Clintonialism II: Honduras Edition

But it’s high time an accounting was made. What better time than the present, in a truly revolutionary presidential election year when two of the top three contenders are outsiders whose strength is derived from their break with The Powers That Be and their bloody past?

Drumpf is the Result of the Crisis in the Do Nothing Republican Party

What’s Wrong With This Picture?  Yes, his mouth is open, but that’s not it. It’s that 44″ tie there that’s blowin’ in his wind.  This is exactly what Drumpf will look like as president, telling the press to “Get off my lawn!”— the lawn of his private Ireland “White House” golf course estate, and to go have sex with themselves back in Amerika. Several …

The Dunning Kruger Effect: Part II

To paraphrase Dunning-Kruger: Fools lack the tools to recognize their foolishness; i.e. their limitations. The alternative to this lack of self-awareness is to blame someone else for their failures; to wit, that secret Muslim-Kenyan commie illegally occupying the White House. Naturally, this illegal occupation trope is being sold to the gullible as a promise by certain GOP presidential candidates to repeal every piece of legislation, every executive order, signed into law by our illegitimate president. Because freedom!

Seriously, America? This??

So it may be too soon to start showing America just what a Trump “presidency” will look like. After all, it was many of those same sorry fuckers who elected Ronald Reagan.

Now That’s Leadership

ToomeyRepublican Senator Pat Toomey makes a Kinsleyan gaff: Tells the truth about GOP obstructionism

Today’s GOP, split between its traditional Wall Street moneyed interests and its hyper-ideological Teabagger contingent, the reincarnation of its former discredited Bircher wing, has reached new levels of political dysfunction. (Its other faction, Christian fundamentalists, has been rather quiescent of late, most likely due to a paucity of pending national social legislation.)

It’s as if GOP icon Ronald Reagan had, after firing the air traffic controllers, replaced them with the inmates of Ken Keseys Cuckoo’s Nest and Christopher Lloyd’s Dream Team.

Politico captures the mood:

Less than two weeks ago, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy walked upstairs to Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Capitol office to discuss a sensitive issue: Why did Cantor schedule a vote before McCarthy had the chance to survey Republican support?

The meeting — described as “tense” by several people familiar with it — ended with McCarthy abruptly standing up and storming out of the room. Aides downplayed the exchange. But a week later, it turned out that McCarthy’s pique was merited: The health care-related bill was suddenly pulled from the floor in what was the most recent stumble for House Republicans.

The GOP leadership is dealing with an unprecedented level of frustration in running the House, according to conversations with more than a dozen aides and lawmakers in and around leadership. Leadership is talking past each other. The conference is split by warring factions. And influential outside groups are fighting them.

The chaos has led to a sense of stalemate for House Republicans, who have been in the majority since 2011.

Of course, if you listen to the Beltway Insiders, it’s all President Obama‘s fault for the resulting political gridlock. His failure to herd these crazy cats into an actual functioning body of legislators is proof positive of his “lack of leadership.” At Wednesday’s news conference, for instance, O was asked by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl whether he had lost his “juice” to get things done. O replied:

“But, Jonathon, you seem to suggest that somehow these folks over there have no responsibilities and that my job is to somehow get them to behave. That’s their job. They’re elected — members of Congress are elected in order to do what’s right for their constituencies and for the American people.”

Not surprisingly, MODO disagrees:

“Actually, it is his job to get them to behave. The job of the former community organizer and self-styled uniter is to somehow get this dunderheaded Congress, which is mind-bendingly awful, to do the stuff he wants them to do. It’s called leadership.”

Excuse me if I think that is just plain stupid. Mitch McConnell promised from the very first day that Obama took office, the GOP’s first priority was to prevent the duly elected President of the United States from implementing any part of his agenda. Four and half years later, that dedication to obstructionism hasn’t changed a wit, as Senator Pat Toomey acknowledged when explaining the defeat of a greatly watered-down bipartisan gun safety bill that would require mandatory background checks on all gun purchasers:

“In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so polarized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.”

Some? Okay, maybe there are some vestigial traces of moderation among “some” members of the GOP.  But the promise of “scoring” by lobbying groups like the NRA and the various Koch Brothers funded organizations means that if individual GOPers even thought about compromising with Obama they’d have their asses primaried in a heartbeat.

The logical end point of this blind ideological obstructionism is that the Rethugs have rendered themselves incapable of taking yes for an answer. Take the Affordable Care Act. (Please.)  Though Obama thought nothing of pissing off his progressive base by refusing to pursue a public option, let alone a simple single payer expansion of Medicare, he instead adopted the Heritage Foundation‘s individual mandate construct that Mitt Romney implemented when he was governor of Massachusetts.  Notwithstanding that Senator Max Baucus, the chief architect of the Act, adopted the individual mandate as the core principle of “Obama Care”; and furthermore, made numerous changes demanded by the Rethugs, not a single one of them voted for the Act. How’s that for bipartianship delusion, Mr. President?

MODO concludes with her best advice on how to transcend GOP obstructionism on the issue of closing GITMO:

“The senior senator from Kentucky has been a leader in Keep-Terrorists-Offshore.  Maybe, if the president really wants to close Gitmo, he should have a drink with Mitch McConnell.  Really.”

Really?  Maybe Obama should order Marine One to deposit him on the track at the Kentucky Derby Saturday afternoon, walk down the steps dressed like a Southern waiter with a towel over one arm and a tray with a frosty mint julep on it, straight over to Mitch’s box seat, bow and say:

“For you, Massah McConnell.  Is there anything more I can do to pleasure ya’all?”

Now that’s the kind of leadership the Village courtiers would really appreciate.

 

Because Freedom: Erich Fromm Edition

Because Freedom — Liz Time Machine Liz Cheney sets the way back machine to 1961 to explain the Grand Obstructionist Party’s response to health care reform 

In his NY Times column Monday, Paul Krugman asks a question whose subtext subsumes its substance:

How many Americans will be denied essential health care in the name of freedom?

In case you haven’t noticed, the response to every critical policy issue proffered by the plutocratic funded Teabagger, Libertarian dominated GOP is a non-answer: no can-do, because, you know, freedom.  An easy, bumper sticker slogan that appeals to the low information voter and propagandists alike.

Rational gun safety laws?  Farmer Fred might have to drive 30 miles to town to record a transfer of his shotgun to his grandson. (Maybe he could combine it with one of his regular town trips, or like, when he has to register the transfer of a vehicle.) Financial regulation?  As the banksters are fond of saying: the invisible hand of capitalism is regulator enough, thank you very much. Pollution controls?  That costs jobs and all the freedom that goes with ’em.  Immigration reform?  Employers should be free to hire whomever they want, at whatever pay the market will bear.  That’s the free market, baby.

Krugman drills down on the healthcare issue:

“I’m referring, of course, to the question of how many Republican governors will reject the Medicaid expansion that is a key part of Obamacare. What does that have to do with freedom? In reality, nothing. But when it comes to politics, it’s a different story.

It goes without saying that Republicans oppose any expansion of programs that help the less fortunate — along with tax cuts for the wealthy, such opposition is pretty much what defines modern conservatism. But they seem to be having more trouble than in the past defending their opposition without simply coming across as big meanies.

Specifically, the time-honored practice of attacking beneficiaries of government programs as undeserving malingerers doesn’t play the way it used to. When Ronald Reagan spoke about welfare queens driving Cadillacs, it resonated with many voters. When Mitt Romney was caught on tape sneering at the 47 percent, not so much.

There is, however, an alternative. From the enthusiastic reception American conservatives gave Friedrich Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom,” to Reagan, to the governors now standing in the way of Medicaid expansion, the U.S. right has sought to portray its position not as a matter of comforting the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted, but as a courageous defense of freedom.”

Yup, the Romney Revelation required a reboot— blaming the victim can only take you so far, especially when the victims are so close at hand.  So, time to step into the Cheney time machine to make old things appear new again.

“Conservatives love, for example, to quote from a stirring speech Reagan gave in 1961, in which he warned of a grim future unless patriots took a stand. (Liz Cheney used it in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article just a few days ago.) “If you and I don’t do this,” Reagan declared, “then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” What you might not guess from the lofty language is that “this” — the heroic act Reagan was calling on his listeners to perform — was a concerted effort to block the enactment of Medicare.”

So, it’s back to the future, where the right wing antediluvians think they can pour old wine into new wine skins.  Their conception of freedom is truncated into the freedom from formulation— freedom from government, which is to say, society as a whole.  The other formulation of freedom, freedom to, was long ago perverted into license— license to do whatever the hell somebody with means wants, ignoring the generations of collective effort that made their self-centered notions of freedom possible.

When but a sophomore in high school, I had the good fortune to encounter the writings of the noted psychologist, Erich Fromm, who made clear to me the nuanced differences between freedom from and freedom to. (As a horny teenager, I picked up his classic The Art of Loving, thinking it was a sex manual of some sort, but got hooked instead on his philosophical approach to life.) As long as we are doing a little time traveling, let’s go back another twenty years, to the publication of Fromm’s Escape From Freedom  in 1941 (during the height of The Third Reich). From the WikiP entry:

Fromm distinguishes between ‘freedom from’ (negative freedom) and ‘freedom to’ (positive freedom). The former refers to emancipation from restrictions such as social conventions placed on individuals by other people or institutions. This is the kind of freedom typified by the Existentialism of Sartre, and has often been fought for historically, but according to Fromm, on its own it can be a destructive force unless accompanied by a creative element, ‘freedom to’ the use of freedom to employ spontaneously the total integrated personality in creative acts. This, he argues, necessarily implies a true connectedness with others that goes beyond the superficial bonds of conventional social intercourse: “…in the spontaneous realization of the self, man unites himself anew with the world…”

A world unobtainable to the selfish and the cruel. What else explains their desire to destroy a society which they reject, from which they have chosen to ex-communicate themselves? Better its destruction than a constant reminder of their own dysfunction.

WikiP concludes its review with this (italic emphasis mine):

Fromm examines democracy and freedom. Modern democracy and the industrialised nation are models he praises but it is stressed that the kind of external freedom provided by this kind of society can never be utilised to the full without an equivalent inner freedom. Fromm suggests that though we are free from obvious authoritarian influence, we are still dominated in our thinking and behaviour by ideas of ‘common sense’, the advice of experts and the influence of advertising. The way to become truly free in an individual sense is to become spontaneous in our self-expression and behaviour and respond truthfully to our genuine feelings. This is crystallised in his existential statement “there is only one meaning of life: the act of living it“. Fromm counters suggestions that this might lead to social chaos by claiming that being truly in touch with our humanity is to be truly in touch with the needs of those with whom we share the world. This is the meaning of a truly social democracy and the realisation of the positive ‘freedom to’ that arises when people escape the malign influence of totalising political orders.

I heard Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) play the “common sense” card yesterday, trying to explain his support for the watered down gun safety agreement he reached with his Democratic counterpart, Joe Manchin (D-W.VA). “Common sense” is the mantra conservatives are using these days to oppose government regulation of any sort.  “The advice of experts” is what fuels the whole deferential beltway pundit mentality.   And the advertising industry is exactly the foundation of the modern day political propaganda machine.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Teh PIC: Philip Dick, O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Wanna bet where the PIC stands on legalizing drugs? On mandatory sentencing, three strike laws, and the like?