Remarks And Asides

Still good news for President Obama in the latest of four CBS News/New York Times polls done since April of 2009 on the question of:

Most to Blame for the Condition of the Economy  

                    Now         3/2010                7/2009       4/2009

Bush                26%           28                             30             33

Wall Street     25               22                             29             21

Congress        11                10                             12             11

Obama              8                 7                                4               2

All                     7                 7                                6               7

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In Minnesota, the Democratic Governor, Mark Dayton, and GOP legislators are locked in a battle over how to close the state’s $5 billion budget deficit—with progressive tax hikes or with even more big budget cuts—eerily calling to mind our larger national issue.

And as the case with our national deficit, much of it is due to a former Republican executive, in this case Tim Pawlenty.  Rather than seek another term as the state’s governor and help fix the problems he left, Pawlenty, no doubt in a spasm of selfless patriotism, is seeking to bring his governing wisdom and fiscal responsibility to Washington, where, God knows, we don’t have enough Republican experts on how to ruin the economy and undermine government.

The deadline to avoid a government shutdown in Minnesota is midnight.  Tick, tock.

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President Obama continues to suffer indignity after indignity at the hands of either right-wingers—Glenn Beck  calling him a racist who hates white folks and Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” at him during an address to Congress—or comedians—Jon Stewart addressing him as “dude” on The Daily Show—or journalists, like this morning when a big-time editor of Time magazine, Mark Halperin, called Obama a, uh, “dick” on Morning Joe.

MSNBC suspended Halperin, who is a regular on Joe Scarborough’s program and an analyst for the network.  And Halperin  apologized.

I was watching the event and I must say that I was personally offended by the fact that it was part of his wrongheaded “analysis” of yesterday’s press conference.  Halperin, who is paid handsomely to offer insightful critiques of such things, was dead wrong about Obama’s performance. 

The Time editor thought the President should not have been so rough on those mistreated Republicans and should have tried to understand John Boehner’s inability to get the votes to pass a budget deal that included tax increases and not have acted so, well, so dick-like by insisting that at least some (but not nearly enough) reality be part of the debate.

Halperin’s stunningly bad analysis was at least as offensive as the D word. 

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And speaking of dicks and MSNBC, what’s up with former MSNBC star Keith Olbermann?  First he leaves MSNBC and begins another version of “Countdown” on Al Gore’s Current TV network, competing with Lawrence O’Donnell, who occupies Olbermann’s old spot on MSNBC with a show called The Last Word.

By the way, O’Donnell’s program is in many ways better than Olbermann’s original show.  O’Donnell is able to get opposition political guests on, which makes for entertaining television, and his “Rewrite” segment is often the best single segment on any cable news show.  And O’Donnell has worked in Congress, six years as an aid and senior advisor to Daniel Patrick Moynihan and a couple of years as the staff director of the Senate Finance Committee, maybe the most powerful committee in Congress.

In any case, Olbermann first tried to run his new show a little past the hour so as to cut into his former colleague Rachel Maddow’s show, but was duly criticized by his “fans,” and then apologized and pulled back to ending on the hour.  Then on Tuesday Olbermann tweeted (God, I hate that word and that method of communication) the latest ratings for O’Donnell, which dropped 12% in correlation with the debut of Olbermann’s new show (whose viewership is less than half of O’Donnell’s).

Jeeze, I used to like Olbermann, but this kind of behavior is so petty and so unnecessary.  With all the right-wing nuttery out there, one would think Olbermann would spend every single minute of his time taking care of that business rather than trying to embarrass fellow liberals.

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Finally, Glenn Beck’s last show is tonight, in case you want to find out how the world ends.  After many episodes of leading us to believe that our demise is near, surely tonight we will have the demented denouement.

Prediction: There will be plenty of references to his “new” gig away from Fox, just in case Obama doesn’t destroy the country anytime soon.

A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away, Radicals Didn’t Control The GOP

Once upon a time, even Republicans thought it was “nutty to fool around with the Social Security system.” 

Those words were uttered in 1988 by George H.W. Bush during the Republican presidential primary, in which Republican candidate Pierre Samuel du Pont IV proposed partially privatizing Social Security, an idea that fell flat even with the GOP electorate.

But Bush II campaigned in 2000 on the issue of personal Social Security accounts and by the time he was reelected in 2004, he thought it was time to advance the idea beyond campaign rhetoric.  In his 2005 State of the Union address he said:

As we fix Social Security, we also have the responsibility to make the system a better deal for younger workers. And the best way to reach that goal is through voluntary personal retirement accounts.

Thankfully, given what happened in 2008, we didn’t “fix” Social Security in the way that Bush II and other conservative Republicans wanted to.  Bush’s first major failure—in 2010 the former President said it was his greatest failure—of his second term was handed to him not just by Democrats and the public, who wisely didn’t warm up to the idea, but also by legislators in his own party, legislators who controlled both houses of Congress at the time.

Well, the failures in the past haven’t deterred today’s radical Republicans from attempting to enact their privatization scheme.  Paul Ryan’s original budget proposal, the so-called “Roadmap for the Future,” essentially reiterated Bush II’s 2005 idea. 

And less than two weeks ago, with not nearly enough media attention, House Republicans introduced more privatize-Social Security legislation, this version with an immediate partial opt-out of Social Security and an eventual full opt-out of the system.

The bill, H.R. 2109, was introduced by the head of the House Republican campaign committee, Pete Sessions (TX).  Get that? The head of the House Republican campaign committee introduced a bill that would effectively kill Social Security.  How bold is that?

All of this demonstrates what Luke Fuszard at Business Insider (“How Republicans Win, Even When They Lose”) describes as the GOP’s, “remarkable capability for patience in advancing its agenda.” Extremists in the party have done this by continually offering radical ideas and hoping each time that those ideas will get more mainstream support, thus moving the debate in their direction.

It’s all really beautiful, in a macabre sort of way.

Fuszard uses as his prime example of this phenomenon the once-kooky Republican ideas on tax policy and the federal budget, ideas we know today as supply-side economics.  Again, once upon a time, both parties, Republicans and Democrats, agreed that tax rates and tax revenues ought to be such that the federal government could pay its bills.

How novel a notion.

But with the rise of Ronald Reagan and the Laffers, what were once fringe ideas became mainstream ideas.  Fuszard summarizes them:

Drawing on Austrian thinking, supply-side economists advocated large reductions in marginal income and capital gains tax rates. The resulting federal deficits would be temporary, they argued, as lowering tax rates would raise the needed revenue by causing faster economic growth.

He notes that with the Reagan victory,

Liberated conservatives decoupled tax rates from balanced budgets and no longer had to insist on fiscal responsibility. The theory was political genius that was easily sold to the American public – all the growth with none of the sacrifice. Republicans were transformed from a balanced-budget party to a tax-cutting party. In 1981, Reagan slashed the marginal rates for the top tax bracket from 70% to 50%. Later he further reduced the rate to 28%.

The rest, as they say, is budget history.  We are still living with the results of this fiscal foolishness, and Republicans, including current Republican presidential candidates, are still selling it as mainstream economic thinking.

Fuszard uses Tim Pawlenty’s “Better Deal” economic plan as an example:

According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, half of Pawlenty’s $7.6 trillion in tax cuts over the next ten years would accrue to people who earn $500,000 per year or more.

There’s nothing new, unfortunately, about Republicans proposing more tax cuts for rich folks or, God help us, proposing to privatize Social Security and Medicare.

What’s new is that they can be so bold as to broadcast their intentions to the public, seemingly without much hesitation or fear.

That’s how successful their long-term strategy has been.

“The Original Welfare State” Versus America

About three years ago I was in Boston and I chatted with a couple of German salesmen who were staying at our hotel.  They were in the city on behalf of a German manufacturer of lab equipment, and they had an appointment at Harvard.

I was interested in their standard of living and the effects of reunification and they explained to be the differences between the former West German states and those in the East, and how those in the East were not as “productive” as elsewhere and it would take much time to integrate them into their way of life.

I thought about those two gentlemen yesterday, when on The Dylan Ratigan Show I saw some amazing graphics that compared the relative economies and economic policies of Germany and the United States.  It turns out that David Leonhardt, economics columnist for The New York Times, had previously covered this ground.  He pointed out that both liberals and conservatives have used Germany as an example to support a) stimulus and b) austerity as a way out of our economic mess.  But, he said:

the full story is more interesting than any caricature. In the last decade, Germany has succeeded in some important ways that the United States has not. The lessons aren’t simply liberal or conservative. They are both…

The brief story is that, despite its reputation for austerity, Germany has been far more willing than the United States to use the power of government to help its economy. Yet it has also been more ruthless about cutting wasteful parts of government.

The German economy has outperformed ours since the middle of the last decade, Leonhardt says, and in the process, “most Germans have fared much better than most Americans, because the bounty of their growth has not been concentrated among a small slice of the affluent.” Here are a couple of the charts used on The Dylan Ratigan Show:

And here’s the unemployment rate comparison:

Leonhardt noted that the Germans have made cuts to unemployment benefits and have reduced early-retirement incentives, as well as attempted to “move the long-term unemployed into the labor force.” These are the things that you hear conservatives in the media talk about, as they argue for drastic budget cuts here at home. But the truth is that in terms of safety-net benefits here in the United States, the German system is still relatively generous.

The real point, and the real difference between the United States and Germany, though, is this:

But the German story is not merely about making government more efficient. It’s also about understanding the unique role that government must play in a market economy.

That role starts with serious regulation. American regulators stood idle as the housing bubble inflated. German banks often required a down payment of 40 percent.

Unlike what happened here, German laws and regulators have also prevented the decimation of their labor unions. The clout of German unions, at individual companies and in the political system, is one reason the middle class there has fared decently in recent decades. In fact, middle-class pay has risen at roughly the same rate as top incomes.

Labor unions.  Dirty words here in the United States, thanks to Republican meme-making and legislation, but not in Germany. From Wikipedia:

German industrial relations are characterized by a high degree of employee participation up to co-determination in companies’ boards (“Aufsichtsrat”), where trade unionists and works councils elected by employees have full voting rights. Local trade union representatives are democratically elected by union members and formally largely autonomous. Central boards of directors (“Vorstand”) are elected by delegates.

Trade unions in Germany define themselves as being more than a “collective bargaining machine,” but as important political player for social, economical and also environmental subjects, especially also for labor market policy and professional education.

Hmm.

And we’ve all witnessed the war on collective bargaining waged by Republican governors and legislators here in the U.S., but in Germany most workers are covered by a collective bargaining agreement:

The relative friendliness of the German government to labor unions and collective bargaining is perhaps the best reason to explain the following eye-popping income-disparity graphic from Ratigan’s show:

That graphic is difficult to fathom, and should be even more difficult to accept. The top 1% of wage earners here in America are cleaning up, while in Germany, the wealthy, while still doing well, are earning income at the same rate as 40 years ago.  Stunning.

Finally, Leonhardt says, there is the issue of taxes:

Germany does not have a smaller budget deficit because it spends less. Germany, you’ll recall, is the original welfare state. It has a smaller deficit because it is more willing to match the benefits it wants with the needed taxes. The current deficit-reduction plan includes about 60 percent spending cuts and 40 percent tax increases…

Here’s the chart: 

As Leonhardt says, no one is advocating “that the United States should want to become Germany.”  We are richer and still attract immigrants by, unfortunately, the truckload. But in our weakened condition we should be willing to deal with our weaknesses.  But we are not, at least in terms of the political parties cooperating with one another to address them.

Leonhardt:

Some Democrats say Social Security and Medicare must remain unchanged. Most Republicans refuse to consider returning tax rates even to their 1990s levels. Republican leaders also want to make deep cuts in the sort of antipoverty programs that have helped Germany withstand the recession even in the absence of big new stimulus legislation.

I resist the implicit “both sides are equally too blame” in that statement.  I don’t know many Democrats, if any, who say “Social Security and Medicare must remain unchanged.”  But there is a point to be made that Democrats must be willing to explain how those programs can be adjusted to keep them solvent in the future.

In the mean time, Republicans continue to insist that our problems should be solved on the backs of the poor, the disabled, and the soon-to-be elderly, as well as on the backs of our education-challenged children.  And they insist on these things while advocating even more tax relief for the wealthy.

Why, just the other day, one of their most viable, “adult” presidential candidates, Tim Pawlenty, came out with a budget proposal that would lower tax rates for both the wealthy and corporations to cartoonish levels.

And it would be as funny as a cartoon, if our economic troubles were merely part of a Looney Tunes script. But they are not, and the Germans seem to understand that.

My Country, America and/or Israel, ‘Tis of Thee

If you have a stubborn doubt that God is a Republican, I suggest you go to C-SPAN and watch any part of the recently completed Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference and Strategy Briefing, an event inspired not only by GOP Jesus, but by the disgraced and disgraceful Ralph Reed.*

Naturally, the conference featured the usual demonization of Barack Obama; I mean, what is a gathering of pious American Christians without a wholesale bearing of false witness against our Christian President?  I particularly enjoyed the moment when Tim Pawlenty was recalling how unfaithful Mr. Obama has been and some God-fearing member of the audience shouted, “He lied!

Praise God!

In any case, the event started innocently enough:

Lord, we thank you for this land. We thank you for a nation that was founded for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith.

That utterly dishonest prayer was uttered by a Georgia pastor, Benny Tate, who also opened a legislative day in the House of Representatives in 2009 with this heavenly gem:

We acknowledge freedom is not free and the trees of every generation are watered with the blood of its sons and daughters.

Praise God for our sons and daughters and the blood-nourished trees!

In all seriousness, though, one of the most troubling themes of the FFC conference was expressed best by Richard Land, who heads a public policy agency for the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention and who was appointed to his current federal government post by George W. Bush. 

Mr. Land clearly laid out what many people outside the evangelical community fail to understand about evangelicals: They have a dual national allegiance, to both America and Israel, and it’s not always clear which allegiance comes first.

If you want to understand the evangelical mind, and if you want to understand just how dangerous the thinking is that motivates these Christian folks, and if you want to understand how perilous is the mixture of fundamentalist faith and politics, I urge you to read the following lengthy quote from Richard Land’s appearance at the Faith and Freedom conference this past weekend:

God prophesied that he would bring his chosen people, the Jews, back into the land, and we have seen in many of our lifetimes the fulfillment of that prophecy, as they have come back into the land and they have succeeded against fearsome odds…

My mother, who taught me to love Jesus and who taught me to love God’s Word—I remember my mother saying to me, “Richard, God blesses those who bless the Jews; God curses those who curse the Jews.”  And she said, “Remember last week we were watching that special on television and the airplane was flying across Germany in June of 1945 and all you saw were bombed-out buildings and flattened cities?  That’s what happens when you curse the Jews.”

If we want God to bless America, then we have to bless the Jews. God gave that land to his chosen people forever.  That issue is settled by God Almighty.

Now, I support Israel because Israel is more like America than any other country because we’re founded on the same basis: The Word of God.  But I also believe that we must bless America because I’m an American and I love America and I want God to bless America and God blesses us when we obey him and he doesn’t bless us when we disobey him.  And he has made it very clear that Israel has an ally far more powerful than the United States of America. It’s called the Lion of Judah [Jesus, in the Christian tradition].

Now, we can say many things about President Obama, but one thing we can’t say about him is that he’s stupid.  He’s a bright man—he’s a foolish man, but a very bright man.  He knows what he’s doing and he knows what he says…the worst president of the United States Israel has ever had is Barack Obama [thunderous applause].

There is no question that he is pro-Palestinian and his policies are pro-Palestinian.  Well, I have a word of encouragement for our friends in Israel, who must be feeling a little abandoned and a little abused and a little used right now: My dear friends, help is on the way! [Applause.]

With absolute confidence I can tell you that social conservatives in this country are with one voice saying, “Israel today, Israel tomorrow, and Israel forever!  We are with you because God is with you and we understand that we are going to defend your right to live in the land that God gave to you and to your children.  Rest assured, help is on the way!  You are not alone!”

Evangelical voters, particularly in the primary process, are the backbone of the Republican Party. Without evangelical support, Republicans couldn’t win many elections.  So it is important to understand that dynamic, as scary as it is.

And we must understand, too, that evangelicals have a hard time differentiating between loyalty to America and loyalty to Israel, as well as differentiating between truth and falsehood regarding Obama’s position on Israel, a position that is almost identical to George W. Bush’s.

If you are tempted to think that such nonsense like the nonsense Richard Land spouted is confined only to crazy evangelical Christian pastors or their followers, or to silly politicians like Michele Bachmann (who during the weekend conference said Obama’s speech on Israel was a “shocking display of betraying our greatest friend and ally“), read the following, spoken by Republican presidential candidate and Catholic-turned-evangelical Tim Pawlenty—who gets credit for being an “adult” candidate—at the Faith and Freedom conference:

We need to be a nation that turns toward God, not away from God…We need a President of the United States who stands shoulder to shoulder with our great friend Israel and make sure there is no daylight between the United States and Israel [standing ovation].

No daylight, Mr. Pawlenty? 

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* Reed was involved in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.  He took millions of “In God We Trust” bucks from Abramoff and proceeded to use his influence among Christian voters in Alabama to stop Indian casinos and state lotteries that were competitors of Abramoff’s clients.  Praise God!

None Dare Call It Radical

lt is clear that the Ryan budget plan has now become a litmus test for conservatives. 

When I heard Newt Gingrich criticize the plan on Meet the Press on Sunday, I assumed he would get some flak from conservatives, but I didn’t think conservatives would attack him so vehemently, so mercilessly.  It just shows how much Republicans have invested in their Murder Medicare scheme, and how they can’t afford to tolerate criticism of it from anyone on their side.

Gingrich said about the Ryan-Republican plan:

I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.

Charles Krauthammer, who less than a month ago wrote that Gingrich was a “smart guy…a Vesuvius of ideas,” pronounced dead Gingrich’s presidential aspirations by calling his views  “contradictory and incoherent.”  Joe Scarborough this morning echoed that sentiment, accusing Newt of not being a real conservative.  Other prominent conservatives have said much the same.

As for the architect of the plot to kill Medicare, the Associated Press reported:

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said Monday that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich does not fully understand a GOP proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher system, dismissing criticism from the former House speaker that the plan would be a radical change.

The “smart guy,” the “Vesuvius of ideas,” just doesn’t understand the plan.  He doesn’t get it.  If only he could see that the plan, in Ryan’s words, “is one of the most gradual things one could do.”  As if the slow death of Medicare is somehow less offensive than a speedier one.

But the truth is that Gingrich does understand the plan. He correctly labeled it as “right-wing social engineering” because that is exactly what it is, although one could say “re-engineering.” In fact, Gingrich said—confirming Krauthammer’s “contradictory and incoherent” comment—that he would have voted for the plan because it represented “the first step.”

That first step, of course, is destroying Medicare as we know it.

What conservatives and Republicans are afraid of, obviously, is that Democrats will use Gingrich’s language against every single Republican running next year, not just those House Republicans who voted for it.  (Senate Republicans haven’t yet been forced to vote on the plan, although Sen. Harry Reid keeps promising he will force them to do so.)

As it stands, not one single serious Republican presidential candidate or potential candidate has actually endorsed the plan, although Mitch Daniels labeled itserious,”  and Tim Pawlenty said Ryan offered “real leadership,” and Mitt Romney said Ryan is “setting the right tone.”

Despite the fact that the national candidates are reluctant to actually go with Paul Ryan and his fellow Republicans as they slip into Medicare’s bedroom and murder it in its sleep, they appear to be willing to wait in the getaway car outside, as the culprits do the dirty work.

And that’s the purpose of the conservative litmus test. If one goes to jail for this crime, all go.  At the very least, GOP candidates will not be allowed to openly criticize the budget plan.  If they do, they will receive the Gingrich treatment, essentially a pair of cement loafers and a trip to the North Arabian Sea to visit Osama bin Laden.

Thus, Democrats need to expose not only the actual killers, but the accomplices, those Republicans who remain silent as the murderous plot unfolds.

Killing Social Security and Medicare, One Speech At A Time

I watched Glenn Beck’s speech at CPAC this past weekend.  I am the first to admit that he is quite good at what he does. The man has talent.  Forever forecasting inevitable tribulation, he is like a gifted evangelist who writes books and sermonizes, warning us of the doom to come.  And like most gifted evangelists, he profits from his prophesying, making God-like money as he points the way through the apocalypse.

His latest speech—a continuation of a theme he has been hawking for a while now—contained his diagnosis of our sickly condition:  “progressivism is the disease in America.”

He preached:

Progressivism is the cancer in America and it is eating our Constitution. And it was designed to eat the Constitution. To progress past the Constitution.

Comparing progressives to Communists, he explained there is a small difference between the two: Communists of old desired revolution; progressives, being more patient, were and continue to be willing to wait for things to evolve.  But the goals are the same: trash the Constitution and turn America into a “big government,” “socialist utopia.”

Okay.  So far, there’s nothing unusual about that pew-stirring rhetoric, sold to acne-tortured, college-age Republicans at CPAC and the more mature, meat-loving mobs that buy Beck’s books and watch his hysterical television show.

But I have begun to notice something happening on the right.  The straw poll at CPAC went this year to Ron Paul, not exactly a friend to some of Beck’s crazy ideas, but certainly a supporter of the anti-government philosophy that serves as a foundation for conservative thought.  Paul, to orgasmic applause, said:

Government is the enemy of liberty!

The fire was barely out at the IRS building in Texas—where Joseph Stack took seriously words like Paul uttered—and speakers at CPAC were using words like “enemy” to describe the government and violent metaphors to describe what Americans should do about its growth. 

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is moving to the right at brakeless Toyota speed, said Americans should “take a 9 iron and smash the windows out of big government in this country!

Of course, such talk is hyperbole.  I get that.  But what is happening among a growing group on the right is that people are starting to take seriously the idea of dismantling big government programs like Social Security and Medicare. 

Beck said:

It is big government – it’s a socialist utopia. And we need to address it as if it is a cancer. It must be cut out of the system because they cannot co-exist. And you don’t cure cancer by – well, I’m just going to give you a little bit of cancer. You must eradicate it. It cannot co-exist. And we need big thinkers, and brave people with spines who can make the case – that can actually say to Americans: look it’s going to be hard – it’s going to be hard but it’s going to be okay. We’re going to make it.

Now, what could he be talking about?  The subsidy for public television? The Department of Commerce?  No. Big government, especially since most conservatives exclude the Defense Department from budget cuts, has to mean Social Security and Medicare.

He continues:

We believe in the right of the individual. We believe in the right, you can speak out, you can disagree with me, you can make your own path. But I’m not going to pay for your mistakes, and I don’t expect you to pay for my mistakes. We’re all going to make them, but we all have the right to move down that road. What we don’t have a right to is: health care, housing, or handouts. We don’t have those rights.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, another CPAC speaker and trusted ally of Glenn Beck, has advocated “weaning” as a means of reducing the size of government.  A few weeks ago in St. Louis she said:

We’re $14 trillion in debt, but that doesn’t include the unfunded massive liabilities. That’s $107 trillion, and that’s for Social Security and Medicare and all the rest. You add up all those unfunded net liabilities, and all the traps that could go wrong we’re on the hook for, and what it means is what we have to do is a reorganization of all of that, Social Security and all… So, what you have to do, is keep faith with the people that are already in the system, that don’t have any other options, we have to keep faith with them. But basically what we have to do is wean everybody else off. And wean everybody off because we have to take those unfunded net liabilities off our bank sheet, we can’t do it. So we just have to be straight with people.

So, she is saying do away with Social Security and Medicare, after those in the present system are finished.  At least she is being more honest than usual.  And such honesty is being forced upon Republicans, as they are no longer getting away with screaming for deficit reduction and tax cuts without specifying spending reductions.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s budget guru in the House, has offered a privatization plan for Social Security and Medicare and has at least nine co-sponsors.

One of those co-sponsors, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, appeared on Chris Matthews recently:

 

It appears that Republicans are becoming so emboldened by the Tea Party movement that some of them are now willing to talk openly about ripping out or seriously reducing the effectiveness of the social safety net that serves so many Americans. 

And if Democrats let them get away with it, then one day Republicans will have their way.

Newt Gingrich, Ever The Optimist

The Republican Party is now at a point of no return.

Either it accepts what the tea-party conservatives did to Dede Scozzafava in upstate New York and thus become the National Conservative Party, or it, through its “leadership,” condemns those Republicans, like Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty and Fred Thompson, who openly and defiantly campaigned against the GOP candidate, and ultimately forced her to quit.

However, it sure doesn’t look like the party is poised to even put up a fight against the tawdry teapartiers, who demand absolute fealty to their particularly doctrinaire version of conservatism.  Such fealty does not allow for even the slightest deviation from the “principles” of the extremists, let alone the relatively wide divergence represented by Ms. Scozzafava.

Here is what the New York Times reported today regarding the Republican moderate’s departure from the NY 23 race:

The Republican National Committee, which had strongly backed Ms. Scozzafava’s candidacy, issued a statement applauding her decision and announcing it was now supporting Mr. Hoffman.

“Effective immediately, the R.N.C. will endorse and support the Conservative candidate in the race, Doug Hoffman,” the party’s national chairman, Michael Steele, said. “Doug’s campaign will receive the financial backing of the R.N.C. and get-out-the-vote efforts to defeat Bill Owens on Tuesday.”

So, it doesn’t appear Michael Steele has any fight in him to maintain some semblance of control over the party he ostensibly heads, and it is quite likely the newly emboldened conservative revolutionaries will run with their success to other parts of the country, demanding obeisance to their philosophy, and commanding Republican attention by their strident, town-hall trained voices.

Oddly, the good news in all of this was expressed by Newt Gingrich, who had supported Scozzafava:

“This makes life more complicated from the standpoint of this: If we get into a cycle where every time one side loses, they run a third-party candidate, we’ll make Pelosi speaker for life and guarantee Obama’s re-election,” said Mr. Gingrich, who had endorsed Ms. Scozzafava.

“I felt very deeply that when you have all 11 county chairman voting for someone, that it wasn’t appropriate for me to come in and render my judgment,” he said. “I think we are going to get into a very difficult environment around the country if suddenly conservative leaders decide they are going to anoint people without regard to local primaries and local choices.”

Gingrich always has a way of finding the silver lining in any ominous dark cloud, doesn’t he?

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