January 8, 2011

Sarah “Don’t Retreat, Reload!” Palin, proud owner of a map using rifle-scope crosshairs to mark states with Democrats who displeased Mama Grizzly, now wants to offer her “sincere condolences” to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (one of the Dems Palin marked with the crosshairs) and the other victims of the Arizona shootings.  Michele Bachman, friend of anti-government extremist cults, says her “tears are flowing” over the incident.  John “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” McCain wants everyone to know the shooter is a disgrace to Arizona.

There’s going to be a great rush to quarantine the alleged shooter as a loner, a weirdo whose Internet rambling in no way link him to the little tinpot warriors of wingerdom. It’s going on right now, in fact. And it’s garbage. There have been other gun-crazed wackos who get their news and opinion from Glenn Beck and all the other bottom-feeders. This Arizona shooting is just the latest example of what happens when a political party and its attendant propaganda channels make crazy into their lingua franca.

I don’t care how many crocodile tears Bachmann, Palin, and all the other career sleazes shed. They own this. They’ve lying to loons and poisoning our politics to make money and keep power, and when one of their deluded followers decides to take them at their word and act on his convictions, they can’t pretend it has nothing to do with them. It has everything to do with them.

They have spent years demonizing Democrats and liberals, imagining a sinister alternate universe where liberals are in control of everything, and the President is actually a Kenyan-born dictator who wants to establish death panels for the elderly. They smirk about “second-amendment solutions” to politicians they don’t like, and talk about watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants when Obama talks about reining in the ability of health insurers to screw their customers. And this is where that crazy talk leads us.

So, I guess we can’t use the term “teabaggers” anymore. It’s no longer appropriate. They’re bodybaggers.

I was listening to Patton Oswalt’s My Weakness Is Strong on the train home last night. Hilarious guy, but this routine has gotten a little sad in retrospect. Actually, a lot sad.

Wonder what he would have to say now about the Folder in Chief?

Yeah, I know we dodged a bullet when Obama kept Cranky McCain and Caribou Barbie out of the White House. All props for that. Trouble is, there’ve been a few bullets since then, and instead of helping us dodge them, Obama has been letting the country take the hits in the name of — what do they call it? — bipartisanship. “Just stand still and let the Republicans shoot you in the leg,” Obama says. “They’ve promised not to shoot you in the head.” And the Republicans say: “Not today, that is.”

My Weakness Is Strong. Sounds like a swell all-purpose campaign slogan for the Democrats. Thanks a lot, guys.

Dear President Obama

September 29, 2010

Yes, Mr. President, I know what’s at stake in the midterm elections. It would be nice if some more Democrats in positions of power and influence acted as though they understood as well.


Opinion Mill Proprietor

P.S. Could you please stop pissing on liberals and progressives, and tell Joe Biden to knock it off as well? I know the Beltway pundits love to see hippies get bashed, but it’s really not a smart way to mobilize your base. Unless your internal polling shows the cause is already lost and you’re laying the groundwork for blaming it all on those unrealistic lefties who are never satisfied with anything. I surely would hate to think that’s what’s going on here.

More Bags Than Tea

September 29, 2010

Matt Taibbi travels to the heart of teabagger territory:

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.

Watching them tootle around, he has an epiphany. David Broder would not approve of it. If there’s any higher praise than that, I’d like to hear it:

Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it’s going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I’ve concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They’re full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry’s medals and Barack Obama’s Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about — and nowhere do we see that dynamic as clearly as here in Kentucky, where Rand Paul is barreling toward the Senate with the aid of conservative icons like Palin.

Read the whole thing here.

Money changed everything

September 24, 2010

Gosh, isn’t that wonderful? A billionaire geek whose Facebook empire is about to be the subject of an unflattering movie is giving a $100 million check to the Newark school system, with a governor who made four times that amount disappear through his own ineptitude (and a mayor who stands to gain added political power from the situation) sharing the spotlight while Oprah sprinkles fairy dust on the stage. Like the song says, money changes everything.

But while I agree with everything Bob Braun has to say about this ridiculous situation, I think he’s mistaken in treating this as some new development. The rich guy from California who wants to dictate terms to the Newark school district is following a well-worn American tradition. After all, a rich guy from Australia and a couple of rich guys from Kansas are using their dough to deform America’s political system, while  a rich guy in Orange County gets to use his hard-inherited bucks to undermine science education. A rich guy from Pittsburgh used his money to hobble the Clinton administration.  So why shouldn’t the co-founder of Facebook use Newark’s schools as his hobby horse? He’s rich! It’s not like there’s any other standard at work here.

In better times, it would have been considered seemly for the governor and the mayor to tell the rich guy, “Thanks but no thanks.” But these are pretty lousy times, thanks in no small part to economic notions promoted by think tanks and media outlets funded by rich guys who get even richer when these economic notions hold sway. So now people don’t tell the rich guy to find himself another hobby. They tug their forelocks and thank their lucky stars the rich guy came along and threw them a bone.

I guess that’s what “trickle-down economics” meant all along. The ones with the money get more money shoveled their way, and the rest of us get to huddle under the table and hope some big crumbs fall to the carpet. The argument for countenancing this Brechtian arrangement used to be that we would all benefit from the care and feeding of millionaires. A rising tide lifts all boats, right?

Well, not exactly. Not when money changes the laws of physics, and the reconfiguring of the tax system shifts benefits upward and risks downward. The rising tide now lifts the yachts and swamps the smaller craft. And if you’re one of the many who end up treading water, don’t bother calling for help. You should have learned how to swim, loser.

One of the cornerstone texts of the conservative movement is F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, which argues that centralized economic control inevitably erodes freedom.

And here we are, waiting for the lords and ladies of the upper class to toss a wad of money our way, every once in a while, when things get really bad. What I want to know is, how does the condition developing in this country differ from serfdom?

Character II

September 21, 2010

Crisis reveals character. Get a load of this character as he muses on 9/11.

“Why are we listening to this fruitcake Newt Gingrich? All he ever does is blow smoke.”