Thursday, 2 December 2010

Confederates, Extortion And Doom

I just thought I'd share two things I've taken away from Mother Jones this week, which are kind of related.  First up, the world's most terrifying book since Babara Cartland passed away :

I know what the title really is, but I can't help reading that mish-mash as "Confederate Coloring and Book Learning".  ll you need do is drop that last "g" and you have a perfect encapsulation of the kind of people liable to want to buy this book for their kids.

Probably in the grand scheme of indoctrination this is far less worrying than Texas re-writing their school history text books to excise progressives to make room for more racists, but this ties into a lot of things that I've been seeing lately, a concerted attempt by various Southerners to rehabilitate the notion of the Confederacy by trying to redefine it (in fairness, such attempts have been going on for a loooooooong time).  Ta Nehisi Coates has a particularly good post on this up here.

Ultimately, of course, it's the same problem we see every time with aspects of the American Right (and aspects of the British Right, and to be fair the Left as well, though generally speaking progressive lunatics aren't generally elected into office).  If someone wanted to make the case that the Confederacy wasn't universally about continuing slavery (it wasn't), that it had issues with the US beyond slavery (it did), and that the Union Army hardly acted as paragons of virtue and racial tolerance (which it didn't), then that's worth a conversation.  But that's just too damn complicated for these people.  Too nuanced.  All they can manage is that slavery is bad, but the Confederacy was good, therefore the Confederacy can't have been about slavery.

And how have those that formed, ran and lost the CSA learned their lesson in the last 155 years?  Well, they've switched parties, but otherwise: not very well.  Tax cuts are always good, the President and a majority of Congress don't want to let the tax cuts expire, so the President and a majority of Congress must be stopped at all costs.

I'm still fairly new to this game, but I've never seen anything like this.  Nothing - literally nothing - will be allowed to reach a vote in the Senate unless the tax cuts are renewed.  The Democrats have already agreed to allow the cuts to continue on the middle class, but of course the Republicans have refused that compromise.  The rich must continue to enjoy the Bush tax cuts, or the government gets it. The filibuster has now officially progressed from emergency measure to standard procedure to a method of extortion.

Note as well that this is signed by every single Republican Senator.  Every. Single. One.  In a year when the GOP are screaming about fiscal responsibility (to the point of wanting to cut unemployment benefits), the entire Senate minority have determined that there can be no action taken by the federal government - including action to reduce the deficit - unless the tax cuts which contributed to a significant proportion of that deficit continue.

It's almost impossible at this point not to subscribe wholesale to Tom Friedman and Kevin Drum's incredibly cynical takes on the whole situation.  America is pretty much screwed, and nobody who has any chance of stopping it seems to have any interest in trying.

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