Mike Pence’s Fugue State

Indiana Governor Mike Pence appears to have been walking around in a fugue state for the last week. Somewhere between my empathy and my thirst for comeuppance lies a certain curiosity about what it must be like to be in his shoes these days. His world – or at least his political world – has turned upside down and back again in record time.

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Pick a Party, Already

During a press conference today, Sen. Chuck Schumer referred to the stalemate in Washington today as the “tea party shutdown.”   Schumer may be doing some political calculation in order to allow the GOP as a whole to save face.  After all, he’s got to work alongside of these people. However, it is completely disingenuous for him to characterize bringing the government to a halt as solely the work of the tea party.

We’ve watched over the last several years as the so-called tea party candidates have inserted themselves into the Republican party.  And the Republican party has done little or nothing to discourage them or their attendant extremism.  In fact, many in the Republican party used the ascent of the tea party as an excuse to espouse their own extreme right-wing views more openly and shamelessly.

Consequently, it’s virtually impossible to delineate where the GOP ends and the tea party begins.  They have become one and the same.  While there are certainly more extreme members with more extreme views, they blend in all too inconspicuously with the GOP at large.

With the current government shutdown, certain more centrist members of Congress have attempted to distance themselves from the tea party extremists within their ranks.  But the party as a whole has not yet come up with a strategy to restrict tea party influence within the GOP in a way that is commensurate with their actual numbers.  Consequently, the GOP owns this shutdown.

The basic questions that we were asking when the tea party first formed still haven’t been answered.  Which is it?  Are you upper or lower case?  Are you a faction of the Republican Party, and therefore the “tea party” or “tea party caucus”?  Or do you consider yourself an actual legitimate third party, or Tea Party?

If it’s the former, then the GOP needs to take your views into consideration but make its collective decisions based on the majority within the party.  (This especially means you, Mr. Speaker.)   That also means that the GOP owns all of the insanity within its ranks, in those cases in which the extremists convince the more mainstream members of Congress to vote with them.

If it’s the latter, then the tea party earns its upper case status, along with all of the responsibilities and obligations that a political party has.  So far, the tea party has reaped all the rewards of both positions and has borne none of the responsibilities of either.

So make up your minds.

To paraphrase Jesse Pinkman, “let’s Party, bitches.”

 

 

Revenge of the Right

If you think that dislike for Mitt Romney comes exclusively from the left, a quick gambol around the internet will provide you with some pretty extreme hatred of Romney from the right.

For many in Massachusetts, Romney’s term as governor left a really bad taste in their mouths because of failed promises and his abysmal jobs record.  But for at least one Bay Stater, Romney was far too liberal:

I’m particularly fond of her criticism of Romney’s CPAC speech.  In Romney’s attempts to be all things to all people, he spoke at CPAC.  Liberals questioned his blatant pandering to the uber-conservatives.  But for the uber-conservatives, he just wasn’t conservative enough; there were apparently about ten or twelve litmus tests that he just didn’t pass.

And check out this video.  Contrada apparently holds Romney responsible for everything  from every initiative the Massachusetts Department of Social Services took during his term to what the lesbians were wearing during the pride parades:

Whew.  I had no idea any politician had that much power.

Then there are the religious doomsayers.  Literally.  It’s kind of hard to tell if they’re serious or if they’re just being hucksters and trying to sell books and DVDs:

This kind of marketing hawking of wares is worthy of Newt Gingrich.

So far, I don’t think that anyone on the left has claimed that Romney is Satan. Attribution of demonic traits to a candidate is generally the purview of the right, but this site pulls no punches:

For the author of this site, even Pat Robertson, Sean Hannity, and James Dobson are not crazy enough for his taste, because they’ve endorsed Mitt Romney.  It’s clear that Romney’s religion is still a significant barrier for some.

There’s one more site that’s a compendium of all things Mitt in Massachusetts (at least, from the ultra-right-wing perspective):

According to these folks, the problem on issues like gay rights, abortion rights, and health care isn’t that he’s too far to the right.  It’s that he’s too far to the left!  Glad we got that cleared up.

With all the focus on the economy, I wonder if these issues will even register at the polls.

Liberals, women, the LGBT community, and racial minorities  have all to often been on the receiving end of this kind of hatred from the radical right.  But it’s instructive to know that someone as extremely to the right as Mitt Romney can be the target of folks like this.

It’s just more proof that, in the last couple of decades, the left has moved right, and the right has moved even farther right.

112th Congress: Lowered Expectations

The Sunlight Foundation released a study today that shed some light on the speaking ability of our members of Congress. It used standard measures of language complexity to identify, by individual and by party affiliation, which members of congress had the highest and lowest scores. Additionally, it compared those scores with the scores of 2005.

The infographic may be pretty but the results of the comparison are not:

A couple of notable points:

  • The lowest point on the chart in the infographic is in 2011, the first year that all the tea party freshmen took to the floor.
  • The overall grade score has gone down a full grade since 2005.
  • The bottom ten scores all belong to Republicans; eight of those ten lowest scores belong to first-term Republicans.
The complete results of the analysis are available at the Sunlight Foundation website.