It happened slowly, didn’t it? The change in the Republican Party? I don’t know. Maybe it’s nostalgia. There have always been the wild, vicious voices of the right. The devil on the shoulder of the conservative movement that whispers in its ear, “burn it down, burn it down.” But those voices were to be ignored, humored, tolerated, placated, or just deceived. That was the way of things, and we were protected by the obvious: people who believe foolish things tend to be easy to fool.
Then it all changed. The Republican elite caught a ride on the tiger. But the tiger got sick of waiting for the gazelles it was promised, the gazelles that were always one election away. The tiger was hungry and angry and tired of being used and the longer it waited the more appetizing the elite on its back became. So the tiger got a radio station and a news channel. The tiger got organized and mobilized. And finally the tiger realized it didn’t need someone kicking its sides telling it which way to run and who to eat and when to eat and why it wasn’t time to eat and the time to eat would come, don’t worry, you’ll eat soon enough.
So the tiger ate its master and now here we are.—
…This moment in American political life is insane. That a group of narrow-minded zealots could push us to the brink of economic ruin, that they maintain a base of support in their frenzied, quixotic, incompetent gambit, that there is an apparatus that exists to defend this kind of nonsense—it came on us slowly but it is no less an emergency. This is broken. This cannot go on.
And if you can’t see that then it’s not just the world that’s gone mad. You’re crazy too.
(thanks/via: The Atlantic)
Shutdown architect Ted Cruz said he was doing God’s work the last couple of weeks bringing the US (and the world) to its economic knees. In 1452 the Pope was doing God’s work when he decreed, with the Dum Diversas, that Spain and Portugal might invade, capture, subjugate, and enslave human beings. The Pope said God endorsed “perpetual” slavery:
"We grant you [Kings of Spain and Portugal] by these present documents, with our Apostolic Authority, full and free permission to invade, search out, capture, and subjugate the Saracens and pagans and any other unbelievers and enemies of Christ wherever they may be, as well as their kingdoms, duchies, counties, principalities, and other property […] and to reduce their persons into perpetual slavery.
It appears that negotiations over the federal budget deficit are about to begin once again, and presumably Senate Republicans will insist that Obama and the Democrats give way on taxes and spending in exchange for reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling for at least another year.
But keeping the government running and paying the nation’s bills should never have been bargaining chits in the first place, and the President and Democrats shouldn’t begin to negotiate over future budgets until they’re taken off the table.
The question is how thoroughly President Obama has learned that extortionist demands escalate if you give in to them.
(read complete post at robertreich)
We have elected an ungovernable collection of snake-handlers, Bible-bangers, ignorami, bagmen and outright frauds, a collection so ungovernable that it insists the nation be ungovernable, too.
We have elected people to govern us who do not believe in government. We have elected a national legislature in which Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann have more power than does the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who has been made a piteous spectacle in the eyes of the country and doesn’t seem to mind that at all. We have elected a national legislature in which the true power resides in a cabal of vandals, a nihilistic brigade that believes that its opposition to a bill directing millions of new customers to the nation’s insurance companies is the equivalent of standing up the the Nazis in 1938, to the bravery of the passengers on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, and to Mel Gibson’s account of the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 13th Century. We have elected a national legislature that looks into the mirror and sees itself already cast in marble.
We did this. We looked at our great legacy of self-government and we handed ourselves over to the reign of morons.
This is what they came to Washington to do — to break the government of the United States. It doesn’t matter any more whether they’re doing it out of pure crackpot ideology, or at the behest of the various sugar daddies that back their campaigns, or at the instigation of their party’s mouthbreathing base. It may be any one of those reasons. It may be all of them. The government of the United States, in the first three words of its founding charter, belongs to all of us, and these people have broken it deliberately. The true hell of it, though, is that you could see this coming down through the years, all the way from Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address in which government “was” the problem, through Bill Clinton’s ameliorative nonsense about the era of big government being “over,” through the attempts to make a charlatan like Newt Gingrich into a scholar and an ambitious hack like Paul Ryan into a budget genius, and through all the endless attempts to find “common ground” and a “Third Way.” Ultimately, as we all wrapped ourselves in good intentions, a prion disease was eating away at the country’s higher functions. One of the ways you can acquire a prion disease is to eat right out of its skull the brains of an infected monkey. We are now seeing the country reeling and jabbering from the effects of the prion disease, but it was during the time of Reagan that the country ate the monkey brains.—
Before 2001, 11 September was universally identified as the date of another attack on democracy: the day, precisely four decades ago, when Augusto Pinochet ended hope of a progressive, socialist and pacifist democracy in Latin America, by leading a bloody military coup in Chile.
The brutal attack on the citizenry of the small nation entailed a sustained period of violence during which Pinochet’s regime employed torture, disappearances, and the systematic and selective death of thousands of people – all the while touting messages of reform and progress.
By contrast, the attacks of 2001 were an indiscriminate massacre by foreign terrorists, and America’s response was as swift and powerful as one might expect from the world’s most potent military superpower. The message was clear: actions against the US have dire consequences.
But the reactive “war on terror” has had many consequences of its own, ushering in an era of great restriction on rights and civil liberties, and making commonplace the use of torture, renditions, and other perverse tactics. Far from contributing to safety, these actions have jeopardized the manifold achievements in international human rights laws and norms from the last century that serve to protect the global public.—
Remembering Chile’s 9/11: democracy’s final triumph over General Pinochet by Baltasar Garzón for The Guardian points out the parallels between Pinochet’s horrible disregard for human rights and the trampling of the same by the US.
(thanks/via: The Guardian)
More appalling facts from the same opinion in the NY Times:
With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has almost one-quarter of the world’s prisoners….
…When almost 1 percent of Americans are imprisoned (and a far higher percentage of men of color in low-income neighborhoods), our criminal justice system becomes a cause of family breakdown and contributes to the delinquency of a generation of children. And mass incarceration interacts with other government policies, such as the way the drug war is implemented, to have a disproportionate effect on African-Americans. Black men use marijuana at roughly the same rate as white men but are more than three times as likely to be arrested over it.