Exhuming McCarthy

I just don’t know what it is about Republicans and the 1950′s, but you may rest assured it isn’t the top tax rate of 91%, the high rate of unionization, or even Ike and Mamie.  No, the things they like about the 1950′s are all the things normal people recognize today as, tacky, retrograde, and short-sighted.  Segregation, suburban sprawl, social conformity, DDT, atomic anything, apron-clad housewives, gas guzzlers, and Joe McCarthy; these are the things that, to the admittedly addled Republican mind, made America great.

This weird and selective nostalgia became clear during the dark and equally discredited George W. Bush era, when “the 60′s” became shorthand for everything that went wrong with America to this day.  If only a re-imagined past before darkies, hippies, and broads got so uppity could be somehow restored, everything would be, well, hunky-dory.  Never mind that the reason so many 1950′s notions fell by the wayside was because they had failed so catastrophically; devastating urban riots exposed the racial and class divides that emptied out and impoverished once-prosperous cities, choking smog and rivers catching fire made a mockery of  “progress” that relied on heedless environmental destruction, a futile and bloody war cost 58,000 Americans and countless southeast Asians their lives, and a merciless pogrom against purported domestic “enemies” ruined hundreds of lives and careers while “exposing” a few romantic malcontents whose only crime was once wanting a better world than what was being relentlessly advertised on the TV.

Former war criminal and current fascist nutcase Allen West (R-Florida) is too young and too stupid to have any real grasp of what the McCarthy era was actually like, but he nonetheless embraces it with both pistol-whipping arms.  Forget sock hops, tail fins and Leave it to Beaver;  what makes West long for the age before Aquarius is the sleazy showmanship of a booze-addled lowlife from Wisconsin whose name is synonymous with fear-mongering and character assassination.  Ronald Reagan, who first popularized nostalgia for an airbrushed version of the 50′s, at least did so from the perspective of actually have been there; today’s 50′s fetishists have no such excuse.

If West had two brain cells to rub together, he would realize that his very presence in the House is a product of the racial progress that finally began in the 1960′s, just as the fact that he’s able to live in, much less represent, a suburban district in a Jim Crow state like Florida would have been impossible without the pioneering efforts of, gasp, the Communist Party, which in his idealized mid-century was virtually alone in championing equal rights for black Americans.  Ignorance, in this case, is the opposite of bliss; it’s just ignorance.

But not for West, who proudly told an audibly groaning audience that “78-81″ members of Congress were members of the Communist Party, by which he meant members of the Progressive Caucus.  Forgive him for conflating “progressive” and “communist;” what little he knows he learned from Glenn Beck.  Actual commies, to their credit, were pretty unimpressed, (from Politico:) “I just think it’s an absurd way to cast a shadow over his colleagues. It’s kind of a sad ploy,” Libero Della Piana, a vice-chairman of the national Communist Party, said of the Florida Republican’s charge that about 80 House Democrats were members of the radical party.

Undaunted, a West flunky, which is considerably worse than just a regular flunky, doubled down, not unexpectedly.  He whined to, who else, The Daily Caller:

“One stupid reporter with a local publication misquoted the entire thing, and they all jumped on one press account without verifying,” said West’s campaign manager Tim Edson, referring to the original report in the Palm Beach Post . “It’s all typical West Wing marching orders for their friends in the press.”

Edson continued: “The real point is these people speak for themselves, and if you listen to the words of the Progressive Caucus it’s clear that these people are opponents of capitalism — they oppose free markets, they oppose individual economic freedom — so you can call them whatever you want — whether they’re socialists or Marxists or communists.” To “prove” his point, whatever that could have been, he released the above video, which is anything but exculpatory.

Who, pray tell, are they calling stupid?




  1. West is clearly wrong here. President Obama, whom the Democrats are re-nominating for office in 2012, was endorsed as a member of the Chicago “New Party”. The ‘New Party’ was a political party established by the Democratic Socialists of America (the DSA) to push forth the socialist principles of the DSA by focusing on winnable elections at a local level and spreading the Socialist movement upwards. He also marched with the New Black Panther Party. He was never a part of the Communist Party- West was so wrong.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Although West wasn’t even talking about Obama, but 80 or so members of Congress, you’ve managed to revealingly conflate the two, so I’ll go with that. My first thought is, would that Obama were a little closer to your standard-issue right-wing fantasy. Whatever his previous associations were, he’s sadly gone in the opposite direction, in failing to prosecute Bush’s war crimes and torture, and not only coddling Bush’s favorite banksters, but hiring them. As commies go, his attachment to Goldman Sachs seems a bit, well, off the reservation. Were he even sort of a socialist, his health care bill wouldn’t be the same as Romney’s, and the Bush tax cuts surely wouldn’t have lived on beyond their sneaky, fake expiration date.
      Poverty programs remain frozen in the face of recession-induced poverty, gun rights have expanded even as righty gun nuts lock and load, and pay for federal workers has been frozen for years.
      If you’re worried about Obama being a socialist, either you’re focused on the continuation of the Bush-era assaults on civil liberties, crony capitalism, imperialism, and organized lying that make them both look like Soviet Russia, or you’re illiterate.
      If you’re going to obsess about something, check first if that something exists; it makes better reading.

    • avelna says:

      You call yourself a teacher?? Of what – manufactured ignorance? You and yours are such putzes. If you could get past your rank bigotry, you would realize that Obama is all your wet dreams come true.

      • dirigo says:

        Bill and Melinda Gates are cutting ALEC off from their foundation moolah, proof positive of their commie leanings.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Well, they’ve agreed to cut them off eventually, when the current school-privatization grant runs out. Not something a red diaper baby would likely do….

    • dirigo says:

      Peggy Noonan and Michael Steele are “conservative teachers” too. How fortunate we all are.


  2. mikeinportc says:

    A.C.T., Breitbart and “News”busters? LO-F’n-L ! To quote the MNF guys , C’mon man! That’s more than a bit ….uh… credibility-challenged. ;) You can do better.

    Obama a socialist? :) ))))))))))))))))))
    Crony Capitalism = Socialism ? Nope! ( Of course, if “capitalism” is involved, it must be good, so we have to call it something else. )

    Re West, why do the paranoid true-believers think that all the evil-doers carry cards? I do have an ACLU card, somewhere, but don’t spend a lot of time (any!) carrying it around. Projection? Do they have to show their Wingnut Welfare cards everywhere they go ?

  3. michlib says:

    Allen West makes a nut like Lyndon LaRouche appear cogent and reasonable. I’m sure in the synapse left in Allen’s brain, stand your ground laws could also apply to threatening habib prisoners with a gun, lest they throw a Koran at you and kill you. The bar for admittance to Republic party membership is sub-terranean.
    The right constantly intone on the treachery of compromise with any other world view. But as there is no cure for stupid, there is no ” meeting halfway ” with the crazy. Their position is all or nothing, all the time. Talk about a bridge to nowhere.

  4. [...] Della Piana seems to be saying communists aren’t all that bad, and least they’re not Democrats, or something. But Cocktailhag sees a larger issue here: [...]

  5. avelna says:

    Much as he probably thinks he’s one of those smart, decorative blacks John Derbyshire thinks whities ought to keep around to prove they’re not bigoted, I don’t think West even qualifies for that position. He just ain’t got the smarts.

  6. loretta says:

    Ok, I was inspired. Apologies to Oscar Hammerstein:

    (To the tune of “My Favorite Things” – a late 50s musical known as “The Sound of Music.”)

    Hula-hoops, highways, and flirting at sock-hops,
    Barbie Dolls, Beatniks, and drive-ins, and doo-wop
    Gas-guzzling Cadillacs decked out with wings
    These are a few of my favorite things!

    Meek colored people and strict segregation,
    High heels and high balls and Elvis’ gyration
    Shelters to hide from a Russian attack,
    This is the era we want to take back!

    Poodle-skirts, saddle shoes, gray flannel suit coats
    Housewives that stay in their pearls and make Meatloaf
    Fondue and Jell-O and jugs of Sauterne,
    This is the era I yearn to return!

    Jackson Pollack!
    William Faulkner!
    Norman Vincent Peale,
    If we could erase those unfortunate things
    The 50s would be….ideal!

    • cocktailhag says:

      Hi-larious! You could give Ira Gershwin a run for his money. (I tried to work in aprons and pearls, but it didn’t work out….)

      • loretta says:

        I tried, too, dammit. Nothing rhymes with “apron!”

        • dirigo says:

          No need to worry about aprons and pearls if you work at the Fantasy Maid Service in Lubbbock, Texas, where the “girls” will empty your ashtrays and scrub the tub topless or entirely in the buff. But they don’t put out; so don’t ask.

          Unfortunately, late reports suggest commie regulators in Lubbock are questioning the agency’s permit, proving once again the market will work its magic if left alone, because: everything’s negotiable.

          • avelna says:

            Has Newt offered them a Good Service award yet? It only costs $5000.00 and maybe the commies in Lubbock will take that into consideration.

    • michlib says:

      In the ” you couldn’t make this up ” department – Allen West and family reside in Plantation, Florida. Has he, at long last, no sense of irony ?

    • mikeinportc says:

      *standing O! * :)

      Forgot one thing, though – the historically high ( highest) teen pregnancy rate. ;)

  7. dirigo says:

    Obviously, with the breakup of the North Korean Bright Shining Star rocket, there’s ample proof (if any was needed after 1917) that commies can’t get off the launch pad these days.

    So it’s time to offer North Korea a free market solution to its ballistic missile woes; and Allen West should be designated as chief US negotiator to help unload on these rubes, not only some of our foodstuffs, but also any rusty rocket parts which may be gathering dust in our western deserts, or abandoned New Jersey warehouses.

    Throw in free shipment, including shrink-wrap.

    Actual American know-how as it relates to achieving orbit will of course be a negotiated extra, at every step. That’s how a good ol’ boy makes his money, doncha know.

  8. dirigo says:

    Here’s a good take on why most of this feverish, double-down 21st century right-left paradigm makes no sense any more: because it made no sense in the first place! And what’s handy here is: we can blame it on the French!


    • cocktailhag says:

      I got tripped up by the paywall, but I do like Freedom Fries.

      • dirigo says:

        From the paywalled FT piece …

        “I once wrote a book entitled ‘Left or Right, the Bogus Dilemma”, which was widely discussed but not much read. I remarked that the left-right distinction had its origins in the seating of the French States-General after the 1789 revolution, when the nobility took the place of honour on the king’s right, while the ordinary members of the ‘third estate’ sat on the king’s left. The issues had nothing to do with the embryonic capitalism of the period. In the 19th century the French left were above all else republicans and became closely identified with anti-clericalism and later with opposition to the anti-Semitism that came to the fore in the Dreyfus affair. As a result of such events, the highly bourgeois Parti Radical Socialiste insisted it was on the left until the eve of the second world war.

        “In the UK’s 1923 general election, which brought the first Labour government to office, the main issue was the defence of free trade, on which Labour sided with the Liberals. The association of the left with personal and political freedom, antimilitarism, religious and general civilised values helps explain why as late as the 1940s and 1950s there were merchant bankers in London and Paris who did not regard themselves as on the right. However, the enthusiasm with which socialist parties in 1914 voted for their governments’ war budgets – or later when the ‘socialist’ government of Guy Mollet fought to retain French Algeria – suggests a good deal of wishful thinking.”

        ~~~ snip ~~~

        ” … I become infuriated when those who take a more laisse faire attitude to these questions are described as ‘to the right of Genghis Khan’. And my main grouse against the US ‘Republican Right’ is that it gives competitive capitalism a bad name by associating it with religious intolerance, a chauvinistic foreign policy and a punitive tendency.”

        … from “The Bogus Distinction Between Left
        … By Samuel Brittan
        … Financial Times, 4/13/12

        • cocktailhag says:

          Ah, those FT wretches could show the WSJ a thing or two, futilely.

          • dirigo says:

            The writer (and I’ve detected other, similar references here and there) suggests the genesis of the right-left ideological paradigm began somewhat randomly, sort of like a cloud of crows landing on a power line after a storm, the head crow and his princes and flunkies making lots of noise, jockeying for position.

            In this country, ideology has been distorted and fetishized in nearly complete reverse of how things evolved in Europe, and especially the UK. No wonder they think we’re nuts. We are!

            I’d like to hear one American rightie admit it.

          • cocktailhag says:

            One rightie just did; a guy by the name of Joe Scarborough, believe it or not. Watch the clip in the new post.

          • dirigo says:

            A sure sign Joe’s been in New York too long.

  9. dirigo says:

    And on behalf of a grateful nation, order West to cut a deal to ship all unsold Ayn Rand FICTION to Pyongyang too.


  10. loretta says:


    Ann Romney cannot compete.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That’s what I wrote about last night at FDL; GMTA. Pity poor Ann with her dressage horses, being a stay-at-home(s) mom. She struggled so.