Creeping Boehnerism? - Some House Republicans apparently crying over McCarthy's fall.
1 hour ago
Well, all this is interesting to me, anyway, and that's what matters here. The Internet is a terrible thing for someone like me, who finds almost everything interesting.
Nowadays this revolutionary rationale for gun rights [that the main purpose of the Second Amendment is to keep open the possibility of revolutionary violence against the U.S. government] is becoming the rule rather than the exception for conservative politicians and advocates. Mike Huckabee, a sunny and irenic candidate for president in 2008, all but threatened revolutionary violence in his recent campaign book for the 2016 cycle, God, Guns, Grits and Gravy:
If the Founders who gave up so much to create liberty for us could see how our government has morphed into a ham-fisted, hypercontrolling “Sugar Daddy,” I believe those same patriots who launched a revolution would launch another one. Too many Americans have grown used to Big Government’s overreach. They’ve been conditioned to just bend over and take it like a prisoner [!]. But in Bubba-ville, the days of bending are just about over. People are ready to start standing up for freedom and refusing to take it anymore....
Perhaps the most surprising statement on this subject from a Republican presidential candidate was by a rare figure who dissents from the right-to-revolution talk, per this report from Sahil Kapur at TPM a few months ago:
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz's argument that the Second Amendment provides the "ultimate check against government tyranny" is a bit too extreme for potential 2016 rival and fellow Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
"Well, we tried that once in South Carolina. I wouldn't go down that road again," Graham said, in an apparent reference to the Civil War. "I think an informed electorate is probably a better check than, you know, guns in the streets."
Graham joked about this, but liberals generally are not amused by the suggestion that “patriotic” Americans should be stockpiling guns in case “they”—it’s not clear who, of course—decide it’s time to start shooting police officers and members of the armed forces in defense of their liberties, which in some cases are perceived to be extremely broad. Indeed, a lot of Second Amendment ultras appear to think the right to revolution is entirely up to the individual revolutionary. Here’s Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, the darling of the GOP Class of 2014, talking about this contingency in 2012:
I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere...But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.
You can wonder, as I often do, how people like Ernst would react to such rhetoric if it were coming from a member of a black nationalist or Islamist group. But clearly, there’s no point in progressives seeking any “compromise” with them on gun issues. They can only be defeated by a true mass social movement supporting reasonable gun regulation. But it’s important to understand that according to the Cult of the Second Amendment, opponents of gun measures have every right to fire back, literally.
Over and over during the farce that was supposed to be a hearing on Planned Parenthood, Republican representatives attacked Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards because her organization does not provide mammograms as part of its core set of services. (They do sometimes pair with organizations for programs that offer them to low-income women.) Over and over again, the fact that Planned Parenthood doesn’t offer mammograms was held out as some kind of proof that the organization doesn’t provide women’s health care.
This obsession with mammograms belies the real agenda here, which has nothing to do with “fetal body parts” or even abortion, but with delegitimizing health care that exists so that people, particularly women, can have healthy and safe sex lives. The implication was clear: Mammograms are real health care, and all those other services—contraception, STI testing and treatment, Pap smears—are not. After all, virgins can get breast cancer, but you aren’t going to get the clap or an unintended pregnancy if you don’t have sex.
Republicans are smart and know they can’t just come right out and denounce the use of health care services in order to have recreational sex, because recreational sex is a nearly universal behavior. Ninety-nine percent of women who have sex have used contraception. Ninety-five percent of Americans had premarital sex. So the slut-shaming is being done sideways, by focusing heavily on non-sexual health care—or prenatal care—while pointedly ignoring the health care people centered around having sex. The omission speaks volumes.
If you thought the religious right had given up on the mission to push abstinence-until-marriage, this hearing should be a reminder that they very much have not, and instead are eager to undermine any care for the non-abstinent out of fear that it gives permission to have sex. Abstinence-only programs haven’t gone anywhere, either. As Erica Hellerstein of Think Progress reported over the summer, most programs were just renamed something like “abstinence-focused” or even, falsely, “evidence-based,” but they are pushing the same message: The only legitimate life choice is to refrain from having sex until marriage.
Why they don’t think married women need contraception is another question entirely, but we are talking about politicians who think you need a mammogram machine in a family planning clinic that primarily serves women in their 20s. Expertise on what women actually need in their health care is not a strong suit.
... numerous Republicans (even presidential candidates) list not only Boehner's (non-existent) failure to stop Obamacare, but also his supposed enabling of Obamacare. As Mike Huckabee explained, "When people sent [Republicans] here, they didn't send them to give the president more power on Obamacare[.]" Think about that: after total legislative obstruction, a government shut-down, more than 50 votes to repeal Obamacare, an ensuing presidential election, two Supreme Court lawsuits, and other pending litigation - - Republicans are livid with the belief that John Boehner has worked with the President to strengthen Obamacare.
No sane political observer could think that. So, what gives?
Boehner has never supported any important aspect of the Obama agenda. Even at the outset of the Obama administration, with the president soaring in the polls and the economy plunging into the abyss, he rallied his entire party to withhold support from the stimulus and never seriously considered negotiating. He not only voted against Obamacare, but he repeatedly punctuated his speech denouncing it with shouts of “hell no!” The positive “accomplishments” of the Boehner Era were limited to avoiding a series of brinksmanship-induced catastrophes. The limits of conservative power extended to the ability to block all legislative progress or compromise. Boehner successfully delivered that. He even joined in several creative efforts to expand his institution’s power by using threats of shutdowns or debt-ceiling crises to coerce Obama into enacting portions of the Republican agenda, giving up only when Obama had beaten him back repeatedly.
It was not enough. Three quarters of Republicans believe, incredibly, that their party leadership has not done enough to oppose Obama. Three fifths feel “betrayed” by their party. “In the last seven years Barack Obama has successfully recruited, or corrupted, or hijacked — however you want to describe it — John Roberts of the Supreme Court; John Boehner, speaker of the House; Mitch McConnell, Republican leader in the Senate; and, some might even say, the pope,” ranted Rush Limbaugh the other day.
This discontent runs much deeper and wider than Boehner. It has driven much of the support for Donald Trump, whose “conservatism” rests in his affect, radiating power and contempt for Obama, rather than in his policies, which actually lie to the left of the party platform overall. Boehner had the misfortune of leading, or attempting to lead, his party in an era when it had run up to the limits of crazy, where the only unexplored frontiers of extremism lay beyond the reach of its Constitutional powers.
It finds that 60 percent of Republicans feel betrayed by their party, and that 66 percent of Republicans don’t think their party did all it could to block Obama’s agenda. The poll asks why respondents think their party leaders failed at this: they didn’t really want to stop Obama; they weren’t smart enough; they would rather fight each other. The Fox poll doesn’t even offer respondents the option of choosing the real reason — that Republicans structurally lack the votes! No wonder voters are easily seduced into thinking Trump is “telling it like it is.”
It sounds crazy, I know, but this represents the true "dark side" of Boehner's resignation: it is another significant step in the Republican party's shocking withdrawal from our system of democratic governance. Specifically, it presages a doubling-down of the Republicans' intentions to assert "negative control," where government shutdowns, hostage-taking, and (the immensely dangerous) debt-ceiling fights threaten to become more determinative than electoral outcomes and a functioning government. As one Republican writer put it, the emerging Republican belief is that threats of government destruction combined with the inherent rightness of Republican beliefs "could be so strong (as Ted Cruz was of his proposal to defund Obamacare) that Senate Democrats, the Obama White House and the mainstream media would, for once, finally, this time, cave in and let the House Republicans have their way." (And the use of the words "for once, finally" means "rightly," "appropriately," consistent with the "true" distribution of power.) ...
What we have here is one of two major political parties increasingly disengaging from the democratic process. Did you know that President Obama is an illegitimate President because he is not a "natural born citizen"? Or that he won election by promising "free stuff" to minorities? That minorities and illegal aliens are engaged in massive voter fraud? Or, that popular elections of U.S. Senators should be taken away? That some "Boehner Rule" or "Hastert Rule" exists which neuters any Democratic House votes? Or that is OK for Republicans to filibuster every proposed law while in the minority, but the filibuster should be repealed now that Republicans have a Senate majority? Or that the Electoral College should be reformed to provide proportional votes only in "Blue States"? . . . or, that policy outcomes should not be determined by elections but instead by holding hostage the federal government or the "full faith and credit" of the U.S.?
Most importantly, did you realize that all of the above are necessary to enact the majority will of the people? Because - believe it or not - that is what the Republicans believe.
The conclusion of Congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein has been widely quoted, but not sufficiently absorbed:
One of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
A South Dakota man is in custody for lying to police about how he landed in the emergency room with a gunshot wound to the penis.
Donald Anthony Watson, 43, told police he was shot by “a black guy (who) tried to rob” him while he was taking out the trash at his apartment, the Argus Leader reported Friday.
But police weren't able to corroborate Watson's story of an attempted robbery after a search of his apartment, where they found blood, bullet fragments, and an empty gun case.
Watson eventually admitted he had made the story up, and had instead placed a handgun he was considering purchasing in his pocket, where it fired and hit his genitals.
Seeing so many stories like this one I've become increasingly convinced of the existence and the importance of what I will call the Unicornstitution. Related but by no means synonymous with the US constitution, the Unicornstitution exists as a sort of ersatz Platonic ideal form of the Constitution which exists in the ether and is ready at hand to give a big thumbs up and attaboy and 'you go girl' to whatever crazy bullshit thing you already decided to do, especially if you're really angry and stupid and fundamentally see life in America as as matter of other undeserving people taking away your stuff and your not being able to do anything about it.
This is related to a point I made earlier this year ("No. Sorry. You're not a constitutional conservative.") But it goes a bit beyond that - the desire to wrap every completely nutball idea you have onto the Constitution. Because generally because ...
Ritzheimer is a somewhat extreme example, I grant you, but the Unicornstitution has become increasingly prevalent among high-ranking elected leaders who for instance really really think Obamacare is socialism and Kenyan and therefore unconstitutional. You just have to look hard enough to find out how. But you don't need to look all that hard because the Unicornstitution is always right there at hand waiting, sort of like an imaginary friend.
This week has epitomized the bizarro world American politics has become. It’s a week during which the media and politicians have been enraptured by a debate over whether or not a Muslim could become president. ...
Why? Well, Ted Cruz’s answer to a question about this new controversy hinted at what is really going on here. After affirming that he can read by noting that the constitution requires no religious test for office, Cruz said, “The broader question, and what I think Ben was trying to get at, is what are the consequences been in the last six and a half years of the Obama presidency?” ...
Obviously the answer is that both Carson and now Cruz are referencing the widespread belief amongst conservatives that Obama is secretly a Muslim but is concealing his true beliefs for nefarious reasons, possibly to impose sharia law on the nation. (Any day now.) The last public poll on this belief showed that 86 percent of Republicans are warm to it, with 54 percent believing that Obama is a Muslim and 32 percent saying they are unsure. Only 14 percent of Republicans correctly describe Obama’s religion as Christian.
In other words, the belief that Obama is a Muslim is an entrenched “fact” on the right, much like the belief that global warming is a hoax or Planned Parenthood is a for-profit company that makes its money selling fetal parts. Carson and Cruz aren’t really talking about a hypothetical Muslim president in some future world. This is all a coded way to talk about Obama.
In that light, the discussion makes more sense. When Carson says that “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” he’s aligning himself with right wing forces that don’t accept the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency, even going so far as to float conspiracy theories that Obama faked his birth certificate to conceal his Kenyan origins. ...
No one is going to come right out and accuse Obama of being a foreign invader—or maybe just a secret Muslim—who comes to ruin Mom and apple pie, because they want to be taken seriously by the mainstream media. So they just talk in coded language that their conspiracy theorist supporters understand but which coats their discourse in plausible deniability. If confronted, they can just say they aren’t talking about a specific person who happens to be a Muslim in the White House who is out to destroy us all through nefarious means. Just a hypothetical one, wink wink.
There are a couple of major benefits to this game, beyond just being able to demonize political opponents without being called out by the media for lying. For one thing, it reinforces the conservative narrative that they’re victims of a liberal elite suppressing their great truths through the almighty power of political correctness. After all, they have to talk in coded language like they’re all in some spy network! Clearly, they are being oppressed and censored by people who can’t handle the truth. ...
There may be a silver lining with conservatives increasingly relying on coded language and ever more complex rhetorical traps. Yes, the strategy helps conservatives communicate radical ideas to each other under a blanket of plausible deniability. Yes, they drive liberals up the wall while they do it. But they’re starting to sound like a bunch of jabbering idiots to people who aren’t already well-versed with the various conspiracy theories and coded beliefs. Pissing off the liberals is fun, but it might be at the expense of making sense to voters who don’t speak fluent Right Wingese.
Dr. Ben Carson was left out of a Christian pastors' conference earlier this year in part because his own religious beliefs deviated too much from Christian orthodoxy.
The snub was ironic in hindsight, as Carson is now under fire for saying over the weekend that he didn't believe a Muslim should be President of the United States because his or her religious beliefs would be in conflict with the Constitution.
Willy Rice, the pastor of Florida-based Calvary Baptist Church, invited the retired neurosurgeon to speak at the Southern Baptist Pastors' Conference earlier this year. The invite for the June conference came before Carson was a declared Republican presidential candidate.
However, several organizations and individuals within the Southern Baptist community publicly expressed their displeasure with having Carson, a Seventh-day Adventist, address the conference. Those complaints, in addition to Carson's expected presidential campaign launch, led Carson and the conference organizers to mutually agree to not have him speak at the event.
Press failures, especially massive ones, tend to be right there in plain site and yet totally invisible, entirely ignored. And yet we have a massive one coming out of Wednesday night's Republican debate that the press seems inclined or insisting on totally ignoring. Commentators are toasting Carly Fiorina as the break-out winner of the debate. And yet she not only made a string of false statements, or claims that showed a willful disregard for or ignorance of reality, she almost certainly manufactured a bogus memory entirely out of whole cloth. And all of this is cast into particularly high relief since Fiorina went into the debate intent on branding Hillary Clinton as a liar. "Her track record of lying about Benghazi, of lying about her e- mails, about lying about her servers," is something Hillary will have to answer for, Fiorina bellowed in the debate.
Now it may seem odd to call this a press failure when I'm about to cite several press organizations that quickly noted all these distortions and outright lies. But this is always the case with a press failure of this magnitude. Someone is always making the point here or there. But it doesn't take shape as part of the narrative of what happened in the debate or the campaign. That's certainly the case here. Vox, ABC News and Esquire have each in one way or another been all over this. But the reality of what Fiorina did in this debate and a number of earlier press encounters is totally absent from the basic themes of the post-debate coverage.
Fiorina has a habit of simply making things up. In the case of the parts of the Planned Parenthood videos, the way she made it up seems to verge on the pathological. Again she says she saw something in these videos that completely wasn't there. And she doubled down on it the next day. This is just lying through your teeth or just being so indifferent to whether things are true or not that it amounts to the same thing.
Why is the press ignoring or hushing this up? It's almost always a matter of laziness. Hillary is the shifty-eyed liar, Rick Perry was the dolt, Obama is stand-offish and cerebral. Everybody has their cliche or caricature through which all their actions are understood. Confirmatory news is kept; disconfirmatory news is tossed aside. To an important degree, this is simply human nature. We all do it to some degree in our daily lives. But journalists have special responsibilities to look past caricatures and the familiar. In this case, they're failing that test. You should not be able to tell a slew of small fibs in a big debate and one mammoth one and not have it become part of the campaign discussion at all.
Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock.