Monday, August 17, 2009

How liberals learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

A long, long time ago liberals pretended to care about the deaths of foreigners at the hands of the U.S. military, with chants of “Bush lied, people died” dominating protests -- since hilariously appropriated by right-wing reactionaries -- and Daily Kos diarists penning morally righteous denunciations of the American empire. Then something changed: Barack Obama was elected.

Since that fateful day, while the Democratic rank-and-file say they oppose Obama’s wars, it doesn’t appear to be a pressing concern to the quasi-professional online activist set, which spends more time documenting the antics of (and shouting fascism! in response to) Sarah Palin and her painfully ignorant groupies than opposing the president’s escalation in Afghanistan or his undeclared war in Pakistan. In this respect, donkey partisans are merely following the example of their erstwhile anti-war leaders, who seamlessly segued from campaign promises to bring the troops home in 2006 to appropriating ever more funds for the imperial adventures they once claimed to have vehemently opposed.

Proving that partisans on both ends of the spectrum are incapable of being parodied, progressive activists attending “Netroots Nation” this weekend -- a conference where upper-middle class liberal bloggers come to learn how to become “a media star” by following the “tools and techniques used by professional actors to create star presence” (taught by a “media trainer to performers and successful progressive candidates”, which sounds a tad redundant) and to be flattered by Democratic politicians hungry for campaign donations -- gave Obama’s presidency a 95% approval rating, according to a poll (pdf) conducted there.

This comes despite Obama's apparent disavowal of a single-payer healthcare system, a top priority of the Democratic base, his aforementioned imperial escalations, and his denial of habeas corpus to those accused of acts of terrorism. Obama does, however, typically speak in complete, coherent sentences, which to the average liberal is more than enough to “restore America’s standing in the world."

Digging deeper into the poll of Netroots conference attendees, one sees that but one brave soul just 1 percent (which comes out to about two people) declared ending the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan their top priority (who let Cindy Sheehan in?). This lagged behind other liberal priorities, such as: “Working to elect progressive candidates in the 2010 elections”; “Working to enact President Obama's agenda generally”; and of course, “Countering right-wing attacks on Obama and his agenda.”

As historian David Beito writes of the would-be power brokers of the liberal blogosphere, “If the antiwar movement ever makes a comeback, it won't be because of them.”

The top priority of the Netroots crowd? “Passing comprehensive health care reform”, which -- while I understand the status quo is a catastrophic mess -- seems a tad curious in light of the president’s promise to cut health care costs by but a meager 2 percent and his refusal to back what many progressive activists believe to be the answer to our corrupt corporatist system. It also strikes me as indefensibly nationalistic since -- and hear me out -- putting healthcare reform ahead of dismantling the warfare state implicitly signals that one values cutting their health care bill by a few percentage points more than stopping their government from using their tax dollars to kill and maim poor foreigners. Call me crazy, but I say any professed liberal humanitarian should abide by the rule, “first, do no harm” -- meaning, at the very least, stop killing people.

I’d also suggest dismantling the domestic police state should take precedence, still I suppose America’s record number of incarcerated do get some form of free government healthcare.

Meanwhile, though liberal activists may no longer be all that concerned about taxpayer-funded murder in far-off lands, CNN reports an almost poetic coincidence: “President Obama will take a brief hiatus from his health care push on Monday and turn his focus to the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan.”


  1. This is indeed the discussion that needs to take place. Thanks for starting it off.

  2. Digging the nutroots out of (what's left of) the antiwar movement shouldn't be too difficult. Keeping them out might prove all together more problematic.

  3. So let's make it a topic of discussion.

  4. A Black woman sent me a Facebook message about a study she learned of at Netroots Nation: Women, Blacks and Latinos use e-tools in different ways than "the general population".

    Of course the problem with that assertion is that women Blacks and Latinos combined make up about 68-70% of the population and so rather than diverging from the general population, we ARE, when combined, the general population.

    I confess that I didn't read anything more about the study, since the premise that white men (30% of America) are the general population blinded me to anything else the study might have had to say. Of course, it doesn't surprise me that at the WhiteMaleRoots Conference white men could consider and arrogate unto themselves the name "the general population."

    I am NOT opposed to white men. I am opposed to the premise that the 30% of America comprised of white men is "the general population" of America. I would be equally incredulous and shocked if someone asserted that Blacks, in and of themselves, were the "the general population" of the United States.

    Keep one thing in mind when it comes to WhiteRoots Nation. It was started by Markos C. Alberto Moulitsas Zúñiga, who trained at the CIA to be a secret agent from 2001 until 2003, according to an audiotape of his speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, on June 2, 2006.

    The CIA doesn't train people for two years in Washington DC for nothing. And Moulitsas has never disclaimed a current relationship with the CIA.

    So, I agree with you that if there is going to be an anti-war movement in the US, it won't come from DailyKos.

    When Obama was running for president, he seemed to understand the bloodlust of certain sectors of American society, and so instead of promising peace as a general proposition, he proposed to move the Iraq War to Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's a promise he seems to be keeping, as 22,000 new troops move to Afghanistan and Pakistan has more overt US military action now than at any time in the memorable past.

    We've really got a three front war going on in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan that threatens to include Iran. Obama may be the President Johnson of this decade, forced to leave office because he widens wars that he has no way to finish successfully.

    Instead of campaigning for public option health care, perhaps Obama should campaign for his expanded imperialist wars in the Middle East, which is far more likely to placate his Republican enemies than any capitulation on health care will. Tongue in cheek.

    From what I hear, some of those who are obstructing the health care public meetings are doing so out of hatred of the first Black president rather than opposition to health care reform. If so, we're in for a long eight years of ugly skin-color-aroused Obama hatred on the small but noisy fringes of American society.

  5. Spartacus, Allan -- thanks for the comments.

    Francis -- thanks for the treatise. That reference to the "general population" (i.e. white men) when obviously women and minorities constitute a majority of Americans is illuminating; despite the liberal blogosphere's claims to represent the real Democratic Party (or whatever it is they actually claim anymore), it's pretty clear they represent one segment: privileged white male merit-class types (though to be fair, I'm probably part of that class too).

    As for Kos and the CIA? I doubt he's an agent -- he's actually linked to me before, which I suppose indicates he hasn't read my work very carefully -- though that does make for a delicious conspiracy theory. However, his effort to join America's premier assassination and destabilization squad does point to just how much many online liberal activists actually worship the state -- when it's run by Democrats -- and how they have no principled opposition to U.S. interventionism.