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State DFL Chair Ken Martin and Tim O’Brien take measure of the 2016 election and the future of Democrats in Minnesota and the nation on this half hour Democratic Visions special. Martin and DFL Vice Chair Marge Hoffa took office in 2011 and are seeking a third term as DFL Party leads. Martin and Hoffa have a campaign website.
As of the publication of this post, only former State DFL Associate Chair Donna Cassutt (2005-2011) is challenging Martin. Cassutt served with state party Chair Brian Melendez who announced his retirement two days after the guberantorial vote recount that confirmed in December 2010 Mark Dayton’s win. Cassutt has a campaign venue on Facebook.
Democratic Visions is an independent community access CableTV and internet program handcrafted by southwest suburban, lefty volunteers. I’m in my ninth year of producing the thing.]]>
Mike Gelfand has long been the metro area’s most edgy and humorous sports and political scold. Although “Stretch” no longer splashes vinegar on KQ’s Morning Show, he podcasts on Mondays and Fridays at about 1:15 p.m. on Bob Sansevere’s “The BS Show” at thebsblog.com/. Mike occasionally supports Democratic Visions, in its Quixiotic mission to rescue local lefties from the pundits, snoozers and wonkers of Almanac, Esme and AM950.
Gelfand welcomed me to his St. Louis Park backyard a few days after the Democrats left Philadelphia for the two of us to co-anchor the edition of Democratic Visions that would need to slog through the dog days of August and the annual plague of State Fair boosterism.
The two of us introduce an exclusive, 1988 interview I conducted with legendary WCCO-TV newsman, Dave Moore in Loring Park. Dave comments about the silliness of TV news, his then diminishing anchor role at Channel 4, the notable news magazines and documentaries that he fronted, and the fondly remembered “The Bedtime Newz,” an occasional TV news send-up that Moore confesses was not that good.
Our August initiative also includes a post Hillary nomination remix of the Junk Yard Democrats’ rippingly fun cover of “Who Let the Dogs Out” (now sporting Bernie and Hillary cameos) and humorist Jon Spayde, in the guise of his “Professor of Negativity” character, ruminating about campus political activism and passing snippy judgement on several local colleges and one infamous, national, for profit, online University.
The half hour, however, begins with my brief eulogy of Golden Leaf Tobacco, the Minneapolis premium, cigar sampling lounge that operated on Lake Street between Bryant and Colfax Avenues. Until it closed its doors on July 22, “The Leaf” was the kind of institution to which Damon Runyon would have assigned his Underwood Six typewriter. During my three years of visits, The Golden Leaf was an ever changing, collegial carnival of the successful, wounded, thoughtful, entrepreneurial and humorous; of the NHL /MLB/ NFL flatscreen addicted; of the informed and ignorant of American politics, business, literature, cinema, cigars and food. For me, it made life during these strained political times – survivable. And I could read books with paper pages while savoring a hand-rolled cigar un-interrupted by drunks and waiters.
Here’s the link again.
Democratic Visions On cableTV
Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Comcast Channel 15 — Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.
Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.
Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts. Program is lived streamed during airings
Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Community Channel 15 — Thursdays 2 p.m. For other times see schedule http://qctv.org/program-guide/
Democratic Visions is hand made by unpaid volunteers from Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Bloomington. Our program is not financially supported or endorsed by any political party, political action committee or special interest group.]]>
This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end.
I’ll never look into your eyes, again.
The End, the Doors
“Two people went into a back room in the middle of the night, behind closed doors, and made some decisions,” State Auditor Rebecca Otto told Eric Eskola and Cathy Wurzer on Almanac last friday night. “And so only those two people know why they did it. … This is about trying to strip and gut a constitutional office … that is the people’s office.”
It’s also about stripping Minnesota Senators, duly elected by their constituencies, of their legislative powers.
It’s also about stripping the power of self-government from the people — who elected those Senators to their Constitutional offices — to choose the kind of state government they want by electing people to represent their well-being and interests at the seat of government.
And it’s about a brazen corporate power-grab of the powers of a constitutional office that answers directly to the taxpayers for how money is spent and how the business of government is conducted.
This, friends, is what a corporatocracy looks like. Did you think that when it came is would look like the Hollywood dystopia of Logan’s Run, or of Blade Runner? It will never look like that.
It will look like what we’re seeing in this covert attack on the State Auditor’s office: the loss of self-government to powerful moneyed interests.
Think about that for a minute. Two individuals took it upon themselves to circumvent the processes of government, to bypass the Minnesota Senate, and to thwart the will of the people who elected them, thereby to achieve purposes that are detrimental to the residents and taxpayers of the state.
At least now we know from the Star-Tribune story posted Sunday, June 7, who the two malefactors are: House Majority Leader Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. Strib reporter Ricardo Lopez had this to say about it:
Approved by the House, the measure — which would gut the role of the state auditor, Democrat Rebecca Otto — had never been heard in the Senate. Yet that night, Sens. Sandy Pappas and Jim Carlson, leaders of that bill’s conference committee, were being instructed by Bakk’s chief of staff, Tom Kukielka, to approve the controversial change.
“Do it,” Kukielka said, according to one senator’s recollection of the conversation. Pappas and Carlson told the Star Tribune that Daudt and Kukielka had insisted the change was a crucial part of top leadership’s final agreement. [emphasis mine]
And while Rebecca Otto, speaking in the person of State Auditor, may have been unable to ascribe motivations to the pair, former State Auditor and later Governor Arne Carlson in his blog post Raw Politics and the Office of State Auditor was less reluctant in his willingness to call a spade a spade:
Now, why would Senate Democrat leadership accept a Republican proposal to virtually eliminate the office of the State Auditor which is held by a Democrat incumbent?
The answer likely has little to do with the issue of privatizing the office by permitting local government to contract out their audits and all to do with the incumbent’s stance on mining leases and, particularly, the proposed copper mine located in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. It should be remembered that in addition to an audit responsibility which charges the State Auditor with oversight of the more than 20 billion dollars spent by local governments, the State Auditor also serves as a constitutional officer elected by the people of Minnesota. As such, she serves on the State Executive Council, the State Board of Investment (pension investments), Land Exchange Board, and a variety of other state boards. One major issue that regularly arises is the management of state lands including the issuances of mining leases.
In politics as in life, the simplest answer is probably the right one. Arne Carlson has been around politics a long, long time. And while State Auditor Rebecca Otto is right that only the two individuals who entered that room at 3:00 a.m. in the dark of night can know what words were spoken between them, it’s clear that their motivations must have proceeded from an equally dark intent — one not meant to see the light of day. Otherwise, why did the House and Senate leaders feel the need to sequester themselves so completely, so that not even their aides and the committee chairs could know what was said? Could it be, merely, as Daudt claims, to rubber stamp a set of budgetary provisions (see esp. Sec. 3. [6.481] COUNTY AUDITS.) already approved by the House? Could it be as innocent, as Bakk claims, as allowing the remaining counties in the state to conduct their own private audits as 28 others are now doing and as requested by the League of Minnesota Counties — a claim now disputed by that organization’s spokesmen?
As former Governor of Louisiana and former US Senator Huey Long liked to say, “That dog don’t hunt.” Was that set of provisions in the budget bill really worth circumventing the entire Minnesota Senate and the voters who elected them? Was it worth forcing the budget committee leaders to include the language in a bill they knew had not been vetted by their colleagues? Is it worth gutting a constitutional office that is one of the pillars of good government in Minnesota and a defender of the taxpayers interests nationally recognized for excellence?
Could something as simple and innocent as what is being claimed by the two majority leaders really be worth all that? And is it worth the fight that Speaker Daudt is now making to keep the language in the budget bill regardless of the Governor’s demands that it be excised and ignoring the warnings of legal scholars that the provisions are not constitutional?
No, it doesn’t pass the smell test. There’s surely a hidden agenda here. It seems much more likely that there were promises and offers made that weren’t in the best interests of the people of Minnesota, but were in the interests of a few power brokers at the capitol, otherwise the thing would never have been done the way it was. We may never know what those promises and offers were, but we can be sure that they are the prime movers working behind the scenes of this debacle.
This is not what Democracy looks like. But it is what Corporatocracy looks like. Be warned.
Comments below fold.
From Zig Pope: Bakk needs to be exposed as the ALEC republican he is. This is a putrid stink and we are not going to let is disappear into the night from whence this stink came.
The VOTERS of MN ELECTED Otto, how dare any back room deals remove her.
Call him drunken Ira Hayes,
He won’t answer any more.
Not the whiskey-drinking Indian,
Nor the Marine who went to war.
The Ballad of Ira Hayes — recorded by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan
& others; written by Peter La Farge
Speaking as a veteran on Memorial Day, you might indulge me as I voice a couple of gripes about this day and the absurdity it has become.
First, I hate the commercialization. Everywhere you look, there’s a Memorial Day Sale. Every fast food joint is trying to cash-in on the long holiday weekend while insinuating some kind of quasi-patriotism by “free” offers to active military and veterans including free “Freedom” Fries at Wendy’s, free boneless chicken wings at Hooters, and a free “All American Burger” at Shoney’s.
I hate the fact that to take advantage of the free stuff on offer vets have to show a military ID or discharge papers, because others who never served a day in uniform have taken advantage. I hate the thought that a homeless vet who might actually need a square meal, but who doesn’t have his sh*t together enough to lay hands on his discharge papers, could be denied a hot dinner because the fraudulent among us have kept him from it.
I hate the thought that the rank commercialism I see all around me is a means for businesses, from profit motives, to cynically exploit America’s honored dead. If the offers were really meant out of a sense of patriotic gratitude, as opposed to exploiting a commercial opportunity, why not simply provide meal coupons to the VA clinics and hospitals, and/or the veteran’s support and social services organizations, where they can be distributed to needy veterans whose needs are known to the staff, as opposed to putting the onus on the vet to prove that he’s a vet?
Or is the real purpose simply to put butts in seats over the long Memorial Day weekend that serves as a kind of Kick-off to Summer? I hope that’s not the case, because someone would have to be a real low-life — I mean like a low-life maggot child molester — to do something as inherently wicked and insensitive as that. And allow me to include the advertising agencies who take part.
I hate the fact that free stuff is offered to living veterans on Memorial Day at all. Veteran’s Day is different. On Veteran’s Day we honor living veterans. So honor the vets on Veteran’s Day with as much free stuff as you like. But on Memorial Day, we honor our dead. And dead veterans don’t need your free stuff. They don’t even need your gratitude. They just need your respect. It would be far better to give free stuff to the surviving spouses and children of dead veterans, who are no longer there to protect and support the families they once loved — because they gave their lives for the country they once loved.
It seems to me far more patriotic for a restaurant owner to offer a free meal on Memorial Day to 10 dead veteran’s families, as opposed to 100 living veterans, or to provide a $10,000 scholarship fund for a veteran’s children, as opposed to spending $10,000 in loss leaders and advertising to promote a business. It would be far more patriotic for a hotel owner to offer a surviving wife or husband with young children a 3-day vacation in a poolside room with free room service and cable movies. The surviving spouse probably needs a vacation with his or her spouse dead and gone. That, to me, would be honoring the dead veteran, by supporting his or her living kin. I doubt anything of the kind will ever happen, though. Because that would actually be charitable, as opposed to being exploitive of our service dead like some kind of shameless moral degenerate.
I hate the fact that veterans themselves have been suckered by all the quasi-patriotic media frenzy into ostentatious displays of having served. There was a time when veterans served their terms of enlistment and then went home to get on with their lives, to raise families, and to help build their communities with quiet dignity. There was a tradition of maintaining a reserved demeanor about having served. Nobody made a lot of noise about it. There was no such thing as the modern crime of ‘Theft of Valor’ (punishable under statute, as if such a thing were even possible), because no one would consider parading themselves around falsely as war heroes. On every block in my neighborhood growing up, there were a half-dozen war heroes. Most were untouched by combat. Some bore the scars of burned flesh, a disfigured face, missing fingers, or shattered limbs.
Others bore scars unseen, whose suffering was less apparent, the men like Ira Hayes who live amongst us. They suffered the horrors of war in silence, unable to pour out of their heads the sights, sounds and smells of combat that had once poured in. Those veterans, whose sense-memories had been etched forever by the high-octane adrenalin of combat, could forget nothing and suffered a private inner hell replete with private demons. They tried to kill those demons with whiskey and pain pills. They might have wished they themselves had died in combat. Instead, they met less prosaic ends: frozen dead to their porch steps, impaled on the steering column of the family car in a head-on collision with a bridge abuttment, or with their brains hanging from a dank basement ceiling. We do not judge them because we cannot judge them. We can only include them among our honored dead.
I hate the fact that politicians have politicized military service, have attempted to colonize the political “moral highground” by showy and noisy displays of support for the military services and for veterans. I hate their loud, obnoxious, breast-beating condemnations over the sins of those less pretentious, less classless, and less overwrought than themselves in their supposed “gratitude” towards those who have served. I hate the fact that political leaders attempt to equate the sacrifice of our veterans, and in particular our honored dead, with support for their political ideology, religious values, world view, foreign policy, domestic policy, and racial or tribal identities. The typical condition of a combat infantry soldier is cold, tired, hungry, wet and scared. At other times, he’s hot, thirsty, hungry, tired and scared. Whatever his current condition, I can guarantee that the only thing on his mind is when he’ll next be dry, warm, rested, well-fed and safe. No one who stands a watch in the dark of night ever thinks about the merits of this or that political ideology. And it seems a safe bet to me that not one among our honored dead ever felt his sacrifice was only for white people, or only for black people, only for Christians or Jews, only for Republicans or Democrats, only for Protestants, or only for Catholics.
The sacrifice of those honored dead we Americans memorialize was a sacrifice for the rights, the freedoms and the dignity of all Americans. Flag-draping politicians who attempt to pervert the meaning of their sacrifice to the service of political expediency should be shouted down and vilified in the public arena as the low-life maggots they truly are. And while I think it’s fine to make money in business, to exploit the sacrifice of those we memorialize, to seek competitive advantage and gain by capitalizing on the day we’ve set aside in remembrance, that’s what I would call a true ‘Theft of Valor.’ Those who engage in such behavior need to be denounced.
We need to recover our sense of national identity and national purpose. The more that demagogues use military service and veterans in attempting to claim a distinctive class of patriotism, and to meanwhile drive divisions between us, the more loudly we should object. We need to call attention to those who exploit the sacrifice of America’s honored dead for political gain, or for profit. The sacrifice of those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” should be regarded, as Lincoln declared at Gettysburg, as a sacred secular act — one consecrated “far above our poor power to add or detract” and one that should be protected by law from exploitation for commercial purposes.
We could begin by reminding the nation that our honored dead represent all of America: all colors, all religions, all regions, all economic backgrounds, all ethnic backgrounds, every state and every territory. Just once, I’d like to see a President in office issue a call to the American Indian first nations to send their representatives to Washington in a great Memorial Day convocation, to bring with them their service banners bearing the symbols of their nations and the names of their honored dead, our American honored dead among the Indian peoples. It would be an object lesson in the truth of our motto E Pluribus Unum for those who think their skin color or heritage accords them a special place in American life.
Some might call that a special consideration shown a minority group at the expense of the white majority. But I would call it an overdue recognition of the service and sacrifice of some of our fellow Americans, whose contribution in the nation’s defense over many generations — in fact, from the very foundations of this Republic — isn’t well known and for some Americans isn’t known at all. It would also serve as a move toward reconciliation of past grievances and injury among brothers at arms and a recognition of our shared history and shared love for the nation.
I have but little hope that anything of the kind will ever happen. Instead, I have real fear that this day will continue to devolve into an orgy of commercialism and politics and it’s true meaning and purpose will be smothered by unending greed and ambition.]]>
“So from today forward, YOU are the language police. From today forward, these are the words NEVER to say again.” Dr. Frank Luntz, author of The Luntz Republican Playbook
For some time now, I’ve been advocating that Democrats and other progressive leaders take a page from the Republicans and start using more effective language when they give interviews to reporters and talk to voters. For some reason, no one seems too interested.
Maybe it’s because nobody much cares what I think, which is only reasonable I guess. Or maybe they don’t like the idea of copying Republicans. Or maybe they think that adapting the terminology you use in communicating with others is somehow dishonest. Although anyone with a brain routinely adapts their terminology when speaking to children, parents, spouses, bosses, cops and judges.
On the outside chance that they just need some concrete examples of what I’m talking about, the following ten items are Dr. Luntz’s recommendations to Republicans about words never to use, with some of his suggested alternatives, and some of my suggested alternatives.
Agreed. Democrats should never say ‘capitalism’ either. At least, not without modifiers. Instead, use the term ‘zombie capitalism’ or, even better, ‘bandit capitalism’ whenever we refer to the Big banks, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Wall Street and all multinational corporations of any stripe. Everybody hates those guys anyway, so most people are happy to have you compare them to the mindless undead and criminal marauders. When the opposition refers glibly to a ‘free market economy,’ remind your audience that Republicans hate government regulation, so what they really have in mind is an unregulated free market economy, which is just another term for bandit capitalism.
Then use the opening to drive a wedge between the Greedheads and the Bible-toters by re-purposing the story of the loaves and fishes as a capitalist morality tale. A Capitalist Jesus would have made a killer profit selling the same loaves and fishes over and over again to the starving multitude … sort of like tranches in CDO derivatives. Then, according to Republican economic theory, otherwise known as magical thinking, His Holy Windfall Profits would miraculously trickle down to the poor. Instead, Jesus TOOK the property of successful members of the starving multitude and GAVE IT to others less thrifty and disciplined like some kind of early socialist. And, really, how Christian is that?
Agreed. Except that Democrats should say that government ‘takes from everyone‘ — not just the rich — and that the rain falls on the just and unjust alike … but it falls more on the fat man than the skinny man. Because he’s fat.
Agreed. Republicans should forget about winning the battle for the middle class, because their policies since Reagan have driven more half of the middle class into the lower class and in that sense the GOP has already won that battle.
Democrats should point this out constantly. And Democrats should always use terms like ‘the shrinking middle class’ and ‘the middle class in crisis.’ Another good meme to use would be ‘Republican successes in their War on the Middle Class have resulted in one-third of all American children now living in poverty, one-fifth of American households are now food insecure, etc.’ All of these are good alternative constructions for the very good reason that they also happen to be true.
Agreed. Democrats should only talk about ‘careers’ too. We need to point out that during Republican administrations and their War on the Middle Class 30 million Americans who once had ‘careers’ got ‘jobbed’ by GOP policies based on trickle-down economics and outsourcing and many were given new careers as jobless and homeless people.
Correct. But Democrats should point out that Republicans think government waste includes mortgage-interest deductions for homeowners, income tax deductions for dependents, low-interest loans and grants for college students, veterans’ health care and education benefits, unemployment benefits for the jobless, health care and food support for children in poverty; and earned benefits like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the elderly. Incidentally, Democrats should ALWAYS refer to the safety net programs as EARNED BENEFITS, never as entitlements, which Republicans use with robot-like consistently since it makes them sound like expensive government give-away’s that should be eliminated. Or at least privatized by their bandit capitalist friends on Wall Street.
Whenever someone in the media uses the term ‘entitlements,’ you should fix them with a withering glare and say, “Did you mean to say, Earned Benefits?”
Agreed. Democrats should never say that we are willing to compromise either. That’s chicken talk for girly men. We should say instead that we are willing to cooperate, but on the basis of mutual concessions (which is the same thing as compromise). Point out that to cooperate without making any concessions is what two tots throwing sand at each other from opposite sides of the sandbox do. Then say, “Without some concessions from Republicans, voters can expect continued polarization and gridlock.”
Absolutely right. But Democrats should go a bit further. First say, ‘I hear you.’ Then say, ‘I get it.’ Then — to avoid coming off as a vacuous, patronizing dink — say: “We need to work together to counter Republican policies of economic, social and gender violence in their unending War on Women.” Then cap it off with, “Count ME on YOUR side.” That’ll get ‘er done for ya.
Right. Let’s everybody knock-off all that entrepreneur talk. It’s sounds way too brainy and French and possibly even sinful, like other things deemed “French” in American post-WWII vernacular. (Dear Lord, have those people no shame? Remember, God is always watching and sees everything you do, even when you’re sure no one is around.) Instead, Democrats should always refer to the ULTIMATE job creators — American consumers. Then use it as an opening to talk about the Republican’s successful War on the Middle Class. For example, “We know that Republicans are skilled job creators, because whenever they’re in power American wage-earners, small businesses, students and families all get thoroughly jobbed.”
Correct. Terrible word that, sacrifice. We need to stop all that naughty bad talk about ‘sacrifice’ and instead talk only nice good talk about ‘succeeding’ and ‘success.’ For example, “We’re all in this together so it’s ONLY FAIR that we should all SUCCEED or fail together. That’s why we need to tax the bejeezuz out of the Investor Class, because for the last 35 years they’ve been SUCCEEDing beyond all dreams of avarice at the expense of the rest of us, who actually produce the goods and services we all use. For more than three decades there’s been a massive redistribution of wealth from the middle-class to the Investor Class. It’s long past time for the rest of us to do some SUCCEEDing too.”
Without doubt. We should say, “Republicans hate Washington. They want and expect Washington to fail. They work hard to make sure Washington fails. So sending a Republican to Washington is like giving an arsonist a gallon of gas and the keys to the Fire Station.”
From Eric Ferguson: I found Luntz’s book online. http://www.yuricareport.com/BushSecondTerm/Luntz.pdf Apparently it had gotten around at first as just an image, and some bloggers transcribed it into a searchable PDF. Glancing through it, I noticed Luntz warning Republicans that 2006 could be as bad as 1986. At least some of his advice was ignored as I recall, and I also recall 2006 being worse for the GOP than 1986. I guess Republicans also haven’t worked out how to win midterms other than don’t be the presidential party.
This just in from the conservative news source Newsmax:
“Clint Eastwood surprised many people recently by saying he agreed with critics who have attacked his Oscar-nominated film “American Sniper….”
“As he was leaving a West Hollywood restaurant Monday night, Eastwood was asked by TMZ what he thought about the recent criticism by Moore and Maher.”
“They were right,” he said.”
“Did Clint Eastwood Just Agree with ‘American Sniper’ Critics?” a Daily Caller headline asked.
The answer appears to be that he does — to a point.
Clint Eastwood: To a Point, Moore, Maher Right in ‘Sniper’ Criticism;
The recent terror attacks in Paris thrust the issue of terrorism, its relation with Islam, and how to defeat it back into the forefront of national debate. At the same time, it has created a wave of reckless rhetoric on the far right. That rhetoric while not amounting to treason, or approaching sedition, certainly falls within the definition of defamation. Because we are engaged in a global war on terror, should we not challenge such rhetoric and question its intellectual and logical underpinnings or lack thereof? Should not the proponents of such rhetoric be taken to task?
Since the Paris attacks, there has been a near endless procession of articles and commentary that seeks to portray progressives, the mainstream media and the Obama administration as being muddled and confused in their thinking regarding the terror issue. Representative of this effort is Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly. In his nightly diatribe against all things progressive, he has portrayed all of the abovementioned parties as avoiding the central issues of Islamic terror. In his opinion, they collectively act as apologists for radical Islam. O’Reilly justifies his position by way of a simple argument. If you are not talking about Islam in connection with terror, specifically using the phrases “radical Islam” or “Islamic terror”, then you are not on topic. He states it is difficult to “convince left wing zealots” of the gravity of the issue at hand and that, these people put our security at risk. The administration is portrayed as lacking an orchestrated approach and a well-grounded strategy. Simply put, Obama is disengaged from the fight. O’Reilly regularly mocks the fact that most Muslims are not overtly prone to violence in spite of the fact that there have been empirical studies that refute his position. See M. Steven Fish: Are Muslims Distinctive? A Look at the Evidence referenced below. He insists to a fault that the White House and the mainstream media consistently misreport on issues related to terrorism. Moreover, they shy away from a full-throated endorsement of “free speech” by declining to reproduce the controversial cover from the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Also appearing regularly on Fox is Neoconservative Steven Hayes of the Weekly Standard who believes that the Obama administration largely focuses on Al Qaeda because, “They don’t want to admit that they aren’t prosecuting the war on terror”, and that “Day after day the administration dances around the term “Islamic Terror” and it confuses everyone.”
Fox News is not the only national conservative news organ to have so heavily invested in this rhetorical exercise. Even the National Review, once the most prominent conservative periodical in the country, has charted a similar course. Editor Richard Lowry: “The Obama administration’s mind-bogglingly determined refusal to say that we are at war with “radical Islam,” together with the left’s evasions about Islamic terrorism means that there has been a haze of euphemism and cowardice around what should be a galvanizing event in the West’s fight against terror.” The National Review’s Jonah Goldberg argues that those who avoid using the phrases “radical Islam” or “Islamic terror and instead use words like extremist and terrorist think that we are merely at war with “unspecified extremists.” Even MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough made the outlandish claim that “Christians don’t go out and kill 3000 people in a reference to September 11, 2001. Readers could go “down market” from here and find all manner of such commentary in the tabloids, on the blogosphere, on FaceBook and on Twitter.
At this point, it is imperative to take issue with the multiple misconceptions and misrepresentations outlined above and deal with them each in its turn. In doing so I have spent a good deal of time researching what the administration has said, what the military commanders have said, and what national security scholars have written on the subject. The bottom line is that the obsession with whether or not the President, the administration, the combatant commanders or progressives regularly use the phrases “Islamic terror” or “radical Islam” is a meaningless exercise in word games and is, as such, a contrived issue. If the professionals prosecuting and analyzing the war are not using these phrases are they even important? If they are in fact unimportant why continue to make this an issue?
First, look at how President Obama recently addressed the rise of ISIS in Syria. He spoke directly to the terror threat posed by ISIS on multiple occasions: “Because of our strikes, the terrorists of ISIL are losing arms and equipment. In some areas, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back” and “U.S. intelligence officials failed to appreciate the gains made by Islamic State extremists in Syria during the last few years of that country’s civil war.” At the U.N. Security Council Mr. Obama made clear that, we are fighting what he called “the cancer of violent extremism, embodied in groups such as Islamic State.” In a 2013 address at the National Defense University the president clearly outlined his thought process on terror: “Most, though not all, of the terrorism we faced is fueled by a common ideology — a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West, and that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause. Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam. In addition, the vast majority of Muslims, who are the most frequent victims of terrorist attacks, rejects this ideology. Nevertheless, this ideology persists…”
Attorney General Eric Holder appeared on Meet the Press the weekend after the Paris attacks and was asked: “Would you say the United States is at war with radical Islam? Holder’s answer: “Well, I would say that we are at war with terrorists who commit these heinous acts and who use Islam, they use a corrupted version of Islam to justify their actions.” Later in the week, Martha MacCallum of Fox News interviewed the State Department’s Maria Harf. Harf had no problem saying that we’re at war with Islamic terror but went on to point out that the administration seeks not to overuse phrases like Islamic terror and radical Islam so as not to conflate Islam with terror thereby radicalizing Muslims who might not otherwise be prone join in with terrorists.
The point here is a simple one, if the administration and other concerned parties are talking about Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram or Al-Shabaab what else are they talking about other than radical Islam or Islamic terror? The fact that the administration does not utter the phrases “Islamic terror” or “radical Islam” in every other sentence is immaterial. Does anyone think that when Osama Bin Laden was about to die or that those terrorists dying amidst the rubble of drone-targeted buildings in Yemen are in any way confused as to who is killing them and why? If commentators on the far right and their audience can’t discern the complexities involved in the war on terror or the nuances employed by the administration in its attempt to deter the further recruitment of Muslims radicals into the fight, who then is it that is confused? There is little in the way of logical thinking that would bring any prudent person to doubt that the administration knows who it is currently fighting or why it is carrying out that fight.
I reviewed a good deal of testimony on Capitol Hill, commentary in Department of Defense News and other sources and found that our top military leaders rarely if ever use the phrases “Islamic terror” or “radical Islam”, in fact most never do. Referenced below are numerous citations by General Martin Dempsey U.S. Army, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Campbell U.S. Army, Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps and former Commander, International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. Commander U.S. Marine Corps Central Command and Lt. Gen. Steve Hummer, U.S. Marine Corps from U.S. Africa Command.
In his interview on Fox News Sunday 1/11/2015 General Dempsey never uses “Islamic terror or Islamic extremists” in his conversation with Chris Wallace. In answering Wallace’s questions General Dempsey used the phrases like radical ideology and radical extremism multiple times. With regard to the shortcomings of the Iraqis in combating ISIS General Dempsey said: “Here’s the reality of the campaign in Iraq. It’s the government of Iraqi’s strategy enabled by us. It’s not our strategy.” The General went on to point out the burden imposed on the military by sequestration, something that those on the far right originally championed but a subject on which they are now notoriously silent. To wit: “The Budget Control Act and the sequestration mechanism is imposed on us in 2016 — yes, we will have to change our strategy, become far less able to do the things that we think the country needs us to do.” The head of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) on January 20, 2015, echoed General Dempsey’s concerns: “The problem with sequestration is not primarily about numbers and statistics. It is about whether we have the capability to do what the nation needs and the times demand.” In his analysis of the current conditions in Afghanistan Army General John Campbell never once used the phrases radical Islam or Islamic terror.
General Dunford, Commandant of the USMC, in his comments on Capitol Hill and in the media never once used the words Islamic terror or Islamic radicals but used terrorism, extremism and counter terror quite freely. One can pore over all of the references below where the abovementioned generals have discussed the issues at hand and you will be hard pressed to find them talking about anything other than counter terror, radical ideology, radical extremism or terrorism per se. None of the above referenced generals could ever be referred to as “apologists”, “appeasers” or that their failures to employ stock right-wing talking points undermines our security. I would challenge anyone who thinks that one must monotonously repeat the phrases “Islamic terror” or “radical Islam” as a way of establishing one’s anti-terror credentials to take issue with these generals and to suggest to them that we do not have a strategy or that they, or their troops, are confused in their execution of it.
I went on to review the writings of The Foundation for Defense of Democracies which touts its role in “Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Freedom” in its byline. The Foundation is an organization that counts the prominent Neoconservative James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA. on its Executive Board. The Foundation publishes the Long War Journal and maintains the Threat Matrix blog. Once again having reviewed numerous publications referenced below I found few if any references to Islamic terror or Islamic radicals. Likewise, I reviewed numerous articles from the Armed Forces Journal and again, found few references to Islamic terror or radical Islam but many that addressed terror, insurgency, global war on terror, etc.
Lastly, in her rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union Speech Iowa Senator Joni Ernst spoke at length about foreign policy issues, from nuclear issues with Iran to terror and never once did she use Islamic terror or radical Islam in her speech. Ms. Ernst is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa National Guard who spent 14 months deployed in Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom and 21 years in the service of her country. Are we to believe that she too is disconnected, an appeaser, an apologist? Is she cowardly because she will not frame her thoughts through the lens of far right rhetoric and because of that, her presence in the Senate Armed Services Committee undermines our national security?
When speaking of safeguarding our security many on the far right seemed to have forgotten that during the tenure of the Obama administration we have suffered from one homegrown terror attack, the Boston Marathon bombing. However, during the previous Republican administration we suffered the worst loss of life in American history on 9/11/2001. There is reluctance on the part of many on the right to acknowledge intelligence missteps stemming from failure to act on reports of an Al Qaeda plot to attack the U.S., which surfaced in August 2001. Somehow lost in the discussion, particularly when Neoconservatives are involved, is the fact that Islamic radicals have flourished within the context of failed states. There are too many on the far right who continue to fail to make the connection between the instability in Iraq resulting from an ill-conceived war and the rise of ISIS. Thus, I found it ironic when on 13 January Bill O’Reilly admitted during Talking Points that it was a mistake to undertake two wars in South Asia at the same time and that neither had done anything to impede the rise of Islamic Terror. He then went on to bemoan our continued anti-terror aid to Pakistan because we were not “putting boots on the ground” to successfully assure the outcome. Now again I ask the readers who is it that is muddled and confused in his thought process?
Those same voices on the far right seem to have forgotten the effects of the sequestration that they so vigorously championed in their “starve the beast” approach to managing government spending and how it may be hampering out counter terror efforts now, as pointed out above. One could legitimately ask what they were thinking when they initially chose not to fund the Department of Homeland Security beyond February 2015. How about those on the far right who lionized Edward Snowden and portrayed his leaks as a worthwhile endeavor in fighting government overreach. I ask the readers once more who is it that is undermining national security and may in fact be muddled and confused in their thinking.
On the subject of media misrepresentation, to say that Muslims have cornered the market on violence or are somehow prone to or innovative in using religion as a doctrine to wage holy war I would simply reiterate several established historical facts. The onset of the great era of Christian Crusades in the Middle Ages saw the widespread murder of Jews in Germany and Cathar Christians in Southern France, all amply justified, at the time by current religious thought as detailed in the Malcolm Billings book referenced below.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Serbian Christians were conducting ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and killing Muslims in Bosnia and in numbers far beyond the aforementioned 3000 lives that were lost on 9/11. In the run up to the American Civil War, passages from the Bible served as justification for maintaining the slave economy. You can verify these facts in the works of James McPherson and Eugene Genovese referenced below. Biblical justification was used in rationalizing the disenfranchisement of the American Indian from his land and with that his societal sustainability. Please see William Cronon’s book Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England cited below.
In concluding the discussion on who is most at fault when it comes to misreporting and misrepresenting the story, here once again, recent facts show it is more likely to be the Fox News Network than the President, his administration or the mainstream media. To date Fox News has had to apologize four times for misreporting on the Muslim communities in Europe, particularly their characterization of large scale “no go” zones in Britain and France. Even the conservative Prime Minister of Britain, Mr. David Cameron, labeled one Fox “terror expert” a “complete idiot.” That is sad commentary coming from on of the most prominent conservative leaders in the West and our closest ally.
To the charge, that declining to reprint the covers of Charlie Hebdo amounts to “media cowardice” I would simply point out that free speech is never an absolute and never was. Free speech has always been conditioned by what is reasonable and restrained by a certain amount of self-censorship, especially in wartime. One thing is certain, you do not win wars by creating more enemies and to the extent that publishing the Charlie Hebdo cover creates more Islamic radicals the fewer reprints the better. We have heard repeatedly since the Paris attacks that French Security Forces cannot keep track of all the potential radicals within France or those who have traveled abroad. Why then would they, we, or anyone else seek to create more adversaries? Richard Engle on Meet the Press recently reported that since the original publication of the Charlie Hebdo cover satirizing the Prophet Mohamed and subsequent reprints there us been a marked up tick in recruitment into radical Islamic organizations. Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, appearing on MSNBC the week before pointed out that if Charlie Hebdo was regularly distributed in this country Evangelical Christians would flood the streets protesting less than flattering depictions of famous Christians, the Virgin Mary foremost among them. I would also point out that there was widespread condemnation on the right when Andres Serrano depicted Christ on the Cross in a glass of urine or when Chris Ofili created an image of the Virgin Mary that utilized elephant dung in its composition. Thus if we consider desecration of our religious symbols unacceptable why should not Muslims have similar feelings? We can go back and forth as to the legal particulars of free speech and as to when it should or should not be abridged, but minimizing inflammatory media during wartime or in crisis is not a hypothetical exercise but a necessity. To the extent that the far right continues to make this an issue one can only ask what their real goal is, is it to protect the First Amendment or undermine the present administration?
With regard to how today’s Muslim communities have reacted to the twin terror attacks in Paris I would point out that within hours of the attack on Charlie Hebdo the Imam of the largest Paris Mosque and many other Muslim clerics were in the street speaking out against the terrorists. Iranian scholar Reza Aslan, appearing on Meet the Press the following weekend pointed out that every legitimate Muslim organization had condemned the attack as they regularly had condemned past attacks and that those who would deny this need to learn how to use Google. Quoting Aslan, “The answer to Islamic violence is Islamic peace. The answer to Islamic bigotry is Islamic pluralism. And so that’s why I put the onus on the Muslim community, but I also recognize that that work is being done, that the voice of condemnation is deafening, and if you don’t hear it, then you’re not listening.” Even a relative of the Muslim police officer who was killed in Paris said, “These killers weren’t Muslims but terrorists.” Again, I ask the question who is doing the misrepresenting.
The fixation on the far right with the particulars of how the war on terror is being executed by the Obama administration covered by the mainstream media and conceptualized by progressives is all part in parcel of a larger socio-political grievance arising out of the profound and rapid changes affecting America today. A discussion of those changes is beyond the scope of this piece but the radicals on the far right believe there is only one version of the true America and it is theirs. Anything other than their cherished views amounts to an attempt to destroy America either overtly or covertly. This constricted approach to history, warfare and the conduct of foreign policy along with the myriad misconceptions upon which so many of their essential arguments are based, is at this time is a major source of embarrassment for both the nation and those within conservatism who hold a more balanced view. If our military commanders, conservative scholars and even a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, not a bleeding heart liberal among them, refrain from using those stock phrases bandied about daily in the far right press what does that tell you? The radicals on the far right would have you believe that we have no strategy with which to fight Islamic terror but when you read, what the generals leading the fight have to say it is apparent that the radical have not done their homework. That is not to say that the strategy is a resounding success, most war planning and execution rarely goes off without a hitch. However, to say that the administration has no strategy is an outright lie. Apparently, those who are at the forefront of our anti-terror effort do not see the import of such commentary or the arguments based thereon. Am I wrong in suggesting that those who matter most in fighting the global war on terror do not take much of the criticism leveled at the administration, the media and progressives seriously, I do not think so.
In our body politic, we can abide dissent and heated discussion. However, it is in the best interest of all that that debate and discussion focus on what is best for the country rather than what is narrowly best for a particular political vision. Look at the profound differences between American politics during the Second World War and today. Roosevelt knew that it was probable that we would one day be at war with Fascism. His best assumption was that it would arise from an incident at sea resulting from the ongoing Battle for the Atlantic. A threat from Japan if it came first would be either an attack on the West Coast or the Panama Canal. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, the entire immediate focus of defense and war planning changed. We lost almost the entire U.S. Asiatic Fleet in the waters off the Philippines, Malaya and Indonesia. We lost the Philippines due to serious miscalculations on the part of General Douglas MacArthur. We had widespread technical problems with torpedoes that did not detonate or reach their targets, a major impediment to waging war at sea against the Japanese. Our Army was smaller than that of many lesser European states and was woefully lacking in everything from guns to tanks to transport. Prior to the war FDR was labeled everything from Socialist to Fascist to at the very least “a traitor to his class.” That said when the nation was in danger both Republicans and Democrats rallied to put their full effort behind total victory.
I have been a student of history my entire life and I have read more on the Second World War than any other topic. I cannot remember ever seeing anything in the way of political discussion from that time that approaches the vitriol and rancor that we see today. That is particularly true when it comes to debating the war on terror. In the midst of all of this misguided and reckless rhetoric conservatives, and everyone else, should remember the words of that now famous Republican Senator from Michigan, Arthur Vandenberg. As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Vandenberg asserted, “politics stops at the water’s edge.” The entirety of the argument waged by the far right against the Obama administration, the mainstream media and progressives generally is at this point an unwanted distraction in the war on terror. This unwanted distraction does nothing to enrich or enliven the vigorous debate between competing political schools of thought upon which viable democracies thrive. This unwanted distraction does nothing to aid in the fight against terror or in formulating changes in policy related thereto. Regrettably, with regard to the global war on terror the radical right has become part of the problem.
Steven J. Gulitti
21 January 2015
Bill O’Reilly: Honesty and Islamic Terror; http://www.billoreilly.com/site/product?printerFriendly=true&pid=44300
M. Steven Fish: Are Muslims Distinctive? A Look at the Evidence; http://rpgp.berkeley.edu/publications/are-muslims-distinctive-look-evidence
Richard Lowry, Of Course It Is Islam; http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/01/charlie-hebdo-of-course-it-is-islam-114277.html?ml=m_ms
Jonah Goldberg: Paris Attack Puts Western World in a Bad Spot; http://townhall.com/columnists/jonahgoldberg/2015/01/09/paris-attack-puts-western-world-in-a-bad-spot-n1940451/page/2
Katie Pavlich: Does The Obama Administration Have a Strategy to Fight Islamic Terrorism?; http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2015/01/09/does-the-obama-administration-have-a-strategy-to-fight-islamic-terror-n1940874
Jack Kerwick: The Charlie Hebdo Attack, “Terrorism,” and American Hypocrisy; http://townhall.com/columnists/jackkerwick/2015/01/08/the-charlie-hebdo-attack-terrorism-and-american-hypocrisy-n1940462/page/full
Are Christians and Muslims the Same?; http://townhall.com/columnists/mattbarber/2015/01/12/are-christians-and-muslims-the-same-n1941579
Brent Budowsky: Terrorism and the Muslim issue; http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/homeland-security/229341-terrorism-and-the-muslim-issue
Statement by the President – August 28, 2014; http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/08/28/statement-president
U.S. Underestimated Radical Islamists’ Gains in Syria, Obama Says; http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-28/obama-says-u-s-underestimated-islamic-state-s-syria-gain.html
Transcript: President Obama’s speech outlining strategy to defeat Islamic State; http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/full-text-of-president-obamas-speech-outlining-strategy-to-defeat-islamic-state/2014/09/10/af69dec8-3943-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html
Obama Addresses Islamic State Threat in United Nations Speech; http://www.wsj.com/articles/obama-to-address-threats-from-islamic-state-ebola-at-united-nations-1411556402
U.S. President Barack Obama at the NationalDefenseUniversity in Washington, D.C., May 23, 2013; http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/05/23/prepared-text-obamas-speech-on-terrorism/
Right-Wing Media Scandalize Obama For Distinguishing Islam From Terrorism; http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/09/11/right-wing-media-scandalize-obama-for-distingui/200731
Meet the Press 1/11/2015; http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meet-press-transcript-january-11-2015-n284006
DOD News: Islamic Terrorists Must Be Defeated, Chairman Says: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=122984
Dempsey warns ISIL has raised global terror threat;http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/martin-dempsey-isil-paris-attack-114155.html
Martin Dempsey raises specter of more U.S. troops to help Iraq fight Islamic State; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/nov/13/martin-dempsey-raises-specter-more-us-troops-help-/?page=2
Fox News Sunday 1/11/2015 – General Dempsey reacts to Paris attacks; http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-news-sunday-chris-wallace/2015/01/11/gen-dempsey-reacts-paris-attacks-sens-hoeven-coons-talk-keystone-showdown#p//v/3983017948001
Chairman, House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas): HASC’s Thornberry on Sequestration, Military Budgets and Pentagon Oversight; http://news.usni.org/2015/01/20/hascs-thornberry-sequestration-military-budgets-pentagon-oversight?
Army General John Campbell: US general worried about Afghan terrorists; http://thehill.com/policy/defense/229437-us-commander-worried-about-afghan-terrorists
Department of Defense Press Briefing by Gen. Dunford on Operations in Afghanistan; General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. (USMC), commander, International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan March 13, 2014; http://www.defense.gov/Transcripts/Transcript.aspx?TranscriptID=5392
Fiscal Crisis, Threats Test DOD Strategy, Readiness; http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=123652
Afghanistan Assessment March 12, 2014; http://www.c-span.org/video/?318219-1/hearing-military-operations-afghanistan
Outgoing Afghan war commander raises questions about counterterrorism plan; http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/07/17/outgoing-afghan-war-commander-raises-questions-about-counterterrorism-plan/
General Hummer Says More Marines Could Be Based Throughout Africa!; https://socioecohistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/general-hummer-says-more-marines-could-be-based-throughout-africa/
Comments from Lt. Gen. Steve Hummer, U.S. Marine Corps; http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/americainuniform/2011/11/comments-from-lt-gen-steve-hummer-u-s-marine-corps.html
Foundation for Defense of Democracies:
Ex-Gitmo detainee leads contingent of Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan; http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/01/ex-guantanamo_detain_2.php
Analysis: Reported ban of Haqqani Network unlikely to end Pakistan’s support of group; http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/01/analysis_reported_ba.php
Belgian authorities launch counterterrorism raids, killing 2; http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2015/01/belgian_authorities_launch_cou.php
Jihadists strike two towns in Mali, killing at least 4; http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2015/01/attack_in_central_mali_leaves.php
Afghan Taliban describe attack on Charlie Hebdo office as ‘justice’; http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2015/01/afghan_taliban_describe_attack.php
Jihadists praise Paris attacks; http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2015/01/jihadists_praise_charlie_hebdo.php
Islamic State overruns town in Anbar, executes Awakening fighters; http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2014/12/islamic_state_overruns_town_in.php
Armed Forces Journal:
Army Col. David Lamm Professor of Strategy at the NationalWarCollege. He previously served as chief of staff of the Combined Forces Command, Afghanistan: Success in Afghanistan means fighting several wars at once; http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/success-in-afghanistan-means-fighting-several-wars-at-once/
F. G. Hoffman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Strategic Research at NationalDefenseUniversity: Reassessing the Surge: Bold Shift or Strategic Disconnect?; http://warontherocks.com/2013/12/reassessing-the-surge-bold-shift-or-strategic-disconnect/
Spirit of Zarqawi lives on; http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/spirit-of-zarqawi-lives-on/
James McPherson: The Battle Cry of Freedom – The Civil War Era – OxfordUniversity Press 1998
Eugene D. Genovese: The Southern Tradition – The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism Harvard University Press 1994
William Cronon: Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England – Hill and Wang 1983
Malcolm Billings: The Cross & The Crescent: A History of the Crusades – Sterling Publishing 1988
Fox News apologizes 4 times for inaccurate comments about Muslims in Europe; http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/18/media/fox-apologizes-for-anti-islam-comments/
Rupert Murdoch and Fox News draw massive online backlash for Muslim comments; http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/12/media/rupert-murdoch-aziz-ansari-fox-news-facts/?iid=EL
French TV Show Laughs At The Credibility Of “The Fox News Clowns”; http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/15/1358080/-French-TV-Show-Laughs-At-The-Credibility-Of-The-Fox-News-Clowns
Britons Mock Fox News ‘Terror Expert’ Over Muslim Claims; http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-12/britons-mock-fox-news-terror-expert-over-muslim-claims.html …
Fox Misses The Military Leaders Who Recommended Afghanistan Drawdown; http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/05/28/fox-misses-the-military-leaders-who-recommended/199480
Obama Silent Over Calls to Denounce “Piss Christ” Artwork; http://nation.foxnews.com/war-religion/2012/09/21/obama-silent-over-calls-denounce-piss-christ-artwork
Arthur Vandenberg: A Featured Biography; https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/Featured_Bio_Vandenberg.htm]]>
The post mid-term election edition of Democratic Visions features no pundits, partisan strategists, Wednesday morning quarterbacks or smiley candidates. Instead, November’s Dem Vis sports humorously gifted wags, authors and theater types.
Tane Danger, director of The Theater of Public Policy, a sharp, improv comedy troupe; vinegary, retired drive time radio man Mike “Stretch” Gelfand, author Mary Stanik and humorist Jon Spayde help Minnesotans figure out where we’re headed in our Mitch McConnell, Kurt Daudt, Paul Molitor and Sunday booze-buying futures.
Mr. Danger (that’s his real name – he’s a pastor’s kid with a Bush Foundation Fellowship at the U of MN’s Humphrey Institute not a punk rocker) wants you to know that The Theater of Public Policy has only two, election season shows remaining at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater on Lake Street at Bryant Avenue.
Minneapolis Council Member Jacob Frey (Ward 3) joins T2P2 at 7 p.m., November 17 and MPR economics editor Chris Farell joins the company November 24, also at 7 p.m.
Should progressives go? Well possums, Tommy Johnson and I saw retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson with T2P2 in October. The jurist, the jury improv comics and the menu at Bryant Lake Bowl got two, enthusiastic thumbs up from the Two Putter and myself.
Please find below links to current Democratic Visions segments and the programs cable schedule.
The Theater of Public Policy Exposed
Mike Gelfand: The 2014 Elections, Christmas and Baseball
John Spayde: Philander T. Overman, Citizen
Mary Stanik: Sunday Liquor Laws
The Full Monty (Just two clicks brings you the full program)
Democratic Visions Cable TV Schedule
Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Program is streamed at the MTN website during cable casts.
Minnetonka, Hopkins, Edina, Eden Prairie and Richfield – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.
Bloomington – BCAT Cable Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.
Democratic Visions is independently produced by Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Edina volunteers at the Bloomington Community Access Television studio by arrangement with the Southwest Suburban Cable Commission and Southwest Community Television. Democratic Visions is not endorsed or supported by any political party or political action committee.
“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with Caesar.” Julius Caesar; Act 3, Scene 2.
In his WSJ opinion piece of June 17 (The Collapsing Obama Doctrine), Cheney lays blame for the internecine conflict now occurring in Iraq to President Obama’s allegedly failing policies with regard to mid-east terrorism.
Cheney claims the “… fall of the Iraqi cities of Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul and Tel Afar, and the establishment of terrorist safe havens across a large swath of the Arab world, present a strategic threat to the security of the United States.”
He doesn’t bother to explain how that threat is manifest, or even how he links the fall of those cities to “the establishment of terrorist safe havens across the Arab world.”
Moreover, he alludes to “… black-clad ISIS jihadists …” as if it were a reliable, foregone conclusion that they are a group of terrorists allied with al Qaeda and he deliberately conflates the two groups in his opening salvo against the president by saying “… it is worth recalling a few of President Obama’s past statements about ISIS and al Qaeda …” when the President never specifically mentioned ISIS in any of the public addresses Cheney cites. He neglects to mention that ISIS and al Qaeda are to some degree antagonistic towards one another due to conflicting goals and that, between the two, only al Qaeda has a global agenda.
Nor does he mention that the fall of the Iraqi cities of Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul and Tel Afar is better attributed to two Iraqi divisions of well-armed and well-trained soldiers abandoning their arms and equipment to flee before a force of 4,000 undisciplined guerrillas than it is to Obama’s mid-east policies. Nor does he state that one reason for that Great Skedaddle is the top Iraqi officer in Mosul is an accused torturer who was once targeted by both the U.S. military and the Iraqi criminal justice system. Kinda hard to respect a guy like that.
In short, Cheney is whipping up another potful of lies in support of another US military intervention on the Arabian peninsula. Of course, it’s all because Obama is weak on foreign-policy, together with a willingness to expose Americans to attack by “black-clad” jihadist terrorists (as opposed, I guess, to “black-clad” Benedictine nuns).
The mass media, of course, are complicit in aiding this latest scam on the American populace by trotting out discredited neo-cons like Bremer, Perle, Kristol and Wolfowitz to back Cheney’s play.
Let’s be clear. What is occurring in Iraq now is not the resurgence of al Qaeda terrorists carving out a piece of Iraq for new training facilities from which to strike the US. That’s a lie.
What is occurring in Iraq now is a civil war with pro-government and anti-government forces split along religious lines and regional militia running to the sound of guns. Nothing, in my view, could be more dangerous to involve ourselves in — militarily or otherwise — than a religious civil war with disparate bands of ever-shifting affiliations and loyalties.
Both the Sunnis and the Shiites have proven themselves perfectly willing over the years to commit all manner of atrocities against each other and even on their own countrymen, as occasion warrants. From dropping nerve gas on neighborhoods and villages, to mass executions of whole family groups, to having orphaned children clear mine-fields by walking through them holding hands and singing songs.
Cheney can’t even get the acronym ISIS right — it stands for Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, not Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. However, to glean an understanding of the kind of atrocities we can expect to see from sustained religious civil war, have in fact already seen, we need only look to the Syrian civil war where ISIS has been active. That war also splits (roughly) along religious lines and is replete with atrocities of every kind imaginable and some that even defy imagination Ten Things Worse Than Eating a Dead Man’s Heart.
Which, I wonder, of those admirable groups of murderous thugs does Cheney want the U.S. to back in this renewed conflict of a thousand year’s duration? We have to back someone, Dick. Which body of unspeakable atrocities by this group or that group do we want us to put our name on? Which set of future war crimes does he want the American people to own as part of our enduring heritage?
Maybe he hasn’t yet had his fill of war crimes. Or maybe he just wants some friends to share the blame so he won’t be so lonely.
What is unfolding in Iraq is not merely the loss of hard-won hegemony over a new middle-east proxy at an enormous cost of American blood and treasure (although it is that, to be sure), as Cheney wanted from the first (itself a component part of The Project for a New American Century), and would now have us believe is critical to our national security and a principle asset in our war on terrorism.
What is principally unfolding in Iraq is the culmination of policies propagated by Bush and Cheney and enacted by Paul Bremer that resulted in the first Iraq civil war after the disenfranchisement of the Sunni military and government bureaucrats as unreconstructed Baathists. The seeds of yesterday planted a decade ago have now borne fruit. The administration was warned at the time that civil war would be the result and they spent years trying to prevent the first civil war from escalating into a larger, regional war. Then, it took the surge and multi-million dollar pay-offs to keep the the pot from boiling over. Now it has.
The loss of hegemony and maintenance of a middle-east proxy in Iraq was what guys like Cheney, McCain and Graham have wanted to prevent by their insistence on keeping a residual body of combat-ready troops there — in spite of the Status of Forces Agreement that the Bush Administration signed — and now want to circumvent by sending more troops … probably on “humanitarian” grounds.
But they couldn’t get it done. Not with Bush and not with Obama.
So now the latest mid-east crisis explodes and it looks like a new opportunity presents. All they need is a new pack of lies on which to base an alternative, “conservative” foreign-policy that might have some legs with Big Oil and they need to find new arguments that lay blame for the failures of their past policies on the president’s current policies. Also, it wouldn’t suck if it helps them gain some traction in the mid-terms.
Cheney is the go-to guy, by all measures. Who else has White House cred who’s willing to play? Conde? Too smart — besides, she’ll want another run at The Show. Colin? Nope, we burned Colin on the first go-round. You can’t count on Bush the Younger for something like that: it’s far too likely he’ll step on his dick on the way to the podium, or say something so dumb and broken that it reminds everyone of why they voted for Obama to begin with. No, for something as delicate as this you need to rely on a guy with solid experience pushing out a real whopper. You need a guy who can sell a Big Lie to the inattentive public.
You need a guy like Cheney.]]>
(From November, 2013)
My recent post ” For the Tea Party, Another Election, Another Defeat” has some disputing what I consider the established fact, that the Tea Party is in decline both in terms of overall popularity as well as in the numbers of people who identify as members of the movement. Simply put all one need do is Google “tea party identification” and there are more than ample references, including several from the right wing leaning Rasmussen Reports and Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze”, of what I pointed out is a now established fact. That said, here ya go:
“Tea party identification nationwide. Now 22%, was 32% at time of the 2010 election”.; http://t.co/oDThWeYIEC”
Rasmussen Report of 1/7/13: “Only eight percent (8%) now say they are members of the Tea Party, down from a high of 24% in April 2010″
“Just 8% Now Say They Are Tea Party Members”; http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/january_2013/just_8_now_say_they_are_tea_party_members
“While polls show Tea Party identification dropping from 24 percent in 2010 to just 8 percent today, there have been key wins.” – “Tea Party Says ‘Don’t Write Our Obit Just Yet”; http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/politics/2013/February/Tea-Party-Says-Dont-Write-Our-Obit-Just-Yet/
Glenn Beck’s The Blaze: “while the Tea Party had once enjoyed 24% popularity, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, only 8% of Americans now identify themselves as members of the Tea Party…While that is the lowest it has been in the three years” – “Why Are Some Conservatives Targeting the Tea Party as a ‘Cancer’; http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/02/06/why-are-some-conservatives-targeting-the-tea-party-as-a-cancer/
“Tea Party Identification In Texas” (February 2010 – October 2013); http://laits.utexas.edu/txp_media/html/poll/features/tea_party_id/slide1.html
Does anyone have any evidence that the Tea Party isn’t in decline either in popularity or membership?
As far as to whether or not the Tea Party has declined where the numbers make them count, that will be answered definitively in the 2014 elections. Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report has already predicted that 14 congressional seats that were leaning Republican are now leaning Democrat and 80 races are now more competitive for Republicans as a result of the Tea Party backed shutdown disaster. However, from what we can discern more recently, based on last weeks results one would ask the question as to why the Tea Party backed candidate in southern Alabama lost in a district where a Tea Party victory should be a lay up? Could it be that the numbers there that make them count where they once did no longer exist? Thus citing the quote which was shown to me so as to prove that the Tea Party isn’t in decline: ” Political power is constituted of getting people elected, getting people unelected and being able to reward or punish people for doing or not doing what you want. If you can’t do any of those things, you have no power.”; one can only conclude that the Tea Party movement’s power seems to be on the wane. If it were otherwise the movement would have more than a school board victory in Colorado to boast about. The fact that this Colorado issue was their only victory speaks volumes as to their declining power as it is during off year elections that the politically active are supposed to have outsized effects on results. The fact that the Tea Party has produced yet another miserable showing at the polls is proof positive of their declining real power both inside and outside of the GOP.
And as far as citing a post from Tea Party Patriots, or any other movement related organ for that matter, as to why they lost in Virginia, well that’s not exactly an objective source or a good place to look for an explanation. Again in Virginia, as in Alabama the operative question would be: “If the Tea Party is so popular and robust and they exist in numbers that make them count, then why did a clear backed Tea Party favorite fail to win?” Surely all of those who identify with the Tea Party movement know the ill affects of spending on political races, as well as the motives of the GOP Establishment, and they should have been unswayed by the lack of commercials for Cuccinelli and firm in their support for him yet he still lost. If members of the Tea Party don’t exist in sufficient numbers to make them count in Virginia, and most certainly, in Alabama where do they exist in sufficient numbers to make a political difference?
I’ll state again what I said in my last post “Ever since the high water mark of the Tea Party movement in 2010 the path forward nationally has been nothing if not downhill.” Till someone can prove me wrong either by showing me a turn around in the numbers of people who identify with the movement or the movement’s winning more elections than it’s losing I will not be convinced of this rather hallow argument to the contrary. As coach Bill Parcells said of football teams: You are what your record says you are.” That’s true in politics too and any counter argument to the contrary is just so much pap.
As for the Tea Party members holding on in districts where they in fact have a foothold I would say that that is simply a function of gerrymandering and amounts to nothing more than artificial political life support. In the long run, due to demographics and the need of the Republican Party to win elections so as to remain competitive, this is nothing but a fleeting moment politically for the Tea Party movement. It can not be sustained over the long haul, especially in a public that is sick of political gridlock and demands answers to the myriad set of problems now facing the nation.
Steven J. Gulitti
For the Tea Party, Another Election, Another Defeat
Cook Report Moves 14 House Races Toward Dems; http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/17/1248429/-Conservative-Cook-Report-Moves-14-House-Races-Toward-Dems
Cook Political Report: Damage Assessment; http://cookpolitical.com/story/6435
Reply to Dog Gone November 19, 2013 at 8:21 am
“I can give you a fairly long list of other sources that see Christie as every bit as conservative as any tea party candidate, but who won by pretending to be more moderate. So far you have been unable to provide a single example of where Christie CURRENTLY (as distinct from the past) has differed from the Tea Party.”
SJG: Well from you own sources there’s this which shows that Christie is persona non grata at CPAC speaks volumes and directly undermines your position that he is a bona fide far right politician: Conservatives’ Love Affair With Christie Is Over; http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/27/christies-honeymoon-with-conservatives-is-over/?smid=tw-share&_r=1
“The veto of Mr. Christie by CPAC, which represents a relatively broad coalition of conservative and Republican interest groups, is an ominous sign for him. Candidates who have won the CPAC straw poll in the recent past include Mitt Romney and Rudolph W. Giuliani, other Republicans with whom some conservatives have had considerable disagreements. So the fact that Mr. Christie has not even been invited to the conference this year says something.”
“Mr. Christie has long been an advocate of gun-control policies, for example. But that issue has become far more relevant since the shootings in Newtown, Conn. Mr. Christie has also taken moderate positions on immigration.”
“Mr. Christie became the eighth Republican governor to announce that he will accept Medicaid expansion under the president’s health care law, in spite of his party’s general opposition to the law.”
“But my [ Nate Silver } premise when I wrote about Mr. Christie in 2011 was that conservatives had been underrating how moderate Mr. Christie was — perhaps because they were so desperate at that time to find alternatives to Mr. Romney and their other candidates. Now that he’s been “outed” as a moderate, it may be hard to close the closet door.”
SJG: Then also from your citations is this which actually shows that Christie, like Romney before him, migrated from more moderate positions, and not in every instance, to his current “far right” stance:
Chris Christie on Abortion:
On Civil Rights:
On Government Reform:
Stricter limits on PAC campaign donations. (Jun 2012)
On Gun Control:
We already have too many firearms in our community. (Jun 2012)
2009: No right-to-carry cross-state reciprocity. (Jun 2012)
Favors gun control measures from law-enforcement perspective. (Jun 2012)
On Health Care:
$159M for community health centers for the most vulnerable. (Aug 2011)
3.2% funding increase for National Institutes of Health. (Apr 2010)
Loosen “one-size-fits-all” approach to Medicaid. (Jan 2011)
Ok with either unionized state workers or civil service. (May 2009)
On Social Security:
Reduce all income tax brackets by 10% and restore EITC. (Jan 2012)
On Welfare and poverty:
1996: Working poor hurt by limits on childcare subsidies. (Jun 2012)
$100 supplement for seniors’ home cooling assistance. (Aug 2011)
SJG: Thus, based on the information that you yourself provided, how can you legitimately make the argument that Christie
“does not actually practice politics all that differently from the radical right” and that he is a died in the wool far right politician when as recently as 2012 he was pro-choice, has liberal views on what he’d do if his kids were gay and that homosexuality isn’t a sin, that there are too many firearms in our communities and that he favors gun control measures from law-enforcement perspective and that as late as 2013 he favored tuition equality for the children of illegal’s and restoring the EITC? Not for nothing but did you actually read through your sources before you put them up as support for your claim? I think not. There’s no way in hell a Tea Party candidate would favor restrictions on guns, tuition equality for illegal’s or anything close to that. Remember this very important point, I never said Chris Christie wasn’t a conservative, what I did say was that his election shows that the public will vote for a moderate conservative rather than a Tea Party extremist and regradless of whether or not Chris Christie is or isn’t a moderate he wouldn’t have won in New Jersry with a far right platform or message. Case in point a Tea Party backed candidate was handily beaten a week before in the special election to repalce the deceased Frank Lautenberg.
“You provided nothing but agreement with a rehash of other pundits, a piece which was essentially a readers digest condensed repetition.”
SJG: Which is what you yourself have done, particularly your failure to establish Tea Party victories in Virginia vice Republican victories per se. Thus far there is nothing in your rejoinder to disprove what I said about the Tea Party setbacks suffered in Virginia, ignoring a double digit defeat for the Lt. Governor due to his extremism is inexcusable if not completely laughable. The after affects of the latest Tea Party debacle are more than detailed in these two articles:
Judd Gregg: Impact of shutdown lingers; http://thehill.com/opinion/judd-gregg/190507-judd-gregg-impact-of-shutdown-lingers-on
Decision time for Tea Party movement in U.S. political contests; http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/20/us-usa-politics-teaparty-idUSBRE9AJ08X20131120
Thus there is nothing in anything that’s been written thus far to suggest that the shutdown will only have a temporary effect, just as the previous Gringrich led shutdown wasn’t short lasting either. The shutdown may not be a topic of everyday political discussion but don’t be naive in thinking it won’t be a handy cudgel for the Democrats to use on the GOP in 2014.
“the tea party is not as down and out as it first appeared.’
SJG: Really, how do you make such a claim when even Rasmussen, a reliably right leaning polling organization shows the Tea Party polling at historic lows in both terms of acceptance and individual member identification???
“You can quote other opinions all you like; the reality is that the big money behind the TP follows actions more than words. There is no indication that the big money behind the TP is doing anything other than regrouping.”
SJG: Again you have failed to substantiate your claim here other than to say that Koch Brothers had ponied up a few million to Rush and Beck prior to the shutdown debacle, a meaningless citation as I am sure you realize and one that says nothing of the funding which will take place going forward.
“I fault your arguments for being nothing more analytical than a parroting of other views, without anything either original or primary sourced to assess those opinions.”
SJG: Which was just what you did until you finally dug up some semblance of support evidence and even much of that, i.e. your Virginia down ballot results, didn’t substantiate your position. The fact that Christie is persona non grata at CPAC speaks volumes and directly undermines your position that he is a bona fide far right politician.
“but the further was are out in time from the 2013 elections in November, the more it appears to me that the two factions will try to re-unify between now and 2014”
SJG: Based on what evidence??? What “facts” explain away the Tea Party Defeats in Louisiana and Alabama? You criticize me for quoting others? What do you have to substantiate this claim other than your own opinion?
“The key going forward won’t be far right vs not-so-far right, but who wins independents.”
SJG: Yup and I’ve seen nothing in the polling data that shows they are moving to the right.