Rachel Maddow

Culture war economics

by: Paul Rosenberg

Fri Jan 28, 2011 at 09:00

Opening yesterday's show, Rachel Maddow devoted a good deal of detailed argument to making the point that the Republican Party is deeply committed to the culture wars, even as it pretends to be all about the economy.  Given how this conflicts with the existing conventional wisdom--and how much evidence there is to support it, it's an important argument to make. Here's the first part of her opening segment--before she calls on Michael Steele as her guest to discuss it. But I would take this argument even farther: I would argue that the way Republicans are approaching the economy is itself an extension of the culture wars.  First, here's Rachel:

Now consider these facts about how Republicans have approached the economy:

(1) The GOP has abandoned the traditional bipartisan support for unemployment insurance, and now are arguing that unemployed workers are lazy and shiftless--the same sorts of attributions traditionally made toward minorities during times when white workers are near full employment, but not made during times of general recession and high unemployment are now being made about all workers during a time of extraordinarily high unemployment.  (For example, in Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy, Martin Gilens presented the results of a survey of photo-representations of the unemployed, and found that during recessions and the following periods of high unemployment there were far more white people pictured than otherwise.)

(2) The just-released conclusions of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report clearly put the blame on the failure of establishment institutions and authorities along with elite financial actors, but all the Republicans refused to go along with this, choosing instead to blame minority homeownership and the government programs and actions that enabled it--an interpretation of the facts that is clearly false, as shown in this late-October diary.  Blaming minorities and liberal governments programs that assist them is classic culture war material.

(3) As described in Tuesday's diary, "GOP: Obama won't be crazy enough on cutting spending in SOTU", current GOP attitudes, not only opposing Keyensian spending policies, but also Friedmanite monetary expansion, have roots in late 19th Century culture war politics valorizing the gold standard and treating paper money as a corrupting influence. From Mike Konczal, as quoted in that diary:

Paper money decreases the power of the husband over his wife and the father over his family, loosens the natural leadership that serves as the best protection against "effeminate" manners, and gives us a democracy without nobility.

Which is to say, if you are a person who tends to use a capital N "Natural" to describe your political ideology ("I believe in a Natural Order with a Natural Hierarchy, which I get from my engagement with Natural Rights as observed through Natural Law...."), as many conservatives do, then you are going to be likely to think that the dollar is a Natural Thing too. Like women wearing pants and voting, any attempt to disrupt the Natural Order is going to be dangerous. That the value of a dollar is a social creation, and that if there is excessive demand for money the government should provide extra supply for money, isn't going to be a convincing argument.

There are more examples, of course. But these indicative examples should suffice to show why you shouldn't expect any sort of rational debate on economic matters--thay've all been swallowed up and incorporated into the culture wars.

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Barack Obama & the 92% illusion

by: Paul Rosenberg

Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:00

Last night, Rachel Maddow began with a very sharp insightful bit of commentary, at least for the first 4 1/2 minutes, pointing out that were Eisenhower to run to day, he'd have to do so as a Bernie Sanders-style independent.  And she pointed out that this was because America's political spectrum had been pulled far to the right by an organized conservative movement outside of the Republican Party:

Where she went wrong after this point was by claiming that Obama--unlike Clinton--had claimed the center without moving to the right, without triangulation.  Well, I've already weighed in saying that Obama is engaged in quintangulation, so you know I'm going to disagree here.  But the point is not so much about Obama's rhetoric, because I'd even be willing to agree with Maddow for the sake of argument.

But rhetoric is ultimately not what matters most.  What matters is what you actually do.  And the tax deal Obama struck with the GOP during the lame duck section was a much more massive chunk of triangulation than anything that I think Clinton would have gone along with.  And that's just one (admittedly very large) element in how Obama is moving substantially to the right.

If you want to understand what's going on here, I would argue that you need to recognize a few basic things.  First is that the American people have not moved sharply to the right over the past 50-odd years.  Here's a chart of the broadest academic measure of public policy mood, compiled by James Stimson of UNC Chapel Hill:

Second, you need to realize that this is not a measure of all political attitudes.  It is limited to those issues that cycle between preferences, such as lower taxes vs. more services.  It does not include shifts in basic values, so-called "valence issues" of equality regarding race and gender, for example.  So what we see here is a long-term fluctuation of trade-off preferences--not a unidirectional trend--and it all takes place in the more liberal region of policy space (currently close to 60% liberal).  What we don't see here is dramatically more liberal, and is a pretty dramatic trend, going from norms of accepting racial segregation & the second-class status of women in the 1950s, with homosexuality as something not even talked about in polite society to having had a black and a woman as the two leading candidates in the Democratic primary last time around, with gay marriage slowly being established in state after state around the country.

Third, you need to realize that although attitudes on valence issues of identity--race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.--have shifted dramatically to the left, a large minority is extreme uncomfortable, even threatened by this, notwithstanding their outward acceptance.  This manifests in terms of cultural resentment, which cannot generally be honestly expressed, because it's no longer considered socially acceptable to have the public attitudes that correspond to the relatively unchanged deep-seated feelings.  This is the basis on which grassroots conservative movement has been organized since the 1970s.

Fourth, the grassroots resentments are further fueled by the other conservative shift--the massive concentration of wealth, which has choked off opportunity for the great mass of the American people--a phenomena readily blamed on subordinate racial, ethnic and gender groups.  And this conservative shift--consolidating increased economic and political power into the hands of an increasingly small and concentrated elite of oligopoly powers, largely exempt from the very "free market" they celebrate in rhetoric.

Finally, as I pointed out Tuesday in "GOP: Obama won't be crazy enough on cutting spending in SOTU " the recent abandonment of 70 years of empirical economic experience in the wake of the Great Recession has roots in the identity politics and culture wars of the McKinley era.  Meaning, in essence, that the two wings of the conservative movement have converged, without ever winning over the mass of the American people in terms of basic policy preferences.

Rather than successfully opposing this--as Maddow claims--Obama has accomodated himself, and worked tirelessly to redifine liberalism or progressivism in terms of a neo-liberal vision that is, at bottom, aimed at implementing conservative policies in a more technocratically competent manner, with a "human face" that makes it far more palatable to those whose rights and interests are being continually eroded.

The end result of all this is that America's political elite is as out of touch with the American people as the elites in Tunisia, Egypt, or any other Arab nation whose dictatorship we prop up.  The Democrats have been stifled, corrupted and compromised, while the GOP is barely able to keep its id in check, and so Obama is able to float above them all, getting 80 and 90% approval for what he says in his State of the Union.  But when it comes to actually solving the problems that we face, there is nothing seriously on the elite agenda that can reven remotely come close to getting the job done.  And so first Tunisia, now Egypt beckon to us as the face of our future.

Win that, Mr. President.

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The failure of voodoo economics in pictures

by: Paul Rosenberg

Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 16:30

Rachel Maddow had to STAND UP on Real Time in order to get a word in edgewise to challenge one more repetition of the conservative myth that Reaganomics worked miracles with the American economy--that his tax cuts were "the greatest economic policy of the last 30 years".  (Repeated here by the Wall Street Journal's Steve Moore.)  She has to battle Moore's attempt to ignore what Reagan did to the deficit, and she has to refute the notion that Reagan produced a boom of economic growth for all, distinguishing between what happened for the top 1%, who really did experience happy times, and rest of the economy, for whom average wages barely budged.

Maddow later got an assist from Reagan budget director David Stockman, who, after all, was there.  There was also a pretty cool discussion of gun control, with Stockman--tying into what Keynes said about gold--saying that guns were a barbarous relic and should be banned!

But I wanted to just underscore the enormous magnitude of Steve Moore's pathological big lies, so I put together a few charts, and resurrected an oldie.  We simply can't let up on calling them on their endless lies. First the clip:

Now the charts. First, a chart showing that Rachel got it exactly right--the top 1% did great under Reagan, but average incomes went nowhere.  Here I use Emmanuel Saez's compilations of IRS data, and a figure that differs ever-so-slightly from average incomes--the aggregate total of the bottom 99%--but that I find much more visceral and clarifying:

Here's the same data, translated into percent increase from 1980:

And since Moore also said something about "20 years", here's the 20-year picture:

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The circus is in town

by: Paul Rosenberg

Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 09:00

Yes, House Republicans really are a joke, as this run-down of their first 33 hours by Rachel Maddow clearly demonstrates:

So the question is, quite simply, how did this pack of jokers ever get elected?  There is plenty of Democratic incompetence behind it--much moreso in the White House and on the Senate side, although the House ended up paying the higher price.

But an absolutely key ingredient was the media practice of "balance", by which Republians are able to sieze an ever-greater advantage by making ever-more ludicrous arguments, which the media will then treat as "serious" in order to maintain their "balance". I mean, Death panels?  Obama's a Kenyan? Muslim? Nazi? Socialist?  Somewhere during the 2008 campaign, the GOP went totally bonkers, and the media went with them, in order to retain their "balance."  And this is the Monty Pythonesque House of Representatives that we have as a result.

Death to balance.  Long live truth!

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Big Brother, small government: Texas shows how

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sun Dec 12, 2010 at 11:00

The following segment from Rachel Maddow on Friday was the perfect demonstration of what small government conservatism is all about:

I'm sure Rick Perry's First Amendment rights are being violated here, if only Carrie Prejean or Sarah Palin were here to explain how.

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The WMDs of job creation

by: Paul Rosenberg

Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 09:00

Is the conservative approach to job creation as deluded as attacking Iraq in response to 9/11?  Or is it even more deluded?  Either way, it's conceptually similar, in that rationale offered is an excuse, not a reason.  The neocons wanted a new Cold War, and in "Rebuilding America's Defenses" they frankly admitted that they needed a "new Pearl Harbor" (p. 63) to get public opinion stampeded into supporting them. On the economic side, Naomi Klein wrote a whole book, The Shock Doctrine
about how the "give the rich people all your money" scam works.  (Put people into a total panic, then hit them with an avalanche of pre-fab theories telling them "there is no alternative.")

But most particularly on job creation--and comparing the two issues that are up right now: millionaires tax cuts and unemployment insurance--the evidence is overwhelmingly against conservatives as this CBO chart (page 11, slightly modified for visual purposes) clearly shows (unemployment insurance at the top, income tax cuts at the bottom, about 1/6th as effective):

Last night, Rachel Maddow had a real economist on to refute this nonsense (although Rachel holds up a different, earlier CBO document, that has the same data in a table, not a chart):

Once again, that surreal clip from John Shaddeg's interview with Mike Barnicle went like this:

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Rachel Maddow Reminds Us Of The Real McCain

by: Cliff Schecter

Fri Nov 19, 2010 at 15:00

A little over two years ago, I wrote a book called The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don't Trust Him & Independents Shouldn't. In it, I made the then-wacky argument that McCain was not the independent, centrist, maverick, moderate, reasonable, lovable, bipartisan, angel of all our daydreams--and many a David Broder late night fantasy.

But in fact, McCain was a deeply psychologically damaged man, who legislated based upon 3 simple principles: 1) Who John McCain hates at any given time and how he can try and screw that person 2) What gets John McCain the most press 3) What is in John McCain's political interest.

Most of McCain's brief period of sanity, which extended from about 1999-2003, saw him join Democrats on everything from campaign finance reform to a patient's bill of rights, opposing Bush's tax cuts to opposing the Christian Right, supporting CAFE standards to supporting closing the gun-show loophole. But the reasons behind this transformation, as I laid out in my book, had little to do with his being a responsible man of the people, as he was portrayed virtually everywhere.  

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What's wrong with Jon Stewart's understanding of the world & what he does vs MSNBC

by: Paul Rosenberg

Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 15:00

Watching Rachel Maddow's interview of Jon Steward last night, I was struck by how reasonable both of them were trying to be. It's just too bad that neither of them--and none of us for that matter--live in a reasonable world.  At times, such reasonableness in an unreasonable world itself became quite unreasonable--as when Stewart tried to explain that it was wrong to call Bush a war criminal, even though "technically" he is.   It makes him sound like Pol Pot, Stewart explained.  

Yes. Exactly.  

If we want our presidents to not be war criminals, we need to make it sound like a bad thing.  No, make that a really bad thing.

It's a conversation-stopper, not a conversation-starter, Stewart explained.  Not a problem, I say. Arrest first, then converse.  You see, Jon, It really wasn't cable news that started the Iraq War.  It was George Bush & the neocons.  They're the ones we should take of first.  There are laws you know?

But that's just the tip of the iceberg of what's wrong with Stewart's understanding of the world.  At his "Rally to Restore Sanity", Stewart's closing speech included a warning not to call folks like the tea baggers (another term he doesn't like, even though it was it their own) racists.  Racists, apparently means folks in white robes.  But the problem, of course, is today's "Racism without Racists" (aka "Colorblind Racism) as Eduaro Bonilla-Silva explains it in Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States--a new form of racism that has an explicit disavowal of individual racism built into its very core (as in "equal opportunity, not equal results), and yet serves very neatly to keep perpetuating a hierarchy of white racial privilege in our society, even while allowing specific blacks and other minorities to succeed individually.

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva identifies four central frames at the core of colorblind racism:  "The central component of any dominant racial ideology is its frames or set paths for interpreting information," Bonilla-Silva writes.  These four are:

(1) Abstract liberalism.

The frame of abstract liberalism involves using ideas associated with political liberalism (e.g. "equal opportunity," the idea that force should not be used to achieve social policy) and economic liberalism (e.g., choice, individualism) in an abstract manner to explain racial matters.

(2) Naturalization.

Naturalization is a frame that allows whites to explain away racial phenomena by suggesting they are natural occurrences.

(3) Cultural Racism.

Cultural racism is a frame that relies on culturally based arguments such as "Mexicans do not put much emphasis on education" or "blacks have too many babies" to explain the standing of minorities in society.

(4) Minimization of Racism

Minimization of racism is a frame that suggests discrimination is no longer a central factor affecting minorities' life chances ("It's better now than in the past" or "There is discrimination, but there are plenty of jobs out there).

Abstract liberalism is what allows colorblind racists to interpret themselves as "post-racial" and anyone who keeps talking about race (such as those who actually experience racial discrimination) as "the real racists".

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Mike on Maddow: Turnout!

by: Paul Rosenberg

Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 09:00

Some late polls show registered voters give Dems the edge. Likely voters?  Not so much.  Turnout is key, so Rachel calls on our own Mike Lux:

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Weekly Pulse: Fear-mongering and Fetal Separatism in Today's Anti-Choice Movement

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 13:22

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Rachel Maddow's documentary, "The Assassination of Dr. Tiller," premiered on Monday. The film tells the story of how radical anti-choicers besieged Dr. George Tiller and his abortion clinic for decades, fostering an atmosphere that legitimized murder in the eyes of a fanatic.

Kay Steiger of Campus Progress notes that  while Tiller's colleagues blame Roeder, they hold the larger anti-choice  movement responsible for creating a climate of hate and intimidation. Roeder cultivated relationships with anti-choice terrorists, including a woman who went to jail for a botched attempt on Dr. Tiller's life. He also had links to Operation Rescue, the radical anti-abortion group that tried unsuccessfully to shut down Tiller's clinic for decades, through blockades, frivolous criminal complaints, and unrelenting harassment of clinic workers and their families.

Operation Rescue's crusade against Tiller caught the attention of conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly who excoriated Dr. Tiller on the air 28 times, dubbing him "Tiller the Baby Killer."

A federal grand jury is investigating whether Roeder was actually involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Tiller.

Ground-breaking

Vanessa Valenti of Feministing was impressed by how straightforwardly the documentary dealt with women who have abortions and doctors who provide them:

When we talk about abortion on  television ... the real lives  who are actually affected by this issue - abortion care providers and the women who have had abortions - are completely left out of the conversation. And this film was about  someone's life, a life that was dedicated to helping, to saving, other  people's lives.

Fighting back

In AlterNet, Aaron Gouveia writes about his confrontation with anti-abortion protesters who called his wife a murderer as the couple approached an abortion clinic in Brookline, MA. The couple was there to terminate a much-wanted pregnancy because doctors had learned that the fetus was suffering from "Sirenomelia," or Mermaid Syndrome, a rare congenital defect that causes the legs to fuse together. This particular fetus had no bladder or kidneys, and doctors said there was no chance of survival.

When a protester called his wife a murderer, Gouveia confronted them.

"So you're yelling at my wife for doing nothing more than having a nearly dead baby inside her?" Gouveia asked the protesters.

One of the protesters threatened to call the police on Gouveia because he was standing on the sidewalk yelling at them.

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Fetal Separatism

Lynn Paltrow has a thought-provoking essay in RH Reality Check about the radical agenda behind Amendment 62, a Colorado ballot initiative  that would declare a fertilized egg to be full-fledged human being. If Amendment 62 passes, it would outlaw abortion, in vitro  fertilization, and legally complicate any medical procedure on a  pregnant woman that might affect the well-being of her fetus.

Paltrow argues that the bill's backers should be called "Fetal Separatists":

This organization claims that its goal is to end the "injustice of  abortion." In fact they are promoting a Fetal Separatist movement, one  that is trying to legally separate pregnant women and the fertilized  eggs, embryos and fetuses inside of them. Their efforts are dangerous to  all pregnant women including those who go to term, those who expect  confidential medical care, and those who want to preserve their right to  life and liberty.

The argument that eggs and fetuses may be treated as if they are  legally independent of the women who carry them has been used to deprive  pregnant women of their status as full constitutional persons.

Supporters of the measure say they want to extend rights to eggs and fetuses, but as Paltrow points out, this kind of thinking reveals another aspect of their agenda: Diminishing the rights of pregnant women by elevating the "rights" of fetuses. Paltrow gives examples of women who were imprisoned or harassed by authorities who felt they had an obligation to control the woman to protect her fetus. In one case a woman was imprisoned in a Florida hospital because authorities thought it was the best thing for her fetus. In another incident, fetal separatist arguments advanced to justify dispatching a sheriff to the home of a woman who was attempting to have a home birth.

According to the latest poll, 20% of Coloradans support Amendment 62, 56% oppose it, and 25% remain undecided.

CO abstinence program tied to anti-gay groups in Uganda

Speaking of the religious right in Colorado, Andy Kopsa of the Colorado Independent reports that a teen abstinence program known as WAIT Training, which has received over $8 million in federal funds since 2005, has ties to a virulently anti-gay group in Uganda led by pastor Martin Ssempa.

Ssempa is one of the leading proponents of legislation known as the "Kill the Gays" bill in Uganda. The bill would not only make homosexual sex a capital offense, it would also force Ugandans to turn in their gay friends and neighbors. So far, the bill hasn't passed. The U.S. government officially opposes the legislation, but some major conservative Christian groups in the U.S. supported the bill. Of course, they now claim they didn't actually support killing LGBT people, they just wanted to help Uganda become a more godly nation.

WAIT worked with Ssempa to build a website, print business cards, and develop a video and other promotional materials. WAIT said it was unable to provide Kopsa with copies of any of the materials that it worked on with Ssempa. WAIT maintained formal ties with Ssempa until January of 2010, when they decided they didn't want to be associated with him any more, perhaps because the media scrutiny became too intense. The New York Times, the Washington Post, and other prestigious media outlets ran op/eds condemning the anti-gay bill in January of 2010.

A major Ugandan newspaper recently published a "top 100" list of alleged homosexuals under the headline "Hang Them," according to Laura Gottesdiener at the Ms. blog. Since the story ran, several of the subjects have been attacked.

The dynamic is very similar to the persecution of Dr. Tiller. First targets are identified and held up to hate and ridicule. Some are intimidated and go away. Those who don't are marked for violence.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

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Rachel Maddow: a 'Republicans vs. Democrats' distraction

by: fairleft

Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 17:34

The American economy is falling apart - but, as an election approaches, the public debate concerns the following: College pranks at Baylor in the 1980s; a high school date with a dabbler in witchcraft; the fact that someone called someone a whore; a joke about being a bearded Marxist in a college newspaper.  

 Daily Howler, October 20, 2010

Monday's Rachel Maddow Show was a good example of the problem of both 'Republican' and 'Democratic' mainstream political shows: screw serious evidence, me and my audience got some bonding to do! And, as always, Daily Howler made the point well and provocatively. The larger point I took away from his screed about Monday's show, and the Howler quote above in particular (whether or not it is/was Howler's point), is that IT IS A BIPARTISAN PROJECT to distort and distract election and political coverage away from the economic crisis and related injustices. (The Howler's main purpose, whether its author Bob Somerby realizes it or not, is to make this point with airtight specificity.)  

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Hegemonic fight-back: Rachel Maddow questions the GOPs 2010 Southern Strategy

by: Paul Rosenberg

Wed Oct 20, 2010 at 12:00

Last night, Rachel Maddow devoted not one, but two segments of her program to the GOP's embrace of a rejuvenated and re-energized Southern Strategy this year.  In doing so, she explicitly broke with the dominant Versailles "see no evil" narrative that effectively enables the GOPs resurrection of racism and thus allows it to succeed.  Here's a breakdown of the first segment into separate parts.

First, Maddow took a look back at the origins and logic of the GOP's racist "Southern Strategy", up to and including recent apologies for it from the GOP:

Then she looked at how things have suddenly changed in 2010.  There are no more "Macaca moments" this year, she noted.  Not because they don't happen, they're happening at a record pace, she goes on to explain. But they're no longer being treated as anything embarrassing or objectionable.  Instead, in a wide range of high-profile races we're seeing a strikingly clear pattern of a rebirth of the Southern Strategy:

And it's not just in high-profile races, Maddow adds at the end.  It's become a background characteristic bubbling up in all sorts of candidacies:

"This isn't a here and there one-off accidental thing happening in the elections this year. There is a ton of this stuff."

"The Barry Goldwater experience in 1964, writ large is still the great modern story of Republicans blowing an election. Republicans losing. Writ large that's the Barry Goldwater 1964 story.

Writ small, though, it is the story of Republicans learning how to wrap up the white vote. Republicans learning that strategically, mathematically, sometimes it makes sense to turn every minority voter against you--and have that be the cost you pay to wrap up all the white votes....

Does this work in 2010?  Does it work outside the South?

Well, clearly it already has worked in one sense.  Versailles has collectively decided that it's just fine and dandy, and all these folks digging it are "real Americans", not like us!

Well, for all you folks who think I've been intolerant or whatever by calling the Tea Party "racist", this is why.  Because I'm not endorsing, or even the tiniest little bit accepting that that sort of 1964 racist behavior is American.  Not any more.  We've worked too hard to rid ourselves of that.  It will always be a part of our past, of course. And we need to be quite cognizant of that--as Rachel helped us to be with this segment.  But that was never what America aspired to be at its best, and it is not what America is any longer.  And defeating those who say otherwise at the ballot box in 13 days is a huge part of what the 2010 elections are all about.

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This is what hegemony looks like--Rachel Maddow gives us a peek!

by: Paul Rosenberg

Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 13:30

I want to follow up on my previous diary, "Investigative journalist/historian warns of 40+ years of failure 'punishing Dems'", and Robert Parry's point about the progressive wrong turn in failing to build a hegemonic progressive national media structure at the same time that conservatives committed themselves to doing precisely that.

We can see the results of those two contrasting decisions very clearly reflected in a segment on The Rachel Maddow Show last night.  Look at how easily and devastatingly Maddow takes apart all the dominant campaign narratives--supposedly "objective" Versailles narratives that just happen to perfectly reflect the GOP's very own narrativs.  It's about as clear-cut an example of facts vs. hegemonic fantasy one could ever wish to see:

Of course, this is just one small speck.  ID-iot boy Chris Matthews is still the public face of MSNBC, which is still just one tiny facet of the GE/NBC behemoth.  So imagine if we had a full-fledged, multi-tiered, multi-platform, nationwide infrastructure of similarly on top of it reporters, anchors and analysts.  Imagine, in short, if the media actually were "fair and balanced."  Imagine what America would look like then.

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Why are conservatives so anti-American? Infrastructure "no we can't" edition.

by: Paul Rosenberg

Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 15:00

Just as Glenn Beck provided guidance when the elected GOP leadership was in total disarray, could Rachel Maddow do the same for Democrats & progressives?  This closing clip from yesterday's show is powerful evidence that Yes, she can!

It starts off innocently enough, with her trademarked infrastructure geekiness... which she goes on to remind us is a huge part of what America is all about.  And always has been:

But it's not even that conservatives are anti-American.  It's that movement conservatives are--and they are a very tiny fraction of the American populace.  In fact, they're a tiny fraction of American conservatives, as there's almost no difference in the levels of support for spending on basic infrastructure such as highways and bridges, the kind of spending that Maddow focused on:

[Source: General Social Survey 1972-2008]

Americans are, above all, a pragmatic people.  A get-things-done people.  A people of optimism. A people of hope.  A people of progress.  We are not quitters!

Versailles has forgotten that.  Even a presidential campaign supposedly premised on all of the above forgot it as soon as the polls closed in 2008.  But we, the people, have not forgotten that.  We have not forgotten who we are.  We have not forgotten America.

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!
          -- Langston Hughes
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Rachel Maddow on DADT: A plan that has no chance of becoming reality is not a real plan.

by: Paul Rosenberg

Thu Oct 14, 2010 at 16:30

It's not just DADT, of course.  It could be said about everything that Barack Obama has promised the Democratic base. But it's just become much clearer about DADT with the recent court decisions.  Here's the last 2/3rds or so of Maddow's closing comment from last night, and it very clearly cuts through the customary double-speak of the Obama Administration and its apologists (transcript below):

Here's the thing.  The White House line, the line from the administration on this now is that they'd like the Senate to repeal it. Absent that action, the spokesman said, absent that action, absent the Senate voting to repeal it, absent the moon crashing through the atmosphere and turning us all to green cheese--absent that action of the Senate repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the White House says there is an orderly process underway to get rid of the policy. And that orderly process is that the Senate will repeal it?

The White House is assuring everyone that the policy will end. And when you drill down on how they say it will end, they say it will end because the Senate will end it. Even though the Senate has just chosen not to end it and the Senate is poised to get more conservative not less in the imminent elections.

This is incoherence.

Outserve, the underground network of gay service personnel has reported there's a widespread perception in the military in the wake of the ruling that the court ruling against the policy yesterday means the policy is over. Service members, legal defense network has set up a website sldn.org/stillatrisk to warn the members of military to not come out that the policy is still in effect. We were told anyone coming out in the military now is absolute absolutety still at risk of being fired for doing so. It is not over.

The policy is still in effect. and the plan from the White House for ending it is apparently to count on the United States Senate to do the right thing. That's the plan.

An expert on the issue at UC Santa Barbara told the New York Times today, the thing that everybody else is dancing around and unwilling to admit. That unless the President declines to appeal the ruling in Republicans versus the United States, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy probably will remain law for years. He's right, unless you believe the U.S. Senate is going to do the right thing.

This year with John McCain still there and a slate of Republican Senate candidates that includes an activist against women even serving in the military, who once toured the country promoting the idea that being gay is curable--You know, like as if it's athlete's foot or something-Unless you believe that the United States Senate after this year's elections is going to do the right thing by gay service members-Ha!--then  the decision by the Obama Administration whether or not to appeal this ruling is likely a decision between killing this policy, now, and letting it survive probably forever.

This is not the conclusion i expected to reach after today's reporting on this subject and after today's interviews. Everybody says the Justice Department appealing this ruling is an inevitability. It does not have to be. It is not inevitable. If the Administration believes the law is unconstitutional, there is precedent that supports the administration not appealing it and letting the law die. An orderly time frame for the death of a law can be arranged with the court.

I hereby declare that i will never get another callback in Washington ever again for putting it this way to you. but it is the way it is. A plan that has no chance of becoming reality is not a real plan. No matter how much you say it is. you can either end it or you can stop saying you will. Thank you.

The Obama Adminstration is as deeply embedded in doublespeak as the Bush Administration ever was.  We are being lied to, pure and simple.  And Maddow is calling them out for it.

So should we all.

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