Tag Archives: progressives

Right Wingers Continue to Play “I Spy” to Terrorize Citizen Action

Little Rock   These days it’s pretty clear that if you are going to run an activist nonprofit that might make waves someday and therefore unsettle conservative sailors on their good ship “Lollypop,” you simply have to increase the paranoia training for staff and leaders alike.  The sting and scam model that the scurrilous and unprincipled James O’Keefe and his confederates have practiced (perfected would NOT be the correct word) in trying to attack one progressive institution after another (ACORN, NPR, teachers’ unions, New Hampshire’s election observers, and Planned Parenthood) has still not run its cycle.  The good news perhaps is that the press might finally be getting embarrassed at swallowing the bait and bull, and might be wary of being caught in the scam just like the unsuspecting front liners at nonprofits.

There was another report this week of a conservative trying to walk into a community organizing office in Manhattan and Brooklyn and seeing if he could get advice on how to organize a union and “shake down politicians for more money.”  Such bizarre and fantastic propositions are ludicrous on their face, which makes this kind of ham-handed effort easy to detect, but it does give a pretty good indication of the desperate hunt for publicity and relevance that the conservative second and third stringers feel.  And, despite the fact that all of this has become a parody of politics on the order of a drunken college prank concocted in a late night dormitory room, it means that anyone involved in citizen action or community service is now fair game for these fools, until the cameras are finally turned off and the reporters put down their pins.

The easy part of preparing staff for these ideological idiots is developing the simple BS barometer on these simple scams.  The harder part remains when organizations are involved in constant interaction with the public, particularly in direct service, similar to some of ACORN and Planned Parenthood programs.  Staff are trained to offer assistance and engage in problem solving.  As too many videos have shown, staff can go a long way down the road in trying to be helpful, which even in the most ridiculous circumstances can be easily misconstrued, and stray over the line of good judgment.

The chilling impact of targeting nonprofits with these “I Spy” rightwing tactics is that too many organizations are faced with the dilemma of either providing services from counseling to voter registration or abandoning such critical work in the face of tremendous need, simply because the “optics” might break badly if under attack.

Only standing strong in the face of this bullying will make it stop.  And, realizing finally, an injury to one is an injury to all.  Maybe it’s time for putting all shoulders together so that we can put an end to these high jinks from the right?

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The Cynicism of “Class War” in Presidential Campaign

New Orleans   Nate Silver takes a hard look at the prospects of the Obama campaign this November in the Times magazine section and concludes its good strategy to ramp up the populism.  By his numbers if Obama pushes the pop-buttons hard, the Midwest might fall in line, and then the race is won.

First, none of this has anything to do with so-called “class war.”  All of this is liberal tongue-in-cheek and a wan effort at satirizing the right-wing whacks of the Republicans who are constantly making such charges, including out of the mouths of many of the Republican presidential candidates themselves.  Unfortunately, satire works best when both sides get the joke, and these days, my view is that the Repubs are dead serious in thinking this is the real deal, Class War 3.0 or something.

Secondly, I’m having trouble finding much comfort in this sudden, late stage embrace of populism by Obama.  I worry that in the same way he quickly abandoned “hope” for “compromise” and “concession,” he will even more quickly abandon populist promises, if for no other reason than the fact that there are so few forces out there that will be willing or able to hold his feet to the fire.

Add that to the fact that the control of Congress is still up for grabs, and the Republicans could still comeback and take both houses, and other than a couple of executive orders and the occasional veto or perhaps a Supreme Court appointment, it really gives progressives very little to hold onto as they try to summon up the steam for a hard fight for another four years.

Personally, I’ll be listening not for the promises out of the President’s mouth, but some movement of the lips that seems to sound out that there were actually lessons learned and a real commitment to do different and make a difference.

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