Now That’s Leadership

 Posted by on May 2, 2013 at 2:15 PM
May 022013
 

ToomeyRepublican Senator Pat Toomey makes a Kinsleyan gaff: Tells the truth about GOP obstructionism

Today’s GOP, split between its traditional Wall Street moneyed interests and its hyper-ideological Teabagger contingent, the reincarnation of its former discredited Bircher wing, has reached new levels of political dysfunction. (Its other faction, Christian fundamentalists, has been rather quiescent of late, most likely due to a paucity of pending national social legislation.)

It’s as if GOP icon Ronald Reagan had, after firing the air traffic controllers, replaced them with the inmates of Ken Keseys Cuckoo’s Nest and Christopher Lloyd’s Dream Team.

Politico captures the mood:

Less than two weeks ago, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy walked upstairs to Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Capitol office to discuss a sensitive issue: Why did Cantor schedule a vote before McCarthy had the chance to survey Republican support?

The meeting — described as “tense” by several people familiar with it — ended with McCarthy abruptly standing up and storming out of the room. Aides downplayed the exchange. But a week later, it turned out that McCarthy’s pique was merited: The health care-related bill was suddenly pulled from the floor in what was the most recent stumble for House Republicans.

The GOP leadership is dealing with an unprecedented level of frustration in running the House, according to conversations with more than a dozen aides and lawmakers in and around leadership. Leadership is talking past each other. The conference is split by warring factions. And influential outside groups are fighting them.

The chaos has led to a sense of stalemate for House Republicans, who have been in the majority since 2011.

Of course, if you listen to the Beltway Insiders, it’s all President Obama‘s fault for the resulting political gridlock. His failure to herd these crazy cats into an actual functioning body of legislators is proof positive of his “lack of leadership.” At Wednesday’s news conference, for instance, O was asked by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl whether he had lost his “juice” to get things done. O replied:

“But, Jonathon, you seem to suggest that somehow these folks over there have no responsibilities and that my job is to somehow get them to behave. That’s their job. They’re elected — members of Congress are elected in order to do what’s right for their constituencies and for the American people.”

Not surprisingly, MODO disagrees:

“Actually, it is his job to get them to behave. The job of the former community organizer and self-styled uniter is to somehow get this dunderheaded Congress, which is mind-bendingly awful, to do the stuff he wants them to do. It’s called leadership.”

Excuse me if I think that is just plain stupid. Mitch McConnell promised from the very first day that Obama took office, the GOP’s first priority was to prevent the duly elected President of the United States from implementing any part of his agenda. Four and half years later, that dedication to obstructionism hasn’t changed a wit, as Senator Pat Toomey acknowledged when explaining the defeat of a greatly watered-down bipartisan gun safety bill that would require mandatory background checks on all gun purchasers:

“In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so polarized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.”

Some? Okay, maybe there are some vestigial traces of moderation among “some” members of the GOP.  But the promise of “scoring” by lobbying groups like the NRA and the various Koch Brothers funded organizations means that if individual GOPers even thought about compromising with Obama they’d have their asses primaried in a heartbeat.

The logical end point of this blind ideological obstructionism is that the Rethugs have rendered themselves incapable of taking yes for an answer. Take the Affordable Care Act. (Please.)  Though Obama thought nothing of pissing off his progressive base by refusing to pursue a public option, let alone a simple single payer expansion of Medicare, he instead adopted the Heritage Foundation‘s individual mandate construct that Mitt Romney implemented when he was governor of Massachusetts.  Notwithstanding that Senator Max Baucus, the chief architect of the Act, adopted the individual mandate as the core principle of “Obama Care”; and furthermore, made numerous changes demanded by the Rethugs, not a single one of them voted for the Act. How’s that for bipartianship delusion, Mr. President?

MODO concludes with her best advice on how to transcend GOP obstructionism on the issue of closing GITMO:

“The senior senator from Kentucky has been a leader in Keep-Terrorists-Offshore.  Maybe, if the president really wants to close Gitmo, he should have a drink with Mitch McConnell.  Really.”

Really?  Maybe Obama should order Marine One to deposit him on the track at the Kentucky Derby Saturday afternoon, walk down the steps dressed like a Southern waiter with a towel over one arm and a tray with a frosty mint julep on it, straight over to Mitch’s box seat, bow and say:

“For you, Massah McConnell.  Is there anything more I can do to pleasure ya’all?”

Now that’s the kind of leadership the Village courtiers would really appreciate.

 

A House Built On Sandy

 Posted by on January 6, 2013 at 12:48 PM
Jan 062013
 

breezy-pointBreezy Point, Queens, after Superstorm Sandy blew through.

With urgently needed relief for the victims of Superstorm Sandy ignored for over two months by the Rethug led 112th House of Representatives , the 113th sworn in this week managed to pass just $9.7 billion of the $60 billion the Democrat led Senate had already approved, with 67 Rethugs voting no.

In contrast, $62 billion worth of relief for Hurricane Katrina was signed into law within 4 days from the time it first made landfall. Even so, it took a firestorm of protest from such conservative stalwarts as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Rep. Steve King (R-NY)  to force a vote. King went so far as to threaten switching parties if Speaker John Boehner didn’t immediately put it on the floor. Da Boner has promised to schedule a supplemental authorization  by Jan 15.

So, what’s been the holdup? A combination of resistance from the likes of David Koch‘s American For Progress, who object to the whole notion of the social compact and the costs of being our brother’s keeper when the need arises;  and a hypocritical regional, red state  prejudice against the liberal Northeast. Lee Fang from The Nation explains the Koch connection:

Billionaire David Koch’s prime political organization, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), having failed in its $125 million quest to oust President Barack Obama, is now aiming at a slightly less sophisticated political target: victims of Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy was the second most costly in American history, leaving 100 lives lost, over $50 billion in devastation and tens of thousands of damaged or destroyed homes. Legislative efforts to help those who survived Hurricane Sandy’s wrath will reach a major stumbling block.

Earlier this week, AFP, which is chaired by Koch and believed to be financed by several other plutocrats from the New York City region, released a letter warning members of Congress not to vote for the proposed federal aid package for victims of the storm that swept New Jersey, New York City and much of the surrounding area in October. An announcement on the group’s website says that the vote next week for the Sandy aid package will be a “key vote”—meaning senators who support sending money for reconstruction could face an avalanche of attack ads in their next election. Already, opposition to the bill is growing, although it passed one procedural hurdle last night. There is some legitimate criticism with aspects of the legislation, including the fact that some of the money will go to non-Sandy related reconstruction efforts in disaster areas.

For AFP, however, the whole bill must die and victims of the storm deserve no help from the government. Koch’s top deputy in New Jersey, a surly gentleman named Steve Lonegan, who heads the local AFP state chapter, called the aid package a “disgrace.” “This is not a federal government responsibility,” Lonegan told reporters. “We need to suck it up and be responsible for taking care of ourselves.”

Easy to say when the guy who signs your paycheck is worth over $30 billion. Crooks and Liars addresses the redneck issue:

Rep. Rush Holt came to the floor and said what many are thinking: They dropped the ball because the disaster happened in a blue state. He’s not the only one to think so:

Jamil Smith@JamilSmith Wonder if the House would adjourn without even voting on Hurricane #Sandy relief if it had hit red states the hardest. Having my doubts.

This could possibly be the most despicable non-act of Congress ever. Howie Klein has more on one of the tea party idiots in New Jersey who is probably dancing a jig right now:

Among the Koch whores in the House GOP threatening to disrupt the aid are right-wing hacks in New York (like Staten Island’s corrupt Mafia-related Michael “Mikey Suits” Grimm) and New Jersey’s worst extremist ideologue Scott Garrett. Long Island Congressman Peter King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, which has been handling the bill, is worried that if the money doesn’t get approved while he’s still chair, Texas hate-monger Michael McCaul— the richest member of the House and an anti-tax fanatic— will kill it. Many Republicans still fighting the Civil War look at this as an opportunity to deal a painful blow to the hated Northerners.

Which would be a fitting postscript to the movie Lincoln. And tying the two objections together, Fang continues:

It seems particularly cruel that the Koch political machine would use its vast network of paid activists and professional operatives to kill this bill. For one thing, this is David Koch’s community. From his Upper East Side apartment, Koch lives only a subway ride away from the devastation in Red Hook. Notably, Koch’s group gave away free gasoline during the election in a wide-scale anti-Obama stunt, yet  had nothing to give to the victims of the storm. Now, Koch, one of the richest men in the world, is actually trying to take something away from them.

[...]

The other tragedy of Koch’s decision to target Sandy aid is that his company is one reason we will increasingly face extreme weather events like hurricanes, flash floods, droughts and fierce storms. The Koch brothers, David and Charles, sit atop one of the world’s largest privately held conglomerates. Koch Industries is a sprawling company with interests in commodity speculation, timber, oil refining, ethanol production, chemicals, pipelines, consumer products, and fertilizer, among others. The Koch empire, by one estimate, has an annual carbon footprint of 100 million tons. Not only does Koch’s business contribute to climate change through massive carbon emissions, as Greenpeace reported, Koch is the largest financier of climate denial political organizations and media groups. (As an aside, unlike AFP, Greenpeace ignored partisan politics and sent many of its workers to Queens to assist with relief efforts.)

And lest we forget, during the primary debates Willard called for the elimination and privitization of FEMA:

In sum, Willard argues it’s immoral to saddle our children with the bill for restoring the infrastructure that they will have to depend on. Better to leave them with this.

sandy subway

 

O, The Boner, & FDR

 Posted by on December 22, 2012 at 3:51 PM
Dec 222012
 

TehBoner2 againPlan B Boner has a sad

The only thing preventing President Obama from once again becoming a pariah among progressives is the Teabagger python that squeezes the GOP harder every time it even contemplates the word “compromise.”

In the latest round of budget negotiations, Obama has broken his campaign promises to:

1. Exempt the first $250k of everyone’s income a slight rise in taxes, back tothe rates that prevailed during the go-go years of the Clinton Administration. Instead, he raised the threshold to $400k, reducing government revenues by $300 billion in the process.

2. Hold discretionary budget cuts to $1 trillion. Instead, he added another $300 billion in order to pay for the loss of revenues above.

3. Keep Social Security off the table. Agreeing to cut cost of living increases by adopting a “chained CPI” accounting formula. As Jane Hamsher at The Lake explains, no one should be surprised by Obama’s willingness to “adjust” SS benefits, despite what he said during the campaign, given his track record on the subject.

Add to that the additional $1.5 trillions of cuts Obama agreed to in 2011, and Obama has offered to cut the budget a whopping $2.8 trillion. You’d think that the Rethugs would have jumped at the chance to reduce the size of government by the largest amount in history. Then again, they and their billionaire sponsors are far more interested in individual tax cuts than reducing the debt, as the last 20 years of Republican administrations have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Which brings us to the latest riot in the asylum known as the House of Representatives. Unable to muster any support whatsoever for Obama’s latest capitulation negotiation, Speaker of the House John Boehner instead hatched his own plan he named “Plan B.” (Plan Boner? Plan Bourbon? Plan Bust?) The Boner Plan did finally accept an increase in income taxes, but only on the uber rich, i.e. the top .2%. Blowing past the 250k and 450k thresholds, he raised it to $1 million, starving the government of revenues even more, without even mentioning off-setting budget cuts, let alone specifying which ones. [Edit/Update: ThinkProgress has a side by side comparison here.]

Boehner was under no illusion that it would ever pass the Senate, let alone survive a veto by the president. Thus it was a strictly political maneuver, probably meant to signal that he could deliver his caucus despite the caterwauling from his wingnut right. He went before the cameras, speaking confidently that he had enough votes for passage. He could thus leave town for the holidays, the ball in the president’s court.

Unfortunately for The Orange Man, he can’t count, can’t count on his own party to back his play. (Why he thought the no-tax-at-any-cost-crowd would all fall on their swords in a futile gesture is beyond me.) At the last minute, he pulled the bill from the floor, admitting that he didn’t have the votes. Hand that man an exploding ceegar…

How Washington has become so utterly paralyzed is detailed by Robert Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute) and Thomas Mann (Brookings Institute) in their book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.”  They continue their analysis in a recent WAPO op-ed “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem“:

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

Something that’s been obvious to progressives for decades seems to be finally seeping into the sclerotic brains of The Beltway Village People. Here’s what Ornstein and Mann say about the enabling contributions of The Fourth Estate, who have fully internalized the fallacy of false equivalency:

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.

Conservative ideology itself plays a substantial role in the dysfunctionality that has turned the US government into a chaotic three ring circus that has the rest of the civilized world shaking their heads in disbelief: Continue reading »

Romney’s Parallel Universe Machine (Update)

 Posted by on November 1, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Nov 012012
 

For the man who has everything (except the presidency) , this handy device takes less energy than an Etch-a-Sketch to alter reality

The fallout from Mitt Romney‘s lies about President Obama shipping U.S. jobs to China continued yesterday as General Motors spokesman Greg Martin told The Detroit Free Press:

We’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days. No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country.”

Huffpo describes  it thus:

Mitt Romney’s round of highly dubious television and radio ads suggesting that Chrysler and GM are shipping American jobs to China has managed to offend both car companies….

The day before, meanwhile, Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne penned a letter to the Detroit News insisting that there was no validity to the idea that the company was shipping Jeep production overseas. Instead, he noted, the company was looking to open new factories in China to meet increasing demand there.

Used to be that when a political campaign got caught with its pants down, it would mumble an apology or at least have the good sense to STFU.  Not this generation of Rethugs. Instead, they double down, drop their undies and moon  the world.:

The Romney campaign has showed no willingness to back off the suggestion that American Jeep workers may end up losing their jobs. In fact, the campaign has released a radio ad in Ohio to complement the one it has on television there that repeats the insinuation.

Which of course is entirely consistent with their adoption of the Big Lie strategy that Goebbels found so effective. What really makes it work though is constant repetition, made possible by Citizens United and the unlimited amounts money provided by plutocrat billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson who think so much of themselves that they’re intent in re-making the US in their own distorted image.

At the close of Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked:

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

  “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

What we are witnessing this election is no less than a battle for the very soul of the country.  We are right at that tipping point Franklin referred to.  Will we continue to be an admittedly flawed  representative government, where the democratic principle of one person, one vote prevails, and the belief that free speech is not measured in personal and corporate wealth?  Or will be become just another oligarchy run by greedy and power-hungry billionaires who have more in common with Ayn Rand than the Founders, who promised “to promote the general welfare” at home and maintain “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind” abroad.

The prospect of four more years of The Black Man in The White House is enough to send the Rethugs over the edge, despite record corporate profits and huge increases in the personal wealth of the top 1%.

The Koch Brothers spent $25 million between 2005-2008 alone, fighting every attempt to regulate climate-changing green house gases, the byproduct of their energy extraction companies.  The results are super-storms like Sandy that just killed some 74 people (and counting), traumatized millions more, and wreaked $50 billion (and counting) in property damage.

And now they’re on the cusp of getting one of their own into, arguably, the most powerful office in the world.  A say-anything politician and his Darwinian running mate that want to privatize FEMA disaster relief by further cutting the social safety net to pay for it.  How’s that for Bizarro World logic?

Somehow I think that when these traitors to the planet are called to account for their crimes they will have so deluded themselves about their assumed natural superiority and moral rightness that they will find no contrition in their hearts, and thus no need for mercy from the real Powers That Be.

 But when mercy is exhausted, when the “memory” thereof testifies to its depletion, then does justice prevail and righteousness decree. For mercy is not to be thrust upon those who despise it; mercy is not a gift to be trampled under foot by the persistent rebels of time.

The Urantia Book

I want to be around for that.  Meanwhile, a little justice and righteousness would be a good thing right now.

[Image found here.]

UPDATE: (11/1 @ 1:25 pm) Exxon and Shell just announced they made $16 billion in profits during the last quarter alone.

And here’s a reminder of what a dick Romney is on the issue of climate change.

 

Placating The Religious Right (Update)

 Posted by on August 23, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Aug 232012
 

Rep. Paul “We won’t duck the tough issues” Ryan ducking his own record

Given that the modern Republican party exists to serve the interest of the uber rich, and that there are just too few of those to ever win an election, it has had to cobble together a coalition consisiting mainly of Southerners, deficit hawks, militarists, racists, homophobes, small government libertarians, anti-government Teabaggers, and anti-science, anti-choice, fundamentalist Christians. (They’ve also had to resort to rigging and suppressing votes, but that’s another matter.)

Naturally, the GOP has had to pay at least lip service to each one of these constituencies. Traditionally, this has included putting into the party platform resolutions and amendments that capture the rhetorical intent of said constituencies, most of which are soon forgotten when they attain power.

For example, the promise of small government and shrinking deficits are belied by the growth of both the size of government and government debt that occurred during the second Bush Administration, despite the fact the Rethugs controlled all three branches of government from 2001-2007. Promises to roll back affirmative action and energy independence never materialize.(For the latter, see e.g. the Koch Brothers). Same goes for the perennial promise of a balanced budget; and to overturn Roe v. Wade (highly unlikely since it would kill the goose that has laid so many fund raising golden eggs over the decades).

But these constituencies can be played for only so long. In 2008, the rapid rise of the Tea Party, who demonstrated their power by primarying establishment Republicans that didn’t subscribe to their brand of crazy, led directly to putting Sarah Baracuda on the presidential ticket.

Now, it appears to be the fundamentalists’ turn, thanks to the rhetorical stylings of Rep. Todd Akin who single handedly vaulted their social issues to the forefront of the presidential and down ticket Congressional races by his placement of the adjective “legitimate” in front of the noun “rape.” That was in addition to his citing of a pseudo scientific theory, articulated by his mentor, Dr. John C. Wilke, that pregnancies are extremely rare in the cases of rape because women have some kind of built-in biological defense mechanism that discriminates against rapist sperm. (Hey– ducks and geese do it!) It should be noted that Akin sits on the House Science and Technology committee. (He probably doesn’t believe in evolution, either.)

Fundamentalist social issues include outlawing abortion, giving constitutional rights fetuses (personhood), contraception, and defunding Planned Parenthood. Not that they these issues weren’t already the subject of a flurry of legislation on both the state and federal level during the last twenty months or so. Akin simply put some nitro into the tank. Recall that last year’s fiscal crisis, which resulted in lowering the U.S. credit rating for the first time in history, was only resolved at the last minute by getting the Dems to agree to a further restriction on the District of Columbia’s abortion laws. These people are as a serious as a heart attack.

All this political maneuvering plays directly into the Dems’ War On Women narrative, however. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, taken largely before the Akin flap, had already shown a double digit gender gap in the Dems’ favor, and over a 2 to 1 lead on the question of who is better at protecting women’s health issues. Worse for Willard’s presidential campaign, Dr. Wilke was a highly praised surrogate of his during his 2008 presidential campaign. Worse yet, he has chosen for his running mate Paul Ryan, a Congressman who has co-sponsored every piece of anti-abortion, anti-women’s right legislation he could get his hands on, 59 by one count (Alex Wagner, MSNBC).

At least two of these laws were co-sponsored with the highly toxic Aikin. One was H.R. 212, the Sanctity of Human Life Act. This so-called “personhood” law would open the door to outlawing some forms of contraception, put women and their doctors at legal risk for abortion procedures, and require a medical exam for miscarriages where the use of an abortifacient is suspected. (Doctors could also be shot to death by the likes of Frank Szabo, who’s running for Sheriff in Hillsborough County, N.H.)


The second was H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act“, which included the unintelligble term “forcible rape”, as if there was any other kind (statutory rape of a minor being the exception). Ryan is trying to run away from the term he helped promote as fast as possible, going so far as to use President Obama’s definition: “Rape is rape. Period.”

It remains to be seen just how far the Romney campaign is willing to go to placate the fundamentalists. Willard has already agreed to allow states to outlaw contraception, said he would sign a fetal-personhood law,  promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who would help overturn Roe v. Wade, ban federal funding for stem-cell research and cloning,  oppose gay marriage and civil unions—all positions he had formerly supported, earning his reputation as a world class flip-flopper. The fact that he is a Mormon and has a Catholic running mate only inclines him that much more to the placate the Religious Right.

On the foreign policy front, Romney has adopted their embrace of extreme right wing Israeli politicians seeking to gin up a war with Iran (furthering their Armageddon and Rapture agenda). It’s no secret that Romney’s single largest political donor is casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has already contributed over $10 million and has promised to spend “limitless” amount more to defeat President Obama. Adelson, who once said he regretted having donned a U.S. Army uniform when he would have so much more preferred to have worn an Israeli one, is the most influential American proponent of launching an immediate attack on Iran. Presumably, that’s the price of his support (along with getting Romney to drop the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into drug money laundering and foreign bribery charges involving his Macao casino operation.)

Meanwhile, every news cycle that the discussion moves away from the economy to divisive, emotionally charged social and religious issues is a bad hair day for the uber rich wing of the GOP. Given the frequency that has occurred of late, it’s tempting for progressive Urantia Book readers to see a bit of divine intervention at work, courtesy of:

The angels of nation life. These are the “angels of the trumpets,” directors of the political performances of Urantia national life. The group now functioning in the overcontrol of international relations is the fourth corps to serve on the planet. It is particularly through the ministry of this seraphic division that “the Most Highs rule in the kingdoms of men.”

[Graphic found here.]

UPDATE: 8/26/12

Nick Baumann over at Mother Jones early on sussed out the real intent behind the term “forcible rate” and how it was designed to further curtail a woman’s right to choose.

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. ..

Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old’s parents wouldn’t be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn’t be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense…

Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes…

h/t to Dante Atkins over at the Big Orange

Red RoveR, Red RoveR, Send More Money Right Over

 Posted by on July 9, 2012 at 6:45 PM
Jul 092012
 

“Poor people haven’t lost their voice.  They can’t afford a voice.  And every day working people: universal laryngitis, the chronic absence of money.  As for children – children who have a big stake in our elections but no vote – for them to be heard they would need piggy banks the size of Wal-Mart heirs.  Or the Koch brothers for uncles.”

War criminal and death row inmate, Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove

“Exercising their First Amendment rights, demonstrators taped a kind of wanted poster on Rove’s office door, indicating they would like to see him wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.  Instead, he could be seen last weekend in casual wear, buzzing around in a golf cart at Mitt Romney’s Utah mountain gathering of high rollers.  No doubt plotting how to raise more millions to pay for more “free speech.”

“Let’s see if we’ve got this right:  On the one hand, conservatives declare that corporations and the super-rich can spend all they want on exercising their First Amendment rights, but on the other, they demand to keep it secret so the rest of us can’t exercise our First Amendment rights to fight back?  Have you ever heard of more cowardly lions?”
Bill Moyers

 

Bill Moyers was a broadcast journalist for more than four decades, and has been recognized as one of the unique voices of our times, one that resonates with multiple generations.  In 2012, at the age of 77, Moyers begins his latest media venture with the launch of “Moyers & Company.”  With his wife and creative partner, Judith Davidson Moyers, Bill has produced such groundbreaking public affairs series as “NOW with Bill Moyers” (2002-2005) and “Bill Moyers Journal” (2007-2010). 

For his work, Moyers has received more than 30 Emmys, two prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, nine Peabodys, and three George Polk Awards. Moyers’ most recent book, “Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues,” was published in May 2011.  He currently serves as president of the Schumann Media Center, a nonprofit organization that supports independent journalism.

The Curse Of Palin

 Posted by on March 18, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Mar 182012
 

Queen Sarah escapes from Pandora’s Box and offers her “help” at a brokered  GOP convention

Well, I investigated all the books in the library,
Ninety percent of ‘em gotta be burned away.
I investigated all the people that I knowed,
Ninety-eight percent of them gotta go.
The other two percent are fellow Birchers . . . just like me.
-Bob Dylan, Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues

The John Birch Society, banished by the likes of conservative icon William Buckley Jr. to the fringiest outskirts of the GOP universe after its leader Robert Welch called President Eisenhower a Commie, has re-emerged and rebranded itself as what we now call The Tea Party. One need only compare the original Birch agenda to that of today’s Tea Party to see the ideological connection.

From WikiP:

The John Birch Society is an American political advocacy group that supports anti-communism, limited government, a Constitutional Republic[1][2] and personal freedom.[3] It has been described as radical right-wing.[4][5][6]

The society upholds an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, which it identifies with fundamentalist Christian principles, seeks to limit governmental powers, and opposes wealth redistribution, and economic interventionism. It not only opposes practices it terms collectivism, Totalitarianism, and communism, but socialism and fascism as well, which it asserts is infiltrating US governmental administration.

The society opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming it violated the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and overstepped individual states’ rights to enact laws regarding civil rights. The society opposes “one world government”, and has an immigration reduction view on immigration reform. It opposes the United Nations, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), and other free trade agreements. They argue the U.S. Constitution has been devalued to favor of political and economic globalization, and that such alleged trend is not accidental. It cites the existence of the Security and Prosperity Partnership as evidence of a push towards a North American Union.[14] Stuart A. Wright has said that their political racism however was no different from both Republicans and Democratic politicians of the time

[William F.] Buckley [Jr.], an early friend and admirer of Welch, regarded his accusations against Eisenhower as “paranoid and idiotic libels” and attempted unsuccessfully to purge Welch from the Birch Society.[46] From then on Buckley, who was editor of National Review, became the leading intellectual spokesman and organizer of the anti-Bircher conservatives.[47] In fact, Buckley’s biographer John B. Judis wrote that “Buckley was beginning to worry that with the John Birch Society growing so rapidly, the right-wing upsurge in the country would take an ugly, even Fascist turn rather than leading toward the kind of conservatism National Review had promoted.”[47]

Wild Bill was right.  This ain’t my daddy’s conservatism we see today, but extremist Bircherism reborn. If further evidence is needed,  consider that one of the Society’s founding members was Fred Koch, father of the infamous Koch Brothers, the Teabaggers’ favorite financiers. (Proving once again that rotting apples don’t fall far from the tree.)

I was reminded of the connection this morning while reading Sarah Palin’s legacy is Mitt Romney’s problem, by brooklynbadboy over at the Big Orange.

When Samuel J. Wurzlebacher, AKA “Joe the Plumber,” won a Republican nomination for Congress, Sarah Palin’s transformation of the Republican electoral base was complete. What has happened to the GOP, much to the consternation of the elite party establishment, is that it has become a party of paranoid conspiracy freaks, religious kooks, bigots, the marginally insane, and amateur grifters like Joe the Plumber. If Palin were running in the primary election for president, there is no doubt that she would be winning it, probably handily. This, in a nutshell, is why Mitt Romney, the only plausibly qualified candidate running for president in the GOP, is having such a hard time winning what should be a cakewalk primary. This party is no longer the party of the country club or even of Ronald Reagan. This is a party unhinged from reality. This is the party of Palin..”

The distinction between the party of Palin– the GOP– and the Tea Party is rapidly becoming one without a difference, much to the consternation of the GOP establishment. Having unleashed the Teabagger tiger from its Birchian cage, they’re discovering the aphoristic wisdom that the only safe time and place to avoid being  eaten by a tiger is while riding on its back. The moment you dismount, you’re lunch.

Bon Appétit.