Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pay attention


It's hard to say with confidence which party will hold the congressional majority next year, but Paul Krugman noted yesterday that "fake scandals" will be all the rage in the 112th Congress if there's a Republican majority.

[W]e'll be having hearings over accusations of corruption on the part of Michelle Obama's hairdresser, janitors at the Treasury, and Larry Summers's doctor's dog. If you don't believe me, you weren't paying attention during the Clinton years; remember, we had months of hearings over claims that something was fishy in the White House travel office (nothing was).

This may sound hyperbolic. It's not. In the Clinton era, House Republicans held two weeks of hearings investigating the Clintons' Christmas card list, and the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform fired a bullet into a "head-like object" -- reportedly a melon -- in his backyard to test his conspiracy theories about Vince Foster. All told, over the last six years of Bill Clinton's presidency, that same committee unilaterally issued 1,052 subpoenas -- that's not a typo -- to investigate baseless allegations of misconduct. That translates to an average of a politically-inspired subpoena every other day for six consecutive years, including weekends, holidays, and congressional recesses.

It would almost certainly be worse in 2011 and 2012. Indeed, the man positioned to lead the committee -- reformed alleged car thief Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) -- has already said he's inclined to leave "corporate America" alone, so he can attack the White House relentlessly.

For that matter, let's also not forget that some Republicans, including two members of Congress, have raised the specter of presidential impeachment once there's a GOP majority.

But Krugman also flagged this item from John Quiggin, reflecting on another likely scenario in the event of a GOP House majority.

What surprises me is that no-one has drawn the obvious inference as to what will follow, namely a shutdown of the US government.

It seems obvious to me that a shutdown will happen -- the Republicans of today are both more extreme and more disciplined than last time they were in a position to shut down the government, and they did it then. And they hate Obama at least as much now as they hated Clinton in 1995.

Agreed. John Boehner (R-Ohio) has already made some noises about refusing to fund health care programs, and given the party's desperation to please its right-wing base, it stands to reason Republicans would gladly shut down the government as a means towards obstructing the agenda approved in 2009 and 2010.

If I were laying odds, I'd say the chances of a prolonged government shutdown next year are well over 50% -- if there's a Republican majority, that is.

  • from the comments:
    In 2006 Republicans (and the compliant media) demanded that Democrats take impeachment off the table, despite well-documented war crimes, perjury and corruption.

    Democrats should demand the same thing, even if Obama's only "high crime and misdemeanor" is PWB -- presidentin' while black.

    Posted by: SteveT on July 18, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Kevin Drum did an excellent post last week debunking the idea that extending the Bush tax cuts is somehow about helping small businesses, pointing out that this is only a tiny share of what’s really going on.

That said, every time this discussion comes up I do want to urge people to resist the frame that says that insofar as a given tax cut really is a way to help small businessmen that that’s somehow super-relevant. Nothing against small businessmen—some of them do some good stuff. But so do some executives at large businesses. So do some highly paid entertainers. The point is that if you own a small business and through your small business you derive an extremely high income, then you’re a rich person. Just like a rich lawyer is a rich person and a rich basketball player is a rich person and a rich Senior Vice President at Gigantocorp is a rich person. So of course when we try to tax rich people via progressive taxes, some of the rich people who pay the tax will be small business owners. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Joan Walsh thoroughly destroys this absolutely shocking piece of journalism by Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander in which she properly characterizes him as "chiding his paper for ignoring [the Black Panther story] while valiant journalists like Fox's Megyn Kelly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh fought to bring light to the darkness."

If you have ever questioned the fact that the Village media is living in an alternate universe Alexander's piece will disabuse you of it. It seems the Post failed miserably by failing to cover the alleged Obama administration cover-up of its BFFs in the New Black Panther Party's voter intimidation scheme. The fact that it is as bogus as the last hysterical racist rightwing scandal, ACORN, seems to be irrelevant. What matters is that the papers show proper deference to rightwing hitmen, regardless of the substance of the charges.

This is going to be a huge battle.

Be sure to read Joan's piece. It's devastating and coming from a professional journalist and editor should be cause for serious discussion among those who care about journalism.
If you have not had a chance to read Ta-Nehisi Coates' coverage of the NAACP/Mark Williams story this week, then I urge you to do it. His beautiful writing expresses the fundamental issue better than anyone.

For instance, answering those who immediately criticized the NAACP, he wrote this:
Dave concedes that the NAACP has a case, but concludes that they're wrong for making it. But they're only wrong for making it because the broader society, evidently, believes that objecting to a call for literacy tests is, in fact, just as racist as a call for literacy tests. This inversion, this crime against sound logic, is at the heart of American white supremacy, and at the heart of a country that has nurtured white supremacy all these sad glorious years.

It is the Founders claiming all men are created equal while building a democracy on property in human beings. It is Confederates crying tyranny, while erecting a country based on tyranny. It is Sherman discriminating against black soldiers, while claiming that his superiors are discriminating against whites. It's Ben Tillman justifying racial terrorism, by claiming that he's actually fighting against terrorism. It is George Wallace defending a system built on bombing children in churches, and then asserting that the upholders of that system are "the greatest people to ever trod this earth."

Those who employ racism are not in the habit of confessing their nature--inversion is their cloak. Cutting out the cancer means confronting that inversion, means not wallowing in on-the-other-handism, in post-racialism, means seeing this as more than some kind of political game. Someone has, indeed, failed here. It is not the NAACP.
Here's an excerpt of Coates' amazingly subtle, then explosively forthright, response to the toxic swill by national tea party leader and FOX News regular Mark Williams:

It's been asked in comments, a few times, what good has come of the NAACP's resolution. I would not endeavor to speak for anyone but myself when I say that I owe the NAACP a debt of gratitude. I have, in my writing, a tendency to become theoretically cute, and overly enamored with my own fair-mindedness. Such vanity has lately been manifested in the form of phrases like "it's worth saying" and "it strikes me that..." or "respectfully..."

When engaging your adversaries, that approach has its place. But it's worth saying that there are other approaches and other places. Among them--respectfully administering the occasional reminder as to the precise nature of the motherfuckers you are dealing with. It strikes me that this is a most appropriate role for the nation's oldest civil rights organization.

And finally, this post, which featured this great routine by Dave Chappelle

I thought this summed up the week, and how a lot of us reacted to Williams racist satire--It was so blatant, you were like "Wow..."

Also, Why Black Writers Tend Not To Shout

And this, the first in the series, The NAACP Was Right

When I was done reading all these posts I was reminded of someone else who had an elegant way with words who found it necessary to remind people of good will that justice isn't negotiable:
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

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