Category Archives: liberals

A Few Words On The Whole Foods-John Mackey Thing

God, liberals, what can I say. Sometimes we annoy the hell out of me.

This is the second time the interwebs is in high dudgeon over something said/written by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Mackey, who is hawking a book (Conscious Capitalism, and no, I haven’t read it) used the word “fascism” to describe the Affordable Care Act. This got liberals all upset, especially since they well remember his 2009 Wall Street Journal op-ed proposing eight “free market” reforms that he thought would fix our healthcare problems better than Obamacare.

Let me interject here and say, Mackey is an unabashed Libertarian. I do not agree with Libertarianism. At all. I think his “eight reforms” — stuff like tort reform, selling health insurance across state lines, and removing government coverage mandates — are horrible ideas, many already proven failures. He also wrote that if only everyone would just eat a vegetarian, low fat diet, all of our healthcare woes would magically go away. This was an astonishingly simplistic, insensitive and childish thing to say about a really complicated national issue. But hey, one of my biggest problems with Libertarians is their juvenile belief in magical thinking.

Anyway, that was around three years ago. This time, people seem to be hung up on Mackey’s use of the word “fascist.” The thing is, I said the same thing myself back in 2009. Put aside all of the totalitarian/nationalistic baggage the word carries, and consider its economic definition. Aren’t we always told that fascism is the merger of state and corporate power? So how is a government requirement that private citizens buy a product from a private, for-profit corporation without also offering a “public option” not fascism?

Mackey now admits his choice of words was poor. I watched him on CBS This Morning say we needed a new term, one that doesn’t allude to authoritarian regimes.

This made me laugh. Mr. Mackey, I believe the word you’re searching for is “corporatism.” Funny that wouldn’t occur to the CEO of a big corporation. Ah well. Libertarians, what can I say? They always wear blinders. I have to wonder: if Obamacare mandated that everyone buy organic food, would Mackey have a problem with that?

Mackey is entitled to his opinions, as are we all. I don’t agree with him on everything. But it seems a shame that he stuck his foot in his mouth on the Obamacare “fascism” stuff, because really liberals should be behind a big chunk of what he’s saying now.

Again, I haven’t read his book, but I’ve read several interviews he’s given about it. And basically what he seems to be telling his fellow corporate CEOs is, stop being such selfish, greedy dicks.

For example:

“I really don’t think shareholders should come first, I think it’s fundamentally a bad strategy,” Mackey said yesterday at a Captains of Industry series interview with Norman Pearlstine, chief content officer of Bloomberg News. “Happy team members result in happy customers, happy customers result in happy investors. If you put shareholders first, you won’t get there.”

The event at the 92nd Street Y in New York was sponsored by Bloomberg Businessweek.

Mackey, 59, a self-styled “conscious” capitalist and longtime nonconformist, has written a new book in which he criticizes companies that focus solely on maximizing profit. The book, “Conscious Capitalism,” was released this week.

In the book, Mackey and his co-author, Raj Sisodia, a Bentley University marketing professor, discuss ways to create value and lift people from poverty. Mackey’s bottom line: making money need not be a zero-sum game.

I agree with that 100%. And I’m not a Libertarian. I also agree with this:

Mackey tells Inskeep that companies must have a higher purpose than just making money.

For example, when Whole Foods decided it wanted to stop selling overfished species of cod and octopus at its seafood counters, it didn’t just abruptly cut off its suppliers. Instead, the company gave its suppliers three years to come up with a better way of fishing; during that time, the seafood stayed for sale — but with a label of “unsustainable.”

In the end, Whole Foods, working with the Marine Stewardship Council (we’ll have much more on them later), was able to find one supplier of sustainable cod.

I agree with that approach. I also find it a little strange that Mackey doesn’t recognize the flaw in his magical Libertarian ideology: why aren’t all corporations like Whole Foods? Why isn’t everyone focusing on the big picture, why aren’t they all doing the right thing, instead of just focusing on profit? Does Mackey not get that a health insurance company doesn’t make money off of certain groups of people? Like, really, really sick people? That Libertarianism requires a whole set of presuppositions that don’t exist in the real world?

I guess not. But c’mon, liberals. Let’s join in the conversation here, instead of calling for boycotts over the misuse of a word like “fascism” — especially when a lot of us were saying the same thing two years ago.

So no, I’m not boycotting Whole Foods. Nor am I nominating John Mackey for sainthood. Remember this? Remember when Mackey created an online sockpuppet to bash rival Wild Oats in online stock forums? At a time when he was trying to buy that company? Hilarious. Also, not nice. John Mackey, you’re kind of a dick, too. Something else I can say about most Libertarians.

By the way, this reminds me of the one bumper sticker I want to see. It goes something like this:

Who Is John Galt? And Why Is He Such An Asshole?

Ha ha. Love that one. So, boycott Whole Foods if you want to, but I won’t. But I will ask my fellow liberals to stop reacting in such a knee-jerk way to the use of loaded words like “fascism” and whatnot. Please. This makes us no better than the Teanuts who call for the fainting couches every time a liberal says a mean joke about Sarah Palin.


Filed under boycotts, corporations, health insurance, healthcare, liberals, Libertarians

They Don’t Get It, Do They?

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that right-wing assholes like Andrew Breitbart and James O’Keefe don’t understand the Occupy Wall Street movement. So let me explain it to them.

Perhaps you’ve heard that Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert was targeted at his home by someone pretending to be a Verizon employee. Details at the link but this should bring everyone up to speed:

“So he gets to the last questions, and he’s really reading intently off of his clipboard, and he says something about making the kind of salary I do, working from home, something something about the 99 percenters,” Boehlert said.

The man claiming to be a Verizon representative finally asked his question. “After he mentioned my salary and that I work from home, all the bells went off, and this is not who this guy says he is. Therefore, I kind of lost track of the exact wording of the question, but it definitely was like very accusatory of me and I’m a hypocrite and how do I have this supposedly cushy job while I’m writing about real workers and the people of the 99 percent,” said Boehlert.

We still don’t know who misrepresented themselves to Boehlert — Andrew Breitbart denies involvement — but this has all the classic hallmarks of one of O’Keefe’s “Project Veritas” minions, where “veritas” is not Latin for truth but rather wingnut for misquotes and misrepresentation.

As HuffPost reported, Breitbart accolytes like Mike Flynn have been harassing Boehlert on Twitter with such taunts as….

#ows, @EricBoehlert is cashing 6-figure checks to support you. When u r run out of Zuccotti park, beers and brats at his place in NJ

… “ows” being the hashtag for Occupy Wall Street, of course. And here is what Mike Flynn, Andrew Breitbart, James O’Keefe and the rest don’t seem to get: no one really thinks it’s problem how much money Eric Boehlert earns. No one cares how much money anyone earns, as long as they are paying their share of taxes, helping the guy below them on the success ladder, and not actively working to pull the ladder up behind them so we have a permanent underclass whose only recourse is to work as slaves to the rich.

Amazing that conservative activists don’t seem to understand this. Naw, scratch that. It’s utterly predictable. It also shows how out of touch they are, how phony conservative populism is, but there you go.

Right-wingers love to play the hypocrisy card, as if anyone earning over $50,000 a year has no right to criticize the multimillionaires for their greedy ways or have sympathy for those on welfare. But what the left objects to is greed, oppression, and inequality, not a well-earned salary.

I doubt too many good Lefties are going to begrudge people like Eric Boehlert their six-figure salaries (if that is indeed what Boehlert earns, I have no idea nor is it any of my business). Why? Because he is working on behalf of the 99% to make the system more equitable! He isn’t pulling the ladder up behind him, he’s trying to extend it to those below him on the economic scale. There is no hypocrisy here. What there is, actually, is someone working against their own economic self-interest for the betterment of others.

This is not a difficult concept to grasp, and it’s why conservative claims that no liberal should be allowed to earn any money are so hilarious.

I don’t begrudge Bill Maher or Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert their millions. In fact, I want more rich liberals out there. That’s more donations to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU and the Sierra Club.

Rich liberals who extend a hand to those below them economically are not hypocrites. They’re altruists. Something we used to value in this country, by the way, until a godless conservative named Ayn Rand convinced some idiots that altruism was a bad thing. Now they’ve drunk so much Kool-Aid they don’t even recognize it when they see it.


Filed under Andrew Breitbart, conservative bloggers, conservatives, James O'Keefe, liberals

>Republican Math, 2.0

>Here’s some Tennessee hippie-punching:

GOP Looks To Drop ‘Labor’ From Committee Name

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Republicans in the Tennessee Senate want to drop “labor” from the name of the committee that handles commerce and employment issues.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville said Thursday that it’s in the interest of brevity that he has proposed excising the term from the Senate Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee.

Removing the five-letter word instead of the eight or 11 letter word for the sake of brevity? Hilarious.

Okay, to be fair, Tennessee Republicans also want to ditch “Conservation” and “Tourism” from the panel on Environment, Conservation and Tourism and add “Energy” and “Committee.” So they’d be changing a 37 character committee name to a 32 character committee name. Or something.

Yes this is truly a pressing issue for the people of Tennessee right now. The length of our committee names. Praise Jesus Tennessee Republicans are in office to right these grievous wrongs that have gone unchecked for so many administrations.

Or something.

Hey guys, we get it. You really, really hate us. You want to wipe us off the map. You want to erase our very existence. Guess what. We aren’t going anywhere. Suck on that, asshole.


Filed under liberals, Tennessee politics, TNGOP, unions

>Failure To Seize The Moment


Apparently Gov. Walker threatened to call out the National Guard if public employees strike. OMG he wouldn’t dare. He’s poking a stick at a sleeping bear.


I swear to God I am about to lose my shit.

Near as I can tell the only people covering the thousands of working people marching on the capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, are some liberal bloggers and Ed Schultz, who has been talking about this for three days. Well, that and liberal outfits like The Nation, which filed this report:

More than 10,000 Wisconsinites marched on the state Capitol Tuesday, as crowds rallied in cities around the state, students walked out of high schools and public employees lined roadways holding aloft banners declaring their determination to battle an attempt by Republican Governor Scott Walker to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights and pack state government positions with political patronage appointees.

Another huge crowd — numbering perhaps 8,000 — surrounded the Capitol for a Tuesday night rally. Protests spread to the Milwaukee area, where hundreds of workers massed outside Walker’s suburban home.

The crowds in Madison will swell Wednesday. The city’s schools are closing, as teachers take sick days to join the protests and buses packed with public employees roll into the city.

The protests, unprecedented in recent Wisconsin history, are being organized by union—the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, the Wisconsin Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin and others—in anticipation of a Thursday vote on whether to give the governor powers that the senior member of the state legislature describes as nothing short of dictatorial.

Hellooooo! News media! Y’all might want to cover this! Think of it like Cairo, but ya know, in English and not so Muslim-y. Now will you cover it?

I mean, yes, there’s a little New York Times piece, but no, I am not seeing the wall-to-wall TV coverage we get every time 500 Teanuts in knee britches and tricorn hats decide to wave a misspelled sign. This is worse than irresponsible. This is a failure of epic proportions. This is why the news media is not trusted by the left. This is why no one reads your shitty newspapers or watches your lame cable news programs where you ruminate over the need for reasonableness.

News is happening. Here. In America! Go cover it! It really shouldn’t be that fucking hard.

I mean, shit. Just one year ago the news media descended on Nashville to cover the first Tea Party convention at a level of one reporter for every three participants. We’ve got 10,000 working people descending on a state capitol and where’s Anderson Cooper? Brian Williams? Katie Couric?

You know who’s there? Fox News. I just heard a clip on the Ed Show where some Fox bimbette opines that the protests are surely going to turn violent soon. Yes of course they are, because we liberals always turn violent when a big group of us rally to defend our rights, or try to stop a bogus war, or try to save the planet from nuclear annihilation. Even though your side is the one waltzing around with guns strapped to your legs carrying signs about “watering the tree of liberty” and whatnot. Fuck off, I don’t have time for you idiots.

No, I want to know where the serious coverage of this unprecedented event is? Why aren’t you there on the scene?

And where are the Democrats? Hello?! This is your base, thousands of them, rallying for the right to collectively bargain, a founding principle of the liberal movement, why aren’t you people there? Why isn’t Nancy Pelosi there? Howard Dean? Hell, Dennis Kucinich? Anyone? Why aren’t liberal leaders flocking to the site of a major liberal protest? This is called an opportunity, you idiots.

(A question: Are they not there because the TV cameras aren’t there? Or are the TV cameras not there because the political leaders aren’t there?)

This is why we suck on just so, so many levels.

Via Down With Tyranny, a picture of today’s rally:


Filed under liberals, media, protests, rants, unions

>Culture, Politics & Faith

>Whenever I blog about religion and mention that not all Christians are intolerant right wing Republicans who bash gays and oppress women, inevitably a few folks come forward to sniff, “well I sure wish these liberal Christians would speak up, then.” The implication being: liberal Christians aren’t working very hard thus their message is not seen or heard.

That always pisses me off enormously because I happen to know some very amazing Christians who are powerful social justice activists. These folks are working very hard and making tremendous sacrifices for the cause of justice. People like my friend Rev. Stacy Rector, former Associate Pastor at Second Presbyterian Church here in Nashville, and now executive director of Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. I think of another Nashvillian, Don Beisswenger, retired Vanderbilt Divinity School professor who went to Federal prison for six months for his non-violent protest of the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia. I think of Nashvillian Father Charles Strobel, who founded Room In The Inn. It’s thanks to him that hundreds of Nashville’s homeless have food, shelter and access to other services every winter (and you don’t get more Nashville than Father Strobel: his brother Jerry was manager of the Grand Ole Opry for 30 years).

I’m sorry that you don’t know these people. They are a tremendous gift to Nashville and our city is lucky to have them.

On the national level, I’m sorry you don’t know of Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and Call To Renewal. He recently took on Glenn Beck when Beck attacked churches which practice social justice. Have you not heard of Shane Claiborne in Philadelphia? Surely I don’t have to remind folks that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher man and President Jimmy Carter referred to himself as “born again”?

Have you never read the writings of the late William Sloane Coffin? His collection The Heart Is A Little To The Left: Essays On Public Morality is the quintessential primer on liberal Christianity for those wanting an answer to the religious right’s claims of Scriptural authority. Reading that book changed my life.

It does annoy me that I know these folks and others do not. But then I remember that my secular friends can’t be expected to read the same things I do and visit the same websites I do. If you aren’t interested in religion, then Pastor John Shuck’s website probably has not crossed your radar. Shuck, a tireless warrior for GLBT equality, pastors a Presbyterian church in Elizabethton, Tennessee–not the stereotypical Southern religious leader. But there you have it. There’s more than one face to Christianity, even here in the mid-South.

My secular friends by necessity operate in the world our corporate media has created, and for much of the past 30 years that has meant Christian = Right Wing Republican. For the most part the media ignores liberal voices of faith in favor of the James Dobson/Pat Robertson/Ralph Reed model, in part because we do not fit the established narrative and in part because right wing Christians have built media empires like the “Christian Broadcasting Network” through which they disseminate their message. The Network of Spiritual Progressives is not on every CNN producer’s Rolodex.

During the Bush years it seemed that every news show included an interview with Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention or Focus on the Family’s James Dobson or CBN’s David Brody or any of the other mouthpieces of the religious right. And it occurred to me that this is because the religious right operates in the realm of politics, which is about power. The religious left for the most part does not do this. The religious left seems to operate in the realm of social change. This is an important distinction.

People on the religious left are quietly doing their thing, trying to end poverty and injustice and serve the homeless and end wars while the religious right is making a lot of noise for the cameras at events like “Justice Sunday.” And I really had to stop and think about why that is, and if it’s a good thing or if it even matters.

Thinking about this led me to revisit this post I wrote back in January, “Your Modern Conservative Inferiority Complex.” In that piece I quoted a column by Julian Sanchez in which he writes:

The secret shame of the conservative base is that they’ve internalized the enemy’s secular cosmopolitan value set and status hierarchy—hence this obsession with the idea that somewhere, someone who went to Harvard might be snickering at them.

That resonated with me then, and it still rings true today. Looking at the incoherent message of the Tea Party and the conservative flip-flopping on things like the budget deficit, which didn’t matter during Bush’s spending spree but suddenly matters very much as President Obama tries to rebuild the economy, it’s clear that the right is short on ideas and long on anger, and this anger comes from the right’s cultural irrelevance. The right might score political wins but it is forever complaining that it is oppressed, that “liberal Hollywood” or the “liberal media” treats it unfairly, that everyone is out to get them. Why is that? It’s because for all its political muscle, the right is culturally insignificant. The culture wars are over, and the right lost. That is increasingly obvious to everyone, including, in fact, the religious right.

And this seems to connect to the religious left vs right issue. The religious right battled its cultural insignificance by providing its own alternative to the established culture: Christian music, movies, books and the like, sold at Christian bookstore chains. They have responded to the culture at large by removing themselves from it, at the same time it tried to exert more political muscle. This strikes me as odd and might explain why the right’s political wins are hollow ones, why their political leaders like America’s Vuvuzela Sarah Palin leave most of us scratching our heads. The religious right, like the political right, is worried about power. The political left is about power too, but the religious left is not. Victories for the religious left are not necessarily political ones, and therein lies the difference.

The religious right is vocal, but it’s become increasingly impotent, because it chose to remove itself from those areas of the culture where lasting change is made, and instead devoted itself to empty grandstanding. We need only look at the Justice Sunday events, which were all about not letting Democrats filibuster Bush’s judicial nominees. Today we have conservatives claiming it’s perfectly okay to filibsuter Obama’s judicial nominees, and if you Google “Justice Sunday” the second entry after Wikipedia’s is the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s spring human rights program. Despite all of the media hoopla, the religious right’s “Justice Sunday” events are no more than a Wikipedia entry–a footnote to history.

So the next time someone tells me they “wish the religious left would step up,” I’m going to hit the pause button for a moment to think about what it means. I’m not sure I want a religious left worried about power. I’d rather they leave the empty grandstanding to a culturally impotent minority, and instead keep fighting the good fight to end poverty, war, social injustice, environmental destruction and the like. Because political victories are temporal. Political winds blow right and left, but social change is lasting. And so far the left seems to have that battle won.


Filed under Christianity, liberals, religious right

>Resistance Is Futile

>Once again, I repeat: if you aren’t reading Harper’s, you’re wasting your time.

April’s cover story, The Vanishing Liberal: How The Left Learned To Be Helpless (subscription only, getcha one), is a case in point. It traces liberal movements going back to the 1870s, points to globalization in the 1990s for its current woes, and arrives at this assessment of President Obama and the Dems:

Whereas the Populists’ soapbox lecturers or the Progressives’ magazine exposés or FDR in his radio “fireside chats” explained the way of the world to the people and argued for why and how that way must change, Obama—like most Democratic leaders—concedes that the way of the world is wrong but tells us why it must stay that way because, some time in the past, powerful interests decreed it so.

Thus we are told that single-payer or a public option may be a good idea but that private insurance companies are simply too well–ensconced for reform. Afghanistan may be hopeless, but we have already committed to it. The power of the people is never activated, nothing much is asked or required of us, even as thugs overrun congressional town-hall meetings.

Instead, the party that claims to represent all progressive interests in this country proceeds with its impervious, self-interested agenda. The administration’s stated priorities for the near future are to balance the budget before a deep recession has abated and to commit the nation to a long-running war in a dysfunctional Asian country that we neither understand nor care about—thereby promising to repeat, simultaneously, the two worst mistakes made by liberal presidents in the past seventy-five years. As for the long term, the White House will form a commission bent on cutting “entitlements,” such as Social Security and Medicare, that are the bedrock of retired Americans’ prosperity.

This situation has most sentient folks on the left deeply disturbed — hell, I was just chatting with my 78-year-old mother-in-law on the phone 20 minutes ago and she said in her sweet Southern way, “the only thing I’m mad at Obama about is that I just don’t understand why he didn’t open Medicare up to everybody and be done with it.” Indeed.

And the money quote:

Obama, the congressional Democrats, and most of our politicians at every level now maneuver within political confines defined by financial and military interests they cannot conceive of challenging.

The Tea Party is in no better shape:

No one is going to abolish the Federal Reserve, or the income tax, or Social Security and Medicare; if they did, small businesses and working people would be trampled beneath the corporate entities bent on their exploitation.

Liberalism is dead, the “great, forced opening of the past 130 years” it spawned has ended. And a true reformist movement? Good luck with that.

Hate to piss in peoples’ Wheaties but even if healthcare reform passes, we’re still doomed.

Adding …. All is not completely lost, of course. But the point of the article is to show how liberalism has been reborn repeatedly throughout history by appealing to new constituencies — farmers, workers, immigrants, blacks, women, gays. A place was made at the table for those who had been excluded from the halls of power; now, the “ruling elite” is one of

unparalleled diversity, and includes unprecedented numbers of women, minorities, and individivuals who have worked their way up to power on brains and determination alone, usually without having inherited connections or wealth. It is a meritocracy much like the one long envisioned by many liberal reformers–and it has decided to capitulate, reap its considerable rewards, and draw the ladder up after it.

In this environment it will take a massive effort to bring that ladder down again. Will it happen? I just don’t know.


Filed under Democratic Party, liberals

>Nut Allergies

>Here’s where I apologize to my readers for politicizing something that shouldn’t have been politicized. John Patrick Beddell suffered from bipolar disorder, a brutal disease that knows no politics. I was wrong to label him a right-wing nut.

I jumped on that Christian Science Monitor story because frankly I was pissed off. Pissed off that we had yet another senseless shooting, pissed that yet another unhinged person managed to get their hands on a gun, pissed that yet another symbol of the United States government was targeted. After weeks of wall to wall media coverage of the conservative hate fests known as the Tea Party Convention and CPAC, both of which peddled in paranoia about birth certificates, immigrants, America-hating liberal “socialists,” death panels, terrorists, etc., I reacted. So I’m sorry.

And here’s where I piss you all off again.

If this incident proves anything it’s that everyone has nut allergies. No one wants to claim their nuts, and it’s been interesting to see where people draw the line here. Beddell espoused virulent anti-government views on his podcasts and politically claimed Libertarian affiliations. So we lefties have labeled him a right-winger.

Meanwhile, the right-wingers claim that because he was a 9/11 Truther, he must have been a lefty. As an aside, it’s news to me that 9/11 Truthers are lefties–we’ve always associated the 9/11 Truthers with the far right fringe–the anti-Semitic, Stormfront, Klan crowd who claim Jews were tipped off not to go to work at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. And for crying out loud, the Tea Party candidate for Texas governor was a Truther. So I learned that no one wants to claim the Truthers, either.

So listen, folks. I’ll be the first to admit when I’m wrong but that street goes both ways. John Patrick Beddell suffered from mental illness, end of story. So did all of them, that’s obvious. I mean, anyone who does something irrational like shooting up a Unitarian Universalist Church production of “Annie” because they hate liberals is nuts. But it seems to me that we have more nuts getting off their sofas and actually taking action these days. And I have to wonder why that is.

We live in a time where there’s inflammatory hate speech dominating the airwaves and the vast majority of it is coming from the right. Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck and the rest pollute the airwaves on a daily basis with outlandish lies blaming Democrats, liberals, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi etc. with every imaginable sin against God and country. I don’t see anyone standing up to that, in fact, your politicians have embraced it.

So I want to see a scintilla of responsibility from your side of the aisle. Your grassroots movement is hawking stuff like this, and your protestors are showing up with signs like this one (and they aren’t even true since several of you made a point of bringing your warm gun to an anti-government protest). Your leadership conference features a Pelosi pinata and Harry Reid punching bag. You’re breeding paranoia, filling peoples’ heads with bizarre conspiracy theories about FEMA re-education camps and the U.S. Census and claiming liberals are attacking Christianity and all sorts of irresponsible crap that isn’t remotely true. No one on the right has said that any of this goes too far, in fact, y’all are pumping your fists in the air going “fuck yeah!”

So don’t act shocked when your movement gets blamed when someone of any political stripe goes off the deep end. Y’all need to dial back your rhetoric a couple notches.


Filed under liberals, politics, right-wing hate

>How Many More Civil Wars Must We Endure?

>I find it absolutely hilarious to learn that I’ve been “pretending” to be a liberal all these years.

It also appears the Great Orange Satan has revoked my Liberal credentials and the checks from George Soros will no longer arrive in the mail.

Oh, drat.

You know, it’s really funny that someone named “Big Tent Democrat” has now decided that Jim Cooper and a handful of local bloggers aren’t liberal enough for the Democratic Party. The irony of it all.

It’s also funny that suddenly, in certain progressive circles, none of us want to see Cooper primaried and we all think he’s “just peachy.”

Actually, if anyone bothered to read the local blogs they so happily diss, they’d know that Aunt B, GoldnI and yours truly have all said we agree that primaries exist for a reason. Specifically, I said on Friday:

But fine, let’s primary Cooper, that’s how our system works. I have no problem with that at all. Let’s find our dream candidate, send him or her out there, and see if their message resonates with the constituents. Especially constituents in Belle Meade, Cheatham County, Wilson County. Places like that. Good luck.

So, to TalkLeft’s Big Tent Democrat who said

What are these “local experts” afraid of?

let me say: absolutely nothing. And if you’d read my blog you’d know that.

I also don’t know anyone who thinks Cooper is “just peachy.” Frankly I know few people anywhere who think their House representative is “just peachy.” We’ve all been critical of Cooper on our blogs. Again, you might know that if you’d bother to get to know the community before unleashing the attack dogs.

And therein lies the problem.

I really think a lot of the internet drama part of this saga has less to do with Jim Cooper and bloggers’ liberal-progressive bonafides and more to do with tone, tactics and cultural differences. I think what really set Kos and the rest off is being labeled “interlopers.” Well, sorry, but that’s how it feels. An out of state PAC has targeted our district for regime change and as soon as we voice some valid concerns we’re embroiled in a flame war? Maybe if I’d known you were coming I’d have had the chocolates and roses handy.

Seriously, let me tell you a little something about Tennessee: we don’t like being treated like a bunch of hicks from the sticks who don’t know what’s good for us. A friend who is a Nashville native observed of this whole Cooper mess:

Haven’t these people learned by now that you don’t FORCE Southerners to do anything?? How many more civil wars must we endure?! 🙂

Here’s another thing about Tennessee: I’ve lived here for 23 years and I still hear, “Y’all aren’t from around here are you?”

That’s just how it is and maybe if anyone had bothered to do a little more groundwork than just a few telephone surveys you could have avoided some of this negativity and resentment. You know, taken a more “grassroots” vs “scorched earth” approach.

Look, you aren’t engendering any goodwill by dividing the community. I sure as hell don’t like it when the hall monitor for the progressive movement suddenly decides I need a note from home before I can express an opinion about who represents me in Washington. So Kos needs to stuff it because if your grand plan fails you get to go back to Berkeley and your ex-Black Panther House Rep and two Democratic Senators. I will be stuck here with my two Republican Senators, a Republican state legislature, and (worst case) a Republican congress critter. We’ve seen how the state has gone the past few years and it hasn’t been leftward.

Comments Off on >How Many More Civil Wars Must We Endure?

Filed under bloggers, liberals, Rep. Jim Cooper

>Let Me Tell You About An Exciting New Money-Making Opportunity

>Somehow I got on the e-mail list for VisionAmerica, Rick Scarborough’s conservative Christian organization known for its “Take Back America” and “War On Christians” conferences. The subject line? “A.C.O.R.N. Stopped!”

Funny that some supposed Christians would be interested in a purely political story like ACORN. But whatever.

Like so many of these things, if you click on the link you are presented an opportunity to blast-fax the entire U.S. Senate, stating your opposition to your tax money going to ACORN. Oddly, it also says you “oppose the Jennings nomination”–WTF? I’m guessing this is a typo, that they’ve just recycled a previous blast fax e-mail opposing “safe schools czar” Kevin Jennings. Clearly they were in a hurry and why not?

They charge $29 to blast the Senate! And for $54 you can blast the Senate AND make a donation.

Again: WTF?

I get dozens of these things a week. No legitimate advocacy group demands a donation to blast-fax the U.S. Congress.

But the folks at VisionAmerica don’t see it that way. They see a politically-driven story like ACORN as a terrific money-making opportunity, and clearly they wanted to strike while ACORN was still all the rage on Fox and right-wing radio. Don’t wait, act now! You won’t want to miss this amazing chance to fleece a bunch of gullible Fox News watchers suckered in by the latest Glenn Beck/Sean Hannity wingnuttery!

They aren’t the only ones. TPM alerts us to this “Birthermercial”, an infomercial running around the country questioning President Obama’s legitimacy and hawking $30 bumper stickers plus this awesome opportunity:

For a $30 contribution, viewers also get a fax sent in their name to the 50 state attorneys general and Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that President Obama produce his real birth certificate.

Hilarious! I can’t imagine they’ll get too many offers (though those behind the group say they generated “something like 1500 to 2000 faxes” their first week. Let me be the first to call bullshit on that one.)

If there’s one thing I hate most about our political discourse these days it’s how both right and left use the daily uproar to raise funds. On Friday Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) got kudos from the left for her “your mama” retort to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ); less than 24 hours later I get a fundraising e-mail from the DSCC with Stabenow’s name attached and the subject line “Yesterday.”

While the left might not be quite as obvious about it as the wingnut right–I haven’t yet received an e-mail from a liberal organization charging me money to blast-fax Congress–they still make money off of the outrage du jour.

In America today, the populace is sharply divided (or at least, our media tells us we are). Manufactured stories, from demonizing ACORN to the latest wacko nonsense to emanate from Michelle Bachmann’s mouth, are quickly dissemninated across the mass media via Twitter and blogs, then further dissected on cable news and talk radio. When the public is thoroughly riled up, the fundraising e-mails go out. It’s a reprehensible exploitation of people’s very real fears and concerns.

In short, like everything else in this country, our political discourse has been reduced to just another money-making opportunity.

God help America. We’ve been infected with the money bug and it’s destroying us.

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Filed under liberals, politics, religious right

>Dear Accountability Now

>[UPDATE] 2:

More from No Chaser and Aunt B. Yeah, I’d say the “Carpetbagger” thing might be apt.



So apparently the goal is to replace Cooper with a “Libertarian-minded Republican.” [Note: I am hoping I have misunderstood this quote from CNN and they are referring to replacing conservative Republicans with “Libertarian”-minded ones–but I still fail to see how this “gets the corporatists out.”] Somehow this will “get the corporatists out of there”?? Exactly how, I wonder? Libertarians are the very definition of corporatists.

Again: thank you very fucking much for trying to save me from my moderate Democratic Congressman. If I end up with a Republican representing me in the House it’s going to get very ugly.


As a liberal, a blogger, and a resident of Tennessee’s 5th District, fuck you. This is below the belt.

I’ve already said that while I don’t agree with Cooper 100% of the time, I find it highly unlikely he will be replaced by a more progressive Congressman. We just aren’t that liberal in Nashville. I live here, unlike some people, so I feel like I know the district a little better than some people. People who don’t even live in the state, for example, armed with little more than a few surveys.

But fine, let’s primary Cooper, that’s how our system works. I have no problem with that at all. Let’s find our dream candidate, send him or her out there, and see if their message resonates with the constituents. Especially constituents in Belle Meade, Cheatham County, Wilson County. Places like that. Good luck.

And here’s something else I don’t have a problem with: vigorous debate, pushing Cooper in the right direction, making our voices heard on issues like healthcare. I’ve called Cooper’s office dozens of times to question his votes, and his staff have always had an explanation for every one of them. I’d say 99.9% of the time when he voted a way I didn’t want, it’s a fiscal matter (for example, on last year’s GI Bill, Cooper said it was “a classic example of something we’d love to do if it were paid for.”)

Cooper is a fiscal hawk. This is not news to those of us who live here. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the things people here like about him. To say he isn’t representing his constituents because of his fiscal position is wrong.

But here’s what I do have a problem with. Mud slinging from within. Ugly attacks from within. Internecine attacks this vicious are not productive. Challenge, yes. Line up the firing squad? No.

Mostly I don’t appreciate taking quotes out of context. Or only presenting part of a quote to misrepresent what my Congressman said (for example, the quote on the public option told only one-third of the story. Cooper supports the Healthy Americans Act which doesn’t have a public option, but in the next breath he said one could be added “that would be acceptable to most Tennesseans.”)

Save that shit for the other side of the aisle, please [/snark].

Seriously. If you’re going to sail in here on a liberal cloud to save me from my moderate Democratic Congressman, at least do me the courtesy of not treating me like some rube from the sticks. I think I’m pretty familiar with the guy. So don’t portray him as some right-wing bogeyman when he’s been my Congressman for the past seven years. You do that, and you’re treating me like I haven’t been paying attention.

That’s not just disrespectful to him, it’s disrespectful to me, as a resident of the district. Frankly, it’s pissed me off.

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Filed under liberals, Nashville, Rep. Jim Cooper