Thursday, May 6, 2010

Collective Insanity

NYT,comments to Fox and White House Tangle on Spill Theory
North Carolina
May 5th, 2010
12:04 am
In the years ahead--will historians look back and determine that there was a specific date when the Republican Party became completely detached from any connection whatsoever with reality--or will they conclude that it was a gradual slide into mass dementia that took place over a period of months or years?

Let's contemplate for a moment what a mammoth leap through the looking glass it would take for Heckuvajob Brownie's scenario to take place.

BP--which has compelling interests in a) minimizing the extent of the damage caused by this spill (and with it, the size of their liability) and b) not letting it become an environmental disaster so significant that offshore drilling is shutdown through the Gulf and possibly even beyond--would have had to conspire with the federal government--and agreed to spend days trying to hide the extent of the leak.

Beginning with the initial reports--FROM BP--that the oil slick surrounding the rig was simply "residual oil" from the rig--and continuing on to the subsequent reports--FROM BP--that consistently underestimated the rate of the oil leak.

Then, BP, faced with a spill that some have begun speculating could very well bankrupt the company, would have had to blithely stood by and NOT asked the federal government to step in.

The truth of the matter is the right wing--which has spent decades claiming that anything the government can do, the private sector can do better AND for less money--would have been screaming bloody murder if the government had intervened sooner.
Sensen No Sen: IOKIYAR: A Case Study
Much has been reported in recent months about the deep distrust rock-ribbed, red-meat conservatives feel for the government, and there have been no better poster children for the Tea Party movement than the states of Arizona and Oklahoma. In the Sooner State, in fact, there are efforts underway to create a militia specifically tasked with resisting what is apparently perceived by some residents as tyranny on the part of the federal government in mandating health care coverage. What to make then, of recently passed laws in these two conservative strongholds that focus on, respectively, immigration and abortion?

In John McCain's home state, the most draconian anti-immigration law in modern history was signed into law last month, and anyone merely suspected of being an illegal immigrant must - not can, must - now be stopped and required to show documentation proving that they are in the country legally. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, direct intervention by the state into not just birth decisions by pregnant women, but medical testing and the doctor-patient relationship, has been taken to unprecedented heights. New laws there allow doctors to withhold test results showing foetal defects, require women considering abortion to answer intrusive questions (the answers to which are be posted online), mandate a vaginal ultrasound prior to terminating a pregnancy, and dictate that the mother listen to a detailed description of the foetus.

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, a moderate Democrat, vetoed two of these bills - the ultrasound and test results provisions - but was immediately overridden by the Oklahoma Legislature on the former. Only the intervention of Judge Noma Gurich, who signed an agreement stopping the law in order to provide time to hold a hearing on complaints about the new requirements, prevented it from going into effect immediately.

So, here we have two deeply red states, out of which has spouted considerable vitriol about government intrusion into the lives of private citizens, effectively legalizing unreasonable searches and doing everything possible to impose what amount to conservative religious beliefs on women. How does one reconcile a belief in individual liberty with support for laws that directly assault personal freedom?

As it happens, the non-partisan Pew Research Center for People and the Press released the results of a study on attitudes among Americans toward government. Compiled using results from decades of surveys, it is very interesting reading, but one point in particular stands out in stark relief:
Trust in government is typically higher among members of the party that controls the White House than among members of the “out” party. However, Republicans’ views of government change more dramatically, depending on which party holds power, than do Democrats’. Republicans are more trusting of government when the GOP holds power than Democrats are when the Democrats are in charge.
In other words, Democrats have a somewhat more favorable view of government when "their guy" is in the White House; Republicans, meanwhile, who espouse a core belief in limited government and personal liberty, demonstrate a veritable swoon of approval when the President is from the GOP. To illustrate the disparity further, consider that Democrats trusted Ronald Reagan every bit as much as they did Bill Clinton, but there isn't a single modern Democratic chief executive whom Republicans accord the trust they shower on their own.

Out in the wilds of the web is a shorthand expression: IOKIYAR - "It's OK If You're A Republican." Previously, this could be dismissed as mere internet snark, but what the new laws in Arizona and Oklahoma demonstrate - and which the Pew Research data supports - is that the GOP only dislikes government as an intrusive institution when someone else is in charge. When they hold the reins of power, Republicans appear more than happy to support state intervention into the lives of others.
The Republican effort to drive GOP moderates from their party has been picking up steam of late. Specter and Scozzafava were purged last year, and Crist was purged last week. Bob Bennett will soon be deemed insufficiently right-wing in Utah, and some more may lose in primaries today.

It prompted Robert Schlesinger to reflect today on the "Republican Purge Movement." Former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, now a Washington Post columnist, thinks Schlesinger has it all wrong.

In the Washington Post today, I explain that far from a "purge movement" aimed at accumulating "RINO pelts," [South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint] is leading a carefully targeted effort to elect a handful of real conservatives who will help him fight for fiscal discipline and conservative values in the Senate.

And sure enough, Theissen's column is all about how DeMint -- arguably the Senate's most right-wing member and Thiessen's former employer -- is ignoring the party establishment and backing some of the most hardcore, rigid, far-right ideologues he can find. The party's base often approves, forcing more mainstream Republican candidates to either try to move sharply to the right, or to get pushed out of the party altogether.

But don't worry, this couldn't possibly be considered a "purge movement." Perish the thought.

As Jon Chait explained, "What, you may ask, is the difference between a purge and an insurgency designed to elect real believers in your side's ideology? Obviously, when your own party is doing it, it's the latter. When the other party does it, it's a purge. Joe Lieberman was purged. Arlen Specter was simply the loser of a targeted effort to elect a handful of real conservatives who will help fight for fiscal discipline and conservative values in the Senate."

Kathleen Parker:

But in their rush to banish all but the purest fiscal conservatives, Tea Partyers risk losing some of their strongest voices and diminishing their power in an arena where relationships matter. Bennett, for example, worked with Democrat Ron Wyden to co-sponsor his health-care proposal.

What non-ideologues may see as cooperation, however, is viewed by true believers as weakness. Any attempt at compromise is viewed as surrendering principle. Under the new order, a Good Conservative wouldn't cross the aisle to perform a Heimlich maneuver.

The long-promised purge is on, in other words, and anyone fantasizing about bipartisanship can choke on that hope.

Conservatives assert right to remain ridiculous May 4: Rachel Maddow is joined by Chris Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation, to discuss the seemingly random but nonetheless impassioned objections by conservatives to Mirandizing terror suspects and their attempts to score political points attacking American justice.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

John Cole: I Guess That Would Render Miranda Moot

Via BTD at TalkLeft, Joe Lieberman has a novel solution to handling accused terrorists:

Joe Lieberman has a creative solution: Take away their citizenship. “If you’ve joined an enemy of the United States in attacking the United States and trying to kill Americans, I think you should sacrifice your rights of citizenship,” Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, told reporters Tuesday.

Why stop with accused terrorists? Accused pedophiles and rapists are pretty awful people, too. And people who are accused of mistreating animals. And the people who cut me off in traffic. College kids who jaywalk while wearing earphones (at least the ones Darwin doesn’t get). And old people who wait to start filling out their check at Kroger’s until they have the total (PROTIP OLD PEOPLE: IT WILL STILL BE KROGER’S AND YOUR NAME AND THE DATE WILL BE THE SAME WHEN THEY ARE DONE RINGING YOU UP). And people who have BO on the bus or train.

Actually, I might be serious about the people with BO.

If the media does not get over itself and become acquainted with the Constitution rather than getting the vapors about not having internet on Air Force One or whether or not the President insulted someone, we’re probably looking at GOP star chambers deciding who gets to keep their citizenship in 10-15 years.

Think Progress: Right-wing attendees at Heritage event applaud the idea that Obama is a ‘domestic enemy.’

This morning, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) delivered a national security screed at the Heritage Foundation, a DC-based conservative think tank. Politicizing the recent failed terror attack in NYC, Cantor said, “America is at risk of slipping into the type of false sense of security which prevailed before that September morning.” He attacked Obama for “apolog[izing] on behalf of America” and for being “naïve.” Cantor’s hyperbolic address stirred the passions of the crowd. One attendee at the Heritage event asked Cantor why Obama should not be considered a “domestic enemy”:

QUESTION: My question is – and this is something I personally don’t understand – if it’s a naïve question then I apologize: in light of what Obama has done to leave us vulnerable, to cut defense spending, to make us vulnerable to outside enemies, and to slight our allies, how (pause) – what would he have to do differently to be defined as a domestic enemy? (applause)

CANTOR: Listen, let me respond very forthright to that: you know, no one thinks the President is a domestic enemy. (boos)

After the anonymous attendee asked his question, the crowd applauded and laughed. Cantor even smiled before responding to the question. Because he refused to call Obama a “domestic enemy,” many in the crowd treated Cantor to a smattering of boos. Watch it:

Dennis G.: Mighty White of Him…

Newt Gingrich is a ridiculous political figure, and yet he is continually presented as the “big thinker” of the Republican Party.

Now I know that there are endless numbers of folks that could, on any given day, be pointed to as the most ridiculous political figure in Wingnutopia and Newt does fade to the background from time to time. Still, when he does open his mouth, the most amazing nonsensical utterances spew out. And then this bile gets treated as ‘serious stuff’ in the Village.

Today, Jed over at Dkos caught Newt being Newt. The topic was a handful of Black Republican candidates for various offices in 2010. Why is this happening? Well, let’s let turn to what Newt told the NYTs (emphasis added):

“Things have evolved,” said Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, who is heavily involved in recruiting Republican candidates. “I think partly the level of hostility to Obama, Pelosi and Reid makes a lot of people pragmatically more open to a coalition from the standpoint of being a long-term majority party.”

Newt and his pals hate Obama so much that he is willing to suffer the problems that might come from letting a few token African-Americans into his party and the conservative movement. That is might white of him.

I guess I just can’t put the new logo of his Republican Confederate Party away anytime soon.

ConfederateGOP Logo


Facts, Constitution no obstacle to stunts, spin May 5: Rachel Maddow helps sort the confirmably factual aspects of the Faisal Shahzad story and the anonymously single-sourced, utterly unreliable aspects of the story. Law professor Jonathan Turley joins to discuss the Constitutionality of Senator Lieberman's proposal to strip accused terrorists of their American citizenship.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) surprised much of the political world yesterday when he announced that he would not seek re-election this year, prompting a new round of questions about the midterms, momentum, and next year's Congress.

But in understanding why, exactly, Obey decided to step down, it's worth noting a remark from his retirement announcement. (via the Wonkbook)

"Frankly, I do not know what I will do next. All I do know is that there has to be more to life than explaining the ridiculous, accountability destroying rules of the Senate to confused, angry, and frustrated constituents."

Explaining his departure, Obey emphasized, "I am bone tired." Nearing 72, that's understandable. But his comment about struggling to try to explain the Senate to angry voters really is the line that warrants special attention.

It must be awfully difficult to explain to constituents why more doesn't get done in Washington. To be sure, this Congress has achieved a great deal -- arguably far more than it gets credit for, in the midst of crises and scandalous GOP obstructionism -- but much of the public still believes institutional dysfunction stands in the way of additional progress, and that belief is well founded.

But voters in general don't know or care about Senate procedure -- filibusters, cloture votes, and secret holds are obscure minutiae to most -- and haven't the foggiest idea that Republican tactics have made governing needlessly arduous.

Of course, the solution seems to be reforming how the dysfunctional Senate works, not driving good lawmakers out of Congress in frustration.

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