Remember in college when you were hooking up with this girl pretty regularly, and eventually you sat down and the two of you decided that you were going to just be what you were and not worry about labels like “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” and it seemed like you had discovered a bold new way of living right up until some dude started hitting on her at a party? Well, the 2010 Nevada senatorial race is the party, and John Ashjian is that dude. As of a few weeks ago, he’s running against Harry Reid as the official candidate of the Tea Party of Nevada. Unfortunately, the creation of the Tea Party of Nevada seems to coincide with the announcement of his candidacy. Previously, retired CPAs in Nevada who got all their news from daytime talk radio were represented by the Northern Nevada Tea Party, the Reno Tea Party, or the political action committee Anger Is Brewing. These organizations, as well as the national Republican Party, have suggested that Ashjian’s candidacy is a liberal plot—an attempt to split the conservative and anti-Washington vote in a race where Harry Reid’s seat is seriously threatened. A woman named Elizabeth Crum, writing in a column called The Blog on a website called Nevada News Bureau—which describes itself as, simply, “an independent new service”—writes of the Tea Party of Nevada that “I cannot find any evidence that any of these principals have ever been involved in any Tea Party activities, until now.” Are you beginning to see why having some sort of defined structure is useful in politics? Not to mention journalism?
Senator Jim Bunning (R–KY, net worth $607,000*) continued his objection to a 30-day extension in federal unemployment benefits and highway funding reimbursements today, after successfully stopping the bill on a point of parliamentary procedure Thursday. Yesterday morning, two thousand federal transportation workers were furloughed without pay, thanks to Bunning’s insistence that a specific funding source be identified for the $10 billion bill and, presumably, the rest of the $3.8 trillion federal budget. On a more personal level, my father had his last day of work on Monday, having opted not to retire on Friday so that he would be eligible for COBRA health insurance through the end of March. That program, too, has been suspended, and now my father does not have health insurance because a Hall of Fame pitcher from Kentucky has taken it upon himself to end the welfare state. Bunning repeatedly affirmed his objection even as Democratic senators pointed out unemployment numbers in Kentucky, expressed their dismay at being kept up late, and generally employed the means by which an old man is made to feel shame. While Bunning was overheard swearing and complaining that he’d been “ambushed,” he held to his resolve, and the bill could not come to a vote. Which brings us to where we are now.
Now must be a hard time to be an idiot in the American press. You go to all the trouble of writing a book that says the party whose national committee you chair isn’t ready to lead, get yourself on Hannity and make a bunch of invidious comparisons, then wrap up your remarks with an old-timey ethnic slur, only to be bumped from the national snarklight by Sarah Palin. You just can’t compete with that bitch. It seems like every time a prominent political figure does something stupid, Sarah Palin jumps in and yells that FDR faked polio so he could sit down all the time or whatever. Sometimes it feels like the incompetence of major political figures exceeds demand, and guys like Michael Steele—who would be saying crazy shit at Wisconsin Right To Life rallies in any other incompetence economy—are forced to practice their art in obscurity. Poor Michael Steele. When it comes to being a complete jerkoff, he’s Salieri to Palin’s Mozart.
The photo at right comes from a whole set of shots of RNC chairman Michael Steele fallin’ out with his interns, at least one of whom appears to be developmentally disabled. Props to everyone’s favorite Meghan Gallagher for the link. 2009 draws rapidly to a close, which means that Combat! blog’s New Year’s resolutions—stop drinking well whiskey, provide a more balanced assessment of both ends of the American political spectrum, and reduce violations of resolution #1 to three per week—will soon be in force. Until then, though, screw those Chicken Little sons of rich bitches. There are two legitimate political parties in the United States right now. One of them is powerful, disorganized, corrupt and cowardly. The other is the GOP, which lacks political power but makes up for it by being well-coordinated and brave. Maybe “brave” isn’t the right word so much as “audacious.” Whether they’re organizing protests against quote-unquote tyrannical taxation three months into the new presidency or blaming the current crisis in health care on people who exercise too much, Republicans proved in 2009 that they know how to play from behind. In the process, they also made this one of the most hysterical, counterproductive years of American political discourse in recent memory. Oops. Then again, a lot of things have slipped from recent memory. As Timothy Egan points out, the GOP’s frothing over health care reform in 2009 is not unlike it’s general flip-out over Bill Clinton’s tax reform in 1993. Check it!
Those of us with recently re-dislocated shoulders and $35,000 insurance deductibles can go straight to hell and fuck ourselves again, as the federal government has decided overwhelmingly that, as a nation, we must conquer Afghanistan and then leave, but that we must not offer any sort of public health insurance. Those two issues are not strictly connected, but still. According to the New York Times, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D–NV, net worth $3–$6 million) announced a compromise last night among 10 Senate Democrats that would eliminate government-run health insurance, but retain the possibility of allowing individuals to buy into the same group plans currently offered to members of Congress. It will also let people aged 55 to 64 buy into Medicare, which is not too terribly helpful for the nation, considering that age group contains the lowest percentage of uninsured adults of any demographic in America. Such compromises are necessary, though, in order to get moderate and liberal Democratic senators to agree to pass some sort of health care reform bill. Notice that sentence did not contain the word “Republican.” That’s right, Combat! readers: the Democratic Party, which enjoys a sixty-seat majority in the Senate and controls both the House and the presidency, in its continuing effort to pass the centerpiece of its legislative agenda for this election cycle, has rejected a measure that 68% of Americans support because it has been forced to compromise with itself.