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One would certainly like to discover that the story isn’t true, or that there was some reason for April 23’s raid on the Transport Gallery other than (as police are alleged to have said) the “agressive and offensive” nature of the show’s content. Because if not, one can only wonder how these particular cops would have dealt with the threat to society posed by an average issue of Mad Magazine.
All very well, but I remember encouraging Avedon Carol to start a weblog, figuring that this was the natural medium for someone who spent long car drives rehearsing what she’d say if she was suddenly on national TV. Does that make me Atrios’s blog-grandfather? To say nothing of distant ancestor to Digby, Corrente, First Draft, etc.
(2) Kevin Drum has come in for some stick hereabouts, with some aspersions cast on his lefty credibility. I just want to point out this post, and observe that I know a lot of vehemently anti-War, anti-Bush American liberals who don’t see as clearly into the core issues as this:
[F]or any of my liberal readers who harbor suspicion of labor unions as an “old” liberal cause—just another one of those special interest groups that Democrats are always pandering to—ask yourself this: why are conservatives so hellbent on breaking them? Why did Ronald Reagan fire those air traffic controllers in 1981? Why did George Bush make union busting a key issue in the 2002 midterm election? Why the relentless opposition to using card checks to organize workers in new industries? Why the continuing demonization of unions from a party that’s otherwise so conscientious about building its appeal to the working and middle classes?More after the work week gets started. Watch the skies.
It’s because unions are the only truly effective check on the sine qua non of modern conservatism: corporate power. For all their faults—and they have plenty, just as corporations do—unions are the only organizations that have the power to bargain effectively for the interests of the middle class. Union power in the private sector began to wane in the 1970s, and it’s not a coincidence that this was exactly the same time that middle class wages began to stagnate, CEO pay began to skyrocket, and income inequality began increasing inexorably.
Many liberals seem to believe that these grim trends can be fought with tax and regulatory policy, but those are blunt instruments with plenty of drawbacks and unforeseen consequences. Collective bargaining, which is essentially a market-based approach in which the government’s job is simply to make sure that unions have enough authority to ensure serious bargaining and then get out of the way, is far more reliable, effective, and flexible. It actually works, which is why conservatives have always hated unions so bitterly.
Despite this, there are plenty of cocktail-party “new” Democrats who blithely think of unions as just another dinosaur special interest unsuited to politics in the 21st century. They should think again. Republicans understand the stakes a lot better—and so should we.
Digby has samples of Dobson’s product. As he remarks, Dobson
thinks of children as animals and he believes that animals and children should be beaten. He believes that nine month old babies should be switched on the bare legs. He believes they should be pinched hard, on the neck, so it will hurt. He believes in things that could get parents arrested in many states in the union.Max Blumenthal has the pertinent FCC addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, and email addresses. Instead of being Afraid, Very Afraid, how about we use Max’s resources to express our opinion of Disney/ABC using its chartered chunk of the public weal to sell advertising to kinky right-wing discipline freaks while refusing to sell it to normal Americans who think it’s nice that gay people want to go to church.
Yet his program is considered to be more wholesome and less controversial than a church that allows gays to be a member.
I personally read widely outside of blogs and periodicals whose “line” I agree with. I’m currently a subscriber to the print edition of the Financial Times, for instance. But a large part of the energy of the left side of blogdom is indeed tribal and intolerant of heterodoxy, and that’s a good thing. A lot of left-of-center Americans who don’t happen to have nice insider gigs working for liberal magazines have spent a bunch of years recently feeling pissed on from a great height, and the recent explosion of impassioned, aggressive, and proud progressive blogs has given them back the confidence they need to mix it up with their dittohead uncles and neighbors and co-workers. As many have observed, it isn’t what Rush Limbaugh thinks that matters; it’s the way that Rush Limbaugh emboldens millions of people to be louder and more forceful in their hard-assed rightwingery than they would otherwise feel confident in being. Likewise, Atrios and Kos and Digby and, yeah, Kevin Drum are reloaded daily by hundreds of thousands of people who go to them to be braced with sharp, smart progressive talking points, not for a nice broad-minded seminar with defenders of the bad guys.
It’s Kevin’s blog, and the Washington Monthly’s, and they can certainly do what they want with it. There is, in fact, room for courteous argument with political opponents. But bloggers like Kevin (and Matt, and Josh Marshall, and other insiders, whether geographically “inside the beltway” or not) should perhaps be a little less quick to roll their eyes when their hardcore readers are honked off over courtesy being extended to the opposition. The modern American right wing got where it is today by ruthlessly extending no such courtesies. (Find me the right-wing magazine or web site that gives a platform to lefties as frequently as Salon does the reverse.) Most to the point, Kevin and Matt and Josh and their ilk aren’t famous because their hundreds of thousands of readers want to read them sipping tea with Dan Drezner. They’re famous because their hundreds of thousands of readers come to them for red meat. American progressivism has needed that kind of thing for decades. Of course the readers get angry when they find polite dialogue with Bush-defending bloggers instead. Do what you want, but for cry eye, don’t bullshit yourself about the nature of the business you’re in, or of the product you’re doing a land-office business dispensing.
What I want to quibble with is blogger Jillian’s tag line: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” You know, if there’s one movie tag-line I’d like to excise from popular language, it’s that one. Please don’t “be afraid, be very afraid.”
Be alarmed. Be pissed off. Be prudent, even. (As Dave Johnson constantly reiterates, “watch your back.”) But “be afraid, be very afraid” is exactly what the bastards want you to do. Like bullies everywhere, their main tool isn’t the force they can command, it’s their ability to make your fear do their work for them. Stop doing their work for them.
“Be afraid, be very afraid” is the stock-in-trade of our current leadership. Compare their “war on terror” and their belligerent yet never-conclusive military stumblings to the outcome of the war led by the man who told us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Eloquence isn’t optional. Words matter. Be not afraid.