After a pleasant weekend spent mostly away from the 'Tubes, I awoke this morning to much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the fact that the Congress may be close to passing a budget/deficit/debt resolution bill. No one seems happy with it, and I'm not either, even though the specifics remain illusive. Paul Krugman thinks it a disaster. Booman attempts to see the glass as half full. A valid point of contention is the call for a "Super-Congress", 12 special folk who have the ability to make or break the nation's economic future .. to a point. That's insidious and likely not very Constitutional. An invalid point of contention is that Congress is enacting the wrong policy, the point about which Krugman is very shrill. I agree that this austerity push is the wrong direction for economic policy, but that isn't the claim being made. The claim at hand is that these people don't have the authority to do this contrary to the people's needs and the people's will. Yes, they really do because ~we~ gave it to them when ~we~ elected them. Just ask the voters in Wisconsin. Sometimes politicians lie. Okay, most of the time, politicians lie. It's often helpful to remember political reality is what it is, and saying you want to do something you fail to do is not always a lie. That's because, quite simply, others carrying the authority ~we~ gave them might just disagree.
As of this writing, the Senate will pass this deficit reduction 'compromise'. Nate Silver is handicapping that the House won't. I'm not going to bother linking to Twitter because that could all change in the next hour. But what is, or at least should be, clear is that Congress is pursuing this effort. That is as it should be. Not the result, of course, but the effort certainly. What has struck me strongly through this whole debate is the importance given to one man, truly desperately, by both the right and the left. This is all about President Obama. We have been lied to, duped, by a meme far beyond the idea policy should be what we want it to be. We have been duped into thinking that we have a unitary executive. I can't count the number of times I have written that the President is the executor of the will of Congress, and that Congress is the representative body of the American people.
All sorts of progressive folk this past two days are writing that they will never again vote for Barack Obama. I'm not disagreeing with them. I just think they're following a path set by the right that will damage the country far more than accepting the austerity thematics/dramatics. These folk are buying into the idea that we have a unitary executive. They have accepted what the right has worshiped as gospel for at least 30 years. They think we have a king we can vote for. We don't. In fact, we have a populace that increasingly accepts that we don't have a role in governance, and we elect 'leaders' who have no principles by which to govern. We blame the President for not being what he/she was never meant to be.
Any prioritization scheme amounts to the Treasury making de facto appropriations decisions.
I think this is worrisome. But on the other hand, it goes to a trend in our politics that has been escalating since the 1960s. More and more, Congress has been willing to simply forego its role in making policy to the President. This trend has only been highlighted during the Obama Administration, because Obama, more than any President in recent memory, has been deferential to Congress’ role as policymaker. We saw that in the Health Care Bill and Stimulus Packages, and we’re seeing it now in the debt ceiling fiasco. The result is an almost desperate flailing by Congress to get the President to do something. That’s a bad thing for Constitutional governance.
Third and finally, however, there’s a lot of rhetoric in conservative circles about fidelity to the Constitution. Well, it’s clear who’s supposed to originate budget and revenue related policy: Congress. Not the President. Congress. All the Constitution allows is for the President to veto budget laws. Yes, we’ve established a tradition of the President putting forth policy, but it’s just that — a tradition. And not a healthy one.
That's the point that keeps getting missed with the frustration, desperation and agitation over this debt ceiling fiasco. It isn't Obama's job to fix this problem. It wasn't his job to fix health care, or DADT or DOMA. It isn't the job of the President to "fix" Congress. It's ours. And holy crap have we dropped the ball. 'Fixing' Congress should be the clear principle we follow. After all, it's stated very clearly in the Constitution that that's our job, our goal and our agreement by which we will live with ourselves in this country.
President Obama has already said that this debate may be the one that 'gets him fired' next year. If the 'Tubes are to be believed, it will be. To me, that's fine. He's already done more for the effort of forcing Congress to represent in 3 years than any President I remember in the last 30. He's tried to get Congress to do it's job. We progressives love to talk about how we want to hold politicians "accountable". Obama has actually attempted to do that. I respect that effort. It won't make me vote for him; I have other reasons to do that. But his efforts speak clearly to my principles, chief among them supporting the rule of law as defined by the Constitution. I don't like this budget "compromise", which is more of a capitulation. But if we want different, perhaps we'd be better served by getting the Tea Party and corporate Republicans out of our governance.
I've no interest in having the same tired arguments about how corporations force every hand in the voting booth save our special digits, when we bother to bring them. There is no point to discussing how big money purchases our politicians. If all that caterwaul is universally true, then there isn't a damned thing we can do anyway, and all this smack talk about how Obama is dead to our principled selves is just ego blather. Our politicians will do what we want when ~we~ remember who they serve and why. They take an oath to serve the Constitution. It's hard for them to remember that, I'm certain, when the electorate forgets that we implicitly serve the Constitution as well, as it serves us. A unitary executive doesn't serve anyone, and there is strictly no principled point to demanding that it will. That's where the Republican/Tea Party fails the principles of the Constitution. If the American people didn't agree with them, the Overton Window wouldn't be drifting to the right. I wonder why many on the left are so willing to follow those lemmings off that cliff.
I haven't any doubt that there will be those who read this and say to themselves "He's just a Demorat/Obamabot defending President Betrayer". Hardly. Turner, over at 4 &20, sarcastically asked:
Would President Bachmann please you?
My answer: Yes, IF I could have a Congress that actually represented the will of the people, and was actually capable of accomplishing anything.
Yesterday, Michael Tomasky went even further, arguing that Democrats should start “saying openly what has been clear for months or even years now — that as long as economic recovery would work to the political benefit of Barack Obama, the Republicans have been, are, and will be in favor of sabotaging the economy.” Tomasky added this is “obvious.”
The point isn’t to question Republicans’ bizarre priorities or values; the point is to make economic argument clear to the public. Too many bemoan a vague “lack of political will” or “absence of leadership” as the reason so little gets done. Those people are wrong.
The Tomasky article is a must read. Benen quotes this from Tomasky:
Washington is a city of conspiracies, but far and away the most pernicious one is the fiction, in which one must participate if one wants to be regarded as a “serious” person, that both parties are more or less equally to blame for the present malfunctioning of our democracy. […]
Nonsense. There’s nothing vague about it. It’s crystal clear. We can’t do these things because of the extreme nature of the Republican Party and the right-wing noise machine that enforces such rigid ideological purity. Period and end of story.
Tomasky also gives concrete examples of how the Washington dysfunctions play out as regards concrete policy important to liberals and progressives. In almost every case, he shows how Republicans were for many of these policies, until they were offered by Democrats and/or the President. And as SteveM of NMMNB pointed out in the link from my previous post, they get away with such egregious flip-flopping and obstruction because the accepted narrative is that *both* parties share the blame equally. That is a fiction, an untruth that SteveM, Steve Benen, Michael Tomasky and myself have pointed out should be obvious.
For whatever reason, there are those who are deeply invested in that illusion. The Republicans most certainly are; that's the very point behind their campaign of willful destruction. For some, like Jane Hamsher, maintaining that illusion is a clear path to importance and profit. The Greens do it because the only way they can gain any relevance at all is to take down the Democrats such that we turn to them when Republicans crush us even more than they have already. Regardless of why any support that lie (Tomasky suggest that it's misplaced 'courtesy', and recent events convince me that he is in part correct), the illusion, the fairy tail, maintains it's strength on both sides of ideological spectrum. This is Monster Making, 101. Notice that this narrative doesn't have the finger pointing at hippies, liberals or progressives. This illusory accusation of weak will/both parties are equally at fault, contradictory statements held as if both can be true, is focused squarely at Democrats.
The consequence of supporting that illusion are clear. The Republicans regain power, having shown for half a century that they can't govern anything. The recent Montana legislature is clearest proof of that consequence. Another consequence is a built in feature of the fairy tail itself. Anyone who points out that it's a fantasy, an illusion, is only supporting the Monster. That one must be 'in the bag' for Democrats, or angling for a DNC position, or insulting those who have embraced the lie, or crying 'with us or against us', when in fact the one's parroting George Bush are the ones supporting the illusion. Again, Monster Making 101.
I'm not supporting or defending 'Democrats' as an entity, despite what so many feel a need to accuse me of doing. I will support individual Democrats, just as I will disagree with them. But I've spent too many years online exposing the lies of the right, discussing their Monster Making, to simply join in holding Democrats accountable for Republican attempts to hurt the country. They aren't responsible for it, and that should be obvious.
One of my favorite Snarktopian blogs is the most excellent Rumproast. For me it's an almost daily read. So, imagine my surprise and delight that StrangeAppar8us took notice of the wicked crazy coming out of Helena. You simply have to love the title of the post:
Montana, Land of the angry hat-people.
The caption to the AP picture of Timmy Ravndal, and his leather bar get-up, had me laughing out loud:
Members of the Lewis and Clark Tea Party Movement hold “Pirates and Cowboys Dress-Up Day” at the State Capitol in Helena.
By all accounts he was a good one, entertaining and somewhat artistic. Of course he was also a serial-murdering psychopath, but what does that really mean to YOU? Can you find fault with a man who so loved children? You love children, don't you? I mean you obviously agree with the guy. You're sympatico; you should be friends because you want the same things. You're one in the same, save for that slaughtering people and burying them in your basement thingy. I'll bet he loved puppies. You love puppies, don't you?
I found inspiration for this bit of heavy handed satire from an argument that should be laughed at, derided, and generally vomitted upon by any thinking human being. Small wonder of irony that I find it promoted by Nick Gillespie at "Reason", so called. There's nothing reasonable about that, at all.
For many years, I have prided myself, perhaps wrongfully, for reading and understanding the right wing websites that many of my leftward brethren have ignored. But, simply put, the Montana online right is getting to the point that even I can't read them any more. That's a sad admission coming on a sad afternoon after many such sad afternoons. It's also very true. The same old lies, the same old ignorance. It's kinda pointless.
Regarding Wisconsin: We have posts concerning the meanie union thugs. This is the same trope that has existed since the Pinkertons were hired to bust union efforts in Butte, and a street war ensued because workers were tired of being beaten and shot for standing for their rights. Yup, it was bloody, but the "Unionists" (what a dumbass fucking term that is) never did run around killing grandma the way they were claimed to have done. If any know the story of Butte's union organizing, then you know that the Pinkertons pretty much got their asses handed to them, after inciting and carrying forward increasing violence. The lie of the union thug is just that, a lie. At the end of the day, it's just one more pronouncement that capitalists have the right to defend their claim, and workers have no right to defend their role. It's a lie.
What's even more sad is the pathetic individual claiming that we should pony up to pay for education vouchers because the unionist teachers are only demanding more! That's one of the biggest lines of bullshit ever. The unions didn't start this fight by demanding more. They have offered concessions regarding their "entitlements". But Walker is having none of it. He wants the public employees union gone so that he can give Wisconsin's power provision over to the Koch brothers. Notice how the facts concerning that are totally and completely absent from any of the bullshit spewed on the rightwing Montana blogs.
And then there is my favorite. People are saying mean and violent things about Scott Walker on the Twitter. And this is supposed to matter while people are watching their power to organize and demand fair treatment get deliberately ripped from them by Scott Walker to benefit the billionaire Koch brothers. Oh for fuck's sake and boo hoo. When the assistant AG of Indiana twits (appropriate term) that union protesters should be shot, the reaction from the Montana right is ~crickets~. These dumbasses actually expect the Montana left to condemn what they find heinous, when they completely ignore what is truly horrific. Here's an open and very direct message to Montana online right:
Fuck you and your expectations, you bunch of hypocrites. The average person isn't as stupid as you. Quit expecting us to be.
But wait! There's more. Regarding the Montana legislature, the online Montana right has been ... subdued. They aren't happy with the lack of fiscal constraint. They appear a little miffed that the legislature hasn't cut back on big gubmint more. "What about the Constitution?" they weakly wail. Meanwhile, their representatives, the people they elected into office, have voted to deprive the state of 1.9 BILLION dollars over the next two biennium. Their people have voted to allow poaching to reach extreme proportions, what with silencers and all, and voted to overturn 100 years of Montana tradition of fishing access. Their people while they wail to the high heavens about local control have voted to refuse local control to municipalities in Montana. It's pretty obvious at this point that the Montana GOP doesn't give a flying shit about jobs, or Montana, or even a balanced budget. And the only thing coming from the Montana "Dextra" is the sad soft whine that these people should be more what they want and less what they don't want.
There are no links in this post, because I'm not going to promote the bullshit that currently comes from the online Montana WRONG. The reader can find them themselves easily enough. Just know this. The next time some right wingnut tells you how the state is, you know that they're lying or ignorant or both. In the end, it doesn't matter, save how you react to it.
This is the story, from the AP as filed by Matt Gouras, which was top center in the fish-wrap copy of the Bozeman Chronicle today. You won't find it on the front of the Chronicle website, but rather only in State News. It details how the Montana House of Representatives Judiciary Committee sent HB 516 on to a full floor vote. If any are unfamiliar, that would be the bill that would strike down any anti-discrimination ordinance that deviates from the statewide version. It's passage would be a victory for the Montana Talibangelicals.
I'm not bringing this up solely because this a blow to universal human rights, which it is. Jamee Greer and others make that point far better than I. No, I bring this up because not once in the article does it mention the city of Bozeman. "So what?" you might ask. Allow me to respond. There's two reason's actually. The first is that the Bozeman city commission has a city wide policy statement of anti-discrimination similar to Missoula's ordinance. That too would be struck down by HB 516. One would think it significant to mention that in the home town Bozeman newspaper.
Second, look at the headline: Montana GOP targets Missoula Gay Rights Ordinance. Accepted that Matt Gouras may not be the writer of the headline, there is still something chilling and instructive about it, and the actions taken by the Montana Republican representatives. Though the bill's text speaks clearly of 'protecting classes' of people, this is all about teh GEY, and how they must not be "protected". In other words, this is a direct attack against the rights of GBLT people, the very rights the rest of us enjoy as being protected in one manner or another. Simply put, they are not worthy of protection. It's also rather pointed that this is aimed at Missoula, and only at Missoula. Bozeman's fair policies are only collateral damage to the hippy punching of putting Missoula in it's 'proper place'. And this coming from the same bunch of folks who bristle at the fact that the Federal Government can tell them what to do. I invite you to consider the bitter irony of that on your own.
I recently had a terrific conversation with an individual in the know who stated something that I've recognized for some time. Bozeman is not well liked in Montana. We are seen as 'snooty'. But having grown up in the Bitterroot (almost spelled it Bitterrot ... wouldn't that be pointed) I recognize that whatever disdain is directed at Bozeman pails in comparison to the bile reserved for Missoula. It does not speak well of us as a state when our GBLT friends and family are used as disposable pawns in games of civic rivalry.
A good idea of Dave Budge's to post these things. It's especially good for the Tea Party crowd since words often seem to confuse them. (Graphic courtesy of this post at the Great Orange Satan.) The Tsunami force wave of voter mandate which has swept Republicans into power to stop our reckless spending has been repaid with next to nothing. In fact, they are being repaid with worse than nothing, since most of those meager cuts will hurt the very families of the people demanding them. I think John Cole sums up this self-defeating lunacy very succinctly:
This could accurately be summarized as “Yes, I had two double-bacon cheeseburgers with extra mayo and a large order of fries with gravy, but I would like to note my beverage was a diet coke.”
If you are not going to raise taxes and seriously cut defense spending, you aren’t serious.
(This post dedicated to every moron who spouts the phrase "How's that hope and change working out for you?")
The Sore Winners are easy to find. They are most visible at their flagship, Fox News, which dominates both cable news and the political conversaton and yet is always embattled, defending itself against the heathen. They are loudest not only on secular talk radio, but also in Christian broadcasting, which tells its listeners that a nation that remains a nation of Christians rather than a Christian nation is a nation that has turned against them. This is not to say, however, that the Sore Winners are strictly a political phenomenon, manipulated, as some would have it, by their masters in the media or by the money men from Wall Street. No, what makes the Sore Winners such a force in American politics is that their anger is so personal.
Worrying about what someone who doesn't think about you thinks about you: this is the essence of Sore Winnerdom, and it is no accident that it also the essence of the Republican animus. The Republican party was small and hidebound — the party of country-club corporatists, and the range-war West — until, with the Reagan Revolution, it began grafting unto itself the legions of the disaffected: the Christianists, the Southerners, the blue-collar workers displaced by the collapse of America's industrial base and estranged from the unions that failed them. The Tea Party, in this sense, is not a new development so much as it is part of an ongoing migration of the perpetually petulant, a political phenomenon grounded in a demographic one: the creation of a class of baby-boom retirees who have been deprived of meaningful work but given personal computers as Christmas presents. The skin on the Republican Party's "Big Tent" is by definition thin, and under it gathers a volatile throng of people with nothing in common but the fear that outside its environs someone is laughing at them — or simply having a better time.
Do read the whole thing. And keep in mind that these are your fellow travelers in this country, and online. Big Swede. Mark Polish Sounding Name. Flip sides of the same coin. Rob Natelson, Travis Kavulla, Eric Coobs. Special snowflakes among those lesser who fail to hoist the Sore Winners to shoulder and parade their success through the town square. That is elitism, by the very real definition of the word, before it was changed to mean 'eating arugula and fancy mustards', as the Republicants have changed the definition of so many other words. Soren Kierkegaard called this urge "Caesar or Nothing"; be so important to others that one loses the ability to abide oneself. But, casting aside the sense of self has two consequences only. If "they" won't adore you, then dominate ... castigate ... HURT them, or act in manner too self destruct (witness Nov. 2, 2010).
When I was in the SCA, lo many years ago, there was a knight who is still seen as one of the most accomplished of all time. You, yeah you. That nerd out there laughing? He coulda kicked your ass in the blink of an eye. And I'm not exagerating. What he said has stuck with me to this day. Paraphrasing: No matter what awards or honors you've achieved, 99.999% of the world just couldn't give a shit.
So now, those who've achieved by any combination of birthright, grant of skills, sheer luck and hard work, the Sore Winners are mad, because 99.999% of the world doesn't give a shit about their success. And they're gonna take it out on you, even if you're one of those who achieved. Don't get me wrong, here. The TeaPublicans will eat their own, just as willingly as they will eat their lessers. Because they are mad, angry. Caeser or nothing. My socialist/communist friends might tell me that it's because of the consumption culture in which we live. They would likely be right. Stating the obvious, in many ways. But it doesn't change the reality around us, not does it assuage the anger of the Sore Winners.
Obama Appoints Record Number of Gays – Less than halfway through his first term, President Barack Obama has appointed more openly gay officials than any other president in history. “And none of them have any rights either, so quit whining,” Obama did not say. (AP)
I assume the reason Rand Paul supporters literally kicked this woman to the curb and stomped her head was because she had a Muslim appearance and made them nervous. I’m not discounting the theory that this was simply a harmless fraternity prank that was misunderstood, nor the possibility that the bitch ran her big mouth and got what she deserved.
What I’ve learned over the past few days is that both sides do it. Whether it’s a left-leaning writer using the phrase “curb-stomping” or an angry mob of conservatives actually performing a curb-stomping, whether it’s a liberal drawing a Hitler mustache on George W. Bush or a right-wing militia member blowing up a federal building, whether it’s two black guys in berets standing outside a polling station or a hundred years of Jim Crow laws. It’s all the same stuff and we should just admit it.
From where I’m sitting, all of these seemingly coordinated efforts by Democrats and their press minions to label Party dissidents as “insane” are not only creepy, they smack of tactics widely used by the most repressive, most brutal tyrannies the world has ever known.
They smack of Soviet-style, scientific tyranny in the worst way imaginable.
Really? Stomping a woman's head into concrete is sane?
Now we know why Rand Paul spent the past twelve or so hours blaming the vicious assault of Lauren Valle by his supporters on "both sides" and a "daze of lights flashing" -- because one of the assailants is Tim Profitt, the Bourbon County coordinator for Paul's campaign.
According to Mr. Profitt:
... the camera angle made the scuffle Monday night appear worse that it was.
Gay voters angry at Democrats could sway election*
Across the country, activists say gay voters are angry — at the lack of progress on issues from eliminating employment discrimination to uncertainty over serving in the military to the economy — and some are choosing to sit out this election or look for other candidates.
Y'know, just once, I'd like to see a story from the press about how people, (Gay, Het, Poly, White, Black, Red, Yellow, Male, Female, Rich and Not) are going to swing this election because they're tired of the damned stupidity, extremism, violence (physical, verbal and virtual) and bullshit coming from the "Tea Party" who want to take back America from the overwhelming majority of Americans to whatever goddamned fantasy they live in.
*Don't even start with the "You're blaming the gays for a vote that isn't in!" shit. I'm not. If you actually start to think about it for a second, Tammy Webber just invited one to do so. But she offers no proof that the GBLT vote has that kind of sway in swing districts. The press, having been willing accomplices to Tea Party excess, is now in CYA mode. And what handier scapegoat could they offer than the Gay voter who doesn't vote. Other than Obama, of course ...