Monday, April 21, 2014


What's got the wingers shaking their fists about today? Well, they're not just upset about the fact that President Obama has postponed his decision on the Keystone XL pipeline -- John Hinderaker at Power Line is arguing that opposition to the pipeline among Democrats can be blamed on Tom Steyer, a hedge-fund billionaire and Democratic donor who used to invest a lot in non-green energy until he became "a bitter opponent of fossil fuels, especially coal," a stance that -- how sinister! -- "fits with his current economic interests: banning coal-fired power plants will boost the value of his solar projects."

Over at Fox Nation earlier this morning, the lead item was an epic bit of stupid from James Pinkerton at Breitbart, which envisions, from the perspective of the year 2064, an American "Abundance Revolution" resulting from some sort of revolution launched as backlash to (among other things) the Keystone decision and the Bundy Ranch standoff. On the Bundy situation, according to Pinkerton, the enemy couldn't be clearer:
The first triggering event, now the stuff of lore and legend, was the incident in Bunkerville, Nevada, in which Cliven Bundy, then an anonymous citizen, joined by several hundred supporters, faced down a federal army led by an ally of then-Sen. Harry Reid....

What highlighted the incident further were the comments of Sen. Reid, who referred to Bundy and his allies as "terrorists." That seemed such an excessive reaction that observers grew curious as to why Reid felt so strongly.

Some clues as to the government's behavior were found in an opinion piece on Fox News by Wayne Allyn Root, the future national leader, in which Root asked, "Why is US Senator Harry Reid so concerned with a local Nevada rancher?" Presciently, Root noted that Reid allies were involved in "green energy"" efforts, which required vast tracts of land for solar facilities....

Root’s suspicions were vindicated, as we know, in surprising ways that made Root famous and left Reid's career and reputation in ruins.
And then there's Sharyl Atkisson:
Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson is augmenting her campaign to paint herself as a victim of liberal media bias with conspiratorial and false attacks on Media Matters....

Attkisson [leveled the charge] during an April 20 appearance on CNN's Reliable Sources. After Attkisson claimed that there is a "campaign by those who really want to controversialize the reporting I do," host Brian Stelter asked, "Media Matters has been campaigning against you and saying you've been inaccurate in your reporting, is that what they're doing? They're just trying to controversialize the issue?" Attkisson responded that she had been "targeted" by Media Matters and hinted at a motive, saying, "I don't know if someone paid them to do it or they just took it on their own." After Stelter asked her whether she really believed Media Matters had been paid to target her, she responded, "Perhaps, sure. I think that's what some of these groups do, absolutely."
What's the common thread here? It's that right-wingers are working rto Alinskyize the stories.

Do you know Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals"? You probably don't; I didn't, either, until the rules started to pop up all over the right. Most lefties don't read Alinsky anymore, while the right is obsessed with him. (When I Google "alinsky rules," the first page of results includes pages from,, Matthew Vadum's blog, FrontPage Magazine, and Right Wing News -- and no links from any American lefty group.) One of Alinsky's rules is this:
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
That's what's going on in every story I've cited -- an attempt to personalize the stories.

On Keystone, the enemy isn't environmentalism -- it's Tom Steyer. In the Bundy situation, it isn't the federal government or Bureau of Land Management -- it's Harry Reid. Atkisson's enemy? Media Matters, embodied in (presumably) either David Brock or George Soros, who gave a lot of money to Media Matters in 2010.

Nothing I'm describing is new for the right, of course, but I think it's worth pointing out. Do Alinsky's tactics work? The right sure thinks so -- and maybe they do when the radical message is backed by unlimited funding and is transmitted through a propaganda operation with strong connections to the mainstream press.


Victor said...

How did a young radical like me ever miss Alinsky, back in the day?

Like you, I never even heard of him until the Reich-Wingers started to howl his name.

Unknown said...

Remember that Dick Armey made Alinskys's book required reading for Tea Party organizers. Alinsky was an "organizational genius" according to WF Buckley Jr, and his methods are suitable for any group seeking change. But today the lying and ignorant right attacks itself by pretending Alinsky was a communist...anything to fabricate a smear.

Ralph said...

Didn't James Pinkerton used to be fairly respectable? Now he's writing for Breitbart?

Dark Avenger said...

He was a semi-respectable figure, but, like Barrone after 9/11, he figured there was more money in going after the wingnut perspective than being an intelligent columnist.