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Tag: "wingnuttery"

Repealing the 17th Amendment: Soon to be Mainstream Republican Policy

[ 84 ] August 13, 2012 |

Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake moves the mainstreaming of overturning the 17th Amendment another step forward. Yes, an increasing number of right-wingers want to repeal the constitutional amendment allowing for the direct election of senators by the people.

Why?

Because it’s much easier for corporations to cut checks to individual state legislators than trying to buy whole elections. They long for the days of William Clark buying the Montana legislature.

Given how quickly radicalism has become mainstream in the Republican Party, who doubts this is not a Republican talking point by about 2017? Not me.

Republican Climate Policy

[ 10 ] August 13, 2012 |

I suppose that maybe this was a misspoken statement, but it certainly seems to fit with the rest of the Republican response to Obama to blame the national drought on the president. Not the response, the drought itself. And who doubts that a certain segment of American society believes the drought is God’s response to electing a black Islamofascist to the presidency?

Cuckoo For Cocoa Puffs

[ 43 ] August 1, 2012 |

What happens when 2 influential right-wing loons decide to declare war on each other? Let’s get the popcorn ready!

If Frank Gaffney gets his way, Grover Norquist won’t be at a high-profile conservative gathering known as the Conservative Political Action Conference in October. Not only that, but the anti-tax crusader and his allies will be totally discredited and branded as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But long before he was going after top State Department official Huma Abedin, Gaffney was targeting two men connected with CPAC: Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, and Suhail Khan, a former official in the administration of President George W. Bush. Both are board members of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC.

“Grover Norquist is credentialing the perpetrators of this Muslim Brotherhood influence operation. … We are in a war, and he has been working with the enemy for over a decade,” said Gaffney in a January 2011 WorldNetDaily op-ed.

May the best man wi…no wait, uh, may both of them lose!

Social Darwinism for the 21st Century

[ 344 ] July 29, 2012 |

Bryan Caplan is a terrible person. Now you might say that I am too mean to the Koch-funded George Mason economist. After all, he might not beat his dog. But that doesn’t really matter here. Because Bryan Caplan is a terrible person. Why is Bryan Caplan such a scourge on the human race? This article arguing that the poor are to blame for their own poverty and thus shouldn’t be helped is Exhibit A. Here are a couple of “highlights”:

I’m not merely saying that “bad behavior is bad for you.” I’m saying that bad behavior is a major cause of poverty. If I’m right about this, there is a great, neglected remedy for poverty: Poor people should stop engaging in bad behavior. If this seems flippant, that’s not my intention. Poverty: Who To Blame will largely be a work of economic philosophy. Part of my project is to provide intellectual foundations for what I perceive as Americans’ justified frustration with welfare recipients. (Another part of my project, by the way, is to destroy the intellectual foundations for what I perceive as Americans’ unjustified frustration with Third World immigrants).

….

I think such meritocratic moral intuitions are sound, and ought to guide public policy as well as private conscience. If people are poor because they’re behaving irresponsibly, they should be far down our queue of people to help – if they belong on the queue at all. That said, I also happen to think that reducing the generosity of the welfare state and making assistance conditional on good behavior will (eventually) reduce bad behavior. Whether I’m right or wrong on this point, though, the fact that poor people are often the authors of their own destitution is morally significant and sadly neglected.

Why I’ve never run across these arguments before and certainly not made with such care! Gilded Age theorists like William Graham Sumner made essentially these same arguments over 100 years ago. Hacks like Sumner served the plutocrat class of the first Gilded Age; hacks like Caplan serve the plutocrats of the second Gilded Age.

And in case Caplan wasn’t enough of a throwback to the worst period in American history, he managed to find a way to blame women too.

As women’s labor market opportunities improved, their interest in low-status men with stable jobs declined. This in turn led many low-status men to either give up on work and women, or try to impress women in other ways. Some of these “other ways,” strangely, are self-destructive behavior like non-remunerative crime and substance abuse.

If only those damned strumpets respected a working-class man who brought in a single-family income (never mind that Caplan completely opposes paying working-class people decent wages), we’d still have good hard-working men in this country (never mind all the jobs outsourced to other countries).

Question: If you are a job candidate in the Economics Department at George Mason University, do they give you some kind of test to make sure you have a small enough heart. Do they just call it the Scrooge Test? In admiration of course, not critique.

I don’t know why, but somehow writing about Caplan made me want to dedicate this song to him:

H/T to Jamelle Bouie’s twitter feed (@jbouie) for this, though I’d feel better about the future of the world if I hadn’t seen this.

[SL]…Related.   And see also.

And the Winner of Miss Conservative Goes to….A White Woman!

[ 89 ] July 24, 2012 |

Because liberal fascists have taken over our beauty pageants, conservatives have decided to start their own Miss Conservative Pageant.

Never mind that many liberals are more or less disgusted by such events and how they objectify women. Or that…oh why even bother pointing out how ridiculous this is. Refuting conservative arguments is like arguing with children. A pointless waste of time.

Movement Conservatives

[ 121 ] July 17, 2012 |

I’ve always considered this term an oxymoron.  Anybody who knows anything about Burke gets this.  Ideally my students get it as well, given that they should know some of what I know about Burke, which is greater than nothing but shy of authoritative.  This term also illustrates a rift between theoretical expectation and empirical reality.  True conservatives shouldn’t be a movement.  True conservatives should weigh any action against the potential for unintended consequences.  But, then, movement conservatives have as much in common with Burke as I do, a point somewhat illustrated in this excellent read by David Roberts.

Roberts nails two of the conventional wisdoms held here at LGM.  First, increased polarization in American partisan politics is not symmetrically distributed.  Although the left has crawled further left, the right is sprinting towards the cliff.  It’s the right who are moving.  Citing both political science (Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal) as well as Galston (also of The Democratic Strategist) and Mann from Brookings, Roberts offers a compelling account which demonstrates the asymmetry in contemporary polarization.  His argument is perhaps best captured by the following quote:

The national Republican Party, by contrast, has now been almost entirely absorbed by the far right. It rejects the basic social consensus among post-war democracies and seeks to return to a pre-New Deal form of governance. It is hostile to social and economic equality. It remains committed to fossil fuels and sprawl and opposed to all sustainable alternatives. And it has built anepistemological cocoon around itself within which loopy misinformation spreads unchecked. It has, in short, gone loony.

Such an epistemological cocoon allows for this sincere exhibition of hilarious lunacy noted by Erik a few days ago.

Second, “centrist” pundits are, well, idiots.

Instead, pundits — and, to be fair, lots and lots of non-pundits — cling to the presumption of symmetry. Their minds rebel at asymmetry, especially extreme asymmetry. The notion that “partisans on both sides” are preventing a sensible middle course is deeply rooted to the point of catechism.

Which nicely sets up the money shot of Roberts’ post:

Maddeningly, when pundits actually lay out what that sensible middle course would look like, they end up describing Obama’s agenda. Benjy Sarlin at TPM put it best: “Pundits Urge President Obama To Back President Obama’s Proposals.”

It is this political environment that allows for Mitt Romney to vociferously run against an ACA that is close to the very Massachusetts plan that he signed.  It allows for voters in the “center” and the right to disbelieve that Romney supports the Ryan budget when the specifics of the latter are spelled out for them (I saw this within the last week, but I can not find the link / cite to it.  Ergo, I could just be making it up. h/t commenter Howard, I’ve now attached the link.) And it might even allow for John McCain to say, presumably with a straight face, that it wasn’t the 23 years worth of tax returns which cooled McCain to selecting Romney as his VP running mate, it was that Sarah Palin was the better candidate all along.

Back to our pal Burke: ”It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare.”  I wonder whom Burke would find the loudest complainers of the past three 20 years.

h/t Tom Birkland for the Roberts piece.

Do We Have a Term Like Aesthetic Stalinism to Describe Conservative Sports Writing?

[ 123 ] July 13, 2012 |

In the rich conservative tradition of declaring Bryce Harper a conservative hero because he plays hard unlike those black Democrats like Jason Heyward, I bring you the brilliant Conservapedia entry on “Overrated Sports Stars.” Although please note that given the nature of the website, it could change any time.

1. Andre Agassi — his rival Pete Sampras was far better, but Sampras is conservative. Agassi is a big donor to Democrat politicians.
2. David Beckham — far from the best, but promoted like he’s Pele. Not even good enough to play on Britain’s weak Olympic team, despite its having three spots for older players. Is Beckham socially liberal like some of the others on this list?
3. Kobe Bryant — not as valuable to the game as Jeremy Lin; hasn’t won a title without super-coaching by Phil Jackson, who observes that Kobe is not on the high level of Michael Jordan; Kobe makes only 46% of his shots, and scores lots of points because he hogs the ball.
4. LeBron James — 2012′s NBA Finals MVP is far from the best player in the NBA, he is way overrated by the liberal ESPN compared to Christian Kevin Durant
5. Magic Johnson — lucky enough to play on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Lakers to win some titles, but was crushed by Michael Jordan and the Bulls; no problem, Magic was a critic of President George H.W. Bush, which thrilled liberals. People look at him, and say, ‘Hey, it’s OK to get HIV because I’m living with it.’ That is the wrong message. [1]
6. Peyton Manning — a quarterback who won only one NFL championship, despite being voted by the media and others to be NFL MVP 4 times, AFC Player of the Year 6 times, and Pro Bowler 11 times. The liberal media treated him like the Second Coming of Christ in order to oust conservative Tim Tebow from his leadership position in the swing state of Colorado prior to the Presidential Election 2012.
7. Steve Nash — an outspoken liberal who supported Obama, Nash was chosen twice by the lamestream media as the NBA MVP despite never leading his team to even an NBA Finals
8. Mark Sanchez — the New York Jets quarterback is being touted as the team’s best QB over conservative Christian Tim Tebow despite falling apart at the end of the 2011–12 season. Now that Tebow’s on-board, liberals are championing the former USC star as the superior player despite his recently poor play.
9. Tiger Woods — hasn’t won a major golf tournament in four years, and yet he’s still the only one liberals want to talk about while reporting on tournaments.
10. Michael Schumacher — has failed to perform after his return to Formula One racing and has been consistently outperformed by his teammate. His first podium finish since 2006 came only after many drivers in front of him retired from the race. Schumacher still receives generous media attention.
11. Sol Campbell — Is known to be sympathetic towards homosexual rights campaigners. During his England career they failed to win a single major tournament. While at Arsenal he failed to win the champions League, only ever making the final once and only won the Premier League a measly two times. Despite this, he has had a career which has seen him play for some of the best clubs.

I’d like to think this is parody. The idea that conservative Republican Peyton Manning went to Denver to replace Godhead Tim Tebow in order somehow to swing Colorado to the Democrats this November. Thet that talking about Tiger Woods is a liberal thing (what golfers do real conservatives want to talk about? Oh right, the white ones). That Jeremy Lin is “more valuable to the game” than Kobe Bryant. What the latter actually means I don’t know. But Lin is a fundamentalist so I guess that’s how we define these things now.

Yes, I’d like to say this is parody because it seems like something this obviously stupid could only be satire. And probably not even very good satire. Alas, we all know this is the real deal.

DeMint Goes Full Calhoun

[ 89 ] June 28, 2012 |

Not that we should be surprised that Jim DeMint is calling for nullification of the health care law.

“I urge every governor to stop implementing the health care exchanges that would help implement the harmful effects of this misguided law. Americans have loudly rejected this federal takeover of health care, and governors should join with the people and reject its implementation.”

I wonder what else DeMint would like states to nullify….

Platform of the Texas Republican Party

[ 154 ] June 26, 2012 |

The Texas Republican Party announced its 2012 platform. This is otherwise known as the standard Republican policy narrative circa 2015. It is very special. So special that no one can really explore the whole thing without losing their mind. Here’s 11 brilliant moments. But there are so many more. See Misty.

11. Gestational Contracts – We believe rental of a woman’s womb makes child bearing a mere commodity to the highest bidder and petition the Legislature to rescind House Bill 724 of the 78th Legislature. We support the adoption of human embryos and the banning of human embryo trafficking.

10. Protection from Extreme Environmentalists – We strongly oppose all efforts of the extreme environmental groups that stymie legitimate business interests. We strongly oppose those efforts that attempt to use the environmental causes to purposefully disrupt and stop those interests within the oil and gas industry. We strongly support the immediate repeal of the Endangered Species Act. We strongly oppose the listing of the dune sage brush lizard either as a threatened or an endangered species. We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished.

9. Rights Versus Products — We oppose calling welfare and other income and product redistribution schemes “rights” or “entitlements”. We know that fundamental human rights are inherent to individuals and are granted by God and are protected by the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. They are not products of others labor. Unalienable rights, such as life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, property rights, free speech, religious freedom, self-defense, etc. do not impose on others rights whereas income and product redistribution invariably do so.

8. Homosexuality ― We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.

7. UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child ― We unequivocally oppose the United States Senate’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

6. Health Care and Nutritional Supplements ― We deplore any efforts to mandate that vitamins and other natural supplements be on a prescription–only basis, and we oppose any efforts to remove vitamins and other nutritional supplements from public sale. We support the rights of all adults to their choice of nutritional products, and alternative health care choices.

5. American Identity Patriotism and Loyalty – We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups. Students should pledge allegiance to the American and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism.

4. We support the principles regarding the public economy as stated in the Republican Party Platform of 1932 to wit:
Resolution Regarding the Public Economy
Whereas, constructive plans for financial stabilization cannot be completely organized until our national, State and municipal governments not only balance their budgets but curtail their current expenses as well to a level which can be steadily and economically maintained for some years to come.
We urge prompt and drastic reduction of public expenditure and resistance to every appropriation not demonstrably necessary to the performance of government, national or local.
The Republican Party established and will continue to uphold the gold standard and will oppose any measure which will undermine the government’s credit or impair the integrity of our national currency. Relief by currency inflation is unsound in principle and dishonest in results. The dollar is impregnable in the marts of the world today and must remain so. An ailing body cannot be cured by quack remedies. This is no time to experiment upon the body politic or financial.
Source: Republican Party Platform of 1932
June 14, 1932

3. United Nations Agenda 21 -The Republican Party of Texas should expose all United Nations Agenda 21 treaty policies and its supporting organizations, agreements and contracts. We oppose implementation of the UN Agenda 21 Program which was adopted at the Earth Summit Conference in 1992 purporting to promote a comprehensive program of sustainable development projects, nationally, regionally and locally. We oppose the influence, promotion and implementation of nongovernmental organizations, metropolitan and/or regional planning organizations, Councils of Government, and International Council for Local Environmental initiatives and the use of American (Texas) citizen’s taxes to promote these programs.

2. Israel – We believe that the United States and Israel share a special long-standing relationship based on shared values, a mutual commitment to a republican form of government, and a strategic alliance that benefits both nations. Our foreign policy with Israel should reflect the special nature of this relationship through continued military and economic assistance and recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths. We believe that the US Embassy should be located in Jerusalem. In our diplomatic dealings with Israel, we encourage the continuation of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but oppose pressuring Israel to make concessions it believes would jeopardize its security, including the trading of land for the recognition of its right to exist. We call on the U.S. to cease strong arming Israel through prior agreements with the understanding of delivering Palestinians on the West Bank. We support the continuation of non-recognition of terrorist nations and organizations. Our policy is based on God’s biblical promise to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel and we further invite other nations and organizations to enjoy the benefits of that promise.

And No. 1:

Voter [sic] Rights Act – We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed and not reauthorized.

I mean, what’s the Texas Republican Party without misspellings and white supremacy?

The Daily Caller: Copulating with the Dessicated Corpse of Parody

[ 91 ] June 16, 2012 |

And you thought a wacko interrupting the president was the most embarrassing thing that would happen to The Daily Caller this week.

Not even close.

This is quite literally one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read.

Bryce Harper is a conservative hero. The star rookie for the Washington Nationals has woken up Major League Baseball, and watching it unfold has reminded me of nothing so much as the collapse of the old political paradigms and the inevitable and upcoming rebirth of conservatism in November.

This became clear to me on May 26 of this year. The Nationals were playing Atlanta, and in the fifth inning Harper, with his team leading by two, singled to right. The ball was hit to Braves right fielder Jason Heyward. Heyward strolled up to the ball as if he were walking to the corner for a paper.

Harper promptly headed for second base. Heyward suddenly woke up and fired to second base, but too late.

More than one sports writer has noted that this moment was no small thing for baseball. It was like the part in the movie “Awakenings” when the guy who was asleep for 30 years wakes up.

To me, the play carried even greater symbolic importance. Heyward’s bungle showed a complacency, if not indolence, that Harper threatens to destroy, but it also could be a metaphor for the collapse of the old liberal order. Heyward was like one of those public school teachers who, because they are a union member, can’t be fired and so are relegated to the “rubber room” to sit and read the paper and gather a check for the rest of their lives. Or even Obama, who went from Hawaii to Harvard to the White House and never seems to have had to slide head-first into a base his entire life.

Believe it or not, it actually gets much worse from there!!! Including this gem of a paragraph:

If America is to be solvent and healthy, we cannot keep doing what we have been doing since the Miracle Mets won the World Series in 1969. We have to do things differently, just as Bryce Harper is not playing baseball the old way. Harper is not going to sit back and accept what the status quo tells him to accept (where does he get off stealing home?). And conservatives are not going to expect to retire at age 65 or to send their kids to the college of their choice if it costs $50,000 a year. We are going to adapt. (In a strange way, conservatives are not only like Bryce Harper, but have become like the do-it-yourself punk rockers of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Don’t have a record label? Start your own. Are the old rock groups bloated and sloppy? Boot them off the stage.) Meanwhile, liberals occupy everything so that they can demand — what was it again? Oh yeah, peace. And taxes.

I have no expectations of good work from any conservative outlet in 2012. But even expecting this to be awful, I was completely blown away. I mean there is no way that the greatest comedy writer in America could create a parody of the conservative worldview better than this.

….In comments, Kathleen notes, “It would have been better if he said, “Heyward strolled up to the ball as if he were a young buck sidling up to the checkout counter to purchase T bone steaks with food stamps”. SEK said more or less the same thing. Showing that because my first impulse is to look for class bias, I can sometimes miss the obvious racism.

Worst Book Review Ever

[ 26 ] May 29, 2012 |

It’s hard to imagine a more hackish book review than what Ira Stoll pulls off at Reason. Reviewing Rich Cohen’s new book on the United Fruit Company (this is the first I’ve heard about the book although I’ll probably take a look at it), Stoll notes that the story of Sam “The Banana Man” Zemurray and capitalism writ large is a story of great things, with the occasional blemish.

What are the great things Stoll ties to Zemurray and United Fruit? Upward mobility! Technological innovation! “Bias-free marketing creativity!” Egalitarianism! Decentralization! Philanthropy (properly used to help create Israel of course)!

And then there’s a tiny paragraph showing the supposed downside:

And the United Fruit story also reminds us of some of the hazards when capitalism becomes cronyism. The book recounts all the Washington insiders hired by Zemurray as lobbyists, including Tommy “the Cork” Corcoran. A business that lives by Washington is finally at its mercy, as United Fruit learned when the antitrust cops came after it.

Let’s see, so the story of United Fruit is almost perfect, like an almost unblemished banana with one tiny bruise. I wonder if United Fruit had any negative connotations. Oh let’s see, there’s only like 100 books on the utter evil of United Fruit and the banana trade. So there’s the destabilization of Guatemala through the overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz because he threatened to nationalize unused United Fruit lands. There’s the horrible labor and environmental practices of the fruit companies that led to, among other things, workers turning blue. There’s the monocultures that led to banana diseases that continue to threaten the long-term supply of the fruit. There’s the time that Guatemala and Honduras almost went to war when each was controlled by a particular banana company that both wanted on the border. There’s the fruit company not respecting the sovereignty of their respective hosts, quite literally creating the term “banana republics”; capitalist hero Sam Zemurray himself hired mercenaries to overthrow the Honduran government in 1910.

And there’s so many more terrible things that these companies did to Central America.

But none of this matters for Ira Stoll or Reason. No cost to labor, nature, or human life is high enough if the end is a justification of extremist capitalism.

Your Republican Party!

[ 84 ] May 10, 2012 |

The modern Republican Party: creating myths about what the Founders thought out of thin air yet actually opposing what the Founders invented while screaming tyranny.

The latest example of the second part of this equation comes from the House passing a bill eliminating the census surveys that have been part of the census process ever since 1790 when noted tyrant and suppressor of civil liberties Thomas Jefferson created it to learn more about how the nation’s people lived.

Some choice quotes:

“It would seem that these questions hardly fit the scope of what was intended or required by the Constitution,” said Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), author of the amendment. “This survey is inappropriate for taxpayer dollars,” Webster added. “It’s the definition of a breach of personal privacy. It’s the picture of what’s wrong in Washington, D.C. It’s unconstitutional.”

Yes, because the government that created the census surveys didn’t know much about the Constitution since it only consisted of several delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

Also, the real Daniel Webster is no doubt rolling over in his grave (or more likely giving a 15 hour speech about it in the afterlife) about what an idiot his namesake is.

And of course, Steve King, man of genius:

“I think it’s important to have the information, but it’s important that people have freedom and liberty and we do not have an intrusive federal government that would impose a fine on people if they didn’t let the information come out about whether they had a flush toilet,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

I guess this all makes sense though, because there’s no question the Republicans are opposed to the Enlightenment.

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