Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Last Call For The Party Of Caitlyn Jenner

America met Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce) Tuesday, and it took less than 24 hours for the Republican party she supports to turn on her completely.  Brendan O'Neill at the Spectator:

The worship of Caitlyn, and the hectoring of anyone who refuses to scrape before her icon, has graphically exposed the intolerant edge to trans thinking. The insistence that we not only refer to Bruce/Caitlyn as ‘she’ but also project this backwards – recognising, in the words of the Guardian, that she has ‘always been a woman’ – is borderline Orwellian. It’s a rewriting of history, a memory-holing of old inconvenient facts. Strikingly, the Guardian writer says people like Bruce/Caitlyn have ‘always been women… even when they were “fathering” children’. Notice it’s the ‘fathering’ bit that is in scare quotes, suggesting it wasn’t real, while the description of Bruce as a woman is treated as an incontestable truth. War is peace, freedom is slavery, man is woman.

Nice.  And then today, El Rushbo went on the offensive:

Limbaugh said on his radio show Tuesday that liberals are trying to “redefine normalcy” in an effort to stigmatize conservatives and that conservatives shouldn’t agree to their terms by accepting Caitlyn Jenner as a woman.

He likewise dismissed a conservative blog that wrote that Republicans should embrace Jenner as one of their own to seem more humane, saying that doing so would constitute falling into a liberal trap. 
Under this system, “conservatives and Republicans are the new weirdos, the new kooks,” the pundit said, “and that is part of the political objective here in normalizing all of this really marginal behavior. I mean, if less than 1 percent of the population is engaging in it, it’s marginalized behavior. It isn’t normal, no matter how you define it.” 
“We should not be celebrating this, we should not be lionizing this, we should not be encouraging this. These people have a very serious problem, and they need treatment,” he said. “They need help, not encouragement.”

You didn't honestly think that with Bruce being a long-time Republican that Republicans would accept Caitlyn, did you?

Moderately Radical In Congress

As I said last week, the notion that the Democrats are somehow as radically ideological as Republicans is nonsense, and the data is so overwhelmingly indicative of the complete opposite of Peter Wehner's accusations that it almost proves just how radically conservative the GOP has become in the last 40 years.

Political scientists have known for years that political polarization is largely a one-sided phenomenon: in recent decades the Republican Party has moved to the right much faster than Democrats have moved to the left. As Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution has described it, "Republicans have become a radical insurgency—ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the inherited policy regime, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of their political opposition."

The data backing this claim up are pretty solid. The most widely-used measure of political polarization, a score of ideology based on votingdeveloped by Kenneth Poole and Howard Rosenthal, has shown that the Republicans in the Senate and especially the House have drifted away from the center far more rapidly than Democrats. The chart below, taken from the most recent slice of their data released just last month, illustrate this pretty clearly:

In other words, House Democrats are almost as liberal as they were in the 1920's, and have been drifting back towards that level since WW II after a sharply moderate turn during the Great Depression.  House Republicans on the other hand have been skyrocketing towards radical conservatism since the Carter administration.

That's not the shocking part.  This is the shocking part.

Some 90% of Republicans are partisans, with 10% moderates (or squishy, traitorous RINOs are they are called in 2015.)  90% of Democrats are in fact moderates, precisely the opposite.  And again, House Republican radicalism skyrocketed since 1976 or so.  If anything, from Eisenhower through Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford the Republicans had a higher percentage of moderates than the Democrats.

This is why our Congress is broken and has been for basically my entire lifetime.

New Republicans, Old Problems

Twenty years after Timothy McVeigh blew up a government building in Oklahoma City, the Republican party of today has adopted many parts of his militia manifesto.

Republican presidential candidates gathered last month at the Oklahoma City Cox Conference Center, just a few blocks from the site of what was the Alfred R. Murrah Federal Building. Two decades ago, anti-government militia sympathizer Timothy McVeigh blew it up in what he called an act of war against the U.S. government. It was the worst crime of domestically bred terrorism in American history. McVeigh was executed in 2001, but since then, some of his militia ideals have gone mainstream and even been introduced as laws in many states, including Oklahoma. 
Legislators in dozens of states have submitted proposals to nullify or block federal laws—a longtime goal of militias. These have included exempting states from federal gun laws and educational standards, as well as, of course, Obamacare. That doesn’t make these anti-federal statutes part of McVeigh’s madness, but Republican politicians now often echo conspiracy theories once relegated to troglodyte pamphlets. And several states have passed laws making gold a currency—a step toward returning to the gold standard—even though currency is a federal responsibility. 
When Cliven Bundy engaged in an armed standoff with Bureau of Land Management agents in 2014, after a federal court order demanded he get his cattle off federal land, as he hadn’t paid grazing fees for 20 years, several of the current Republican presidential candidates sided with the outlaw. As armed militia members converged in Nevada to protect Bundy, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called the events “the unfortunate and tragic culmination of the path President Obama has set the federal government on.” Rick Perry, then the governor of Texas, said: “I have a problem with the federal government putting citizens in the position of having to feel like they have to use force to deal with their own government.” Mike Huckabee opined: “There is something incredibly wrong when a government believes that some blades of grass that a cow is eating is [such] an egregious affront to the government of the United States that we would literally put a gun in a citizen’s face and threaten to shoot him over it.”

Tarso Ramos, executive director of Political Research Associates, which tracks right-wing extremism, says these and other formerly fringe ideas mainstreamed after McVeigh’s assault—just not right away. “The Oklahoma City bombing had a sobering effect for a while,” he says. “Then, with the election of Obama, you get a whole new wave of Patriot activity and a new variant of conspiracy-ism, including the birther stuff and the idea that Obama is an agent of powerful elites.”

And the worst part is if you listen to the Huckabees, the Rand Pauls, the Ted Cruzes of the GOP, the things they are saying now are the things the militias of 20 years ago said then and still say today: that this government is an enemy of the people, that states are not subject to federal laws they disagree with, and that the tree of liberty requires blood again.

It's a combination of toxic Bircher hatred and white supremacist doctrine that has given birth to a monster.  And most likely one of that monsters many heads will be the Republican nominee for President.

There is a direct line from Tim McVeigh to Cliven Bundy and that line is a bright, bloody red.


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