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American democracy dies, murderers caught on video (or The Republicans pull a REALLY creepy move)

If you haven’t seen the video yet of Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on the floor of the House asking for a clarification on the rules of the shutdown, believe me, it’s well worth watching.

There’s a compelling reason it’s been garnering hundreds of thousands of YouTube plays the past few days: Very simply it shows—beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt—that the Republicans not only planned the government shutdown in advance, but that they made damned good and sure that when their neanderthal putsch started, there would be new rules in place to prevent it from being voted on.

It’s astonishing. It’s not like I expect that this clip will be discussed on Fox News anytime soon, but a Republican with even a modicum of intelligence, honesty and decency would be obliged to see exactly same thing that the rest of us see when we watch this clip.

If you’re unclear of exactly what’s happening, under normal circumstances any Congressperson can call for a vote on any bill at any time.

Not anymore! Prior to the shutdown, the Republicans very quietly passed H.R. 368, a measure that only House Majority Leader Eric Cantor can call for an end to the shutdown.

That’s right Eric Cantor and ONLY Eric Cantor—not even Speaker of the House John Boehner or any other ranking Republican—unless Cantor gives his express permission for a designee to do it. Via Talking Points Memo:

So unless House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted the Senate spending bill to come to the floor, it wasn’t going to happen. And it didn’t.

“I’ve never seen this rule used. I’m not even sure they were certain we would have found it,” a House Democratic aide told TPM. “This was an overabundance of caution on their part. ‘We’ve got to find every single crack in the dam that water can get through and plug it.’”

Congressional historians agreed that it was highly unusual for the House to reserve such power solely for the leadership.

“I’ve never heard of anything like that before,” Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told TPM.

“It is absolutely true that House rules tend to not have any explicit parliamentary rights guaranteed and narrowed to explicit party leaders,” Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at the Brookings Institution, told TPM. “That’s not typically how the rules are written.”

The rule change was made to prevent a majority vote from becoming even a possibility without the expressed consent of ONE MAN! Fewer than 25% of Americans support the GOP’s shutdown and yet here we are

This is democracy? It’s thisclose to being fascism. The dummies are in charge. Minority moron rule. Joseph Stalin or Il Duce would laugh at what America has become. The whole thing is worth watching—and infuriating—but by around the 5:00 mark, the cat’s out of the bag thanks to Congressman Van Hollen.

Judging from the rapidly escalating number of YouTube views, I think it’s safe to say that it’s not going back in again. Please share with everyone, even, make that especially, your Uncle Ronnie the Teabagger. He’s never going to hear about this from Rush or see it on the Fox News, but Uncle Ronnie really needs to know about this…

And then there is this, an earlier, less dramatic, but in no way less revelatory confrontation that took place two weeks ago when Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) noticed something seemed fishy and asked some uncomfortable questions of the Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), who flat out admits that she’s right!

“That’s what I’m saying. We took that away.”

Sessions tells her of GOP “resolve” in the debt ceiling battle. Here’s her response:

“Oh, Mercy. It just gets deeper and deeper. I want to tell you the resolve that I think you’ve got. And despite the fact that every one of you said, over and over ad nauseam, that you didn’t want to shut the government down, we spent some time down in my office watching so many of your members — right after they were elected in 2010 — saying how much they would like to shut down the House to great applause.”

“I think it is really shortsighted, I think it is an atrocity to the Rules of the House. And I think you’re putting the whole country through this angst and this aggravation that we did not need to go. This one we could have done without.”

“And I must tell you that I’m more and more angry now that I understand what you have done is take away our ability is to really make a motion for that Senate vote.”

Guess what? The Tea party-led government shutdown came THE VERY NEXT DAY!

Go right to 1:20 and start from there. If this isn’t an admission of guilt, I don’t know what would be…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Long live the authentic revolution!’ Peter Falk shined in Jean Genet’s ‘The Balcony’

Peter Falk’s death today will bring back memories to Boomers and Gen X-ers of his title role as the good-natured and shambling L.A. detective in the ‘70s TV show Columbo. But by the time he donned that character’s famous trenchcoat, he had about 15 years of acting under his belt, most famously in gangster roles in films like Murder Inc. and Frank Capra’s last, Pocketful of Miracles. (Of course, he augmented the Columbo years with amazing performances like his role as Nick in John Cassavettes’s masterful A Woman Under The Influence.)

He also appeared as the Chief of Police in Joseph Strick’s 1963 adaptation of Jean Genet’s surreal play The Balcony. The film stayed faithful generally to Genet’s meditation on revolution, counter-revolution, and nationalism, which is set in a brothel/movie set/fantasy factory designed for its authoritarian allegorical characters while unrest boils over in the fictional country outside.

Here’s Falk’s big segment after his character breaks up the party. May he rest in peace.


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Say hello to the face of dopey wannabe-fascism

Yes, talk on the white Right about “camps” and “guns” should send a shiver up my spine as a Jew (whose father spent time in an immigration camp in post-WWII Palestine). But I hope I’m not the only one who thinks that this type of thing represents the fascinating last gasp of mainstream hegemonic white-identity politics. I have trust in the rest of this country’s people. Maybe I’m hopelessly naive.

As seen in the video below, here’s Marg Baker, Tea Party Republican candidate for Florida House of Representatives, District 48, on immigration:

We can follow what happened back in the ‘40s and 50s. I was just a little girl in Miami, and they filled camps with the people that snuck into the country because they were illegal. They put them in the camps and shipped them back. We can do that.

Of course, those camps held Cuban refugees who fled the repressive Machado and Batista regimes, which leased virtually all of the country’s resources, land, financial system, electric power production, and industry to US monopolies. But, history shmistory.

On the Second Amendment:

We’ve gotta have guns!


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Giving the Holocaust an R-Rating: The Strange Case of “A Film Unfinished”

“…Disturbing images of Holocaust atrocities including graphic nudity.” These are the elements cited by the Motion Picture Association of America in giving an R-rating to Israeli director Yael Hersonski’s intense-looking documentary, A Film Unfinished, which opens widely this month.

Produced and distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories, A Film Unfinished centers around the making of the unearthed last reel of Ghetto, a Nazi propaganda film shot in the Warsaw Ghetto and proffered as a document of life there. The reel contains multiple takes of staged, exoticized footage of Jewish life, including a fictionalized depiction of the contrast between “rich” and poor ghetto dwellers.

The R-rating ensures that the film can’t be shown in public school classrooms, a situation ludicrous enough to be called out by Oscilloscope owner and Beastie Boy Adam Yauch a.k.a. MCA. From what I understand, the “graphic nudity” that the MPAA cites refers to female ghetto dwellers entering a mikvah, or Jewish ritual bath. As for the atrocities, well, kids seem to be exposed to plenty of gratuitous and stupid violence on TV, movies and video games. Maybe it would be worth whatever trauma they may go through watching and discussing A Film Unfinished to not only viscerally understand genocide, but also get a classic lesson in media manipulation.

Nice work, MPAA.

Oscilloscope Laboratories will also release the Allen Ginsberg biopic Howl and the doc William S. Burroughs: A Man Within this fall.


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment