Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Reading

The Killing of a Child — Dennis G. at Balloon Juice on the shootings in Arizona and what led to them.

Since Obama was elected the Right and the Republican Party have been playing with fire. It has been an endless series of lies designed to gin up paranoia, hate, fear and a call to take action to ‘take back your Country’. It was only a matter of time before somebody got hurt.

For the wingnuts facts no longer matter. Anybody can make up their own facts and talking points to justify any action. I would say that the shooter did this. Perhaps he came up with his own set of imagined facts, grievances and action plan on his own or perhaps he had some help (word is that folks in AZ are looking for others who may have been involved). Maybe this murderer has a poster of Palin taped above his bed and maybe not. Maybe he is an active Tea Partier or maybe not. Maybe he is an active anti-immigrant warrior or maybe not. In the end, I’m not sure it matters.

Whatever we find out it is clear that he has followed the Wingnut game plan and made up a set of facts, crafted some people as the villains of his fantasy and then justified defeating them by any means necessary. In this he is just like Palin or Boehner or Beck or King or any of the fucksticks who incite and organize using fear, ignorance, bigotry and smears. The game plan is to recast your political opponents as monsters who must be destroyed to save the Nation.

With today’s shooting we know—once again—that some of the unhinged will hear that message load and clear. We know once again that these violence ready psychopaths will act when their mind is primed by rhetoric of hate. And we know once again that the TeaBaggers, Wingnuts, grifters and politicians like Palin selling this bile will react with shock that anybody ever took their rhetoric of violence or their lies seriously.

A child was murdered today. She was killed because some think their political gain is justified by any rhetoric, any lie or any action. This myth of wingnutopia that justifies any action in the defense of their fantasized and bastardized notion of liberty is a real threat to America.

I’ve lost all tolerance for those who would excuse and justify this politics of hate. They do not get to wash the blood of today off of their hands. They are splattered with this blood and if we do not take them on there will be more blood in the future as more of these wingnut inspired psychopaths kill again.

This must stop.

More below the fold.

Our New Speaker — Matt Taibbi looks at John Boehner, his background, and what he brings to the House.

John Boehner is the ultimate Beltway hack, a man whose unmatched and self-serving skill at political survival has made him, after two decades in Washington, the hairy blue mold on the American congressional sandwich. The biographer who somewhere down the line tackles the question of Boehner’s legacy will do well to simply throw out any references to party affiliation, because the thing that has made Boehner who he is — the thing that has finally lifted him to the apex of legislative power in America — has almost nothing to do with his being a Republican.

The Democrats have plenty of creatures like Boehner. But in the new Speaker of the House, the Republicans own the perfect archetype — the quintessential example of the kind of glad-handing, double-talking, K Street toady who has dominated the politics of both parties for decades. In sports, we talk about athletes who are the “total package,” and that term comes close to describing Boehner’s talent for perpetuating our corrupt and debt-addled status quo: He’s a five-tool insider who can lie, cheat, steal, play golf, change his mind on command and do anything else his lobbyist buddies and campaign contributors require of him to get the job done.


But beyond all of that, Boehner just represents a certain type of hollowly driven, two-faced personality unique to the Beltway. It’s not so much that he’s likely at any moment to start pounding his fist in favor of something that only yesterday he was denouncing as a threat to the American way of life (when benchmarks in Iraq were a Democratic idea, Boehner said they would ensure failure; when George Bush came out for them, he said they were “very important”). Nor is it so much that he’s prone to descending into hysterical hyperbole when the well-being of his campaign donors is threatened in even the vaguest way (he called the watered-down Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill “killing an ant with a nuclear weapon,” with the ant in question being a financial crisis that wiped out over 40 percent of the world’s wealth). It’s more that . . . well, you have to spend a lot of time in Washington to know the type, but he’s the kind of guy who would step over his mother to score a political point.

This is true almost in a literal sense. One congressional aide tells a story that goes back many years. Boehner’s mother, Mary Ann, had just died. The aide, who at the time worked for a prominent Democratic congressman, suggested that his boss offer Boehner condolences. The Democrat, who had just heard that he was going to face an unexpected challenge from a state senator in his own re-election campaign, went along with the aide’s advice, despite the fact that he didn’t have a good relationship with Boehner.

The story goes like this: The Democrat approached Boehner, and said, “Hey, John, I’m sorry to hear about your mother.”

Boehner, not missing a beat, shot back: “And I’m sorry to hear you have an opponent.”

“That’s John Boehner in a nutshell,” the aide says now. “I mean, this is right after his mother died, and that’s where his head was at.”

Frank Rich — Let Obama be Reagan.

That pitch-perfect showmanship, timing and salesmanship (his father was a salesman) were in Reagan’s résumé and bones. Obama doesn’t have that training, but he was a great communicator when it came to selling his own story in the campaign, heaven knows. He has rarely rekindled that touch in the White House — even during his December run of good fortune. His recent Congressional victories should not obscure the reality that, the tax-cut deal notwithstanding, he still disappeared at key moments when he should have led the charge.

Nowhere was he more AWOL than in the battle over aiding 9/11 emergency workers poisoned by the toxic debris at ground zero. Supporting a bill to reward brave Americans who paid with their health or their lives to serve others was tantamount to voting for the flag — a far more patriotic gesture than, say, reading aloud the Constitution. Yet Republicans in Congress caricatured it as a “slush fund” inviting “abuse, fraud and waste” (Lamar Smith of Texas, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee) and “an expansive new health care entitlement program” (Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma). All 41 Republicans present in the Senate voted to block its passage while giving top priority to protecting tax cuts for the superrich. But rather than lead this easily winnable battle from uncontestable high ground, the White House remained largely silent, releasing only a written statement of support for the bill. The president never spoke publicly about it at all.

Obama didn’t have to demagogue the issue. He didn’t have to pitch a fit, as Anthony Weiner, the New York congressman, did for the benefit of C-Span cameras last summer. But it’s hard to imagine a more clear-cut teaching moment for a president to explain how intransigent right-wing ideology can violate fundamental American values of fairness and sacrifice. Instead, that job fell to others, which is why a novice senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, and a late-night television star, Jon Stewart, could be found taking a victory lap over the bill’s passage on “The Daily Show” last week: they had stepped into the leadership vacuum left by Obama.

With his vastly reduced Capitol Hill cohort, Obama’s next two years are going to be less about pushing bills through Congress and more about pushing the presidency to the max. Win or lose, he’ll have to be more vocal in other fights, starting with immigration reform, where bedrock American principles of fairness are at stake. He’ll also have to finally find a unifying story to unite his economic philosophy, for if he never defines Obamanomics, his opponents will keep labeling it as tax-and-spend socialism instead.

36 Hours in Key West — We all need a little break.

Key West, haven to artists and writers, chefs and hippies, is somehow more Caribbean than Floridian. The indie-minded transplants work hard to keep it that way. One-speed bicycles weave their way through colorful village streets, crammed with as many chickens as cars. Happy hour blends into dinner. And everything is oriented around the ocean, from the fish market-driven menus and the nautical-inspired art, to the sunrise worshipers who gather each dawn and the tipplers who wave goodbye at sunset. Be careful or you might just catch what islanders call “Keys disease” — a sudden desire to cut ties with home and move there.

Doonesbury — The kid did what?