Friday links! Loud, unnecessary, blows edition

Louie Gohmert (R–TX) rails against something for a picture.

Louie Gohmert (R–TX) rails against something for a picture.

What a difference a day makes. It seems like only a few minutes before yesterday that the government was on the verge of fiscal catastrophe, mired in stalemate and preparing to default on its most concrete obligations. Then everything was fine. A small group of conservative Republicans stopped doing what they had been doing, and Washington snapped back into function again. “Function” is perhaps an overstatement, but I cannot help but notice that, unlike most historical events, this massive failure of governance had exactly one contributing factor. I’m beginning to think that the loudest corner of American politics is also the least necessary. Today is Friday, leaves drift down in front of my window, and the rakes have been supplanted by the blowers. Won’t you leave a passive-aggressive note for the neighbors with me?

The leaf blower is the worst invention in the world. It saves the negligible amount of labor demanded by the rake, but it is louder and less accurate, and it burns gas. Spencer sent me this shout/murmur from the New Yorker on the subject, and I am pleased, even if it does typify the voice-driven 700-worder that has come to dominate the form. This fall, give your stupid neighbor a rake. Only shame will return our country to sense.

On a related note, Ted Cruz has blocked confirmation of the president’s nominee for FCC chairman. Props to Ben al-Fowlkes for the link. For the second time in a month, the freshman senator from Texas has matched his own judgment against the rest of the chamber, this time because he is worried that nominee Tom Wheeler will require funding disclosures for televised political advertisements. I quote his spokesman:

Yes, the Senator is holding the nominee until he gets answers to his questions regarding Mr. Wheeler’s views on whether the FCC has the authority or intent to implement the requirements of the failed Congressional DISCLOSE Act.

Currently the DISCLOSE Act is stuck in committee, where Govtrack gives it a 1% chance of becoming law. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t “failed,” though; as Cruz already established with Obamacare, laws can fail and do terrible damage to the United States long before they go into effect. Also established re: Obamacare, Ted Cruz is an asshole. If he has the confidence to override the Senate this many times during his first term, how might he behave during his second? Related: in October, Cruz’s approval among Republicans generally declined, while his approval among the Tea Party skyrocketed.

It’s almost as if one particular pocket of fanatics had captured the GOP. You know it’s bad when Anne Coulter thinks you’re crazy:


Later that day, Mussolini accused the party of being too concerned with appearances, and a sleepy kitten warned that Republicans had become warm and soft. Props to Smick for the link.

To say that the Republican Party has been overtaken by “hucksters and shysters” is rhetorical overstatement, of course. No national-level politician would involve himself in an outright con to—oh wait. It turns out that Kentucky senator and board-certified ophthalmologist Rand Paul is certified not by the American Board of Ophthalmology—the “only recognized board that certifies doctors in his specialty”—but rather by the National Board of Ophthalmology, an organization he founded and operates himself. Seriously: Senator Rand Paul gave himself a fake medical certification. Thanks to his strident libertarianism, he is not a hypocrite, but you can pretty much call him anything else.

Just wait until he comes down to your local national monument and yell abuse at him, like so:


My personal favorite moment in this video is at :11, when Sarah Palin says “our vets” and then waits for applause that never comes. Perhaps, when historians remember this period in American politics, they will identify Palin’s failed speech at a World War II memorial as the moment when populist cynicism became slightly less effective. Or when she realized that it was time to deploy anti-government paramilitary organizations. Whatever.

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