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Beyond Carter

Turns out Jimmy C.'s not the only one "on the other side." The good people at Powerline actually think that "The whole mainstream of the [Democratic] party is engaged in an effort that is a betrayal of America." That there would be a very serious problem for our nation's security, and I take it the call to start up a new Gulag won't be far away. Is even Norm Minetta in on the plot? For that matter, the overwhelming majority of federal employees are, by this standard, on the other side. A somewhat paradoxical situation, to be sure, but just another day in the life of the increasingly-deranged hawkosphere.

February 23, 2005 | Permalink

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» My Universal Theory on Rightists from The Left Coaster
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Comments

Drunk on power, as their blog title explicitely states. You can't say you're not warned.

Posted by: Mat | Feb 23, 2005 3:02:34 AM

This question has been asked countless times. Sometimes it's rhetorical, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes in disbelief. But do you guys really think people like the powerline folks believe the loony shit they say?

On one hand, there are a ton of whacked out people with whacked out paranoid thoughts, and it's not a stretch to believe said people could start a website and post those thoughts. On the other had, there's a difference (or maybe there isn't and that's where I'm wrong?) between being looney and being dumb. Posts like the one Matthew is talking about (and the Jimmy Cater mess?!) is insane, yes, but it's also ridiculously asinine. And while I'm fully prepared to believe the powerline guys are out of their minds, they don't strike me as particularly ignorant people.

So I guess I believe these are guys looking to gain some quick money and influence by pandering to online ditto heads. Am I way off here?

Posted by: Jim | Feb 23, 2005 3:20:15 AM

Things to expect:

An "enemy of the people" could be imprisoned, relocated, or executed, and his property could be confiscated. Close relatives of enemies of the people were branded "relatives of an enemy of the people", which effected in restrictions of their rights.
[...]
In 1927, the penal code of the Soviet Union was changed drastically. The update of the penal code turned the country into a police state, full of informants, who were derogatorily called stukach (стукач, lit. "knocker"). According to Article 58 (RSFSR Penal Code), everyone was obligated to report all "anti-Soviet activity", including any expression of disagreement with the policy of the Party, even in casual jokes.
[...]
One might wonder why there were so many enemies of workers left, seemingly contrary to the initial claims of Bolsheviks that the opponents of the proletariat were crushed as a class in the Soviet Union. This was handily explained by Stalinist doctrine, which included the "theory of the aggravation of class struggle under socialism".
[...]
Since 1937, the ranks of the "enemies of the people" were significantly extended with the Traitor of Motherland Family Members.

The extreme treatment of opponents is one of numerous reasons why the Soviet Union's government is often considered authoritarian or even totalitarian by its critics.
http://www.answers.com/topic/enemy-of-the-people

Posted by: abb1 | Feb 23, 2005 3:22:51 AM

Don't get your knickers in a knot over a couple of drunk Minnesota lawyers. They are not the Republican Party. If they were, it would be easy to defeat them.

Posted by: MFB | Feb 23, 2005 4:16:49 AM

You know what: I'm an American. I have never been anything but, having been born here. I have no meaningful contact with foreign nationals. I have spent little time outside the country. It's actually impossible for me to "betray America" in this sense.

I am an American, goddamn it, and I am sick and tired of Republicans trying to co-opt that word and turn it into a synonym for "Republican." I think you folks over there on the right are misguided and wrong on most counts. But you're still my countrymen and women. If you can't return the sentiment, you have a entered a dark, dark place. The folks at Powerline need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves what they have become.

Because the language they are using to describe Democrats is the language of war. Do they really want to go there?

Posted by: Timothy Klein | Feb 23, 2005 4:26:46 AM

There's a near-term and a long-term problem here. Near-term, the Justice Dept. is now run by that noted civil libertarian, Al Gonzalez.

The famous internet ad that briefly appeared in the Spectator yesterday seems to have drawn more attention for the gay marriage panel. Don't forget the other panel suggested they weren't supporting the troops, a phrase difficult to pin down clearly but certainly suggests at least some vague kind of disloyalty.

Long-term, the head Powerliner is an lvy-educated lawyer who works at a respectable corporate law firm, so when he writes like this, some readers begin thinking that no one will be terribly upset, much less captured & prosecuted, if they were to take out some of the traitors. Consider how much exposure Ann Coulter ("would that the Army actually began targeting journalists") gets in an average week. Anyone who looks at Neiwert's blog from time to time has a sense of how many heavily armed bands there are out there. They're quiescent for now, but what if the electoral trends turn against the Republicans in the next 4-6-8 years?

Let's not forget Oklahoma City.

Posted by: ozoid | Feb 23, 2005 4:49:17 AM

Powerline has officially crossed the line into self-parody. I'm a right leaning centrist, and can't stand how officious they've become. Winning the "Blog of the Year" award killed what was a strongly conservative, but still interesting and well argued site.

Posted by: TW. Andrews | Feb 23, 2005 4:52:16 AM

Wasn't it Churchill who said that the traditions of the Royal Navy were "Rum, sodomy and the lash"?

Recreation aside, that's a bit more generous than suggesting that dissidents be drawn and quartered, or otherwise removed from social intercourse.

Posted by: bad Jim | Feb 23, 2005 5:10:19 AM

If Powerline (and Ann Coulter) think it treasonous, then sign me up to be a traitor.

Posted by: Anthony | Feb 23, 2005 6:06:38 AM

Al Gore accused Bush of "betraying America" and I don't remember Matthew churning out the outraged little strawmen, misrepresentations and deliberate misunderstandings then.

Posted by: am | Feb 23, 2005 6:38:37 AM

The last time the US saw that many traitors was the Confederacy. And not even.

Posted by: John Isbell | Feb 23, 2005 7:34:22 AM

Oh - "strawmen." I think am does not know the meaning of that word.

Posted by: John Isbell | Feb 23, 2005 7:35:25 AM

"And the reason I'm recalling those feelings now is because those are the feelings that were betrayed by this president! He betrayed this country! He played on our fears! He took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure that was preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place!"

See am, some of us on the left take this politics stuff to be more than a game. The charge Gore levelled against Bush was specific and to my satisfaction correct.

Gore didn't call Bush a traitor, what Bush and his cabal have done is impeachable but not treason.

Posted by: Troy | Feb 23, 2005 7:45:29 AM

Anything's impeachable, I suppose, if you've got the votes in the House. Which you don't.

But, so long as we're on the topic, have you ever wondered if, had you just let Clinton take the fall, instead of defending him so fervently, Gore might not be President today?

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Feb 23, 2005 8:02:13 AM

Mr. Iglesias, you are on to something. It could be more important than you think. I hope you follow through. Your voice is stronger than mine.
I took the liberty of linking to your post this morning.
http://hootsbuddy.blogspot.com/2005/02/this-i-dont-like-at-all.html

Posted by: John Ballard | Feb 23, 2005 8:02:15 AM

Right think or group think, the days of the fascist are at hand. I expect a sort of kristallnacht in the blogoshpere any day now. They control the government, and it’s our fault; we re-elected them and their kind. The one department of the administration that should have changed the most changed the least. A dark suppressive curtain is descending on America. Get your mind right or you’ll will be counted among the enemy. Over the next four year, irrevocable harm will be done to American that will last for decades if not forever. Pray God protect us from faith-based government and its fanatical supporters.

Yea, verily I say unto thee.

Posted by: scou29c | Feb 23, 2005 8:02:16 AM

(1) The Confederates were of course not traitors; merely citizens of a different country.

(2) Posts like Powerline's mimic Germany, 1932. Here we go, check your airbags--this may be a wild ride.

Posted by: some guy | Feb 23, 2005 8:38:18 AM

This is similar to when some American Israel hawks started using the term "objectively anti-Semitic" to describe people who advocated policies toward Israel with which they disapproved. The idea was that the best interests of the Jewish people might require the pursuiot of certain policies XYZ; so, if you advocate policies contrary to XYZ, you thereby advocate policies that are harmful to the Jewish people. Thus you are "objectively anti-Semitic" whether or not you intend harm to the Jewish people, or harbor any actual dislike of, or malice toward them.

Of course, one consequence of this definition is there is no telling who may turn out to be "objectively anti-Semitic" over the long run. Anyone from Martin Buber to Ariel Sharon may turn out to be objectively anti-Semitic, depending on whether their actions turn out in the end to have advanced or harmed the interests of the Jewish people.

Another problem is that, while people are free to invent new terms to their heart's content, and define them as they wish, this particular neologism contains an existing term, "anti-Semitism", which is generally taken as indicating prejudice toward, or dislike or fear of Jews or Jewish things. Thus whether or not one is anti-Semitic, in the standard sense, depends on one's attitudes. The inventors of the new term seem to seek a term with which they can not-so-subtly connote actual dislike of Jews, while denying that the imputation of such dislike is part of the literal meaning of what they say.

A similar rhetorical strategy is at work in Powerline's use of the phrase "engaged in an effort that is a betrayal of America". This seems to mean that they believe the mainstream of the Democratic party is either (i) engaged in an effort that is, in fact, an "objective betrayal" of their country, that they are pursuing policies that are damaging to its interests, whether or not they intend to do so, and whether or not they are engaged in the deceit, fraud, theachery or faithlessness that are generally understood to be involved in treason; or (ii) they are the dupes of a genuinely treasonous effort by others.

And some of the same points apply to this phrase that apply to "objective anti-Semitism". It is impossible to say who is or is not "engaged in an effort that is a betrayal of America" in that broad sense, since anyone may turn out, despite themselves, to have pursued policies that are contrary to America's interests, or to have beeen the unwilling dupes of some Manchurian candidate with the actual intent of harming America.

Powerline alse seeks to use a term with which they can strongly connote actual malice toward one's country, while at the same time denying that imputation is part of their literal meaning.

Posted by: Dan Kervick | Feb 23, 2005 8:41:34 AM

Perhaps I should take that comment back. Powerline's wallies certainly have a lot of defenders here today. Especially Mr. Bellmore, who believes that good and evil are entirely determined by how many senators you have bought yourself.

Those Caligula references on some other threads may or may not be unfair to Bush, but they do seem to reflect a lot of conservative ideologues, at least on the Net.

Posted by: MFB | Feb 23, 2005 8:50:17 AM

I suppose one could take the Powerline people at their word. People who love what America (used to) stand for: human rights, justice, the rule of law (both domestically and in the international arena), or even mere pragmatism and honest dealings with one's fellow man, and who mourn and resist the betrayal and destruction of that heritage, are "on the other side".

The Powerline people are just telling us, indirectly, which side they are on. As Al Gore also cited in one of his speeches: look upon their works, and you shall know them. Then look at Abu Ghraib, and know Bush. Look at monstrous deficits, and know Bush. Look at Osama bin Laden still at large, and know Bush.

Posted by: dm | Feb 23, 2005 8:53:55 AM

"who believes that good and evil are entirely determined by how many senators you have bought yourself."

Who said anything about "good and evil"? I thought the word was, "impeachable". And, by definition, if you can't be impeached, you're not "impeachable".

And, by the way, it's the House that impeaches. So that's how many Representatives you've bought, smarty pants.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Feb 23, 2005 8:58:59 AM

"Because the language they are using to describe Democrats is the language of war. Do they really want to go there?"

That's a rhetorical question.

Posted by: Democratic Dept. of Defense | Feb 23, 2005 9:12:46 AM

I'm not sure it helps to have lefty/liveral types keening about "fascism" and "gulags" - I, too, am appalled at the way some conservatives throw around comments like "undermining America" and "traitor" way too casually to my mind. These are serious accusations, with serious implications, and one ought to bring them up and addressthem in a serious way, focusing on specifics and dealing with the cases of individuals not groups. That said, Ann Coulter's credibility is in most instances all but nil (except to, what, Sean Hannity?), and I've largely ignored the PowerLine, among others. When they're interested in engaging in an interesting conversation with people they don't agree with, without resorting to the invective and name calling, I might reconsider.

Posted by: weboy | Feb 23, 2005 9:14:58 AM

Powerline has officially crossed the line into self-parody

umm, bullshit. the things they are saying are completely typical of what i hear from the right wing every single day. it is completely unsurprising to hear the labels "America-hater", "pro-Saddam", "pro-terrorist", "other side", etc from people who are completely convinced everyone to the left of John McCain is out to destroy America. Coulter did title her book "Treason", after all. and Hannity's "Deliver us from evil (defeating terrorism, despotism and liberalism)" isn't a parody of the right wing - it is the right wing.

Posted by: cleek | Feb 23, 2005 9:37:35 AM

Powerline et al. are on the verge of a cyber-version of Oklahoma City 1995. Drunk on their own power, their rhetoric zooms off to the stratosphere. There are no limits. And then... People wake up.

Posted by: Elrod | Feb 23, 2005 9:43:51 AM

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