If Republicans Insist on Negotiations, This Time They Have to Pay.

There’s an interesting line of thought being tested in the blogosphere that alleges that Democrats actually have to negotiate with Republicans, but not in order to give them any sort of concessions, but on the contrary, to get something out of it, as Republicans are seeking for a face-saving way out. Peter Beinart thinks that it would be beneficial for Democrats to provide them with such a way out.

I couldn’t help but recall a great American short story by O. Henry, The Ransom of Red Chief, that deliciously describes exactly this sort of predicament. Two swindlers, short of $2000 for a business venture, devise a plan to kidnap a 10-yeat old son of a wealthy citizen. The kid thinks he’s an Indian Chief on a warpath and only welcomes this sort of development. The two hapless kidnappers didn’t account for such a turn of events, as the kid terrorizes them with violent games. As the boy’s father, the prominent Ebenezer Dorset, responds to kidnappers in a note, he’s fully aware of the predicament those guys got themselves into, and shrewdly demands a payment of $250 just to take the boy back.

The end of the story needs to be quoted in full:

It was just twelve o’clock when we knocked at Ebenezer’s front door. Just at the moment when I should have been abstracting the fifteen hundred dollars from the box under the tree, according to the original proposition, Bill was counting out two hundred and fifty dollars into Dorset’s hand.

When the kid found out we were going to leave him at home he started up a howl like a calliope and fastened himself as tight as a leech to Bill’s leg. His father peeled him away gradually, like a porous plaster.

     “How long can you hold him?” asks Bill.

“I’m not as strong as I used to be,” says old Dorset, “but I think I can promise you ten minutes.”

“Enough,” says Bill. “In ten minutes I shall cross the Central, Southern and Middle Western States, and be legging it trippingly for the Canadian border.”

And, as dark as it was, and as fat as Bill was, and as good a runner as I am, he was a good mile and a half out of Summit before I could catch up with him.

If Republicans want to get out of the hole they dug themselves into they have to pay something for it.


Conservatism reduction to the absurd.

One can feel sorry for Boehner: he tried to strengthen, if only from the PR perspective, the Republican position pre-fiscal cliff, only to be humiliated by his own crazies.

Boehner introduced a Plan B to Congress that included tax cuts for those making under $1mln a year. The plan was simple – to pass it with the partisan vote of 218 Republicans, so that bill would act as a fallback position/some leverage to present to the public when the fiscal cliff happens on January 1st. Of course, everyone, including Boehner, knew that this bill has no chance of passing Senate and being signed by Obama; the whole purpose of this bill was to show the public: “See? We also have a plan! That cuts taxes for 99.8%! But Democrats refuse to cooperate!”  The passage would at least somehow give the Republicans a piece of legislation to wave in front of critics and to give the public, who doesn’t have time for details, the impression that something is being done. Well, they failed even at that due to the crazy wing, for whom to raise taxes on millionaires is anathema and for whom having even slightly better PR position is worse than maintaining their ideological purity. Plan B failed to pass the House.

Which only clears the way for Obama to let the “cliff” proceed. Come January and accompanying spending cuts and increased taxes, both sides will be ready to do something about it for real. Obama will introduce a tax cutting bill, goes across the country to promote “tax cuts and recovery” theme, dares Republicans not to pass it, they grudgingly acquiesce, and Obama and the Democrats will become known as tax cutters and the promoters of economic growth.

Obama has already chipped away at the traditionally Republican domain of  strong foreigh policy by killing Bin Laden. Now he’s trespassing into the holiest of the holy of the Conservatism – fiscal responsibility. He leaves them no ground to stand on. What do they have left? What do current conservatives stand for? Obama smartly touches everything that they hold dear and they begin to despise the very positions that they previously held simply because they view them as contaminated. But all Obama does is govern as a center-right politician and that drives them nuts, because Obama is not supposed to be that. He’s supposed to be a caricature that they have internalized.

I do feel sorry for conservatives. Traditional conservatives used to have very good ideas that I find compelling: fiscal responsibility; personal responsibility; foreign policy restraint; right to privacy; respect for social contract and social cohesion, patriotism. But now they seem to have been reduced to the absurd with their unyielding zeal: fiscal responsibility means holding the country they allegedly love hostage; personal responisbility means you’re on your own even if you did everything right; foreign policy means calling for sending troops to every conflict worldwide; right to privacy does not include the right to reproductive privacy; social contract means worshipping the rich as “job creators”, and patriotism took a form of jingoism.

Current political disagreements are not between left and right, not between liberal and conservative. It’s between practical and ideological, reasonable and absurd. If it is Obama who will save the conservatism from its impostors, so be it.

Perfect Chance for Democrats to blow a Congressional Seat.

For a long time I have been nursing a theory that that the political spectrum is not a straight line but a circle where extreme left and extreme right converge at some point. Imagine a circle where moderate center is at the top, traditional left is at -1 and traditional right is at +1 (or at 9:00 and 3:00 respectively) and then the extreme left and right converge at the bottom. What is the most common unifying issue that brings both extreme left and extreme right together? Alas, nothing original, anti-Semitism.

Next Tuesday Democrats in Brooklyn will vote in the primaries for one of the two candidates: Hakeem Jeffries and Charles Barron. Charles Barron is former Black Panther, a friend of Moammar Quaddafi and Robert Mugabe, who called Thomas Jefferson a “pedophile”, and who thinks that Israel is a “terrorist state”. Somehow he managed to get endorsement of the congressman whose seat is at play, Ed Towns. In addition to that endorsement he also received support from none other than David Duke, the Grand Wizard of Ku Klux Klan. My theory is being confirmed.

“In a race for Congress between an anti-Zionist black activist and a black activist who is a bought and paid for Zionist Uncle Tom, I’ll take the anti-Zionist any day,” Duke explains — the “Zionist Uncle Tom” being Barron’s opponent Hakeem Jeffries, the establishment favorite.

I am a progressive, a lefty, yes, but nothing pisses me off more than the liberal community’s unwarranted tendency to tolerate all sorts of fringe elements. How the hell can an anti-Semite pose a serious challenge to a mainstream candidate, in Brooklyn, of all places?
The right, of course, has been entirely consumed by the fringe elements, which can serve as an Exhibit A of what not to do. But we’re talking about the left now. Have you heard the ubiquitous joke about a liberal at a gun point, who’s trying to figure out why the thug is pointing a gun at him rather than shooting him back? Left with Balls would not bother with such rituals. And did I mention that Left with Balls supports gun rights? You fight force with force – there’s no other way, not today. Not a time to be a Gandhi. And that’s that.

Btw, it’s a safe bet that if Charles Barron wins, the seat will go Republican in November.


Jesus! This gets better and better with each passing day.

Census caught in anger toward Washington

WASHINGTON — Texas is counting on the 2010 Census to deliver four new congressional districts, four new Electoral College votes in presidential elections, and millions of dollars in additional federal aid. But, as some elected officials are starting to worry, Uncle Sam can’t deliver anything to the rapidly growing Sun Belt state unless Texas residents deliver their forms back to the government.

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Real American Experience

Some friends recommended that I expand my posts into a wider range of topics. I think it’s a good idea. How much more can I trash Republicans? Although, I’m afraid, that no matter what I write about I will be inevitably skewed into looking at things through a political prism. Whether I write about money, sex or drugs I like to put things into context.

Here’s a good story about my real American first-hand experience.

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Left nuts and Right nuts

Left nuts and Right nuts.

Folks! Every party has its own nuts. One might think that these two camps are diametrically opposite, having nothing in common and would welcome a chance to kill each other. But the more I think about it the more it seems to me that political specter is not a straight line with two opposite poles with nuts on each side, but a circle where the nuts actually converge. While you are trying to picture this, let me elaborate further.

Exhibit 1: Far Right nuts:

Exhibit 2: Far Left nuts (no, no it’s not Barney, it’s the woman he’s talking to):

See, they have a common theme which comes down to Obama being a Nazi.

But I must say, that the nuts on the Left are pretty lonely. Besides, most of them are harmless like tree-huggers or Pink Coders (Code Pinkers?), or annoying, like those occasional “Free Palestine” freaks on Union Square that just stand there under the green banner of Islam and disrupt traffic.  They also, from what I can tell, just stick to calling Obama a Nazi, because, perhaps they figured, if they throw Socialist, Marxist, Antichrist, etc. it might confuse the target audience.  They don’t  really have any support from the mainstream of the party, as has been aptly demonstrated by Barney Frank. He basically told her to go talk to the hand. Adults are trying to do some business here.

But the story is different on the Right. They love their nuts, they cherish them, they always give them a wink-wink, nod-nod signs, like trying to say, we’re really with you, brother, but I can’t wear my brown shirt just yet. I have to look civil, but you can count on me. Right nuts are also pretty violent. You don’t want to piss off a Right nut.

So that’s the difference between Left and Right nuts – the treatment that they receive from the Head Office. Pretty cool, eh?