Civil War? What Civil War?

Ron Paul, hero to a lot of middle school-minded Americans, said on Sunday:

If a people cannot secede from an oppressive government, they cannot truly be considered free.

Paul was commenting on “all the recent talk of secession” going on in the reddest hearts in the reddest parts of the country.

Of course there really isn’t any serious talk of secession going on, but Ron Paul, who is mercifully retiring from Congress, doesn’t want to miss a chance to demonstrate just why libertarian Republicanism isn’t a grown-up political philosophy.

Paul asked:

Is it treasonous to want to secede from the United States? 

Why, yes, it is, Ronny Reb. We have been there, done that, remember? Yep, he does remember:

Many think the question of secession was settled by our Civil War.  On the contrary; the principles of self-governance and voluntary association are at the core of our founding.

In the Paulian mind, in the mind of a man with a kid’s view of politics, the Civil War didn’t mean squat. Nothing, apparently, was settled by the often-ugly death of 600,000+ Americans in our War of Northern/Southern Aggression, the name dependent on what side your ancestors were on.  All states are free to dissociate themselves from the Founders’ creation at the drop of a hat, or at the drop of a black man’s hat, he says.

Paul continued:

There is nothing treasonous or unpatriotic about wanting a federal government that is more responsive to the people it represents.

Nope. That’s right. There is nothing treasonous or unpatriotic about “wanting” such a thing, but there is something treasonous and unpatriotic about actually fighting—with real guns, for God’s sake—for such a thing. And if we are not talking about real guns here, then what the bleep are we talking about? Does anyone think President Obama is going to say to the Ron Pauls of Texas: Go ahead, go your own way? Secession talk means nothing if it doesn’t mean fighting for it with guns.

But what is it that has Ron Paul’s rebellious spirit all aglow? What is it that has him writing such nugatory nonsense?

Stupidly, he seems to be, above all, upset about the Affordable Care Act:

It remains to be seen what will happen in states that are refusing to comply with the deeply unpopular mandates of Obamacare by not setting up healthcare exchanges.  It appears the Federal government will not respect those decisions either.

Respect what decisions? If a state is unable or unwilling to comply with the law, the law—apparently a foreign concept to Paulmandates that the federal government set up those exchanges. The federal government will respect any state’s decision not to set up the health insurance exchanges by setting them up itself. As John Kasich, Republican governor of Ohio, said, his state “will not run an ObamaCare health exchange, but will instead leave that to the federal government to do.”

Got that Ronny Reb? If states don’t want to do it, The Scary Negro In The White’s House will take up the slack.

Finally, Ron Paul wrote:

In a free country, governments derive their power from the consent of the governed. When the people have very clearly withdrawn their consent for a law, the discussion should be over. 

The “discussion should be over” if people in a state “have very clearly withdrawn their consent for a law“? Huh? Is that all it takes to dissolve our Union? A state simply has to declare that, say, it will not abide any more meat inspectors and, voilà,  a new Republic of Texas is born?

If Ron Paul had been a big shot politician in the 1960s, when landmark civil rights legislation was passed, he would surely have said that states had the right to secede over whether blacks could piss in white toilets or whether blacks could sit in the front of white buses or whether blacks could vote in white elections.

But, thankfully, this isn’t the 1960s, or, more to the point, the 1860s, and Ron Paul is in a very tiny minority, a minority that looks more childish every day, a minority that will soon be without Ron Paul as its intellectually callow leader.

Why Ron Paul Is An Intellectual Drunk

I know Ron Paul will never sit in the White’s House as president, but just to demonstrate how indefensible is his weird brand of libertarian-conservatism, I direct you to an interview Candy Crowley did with Ron Paul on CNN’s State of the Union.

Here is the pertinent exchange and I have highlighted the parts that need further explanation:

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about a couple of your rivals. Rick Santorum has had quite a ride in the polls. Do you believe from what you see today that Rick Santorum can beat President Obama in November?

PAUL: Well, I don’t see how that’s possible. And this whole idea about that talking about the social issues and who is going to pay for birth control pills, I’m worried about undermining our civil liberties…he wants to, you know, control people’s social lives

CROWLEY: …certainly Rick Santorum is the one who has been in the forefront of some of this talk on social issues…Are you uncomfortable with this talk about social issues? Do you consider it a winning area for Republicans in November?

PAUL: No. I think it’s a losing position. I mean, I talk about it because I have a precise understanding of how difficult problems are to be solved. And they’re not to be at the national level.We’re not supposed to nationalize these problems. The founders were very clear that problems like this, if there needs to be legislation of sorts, the state has the right to write the legislation that they so choose. And that solves a lot of our problems…

Now, let’s get this straight:

Paul, a libertarian Republican, says he is “worried about undermining our civil liberties” because Santorum wants to “control people’s social lives.” And Paul says his “precise understanding” of problem-solving convinces him that they are not supposed to be solved at the “national level,” not supposed to be “nationalized,” that the states have “the right to write the legislation that they so choose.”

Okay, now that we understand what Paul is saying, we can look at how phony it all is. This man signed a “Personhood Pledge,” which commits him to,

supporting “the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death,” and with the Republican Party platform in affirming that I “support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children.”

The pledge also commits him to defending the following:

I believe that in order to properly protect the right to life of the vulnerable among us, every human being at every stage of development must be recognized as a person possessing the right to life in federal and state laws without exception and without compromise…

I oppose assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and procedures that intentionally destroy developing human beings.

I pledge to the American people that I will defend all innocent human life. Abortion and the intentional killing of an innocent human being are always wrong and should be prohibited.

Now, remember that this is the same man, Ron Paul the libertarian Republican, who is “worried about undermining our civil liberties,” and criticized Santorum for wanting to “control people’s social lives.” Yet there he is proclaiming that he will:

oppose a woman’s reproductive rights,

oppose an individual’s right to make an end-of-life decision,

oppose scientific research involving certain kinds of stem cells,

and essentially oppose in vitro fertilization, which sometimes involves destroying unused embryos. (The Catholic Church, by the way, officially opposes all forms of in vitro fertilization.)

It is true that Paul wrote an “addendum” to the Personhood Pledge, which he thought, I suppose, cleared up the matter for his fellow libertarians, who might be alarmed that he is pledging to do the same thing Rick Santorum wants to do (Santorum, as well as Gingrich, also signed the pledge).

But to show you how convoluted—and superficial—is his thinking, I will quote the relevant part in full:

A Human Life Amendment should do two things.  First, it should define life as beginning at conception and give the unborn the same protection all other human life enjoys.  Second, it must deal with the enforcement of the ruling much as any law against violence does – through state laws.

To summarize my views – I believe the federal government has a role to play.  I believe Roe v. Wade should be repealed.  I believe federal law should declare that life begins at conception. And I believe states should regulate the enforcement of this law, as they do other laws against violence.

I don’t see the value in setting up a federal police force on this issue any more than I do on other issues. The Fourteenth Amendment was never intended to cancel out the Tenth Amendment. This means that I can’t agree that the Fourteenth Amendment has a role to play here, or otherwise we would end up with a “Federal Department of Abortion.”  Does anyone believe that will help life?  We should allow our republican system of government to function as our Founders designed it to: protect rights at the federal level, enforce laws against violence at the state level.

Here we have Paul affirming his support for both a Human Life Amendment that gives “the unborn the same protection all other human life enjoys,” as well as a “federal law” declaring “life begins at conception.”

He also declares that although these two methods would impute personhood to a seconds-old product of conception, the enforcement of “any law against violence” should be left to the states and not the federal government. This is his way of preserving the Tenth Amendment, he believes.

But the problem here is obvious: What if, say, New York state decides not to enforce the federal law declaring life begins at conception? What if the citizens of that state wanted to keep abortion legal, as most certainly would happen?  Would a Justice Department run by a Paul Administration simply ignore such flouting of the law? Would a man who pledged that,

every human being at every stage of development must be recognized as a person possessing the right to life in federal and state laws without exception and without compromise…

not seek to at least enforce the “civil rights” of those human beings who were victims of violence in New York state? And let’s not mince words: “violence” would be murder under any interpretation of the law. Murder.

And if Paul were to successfully remove “abortion from the jurisdiction of the federal courts,” as he said he would do in his addendum, then what would be the meaning of any Human Life Amendment to the Constitution or any federal statute, if either could not be interpreted by federal courts and enforced by the federal government?

The truth is that Paul’s libertarian philosophy, mixed with his desire to annihilate reproductive rights, renders him intellectually drunk. He says, using capital letters:

We CAN both fight for life AND liberty.  We can remain true to our principle of following the Constitution while also fighting for our moral values.

No, you can’t, Mr. Paul. Sober up.

Beyond A Doubt?

I want to connect two issues, recently in the news, that may not seem related. 

In a piece in Tuesday’s USA Today, “When will USA get over breastfeeding hang-ups?,” Katherine Chretien hopes that one day, “breastfeeding in public will be seen as nothing out of the ordinary”: 

Let’s face it, we live in a society that has sexualized breasts so much that any display (even in its primary, all-business function) is seen as indecent, allowing the hardy vestiges of American Puritanism to place shame-hexes on nursing moms.

Now, I have never understood the hang-up about breastfeeding, in public or private, but I do understand “the hardy vestiges of American Puritanism,” the unrelenting bigotry of which is able to survive in our otherwise permissive culture.

There is another form of puritanical bigotry increasing in this country, almost unnoticed by the mainstream press, that also has to do with women: the harsh, inflexible anti-choice movement. Here is a story from CNN that illustrates the point:

(CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry revealed a hardening in his stance on abortion Tuesday, telling a crowd in Iowa that he opposed abortions in all cases, including when a woman had been raped or the victim of incest.

Previously, Perry had not opposed the procedure in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life was threatened.

Perry claims that his just-in-time-for-the-Iowa-caucuses “transformation” happened after watching a propaganda film produced by Southern Baptist preacher and Fox “News” host Mike Huckabee, who was the former governor of Arkansas and a former presidential candidate who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008.

From the CNN story:

“…I really started giving some thought about the issue of rape and incest. And some powerful, some powerful stories in that DVD.”

Perry said a woman who appeared in the movie who said she was a product of rape moved him to change his mind about abortion.

“She said, ‘My life has worth.’ It was a powerful moment for me,” Perry said.

I find it interesting that men like Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee and many leaders in the anti-choice movement, a movement that has been very effective in limiting the choices women can make, will never be victims of rape or incest, but feel comfortable forcing women to have children under such circumstances. More than interesting, I find it appalling.

But Rick Perry—who earlier this year signed a bill in Texas forcing women seeking abortions to undergo sonograms and forcing doctors to tell those women the size of their fetuses’ body parts—isn’t the only GOP candidate/extremist against abortion rights. Oddly, the man most people identify as a libertarian, Ron Paul, is staunchly anti-choice. He said in 2005:

I believe beyond a doubt that a fetus is a human life deserving of legal protection, and that the right to life is the foundation of any moral society.

“Beyond a doubt?” That man is expected to finish first or second in Iowa next week. He also said that,

Abortion on demand is the ultimate State tyranny; the State simply declares that certain classes of human beings are not persons, and therefore not entitled to the protection of the law…the new regime has enlisted the assistance of millions of people to act as its agents in carrying out a program of mass murder.

Again, that is a so-called libertarian running for the GOP nomination speaking.

Mitt Romney, whom the mainstream media treat as a “moderate” and whose evolving-devolving position on abortion is legendary, has essentially confessed—to none other than Mike Huckabee himself—that he is an extremist on the “life begins at conception” issue. The two former governors were discussing Romney’s now-controversial health care plan in Massachusetts, which Romney claimed the courts determined must provide the right to an abortion:

Mike Huckabee: “Was there any way that you could have blocked [Romney's health care plan paying for abortion] administratively or through forcing the legislature to have created enabling legislation before it went into effect?”

Romney: “This was something which existed exactly even before our bill was passed. They said people who are receiving care in that was in any way subsidized by government had the right to get abortions as part of that care. And they said that was constitutionally required. So the only way to we could have changed that would be to carry out a constitutional amendment to block the Supreme Court’s decision.”

Mike Huckabee: “Would you have supported the constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception?”

Mitt Romney: “Absolutely.”

It is true that the Romney campaign disputes the claim that he is in favor of so-called “personhood amendments,” which would grant political rights to minutes-old fertilized eggs, but even in the context of Massachusetts politics, how can a man say he would be in favor of a constitutional amendment that would establish “life at conception,” if that didn’t also mean granting that “life” political rights, most notably the right to be born? If it doesn’t mean that, then just what does it mean?

And remember, Romney made his statement about the constitutional amendment establishing life at conception in the context of restricting “the right to get abortions.” Clearly, he is willing to support measures that would prohibit women from controlling their reproductive decisions.

When Romney vetoed a bill in Massachusetts in 2005 that would have expanded access to emergency contraception, known as the “morning after” pill, he explained his veto by saying this:

The bill does not involve only the prevention of conception: The drug it authorizes would also terminate life after conception…I have spoken with medical professionals to determine whether the drug contemplated under the bill would simply prevent conception or whether it would also terminate a living embryo after conception. Once it became clear that the latter was the case, my decision was straightforward.

Romney tried to hide his extremist position by saying that his decision was based on the “promise” he made to “the citizens of Massachusetts” that he would “not change our abortion laws either to restrict abortion or to facilitate it.” Similarly, he tries to hide his extremism by claiming that such things should be left in state hands. His spokeswoman, Gail Gitcho said,

Mitt Romney is pro-life, and as he has said previously, he is supportive of efforts to ensure recognition that life begins at conception. He believes these matters should be left up to states to decide.

That, in perfect Romney style, is trying to have it both ways. He wants to send the message to the anti-choice community that he is committed to their extremist views, while sending the message to the rest of America that he will not change, as a federal official, the status quo. He wants to send Rick Perry’s and Ron Paul’s message without actually sounding like Rick Perry and Ron Paul.

But who can believe a man who has been a true-believing bishop in the ultra-conservative Mormon church and who once was thrown out of the house of a man who lived in a Boston suburb for insisting that the man not allow his daughter to have an abortion. According to a  report, the man was “appalled at the arrogance of Romney.

Bigotry is a form of arrogance, of course. And whether it is the comparatively trivial impulse to stop women from breastfeeding in public or whether it is the profoundly important matter of trying to restrict a woman’s right to choose to become a mother, the bigotry that goes with the  “hardy vestiges of American Puritanism” is evident, particularly in the politics surrounding abortion in the Republican Party.

Even if the mainstream media largely ignore it.

The Republican Health Care Plan In Three Words

Monday night’s Republican debate on CNN featured another one of those moments—last week it was the audience cheering the execution of 234 people in Texas—that tends to surprise people who haven’t been paying attention to the devolution of the Republican Party. 

Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul about the welfare of a guy who gets sick, goes into a coma, but lacks health insurance: “Are you saying society should just let him die?” Blitzer asked.

Paul’s answer, which essentially was that such an unfortunate fellow should rely on volunteers and churches for his care, was drowned out by shouts of “Let him die!” from the Republican debate-watching crowd.

Let—Him—Die.

I’m reminded of former congressman Alan Grayson’s presentation on the House floor in 2009:

If you get sick in America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly.

Here’s a short discussion between Republican Joe Scarborough and Pulitzer-winning columnist and Democrat-leaning Eugene Washington from Morning Joe this morning:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: …the crowd last night at one point cheering the possibility of the death of a young man in a coma—I guess in 2008 we had “drill, baby, drill”; last night it seemed to be “die, baby, die.”

I think CNN may have magnified a political segment of this society beyond the representation of the general population.

EUGENE WASHINGTON:  That’s probably true.  There was an air of unreality to the debate last night. It was as if we were in some sort of parallel universe…

The truth is that what was on display last night at that Republican debate reflects the reality of Republican politics these days.  Those shouts of “Let him die!” were not made by some extremists who snuck into the debate against the wishes of the candidates or the planners or CNN.  Those folks are mainstream Republicans these days.  And their disturbing shouts—which no candidate on the platform bothered to contradict—represent how far right the GOP has moved philosophically, and they came as no shock to those of us who have been following that movement.

Whether it is shouting out heartless things about uninsured, comatose people, cheering executions, raucously applauding the labeling of Ben Bernanke as treasonous, loudly supporting Michelle Bachmann for her stand against raising the debt ceiling—all things that have happened in just the last two GOP presidential primary debates—we cannot take any comfort from pretending that the people who did these things are somehow on the fringe of the Republican Party.

They are, sadly and regrettably, its heart and soul.

Cheer Up, Dems

Some nervous Democratic partisans are a little anxious by Gallup’s latest polling regarding President Obama’s chances against four “leading” GOP candidates.

First, here’s the bad news for those who tend to take these kinds of polls seriously this far out:

Now, does anyone believe that Mr. Obama would only beat Michele Bachmann by 4 points? That he and Medicare-is-an-unconstitutional-Ponzi-scheme-failure Rick Perry would split the vote?

How about Mr. Obama only beating Ron Paul (!) by 2 points? Or, God help us, Obama losing to my-3000-square-foot-beach-house-is-too-small-so-I’m-gonna-bulldoze-it-and-build-a-11000-square-foot-mansion Mitt Romney?

Come on peeps, cheer up.

Here’s the good-news skinny, thankfully, on just how inaccurate these types of long-distance Gallup polls can be, thanks to Steven Shepard of the National Journal:

♦ In August 1999, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush led Vice President Al Gore by 14 points. Gore ended up narrowly winning the popular vote.

 ♦ In August 1995, then-Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., had a two-point lead over President Bill Clinton. Dole lost by eight.

 ♦ In August 1983, Ronald Reagan had a slender, one-point lead over former Vice President Walter Mondale. Reagan would be re-elected by 18 points the following November, after economic growth spiked in the second half of Reagan’s first term.

♦ In August 1979, President Jimmy Carter and Reagan were tied at 45 percent. Reagan won by 10 points in 1980.

Look, no one is saying the road to reelection for Mr. Obama is an easy one.  But if Big O takes E. J. Dionne’s recent advice—”Go big, go long, and go global“—he’s got a very good chance of keeping his government housing, despite the angst among pale-faced teapartiers who want to throw him out of the White’s House.

Dionne says:

♦ Keep the current proposals to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, as well as patent reform.

Add to them:

♦ Aid to state and local governments, which are cutting budgets and killing jobs.

♦ Boost spending “on roads, bridges, transit and other building projects,” including rehabilitating “the nation’s dilapidated schools.”

♦ And a biggie: “Do far more to resolve the mortgage mess.”  Amen.

Dionne claims that “big investors and business leaders“—the “heart of capitalism“—are panicking and asking for “the world’s governments to step up to the challenge of avoiding a second recession by spending more money.”  Apparently, drunken overnight flirting with the Tea Party has succumbed to the sobering morning of economic reality, at least for now.

As far as the long-term deficit problem we have, Mr. Dionne has that covered too:

♦ “Obama should not be shy about urging eventual tax increases, particularly on the wealthy. And let’s be clear: these would not be immediate tax hikes; they’d kick in a year or two from now.”

♦ “A carbon tax, partly offset by tax cuts or rebates for middle-income and poorer taxpayers, could provide additional revenue.”

♦ “And we need to do still more to contain health care costs without hurting those who can’t afford insurance, and without voucherizing Medicare.”

Other Democrats, including former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, have even more ideas to help, including Medicare-for-all.

All of this stuff is easier said than done, obviously, but Big O has to think outside the Boehner box and start to channel Mitt Romney: A $12 million 3000-square-foot beach house in La Jolla is simply not good enough, what with all the children and grandchildren to consider.

Think big, Mr. President, think big.

Break ground on an economic-recovery plan that Mitt Romney’s kids and grandkids would be proud of.  Go for that 11,000-square-foot economic-policy.

Remarks And Asides, Part II

Tom Coburn, our U.S. Senator neighbor, called his congressional colleagues “cowards,” and said:

It’s just a good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor.

You see?  The conservative solution to nearly every problem in America is to cut spending and kill people.  While it’s not clear what the extremist Mr. Coburn would do with the gun on the Senate floor,  if he’s pining for suggestions on where to start, I have a couple.

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Speaking of Tom Coburn, who is supposed to be a great friend of President Obama, the Tulsa World reported that while in Pryor the extremist said this about his friend:

Responding to a man in Langley who asked if Obama “wants to destroy America,” Coburn said the president is “very bright” and loves his country but has a political philosophy that is “goofy and wrong.”

Obama’s “intent is not to destroy, his intent is to create dependency because it worked so well for him,” he said.

“As an African-American male,” Coburn said, Obama received “tremendous advantage from a lot of these programs.”

Man, with friends like that, who needs the Tea Party and the Taliban?

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Speaking of African-American males and taking the easy road of dependency, as amnesia-laden conservatives grumble over The Lazy Negro’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, we learn from CBS News that President Obama, compared to Republican presidents, actually needs to take more time off:

George W. Bush, after 31 months in office:  180 days of vacation

Ronald Reagan, after 31 months in office: 112 days of vacation

Barack Obama, after 31 months in office: 61 days of vacation

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In today’s Jesus Is Weeping section, Huff Po informs us that Rick Perry, who in his book “Fed Up!” attacked Washington types who get their jollies from spending other people’s money, actually hired Washington types to get other Washington types to spend other people’s money in Texas.

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Speaking of hypocrisy, a Texas Republican and Ron Paul supporter has taken out the following ad in a weekly newspaper, the Austin Chronicle:

Now, the man who took out the ad, Robert Morrow, is clearly nuts. Among other things, he believes that Bush The Older was involved in killing JFK and tried to kill Ross Perot; he also believes that Barack Obama is CIA and gay. 

Apparently, though, he doesn’t think Obama hates America, which is progress for Tea Party types.

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Speaking of Ron Paul and Rick Perry, when Ron Paul thinks you’re an extremist, maybe it’s time to go back to Houston and do some more prayin’. 

This time, Rick, ask for a little modesty.

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Speaking of extremists, not only has Congress’ disapproval rating soared to new heights (82%), the Tea Party is finally getting only part of its due. The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows that :

The public’s opinion of the Tea Party movement has soured in the wake of the debt-ceiling debate. The Tea Party is now viewed unfavorably by 40 percent of the public and favorably by just 20 percent…

I won’t rest easy until 99.9% of Americans view the Tea Party unfavorably.  I have little hope, however, that Anson Burlingame will ever see the light.

Turn To Page 1 In Your Hymnbook

Gene Lyons, whose column appeared in today’s Joplin Globe, as usual, gets it right:  

Increasingly, one of our two great political parties appears to be governed by what Charles P. Pierce calls the “Three Great Premises” of talk radio: “First Great Premise: Any theory is valid if it moves units … Second Great Premise: Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough … Third Great Premise: Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is measured by how fervently they believe it.”

No doubt, if we could measure the fervency of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul’s beliefs, we would have one whopper of a Truth.  A couple of days ago, I heard Paul say the following on Dylan Ratigan’s show:

I think the debate is going my way…When the financial bubble burst—and the housing bubble burst—all of a sudden Austrian, free-market economics gained a lot of credibility…

Yep. In the mind of Ron Paul, all we need to solve our troubles is more of the same stuff that caused our troubles: free-market economics.  And, of course, he is not the only one singing from the Gospel According to Ayn Rand hymnal.  Nearly every Republican leader, and potential presidential candidate, is singing from that hymnbook, which really only has one song: An Anthem to Greed.

Fortunately, though, in a moment of repentance, the contemporary high priest of Randian economics, Alan Greenspan, put down his free-market hymnal in October of 2008.  Contrary to Ron Paul and the Republican Party, he said the following to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:

REP. HENRY WAXMAN: The question I have for you is, you had an ideology, you had a belief that free, competitive — and this is your statement — “I do have an ideology. My judgment is that free, competitive markets are by far the unrivaled way to organize economies. We’ve tried regulation. None meaningfully worked.” That was your quote.

You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others. And now our whole economy is paying its price.

Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?

ALAN GREENSPAN: Well, remember that what an ideology is, is a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality. Everyone has one. You have to — to exist, you need an ideology. The question is whether it is accurate or not.

And what I’m saying to you is, yes, I found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is, but I’ve been very distressed by that fact.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN: You found a flaw in the reality…

ALAN GREENSPAN: Flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN: In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working?

ALAN GREENSPAN: That is — precisely. No, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.

The Gadsden Guerillas Want To Evict The Uppity Negro From The White’s House

As a difficult-to-perform public service to my readers, and while the world was focused on the confusion in Egypt, I listened to Michele Bachmann and others speak today at the gathering of Gadsden Gorillas Guerrillas, also known as CPAC.

At least one of the things Bachmann said demonstrates her intermittent connection with reality:

Obamacare is quite clearly the crown jewel of socialism.

Now, you might not like the Affordable Care Act; you might think it won’t do much to keep health care costs down; you might even think it will destroy the country.  But only a colossal fool like Michele Bachmann would say “Obamacare is quite clearly the crown jewel of socialism.”  Would to God it were, but given how it props up the private, employer-based health insurance system, it would be more accurate to call it the “crown jewel of capitalism.”

Bachmann, who suffers from the delusion that she could possibly be President of the United States, has used this nonsensical metaphor before, both during the so-called debate in the House on repealing the health reform law and last week at a Republican dinner in Montana, where she put it in this incomprehensibly dramatic way:

I take my first political breath every morning with one thought in mind – repeal Obamacare. That’s my motivation in life. … This bill is something else. It is the crown jewel of socialism. President Obama, and I’m willing to say it, ushered in socialism under his watch.

There are four possibilities that account for such agonizingly incorrigible ignorance:

1) She doesn’t understand “Obamacare.”

2) She doesn’t understand what the term “crown jewel” means.

3) She doesn’t understand what the term “socialism” means.

4) All of the above.

Oh, there is a fifth:

She’s nuts.

In any case, Bachman, who seems to have a strange fascination with despotic headgear, also talked today about the “Triple Crown of 2012,” which, in case you don’t know, involves Republicans maintaining control of the House, a conservative takeover of the Senate, and, of course, the crown jewel of the Triple Crown: throwing the Uppity Negro out of the white’s house

That seemed to be the theme of the day, perhaps of the conference, since Bachmann said, “all our chips are in on 2012…this is it!” and a plump Newt Gingrich, who never misses a chance to diminish the value of his college degree, naturally changed the metaphor from crowns and poker to food:

2010 was the appetizer; 2012 is the entrée.

If Gingrich becomes president he will eat us all.  And he could do it.

Rick Santorum, who has been crowned the “relentless ethicist” by George F. Will, made an appearance today and regaled the crowd with more relentless moralizing and exploitation of our social differences.  Besides expressing his support for a military dictator in Egypt, Santorum used yet another bleeping political metaphor, this time the old three-legged stool of fiscal policy, national defense, and, his speciality, social issues:

When you start throwing away the third leg of a three-legged stool, it is not going to be stable very long.

I happen to subscribe to the four-legged school of political metaphors, which, I think, is much sturdier. The fourth leg is sanity.

Speaking of the missing fourth leg, Donald Trump, whose Michele Bachmann-sized ego has convinced him he has a chance to be president, made a surprising appearance today.  Who knew there was a Gadsden flag flying over Trump Tower? 

Anyway, besides truthfully trashing Ron Paul (“Ron Paul cannot get elected. I’m sorry folks.”) and essentially trashing the country (the “United States is the laughingstock of the world.”), Trump trumpeted his greatness and told the hopped-up Gadsden guerillas that he was a pro-lifin’ gun lovin’ tax hatin’ Republican, and that, if he ran and won, “this country has a chance of being respected again.”

What he didn’t tell his frothy admirers is that he is a billionaire whose financial savvy is so spectacular that he used bankruptcy as a way of forcing investors in his business competence to take hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.  I can’t wait for President Trump to restore respectability to our declining land. We would be so fortunate if he allows us the honor of voting for him. What a guy! 

And what a day!  I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s festivities.

Ron Paul And A Quick Lesson About The Tea Party

Lawrence O’Donnell is a unique interviewer, although you would need to see him do it a few times before you would know what I mean. 

Last night on The Last Word, during an interview with Libertarian-Republican-Tea Partier Ron Paul, he had a strange exchange with him regarding Medicare, and by strange I mean strange in the way Paul danced around the question, “You would abolish Medicare, wouldn’t you?” 

Paul just couldn’t bring himself to say the words, but it is clear what he wants to do.  As outspoken as Paul has been in his career, why couldn’t he bring himself to say the words, “I want to abolish Medicare“?  Of course, we all know why.

And O’Donnell ask him about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Paul’s comment that,

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not improve race relations or enhance freedom.

Even better than the job Rachel Maddow did on Rand Paul, O’Donnell hammered him on this point, as Ron Paul attempted, à la Glenn Beck, to turn Martin Luther King into a Libertarian.  It was Ron Paul’s worst performance on television, and it demonstrated that when challenged, libertarians—at least those who want to stay in office—have a problem explaining themselves.

At one point, O’Donnell says to him:

Congressman, let’s not try to pretend libertarianism is what changed segregation in this country.  It was activist liberal government that changed segregation in this country, otherwise it would still be with us.  It took activist liberal Washington government in the Civil Rights Act to end that segregation that you properly decry.

Paul called O’Donnell “discourteous” at the end, as if politicians shouldn’t be held accountable for their views, particularly the extremist views of Libertarians.

Watch a few minutes of the interview, which I have clipped beginning with the Medicare discussion:

Whites Unite! And Take Our Country Back!

Today’s Joplin Globe ran a story on a “former leader of a group called the White Patriot Party.”  The man, Frazier Glenn Miller, is running for Kit Bond’s U.S. Senate seat, and thus Mr. Miller naturally has to advertise his campaign on radio and television:

His ads have been aired in Spring­field, Kansas City and, beginning this week, on radio stations out of Mon­ett.

According to the story, the ads have a familiar theme, a theme that most Tea Party enthusiasts would instantly recognize:

While the ads focus on Jews, according to an Associated Press analysis, they also criticize immi­grants and minorities. The ads also goad white voters to “unite” and “take our country back.”

Goading white voters to “take our country back“?

Where have I heard that before?

Here is a screen shot from Podblanc, a white supremacist video sharing website, that features a Glenn Beck page:
       
    
       
 
Here is a short slideshow of “take our country back” examples culled from the web:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Killing Social Security and Medicare, One Speech At A Time

I watched Glenn Beck’s speech at CPAC this past weekend.  I am the first to admit that he is quite good at what he does. The man has talent.  Forever forecasting inevitable tribulation, he is like a gifted evangelist who writes books and sermonizes, warning us of the doom to come.  And like most gifted evangelists, he profits from his prophesying, making God-like money as he points the way through the apocalypse.

His latest speech—a continuation of a theme he has been hawking for a while now—contained his diagnosis of our sickly condition:  “progressivism is the disease in America.”

He preached:

Progressivism is the cancer in America and it is eating our Constitution. And it was designed to eat the Constitution. To progress past the Constitution.

Comparing progressives to Communists, he explained there is a small difference between the two: Communists of old desired revolution; progressives, being more patient, were and continue to be willing to wait for things to evolve.  But the goals are the same: trash the Constitution and turn America into a “big government,” “socialist utopia.”

Okay.  So far, there’s nothing unusual about that pew-stirring rhetoric, sold to acne-tortured, college-age Republicans at CPAC and the more mature, meat-loving mobs that buy Beck’s books and watch his hysterical television show.

But I have begun to notice something happening on the right.  The straw poll at CPAC went this year to Ron Paul, not exactly a friend to some of Beck’s crazy ideas, but certainly a supporter of the anti-government philosophy that serves as a foundation for conservative thought.  Paul, to orgasmic applause, said:

Government is the enemy of liberty!

The fire was barely out at the IRS building in Texas—where Joseph Stack took seriously words like Paul uttered—and speakers at CPAC were using words like “enemy” to describe the government and violent metaphors to describe what Americans should do about its growth. 

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is moving to the right at brakeless Toyota speed, said Americans should “take a 9 iron and smash the windows out of big government in this country!

Of course, such talk is hyperbole.  I get that.  But what is happening among a growing group on the right is that people are starting to take seriously the idea of dismantling big government programs like Social Security and Medicare. 

Beck said:

It is big government – it’s a socialist utopia. And we need to address it as if it is a cancer. It must be cut out of the system because they cannot co-exist. And you don’t cure cancer by – well, I’m just going to give you a little bit of cancer. You must eradicate it. It cannot co-exist. And we need big thinkers, and brave people with spines who can make the case – that can actually say to Americans: look it’s going to be hard – it’s going to be hard but it’s going to be okay. We’re going to make it.

Now, what could he be talking about?  The subsidy for public television? The Department of Commerce?  No. Big government, especially since most conservatives exclude the Defense Department from budget cuts, has to mean Social Security and Medicare.

He continues:

We believe in the right of the individual. We believe in the right, you can speak out, you can disagree with me, you can make your own path. But I’m not going to pay for your mistakes, and I don’t expect you to pay for my mistakes. We’re all going to make them, but we all have the right to move down that road. What we don’t have a right to is: health care, housing, or handouts. We don’t have those rights.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, another CPAC speaker and trusted ally of Glenn Beck, has advocated “weaning” as a means of reducing the size of government.  A few weeks ago in St. Louis she said:

We’re $14 trillion in debt, but that doesn’t include the unfunded massive liabilities. That’s $107 trillion, and that’s for Social Security and Medicare and all the rest. You add up all those unfunded net liabilities, and all the traps that could go wrong we’re on the hook for, and what it means is what we have to do is a reorganization of all of that, Social Security and all… So, what you have to do, is keep faith with the people that are already in the system, that don’t have any other options, we have to keep faith with them. But basically what we have to do is wean everybody else off. And wean everybody off because we have to take those unfunded net liabilities off our bank sheet, we can’t do it. So we just have to be straight with people.

So, she is saying do away with Social Security and Medicare, after those in the present system are finished.  At least she is being more honest than usual.  And such honesty is being forced upon Republicans, as they are no longer getting away with screaming for deficit reduction and tax cuts without specifying spending reductions.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s budget guru in the House, has offered a privatization plan for Social Security and Medicare and has at least nine co-sponsors.

One of those co-sponsors, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, appeared on Chris Matthews recently:

 

It appears that Republicans are becoming so emboldened by the Tea Party movement that some of them are now willing to talk openly about ripping out or seriously reducing the effectiveness of the social safety net that serves so many Americans. 

And if Democrats let them get away with it, then one day Republicans will have their way.

Have Gun, Will Drink

NoFirearmsNow that the Supreme Court has decided to review the Chicago gun-ban case, there’s little question that the Court will soon make all of America’s cities safe for gun-toting tea partiers. After all, conservatives had to get something out of eight years of Bushism, and a fairly solid voting block of fellow believers on the highest court in the land isn’t bad.

Speaking of guns, Arizona, where one can carry a gun to a political gathering, now permits its gun-toters to carry their pieces into a bar or restaurant, unless the owner posts a menacing sign prohibiting them.

The National Rifle Association, whose power to influence American government is second only to those imaginary conspirators who are driving Glenn Beck crazy, claims that 41 states have such laws, and J.P. Nelson, director of the NRA’s western region, believes people have an inherent right to carry their guns just about anywhere they please.

An AP story relates the wisdom of Mr. Nelson:

“Bad things happen in bars and restaurants,” Nelson said. “People want to carry a gun and if the facility owner doesn’t have a problem with it, there shouldn’t be a problem. If a person starts drinking and gets in a shootout and kills someone, of course they’re subject to criminal prosecution.”

There you have it. Typical but laughable libertarian logic. Except it isn’t really all that funny.

Nelson is right, of course. A killer would be subject to criminal prosecution, if he or she decided to back up tough beer talk with bullets. But doesn’t that miss the point, Mr. Nelson? You know, it goes something like this: The other guy is still dead!

It reminds me of another libertarian argument in which it is claimed there is no need for government meat inspectors because any company that would sell meat that kills people would soon go out of business. Which, of course, is unassailable free-market logic.

But again, there is that nasty little detail about those unfortunate and dead burger-lovers, who would have sacrificed their lives in order for meat processors and distributors to yell, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank Ron Paul Almighty, we’re free at last!”

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