Three weeks ago, I tweeted this:

@shoq: Somewhere, deep inside @DavidFrum, there’s a useful progressive yearning to be free: #p2

I was being a bit glib about it, but I was trying to express an intuition about a sense I’ve had about a slow and sometimes erratic transformation in Frum’s daily political countenance.  And I got some swift kicks for it from liberal friends, particularly the esteemed Jamison Foser at Mediamatters.  But my point was that anyone who has watched him the past few years can see that, if certainly not a liberal emerging, he was at least a devout conservative who was frequently bucking the tide of wretched effluent spewing from that culvert of catastrophe called the Republican party.

I so loathed him as the architect of Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech, that it took me years of reading him to even begin to consider him as anything more than a skilled propagandist who would throw polemical trojan horse bon bons at the left, so he could poison their narratives with a stealthy political rhetoric packed deep within.

But while almost every other actual or self-styled conservative intellectual (forgive the oxymoron) has laboriously propped up the growing Republican stupidocracy, he’s been one of the very few to consistently show that not all conservatives have surrendered to a future history that will inevitably paint them as completely batshit crazy.

While Foser’s cautions never go unheeded, I think this week, I’ve been proved more right than wrong in my instincts. Frum has just published a scathing evisceration of everything wrong with, if not conservative philosophy as a whole (which would be a nice next step), but at the very least, the feckless and reckless Republican party that now makes a mockery of any pretense it had that it was capable of leading this nation out of the terrifyingly deep hole that it helped to dig for us.

Far from a delicately nuanced piece that could be labeled as some disingenuous ruse to secure his own @MSNBC TV show, it was a candid, fiery, multi-count indictment of his cherished Republican party.

He titled his opus, thusly:

When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?

Some of my Republican friends ask if I’ve gone crazy. I say: Look in the mirror.

But as he goes on to articulate well, he knows that they won’t look in that mirror, because in fact, most of them can’t look and still keep their jobs or status in the decomposing framework of a political party they have helped to make for themselves and their careers. Finding the GOP to be all but a crippled ideological shell of what it was even a decade ago, he surgically dissects the cacophony of contrivances that that have been created during their exuberant transformation from a political party, into a manipulative marketing firm serving the Teaparty, Fox News, and their many people, products, and pseudo-candidates.

He goes on and on for 5 glorious web pages about how these players have merchandized all of this mayhem with nary a nominal concern for the environmental toxins they’ve introduced into our fragile socio-political eco-system, and each day demonstrate a nearly suicidal disregard for even the most obvious of immediate or long-term fiscal or social consequences.

I have yet to see anyone on the Left do as good a job of exposing the myriad of disastrous moral, ethical and philosophical fails that Frum’s party has brought down upon our once-proud country. He doesn’t touch on their culpability (or his) nearly enough, but what he does do, can be neatly summed up by this:

This isn’t conservatism; it’s a going-out-of-business sale for the baby-boom generation.

David Frum is hardly anyone’s idea of a liberal, but he certainly resembles those left leaning Republicans of my youth. We called them Rockefeller Republicans back then. Today, we just call them sane.

I still have no small measure of doubt about Frum and his veracity. His past toadiness will linger for a long time, and I don’t forgive political crimes easily.  And those doubts get compounded by the simple fact that despite this flogging of their failures, he still doesn’t officially renounce and leave his moribund party altogether. He knows that nothing is going to save it. It needs to be completely rehabbed, like some old rendering plant that may find a future reuse, but only after the stench and disease of decades of disgusting entrails have been sandblasted and power-washed away, then resurfaced with many layers of a good anti-fungal primer, followed by a thick top-coat of a quality semi-gloss that is not just more attractive to the mainstream, but also far more off-white than it had been.

But in fairness, as most Progressives know all too well, the Democratic Party could use a similar rehabbing. We have our own layers of repulsive filth to be redressed. It must be transformed from a 19th century relic of capitalist appeasers cloaked in civil rights clothing, into a truly dedicated engine for building a government dedicated to economic fairness and social justice in a new century. While an unlikely trendsetter, perhaps David Frum can start a trend.

I urge you to read his essay with an open mind, and credit him with a credit due. If we can get more of his colleagues to tell more truths like this, and praise them when we do, there may be yet be hope that more cultured and capable intellects can come together and help us find a way to get our cherished old American wagon out of this seemingly bottomless ditch. It’s a long shot, to be sure. But in faint hope,  there can be found some hope. And that’s a lot more hope than we have now.

I hope you’ll pass this on. At the very least, it’s one small step for man, even if we have a very long way to go for the rest of human kind.

See Also


On the heels of some enthusiastic media response to President Obama’s aggressive posture on his new jobs plan, the professional left has been very busy pushing their latest vanity meme.  Quick to seize whatever media narrative is likely to generate the most blog traffic and broadcast audiences, they lit up the Internets with self-congratulatory high-fives and backslapping. Why? Because they have convinced themselves that it was their relentless carping about every rumor, allegation or political move that Obama has made for the past 2.75 years that was responsible for “pushing” him into what the media now trumpets as his new “get tough” stance with Republicans.

There is just no way, in their minds, that this might have been President Obama’s strategy all along — that he used issues like the debt ceiling negotiations in order to demonstrate  just what giving the country to the Republicans again would be like. Fortunately, not every blogger is batshit stupid. Salon‘s Steve Kornacki sees the forest around those trees:

It seems logical to conclude that President Obama’s sudden eagerness to pick fights with Republicans means that he’s realized the folly of his “reasonable man” strategy and junked it. But a better way to understand the president’s new confrontational posture is as an extension of that strategy.
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But the Professional Left, like most of the mainstream media, always seems convinced of both its rightness and its righteousness.  For a body of people who rarely have an economist among them, or any other expert for that matter, their opinions are always presented as skilled, knowing, and eminently correct. That’s why, except for the few at the top of the pyramid, most of them are often scrounging for meager ratings or page views just to stay alive. But minimal revenues doesn’t mean they have minimal impact. As I will show later, they can have a great deal of that.

On a related matter, over the past few weeks, Democratic strategist (or something or other), @DavidOAtkins (now working as wingman for the legendary Digby over at Hullabaloo), and his co-worker sibling, Democratic strategist (or something or other) @DanteAtkins, have been tag-teaming me on Twitter. They are diligently trying to convince me that Obama’s problems are all of his own making, and that “pro left” narratives have had little impact on voters, especially on those all important independents, whose votes Obama will need to win re-election and keep the plutocratic hit-squad of Republicans from making things that much worse.

@DanteAtkins: @Karoli, the problem is that @shoq has no nuance. it’s mostly telling people that everything would be fine if the emoprogs shut up.

Every few days, this dynamic duo throws at me so much of this “straw” that I could remake the Wizard of Oz a hundred times and never need to outsource the Scarecrow stuffing. In fact, I have never said anything of the sort.

What I have said, routinely, and in many forms (as anyone who follows my Twitter stream can attest) is that when faced with a GOP adversary far better-armed and better-positioned than the seemingly impotent Progressive movement is, and at a time when our entire democracy is teetering at the edge of a kleptocratic abyss, our political criticism should be measured and constructive. Irrespective of whether President Obama was ever a real tried-and-true “scratch ‘n’ sniff me to prove it” Progressive (which he neither claimed to be nor campaigned as), our criticism should not recklessly threaten the stature and electability of the guy we elected to drive the Progressive bus.

At the present time, through no small fault of our own, both progressivism and our nation-state are too fragile for us to be tossing out mindless invective, ad hominem insult, and deprecating and emasculating vitriol that is every bit as ugly and dispiriting as the worst of what the right wing noise machine puts out every day, and which, in effect, throws Obama under the public’s perception bus every time another real or ginned-up story breaks in the MSM.

Talk about lack of nuance? Do these brothers read the papers? Since Obama’s first month in office, the so-called professional left has gone off on some new bender of vicious discontent, pushing barbs and bullets to their friends, followers, or sycophants among both MSM and alternative broadcasters, producers, bloggers, journalists, as well as all those pro- and semi-pro please-sign-our-petition-and-send-us-your- money grifters and carpetbaggers like Adam Green and Jane Hamsher. And most members of the professional left are all too happy to use the free ink to bulk up their content offerings, which, naturally, carry the requisite Google ads and pre-roll videos.

The collective “#ObamaFail” narrative — which has been the professional left’s stock in trade for years now – satisfies the seemingly pathological emotional need to wax miserable, lose elections, and blame it all on any convenient scapegoat; and many readers and viewers mindlessly nod along with this narrative as the professional left’s page views and impressions pile up. Never mind the facts and analysis that might speak otherwise. Facts, in our meme-of-the-moment era are for the little people.

In my view, the arguments of the Atkins boys and their lot boil down to the following: “Don’t blame us, criticism in a democracy is healthy,” as if all good and progressive change in America came about because Wilson, FDR, Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, LBJ, and Clinton were called “spineless, pussies, wimps, compromisers, cavers, and Wall Street stooges” every day for the first 3 years of their terms by a 24/7 news media juggernaut that also wore a Fox News top hat. Moreover, these so-called Emo Progressives are almost entirely of the consensus that anyone critical of such criticism must be a spineless Wall Street stooge. Never mind the fact that there are plenty of educated and thoughtful progressives who forcefully push back against such destructive myth-making, often eloquently pointing out that there is much more to the history of progressive victories than a magical “bully pulpit” from which rainbows and unicorns will always flow like a river of mercury whenever a Democratic president up and “shows a little backbone.”

With a lot of encouragement from people like me, a growing chorus of pragmatic progressives have been speaking out about these and other defensive postures of the professional left. These pragmatic progressives reject the notion that criticizing the critics somehow enables compromisers, sell-outs, and spineless centrist appeasers. Moreover, these pragmatic progressives have begun to chronicle the manner in which Obama has outmaneuvered the Republicans at almost every step, and has deftly maximized whatever leverage a president could have in a democracy that chose to give its Congress to a gang of marauding lunatics. As Nicholas Wilbur (aka @MuddyPolitics) brilliantly noted in a recent post,the Emo Progressives are illustrating a simple concept: political wars are not won by investing all your emotional energy in the daily postures and predicaments of your commanding general, nor are they won by squandering all of your vital resources in each battle that you fight or get sucked into along the way:

One individual cannot rebuild a crumbling nation. Change does not come overnight. Without the Left in his corner, understanding the big-picture strategy and backing him once again as he fights for a little “equality” in this debate over income equality, President Obama will lose not only the battle of 2011, but also the war of 2012.
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Meanwhile, these emotionally-charged firebrands – these Emo Progressives — continue to deaden and demoralize the electorate. The evidence is everywhere. Voters don’t just make up the words and expressions they voice. These words and expressions are assimilated from friends and family, most often from memes and messages gleaned from the popular media.

For example, a piece in today’s Miami Herald, almost gleefully extols Florida independent voters’ complaints that “Obama hasn’t gotten anything done, compromises too much, sits on the fence.”

“He’s super intelligent but he’s terrible at getting things done,” said Greg Peters, 42, a restaurant owner in downtown Orlando and independent voter who said he’s already moved off the fence and is hoping a better Republican candidate emerges.

“They want one thing — they want results, and when they don’t get results they change their minds and go the other way,” noted Democratic pollster Tom Eldon of Sarasota.

Obama’s attempts to reach the middle have often frustrated his Democratic base. He backed off on efforts to repeal the Bush-era tax cuts (he’s since renewed the call), pursued a less aggressive drawdown of the wars than promised in 2008 and has offered up changes to entitlement programs.

“I have hard-core Democrat friends who don’t think he’s forceful enough. I like that’s he made strides to work across party lines,” said Tonya Simmons, an environmental consultant and independent voter

By contrast, Amanda Stroup said Obama has tried to placate Republicans too much. The Tampa independent voter was angered by his decision earlier this month to abandon new EPA standards for smog pollution. “He buckled under the Republican Congress,” said Stoup, 31, who may vote for a third-party candidate if one emerges to her liking.

To be sure, the article also outs the economy as a major, across-the-board factor in independent voters’ discontent; but it is the specific gripes that put the wind in the sails of these voters’ disgruntlement.

Articles like the one above are appearing all across the country, mostly as a result of routine Obama-bashing which may have reached its zenith this past weekend.  The NY Times, Washington Post, Politico, and others decided it was time to pile on with stories about how how “panicked” the Democrats were over Obama’s political future, largely because of the almost completely unrelated defeat of a Democrat in a New York special election to replace the disgraced Anthony Weiner.

These outlets are always more than eager to distribute any story that demoralizes Democrats. And where do they get much of the story ledes and much of the content for these train wreck stories?  From the daily output of the Greenwalds, Hamshers, Marshes, Moores, Greens, Uygurs, Schultzes, and countless other professional critics, carpers, and perpetual malcontents who are now quite renowned for their morose commentary and butter-soft analysis on any topic that strikes their daily fancy.

These corrosive raconteurs, some of them not even living in America, seem to be in a spirited competition to seek out and expose faults in anything and everything the Obama administration does, whether it actually did it, were said to have done it, or someone suggested it might be thinking about doing it. Whatever it was, is, or might be, it’s bound to be wrong. Period. Because that’s what they’ve conditioned their readers and viewers to expect: non-stop #Obamafail. Even when he delights the base with something like his jobs speech, you can count the seconds before the negativity will ooze from the pores of every dour face on the professional left.

In our cultural three-ring political carnival of TV dancing bears and clown acts — where all that bloggers and pundits seem to care about is firing up people’s emotions with whatever contrived headline brings in link traffic — we can’t afford to keep producing the messages that keep the masses of low-information voters grousing about their many disappointments.

Most voters just care about their jobs and their families. They don’t have the time, knowledge or skills to parse all the nuances of our political maelstrom and make informed choices. Most voters rely on family, friends, co-workers and the media to tell them what to think and feel about the options before them. The right-wing has perfected how to reframe those choices to a few simple ideas, while Progressives continue to mix and muddle their messages with such frequency that most voters can’t clearly understand what Progressives and/or Democrats want to accomplish in the first place. And it is all the more confusing to voters when they see a team that appears all too eager to piss Haterade all over its coach on every play of the game.

This pattern must change, or we are simply doomed.

Yes, criticism matters. But so does winning elections. Why? Because if we lose this Senate and White House (and in so doing, probably any chance of a liberal Supreme Court in your lifetime), we simply may not get another chance to win any others.  It is convenient to argue that such claims are “fear-mongering” and to claim that such statements are the akin to Fox News’s modus operandi.  It isn’t fear-mongering, however, to point out certain inevitabilities.  For example, President Romney or Perry or Bachmann will attempt to strip the LGBT community of all rights which slowly but surely have been acquired, and saying so is not fear-mongering.  Comparatively, Fox News claims that Obama wants to “pull the plug on grandma” is fear-mongering because it has no basis in fact.  In short, when you’re about to be hit by a train, someone screaming WATCH OUT! is not your enemy.

For a few hundred years, presidents were criticized without overt hatred and contempt from their own side.  Progressives have a duty to disseminate messages that say “Yes, this is hard. Yes, we need to be firm. But we have a long way to go, and compromises are sometimes expedient, not evil. Change is about moving forward, not backwards. We’re all on this plane together. We can educate our pilot about where we want to go, and criticize his rudder and stick actions that might take us off a preferred course. But he’s an honest man, he works hard, and we elected him to lead this flight crew for 4-8 years. Shooting him in the back while the plane is in the air is just not really in the national interests of the passengers on board.”

With Republicans brazenly and recklessly redistricting Congressional representation, suppressing votes, cracking down on union membership, money, and outreach, and exploiting the Citizens United ruling so they can spew any corporatist propaganda that they can get some conservative or business interest to pay for, the issue is not just about “sit down and shut up.” It’s about “be constructive, or you may never get another chance to stand and speak at all.”




Grey Parker is one of those bloggers you stumble upon when someone in your stream says "you gotta read this."  I did that some months ago, and ever since, I eagerly snap at his posts like a Venus Fly Trap that just got lucky.  Today, Grey decided to respond to the execrable new Tokyo Rose of right wing propaganda, Dana Loesch, the oh-so hot and sassy queen of fabrication and faux-facts, who @CNN had the unmitigated corporatist's gall to make a "contributor."  As if we hadn't had enough of these pugnacious media sociopaths, such as her bilious boss, Andrew Breitbart, this gussied-up raconteur of packaged hate aimed at anyone but the elites who butter her daily bread has all the charm and grace of a hand grenade tossed into an infant care ward. 

Despicable Dana (DD), as I call her, had posted the following within one of her more scurrilous screeds over at (a site so misnamed that still makes me throw up a little in my mouth each and every time I see it),

"I loathe when American conservatives define themselves as “right wing” anything, even in jest — just as I loathe when the liberal press uses it as identification for American conservatives — because it is an inaccurate use of the term."

Spotting yet another professional hit job on the truth, worthy of anything Jonah Goldberg, the Right's minister of mawkish meanderings about whatever fake histories appealed to him on any given day might have contrived, Grey proceeds to educate DD on her grotesque misunderstandings and misrepresentations of history, as well as her felonious overreliance and misuse of Wikipedia.  Thankless job of evisceration that it was, Parker works his words like a righteous saber, leaving little more than entrails and eye shadow on the floor.

Enjoy reading it: Here You Go, Dishonest Coward 

For posts such as that…

…I have added Grey to my growing list of writers who demonstrate great understanding and insight when explaining the history and precedents of what brought America to this increasingly sad and sinking ship of state where fallacies get more attention than facts, and the fancy-faced, canard-spewing carnival barkers like Loesch get rich by advancing any misinformation that benefits the very worst class of elites the world has seen in modern times.  

Fairly soon now, I hope to deploy this small army of articulators in a unique way, well before the 2012 election, with this attenuating hope that there is still enough respect for truth left in America that basic facts can still have a bit more influence than complete and utter falsehoods. An inventor by trade, I didn't actually want to spend my creative time finding and popularizing new ways of correcting the lies and distortions in the Right's public narratives, but it's been increasingly clear that someone has to do it. When the time comes, I sure hope Grey will join me.  My gut says he will, but to even my surprise, I'm wrong  a lot :)

And now this:

I know it's been a long while since my last post. I just have too many projects and too little time. But as important and real as that excuse is, another is that I've really come to enjoy tweeting the thoughts and ideas of other people saying what I might have wanted to say, but who say it far better than I would have.  We all have our talents and passions. At this time, I am content that one of mine is promoting those whose stable of skills at informing and truth telling are a good deal deeper than my own.