Perhaps it’s an entirely futile endeavor teaching self-defense to liberals and Democrats. And yes, my pacifism probably needs work.
And speaking of futile endeavors, God knows the American media hold the conviction their careers would remain intact even under the governance of The Ebola For Everybody Party (just slightly more onerous than the Republican Party).
I can hear them on Meet The…
In the imagination of the Republican caliphate, from elected officials to the glorious low-information base that drives it, President Barack Obama exists somewhere between, and indeed everywherebetween a feckless, emasculated, simpering, cowardly example of utter abasement, and an omnipotent figure capable of changing the course of mighty rivers, besieging the land with plague and tyranny,…
I am less puzzled perhaps that many Americans search for their motivation to vote, than that so few become disabused of the propaganda they ingest on a continuous basis advocating policies that at best degrade their existence or at worst imperil it, to the point of revulsion or revolt.
In fairness to today’s Republican elected officials, they are surprisingly flexible, and utterly accommodating…
The Republican Negativity-Industrial Complex: Americans Ask, “Why Does The Republican Party Exist”?
Perhaps the problem isn’t that the Republican Party is out of sync with the vast majority of…
People Who Expected A Romney Landslide Govern The Way You’d Expect People Who Expected A Romney Landslide To Govern
Has it ever crossed your mind that perhaps the Republican majority in the House of Representatives…
Halcyon Days of The Pro-Murder Club
Comforting, was it not, to have Paul Ciancia reaffirm for us all with his assault rifle at LAX,…
There’s no crying in baseball and there’s no crying in ideological struggles for the soul of the nation either. Whether the rest of us like it or not, several strands of largely fringe radicalism have merged, and now emerged as the dominant ideology, nee fanaticism of one of our major parties. And hulking bummer though it is, inconvenient and unavoidable hard fact, this now prominent absolutism doesn’t compromise, doesn’t moderate, doesn’t give a whit about two-parties, nor will it accept anything short of full ideological purification, not to mention full domination of the country. It sucks mightily, and get used to it.
Indeed, the ferocity of this new right-wing and Republican determination to assert the preeminence of ideological reality over material and scientific truth, to unashamedly impose a brutal social order (with the same attendant doublespeak about liberty and will of the people and freedom, along with many of the same scapegoats) skirts uncomfortably close to the absolutist extremism of the grotesque European isms of the last century.
But the time for merely remarking upon its odiousness, bemoaning the depravity of its methods and the vastness of its blithe deceit, or for exposition of the boundlessness of its freakishness has passed. It is time to match it in the only area that really matters at this stage: raw power. Which brings me to the news today that a Texas bank, and a couple of right-wing think tanks have embarked on the new go-to play for the Republican right seeking the overturn of democratically achieved laws, which is resort to litigation in largely friendly federal courts, including the highest court in the land. This time it isn’t health care it’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau established under Dodd-Frank. Essentially, the poor, poor banks and the woefully put upon financial institutions believe essentially that nobody is the boss of them, and at bottom any restriction or oversight that prevent them from doing whatever they damn please to consumers is, oh my, unconstitutional. We’ll see. But the point is that friendly courts, including the big one is what you get with raw power… and elections are how you get that power.
There is no better example of course of the triumph of raw power than the 2000 presidential election in Florida. All but a coup, it was a legal coup, legal because all of the power was stacked in such a way every democratic mechanism was subservient to one political party and its own interest. Own the governorship, the top state election official, the state legislature and ultimately the highest court in the land and the actual vote count, or even counting of the votes or the expressed will and intent of the people themselves are beside the point. There’s democracy and then there’s democracy.
The point of this really is that liberals and Democrats must at last fully comprehend the stakes and behave accordingly, no matter how often and insipidly CNN insists it’s all just two perpetually equivalent polarities or sides of the same coin. They must embrace the stale and unoriginal reduction of it all to the political process and leave behind their distaste for the laborious and grimy work of aggressive advocacy and electing people. They must, where lacking, develop an appetite for political blood, hand-to-hand combat and trench war… for the thrill of a political kill. Anything short of angry defiance at attempts at punking you, gutting you or sliming you by this borderline personality disorder masking itself as philosophy is unacceptable. Ownership by venal doughboys like the Koch Brothers or fey authoritarians like Scott Walker, or rule by amoral tinker toys like Mitt Romney should be repudiated with extreme prejudice.
Take power and keep taking it.
Impressing voters with their capacity to incessantly embark upon partisan larks extraneous to voters’ lives and concerns, to fly ideological kamikaze missions such as causing debt default or passing legislation with zero ability to survive in the Earth’s soil beyond the House chamber, the Republican majority in the House has been nothing if not consistent. This week the Republican majority of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sought to reinforce that impression by giving the world another memorable straitjacket moment: voting Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
There was never any expectation the next Three Stooges movie would diverge from buffoonish slapstick and there is no expectation the Republican House will suddenly do something sensible or barely sane. If you want representatives whose actions mirror the obsessions of pale folks dressed in tri-cornered hats holding badly-spelled signs and poorly reasoned, ill-informed opinions, Republican members of the House are your cup of kooky tea.
Politically speaking, this latest uncontrollable House Republican urge to advertise its own estrangement from the mainstream concerns of American citizens is highly beneficial to Democrats and to the re-election of President Obama, and I thank them for their lack of self-control. Reminding voters once again that the Republican Party in power invariably becomes preoccupied with ideologically self-indulgent theater, unrelentingly partisan obstructionism and sabotage of good faith efforts to address the challenges facing United States citizens is doing God’s work for Democrats.
The Fast and Furious program was an effort begun by the ATF during the Bush administration intended to track illegal gun sales in the United States to drug cartels in Mexico. Though Attorney General Holder terminated the program and though reasonable people might conclude that determining the lethal consequences of these sales (Remember that Arizona has justified all manner of barbaric immigration policy with the specter of border violence) was a worthy project, the far right construed this as an affront to the sanctity of the National Rifle Association and an act of blasphemy toward the role of firearms as holy icons in the Republican spiritual system, faulty American history and fetishism playing their part.
Demanding documents from Holder it was understood by Republicans he was obligated to keep secret in order to protect the lives of agents and the viability of operations ongoing was the basis of the Republican con that Holder was failing to cooperate, all in the service to a phantasmagorical gun control plot by the Great Black Socialist. Still, the only thing really important here is that Americans are offered yet another example that Republicans should not retain their House majority, nor for that matter be allowed to handle sharp objects, have unsupervised time with small children or keep the laces in their shoes.
At the very least, the reality-based community owes House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Republicans a debt of gratitude for their unintentional, yet luridly vivid warning of the perils, frivolities and disorders of elected Republicans, and their distant remove from ordinary Americans’ priorities and basic mental health.
Republicans typically dwell in some combination of antiquity and mythological Candy Land, their long, loving gaze often coming to rest on the pre-Enlightenment era and the pre-capitalist days of feudal economic structures and aristocratic hegemony. Ayn Rand tried to gussy them up for a newer time with her Objectivist philosophy, but only adolescents and screwballs really buy it (including numerous Republican members of congress).
So when Senate Minority Leader and oratorical lightning bolt Mitch McConnell attempts to lay it on President Obama by charging that the Affordable Care Act is the first step toward “Europeanizing America” one wonders whether the last he heard about Europe was the big war that reduced the place to rubble, or perhaps given the degree to which Republicans inhabit the olden days of the earlier war of the 14th Century when the French subsisted on an exclusive diet of turnips. One of Republicans’ most desperate requirements continues to be that those low information voters upon whom they depend never figure out what modern Europe is like.
Of course when the epidemic of malpractice and criminality on the part of America’s real estate and financial sectors spread throughout the world it crippled Europe the same as it crippled us. Unfortunately, most European countries responded by adopting Republican economics, Europe Americanizing itself in the worst way. The Bizarro World economic response to recession of obsessing about debt and cutting spending rather than stimulating first and cutting later has made austerity about as popular among citizens of Europe as Eva Braun. Republican economics have Europe stuck in a muck of stagnation, recession and joblessness that make America’s current economic conditions look scintillating by comparison.
But McConnell lapsed into a perhaps medically dangerous seizure of irony when he attempted to condemn Obamacare through association with the mythically dystopian Europe Republican brains have been trapped in for several decades now. This would be in contrast to the actual Europe, where quality of life in innumerable key areas has become superior to ours, due in large part to a pragmatic, realistic addressing of contemporary problems across the ideological spectrum, absent any equivalent of our uniquely influential, zany dogmatic weirdos on the Luddite right.
Please, Mr. McConnell, don’t throw me into that Europeanized Briar Patch of gleaming new infrastructure, revitalized transportation systems, blazing fast internet, bullet trains, long vacations, economic mobility, lower infant mortality rates, longer life spans and affordable health care for every citizen. Please.
Americans understand that during Republicans’ joint control of congress and the executive branch no health reform was put forward, no proposals to end the moral abomination and economically crippling persistence of millions uninsured, of skyrocketing medical costs and exorbitant premiums, of a national epidemic of bankruptcies due to medical bills were proffered. Republicans’ irresponsibility and immoral indifference to Americans’ health are now so far beyond the pale and past the point of moral defensibility, so defiant to common sense and societal efficiency for a modern nation Republicans should refrain from comment on the subject out of simple common decency. Sadly, the Teabagger Republican Party and common decency went their separate ways years ago.
For the record though, if Obama is Europeanizing America I’d prefer he did it a little faster.
Only persons afflicted with an optimism of the clinical variety found in DSM-IV would expect modifications of any kind in the thinking of America’s Republican right, any response to reason, facts or an occurrence in material reality out of the question, in the latter case, up to and even beyond a hunk of plywood against the side of the head one imagines. Economists, scientists, theologians or mere election results are no match for this implacability.
The first sobering lesson to be taken from this realization is that the behavior of one segment of the American polity is set in concrete for the foreseeable future (in other words, some period between the end of the Mayan calendar and the death of the sun). This leads to the second sobering lesson, which is that successful appeals to a tiny, still malleable segment of voters will be critical to empowering Democrats, Democrats’ political muscle all that stands between a modern, ideologically eclectic welfare state and altogether housebroken American society, and the full calamity of a right-wing cultural revolution.
The ‘revolutionary vanguard’ already is present in the House of Representatives, to a lesser extent in the United States Senate, as well as in governors’ mansions and state legislatures across the nation. With its harsh ideological strictures, rigid conservative political correctness, economic feudalism and banana republic economic structures, and not least, regime of oppressively draconian social policies enunciated with arrogant pseudo-pieties, this radicalism should strike even the semi-conscious as a clear and present danger. To be benevolent, some of our fellow voting citizens may not always be, let’s say, fully conscious. This remains the Mother of All Built-in Political Advantages to the right wing.
I retain affection for my fellow Democrats; and while there are many capable and battle-ready Democratic politicians and operatives, I would be frankly negligent if I failed to disclose that I am not entirely confident of the combat-readiness of the party in general, tendencies toward defensiveness, crippling cautiousness and a lack of philosophical and ideological sure-footedness a real concern. In some cases this is simply a lack of aggressiveness, and in others it is the absence of an instinctive feel for the urgency of the requirement to take the political and philosophical offensive.
In some cases, as pointed out by cognitive linguist George Lakoff who tirelessly reminds progressives of the necessity for and instructs them in the how-to of effective framing in political communication (and I somewhat tirelessly or tiresomely recommend Lakoff on this blog) the fault lies in an inability to penetrate the miasma of falsehood, distortion, misinformation and screaming inanity spewed into the political atmosphere by the right’s vast and efficient and ungodly-funded propaganda arsenal in a compelling and impactful way. What Democrats can’t do instinctively in this regard they had better learn. Even with its undeniable and abundantly remarked flaws, for all its amorphousness, quirkiness and oddities Occupy Wall Street drove income inequality, financialization and the bamboozling and maceration of the middle class to a salient place in the American consciousness, and with a very Lakoff-like adeptness and effectiveness at moral framing.
The public at large (in other words voters) is hardly oblivious, nor are they resigned when the right brusquely transforms their states into laboratories of anti-democracy in places like Wisconsin, Ohio or Florida for instance, turning them into something reminiscent of Khmer Rouge reeducation camps, as the uprisings by citizens in those states have demonstrated with various levels of success at polls. Citizens, when they actually find out, whether by a now nearly miraculous transmission of bare truth through the mainstream media, or via organs of progressive activism, that radical Republicans intend to subject them to something akin to prison sex they are neither receptive nor are they resigned.
When it comes to informing the electorate, if the quaint connotation of inform is to communicate credible, truthful and factual information and distinguish it from that which is none of those, then in large part the mainstream press does a great deal more harm than good. With Big Media’s two sides to everything model strongly in force, the public is left with a muddle, more confused than enlightened by what they get. Given the massiveness of the right’s alternate reality apparatus and the timorous waywardness of our current media, disabusing facts and truthful correctives must be all but forced into the media’s narratives, which naturally means Democrats and liberals must be resourceful, ingenious, indefatigable and aggressive…did I mention aggressive?…in forcing them in.
At this point anything less is a concession to Republicans’ remarkable marriage of dogmatism and cynicism, their renunciation of modern realities and their malevolently dishonest propaganda. In other words all but appeasement of an intractableness and vehemence that is a declaration of civil war in all but its public designation.