Separating the right from the wrong

by Roland Lindsey

“Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”

Fateful words from the Dixie Chicks in 2003.  Some criticized them for insulting the President of the United States while in a foreign country, and their core audience punished them with boycotts and criticism.  Some believed they were unpatriotic, and Natalie Maines doubled down in a Daily Telegraph interview by questioning the value of patriotism at all.  This did not help record sales, and led to further criticism by the conservative press.

Much has been made of President Obama’s speeches around the world, with many conservatives claiming that President Obama is apologizing for America, and as a result, weakening our position in the world.  I am chiefly concerned with National Review.

Victor Hansen wrote:

By separating himself from the past, Obama sends the implicit message to allies (like Israel, India, Columbia, the Maliki government, eastern Europe, Sarkozy, Merkel, etc) that there must have been something wrong with them to have allied themselves with the U.S. during the Bush years — and to enemies and belligerents that their anti-Americanism is perhaps understandable given a shared antipathy for the Bush regime;

The Editors wrote a piece entitled “Obama’s Confession“, where they criticize President Obama for criticizing the actions of previous administrations:

Uncle Sam arrived at the U.N. in penitential mode. He promised to mend his ways, to treat the other governments with proper deference, and to continue to pay everyone’s bills. He can get ovations every time with similar speeches. But he will also continue another trend that began yesterday: losing their respect.

And yet, when Sarah Palin gives a speech in Hong Kong to a group of investors, the conservative press is strangely uncritical of Governor Palin’s criticism of the President and the government of the United States.  It is not too far a stretch to say that Governor Palin was critical of America, given that both the government and the President of the United States were both elected by a majority of the electorate in this country.  I suppose it would at least be helpful if she was factual in her criticisms, but her some of her statements and prescriptions regarding the economy are the stuff of fantasy.

Do the editors of National Review believe that Sarah Palin’s remarks are intended to increase the respect for America?  Do they truly believe that Governor Palin’s words strengthen our country?  Apparently, Rich Lowry believes the speech is a “step in the right direction.”  Perhaps for Governor Palin, but is it really the right direction for politicians to travel the world and criticize the President and the government?  Is it good for America?

And finally, is it good for Conservatives to promote the criticism of our government and elected officials by conservatives while overseas?  Were Sarah Palin to deliver such a speech in Florida, it would hardly be news.  But to travel to a territory of the People’s Republic of China in order to deliver a speech excoriating the present administration and congress is not patriotic.  It is self-aggrandizement, which is another criticism National Review hands out liberally, so long as the subject is a Democrat.

If conservatives believe that attracting independents to the Republican Party is good for all of us, they will simply ignore those who prefer to put themselves over duty to country.  When we elevate these people, we just appear foolish.

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Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 4:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Right On: Anti-Racism on CNN

by John Lindsey

Tim Wise, an anti-racist writer and speaker, was recently on CNN to comment on the racial subtext present in much of the opposition to Obama and his domestic agenda (we also covered this in “American Idiot: Obama, Socialism, and the Soft-Pedaling of Racism“):

Unsurprisingly, he received some less-than-friendly feedback which he recounts on his blog (the first one is downright cordial compared to others mentioned):

‘How dare you say this is about racism!’

And a pleasant Monday to you too sunshine, I thought, as I stared at my computer screen this morning, reading over the first e-mail of the day.

It was from someone who had apparently seen my presentation on CNN last night, in which I explained why racism is indeed a driving force behind the outpouring of anger we’ve been seeing…”
Read the rest in “Racism, Right-Wing Rage and the Politics of White Nostalgia

While you’re there, check out his other two excellent articles on the subject:

Hopefully, Tim will get more opportunities to speak in the mainstream media; it’s past time we had  articulate anti-racists on the news. I’ve seen him in action many times over the years, and he’d tear the average race-baiting talking head to shreds.

Health Care Debate: Krugman lluminates – Obama, Not So Much

by John Lindsey

health_care_0724Paul Krugman has an interesting piece bringing health care systems around the world into better perspective vis-a-vis US health care. The bills in congress are basically taking us in the Swiss direction; which isn’t the best, but would be significantly better and less expensive than ours.

Better, of course, unless the public option gets cut out of the final bill; rendering the whole thing a wasted effort or worse. No cost control means no reform.

Asked about a column by long-time Democratic strategist Paul Begala, urging progressives not to shy away from tackling health care in a more incremental approach, [Howard] Dean shot back: “The public option is incrementalism…. But there is no incrementalism without the public option.” He explained: “If you don’t have a public option this bill is not even incremental, in terms of adequate health care reform… Paul is not entirely wrong. It is just that the last shred of reform is the public option.”

Obama, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be able to keep his story straight.

Anyway, Krugman:

So where does Obamacare fit into all this? Basically, it’s a plan to Swissify America, using regulation and subsidies to ensure universal coverage.

If we were starting from scratch we probably wouldn’t have chosen this route. True “socialized medicine” would undoubtedly cost less, and a straightforward extension of Medicare-type coverage to all Americans would probably be cheaper than a Swiss-style system. That’s why I and others believe that a true public option competing with private insurers is extremely important: otherwise, rising costs could all too easily undermine the whole effort.

American Idiot: Obama, Socialism, and the Soft-Pedaling of Racism

by John Lindsey

Bill Maher thinks we’re stupid. He’s almost certainly wrong. That being said, if he is claiming that too many Americans don’t know their asses from their elbows when it comes to knowledge about the rest of the world, their fellow citizens, or even their own government, well, that’s hard to deny.

Obama = SocialistTake the “Obama’s a socialist” claim popular with – well,  just about anyone on the far right – but most recently with the anti-health reform protesters. Now, the anger of these people is apparent, but the very act of calling the corporate-friendly Obama a socialist (apart from making actual socialists laugh) is to publicly declare that you wouldn’t know socialism if Karl Marx personally beat you over the head with it.

This is ignorance; but it is misguided (if not also ignorant) if we respond to these people as if what they’re saying has anything to do with whether or not Obama is a socialist. It doesn’t. If their anger is genuine but their accusations aren’t, it’s logical to suspect that the anger is probably coming from somewhere else.

Granted, Obama’s not the first politician to be called a socialist; nor is the use of class warfare by politicians and monied power a new tactic. Throughout our history, it’s been a highly successful method to persuade otherwise rational people to become hostile toward their own economic interests and their natural allies.

For example, many protesters of health care reform are older (and incidentally, predominantly white). Of this group, aprotest0709 substantial portion are on Medicare – a socialized, single-payer insurance system. Indeed, many of these folks would be destitute without it, which was the purpose of the institution in the first place. Why, then, would they protest a premium-driven public option? After all, they already enjoy a much better system for free. Oh, right – because it’s “socialism”. Or a “government takeover of health care.” Or – probably more accurately – because it’s “Obamacare”.

“Obamacare”, in the minds of many of these protesters, holds a stigma; because Obama himself has been (to them) successfully stigmatized. The demonization of Obama began during election season, and while vilifying political opponents is not new, the manner in which it has been applied to Obama is unique, for obvious reasons.

Whereas Democratic presidents are often portrayed as far-left advocates of causes and institutions that have become associated with people of color (e.g., welfare, Affirmative Action, discrimination in housing, and so on), Obama has been portrayed not just as a champion, but as a direct infiltration of these causes (it should be noted that forms of welfare not currently associated with people of color have no such stigma: unemployment insurance, Medicare, Social Security, etc.)

Hence:

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