GOP War on Caterpillars

From: Religion Dispatches

By: Sarah Morice-Brubaker

“You guys, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus thinks it is TOTALLY UNFAIR for people to suggest that the Republican party treats women voters like voiceless, unintelligent, subhuman pests. Why, that’s as absurd as suggesting that Republicans have waged a war on caterpillars!
“If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media
outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then
we’d have problems with caterpillars,” Republican National Committee
Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s
Political Capital with Al Hunt airing this weekend. “It’s a fiction.”
So, dude, quick question: What if a lot of caterpillars themselves said their rights were being attacked? Would it still be obvious fiction? Oh, except, ha ha ha, that’s a ridiculous suggestion because caterpillars can’t talk and don’t vote, lack self-awareness, and don’t have opinions on public policy that affects them.
Okay, what if—just for grins, because obviously what I’m about to say is total science-fiction territory—we imagine that there’s, I don’t know, a REALLY WEIRD species of caterpillar that votes, thinks, talks, forms opinions on policy, has legal rights, is self-aware, and… uh… is actually a person? And what if a significant number of these mythical creatures raised protests about how Republican policies were infringing on their rights? I mean, really: try hard to imagine, as outlandish as it might seem, that the protests were not simply coming from “the Democrats” or “every mainstream media outlet” but the caterpillars themselves!
If it’s too difficult to imagine, try watching this video, but mentally changing the gender of the caterpillar. Also, every time the narrator says “hungry,” mentally append the words “… for equal protection under the law.” 

See, Mr. Priebus, the thing about arguments by analogy is that the two things being compared have to be sufficiently similar to warrant the comparison and the conclusion implied thereby. That’s what allows me to say, for example, “Reince Priebus comparing a ‘war on women’ with a ‘war on caterpillars’ is like Eric Fehrnstrom’s now-infamous Etch-a-Sketch remark about Romney: Each is an unintentionally revealing slip that confirms a lot of voters’ worst fears.”  But I can’t say, “Reading Priebus’ remark was like having mechanical pencil lead jammed into my tear ducts.” Because having pencil lead jammed into my tear ducts leaves lasting damage only on me, whereas your remark… well. Of course, what’s really rich is that in other contexts Priebus claims to cares a whole lot about the rights of entities that can’t speak, form opinions, be self-reflective, or vote. Because he describes himself as a “100% Psalm 139 pro-life republican”. And it’s in the name of that commitment that he can’t grant any legitimacy to the widespread alarm over what Republican policies mean for women.I just…. arrrgh. This really is the logic of a certain brand of anti-abortion conservatism, isn’t it? I claim to be “100% pro-life” because I profess to care about those in the human community who cannot speak, reflect, or vote.  But because of that commitment I’m under no obligation to give a rat’s patootie about things said, reflected upon, or voted for by a large proportion of the human community. Fetuses at every stage of development are really tiny people, beloved of God, who just want to be loved and cared for, and who hope for an army of principled selfless defenders. But women are like garden pests. Wow, good thing that Republican War on Women is a complete fiction. Otherwise I might be worried. 

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/sarahmoricebrubaker/5863/

The Santorum Strategy

The Republican presidential campaign is about a lot more than the campaign for the presidency. It is about guaranteeing a radical conservative future for America.

From: RSN

By:George Lakoff, Reader Supported News

“The Santorum Strategy is not just about Santorum. It is about pounding the most radical conservative ideas into the public mind by constant repetition during the Republican presidential campaign, whether by Santorum himself, by Gingrich or Ron Paul, by an intimidated Romney, or by the Republican House majority. The Republican presidential campaign is about a lot more than the campaign for the presidency. It is about guaranteeing a radical conservative future for America.

I am old enough to remember how liberals (me included) made fun of Ronald Reagan as a not-too-bright mediocre actor who could not possibly be elected president. I remember liberals making fun of George W.Bush as so ignorant and ill-spoken that Americans couldn’t possibly take him seriously. Both turned out to be clever politicians who changed America much for the worse. And among the things they and their fellow conservatives managed to do was change public discourse, and with it, change how a great many Americans thought.

The Republican presidential campaign has to be seen in this light.

Liberals tend to underestimate the importance of public discourse and its effect on the brains of our citizens. All thought is physical. You think with your brain. You have no alternative. Brain circuitry strengthens with repeated activation. And language, far from being neutral, activates complex brain circuitry that is rooted in conservative and liberal moral systems. Conservative language, even when argued against, activates and strengthens conservative brain circuitry. This is extremely important for so-called “independents,” who actually have both conservative and liberal moral systems in their brains and can shift back and forth. The more they hear conservative language over the next eight months, the more their conservative brain circuitry will be strengthened.

This point is being missed by Democrats and by the media, and yet it is the most vital issue for our future in what is now being discussed. No matter who gets the Republican nomination for president, the Santorum Strategy will have succeeded unless Democrats dramatically change their communication strategy as soon as possible. Even if President Obama is re-elected, he will have very little power if the Republicans keep the House, and a great deal less if they take the Senate. And if they keep and take more state houses and local offices around the country, there will be less and less possibility of a liberal future.

The Republican presidential campaign is not just about the presidential race. It is about using conservative language to strengthen conservative values in the brains of voters – in campaigns at all levels from Congress to school boards. Part of the Republican strategy is to get liberals to argue against them, repeating conservative language. There is a reason I wrote a book called Don’t Think of an Elephant! When you negate conservative language, you activate conservative ideas and, hence, automatically and unconsciously strengthen the brain circuitry that characterizes conservative values.

As I was writing the paragraphs above, the mail came. In it was material from Public Citizen (an organization I admire) promoting Single Payer Health Care (which I agree with) by arguing against right-wing lies about it. In big, bold type the lies were listed: Single payer is socialized medicine. Single payer will lead to rationing, like in Canada. Costs will skyrocket under single Payer. And so on. After each one, came the negative: Wrong. And then in small, unbolded type, the laundry lists of policy truths. Public Citizen was unconsciously promoting the conservative lies by repeating them in boldface and then negating them.

The same naiveté about messaging, public discourse, and effects on brains is now showing up in liberal discussions of the Republican presidential race. Many Democrats are reacting either with glee (“their field is so ridiculously weak and wacky.” – Maureen Dowd), with outrage (their deficit-reduction proposals would actually raise the deficit – Paul Krugman), or with incredulity (“Why we’re debating a woman’s access to birth control is beyond me.” – Debbie Wasserman Schultz). Hendrik Hertzberg dismissed the ultra-conservatives as “a kick line of clowns, knaves, and zealots.” Joe Nocera wrote that he hope Santorum would be the Republican candidate, claiming that he is so far to the right that he would be “crushed” – an “epic defeat,” “shock therapy” that would bring back moderate Republicans. Democrats even voted for Santorum in the Michigan primary on the grounds that he would be the weaker candidate and that it would be to the Democrats’ advantage if the Republican race dragged on for a long time.

I mention these liberals by name because they are all people I admire and largely agree with. I hope that they are right. And I hope that the liberal discourse of glee, scorn, outrage, incredulity, and support for the most radical conservative will actually win the day for Democrats at all levels. But, frankly, I have my doubts. I think Democrats need much better positive messaging, expressing and repeating liberal moral values – not just policies- uniformly across the party. That is not happening.

One of the reasons that it is not happening is that there is a failure to understand the difference between policy and morality, that morality beats policy, and that moral discourse is absolutely necessary. This is a major reason why the Democrats lost the House in 2010. Consider how conservatives got a majority of Americans to be against the Obama health care plan. The president had polled the provisions, and each had strong public support: No preconditions, no caps, no loss of coverage if you get sick, ability to keep your college-age child on your policy, and so on. These are policy details, and they matter. The conservatives never argued against any of them. Instead, they re-framed; they made a moral case against “Obamacare.” Their moral principles were freedom and life, and they had language to go with them. Freedom: “government takeover.” Life: “death panels.” Republicans at all levels repeated them over and over, and convinced millions of people who were for the policy provisions of the Obama plan to be against the plan as a whole. They changed the public discourse, changed the brains of the electorate – especially the “independents” – and won in 2010.

The radical conservative discourse of the Republican presidential race has the same purpose, and conservative Republicans are luring Democrats into making the same mistakes. Santorum, the purest radical conservative, is the best example. From the perspective of conservative moral values, he is making sense and arguing logically, making his moral values clear and coming across as straightforward and authentic, as Reagan did.

The Moral Value Systems

The basic moral values in the progressive moral system are empathy and responsibility, both for oneself and others. This leads to a view of government as having certain moral obligations: providing protection and empowerment for everyone equally. This requires a vibrant commitment to the public – public infrastructure (roads, buildings, sewers), public education, public health, and so on. No private business can prosper at all without such public provisions. The private depends on the public.

These values follow from certain ideal progressive family values, as projected to larger institutions. The progressive family has parents of equal authority. Their central moral role requires empathy with each other and their children, it requires self-responsibility, and responsibility for the well-being of other family members. This means open communication, transparency about family rules, shared decision-making, and need-based fairness.

This is an idealized view. Because our first acquaintance with being governed is in our families, we come to understand ideal versions of governing institutions (e.g., churches, schools, teams, and nations) in terms of idealizations of families.

The idealized conservative family is structured around a strict father who is the natural leader of the family, who is assumed to know right from wrong, whose authority is absolute and unchallengeable, who is masculine, makes decisions about reproduction, and who sets the rules – in short, the Decider. Children must be taught right from wrong through strict discipline, which is required to be moral. This maps onto the nation. To be prosperous in a free market, one must be fiscally disciplined. If you are not prosperous, you must not be disciplined, and if you are not disciplined, you cannot be moral, and so you deserve your poverty.

When this idealized family model is projected onto various governing institutions, we get conservative versions of them: conservative religion with a strict father God; a view of the market as Decider with no external authority over the market from government, unions, or the courts; and strictness in other institutions, like education, prisons, businesses, sports teams, romantic relationships, and the world community. Control over reproduction ought to be in the hands of male authorities.

For conservatives, democracy is about liberty, individual responsibility and self-reliance – the freedom to seek one’s own self-interest with minimal or no commitment to the interests of others. This implies a minimal public and a maximal private.

We can now see why the Santorum Strategy is so concerned with family values. Strict father family values are the model for radical conservative values. Conservative populism – in which poor conservatives vote against their financial interests – depends on those poor conservatives having strict father family values, defining themselves in terms of those values, and voting on the basis of those values, thus selecting strict fathers as their political leaders.

The repetition of language expressing those values leads to more and more working people becoming political and accepting those values in their politics. As long as the Democrats have no positive moral messaging of their own, repeated over and over, the Santorum Strategy will go unchallenged and conservative populism will expand. Moreover, repeating the Santorum language by mocking it or arguing against it using that language will only help radical conservatives in propagating their views.

Democrats are concentrating on the presidential race, hoping that if Obama wins, as it looks like he will, all will be fine. They are missing the bigger picture. The Democratic strategy of getting the independent women’s vote for Obama is not sufficient, because independent women may still vote for their local conservative leaders as the strict fathers they want to see in office.

Democrats have been gleeful about the Santorum birth control strategy, taken up by conservatives in the House as a moral position that if you want to use birth control, you should pay for it yourself. Democrats see this as irrational Republican self-destruction, assuming that it will help all Democrats to frame it as a “war against women.” I hope they are right, but I have doubts.

This is anything but an irrational position for radically conservative Republicans. Quite the contrary. It fits conservative moral logic – the logic used by conservative populists, male for sure and for many women as well. In some respects it embodies the most powerful aspects of conservative moral logic, strengthening conservative moral logic in the minds not only of conservatives, but also of independents who have both conservative and progressive world views and swing between them.

Here’s how that logic goes.

The strict father determines what happens in the family, including reproduction. Thus reproduction is the province of male authority.

The strict father does not condone moral weakness and self-indulgence without moral consequences. Sex without reproductive consequences is thus seen as immoral.

If the nation supports birth control for unmarried women, then the nation supports immoral behavior.

The conservative stress on individual responsibility means that you and no one else should have to pay for your birth control – not your employer, your HMO, or the taxpayers.

Having to pay for your birth control also has a metaphorical religious value – paying for your sins.

This is a classical slippery slope narrative. If no one else should have to pay for your birth control, the next step is that no one else should have to pay for any of your health care.

And the step after that is that no one else should be forced to pay for anyone else. This is, everything should be privatized – no public education, safety nets, parks, or any public institutions or services.

That is what makes conservative moral logic into such a powerful instrument. And conservative and independent women can be pragmatic about the birth control details, while accepting the moral logic as a whole.

Incidentally, Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” and “prostitute” remarks, while even more extreme than Santorum, make sense to conservatives in terms of the same conservative moral logic. Limbaugh apologized for those two words, but not for the logic behind them. Even after the apology for the two words, the logic lingers.

All moral logic in politics, whether progressive or conservative, is based on metaphorical thought processes, applying family moral values to political moral values. Republicans understand this and Santorum carries it out masterfully for the benefit of all conservative Republican office seekers at all levels, today and in the future.

The Santorum Strategy does not end with this election. It is part of a permanent campaign that has been going on since the Gingrich revolution of 1994, and will continue into the indefinite future.

Democrats tend to be literalists, assuming that the presidential campaign is only about the presidential campaign and that birth control is only about birth control. In 2010, they thought that health policy was only about health policy, even as conservatives were metaphorically making it about freedom (“government takeover”) and life (“death panels”).

It is vital that Democrats not make that mistake again.


Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/10418-focus-the-santorum-strategy

Could the GOP Collapse on the Payroll Tax be a Turning Point Moment?

“The Republican leadership’s collapse in the battle over extending the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits could also be a turning point moment that shifts the political momentum just as we enter the pivotal 2012 election year.

From: HuffPost

By: Robert Creamer

“In recent American politics, every major shift in political momentum has resulted from an iconic battle.

In 1995 the tide of the 1994 “Republican Revolution” was reversed when Speaker Newt Gingrich and his new Republican House majority shut down the government in a battle over their attempts to cut Medicare to give tax breaks to the rich (sound familiar). The shutdown ended with – what pundits universally scored — as a victory for President Clinton. That legislative victory began Clinton’s march to overwhelming re-election victory in 1996.

In 2010, Democrats passed President Obama’s landmark health care reform. But they lost the battle for public opinion – and base motivation. That turned the political tide that had propelled President Obama to victory in 2008 and ultimately led to the drubbing Democrats took in the 2010 mid terms.

The Republican leadership’s collapse in the battle over extending the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits could also be a turning point moment that shifts the political momentum just as we enter the pivotal 2012 election year.

Here’s why:

1). Since the President launched his campaign for the American Jobs Act, he has driven Congressional Republicans into a political box canyon with very few avenues of escape. The jobs campaign has made it clearer and clearer to the voters that the “do nothing Republican Congress” bears responsibility for preventing the President from taking steps that would create jobs.

Until the payroll tax/unemployment victory, the President had failed to persuade the Republican dominated Congress to pass any provision of the bill – save one aimed at helping veterans. But the polling shows that the public has become more and more disgusted by Congressional intransigence. Since 64% of Americans believe that Congress is run entirely by the Republicans (and from the stand point of stopping legislation itis managed entirely by Republicans), the overall unhappiness with Congress has translated into distain for the “do nothing Republican Congress”.

Congress now has lower approval ratings (11% in the latest poll) than at any time in modern history. Senator Michael Bennett presented data on the Senate floor that showed that Congress is less popular than BP during the gulf oil spill. It is way less popular than Nixon during Watergate. About the same number of Americans have a positive view of Congress as support America becoming a Communist nation. That makes it the worst time imaginable for House Republicans to throw a political tantrum that threatened to increase the tax burden of everyday Americans by $40 per paycheck — $1,000 next year – right after Christmas.

Last weekend, the Senate Republican Leader thought he had blazed a path for Republicans that led out of that political box canyon – at least in so far as the extension of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment. The bi-partisan agreement to temporarily extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance seemed to give Republicans a face saving option that – at least temporarily — took them off the political hook. But Tea Party stalwarts in the House threatened to mutiny if Boehner went along – and all week – there the House Republicans sat, at the bottom of that canyon with no escape.

House Republicans bet that the President and Democrats were desperate enough to extend the payroll tax and unemployment that they could hold those provisions hostage the way they had held hostage the debt ceiling in August. In an act of unfathomable political ineptitude, they failed to appreciate that this time, Democrats occupied vastly higher political ground.

Failure to continue the payroll tax holiday would have immediately decreased the take home pay of 160 million Americans. By refusing to agree to the compromise that had passed the Senate with an overwhelming bi-partisan majority, House Republicans made it certain that they would have been held responsible.

They might as well have hung out a huge flashing sign in Times Square that said: “Republicans are responsible for cutting your take home pay and eliminating your unemployment benefits.”

Even the conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal called on them to throw in the towel.

Democrats had every incentive to hang tough. In the end by refusing to take the escape hatch opened for them by McConnell, the nation watched House Republicans dragged kicking and screaming to support the President’s popular payroll and unemployment extensions.

The outcome of the battle was unambiguous. No one could doubt who stood up for the economic interests of the middle class and who did not. And no one could doubt who won and who lost.

National Journal reported that:

House Republicans on Thursday crumpled under the weight of White House and public pressure and have agreed to pass a two-month extension of the 2 percent payroll-tax cut, Republican and Democratic sources told National Journal.

In the end, Republican intransigence transformed a moment that would have been a modest win for President Obama into an iconic victory.

2). Strength and victory are enormous political assets. Going into the New Year, they now belong to the President and the Democrats.

One of the reasons why the debt ceiling battle inflicted political damage on President Obama is that it made him appear ineffectual – a powerful figure who had been ensnared and held hostage by the Lilliputian pettiness of hundreds of swarming Tea Party ideological zealots.

In the last few months — as he campaigned for the American Jobs Act — he has shaken free of those bonds. Now voters have just watched James Bond or Indiana Jones escape and turn the tables on his adversary.

Great stories are about a protagonist who meets and overcomes a challenge and is victorious. The capitulation of the House Tea Party Republicans is so important because it feels like the beginning of that kind of heroic narrative.

Even today most Americans believe that George Bush and the big Wall Street Banks – not by President Obama — caused the economic crisis. Swing voters have never lost their fondness for the President and don’t doubt his sincerity. But they had begun to doubt his effectiveness. They have had increasing doubts that Obama was up to the challenge of leading them back to economic prosperity.

The narrative set in motion by the events of the last several weeks could be a turning point in voter perception. It could well begin to convince skeptical voters that Obama is precisely the kind of leader they thought he was back in 2008 – a guy with the ability to lead them out of adversity – a leader with the strength, patience, skill, will and resoluteness to lead them to victory.

That now contrasts with the sheer political incompetence of the House Republican Leadership that allowed themselves to be cornered and now find themselves in political disarray. And it certainly contrasts with the political circus we have been watching in the Republican Presidential primary campaign.

3). This victory will inspire the dispirited Democratic base.

Inspiration is the feeling of empowerment – the feeling that you are part of something larger than yourself and can personally play a significant role in achieving that goal. It comes from feeling that together you can overcome challenges and win.

Nothing will do more to inspire committed Democrats than the sight of their leader — President Obama – out maneuvering the House Republicans and forcing them into complete capitulation.

The events of the last several weeks will send a jolt of electricity through the Progressive community.

The right is counting on Progressives to be demoralized and dispirited in the coming election. The President’s victory on the payroll tax and unemployment will make it ever more likely that they will be wrong.

4). When you have them on the run, that’s the time to chase them.

The most important thing about the outcome of the battle over the payroll tax and unemployment is that it shifts the political momentum at a critical time. Momentum is an independent variable in any competitive activity – including politics.

In a football or basketball game you can feel the momentum shift. The tide of battle is all about momentum. The same is true in politics. And in politics it is even more important because the “spectators” are also the players – the voters.

People follow – and vote — for winners. The bandwagon effect is enormously important in political decision-making. Human beings like to travel in packs. They like to be at the center of the mainstream. Momentum shifts affect their perceptions of the mainstream.

For the last two years, the right wing has been on the offensive. Its Tea Party shock troops took the battle to Democratic Members of Congress. In the Mid-Terms Democrats were routed in district after district.

Now the tide has turned. And when the tide turns -when you have them on the run – that’s the time to chase them.

We won’t know for sure until next November whether this moment will take on the same iconic importance as Clinton’s battle with Gingrich in 1995. But there is no doubt that the political wind has shifted. It’s up to Progressives to make the most of it.”

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partnersand a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.


Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-creamer/why-gop-collapse-on-the-p_b_1167491.html

Al Gore On Climate Change Deniers: It’s Crucial To ‘Win The Conversation’

from HuffPost, see link below

“former Vice President Al Gore suggests that people today need to “win the conversation” against skeptics of climate change in the same way people stood up to racist comments during the civil rights movement.

Speaking with Climate Reality Project’s Alex Bogusky, Gore argues that in some places, even the words “climate change” have become politically incorrect.

Bogusky explains that it is often difficult to stand up to climate change deniers, but Gore says, “it is no more difficult than it was for Southerners to talk about the evils of racism.”

Gore agrees that explaining the science beyond climate change may be more difficult than confronting racism, but says the moral component is the same.

In the same interview, Gore takes on comments by Texas Governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry, who has been an outspoken critic of climate change scientists. Perry recently said he believes there are “a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling in to their projects.”

Gore explains that scientists have previously overturned accepted views, so there’s a “natural respect” for a contrarian impulse in the scientific community. But he argues that comments by Perry and others are totally different. He says, “This is an organized effort to attack the reputation of the scientific community as a whole. To attack their integrity, and to slander them with the lie that they are making up the science in order to make money.”

Gore says members of the scientific community did not enter their profession to make money. Nor did they expect to be regularly defending themselves from political attack.

Out of fear of the public supporting “the scientific reality,” Gore contends that:

Powerful polluters … see it as a useful strategy to try to convince the public that the scientists are liars and that they’re greedy and they’re making stuff up. All in the service of their overarching strategy of creating enough doubt to persuade people that there shouldn’t be any sense of urgency about addressing this crisis.

Not all of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination are as unconvinced of climate change as Perry, however. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman tweeted several weeks ago that he “trust[s] scientists on global warming.”

The Huffington Post’s Lynne Peeples reported that, according to some scientists, Hurricane Irenemight be part of a growing trend of extreme weather events that are linked to climate change.

Over the past two weeks, hundreds of people have been arrested in front of the White House for protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. According to Tar Sands Action leader Bill McKibben,it is expected to be “the largest collective act of civil disobedience in the history of the climate movement.”

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/30/gore-climate-change-deniers_n_940802.html

We’re Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore

“I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we’re deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Written in 2004.

How did the Party of Lincoln and Liberty transmogrify into the party of Newt Gingrich’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk?

By GARRISON KEILLOR

Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned—and there was a degree of plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today’s. Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.

In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass and made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. “Bipartisanship is another term of date rape,” says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, shriekChristians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shreiking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we’re deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering! Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee rooms and write legislation to alleviate the suffering of billionaires! Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight! O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the sure sign of Divine Grace.

Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy—the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president’s personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good.

Our beloved land has been fogged with fear—fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn’t the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it’s 9/11 that we keep coming back to. It wasn’t the “end of innocence,” or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn’t prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.

Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second term.

This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn’t made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we’re not getting any younger.

Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you, dear reader. It’s a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning.

  • Help In These Times publish more articles like this. Donate today!
  • Subscribe today and save 46% off the newsstand price!
Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of A Prairie Home Companion, now in its 34th year on the air and a syndicated newspaper columnist.

Emphasis Mine.

see:http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/72-72/7193-were-not-in-lake-wobegon-anymore

3 Reality-Based Charts Your Right-Wing Relatives Will Have a Hard Time Ignoring

Here are some reality-based charts to help knock down absurd right-wing propaganda about the economy

From AlterNet, by RJ Eskow

Problem: Your right-wing brother-in-law is plugged into the FOX-Limbaugh lie machine, and keeps sending you emails about “Obama spending” and “Obama deficits” and how the “Stimulus” just made things worse.

Solution: Here are three “reality-based” charts to send to him. These charts show what actually happened.

Spending

Bush-Obama Spending Chart

Government spending increased dramatically under Bush. It has not increased much under Obama. Note that this chart does not reflect any spending cuts resulting from deficit-cutting deals.

Deficits

Bush-Obama Deficit Chart

Notes, this chart includes Clinton’s last budget year for comparison.

The numbers in these two charts come from Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2012. They are just the amounts that the government spent and borrowed, period, Anyone can go look then up. People who claim that Obama “tripled the deficit” are either misled or are trying to mislead.

The Stimulus and Jobs

Bush-Obama-Jobs-Chart

In this chart, the RED lines on the left side — the ones that keep doing DOWN — show what happened to jobs under the policies of Bush and the Republicans. We were losing lots and lots of jobs every month, and it was getting worse and worse.The BLUE lines — the ones that just go UP — show what happened to jobs when the stimulus was in effect. We stopped losing jobs and started gaining jobs, and it was getting better and better. The leveling off on the right side of the chart shows what happened as the stimulus started to wind down: job creation leveled off at too low a level.

It looks a lot like the stimulus reversed what was going on before the stimulus.

Conclusion: THE STIMULUS WORKED BUT WAS NOT ENOUGH!

More False Things

These are just three of the false things that everyone “knows.” Some others are (click through): Obama bailed out the banks, businesses will hire if they get tax cuts, health care reform cost $1 trillion, Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme or is “going broke”, government spending “takes money out of the economy.”

Why This Matters

These things really matter. We all want to fix the terrible problems the country has. But it is so important to know just what the problems are before you decide how to fix them. Otherwise the things you do to try to solve those problems might just make them worse. If you get tricked into thinking that Obama has made things worse and that we should go back to what we were doing before Obama — tax cuts for the rich, giving giant corporations and Wall Street everything they want — when those are the things that caused the problems in the first place, then we will be in real trouble.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/152201/3_reality-based_charts_your_right-wing_relatives_will_have_a_hard_time_ignoring?akid=7484.123424.OxQ7x8&rd=1&t=12

GOP’s Debt Solution: Soak the Poor

A single mother struggling to keep a roof over her child’s head would probably love to trade places with a six-figure earner and bear the burden of paying federal income tax on a comfortable salary.

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

magine a bulky schoolyard bully routinely holding you and your classmates upside-down by your shoes and pocketing the money that falls out, using the amount gained from his extortion to buy a new bike at the end of each semester. Now imagine enduring this process every day, all year, throughout each grade of school.

What if one day, the bully actually complained that you weren’t bringing enough lunch money to school because he wanted a nicer bike? Would you comply and let him rob you of a larger amount, or would you and your fellow classmates surround the teacher and demand the bully return the money he stole?

Despite billionaire Warren Buffett‘s pleas to reduce the deficit by shifting the tax burden to the super-rich, Republican members of Congress have officially come out in favor of raising taxes on the poor, while fiercely protecting trillions in tax handouts for billionairesbig oil and corporate jet owners. Right-wing politicians and corporate-media pundits have now set their sights on “lucky duckies,” or the bottom half of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes. As law professor Edward Kleinbard noted, this statement is misleading and ignores the need for meaningful reform of our tax code.

Jon Stewart creatively dismantled the poor-people-don’t-pay-taxes argument on The Daily Show, highlighting conservatives who dismissed the $700 billion in revenue gained from ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in 2010. According to Stewart’s calculations, taking exactly half of everything owned by the bottom 50% of Americans would also generate $700 billion, exactly as much revenue as increasing the tax rate for the richest Americans by a modest 3%. Stewart sarcastically suggested Republicans trim the deficit by seizing all assets owned by the bottom half of Americans.

It’s incredibly audacious for the rich to ask the poor to pay more in taxes in order to protect theirbudget-busting tax breaks, especially considering America’s wealth disparity. The gap between the richest and everyone else has grown to levels even greater than on the eve of the crash that triggered the great depression, with the top .001% of Americans now owning 976 times more than the bottom 90%. In 1928, the richest only owned 892 times more than the bottom 90%.

And of course, those accusing the working poor of freeloading ignore the fact that 1 in 4 American jobs don’t even pay poverty wages, or that the federal income tax is inherently designed to avoid hitting the poor, the elderly and working families with children. Such bold accusations also ignore the reality that all of the aforementioned groups still pay roughly one-third of their income in sales, property, payroll and excise taxes.

A single mother struggling to keep a roof over her child’s head would probably love to trade places with a six-figure earner and bear the burden of paying federal income tax on a comfortable salary. But would a six-figure earner be willing to work three part-time minimum wage jobs and still worry about how the rent is going to be paid at the end of the month? Would he really be eager to forgo paying federal income tax if it meant he had to scrape quarters together to buy beans, lentils and ramen noodles for dinner?

Big oil doesn’t need $4 billion per year in taxpayer subsidies – they’re making record profits. Excessive tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires won’t create jobs – the unemployment rate doubledafter ten years of the Bush tax cuts. And corporate jet owners don’t need a tax break while public employees nationwide are losing their jobs to budget cuts.

America needs to surround our teacher before recess and make a strong statement together – the bullies don’t need to rob us of our lunch money to continue their excessive lifestyles. Let’s stop subsidizing wealth for the sake of wealth, and leave struggling middle-class families alone.


Carl Gibson, 24, of Lexington, Kentucky, is a spokesman and organizer for US Uncut, a nonviolent, creative direct-action movement to stop budget cuts by getting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. He graduated from Morehead State University in 2009 with a B.A. in Journalism before starting the first US Uncut group in Jackson, Mississippi, in February of 2011. Since then, over 20,000 US Uncut activists have carried out more than 300 actions in over 100 cities nationwide. You may contact Carl at carl@rsnorg.org.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.”

Emphasis Mine

see:http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/279-82/7202-gops-debt-solution-soak-the-poor