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Finding common ground in limited government: “His lips are moving”

Finding common ground in limited government: “His lips are moving”

Every semester for the past couple of years I’ve been privileged to be a guest speaker at the Ithaca College course on Independent Media conducted by Prof. Jeff Cohen

I get to regale students with stories about Legal Insurrection, some of which are true.  (FTR, all of them are true, or at least based on a true story.)  I’ve posted about it a couple of times.

Jeff is an old line liberal (I think he won’t mind me calling him that, but I guess I’ll find out if I get disinvited) who founded FAIR (a progressive media watch group) and Roots Action.

In a blog post at HuffPo early in July, Jeff wrote How Do You Know When President Obama Is Lying?  MSNBC Won’t Tell You:

I was a young person when I first heard the quip: “How do you know when the President is lying? His lips are moving.” At the time, President Nixon was expanding the war in Vietnam to other countries and deploying the White House “plumbers” to commit crimes against antiwar leakers.

Forty years have passed. Sadly, these days, often when I see President Obama moving his lips, I assume he’s lying.

Like Nixon, our current president is prolonging an endless, borderless and counter-productive war (“on terror”) and waging a parallel war against “national security” leakers that makes the plumbers’ burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office look almost quaint….

When it comes to issues of U.S. militarism and spying, the allegedly “progressive” MSNBC often seems closer to the “official network of the Obama White House” than anything resembling an independent channel. With a few exceptions (especially Chris Hayes), MSNBC has usually reacted to expanded militarism and surveillance by downplaying the abuses or defending them.

Had McCain or Romney defeated Obama and implemented the exact same policies, treating whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden as foreign espionage agents, one would expect MSNBC hosts to be loudly denouncing the Republican abuses of authority.

But with Obama in power, a number of MSNBC talking heads have reacted to the Snowden disclosures like Fox News hosts did when they were in hysterical damage control mode for Bush – complete with ridiculously fact-free claims and national chauvinism that we’ve long come to expect from the “fair & balanced” channel….

The Snowden/NSA story proves once again that — especially on so-called “national security” issues — we need strong, independent media not enmeshed with the corporate/political power structure and not allied with one of the two corporate parties.

We can’t count on MSNBC to heed the lesson taught by legendary independent journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone, after years reporting from Washington: “All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed.”

You know what?  Other than the dig at Fox News, these substantive points just as easily could have been made by Rand Paul or Ted Cruz.

It’s a reflection of what I previously have called, in the context of Rand Paul’s drone filibuster, Finding common ground in limited government.

The common turf isn’t large, but it’s there, if we choose to find it.  But don’t expect the mainstream media to lead the way there.


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legalizehazing | August 12, 2013 at 10:55 am

That’s pretty good. It seems like there’s been more of this from the left lately.

I’d like to think the common ground is bigger than we realize. The whole leftist Monsanto thing isn’t such a far distance from how I feel about all farming subsidies. Nobody wants fat A.D.D. Diabetic kids. For all the noise hippies make about organic food the founder of whole foods is a libertarian.

Even occupy was a breath away from the truth of the disaster that’s hit the middle and lower classes, incessant inflation… Hell, just a couple of days ago Obama announced he was going to reign in Fannie and Freddie for their destructive role in starting this recession. It just takes a little tweaking of the frame and there’s a picture with a lot of voters.

    Radegunda in reply to legalizehazing. | August 12, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I remember when Ted Kennedy was trying to put vitamins and other nutritional supplements behind a prescription barrier. People who probably identified as being on the left were outraged over it, along with people on the right who were outraged by nearly everything done or attempted by Ted Kennedy. I wish I had possessed the courage to ask some of those probably-leftist people what they thought about the larger Kennedy project of controlling people “for their own good.”

      legalizehazing in reply to Radegunda. | August 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Being positive. Looking for common ground.
      There really is more there than you’d think. It just takes a little tweaking of the frame.

      I am hoping because I can’t handle the thought of Hillary

Edit the quote. 3 paragraphs are repeated.

I don’t think there’s any common ground at all. The left and right can agree that there’s a big problem, but that’s the extent of the agreement. The left, being what it is, will insist that the problem of huge, bloated, inefficient, deceptive, cripplingly expensive, unproductive, and oppressive government is … an even bigger and more bloated government. New bureaus will be needed to regulate the old bureaus, more laws will be needed to keep tighter rein on the execution of the old laws, more printing presses will be needed to pretend to pay for it all. It’s a death spiral with no way out; a Borg collective which simply can’t function and can’t even afford its own increasingly extravagant failures. To be a leftist (“old line” or otherwise) is to think that this is all somehow a good thing.

    Valerie in reply to rantbot. | August 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Well, then, you can just sit back and bitch, and see whether you accomplish anything. The big, dirty secret you don’t know is that, in the US, both Liberal and Conservative ideas are part of the solution.

      rantbot in reply to Valerie. | August 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      Your mind-reading abilities need a bit of a tuneup.

      Spiny Norman in reply to Valerie. | August 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      So more of GWB’s “compassionate conservatism”, then, where the “conservative ideas” are brushed aside because special interest groups need to be pandered to? Really?

      Crawford in reply to Valerie. | August 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Given that most of the problems come from leftist statism, I can’t see how any of the solutions will come from them.

I’d have more faith in thinking that we and the progressives share any common turf if they chose to emerge from the slime they wallow in more often than when they notice that the policies they endorse bite them back.

“Limited goverment.” Okay, we’ll remove all street signs. And, take away all stop lights. See? It doesn’t work.

What we’ve got now, instead, is a giant sized Federal government. Because that’s where the jobs are. Those who go to DC, it seems, want to have armies. But not military ones. They want to have “jobs fairs” where they can give away jobs all over the country.

The first attempt with TSA didn’t meet with much rioting. Just people lining up like sheeple. (And, that “gift” came from Dubya, because we had 9/11). Who knew we’d lose our freedoms like watching those collapsing buildings?

This time? The Feds are going after health care. To own it! So as things change, anyway, that changes, too.

And, the WORSE THAN TANEY supreme chief has instituted secret courts. Nice to know he had to “practice law” to come up with that plan!

And, the only reason you now know a thing or two about the secret courts is because of Ed Snowden. Who is safe in Russia. And, all the government workers have left is to spit on his name in public. And, hope that can get people angry over Snowden.

Our government doesn’t give out deserving medals anyway. Or anyhow. But Ophrah just got one.

Nothing left to do but shrug.

DINORightMarie | August 12, 2013 at 11:48 am

The left won’t concede that we have ANY common ground.

Not on this, and certainly not on political policies and economics.

I am surprised this blogger hasn’t been put in his place, yet, by the high and lofty elite who keep such free-minded fellow-travelers in check.

    You are right about the far left, and the ones who like to think of themselves as “radical.”

    However, in the US there is a big, big middle.

    If the White House changes parties and the Senate flips in the next election, it will be because this administration has really made a mess by failing to properly take Conservative ideas into account. In doing so, it has also failed to live up to classical Liberal ideas of fairness, liberty, and justice for all. I believe those values are shared by Conservatives.

“Classical Liberal” and modern “Liberal” have nothing in common. “Progressives” have hijacked that term and turned it into yet another synonym for “Collectivism”. To the modern “Liberal”, individuals have no rights or liberties except as members of designated groups.

Both parties undergo “face lifts” if not exactly “changing postures.”

Plus, the biggest plum would be the 18-34 year old groups. Where anything that would increase their turnout would make a run for any office pretty close to certain.

No. There are no stars!

There are “old timers” in both parties who own tremendous clout. But what if it’s no different than owning the remote in an old age home; where have the people are deaf? And, a good portion of them have Alzheimer’s?

We know how candidates ran when there was nothing but newspapers. And, then came radio. And, TV. We’re past that now. (Which is one reason the “grab” for health care is now so strong. Because it will leave “legacies” in place.) Not just Chelsea, but a whole sea of elites who get their powers from long dead families.

Perhaps, all we’re seeing are races between the Bush’s, the Kennedy’s, The Clinton’s, and the Romney’s? Not particularly any stars there that our “yoots” would applaud.

The good news is that no one can predict the future with any great accuracy. Plus, we know Anthony Weiner ain’t the only weirdo.

We’re a huge country. I’m not so sure we can be taken over by a singular party, like in the old days when AT&T owned everything related to telephones. And, in Academia? The only way it grows is if it kicks out all the old teachings and replaces it with newly minty coin.

Ed Sutherland | August 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm

I doubt MSNBC would consider themselves allies of Republicans. However, the sentiment for common ground is one that’s been long missing in modern political debate. Until we do reach that stage, people will remain in their hermetically-sealed political silos and nothing will be accomplished in this country.

Henry Hawkins | August 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm

The left media’s minimal criticism of the Obama administration comes only after his second and final presidential election, and only after the mask was torn off their pro-Obama/pro-liberal baseline making rehabilitation of credibility necessary. I doubt their sincerity.

As for political compromise, it requires areas of overlap in principles, values, and goals among the parties who would compromise. Just where are the areas of overlap in principles, values, and goals between a conservative and Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, Clinton, etc.?

I prefer legislative stagnation over compromise with any of these people, whose principles, values, and goals are alien to my own. Stalemate is victory when the only federal branch of government not controlled by these people is controlled by the current GOP ‘leadership’.

He describes national chauvinism as if it were a bad thing. It’s not. At each level of organization, e.g. family, community, nation, there is a requirement and responsibility for development of individuals, land, etc. At each level there should be a loyalty and pride in one’s efforts and accomplishments.

That said, perhaps he is referring to a connotation of chauvinism that often engenders arrogance and historically the propagation of totalitarian and even murderous regimes. In which case I agree, but that outcome is not explicit in the expression of chauvinism. The political Right has been misrepresented by this exaggerated or deceptive association.

I.F. Stone “All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed.”

The pot calling the kettle black. Stone was a KGB agent in the 1930s, breaking with Moscow in 1939 over the Hitler-Stalin pact. But that was temporary, and he returned to his pro-Soviet ways. His mendacious book, “The Hidden History of the Korean War” claimed that SK started the war by invading the north. The case against Stone is overwhelming despite the lame excuses his supporters still put forth.

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