In Praise of Massachusetts Liberals

In the 2004 American presidential campaign, the label “Massachusetts liberal” was used as an epithet by Republican against the Democratic candidate John Kerry. In the argot of conservatives, the term signifies a candidate who is unacceptably far left, out of the mainstream of American politics – as indicated by their association with the prosperous, well-educated, gay-friendly state of Massachusetts. (See Conservapedia, which, as always, is not a parody.)

I find it interesting that this term has no parallel on the other side of the aisle. George W. Bush, for example, was not vilified as a “Texas conservative” – although Bush himself seems to have done his best to make that a term of abuse. Perhaps that’s because liberal politics, unlike modern conservative politics, is not founded on demonization and personal attacks against fellow states and citizens – but never mind that. In this post, I want to take a different tack, and rehabilitate the “Massachusetts liberal”. That is not a term that America’s progressives should shrink from, but a badge we should wear with pride.

Where, after all, was America born? Where was the first blow for liberty struck, where was the spirit of American independence loosed? Not the deep South. No, the famous “shot heard ’round the world” was fired in Massachusetts, where the American Revolution began with the battles of Lexington and Concord. And the men who led us to that pass were not Southern conservatives, but Massachusetts liberals in the truest sense of the word.

The earliest stirrings of rebellion against British rule took place in Massachusetts. When Parliament sought to enact stamp taxes on all papers and legal documents, taxing the colonists without benefit of representation, it was in Massachusetts that protests were first and fiercest. When British redcoats sought to put down colonial resistance to taxes by firing into a crowd of protestors, turning colonial opinion against their rulers, it was in Boston that the massacre took place. It was in Boston that American patriots rebelled against British attempts to flood the market with cheap imported tea, organizing the famous midnight raid that dumped tons of the hated stuff into the harbor. And when the British government sought to crush the rebellion by passing the Intolerable Acts, it was Massachusetts’ government and ports that were targeted – leading, soon thereafter, to the battles that began the American Revolution.

And the men who led this rebellion, and shepherded the new nation afterward, were liberals in the truest sense of the word. Rejecting the authority of the king, they founded a country which was to have “a government of laws and not of men” (a phrase, incidentally, that comes from the Massachusetts Constitution). Among these proud Bostonians was Samuel Adams:

Let us contemplate our forefathers, and posterity, and resolve to maintain the rights bequeathed to us from the former, for the sake of the latter. The necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance. Let us remember that “if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.” It is a very serious consideration… that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.

as well as John Adams, later to be our second President, who defended the British soldiers accused of committing the Boston Massacre and called it “one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country”. (Can you imagine anyone saying the same thing today about defending prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?) And Paul Revere, John Hancock and James Otis (to whom we owe the phrase “Taxation without representation is tyranny”) can also be numbered among the ranks of Massachusetts liberals who played a vital role in our nation’s founding.

Although the founding fathers were liberals by the standards of their time, I think we can go further: even by the standards of today, they would still be liberals in most respects. In America, the political right for the past eight years has been defined by its allegiance to a single, supreme leader who is to be given unchecked political power and who, according to many prominent conservative legal thinkers, cannot be restrained by any law – or even the Constitution. This, as has been noted, is what our founders were rebelling against. The idea that they would have found any kinship with the modern right is preposterous – far more likely, they would have been aghast.

From America’s founding to the modern day, Massachusetts liberals have led the nation in the fight for democracy and equality, spearheading all kinds of social movements that later took root and flourished in the country as a whole. (The abolitionist movement is another prominent example.) This is a heritage we should stand proudly behind. The conservatives who demonize Massachusetts liberals are now, as they have always been, on the wrong side of history, and while their appeals to bigotry and prejudice may find favor for a time, in the end they will fall just as all their predecessors have done.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Rowen

    Texas has gotten a bad rap. Don’t go equating Texas with stupid, uber-conservative or Bush. He’s from Maine and went to school at Yale . . . I have no idea where he picked up that accent. Not mention it doesn’t sound like a Texas accent, as opposed to a bad King of the Hill parody. Yes, it’s true that many Texans are conservative (there’s a reason why I moved to New York), and there’s still places that need a lot of help (Vider), but it’s still a great place to be, and we’ve had some good senators/politicians. I’ve yet to see anything good come out of Alabama or Mississippi. ^_^

  • Leum

    I’ve yet to see anything good come out of Alabama or Mississippi.

    Rosa Parks?

  • http://candycolouredfrown.blogspot.com Jackie

    As one who was born and raised in Boston, I appreciate this post a lot. Thanks. :D

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    Perhaps that’s because liberal politics, unlike modern conservative politics, is not founded on demonization and personal attacks against fellow states and citizens – but never mind that.

    I hope this is a joke. I’m no conservative, but to deny that liberals play the personal attack and demonization game any less than conservatives reflects a severe myopia. I suggesting reading something other than Daily Kos.

  • Alex, FCD

    He’s from Maine and went to school at Yale . . . I have no idea where he picked up that accent. Not mention it doesn’t sound like a Texas accent, as opposed to a bad King of the Hill parody.

    I’ve heard that if Shrub is having a bad day, he starts to sound like he’s pahking his cah in the Hahvahd Yahd. It’s all anecdotal, unfortunately. I haven’t been able to track down any audio.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    I hope this is a joke.

    No, it is not a joke.

    I’m no conservative, but to deny that liberals play the personal attack and demonization game any less than conservatives reflects a severe myopia.

    No, it doesn’t, and to say otherwise is an example of the fallacy of false balance. Politics is always a dirty game, I grant, and both sides have used personal attacks on many occasions. But at this time in American history, the allegedly conservative political party has elevated the use of personal attacks to a virtually unprecedented degree. In fact, their entire strategy is based on it. If you want evidence, you can turn on any 24-hour TV channel, where you’ll be able to witness an unending barrage of slime and slander against Barack Obama from John McCain and his surrogates. In case you’ve forgotten, I also have personal experience of this stemming from the North Carolina Senate race, where Elizabeth Dole’s campaign and the NRSC have taken to open bigotry against atheists and gays in their ads. In none of these cases have the Democrats replied in kind.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Now, we have John McCain claiming that Obama is the most liberal person to ever run for president! Where have I heard that before? Maybe it was 4 years ago when Bush said the same thing about Kerry. Or maybe it was 8 years ago when Bush said the same thing about Gore. Or maybe it was 12 years ago when Dole said the same thing about Clinton, etc.

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    But at this time in American history, the allegedly conservative political party has elevated the use of personal attacks to a virtually unprecedented degree.

    But yours was a general accusation, not one specific to “this time in American history” as you now say.

    But if you think today represents the pinnacle of personal attacks in politics, well, all I can say is your myopia is even worse than I thought. As defamatory as Palin and McCain’s attacks are, no one has actually, you know, died (knock on wood), which cannot be said of past political campaigns.

    But what’s really surprising is how quickly you seemed to have forgotten the nasty, bitter, and profane battle for the Democratic nomination, particularly over the spring and summer. Palin wasn’t the first to bring up the Ayers/Obama terrorist connection canard, you know. To those of us who’ve been following the presidential campaign from the start, the Palin/McCain attacks (which have severely backfired, it should be remembered), feel a little bit like deja vu.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Ebon, another geographic slur that the wingnuts like to use is “San Francisco values.” And of course, we’ve just found out recently that certain parts of Virginia are not “the real Virginia.”

  • Samuel Skinner

    This is a time when the GOP has run ads implying their opponents are child molesters, that there opponents are war criminals and are in bed with terrorists.

  • Christopher

    “Conservative,” “Liberal” “terrorist” – these terms have ceased to have any meaning to me besides “he’s the other guy, get him!”

    I’m casting my ballat in protest of a system that used to be a republic(I’m voting a straight fictional character ticket), but now is practically an oligarchy…

  • 2-D Man

    Robert: But if you think today represents the pinnacle of personal attacks…

    Who brought up pinnacle? All anybody said was that they do. Republicans today motivate their followers with buzzwords and personal attacks, not logic and reason.

    Robert: But yours was a general accusation, not one specific to “this time in American history” as you now say.

    Ebonmuse: Perhaps that’s because liberal politics, unlike modern conservative politics…

    So modern is missing from the qualifiers of liberal, sounds like an uncharitable interpretation to me.

    As for your third point, just because Clinton may have done it, doesn’t make it right. Just because Clinton may have done it, doesn’t mean that conservatives aren’t doing it now, and it doesn’t mean that the democrats are doing it now. Most importantly, the McCain campaign doesn’t even try to stop news outlets from spouting these epithets any more.

  • Jormungandr

    Ebonmuse,
    I have read and enjoyed your previous writings, but I have difficulty taking this seriously. For one thing you are conflating 1700′s liberals with modern progressives. It is sad that 1700′s liberals and modern progressives are both called ‘liberal,’ but let us not get caught up in confusing the two. They are very different in their political stances. Modern progressives do not value liberty any more than modern conservatives. They do value liberty more than the neoconservatives currently in power, though. But then if you wish to define neoconservatives as being conservative (I don’t), then I could see where you are coming from.
    Another matter is the fact that you think that modern progressive politics is any cleaner than conservative politics. The democrats are just as dirty as the worst republicans. Barack Obama himself has run a pretty clean campaign (I applaud him for that), but the democratic party has no less sleaze in it that the republicans. I can not understand how someone can see the democrats as not being a party based off of dirty politics unless they are blinded by partisanship. I can understand favoring the democrats, but don’t let that blind you to their dirty campaigning.
    Your claim that modern conservative politics has ‘elevated the use of personal attacks to a virtually unprecedented degree’ is also plainly wrong. Please look into the personal attack campaigns used in early US presidential elections. Our modern smear campaigns are mild compared to the vitriol of yesteryear.
    That being said you are correct about the odd lack of smears against someone for being a right-wing hick. I suppose that is due to the undeserved respect given to ‘small town values’ and rural areas. Somehow big city people can be slurred as amoral gay loving liberals, yet smears against backwards small-town gay hating rednecks are not used. Perhaps Palin’s stupidity will allow people to more openly point out that small town folk have problems and are not the moral standard of America.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    That’s one data point at best, Robert; I’m dealing with the totality of the evidence. Even the Hillary Clinton campaign (which was defeated, I note) has not made the ridiculous Ayers accusations a centerpiece of their political strategy in the way the McCain campaign and his surrogates have. And on top of that, we can add – just in the past week or so – the McCain campaign volunteer who carved a ‘B’ into her own face and then accused a fictitious black Obama supporter (the McCain campaign staff helped push this story to news outlets), plus the McCain campaign mailer to Pennsylvania Jewish voters claiming that there would be a second Holocaust if Obama is elected, plus the Republican anchorwoman in Florida who asked Joe Biden outright if Barack Obama was a Communist. To that, we can also add the increasing numbers of people shouting racist epithets and threats at McCain rallies, plus the right-wing claims that Obama is a secret Muslim, that he wasn’t really born in America, that he’s assisting ACORN in committing massive voter fraud, that his former pastor hates America (while right-wing pastors who say things far worse tend to get a pass), that he’s an ally of Louis Farrakhan, and that he had a gay affair with a pedophile. Jon Swift has an excellent round-up of these rumors, some of which are confined to the right-wing blogosphere, some of which have made it to the Drudge Report or Fox, and some of which are being directly pushed by the McCain campaign or its surrogates.

    And we don’t need to confine ourselves to the presidential race. There is, as I noted before, the Elizabeth Dole campaign which is openly cuddling up to anti-atheist bigotry. There were Sarah Palin’s infamous remarks about “the real America”. There was Michele Bachman calling for a new HUAC on national TV to find out which members of Congress are “anti-America”. There was GOP candidate Rep. Robin Hayes saying that liberals hate “real Americans”. There were the Republican mobs that harassed the family of Graeme Frost, a disabled young boy, who appeared in a Democratic ad on behalf of the SCHIP program that his family benefited from. In 2006, there was Rush Limbaugh accusing Michael J. Fox of faking his Parkinson’s symptoms to win sympathy after he cut an ad for Claire McCaskill. In 2002, the Senate campaign of Saxby Chambliss accused Max Cleland, a triple-amputee Vietnam veteran, of being an enemy of America and a friend of Osama bin Laden.

    And before that, we have the 2004 campaign and the Swift Boat ads, which accused a decorated American veteran of lying about his military service, and the 2004 Republican convention, where attendees wore Band-Aids decorated with purple hearts to mock his injuries sustained in the line of duty. Before that, in 2000, the Bush campaign with the assistance of the press labeled Al Gore a serial liar for claims that he did not in fact make. Before that, in the Clinton years, there were feverish accusations that the Clintons had murdered Vince Foster and a Republican Congress that very seriously took it upon themselves to investigate whether the President had had extramarital affairs, and then trying to impeach him for that. Before that, there was Michael Dukakis and the racist Willie Horton ads.

    I decline to play the game of false equivalence. The Democrats have been a disappointment in a lot of ways, but one thing they’re not is the party of personal destruction. The Republicans are, at least at this point in American history. I’m far from the only one to notice this, as you should be well aware; it’s been widely noted by media observers, even those, like David Brooks, who are sympathetic to McCain:

    But no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin. Nobody so relentlessly divides the world between the “normal Joe Sixpack American” and the coastal elite.

    My review of Glenn Greenwald’s excellent book Great American Hypocrites has more examples of this.

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    Who brought up pinnacle? All anybody said was that they do.

    Ebonmuse wrote “virtually unprecedented degree” when describing the level of personal attacks by Palin/McCain.

    Republicans today motivate their followers with buzzwords and personal attacks, not logic and reason.

    Oh, Democrats don’t do the same? Really, you should peruse a broader range of news media.

    As for your third point, just because Clinton may have done it, doesn’t make it right. Just because Clinton may have done it, doesn’t mean that conservatives aren’t doing it now, and it doesn’t mean that the democrats are doing it now.

    (Some) Democrats don’t need to. I have no doubt, however, that if Obama was behind, he’d be pulling out all the stops. If Hillary had been the nominee…well, we saw how far she was willing to go.

    But you know the really funny thing here? The individuals of the American Revolution Ebonmuse attempts to equate with today’s liberals – Samuel Adams, John Adams, Paul Revere, James Otis, etc. – were actually “classical liberals”. Who are today’s classical liberals? The progressives’ hated libertarians.

  • terrence

    From Thomas Jefferson:

    “To take from one because it is thought his own industry … has acquired too much, in order to spare others who … have not exercised equal industry and skill is to violate the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

    Maybe he wasn’t a real Virginian…..

  • Samuel Skinner

    Wait… Bill Clinton is a liberal? When did this happen? You have to remember that the Democrats are a right-wing political party.

    Classical liberals are similar to todays neo-liberals… which are responsible for causing the current economic crisis. Apparently you DO need the government to regulate the economy? Who would have thought it except you know, anyone who studied history?

    However, what the classical liberals had in common with todays liberals is a rejection of absolute power on the part of the governing authority.

  • Jim Coufal

    Sounds like a bunch of kids screaming, “My dog is meaner than your dog!”

    Jim

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    That’s one data point at best, Robert; I’m dealing with the totality of the evidence.

    So it’s not specifically about “this time in American history” after all?

    Even the Hillary Clinton campaign (which was defeated, I note) has not made the ridiculous Ayers accusations a centerpiece of their political strategy in the way the McCain campaign and his surrogates have.

    The “centerpiece” of their political strategy? It’s a rather odd strategy that makes your centerpiece finally emerge late in the fourth quarter, and for just a few days at that, don’t you think? Did Ayers change his name to “Joe the plumber” recently, because ever since the third debate, that’s all whom we’ve been hearing about from McCain/Palin.

    I decline to play the game of false equivalence. The Democrats have been a disappointment in a lot of ways, but one thing they’re not is the party of personal destruction.

    Really? Robert Bork is just one who may disagree. Recall the campaign against him? It was so vile, even the anti-Bork Washington Post called it a “lynching”. One of the (false) things said about Bork to undermine him was that he was an agnostic. You can sympathize with him on that score, at least.

  • 2-D Man

    Robert,
    Virtually unprecedented degree =/= pinnacle. Read what I had to say about uncharitable interpretations.

    Oh, Democrats don’t [motivate with buzzwords and rhetoric]?

    Not nearly as often. The antiscience crew of the Republican party controls a fairly large block of voters, but they have absolutely nothing of substance to contribute.

    I have no doubt, however, that if Obama was behind, he’d be pulling out all the stops. If Hillary had been the nominee…well, we saw how far she was willing to go.

    It’s a bit silly to incriminate people based on things they haven’t done, Robert.

    The progressives’[sic] hated libertarians.

    Red herring. The point is that the Republicans are trying to paint everybody from Massachusetts as yellow-bellied liberals, yet in doing so, they do the same to these early British rebels.

    So it’s not specifically about “this time in American history” after all?

    “Totality of the evidence” does not necessarily mean you include the Kennedy assasination. Look, if you will, at the totality of this presidential run.

    It’s a rather odd strategy that makes your centerpiece finally emerge late in the fourth quarter

    To continue your stupid football analogy, the hail mary always comes at the end of the fourth quarter when the team falls behind. That’s good strategy, makes for an exciting game, but doesn’t show that your team plays a better game.

  • Oz

    I too was born and raised in the Bay State, but I will not live there again in the foreseeable future. The original rebellion did start there, but that was a long time ago and I am confident that the patriots who led it would be appalled at the state of affairs today. Let’s not forget that Lexington and Concord was a battle resulting from the attempted seizure of arms by the colonial government; today the people have almost no legal arms to seize.

    It’s not true that the left doesn’t attack its opponents. There is an abundance of advertisements these days attempting to link every Republican running to George Bush (there’s your equivalent to “Massachusetts liberal”). It seems that Obama has successfully turned the spotlight onto negative statements from his opponent no matter what the facts are. Nowadays, the people seem to care more that you said something negative than the actual truth value of your statement.

    To tie both themes together, witness the Boston Globe’s explicit lies about Sarah Palin’s policy on rape kits as mayor of Wasllia. Perhaps the reason you don’t see too much mudslinging from Democrats is that they have the major press to do it for them.

  • Justin

    There is an abundance of advertisements these days attempting to link every Republican running to George Bush (there’s your equivalent to “Massachusetts liberal”).

    Frankly, I don’t see an equivalency here, Oz. There is a difference between linking someone like John McCain, (who has voted with the president (90% of the time?) a lot) and stereotyping an entire state as unpatriotic wussies from France. (Or whatever the latest insinuations are).

    Yes, the left can get nasty, more than occasionally. But I just don’t see how anybody might find a “F*** Bush” slogan as bad as the ranting of someone like Bill O’Reilly or Michael Savage. I doubt Keith Olbermann is even half as bad as some of the most popular talk radio hosts.

  • Neil

    Re: jormungandr and especially Robert. I cannot believe that anybody who has watched this campaign, or the last forty years of republican politics for that matter, could actually honestly try to suggest any equivalence between Republican smear tactics and Democratic tactics. I can only assume that you are liars, and know it. I’m not even a Democrat, but this false equivalency is just too dishonest to let slide.

    Ebon brought up quite a few instances of standard Republican tactics…I see that you totally ignored him and tried repeatedly to change the argument. Is that the best you can do when you’re wrong?

    Bush ran roughshod over the constitution for two terms, increasing the power of the Executive every chance he got, while his supporters accused all dissenters of being terrorist sympathizers. Yet even though his policies clearly enable fascism and theocracy, I have yet to hear any Democratic politician call him a fascist or theocrat, or a mass murderer, or a torture enabler, a war profiteer, or even evil or ignorant, all of which are accurate. Not one! Of course, McCain, Palin, and their supporters have no problem calling Obama a “pal” of “terrorists” because he has a loose association with a single 60′s radical. Yes, the two parties are clearly equal!

    Over the last few elections, Democratic candidates have been called terrorists, terrorist sympathizers, baby murderers, America haters…the list goes on and on…
    Republican ads have attacked a decorated soldier as a coward and liar, called moderate democrats communists, attempted to link democrats to terrorism, rape, murder, economic depression, the “gay agenda”(whatever that is), religious persecution…the list goes on and on…
    The current candidates imply that Obama is a terrorist or sympathizer, ridicule his education and background, and local republican groups have made all manner of racial attacks and keep hammering away at the “secret Muslim” lie.

    All you could come up with was Robert Bork…yet you call Ebon myopic! So a far-right judge (and Nixon hatchet man) got raked over the coals a bit, just like any prospective justice should, and you equate this with forty years of extreme racism, jingoism, religious bigotry, and anti-intellectualism!
    Sorry Robert, but there is no equivalence. There hasn’t been since the Jim Crow south last voted Democratic. Michael Moore’s movies are ten times as aggressive as any Democratic ad I’ve ever seen, and yet tame when compared to real, Republican created and endorsed propaganda! For those who just can’t get over their anti-democrat prejudice, false equivalence is the last defense: sadly, it shows just how well Republican propaganda has poisoned discourse in this country.

    Shorter Robert: “No, really, if you ignore all the evidence, and ignore what the candidates and their parties actually say and do, the Democrats are just as bad!”

  • Adam

    Although the founding fathers were liberals by the standards of their time, I think we can go further: even by the standards of today, they would still be liberals in most respects.

    I get what you’re saying, and I have to agree that there is nothing wrong with being liberal, and in fact you make good points in your post.

    But our founding fathers were conservative when it came to government. Less government control = no monarchy… right…that’s the whole point of the start of this awesome country.

    As far as today, being liberal and is not the same as being a socialist, and I think that Obama is treading that water.

    I did not hear the interview with the anchorwoman in Florida who asked Joe Biden outright if Barack Obama was a Communist, but why has the press not looked into Obama more? Pressed this issue at all?

    Here is some evidence that he has some wild ideas about government in America:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iivL4c_3pck

    Here is a blog talking about the issue as well:
    http://www.inforumblog.com/?p=1931

    These are questions I would like answered before I vote.

  • Neil

    And now Oz moves on to the other figment of the republican persecution complex, that darned old “liberal media.” There is no truly “liberal” media in this country outside of local, free weekly papers. What we have in the U.S. are moderately conservative media like many newspapers and most network news, and far right-wing reactionary media, such as Fox, most radio shows, a growing number of network shows, and a fair amount of newspapers as well. It seems that openly criticizing a president, or any republican at all, no matter how fascist or theocratic, is all it takes to be lumped in as “liberal media.” As far as I can understand Republican lies and nonsense, any journalist further left than Rush Limbaugh is a tool of the “liberal media!”
    Also-give me one good reason why ALL republicans shouldn’t have to wear the stinking albatross that is George W. Bush. They have thoroughly earned him, many times over. How many Republican dissenters were there on any issue? A handful? How many Republicans spoke against, or voted against the war, FISA, the “Patriot Act,” faith-based everything, and violation after violation of the constitution? How many republicans spoke against torture, or the improper restaffing of the justice department? How many republicans helped sink the campaign of a successful businessman and veteran because they just couldn’t give up on their villiage idiot, or relinquish power that they couldn’t handle? George Bush and his policies should be rubbed in the face of every Republican who didn’t openly dissent until they apologize, recant, or give up politics.
    That’s not smearing…it’s a little something called personal responsibility, a concept that conservatives yammer on about endlessly, yet never live up to themselves!

    I love how you also seem to blame Obama for daring to use the slander and lies spoken about him to his advantage! Maybe if Republicans bothered to actually USE facts in their arguments, your complaint would have some merit. So far the “truth value” of republican campaign statements has been absolutely zero-but smothered in jingoistic innuendo, spiteful mocking, and outright lies. But go ahead, blame Obama for not being a willing sacrificial lamb, and blame the media for not conforming to the far-right fantasy world of the current Republican party!

  • Neil

    Adam-The founders wanted smaller government than they were used to, for sure. They were used to monarchy. At its worst, monarchy is a system where the King owns everything, including his subjects. The King has the power to tax at will, with no vote or dissent allowed. The King can write laws, enforce personal morals, religion, or taste in clothing on a whim, and punish those who disagree as traitors. Much like most Republicans seem to think the president should be able to do, as long as he’s a white christian!
    Whenever the “smaller government” conservatives pipe up, it is always and only about taxes. The article you linked to is a standard piece of conservative constitutional wisdom. The ridiculous assumption is made, that because the founders wanted a smaller government, and didn’t put specific taxes into the constitution, that they somehow expected a government and a society to function on magic. The fight against taxes was a fight about taxation without representation.
    The richest in this country do not have that problem these days, although they might like you to think they do. They are vastly over-represented compared to the average voter.

    You can shiver and worry every time someone says “redistribution of wealth” if you like, but it won’t make taxes go away. It just means that “smaller government” hypocrites will tax you to death to pay for an overused military, wars for the profit of corporations, modest infrastructure that benefits the wealthy more than the poor, and a nice huge prison system and excessive police in case anyone gets any funny ideas about justice or worker’s rights. Out of thirty years of Republican rule and eight years of stalemate with Clinton facing a hostile legislature, my and my parent’s taxes have NEVER gone down, have risen with Republicans as much as with Dems in power, and the only time it benefits the average american is through liberal policy. You can disagree with these policies and legally work to change them…that is what the constitution guarantees… but don’t fall for the B.S. that the Founders would get the vapors and revolt again over being taxed to live in a rich, modern society.

    So many myths in this thread today…when the supporters of smaller government actually include the destructive, costly, freedom limiting parts of goverment in their tirades, maybe they will be worth getting exited over. Until then, Republicans will NEVER lower your taxes, although they will lower the taxes of the very rich, raise yours, and use the money to kill poor brown people on financial speculation for their own benefit instead of advancing our own society.
    One more point-even if the wildest fears of conservatives came true and Obama turned into Marx himself…just how much wealth do you think one guy can redistribute without a lot of support? Are all of the republicans just going to go away or start voting for higher taxes? Will you? I think the trade off of getting rid of neo-con fascism for a while is well worth a non-existent risk of communism!
    Sorry to comment so heavily and at such length, but it’s painful to see so much easily debunked B.S. floating around this close to an election!

  • Oz

    Oh, my, Neil, there you go right back to the old canard that anyone who disagrees with you must be some kind of right-winger. You don’t know me, okay? Don’t try to label me.

    If you think there’s no leftist bias in the major media, you haven’t been paying attention. I already gave you one example in the Boston Globe’s (the major newspaper of New England) publishing of utterly unsubstantiated claims; the Internet abounds with other sourced examples. Why does it take a guy on YouTube to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Fannie Mae to the presidential candidate who consistently opposed reform? Could it perhaps be due to the fact that the candidate in question is Senator Obama? Why is it the cast of Saturday Night Live rather than CBS or ABC news that points out that it was Bush and McCain, not Pelosi or Frank, who called for reform of the credit industry years ago?

    As I said, there’s a reason you don’t see many attack ads from the left. Why would you get your hands dirty when the press does your hits and then covers for you?

  • John

    You are actually comparing the Massachusetts of Samuel Adams to that of Kennedy and Kerry? Dear Ebon, I think this political season has gotten in your head.

    “spearheading all kinds of social movements that later took root and flourished in the country as a whole”

    Sure, lets give ole Sam and his fellow patriots a modern-day tour of Cape Cod. They can watch public sex acts by groups of homosexual men. Maybe this “social movement” will flourish in the country “as a whole.”

    http://www.masscops.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57624

    Adam, most everybody here has made up their mind, probably a long time ago.
    Some very interesting things about BHO are buried, and will stay that way. You know, it’s racism. Only a place like “Youtube” will have some clips of Obama’s murky past.
    I half hope BHO wins, I think the swing back in 4 years will be worth the risk we take with BHO. It will be Jimmy Carter(probably worse) all over again. Europe really wants BHO in a bad way – somebody they can talk to(read that – push around). BHO is likely to close many U.S. military bases. After that, watch out for the bullies of the world. Oh, I forgot, America is the big bully – it’s all America’s fault just as BHO’s buddy Ayers said after 9/11, oh yeah Obama was only 8 years old when Ayers bombed Govt buildings. Don’t bring up rev. Wright, BHO’s minister of 20 years. Wright sounds like an Iranian mullah.

  • MisterDomino

    After reading some of the comments on this thread, I think that I should point out something that warrants attention.

    Many of us have made blanket assertions that “the Founding Fathers wanted this” or “the Founders wanted that,” as if to suggest that all of the Founders were on the same page when it came to ideas about government.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Dissent between Federalists and anti-Federalists under the Articles of Confederation and later on the Constitutional Convention was strong, and later the Federalist / Democratic-Republican split officially designated the two-party system that we know and love/hate today. Just as Republicans launch accusations of “elitism” and “liberalism” at Democrats, much the same argument was used by Federalists against Democratic-Republicans, especially when it came to a foreign policy dispute favoring Jacobin France over Great Britain. Likewise, Democrats calling Republicans “fascist” is reminiscent of accusations of “monarchist” by Democratic-Republicans and anti-Federalists against the Federalists.

    The Founders were as diverse in their political views as any other group of people, and they made no secret of their distain for the other half when it came to politics (Adams and Jefferson come to mind, even though they reconciled later in life). The only unifying characteristic of political ideology that they shared was independence from Great Britain, and even that idea was formed only after King George III denied the American colonies direct representation in Parliament under the statute of “universal representation”.

    In short, to assert that “the Founders,” as if they constituted a collective group when it came to ideas about government, wanted a smaller government (which would have made Alexander Hamilton sick) or a larger government (which would have made Patrick Henry sick) is an egregious error. Likewise, to assert that one political group refrains from ad hominem attacks while the other uses them as the platform of their campaign is, I think, another egregious error. Finally, to assert that one group has complete control of the media is just ludicrous. There are liberal outlets and conservative outlets, just as there have always been since the presidential election of 1800 (and even before that, but on the split of Whig/Tory). And honestly, at this point news is no longer a source of information; it’s simply another form of entertainment

    This partisan tango has been with us as long as the republic has existed. Surprisingly enough, nothing could be more American than the political shuffle that we live every day. Do I agree with accusations of “Massachusetts liberal?” No, of course not, but no more than I disagree with accusations of “neocon” or “Rethuglican.” There are people out there that believe in this stuff wholeheartedly, and these kinds of slanders appeal to them specifically. Those that can through the mist of pundit rhetoric can see that no one person will ever speak for an entire political party, nor anyone that votes for them. At the end of the day, we’re all Americans, but our ideas about America are as diverse as the Founding Fathers’ ideas about government.

    Yet after two hundred and nineteen years, the republic is still around. Ironically, the only thing the Founders agreed on is that no one will be able to agree, and they made sure that the system of government that they created would reflect this inherent conflict.

    Okay, I’ve spoken my piece. See ya.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    I already gave you one example in the Boston Globe’s (the major newspaper of New England) publishing of utterly unsubstantiated claims…

    Actually, you just asserted that there were unsubstantiated claims, you didn’t give any examples. In fact, the Boston Globe correctly pointed out (see factcheck.org) that the town of Wasilla did charge rape victims for exam kits while Palin was the mayor. Palin was not quoted on the record supporting this practice at the time; neither was she quoted opposing it. The Globe doesn’t say differently, so I don’t see what your objection is. What are those “explicit lies” you bandy about?

    Why does it take a guy on YouTube to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Fannie Mae to the presidential candidate who consistently opposed reform?

    You forgot to mention that several of McCain’s own campaign staffers were Fannie or Freddie lobbyists.

    Why is it the cast of Saturday Night Live rather than CBS or ABC news that points out that it was Bush and McCain, not Pelosi or Frank, who called for reform of the credit industry years ago?

    And again, you omit important facts: Anyone can “call for reform” (it’s easier than actually doing something), but the fact is that one of McCain’s chief economic advisers, Phil Gramm, essentially created the unregulated credit-default swap market in 2000 (see this hilarious chat between Matt Taibbi and Bryan York).

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Don’t bring up rev. Wright, BHO’s minister of 20 years. Wright sounds like an Iranian mullah.

    And how then, John, would you characterize John Hagee, a McCain supporter who said that Hitler was doing God’s will?

  • John

    That’s your comeback?

    A “McCain supporter” does not equal BHO’s “father figure” and minister of twenty years who also performed BHO’s wedding. BHO was clever dumping this so-called minister after BHO was found out. And of course Michelle, who is now “proud to be an American” for the first time in her life. Obama wins, and we conservatives will come back in 2 to 4 years. Obama loses and America wins now. Either way, I’ll take it. I am not nearly as radical about politics. I don’t have a political bumper sticker, besides a McCain/Palin bumper sticker attracts vandalism.

  • Oz

    Ebon, you are confusing me with a McCain supporter. I will stipulate both of your counterpoints to me about McCain and your other one to John. Given all that, you’re only throwing up a big wall of tu quoque. What you haven’t done is deny my claims about Obama or, more importantly, answer the original point, regarding the media’s disparate treatment of the candidates.

    As to the Palin story (again, I’m not a supporter), the BG editorial was headlined “Wasilla made rape victims pay.” I don’t know how much control the mayor of Wasilla has over his or her police department policies, but all of the sources cited by either side point to the chief as being the architect of the policy. Given what we know now about Palin’s knowledge and public performance, is it really so unbelievable that she would be so clueless about goings-on in her town? Conveniently, the Globe left out the other half of the police chief’s position: that the perpetrators should ultimately be charged for the exams. In addition, according to the factcheck article, the chief’s policy was to charge the victim’s insurance company when possible.” While there is no mention of what happened if it wasn’t possible, neither is there any record of any victim ever being charged out of pocket. What the Globe did was to take a story built on shaky evidence and run with it. We don’t see the media respond to rumors about Democrats; we do see them jump on the smallest whisper of scandal when a Republican is involved.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    As to the Palin story (again, I’m not a supporter), the BG editorial was headlined “Wasilla made rape victims pay.”

    And you evidently agree that that is accurate. So what is your complaint?

    While there is no mention of what happened if it wasn’t possible, neither is there any record of any victim ever being charged out of pocket.

    Also incorrect. From the USA Today article, cited by factcheck.org:

    In cases when insurance companies are billed, the victims pay a deductible.

    …It is not known how many rape victims in Wasilla were required to pay for some or all of the medical exams, but a legislative staffer who worked on the bill for Croft said it happened. “It was more than a couple of cases, and it was standard practice in Wasilla,” Peggy Wilcox said, who now works for the Alaska Public Employees Association. “If you were raped in Wasilla, this was going to happen to you.”

    Forcing the rapist to bear the eventual cost of the test is a laudable idea, but it assumes that rapists are convicted 100% of the time, which is obviously not true. If no one is convicted, why should the rape victim have to bear any part of the cost? Are burglary victims charged for fingerprint dusting kits?

    We don’t see the media respond to rumors about Democrats…

    You’re kidding, right? Or do you just not count Fox News and the legions of conservative commentators and talk-show hosts to be part of “the media”?

  • Oz

    No, I don’t take FNC seriously; they’re a tabloid at best. Neither do I count commentators who don’t claim to be journalists, since they don’t claim to be objective.

    I’ll concede that victims may have been charged, although there is no actual physical record extant of it happening. (I’d appreciate your not implying that I support such a policy, by the way.)

  • Neil

    Oz: I did refer to the “liberal media” myth as a form of the right-wing persecution complex. I never claimed to know your personal political views, but I could have been clearer…
    It seems to me that if you really believe in a big “liberal media” cover-up, you have been affected by the last thirty years of Republican propaganda and whining. Our democrats aren’t all that liberal compared to the rest of the western world, or even compared to our own recent history if you haven’t noticed. Whatever bias certain older media outlets may have, it is pretty much centrist…like “moderate” Republicans were thirty years ago. How many big media outlets opposed the war, or even investigated the claims made by the Bush administration? How many were critical of the patriot act? How many really gave much support to Gore or Kerry, or Hillary for that matter? How many hard questions did Bush field in his first four years? Bill Clinton got as much media and political heat for a blowjob and a single lie than Bush has endured for killing half a million people, based on several lies. Oh, the bias!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    No, I don’t take FNC seriously; they’re a tabloid at best.

    I can’t say I disagree with that assessment, but the fact is that explicitly right-wing media outlets like Fox, Rush Limbaugh, et al. still attract millions of viewers and listeners. They cannot be excluded as part of “the media” by any reasonable standard. I think it stretches credulity to claim that the media as a whole displays a left-wing bias when one of the largest and most popular networks, which is far more explicitly partisan than any of its competitors, actually favors the right.

    But even the more mainstream news networks have displayed a persistent rightward bias over the past eight years. Glenn Greenwald’s Great American Hypocrites, which I discussed earlier, quotes numerous examples of this. I’d supply one of my own: here’s a post I wrote back in March detailing a weekend event in which John McCain invited dozens of reporters to his vacation home for a barbecue, putting them up in a five-star hotel, on the condition that they asked no questions about his voting record or his campaign strategy. Most of them accepted what was essentially a blatant bribe without qualm, and wrote adoring articles about how well McCain treated them and how tasty his barbecued ribs were. (See also the Columbia Journalism Review article on this.) This does not sound like the actions of a stubbornly anti-Republican media to me.

    I’ll concede that victims may have been charged, although there is no actual physical record extant of it happening. (I’d appreciate your not implying that I support such a policy, by the way.)

    Granted. If I implied such a thing, I apologize. But I think we’ve established the point that this particular article was not inaccurate, much less “explicit lies”, as you first characterized it.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    I’d also like to revisit this comment by John about the “so-called” minister Rev. Wright:

    Wright sounds like an Iranian mullah.

    Here’s what I find interesting about this, and this is something I really want to see your reply to, John. Here’s an excerpt from Wright’s infamous sermon:

    “And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating her citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains, the government put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton field, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, not God Bless America. God damn America — that’s in the Bible — for killing innocent people. God damn America, for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America, as long as she tries to act like she is God, and she is supreme. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent..”

    Here’s what I want to know, John: Do you actually disagree with any of this? If so, which part and why?

    Though he expressed them in a deliberately inflammatory way, Wright’s characterizations of the way America has historically treated Native Americans and blacks are factually accurate. We did break treaties and force Native Americans into reservations. We did create internment camps for Japanese citizens during World War II. We did perpetuate black slavery for decades, and even after that was overthrown, we did institute racist segregation policies and horrific things like the Tuskegee experiment. Those are historical facts that can’t be denied, even if you believe – as I do – that America is well on its way to overcoming the legacy of racism.

    I know you’re a Christian, John. Are you saying that God does not object to conduct like that, and that Wright was wrong to suggest that he does? Or are you saying that, contrary to Wright, God will not punish America for acting as if we were God? Again, if you disagree with this sermon, which part specifically do you disagree with?

    Also, while we’re on the topic, do you condemn the religious-right choir that appeared at a Republican presidential candidates’ debate to sing an altered version of “God Bless America” that actually condemns America and denounces us as unworthy to receive God’s blessing? Do those people, also, sound like “Iranian mullahs” to you? Or is this a standard you only apply to religious leaders who don’t support your favored political party?

  • http://www.wayofthemind.org/ Pedro Timóteo

    It’s insane to claim that Democrats and Republicans are the same when attacking their opponents.

    Democrats, if anything, are too soft. They may say their opponents are wrong, but they never say they’re corrupt, or have any evil intentions at all. If anything, they should grow a pair and, for instance, state the obvious truth that the Iraq war wasn’t “mismanaged”, it was criminal, it was based on lies and waged to enrich oil and weapons companies, and to make it so that criticizing the administration “in time of war” was seen as “unpatriotic” and “anti-American”.

    Still, can “you’re wrong”, or even “erratic”, be compared with these:

    - unpatriotic
    - “pallin’ around with terrorists”
    - terrorist
    - anti-American
    - baby-killing
    - socialist
    - communist
    - marxist
    - not of “real America”
    - Muslim / “Arab” (to them, an insult)
    - liberal (which, to those people, is not better than “rapist” or “pedophile”)

    and others? Is any comparison possible?

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    2-D Man,

    Virtually unprecedented degree =/= pinnacle. Read what I had to say about uncharitable interpretations.

    True enough. There will always be new elections with which to obtain a “virtually unprecedented degree” of Republican civil unruliness. Can I get a hell yeah on that?

    Not nearly as often. The antiscience crew of the Republican party controls a fairly large block of voters, but they have absolutely nothing of substance to contribute.

    Wait, now I’m confused. Are we talking about the Republican party, or its “antiscience crew” now?

    It’s a bit silly to incriminate people based on things they haven’t done, Robert.

    Right, Obama never made any personal attacks against anyone. His associates just do it for him.

    Or not.

    Red herring. The point is that the Republicans are trying to paint everybody from Massachusetts as yellow-bellied liberals, yet in doing so, they do the same to these early British rebels.

    Because the Republicans have much to gain from smearing John Adams. Goodness, is nothing sacred?

    “Totality of the evidence” does not necessarily mean you include the Kennedy assasination. Look, if you will, at the totality of this presidential run.

    Because, to do otherwise would make rhetoric look more like…rhetoric.

    To continue your stupid football analogy, the hail mary always comes at the end of the fourth quarter when the team falls behind. That’s good strategy, makes for an exciting game, but doesn’t show that your team plays a better game.

    Thank you for substantiating my point! Hail maries are desperation moves, just as the McCain/Palin attacks are. They certainly don’t represent the “centerpiece of their political strategy,” as Ebonmuse claimed.

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    Get real, Neil.

    I cannot believe that anybody who has watched this campaign, or the last forty years of republican politics for that matter, could actually honestly try to suggest any equivalence between Republican smear tactics and Democratic tactics.

    BOTH are guilty of the same types of tactics. Perhaps Republicans engage in them more often, but Ebonmuse claimed that “liberal politics…is not founded on demonization and personal attacks against fellow states and citizens…”

    Um, right.

    You gonna defend that one, Neil?

    Ebon brought up quite a few instances of standard Republican tactics…I see that you totally ignored him and tried repeatedly to change the argument. Is that the best you can do when you’re wrong?

    What? I need to answer every single one of his examples with an example of my own? Do you deny that Democrats have engaged in the same kinds of smear campaigns against not only Republicans, but themselves?

    Oh, wait, you do deny it!

    Yet even though his policies clearly enable fascism and theocracy, I have yet to hear any Democratic politician call him a fascist or theocrat, or a mass murderer, or a torture enabler, a war profiteer, or even evil or ignorant, all of which are accurate. Not one!

    Then you simply haven’t been listening hard enough. Or perhaps hardly at all.

    “But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old, enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.” -Rep. Pete Stark

    “Bush is…a loser…a liar.” -Sen. Harry Reid

    “I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about [Bush's] mental health,” -Rep. Dennis Kucinich

    The Bush Administration is perpetuating “ethnic cleansing by hurricane” in New Orleans. -Rep. Barney Frank

    And these are just Democratic politicians.

    So, what were you ranting about again? Please, get a clue.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    While Robert busies himself avoiding my argument, here’s Ronald Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan bemoaning the depths of personal destruction to which the GOP has sunk:

    This has been Mr. Bush’s style the past few years, and see where it got us. You must address America in its entirety, not as a sliver or a series of slivers but as a full and whole entity, a great nation trying to hold together. When you don’t, when you play only to your little piece, you contribute to its fracturing.

    In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It’s no good, not for conservatism and not for the country.

  • Neil

    Thanks for the info, Robert. I pretty much agree with those statements, and while hyperbolic, they are at least partly based on actual facts and actions of Bush, not just pulled out of thin air for a racist base, but OK, you made your point. I overspoke when I said it hasn’t happened at all, but it’s hardly the meat and potatoes of democratic strategy or talking points.
    I was focusing on what I’ve been hearing during campaigns, not just random quotes, but fair enough. Some democrats use hyperbole in their opinions. The quotes you gave are all about one incredibly, deservedly unpopular figure, and are personal opinions of some of his biggest opponents, not standard Democtratic campaign slogans or talking points, but there is some pretty heated rhetoric going on there.
    Yes, I still agree with Ebon that current Democratic politics is not based on demonization, certainly not at anything near the level that Republican strategy is. I’m not saying it can’t be, but that in this election and the last several, it just hasn’t been. While a handful may get rowdy once in a while, it is a serial occurrence with Republicans, both national candidates and local supporters, and is a bedrock of their strategy and a rallying point for many of their voters. Harsh, even hyperbolic criticism of Bush is not the same as the rampant bigotry, lies and fear-mongering that republicans have been engaging in. Bush and other republicans really do have close financial contacts with sponsors of terrorism, yet I don’t hear any Democratic candidates calling Republicans anti-american terrorists. Obama, on the other hand, is openly implied to be a terrorist by the Republican VP candidate herself in front of the press! Not Equal! Bush was questioned a little about his horrible service record, but where was the Democratic swift boating like Kerry recieved? Not equal!
    Some local Republican parties have intentionally spread the “secret muslim” lie, as well as circulating racist cartoons and flyers with Obama, fried chicken and watermelon on a food stamp…when was the last time you saw a Democratic flyer or ad that was so openly hateful, especially for no factual reason? The closest thing I’ve seen from a liberal was a bumper sticker that said “F*** the Bush Ladens”. That hardly compares to “The only thing Liberals are good for is target practice.” Not equal!

    I was never claiming that there is some inherent, magical purity in the Democratic party…a look at southern history shows that much…just that currently and for the last few elections at least, they have chosen to take the high road much, much more of the time than republicans.
    Current Republican politicians really are warmongers and profiteers…do you think Obama or Biden will say so? Even after being called terrorists and sympathizers by their opponents? Not equal.

  • 2-D Man

    Robert,

    Right, Obama never made any personal attacks against anyone. His associates just do it for him.

    No, no. That’s not what you were talking about. These were your words:

    I have no doubt, however, that if Obama was behind, he’d be pulling out all the stops.

    Further,

    Thank you for substantiating my point! Hail maries are desperation moves, just as the McCain/Palin attacks are. They certainly don’t represent the “centerpiece of their political strategy,” as Ebonmuse claimed.

    That’s a very strange view of ‘substantiating your point’. When the team falls behind they change tactics. Their strategy completely revolves around the last-ditch effort that does not indicate that they are the better team.

    Because,[sic] to do otherwise would make rhetoric look more like…rhetoric.

    No. To do otherwise doesn’t look at the steps we’ve taken away from shooting people because they run for office and we don’t like them.

    Wait, now I’m confused. Are we talking about the Republican party, or its “antiscience crew” now?

    Until the Republicans divorce themselves from such slimeballs, there is no difference.

    Because the Republicans have much to gain from smearing John Adams.

    Apparently they think they do; they have.

  • Alex Weaver

    Robert:

    1. Do you REALLY think those comments are comparable?
    2. this might be instructive.

    Especially the quoted session containing this part:

    There is no equivalency here. None at all.

    Maybe next week I’ll take on the (cough) challenging task of explaining why there is no equivalence between saying that Clinton was a murderer and saying that George W. Bush is a war criminal. Hint: it’s the same reason there would be no equivalence between saying that Bush held up a convenience store and saying that Clinton was unfaithful to his wife.

    I do hope you have a little more self-respect than to whine about how this isn’t about Bush or Clinton instead of grasping the analogy.

  • RiddleOfSteel

    Perhaps that’s because liberal politics, unlike modern conservative politics, is not founded on demonization and personal attacks against fellow states and citizens – but never mind that.

    Check out a popular web site called Huffington Post. A visit should cure the thought that liberals are much different than conservatives when it comes to group think, irrationality and sleaze in terms of the presidential election. Did you guys know that daughter Bristol is the real parent of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s child? Neither did I! And apparently the Bush admin was involved in bringing down the Twin Towers as part of some neocon conspiracy. How did we miss that one? Some people just go batty emotional when it comes to politics, and in particular the presidency. The opposing candidate becomes not just someone with differing views and policies, but is instead transformed into the devil incarnate. It can get oddly religious with some of these folks. My wife has had to reroute walking our kids to school, to avoid a certain neighbor who is consumed with Obama 24/7. It’s reached the point of being obnoxious – and I say that as someone who plans to vote for Obama.

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    Ebonmuse wrote,

    While Robert busies himself avoiding my argument…

    Your argument’s been debunked. There’s no need to address it further. I did get a good chuckle, however, over the irony of your claim that Republicans are actually attacking the founding fathers, the ideological forebears of today’s libertarians, who are a special target of your own derisive attacks. You’ve made yourself look almost as ignorant as Naomi Klein, and that’s saying something.

    here’s Ronald Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan bemoaning the depths of personal destruction to which the GOP has sunk:

    But as we saw, Democrats are no stranger to the politics of personal destruction either. The best you can argue is that Republicans engage in it more often.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Did you guys know that daughter Bristol is the real parent of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s child? Neither did I!

    It’s rather difficult to evaluate these things when you don’t provide any citations.

    And apparently the Bush admin was involved in bringing down the Twin Towers as part of some neocon conspiracy. How did we miss that one?

    While I think 9/11 conspiracy theorists are insane, I don’t think this qualifies as the kind of personal-attack-based politics I’ve been talking about. If the Bush administration had been involved in planning those terrorist attacks, that would absolutely be a valid reason to condemn them. My point was different: not that lunatics can be found on every end of the political spectrum, but that the Republican party and the conservative movement more generally have made character-based attacks the centerpiece of their political strategy: caricaturing their opponents as weak, effeminate, traitorous terrorist-sympathizers, while depicting themselves as strong, resolute warriors and salt-of-the-earth regular guys. It’s not at all difficult to find copious examples of this.

    By contrast, the Democrats have their loons, as does every political party. But one thing the Democrats have not done is put those loons in charge of the show. We do not have Democratic politicians talking openly about how their opponents are cowards and traitors, as we’ve been hearing nonstop from the Republicans these past eight years. We do not see Democratic candidates openly mocking their opponents’ honorable military service, as we saw on the floor of the actual Republican party convention in 2004. We do not see Democrats campaigning by stirring up fear of the evil outsiders – the gays, the terrorists, the atheists, the illegal immigrants, or whoever is the boogeyman of the week – who pose a threat to everything that good, white Christians hold dear. By contrast, with the Republicans, we see these tactics and many more like them, not just from fringe kooks but from established, popular media outlets and politicians.

  • corsair the pirate

    OK, I’ll play a little. The “liberal” founding fathers from Mass and other places equal the liberals of today? Really? And where does slavery and denying the vote to women and those who didn’t own land put those happy liberals of yesteryear with those of today? And how about the ownership of guns? And the use of the stocks for punishing criminals? And the treatment by the folks back then of our Native American neighbors?

    I love me some Founding Fathers and will always be grateful for everything they did for us, but likening them to the liberals of today is quite a bit of a stretch.

    And now back to vitriol…

  • Brad

    See Conservapedia, which, as always, is not a parody.

    Heh heh, have you read their article of the year, Atheism? If I ever wanted to know all that is bad about those nasty atheists, I’d be sure to check there first.

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    Ebonmuse wrote,

    In case you’ve forgotten, I also have personal experience of this stemming from the North Carolina Senate race, where Elizabeth Dole’s campaign and the NRSC have taken to open bigotry against atheists and gays in their ads. In none of these cases have the Democrats replied in kind.

    Hope you like crow.

    D. Paul Monteiro, Obama’s National Deputy Director for Religious Affairs, said “[Obama] is not some crazy wacko atheist trying to make sure that your children grow up to marry trees.”

  • StaceyJW

    A little off track, but I visited “Conservapedia” (link in the first paragraph), and read the section on Atheists- talk about a parody- they don’t even try to mask their disdain for non-believers.
    I am not surprised that they can take a positive and turn it into a slur!!

  • Alex Weaver
    In case you’ve forgotten, I also have personal experience of this stemming from the North Carolina Senate race, where Elizabeth Dole’s campaign and the NRSC have taken to open bigotry against atheists and gays in their ads. In none of these cases have the Democrats replied in kind.

    Hope you like crow.

    D. Paul Monteiro, Obama’s National Deputy Director for Religious Affairs, said “[Obama] is not some crazy wacko atheist trying to make sure that your children grow up to marry trees.”

    …are you really that dense?

    1, that’s obnoxious, but your focus on it while excusing your side’s much wider, deeper, and uglier bigotry is the textbook example of “straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel,” and,
    2, this solitary instance of moderately fratricidal behavior on the part of a Democrat supports your contention that the Democrats have been just as vicious to the Republicans as vice versa how exactly?

  • Alex Weaver

    …assuming, of course, that what you’ve presented is the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, or at least something remotely resembling the truth. Being an honest person myself, I occasionally forget that not everyone else is.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    You ought to be more careful before you start handing out plates of crow, Robert. Here’s the latest update from your own source:

    Mr. Monteiro called me to make a statement:

    “We talk about people of good will and good intent, and we strive to highlight the values that we share across lines – values like accountability, responsibility, honesty and transparency. We’ve done over 200 Values Forums across the country, and at these forums we were talking to atheists and secular humanists as well as people of faith. Those conversations revealed that we can all agree, across faith lines, on these and other basic American values. These values are accessible to all people of good will. That’s what these forums are all about.”

    I asked: “Does your office include atheists?”

    “Being a grass roots movement, there are tons of volunteers across the country and many are people of faith or atheists or secular humanists. I think Senator Obama said it best when he said that ‘religious people do not have a monopoly on morality’. Senator Obama is trying to navigate this contentious landscape to bring people of all faiths, including no faith, together to help address the common challenges all Americans are facing right now.”

    Monteiro denies that he made the comment attributed to him, but regardless of whether he did or not, his official statement on the matter welcomed atheists to join in the campaign and acknowledged that nonbelievers can be ethical, patriotic people. This is a wonderfully clear contrast to the NC Senate race, where the Dole campaign and the NRSC not only unequivocally based their ads on an appeal to anti-atheist bigotry, but when they were criticized for it, chose to double down and run even more ads of that nature.

    I’m under no delusions that Obama, or any other politician really, would be a friend to atheists. At best, we can expect neutrality, but then again that’s all we’ve ever asked for. There are plenty of Democratic politicians I view as the lesser of two evils, but when it comes to turning out the bigot vote, there’s only one party that makes appealing to prejudice and hate part of its official campaign strategy.

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    You ought to be more careful before you start handing out plates of crow, Robert.

    And you ought to present the entire picture, for you’re very well aware of the commentary before Mr. Monteiro’s damage control, er, sorry, “clarification”:

    The Obama Camp has acknowledged that the comments were made, but insists they were made by the church people, not by the Obama Camp. There is still dispute over this, but everyone agrees that the Obama camp did not rebuke the comments, and really should have.

    Frankly, it’s emblematic of your myopia that you would lend an ounce of credence to Mr. Monteiro’s official statement. Let’s recall the DNC “welcome” in practice.

    Tiernan says he couldn’t stand it any more. “I stood up and said, ‘I’m a democrat but I’m not a person of faith.’ I said, ‘This looks like a church service to me and I never thought I would see the Democrats doing something like this.” At that point, the police came and escorted Tiernan from the hall. They told him he could leave or stay and see what the Democrats wanted to do with him, so he stayed but nobody did anything so he left. (emphasis mine)

    Some “neutrality”.

    Finally, as shameful as Dole’s ads are, even you must have found Hagan’s response difficult to swallow, which was essentially, “I’m a Christian, I’m a Christian! I swear to God!” With friends like Hagan…

  • http://makingmyway.org Robert

    To those still even remotely interested in this topic, About.com’s Austine Cline, one of the most prolific atheist writers on the intertubes, has weighed in on the Obama campaign’s apparent atheist bigotry, and, well, let’s just say he doesn’t mince words.

    Speaking for myself, I no longer think I’ll be voting for Barack Obama. I have to conclude that comments like this, coming as they do from such important members of the campaign, likely represent official policy for Barack Obama. At the very least they are a clear indication of the sort of people he has already and will in the future put in charge of faith-based programs and any religion-related office: pure, unadulterated, and unapologetic bigots. After so many years of politically and religiously conservative bigots in the administration, I feel no rush to replace them with politically and religiously liberal bigots.


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