R.I.P. GOP

Matt Taibbi says Donald Trump has killed the Republican Party. I’m guessing there will always be folks who call themselves Republicans but that will mean something very different than it did before The Donald. A few humorous excerpts from his latest piece in Rolling Stone.

Cruz glanced back and forth across the room with that odd, neckless, monitor-lizard posture of his. He had to know the import of this moment. Nothing less than the future of the Republican Party had been at stake in the Indiana primary.

“I want to thank and congratulate the Republican National Committee, and Reince Priebus,” he croaked, as his heavily-made-up, Robert Palmer-chicks collection of wives and daughters twisted faintly in a deadpan chorus behind him.

If the convention isn’t Liberace meets Stalin meets Vince McMahon, it’ll be a massive disappointment.

If this isn’t the end for the Republican Party, it’ll be a shame. They dominated American political life for 50 years and were never anything but monsters. They bred in their voters the incredible attitude that Republicans were the only people within our borders who raised children, loved their country, died in battle or paid taxes. They even sullied the word “American” by insisting they were the only real ones. They preferred Lubbock to Paris, and their idea of an intellectual was Newt Gingrich. Their leaders, from Ralph Reed to Bill Frist to Tom DeLay to Rick Santorum to Romney and Ryan, were an interminable assembly line of shrieking, witch-hunting celibates, all with the same haircut – the kind of people who thought Iran-Contra was nothing, but would grind the affairs of state to a halt over a blow job or Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube.

A century ago, the small-town American was Gary Cooper: tough, silent, upright and confident. The modern Republican Party changed that person into a haranguing neurotic who couldn’t make it through a dinner without quizzing you about your politics. They destroyed the American character. No hell is hot enough for them.

The Great Divide

“Romney is a perfect representative of one side of the ominous cultural divide that will define the next generation, not just here in America but all over the world. Forget about the Southern strategy, blue versus red, swing states and swing voters – all of those political clichés are quaint relics of a less threatening era that is now part of our past, or soon will be. The next conflict defining us all is much more unnerving.”

“That conflict will be between people who live somewhere, and people who live nowhere. It will be between people who consider themselves citizens of actual countries, to which they have patriotic allegiance, and people to whom nations are meaningless, who live in a stateless global archipelago of privilege – a collection of private schools, tax havens and gated residential communities with little or no connection to the outside world.”

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

“Conservative Chickens Come Home to Roost”

I can’t tell if Matt Taibbi is enjoying the GOP circus or not:

“This is justice. What we have here are chickens coming home to roost. It’s as if all of the American public’s bad habits and perverse obsessions are all coming back to haunt Republican voters in this race: The lack of attention span, the constant demand for instant gratification, the abject hunger for negativity, the utter lack of backbone or constancy (we change our loyalties at the drop of a hat, all it takes is a clever TV ad): these things are all major factors in the spiraling Republican disaster.”

Like me, Mr. Taibbi remembers the early conservative movement very different from what we’re seeing now:

“It was just a heartfelt request that we go back to the good old days of America as these people remembered or imagined it. Of course, the problem was, we couldn’t go back, not just because more than half the population (particularly the nonwhite, non-straight, non-male segment of the population) desperately didn’t want to go back, but also because that America never existed and was therefore impossible to recreate.”

[The original story is no longer available on the Rolling Stone website]

“The Odd Couple: Romney Vs. Gingrich”

This isn’t part of some clever but inscrutable master plan, put on by the hidden hands who run this country, to fool or distract the masses. This is an unscripted fuck-up of heroic dimensions, radiating downward from the highest levels of our society, playing out in real time for all of us to watch. Our oligarchy has thrown a rod.

(Romney) is incapable of sympathizing with people who can’t pay their bills, because their condition is tied too closely in his mind with the question of how he made his enormous fortune: If you ask Romney to imagine what life is like for someone who’s broke, what he hears is you accusing him of making that happen.

This, of course, was the final irony: that South Carolina – a nest of upright country church folk proud of their exacting morals and broad distrust of buggery, stem cells and Hollywood relativism – had chosen as its values champion Newt Gingrich, a man who has been unfaithful not just to two wives but also two religions (raised Lutheran, he is currently Catholic by way of Southern Baptist)

There is a distinct odor of corrupt indulgence around Gingrich that may not bother sinners like you and me – but sure as hell ought to bother Southern evangelicals, who a decade and a half ago wore us all out wailing about the nearly identical personal failings of one William Jefferson Clinton, another flabby, smooth-talking hedonist who, in the pulpits of America’s megachurches, was whispered to be the earthly vessel of Satan himself.

If Gingrich ends up winning the nomination, Obama will essentially be running against the political version of Gilbert Gottfried or raw garlic – strong tastes that some like quite a lot, but many more can’t stand to even be near. If that happens, every Democratic flack from Leon Panetta to Obama himself will have to wear restraints to keep from publicly crying out in joy.

— Matt Taibbi on Romney and Gingrich (Rolling Stone, January 30, 2012)

The meaningless sideshow

“This caucus, let’s face it, marks the beginning of a long, rigidly-controlled, carefully choreographed process that is really designed to do two things: weed out dangerous minority opinions, and award power to the candidate who least offends the public while he goes about his primary job of energetically representing establishment interests.”

“…the candidate who raises the most money wins an astonishing 94% of the time in America. That damning statistic just confirms what everyone who spends any time on the campaign trail knows, which is that the presidential race is not at all about ideas, but entirely about raising money.”

“…in the end, once the primaries are finished, we’re going to be left with one 1%-approved stooge taking on another.”

— Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone)

“A rejection of what our society has become”

Excerpts from How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests by MATT TAIBBI in the November 10, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone

“We’re all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. We see 10 million commercials a day, and every day is the same life-killing chase for money, money and more money; the only thing that changes from minute to minute is that every tick of the clock brings with it another space-age vendor dreaming up some new way to try to sell you something or reach into your pocket. The relentless sameness of the two-party political system is beginning to feel like a Jacob’s Ladder nightmare with no end; we’re entering another turn on the four-year merry-go-round, and the thought of having to try to get excited about yet another minor quadrennial shift in the direction of one or the other pole of alienating corporate full-of-shitness is enough to make anyone want to smash his own hand flat with a hammer.”

“People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something. It may not be a real model for anything, but it’s at least a place where people are free to dream of some other way for human beings to get along, beyond auctioned “democracy,” tyrannical commerce and the bottom line.”

“It’s not that the cops outside the protests are doing wrong, per se, by patrolling the parks and sidewalks. It’s that they should be somewhere else. They should be heading up into those skyscrapers and going through the file cabinets to figure out who stole what, and from whom. They should be helping people get their money back. Instead, they’re out on the street, helping the Blankfeins of the world avoid having to answer to the people they ripped off.”

“We suck enough to make anyone a contender”

Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article on Michele Bachmann is brilliant. And scary. And for those of us totally puzzled by the success of people like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, an explanation that makes some sense (to me):

“All of those people out there aren’t voting for Michele Bachmann. They’re voting against us. And to them, it turns out, we suck enough to make anyone a contender.”

Here are few more excerpts from the article:

“In modern American politics, being the right kind of ignorant and entertainingly crazy is like having a big right hand in boxing; you’ve always got a puncher’s chance. And Bachmann is exactly the right kind of completely batshit crazy. Not medically crazy, not talking-to-herself-on-the-subway crazy, but grandiose crazy, late-stage Kim Jong-Il crazy — crazy in the sense that she’s living completely inside her own mind, frenetically pacing the hallways of a vast sand castle she’s built in there, unable to meaningfully communicate with the human beings on the other side of the moat, who are all presumed to be enemies.”

“Bachmann lies because she can’t help it, because it’s a built-in component of both her genetics and her ideology. She is at once the most entertaining and the most dangerous kind of liar, a turbocharged cross between a born bullshit artist and a religious fanatic, for whom lying to the infidel is a kind of holy duty.”

“Imagine Joe McCarthy dragging Cabinet members into hearings and demanding that they publicly disavow the works of Groucho Marx, and you get a rough idea of the general style of Bachmannian politics.”

“There are a great many people in America just like Bachmann, people who believe that God tells them what condiments to put on their hamburgers, who can’t tell the difference between Soviet Communism and a Stafford loan, but can certainly tell the difference between being mocked and being taken seriously.”

“Pawlenty reportedly views Bachmann’s decision to jump in and spoil his long-planned assault on the presidency as the equivalent to her having crouched over and peed in his Cheerios.”

 

Our national pastime

From a Rolling Stone article that leaves you wondering why the American people are not in the streets.

“This isn’t just a matter of a few seedy guys stealing a few bucks. This is America: Corporate stealing is practically the national pastime, and Goldman Sachs is far from the only company to get away with doing it. But the prominence of this bank and the high-profile nature of its confrontation with a powerful Senate committee makes this a political story as well. If the Justice Department fails to give the American people a chance to judge this case — if Goldman skates without so much as a trial — it will confirm once and for all the embarrassing truth: that the law in America is subjective, and crime is defined not by what you did, but by who you are.”

Matt Taibbi: “It was good times in America for a while”

“Back when America was still a feared international bully that was flush with borrowed Saudi and Chinese cash and could stand to blow a few hundred extra billion in public funds every year on budget-padding deals — back in the Bush years — John Boehner was the perfect candidate for congressional leadership, a lifetime company man who didn’t give a shit about most Americans but could shed tears on national television on behalf of Jamie Dimon’s (CEO of JP Morgan) bottom line.”

“Things are different now. America is so broke, there’s no longer really any money in the Treasury to give away — the job of overseeing corporate handouts that used to belong to the leaders of Congress has now moved to the Federal Reserve, which itself is so broke that it has to invent dollars out of thin air before it can give them away to influential billionaires. This leaves congressional leaders with nothing to do but their ostensible jobs — i.e., fixing the country’s actual problems — and few of the current leaders have any experience with that, Boehner being a prime example. The new speaker represents an increasingly endangered class of Beltway jobholders who know how to raise money and get elected, but not much beyond that. He now finds himself the party’s last line of defense against millions of angry voters who, for the first time in recent memory, are at least attempting to watch what Congress is up to.”

Matt Taibbi on John Boehner (Rolling Stone)

GOP: We’re back! Did you miss us?

I started reading Rolling Stone back in the late ’60’s. I remember it as a different magazine. Or maybe I was just different (sure bet). I loved the pieces by Hunter S. Thompson. I had never read any reporting like that.

I recently subscribed to Rolling Stone, for one reason: Matt Tiabbi. I’ve been following his stuff or a few years now. I trust him and believe his reporting. I remember how disappointed I was when he called out the Obama administration for bringing in a batch of Wall Street crooks. But I didn’t doubt the accuracy of his reporting (or his outrage).

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the Tea Party movement (without subjecting myself to being in their presence). Here’s some excerpts from Mr. Taibbi’s piece in the October Rolling Stone: Continue reading