From Ted's A-1 post this morning:
I've just added Chuck Thompson's new book to my Holiday Season shopping list. The book is called Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession.
It's central thesis is that we Northerners would have been much better off letting the South walk 150 years ago -- and it's not too late to correct our mistake.
I'm thinking of giving the book as a present to a Christian fundamentalist in-law of mine who recently de-friended me on Facebook after I told her the Chick-fil-A anti-gay marriage show of solidarity she'd participated in was not about free speech or imagined "censorship" but rather the demand by far right religious conservatives like her to make other people conform to their "biblical worldview" without complaint or contradiction.
So she de-friended me! For not capitulating to her biblical worldview! I'm thinking of attaching a "Happy Holidays" label to the box just to piss her off.
Only one of my daughters, the youngest, is still speaking to me after I questioned the barrage of crass racist cartoons, Fox News style race baiting soundbites, demagoguery and outright openly expressed hatred... not for Democrats or even "Liberals" but for Barack Obama personally... being expressed by the rest of them, mainly by the second youngest but always "liked" shared and echoed by a couple of the others whom she facetiously refers to as her "minions", on their Facebook accounts.
Since taxes were the lowest ever, corporate profits were among the highest ever, unemployment was actually increasing in the private sector even as the "growth" of government in terms of public sector employment was actually down from the Bush years... I was simply asking them why they so blindly hated Barack Obama, who not that many years ago would have been considered a conservative, when they were getting everything they claimed they wanted.
I just asked them to look deeply into their motivations and see just what it was they hated so much about this man since the things they were claiming it was all about were patently false and included talking points that had been thoroughly debunked months or even years ago because I was pretty sure that, given the nature of most of the attacks on PBO by those from the extreme right... most of whom live in the old Confederacy and have racism as ingrained into their psyches as an autonomous function of the nervous system that they can no more dispel than they can dispel the need for oxygen... it played a role
I was immediately unfriended by the second youngest, with whom I thought I had been fairly close for the past several years, for "accusing her of racism" (and by her son... my 11 year old grandson which gives you some idea about how right wing THAT family is) but who couldn't resist making sure that every one else on her friend's list knew what a total asshole she thought her father was... and two of the others haven't spoken to or addressed me in any manner since except for one last little jab by one of them about that "horrible and hateful" stuff I write on my blog.
When political considerations trump family you begin to realize that this is how far hatred for Obama, ignited by millions of corporate dollars and fanned by a bevy of Rush Limbaugh wannabes, has taken over a lot of people out there and why we can NOT take anything for granted no matter how sorry the candidates the other side have paraded in front of us.
There are enough people who won't even really know who Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are and won't be voting for them, but who will be simply voting against Obama, to bring this race into the realm where the crooked voting machines and a stacked SCOTUS can once again be the deciding factor. We can't afford complacency based on any kind of poll numbers or anything else because as we have seen, being the "majority" doesn't mean much anymore in a country where politicians are openly bought and sold in an open market and even if your side loses, you can still keep the other guys from accomplishing anything.
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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Sunday said that presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's plan would "preserve Medicare," and insisted that President Barack Obama was the one with "blood on his hands" for stealing money from the program.
NBC host David Gregory reminded Priebus that Ryan had proposed to "change Medicare as we know it" into a voucher system.
"That would hurt the social safety net," Gregory noted. "All of those are facts, are they not?"
"Medicare is going broke," Priebus remarked. "This president stole -- he didn't cut Medicare -- he stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare."
"If any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it's Barack Obama," he continued. "He's the one that's destroying Medicare."
"We are the ones that are offering solutions as to how to -- number one -- preserve Medicare for seniors that are at or near retirement, and -- number two -- figure out a way to make sure that for future generations -- we're talking about if you're 54 or younger -- how to save Medicare and Social Security."
Priebus added that Romney "appreciates and admires the work that Paul Ryan has done."
"They're going to share a lot of ideas to get this country back on track," the RNC chairman explained, but "Mitt Romney has his own plan."
From the sound of this, they don't know, at the Romney campaign, what the purpose of this ad was and how it took root. They apparently don't know that the Obama campaign ran an ad accusing Romney of murder, essentially. Stephanie Cutter is backing it up. The woman did die. Romney got rich. He closed the plant. Husband lost the job. Wife got sick and died. Romney made out like a bandit.Ouch. Called out by a bloated bloviating gasbag for confessing that he set the wheels in motion for someone's wife to die AND for failing to rally around a homophobic fried chicken (bad fried chicken, no less?haven't these people ever heard of Popeye's) binge? Thank goodness Mitt has his diary to turn to for comfort.
Well, she'd-a had health insurance if she lived in Massachusetts. You couple that with there was a lack of understanding or desire to join the Chick-fil-A day? I mean, that's your base out there.
If voter suppression goes forward and Romney narrowly prevails, consider the consequences. An overwhelmingly and increasingly white Republican Party, based in the South, will owe its power to discrimination against black and Latino voters, much like the old segregationist Dixiecrats. . .In other words, these Republicans systematically coming up with 11th hour limitations on voting rights are either cheating, lying white supremacists, aka Public Enemy's KKK in 3-piece suits, or pandering to them, to the shame of the entire nation. Of course, that doesn't mean they want everyone else to know that. (Except for the voters actually being suppressed?Republicans genuinely don't care if they know.) But word's getting out, slowly but surely, since the more desperate Republicans become the more obvious they become. It's hard to keep it on the down low when the imminently anointed Republican presidential candidate is happy to lie about his opponent's record on "welfare reform" knowing that those subscribe to their brand of "we ain't racists!" racist thinking will eat it up like smores on a camping trip. Thank goodness, there are still some observant people willing to call out these increasingly desperate and subversive-to-the-country racist electoral strategies.
And what should Democrats do if Romney comes to power on the strength of racially suppressed votes? Such an outcome and such a presidency, I?d hope they contend, would be illegitimate ? a betrayal of our laws and traditions, of our very essence as a democratic republic. Mass demonstrations would be in order. So would a congressional refusal to confirm any of Romney?s appointments. A presidency premised on a racist restriction of the franchise creates a political and constitutional crisis, and responding to it with resigned acceptance or inaction would negate America?s hard-won commitment to democracy and equality.
The course on which Republicans have embarked isn?t politics as usual. We don?t rig elections by race in America, not anymore, and anyone who does should not be rewarded with uncontested power.
I love it when newspapers and other traditional media get on indy blogs for having "no editorial standards" and then lo and behold, ish like this blows up. The "problem" started with an story containing an interview with Pennsylvania activist Steve[...]
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Vote for Tarryl this Tuesday.
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Thanks to David for this video.
What more can I say? The comedy continues to write itself:
CHARLOTTE ? Mitt Romney requested ?several? years of tax returns from his potential running mates, a senior adviser to the candidate said Saturday, suggesting that those considered for the ticket may have been required to reveal more financial documents that the candidate himself.
In a briefing with reporters in Virginia Saturday, senior adviser Beth Myers, who was charged with headed the vice president selection process, declined to specify exactly how many years of tax returns were required, saying only that ?several? were requested.
Several, by definition, implies more than two years.
Tim Pawlenty told George Stephanopoulos on ?This Week? this morning that he gave ?several? years of tax returns to Mitt Romney during the vice presidential vetting process. Pawlenty said he didn?t remember the exact number of years. He later said he gave Romney a ?bunch? of tax returns.
When pressed about what ?several? meant, Pawlenty said ?We don?t get into the details of the vetting process.?
I've just added Chuck Thompson's new book to my Holiday Season shopping list. The book is called Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession. It's central thesis is that we Northerners would have been much better off letting the South walk 150 years ago -- and it's not too late to correct our mistake.
I'm thinking of giving the book as a present to a Christian fundamentalist in-law of mine who recently de-friended me on Facebook after I told her the Chick-fil-A anti-gay protest she took part in was not about free speech or "censorship" but rather the authoritarian demand by far right religious conservatives that other people accept their "biblical worldview" without complaint or contradiction.
So she de-friended me! In defense of free speech and against censorship! For not capitulating to her biblical worldview! I'm thinking of attaching a "Happy Holidays" label to the box just to piss her off.
The book's author is a veteran travel writer who toured the American South and came away with the conviction that the North and South remain very different societies and are as bitterly divided as ever. But instead of being torn between free states and slave, this time the nation's "irrepressible conflict" is over religion, and fundamentalist religion in particular.
Thompson argues it was always unrealistic to expect that a modern, cosmopolitan North premised on Enlightenment values and rationalism would ever see eye-to-eye with a provincial South steeped in Biblical literalism. And so, maybe we would all be better off if we just shook hands and went our separate ways. That, at any rate, is what the South has wanted all along.
In an interview on AlterNet that was reprinted in Salon, Thompson says today's polarized and dysfunctional politics is just the most obvious manifestation of cultural tensions that date back hundreds of years.
It is not too much of a stretch, for example, to liken Republican abuse of the Senate filibuster during the four years since a liberal black man was elected president to the threats of Southern nullification and secession before the Civil War.
Nor is conservative hysteria over reinstatement of a Fairness Doctrine that would force Rush Limbaugh to give equal time to liberal points-of-view all that different from the "Gag Rule" Southern "fire-eaters" imposed on the US House of Representatives which prevented anti-slavery petitions of any kind from even being discussed in Congress. Congressman John Quincy Adams, as a matter of fact, was formally censured by the Southern-dominated House after the former president (and staunch abolitionist) repeatedly trespassed on the terms of the South's anti-democratic efforts to prevent disagreement with their peculiar way of life.
"A lot of these problems have been deeply entrenched in American society long before this dysfunction befell our political system," says Thompson. "Politics is really only one way in which the South is quite a bit different in the way it approaches its society. I think religion is the really big factor here, and I think that's what's really not going to change in the South."
Fundamentalists and other "religious lunatics" exist in all 50 states, says Thompson. But only in the South do they have a controlling majority.
"Only in the South can you appeal to voters in very overtly religious terms and expect success on a consistent basis," says Thompson. "That's not to deny that this exists in the rest of the country. It does, but in the South is where its power base is."
No one who has had the opportunity to spend significant quality time in different parts of the country, as I have as an Air Force brat, can doubt that severe barriers to communication and understanding exist between those living in separate regions. And this disagreement extends beyond positions on specific issues or support for different parties and affects the way we understand democracy itself.
For simplicity's sake, residents of Blue States see democracy as a means by which differences are resolved. For the residents of Red States, on the other hand, democracy means one's constitutional and God-given right to live as one pleases - subject only to the taboos and conventions of ones kin, faith and clan - no matter the impact that "freedom" has on others deemed "outsiders."
Boston, where I now live, could not be more different culturally and temperamentally from Montgomery, Alabama where I grew up. I am acutely -- often painfully -- aware of the gulfs which now separate my political and social views from those of my good friends and family who embrace, for lack of a better term, the Southern worldview.
When Boston Mayor Tom Menino sent a letter on City stationary to "urge" the president of Chick-fil-A to "back out of plans to locate in Boston," those of us who live in this godless, cosmopolitan city viewed the Mayor's letter as politics-as-usual -- just the sort of blustery broadside you'd expect in a big, diverse city made up of many warring tribes where politics ranks third behind hockey and football as our favorite contact sport.
However, when Menino told the Chick-fil-A brass that Boston was proud of its support for same-sex marriage "and our work to expand freedom to all people," and so "there is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail" and no place for Chick-fil-A alongside it, social conservatives were aghast.
Conservatives saw the Mayor's verbal rebuke as "punishment" of someone "just" for their "opinions" - censorship by any other name -- and so as an uncalled for and impermissible slur against the honor of their way of life. And so religious conservatives turned out by the tens of thousands to stand for hours in the hot sun to buy a chicken sandwich so as to defend their unchallenged right to religious worship against imagined enemies on the secular left.
Culture is determinative of both politics and economics, as Mitt Romney recently reminded us. And the fact is that the fundamentalist mindset, if not religious fundamentalism itself, is a very poor cultural fit for democracy.
That, says Thompson, "is the piece of the puzzle that informs the politics of the South."
Fundamentalist Christianity "is the least tolerant of any sort of diversity or diversity of opinion," says Thompson. "It's Bible literalism. Everything is true and you adhere to everything; it's black and white."
I suspect that Thompson is using the idea of secession less as a genuine proposal than as a literary device to emphasize how different the North and South really are. But when the majority of people in a society exhibit a fundamentalist mindset, and that mindset becomes the basis for an entire region's social framework, Thompson is not wrong when he says a fundamentalist politics is the natural result as well. "So we get that same sort of blinkered view of humanity by politicians in the South who come up to the North - we get this absolute, no compromise stance between these hardcore conservatives and other politicians."
A pivotal year in American political history was 1994 when the Republican Party retook Congress for the first time since the New Deal and did so with far right factions led by Southern reactionaries like Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey and Trent Lott - the guy who said we all would have been better off had Dixiecrat segregationist Strom Thurmond won the 1948 presidential election instead of Harry Truman.
Before the Southern takeover of the GOP, Thompson said it was usual for Republicans and Democrats during the 1980s to fight it out within the rules, norms and conventions of the larger democratic consensus. The famed Tip O'Neill/Ronald Reagan "give-and-take" was the prime example.
This is how politics works, says Thompson. "It's the art of compromise. The ruling power says to the opposition: 'We won the election, so we're going to get these big things. Don't give us too much trouble and we'll work with you. We realize you have a constituency. Let us get our big things through without a lot of hassle, and we'll make sure you're taken care of on some level.' That's sort of how it has worked for the most part."
But that's not how politics works now, not since the South took charge of the GOP. The South is "different," says Thompson. In the Southern worldview "empathy" is a dirty word (as we learned from Alabama Senator Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III) because it implies putting oneself in another's shoes and so leads to seditious thoughts of race and class treason.
Neither is there "such a thing as compromise," says Thompson. "If it's God's law that is driving you -- if God says gay marriage is an abomination, if God says abortion is an abomination -- then you simply can't compromise. That's not in your DNA if you really believe that. That's where I think a lot of the dysfunction of our political process comes into play."
There are reasons, as I have said before, why New England and the Deep South have always been natural antagonists, bitter rivals even when allied within the same political party.
The habits of negotiation, compromise and governance learned by New England's Brahmin elders as they managed unwieldy coalitions of Yankees, WASPs, Italians, Jews and others so as to compete with the Irish Catholic Democratic machines that ran Boston and other big cities, could not be more different from the assumed prerogatives of brute force and power that were taken for granted by the Deep South's white Christian majority. It was this Southern white majority that viewed politics not as "the art of compromise" or a means for building peaceful and harmonious communities, but rather as "war by other means" in which an embattled majority fights to protect its way of life against outside infiltration or contamination.
The South's view of politics is now the predominant one inside today's GOP. And that, more than anything else, explains why American politics is at an impasse and the Republican Party at a dead end.
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Mitt Romney's foreign policy experience: Bike riding in FranceTim Pawlenty, you're not a very good surrogate:
Don't assume that Gov. Romney doesn't have foreign policy and international experience. My goodness, he spent his entire career in global business arrangements, transactions, traveling and understanding different countries, cultures, geographies and the like so he gets these issues very well and probably better than the president.Let's just check the Romneyland gibberish-to-English dictionary here:
Global business arrangements = stashing his money in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
Traveling = hiding out in a French palace to avoid Vietnam.
Understanding different countries = telling other countries they suck and their houses are not the right height.
He gets these issues very well and probably better than the president = See "global business arrangements."
My goodness indeed.
Here?s my question for Sean Wilentz: where are these liberals in the power elite? Where are their liberal proposals for change we can live with short of radical transformation?[...]
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