What's the solution to the hysterical right's shadow government?


As has been made clear by this summer’s Townhall shenanigans and Joe Wilson’s outburst and its aftermath, politicians–let alone elected officials–no longer set the agenda of political debate in the US: rightwing media personalities do. Government has reached a point where its effectiveness is based solely on whether, and how well, it can *react *to the propaganda put forth by rightwing radio hosts and Australian-owned faux news. And since, though they are currently its greatest driving force they are not officially part of the government, they are not subject to the built-in accountability that legitimately elected leaders are subject to: there are no checks and balances (unless you want to hear a horrid pun about pay checks and *bank *balances). In fact quite the opposite: the more outrageous their schtick, the more successfully their message is spread.

The input of the personalities who set this agenda is, on balance, more destructive than constructive. Deliberately so, I think: their goal is not to determine and implement what is best for the US. It’s nothing nobler than making sure that, whatever that proves to be, it’s *not *going to be implemented by the other side. There’s far greater value in seeing the left fail than in seeing the country succeed.

This proved extremely effective in hamstringing the Clinton administration, and there’s good indications it will be even more so with Obama. The strategy of the pundit-driven right is clear: the more lies they propagate, the more time and resources the legitimate government must devote to reacting to them. The government spends all its time on the defense, and thereby accomplishes nothing. Voila, agenda achieved: the government is paralyzed by a neverending plague of duck nibbles.

What’s the solution? Obviously I’m not a proponent of rethinking the First Amendment. Although clearly this is one of the most destructive results of the freedom of speech that I think I’ve ever been witness too. Still, there’s a baby in that bathwater. Not to mention the fact that even addressing the right is often baldly mischaracterized as trying to silence them: what do you think would happen if anyone actually tried to silence them? Respect for freedoms aside, on a purely practical level constitutional martyrdom is not the solution.

Air America clearly isn’t working. Honesty is not as entertaining as gnashing and spittle, no matter who the personality is who’s delivering it. Comedy is, however, probably more constructive than simple “balanced”** punditry. Surely there are more people who have even a vaguely accurate grasp on the true nature of today’s issues in our era of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report than before they came along. But they certainly can’t do this alone.

Is the solution for the voices of the left to grow a pair? Did Obama collude in his own emasculation, in re healtchare reform, by trusting in the basic intelligence of the American people and assuming that the lies of the right would eventually expose themselves through sheer ridiculousness? Should he have been more defensive, earlier, rather than waiting to be painted into a corner, as seems to be the case now, where his defensiveness–though suddenly unavoidable–seems all the more desperate? Should the Democratic government change its workaday strategy to nipping bullshit in the bud? Or would that in fact mean gifting even more resources to the swiftboatainment industry?

And what *about *free speech: should documentable lies have legal consequences? Should we hold the shrillest voices of the rightwing shadow government to the same standard of truth we hold purveyors of cold remedies to?

Or is it the Press, capital P, who’s abdicated here? Has the relentless, distorted drumbeat of “Liberal Media! Liberal Media!” finally succeeded in its intended goal, and cowed the “fourth estate” into the passive silence of self-censorship? The rightwing propagandists have made it clear that any reporting that does not explicitly support a conservative agenda will subject its organ to dishonest–but clearly very effective–accusations of liberal bias. By selling this so effectively, the state of affairs has come to be that bias is valued over objectivity in the press. Is there a way back to a truly independent, truly investigative press? Is the internet the answer–fragmenting the nearly monolithic press of the Megacorporation Era into a near semblence of the early days of American journalism, where every city had multiple daily newspapers? Will the blog prove to be the savior of journalistic integrity in this country? Or will it prove to be just another tool in the polarization arsenal of the faux journalism of the hysterical right?

Frankly I’m pessimistic. You?

*Too Long Didn’t Proofread
**The slavish, unthinking devotion to “balance” tends to favor the right at any rate: when reality happens to have a liberal bias, allowing a rightwing lie by way of “balance” is obviously not a service to the truth.

That’s probably the single most important thing that needs to happen IMHO. The Left needs to collectively figure out that trying to compromise and cooperate with people who hate you and want you to fail ( at any cost to the country ) does not work. They need to learn to just ignore the Right’s nonsense, or to fire back instead of just taking it, and stop pretending that the outright nonsense the Right has been spouting is reasonable. They need to learn that you can’t reason with lunatics, and that’s what much of the Right is composed of.

It worked for Clinton against Bush. He succeeded in part because at the time he ran under the assumption that the Bush campaign were corrupt, unscrupulous liars, and being ready to debunk whatever lies they told and being ready and willing to counter mud with mud. The Democrats need to realize that the Republicans are not honorable; they are not a “loyal opposition”. They care nothing for the truth, nothing for civilized behavior, nothing for the welfare of the country.

Outright, provable lies should be vulnerable to SOME kind of sanction, yes. Right or left wing.

That, and the conservatism of the people who own the media, and the profit motive. There’s no particular profit in truth.

Well, that sounds pretty good, Der. Gather the coalition, press the political power of the mass of everybody from moderate center out to the wilder orbits. Like the one you broadcast from, for instance, or mine.

Suppose we have to get along with those wishy-washy liberals, the nutless nabobs of nougatism. Suppose a lot of them are motivated to our cause by their Christian convictions?

You ready to make nice?

Because the thing about coalition politics is, pretty much everybody eats some shit. That’s what makes it fair, that everybody eats some. I’m a proud man, and I don’t much like it, I suspect you are at least as much as I. So, you ready? Look at the situation, look what needs be done, look at the opposition, say, hell, yes, here’s my grin, here’s my spoon, serve it up!

elucidator: are you saying there’s no solution? That as long as we play fair, the right will always win because they’re willing to play dirty?

Is that the future?

Nope. Have to play harder, of course. Survived eight years of Bush, eight years of Nixon, how tough can it be?

Addendumb: we’ll have to work and play well with others, too. For me, that’s always the tough part…

Kill them and eat their cold, black hearts. That way we can steal their mana.

To be fair, elucidator, you’re only talking abstract principles; defining philosophies. Empty rhetoric, to be harsh.

What, specifically, needs to be done?

Sure. Can you see, say, Polycarp lining me up against a wall and shooting me? Or even just tossing me into prison for being atheist? Me neither; but I can see most of the Right doing that quite cheerfully.

The reason it’s foolish to try to cooperate with the Republicans is not due to religious disagreements; it’s because they have no intention at all of cooperating. Because they are bigoted, fanatical, and dishonorable. The Left needs to realize that the majority of the people on the Right are not rivals; not people who just disagree. They are enemies; people who actively wish harm upon those who disagree with them.


Serious question,** Der Trihs**: whose agenda is better served by the polarized stance you’ve adopted? The right’s, or the left’s?

(In other words, elucidator, your post–though I certainly agree with it–is more a list of wishes than suggestions.)

Yeah, we need’a git them a’fore they git us! And lissener, consider this: who *has *the guns?

Like we didn’t just go through eight years of the left marching in the streets, calling Bush every name under the sun, crashing town hall meetings and even the State of the Union address, holding sit-ins in government buildings, writing books and movies fantasizing about killing the President, etc. Remember Code Pink crashing the Capital during a Presidential address and having to be hauled out kicking and screaming by the Capitol police? Remember the marches and protests against the Iraq war? Remember Cindy Sheehan and her fellow travelers parking themselves outside the Bush ranch and screaming at anyone who drove in?

You guys just aren’t used to the shoe being on the other foot. A year ago, dissent was the highest form of patriotism, remember? Anyone who called protesters unAmerican was an evil scumbag. Today, dissent is a sign of mental instability and potential violence, and anyone who disagrees with the President must be a racist.

Sorry, you’re not getting any sympathy from me. The protests the right have been going through have been no more uncivil than what the left has practiced since the 60’s.

I can’t imagine the apoplexy you guys would exhibit if some right-winger ran out of a crowd and hit Pelosi or Reid or Obama or Biden with a cream pie. You’d probably want him tried for treason. But when leftists do it to right-wing politicians, it’s the height of hilarity.

How about maybe a human chain or two blocking Democratic offices? I can imagine how you’d react if right-wing protestors chained themselves to the offices of Democrats and had to be cut loose with bolt cutters and dragged away screaming.

Then if you really want to get down and dirty, we can start talking about union violence. Perhaps you need reminding that there have been two serious issues of political violence so far this year, and both of them were perpetrated against the right. Last week, a pro-life protester was shot dead. Last month, a bunch of goons from the SIEU beat a black conservative protester so badly they put him in a wheelchair.

And by the way, the reason the Republican protesters are gaining traction with the politicians is because the majority is on their side. If Obama still had 70% approval ratings and Democrats in Congress weren’t seeing their own home-state approval ratings plummet, the protesters would have no effect whatsoever.

I think you missed my point. My main evidence for that is your judgement that I don’t have one. But if you don’t see it, somebody else might, and if they don’t, well, its just a bunch of electrons anyway, isn’t it?

Develop some ideas people want to hear and find someone entertaining to present them. If you get a liberal that can draw the ratings Limbaugh does, you’ll get the air time and the advertisers to make it profitable.

Aw, c’mon, Sam, I’d laugh my ass off, and you pretty much know that. What’s got into you, lately?

I find your lack of sources disturbing.

As creepy as James Carville looks and sounds, he’s generally right regarding the path Progressives should take, and it has little to do with fundraising cocktail parties and voter registration drives. He wants more aggression by the Democrats, for people to say, quoting the title of one of his books, “We’re right and they’re wrong,” and to explain why in easy-to-digest sound bites. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both of the 60s school of liberal politics, in which if you keep explaining it calmly and thoroughly people will understand, and if they don’t you need to explain it again. Against the showboats of the right that dog won’t hunt. It’s just too boring.

The time has come for rhetorical ass kicking.

[QUOTE=Sam Stone;11574879

And by the way, the reason the Republican protesters are gaining traction with the politicians is because the majority is on their side. If Obama still had 70% approval ratings and Democrats in Congress weren’t seeing their own home-state approval ratings plummet, the protesters would have no effect whatsoever.[/QUOTE]

Which protesters? the ones confusing Nazis with Communists? The death squads? Do I really need to trot out all the lies coming from the right? All that shows is right wing lies work, if backed by media blitzes from big insurance. Don’t you think that situation is despicable?

I agree. Enough is enough. I can’t stomach to watch Fox but I’ve seen some bits on other websites where O’Reilly and Bleck are gloating over taking down this socialist and that communist. Then there’s another where he’s sobbing about how arrogant and childish Obama is for not going on FOX to talk about his healthcare plans. Meanwhile, the low-intellects who believe that Fake News is real news, get all riled up because this uppity “socialist” doesn’t do interviews with a real news outfit.

Enough is enough. Time to punch back, take off the gloves, swing to kill. Bill Maher said Max Baucus needs to wake up in his bed with an internist’s head in his bed. Obviously hyperbole, but a good point I stand behind, namely: no more Mr Nice Guy. Now watch the Fake News clowns spit out crap against Maher and his murderous intentions. Enough is enough. The only thing I agree with the lunatics is their demand: Time to take our country back. Indeed but it’s not the socialists I’m thinking about.

Just because they are having a victory dance doesn’t mean they’ve won anything. They’re not terribly bright, remember?

The Left. Because the Right already has a “polarized stance”.

All relatively mild compared to what the Right is doing;*** too ***mild. Bush was called “every name under the Sun” because he was guilty of most of what he was accused of. That’s different than the outright lies and nonsense from the Right.

And I don’t recall any “books and movies fantasizing about killing the President”.

Oh, please. The Right has acted like a bunch of lunatics and bigots for years ( mainly because most of them are ). It’s gotten a little louder at the moment that’s all. The shoe isn’t “on the other foot”; it’s been there a long time.

No we call them scumbags and racists and lunatics because they are. And they were before Obama was elected.

“Apoplexy”? I’d be surprised that it wasn’t a bullet. That’s clearly what the Right is pushing for; whip up the frenzy higher and higher until one of the most extreme loons kills someone; preferable Obama I’m sure. Then the leadership will pretend horror and claim innocence while gloating off the mike. That’s been a tactic of the Right for a long time.

The pro-birther ( they are NOT pro-life ) was attacked by lone lunatic who killed other people as well. More to the point; the Right has an entire national agenda of pushing for violence, and has for many years; the left wing doesn’t. The two aren’t equivalent.

No; because the majority is AGAINST them, and Obama and the Democrats keep caving in. The majority WANT UHC and the “public option”; the Democrats are to cowardly and corrupt to give it to them.