Two Republican Loons

Liz CheneyLast week was a good week for Republican looniness. It was notable because it involved two mainstream figures in the party: Liz Cheney and David Stockman. These are not Tea Party idiots nor are they political neophytes. The are respected establishment figures in the party. And they are, apparently, mad as hell and unwilling to take anymore of the pain that goes along with being rich and powerful in America.

I have to admit that I don’t know that much about Liz Cheney. But I’ve read interviews with her and she always seemed pretty reasonable—for a Republican, anyway. And then she wrote her Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal, Republicans, Get Over the 2012 Loss—and Start Fighting Back. It starts with a quote from Ronald Reagan back in 1961. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Those are important words that ought to be heeded.

But as Jonathan Chait points out, Reagan cautioning about the extinction of freedom? He was talking about Medicare. You know conservatives: if we allow Medicare then soon the government will kill all the doctors and we will all starve. Or something. It’s not supposed to make sense; it’s conservatism!

David StockmanAs regular readers know, Obama is a pretty conservative guy. He certainly isn’t a liberal and it is loony to suggest that he is a socialist. But according to Cheney, “President Obama is the most radical man ever to occupy the Oval Office.” I don’t know who she’s writing for. There are other conservative wackos like her, but they already agree. Is her writing really going to allow Republicans to “get over the 2012 loss”? I don’t think so. Maybe she should have titled her article, “Ignore the 2012 Loss—and Start Being Delusional Now.” That would have better reflected the content of her article.

Cheney is not the only one hearkening the way to Conservative Crazy Town. David Stockman provided comic relief for the economically inclined. But unlike Cheney, Stockman is mad at everyone. Of course, this has been the case since 1986 when he wrote The Triumph of Politics. That was when he started ranting that Reagan was abandoning the revolution by not savaging social spending. You see, Stockman was one of the big forces behind supply-side economics. At the time, he made some sense—there was something very wrong with the Reagan administration, but of course, it started with Stockman’s embrace of Supply Side Economics. The more he talks, however, the less sense he makes. In this most recent article he is screaming about the evils of fiat currency and how wonderfully constraining the gold standard is. It’s funny that people always say this, and yet the Great Depression happened under the gold standard. Bqhatevwr!

A well run political movement naturally constrains the crazies—or at least marginalizes them. In the modern Republican Party, the crazies are running the place. As a result, there is no incentive for people like Liz Cheney and David Stockman to control their inner radical. And so you see their craziness slipping into the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. (Of course, compared to the WSJ editorial page, Cheney hardly stands out.)

Gay Rights: When a Son Is Not Enough

Matt SalmonI admit it: I get great pleasure taking swipes at Rob Portman about his own very self-serving position on same sex marriage. But I have been very clear: being for gay rights at least makes you a human being. And that brings us to Representative Matt Salmon.

Just like Portman, Salmon learned that his son was gay two years ago. And what a gay son he was! Matt Jr used to be the leader of the Arizona Log Cabin Republicans. This group, as you may know, is basically the “gay Republicans.” In fact, they were banned from CPAC for a couple of years. But let me say for the record that I find the Log Cabin Republicans a very creepy group. I know what they say: the Republican Party is in favor a individual rights, blah, blah, blah. But the fact is that the modern Republican Party is a hate-filled group depending upon the fear and rage of their base to hang onto power. The Log Cabin Republicans should see that their cause (free markets and free beds) fits far better in the Democratic Party than in the Republican Party. And that makes them a bunch of Uncle Toms looking to their betters for acceptance.

But being a leader of the state’s biggest “we hate our gay selves too” group wasn’t good enough for the old man. Or the old lady. As staunch Morans, they weren’t moving anywhere on the gay rights issues. After all, it might get in the way of running their own universes in the after life. Insert your own underwear joke [here].

So I am not here to defend Rob Portman. I still think the man only barely qualifies as human. In fact, I even imagine a conversation between Rob and his gay son Will. Will said, “You’d better jump on the gay bandwagon! Soon, this is going to be a real political winner for Republicans.” And Rob said, “You know, son: for a gay, you’re pretty smart!” Okay, I don’t really know. But I’m pretty certain that Portman’s announcement was politically calculated.

Salmon, on the other hand, is not only just a cruel bigot—he’s an idiot. Because it is only too clear that that “the gay” will be part of the Republican coalition moving forward. But I guess that the dream of managing your own universe is just too much for the Salmons to give up.

Afterword

I think it is interesting that in the mainstream media, it is perfectly acceptable to lampoon the 72 virgins of Islam. But it is somehow wrong to lampoon the even more ridiculous notion of giving a whole new universe to the very best Mormons. I say this because the idea of life as a kind of game is ridiculous, not the idea of multiple universes. That actually seems about the most reasonable thing in the world.

Update (30 August 2013 1:19 pm)

I originally misstated Liz Cheney as an example of “Uncle Toms looking to their betters for acceptance.” In fact, it is Mary Cheney who is a gay Republican. I have a hard time telling the difference between all the blond female conservatives.

Ayman al-Zawahiri at TED

Ayman al-ZawahiriLast week, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri gave a thought provoking talk at TED (sorry, no video yet) about the changing face of global terrorism. In the talk titled “Terror At A Crossroads,” al-Zawahiri discussed how terrorists can remain relevant in an increasingly globalized world. It isn’t hard to see the problem—especially in the United States. When any kid can grab a gun with a pile of high capacity magazines and kill 26 people in five minutes, you have to ask: what is happening to the al-Qaeda brand?

There is also a more fundamental, ontological question: how can the group terrorize if terror becomes the status quo? With daily drone strikes, how are well-planned and executed al-Qaeda attacks going to rise above the background noise of murder and mayhem that is daily life thanks to America’s domestic and international policies? These are all important questions that al-Zawahiri is grappling with.

According to an article in The Onion, al-Zawahiri told the captivated TED audience, “We find ourselves in an ever-evolving, globally connected community that is confronted with numerous societal and economic obstacles every day. The question is, and it’s a difficult one, how can we, as terrorist cells, overcome these roadblocks while staying true to our vision? How do we adapt?”

I for one am glad that the terror community is taking these questions seriously. And I’m not the only one; after the talk, the TED audience gave al-Zawahiri a standing ovation.

Afterword

Last year on this day, many people were confused about my article on the word Seagullible. So I feel the need to ask you a question, “What is the date?!”

The Need for Maslow

Abraham MaslowSergei Rachmaninoff was born on this day back in 1873. Actors Lon Chaney Sr, Laurette Taylor, and Wallace Beery were born in consecutive years 1883 to 1885. And the insanely great D. Boon was born in 1958.

Debbie Reynolds is 81 today. Ali MacGraw is 74, which is surprising, because I thought she died back in 1970. (Get it?!) Jimmy Cliff is 65, so he won’t be performing anymore. The great Gil Scott-Heron is 64. Sexist and overall pathetic excuses for a jurist, Samuel Alito is only 63 today. Director and CP-16 enthusiast Barry Sonnenfeld is 60. Susan Boyle is 52. And Rachel Maddow is 40 today.

The day, however, belongs to the great psychologist Abraham Maslow who was born back in 1908. Like all great scientists, Maslow’s ideas were simple. His most famous contribution was the “needs hierarchy.” It showed that, for example, Rachmaninoff would not have written beautiful music if he had been starving. Unfortunately, as a society, we seem to have not learned this lesson. It seems I spent the whole of last year listening to Mitt Romney talk about how he was in favor of “equality of opportunity.” By that he meant that everyone had the opportunity to go to extremely unequal schools given extremely unequal home lives. You know, just like in 1984: unequal = equal.

Happy birthday Dr. Maslow! You made as all smarter. And you have a very charming smile!

Afterword

I came very close to giving the day to D. Boon, so here’s a little Minutemen: