aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Beyond the Noise Machine
I thought David Brock’s The Republican Noise Machine did an excellent job of describing the apparatus that conservatives have built to steer American media and set the political agenda. Today, Bill Bradley visualizes that structure as a pyramid.
In response, Kevin Drum makes this hugely important point:
The Democratic response to all this has been simple: build foundations of our own, fashion a competing liberal way of framing issues, fight back on judges, create liberal talk shows, and remind lobbyists that Republicans won’t be in power forever. Which is all fine. But in a way, I think it misses the point.
What conservatives really did was to exploit new levers of power in ways that no one had thought of before. Their answers turned out to be foundations, language, judges, talk radio, and lobbyists, but there’s nothing sacred about those particular levers. So while creating our own foundations and talk shows is important, what’s more important is that we should be constantly searching for new and underappreciated levers of power and figuring out creative ways to exploit them. Howard Dean’s campaign did this in a minor way with its use of internet MeetUps, a new way of organizing grassroots support that took everyone by surprise.
Merely mimicking conservative strategies is a strategy for staying in second place forever. Closer, perhaps, but still in second place. What we need in addition is to stay relentlessly on the lookout for new ways of mobilizing public opinion that no one has thought of before. Suggestions, anyone?
He’s got 94 comments so far.
Closet cases are dangerous II
From Oliver Willis (with grateful thanks):
September, 2004, Douglas S. Smith, Jr defends the boy scouts against charges of intolerance towards gays:
Some intolerant elements in our society want to force scouting to abandon its values and to become fundamentally different. They want scouting to forego its constitutional rights, affirmed in 2000 by the Supreme Court in BSA v. Dale, and adopt fundamentally different values from the ones that helped shape the character of Mr. Collins and 106 million other young men over the past 94 years.
A former top official of the Boy Scouts of America faces federal Internet child pornography charges and is expected to plead guilty Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said.Douglas S. Smith Jr. faces a single count of receiving and distributing child pornography—a charge resulting from a federal investigation conducted with German authorities.
Now let me be clear, nothing I’ve seen says the kiddie porn he was “receiving and distributing” was gay themed and I hope it was not. But I promise you that no out proud gay “top official of the Boy Scouts of America” would be involved in this kind of crap!
Ads to watch
“Tom DeLay: He’d like to wash his hands of corruption,” the announcer says before recounting charges against the majority leader. “Tom DeLay can’t wash his hands of corruption,” the ad concludes. “But Congress can certainly wash its hands of Tom DeLay.”
Female voice: This is terrible Frank. When President Bush and his Wall Street pals privatized Social Security, they never told us we could actually lose our money.
Male voice: Please don’t cry, Honey. But that’s the stock market for you, it goes up, but now, that we need the money, it’s down.
Female voice: Frank, what are we going to do?
Male voice: Maybe the kids will take us in.
The terrorist threat is from the left?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not list right-wing domestic terrorists and terrorist groups on a document that appears to be an internal list of threats to the nation’s security.
According to the list - part of a draft planning document obtained by CQ Homeland Security - between now and 2011 DHS expects to contend primarily with adversaries such as al Qaeda and other foreign entities affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement, as well as domestic radical Islamist groups.
It also lists left-wing domestic groups, such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), as terrorist threats, but it does not mention anti-government groups, white supremacists and other radical right-wing movements, which have staged numerous terrorist attacks that have killed scores of Americans. Recent attacks on cars, businesses and property in Virginia, Oregon and California have been attributed to ELF.
DHS did not respond to repeated requests for comment or confirmation of the document’s authenticity.
Here’s a reality check for the Department of Homeland Security: After the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, through Jan. 1, 2000, there were over 40 serious cases of domestic terrorism—some of it realized, some of it thwarted—committed by right-wing extremists.
These were not petty or mere property crimes. They included the bombing of the Atlanta Olympics and abortion clinics by Eric Rudolph; a plan to attack a gathering of military families in the Midwest; and a plot to blow up a California propane facility. In every instance, the planned or perpetrated act involved serious violence in which potentially many people could be killed or injured…
Does this administration’s heavy rightward political tilt have any role in its failure to recognize right-wing extremists as the serious security threat that they objectively are?
The conservative case for gay marriage
I’m engaged in a wonderful dialogue with a conservative colleague on campus. It began when he, a professor of political science, posited post election that a new moral majority was rising up. I go back and forth on that, sometimes I buy it other times I don’t.
He’s just back from Europe and has sent me a bunch of articles on the gay marriage issue there, including this from CBS:
Three years after Amsterdam’s mayor officiated at the Netherlands’ first gay wedding, the gay marriage rate is falling, the first divorces are being registered and the issue has disappeared from the political agenda.
While the United States is engaged in debate on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Canadians are discussing a federal law to legalize it and many European countries are adopting civil unions for gay couples.
But in the Netherlands, nobody talks about the issue anymore.
My colleague’s a conservative Catholic. I’ve never asked what his views are on gay marriage. What I appreciate is the dialogue. I try to avoid strident, inflammatory rhetoric here (where I live and on this blog), even as I take clearly liberal positions.
I could consider myself a moderate in the current climate. But I think it’s important that those of us not at the edges stake our claim to be liberal or conservative; not let the extremes define us away and turn liberal and conservative into something they need not be.
I appreciate my conservative readers (Basil, where are you?) and try to read views other than my own, to put myself in the other side’s shoes. At the very least, appreciate that thoughtful people can come to different conclusions.
This post has lost its focus! Back to the topic! I’ll end with this classic I always love to point to, the conservative case for gay marriage.
Mary cashes in (again)
John Aravosis at AMERICAblog on Mary Cheney:
Well that was quick. Six months ago she was an innocent private wallflower, now she’s hawking her name for half a million bucks.
Gee, mainstream media, didn’t we tell you so? Didn’t we inform you that in 2002 Mary was selling photo ops at gay Republican fundraisers for $500 a pop (i.e., pay Mary 500 bucks and she’ll let you snap a photo with her)? But no, the MSM fell for the “Mary is a private citizen, how DARE you ask any questions about her?” line.