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   Charles P. Pierce is on the road to Tampa - and he has some trenchant thoughts about the disaster threatening the country. No, not Isaac.

     Even as crews are moving down the Eisenhower Interstates to be ready to respond to hurricane damage, even as the National Weather Service continually updates the storm track, even as government prepares emergency measures and gets out warnings, there's one trouble spot promising to wreak havoc on the entire country.

The influential conservatives in this country are now dedicated to nothing less than the ultimate delegitimization of the concept of a national self-government. Some of them are in it for the bucks; state governments are more easily bought and controlled. Some of them are in it out of pure ideology, and out of tired ideas that already have caused far too much historical mischief. Some of them are in it because, frankly, they don't know any better. But the overriding goal of the modern conservative movement, which its adherents will make obvious no matter how truncated their convention is this week, has been to make something alien out of something that is essentially ours and, historically, the best vehicle through which to exercise our better selves, as a people and a country.
  Normally, I'd put a few selections in bold to emphasize points. With Pierce today, it's ALL worth emphasizing.  Over at Talking Points Memo, there's a story that President Obama expects Republicans will be more willing to deal after the election:
In an interview with the Associated Press published Saturday, Obama says Republicans hell-bent on shutting down his agenda will be more willing to play ball if he’s re-elected.

He said two changes — the facts that “the American people will have voted,” and that Republicans will no longer need to be focused on beating him — could lead to better conditions for deal-making.

If Republicans are willing, Obama said, “I’m prepared to make a whole range of compromises” that could even rankle his own party. But he did not get specific.

 Obama painted a picture of the GOP that’s very different from the party in control of the House today. On the campaign trail, Obama has made Republican intransigence a central theme, especially after House Budget Committee leader Paul Ryan joined Mitt Romney’s ticket.

     Discussion at TPM suggests Obama is making these statements now in order to portray the Democrats as being the party of reasonable people, while the Republicans - who will be in full cry in Tampa - are hard line ideologues. Digby is less sanguine over what Obama's statements really mean.
If you wonder what the Democratic party has been reluctant to support him on, he talked a little bit a week or so ago about how they don't get enough credit for caving on their most important priorities:

He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security, while Republicans oppose almost any tax increase to reduce the deficit.

Now one could chalk all this up to election year rhetoric, in which he's just trying to position Romney as a nut and himself in the middle, except for the history of the past three and a half years in which he has said over and over again that he really wants to do this. In fact, he's been saying it since before he was inaugurated.

This is why we need a strong progressive bloc in congress. We simply cannot count on the Tea Party to continue to be stupid enough keep centrist Democratic presidents from using their own base as a bargaining chip in phony debt negotiations. Some day these conservatives are going to wake up and realize that working with them is a great way to advance their agenda. (The president seems convinced that will happen right after the election...)

But sadly, we probably won't have a strong progressive bloc in November. The Party is seeing to it that far more New Democrat/Blue Dog style conserva-Dems will be elected to the congress than progressives. And we know they won't stop any of this. So keep your fingers crossed that these congressional wingnuts stay insane enough to keep the "centrists" from doing their worst. It appears that it's all we've got.

    Pierce sums up why we'd better hope the centrists do not prevail, going back to those utility crews heading down the highways to get ready for the worst.
...Certainly, the companies they work for sent them off, and, certainly, those companies will turn a tidy profit, not enough of which may filter down to the people driving the trucks. Hurrah for free enterprise. But they were driving on our highways, on information from our scientists, to try and help our fellow citizens. Competent, intelligent self-government is the finest product of a free people. It provides the context within which our highflown ideas become real. It illustrates the manuscripts of our founding documents. It lays out the detailed maps for the pursuit of happiness. We are all invested in it because we all are, or damned well ought to be, invested in the work of creating it. It cannot go rogue. If our self-government fails us, it is because we have listened to the fundamental heresy that our national government is something alien to us. The people in those trucks, pulling off the highway to grab a burger or a nap, were not moving through the American night as Indianans or Pennsylvanians or New Yorkers. They were Americans, come south to help other Americans. I was proud to share our highway with them.
     That the President and so many others still believe it is possible to reach a compromise with fanatics who have embraced a fundamentally destructive ideology is a clear demonstration of the dangers of unthinking centrism for centrism's sake. It gives a legitimacy to parties who should instead be denounced and driven from the public sphere back to the fringes where they belong. It is enablement of the worst impulses among us - and one need only listen to the blatant appeals to racism and outright lies coming from the G.O.P. to realize it.

    If you haven't been reading Pierce on a regular basis, it's time to add a bookmark to your regular reading list on the web. His meditation at Gettysburg should be a pointed reminder that the idea of what America should and can be, is one that we've fought over and shed blood over in the past. And the fight is not over.


Charles P. Pierce:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (25+ / 0-)

    Pierce might just be on to something.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:20:57 AM PDT

    •  What he says is true (7+ / 0-)

      Every time I engage in a discussion with a right winger, I feel like they are trying to remove legitimacy from government.  

      It's an ideological masterstroke by the Grover Norquist's of the world.  They've got thousands of these little megaphones running around making it seem like the only solution to the problem of the difficulties of self governance is to kill the government and allow some other form of power to control their lives.

  •  Ugh. Apparently I am infinitely gullible. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, xaxnar, David54

    Because it's election season and I actually believed the populist rhetoric coming from my president.

    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:44:11 AM PDT

  •  We kind of have a de-facto 1 party state (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, marina, badger

    Where your choice is either "bat guano insane" or "slowly taking your benefits away."

    Obviously the latter is preferable to the former, but it's still a rigged game.

    Your diary meshes well with my diary today. I'm probably closer to Digby's view.

  •  I miss Molly Ivins (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, xaxnar, llywrch, thomask, bill warnick

    OK, Molly is not going to be with us this election season.  We are the worse off for it.

    I think at times Pearce is trying to channel her, but no one can replace her.  He sometimes gets really close.

    I have had Pearce's blog bookmarked for awhile.  Reading Your Evening Jiimmy and Your Morning Dooley is something I have to do.

    I can't second enough what the diarist wrote:

    If you haven't been reading Pierce on a regular basis, it's time to add a bookmark to your regular reading list on the web.

    Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.

    by MoDem on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:01:59 AM PDT

    •  Pierce is must read every day (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, xaxnar, MoDem

      and he produces an amazing amount of beautifully written, well thought out stuff every week day (and this weekend, too). Which is fine with me - back when he only used to post once a week at Eric Alterman's blog wasn't nearly enough IMO.

      In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

      by badger on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:18:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ultimately, it's about trust (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't know why they don't trust Obama.  Perhaps it's their 24 hour media empires.  Perhaps it's racism.  

    The word I think they'd use is "shifty."

    I think they look at him, and they fear his intellectual abilities, but they also assume he can't be using his intelligence for a good reason, so they assume that he's tricking them.

    It's like a kid who doesn't know if his parents are manipulating him.

  •  Self-government is just common sense (5+ / 0-)

    to people who routinely govern themselves.  People who have no sense of self and simply react to prompts (external or internal) do not know what self-government means.
    It is very difficult to persuade people who are either instinct-driven or rely on imitation that they should decide things for themselves. They have no clue how that works.
    Willard is a poster-child for the clueless. On some level the clueless perceive a common interest.  But, it's not a mutual admiration society. Their dominant attitude is antagonism.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

    by hannah on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:31:17 AM PDT

  •  At one point government was a framework (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that enabled everyone to go about his business and seek his happiness.  As the population, diversity and international interests of the country grew, so did the government.  It was necessary in order to expand that framework as needed.  But the electronic media transformed the nation's perceptions of its government and frankly of everything else, including schools, law enforcement, religion, etc.  Our minds are cluttered with the detritus aimed at us by the media, the relentless hurling of words and images that have killed off reflection and introspection.  But we love the stimulation of the media as opposed to the mundane and glacial movement of government, so it's just easier to hate the latter.  In its day to day operations the government is not a single entity; it is as various as the servings of the media, but it is mostly behind the scenes.

    Romney went to France instead of serving in our military, got rich chop-shopping US businesses and eliminating US jobs, off-shored his money in the Cayman Islands, and now tells us to "Believe in America."

    by judyms9 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 09:55:30 AM PDT

    •  The government has always been many things... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      semiot, marina, diffrntdrummr many people, but that media you cite now contains a large segment dedicated to doing nothing except pushing that anti-government agenda. And it's largely owned and financed by the conservative movement.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:01:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  please (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    can't we just cut the President a little slack 2 months before the election? Perhaps he feels the need to say this because there are voters out there who may not like Mittens but fear further gridlock with a vote for Obama. I understand the frustration with the President for not being as agressively liberal as many would like, but he must be reelected before we can see what a second term may bring. I give him alot of credit for being far more liberal in terms of legislation than any president in my lifetime. Perhaps some will think it naive of me but I expect he will do great things in a second term and do not worry in the least about the long term viability of ss and medicare under Barack Obama

    •  Your words to Obama's ear (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "...will do great things in a second term and do not worry in the least about the long term viability of ss and medicare..."

      It has become common wisdom that SS and Medicare are bankrupting the country and will collapse if we DON'T DO SOMETHING NOW NOW NOW!!!

      (I'm exaggerating a little for effect.)

      Of course, what we really need to do to shore up those programs is simple: put America back to work. Make the rich pay their share, and not just to the Government. We need to see wages and benefits rising for the middle class again, and more people rising into the middle class.

      BUT... none of the above seems to be on the table. Very Serious People are all convinced we can only fix the problem of SS and Medicare collapsing in the future... by making the collapse happen Now with cuts Now.  

      Which, if you're a conservative, has been the real goal all along. But a President who listens to what Very Serious People Say (and he has plenty around him) may not get that. And you know if those cuts happen, they're not going to be undone down the road. Sure as God made little green apples, the moment the budget is balanced and the deficit is gone, all of the sudden it will be time for the Government to cut taxes again... especially for the rich.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:22:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •   (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't necessarily disagree with anything you've just's a good quick anaysis of the common beltway thought on ss and medicare...makes me want to scream sometimes but hope that in the end it will be adjustments and tweaks that will strengthen and extend rather than's a battle we can only win if the President is reelected though. Like I said, I trust the man...hope I'm right
    and Charlie Pierce is a genius...can't believe I'd never heard of him till this year!

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