The Case Against Libertarianism, Against Fear

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 

—1 Corintians 13:11

I have often chided libertarians and libertarian-ish conservatives for embracing a “childish” philosophy, one that worked well when we were cutting and shooting our way to the Pacific, living out our self-serving Manifest Destiny.

But it’s time we put away childish things.

America has matured; it has blossomed into the most powerful nation in the history of civilization.  And as it has developed and gained world prominence and dominance, its Constitution has remained the preeminent document guarding liberty and justice for all Americans, partly because courageous interpreters dared to understand it in terms conducive to life in the modern world.

For the moment, libertarians and social conservative zealots and haters of either our progressive or pigmented president—take your pick—are playing nice as they join together to rout the Democrats this November.  But as the conservative fanatic Richard Viguerie suggested the other day in the New York Times, after November 2, the Peace Train will collide head-on with the Soul Train—the fight will be on in earnest for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

But for now, let’s look briefly at libertarian philosophy through the eyes of one of its most famous national proponents, Barry Goldwater, whom George Will married to the Tea Party movement in today’s Joplin Globe:

In 1964, the slogan of the Republican presidential nominee, Barry Goldwater, was “A choice, not an echo.” Forty-six years on, the tea party is a loud echo of his attempt to reconnect American politics with the tradition of limited government.

I have owned a copy of Goldwater’s, The Conscience of a Conservative, for more than 25 years. The book was first published in 1960, four years before Goldwater was overwhelmingly rejected in his run for the presidency.  The following is an excerpt from the book that sounds eerily similar to what one might hear today, as teapartiers temporarily coalesce around demands for a drastically smaller government, some even calling for an end to what libertarians love to call the Welfare State: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid:

The long range political consequences of Welfarism are plain enough: as we have seen, the State that is able to deal with its citizens as wards and dependents has gathered unto itself unlimited political and economic power and is thus able to rule as absolutely as any oriental despot.

Unlimited political and economic power“?  “Oriental despot“?  Keep in mind that was in 1960, and Medicare and Medicaid were still liberal dreams, not to come until 1965.  One would think that after 50 years of even greater “Welfarism” than Goldwater could imagine in 1960, today we would all be bowing to our oriental despot, given a 50-year reign with “unlimited political and economic power.”  

But there just isn’t any oriental despot around, and as our elected President Obama struggles to use the federal government to lift us out of our economic doldrums, one can hardly say the feds have “unlimited” anything, especially “political and economic power.”

Such extremist talk was silly in 1960 and its just as silly today coming from platforms at Tea Party rallies or from 30-second television spots.  In fact, it is embarrassingly immature talk, and fortunately we have half a century of evidence that such fears are cynical and baseless.  Despite an increase in the role of government in overseeing our social well-being, our government is not tyrannical and we still enjoy our liberties.

In 1960, not only was there no Medicare and Medicaid, but the top marginal tax rate was a whopping 91%. Today’s top marginal rate is 35%. Hardly a sign that we are slouching toward oriental despotism.

As far as Social Security, always an object of libertarian and conservative angst, in 1960 the government only taxed the first $4,800 of income at a rate of 3%.  Today, the tax rate is more than twice that and it applies to all earnings up to $106,800. Yet despite that increase, which would have terrified the 1960 Goldwater, there still is no oriental despot on the horizon. 

In fact, Social Security is wildly successful—USA Today reported that the program “kept 14 million seniors above the poverty level” last year. Yet, despite that success, anti-government sentiment is as thick today as when Goldwater wrote in 1960:

Let welfare be a private concern. Let it be promoted by individuals and families, by churches, private hospitals, religious service organizations, community charities and other institutions that have been established for this purpose.

You hear this argument a lot from libertarians and conservatives.  In fact, it is one of their core beliefs that taxing citizens to pay for social programs is illegitimate, amounting to “theft.” The idea that taxation is stealing is creeping into the minds of otherwise sober Americans, who have begun buying into the notion that the government has no business in promoting the general welfare by establishing government social programs. 

Yet what we don’t hear from liber-cons is, what happens if we leave to private concerns all the needs of the needy and those private concerns aren’t all that concerned?  Before Social Security—when private concerns were free to promote the welfare of the poor—seniors were likely to die in poverty. The estimated poverty rate for the elderly was between 70 and 90%.  By 2008, it had dropped to less than 10%.

And whether one thinks that improvement was because of or in spite of Social Security and other “entitlement” programs—programs that are now threatened by Tea Party hysteria—there is simply no denying that the fears that have always accompanied an increased federal role in promoting the general welfare—that promotion rooted in the Constitution itself—are never realized.  Never.

We are not ruled by a despotic federal government, oriental or otherwise.  Goldwater’s State does not have “unlimited political and economic power.”

And contrary to libertarian assumptions, federal involvement in the well-being of the less fortunate, in the well-being of the elderly, has not led to less freedom, but to more.

Because thanks to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, more Americans enjoy the “blessings of liberty” today than at any time in our history.

What If God Weren’t A Republican?

Rush Limbaugh claims he is a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.  And I know millions of Christians listen to his show every week.  But I will say this:  After listening to Limbaugh this morning, as he distorted not only President Obama’s recent remarks on why he became a Christian, but Christian theology in general, I find it hard to believe that anyone can take Christianity seriously, if Limbaugh and his fawning followers are examples of it.

I will not go into the convoluted and embarrassing discussion Limbaugh had over Obama’s thoughtful explanation of his attraction to Jesus Christ, except to say that Limbaugh prefaced it by explaining that a lot of people “don’t know details of their own religious beliefs.”  He then proceeded to back up that claim by demonstrating he himself doesn’t know the details of his own religious beliefs.  As I said, it was embarrassing, cringe-inducing.

But for Limbaugh, it was typical.

I sometimes fancy what would happen if God quit the Republican Party and decided to clear his name.  I imagine the first thing he would do is send ten thousand angels to Limbaugh’s headquarters to carry his hindquarters to the deepest and hottest regions of hell, a suitable place from which Limbaugh could broadcast his daily diabolical diatribes against Democrats, especially Obama.

And I also dream that hell’s news network, Beelzebub Broadcasting, modeled after the Republican “News” Channel, would feature a sign at the entrance, “Abandon All Objectivity Ye Who Enter Here,” a place where the phony fair and balanced broadcasting buffoons are barbecued slowly, ever so slowly, as they transmit their hell-born messages to the world above.

Damn! I’ve got to stop listening to the devil.

Back to reality: For those who haven’t heard Obama’s response to the question, “Why are you a Christian?” here it is:

Squabbling Democrats

The squabble between committed liberals-progressives and the White House the last few months is understandable.

Expectations were high after November, 2008, and Republicans were somewhat successful in making implementation of the Obama agenda very difficult, and they also made it look really, really scary.  You have to give the Republicans credit.  They are very good at bad governance and when it comes to peddling fear they are Zig Ziglar on speed.

In any case, liberals have had some criticisms of Obama and Obama has had some criticisms of liberals and the truth is that both sides are right, and wrong.

It appears to be true that President Obama knew within days of his occupation of the White House that Republicans were not going to be partners in anything he wanted to do.  And it appears that despite knowing Republican plans to undermine him, he continued to extend invitation after invitation after invitation to Republicans in a vain hope that he could peel off one or two, presumably so he could put a “bipartisan” label on some fairly massive legislative efforts.

The invitations, of course, were returned to sender, unopened in most cases.  And liberals wondered why Obama kept mailing more and more of them, when it was clear that Republicans would refuse them. That is a fair criticism, and it certainly appears that White House strategy unnecessarily extended the ugly process of getting the health care reform bill passed.

Liberals also wondered why the administration didn’t fight harder for other initiatives, like a public insurance option, which, it turns out, would probably have made the resulting reform bill more popular, not less.  They also wondered aloud why the administration didn’t fight for more drastic financial reforms. 

On the other hand, Obama and his team believed they have accomplished  much, and they certainly have worked very hard, only to be criticized by folks on the “professional left” for what they couldn’t get accomplished.  Feeling underappreciated, naturally some in the administration, including Obama himself, have expressed frustration with liberals and their seeming failure to understand how hard it is to get things done in Washington.

And there was, and is, some reason for that frustration.  A few high-profile liberals have been hypercritical of Obama and his administration.  FireDogLake’s Jane Hamsher, progressive to the core, has been especially harsh, but Ariana Huffington has taken some stinging shots at the President, too, particularly regarding the financial reform law.

Hamsher believes that Obama’s words in a Rolling Stone interview, in which he says it is irresponsible for the Democratic base to be “sitting on their hands complaining,” are meant to provide political cover, should Democrats lose big in November:

No, this isn’t about getting voters to the polls in November. It’s about setting up a narrative for who will take the blame for a disastrous election. And once again, the White House doesn’t care if they make matters worse in order to deflect responsibility from Obama.

Well, despite Hamsher’s bitterness, this really is about getting Democratic voters to the polls in November.  I don’t know what she hopes to accomplish by suggesting Obama’s heart isn’t in the fight this November, considering he is the one who will pay the biggest political price for failure to hold on to the House and Senate.

And to put an exclamation on that point, here is a segment from last night’s Rachel Maddow Show, which features extensive excerpts from Obama’s speech yesterday at a campaign-like rally in Madison, Wisconsin, before an estimated crowd of 26,000.  If the President keeps this sort of thing up the next five weeks, it will be hard to question his commitment to the cause:

Dick Keeps You On Your Toes

I just received my regular e-mail from toesucker* Dick Morris.  He thinks Republicans can win 100 seats this fall!  How about that?  100 seats!

It seems that while he’s not busy spewing Obama-hate on the Republican “News” Channel, or writing tomes on how Obama is about to destroy all that is good and decent, or composing  “some of the most illuminating columns on politics available anywhere” (that quote is from his own website), Dick has had time to do a little cipherin’ on behalf of Republicans:

An analysis of the published polling data on eighty House races indicates that there are 54 districts now represented by Democrats in which Republicans are now ahead and another 19 where they are within five points and where the Democratic incumbent is under 50% of the vote.  That’s 73 likely wins. (The undecided vote always goes against the incumbent, so if a Congressman is significantly under 50%, even though he may have a lead, he is likely to lose).

Now Dick wouldn’t be Dick if he didn’t push the envelope.  You don’t get to be called the toesucker by merely contenting yourself with lips and nips:

Why aren’t there more than 73?  Because we haven’t tried.  Only about 160 of the Democrats’ 239 Congressional Districts are even remotely considered to be in play.  But that playbook is badly out of date.  The Republican message has raced far ahead of the GOP campaign and put a lot of new seats in play.  We just have to work these districts to win them.

Now, that’s some toesuckin’ right there!  He says that because nobody considered the 160 “in play enough to poll them,” that God (a GOP consultant) only knows “how vulnerable” they are.  So, if you know Dick, you know that he has a plan.  And if you know Dick, you know that his plan involves you giving him some cash:

So we are launching a new effort: Project 100, in conjunction with ReaganPac, Michael Reagan’s organization, to raise our sights and do independent expenditures in an additional twenty or so districts to give the Republicans in these newly marginal seats a big boost.  We hope to raise $2 million so as to be able to put $100,000, on average, into each of these districts.

Yep! Dick wants you to send him some dough so he can spend it in districts that have a one in a gazillion chance of turning Republican.  That is really goin’ for the toes!

But his motives are pure:

…a win of 100 seats, or anything on that order of magnitude, would be such a total repudiation of the Democratic Party that it would send shock waves through the liberal establishment.  And it would amount to the eradication of an entire generation of liberal Democratic Congressmen.

Having never developed a taste for toes myself, I don’t quite understand Dick’s enthusiasm, but after thinking about it a bit, I urge all my Republican friends to send their Bush-tax-cut dollars to Dick right away.  Because as Dick says:

Pessimism is the only limit on the potential of Republican gains this year.  If we go for one hundred, we can win one hundred!

That’s my boy!

_______________________________

*As far as I know, Rush Limbaugh was the first one to start calling Dick Morris the toesucker, for his regular dalliance in a Washington hotel with a prostitute who claimed that, well, according to Time:

She reported that Morris liked to suck her toes, has a thing for women’s feet generally and one night got down “like a dog” on all fours. At that point, she said, he asked, “Can you imagine someone walking in and seeing this?”

Here’s a typical Rush paean to Dick, from September of 2009:

Now, I have a funny story to tell you.  Kathryn and I went up to Washington for the weekend, the Redskins and Rams yesterday at FedEx Field, and we flew up Saturday afternoon because we were going to have dinner with Kathryn’s brother who lives there and we stayed at the Hay-Adams which is the toe sucker hotel.  I mean, that’s where Dick Morris is on the phone getting toe sucked while talking to Clinton while he was getting a Lewinsky at the same time.

Millionaires And Billionaires Fund Republican Takeover Plan

While Michael Steele, ostensibly the head of the Republican Party in exile, toils away in the GOP’s plantation house kitchen, cleaning up from an eight-year governing gala, the real Republican boss men congregate in the parlor making plans for yet another Age of Conservatism, the last one proving to be short-lived.

From the New York Times on Sunday:

In 2004, the Republican master strategist Karl Rove led weekly sessions at his Washington residence where, over big plates of his butter-smothered “eggies” and bacon slabs, he planned the re-election of President George W. Bush — and what he hoped would be lasting Republican dominion over Democrats.

In April, Mr. Rove summoned several of the important players behind Mr. Bush’s ascendance to his home once again, this time to draw up plans to push a Republican resurgence.

To help him push that resurgence are the usual suspects:

…the old coalition of millionaires and billionaires who supported Mr. Bush and have huge financial stakes in regulatory and tax policy…

Oh, boy! Millionaires and billionaires. Just your ordinary Republicans!

This time, Rove is assembling “a collection of outside groups,” in addition to his American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which began poisoning the political well a while ago, spending tons of undisclosed donors’ dough in various races around the country. From the Los Angeles Times:

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have already run millions of dollars in advertising in nine Senate races in California, Illinois, New Hampshire and other states. Washington state and Florida ad blitzes are likely to be announced soon.

Crossroads expects to move heavily into more than two dozen House races, including those in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and possibly California.

Some of the $31.6 million raised by Rove and his allies for the Crossroads groups also is going into a grass-roots campaign network that promises unprecedented coordination with business and conservative groups, strategies to monitor new early voting rules and a new database that will allow precise targeting of likely conservative voters. It would then generate 20 million phone calls and 40 million pieces of mail to get them to vote.

Not very comforting was a quote from David Axelrod, President Obama’s politics guy in the White House:

They’re running a very proficient party operation funded by millions of dollars of undisclosed special-interest dollars. These guys are great political operatives, and they will have an impact in this election.

Not exactly warfare rhetoric there, David.  How about this:

They’re running a political operation that is funded by millionaires and billionaires, the same folks who benefited from Republican leadership the last time they were in power, and they are trying to buy this election, the bastards.

There, I feel better. 

A ray of hope in an otherwise dark electoral cloud was provided by Richard Viguerie, who founded Conservative Digest and is known as the “funding father of the conservative movement.”  If you don’t know anything about Viguerie, just know that he used to work for Billy James Hargis, a Christian evangelist who had a penchant for Communist conspiracies.

Back to the New York Times:

Richard Viguerie, a longtime conservative strategist who has allied with Tea Party activists, said, “We’re all on the same page until the polls close Nov. 2.”

But, referring to Mr. Rove and Mr. Gillespie as part of the “ruling class,” he added, “Then a massive, almost historic battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party begins.”

At least if Democrats get kiboshed in November, those of us who write for beer money will have plenty of material, as the conservative extremists fight each other for control of the plantation.

Meanwhile, where is Michael Steele again?

Oh, yeah.  He’s in the kitchen.

The Turner Report Takes On Teacher-Bashing

I received a heads-up several months ago that Randy Turner, a Joplin blogger (The Turner Report), wasn’t fond of Joplin Globe bloggers, including me presumably, nevertheless I want to commend him on a thoughtful piece he published yesterday on the fashionable tendency to blame teachers—and their unions—for most of the problems with our education system.

Turner has the bona fides to comment on the system because he is part of it, teaching English at East Middle School in Joplin.

The attention given this week to education apparently triggered Turner’s post:

With all of the media and political firepower that has been turned on teachers in the past few years, we have been labeled, unfairly, as the root cause of all of education’s ills.

Last week, Time Magazine followed that pattern, and Newsweek did it several months ago. NBC has just begun a weeklong teacher-bashing frenzy, disguised as a forum on education.

For Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President Obama, and leaders of both political parties, teachers have become a convenient whipping boy, not only for problems in schools, but also for problems throughout our society.

While I think Turner is right about the tendency to blame teachers for “all of education’s ills,” I don’t think he is right in comparing the criticisms of the President and his Secretary of Education to those on the other side—conservative Republicans—who apparently have never met a good teacher who was also a good union member.  These Republicans, including many of our local politicians, do constantly bash teachers’ unions and do use teachers as “convenient whipping boys.”  

(Speaking of teachers as whipping boys: The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that only 2.2% of preschool and kindergarten teachers are men; 18.1% of elementary and middle school teachers are men; and a relatively whopping 45% of secondary school teachers are men.)

No doubt, President Obama and Arne Duncan have not taken the traditional Democratic approach in terms of assessing the problems we have with the education system.  They have indicated that, to some degree, bad teachers are a problem, but I haven’t heard either one of them suggest everything that is wrong with education can be fixed by firing bad teachers.  Mainly, because it can’t.

Here is part of the official administration position on education reform:

We need to stop paying lip service to public education, and start holding communities, administrators, teachers, parents and students accountable.

That’s not exactly teacher-bashing.  And here is a segment from President Obama’s interview with Matt Lauer this morning, who gave the President a couple of opportunities to bash teachers:

 

In his piece, Turner accurately places some of the education burden where it belongs:

What teachers realize is that successful education requires not only good teachers, but parents who take an active interest in their children’s education…and children who care enough to try.

I have heard President Obama say that same thing every time he gives a speech on education.

Turner continues:

Any real national education reform plan would deal with all three areas- teachers, parents, and students.

I have heard President Obama express that same idea repeatedly, including today.

Turner concludes the point:

That will never happen as long as it is more politically expedient to demonize teacher unions. No one ever succeeded politically by calling out parents and children and asking them to live up to their responsibility to themselves, to their communities, and to their nation.

Count me among those who do not want bad teachers in the classroom, but any politician who thinks the solution to our nation’s education problems can be found by perpetuating the lie that teachers are standing in the way of reform is performing a disservice to this country.

As the video clip above demonstrates, Obama and his administration are not the ones demonizing teachers’ unions. And certainly it would not help him politically to do so.  Here is a quote from the clip that addresses Turner’s point:

To their credit, you have had a lot of unions who are now working with states on their reform plans, that include things like charter schools, include things like pay for performance and higher standards and accountability for teachers, and so we have seen states be able to work with teachers unions to bring about reform as opposed to resist them.

As I said, Randy Turner, whose voice is a teacher’s voice, has a point about the teacher-bashing these days.  But most of the thumping and dumping on teachers is coming from the anti-union right-wing, who are using the problems we have with our education system as a means to not only undermine teachers’ unions, but to undermine the legitimacy of unionism, a perceived enemy of one constituency group Republicans care about above all others: the wealthy.

_____________________________

UPDATE: I just heard Arne Duncan on MSNBC (12:00 noon) actually defending teachers against bashers, and, like Obama, pointing out the fact that teachers’ unions and associations are working with reformers in many areas.

[Turner photo by Ron Graber found here.]

The Bully, The Bullied, And The Bitch-Slapper

The Joplin Globe regularly features Morton Kondracke’s columns.  Kondracke has a reputation for being a middle-of-the-road guy, someone who isn’t an ideologue but seeks practical solutions to our problems.  And like a lot of people who try to stay above the political fray, he mistakenly equates the actions of one side with the actions of the other.

It’s sort of like this: If little Billy were on the playground bullying little Johnny, and if little Jimmy decided he needed to come to the rescue of little Johnny and stop little Billy’s bullying by bitch-slapping him, Kondracke is the kind of guy who would rush to the scene and scold each child for their behavior. Billy the bully, Johnny the bullied, and Jimmy, the peace-making bitch-slapping rescuer, would be equally guilty in his eyes.

Likewise, Kondracke, in his column today, addressed Americans’ “displaced fear that working hard doesn’t guarantee prosperity anymore” by saying this:

Instead of figuring out together what to do, politicians would rather blame each other and stick to their ideologies.

Democrats want more government-funded stimulus packages and continued tax cuts for the middle class even though the national debt is nearing 100 percent of gross domestic product, the highest since World War II.

Republicans want to extend tax cuts for everyone — especially the wealthy — even though the census numbers show that income disparities are as great as they’ve been since the 1920s, and growing. Cutting domestic spending would add to the woes of those at the bottom.

This kind of stuff, my friends, is why the word “bullshit” was invented.  Citing Democratic efforts to kick-start the slumping economy—”stimulus packages and continued tax cuts for the middle class”—as the equivalent of Republican efforts to give wealthy folks tax cuts while wanting to cut vital domestic spending is, well, it’s like saying little Jimmy the bully-fighter is just as guilty as Billy the bully because both of them were fighting.

Hmmm.

Kondracke cites a couple of depressing statistics:

  • The “deplorable fact” that 43 million Americans (one in seven or 14.3%) lived below the poverty line in 2009; however, what Kondracke didn’t mention was that between 1993 and 2000 (roughly the Clinton years), the poverty rate fell each year to a low of 11.3% in the year 2000.
  • Median family income in 2009 was $49,777; to his credit Kondracke mentioned that the median family income in 1999 was a whopping $52,338, although folks would just have to remember on their own that 1999 was the next to last year of the Clinton administration;
  • American optimism about the future, as measured by the Pew Research Center, has dropped since 1999, or, as Kondracke didn’t mention, it has dropped in rough correspondence to when Republicans took over control of the White House and Congress (for most of six years) and nuked the economy, the fallout from that nuking still lingering in many people’s minds today.

Now, remember that what led to these dismal facts is that Billy the Republican bully was having his way on the economic playground.  And for Kondracke or anyone else to say that Jimmy the Democrat, trying to undo the damage done by Billy the Republican, is equally to blame for apathy on the playground is, again, why the word bullshit is in our vocabulary.

___________________________________

For nerds, read these three paragraphs from the National Poverty Center for an overview of post-WW II poverty in the U.S.:

How has poverty changed over time?

In the late 1950s, the poverty rate for all Americans was 22.4 percent, or 39.5 million individuals. These numbers declined steadily throughout the 1960s, reaching a low of 11.1 percent, or 22.9 million individuals, in 1973. Over the next decade, the poverty rate fluctuated between 11.1 and 12.6 percent, but it began to rise steadily again in 1980. By 1983, the number of poor individuals had risen to 35.3 million individuals, or 15.2 percent.

For the next ten years, the poverty rate remained above 12.8 percent, increasing to 15.1 percent, or 39.3 million individuals, by 1993. The rate declined for the remainder of the decade, to 11.3 percent by 2000. From 2000 to 2004 it rose each year to 12.7 in 2004.

Since the late 1960s, the poverty rate for people over 65 has fallen dramatically. The poverty rate for children has historically been somewhat higher than the overall poverty rate. The poverty rate for people in households headed by single women is significantly higher than the overall poverty rate.

Astute observers will notice a correlation, since 1980, of conservative Republican administrations and the rise of poverty rates.

I’m just sayin’.

What They Don’t Say

Mother Jones has come up with “a list of words and phrases and the number of times they are each mentioned in the 45-page” Republican Pledge to America.  As the article points out, the “list is as telling as the actual contents”:

Wall Street: 0
Bank: 0
Finance: 0
Mortgage crisis: 0
Derivative: 0
Subprime: 0
Lobbying: 0
Lobbyist: 0
K Street: 0
Campaign finance: 0
Campaign contribution: 0
Campaign donation: 0
Disclosure: 0
Climate change: 0
Environment: 1 (“political environment”)
Alternative energy: 0
Renewable: 0
Green: 0
Transportation: 0
Infrastructure: 0
Poverty: 0
Food: 0
Food safety: 0
Housing: 0
Internet: 0
Education: 0
College: 0
Reading: 0
Science: 0
Research: 0
Technology: 0
Bush administration: 0

The Democratic Valley Of Dry Bones

And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.

—Ezekiel 37:3  

Ezekiel, call your office.  

I’m just going to say it: There aren’t too many Democratic leaders around these days with whom I would want to share a foxhole.  

When you’re besieged by your political enemy; when it doesn’t appear there will ever be a way of escape; when things look bleak for your survival; one might think that if a weapon magically appeared in your foxhole that had a chance of freeing you from the dominance of your enemy, or a weapon that might stop your opponent’s advance, there would be no hesitation in brandishing that weapon, in fighting your way to a possible victory.  

But then we are talking about Democrats.  

By not holding a vote on the expiration of the Bush tax cuts before the upcoming election, by not holding Republicans accountable for their threat to deny middle class Americans a tax break because Republicans insist on giving millionaires and billionaires an average of over $100,000 every year to sock away for a rainy day, Democrats have essentially surrendered, the leadership has caved.  

And that’s why I would fear for my life if I were sharing a foxhole with a lot of them.  

Whether it was Blue Dog Senate Democrats or whether it was weak-kneed moderate to conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives, it doesn’t really matter.  The Democratic leadership in both legislative houses failed.  Their job is to lead, to do what is right.  

If it weren’t for the fact that a lot of innocent and hardworking folks would get hurt, I would wish the entire Democratic leadership go down in flames.  And I would wish the Democrats lose control of both legislative chambers, if the results weren’t slated to be so deleterious for already struggling Americans.  

There just aren’t enough pejoratives for such cowards, for such pusillanimous political pansies.   

After showing considerable courage in pushing for a modest reform of the health insurance system, and after pushing for reform of the financial system, and after rescuing the economy from the brink of disaster, these once-audacious legislators have pulled back on an issue that had a large majority of the people on their side.   

You see, folks can understand that when you are worried about the deficit, when you are concerned about the fiscal health of the nation, you don’t keep letting zillionaires off the hook on taxes, when everyone knows that their tax breaks won’t end up helping the economy.   

I don’t know.  Perhaps Democrats are tired.  Maybe they have carried the load of governing so long—by themselves, without Republican help—that they just want to take a break, rest a while.  It does get old doing all the work, and while you’re doing it the Republicans sit on the sidelines not only doing nothing, but jeering and throwing big ugly rocks at you while you are trying to pull the wrecked economy out of a Republican ditch.  

I understand that. But here we are, a campaign gift delivered right to the door of ailing Democrats, a gift that could lift Democrats everywhere and help them fight back against Republican demagoguery.  And not only will Democrats not accept the gift, they won’t even go to the door.  They’re hiding behind the blinds, hoping it will all just go away, I guess.  

In the mean time, the Republican onslaught will continue.  They will overrun those Democrats cowering in the foxhole, and this time, by co-opting the Tea Party, Republicans will not just take Democrats prisoner, they will slaughter them on the battlefield, leaving nothing but a Democratic carcass behind as the victorious Republicans march toward their goal of undoing all the social progress that has been made over the last 70 years.*  

One would think that prospect would be enough to energize Democrats, to put flesh on their dry bones.  And one would think that an Ezekiel would rise up from somewhere and command the four winds to give them life, to make them “an exceeding great army.”  

But then we are talking about Democrats.  

[Blue Dog illustration found here.]

______________________________  

*In fact, Glenn Beck said today that the Republican Pledge to America wasn’t bold enough in calling for spending levels to go back to pre-TARP 2008.  “How about a return to the ’08 spending levels of 1908?” he asked. Federal spending in 1908 was less than $800 million (almost 50% was for defense).  The federal government spends that much in about two hours today, so at about 2:00 am on January 1 (nevermind the fiscal year), the government would have to shut down, if Beck had his way. Good luck senior citizens! Good luck Pentagon!  Good luck airports! And on and on and on.   

Blunt Chickens Out On His Own Debate Proposal

Our own Joplin Globe made the Huffington Post today, in a story about the debating cowardice of Roy Blunt.

The story by Amanda Terkel began:

The debate over debating is heating up in Missouri’s Senate race, with Democrat Robin Carnahan accusing her opponent, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) of backing out on a package of debates that he originally proposed.

It seems that the once-courageous Blunt had written a letter to Carnahan inviting her to join him in six debates, including two on national television (Fox News Sunday and Meet The Press).  Carnahan says she accepted the invitations.

Now, however, Blunt has backed out of all but two of the debates, one in Kansas City on public television and one in Lake Ozark that will not be televised.  The Blunt logic in this strategy is obvious, no?

As Globe readers know, our paper was attempting to put together a debate between Blunt and Carnahan here in Joplin.  Terkel mentions the effort in her article:

On Sunday, the Joplin Globe in Missouri expressed disappointment and confusion with the Blunt campaign over its refusal to accept its invitation for a debate. “[Carnahan campaign spokesman Tony] Wyche, after we assured him of television coverage out of Joplin and Springfield, said that Carnahan would accept,” read the editorial. “Rich Chrismer, with Blunt’s campaign, did not decline our invitation. In fact he told me that Blunt had not declined any of the invitations. But, I didn’t get the yes I needed to move forward.”

In other words, Globe editor Carol Stark, who was trying to organize the debate, had to stop her efforts because Roy Blunt would not commit to doing it.  Damn.  When you’re afraid to debate in Republican-happy Joplin, you are really afraid.  It appears obvious, though, that the problematic part of Stark’s pitch was, “we assured him of television coverage.” Whoops.

So, not only won’t there be a debate in Joplin or Springfield, but  the largest television market in the state—St. Louis—is also off-limits for a Blunt debate appearance. 

Obviously, the more debates, particularly televised ones, the more Robin Carnahan can expose Blunt’s long record as a Republican, including his paling around with felons and other unsavory characters, and make him answer for it.

And just like the actions of Republican 7th District congressional candidate and debate-frightened Billy Long, Roy Blunt’s hide-in-the-weeds strategy should send a signal to attentive voters. 

Pledging Republicans Can’t Escape Responsibility

I can’t let the day continue without a comment on the Republican Party’s latest “Pledge to America,” apparently necessary because numerous previous pledges the party made to the American people fell, shall we say, somewhat short of expectations.

Most of the people who will be waving around the newest pledge today—which, of course, is missing important specifics—we must not forget, were:

RESPONSIBLE for a decade-long decline in middle class well-being;

RESPONSIBLE for presiding over a record-breaking lack of job creation during the Bush years;

RESPONSIBLE for the wealthier getting wealthier during their governing tenure, even as the rest of the country lost ground and in some cases lost hope;

RESPONSIBLE for handing President Obama a $1.3 trillion annual budget deficit and a fast-sinking economy, as the Bush administration slinked out of Washington;

RESPONSIBLE for handing President Obama two protracted wars, funded on credit;

RESPONSIBLE for a deficit-funded Medicare Part D program that helped enrich pharmaceutical companies;

RESPONSIBLE for doing nothing about the rising costs of health insurance and the nasty practices of private insurers related to pre-existing conditions, rescission, and other unconscionable acts;

RESPONSIBLE for standing in the way of Democrats as they have tried to repair the damage done to the economy under Republican leadership;

RESPONSIBLE for giving aid and comfort to this year’s crop of radical Republicans, some of whom have made pledges of their own to get rid of Social Security and Medicare and the Department of Education, among other things;

I urge everyone to read at least the preamble to the Pledge to America, full of half-truths, quarter-truths, and lies, while keeping in mind the above list of gifts Republicans have recently given to the American people.

If Democrats Blink, Social Security May Be Gone

Tea Party nuttery isn’t that funny anymore. The real players are starting to move in and take control. 

For anyone who cares about Social Security and what the current wave of anti-government hysteria may mean for the future of that wildly successful program, here is a segment from last night’s St. Rachel Maddow Show:   

 

Jesus Loves The Children—Except The Sick Ones

Beginning tomorrow, among other things health insurance companies won’t be able to tell the parents of sick children that they can’t get insurance for their ailing kids.

So, naturally, the response of profit-motivated insurance companies is to simply end insurance coverage for all children not covered under their parent’s policies.  Anthem, Aetna, Cigna, Humana, WellPoint, CoventryOne are the first to do so, but surely others will follow.  There apparently isn’t a profit to be made in insuring children without discriminating against the sick ones, and as we all know, profits come before children.

Now, if we are going to have an insurance system that, despite the health care reform law passed by Democrats this year, is still a for-profit system, then I suppose we have to expect profit-hungry companies to put profits ahead of people.  That’s just the way it works.  Someday, that behavior will lead to an elimination of the for-profit system, but as long as Tea Party folks can scare the devil out of politicians, that day is a long way off.

In the mean time, there’s Mike Huckabee.  The former governor of Arkansas, who currently hosts his own show on the Republican “News” Channel, is an ordained Southern Baptist minister.

Get that?  The man is an ordained minister in one of the most conservative Christian church groups in America.  The Southern Baptists.  You know, the ones from the South who split with other Baptists because they thought black folks made good slaves.  You know, the ones who produced Bible verses that proved slavery was okay with God.  You know, the ones who fought civil rights for black folks all the way to the end.  You know, the ones who didn’t beg for forgiveness from those black folks until 1995.

Those guys.  The Southern Baptists.  Huckabee is one of those guys.

Last Friday, at the Values Voters Summit, where Southern Baptist-like people got together and demonstrated the love of Christ for all to see, Huckabee decided to unveil his Christ-like defense of the for-profit insurance industry as it relates to people with pre-existing conditions:

It sounds so good, and it’s such a warm message to say we’re not gonna deny anyone from a pre-existing condition. Look, I think that sounds terrific, but I want to ask you something from a common sense perspective. Suppose we applied that principle [to] our property insurance. And you can call your insurance agent and say, ‘I’d like to buy some insurance for my house.’ He’d say, ‘Tell me about your house.’ ‘Well sir, it burned down yesterday, but I’d like to insure it today.’ And he’ll say ‘I’m sorry, but we can’t insure it after it’s already burned.’ Well, no pre-existing conditions.

I have studied the New Testament pretty thoroughly over the years.  And I can’t seem to recall the verse or verses in which Jesus compared sick children to houses that have burned down or to cars that have been totaled (another Huckabee analogy).   Maybe those verses were next to the ones that condoned slavery and I just missed them.

But with apologists like Huckabee giving them cover, is it any wonder that the insurance industry has little fear of using sick kids as an excuse for not selling insurance policies that cover individual children?

Thanks, Mike.  You are a true Southern Baptist.

“It Is Time To Tax Me More”

An astounding article appeared in the Los Angeles Times yesterday by Garrett Gruener, founder of Ask.com and a chief executive of Nanomix, as well as a director of Alta Partners, a venture capital firm. I saw him on television today.

Mr. Gruener says,

It is time to tax me more.

Making the point that his investment decisions are governed by the “demand for the good and services my investments produce,” Mr. Gruener claims:

For nearly the last decade, I’ve paid income taxes at the lowest rates of my professional career. Before that, I paid at higher rates. And if you want the simple, honest truth, from my perspective as an entrepreneur, the fluctuation didn’t affect what I did with my money. None of my investments has ever been motivated by the rate at which I would have to pay personal income tax.

None of his investments were motivated by his marginal tax rate, he says.  None. Nada.

But, of course, that can’t be true because day and night on radio and television conservatives tell us otherwise.  A return to Clinton-era tax rates for the wealthy will devastate the economy, most of them say. 

But a real entrepreneur, Mr. Gruener, begs to differ:

As history demonstrates, modest changes in the tax rate for wealthy taxpayers don’t make much of a difference if the goal is to build new companies, drive technological development and stimulate new industries. Almost a decade ago, President George W. Bush and his Republican colleagues in Congress pushed through a massive reduction in marginal tax rates, a reduction that benefitted the wealthy far more than other taxpayers.

We were told the cuts would accelerate business growth and create jobs. Instead, we got nearly a decade of anemic job growth, stagnating wages, declining incomes and high inequality.

The supply-side, trickle-down economic policies of the last decade benefitted people like me, but the wealth didn’t trickle down. So while we did quite well, people who live from paycheck to paycheck didn’t.

He later says:

Now that the Bush tax cuts are about to expire, Republicans are again arguing that taxes should remain low for the wealthy. The idea is that this will spur people like me to put more capital to work and start more ventures, which will create new jobs, power the economy and ultimately produce more tax revenues. It’s a beguiling theory, but it’s one that hasn’t worked before and won’t work now.

Mr. Gruener discusses “balance,” a them on this blog lately:

When inequality gets too far out of balance, as it did over the course of the last decade, the wealthy end up saving too much while members of the middle class can’t afford to spend much unless they borrow excessively. Eventually, the economy stalls for lack of demand, and we see the kind of deflationary spiral we find ourselves in now. I believe it is no coincidence that the two highest peaks in American income inequality came in 1929 and 2008, and that the following years were marked by low economic activity and significant unemployment.

He argues that rather than a tax cut for the well-off, invest the $700 billion in extra revenues in “infrastructure and research, which will help provide “a foundation for future growth.”

After all, he says,

…paying slightly more in personal income taxes won’t change my investment choices at all, and I don’t think a higher tax rate will change the investment decisions of most other high earners.

But what does he know? 

“A Mistake Of Historic Proportions”

Juan Don has brought to my attention a post last week by Wallace Turbeville, a former Vice President of Goldman Sachs and now a visiting scholar at the Roosevelt InstituteThis is serious stuff.

I recommend reading the entire piece (which is only Part 1, with more to come), but I will excerpt a few nuggets here:

Unemployment seems strangely intractable in this particular recession, and no one will cut the party in power a break until the economic system’s wounds heal.

Believing this would be a mistake of historic proportions.

Decades of conservative policies, vigorously promoted by conservative Republicans and timidly acquiesced to by progressive…Democrats, have torn a hole at the center of the economy…For decades following the New Deal, prosperity of both the rich and the poor was secured through government policies that broadened participation of the weak and less wealthy in the economy. The Great Depression taught us that balancing the interests of the middle and lower classes against business and the rich is in the long-term interest of both. It is not about class war. It serves the practical long-term interests of everyone.

I have repeatedly argued that those of us on this side of the political debate are trying to save capitalism from the laissez-faire capitalists. The “weak and less wealthy” need to be a part of robust economic growth; they need, as President Obama said today, to have “ladders“—real ones—that allow them to climb into the middle class. As Turbeville suggests, this is a practical argument, not an attempt at class warfare, and folks out there need to know what his happening:

…conservative ideology encourages the wealthy to churn passive investments designed to squeeze out the last drops of value from existing assets through financial “innovations.”

The public needs reminding of the pragmatic connection between progressive principles and a healthy economy, in which businesses are profitable year after year and families have bread on the table. It turns out that the connection is real and has never been more relevant than today.

The former Goldman Sachs executive squarely places the burden of “reminding the public” on progressives themselves, urging them to turn Ronald Reagan’s famous phrase inside out: “Government is not the problem. Government is the only way to fix the problem.”

Here is a summary of the problem, according to Mr. Turbeville:

  • Income disparity has “reached levels that mirror income disparity in 1929” and is “comparable to several Latin American countries.”
  • In contrast to post-WWII recession history, periods of post-recessionary unemployment are increasing with each successive recession since 1990.  “In the 1990/91 recession, the recovery period was 23 months, and in 2001 the period was 38 months. The recovery period for the recent recession is unknown, but prospects are grim.”  Prior to 1990, “employment rates recovered fully within eight months of the trough of each recession.”
  • U. S. consumers are borrowing money and buying foreign goods from many countries who are also supplying the credit to buy those goods. Simultaneously, the export of American goods is far below the imports.
  • Asset price bubbles and bursts appear to be more frequent and extreme.”  This includes the residential and commercial real estate markets, as well as “‘dot-com stocks,’ oil and agricultural products. Deregulation of financial and commodities markets facilitated the bubbles, but an increasing investor preference for short-term financial profits drove them.”
  • The graduation rates of high schools and colleges have “stagnated,” which represents “an historic departure from longstanding American leadership in educating its young people.”  This is part of the unemployment problem referred to by Bill Clinton on Meet The Press on Sunday:

…the biggest problem, is there’s a skills mismatch.  The jobs that are being opened don’t have qualified people applying for them.  We need a system to immediately train them to move into that job…There are five million people who could go to work tomorrow if they were trained to do the jobs that are open, and the unemployment rate in America would immediately drop from 9.6 to about 7 percent or 6.9. 

As Mr. Turbeville suggests, Democrats need to quit playing defense and let the American people know what is going on and make the case that what Republicans are offering this November to solve our problems is what caused the problems we need to solve.

As I said, this is serious stuff. Stay tuned for Part 2.

President Obama Is A Terrible Socialist

Today’s CNBC Town Hall event with President Obama won’t win him any accolades from the right-wing, which was a given going in. 

Even before he came into office, conservatives made Obama an enemy and nothing he could have said or done today could change that fact, short of a New Testament Transfiguration, in which the President became a radiant supply-sider-Jesus in conversation with Adam Smith and Milton Friedman before CNBC’s cameras.

But his appearance will likely not earn him any points with the left-wing of his party, either.  He was given several chances to blast the Wall Street types who complain, ridiculously, that Obama is anti-business.

Rick Santelli, CNBC personality whose 2009 rant is credited with giving the Tea Party movement part of its motivation, asked a question and Obama courteously and characteristically treated him with respect.

Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund manager on Wall Street, was also treated with utmost friendliness. He asked the President, “when are you going to stop wagging at the Wall Street piñata?” Obama replied:

I have been amused over the last couple of years by this sense of me beating up on Wall Street. Most folks on main street feel like they got beat up on. There’s a big chunk of the country that thinks I’ve been too soft on Wall Street.

He’s right about that, of course.  That big chunk includes a lot of folks on the left, who believe Obama hasn’t gone far enough in reigning in the gang of gamblers on Wall Street—”banksters,” as Dylan Ratigan of MSNBC calls them.

But it was his failure to bash Steve Schwarzman, the chairman and cofounder of the Blackstone Group, which bills itself as “one of the world’s leading investment and advisory firms,” that illustrates both the kind of person Obama is and why those of us who support him sometimes get frustrated: as gifted a speaker as he is, Obama’s enemies are able to erroneously define him with impunity.  He almost never returns fire in kind.

Schwarzman famously said this in August, as reported by Newsweek:

Stephen Schwarzman—the leading John McCain supporter in a firm that, in 2008, gave more money to Obama—was addressing board members of a nonprofit organization when he let loose. “It’s a war,” Schwarzman said of the struggle with the administration over increasing taxes on private-equity firms. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”

John Harwood, the host of the town hall event, showed Mr. Obama the Schwarzman quote and asked him for a comment. And rather than attack Schwarzman for his offensive rhetoric and use that as an example of how the unhinged among his enemies have poisoned the well of our politics, Obama calmly and accurately made the point that what had Schwarzman so worked up was, well, here’s how Newsweek reported it a month ago:

Schwarzman’s original beef with Obama grew out of a 2008 campaign promise that “carried interest”—the compensation structure of private-equity-fund managers—would be taxed as ordinary income (35 percent) instead of capital gains (15 percent). Obama and many Democrats have argued that it’s unfair for people like Schwarzman, with a net worth of about $8 billion, to pay taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries and chauffeurs.

Obama essentially repeated that stunningly good argument today, but he could also have attacked Schwarzman for his Hitler comments and been totally justified in doing so.  It’s just not in his DNA, I suppose.  And besides, he takes his job as President of all the people seriously.

As for demonizing business and profit-making, a charge made constantly by Wall Streeters and their CNBC and Fox defenders, Obama had this to say:

In every speech, every interview that I have made, I’ve constantly said what sets America apart, what has made us successful over long term, is we’ve got the most dynamic free-market economy in the world. And that has to be preserved. That has to be preserved. We benefit from entrepreneurs and innovators who are going out there and creating jobs, creating business. Government can’t create the majority of jobs. And, in fact, we want to get out of the way of folks who’ve got a great idea and want to run with it and are going to be putting people to work.

What a socialist.

UPDATED! UPDATED! Christian Values Voters: Obama Hates America

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

     —Sabine Baring-Gould
 
UPDATE 9/20/2010: Rachel Maddow did a segment on the revival of the Culture War, featuring the Christian Right:
 
 
_____________________
This morning I heard on television a couple of talking heads tell us that the Tea Party movement is fueled by fear over the national debt and government spending and their angst had little to do with the social issues that perennially haunt our politics, like abortion rights and homosexual equality.
The consensus was that the teapartiers are so scared for our children’s and grandchildren’s economic future that the old divisive moral issues are just not that important to them.  

Well, I realize that’s a popular notion, and there is certainly some truth to the idea that many people are worried sick over Republican economic chickens roosting in Obama’s nest, but it overlooks one important fact: The so-called social conservatives—the self-described Values Voters—don’t see it that way at all. 

They see a definite link between what they perceive to be the Democrats’ socialistic tinkering with the economy and Democratic support of abortion rights and the “gay agenda” and other ungodly horrors. If you don’t believe me, just listen to Mitt Romney at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit on Friday:  

…what is occurring in America today is different than simply a shift in seats. And it is not merely the result of disappointment or anger, though there may well be reason for both. 

What is being felt in America today is more profound than that, more solemn, more sober. Americans believe that Washington is threatening the very foundations of what has made America, America. Washington is assaulting America’s values. It is endeavoring to change what this nation has been, to change what it is, and to change what it is destined to become.

This room is filled every year by citizens—modern patriots—who are passionate about America’s values. These values include the sanctity of life and the preservation of marriage. But the Obama Administration has taken its assault to even more American values. The American people have finally seen Obama liberalism for what it is; they have seen the counterfeit values that underlie it, and they want none of it! 

Romney wasn’t the only one of the Christian Values Voter Summit speakers who connected the Tea Party movement with the vision of Christian moralists, who want American social values to mirror the values of fundamentalists and evangelicals, derived from Iron Age books and pre-Enlightenment theology.   

It’s just that Romney is supposed to be a serious candidate for the presidency in 2012, unlike the Michele Bachmans and Rick Santorums and Gary Bauers and other assorted guardians of God’s values, who believe they can use the Tea Party movement as a vehicle to achieve a quasi-theocratic state, a quasi-theocratic Christian state. 

That state would be one in which, in the name of “liberty” and in the name of God, women would be forced to bear children against their will—even children conceived through rape;  it would be a state in which, in the name of “freedom” and in complete allegiance to an ancient ignorance, gays and lesbians would be denied equal protection under the law and would be banished from the military, from serving their country, at a great cost to our national security.  

Whether a majority of Tea Party true-believers conceive of their movement this way doesn’t really matter.  Because the Romneys and Gingrichs and Huckabees are unquestionably using the Tea Party movement to further their own parochial political interests and are using it to force the agenda of the religious right down the throats of all Americans. 

And if Democrats and other like-minded folks don’t get to the polls this November, it won’t just be a mid-term shellacking of Democratic candidates we have to worry about.   

Christian Values Voters are marching toward us, dressed in the armor of God.

If you don’t think these people are a little unhinged; if you don’t believe that they hate a fellow Christian, Barack Obama, like the devil himself; if you don’t worry that they may get their righteous hands on the government throttle; I present below a short video clip and the accompanying transcript  featuring a speaker at the Values Voter Summit on Friday. 

Just keep in mind that the people before whom this man was speaking (and laughing) are the same people who invite you to church to worship Jesus and who claim that they represent a Loving Savior:   

We have an administration today—I may get arrows and bullets shot at me or something—but  the thing about that is we have a guy that hates America. I’m just going to say it, okay?  Until we get rid of Barry or Barack—I haven’t seen his little feet on that birth certificate, so I don’t know what he is, right?

Onward, Christian Soldiers! Marching as to war!

[Romney photo:Mark Wilson, Getty Images]

Grandma Margie’s Magic Pie

While doing my morning reading, I confronted once again this sobering and saddening statistic: The top 1 percent of income earners in America collect almost 25% of the total income. 

Think about that for a minute.

If you were at a family reunion picnic with 100 people and Grandma Margie brought out her famously delicious coconut cream pie and said she wanted all in attendance to have a sample, you might think, well, I wish Grandma Margie had baked more pies, but since she didn’t, I suppose it’s fair that all that want a taste get a taste. 

You might think that.

But along comes Uncle Geoff.  When it’s his turn to sample the pie, he piles about a fourth of it on his paper plate and hauls ass to the nearest table to enjoy his feast, and Grandma Margie’s labors.

Now, there are those who will vociferously defend Uncle Geoff’s actions: 

Uncle Geoff deserves more of Grandma Margie’s pie because Uncle Geoff works harder than everyone else. “

Or, “Uncle Geoff deserves more of the pie because he is smarter than everyone else.” 

Or, “Uncle Geoff deserves more because he saw the pie coming before anyone else and he was therefore among the first in line.” 

However, there is another viewpoint represented at the picnic. 

Does Uncle Geoff really work harder than the rest of us here?”

Is Uncle Geoff really that much smarter than everyone else here?

Just because Uncle Geoff lives with Grandma Margie, and knew she was planning to bake the wonderful pie, does he deserve so much more?

Everyday, working stiffs in Southwest Missouri and all across America go to work and work hard to support themselves and their families.  And year after year they find their percentage of the overall share of income is shrinking, not to mention their share of the nation’s wealth. 

And if these working folks would take the time to look up from their toil, they would find that people like Uncle Geoff Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon and an influential whiner about government interference in the economy, made about $5 million in salary and cash bonuses in 2009, along with $11 million in stock.

Seidenberg, by far not the highest paid CEO in America, is lauded for his “rise to the top” story.  He began his pie-eating career as a cable splicer’s assistant. 

Good for him.  We all applaud hard work and the drive to succeed.

But, again, is it right that people like Seidenberg get to take a much bigger hunk of Grandma Margie’s pie than other folks who work just as hard and want to succeed just as much as they?

Yes! you might say.  Hell yes! say the teapartiers. “Seidenberg worked hard, he’s smart, and his company took advantage of the Internet age and he deserves every damn thing he gets.  He deserves that 25% of the pie.”

Okay. But what if Grandma Margie’s pie were not just dessert but the only food available? Would Seidenberg still get to take about one-fourth of it?  And would anyone object?

Well, you might retort, Grandma Margie’s pie may be all there is to eat, but it is a magic pie.  If we all work hard, and we allow people like Ivan Seidenberg to do their thing and get their disproportionate reward, then the pie will increase; the pie will grow and all can get more and more.

That’s the trick, ladies and gents.  The Magic Pie.

You see, there are Ivan Seidenbergs out there who work very hard and are very smart (and often very lucky) and they deserve fair compensation for what they do.  But there are a lot of folks out there who work just as hard, who may not be as intellectually gifted and who may not be all that lucky.

And it’s the magic pie meme that keeps a lot of these folks working harder and harder for less and less, all the while buying into the idea that it’s okay for the Ivan Seidenbergs of the world to gobble up 25% of the pie because if we allow them to do so all of us will benefit: the pie will get bigger and bigger and bigger and everyone will be better off.  Isn’t that just wonderful?

But it’s a myth that the Seidenbergs of the world want to keep alive and well, even though there is little evidence to support it these days.

Between 2002 and 2006, 75% of all economic growth was swallowed up by the wealthiest 1%.  So, even if Grandma Margie’s Magic Pie is getting bigger and bigger, the Ivan Seidenbergs at the picnic are getting nearly all of the increase.  The more Grandma Margie works to make bigger and better pies, the fatter Uncle Geoff gets.

And let’s forget about income and talk about wealth, the ability to save part of your income and amass assets. 

The top 1% own more than half—50%—of all assets in America, and they own a stunning 70% of all financial assets.  That’s the top 1%. That’s Uncle Geoff.

The bottom 50% own a paltry 3.5% of all assets, with the bottom 40% having virtually a zero net worth.

The point of all this is to say that the Magic Pie propaganda financed by moneyed interests is amazingly successful.  With their money and their power and their slick delivery of economic misinformation, these self-interested bullies can shout down those of us who say that the Uncle Geoffs and Ivan Seidenbergs have every right to earn whatever they can in exchange for their labors, but they must be willing to put a little more into the community chest so that others less brilliant or less fortunate—but no less hard working—will enjoy a little more of the bounty of this rich land.

Here is how successful the Magic Pie meme and its associated cultural myths have been:

I know people who receive Social Security or Social Security disability benefits who can’t wait until November to stick it to the liberals who made those things possible.

I know people to whom Medicare is the difference between life and death who can’t wait to hobble to the polls this fall and throw out the party that made Medicare a reality.

I even know people receiving welfare benefits and Medicaid for their children who can’t wait to register their distaste for “big government” when they get the chance in six weeks.

I know people who send their kids to school to eat free or reduced government lunches—a program created by Democrats—who can’t wait to vote for Republicans who want to give the richest Americans a $100,000 tax cut and who also want to cut government spending to the bone.

I know labor union members—who enjoy a middle class living because of the work of old unionists—who are salivating as they think about stepping into a voting booth and casting a vote for candidates who not only hate unions but will work to destroy them.

And I’m afraid I know too many people who would stand at our family reunion picnic and watch Uncle Geoff make happy with one-fourth of Grandma Margie’s coconut cream pie, and even cheer him as he drove away in his Bugatti Veyron, they being fully invested in the false idea, “That could be me someday.”

Glenn Beck: The Fred Phelps Of Politics

I listened to Glenn Beck for two minutes this morning, which was long enough to hear him call Chris Coons a Marxist.

Chris Coons is the Democrat in Delaware running against masturbating-hating Christine O’Donnell for the U.S. Senate. 

While it’s not that unusual for people like Beck and Limbaugh and Hannity, when describing Democrats, to toss around words like Marxist, socialist, or the epithet du jour, anti-colonialist, it does not fail to shock me that such rhetoric is tolerated by Republicans, particularly Republican politicians.

Some people worry about Islamic extremists and complain that moderate Muslims aren’t speaking loudly enough to condemn the excesses of people who claim to believe in Allah and his Quran. But I confess I’m more worried about the lack of “moderate” opposition to the kind of absurd and grotesque and profitable acts, performed all day, every day, by Beck and other conservatives on radio and television.

When Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church family protest at the funerals of dead soldiers, it’s easy for nearly all to see that such behavior is ugly and revolting and deserving of condemnation, if not prohibition.

But all day long and into the night, the Fred Phelps’ of political conservatism, through their outrageous and deceitful rhetoric about President Obama and the Democrats, do the equivalent of what Phelps does.  Instead of “God Hates Fags” placards, their rhetorical equivalent is “God Hates Democrats.”  Instead of signs that say,”The Jews Killed Jesus,” they say, “Liberals Are Killing America.”

Thus, when Glenn Beck labels Chris Coons a Marxist, he is channeling the same spirit that animates Fred Phelps.  But instead of seeing a homosexual or Jewish conspiracy behind every political disagreement, Beck sees a socialist or Marxist one.

And rather than the near-universal condemnation that Fred Phelps receives, Beck and his fellow talkers enjoy considerable financial and cultural rewards, and suffer almost no criticism from the very people who have the power to delegitimize them: Republican politicians, especially Republican political leaders.

There is a stunning silence among the Republican leadership, even as the cacophony crescendos.

And someday, if Republicans successfully ride the wave of hysteria, much of it generated by the relentless dissemination of paranoid fantasies about President Obama, and find themselves in power again, what then?

Do they think that those of us out here who have watched this coup d’état of reason take place, this assault against the dignity of our black president and against the patriotism of those of us who call ourselves Democrats, do they think we will simply slink away into our hovels and let them have their way?

Do they think we won’t invade Congressman Billy Long’s town halls and ask him why he hates our children, after he and his party dismantle the Department of Education? 

Do they think we won’t follow Senator Roy Blunt around with signs that say “Blunt Hates Old People, ” after he and his party privatize Social Security?

Do they think we won’t write crazy editorials accusing President Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck of instituting a Mormon theocracy in America?

Do they think our politicians, then in the minority, won’t do everything they can to stop the onslaught of “deadly” conservative legislation, confronting it at every turn, thwarting conservative efforts to “restore” America all the way back to the dark times of Herbert Hoover?

Do they think we won’t call them fascists and Nazis and Inquisitors and a thousand different names?

But I can hear conservatives saying, why would Democrats want to do that?  Why would we want to see America divided so?  Don’t we love America?

Why wouldn’t we just accept the judgment of the American people and express our disagreements with conservative governance in civilized ways, without the demonization of differences?  Without saying that the other side hates America and without expressing a thunderous hope that they fail in their attempt to make this a better place to live?

That’s a good question.

Young Guns Invite Billy Long To The Fight

Billy Long obviously has a lot of affection for the so-called “Young Guns” of the Republican Party, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Roy Blunt’s former chief deputy), the GOP’s House budget guru Paul Ryan, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Long  recently tweeted about their appearance on Sean Hannity’s show, as the conservative gunslingers were promoting their new book, “Young Guns: The Next Generation of American Leaders.”

Now Long has made some news of his own.

Last night at a sparse gathering of Young Republicans at Missouri State University, Long said this:

Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy have formed what they call the Young Guns and they talked to me about being part of the Young Guns and I’m 55 years old and I’m like if you want to call me young on anything that’d be great.  

Ironically, the Young Guns’ book reportedly is critical of past GOP leadership, which would include our own Roy Blunt, whom Billy Long enthusiastically—and financially—supports.  Here’s a sample from the book via the Washington Post:

“Under Republican leadership in the early 2000′s, spending and government got out of control,” McCarthy writes. “As government grew, there were scandals and political corruption. The focus became getting reelected rather than solving problems and addressing pressing issues.”

The “scandals” and “political corruption” referenced by the Young Guns would, of course, include the Jack Abramoff scandal, with whom Roy Blunt had, shall we say, a “relationship.”  Here is the opening of a 2006 story from USAToday:

Rep. Roy Blunt and the man he wants to succeed as House majority leader, Tom DeLay, shared similar connections to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and to corporate lobbyists.

Blunt, R-Mo., wrote at least three letters helpful to Abramoff clients while collecting money from them. He swapped donations between his and DeLay’s political groups, ultimately enriching the Missouri political campaign of his son Matt.

And Blunt’s wife and another son, Andrew, lobby for many of the same companies that donate to the lawmaker’s political efforts.

Hmmm. Billy Long says on his website, “We can’t expect to change Washington DC unless we are willing to change the type of people that we send to Washington.”

Okay. But in November of last year, Long forked over $1000 to Roy Blunt—before Blunt won his primary race—and Blunt recently said of Long, “He will be a great Congressman.”  At last night’s Young Republican gathering, Long encouraged the youngsters to get involved in the action:

We really, really need to turn out the vote, particularly in my race and Roy Blunt’s race.

I can understand why the potential new Young Gun would want folks to come out and support his chance to share the national stage with hot young stars in the Republican Party, but I’m at a loss to understand why a self-described fed-up citizen-legislator would want folks to come out and support a multi-term, scandal-tainted Congressman who wants to take his tired political act all the way to the U.S. Senate.

Unless the self-described fed-up citizen-legislator is hiding something under his hat.

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Here is a video of last night’s speech in Springfield, which also shows Long refusing to acknowledge a questioner in the audience.  The comment about the Young Guns is at 3:26:

A Question For Billy Long

As you read the following, keep in mind the fact that Billy Long is “fed up” with the way Washington works, and the would-be citizen-legislator is tired of politics as usual.  At the end, an obvious and simple question will present itself:

 

A G.O.P. Leader Tightly Bound to Lobbyists,” is the headline over a weekend article in the New York Times on John Boehner, who waits with smoker’s breath on the outcome of the November elections, which just might make him Speaker of the House.

Here are just a few highlights from the article:

  • In preparation for a floor vote on financial reform legislation last year, Boehner  “summoned more than 100 industry lobbyists and conservative political activists to Capitol Hill for a private strategy session.”  Boehner told the assembled “lobbyists and trade association leaders that by teaming up, they could still perhaps block its final passage or at least water it down.”
  • Boehner “maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R. J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.”
  • Mark Isakowitz, a friend of Boehner’s “whose Republican firm represents more than three dozen financial, telecommunication, energy and consumer products companies” asks, “Does he have a lot of relationships in this city? Yes, absolutely. But I think all the good lawmakers do.”
  • Along with Isakowitz, people with routine access to Boehner’s office and who “write checks to his campaign and socialize with him” are Bruce Gates, a lobbyist for the cigarette maker Altria (sound familiar, Roy Blunt fans?); Nicholas Calio, a lobbyist for Citigroup; Marc Lampkin and Sam Geduldig, financial services lobbyists and former staffers; John Fish, a lobbyist for R. J. Reynolds.
  • People associated with the tobacco industry “have contributed at least $340,000 to Mr Boehner’s political campaigns.”
  • Mr. Boehner won some of his first national headlines in 1996 after he was caught handing out checks from tobacco lobbyists to fellow Republicans on the House floor. Then the fourth-ranking House Republican, he said he had broken no rules and was simply assisting his lobbyist friends, who were contributing to other Republicans’ campaigns.”
  • From 2000 to 2007, Mr. Boehner flew at least 45 times, often with his wife, Debbie, on corporate jets provided by companies including R. J. Reynolds. (As required, Mr. Boehner reimbursed part of the costs.)”
  • In addition, over the last decade he has taken 41 other trips paid for by corporate sponsors or industry groups, often to popular golf spots. That makes him one of the top House beneficiaries of such travel, which has recently been curbed as a result of changes in ethics rules.”
  • Mr. Boehner continues to travel to golf destinations on a corporate-subsidized tab, though now it is paid for through his political action committee, the Freedom Project. In the last 18 months, it has spent at least $67,000 at the Ritz-Carlton Naples in Florida, at least $20,000 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va., and at least $29,000 at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, federal records show, for fund-raising events.”

Whew!  That is an eye-opening exposé of how Washington works, no?

And I can imagine that Billy Long, who, again, is fed up with Washington’s ways, is opposed to all of this nonsense.  Right?

Well, let’s ask him:  Billy, your opponent Scott Eckersley has said if he is elected, he will not vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House.  Will you pledge not to vote for John Boehner, if you and your party win?

Huh, Billy?

 

[photo: PoliticMo]

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UPDATE: Here is a bonus video demonstrating Billy’s campaign strategy, which can be summarized thus: Is it November yet?

Report: Scott Eckersley Is Open To Caucusing With The Tea Party

PoliticMo, a new local political site run by Eli Yokley and Blake James, reported on Sunday some interesting—and for Democrats, distressing—comments made by Scott Eckersley, the Republican candidate running as a Democrat against Billy Long, who is a Republican content with running as a Republican:

Democratic candidate Scott Eckersley says he’s not interested in being a democrat, or a republican, for that matter.

“I’m interested in serving constituents, I’m not interested in serving a party,” Eckersley said. “I’ll vote for a Speaker of House that represents the interests, values, and morals of these 10 counties collectively.”

“That’s what I think a representative of government should be about,” he said.

Okay. So Mr. Eckersley is going to be independent, if and when he gets to Washington.  So, the obvious question is, why did he run as a Democrat?  Why didn’t he run as an independent?  To which the obvious answer is that he used the Democratic Party as a vehicle to overcome the lack of attention he would have suffered had he run as either an independent or as a Republican.

In short, he could make some noise as a Democrat, but since winning the primary the noise he is making sounds like Republican noise, and he has run as fast as he can from anything resembling a Democratic principle.

Not only has Eckersley already pledged not to vote for Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House, he now is flirting with something even worse.  Much worse:

Eckersley, who was really pushed from the republican party following a scandal in Governor Matt Blunt’s administration, is really running as a conservative democrat. Even so, Eckersley said he’d be open to caucusing with the tea-party or the republicans.

“My job is to go up there and represent the interests of these 10 counties, and the interest of whichever party matches those, and that’s who I’ll be caucusing with,” Eckersley said.

There is no way a man with even one Democratic cell in his body could make such a declaration.

And there is no way a voter with an interest in maintaining at least some semblance of local Democratic integrity, could cast his or her vote for a man who has only used the Democratic Party to avoid languishing in obscurity in the Republican primary.

I haven’t heard from one local Democrat why me or anyone else should vote for Scott Eckersley, other than defeating an embarrassing intellectual lightweight like Billy Long.  And I wonder why Democrats should go to the polls this November and use their franchise to support a man who essentially has repudiated most everything the Democratic Party stands for.

And now that Eckersley has suggested that his political principles are so elastic as to embrace the Tea Party, I suspect there may be a lot of local Democrats who wonder the same thing.

[PoliticMo Photo/Blake James]

Conservatives Can Stop Pretending Now

Now that Newt Gingrich has finally let a very disturbing cat out of a very nasty bag of Republican tricks, perhaps conservatives can stop pretending that much of the reactionary angst over Barack Obama is merely concern over his fiscal policies or his fondness for golf.

It very clearly has to do with—let me whisper it: He’s black, and he’s from Kenya, too.

Most of you have heard or seen Newt Gingrich’s comments by now, but just in case you haven’t, here they are:

“What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asks. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”

“This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president,” Gingrich tells us.

“I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating — none of which was true,” Gingrich continues. “In the Alinksy tradition, he was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve . . . He was authentically dishonest.”

The sad thing about Gingrich’s comments—and the ridiculous Dinesh D’Souza article from Forbes magazine that generated them—is that apparently there are no ballasts on the rhetorical balloon the right-wingers and the Republican Party are flying.  Fueled by hot and racially-charged air, this balloon is reaching heights of bigotry unimaginable only a few years ago.

There simply is nothing conservatives can’t and won’t say about the President, about his background, about his character, about his intentions.

Yesterday, Howard Fineman touched upon part of the political reason Republicans talk nasty about Obama:

Let’s not forget that Obama sold himself originally and was embraced originally for his biography…I think the Republicans understand that his biography is the strongest thing about Barack Obama, that it has an “only in America” uplifting quality to it.  They can’t stand the idea that Barack Obama has successfully appropriated an aspect of the American ideal, and they want to deny it to him…

Certainly that’s part of it, part of the political calculation.  This stuff will get much play on right-wing television and radio and beyond and seep into the larger public consciousness.

But there is more to it than that. There is a real feeling among many white Christian Americans that they are losing control of the culture, that foreigners are coming in from all sides, bringing with them strange beliefs and strange customs and strange gods.

And to the extent that one can call Newt Gingrich brilliant, he brilliantly capitalizes on, even stokes, those cultural fears in hopes that those who fear a Kenyan Obama will make Gingrich president one day.

Fortunately, Gingrich’s dream of being President of the United States is as delusional as Dinesh D’Souza’s theory on what animates and motivates Obama: the anticolonial ideology of his father.

Conceding that the “Obama is a socialist” meme doesn’t square with Obama’s policies, D’Souza has invented the idea that Obama is channeling his father’s hatred of the West, his “anticolonial crusade.” Here is what D’Souza said in his horribly written, poorly organized article in Forbes, without one jot or tittle of evidence to support it:

From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction. He came to view America’s military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father’s position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder. Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America’s power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe’s resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.

Get that?  “From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned…”  It turns out that Obama’s parents divorced when he was two years old and he only saw his father once more in 1971—when Obama was only eight. 

But D’Souza has a way around that problem. He simply twists Obama’s words in Dreams From My Father until they are detached from the reality of Obama’s life, but happen to comport nicely with the delusions and fears of the right-wing:

In an eerie conclusion, Obama writes that “I sat at my father’s grave and spoke to him through Africa’s red soil.” In a sense, through the earth itself, he communes with his father and receives his father’s spirit. Obama takes on his father’s struggle, not by recovering his body but by embracing his cause. He decides that where Obama Sr. failed, he will succeed. Obama Sr.’s hatred of the colonial system becomes Obama Jr.’s hatred; his botched attempt to set the world right defines his son’s objective. Through a kind of sacramental rite at the family tomb, the father’s struggle becomes the son’s birthright.

Did you notice the impressive conclusion D’Souza draws from that poignant moment? And did you notice how D’Souza hallucinates a narrative that just happens to jibe with the paranoid narratives spread by unhinged Obama-haters, some of whom have Fox “News” programs or radio talk shows?  Everyday there are hundreds of such paranoid fantasies making their way at light speed through American computers, and none of them are as damnable as the paragraph above, which appeared in a “reputable” conservative magazine.

And if that fictional paragraph doesn’t do the job of multiplying the fear and anxiety, the closing one should:

…our President is trapped in his father’s time machine. Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father’s dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.

So, all of you blowhard conservatives out there who want to insist that the roots of the inelegant and unconscionable and dishonest attacks on President Obama are his deficit spending or his health care reform plan can now save your breath in trying to convince me.

You can stop pretending now.

Carnahan Needs To Reconnect With Democrat-Friendly Voters

Now that speaker-to-be-if-voters-get-amnesia-in-November John Boehner has conceded that he will reluctantly abandon his hopes for continuing the hefty Bush tax cuts for his millionaire-billionaire constituents; and now that Coppertone John has also admitted that only three percent—3%—of small business owners would be affected by allowing those tax cuts to expire;  it would be interesting to know how our Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Robin Carnahan, feels today.

She gave away this issue when she supported extending those same tax cuts, and when you are trying to whip a well-funded, well-connected Republican, you can’t afford to give up the one issue you can use to make voters understand that Roy Blunt’s primary—and primal—loyalties lie not with the Keystone Light-buying, $5 pizza-eatin’ folks, but with the Château Margaux-drinking, Ruth’s Chris-dining, citizenry.

As Bob Herbert wrote in the New York Times recently,

The Democrats are in deep, deep trouble because they have not effectively addressed the overwhelming concern of working men and women: an economy that is too weak to provide the jobs they need to support themselves and their families. And that failure is rooted in the Democrats’ continued fascination with the self-serving conservative belief that the way to help ordinary people is to shower money on the rich and wait for the blessings to trickle down to the great unwashed below.

Carnahan certainly cannot change her mind now and support Obama and most Democrats by asserting that a $700 billion gift to the well-heeled is not a panacea for our persistent economic problems.  And certainly most of us who dread six years of Senator Roy Blunt will, come November, cast our lot with Ms. Carnahan.

But by surrendering ground on the Bush tax cuts, Carnahan hasn’t done much to generate the necessary enthusiasm among Democrats her campaign needs, if she is to defeat Roy Blunt.  In this time of Democratic voter lethargy, she needs to get her core supporters excited about getting out the vote, especially in places like Republican-drunk Southwest Missouri, where the congressional choice this year is between a Know Nothing Republican with an R by his name, and an Almost Know Nothing Republican with a D by his name.

And siding with Republicans and their wealthy friends just doesn’t generate much excitement, unless you are one of those fortunate few who are waiting for $130,000 in tax relief again next year and the year after and who knows how long after that.

Let’s hope that Carnahan can reconnect with her natural allies in such a way as to increase Democrat-friendly voter turnout in November.  Because otherwise our only hope is that those voters’ distaste for a lobbyist-loving legislator from Springfield is enough to get them to the polls.

More Good News From The Tea Party

An AP story today in the Joplin Globe on the various Tea Party gatherings around the country yesterday featured some interesting comments from Mike Pence, the insufferable and demagogic congressman from Indiana, as he spoke at the rather poorly-attended* Washington, D.C.,  event:

“We’ve lost respect in the world. We are going broke. The American dream is dying and our social and cultural fabric is unraveling,” said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who spoke at the Washington rally. “People are scared. If we do not succeed in November, all that once was good and great about this country could someday be gone.”

Let’s take those glittering jewels of optimism one by one:

We’ve lost respect in the world…”  After years of Dick Cheney-neoconservative-dominated foreign policy, I confess he’s right, although President Obama is doing his best to make us respectable again.

We are going broke…”  Need I mention the eight years of Bushonomics?

The American dream is dying…” Need I mention the eight years of Bushonomics?

“…and our social and cultural fabric is unraveling…”  The right-wing has done its best to see to it that the social fabric does unravel, what with their latest demagoguery on the Ground Zero-community center issue and their years of not-always-so-subtle attacks on Obama’s character, his birthplace, and his religion, not to mention their claims that he wants to destroy the country.

People are scared…”  See the following as to why:

If we do not succeed in November, all that once was good and great about this country could someday be gone…”  No wonder people are scared.  I’m scared too.  Because if the only thing that will save us from the prospect of losing “all that once was good and great about this country” is the Tea Party, we’re in deep doo-doo.

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*When the Republican “News” Channel reports the attendance as merely “thousands-strong,” you know there is some disappointment present.

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