Wednesday, September 15, 2010

a "paranoid psychotic episode"

I don't believe all (or even most) Republicans are anti-sex, science denying, theocratic freaks, but I do believe that significant numbers of them who don't really believe these things are happy to embrace this stuff and candidates who embrace this stuff because they think that it pisses of liberals. Pissing off liberals is the great uniter.
Sully: The Spawn Of Palin
I wonder if this doesn't represent some kind of tipping point for the right, the moment their asinine, vacuous Palinist blather really did meet the reality of this country's profound problems and the need to confront them rather than escape into a fantasy world of cultural paranoia, religious extremism and neurotic nationalism.

I thought it would get worse before it got better. It has happened more quickly and more drastically than I imagined. We went from the obvious fact that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are farcical comic figures to the notion that they are the de facto leaders of a once-great political party. We've now seen the vile propaganda of Dinesh D'Souza embraced by Newt Gingrich, an Arizona candidate seeing headless bodies, and a victorious unelectable Delaware candidate who, among other things, opposes masturbation.

Matthew Norman: From the US comes a nasty whiff

Sarah Palin has a serious, instinctive gift for connecting with the bemused and the credulous that it would be folly to underestimate

The misfortunes of others being the greatest solace in gloomy, scary times, God bless the United States of America! However alarming the fiscal situation over here, however nerve-jangling the anticipation of the forthcoming Spending Review and its impact of industrial relations, however wretched the prospect of the low level civil unrest that follows the scapegoating of the deprived by the wealthy, glancing across the Atlantic cannot fail to raise the spirits.

Exactly what is unfolding there remains hard to identify even for those better placed by geography, experience and intellect than your columnist. But even at this remove it is apparent that America is suffering some kind of paranoid psychotic episode.

The evidence is rich and varied, and extends beyond that crazy old scrote who never quite got round to burning the Koran in Florida, or even that canard du jour about the "Ground Zero Mosque" which, to the blissful unconcern of Fox News and those bamboozled into confusing it with a broadcaster of news, is neither a mosque, of course, nor scheduled for construction at Ground Zero. Hint at the resurgence in Islamophobia that fell dormant surprisingly soon after 9/11 though they might, these conflated outrages paint an imprecise picture.

More instructive, I think, is a political story which may at first strike you as on the irrelevant side of parochial. Seldom in a British newspaper do we read of Delaware, the second smallest state of the union, about which many of us know nothing other than that it provides the title and first line of a catchily imbecilic song, "What Did Delaware (Boys, What Did Delaware)?"

In the old days, she wore a brand New Jersey. But times have changed, and today she may have swapped that pristine woollen garment for a straitjacket. With the mid-term elections for Congress due in November, many voters in the primary for Republican senatorial candidate have plumped for somebody even they, Tea Party chimps though they are, know cannot conceivably win.

Nurturer-in-chief of this suicidal instinct, inevitably, is Sarah Palin, the Jimmy Jones of the Grand Old Party. Buoyed by a spectacularly destructive Vanity Fair portrait quoting her weeping over her own inadequacy to cope with the demands of governing Alaska, Palin flirts ever more openly with running for the far less challenging position of president. Those who snort derisively at her chances of winning the GOP nomination in any field containing better informed and more articulate rivals than might be found in a Petri dish may find in Delaware a compelling vignette.

That primary was held yesterday, and the result is unknown at the time of writing. Yet even if the Republican establishment candidate, a moderate Congressman called Mike Castle, defeated his Palin-endorsed, Tea Party Express opponent Christine O'Donnell, the fact that the outcome was in doubt to the last alone tells its tale.

In opinion polls matching them against Democratic candidate Chris Coons, Mr Castle wins by a mile and Ms O'Donnell loses by further still. No wonder the Democrats have been "salivating" at the notion of facing the latter, and the Republican establishment quaking at the prospect of her victory obliterating the party in a state not given to the fear-stoking nastery that makes the Tea Party such an impressive tribute act to the late Joe McCarthy.

This grassroots movement, so crudely but skilfully seeded and propagated by Palin and her sidekick Glenn Beck, would rather lose a national election with a candidate who precisely mirrors its prejudices than win it by supporting one who does not. Such fearsome integrity may yet propel Palin to the presidential nomination. No one, herself included, has a clear idea whether she intends to run against Obama in 2012, although the superficial signs – first noted almost a year ago when she dined and prayed with Billy Graham; more obvious now from the love she is lavishing on Iowa, the first state to choose its presidential candidates – suggest she does.

The danger she represents has little to do with her chances of becoming president. In a general election, at least according to all current polling, she could no more beat a Stalinist llama than Barack Obama. The vast majority of Americans are not wilfully stupid, however much it assuages our classical British insecurities to believe so.

But even a small minority of Americans becomes a loud and petrifying force when amplified by the pernicious megaphone that is Mr Murdoch's Fox network. It is as the figurehead of the Tea Party, and personification of the racism that is spreading throughout the United States, where almost one on five Americans now believes Obama is a Muslim, that she is a clear and present danger.

The woman whose claim to have the requisite foreign policy experience for becoming vice-president rested solely on having kept look-out for encroaching Russian jets from the porch of her Wasilla home cannot be mistaken for an intellectual giantess, but she has a serious, instinctive gift for connecting with the bemused and credulous that it would be folly to underestimate. Intuitively she understands how to stoke baseless fears – wickedly, brilliantly, she coined the phrase "death panels" regarding Obamacare – as all ambitious rabble-rousers of the ultra far right must.

She will never lead the free world. But as the most useful idiot available to those powerfully entrenched reactionary forces to whom Republican politicians are no more than conduits to persuading Americans to vote against own their own economic interests, she is priceless.

Watching the Tea Party crush centrist Republicans in race after race regardless of the damage this will do the GOP in November, noting the fanaticism at the rallies headlined by Palin and Beck, and recalling from his own childhood the power of crazed but charismatic rhetoric over a middle class grown poor and confused in Wehrmacht Germany, Noam Chomsky sniffs fascism on the breeze.

If that sounds hysterical, please God that it is. But something dark and hateful is stirring in America, and it seems certain to grow as long as unemployment and poverty persist. On Inauguration Day some 20 months ago it felt almost like a curse not to be American. Today it feels quite a blessing to be British.

Peter Fenn Democratic media consultant :

Poor Republicans. They are beginning to resemble the bar scene from Star Wars. They are purging the conservative voices in their party who have any sort of pragmatic perspective and substituting true kooks. These are not just candidates with hard right views -- they took over the Republican Party in the late '70s and early '80s -- these are candidates who, as the Republican chair in Delaware put it, don't deserve to be dog catcher. Serious ethics issues. No record of accomplishment. Little of any substance on the issues. They are, pure and simple, vessels for anger and unbridled simplicity. The Grand Old Party is fast devouring itself. Political tsunamis do wash up a lot of dead fish on the beach -- it happened when Republicans captured 12 Senate seats in 1980. It appears to be happening again, only worse.

Marshall: Rove Pummeled in Lord o' Flies Style Smackdown

After shattering Sean Hannity's world last night by saying that Christine O'Donnell is nuts, Karl Rove is now being treated to a web-wide rightwing smackdown for talking smack about O'Donnell.


Congressional Republicans haven't played a constructive role in policymaking over the last couple of years, in part because they disagree so strongly with Democrats, but there's more to it than that. They've also boxed themselves in -- after a party condemns a president as an illegitimate Communist intent on destroying on America, the party has left itself very little room for compromise.

Indeed, based on its own larger attack strategy, how can the GOP be expected to find common ground with a policy agenda it considers un-American? It's how we go from the GOP agreeing with 80% of the Democratic health care plan to the GOP considering the same plan "Armageddon." Republicans have positioned themselves in such a way as to make working with those who may disagree with them largely impossible.

But this dynamic is not limited to policymaking. Jon Chait explained overnight how this attitude -- the GOP have characterized their efforts as "a twilight struggle to save the last vestiges of the Republic" -- applies to campaign politics.

The premise of all these pleas for [Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican Senate primary] was extremely sensible: this is politics. Sometimes you move the ball forward, sometimes the other team moves it forward. Sometimes you make compromises in order to get ahead.

But the Republican base has been taught not to think this way. This isn't just politics, remember? This is a twilight struggle for freedom. And Mike Castle didn't just cast a couple bad votes. He acquiesced in a sinister plan to undermine capitalism. How could they ever support a candidate like that?

Quite right. These voters have been told by their party not to compromise or settle for partial victories. There's just too much at stake, they're told. Evil forces are trying to take your country away.

Easily misled and manipulated people bought into this rhetoric. They've come to believe it's their responsibility to elect radical ideologues who'll save us from impending doom. Sensible people with last names like Castle, Crist, Specter, Bennett, Murkowski, and Inglis were insufficiently right-wing, so they were cast aside.

These activists have been fed red meat that's been tainted without their knowledge -- and now those who did the tainting are frustrated when the activists end up sick.

There's a limit to this, of course. Republicans are still poised to have an exceptionally good election cycle, and many of the lunatic candidates who've won primaries without the party's backing are very likely to win anyway.

But stepping, even after the GOP's expected gains, Republicans' carefully-executed strategy will leave them with (a) fewer wins than they would have had; (b) a smaller, more extreme party; (c) a base that's been taught to reject any and all compromises; and (d) a party incapable of governing effectively.

As I said earlier, Frankenstein didn't like his monster very much, but he still had to live with the consequences.

Aravosis: Anti-masturbation activist wins GOP Senate primary in Delaware

As Joe mentioned earlier, an anti-Masturbation activist just won the Republican US Senate primary in Delaware. Ironically, she's a Teabagger. All jokes aside, this is what the Republican party has come to. Their US Senate nominees now include anti-masturbation activists. The party has been taken over by the far-right fringe, and as Joe and I wrote a while back, that's all well and good until the Democrats screw up to the point that the voters replace them with whoever is available, regardless of how nutty.

Anne Laurie:Watching the Clown Car Empty

One of the small consolations of getting ringside seats to the Teabagger/Confederate Party implosion is that Charles P. Pierce will be doing a weekly series for Esquire’s Politics blog:

There is a real danger in overthinking what happened in Delaware on Tuesday night, which is not something of which the winner of the state’s GOP senatorial primary ever has been accused…

... Christine O’Donnell is a sideshow freak.

Seriously now, she was a crackpot when she rose on primary morning, and she’s a crackpot now, and she will be a crackpot whether she wins or loses in November. She no more belongs in the Senate of the United States today than she did the day she was born. That 30,000-odd primates in Delaware thinks she belongs there is their problem. If enough people in Delaware come to think so, then she becomes our problem.

O’Donnell is a creature of an age in which politics have no meaning beyond performance art. She is the Creature From The Green Room, with no apparent public career beyond being available whenever some teenage booker from the cable shows needed someone to say something reliably stupid… Her resume is so thin as to be opaque, and a lot of it seems to be a lie. She seems to be something of a deadbeat, and “U.S. Senator” seems to be her idea of an entry-level position. This morning, she stands one step away from the job…

She is what politics produces when you turn them into a game show and the coverage of them over to a generation of high-technology racetrack touts. She is what you get when political journalism reduces politics to numbers on a scoreboard, divorcing them from the real world consequences of what are increasingly seen as cute little eccentric decisions.

She is what politics produces when we abandon self-government for self-gratification. And that’s the real obvious irony in her victory on Tuesday night, and the only thing about it that truly matters. Christine O’Donnell’s campaign is a successful exercise in angry, misfit masturbation, with as little to do with the deadly problems this country faces as some guy wanking in the balcony of a grindhouse has to do with Romeo and Juliet.

Dave Weigel has a “Requiem for Mike Castle“:

I’m from Delaware, born in 1981, and can not remember a time when Mike Castle wasn’t being elected to something…There are two parties here: the party that does what the banks and DuPont wants, and the party that loses. Castle was the undisputed leader of the first party.

... There are tens of thousands of Delawareans who were expecting to vote for Mike Castle who are now given a choice between their workmanlike county executive, Chris Coons, and a woman who spent two weeks on the cover of the News Journal for stories about her trouble paying college fees, her lawsuit against her former employer ISI, her appearance in a MTV special about abstinence, etc, and etc, and etc. She got such rough treatment from the paper that she stopped talking to it…

[O’Donnell’s] victory was only possible because, for the first time, political donors and activists from outside our little state picked a target, froze it, and polarized it. But the message I am getting tonight is clear—neither the state GOP nor the NRSC will spend any resources on O’Donnell. Mike Castle could win in Delaware, and she can’t. I’d amend that slightly: No one like O’Donnell, a pure ideological candidate, has won a statewide race in Delaware in modern times. Maybe she’ll be the first! But the most likely scenario is that a shocked Delaware electorate elevates Coons to the U.S. Senate while waiting to see if it can give Castle another crack at statewide office in 2012. It’s what we’re used to.

And just so we don’t become too fixated on the latest shiny political object, Alex Pareene at Salon reminds us about August’s Flavor-of-the-Month Repub Nutball: “Rand Paul doesn’t understand how budgets, the Senate, math work.”

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