Abe's blog

Teabaggin'

 So, in response to President Obama's stimulus plan and new budget, a handful of "spontaneous" conservative demonstrations have sprung up around the country. Billing themselves as "tea parties," these heartfelt outpourings of right-wing pathos are intended to channel the revolutionary spirit of the original Massachusetts rebels.

... Leading, of course, to witty sentiments like this:

... and this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At such a meeting of the minds, who knows what may have happened? Certainly there was a brisk trade in bootleg Pat Boone albums.

-A

Redneck America

Categories:

 Those of you who have listened to the show for awhile now know that I have made intermittent attempts to expose our listeners to the conservative psyche, and, in particular, those who get paid to espouse and minister to it. These attempts have met with a mixed response, divided roughly between those who, like me, find conservatives interesting in a train-wreck sort of way, and those who feel there time has been wasted merely by being exposed to what people like O'Reilly and Limbaugh have to say.

Well, I'm going to keep doing it. It's important to know the idioms and memes that drive the hardcore 25-30 percent who will always support the GOP. The End-Timers. The Good Ol' Boys. The "NASCAR Voters." It's important to understand what they're saying and how they think.

Alexandra Pelosi has made a documentary, "Right America: Feeling Wronged," which is airing now on HBO. For those of us who don't subscribe to HBO, it will probably be available for rent in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, here's a clip.

Watch it.

-A

H/T, Pandagon

What gives?

 Huh. Apparently, during the Bush administration's waning days, Cheney lobbied ferociously for a pardon of Scooter Libby. And Dubya wouldn't budge.

 

In the waning days of the Bush administration, Vice President Dick Cheney launched a last-ditch campaign to persuade his boss to pardon Lewis (Scooter) Libby - and was furious when President George W. Bush wouldn't budge.

Sources close to Cheney told the Daily News the former vice president repeatedly pressed Bush to pardon Libby, arguing his ex-chief of staff and longtime alter ego deserved a full exoneration - even though Bush had already kept Libby out of jail by commuting his 30-month prison sentence.

"He tried to make it happen right up until the very end," one Cheney associate said.

Again, huh. I wonder what's up there? Come to think of it, I didn't hear anything at all about Bush pardons. Anybody know what's going on?

-A

 

30 years gone

Categories:

 So CBS News Sunday Morning, in honor of its 30th birthday, conducted a poll using the same questions used by the CBS News/New York Times poll (and some other sources) 30 years ago.

Some of the results were pretty interesting.

 

 

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR NEWS? 

CBS/NYT L.A. Times Poll  

Now  12/1979 

Television   60%  41% 

Newspapers   14  42 

Internet   13  n/a 

Radio     7  11 

Magazines    1   2 

Talking to people  4   3 

 

Note the "n/a" next to Internet in 1979.

 

HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONS BETWEEN ADULTS 

      CBS/NYT Gallup 

      Now  11/1978 

Wrong   41%  62

Not wrong  54  25

 

There it is, in black and white. A majority of Americans now accept homosexuality as a normal state of affairs. Progress!

 

Progress on health care, too.

 

 

 

 HEALTH INSURANCE:  PRIVATE ENTERPRISE VS. GOVERNMENT? 

CBS/NYT CBS/NYT 

Now  1/1979 

Private enterprise  32%  48% 

Government – all problems 49  28 

Government – emergencies 10  12 

Don’t know     9  12 

 

A clear majority of Americans favor government-provided health care, at least in emergencies, and a near-majority favors it in all cases.

 

Take a look at the whole poll. It's an interesting three-decade snapshot.

 

-A

 

Punk'd?

Hmm. So after a resounding electoral victory, an inauguration the likes of which we've never seen, and an odd new empathic burst of shared purpose, President Obama did what now?

He followed Bush's lead on civil liberties.

 

Obama Administration Maintains Bush Position on 'Extraordinary Rendition' Lawsuit

The Obama Administration today announced that it would keep the same position as the Bush Administration in the lawsuit Mohamed et al v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.

A source inside of the Ninth U.S. District Court tells ABC News that a representative of the Justice Department stood up to say that its position hasn't changed, that new administration stands behind arguments that previous administration made, with no ambiguity at all. The DOJ lawyer said the entire subject matter remains a state secret.

It's because of that last item I listed above -- that sense of shared purpose, of belief that all of us are going to get pointed in the right direction -- that this stings so much. "Extraordinary rendition" was one of the most galling of the Bush junta's excesses. Ashcroft, Gonzales & Co. had relied upon "state secrets" privilege to prevent courts from ruling on cases like Mohamed, in which five plaintiffs had been forcibly deported to other countries (we still don't know where) and tortured.

On one of its first chances to turn away from the dark side, the Obama administration has stepped right in the footprints set down by Bush. "State secrets" still prevent the tortured from having their day in court. It's a disgrace.

The only hope I hold out -- and it's a thin one -- is that the situation around rendition is as convoluted as that surrounding the prosecutorial cases for the Guantanamo detainees. Perhaps on this issue, too, the Bushies left such a scorched landscape in their wake that the Obama Justice Dept. is having trouble making head or tail of what went on in the course of "extraordinary rendition." Perhaps they will do the right thing and revisit Mohamed again down the road.

I hope so. I hope Obama is not the Manchurian candidate I feared he might be.

H/T Glenn Greenwald

Open thread

 Have at it. Talk to you in the morning.

-A
 

Chock 'n Awe

 From a commenter at Atrios' blog. The top nominees for the George W. Bush-inspired flavor at Ben and Jerry's.

Cluster Fudge
Iraqi Road
Nut'n Accomplished
Chock 'n Awe
Grape Depression
Chimp-Peach
Heck of a Job, Brownie!
2 Terms 1 Nut
The Housing Crunch
Banana Republic
Guantanmallow
Chunky Monkey in Chief
Osama Split

and the winner:

Anchovy Fuckup Surprise

-A

Shockin n Rollin

 Once again, Digby nails it.

The fundamental purpose of the shock doctrine is to use crisis to push through unpopular and unjust "solutions" that favor the wealthy. We are seeing this battle take shape on several fronts. The right is working feverishly to discredit the New Deal at the same time that outside groups of so-called elder statesmen are lining up to screech about the deficit and entitlements. All of this obscures the real source of the current problem and obstructs the president's ability to do what's necessary to solve it.

If Obama were to succeed in fixing the economy, re-regulating the financial system, enacting health care and a modern environmental and energy policy, the right would be discredited for a couple of generations --- and the wealthy would lose many of their unfair advantages under a fair and equitable system. They not only do not want to take that chance, they also see this crisis as an opportunity to bury liberal economics and end the government programs that ensure a stable and prosperous society with a vast middle class. The stakes are huge for both sides.

This gets back to something we've touched on repeatedly over the years on the Abe and Joe show: the decades-long -- and largely successful -- endeavor by the monied class to undo the New Deal. As Digby notes, it's no accident that we're seeing an attempt in the news media to discredit the efficacy of the New Deal even as the President-elect and prominent economists like Paul Krugman call for a new, FDR-esque reinvestment in old and new infrastructure.

This has been going on for some time. The marginal personal and corporate income tax rate topped out in the World War II era at 94%, and with a few exceptions, has been in decline ever since. At the height of the Depression, in the late 1930s, the highest bracket was in the low 70% range. And during both crises -- depression and war -- we spent like drunken sailors and obtained solid results. And after the war, we kept on taxing and spending like the New Deal Democratic nation we were -- flaming leftists by today's standards. Hell, under Ike, the quintessential conservative of his age, the highest rate was over 90%.

But here's the thing. Consider what we did during that postwar era*.

We sent millions of ex-GIs to college. We built the interstate highway system. We rebuilt our conquered enemies. We built the most extensive public university system in the history of humanity. We put people on the moon. We saw sea changes in race and gender relations. We birthed history's first truly large-scale, educated middle class. We witnessed a riotous explosion of culture, as every imaginable tradition and heritage collided.

And people got rich. Lots of them. While paying high taxes.

But more importantly to the monied class -- and I think that these would-be assassins of the New Deal are oblivious to this, perhaps willfully so -- the middle class of the postwar era had money to spend on the products made by the monied class. Our ownership elite owes its exalted status to the fact that we and our parents and grandparents all spent money in the industrial economy.

So the attempt to bury the New Deal, organized labor, and the very notion of liberal Keynsian economics, is self-defeating. If you kill the middle class, there's no one to buy your useless crap. Now is the time to whip out that well-tuned sense of irony I've been urging you to develop.

Now is also the time to contact Obama and urge him to do the right thing with his economic policy. It's time to rebuild the middle class and invest in schools and solar power plants and high-speed trains and universal health care. It's time to bury conservative supply-side economic dogmatism for a good long time.

-A

* Yes, we also kept military spending at wartime levels. Yes, we started striking devil's bargains with brutal men in exchange for their nations' resources. Yes, we built an arsenal of doomsday weapons. Yes, we meddled ceaselessly all over the world. Yes, we presided over the maturation of the brutally exploitative global capitalist system. Yes, we waged cynical wars in far-flung places, both overt and covert. Yes, we perpetuated the global subjugation of the non-European peoples. Yes, we allowed the wholesale corporate acquisition of the wheels of government. Yes yes yes. I deny none of it. But we also did the stuff I said.

 

Index of leading asshattery indicators

 I love Harper's Index.

For those of you not familiar with it, Harper's Index appears near the front of every edition of Harper's magazine. It presents a sort of snapshot of current affairs by way of assembling a bunch of seemingly obscure, but ultimately telling, statistics. The index can really help break an issue down to irrefutable numbers in a way that cuts through ideological trappings.

Take the current iteration of Harper's Index, for example. It's all about the legacy of the Bush years, the whole fucking war-ridden, corrupt, incompetent, greedy, murderous, filthy lot of them. Here's just a few choice nuggets:

 

Percentage of Bush’s first 189 appointees who also served in his father’s administration: 42

Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98

Date on which the GAO sued Dick Cheney to force the release of documents related to current U.S. energy policy: 2/22/02

Number of other officials the GAO has sued over access to federal records: 0

Number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and North African men detained in the U.S. in the eight weeks after 9/11: 1,182

Number charged with an immigration violation: 762

Days since the federal government first placed the nation under an “elevated terror alert” that the level has been relaxed: 0

Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50

Minimum number of laws that Bush signing statements have exempted his administration from following: 1,069

 

... and on and on. It's an itemized chronicle of catastrophic mis-government. Read the whole thing, and then print it off and give it to your Republican co-workers.

-A

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