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Archive for the ‘Conservative Sociopathy’ Category

Why Is The Mustache Getting Paid?

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

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Thomas Friedman’s column in the New York Times today is just gob-smackingly stupid. That’s fairly normal for Friedman, of course, but today’s is a real doozy even by his standards. Here’s how he opens:

I’ve been trying to understand the Tea Party Movement. Sounds like a lot of angry people who want to get the government out of their lives and cut both taxes and the deficit. Nothing wrong with that — although one does wonder where they were in the Bush years. Never mind. I’m sure like all such protest movements the Tea Partiers will get their 10 to 20 percent of the vote. But should the Tea Partiers actually aspire to break out of that range, attract lots of young people and become something more than just entertainment for Fox News, I have a suggestion:

Become the Green Tea Party.
Oh no, it gets even dumber:

The manifesto is easy, too: “We, the Green Tea Party, believe that the most effective way to advance America’s national security and economic vitality would be to impose a $10 “Patriot Fee” on every barrel of imported oil, with all proceeds going to pay down our national debt.”

This is just beyond stupid. For one, there’s the name. Do you really see the right-wing calling themselves the “green tea” anything? The people who use arugala and dijon mustard as short-hand for effete elitism now? Yeah, didn’t think so. But more than that, this just kind of ignores the fact that, you know, the teabaggers are the right-wing. They don’t care about the climate. They don’t believe in global warming. They’re the assholes who tell you how they’re going to leave all their lights on or drive around as much as they can in their SUV on Earth Day for the sheer joy of being assholes. And, oh yeah, they’re not big fans of taxes either. I suppose Friedman would probably argue that his “Patriot Fee” isn’t a tax, but good luck getting them to buy it. But what’s extra confounding is that Friedman concedes that he knows this is all stupid nonsense:

Yes, I know, dream on. The Tea Party is heading to the hard libertarian right and would never support an energy bill that puts a fee on carbon.

Ok, so you just wasted 300 words. Awesome. What’s the point then?

So if there is going to be a Green Tea Party, it will have to emerge from a different place — the radical center, a center committed to a radical departure from business as usual. Acting on that impulse, Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joseph Lieberman had forged a bipartisan climate/energy/jobs bill that deserves an energetic centrist Green Tea Party to support it.

This critical piece of energy legislation was supposed to be unveiled by the three senators on Monday, but it was suddenly postponed late Saturday because of Senator Graham’s fury that the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and the White House were planning to take up a highly controversial immigration measure before the energy bill.

If this is what the Obama administration is doing — to score a few cheap political points with Hispanics — it is a travesty. The bipartisan energy bill is ready to go. It is far from perfect. Indeed, it is a shame the fossil fuel industries still have such a stranglehold on Congress. But it’s the best we’re going to get, and we have got to get started. However, without a centrist Green Tea Party movement — one that brings the same passion to cutting emissions that the Tea Party brings to cutting deficits — even this effort will never pass.

A couple of things here. First of all, what the hell would a “radical center” even look like? The center, by definition, is defined by other points. So a “radical” center, I suppose, would dogmatically insist on plopping itself right in the middle of the left and the right and refusing to move? Or refusing to acknowledge that maybe being precisely in the middle isn’t the right place to be? I mean, where does one find the middle of something like the debate over whether or not to invade Iraq? Declare that they won’t support invading Iraq, but that they could get behind invading the Ivory Coast? It’s all very confusing to me, as these poorly thought out pieces of pretension from writers like Friedman usually are. But I digress.

The other problem here is that this is just drastically ignorant of the underlying politics. Lindsay Graham has, in the past, been a supporter of immigration reform efforts. He’s touted his support for comprehensive immigration reform, in fact. There’s no obvious reason why moving forward with legislation on that issue should cause him to drop support for another worthwhile bill he’s supported. It’s a naked political ploy by Graham to turn his back on the bill, and gum up two Democratic initiatives at the same time ahead of the election. If Democrats acquiesce and shelve immigration reform, Graham will just find another reason to oppose the bill, the same way he used the passage of healthcare reform to pivot to a position of being unable to support immigration reform anymore. But then, even if Democrats do go ahead with immigration reform and climate legislation, it doesn’t really make much sense to blame them for Graham’s temper tantrum. Lindsay Graham is a big boy. He’s a United States Senator fergawdsake. And, at best, he’s using his potential support for a bill he ostensibly supports, regarding an issue he ostensibly recognizes as being vitally important, to ransom the very large Senate majority into dropping another item on their agenda. That’s despicable behavior, particularly if you actually believe Graham appreciates how serious climate issues are. And yet, Friedman is chastising the majority over it, rather than calling out the United States Senator acting like a psychopathic adolescent.

I don’t really expect major newspaper columnists to write intelligent things anymore, but it still puzzles me why publications that seem to regard themselves seriously, like the Times, pays people who seem to know nothing about American politics to write about the subject on such valuable space. Especially if they’re having financial problems.

Community Organizers

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

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Count me in as someone who just doesn’t get the right’s obsession with denigrating community organizers. Aside from the offensives of it all, which Benen lays out nicely, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. At least in the context of the 2008 election it was meant to be a shorthand for “Barack Obama is inexperienced.” Attacks against your opponent’s perceived lack of experience has pretty much never worked in modern American Presidential politics, but what else did the Republicans have to work with after 8 years of Bush? But now, Obama is the actual President. Only 42 other individuals in the history of the United States have done that. And even though he’s only been President for 16 months, that’s infinitely more experience in the job than any of the Republicans criticizing him have. Sarah Palin isn’t very bright, but even she has to realize that it would be absurd for a former half-term Governor and mayor of Wasilla, Alaska to argue they have more relative experience for the Presidency than the incumbent President…right?

The Original Backroom Deal

Monday, March 29th, 2010

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Ezra has a good couple of posts noting the irony of claiming that the Founders would detest the process that created the healthcare reform bill by pointing out the number of compromises that went into crafting the Constitution itself. It’s a good example of how mindless right-wing talking points are these days, since it’s not exactly like the 3/5 Compromise or Great Compromise aren’t taught in basic history classes or anything. I’d also add that the Constitutional convention itself was a big back room deal. The convention was quite literally held in total secrecy so as to not create public outrage/a backlash in favor of the Articles of Confederation amongst a public skeptical of a stronger federal government. They even kept the windows of Indendence Hall shut constantly to keep passer-by from overhearing what was going on inside, even though it was a blistering hot summer.

More than that, I’d just point out that the “cornhusker kickback” is a pretty good example of what out system is set up to do, with various representatives looking out for their districts and their voters. It’s a bit annoying to have to listen to people who deify a group of people in one breath, then claim that people using the system they created as it was designed to be used is a crime against democracy or something.

No Surprise Teabaggers Resorting to Violence

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

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There’s been a rash of relatively small-scale poilical violence, brick throwing, verbal threats, that sort of thing, directed at supporters of healthcare reform, but now it seems someone has tried to kill Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA).

Some people have pointed out that this is the natural extention of an essentially authoritarian movement, and that’s fair enough. It’s certainly true that an element of the American conservative movement has adopted rhetoic and tactics that are boilerplate for fascist movements, and the only thing left is widespread violence against political opponents, but I think the particularly American strain of wingnutism has a more complex sense of identity that leads to this point. Essentially, as both Digby and Amanda Marcotte often write about, the conservative movement is built around the belief that everyone else’s opinion is illegitimate, and basically as been since Richard Nixon’s “silent majority” campaign. This attitude is put most starkly on display when conservatives disparage East coasters, even though a huge amount of the population is concentrated on the Eastern seaboard, or when Sarah Palin praises small-towns as the home of “Real Americans.” Implicit in the framing is the idea that non-conservatives are interlopers, that their ideas, and even their existence, is illegitimate. This is why I take claims that conservative anger is based around Obama’s blackness; they do this pretty much every time they’re out of power, even when the Democratic President is a white Southern male.  If you believe you are by definition representative of the majority at all times, and all viewpoints other than yours are fundamentally illegitimate, you can’t really process electoral or legislative defeats any way other than by assuming them to be the result of some nefarious skull-duggery, which is why Republican attacks on procedure had such resonance with the right-wing. Aside from the generic ability to oppose the other side, it gave them the rationalization they needed for loss; Democrats cheated.

Of course, central to the survival of this worldview is the assumption that they do, in fact, represent a majority of the people in the country. It’s why conservatives talk about what “the American people” want so often, and why “coast vs. heartland” culture warring is framed from the presumption that land mass is of more importance than population. If the perception that the right-wing movement is supported by a majority and that only they’re ideas are legitimate/Constitutional/whatever is punctured, their entire political argument goes up in smoke.  But in the meantime, it’s a toxic mix of self-righteousness, hate, and paranoia, the logical extension of which is to perpetuate violence against people who don’t agree with you. After all, if Democrats just ignored the will of the overwhelming majority of the population and cheated the legislative process to implement a plan to literally destroy the country, why wouldn’t you resort to violence in response?

The only questions left to ask are how many people will die before we get serious about addressing it this time, and whether or not it will take another catastrophe like this.

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