Friday, November 13, 2009


Kos (the Great Orange Satan): Home of the brave

Dear Republicans,

Thanks for making clear that "home of the brave" refers only to US liberals, since we aren't pissing our pants at the thought of Gitmo inmates on US soil.

Hugs and kisses,


Sully: Fox News: Enemy Of Conservatism

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Above is Jon Stewart's version of watching Sean Hannity. Yes, I've tried to as well. It's like listening to Hugh Hewitt. Or reading Pravda in the old Soviet Union. But somehow watching a human being so brainwashed and engaging in conscious brain-washing makes it worse. Hannity is a pathological level of propagandist, because his entire reality, his entire mindset is programmed for ideology and partisanship. There is no world for him but politics; and no perspective within politics except conflict and warfare. He greets views that do not comport with the opportunistic ideology of the moment as threats to be extinguished, not ideas to be engaged.

Whatever else this toxic, shallow and brutal perspective is, it is not now and never will be conservative - unless that word has now been so corrupted it has no meaning at all.

Here I am at a conference on two of the greatest conservative minds of the last century: Leo Strauss and Michael Oakeshott. Perhaps Strauss would have regarded this poisonous propaganda as a necessary evil to keep the demos in check (perhaps that's how cynics like Kristol can support and enable this sophomoric, near-fascist crap). Oakeshott would have never stopped throwing up, if, of course, he would even have stooped to watching.

At the core of real conservatism is a distinction between theory and practice, a deep resistance to ideology, a respect for free inquiry and the philosophic spirit, a respect for social stability and coherence, a moderation in governance and a deliberation in action.

It is really time to point out that what Hannity represents, what much of Fox News represents, is not a defense of conservatism but one of conservatism's deepest, most vicious and most pernicious enemies. I am sick and tired of having this political tradition coopted and vandalized in this manner.

Conservatism will not recover as a coherent governing philosophy until it takes this monstrous propaganda on. Conservatism will not somehow emerge through the wreckage of this current moment, until it finds the courage to note that what it has become is not some variant on its tradition rightly understood, but its conscious, active, pernicious nemesis.

And yes, this makes the actual, living breathing representative of political conservatism in our time the current president of the United States. And anyone with any passing concern for the legacy of conservative philosophy knows it.

Yglesias: Meet John Thune, Totally Uninteresting Conventional Conservative Republican

David Brooks’ columns sometimes strike liberals as not just wrong, but somehow insidious, tricky, an effort to put one over on the public. Aside from the evident sexual tension, today’s effort on John Thune strikes me as almost the reverse. Brooks’ project is to build up Senator Thune as some kind of Great Plains David Cameron who can construct a more reasonable version of the conservative project and bring the GOP back to power. I’m not, myself, a moderate conservative but I think this is a worthy project. And the Idea of John Thune seems like a good idea:

He doesn’t have radical plans to cut the federal leviathan. He just wants to restrain the growth of government to bring deficits down. He doesn’t have ambitions to restructure the tax code. He just wants to lift burdens on small business.

He says his prairie background has given him a preference for small companies and local government. When he criticizes the Democrats, it is for mixing big government with big business: the bailouts of Wall Street, the subsidies to the big auto and energy corporations. His populism is not angry. He doesn’t rail against the malefactors of wealth. But it’s there, a celebration of the small and local over the big and urban.

But there’s no evidence that any of this is real. As Brooks concedes, “His positions on the issues are unremarkable.” At the end of the day, as Brooks says, “He is down-the-line conservative on social, economic and foreign policy matters.”

Brooks may say that Thune “just wants to restrain the growth of government to bring deficits down” but orthodox conservative dogma involves tax policy that implies either gutting the federal government or else massive deficits. For example, Jim DeMint proposed an alternative to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act that was focused on large permanent tax cuts. It would have added $3.1 trillion to the deficit over ten years—about triple the cost of ARRA—with no end in sight. And John Thune voted for it.

The weirdest thing here is the idea that Thune is praiseworthy for his opposition to “the bailouts of Wall Street.” For one thing, David Brooks thinks (and I agree) that voting yes on the TARP bill was the right thing to do. For another thing, John Thune voted for TARP along with the GOP party leadership. He’s done what the bulk of the GOP did, namely when everyone’s butt was on the line he voted for bailouts as a necessary evil, but then after Inauguration Day turned around and started hypocritically slamming them while going to war on behalf of financial services companies looking to avoid regulation.

digby: What If they Don't?
Everyone seems too be applauding the "Palinization" of the GOP. Lou Dobbs may run for president. Wingnut firebrand Marco Rubio may beat moderate Charlie Christ in Florida. Tom Tancredo just threw his hat into the ring for Colorado Governor. Liberals seem very excited about this prospect as if it's self-evident that just as NY 23 laughed off that dead doorknob Hoffman, the country will always think these people are fools.

But what if they don't?

In Palin's case I think it's probably true, not because she is a bigger fool but rather because she is a woman and a different kind of right wing celebrity. But I honestly wonder if it's a good idea to not take these people a little more seriously. There are some rather stark historical examples of people assuming that a right wing demagogic movement is so ridiculous that a majority could never back them --- and that assumption being proved catastrophically wrong.

And even if they are a bunch of fools who can't possibly ever be elected by a majority, is it wise to ignore the fact that as this movement moves farther and farther to the right it leaves a vacuum that the political establishment expects the Democrats to fill? Whenever the Republicans move right, the villagers expect the Democrats to do the same. Indeed, with the Republicans taking themselves completely out of legislation, the Democrats have pretty much assigned members of their own ranks to take their place in the negotiations. They have the ability to move the right without the country even realizing it's happening.

I'm not saying that we should panic. These people are politically weak in their own right. But when I see the liberal gasbags on TV blithely dismissing this as if it''s impossible that Americans could ever fall for such lunacy, I feel a little frisson of alarm. I've read too many accounts of people who, 80 or so years ago, complacently made the same assumption. And the whole world found out that under the right circumstances even the most civilized nations can throw in with the crazies.
Over the summer, right-wing activists hung Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) in effigy outside his district office. It was a key signal of what's to come -- the far-right Tea Party crowd's tactics go a little further than the usual political protests we're accustomed to in contemporary American politics.

How much further? A report from southern Virginia highlights this weekend's planned activities in Danville. (via Blue Virginia)

In a move sure to spark controversy, the Danville TEA Party will close their "Fired Up for Freedom" rally by burning Rep. Tom Perriello and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in effigy in response to the passage of landmark healthcare legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The event is being held Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in Blairs, VA at the corner of U.S. 29 and E. Witt Rd. and is open to the public.

Danville TEA Party Chairman Nigel Coleman said, "We were outraged to find that Tom Perriello had voted in favor of this bill. I was with dozens of 5th District voters in his office two days before the vote and we pleaded with him to stand with us against the Pelosi plan.... At this point we feel we have no representation in Congress."

For the record, Periello has met with Teabaggers, and tried to explain his policy approaches to them. They didn't seem interested in good-faith dialog.

And now, these same conservatives are literally planning to set fire to representations of their congressman and the House Speaker.

There's something deeply wrong with these folks.

Update: Josh Marshall adds, "I'm so old I can remember when ritualized symbolic execution of public officials wasn't cool."

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