News flash

Weepin’ John Boehner can’t get his own members to vote for his debt-ceiling plan.
Amateur hour.

Weepin’ John Boehner doesn’t even control his own caucus.

He announced a vote on his dead-on-arrival debt ceiling plan at 12:30 today, and then had to postpone it indefinitely 10 hours later. He didn’t have the votes, perhaps in part because Sarah Palin threatened the House Republican freshmen with contested primaries if they voted for their own Speaker’s bill. Yes, that’s the person the Republicans wanted to put one not-very-reliable heartbeat from the Presidency.

Amateur hour.

Update Don’t you love it when it’s conservatives forming the circular firing squad?

The GOP Anti-Bachmann Campaign Begins

Fox News/Pravda has sent the word out from the RNC: Kill Bachmann’s campaign.

A few weeks after the midterms, the Republican Party elite started sending out unmistakable messages that Sarah Palin was not going to be the candidate.  She’s useful to them, but only to rouse the base.

Well, now it’s starting with Michele Bachmann:

[W]hile some on the right consider [Bachmann] an “intellectual” and a potential danger to President Obama’s incumbency, Bill O’Reilly is skeptical of her experience and appeal….

[O’Reilly noted] that, despite her economics background, “she doesn’t know where Lexington and Concord are,” referring to comments she made in New Hampshire recently confusing the towns with places in that state and not Massachusetts. “Her frame of reference is questionable at this point,” O’Reilly noted, adding that he didn’t see her having the type of experience to take on the presidency, either.

Bachmann is useful to the GOP, but the billionaires leading the party know very well she would get destroyed in the general, so they are trying to scotch it now, and sending out not-so-subtle messages through the Official Party Organ.

You might remember how, during the Soviet Union’s existence, “Kremlinologists” would try to glean who was up and who was down in the USSR by the degrees of applause in the official transcript of Party Congresses.  (“Applause…sustained applause…overwhelming applause — all rise.”).  It’s the same now, except that you glean it from the comments of Fox News hosts.  We’ll soon be seeing the same sorts of things from Cavuto and Doocy.

Blood libelled bloggers

Sarah Palins’ “blood libel” charge is itelf a blood libel.

Sarah Palin, 12 January [my emphasis]:

Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.

Video here, at 3:30m.

This has been added to the pile of Ms Palin’s semi-comic gaffes; and the blogosphere seems to be following President Obama’s magisterial call to cool it.

Sorry to break ranks, but I’m not American anyway, and I don’t think enough thought has been given to the full iniquity of Palin’s accusation.

The blood libel was, as everybody knows, the lie spread at intervals from the twelfth century (with Hellenistic forerunners) to Tsarist Russia a century ago, that Jews kidnapped and murdered Christian children for the purpose of sacrilegious anti-Christian rites often involving the desecration of communion hosts.

(Paolo Uccello, The Miracle of the Desecrated Host, 1465-69, panel 2. A Jewish pawnbroker has bought a consecrated host from a venal priest and is frying (i.e. torturing) it in a pan. Transubstantiated blood from the host is dripping from the pan and seeping under the door. Not, strictly speaking, the complete blood libel, but a closely related one.  Art historians don’t seem to understand quite what nasty stuff they are looking at. (Footnote))

But let’s put aside our disgust a moment to note some other things.

Continue reading “Blood libelled bloggers”

Sarah Palin, Still Missing in Action

Sarah Palin is everywhere from Time Magazine to the Wall Street Journal to Dancing with the Stars. Yet when it comes to disability policies of critical importance to millions of families facing similar challenges to those facing her, she remains MIA.

Sarah Palin is everywhere. She’s on the cover of this week’s Time magazine. She has a Wall Street Journal op-ed saying silly things about death panels again. She’s got a TV show. Her daughters are on Dancing with the Stars, arguing on Facebook, and whatever. Yet on policy issues of critical importance to her own family and to millions of others, she’s still nowhere to be found.

During the 2008 campaign, she promised to speak about disability policy. To my knowledge, she delivered one speech to endorse full-funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Politicians who care about something have a way of circling back to it with some message discipline. Palin seems to have dropped the subject. More than once, I have called her out on this issue. Despite my ministrations and her incredible media presence, she remains MIA.

I got angry about this all over again when I read Palin’s new book, America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag. For all the obvious reasons, this is an easy book to dislike and to lampoon. Her politics and the theology that underlies it are not particularly generous or inclusive. Palin is more impressed by Mitt Romney’s views of religion in politics than she is by John Kennedy’s, and notes Ted Kennedy’s “long career advocating positions directly at odds with his Catholic faith.”

She trashes Hollywood and “liberal feminists,” who are not true mama grizzlies. “In the name of liberating women,” she writes, “modern feminism has wrapped us in a one-size-fits-all straitjacket of political correctness.” She quotes Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism to slam various Democratic heroes. Her only comment about Planned Parenthood, for example, is that Margaret Sanger entertained unattractive eugenic views.
Continue reading “Sarah Palin, Still Missing in Action”

Health care reform politics and Kristallnacht 2010

There was a joke that used to go around about a golf game involving entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr.  Another player asked his handicap, and Davis replied “I’m a Jewish black man with one eye; how much more handicap do I need?”
This came to mind when I read the New York Times story about President Obama’s White House Seder.  It was surprisingly moving for a non-observant Jew to learn of the President’s observance of one of our rituals.  But as a Jew, I’m also slightly-and less surprisingly-alarmed on the President’s behalf.  People already accuse him of being a Muslim non-citizen; how much more handicap does he need?

It’s illuminating, though, to consider the President an honorary or metaphorical Jew, because it highlights the parallels between the hysteria attaching to Obama’s presidency and the hysteria recurrently directed at Jews.  What’s the difference between Sarah Palin’s claim that the President will operate death panels to kill her disabled child, and the classic blood libel that Jews kill Christian babies and use their blood to make matzoh?  Only the most ignorant and fearful among us could possibly believe such nonsense, and yet time and again scapegoating has worked because people have believed it and sought to eliminate imaginary threats by killing real people.

And now the President’s opponents have adopted another tactic from the anti-Semites’ playbook.  There’s already been way too much talk about Nazis in the course of debating the Affordable Care Act. But when a political group’s response to legislation comes in the form of coordinated window-smashing, only the willfully forgetful can fail to think “Kristallnacht.”

That’s the night the Nazis expressed their disappointment at a political setback by going on a simultaneous rampage all over Germany: killing Jews, beating them, setting fire to their homes and, most memorably, breaking 7500 windows of Jewish-owned shops.  The current incidents of vandalism against the offices of Congresspeople who voted for the Affordable Care Act aren’t remotely comparable in scale to that night in 1938, but they’re precisely comparable in purpose.   And the sound of breaking glass is the last thing you hear before reasoned political debate is drowned out entirely, and with it genuine self-government.

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor is apparently among the willfully forgetful.  His response to the outbreak of violence among those who share his political positions was to claim that he, too, had been the target of political violence and-more important-to blame the Democrats for making public what had occurred. In other words, he claimed victimization while blaming the actual victims.

Consider, if you would, the Wikipedia account of Kristallnacht’s aftermath:

More than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and taken to concentration camps . . . . After this, the Jewish community was fined 1 billion reichsmarks.

In other words, the Nazis claimed victimization while blaming the actual victims.

Let me be clear: I don’t think the people who broke campaign-office windows are actual Nazis, or that their doing so had anything to do with anti-Semitism or Jews.  The fact that Kristallnacht was organized and the latest nonsense mostly not is a big difference, as is the fact that Kristallnacht had official sanction while the window-breaking doesn’t. Everything that happens isn’t about Nazis or Jews.

Being Jewish nonetheless provides a useful set of historical sense memories, and the sound of glass splintering on sidewalks is one of them.

In the early 1930s, plenty of people on the respectable German right disdained the low-class National Socialists.  They were a tool, that’s all, useful temporarily for cowing and marginalizing liberalism so the respectable right could regain political power.  By the time the respectable German right figured out that the Nazi tiger couldn’t be ridden, the whole country was already inside.

So who on the respectable American right will be the first to condemn wholeheartedly our current eruption of far-right thuggery? Apparently it won’t be John Boehner, who undercut his own criticism of the attacks by describing them as the natural result of insupportable Democratic provocation.   It won’t be Sarah Palin, who like her anti-choice allies routinely identifies opponents as “enemies” and “targets,” and like them will doubtless pretend to be surprised when someone gets murdered.   And it won’t be Eric Cantor, though as the highest-ranking Jew in the Republican caucus he might be expected to remember history and hope not to repeat it.

So is there anyone left in the Republican Party to speak out, or are they all too busy hoping the Tea Partiers don’t come for them?

Stay tuned.

“What-EV-errrr” Dep’t

Instead of being a quitter, Sarah Palin decides to … quit.
Either there’s a real scandal in the offing, or she’s just a complete flake.

So, instead of being a quitter, Sarah Palin decided to … quit.

I’m trying to remind all my friends that Palin, like Bush, is not stupid, and that calling her stupid offends tens of millions of Americans who know as little about public affairs as she does, or less, don’t consider themselves stupid, and are in fact capable of making perfectly reasonable decisions about the things they do know and care about. But I’ll certainly concede “incoherent.”

If there’s not a huge bombshell about to explode, then we can only conclude that that woman John McCain wanted to put one unreliable heartbeat from the Presidency is simply a total flake.

(Also, of course, a hopless liar:

I think, though, much of it for the kids had to do with recently seeing their baby brother Trig mocked and ridiculed by some pretty mean-spirited adults recently.

I’ve seen Sarah Palin mocked for using her baby as a political prop, but who’s been mocking little Trig?


Full text at the jump. It’s substantially cleaned up from the audio version.

Continue reading ““What-EV-errrr” Dep’t”

The evil tongue

Sarah Palin’s daughter’s fiance’s mother’s legal problems are really none of anyone’s business.

C’mon, folks. You know better.

Sarah Palin’s daughter’s fiance’s mother’s legal problems are really none of anyone’s business.

If we thought the governor’s officer had gone to bat for her, that would be different. But the arrest, if it shows anything, is that the proteksia wasn’t in place. She’s innocent until yadda yadda yadda. And whatever she did, it’s not the fault of her son, or her son’s bride, or her son’s bride’s mother. So how about some decent silence here?

From the Language Police blotter: “dilemma”

A logical situation, not a practical one.

Properly speaking, a “dilemma” is a logical situation, not a practical one.

When Hank Paulson had to decide between betraying his ideology with a bailout and risking the collapse of the financial markets by letting Lehman Brothers go down, that wasn’t a dilemma: that was just a tough choice.

A dilemma is a situation in which one of two propositions must be true, and either one wrecks your argument.

For example:

Either the nasty stuff about Sarah Palin the McCainiacs are leaking to the press is true, or it is false.

If it’s false, McCain chose a bunch of backstabbing liars to run his campaign.

If it’s true, he chose a greedy, ill-tempered, ignorant vulgarian to be the President of the United States in case of his death or disability.

In either case, McCain wasn’t fit to be President.

Spirit-of-generosity Dep’t

We should defend Our Sarah from the McCainites’ attacks. We owe her. And as the weakest possible Republican candidate for 2012, she’s too valuable to give up without a fight.

Michelle Malkin’s defense of Sarah Palin from backbiting by McCain loyalists deserves support from all good liberals.

Partly, this is just good incentive management. When someone does you a big favor, you ought to do what you can to show that you’re grateful. And Sarah Palin just did us a huge favor, at considerable cost not only to her career but to her dignity. Without the Katie Couric interview, the result might have been much closer. Not only did she drive grown-up conservatives into the Obama camp, she solved the “Jewish problem” all by herself. Folks, we owe her.

More than owing her, we need her. I’m confident that the Obama Administration will have a record that will allow him to coast to re-election even against a serious opponent. Still, why gamble? Personally, I’d much rather have Palin to run against in 2012 than Huckabee.

So when anonymous Republican sources talk about Our Sarah’s innocent clothing-acquisition spree as “the Wasilla Hillbillies looting Nieman Marcus from coast to coast,” we should stifle our laughter, remark on the low-rent bigotry of the word “hillbilly,” and try to figure out some sort of excuse for her insensate greed.

For example:

As Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska National Guard, Palin needed those clothes, including the tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of stuff for the First Dude, as a matter of national security. You wouldn’t want an inappropriately high waistline to tempt Putin into trying to take Alaska back, would you?

All right, all right, I admit it’s not very convincing. But we shouldn’t give up. Sarah Palin matters too much to let her go without a struggle.

Footnote It has come to my attention that someone has hacked into the RBC and posted a bunch of anti-Palin items under my by-line, some of them dated as far back as her selection. Please ignore those posts, which no real American could possibly have written.