Monday, April 19, 2010

Common Theme

Satirical QOTD1, Brick Oven Bill:
Slavery is more ethical than welfare, as there is dignity in work.
QOTD2, Joel:
Reminds me of where I’ve settled on the teabaggers; they’re not angry about anything in particular, they’re just mad about not winning. They want to win, one hundred percent of the time, and if they can piss on everyone else while doing it – especially liberals – then all’s the better.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) delivered the Republicans' weekly address yesterday, and repeated plenty of tired talking points. Listeners learned, for example, that those rascally Democrats intend to "remake America in the image of Europe." Gripping stuff.

But there was a phrase that Cantor mentioned that stood out for me. The frequently-confused Republican leader said that if voters backed the GOP in November, his party would offer "responsible, adult leadership."

Now, of all the things Republicans have to offer the electorate, perhaps no three words in the English language are less appropriate than "responsible, adult leadership." As should be abundantly clear by now, today's GOP officials approach their responsibilities and substantive discourse with all the maturity of a child. A young child. A young, slow child. A medicated, young, slow child who's easily distracted and hasn't learned social norms about honesty.

Jacob Weisberg notes in his latest piece that there were responsible, adult leaders in the Republican Party in the not-too-distant past, but they've gone missing.

Do you remember the Responsible Republicans? In the 1980s, small herds of them still roamed freely around Washington. In 1982, they stampeded over Ronald Reagan's veto of the largest tax increase in history to mitigate the fiscal harm of his 1981 tax cut. In 1983, they converged on Capitol Hill to pass a package of tax increases and benefit cuts recommended by the Greenspan Commission to keep Social Security solvent. In 1986, they followed Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson to pass bipartisan immigration reform legislation by a large majority. In 1990, several were spotted with President George H.W. Bush (the Responsible one) at Andrews Air Force Base, conspiring to reduce the deficit.

After the Andrews summit, however, glimpses of them outside captivity became increasingly rare. With their habitats in the Northeast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest under threat and their natural predators on the rise, the status of the species moved from "threatened" to "endangered." Though occasionally spotted on the rocky shoals of Maine's Penobscot Bay and in beach houses up and down the California coast, they now rarely emerge from the wilderness. During the health care battle, President Obama was unable to find a single Responsible Republican to serve as a mascot. There continue to be rumors of the Double R's return around issues such as immigration, financial reform, and climate change. Yet we have now gone several years without a confirmed sighting.

The point of Weisberg's piece was to identify the moment that sent the GOP grown-ups into permanent exile. The Slate editor points to Bill Kristol's 1993 health care strategy memo -- kill reform at all costs, regardless of merit, Kristol advised, and refuse to cooperate in good faith -- as the "crucial" turning point for contemporary Republicans, which helped shape the party's approach to governing ever since. That sounds about right to me.

But regardless of the origins, the consequences are the same.

In 2010, Republicans choose not to know anything about public policy, can't engage in an honest debate, reflexively oppose anything Democrats support (including GOP ideas), and reject responsibility for the spectacular failures they created while in the majority.

Cantor is promising "responsible, adult leadership"? From whom, exactly? When was the last time a Republican leader said something intelligent and accurate about any area of public policy? When was the last time the GOP acted in a responsible fashion during a substantive debate? When was the last time the nation saw so much as a glimmer of maturity from any member of the party leadership?

Weisberg concluded, "The rise of hyperpartisanship is not one of those problems for which the left and right are equally to blame. Democrats, who like legislating better than Republican do, and who have seldom had the GOP's ability to march in lockstep, still instinctively prefer to work on a bipartisan basis. They continue to hope, against the odds, that [Responsible Republicans] will escape extinction and one day provide partners for them again."

It seems clear to me that won't happen unless Republicans suffer some additional, severe electoral humiliations. On the contrary, if the GOP fares well in the midterms, the party's leaders and rank-and-file members will assume the way to get and keep power is to avoid responsible, adult leadership altogether.

Amato (C&L): Kathleen Parker and Joe Klein: Tea Party fringe groups are a national security threat; FOX and the Becks are acting seditiously

It's getting boring watching the MSM try to fit the teabaggers in a particular category that makes them feel comfortable. I saw a shift towards the more realistic on The Chris Matthews Show this weekend. A major topic was the right wing fringe inhabiting the tea party movement and the panel wondered how dangerous could these people really be?

Well, they can be very dangerous. Dr. Tiller was just murdered, but since the nut didn't identify himself with the tea party movement, he's not being drawn into the conversation. But he should, because right wing violent speech helped produce him.

At least Joe Klein calls out FOX News for their culpability in stirring the pot of hatred which can be looked at as basically seditious.

Klein: We've had movements like this throughout history....the difference now is a television network, I'm going to call it FOX. The presence of FOX, which allows its commentators like Sean Hannity, like Glenn Beck to rouse the tea party. Sean Hannity was in an event this week where the tea party was raising money to have people sit in the same stands with him. And the biggest difference in the past when there were right wing movements started we had ...the responsible Republican party would slap it down and there is no responsible leadership in the Republican party now.

Norah is sort of confused because she sees soccer moms at tea party rallies who are just worried about the deficit, but then she remarks there are these militia groups, these hate groups who believe Obama is coming after their guns.

Klein: I did a little bit of research...I looked up the definition of sedition, which is conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of the state and a lot of these statements-- especially coming from people like Glenn Beck and to a certain extent, Sarah Palin--are right up close to being sedition.

John Heilemann agrees with Klein and calls out Limbaugh for using the word "regime" to describe the Obama White House.

David Neiwert and I have been writing about this topic for a long time and I'm glad the MSM is finally recognizing the truth even if it's taken a really long time for them. When we finally release our new book, you'll see the evidence in a nice, neat package that will blow your mind. The Tea Party movement is bringing the hidden far right fringe out in the open with the help of FOX News and these people are dangerous.

Remember, conservatives can never say or do anything wrong. And there is never an end to how far right one can go. Klein makes the observation that violence might change that perspective, but the jury is still out.

Kathleen Parker writes in the WaPo about the tea partiers from a right wing perspective:

But words matter, as we never tire of saying. And these are especially sensitive times, given our first African American president and unavoidable fears about the worst-case scenario. If Jodie Foster could bestir the imagination of Hinckley, a Sarah Palin in the Internet age could move regiments.

Such fears are not unfounded. I hear daily from dissatisfied Americans who feel their duty is not only to protest but to fight if necessary. Here is one recent example, in response to a column I had written about America's true centrist nature:

"Sorry, honey, but we don't need the squishy middle right now. We need the hyper patriots, the combat vets ready to defend the constitution with arms if necessary."

The distance between such thinking and recent examples of overt hostility seems too little. In this space, the unthinkable becomes plausible. [..]

The only palatable answer is what conservatives say they love best: self-control and personal responsibility. When someone spews obscenities, shout them down. When politicians and pundits use inflammatory language, condemn them.

When you choose to remain silent, consider yourself complicit in whatever transpires.

Dennis G.: Confederate History Month: Something to Read

When I lived in Georgia I was in the newspaper business and for a time I was a crackpot with a newspaper (now-a-days that would be like being a crackpot with a blog). Anyway there was a daily paper in Anniston, Alabama that was an inspiration for independent voices in print media in the South. It was the Anniston Star. Back in the 1960s they took a pro-Civil Rights stand and George Wallace use to call it the “Red Star”. I’ve always had a fondness for this newspaper.

Today the publisher, H. Brandt Ayers, is out with an editorial about the Republican Confederate Party celebration of Confederate History Month. And I would add it as a must read.

ConfederateGOP Logo

Mr. Ayers calls his editorial, I am a somber rebel. He calls out folks like Bob the Reb of Old Virginny, but he calls others to task as well. Mostly he seems sick of where Nixon’s Southern Strategy has led us as a Nation and how the conversation about race, the Civil War, civil rights and the politics of outrage never seems to be able to get beyond the repeat cycle. His grief at yet another lost opportunity for national understanding is raw.

Here is how he opens the piece:

As Confederate History Month wanes, the orchestra in my head plays “Dixie” and the rising melancholy cellos, which touch the merry tune with tragedy, put me in a somber mood. The song and the jaunty St. Andrews flag grow fainter, smaller …

They will shortly be gone, packed off in shame to an historical closet, and with them another opportunity for national understanding will have been aborted.

The latest skirmish in the culture war over the Civil War was touched off by Virginia’s new Republican Gov. Robert McDonnell who sought to honor Confederate dead but forgot to mention slavery was a cause of the war.

When the oversight was brought to his attention, his apology sounded unconvincing, as if he was saying: Slavery? Slavery? Yes, darn, I remember reading about that; should of put it in the proclamation. Sorry.

Read the whole thing. While there are some points I do not agree with, it is good food for thought on a Sunday night.


  • dr. luba comments:

    The response to the original article by a JSObrien is more thoughtful than the original:

    I found this piece … puzzling. As a former, temporary resident of Anniston (back when I was an actor at ASF), the descendant of more than a dozen Confederate soldiers, and a boy who grew up in Virginia where I couldn’t spit in any direction without hitting a Civil War battlefield, I feel I have a fairly strong connection to you, the South, and your themes. But if your thesis is that “average” white people are having their “very selves and culture erased,” I cannot imagine why you might feel that way.

    I haven’t found anyone suggesting that the history of the Confederacy or the South be expunged. Hardly. If anything, most of the ink (real or electronic) spilled on this subject seems to advocate a common goal: Tell the truth about history.

    As an analogy, I think it’s fair to say that the Wehrmacht fought very, very well and courageously in WWII, and one of the best fighting units in history may well be the Waffen SS. They fought for what they believed, and it’s fair to say that many in the Wehrmacht fought because, like grunts all through history, someone handed them a weapon and gave them no choice. Having said this, would you advocate that the Germans should have “Third Reich Month” in order to honor the Wehrmacht’s sacrifices? Of course you wouldn’t. The Third Reich was evil, and the fact that many fought for it well and bravely, without being Nazis, doesn’t change that fact.

    If what you want is for white Southerners to be allowed to whitewash history and take refuge in some sort of moral “nobility” of the Confederacy, then, yes, that is unlikely to be allowed. The answer is relatively simple: teach white children in your schools that the American Civil War hinged on the issue of slavery, that slavery was evil, that it was wrong to allow it, and even more wrong to take up arms to defend it. Then, you can explain how many men fought bravely and well, even if in the wrong cause.

    The Douglas Southall Freemen mythology surrounding that war has long been discredited. It’s time for all Southerners to face the truth. Until we do, we, and the country, cannot move on.

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