Here are three articles I've ready in the past 24 hours that each sum up our "Republican Party Problem" in differents ways.  The first and last are brief. The one in the middle is deeper, but a crucial read.  All of them taken together provide a damn good panoramic view of the landscape of Republican crazy.  And I don't call it that to mock it. I call it that because we need to fear it. I am not one to take comfort in this mess we're in. Desperate animals do desperate things, and the animals who fund these lunatics are very rich, very powerful, and very willing to say and do anything to keep it that way. They have the money to adapt and survive. We cannot let a great Obama win delude us into thinking a war has been won. It was merely a battle.

Leonard Pitts On What They Do That Is So Crazy

The GOP has become it's own worse enemy —  So while the grownups in the party may be reading the writing on the demographic wall and believe it calls on them to abandon extremism, there is every reason to believe the rest of the party will think that writing requires them to double down on it instead. Read

Frank Rich On Why What They Do Is So Crazy

Fantasyland — Daniel Patrick Moynihan might be surprised to learn that he is now remembered most for his oft-repeated maxim that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Yet today most Americans do see themselves as entitled to their own facts, with one of our two major political parties setting a powerful example. For all the hand-wringing about Washington’s chronic dysfunction and lack of bipartisanship, it may be the wholesale denial of reality by the opposition and its fellow travelers that is the biggest obstacle to our country moving forward under a much-empowered Barack Obama in his second term. If truth can’t command a mandate, no one can.  Read

Dan Hodges On What Keeps All The Crazy Going

Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party — As we saw with Benghazi, rather than try to penetrate mainstream media outlets, there was a clear tendency for Romney advisers to do easy "hand-offs" to Fox on issues they wanted up and running. It reminded me of when we in the Labour Party used to just drop our best material in the laps of the Mirror; they would run it big, and we’d think we were talking to the whole country. In fact, we were talking almost entirely to our own supporters. Read
 

This morning, I tweeted this disturbing and sometimes insightful, but ultimately maddening, guilt-ridden sanctimony dressed up as constructive criticism in  op-ed by Steve Almond in the NYTimes. Wanting to think more about it, the best I could say at the time was this tweet:

RT ‏@Shoq: I've been scolded for saying we mock rather than advance ideas. Still, this a mea culpa from a liberal Fox watcher j.mp/KXyDQR
I shared it with my good friend, Joy-Ann Reid (@theReidReport), Managing Editor at TheGrio.com, and a Miami Herald columnist. As usual, within hours, she'd let loose with blistering critique that captured much of what irked me when I read Almond's piece the first time. You can read her post here. 

On any given day, I agree with almost everything Joy says, and this day was no different, for the most part. But I did have some concerns about dismissing the entirety of Almond's essay too casually, feeling that as is often the case, that all elusive truth may lie somewhere between two poles.  So I wrote this to Joy in response, and felt I'd blog it. Just because I can.

 

Thank you joy,

You have told the other side I've been wrestling with so much better than I could.  But I am still torn because while my reaction this morning was just like yours (and I tweeted about it), after reading it again, I am still plagued by the nagging sense that he (and Karoli) are also more than partly right; that we do give them too all far much attention in a meta sense. While, as you point out, there are damn good reasons do that, it's become such a reactionary passion on the left, that it empowers all the lefty demagogues (those self-flagellating masters of the liberal universe), while generally sucking all the energy from the progressive room. There's just not too much remaining for the political process (which serves the status quo nicely). I see this progressive anger-fatigue every day, and it's really worrying me. I see it worrying others, too. Obama can lose, and lose convincingly. And the Senate may go with him.  We all know this. And I think all the anger-merchandising, so well played by the corporate media (and the liberal and conservative industrial complexes, as well), are to a large degree distracting us from really focusing on shaping messages and getting out that vital progressive congressional and presidential vote, without which, we're probably just doomed.

But what the writer doesn't get right at all (besides the ridiculous title) is that he has no real end game; he never discusses where all that surplus attention that he wants to conserve would go if recovered. He hints at it, but so minimally, that he's implying that just turning the other ear and merely showing up to vote will mitigate the damage that a highly cultivated incivility is now doing to us.  It won't. All the polite rhetorical salon parties he imagines won't make the smallest dent in the Koch/Fox audience axis, and they still vote far more reliably than we do.

No, as you point out, ignoring and negotiating just doesn't work. We have to defund, deflect, or somehow denude their omnipotence; strip it from our politics and culture with a combination of strategies that ignore the more cynical of the noisy megaphones, while pushing back effectively against the most influential of them, denying them social and financial currency where possible In the absence of bigger plans, I am going to keep on with efforts like StopRush, which may yet show that market forces can greatly impact how these influencers really operate on and against all of us.

It's all I can do… for now.

 

Related

 

 

 

An old and dear Candian friend of mine wrote this to some of his inner circle.  I thought I'd share,

 

Dear Americans,
 
We have been so entertained over the years by your television broadcasts, but never more so than the past few months with your election primaries. We find ourselves huddled by the TV each night, eagerly awaiting the next installment of the epic drama “Republicans! The Never Ending Story!”  It has everything needed for good television: A changing cast of absurdly unlikely characters, imagination-defying plot twists, hubris, fear and righteous indignation, with dialog that ricochets from inane to silly to terrifying to eye-wateringly funny — often in the same clip. Brilliant!
 
 So keep it up. But when the second season begins in the fall, try adding some more characters. Someone of colour, maybe. Or female. Or — yes! — an alien from another planet. Sure. That’s it. And keep airing episodes every night. It’ll be riveting. And you can be sure your neighbours here will be watching — from a safe distance.
 
 Thanks,
 
 Your Canadian cousins

 

He's not the only Canadian to express such sentiments, of course.  Here's Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Simpson:

Watching a once-great party circle the drain
 

This is a wonderful interview, and like most of the Washington Journal good stuff, it was buried in the early morning segment when only we hard core @cspanWJ watchers even saw it.

You really need to spend some time with this segment. He covers a lot of ground, and he knows his subject(s) really well. He's got a gift for casually, but concsisely discussing the practical and hypothetical issues raised by this Bizarro-world remix of modern conservatism, Republican cronyism, and all the Batshit crazy that we've been calling the Tea Party, lately.

Watching this segment, I thought about how much I really dislike the term "Tea Party," because it romanticizes a contrived and entirely wrong conception of what the real Tea Party was. But it also fails to describe what is happening in this "movement," or who and what it really represents, or where's it's going. And it's just too fucking informal for a trend that might ultimately take down the entire American experiment.

So, as is my wont, I set about to define it.  It seemed to me that what is happening is a perfect astroturfed storm consisting of:

  • Generally Republican crony corporate capitalism,
  • Fox-news-fed "big government" protesting under the guise of fiscal conservatism.
  • Resurgence of the John Birch Society and other fringe social conservative groups.

The triple-threat might neatly be termed, Trio-conservatism."  

So I liked it so much, I just submitted it to Urban Dictionary as:

Trio-conservatism A more formal designation for the socio-economic blending of corporate, fiscal and social conservatism that now typifies the so-called "Tea Party" movement in the United States.

Love it? Like it? Hate it?  Think I should burn this post and never bring it up again?

If UD approves it, it should be published sometime tomorrow.  I can improve the definition after they do. It's too annoying to spend time making the perfect definition, only to have some UrbanTard editor reject it for totally random reasons. There is no appeal.

About Dave Weigel

Frank Rich Writes in today's NY Times:

Are these politicians so frightened of offending anyone in the Tea Party-Glenn Beck base that they would rather fall silent than call out its extremist elements and their enablers? Seemingly so, and if G.O.P. leaders of all stripes, from Romney to Mitch McConnell to Olympia Snowe to Lindsey Graham, are afraid of these forces, that’s the strongest possible indicator that the rest of us have reason to fear them too.

Read; The Rage Is Not About Health Care 

Related

Russell King has penned a brilliant rant, and it's perfectly timed.

I was just about to embark on a treasure hunt to find the best examples of this insane journey these freaks have taken us on. As I've been tweeting lately, Batshit Crazy is The New Normal. I doubt my Rants and Primers inspired it, but I'm gonna pretend it did.  I'd like to see dozens more like it, all which will be included in my primers.

Please tweet this to everyone you've known since elementary school. It's important.

Now the advice.  You're going to have to come up with a platform that isn't built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more.  But you have work to do even before you take on that task.

Read the Open Letter (tpmcafe)

Related

Introduction

The entire Teaparty movement is based on ideas that have been continuously discredited for years. Yet the GOP, eager to leverage all the passion and zeal of these misguided populists, is promising policy based on still more of the fiscal absurdity that has already wreaked havoc on our cities.  Over the next few weeks, I am going to collect examples of this ongoing ruination and post them here.

If you have good articles for this reader (I call it a wrapper), please submit as a comment or email it to me and I'll consider including it.

Recent

City cuts into services considered basic by many.

COLORADO SPRINGS — This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.  More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

Backgrounders

California's Proposition 13 : The Mother of all Stupidity

The proposition's passage resulted in a cap on property tax rates in the state, reducing them by an average of 57%. In addition to lowering property taxes, the initiative also contained language requiring a two-thirds majority in both legislative houses for future increases in all state tax rates or amounts of revenue collected, including income tax rates. It also requires two-thirds vote majority in local elections for local governments wishing to raise special taxes. Proposition 13 received an enormous amount of publicity, not only in California, but throughout the United States.

Spread the meme. Republicans are the party that wrecked America

So, to begin this process, and to clarify the situation, I urge readers of this blog to identify the Republican Party by its new brand-name: the party that wrecked America.

Related

Myth: Carter ruined the economy; Reagan saved it.

Carter cannot be blamed for the double-digit inflation that peaked on his watch, because inflation started growing in 1965 and snowballed for the next 15 years. To battle inflation, Carter appointed Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, who defeated it by putting the nation through an intentional recession.

The Great Lie of Supply-Side Economics, By Paul Krugman

The tax cuts that went through were sold on false premises – what it costs us is far greater than advocates said, advocates who claimed it would actually increase revenue and cost us nothing. It does cost us, hundreds of billions of dollars so far, and that cost has not been presented honestly to the public by either the advocates of the tax cuts or the press reporting on the issue. Without an adequate understanding of the true costs, the public discussion on the issue is distorted and the result is bad public policy.

Why The Party that Wrecked America Can't Fix It

The Republican party has a problem. They have based much of their power, over the last several decades, on the idea of ever-expanding (almost exclusively white) suburbs. The thinking was, as those suburbs become less and less dense — as one wag put it, the further away the houses are from each other — the more those suburbanites will vote Republican. As William Levitt, the builder of the first modern suburb after World War II said, "No man who owns his own house and lot can be a communist."

Preface: I really prefer micro-blogging about short, concise, action-oriented bits of news and information. I am not a journalist, and have never considered myself much of a writer, so forgive me as I stumble through a screed that is far longer and more ambitious than what I first intended, or what I normally offer on this weird and often eclectic blog.

"That said…"

Politics hates a vacuum. If it isn't filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear. Naomi Klein 

James Carville & Stan Greenberg's research/strategy firm @DemocracyCorps has finally joined twitter. Their second tweet was a strategy memo, released in advance of the State of the Union.  I've never been a big Carville fan (huge understatement), and I have a lot of issues with his centrist-eye view on nearly everything. But this memo is spot-on when it comes to providing a quick-and-dirty analysis of a few things, and does an excellent job of taking the Teaparty-temperature of the nation was a whole.

While the TeaGOP populists may be gullible pawns, there are a shit load of them, and they have their very own blogosphere, financing, and 24 hour news channel. They also have the wind of a million corporations at their backs; commercial interests eager to shed even more regulation and taxes than they already have after decades of a subservient White House and Congress.

Meanwhile, the left blogosphere has become very practiced at snarking the right, and often seems damned competent (and amusing) doing it.  But real-world politics and tactics are a lot harder than writing blog posts, and the insights of the political professionals in the field, however blemished they are in spots, should not be undervalued, nor cast aside in favor of the views of so many cynics who value very few opinions but their own.

Before I continue, take a moment to jump down the page and peek at item #5 in the central list from Carville's memo. Obama's new "Spending Freeze" would seem to fall within its scope. All we have heard in the past 48 hours, from the left and the right, is what a disaster this policy is, and almost no one is discussing the thesis that the White House knows that bond markets need reassurance that their concerns about the deficit and spending are being heeded. With the freeze, the logic goes, this was a way to do that without really cutting all that much, while leaving wiggle room for emergency spending when needed, while still giving Obama a kind of proxy line item veto for rightfully striking down some absurdly expensive pork. That would be a huge hat tip toward the all too critical independents we need to hang on to the feeble threads of power that we do have. 

It may be a wrong strategy, and it may be right. But the knee jerk evisceration of the Freeze was typical of what has happened with nearly every proposed or enacted policy or strategy for months, and it's tearing the left, the administration, and the country apart. And it's also making the right downright giddy. It's a suicidal progressive acting-out (not a strategy), and it's just not helpful, prudent, or necessary.

And now consider that the spending freeze bullet point is but one of seven other prescriptions in Carville's memo.  All are evidence of the fact that we have many hurdles to get over while trying to govern this wobbling and woeful nation. And anyone that thinks only their issue is the only important one should think long and hard about the complexities inherent in just implementing even this very short list of partial solutions. There's a myriad of confounding intricacies lying behind each and every one of them. We're not going to fix them if the administration has to stop every few hours to listen to the  screaming demands from the green, pro-choice, anti-war, LGBT, education, labor, and other stakeholder constituencies, all demanding that the administration deliver for them as if there were no opposition from the people with all the money, media, and power. It's just not going to happen. Not without having a REAL super majority (rather than one populated by conservadems), and not without some kind of meaningful process reform in how we do things.

Something has to change, and in my view, it's the people on the left who must start that change ball rolling. They have the power to make Obama's rhetoric a reality, if they stop pretending they have a mandate, and start acting like an oppressed minority fighting for their very survival. Because that's exactly what we are.  Democrats and liberals elected Obama to lead us through this thicket of insanity, largely created by Republicans over the past 30 years. He was never my first choice, and he's far from perfect, but our system rewards determination and political craft. He is where he is, and he got there when others failed, and we all helped him get this damned coaching gig. Yet, despite lots of post-election cheer leading and breast beating, the fact is, the coach got saddled with a team of Bad News Bears: a shaky, underfunded, under institutionalized, rag-tag bunch of progressive enthusiasts wearing scrappy uniforms and fielding second-hand equipment held together with duct tape and baling wire.

It's a team that only turns out to vote every 4 years, and almost only when something novel and unique gets them worked up into a highly motivated frenzy–as Obama did. But without that rare impetus, they mostly sit on their asses and grouse about how an increasingly right wing government and corporate sector treats them like customers at Wal-mart; like cattle that gets herded through miles of aisles of Chinese goods, for which their only response is expected to be a melodious "ka-ching" at the cash register.

We're victims of a mindless and ruinous brand of capitalism run amok, and expecting Obama to fix that problem with a wave of his hand is the epitome of historical ignorance and wishful thinking. And it completely misses the fact that's he's up against the Heritage Foundation, Cato, US Chamber, Citizen's United, Fox News, Koch Industries, Richard Scaife, AFP, and THOUSANDS of other conservative think tanks, industry associations, lobbyists, and fake citizen Astroturf front groups that are aggressively selling a simplistic, populist message to the masses, just so that they can use the zealous fraternity to help the concorporatives regain power and screw us all over again.  It will just be deeper, longer, and harder than ever before. Remember, George Bush was never the brightest bulb in the room. We may not be so lucky next time.

It's time we wake up and admit that Barack Obama is just the coach of a rickety team fighting impossible odds, and we all have a pretty slim chance of surviving at all. Obama is the only one with any real power to help us win even a few modest scrimmages, if not a whole game.  But if all the players on the left second guess every decision, policy, and nuance, relentlessly attacking every crack and crevice they can find in them, making it impossible for Obama to keep his people focused on their tasks without being diverted by every hysterical crisis the right wing throws up, and the left overreacts to, there will be very few people or ideas left on the playing field. And our opponents will fill that vacuum with their legions of willing bodies, armed with their contrived and jingoistic blather, imposing their bulk and screaming fan base to help spread it far and wide, thus running all over our national field, and us. It doesn't matter that they are screwing their own lives and those of their children. They are not the sharpest or best informed people (duh), and they will never, EVER get that part. It's pointless to waste energy trying to make them get it. We have to focus the fight on battles we can win.

If Liberals can admit that what lay ahead is hard, and only patient, strategic, and long term thinking will serve us, and avoid the temptation of taking casual and reckless potshots at this administration because it's an easy scapegoat for what has soiled Democrats for decades, we might start to move forward. We can work as a real team, chipping away at our problems with short, well-timed strikes that give us incremental results, gains the public's trust, silences the noisemakers on the right, and let's us move past all these real–and trumped up–crises of the moment, and get on with the business of building a brighter future for all of us. 

I have never been a cheer leader, nor a sycophant, and I am loathe to march in lockstep with any man, woman, or ideology.  So I am not suggesting we rubber stamp Obama administration policies. But I am suggesting we calm down and start playing smart, arguing them aggressively, but respectfully, and without this daily discrediting of our own coach–and by implication, our woeful team–making it all too easy for the right wing to convince most independents that we don't have the direction or discipline to earn a spot on the bench, let alone the playing field.

I am not a fortune teller, but I have spent many years watching the machinery of the right wing, and their steady, relentless march toward achieving near total influence over our industry, media, politics, educational system, laws, process and people.  If we don't stop them in the next few years, the Citizen's United decision proves they will move to close-up any holes in an already minimal security blanket, and this fragile thing called the American experiment will just die.

You may not like Obama or many of these Democrats. Admittedly, there's not a whole lot to like right now. But we can scratch and claw our way past them, and these pugnacious Republicans if we keep our eye on the long-term prize. That prize is nothing more or less than saving this nation. But if you think this tired and mopey "I voted for change" refrain entitles you to win something, just because you feel your vote already won you something, then you are not going to be part of any solutions. But you will certainly be part of the problem.

Carville's Memo

Our analysis of these surveys suggests a number of things that Democrats can do to move America to a different place:

  1. Pass health care and explain it anew. While the route to passing health care is difficult, passage would signal a break of the gridlock in Washington.  Health care reform has become a metaphor for ineffective government and gridlocked Washington politics, while passage provides an opportunity to explain its economic benefits.
  2. Get the spotlight off of Congress.  Shift the focus away from Congress, the sausage-making of legislating and the polarization of Washington.
  3. Turn to jobs and focus relentlessly on bringing the economy and small business back. Long-term unemployment and its effects require a Democratic president and Congress who understand this public priority.     
  4. Act on reforming Wall Street.  Pass Wall Street reforms, including CEO bonuses and bank fees, to reclaim the cost of the bailout. The NPR poll shows Democrats much more in touch with the country here.
  5. Take visible action to cut spending and reduce the deficit.
  6. Get the economic narrative right. As the economy recovers painfully slowly, get the narrative right to move voters from their current protest vote to a place where voters don’t want to put the recovery at risk by voting Republicans into office who want to go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.
  7. Sharply define the Republicans and the real choice in the election.

 

Read the entire memo.

I always forget about this gem. Twitter just reminded me of it. 

Everyone needs to watch this 3 times, and then remember these words:

"It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."

 

R.I.P. George Carlin. We never really appreciated you in your time.  We miss you and we need you.  Come back when you're ready. Maybe we'll still be here. Maybe.