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The Grand Old Tea Party

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Here is Grover Norquist speaking in a Los Angeles Times article about the Tea Party:

Once there were Republicans who voted for tax increases, but they aren’t here any more.… The Republican Party has largely absorbed the message of the Tea Party movement. 

So, essentially the same folks who once railed against the government and the establishment in 2008 in Washington are the establishment in Washington.

GOP puts its tea party ‘civil war’ behind it.

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Written by Jeremy

May 24th, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Sterling takes delusion to a whole new level

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Although Donald Sterling actually said the words that he was “so sorry” and “so apologetic” for offending millions of black people, including those on his own team, the rest of Anderson Cooper’s interview with the former Clippers owner sounded as bad or worse than the initial tape. Notice that he said he was “sorry that so many people are hurt,” not that he was sorry for making the remarks. He continued to slam Magic Johnson’s character, wrongly saying that he’s got AIDS, and adding that the former basketball star is not a good role model, although the Magic Johnson Foundation reaches thousands of people in the inner cities each year. He also called Anderson Cooper a racist and blamed the media for blowing the tapes out of proportion. Perhaps even most egregious was his apparent comparison to how Jewish communities help people in need versus black communities. Just stunning.

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Written by Jeremy

May 13th, 2014 at 9:15 pm

In God we don’t trust

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Funny how “small government” conservatives want to have their cake and eat it too by using the engines of government only when it serves their purposes, say, when local officials want to put “In God we trust” on public property:

‘In God We Trust’ signs in Roane sent to committee.

I think it violates the Constitution for the slogan to be national motto at all and for it to be printed on our currency, and indeed, before 1956, “e pluribus unum,” or “out of many, one” was unofficially the national motto. I think President Roosevelt posed a salient objection from a religious standpoint, noting that printing God’s name on money was sacrilegious. Likewise, from the Christian worldview, wouldn’t the act of plastering God’s name all over carnal places of businesses, schools and courthouses in some way diminish his holiness?

The debate about “In God we trust,” of course, ignores the rather obvious point: We don’t actually trust God as a nation and never have. If we did, we would leave all the heavy lifting to him, entrusting God to sort out financial crises, intervene in global affairs, fight terrorism and bring international criminals to justice. But no. The federal government handles all of these because we know — even if only a few of us will admit it — that if we had sat around trusting God to get stuff done and move history forward, the world would have imploded long ago.

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Sadly, they are completely serious

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supremecourt

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Written by Jeremy

March 28th, 2014 at 12:02 am

Who’s going to neuter Arpaio?

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., remained defiant in the face of another court order this week that he will probably just ignore. As The New York Times reported it, judge G. Murray Snow of United States District Court “strongly rebuked” Arpaio for not following the court’s previous order and for mocking the judge:

Ten months ago, Judge Snow ruled that Mr. Arpaio and his deputies had systematically profiled Latinos, targeting them for arrest during raids at day-laborer gathering spots and detaining them longer than other drivers during traffic stops. The subsequent order from the judge, who found that the sheriff’s office had violated the constitutional rights of Latinos, came with several requirements, including the appointment of a monitor to field complaints and oversee compliance.

But at the hearing on Monday, Judge Snow said that Mr. Arpaio and the chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, had blatantly flouted his order, pointing as evidence to a video of a briefing that the two men held in October for a group of rank-and-file deputies who participated in a crime-suppression operation in southwest Phoenix. In the video, Mr. Sheridan called Judge Snow’s order “ludicrous” and “absurd,” and compared the restrictions the courts had placed on them to those imposed on the beleaguered New Orleans Police Department, whose officers, he said, “were murdering people.”

“That tells you how ludicrous this crap is,” Mr. Sheridan of the judge’s order, as a videocamera recorded his every word.

Mr. Arpaio spoke next, telling the deputies, “What the chief deputy said is what I’ve been saying,” adding, “We don’t racially profile, I don’t care what everybody says.”

Arpaio said nothing during the hearing, but told the press, “We’ll be appealing this case anyway. Stay tuned.” Rather than hitting Arpaio with a penalty at this hearing, Snow told the sheriff that if his department committed more violations, he would impose restrictions like forcing Arpaio to hire more monitors to ensure compliance. Snow already ordered that one monitor be brought in to serve as a check against discrimination.

To underscore his points, Judge Snow asked that the lawyers on both sides of the case prepare a summary of his order and that Mr. Arpaio and his deputies use it as a training tool, ideally to make sure none of it was misinterpreted. He also asked both sides to sign a letter attesting to the intentions of the order, which Mr. Arpaio’s lawyers said they would have to discuss before accepting.

So in essence, Arpaio is going to more or less continue his hack campaign against Hispanics in his own county, while his lawyers talk about whether to accept Snow’s order. How broken is our legal system when attorneys get to converse over an order before accepting it? What happened to a judge making a ruling as the final authority and forcing compliance, or else be held in contempt?  After learning that Arpaio and his deputies remain defiant and probably have no intention of carrying out his order, why was Snow so lenient? Why did Snow just “strongly rebuke” the sheriff and not hold him in contempt? Arpaio needs to be taught the  lesson that no one is above the law.

Andrew Cohen, with The Atlantic, made as strong a case as any for Arpaio to be held in content and fined until he complies:

If you or I behaved like this, if we violated a court order so defiantly after a case about willful disobedience of the Constitution, we would be held in contempt. And that’s what should have happened to Arpaio Monday. None of this patient deference to officials of another branch of government. None of this separation-of-powers politesse. The sheriff should have been held in contempt, and fined, until he was willing to publicly apologize (to the judge, at least) and also to convince Judge Snow that he understands at last that the Constitution belongs not to him but to all of the people he serves.

It’s not that he doesn’t get it. It’s that he gets it and still doesn’t care. The more the feds press him, the more the constitutional violations pile up, the more he’s able to lament to his supporters that he is the real victim here. This lawsuit, this court order,  surely will be a talking point when Arpaio finally runs for governor. The real victims, of course, are the citizens of color in Maricopa County who still suffer under his yoke. To them,  the contents of that ugly videotape aren’t a revelation. They’ve been living with that attitude for years. And if Arpaio wins his next race perhaps all of the citizens of Arizona will get to experience it, too.

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Written by Jeremy

March 27th, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Party devoid of substance

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The Iraq War could end up costing $6 trillion, at the expense of domestic programs, personal freedoms and a Jeffersonian-like expansion of federal power. One can pretty easily tell just how hypocritical and empty is the rhetoric of neocons and small-government conservatives. Not only has the GOP’s foreign policy platform been disingenuous and akin to saying one thing and doing another, Republicans in Washington have for the last six years essentially collected a check from American taxpayers for doing nothing, whether from cock blocking Obama at every turn, and in some cases, to the nation’s detriment, to wasting time passing nonbinding and symbolic repeals of the Affordable Care Act.

It really is shameless, as Jon Stewart duly notes here:

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Written by Jeremy

March 27th, 2014 at 7:51 pm

The failed Tea Party experiment

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I’ve been writing about the Tea Party’s lunacies on here since the spring of 2009 (Here is my first substantive post about it). As I’ve tracked the trajectory of this experiment in political unrest, I think it’s safe to say the party is all but toast at this point, and here’s why.

Tea Party members have essentially corroded the GOP from the inside out, and in a sign that more moderate, “establishment” Republicans are pulling back the reins on these folks, House Speaker John Boehner and GOP leaders announced recently that they were going to support a “clean,” no-attachments increase to the debt-ceiling, despite some leaders in the party insisting on a list of demands. Attaching demands to the legislation did not have enough support, it died and the actual “clean” bill passed the House on Tuesday.

The Atlantic’s Molly Ball has an excellent article up about the Tea Party’s evolution these last few years, and its eventual acceptance of typical machinations in Washington. As she traces the changes in the party, which as we know is the ultra-conservative, borderline libertarian fringe of the Republican Party, members swept into Washington riding Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber’s popularity and were ready to pounce on and destroy every single one of Barack Obama’s goals, with some conservatives talking heads even wishing that Obama fails at everything he tries to accomplish in the White House. In short, Ball said, the Tea Party came into Congress in 2011 on a “wave of denial and anger.”

teapartyflag

The nation came close to disaster in 2011 when Tea Partiers nearly destroyed the concessions Boehner was planning to make with Obama to keep the U.S. from defaulting on its loans. This would be one of the first in a series of numerous showdowns between more moderate House Republicans, like Boehner, who at their core understand that in some cases, compromise is a necessity and tough decisions have to be made for the betterment of the nation — even if they won’t say this publicly — and the lunatic wing of the GOP.

As Ball put it:

The 2011 showdown was revealing. Previously, the idea of default was so unthinkable that observers and markets didn’t consider it a possibility. But the confrontation showed how far the new House majority was willing to go. They weren’t looking for compromise; they wanted the whole loaf. They weren’t just mad. They were convinced—erroneously—that they had the power to undo Obama’s agenda entirely from their perch controlling one-half of one-third of the federal government. They were in denial.

And in late 2013, the conservative camp forced the nation into a government shutdown, causing undue hardship on the Americans they claimed to care about back in election season. They then proceeded to eat a shit sandwich by subsequently accepting a deal to reopen the government, as Ball points out, that was actually worse than the one they were going to get previously. Now, as the GOP bullheadedly forced the government’s hand, took a sizable ideological step against the grain and managed to somehow make the public even less trustworthy of government with their asinine denials of reality, the only thing left for the Tea Party is acceptance, and well, dissolution.

Ball concludes:

This is how Washington works: Certain things have to get done, and you try to get the best deal you can, and then move on to the next thing. This is basically what Boehner has been trying to tell his caucus for the last three years, but they had to figure it out for themselves. Now that they’ve achieved acceptance, will Boehner’s job get easier? Or will a new wave of mad-as-hell representatives rise up in protest?

If Tea Partiers would have had the brains to realize all this from the start, they could have saved us all, and the nation, a lot of heartburn. They played a dangerous game that took the nation to the brink, and now, with absolutely nothing to gain from it except more angry constituents and some dusty lapel pins, they will more than likely be forced henceforth to ride the bench.

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Written by Jeremy

February 12th, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Token black folks featured in GOP ads

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I have long-since characterized Black History Month as outdated and insulting — African American journalists Cynthia Tucker and Rochelle Riley have offered similar sentiments — because it continues to support the idea of two Americas, rather than honoring the breadth of our nation’s upward climb toward civil rights and cultural solidarity.

Nonetheless, in the GOP’s latest move to try to shore up support among groups of people they have spent decades disparaging, the Republican National Committee has rolled out a series of Black History Month ads honoring blacks leaders of the party, like Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Allen West, Louis Sullivan etc.

Here is one of the ads:

CNN opinion writer Andra Gillespie makes a couple important points about how the GOP’s strategy to cater to the black vote lacks perspective and an understanding about why black and Latino voters tend to vote liberal:

Some Republicans rightfully point out that during the civil rights movement, Southern Democrats tried to block passage of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts. They forget, however, that in the past 50 years, white Southern Democrats (both racists and non-racists) have gradually shifted their party identification to the Republican Party. They don’t account for the fact that GOP has admitted to (and apologized for) purposely using racially coded language to win over racially resentful whites in the wake of the civil rights movement.

And they ignore data that confirm that while black political views have moderated in the past generation, blacks still tend to prefer a stronger federal state and greater governmental intervention, in large part because they perceive the federal government to have done a better job than state and local officials at protecting civil rights.

Take Scott’s statement in the video above, in which he tells us, in his best affluent white person voice, about some sage advice he received from an unnamed “individual that came along”

who taught me that you have to earn success. He taught me to think my way out of poverty. He taught me that in America all things are possible.

And the GOP wonders why they can’t get support from the black and Latino communities? Asinine statements like this should provide a clue. I wonder what would happen if Scott took his luxury vehicle down to the ghetto or barrio and told an 18-year-old kid on the street that he should just think his way out of poverty.

Personally, I don’t understand what people like Scott are doing. Really, I don’t understand how a black person comes to identify with a party that has done so little to bolster inner cities or make health care accessible for poor people. Historically, the conservative party in America has never really had black people’s best interests at heart, and the GOP only seems to feign interest when election time rolls around by adding a few token folks of color to their ranks or blowing out hot air about helping people help themselves. You know why more blacks and Latinos don’t support the GOP? Because they aren’t credulous enough to take the bait.

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Written by Jeremy

February 6th, 2014 at 8:03 pm

The 1 percent as persecuted Jews. Yes, he went there.

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Here is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at ridiculous analogies between modern attacks on the so-called “1 percent” on Wall Street and attacks on Jews in Nazi Germany. Tom Perkins made the most recent analogy, comparing the strategy to some kind of new Kristallnacht only to later apologize. I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for people who say outlandish things in public, and then when they get some heat for their honest opinions, recant. If you are going to be a hyperbolic, bat shit crazy conspiracy theorist, I say go all the way and apologize for nothing.

In any case, The Atlantic’s Matt O’Brien rightly called this comparison “historically illiterate and grossly short on perspective,” and he also offered some reasons why the super rich are feeling paranoid these days with their power diminished. More thoughtful Americans, I hope, now see that “fat cats” in Washington and Wall Street do not have America’s best interest at heart, in fact, I would wager that is true very little of the time. Rich people are rich for a reason; they have expendable income, they know how to game the system and they depend on having success to maintain their lavish lifestyles.

Read the full story here: Why Do the Super-Rich Keep Comparing Obama to Hitler? – Matthew O’Brien – The Atlantic.

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Written by Jeremy

February 1st, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Obama’s legacy

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I get really tired of conservatives types on Twitter and Facebook propagating bullshit and falsehoods about Barack Obama’s record since taking office. I’m definitely not one to sing his praises without also being critical. He has yet to close Gitmo as promised, and he has more or less been a centrist president, towing the cautious line, since taking office. But my more optimistic self hopes the folks who criticize Obama simply don’t like his political stance on the issues; more cynically, I sometimes think that the tireless hatred runs deeper.

Take this meme I found on Facebook today posted by a white conservative:

obama

Why do people think the president has direct control over things like the price of gas and employment? It’s not that simple. In any case, let me address a couple of these points. Gas was at $1.50 or so when Bush II took office. By 2008 when he left, it was at $3. It dipped way down to just over $2 in 2009 and after some fluctuations it’s been holding steady at about $3. To say it has doubled is an exaggeration at best. As for unemployment, Obama critics like to talk about how many people dropped out of the workforce in a given time period as if that’s an important measure. The important measurement is the unemployment rate. Sure, the jobless rate was at 5 percent when Bush II left office. It climbed to just under 10 percent in 2010 and has steadily declined since. Right now, it’s at 6.7 percent. That’s not ideal, I guess, but not a catastrophe like conservative types might like to imply.

And to answer the above question, I will remember Obama for helping to ensure that thousands of sick people with pre-existing conditions who would otherwise be shit out of luck can get covered and will on longer go broke because of their medical bills, no thanks to the insurance companies, and for overseeing the assassination of the most wanted terrorist in American history, again, no thanks to Bush II.

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Written by Jeremy

January 22nd, 2014 at 12:53 am

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