Monthly Archives: May 2010

Memorial Day: who do you rememeber?

Memorial Day: some of us aren’t around for the festivities anymore:

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Rand Paul and the birfer/teabagger summer

I don’t know if Paul is a birfer and am assuming that he’s not. But he certainly seems to be a teabagger and the people he seems likely to appeal to are largely birfer/teabaggers.

He says he’s not personally racist, and I’ll grant him that as well. But he supports the rights of businesses providng pubic services — and benefiting from government services such as roads, sewers, police, fire, health departments, business districts, etc — should have the right to discriminate against people on the basis of race, disability, sexual orientation and, it would seem logical to presume, gender and any other reason.

That is in line with hard core libertarianism that says it’s okay for me to sell you poison baby food because after your baby and X number of other babies dies, people will not buy my product and I will go out of business. The market will have spoken.

Thankfully, a large majority of Americans don’t share this (Ayn) Randian point of view. As I have been predicting, these are just a few more of the opening skirmishes in what will be a bloody and damaging civil war among the rightwing Republicans.

Demint, Cantor and Cornyn have delayed with ‘no comments’ today but they can’t dodge the question much longer.

With immigration on the national mind, things are only going to get more difficult and uncomfortable for the Republican leadership. One only has to look at the comment threads in general readership sites, and especially at rightwing sites such as redstate, to see that a large chunk of the rightwing Republican base agrees with Paul and doesn’t like the way the leadership is going ‘squishy’ on the issue.

In addition to the immigration debate, whatever form it takes and in whatever venues, there is also the birfer/teabagger demand for ‘full repeal’ of the hcr bill. Additionally, we now see candidates pulling back on their pledge to the birfer/teabaggers to repeal the 17th amendment.

That’s the one that allows for popular election of senators rather than election by state legislatures. Somehow, the birfer/teabaggers are convinced that this amendment was a mortal blow to the liberty of individual citizens and want to repeal it.

Again, as with most birfer/teabagger policy positions, this one is not supported by a majority of Americans who will be voting in 2010, 2012 and every two years thereafter.

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And now begins the birther summer

The still prevailing narrative is that Democrats will suffer great losses in the fall and Republicans might take over the house and make strong gains in the Senate, even if they might not win both houses. This narrative has been the conventional wisdom for months now and, while it has been getting push back for awhile, it still qualifies for the title of conventional wisdom.

For months, I’ve been writing and saying that I think this is overblown. Yes, historical trends favor the Republicans as the out of power party in the first midterm election. Yes, the birfer/teabagger brigades are vocal and enthused. Yes, the economy is not yet fully recovered. Yes, there is a general feeling of anti incumbency and there are more Democratic incumbents than Republican incumbents. And yes, many progressives and Democrats are less pumped than in 2008.

But I don’t think it’s going to be as bad for the Democrats and progressives as the prevailing narrative is predicting. They will probably lose seats in both houses; but I doubt they’ll lose either of their majorities.

Despite efforts to tamp it down, there will be a civil war on the right. There was a minor freak out yesterday over the fact that a muslim Arab-American won a beauty pageant. It was a tempest in a teapot, but it was still illustrative of the nativist racism that animates so much of the animosity of the birfer/teabaggers.

Even if congress doesn’t act on it, immigration and immigration reform will be part of the debate. This is bad for rightwingers and Republicans because, not only does it alienate latinos and other immigrant groups as well as young people generally, it encourages loony rhetoric, especially from the types of older white people who like to complain in public about their liberties and country being taken away from them and how they, as older white christians, are the most persecuted group in America today.

That’s not exactly a formula for victory for the rightwing Republicans. The leadership knows this, but the base is clueless about their lack of broad appeal.

The base is largely isolated. They watch Fox, listen to talk radio, visit far right sites and mainly only talk politics to people who agree with them. The vastly overestimate the popularity of their views. But, fueled by this misapprehension regarding how many people share their beliefs and prejudices, they are ready to let their freak flag fly.

Like the apocryphal American tourist who shouts louder and more slowly when confronted with people who don’t speak English, the birfer/teabaggers, who are just the far right segment of the rightwing Republicans with new names, become louder and more shrill when they see their message isn’t getting the widespread approval they were so sure it would.

If you thought last summer’s ‘town hall’ meetings featured petulant, whiny baby boomers, wait till this summer. There will be rallies and protests galore. And the anger of the birfer/teabaggers will be directed just as much at the rightwing Republican leadership as at the Democrats, progressives, liberals, immigrants, young people, etc, etc…

When they encounter negative public reaction to their extremism, they will blame the leadership for ‘pulling punches.’ They will get more extreme and the leadership, becoming more and more afraid of their prospects in the general, will pull further and further away. Each factions’ actions will fuel the other’s reactions and it will get increasingly ugly.

And many of their potential supporters will either vote for Democrats or stay home.

Then, after the Republicans under perform, the leadership will blame the extremism of the base and the base will blame the punch pulling of the leadership. The disarray could last until after the 2012 elections.

Now, this could of course be overly optimistic. What if the Republicans do better than I predict, even perhaps taking the House?

I’d still think the base, and in this case the leadership as well, would take the wrong message. They would feel empowered and run to the right in 2012, which, I’d contend, would be a mistake.

Basically, I believe the rightwing Republicans created a monster when they ramped up their fringe base. Whether it’s sooner or later, there will be a backlash against the extremism. When — and whether — that actually happens remains to be seen. But I predict it will come sooner rather than later and that this summer will set off the backlash.

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Predictions and threats of violence are increasingly frequent in rightwing discourse

The usual chest thumpers at redstate are all in, calling everyone to the left of Dubya “evil,” comparing Obama to a tyrant and predicting blood:

The Difference Between Them and Us
Obama as King George III or There will be blood [updated]
Mike DeVine’s Rule of Blood, Munich and the Rule of Law, and the Hanging of Jake Spoon

And Think Progress has this from the Heritage Foundation. After Cantor finished a speech attacking Obama over the failed Times Square car bomb, a questioner asks him why Obama shouldn’t be called a ‘domestic enemy.’ Here’s the transcript and video, both via Think Progress [emphasis in original]:

QUESTION: My question is – and this is something I personally don’t understand – if it’s a naïve question then I apologize: in light of what Obama has done to leave us vulnerable, to cut defense spending, to make us vulnerable to outside enemies, and to slight our allies, how (pause) – what would he have to do differently to be defined as a domestic enemy? (applause)

CANTOR: Listen, let me respond very forthright to that: you know, no one thinks the President is a domestic enemy. (boos)

Cantor is a savvy politician and, to his credit, he denies that the label is appropriate. But he doesn’t do so until after he laughs at the suggestion that Obama should be called a “domestic enemy” and lets his smile linger while the crowd laughs along.

Then they boo him for saying that the democratically elected president should not be called an enemy of the country. Had this exchange not been in front of cameras, do you think he would have just stuck with his first instinct?

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