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?

Jon Stewart Dissects Fox

In case you haven’t seen it yet, Jon Stewart has brilliantly and hilariously demonstrated the phenomenon I alluded to in Sowell Sedition regarding how right-wingers make wild charges, report the charges as genuine news, then use that “news” to demolish President Obama:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Pakistani Paranoia

Thursday on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, Pervez Hoodbhoy, a prominent Pakistani professor in Islamabad, said a couple of things that Americans should pay attention to, particularly those whose foreign policy philosophy amounts to, “We are Americans, and nothing else matters.”

Travelling with Secretary of State Clinton in Pakistan, Ms. Mitchell was questioning the professor about Clinton’s three-day “charm offensive,” the purpose of which is to improve relations between the U.S. and Pakistan, and to gain some degree of trust among the Pakistani people.  Professor Hoodbhoy, who has previously written, “Pakistan is probably the most anti-American country in the world,” replied to Mitchell’s question:

The purpose of the charm offensive is to reduce the level of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, which is at a very high level.  And one sees all kinds of conspiracy theories.  In fact even the suicide bombings that are carried on—people say, “Ah, it’s really the Americans who are trying to destabilize Pakistan,” and so forth.

On the one hand, it is somewhat comforting to know that the Beck-Hannity-Limbaugh phenomenon isn’t just a distinctly American affliction, and that paranoid conspiracists are not limited to jobs as Fox “News” commentators or bombastic blowhards on American radio. 

On the other hand, it is rather dispiriting that a country—so vital to our success in rooting out and destroying al Qaeda—largely doesn’t trust American intentions.  We must ask ourselves, just what kind of opinion do average Pakistanis hold of Americans, if they can entertain the notion that we are behind the suicide bombings in Pakistan?

Professor Hoodbhoy laments the state of his society:

What we see today in Pakistan is paranoia, and I think that we’ve got to the point where it’s become ridiculous where all of our ills are being blamed on America.

I’m sure the professor would find little solace in the fact that here in America, the right-wing is blaming all of our ills on Barack Hussein Obama, and is steadfastly resisting our president’s efforts to improve our country’s image around the world.

Blunt Weighs In On Tardy Vaccine

In a story about the “regional and national political debate” related to the slow dispersal of the H1N1 flu vaccine, the St. Louis Beacon reveals more hypocrisy from our own Roy Blunt:

 “The onerous regulatory and legal environment in the United States has placed America’s most vulnerable in danger,” Blunt said. “The federal government has clearly failed to meet a basic responsibility to move quickly to ensure the availability of H1N1 vaccines.”

“Congress needs to be asking serious questions about why the vaccine isn’t yet widely available, even though we’ve known for six months that we needed to be fully prepared,” Blunt said.

The state Democratic Party swiftly shot back by noting that Blunt voted in June against a federal spending bill that included close to $8 billion to address the H1N1 vaccine issue. Blunt said at the time — and again this week through a spokesman — that his “no” vote was over other items in the bill.

When your response to any of our nation’s problems is always “no,” followed by a lecture on the virtues of deregulation, then it’s clear you haven’t learned anything from the past year. 

And it’s a bitch that those “no” votes sometimes come back to negate your criticism of people who are trying to solve a thorny problem, particularly one that involves producing and distributing a vaccine in a relatively short period of time. 

Come to think of it, the swine flu threat is one of the only problems not passed down from the previous administration.

Wait.  Where was Dick Cheney when this swine flu thing started?

While Republicans Ruled Missouri

Republicans have ruled Missouri’s legislature for years now, and Republican Matt Blunt was governor from 2005 through 2008.  Given Republican dominance in the state, The Erstwhile Conservative thought it worthwhile to look at a few “fast facts,” provided by the Missouri Budget Project.  Most of the data are prior to the economic collapse last fall.  And remember, I report, you decide (however, the emphasis provided is mine):

  • Between 2007 and 2008, 761,000 Missourians were living in poverty – an increase of 15 percent and 102,000 people over 2006.
  • In 2007/2008 the Median Income in Missouri was $46,906, $6,424 less than it was in 2001 when adjusted for inflation. This was the third largest decline in the nation in median income.
  • 1,071,194 Missourians (372,365 Families) received Food Stamps in June of 2009, an increase of 257 percent since 2000 when 417,000 Missourians (178,465 Families) received Food Stamps.
  • In 2007/2008, at least 734,000 Missourians, one in every eight people, were uninsured.
  • The cost of insurance premiums in Missouri is growing 4.4 times faster than wages.

Hmmmmm.  Since Governor Nixon has been forced to make substantial spending cuts, because of a drop in state revenue, we should look at just where Missouri—largely because of Republican dominance—ranks nationally in per capita revenue and taxes:

State Taxes

  • Missouri ranked 47th lowest in the nation for per capita (per person) state taxes collected at $2,475 in 2006. The National Average was $3,245 per capita.
  • In 2007, Missouri ranked 27th lowest for individual income tax at $822 per capita compared to the national average of $1,003 per capita.
  • In 2007, Missouri ranked 46th lowest for corporate income tax at $66 per capita compared to the national average of $201 per capita.
  • In 2007, Missouri ranked 40th lowest for general revenue sales tax at $557 per capita compared to the national average of $891. 

Notice the ranking for corporate income tax.  Missouri’s rate is a meager 33% that of the national average ($66 to $201). So, if the Republican philosophy of lowering corporate taxes to attract business to the state were valid, we would have businesses and industries occupying every vacant lot in the state.  So, why isn’t that working? 

Hmmmmm. Let us look at the level of investment Missouri makes in education: 

State Spending on Services in 2006

  • Missouri ranked 37th lowest in the nation on per capita state and local investment in Elementary & Secondary Education.
  • Missouri ranked 45th lowest in the nation on per capita state and local investments in Higher Education.

As I say,  I report, you decide.

Sowell Sedition

Thomas Sowell, a national columnist whose corrosive columns are regular features in the Joplin Globe, presented evidence in his column today that his bona fides as a prominent thinker on the right have all but disintegrated.  He is now nothing more than a pseudo-intellectual apologist for the Fox “News” Channel.

The column, titled “Obama is tearing down America,” was a collection of half-truths, quarter-truths, and falsehoods, disguised as a defense of “American values.”

Just one example of the utter dishonesty of this rhetorical assassination of President Obama’s character:

Did you imagine that anyone would even be talking about having a panel of so-called “experts” deciding who could and could not get lifesaving medical treatments?

To present such a question as though it is in any way connected with reality is an example of the truth-defying tactics widely employed by people on the right wing who are out to destroy the presidency of Barack Obama, if not Obama himself.  

It was conservative extremists (that term is fast becoming a redundancy) who did all the talking about “death panels,” in an attempt to scare senior citizens away from supporting health care reform legislation.  And to start such talk and then later use it as the basis for asking, “Does any of this sound like America,” is not just a slippery, sophistical trick, but a shameless appeal to the worst angels of human nature.

It’s as if I began a rumor that Thomas Sowell and Rush Limbaugh were homosexual lovers, and then lamented in print, “Did you imagine a year ago that you would see Thomas and Rush at the gay pride parade dressed as Barney Frank?  Does any of that sound like conservatism?”

Mr. Sowell asks his readers, “How much of America would be left if the federal government continued on this path?”  And later says,

What would be the role of a national police force created by Barack Obama, with all its leaders appointed by him? It would seem more like the brown shirts of dictators than like anything American.

He follows that inflammatory rhetoric with this:

How far the president will go depends, of course, on how much resistance he meets.

It is only fair to ask, after all of this sizzling propaganda, just what kind of resistance is Mr. Sowell advocating?  What kind of subtle message is he sending to people who buy into the ongoing narrative that Obama is not just insufficiently American, but that he is anti-American?

Sowell ends his hate-piece by telling us that President Obama has “contempt for American values,” and wonders whether “enough people will wake up in time to keep America from being dismantled, piece by piece…” 

Wake up and do what, Mr. Sowell?

Missouri Republicans Suggest “Opting Out” of Medicaid

The Joplin Globe published an editorial today that attempted to reveal some of the ideas of our “Republican House leadership” on the issue of pending health care reform legislation and its effects on Missouri.

However, the editorial succeeded only in revealing the idea that our Republican “leadership” is contemplating “opting out” of the Medicaid program.

The editorial began:

Last week, Lt. Gov. Pete Kinder estimated that if national health care reform as currently envisioned in Washington is passed, it will require additional funding from Missouri in the range of $450 million.

During a Globe editorial board meeting Monday with the Republican House leadership, those attending were asked if they thought that was an accurate assessment of potential impact on the state and how it would find the funds to meet that challenge. The answers were startling.

Startling is right.

Among the more startling was the following:

The board was also told that Medicaid is a voluntary program for states and the federal government to “share” costs of health care for the low-income. States have the option to not participate. It was suggested that if federal health care requirements for additional state funding reached unmanageable levels, the state would have to consider “opting out” of Medicaid.

The editorial did not reveal just who made the “suggestion” that opting out of Medicaid was a possibility, nor did the paper indicate that abandoning Medicaid was a consensus view of those legislators present.  And I have not seen a news story account of this “startling” bit of news.  So, we are left to imagine who said what and just what would trigger such a drastic move on the part of our elected leaders. 

Where’s the story?

The Globe needs to report to us the details of the discussion between the editorial board and the legislators who attended the meeting, particularly the details surrounding the fear mongering related to the Medicaid program.  Such reporting would be of major interest around our state, and people need to know just what our “leaders” are thinking.

Since Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has already suggested that closing prisons and universities were among the possible Republican responses to health care reform legislation, I suppose it’s not so far-fetched to imagine Republicans would now threaten to punish people on Medicaid.

But we at least should know who it was that brought it up, and exactly under what circumstances it might become a reality.

And the Joplin Globe has the responsibility to find out and then inform its readers.

Joltin’ Joe

Democrats are upset that Joe Lieberman is threatening to betray them again by suggesting he may join a Republican filibuster of health care reform legislation.  But it shouldn’t be a surprise that Joltin’ Joe would do his business that way. 

On November 4 of last year, Lieberman appeared on the Glenn Beck show to tell Glenn how “proud” he was of the paranoid broadcaster.  But before he did so, he expressed his “fear” that the Dem’s would have a filibuster-proof majority:

GLENN: Do you agree that with Senator Hatch — I’ve only got a minute before a network break. I hope we can hold you here. But do you agree that Senator Hatch said to me that if we don’t at least have the firewall of the filibuster in the Senate that in many ways America will not survive.

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: Well, I hope it’s not like that, but I fear. And I think for some of us there is a key. You know, it gets a bad name but it was really put there, a 60-vote requirement as somebody said to me when I first came to the Senate, stop the passions of a moment among the people of America from sweeping across the congress, the House, to the Senate and to a like minded President and having us do things that will change America for a long time. So the filibuster is one of the great protections we have. Glenn, I apologize. I’m running to go out with Senator McCain. We’re going to Colorado.

GLENN: Best of luck.

SENATOR LIEBERMAN: I’m real proud of you. I remember you back when.

GLENN: Thanks a lot. Bye-bye.

So, if Joe joins his Republican friends, he is merely ensuring that America “survives” the ravages of the party he used to belong to, and the party that gave him shelter in the form of a committee chairmanship.

Thanks a lot, Joe. Bye-bye.

The Good Shepard

Another example of why Shep Smith is the only tolerable mug on Fox “News”:

The Hatch Act

Rush Limbaugh call your office.  Orrin Hatch is stealing your shtick. 

Today on Morning Meeting with Dylan Ratigan, the senior Republican senator from Utah said the following:

One of the big goals of the whole Democratic Party is to move people into that category—the bottom 50% that basically don’t pay taxes—and a high percentage of them get money from the federal government, who think everything they are or ever hope to be comes from the almighty Democratic Party.

Such disgusting rhetoric usually flows from the mouths of the right-wing talkers, as they perform daily for the 5% of Americans who gather under the circus tent of extremism.

But since the Republican Party has almost totally succumbed to the extremist performance artists, it shouldn’t be surprising that “respected” figures within the party have joined their act, like circus elephants, and dutifully make such offensive—and false—statements about not only Democrats, but about exactly one half of the American people.

Just for the record, everyone pays taxes.  Even if one is part of the 43% who don’t have any federal income tax liability, there are still state income taxes and fees, county taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes (like on gasoline), and the taxes that are hidden in the price of goods and services.

Orrin HatchSo, not only has Senator Hatch insulted the Democratic Party and the American people by accusing half of them of freeloading and placing “everything they are or ever hope to be” in the hands of the Democrats, he has done so by bearing false witness—which used to be against Mormon sensibilities.

But then, again, so did monogamy.  

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