January 25, 2012

"There is something I know"

Credit: Lauren Victoria Burke
In response to a question from CNN's John King about her reaction to the possibility of Newt Gingrich attaining the Presidency, Nancy Pelosi said:
Let me just say this. That will never happen. He's not going to be President of the United States. That's not going to happen. Let me just make my prediction and stand by it. It isn't going to happen. There is something I know. The Republicans, if they choose to nominate him, that's their prerogative. I don't even think that's going to happen.
In the midst of wild speculation over what Pelosi could be referencing, Gingrich shot back in an unwise way:
Well, if she suggested that she's going to use material that she developed when she was on the ethics committee, that is a fundamental violation of the rules of the House and I would hope that members would immediately file charges against her the second she does it. 
Pelosi is clearly threatening Gingrich, indicating that if he continues to pursue the Presidency, she might reveal some (presumably) disqualifying information about him. In my opinion, that is a very distasteful tactic. However, Gingrich does himself a great disservice with his counter-threat. "If you tattle on me you're gonna be in TROU-BLE!" is what a guilty ten-year-old would say. Gingrich should have said, "There's nothing she could possibly know about me that would be so egregious as to be disqualifying. I'll respond when and if she actually makes a substantive assertion," but he didn't.

Gingrich's response leads me to believe there might be something pretty big here.

January 23, 2012

Republican Establishment, RIP

The Board of Admiralty
by Augustus Pugin Sr. and Thomas Rowlandson
I can't articulate the self-inflicted demise of the Republican Establishment any better than this analysis from Andrew Sullivan:
"Let us now play the tiniest violin for what is called the 'Republican Establishment.' I'm not sure what this phrase means or represents any more - the Chamber of Commerce? John Boehner? The Bush family? But the concept of a responsible, sane, pragmatic party leadership able to corral or coax or manage a party's base is, it seems to me, a preposterous fiction on its face, as we are seeing.

The Republican Establishment is Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes, Karl Rove, and their manifold products, from Hannity to Levin. They rule on the talk radio airwaves and on the GOP's own 'news' channel, Fox. They have never quite reconciled themselves to Romney since he represents a gray blur in a stark Manichean universe they have created for more than a decade now. In this universe, there is only black and white. There is only them and us. Anyone who diverges an iota from this schematic is speaking without a microphone in front of a revving airplane engine.

Listen to Gingrich's victory speech. It was completely, fundamentally, organizationally Manichean, if you'll pardon the expression. He limned a familiar battle between independence and dependence, pay-checks vs food stamps, America vs 'Europe,' the American people vs elites 'forcing people' for 35 years not to be American, the traditional America vs the 'secular, European style socialist bureaucratic system.' There is no gray here. There is no nuance. And there is the imputation to the other side of malign motives, secret agendas and foreignness that has been Gingrich's hallmark since the very beginning, when he assaulted the traditions of the Congress until that institution eventually had to repel him.

Listen to Limbaugh, the GOP's chief spokesman. How does a Romney channel that level of viciousness and rage? Listen to Hannity. How does a smooth manager reach a base that wants the same Manichean approach to foreign policy, in which there is only one ally (Israel) and enemies everywhere else (Europe, China, the Arab world, Russia)? Read Mark Levin. There are only two options now on the table, as he sees it: freedom or slavery. And a vote for Obama is a vote for slavery.

This is the current GOP. It purges dissidents, it vaunts total loyalty, it polices discourse for any deviation. If you really have a cogent argument, you find yourself fired - like Bruce Bartlett or David Frum - or subject to blacklists, like me and Fox. You can find Steve Schmidt lamenting Gingrich for very good reasons, and then you realize that it was Schmidt - a moderate, sane, level-headed professional - who helped pick Sarah Palin for the vice-presidential nomination. Because he correctly realized that she would actually add base votes and prevent a total Obama tsunami. In the end, he knew what he had to do. In the end, the 'establishment' knows the party they have created.

This now is the party of Palin and Gingrich, animated primarily by hatred of elites, angry at the new shape and color of America, befuddled by a suddenly more complicated world, and dedicated primarily to emotion rather than reason. That party is simply not one that can rally behind a Mitt Romney. He too knows what he has to say - hence his ludicrous invocation of Obama as some kind of alien being. But it doesn't work. He believes it - since he seems capable of genuinely believing in anything that will win him votes and power. But he doesn't have the rage to make it work. And that rage cannot be downward, as Romney's often is - toward hecklers or interviewers. It has to be upward - at vague, treasonous elites. It has to have that Poujadist touch, that soupcon of contempt, that sends shivers up the legs of the Republican faithful, reared on Limbaugh, propagandized by Fox, and coated with a shallow knowledge of a largely fictionalized past.

This is Gingrich's party; and Ailes'; and Rove's. They made it; and it is only fitting it now be put on the table, for full inspection. Better sooner than later.

Obama is a poultice. He brings poison to the surface. Where, with any luck, it dies."

January 13, 2012

EricJames Borges

There can be no excuses or tolerance for the abuse, persecution, derision, and disrespect endured by EricJames Borges.


What man would let his wife or girlfriend be ganged up on and then mocked, ridiculed, harassed, etc.? Why then do we think it's OK for our children to do it to each other? When you see it, stop it. Stand up for people who are being bullied. Despite his brave advice to young people encountering similar abuse, Mr. Borges killed himself two days ago. He was just 19.

January 10, 2012

Three Kinds of Republicans

Credit: Pearson Scott Foresman
Since three of Romney's Republican rivals have criticized him for his tenure at Bain Capital (e.g. Perry has decried 'Vulture Capitalism'), this gaffe brings to a head not only his distance from the 99% (or in his case the 99.9%), but also the ideological rift in the Republican party.

There are actually three primary types of Republicans (all of whom call themselves 'Conservatives'): Libertarians, Nationalists, and Corporacrats.
  • Libertarians (e.g. Ron Paul) sincerely believe that "the government that governs best governs least." 
  • Nationalists (e.g. Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann) view 'America' (by which they mean American citizens who believe as they do) as being under siege from immigrants, Liberals, atheists, the New World Order, etc. Although they frequently decry government in broad terms, they actually have no problem with government being used ferociously to protect their 'America' (e.g. wars, indefinite detention, torture, laws against abortion and homosexuality). 
  • Corporatists (e.g. Mitt Romney) likewise decry government in broad terms, but actively seek (i.e. lobby) government for policies (e.g., tax, trade, zoning) favorable to business. 
I think the profound disarray seen in the race for the Republican nomination for President has revealed this rupture and I wouldn't be the least surprised to see a third party run -- or maybe even two of them.