Reform This

The 2014 Texas Republican Party Platform really says this:

We strongly support a woman’s right to choose to devote her life to her family and children.

Ed Kilgore provided this quote, and I could not rest until I had verified this and seen the entire context for myself. And here it is —

Family Values – We support the affirmation of traditional Judeo-Christian family values and oppose the continued assault on those values. We strongly support a woman’s right to choose to devote her life to her family and children. We recognize her sacrifice in the face of the assault on the family. Additionally, we recognize the challenges of single parents and applaud their efforts in creating a stable and moral home.

This is the entire “family values” section. From here it goes on to saying human trafficking is bad.

If this were a game show, our choice would be Door Number One and, um, that’s it. Door Number One.

Seriously, this document is distilled and concentrated crazy. Hendrik Hertzberg and Charles Pierce, with all their rhetorical skills, still were challenged to describe how crazy this thing is, although Pierce has the stronger conclusion: “We allow ourselves only two major political parties. One of them is completely out of its fcking mind. This is a national problem.” Please read either Hertzberg or Pierce, though, so you can fully appreciate the truly epic nature of the crazy.

The other thing I’ve been reading about today are the “Reformicons,” described by Paul Waldman:

A small band of thoughtful conservatives has been saying, for some time, that if the Republican party is going to survive—and, more specifically, win a presidential election in the next decade or two—it has to change. It has to get serious about policy again, grapple with contemporary economic and social realities that simple appeals to free markets and small government don’t address, and find a way to attract voters from outside the demographic of old white people.

That sounds grand, but the actual members of this “small band,” according to Sam Tanenhaus, include people like Kate O’Beirne and Ramesh Ponnuru. And according to E.J. Dionne, the reform standards are being defined by the likes of Ross Douthat — called one of the “founding fathers” of reform — Michel Gerson, and David Frum. From what Dionne writes about it, this crew isn’t really coming up with groundbreaking new policies as much as repackaging the same crap they’ve been selling for years. Dionne writes,

At times, reform conservatism does seem more concerned with the box than its contents—more infatuated with the idea of new ideas than with new ideas themselves. But it’s also true that the Obama years produced such a large lurch to the right within conservatism that many Reformicons accept the need for readjustment and for something that looks like a governing agenda.

“Looks like” being the operative term here. This appears to me to be mostly an exercise in rhetoric rather than reform. For example —

Douthat offers a two-part test in the form of principles: First, that while our “growing social crisis” can’t be solved in Washington, “economic and social policy can make a difference nonetheless”; second, that “existing welfare-state institutions we’ve inherited from the New Deal and the Great Society … often make these tasks harder” by crowding out other forms of spending, hindering growth, and contributing to wage stagnation. So, says Douthat, “we don’t face a choice between streamlining the welfare state and making it more supportive of work and family; we should be doing both at once.”

What the hell does any of that mean? Is this anything other than arguing that we have to cut “entitlement” programs to please the several fairies of conservative dogma — the Fiscal Discipline Fairy, the Incentive to Get a Job Fairy, and probably Paul Krugman’s favorite, the Confidence Fairy?

It hardly matters, however, because however skillfully the reformicons dress up their weak tea to make it look like actual policy, the base will shoot it down. Actual government policy? The Texas platform calls for eliminating the jobs of all “unelected bureaucrats” in the federal government, which presumably means all federal public employees who are not in the military. This is not a crew interested in “reform.” They just want to destroy. Obviously, “reform” amounts to posturing for news media, which desperately wants to believe that Republicans can be reasonable, and for sucking in a few voters who are not old white people.


It seems almost pointless to mention this but there is simply no state Democratic party in any of the 50 states that is so clearly, obviously demented. This is the Republican Party. Yuval Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru are not. In fact, I think all those bold conservative thinkers of whom the New York Times thinks so much should bring their Big Ideas down to the next Texas state Republican convention and see how far they get. John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell, and especially obvious anagram Reince Priebus, who nominally presides over Bedlam, need to be asked every day which parts of the Texas Republican platform they support and which parts they don’t. They don’t get to use the crazies to get elected and then hide behind fake Washington politesse when the howls from the hinterlands get too loud.

I agree completely.

14 thoughts on “Reform This

  1. So, a bunch of Christian old white men in TexASS got together, and, tissues in hand, had a jircle-cerk about every nutcase wet-dream they could think of.
    And this is news?
    Look at every Republican position in their Red States. Even in the Blue ones.
    These people are nucking futs!!!

    As for “Reformicons,” we now know them as conservative/Blue Dog Democrats.

    ‘Please proceed, GOP.
    Please, please, proceed…’

    • bunch of Christian old white men in TexASS got together

      The significant point is that the Republican establishment of the second largest state (in both size and population) did this.

  2. Oh, I get it, maha.

    The point I was trying to make, was that what was written in Texas is the wet-dream for damn near every conservative in this county.

    If I went a little north and west of where I live in NY state, I could show the locals that Texas list, and I’d need a HazMat suit to protect me from their precious bodily fluids.

    Hell, I could save on gas – my own hometown has a slew of loons.

  3. Another thing I’ve noticed about the reformicon types is that they will continually insist that we must find conservative solutions. Why do solutions to common problems have to conservative? I honestly don’t see anybody clamoring for liberal solutions to anything. Liberals tend to be a lot more interested in whether a given solution will work.

  4. None of this really matters, because: 1) the crazies continually win elections at the state and local levels, which only emboldens them to 2) push their agenda and obstruct as much as they can at the national level, until 3) they can get one of their own in the top office.

    In other words, what they’re doing is working, I repeat: It’s Working, and it scares the hell out of me. All this talk of the death or survival of the Republican party is missing the point – the only thing that’s died is moderation. “Reform” is just another name for the inner struggle the GOP is going through, but whether it really means reform or is just another day in the loony party, the effect is the same.

    It’s evident in the way I feel about Obama: a somewhat feckless Democrat, but at least he’s not a Republican. For 1.5 more years, short of a coup, his presence is blocking the full ascendence of the nutballs.

    And by the way, the 2012 Texas GOP platform was specifically against the teaching of critical thinking in the classroom. That’s even more troubling than their enshrinement of 1950s roles for women.

  5. Joan, you’re missing the all-important difference. It’s only sharia if a brown man who calls his God Allah says these things. If it’s a white man who calls his God Jesus, then it’s Truth.

  6. Josh Marshall made the point several months ago that if the Republicans “find a way to attract voters from outside the demographic of old white people” then some of those white people are going to start to wonder why they are voting Republican.

  7. This Texan Republican platform reminds me of a few of my friends who have fallen into the abyss. I am still getting over the sadness of watching the latest of my old friends make her descent into the world of Alex Jones and WND. Reason is futile, recovery is rare and deprogramming is a fool’s errand. It is amazing to me how suddenly and completely someone can buy into the entire whacko agenda. Evidently, after the entire whacko agenda is assimilated, they become honorary Texans.

    The prologue to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” comes to mind:

    S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
    A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
    Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
    Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
    Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

    John Ciardi’s Translation:

    If I believed that my reply were made
    To one who could ever climb to the world again,
    This flame would shake no more. But since no shade
    Ever returned- if what I am told is true-
    From this blind world into living light,
    Without fear of dishonor I answer you.

    Also Molly Ivins, regarding a member of “the Lege.”

    “If he were any dumber, someone would have to water him three times a week.”

    and of course, Schiller.

    “Against ignorance, even the gods struggle in vain.”

    That pretty much sums it up.

  8. Moonbat, I don’t think it is working as well as you do. If it were, people would not have voted for a black man just to keep a Republican out of the office of the President. I think that is exactly how Obama was elected. We have, finally, reached the stage where a majority of Americans found the lesser of two evils to be the black man over the Republican. And, this should really have the Republicans worried.

  9. I read all of Ed Kilgore’s blog on this. The insanity goes way beyond endorsing ‘Judeo-Christian values’ for single moms as a substitute for food stamps. There is some fairly solid, though horrible, policy in this.

    “We strongly oppose any constitutional convention to rewrite the United States Constitution.”

    This has to be a reference to the move to reverse Citizens United via a Constitutional Amendment. That makes it part of the TX GOP platform that they endorse unlimited corporate spending in elections. That’s scarey policy.

    “* That the Texas Legislature should nullify—indeed, “ignore, oppose, refuse, and nullify”—federal laws it doesn’t like. ”

    Nullification at the State level is has been tested, challenged in court, and found unconstitutional by the USSC. This is an endorsement of an illegal tactic.

    “* That the Seventeenth Amendment, which was adopted in 1913, be repealed, so that “the appointment of United States Senators” can again be made by state legislators, not by voters. “

    The original US Constitution called for the US Senate to be entirely appointed by the state legislatures. These guys were going to be the aristocracy of government, the fat cats, the good ol’ boys club. And it was – until the voters objected, threatened with an Article V convention, which was (amazingly) the state governments working to repeal their power of appointment to replace the process with (drum roll) elections! The people now select their senators by popular vote – and the GOP wants to go back to the old system of appointment – curtailing the power of the popular vote???!!! If there needed to be any proof that the GOP is the party of fat cats and the GOP voter is being led around by the nose, here it is. An idea to reduce grass roots democratic power held by the common man, the voter, and replace it with the power of appointment.

    The GOP platform is full of concrete ideas – none of which stand up to the light of day. But look at these two together. Oppose a constitutional amendment which would curtail corporate spending in elections AND move away from popular elections in the selection of our federal legislators. The Democratic Party needs to make those two specific provisions of the TX GOP platform the cornerstone of their campaign(s) across all 50 states. They won’t – because ruling democrats have almost as low an opinion of the intelligence of their voters as the GOP has of theirs.

  10. goatherd, your mention of Molly Ivins sure made me wonder what she’d have to say about this Texas GOP platform of the 21st Century. Aside from “Holy crap,” I mean. Or maybe that sums it up.

  11. Joan, I sure wish we had her around. Moly Ivins was always able to add humor and insight together. It must have taken superhuman patience. But, I am afraid the current crop of congress critters would truly test her mettle to the maximum.

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