Demonizing the opposition – usually through ad hominem attacks – is one of the most obnoxious of fallacious arguments. It is used a lot in political arguments, notably TV ads, because it works. Thanks to the Roberts Court, we are being inundated with ads from shadowy groups demonizing Democrats through ad hominem attacks. On Oct. 4 Rachel Maddow demonstrated how easily a single ad hominem TV ad is being repackaged and used against 16 different Democratic candidates across the United States. The name and face changes, but the rest of the script is identical.
Progressives usually refrain from demonizing their GOP opponents because: 1) it is using the GOP frame of fear appeals, 2) it is a weak argument that can be easily rebutted, and 3) GOPers provide so much real evil to point out that it is unnecessary.
But that brings me to a question: Is it demonizing if the people you are talking about are demonic?
Perhaps we should begin by defining demon. The internet gives us these definitions: devil; an evil supernatural being; monster; a cruel wicked and inhuman person; someone extremely diligent or skillful; the corrupted souls of humans; a malevolent spirit; chaotic evil; a nonhuman life form generally believed to be evil due to its lack of a human soul. Now who comes to mind?
Just this week I received two very professionally produced 4-page magazine-style mailers from Karl Rove’s Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies demonizing Blanche Lincoln:
- the "deciding vote" to pass ObamaCare,
- Lincoln voted to cut $500 billion from Medicare,
- Lincoln voted for $525 billion in job-killing taxes.
You remember Blanche Lincoln, right? The one who, along with only one other Democrat (Mark Pryor), voted with Republicans to defeat DADT and the DREAM Act? The one who, along with Pryor and Ben Nelson, voted against the reconciliation bill enacting Health Care Reform? If they can hang those accusations on her, they can hang them on Mitch McConnell.
But "ObamaCare" has been designated the whipping boy of this election cycle. It is front and center of the Republican "Pledge" and is probably said 10,000 times a day on Faux News. So Blanche, who voted with Republicans against HCR is now being attacked for supporting "Obamacare." It is often difficult to distinguish ad hominem from outright lies, particularly in GOP ads.
If you have read some of my previous diaries, you may think my question about demons is a reference to Blanche. Guess again. In fact, the smear campaign mounted by Karl Rove has made me rethink my vow to not vote for Lincoln. I think Karl’s $4 million dollars have bought at least one vote – FOR Blanche.
But my question about demonizing demons is more about GOP leadership in general. And it came up, appropriately enough, while I was reading through the comments in bobswern’s excellent diary, Will Elizabeth Warrne Enter the Foreclosure Fraud Fray? In it, NBBooks made a comment that stopped me cold.
It is a lengthy, very well-written comment and I would strongly urge you to read it – and the book NBBooks is citing: Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court by Jeff Shesol – for all of the reasons Books lists. (The link is to a TalkingPointsMemo Café article by Sheshol about the book.) NBBooks’ comment is on a Depression-era ruling by the Supreme Court allowing states to regulate mortgage issuers. The dissenting justices – all conservatives – were led by Justice Sutherland, who wrote the dissenting opinion. This excerpt stopped me in my tracks:
Sutherland was nostalgic for a time when "indiscretion or imprudence was not to be relieved by legislation," when the strict enforcement of contracts taught people to live thriftily and to repay their debts through "self-denial and painful effort."
Sutherland and the Court’s conservatives believed, throughout their long lives, in what [English philosopher Herbert] Spencer called "the mercy of severity." As Spencer wrote in Social Studies, his seminal work, in 1851: "The forces at work exterminate such sections of mankind as stand in their way, with the same sternness that they exterminate beasts of prey and herds of useless ruminants." This process of "purification" could not—and must not—be impeded by the state. "The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly," Spencer said, "is to fill the world with fools."
(my bold) Here, in a nutshell, is the guiding philosophy of the modern Republican party in all of its manifestations – from "moderate" conservatives to wild-eyed teapartiers:
Government exists solely to enforce contracts in favor of corporations and "exterminate such sections of mankind as stand in their way."
If you ever wondered how GOP leaders can propose gutting Social Security, try to scare the elderly into voting against their own best interests with lies about "death panels," publicly insist one thing while privately assuring supporters the opposite -- here's your answer. The think of 98 percent of the U.S. population (and, apparently that of the entire world) as herd animals to be used and "exterminated" at their whim. A compassionate conservative, as it turns out, is one who practices "the mercy of severity" -- toward everyone except "their kind."
Blanche may be a corporate shill and vote with the Repubs a lot more than I like, but she does vote with the ACLU 70 percent of the time, she supports a woman’s right to choose, and I’m pretty sure she isn’t trying to exterminate me, even though I frequently disagree with her. That puts her way ahead of anyone the GOP puts up.
But before you rush off to rid your mailbox of Crossroads GPS mailers, a word from our sponsors. . . .
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Tonight’s Top Comments. . . .
I do the captures for the nightly Countdown diary, but Inspector Dim took two of my captures and made a great comment out of them.
Ohiodem1 asks some good questions about the conservative/teabagging candidates and their Fox-controlled "public" appearances in Rachel Maddow's Crew Thrown Out of Christine O'Donnell's Headquarters by AlyoshaKaramazov.
From Neon Vincent:
In the spirit of a picture is worth a thousand words, JekyllnHyde tells Kossacks to find their courage.
revelwoodie explains how Democratic legislation changed her family's life for the better, even though it was passed long before she had a family.
In a different comment NBBooks explains the reason it is essential to refuse to enforce fraudulent financial contracts – foreign confidence in U.S. markets (and their willingness to invest with us) depends on it.
In that same diary Dirk McQuigley explains the role of the testing industry -- companies work with them to use "random drug testing" as a backdoor to invade employees' privacy.
Angie in WA State points out an important "side effect" of the mortgage frauds perpetrated by the big lenders that makes it everyone's business whether we have a mortgage or not -- they systematically defrauded state and local governments of the taxes they were legally entitled to on real estate transactions, depriving all of us (and our school systems) of local services or causing us to have to pay more so
bankfraudsters could get bigger bonuses.
Tonight’s Top Mojo . . . .
Top Mojo excluding search-identifiable tip jars, first diary comments, Cheers and Jeers, and Mojo Friday:
1) I absolutely know what you mean, BC excluded by ksh01 — 110
2) What the Polls Are Telling Us by JekyllnHyde — 110
3) dmhlt 66 Posted This in Another Diary by JekyllnHyde — 101
4) Beautifully written, and very well-argued. by boofdah — 99
5) The tougher the Dems get this year, by elwior — 85
6) IOKIYAR by MD patriot — 82
7) The way the media works these days means by Grumpy Young Man — 81
8) My son also has lifelong eye problem. by edwardssl — 76
9) Thank you for taking the time out of your by RobertInWisconsin — 71
10) When Oklahoma bans pulled pork, then I'll admit by Kimball Cross — 71
11) Didn't you know that it's perfectly OK by beltane — 71
12) For Now, Will You Settle for Two Jokers? by JekyllnHyde — 66
13) This is the best part of Todd's email LMAO by LaurenMonica — 65
14) Thank you for sharing your story, and I by marabout40 — 65
15) thank you for sharing this! by indybend — 64
16) A Lot of Stealth Money by JekyllnHyde — 63
17) I wonder if Republicans by tomjones — 62
18) eve, stop going ten rounds about this. by ezdidit — 62
19) Yep by Diogenes2008 — 61
20) The foreclosure fraud crisis has to do with by pvmuse — 60
21) That DE poll on the FP is DEVASTATING... by APA Guy — 60
22) Great letter! by LynChi — 57
23) Your last sentence NAILS IT, Tom by MinistryOfTruth — 54
24) Cool! by TomP — 53
25) hi Dawn, what a great story by nyceve — 53
26) W. Bush was caught saying nuclear properly by FishOutofWater — 53
27) You're my hero, Mr. Moore. by Tom Seaview — 52
28) I think they shot their wad by otto — 51
29) missing the key point by jalapeno — 50
30) Remember this by blue aardvark — 49;
Top Mojo with No Exclusions:
1) Tip Jar by Dawn Josephson — 555
2) Tip Jar by TomP — 496
3) Tip Jar by aprichard — 465
4) Tip Jar by Eclectablog — 379
5) Tip Jar by grandma blue — 342
6) Tip Jar by Michael Moore — 293
7) Tip Jar by bobswern — 210
8) I'm putting a lot of time this campaign season to by RLMiller — 196
9) Vote Yes on Prop 19! by TrahmalG — 163
10) tipped & rec'd for by ridemybike — 142
11) Tip Jar by slinkerwink — 117
12) I absolutely know what you mean, BC excluded by ksh01 — 110
13) What the Polls Are Telling Us by JekyllnHyde — 110
14) dmhlt 66 Posted This in Another Diary by JekyllnHyde — 103
15) Beautifully written, and very well-argued. by boofdah — 99
16) Tip Jar by Ojibwa — 97
17) Tip jar by it really is that important — 97
18) Tip Jar by change the Be — 87
19) The tougher the Dems get this year, by elwior — 86
20) IOKIYAR by MD patriot — 82
21) The way the media works these days means by Grumpy Young Man — 81
22) Tip Jar by word player — 77
23) My son also has lifelong eye problem. by edwardssl — 76
24) Didn't you know that it's perfectly OK by beltane — 71
25) When Oklahoma bans pulled pork, then I'll admit by Kimball Cross — 71
26) Thank you for taking the time out of your by RobertInWisconsin — 71
27) Tip Jar by Liberal Reality Check — 70
28) For Now, Will You Settle for Two Jokers? by JekyllnHyde — 66
29) Thank you for sharing your story, and I by marabout40 — 65
30) This is the best part of Todd's email LMAO by LaurenMonica — 65