Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Making peace with teabagging Republicans is a fool's errand. They look at the past twenty years of increasing right-wing extremism and say, "Not extreme enough! Give me more nativism, failed laissez-faire economics, tax cuts for the very wealthy, and thunderous anger."
Oh, and trumped-up massive grandstanding investigations:
[W]here, in all of this, are the responsible Republicans, leaders who will stand up and say that some partisans are going too far? Nowhere to be found.It's ironic that the Democrats utterly failed to hold Bush administration to account for its criminal acts, yet the Republicans will no doubt create tempests over nothing to hamstring and bloody President Obama. The wingnuts mean to have a culture war, whether we're fighting or not. It's time we defended ourselves, not by acting like Republicans but by punishing Republicans in the public square for the damage and crimes they do.
What gets lost in all the screaming? The idea that government might be a force for a national interest larger than the sum of all corporations.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Because they do:
"No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don't want it. I don't want them here," Evy Summers said to WTVF. "Go start their own country overseas somewhere. This is a Christian country. It was based on Christianity."The theater of the absurd is opening everywhere:
"[Muslims] are not a religion. They are a political ... group," Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area, told The Associated Press.(h/t Glenn Greenwald at Salon)
Shelton was among several hundred demonstrators who recently wore "Vote for Jesus" T-shirts...
More on Murfreesboro:
"It's a pro-Christian bill," [State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro,] said. "It was established to protect the First Amendment to keep the federal government from coming in and making a decision on whether or not the church qualified or not to be a church."But of course Ketron is qualified to decide that a mosque is not a mosque or Islam is not a religion or the First Amendment doesn't mean what it says.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Remember when Fox and the right-wing media hadn't been out of their basements enough and thought a fist bump was a terrorist gesture?
Well, President Obama did it again, this time on a golf course, well known hang-out of subversives and revolutionaries. The wingnuts must be panicking till their Depends are soaking wet!
What? You mean they aren't? You mean they realize that Fox trumped up nothing into a week of frothing at the mouth? But of course the wingers still think Fox is fair.
It continues to amaze and depress me that this sort of noise machine nonsense extracts no penalty whatsoever from the credibility of the screamers.
Highly pixellated image from Getty Images used under Fair Use as necessary to illustrate this commentary.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
[F]alse belief in weapons of mass-destruction led the United States to a trillion-dollar war. And trust in rising home value as a truism as reliable as a sunrise was a major contributor to the catastrophic collapse of the economy. At its worst extreme, a culture of misinformation can produce something like Iran, which is run by a Holocaust denier.Why aren't members of the "flat-earth wing" of the GOP angry at their propagandists for such bald lies to them? Because they prefer those lies to the real truth.
The question I see in this: Are these wingnuts going to wake up with a wicked bullshit hangover some day soon, or will our nation grow more polarized to the point where they believe they need to prove their favored lies by force?
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Fact-checking is a good thing, right?
Here Factcheck.org calls President Obama a liar (again!). Oh, they use the word whopper so as not to use the political press's bête noire and oh so rude lie. But a synonym, no matter how cutely colloquial, still has to answer for the small matter of its meaning.
Here's the gist of Factcheck.org's report:
President Obama claimed that Republican leaders are pushing to make "privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda".First, there's the little bit of goal-post moving in "total privatization." Republicans seldom advertise their desired end state, but it's clear from their arguments in favor of private accounts that they fully expect the social insurance of Social Security to wither away, leaving our descendants again free to achieve elder penury.
Few if any Republicans now in Congress have ever pushed for total "privatization"....
Only one Republican "leader" is currently pushing publicly for Bush-style private accounts, as part of an overall budget plan. He is Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the senior GOP member of the House Budget Committee. His plan currently has only 13 cosponsors, none of them in the GOP House leadership.
In any case, Obama didn't say 'total'. But that's minor.
No one who has covered politics in Washington for forty years, as the Factcheck writer has, could possibly have missed Republican hostility to Social Security, especially in the past twenty years. But even if he had, a very small amount of googling yields the 2008 Republican Party platform, complete with this on p. 19:
We believe the solution should give workers control over, and a fair return on, their contributions. No changes in the system should adversely affect any current or near-retiree. Comprehensive reform should include the opportunity to freely choose to create your own personal investment accounts which are distinct from and supplemental to the overall Social Security system.While they don't use the word private, they're clearly talking about private accounts, not social insurance. It would be a foolish and glib quibble for Factcheck to claim that private accounts are not privatization. That's the standard Republican framing, but it's nonsense and should never convince a fact-checker.
Still, it's just a party platform. Who gives a damn about those? It's a document for the national conventioneers who aren't sociable enough to get invited to parties to fight over and feel good about hammering rightward.
Right? There are still no Congressional leaders who advocate privatization, right?
I only had to look at one, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-orange pekoe):
Republicans, led by Rep. Paul Ryan, have proposed a better budget solution that curbs spending, creates jobs, cuts taxes, and controls the debt. [emphasis in original]Whoops! By Factcheck's own estimation, Ryan is proposing Social Security privatization, and Boehner is visibly and audibly supporting his budget proposal. Choosing sponsorship of a bill as sole criterion of support in an election year is too obviously wrong-headed to be merely naive. It's either lazy or dishonest.
Obama's "whopper" turns out to be much more accurate than Factcheck's analysis. What's a citizen to do?
Never turn off your bullshit detector. Bullshit is the characteristic of our media age.
So, why can you believe me?
Credibility is earned, not given. Read what I post. Evaluate my evidence. Check my facts. Over time, I'll either gain your credence or not.
That's the point. Exact a penalty from the credibility of those who bullshit you. Brooks Jackson may have a big media pedigree, but he didn't treat Obama fairly here, and he didn't hold Republicans to account. Why would you believe his next "fact" check? I won't.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
There's no possible doubt that many people choose the beliefs they take to be true. Reason, as I'm learning the more I read about neuropsychology (currently, How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer), is only part of the decision to believe.
Often, a very small part. Some believers intentionally push reason aside for a heady brew of reflex, prejudice, and blind faith in received wisdom. Even if that wisdom was only slightly wiser than the violent and tribal surrounding society of 2000 years ago...
Bushists believe that Duhbya went to church a lot, not because it's true but because they know it. Facts - he didn't - and memory - his absence was reported in real time - don't bleedin' enter into it. Duhbya talked about Gawd all the goddamned time - and talked about prayin' and blessings and reading Scripture (capital S, by gum). Flaying his faith like Elmer Gantry, they're sure that he surely must've been sitting in a pew nearly every Sunday, not just Christmas, Easter, and National Prayer Day. Even if their senses should tell them that he wasn't.
Who you gonna believe - faith or your lyin' eyes?
When Duhbya recently met some soldiers at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport on their return home on a two-week break from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other, unspecified billets, one of my Facebook friends, an evangelical Christian, commented about how much the Bushes love our troops. I bit my tongue and didn't ask her for evidence. You can find more of her faithful compatriots among the commenters on the Dallas Morning News site.
There was one previous time that Duhbya greeted returning sailors. Mission accomplished!
But Bush was in office for more than seven years while our troops were in combat in Afghanistan and for nearly six while they were in combat in Iraq, and I don't recall any other time that he greeted them. He never went to greet the fallen in their caskets at Dover AFB (something President Obama had done already ten months ago), and he only went to Walter Reed to see the wounded after the scandal of the grim conditions there broke.
But Duhbya loves him some fighting men (and women).
If you are practiced well at believing in your own personal Jesus and you thank him every time another Vicodin relieves the pain of your kidney stone (Facebook again), you're well prepared to believe that a man who got 4000 Americans killed and many more maimed in a war of choice loves the troops.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Factcheck.org has "debunked" the presence of a mosque in the Pentagon. Muslims pray there, all right, they just do so in a non-denominational "chapel." Well, that does make it sound like something that's comfortably little-c christian, doesn't it? Of course, the ground zero mosque (which is not at ground zero) has also claimed not to be a mosque, rather to be a community center.
The key fact that Factcheck.org raises but fails to compare to rightwing hysteria over Cordoba/Park51 is that Muslims are praying in the exact portion of the Pentagon that had to be reconstructed after the 9/11 attack there. All of them must be triumphalists who are praying for the caliphate to wash infidel America off the face of the earth. Obviously.
Hey, I bet Maj. Nidal Hasan prayed there for the strength to achieve murder in his jihad at Ft. Hood! Call Fox. Let's crank this up. Oh, you mean the Bush administration set this up? Ssssh!
See also Mosqued bawl.
Friday, August 20, 2010
A couple of items you shouldn't miss:
- Stupid American Month - They don't call August the silly season fer nuthin'. Here's a prime example (the book-burning of course, not the interfaith response), though perhaps more bigoted than merely stupid.
- Paul Krugman: "I told you so, again" - It has to be wicked f---ing frustrating to be so right and to have no one in power listen. But at least Krugman is a counterpoint to the raging stoopid at large in the land.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Republicans bullshit their constituents about their real aims because their constituents can't make this sort of connection.
How is a mosque or other Islamic institution being built a couple of blocks from ground zero going to practically affect the great majority of Americans?
Not at all.
Hardly any of us will attend it. Almost none of us will work on the construction. Very, very few of us will even pass by it.
Oh, sure, thanks to their complete lack of perspective and toughness, millions of conservatives will have the bejeebers scared out of them at the mere thought of Muslims praying toward Mecca five times a day. But they're scaring themselves by looking at their own shadows.
For the price of reassuring a bunch of lily-livered chicken littles, we stand to risk our already tattered Bill of Rights to gain, in return, absolutely nothing.
It's the perfect Republican proposal, filled with nothing but sound and fury.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
It's great and all that the last combat brigade is out of Iraq a couple of weeks early, but:
Scatterings of combat troops still await departure, and some 50,000 will stay another year in what is designated as a noncombat role.Even better than careful gradations of Pentagon bureaucratese, American casualties are waaay down in Iraq. It's still important to keep track of the fact that they were actual human beings with names and not just numbers. The most recent and surely not the last was Jamal Rhett, age 24, of Palmyra, NJ.
President Obama kept his promise, rather slowly, to finish up in Iraq. Good for him. But, like many of the better moments of his administration, it's a two cheers moment, not a three cheers moment.
In the end, the neocon Project for a New American Century got what it wanted - a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq. The rest of the rationale for going in was all marketing and bullshit. Now we have permanent bases there, more outposts in the empire the PNAC explicitly wanted to proclaim.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The First Amendment packs a lot of power. On freedom of speech, wingers act as though it says:
Yep, they leave all the content of the free speech clause on the cutting room floor.
Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech.
"Dr." Laura believes her First Amendment rights were "usurped" (removed from the throne like a dingleberry!) because
Because every right wing lunatic has a god-given right to be as ugly as she wanna be on hate radio... And, and, and, they get to say whatever the hell comes into their fevered brains, and no one is allowed to express a contrary opinion.
Sorta the way they view freedom of religion.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Ronald Reagan and Congressional Democrats made a good-faith deal in 1983 to put Social Security on sound fiscal footing in the face of retiring Baby Boomers. Now Republicans and even conservative Democrats want to pretend that the FICA tax increase on all those middle class wage-earners shouldn't help them when they retire. Essentially, they've instead cut taxes on the wealthy too much to still keep our national promise to retirees. Oh, too bad about penury among seniors!
Paul Krugman nails it:
So where do claims of crisis come from? To a large extent they rely on bad-faith accounting. In particular, they rely on an exercise in three-card monte in which the surpluses Social Security has been running for a quarter-century don’t count — because hey, the program doesn’t have any independent existence; it’s just part of the general federal budget — while future Social Security deficits are unacceptable — because hey, the program has to stand on its own.Why is it that so few journalists are clear-eyed enough to notice the obvious bullshit from the right? They can't all be idiots. Hell, I know a few who aren't (as well as at least one who is).
But there's a tremendous herd mentality in the American press. They never know when they might need a job from Rupert Murdoch, after all, so they'd better keep their left-leaning opinions to themselves.
We have a political media in which the conservatives are rewarded for ideological purity and total adherence to every wingnut insanity and the liberals are rewarded for being contrarians - and thus often not liberal at all - whose role is to agree with most of what the conservative ideologues say.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
If you're still naive enough to think that wingnut Republicans aren't obsessed with race, Media Matters does this public service.
Of course, by the mere act of pointing out the Limbaughite racism, I commit what Limbaugh and his reactionary ignoramus mob call reverse racism. Look, you dopes, I don't want to oppress white people, I don't want to oppress males. I am a member of both of those groups.
I just want to call bullshit whenever one of you bigoted gasbags is a bigoted gasbag and then acts all pitifully victimized because I told you you're a bigoted gasbag. Simple enough?
The Massachusetts Republican Party has fielded such a dismally sparse slate of legislative candidates that its partisans can't dream, even mathematically, of gaining a majority in the state House of Representatives. Despite Martha Coakley's obvious vulnerability, the Republicans have no one to run against her.
How could the Republicans miss such an opportunity to make this election truly competitive? The ground is better for Republicans in Massachusetts than it has been in decades:
- The national anger from the right has energized conservatives. (True, the most energized are extreme conservatives, who don't play well in Massachusetts anywhere besides newspaper comment threads and bilious talk radio.)
- Scott Brown won in January, and it wasn't a fluke result of a special election, as turnout was very high.
- The top of the Republican ticket is credible - Charlie Baker is conservative but not insane, though he appears to have less of the common touch than Mitt Romney.
- The GOP should expect to win at least two statewide offices. (Anything less would be a disastrous fumble.)
- Several high profile Democrats have been drummed out of the legislature on the way to indictment and possibly prison, including three straight House Speakers.
- The current House Speaker, Robert DeLeo, though not to my knowledge under investigation, displayed the extent of his power in pushing racinos into the casino bill. Everyone outside the race track owners and employees in his district knows slot parlors are bad public policy, yet his parochial interest trumped the consensus on casinos in a way very embarrassing to Democrats (even though I was glad the whole bill was not enacted).
First, it's not campaign contributions the Republicans lack. They can often outspend Democrats three-to-one, as least for open seats.
They lack candidates because the career path of a legislator is middle class. How is a conservative businessman going to give up $250,000 a year for a $60,000 legislator's salary? Thus, brand new Republican candidates who've never even run for local office cluster at the top of the ballot, where at least they can hope for a U.S. Congressman's low six-figure salary. But it's not an accident that two of the most credible Republican candidates are Karyn Polito and Mary Connaughton. They've both been in campaigns before, locally and regionally. They know how it's done, where it's not clear that Baker does.
It's also not surprising that they're women. Republicans have done a terrible job of recruiting women to run, but women - especially married women out here in the suburbs - may have less economic pressure. Yet when a woman is primed to run statewide, the party fathers intervene (Jane Swift and Mitt Romney), or the party fractures (Kerry Healey and Christy Mihos, though he ran as an independent).
Massachusetts is not nearly as liberal as its national reputation, but it's very Democratic. It's just that the Democrats have liberal and centrist factions, and the Republicans fight over the remnants on the right. Hard to win elections that way, much less enough elections to contribute much to governing.
The Republican "leaders" have chosen instead to stay in control of their rump party and hope to win the governorship. Their alternative would require a move to the center and the recruitment of fewer CEOs and more suburban women. I'm not holding my breath.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
How Republicans consider the needs of ordinary people:
Republicans admire the boldness of Mr. [Paul] Ryan’s vision, even if his proposals are a little too bleak for the campaign trail. “He’s not saying the world’s going to be full of butterscotch sundaes,” is how Jeb Bush described the plan to me recently. “He’s saying: ‘Eat your broccoli. And then maybe you don’t get to eat at all for a few days. You don’t get steak — ever.’ ” [emphasis added]More steak for them! More broccoli too.
Update (8/13): More bullshit purveyed by the big media straight from Ryan to you discerning palate.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
I've long thought that a key source of sectarian peace in Northern Ireland was the economic boom in all of Ireland. This resurgence of violence suggests I was right.
How does this matter for America, other than engaging our sympathy (and possibly, negatively, our sympathies)?
The perennial avarice of the wealthy class in this country for a larger and larger share of the pie leads to privation, and that eventually leads to violence, as it always has. It won't matter whether the maldistributed GDP is bigger if the people have empty stomachs.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Anchor babies take at least twenty-one years:
[U]nder immigration law American citizen children must wait until they are 21 years old to apply for legal residency for their parents. Also, most of the illegal immigrants who have children who are American citizens have not recently arrived.I didn't know these facts until today. Bullshit is winning in America.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Time was when a journalist dissembling about his own recorded words, for heaven's sake, would have fallen into disgrace and out of a job. At the provincial level, that's still true. I'd expect to be sacked for such egregious misbehavior, which, possessing a sense of honor, I'd never imitate.
For the national political press, those days ended during President Clinton's first term. Much of the "mainstream" media now operates by Hollywood rules: Stardom brings big money and freedom from accountability. So long, that is, as one can avoid offending the Soviet-style propaganda apparatus that's arisen on the Republican far right.
But no, "both sides" don't do it. Berated for years about "liberal bias," many otherwise sensible citizens don't understand that for better and worse, the Democrats have nobody like Andrew Breitbart or Glenn Beck.
Race-baiting is Rush Limbaugh's job. It's what he means when he proudly crows that he's not politically correct.
He knows it, his audience knows it, I know it. Only the big media are so conservatively correct that they fail to notice that the man is a professional bigot.
Update (8/14): Opening a new front in racist denialism, "Dr." Laura laces her show with "n*****, n*****, n*****." But she's not a racist, oh no, she's just quoting n--, I mean, black people back to themselves.
Here's a bright line test: If you immediately go on the attack when someone mentions racism, you're most likely a racist. If you think black hypersensitivity is the big problem, you're so self-centered and impervious to everyone else's reality that you'll be in denial of your own racism forever. You probably lack enough of the empathy, which you were supposed to have learned in kindergarten, to apply the golden rule.
The Tax Policy Center finds that the [Paul] Ryan plan would cut taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population in half, giving them 117 percent of the plan’s total tax cuts. That’s not a misprint. Even as it slashed taxes at the top, the plan would raise taxes for 95 percent of the population.Especially if the big media love the latest right-wing purveyor of obvious smelly bullshit.
Republicans don't care about the deficit. I've said it before. I'll say it again.
The GOP cares about lowering taxes on rich people. Everything else is just window dressing and wedge issues, by which they get angry ignorant Teapublicans to do their bidding. While the Republicans and their wealthy clients laugh with self-satisfaction all the way to their bank. And when I say "their bank," I mean the one they own that we taxpayers bailed out.
Look, they're feudalists. They want us in penury and bondage. And they think they have a right to it. A divine right.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Even a hard right-winger thinks the teabaggers are crazy and bigoted and around the bend:
Instead, he remarks, his party turned toward demagoguery. Inglis lists the examples: falsely claiming Obama's health care overhaul included "death panels," raising questions about Obama's birthplace, calling the president a socialist, and maintaining that the Community Reinvestment Act was a major factor of the financial meltdown. "CRA," Inglis says, "has been around for decades. How could it suddenly create this problem? You see how that has other things worked into it?" Racism? "Yes," Inglis says.(h/t metulj on KnoxViews)
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
It was obvious that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was much worse than BP's initial bullshit estimate of 1000 gallons of daily seaweed salad dressing. The Obama administration played along like a lapdog with BP's second self-serving guesstimate of 5000 barrels. The media, in turn, stuck with the official story, despite the evidence of their eyes - and of scientific assessments of reality.
Now we're starting to get the truth: worst accidental oil blowout ever.
The complicity of everyone in power is appalling.
Yet another case of the so-called liberal media bending over backward to pretend that conservatives have a valid argument:
[O]rganizers are working to get individual states to join a compact changing the way they select their own electoral votes — an idea that was first floated several years ago based on the conviction that the Constitution gives states the right to determine how their own electors are chosen. [emphasis added]Reporter Stephanie Ebbert is unwilling to make note of the plain language of the Constitution (Art. II, section 1):
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.The unwillingness to state simple, incontrovertible facts if conservatives dislike those facts is a maddening feature of our senescent big media and an existential threat to our nation.
Unemployment is for the little people:
[A] large part of Congress — large enough to block any action on jobs — cares a lot about taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population, but very little about the plight of Americans who can’t find work.If the American polity were the least bit rational, the unemployed would be marching with pitchforks against their vassals. Krugman says:
[W]hile Americans are indeed angry, their anger is unfocused.Paul is wrong about this. The anger of Americans is focused. It's just focused on the wrong people.
The right answers - sufficient stimulus, direct jobs programs, help for people who are not already millionaires - are almost all liberal answers, and no one in the White House is willing to even make the case against the rigid NO of Republicans and the tepid, captious no of Blue Dawg Democrats.
This is not going to end well.
Before Jimmy Carter bought into the deregulation mania of the 1970s, you could book a round-trip itinerary without making sure that both legs were on the same airline. Here in 2010, I just heard an Expedia ad that touts that as a great new selling point.
Is 35 years long enough to prove that the free market is often not efficient?
Update (8/4): The free market seldom takes this long to discover opportunities such as these to screw us, purely as a result of their market power.
Brief history of the Republican betrayal of one of its founding principles:
Certainly not all Republicans are racists, but the Republican Party deliberately exploited and exacerbated racial tensions for political gain for decades. Those Republicans now being shoved to the party's new margins have no standing to complain. Where were they when they and their party were benefitting from the extremism that now is taking control of their party? Where was their sense of civic duty and basic morality?