Archive for September, 2010

Ah, Democracy!

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by rottenart

Nothing says “representative of the people” like unilaterally deciding that the American House of Lords will conduct no business that doesn’t conform to one person’s agenda. Democrats have a pretty good track record of screwing up a bona fide political winner with ease, so I won’t expect them to jump on this either. However, the fact is that this is an unprecedented power-grab unseen in American history. At no time (not during the Civil War, not during Mccarthy, not during Civil Rights) has one senator shut down government by himself, for selfish, petty, vindictive reasons. Jim DeMint has tread into new and dangerous territory and the fact that so-called news organizations (beyond the inestimable Mr. Goddard, of course) are simply ignoring it is a sad indictment of practically our entire system.

It’s also worth remembering that this is the logical endpoint of the Republican caucus’ strategy since Jan. 15th, 2009. Without a vote, a majority or a mandate (never mind a reason) they have decided to obstruct every piece of legislation that they don’t approve of. They’ve blocked judicial nominees in record numbers, leading to a crisis in the courts, often times by the use of an anonymous hold. This tactic allows any one member to block a nominee for whatever reason they like, without a hint of repercussion, despite the vast majority of nominees being approved unanimously by the judicial committee. Tom Coburn has even blocked a new food safety bill because it costs too much, and lied on the Senate floor to try and get his issues with the bill addressed, even though it is the cheapest one yet this congress.

This has gone far beyond the simple truism that the Senate is Broken. With DeMint’s bold new steps toward effective dictatorship, we have reached a point where if something is not done soon to address this gross abuse of power, there might not be any going back. It amuses me to watch the Teabaggers whine on and on about the constitution and the founding fathers as if they were some godhead handed down from Heaven on the backs of angels.  Do they really think the framers of their holy document would have stood for this embarrassment of a legislative process? They were fighting to break free from tyranny, not embolden it.

I ask all of you to make this known to your friends, family, co-workers, anyone who might be willing to vote this November.  If you make any pretense to patriotism, there is no way you can support DeMint’s actions in good conscience.

Updated: More on DeMint’s “Doomsday Device“.

A Quick Sunday Link

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2010 by rottenart

Time is short, but I thought I’d share a link with everyone. Fallin Fail is an excellent clearinghouse for Mary Fallin lunacy.  I was directed to the site by this post from Digby about the ridiculous authoritarian behavior from Fallin at the Jim Thorpe Museum. Jari Askins, Fallin’s Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial race, was invited to speak and take questions along with Fallin. However, Mary made the bizarre request that Askins, her staff, and any supporters had to leave the room while Fallin spoke. Digby has it exactly right: for all their tough talk about revolution and independence, they sure love to act like burgeoning fascists, stifling dissent and only appearing in front of friendly audiences.

I’d encourage you all to vist Fallin Fail, as some of the antics really have to be read to be believed. This woman is vying to run the state and if she’s successful, be prepared for any criticism of her and her policy to be suspiciously absent.

Policy Requires More Than Platitudes

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2010 by rottenart

I don’t expect that many hard-core Teabaggers bothered to listen in on Obama’s speech in PA today. A good many of them are predisposed to reject whatever he says, regardless of common sense or merit, simply because he makes them uncomfortable. I’ll leave the reasons why that is for another post. Regardless, if any of them had tuned in, I wonder how many among their ranks, the self-styled “all government spending is bad” crowd who simply wants to do nothing as our nation crumbles, noticed just how simple and precise his statements were in regard to the truth. Probably very few.

Among some notable highlights that included praising the spirit of the Teabaggers and correctly placing blame for our country’s ills squarely on the actions of our previous president and his lapdog congress, the president also had this blunt talk about their misguided policies:

“Identify specifically what you would do. It’s not enough to say get control of spending. I think it’s important for you to say, ‘I’m willing to cut veterans’ benefits or I’m willing to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits or I’m willing to see these taxes go up. What you can’t do is say … we’re going to control government spending, we’re going to propose $4 trillion of additional tax cuts and magically these things are going to work.”

Now, Obama can’t go out and debate every Tea Party nut job running for public office (there’s a lot of them this year). What he can do is give his base the ammunition to fight the battle on the ground. And, when I say ‘fight the battle’, I mean it in a philosophical, ideological way. We all have some day to day encounters with Tea Partiers, or, at the very least, some who are sympathetic with their plans to “git the gubbmint out of my life!” Well, I propose offering a variation of the president’s remarks, offered without condescension or malice. Pin them down on the amount of cuts needed to make up for $4 trillion in lost revenue. What would they like to see gone? the VA? Social Security? Medicare and Medicaid? The Department of Education? Keep in mind that many will enthusiastically support these ideas. The problem is that they usually have a very abstract sense of what those types of cuts would mean for them personally.

Do they know a veteran? Have them ask about gutting the Veteran’s Administration. How about an older relative, say, a grandmother? Let’s ask grandma how she feels about getting rid of medicare or SS. Do they attend PTA meetings or Parent/Teacher conferences? Have them bring up abolishing the DoE at the next meeting. The truth is, it’s easy to talk big in a senate race about defunding government completely. It’s quite another when you spell out how drastically that approach would affect the lives of nearly everyone we know.

What this all boils down to, at least for this election cycle, is pretty easy to quantify: either we go with the Republican plan to continue expensive tax cuts for everyone (including the top 2% of earners) that we can’t pay for and cut $4 trillion in spending or we go with Obama’s plan to continue the tax cuts for 98% of America, let the über-wealthy start paying the rates they paid under President Clinton, and continue to fund programs such as education and Social Security.

The problem with the truth is that people don’t like to hear it, especially if it’s bad or scary. Well, the truth is, the Teabagger contingent (basically the modern GOP in general) really believes in their plan. That’s the reason why they run away from talking about their policies on talk shows and scrub their websites to try and hide their positions. If people heard the truth about what they plan to do if elected, they probably wouldn’t be elected.

The Rules For Christine O’Donnell

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2010 by rottenart

When Christine O’Donnell won the Republican nomination in Delaware last Tuesday, I, along with many other commentators, scratched my head and chuckled. What were DE Republicans thinking? More akin to a kooky perennial candidate for city council than a serious Senate contender, O’Donnell rode a wave of Teabagger anger to the win, helped along by a high-profile endorsement from Mama Grifter herself. Mike Castle, her defeated opponent, is a more moderate Republican and moderation is apostasy in the GOP these days. By painting him as a RINO and a pansy, O’Donnell got the nod while virtually ensuring a Democratic win in the general election against Chris Coons.

Much has been made of O’Donnell’s history of saying crazy things. From scientists creating super mice with human brains to dabbling “into” witchcraft, her past statements have been dribbling out since her win and they aren’t pretty. Bill Maher, on whose show O’Donnell was a frequent guest, has tons of videos that he threatens to release until she agrees to an interview. However, it appears now that she is a candidate for the US Senate, she has developed an aversion to television interviews, canceling scheduled appearances on Face The Nation and Fox News Sunday (yes, she even refuses to talk to Fox).

Frankly, I could care less about any of this. If Tea Bag Nation™ wants to take over the GOP and populate it with loons who won’t ever win a general election, that’s just fine with me. It is a little frightening to think she may have a shot at national public office, but I’m confident DE voters are watching her and saying, “is this the best we can do?”

However, delusional paranoia and black masses aside, what I do have a problem with is illegal activity. Even before she won the nomination, reports surfaced (some from a former campaign staffer) that Ms. O’Donnell was misusing campaign funds for personal use. It turns out she has run for senate three times and after each defeat, she used unspent campaign funds as her own personal bank account, including for gas, shopping and bowling. Additionally, she was also operating as her own campaign treasurer, also a direct violation. When I read first heard these reports I thought, “how is she going to continue to run when she’s obviously in direct violation of election law?” Evidently, the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington agrees with me. They’ve asked the Delaware Attorney’s General and the FEC to look into the allegations. It seems pretty cut and dried to me, but I’ll withhold judgement until I hear what the FEC has to say.

But here’s the thing: if it turns out that she did break the law, will that preclude her from running? CREW attempts to deflect the predictable charge of bias by saying it also called for Charlie Rangel to step down, something I heartily endorse. It’s pretty obscene that he won so handily in NY, but it makes sense. After all, he’s been a rep for a long time and his constituents love him. It doesn’t absolve him of wrong-doing but it explains his resilience. O’Donnell, on the other hand, is a fresh face in politics. She has no constituent base to draw support from beyond the mindless cult of the Tea Party. Rangel was lambasted by plenty of these Teabaggers; I wonder if they’ll also call for an open and fair investigation of Ms. O’Donnell? I think I already know the answer to that one. No matter the issue, from the deficit to infidelity to ethics troubles, different rules apply to Republicans. I’m confident this paradigm won’t shift anytime soon. However, I wonder if FEC violations on top of out-and-out lunacy will be enough to force an even application?

Just for the record, I hope she fights the charges and carries on. There will be plenty of time for lawsuits and criminal proceedings once her masthead candidacy has imploded fabulously, showing the country just how insane the current crop of TeaOP “leadership” truly is and proving that 19% of the population is not an across the board affirmation from We the People.

Rallies For The Rest Of Us

Posted in Funny, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2010 by rottenart

Leave it to the internet. It was announced to day that Jon “The Best News Man In comedy” Stewart and Stephen “Truthiness” Colbert will hold opposing rallies in the national mall. Stewart will hold an event to counter-act the recent “Million Moron March” held by Glenn Beck. Titled  the Rally to Restore Sanity, he calls it “… a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) — not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority.” Colbert’s rally, entitled Keep Fear Alive, will focus on mocking the hell out of Beck and his brain-dead minions.

It will be interesting to see how many people turn out for these event considering the popularity of both men. Also interesting will be how Fox News manipulates the attendance records to “prove” that not many people came. If there was ever a gathering on the mall that deserved support, it’s this one. Or two.

Teabaggers Celebrate A Big Night

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2010 by rottenart

Well, the votes are in and it turns out Teabagging is good for your primary electability. Christine “Masturbation Is A Sin” O’Donnell beat Mike Castle for the GOP Senate nomination in Delaware and Carl “Mad As Hell” Paladino crushed Rick Lazio in the gubernatorial primary in New York. Both are almost comical figures who join the growing ranks of lunatic fringe candidates who have successfully challenged moderate Republicans across the country.  It seems that Republican primary voters are willing to sacrifice integrity, intelligence, common sense and electability to make a point.

As far as I’m concerned, there are two sides to this story. On one hand, you could be holding your head right now, trying to figure out just what happened to moderation in this country. That these radical right wingers could even be considered, let alone win a major party nomination is a depressing comment on our nation and its political discourse. In a sane world, the ideas of Angle, Miller, Paul, Paladino et al, would get them laughed from the room, not fund-raising for a general election. Just because the electorate is upset about the economy, does that mean they simultaneously lose their minds and give in to fear and lunacy?

On the other, you have to remember that these are primary wins. Despite the media narrative and adulation sure to be pouring in during the weeks ahead, the election of such far right caricatures makes the Democrats’ job that much easier. Teabaggers may be whooping for joy that they defeated what they see as insufficiently conservative politicians but, unfortunately for them, the country doesn’t view the country in the same way as committed Tea Party primary voters.

I’m not going to stop fighting to retain Democrats (and progressives specifically. Go Ann McLane Kuster!) in November. The thought that any of these whackos has a chance of actually holding public office is just to dangerous to allow. However, I take solace in the fact that their world-view is not mainstream, or even very popular. They’re riding a populist wave that could very easily grow into a tsunami headed directly at them. We can only hope.

Surprise, Surprise!

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2010 by rottenart

As someone who frequents political forums online (perhaps obsessively so), I come across a lot of conservatives who are sure that their worldview lines up perfectly with the majority of Americans. They pontificate on why tax cuts for millionaires are what the country wants, how Obama is obviously a secret Muslim radical, or just what a boon a government shutdown would be following a Republican takeover in November. They rail against the Department of Education, against the IRS and the Federal Reserve, against Medicare and Social Security. All of these positions, they argue, are how America feels and polls showing a likely Republican upset in the midterms are proof of that fact.

Up until now, there was only the informed liberal commentariat to rebut the argument. Unfortunately, despite a constant barrage of facts from my like-minded brethren, there was no change in tone from conservatives. Liberals on political boards had to resign themselves to the notion that they represented a small sliver of the electorate that paid close attention and the general public were mindlessly lapping up the sour milk of the Right Wing. We begrudgingly accepted that November will be a drubbing for Democrats because people, despite all evidence to the contrary, believe the GOP’s plans make sense.

As it turns out, that’s simply not the case. A new poll from National Journal and Congressional Connections find that Republican proposals for the country are wildly unpopular, virtually across the board. You can check the link and look at the numbers for yourself, but suffice to say, the people are certainly not buying what the wingnuts are selling. So why in the world do all indicators point to a Republican victory in the fall?

I think most of the reason is the economy; Democrats are in charge and the economy still sucks. Never mind that the hole Republicans dug over 8 years (12 if you count congressional control) is simply too deep to be remedied after only two. In a two-party system such as ours, the primary way to register discontent with the party in power is to vote for the other one. It doesn’t matter that Republican policy put us in this position. People are angry and “the other guy” is, for many, the only option.

Another part of the problem is that Republican policy is big on sound-byte quality and short on substance. “Lower taxes” sounds great until you explain just how ludicrously low our tax rates are and how the wealthy hardly pay a sliver. “Lower deficit” sound sensible until you explain just how complex the subject is, factor in the cost of tax cuts for the über-rich and military spending, and remind people of just which party spent like drunken sailors during their reign (indeed, every time they get control).

Add in a couple of nebulous buzzwords like freedom and honor and small business and people start to respond to the message, even at the expense of their own common sense. Much like Jimmy Carter’s much derided “malaise speech” spelled the death knell for his presidency (the veracity of his words notwithstanding) so too do Americans today bristle at the cold, hard truth. In order to make this country great again, it’s going to involve sacrifice. Americans love the idea of sacrifice, just not so much the practice. And the GOP, for their part, have updated the feel-good message of Morning in America with a new twist: fear. If we don’t elect them, morning in America is gone for good, most likely in a giant blaze of Muslim  socialist fascism (whatever the hell that is).

It’s a potent mix and helps explain why polls show Republican gains even though people don’t like the policies they propose to enact. Personally, I’m not sold on the idea that America as a whole isn’t smarter than all that, the polls are skewed by lazy reporting and shoddy methodology,  and the GOP victory celebrations are a bit premature. It certainly would be a breath of fresh air to see the country fully reject (again) the giant lie that has been the Republican platform for the past two thirty years. It also doesn’t help that a sizable swath of the Democratic party is cowering in the face of all this fear when they are actually in a prime position to capitalize on Republican over-reach.

However, what all this actually means for the midterms is yet to be determined. It’s up to progressives to keep fighting, to make our voices heard louder than ever before, to tout facts and accomplishments as if they were Molotov cocktails and beat back the prevarication wave. As the primary season winds down in advance of the general election, there are quite a few crazies representing the Right in November. If we can keep our heads, then outright insanity coupled with broad dislike for Republican policy might help ensure negligible losses in the midterm. If the people do go on to pull the lever for R (as mind-boggling as it may be), then we regroup and look forward to 2012. If anything, the poll assures us that even if the GOP regains control, the country won’t be too pleased with where they plan to take the country.