Cutting Through The Crap

Friday, September 30, 2011

Values


He likes to shoot guns and do that sexually ambivalent jogging thing, has the undoggiest of dogs? Not a problem.

My concern when watching the above is, what's his definition of "patriot"? I'm pretty sure that, despite a lifetime of hard work, dedication to my patients, paying my taxes without shelters, serving in Vietnam, voting, supporting gay rights and all civil rights, understanding science, agreeing that the earth is billions of years old and is warming at a frightening pace due to human activity, being skeptical about all religions and believing that separation of church and state means exactly that, contributing money to liberal politicians and causes, respecting my neighbors and not parking in their driveways or playing loud music, keeping my lawn mowed, feeding stray cats, writing letters to the editor, criticizing the invasion of Iraq, complaining about most politicians and both political parties, being both glad and frustrated at living in the US, believing in the value of education and the rights of all to obtain it free from religious indoctrination.... it doesn't include me.

It does, however, remind me how much I dislike the word, seeing how it's been used, of late, by such luminaries as Perry and Palin and Bachmann and generally any and all of the RWS™ to carve a line in the flesh of our country. Gimme a definition, okay, and maybe I'll change my mind.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Prediction


Ultimately, the R nominee will be the Mittster (unless Chris Christie gets bought in). Because, even though crazy and clueless are irresistibly appealing to teabaggRs, like the Sirens to Odysseus (which analogy, I recognize, is highly insulting to the poor lost seafarer), in the end the fact that he's the guy who's four feet tall in a land otherwise populated by tiny and silly elves will be dispositive. Not to the teabaggers themselves, of course; they'll cling to whichever of the
no-everything-know-nothing-and-proud-of-it contingent remains standing near the end. And they'll do so forever. But one must assume that between independents (meaning Republicans but embarrassed, of late, to admit it) and the few card-carrying Rs who would like to see their party have at least a chance of prevailing and, maybe even conceivably some day, a return to respectability, there will be enough people to see idiocy for what it is. Could happen. So Mitt, the only one with at least a patina of adulthood, will get the nod by default.

When Romney is the nominee, one hopes that among the forever feckless Democrats there'll be some (of the caliber and capabilities of Elizabeth Warren) who'll get out the message of his obvious lack of convictions on any subject, his abject pandering (his recent promise not to pander being a perfect example), his lies and distortions which are even more offensive than those of Palinbachmannperry because you'd think he might actually know better -- and be able to shoot the fat fish in the small barrel once and for all. And over and over.

Romney is worse than convinctionless, though. He's a deeply cynical liar, amoral, and the inarguable proof of that is his basing his entire campaign on the lie that Obama went around the world apologizing for America. That it's patently false hasn't kept Romney from repeating it daily (nor, naturally, has it kept typical teabaggRs from believing it). But Romney isn't dumb like Perry or insane like Bachmann. He's simply so desperate to be president at any cost including that of his soul that he'll say whatever it takes to whomever will listen. (Here's a much smaller, but no less disingenuous example of his unselfconscious, unrepentant fakery.)

Any shred of respect I might once have had for Mitt Romney, for his handling of the Olympics in Utah, and for his transitory stand for gay rights and the rest of his so-called beliefs that he keelhauled quick as a teabag leaks brown in hot water, has more than disappeared. For making this patently dishonest theme central to his campaign (he titled his book in reference to it, for Moroni's sake!) there's simply no other word than shameful, in a man who demonstrably has no shame.

Which is not to say he won't win. Who among us thinks truth-telling or integrity are considered desirable traits among R candidates?


Monday, September 26, 2011

Only In America


Here's a good article on America's singular denial of anthropogenic climate change, harbored pretty much exclusively within one formerly useful political party. Between the lines, it speaks volumes. Denying the undeniable. Ignoring the obvious. Rejecting science -- and pretty simple science at that: one party, one mindset, whose selfishness and neediness for magical thinking will destroy us all. The extrapolation to just about everything they believe, and how and why they believe it, is more than obvious. For the life of me -- for the life of us all! -- I simply can't fathom the way some people can do it. Some of them are even, by some standards, smart.

If such mental frailty is part of the human condition -- and, in surprisingly many, it surely is -- there must have been some evolutionary benefit at some point, though it's hard to see what it is. Not now, anyway; that much is clear. And it's even harder to figure how, to the extent that it hasn't been dropped from the gene pool, in the so-called civilized world the ability, the need, to ignore reality seems to have congealed solely in the US of A.

I suppose you could speculate that people who immigrated here against all odds had to have had a certain optimism, a type that comes from believing those odds don't apply to them. In that sense, it could only have been a good thing. On the other hand, to succeed after getting here required a sort of mental toughness and creativity that would seem, to me anyway, at odds with rejecting the obvious. The earliest settlers came here for religious freedom, didn't they? People whose need to believe what they wanted to believe in the unprovable magical realm made them willing to risk it all to maintain it. Maybe Republicans are the spawn of that group. Certainly, they claim exclusive rights to the thoughts of the Founding Fathers.

But those weren't the Pilgrims: those were something else entirely. Voracious readers, skeptics, agnostics, among the religious. Jumping on the "I know what (your choice of dead person) would say" bandwagon, I have no doubt that Thos. Jefferson would be a believer in man-made climate change. Ben Franklin. John Adams. These were seekers of truth, rebels against status quo. Science guys.

From such promising beginning, our country has, nearly inexplicably, descended quite suddenly from one of invention, of risk-taking, of horizon-broadening explorers, into one -- at the level of governance, at least; of politics -- of selfish cocooning into the opposite of thinking. Of close-mindedness in the service of maintaining the immediate comfort of religious or religion-like adherence to nonsense. Of choosing such empty-headed dishonest bigoted stupid (or needing to appear stupid to win teabaggR approval) people as the current crop of Republican presidential candidates.

How I wish I could be around when, much too late, they realize what they've done.

[Added: just this morning, I watched this:]



Saturday, September 24, 2011

They Just Can't Help Themselves


Well at least they're consistent. There's nothing Barack Obama can do, not even things they've been calling for themselves, that teabaggRs won't criticize. How much more obvious can it get that Rs have no interest in doing what's right -- have, in fact, interest in doing what's wrong? Their aim is ruin, at all costs, in order -- as their hate-fevered brains see it -- by destroying the country to destroy Obama. To gain power. To do what, one can only wonder. It's crystal clear they can't care less about the fate of average Americans.

(And they love to smear Michele Obama, too.)

Truly: it's no hyperbole to say these are horrible people.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Best They Have To Offer


Far be it from I to point out that from the audience of the party that loves our troops exclusively and unconditionally there came boos for a soldier during last night's debate. Nor would I follow that up by pointing out that none of the candidates condemned it from the stage. (The debate was sponsored by Fox "news," for gods' sake: don't wanna rub up against those guys.)

I would like to mention the flat out lies that fairly flew from the lips of the hopefuls, once again demonstrating that facts simply are of no importance to Republicans; especially those who want to govern this country for which they claim exclusivity in the love department. Starting with the most disconnected:



Perry (and the rest.) Oh, and if this wasn't a lie, it was no less mind-blowing.

And more. More. More.

Hearing Romney repeat the bogus claims of Obama "apologizing" for America is getting old, along with the exceptionalism thing. Or his claim that "Obamacare" puts a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor.

It seems clear that the Republican punditocracy is starting to realize what an idiot Perry is. (What took them so long? Longer than the ten seconds it took anyone with a pair of eyes and ears.) The only question is whether it will matter to teabaggR voters, whose love for him is only exceeded by their love for the one person more idiotic than he (among those, that is, who have a chance at the nomination.) Idiocy, in other words, isn't a bug in the ideal R candidate. It's a feature.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Class


This is one fabulous lady.

By contrast, these are the guys representing the other way of behaving.

And when you're done digesting the fact that teabaggRs are demanding that the Fed refrain from further helping the economy so they can win in 2012, read about this from their favorite candidate, and behold the stunning stupid.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Math


Protecting their wealthy donors (and themselves) with the ferocity of a, well, mamma grizzly, Rs are playing the "class warfare" card like Jonathan Duhamel (no, I couldn't care less about poker; but I've never minded mixing a metaphor or two). Having written about their use of language recently, I kind of like Obama's response to the charge: it's not class warfare. It's math.

Which it is.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lessons Not Learned


[I slapped this together a week ago. Might as well get it off the books.]

Following up on my somewhat unfocused 9/11 post, here's an opinion piece that's pretty compelling, letting neither political party off the hook, while saying some stuff I've also pointed out:

Ten years ago today, 2,996 people were murdered, unleashing a pair of destructive, mutually reinforcing trends. To prove their relevance, terrorists keep trying to attack the United States at home. And the media and politicians react to it with hysteria, running in fear of getting blamed for a successful attack and perpetuating the gigantic, expensive, counterproductive National Security State. As awful as the snuffing of so many souls on 9/11 was, the second trend has often proved more dangerous than the first.

In case you haven’t noticed, hysteria is what the terrorists want. In fact, it’s the only win a decapitated, weakened al-Qaida can get these days. The only hope that these eschatological conspiracy theorists possess for success lies in compelling the U.S. to spend its way into oblivion and pursue ill-conceived wars. That’s how Osama bin Laden transforms from a cave-dwelling psycho into a world-historical figure — not because of what he was, but because of how we reacted to him.

[...]

There is only one kind of terrorism that actually is a major threat: nuclear terrorism. And there, the U.S. has shamefully underreacted. It’s a travesty that there’s unsecured nuclear material in this day and age, and the Obama administration’s efforts to secure it, however incomplete, deserve credit. But notice that’s a problem about unsecured nuke material, not al-Qaida. Lock up the loose nukes — and yes, that’s difficult — and there’s no nuclear terrorism.

[...]

Former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke has an answer. “There’s going to be a terrorist strike some day,” Clarke told Frontline for its “Top Secret America” documentary this week. “And when there is, if you’ve reduced the terrorism budget, the other party, whoever the other party is at the time, is going to say that you were responsible for the terrorist strike because you cut back the budget. And so it’s a very, very risky thing to do.”

The risk, in other words, is a political risk. The culture of fear: It’s a bipartisan race to the bottom. And it’s why the National Security State constructed by the George W. Bush administration has found a diligent steward in President Obama. Asked recently if the post-9/11 security apparatus might diminish soon now that al-Qaida looks weak, Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, replied, “No.”

[...]

It’s much harder to be the one to stand up and say the threat of terrorism is too minor for such expanded surveillance, and the government needs to stop. When libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) made precisely that case, Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) subjected him to cheap, hypocritical demagoguery.

The only way this changes is if citizens change the political incentives for politicians. Two-bit terrorists will always be around, sadly. But when the Harry Reids get major political blow-back for attacking the Rand Pauls, then — and only then — will the 9/11 Era be truly over.

[...]

Only when citizens make it acceptable for politicians to recognize that the threat of terrorism isn’t so significant can the country finally get what it really needs, 10 years later: closure.

The purpose of terrorists is to create terror. They succeeded on 9/11/01, and we've propagated it ever since, beyond their wildest dreams.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Aloha


A bit of a cliché, yes, but we're off to Hawaii to celebrate our fortieth. One would hope I'd not be blogging while there, but you never know.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Country Second (At Best)


To the surprise of no one, Republicans have made it clear they'll not support Obama's jobs bill. Even less surprisingly, they've also made it clear why:

“Obama is on the ropes; why do we appear ready to hand him a win?” said one senior House Republican aide who requested anonymity to discuss the matter freely.
Why, indeed?

Oh, only to help those in need; to repair the damage done by their party over the previous eight years; to get America, the country the love for which they claim exclusive ownership, back on its feet; to care more about country than party; to do what democracy requires of you; to be better than that.

Yeah, right. Helping the economy to recover, in their eyes, means helping Obama. And the last thing they want to do is help Obama. Our country? Fuck it. And fuck you for even thinking about it. If anyone can look at the current Republican party and see anything but naked self-interest and total absence of caring about the needs of the average person, that person is blind or delusional. Or, as others have suggested, the brainwashed victim of a cult, a religious cult, passing as a political party.

These are truly awful people.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering


It's easy to recall the horrification of 9/11 when it happened, the disbelief, the shock, the realization, as I watched, that people were dying, thousands of them. The sense that things had changed, irrevocably, forever.

I was impressed with George Bush with his megaphone at ground zero, supported the action in Afghanistan, noted how quickly the Taliban were vanquished and sensed it would resonate around the Muslim world. And then, as 9/11 became an excuse to push a neoconservative agenda, as it became a way to rescue a presidency already foundering after a mere nine months, it all changed. Iraq happened, torture happened, with us or against us happened, Afghanistan was abandoned, 9/11 became a hammer, a tool for politicization, for mongering fear as political advantage and means. George Bush, and those that followed in his image -- McCain and Palin, all the RWS™ -- turned the potential unity of purpose that nearly emerged after the attacks into divisiveness and hatred among ourselves. If you didn't love the invasion of Iraq, if you didn't love torture and detentions and renditions, if you didn't hate Muslim Americans and their mosques, you hated America. You were soft on terror.

The memory of 9/11 became, like so much else in the right-wing armamentarium, a breeder of disinformation, of propagandization, of blatant manipulation.

Yes, I remember; and like other memorializations of our history, of sacrifice (actual sacrifice, like those who died, who tried to help, who did help) I am moved. But now, I'm also tired. I'm tired of the hypocrisy, of the delusion that stopping for a moment, for leaving a bouquet somewhere, for welling up and moving on, is actually meaningful. Mostly, I feel a sense of being manipulated. Bludgeoned. Never forget, they say. For what? So we'll do what? Invade another country? Declare another liberal to be an America-hater? Watch another political ad use those images to hide an agenda? Ask us to support our troops while doing nothing to support our troops?

I honor those who died on 9/11, those who did so for no reason at all and those who went to the towers on purpose, to save lives. I wonder if I'd have had the guts. After the attack, I know that we still need increased security. I wish "sacrifice" meant something other than going shopping, as George Bush urged after the attack.

And I wish the smarmy memorials, the florid and music-filled TV coverage of the anniversary would stop. Because I see it as phoniness, as too-easy emotions, as rating-grabs, as vote-gets. What we need, in response to 9/11, is not slickly-produced montages. What we need is to remember what democracy is, to realize that what has kept us strong is our diversity, our invention, our willingness to incorporate differing views, to find compromise, and, when necessary, actually to sacrifice, all of the country, as has happened many times in our history but not for a minute after 9/11, other than by our troops; to do without for a while, to help each other when we can, to heave to a common need. In the aftermath of 9/11, the first real attack on American soil, we've come to do the opposite. And it's been deliberate, a political ploy by the most cynical among us, to divide and conquer, to find scapegoats, to distract from the selfish agenda that's really at the heart of their manipulations. They saw 9/11 as opportunity, and they've taken it.

There's another aspect of these memorials, too: it sometimes seems that the more we wallow, the more al Queda and those that support it can admire their work, remember how much damage they did, how it changed us for the worse. Other than the need to acknowledge those who died, I find myself wondering how it'd be if we stopped the memorials altogether.

So, enough already. Enough with the post-9/11 vitriol, the calculated and intentional divisiveness spewing from the right wing screamers. The endless manipulation of emotion by people who actually couldn't care less for the needs of those they're fooling for political gain. Since 9/11/01, our needs are obvious. How about addressing and resolving them, in the spirit that existed for a moment or two back then, now co-opted and turned into the opposite of itself?

______________________________________

[I hadn't read this before I wrote the above. Read it and see why he has a column and I don't.]
______________________________________

Okay, I can be a softie, too. This is a pretty good commercial:



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fait Accompli

[Source]

Well, sure, I know post hoc doesn't necessarily mean propter hoc. There's no doubt, however, that the R plan has always been to damage Obama at all costs, even if it means derailing (no, check that: by means of derailing) the economy. Mitch McConnell has said as much. So have pretty much all of his congressional cronies. And the RWS™. So has the guy to whom I referred in this post.) I'm well aware that job growth is a result of many factors, some of which are minimally affected by government policy. And I've said many times that I thought the stimulus was too small, and too front-loaded, too much made of tax cuts.

Which is exactly what the Rs demanded.

And as states are laying off employees, teachers, police across the land, it's not because they're rolling in dough or are flourishing. Federal monies, at the insistence of Republicans, are drying up. Taxes, at the insistence of Republicans, are drying up. As is spending where it's most needed. You knew it'd happen, and you knew what the RWS™ and Congressional Rs and Fox "news" would then say: see, Obama has failed.

On many days, in many ways, Barack Obama has blown it himself. But I'm not convinced anyone could have stopped the teabaggR agenda, given their intransigence in the House and their unprecedented use of the filibuster in the Senate. If all the reasons aren't clear, if the explanations aren't simple, it's nevertheless the case that Congressional Rs made it clear that they'd be perfectly fine with wrecking the economy to get their way. They got their way, and the economy is wrecked. And they're campaigning as if they had nothing to do with it. It's like this, except without humor or fraternity, with more perversity and purely evil intent. And the only ones laughing are teabaggRs.

What remains to be seen -- anyone taking bets? -- is how they'll respond to Obama's jobs proposal. (And, yes, I think it's pathetic that he's suddenly going all, like, jobs. A little late.) There might be counterproposals; as sure as climate change they'll criticize whatever BHO says. Hell, they're doing it even before they've heard it. And we can be absolutely certain that nothing will get done before the 2012 elections.

Because that would mean putting country first.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Hard Bigotry Of High Dudgeon



So much to say, so little reason...

Rick claims that if your bigotry is supported by a religion, it's not bigotry, definitionally. By that standard, I assume ex-Senator Frothymix also believes that if a Muslim kills his wife for uncovering her face in public, it's not murder.

More interesting, given the wholesale rejection of science by all but one of the Republican presidential cabal, is his dismissal of the findings of studies with a completely off-point claim about membership in a professional society, as a way to reject research without a second or first thought. This affords some insight into the lack of insight that characterizes Republican thinking (as opposed to conservativism, for which, if it still existed as a philosophy in that disaster of a party, I have a lot more respect). It's the sort of thing that makes it impossible to carry on any kind of meaningful conversation with people like Santorum, of whom it now seems there is no other kind on that side of the divide. His is not an argument; it's a deflection --which is probably to give him too much credit for strategy. More correctly, it's idiocy, passing in his mind (and, likely, in those of his audience, the smarty pants girl excepted) for brilliance.

In the video he asserts (on what basis who knows?) gay marriage will destroy us all, and I'm pretty sure he believes it. I mean, all you have to do is look at a state like Massachusetts, where it's been legal for years, and see ... well... never mind.

And there's the point: blind to evidence in front of his face, able to reject it without breaking a sweat, Rick Santorum will never change his mind about same sex marriage. Nor will his constituents; nor will they about any beliefs they hold, unable to distinguish them from reality. Given the sort of non-arguments he considers actual argument, there simply is no way to get though. We see it universally in our politics, on the airwaves, and, when they unskulk, in commenters on this blog. And then there's the comfortable ease with which Rick Perry dismisses evolution and fudges the age of Earth. Or finds ways to replace people who threaten his agenda.

The most perfect exemplification of the Rick Perry/teabagger/Republican party way of thinking (if that's what to call it) is his response to a question about Texas' insistence on abstinence-only education in the face of the highest teen pregnancy rate in the US. It's worth taking the time to view the video, as he claims it works despite the evidence in front of his face. He believes it works, and to him, that's all that matters. Belief. God help us.

The other day I received an email from a peripherally-known college classmate (who claims, among other interesting things, that that classmate is literally dead and his body is now inhabited by an entirely new person, who also has a new [and new-agey] name). The email contained a link to a video in which President Obama admits he was born in Kenya. When I pointed out the obvious chops and edits, and that the "telltale" words are all spoken when you can't see his face, and took the time to include Snopes debunkery, his response was to claim the Snopes article was mere statement of opinion -- despite the fact that it quoted the maker of the video! In the course of several emails, in which he asked why Obama hasn't released his birth certificate or records from Occidental College (he has, and he has), I couldn't get him to see otherwise, and I finally requested that we end the correspondence. There was simply no way in.

How is political discourse even possible when the two sides have literally no commonly-held assumptions; when there's no factual starting point from which to begin discussion; when, for example, there's not even understanding of what science is, let alone what it says? I can understand, and I sympathize with many of the arguments of conservatism. Yes, government is inefficient, and expensive as hell; yes, some regulations can be stifling; sure, when taxes are too high the economy can be ground to a halt. And I suppose it's a legitimate (if heartless and unChristian) argument to make that government has no business providing for the needy (and taking a pretty narrow view of the concept of "promote the general welfare"). But when such arguments are supported with falsehoods, or when facts that call them into question (as did the girl in the video) are simply rejected without legitimate refutation, there's nothing to be done. The concepts of intelligent debate and principled compromise become irrelevant and impossible. One only has to watch debates between evolutionary biologists and creationists to see words literally bouncing off a brick wall, falling into the audience unheard (when the debates are in creationist venues).

I don't claim -- far from it -- that Democrats and liberals are exempt from criticism in this regard. Nor would I assert that science is flawless. But in the former case, examples are individual ones. When a Democrat makes an outrageous statement, it won't be accepted by their mainstream. Not so, Republicans. Against all evidence, they repeat their anti-factual claims and are believed by their credulous congregants. Death panels, reeducation camps, anti-drilling, anti-American, anti-capitalism, doesn't believe America is exceptional. (Who has the time to list all the examples?) In what other instance has a major political party adopted lying and ignorance as central to its policies, has sought constantly to deceive and propagandize its supporters. (Other than, you know, in the Soviet Union, North Korea, Iran...) In what successful democracy could such behavior, and willing acceptance thereof, be par for the course? And how do you deal with it? Obviously, there's no way.

As to science: by definition it's self-correcting.

In my writing this has been a frequent theme, and it's not just opinion. There's science (yes, science, so...) behind the conclusion that conservatives are more apt than liberals to harden their beliefs in the face of facts that disprove them. Among the few remaining thoughtful and open-minded conservatives, there's been and continues much discussion of the concept of epistemic closure as it applies to the view of their party (in which not all of them claim membership any longer, for that very reason.) And it's getting nothing but worse. What a fulmination of fiction fell in South Carolina last night.

I don't see an end to it. The Rovian plan to cultivate the highly religious because of their neediness for simple answers no matter the truth of them has been highly effective. Likewise the advent of non-stop propaganda passing, amazingly, as fair and balanced news (check out the latest example of deliberate Foxian deception). At some critical mass, it becomes like a nuclear (or is it nucular) chain reaction: get 'em on local and state school boards, and education, with its ability to keep open the occasional mind, goes out the window. Bombard people repeatedly with lies and eventually it sounds like truth. It's not Orwellian, because Orwell wrote fiction. This is real, and it seems to have become irreversible.

Lies, as policy. And willing acceptance, with no ability, no desire to question it, in their cultivated and stupefied believers. We've come to a place where the Republican party embraces a parody of thought that's simply no longer compatible with democracy.

Comes the coup de grace: following a tradition of Republican politics that's been present for a couple of centuries, there's now a concerted effort, in levels heretofore unseen, to see to it that the remaining people who might be able to stop the train of lies and misinformation as it runs us off the rails are prevented from voting.

But that's a subject for another post.





Monday, September 5, 2011

From His Lips...


Turns out everything I've ever said about the current state of the Republican party, and everything I likely ever will say, has just been written in one article, by a former career Republican congressional staffer. Read it. And let the denials begin. Here are a few highlights:

....But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

... To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots... But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today...

It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis.

[...]

Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care. ... - the attitude of many freshman Republicans to national default was "bring it on!"

It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult... This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

[...]

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster.

[...]

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

[...]

... Republicans are among the most shrill in self-righteously lecturing other countries about the wonders of democracy... But domestically, they don't want those people voting.

You can probably guess who those people are. Above all, anyone not likely to vote Republican. As Sarah Palin would imply, the people who are not Real Americans. Racial minorities. Immigrants. Muslims. Gays. Intellectuals. Basically, anyone who doesn't look, think, or talk like the GOP base. This must account, at least to some degree, for their extraordinarily vitriolic hatred of President Obama. I have joked in the past that the main administration policy that Republicans object to is Obama's policy of being black.

[...]

While Democrats temporized, or even dismissed the fears of the white working class as racist or nativist, Republicans went to work. ... [T]he faux-populist wing of the party, knowing the mental compartmentalization that occurs in most low-information voters, played on the fears of that same white working class to focus their anger on scapegoats that do no damage to corporations' bottom lines: instead of raising the minimum wage, let's build a wall on the Southern border (then hire a defense contractor to incompetently manage it). Instead of predatory bankers, it's evil Muslims. Or evil gays. Or evil abortionists.

How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? - can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative "Obamacare" won out. Contrast that with the Republicans' Patriot Act. You're a patriot, aren't you?


There's more. A lot more. And it ends with a paragraph that I've written myself, in paraphrase, over and over:

If Republicans have perfected a new form of politics that is successful electorally at the same time that it unleashes major policy disasters, it means twilight both for the democratic process and America's status as the world's leading power.

Forty Years Today



No, it's not my daughter. She's nearly thirty in those pictures. Although she still looks about a decade younger than her age, I most surely do not. So to save Judy the embarrassment of having people know to whom she's stuck all these years, there'll be no current photos.

Sad footnote: we don't have the Caddie anymore.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Missed Opportunity


Today, on Face The Nation, explanation 3.0 from Michele Bachmann for her claim that recent hurricanes and earthquakes are a message from god (a message, one notes, that pretty much wholly missed the city at which she claims he was aiming, while murdering a couple dozen innocents and causing billions in damage):

Schieffer asked Bachmann whether she believes "God uses weather to send people messages."

"I believe in God. I'm not ashamed to say that I believe in God. I'm a woman of faith and a woman of prayer, but the comment that I made right then was a metaphor. That was very simply what I was doing," Bachmann replied.

The followup question is obvious. Sadly, and predictably, it never came:

A metaphor for what, Ms Bachmann. A metaphor for what??