In Praise of the Late Iain M. Banks and His "Culture"

Live from Portland, ME: Anne Laurie: Even Politico Is Beginning to Worry…: "…because the Repubs are sailing On Beyond Crazy...

...Michael Grunwald....

After five Republican debates, most Americans know about Donald Trump’s... desires to end birthright citizenship, stop Muslim immigration and kill families of suspected terrorists. Much less attention has been paid to Carly Fiorina’s conclusion that the minimum wage is unconstitutional, Mike Huckabee’s pledge to defy Supreme Court rulings he deems incompatible with God’s law, Rick Santorum’s claim that Islam is not protected by the First Amendment, or Chris Christie’s threat to shoot down Russian planes and launch cyberattacks on Chinese leaders. Those... were just overshadowed by the furor over Trump.... The debate transcripts read like a Democratic opposition researcher’s dream....

I’ve watched all the debates... but... was amazed how many radical statements had slipped under my radar. Ted Cruz called for putting the United States back on the gold standard. Marco Rubio accused President Barack Obama of destroying the U.S. military. Huckabee said Bernie Madoff’s rip-offs weren’t as bad as what the government has done to people on Social Security and Medicare. Lindsey Graham said his administration would monitor all ‘Islamic websites,’ not just jihadist ones. I had even forgotten Trump’s claim that vaccines caused autism in a 2-year-old girl he knew.... None of those statements drew any pushback from the other Republican candidates, or, for that matter, the media moderators. Neither did Ben Carson’s assertion that if the United States had set a goal of oil independence within a decade, moderate Arab states would have ‘turned over Osama bin Laden and anybody else you wanted on a silver platter within two weeks,’ which is wackadoodle on multiple levels....

Democratic leaders have expressed glee about these nationally televised festivals of right-wing me-too-ism, but another way of thinking about them is as highly rated, mostly unrebutted advertisements for the notion that Obama is a disaster and America is in peril... more than 20 hours to tell the public that ‘the idea of America is slipping away,’ that ‘we’re on a path to socialism,’ that ‘America has been betrayed.’ Nobody on the debate stage disagreed when, for example, Christie declared that Obama doesn’t respect the military or the police, or that Americans believed in a more prosperous future in January 2009 (when the economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month) until Obama ‘stole’ that belief. You might not take Christie at his word that Obama is a ‘feckless weakling,’ but when you hear it over and over, you might assume he must be missing at least some feck....

Ah yes, the cult of BothSides--all the GOP candidates are spinning lies and nutcase fantasies as loudly as they can, but it’s President Obama’s fault for not, I dunno, arranging to have the debate stage struck by a bolt of lightning. Grunwald ties up his jerimiad by complaining that ‘the Democrats are acting like they’ve lost their feck’, unlike the ‘confident… perhaps overconfident’ Republicans. If our proud nation is destroyed at the hands of feral revanchists, at least the Politico lads will have their savvy takes to hug.

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