Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
Michael Wolraich is a non-fiction writer in New York City. He co-founded dagblog, contributes frequently to CNN.com, and wrote Blowing Smoke: Why the Right Keeps Serving Up Whack-Job Fantasies about the Plot to Euthanize Grandma, Outlaw Christmas, and Turn Junior into a Raging Homosexual (Da Capo, 2010). Wolraich has been a guest on C-SPAN's BookTV, The John Batchelor Show, Culture Shocks, and various radio shows across the country. He is currently working hard on his next masterpiece, When the War Began: Theodore Roosevelt, Republican Progressives, and the Birth of Modern Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
Wolraich is also the computer genius who maintains dagblog's state-of-the-art software, but he denies responsibility for technical glitches and advises users to "quit sniveling." In his spare time, Wolraich raises peach mold and performs live impressions of the law of gravity.
In a stormy meeting on Thursday, Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives rejected Speaker John Boehner's compromise with President Obama over the schedule of the President's speech to a joint session of Congress.
The White House had sent Mr. Boehner a request for President Obama to address Congress on the evening of Wednesday, September 7. Such requests are considered routine and have been approved 47 times since 1962 without challenge.
But in the volatile political climate of 2011, nothing can be taken for granted. Many Tea Party-affiliated Republicans had campaigned against wasteful speechmaking in the 2010 election, and 216 had signed a "No New Speeches" contract sponsored by Grover Norquist's fundraising organization, Americans for Talk Reform.
"Americans don't need more speeches," argued House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in an hour-long discourse from the House floor last week, "They want the folks in Washington to shut the heck up." [Read more]
For research purposes, I subscribe to a newsletter from the Christian Anti-Discrimination League.
The organization's title is a deliberate imitation of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. Its stated mission is to combat "anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination."
But its actual mission is very different. The CADL employs a common hate-group tactic by offering a veneer of "anti-discrimination" to rationalize its intolerant objectives. Another example is David Duke's National Association for the Advancement of White People. (I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out what organization it purports to imitate.)
I used the word "rationalize" rather than "mask" because groups like the CADL do not deliberately misrepresent their motivations. Dr. Gary Class, president of the CADL, very likely sees himself as a righteous defender of Christian civil rights, as do many of his subscribers. They really believe that they oppose discrimination.
That belief is not a lie for the general public. It's a delusion--a lie to themselves. It allows them to feel comfortable with their own bigotry by projecting those feelings onto the people they hate. By imagining that they are defending tolerant Christians from intolerant Muslims, for example, they cast themselves as innocent victims rather than predatory bigots.
If you look, you can see this tactic employed over and over by the right wing, and I have written extensively about it in Blowing Smoke.
Below the fold, please find the latest newsletter from the so-called Christian Anti-Discrimination League. The subject line is "Islam's Secret Strategy to Destroy America Exposed." [Read more]
When Gov. Rick Perry of Texas called for a day of prayer and fasting in Houston, world-famous televangelist John Hagee answered enthusiastically.
"We pray for our governor, Rick Perry," he gruffly proclaimed, "who has had the courage today to call this time of fasting and prayer just as Abraham Lincoln did in the darkest days of the Civil War."
When Perry officially launches his presidential campaign this weekend, he will not be the only Republican candidate to carry the banner of Christian piety. The presidential pre-primary season has not featured so many brave Christian Abraham Lincolns since the days of Abraham Lincoln himself.
Dear readers and contributors,
First off, thank you for being part of the dagblog community. Or rather, thank you for being the dagblog community, for there is no community without you. Your eloquent writing, cogent arguments, passionate beliefs, and sharp wit has made dagblog a unique and (in our opinion) wonderful space in the blogosphere.
In any passionate community, there are bound to be strong ideological and personal differences. Our aim as moderators has been to protect and preserve the political debates while curbing the personal conflicts. Because so many of you have worked hard to respect these goals, we think that we have succeeded better than other comparable websites. [Read more]
Wait! Don't be misled by the title. I'm not asking for your opinion about whether to vote for Obama. Whatever it is, I promise that we've heard it many times before.
Instead, I'm asking the question that Obama and his political staff will be asking themselves as they head into the 2012 campaign: What reasons will they offer voters to re-elect Obama?
The standard incumbent strategy is the old "stay the course" bromide. Focus on describing your accomplishments and vaguely promise more of the same.
But that won't work for Obama. If there is one thing that all Americans can agree on, it's that the country is way the hell off-course. Staying on our current trajectory would be a very bad idea. [Read more]
Putting aside anxieties over the economy and fury at Republicans, Democrats, the media, and whomever else makes us hopping mad, let's play a little game of political strategy.
While House Speaker John Boehner's formidable skin-tone and Michele Bachmann's spine-chilling folksiness has driven many a Democrat to gibber in fear, it's helpful to remember that Republican power in Washington is not exactly overwhelming.
Republicans lead the House of Representatives by 37 votes. That's not a lot. From 2007 to 2009, Democrats led the House by 78 votes and controlled the Senate to boot but somehow failed to accomplish anything of note or even to dominate the national discussion. [Read more]
You'll notice a pattern in all stories: There are three kinds of characters: heroes, villains and there but for the grace of God go I.
-- Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck started strong. After joining Fox News on the eve of President Obama's inauguration, he quickly built an audience of two million viewers per night, particularly impressive for a 5:00 p.m. timeslot. The New York Times heralded Fox News's "mad, apocalyptic, tearful rising star." Time magazine featured Beck's protruding tongue on its cover. Television audiences rated him their favorite TV personality after Oprah Winfrey. [Read more]
I am sad to report that dagblog has been forced to dismiss a member of our team after years of faithful service.
You may not know TinyMCE by name, but she has served has our Rich Text Editor since 2008 when dagblog was founded. Every word that you have ever typed at dag has been tenderly processed and formatted by the indefatigable Tiny.
True, she sometimes garbled the font and impulsively inserted extra lines between paragraphs. And yes, her spellchecker never worked very well. But she did her job every day without complaint and kept dagblog humming. [Read more]
President enters stage left, beaming loftily at the Chorus.
House Speaker enters right, arms crossed and scowling.
President silently opens his hands as if presenting a gift. Speaker shakes his head angrily.
President furrows his brow, points at his watch, and wags his finger. Speaker shakes his fist in the air and grimaces fiercely.
Chorus members cover open mouths in alarm and look nervously at their watches.
* * *
It makes for good theater, and the audience is enthralled. Will Democrats cave to Republican demands for stiff budgets cuts as a condition for raising the debt ceiling? Will Republicans compromise on taxes? Are they actually crazy enough to drive the United States into bankruptcy?
Given the breathless media coverage of the drama, you can be forgiven for thinking that you're witnessing a genuine conflict with serious economic consequences. In fact, what is you're watching is a charade--a dumb show, as it was called in Shakespeare's time.
Stay informed about my next book, When the War Began: Teddy Roosevelt, Republican Progressives, and the Birth of Modern Politics