Whiplash!!

Carla Axtman

Today at his blog, Oregonian reporter Jeff Mapes takes a swipe at the DSCC for poking fun at Gordon Smith's uber expensive golf clubs:

Once again, the Democrats are accusing Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., of being wealthy.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has put out a new web video making fun of Smith's oft-reported purchase of four rare golf clubs in 1994 that set him back $1.25 million.

(snip)

Smith's tastes may be a little unusual, but it is his money. It may even be that his antique clubs are as good an investment as a Picasso.

The larger question, I suppose, is whether wealthy people should be allowed in the Senate. And the voters seem to overwhelmingly think that is okay, given that the average senator has over $10 million in assets.

But back in March, Mapes himself made note of the clubs:

Smith has always been a true golf fanatic. He once paid $1.25 million for four really vintage golf clubs - including a putter owned by King James IV in 1504 - and can speak at passionate length about golfing in Scotland, having done so several times.

The March post by Mapes goes on to quote a Golf Digest piece about how lots of GOP senators aren't talking about their golf game because of the Abramoff scandal--and luxury golf junkets to Scotland.

First of all, whether or not Smith has the right to spend a crapton of money on golf clubs isn't in question. The question is whether or not Smith is inherently out-of-touch with the problems and issues for Oregonians...and if the ownership of those kind of luxury items is a symbol of that.

Which Mapes knows, or he wouldn't have been writing about them in March.


Comments

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Please, corrupt Tyco executives were ridiculed for less than this. A $6,000 shower curtain, a $15,000 umbrella stand and a $17,000 traveling toilet box were enough for people to realize these people were out of touch. Heck, paying a hairdresser $400 to come cut his hair at night between fundraisers got Edwards ripped into by the press. Maybe the sheer magnitude of Smith's ridiculous excess temporarily blinded Mapes to the story. "Democrats must just hate capitalism" was all he could see.

  • Mike (unverified)
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    We know that his staff used the Abramoff skybox. Do we know if Smith ever went on a golf trip to Scotland with convicted felon and uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff?

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    Smith should at least build a museum so that people can see King James' putter. I'd kind of like to see a 500 year old golf club -- I'd definitely go look if I was in Pendleton.

    Or maybe he could open his mansion to tours Thursdays and alternate Saturdays, like one of the English gentry.

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    What is Ron Wyden (R-NY)'s net worth these days?

  • Matt (unverified)
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    I completely agree that G. Smith is out of touch and out of his mind, but it has nothing to do with how much money he has or how he spends it. How many Democrats in federal Congress aren't upper-class citizens? Zero? Everyone in Congress is RICH, and if they weren't rich when they got elected, they're rich now.

    Smith is out of touch because people don't share his values. Why is it Democrats can be rich and still look out for people who are not? It's not the money; it's the person.

  • (Show?)

    Everyone in Congress is RICH, and if they weren't rich when they got elected, they're rich now.

    Well, not everyone. In 2006, the bottom end of the scale..

    Rank Name Minimum Net Worth Average Maximum Net Worth 98 Jim DeMint (R-SC) $16,002 $40,501 $65,000 97 Max Baucus (D-Mont) $-71,986 $66,506 $204,999 96 Deborah Ann Stabenow (D-Mich) $66,003 $115,501 $165,000 95 Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) $49,007 $129,503 $210,000 94 John E. Sununu (R-NH) $50,008 $137,504 $225,000 93 Russ Feingold (D-Wis) $101,003 $225,501 $349,999 92 Robert C. Byrd (D-WVa) $130,003 $240,001 $350,000 91 Susan Collins (R-Maine) $145,005 $247,502 $350,000 90 John Cornyn (R-Texas) $108,010 $251,505 $395,000 87 Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga) $152,006 $283,502 $414,999

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    Non Issue.

    Mapes wrote about this not in jest but just in passing, noting that Smith wasn't playing as often.

    We should be careful here, folks. The Obamas put 100,000 in their children's college fund just this year. Barack Obama and his wife pulled in well over a million dollars last year.

    Smith is a wealthy man. He's a collector of rare golf clubs and this is what they cost.

    Let's get rid of this guy on policy, not on silliness.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Paul, the whole point is that it's NOT about wealth. And the fact that the Obamas spent less than a tenth on their children's college fund than what Smith paid for golf clubs doesn't really affect the fact that Smith is out of touch.

  • Matt (unverified)
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    Keri wrote,

    Rank Name Minimum Net Worth Average Maximum Net Worth 98 Jim DeMint (R-SC) $16,002 $40,501 $65,000 97 Max Baucus (D-Mont) $-71,986 $66,506 $204,999 96 Deborah Ann Stabenow (D-Mich) $66,003 $115,501 $165,000 95 Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) $49,007 $129,503 $210,000 94 John E. Sununu (R-NH) $50,008 $137,504 $225,000 93 Russ Feingold (D-Wis) $101,003 $225,501 $349,999 92 Robert C. Byrd (D-WVa) $130,003 $240,001 $350,000 91 Susan Collins (R-Maine) $145,005 $247,502 $350,000 90 John Cornyn (R-Texas) $108,010 $251,505 $395,000 87 Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga) $152,006 $283,502 $414,999

    Yes, not everyone is filthy rich, but these numbers exclude the senators' government salary of $155,100 (not to mention their fantastic health care plan). Since you pulled this from Open Secrets, you might also want to know senators, on average, have assets just over $10 million, and house members have assets, on average, just over $5 million. That's not exactly middle class.

    Gordon Smith has assets of $23 million. Who has more? John Kerry, Herb Kohl, Ed Kennedy, Jay Rockefeller, Diane Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, and Claire McCaskill (in that order). They're all Democrats, but I don't see us posting on here about how they are so out of touch because of the money they make. How does Ron Wyden do? Comes in at a cool $5 million.

    Look, some people come from new money, others old money. But they all get rich pretty quickly. Take Obama. He comes in at a paltry $800,000 from 2006. Now, that's virtually nothing compared to those others, but since he doesn't have to list his salary or his home, that's $800,000 more than virtually all of us had. And just two years earlier, in 2004, he reported $300,000 in assets. That means that, in two years, he magically earned half a million dollars, completely excluding his Senate salary and home. Where did it come from? Well, $1.7 million came from writing books. Not bad.

    Look, I'm glad Obama's the nominee, and I'm glad we have powerful Democrats in the Senate, but using money as a yardstick to determine whether someone in Congress knows what "regular" Americans care about is just silly. These people are loaded, and if they aren't yet, most of them will be. Could they vote for our interests? Sure, but it's not because they're coming home wondering whether they can pay their mortgage or medical bills. It's simply not a valid comparison.

  • (Show?)

    A lot of the folks in Congress like to write books (Sen Obama has what like three? Sen Clinton at least two that come to mind) and best selling books can be very profitable. I don't begrudge anyone for multi-tasking - gotta do something while sitting on the airliners shuttling between here and there - but I hope none of our favorite upstanding Democratic Leaders earned their money the old fashioned way, dipping their beaks into the re-election fund, gifts of value from lobbyists, wives getting cush jobs or seats on the board from powerful pals in industry (in return for great gummint contracts) etc. And i hope all of our least favorite republicans did earn it that way, and are exposed and sent away in disgrace for a long time. And remember, playing golf during a time of war is a one-way ticket straight to hell!

  • johnson789 (unverified)
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    <h1>I hope none of our favorite upstanding Democratic Leaders earned their money the old fashioned way, dipping their beaks into the re-election fund, gifts of value from lobbyists, wives getting crush jobs or seats on the board from powerful pals in industry</h1>

    johnson789

    Dual Diagnosis Dual Diagnosis

  • geoffludt (unverified)
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    Truly boring.

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
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    I'm sure the workers in his frozen food empire bask in the glow of happiness knowing that their Lord and Master has his collection of precious golf club instead of granting their wish of maybe just a few more pennies in salary to be saved for poor Tiny Tim's surgery.

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    Smith is out of touch because people don't share his values. Why is it Democrats can be rich and still look out for people who are not? It's not the money; it's the person.

    That's why Mapes and I aren't writing about Smith's general wealth. We're writing about the ownership of a $1.25 million set of golf clubs. The fact that Smith would drop that kind of scratch on this item says something about who he is and his values.

    Its symbolic of him being out-of-touch.

  • geoffludt (unverified)
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    Are you really defending this sleepy little piece? Perhaps you should take your freedom of speech and move onto the next pseudo-scandal -- the presence of margarine in Smith's refrigerator.

  • Jonathan (unverified)
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    I agree with Matt. This is a losing argument. Even the quote "poor" members of congress shows individual's with a lot more money then middle class americans. We need to focus on the issues, on his pro-elite tax policies and opposition to progressive programs. These attacks are the same attacks Republican's made against Kerry or against Edwards (remember the $400 haircut?) and do nothing to focus on the issues.

  • Bioya (unverified)
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    Of course, Carla and her colleagues at BO aren't really dumb enough to believe a Princeton elitist like Merkley, a guy like Wyden who has ALWAYS put his selfish career ambitions ahead of the people of Oregon, actually identifies with or cares about the rest of us in a respectful, meaningful way. It is because of this kind of BS and the really vapid segment of the Democratic Party here in Oregon it represents that we get unworthy candidates like Merkley, and therefore that we are stuck with disgusting elected officials like Smith. The joke is on those readers who aren't bright enough to have it dawn on them just who much contempt the BO editorialists have for them by putting out the amateurish propagandistic pap that they do.

    By the way, how do people like Obama already turning to be the kind of double-talking sellout many of us warned, even though we felt no choice but to support him as the least worst of three very bad choices once it got down to just him and the other sellout Clinton?

    Obama defends new FISA bill as 'compromise' Constitutional expert: FISA bill 'is an evisceration of the Fourth Amendment'

    Remember, this is the guy weasel-boy Merkley says he identified with when he endorsed Obama with the statement: Merkley: Obama will fight special interests. I couldn't help but chuckle that that very piece was posted by the very same unprincipled flack "carla axtman". And how Obama's venality really IS pretty much of a piece with Jeff's character.

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    Of course, Carla and her colleagues at BO aren't really dumb enough to believe a Princeton elitist like Merkley, a guy like Wyden who has ALWAYS put his selfish career ambitions ahead of the people of Oregon, actually identifies with or cares about the rest of us in a respectful, meaningful way.

    Yeah, everyone knows that only selfish elitists get involved with projects like Habitat For Humanity. What a selfish, disrespectful thing for Merkley to have done!

    Merkley added insult to injury when he went on to start the Walk for Humanity, launch development of the Habitat Home Building Center, and initiate a pilot project for “YouthBuild” in which gang-affected youth learn construction and life skills while building homes in their own neighborhoods. To make matters worse, he served as Director of Housing Development at Human Solutions, where he worked to make available affordable housing complexes and launching Oregon’s first Individual Development Account program that helps low-income families save money to buy homes, attend college, or start businesses.

    Yep... that's the resume of an elitist alright.

    It is because of this kind of BS and the really vapid segment of the Democratic Party here in Oregon it represents that we get unworthy candidates like Merkley, and therefore that we are stuck with disgusting elected officials like Smith.

    Speaking of really vapid BS... I recognize your glib irony as the trademark of a certain small cadre of bitterly angry purity trolls. The only question is which one you are.

    The joke is on those readers who aren't bright enough to have it dawn on them just who much contempt the BO editorialists have for them by putting out the amateurish propagandistic pap that they do.

    The only joke here - and it's not really very funny - is your stunningly obvious contempt for the intelligence of BO readers.

  • Stacy6 (unverified)
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    The $1.25 mil that Smith spent on his fancy toys would buy a hell of a lot of necessities for the average Oregonian struggling with a decade of stagnant wages. In the last decade, Smith's income has risen. The average Oregonian's income and buying power decreased. And that is due in large part to the policies that Smith supports and encourages. It's not that he's out of touch. It's that he just doesn't give a flying f---. The people who vote for him are his useful idiots...his willing serfs, his peons. Feudalism lives.

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    "93 Russ Feingold (D-Wis) $101,003 $225,501 $349,999 92 Robert C. Byrd (D-WVa) $130,003 $240,001 $350,000 91 Susan Collins (R-Maine) $145,005 $247,502 $350,000 90 John Cornyn (R-Texas) $108,010 $251,505 $395,000 87 Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga) $152,006 $283,502 $414,999"

    These people ARE rich. They all earn more than 90-95% of all US households. It kills me to see the phrase "middle class" used on folks like this, and it is done all the time, particularly with respect to the alternative minimum tax. No definition of middle puts you above 80% of the rest of the sample.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Bioya's admittedly angry rant was filled with fact-based argument that BO right-wingers want to ignore. Sounds familiar.

    You may call us names like "purity troll" or "rethug troll", but people like us are concerned with issues that the Reich (including most of the DP "leadership") don't want to speak about, like the current sell-out of constitutional principles and continued funding for slaughter and torture.

    "The U.S. has returned to pre-Magna Carta 'jurisprudence' and not one of us is safe from the arbitrary crimes of the police-empire that has replaced our representative republic..." (Cindy Sheehan, Memorial Service for the 4th Amendment), and you neo-fascist-symps are concerned with golf clubs. All things considered, I'd rather be a troll.

  • Stacy6 (unverified)
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    Harry, maybe you can only concentrate on one issue at a time, but not so the rest of us.

  • Bioya (unverified)
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    Yep... that's the resume of an elitist alright.

    It sure is Kevin. In that typical display of contempt for readers, you think I and they don't understand the difference between that kind of safe "activityism" privileged folks do with the goal of not upsetting the corrupt status quo, and genuine "activisim" which precisely seeks to make society more just by directly confronting the injustice of the status quo.

    Merkley's always been that kind of "leader" we all know who risks nothing and justifies what he does by claiming he's just trying to get to the point he can work from the inside, but never quite seems to get to that point on "the inside" where he's going to upset that status quo because there is always the next step in his career (and campaign donors) he's thinking about. This is the kind of guy, after all, who criticized his opponent of not making nice with DEMOCRATS who have already sold out DEMOCRATIC and American principles, like he always has. It's not much of a stretch to see this as a bald-faced statement that his kind of people and Democrats are exactly the kind of self-serving sellouts he is, and who are right there with Republicans doing what they can to protect their privilege regardless of the violence that does to our country and our values.

    So sorry Kevin, at least here you're providing us with a prime example of a typical Merkley sheeple, complete with meaningless talking points. You're pretty much just like those the BO editorialists criticize on the other side. My criticism has nothing to do with your meaningless accusations about "purity" that are the tired counterattack from elitist circles (and frankly sellout elitist wannabes) who are doing whatever they can to deflect attention and from being exposed for what they really are.

    I think the readers can feel in their gut who has genuine respect for them by giving them the full picture so they can choose, if they want to, to be better informed, rather than shoveling propaganda like you and the BO thread-starters do in an effort to distract them.

    And Stacy6, I don't see in evidence in your juvenile snark of you being capable of concentrating on even one thing.

  • SelenesMom (unverified)
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    I didn't like this ad, although if it works I will respect it -- I don't write ads for a living.

    It seems to me to represent very old-style thinking. Like, circa 1938. Many Oregonians, particularly the ones we are supposedly trying to win over, believe that if someone is rich it is because he deserves to be rich, and that if their kids go to college and work hard, their kids can be rich. And then they can spend $1.5 million on golf clubs, alpacas, a beach house or whatever damn fool thing they want.

  • Stacy6 (unverified)
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    Oooh, Bioya, aren't YOU clever. </sarcasm> Harry (your alter ego perhaps?) starts slinging around names like "neo-fascist-symps" but to you it's others who are "juvenile". I suppose as long as we're not discussing Smith's financial antics while comparing his voting record to his rhetoric, you've achieved your aim. If that's all you have to add, perhaps FreeRepublic.com would be more your speed.

  • LT (unverified)
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    "Many Oregonians, particularly the ones we are supposedly trying to win over, believe that if someone is rich it is because he deserves to be rich, and that if their kids go to college and work hard, their kids can be rich."

    Not sure who those "many Oregonians" are--not the ones I know.

    This should not be the whole campaign, but it is an example of being out of touch. People in some Oregon communities can't sell their homes, are financially stretched due to gas and food prices, and he is buying golf clubs??

    Maybe it should be linked to the question of when he qualifies as "a career politician" in the sense of his Jan. 1996 ad "we're all real tired of career politicians".

    One of my friends has voted for Gordon each time, incl. Jan. 1996. He said he'd consider changing if "he doesn't appear to be the same Gordon we elected in 1996". This is not someone who talks in terms of those who deserve to be rich.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Stacy6 said, "Harry, maybe you can only concentrate on one issue at a time, but not so the rest of us."

    Yes, Stacy6, I do suffer from the intellectual deficit that you noted. I read over my past posts to BO and saw that I do indeed only concentrate on one issue at a time. I will try in the future to concentrate on several issues at the same time, although that is very difficult for me. "The rest of you" must be very smart.

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    Bioya,

    Regarding "genuine 'activisim' which precisely seeks to make society more just by directly confronting the injustice of the status quo," as you put it:

    Care to elucidate? I'm assuming that baiting the benighted here is recreational and that blog commenting doesn't really count as directly confronting injustice.

    Honestly, tell me, what is to be done?

    See, the thing is, as far as I can tell your inferences or imputations about the motives not only of Jeff Merkley but of most of us sheeple around here is based on the ineffectiveness of what they/we do to effect real change that resembles the ideals we voice -- or purport to hold, I suppose, from your point of view. If we keep doing the same thing, and it keeps not working, at some point it must mean that we don't really want that change, right?

    And, believe it or not, that actually does trouble me too. It's been something I've thought about pretty continuously since the conditions of the late 1960s led me to buy my old copy of The Communist Manifesto at the pre-chain bookstore in my middle to upper middle class bedroom suburb of Boston at the premature age of 12, and led the petty bourgeois owners of that bookstore (nice folks) to think it financially worthwhile to carry the Manifesto, and put Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book prominently up front (possibly also to keep an eye on it).

    Not so very long after, after having had time to get over my initial giddy response to the sweep of Marx's prose and my imperfect proto-adolescent grasp of what made his argument so different from anything I'd previously encountered, I began to figure out that it actually didn't do much of anything to go around hectoring my junior high school classmates for being bourgeois, or make me myself any less so.

    I'm embarrassed to think back on how long it took to completely figure that out, though it fits with other social skills problems I had at the time. I think it was a more hippie-counterculture oriented fellow-alienated friend who finally put paid to it, when at some Unitarian youth event for some reason I no longer remember I was quoting Mao Tse Tung (as we wrote then)'s apothegm that "All power grows from the barrel of a gun" at her, and she came back with the requisite line of the Beatles' "Revolution."

    Democrat-baiting here seems to be a somewhat similar kind of activity. Pleasurable and self-satisfying as it may be, could it actually be a form of self-indulgence that doesn't confront injustice, not really, if you think about it deep in the privacy of your own conscience? Just a thought.

    My subsequent trajectory has taken me and my thinking various places on the left, but has kept bumping up something inconvenient. NONE of the approaches in which I engaged, or the groups in which I participated used, or those I observed among situational allies in all the varieties of leftness they espoused, which has pretty much ran the gamut from the DP to anarchist, produced changes in fundamental structural injustice.

    Some of the struggles changed something worth changing or affected something worth affecting, but it wasn't fundamental structural change, except maybe in a creeping and highly contradictory way with the feminist movement and the liberating effects of LGBT struggles (the political structural reform changes of the Civil Rights movement, imperfect as their economic results have been, largely predate my own activism though my parents were involved). And those worthwhile changes almost invariably involved a mix of different kind of politics and actions, including engagements with the formal political system, warts and all.

    So, back to that criterion of genuine authentic intention to create fundamental change and bring social justice: to not continue approaches that have failed. I really can't think of any position or activity on the left that meets that criterion.

    On that criterion, it doesn't matter how confrontational the posture or pose, or how dramatic the theatricality of acts. None of us has succeeded in creating that change. So none of us must really want it, I guess. Including yourself, as far as I can see.

    I think it's the Maoist International Movement that has taken the kind of argument you're advancing furthest to its absurd conclusion, with their view that in effect everyone in the United States is inherently an oppressor, given the structural position of the U.S. in the world. Their argument that their consciousness of that fact somehow exempts them seems, shall we say, unpersuasive, if not actually hilarious. That's especially true given character of their ostensibly revolutionary activities, consisting primarily leaving stacks of anonymously written newspapers scattered in places like health food stores in places like Cambridge, Mass., and now on the web I guess, where I recently had a bout of Cambridge health food store nostalgia when I came across a virtual edition of MIM Notes.

    Anyway, really, please tell me either what you do that constitutes genuine "directly confronting injustice," or what you think I should do that would do the trick.

    I get it that blogging here and any DP work generally don't count. Although I'm not quite sure -- would working to actually elect Dennis Kucinich to something count? Or is it only backing up stuff he says from a platform provided by other not-really-caring folks' dirty hypocritical DP work to get him elected? And should DK give up that platform by quitting the dirty hypocritical DP in order to avoid being a dirty hypocrite, or soiled by cooperation with such creatures?

    And also explain to me, please, how if I "confront injustice" in whatever way, and it fails to work, that calls into question the genuineness of my intention any less than any other failed strategy is held to do?

    <hr/>

    Harry Kershner, some similar set of questions applies to how one might escape being a "crypto-neo-fascist," I think. Possibly the answer is easier because it may simply involve a correct ideological orientation, in either a broad or narrow line sense, without need for it to be effective in practice or produce actual effective actions, for which Bioya's position seems to call.

    BTW the "crypto-neo-fascist" charge seems rather close to the pre-United Front Communist Party of the U.S.A. line on being "objectively Fascist" in the early 1930s. They applied it I think even to fellow-Leninist Trotskyists, but certainly to the social democratic Socialist Party and anyone further right, including the emergent CIO unions. It's also similar in a different way to the "fellow-traveller" accusation mode of red-baiting, turned in the other direction. Neither of those resemblances would make me comfortable, but maybe that's just me.

  • SelenesMom (unverified)
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    LT, not a representative set. But most of the people I grew up with. Admittedly, that was the West Hills and Beaverton in the 70s and 80s, so maybe since then some of them moved to California or changed their minds. I am in touch with a few though, and they still seem to think the same way.

    In any case, I don't think making fun of people for being rich is a winning strategy, since lots of people hope to either improve their own financial situation or to put their kids on the road to a better life.

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    I suppose as long as we're not discussing Smith's financial antics while comparing his voting record to his rhetoric, you've achieved your aim. If that's all you have to add, perhaps FreeRepublic.com would be more your speed.

    Well put.

    I'm endlessly fascinated by how blind the extremist "left" is to just how closely their ethics and tactics mirror the extremist "right" whom they claim to oppose.

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    I think attacking him on the purchase of his golf clubs is a stretch. Let's go after him on issues, his flip-flopping on the war and his record of supporting Bush for the last 7 years.

    We need to remember how badly the last challenger got thumped by Smith and run an insurgent campaign like we are down 20 points.

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    We need to remember how badly the last challenger got thumped by Smith and run an insurgent campaign like we are down 20 points.

    Amen, brother.

  • John Jacob Jingle-Heimmer Schmidt (unverified)
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    I think the point was the Mapes looks like a fool for taking a swipe at the DSCC when he essentially did the same thing last March.

    Too many keystrokes were killed in the making of this thread...

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    I think the point was the Mapes looks like a fool for taking a swipe at the DSCC when he essentially did the same thing last March.

    Ding!

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Kevin said: "I'm endlessly fascinated by how blind the extremist "left" is to just how closely their ethics and tactics mirror the extremist "right" whom they claim to oppose."

    I'm glad to hear you're "endlessly fascinated" by something other than yourself, Kevin. However, I'd like to know just what issue I've brought up on BO that is "extremist 'left'". Impeachment of war criminals? Single-payer healthcare? An end to corporate welfare? Even-handed treatment of Palestinians? The fact is that you right-wing Democrats and right-wing Republicans are far closer to each other than you are to us centrist progressives. The reason we seem to be "far left" is that you are so far to the right.

    Chris L: I also lived in Boston in the '60's and I participated in political activity there prior to being run out of the country by people who sympathized with the crimes against humanity of Johnson and Nixon. I, however, was not then nor am I now a Maoist (although I did steal that book).

    Furthermore, I have never suggested, here or elsewhere, that I had a "correct ideological orientation". I am in the center, if the issues matter. Justice and peace are not an ideology, but corporatism and hegemony are.

    My label of neo-fascist-symp refers to those who sympathize with the policies/candidacies of McBama. You who sympathize as such are now in league with Madelyn Albright, David Boren, Warren Christopher, Lee Hamilton, William Perry, et al. Congratulations on your "progress".

    Your support for the right wing candidacy of Obama places you in disagreement with Bill Moyer (not a Maoist) and Stephen Zunes (also not a Maoist): Background of Obama's Foreign Policy Group.

    Here's what Moyer has to say:

    "...I think people who anticipate real change should feel betrayed. They're being sold this package of 'change' and 'innovation' and what they're getting is a warmed-over Clinton cabinet that does nothing to address fundamental problems haunting U.S. foreign policy, and will do nothing to reform U.S. grand strategy or redirect funds from empire building to building true security."

    And here's what Zunes says:

    "Earlier in his campaign, Obama's senior advisers included some of the more innovative and cutting-edge thinkers from the foreign policy establishment...Now, however, it appears he has surrounded himself with backers of failed foreign policies based upon contempt for international legal norms and military solutions to complex political problems."

    Bioya doesn't appear to need my help, but I do want to call attention to the fact that he (?) was referring to the value of direct action (not an ideology), which gets the goods.

    "You say you want a revolution, we-ell, you know, we're all on our way to the bank." (lyrics in response to the Beatles by Ernie Michaelson, 1969).

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    Harry, You're a bit older than me, I think.

    Of course you've suggested that you have a correct ideological orientation. Anyone who disagrees with you about strategy is wrong, and you're always right.

    You've shown that Bill Moyers says critical things about Obama. So do I, and will say more. You haven't shown that he's opposed to Obama being president. You haven't shown that he equates Obama with John McCain. You haven't shown that he says it doesn't matter which "major" party you vote for. You haven't shown that he intends to vote for someone besides Obama or to sit out the election.

    You say your label neo-fascist-sym applies to those of us who sympathize with "McBama." That of course elides the real distinctions between McCain and Obama even in foreign policy, not to mention those of us who will vote for Obama but don't sympathize at all with a great deal of his foreign policy orientations in particular.

    That's where Kevin's mirror point has a point. The real right-wingers look at centrist (never mind left) liberals in the DP, as well as those who call themselves progressive in a non-DLC way in the DP, and say they/we are all promoting a socialist agenda and often that we're covert communists. Neo-socialist-symps, if you like. It's not true when they do it and it's not true when you do it. As I said, its a labeling tactic with affinities to Stalinist "objectively fascist", to McCarthy-era red-baiting (right down to the "symp" language), and to Reaganite mendacious "definition" of opponents.

    Actually, you're the real neo-fascist-symp because you are working to get John McCain elected, despite having called him pathological. No, not really, it's a ridiculous charge, but in exactly the same way as yours is.

    It's also a political problem if you really want to build a social movement that's capable of bringing pressure on Obama to restrain the worst possibilities of his current positions. It's going to be hard to work with you if you really think that I'm a fascist sympathizer. I'll probably resent and dislike you personally for it, not trust you, and not trust your political judgment. But I suppose it won't be an issue, because presumably you'll refuse to work in any coalition involving crypto-fascist-symps like me. And if you did, doubtless there'd be trust issues for you. An inauspicious basis for solidarity in action.

    And yet you don't know the first thing about my political activism around the issues you raise, outside of the context of what I write here. You don't know what campaigns the non-electoral anti-war movement I work in, whose non-electoral stance I fully support and advocate in the movement, are planning for the coming year. There are plenty of people in that movement who have analyses of the DP that are at least broadly similar to yours, who as a matter of principle won't vote for Democrats. Yet somehow they don't think I'm a fascist sympathizer and think my willingness to do work in that context counts for something.

    And I come back to the fact that it is a correct ideological orientation that you are after. Neither you nor Bioya have answered my simple practical questions about what I and other people should do, in practice. We should not vote for Obama, that much is clear. We should write analyses with which you agree (correct political orientation) apparently. But what else? What constitutes "confronting injustice" in this context? And to what end, in what ways would what you propose be effective?

    In fact I might be willing to do some things you'd propose, I'm often a both-and rather than either-or kind of guy. Some of the things in which I'm part of a larger local movement against the occupation will in fact pose new challenges from what we've done before. I'm not sure that the challenges will be sufficiently theatrical "confrontation" to satisfy you, or at least Bioya.

    But also I wouldn't necessarily restrict myself to those things and would certainly support others. E.g. you mentioned marching with the SPOG's at Pride, and I support their anti-recruiting civil disobedience challenges, and expect to see more of that from other quarters and to support it.

    But you know the engagement with largely D & maybe some R mayors that I wrote about on another column came to me via CodePink. They are tactically and strategically flexible enough to engage and pressure in different ways -- get arrested in Congress, bird-dog candidates, see Mayors' Conference resolutions.

    The Recruiter Watch group in Portland is focused these days on inequities in the choices of high schools on which military recruiters focus, and not, you can guess the pattern, and on getting equal rights for counter-recruitment presence whenever recruiters are in the school. Confronting those policies requires dealing with the school committee. Guess who's on the school committee and what party/ies the belong to? Hint, it's not the International Socialist Organization, much as I respect the anti-war work some of my movement friends in the ISO do.

    Or look at Peace & Justice Works, a key and long-standing anti-imperialist group in town, one of whose leaders repeatedly violated the anti-Iraq sanctions under Clinton and Bush and was prosecuted for it, and who also does police accountability work in town. I don't know if he votes or not, I'm sure he's critical of Democrats.

    But he engages with the structures that need engaging to pursue certain ends. He doesn't go around calling everyone who is a Democrat a fascist-sympathizer ipso fact, and welcomes unity in action in campaigns with people who happen to vote D.

    Your assertion that people must agree with your take on how to respond to the dilemmas posed to us by a plebiscitary oligarchy in which our votes can influence some things but others not so much or else they cannot be "truly" challenging or confronting injustice is just false. It is a non sequitur.

    At this point I feel as if we've engaged in discussions on a number of threads sufficiently that I don't think there's more peruasion to be usefully accomplished by either of us in this context, so I probably won't be responding much in the future to provocations like this. I'll certainly welcome links to critical arguements you think worthwhile, and maybe if we meet non-virtually in some context of common work it will change matters.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Chris: Frankly, I'm surprised by the degree of invective, but I can understand why you don't want to discuss this further. You have largely misrepresented my centrist positions, ignoring the issues that display the lack of "huge difference" between McBama in favor of screeds about my supposed demands for ideological uniformity.

    In answer to your question (I thought it was rhetorical): I don't know what you should do. That's up to you. I think you're making a tactical error in supporting the DP, but that doesn't suggest any particular action. As I told you on more than one occasion, nothing any of us has done has altered the terrible suffering that we Americans have inflicted on much of the world, and we are all responsible for doing something about it. This is part of what I'm doing.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)
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    I covered this issue at WMD way back in March.

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    Harry, you're calling me a neo-fascist symp and you're surprised at the "degree of invective"????

    Man, you don't know what invective is. What I wrote is not invective. It's probably rather defensive in some ways, but it's not invective.

    I can quote this back to you and have it be word perect true of me as well "As I told you on more than one occasion, nothing any of us has done has altered the terrible suffering that we Americans have inflicted on much of the world, and we are all responsible for doing something about it. This is part of what I'm doing."

    You may not agree with the way I'm doing it, but I am doing it, according to my best lights which take into quite great account the areas in which there are not much difference as well as the ones where there are. We evidently derive different conclusions about what might work, but that doesn't mean that I'm ignoring the places of similarity. It means that I'm drawing different conclusions for what they should mean at this moment in the totality of the political choices that I seem to face.

    If you want to say, "I think you're making a tactical error in choosing what you're doing in supporting Obama," we can talk about that. I'd have a genuine interest in what the other tactical possibilities you see are, and why or in what way you think they'd be effective, and why you aren't concerned, or decide to put aside the concerns, that lead me to deciding to vote for Obama this year (but led me to vote for Nader in 1996 and to put genuine effort into building a Labor Party with an independent social and material base for a period in the late 1990s). I'd expect to learn something from such a conversation, and hope you might as well.

    But if I took an action that actually made me into a "neo-fascist symp" -- and symp, sympathizer, involves an assertion of conscious sympathy with fascism here -- which nothing have done or plan to do, including vote for Obama will actually do, it would not be a tactical error, it would be an entire reversal of my actual values, intentions and sympathies. And for you to level that charge is at minimum a statement of the profoundest contempt and actually if I understand your outlook on things probably really is a declaration of enmity.

    Words mean things. Distinctions matter and differences are real. Their significance on different scales varies of goals and within different time frames varies. Same for goals.

    Either you don't know what real fascism is, or you're engaged in verbal bullying. Since I think you probably do know what real fascism is, I conclude that you're engaging in verbal bullying. Which makes the point of continued discussion hard to see.

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    Chris Lowe: Which makes the point of continued discussion hard to see.

    Sniff Chris has finally reached the end of his rope! Quite a trolling accomplishment, Harry.

    Me, personally, I would have cut to the chase literally pages ago, and simply noted the obvious: anyone who uses a phrase like "McBama" is a purity troll. And in this case, is a bitter old boomer, whose inability to grow out of his spoiled-upperclass-Communist trite teenaged alienation, and whose lifetime of sanctimoniously hating and belittling 95% of the rest of humanity, will likely cause him to leave the world without making a single real positive progressive accomplishment.

    Sad, really.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)
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    Steven Maurer,

    You're an idiot.

    Seriously lil' fella, you can't spew a load of hate like that above and then tell others they have a "hate" problem.

    It's called self-awareness. And you've got none,lil' guy, because your comments are as angry and mean as the worst of the worst here. But you don't seem to realize that.

    Of course, my personal favorite is when you told me you had been "playing a game with my comments for six months," and then suggested I need "life" help.

    First of all, the "life help" comment makes me think you been watching to much Dr. Phil.

    Second, you're an idiot whose logic is best left in a program of 1s and 0s, 'cause reality seems little beyond you.

    I'm sure you over the top hate-filled comments (especially on the occasions when they are directed at the poor among us) make Lupita and the Washington County Dems very proud.

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    where does Mapes "take a swipe" at Smith for owning expensive clubs? It says he discussed them as a way of noting Smith's fanaticism about golf. Where does he take a shot at Smith based on his profligacy?

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    where does Mapes "take a swipe" at Smith for owning expensive clubs?

    Actually what Mapes says in total is that Smith doesn't want to talk about golf or golfing trips because of the Abramoff scandal and luxury golf trips associated with it.

    The clubs are part of the swipe on Smith from Mapes in March--which makes it rather disingenuous to beat on the DSCC for going after Smith on it now.

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    so then he's talking about Smith's potential connections to corruption--and not as a sign of his wealth. Which is what Mapes referred to from the DSCC.

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    so then he's talking about Smith's potential connections to corruption--and not as a sign of his wealth. Which is what Mapes referred to from the DSCC.

    Mapes uses the clubs to take a swipe at Smith for possible corruption. The DSCC uses the clubs to take a swipe at Smith for being out-of-touch. Either way, its a use of the clubs as a symbol.

    I'm not sure what's so difficult to understand here...

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    Oh blah blah blah, Pat. I don't hate Harry. I pity him. And you, by the way. There's so much seething bitter anger in you both. You waste so much time thinking you're going to persuade Democrats they're evil by writing long screeds telling them so.

    I can't even laugh at the absurdity. It's just... sad.

    What, are you seeing too much of yourself in what I wrote?

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    What, are you seeing too much of yourself in what I wrote?

    ZING!!!

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    "Mapes uses the clubs to take a swipe at Smith for possible corruption. The DSCC uses the clubs to take a swipe at Smith for being out-of-touch. Either way, its a use of the clubs as a symbol.

    I'm not sure what's so difficult to understand here..."

    Why you'd take Mapes to task for mentioning the DSCC complaining about Smith being wealthy, when Mapes didn't bring it up to note Smith's wealth. There's no explanation as to why Mapes looks like a fool for writing about one angle on the clubs, but criticizing another angle. Can't the corruption angle be legitimate (it is), but the wealth angle not (which many seem to think it isn't)?

  • carla.axtman (unverified)
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    Why you'd take Mapes to task for mentioning the DSCC complaining about Smith being wealthy, when Mapes didn't bring it up to note Smith's wealth.

    Jeezus Mark...

    Mapes went after the DSCC for talking about the clubs in terms of Smith's wealth. But Mapes had previously talked about the expensive clubs and used it as a segue to talk about luxury golf trips and the connection to Abramoff. If it wasn't about the wealth and money--there'd be no reason for Mapes to talk about it in terms of the monetary value.

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    But you just agreed that Mapes brought it up to tie it to Abramoff and corruption. Now you're trying to say he brought it up to note how wealthy Smith is. That's not the case.

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    But you just agreed that Mapes brought it up to tie it to Abramoff and corruption. Now you're trying to say he brought it up to note how wealthy Smith is. That's not the case

    Mapes brought up the clubs in terms of Smith's wealth (the cost of the clubs and luxury golf trips) and then used that to segue into a discussion of corruption/Abramoff.

    The DSCC ad only talks about the clubs and wealth to segue into the idea that Smith is out-of-touch.

    Just because they didn't use the discussion of the clubs to make the same end point doesn't change how they're used by both.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    So, why are so many members of Congress wealthy? Some have used their own money to get elected, but not many. Many have used their connections to lobbyists and wealthy constituents to do good business, but many were already wealthy when they entered Congress. I think it is because the rich, who, after all, own this country and make the important decisions affecting its course, prefer their own kind in Congress taking care of the details. It's something like the capitalist equivalent of tribal allegiance.

    So, talking about Smith's expensive toys might alert a few class-conscious voters to his elitism, but most Americans love rich folk and plan to join them as soon they win the big lottery prize or patent their water-burning carburetor. And rich folks are likely to send Smith a big contribution, because he's such a nice fellow who's being attacked by those declasse Democrats.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Chris L: The events of the past couple weeks, during which Obama and the rest of the DP establishment have moved dramatically to the right on several fronts, provoked my labelling their supporters as "neo-fascist symps". You should understand that continuing to openly support parties and candidates that are clearly this far to the fascist end of the continuum will open you to labels like this. I do indeed know what real fascism is, and I invite you to read what Naomi Wolf has to say about it: Fascist America, in 10 easy steps. Any move by "the party of the left" toward the Reich and away from the progressive center is a move toward fascism, and your and others' denial of this is frightening to those of us who place justice and peace above partisan positioning.

    For the record, I see you as one of the handful of people who often take real progressive positions on BO, and I think it's a shame that your desire for coalition formation apparently makes you think that you have to ally yourself with right-wingers like those who regularly post to BO. (By the way, if your friend about whom you wrote above is DH, I wonder how open you might actually be to coalescing with those whom I most respect.)

    My allies, by the way, include Code Pink, of which my wife is a member, and with which I have participated in many actions, although I have protested their complicity with DP regressives. (I worked for Medea Benjamin when she was a Green candidate for the Senate, and when she was a stalwart Nader supporter.)

    Re Steven Maurer's suggestion that I am "...a bitter old boomer, whose inability to grow out of his spoiled-upperclass-Communist trite teenaged alienation, and whose lifetime of sanctimoniously hating and belittling 95% of the rest of humanity..."

    Steven, I don't understand why you have such fantasies about me. Do you make up life histories for all your enemies? For your information, I was born into a (lower) working class family that boasted not even a single college graduate. I never have read Marx in any depth. (I see nothing in our society that I would call "capitalism", at least not in the sense that Adam Smith talked about.) I am a retired working class nurse (LPN), and most of my friends are working class. One thing you got right: I am old, too old to continue to be fooled by right-wing propaganda.

    Hunter S. Thompson was once asked by a journalist, "Why are you so angry?" He responded, "There's plenty to be angry about."

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    Harry,

    Any move to the right is a move "toward fascism" in the trivial sense that fascism defines the extreme end of the right. Not every move to the right is a move close to fascism.

    Call me deluded, mistaken in my analysis, I don't care. We can talk about that. We can talk about whether misapplying the word fascist as I think you do is merely pointing out a trend pointing to a worrisome possibility, or obstrcucting clear analysis.

    I was a lot more worried about fascism in the 1990s when the right wing movement was asendant in the formal electoral system, when armed, openly white supremacist militias were organizing, and a great deal of what the media (though not you) would call "the center" were looking to a Bonapartist authoritarian man-on-a-horse solution (Ross Perot). Naomi Klein is smart, but I think for myself.

    Anyway, call me mistaken, even deluded, mox nix. Call me a sympathizer, I do mind. It's an assertion, and a false one, about my intentions, and it's an obstruction.

    As I've said, I do or have done different kinds of politics, involving various alliances. At present one piece does involve something initiated by the person whom I think you mean, for whose personal integrity and willingness to put himself on the line I have great respect, though please understand that I am not claiming any close relationship to him.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Chris: I love Naomi Klein, but it's N. Wolf's piece that I recommended above.

    We can debate about whether or not it was worse in the '90's, but it's hard to mount a convincing argument that recent capitulations by the DP are not supportive of the fascist right (I accept that you, personally, do not support the fascist right).

    The duopoly wants to create the illusion of a constitutional democracy, but we are under the domination of a "unitary executive", which will pass to the next administration. (I am not a "conspiracy theorist" about this; I don't expect Bush/Cheney to call off the election - they don't need to do this, because the DP is their junior partner.)

    I recently borrowed a video from the library of the British satirical group, Beyond the Fringe, from 1963. They were explaining the American political system to a British audience. Dudley Moore said, "The Americans have borrowed our English two-party system. They have the Republican Party, which is like our Conservatives, and they have the Democratic Party, which is like our Conservatives."

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    Sorry, I keep having trouble with the idea that Naomi Wolf would write anything worth reading. I'm not saying she hasn't, it's just that she started out so badly.

    You're right about the "unitary executive," that is a new development.

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