Sunday, February 28, 2010

Last Call

Hats off to our northern neighbors for the Olympic show.  We're pretty grateful you guys let us come over and smack you around for 37 medals.  In all seriousness however, it was a great event:
The U.S. won a record 37 medals, with a silver from the men's hockey final. The U.S. total included golds by the four-man bobsled team led by driver Steven Holcomb, the first gold medal ever by a skier in Nordic Combined (Bill Demong), and the expected brilliance of Shaun White in the snowboard halfpipe.

To their credit, despite a slow start and some disappointments in events that were supposed to be almost sure things, the Canadians won a record number of gold medals, with that one big event, the men's hockey championship, remaining on Sunday.

But no gold medal was as stirring, as inspiring, as the bronze won by figure skater Joannie Rochette, who competed despite the death of her beloved mother two days before the women's short program.

She skated flawlessly in that first night of the competition, then dazzled the crowd in the free skate, winning the hearts of a nation and the respect of those watching around the world.

Years from now, they will talk of her strength and her bravery, but she just saw herself as the daughter who shared a dream with a mother who wouldn't let her fail.

She wasn't perfect in her performance, but in an imperfect Games, she was a beacon of all that is right about sports.
An imperfect Games in an imperfect world.  Still, nice to see the world put it aside every couple of years and play games.

We even forgive you for Nickelback.

Eliminationist Nation

I've talked about Dave Neiwert and his term for the most egregious of the Winger insanityeliminationism.  It's pretty gruesome stuff, by definition, and its most visible adherent these days is Glenn Beck.
What motivates this kind of talk and behavior is called eliminationism: a politics and a culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas in favor of the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through suppression, exile, and ejection, or extermination.
Rhetorically, eliminationism takes on certain distinctive shapes. It always depicts its opposition as beyond the pale, the embodiment of evil itself, unfit for participation in their vision of society, and thus worthy of elimination. It often further depicts its designated Enemy as vermin (especially rats and cockroaches) or diseases, and disease-like cancers on the body politic. A close corollary—but not as nakedly eliminationist—are claims that opponents are traitors or criminals and that they pose a threat to our national security.
Eliminationism is often voiced as crude "jokes," a sense of humor inevitably predicated on venomous hatred. And such rhetoric—we know as surely as we know that night follows day—eventually begets action, with inevitably tragic results.
If this sounds familiar to you, it should:  it's the primary theme of Beck's recent CPAC speech where he compared progressivism to a "cancer" that was destroying America.  He also called for it to be "eradicated".

And that's a deadly theme we see in nearly all the most dangerous Tea Party rhetoric.  Progressives exist to be destroyed, to be excised from America and the world.  How do you reason with people who want to destroy you, don't even see you as human?

Sunday Funnies: Johnny Volcano, San Fran Nan, And A Lizard

This week's Bobblespeak Translations are here, fresh from the bakery to you.
Gregory: what happened at the health care summit?

McCain: it was 7 hours - almost as much fun as
a Matlock marathon

Gregory: so it was good

McCain: yes but the President is planning to seize tyrannical power by passing laws with 51 votes

Gregory: so how will you react if the Democrats
do this terrible thing

McCain: reconciliation is evil

Gregory: you voted for reconciliation 9 times

McCain: yes but I objected strenuously to my votes

Gregory: Obama reminded you that the American people hate you

McCain: yes but the idea that you pass laws with
60 votes and a massive majority in the House is
just plain crazy

Gregory: how odd

McCain: it’s totally unsavory to make a deal to build a hospital in Connecticut behind closed doors

Gregory: you’re kidding

McCain: policy cannot be made by deals made
with lawmakers

Gregory: with all due respect you cannot possibly
be serious

McCain: I am serious and don’t offer me pudding
if you don’t have any

Gregory: John I didn’t offer you pudding

McCain: [ yells at cloud ]
Seriously, President McVolcano has been on the Sunday Funnies what, 3.7e43 times since he won in 2008 and Republicans swept into power with huge margins in the House and Senate?  Am I missing something here?

In Which Zandar Calls Equine Fecal Matter On Steve Benen

And having just got done chastising Frank Rich, we now have Nancy Pelosi making the political argument that the  Tea Party should be hating the Republicans and trying to drive a wedge between them and the Tea Party.  Even worse, somebody who really should know better, Steve Benen, agrees.
There are multiple factions within this so-called "movement," and it's often challenging to keep track of what it is, exactly, that these activists are so worked up about. Much of the time, the Teabaggers themselves don't really know why they're so angry.

But Pelosi's suggestion that the activists have a fair amount in common with Democrats' progressive ideas is not as foolish as it might seem. The "movement" cares about fiscal responsibility? Then the activists certainly would have no use for Republicans, who added $5 trillion to the debt, left Dems with a $1.3 trillion deficit to clean up, and deliberately decided that they could expand government without paying for it. More recently, the GOP rejected PAYGO and a deficit commission that they proposed. If fiscal responsibility is a top concern, it's entirely reasonable to argue Democrats are the more fiscally responsible party.

The "movement" cares about wealthy interests dictating public policy over the needs of regular Americans? Then the activists certainly would have no use for Republicans, who not only run corporate lobbyists as candidates, but barely make a move without getting lobbyists' permission.

The "movement" cares about taxes? Then the activists certainly would have no use for Republicans, who voted against one of the largest tax-cut packages for the middle class in American history when they opposed the recovery effort a year ago.

The "movement" cares about the size and scope of government? Then the activists certainly would have no use for Republicans, who expanded Medicare and enthusiastically embraced government intercepting Americans' communications without a warrant.

To be sure, much of the Tea Party crowd is well beyond reason, and has embraced delusional and paranoid right-wing fantasies. For these folks, Speaker Pelosi's remarks will likely be laughable.

But for some of the well-intentioned factions, the notion of driving a wedge isn't entirely far-fetched.
Steve?  Horseshit.  Absolute, 100% Horseshit.  The "reasonable faction" of the Tea Party is using taxes, size and scope of government, lobbyists and fiscal responsibility as intellectual cover for their John Birch/Ayn Rand anti-government ravings, and you damn well know it.  Drive a wedge?  Really?  How?

These guys know what's up:  purge the Republican Party of the people they don't like (the RINOs) and replace them with John Birch/Ayn Rand types in the primaries.  That's the difference:  The Obama hating nutbars will vote for the Republican no matter what.  The "reasonable faction" of the Tea Party will make their move at the primaries instead.

You think these guys will ever vote for a Democrat?  No.  It just means they will differ at primary time.  Once that candidate is set, the target is the Democrat in the race.  No wedge issues there.

Any Tea Party member who says they're independent and would consider voting for "the right Democrat" is lying to you.

You should really know better, Steve.

Tea-tering On The Edge

I've argued that there's no difference between the GOP and the Tea Party, and that they are united in common by Obama Derangement Syndrome.  Frank Rich on the other hand makes the firebagger argument:  Tea Party faithful hate Bush Republicans just as much and want to see almost all incumbents tossed out.
The distinction between the Tea Party movement and the official G.O.P. is real, and we ignore it at our peril. While Washington is fixated on the natterings of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Michael Steele and the presumed 2012 Republican presidential front-runner, Mitt Romney, these and the other leaders of the Party of No are anathema or irrelevant to most Tea Partiers. Indeed, McConnell, Romney and company may prove largely irrelevant to the overall political dynamic taking hold in America right now. The old G.O.P. guard has no discernible national constituency beyond the scattered, often impotent remnants of aging country club
Republicanism. The passion on the right has migrated almost entirely to the Tea Party’s counterconservatism.

The leaders embraced by the new grass roots right are a different slate entirely: Glenn Beck, Ron Paul and Sarah Palin. Simple math dictates that none of this trio can be elected president. As George F. Will recently pointed out, Palin will not even be the G.O.P. nominee “unless the party wants to lose at least 44 states” (as it did in Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Waterloo). But these leaders do have a consistent ideology, and that ideology plays to the lock-and-load nutcases out there, not just to the peaceable (if riled up) populist conservatives also attracted to Tea Partyism. This ideology is far more troubling than the boilerplate corporate conservatism and knee-jerk obstructionism of the anti-Obama G.O.P. Congressional minority.
He's both correct and incorrect here.  He's absolutely correct about the Tea Party folks being potentially violent, dangerous, even deadly:
Such violent imagery and invective, once largely confined to blogs and talk radio, is now spreading among Republicans in public office or aspiring to it. Last year Michele Bachmann, the redoubtable Tea Party hero and Minnesota congresswoman, set the pace by announcing that she wanted “people in Minnesota armed and dangerous” to oppose Obama administration climate change initiatives. In Texas, the Tea Party favorite for governor, Debra Medina, is positioning herself to the right of the incumbent, Rick Perry — no mean feat given that Perry has suggested that Texas could secede from the union. A state sovereignty zealot, Medina reminded those at a rally that “the tree of freedom is occasionally watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”

In the heyday of 1960s left-wing radicalism, no liberal Democratic politicians in Washington could be found endorsing groups preaching violent revolution. The right has a different history. In the months before McVeigh’s mass murder, Helen Chenoweth and Steve Stockman, then representing Idaho and Texas in Congress, publicly empathized with the conspiracy theories of the far right that fueled his anti-government obsessions.

In his Times article on the Tea Party right, Barstow profiled Pam Stout, a once apolitical Idaho retiree who cast her lot with a Tea Party group allied with Beck’s 9/12 Project, the Birch Society and the Oath Keepers, a rising militia group of veterans and former law enforcement officers who champion disregarding laws they oppose. She frets that “another civil war” may be in the offing. “I don’t see us being the ones to start it,” she told Barstow, “but I would give up my life for my country.”

Whether consciously or coincidentally, Stout was echoing Palin’s memorable final declaration during her appearance at the National Tea Party Convention earlier this month: “I will live, I will die for the people of America, whatever I can do to help.” It’s enough to make you wonder who is palling around with terrorists now.
But he's 100% incorrect when he says that's different from the GOP.  The country club Republicans may not be actively mentioning watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants, but to them Obama Derangement Syndrome and the Tea Party is still a means to an end, and that end is retaking Congress from the Democrats.  They may not actively admit overtly supporting these tinfoil-wrapped bits of lunacy that the Birthers, Tenthers, and 9/12ers bring to the Tea Party, but they are making no effort at all to renounce them, either.

Frank Rich is partially correct when he says the Tea Party is dangerous, but functionally they are no different than the GOP, and both sides know it.  They just want to the see the Democrats gone in flames, and one faction is simply more honest about the lengths they will go to in order to accomplish it.

That's the only difference.  Trying to pretend the mainstream GOP is somehow filled with rational actors who wish to work with the Democrats to save America from this recession is Village idiocy.  If Rich is really interested in warning us about the Tea Party, he needs to start by telling the GOP leadership to stop embracing these dangerous nutjobs, not looking for ways to get the Republicans off the hook ahead of time.  They created this monster and lost control of it.

Call them out on it, and ask them why they are not renouncing it daily.  A real journalist concerned with the safety of America as Rich really, honestly seems to be here would not be making the mistake of dismissing the GOP leadership as irrelevant to this fight in 2010.

On the contrary, they are entirely relevant, because you should be asking GOP leaders what they plan to do to stop the Tea Party.

Your article is a cop-out.  That's a shame too, because you're right about them being dangerous.

Georgia On My Mind

Yet another Republican is retiring from the House, this time Georgia's John Linder.
Republican Rep. John Linder of Georgia won't seek re-election in November's midterm election, a National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman said.

Linder made the announcement Saturday during a speech at the Gwinnett County Republican headquarters in his home state, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

"It has been an honor to serve alongside John and his presence in the House will surely be missed," NRCC Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said in a statement.
The DRCC has a point when it responded with this:
Linder and his fellow House Republicans who are not seeking re-election this year, are "not buying the hype from [House Minority Leader] John Boehner and the NRCC that House Republicans will somehow take back the House," DCCC national press secretary Ryan Rudominer said in a statement.
Indeed.  Clearly Linder doesn't think the GOP's getting back the House at all.  If things are looking so wonderful for the GOP, why retire now?  Linder's retirement takes the number up to 20 for the Republicans, with 7 coming in just the first two months of the year.  Republicans looking for Linder's seat?

Well, that may include former Braves hurler John Smoltz.  We'll see.

[UPDATE 10:50 AM] Jon Singer at MYDD points out that Linder is the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means subcommittee that handles food stamps, federal aid to families, and oh yeah, Social Security.  That means he would end up chairman of that subcommittee if the GOP took back the House.  That would make him a very powerful and key person in the GOP's efforts to "reform" entitlement programs.

But he's retiring instead from a relatively safe Georgia red district.  He's giving that up completely.   There's no reason for Linder to call it quits, if anything he's in line for a powerful chair...if he believes the GOP will take back the House anytime soon.

He's gone instead.
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