Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sarah Palin's still going to collect her Tea Party Convention speaker's fee, despite the looming signs of imminent fiasco

-- by Dave

Sarah Palin confirmed on Greta Van Susteren's show last night that she's very much planning to show up and speak at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, despite the distinct odor of Scam the whole affair is giving off.

Palin: Oh, you betcha I'm going to be there. I'm going to speak there because there are people traveling from many miles away to hear what that Tea Party movement is all about and what that message is that should be received by our politicians in Washington. I'm honored to get to be there.

This, even as some of her fellow wingnuts are catching the same whiff -- namely, Reps. Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn, who have pulled out of the event:

In separate statements, released by their congressional offices, the lawmakers said that appearing at the convention might conflict with House ethics rules. But they also said they are concerned about how money raised from the event will be spent.

Palin last night had no such concerns -- and said no one should be concerned about that big wad of cash the convention organizers are paying her:

Palin: The speaker's fee will go right back into the cause. I'll be able to donate it to people and those events, those things that I believe in, that will help perpetuate the message, the message being: Government, you have constitutional limits. You better start abiding by them.

Hmmmmm. It sounds like we're going to have to rely on Sarah's say-so when it comes to how she actually spends the money. Smells even more like Scam, doesn't it?

Of course, the whole scenario, as David Corn explored with Keith Olbermann last night, is developing into quite a fiasco -- mainly because Tea Partier and Birther J.D. Hayworth has decided to challenge Palin's former running mate, John McCain, in the Arizona Senate primary.

Palin is staying loyal to McCain. This has outraged the Tea Partiers, as Alan Colmes points out:

She has now chose to align herself with several bad actors. What should this be called, the Rinoization of Sarah Palin. [...]

She is certainly entitled to write a book and make money for her and her family, but other than what has she has done to support Republican and patriotic candidates. … Perhaps, Sarah was too busy talking to her agent about her Fox deal. Where the hell was Sarah?

This is what you get when you build a movement around paranoid right-wingers. There is probably no faction more historically famous for viciously turning on each other in struggles over money and power than right-wing populists.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sarah Palin's 'analysis' of Obama's State of the Union is just more Tea Party incoherence and intransigence

-- by Dave

So this is the GOP's Great White Hope. Oy.

Fox thinks so highly of its new "analyst" that it brought her on twice last night to "analyze" President Obama's speech, once before and then again afterward with Sean Hannity. In FoxNewsLand, "analyze" means "bash Democrats."

Of course, Palin wasn't speaking for the GOP -- she was speaking for herself, as usual. She claimed to be speaking for the long list of empty homilies she constantly recites -- "freedom", "free enterprise", "American people" -- that are obviously little more than rhetorical symbols to hold up and flash so that everyone thinks you're speaking.

But this is all part of the program to build her up as the GOP's 2012 tea-partying candidate. And this was even worse than Bobby Jindal's self-evisceration last February.

Fox News and Roger Ailes think they're building a candidate with this process. Looks to me like they're building the foundation for a monumental wipeout for the GOP. Hey, couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.

What struck me was the bigger problem Republicans are going to have in the next couple of elections: Their activist base is demanding that they refuse to compromise with Democrats. But the larger public wants them to cooperate. So which will it be?

The Tea Party folks like Palin are proceeding full steam ahead with their "purity test."

"It's the difference between success and defeat," Bopp said. "It's counterproductive for us to moderate our conservative message. ... We nominated the moderate's poster child, John McCain, for president. It's a prescription for defeat. What we have to do is be faithful to our conservative principles, and when we do we will win."

Palin was obviously on the side of the non-compromising Tea Partiers. In her interview with Hannity, she insisted: "No, we don't want to just chill a little bit and cool a little bit on his health-care plan. We want the thing killed!"

In other words, she was following the GOP prescription on health-care reform to date: "Our way or the highway!"

But all you have to do is look at the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll [PDF file] to see that there's a problem with this:

7b. Do you generally approve or disapprove of the way that Republicans in Congress are handling the issue of health care reform?

Approve ............................... 26
Disapprove ............................ 64
Not sure................................ 10

What polls have consistently shown is that independent voters are angry because they believe both Republicans and Democrats need to set aside the partisanship and work together to get things done effectively in Congress. And they can see that Republicans have been completely unwilling to compromise or work with Democrats in any kind of constructive fashion.

Moreover, what the Tea Partiers and Sarah Palins out there are making plain is that they have no intention of setting aside the partisanship. It's their way or the highway.

No doubt the Tea Party movement is going to be installing a broad slate of Republican candidates in the coming election; indeed, it's looking like every Republican candidate on the planet is going to be at least paying lip service to their demands for purity.

So when the elections come around, all anyone will need to ask them is a simple question:

"Will you be willing to make compromises with Democrats and President Obama in order to effectively solve the nation's problems?"

If they answer yes, they're screwed with the Tea Party crowd. If they answer no, they're screwed with the rest of the voters.

Knowing Republicans, they will try to have it both ways. It will be up to the rest of us not to let them get away with it.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Historians stand up to 'Liberal Fascism' and its abuse of history, while Beck blithely promotes it

-- by Dave

Well, Glenn Beck's special "documentary" -- at least, that's what he calls it -- "The Revolutionary Holocaust: Live Free Or Die" aired Friday, and it was pretty much exactly what we predicted: A long promotion for Jonah Goldberg's fraudulent Liberal Fascism and its underlying thesis, to wit, that fascism is "properly understood" as "a phenomenon of the left."

In Beck's hands, of course, this mishmash of a theory gets mashed even more, so that fascism is indistinguishable from communism and socialism, and that all are essentially identified in the bundle of the progressive movement, which is Beck's ultimate target.

On Friday, Beck worried that "the academic bloc" of the progressive movement would be arraying its forces to attack him for this piece of work (and it is a real piece of work). Probably, most of them will dismiss it as just another piece of lunacy from the nation's fearmonger in chief.

But it's obvious that, despite the cold reality that Goldberg's thesis is profoundly dishonest and the most odious kind of historical fraud, right-wingers like Beck not only believe it but have embarked on avidly promoting it -- especially among the Tea Party set, where the signs calling Obama a fascist are almost as common as those decrying his tax increases.

As I mentioned Friday, I began some months ago organizing some of the more authoritative historical experts -- historians and political scientists -- in an effort to finally produce a serious response from academics to Goldberg's traduced version of history.

Today, at History News Network, you can read the initial essays.

In addition to my introduction, there are four essays:

-- Robert O. Paxton, professor emeritus at Columbia University and the author of The Anatomy of Fascism, leads off the essays with "The Scholarly Flaws of Liberal Fascism."

-- Roger Griffin, professor of political science at Oxford Brookes and the author of The Nature of Fascism, has a piece titled "An Academic Book - Not!"

-- Matthew Feldman, professor of history at University of Northampton, and a co-editor of several academic texts on fascism, offers his assessment on why refuting Goldberg still matters: "Poor Scholarship, Wrong Conclusions".

-- Chip Berlet, senior researcher at Political Research Associates and the co-author (with Matthew Lyons) of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, has penned a history of Goldberg's arguments, "The Roots of Liberal Fascism: The Book."

For those who watched Beck's "special," the following excerpt from Paxton's piece alone may suffice:

Goldberg simply omits those parts of fascist history that fit badly with his demonstration. His method is to examine fascist rhetoric, but to ignore how fascist movements functioned in practice. Since the Nazis recruited their first mass following among the economic and social losers of Weimar Germany, they could sound anti-capitalist at the beginning. Goldberg makes a big thing of the early programs of the Nazi and Italian Fascist Parties, and publishes the Nazi Twenty-five Points as an appendix. A closer look would show that the Nazis’ anti-capitalism was a selective affair, opposed to international capital and finance capital, department stores and Jewish businesses, but nowhere opposed to private property per se or favorable to a transfer of all the means of production to public ownership.

A still closer look at how the fascist parties obtained power and then exercised power would show how little these early programs corresponded to fascist practice. Mussolini acquired powerful backing by hiring his black-shirted squadristi out to property owners for the destruction of socialist and Communist unions and parties. They destroyed the farm workers’ organizations in the Po Valley in 1921-1922 by violent nightly raids that made them the de facto government of northeastern Italy. Hitler’s brownshirts fought Communists for control of the streets of Berlin, and claimed to be Germany’s best bulwark against the revolutionary threat that still appeared to be growing in 1932. Goldberg prefers the abstractions of rhetoric to all this history, noting only that fascism and Communism were “rivals.” So his readers will not learn anything about how the Nazis and Italian Fascists got into power or exercised it.

The two fascist chiefs obtained power not by election nor by coup but by invitation from German President Hindenberg and his advisors, and Italian King Victor Emanuel III and his advisors (not a leftist among them). The two heads of state wanted to harness the fascists’ numbers and energy to their own project of blocking the Marxists, if possible with broad popular support. This does not mean that fascism and conservatism are identical (they are not), but they have historically found essential interests in common.

Once in power, the two fascist chieftains worked out a fruitful if sometimes contentious relationship with business. German business had been, as Goldberg correctly notes, distrustful of the early Hitler’s populist rhetoric. Hitler was certainly not their first choice as head of state, and many of them preferred a trading economy to an autarcic one. Given their real-life options in 1933, however, the Nazi regulated economy seemed a lesser evil than the economic depression and worker intransigence they had known under Weimar. They were delighted with Hitler’s abolition of independent labor unions and the right to strike (unmentioned by Goldberg), and profited greatly from his rearmament drive. All of them would have found ludicrous the notion that the Nazis, once in power, were on the left. So would the socialist and communist leaders who were the first inhabitants of the Nazi concentration camps (unmentioned by Goldberg).

Be sure to go read them all. And for more background, you can go read my reviews, exchanges and responses with Goldberg.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.