Archive for July, 2011

High powered, obnoxious obfuscation, especially on the part of AZ elected officials?



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I’m writing to tell you how extremely poorly I think you and your fellow Republicans are behaving over raising the debt limit.  You’re treating this as some sort of sports event, putting your desire to win the White House above all else including the wellbeing of people in this country and the viability of the world’s economy.  It’s really astonishing to me that you’re willing to even consider risking what’s at stake.

If politics had a commissioner, the Republicans would have long ago been fined for lousy sportsmanship, lack of fair play, making up the rules as you go, changing them arbitrarily, moving the goalposts – any sports metaphor for lousy behavior you want to use.  But this isn’t a game; this is, at least for a little while yet, the pre-eminent country on the planet you’re toying with, which you have shown all indication of being ready and even eager to harm if you don’t have things 100% your way.  Let’s add ‘childish’ to the phrase ‘lousy behavior’.

Unfortunately we don’t have a commissioner of politics or a dad of Republicans to take you out to the woodshed.  You still have no excuse for behaving as wretchedly as you have over this budget debate as well as in your attempts at every turn over the past 2+ years to wreck the current president’s term, from refusing to approve his judge and ministry appointments to refusing to pass your own legislation should he agree with it.

You can mouth earnest soundbites about free markets and tax burdens bla bla bla until our poor abused ears fall off, but your actions show them to be no more than sloganeering.  The president has offered you huge compromises.  You’ve offered nothing.  He’s negotiated in good faith.  You haven’t. This is what I see from Republicans:  You have no interest in contributing to the governance of this country.  You want to run the whole show, and until then your goal is to be nasty, intransigent and obstructive.

This is what else I see: Whether childish or calculated, if you actually let the country default on its debt, your actions will border on treasonous.  I sincerely request that you raise the debt limit and sincerely negotiate (after having reviewed the meaning of the word in your nearest computer dictionary) on the budget, like grown ups.

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Desert Democrat has put up a great post about right-wing violence (http://desertdemocrat.wordpress.com).   Her big gripe is the rush to judgement that blames any and all political violence on Islamists, as happened here when American right-wingers decided, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, that the bombing and shooting in Norway were the work of Al Queda.  But she also points up the danger of overlooking right-wing Christian ideologues and fanatics, like those who are speaking at Rick Perry’s prayer jamboree down in Texas.

Let’s face it:   reactionary right-wingers pose a serious danger to Western democracies.   We saw only too clearly what reactionary politics were capable of during the twentieth century, even when that violence was not overtly motivated by religion.  Add religion into the mix, whether Christianity or Islam, and you have  a volatile brew.

The devotees of Al Queda, like Christian fundies in Europe and America, are outnumbered in their home countries by more conventional believers, and the numbers of unbelievers are growing almost everywhere.   So the fundies and jihadists resort to violence to get attention and perhaps to make their point, whatever that may be.  I wonder, though, whether the political point is beside the point.  Members of most of these groups are so authoritarian, and their hate for unbelievers so highly stoked, that they may commit violence simply to enact their desire to show the world what the wrath of God is all about–God being, apparently, occupied elsewhere at the moment.

A reactionary is someone who cannot get with the program, whether that program be political, social, or religious.  Reactionaries cannot abide change.  Change in mores they assume to be universal and unchanging (all sex is heterosexual, men rule over women and children, etc) is especially galling to them.   Because reactionaries tend to be authoritarian, they distrust democracy;   because their religious beliefs tell them them are special (ie “elect” or “chosen” or “saved”), they do not accept that unbelievers are worthy of respect or even of life.   They dislike messiness and chaos, and thus it is highly ironic that their preferred means of retribution–bombing–creates both.

Reactionism is not a new thing:   reactionaries in ancient Athens overthrew Pericles’ great experiment in democracy because they wanted to run things the old way.  You know, universal enslavement of foreign captives and debtors,  that sort of thing.  They are known to history as “the Thirty Tyrants.”

Reactionaries don’t think;   they feel.  And what they feel most is desire.  Reactionaries who achieve power (economic and/or political) want more of both so they can order the world to their liking and their benefit;   reactionaries who have no power seem to feel such a burning need to have it that they will commit mass murder just to experience what power feels like, just for a moment.   I have often wondered if Timothy McVeigh ever understood or even realized the pain he caused–physical pain to actual victims and the pain of grief and sorrow to survivors and their families.  Could a man capable of considering such an act, let alone carrying it out, also be capable of empathy?  Not saying McVeigh was a sociopath.  But he was a reactionary who wanted the world to be a different place than it is.  So much so that he cared far more about making that statement (whatever it was–anti-federalism?) than he did about the babies he killed.

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Pat Bagley’s cartoon nicely captures a point that Amanda Marcotte has been making for awhile now:    Republican ignorance and intransigence owes a great deal to their subscription to Southern fundamentalist Christianity.  In a recent post, for example, Marcotte noted Louie Gohmert’s claim that Obama picked the August 2 deadline for US default because the next day is his (Obama’s) birthday, and he wants to have a big party.   Here is Marcotte:   “But most of all, Gohmert is portraying the President as an irresponsible, self-indulgent layabout who tricked the public into electing him so he could have big parties on the government dime.  That move right there is out of the ex-Confederate-responding-to-the-Reconstruction playbook.  Remember, Republican expressions of blatant idiocy, misogyny, and racism are like cockroaches:  for every one you see out in public, there are hundreds, even thousands behind closed doors.”

Gohmert is so stupid, and so intellectually lazy, that he can’t get past wellworn commonplaces about black people–even a black person who was overwhelmingly elected to the Presidency.  (Makes me wonder anew what the Go(h)mer(t)s of the world made of the happy celebrations that took place all over the country on election night).   So that’s the Southern part.  The Christian part is established by their willingness to bring the country down around our ears.    Marcotte again:  “I noted before, the belief appears to be that if they—they being white Christian conservatives—can’t have complete control of the U.S., then the U.S. as we know it doesn’t deserve to exist.”

I don’t know if Marcotte knows about Reconstructionism, but she has put her finger exactly on the point of that extreme version of fundyism.  According to its prophet, J. R. Rushdoony,  America is a Christian nation, and it ought to be governed according to rules laid down in Old Testament.  (The New Testament is a little too new-agey for Rushdoony, with all that “love your neighbor” stuff, which might generate–the horror!–programs like social security or something).   Here is Frederick Clarkson on Reconstructionist beliefs:   the death penalty would be exacted as punishment for “apostasy (abandonment of the faith), heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, ‘sodomy or homosexuality,’ incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and in the case of women, ‘unchastity before marriage’” (Eternal Hostility 1997, p 81).   This strikes me as a pretty good description of the laws of Puritan New England, and as we all know (at least those of us who went to school somewhere other than Texas) the American Constitution was written long after the demise of Puritan communities, and hence its authors had not experienced the beauties and wonders of life in a religious penal colony.

You might want to note, by the by, how many of these punitive sanctions are aimed at women and children or women’s traditional practices/lore.

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Jeff Saturday, who plays center for the Indianapolis Colts, enters the building where the players meet to decide whether they will affirm the deal offered them by management.    I note from other photos that the building is named “Upshaw” for the late, great Gene Upshaw, who represented the players through the last set of tense negotiations.

Don’tcha just love how if you’re a big ol’ offensive lineman you don’t have to bother wearing a suit when you go downtown?  ‘Cause you know you look great in your grubbies anyway?

Okay.  So 32 very rich men and their lawyers sat down together and negotiated their way toward a deal.  And now 32 more semi-rich guys, former players, and their lawyers will sit down and decide if the 1900 guys who currently play in the NFL should accept the terms given them by the owners.

All this just in the nick of time, too . . . they had to cancel one game but if the players re-certify their union and vote to accept the deal that is on the table, then rest of the season is on.

When I heard this, I felt more relief that was appropriate to the circumstances.  Oh yeah, I’m a football fan, but I could live without a few NFL games.  It was more important to me that the players get a fair shake, especially for retired players, who need lots of expensive medical help when they get older.

My first thought, though, was this:   maybe this is a harbinger!   Maybe it means the Republicans will see the wisdom of negotiating as well!   After all, the NFL owners knew that if the season caved they would not only lose money from unplayed games, but they’d take big losses on team t-shirts and other paraphernalia.  Plus, they would piss off their fans, some of them terminally, as happened during the strike several years ago.   The loss of revenue, in addition to the loss of fan support, was not worth it to them, finally.

The analogy should be clear by now.   The big difference is that if the Republicans force a default, it won’t matter that their party has no more support, because America won’t be much of a democracy anymore.   Sometimes I think conservatives are not just reactionary:   they are revolutionary.  That is, they want to break the constitution, install martial law, maybe even select a king.  Then we can do away with all that social security crap.    What they don’t realize, though, is that in a monarchy everybody except the King  is a peasant.

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Someone made a mash-up of Sean Bean’s many many death scenes and posted it to YouTube.  You can access it here:   http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=http%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DzEhtsgu6bJg%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded.

In the video Bean even suffers the insult of being shot by Christian Bale, than whom he is a far better actor.

The video has a Trepmeter rating of 10, so I don’t recommend you watch it, Trep.  (The Trepmeter scale runs from 1 OKAY TO WATCH to 10 NO WAY).  But it does point out that Bean has died an awful lot on screen and stage, and he has done so in some truly awful ways.   Dunno what that sez–whether he is generally cast as second lead (if a good guy like Odysseus in Troy, where he doesn’t die but is scheduled to suffer for 20 years while trying to get home to his wife) or a good/bad guy like Boromir–or if he is more often cast as a villain, as he is against Harrison Ford in Patriot Games or Pearce Brosnan’s anemic James Bond in Goldeneye).  Or maybe he just dies well, as he did in LOTR.  Or maybe he is just so good-looking that directors want to off him just for kicks.   Viggo seldom gets offed, though, even where his character is a real rat, like in Eastern Promises or A History of Violence.   Must be something else.

In any case, I wish Bean would get a role where he is still alive when the credits roll.   I don’t think this has happened since the Sharpe series (LURVE Bean in uniform) or  Stormy Monday, where he gets the girl, too.  But then the girl is Melanie Griffith, so maybe death would have been the preferable outcome there.


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Does this ideolobotomized person (the one in congress) have any idea what trouble he and his fellow gang members will unleash if they shut down the government by stonewalling on the debt ceiling?  Is he really clueless enough not to know the harm they’ll do?  Or does he really think that flatlining the world economy and ruining the creditworthiness of the United States is a worthy trade for gaining a balanced budget which his party couldn’t have cared less about for the last 20 years?  Or does he in fact think that the turmoil he risks loosing is a fair and reasonable way to promote a republican presidency in the next election?   As I recall, the repugs were fond of bandying the ‘T’ word about when people disagreed with their actions under George Bush.  To my mind, what Cantor is proposing is treasonous.   If he does instigate a shutdown when the repugs don’t get their way, they d*** well better not take any salaries.

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