During the Reagan era America feasted on infected monkey brains & now ‘The Reign of Morons is Here’


 
As I was saying earlier, I wish I had a wall of video screens so as not to miss a single second of the insanity going on in Washington, DC today. It’s such an incredible spectacle to witness. The ultimate reality show and it’s on thousands of channels at once. It’s hard for me to do anything else other than just gawk at it slack-jawed and scour the Internet for new news. I’ve been called “perpetually amused” and that description more fits me to a tee, but never have I been more amused than I have been in the past few days. Today especially.

Shit is getting GOOD. The DC follies is the greatest show on Earth now that Breaking Bad is over.

I feel like we’re just about three-quarters of the way through a movie where the bad guys are about to get their asses handed to them, but then again, maybe not. The end of this one hasn’t been written yet, so there’s genuine suspense. From where I’m sitting, it does look like the Republicans have overplayed their hand, yes, and I think the outcome to all of this self-inflicted damage is all but assured, yes to that as well, but it also seems certain that we’re going to see at least a few more twists, turns and moments of high drama—and low humor—along the way.

Anyway, in my voracious appetite for vacuuming up and processing every bit of information I can about the government shutdown and the lunatics who are at present in charge of the asylum, nowhere have I seen it put better than by THE GREATEST AMERICAN WRITER OF OUR TIME, CHARLES P. PIERCE, writing at Esquire. This is required reading:

Only the truly child-like can have expected anything else.

In the year of our Lord 2010, the voters of the United States elected the worst Congress in the history of the Republic. There have been Congresses more dilatory. There have been Congresses more irresponsible, though not many of them. There have been lazier Congresses, more vicious Congresses, and Congresses less capable of seeing forests for trees. But there has never been in a single Congress—or, more precisely, in a single House of the Congress—a more lethal combination of political ambition, political stupidity, and political vainglory than exists in this one, which has arranged to shut down the federal government because it disapproves of a law passed by a previous Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court, a law that does nothing more than extend the possibility of health insurance to the millions of Americans who do not presently have it, a law based on a proposal from a conservative think-tank and taken out on the test track in Massachusetts by a Republican governor who also happens to have been the party’s 2012 nominee for president of the United States. That is why the government of the United States is, in large measure, closed this morning.

We have elected the people sitting on hold, waiting for their moment on an evening drive-time radio talk show.

We have elected an ungovernable collection of snake-handlers, Bible-bangers, ignorami, bagmen and outright frauds, a collection so ungovernable that it insists the nation be ungovernable, too. We have elected people to govern us who do not believe in government.

We have elected a national legislature in which Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann have more power than does the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who has been made a piteous spectacle in the eyes of the country and doesn’t seem to mind that at all. We have elected a national legislature in which the true power resides in a cabal of vandals, a nihilistic brigade that believes that its opposition to a bill directing millions of new customers to the nation’s insurance companies is the equivalent of standing up to the Nazis in 1938, to the bravery of the passengers on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, and to Mel Gibson’s account of the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 13th Century. We have elected a national legislature that looks into the mirror and sees itself already cast in marble.

We did this. We looked at our great legacy of self-government and we handed ourselves over to the reign of morons.

This is what they came to Washington to do—to break the government of the United States. It doesn’t matter any more whether they’re doing it out of pure crackpot ideology, or at the behest of the various sugar daddies that back their campaigns, or at the instigation of their party’s mouthbreathing base. It may be any one of those reasons. It may be all of them. The government of the United States, in the first three words of its founding charter, belongs to all of us, and these people have broken it deliberately. The true hell of it, though, is that you could see this coming down through the years, all the way from Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address in which government “was” the problem, through Bill Clinton’s ameliorative nonsense about the era of big government being “over,” through the attempts to make a charlatan like Newt Gingrich into a scholar and an ambitious hack like Paul Ryan into a budget genius, and through all the endless attempts to find “common ground” and a “Third Way.” Ultimately, as we all wrapped ourselves in good intentions, a prion disease was eating away at the country’s higher functions. One of the ways you can acquire a prion disease is to eat right out of its skull the brains of an infected monkey. We are now seeing the country reeling and jabbering from the effects of the prion disease, but it was during the time of Reagan that the country ate the monkey brains.

Read more…

Charles P. Pierce. He’s the best of the best, right? He’s also one of the last sane men left in America. Miss his wisdom at your peril. He’s good. Mark Twain good. Hunter S. Thompson good. Joe Bageant good. Jon Stewart good. He’s damned good!

Read Charles P. Pierce daily at the Esquire Politics blog

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Why I’m Voting to Re-Elect President Obama’


 
There is no doubt in my mind that the single best writer covering the 2012 election, numero uno, is Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce. I admire Pierce’s insight, his craft and the fact that he actually has a deep knowledge of 20th century history and politics.

He’s also hilarious. Real bust-a-gut, laugh out loud funny with tears running down your face stuff. There was really no competition this year, I don’t think, for the best writing on politics, although I rate The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi and Salon’s Alex Pareene very highly, also. But when it comes to the writing, Charles P. Pierce is, I think by far, the finest political prose stylist in American life, in a rarefied class with Mark Twain, H.L. Mencken, Ambrose Bierce, Gore Vidal before he became a crank and Hunter S. Thompson before his brain got soft.

I don’t hesitate to make that claim for Charles Pierce’s writing, read him for just a week and I’m sure you’ll agree. I find myself in awe of his talents on pretty much a daily basis. No one has him beat for creative ways of calling idiots idiots and I love him for it. I only wish I could write as well as he can. For his coverage of the 2012 election, the guy deserves not only a Pulitzer prize and a lucrative new book contract, but his own TV show. He’s my dream guest to see on Moyers & Company.

Reading Charles P. Pierce is a privilege. Pierce wrote the best piece, bar none, on the reason to vote for Barack Obama tomorrow. Reposting it here in its entirety, since it doesn’t lend itself to an easy exceprt. I hope he won’t mind.

To sum it up, the most compelling reason to vote for Obama has got less to do with Obama himself or his record and everything to do with making sure Mitt Romney and his fellow passengers in the Republican clown car don’t get the keys to the White House

Because I am going to be in Florida on Election Day, I am voting this morning here in the Commonwealth (God save it!). There is only one vote that I am casting with any measurable amount of enthusiasm. That is the vote I am casting for Elizabeth Warren to be my next United States senator. This enthusiasm is based not solely in my personal affection for her, nor solely in my admiration for the things she’s already accomplished, nor solely as a reaction against the unnecessarily crude and boorish campaign waged against her by incumbent Senator Scott Brown, nor solely even in the fact that I think this race is still agonizingly close and that I think Warren has it in her to be a great United States senator on behalf of many of the issues that I think are important to the country. The enthusiasm derives from the fact that, when she was asked in a debate what her policy would be toward our groaning (and increasingly futile) military adventure in Afghanistan, she answered quickly and simply. Out. Now.

I am also going to vote for Barack Obama. Without enthusiasm. And without a sliver of a doubt in my mind.

To be fair, this won’t be the most unenthusiastic presidential vote I ever have cast. The prize for that one remains Jimmy Carter in 1976. I spent a year chasing that grinning peanut-farmer around the country on behalf of Mo Udall’s campaign, organizing in the field in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, until the money ran out. All we did was finish second, over and over again. Hell, we finished second to him by an eyelash in Michigan after Mo had dropped out. Voting for Carter that fall was like draining my own blood with a turkey baster. I wasn’t particularly ginned-up over Mondale in 1984, either. Neither did Bill Clinton make my lights shine either time he ran. And, to be perfectly honest, the only real enthusiasm I felt for this year’s incumbent in 2008 came largely from being around people who were so transported by the idea of him. That and the fact that George W. Bush no longer would have anything to screw up.

However, I am casting my vote for him (again) because of something that Dr. Jill Stein said the other night on TV, when she was being interviewed in the wake of that third-party candidates debate that Larry King hosted. I’ve known Jill socially for some time, and I admire her, and I agree with her on a marginally greater percentage of the issues than I do with the president. I think a lot of the snark aimed her way is unjustified. She’s not responsible for the wankerific fantasies of renegade “progressives.” I do not, however, think she is any more likely to become president — or any more qualified to be president — than I am. For example, I take a back seat to nobody in my scorn for the president’s apparent naïvete concerning the virulent nature of his political opposition. But, listening to Stein talk about the glories of the “Green New Deal” she’s going to pass through a Congress that is unlikely to differ much one way or the other from the one we have now, well, that makes Barack Obama sound like Huey Long. Still, I thought long and hard about tossing her my vote, because I live in the bluest of blue states, and I felt that, in casting my vote that way, I would absolve myself of complicity in the drone strikes, and in the inexcusable pass given to the Wall Street pirates, and in what I am sure is going to be an altogether dreadful Grand Bargain while not materially damaging the most important cause of all: making sure that Willard Romney is not president. And I might have done it, had Jill not gone on TV and talked about how those people who are voting for the incumbent president simply to make sure that Willard Romney is not president are doing so out of “fear.”

Horse hockey.

It is not fear. It is simple, compelling logic. We have two major political parties. Until that great gettin’-up morning, when purists on both sides of the ideological ditch manage to create workable third parties that look like something more substantial than organized unicorn hunts — which won’t happen until we have proportional voting, and I wish you as much luck with that as Lani Guinier had — we always will have two major political parties. One of them is inexcusably timid and tied in inexcusably tight with the big corporate money. The other one is demented.

This is not “fear” talking. I watched the Republican primaries. I went to the debates. I saw long-settled assumptions about the nature of representative democracy thrown down and danced upon. I heard long-established axioms of the nature of a political commonwealth torn to shreds and thrown into the perfumed air. I saw people seriously arguing for an end to the social safety net, to any and all federal environmental regulations, to the concept of the progressive income tax, and to American participation in the United Nations, the latter on the grounds that a one-world government threatens our “liberty” with its insurance-friendly national health-care reform bill. I saw Rick Santorum base his entire foreign policy on the legend of the 12th Imam, and I saw Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann actually be front-runners for a while. I saw all of this and I knew that each one of them had a substantial constituency behind them within the party for everything they said, no matter how loopy. When you see a lunatic wandering down the sidewalk, howling at the moon and waving a machete, it is not fear that makes you step inside your house and lock the door. It is the simple logic of survival. Fear is what keeps you from trying to tackle the guy and wrestle the machete away from him. And, as much as it may pain some people to admit it, the president is the only one stepping up to do that at the moment.

It is vitally important that the Republican party be kept away from as much power as possible until the party regains its senses again. It is not just important to the advance of progressive goals, thought it is. It is not just important to maintain the modicum of social justice that it has taken eighty years to build into the institutions of our government, though it is. It is important, too, that that you vote for one of these men based on whom else, exactly, he owes. Who is it that’s going to come with the fiddler to collect when you get what you’ve bargained for?

Barack Obama owes more than I’d like him to owe to the Wall Street crowd. He probably at this point owes a little more than I’d like him to owe to the military. The rest he owes to the millions of people who elected him in 2008 — especially to those people whose enthusiasm I neither shared nor really understood — and he will owe them even more if they come out and pull his chestnuts out of the fire for him this time around. He may sell them out — and, yes, I understand if you wanted to add “again” to that statement — but they are not likely to revenge themselves against the country if he does and, even if they decided to, they don’t have the power to do much but yell at the right buildings.

On the other hand, Willard Romney owes even more to the Wall Street crowd, and he owes even more to the military, but he also owes everything he is politically to the snake-handlers and the Bible-bangers, to the Creationist morons and to the people who stalk doctors and glue their heads to the clinic doors, to the reckless plutocrats and to the vote-suppressors, to the Randian fantasts and libertarian fakers, to the closeted and not-so-closeted racists who have been so empowered by the party that has given them a home, to the enemies of science and to the enemies of reason, to the devil’s bargain of obvious tactical deceit and to the devil’s honoraria of dark, anonymous money, and, ultimately, to those shadowy places in himself wherein Romney sold out who he might actually be to his overweening ambition. It is a fearsome bill to come due for any man, let alone one as mendaciously malleable as the Republican nominee. Obama owes the disgruntled. Romney owes the crazy. And that makes all the difference.

In his time in office, Barack Obama has done some undeniable good for people. There are auto workers in Ohio with jobs, and women making equal pay, and young people freed from the burdens of health care because of some of the president’s policies. And he is running on that record, making the case for his second term based on the good he has done for people in his first. In his only time in elective office, Romney also did some good for people. He reformed the health-care system in Massachusetts in a way that made him far more popular up here than he ever will be again. And he has spent seven years now running against the good he did for people. What kind of a politician does that? What kind of a man does that? A politician who has counted the debts he owes to the people to whom he owes them, and a man who is willing to hock everything about himself just to get even.

This is not “fear” talking. This is simply the way things are. It is important to stand against the people and the forces to which Willard Romney owes his political career. It is more important to do that than it is to do anything else. It is more important to do that than to salve my conscience, or make a statement, or dream my wistful dreams of a better and more noble politics. And that is why, today, I will vote for Barack Obama, not because of the man he is not, but because of the man his opponent clearly has become. I will do so without enthusiasm, and without a sliver of doubt in my mind.

Plus one, brother!

Read Charles P. Pierce daily at the Esquire Politics blog. Bookmark it!

You can follow Charles P. Pierce on Twitter. He is the author of Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
How to save the Republican party from itself


 
A terrific older essay by Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce on how fucking insane Republican Party has become (it appeared in the magazine’s May 2012 issue) has been resurrected on reddit/r/politics. I must have missed this one when it went around the first time, but it has not dated in the least since then (if anything it’s more true with each passing day). A gem, courtesy of one of the very best political writers in America today:

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Republican party, root and branch, from its deepest grass roots to its highest levels, has become completely demented. This does not mean that it is incapable of winning elections; on the contrary, the 2010 midterms, as well as the statewide elections around the country, ushered in a class of politicians so thoroughly dedicated to turning nonsense into public policy that future historians are going to marvel at our ability to survive what we wrought upon ourselves. It is now impossible to become an elected Republican politician in this country if, for example, you believe in the overwhelming scientific consensus that exists behind the concept of anthropogenic global warming. Just recently, birth control, an issue most people thought pretty well had been settled in the 1960s, became yet another litmus test for Republican candidates, as did the Keystone XL pipeline, to which every Republican presidential candidate pledged unyielding fealty despite the fact that several prairie Republicans and an army of conservative farmers and ranchers are scared to death of the thing.

In Washington, there is no leadership anymore, no “Republican establishment” to which anyone can appeal. The ferocious strength of faith-based know-nothingism in the party’s base has resulted in a stubborn refusal to adopt even those ideas — like an individual mandate for health care, or cap-and-trade as an energy policy — that began as Republican ideas.

In the states, we have seen a staggering overreach on the part of Republican governors in the Midwest regarding labor rights, wildly restrictive voter-ID laws aimed at solving a problem that doesn’t exist, immigration statutes that are leaving lettuce to rot in the fields because nobody’s left to pick it, and a welter of preposterous antiabortion statutes. And behind all of that, a party base that has constructed its own private history, its own private language, its own private logic, and its own wholly rounded private universe.

That’s how Sarah Palin can tell people that Barack Obama wants to bring us “back to days before the Civil War” because Obama once hugged Derrick Bell, a law professor at Harvard. That’s how an insurance-friendly health-care bill can be declared to be socialism when it’s not being called the first step toward fascism. That’s how Mitt Romney came to tie himself in a bowline trying to run for president, even though he was the only real candidate in a field of crackpot poseurs, and even though he was running the only real campaign as opposed to tent revivals, exercises in brand maintenance, and extended book tours. Too late did Romney realize that the path to the nomination led through an alternate reality.

This was a development long in the making, and one of which we may well never see the end. It began with the vicious, truthless campaigns run by the National Conservative Political Action Committee in the late 1970s. This initiated the creation of a conservative network that was outside the formal party structure. To this was added independently financed think tanks, Christian colleges and (later) Christian academies and organized home schooling, and conservative boot camps that produced young people, and young candidates, whose primary allegiance was to conservative ideology and not to the Republican party. Eventually, as was proven by the failed candidacies of Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle, which helped lose the Republicans a golden chance at controlling the Senate as well in 2010, these people cared less about whether the party succeeded than they did that their ideology was kept pure and their private universe invulnerable. In trying to control the uncontrollable and to appease the insatiable, forcibly locked in with itself, like the Beales in Grey Gardens, the party gradually lost its mind.

That last sentence is quite simply… prose perfection. Pierce deserves a Pulitzer prize based on that line alone*.

He concludes:

The Democratic party has an obligation to beat the Republican party so badly, over and over again, that rationality once again becomes a quality to be desired. It must be done by persuading the country of this simple fact. It cannot be done by reasoning with the Republicans, because the next two generations of them are too far gone.

The whole thing is most definitely worth your time. While you are there, you should bookmark the Esquire Politics blog, it’s an essential daily read for political junkies.

His post this morning about Harry Reid and why he’s letting it rip so hard on Mitt Romney is also a must read.

Let’s Stop Being Upset with Harry Reid Already (Esquire Politics)

(*If it were up to me, I’d award a Pulitzer to Charles P. Pierce, if for no other reason, his snarling use of an all-purpose, southern-fried epithet my grandmother used to employ with great disdain: “dipshit doodlebug.”)

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
The rot of Citizen’s United and the grim future of American democracy
06.08.2012
08:35 am

Topics:
Politics

Tags:
Charles P. Pierce
Citizens United


 
I realize that I keep saying this, but it’s true and the best context I can offer: Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce is one of the—I think—top two political writers in America today, the other being Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, who is far better known. Everyone with even a passing interest about what happened with the Walker recall in Wisconsin needs to read Pierce’s spot-on post-mortem on the vote, “The Wisconsin Recall Aftermath: Scott Walker Steps Right Up into the Pocket of Those Who Got Him There.” Seriously, it’s a must-read if ever there was one and so is his blog, which I encourage you to bookmark.

I’ve been noticing with satisfaction in the past few days how some of Pierce’s posts at Esquire’s Politics blog have been zooming up the charts at reddit—and I’m trying to encourage more DM readers to discover Pierce’s writing, too—like this on-target statement about how big money/big corruption is destroying America. Apologies to Charles Pierce for snagging his entire post, but it’s too short—and the sentiments therein far too important—not to pass it on in full here:

The Rot of Citizens United Is Universal. Get Used to It.

It is a capital mistake to study the corrosive effect of the utterly corrupt Citizens United decision only in the context of the presidential contest, or in the context of other highly visible individual races, like the one for a U.S. Senate seat or last night’s Wisconsin recall. The rot in the system is poisonous, general, and spreading. 

(And have I mentioned really how utterly stupid it is to have an elected judiciary, especially in the current cash-soaked political atmosphere? It is the second-worst idea ever behind the Balanced Budget Amendment, aka The Stupidest Fking Idea Of All Time.)

Very soon, there is not going to be a single political campaign, no matter how small, that directly affects anything having to do with America’s corporate power, which is practically everything, that will not be swamped by anonymous cash laundered through bagmen organized under the banner of some nobly monickered political whorehouse. (While considering the names of the front groups, it is always important to remember the blog’s favorite quote from Sam Spade, of the firm of Spade And Archer: “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.”) As the NYT says:

“...Justice John Paul Stevens predicted that such spending would overwhelm state court races, which would be especially harmful since judges must not only be independent but be seen to be independent as well. North Carolina is proving him right.”

Of course, I’m sure that, sometime later this week, an earnest young scribe from Politico will tell me that everything’s okay because Democrats spend money, too, and, anyway… unions! So, coming soon to your town: the $40 million race for Register of Probate, and won’t that be fun?

You can follow Charles P. Pierce on Twitter. He’ll be an essential voice during this election cycle. If you are on Twitter, you should definately follow him, and bookmark the Esquire Politics blog.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion