Posts Tagged ‘Christine O’Donnell’

Target Rich Environment Vol. 4

October 21, 2010

Section 1. The increasingly poor decisions of Ron Johnson

I’ve been writing about this guy for the last month.  The fact that he is poised to retire Senator Feingold, literally, makes me want to weep.   Here, via TPM, who’ve consistently done excellent work exposing Tea Party candidates lack of substance and compassion, is a sterling example of Ron Johnson’s unfitness to govern; when pressed on his lack of specificity and substance in an answer he’d given regarding the Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ responsibilities to homeless veterans, Johnson said the following:

“Specifically I can’t really — I haven’t been there, I don’t have all the details. One thing I will point out: I don’t believe this election really is about details. It just isn’t. I mean as I’ve gone through the state of Wisconsin I’ve viewed this pretty much as a job interview…. I’ll have to get there. I’ll have to start performing the job.”

That is a frightening, unadulterated glimpse into the Tea Party mindset.  A mindset that swears the entirety of governing just boils down to the repetition of generalities about tax cuts and deregulation, meaningless references to socialism and something called “Obamacare” and a steadfast adherence to, and belief in, the abstractions and fantasies peddled by Ayn Rand–the rest (ie. actual governing) is just “details” that would-be Senator Johnson can’t be bothered to learn or care about.  You see, once your in-laws hand you a plastics company and you are just smart enough to not run it into the ground, you start to look around and feel entitled and superior enough to ask the people of Wisconsin to send you to the U.S. Senate, even though you don’t believe in government, where you’ll openly and clumsily dismiss the care and well-being of homeless veterans as a trivial “detail.”  This debacle followed on the heels of Johnson’s inability to articulate any sort of jobs plan/outlook for middle class workers when pressed during an interview with the Green Bay Press Gazette, even though every indicator in the nation says that’s what voters are most concerned about.  Johnson was asked to explain his jobs plan and he brought up the stock answers of cutting spending and deregulation, but the interviewers weren’t satisfied and asked for specifics which prompted the following exchange (with video, again via TPM):

There’s no real jobs plan?’ one interviewer asked.

“I would say bring fiscal discipline to the federal government,” Johnson replied. “We’ve got to curb spending.”

That didn’t satisfy his interviewers.

“So your jobs plan is to control spending. But what about the middle class?” the editor responded. “I mean, I hear you talking a lot about business, businesses. But I mean, what is your plan for the middle class?”

“We have to get the economy moving,” Johnson said, frozen.

‘Isn’t that pretty simple though what you’re saying is just, you know, elect me, to go there and cut spending and everything will take care of itself.'”

Thank god there are still journalists that will push back against this empty nonsense.  All they did was ask Johnson to elaborate past slogan and platitude level and he flat out couldn’t.  This inability lead the Green Bay Press Gazette to endorse Senator Feingold for the first time ever, according to TPM.  The majority of Johnson’s constituents will be middle class or lower and he has no plans, cares, ideas or ambitions to help make their lives better, which, in non-Ayn Rand infected corridors of reality, is what public service in the United States Senate entails.  Policy and governing is all about details.  Conservatives cried oceans of tears about the dangers inherent in President Obama’s inexperience and here is Johnson actually “comparing himself to a promising job candidate who has the potential to learn on the job” at a candidate forum at UM-Milwaukee.   It would funny if it weren’t so sad and dangerous.

Voters of Wisconsin–Please do not elect this man.

Section 2. The continuing destruction and dissolution of meaning in language

There was an excellent front-page diary by Meteor Blades on Daily Kos this morning detailing the sad verdict handed down by a district court judge in Helena, Montana.  The verdict, ala Citizens United, overturned Montana’s 98 year-old voter-initiated Corrupt Practices act, which banned corporate political spending.  According to the Helena Independent Record, the court ruled that the state’s ban on direct corporate political spending “insofar as it prevents corporations from making independent expenditures to support or oppose political candidates or political parties, is declared unconstitutional.”  Another sterling example of Citizens United’s enabling of anti-democratic corporate interests who want to buy our elections.  One of the plaintiffs in the Montana case is a group called the Western Tradition Partnership, a shadowy corporate front group whose executive director said of the decision:

“The court has restored fairness and balance to elections by allowing employers to speak freely about the radical environmentalist candidates and issues that threaten your right to earn a living”  (emphasis mine).

Let’s parse that language for a moment–I love how these groups are always (anonymously) out to righteously inform you about, and protect you from, “candidates and issues that threaten your right to earn a living.”  Yet they also tout the fact that they represent employers.  So if you read between the lines they are essentially saying: let us do, say and buy whatever we want (anonymously) or we’ll send the rest of your jobs to China or Mexico all while blaming any and everyone else, such as, in this case, “radical environmentalist candidates.”

According to the Billings Gazette, the Western Tradition Partnership bills itself as “a grass-roots organization dedicated to ‘Rediscovering America’s National Treasure’ by promoting responsible natural resource development, private property rights and multiple use of and access to public lands.”  But the Gazette also reported that a Montana state investigator found that the Partnership was soliciting donations from “officers of several foreign corporations or their affiliations, including some based in Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom.”  They are so devoted to caring for “America’s National Treasure” that they need money from corporations in South Africa and Great Britain.  They are sternly for “private property rights,” but public lands must be accessible and open to multiple uses, like mountaintop removal, strip malls and/or strip mining.   The Western Tradition Partnership proclaims itself to be “the leading organization fighting the anti-jobs, anti-taxpayer policy agenda of extreme environmentalist front groups.”  Again, I challenge anyone affiliated with these groups to show me anyone in American public life (outside of the Chamber of Commerce and their obsession with protecting corporations so-called “right” to outsource, but that’s another post) who is “anti-job.”  Then they really pour it on with their courageous fight against the powerful and prominent “anti-tax payer policy agenda” put forth by imaginary” extreme environmentalist front groups.”  What is an “anti-tax payer policy agenda?”  I’m willing to bet it’s anything that conflicts with the profit margins held by the corporations (some of whom are foreign as the Billings Gazette reported) who actually fund this group.  But seriously, the phrase “anti-tax policy agenda” has no literal meaning or connection to any tangible, corresponding symbol, concept or object signified by the English language.  It is devoid of meaning in the purest sense.  This empty, nonsensical “pseudo” language is a virus employed by corporations and conservatives to erode the foundations of reality and bend history to their whims.  Refuse/Resist.

Section 3. Maureen Dowd sums it  up

I’m always fond of pointing out in my posts the delicious irony inherent in how conservatives like Sarah Palin yell all day about the notion and concept of “American exceptionalism,” yet their every single incompetent thought and action continually negates and disproves the concept.  In practice, though, the often demonstrated conservative fondness for scams, tilted scales, ponzi schemes, censorship, dishonesty, hypocrisy and nepotism suggests a fondness for the “exceptionalism” of banana republics and tin-pot dictatorships.   Another recurring strand of my posts  has been writing about this damaging insistence of voters to reward candidates “like themselves.”  Maureen Dowd wrote a column in the New York Times today, entitled “Making Ignorance Chic,” which summed both of these strands up beautifully.  Speaking of Sarah Palin, Dowd wrote the following:

“She says she believes in American exceptionalism. But when it comes to the people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect; leaders should be — as Palin, O’Donnell and Angle keep saying — just like you.”

Exactly.  When will people reject this idiocy?

Ignorance is Bliss

October 15, 2010

I wrote about the sad, and I believe, socially dangerous follies of voters rewarding incompetent, inadequate candidates like Christine O’Donnell as an act of self-glorification/self-recognition here. I used a quote from a Washington Post article where a voter was quoted as saying (emphasis mine):

“‘Christine O’Donnell is just an ordinary citizen, and that’s what I like about her,’” said Greg Gergen, a Wilmington Republican who said he will vote for O’Donnell.”

An eerily similar quote was included in a New York Times recap of O’Donnell’s disastrous debate with Senate candidate, Chris Coons, wherein a 23 year old voter working her way through college remarked that O’Donnell was someone “she could relate to.”  What does it say about the level of narcissism in our society that people like this are so obsessed with self-affirmation and seeing their reflections in candidates?  In this debate Christine O’Donnell referred to herself as a “congressman” while answering a hypothetical question regarding how she’d react to a policy issue if elected.  Besides the obvious fact that she’d be a “congresswoman” if elected to the House; she’d first have to run to serve in the House, not the Senate, which is what she is actually doing.  On a more substantive note, O’Donnell talked nonsensically of America’s battles against the Soviets in Afghanistan and was unable to cite one recent Supreme Court case that she disagreed with.  That she can’t name a recent Supreme Court case might be a cute, ‘non-elitist’ piece of ignorance the aforementioned voter has in common with O’Donnell, thus making her easier to “relate to,” but it makes a mockery out of the concepts and responsibilities of actual governance, while illuminating significant problems in our collective psyche.  In an excellent post on Swampland today, Joe Klein perceptively says that this type of thinking is indicative of “a society that no longer takes itself seriously.”  Strong words, but completely on the mark in this instance.  You see, were “congressman” O’Donnell actually elected to the Senate, on the strength of all the pathetic “I like her because she’s dumb like me” votes, she could potentially get assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee whereupon she’d be tasked with vetting and confirming Supreme Court nominees, and her fantastically photogenic ignorance will no longer be able to mask the fact that she has absolutely zero knowledge to draw upon to enable her to make informed decisions on matters of such crucial importance to millions of Americans.   Acquaintance with recent Supreme Court litigation can no longer be smugly dismissed as abstract elitist fodder when you decide to run for the United States Senate.   O’Donnell has to know this stuff to be taken seriously.  The fact that she doesn’t, explains why she isn’t.  Not thanks to the mean, misogynistic liberal media being too hard on her.  You’d think that O’Donnell would have at least learned from the mistakes of her mentor and had one Supreme Court case at the ready for these tricky, “gotcha” style debate moderators.   The person in the audience comforted by their recognition of ignorance in O’Donnell is not running for Senate, so their ignorance of the court’s docket can be excused because it can’t cause any damage.   O’Donnell’s malignant ignorance of something so important would provoke wide-ranging consequences and cannot be dismissed or rewarded.   I know people hate the concept of “elites” (aka people who have the nerve to actually know stuff about the Supreme Court while running for Senate) but society can’t function without them.  It’s humbling meeting people who are obviously smarter than you.  But when I need a doctor or lawyer, the last thing on earth I want from them is a reflection and/or recognition of my own ignorance so I can feel better about myself.  Why so many Americans require this reflection/recognition from within their politicians nowadays is frightening.    Joe Klein brutally sums up this aspect of O’Donnell’s “appeal” in the post I’d quoted previously:

“There is no way she could ever be confused with a member of the elites; there is no way she could be confused with an above average high school student. Her ignorance, therefore, makes her authentic–the holy grail of latter-day American politics: she’s a real person, not like those phony politicians. In that sense, she–and the lifeboat filled with other Tea Party know-nothings–follow in the wake of our leading exemplar of ignorant authenticity, Sarah Palin”

To O’ Donnell’s credit, she is, at least, smart enough to exploit the sense of recognition many voters see in her ignorance, running, typically subtle, ads that say: “I Am You.”   But again this is symptomatic of a larger decline in our national standards, overall, and as Klein writes “there is something profoundly diseased about a society that idolizes its ignoramuses and disdains its experts.”  The tendency to recognize ignorance as a virtue and reward its dangerously shameless purveyors with access to the highest levers of power in our society is a “disease.” And, long-term, the decay and damage this disease inflicts, if -unchecked, will be more harmful to our national health than anything terrorists anywhere in the world could dream up.   This upside-down conception of ignorance as “authenticity” must be reversed and rejected.