Month: October 2013

A Celebration of (Mary) Death

“Does not Eternity appear dreadful to you…I often get thinking of it and it seems so dark to me that I almost wish there was no Eternity. To think that we must forever live and never cease to be. It seems as if Death which all so dread because it launches us upon an unknown world would be a relief to so endless a state of existense.”

Emily Dickinson

Tarpley detail

Tarpley detail‘Tis the season, indeed, for that sort of morbidly delicious humor, and since I need to update the links, anyway, we might as well add the one and only Mary Death, drawn by Matt Tarpley.

And, you know, it’s also a fine time to remind that any Emily Dickinson poem, through the magic of meter and the flexibility of the English language, can be sung to the melody of the Gilligan’s Island theme song.

Mary Death logoWell, probably not every poem, as I know there is some debate over how many meters Dickinson actually used, but that’s a debate left for those who refuse to accept that Coleridge is simply the greatest poet in the English language. Or something like that. It is easy to ridicule Dickinson as the goth prototype, but more than any technical accomplishment, her chief merit seems to be the sort of baring of the soul that isn’t the in thing to do.

Emily DickinsonOf course, any joke can go too far, and the rule of thumb for Dickinson jokes is that you cross that boundary as soon as you try to make a Dickinson joke.

Anyway, yeah. Mary Death. Enjoy.

Something to Keep an Eye On

USCapitol-bw

“What was the point of all that? This just shoots you in the arm! It doesn’t make breakfast at all!”

—Peter Griffin

Sausage. Rube Goldberg. Speak nothing of the breakfast machine.

FamilyGuy-BreakfastMachineThere are more elegant metaphors, but most involve some sort of mythic creatures, sci-fi awesomeness, or simply the hand of God. Oh, wait, I said mythic creatures. I don’t know, maybe we can low-bid for those witches from MacBeth.

Exhibit A: Beltway gossip.

Sen. Ted Cruz met with roughly 15 to 20 House Republicans for around two hours late Monday night at the Capitol Hill watering hole Tortilla Coast.

The group appeared to be talking strategy about how they should respond to a tentative Senate deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling without addressing Obamacare in a substantive way, according to sources who witnessed the gathering. The Texas Republican senator and many of the House Republicans in attendance had insisted on including amendments aimed at dismantling Obamacare in the continuing resolution that was intended to avert the current shutdown.

Sources said the House Republicans meeting in the basement of Tortilla Coast with Cruz were some of the most conservative in the House: Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Steve King of Iowa, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, Steve Southerland II of Florida, Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Justin Amash of Michigan.

The group is a collection of members who have often given leadership headaches in recent years by opposing both compromise measures as well as packages crafted by fellow Republicans. And, it seems, leadership unwittingly became aware of the meetup.

Fuller

The appearance is obvious; Sen. Cruz is already known to be plotting against Speaker Boehner. The question at this point is what he thinks he is working toward.

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A Reminder (With Pictures)

Detail of Brian McFadden, 'What Would Boehner Do?'Brian McFadden asks the obvious question: “What would Boehner do?”

Reality must, at some point, resolve to make sense. Oh, wait, that’s wrong, isn’t it?

Damn.

A Quote: Runyan Offers a Hint

“It’s going to get real shitty on the seventeenth.”

Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ03)

Let it be known that we have, indeed, been warned. A small detail, one easily overlooked because of its context, wrapped up inside a more immediate frame of reference.

Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ03)The GOP’s moderate revolt is sounding more like a moderate whimper.

Rep. Jon Runyan, a New Jersey Republican who has publicly said he would vote for a “clean” continuing resolution, has been part of the moderate meetings that Rep. Peter T. King of New York has been hosting in an effort to end the shutdown as soon as possible.

And Runyan, better known for his 13-year career as an imposing NFL lineman than for his congressional prowess, gave CQ Roll Call a candid look into the mindset of the moderate revolt.

The quick summary: Don’t count on them to sign that Democratic discharge petition.

Runyan said the discharge petition wouldn’t work because it would take too long; it wouldn’t ripen, he said, until after Oct. 17 — the debt ceiling deadline.

“It’s going to get real shitty on the 17th,” Runyan said, adding that Republicans have to find a solution on that issue.

(Fuller)

Did you catch that?

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Nothing You Need To Worry About

The only confusion that comes out is that Cruz stood on the side and confused people about the fact that every Republican agrees. He said if you don’t agree with my tactic and with the specific structure of my idea, you’re bad. He said if the House would simply pass the bill with defunding he would force the Senate to act. He would lead this grass-roots movement that would get Democrats to change their mind. So the House passed it, it went to the Senate, and Ted Cruz said, oh, we don’t have the votes over here. And I can’t find the e-mails or ads targeting Democrats to support it. Cruz said he would deliver the votes and he didn’t deliver any Democratic votes. He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away.

Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist sees all.

It’s just one of those things that seems to happen with each passing cycle of history, which is itself a very convenient thing to say since the cycles themselves are undefined, and known only by wit and aphorism; destined to repeat, accelerating cycles, the dialectic of neurosis, &c. Wit is often nothing more than a fool’s artful wisdom. Thus, it’s just one of those things ….

At any rate, when Grover Norquist comes out sounding like a reasonable conservative? There comes a point where we overlook the usual partisan barbs because it is the best we can get and one does not look a gift fish in the sphincter. But these are interesting times, there is no denying, and if Robert Costa can turn up on MSNBC talking to Alex Wagner and sounding perfectly reasonable like the conservatives we once knew and simply disagreed with, or something like that—he’s on Maddow’s show this evening. And who was it she talked to last night? Oh, yes. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA02), who did, in fact, make a couple of lame attempts to cover the party line, but, really, if we let those slide as Maddow did, it really was a pretty good interview that touched on some actually important questions. And now here comes Ezra Klein, chatting pleasantly with Grover Norquist:

No, the leverage isn’t the debt ceiling. It’s not the CR. It’s the sequester. Democrats think this is desperate privation. It’s like the Kennedy kids with only one six-pack. They feel they’ve never been so mistreated. So there’s something they want. And there’s something Republicans want. So you could see a deal there. And the leverage was the sequester. That’s what struck me as what leadership was thinking about, and it made a great deal of sense.

No, the leverage isn’t the debt ceiling. It’s not the CR. It’s the sequester. Democrats think this is desperate privation. It’s like the Kennedy kids with only one six-pack. They feel they’ve never been so mistreated. So there’s something they want. And there’s something Republicans want. So you could see a deal there. And the leverage was the sequester. That’s what struck me as what leadership was thinking about, and it made a great deal of sense.

But that’s not what we did. Ted Cruz, from left field, said we have to defund Obamacare permanently in this CR. If they offered the Keystone pipeline and the privatization of Fannie and Freddie you couldn’t take that. We only want this, and we only want it on Tuesday—Wednesday is no good. The debt ceiling is no good. So that got locked in as a principle. And people went out on talk radio and said if you’re not for this you’re a coward, you’re a RINO.

It’s actually an even better point when read in its context as a contrast between methods of pushing the agenda. And, of course, it is easy to treat contempt with contempt; the sequester is doing real, human damage in our society that is worth a hell of a lot more than a Kennedy joke.

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