Politics postsSunday October 13, 2013
More Unseemly Sideshows
From Margaret Talbot's Talk of the Town piece, “Washington Dramas,” in The New Yorker:
There was a rather unseemly sideshow at the memorial to the Second World War, where Republican representatives turned up to personally inform elderly visiting veterans that it was President Obama’s fault that the memorial was closed. The chair of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, later offered to use R.N.C. funds to open the memorial, claiming that the Administration was keeping “the Greatest Generation away from a monument built in their honor.” You could deny eight hundred thousand federal employees their paychecks, you could cripple entire agencies, but close the war memorial? The National Park Service declined the offer, because, as a spokesperson explained, “we are a national system.” The park service could hardly pick favorites—opening the memorial for the Second World War but not for the Vietnam War, opening Yellowstone but not Yosemite—and it shouldn’t be asked to.
What the Republican intransigents were willing to deprive of funds, besides the Capitol police, included the following: The Centers for Disease Control, which said that it would have to stop its seasonal flu-prevention program and would “have significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations.” The Environmental Protection Agency, which would close down almost entirely, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which would stop most of its inspections. The WIC program, which provides healthy food supplements for millions of pregnant women, new mothers, and babies, and could run on temporary federal funds only through the end of the month. The Food and Drug Administration, which said it “will be unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities,” and would have to halt “the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making.” The National Institutes of Health, which announced that it would not be enrolling any new patients in ongoing studies or clinical trials.
The fringe elements of the GOP have created even more unseemly sideshows at our national monuments. Today, huge crowds turned out at the World War II memorial, whose closing is still blamed on Pres. Obama rather than (rightly) on the GOP, and several took the baricades there and moved them to the White House as a kind of symbolic gesture. They waved a Confederate flag outside the White House. Other flags were unfurled, including a “Right to Heaven” flag, which an Andrew Sullivan reader reminds us is an invocation to righteous rebellion and revolution.
These are people who don't recognize that they are what they accuse others of being. They are antidemocratic, anti-American fascists.
Dr. Frankenstein, Meet Monster
From today's New York Times:
WASHINGTON — House Republicans, facing the ninth day of a government shutdown, appeared increasingly isolated on Wednesday from even their strongest backers, with business groups demanding the immediate reopening of the government and benefactors such as Koch Industries publicly distancing themselves from the shutdown fight. ...
On Wednesday, the National Retail Federation joined other business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers in asking House Republicans to relent.
From the same article, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), apparently an architect of the government shutdown, tries to score the usual, sad political points and gets his ass handed to him:
At a House hearing on death benefits, Representative Tim Huelskamp, Republican of Kansas, asked Eric K. Shinseki, the secretary of veterans affairs, “Do you think Harry Reid doesn’t like the V.A. or our veterans?”
Mr. Shinseki, looking baffled, replied: “I think he highly values veterans. As to why Congress is unable to do its business, I will leave to the members to discuss.”
Representative Tim Walz, Democrat of Minnesota, called the question “beneath the dignity” of the veterans affairs committee and offered Mr. Huelskamp 30 seconds to apologize. He declined.
When is the GOP Going to Take Back the GOP?
In New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait runs down the list of demands from the GOP in order to prevent a government shutdown—including Paul Ryan tax reform, offshore oil drilling, keystone pipeline, tort reform, blah blah blah, and a yearlong moratorium on Obamacare—and points out its similarity to the Mitt Romney platform that U.S. voters rejected last November. Then he writes this:
The fact that a major party could even propose anything like this is a display of astonishing contempt for democratic norms. Republicans ran on this plan and lost by 5 million votes. They also lost the Senate and received a million fewer votes in the House but held control owing to favorable district lines. Is there an example in American history of a losing party issuing threats to force the majority party to implement its rejected agenda?
One of Andrew Sullivan's readers then provides an answer:
There is an obvious example: the election and subsequent secession crisis of 1860. The southern Democrats were quite clear with their threats to secede from the Union should Lincoln be elected.
Another reader details the hypocrisy of the demagogic right:
More to the point, there didn’t appear to be all too much Republican anti-government resentment during the George W. Bush Bush presidency, as the GOP pushed for Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, the executive’s asserted power to wiretap and to detain & torture US citizens without charges or a warrant, surpluses turned into deficits, the right in Raich v Gonzales to imprison folks for activity legal under state law, and the invasion for bogus reasons & failed occupation of an arbitrarily selected Middle Eastern country.
But President Bush was One of Us. The Kenyan anti-colonial secret Muslim? Less so. Hence, insane demands, in the service of taking Our country back from Them.
That's been the cry, hasn't it, since January 20, 2009: taking the country back. It's the wrong cry. The right cry (both ways) is this: When is the GOP going to take back the GOP from the Ted Cruzes of the world?
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reads “Green Eggs and Ham,” nonsensically, during 21-hour bloviation-fest.
Quote of the Day
“Bad time to be a politician. Dibs on shooting/hanging the President.”
-- a commenter on the far-right website MinutemanNews.com, responding to an article about the problems leftists will have when/if they try to rescind the Second Amendment, as reported in Rick Perlstein's Nation article, “Stack Them In the Streets Like Cordwood”: The Gun Control Debate and Our Civic Life," Sept. 13, 2013. Some of the other comments, which Perlstein also quotes, are equally awful, with worse spelling. Perlstein's research indicates that the site, which seems a fringe organization, actually draws almost as many readers as The Nation.
Where Andrew Sullivan is Wrong on Syria, Obama
From Andrew Sullivan's site, which I subscribe to. First he quotes a Washington Post/ABC News poll:
Only 32 percent said Obama had explained clearly why the U.S. should launch strikes. Back in March 2003, as the Iraq War started, 49 percent said that President George W. Bush had compellingly made his case for what was then at stake.
Then he adds this:
So Obama has much less domestic support than Bush, no backing from the Brits, open hostility by the UN for immediate war, and an obviously conflicted administration. This is a war even less likely to succeed than Iraq and even less popular.
The war in Iraq didn't fail because of an erosion in domestic support; it failed for other reasons that were reflected in an erosion of domestic support.
This is not an argument in favor of missile strikes in Syria, by the way. I don't know enough on that subject to even begin discussing it.
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