Archive for September, 2009

A Study in Contrast

September 4, 2009

So, conservatives went apey over President Obama’s address to the nation’s schoolchildren, earlier this week.  Seems it’s creeping socialism and dictatorship and indoctrination for the President of the United States to encourage kids to stay in school, which is what Obama’s address was about.

You can’t have government telling kids what to study and think.  It’s partisan indoctrination.

On the other hand, there’s this.

The state of Texas, rather known for its staunch conservatism and freedom-loving, and therefore presumably right in the vanguard of indoctrination opposition, has adopted new statewide education standards that are, shall we say, peculiar.

If nothing else, it’s a reminder that history, the story we tell ourselves to define who we are, never stops being contested.

System-Blaming We Can Believe In

September 4, 2009

Matt Yglesias finally gets around to pointing out some senate rules that actually do keep the Dems from getting things done and actually should be changed:

Democrats hand out committee chairmanships by a blind seniority rule. Republicans do not. Chairman need to rotate out of their positions after fixed terms, which then gives the caucus as a whole input over who takes over next. Consequently, the Senate leadership has some meaningful leverage over Republican Senators—even Senators from liberal states. If they’re really determined to make Snowe (and Collins) vote “no,” they have tools at their disposal to make that happen. By contrast, the Democratic leadership heads into tough fights basically disarmed with no real tools of discipline and leverage at their disposal beyond the vague risk of a primary challenge. One day perhaps the Democratic caucus will decide that it wants to be an effective legislative party and it will adopt some principles that equalize the playing field. But until then, it’s going to be extremely difficult to overcome truly determined Republican opposition even with a large majority.

That explains a lot.  A lot.  I’d love to see the Dems change it, but I find myself doubting they ever will.

Honorable Mention

September 4, 2009

Somebody on the teevee in the other room is playing clips from Glenn Beck’s teevee show.  If I’m not mistaken, Mr. Beck is demonstrating, with logic and everything, that John D. Rockefeller was a communist.

John D. Rockefeller.  The original oil man.  America’s first billionaire.  The monopoliest of all monopolists.  The laissez-fairest of them all.  A communist.  A communist.  We’re talkin’ ’bout communists.  Communists.  Communists?  I mean, communists?

Honestly, I couldn’t make this shit up.  The stupid goes all the way down.

Deep Stupid

September 3, 2009

Today’s winner is Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA):

At a meeting of local Republicans last night, Broun said that Obama already has or will have the three key elements necessary to become a dictator: A national police force, gun control and control of the press.

Well, crap, every president since Theodore Roosevelt has had a national police force.  Rep. Broun’s objections to that are pretty late arriving.  What’s more, our previous vice president argued vehemently to our previous president that he could and should use the United States Army for domestic law enforcement.  And not just in theory.  He specifically urged the president to send the Army into Buffalo, NY, to arrest some people that, sensibly, the FBI ended up arresting.

I don’t recall hearing Rep. Broun raise so much as a whimper about that, but now that the president is Barack Obama, suddenly, just having a national police force is a sign of dictatorship.

As for gun control, everybody who’s paying any attention at all knows any new gun control legislation is DOA.  Broun, of course, also knows this, but this isn’t a useful fact when you’re trying to whip up panic and delegitimize a duly elected president.

Which brings us to “control of the press.”  I’ve got no idea what he’s even talking about with that one.  Is it just the old “liberal media bias” complaint re-cast as something more sinister?

Regardless, and aside from being deeply stupid, all this euthanasia/death panel/socialist/dictator/foreigner murder and mayhem stuff we’re hearing from elected GOP officials and from their national party spokesman is deeply irresponsible, civically vicious, and dangerous.

The Strange Career of Alberto Gonzales

September 1, 2009

Breaking with his fellow Bush admin alums — and the entire Republican Party — former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says current Attorney General Eric Holder should investigate whether the CIA went beyond the torture Gonzales said was legal, and should prosecute anyone who did.

Fredo’s had a very strange post-admin career.

Normally, loyal soldiers in the GOP are well taken care of after their service.  They get a nice cushy, lucrative job at some GOP-friendly law firm or lobbying shop or institute or media outlet, and live comfortably the rest of their days.  Besides rewarding them for their loyalty, it helps keep them quiet.

Not so for Gonzales.  The conservative establishment has completely turned its back on him; left him out in the cold.  It’s led to the very embarrassing spectacle of a former Attorney General of the United States being unable to find a job.

This has always puzzled me.  I mean, Gonzales almost certainly knows where a lot of the bodies are buried.  You would think the GOP establishment would make sure they took good care of him.

Now that Gonzales has announced his support for Holder’s investigation, I’m beginning to wonder if he’ll become Bush’s John Dean.  Not completely, of course, since Dean actually did the honorable thing when it mattered: when he and his president were still in office and the shenanigans were still ongoing.  But Dean has also spent his post-Nixon career being a thorn in the flesh of those who have tried to continue Nixon-style politics — including Gonzales.

Anyhoo, now that we’re seeing some daylight between Gonzales and the GOP establishment, now that he’s broken the code of silence, it’ll be interesting to see how his career develops.  Does he become a John Dean?  Does he suddenly find himself in one of those cushy, lucrative jobs at a GOP-friendly firm?  Does he continue to be just sort of flaky?

Keep an eye out.

Update (09/03/2009 2:42 pm):  Heh.  That didn’t take long.  Fredo is recanting — or trying to recant — this statement.  Was he offered a cushy job in exchange for it?  We’ll see.