18 April, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Michael Steele's ba-ack. And he appears to have been infected by the acute paranoiditis Cons have been suffering of late:

Steele spoke with Sean Hannity last night, and in the context of the Department of Homeland Security's report on potentially dangerous right-wing radicals, both suggested that President Obama is some kind of possible threat to national security.

Steele went on to argue, without evidence, that he's "sure" a recent anti-abortion event in Indiana featured federal surveillance.

"They've got their eye on the 3,000 Americans who assembled in Indiana last night, in Evansville, Indiana, to profess their continued effort to save the life of the unborn," Steele said, adding, "I'm sure there was somebody in the room with a notepad and a camera taking snapshots and writing down names."

Oh, yes. Because, y'know, it couldn't possibly be a reporter, say, or maybe a local liberal blogger.

Of course, he was in Rush Limbaugh's presence, and might have merely been reflecting the crazy. Limbaugh certainly overflows with it:

On his radio show yesterday, Rush Limbaugh responded to the Obama administration’s release of four of the OLC torture memos with a full-throated defense of of torture and its effectiveness for gathering useful intelligence. As evidence of the effectiveness of torture, Limbaugh noted that — in his speech to the Republican National Convention last summer — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said the North Vietnamese “broke” him while he was a POW. Limbaugh suggested that in saying the North Vietnamese “broke” him, McCain was saying that torture worked:

LIMBAUGH: The idea that torture doesn’t work– that’s been put out from John McCain on down– You know, for the longest time McCain said torture doesn’t work then he admitted in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last summer that he was broken by North Vietnamese. So what are we to think here?

Well, Think Progress did some thinking, and there's really only one conclusion here. Rush is full of shit:

Elsewhere in his memoir, McCain recalled providing false information to his captors on multiple occasions in order to “suspend the abuse.” Further, McCain explained in a 2005 Newsweek column that he believed torture would yield little actionable intelligence. “In my experience, abuse of prisoners often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear — whether it is true or false — if he believes it will relieve his suffering,” McCain wrote.

McCain was right. As the Washington Post reported last month, the torture of Abu Zubaida — who was once thought to be a high-level AQI operative — did not foil “a single significant plot” and provided the CIA with a number of “false leads.” “We spent millions of dollars chasing false alarms,” one former intelligence official told the Post. Further, “most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced.”

Why people pay attention to that assclown is something I'll never really understand.

People are paying attention to another group of assclowns, and even some Cons are coming to the conclusion that teabag tantrums may not be the best way to get the Republican party out of the wilderness:

It's been two days now since angry conservatives hosted a series of tea parties across the country, and the fallout has some Republicans nervous.

While the anti-tax sentiment of the protests may have been sincere, the images pulled from the events have often been offensive, embarrassing, or politically problematic.


"It is not clear-cut that the tea-party phenomena helps the GOP, unless they have a specific measure or policy (like Prop. 13 in 1978, and income tax cuts after that) to coalesce around," said Steven Hayward, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "Right now it reminds me a bit of the free-floating 'angry moderates' of 1992 who fueled the Ross Perot candidacy, and that is the hazard for Republicans I think. I think the crazies at the rallies are a problem, but probably out of proportion (they always get the media attention) to the real breadth of sentiment underneath, which I think is largely authentic."

The sentiment underneath, of course, is that an effective tax rate of 6% is a horrendous burden equal to slavery. Sane people may not quite see that as authentic, but whatever. At least some folks in the Con camp are taking the first tottering steps toward recovering from insanity, which begins with admitting that crazy racist fucktards are probably not the best public face for your party.

Things aren't exactly looking good for the Cons. They're followers are rabid. Their leaders are nuts. And this is just sad:

Former Rep. and DLC Chair Harold Ford was on MSNBC's "Hardball" yesterday, and Chris Matthews brought up the leaders in the Republican Party. According to a transcript from my reader Hoosier Paul, Ford had this to say:

"I think it also speaks to the schism and the tension in their party right now. They can't decide if they want to go the Paul Ryan/Eric Cantor route, which seems to be slightly more substantive and mindful of the fact that the country is looking for answers, and substantive answers at that, or if they want to go the Rush Limbaugh/Palin, and some would argue, even now, the Rick Perry approach, which borders on asinine...."


The problem, of course, is that if Ryan and Cantor are going to be the substantive backbone of the GOP in the coming years, the Republican Party's future is likely to be quite bleak.

Ryan, for example, recently insisted that the Obama administration's proposed budget is "worse than Europe's" budget (as if the continent has just one). He also proposed a truly insane five-year spending freeze to respond to the global economic crisis and described a massive tax cut for the wealthy, dropping the top rate to 25%, as "progressive." In fact, Ryan helped craft the House GOP caucus' budget alternative, which tried to lower the deficit by passing trillions of dollars in additional tax cuts. On taxes, spending, Social Security, Medicare, energy policy, Ryan's plan wasn't just wrong, it was demonstrably ridiculous.

And by all appearances, Cantor is slightly worse, not only endorsing Ryan's approach -- including the belief that the way out of a recession is deep federal spending cuts -- but also taking the lead in opposition economic recovery efforts in February. Best of all, this week, Cantor's office unveiled a Republican "solutions center" for Americans concerned about job losses, the housing crisis, and their savings. Every question led to the same response: tax cuts, spending cuts, or tax cuts and spending cuts.

If these are the only two lackwits seen as "substantive and mindful," they're doomed. And rallying the party round the banner of gay-bashing may not turn out too well, either:

In another example of one side losing the culture wars (not to Democrats, but to reality), check out Steve Schmidt on the topic of gay marriage:

John McCain's top adviser from the presidential campaign urged fellow Republicans on Friday to warm up to gay rights and warned that the GOP risks becoming the "religious party" with its opposition to same-sex marriage.

Steve Schmidt, in his first political appearance since the election, spoke at the Washington, D.C., convention for the Log Cabin Republicans -- a grassroots group for gay and lesbian Republicans.

He urged Republicans, in the near-term, to endorse civil unions and stop using the Bible as rationale for gay-marriage opposition.

Lest this be considered an aberration, note the Blogistan poll in National Journal, same topic:

Right-Leaning Bloggers Divided On Gay Marriage

41% of right-wing bloggers think the Cons should bravely run away from the whole issue, and Steve Schmidt's right: they're just marginalizing themselves into a rump religious fringe by being frothing anti-gay freaks. Even within their own party - a CBS poll shows the rank-and-file overwhelmingly support either marriage or civil unions for teh icky gays. Guess they're not so icky, after all.

So my question is this: when are the sane conservatives going to kick the Cons out and restore some gravitas to their party? Surely they're not enjoying the spectacle of lunatics running the asylum. Politics may be entertainment these days, but there are limits.

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