The Crazies of 2009

Two articles do a great job describing the bleating birthers/teabaggers/gun-toting/Nazi obsessive town hall-crashers:

So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers -- these are "either" the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president -- too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters' signs -- too uniform to be spontaneous.

They are both.

If you don't understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can't understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests. [...]

The instigation is always the familiar litany: expansion of the commonweal to empower new communities, accommodation to internationalism, the heightened influence of cosmopolitans and the persecution complex of conservatives who can't stand losing an argument. My personal favorite? The federal government expanded mental health services in the Kennedy era, and one bill provided for a new facility in Alaska. One of the most widely listened-to right-wing radio programs in the country, hosted by a former FBI agent, had millions of Americans believing it was being built to intern political dissidents, just like in the Soviet Union.

Rick Perlstein: In America, Crazy is a Preexisting Condition

One cause is a kind of conceit that says, "My vision of the way the country should be run is the only sound and permissible vision. Stray from it and there will be unprecedented calamity."

That is one element.

The other is the inability to digest or tolerate the fact of their electoral defeat. One chief feature of a democracy is the rule of law, but the president's opponents feel they owe no obedience to the law because if a man was elected that they despised, then clearly the election could not, at bottom, be legal. In their eyes, they represent what is morally most admirable about America, and the only way a whole class of sterling, morally superior people, clinging to an identical core of the most admirable convictions -- the only way they could be defeated would be because they were victims of the workings of sinister, underhanded forces of fraud, deceit and misrepresentation. They did not lose the election, it was stolen from them by selfish scum.

So the losers' resentment thus becomes not an expression of mean-spirited, ill-informed and humiliated spite, not an ambition to regain power, but a kind of rescue effort aimed at restoring the rightful state of things in the land. In other words, Obama's critics are not blindly petty and vindictive, eaten alive by mindless rancor, they are heroic.

The people who hate Obama and who like to call him a communist actually share a certain similarity of disposition with communism. In communism, it was a central tenet that the Party had a monopoly on the truth and this required complete loyalty and subjugation on the part of the members. To hold back your complete endorsement to your group's agenda did not mean that you simply disagreed with it. It meant something more menacing -- a kind of moral failure, an excessive pride, a stubborn perversity of will that prevented you from seeing the truth. Obama's critics believe they enjoy the same monopoly of virtue, and feel that what today's desperate conditions require is intolerance -- you can with good conscience cast aside your scruples. The importance of your mission and your certainty of being right relieves you of the burden of having to be truthful, restrained or respectful of the facts. The nobility of your cause means any weapon can be used against the enemy -- vile harangues, calumnies, slander, abuse, libel -- you don't have to use nimble skill in reasoning to outwit your target, you don't have to have full command of the smallest intricacies of the issues to confute his claims -- you have only to stand and shout your opponent down, drown him out, bury him under a landslide of slights, epithets and insults. After all, you have the courage of a person with a crowd at his back.

Richard Sale: Moral Absolutes and Politics

2009, Same As 2003

The White House released budget figures yesterday indicating that the new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost more than $1.2 trillion in the coming decade, a much higher price tag than President Bush suggested when he narrowly won passage of the law in late 2003.

The projections represent the most complete picture to date of how much the program will cost after it begins next year. The expense of the new drug benefit has been a source of much controversy since the day Congress approved it, with Democrats and some Republicans complaining that the White House has consistently low-balled the expected cost to the government.

As recently as September, Medicare chief Mark B. McClellan said the new drug package would cost $534 billion over 10 years. Last night, he acknowledged that the cumulative cost of the program between 2006 and 2015 will reach $1.2 trillion, but he cited several major savings and offsets that he said will reduce the federal government's bottom-line cost to $720 billion.

Washington Post: Medicare Drug Benefit May Cost More Than Reported


I don't know why the political elites bother with elections. They should hold a lobbyist convention instead. If this bill passes, corporations will win again. The Democratic Party is still neoliberal.

Twopence in 2 seconds.

Still alive here.

The ridiculous black rage defense would work if you weren't unfortunate enough to be born black because a jury may acquit a a man of murder if he uses the gay panic defense:

Joseph Biedermann fatally stabbed his Hoffman Estates neighbor 61 times last year. On Friday, a Cook County jury acquitted him of first-degree murder, buying his claim that he was defending himself against an unwanted sexual advance, his mother confirmed Saturday.
As long as getting hit on is a defense for clubbing/stabbing corpses repeatedly after the victim dies, women should start packing heat at work.

Finally, the banks can still go to hell.

The Womb Police Strike Again

Another abortion provider is gunned down. Gratz baby-savers.

A few weeks ago Obama suggested pro-life and -choice forces can find "common ground".

He can open his own heart and mind to people who harrass abortion providers. I am nothing like them and resent the inference that we could talk our differences out over a beer.

I'll keep calling them apologists for terrorism and murderers, and mysoginists.

Not To Be That Guy

But, pro-lifers, there may be something wrong with your movement when you have to send out press releases making clear that you don’t actually condone cold-blooded murder.

As Ezra and Ann Friedman point out, it is part and parcel of the activist anti-choice movement to proactively interfere with and intimidate people who are in the process of providing or seeking a medical procedure which is protected by law.

The question I’ve heard over and over again is whether or not the pro-life movement bears responsibility for the murder of George Tiller. It does. There is no other “mainstream” political movement in this country which keeps as a part of its bag of tricks the intent to frighten those in the midst of a legally protected activity.

Pro-gun control liberals don’t show up at gun shows and hector attendees. (And if your response is, “Damn right they don’t, because they’d get shot,” you’re proving my point.) Fundamentalists don’t have to worry about fleets of bike-riding hippies showing up at the entrance to their church every Sunday, telling them that their God is false. Religious “family planning” clinics don’t live in constant fear of a Molotov cocktail flying through their plate glass window, don’t have to train their employees on how to handle bomb threats, don’t need to worry about their clients’ safety on the way from their car to the front door. But if you provide abortion services - even if you’re not actually providing an abortion to the person coming in the door, even though it has been repeatedly declared legal - you live in fear.

This culture of fear was borne and is bred by the way the pro-life movement conducts itself. They certainly have every right to protest - and I mean that, and I truly believe that. But freedom of speech and freedom of assembly does not create freedom from responsibility for your conduct. A movement whose primary focus is intimidation through immediate and overwhelming physical proximity, coupled with hugely dishonest and inflammatory rhetoric cannot escape responsibility when it is embraced by an actor or actors who take that rhetoric to a logical, if extreme, end. By declaring that “abortion is murder” and premising a movement on preventing that “murder” in increasingly radical and ostentatious ways (while oftentimes failing to propose or advocate for the more logical and responsible methods of preventing the alleged “murders"), the pro-life movement has built up over decades an angry base stewing in its own feelings of oppression and righteousness. It’s the perfect environment to breed radicalism and violence.

This also puts into context the recent uproar over Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination. She has made a mission of bringing to light racial injustice, particularly as it relates to Hispanics. Her efforts are not designed to hold down white people, or designed to invalidate their experiences, but instead to bring to light the full range of experiences available in America. She is not a radical, she is not a racist, yet the same movement that is rushing out to make clear that they don’t want people to murder just because it might seem like they want people to murder is trying to tar her some sort of Latina conquistador, rampaging through our suburbs in order to take away our Constitutional right to white dudes in power. This same sort of decontextualized radical rhetoric is being used over and over again to stir up hatred and resentment so that Tony Blankley and Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist and the rest of their ilk can make millions off of this razor’s edge.

Tags:

Projecting

Republican Kay Baily Hutchenson is running for governor of Texas. She's "pro-choice" in so far as the Supreme Court's decision to make abortion legal should be upheld, but legislatively whittling away at abortion rights is the only "sensible" position.

This lukewarm pro-choice view doesn't endear her to social conservative Republicans. A political consultant to Perry had this to say about his employer's challenger:

Perry political consultant Dave Carney said the Republican governor agrees the party should welcome new voters.

"But that doesn't mean you take your principles and throw them out the door and become a whorehouse and let anybody in who wants to come in, regardless" Carney said.

Ah, Vermont!

As I walked up the long, grassy lawn in front of the Vermont State House on the chilly, wet morning of the historic override vote, I had a sense of déjà vu. Large signs stood in front of the gold-domed building. "Believe in Our Common Humanity." "Override for Love." A lone "Take Back Vermont" sign, the slogan of gay-marriage opponents, stuck in the soft, wet spring earth.

Some years ago I spied a bumper sticker driving to work. It went like this: "Vermonters don't pack manure; we spread it".

Vermont is the most granola state in the Union. It was "colonized" by hippie farmers. It is the most beautiful state, if I may say so. It is also, unfortunately, expensive to live there and cold.

So very, very cold.

Vermont is not the Gomorrah it's being made out to be in conservative blogs, although one or two universities did see students attending classes in the buff while I lived there. It was the first state to abolish slavery. For a small state, it suffered considerable casualties during the Civil War. The Green Mountain Boys did, however, get to invade Canada. Most neo/conservative talking heads are content gainsaying our neighbor to the north. Today the small state regrettably has the most Iraq war casualties per capita. Vermont's conservationist history shapes state policy.

Oh, but they're going to hell in a super sized basket now. How could I forget the wages of sin?

I recommend the farmers' markets. The cheese is to die for.

MotherJones.com: Vermont's "Happily Ever After"

Fitzmas 2008

Unveiling the federal complaint at a press conference, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said, "This is a sad day for Illinois government. Mr. Blagojevich has taken us to a truly new low."

He characterized the governor's conduct as a "political corruption crime spree" that had to be stopped because of "imminent" actions that might have been taken by the governor, such as selecting a successor to president-elect Obama's senate seat and causing the firing of editors at the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

"The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave," Mr. Fitzgerald said.

According to a 76-page two-count indictment unsealed by prosecutors in Chicago on Tuesday, FBI agents allegedly heard the governor on wiretaps attempting to trade or sell the Senate seat being vacated by Mr. Obama when he becomes president next month.

Three years ago, during the height of Lewis Libby's federal trial for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, New York Times government hack reporter Judith Miller called special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald a "loose cannon". Two weeks later Karl Rove showed up. He jumped on the discrediting bandwagon and called Fitzgerald an "unguided missile".

No cries of foul play will be forthcoming from Republicans and their media operatives on behalf of poor Mr. Blagojevich. Hopefully, we won't hear cries of prosecutorial foul play from Democrats, either.

Obama should keep Fitzgerald after he's sworn in. Fitzgerald is an equal opportunity hard-nosed asshole; the kind of district attorney you need to have around in case your political enemies, or yourself, have second thoughts about following the law.

Wall Street Journal: FBI: Illinois Gov. Blagojevich Tried to Sell Obama's Senate Seat

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