The arrest of Trey Radel matters insofar as it reveals the kinds of fictions to which pols of all stripes subscribe. Liberals and conservatives agree government is Too Big and cumbersome: description, not criticism. Big government comes especially handy when you need help:
Miron estimates taxpayers shell out about $44 billion yearly for the drug war, and that legalizing and taxing drugs would yield $33 billion more in annual revenue.
But decriminalizing drugs undercuts the police and prison-industrial complex — the ultimate expressions of Big Government power over its citizens.
Now Radel owes that government a solid after the federal cops appeared to cut him some significant slack.
When he was busted in the undercover federal sting, Radel wasn’t taken to the station. It appears he wasn’t even jailed or handcuffed.
Prior to his bust, when it came to drugs, the cocaine congressman appeared to support the type of Big Government that opposes medical marijuana, wants to drug-test food-stamp recipients and shouldn’t leave marijuana legalization up to the states (so much for state’s rights).
Also, Democrats point out, Radel was an outspoken critic of Obamacare mandates, which among other things, requires insurers to provide coverage for drug-abuse treatment.
Now Radel is in drug treatment. The guy who didn’t want tax money benefitting some people with drug problems could be benefitting from tax money to help him deal with his drug problem. Republican opponents are already floating that one-liner to reporters.
I dislike Caputo’s coarse descriptors (“cocaine congressman”) and choppy rhythms, but in Radel’s defense, the column notes Radel took a couple of unexpected positions that cost him no political capital. The the way in which his arrest, treatment, and – better – his contrition were handled reminds me that socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor still breathe in America.
Regular HTV readers know my admiration for Charles Pierce, whom I cite at least once a week. He’s the funniest American political columnist. If all you did was read “What Are the Gobshites Saying These Days,” his roundups of the Sunday morning talk shows, in which he pays attention to panjandrums as they ooze pieties without cracking their face powder, you’d get a sense of his wit. The most recent entry dissects the GOP obsession with a health care website they don’t want to fix and their determination not to give a damn about the Americans without Willard Romney’s insurance plan. Like a good historian, he makes inductive leaps that work: read “Andrew Johnson And The Roots Of Constitutional Conservatism.”
I like Pierce so much that I mistake his wisdom for generalism. Today he writes a piece about the Country Music Awards so reactionary that the Newt Gingrich for whom Boys Town served as a model for Troubled Modern Youth would have tweeted it. The subject of his ire? Confirmed Obama supporter Brad Paisley and gay marriage endorser Carrie Underwood’s lame joke about the Obamacare website. Jon Stewart has made lame jokes about the website. Charles Pierce thinks it’s embarrassing too. For Pierce, though, the joke served as an excuse for admissions like this, in which you sense his relief in sharing with y’all, like a dude unbuckling his belt on the porch, leaning back, and belching:
Let’s forget all of that and concentrate on the main issue — which is that I think modern country music sucks gigantic bowls of monkey dick. It is, weight for age, the phoniest genre of music since Pat Boone was ripping off Little Richard. Most of what is celebrated as “country” these days is simply bad rock and roll played by people who look like they flunked the audition for a Night Ranger tribute band. I mean, Taylor Fking Swift is already a “legend,” and Patsy Cline would have eaten her on toast.
To expect a political columnist to have read this, this, this, and a myriad other mini essays in Tumblr or Facebook about the dismal state of male-dominated country rock — and the counterrevolution for which Miranda Lambert and her associates have served as avatars — is unreasonable, not when Washington offers so many delicious objects of derision. But Pierce, who posts as if he’s never endured the acid rain of banality that is an award show, uses the Paisley-Underwood joke like the apparatchik in Milan Kundera’s novel: a truncheon with which to beat those goobers whose tunes are uploaded to plutocrat iPhones. Some of Marco Rubio’s most glassy-eyed fans? They love “Gimme Shelter” for the same reasons Pierce and I and hundreds of other liberals do: it’s a frightening song about anxieties that are just a shot away. That’s the privilege of living in Miami-Dade County — you know this stuff. Hell, last spring Charles Pierce himself tipped his hat and complimented Kacey Musgraves for singing real purty (like Emmylou!) and writing as good as Graham Parsons, Guy Clark, and the other country rock icons of his golden youth.
A gay man with a shelf groaning with Henry James and Geoffrey Hill, I have every reason to agree with Theodor Adorno: “Sports itself is not play, but ritual in which the subjected celebrate their subjection.” Recent developments make a stronger case than Adorno ever did. But to use these incidents as reasons to indict the atavism of the modern capitalist state would be the kind of stupidity that won’t learn how to spell “nuance.” How stupid also to expect a correspondence between the cast-a-cold-eye probity required of a excellent political columnist and of a critic.
To “read” Glenn Beck or to watch him perspire is to learn the depths of his contempt for Woodrow Wilson, in his mind the ancestor of Obamaism. It prompted Chris Hayes to tweet months ago: “there’s a weird, v powerful meme these days on the right that lefties worship Woodrow Wilson.” After years of silence two significant biographies have emerged since 2010: John Milton Cooper’s Woodrow Wilson: A Biography and now A. Scott Berg’s Wilson. We need more. Until the New Deal and Great Society, the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Wilson constitute the zenith of Progressivism, but more than FDR and TR the governor of New Jersey and president of Princeton University commanded the fractious Democratic Party with a sureness of purpose that would be the envy of modern presidents. With the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, the Underwood Tariff reducing import rates to decent levels, the federal income tax (declared unconstitutional in 1895 by the Supreme Court), a child labor law, and his support albeit reluctant for women’s suffrage, Wilson’s first term might be the most constitutionally significant in American history. Years spent writing about the federal system taught Wilson to regard the presidency as a parliamentarian using every level of power to bind his party to his will. He wrote elegant prose — the last president, indeed, to write his own speeches, pecked away on his typewriter. By all accounts he was most persuasive on the stump too. Had he abdicated the party leadership and let a hack lose the presidency to Charles Evans Hughes in 1916, we might accept the Wilson administration on his admirers’ terms: as world historic as Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln’s.
One might. One might. But time will not relent, as Wallace Stevens wrote. Devoted to the high-mindedness of Wilson’s estimation of himself, A. Scott Berg writes a narrative in which the milestones stick out like berries in a rum cake but ignores serious consideration of Wilson’s paradoxes and — let me say it — monstrosities. To study Woodrow Wilson is to set aside once and for all time the value of intentions. There wasn’t a principle the man was not willing to discard, rewrite, or talk over in his pursuit of power. A sick man, prone to violent headaches that were the symptoms of a blood and thyroid condition, he let ambition turn him into a drooling, paralyzed crackpot burning with resentments. Persuaded by the Democratic machine in New Jersey to run for governor after a crusade to rid Princeton of social clubs led to his embarrassment, he promptly turned on it with astounding speed. On the presidential campaign — he was barely governor a few months before the tick-tock of his ambition kept him from realizing the remainder of his impressive progressive agenda — a passage from the fifth (!) volume of his History of the American People, published in 1902, praised Chinese immigration at the expense of the Polish and Italians who settled on the east coast. “Wilson explained the context of his remarks to those who petitioned him and asked his publishers if he might rewrite one or two passages for future printings of the book,” Berg writes. “No immigrant movement ever took hold.”
Pause over this incident, one I hadn’t read before; Berg doesn’t. By itself harmless, in context an example of Wilson’s egregiousness. Hurrying to place Wilson in the White House after the the only significant three-way presidential race in American history, Berg takes no breath as he whizzes past the legislative achievements to chronicle Wilson’s courtship of second wife Edith Bolling Galt, to which he devotes ten consecutive pages, more in the aggregate. The importance of Edith Wilson to twentieth century constitutional history cannot be stressed enough, as I’ll reveal later. Berg, the author of biographies on Katherine Hepburn and Maxwell Perkins, lacks the patience and skill and interest to dissect those achievements. He lacks judgment. For better or worse, biographers in the twenty-first century live in a market altered by Robert A. Caro, and a personage the size of Woodrow Wilson, whose enemies included windbags as swollen as Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge, deserves a biographer up to the shades, convex sides, and peculiarities of these people. Cooper’s 2010 biography, by contrast, traces the calibrations of Wilson’s thought as the influence of Louis Brandeis came to bear. A chapter unraveling the (minor) differences between Wilson’s New Freedom and Roosevelt’s New Nationalism flows like a stimulating college lecture. Readers wouldn’t know the importance of Brandeis to Wilson until the Jew-baiting that poisoned his Supreme Court nomination in 1916; to Berg, the nomination of Brandeis is a reminder of Wilson’s courage in nominating a Jew whom scions of the American bar like William Howard Taft and Elihu Root opposed, period (months before Cooper’s tome the most comprehensive biography of Brandeis emerged — a hell of a companion piece. Given reason to hope in 1912, enough blacks voted for Wilson to expect guarantees against lynching. As a thank you, he ordered the Cabinet to purge blacks from the federal payroll. When challenged about segregation, he wrote, “It is as far as possible from being a movement against the Negroes. I think if you were here on the ground you would see, as I seem to see, that it is distinctly to the advantage of the colored people themselves.”
Berg’s fealty to Wilson gets repulsive as submarine activity in the Atlantic compels the president to issue the series of commands that will culminate in the declaration of war delivered to a supine Congress in the spring of 1917. “Whether one agreed with the President or not,” Berg writes about Wilson’s campaigning during the 1918 offyear elections, he “offered a profile in courage.” Reach for the smelling salts. In high school I was taught taught that a heartbroken Wilson got the United States into World War I to make The World Safe For Democracy, a euphemism for ridding Belgium of the Hun. What we’re not told about is what an insufferable prig this man was, what a maladroit reader of men and nations he continued to be, even after a protracted battle with Mexican guerrillas should have demonstrated the folly of U.S. meddling in things about which it knew little. I am indebted to Walter Karp and his essential 1979 The Politics of War, a scabrous and depressing account of how William McKinley and Woodrow Wilson manipulated the public and Congress with appeals to jingoism and America’s destiny. Reading Cooper and Berg, I am not convinced that Wilson wanted war as early as 1915, but the essential fact remains: we declared war on the Central Powers for the sake of a neutrality that we did not ourselves observe. By insisting on the rights of neutrals to sail on belligerent ships, Wilson showed up his own diplomacy as facile and self-serving. It was also meretricious. Despite German apologies and reparations and the acquiescence to demands that would shame a lesser power than the German Empire, Wilson’s bias towards the Allies resulted in maneuvering towards placing his enemies in such a position that war became inevitable. Karp:
Passengers on ships are commonly regarded as being under the jurisdiction of the flag under which they sail. They are also regarded as incurring the risks of their location. Sailing under a British flag was about to become dangerous, but the American government was under no obligation to reduce that danger. It could declare, either tacitly or openly, that Americans who chose to sail under a belligerent’s flag did so at their own personal peril.
War demanded the disobedience of a few thousand Americans whose putatively neutral government allowed them to travel on belligerent, i.e. English, ships. We are not taught these facts in school. This is why we went to war. Whereupon the Allies were guaranteed victory. Thus, the Allies, David T. Wright acidly writes, “disdainfully ignoring Wilson’s comical efforts to act as leader, were able to impose horrific terms upon the Germans in the Treaty of Versailles.” What these terms led to in fifteen years the world would soon learn.
One of the felicitous developments to emerge after Edward Snowden’s purloining of NSA documents is the renewed interest in the Espionage Act of 1917, under which Thomas Drake was charged in 2010 and Chelsea Manning a few months ago. This heinous and anti-constitutional legislation criminalized the procurement of information with the intent “to interfere with he operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies when the United States is at war.” It empowered the postmaster general to impound or refuse to mail publications that he deemed a violation of the act. In France boring to death the likes of Clemanceau and David Lloyd George, Wilson let Attorney General Mitchell Palmer handle what became known as the Red raids, the enforcement of which led to the promotion of a young humorless man named J. Edgar Hoover, thus showing the execrable taint of Wilsonism on generations of American public life; but the president still offered nuggets like this: “Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out.” Only a man of Woodrow Wilson’s exalted conception of himself could use this language. Even George W. Bush held fire.
The ignominy into which Wilson, wracked by a series of strokes, fell so disgusted the country that it turned on Wilsonism and his precious League of Nations. In 1920 Warren Harding won by the largest plurality of any presidential candidate to date. The man who was cheered by millions in Europe – the man they called “Weeel-son” – watched with his one mobile eye as Edith and his sycophant of a doctor Admiral Grayson established what was in essence a regency. So cowed were Cabinet members by the great man that none invoked the Constitution and sought to remove him from office. He accepted the resignation of the hapless Robert Lansing as secretary of state after years of treating him as a well paid clerk. In the waning days of his administration he denied a pardon to onetime presidential rival and socialist Eugene V. Debs, serving a twenty year sentence for violating the Espionage Act (Ernest Freeberg’s Democracy’s Prisoner is essential reading). “Suppose every man in America had taken the same position Debs did,” Wilson said. “We would have lost the war and America would have been destroyed.” Wilson was not one to ever forget a perceived blow to his divine right. We must look to Richard Nixon to find another man with Wilson’s talent for self-delusion and megalomania. Nixon at least looked like a crook. Wilson was a hit with the ladies, was highly libidinous, and could spin noble phrases by the yard. Chicanery abroad demands a noble carapace.
This yawnsome dodderer has become the most aggressive Democratic leader in Congress:
“I would like to suggest that maybe the Republicans aren’t too happy with next year’s sequestration. Who does it hurt, non-defense? I get an extra billion dollars this year compared to [last] year. Defense? They lose $23 billion,” Reid said, referring to the Pentagon. “So I would think there should be some people among the Republicans in the House and Senate who would say we should take a look at that.”
Two in particular, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have been adamant about addressing the effect sequestration is having on the military.
Reid also said that he would make sure to protect Social Security against attempts to trade cuts for sequestration relief, calling such a bargain “a stupid trade.”
“That’s no trade. We are going to affect entitlements so we can increase defense spending? Don’t check me for a vote there. I’m not interested in that,” he said.
“It is the most successful social program in the history of the world. The program is not about to go broke, so take it easy on Social Security,” Reid said.
Let us give Ryan Grim and Sam Stein credit for including context: Grover Norquist’s admission that the acceptance of sequestration means the GOP won; and Barack Obama has hinted he is, shall we say, not unopposed to discussion about cuts to Social Security benefits.
At last Democrats remember their own history. In 2006, months away from a midterm election that would give them impressive majorities in the House and a solid one in the Senate, they helped save George W. Bush’s Medicare D prescription drug bill. The situation was dire:
The headlines in late 2005 and early 2006 tell the tale. The launch of the enrollment period for 43 million seniors to use their new drug benefit to purchase prescription coverage from private insurers was met with stories like “Medicare prescription drug plan stump seniors” (USA Today) and “Officials’ pitch for drug plan meets skeptics” (New York Times). In mid-October 2005, Bush administration officials delayed the launch of their new prescription drug comparison web site for a few days, ostensibly to avoid offending Jewish Americans during Yom Kippur. Almost a month later, the site was still idle, prompting the Washington Post to conclude, “The rollout of the new Medicare drug benefit has been anything but smooth.” Well into 2006, the Bush administration was dogged by stories like “Medicare drug plan still not generating much enthusiasm” and “majority of Americans say drug plan is not working” (Gallup).
But the very rocky start did not spell doom for the Medicare drug program. As Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post explained earlier this year, “Part D was less popular than Obamacare when it launched…”
Worse, it threatened the lives of seniors dependent on those drugs. NPR:
It’s a problem that’s cropping up across the country. Computers are correctly recognizing low-income seniors as being enrolled in Medicare drug plans, but they’re not flagged as low-income — and are being charged the regular prices.
Stephanie Altman, staff attorney with Health and Disability Advocates in Chicago, says that effectively cuts them off from their drugs. “People are walking out of the drugstore in tears, maybe they don’t have a credit card or someone to borrow from, or the pharmacist won’t put it on credit,” she says.
It’s putting pharmacists in a difficult situation, says Tom Clark of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. “The pharmacy personnel are concerned that they may not get correctly reimbursed for the medication. And they may not be able to bill and get reimbursed later, after the medication is dispensed,” he says.
So as the chickenshit wing of the Democratic Party, to quote Charles Pierce, fagbaits the president and calls for the tarring and feathering of Katherine Sebelius, remember: the public will not reward hacks who think yelling louder than the Pathological Party will endear them.
“People vote for the greater good, to keep government working. Then you come back around, and there’s nothing left to give.”
David Weigel on the surprising intransigence of the Democratic caucus:
“It’s based on history,” said Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, a former chair of the House Progressive Caucus. “Every time that we get into these situations, whether it was the grand bargain or the last CR or the debt ceiling, at the end of the day it is all the give on the side of Democrats. I think that pattern is well-documented, and all of us know it. People vote for the greater good, to keep government working. Then you come back around, and there’s nothing left to give. I think we’ve reached the tipping point, with Democrats saying, ‘If you want to bear the responsibility for the crisis you’ve created, then you bear it, and we’re gonna stand firm.’ ”
Some Republicans think they turned the tide, or started to, with the mini-CRs. Democrats think that’s short sighted. It’s easy for the GOP to pass a small bill that “funds our veterans.” What happens if the shutdown drags, and voters start hearing about poor families missing out on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families payments or Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency inspectors going off the clock? Is the GOP going to pass a mini-CR for the EPA? For food stamps?
“We’ve gone from ‘defund Obamacare or else’ to ‘oh, you know, we’ve got some favorite agencies we want to fund,’ ” said Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, who represents Washington suburbs and exurbs that used to be competitive for Republicans. “I don’t think they’re going to be able to frame that with voters. How do they do it? So—for a cheap political ad a year from now, they held the government hostage?”
Democrats don’t worry about that. They worry about a “grand bargain” that would ask them to bail out the GOP again and vote for Social Security cuts. But in 2011, conservatives blew up a deal and spared the Democrats that vote. In 2013, conservatives turned the focus to Obamacare, which the party’s never going to undo.
It’s far from over, though, not when the reliable Robert Costa reported this news yesterday afternoon:
There will be a “mechanism” for revenue-neutral tax reform, ushered by Ryan and Michigan’s Dave Camp, that will encourage deeper congressional talks in the coming year. There will be entitlement-reform proposals, most likely chained CPI and means testing Medicare; there will also be some health-care provisions, such as a repeal of the medical-device tax, which has bipartisan support in both chambers.
Keep standing, guys.
As a journalism instructor and media advisor, I encourage students to speak to as many sides (not two!) as a story has, but the important component is to tell the truth and find corroborative or antagonistic sources, whatever the story demands. If a reporter wrote “Christopher Columbus landed on San Salvador in October 1492, according to World Book Encyclopedia,” he’d be chased out of the newsroom with truncheons.
The truth of what happened Monday night, as almost all political reporters know full well, is that “Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance…”
But the political media’s aversion to doing anything that might be seen as taking sides — combined with its obsession with process — led them to actively obscure the truth in their coverage of the votes. If you did not already know what this was all about, reading the news would not help you understand.
What makes all this more than a journalistic failure is that the press plays a crucial role in our democracy. We count on the press to help create an informed electorate. And perhaps even more important, we rely on the press to hold the powerful accountable.
That requires calling out political leaders when they transgress or fail to meet commonly agreed-upon standards: when they are corrupt, when they deceive, when they break the rules and refuse to govern. Such exposure is the first consequence. When the transgressions are sufficiently grave, what follows should be continued scrutiny, marginalization, contempt and ridicule.
In the current political climate, journalistic false equivalence leads to an insufficiently informed electorate, because the public is not getting an accurate picture of what is going on.
Blame for the government shutdown falls on the GOP. Its caucus, afraid of primary challenges, thinks the Affordable Care Act represents a capitulation to forces as evil as Nazi Germany in 1938 and the men who steered planes into the World Trade Center. Republicans aren’t obfuscating; this is what they have said. False equivalence is dishonest.
From Jonathan Rauch’s essay “Rescuing Compromise”:
Of course, Tea Partiers are hardly the first to argue that compromise has undermined or distorted the Constitution. Barry Goldwater inspired millions (though he alarmed millions more) with his declaration that “moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue” and his claim that much of what the government did was unconstitutional. The antebellum South developed an elaborate ideology holding that any compromise on slavery would sabotage the Constitution, while many abolitionists believed that any compromise that allowed slavery to persist in any form was anathema to America’s constitutional ideals.
The Tea Party, however, stands apart by being strategically focused. Instead of mainly aiming to defeat liberals or moderates in national elections, it aims to defeat conservatives in primary elections — if they have compromised on fiscal matters. In that way, it deters a specific behavior (compromise) rather than merely promoting a general ideology (fiscal conservatism). Although many Tea Partiers would certainly like to build a constructive national majority and hope someday to do so, they are more than willing to begin by building an obstructive congressional minority.
Even those who disapprove of the Tea Party’s goals may grudgingly admire the canniness of its asymmetrical political warfare. A firm anti-compromise minority, if willing to play the spoiler, can exert leverage far disproportionate to its numbers. The Tea Party Republicans have sought to use that leverage to change the basic calculus of compromise in American politics. If Madison’s premise was that politicians don’t compromise because they want to but because they have to, the Tea Party’s premise is that politicians can and should be deterred from compromising even when they want to.
As hard-edged and ideological as Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan could be rhetorically, both were accomplished legislative deal-makers. And both could get away with cutting deals because their conservative base trusted them to bargain in pursuit of conservative goals. For anti-compromisers, by contrast, the very fact that a deal is a deal makes it suspect, never mind who presents it. If the other side would agree to it, after all, something important must have been given away, and that is the kind of horse trading that got us into today’s mess.
But if liberals and conservatives — hell, moderate and conservatives — can’t agree on the terms of the debate, what’s the use? A world in which deficit elimination, pleasing Wall Street, the sequester, and Simpson-Bowles exist is a world in which Reaganism and Clintonism have triumphed; a world in which conservatism has triumphed. Try persuading a Tea Partier, for whom the existence of Social Security and Medicare and someday making illegal immigrants citizens means it’s world he must free from statism.
PS: Dylan Matthews has a laugh over the Beltway obsession with Tip ‘n’ Ronnie:
If your metric for quality governance is “ability to avoid shutdowns,” then Reagan is absolutely the worst president of the modern era. The government shut down eight times under his watch, more than any other president, representing nearly half of all shutdowns that have occurred under the modern budget process. And O’Neill is an even worse speaker, if that’s our criterion. He presided over 12 funding gaps or shutdowns, or almost 71 percent of all shutdowns to date.
I omitted context. Check out the article.
Stanley Kurtz, you are a funny man. To answer the question, “Shall we call Bill de Blasio a socialist?” he lists the following:
1) He is one.
2) He called himself one.
3) There is no evidence of an ideological shift.
4) He supports the Sandinistas who are socialist and admit it.
5) He supports ACORN, Occupy, the New Party, and the Working Families Party, which are socialist and don’t admit it.
6) Honesty is the best policy.
7) American democracy works best when people know what they’re voting for.
1) Calling him socialist may cost him the election: bad for Democrats.
2) Calling him socialist may not cost him the election: even worse for Democrats.
3) Calling people socialist seems rude, especially when they are.
4) Respectable Republicans would rather not seem rude.
5) Obama parallels uncomfortably close.
6) Honesty is not the best policy.
7) American democracy works best when people pretend not to know what they’re voting for.
Conclusion: To risky. Best not.
Kurtz, who wrote a book called Radical in Chief in which he accuses the Wall Street-accosting, natural security state-loving Barack Hussein Obama of concealing radical roots, and the American media of aiding him, must have giggled and smirked as he posted this entry. I’m fairly certain de Blasio is as radical as American leftism allows, and, yes, the blank NYT piece published earlier this week shows his careening in the eighties. Kurtz, however, thinks calling him a socialist would hurt his chances to become New York City mayor. In 2013. We’ll see.
I’m glad Alex Pareene isn’t the only person to find yesterday’s New York Times biography of New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio bizarre and strange: a compendium of Wikipedia-garnered info filtered through the ethos of a Sunday morning talk show. Paragraphs like this:
The involvement of the United States galvanized activists across the country who saw parallels to Vietnam. Tens of thousands of Americans — medical workers, religious volunteers, antiwar activists — flocked to Nicaragua hoping to offset the effects of an economic embargo imposed by the United States. Many were drawn to the idea of creating a new, more egalitarian society. Critics, however, said they were gullible and had romanticized their mission — more interested in undermining the efforts of the Reagan administration than helping the poor.
I daresay the Sandinistas hoodwinked a lot of radicals, and I’m sure an element of the American left supported them because the Reagan (and Carter) administrations gave arms and material to rightist insurgents in Nicaragua and El Salvador; but readers of Joan Didion and Norman Mailer know South Florida had an awful lot of rightist insurgents, much more vocal and financially solvent than mailing groups in Berkeley. Supporters of Roberto D’Aubuisson. Associates of Luis Posada Carrilles. Enthusiasts, now in their seventies and eighties, have no trouble explaining what they did and why. Their Washington abettors are on those talk shows. Meanwhile the NYT recoils from young leftists in beards.
The corporate lackeys at CNBC, adversarial from the start, don’t lay a pinkie on her. She’s calm, rational, and marshals the facts.
It isn’t enough that Miami-Dade prosecutors are investigating the office of my representative Joe Garcia because his former communications director was involved with fraudulent absentee-ballot requests. Garcia’s voting record to date on legislation affecting the financial lives of thousands of his constituents is a disgrace. Consider: one of only four Democratic representatives to vote for the House GOP’s student loan interest bill; one of the twenty-four Democrats to vote for the Farm Bill; and voting against the House Democrat budget, which, of course, had no chance of passing but whose symbolism matters. To be fair, he’s good on the social questions. But didn’t Democrats win an election in which a majority of the electorate preferred Barack Obama’s fiscal policies to the Paul Ryan budget?