"Do or Do not. There is no try."

Does He Hate Everyone?: Rep Allen West’s Anger Issues

Does Allen West hate women? That’s a question explored by Michelle Goldberg at the Daily Beast, and the answer seems to be more that Allen West hates everyone. That doesn’t spare him from being a sexist, however, since his hatred for women has an ugly, gendered tone to it, as evidenced by his strange war on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose main sin seems to be a willingness to disagree with West while in possession of a vagina, causing West to claim she’s “not a Lady.” This, in turn, has caused a lot of speaking from feminist-minded women who are sick to the teeth of grown women being addressed in exactly the same terms that my grandmother used for me when I displayed bad manners … and I was five years old.

That said, calling a Democrat “not a Lady” and claiming that liberal women are the source of the country’s economic woes because we supposedly neuter men are, if anything, the least worrisome parts of the entire Allen West phenomenon. More disturbing is the evidence that West is unhinged and may have a personality disorder, but this not only doesn’t bother the voters who elected him into office, but seems to delight them. As Goldberg recounts, West acts erratically, lashes out randomly, has a victim complex that makes Sarah Palin look thick-skinned, and has acted out violently from his rage issues. But the space between Tea Party ideology and unhinged rage is whisker-thin.

West is a symptom of a larger problem: The most famous political force in the country right now, the Tea Party, has embraced a conservatism that is defined by being angry, bigoted, ignorant, and proud of it. It’s less about coherent politics and more a club for people who have a chip on their shoulders because they confuse getting the stink-eye for saying nutty, mean-spirited things with actual oppression.

It’s not that I’m clutching my pearls at colorful rhetoric and blatant mockery, two avenues of political discourse I enjoy quite a bit. But there is — or should be — a difference between a willingness to be abrasive and unhinged anger issues like West’s. The line should be drawn long before lionizing people for doing things like torturing prisoners of war, something West was disciplined by the Army for doing. Instead, we now live in a country where such vicious behavior can make you a hero in the eyes of the Tea Party, to the point where it elevates you to Congress.


By: Amanda Marcotte, Slate, July 22, 2011

July 23, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Democrats, Elections, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty, Voters, Women, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stunt Of The Week: Heritage Foundation Plays A Foolish Game

I’ve grown increasingly concerned about the poor quality of the Heritage Foundation’s scholarship, but this week’s stunt is awful, even by Heritage standards.

The conservative think tank published an item yesterday purporting to show that passage of the Affordable Care Act immediately stalled private-sector job growth. Conditions were quickly improving, Heritage argues, right up until those rascally Democrats felt the need to overhaul the health care system.

This is deeply foolish, both as an exercise and as an attempt to manipulate data. Here, for example, is a chart showing private-sector job growth in the 12 months after implementation of the ACA began.

Note, three of those months reflect the strongest private-sector monthly totals in the last five years. One might also mention that private-sector employment bottomed out shortly before the Affordable Care Act passed, and has been on an upwards trajectory ever since.

To clarify, I’m not saying the successful passage of health care reform necessarily caused private-sector job growth to improve. There are all kinds of other facts that gave the economy a boost, most notably the Recovery Act (which, incidentally, the Heritage Foundation also dislikes).

But to argue that the ACA was somehow responsible for undermining the economy is unbecoming an institution that claims to be a “think” tank. I know the right hates the reform law — despite the fact that it includes several provisions, including the individual mandate, which had been endorsed by the Heritage Foundation — but this just reeks of desperation.

As Matt Yglesias explained, referring to the Heritage piece, “Clearly … no fair-minded person actually interested in the subject is going to be persuaded by this kind of nonsense. I think it’s really too bad that conservative institutions spend a fair amount of time and energy on projects whose only possible effect can be to mislead their own constituency.”


By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Political Animal-Washington Monthly, July 21, 2011

July 23, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Conservatives, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, GOP, Health Care, Health Reform, Ideology, Jobs, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grover Norquist’s Pledge Is A Colossal Failure

In 1986, Grover Norquist and his organization, Americans for Tax Reform, created the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” which he describes as “a simple, written commitment by a candidate or elected official that he or she will oppose, and vote against, tax increases.” It has recently come under repeated fire: it became a tool for ethanol subsidy apologists, for example, and most recently, it emerged as a needless obstacle in negotiations over raising the debt ceiling.

Responding to his critics, Norquist has taken to the op-ed page of the New York Timesthis morning to defend his legacy:

Contrary to the hopes of some that I am somehow softening the pledge, it is stronger and more important than ever: it has made it easier for  members of Congress to credibly commit to voters that they will refuse  to increase taxes and instead focus on reducing the cost of government.

In fact, it is more important than ever to be rid of The Pledge, because it has been a colossal failure.  Does anyone think that fiscal conservatives should be happier with the state of our nation’s finances now than they were when the pledge began 25 years ago? Does anyone still harbor the illusion that “starve the beast” is an effective method of shrinking the federal government?

Here is why The Pledge has failed. Time and again, it has contributed to the GOP tendency to make taxes their top priority, deficits be damned. As Kevin Williamson puts it at National Review, “Republicans led by naïve supply-siders are preparing, for the third time in my life, to sell their souls on spending cuts in exchange for  tax-rate reductions that are small, ineffective, and sure to be  temporary. Ronald Reagan got his tax cuts, but he went to his grave  waiting for those spending cuts. George W. Bush got his tax cuts, and  ended his presidency with spending soaring and his entitlement-reform  program in the garbage. And now certain Republicans are starting to  slobber over the Gang of Six plan.”

What Norquist doesn’t understand or won’t admit is that deficit spending is worse than a tax increase, because you’ve got to pay for it eventually anyway, with interest. Meanwhile, you’ve created in the public mind the illusion that the level of government services they’re consuming is cheaper and less burdensome than is in fact the case. If you hold the line on taxes but not the deficit, you’re making big government more palatable.

Back in 1986, if taxes had been raised every time federal spending had increased, and voters knew that taxes would go up again every time new federal programs or spending was passed, the backlash against big government that we’re seeing now would’ve started a lot sooner, and been much more broad-based. Had that been the policy, it’s doubtful that George W. Bush would’ve passed Medicare Part D. Instead, the Baby Boomers have borrowed a bunch of money that my generation and my children’s generation is going to have to pay back. But their taxes didn’t go up. Thanks for that, Mr. Norquist. I’m not sure what to call it, but fiscal conservatism isn’t it.

As the conservative movement laments our fiscal straits, and the dire situation the nation finds itself in, perhaps it is too much to ask that they assign Norquist a little bit of the blame. But surely they can at least recognize that the solution he’s been pushing since the Reagan Administration hasn’t worked.


By: Conor Friedersdorf, Associate Editor, The Atlantic, July 22, 2011

July 23, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Congress, Conservatives, Consumers, Debt Ceiling, Deficits, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Medicare, Middle Class, Politics, Public, Public Opinion, Right Wing, Tax Increases, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Teaparty, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halting The “Disease Of Republican Compromise”: Intra-GOP Wars Block Path To Debt Ceiling Accord

What if they yield, even a little?

Call it GOP Primary Fear. A major hurdle to breaking the federal debt-ceiling impasse is the worry by House Republicans that they will invite primary election challenges from the right if they give ground to Democrats on the issue of higher tax revenues.

There’s even a verb for it: being “primaried.”

The challenger would not be a Democrat. It would be a fellow Republican, in a spring or summer primary that most voters would ignore. That could leave the field mainly to ideological die-hards, often with tea party ties and little appetite for compromise.

It’s the atmosphere that many House freshmen rode to victory last year, and that cost two GOP senators their party’s nomination.

“They talk about it all the time,” said Mike McKenna, a Republican lobbyist who closely follows the House and politics. If the House cuts a deficit-reduction deal with President Barack Obama, he said, “you’re probably going to see a lot of leadership guys get primaried,” along with rank-and-file Republicans. “It could be an all-time high.”

Such worries are a key reason the GOP-controlled House has refused so far to accept Obama’s debt-and-deficit overture, even though it includes budget concessions that many people never expected from a Democrat. Friday evening, after House Speaker John Boehner abruptly broke off the talks, an exasperated Obama declared: “One of the questions the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is, `Can they say yes to anything?'”

Boehner blamed Obama for insisting on higher revenues. The package they were closing in on would have cut spending by $3 trillion over 10 years, and slowly started to trim Social Security and Medicare benefits. But to get it through the Democratic-controlled Senate, the deal also needed to include some increase in revenues from taxes aimed mainly at the wealthy, and generating up to $1 trillion over a decade.

That’s the needle Boehner can’t figure out how to thread. He’s been unable to persuade enough fellow Republicans to give just enough on higher revenues, or “tax hikes” — there will be a fierce fight, too, over definitions — to keep Senate Democrats from filibustering the bill to death.

Boehner must also reassure colleagues that they could survive primary challenges.

Obama confronted the issue Friday, at a forum in Maryland. Many House districts, he said, are drawn to be “so solidly Republican or so solidly Democrat that a lot of Republicans in the House of Representatives, they’re not worried about losing to a Democrat. They’re worried about somebody on the right running against them because they compromised. So even if their instinct is to compromise, their instinct of self-preservation is stronger … that leads them to dig in.”

Nearly all congressional Republicans have pledged not to raise taxes, although lawmakers quibble about what that means. Many tea partyers say it bars any action that would lead directly to a net increase in tax revenues. The Senate is almost certain to reject that definition.

Tea party activist Lee Bellinger recently urged colleagues to put lawmakers on notice “before the disease of Republican compromise infects Washington once again.” As early as mid-April, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler told The Hill newspaper he was “getting emails by the hour from people talking about primary challenges” to Republicans who seek budget deals with Democrats.

Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker said Republican primaries are dominated by “the most ideological voters.” They “track votes and are unforgiving,” he said.

GOP pollster and consultant Wes Anderson said, “If we pass some deal that includes some form of tax increases_ even if we try really hard to couch it in `tax reform, closing loopholes,’ etc. — there are going to be a number of our folks, especially freshmen, who will face primaries. It’s just going to happen.”

Anderson said Boehner’s top staffer is counting votes every day, asking “what kind of deal can we get without losing too many?”

For Boehner, the math doesn’t require reaching the minimum 218 votes needed to pass a bill in the House (or 217, given two seats currently vacant).

If Obama eventually endorses a compromise, it probably will draw scores of House Democrats’ votes. That would allow Boehner to lose 100 or so of his 240 Republicans, and still pass the measure.

But if Boehner wants to remain speaker, he can hardly afford a bigger defection than that. He needs to find the political sweet spot, a compromise that can win the votes of 140 or so House Republicans and most of the Senate’s Democrats.

McKenna estimates that about 40 pro-Boehner House Republicans are politically safe enough to vote for a compromise with no worries. Beyond that, he said, “80, 90, 100 are probably going to vote `yes’ on whatever comes out. And they will be exposed.”

By: Charles Babington (With Contribution by Jim Kuhnhenn), The Associated Press, Yahoo News, July 22, 2011

July 23, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Deficits, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Medicare, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Public Opinion, Republicans, Right Wing, Senate, Social Security, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Teaparty, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: