Browsing the archives for the Wingnuts Being Wingnuts category.

All Your Billionaires Are Belong to Us

Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

John Hinderacker the Power Tool is livid that there’s a billionaire out there who has pledged support to … Democrats. This is unnatural; it violates the God-ordained order of things.

Billionaire hedge fund operator and “green” energy magnate Tom Steyer has pledged $100 million in the 2014 election cycle to help Democratic candidates who oppose the Keystone pipeline and who favor “green” energy over fossil fuels. Steyer claims to be a man of principle who has no financial interest in the causes he supports, but acts only for the public good. That is a ridiculous claim: Steyer is the ultimate rent-seeker who depends on government connections to produce subsidies and mandates that make his “green” energy investments profitable.

I don’t know John Steyer and have no idea where his head is. It may very well be that he’s taken a good, hard look at the world and reality and decided that, sooner or later, fossil fuel energy will be as extinct as the dodo and that the future will be green, and he might as well prepare himself to cash in.

To which I say, good for him. Imagine what the world would be like if the Koch Brothers suddenly had the same epiphany. Among other things, they’d stop subsidizing climate change denialism, and then maybe we’d actually be able to do something to, you know, save the planet. See, for example, Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks; Who Funds Contrariness on Climate Change? and Inside Koch’s Climate Denial Machine.

And by the way

Koch Brothers likes to champion themselves as crusaders against the welfare state. But a new report shows that they took $88 million of your taxpayer dollars while demanding that governments stop wasting taxpayer dollars. In total, $110 billion goes out to corporate welfare projects from state and local authorities. This does not even include money coming from federal sources.

In other words, the Tool is angry that Steyer is doing exactly what the Koch Brothers are doing, except he’s doing in a way that benefits Democrats. It’s unnatural, I tell you … Although I do find it amusing that a tool like the Tool uses the term “rent-seeker” as an insult. He sounds almost like a socialist.


The GOP Crazy Arcade

Obama Administration, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Most of the reviews of the SOTU coming from non-rightie media are describing it with words like “cautious,” “modest” and “conciliatory,” which tells me I didn’t miss anything interesting. According to the wingnuts, of course, the President as “Kommandant-In-Chef” — something like that hot-tempered British fellow who stars in all those cooking shows on cable, perhaps — announced tanks in the street and a new Politburo of Central Planning.

“The world is literally about to blow up,” Lindsey Graham (R-Drama Queen) said.

There were four Republican responses, two official and two not. Sensitive to the fact that women laugh at them but incapable of comprehending why, the Party called on two women representatives — Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Stockholm Syndrome) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (likewise) to give Republican responses in English and Spanish. The womenfolk were assigned the task of sounding sane and reasonable without getting into specifics, and I don’t doubt they carried out their mission. But it seems the guys went their own way.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Bagger), who appointed himself to speak for the Tea Party, has noticed that “income inequality” is the new new buzz phrase, and he spoke of it in spite of not being entirely sure what it is.

“Today, Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the ‘American Dream’ is falling out of reach for far too many of us,” Lee said. “We are facing an inequality crisis — one to which the President has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting.”

“But where does this new inequality come from? From government — every time it takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats and special interests.”

“Special interests,” like, I don’t know, the 1 percent, perhaps? OK, senator, and you keep favoring special interests, because . . .?

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Rand Paul) gave his own response, which I understand was videoed before the White House had even released the text of the SOTU. Paul evoked Ronald Reagan, blamed the 2008 financial meltdown on the Federal Reserve, and promised economic utopia through “economic freedom zones,” a plan that’s been tried already and doesn’t seem to work.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Looney Tunes) had a meltdown on Maddow’s show after he was called out for some Tweets he posted while the President was speaking. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Flunked Anger Management) threatened to break a reporter “in half.”

And Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Pure Unadulterated Bullshit) today is in the Wall Street Journal waxing sad about the “imperial presidency.” Do we want to talk about “obstruction,” and “refusing to govern,” Senator?


Fickle Fingers of Fate

Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

I’ve passed the 15,000 words mark in the ebook, and I think it’s going to take me another 10,000 words to say everything I want to say, although probably not more than that. So it’s cooking.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of things to read together. Charles Pierce quotes a Romney fundraiser who is still angry about “the hug” between Chris Christie and President Obama after Hurricane Sandy. The fundraiser thinks “the hug” gave the election to Obama. Pierce writes,

Part of me wants to point out that, apparently, the utterly self-centered cluelessness of the candidate spread pretty widely throughout all levels of the Romney campaign. (Christie was supposed to let his constituents fight each other for bottled water rather than accept help from the federal government? People on the Jersey Shore were supposed to live in lean-to’s until Willard closed on that new place in D.C.?) Part of me wants to point out that this is yet another indication that the prion disease afflicting the collective brain of the Republican party rages unabated. But a much bigger part of me wants to laugh and laugh until I fall down.

The point being that the clueless wonders who supported Romney never understood that elections are about governing. The whole governing thing seems to elude them.

At Salon, Elias Isquith argues that Christie’s tendency to stoop to governing now and then, or at least talking about it, is what’s behind the Tea Party’s intense dislike of him.

The difference in framing between how Christie’s describing his job and how, say, Sen. Rand Paul or Sen. Ted Cruz or Rep. Paul Ryan or even Gov. Scott Walker would describe their job is subtle but important. If Paul or Cruz or Ryan or Walker were bragging about their accomplishments in a victory speech — the moment above all others when a politician can “campaign in poetry,” as Gov. Mario Cuomo once said — they wouldn’t wax rhapsodic about their own management of the state. They wouldn’t make the point, as Christie did, that government is there to “give” and “work with” and “work for” its citizens.

On the contrary, they’d say something about “Getting government out of the way” or “Removing government’s barriers to liberty” or “Liberating the American spirit from big government’s red tape.” At most, theirs would be a grudging acknowledgement of the necessity of government, a recognition that much as they’d like to live in a world without an activist state, they’re willing to accept one, reduced to a minimum, all the same. Similarly, while Christie as governor has come to accept Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, and was too smart —and too pragmatic — to continue mounting a doomed bid to stop same-sex marriage from becoming a reality in his state, other top-tier Republicans, the ones the Tea Party actually likes, would more likely flaunt their ideological rigidity and relish the chance to fight a losing battle in the name of true conservative principles.

The rhetoric difference is also the difference between New Jersey and, say, Mississippi. You can’t win a statewide election in New Jersey by promising to shut down abortion clinics or promoting concealed or open carry laws or spouting homophobic nonsense. There’s a strong fiscal conservative streak in New Jersey, however, so yelling about the teacher’s union can get you some votes.

Nevertheless, if Christie hadn’t responded to Hurricane Sandy as he did, the state would have been done with him. He knew that. Everybody in New Jersey knew that. The fact that baggers nationwide can’t even fathom that tells me that Romney supporters aren’t the only ones who are clueless.


Do You Really Want to Talk About U.S. Attorneys, Righties?

Republican Party, U.S. Attorneys, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

When I went to bed last night, conventional wisdom was that Chris Christie was on the ropes. But now I see the Noise Machine magicians have pulled a distraction out of a hat:

CNN, likely reporting on an email received last night from Reince Priebus:

Paul J. Fishman, the U.S. attorney tasked with looking into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s bridge controversy, has donated to several Democratic politicians and organizations, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Most notably, Fishman – who was nominated for the post by President Barack Obama in June 2009 – donated to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign on June 30, 2007. At the time of the contribution, Clinton was battling then-Sen. Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Fishman donated $2,300 to Clinton, according to the FEC.

Steve M says,

You know how this will be spun on the right, don’t you? Eric Holder’s Justice Department is now investigating Christie after refusing to investigate blah blah blah blah blah. Now the right has a liberal enemy in this matter. Game on

Because there’s nothing righties love more than painting themselves as the innocent victims of evil liberal oppression. Yesterday, the baggers saw Christie as a RINO. Within a few hours he’ll be Holy Saint Martyr Christopher of Blessed Persecution, or something.

But do indulge me as I take a little trip in the wayback payback machine to an item in the Maha Archives:

Further into the Kirkpatrick & Rutenberg article we find:

In New Jersey, Mr. Rove helped arrange the nomination of a major Bush campaign fund-raiser who had little prosecutorial experience.

That would be Christopher J. Christie.

Mr. Christie has brought public corruption charges against prominent members of both parties, but his most notable investigations have stung two Democrats, former Gov. James E. McGreevey and Senator Robert Menendez. When word of the latter inquiry leaked to the press during the 2006 campaign, Mr. Menendez sought to dismiss it by tying Mr. Christie to Mr. Rove, calling the investigation “straight out of the Bush-Rove playbook.” (Mr. McGreevey resigned after admitting to having an affair with a male aide and the Menendez investigation has not been resolved.)

Christie’s name popped up in another post from 2007, which led me to this NY Times editorial:

The Justice Department has been saying that it is committed to putting Senate-confirmed United States attorneys in every jurisdiction. But the newly released documents make it clear that the department was making an end run around the Senate — for baldly political reasons. Congress should broaden the investigation to determine whether any other prosecutors were forced out for not caving in to political pressure — or kept on because they did.

There was, for example, the decision by United States Attorney Chris Christie of New Jersey to open an investigation of Senator Bob Menendez just before his hotly contested re-election last November. Republicans, who would have held the Senate if Mr. Menendez had lost, used the news for attack ads. Then there was the career United States attorney in Guam who was removed by Mr. Bush in 2002 after he started investigating the superlobbyist Jack Abramoff. The prosecutor was replaced. The investigation was dropped.

Of course, if you point these inconsistencies out to righties they curl up into a fetal position and play the martyr well enough to make Joan of Arc at the stake look like a slacker.

BTW, the investigation into Menendez was closed by the Justice Department in 2011, but not in a way that made Christie look any less like a bully. Menendez had been collecting rent from a nonprofit community activist organization and had also helped the group secure a lot of federal grant money, so there was an appearance of quid pro quo. This was the matter that triggered the subpoena. But the rental arrangement had been pre-approved by the House Ethics Committee, so it’s not clear to me what Menendez was doing that warranted a subpoena, or that couldn’t have waited until (ahem) after the election.

BTW, the U.S. attorney who was originally assigned the Menendez case was Paul Fishman. But the newly appointed Fishman recused himself because Senator Menendez had backed him for the post.


Hate as a Virtue, Part 2: David Caton and the Florida Family Association

Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Some of you who live in Florida probably have heard of David Caton, but he was new to me. I got wind of him because he is crusading against a Prentice Hall textbook used in a Florida public high school. I worked for Prentice Hall several years ago, and as most of you know I was a worker bee in the textbook industry for a long time, so I nosed around.

The textbook, used in an Advanced Placement class in Brevard County, has a chapter on “Muslim civilization” but nothing about Christianity or Islam. Townhall was on the case

State Rep. Ritch Workman told Fox News the Prentice World History textbook rewrites Islamic history and presents a biased version of the Muslim faith.

“The book has a 36-page chapter on Islam but no chapters on Christianity or Judaism,” Workman said. “It’s remarkably one-sided.”

Caton sent an email alert to his followers:

Prentice Hall’s World History text book with its biased presentation of Islam continues to be used in numerous school districts. The same company that published a high school text book which embellishes Islamists and belittles Judaism and Christianity also has ownership in The Economist, a leading advertiser on Al Jazeera America.

To which a spokesperson for Prentice Hall (currently owned by the British multinational company Pearson) replied:

In Florida, as in other states, Pearson creates custom course materials that align to the state’s specific curriculum standards. Florida’s standards split the world history curriculum into two years of study, in grades 6 and 10. The state’s standards require the sixth grade curriculum start with early civilizations and continue through to the fall of Rome (476 A.D.). In the 10th grade, the state’s high school curriculum begins with the Byzantines (330 A.D.), proceeds to the Early Middle Ages in Europe (500 A.D.) and continues to the present day.

The Florida edition of the Pearson high school World History text aligns to the state’s standards, which require that the high school course include content on the origins of Islam, while the middle school text details the earlier origins of Judaism and Christianity. The Florida Department of Education approved the Pearson World History programs for adoption and validated that the content in our programs meets the requirements and educational goals of the state.

Caton, of course, called this explanation “absurd,” and revealed that one of Pearson’s companies is a “top advertiser” on Al-Jazeera America. Islamist conspiracy!

Seriously, I know the textbook industry. Its only concern is making money selling textbooks. If the state of Florida required them to mention Mickey Mouse on every other page, they would do it.

This also exemplifies why textbook publishers are very, very leery of mentioning religion at all, because no matter how carefully one words the text, it will piss off somebody. And that somebody might be on a textbook approval committee.

But I decided to check out this Caton guy. It turns out that about 30 years ago he published a book about how he had overcome an addiction to pornography and several chemical substances. Since then he got religion and founded the Florida Family Association (“Defending American Values”!), which mostly crusades against tolerance of homosexuals and Muslims. Not surprisingly, the AFF is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Among the FFA’s past projects was trashing the television reality series All-American Muslim, which ran on the TLC cable network for one season, in 2011-2012. The program followed the daily lives of five Lebanese-American Shiia families in Dearborn, Michigan. Caton managed to pressure two advertisers, Lowe’s Home Improvement and, to drop their sponsorship. Samuel Freedman wrote in the New York Times,

It would be upsetting enough if a well-financed, well-organized mass movement had misrepresented a television show, insulted an entire religious community and intimidated a national corporation. What makes the attack on “All-American Muslim” more disturbing — and revealing — is that it was prosecuted by just one person, a person unaffiliated with any established organization on the Christian right, a person who effectively tapped into a groundswell of anti-Muslim bigotry.

“We live in the age of the Internet and a well-organized extreme right,” said Mark Potok, who investigates hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center and has followed Mr. Caton’s activities. “This little man was able to have his voice amplified in huge ways.”

Caton’s Crusade was ridiculed on the Daily Show. (Go to the web page if the clip isn’t working.)

Now David Catton is going after Al-Jazeera America, calling it “Jihad TV.” The FFA claims it has persuaded 138 advertisers to drop advertising on Al-Jazeera.

The relentless Caton also has accused the Tampa Bay police of covering up an “honor killing” The Florida Family Association Islamophobia is being documented by the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). See also the Stop David Caton & Florida Family Association Extremism facebook page, sponsored by American Family Voices.


Live by the Grift; Die by the Grift

Karl Rove, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Richard Viguerie has declared civil war on the Republican establishment and has vowed to root out traitors to the conservative cause, such as Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Reince Priebus. Yes, we weep and we mourn, not so much. But Rod Dreher at The American Conservative is really upset about it.

RINO hunt! This is astonishing, and can only be driven by an ideological mindset so impervious to reality that it would rather destroy political conservatism’s chances of actually running the country than succumb to the least impurity in the ranks. The movement types really do believe that the GOP lost because it was stabbed in the back by its own people at Versailles on Capitol Hill. The GOP tribalism is devolving into a Lord’s Resistance Army conservatism, after the fanatical Ugandan cultists who believe that shea butter and their confidence in God makes them impervious to bullets.

The thing about this dynamic is that the purer the activists make the GOP, the weaker the party becomes, and thus the less likely to achieve policy goals. Which just drives the forces of purgation harder. Ted Cruz rules the Jacobin Republicans now, but he should remember what happened to Robespierre.

I do appreciate the reference to Jacobins. But I doubt very much that Richard Viguerie gives a rodent’s posterior for achieving policy goals. Viguerie is a direct mail tycoon who makes a living by stoking the fears and phobias of the rubes to market ideological snake oil. If Movement Conservatism were ever seen as successful, and the marks got complacent, checks might stop coming in.

Indeed, there is a whole class of grifters on the Right whose incomes depend on keeping the crazy well fed. I’m thinking of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Fox News et al. No doubt Michele Bachmann will become a full-time gifter as soon as she’s out of the House. But there are tons of second- and third-tier gifters, all cashing in nicely.

And why not? If bank robbers rob banks because that’s where the money is, grifters infest the Right because that’s where the gullibility is. People who can be made to believe in death panels can also be sold on dubious investment schemes, survivalist kits and quack arthritis cures. It’s too easy. See especially Rick Perlstein, “The Long Con.”

There are also subcategories of specialized grifters such as the NRA/firearm industry and climate change denialists/petroleum industry. But it’s all of a piece, really.

I wrote recently that the only substantive difference between the “extremists” and the “moderates/establishment” in the Republican Party is that “the ‘moderates’ realize elections have to be won, and the ‘extremists’ don’t know that, or don’t care.” When you look at someone like Ted Cruz, who unlike many others may not be crazy or stupid, one suspects his long game isn’t winning the White House. The long game is making a ton of money. In this country, once you become a reliable supplier of red meat for the Right, you are set for life. Whether you ever actually accomplish anything that’s good for anyone is irrelevant.

The Republican Party set itself up for this, of course, by being willing to sell out anything that might be an actual principle in order to win elections on the cheap (and dirty). I’m sure most of you are aware of the arc of demagoguery that ran from Spiro Agnew to Lee Atwater to Karl Rove. But Frankenstein’s Monster took over the laboratory, and now Karl Rove (who is still making a lot of money, apparently, in spite of his colossal failure in 2012) can’t understand why no one is listening to him.



Hey — Whatever Happened to Burning Obamacare Cards?

Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

You must remember the glorious campaign trotted out last July by the old white farts who run FreedomWorks. They were inspiring young adults across America to print out “Obamacare cards” that resembled Vietnam-era draft cards, and then the young people were to make videos of themselves burning the cards, and this would create the Big Mo of young folks turning their backs on getting health insurance. Because Freedom.

Talk about running up a flag and nobody saluting. After extensive searching I found ONE home-made Obamacare burning video:

The genius who made this says he has been healthy for six years and never needed insurance. Good thing he didn’t burn himself with the blowtorch.

It appears the Burn Obamacare Cards blog at hasn’t been updated since August 30. The original #Burnthecard page now is just a donation page, and the information I was able to read in August is no longer accessible. Maybe you can get to it if you make a donation, but I’m not trying the experiment.

Matt Kibbe was still flogging the idea as recently as September 5 –

I think we struck a nerve. Judging from the left’s hysterical overreaction to FreedomWorks’ “Burn Your Obamacare Card” campaign, this oppressive transfer of wealth from young Americans to the elderly appears to be the Achilles Heel of the new, insanely authoritarian progressive movement.

At some point, even the Koch brothers must have realized we were just laughing at them.


Does the U.S. Need an Intervention?

Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Well, it seems the damnfools are not going to blink, and Boehner is not going to allow a vote on a clean CR. House baggers and other Republicans are downplaying the risk, and Senator Coburn actually said that the U.S. would not default on debt if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. Seriously, he said that.

So the question is, are these people just talking like this for the benefit of the rubes, or do they really believe it? It’s hard to know, but I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility that they are really that stupid.

Krugman today argues that what we’re really looking at is incompetence more than stupidity, and cites something called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. That’s when you’re so incompetent you don’t recognize you are competent incompetent.

From Psychology Today:

The Dunning-Kruger effect describes a cognitive bias in which people perform poorly on a task, but lack the meta-cognitive capacity to properly evaluate their performance. … To be clear, the main reason for the Dunning Kruger effect should not be viewed as lying in a person’s general IQ. Much rather the Dunning Kruger effect seems to arise from the general top-down approach in which people estimate their own performances: In evaluating ourselves, we tend to start with preconceived notions about our general skill and then we integrate these notions into how well we think we are doing on a task.

The top-down effect means that people assume themselves to be competent — or knowledgeable, or smart — and then judge their own competence or expertise based on that assumption. For example,

“The skills needed to produce logically sound arguments, for instance, are the same skills that are necessary to recognize when a logically sound argument has been made. Thus, if people lack the skills to produce correct answers, they are also cursed with an inability to know when their answers, or anyone else’s, are right or wrong. They cannot recognize their responses as mistaken, or other people’s responses as superior to their own.”

It’s not clear to me how the situation described in the paragraph above is substantially different from just being stupid, but let’s go on …

Krugman writes that it should have been obvious there was no way President Obama would be blackmailed into abandoning the Affordable Care Act. That so many Republicans could not understand this, and apparently still can’t, certainly speaks to a profound mental incompetence of some sort.

Krugman continues,

It has been obvious for years that the modern Republican Party is no longer capable of thinking seriously about policy. Whether the issue is climate change or inflation, party members believe what they want to believe, and any contrary evidence is dismissed as a hoax, the product of vast liberal conspiracies.

They actually can’t create policy any more. They don’t seem to grasp that there’s a difference between ideological talking points and actual policy (example).

For a while the party was able to compartmentalize, to remain savvy and realistic about politics even as it rejected objectivity everywhere else. But this wasn’t sustainable. Sooner or later, the party’s attitude toward policy — we listen only to people who tell us what we want to hear, and attack the bearers of uncomfortable news — was bound to infect political strategy, too.

In other words, there was a time that those who spoke for the Republican Party recognized that their bullshit was bullshit. But those days are gone.


Be Afraid

Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

The extraordinary and unprecedented events in Washington — in which a minority faction of extremists is somehow holding the nation hostage to nullify a constitutionally enacted law they don’t like — has inspired some smart people to write some smart things about how something like this could happen in America. And, frankly, most of it is pretty depressing.

First, see Thomas Frank, “Reaching for the pillars: The conservative plan is sabotage.” You must read the whole thing. I started to excerpt some of it, but it’s hard to choose any one part. The “reaching for the pillars” is a reference to the biblical story of Sampson, who destroyed his enemies by pulling down the pillars of their temple, which ended Sampson’s life as well. Years ago the Right set out to destroy American society to keep it from moving left, and they’ll keep at it or die trying. They’ve done so much damage already it probably cannot be reversed.

Then read Charles Pierce discussing the Right’s “campaign of pure vandalism.” He’s echoing many of Thomas Frank’s themes. If you have time, read the rest of what Pierce has written today, too.

If you aren’t depressed enough already, see Matt Yglesias, Juan “Linz’s Bad News for America.” The late Juan Linz was a political scientist who argued that republics governed by a “presidential” system, as opposed to a parliamentary one, are inherently less able to resolve intractable conflicts like the one we’re having now. Matt Yglesias writes,

… his analysis has a disturbing message for residents of the contemporary United States. The current atmosphere of political crisis isn’t a passing fad and it isn’t going to get better. In fact, it’s very likely to get worse. Much worse. And lead to a complete breakdown of constitutional government and the democratic order.

Anne Appelbaum notes one other significant difference between America and just about everyone else — even as a destructive faction is trying to break the rule of law, we’re all sitting around waiting for the rule of law to resolve the problem.

A couple of days ago, an Egyptian tweeted that it was “impressive how everyone in #US follows the law even in the face of extreme political vandalism by an irrational fringe. #Egypt.” His intention was ironic, but actually, he was right. In many parts of the world—in, say, Egypt—an “irrational fringe” group of politicians who tried to subvert the entire political system by overturning a law already confirmed by three branches of government would be called “insurgents” or “coup-plotters” and their behavior would lead to arrest, prison, or worse.

But because Americans, even irrational Americans, no longer use violence to achieve their goals, because this process is still just barely taking place within the outer boundaries of those institutions, and because the protagonists still observe the language if not always the spirit of the law, the result is peaceful. That is indeed impressive. But it is a narrow achievement. Americans are paying a high price for the events of this week, though they may not know it. The cost of shutting down the federal government for a few days or even a few weeks pales in comparison with the damage we are doing not only to the credibility of the United States abroad, but to the credibility of democracy itself.

Seriously, if most of these whackjobs are re-elected next year without facing any consequences for what they’ve done, the rest of us may have to make some very hard choices. Because the nation cannot go on like this.

And if you still see a ray of hope, see Jonathan Chait, “Why the Shutdown Is Leading to Debt Default; or, What Happens When You Take Hostages Without a Plan.”

On a somewhat lighter note, see Joan Walsh, “Angry right gets mad when you accuse it of race-baiting.”

Upate: Martn Wolf, “America flirts with self-destruction


The Extortionists

Congress, Obama Administration, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

The House Republicans still think they will win and the Senate and White House will cave on delaying the ACA for a year.

House Republicans may appear to observers to be pushing the government toward a shutdown, but that’s not even remotely how they see it.

The GOP rank-and-file still believe that the Senate might accept and the White House might sign a one-year delay of Obamacare in exchange for two months of sequester-level spending to briefly stave off a government shutdown.

“How dare you?” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said when reporters asked how the House would respond when the Senate rejected its offer. He grew angrier as he continued to question how one could assume the bill was dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“I have never foreseen a government shutdown and I continue not to see a government shutdown,” said Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), who was a senior Hill staffer before being elected to Congress in 2010. “The Senate has plenty of time to deal with this. This is good, common middle ground that is in this package. I think we’re gonna get a big bipartisan vote in the House. I think we’re gonna get a big vote in the Senate too.”

A right-wing news outlet reports that House Rules committee attendees actually laughed when someone said the President would veto their bill. They seem supremely confident that either they will win, or if they don’t win nothing bad will happen, or if it does happen people will blame President Obama.

What galls me is that the baggers and the media still talk about the impasse as a “negotiation.” A negotiation happens when two sides agree to give up something they want to get something else they want more. The Republicans are not offering to give up anything they want. If they had offered to raise taxes on the rich or increase the budget for entitlement programs, that would be a negotiation. But they’re saying, in effect, buy our plan or we’ll shoot the dog. That’s not negotiation; that’s extortion.

As I understand it, there are enough votes in the House to pass a clean cr if Boehner would put it up for a vote. But the baggers apparently have Boehner’s boy parts in an industrial compactor.

A government shutdown would be bad, but not nearly as catastrophic as a failure to raise the debt ceiling, which is going to have to be done within the next couple of weeks. Ezra Klein argues that it’s a good thing the baggers are throwing their temper tantrum over the cr, and when they lose it will make it less likely they’ll pull the same stunt over the debt ceiling. I think that’s wishful thinking, though.

Bill Keller has an interesting thought:

The Republicans are finally having their ’60s. Half a century after the American left experienced its days of rage, its repudiation of the political establishment, conservatives are having their own political catharsis. Ted Cruz is their spotlight-seeking Abbie Hoffman. (The Texas senator’s faux filibuster last week reminded me of Hoffman’s vow to “levitate” the Pentagon using psychic energy.) The Tea Party is their manifesto-brandishing Students for a Democratic Society. Threatening to blow up America’s credit rating is their version of civil disobedience. And Obamacare is their Vietnam.

To those of us who lived through the actual ’60s, the conservative sequel may seem more like an adolescent tantrum than a revolution. For obvious starters, their mobilizing cause is not putting an end to an indecent war that cost three million lives, but defunding a law that promises to save lives by expanding access to insurance. Printing up unofficial “Obamacare Cards” and urging people to burn them is a silly parody of the protest that raged 50 years ago. But bear with me.

There are significant differences, of course. For example, the 1960s New Left stayed out of party politics and never became a force within the Democratic Party. But I think the differences are in keeping with the temperaments and psyches of righties and lefties. Lefties want equality and justice; righties want power.

See also Paul Krugman, “Rebels Without a Clue.”

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