Browsing the archives for the Wingnuts Being Wingnuts category.


VanillaISIS? YeeHawd?

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

I’m not going to call the meatheads occupying buildings in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge “terrorists” because I don’t think they rise to the level of competence to actually terrorize anybody. They’re more like play-pretend insurgents.

According to Jennifer Williams at Vox, most of the “militia” men are  “a small group of individuals who travel around the country attaching themselves to various local fights against the federal government, usually over land rights.” They seized some buildings in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ostensibly to offer shelter to Dwight and Steven Hammond, a couple of local ranchers who were convicted of setting fires on federal land.  The feds say the Hammonds started one fire to cover up evidence of illegal deer poaching, although as the fires destroyed all the evidence of poaching I don’t know how the feds would know that. Oh, the feds got it from a witness, it says here.

Anyway, long story short, the Hammonds are turning themselves in after being resentenced to more prison time. They turned down the offer of a refuge from the law.

There may be a legitimate argument that the re-sentencing wasn’t fair, but the “militia” is not making that argument. Instead, they are arguing that federal land ought to be turned over to the states, which in turn ought to let the righteous white men of the West do whatever they want with it, sandhill crane habitat or no sandhill crane habitat. This has something to do with the U.S. Constitution, which they say is an “inspired document by Our Lord Jesus Christ.” However, I’m not aware of any part of the Constitution that deprives the federal government from retaining federal reservations within state boundaries. I believe in the case of national parks and wildlife reserves, states agreed to let the feds run the land and were compensated for it.

And if you want to be really picky about it, the Paiutes have a stronger claim to the land in questions than the state or the ranchers.

The question is, what’s to be done about this situation? Apparently the feds are being cautious, wanting to avoid another Waco. But letting the meatheads get away with these little tantrums seems to encourage them. I’d vote for a blockade; once they’re out of beer and beef jerky they may become more pliable.

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The PC/SJW Boogeyperson

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Every now and then Dana Milbank writes something worth reading, and he did so this week. See “The GOP’s War on ‘Politically Correct.’” Milbank effectively demonstrates that, in current right-wing usage, the term “political correctness” has no actual meaning. “Once a pejorative term applied to liberals’ determination not to offend any ethnic or other identity group,” Milbank wrote,  “it now is used lazily by some conservatives to label everything classified under ‘that with which I disagree.’ ” For example:

GOP candidates are now using the “politically correct” label to shut down debate — exactly what conservatives complained politically correct liberals were doing in the first place.

When CNN’s John Berman last week asked Rick Santorum about Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the country, Santorum employed the familiar evasive maneuver.

“Republicans are sick and tired of the political correctness that we can’t talk about this,” he said. “You can’t say the word ‘Muslim.'”

It wasn’t clear which officer in the P.C. Police told Santorum he couldn’t say “Muslim.”

People say “Muslim” all the time. And Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the country was discussed rabidly throughout the nation for several days, with armies of people pointing out why this was a really bad idea, not to mention bigoted and possibly unconstitutional. What it is Frothy thought he was not allowed to talk about I can only guess.

Ted Cruz said that political correctness is “killing people.” I had to hunt to find out how. He was referring to the Obama Administration’s policy of not using the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” Apparently if the President would just say that phrase, ISIS would shrivel up and die on the spot.

And Ben Carson seems to think that not waterboarding people is just being PC. In his world, there is no other reason to not torture people. As Milbank said, this is intellectual laziness on its face.

I’ve only relatively recently stumbled into the acronym SJW, meaning “social justice warrior.” Apparently being a social justice warrior is a bad thing. According to Rational Wiki (which may or may not be accurate, but it’s fun to read), the phrase “social justice warrior” was coined in 2009 by a blogger named Will Shetterly. Shetterly was talking about people who like to engage in arguments favoring social justice on the Internet but aren’t committed to fighting for it anywhere else, like in the real world. They’re phonies, in other words, who are posing as liberals to raise their social status. I’m not sure why anyone would do that, but whatever.

However, SJW has since morphed into a term, meant to be a pejorative, applied to any progressive political or social activist. The subtext of this is that all progressive political or social activism is phony; people just pretend to champion liberal views to make themselves look good to other liberals who must be as phony as they are.

(Years ago I read a social psychology paper in which researchers had determined that white racists sincerely believe all other white people also believe nonwhites are inferior, and that the only reason some whites won’t support white supremacy is that “they’re just being PC.”)

“SJW” seems particularly popular among libertarians and “men’s rights advocates” (MRAs). It says here, SJWs are

… people who, according to Urban Dictionary, engage in “social justice arguments on the internet… in an effort to raise their own personal reputation.” In other words, SJWs don’t hold strong principles, but they pretend to. The problem is, that’s not a real category of people. It’s simply a way to dismiss anyone who brings up social justice—and often those people are feminists. It’s awfully convenient to have a term at the ready to dismiss women who bring up sexism, as in, “You don’t really care. As an SJW, you’re just taking up this cause to make yourself look good!”

Labeling someone “SJW” is just a way to not have to answer their arguments. Most women will recognize this as a variation of the “women are just emotional” line that sexists have used forever to avoid listening to us.

I’ve noticed that complaints about people or opinions being PC/SJW tend to follow a pattern (a recent example, if you want one). If the individual is educated enough to be writing for a commercial publication, we will learn he was traumatized in his college years by  fascistic “PC police” on campus. Even assuming some young people get a bit over-strident in their intolerance of intolerance, college is a relatively brief interlude in life that is quickly left behind as one marches into adulthood. So who’s oppressing him now? Hard to say, but he will complain bitterly about being “censored” without giving us any specific examples. Ahem.

If you want to see specific examples of people who try to intimidate other people into shutting up, see the Mahablog archive on conservative correctness.  I wrote back in 2007,

When the phrase “political correctness” was first coined, as I recall, it was something of a joke, ribbing academics for going overboard creating “inclusive” language, like “physically challenged” for “disabled.” Wingnuts seized the phrase and turned it into an all-purpose explanation for why liberals say crazy things like “racial discrimination is wrong” — the standard response is “Oh, you’re just being P.C.” Meaning, “you don’t really mean what you say.”

But we really do mean what we say, and when righties conjure up some phony outrage in order to bash liberals, we get all caught up in answering charges, explaining logical fallacies, and pointing out hypocrisies. We do this because we assume they mean what they say. And, frankly, the more cognitively challenged among them probably do mean what they say, because they can’t critically think their way out of a wet paper bag.

But Bill’s hypothesis is that many of the opinion leaders among them — he discusses Michelle Malkin because he knows her personally — don’t mean what they say. They know good and well that many of the outrages they gin up to bash us with are contrived. They’re just trying to bully us, often because (deep down inside) they think we’re trying to bully them. So while we’re exhausting ourselves in a mighty intellectual struggle, they’re just playing tit for tat and barely working up a sweat.

Now we’re hearing about “victimist” culture, never mind that righties can’t so much as say good morning without adding a complaint about how they are being victimized (see, for example the “war on Christmas”).

As has been said elsewhere, the original “PC” effort was well-intended, even if it sometimes got a bit silly (“differently abled”?). The backlash, however, is about nothing other than being able to express hate speech without being criticized for it.

And I’m done with it. The only correct response to “Oh, you’re just being PC” is “Oh, you’re just being an idiot.”  And a bigoted one at that.

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The American Impasse

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big picture stuff, Obama Administration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Here we are, rolling to the end of another year, about to elect another President.  Very likely the Democratic nominee will be elected, and yet barring divine intervention we’ll be stuck with a Republican majority in the House.  (Right now it appears the Senate could go either way.) So there is still obstruction ahead as far as the eye can see.

Our basic problem, as I see it, boils down to this: There’s a portion of the American population that is prepared, intellectually and emotionally, for the United States to adjust to the 21st century. This portion accepts the U.S. as a multicultural and multi-ethnic nation. It understands the U.S. is one nation among many on this planet, and that our future security and prosperity require friendship and co-operation among nations, for our mutual benefit. It sees government as a means to carry forward the will of we, the people; to secure the rights of citizens; and to be sure that everybody gets a “square deal,” as Theodore Roosevelt promised about 112 years ago.

And then there’s the portion that wants to crawl inside a 1950s-era Disney movie about America and patriotism and never come out. You remember those. In that world, nearly everybody was white. Men were in charge and women were happy to let them be in charge. The few blacks were poor but cheerfully docile, and Native Americans were remote characters who dutifully fell out of trees whenever a white man shot a rifle. You’d think they would have learned to stay out of trees.

There also are a lot of people in neither of those portions. I think a big chunk of the electorate probably knows that Donald Trump is ridiculous and really don’t want to bomb Iran, but they tacitly accept much of the “wisdom” of the Right because that’s all they ever hear — taxes must always be cut, government spending is always bad, and all Middle Easterners are dangerous. They probably don’t accept progressivism, but it’s also the case that it’s probably never been explained to them.

So here we are, this big, strong, wealthy and allegedly dominant nation, and we can’t so much as fix our own bridges. We’re stuck between moving forward as a modern representative democracy or morphing into some kind of authoritarian state run by a cabal of mega-billionaires. If the latter vision wins, the (white) masses will be placated by visions of Fess Parker and his spunky militia protecting the homestead against scary foreign things. Everybody else will be disenfranchised.

A couple of weeks ago,  Rebecca Traister wrote that we’re all suffering through the death throes of while male power.

This moment, this election, these years represent the death throes of exclusive white male power in the United States. That the snarling fury and violence are contemporary does not make them less real than the terrors of previous periods; it makes them more real, at least to those of us living through them. And the presidential-primary contest, while absurdist and theatrical, is reflecting very real fury and violence in the non-electoral world: the burning of crosses and black churches, the execution of black men by police, the resistance of male soldiers to women in elite combat positions, a white man with a history of violence against women himself a “warrior for the babies” after killing people at a Planned Parenthood clinic, and a younger white man killing nine black churchgoers with the explanation “You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country.”

The political contest just projects these panicked resentments on a bigger, more official screen. The public spectacle of this presidential election, and the two that have preceded it, are inextricably linked to the racialized and gendered anger and violence we see around us. Recall that Trump’s rise in politics began with his attacks on Barack Obama as foreign, as Muslim, as other. And that the tea party whence Ted Cruz springs has concerned itself mostly — official protestations about economic priorities to the contrary — with shutting down reproductive-health options for women. That is, when they are not trying to shut down the political ambitions of Hillary Clinton at any cost (see Trey Gowdy’s wild-eyed, profligate, and fruitless Benghazi investigation).

Increasingly, Republican voters want just one thing: revenge. Read what Frank Lutz says about pro-Trump focus groups:

I spent three hours in a deep dialogue focus group with 29 Trump supporters. The phenomenon of “The Donald” is rooted in a psyche far deeper and more consequential than next November’s presidential election. His support denotes an abiding distrust in — and disrespect for — the governing elite. These individuals do not like being told by Washington or Wall Street what is best for them, do not like the direction America is headed in, and disdain President Barack Obama and his (perceived) circle of self-righteous, tone-deaf governing partisans.

Trump voters are not just angry — they want revenge.

Mr Trump has adroitly filled the vacuum of vitriol, establishing himself as the bold, brash, take-no-prisoners megaphone for the frustrated masses. They see him as the antidote to all that Mr Obama has made wrong with America. So to understand why millions love Mr Trump so much, you have to take a step back and listen to why they hate Mr Obama so much.

Here, my Trump voter focus group was particularly illuminating. Some still believe the president is not Christian. Many believe he does not love America. And just about all of them think he does not reflect the values the country was built upon. Indeed, within this growing faction, Mr Trump has license to say just about anything. As we have seen repeatedly, the more outrageous the accusation, the more receptive the ear.

Mr Trump delights in unleashing harsh attacks on Jeb Bush, the Republican establishment and the “mainstream media”. His childlike joy in ridiculing his critics is tantamount to healing balm for the millions who have felt silenced, ignored and even scorned by the governing and media elite for so long. Is it any wonder that his declaration of war against “political correctness” is his most potent and predictable applause line?

This of course begs the question — what, exactly, has President Obama “made wrong with America”?  Other than being POTUS while black? Do they even know?

The fact that they hate “political correctness” above all things tells me that nothing matters to them more than the freedom to be openly bigoted without being stigmatized for it.

Tom Gogola writes that America really wasn’t ready for a black president.

If hope and change were the Obama buzzwords in 2009, the lesson of 2015 is that a bunch of overstimulated, hopelessly right-wing pseudo statesmen haven’t changed, grown up, dropped the sub rosa race-bait narrative—even as Obama delivered on his fair share of what he promised way back when.

Don’t ask me why Obama’s race is still an issue; ask Lou Dobbs. The immigrant-bashing news anchor blabbed to the Fox masses about how Obama only became president because he played the “race card,” a curiously timed outburst given that Dobbs made it just two weeks ago.

See the rock-solid belief in the minds of true bigots — black people get things handed to them they don’t deserve, at the expense of white people. They even somehow get elected POTUS when they don’t deserve it.

The Trump supporters feel their “values” are being threatened. And, of course, we know what those values are. They value maintaining social and cultural dominance as a birthright. They deserve to dominate because they are white. Being male and overtly Christian also count.

I could go on. Of course,there’s always been a disconnect between the ideal America and the “real” America. We see ourselves as the “good guys” who stand for freedom and compassion. And, y’know, every now and then, we have been. But there’s also always been bigotry and discrimination, sometimes to the point of violence. We’re a nation of mutts uneasily tied together by a Constitution that we all honor, even if we disagree over what it means.  And right now I have no idea where we are heading.

See also: Nate Cohn, Donald Trump’s Strongest Supporters: A Certain Kind of Democrat; Nancy LeTourneau, Republicans Want Revenge and A World View in Its Death Throes.

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The War on Christmas Escalates

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

I am linking to this without comment, except to say the writer is not trying to be funny. This is a Breitbrat; they have no sense of humor. Or any other sense, for that matter.

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Clueless!

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

It takes a pathological degree of self-obliviousness to be a white conservative guy like Jonah Goldberg and write this:

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson took a plausible stab at why Carson is popular. “They like him, they like him,” he repeated, referring to conservatives in Iowa and elsewhere who admire Carson’s dignified and soft-spoken demeanor.

True enough; Carson has the highest favorables of any candidate in the GOP field.

But what’s remarkable is that at no point in this conversation did anyone call attention to the fact that Carson is an African-American. Indeed, most analysis of Carson’s popularity from pundits focuses on his likable personality and his sincere Christian faith. But it’s intriguingly rare to hear people talk about the fact that he’s black.

One could argue that he’s even more authentically African-American than Barack Obama, given that Obama’s mother was white and he was raised in part by his white grandparents. In his autobiography, Obama writes at length about how he grew up outside the traditional African-American experience — in Hawaii and Indonesia — and how he consciously chose to adopt a black identity when he was in college.

Meanwhile, Carson grew up in Detroit, the son of a very poor, very hard-working single mother. His tale of rising from poverty to become the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital is one of the most inspiring rags-to-riches stories of the last half-century. (Cuba Gooding Jr. played Carson in the movie about his life.) He was a towering figure in the black community in Baltimore and nationally — at least, until he became a Republican politician.

Like I said, it takes a pathological degree of self-obliviousness for Goldberg to assume he is in any way qualified to judge “authentic” African-Americanism. But note what Goldberg is saying here — he’s complaining that the world isn’t perpetually commenting on Ben Carson’s blackness.

It gets better. Goldberg then descends into the Usual Whining about how everybody picks on Republicans, and if a Democrat were to be treated as shabbily in media as Carson is being treated — the New York Times has stopped calling him “Dr.” — “charges of racism would be thick in the air.”

Then there’s the crowing about Hey, liberals — we got us a black politician, too! How do you like them apples?

How strange it must be for people who comfort themselves with the slander that the GOP is a cult of organized racial hatred that the most popular politician among conservatives is a black man. Better to ignore the elephant in the room than account for such an inconvenient fact. The race card is just too valuable politically and psychologically for liberals who need to believe that their political opponents are evil.

Carson’s popularity isn’t solely derived from his race, but it is a factor. The vast majority of conservatives resent the fact that Democrats glibly and shamelessly accuse Republicans of bigotry — against blacks, Hispanics, and women — simply because they disagree with liberal policies (which most conservatives believe hurt minorities). Yet conservatives also refuse to adopt those liberal policies just to prove they aren’t bigots. Carson — not to mention Carly Fiorina and Hispanics Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — demonstrates that there’s no inherent contradiction between being a minority (or a woman) and supporting conservative principles. And that fact is just too terrible for some liberals to contemplate.

Of course, that depends on what “conservative principles” one is talking about, but never mind.

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The Grift That Keeps On Grifting

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Conservative PACs raise millions … for conservative PACs.

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Speaker Watch

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Congress, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

The question of the day is, “Is he dumb enough to do it?” — he being Paul Ryan and it being running for Speaker of the House. Ryan allegedly is considering his options today.

As Paul Krugman points out in a column and blog post today, Ryan’s strength is that he’s the guy non-Republicans take seriously. But he needs to avoid the Speaker position to maintain that impression.

If Paul Ryan has any sense of self-preservation — and that is one thing he surely has — he will look for any way possible to avoid becoming Speaker. The hard right is already attacking him, essentially accusing him of not being sufficiently crazy, and they’re right. On policy substance he’s totally an Ayn Rand-loving, reward-the-rich and punish-the-poor guy, but so are lots of other Republicans; what they want is someone willing to go along with kamikaze tactics, and he isn’t. His fall from grace would be swift.

But if Ryan isn’t distinctive in his political positions, why does he loom so large within his party? The answer is that he’s more or less unique among extreme right-wingers in having the approbation of centrists, especially centrist pundits. That is, he’s a big man within the GOP because people outside seem to approve of him. And it’s important to ask why.

And the reason is …

Mr. Ryan has been very good at gaming the system, at producing glossy documents that look sophisticated if you don’t understand the issues, at creating the false impression that his plans have been vetted by budget experts. This has been enough to convince political writers who don’t know much about policy, but do know what they want to see, that he’s the real deal. (A number of reporters are deeply impressed by the fact that he uses PowerPoint.) He is to fiscal policy what Carly Fiorina was to corporate management: brilliant at self-promotion, hopeless at actually doing the job. But his act has been good enough for media work.

His position within the party, in turn, rests mainly on this outside perception. Mr. Ryan is certainly a hard-line, Ayn Rand-loving and progressive-tax-hating conservative, but no more so than many of his colleagues. If you look at what the people who see him as a savior are saying, they aren’t talking about his following within the party, which isn’t especially passionate. They’re talking, instead, about his perceived outside credibility, his status as someone who can stand up to smarty-pants liberals — someone who won’t, says MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, be intimidated by “negative articles in The New York Times opinions page.” (Who knew we had such power?)

It helps that much of the punditocracy suffers from a pathological need to see Democrats and Republicans as equally crazy; this is what passes for “balance” these days.

Ryan is being maligned wholesale on the Crazy Fringe today, not because he’s a con but because he allegedly is soft on immigration. As near as I can tell, his actual voting record makes him an immigration hard-liner. He’s even called for building the damnfool fence and sending little Nicaraguan refugee children back to Central America. But the Whackjobs apparently need to hate him for something, and that’s what they’ve come up with.

The political establishment largely is ignoring this development and promoting Ryan as the man who can bring together the allegedly “centrist” faction of the Republican Party and the teabagger fringe. As Andrew Rosenthal writes, this is basically a “plea for attention from the increasingly irrelevant conservative establishment. ” Those who still take the Republican Party seriously are talking about needing unity in “moving public policy in a conservative direction.”

But, as Rosenthal says, “The Republicans moved way past conservatism long ago.” And going back to Krugman,

To understand Mr. Ryan’s role in our political-media ecosystem, you need to know two things. First, the modern Republican Party is a post-policy enterprise, which doesn’t do real solutions to real problems. Second, pundits and the news media really, really don’t want to face up to that awkward reality.

The Freedom Caucus wants Daniel Webster of Florida, the guy who beat Alan Grayson in 2010 and who has rarely met an excuse for a government shutdown he didn’t like. I’m betting that Ryan will stay on the sidelines and that Webster will end up with the Speaker’s job eventually, once the establishment has bullshitted itself into thinking maybe he’s not that bad. But anything could happen.

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Cannibal Dance

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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.

 

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Is the Libertarian Moment Over?

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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.

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The Crash and Burn Party

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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.

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