Republican North Carolina state legislators have proposed allowing an official state religion in a measure that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings.
The bill, filed Monday by two GOP lawmakers from Rowan County and backed by nine other Republicans, says each state “is sovereign” and courts cannot block a state “from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
Arguments about religion are usually arguments about Who’s In Charge rather than arguments about religion. Same thing with arguments about Intrusive Government. Reverence allegedly paid to God is actually directed at the Tribe, in whose name God serves. Figure they’ll be holding a conclave down there somewhere in the old confederacy to elect the first Baptist pope any day now.
After the recent revaluations from former Florida GOP members that all that talk about voter fraud was itself fraud, you’d think people would finally stop listening to the rhetoric, and pay more attention to the behavior.
Yes, yes…they yap about “smaller government all the firggin’ time, but you need to understand what is meant in the first place by “smaller government”. It was never about reducing its staffage or its costs. Size is a relative matter.
What they’re talking about isn’t size, it’s power…specifically the power of the federal, not state level government. They want it small enough it can’t enforce equal rights laws. They want it small enough it can’t stop Wall Street and big corporations from raping the middle class. They want it small enough it cannot defend the rights of women, minorities, the poor, and the powerless. That is all that was ever meant by the term, “small government”.
This seems like beating on a dead horse…probably everyone knows by now that WalMart pays food stamp wages…but there’s a point here that needs constant hammering on. If you like WalMart’s Low, Low Prices! fine…except WalMart workers are living on food stamps and probably other public support too, and that’s a large part of how WalMart keeps its prices down (another part is their pressure on companies to manufacture goods in low wage countries abroad, thereby costing American families their livelihoods and decimating this country’s industrial base). So…the difference between what you paid for your WalMart goods and what they would actually cost if WalMart simply paid its workers a living wage is the part paid for by food stamps. If you shop at WalMart, you are on the dole too. Except you could probably afford not to be.
So who’s the lazy bum wanting a government handout here, because it isn’t the WalMart worker.
I just finished watching Rachel Maddow deliver a smokin’ hot riff on republican shock and confusion, as displayed on Fox last night, that the numbers they were certain were going to go massively in Romney’s favor didn’t. She showed clips from past Fox News predictions of a Romney landslide, showed that stunning live TV moment that’ll almost certainly go down in television history, when Rove got angry that the Fox News vote analysts called Ohio for Obama. Then…brilliantly…she added that no, the polls were not skewed, Obama was born in Hawaii, he didn’t raise taxes, the deficit hasn’t gone up, unemployment figures were not cooked, Saddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, climate change is real, evolution is real, FEMA isn’t building concentration camps…
…and god I hope I can get my hands on a video clip of it because it really said it all…especially how at the end of that grotesque litany of decades of republican right wing and religious right hallucinations she said that it is profoundly damaging to our democracy when one party is trying to cope with things as they really are and the other is living it it’s own detached insular fantasy world.
We need, she said thumping her pulpit, honest, good faith arguing and debating about policy…real argument not phony crap ginned up just to drive people to the polls or satisfy the pathetic conceits of religious and political fanatics…because it is in that honest debating of the issues that we have the best hope of finding answers that work. By cocooning in their own fantasy world the republicans have made that honest, good faith arguing and debating nearly impossible.
She said she hoped the shock of that collision with real numbers and real reality last night might break the bubble. I’ve heard others expressing this since last night, but I am not so sure. But there is the problem we face as a nation. It’s the problem we need to address before we can really and truly get down to addressing any of the others. The polls were not skewed. The unemployment numbers were not rigged. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Climate change is real. Evolution is real. FEMA is not building concentration camps. Homosexuals are not demon possessed tools of satan. Two plus two equals four. If any of this distresses you be assured that reality does not care about what you believe or about you. It just is what it is. You need to care about reality. If you can’t bring yourself to do that critically, honestly, with your eyes wide open, without letting your cherished preconceptions blind you to simple facts, don’t be bellyaching about the moral relativism, hedonism, nihilism whatever of the world around you. The nihilist is you.
If you’re still committed to vote for this man admit it…you don’t care that he’s a brazen in-your-face liar. You care about something else. Maybe it’s the president is a darkie. Maybe it’s the homosexuals are after your children. Maybe its rape is a gift from God. Whatever.
You’re going to vote for the liar. Because he shares your moral values.
Although D’Souza has been married for 20 years to his wife, Dixie, in South Carolina he was with a young woman, Denise Odie Joseph II, and introduced her to at least three people as his fiancée…
The next day another conference organizer, Alex McFarland, distressed by D’Souza’s behavior, confronted him in a telephone conversation. D’Souza admitted he shared a room with his fiancée but said “nothing happened.” When I called D’Souza, he confirmed that he was indeed engaged to Joseph, but did not explain how he could be engaged to one woman while still married to another. When asked when he had filed for divorce from his wife, Dixie, D’Souza answered, “Recently.”
How the man who, while editor of the Dartmouth Review, penned a racist parody of African American students titled “This Sho Ain’t No Jive Bro” and later outed a gay student using stolen mail between members of the Dartmouth Gay Student Alliance can in any sense be labeled a Christian is something confederate christianists can explain I suppose. But here it is again: the righteous anti-gay moralist getting caught with his pants down around his morals.
Self-hating closeted gay people and anti-gay fundamentalists have this in common: they’re both so busy fighting the homosexual menace they never develop the skills necessary to honorably manage their own sexual desires. And every time they fail miserably at it they double down on their fight against the homosexual menace.
Republicans have enjoyed a state-level resurgence even as they have lost — and lost big — their once commanding national majority. The GOP was once the landslide party, the party of Eisenhower ’52 and ’56, Nixon ’72, and Reagan ’84. Even Bush I’s 53.4 percent in 1988 was very respectable. Reagan’s 50.7 percent in 1980 wasn’t a landslide but still demonstrated that an outright popular majority supported the Republican. In the five elections before ’92, the GOP won popular majorities in four.
You should go read this article in full. It’s a take down on today’s republican party, not bitter, but clearly ticked off. He comes close to saying it outright: the republican party is now the party of southern christianists and wall street financial barons, locked in a deadly embrace of money and highly motivated southern tribalists each demanding fealty from republican politicians…one for their money, the other for their votes.
Because the world view of each is so self-centered, insular and disconnected they have made the nation nearly ungovernable. They have their own facts, their own news channel, their own pundits all telling them their deranged conceits are the highest wisdom. There was a time when I could hope the money guys would eventually come to their senses: economic disaster has a way of making you pay attention to reality. But as their world has become more and more infected with Ayn Rand’s poison that seems a lost hope too.
They’ll let it all burn down: the christianists because Armageddon means Jesus is coming…the financiers because they won’t stop believing in their own Atlas-like infallibility until they’re jumping out their wall street windows because they’ve lost everything and this time there isn’t any money left in anyone’s pockets to bail them out.
I really wish I knew what the answer was. But it seems all there is left to do now is ride it out to wherever it’s going, and maybe grab whatever small piece of America you can as the pieces all float past and hang on to it.
I blew up a corner of the Internet last night. After reading this observation about Ann Romney’s speech at the Dish…
[Ann Romney says] what she and Mitt have is a “real marriage.” Who has a fake one, one wonders?
…I tweeted something about my unreal marriage and created the hashtag #unrealmarriage. The #unrealmarriage hashtag quickly trended as other people in marriages that the GOP doesn’t consider legitimate—and the Republican party has ways of shutting our marriages down—started tweeting out their unreal 140-character love stories, their unreal wedding pictures, photos of their unreal kids, etc., all with the #unrealmarriage hashtag.
Now I wasn’t watching Ann Romney’s speech—I also missed Rick Santorum’s speech—so I didn’t hear her “real marriage” remark in context before I tweeted. My bad. So here’s Romney’s “real marriage” phrase in context…
I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a “storybook marriage.” Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or Breast Cancer. A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.
Angry conservatives soon swarmed #unrealmarriage to argue that we were being unfair to Ann Romney because she wasn’t drawing a distinction between her opposite-sex marriage and the same-sex marriages that keep Rick Santorum up at night. But “real marriage” is a loaded a phrase—particularly in the context of the Republican National Convention. It’s so loaded a phrase, in fact, that even those who were watching the speech—like Andrew Sullivan—took it as an unsubtle dig at folks in same-sex marriages. And while Romney’s comments seem benign in print/pixels), consider the reaction of the anti-gay crowd.
Here’s the thing… you can’t turn words like “Family” and “Values” into dog whistles for hating on gay people and then get miffed when whenever you use those words to actually mean Family and Values people keep hearing that dog whistle. You’re the one trashed the neighborhood and forgive me (or not) for thinking you did that out of spite because you couldn’t make the rent. And if you turn the institution of marriage into a seedy dive with a sign over the bar that reads…
…just remember, the one who devalued marriage, is you.
“…at Power Line, Steven Hayward asks, “WHY IS THERE NO LIBERAL AYN RAND?” He’s taking off from Beverly Gage who, slightly less stupidly, asks, “American conservatives have a canon. Why don’t American liberals?” Sure we have a canon — it’s called Western literature. And it beats the snot out of the sad, long-form political pamphlets wingnuts like to name-check. You will learn more about the human condition from the works of novelists, playwrights, and poets than you ever can from a thousand power freaks’ blueprints for the mass production of Procrustean beds.” -Roy Edroso
And now you know why they want to defund libraries and public schools.
You Obviously Don’t Understand Our Revolutionary New Ideas About Government
Radley Balco tweets: “Surprised the Cato crowd is so big on Ryan. Votes don’t match rhetoric on fiscal policy, and he’s awful on social, civil liberties issues.”
Uh-huh. I see you’re still taking their libertarianism seriously. Something I discovered back in my libertarian days was you scratched the surface of a lot of them and you found a John Bircher who figured pot decriminalization would appeal to younger voters.
Every election cycle the republicans run on deregulation, lower taxes and more jobs. And when they get power then it’s all about the culture war and everything they do seems to cost people jobs and depress the economy more and more. You wonder if they even care about the economy.
Get a clue: a productive economy, technological progress, and general prosperity, are the most destabilizing things for authoritarian cultural norms and religious fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalism and right wing authoritarianism flourish in stagnant or declining economies.
I’m not saying it’s a plan, I’m saying it’s a reflex. They act like they don’t want Americans to prosper because they have an allergic reaction to prosperity anywhere below the top 1 percent. Prosperous happy people don’t obey orders and generally don’t take a lot of crap from authoritarian louts.
First, denial. My country hasn’t gone crazy…it’s just going through a very bad patch. Then Anger. YOU FUCKERS KILLED THE DREAM I HATE YOU! Then bargaining. Maybe I can just ignore everything and pursue my job and my art and find peace and happiness that way…
RUSH LIMBAUGH: Have you heard, this new movie, the Batman movie – what is it, the Dark Knight Lights Up or something? Whatever the name of it is. That’s right, Dark Knight Rises, Lights Up, same thing. Do you know the name of the villain in this movie? Bane. The villain in the Dark Knight Rises is named Bane. B-A-N-E. What is the name of the venture capital firm that Romney ran, and around which there’s now this make-believe controversy? Bain. The movie has been in the works for a long time, the release date’s been known, summer 2012 for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental, that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?
Where Are You When We Need You, Nikita Khrushchev…
Seriously, I often say I am thankful for the cold war in that regardless of how scary it sometimes was…
…it gave me a decent education.
But there is something else I miss about the cold war…horrible as it was. The communist line was that communism was a better deal for workers then capitalism and developing nations should go communist to protect their workers’ interests over the evil running dog capitalists. So we had a propaganda war going on between us and them and Wall Street and big business were keen to prove to the world that our system was the better one for workers.
“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” -H. L. Mencken
These are the times that try men’s souls. Also their charity. Granted Walker was swimming in corporate money. Granted he outspent his democratic opponent 30 to 1. But the buck stops with the voters and at some point you just have to accept that more of them would rather cut their own throats then live in a state of peace and prosperity with people they despise.
Fine. I won’t help you cut your own throat but I’ll be happy to stand here and watch. I might even applaud if you’re good. Just don’t call me “neighbor” if I do. Don’t use that word in my presence. Don’t even think of me that way. My neighbor is the guy whose face you’re kicking.
This post on his blog is apparently a talk he gave at the second Berkeley Faculty Club symposium on American Politics and Democracy. He begins by noting he is out of his comfort zone discussing these matters, being an economist and not a political scientist. You should read it anyway because he brings to it the same thoughtful, insightful thinking he brings to economics.
I want to quote some of its passages…
An economist is going to start thinking about democracy with Tony Downs’s economic theory of same. First-past-the-post electoral systems and office-seeking politicians should produce a two-party system. Office-seeking candidates simply won’t join any third party because their chances of election will be too small. Only those who want to make some ideological or demonstrative point rather than to actually win office and then make policy–cough, Ralph Nader, cough–will do so. Hence the stable configuration has two parties. And then the two parties hug the center and follow policies attractive to the median voter.
Ideology will matter–politicians do not run purely for love of office but rather to then make the country into what they regard as a better place. There will be swings to the left, to the right, to the up, to the down, to the forward, to the back. But the policy views of the median voter ought, according to Tony Downs, function as a strong attractor and we should not expect the policies implemented by the politicians who get elected to deviate far from them.
Now there are qualifications. It is the median voter, not the median citizen.George W. Bush became president not because his policies came closer to the preferences of the median person who voted on that Tuesday in November but because his policies came closer to the preferences of the median Supreme Court justices Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor. Gerrymandering and misapportionment–cough, the Senate, cough–matter a lot. But these are qualifications. Tony Downs made a very strong case that first-past-the-post electoral systems will produce policies that the median voter likes. Thus in this sense the electorate gets the government it deserves. If there are problems, the problems are in the minds of the voters rather than in the Democratic system.
That is the economist’s not theory, not analysis, but rather prejudice. theory. Political scientists will scorn it as hopelessly naïve. But it is the benchmark from which I start.
In a democracy…in a healthy functional democracy, the middle will act as a check on the extremes. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, like when the middle position still favors segregation of the races and the second class status of women as it did here in the 1950s. But the point is the voters generally get the government they asked for, or in H.L. Mencken’s lovely phrase, “Democracy is based on the theory that the people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”
But the middle does not like republican policies. I could go on and on about that but it’s basically a fact that the polls show next to no public support for republican economic policies, which are generally understood to benefit only the richest of the rich. Yet those are the policies we get, often with lackluster democratic opposition, if any. So what happened?
Now let me shift and talk about our experience here in America since I got to Washington in early 1993, carrying spears for Alicia Munnell in Lloyd Benson’s Treasury Department in the Clinton administration.
Clinton was a centrist Democrat. The Clinton administration’s priorities were by and large, with exceptions–gays in the military–what you might call “Eisenhower Republican” priorities. Expand healthcare coverage so there were fewer uninsured and fewer people dumped by ambulances on the corners of the Tenderloin. But also control government healthcare cost which were then ballooning out of control–even though we didn’t know what “ballooning out of control” really meant. Balance the budget. End welfare as we know it–thus buying into the Republican critique of the Depression-era belief that raising children was real work–even if you were not married to a rich husband who was the chief executive of Bain Capital–and a socially-valuable task. Passing NAFTA. Creating the World Trade Organization. Strengthening Social Security through a combination of tax increases, benefit cuts, retirement=age increases, mandated private accounts requiring individuals to contribute their own money over and above Social Security (as an add-on but not a carve-out, as a supplement to and not a substitute for Roosevelt’s New Deal’s Social Security).
All of these seemed to us in the early 1990s to be bang-on the median voter’s preferences, Eisenhower Republicans. Clinton Democrats. We in the Bentsen Treasury at the start of 1993 looked forward to doing an awful lot of technocratic work–cranking out centrist legislation approved by large bipartisan majorities.
We found Republicans cooperative on NAFTA.
We found Republicans pushing for welfare reform–but only to the extent of passing things that were so highly punitive that they could not believe any Democratic president could in good conscience sign them. But Clinton fooled them. He signed welfare reform–and then spent some time in 1996 campaigning on the message: “re-elect me because only I can undo some of the damage that I have done to the welfare system”. Which was true. And which he did.
That was the old game. Hammer out compromise legislation and move on because at the end of the day what was important to both sides was keeping the country strong and prosperous, even if they had different ideas of how to go about that, even if it meant their individual constituencies didn’t get everything they wanted. Everyone agreed at the end of the day that the government still had to function and it’s work needed to get done.
But notice how the center as defined by Bill Clinton was by then way further to the right on economic policy then it was at any time since The New Deal. What was happening was since Watergate the republicans had become more radicalized and the democrats just kept playing the old game of Find The Center. And over a span of just a few elections that had moved the center way to the right. What happened next was the logical outcome of that.
Otherwise the Republicans when I got to Washington at the start of 1993 decided that they were going to adopt the Gingrich strategy: oppose everything the Democratic president proposes, especially if it had previously been a Republican proposal and priority. That is not a strategy that would ever be adopted by anybody who wants to see their name written in the Book of Life.
But Gingrich found followers.
And so things that we in the Bentsen Treasury all expected to happen, did not happen. We had expected that sometime between January and June 1994 Lloyd Bentsen’s chief healthcare aide would sit down with Bob Dole’s chief healthcare aide. We had expected that they would hammer out a deal so that people in the future would never be as dependent on on charity for their healthcare as Bob Dole was when he returned injured from World War II.
That meeting never happened. Bob Dole decided he would rather join Gingrich to try to portray Clinton as a failure. So Bob Dole never got a legislative accomplishment out of his years in Congress. Instead, he got to lose a presidential election. And I now remember Bob Dole not as the co-architect of health care reform in 1994 but as somebody who denounced Roosevelt and Truman for getting us into those Democrat wars that saved Europe from the Nazis, China and the rest of Asia from Imperial Japan, and that have allowed South Koreans to grow five inches taller than their North Korean cousins.
As my friend Mark Schmitt wrote in his review of Geoffrey Kabaservice’s book about the moderate Republicans, Rule and Ruin, the moderate Republicans were partisan Republicans first and Americans second…
Exactly. He goes on to give an account of this just getting worse and worse, first with Clinton and the impeachment circus, then, massively so, with president Obama.
Then came Obama in 2009 and 2010. My friends–Christina Romer, Lawrence Summers, Peter Orszag, and company–headed off to Washington to plan a Recovery Act that they thought would get 25 Republican votes in the Senate. It was a squarely bipartisan fiscal stimulus: this tax cut to make the Republicans stand up and applaud, this infrastructure increase to make the Democrats applaud, this increase in aid to the states to make the governors and state legislators applaud.
It didn’t get 25 Republican votes in the Senate. It got 3.
On healthcare reform, Barrack Obama’s opening bid was the highly-Republican Heritage Foundation plan, the plan that George Romney had chosen for Massachusetts.
RomneyCare got zero republican votes.
On budget balance Obama’s proposals have not been the one-to-one equal amounts of tax increases and spending cuts to balance the budget of Clinton 1993 or Bush 1990. Obama’s proposals have been more along the lines of $1 of tax increases for every $5 of spending cuts.
And the Republicans rejected them
And so on… DeLong starts the time of the breaking of our democracy with Gingrich. That’s likely because he saw it first hand there in Washington. But Gingrich was the next logical outcome down a course the republicans have been relentlessly following since Nixon and the Southern Strategy.
In the years after the civil war and the first and second world wars, we thought of ourselves as one country. Regardless of where people stood on the left/right spectrum there was this general sense that at the end of the day we were all Americans and there was a love of country that moderated all but the lunatic fringe. Nixon understood that this e pluribus unum mindset would leave a party that by then existed simply to represent the interests of big business, the rich and the powerful in a permanent minority status.
Working Americans were fine with The New Deal. As long as the prosperity of the working class was rising the tide for the upper classes too the republican establishment was fine with just tinkering around the edges. But it couldn’t last. Eisenhower was conservative on many social issues, weak on civil rights and civil liberties, but not overtly hostile as the Nixon/McCarty branch of the party was. He was the last of the moderate republicans who believed that a healthy middle class was necessary to the vitality of the economy and the security of the United States.
Nixon hated the elites, the intellectuals, the liberals. He positioned himself as the champion of the common man against the elites. But it was those elites who had improved the status of the common man, and now threatened to do the same for women and minorities. Nixon was no great friend to the rich and powerful either, but as they would decades later in a man called Dubya they saw in Nixon’s paranoia and bottomless hatred someone who might just break the New Deal coalition of labor, rural and urban voters. And then they could go back to what they were doing back in Hoover’s Day…getting rich quick in the Wall Street casino.
Divide the country and we’ll have the bigger half Pat Buchanan told Nixon. But without a doubt Nixon took that advice because he was already considering it. Divisive pit American against American campaigning had been his method of winning elections since his first run for congress. They simply scaled the Nixon technique up and made it a permanent American against American cold war. Very deliberately they sought to replace in the working class voter love of country with love of tribe. No more of this e pluribus unum communist socialist nonsense. And like Gingrich would decades later, they found allies. White blue collar workers who hated black people. Males resentful toward independent women. Rural voters who loathed big city people with their big city morals and ideas. Poor people jealous of union workers with their union paychecks. Christian fundamentalists who loath the people in the church across the street.
When you got right down to it, America was a country of the imagination only. It wasn’t a nation by blood and ancestry. Our shared history is very brief compared to what the peoples of Europe, Asia and South America see as their own. The United States is a nation based on a political ideal of liberty and justice for all. The social contract was simply that we had each others backs when it came to that liberty and justice for all thing. Your freedom in the pursuit of happiness is as dear to me as my own. We are all Americans. As long as that held true a party of the rich and powerful would never win very many elections or wield enough power to impose its will on the majority. But the New Deal majority was a coalition of many diverse parts of working America and the republicans became expert at playing them against each other, that they might rule over all.
When Scott Walker was caught talking about using a divide and conquer strategy he wasn’t just talking about himself or just breaking the unions: this has been the essential republican strategy for gaining and keeping power since Nixon. Divide the country, set working American against working American, and in the end the rich and powerful take all. And it’s worked.
One thing I have learned from watching the Wall Street boys run the country is they’re not very good at it, and at some level they might even know they’re not very good at it. But they don’t care about running the country, they just want to get it out of their way so they can chase some more money. It’s all about the money chase with them. When the economy tanks, when the stock market goes bust, when banks and businesses go bankrupt right and left, they blame everyone but themselves. They’re like a bunch of drunk drivers convinced they’re fit to drive because they haven’t killed anyone yet, and when they do it was an accident and it was dark and that pedestrian just jumped right out in front of them and they didn’t mean to do it so stop treating them like criminals. Once upon a time the nation had laws against their sort of drunk driving. Those laws were there to protect the rest of us. But those law got in their way. Who are you to tell me I can’t drink and drive…it’s my car and my taxes paid for the highway and if I can’t drink and drive then it’s not a free country and all you other drivers on the road are socialists.
The money chase is all they care about. The New Deal coalition got in their way so they set about busting it apart. If in the process of doing that they ripped America apart too and put the nation at risk of catastrophic social upheaval that isn’t important. If once the brakes are off their reckless driving crashes the economy to smithereens and the lives of honest hard working Americans are destroyed and the future strength and security of the nation is placed in jeopardy that isn’t important. They don’t care about America. They are citizens of the stock market.
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