In their very first month back in power, Paul Ryan, Akin and the gang — 225 Members, in fact — were trying to define rape down — “House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed [it] a top priority in the new Congress.” — and that bill passed the House(!)
Yes, today’s Democrats have their own serious problems — our leaders prostrate themselves before the phantom deficit gods, look the other way on Wall Street malfeasance, and have been actively terrible on the civil liberties front, and our policy playbook (individual mandate, cap-and-trade) has too often been cribbed from the Republicans of the ’90s. But it’s a difference in kind, not in degree. Akin is not an aberration in the GOP — He’s the new normal. Not that anyone who comes around here still does this sort of thing, but if you vote Republican, have no illusions about what you are doing: Ayn Rand and Akinism is basically what you’re voting for. Seriously, these guys are cray-cray.
(By the way, the great facehugger pic above is from From Talking to Doctors — worth checking out.)
As the AJC’s Jay Bookman puts it, “it might almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad.” In Georgia, indulging in xenophobia has backfired mightily for Nathan Deal, the state’s Republican governor, who is now desperately trying to get probationers to fill the agricultural labor gap his draconian anti-immigrant bill has created.
“The pain this is causing is real. People are going to lose their crops, and in some cases their farms. The small-town businesses that supply those farms with goods and services are going to suffer as well. For economically embattled rural Georgia, this could be a major blow.” And sadly, when it comes to deep, self-inflicted, and totally unnecessary economic wounds wrought by Republican idiocy, the Peach State here is just the canary in the coalmine.
“Here was the Delta Republicans’ historic task: negotiating terms of surrender to the Constitution, then reframing that Lost Cause as honorable, the better to preserve their insular plutocracy — perhaps their gravest sin in the first place — in order to integrate themselves more snugly into national and international circuits of corrupt wealth. Haley Barbour, who received his first Republican patronage job in 1970, is a true son of this confederacy.“
In the wake of Haley Barbour’s highly dubious misremembering of civil-rights era Mississippi, historian Rick Perlstein skewers the GOP poobah and presidential hopeful to the wall. “At every important turn in the story, Barbour emphasizes how little he remembers of this most intense period imaginable in his beloved home town — it really was no big deal, he insists…He’s a middle-aged Southern conservative. That is what his job is: to opportunistically ‘forget.‘”
“I can’t think of a surer way to lose both our national soul and the struggle against terrorism. Yes, Mr. Gingrich and Ms. Palin, there’s a cultural-political offensive afoot to undermine our civilization. And you’re leading it.” Slate‘s William Saletan reviews the current GOP jihad against a potential mosque near Ground Zero (not to be confused with the mosque that’s already been there for 40 years.) But, on the bright side, at least now we know not to take the ADL seriously anymore. (See, by way of contrast, J-Street’s statement.)
“Now if I were a gambling woman, I’d wager that most Americans today are not seething with unspoken rage at Thurgood Marshall. And I might wonder at the wisdom of blaming him for what ails this country in the summer of 2010.” Slate‘s Dahlia Lithwick reports in from Day 1 of the Kagan confirmation hearings, where the Senate GOP are now earnestly trying to rewrite the history books on Justice Marshall. (Apparently, Orrin Hatch is even hemming and hawing about whether he’d even confirm Marshall now. You stay classy, GOP.)
“There are a lot of people who have trouble coming to terms with that because they see marriage as traditionally between a man and a woman. But I also know that, you know, when couples are committed to each other and love each other, that they ought to have, I think, the same sort of rights that everyone has.” In the midst of her book tour, former First Lady Laura Bush confesses to being pro-choice and pro-gay-marriage. “Bush [also] said abortion should “remain legal, because I think it’s important for people, for medical reasons and other reasons.’” It would’ve been nice to hear her say as much a decade ago, of course, but I’m still glad that she’s made her feelings known.
In response to a GOP bill prohibiting gay adoption, Ohio State Senator Robert Hagan proposes a bill to ban adoption by Republicans. “To further lampoon Hood’s bill, Hagan wrote in his mock proposal that ‘credible research’ shows that adopted children raised in Republican households are more at risk for developing ‘emotional problems, social stigmas, inflated egos, and alarming lack of tolerance for others they deem different than themselves and an air of overconfidence to mask their insecurities.’” (By way of Do You Feel Loved.)
“At the same time, prosecutions for the kinds of racial and gender discrimination crimes traditionally handled by the division have declined 40 percent over the past five years, according to department statistics. Dozens of lawyers find themselves handling appeals of deportation orders and other immigration matters instead of civil rights cases.” The Post traces the demise and demoralization of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under Attorneys General Ashcroft and Gonzales.
“Grab some black people who look like they might be preachers.” By way of Breaching the Web, this site has gathered all of the staggering quotes on Katrina emanating from the mouths of the GOP. Similarly, Salon has assembled an hour-by-hour recap of the government’s response to the hurricane. Both are well worth a read.
“Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.” (And, now that we’ve got all the racist white freakshows definitively in the bag, we’re coming for you…) RNC Chair Ken Mehlman will apparently apologize for the “Southern Strategy” before the NAACP today. Well, I presume there nobody will fall for this ridiculous ruse…Just ask Katharine Harris.
Republican Rick Santorum — the Senator of the proud state of Pennsylvania — has rooted out the malevolent cause of the Catholic Church’s recent sex abuse scandals. Celibacy? Harry Potter? Guess again. They were due to Boston itself, “a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America,.” Um, ok. Could we expect any less from a guy who publicly compares Democrats to Hitler and consensual gay sex to bestiality and pedophilia? Pennsylvania, get your act together — You’re embarrassing the republic with this joker.
“There’s not much these days that the two parties in Washington can rally around, as evidenced by the increasingly shrill tone here. You might think that one thing on which everyone in both parties could agree would be a resolution apologizing for the Senate’s failure, over many decades, to make it a federal crime for racists to hunt black people like animals and hang them from trees.” Terry Neal wonders why eleven GOP Senators refused to sign the recent anti-lynching resolution. (Cliopatria‘s Robert KC Johnson posted a list of the eleven Senator’s responses from Roll Call a few days ago.)
As I’ve said earlier, I can see how a mea culpa that’s coming anywhere from thirty to 130 years late may not be the most useful legislation ever passed by the Senate. But, when it comes time to mark your name down against an abomination like lynching, why not take the opportunity? To paraphrase Karl Rove, moderation and restraint is not what I feel when I see African-Americans strung up and mutilated by mobs of white folk. But, for one reason or another, a sizable number of the GOP think different. Therapy and understanding for the attackers, perhaps?
Conservative freakshow Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), now head of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the District, threatens Washington DC to back down on its plan to recognize gay marriages (by allowing joint filing for same-sex married tax returns.) Less government? Local control? Surely, it’s obvious by now that today’s GOP is much more interested in policing the bedroom. If you’re still voting Republican these days for any other reason, how much more proof do you need?
Along with Mary Landrieu (D-LA), George Allen (R-VA) introduces a Senate apology for holding up anti-lynching legislation for decades. On hand, given Senator Allen’s role in this and his dodgy taste in “memorabilia”, I can’t help thinking that there’s a whiff of opportunism in the air. But, for the most part, I’d say it seems a valuable exercise for the Senate to acknowledge its prior complicity in racial injustice, as with the move to pardon Jack Johnson and the J.P. Morgan apology noted two days ago.
In other sports news, the Superbowl is set: New England v. Philly. I usually root for the AFC, but I’m over the Pats at this point, and Boston already had the Red Sox win in October…any more sports mojo for New England and Bostonians will become absolutely insufferable. So, with that in mind, I’m pulling for the underdogs, Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. (Take that, Rush.)
Tinky-Winky may keep Jerry Falwell up at night, but apparently it’s Spongebob Squarepants that haunts the dreams of James Dobson, founder and head of right-wing freak show organization Focus on the Family. (Must’ve been that David Hasselhoff cameo.) At a inaugural function this week, Dobson castigated a new tolerance promotion video featuring Spongebob, Barney, Winnie-the-Pooh, and other children’s characters of suspect orientation as “pro-homosexuality.” Said Dobson’s #2, “We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids…It is a classic bait and switch.” Um, yeah, ok…fight the power, y’all.
So, that’s that, then…the Idiot Wind blows anew. The American electorate has spoken and — despite all the shadiness and incompetence of the past four years — has given Dubya and his cronies the imprimatur to go hog-wild. 51-48%…this is pretty much a mandate, folks. (Big of those Red Staters to ensure that we will be woefully unprepared for the next terrorist attack on a Blue State.) Y’know, H.L. Mencken‘s whole Tyranny of the Booboisie schtick has always grated on my lefty sensibilities, but at this point I have to admit he may have been on to something.
Ugh. I’m too young to remember 1984 very well, but I’m curious as to how last night and this morning compared for America’s Left. (I’ve since been reminded by several people I trust that 1968 and 1972 were much more grievous blows.) Thing is, 2004 started out with such promise over here. But, right around the time I ended up on crutches in May, events personal and political took a nasty turn, and the past few months have been some of the most dismal I can remember. Now, it seems, I may just look back on this time as relatively calm and worry-free.
But, ok, enough wallowing…let’s start taking it frame-by-frame. Given the war, the economy, and Dubya’s obvious incompetence, how on Earth did we lose this election? Well, give credit where credit is due…all this exit-talk of “moral values” proves that Karl Rove pulled off his gambit: He got the extra 4 million evangelical votes he was targeting, partly, it seems, by judiciously invoking rampant anti-gay hysteria. Yet, for some reason or another — a lousy ground game, perhaps? — the Dems inexplicably didn’t counter with extra votes of our own.
Where do we go from here? The Dems are facing an ugly Rule of Four…We lost four seats in the Senate, at least four seats in the House, and likely four seats in the Supreme Court. Whatsmore, we now appear officially dead in the water in the South and Midwest. And, with Kerry and Daschle gone, our standard-bearers now appear to be Hillary Clinton (about whom the country has already made up its mind), John Edwards (whom I still admire, but he couldn’t carry his home state), and Barack Obama (who’s probably too inexperienced to make much headway in 2008.)
Obviously, it’s now well past time for the serious party overhaul we should’ve began last cycle, when Al Gore had an election stolen from him that he should have won hands down. Daschle & Gephardt are already in the dustbin of history, and Terry McAuliffe should probably follow them there. I for one don’t think Howard Dean was or is the answer, but he’s one of the only people injecting new blood and enthusiasm into the party right now, so he should have a seat at the table. Right now, I think Edwardsian populism is our strongest ideological card, but as I said, it didn’t seem to make much headway last night.
Silver lining? Yeah, right. Well, as this Washington Monthly forum noted in September, second terms are notoriously scandal-prone (Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica), partly out of press boredom, and Dubya’s ilk seem particularly scandal-worthy…perhaps we’ll finally hear a little more about Halliburton. I’m sure there’ll be no shortage of horrifying policy decisions emanating from this administration that’ll keep lefty blogs like this one in business. And, on a purely selfish note, my likely dissertation topic on the fortunes of progressivism in the twenties is now seeming much more sexy in the wake of last night’s 1928-like cultural divide. Of course, none of these are really any consolation at all.
At any rate, I generally believe that America tends to get the president it deserves. So, God help us, we’ve brought this upon ourselves. And now, for we 48%, the hard work begins…we have to lick our wounds, get our act together, and figure out how we can best combat the rightward drift that’s afflicting our nation. Alas, I fear Dubya will do much of the heavy lifting for us, by running the nation further into the ground over the next four years. Still, we gotta keep on keeping on, y’all. I do not believe this darkness will endure.
“If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government, then you are a Republican.” If you believe that rich people deserve tax breaks while the middle-class struggle harder and the poor send their kids to war, then you are a Republican. If you believe that cutting First Responder, Homeland Security, and Nunn-Lugar funding, lying bald-faced to our allies before the UN, letting Osama Bin Laden disappear into the caverns of Afghanistan, and contriving a casus belli to start a war in Iraq that has further alienated the moderate Muslim world is sound anti-terror strategy, then you are a Republican. If you believe an extramarital blow job is an impeachable offense, but dissembling to the American people about war is hunky-dory, then you are a Republican. If you believe God loves you, but He hates gays, liberals, and foreigners, then you are a Republican. If you’re an immigrant bodybuilder who made it to the top of his field through hard work, discipline, and the judicious application of enough steroids to kill a small horse, then you are a Republican. And if you’re a serial groper who was befuddled enough to think Nixon was a good idea in 1968 and who somehow earnestly believes that the GOP hasn’t moved much further right since the days of Tricky Dick, then you are Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In a surprising (yet very likely vetted and scripted) exchange, Dick Cheney distances himself from Dubya’s hard line against gay marriage. What a compassionately conservative way to make news the week before the convention, no? Sure, Cheney probably does harbor some reservations about the religious right’s goofy stance on gay marriage, given his family relationship to the issue, and I suppose I should give him credit for mentioning them aloud. But, it’s hard to buy his second-thoughts now, when he’s been so silent on the topic these past few months…it’s too convenient by half.
“I don’t know about you, but when I hear a statement meant to inflame gratuitous resentment of white people, I prefer that it come from a black person. A white man who puts on blackface to call John Kerry’s wife a fraudulent African-American is committing so many kinds of bad faith that I scarcely know where to start.” Slate‘s Tim Noah delves into a new anti-Teresa ad running on black radio stations. Between this and Swift Veterans, it’s becoming clear that there’s no level below which the GOP will not sink this time ’round.
As the Senate GOP tries to schedule embarrassing votes for Johns Kerry and Edwards, Richard Rosendall of Salon remembers the last election cycle the GOP invoked the culture wars so heavily: 1992. Thanks again, Pat Buchanan.
So, in an attempt to appease the stark raving Right, Dubya now wants a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Good God, what a colossally stupid idea. Since when did it become “conservative” to encode goofy prejudices into our founding document? And can someone please explain to me what jurisdiction the federal government has over the ecclesiastical institution of marriage anyway? Ridicky-goddamn-diculous. Surely Bush and Rove can find some other way to get out their base besides threatening to tinker with the United States Constitution.
Going over the heads of the Democrats in Congress, President Uniter-not-a-Divider gives segregationist Judge Charles Pickering a recess appointment (which he can hold until January 2005, after the seating of the next Congress.) In case you missed it, Pickering’s segregationist backstory was ably fleshed out by historian Sean Wilentz eight months ago.
“I always knew that I would see the first man on the Moon,” once quipped Jerry Pournelle. “I never dreamed
that I would see the last.” Hopefully, we can now prove him wrong. Dubya officially announced his space plan in front of NASA’s DC headquarters today, and the upshot is this: More scientists, less entertainers, a Research Lab in every city, and he’s going to disband all the Spearmen and Pikemen still lying around so he can build the SS Planetary Party Lounge.
Ok, just joking…some of y’all out there might think that was funny. At any rate, the plan is the ISS by 2007, the CEV by 2014, the moon by 2015, and Mars thereafter. Say what you will about election year boondoggles, but I still think creating and funding long-term goals for NASA is a wise investment. (Besides, if you want to cry election-year boondoogle, you don’t need to go any farther than Dubya’s ridiculous $1.5 billion marriage-promotion plan.) NASA still has serious organizational and cultural flaws, sure, but I think it’ll be better able to address them if there’s at least some semblance of a “vision thing” to build on.
As the Religious Right preps for their coming crusade against sodomites and liberals, the NY Times examines the impact of yesterday’s landmark gay marriage decision in Massachusetts on the 2004 Presidential race. I dunno…I think the potential fallout for the left is being overstated. For one, it’s not as if jackasses like these are going to vote Democratic anyway. For another, if Tom DeLay succeeds in pushing a constitutional amendment on marriage to a vote, it will just redound negatively on Dubya and the GOP (as even the Weekly Standard realizes.) So by all means, let’s see the right-wing crazies get their dander up on this issue…the electorate will know where to stand after seeing ‘em frothing at the mouth and threatening to encode their prejudices into the U.S. Constitution.
See, this is why you don’t hire right-wing throwbacks to cover football games…Rush Limbaugh invokes the “black quarterback” canard during an Eagles game, claiming that Donovan McNabb has been overhyped because “the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.” I presume he also thinks the media was behind the respective successes of Randall Cunningham, Kordell Stewart, Steve McNair, and Michael Vick (currently the most exciting QB in the game.) In keeping with his jackass nature, Rush is naturally standing by his comments. (For their part, Clark, Dean, and Sharpton have also weighed in.) ESPN should do the right thing and let Limbaugh dangle, but I doubt that’s going to happen…even with whatever dirt the Enquirer‘s drudged up on him. After all, as this story notes, “Limbaugh once said he felt guilty about telling an African-American caller to ‘take that bone out of your nose and call me back.’ He still uses the mock dialect ‘ax’ instead of ‘ask’ when discussing black leaders on his syndicated radio show and often plays the theme song ‘Movin’ On Up’ from ‘The Jeffersons’ when referring to Carol Moseley Braun.” Does this racist buffoon have any business covering the world of sports? Update: Well, that’s then…Rush resigned. Smart of him to try to nip this Lott-sized bud now before everyone starts taking a closer look at his long history of questionable racial remarks.
In a tortured press conference in which he also came out firmly against gay marriage, Dubya finally admits he’s to blame for the Iraq-Niger claim in the State of the Union (while letting Condoleeza Rice cry “mea culpa” on Newshour.) Why on Earth did it take him so long to state the obvious? As President, he is in fact responsible for his own utterances.
“‘How am I a closet Democrat? I’m racist, I love guns and I hate welfare.’” Michelle Goldberg of Salon checks out the college Republican convention in DC, and discovers many of the attendees to be exactly the bitter, troubled, pugnacious, and ignorant children you might expect (and as the study suggests.) “I’m a Republican because liberals make me sick,” says one deluded soul, for example, “I don’t like whiny people and tree-huggers.” (He then proceeds to whine incessantly about how affirmative action and taxes screwed him over.) Meanwhile, the “adults” at the convention spend their time fostering this hate in the name of the almighty buck. “Gene McDonald, who sold ‘No Muslims = No Terrorists’ bumper stickers at the Conservative Political Action Conference in January, was doing a brisk trade in ‘Bring Back the Blacklist’ T-shirts, mugs and mouse pads.” Scary stuff.
“Ann Coulter may have committed ‘treason’ against conservative good taste. But she’s done the rest of us a favor. She has exposed the often empty semantic difference between the “responsible” right and its supposed ‘fringe.’” Sam Tanenhaus of Slate examines why conservatives hate Ann Coulter (too).
“We ask for miracles in regard to the Supreme Court…One justice is 83-years-old, another has cancer and another has a heart condition. Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?” Pat Robertson calls on God to put a hit out on three Supreme Court justices following Lawrence v. Texas. Well, while we’re praying for people’s “removal”…
Kowtowing to right-wing unrest following Lawrence v. Texas, Senate Majority Leader Bill “Catkiller” Frist wants to write a gay marriage ban into the Constitution. Where are the true “conservatives” on this question? Surely, most would agree that the doctor and his cronies should not be scribbling their prejudicial rants upon our founding document, no?
This is a week old, but I didn’t see it until Meet the Press yesterday: Conservative columnist George Will tries to account for the missing WMD. “But unless America’s foreign policy is New Age therapy to make the public feel mellow, feeling good about the consequences of an action does not obviate the need to assess the original rationale for the action. Until WMD are found, or their absence accounted for, there is urgent explaining to be done.”
Well, it finally happened – Strom Thurmond died. I’m reminded of Hunter Thompson’s Nixon post-mortem. Never has a man more undeserving held sway over a state so long. Lest anyone forget what Strom stood for in these days of eulogy, the guy was a racist through and through – he still holds the filibuster record for his attempt to prevent civil rights. With his shadow finally gone, South Carolina can name a road or two after him and then embrace the future.
Like a junkie looking for another fix, Ashcroft takes time away from putting down gay pride events to beg Congress for increased powers in fighting terrorism. If the death penalty doesn’t even work as a deterrent in “normal” crime, why would it stop terrorists?
On his way out the door, JC Watts, the last Black Republican in Congress, reflects on race and the GOP (and compares Tom DeLay to Col. Nathan R. Jessup of A Few Good Men.)
Drudge is trying his damnedest today to get a Lott-size stink brewing around Robert Byrd for his Confederate cameo in Gods and Generals. As I mentioned a few months ago, I do think this is a bit strange, but hardly in the league of Lott openly advocating segregation in his capacity as majority leader.
On the other side of the aisle, the GOP starts thinking harder about dumping their own embarrassing baggage, despite Trent Lott’s BET plea. If only Lott had taken a page from his idol and merely pretended to be remorseful from the get-go. Update: With Dubya on the sidelines, pundits are putting it in the fridge: Lott will be removed from the Senate leadership. Who will replace him is still up in the air.