Monday, January 31, 2011

The weep in review

The only way you'll get the tears of John Boehner (R-lacrimose) off his face is to pry them from his cold, dead hanky.  (Note to morons: I'm snarking an NRA bumpersticker.)

Boehner says he's just emotional about the problems facing America.  I wonder whether he's a depressive in need of help, if he's taking something that makes him emotional, if he can't take the strain.

This is yet another way you know that there is no liberal counterbalance to the right-wing media:  If a Democrat ever wept in public as frequently or as copiously as Boehner - or even once and just a little (paging Edmund Muskie) - his career would be over.

And if a woman cried - or just choked up a tiny little bit (Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi) - the wingnut bullshit distribution network (WBDN) would circulate it forever as a sign of weakness and a reason to mock her.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Crash and burn

Click image for full Mike Keefe/Denver Post cartoon.

Recurring Republican nightmare

Wikipedian Protester

"What does it mean!?!?!" --Sarah Palin

Click image for full-size xkcd cartoon.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bent past breaking

There is no campaign finance law that Republicans will not breach, including the Hatch Act:

According to PowerPoint slides the investigators collected, the briefings highlighted the importance of the "G.O.P. ground game" and talked about the "Republican Offensive," in certain states, while detailing the "Republican Defense" in others.

The investigators also found evidence that the Bush White House improperly classified travel by senior officials as official government business, "when it was, in fact, political," and the costs associated with this travel were never reimbursed.
This was all well known pretty close to real time, but now it appears unlikely that there will be any legal consequences.
 A spokesman for the Office of Special Counsel said Monday that because the administration officials had left office, it no longer has jurisdiction to file any charges. It also said that it had not made a formal referral to the Justice Department to ask it to pursue any possible charges.
A Justice Department official on Monday declined to comment when asked if it might file charges based on the report.
Yet another law gutted by being ignored at the highest levels! You thought we had a government of laws?

The New York Times is happy to imply equivalence without any report or evidence of similar behavior, because in modern journalism it's not allowed to distinguish motes from logs if the logs are in Republican eyes.
The Obama administration, just last week, announced that it was terminating its own version of the Office of Political Affairs, as Mr. Obama decided to move his re-election campaign operation to Chicago, with the duties of the political office being taken up by the Democratic National Committee.
Why would Karl Rove be afraid of being frog-marched?

I don't recall any consequences

The problem with Democrats is that they will sit still for Alberto Gonzales to treat them like idiots, to lie and obstruct like this, and they won't then dial up the then-President and tell him, "Good luck getting any more nominees through the Senate for any position until you fire that asshole."

Of course, that problem continues with the tiny parliamentary reforms now before the Senate.

The long dirt nap

What to hope for in Egypt?

The American media appeases its audience with just-so stories that make it appear everything could turn out, like, totally cool and schweet.

Friday’s protests were the largest and most diverse yet, including young and old, women with Louis Vuitton bags and men in galabeyas, factory workers and film stars.
Freedom-loving patriots of all stripes and walks of life!  They undoubtedly hope for freedom, free markets, and a life of peace seeking rapprochement with all other nations and religions.  It's the dawning of a new day.

This is the New York Times, so they follow up with a little un-Disneyfied reporting:
Street battles unfolded throughout the day Friday, as hundreds of thousands of people streamed out of mosques after noon prayers on Friday in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities around the country.
Something tells me that they're not going to have to suffer the outrageous wall of separation between church mosque and state.  Oh, snap!  If only Southern Baptists would riot just a little...

A dictator like Hosni Mubarak is like a loan from the mob.  The vig is tough to pay in the best of times.  Sometimes it might even be worth it.  But when the loan is past due, someone's going to start losing fingers.

It's hard not to sympathize with the heady feeling of Egyptians, who are no longer too afraid to shout what they want, who have reached the point where they can boil over and they know that Mubarak can't liquidate them all.  Realists on this side of the world should remember how an organic revolution worked out in Iran under similar circumstances.

All the Muslim Brotherhood has to do to topple the government might be to assassinate Mohamed ElBaradei and make it look like the secret service's work.  He's the great Western hope, a man who has worked for peace.  But radicals know - witness the Bolsheviks - that killing or marginalizing the moderates to polarize the country is a path to decisive victory over a weakened foe.  Or maybe they'll capture our embassy.  That works too.

It's no coincidence that Teapublicans in the U.S. now think Orrin Hatch is not conservative enough.  The GOP has been marginalizing anyone who ever had a moderate thought - or even listened to a moderate expression.

Media whore Wolf Blitzer

CNN has always been about placing product.  The teabaggers just offer a particularly dangerous and worthless product.  They must pay their bills, though, which is plenty good enough for CNN.

There are of course product placements everywhere.  I was idly watching a repeat of "Bones" tonight, and there's Angela bragging how great her minivan is for hauling an artist's gear - normal enough, but she pointedly gives its name (which I decline to repeat).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Anyone still in denial?

The vast right-wing conspiracy is having a meeting.  The likes of us are not invited.

These people believe in the divine right of wealth.  As far as they're concerned, the Magna Carta should have been enough.  It secured the interests of the aristocracy against the king.  They have no interest in democracy, no belief in any kind of democracy that's not dollar-denominated (or euro-denominated or renminbi-denominated), so they're perfectly happy to demagogue any issue or competitor they need to demagogue to keep their power.

Yet the wingnuts demonize George Soros.  Because they've drunk the kool-aid till they're red in the face.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cranks and malcontents

Click image for full Jen Sorensen/C-VILLE Weekly cartoon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Which side are you on?

Tax cuts for the wealthy - that don't change their living standards - or Social Security to protect the much less well-off and still deserving elderly?  Take your pick.

Republicans choose Paris Hilton.  I choose Granny.  Still waiting to see which President Obama chooses.

The lady doth protest too much

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Epic fail on the Goebbels network.  Godwin's Law repealed for its protection of arrogant propagandist assholes like Megyn Kelly.

Public trust

Clarence Thomas evaded filing requirements about his family's income sources.  The filings provide transparency in government to us citizens.  Abe Fortas had outside income too - but prior to the disclosure law, enacted in 1978 - and he was hounded from the Supreme Court even though he recused himself from related cases. 

Who hounded him?  Conservatives who didn't like his liberalism on the Bill of Rights and indigent defendants.

I don't hear them now.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Poaching on our preserve

Jon Kyl (R-hypocrisy), who advocated ending the filibuster in the middle of a Congressional session when Republicans held the Senate majority, is now incensed that Democrats might change the rules at the beginning of the session, when they're entitled to, at least historically.

These guys are totally shameless.  They completely do not believe that a restraint on someone else implies that they are restrained by the same rule.  They have no grasp at all of the golden rule.


Different from you and me

Click image for full August J. Pollak cartoon.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sometimes a gun just represents something

Click link for full Dan Wasserman/Boston Globe cartoon.

At least one of them was vestigial

Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Random regress

For the most part, TV technology has gotten better and better.  Resolution is better.  Watching sports on DVR is better than live if you're o.k. with deferred gratification.  You can fast forward past all the frippery.

But basketball broadcasts never replay the previous play - the one you want to see.  They replay a previous play.  Since football broadcasts don't do this, it must be a consensus directorial decision.

Let me tell you, it's bullshit.  Show me the damn play, even if it exposes the complete caprice of foul and walk calls in high-level hoops.  (Yeah, finally there's an exception - proving the rule, and the refs totally missed the UConn player kicking the ball out of bounds.)

Reality, that's what I want, not bullshit swept under the rug.  Just like politics, only if you know what's real and true can you possibly make the world better.

Or watch wrestling and roller derby.

Great social and political import

Random observations at the supermarket (does anyone still call them grocery stores?) - it goes like this:

A father is shopping with his 9-year-old daughter, and she is chattering away, narrating the world, picking items up, asking questions, putting them back.  His responses, when they come at all, come in terse phrases, hardly even sentences.  He looks blankly at his smart phone, as if seeking rescue from her.

As the father of a 20-year-old daughter, I know he's missing out.  His girl is prompting him to teach her, to shape her mind, to be her father.  He's not up to it, at least not now.

A child can be exhausting, and I suspect that this one asks a lot.  But her asking is an opportunity to share the best part of life, and he's blowing it.  There were times I blew it, too, and I wish he wouldn't blow it right in front of me, reminding me of the chances I missed.

A mother at the bread rack, my next destination, remonstrates her son.  About what, I don't know.  I skip the bread for the moment and head for dairy.

Another mom calls softly for her son.  "Is that him?" asks a man in the aisle.  "No, he's thirteen."  But that impulse to help a stranger is a good thing, not so often observed in the wild.

A Hindu mother leads her teenage son, who amiably pushes their cart.  She's traditional enough to have a small claret spot on her forehead.  He moves like an American teen.  I would guess that he will never return to live in India.  American youth culture, for all its flaws - because of many of its flaws, is the most powerful melting pot we have.

The man raising money, out in the bitter cold, for his church's hunger and poverty programs recognizes me and blesses me.  I had spurned his appeal when I went back to the car to get my reusable bags.  Then I had reconsidered and given him a couple of dollars - if I could act on my care for the environment, I had to act on my care for the poor, never mind that his church will proselytize for a religion I don't share.

He said, "God bless you," and I do feel blessed.

Why Republicans have to lie

Republicans want to bring back the old deal, the 1929 deal:

Among other changes, the Ryan Roadmap proposes:
  • Raising taxes only on those Americans making between
    $20,000 and $200,000, while slashing taxes in half
    for the wealthiest Americans. The middle class would
    pay higher average tax rates than millionaires – an
    unprecedented reversal of progressive U.S. tax policy.
  • Eliminating taxation of corporate income and replacing
    it with a consumption tax that would disproportionately
    hit middle-class Americans.
  • Placing the entire burden of deficit reduction on
    spending cuts. The Ryan Roadmap prioritizes dismantling
    social insurance programs, not balancing
    the budget.
  • Replacing Medicare and Medicaid with inadequate
    vouchers to purchase health insurance in a broken
  • Privatizing Social Security for wealthy Americans
    and ending Social Security’s role as universal social
    insurance with benefits tied to lifetime earnings.
The GOP wants you to be all alone and on your own.  If you deserved help, you wouldn't need it, not even if you were actually paying for it.

Republicans don't give a shit about the deficit either:
The hefty tax hikes on the middle class included in the
plan do not go toward deficit reduction.
Nor does the
Roadmap’s overall revenue plan improve the long-term
fiscal outlook. The plan actually reduces federal revenue
relative to either current law or current policy.
Republicans use the deficit as a way to perpetually cut taxes on the wealthy.  If there were no deficit, you middle class peons might actually expect something from your government.  And they can't have you expecting that!

Unless there's a war (to protect their lifestyle).  Then you can expect a draft notice.

(h/t Meteor Blades at DailyKos)

Update: In case you imagined that Paul Ryan (R-plutocracy and penury go together) might become unpopular in the Republican caucus because of his proposals, he's giving the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address.  In an attempt to make Ryan look moderate, Michele Bachmann will lip-synch a Glenn Beck monologue in an unofficial Teapublican response.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Republican Jesus, Republican Constitution

Teabaggers and their originalist friends take the same approach to the founder of Christianity that they take to the Founders of the United States.  They make it up to suit their own fantasies:

In July of 1798, Congress passed – and President John Adams signed - “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance.

Keep in mind that the 5th Congress did not really need to struggle over the intentions of the drafters of the Constitutions in creating this Act as many of its members were the drafters of the Constitution.

And when the Bill came to the desk of President John Adams for signature, I think it’s safe to assume that the man in that chair had a pretty good grasp on what the framers had in mind.

What's good for the teabaggers, wingnuts, and originalists?  That and only that is what Jesus and Jefferson et al intended.  Never mind what they actually did.

The self-conservatives get the best of all possible worlds while they're alive, and their reward for suffering (from the presence of people like me) is that their streets are paved with well-deserved gold while we writhe somewhere far away out of earshot in a lake of fire.  Win!

(h/t DailyKos and Political Correction)

Also, more at the Plum Line.

Michelle Obama linked to huge increase in bullshit

Ordinary statistical variation?  Never heard of it.

Michelle said, "Walk."  More pedestrians are dead.  QED!

Wingnut liars:  It's her fault we have to tear her down with bullshit.  It was a slow news day.  Why didn't she wear something sleeveless?  If global warming were real, she could, even in January.

Honestly, the bullshit that Americans will listen to and lend credence is so vast and odiferous that there's no chance of us ever composting it all.  Ya think we could make it our comparative advantage over the Chinese?  They don't seem to have our abilities in this line of manufacturing.

Conservatives traffic constantly in lies.  Their moronic followers believe the most obvious bullshit.  Why wouldn't their heroes keep lying to them?  More tax cuts for the liars!

Loughner's never getting out, so what's the problem?

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer prepares to empty the asylums.  Oh, too late, done decades ago.  Brewer proposes to stop taking care of the mentally ill except to fling tranqs at them.  Complex problems, simple-minded solutions, the Republican way...

Can't you just purr from the warm feeling of Republican Nocare!  Yes, the free market is going to take care of these people.  It always does.  They can sell their meds on the street and get their transplants.  If that's the rational way to act in the market for medical services.  Though we might need a government program to intervene from time to time - what do we give cops tasers for, anyway?  Portable electroshock!

Then Arizonans can finance it all with yet another zombie movie.  It's already cast, so no need for a casting director.  Win-win-win!

(h/t Digby)

Relativistic weather

Cue the denialists:  "I'm driving down the Turnpike again today, and I don't see any space or time dilation."

Limbaugh's job

Andrew Leonard of Salon says this about Rush Limbaugh's racist aping of Hu Jintao:

I'm not sure what is more appalling: Rush Limbaugh's 30-second-long imitation of China's President Hu Jintao speaking in Chinese, delivered on his radio show today in the most abominable display of evil Oriental stereotyping this side of Fu Manchu, or the fact that Limbaugh obviously feels his audience would relish an indulgence in racist mockery that most third grade boys would be ashamed of.
C'mon, Leonard, where have you been?  Limbaugh is popular because he tells his audience they have no reason at all to be ashamed of anything.  His most important job and function among wingnuts is to edge right up next to the racial epithet and then only to imply it without saying.  His job is to set a social norm that builds a tribe for his listeners where every bigoted thought they have or even give voice to is close enough to be acceptable.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What's the word?

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Back in the 1970s, we used to answer, "Johannisburg." Maybe we can bring that good ole apartheid back home (from where?) as the teabaggers want.

Don't back down

Republicans are using propaganda techniques, including repeating the big lie.  Rep. Steve Cohen (D-island of sanity in my home state of Tennessee) should not apologize, should not back down.  He hurt their sensitive feelings, did he?  (Nothing unusual about that.)  They should toughen up a little.

If the Republicans don't like the company they're keeping, they should stop keeping company with propagandists like Joseph Goebbels.  Cohen didn't call them baby-killers.  And that in fact would not be fair, since they're only neglecting the deaths of uninsured babies (and adults) that their NoCare policy would contribute to.  That it already causes.

You realize of course that Republicans and their wingnut media allies have been calling us Nazis and communists for two years, don't you?  Yet it's news when a Democrat returns the favor.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Atlas jerked off

Is being responsible for one's own pleasure what it means to go Galt?

[Atlas Shrugged is] a totally ridiculous book which can be summed up as Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs. ... Indeed, the enduring popularity of Atlas Shrugged lies in the fact that it is nerd revenge porn — if you’re an nerd of an engineering-ish stripe who remembers all too well being slammed into your locker by a bunch of football dickheads, then the idea that people like you could make all those dickheads suffer by “going Galt” has a direct line to the pleasure centers of your brain. I’ll show you! the nerds imagine themselves crying. I’ll show you all! And then they disappear into a crevasse that Google Maps will not show because the Google people are our kind of people, and a year later they come out and everyone who was ever mean to them will have starved. Then these nerds can begin again, presumably with the help of robots, because any child in the post-Atlas Shrugged world who can’t figure out how to run a smelter within ten minutes of being pushed through the birth canal will be left out for the coyotes. Which if nothing else solves the problem of day care.

All of this is fine, if one recognizes that the idealized world Ayn Rand has created to facilitate her wishful theorizing has no more logical connection to our real one than a world in which an author has imagined humanity ruled by intelligent cups of yogurt.  ...
Ayn Rand couldn't even fantasize a world in which her bullshit was plausible.

(h/t DougJ at Balloon Juice)

Which comes first?

Krugman, as usual, whacks the arationality of the Republican mole:

Health reform, says the budget office, will increase Social Security revenues and reduce Medicare costs. But the G.O.P. analysis says that these sums don’t count, because some people have said that these savings would also extend the life of these programs’ trust funds, so counting these savings as deficit reduction would be “double-counting,” because — well, actually it doesn’t make any sense, but it sounds impressive.


[T]he modern G.O.P. has been taken over by an ideology in which the suffering of the unfortunate isn’t a proper concern of government, and alleviating that suffering at taxpayer expense is immoral, never mind how little it costs.

Given that their minds were made up from the beginning, top Republicans weren’t interested in and didn’t need any real policy analysis — in fact, they’re basically contemptuous of such analysis, something that shines through in their health care report. All they ever needed or wanted were some numbers and charts to wave at the press, fooling some people into believing that we’re having some kind of rational discussion. We aren’t.

Conservatives in America prefer myth.  It's not that reality is too harsh.  Reality would require them to alter their beliefs, and they are constitutionally unable to do that.

I believe you can't know what's right without knowing what's true.  Much of the Teapublican base believes you must first know what's right before you can then determine what's true.  I take the scientific revolution as correctly victorious.  They want to revert to scholasticism that protects ignorance and poverty in a static world where learning outside their one true faith is a crime.

Oh, but they'll take the new gadgets that science and engineering produce, just not the empiricism required to produce the next set of ideas.

Monday, January 17, 2011

B-bu-but that's different!

Click image for full Matt Bors cartoon.

Preference for myth

Tennessee teabaggers want to whitewash history by law.  They want to make sure that public school teachers cannot criticize the Founders:

"No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership."

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address "an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another."

These teabaggers want the myth they believed as naive children without all those messy non-white people.  They want hagiography unrelieved by any evidence at all that the Founders were human beings like us, that they made mistakes, that they politicked in ways often as hardball as we do.

This conflict is the central conflict of the culture war.  We believe in following the evidence where it leads.  They believe in suppressing any evidence that their beliefs are unsupportable - the pre-Enlightenment view.

(h/t Salon and Huffington Post)

Sic semper insanus

Political assassins are very often loners and losers, alienated borderline personalities on a quest to prove they're not as small as they feel.  And often to die in their attacks and finally to quell their sense of worthlessness.

Jared Loughner is cut from this cloth.  His writings look, frankly, crazy.  They give a whole new meaning to warp and woof.

Is it enough to leave it there?  To alibi that the shootings in Tucson are simply an unavoidable tragedy?

No, of course not.  We have made choices - political choices - that make political murder more likely.  We can unmake these choices if enough of us think it's important enough.

First off, we live in an open society.  I've been struck by Representatives saying in response to the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords that they need free access to us, the citizens, and of course we need access to them.  They're not aristocrats.

Maintaining an open society is far too important to surrender, even to a succession of lone wolves.  An open society is what we have democratic politics for.  If we were not going to control movement and public access to our elected officials after 1968 or 9/11, we shouldn't start now.  That doesn't mean we can't provide more security for judges and Congresspeople.

Second, we have decided, both for freedom and to save money, to mainstream people with even large and obvious mental health deficits.  It's not surprising that a few of them span the fuzzy borderline between weirdness and malevolence.

I doubt very seriously that there's any new rule about mental health interventions that would have blocked Loughner consistent with personal freedom for people who are not actually coming apart.  What if we made a national choice to have coverage parity for mental illness in our health insurance system!  Private insurance companies won't cover anything out of the goodness of their hearts, so this would take law-making.

Oh, right, Giffords voted for exactly this sort of requirement in the passage of Obamacare, and that's one of the two major reasons the teabaggers hate her (the other being her opposition to the Jan Brewer profile-a-Mexican act).  Repealing mental health parity is what the Republican caucus in the House wants to do.

Third, we have decided that wide access to guns is a vital political right.  Few places have taken this decision further than Arizona. Loughner could easily buy his Glock semi and, apparently, at least three extended clips, each holding 30 bullets.  He could legally carry it concealed without any vetting of his mental health.  Without any review before the fact.

The Arizona legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer enacted the right to concealed carry in 2010.  In 2007, when Loughner previously attended a Giffords event, had he been carrying his Glock, he would have been subject to arrest long before raising his coward's arm to the back of her head and inflicting a wound roughly the magnitude with which John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln.

Arizona is a place where the law is extremely pro-gun.  A bar or restaurant that chooses to be a gun-free zone must post its ban:

Otherwise, bring your Glock on in with as many extended clips as you can carry.

Last, we choose to protect free speech right up to the edge of incitement to violence and maybe even past the edge.  (h/t Digby)

Free speech is not only a First Amendment right, it's a core value of Americans.  We don't want to be told we can't say pretty much whatever springs to mind.  Loughner, even, holds this value, insanely wanting the right to call the number 6 "eighteen."

Legally, incitement to violence has a high bar and is seldom prosecuted.  That's as it should be.  Nearly all the hysterical teabagger statements have been protected speech, even when they coarsely and immorally revel in fantasies of violence.  (I include Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh among the sick purveyors of political violence porn.  They're not the worst, of course.)

But there are other responsibilities than legal ones.  We live in a society that has grown enured to vicious, ugly political rhetoric, almost all of it from the right wing.  As a society, we need to do something about this.

Not outlaw hate speech, of course.  Sanction it socially as outside the polite norms of society.  Express our disapproval in no uncertain terms.  Make the malcontent cranks and liars look like ... the malcontent cranks and liars they are.  Treat them like a turd in the punch bowl.

Social norms matter immensely.  The reason wingnuts hate political correctness so much is that it constrains the slurs they can use.  They'd never admit it, but they have substituted their own much more restrictive PC for the social consensus that they've been attacking for 25 years.  Suddenly there are rules against cheering at memorial services that the wingers hope will excuse them from listening to the content.  And, of course, every manufactured social norm of the right comes with an IOKIYAR get out of jail free card.

I've been spending a lot of time recently mocking, rebutting, and defending against the usual array of know-nothing wingnuts on the MetroWest Daily News.  It is continually amazing how strongly they prefer to be ignoramuses.

Still, it's important that they not go unopposed.  There are too many others reading who are easily led astray if all they hear is bile and illiberal bullshit.  Roll up your sleeves, pick a site, and start tearing down the haters.

Note:  I wrote nearly all of this on Jan. 9 but didn't think it was finished.  Today, I added seven paragraphs to the end (which really wasn't finished), took out some blank spaces where I had intended to go on longer, and hit Publish Post.

Appease the sensitivities

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Li'l Twain! Real possibilities there. I remember when a single parent complaint got Catcher in the Rye banned in eighth grade.  Let me tell you everyone read that book.

On the day we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday with a black man as President, it's good but still uncomfortable that we can speak a little more frankly about race.  Of course, there are still many people who want to speak frankly without speaking constructively.  Yeah, Rush Limbaugh's target audience.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Compare and contrast

Click image for full MStreeter/Savannah Morning News cartoon.

Stopped celestial clock

Click image for full Nate Beeler/Washington Examiner cartoon.

Even a doctrinaire conservative cartoonist, who's seldom even in the neighborhood of funny, can get one right.  He just has to leave out the politics.

Republicans don't care about the deficit

They just don't.

Anyone who claims otherwise is lying or a fool.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

War on memorial services

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Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy are the two stupidest men on television. The belong on Fox.

Smells like Founders spirit

(h/t Digby)

A solemn vow

Click image for full Pat Bagley/Salt Lake Tribune cartoon.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fun with guns

If Rush Limbaugh doesn't realize that he's been at least up to the edge of the abyss (actually floating zeppelin-like his own gasbag self well beyond the edge), why did he take down this billboard not far from the Safeway where Gabrielle Giffords was shot?

He knows.  It's his job.

Personal responsibility

For conservatives, personal responsibility means they're not responsible for anything:

Though such extraordinary self-pity may seem from the outside depressing to live with, it has its advantages. It gives the sufferer's life purpose and meaning. Since he's always the victim, he never has to step up and accept responsibility for anything. In short, being a conservative means never having to say you're sorry, which makes it ideal for people who are fundamentally incapable of admitting they ever have anything or anyone besides themselves to be sorry for.
Even Katrina, not their fault!!!  (Petulantly...)

Oh, I know the wingers think personal responsibility is not blaming anything larger than the person connected to the trigger finger, and that's a good definition for the rest of us.  But fundamentally they won't ever accept blame for anything.

Something I wish I'd said

Winston Smith of Philosoraptor fame (and deserving of more) limns right-wing responsibility for their own rhetoric:

Many people--including politicians and influential media figures--on the right now commonly say things which, in effect, constitute an argument for the conclusion that violence ought to be used against liberals and Democrats in general and the President in particular. You can deny that you are advocating violence all you want, but if you say that liberals are evil, that they are intentionally ruining the country, that they are trying to turn the U.S. into a totalitarian "socialist" state (and succeeding), then you are building a case for the use of violence against them, intentionally or not. (And this is not to even mention claims to the effect that the President is illegitimate and, perhaps, the Antichrist.) If you say such things, then you are trying to convince people of things such that, were a rational person to believe them, he would have to consider using violence in response. I can guarantee you, were an actual totalitarian movement actually on the brink of taking power in America, I would be contemplating violence against it. You would--and should--do the same. Add to the above some rhetoric about "Second Amendment remedies," and there is no rational way to deny that the right has sidled right on up to advocating violence.
Brilliant, clear, apt.  It's only three paragraphs.  Read it all.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So many lone wolves

You'd think it might be a movement:

For the last two years we have seen a rise in acts, and threats, of anti-government violence. At the same time, we’ve seen an eruption in dangerous, often violent, anti-government rhetoric embraced and mainstreamed by the right-wing media in America.
But it ain't "Alice's Restaurant" they're singing!  Anti-massacree?  Are you kidding me?!
At a time when Republicans are desperately encouraging the media to pretend that the left and the right are equally culpable in fomenting violence, it’s important to look at the facts. And the facts are clear: The violence has come entirely from the right.
There's a reason why the media screamers on the ignoramus right are straining so hard to pretty up their ugly record on threats and incitement:
Much of the culture and thinking of the American right - the mainstream as well as the fringe - has descended into paranoid suppositions about the government, the Democrats and the president. This is not to say that the left wing doesn't have a paranoid fringe, too. But by every available measure, it's the right where conspiracy theories have exploded.
They know they're guilty in general even if the Giffords case is more ambiguous.  But they're seeking the cover of false equivalence and busily trying to make themselves out to be the victims.

(h/t Kos)

Anti-democracy of dunces

Digby rides again:

The real problem, in my view, is that there is a subset of Americans who believe that government is illegitimate if their chosen leaders aren't elected. They simply don't believe in democracy. Voting is a ritual for them, something one does, like go to church. But it's expected that their preferred leaders will always win and their preferred agenda is the only one that will be enacted. (In one of the greatest ironies ever, they are undoubtedly the same people who stuck with George W. Bush to bitter end --- the most illegitimate president ever.) They get very, very agitated and angry whenever they are not "in charge." (Sadly for them, they never actually are.)
Update: By the way, Duhbya has significant competition for "most illegitimate president."  See Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and John Quincy Adams in 1824.  But he wins easily for any election of the past 100 years.

You tawkin' to me?

Click image for full Matt Bors cartoon.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Marinating in hatred

Jared Loughner didn't get the memo that the threatening rhetoric of the right is all theater.

When the GOP didn't have the votes to stop healthcare reform from passing, their strategy -- and it almost worked -- was to scare Democratic elected officials. That was the point of telling everyone to shout themselves hoarse at the town halls: to terrify House members. Convince them that their constituents were incensed.
Alex Pareene has a lot to say.  Read it all.  I think he's a bit eager to let the teabaggers off the hook, but he's right about this:
Jared Loughner ... most likely is ... some weird politically incoherent amalgamation of extremist beliefs tinged with paranoia.
Violent cultures beget violent acts.  Our culture started off a violent one, and the right wing - yes, including so-called mainstream Republicans - has made it more violent.  Arizona, in particular, has yielded to extremism on guns and eliminationist rhetoric.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Second Amendment remedies?

I don't know whether the shooter of Rep. Giselle Giffords (D) in Tucson, AZ, had political motives.  I hope not, but given the tenor of the times, it's a question that has to be answered - and soon.

Assassin Jared Loughner could have had a grudge against the federal judge that he did kill outright.  He could simply be crazy and in love with the power of a 9mm Glock with an extended magazine - the power to make him less useless and impotent.

A couple of points:  Open carry of firearms, which is the law in Arizona, utterly failed to deter or end this attack.  Eighteen people were injured, and the shooter was not apparently one of them.  Showdown at the O.K. corral did not turn out to be an effective crime-stopper.

The media is making a big deal about the lack of security for Congresspeople.  As if they didn't know before.  Maybe they're just channelling the ignorance of the public, who don't go to events at which Representatives or Senators show up without any security at all.  During this past election season, I saw my Congressman, Jim McGovern, many times - even at a local Tea Party event - and he never had security.

Update (1/10):  Not only is open carry the law of Arizona.  Concealed carry without a permit of any kind is also the law.

Also, the attack was cut short - not short enough - by unarmed citizens.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Articles of confabulation

Click image for full Tim Eagan/Press Democrat cartoon.

Hire calling

Click image for full Bruce Beattie cartoon.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Rules for your Boehner

Republican claims of transparency have nothing at all to do with any principle more noble than their own power:

Republicans have also pledged to have an open rule on all spending bills, which means that members of both parties will be able to offer more amendments and have more debate, which in theory would lead to more scrutiny for each government agency seeking financing.
A big exception will be the bill to repeal the health care law that House Republicans plan to bring up next week. That bill will not be subject to amendments, nor will Republicans have to abide by their own new rules that compel them to offset the cost of new bills that add to the deficit; the health care repeal and tax cuts are not subject to this new rule.
Majoritarian rule is the nature of the House, no matter how much they may dress up a sow's ear.

By the way, many (all?) bills are already on-line at Thomas.  Republicans want to take credit for that - I'd guess they're making some minor extension of what's already there.  Trust the media to point that out?  Why...

A House divided

Elected by voters whose memory couldn't outlast a station break...

The fundamental mission of the G.O.P. is to shovel ever more money to those who are already rich. That’s why you got all that disgracefully phony rhetoric from Republicans about attacking budget deficits and embracing austerity while at the same time they were fighting like mad people to pile up the better part of a trillion dollars in new debt by extending the Bush tax cuts. ...

Have we forgotten already who put us in such grave peril? Republicans benefit from the fact that memories are short and statutes of limitations shorter.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wearing Daddy's shoes

Neil Swidey makes an even-handed point about Scott Brown (R-Cosmo):

Will Scott Brown go on to become a transformative political figure like Ted Kennedy, a senator whose name keeps company with the likes of Webster and Clay? Before you dismiss the idea, consider how outlandish it might have seemed had the same question been posed about the youngest Kennedy after his first year in office.
One state legislator I know said, "If Scott Brown can be Senator, ..." and trailed off into stunned amazement.

At the same time, it's hard to see how anyone expected much more out of Teddy Kennedy than a reliable vote for JFK, yet he grew into so much more.  At times, of course, that growth was an ugly and halting process to watch.  Even in the 1990s, ardent liberals such as I knew that Ted's strength was not his character or his intellect; it was his staff.

His office truly served his Massachusetts constituents, and we loved him for it and forgave his many personal sins.  His office also brought forward careful, well-crafted proposals and compromises that made him a brilliant legislator.

Could Scott Brown grow in a similar way?  Only time will tell.

I suspect that Brown won't have the chance.  I suspect that he will never win a full six-year term in the Senate.  The Massachusetts Democratic Party proved its strength in 2010, and we will be out in force for the 2012 Presidential election, striving to win back the sporadic voters who don't always turn out in mid-terms.

Brown has serious problems walking the fine line between his teabagger base and a liberal electorate. Conservatives dominate the Republican Party in Massachusetts.  They haven't always, but for the past twenty years, they have only paused occasionally to nominate moderates.  Mostly, they have chosen again and again to be satisfied with staying pure and getting whipped. 

Many Massachusans would like to have more partisan balance, but they're not willing to mimic the national picture, which requires so-called balance by going halvesies with batshit insane Confederate conservatism.  The marketplace of political ideas has spoken here, and Republicans, failing to listen, have steadily gone bust.

Not that Massachusetts doesn't have checks and balances still in place.  There are persistent factions within the Democratic Party.  It's just that the dividing lines are much more blurry between the Dukakis-heritage good government liberals, the urban coalition Dems, and the shrinking traditional conservative faction who are only Dems because the Republican Party is so hostile to both the center of the political spectrum and the center of the class spectrum.

Swidey talks about the strengths that may continue to help Brown - and they are practically all superficial.  Brown's handsome.  His family is attractive.  His daughter can sing.  (And that helps us how?)  His image has a pickup truck and a barn coat Photoshopped into it for our media narrative.

Swidey's not the first reporter to dwell on the surface.  In the modern hopeless political media, it would be exceptional if he didn't.

I would at least hope that Swidey would get the surface right.  He calls Brown pleasant and affable.  Not my experience.  I tried to be friendly, though I was obviously not a supporter, and Brown went off on me.  I wouldn't want to have a beer with the guy - not that that matters one whit.

Led by the media and our own laziness, we Americans have become more and more vacuous in our politics.  You think Christine O'Donnell would have gone beyond Bill Maher's show if she weren't cute?  You think Nikki Haley would be governor of South Carolina if she weren't pretty?  You think the nude pose in Cosmo hurt Scott Brown?  If only Joe Miller had had one of those!

Michael Deaver knew in the early 1980s that pictures are more important to politicians than words - and especially more important than thoughts.  All those happy pictures of Scott Brown are his greatest hope for re-election.

You do know what that means for Sarah Palin, don't you?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Life of the party

Click image for full Jim Morin/Miami Herald cartoon.