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Everything old is new again. That sounds like a nice thing until you get to the Republican Party and its desire to resurrect McCarthyism. Sen. Joe McCarthy was not the one who started the witch hunts now bear his name, but he was the one that took it to such lengths that the whole edifice came crashing down and his name become associated with one of the most shameful times in American history.

The idea of looking into communist activities in the United States actually started with the Dies committee, which eventually morphed in the House Un-American Activities Committee, or HUAC. Originally, HUAC looked into the activities of American Nazi’s during the run up to World War II. After the war, this committee quickly switched to trying to find communists under every bush.

Sen. McCarthy had his own committee in the Senate and was instrumental in ratcheting up the level of fear and victimization by accusation. At one time, he claimed that he knew of 130 communists working in Defense plants. He was willing to call anyone a Communist and or Communist sympathizer if it was to his political advantage. Eventually it grew so obvious that Sen. McCarthy was engaging in not only bullying but slander for political purposes and finally he was censured by the Senate.

Unfortunately, this virus that he unleashed did not die with his political career. The John Birch Society took up the banner. They were willing to see Communists anywhere, even in the White House. When they accused Republican President Eisenhower of being a communist it was finally enough for the Republicans of the day and William F. Buckley (not exactly noted for being a liberal) finally managed to get the John Birch Society disowned by the Republican Party.

That was 1962, now hit the fast forward button for 45 years and what do we find? As I started with, everything old is new again. The Republican Party is back to the days of making accusations of disloyalty against anyone that disagrees with them. Most of the Left was gob-smacked at the Bush Administrations willingness to paint those who opposed its wars in Afghanistan and especially the war of choice in Iraq as "traitors", or appeasers.

It made exactly no difference that the DFH’s were right that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, that he had no links to Al Qaeda, that he was contained and no real threat to anyone but his next door neighbor Iran. If you were not balls the wall gung ho about Iraq, then you were with the "Islamofascists" and probably and enemy of the United States in the so-called "Global War On Terror".

As the majority of the American people became sickened by the actions of the Bush Administration and prepared to elect a Democratic president. This morphed in the Birther movement. The president of the United States couldn’t possibly be legitimate, it must be a plot by nefarious agents.

We also see the John Birch Society welcomed back into the Republicans arms. Have they moderated their tone? Hell no, they still believe that the Occupational Health and Safety Agency is unconstitutional and that fluoridation of drinking water is communist plot.

More worrying is the Republicans widespread use of the accusation of disloyalty to move their political agenda forward. We all know they have their collective panties in a bunch over the idea of using the Article III courts (the Federal Court system created by Article III of the Constitution) to try some of the Guantanamo Bay Prisoners. They have even taken to questioning the loyalty of some of the DOJ lawyers who have defended the prisoners. From Adam Sawyers very good article over at Tapped:

The "Gitmo Nine" aren't terrorists. They weren't captured fighting for the Taliban. They've made no attempts to kill Americans. They haven't declared war on the United States, nor have they joined any group that has. The "Gitmo Nine" are lawyers working in the Department of Justice who fought the Bush administration's treatment of suspected terrorists as unconstitutional. Now, conservatives are portraying them as agents of the enemy.


On Tuesday, all attempts at subtlety were abandoned. Keep America Safe, the conservative advocacy group which was founded by Liz Cheney to defend torture and oppose civilian trials for suspected terrorists and which has close ties to McCarthy, turned the "Gitmo Nine" into the "al-Qaeda Seven." The group put out a Web video demanding that Holder name the other Justice Department lawyers who had previously represented terrorist detainees or worked on similar issues for groups that opposed the Bush administration's near-limitless assumption of executive power. "Whose values do they share?" a voice asks ominously. "Americans have a right to know the identity of the al-Qaeda Seven." The ad echoed McCarthy's references to the "al-Qaeda bar" from months earlier.

"This is exactly what Joe McCarthy did," said Gude. "Not kind of like McCarthyism; this is exactly McCarthyism."

Be sure to read the whole thing here. The fact that our system of justice requires a zealous advocate for anyone accused of a crime seems to make no difference to Republicans., If you are at Guantanamo Bay, are a bad person who should be shunned by everyone Q.E.D. It does not matter if you were tortured or if you were turned over to the U.S. forces for a bounty, you are bad person and should have no rights.

That is not even the end of the story with accusation of disloyalty. Today Politico is reporting the Sen. Jim DeMint (Butt-Head –S.C.) is questioning the loyalty of the Senate Parliamentarian Alan Furmin.

"I think clearly the majority leader has his ear, and I’ve got concerns," said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). "I think if he does not look at that very careful — reconciliation is supposed to be very narrowly defined, large legislative things don’t seem to fit in those parameters — I would think that reconciliation would make or break the perception of his objectivity."

To back up their claims against Frumin, Republicans point to a decision he made last year when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced an amendment that would have created a single-payer health care system. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) tried to force clerks to read the entire 767-page amendment on the floor, but Frumin allowed Sanders to withdraw the amendment without the extended reading.


"I think most people don’t trust him," said a senior GOP official who regularly works with the parliamentarian.

Why is Mr. Frumin in deep water with the Republicans? Because is likely to rule that the changes to the HCR bill that the House will pass can be made by reconciliation.

Finally there are the efforts of the Texas School Board member Don McLeroy has been trying to get the infamous Sen. Joe rehabilitated by changing the way he is portrayed in history text books.

So we have come full circle, the Republicans in the early 1960’s understood what this kind of smear and accusation of disloyalty meant. They were not liberals by any stripe but they could see that if anyone could be accused of disloyalty and destroyed that no one was safe. It took the John Birch Society and Sen. McCarthy’s overreach to make that lesson abundantly clear to the nation, but it only took 45 years to erase it from the minds of today’s Republicans.

Here is hoping we don’t have to go all the way through black lists and Senate hearings before someone in the Republican Party stands up and asks "Finally have you no decency".

The floor is yours.

Originally posted to Something the Dog Said on Thu Mar 04, 2010 at 05:53 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? Flames? (37+ / 0-)

    Some pithy comment about forgetting, history and doomed repetition?

    Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

    by Something the Dog Said on Thu Mar 04, 2010 at 05:53:11 AM PST

  •  First they go for the lawyers at the DOJ, now (16+ / 0-)

    they are gunning for the parliamentarian?  Fear and smear, it's what's for breakfast, courtesy of the gop.

  •  Wasnt McLeroy defeated (8+ / 0-)

    in the election on Tuesday?Maybe this is a good sign.

  •  They've Studied Their Mentors Well (8+ / 0-)

    "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

    --Joseph Goebbels

    But they forgot about the second sentence.

  •  Senate Democrats (11+ / 0-)

    just need to watch how Congressman Becerra handled this issue at the Health Care summit when Republicans tried to insinuate that the CBO wasn't shooting straight.

  •  It's a sign of Republican desperation. (6+ / 0-)

    It's not working.  

  •  Holder's an idiot. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said, MsWings

    WTF was that statement in the AP article?

    He should have hammered the Grassley.

    "These lawyers were working with what was left of the Constitution after your guy got done wiping his ass with it!"

    But he can't because the Administration has not repudiated the heinous assault on the Constitution that Bush, Bybee & Yoo gave us...

    Can't we get someone who has principles?

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Thu Mar 04, 2010 at 06:26:37 AM PST

    •  Well, they did also release the names of the (5+ / 0-)

      Bush administration lawyers who worked for Gitmo detainees. I thought that was a pretty good push back. Still I do agree that they should be pissing on this tactic from a great height at every turn.

      It is completely unacceptable to question the loyalty of those actually working for the rule of law, as  opposed the Cheney cabal who are actively working to undermine it.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Thu Mar 04, 2010 at 06:29:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The difference between being a patriot (6+ / 0-)

    and being an insular "my country, right or wrong" zealot is unfortunately lost on too many people in our country at this time.

    A patriot values the Constitution as the foundation of the rule of law and as something implying ideals we want to export to the rest of the world.  A patriot stands up and opposes unlawful and misguided actions by any individual or any agency of the U.S. in order to keep this country great.

    The other group that falsely calls themselves patriots and goes on witch hunts against real patriots doesn't really care about our country or the world.  they only care about power and money.

    The witch hunts are all about misdirection.  If the false patriots can get people to focus on someone else, the people will not be looking at the false patriots and the destruction they are producing.

    "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

    by LookingUp on Thu Mar 04, 2010 at 06:31:49 AM PST

  •  I am so tired of this stupid game. (3+ / 0-)

    I am not that naive, that I don't know just because I am tired of this crap it will stop. However, those folks who are elected to serve the public need to serve the public, not themselves. I am also tired of many here slamming the President at every opportunity because he wants to be "bipartisan", because he beleives a consensus can always be reached. In the real world no matter how much people disagree there is always some way to reach common ground. Life is full of compromises, and if you don't think that is true, you are in for a lifetime of hurt. What needs to be considered is the extent of the compromise and the reasoning behind the compromise.
    There are real differences between the philosophy of each one of our major political parties, everyone knows that. However, if each one is sincere and the ultimate goal of each party is to do right by the American people and improve their lives, that is common ground and a consensus can usually be reached. Lately, it appears the ultimate goal has changed, it has now become seizing power or holding onto power.That would be o.k. if with that power either party wanted to do the right thing and accomplish something. It appears to me, the only reason to gain power is to pave the way to riches for your own personal life, in most cases.
    No one wants to rock the other's boat, because some day they may be in the same position and they don't want anyone rocking their boat either.
    It is no wonder there have been grass roots organizations springing up on both sides. The American people are frustrated, no matter what they do, no matter who they put into office, it never, ever changes. All over the country, people are singing the same tune, "throw the bums out". That is the reason why incumbents are facing an uphill battle this year. People look at their situation, not only with healthcare, but with the economy too. They are either out of work, with no signs of a job on the horizon, or they have a job and it doesn't pay well. Their employer can no longer pay for their healthcare, because costs have risen so high, they can not get ahead or get a raise in salary, however, the cost of living goes up each day, an their salary stays the same. While their standard of living is in a downward spiral, those they elected to serve them and "help" them are doing just fine, they still have good paying jobs, great healthcare for themselves and their families, and they continue to get their little bonuses from the American corporations to not change anything. It is no wonder people are asking, "who are these folks working for?" The average person cares nothing about political idealolgy, you can not eat political idealolgy, it doesn' pay your mortgage, nor does it get you medical care when you are sick. However, both sides hide behind political idealogly as a sheild for their own selfish needs.
    President Obama has not abandoned his idealolgy, he has just tried to put it on a shelf to  get the job done. Maybe it is because as President he has acheived the power they all seek, or maybe it is becuase he knows he was put in charge because people expect him to solve these problems and do it in a fair manner. I think everyday, he is trying to accomplish that goal, and he is doing it without any help from either side, while at the same time single handedly fending off daily attacks. In my opinion, we are far better off today, with this President in charge, then we have been for many years. He is trying his best to be an advocate for the middle class, the entire middle class, not just the special interests groups that are looking for handouts. I wish everyone single person in Congress would follow his lead.

    •  I agree wholeheartedly. The level of obstruction (2+ / 0-)

      has reached absurdity.  I understand that all of us want to fight for what we believe in, but the hysteria isn't helping.

      •  Let us fight for what we beleive in, but let (0+ / 0-)

        those we send to Washington, fight for what we beleive in, not for what feathers their own beds. I don't think the idealolgy they stand behind as their sheilds effects everyday Americans, they are playing to the fringe in each party. It has been my experience that most folks are somewhere in the middle, they want government to help them in their lives, however they don't want government to control their lives. What has appeared to have happened, is regulating large corporations, for example the health insurance industry, it would be good for the average American, but not so good for the insurance industry, so they have paid lots and lots of money to convice people that regulation is control and you better watch out, if you let them regulate us, then you will be next. In the real world, regulation helps us all, average people and corporations too. How much better off would Toyota be today, if they were more strictly regulated, and this little problem of theirs was not allowed to escalated. If when the first complaint came in about those gas pedals, the regulators demanded it be fixed, and not let them sell anymore cars until it was. I am just saying, and they seem like a good example.

  •  Great diary, Dog but, you don't (4+ / 0-)

    talk about Hoover's role in the "Witch Hunts". I've been reading up on ole j. edgar for a diary and i ran across an interesting tidbit in a bio called, "The Director" by Ovid Demaris-

    When asked about Hoover, McCarthy & Communists, William Sullivan - Hoover's aide in the Domestic Intelligence Division said, "We were the ones who made the McCarthy hearings possible. We fed McCarthy all the information he was using. OD - Are you sure of that? Sullivan - "I know what we were doing. I worked on it myself. At the same time we were telling the public we had nothing to do with it." Elsewhere in the book, when asked if Hoover was sincere about the threat from Communism, Sullivan states, "No, of course he wasn't sincere...He used the Party as an instrument to get appropriations from Congress." - The Director - Ovid Demaris

    There's more on that subject in that book and others, but Hoover's poisonious role in that era hasn't been talked about enough. They (The FBI) knew the Party hadn't been a large threat to the country since the late 1940's

    "Looks like we got ourselves a Reader" - Bill Hicks

    by blueoregon on Thu Mar 04, 2010 at 07:45:02 AM PST

  •  McCarthy and immunity from libel (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said, MsWings

    The only time Tailgunner Joe specifically mentioned names was on the floor of the Senate. The reason for this is that there is a specific exemption to libel law for legislative bodies.

  •  Now they're trying to rehabilitate McCarthy (3+ / 0-)

    When Ann Coulter's book tried to rewrite him as a slandered hero, I just rolled my eyes.  But now the right-wing zealots are trying to rewrite textbooks in Texas to say that McCarthy was proven right.  Oy.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Thu Mar 04, 2010 at 08:24:01 AM PST

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