04 March, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

A possible answer to the nefarious or stupid question:

It's the subject of perennial debate: when Republican officials repeat obvious falsehoods, are they deliberately trying to deceive, or are they just woefully confused?

While there are compelling cases to be made for each side, once in a while we get strong evidence for the latter. For example, Dick Spotswood, a California-based columnist, visited Washington, D.C., last week, and spent some time on Capitol Hill. He shared this tidbit (via Kos) from his notebook:

Met with Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack from Riverside County's Coachella Valley. While a social moderate, Sonny Bono's widow is a solid conservative. Talked to her about Obama's $780 billion stimulus legislation. She's outraged that the plan has "$1 billion wasted on a magnetic-levitation train from L.A. to Sin City" -- all at Nevada Sen. Harry Reid's doing.

After expressing my doubt that the Las Vegas line was actually in the bill's language, Bono Mack directs her staff to "get him the bill, it's right there, show him." A few minutes later, a staffer emerges with a copy and quietly says "it's not in the bill."

Excuse me a second.


Ye gods, these people are dumb. And it gets better. Oh, my, yes it does:
The New York Times' Maureen Dowd celebrates John McCain's earmark crusade today, and devotes a full-fourth of her column to re-printing McCain's Twittered-list of "pork" in the omnibus spending bill. It went back over familiar ground:
$200,000 for a tattoo removal violence outreach program to help gang members or others shed visible signs of their past. "REALLY?" McCain twittered.

Now, in reality, we know that the anti-gang expenditure is money well spent. It's a small investment that makes a big, life-saving difference, and has been heartily endorsed by law-enforcement officials. McCain didn't know that when he complained about the "pork," and neither did Dowd when she added it to her column. Neither, apparently, thought to check.

And that's the problem with cherry-picking earmarks for the purpose of ridicule. Jon Chait explained today that McCain's anti-earmark technique "is to focus on programs that mention animals or food, or anything that sounds silly. He's clearly not interested in learning whether any of the programs he targets have merit."

To Cons, spending money on useful things = bad. Spending money on usless things, however - as long as they have guns attached - is a-ok:

As ThinkProgress previously noted, defense contractors are lobbying the Obama administration to purchase and build more expensive F-22 fighter jets, a weapons system that hasn’t been utilized at all in either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. Last night on CNBC, CAP’s Larry Korb debated neoconservative pundit Frank Gaffney about the utility of purchasing more F-22s. Gaffney argued that cutting the program would lead to “diminished military capability, emboldening enemies, and alienating our friends.” CNBC’s Donny Deutsch agreed, offering this nonsensical commentary:

You know, basically defense spending only went up 4 percent in Obama’s budget. Historically, it’s been going up 9 percent. So that tells me it’s a small piece of the pie. A lot of guys concerned we don’t have these 22s and 35s, we are less safe. That’s all I gotta hear. […]

I’m a hawk. The day that we are not on top of the game. To me, it creates jobs. The fact — just keep spending, we gotta get safe. This is an ugly, ugly world today. If I hear a lot of military guys concerned about this, that’s all I gotta hear. [emphasis added]

So, military spending = blank check. I now have a solution to our problem with confounded Cons. Make everything part of the military budget. And add gun turrets. Voila.

How we'd add gun turrets to tattoo removal, I'm not sure. How much room is on the lasers? Oh, wait, they're lasers - all we have to do is rename them!

And McCain's current crusade against solar power in Oregon? Add a weapons system to the solar panels. He doesn't want to hate on our troops, now, does he? This has such possibilities.

We need to do something. The stupid's completely out of hand. You know it's extreme when David "Diapers" Vitter is on again about family planning:

This is painful on so many levels.

With his 2010 reelection campaign looming, Sen. David Vitter (R-Very Serious Sin) is beating his family values drum.

The Louisiana senator has introduced an amendment to the omnibus spending bill before the Senate to drastically cut funding for family planning programs.... His family-planning amendment is one of dozens of social-related measures Vitter has introduced this Congress as he seeks to shore up his bona fides with conservative voters.

Lest we forget, Vitter hasn't exactly shown himself to be a paragon of family values, which may be why he's aggressively traveling his state trying to woo social conservatives in the face of potentially serious primary challenges in a race filled with zany characters.

So, Vitter wants American women and their families to suffer so he can score some cheap points, while praying his constituents overlook his unfortunate hooker habit. The irony of having a philandering politician, who arranged pay-for-sex schemes from the floor of Congress, target family planning funding is apparently lost on Vitter altogether.

Not surprised. When you have people who can't quite figure out what's actually in spending bills, what exists only in their fevered imaginations, and what exists but is desperately needed/popular/good for the economy, you can't really expect a man who hires hookers to dress him up in diapers to understand that family planning funding that reduces abortions and saves states money might not be the thing you want to attack. Especially when you are the kind of many who likes to hire hookers, etc.

Can we please just disqualify Cons from contributing to the public discourse until they learn how to think?

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