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"Political correctness" (PC) is largely a meaningless catch-all term for demonizing liberals, which came into vogue in the early 1990s, just as the collapse of the Soviet Union finally took all the wind out of the "commie" slur.  But it actually originated among leftists, primarily on college campuses, to refer to the practice of humorlessly putting the minutia of form over the substance of justice—particularly by members of sectarian groups such as the American Communist Party or any of its various Trotskyite or Maoist rivals, often referred to as "the PC police."

Sometimes the politically correct had a point, but no sense of perspective.  Sometimes they didn’t even have a point—beyond, of course, their real point, which was to impose a uniformity of thought and expression among the groups’ followers, and to establish a presumed moral superiority.  Here at DKos, we recently had a really pernicious PC outbreak—pernicious because (1) it didn’t even have a point and (2) it served to suppress serious consideration of potentially very important, fruitful insights.  

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Cross-posted from Patterns That Connect

On Dec 04, Chris Bowers post, "The Two Obamas and Me, Part One" contrasted the principle-driven Obama who first inspired tremendous netroots support with the compromise-driven Obama who now seems intent on demonizing the very people who helped get him his start. Chris cited this example:

In town-hall meetings, when those who opposed the war get shrill, Obama makes a point of noting that while he, too, opposed the war, he's "not one of those people who cynically believes Bush went in only for the oil."

Chis followed up:

Did anyone with any power every say that? Did any leading Democrats ever say that? Did any progressive or liberal of any public stature ever say that? If they did, I'd love to see the quote.

Well, now it appears that someone has come quite close to saying that: The Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG).

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Cross-posted from Patterns That Connect

Chris Bowers posted a very important frontpage story at MyDD last night, "The Two Obamas and Me, Part One".  In it, he drew a distinction between the Obama who first attracted widespread, enthusiastic netroots and grassroots progressive support, and post-Senate election Obama who has often reiterated rightwing stereotypes of the left, in order to position himself more favorably.

In the course of the comments, some counter-arguments were raise, many knee-jerk and fatuous, but some serious, and deserving of serious replies.  

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Cross-posted from Patterns That Connect

Although somewhat complicated, and somewhat debated, I like to put the concept of hegemony in a nutshell as "a dominant ideology in drag as a common sense."  It’s a very stripped-down way of putting it, but I think it suits our times. The concept is important precisely because it covers so much, and points to a common functionality across a wide range of topics and issues—the whole range of dominant ideology, and the opposing views it seeks to render as more or less "unthinkable," as readily dismissable at the very least.

In this installment of my "Hegemony is the Enemy" series, I’ll delve a bit deeper into the concept to justify that description, while providing enough information to draw other conclusions as well.  

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Republished from Random Lengths News

Is Bush’s nominee to replace Donald Rumsfeld another scandal just waiting to happen? And why don’t the Democrats seem to care?

Over two decades before the Bush Administration first thought about politicizing intelligence to build a phony case for war against Iraq, Ronald Reagan’s CIA director, William Casey, played a trailblazing role in politicizing intelligence within the CIA, vastly inflating the threat posed by the Soviet Union, and blaming it for a wide range of terrorism it had nothing to do with. His right hand man was Robert Gates, President Bush’s appointee to succeed Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.

But Gates did more than politicize intelligence.  His involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, selling weapons to the terrorist-supporting Iranian government to illegally fund the terrorist Nicaraguan Contras—came close to getting him indicted.

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Sun Nov 26, 2006 at 01:59 PM PST

Hegemony Is The Enemy--Intro

by Paul Rosenberg

Cross-posted from Patterns That Connect.

With the election behind us, the task before us is more enormous than most folks realize. Political scientists describe American political history in terms of a series of “party systems,” divided by decisive breaking points, known as “realigning elections.”  The last universally agreed upon realigning election happened in 1932.  While things have changed enormously since then, the Republicans were never able to dominate the political landscape with sweeping congressional majorities the way that Democrats were.  The New Deal Party System crumpled, but did not fold.

Yet, that system is disdained by the punditocracy.  America's ownershp elite has repudiated the New Deal—an accommodation with the working [and middle] class necessitated by collapse of capitalism—although the people still support it.

That repudiation can be understood in terms of the concept of hegemony....

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Cross-posted From Patterns That Connect

With the election behind us, the task before us is enormous, more enormous than most folks realize. In a pre-election post, I raised the issue of realigning elections, wave elections that fundamentally alter the party system from one era to another. A single wave election will not do it, I argued.  Past history shows we need two in a row.

But even a party system realignment will not be enough to save us—not from such looming threats as global warming, for example.  In this series, I argue we must grapple with something deeper: the power of hegemony—a high-faluttin word that basically boils down to meaning a dominant ideology in drag as common sense. The recent death of economist Milton Friedman provides an opportunity for a glimpse at the workings of hegemony, as I’ll explain on the flip.

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Crossposted from Patterns That Connect

(Begun in mid-October. Completed today.)

Ever since the Bush regime began noticeably sputtering near the beginning of its second term, a growing chorus of conservative voices has grown increasingly distressed, and as it has seemed that Bush's failures would come to tar an entire movement, the cry has increasingly gone forth that Bush is not a "true conservative."  There is a problem in that claim, of course: it was not Bush alone, but his entire Administration, and the Republican majority in Congress, and at times a majority of conservative court appointees as well who were jointly responsible for the increasingly disastrous direction that the country has taken.  If Bush was not a "true conservative," then neither, one would think, were any of the other major players in the conservative movement of the past 30-plus years.

Absurd!

Or is it?

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Cross-posted from Patterns That Connect

I began writing this in July.  I would have looked so much more prescient if I had finished it up and posted it then!  But it contains reworkings of material I was already writing about in other posts, so the connections are obvious.

Since the 2000 election, descriptions of American political discourse and behavior is dominated by "blue" and "red", liberal and conservative as the fundamental divide, with the notion of polarization underlying and dominating all discussions.  Even those, such as during the immediate post-9/11 period, in which polarization was temporarily set aside, generally called attention to the fact of polarization by noting that it was conspicuously missing.

Looking forward to the 2006 elections, it seems unlikely to most that we could see a major, realigning election, giving Democrats decisive and lasting control over Congress. There are a number of reasons for this, but woven into all them, in one way or another is fundamental notion of a polarized, evenly-divided electorate.

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Fri Oct 20, 2006 at 01:46 PM PDT

What A Dem Landslide Could Mean

by Paul Rosenberg

Cross-posted from Patterns That Connect

As the once-fringe idea that Democrats could sweep to power in the House becomes the new conventional wisdom, the closing days of the campaign will be partly informed by what people think this could mean.  Naturally, those who were the last to see this coming will hog the airwaves and printspace telling us what it means.  But the online reality-based community is used to that noise.  So what should we be thinking instead?  My tentative answer involves a review of some scholarly theorizing and a good hard look at election numbers since 1892, aided by a nice clean graph.

Increasingly, people are realizing that the prospect of a massive "wave" victory can be just as motivating as fear of defeat.  Perhaps even moreso.  But what is this "wave" we speak of?  Some tell us it is rare event, that comes only once or twice in a lifetime ("water flowing underground").  This raises three questions: (1) What do they mean by that?  (2) Is it true?  (3) If so, what does that mean?

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Cross-posed from Patterns That Connect.

For almost a year--no, make that five years, maybe more, the GOP's top leadership hid a sex-scandal from the American people, involving Congressman Mark Foley cyberstalking House pages.  Now, over the past three days, the GOP's top leadership has been involved in a public coverup of that longterm private coverup.  It's not the first example we've seen of a public coverup by the GOP.  Indeed, the seemingly paradoxical notion--a public act of concealment--dates back, in it's current incarnation, to Gerald Ford's Watergate pardon of Richard Nixon, the man who made him President.  But unlike most GOP coverups, this one is about SEX, and for that reason, if no other, it has to be handled extremely delicately.  Like a finicky explosive, it could easily blow up without warning.

Woops!  It already has. But the GOP is still hoping against hope that they can control this thing, somehow, someway. Which means it's a good time for some historical and cultural perspective.

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Crossposted from Patterns That Connect.

In a short diary at Dkos and elsewhere, Frameshop maestro Jeffrey Feldman has advanced the frame "Hastert Protected A Predator."  We could quibble a bit--perhaps "House Republicans Protected a Predator" would be better as a broad indictment of their entire leadership, perhaps not, since it's too impersonal--but there's no question that conceptually Jeffrey's scored a direct hit.  The question is--are there others?

Of course there are.  And I'd like suggest three more in this diary.  They're not all for pushing as equally accessible media frames.  Some are primarily for clarifying our own thinking, and just beginning to introduce them to a wider audience.  Because, you see, frames are not just about how we communicate messages.  They are also about how we think.

The frames discussed are:

       "Hastert Protected A Predator."
        "We Need Eagles, Not Ostriches"
        "Investigate Now: Stop The Public Coverup"
        "Corruption Is The Symptom, Conservatism Is The Disease"

Details on the flip.

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