Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Cheshire Cat's Smile

Over at Agonist, Numerian has a damn good summation of the fade from power of the Republican Party (emphasis mine):
This is a party that isn’t merely trying to erase the past; it honestly does not recognize it had anything to do with the Bush administration. Republicans have retreated to the 1990s and the glorified days of Reagan in the 1980s. They have stepped up the class and racial warfare to levels so absurd and unbelievable that no one is paying attention to them. Calling Obama a Magic Negro or a socialist or a Communist doesn’t frighten the public because the words are meaningless, and Americans have learned what real fright is having lived through eight years of the Bush administration.

With Arlen Specter’s departure, we now have prominent Republicans like Senator Jim DeMint saying this is proof that the party is ready for a resurgence of public support. He thinks losing a senator from a large northern state is a positive thing, and the intellectual stalwarts of the party such as Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh are urging Specter to take RINOS like John McCain, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe with him (a RINO is a Republican in Name Only).

This is a very odd spectacle. You would think that a party that has lost the White House, Senate, House of Representatives, plus multiple governorships and state legislatures would seek a way back from the political wilderness. Instead, the Republicans are folding up their big tent and eagerly embracing oblivion. Senator DeMint has said this week he would rather have 30 senators who are true to the Republican cause than 60 who are wavering in their political principles.

Some Republicans are fighting back. Putative party leader John McCain, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and dynastic standard-bearer Jeb Bush have formed something called the National Council for a New America. They are joined by Republican Congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell and John Boener in hosting a series of town hall meetings designed to listen to Americans and their concerns in order to re-brand the Republican Party.

There are two problems with this. As John McCain well knows, the people who attend Republican town hall meetings – the rank and file of the Republican Party – are the disaffected and marginalized middle class – almost exclusively white – who respond to the Republican fear-mongering. These are the people who are afraid of immigrants, who think liberals are traitors who should be swinging from lampposts, who believe the left has destroyed the moral fiber of this country, and who have a profound distrust of government. Because they are the base of the Republican Party, their own disaffected and marginalized status has come to define the position of the party in this country.

The second problem has to do with re-branding the party into some other image. Republican leaders don’t recognize that George W. Bush destroyed the brand. It is permanently identified with incompetence, corruption, religious fanaticism, crony capitalism, deficit spending, and the utter abandonment of the people’s constitutional rights. The realization is slowly sinking into the national consciousness that Republicans should never, ever be allowed to wield political power at any level lest they bring even further ruination to the country.

And the topper to all this is The Great GOP Plan: they are hoping, praying, and wildly cheering for a major disaster to befall Barack Obama and America.

This is a group of people so certain that they are right, so convinced that disaster is imminent, so desperate for vindication that they want the country to be destroyed for the simple reason that they can then leverage that disaster into political power to undo the Obama administration.

And every piece of legislation that Obama passes, every week that goes by with Obama still having good poll numbers, makes the Wingers more and more nervous and angry. What they are truly afraid of is that the public believes Barack Obama and will support his agenda...and they are terrified of the fact that agenda will work to improve the lives of Americans.

So they dredge up misleading facts, half-truths, and damn lies to declare the Obama agenda already a failure: Government health care is already a way of life in Europe and Canada and you'll have to wait six weeks to see a doctor! The government will waste trillions and destroy your small business! Barack Obama isn't even an American citizen! He will destroy America as we know it!

They are so afraid that he might be right that we must never be given the chance to find out. The Party of No doesn't just dislike him, they despise the President with a hatred that borders on the lunatic. They must lie and cheat and steal their way to stopping him, because if Barack Obama is proven right, then the Republican Party is finished.

And that is what the Wingers truly fear.

The Moustache And The Military

Me on Pakistan, yesterday:
It seems obvious to me. This is our brilliant plan in Pakistan: to stand by and possibly allow a military coup to take over the country because it's the only way to convince the Pakistani Army to take out the Taliban.
Former Bushie UN Ambassador John Bolton, today:
To prevent catastrophe will require considerable American effort and unquestionably provoke resistance from many Pakistanis, often for widely differing reasons. We must strengthen pro-American elements in Pakistan's military so they can purge dangerous Islamicists from their ranks; roll back Taliban advances; and, together with our increased efforts in Afghanistan, decisively defeat the militants on either side of the border. This may mean stifling some of our democratic squeamishness and acquiescing in a Pakistani military takeover, if the civilian government melts before radical pressures. So be it.
Hate to say I told you so, but.

In all seriousness if Obama is listening to the neo-cons on this, we have a problem. In fact, if Gen. Petraeus is honestly saying "We should consider engineering a coup to let the military take over in order to secure Pakistan's nukes" then we're in far, far deeper trouble in Pakistan right now than anyone imagined. Bolton is saying that Musharraf was a mistake, but that the current democratically elected civilian government is worse because it can't convince the Army to go fight the Taliban.

In other words, we don't need democracy in Pakistan in the Bolton view. We just need them to kill who we tell them to kill.

What Did You Expect, FOX?

FOX News continues to play the aggrieved victim card from Wednesday, claiming Barack Obama hates them after FOX refused to air the President's press conference.

Soon after the event, Fox News was complaining. That's hardly odd. But 48 hours later, the carping was still going strong.

Chris Wallace, for example, whined yesterday about the president "boycotting" Fox News, because Fox didn't air the press conference the way the real networks did. (Is "boycott" really the right word here?) Fox News White House correspondent Major Garrett said Friday the president deliberately sought "retribution" against the Republican network. Last night, Sean Hannity was outraged. Glenn Beck whined, "What a surprise. I mean how can the guy face Ahmadinejad but he can't face Fox?"

This is all terribly silly. For one thing, Fox News should be pleased it's even allowed to attend White House press conferences, as if it were a legitimate, professional news outlet. I've always considered it quite generous that the president's team doesn't just dismiss the network as a propaganda machine.

But more important is the fact that the network's incessant complaining overlooks recent history.

It's hard to suggest that Obama doesn't want to "face" Fox News, given that its White House correspondent, Major Garrett, was called on at the two previous prime-time news conferences. When Fox suggested that they were not being given enough access to Obama during last fall's presidential campaign, Garrett actually defended Obama. "[M]ay I point out Obama has done 5 interviews with me and one with Chris Wallace, one with Brit Hume and one with Bill O'Reilly," Garrett wrote in an e-mail obtained by Huffington Post.

Obama decided not to call on Fox News for one press conference, after having called on the network in the two previous press conferences. This is hardly grounds for days of on-air whimpering.

Of course the real point of the FOX refusal to was to suggest it was the first signs of media blowback against a somehow deeply unpopular President that has to resort to spouting propaganda across the airwaves because he's so very much reviled by America.

Epic Internet Technology Leverage Fail

Someone should inform Red State's Erick Erickson that the downside to having micro-message technology like Twitter is the fact that people can actually see what you're sending out.

Editing the tweet, then sending it out the second time with proper Twitter tag etiquette on it while keeping the expletives?


This Week's Busted Banks

Another three banks brings the total after four months to 32.
Regulators seized banks in Georgia, New Jersey and Utah yesterday, boosting the tally of failed lenders in the U.S. this year to 32 and tapping more than $1.4 billion from the federal government’s deposit-insurance fund.

Silverton Bank of Atlanta, a commercial bank, was shut by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Citizens Community Bank of Ridgewood, New Jersey, and America West Bank of Layton, Utah, were seized by state regulators. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was named receiver for all three. Silverton was the largest failure since Downey Financial Corp. was shut in November, costing the FDIC about $1.37 billion.

The FDIC’s deposit-insurance fund, supported by fees on insured banks, fell 45 percent to $18.9 billion in the fourth quarter after 25 banks closed in 2008 amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The U.S. economy contracted at a 6.1 percent annual rate from January through March, the weakest performance since 1957-1958.

Still on track for nearly 100 bank failures this year folks. And these are the banks the FDIC has to admit to letting fail.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition

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