The graph at right shows us the US national debt in billions of dollars by year and President, conveniently colored in accordance with political affiliation. Props to Smick, who sent me this wonderful gift and the crooksandliars.com article that accompanies it over the weekend. First of all, don’t let this graph get into a time machine somehow, because it will make George Washington’s head explode. Second of all, the Bush tax cuts are estimated to have added $2.5 trillion to the debt from over the 2001-2010 period. As Susie “The Anagram” Madrak over at C&L points out, that just happens to be two and a half times the cost of the House’s health care bill. Smell that? That’s some sweet, delicious hypocrisy, right there, and arrayed in their Kiss the Cook aprons are several Republican members of Congress, including John Boehner (R–OH, net worth $1.7–$6 million.) He’s just one of the many valiant defenders of fiscal responsibility who oppose health care reform because it will add to our $12 trillion national debt, but voted overwhelmingly to pass the Bush tax cuts.
We here in the Combat! offices read Andrew Sullivan a lot, but we don’t get to link to him as often as we’d like to, probably because he doesn’t spend enough time saying things that are completely insane. A Tory transplant from the UK, Sullivan has identified as a conservative for most of his career, despite his sexual preference (dudes) and his tendency to support centrist Democrats in second-term Presidential elections (Bush-to-Clinton, Bush II-to-Kerry.) Basically, Sullivan’s conservative principles guide his political affiliations, not the other way around. Until Tuesday, he’d managed to lean left and right while remaining publicly aligned with the Republican side of the American political spectrum. All that changed with this blog post, in which Sullivan announces that he can no longer support “the movement that goes by the name ‘conservative’ in America.” His public repudiation of the American right—and, by implication, the GOP—is seismic coming from a man who prides himself on being “of no party or clique.” It’s also an indicator of how far the Republican Party has drifted from anything that an informed, reasonable American who is not himself a politician would want to endorse.
Combat! blog’s vacation in sunny lazy California continues today, and I am too sunny to produce a long post about fat people/pants. Fortunately, the ever-vigilant Ben Fowlkes has sent me a terrifying video of interviews with Sarah Palin supporters. Surely it’s an example of uncharitable editing, but it still offers a chilling vision of an America that does not make its political decisions on the basis of political issues. The melange of talk radio catchphrases that passes for discourse among these people is simultaneously baffling and weirdly distinct; they all talk kind of the same, and what’s most unnerving is that Sarah Palin talks like that, too. She’s like some sort of rhetorical surrealist, who has tapped into a deep vein of subconscious connections that operates below logical reasoning. Understanding the people in this video is like trying to read a digital clock in a dream. Video after the jump.
It’s Friday, November 20th, and it is on such crisp, bright autumn days that our nation should pull on its jodhpurs, bundle itself in its most worsted wool, hike to the crest of the nearest hilly meadow and take a long, hard look at what pussies we’ve become. Mammograms, books, movies about vampires, books by vampires—one look at the news of the day tells us that the whole country is beset by dandyism. If we’re not debasing ourselves with effeminate pursuits like reading and getting cancer screenings, we’re shrieking in outrage at the latest public perfidy and then doing absolutely nothing about it. Ours is an era in which scoundrels run roughshod, and the righteous must content themselves with their indignation. Some might call it a more civilized society, but I—having left my mountain fortress for temporary lodgings in the comparatively urban Castle Faswell, where I am dogsitting—know that the company of strangers is not an obligation to be borne, but an opportunity to be seized. Strangers are morons, as all polls and YouTube comments sections indicate, and they must be corrected. What does Stringer Bell Faswell, excitable labrador, do when he is confronted with a stranger? He leaps into the air and licks him on the inside of his gaping mouth, or bites him on the ear, depending on the quality of his character. No dandy Stringer Bell, and the rest of us fops might take a lesson from him. When a fat morning radio DJ who has found Jesus and therefore gets to be on television gibbers lies from his greasy lips, must we simply press our handkerchiefs to our mouths and swoon? Or can we draw our rapiers, which we presumably have in this analogy although the time period is kind of fuzzy, and challenge him? The truth is in fashion no matter how ruffly our shirts, and I, for one, demand satisfaction. In the meantime, though, I guess I’ll just keep doing the blog.
Students of history—particularly my students of history—will remember Ronald Reagan’s genius unification of the Republican Party during the 1980 election. Through sheer strength of charisma and occasionally insane rhetoric, Reagan consolidated three fundamentally disparate groups—old-time political conservatives, the nouveau riche, and church people—into what we now recognize as the contemporary GOP. Those of us who grew up under Reagan tend to take this alliance for granted, but it wasn’t always so. For most of the twentieth century, evangelical Christians were a reliable constituency of the Democratic Party, and the newly wealthy were anybody’s guess. The Great Communicator’s success as a politician, if not as a President, was his ability to describe the Republican agenda in terms these three groups understood. Hence the Evil Empire speech, in which the principle feature of communism is the abolition not of private property but of religion. “I would rather see my little girls die now, still believing in God, than have them grow up under communism,” sounds like an utterly bonkers thing for the President of the United States to say into a microphone, but that microphone was provided by the National Association of Evangelicals. When he spoke to the Club For Growth, it was all tax cuts and welfare queens, and when he spoke to the hawks in Congress, it was the Strategic Defense Initiative. All of it boiled down to one easily digestible GOP platform, and there lied the genius of Ronald Reagan.