Anything, Anything

by matttbastard

As extremism’s transition from vice to virtue seemingly reaches its apotheosis, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint upped the ante yesterday in the GOP Tourette’s strategy to fight Democratic health reform legislation:

DEMINT: The problem is, the war in Afghanistan and our economy are our two biggest issues. But he’s working on other issues such as health care and he’s putting off the decision on Afghanistan which I think puts our troops at risk. So he needs to focus on priorities right now and not try to ram so many things down our throat here in Congress. He needs to address the issue of Afghanistan quickly.

Easily distracted House Minority Whip Eric Cantor also picked up the new talking point:

“With Afghanistan now becoming such a very troublesome issue, we should be making progress on health care so it doesn’t get in the way of a very, very important national security issue… . Central Asia is the Persian Gulf of the 21st century. We are foolish to be ignoring that threat right now.

“Health care in this building has made it so that it seems we can’t get anything else done. We have burning issues out there is this country… .”

Yeah, um, so, exactly what vital legislation sitting on the back burner has the GOP proposed this session, besides endless birther amendments? Anyone? Bueller?

Besides, as Steve Benen charitably notes:

All available evidence suggests Afghanistan is a major topic of discussion in the West Wing, and Obama is overseeing a deliberate, thorough review of the future of U.S. policy. If there was no debate over health care reform, the exact same thing would be happening.

Jim DeMint thinks deliberation “puts our troops at risk.” Jim DeMint isn’t very bright.

Perhaps not, but DeMint’s dimbulb assertion is not offered without purpose. Mike Stickings bluntly cuts through the bullshit:

Obviously, DeMint is trying to score political points by pitting Obama against the troops (i.e., by making shit up) — a lame but typically Republican smear — but he’s also trying to derail health-care reform by putting up any and all obstructions he can find, however ridiculous.

“[P]utting up any and all obstructions he can find, however ridiculous” — an apt summation of the GOP’s overall legislative agenda since the inauguration. Yes, kids, these are indeed the wingnut discourse-vandals with whom the USian ‘left’ is expected to chart common ground, else the Villagers collectively weep, gnash teeth, clutch pearls, demonstratively collapse upon fainting couches, etc. Now, call me a raging partisan, but isn’t it kinda sorta hard for progressives to converge with a catch-as-catch-can right-wing ideological perspective that appears to have been warped by too many tuna fish bag lunch policy seminars at the American Enterprise Institute (or from a lifetime spent huffing airplane glue — thin line, natch)?

Let’s be honest: the only ‘burning issue’ on the Republican boiler plate is causing President Obama and Democrats in Congress to fail in the effort to reform health insurance, no matter what is proposed.

It seems all-too-apparent that GOP partisans will say and do anything in their crusade to “break” the Democratic Party prior to 2010.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

The Rhetoric of Bollocks (or, Has John Pilger Always Been Such an Insufferable Prick?)

by matttbastard

Get over it, change-junkies!

Shorter John Pilger: “Both parties are the same! Vote Nader!” (h/t O-Dub for inspiring the distillation, with pwofessional pwogressive thumb-sucker David Sirota providing the original purity mash.)

To save y’all the trouble of ever having to suffer through a martyr-posing Pilger polemic again, let me summarize the tiresome formula:

John Pilger loses the plot somewhere up his ass; bravely inserts his own head in a daring rescue attempt, despite overwhelming suppression efforts on the part of the Ruling Elite.  Repeat, ad infinitum, until you’re ready to beat yourself to death with the collected works of George Orwell.

Awesome.  Can’t wait for 4 more years of doctrinaire paleo-lefty contradiction-heightening, delivered in a hectoring, teeth-itchingly self-righteous tone of rote high dudgeon and affected disgust directed towards The Absolute Worst Empire in teh World–Evar (oh, and of course Israel, which is still number two with a depleted-uranium-tipped bullet!)

Sweet Jesus, I hate purity trolling.

(That said, I will throw down with anyone who disses my homie Robert Fisk.)

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Hey, What’s the Rush?

by matttbastard

Nearly 600, 000 American jobs were lost in the month of December, the largest single month loss since 1974.  These latest figures bring the total number of jobs shed in the last 3 months to 1.8 million.  As a result, the US unemployment rate is now pushing 8%.

Chris Isidore of CNNMoney.com puts those numbers into proper context:

As bad as the unemployment rate was, it only tells part of the story for people struggling to find jobs. Friday’s report also showed that 2.6 million people have now been out of work for more than six months, the most long-term unemployed since 1983.

And that number only counts those still looking for work. The so-called underemployment rate, which includes those who have stopped looking for work and people working only part-time that want full-time positions, climbed to 13.9% from 13.5% in December. That is the highest rate for this measure since the Labor Department first started tracking it in 1994.

Absolutely “devastating”, as President Obama just observed during a news conference introducing his new emergency economic advisory board.

Yet, as Ali Frick at Think Progress acidly points out, “Republicans are stonewalling action to help the economy recover. Even as millions of Americans are losing their jobs, conservative Senators insist that there’s no rush to help them.”

Watch it:

Transcript:

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We do not need any more news conferences. What we need is getting more than 16 people in a room. We need to slow down, take a timeout, and get it right.

ROGER WICKER (R-MS): As Thomas Jefferson reminded Americans in his day — and I quote — “Delay is preferable to error.” Let’s not rush into doing this the wrong way.

JOHN ENSIGN (R-NV): So we need to act much more responsibly than this bill acts. It’s still time. There is no hurry.

TOM COBURN (R-OK): There’s no reason for us to hurry up, number one. There’s no reason for us not to look at every area of this bill and make sure the [American] people know about it.

Paul Krugman doesn’t mince words in his column today:

Over the last two weeks, what should have been a deadly serious debate about how to save an economy in desperate straits turned, instead, into hackneyed political theater, with Republicans spouting all the old clichés about wasteful government spending and the wonders of tax cuts.

It’s as if the dismal economic failure of the last eight years never happened — yet Democrats have, incredibly, been on the defensive. Even if a major stimulus bill does pass the Senate, there’s a real risk that important parts of the original plan, especially aid to state and local governments, will have been emasculated.

Somehow, Washington has lost any sense of what’s at stake — of the reality that we may well be falling into an economic abyss, and that if we do, it will be very hard to get out again.

[…]

Would the Obama economic plan, if enacted, ensure that America won’t have its own lost decade? Not necessarily: a number of economists, myself included, think the plan falls short and should be substantially bigger. But the Obama plan would certainly improve our odds. And that’s why the efforts of Republicans to make the plan smaller and less effective — to turn it into little more than another round of Bush-style tax cuts — are so destructive.

As Obama put it in a speech to Democratic lawmakers last night (h/t Steve Benen), “[Y]ou get the argument, ‘Well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill.’ What do you think a stimulus is? That’s the whole point. No, seriously. That’s the point.”

Watch it:

Benen further notes that “The Politico‘s Jonathan Martin said that the president’s urgent tone was “reminiscent of the final days of the campaign.” It was actually more than just reminiscent — at one point, Obama literally asked lawmakers, “Fired up?” They shouted back, “Ready to go!“”

So, let’s go.  Now.

Take action: Contact your senator and demand they cease with the tiresome, frivolous political theatrics and pass this recovery package intact (not a watered-down goddamn bullshit “moderate” compromise version) ASAP.

Go.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Catholic Priest to Obama Supporters: ‘No Communion For You!’

by matttbastard

head_up_ass

Stay classy, Rev. Jay Scott Newman:

A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him “constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.”

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.

“Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president,” Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein.

“Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.”

Translation: “[M]aterial cooperation with intrinsic evil” = all Obama supporters are gonna be community organizers–in hell.

Fired up, ready to go. To hell.

(BTW, who knew condemnation was such a versatile meal? I mean, you can eat and drink it. The Carnation Instant Breakfast of eternal consequence.)

Make sure to also check out Daisy’s post on Rev. Newman–who also happens to be her priest.

Woah.

h/t Cara @ Feministe

Related: William J. Gould, writing in Commonweal, on why it’s counterproductive for (anti-choice) Catholics to be single-issue voters:

While opposition to abortion is surely an important part of Catholic teaching, it does not begin to exhaust the riches of the Catholic social tradition. On the contrary, there are many other important matters—issues of foreign policy (including questions of war and peace), health care, whether and how we are going to meet our obligations to the poor, just to name a few—on which the Catholic social tradition has much wisdom and insight to contribute. To reduce Catholic teaching to opposing abortion, which many bishops are very close to doing, is to present a truncated version of the Catholic tradition… .

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

Update: Moving post from Bint Alshamsa, who also provides a link to Rev. Newman’s letter.

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Reality Check

by matttbastard

Despite the empty promise of a magical unity pony being giddily floated by the Very Serious Set (sample conventional wisdom: “[t]he big argument for centrist governance is that nothing significant can be achieved in Washington without bipartisan support, without members in both parties owning a stake”) politics, as they say, ain’t bean bag. Sooner or later it’s gonna once again get real ugly in Washington and, as Digby observes, nakedly partisan:

Considering that the Republican party really has been purged of moderates now, I’d say that the GOP is going to be the much bigger roadblock to compromise than the left. They’re more radical than ever. The Republican party is now led by Rush Limbaugh. There’s nobody else. And when Obama reaches out his hand to Rush Limbaugh he’s going to get it whacked off with a chainsaw, at which point, these villagers (who haven’t even considered this political problem) are going to blame Obama for being unable to govern in a bipartisan fashion.

All over television this morning the gasbags seemed convinced that Obama had been elected to stop the left from ruining the country. And when it turns out to actually be his supposedly cooperative new partners in governance — the right — that stands in his way, they will blame him for being too far left. It’s a trap.

Something tells me Digby has a Scrying pool somewhere on the grounds of her palatial estate, because the preceding sounds like an all-too-plausible dispatch from the near future. Look, change is not magic, nor is it going to bestowed upon us from on high by any individual, remarkable as he or she may be. It is going to take some hard goddamn work from the ground up and from all of us to move forward with a progressive agenda in the US, Canada and the rest of the world (or, at the very least, put a stop on the regressive course of the past 40 looooong years of movement conservative ascendancy.)

Party time’s over, kids; time to take a deep breath, roll up our sleeves and once again get down to the dirty business of making a better world. We’ve been given an opportunity. Let’s not squander it.

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Larison: “The real anti-establishment candidates are known by their marginalization.”

by matttbastard

Paleocon blogger Daniel Larison doesn’t think much of the “anti-establishment” credentials of candidates (in this instance, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama) who belong to, brazenly court, and are eagerly championed by establishment parties:

[T]his entire debate about the anti-establishment populism Palin supposedly represents and its similarity or lack of it to Bush’s style simply reproduces McCain campaign propaganda that presents Palin as an anti-establishment reforming champion.  Challenging and throwing out incumbents are not enough–if that constituted being anti-establishment, Macbeth would be one of the great anti-establishment heroes of all time.

[ …]

Something that seems to elude these discussions is the recognition that ambitious, new pols are not anti-establishment–they want to be the establishment, or a part of it, or else they are bound for long, disappointing, stagnant careers in the backbenches or the backwoodsThe basic truth about anyone competing at this level for high office is that they may not yet be of the establishment, but they are very much in favor of the establishment provided that they are an important player in it. The real anti-establishment candidates are known by their marginalization.  Washington pols and their allies who run against Washington are having us on in the same way that the branches of the federal government con us by pretending to check one another while constantly aggrandizing more power for the central state as a whole.  Every wave of reform is stymied because Washington pols will never of their own volition yield power that Washington possesses, which gives the citizens less and less leverage over each succeeding generation of so-called reformers.  No one in the major parties calling for reform or change intends to alter this structure in any meaningful way.

h/t Ampersand

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Quote of the Day: The Rhetoric of Confrontation and Confusion

by matttbastard

There’s a moral problem with all the pro-Georgia cheerleading, which has gotten lost in the op-ed blasts against Putin’s neo-imperialism. A recurring phenomenon of the early Cold War was that America encouraged oppressed peoples to rise up and fight for freedom — and then, when things got rough, abandoned them to their fate. The CIA did that egregiously in the early 1950s, broadcasting to the Soviet republics and the nations of Eastern Europe that America would back their liberation from Soviet tyranny. After the brutal suppression of the Hungarian revolution in 1956, responsible U.S. leaders learned to be more cautious, and more honest about the limits of American power.

Now, after the Georgia war, McCain should learn that lesson: American leaders shouldn’t make threats the country can’t deliver or promises it isn’t prepared to keep. The rhetoric of confrontation may make us feel good, but other people end up getting killed.

– David Ignatius, The Risk of the Zinger

h/t Clive Crook

Related: Ivan Krastev on the ‘great power trap’:

The politics of mixed – and confused – signals emanating from Washington continued throughout the five days of the Russia-Georgia conflict. The outcome is doubly revealing: of the fact that the US does not have leverage over Moscow, and that Bush’s rhetorical commitment to guarantee the territorial integrity of Georgia is indeed just rhetoric. In short, the Bush administration’s crisis-management was the worst of both worlds: it had no sense of direction, and it lost credibility.

Moscow too made a grave strategic miscalculation. The decision to follow the crushing of the Georgian assault on Tskhinvali by invasion of Georgia proper – though with no political plan, no local political allies to help remove Saakashvili, and no principle on which to build a Caucasus settlement after the war – meant that Russia’s actions were guaranteed to invite stinging international criticism. Russia has not offered anything, articulated any larger and inclusive project to make sense of its military campaign or enable it to reach out to neighbouring states and international partners. Russia has, in narrow terms, won; but it could yet turn out to be the biggest loser of the Georgian war.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers