Red State Menace

We’ve known for some time that the new politics involves a good deal of Newspeak.  That would be the Orwellian term for creating words or recreating existing words that mean exactly the opposite of what they do or should mean.  We’ve had “peacekeeping” missiles, “clean” coal, and a bunch of other nonsense terms that find their way into the political lexicon via endless repetition by partisan media hacks with ideological agendas.  No monsters seem as selectively reconstructed in modern history as the term “socialism” which actually has a distinct definition in economics and political science and “communism” which is another unique and utopian (i.e. imaginary) system altogether.

Just when you think we are way past the idea of the red menace, right wingers reinvent the threat.  If you read much stuff coming from the Tea Party movement, you would think that the USSR is still in existence, no market reforms occurred in the PRC, and every libRUL is a secret commie.  Well, reality and data-based thinkers know there is no such thing as a Soviet-style system in place in Russia or China any more.  But then, when has this ever been a problem for the folks who prefer magical thinking to reality?

Let’s review the evidence starting with Michelle Bachmann.  Remember this one from last year?

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Thursday that Americans are alarmed that President Barack Obama may cut defense spending at a time when the Soviet Union is becoming a power in the world.

“When you are traveling — I know you are in South Carolina now, you’re obviously in Iowa, you’re up in New Hampshire — are you hearing different things in these states?” Christian radio host Jay Sekulow asked the candidate.

“I would say it’s a unified message,” Bachmann explained. “It really is about jobs and the economy. That doesn’t mean people haven’t [sic] forgotten about protecting life and marriage and the sanctity of the family. People are very concerned about that as well.”

“But what people recognize is that there’s a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward. And especially with this very bad debt ceiling bill, what we have done is given a favor to President Obama and the first thing he’ll whack is five hundred billion out of the military defense at a time when we’re fighting three wars. People recognize that.”

BTW, India is the world’s largest democracy with a rule of law and economic system based on English common law.  How did they get lumped in with Russia and China?  It’s very interesting to see that so many elected officials seem oblivious to history and reality.  There is–of course–no such thing as the Soviet Union.  But, lo and behold, just last week we learned that Romney has advisers on foreign policy that also have forgotten there is NO SUCH THING AS THE SOVIET UNION.

Attacking the Obama administration for “withdrawing in leading the free world,” former Navy Secretary John Lehman argued on the call that the president’s policies open the nation up to “huge new vulnerabilities.”

An example?

“We are seeing the Soviets pushing into the Arctic with no response from us. In fact the only response from us is to announce the early retirement of the last remaining ice breaker,” Lehman said.

Also, in a discussion on the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Pierre Prosper mistakenly referred to a country that no longer exists.

“You know, Russia is another example where we give and Russia gets, and we get nothing in return,” he said. “The United States abandoned its missile defense sites in Poland and Czechoslovakia, yet Russia does nothing but obstruct us, or efforts in Iran and Syria.”

Czechoslovakia split into two countries–the Czech Republic and Slovakia–in 1993.

Neither country served as a site for the proposed U.S. missile defense system. The U.S. wanted to put part of the system in the Czech Republic, but the country’s prime minister canceled a vote in 2009 that would allow the move to take place.

Later that year, the Obama administration decided to scrap the plan in Eastern Europe, which was first proposed by the Bush administration.

The advisers’ remarks came after Romney’s campaign has had to beat back consistent attacks targeting the candidate as out of touch on matters of foreign policy. The criticism largely stemmed from Romney labeling Russia as the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe” last month.

Of course, the biggest example of Republican baseless fears has been Representative Allen (I see communist democrats) West from Florida.  Evidently, he believes liberals, progressives, socialists, and communists are everywhere and basically interchangeable.  One would think we learned nothing from our past lives of red baiting.  We had two major periods of them.  One occurred in the 1920s.  The other was the infamous McCarthy version of the 1950s that led to loss of people’s livelihoods, rampant paranoia, and trampling of civil rights.  Is this the America that the Tea Party and other right wingers envision?

Bill Moyers resurrects “The Ghost of Joe McCarthy” for those of us that didn’t get a front row seat to the atrocities.  He also begins with a reference to 1984–although not the Newspeak one–where we see “amnesia that sets in when we flush events down the memory hole, leaving us at the mercy of only what we know today”.  Is this sudden rebirth of the red menace from amnesia or dishonest thinking and belligerence?  Scaring people with fully baked lies seems to be the hobgoblin of Republican minds.

Sometimes, though, the past comes back to haunt, like a ghost. It happened recently when we saw Congressman Allen West of Florida on the news.

A Republican and Tea Party favorite, he was asked at a local gathering how many of his fellow members of Congress are “card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists.”

He replied, “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

By now, little of what Allen West says ever surprises. He has called President Obama “a low level Socialist agitator,” said anyone with an Obama bumper sticker on their car is “a threat to the gene pool” and told liberals like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to “get the hell out of the United States of America.” Apparently, he gets his talking points from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, or the discredited right wing rocker Ted Nugent.

But this time, we shook our heads in disbelief: “78 to 81 Democrats… members of the Communist Party?” That’s the moment the memory hole opened up and a ghost slithered into the room. The specter stood there, watching the screen, a snickering smile on its stubbled face. Sure enough, it was the ghost of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin farm boy who grew up to become one of the most contemptible thugs in American politics.

There are a number of ways to disagree with a person’s politics.  Goodness knows you can comb through the posts here and find a good long list of all the problems I have with Obama and the Democratic Party.  I don’t need to resort to things like “show me your Birth Certificate” or names like “Kenyan Muslim Usurper” to get a point across.  Why are we going back to these tactics of our ugly past?

Like McCarthy, the more Allen West is challenged about his comments, the more he doubles down on them. Now he’s blaming the “corrupt liberal media” for stirring the pot against him – a trick for which McCarthy taught the master class. And the congressman’s latest fusillades continue to distort the beliefs and policies of those he smears – no surprise there, either.

To help him continue his fight for “the heart and soul” of America he’s asking his supporters for a contribution of ten dollars or more.  There could even be a super PAC in this – with McCarthy’s ghost as its honorary chairman.

Plenty of kindred spirits are there to sign on. Like the author of the book The Grand Jihad, who wrote that whether Obama is Christian or not, “The faith to which Obama actually clings is neocommunism.”  Or the blogger who claims Obama is running the country into the ground “by way of the same type of race-baiting and class warfare Communism cannot exist without,” and that his policies are “unbecoming to an American president.”

From there it’s only a short hop to the kind of column that popped up on the right wing website Newsmax hinting of a possible coup “as a last resort to resolve the ‘Obama problem.’” Military intervention, the author wrote, “is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for ‘fundamental change’ toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America.” The column was quickly withdrawn but not before the website Talking Points Memo exposed it.

The closer we draw to national elections, the more the “silly season” starts.  We look to the media and to interviews and debates to separate the good from the bad and the ugly.  We need a lot more than that these days.  We need folks that are willing to separate the fact from the fiction, the dystopian fiction, and the science fiction.  How can any one take any one seriously that still believes there’s a Soviet Union and a communist under every bed?  How can a presidential candidate who has no experience in the foreign policy area be taking lessons from people that can’t even get their history right?

At the time, the media had Edward R. Murrow who famously said:

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent.  We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a Republic to abdicate his responsibilities.”

There was also Boston Lawyer Joseph Welch who defended the US Army when McCarthy was trying to witch hunt there.

“You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency? … If there is a God in heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good.”

I wonder where our modern counterparts to these two brave men are these days?


20 Comments on “Red State Menace”

  1. ecocatwoman says:

    I think a large number of people are thinking and/or talking about both Orwell’s 1984 & Joe McCarthy these days. Apparently for some, McCarthy is a welcome part of the “good old days.” And, I’ve certainly found myself wishing for the resurrection of Edward R. Murrow & even Walter Cronkite.

    And speaking of socialism, I found this on the web: (I apologize for the link to the Dark Side). The title caught my eye & I couldn’t contain my curiosity. However, after reading the article, I couldn’t discover from what black hole they pulled the title. Obviously I’m either too dumb to understand or I’m just not delusional enough to grasp it.

    Forget Mad Cow disease. This country is suffering from Republican Madness disease. What I do know is that I’m feeling more & more like Kevin McCarthy in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

  2. RalphB says:

    Dak, you hit another one out of the park. My gob is now thoroughly smacked and I’m in more of a WTF moment every day. All any of us can do, without a media megaphone, is fight back in whatever way is available. I’m ready for battle.

  3. ecocatwoman says:

    Moyer & Co this week is more about what you’ve posted: For me, Bill Moyers is the voice of reason & the conscience of our nation. Yes, I’m an unabashed Moyers groupie.

  4. RalphB says:

    Who says this asshat isn’t out of touch? What a complete dumbass!

    TP: Romney’s Advice To Students: Borrow Money From Your Parents

    This kind of devisiveness, this attack of success, is very different than what we’ve seen in our country’s history. We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.

    • dakinikat says:

      Even when my parents did have money they would have never lent it to me. My father was a big believer in doing everything on your own. He only signed on to pay for an undergrad degree. Later, I asked him to pay for a semester on my MS in economics as a combined birthday/Xmas gift and he did. Since I was an RA, I got a discount. But, He never EVER would’ve given me the kind of funds and things the Romney’s got, even if he’d been a gazillionaire. He sees parental handouts as the most destructive thing you can do to a person’s character.

      • RalphB says:

        Willard would seem to be living proof that your parents had a good point.

      • Seriously says:

        You can go into any thrift store and find novels written for young adults in the 50’s and it’s always the same thing, you have to stand on your own two feet, borrowing money from your well-off professional parents will sap your moral fiber, you’ll always be under their thumb and you’ll never be happy. Willard seems to be the only person in the world who never absorbed this message, besides not understanding that most people’s parents work their whole lives for peanuts and have nothing to give anyway. Born on third base thinking he hit a triple.

    • janicen says:

      It just does not occur to the fool that maybe just maybe the parents don’t have the money to lend their kids. Maybe mom just lost her job and they are upside down in their house and dad’s 401k is depleted. Mom and Dad are worried about how and when they are going to retire, Mitt. They can’t afford to finance their kids’ businesses you damned idiot!

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Great post, Dak. I had never noticed that Republicans are still referring to the “Soviet Union.” Unbelievable!

    • dakinikat says:

      You should go read this at WAPO:

      Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.

      Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

      The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

      When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

      By Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein

  6. ANonOMouse says:

    Dak, Great Post!!! The be afraid of the RED Pinko/Commie schtick is so f@ing old, and even more so since they’re not a super power. I spent the first decade of my life practicing protection from the Commie attack, drills, Crouching under tiny schoolroom desks, with hands over head, listening to the air-raid sirens shrilling the warning that the drills had begun. Wearing dog tags with my name, parents name on it. Getting on buses and evacuating to shelters (as if those shelters would save us from a Nuclear bomb). The GOP/TP’ers and their minions can take those boogey-men tactics and stick-em!

    Sorry I didn’t get to this post yesterday, I spent 24hrs sitting for two 4 year olds, which, for anyone in my age group, is like being captured by the Taliban. I’m just now getting feeling back into my arms and legs. 🙂