FISH WRAP: WEEK ENDING 12/2/12

by E.C. Fish on December 3, 2012

ISSUE OF THE WEEK: PSYCHOTIC REACTIONARIES: And they feel like this: almost four weeks out from an Election Day that saw their presidential candidate fail spectacularly, their minority status in the Senate widen and majority status in the House narrow, their policy priorities repudiated, and their organizing narrative revealed as a bunch of non-reality-based denialist gossamer horseshit peddled by a collection of former morning-show deejays, many Republicans seem to have gone into a full psychotic break, either rocking back and forth in the corner mumbling that they are too relevant or, in the following cases, publicly and actively engaging their hallucinations and delusions. If the national situation allowed us the luxury of schadenfreude, this might actually be somewhat amusing. In our current situation, however, this “folie à duh” can only be seen as disturbing, a little scary, and a massive distraction when we have little time to waste, to wit:

SELF-DEPORTATION THE HARD WAY: With Latino voters having broken against Republican candidates by a wide margin in the last election, immigration reform has become a sudden vogue among Republican lawmakers. Unfortunately, most of the actual proposals coming from Republican legislators have been along the lines of the truly loopy suggestion offered on Tuesday by retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) at the unveiling of the umpteenth iteration of Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL)  “DREAM Act Lite”: undocumented immigrants seeking a “very quick path to citizenship” should just . . . marry American citizens. That such green-card marriages of convenience are a federal felony punishable by both deportation and prison time — along with it being an oddly cynical view of matrimony from a member of the party that has used the sanctity of marriage as a cudgel against gay people routinely — makes this one of the stupidest takes on immigration reform on record. It is stupider, even, than Kyl’s Achieve Act, which is really quite a feat.

THIS WEEK IN POLITICAL CHILD ABUSE: On Monday, Senators Mike “Mr. Tea” Lee (R-UT) and Rick “The Mix” Santorum (R-Republic of Gilead) announced their “grave concerns” and strong opposition to Senate ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, calling it a threat to US sovereignty. “This is a direct assault on us,” said Santorum — though why he or anyone else would think so is, on its face, a bit mysterious. The Convention, which is a product of the Bush administration, in effect binds its signatories to standards similar to those already enshrined in US law under the Americans with Disabilities Act — equal rights, equal access, and guarantees against mistreatment — to protect disabled people the world over.

For a full explanation, one need only look at the letters “UN” at the front of the Convention’s title. As any good latter-day Bircher can tell you, US acquiescence to any UN action is nothing but a direct invitation for the black helicopters of the One World Government to land on the front lawns of citizens and state houses nationwide.

In this case, the concern seems to be that the Convention would somehow result in government action that, according to Santorum, would “undermine the ability” of parents of disabled children to . . . oh, I don’t know . . . expose their kids to discrimination and unequal treatment if they feel a God-given American right to do so. A supposed threat to parents’ ability to homeschool disabled children was raised and almost immediately disproved. Presumably to establish his bona fides as a parent in imminent danger of being rounded up by blue-helmeted UN shock troops, Santorum brought along his daughter Bella, who suffers from a severely disabling genetic disorder and who struggled uncomfortably in her mother’s arms as Daddy delivered his spiel. Whether the Convention would have any effect on Santorum’s right as a parent to grossly exploit his disabled child as a political prop is not clear.

NORQUIST GOES SOUTH: Lobbyist, inaccurate Reagan hagiographer, and founder of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist (Nothing-Anywhere), faced with more defections from the no-new-taxes-ever pledge, continues to show himself to be a fussy, unpleasant little man who uses phrases like “poopy head” and “impure thoughts” while talking pure balderdash about economics and politics. While his influence has been palpably diminishing, he has this week benefited mightily from the nostrum that no publicity is bad publicity, with appearances such as this morning’s on NBC’s Press the Meat, during which he threatened a “second tea party wave” if taxes were raised and generally behaved as if just about everything he stood for hadn’t been rendered moot by the last election and the Republican missteps and can-kickings that have lately come home to roost in the form of the dreaded Fiscal Bluff.

While some on the left have called for Norquist’s eviction from Washington on a rail, his end is bound to be less dramatic than sad and pathetic. Whatever the results of current negotiations, one side effect is bound to be a lot fewer people being the slightest bit interested in what he has to say. I see him, eventually, trying to stage a press conference that no one attends, in black and white, with Norquist played by Mickey Rooney and screenplay by Rod Serling.

THIS WEEK IN THE FISCAL BLUFF: Speaking of the Fiscal Bluff — and we have been, to the exclusion of much else and far more than the facts of the situation warrant — perhaps in no other area has the widespread Republican break from reality been more obvious. The week ended with talks at a stalemate, presumably because the administration’s offer (presented by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Friday) failed to incorporate any of the economically dangerous yahoo ideas presumably still endorsed by the Republicans’ electoral Coalition of the Dying and Not-Reproducing-Fast-Enough and, worse yet, didn’t come with the president’s usual gift-wrapped undermining of his own position. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is even said to have broken into uncontrollable laughter at Geithner’s presentation, such inappropriate hilarity being a well-known marker of the psyche’s turn toward the genuinely unhinged. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) declared the stalemate, calling the proposal “not serious.”

The Republicans’ proposal? The Ryan budget, which beggars that word “serious” something awful.

Listen: the Republican reaction — and so much of the stone bullshit being bandied about on this issue by representatives of both sides and the media — is the result of the misapprehension in the Beltway that this represents another typical negotiation in the unceasing quest for a bipartisan “grand bargain” that will settle Washington’s fiscal issues once and for all. And it isn’t. In fact, it’s a silly and wasteful discussion of austerity measures, in the context of an effort to head off the last negotiation’s forced austerity measures before they tank the economy. With less than a month to go before those measures kick in automatically, there is no point whatsoever in talking about a grand anything — it is not going to happen, and, frankly, it shouldn’t.

The Republicans’ death-grip insistence on “solving” long-term issues as a response to a short-term crisis is, and always has been, asinine. Whatever one’s opinion of long-term deficits, they have nothing whatsoever to do with the job crisis and decreased demand that are currently hindering our economy, and addressing them at this juncture is both inappropriate and counter-productive. Republicans’ insistence on their traditional shibboleth of reforming entitlements, including Social Security — “Until we get to entitlements, we’re really not having a serious discussion,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) on Press the Meat this morning — as a precondition for raising revenues spells this out nicely. Social Security, which is self-funded and can continue for decades with minor adjustments, contributes exactly nothing to the deficit.

As for the rest of the items on their wish list, it is getting difficult for even the most die-hard Republican to pretend that the main one — lower taxes on the wealthy for the sake of “growth” — is anything but a quid pro quo to their wealthy donors. It doesn’t work, for one thing; for another, even if it did, the majority of economic growth over the last thirty years has benefited the wealthy far more than it has anyone else.

In short, there is less than no reason at this point for the president, congressional Democrats, or the American people at large to put up with this horseshit for another minute. Whether or not they will remains an open question, and a pretty good reason to stay tuned . . .

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E. C. Fish is the editor and publisher of The Spleen.

 

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