1st and Five: The Weekly Tendown, June 13-19 2010. Special Halfdown Edition.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dear Internet:

I never fell into the "Why is Julia Roberts with Lyle Lovett" place; they were physically mismatched, sure, but it wasn't as if Lyle Lovett was a guy from Brody Jenner's posse; there are reasons to date someone beyond just the physical.

That said - Padma's gotta do better, right?  Not can do better, but needs to.  For the baby's sake if nothing else. 

Tendown officially opposes this situation.

Now, on the other hand:

Snooki and David Lee is something we can totally get behind. 

If you know all four of those people on sight, I apologize.  Welcome to my world.  Let's do some Tendown 31.

First: A Tragedy of the First Proportion
I've got 45 minutes to write Tendown this week, as I'm moving (tonight is my last night in the house I've owned for a decade; it would be a little emotional for me; the largest failure of my life as I'm unable to keep my house as a result of the Panic of 2008 - but it's not, there's air conditioning in the house we rented this week - and I'll take cool over everything else during what is currently the hottest June in south Florida history) and need to get back to the furniture store.  So, what is normally a 4-6 hour Sunday process will have to be severely truncated.

The one element of the week I wanted to cover was Joe Barton, the ranking Republican on energy - saying this to BP CEO Tony Hayward about Obama's securing from BP a promise to put 20 billion dollars in escrow for the damage it continues, daily, to cause, on the Gulf Coast:

I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20 billion shakedown

Barton's taken 1.4 million from Big Oil in campaign contributions.

His very top is contributor Anadarko Petroleum from which he's received $146,500.  Anadarko has a 25% stake in the still gushing BP well and has received a bill for its cleanup.

The right wing came to Barton's defense. 

And why not? 

After all, they don't think Obama should have anything to do with the BP leak - it's a problem caused by and to be solved by private industry.

Except when they're calling it Obama's Katrina.  Then it's "why didn't the President act more quickly."

Michelle Bachmann called the escrow account redistribution of wealth.  Yeah!  That's what it is!  Socialism!  Which we don't like. 

Except that two weeks ago Bachmann said Obama should be seizing ships to clean up the spill.:

The administration, they were hands off. They didn’t do anything. Where were the boats that could have been commandeered by the government to be sent into this region to deal with that oil plume as it was coming up in the water and destroying marine life? Nowhere to be found. Why? The administration was hands off on this policy.

But it's really a federalism issue, of course.  You know - the right wing is very concerned with issues of limited government.  That's why Barry Goldwater, Bill Buckley, William Rehnquist - and 45 years later, Rand Paul were opposed to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - it's just not the role of the federal government to interfere in the private decisions of a corporation - that use of power is creepy and dictatorial.  Yeah!  That's what it is!  Yeah!  Dictatorial!

Except of course when it came to George Bush's unitary theory of the executive branch.  Bush used signing statements to lay the groundwork for the most expansive view of Presidential power ever offered in the history of the United States.  We just spent a decade in which the executive branch put forth unprecedented programs of domestic spying and torture, and did so with the argument that Presidential power could go unchecked.  From the Boston Globe in 2006:

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive-power issues, said Bush has cast a cloud over ''the whole idea that there is a rule of law," because no one can be certain of which laws Bush thinks are valid and which he thinks he can ignore.

(Greenwald, by the way, dead on about Obama carrying on Bush's civil liberties record).

This is not that complicated.  Those actions - spying, torture - those actions were aimed at the powerless. When a restaurant or a hotel would refuse service to someone due to race - or refuse to hire or promote someone due to race or gender - those actions were aimed at people who had less power.

And the right wing stands with power.  And that's all.

And when it comes to putting restrictions on health insurance companies in order to make health care more affordable - when it comes to securing 20 billion dollars from BP to aid victims of the environmental catastrophe caused by its negligence - those actions were aimed at the powerful. 

And the right wing stands with power.  And that's all. 
It's not small government.  The right wing wants to drop bombs, keep gays from marrying, and tell a pregnant woman what do do with her womb.  It's power.  They worship it.

A Republican congressman sees a corporation that made 6 billion in profit in the first quarter of 2010 and says that securing 20 billion dollars over 4 years from that corporation is a "tragedy of the first proportion."

A Republican congressman sees a CEO who made 4.9 million dollars in 2009 and personally apologizes to him for the actions of the President. 

The right wing loves power.  That's it and that's all. 

After the jump - the rest of the Tendown.  Another 1st and 5 this week. 
1. And Violence.  The Right Loves Some Violence.
Right wing politicians enjoy trading on the violent tendencies of their followers.  They love them some puffed up "boot in your ass" rhetoric and then scattering from that rhetoric whenever called on it.  Like Bill O'Reilly using the phrase "Tiller the Baby Killer" over and over and over again - and then expressing shock (SHOCK!) that anyone would think that when George Tiller was assassinated by someone who then pled defense of others, arguing that his homicide was justified because he was saving babies that any connection existed between words and deeds. 

A right winger running for Congress in Alabama has a commercial featuring guns and those in Revolutionary War dress discussing "gathering your armies" against the federal government. 

"Today, we have an Internal Revenue Service that enforces what they call 'a progressive income tax.' You'll love this: Every year, if not every quarter, we're basically required to spy on ourselves -- report what he earn, who we hire and fire with an all-powerful separate court system. Without representation, they can increase taxes, impose costly regulation or conduct malicious audits.

"Now this same IRS is going to force us to by health insurance. Cram it down our throats, or else. Now I took a took an oath to defend that with my life [points at copy of Constitution] and I can't stand by while these evils are perpetrated.

"You gentlemen revolted over a tea tax. A tea tax. Now look at us! Are you with me?"

Putting aside an inability to read a history book (the revolution really wasn't about a tea tax); the right wing understands, right, that the 16th Amendment is in the Constitution?

Then there's Sharron Angle, who said that "second amendment remedies" might be required if Harry Reid couldn't be defeated at the ballot box. 

(She also has previously discussed making alcohol illegal - but that doesn't play so well to the gun loving, power fellating right wing.) 

The right loves the music of violence.  They'll take their guns to the town hall meetings - not as a threat, why would anyone take bringing a gun to a political discussion as a threat - I mean, sure, if we don't get our way, myabe there will be second amendment remedies - but there's no threat there - and sure, of course, George Tiller did kill babies, and we said so, on Fox News, over and over and over and over again - but when he's murdered by someone arguing that Tiller killed babies and needed to be stopped - hey, that's just a coincidence.  Nothing to see here. 
I'm already half an hour late. 

2. They Also Like Landmines

Here's a right winger running for congress in New Mexico saying that maybe we use landmines on our southern border.

3. But Not Black People
When Iowa Congressman Steve King says Obama has a "default mechanism" that "favors the black person." to what character trait of his constituency is he playing?

Let's be honest, come on.  When Rush Limbaugh talks about Obama as being a lifelong product of affirmative action, always handed one position after another - we know what's going on, right?  When Simple Jack says Obama has a "deep seated hatred for white people" - there is a wider than we like to think strain of white America that looks at African-American success in any field that doesn't involve running fly patterns or dancing onstage with your five brothers as somehow illegitimate.  Even then - what was the heart of Limbaugh's Donovan McNabb criticism - that he isn't very good, but he keeps getting a pass from the media; and ask some middle aged white guy about hip hop and what will he say?  Not really music, not really singing, doesn't really take any talent.

For every black person who has achieved success in a predominantly white field, there are a hundred white guys he's left behind mumbling about special preferences.  He's "not really" the boss - you know how it works.

Whether it's "he wasn't really born in this country" - or "he's really a Muslim" (you know, not a regular American, who of course would have to be Christian) or tea partiers bringing guns to town halls where Obama is speaking or southern Congressmen shouting "you lie" during speeches to Congress - as often as they can, in as many ways as they can, the right wing embraces the "you don't really have to listen to what that black guy says - he isn't really the President - he's just out for his own" meme.  Which is why they look to put something like the 20 billion dollar escrow into the language of "redistribution" - which is why the opposition to the stimulus package (which should have been about 4x bigger, had we listened to economists) was "why should I pay your mortgage off for you" - which is why a health care bill which still leaves us last in advanced nations in the degree to which we view access to medical care as a guarantee of citizenship was cast as "get a better job, ya lazy bum."  It is relentless.  You don't have to hunt for it. 

Now just links.  Or I'm never moving.  I've lived here almost ten years, I'm anxious and sad.

I now have a new couch.  And desk.  And television.  Lot going on.

4. The book you should read
If you'd like some insight into how the criminal court system actually functions in this country, take a look at

Ordinary Justice: How America Holds Court.  These aren't outlying cases, not shocking, rarely seen abuses of the system, not "they picked the wildest stories to tell here" - these are multiple officers of multiple courts and this how it works.


5. And now Whitesnake Sells Wine
Not in 1987.  Today.

Hope they kick a couple of points off the back end to Kitaen. 

That's Tendown 31.  I'll see you next time...if there is a next time.

Your pal,


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