Sunday, January 9, 2011


This will be the last thing I'll write about my rightwing commenter who I've had to delete a lot recently. I'm as tired as I'm sure anyone reading this is.

But once again I had to delete this man I've known since Catholic grammar school. When we were kids I thought he was a little smarter than the other kids we went to school with (the kids in my own neighborhood went to the public school around the corner and were much less snarky) because he was a reader of history, or seemed to be, like me.

But in many of his remarks on this blog it is clear he has become intolerant of any perspective that isn't in line with his rightwing ideology. And the only histories he cites are those that adhere to the same rightwing ideology. And as is often the case with rightwingers (of which he seems to be such a perfect example, one of the reasons I allowed him to comment on this blog more than anyone else) he is incredibly self-deluded. He thinks if he and those he supports and cites call Obama a "socialist" or "fascist" or "communist" etc. and claims our democratically elected president is out to destroy our country, that's not lying or distorting or calling names.

He has been leaving comments that call me even nastier names and then claim all I (and commenters on this blog who agree with me in any way) do is call names! And in his latest deleted comments he's been claiming I'm just as bad as the assassin who killed that nine-year-old child in Arizona!

He says that "rather then engage in political philosophical discussions"—by which he seems from the evidence to think means accepting his and the right's mostly false premises as valid—I call names and spew hate.

 He has this common rightwing conception that calling the rightwing of our political spectrum "rightwing" is calling names, and pointing out lies and distortions used to attack "liberals" and leftwingers is hating. 

But this is another common rightwing tactic. As I wrote in several posts over the last few years, when I was a boy there were people who believed the world was flat, but they didn't get time on TV (and there was no Internet) to defend that perspective and to insist that anyone who challenged it was not just wrong but if they continued to say the world wasn't flat they deserved to be labeled traitors out to destroy the country and treated accordingly!

In my lifetime, a lifetime of involvement in politics, I can think of no liberal Democratic politician who claimed their democratically elected opponents deserved to be thought of as illegitimate. Not even Al Gore who legitimately won the popular vote and might have won the electoral vote had the state rights of Florida been recognized by the rightwing faction of the Supreme Court which otherwise had a record of always defending states rights.

And I certainly can think of no Democratic politician who has used the terms "lock and load" when motivating crowds to resist laws and lawmakers legitimately elected or suggest if Democratic politicians who are democratically elected to represent the voters pass a law a rightwing Republican doesn't like, then it's okay to say it's time to employ "second amendment rights" and take up arms to overthrow the legitimately elected government.

To deny that the most angry and violent rhetoric is not mainly coming from the rightwing media and politicians is to deny reality. To hurl invectives at me on this blog because I point out the hypocrisy of the right and its influence on the way mainstream media frames stories is childish. Even my youngest child has remarked when watching the news with me how the Republicans act "like big babies if they don't get their way" as he put it.

If Obama and the Democratic Congress had been able to actually enact laws the way they felt they were elected to and didn't have to continually bow to the threat of filibusters and "holds" by the minority over the past two years, we would not just have healthcare reform, as we do, but a simpler and better healthcare reform bill, and the same for financial reform etc.

Have Democrats used procedural gimmicks to thwart Republican majorities when they have been in control, as in the first six years of the Bush/Cheney administration? A little, but mostly Democrats, especially the liberals—but even many of the centrists and "Blue Dogs"—seem able to accept election results much more gracefully and reasonably, with that humanist spirit and perspective that is at the base of liberalism.

That just isn't the case with most Republicans, and certainly not for the most rightwing of that party, which has an undue influence as we've seen over these past many years.

The way our democracy used to work, with the exception of the Civil War, which many on the right seem to be nostalgic for (see Texas and Virginia and South Carolina, et. al.), one party would win an election and run the government the way they thought it should be run until another party won and then it was their turn.

But ever since Reagan, when the rightwing took over the Republican party, that party has treated any elected Democrat as illegitimate and even our democracy as illegitimate, in the sense that they deny the right of the government, which is run by people elected by us, to do their job the way they have been elected to do it.

To have a reasonable discussion of the differences in the two main parties idea of how elected officials should govern, what kinds of programs would best serve the common good etc. is exactly what we should be doing. But it is almost impossible to do that when the right frames all arguments as you either support their argument or you deserve to be called traitors and accused of deliberately destroying the country etc.

I have to talk down liberal friends almost every day from either overwhelming rage or deep despair at the ways in which the right has managed to distort the argument from differing points of view to "real America" versus Kenyan socialism and all the other specious arguments based on rightwing framing that doesn't allow for fact-based debate.

I'm writing this after driving a distance and needing to get some sleep so it may not be as articulate as I would like, but I wanted to get on record a response to the latest mean spirited name calling that my once old friend had been sending my way via his comments (and he's out West so he may get some more on while I'm asleep that I will probably delete tomorrow when I see them) only because they represent so accurately (and even parrot, as usual) the rightwing media stars and their followers, and cannot be allowed to go unanswered.   

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Blogger Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Jim, if you are so certain of your position, why is it necessary for you to go back on your promise of staying off this blog after the elections, if not for the sole purpose of argument and ranting? Your commentary serves no productive purpose - you're not going to change the minds of Michael, myself, et al by name calling or citing biased studies out of context, and vice-versa, no one here is likely to change your mind. But if you want to regain any ground of respect at all, from me at least, you need to stand by your word, your vow to step back from this blog in the wake of the elections, do your best John Wayne and walk off into the sunset. That would mean not even responding to this, but simply, to live up to your vow, instead of taking the low road of tit for tat emotional engagement, which will never change anyone's mind.

January 10, 2011 at 12:05:00 AM EST  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

What you describe here, Michael is one reason why I avoid commenting on political events in blogs. Occasionally I do so though, as I am here, mostly to commiserate with you. It can be hard making a point when there are those who do not want to hear.

January 10, 2011 at 5:58:00 AM EST  
Blogger Lally said...

Thanks Elisabeth. The mix I bring to this blog and my writing in general has always limited some readers from being able to accept it on some level(s). Many publishers and editors have recognized that and tried to get me to keep whatever book or article etc. they were addressing, to keep it focused on one aspect of my experience or perspective so that it doesn't become either too confusing or too offputting. But that was rarely what I felt motivated or inspired to do, so I usually didn't heed their advice and suffered the consequences. As I do here. If I only wrote about poetry, or movies, or other aspects of my experience and interests, I'd probably have more readers, and more consistent readers (I'm always astounded at the number of comments you receive on your blog, and how generally positive and supportive they are). But, as Kerouac once said, "If you don't write what you want, what's the sense in writing?" or words to that effect.

And Robert, I wish I had your equanimity, I certainly try for it, but I appreciate your support and your usually reasonable and perceptive correctives.

January 10, 2011 at 8:49:00 AM EST  
Blogger JIm said...

Michael you have been the name caller. Obama even described political opponents as enemies contrary your idilic description of liberal Democrats. There are commentators like Larry O'Donnell who describe himself as a socialist. I might add that he is a very articulate and honest socialist. The independent senator from
Vermont is a self described socialist. Big expansive controlling government are by definition socialist. Your big argument should be with the dictionary.

January 10, 2011 at 9:11:00 AM EST  
Blogger Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Vermont has a very low, lower than projected, budget deficit; a very low crime rate; and has been a leader in health care reform, providing free or very low cost health care to all state citizens. The state of the "socialist" senator. So much for my suggestion, which appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

January 10, 2011 at 9:49:00 AM EST  
Blogger JIm said...

Many liberals including, evidently yourself, defend free speech as long as that speech is in agreement with liberalism/socialism.

Bernie Sanders takes no umbrage for being called a socialist. He is proud to identify himself as one. Why should you or anyone take offense?

January 10, 2011 at 11:07:00 AM EST  
Blogger JIm said...

Obama's was eloquent as always.

"That’s exactly what Barack Obama said he would do to counter Republican attacks “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said at a Philadelphia fundraiser Friday night. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

January 10, 2011 at 11:12:00 AM EST  
Blogger Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Free speech is not the holy of holies. What the Founding Male Parents intended was free, truthful, responsible speech. Lies, hate rhetoric, blasphemy, ill-intended distortion, do not fall under protected speech, particularly when it leads to loss of life. Lifting quotes out of context is cheap and transparent, so self evident.

January 10, 2011 at 11:21:00 AM EST  
Blogger JIm said...

Tell it to Jefferson and Adams who fought like cats and dogs in the newspapers of the time. As far as Obama's quote, it was campaign speech. Get over it. Here is the the article from WS Jr.

January 10, 2011 at 11:49:00 AM EST  
Blogger Robert G. Zuckerman said...

If they had any idea of how it would be applied, abused and hid behind today, and the consequences thereof, I guaranty you they would have written it differently, and you know this.

Like I said, it's easy to isolate particular phrases and spin them, even that one from June of 2008.

January 10, 2011 at 12:10:00 PM EST  
Blogger JIm said...


You seem to be a poor observer of the human condition and of politicians. The US Constitution is of such import, precisely because of man's imperfect nature. Madison in the Federalist Papers said it best.

"If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

January 10, 2011 at 12:29:00 PM EST  
Blogger Jamie Rose said...

Jim, Please find another place to vent. You are stressing my pal Lal and me out. Please go away.

Jamie Rose

January 10, 2011 at 1:03:00 PM EST  
Anonymous James Worrell said...

Fantastic post Michael. And Jim, don't you have better things to do with your time? I am sure Glen Beck has a blog where your comments would fit right in... As Bambi's good friend Thumper once said, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all".

January 10, 2011 at 2:30:00 PM EST  
Blogger Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Jim's views are shared by many in this land. The thing is making others wrong and name calling ain't gonna change the other. Making others wrong will most likely put them on the defensive.

To the point of the intentions of the Founders, they lived in a completely different reality than we do now. No electricity, very little if any plumbing, no paved roads, no automatic weapons, not even any six shooters, no internet, phones, no cars, no planes, no franchises, very few locks on doors. It was a radically different reality and the wording of the first and second amendments would be entirely different if they had an inkling of what the world would be like today.

January 10, 2011 at 3:20:00 PM EST  
Blogger Lally said...

Thanks James and Jamie (and RZ), but Rose, he isn't stressing me out, just saddening me since he represents such a strong current among a minority of people who parrot rightwing propaganda rather than think for themselves. As my friend Fred Liberman put it, the reason the righwing media is so popular is because the people who are fans need to have their beliefs reaffirmed on a daily basis because they can't think for themselves. They need to be reassured who the bad guys are and why in very simple language (those who study language have confirmed that black and white statements in the simplest language repeated over and over makes most people feel it must be true!), over and over again, whereas most of the rest of us listen to a little of this and a little of that and draw our own conclusions, as well as change our conclusions when new and better evidence and arguments come along, etc. Our rightwing commenter above doesn't waver from his rightwing ideology, and as evidenced by the sources he quotes, he gets all his information from rightwing sources initiating new spins on old material (the right seems certain only they know what the Founders intentions were etc.) or distortions of newer information (the famous video of the federal government worker who was explaining why she wasn't bigoted despite a history of racial oppression edited to appear she was etc.).

January 10, 2011 at 4:17:00 PM EST  
Blogger JIm said...

James Madison would be chagrined to know that people who call themselves loyal Americans and benefit from his work on the Constitution and personal liberties now find that his thoughts on the Constitution are considered some how, radical and right wing rather than American.

January 10, 2011 at 5:34:00 PM EST  
Blogger Robert G. Zuckerman said...

That's like the bit in Annie Hall when someone's in a movie line quoting Marshall MacLuhan to his female companion and Marshall MacLuhan is actually standing right behind him and says "I'm Marshall MacLuhan and that's not what I said at all!" How is it that you know how or what James Madison would feel? Have you been gossiping with Dolly?

January 10, 2011 at 6:08:00 PM EST  
Blogger JIm said...

I find that a man's writings are good indication of his thoughts. Madison's thoughts are illustrated in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. From the writings on this blog, I surmise that you, Lally and K believe that the the Founding Documents are an antiquated curiosity of history. I and most Tea Party Folks and some Republicans believe that they are the essential bedrock upon which our republic is built. We Tea Party folks believe we are in our current economic malaise, that threatens the very existance of the country, because we have strayed to far from the constraints on the federal government, because the enumerated powers provisions have been ignored or abrogated by both parties.

January 10, 2011 at 8:03:00 PM EST  
Blogger tpw said...

Dear M:
I hate to see you (and others) wasting so much energy on "Jim." I guess he draws some commentary, and maybe that's good. And liberals typically tend to be a little more tolerant, more willing to let someone like "Jim" have the floor. But, as you know, my feeling has long been that you're overly generous in providing him with some of your own electronic real estate to spout his odious right-wing cant. But it's your blog & your rules. My rule is to never read anything with the "Jim" label.

January 10, 2011 at 8:18:00 PM EST  
Blogger Robert G. Zuckerman said...

I think the principles are sound but the conditions which gave rise to those principles and to which they were orginally intended to apply have changed dramatically, and to adhere unbendingly to precepts that do not account for or adequately address the then (founding) unknown realities of today is less than wise or in keeping with the core intention of the Founders.

January 10, 2011 at 8:26:00 PM EST  
Blogger Robert G. Zuckerman said...

And Jim, your statement about a man's writings being a good indication of his thoughts is something I agree with!

January 10, 2011 at 9:37:00 PM EST  
Blogger Lally said...

Just like fundamentalist religious groups think only their interpretation of the Bible is correct (as in homosexuality which the Bible doesn't even mention they see the Bible condemning and so they must condemn it too because their god said so, but the Bible also says they should be buried up to their neck and stoned to death for cheating on their wives and somehow, that and so many other parts of the Bible can be ignored et-endlessly-cetera, so too the right and all its manifestations think they are the only one's who can interpret the Constitution and what the Founders intended, "Jim" even thinks he knows exactly how James Madison would feel were he to encounter me and others who comment on this blog. Well, I've studied the Founders and our early history pretty seriously, and almost all of them held ideas that came out of the Enlightenment, and from my reading most of them would be appalled at what the Tea Party and the right has done and are doing to their enlightened ideas. But, of course, they would have varying opinions, as people always do.

January 10, 2011 at 9:52:00 PM EST  
Blogger JIm said...

I believe we have agreement, with your last two statements. I find that I am reflexadly (sp) a Constitutional originalist. The TARP bailout of the financial system tested my principals. I believe the intervention was necessay to save a system that was imploding world wide. October 1987 was a cakewalk by comparison.

PS TPW, you cut me to the quick.

January 10, 2011 at 9:54:00 PM EST  
Blogger JIm said...

Michael, You are a poor reader of history and of Constitutional history. It was the blend of the Enlightenment, religious history, including the Bible and the Roman and Greek philisophical thought that resulted in the miracle that is the American Constitutional Republic.

January 10, 2011 at 10:07:00 PM EST  
Blogger Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Let's not forget the pillaging of the Native Peoples, with whom some four hundred treaties have been broken by the "miracle that is the American Constitutional Republic."

January 10, 2011 at 11:03:00 PM EST  
Blogger JIm said...

St. Augustan said something to this affect; Please save me from sexual depravity and debuachery, but not just yet. America, as a nation, has done questionable and despicable things. A man, a nation and a civilization should be judged within their times. America has had considerably more positive effect on the world than negative.

January 10, 2011 at 11:16:00 PM EST  
Blogger Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Jim, please get real with yourself and answer Caitlin's question honestly. I remember being in therapy in the '90s and the therapist asking me "how does that feel?" and I was at a loss for words - it's hard for guys to talk about their feelings, it requires courage and intent. I learned through practice and letting go of pride how to express my feelings and it was and is powerful and liberating. This is a great opportunity for you and all of us on this blog.

January 11, 2011 at 4:28:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert, I wholeheartedly applaud your mention of the broken treaties with the Native People of this "great" country. It has always felt shameful to me that we are such hypocrites, telling other countries how to go about their business when we have such a messy past of our own to clean up, hundreds of years later. A drop in the bucket time wise compared to Israel, etc., but still.

January 11, 2011 at 8:03:00 AM EST  
Blogger JIm said...

It is a challenge to respond to a left wing censor who is tolerant, only of ideas he agrees with, with like all conservatives are liars, racist and crazy gun owners. I understand that the left is attempting to make another run at the Fairness Doctrine. The censor should be happy with both, since they explicitly violate the Constitution and he has little reqard for said document. The encouraging thing for conservatives, is that respect for the Constituion is rising which is bad news for liberal/socialists and those who would curtail free speech.

January 11, 2011 at 9:54:00 AM EST  
Blogger Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Free speech doesn't mean you can say any dam thing you want any time, and this blog is not a news organization or the press, it is "private enterprise" and the proprietor can do as he pleases, just as you could do on your own blog- do you have one by the way?

January 11, 2011 at 6:43:00 PM EST  
Blogger JIm said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 12, 2011 at 10:48:00 AM EST  

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