The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

A GOP source told The Huffington Post that, during a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference, lawmakers gave a green light to including language in the 113th Congress rules package that authorizes the House legal team, known as the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), to keep paying outside counsel to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. The proposed House rules package also states that BLAG ‘speaks for the House’ in its defense of DOMA. House Republicans Tie Federal Gay Marriage Ban To House Rules (via kileyrae)

(via randomactsofchaos)

I reject the notion that there has been some kind of downward trajectory on the American right since Buckley (or Burke, for that matter). What we hear from the Allen’s and McArdle’s of today is no different from what we heard from the Buckley’s of yesterday. The right has always been interested in violence and death. It has seldom been a country for old men—except the old men, and apparently women, who dream of the slaughter of young children. Corey Robin, Rimbaud Conservatism

Right-to-work is big government | Matt Bruenig

So the Michigan lower house has decided to pass a right-to-work bill. This is a pretty standard right-wing maneuver over the last few decades. The idea is to make it impossible for unions to negotiate closed shops, which creates a free rider problem that will ultimately lead to their demise. That is good for owners and management who will have no countervailing workplace force to contend with and good for right-wing politicians who will have no countervailing political force to contend with.

It deserves mentioning that right-to-work laws are actually counter to the expressed philosophy of the right wing, and especially the libertarian sorts. Few seem to understand (or discuss) the mechanics of how right-to-work laws actually achieve their expressed aim. They do so by prohibiting freedom of contract. Specifically, the laws make it illegal for a union and a business to freely enter into a contract with one another over requiring that employees be union members. If these two actors want to enter into such a contract, it does not matter: the law says they cannot.

So it functions as an economic regulation that prohibits certain kinds of contracts. Naturally you would expect politicians that are vehemently against economic regulation and laws that restrict freedom of contract to be opposed to right-to-work. Right? Well, no. Because at the end of the day, those are simply shell arguments. Freedom of contract and less government regulation are principles to stand behind only as long as they flatter the needs of capital. When capital is better served by violating these principles, then the right is more than willing to do so.

There’s a strand of thought — I identify it especially with Corey Robin, although he’s not alone — that says that conservatism isn’t really about the things it claims to be about. It isn’t really about free markets and moral values; it’s about authority — the authority of bosses over workers, of men over women, of whites over Those People. Paul Krugman (via azspot)

(via azspot)

Born Losers | Corey Robin

When the Left is doing its work, it’s going to be engaging in the business of dispossession, and there are going to be winners and losers. The Left used to understand that. Now, that doesn’t mean you temper your project—quite the opposite. But it does mean you are aware that there are real power interests at stake and that people don’t let go of those interests without a fight.

I think a lot of people on the Left think that somehow or another they’re going to persuade everybody that we’re right. That’s never going to happen.

The more liberal types say, “You have to trim your sails, and be careful what you say and do; we can’t alienate people.” But you couldn’t have a feminist movement without alienating a good part of the population. If we think feminism was a serious project, which I think everybody on the Left believes, how would it have been possible to dispossess men of their standing and privileges (which were quite real) without them screaming in rage? It just doesn’t happen.

… There are those who say, “Well, we have to be realistic,” etc. I’m not sympathetic to that argument, but I at least understand it. But there’s a brand of intellectual journalist who thinks that because there was a backlash against the Democrats coming out of the ’60s, the Democrats were doing something wrong, and that they could’ve done it differently to avoided that backlash. I think that’s just not possible.

Juan González: Critical Role in Obama’s Re-Election Heralds New Era of Decisive Latino Vote in U.S.

BILL O’REILLY: … it’s a changing country. The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore. And there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it, and he ran on it—and whereby 20 years ago President Obama would have been roundly defeated by an establishment candidate like Mitt Romney. The white establishment is now the minority. And the voters, many of them, feel that this economic system is stacked against them, and they want stuff. You’re going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama, overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things. And which candidate between the two is going to give them things?

AMY GOODMAN: Fox’s Bill O’Reilly on election night. “They want stuff.” Very much reminiscent of Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comment, Juan.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes, as if all of those corporate leaders and folks who bankrolled the Romney campaign didn’t want stuff, like the ability to repatriate all of the income abroad that they can’t bring back to the United States without paying federal income taxes, which is the great secret of the wealthy in America, that that’s the thing that they want the most, that all the money that they have in offshore accounts, but they can’t bring back to the United States because they’d have to pay taxes on it, and they’re hoping for an amnesty from a new administration to be able to repatriate those billions and trillions of dollars. They don’t want stuff. They just want changes in policy. It’s just strange how the language that’s used to explain the interests and needs of different sectors of the society.

AMY GOODMAN: It sounds like the spokesperson for empire as he watches its demise, Juan.

In conservative fantasy-land, Richard Nixon was a champion of ideological conservatism, tax cuts are the only way to raise revenue, adding neoconservatives to a foreign-policy team reassures American voters, Benghazi was a winning campaign issue, Clint Eastwood’s convention speech was a brilliant triumph, and Obama’s America is a place where black kids can beat up white kids with impunity. Most conservative pundits know better than this nonsense — not that they speak up against it. They see criticizing their own side as a sign of disloyalty. I see a coalition that has lost all perspective, partly because there’s no cost to broadcasting or publishing inane bullshit. In fact, it’s often very profitable. A lot of cynical people have gotten rich broadcasting and publishing red meat for movement conservative consumption. Conor Friedersdorf (via azspot)

(via azspot)

Conservatism is Dead…Because It Lives | Corey Robin

In the conclusion to The Reactionary Mind, I claimed that conservatism was dead. I wrote that in the wake of the 2010 congressional election, at the height of the Tea Party euphoria, when just about everyone was saying the opposite.

Last night, a Harvard professor defeated a faux-populist. A coalition of blacks, Latinos, women, gays and lesbians, and white working class voters in Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, defeated the most retrograde versions of homophobia, sexism, racism, and anti-intellectualism (notice I say only “the most retrograde”). For the second time in four years. I think (hope?) it’s safe to say that The Real America, The Heartland, The Silent Majority—choose your favorite kitschy cliche of the last five decades—no longer governs the land. Obama’s coalition, as John Judis and Ruy Teixeira predicted a decade ago, is the wave of the future.

That said, last night Barack Obama claimed that reducing the debt and the deficit—elsewhere they call that austerity—will be a top priority of his second administration. There’s a history to this, as I’ve pointed out. But it also confirms another thing I said in the conclusion to The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism is dead because it lives. It has triumphed. It may lose elections, but its basic assumptions, going back to the reaction against the New Deal, now govern both parties. The economist John Quiggin calls it Zombie Economics, and it has never seemed a more appropriate metaphor. The dead walk among us. They are us.

The Triumph of Conservatism | Tariq Ali

Obama’s victory was no surprise. Agitated liberals, fearful that their man might lose or trying to save what was left of their depleted consciences, chose to paint Mitt Romney in garish colors, a satanic monster had to be kept out of the White House.

How lucky for liberals that Obama gave the Presidency the power to execute any US citizen without recourse to law. Had it been Bush, the Democrats would have been baying for blood in the NYRB and the NYT.

As the debates showed there were hardly any differences between the two men. Both products and defenders of the Reagan consensus, they had to fight a testy campaign in order to spend the billion dollars they had raised: the electoral stimulus that is much more generous proportionately than the other kind.

Nothing could disguise the fact that it was a painfully dull election, a tribal conflict at which little was really at stake.  Obama, with his Wall Street chums giggling hysterically, pretended to defend the poor by denouncing Mitt as a rich ‘un. Romney , desperate to win, denouncing Barry as a radical, when, as Wall Street honchos acknowledge, he has done nothing that might make them apprehensive.

… From beginning to end it was a numbers game and, unlike in Europe, the incumbent won. And then came the dreaded clichés: ‘We are not red and blue states, we are the United States.’  This was bad even by Obama’s low standards.

In the real world business will go on as usual. [++]

Suffer the Children | Corey Robin

Steven Greenhouse has unearthed the most revealing statement of this entire controversy over employers instructing employees how to vote. David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts, sent his 7000 employees a mailer warning them not to vote for Obama. Asked to explain his letter, Siegel said:

I really wanted them to know how I felt four more years under President Obama was going to affect them. It would be no different from telling your children: “Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.”

Got that? No different.

In The Reactionary Mind, I argue that conservatism is a defense of “the private life of power,” those hierarchies in spheres like the family and the workplace that we often call private. And here you have Mr. Siegel demonstrating that for employers the two are essentially the same. Workers are children, bosses are fathers.

People often wonder how libertarian-ish free market types can come together with cultural and religious conservatives in the GOP. Siegel gives you the answer: Both groups value the power of fathers—in the family, and in the workplace.

[If] Christian Theology provides no justification for the ‘new’ man and his sinful nature, while only constant repentance and utmost commitment to Christ’s teachings can save man from hell, then theology directly contrasts with the standard reactionary line concerning human nature. The latter requires more than just acceptance of the new man’s fallen nature, it accents the fallen character of the sinful man, pushing him to be more sinful: more greedy, prone to theft, less neighborly, and far more likely to worship the wrong master (according to the Bible, mammon). If theology were to be taken seriously by the conservative elite, a political system that sharply represses the sinful qualities in man would have to be taken seriously. Of course, that’s not a commitment the elite can make unless they want to remove their elite status, or perhaps abolish it altogether and proceed to work for a system compatible with the fundamental theology they supposedly espouse and represent. William Shaub, Theology and Conservative Ideology

This is a traumatic thing — she’s, shall we say, she’s uptight. She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.

Dr. John Wilke trying to explain the science the bullshit right wing lunatics made up behind how a woman’s body shuts down when she’s being raped. Disgusting.

Read the rest of the article at the New York Times.

(via joshsternberg)

Fixed that for you.

(via wilwheaton)

(Source: joshsternberg, via wilwheaton)

[In] the deep grammar of his opinions lies a conservatism that, if it has little to do with advancing the immediate interests of the Republican Party, has even less to do with averting the threats of judicial tyranny and judicial anarchy. It is a conservatism that would have been recognizable to Social Darwinists of the late nineteenth century, that mixes freely of the premodern and the postmodern, the archaic and the advanced. It is not to be found in the obvious places—Scalia’s opinions about abortion, say, or gay rights—but in a dissenting opinion about that most un-Scaliaesque of places, the golf course. Corey Robin, Justice Scalia: American Nietzsche

Diva of Disdain: Justice Scalia in Three Parts | Corey Robin

Scalia’s conservatism, it turns out, is less a little platoon than a Thoreauvian counterculture, a retreat from and rebuke to the mainstream, not unlike the hippie communes and groupuscules he once tried to keep at bay. It is not a conservatism of tradition or inheritance: his parents had only one child, and his mother-in-law often complained about having to drive miles and hours in search of the one true church. “Why don’t you people ever seem to live near churches?” she would ask Scalia and his wife.  It is a conservatism of invention and choice, informed by the very spirit of rebellion he so plainly loathes—or thinks he loathes—in the culture at large.

In the 1970s, while teaching at the University of Chicago, Scalia liked to end the semester with a reading from A Man for All Seasons, Robert Bolt’s play about Thomas More. While the play’s antiauthoritarianism would seem at odds with Scalia’s conservatism, its protagonist, at least as he is portrayed by Bolt, is not. Literally more Catholic than the pope, More is a true believer in the law who refuses to compromise his principles in order to accommodate the wishes of Henry VIII. He pays for his integrity with his life.

Joan Biskupic, Scalia’s biographer, introduces this biographical tidbit with a revealing setup: “Yet even as Scalia in middle age was developing a more rigid view of the law, he still had bursts of idealism.” That “yet” is misplaced. Scalia’s rigidity is not opposed to his idealism; it is his idealism. His ultraconservative reading of the Constitution reflects neither cynicism nor conventionalism; orthodoxy and piety are, for him, the essence of dissidence and iconoclasm. No charge grieves him more than the claim, rehearsed at length in his 1995 Tanner Lectures at Princeton, that his philosophy is “wooden,” “unimaginative,” “pedestrian,” “dull,” “narrow,” and “hidebound.” Call him a bastard or a prick, a hound from hell or a radical in robes. Just don’t say he’s a suit. [++]

The 5 Craziest Policies In Texas Republicans' 2012 Platform | ThinkProgress

The others are typical reactionary nonsense, but this:

4) It opposes multicultural education and “critical thinking”: “We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive,” the platform says, adding that it supports teaching “common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups.” In Arizona, where Republicans banned multicultural programs, students in those programs actually out-performed their peers. Texas Republicans also believe “controversial theories” such evolution and climate change — which aren’t controversial at all — “should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced.” There’s more: the GOP also opposes the teaching of “critical thinking skills” because they “focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

This is easily the most repellent thing I came across today.