Thursday, May 27, 2010

Teabaggers all

John Cole: We’re Already Ruled by Teabaggers

Everyone is linking to this John Heilman piece, which contains this quote:

“Today, it’s hard to find anyone on Wall Street who doesn’t speak of Obama as if he were an unholy hybrid of Bernie Sanders and Eldridge Cleaver. One night not long ago, over dinner with ten executives in the finance industry, I heard the president described as ‘hostile to business,’ ‘anti-wealth,’ and ‘anti-capitalism’; as a ‘redistributionist,’ a ‘vilifier,’ and a ‘thug.’ A few days later, I recounted this experience to the same Wall Street CEO who’d called the Volcker Rule a testicular blow, and mentioned I’d been told that one of the most prominent megabank chiefs, who once boasted to friends of voting for Obama, now refers to him privately as a ‘Chicago mob guy.’ Do all your brethren feel this way? I asked. ‘Oh, not everybody—just most of them,’ he replied. ‘Jamie [Dimon]? Lloyd [Blankfein]? They might not say Obama’s a socialist, but they come pretty close.’”

Much like the teabag morons showing up to HCR debates screaming “KEEP GOVERNMENT OUT OF MY MEDICARE,” the CEO’s are on the dole for billions and are then bemoaning socialism. I guess they think those no interest loans that allows them to keep giving themselves huge bonuses is just a special reward for their capitalist genius.

Just hang them all.

E.J. Dionne on the oil spill in the Gulf and what it teaches us about the arguments on capitalism vs. socialism (via DKos):

"Deregulation" is wonderful until we discover what happens when regulations aren't issued or enforced. Everyone is a capitalist until a private company blunders. Then everyone starts talking like a socialist, presuming that the government can put things right because they see it as being just as big and powerful as its Tea Party critics claim it is.

But the truth is that we have disempowered government and handed vast responsibilities over to a private sector that will never see protecting the public interest as its primary task. The sludge in the gulf is, finally, the product of our own contradictions.

Sargent: Is there a Sarah Palin vileness/absurdity threshold?

A question for fellow reporters and editors: At what point do Sarah Palin's attacks and smears become so vile and absurd that they no longer merit attention? Is there such a point?

Palin, who has broken the mold in so many ways, has defied the laws of political and media gravity in another fashion: Despite the ever-mounting ridiculousness of her claims, she continues to get attention. This isn't so with other figures. Frequently those who traffic in absurdity and smears to get media attention keep upping the ante until their assertions become so grotesque and self-parodic that they are no longer newsworthy.

It's kind of like inflation: Keep printing more money and the value of it keeps dropping. That hasn't happened with Palin.

Yesterday Palin launched a bizarre and rambling attack on a journalist that by any standard should make us seriously pause. Her target was award-winning journalist Joe McGinniss, who has rented the house next door to her to research a book. The short version is that she suggested he might be peeping at her kids.

Palin is siccing her fans on a journalist who might be planning to cover her with something less than outright adoration. Dave Weigel notes that Palin's attack was "strange, unprofessional, and paranoid," and constitued "irresponsible and pathetic bullying."

In fairness, McGinniss is doing something a bit unorthodox, and for that reason this particular standoff is perhaps somewhat newsworthy. But more broadly, as long as Palin isn't an actual candidate for public office, at what point do we stop rewarding every statement from Palin, no matter how vicious or mendacious, with attention? Should there be such a point?

That's a real question, by the way. I'd love to hear what other reporters and editors have to say about this.

UPDATE, 11:31 p.m.: Ruth Marcus makes a detailed case today that the empress has no clothes, which I think makes the above question even more relevant.

Aravosis: What does it say about Sarah Palin that she can't speak even one sentence of correct English?

Maybe we should pass a law that in order to become President you need to be able to utter an entire sentence in correct English.

Ruth Marcus on Sarah Palin:

Three unattractive Palin traits have, if anything, been amplified since the election: her unwillingness to buckle down and do the necessary preparation; her tendency to adopt what McCain adviser Steve Schmidt described as a "down is up and up is down" version of reality; and her enhanced sense of injury at the hands of what she oh so cleverly refers to as the "lamestream media."
Palin's appearance on "Fox News Sunday" pushed me over the edge.

First, there was Palin on Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul, whose candidacy she had championed. Anchor Chris Wallace asked straightforward questions: Was Paul right or wrong in his view that the 1964 Civil Rights Act went too far in banning discrimination in private establishments? What did Palin make of the controversy? He got typically Palinesque answers, rambling and aggrieved:

"I think there is certainly a double standard at play here. When Rand Paul had anticipated that he'd be able to engage in a discussion, he being a libertarian-leaning constitutional conservative, being able to engage in a discussion with a TV character, a media personality, who perhaps had an agenda in asking the question and then interpreting his answer the way that she did, he wanted to talk about, evidently, some hypotheticals as it applies to impacts on the Civil Rights Act, as it impacts our Constitution. So he was given the opportunity finally to clarify, and unequivocally he has stated that he supports the Civil Rights Act."

Actually, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and other interviewers did not ask Paul about "hypotheticals." They asked whether he supported prohibiting private business owners from keeping blacks off their premises.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure blacks being kicked out of businesses wasn't a hypothetical. It was American History 101.
Sully: Quote For The Day
"If Sarah Palin took to her Facebook page tomorrow and posted a note that said, "well, whaddya know, I's'a jus' out trawling' for catfish with my ol' hubby Todd, and a neighbor tol' me that he saw Rahm Emanuel crushing an endangered tropical frog to death while saluting a portrait of Mao, and also the sky is green," you can bet that the next day's "Fox & Friends" would treat the greenness of the sky as a self-evident fact, and Glenn Beck would ask Sarah why Rahm threatened Willow like that," - Alex Pareene.
Ryan Powers: Obama, Corker, and Bipartisanship

Both the Hill and Roll Call have accounts today of an apparently testy exchange between Obama and Sen. Corker at a lunchtime, closed-door meeting yesterday:

“I said, ‘I got to tell you something, there’s a degree of audacity in you being here today,’” Corker said, recalling his exchange with the president. “If you look at your three major initiatives they were almost all done on party-line votes,” Corker told Obama. “I feel we’re all props here today.

“Just last week you engineered a very partisan vote,” Corker added. “I would just like for you to explain to me, when you get up in the morning, and when you come over to lunch like this, how you reconcile that duplicity.”

Obama, of course, has worked very hard the last two years to reach out to Republicans. And Corker, if we take him as his word, would really like to cooperate (he sort of tried it seems on financial reform). But Obama’s failure to secure bipartisanship is hardly duplicitous. The fact of the matter is Obama and Corker are dealing with structural forces that are much larger than themselves. Alan Abramowitz documents this in a paper that he recently presented here at William and Mary, arguing that the partisan divide in Washington is simply a reflection of the partisan divide in the voting public — and not just the political elite:

The gradual disappearance of conservative Democrats and moderate-to-liberal Republicans has had a clear impact on the electoral coalitions of Democratic and Republican Senate candidates. … [O]ver the past four decades on the [American National Election Study] 7- point liberal-conservative scale…the gap between the average location of Democratic and Republican voters has more than doubled, from .8 units to 1.7 units. In 1972, conservative identifiers made up 30 percent of Democratic Senate voters and 43 percent of Republican Senate voters. In 2008, conservative identifiers made up 19 percent of Democratic Senate voters and 72 percent of Republican Senate voters.

Abramowitz concludes, “Rather than indicating that there is a ‘disconnect’ between politicians and voters, polarization in Congress actually indicates that Democratic and Republican members are accurately reflecting the views of the voters who elected them.” He also suggests that the effect of this is more obvious in the Senate than in the House due to reliance on unanimous consent and the filibuster.

It seems that the sooner Obama et al recognize this political reality and learn to work with in it, the better. Recent weeks suggest, however, that the President is getting there.

Ali Frick: Obama Sees Conservatives For Who They Really Are

I want to build off of Ryan’s post below a bit. Ryan pointed out that the existing atmosphere is irrevocably partisan, and that Obama seems — finally — to be noticing:

Noting that sometimes conservative activists portray him with a Hitler moustache, Obama seemed to put to rest any notion that there could be broad-based bipartisan cooperation – something he promised to try to bring to Washington during his 2008 campaign.

“There are members of their base who think if somebody even smiles at me, they think, ‘You’re a traitor. You smiled at Obama,’ ” the president said at fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). “The day has passed when I expected this to be a full partnership.”

There is hardly any “room for cooperation” in the Republican Party, Obama said.

That was a quote from last night. But just hours before, the Obama administration announced it would agree to right-wing demands and send troops to the Mexican border — even though a) the move comes without a full compromise on comprehensive reform and b) troops at the border won’t stop illegal immigration, and c) Obama knows it’s a bad idea (from March: “We’ve got a very big border with Mexico,” the president said. “I’m not interested in militarizing the border.”).

But the larger point is that, if Obama believes what he said last night, then he knows that the move won’t do a thing to bring conservatives to the table on comprehensive immigration reform. (And, as Ryan points out, there seems to be little that could bring conservatives and progressive together right now.)

I guess the strategy is for Obama to constantly reach out to conservatives with compromise, only to have his hand slapped away. Over and over and over again. And then he can go out and say things like he said last night.

The problem with this strategy is two-fold: First, conservatives just make stuff up. They say he is a partisan hack who refuses to compromise — even when this is patently and obviously untrue — and hope enough people are ignorant for them to win. Too often, that strategy works.

Second, when Obama does go to fire up the base as he did last night, those of us there start to wonder whether he actually believes what he’s saying. If he does, we wonder why he keeps reaching out, repeatedly demonstrating his good faith by acceding to central conservative demands (supporting offshore oil drilling, scrapping a public option, ditching an independent CFPA) before negotiations on the larger reform have begun.

On the other hand, it is effective for Obama to point out every time Republicans refuse to work with him — and even more effective when he looks at what conservatives really want to do and points out why it’s so dangerous to America. “You can’t drive!” not only fires up the base, but drives home (excuse the pun) the fundamental point: Conservatives and progressives aren’t working together because these people are maniacs.

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