Cannibal Dance

Congress, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

So the House is in chaos, and John Boehner may be Speaker awhile longer. As I write this the talking heads are saying that Paul Ryan is the Man of the Hour who will take the Speaker position and bring order out of chaos. But Ryan says he doesn’t want the job, possibly because even he isn’t that stupid.

This is especially true since the base has turned on Ryan, according to this article by Sophia Tesfaye.  Word has come down from the likes of Erick Erickson, the Breitbrats, David Horowitz, Laura Ingraham, and some members of the House Freedom Caucus that Ryan is another “centrist” like Boehner. Erickson wrote,

Paul Ryan has been the brains behind most of the fiscal deals John Boehner has cut with Barack Obama. Then there are his votes.

While in Congress, he voted for No Child Left Behind, the Prescription Drug Benefit, TARP, caps on CEO pay, the AIG bill, the GM bailout, the debt ceiling, and now the fiscal cliff. In fact, Paul Ryan is one of less than a dozen Republican congressmen to have voted for every bailout to come before Congress.

Paul Ryan is a creature of Washington. He worked on Capitol Hill, worked in a think tank, then went back as a congressman. He speaks Washingtonese with the best of them.

It’s the House Freedom Caucus causing the chaos, it appears. It was the Freedom Caucus that drove Kevin McCarthy out of the running.

Who are the Freedom Caucus? I think Josh Marshall sums them up best:

Quite simply they’ve actually convinced themselves that they’re in the midst of some grand world historical moment when in fact they’re just floundering in derp.

To me, they’re also something like the Jacobins, except they are right-wing and a lot dumber. Nobody is pure enough for them. Like the Jacobins, they are so ideologically rigid they are consuming themselves and sending their Robespierres to the guillotine, so to speak.

To fully appreciate what I’m talking about, read this article by Jedd Legum, This Document Reveals Why The House Of Representatives Is In Complete Chaos. A few snips:

For example, the document seeks a commitment from the next speaker to tie any increase in the debt ceiling to cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. …

… The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to not funding the government at all unless President Obama (and Senate Democrats) agree to defund Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and a host of other priorities. This is essentially the Ted Cruz strategy which prompted at 16-day shutdown in 2013. This would now be enshrined as the official policy of the Speaker Of The House.

The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to oppose any “omnibus” bill that would keep the government running. Rather, funding for each aspect of government could only be approved by separate bills. This would allow the Republicans to attempt to finance certain favored aspects of government (the military), while shuttering ones they view as largely unnecessary (education, health).

As Jedd Legum also explains,

Any potential speaker needs the support of 218 Republicans on the floor of the House. There are currently 247 Republicans in the House. That’s a large majority but without the Freedom Caucus, no candidate can get to 218.

In other words, the Freedom Caucus has the rest of the House Republicans by their boy parts.

The Freedom Caucus hounded McCarthy to drop out, partly by spreading an unsupported rumor that he was having an affair. They couldn’t just disagree with him; they had to destroy him.

Seems to me the only way the impasse may be broken is for some of the less-demented Republicans to work out a deal with Democrats in order to get to 218 votes.

What’s also hysterical about the current madness is that some parts of the media still cling to the view that both sides are just as bad. Yeah, the Right is crazy, but Bernie Sanders.

Scott Lemieux writes, “The Freecom Caucus’s reason for being is to threaten to destroy the country unless the president agrees to destroy the country.” He also said,

I know that this Green Lanternism is not unique to the right per se.  There are people on the left who thought that Congress could have unilaterally ended the Iraq War in 2007 or that the Democratic minority in the Senate could have serially rejected Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.  There are also people on the left who believe that had Obama demanded single payer Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson would have had no choice but to vote for a Medicare buy-in.   But 1) these are generally obscure People on the Internet Somewhere, not the core of the Democratic caucus in Congress, and 2) they at least support the use of completely irrational tactics to advance desirable ends.

The Freedom Caucus is genuinely frightening. Charles Pierce:

There are all kinds of chickens coming home to roost. This development – which, I would point out, leaves Jason Chaffetz (R-Zygote) as the “moderate” choice for Speaker of the House, and third in line to be president of the United States – is the final justification for all of us who have been saying for a while now that there is no “extreme” wing of the Republican party any more. The prion disease has taken full hold of the party’s higher functions. It is already being bruited about the monkeyhouse that Chaffetz may not be pure enough to satisfy the Freedom Caucus, the claque of angry gossoons who sank McCarthy the moment that McCarthy told the truth about what the House is up to with its hearings on Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI!

Like the Jacobins they’ll destroy themselves eventually, but they’re going to cause a lot of damage and suffering first.



Is the Libertarian Moment Over?

Libertarians, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Rand Paul’s presidential bid is all but over. He hasn’t announced dropping out yet, but he’s at 1 percent to 3 percent in the various polls. Reports say he is putting more time and effort into his re-election campaign for the Senate.

Current polls say the front runners for the GOP nomination are Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Marco Rubio, usually in that order. (A very recent Investors’ Business Daily / TIPP poll has Carson ahead of Trump and Rubio ahead of Fiorina, but it’s Investors’ Business Daily.)

What does this tell us about the Republican base?

I have yet to figure out the appeal of Ben Carson, unless people have persuaded themselves he can steal the coveted Black Vote from the Democrats. He may be attracting the evangelical / culture warrior vote, but that’s the only explanation I can think of.

Fiorina doesn’t stand for anything except Fiorina. What stands on issues she has taken are all GOP boilerplate, and she’s failed to say much about many domestic issues, such as social security. So her appeal can’t have anything to do with issues. She has recently added an “answers” feature to her website, in which one may ask a question about her stand on an issue and get “answers.” I typed in “what do you plan for social security,” but none of the “answers” that came up had anything to do with social security. I did learn she plans to get tough with China, though.

That leaves us with Trump and Rubio. Trump is clearly the least libertarian candidate in the field. He’s essentially promising to be a dictator and get stuff done by ordering it done. Rubio seems to be the only conventional politician with a shot at the moment, possibly because he’s not Jeb!, who is fifth in all the recent polls.

Anyhoo — Awhile back libertarian-leaning Republicans were certain that a small-government, pro-liberty, Randian economics libertarian position represented the future of Republicanism. But it seems the base didn’t get that memo. They want a tough guy (or Fiorina) who will be dictator and break heads and get tough with foreign people. Oh, and they want someone who will stick it to liberals.

A month ago Michael Lind wrote that Donald Trump’s popularity among the teabaggers exposed them for what they are — not “small government” freedom fighters but old-fashioned right-wing populists.

Think William Jennings Bryan or Huey Long, not Ayn Rand. Tea Partiers are less upset about the size of government overall than they are that so much of it is going to other people, especially immigrants and nonwhites. They are for government for them and against government for Not-Them.

Today, Conor Lynch writes,

Trump has vindicated the left’s suspicion that the Tea Party is not a small government libertarian movement, but a kind of white-identity populism akin to the 1960s reactionary movement led by politicians like George Wallace. Right-wing populists have long been dubious of foreigners, immigrants, minorities and elitists — both in the intellectual and monied sense. Sound familiar?

Trump has taken advantage of the fears and insecurities of a significant portion of white Americans, who see the influx of non-white immigrants — Hispanic, Asian, Muslim — as a threat to their way of life. In their view, Muslims are terrorists (i.e., Syrian refugees are members of ISIS — even though half are children), Mexicans are rapists and job-stealers, foreigners are cheaters, black people are lazy, and so on. They also distrust intellectuals and experts. Consider, for example, the denial of scientific realities like climate change and evolution. Even though the vast majority of scientists agree that human beings are warming the planet with their carbon output, most Republican supporters simply refuse to believe. Overall, the Tea Party movement appears to be a combination of white-identity politics and anti-intellectualism.

This is not exactly earth-shattering news for most of you, of course. I think the only ones caught by surprise are actual libertarians.


Carly Fiorina, Parasite

Demon Sheep, Republican Party

The Washington Post reports that Carly Fiorina is a deadbeat. For example, her pollster in her failed 2010 Senate campaign, Joe Shumate, died about a month before the election. Fiorina praised Shumate as the “heart and soul” of her campaign. She offered “sincere condolences” to his widow.

But records show there was something that Fiorina did not offer his widow: Shumate’s last paycheck, for at least $30,000. It was one of more than 30 invoices, totaling about $500,000, that the multimil­lionaire didn’t settle — even as Fiorina reimbursed herself nearly $1.3 million she lent the campaign. She finally cleared most of the balance in January, a few months before announcing her run for president.

“Occasionally, I’d call and tell her she should pay them,” said Martin Wilson, Fiorina’s former campaign manager, who found Shumate after the pollster collapsed from a heart attack. “She just wouldn’t.”

Note that Fiorina and her husband have a net worth of $59 million. The $500,000 is pocket change to them.

The article continues by documenting mismanagement of money by the Fiorina Senate campaign, and then gets back to the vendors she still owes.

Those who waited the longest to be paid were small businesses with a few dozen employees who did the grunt work of the campaign: building stages, sending out mailers, selling polling data. And at least one is still waiting.

Jon Seaton, the managing partner of East Meridian Strategies, confirmed that his group billed Fiorina’s campaign for $18,000 on Oct. 6, 2010, for printing 21,290 mailers.

A Fiorina staff member wired money for the postage immediately and promised the remaining $9,000 “early next week,” according to e-mails obtained by The Washington Post.

Six weeks went by and nothing came. So Seaton asked again. Then again. As of last week, he said he was still waiting.

Several other vendors weren’t paid until early this year.

This is my favorite part of the article:

Fiorina, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment. Her supporters say the criticism was misplaced.

“People are just upset and angry and throwing her under the bus,” said Jon Cross, Fiorina’s operations director for her Senate campaign. “If we didn’t win, why do you deserve to get paid? If you don’t succeed in business, you shouldn’t be the first one to step up and complain about getting paid.”

She’s not talking about campaign managers here. She’s talking about the vendor who printed and bulk mailed her fliers. Nobody is saying the fliers weren’t printed correctly or that they weren’t mailed on time.

Her supporters cautioned that little could be gleaned from her California campaign. They maintain that Fiorina’s corporate experience is more akin to managing a presidential campaign than a bid for office in one of the nation’s most liberal states.

The liberal California sun warped their brains and made them see demon sheep?

“We know many people didn’t win their first election, so I think you should never overstate that fact,” said Sue Ellspermann, Indiana’s lieutenant governor and a Fiorina supporter. “And I wonder if that fact would be a perceived disqualifier if she was not female. Ben Carson and Donald Trump have never run for anything.”

Yeah, that’s it — people are just picking on Carly because she’s a woman. If a man had run the demon sheep ad and had not paid vendors after five years, no one would care.

Anyone who’s freelanced has run into people who simply don’t pay you for the work you’ve done for them, and in my experience the wealthy businessmen and major corporations are the worst deadbeats.  They know they can get away with not paying, because small business vendors and individual contractors have no power. Makes me crazy.


Why We Can’t Reason Together


The headline at Raw Story — Armed vet destroys gun nuts’ argument on mass shooters — is both true and irrelevant. The story is about a military vet who was carrying a concealed weapon — legally, it so happens — on Oregon’s Umpqua Community College campus Thursday during the shooting. And he says he decided to not intervene because a police SWAT team might have mistaken him for the shooter.

This tells us (a) the campus was not a “gun-free zone,” and (b) an armed populace is not necessarily safer than an unarmed one. But this is irrelevant, because the Right will ignore it.

Regarding the “gun free zone” argument, Shannon Barber writes at Addicting Info:

As we try to get our bearings again after yet another tragic mass shooting at the hands of a madman, as per usual, gun nuts everywhere are screaming “MORE GUNS!” and blaming the Umpqua Community College Campus for being a gun free zone. They blame everything except the real problem: that we need stricter laws regarding who can and cannot purchase firearms.

Well, there’s just one problem with those arguments this time around. The Umpqua campus allows concealed carry, and, according to students and other people affiliated with the school, plenty of people take advantage of it as well. According to John Parker, a student at the school and a veteran of the armed forces, he knows plenty of students who carry on campus; in fact, he was carrying the day of the shooting.

But it won’t matter. I predict the Right will continue to claim that “gun free zones” are especially susceptible to gun violence, and even that all mass shooter incidents have taken place in “gun free zones.” Even those who acknowledge the armed vet story will not let the truth sink in.

I give you Jazz Shaw at Hot Air, who is far from the dumbest or craziest writer on the rightie side of the Web. But he simply refuses to think outside the rightie box. Here is Shaw’s understanding of the pro-gun control side of the issue —

From the liberal, gun grabbing side of the discussion there is one remedy which would – eventually – cut down on mass shootings. It involves eliminating all of the guns on the planet. Owing to the fact that the majority of Americans still value gun rights and view private gun ownership as a positive force in protecting themselves from evil, Democrats are loathe to say the words out loud, but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t like to see it happen. Unfortunately, the gun genie is out of the bottle. By removing all guns from existence you would certainly eliminate the threat of mass shootings. Sadly, the transition period would be ugly indeed because the first and easiest guns to confiscate would belong to law abiding owners. Rooting out all of the black market weapons would be a generational effort, leaving the lawful population in the position of being inviting, soft targets for criminals for decades. Then there is the inconvenient fact that guns aren’t only made in America. They are all over the world, and as long as there was a demand in the criminal marketplace the market would find a way to fill it.

In other words, he dismisses gun control arguments by substituting a straw man. Not one of the major gun control advocacy groups is calling for a total ban. He has no idea what the actual gun control arguments are, how effective gun control works in the real world, and no way in hell will he ever be persuaded to look.

As to the rightie side, after the usual demands for more more more guns guns guns, Shaw says,

I’m aware that the left is attempting to make hay out of the fact that there was one “good guy with a gun” on campus on the day of the shooting and he didn’t stop the slaughter. This isn’t even a data point in the discussion. The individual in question – a veteran who was carrying when the shooting took place – could have intervened if he’d chosen, but the fact is that he decided not to. It wasn’t his job to act as security guard and if he decided not to risk his life in a shootout with Mercer I’m not here to second guess him. That doesn’t mean that an armed guard or teacher couldn’t have shut the situation down quickly. And if Mercer had known that a lot more students were armed he might not have shown up at all.

But Mercer had attended classes at Umpqua, so he must have known that the campus was not gun free, and that “plenty of students carry on campus.” And  notice how Shaw brushes aside the veteran’s reason for not stepping in — he wasn’t afraid of a shootout with the perp; he reasoned that he could have been shot by law enforcement who didn’t know who he was.

In fact, armed citizens have been present at a number of mass shootings, and it made no difference.  From an article published after Sandy Hook in 2012:

In fact, there was an armed sheriff’s deputy at Columbine High School the day of the shooting. There was an armed citizen in the Clackamas Mall in Oregon during a shooting earlier this month. There was an armed citizen at the Gabby Giffords shooting — and he almost shot the unarmed hero who tackled shooter Jared Loughner. Virtually every university in the county already has its own police force. Virginia Tech had its own SWAT-like team. As James Brady, Ronald Reagan’s former press secretary cum gun control advocate, often notes, he was shot along with the president, despite the fact that they were surrounded by dozens of heavily armed and well-trained Secret Service agents and police.

The Right will not acknowledge facts, nor will they ever give gun control data and arguments a fair hearing. Never. Their lips will dry up and fall off their faces first.

See also Obama, Guns, and the Politics of Hoplessness and Four Pro-Gun Arguments We’re Sick of Hearing.


What’d I Say?


I wrote yesterday that the Interwebs already were concocting a story about Christians being shot in the head in Oregon yesterday, and that we could expect to see persecution complexes on steroids today. Sure enough, today the New York Post is reporting that the gunman of yesterday’s Oregon shooting singled out Christians for execution. This is based on the testimony of two people who are relatives of people they claimed were in the school who may or may not have been witnesses.  But the people repeating this story were not in the school themselves.

Note that people who actually were there are saying the gunman asked people about their religion — he did not specify Christianity — but then shot indiscriminately.

Again, this takes us back to the famous Cassie Bernall story, who allegedly was shot and killed at Columbine because she acknowledged believing in God. Bernall was shot and killed, but more careful investigation revealed that Cassie Bernall didn’t say bleep; it was another young woman who said she believed in God, and that girl survived. Even so, most right-wing Christians still believe the Cassie Bernall story. And some Freepers are blaming President Obama for inciting the killings with his hostility to Christianity.

Barring further corroborating testimony, odds are there was no singling out of Christians for execution; this is a story that emerged from hysteria.

Media outlets pushing the “Christian martyrdom” story are painting the perpetrator, Chris Harper-Mercer, as “hating religion.” But wait … Pam Geller believes the deceased Harper-Mercer was a jihadi. He was asking his victims about their religion so he could killed non-Muslims.  (Steve M has links; I’m not linking to Geller here.) Another right-wing whackjob has confirmed that Harper-Mercer was a jihadi.

On the other hand, several reports say that Harper-Mercer was obsessed with the Irish Republican Army. Yeah, IRA, ISIS, hard to tell the difference.

The portrait of Harper-Mercer emerging on sites like Raw Story and We Hunted the Mammoth is of another Elliot Rodger, the guy full of rage at women. We don’t yet know anything about the victims, however. We do know that Harper-Mercer was white, conservative, and liked to hang out on websites frequented by isolated and badly socialized men who fantasize about sex, death and glory.

Oh, and while pro-unlimited firearm freedom types are outraged that anyone would politicize this tragedy to talk about gun control, they didn’t hesitate to call for looser gun laws that would eliminate so-called “gun free zones.”

However, Umpqua Community College was not a gun-free zone, a little detail I don’t expect to see, ever, on right-wing media.

So what else is not new?


In the Land of the Free

Obama Administration

A gunman killed at least thirteen people at a community college in Oregon today. So far we don’t know anything about the shooter.

What we do know: This afternoon the White House expressed frustration that nothing ever gets done about gun control. Naturally, the Federalist screamed that the White House had “politicized” the shootings. Because, you know, guns are not a political issue otherwise. And we’re not supposed to talk about gun control after a mass shooting, which happens frequently enough to keep us all permanently mute.

In another Adventure in Freedom, a woman who went public with her abortion story was forced into hiding after her address was published on line and the death threats began to pour in. Nothing says freedom like being able to terrorize people you don’t like into shutting up, I guess.

Update: Oh, please … already the rumors are starting that the shooter asked people if they were Christian, and shot them in the head when they said yes. This is based on a news report that the shooter asked people to state their religion, but the news report says he was shooting people randomly. In web forums this is turning into an account of people being shot in the head if they said they were Christian. Shades of Cassie Bernall, the so called “she said yes” martyr from Columbine, who actually didn’t say yes at all. That was something someone imagined.

By tomorrow the Christianists on Fox News will be absolutely wallowing in martyrdom, just in time for the “war on Christmas” season.


The Crash and Burn Party

Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

First, enjoy the highlights of Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards congressional testimony yesterday:

Charles Pierce explains how the Democratic Republic of Congo got mixed up in this:

You may be baffled by the sudden appearance in the colloquy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, arguably the worst place in the world right now. What the fck does Chaffetz care about the DRC? That’s because you do not spend 20 hours a day marinating in the right-wing media crackpot crockpot. Here are the ingredients: a) the fact that the DRC is a nightmarish place where children are forced into prostitution and trafficked freely; b) that there is AN E-MAIL! that revealed that Bill Clinton once did not speak at an event at which Joseph Kabila, the vampirish leader of the DRC would be in attendance, and c) PP is active there in trying to make sure that the women caught up in an epidemic of brutal sexual violence stay relatively healthy and that they do not get pregnant by their rapists if they do not want to do so. It’s Fetus-Fondling Bingo. Oh, and by the way, the staunchly red state of Missouri concluded its investigation of Planned Parenthood’s activities in that state.

Like the several other states that have investigated Planned Parenthood since the hoax videos came out, Missouri found nothing.

Conventional wisdom says that right-wing crackpot Kevin McCarthy will be the next Speaker. McCarthy is expected to become the next John Boehner in other ways as well. Norman Ornstein writes,

The major issue in our current dysfunction is the struggle within a Republican Party that is not the traditional battle between moderates and conservatives — there are no moderates any more to speak of — but between radical insurgents and right-wing realists. The realists, like Boehner, understand that divided government requires compromise; the radicals’ credo is “never give up, never surrender.”

Paradoxically, the radicals were encouraged in those views by establishment conservatives who channeled their anger and outrage into House and Senate G.O.P. majorities in 2010 and 2014 by promising that they could defeat Obama and along the way bring him to his knees; the radical outrage now has been amplified by the failure of those promises. Boehner’s departure does not heal the breach; it enhances it. Radicals have won, forcing Boehner out. Now the big target will be Mitch McConnell, and Boehner’s successor, almost certainly Kevin McCarthy, won’t be far behind.

McCarthy is as right-wing as they come, but news stories say he’s a “pragmatist,” meaning he has a dim idea that reactionary Republicans are unlikely to gain absolute power by throwing temper tantrums. This will be McCarthy’s doom.  Gary Legum:

If McCarthy wants an example of what can happen to a congressional leader who makes promises to the extreme conservatives and then doesn’t deliver, he should look not to his friend John Boehner but to one of his co-authors of the 2010 book “Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders.” The cover of that book shows McCarthy smiling with Rep. Paul Ryan and then-House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, a one-time Tea Party favorite who helped hold the Republican coalition together to fight every legislative initiative proposed by the Obama administration. Then he was booted from office by a hardcore conservative named David Brat, who promised to not only fight Obama, but also roll back his legislative successes.

That there is no plausible path to this goal so long as the Republicans do not have a filibuster- or veto-proof majority in the Senate, or while Obama and his veto pen remain in the White House, does not dissuade Brat and like-minded conservatives, who still think Republicans can force the president to sign legislation repealing all of his accomplishments if they only try super-duper really extra hard.

Currently McCarthy’s chief rival is Daniel Webster of Florida, who unfortunately is not THE Daniel Webster. The new Daniel Webster is arguably a worse whackjob than McCarthy:

Webster’s association with IBLP and its homeschooling program, the Advanced Training Institute, made national headlines when he first ran for Congress in 2010. Alan Grayson, the firebrand incumbent Democrat, criticized Webster, who had served 28 years in the Florida legislature, in an ad characterizing him as “Taliban Dan.” The ad showed clips from a Webster speech to an IBLP conference during which he spoke of a biblical command that wives submit to their husbands. Webster, who went on to win the election, insisted the clips were taken out of context.

IBLP also is opposed to public education, contraception, “humanistic” laws, and rock music.


Nobody Knows Anything

conservatism, Republican Party

Whatever is going on in U.S. politics has gone completely out of bounds of all the known knowns and unknown knowns and known unknowns and whatever other combination of confusion one could put together. We’re all in uncharted territory here.

Ezra Klein writes that the parties appear to have completely lost control of the nomination process. Many of you, like me, are old enough to remember when the nominee was chosen in backroom deals at party conventions. Now Citizens United and new media technology has made parties close to irrelevant to who walks away with the prize.

Regarding Republicans: Although most of the beltway media tribe are as oblivious as ever, Frank Bruni (seriously?) is beginning to notice something is out of whack.

[Republicans] have become the party of brinkmanship, the party of imminent credit defaults, the party of threatened shutdowns, the party that won’t pass a proper transportation bill, the party that is suddenly demonizing the Export-Import Bank, the party of “no,” the party of ire, the party that casts even someone as unquestionably conservative as John Boehner in the role of apostate, simply because he knows the difference between fights that can be won and those that can’t, between standing on principle and shooting yourself in the foot.

Let it not be forgot that Bruni has been a leader of the both-sides-are-just-as-bad tribe for some time.

Conventional wisdom says that John Boehner’s resignation puts an end to any shutdown over Planned Parenthood, because the Crazy Caucus won’t be able to threaten him with a coup any more. However, conventional wisdom also says that What Comes Next will be worse for President Obama and Mitch McConnell.  But Josh Marshall disagrees.

This is a basic misunderstanding of the dynamics of the situation, actually a fundamental one – based again on the assumption that the only thing standing in the way of the House “Freedom Caucus” and right wing glory is that they haven’t shut the government down enough, or haven’t voted to repeal Obamacare enough. Was John Boehner really running interference for President Obama, shielding him from the ferocious fury of the right wing of the House caucus or was he frequently bending over backwards to find ways to avoid House nutballs from inflicting even more damage on the party’s national standing?

The latest brouhaha was about whether or not to shut the government down over defunding Planned Parenthood. Note today’s Quinnipiac Poll which shows that Americans oppose shutting down the government over defunding Planned Parenthood by a 69% to 23% margin. Even Republicans oppose it by a 56% to 36% margin. The opposition to this is broad based and overwhelming. It has all the kinetics and logic of driving 100 miles an hour into a reinforced cement wall.

Gerrymandering pretty much guarantees the GOP will hang on to the House at least until 2020, Josh M. continues. So they think they’re invincible. But if the hard Right in the House is allowed to charge ahead in all of its irrational glory and cause one crisis after another to force its will, this is unlikely to particularly hurt President Obama, or Democrats.

Whether it would hurt Republicans remains to be seen; the pattern we’ve seen over the past several years is that when one layer of crazy comes apart, an even crazier layer is revealed. Apparently the “fix” for the failures of extremist conservatism is even more radical extremist conservatism.

The question in my mind is, how far is this going to go? Nothing continues forever. The trajectory will fail, eventually. I’m sure I’ve mentioned the Taoist view that all things carry the seeds of their own destruction. The question is, how long? And, when the collapse comes, will our political institutions be strong enough to adjust? Or have extremism and corruption made them too vulnerable to stand?


Please Proceed, Jeb!

The Smarter Brother

Jeb! has told us we common folk need to work longer hours and retire later. Now comes his pitch for the African American vote:

Bush pointed to his record on school choice and said that if Republicans could double their share of the black vote, they would win the swing states of Ohio and Virginia.

“Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” he said at the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club annual Shrimp Dinner. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

Yes, the “free stuff” line worked so well for Mittens four years ago. And let me add that’s it’s just too rich for a Bush to be chiding others about achieving “earned success.”

Update: I didn’t see this coming — John Boehner will resign from Congress in October.


His Holiness the Troll

Obama Administration

Pope Francis spoke to the House today, and he spoke of caring for the poor, taking care of the earth, and abolishing the death penalty. It was a lovely speech, made better by invoking American icons like Lincoln and MLK. Here is the conclusion:

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

Who could argue with that? Do you have to ask? Conservatives are having a fit.

Steven “Cantaloupe Calves” King must be disappointed.  This is what he said a couple of days ago:

Conservative Rep. Steve King (R-IA) this week urged Pope Francis to steer away from the “politics” of climate change and income inequality during his Thursday address to Congress, and instead focus on issues King deems more appropriate for the Catholic church: abortion and marriage.

So, climate change and income inequality are “politics” but reproductive rights and marriage equality are not “politics.” I’m glad he cleared that up.

Today he said,

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said Pope Francis’ call to welcome immigrants to the country with open arms in his address to Congress on Thursday shows the Catholic leader doesn’t understand the necessity of national borders or the idea of nation states.

Because it’s more polite to suggest His Holiness is a simpleton rather than mistaken.

His Holiness avoided abortion except to mention “our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” at which point, Charles Pierce says, “the zygote-fondling caucus went wild.” But when Pope Francis immediately pivoted abolishing the death penalty, “You could feel the air go out of the congresscritters who’d leaped to their feet. Both of Trey Gowdy’s faces fell.”

Ted Cruz actually said that he’s against abolishing the death penalty, because “the death penalty is a recognition of the preciousness of human life.” Seriously, he said that.

I wasn’t watching, but this news story says Republicans gave the speech muted applause, while the Dems gave it a standing ovation.  Bernie Sanders was thrilled the Pope mentioned Dorothy Day, btw. On the whole it was rather a lefty speech, which is to say it was humane and compassionate and dealt with real-world life.

The Breitbrats are annoyed with His Holiness for suggesting that the purpose of a legislature is to take care of the common good.

The Pope continued that Congressional authority sprang from the need to pursue the “common good,” adding, “legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.”

In Constitutional terms, this is plainly untrue. Legislative authority does not spring from care for the people, but from the consent of the people and non-violation of their rights.

The part about “called and convened by those who elected you” seems to have escaped the Breitbrat who wrote this, who went on to say that what the Pope suggests would lead to tyranny. Heaven forbid that We, the People should expect our legislators to be concerned with the general welfare of We, the People.

See also “Angry Conservatives Insist Pope Francis Is a Fake Christian” by David Horsey.

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