing more than as shell of its past. Austerity came suddenly to a few countries in Europe. The people went to the streets.
    Here it is coming step-by-step.
    If the democrats will not hold their own party accountable, then who will?

    We as a country are running out of time. The clock is ticking.

  7. Last fall, The Nation published 50 profiles of men and women who they deemed were the most influential progressives of the last hundred years. Although intended as celebratory, it was actually a sad elegy for the decline of a once formidable political force: The list began with a giant (Eugene Debs) and ended with a clown (Michael Moore).

    Today's left has fallen under a self-induced spell that it can make common cause with teabaggers under a guise of economic populism; it has completely discounted the vile racism at the root of teabaggery. Moreover, it has a greatly inflated sense of itself combined with -- for a political that once thrived on movement building -- an astonishing political naivete. I've written about this at length on my blog, so I won't bother getting into details here.

    Except to make a point: Many on the left attacked President Obama for not pursuing single-payer as part of health care reform. Adoption of single payer in this country means elimination of almost the entire health insurance business, compensating virtually every physician on the basis of salary, and tightening the regulatory screws on Big Pharma. That degree of systemic progressive change is historically possible only when driven by a mass movement from outside the political system: Think Abolitionism, women's voting right, the labor movement, and civil rights and you get the idea of the implications of adopting single payer.

    In other words, an at minimum 8-10 year long sustained movement in which people are willing to risk prison and physical harm unto death. If there is to be such a movement, the left would have to organize it. The left hasn't even tried. It has complained that such things aren't done anyway. And complained. And complained. And complained.

    Over and over, the left has attacked the president and liberals over issues that it has not bothered to organize a meaningful constituency around. Instead of sniping and siding with racists, the left should take a good hard look at itself and ask how it came to be able to inflict damage and do no good. And why it can't get organized.

  8. Oso, for the record, I don't like No Child Left Behind because I think the basing education policy on standardized testing is wrongheaded. I don't know enough about the other two (rural physicians and NIM funding) to have an opinion, but I am suspicious that both came with the usual right-wings strings attached: No performing abortions or giving abortion counseling and politically research restrictions.

  9. K
    I am curious how it is that you equate the left with tea baggers.
    Just because I do not go along to get along with Obama does not make me a effen tea bagger.

  10. Oso: This is not about any one issue or Bush. It's about the ugly rhetoric on both sides that we have been hearing over the last two years. You've been one of the nay-sayers since day one. You have admitted that you didn't like him before he was elected, right, so can you be objective and hear what I'm saying?

    It's funny but when I ask people to name one president in our history who has faced the kind of opposition Obama has, not one person has been able to provide aother example. Bush didn't have this kind of opposition nor was his legislative agenda anywhere as ambitious.

    You and I will never reach an agreement on this, I don't think. Please read this line and think about it: "I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection between the use of such invectives and the fact that Obama is the first black president."

  11. K said: "Today's left has fallen under a self-induced spell that it can make common cause with teabaggers under a guise of economic populism"

    I think that does describe Michael Moore, for one example.

  12. K,
    re:No Child,my estimation was the same.I also concur with your suspicions on the other two things,the only reason I'd even heard about them was looking for a list of GWB's accomplishments in order to make a point.

    Single payer is what would best solve our massive medical budget issue - no question,yet there was no chance it or even a very limited public option would have seen the light of day, for the reasons you elucidated.

    However, with the massive amount of $
    the health insurers will get there was precious little quid pro quo - that's all I'd hoped for.Tighter regulation and state funding so the states would have the resources to enforce the law.Merely funding those same state insurance resources would have gone a long way towards providing more available health care.

    Maybe some progressives are spoiled whiners.You can find people pissing and moaning everywhere and anywhere. What I don't get is the liberals who ridicule those of us who oppose war and hatred, who support jobs over bailouts. I truly didn't see that coming, when Obama finally got tough and angry it was to chastise those of us who want to raise our children in a better world.

    I make no common cause with racist teabaggers, I don't kid myself about what even the nice seeming ones say about me when I leave a room.

    Recently somebody accused me of hating Blacks, saying his hate radar picked it up off me.A Republican co-worker used to hear the exact criticisms made against Bush from me, he used to say I just hate White people. I'm guess I'm an equal opportunity hater, expecting far more out of our leaders than they are willing to give. The hatred from the right has implicit racism, from the left I don't see it.

    My personal opinion is, Obama had it EASIER than any president has ever had it coming into office. He followed our worst president ever, and only had to not screw up as badly and he'd look good by comparison. Instead he chose to mirror the same crony capitalist/war supporter policy as Bush.

  13. TNLib, obviously I agree with what you say, and in fact I think you were very restrained in how you expressed it even while marshaling an impressive amount of supporting evidence.

    On the one hand, Obama campaigned as a centrist pragmatist, and no one really had any right to expect him to be anything else. On the other hand, he has done things no Republican would plausibly have done (DADT repeal, Sotomayor on the Supreme Court), and as you point out, the compromises he's made are not too dissimilar from what even FDR had to make.

    I have criticized him at times for putting too much emphasis on bipartisanship, and I stand by that criticism. Comparing him to Bush or condemning him for failing to do things that were politically impossible, no -- that would be ridiculous.

    Don't forget, too, that Obama is supporting the move to reform the Senate filibuster rule, which was the biggest single reason all those compromises had to be made in the first place. Had the rules not given 40 Republicans plus Lieberman a de facto veto, the public option (for example) as part of HCR would have been a reality. In January there will be a chance to fix that problem. It's attention to pragmatic issues like that, not macho rhetoric about "standing tough" and refusing to compromise, that gets the job done.

    I've seen some of those ugly epithets from the left that you cite, and I was stunned. Yes, we really do have a fringe which is as sick and infantile as the teabaggers -- and maybe even racist as well, in some cases, though that's not an accusation to be made lightly.

    The good news is, there aren't very many of them. Despite all the noise they make in the blogosphere, they aren't representative of the broad mass of liberals. The loony left may be getting as bad as the loony right, but it's a lot smaller.

  14. I've made my share of nasty comments towards the right and I admit it. I came from a nasty blog community before finding this one.

    It's just my experience that dumbing down works in the political arena. Attack ads work. Innuendo works.

    I think I've relayed a few stories to you about some of the crap I pulled Leslie. Crap that worked though.

    I admit to being tough on the President but I also feel it's been justified and I have said what I'd do differently. Obama is from Illinois and he know how things are done here. "Nut cutting" is the main strategy point.

    I hope anything I've written anout President Obama doesn't strike you as vulgar or racially bias.

  15. OMG
    So now it has come to this?
    If the Left-Far Left criticizes the president.
    Then we are racist?
    This is too much.
    See Ya.

  16. Beautiful post Leslie.. Thank you for saying what I didn't have the words to say.

  17. Infidel - are you inferring that some people on the left match your vitriol against Muslims?

  18. RZ: Robert Borosage, John Nichols, and Katrina Vanden Heuvel -- to name three prominent members of the left -- have all written approvingly of the teabaggers economic populism and either downplay or flat out ignore the racist basis of teabaggery. Alexander Cockburn has been touting the economic populism line for twenty or so years. Nichols wrote an article that virtually endorsed Nancy Pelosi's Republican opponent (a guy who makes and Ron and Rand Paul look sane) and recently carried on about how great the Republican moderates are.

    I grew up around teabagger types in South Texas. They're not only irredeemably bigoted and ignorant, they're proud of it. You might as well make common cause with a rattlesnake because you live under the same hot sun. All that will happen is that you'll wind up bitten and burned.

  19. Infidel, as you imply, the Senate has become dysfunctional. Structurally, it is a mess: 41 senators representing 10% of the population can block any bill they want; 60 senators representing 25% of the population can pass any bill they want. In practice, this hasn't happened and won't, but it does paint a picture of the extreme institutional bias toward small rural states. Another way of looking at it: There's one senator per 18.5 million Californians and one per 190,000 Wyomingites.

  20. Leslie,
    I'd missed your point about being objective about Obama, yes I can be objective about any politician who seems to be honest and who acts in the public interest. Ron Paul is anathema to most Democrats, yet I support him and have despised Obama since he first announced his candidacy.

    Is it race based? Absolutely.Obama supports illegal wars which kill Brown people, Paul opposes those wars. Obama had voted to fund policy to kill Brown people in Iraq and Gaza, Paul opposes that policy.

    That's why I disliked him from the get-go, same reason I disliked Clinton and McCain and Huckabee.They all have no problem with killing innocent people who look like my family members.

    Had Obama changed course and brought the troops home, threatened to cut off aid to Israel if the tail didn't stop wagging the dog, would my opinion of him change? Hell yes I'd get his face tattooed on my back.

    If Obama hadn't pushed healthcare/financial reform hard then dialed both back to nothing I'd be in his corner there too, in both cases he delivered what the finance/insurance industries paid for.

    Did you liberals miss the 725 billion $ military spending bill the house just passed? Think Obama was against it? Did you guys catch the Pelosi Kabuki to kill the unemployment extension so Obama could get his way on the tax cut bill?

    working people and minorities aren't the Democrat base anymore, corporate campaign contributors are. Same base as the republicans.

    Criticizing war and bailing out bankers is the right thing to do. Liberals USED to feel that way. Now they support wars and bailouts, as long as it's a Democrat killing and bailing.

  21. There’s an advantage to coming a little late to a post and reading everyone’s comments. The one thing gleaned from each is that person believes strongly in his/her stance – to the exclusion of party unity.

    In all comments there is the assumption Obama is OUR president. He is not. He is president of the United States of America and all its citizens.

    First, Leslie, I know you wanted to get this post right, and you did. You are urging a principled and moral high ground in partisan debate and discourse. I believe we all agree with your premise and have not yet regressed to “Lord of the Flies” fisticuffs.

    One thing that has bothered me across the liberal/progressive blogosphere is the disdain for “wealthy Americans” Liberals and conservatives have different interpretations of the “American dream” John Boehner likes to exalt. We aren’t going to win anyone to our side by bashing that dream as some see it.

    However noble our collective and individual goals for our country might be, we are not selling them to the American people. And, we are not winning friends and influencing people. Will there come a day when the Democratic National Convention will meet in a phone booth?

    On 16 December, USA Today/Gallup reported “The political composition of U.S. adults held fairly steady in 2010 compared with 2009. Conservatives remained the largest ideological group, at 40%, followed by moderates (35%) and then liberals (21%).”

    I strongly supported Hillary Rodham Clinton. When Barack Obama became the nominee of my Party, I laid aside any preconceived notions of his ability and began to see in him the possibilitiy of a “uniter” after eight years of Bush. He made it clear before he was elected that he had read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals” (as have I). From that book he took a dream from Lincoln of working in a bipartisan way.

    While we are looking at history, Lincoln’s “team” was excellent, but the lofty dream of working together ended in a bloody civil war.

    We elected a leader with great potential. To be honest, it was my hope that we now had a president who, unlike his predecessor, would be president to all Americans. That, in my opinion, is what Mr. Obama is trying to be. I just don’t think he expected to be blindsided by his base.

    We accuse conservatives of being one-issue voters – “God, guns, gays, abortion” – but are we becoming like them?

    Have we forgotten the 90-plus significant accomplishments of Obama’s first year in office alone?

    Frankly, I wouldn’t have his job for a king’s ransom, the Queen’s jewels and all the tea in China.


  22. An interesting discussion. I would be nice if all disagreements over government policy could be conducted in a civil manner without personal attacks.

    But it can't. There will always be a few on both sides that will rant, rave, attack, and lie. That's life.

    But it also serves a purpose. Do you think we would have gotten out of Vietnam when we did if people didn't take to the streets? Do you think we would be facing the conservative political climate we do now if Teabaggers had not taken to the streets? Do you think we would still be in Afghanistan and Iraq if extremists were in the streets now? They are not because there is no draft -- and there won't be one for that very reason.

    The center makes the rules. The extremists push the center a little to the left or a little to the right. It goes back and forth, and it goes back and forth in part due to the extremists on both sides. And part of extremism is loud, obnoxious, and even lies.

    Live with it!

  23. Good morning, America. My, my, my. And I just erased a rather wordy comment, so let me grab another cup of coffee and try again. Have a seat.

    OK. The only reason I brought up FDR and LBJ legislation was to illustrate to all the people comparing Obama to them and other presidents, that they 1) have a romanticized notion of history based on illusion - or delusion; 2) no president gets everything they want and they do have to "compromise" - or as the far-left refers to it, go whoring. 3) that Social Security when it first passed was nowhere near as comprehensive as it is today. I was concerned - and for good reason - that we would get into the pros and cons of every bill that has been passed. Specific pieces of legislation is not the point here - only the context in which they were passed.

    Frankly, I prefer a president who tries to govern for ALL the people and not for just one small group, even if that means I don't get everything I want NOW.

    I wasn't happy with the term "far-left" but I wanted to separate them from Liberals, Progressives, Democrats. The far-left, imo, are extremists and have all the same characteristics as any other extremist group: denial, paranoia, rigidity, "it's all about me and what I want," projection, intolerance, etc.

    "The more heatedly we protest and complain about right-wing malice and ignorance, the more we are likely to be covering up (defending against) recognition of our own contribution to the nation's political, economic, and social distress."

    This is a very good "psychological profile" of the far-left:

    I don't believe I accused anyone of being racist but, as indicated, I'm wondering, or pondering it. Again, remember how we accuse the extreme and not-so-extreme right of denying their racism? Here's Ishmael Reed's take:

  24. Leslie,
    Ishmael's point is well made. When Obama sided with the Black educator against the cop who harassed him, he subjected himself to wide criticism.Caution in wanting to appear the "angry Black man" is the proper course to not alienate independents with racist tendencies.I'd submit however that Obama has the speaking talent to carry a message to people without feeding racism, witness his luncheon performance against Republicans awhile back.

    I've never felt he was a "compromiser" and would never claim he lacked the balls to carry forth policy, I think he demonstrates he has balls by carrying forth the corporate policy corporate interests want. He's an excellent politician who delivers Republican policy and yet most liberal Democrats love him for it.Very smart man.

    I DO describe him with obscenities in the same manner I describe all politicians who work for corporate rather than human interests.

    The fact that some of the people here are fine with the deaths of innocent people is truly appalling to me. I understand realism, I don't understand debating the fine points of policy between two supporters of dropping white phosphorus on children without acknowledging both Clinton and Obama are disgusting people.

  25. Great post Leslie... I wish I had more to add that hasn't been said, but sometimes it is better to let the ideas sit a stew a bit...

    Have a great Christmas, holidays, solstice...

  26. Dmarks: you constantly insult my intelligence by coming here and leaving one-line zingers that are taken out of context and offer no real content in relation to the post or to the comments. To respond would be a waste of my time and everyone else’s.

    Oso said, “My personal opinion is, Obama had it EASIER than any president has ever had it coming into office. He followed our worst president ever, and only had to not screw up as badly and he'd look good by comparison. Instead he chose to mirror the same crony capitalist/war supporter policy as Bush. “

    I don’t agree with you and think you are unwilling to or refusing to look at anything through a broader perspective than your own narrow little preconceived notions. I hate war and I hate a lot of other things. In other words, we probably share the same goals but not the methods. I happen to think that my approach is a little more realistic because I understand that it can’t be all my way and to keep harping on the same talking points is fruitless. There comes a time to move on.

    Infidel said, “On the one hand, Obama campaigned as a centrist pragmatist, and no one really had any right to expect him to be anything else.” And, “I have criticized him at times for putting too much emphasis on bipartisanship…”

    I feel exactly the same way. It's a perfect illustrattion that many people have selective hearing and a lot of tunnel vision to go with it.

    “I've seen some of those ugly epithets from the left that you cite, and I was stunned. Yes, we really do have a fringe which is as sick and infantile as the teabaggers -- and maybe even racist as well, in some cases, though that's not an accusation to be made lightly.”

    No it’s not and I’m treading very gently as well as cautiously. But “denial” is a cross characteristic of the extremes. Think about how the far right denies they’re racisim. For whatever reasons, I think they honestly don’t see it and I just wonder sometimes if the far-left might not have the same issues. I AM BY NO MEANS SAYING THAT ALL THE PEOPLE ON THE FAR-LEFT ARE RACIST.

    I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of being “restrained.” ; ) I had to work extra hard on this one.

    Truth: “I've made my share of nasty comments towards the right.”

    Haven’t we all? What I’m trying to call attention to is the left’s criticism of the right for using the very same kinds of invectives. It’s mostly about the hypocrisy.

    “I admit to being tough on the President but I also feel it's been justified and I have said what I'd do differently.”

    And you’re one of the very few who do that. You’re also open minded enough (fair) that you at least consider other thoughts and opinions.

  27. Annette: I’m delighted that you took the time to read it. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

    K: Don’t you think the people have ((always)) been disproportionately represented in Congress – a problem that has grown worse as we’ve moved from a rural society to an industrial/urban society?

    Oso: Rather than sound like a broken record, please read my last response to you – except to say that I think this is also unrealistic and a bit cycnical:

    “working people and minorities aren't the Democrat base anymore, corporate campaign contributors are”

    As bad as the mid-term election results were I think there was a lot of proof that many people were turned off and less than impressed by this big corporate money and personal wealth. Your own state was a perfect example of this.I also think that minorities – especially Blacks and Hispanics – form a huge base for the Democratic party. Asians and others not so much because they've lived in what is truly an intolerant society and are happy to be in a country where there is supposedly more freedom.

    BJ: “However noble our collective and individual goals for our country might be, we are not selling them to the American people. And, we are not winning friends and influencing people.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I think Shaw’s quote at the end of the article illustrates this better than anything I could say.

    “We accuse conservatives of being one-issue voters – “God, guns, gays, abortion” – but are we becoming like them?”

    Absolutely. It’s called tunnel vision.

    JC: “Do you think we would have gotten out of Vietnam when we did if people didn't take to the streets?”

    I thought about this as I wrote the article. I was one of those who helped organize rallies and protests in the 60s but I’m not talking about “civil disobedience.” To put it as succinctly as I know how, I’m talking about the narrow mindedness, hypocrisy, historical and political ignorance and naievite, and yes – the ugly vitriol – of people on the far-left. But you’re right about the center making the rules – but the extremes, a rather small group in comparison – cannot accept the will of the majority. The right still refuses to accept Obama’s election by the majority just as the far-left refuses to accept the will of the majority who approve, maybe not happily, the passage of the tax bill.

  28. Dave: ame to you and thanks for reading.

  29. Wow! Reading all of this made Tiny's head spin.
    She has a short and to the point comment: Unity of purpose is better than detrimental division.

    With detrimental division, few will benefit from anything. A unity of purpose will benefit the welfare and well being of the masses of the people, which is supposed to be the business of government.

    The question each must ask self, and ultimately answer, "to which one will I expend my time, energy and talents?" Each must answer for one's own self.

  30. I wish to thank everyone who has commented on this piece - even those who may not agree with me. The respect you've shown for each other and for your diverse opinions has contributed to an interesting and exciting dialogue. No name calling, no character assassination - just the open exchange of ideas. This is what blogging should be about and it is what makes it all worthwhile to me. I may not agree with all of you all of the time but I sure learn from you.

  31. I found K. comment inregards to economic populism and the Tea Party interesting...

    I cannot help but believe that the anger and frustration on both the right and left along with the wild swings between Republican and Democrats in the elections of 2004 to 2010 is attempts of a populace searching for change...

    I find parts of the Tea Party attractive and yet I find the whole movement so repulsive as a whole...

    The dynamics cannot help but lead somewhere but the question is where...

    I just find the fact that Obama holds Reagan up in respect and then criticizes FDR inaccurately on numerous occasions very puzzling...

    I keep getting the feeling that he is attempting to find a common ground to end the partisanship but it might not be seems that we are splintering up...the Tea Party, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, and shortly a few on the left...

    Something is going on in our country...maybe its a redefining of parties; its not like we have not had new parties in the past or that the parties have flipped flopped over time...

    There really is no rhyme or reason to much of what goes on today....I know one thing, it isn't going to settle down anytime soon...

  32. Remarkable! Who would have thunk a lame duck Congress would have ended with this many accomplishments: An extension of unemployment benefits, the repeal of DADT, passage of the food safety bill, and the likely passage of the START treaty. If Jane Hamsher had her way, Congressional Democrats and Republicans would be locked in mortal combat, and none of this would have happened.

    There is much to be admired in the patient and pragmatic approach – in contrast to being dogmatic and self-sabotaging. I will say this of folks who allow themselves to get angry in any debate: If you feel you must trade on anger to win an argument, then you have defaulted on any claim to win by persuasion.

  33. I'm confused, too! I don't think of myself as a lefty but I guess I am and always have been a liberal. I tripped across my HS senior yearbook (1965) and found a message from my history/gov't teacher: To a good liberal. I'm just tired of the wingnuts on both sides. And I'm waiting for Obama to realize that the GOP doesn't want to play nice and would rather play silly a**ed games than give us ordinary mortals what we need. If they cut/gut my Social Security/Medicare, I might as well make myself some Jonestown kool-aid and I know lots of others who feel the same way.

  34. "I don't think of myself as a lefty but I guess I am and always have been a liberal."

    I guess there is a difference between a lefty and a liberal, but I'm not so sure what it is.

  35. I'm not sure what anything is. I just got blasted out of the water over at the Swash Zone for using the term "far-left." I expected some criticism when I posted this but not this kind of petty shit that went on most of the day. As I've said, blogging is not a popularity contest. Right now I feel as if I smell like I haven't had a bath in a year.

  36. Oso: It's okay to be angry and it's certainly okay for you to disagree and have your own interpretations of things, but it is not okay to insult people on my blog. I'm sorry, but I have decided to delete your comment. You are most welcome to post it again but without that last paragraph.

  37. Is it petty because you don't agree? I looked back through today's(12/21) comments. I'm not sure why you are feeling unclean -- at least from your own site. I haven't looked at Swash Zone.

  38. JC: In my very humble opinion, there was too much ado about nothing - I mean blown way out of proportion and it went on and on. And it had absolutely nothing to do with the content. And then someone else chastised me because I didn't provide links when I quoted those epithets from the left - not from the right, mind you - and I hadn't substantiated my thesis.

    So, maybe you guys shouldn't take anything for granted here because it's obvious I made it all up. Now I'm going to take a bath. ; )

  39. Leslie,
    It is late (later for you than for me) and we both should be in bed. I have a lot of respect for your opinion. I have found that as the number of comments expands, the content tends to drift and often does become "petty". I apologize if I have contributed to that pettiness.

    I have taken a quick look at Swash Zone and scanned the comments. Unfortunately, when you still up emotions, pettiness and nastiness tends to float to the top, as does other "stuff".

    I give you credit for voicing your true opinion.

  40. I think it's a fine line, Jerry, and I get tired of people who use either with the inflection that implies that either is an dirty word.

    I worked on my now ex-congressman's campaign this fall (huge sad sigh) and one of his interns said, "You're not a liberal! You're a raving liberal!" Whatever that means. If it means I'm an unrepentant and vocal liberal, that's okay by me because I can't deny either. I grew up in a blue collar union family and my dad was prez of his local.

    Tnlib: I hope I didn't say anything to offend you. I mostly agree with you -- it's part of your charm -- and I learn a lot. I haven't been over to the Swash Zone and I'm wondering if I should.

  41. Re FDR comparisons: I get tired of them because the people making them either don't know or won't say that most New Deal programs were segregated or whites-only. They had to be or the southern part of Roosevelt's coalition wouldn't have supported them, in which case they wouldn't have happened at all.

    Similarly, one reason why FDR didn't pursue national health insurance was because of opposition from segregationists who knew that this would lead to integrated hospitals. Did this make FDR the moral equivalent of Jefferson Davis? Of course not: He did what he had to do to get what he could get. That's what politicians do.

    When the left criticizes Obama for compromising with conservatives, they're criticizing him for doing exactly what their greatest hero did.

  42. Re Senate makeup, the Senate was created in large part to protect the interests of small states. But (I believe) at the time the smallest state was 1/12 the size of the largest state. Now it's something like 1/60.

  43. Labels are interesting, Kay. We both grew up in "union families" and my Dad was active in his local also. But it was not blue collar. He was an entertainer, but also a strong supporter of the union movement and an Adlai Stevenson supporter when everyone else was on the Eisenhower bandwagon. As a musician he always worked in an integrated business. In fact, he was often the minority. He respected talent and ability in all colors.

  44. Tiny & TAO: Two great comments. Thanks!

    Don’t want to get too far off topic, BUT in response to K.’s FDR comments, the South for ages hated Republicans, because they were the administrators of Reconstruction (Carpetbaggers & Scalawags included). It took Lee Atwater’s brilliant “Southern Strategy” to turn the South in favor of Richard M. Nixon, and isn’t it interesting that the South has so much power now as a Republican voting bloc? Atwater, by the way, died of a brain tumor at age 39 and apologized before he died for his tactics. Among his protégés are Donald Segretti, one of the Watergate “ratf*ckers,” and Karl Rove.

    Leslie will explain when she’s up and at it again, but her comment about needing a bath was about comments on The Swash Zone, NOT on this post. She made that clear in her statement. This post and comments have been a revealing microcosm of the liberal/progressive world. I think we’ve all learned from them.


  45. Red-faced. No offense to TAO, but that should have read: “Tiny & Octopus:” two great comments. Thanks! :-b BJ

  46. JC, luv: You have never been petty, irreverant maybe, but not petty. ; ) I used to be pretty rigid about staying on topic back in the early days - verbal conversations tend to drift from one subject to another afterall. But this was relentless and there was a lot of academic snobbery. Having grown up with that kind of thing I have a pretty short fuse when I come across it.

    My dastardly crimes? Using the term "far-left" and not providing links from quoted left epithets!!! Interestingly, nothing about the lack of links from those on the right. Started with the 2nd comment and was still going on the last one, #46. Oh well.

    Kay: It's all a matter of a person's perspective, I think. And no, you have never offended me. In fact nobody has.

    K: Thanks for pointing that out re ye old South and FDR. I didn't want to get into it in the article because I had so much else to talk about but I'm glad you mentioned it here.

    JC: Your dad sounds interesting. What kind of entertainment? I have a feeling it had something to do with music?

    BJ: Thanks. I think it's obvious I hit a raw nerve, and just like the right, the critics try to divert attention from the topic at hand. Interesting, huh?

  47. Leslie, your feeling is correct. He was a musician, big bands in the 30's and 40's, radio, TV, and hotels after that.

  48. tnlib,
    I've been out of the loop for a few days, but I want to commend you on this good post. With BJ, I note the civility of tone (in contrast to SZ)and I've appreciated the comments.

    While it sometimes sticks in my craw, I support Mr. Obama's efforts to be America's president. I, too, was a Clinton worker and did not take to Mr. Obama immediately. I've since come to admire his restraint and implacability. I have no idea if his tax compromise will work for good or ill. Certainly, corporate America has held out long and hard, refusing to play ball until they get what they want...a game of brinkmanship that has worn out all our nerves.

    Like most of my generation, I'm not sanguine about 2011, nor am I resigned. There's big work ahead and I personally haven't got time or energy to waste in unnecessary conflict. As you so rightly note, it is not in most cases a conflict of policy so much as one of practices.

    Thank you for your hard, hard work on this post and the commentary.

  49. Nance: Have missed seeing you around. I have to admit that my mouth sort of shrivels up when I think of SZ. Not fun. Anyway, thanks for stopping by. I'm kind of in the same position you're in but just look what's been done within the last few days - unheard of in a lame duck session. Of course, when those newbies come in, it will be a whole new ball game. But I really think most middle-of-the-road Republicans are getting sick and tired of the obstructionism and want their reps to get up and get moving. Let's hope so anyway.

  50. This is an excellent post, tnlib, and I greatly respect your position. That said, I'll proceed to some nit picking. :)

    I long ago felt uneasy in a raucous crowd reading DailyKos, and gave it up. If I understand that blog correctly, its contributors are in a constant competition for followers. Those who don't win followers get voted off the island, so to speak. That setup tends to reward and promote the most far-out, strident voices. So, nastiness and extreme positions are to be expected there. I similarly tired of some of the hard-line condemnation and free-flowing obscenities at FDL, although some of the posts are very good.

    What happened to the photographer at dKos was uncalled for and inexcusable. IMO, Greenwald has too easily become a legend in too many minds — especially his own

    "“Obama should be like LBJ was” or 'Obama needs to do what FDR did' is not too far removed from 'I want my country back.'"

    I disagree. In a time when serious, hard-hitting reforms are long overdue and desperately needed on so many fronts, I find those FDR-like desires to be obvious, appropriate and understandable.

    "LBJ never would have succeeded in getting civil rights legislation passed had it not been for Republican support. The Dixiecrats, led by Strom Thurmond, did everything in and out of the book to block it."

    If memory serves me, in one of the most spectacular political coups any president has ever pulled off, LBJ got Sen. James O. Eastland of Mississippi on board. Aside from being a hard-line segregationist from a state as hard line about that as it was possible to be, Eastland was a power on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and very influential. His support brought some other Southern Democrats on board too, which was crucial to getting the legislation passed.

    I have waxed both deeply disappointed and sharply critical of Obama of late. Not with personal condemnation, racist remarks or ugly name calling, but critical nonetheless. As a short and short-fused Air Force sergeant of my acquaintance was given to saying, "Nobody gets a pass for screwing up."

    Obama, Reid and Senate Democrats have scored some dramatic wins this week. For those I thank and applaud them. But there have been screw-ups in some critically important matters from the get-go. The early ones I tended to gloss over as rookie mistakes. Long about last summer, it was time to get past the rookie stage and fight standing up. Too often instead, we saw replays of things that didn't work in the past not working again. The worst of those was "reaching out," only to get some more fingers amputated.

    Muddling and half measures aren't improved by complacent solidarity from blindly loyal followers. Few will continue to ardently support a leader with a habit of lying down in front of people who want to wipe their shoes. That's not just politics, but human nature.

    More troubling, some Obama policies emulate not FDR but GWB — including persisting with no-win wars, compromising things in the Bill of Rights, giving wrongdoers a "Get Out of Jail Free" card without them even having to ask.

    Those deserve skepticism and criticism, and I will call 'em as a I see 'em.

  51. SW: LOL. Nit-picky you're not. If you want to see nit-picking, go over to Swash Zone and read some of the comments there!

    I appreciate the insight into dKos. I wasn't aware of any of that. FDL does have the occasional good story but, imo, it isn't worth the time to sift through all the rot. I know you (me and others) have been critical of Obama but it's usually calm, well reasoned and constructive - not vicious vitriol with no ideas put forth suggesting how or what he should have done instead. And you don't harp on the same damn talking points ad infinitum like a schoolyard chant.

    I actually don't disagree with what you've said but people like Eastland had to have been willing to cooperate in the first place. The Republicans these days are a different can of worms and I'm not even sure LBJ, great politician that he was, could have found a way to break down this dedicated, well-organized wall of resistence.

    I think people keep overlooking this all too obvious fact and sweeping it under the rug. I also think Obama is not as flamboyant as LBJ, and that he does a lot more in the background than we know about.

    I'm equally disturbed about Obama's emulating GWB in some cases and in one area in particular. A personal friend and blogger is focused on the eating away of our civil liberties and what he shares scares the pants off of me.

    It's too bad we don't have a Sam Rayburn in our midst, eh?

    Anyway, it's not the disagreements and the criticisms of the president that I'm talking about or that bother me. It's the language and the tactics. We accuse the right of not bending and of being "ugly" - well, the far-left is no better. If I were to close my eyes and some anonymous source were to read statements from both extremes, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. THAT'S what disturbs me.

  52. S.W is exactly right in his assessment; we had a huge mandate, and we allowed that mandate to be co-opted, and then killed, by a 40% minority. There is nothing at all wrong with comparing the behavior of the Obama Administration with that of LBJ, or FDR, or even Harry S. Truman. The President is feeling the raindrops from a storm he largely formed up himself.

    The cave-in on the wealth transfers to the rich are very, very dangerous to all of us-not just because of the potential gutting of Social Security, but also of the very real danger that the credit rating of the USA is going to take a big hit. In fact, Russia and China have already reached a bilateral agreement to conduct their exchanges with their own currencies, which is the first of many assaults to come on the dollar. The fact that gasoline has gone back to $3 a gallon in spite of dropping demand is in no small part due to the belief among traders that the value of the dollar is going to continue to fall.

    Yes, the President has accomplished some good things-but on the huge promises, the ones that got a lot of us to vote for him in the 2000 primary cycle, he's either allowed the legislation to be watered down, or punted and let the Rushpubliscums dictate the terms. I'm not going to overlook this, and I am going to be looking for signs in the next couple of months that the President has, at long last, come to the realization that you don't play nice with Stalinists. If he learns this, then I'll acknowledge it. But don't expect me to ignore it if he doesn't.

  53. JR: Either you don't get it or you don't want to get it. I've made my point so damn clear a three-year-old chimpanzee should be able to get it by now - or maybe even the first time around.

  54. Feel pretty much the same way, things are getting too intense and personal at times. For South Carolina I'm damn near a Marxist but I realize that with the rules Obama has to work with his hands are often tied.

    On the other hand, the POTUS dude does need to buy a better and stronger spine. At times I swear he only seems half-interested in the job he campaigned for so hard.

  55. BB: Yeah, I'd like to see a little more spine but we really don't see what he does. I think he likes to work behind the scenes as opposed to having all those before the camera PR sessions.

  56. Oso: I'd probably support Obama over Ron Paul if a vote ever came to that. Paul is rather racist and xenophobic. Have you ever read Paul's rants about how it is good to fear black men? It's enlightening.

    I'm glad that Obama knows what is going on and continues the quite legal retaliation against the terrorists (who are white, not brown), and doesn't give in to calls from the neo-Nazi element and throw Israel to the wolves.

    Also, I don't see Obama pushing to strip citizenship from Americans because their parents committed a crime. This is something Paul is pushing for.

  57. K: "Oso, for the record, I don't like No Child Left Behind because I think the basing education policy on standardized testing is wrongheaded"

    I like it it because it is an excellent idea to hold schools (and teachers) which are shirking their duty and doing a lousy job accountable.

    It's time to put the students first. There's no excuse for doing a lousy job. If the schools were doing their job, they'd have no problem having students pass these basic tests.

  58. I am late to this discussion because I have taken a break from blogging, but I am glad that I finally joined you.

    Vicious rhetoric had the predictable result today in my adopted state, Arizona, with the shooting of 18 people (nine have died) including the best Senator Arizona ever had. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head, but has survived surgery and the prognosis is good. The target of the shooter was to assassinate her, as had been reported.

    The ease with which Arizona has made it possible to get, and carry, a concealed weapon is part of the problem, but the unprincipled liars like Sarah Palin who targeted Gaby with her unconscionable smears and ugly rhetoric are as guilty of pulling the trigger as the insane 22 year old who did the dirty deed. Words do have consequences and this tragedy is living proof of that statement.

  59. Darlene: I cannot tell you how sorry I am. Having lived through the Columbine shooting when I was in Denver I do know exactly how you feel. And you are so right in everything you say. I'm going to put up a post and will use part of your comment here. It is so damn awful.