Inside the GOP’s Parallel Universes, Feb. 28-March 3

“The only thing the federal government can do to protect women is to pass a universal right-to-carry law. Everything else is just big government demagoguery.” Red State, 2/28/13, on the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act Annie Oakley’s America?
Obamacare is forcing insurance companies to charge more. These rate increases are coming about “the same reason Ghengis Kahn impregnated women all over Asia. Thanks to Obamacare, the insurance companies now can.”  Red State, 2/28 and 3/1 “Risk premiums” are the latest excuse for hospitals and insurance companies to charge as much as they want to. Is this what happens when the “free market” is really unfettered?
Let’s keep the federal campgrounds open by leasing shale gas acreage in the Rockies Karl Rove, WSJ, 2/28 Let’s whitewater raft the fracking runoff!
“Mr. Obama and his circle divide the economy into separate parts. In the Obamaian universe, the units of the private economy—companies large and small—are satellites orbiting the great fixed planet of public spending. All material and economic life in the Obamaian model radiates out from a central source of public spending.” Daniel Henninger, WSJ, 2/27 Is this a call for the “maximum elimination of the public sphere, as prophesied by George Lakoff this week?
“For each F-22 Raptor not built, about another 20,000 families could receive food stamps for a month.” Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 2/28 Politiscript irony alert: this sentence can be used by both the Left and the Right. Hanson of course is acidly riffing on Obama’s “redistributionism” and his reckless dismantling of the US defense system.
“A shortage of solar panels and windmills, not impending cuts in the US military….is Kerry’s idea of existential dangers on the global horizon.” Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 2/28 They get another four years to belittle Kerry—here turning him into a Kerry/Gore amalgam
In 1982, Section 2 of the act was amended to say that the measure is violated whenever nomination and election processes “are not equally open to participation” by minority voters. And equality of participation is said to be denied whenever minority voters “have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to . . . elect representatives of their choice.” And representatives “of their choice” has been construed to mean representatives who are members of the same minority. This expresses two tenets of progressivism’s racialism. One is identity politics: Your race is your political identity. The other is categorical representation: Members of a race can be understood and represented only by members of this race. By this reasoning the Voting Rights Act has become an instrument for what Roberts has hitherto called “a sordid business, this divvying us up by race.  George Will, Washington Post, 3/1/13 “progressivism’s racialism”: a new wedge argument for perpetuating racial discrimination. It’s twisted logic seems to be that  the mere act of  trying to mitigate disparate racial outcomes is itself a form of racism. It’s like when Stephen Colbert  archly says that he “doesn’t see race”, and thus is free to use any racial stereotype he wishes.

Parallel Republican Universes

Bill Maher talks a lot about the Republican Bubble, which was aptly explained by Marshall Fine in the Huffington Post last September

“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” as one Romney pollster put it, while even Fox News called bullshit on much of vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention. Because, hey, what does it matter if they’re lying? Half the country already assumes they are; the other half wants to swallow the lie whole, like a large pill washed down with cod-liver oil.

More like castor oil. With the same results.

It’s not like this is anything new. Go back to 2004, when an unnamed George W. Bush aide (later identified as Karl Rove) scoffed at a newspaper reporter as being part of the “reality-based community.” Rove went on to say, “When we act, we create our own reality.”

Or as Humpty Dumpty told Alice in Through the Looking Glass, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” To which Alice replied, “The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

To which, like Humpty, the Republicans reply, “The question is, which is to be master — that’s all.”

To note some recent Parallel Universes posited by the Wall Street Journal editorial team:

  • civil liberties are to blame for recent mass shootings because the rights of the mentally disturbed are protected (12/25/12)
  • a $5 million dollar exemption on estate taxes is a “mere pittance” to people who have worked all their lives and should be allowed to keep their money (1-1-13)
  • the AIG lawsuit against the government bailout of AIG is entirely warranted (1-9-13)
  • defense cuts will be used to fund ObamaCare (1/11/13)
  • drilling & fracking will solve the carbon emissions crisis and turn the economy around (1/2/13)
  • privatizing highways is in the public interest (1/15)/13)
  • mandating ethanol production is “the sort of thing that created the Protestant Reformation”

Stay tuned for more GOP Loony Tunes.

Republicans’ War on Green Energy and Their Curious Born-Again Populism

While the last couple of weeks have been absorbed with gun control and the “fiscal cliff,” the Wall Street Journal editors have also been uncommonly obsessed with energy issues, mostly contrasting “green energy” with fracking.  The five editorials between Dec. 17-Jan 4 on these two subjects paint the usual Manichean world of growth vs. regulation, and “market-driven” natural gas investments vs. “trendy eco projects”. The key editorial in this sequence, “The Jackson Damage” (12/27), lays all the blame for high unemployment at the feet of retiring EPA Director and she-devil Lisa Jackson, whose “aggressive and punitive” regulators have “contributed to business uncertainty and stole dollars otherwise available for private investment.”

At the beating heart of this robbery are Obama’s “repressed green id” and the risible Democratic bias toward “racial justice and economic redistribution”. This bizarre psychoanalysis of the environmental movement seems confused insofar as it pits the desire for social justice, labeled as elitist and “anti-growth”, against American workers’ best interests.

A further twist of this inverted logic occurs in the Jan. 2 editorial, “Crony Capitalism Blowout,” which summons Republicans to a “new populist message” based on–wait for it- less corporate regulation, fewer constraints on corporate profit, lower taxes and less government. In this brave new populist America, “the social service planners who can’t run health care, education, or public housing” will be eclipsed by small businesses, investors, and the affluent. The ants (“those who save their money”) will triumph over the grasshoppers (“those who spend their money”).

But the ants are also due a huge tax break because the $5 million exemption on the estate tax is a “pittance for 50 years of work and thrift”, and should be raised. Only in GOP la-la-land is $5 million a “pittance”. Populism spreads to the 1%!

Glossary, Early January, 2013

an anatomy of key memes, phrases and obsessions in Wall Street Journal editorials, Dec. 19-Jan. 4

assault weapons: gun-control talk. “Assault” is always to be in quotation marks, perhaps because guns don’t assault people, people do. See also “gun control”.

fracking: “the best way to fight carbon emissions”.

green energy: no less than a “re-engineering of the US energy system”; aka, “Obama’s repressed green id,” and a “shapeless concept” that is “stealing dollars from private investment”.

gun control. The wet dream of “the social service planners who can’t run health care, education, or public housing” (Dec. 25). A term to be used very sparingly (use “second-amendment rights” instead).  Gun control will not lessen violent massacres because they are primarily caused by too many “civil liberties” for the mentally disturbed. (Apparently, the individual rights mandate of the second amendment for gun owners does not apply to other groups).

industrial policy: federal subsidies for any industry the Journal doesn’t like, especially anything having to do with “green power”, aka, “taxpayer handout”. Subsidies for the oil, nuclear, coal and natural gas industries are of course not “industrial policy”, but, rather, the encouragement of “market forces”. Most other federal subsidies are “market-distorting follies,” “coddling” or “profiting from political agendas”.

Islamists: any foreign leader or country critical of American policy. Always characterized as “anti-democratic”. Synonymous with “Benghazi,” “ramming through” laws the Journal doesn’t like and “turmoil”.

judicial restraint: any position taken by the sons of Robert Bork. (see “originalism,” below)

originalism: The Republican myth of an “enduring Constitution”, complete and whole in itself, and not open to interpretation. A text without a context. As opposed to the “judicial left,” for whom the law is “whatever they say it is..the legal inventions of the moment”. They dusted this old chestnut off for their Dec. 19 homage to “The Great Robert Bork”.

productivity: limited to the “private, productive part of the economy,” the “small businesses, investors and the affluent” that Obama is inexplicably intent on destroying through his “redistributionist tax agenda”. (“Obama’s Tax Bill Comes Due,” 1-1-13).

profiting from political agendas: any Democratic policy, especially in regards to “green energy”. Republican political agendas that also enhance corporate profits–deregulation, lower taxes, weakening trade unions–is somehow immune to this charge.

regulatory binge: any new federal policy, law or mandate. Always “abusive”, “reckless”, “aggressive” and “punitive”.  Republican laws and regulations, on the other hand, are always “good governance”.

smear: a Democratic attack on a Republican.  In relation to Bork, “Democrats cast the first smear.”

Post-Election Mythorializing At the Wall Street Journal

“The battle for liberty begins anew this morning.”

Wall Street Journal editorial, Nov. 7, 2012

It’s been a month or so now since the the Romney-Ryan-(Ayn) Rand ticket’s defeat. Ultimately, the Republicans were brought down by the moral Taliban, the Tea Party, and the plutocrats–the ranks of their party most out of touch with a changing America.

Since election night, undaunted and unchastened as ever, of course, the Wall Street Journal’s editorials have been doubling down on a few key themes left over, oh, let’s say, from the Reagan years: class warfare, ending all taxes if possible, unfettered free markets, and the inherent evils of government. Money quotations:

The great mistake of Mr. Obama’s first term was putting his social and political agenda above nurturing a faster economic growth. ( “Obama’s Real Fiscal Problem,” Nov. 30)

Mr. Obama has humiliated House Republicans and punished the affluent for the sheer joy of it. (“The Hard Fiscal Facts”, Nov. 11)

Imagine the gusher of revenue the feds could get if government got out of the way and let the economy grow faster. (“The Hard Fiscal Facts”, Nov. 11)

In this era when envy trumps growth, the government is raising taxes on thrift, investment and risk-taking in the name of fairness and to finance more government spending. No one should be surprised when there are fewer dividends and capital gains to tax. (“The Great 2012 Cashout”, Nov. 28)

“American prosperity is best served by letting business exploit as many opportunities as possible…” (“Energy Economics In One Lesson”, Dec. 6)

To be fair, there are a few more contemporary obsessions: fracking, school choice (“the great civil rights issue of our era”), teachers’ unions (“the Evil Empire”), and, of course, Obamacare.

One of the best Obamacare editorials (“Hope and Exchange,” Nov. 27) talked about Obamacare as the “re-engineering” of the health care system,” being “rammed” down the throats of the throats of Republicans. It especially extols Utah’s medical insurance exchange, organized around the trifecta of Republican dogma: defined contribution, consumer choice, and free markets. In other words, coverage caps, the end of all state insurance regulation, and no cost controls whatsoever.

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The more these guys change, the more they stay the same.