Lying In The Bed They Made: Severe Conservative Syndrome And The Fall Of The GOP


With the religious right and the Tea Party in firm control of the primary process, the GOP has gone down the rabbit hole. The puppeteers of the party made their bed. Paul Krugman makes the argument that now they have to lie in it, and it will be a long time before they come back.

Start with Rick Santorum, who, according to Public Policy Polling, is the clear current favorite among usual Republican primary voters, running 15 points ahead of Mr. Romney. Anyone with an Internet connection is aware that Mr. Santorum is best known for 2003 remarks about homosexuality, incest and bestiality. But his strangeness runs deeper than that.

For example, last year Mr. Santorum made a point of defending the medieval Crusades against the “American left who hates Christendom.” Historical issues aside (hey, what are a few massacres of infidels and Jews among friends?), what was this doing in a 21st-century campaign?

Nor is this only about sex and religion: he has also declared that climate change is a hoax, part of a “beautifully concocted scheme” on the part of “the left” to provide “an excuse for more government control of your life.” You may say that such conspiracy-theorizing is hardly unique to Mr. Santorum, but that’s the point: tinfoil hats have become a common, if not mandatory, G.O.P. fashion accessory.

Then there’s Ron Paul, who came in a strong second in Maine’s caucuses despite widespread publicity over such matters as the racist (and conspiracy-minded) newsletters published under his name in the 1990s and his declarations that both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Act were mistakes. Clearly, a large segment of his party’s base is comfortable with views one might have thought were on the extreme fringe.

Finally, there’s Mr. Romney, who will probably get the nomination despite his evident failure to make an emotional connection with, well, anyone. The truth, of course, is that he was not a “severely conservative” governor. His signature achievement was a health reform identical in all important respects to the national reform signed into law by President Obama four years later. And in a rational political world, his campaign would be centered on that achievement.

But Mr. Romney is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and whatever his personal beliefs may really be — if, indeed, he believes anything other than that he should be president — he needs to win over primary voters who really are severely conservative in both his intended and unintended senses.

So he can’t run on his record in office. Nor was he trying very hard to run on his business career even before people began asking hard (and appropriate) questions about the nature of that career.

Instead, his stump speeches rely almost entirely on fantasies and fabrications designed to appeal to the delusions of the conservative base. No, President Obama isn’t someone who “began his presidency by apologizing for America,” as Mr. Romney declared, yet again, a week ago. But this “Four-Pinocchio Falsehood,” as the Washington Post Fact Checker puts it, is at the heart of the Romney campaign.

How did American conservatism end up so detached from, indeed at odds with, facts and rationality? For it was not always thus. After all, that health reform Mr. Romney wants us to forget followed a blueprint originally laid out at the Heritage Foundation!

My short answer is that the long-running con game of economic conservatives and the wealthy supporters they serve finally went bad. For decades the G.O.P. has won elections by appealing to social and racial divisions, only to turn after each victory to deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy — a process that reached its epitome when George W. Bush won re-election by posing as America’s defender against gay married terrorists, then announced that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security.

Over time, however, this strategy created a base that really believed in all the hokum — and now the party elite has lost control.

The point is that today’s dismal G.O.P. field — is there anyone who doesn’t consider it dismal? — is no accident. Economic conservatives played a cynical game, and now they’re facing the blowback, a party that suffers from “severe” conservatism in the worst way. And the malady may take many years to cure.

via Severe Conservative Syndrome – NYTimes.com.

Here’s hoping. If progressives in this country can show middle America how these radical ideals would set the country back a hundred years, we may be able to shift the arguments back to reason.

The Penn State Rape Timeline: Who Didn’t Do What When


Maureen Dowd lays out the timeline:

Paterno was told about [the rape] the day after it happened by Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant coach who testified that he went into the locker room one Friday night and heard rhythmic slapping noises. He looked into the showers and saw a naked boy about 10 years old “with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky,” according to the grand jury report.

It would appear to be the rare case of a pedophile caught in the act, and you’d think a graduate student would know enough to stop the rape and call the police. But McQueary, who was 28 years old at the time, was a serf in the powerfully paternal Paternoland. According to the report, he called his dad, went home and then the next day went to the coach’s house to tell him.

“I don’t even have words to talk about the betrayal that I feel,” the mother of one of Sandusky’s alleged victims told The Harrisburg Patriot-News, adding about McQueary: “He ran and called his daddy?”

Paterno, who has cast himself for 46 years as a moral compass teaching his “kids” values, testified that he did not call the police at the time either. The family man who had faced difficult moments at Brown University as a poor Italian with a Brooklyn accent must have decided that his reputation was more important than justice.

The iconic coach waited another day, according to the report, and summoned Tim Curley, the Penn State athletic director who had been a quarterback for Paterno in the ’70s.

Curley did not call the university police, who had investigated an episode in 1998 in which Sandusky admitted he was wrong to shower with an 11-year-old boy and promised not to do it again. (Two years later, according to the grand jury report, a janitor saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy in the showers and told his supervisor, who did not report it.)

Curley waited another week and a half to see McQueary, who told the grand jury that he repeated his sodomy story for Curley and Gary Schultz, a university vice president who oversaw campus police.

Two more weeks passed before Curley contacted McQueary to let him know that Sandusky’s keys to the locker room had been taken away and the incident had been reported to The Second Mile, the charity Sandusky started in 1977.

Prosecutors suggest that the former coach, whose memoir is ironically titled “Touched,” founded the charity as a way to ensnare boys. They have charged Sandusky, now 67, with sexually assaulting eight boys he met there.

Despite knowing of the two similar rapes, The Second Mile did not do anything to keep Sandusky away from vulnerable children until 2008.

Curley said he told Sandusky he could no longer bring children onto the Penn State campus. In other words, Jer, if you want to violate kids who live in cow town where everything revolves around the idolatry of Penn State and Paterno, kindly take them off campus. The predator was still welcome on his own, though; he was spotted at the football team’s weight room working out last week.

Curley told the university president, Graham Spanier, about the matter, and it got buried. Paterno, Curley and Schultz disingenuously claim they were left with the impression that the contact might have been mere “horsing around,” as Curley put it. That’s grotesque.

Like the Roman Catholic Church, Penn State is an arrogant institution hiding behind its mystique. And sports, as my former fellow sports columnist at The Washington Star, David Israel, says, is “an insular world that protects its own, and operates outside of societal norms as long as victories and cash continue to flow bountifully.” Penn State rakes in $70 million a year from its football program.

Paterno was still practicing for the game against Nebraska on Saturday, and supportive students were rallying at his house. This is what Israel calls “the delusion that the ability to win football games indicates anything at all about your character or intelligence other than that you can win football games.”

via Personal Foul at Penn State – NYTimes.com.

Law Firm That Hosted Foreclosure Costume Party To Close


Well, it couldn’t happen to a nicer company:

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A New York law firm that specializes in foreclosures and was criticized for a Halloween party that mocked the homeless will close, a spokesman said Monday.

Steven J. Baum P.C., one of the largest-volume mortgage foreclosure firms in New York, filed notice of mass layoffs with the state Department of Labor and local officials, indicating at least a third of its employees would lose their jobs. On Monday, spokesman Earl Wells III confirmed the law firm would close altogether.

While it had been on the radar of federal and state investigators for some time, the Baum firm became the target of widespread public ire last month after The New York Times published pictures from its 2010 Halloween party, which showed people dressed to look homeless and part of the office decorated to resemble a row of foreclosed homes.

One person had a sign around her neck that read: “3rd party squatter. I lost my home and I was never served,” apparently mocking the explanation of some homeowners facing foreclosure proceedings. The Times said the pictures were provided by a former employee.

About three dozen protesters from the Occupy Buffalo movement against corporate greed picketed outside Baum’s offices last week.

via Steven J. Baum P.C., Law Firm That Hosted Foreclosure Costume Party To Close.

Will The USA Ever Care About Education Again? #OccupyWallStreet and the Argument For Education


I understand the Tea Party’s fascination with the educational system in our country. It’s a well documented fact that the NEA is a very strong union, and very strong unions support the left very strongly. And then those ivory-tower-eggheads (or pinheads if you prefer) ram all those socialist, atheistic, liberal ideas into the poor unsuspecting children of good God-fearing Christians. And the science (also liberal!) also shows conclusively that the more education you get, the more likely you are to be a liberal. 

But the Tea Party, by most accounts, is only about 11 % of the population. While I will grant you that a much larger percentage are anti-education Republicans, is there really a majority of Americans who now believes that education is the problem, rather than the solution?

I look to the largest growth of wealth in our country, and the largest growth of the middle class: the “baby boom” after World War II. An excellent case can be made – and one few in the right wing would disagree with – that the GI bill, and low-cost college education, went hand in hand with the technology boom and our country’s increasing dominance on the world manufacturing stage.

I won’t go into all the “Good Christian” reasons for destroying public education here, and I also concede that there is little big-business support for higher education left, as more technical work can be done much cheaper in India and China. I wonder if it is even something the left is even still fighting for? Once again, Nicholas Kristof becomes our national Moral Compass:

Occupy Wall Street is shining a useful spotlight on one of America’s central challenges, the inequality that leaves the richest 1 percent of Americans with a greater net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent.Most of the proposed remedies involve changes in taxes and regulations, and they would help. But the single step that would do the most to reduce inequality has nothing to do with finance at all. It’s an expansion of early childhood education.

Huh? That will seem naïve and bizarre to many who chafe at inequities and who think the first step is to throw a few bankers into prison. But although part of the problem is billionaires being taxed at lower rates than those with more modest incomes, a bigger source of structural inequity is that many young people never get the skills to compete. They’re just left behind.

“This is where inequality starts,” said Kathleen McCartney, the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, as she showed me a chart demonstrating that even before kindergarten there are significant performance gaps between rich and poor students. Those gaps then widen further in school.

“The reason early education is important is that you build a foundation for school success,” she added. “And success breeds success.”

It’s a critical argument. Occupy Wall Street has started a real discussion among the middle class. I hope we are turning our attention to reality again; that we can have reasonable discussions about important things, not just shouting matches. And that will take some education.

Read the rest here: Occupy the Classroom – NYTimes.com.

Forced to the Left: Ted Kaufman on The Volcker Rule and #OccupyWallStreet


The worst part about the whole Right Wing shift to the batshit-crazy, bible-and-guns, black-guy-who-sounds-like-the-Grand-Wizard Far-Right is how far they’ve dragged the needle. The middle – the hated liberals – are now in Reagan country, and Nixon is the socialist who created the EPA. Someone like Eisenhower is now so far to the left his policies would be laughed out of the Democratic caucus along with Dennis Kucinich.

Which brings us to the Volcker Rule. It’s too reasonable, which is why I don’t think it will become law again. But Ted Kaufman still hopes for reason:

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are being characterized as to the left on the political spectrum. But there is nothing left-wing about wanting what was for many years seen as a very conservative approach to bank size and risk. I have no doubt that Glass Steagall or something very much like it will eventually once again become the law of the land. The only question is how much agony all Americans have to endure before it happens.

read the rest here: Ted Kaufman: The Volcker Rule and Occupy Wall Street.

But Will They Listen: America’s ‘Primal Scream’ – NYTimes.com


The more I read (in my admittedly progressive-leaning mainstream media purview) the more I think the word is, in fact, getting out. But who’s listening? Is this just another version of the “human microphone” where we just chant to hear ourselves chant?

The frustration in America isn’t so much with inequality in the political and legal worlds, as it was in Arab countries, although those are concerns too. Here the critical issue is economic inequity. According to the C.I.A.’s own ranking of countries by income inequality, the United States is more unequal a society than either Tunisia or Egypt.

Three factoids underscore that inequality:

¶The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.

¶The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90 percent.

¶In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent.

via America’s ‘Primal Scream’ – NYTimes.com.

I Like It: Occupy Wall Street’s ‘Political Disobedience’ – NYTimes.com


 

 

I think we’re all really sick of doing what the politicians tell us. Well, except for the Tea-Baggers, who don’t know they’re being controlled at all. (Bank bailouts? We were protesting bank bailouts?)

But I think it’s important to explain what the hippies are doing:

Occupy Wall Street is best understood, I would suggest, as a new form of what could be called “political disobedience,” as opposed to civil disobedience, that fundamentally rejects the political and ideological landscape that we inherited from the Cold War.

Mind you, we all know it’s not just hippies, but even if that’s what the media wants to focus on let’s agree to call it civil disobedience.

Read the whole opinion here: Occupy Wall Street’s ‘Political Disobedience’ – NYTimes.com.

Paul Krugman is going to enlighten someone, somewhere, if they can read


There are economists – Nobel Prize-winning-economists – out there who not only get it, but are trying to get the word out:

As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow, the response from the movement’s targets has gradually changed: contemptuous dismissal has been replaced by whining. (A reader of my blog suggests that we start calling our ruling class the “kvetchocracy.”) The modern lords of finance look at the protesters and ask, Don’t they understand what we’ve done for the U.S. economy?

The answer is: yes, many of the protesters do understand what Wall Street and more generally the nation’s economic elite have done for us. And that’s why they’re protesting.

If you can read this, pass it on and save a brain from atrophy:  Wall Street Loses Its Immunity – NYTimes.com.

There I Said It: Elizabeth Warren Is Hot


Brains are beautiful. Eloquence is sexy. Intelligence equals better sex.

The fact is Elizabeth Warren is going to be way better in bed than your average beauty queen. As an example, I give you Sarah Palin.

A completely non-sexual view of Elizabeth Warren’s brain is here: Elizabeth Warren’s Appeal – NYTimes.com.

Are we condemned to relive the Great Depression?


It was actually philosopher George Santayana who said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.  Joe Nocera, writing in the New York Times, gives the phrase several new references.

 

The tragedy of Washington today, as the supercommittee begins its task of finding $1.2 trillion in cuts, is that nobody seems to remember the lessons of “Since Yesterday” — and most other books about the Great Depression.

 

Cutting deficits always sounds good. Certainly, nobody wants the inflation that runaway deficits can produce. But in a depressed economy, cutting spending can lead to deflation, which is every bit as ruinous. To read “Since Yesterday” at this particular moment — with the economy hanging in the balance, with President Obama’s jobs program already voted down in the Senate, with fiscal policy so stubbornly focused on the wrong things — is to fear that we are headed for worse times ahead, not better times.

And does anyone really think that history – or any form of book learnin’ – is going to inform the current GOP, bent only on destroying the sitting administration and willing to destroy the country to do it? One of the side effects of so completely demonizing Obama is you begin to believe that anything you do to beat him is worth it.  

 

Read the rest here: The 1930s Sure Sound Familiar – NYTimes.com.

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