Movement conservatives are on an anti-Obamacare bender and feeling pretty good, but eventually they may pay for it with a painful political hangover.
That, essentially, is what Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall wrote on Friday in an article titled "How the GOP Bet on Failure And Lost." Marshall acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act probably will help Republicans in this year's midterms, but that in the long run, they'll suffer at the polls unless they face the supposed fact that the law is a success.
This past Monday, Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas proclaimed that the left had "won the battle of ideas." On Wednesday, Kos followed up by claiming that even though many on the right publicly took issue with his thesis, privately conservatives understand that America as a whole has turned against them, and that they prove it by "trying to disenfranchise" Democratic-leaning groups.
Liberals often complain about the mainstream media's unwillingness to state that many right-wing talking points are (supposedly) bogus and even bizarre. One such liberal, media critic Eric Alterman, wrote last year that "[o]ver and over, no matter what the issue—no matter how outlandish, illogical, or simply untrue the conservative argument has been—journalists create a sense of false equivalence between positions that rest on data and logic and those that don’t."
This past Sunday, Daily Kos featured writer Egberto Willies blasted the MSM for failing to expose alleged GOP lies about Obamacare and other health-care topics. Willies declared that the media's overall poor performance has brought about "an uninformed populace and a corrupted politics," but added that the good news is that truth-telling left-wing bloggers are riding to the rescue.
On Sunday, George Stephanopoulos announced that Laura Ingraham was joining ABC News as a contributor. So the network that long employed a Cuomo and still employs a Clinton "bimbo" destroyer has formalized a relationship with a conservative pundit. To the Left, this is yet another example of the mainstream media attempting to compensate for a liberal bias which never was significant and vanished altogether roughly forty years ago. They want no debate.
In a Tuesday piece for Salon, Heather Digby Parton, who blogs at her own site under the name Digby, asserted that the conservative claim of liberal media bias is "absurd" and a "political tactic" that "[d]espite the rise of FOX News and hundreds of right wing talk show hosts dominating much of the airwaves" somehow remains effective. Oh, and by the way, Ingraham is a "vile racist" and a former "vicious homophobe" who "has transferred all of that hatred on to undocumented workers."
Daily Kos boss Markos Moulitsas thinks that conservatives typically come off as angry and resentful, and in a Monday post he argued that's because culturally, economically, and politically, the world "has left them behind...[T]hey've created an entire alternate media world in which to cocoon themselves. But they know they've lost."
Kos warned liberals not to celebrate just yet: "[P]ower isn't just about ideas. It's about wrestling the institutional levers of government from the retrogrades. Those entrenched economic and conservative interests wield power via the Supreme Court, through gross gerrymandering, through voter suppression efforts. So we've got a lot of work ahead of us."
Imagine a Yankees-Red Sox game during which the Yankees broadcasters acknowledged mistakes by their team and good plays by the Sox, while the Boston announcers ranted relentlessly that the Yankees stank and were lucky not to finish 0-162.
According to Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, something similar happens routinely in political media. Drum believes that both in general and regarding Obamacare specifically, liberal pundits are far more likely than their conservative counterparts to discuss their side's failures and give the other side credit where it's due.
On Friday, Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas contended that conservatives would benefit if they stopped opposing the Affordable Care Act, since their efforts actually increase the chance that one day, America will have what they would abhor: a single-payer system. He added that "luckily," righties won't take his advice and will keep trying to destabilize the ACA.
Moulitsas asserted the impending victory of single-payer as scheduled for arrival in Vermont in 2017: "This is the future of America, and Vermont is leading the way."
After Stephen Colbert takes over from David Letterman on CBS's "Late Show," he'll host as himself, not as a parody of a conservative pundit. That may disappoint Salon's Joan Walsh, who in a Wednesday article called Colbert "an ally to progressive causes" and lauded him for "calmly and brilliantly inhabit[ing] a persona [on 'The Colbert Report'] that puts him in the psyche of delusional, entitled, wealthy conservative white men like [Bill] O’Reilly, bullies who want their country back, and are willing to do plenty of damage as they try (but ultimately fail) to retrieve it."
The main point of Walsh's piece was that Bill-O's Tuesday "meltdown" in response to Colbert's "relatively harmless spoof of [O'Reilly's] recent freak-outs over the politics of inequality" indicates that O'Reilly no longer is a good sport about Colbert's mockery of him. "Now O’Reilly has marked Colbert as an enemy," wrote Walsh, adding, "Colbert is under [O'Reilly's] skin, and I’m grateful for that."
Should one tolerate intolerance? What is intolerance? Daily Kos writer Mark E Andersen implicitly asked those questions in a front-page post this past Sunday, and answered them in the manner you'd expect of a blogger for the lefty site.
Apropos of the flap over former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich's backing of Proposition 8, Andersen declared that he, like "the vast majority of us on the left," is "tolerant" of different opinions, but that he won't put up with "actions" he finds "bigot[ed]...outdated, backwards," such as opposition to same-sex marriage. He asserted that it's a "simple fact" that "the Tea Party and their conservative brethren...are bullies."
Digby is far from the biggest name in the left-wing blogosphere, but she's one of its most influential figures. Lefty bloggers often introduce links to posts on her site, Hullabaloo, with the phrase "what Digby said" (it's sort of their equivalent of "megadittoes").
On Monday morning, Digby published a piece in a higher-profile outlet, the liberal online magazine Salon, in which she contended that because Ted Cruz "has his finger on the pulse" of evangelical conservatives, he has a far better shot at the 2016 GOP nomination than does Rand Paul, even though Paul, Digby opined, should have no problem pulling in the racist voters that are (allegedly) so common on the right.
In 2003, future U.S. senator Al Franken trashed conservatives in his book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them." This past Wednesday on the lefty website AlterNet, blogger Amanda Marcotte posted a brief, unofficial follow-up to Franken's work in which she detailed "5 Things Conservatives Lie Shamelessly About."
"Conservatives have figured out a neat little rhetorical trick," claimed Marcotte, a regular at The Daily Beast and Slate. "One lie is easy for your opponents to debunk. Tell one lie after another, however, and your opponent’s debunkings will never catch up. By the time the liberal opposition has debunked one lie, there’s a dozen more to take its place."
Competition between rivals often brings out the best in both. Think of Bird and Magic, or Lennon and McCartney. In a Tuesday piece for Salon, writer Edward McClelland dared to adapt that principle to the quintessential Cold War foes, the United States and the Soviet Union, contending that American capitalism "never functioned better than when it was forced to compete with [the] rival economic system" in the USSR during the three-plus decades after World War II.
McClelland asserted that President Reagan's hostility toward both the Soviets and American labor unions led us down the path to today's globalized economy in which big business can mistreat workers with near-impunity now that Communism in its greatly weakened state can no longer keep corporations in check.
Markos Moulitsas, the founder and publisher of Daily Kos, blogged on Tuesday morning that despite scary rhetoric from conservatives about "the 'death of freedom' and...jackbooted Obamacare Nazi Alinsky thugs," the Affordable Care Act has done or will do a great deal of good for our health-care system.
Kos wondered, "Anyone know how much freedom was lost?" as a result of the ACA, and cheekily invited right-wingers to quantify, a la Bill Watterson's Calvinball, any such losses.
Liberals understand that talk radio is highly important to conservatives, but Daily Kos writer Jed Lewison went a step further in a Friday post in which he asserted that Republicans seem to prefer hosting a talk show to being an influential congressman.
The peg for Lewison's post was the announcement from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) that he's leaving Congress after his current term to host a radio program for Cumulus Media. Lewison noted that Rogers "has been the most popular member of Congress for Sunday show bookers for two years running, even outpacing the king himself, Sen. John McCain."
On Thursday, American novelist and editor Benjamin Kunkel, who believes in the long-term "nonviability of capitalism," was the subject of an interview in the liberal online magazine Salon in which he stated that right-wing allegations about President Obama's socialist agenda are both "quite absurd" and "not altogether wrong."
The relevant exchange between Kunkel and interviewer Josh Eidelson (emphasis added):
Believe it or not, for the past few days liberals' fascination with conservative book publishing seems to have surpassed their fascination with righty talk radio (though neither will ever come close to matching the intensity of their obsession with Fox News).
Last Friday, McKay Coppins noted on BuzzFeed that while books by a few conservative electronic-media stars like Bill O'Reilly are extremely popular, "midlist" right-of-center titles have become a tough sell. On Monday, Salon's Alex Pareene took issue with much of Coppins's piece, arguing that the key problem with conservative publishing these days isn't niche marketing or excess supply, but lousy quality (emphasis added):
What's the Matter With Kansas? author Thomas Frank believes the matter with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as presidential campaigners was that they spent too much time "selling tidy homilies" about "hope" and too little advocating ideas such as single-payer health care. Frank stated his case Sunday in his latest weekly column for the liberal online magazine Salon.
Frank suggests that all the non-ideological rhetoric of hope from Clinton and Obama presaged the sort of lefty-disappointing policies they've often yielded (e.g., "Clinton’s deregulations [and] Obama’s spying program"). In that regard, he comments, they're typical of Democrats over the past three-plus decades:
On Friday, McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed detailed two major developments over the past decade or so that, according to some on the right, have hurt conservative book publishing: specialty imprints such as Threshold Editions have had the effect of relegating most righty books to a "niche" a la "science fiction or nutritional self-help guides," and this segregation has created economic pressure for those imprints to issue titles by "cable news and radio provocateurs" instead of "combative intellectuals" in the tradition of the late Allan Bloom.
Coppins presents the massive popularity of Bloom's 1987 work The Closing of the American Mind as the Big Bang for right-leaning books. He opines that it forced establishment publishers to realize "a potentially lucrative fact: Conservatives knew how to read."
In a Tuesday post, Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas celebrated the "genuine progress" American liberalism has made over the past ten years, but warned that it still must battle plenty of countervailing forces, including -- yes, NewsBusters readers -- a pro-conservative media.
Kos notes that Democrats now control the Senate, which wasn't the case in 2004, and observes that since then, the party's caucus in the upper chamber "has shifted significantly to the left," given the departure of supposed squishes like Evan Bayh and Tom Daschle as well as the arrival of progressives such as Al Franken and Elizabeth Warren. He also exults that fewer than two dozen Blue Dog Democrats remain in the House of Representatives, making today's House Dems as a group distinctly more liberal than a decade ago.
Do conservatives overrate their popularity and, consequently, their power? Quite possibly, suggested Washington Post blogger-reporter Chris Cillizza in a Saturday post on the Washington Post's web site.
The peg for Cillizza's item was a recent Pew Research Center finding that five right-leaning online outlets, including The Washington Times, The Blaze, and Breitbart.com, were "among the most shared [news sites] on Facebook, but [not] among the most visited [news] sites" overall. Cillizza, wondering why these righty sites would generate so much Facebook traffic even though they had far fewer visitors than "more mainstream" sites, speculated:
On this St. Patrick's Day weekend, if you're in the mood for a lamentation of Irish-Americans' ongoing shift to the political right, you're in luck. Andrew O'Hehir provided that and much else in a Saturday piece for the liberal online magazine Salon.
While O'Hehir believes that the 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal was "unambiguously a good thing for the people of Ireland and their British next-door neighbors," it had a downside stateside: "[T]he last connection between Irish-American identity and genuine history was severed...On one hand, Irishness [now] is a nonspecific global brand of pseudo-old pubs, watered-down Guinness, 'Celtic' tattoos and vague New Age spirituality...On the other, it’s Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Pat Buchanan and Rep. Peter King...consistently representing the most stereotypical grade of racist, xenophobic, small-minded, right-wing Irish-American intolerance. When you think of the face of white rage in America, it belongs to a red-faced Irish dude on Fox News."
The mainstream media typically pay a great deal of attention to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. In the past few days, two prominent lefty bloggers have ventured to explain why.
In a post this past Saturday, the last day of CPAC 2014, Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall asserted that the top two reasons the conference gets a lot of media coverage are that its proximity to Washington makes it "an easy and cheap decision" for news outlets "to send at least one reporter and often many," and that:
Editorial Note/Correction: We mistakenly affixed an incorrect. NewsBusters byline earlier Our deepest apologies for the error | Edwin Lyngar was upset that many retirement-age Americans, including his father, have in their golden years run for the shadows of Fox News Channel -- so much so that this past Thursday, Lyngar published a February 27 piece in the liberal online magazine Salon in which he lamented at length those oldsters' descent into Fox-induced "despair and rage."
Lyngar asserted that his 67-year-old dad and other senior-citizen FNC buffs are "terrified by the idea of slightly more affordable healthcare and a very moderate Democrat in the White House" and commented, "I’ve read accounts of people my age — 40 or so — losing parents to cancer or Alzheimer’s, but just as big a tragedy are the crops of grandmothers and grandfathers debilitated by Fox News-induced hysteria."
This past Thursday in a Capitol Hill hotel ballroom, the group Tea Party Patriots marked its fifth anniversary with a event that featured speakers such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. On Friday, Daily Kos writer Hunter celebrated the occasion in his own way with a post containing plenty of snarky comments about what was said at the gathering.
For example, after quoting a story from CNN.com's Political Ticker blog which noted that "many speakers...hit back against the charge that the tea party has racist elements," Hunter sniped, "If your anniversary commemoration needs to be punctuated by repeated assertions that you're not racists, you're probably doing something wrong."
As you probably know, the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference will take place early next month just outside of Washington. The typical conservative thinks of CPAC as the major annual gathering of the activist right. On the other hand, Daily Kos featured writer Hunter views it as "a collection of people who have a pathologic inability to feel shame" over their copious political misjudgments and screw-ups.
Officially, of course, there's no such thing as "the face of the Republican party" or "the face of the conservative movement," but liberals, often with ulterior motives, often suggest candidates for those pseudo-positions. In a Sunday front-page post on Daily Kos, Ian Reifowitz claimed that venture capitalist Thomas Perkins is the very model of a modern conservative.
Reifowitz noted Perkins's recent assertions that people shouldn't be allowed to vote unless they pay taxes, and that voting "should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes." According to Reifowitz, those statements "expose[d] the elitism and fundamentally anti-democratic ideas the Right secretly believes but knows, correctly, it ought never utter publicly if it wants to win elections."
In 1991, the Afrocentric rapper Sister Souljah released a single and video, "The Final Solution: Slavery's Back in Effect," which portrayed an America of the near future in which slavery for black persons had indeed been reinstituted.
But what if slavery -- for persons of all colors -- never went away in the U.S., and what if it's more or less inevitable under our economic system? Daily Kos blogger "Vyan" pondered such questions in a Thursday post, wondering whether slavery might be the "default setting" of a free-market economy and asserting that capitalism benefits "the powerful" and harms "nearly everyone else":
Some liberals don't find bigotry at the root of conservative Republican opposition to immigration reform, but many others do, and in that latter group, Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas is among the most persistent.
Kos was at it again in a post this past Wednesday, arguing that Tea Party GOPers in the House stand in the way of Republicans enhancing their appeal to politically important immigrant groups:
Even though MSNBC admits that one of its staffers shouldn't have tweeted that "the rightwing will hate" a Cheerios Super Bowl commercial about an interracial family, Daily Kos writer Hunter, who covers the conservative movement for the lefty blog, thinks the network showed weakness in not standing by the now-infamous tweet.
In a Monday post that mostly dealt with righties such as Allen West who objected to the multilingual rendition of "America the Beautiful" in Coca-Cola's Super Bowl spot, Hunter added:
The average NewsBusters reader looks at the Republican party's shift to the right in recent years and thinks, "Good." Daily Kos featured writer Hunter, whose beat is the conservative movement, has a different reaction, namely, to liken righty GOPers to suicide bombers.
This past week, Hunter dealt with the supposed burgeoning extremism of the party in two blog posts. On Tuesday, regarding the candidacy of Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, Hunter noted that the Senate Conservatives Fund and Oklahoma Tea Party groups object to Lankford on such grounds as his support for a debt-ceiling increase: