Another fantastic Honest Trailer:
It is a really bizarre kids’ movie in retrospect. It doesn’t impart any kind of desirable social values to children, or model any kind of desirable behavior. I do remember my mother telling me after watching it that I definitely should not try to behave like Kevin and should just call the police and run to a neighbor’s house if anyone tried to break into the house, which is sensible advice. Booby-trapping your house in ways that could just as easily destroy it–and yourself–is not so sensible. It’s pretty much the opposite of what a kids’ movie ought to be, and yet it’s not really subversive. It’s not like, say, Rebel Without A Cause, which sets out to show that following the rules and going with the flow can be an unsatisfying, immoral outcome. Home Alone is just kind of a dumb movie. Though subsequent sequels make it look smart if only by comparison…
Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) … argue that the nuclear agreement reached last month between the P5+1 and Iran … allows the Islamic Republic to enrich uranium to low levels, which they claim violates past U.N. resolutions that say Iran is not allowed to enrich. Corker … criticiz[ed] the Obama administration for “allowing [Iran to] do the things that the world community through the U.N. Security Council has already said they cannot do.”
However, no U.N. resolution has said that Iran is not allowed to enrich uranium, only that it temporarily “suspend” its uranium enrichment program while negotiations take place.
As we all know, there is no past and no internet from which to draw forth hypocrisy:
Led by Republican opposition, the Senate on Tuesday rejected a United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled that is modeled after the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. With 38 Republicans casting “no” votes, the 61-38 vote fell five short of the two-thirds majority needed to ratify a treaty.
“I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.
… which John Stewart deftly lampooned:
Jon Stewart hammered Senate Republicans for voting against a United Nations treaty that seeks to protect the rights of disabled people around the world. “What is wrong with you people?” Stewart said. “I guess it’s time for our new segment: ‘Please tell me this is rock bottom.’ How did this happen?”
“It’s official. Republicans hate the United Nations more than they like helping people in wheelchairs,” Stewart said.
I’ve been thinking recently about how, basically, the United States became something of a lawless country. Obviously I’m not naive and I realize that no system of justice will ever be perfect. There will never be a day where a homeless man accused of shoplifting will have equally good legal representation as a stockbroker accused of insider trading, for example. I don’t think we should give up on getting closer to that, but it’s not something I realistically expect to ever happen. We’ll never completely eradicate bias from the system because people have biases, and I’ve seen enough episodes of Star Trek to know that turning the whole process over to machines often presents its own set of problems. I accept all this.
However, what I don’t accept is a society where people commit crimes and not only get away with them–that is inevitable–so much as that political circumstances make the violation of certain laws impossible to enforce. It’s arguable that the large segment of the public that is politically apathetic has been turned off by the perception that powerful people are essentially above the law, and the more that increases, the closer we’re looking at a Weimar Germany-style civic meltdown where the citizens lose faith in the government to such an extent that radical personalities and changes start to be contemplated. Which is not to say that a Hitler figure lies in wait for us should that happen, though it is to say that it could make things quite a bit worse than they already are. Impossible to predict, but I’d just as soon not take the risk. The American left has most definitely not been lucky these past few decades.
Ultimately, I think this is a greater threat to democracy than anything the right-wing presents. It’s not entirely a separate threat. But let’s just think of a couple of recent-ish events in which friendly moderates decided that the nation needed to come together and heal:
- The Nixon resignation and subsequent pardon by Gerald Ford.
- Reagan, Iran-Contra, and the non-escalation on the part of Lee Hamilton.
- Bush, Gore, and the laughable quest to avoid a recount, in which virtually the entire establishment, many Democrats, and ultimately Gore himself talked about the need to heal, etc.
- Bush 43′s likely violations of the law. As Peggy Noonan famously said, we just need to keep on walking. Apparently Obama agreed.
- The culture of fraud that led to the 2008 economic collapse, after which Tim Geithner wanted to avoid doing anything that might hurt the banks.
Obviously, this is an incomplete list. And for a counterexample, you could include the Beltway-aided hounding/impeachment of Bill Clinton as a miscarriage of justice. The trend becomes very clear very quickly: Republicans who commit, shall we say, questionable activities cannot suffer the consequences because of a perceived threat to national well-being. Democrats who commit at best very nuanced violations of the law must suffer the consequences in the fullest, most public, most drastic and humiliating way imaginable, unless those violations are in the service of things Republicans like, such as bombing brown people, and afterward are not allowed to be angry about it lest they hamper the “healing”. It’s quite possible that the centrists who have excused all of these offenses with bromides about healing have a perfectly sound reason for doing so. Perhaps they think that, for example (and to be charitable to their motives), the prosecution of Bush Administration members for torture would lead to a violent response from the crazier members of the right wing. Which might or might not happen, it’s not an unreasonable fear. But to this end they’ve been entirely unsuccessful! It’s of course true things could get worse with the Tea Party, but certainly fear of such a destabilizing force is what might make centrists shy away from demanding that lawbreaking Republicans pay for their crimes, and in this case it happened without anything like that. People like to use appeasement analogies, this seems like a trend of actual appeasement (and moral cowardice) in every way. And if it’s just because of the professional centrists’ obeisance to power or because they simply couldn’t allow their charming dinner companions to face the music, well, that’s vastly worse and less defensible.
What do you think? Who should we be more afraid of? And what is to be done?
I meant to write about this a while back, but it got buried behind a bunch of stuff. I still think it’s worth taking note of:
The analyst says in a report issued Wednesday that the state will have annual operating surpluses approaching $10 billion a year by the 2017-18 fiscal year if current spending and revenue policies remain.
Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor says revenue is expected to grow faster than spending for at least the next five years, giving California a $5.6 billion reserve by July 2015. It’s a dramatic turnaround from the multibillion-dollar deficits of a few years ago.
I still contend that Ross Douthat’s “Texas vs. California” article was the last sign that the independent, likable blogger had become a hackish wannabe-player (of which his later work, including the infamous “Ground Zero Mosque” piece, would testify). I shall not link to these articles–finding them ought to be easy enough if you want to read them–but the gist of it was that California was a financial basketcase because of free-spending liberals while Texas was a model of fiscal probity. Keep in mind that what California has done since this article is, basically, to dump a Republican governor, raise taxes and eradicate all Republican power within the legislature. Admittedly, Jerry Brown is something of a belt-tightener in terms of spending, though that hasn’t kept the state from pouring money back into education and going ahead with large-scale infrastructure projects.
Basically, the takeaway here is that Ross Douthat does not deserve to be taken seriously at all because he’s primarily concerned with his “brand” and finding the just right positioning to be the Times‘s conservative columnist. Which is something that not enough people seem to know.
The DNC is putting out a helpful guide for pushing back against all that Obummer-hating BS Uncle Bob rambles on about at Thanksgiving. A nice public service.
The Democratic National Committee is launched a Thanksgiving-themed website Wednesday called YourRepublicanUncle.com that purports to help people deal with “lively discussions with Republican relatives about politics” that occur during the holiday season.
YourRepublicanUncle.com features talking points Democrats can use during hypothetical political conversations with their family members.
“This time of year, the only thing more annoying than holiday traffic is an awkward conversation with family about politics,” DNC Digital Director Matt Compton wrote in an email announcing the site. “We designed YourRepublicanUncle.com so that it look greats and loads quickly on your phone — no getting ambushed when you go back for seconds on stuffing.”
For some reason, Howard Dean is quoted in an article about Nebraska Tea Party Senate hopeful Ben Sasse’s record on healthcare relative to other Republicans:
An unlikely voice has come to Sasse’s defense. Howard Dean, the former Democratic presidential candidate and ex-governor of Vermont, said he knows better than most that Sasse has long opposed the health care law and the mandate.
Dean and Sasse have known each other for several years and debated the health care law on the lecture circuit, for a fee, about six times in 2011 and 2012.
In the debates, Dean supported the law and Sasse opposed it.
Although Dean said he would never vote for Sasse, he respects him and calls him an old-style conservative who relies on facts rather than demagoguery to argue his case.
“His conservatism is not manufactured, the way some of the Tea Party is. He’s a very solid, constructed conservative,” said Dean. “I find the Tea Party to be inflammatory. And I often find that Ted Cruz makes claims that are not so. Ben and my disagreements are based on facts.”
Dean said Sasse’s biggest concerns — as conveyed in many of his articles and speeches — is the growth of entitlement spending without any thought given on how to pay for those programs in the future.
“He believes that deficit spending is a huge problem and Obamacare will make it worse,” Dean said.
Admittedly, this is much less damaging than his criticism of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, one of Obamacare’s key cost-control components and thus one of the scourges of the health industry’s profits. Dean’s sudden opposition to the board was scored by this blogger as achieving a 6.5 out of 10 Dick Gephardts on the “Democratic Ex-Officeholder Soulless Sellout” scale, and this by comparison is not that. But it’s damn peculiar all the same. Politically, it’s odd that Dean would see fit to characterize someone as a true conservative or not, or that he’d even wade into an internal Republican conflict. There’s nothing to be gained with that politically for a Democrat, and there’s the strong likelihood that Dean would say something that would get him in trouble, especially considering that Dean has dropped hints about another presidential run in 2016. This mostly just shows that Dean doesn’t pick his fights or media appearances wisely and is prone to improvising, which he isn’t very good at.
As for the substance…Dean seems to subscribe to the odd notion that the Tea Party is a fake or astroturfed phenomenon. It was at first to be sure. However, at this point it is strange to argue that it’s less legitimate than the mainstream GOP considering that it’s hard to tell most of the time where one ends and the other begins. The implication Dean makes here seems to be that large chunks of the Tea Party are insincere, which is undoubtedly true of many Tea Party leaders, but grifters abound throughout the Republican Party so the distinction Dean is drawing seems lost on me. Admittedly, if Dean is right that Sasse is a relatively fact-based conservative, it would probably be better to have him in office than to have a fabulist, Michelle Bachmann type. But it is relative–one highly doubts that Sasse is much more fact-based than your average Tea Partier on, say, climate change, the track record of Keynesian economics, or the Theory of Evolution than most. And if he is, then he really is doomed.
Reading this passage again, it does seem as though Dean is trying to say favorable things about Sasse without giving the appearance of endorsing him, but he has to realize that Republican politics, especially the factionalist variety of the Tea Party primary in dark red states, is going to mean that his association would hurt Sasse. Is that the goal? It doesn’t seem to be. The only conclusion to be drawn here is that Dean is showing once again, albeit in a small way, that he should absolutely not head any 2016 ticket. Any politician that I’d want to be president ought to think every time before speaking. Frankly, I’d be happy if Dean stopped talking at all about healthcare, as it’s not been his best subject at all. I get that he has an M.D. and thinks this entitles his thoughts on the subject to being taken super-seriously, but so does Phil Gingrey. Being a CPA wouldn’t be accepted as specially granting anyone insight into tax reform, would it? Dean’s history of not being fully informed on the issues, especially during the Affordable Care Act fight, of his conflicts of interest, and of unwisely speaking off the cuff leads me to believe everyone (especially Dean himself) would be better off if he avoided the subject altogether. Though I don’t think it’s likely.
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