Black Helicopters

Krugman on Romney’s FEMA gaffe:

So let me just take a moment to flag an issue others have been writing about: the weird Republican obsession with killing FEMA. Kevin Drum has the goods: they just keep doing it. George Bush the elder turned the agency into a dumping ground for hacks, with bad results; Clinton revived the agency; Bush the younger ruined it again; Obama revived it again; and Romney — with everyone still remembering Brownie and Katrina! — said that he wants to block-grant and privatize it. (And as far as I can tell, even TV news isn’t letting him Etch-A-Sketch the comment away).

There’s something pathological here. It’s really hard to think of a public service less likely to be suitable for privatization, and given the massive inequality of impacts by state, it really really isn’t block-grantable. Does the right somehow imagine that only Those People need disaster relief? Is the whole idea of helping people as opposed to hurting them just anathema?

It’s a bit of a mystery, calling more for psychological inquiry than policy analysis. But something is going on here.

Really, is the idea of killing FEMA any weirder than clamoring for the gold standard? I mean, the whole GOP platform is basically pathological.

Krugman is certainly right that part of it is the idea that somehow disasters only strike “Those People” — you just have to look at how the GOP talks about New Orleans — but the FEMA obsession is also part of the Black Helicopter/UN paranoia among rightwingers.  In their minds, FEMA is part of the jackbooted thug mafia that is only, just barely being kept in check because Real Americans are exercising their Second Amendment rights to prevent tyranny.

When Romney talked about killing FEMA it wasn’t because he really thought the states could or should do it, nor did he think the private sector could or should. When Romney went after FEMA in the primary debates, it was all about letting GOP voters know that he sees the Black Helicopters too.


Georgia Congressman (R-Obvs) believes that evolution is a lie and that Jesus rode a dinosaur.

Republican wackaloon Rep. Paul Broun thinks that evolution and the big bang theory are lies told by librul soshulists to keep righteous dudes from allowing God to go traipsing through the tulips of their hearts.

He is a doctor — a medical one! — and he serve on the Congressional science and technology committee because that’s clearly where he belongs, mirite?!

Holy Jurassic crap.

[read full post at ABLC]

Good news from Pennsylvania

Wanted to talk about the huge win for democracy enthusiasts in Pennsylvania yesterday, because voter suppression is bigger than a single state or a single law.

Conservatives and Republicans lost this round for two reasons: incompetence and overreach.

Governor Corbett put the law in place months ago, and then he and his appointees did absolutely nothing to facilitate an orderly revamp of the election system until they were sued. Meanwhile, people in Pennsylvania were navigating their way through several state agencies encountering absolute chaos while the litigation dragged on and Governor Corbett and his appointees frantically changed the rules in a futile effort to save the law for the 2012 Presidential election. If conservatives and the corporate entities that back ALEC want to radically change an existing state election system, they should probably work on basic management skills first. When state government fails, and county election officials have to step in, as happened in Pennsylvania (and Florida, incidentally) something is going terribly wrong.

The Pennsylvania law they pushed through is one of the most extreme in the country. It hit the groups and geography they targeted: African Americans, Latinos and young people, urban areas, but it also hit random elderly voters and rural poor people. There are many documents that can be used to ID a voter. There’s a long list of acceptable documents in Ohio. Yet, Pennsylvania conservatives set this up so voters had to travel to one or more state agencies to get a photo ID with an expiration date. Is anyone really surprised they weren’t able to issue hundreds of thousands of photo ID’s in 6 weeks?

This law was so extreme and so incompetently executed that it drew national attention, but it also did something else. It forced liberals and Democrats to organize in Pennsylvania around voter suppression with new energy and urgency. While it wasn’t always true that liberals and Democrats made up the entire voting rights coalition (some Republicans at the national level worked to protect or expand voting rights up until the late 1990s) it is true now. There are no conservative or Republican voting rights advocates anymore. They’re gone. The entire GOP and conservative coalition are aligned with the absolute bullshit that is “voter impersonation fraud”, and they’ve completely abandoned any pretense of caring about voting rights. If you’re organizing around voting rights, you’re working with liberals and Democrats, and any benefits of organizing around voting rights will flow to liberal and Democratic causes and politicians. Liberals and Democrats didn’t draw that tight line. Conservatives and Republicans did. They left.

This sloppy, desperate, blatant effort to suppress the vote backfired, big time, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Open Thread: The 24/7 Media Beast

David S. Bernstein at the Boston Phoenix has a note on the dark side of the Wingnut Wurlitzer:

… There’s a common wisdom, in high-profile campaigns, that you need to “feed the beast,” meaning the media, with things to write about — or else they will go out looking for things, which might not be things you want them to write about….

That also applies to the movement-conservative marketplace, if not moreso. They have all day to fill up with radio gab and blog posts and twitter banter and so on. It’s actually not that easy to keep the audience hooked hour after hour. To keep it fresh and have people tuning in and calling and tweeting back, they constantly need things to be outraged about. And the truth is, campaigns tend to be a lot of the same thing over and over most of the time; fresh new outrages don’t always track to the lifespan of the last outrage.

It’s vitally important for, say, the Romney campaign to keep the movement-conservative audience engaged, to keep their interest up so they will turn out to vote in big numbers.

But it’s also important that the movement-conservative marketplace not go veering off into dangerous looney-land. And that’s really, really likely if you’re not feeding that beast. If you’re not giving them something reasonably safe to be outraged about, they’re likely to go looking for outrages in, say, the latest press releases from the Gun Owners’ Action League, or the latest book from Regnery, or worse….

So that’s a big part of the reason why, for example, the Romney campaign (presumably) dropped an old Obama “I believe in distribution” clip on Drudge the other day — not because it’s useful to the overall goals of the campaign, but because they needed to give the movement-conservative marketplace something to focus their outrage on, before they either start losing interest in hating Obama, or start talking really, really, crazy batwankery.

Sorry, Willard: “And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

A rare moment of a tool speaking truth to fools

The modern conservative movement is carefully designed to appeal to the greedy, the stupid, the gullible and the fearful. At their annual Lack of Values Summit in DC, one of the movement’s biggest tools let the truth of it slip out. The Buzzfeed headline and story captured the moment:

Rick Santorum Says “Smart People Will Never Be On Our Side”

No doubt!

How about an open thread…