Sunday, April 12, 2009

Memo to Steve Benen, et al. (Or How to Deal With a 'Progressive,' If You Must)

Dear Mr. Benen:
In pursuance of the JournoList-approved Meme of the Day, that the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party rallies are not legitimate "grassroots" events, you quote Oliver Willis:
"When people were protesting the Iraq War, they didn't have $500 a plate fundraisers. Then again, they didn't have sponsorship from Fox News, the backing of corporate lobbyists and the attendance of prominent conspiracy theorists like Alan Keyes."
Given that this is self-evidently an ad hominem attack, I will begin by responding with the question: Who is Oliver Willis?
Full Name: Lloyd Oliver Willis, Jr.
Age: 31
Date of Birth: 12/06/77
Place of Birth: Silver Spring, MD
Blogging since: December 2000-present
Work: Web Producer for Media Matters for America.
And, of course, Who is Media Matters? Which is to say that Mr. Willis is a paid, full-time, professional propagandist for his "progressive" cause. It is his job to promote stories favorable to his cause, and to derogate stories unfavorable to his cause. Q.E.D. (And what is your job, Steve Benen? Let us not digress.)

What is the substance of Mr. Willis's accusation here? That the Tea Party movement is illegitimate because:
  • Fox News has given it favorable coverage;
  • Supporters are holding fund-raising dinners;
  • "Corporate lobbyists" are involved; and
  • Former Ambassador Alan Keyes will speak at one of the events.
This set of (non-randomly-selected) facts Oliver Willis contrasts with the protests against the Iraq War which, the reader is intended to assume, were legitimate grassroots events because similar facts did not apply. Which therefore raises the question: Who sponsored the protests against the Iraq War?

Having reported on the Iraq War protests, I know the answer to that question. In fact, I covered the very first major anti-war protest in D.C. after 9/11, the so-called "S29" demonstrations on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2001.

Sponsors of that protest included the International Action Center -- a front for the Marxist splinter Workers World Party -- as well as the Revolutionary Communist Party and its Maoist front group Refuse & Resist, and the Communist Party USA-affiliated Young Communist League, with support of the CPUSA-linked National Lawyers Guild.

Furthermore, I know that the S29 demonstration was actually planned before 9/11. It was organized as a protest against "globalization" during the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings scheduled that weekend. Because of the 9/11 attacks, the commie organizers just switched the topic. So what had been intended as just another commie protest against an international free market (i.e., capitalism) like the notorious 1999 Seattle riot instead became a commie protest against "U.S. imperialism."

All of that was a legitimate "grassroots" movement, per Oliver Willis.

Fuck you, sir.


Robert Stacy McCain

P.S.: I don't know about anyone else, but my participation in the Tax Day Tea Party is not sponsored by Fox News or "corporate lobbyists." As every regular reader knows, my fundraising approach is direct and simple: Hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards! Or else I'll ask you to speak to Gunnery Sgt. Hartman.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Just had to delete a comment by a "Concern Troll." Nice try, Anonymous: "Oh, I'm a loyal reader and you shouldn't be so nasty to other writers. Blah blah blah."

Yeah? Well, guess what, Anonymous? If you were such a loyal reader, you'd know that I routinely punk-smack people that piss me off. Steve Benen has forfeited any claim to respect by shilling for Media Matters while pretending to be an honest broker.

If you arrogant leftoids think I'm so stupid that I can't spot coordinated messaging, and if you think I'm so naive that I can't recognize the "concern troll" tactic, you've got another think coming.

UPDATE 6:40 p.m.: Over at The American Spectator blog, I've added some Cold War historical context to this. One of the problem we have is that relatively few Republican media operatives have ever studied the tactics of Communist subversion, and there is today very little institutional memory about that stuff, especially among younger conservatives.

The fact is that the old CPUSA propaganda methods have never ceased to be used by the Left. Saul Alinsky learned these methods and taught them to a generation of "New Left" activists (although many leaders of the New Left were "Red Diaper babies" who didn't really need to be taught). Groups like Media Matters are merely replicating in up-to-date fashion communication strategies that worked for the Old Left in the 1930s and '40s, and for the New Left in the 1960s and '70s. (The smear campaign against Joe McCarthy was a classic example.)

Consider Kathy Shaidle's shock of recognition when I described the "diamond pattern" tactic by which a handful of Communist operatives could manipulate public meetings. If you've studied the old CPUSA subversion methods, you learn to recognize the repeated use of the same familiar tactics.

Why do you think I'm so angered by "conservatives" who attack Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter? Nothing is more important to the Left than to destroy the prestige of effective conservative leaders. And nothing is more helpful to the Left than "conservatives" who assist them in such efforts, because everyone is more sympathetic to arguments made by their friends.

One of the ways that the Left destroyed McCarthy was by persuading Republicans that McCarthy was a political liability. All it took was for a few liberal Republicans to heed the Left's argument -- so that McCarthy was attacked from within the GOP -- and the Left not only destroyed McCarthy but effectively undermined U.S. anti-subversive investigations for 40 years.

This is not to say that Limbaugh, Coulter or anyone else is above criticism. What it means is that your best defense against being manipulated is to understand that there are people trying to manipulate you. The Left has obvious motives for wanting to smear effective conservative leaders, and they have equally obvious motives for trying to persuade "conservatives" to assist them in their dirty work.

The Left has no moral scruples as to their methods. Their reasoning -- and if you would read The Vision of the Anointed, you might begin to understand this -- is that the "progressive" cause is so intrinsically moral as to justify even the most vile acts committed to advance the cause. (Pol Pot: Progressive Activist!)

The Left understands that the conservative constituency adheres to a bourgeois ethos of Judeo-Christian morality, civility, etc. Thus, any "scandal" or attack that makes a conservative leader or conservative movement appear disreputable by bourgeois standards will have the intended effect of undermining morale and cohesion among the Left's opponents. The Left never heard of a "fair fight," but fairness is intrinsic to bourgeois ethics, and so the Left is always winning battles by employing tactics that would be considered "scandalous" if employed by the Right.

Of course, the Left will cry "red-baiting" and "McCarthyism" when you accuse them in this manner, but if you watch them in operation long enough, and if you understand the history of the Left, you see the continuity from the "Popular Front" of the 1930s and '40s, through the Cold War era, and into the 21st century.

It's not "conspiracy theory" to say that the Left is engaged in coordinated messaging. As the JournoList revelations showed, it's simply a statement of fact. So when you see Steve Benen hyping the same "the Tea Parties are a Murdoch hoax" meme being hyped by Oliver Willis and Jane Hamsher, you don't need to wonder whether they're all singing unison by accident.

And the fact that Left is using these dishonest methods to attack the Tea Party movement should tell you something else: Every conservative should be there on April 15!


UPDATE 7:20 p.m. ET: Note the method: Why is James Dobson "far right"? The objective of the Think Progress propagandist is to imply that Dobson (and other social conservatives) are extremists, part of a fringe movement. This is an invitation to "moderate" or "mainstream" (i.e., respectable) conservatives to jettison social conservatives. This tactic of portraying powerful allies of the Right as disreputable "extremists" is certainly not new, and was used against both Goldwater and Reagan.

UPDATE 7:45 p.m. ET: William Jacobson on Oliver Willis:
Yet another irony lost, a blogger who works for a media organization promoting opposition to a protest movement because the protest movement is promoted by a media organization.
UPDATE 11:20 p.m. ET: Jimmie Bise: "I think I’ve detected a theme here, haven’t you?" Also, a little advice on dealing with trolls.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Excuse me, Anonymous, for doubting your claims of loyal readership. Your mode of argument is a lot more like one of those classic left-wing vermin, the Concern Troll.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. I can tell you that that "extreme" noise works well. The UltraLefty Governor of Wisconsin (Doyle) defeated a solid conservative (Green) with that name-calling a few years back.

  5. DAAAAMN! You, sir, are my new favorite blogger. Don't tell @jimmiebjr I'm 2 timing him.

  6. "Professional" propagandist? I thought I was an amateur! Pretty funny coming from someone who writes for The American Spectator.

  7. "Professional" propagandist? I thought I was an amateur!

    "Professional propagandist" is your job role, Oliver. It's your abilities that are amateur.

    The Peter Principle in action.

  8. Dave beat me to it. Even further, American Spectator at least makes plain their viewpoint, and presents it honestly. Media Matters tries desperately to convince that it is a non-partisan, disinterested media watchdog group. It's nothing more than yet another DNC front group and leftie shill that seeks to hide its affiliations because, if known, they would lose what credibility they have.

    I concur, fuck you, Oliver, and everyone of your ilk trying to destroy this country.

  9. If you want to immobilize Oliver, just load up a bear trap with lasagna. Don't forget to wear your earplugs!