Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How to Stop Ted Cruz? Stop the Presses!

Ted Cruz, that notorious commie-hunting senator from Texas channeling a certain notorious mid-20th century commie-hunting senator from Wisconsin, is just one in a long line of rock star politicians who think they've latched onto the best way to get their cockamamie ideas across:  Get out there and make shocking accusations against either individuals or authority with such astounding stagecraft, the press, the media--indeed, a sizable section of the population--will become such slathering groupies they won't know what hit them.  They will lift you onto their shoulders and carry you along to Celebrityville without a thought to what you're actually saying or why you're saying it.

It helps if you can muster such vitriolic anti-government sentiment there's no chance your minions will consider that you might be fudging it when you insist the Obama administration is "bound and determined to violate every single one of our Bill of Rights", or there are still godless communists lurking around yearning to yank the capitalist bones out of all of us, or there are members of your own party who are working against you when all you're trying to do is save millions of hapless citizens from certain disaster.

It helps if you don't recognize that the disaster is you.  Much easier to pull it off if you can convince yourself you're really on a mission to help and not destroy.  (But if you must destroy, remember you're only destroying in order to, yes indeedy, build a better. . .ah, who cares?  You've got 'em right where you want 'em.)

That's Ted Cruz.
Anyone else think Ted Cruz isn't just channeling Joe McCarthy, he thinks he is Joe McCarthy?  I have to give it to him:  He has McCarthy down to a tee.  He looks like him, he talks like him, he acts like him.  Compare the two side by side and there's no getting around the resemblance.  The shifty eyes, the strategic pauses, the weird gesticulating, the signature haughty-talk--through his teeth, using his nose and not his diaphragm for the air intake, the over-the-top, anti-everything rhetoric.  It's all Senator Joseph R. McCarthy.

We've all noticed it, and there's a reason for that:  Ted Cruz wants us to notice it.  It's a major part of his grand strategy.  He's sure he knows us better than we know ourselves.  He wants us to believe there are evildoers around every corner.  Sometimes they're so well disguised we might not even recognize them.  But he does.  He knows who they are..

Never mind that more than three-quarters of the country--including a good number of his own Republican colleagues--wishes he would take his Joe McCarthy Tribute Show off the road and retire it forever.  There's only one thing that could make Ted Kruz happier right now, mere weeks after coming off of his triumphant Shut the Country! tour--if he only had a real-life Edward R. Murrow dogging his every step. 

Cruz, not to be outdone by his doppelganger, lives for attention.  Dana Milbank addressed it in a piece he wrote as the Cruz-instigated government shutdown ended and the Republicans were forced to do damage control:
Cruz left the reporters after a few minutes, but when he noticed the TV lights and microphones outside the Senate chamber, he stopped and reversed himself. After repeating his statement for the cameras, he took a question from CNN’s [Dana] Bash, who pointed out that there has been “a lot of bruising political warfare internally, and you’ve got nothing for it.”

“I disagree with the premise,” Cruz informed her. He said the House vote to defund Obamacare, rejected by the Senate, was “a remarkable victory.”

It was a revealing statement: For Cruz, the victory is not the achievement but the fight.
 Exactly.  Ted Cruz hasn't yet come to the end of Joe McCarthy's story.  It ended for McCarthy when the press finally tired of the phony drama, finally came to grips with the depth of destruction (and possibly their own roles in it),  and turned its back on him.  When Joseph Welch uttered the now famous words, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?" it was as if the dawn broke and, in an instant, the darkness ended.  (Full text here) The crowds, the politicians, the press, cleared the room, leaving McCarthy behind.  He was heard saying to no one in particular, "What happened?  What did I do?"  Nobody answered.  He was done.

And someday soon, hard as it will be for him to believe it, Ted Cruz will be done.  It will happen when the press decides it's time and not a moment before.  They hold his celebrity and his power in their hands and if they've learned anything from the past,  I hope they've learned there is no honor in building up demagogues simply for their own peculiar enjoyment.

I look forward to the day when they're finally over that.

Cross-posted at dagblog and featured on Alan Colmes' Liberaland 

Picked up on Crooks and Liars MBRU.  Thanks, Tengrain!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Medicare and Obamacare: Same Old Story

Note:  Thanks to Alan Colmes, I am now a regular contributor on his website, Liberaland.  He posted this piece this morning, so if you're interested in reading the complete piece it continues over there.  Thanks.
In the next town over from us the recycling station is in a huge semi-trailer.  You have to climb six narrow metal steps to get up into it, but there is an aisle you can walk down and there are huge open boxes in which to throw your stuff.

The beauty of it is that while I’m dropping off my own recyclables, I can dig through the newspaper and magazine bins to see what’s there for the taking.  Through the years we’ve found some fascinating reading, some of it as current as yesterday, but last week we found a treasure trove:  Seventeen Consumer Reports magazines, ranging from1965 to 1980.

What struck me as I read through them was how much actual watchdogging went on within those pages; and what lengths they went to explain their findings. Page after page of small print, as if they actually anticipated that their readers would want to take the time to read it all. (No internet, no cable. I get it. But still. . .people read this stuff.  They read it.)

Back in June, 1966, their headline story was about the new Medicare law taking effect in July. The law was complicated.  Every aspect of health insurance, hospitalizations, physician and pharmacy services, and medical goods had to be considered.  Nothing like it had ever been done on such a large scale before. The Government was poring an estimated $3 billion plus into it during the first year alone. Who would pay for what?  Who would gain the most?  Who would lose the most?  (Sound familiar?)

(Continue here. . .)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Threat of Obama's Worst Enemies

Leaving aside the usual suspects--the terrorist factions round the world, the seething Middle East mountain and desert folk--who are President Obama's worst enemies? The Republicans who saw it as their mission to keep him from winning a second term but failed? Those 30 members of the House and the Tea Party now holding the country hostage over an already approved health care plan nicknamed after this president? The Religious Righteous? The far Left disillusioned? The whites-only-as-long-as-they're-not-women crowd?

Let's face it, the possibilities are endless.  This president has enemies. Some of them would have been his enemies no matter where or what, but many others--too many others--didn't think to hate him until someone else told them to.

They're the ones I worry about.  When someone like Larry Klayman, the head of Freedom Watch, tells a Tea Party crowd we have a president who "bows down to Allah"  and then says, "I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up,"  that is not a Martin Luther King-inspired call to reason, it's a call to insurrection.

There are people out there who will hear that and it will sound to them like a call to action, not against the government but against this one man. This man who, they've been led to believe, is so all-powerful he has managed to gain control of a country that is not even his.  With that crowd he is and always will be unworthy, a usurper.  He does not belong and the haters will never get over having that man, that black man, in the White House.

They'll deny that it's about race, but it's about race.  A glance at any Right Wing website's comment section should be enough to scare the bejeesus out of anybody, including Barack Obama.  They don't just want him gone, they want him dead. 

Pick a demagogue--Palin, Cruz, Paul, McConnell, Bachmann, Gohmert.  Any one of them.  He or she, I guarantee you, will not repudiate a single word coming from the Right Wing Tea Party ranters.  The ranters are useful.  They spread the fear and bring in the votes.  But if anything bad ever happens to this president, those agitators fueling the fire will be shocked. . .shocked, I tell you!. . .that something like this could happen.  They will not have seen this coming.

But we will have. The haters are in a rage over Obama's win of a second term.  Now the cries for impeachment, the only other legal choice, are swirling.  If that doesn't work--and it won't--what then?  The foaming masses have been conditioned to go after Obama, to stop him, no matter what it takes.  In their minds something must be done.

And it only takes one.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Charlie Pierce's Brilliant Take on The Electeds out to Destroy our Government. We Did This. (Well, not ME)

Have you read this?  Charles Pierce is a genius at grabbing the god-awful truth and shining bright lights on it.  His latest Esquire piece, "The Reign of Morons is Here", is pure Charlie--raging, brilliant, and, of course, spot on: 
We have elected the people sitting on hold, waiting for their moment on an evening drive-time radio talk show.
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.
 And this:
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.
But you really need to read the whole thing.  In a nutshell, it is what we've done to ourselves.  It did, in fact, start with Ronald Reagan. and many of us could see the handwriting on the wall even then.  He wasn't called "the Teflon president" for nothing.  The press saw a sunny personality and a gift of gab, loved reporting on this former-actor-turned-President of the United States, and ignored what was really coming out of his mouth.  His mission was to decentralize and eventually decapitate a government that, on looking back fondly now, was working just fine for most of us.

Bill Clinton, instead of working to fix the path to destruction, followed the yellow brick road.  Outsourcing and off-shoring gained a friend, much to our dismay.
George W. Bush proved to the crazies that they could win as long as they kept their leaders mediocre and clueless and talkin' like good-ol-boys.  
And Barack Obama, given the gift of an entire progressive movement standing by his side and ready to go to work, blew it almost from the start by bringing in Wall Street cronies and by thinking beyond any reason that he could compromise with people who made it crystal clear their main goal was to destroy him.

So here we are.  They're doing what they've promised to do:  they've already shut down the government, if even just temporarily, and if we've got it right--got their message--this is only the beginning.   
If the people who voted those crazies in, and are still cheering them on, can't be persuaded to do the right thing and get them out of there, we either have to do a better job of convincing them, or we have to give in and enjoy the ride.
I don't know about you, but I'm with Charlie.  No way in hell are we going to do that.