Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
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.
Monday, September 26, 2011
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.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
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.
Friday, September 23, 2011
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.)
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
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.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
[I slapped this together a week ago. Might as well get it off the books.]
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.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
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.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
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.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
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.
Monday, September 5, 2011
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.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
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.
A metaphor for what, Ms Bachmann. A metaphor for what??
My latest newspaper column : Win or lose, Donald Trump has done incalculable damage to America. It can’t be overstated. A disordered eg...
My latest newspaper column : In college, I played Conrad Birdie in a production of Bye Bye Birdie at a neighboring women’s school. Wash...
Here's my next newspaper column, to be published Saturday: I n the age of Trump, having only a weekly column makes it challenging t...
My next newspaper column: After failing to stop even the most conspicuously unsuitable of Trump’s nominees, Democrats clearly have ze...
My upcoming newspaper column: I heard a talk this week by Bryan Stevenson, who grew up amidst the worst sort of racism, became a Harv...