Skip to main content


I took that picture of the wedding party and their families.  Then your brother George told me that the tall, skinny guy on the right is your husband's gay cousin.  So I photoshopped him out, since graven images of homosexuals violate my religious beliefs.

___________

I want a partial refund of my Netflix subscription, because it offers Orange Is the New Black.

___________

I think you're wearing that earring on the lobe that means you're gay.  No, I won't process your checking account withdrawal.

___________

I backed into your car because you had a rainbow flag bumper sticker.  Now you can't tell what it was.

___________

I saw you two ladies hold hands under the table.  Give me back that pizza, pay up and get out.  The tip will be added to your bill.

___________

You like Ellen?  That's it. I'm unfriending you.

___________

No, I don't want the Harvey Milk stamp.  Charlton Heston or a flag, or the Purple Heart one; anything but that San Francisco guy.

___________

Yes, I burned all the Allen Ginsberg books I took out of the library; I'm exercising my religious freedom.

___________

I don't care how cheap the potato chips are.  We're not shopping at Wal-Mart anymore.

Discuss

That quote is from a column in my local paper, the Valley News, written by Steve Nelson.  Nelson is head of the Calhoun School in Manhattan.  Steve writes most Sundays on progressive issues, and has regularly cited his atheistic beliefs.  Here, though, he reconciles Christmas with atheism in a very thought-provoking piece, the essence of which is captured in these lines:

I don’t know the truth about Jesus. I don’t believe in the immaculate conception or the story of resurrection, but I’m all in for Christ. Whether historical or metaphorical, the idea of Christ is profoundly important and one cannot embrace the joy, good will and deep meaning of the season without acknowledging its source.
There's a bit more below the fold.
Continue Reading

http://www.reuters.com/...

I'll allow the article to speak for itself.  Jeffords was a class act, as even a resident of New Hampshire (me) can attest; but his choice to become an Independent was among the classiest of political acts, as it kept a President of his own party from acting on his most egregious impulses -- at least for a couple of years.  Jeffords was a Vermonter first, a Senator second, and a (moderate) Republican third.  I thanked you then, Jim, and I thank you again now.

Here's is Jeffords' Wikipedia page:  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

And an article from the Vermont Burlington Free press about his decision to turn Independent in 2001:  http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/... .  Here's how it begins:

After struggling with his conscience for six weeks, an emotional Sen. James Jeffords on Thursday left the Republican Party and became an independent, saying he no longer felt at home in the party he has loved all his life.

Jeffords' centrist Republicanism -- the party of "moderation, tolerance and fiscal responsibility" -- is gone, the anguished 67-year-old senator lamented.

Saying that "independence is the Vermont way," he returned to the Green Mountain State seeking understanding and support while acknowledging his decision would infuriate President Bush and some GOP colleagues in Washington.

Discuss

At the end of this post, Erick Erickson of Redstate makes an interesting comment:

Ultimately though, and this is the key everybody is missing, we have arrived at this point because the leadership of the party has fundraised off its opposition to Obamacare in two campaign cycles, but has never aggressively sought to oppose it legislatively.

It's interesting because it reflects a thirty-five year reality that Republican voters never seem to grasp: The Republican Party may tell you they support a position, but that doesn't mean they intend to do anything about it -- except collect your money for the promise.

Social conservatives have waited thirty years for serious anti-abortion legislation.  The only President who signed anti-same sex marriage legislation (now to his regret) was Bill Clinton.  The Republicans held all of the levers of power for several years under GWB, and their version of tax reform never got a serious discussion.  Neither Reagan nor Georgie had a lick of fiscal discipline. The GOP may be derided at the moment as the party of NO! -- but the only thing that's new is that the Marshall stacks are cranked to eleven.  They fund raise off the prospect that they'll do things they've never done, and that it increasingly looks like they'll never do.  What makes the Tea Party so scary to the Establishment GOP is the sudden realization that THOSE FOLKS ACTUALLY MEAN IT.

Erick, of course, is a Tea Party supporter, though he says,

“Tea party”, like “conservative” and “Republican”, has less meaning these days and I increasingly dislike using the word. Admittedly though, everyone would consider me one based on the general parameters of what the tea party is.
As such, give him credit: He actually means it.  And he's correct -- the GOP Establishment doesn't mean it.  Here's a tip, Erick: They never did.  They like the money and/or energy you can supply them; but they never intended to fight the ACA, or abortion, or their idea of budget discipline, to their dying days.  No, to their dying days, they've intended just one thing:  To live well off fundraising from people who thought they meant what they said.
Discuss

Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 07:41 AM PDT

Conservatives are full-on baroque.

by mspicata

Way back in 2007, I suggested using Henri Focillon's formulation to understand political movements.  Here's my original explanation of Focillon:

In his seminal book The Life of Forms in Art, Focillon argued that all art movements move through [four phases: Experimental; Classic; Refined, and Baroque.]  In the first, the artists only know that they are trying something different, perhaps in reaction to the prevailing taste, perhaps because they have a different vision.  By the second phase, these artists have coalesced around some basic precepts that define their movement.  Although experimentation has not ended, it now revolves around fixed points that put artists either in or out of the movement.  By the refinement stage, those precepts have become accepted benchmarks for the movement, which is now only accepting tinkering with its ideas.  Finally, in the baroque stage, the movement has ceased moving, with its art practically caricaturing itself.  Finally, the movement collapses, and a new movement leaves its experimental phase and becomes classic.
At the time, I argued that the Progressive movement was entering its Classic phase, and that conservatism, as practiced post-Goldwater, was entering its baroque phase.  I'm here to report that recent events, if we follow Focillon, indicate that the conservatives are at or close to the apex of their baroque stage.  

Look at the evidence.  Up to the 2008 election, the GOP could assume that they were in their period of refinement: a place where the precepts of social and fiscal conservatism were widely understood and practiced, and all that was left was to tinker with the formula.  They were wrong -- the signs of disaster were there prior to the elections -- but unless progressives entered their classic period, the GOP model might have been safe for another couple of electoral cycles.

Then the financial collapse of September 2008 occurred.  Swiftly, the tide turned, and the GOP fell out of power.  Per Focillon, that upset to an established order brings on the baroque period, where believers in the formerly entrenched ideas use the power accumulated in their heyday to knock off the upstarts and retain their primacy.  It rarely works, but it's always tried.  

For conservatives, the baroque period began in earnest with the rise of Freedom Works and its Frankenstein, the Tea Party.  Once you're baroque, you don't fix it; you use a stylized representation of your ideals as the ne plus ultra of your movement.  In short, you slowly but surely become a caricature of yourself.  You may stall or even temporarily reverse your decline; but if the competing ideas are strong -- if they're heading into their classic phase -- you will inevitably lose.  Once you've resigned yourself to the loss, then and only then can you regroup, inject new ideas into your now-discredited precepts, and build a new movement.

What we are witnessing this month is the last gasp of the Reagan conservative; the twin emphasis on dubious fiscal parsimony and social policy pandering.  No movement is indefinitely sustainable, but this one, which never seriously tried to solve the issues it purported to address, was particularly susceptible to a major flameout.  Now that the day of reckoning is upon them, it's expected of them to rail against the forces on the other side, and to become increasingly irrational in their actions.  Only when they lose -- and lose big -- will they be forced to address their shortcomings.  In my view, this means a reduced emphasis on social issues.  I can think of no examples of a democracy permanently reversing social progress, despite many, many attempts and even some temporary victories by reactionaries.  On the fiscal side, where we're currently embroiled in a crude caricature of Armageddon, conservatives have not yet lost, though their current flailing indicates the defeat is coming soon.  There will always be room in our system for a party professing belief in a limited, fiscally prudent government.  Perhaps out of the ashes of the defeat that is coming their way (and I acknowledge you may have trouble believing in it), the conservatives can find their way to a responsible fiscal prudence.  Time will tell how long they're stuck in their baroqueness.

Discuss

The last two weeks have gone a long way to separating the true putzes from the poseurs.  As each day passes, the level of competition rises.  The winners in these contests, however, always bring a certain level of disdain and faux patriotism to their game. Tim Huelskamp has been a perennial winner, and today he throws one of his patented li'l hissy fits.This looks like a winner:

At a House hearing on death benefits, Representative Tim Huelskamp, Republican of Kansas, asked Eric K. Shinseki, the secretary of veterans affairs, “Do you think Harry Reid doesn’t like the V.A. or our veterans?”

Seriously?  Question for the dishonorable member:  "Do you think the Republican Party hates the American people?"  

Shinseki must have thought he stepped through the looking glass.  He did manage to regain composure in time, though:

Mr. Shinseki, looking baffled, replied: “I think he highly values veterans. As to why Congress is unable to do its business, I will leave to the members to discuss.”
And thank goodness for our side:
Representative Tim Walz, Democrat of Minnesota, called the question “beneath the dignity” of the veterans affairs committee and offered Mr. Huelskamp 30 seconds to apologize. He declined.
Here's an incomplete list of constituencies the Republicans appear to hate, based on either their votes or their inaction:

. Farmers
. Immigrants
. Women
. The uninsured
. The LGBT community
. Low-wage workers
. Urban dwellers

And the list goes on.  

Any time Rep. Huelskamp wants to support our veterans, he can do so, by voting for a clean Continuing Resolution.  Harry Reid is not stopping him.  

I should note that the day is not over, the competition is fierce, and Mr. Huelskamp could lose his putz honor before the day is out.

Discuss

Well, two things, actually: Control of the House in the next session, and the 2014 GOP primaries.

I'm reminded of parenting teenagers (and I had four at the same time -- I speak from experience here).  When the argument reaches the stage where the protagonist is incoherent, it usually means there's a different and far more basic objection.  That's where we are here, in GOP incoherency.  Why?  Well, for starters, all those GOP House members we assume will vote for a clean CR have the sword of Damocles hanging over their necks, in the form of a primary challenge from the right.  When the Chamber of Commerce announce they'd consider funding GOP moderates in the next election cycle, that took off some of the edge; but if the Koch-fueled orgs match or exceed with their own fire-breathers, at a minimum the last of the GOP moderates face exceedingly expensive primaries in 2014.  We all assume Boehner is bluffing to keep his job; it's just as likely some of those GOP members the MSM has whipped in support of a clean CR are doing the exact same thing.  Sure, it might not make a difference -- they might face a well-funded Democratic opponent -- but at least they'll have money for the fall campaign.  Boehner may be stalling a vote in part to help those members; after all, he'd rather have them in a majority than yet more Tea Partiers.

That brings me to my second point.  Boehner is perilously close to losing the House majority.  In fact, he probably loses it if he allows votes on a clean CR and a clean debt ceiling raise.  If the CR passes, it virtually guarantees hard-right challenges; if it fails, it likely results in better chances for Democratic challengers.  Either way, Boehner loses.

In a sentence, then: Boehner's only hope of keeping a GOP majority in the House come 2015 is to prevent clean votes on the CR and the debt ceiling.  The ball's in our court to force the issue.  I've been saying for a while that I didn't see a way to take the House; now I do, but it depends on forcing Boehner's hand.

Discuss

Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 09:33 AM PDT

The Onion nails it. Boehner v. Boehner

by mspicata

Help Me
By John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives

Help me. Please, God, help me. I’ve lost control and I need help.

The Onion juxtaposes Boehner's actual Op-Ed with a supposed counterpoint editorial written by John Boehner.  Satire supreme!
They haunt my dreams at night. I have this one nightmare where I’m about to ask for a vote on a clean continuing resolution and then one of them—I think it’s Steve King from Iowa—looks at me with this eerie smile and says, “No, John. No you won’t.” And then the rest of them are suddenly standing behind him and they all chant in a chilling monotone, “No, John. No you won’t.” And then I wake up screaming, “No, John!!! No you won’t!!!” and I’m crying, and my wife is crying, and I’ve sweat through my sheets.
Poor, poor John.  And to think
Did you know I was once known as a relatively moderate, shrewd politician? That was before 2010. Before the horror began.
Discuss

Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 11:09 AM PDT

This is where money will hurt the GOP.

by mspicata

Short of a constitutional amendment, the best way to counter Citizens United is internecine warfare between the moneybags of the GOP.  And it's about to happen.

Concerned, the Chamber of Commerce is preparing to participate in political primaries, protecting friendly lawmakers from conservative challengers. "Clearly we're getting to a point where we need a Congress that's going to be productive, proactive and create a stable environment for economic growth and job creation," said Scott Reed, a Republican political consultant who is advising the chamber on its strategy.
If the Chamber follows through, we could see several dozen GOP primaries in 2014 with the sawbucks of the Chamber up against the moolah from the Club for Growth.  Or the Kochs.  Or Adelson.  The more money they have to spend protecting their turf in the primaries, the better for us.  Maybe it means donor fatigue by fall for the GOP; just as likely, it means GOP voter fatigue.  

The only solution for the GOP is a quick resolution to the shutdown and the debt limit, followed by a show of bipartisanship.  Maybe we get the first two, but I don't think the GOP leadership can accomplish the third.  Prior to just now, the moneyed interests have been careful not to step too much on each other, though the disagreements were there.  This may be the moment that splits the bucks and pits millions against millions in all-out war for control of the Republican Party.

The only truly happy people on their side are going to be their campaign consultants; but the happiest people of all will be the owners of media outlets.  There will be days when you can't find the obituaries in the paper for all the incendiary political ads.

Discuss

Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 07:16 AM PDT

Why is no one saying the obvious?

by mspicata

The Democrats are doing only one thing wrong in this ridiculous crisis, and that's not coalescing around a message with force.  It's sitting there; but they're focusing on what John Boehner is doing, not on what he's not doing.

What he's not doing: Bringing up the clean CR for a vote.

There should be no discussion -- NONE -- unless the House has an opportunity to vote on a clean CR.  

Boehner can bring it up for a vote any time he wants.  The Senate has sent it to him at least three times.  We need to stop focusing on any other part of this charade.  Instead, the Democrats need to keep asking the same question: Why are you keeping the House from voting on a clean Continuing Resolution, Speaker?

And yes, I know the answer: He'd lose the vote.  All the more reason to hammer the point home.

Discuss

What if you were responsible for raising money for your party's candidates, and instead you were raising money to defeat them?

Meet Ted "Treason" Cruz.

Cruz’s profile has elevated in recent weeks with his aggressive campaign against the president’s health care law, including an expensive and profitable anti-Obamacare fundraising spot for the Senate Conservatives Fund that has aired nationwide. But his position with the NRSC as vice chairman for grass-roots outreach — which these sources said never was clearly defined in the first place — seems in tension with his work with the SCF. And his lack of involvement at the NRSC raises the question of why he would want to be affiliated with the group at all.

“The vice chairman of the NRSC is actively raising money for an organization going after Republican senators,” one GOP aide bluntly observed.

This explains Reince Priebus's anodyne infomercial at Redstate.  It explains the widening chasm between the grenade brigade and the old-timers in the GOP Senate caucus.  It's just like the first time the GOP opened Pandora's jar in 2010; they got the Tea Party, and a snootful of intransigent reactionaries.  Ted, one of those who benefitted from that misstep, beat the establishment David Dewhurst in the primaries.  So the GOP, before he'd even hit the Senate, gave him the Vice-Chairmanship of the NRSC.  That was a blatantly obvious attempt at co-option; instead, it now looks like a jaw-droppingly stupid move.  The battle that's raging right now certainly has important governing implications; but it might just as easily be seen as a belated attempt to stuff Ted back in the jar.  

Unfortunately for the GOP -- and the country-- that's where the metaphor breaks down.

Discuss

It's a frame we accept without question: The GOP is in trouble, and many of their leaders don't recognize it.  I'm writing this to argue that, perhaps, only part of that is true.  It's entirely possible that the more perceptive of the Republican Party know exactly what its problem is, know that there's only one way out of its dilemma, and have already taken steps to address the issue.

Pretend with me, then, that you're a GOP operative, poring over the election results of 2008.  You are struck by an insight: These results mark the end of Nixon's Southern strategy.  As long as the GOP could keep the white Southern male -- and his cohort, the evangelical Christian brought into the fold by Ronald Reagan -- voting in large enough numbers, they could blunt any successful Democratic coalition.  Indeed they did, most impressively in 1994.  

During George W Bush's Presidency, the negative corollary to the Southern strategy began to emerge.  By definition, the strategy is one of exclusion.  If the numbers of the old, male and pale stop adding up, the strategy fails.  Karl Rove saw this, and pushed for immigration reform.  He failed, because -- guess what? -- the strategy had brought with it politicians who believed in being exclusive.

What you, the operative, suddenly see is that the only solution for the GOP is for many of the people who voted these politicians into office to die off.  That is going to happen, life being a finite thing, but it will take time, up to a decade for the demographics to shift.  What to do in the meantime?  There are two possible answers: Appeal to a broader coalition now, taking the electoral lumps and turning many of your most committed voters into non-voters (and non-contributors) in the process; or use your committed voters to gum up the works for the decade it takes to regain your footing.

What do you choose?  The first is unpalatable, so you choose to gum up the works.  You gin up the Tea Party, and grab as many state legislatures as you can in 2010.  This enables you to redistrict, giving you likely control of the House until 2020.  This gives you a decade to remake your Party.

In no way am I suggesting that all Republican leaders understand this, or, even if they do, are willing to accept this.  Some will be brought around reluctantly; some will lose elections, as the voters they counted on pass away; still others will survive with their reactionary politics intact.  Electoral results, however, are powerful lessons, and 2012 had to teach most of the GOP that they cannot count on the Tea Party to overcome the essential demographic problem the GOP faces.

So let's be that operative again.  What do you do next?  

In jurisdictions where the older white male Republican still holds sway, you keep throwing red meat.  You'll need to keep those seats through the remaking process.  Anywhere you can, though, you start promoting young, fiscally conservative, Libertarian-lite candidates, preferably female, black or Hispanic. The future of the GOP has to include an end to its xenophobic tendencies; it also has to soften its socially conservative stances.  Those things worked in the past, but the future is not kind to them.  If you can find a dynamic Presidential candidate who can make it through the primary process in 2016 (right now Chris Christie would be the right kind of choice), that might make the change happen faster.  If not, a placeholder who keeps you from losing much ground will be acceptable, because the ultimate goal is to be firing on all cylinders by 2020 -- when the next Census will be taken, and redistricting will happen again.

Assuming this is in fact the plan, let's look at how they're doing.  The 2010 cycle went fairly well, except that it brought in even more anti-Government types. I imagine the hope was to rein them in with threats to their incumbency; if so, that has not yet worked out.  As for 2012, once the top of the ticket was solidified in Mitt Romney, the only logical thing to do was to yoke him to a Tea Party hero, hope for the best, and focus on the downticket.  

The part that really hasn't gone well is at the state level.  The 2016 and/or 2020 candidate(s) probably have to come from the Governor bench -- they have to look good for the party faithful, without the baggage from the warfare in DC.  Except for Christie, who has problems within his party, the bench hasn't fared well: Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, Rick Perry, Tom Corbett, Rick Scott, even John Kasich -- none currently look like viable Presidential candidates.  A few may not even be reelected.  Some of these states are likely to flip to the Democrats before 2020, and then the GOP is suddenly playing catch-up.

The Republicans, then, face a quandary in 2014, despite the first part of this decade going reasonably well for them.  They need to start retiring some of their Old Guard; they need some more fresh non-white, non-male faces at the state level; and they need to find a means to rein in some of their firebrands in Congress.  Barring an unprecedented upset, they look to retain their hold on the House, and gain a bit in the Senate.  If things don't go their way in 2014, it won't be doomsday for them.  But, having successfully gummed up the works, so far they have bought only time, not their future.  The clock inexorably continues to tick.

Discuss
You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.

RSS

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site