When I was a kid, I used to love reading Cal Thomas. For those of you who did not grow up with the Des Moines Register, your premiere newspaper for stories about pie and dogs that saved their owners from fires through barking, Thomas is a syndicated political columnist who combines the confidence of a small-town minister with the intellectual curiosity of a small-town minister. As near as I can tell, he hasn’t been right about anything in 30 years, and a surprising number of his columns begin with dictionary definitions, but I couldn’t stop reading him. At the risk of oversimplifying my fascination, getting angry at Cal Thomas made life feel important. Some perverse quadrant of my fourteen year-old brain knew that the baffled, sputtering indignation I experienced trying to follow a Cal Thomas argument expanded the sum total of my consciousness.* As a series of girlfriends would later remind me, the more you feel, the more you are alive—even if that feeling is bitter, frustrated anger. Today is Friday, and soon the weekend will enfold us in its boozy, maybe-trying-to-tell-us-something-and-maybe-just-being-affectionate arms. It will demand from us a new, more vibrant mode of living, and as usual five days of drudgerous toil will have deadened us until we feel somehow unequal to the task. As a palliative—by which I mean an irritant—Combat! blog offers a collection of links to things that enrage us, whether by their ignorance, their audacity, or their audacious ignorance. Sure, they’re horrifying, but we can’t look away. What separates us from the animals, after all, if not our love of lingering upon what separates us from the animals?
Those of us from Iowa used to lament that our Republican senator, Charles Grassley, had become the face of opposition to health care reform. Why did the most recognizable Iowan in national politics have to be a wizened elf who accused every bill of providing free abortions to immigrants and kept assuring us that the Death Panels were in there somewhere? I, for one, wished that someone else—anyone else—could serve as Iowa’s delegate to the national imagination. That, boys and girls, is why you must never wish. Representative Steve King (R–IA) has fulfilled our longings in the most ironically disappointing way possible. Sure, Chuck Grassley is an asshole, a stubborn hick whose Twitter feed read “Barb made oatmeal,” on the day his committee abandoned the attempt to reach bipartisan consensus on health care reform. But yesterday Steve King called for the overthrow of the United States government. Apparently Congressman King has forgotten where he works, along with a bunch of other important information that might otherwise have allowed him to make a useful contribution to the operation of America. In speaking to the Huffington Post, he called for a peaceful takeover of Congress similar to Prague’s Velvet Revolution, and likened the state of our country to that of Czechoslovakia under Soviet communism. “It is very, very close,” he said. “It is the nationalization of our liberty and the federal government taking our liberty over.” Which raises a lot questions, not the least of which is whether Representative King knows what that word means.
Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is an independent in the truest sense of the word. He may be an elected representative of the American people, but that doesn’t mean he gives a damn what you think. You think he’s against George Bush just because he was on the opposite ticket in a Presidential election? Bam!—he votes to invade Iraq. You think you can keep him out of the Senate by voting for the other guy, who didn’t want to invade Iraq, in the Democratic primary? Bam!—he runs as an independent. You think the $1.98 million in campaign contributions he’s received from securities and investment firms since 2005 make him a darling of the financial industry? Girl, Joe Lieberman can’t be tied down to one lobby. Even though the insurance, health and pharmaceutical industries have only given him a million dollars in the last four years, he’s still declared himself willing to filibuster any health care bill that includes a public option. Joe Lieberman is the Senator from the great state of Fuck You, and when Harry Reid moves for cloture on whatever Keep America Strong and Healthy Flag-Lovers Bill he comes up with, Lieberman is going to stand up, look straight into the C-SPAN camera, and spend the next 36 hours calmly describing exactly which blindingly white and quivering part of his body the American people can bite.