The American Bear


All the Single Ladies | NYT

The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson — who has made a number of appearances on Fox News, founded a Tea Party group in California and is also the founder of a group called BOND (Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny) — recently gave a speech (I hope it wasn’t a sermon), in which he said:

One of the primary reasons that it is over for America is because women are taking over, women are taking over, they’re in high so-called powerful position, they’re now running companies, they’re making decisions.

He then pointed out that he was not referring to all women:

The are some, a few out there that are logical women and can make sound decisions, but most cannot.

He prattled on nonsensically for a while, adding that “women cannot handle power, it’s not in them to handle power in the right way” and “women have been degraded, women are now degraded, they have no shame.”

I’m getting upset just transcribing this, so let me just get to the meat of it. Here’s the part of his speech I wanted you to see:

I think that one of the greatest mistakes that America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote. We should’ve never turned it over to women.

(Source: sarahlee310)

The Tea Party isn’t a movement. It’s massively funded by private capital. It’s a movement which demographically is not unlike what the Nazis succeeded in organizing. It’s petty bourgeois, almost entirely white, nativist tradition, with the fear that within a generation or two the white population will be a minority and those others are taking our country away from us. … As long as they can be the storm troopers for the cooperate sector they will succeed. The Republicans mobilize them, like the religious right, they have to. The Republican Party, decades ago, stopped being a traditional parliamentary party. It’s in lockstep obedience to the very rich and the corporate sector. But they can’t get votes that way. So they’ve got to mobilize these sectors of the population, also the religious right. But the republican establishment is a little bit afraid of them. It was quite striking to watch the primaries. Romney was the candidate of the republican establishment, but he wasn’t the popular candidate. So one candidate after another came up, Santorum, Gingrich, and they had to be shut down by massive funding, propaganda, negative advertising and so on. You could tell very easily that the establishment, the rich bankers and businessmen, they were worried about it. Noam Chomsky

Disabling the Government | Robert Hunziker

Drowning government in the bathtub is still on the table, but the rightwing ideologues want to starve it completely first:

The “GOP right wing is serious about disabling government.” This is the chilling byline from The Hill’s Congress Blog from July 19, 2012 by Former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) referencing H.R. 4078- Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act.

H.R. 4078 will be considered by the House next week, and according to former Rep. Boehlert, “If one wants to fully appreciate the stranglehold the right wing has on the Republican Congressional agenda, and its attendant dangers, one need look no further than the bill the House plans to consider… which would shut down the entire regulatory system.” The message behind this Republican-sponsored bill to the Democrats is: Put this in your pipe and smoke it you wild-eyed, chicken-livered, pantywaisted, pinko, lefty liberals. And, just to reflect, Ann Coulter is the one who famously said, “ The left is out to destroy the country.”

H.R. 4078 places a moratorium on the issuance of all new major governmental regulations, until unemployment averages 6%, or less, for an entire quarter. This bill is so cleverly worded that it essentially shuts down the future of government, including the prospect that, if a newly elected President Romney wants to impose new limitations on how government funds are expended, so sorry. He’ll be blocked. Therefore, it is clear the right-wingers do not even trust their own kind, and what an irony considering it is reasonably probable the billionaire right-wingers will purchasethe presidency but will not know what to do with it!

The media has largely ignored H.R. 4078 because the whole affaire surrounding the bill seems so far-fetched and ignorant they figure there is no way that Congress could be stupid enough to literally tie the hands of the government. For example, what if a brilliant bill is initiated to help prevent another financial meltdown? Nope! No can do because the H.R. 4078 prohibits issuance of new standards and safeguards and any action that might lead to the issuance of new standards and safeguards.

This bunch of Republicans now running our Congress constitute a throw back to the acumen of an earlier era when the nation’s top ranking was characterized by then-Vice President Dan Quayle, and one of his famous statements: “I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people.” This festering Quaylitis virus, similar to the Black Plague of old, re-emerges every so often, and it bewilders every politician it touches. The recent outbreak appears to have already infected a large component of the Republicans on the Hill.

In combination with Tea Partiers and the other heavy-duty right-wing extremists, the virus is an unbelievably toxic cocktail, something the country has never witnessed before. It is not a stretch of one’s imagination to say the country is now in the hands of a revitalized Know-Nothing Party (1850s), a bunch of xenophobes who form secretive groups to influence national policy by hiding within the dark enclaves of Citizens United, spewing out falsehoods so flamboyantly outrageous as to confuse a credulous public that falls head over heels for the faux credibility of TV’s electronic signal warfare, capturing the minds and the voters of the country by instilling fear of the present and despair for the future. This is the Know-Nothing way!

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DiMaggio analyses the nature of the organisation of the Tea Party, the source of its political and financial support, the role of the media in constructing the Tea Party’s image, and the way that its existence influenced the debate over reform of the healthcare system. What he reveals is that the Tea Party has virtually no base, and is unable to draw on a dozen activists to build for a protest even in its heartland around Chicago. Meetings are dominated by Republican politicians and candidates for election, with little time provided for audience involvement in debate, planning or organisation. Its local activists, he explains, ‘are fundamentally ignorant as to what constitutes a social movement’.

The Rise Of The Tea Party: Political Discontent & Corporate Media in the Age of Obama

Financial support for the Tea Party has been substantial. The average amount contributed to the campaign of candidates for the House of Representatives in 2010 was $805,583, and for candidates to the Senate, $9,603,091. The source of these funds is also interesting, with the health and insurance sector among the top ten contributors in around 94% of campaigns, providing an average of $88,878 per Tea Party candidate.

The Most Fervent Tea Partiers in Michigan Backed Santorum | Conor Friedersdorf

[…] As if to underscore the incoherence of the Republican Party these days, Santorum won not only the voters who most strongly supported the Tea Party — he also won the voters that most strongly oppose it.
Both groups can’t be right!
Also confounding: the 18 percent of Michigan Republicans who strongly oppose the Tea Party and voted for Ron Paul. Results like this make it difficult to believe that the Michigan Tea Party is a coherent expression of anything, and those who strongly support it shouldn’t be regarded as reliable allies for people who actually prioritize small government, the separation of powers, or constitutionalism.

The Most Fervent Tea Partiers in Michigan Backed Santorum | Conor Friedersdorf

[…] As if to underscore the incoherence of the Republican Party these days, Santorum won not only the voters who most strongly supported the Tea Party — he also won the voters that most strongly oppose it.

Both groups can’t be right!

Also confounding: the 18 percent of Michigan Republicans who strongly oppose the Tea Party and voted for Ron Paul. Results like this make it difficult to believe that the Michigan Tea Party is a coherent expression of anything, and those who strongly support it shouldn’t be regarded as reliable allies for people who actually prioritize small government, the separation of powers, or constitutionalism.

President Of Ireland’s Epic Smack Down Of Tea Party Talk Show Host And Sarah Palin (video)


The new President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins –  a noted intellectual, having written two volumes of poetry — unleashed his wrath on talk show host Tea Party mouthpiece Michael Graham.

Higgins admits to some differences with President Obama, but not concerning health care, stating it’s a basic human need.

After calling Tea Partiers warmongers, ‘whipping up fear’ and ignorant, Ireland’s President then slams Sarah Palin in this epic smackdown. Watch.

Yes. Go to the link and listen to the glorious rant.

(via sarahlee310)

On production and reproduction, Republicans lose their way | Paul Rosenberg

[IT’S] not just that today’s GOP has turned its back on its own profound responsibility for the terrible mess this country is in - that might be expected. It has also turned its back on what previously had been shared American values, decisions and practices.

“If you make a bad decision in business, you ought to pay,” Bush [W., on initiating the Chrysler bailout, ed.] told the auto dealers. “The problem is, sometimes circumstances get in the way of philosophy.” For that rather commonplace, common-sense admission, today’s GOP would denounce him as a “socialist”. It’s easier simply to forget him.

But by those standards, every Republican president in history is a socialist. They all used government money to help businesses in trouble - and some who weren’t in trouble, too. The very first Republican congress and administration was as socialist as all get-out. In 1862, they passed the first of the Morrill Land Grant Acts, funding public state colleges; and the first of the Pacific Railway Acts, funding the transcontinental railroad. The private sector alone was clearly incapable of taking up either of these momentous tasks, and yet, these profoundly socialist acts were the foundations of enormous private wealth that was generated over the next several generations of staggering growth. 

More recently, Ronald Reagan passed numerous tax increases after his initial tax cuts initiated an era of ballooning deficits - any one of which would have been enough to disqualify him from national office in today’s GOP. He also struck a deal to preserve Social Security, while his successor, George H W Bush, responded to thesavings & loan crisis with a bailout later estimated at half a trillion dollars.

Today’s GOP sees the Chrysler Super Bowl ad as partisan because they have unilaterally abandoned the once-shared goal of building American prosperity. And that is a recipe for political irrelevance. No one forced them to do this. They have freely chosen to turn their backs on American industry, and on the United States itself. It’s only natural if the United States should return the favor. [more]

The Right-Wing Id Unzipped | Mike Lofgren

Although Mitt Romney used the word “conservative” 19 times in a short speech at the February 10, 2012, Conservative Political Action Conference, the audience he used this word to appeal to was not conservative by any traditional definition. It was right wing. Despite the common American practice of using “conservative” and “right wing” interchangeably, right wing is not a synonym for conservative and not even a true variant of conservatism - although the right wing will opportunistically borrow conservative themes as required.

Right-wingers have occasioned much recent comment. Their behavior in the Republican debates has caused even jaded observers to react like an Oxford don stumbling upon a tribe of headhunting cannibals. In those debates where the moderators did not enforce decorum, these right-wingers, the Republican base, behaved with a single lack of dignity. For a group that displays its supposed pro-life credentials like a neon sign, the biggest applause lines resulted from their hearing about executions or the prospect of someone dying without health insurance.

Who are these people and what motivates them? To answer, one must leave the field of conventional political theory and enter the realm of psychopathology. Three books may serve as field guides to the farther shores of American politics and the netherworld of the true believer.

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In the right-wing id, freedom is the emotional release that a hostile and psychologically repressed person feels when he is finally able to lash out at the objects of his resentment. Freedom is his prerogative to rid himself of people who are different, or who unsettle him. Freedom is merging into a like-minded herd. Right-wing alchemy transforms freedom into authoritarianism. Mike Lofgren

With Activists Like Breitbart, Who Needs An Establishment? | Conor Friedersdorf

Party first! Principles? Haven’t heard that word..

Don’t let the crazy eyes, gonzo antics or red meat rhetoric fool you: Andrew Breitbart is so GOP establishment. In his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he vowed that he’d fall in line behind the Republican nominee in 2012 regardless of his record, rhetoric or policies. “I don’t care who our candidate is. I haven’t cared since the beginning of this,” he said, urging the crowd, “Ask not what the candidate can do for you. Ask what you can do for the candidate.” It’s the sort of thing Karl Rove would program conservative activists to say if they were robots.

Wasn’t it supposed to be different this time?

When the Tea Party began, its adherents insisted that they’d no longer blindly support the GOP. The Bush years taught them that Republicans would betray conservatism as readily as anyone. Dozens of Tea Partiers assured me that they’d never again let their movement be co-opted. “Ask what you can do for the candidate,” Breitbart now says. “And that’s what the Tea Party is. We are here to confront them on behalf of our candidate.” His personal pledge: “I will march behind whoever our candidate is because if we don’t, we lose… Anyone that’s willing to stand next to me to fight the progressive left, I will be in that bunker. And if you’re not in that bunker because you’re not satisfied with this candidate, more than shame on you. You’re on the other side.”

Hear that, disaffected conservative? Hold your nose and vote Romney or you’re an Alinskyite progressive!

Why We Got Ayn Rand Instead of FDR | Thomas Frank

In different times, TARP might have become the rallying point of a revitalized Left. After all, the bailouts were clearly of a piece with the misbehavior that had come before:  the deregulation of the banks, the bonus culture, the wrecking of the supervisory state. Business-friendly conservatives had been behind each of these, and then business-friendly conservatives had knitted together the TARP for the same rotten reason: to give the bankers what ever they wanted. Reformers might have depicted the TARP as the final chapter in the great book of fraud, the episode in which Wall Street used the captured state to transfer its debts to the public.

But it was the Right that grabbed the opportunity to define the debate, using bailouts to shift the burden of villainy from Wall Street to government. For them, the TARP was the only part of the crisis story that mattered— not the derivatives or the deregulation— and its conservative-Republican parentage made no difference. (That congressional Democrats voted for it, on the other hand, was deeply meaningful.) They were the sole rightful opponents of the TARP, conservatives insisted, because they opposed federal interventions in the market, and bailouts violated strict laissez-faire orthodoxy—their orthodoxy. Bailouts allowed government to decide who won and lost; they replaced the forces of competition with those of administrative fiat; and they puffed up the deficit, to boot. And so the Right staked its claim, making the TARP into the outrage that lifted a thousand snake flags.

Why We Got Ayn Rand Instead of FDR | Thomas Frank

An appropriate metaphor for the conservative revival is the classic switcheroo, with one fear replacing another, theoretical emergencies substituting for authentic  ones, and a new villain shuffling onstage to absorb the brickbats meant for another. The conservative renaissance rewrites history according to the political demands of the moment, generates thick smokescreens of deliberate bewilderment, grabs for itself the nobility of the common toiler, and projects onto its rivals the arrogance of the aristocrat. Nor is this constant redirection of public ire a characteristic the movement developed as it went along; it was present at the creation. Indeed, redirection was the creation.

The call that awakened the rebellion came not from some itinerant IWW organizer but from a TV “rant” delivered on February 19, 2009, by one Rick Santelli, a business reporter standing on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade— a reporter ranting, let us be clear, not against the traders who surrounded him but on their behalf. In retrospect, there would be few better examples of the spirit of inversion that drives  the conservative revival.

Rick Santelli had criticized many aspects of the bank bailouts over the preceding months, but on that day in February when he had the ear of the nation, the part of the  TARP that drew his disgust was, significantly, the element designed to help homeowners modify the terms of certain underwater mortgages, making payments more affordable and thus preventing foreclosures. It was the only part of TARP that was intended to directly benefit individual borrowers rather than institutional players, and thus it was supposed to help make the program popular. Instead, it brought down the wrath of this man Santelli, who found it inconceivable that such an initiative was even under consideration. “This is America!” he yelled, working himself into a rage.

And in Santelli’s trading-floor “America,” such a program was “promoting bad behavior,” “subsidiz[ing] the losers’ mortgages” with public money that, were it directed to society’s winners, would presumably be spent on better, shinier things. Santelli’s outrage at these “losers” was inexhaustible, incandescent. They “drink the water” while others “carry the  water.” Raising his arms and turning to his friends, the Chicago traders, he asked, “How many people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?

Boo, went the traders: Down with neighbors! To hell with their extra bathrooms, their arrogant water-drinking, their hard luck.

The next step, should government proceed along the mortgage-modifying paths of tyranny, the reporter reported, would be communist Cuba. But before Big Brother clapped us in statist irons, he’d have to deal with Rick Santelli, friend of the trader and scourge of the thirsty. Santelli was going to defy the Obama administration with a “Chicago Tea Party,” and he invited “all you capitalists.”

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The Youthful Magic of Ron Paul


South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint, the darling of the Tea Party wing nuts of the GOP, is urging Republican candidates to listen to Ron Paul. “One of the things that’s hurt the so-called conservative alternative is saying negative things about Ron Paul,” DeMint told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. “I’d like to see a Republican Party that embraces a lot of the libertarian ideas.”

Why the sudden enthusiasm of Republican leaders for Ron Paul? Credit his surprisingly strong showing in New Hampshire, where 47 percent of primary voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted for him.

No other Republican candidate has come nearly as close to winning over young voters – and the GOP desperately needs young voters. The median age of registered Republicans is rising faster than the median age of America.

The Republican right thinks Paul’s views on the economy are responsible for this fire among the young. Yesterday evening, on Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program, I squared off with Larry and the Wall Street Journal’s Steve Moore. Both are convinced young people are attracted by Paul’s strict adherence to the views of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, and Paul’s desire to move America back to the gold standard.

Baloney. The young are flocking to Ron Paul because he wants to slice military spending, bring our troops home, stop government from spying on American citizens,  and legalize pot.

So do I, but I somehow doubt Jim DeMint would advise Republican candidates to listen to me, even if I were a Republican candidate for President.

Paul is attractive to younger voters precisely because of positions he takes that are anathema to the vast majority of the Republican base, including almost all Tea Party Republicans.

If other Republican candidates want to cozy up to him, fine. But if they do, they’ll have a lot of explaining to do in Bluffton, South Carolina.

On the other hand, if Republicans — or Democrats, for that matter — want to win over much of the nation’s young next November, they’d do well to listen carefully to Paul’s positions on national defense and civil liberties.

Pity the Quarter-Billionaire | Thomas Frank

Dear Tea Party Movement,

For the last few months, the world has been fascinated by your frenzied search for a presidential candidate who is not Mitt Romney. We know that you find the man inauthentic and that you have buoyed up a string of anti-Mitts in the Iowa polling — Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich — buffoons all, preposterous figures whom you have rightfully changed your minds about as soon as you got to know them.

It was quite a spectacle, your quest for the non-Romney — and I think we all know why you undertook it. In ways that matter, Romney is clearly a problem for you. His views on abortion, for example, change with the winds. Ditto, gay rights. He designed the Massachusetts health insurance system that was the model for Obamacare. And he’s even said that he approved of the TARP bank bailout, the abomination that ignited the Tea Party uprising in the first place.

Grievous offenses all, I have no doubt. Still, my advice to you idealists of the right is this: get over it. Not for sell-out reasons like: Romney has the best chance of beating Obama. No. You should get behind the charging Massachusetts RINO (your favorite term for a Republican-In-Name-Only sellout type) because, in a certain paradoxical way, he may turn out to be the truest of all the candidates to the spirit of your movement.

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